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I feel as if I wrote this in another world. In many ways it was!
Happy New Year. It’s a beautiful day. I hope that bodes well for the coming year. Were my mom on this earth she would tell me to get out and take a walk. But I was in Central Park until one Am last night, so she might have excused me on those grounds.
We walked passed Tavern on The Green. Last year there had been ice sculptures and everybody was allowed into the grounds. This year it was balmy and Benny E King was singing outside in the courtyard of the restaurant. Remember him from early childhood “There is a rose in Spanish Harlem.” and other great ’50′s song.
At the band-shell there was a DJ who basically played techno music when he wasn’t playing Frank’s version of “New York, New York.” There was hot chocolate, tea, coffee, a mini-marathon, and the night reminded me of everything that’s good about New York. The crowds were further downtown. We had our own fireworks in the park.
I’m the dodo who asked Lucia and Little Luce what time the fireworks would be. Glad I could be of some amusement value.
I had a bottle of Moet left over from the election. It was the bottle of champagne we were going to celebrate with. (Not the double L’s; it was a school night and Lucia usually stays home when Little Luce has to go to school the next day.)
When I was growing up my parents would go out every New Years to a fancy dress party or costume party. My parents went out every Saturday and I assumed that I would when I grew up.
Well I got married without ever having been on a real date and we had known each other for four years so I don’t know why I thought I would live a sophisticated life.
Okay, we had gone out on about five real dates, but even back in the late ’60′s early ’70′s we traveled in packs. Our idea of a big evening was sitting around looking at each other; our idea of a really big evening was sneaking into the Fillmore East before the main act. (I know that we girls passed for groupies; but I’m not sure what the boys passed for, probably roadies–I mean rock stars, of course.) Or going with a minimum of 20 people to Hong Fat in Chinatown at two AM and running into 40 more people we knew.
I’m thinking about this because the first time I remember meeting INYTBA (an affectionate acronym) was at the Band-shell though we lived on Long Island; and had met there many times. I think the Jefferson Airplane was playing.
The spring before, when I was still in high school, I had seen Country Joe & The Fish “One two three four what are we fighting for,” there. I thought about those lyrics a lot last night. All these years later and I’m wondering again, and the country is polarized once more. I thought about the Band-shell, Central Park, the Be-In’s, the many concerts I have seen there and all the other ways Central Park has been important to me.
I did end up living a somewhat sophisticated life for a number of years. When I lived across from the park in the East 60′s I would have a small New Years Eve party every year for six to ten of my best friends. Then I would have a
First Saturday After New Years Party or Lucia’s Annual Surprise Birthday Party for anywhere from 75 to 200 people. The parties would end somewhere about dawn. I don’t pine for them or the times but sometimes think that somebody else was living my life. I couldn’t have known all those people. Me? But I did.
My friend Patrick would have fancy dress dinners with five courses, and many forks. As my father had been a waiter summers during high school and college, I could set a perfect table by the age of eight.
But Patrick would get so crazed that Lucia or I would use the wrong fork, I would use a wrong fork on purpose just to see his reaction. Patrick and his lover would buy huge tins of Beluga caviar something I proudly hate, and I would feed Patrick my portion by slipping him my portion, by putting my spoon into his hand under the table, so I was never uncouth. It was fun watching Patrick being scared that we would embarrass him in front of his friends from Sutton Place.
I thought about Patrick last night and all the free operas and symphony’s we had attended in The Park.
My Central Park history goes back so long I don’t remember ever not knowing it. My dad would take fave sis and I to climb on rocks–just like the ones he had climbed on when he was growing up in East Harlem, and Central Park was his backyard. Only we wouldn’t go to the northern part of the park then because it wasn’t safe. It is now.
It felt great to be in a place that brings back pleasurable memories and to know that Little Luce was storing her memories in her memory bank to be handed down to still another generation.
It felt great to get away from the real world and its problems for a few hours.
Even the anti-war memories were filtered through a hazed over moon.
3WW–Three words on a Wednesday
There are times in life we know something important is happening or about to happen in our immediate life: high school graduation; the first day of college; meeting the person we will love; etc. But there are times that the unexpected happens and something, maybe small maybe large, happens we will treasure forever.
October 17, 1977 could have been just another day in my life. I was taking grad classes at The New School in poli sci and wondering what I was going to do with a fairly useless Masters when a friend, David, asked me if I wanted to apply for a job in the company he was temping at. He was convinced that the supervisors and co-workers were anti-Semitic and wanted my input. I just wanted a job. There was a recession that had begun in 73 and wasn’t going to end until 82. For the first time we had stagflation and there were more college grads than there were “suitable” jobs for especially in New York and Boston, the only two cities I truly knew.
The interview was short and sweet as the job was supposed to last six weeks. I would be coding documents on anyone or all of 40+ suits against AT&T, then the only real phone company. The largest case was The Department of Justice who was suing AT&T for being a monopoly. AT&T and its subsidiaries, especially Western Electric had factored out the coding to the company I would work for Aspen Systems. If a Western Electric employee coded documents they were paid at least $25,000 a year plus benefits. We were paid $5.00 an hour, no benefits. But $5.00 an hour was enough to pay my rent with money left over.
And together David and I were going to uncover anti-Semitism. The Viet Nam war was over; I needed a cause. My college friends in Boston had scattered all over the globe. It wasn’t that I was sick of my New York college friends, but I wanted more friends. My best girl friend Shelby had gotten every girl she knew but me a job at her publishing company. It was a gesture that spoke volumes. Our friendship had always been tempestuous. Years before, for a brief moment during the Watergate hearings we had been roommates in Sea Cliff, LI. She threw a crystal ashtray at me; I threw it back.
The ashtray had been a gift to me but she ended up with it. Like Shelby it was very beautiful. She probably thought she deserved it. I didn’t speak to her for almost two years. But like the cliff swallows of Capistrano, I seemed to unwittingly find my way back to Shelby. I was sick of it.
At 27 I was already divorced. The summer of 77 had been one of the craziest ever in New York and I was glad to be alive to talk about it.
My new temp job was downtown; across the street from Saint Paul’s. Much later it would become famous for being a refuge for 9/11 workers. Then it was the adjunct church to Trinity and a beautiful building to look at during work.
I loved training. AT&T had a well deserved rep for being one of the best corporate trainers. I was in a group of twelve; the next week we would join 228 other coders plus supervisors and managers in a large room on the fourth floor. To get into the fourth floor we needed a card key, the second I had ever seen. Our card keys had our picture on them along with identifying information. I so wish I hadn’t lost as it was the one picture ID I truly loved. I could and did look at that picture for hours.
Who was that girl? I wish I known to treasure her; to respect both her body and her mind for it was a sharp one. As usual I downplayed my accomplishments. Excelling at training? It was easy. Too easy. A trained parrot could read the documents and put the required info onto the document control sheets.
The Yankees won the 77 World Series that Wednesday. They hadn’t won a world series since the early 60′s and had been given one ticker tape parade for a series they had lost. This ticker tape parade would be the first one for a series they actually won.
I joined some coworkers and watched it from the main floor’s windows. People kept smiling at me and saying hello. This is a horrible admission but I expected people to be friendly, to want to know me. I wouldn’t have known how to start a conversation if somebody didn’t begin one with me. I wouldn’t have known that a guy wanted to date me if he didn’t blurt it out.
David was one of the few single straight men I didn’t date at Aspen. Six weeks turned into three years and then I worked for a spin off, with promotion after promotion. I forgot to look for anti-Semites as I made friend after friend, and slowly extracted myself from Shelby and her world.
This sounded so good when I wrote it in my head yesterday. The words were perfect for it so I can’t blame them. This memoir is driving me bonkers. I know so much is in my blog–needs much editing but first the HTML in the older posts needs cleaning and I’m going to have bite the bullet and pay way too much money. I really love writing fiction but won’t let myself until this is finished. I’m going to have my own NaMem__month! I’m sorry that this doesn’t flow the way I would like it to. Any suggestions are more than valued.
My book’s about an imperfect girl who lived in New York in the 70′s and 80′s and often felt that her life was one huge fairy tale. She didn’t take the roads more traveled or the straight roads with the great pavements and wonderful lighting (interstates, I guess) but the windy curvy side roads that often lead you to someplace new and not necessarily great, or even more magnificent than you could imagine. It’s also about a girl, the same one, who has an invisible disability but she didn’t know she was “disabled” until her late 30′s and didn’t know the name until three years ago. By necessity it goes into childhood to show how the problems first manifested.
I don’t want to make this a “disability” memoir as while my life was affected by the disability I lived, worked and played in an “able” society, with the “able” society’s rules. Perhaps this was unfair but I like to think it made me more interesting. Hence the problems will usually be on the side, unstated and occasionally take center stage
Thanks Thom for the words
“Mr Linky” is linking to this rather than this post
The Bronx, winter 1969
I don’t know where we are exactly. Some community with hills and old uncared for wood frame houses. Literally that’s what much of the Bronx looks like; the parts that aren’t all old apartment buildings in horrible condition, Riverdale, Country Club (the two very good areas) or Coop City the newish giant complex of buildings that all look exactly alike and unfortunately were built over Freedom Land–an amusement park on a map of the USA that I loved.
I’m not sure why I’m here either. I convinced some friends to spend the night at Tricia Levy’s. She’s older than us. Tough. Shoots dope and hoops with equal vigor. She dropped out before I began the previous September. Many of my school friends are drop outs. Segal, student body president, is in love with her. He hates me for reasons I don’t understand. He’s not with us.
Really I’m pissed at my off and on boyfriend, Noah, who set out to visit Tricia with some other friends that didn’t include me. I don’t understand why we break up every three weeks. I found the secret to getting him back but I don’t share this info with anybody including myself. It’s sort of subliminal.
We spend hours smoking dope. Noah leaves with a few friends. I stay with Jacy and Jake, her boyfriend, who I had convinced to come with me. They go to sleep in a closet. Jacy’s one of my crew of gorgeous girlfriends. We all hang out with boys and happen to get along. People type us girls as tight and I guess we’re as tight as any girls who only care about boys can be.
Noah’s best friend Henry who never smokes dope or does anything that wouldn’t be parent approved stays with me. I adore Henry who later I will hurt as I never hurt anybody before or since. The guilt remains to this day.
The apartment has very little furniture but too much pop art consisting of straight lines, squiggly lines and neon for my taste. I find a sleeping bag and get ready to go to sleep. Henry takes a sleeping bag next to me. Somebody hands me a glass of Kool Aid. Too damn sweet but I’m thirsty so I drink the whole thing.
I wake up in the early morning. The sun shimmers into the apartment. The posters look immense. Something’s wrong. The lines are moving. The colors are too bright. Everything’s moving. I feel as if I can’t stand or walk yet I do as well as I do normally.
I try telling Henry that something’s very wrong but I can barely talk. Henry hates eating out, hates food really, but for once in his life he wants to go to a restaurant. I just want to go home and somehow convey that.
When I get back to school Segal finds me. He wants a full report on the night and morning. I’m not sure how he knew I went to Tricia’s. I’m better and beyond angry:
You want to know? You really want to know? I’m feeling the effect of Acid right now. Acid that I didn’t f–king want. Your f–king girlfriend. She gave me the Kool Aid. I’m going to kill her. Kill her if it’s the last thing I do.
Segal immediately becomes madder than hell at Tricia. He says he no longer loves her. He falls in love or lust or something with me. I let him take me out, take me to demonstrations in DC in his Jag, but I won’t sleep with him. Never.
This is an excerpt that will expanded upon.
|I wrote this post years ago. Daniel Patrick Columbia picked it up, and I like the pictures so here….My sister claims I’m still a go to person about New York though I no longer live there and she’s a self-professed nit-picker so….
I will make this into a page and scan in my cover story in The Long Island Press
Courting Destiny lives! But the book comes first
Illustration: Bob Schulenberg.
|By Pia Savage
I can’t remember when but my mom told me that Tiffany’s second floor was a secret passed on from mother to daughter. I believed her because I believed everything that my mother said. While her mother was a not-poor but not affluent immigrant she had incredible taste and always knew what to do, so she might have told my mother.
Tiffany’s second floor was where you could pick up less expensive wedding and hostess gifts. They were always in good taste, and welcomed because of the blue Tiffany box. The gifts weren’t original, but I have a huge multi-faceted crystal paperweight that had been given to my parents, and they gave to me as I collect glass and crystal.
I stopped going to Tiffany’s in the early ’80’s when many unique gift stores opened on Lexington Avenue that were funky and more to my taste.
Then there was Alexander’s, oh how do I get from Tiffany’s to Alexander’s? Well the Manhattan Alexander’s – across 59th Street from Bloomingdale’s where the Bloomberg building is today. It was just a three block walk from Tiffany but a world apart.
When my sister and I were young, every year the night before school began our family would drive to the Alexander’s in Rego Park. There would be a five mile back-up on both sides of the Long Island Expressway.
I never understood this ritual, nor liked it, but our parents seemed to love it. Clothes were of great importance to my parents. So was the physical act of being in a store
Alexander’s had everything: from school supplies to winter coats. I thought that everybody bought their clothes there.
When we moved to “real” Long Island, as opposed to the edge of Northeast Queens, I quickly found out that my sister and I dressed all wrong. The girls in our new school had worn clothes from Best & Company in elementary school, and now, in Seventh Grade, wore Villager clothes and Papagallo shoes from The Miracle Mile in Manhasset. We begged and begged for our mom to buy us clothes from some store other than Alexander’s but she refused.
|Alexander’s in the 1950s. Lehman College Library, CUNY.
|I was allowed to buy my own clothes the next year so it wasn’t as much of an issue as I made it into, and my decades of black and purple began. My mother loved black but my father thought that it looked all wrong on a thirteen year old. There were rules then about age appropriate clothes. Fortunately they were beginning to be broken.He would moan about his daughter in perpetual mourning. I thought that was such a Catholic thing to say, and he was so culturally Jewish.
Later, in the 1970’s when I moved to the East 60s just off Fifth, and my parents had seen much of the world she said, I found that there was no place like Alexander’s for pocketbooks, pantyhose, underwear, and even some clothes. It was worth the half hour wait on line. No matter how many salespeople there were, and how few customers, the wait was always half hour.
I did form many friendships while waiting on line at Alexander’s. The lines were so slow; I could know a woman’s life story and she could know half of mine before even reaching the register. When I wasn’t in a good mood, and was crazed over the lines, I could scream like a crazy woman at the sales people and the assistant to the assistant manager. This was considered normative behavior at Alexander’s. At any one time half the line would be screaming:
“What’s going on?” “That girl’s so stupid…”
“I could be halfway to Europe by now…”
“Do they only hire retarded people here?”
“Why am I standing here with 20 pairs of pantyhose, 30 pieces of underpants, a pocketbook…” The voices would all be on top of each other.
In a world before designer bags became the norm, Alexander’s had exceptional pocketbooks that looked like they cost a fortune, were unusual, and so great that rich women would stop me on the street and ask where I bought my bag.
Other girls would lie, not me: “Uh, Alexander’s?”
“That can’t be from Alexander’s. Look at the detail on the leather and the velvet. So intricate.”
“But I want that pocketbook, and, well you know, Alexander’s…”
“I know but it’s worth it.”
“Oh dear, I’ll have to send Laverne.” (Or whoever the housekeeper was.)
While I was in many ways a recovering hippie, I had a look that could fit in anywhere.
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|When I was 26, in 1977, Fred the Furrier at Alexander’s had been opened for a year. This was before PETA, and the animal rights movement.
My then best friend Shelby had a raccoon coat from Fred’s. Because Shelby had bought a raccoon coat most of our other girlfriends bought one also.
I wanted something more luxe, something signifying that I had arrived and was no longer a hippie — though at night I was a post- glam-rock-punk girl which did entail much black, lurex, and makeup. I had a watch made out of huge sterling safety pins, and wore it everywhere.
One day my dad and I met at Fred’s so that he could buy me my birthday present. I was 26 and half way to 27. This was not only expected but accepted in our family that after 25 we would get much more lavish presents such as a trip to Europe, or in this case, a fur coat. I wanted Sable but would accept Mink.
We began looking at coats. It took us less than two minutes to realize that neither of us knew anything about fur.
“So, do you like that one?” (Any conversation with my parents involved many “so’s.” For a long time I thought that it was really a Yiddish word and the only one my parents would use in conversation with us.)
“Yick, it’s too fluffy, and I don’t know, there’s something…let’s look at the minks.”
We began looking at the minks. My father started asking the sales people questions. He had an amazing shtick that always worked: (this was pre PC days, too.)
My dad did what he always did when he was confused: he would run to me or my mom. Since I was confused also, he went to the nearest pay phone and called my mom.
“So she wants a mink…”
“So is it full skin?”
“Uh, what’s full skin…”
“Wait right there. I’m coming in,” she told him. She was on Long Island.
Of course we couldn’t wait there while she drove to the train station, took the next train, then a cab because it was a special occasion, and went up the slowest escalator in the world to Fred the Furriers at Alexander’s. Yes even the elevators and escalators were slow at Alexander’s.
So we went to a restaurant next door in Bloomingdale’s to wait. My father had an unnatural love for department store food. He insisted that the food was better, fresher and that there were less calories.I was always meeting him for lunch in one department store or another.
Orbach’s on 34th Street was his personal favorite. It was even less classy than Alexander’s, didn’t have as good stuff, but did have better lines. All the waitresses knew him by name:
Actually a walk through many department stores with my dad was an incredible experience. Wherever we went, the sales people knew him by name and would rush from their customers to greet him.
My dad was a successful CPA with an office at home, and one in the city. I could never figure out where he had the time to meet so many sales people, in every store from the old Barney’s to Bergdorf’s.
“Well, Pia, in life you should always take the time to meet as many people as possible.” Then he would make a facial expression that was somewhere in between a grimace and a grin. “Look, most of them don’t make much money, and people treat them so rudely….”
“Oh, Max, you just love the attention they give you.” I never called him “dad” or “daddy” in public, as he insisted that my sister and I call him Max.
By the time we finished lunch at Bloomingdale’s, my mom was waiting for us at Fred’s. We spotted her deep in conversation with Fred himself!
“So where did you eat lunch?” she asked (translation: “I told you to wait for me here.”) My mom was nothing if not sweet and blunt. She held the patent on sweet and blunt; I have somewhat mastered it but could never be like Marian.
|Supposedly Jewish girls are taught about full skinned furs in the cradle. This was another part of my education that my mom had overlooked. She had been too busy teaching us values, and why people like my parents should be called “progressive,” and never “Communist” or the dreaded “Socialist.”
My mom’s family had been Communists; my dad’s had been Socialists, which is why it was the dreaded word, though she did love most of my dad’s family. By now my dad was a neo-con while my mom was becoming progressively more progressive. I thought that the mink would be an easy sell as my mom’s had cost $10,000 and had been especially made for her at a furriers. Fred’s minks averaged around $2,500.
She looked at me bluntly and said: “You can’t buy a mink coat.’
“You have to be 35. If you’re under 35 you have to be married with children.”
“But I’ve been married. I never want to be married again.’
“Don’t say that.” We weren’t religious but knew every superstition. I could hear a silent Kinehora. (A Yiddish term like “knock on wood”)
“Minks are classy. They always look good.”
“You’re only 26. People will think the wrong things if you wear one.”
“You know, things.”
“Ma, uh Marian, I live off Fifth. People already think the wrong things. Do you know how many doormen at the hotels ask if I’d like to earn some money?”
She shot me a look filled with both disdain and pride. My mom was short and cute. I wasn’t tall, but everybody thought that I was. In the dressing room at Loehman’s she was always making people admire my breasts, waist and hips. I wanted her legs. She still wore mini skirts, and looked darn good in them.
“So, you see?”
I knew when to accept defeat. My always talkative father remained silent throughout this exchange. Fred kept on smiling. We fit his target market: successful parents; young daughter on her way up. He told me that a pretty girl like me would be back with my next husband within a few years to buy the most expensive Mink or even a Sable.
I finally settled on a dyed Nutria with a huge Opossum collar. Nutria’s are swamp rats found in some Southern States and in South America. It was a beautiful coat. I wore it with everything for the next fifteen years. It looked especially good with straight legged jeans. Though I hated winter, I loved being able to throw the coat on over my jeans and sweater, put on some lipstick, sunglasses, and walk around looking all high cotton.
People who didn’t know fur thought that it was a Mink. My Nutria was, of course, full skinned.
When I moved out of Manhattan for awhile in 1991, I gave the coat to a neighborhood homeless woman. If it didn’t make her as happy as it made me, I hope it kept her warm.
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“You’re such a disappointment.”
Who the hell are you, I thought but didn’t say. Oh I knew her well. One of the biggest bitches in the city, and the woman people thought was one of my closest of close friends.
She was beautiful. The woman who had borne a rock star his last and favorite child. She didn’t have to do anything but be beautiful. Her life work was decorating his life with color and wit. She wasn’t brash. No, her style was more hit them with kindness. Everybody but me, of course. I saw through her faux kindness. She would bring soup to sick people. Visit everybody’s old aunt. Everybody’s but mine. My relatives weren’t even supposed to be seen by me. I was supposed to accompany her on her mercy missions.
I was supposed to be famous. I was so bright. Such a good writer. Pretty too. The brilliantly wrapped package had a carpenter’s ant or bee hole in one corner causing it to be imperfect. The sparkle was ruined.
My motto had always been, “I live to make your life easier.” As long as I was solving other peoples problems and had no issues of my own I was much desired as a dinner guest, movie to travel companion. But once I brought up any problems or couldn’t fix others I was damaged goods. It was easier to play the saint role.
“You’re such a disappointment,” rings through my head at the oddest times. I wonder how many other people thought or think it but have a bit more class than she does. I walked out of her life the night she said those words.
She contacted me several times. I couldn’t help but think she was trying to lubricate her way back into my life. Not push; not shove nor be nice about it but she acted like a snake that was pretending its venom was harmless.
A lot happened in the ten years since she berated me. My life once again began to belong to me. I wrote a book.
We ran into each other at a Christmas party. The rock star looked old and tired. She had too much work.
My fiancee began to introduce us. I laughed: This is Shelby, my college roommate. I guess I forgot to mention that she lives with Nick.
To Shelby I said I only tell stories about us in college. Everything else is too boring.
If her face could have moved she would have looked at me with horror.
A friend, not at all like Shelby, who I first met at 12 began a blog this week. ChictoChick
Lexington Avenue has always been my favorite Avenue on the East Side of Manhattan. It’s the only neighborhoody one, and still has small non-chain stores and too many coffee houses for safety. I was killing time before going to the dentist and didn’t want to stain my teeth even more than I thought they were.
I passed a Mitzvah Mobile, or van with ultra Orthodox Jews, out to make sure Jews comply with the laws of Pesach (Passover.) A young man asked if I was Jewish. I smiled and continued up the street. Then thought why not speak to them? I walked back. “Yes. I. Am.”
“Do you know the story of Passover.”
I was a bit insulted as my family had a real Seder every year since I was fifteen. We were heathens before daddy got religion when we went to visit Orthodox relatives in Mobile AL. Not really heathens but we never belonged to a temple and had elaborate family dinners for Jewish holidays–only the major ones. Very major ones. We ate bacon at home but never other pork dishes. That was for Chinese restaurants.
“Of course I know about Passover.” Everybody cheered when it was my turn to read because I speed read the sections as fast as my mouth would work. But I do love the story. Before the meal there is the seder.
“But do you know what it really means?”
“It means overcoming the impossible.”
I thought about that. I knew he was speaking the language of spiritualism and trying to get people like me to really celebrate but still I liked that.
I also liked the matzahs he gave me. Homemade from Brooklyn they easily cost $18-$21 in a store.
I continued my saunter down Lexington Avenue. I passed a Mexican store that seemed to specialize in Oaxacan things, at least that’s how it looked in the window.
“Wow this is nice. I spent high school summers in Oaxaca.”
The owner looked me up and down. I almost stuck out my teeth so she could inspect them. The stuff in the store was cheesy and not up to my former 15-16 year old standards. As much as I love color and I learned about color from living in Oaxaca, I like my Mexican pottery and figurines to be brown or made from Oaxacan black pottery. OK I’m a snob. A total snob.
“Did you live with the Sciaky’s?”
“Yes I did.” The Sciaky husband was an anthropologist who died before my time and Mrs Sciaky was a great woman who accepted “interesting girls,” who had to read many books before coming for the summer. Once there we were immersed in the culture, and truly learned about a culture so different from our own.
It turned out that the owner hadn’t been a Sciaky girl but had a college roommate who was. We knew absolutely nobody in common and I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy though I felt almost compelled to. I did ask for a card, then realized I was going to be late to the dentist if I didn’t get out of the store.
After the dentist finished I asked him a question that had been burning through my brain since I had been to the Mitzvah Mobile.
“I noticed about five Mitzvah Mobile’s. They give that great homemade matzah. Is it ethical if I go to more than one so I can have matzah’s for every house I go to while I’m in New York?”
My dentist was very excited at the thought of free homemade matzah. (I can’t think of its name.) He said: “Only if it makes you a profit?”
“One year I had an Orthodox patient who had all permanent implants. As you know implants are made from plastic.”
Passover laws are even more strict than regular Jewish laws. Many Orthodox people have two kitchens. One just for Passover. Other people go away for the holidays. Then there are the rest of us….But still this man was all ferklempt because meat and dairy dishes can never be eaten at the same meal. For Passover, well I’m not sure, but he wanted my dentist to take out his implants. My dentist refused. The man went even crazier. Finally he consulted his Rabbi.
The Rabbi’s decision was thus: Implants are Kosher for Passover if he paid the dentist twice. Once for meat; once for dairy. My dentist was paid twice for full mouth implants. Normally people have to raid the family store or borrow money for one set of implants.
I know this is a hard story to believe but years ago I was waiting to pay at the gynecologist’s office. The billing clerk was having a very hard time with the woman in front of me, an ultra Orthodox Jew. Finally the clerk said ” the thirteenth is free–like a baker’s dozen.” It turned out that the woman went into labor during the High Holidays and didn’t want to go to the hospital. Therefore the doctor wasn’t charging her for the labor he didn’t participate in or the follow up visits. And they knew she would be back the next year and for all the rest of her child-bearing years.
After I left the dentist I walked around the city looking for Mitzvah Mobiles. Unfortunately it was after five PM and the next day was Friday when they were preparing for both Shabbos (the sabbath) and pre-Passover. I didn’t realize that the whole day was a sort of holiday and spent it walking the windy freezing weather looking for matzah.
Passover has always been my favorite holiday, aside from Thanksgiving so this story was written with much love.
It wasn’t only windy and freezing that day but the first three days I was in New York. Then it rained. And rained. And rained.
I’m so happy to be home where Eldon, the house husband, is adding to my downstairs deck.
Something happened to me when I was in NY. Maybe it was seeing Rafe not once but three times. Maybe it was…I have no idea what. I realized how stupid it is to worry about what might be in the future. I finally understood the concept of living in the moment.
I’m happy. Truly happy. The kind of happiness you feel when spring has sprung and the beach is calling your name and your close friends are coming down and……
Rafe was in the hospital for three months. Only four days were denied. Four days that came out to $459,000. Credit cards are accepted. He’ll win his appeal because how can you deny four days out of three months? and we will make such a stink if he loses the insurance company will want to die itself.
During the Ford/Carter energy crisis my father would keep the thermostat set to 68 and tell us it was patriotic to freeze. Our house was a corner one and all the wind in the neighborhood seemed to settle into it.
So began my long history of living in wind chambers. When I moved off Fifth on 63rd Street, at 25 in 76, I didn’t need AC as my building had a lot of marble, and I lived on the first floor. I had the first ceiling fans anybody heard of in Manhattan. Bought on the Bowery when the Bowery was the Bowery.
Oh yes I’m one of those New Yorkers. I will never be ashamed of loving the city the most in the 70′s to around 85. It was affordable. It was fun. I heard it was dangerous but never felt the danger no matter where I went. I lived in that apartment until 91 and only had AC the last year as my super gave me a unit somebody was throwing out. It just wasn’t important to me. Neither was TV. A good stereo with analog speakers was of primary importance. I began collecting CD’s years before I could afford to buy an actual player.
Though my apartment was warmer than the average apartment nobody refused an invite basically because I threw great parties, always or often had food, always had liquor as I only drank with company and found out early in life that people would bring liquor we would drink then so the good stuff, mine, would be saved for special occasions.
Oh any night on East 63rd was special. I remember when my ex best friend Shelby came back from a cruise to the former Soviet Union. A professor famed for his film lectures invited her. She only had to design a brochure and didn’t have to sleep with him or in the same room.
I know because she took me to his office to do the negotiating. What do you say to a weird man who had noticed her when she walked into the auditorium for the first film, came up to her after class, and asked her if she would like to go for a drink? He did this in full view of the hundreds of girls who were gaga over him for reasons I never understood except that he knew many film stars.
I said something brilliant like: “So Shelby’s going to design a brochure?”
“And her payment’s going to be her own room on your cruise to Finland, Leningrad etc?” Well I didn’t say “etc.,” and was dying to say “but why can’t I be Shelby’s roommate?” I didn’t.
I remember how uncomfortable we all were in his office. I remember thinking that I hated playing Rhoda to Shelby’s Mary. With most other girls I was Mary.
I remember hating Shelby because she was so beautiful and bright yet was an incredible bitch without any empathy or feelings for anybody but herself. I had met her during Viet Nam. She never protested.
We shouldn’t have been friends. Yet like lovers who weren’t good for each other we circled around one another for 20 years.
She hated the cruise. Joel Gray, Colleen Dewhurst, and many incredible stars were on it. Shelby hung out with Cindy Williams (Laverne on Laverne & Shirley) I remember thinking well she was the only one anywhere near our age–though older of course
The night after she came back from the cruise she came to my apartment with a lot of presents, which was totally out of character for her, and a large bottle of Stoli. We sat and drank shots. Neither of us realized that real Russian Stoli basically tastes like water. Well Shelby might have but she liked seeing me get drunk since I did because it was the 70′s but didn’t really enjoy. Oh I did but hated the next day.
No she really didn’t realize as when we stood up we fell down. We got up laughing. I had what looked like a large stick by my front door. It was called a police lock and weighed at least 25 pounds. You could kill somebody with that stick.
Shelby decided to play with it. It fell down. The super who hated me on general principle and was always cutting off my electricity, cut off my electricity and came up to curse me out. I had an ability to straighten myself out really quickly and threatened him with the police if he didn’t put my electricity on. He threatened me with bodily harm but acquiesced.
Shelby couldn’t stop laughing. We fell onto my sofa bed, passed out and went out around noon the next day for hangover food and Bloody Mary’s. Some guys came over and we let them pay for our brunch.
I was always amazed when guys would say “you know, your friend is beautiful but there’s something about you that’s just so….” And two thirds of the time they did
I have no idea what this has to do with living in wind chambers except that I was living in one then and my house now has the thermostat set to 68 basically because I’m cheap)
The whole time I was in New York I was obsessed with the color blue. My sister painted my old bedroom an exquisite blue, so beautiful I can neither really remember it or describe it. Yes it was weird when they first bought the parental manse but time and many changes have taken the weirdness away.
Lucia’s (the best of best friends) kitchen is a true sea blue, if your sea is in a very hot climate.
I couldn’t stop talking or thinking about redoing my living room. It’s pink and took ten coats to come out right. The downstairs bedroom is an ice blue. The study is turquoise and the guest room is teal. Obviously I love blue.
Then I came home and loved the coziness of the pink. I also said to myself: you’re so frigging crazy. Painting the living room is an excuse not to write. You spent the last two years moving. It’s time for some peace, and even more to get serious before you’re demented or somebody beats you to the weirdest story. Anyway you don’t have the money and every time you begin a home improvement project the stock market goes wild.
Yes, I’m the reason for the recession. Me, me and only me. It’s enough to make me ignore my house but I love it and weirdly I truly enjoy the “burdens” of home ownership.
The heating and AC guy was over today for the winter checkup. He said everything was perfect, and didn’t try to sell me something to enhance the performance. The exterminator came next. He didn’t tell me I had termites (I know he checks and gets a commission if he finds any.)
In New York both people would have tried to sell me a thousand things and would have had their hands out. OMG, was I supposed to tip them? I can’t help but think about the $1200+ I would be doling out this month in tips.
I enjoyed seeing people in New York. The city itself I wasn’t so crazy about. My last night I had a dream that I owned a cottage but couldn’t remember where. Great Neck? A cottage would be way too pricey. The Hamptons? In my dreams literally. It became a nightmare. I woke up and remembered; I do own a cottage, I do. In North Myrtle Beach SC. Oh the relief.
And I have a living room that will stay pink for a while. Hopefully the country will stay out of red.
Bone began NaBloSoFroDraWe 2009 or clean out your drafts week. I wrote this two weeks ago and kinda forgot about it. I meant to fill in the character sketchs but….
New York has never been about museums, theater, even restaurants to me but family, friends, the best museum in the world–the streets of New York, and OK I love restaurants in the city and Long Island more than any other place.
I stayed with my sister on the Island for a couple of nights and then went to my spiritual home, the Upper West Side. My best friend Lucia and her daughter Lucianame live in the best of all buildings. It’s non-doorman, just seven floors, built around the turn of the last century, one of the first elevator buildings in New York and half the building has been living there for thirty years or more. They all know me and treat me as just another building resident which is way cool.
I didn’t watch Seinfeld when it was on originally but instinctively knew that only the best friend could say “it’s me when ringing the door. And after your mother your best friend gets the coveted O or 1 spot on speed dial. Yes we all check.
One night Lucia and I went to a coffee shop across the street from her building. The food’s exceptional, the staff is wonderful and you never know who you’re going to run into but chances are you’ll run into Eleanor and end up eating with her.
Eleanor’s 83 and has been living in the building longer than I’ve been alive. She moved in as a young bride. Her husband died a few years ago and her son finally found himself a few years ago.
Eleanor’s the only Upper West Side Jewish Republican I know. Now we all voted for Rudy the first time, and Bloomberg the first time as we’re pragmatic and only tough Democrats when we have to be. Eleanor’s amazing–a group of us are Eleanor groupies. She would run for office because she knew the candidate would lose and she didn’t want the nice young person to suffer politically.
Eleanor worked on Wall Street until the 87 recession when she moved over to the city where she still works full and very long days today.
The city is honoring Eleanor with a ceremony and a party today. Lucia collected money from people in the building and bought her some jewelry. I so wish I could be there. Eleanor’s like the mother I miss and thinks I’m beautiful so I would love her just for that. .
Saturday night Lucia, Lucianame and I went to the cafe at the 70th Street pier for burgers, salad and sangria. Lucianame found it too funny that I needed “roughage.” Well it had been a week of heavy eating and for some reason…why am I defending my use of the word “roughage” rather than “fiber.” OK so we got back to the building and bought ice cream from the truck at the corner. As we were eating our ice cream, Miles came in.
Miles has AIDS. He was supposed to die ten years ago. For a number of years I would see Miles with an aide. He shakes but he has cheated death so long and through so many attacks. I almost cried seeing Miles alone with a dog. Miles is an artist. He specializes in buildings and when he and his lover lived in San Diego he began a movement to preserve some buildings. Recently he went to San Diego as the city was honoring him. PBS is doing a special about him.
The people in Lucia’s building gave him pricey flowers and he was so touched he painted a picture of them. He took us in to see the painting and the long foyer, living room and one bedroom that were filled with his art. I was stunned both by the almost plain lined buildings that came alive, and the floral art that while still in his style was lavish and lush.
These are just two of the people who live in one smallish building on the Upper West Side. I heart the Upper West Side, this building and its residents so very much.
I also adore Cooper who went to NYU so…this is one of the many reasons why
I couldn’t stop loving Bill Clinton even when I detested his wife who I now admire. I’m glad that I have a reason to love him!!!!!!!!!!! Can I just say, he’s so darn cute?
I don’t understand why categories show when I haven’t clicked them. “Impeach Bush’s” a bit old. “Impeach Cheney for occupying space” would make sense. I don’t mean this post to be a poor me one. My life is great. I would like it to be the best it could be. I do feel I deprived myself of much pleasure but my life has been sybaritic enough. I have excelled in the family, friends, actually be at work areas. Sometimes i was great at job hunting. Sometimes I was horrible at it.
I know what it’s like to be in love and I know what it’s like to crave solitude. I regret not staying in one relationship never written about here–never talked about, I never gave him a name on these pages but I didn’t stay. I wish I could turn back the clock and be turning 40. I wish my father hadn’t died eight months later. I wish my mother hadn’t become blind and our once simple relationship became difficult. That’s an awful lot to wish for.
Truly I wish my life remains on the sometimes even wonderful keel I seem to have been getting to.
*I believe that’s from Rhoda–Mary Richard’s (Mary Tyler Moore) Bff. Of course she meant that as in “look out, I’m taking over.” I mean it in “get out your HAZAMAT suits.”
I will be back in a week having seen family, friends and the friends of the Miracle of Facebook or childhood friends I still think about and remember with love. § Read the rest of this entry…
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