Monday, June 30, 2014

Only Wild Horses Could Drag Me Back to Using a Term as Boring as “Decluttering”

So far this month, I’ve feng shui-ed a closet and a shelf in my fridge. I’ve moved on to feng shui-ing the top of my desk.

Good feng shui: fresh flowers
Although the ones displayed above are on their last legs, they’ve stayed alive for 9 days and have really had it good. I’ve run way behind schedule at least 3 times to clean their vases, feed them (homemade flower food: 2 tblps sugar, 2 tblps vinegar, 4 cups water), and tend to their other needs before leaving them on their own for the day. Can’t wait to replace them with sunflowers.

Bad feng shui: 

They’re the parts for a Nikon digital camera I bought 2 years ago and have never used. 
I stared and made flustered faces at the unexpected pile of parts that came with the camera for several weeks before unexpectedly getting my first iphone, which soon became all the camera I need. I now have no use for a Nikon and neither does anyone in my circle - they have iphones too. When people stop me on the street to take a picture of them, they hand me an iphone. I haven’t handled a real camera in years.

Email me if you or anyone you know wants a small, purple, price-negotiable camera and matching carrying case. Opening an Ebay account would mean squeezing another username and password onto the log-in information list I keep in my day planner. Bad feng shui.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why I Might Organize a Senior Social in My Building’s Main Lobby

One afternoon a couple of years ago, I returned home to find a supremely strung-out dude buzzing up the intercom panel on my building’s front porch. He asked if I knew a guy on the sixth floor whose name I didn’t recognize but I’m pretty sure I know who he meant; he’s really nice, possibly around 70 years old. The person pacing the porch worked with this sixth-floor neighbor, who has a heart problem, and said no one in their workplace had seen or heard anything from or about him in a week, so this co-worker came by to check on him. On the elevator ride up, he mentioned how nervous he was about what he might smell when he reached the apartment’s door. I haven’t run into that neighbor since.

I live in a building filled with people, representing every adult age bracket, who live alone. People I’ve only ever seen alone. It’s the sight of the chronically-flying-solo elderly ones that distresses me to distraction.

Last night, I caught up with an elderly one who has survived breast cancer, uterine cancer, horrible seasonal allergies. She’s recovering from a major surgery and has deep relationships with many people, old and young, near and far. When she said she’s tired of them constantly calling and visiting her, in sickness and in health, I couldn’t feel sorry for her.

Monday, June 16, 2014

If You’re on a Low-Carb Diet, This May Not Be the Content For You

I have to be in the mood for a bagel. If I were sentenced to a lifetime of never touching one again, I bet I’d be OK.

Growing up in a bagel-loving household, almost 500 miles west of New York City, bagels were always around. Friday nights, on her way home from work, my mom brought back a dozen from a stall in Cleveland’s West Side Market that, until last month, I assumed were authentic New York City bagels, considering the degree of glorification they received. Turns out they came from Canada and just “tasted more like New York bagels” than other availabilities in our parts.

As soon as the cream cheese gets spread on, they all taste the same to me. I like doughnuts.

My dad sometimes won’t spread anything onto one. He’ll eat them like apples. One birthday or Father’s Day I sent him a dozen from H&H Bagels, when I lived an avenue away from its Upper West Side location, and he said he’d never chewed better. It’s what most people said when they tried one. Years ago, when that H&H went out of business, I thought it meant the entire H&H empire erupted.

Last week, while thinking about what to send my dad this Father’s Day, I remembered how much he fancied that shipment of New York City bagels. I came close to shipping out a dozen from another place that’s probably not as good, making it through the first steps of an online checkout. Before pulling out my Visa card, something made me google “H&H Bagels,” for inspiration. I found a page for an H&H on the East Side and assumed it was outdated, but when I dialed its out-of-state delivery number someone picked up after two rings, eager to efficiently take my order and personalize a card. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Two Questions You Should Never Ask Most People You Know, Much Less a Stranger

A sightseer from Arizona ambushed me on Sixth Avenue during evening rush hour last week, asking for directions to “the pier.” I asked which one. She didn’t care. Realizing this was someone who mostly wanted to stand around in the hustle and the bustle (and the heat) to chat about anything, I pointed westward and told her to walk in a straight line until she hit the river.

The “walk in a straight line” business could explain why she then confessed she’d just had two glasses of wine. I’m glad she came clean about the drinking (and yes, Virginia, there really are people who get bombed from 2 weak drinks) because it made me more patient. Until she asked how much rent I pay.

Whenever someone I’m not extremely close to asks: (1) how much rent I pay; or (2) how much money I make, I tell myself the next time it happens, I’ll chuckle it off and say, “We don’t talk about money, darling.” But I always end up blurting out the exact dollar amount, forever taken aback by either question when it comes.

She needed to know what I do for a living, which is such a Northeast Corridor thing to ask someone you’ve known for less than 5 minutes. When I said I was an editor, she lit up.

“For who?” she asked, and I told her that too.

“Never heard of it,” she answered, in a tone and with a frown suggesting it was my fault she hasn’t heard of it. Which, given one of my many job duties, it very well might be. Knowing the salary question was up next, I gave her a big smile, wished her luck, and walked a little faster toward my humble (in terms of everything but price) abode.

Monday, June 2, 2014

And This Is Merely a Partial List

Earlier this year, I regifted a set of never-used wrist weights to someone who later reported that a houseguest of hers “glommed onto” them. There wasn’t enough time or privacy to look up “glom onto” on the spot, and I thought she and the houseguest were onto me about regifting.

“Where did you find them?” she asked, wild-eyed. That’s when I knew I was in the clear, that glom was good. The weights came from either the Chelsea or Upper West Side T.J. Maxx, originally bought as a gift to myself, for under $15.

It amazes me how many Americans don’t shop at T.J. Maxx or Marshalls. It doesn’t amaze me how many European tourists crowd the racks of the Chelsea T.J. Maxx in particular, fiendishly filling up shopping carts with marked-down casualwear. I have happy memories of stopping by T.J. Maxx with my mother in high school, and going there with friends after a late-afternoon class and an early Chili’s dinner in college.

I’m further amazed by how many bargain-hunting virgins think these two stores only carry clothes, shoes, and handbags, unaware that T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are also places to fall into quality:

*Vases, ranging from simple to stunning;


*Umbrellas with pretty prints;


*Tupperware, Pyrex products, kitchen utensils, pots and pans. I found a Baccarat French press at Marshalls that cost less than any French press at the Target store, two floors below;

*Bathroom-sink hand soap – my current bottle smells like wild lavender; in reverse chronological order, my last three scents were pear, holly berry, and pumpkin spice;

*Yoga mats;     
*Jewelry - in a T.J. Maxx on Long Island, a loved one (at the time) suddenly exclaimed that “T.J. MAXX IS THE BEST PLACE TO BUY JEWELRY!” She also once tried to convince me that the nursery school across the street from my apartment building is a methadone clinic;

*Olive oil, including huge $10 Sicilian imports, tasting much like the blends I sampled in Sicily;

*Miscellaneous goods along the checkout line, en route to the cash register, where (in addition to the omnipresent bags of Jelly Bellies), I’ve found $3 bottles of Essie nail polish and a 5-pound bag of coffee more potent than Starbucks.