The city I live in just lost one of its most legendary characters,  and in a place that boasts a cannibal killer and a serial murderer, that’s saying something.

I met Paul approximately forty years ago, when I was a high school student.  He was mad as a hatter, and even back then, the ravages of alcohol were evident.  He had the yellowest eyes I’ve ever seen.

Despite his mental instability (that’s putting it mildly), Paul was extremely intelligent, and was said to have been absolutely brilliant before whatever happened to him happened.  Some people say that he had been a Professor Emeritus of Literature & History at Vassar College; others say he was an accomplished chemist.  Among the many rumors about him, the most persistent was that Paul had a lot of money.  Yet he was often homeless.

In the 1970s, I spent quite a bit of my leisure time at a nightclub that featured live music; sometimes it was local talent, and other times it was major recording artists.   In between sets, Paul would roller skate across the stage, wearing a buffalo head hat with huge horns, a gigantic bow tie and enormous sunglasses.

Everybody knew Paul, and everybody I talk to has a story to tell about him.  Much to my delight, students often include him in their “I Am Frompoems.  The funniest incident from my own personal experiences with Paul has to have been the time he handed me a rose in a New Paltz dance club and asked me to go out to dinner with him. When I declined, he pulled down his pants and mooned me!  That memory still makes me laugh.

Rest peacefully, Paul.

Song of the Day: Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon

Life According To Literature

February 22, 2010

Using only books you have read over the past year, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe yourself: An Unquiet Mind (Kay Redfield Jamison)
How do you feel: Lost & Found (Jacqueline Sheehan)
Describe where you currently live: Paradise of the Blind (Duong Thu Huong)
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: To The Lighthouse (Virginia Wolf)
Your favorite form of transportation: Stardust (Neil Gaiman)
Your best friend is: Oxygen (Carol Cassella)
You and your friends are: The Girls (Lori Lansens)
What’s the weather like: A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khalid Hosseini)
Your fear: Whistling in the Dark (Lesley Kagen)
What is the best advice you have to give: The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit: How to Bounce Back From Life’s Hardest Hits (Azim Khamisa and Jullian Quinn)
Thought for the day: We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)
How I would like to die: Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
My soul’s present condition: Buffalo Lockjaw (Greg James)

Yesterday, questioning of a rape suspect at the Sheriff’s headquarters turned into a three hour standoff.  The suspect grabbed a detective’s gun and fired.  The bullet grazed a detective’s head.  The suspect then barricaded himself in an unoccupied office.  About three hours later, he shot and killed himself.  Streets in the area were shut down for hours, and residents were evacuated.   This is the fifteenth shooting in My Little Town since the beginning of the year.  Fifteen shootings in less than five months.  I feel like I’m living in the Wild West.

In more pleasant news, I went on an architectural Art Deco walking Tour of Manhattan a couple of weeks ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it (although I most definitely did not enjoy the resulting pain).  We visited the Daily News building, the old GE building (it was like Oz inside) the Waldorf-Astoria, Rockefeller Center, and, my favorite, the Chrysler Building.

I had another positive experience last weekend when I attended a Reiki training session given by My Friend.  During the attunement, I was amazed to feel a powerful surge of energy flow through my fingers. This is some seriously cool stuff.

I’m running late on time, but before I go I want to wish Daniel a very Happy Birthday!

Song of the Day:  My Little Town by Simon & Garfunkel

She Had a Good Run

March 2, 2009

Before I get to the topic for this entry, I’d like to address a comment.  Fay asked if I meditate, or do any sort of ritual de-stressing each day.  Good question!  I have tried to meditate, but can’t seem to shut my brain down.  As for ritual de-stressing, I’m open to suggestions.  I’d also like to thank Sheryl for her comment.  It’s always good to hear from someone who has firsthand knowledge of what chronic pain sufferers have to live with.

Moving right along… I’m in a hurry because we have a snow day and I want to go back to bed.  I should probably stay up and tackle the multitude of things I have to do – taxes, FAFSA applications, clean the kitchen, etc., but this untreated sinus infection (I don’t believe the nonallergic rhinitis diagnosis is accurate.  The mucus is yellow, for crying out loud!) is getting the better of me.  Anyway, this is an excerpt from an entry I posted on January 8, 2006 on Diary-x:

Centenarian Coquette

Daniel and I went to a party for a friend’s grandmother who just turned one hundred years old.  You’d never guess her age. She gets all dolled up, and looks amazing. She’s sharp as a tack, too. Incredibly, this woman worked until the age of 94!

I can’t say I had a good time at the party, but it wasn’t bad, either. There were at least fifty people there, and I didn’t know any of them except for the host and his wife, so it was a bit awkward and uncomfortable. We don’t like to leave Ellie in her crate too long (but can’t leave her unsupervised, either), so we had a good excuse to leave early.

One thing we did enjoy was the barbershop quartet that serenaded the 100-year old birthday girl. They were pretty good, but what made the experience even better was watching The Coquettish Centenarian’s reaction to the men as they sang to her. It’s good to know that a person can still be flirtatious even at such an advanced age. More power to her!

Yesterday, Daniel and I went to her wake.  Rest peacefully, Mildred.

Song of the Day: Coquette by Paul McCartney

Twenty Five Random Things

February 8, 2009

Sasha and Stefani did this  (on Facebook), and so did Mary.

Here are the directions:
Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. (I don’t do tags, but if the spirit moves you, go for it.)

1. I have never taken a picture with my cell phone.  Truth be told, I hardly use my cell phone at all.
2. I enjoy games like Taboo, Pictionary and Scattergories, but I’m not much of a card player.
3. I rarely remember my dreams.
4. I love shoes.  Unfortunately, I can’t wear pretty shoes or boots (not for long, anyway) because I have hammertoes.  I had surgery (one of the most painful experiences of my life) to correct the problem back in the eighties, but it was a flop.
5. I hate to cook.  I used to enjoy it, but after forty years in the kitchen, I’d love to hang up my apron (metaphorically speaking; I don’t actually wear an apron).
6. I prefer dogs over cats.
7. I count when I’m brushing my teeth – 15 seconds for each quadrant, inner and outer.
8. I blush easily.  It’s a curse.
9. I’m part Polish (on my mother’s side) but identify far more strongly with my Italian heritage.
10. I am a ravenous reader.
11. Music has always been a big part of my life, and my tastes are rather eclectic.
12. I am a crybaby.  Seriously, it doesn’t take much to get the tears flowing.  Being an empath doesn’t help.  (See more below.)
13. I have a potty mouth.
14. I am addicted to Kitsch in Art jewelry.
15. I don’t like flavored coffee, and I drink my coffee black, no sugar.
16. Watermelon is my favorite fruit.
17. Red is my favorite color.
18. During my pregnancies, I craved sour things, like green olives, lemons and vinegar (which I drank from a spoon).
19. I have body image issues.
20. I have a bit of an inferiority complex.
21. I have serious bed head when I get up in the morning.
22. I have been in menopause for quite a while, but I’m just starting to experience night sweats.  It’s so bad I’m considering giving HRT another try.
23. I’ll be 55 years old in August, and I’m not feeling very good about that.
24. I have an unnatural fear of praying mantises and eyelash curlers.  It’s a good thing my eyelashes are naturally curly.
25. Many of my clothes come from thrift shops and clearance racks.  A co-worker recently told me I could earn a good living thrift shopping for others because of my sense of style, and talent for separating the wheat from the chaff.  She made my day.

Back to number 12.  I wrote an entry on this topic on February 4, 2003, during my days at Diary-X.  It was one of the few entries I was able to salvage.  I’ll repost it here.

I t doesn’t take much to make me cry.  I’ve always hated that about myself, but, try as I might, I just can’t seem to help it.  I guess I’m just a crybaby.

I cry when I’m angry.  I cry out of frustration.  I cry when I’m moved.  I cry when I’m depressed (although there are times when I’m too depressed to cry).  I cry from grief, and sometimes I laugh until I cry.  I shed tears of joy, and tears of compassion.  I cry when my feelings are hurt.

Yesterday morning, I cried while watching a lame deer in my backyard.  It was one of eleven, and I stood at the door spying on them as they foraged for food.  When I spotted the lame one, I was filled with pity for it, and tears formed in my eyes.  I had to force myself to turn away.

On Sunday, while listening to music, I was stopped dead in my tracks when an old Joe Jackson tune, “A Slow Song,” came on.  I used to love that song, and hearing it again sent shivers down my spine.  It made me cry.  It wasn’t so much the song itself; it was the memory of the song being special to me.  It was the memory of younger days.  Days when I went to see Joe Jackson perform at an intimate local nightclub whenever he came to town.  Days that were exciting and filled with fun.

Similarly, I wept when I watched “To Sir With Love” a couple of weeks ago.  As soon as I heard, “Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone,” I broke down and cried.  In fact, I sobbed.

That song and that movie brought back so many memories.  Memories of 1967, and of being 13 years old.  I wore big, dangly earrings, and had a gamine haircut  just like Lulu.

That was the year my grandmother took me to San Francisco.  Haight Ashbury thrilled me beyond measure.  That was a time when I was fascinated by hippies, and The Haight was their Mecca.  That was a time when I was in love with The Beatles, and in love with life.  I had so much to look forward to.  Remembering that young girl was a very emotional experience for me.  So I cried.  Oh, how I cried.

As much as I get down on myself for being so sensitive and emotional, I am starting to think that it sometimes takes courage to allow ourselves to feel bad or sad.  In a society that promotes the power of positive thinking, many of us learn to suppress our negative feelings. However, repressing emotion doesn’t strike me as a very healthy practice.  It seems to me that denying our feelings only makes for a longer period of recovery.  So, as Lesley Gore sang, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” So there.

Song of the Day: Random by 311

Fifty-nine Out of One Hundred

December 21, 2008

Saw this Meme at Summer Fever’s place.  The ones in bold are the things I have done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars – I went camping a couple of times, but I’m not really into it.
3. Played in a band – No, but I briefly dated a bass player back in the 70s.
4. Visited Hawaii. How many times? – Once.  I’d love to go back.  It truly is paradise.
5. Watched a meteor shower – It was in the early nineties, and I was on a sailboat in Maine.  What a spectacular night that was!
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (and DisneyWorld) I went to Disneyland during a trip to California with my grandmother when I was 13 years old.
8. Climbed a mountain – Well, I didn’t actually climb a mountain, but I have been mountain climbing.  There is a distinction.
9. Held a praying mantis – ARE YOU KIDDING ME????  I’m deathly afraid of those critters!!!
10. Sang a solo – In the privacy of my own home when no one was listening.
11. Bungee jumped – I have no desire to do such a thing.
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea – While I have spent nights at sea, it was never during a storm, which suits me just fine!  Anyway, I was on land when I saw storms out at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch – Does teaching myself to cast on count?  (My aunt taught me the basics of knitting, but I taught myself to cast on.)
15. Adopted a child – I have adopted fur children.
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train – from San Francisco to Los Angeles during the aforementioned trip to California
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked – Many times.  I was a damn fool.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb –At the Catskill Game Farm petting zoo, I fed a lamb with a baby bottle.
26. Gone skinny dipping – at night in a pool in the backyard of our old house
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice – No but my mother and daughter, Rebecca have done that, those lucky stiffs!
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset – that’s especially glorious at the seashore
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors – I want to go to Italy so bad!
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language – no, but I’ve made up some curse words
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (in general)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt – that was during a cross country trip.  We saw lots of amazing sights!
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business – with my Ex-husband (building contractor)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching –went out on the boat, but we didn’t see any whales.
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma – What an unpleasant experience that was.  I was hooked up for 45 minutes, but couldn’t fill the bag, so they had to toss it.
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp – No, but Rebecca went to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter – in Kauai, Hawaii.  We flew under a rainbow!
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy – it’s a book, actually
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square – many times, including New Year’s Eve once.
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone – I got hit by a moped on Block Island (in Rhode Island), and suffered a tibia plateau fracture (knee)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle – I’ve been on motorcycles, but they weren’t speeding
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person – twice
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating – lobster
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life – I performed the Heimlich Maneuver on my daughter, Rebecca, who had swallowed and was choking on a lifesaver (!) when she was a little girl
90. Sat on a jury – No, but I did have to sit through the jury selection process.  And I just received a jury duty notice for January 5th, unless I hear otherwise before then.
91. Met someone famous – See this entry and this one.
92. Joined a book club – As much as I love to read, I don’t like to do it under pressure.
93. Lost a loved one – I miss my brother so much.
94. Had a baby – had two!
95. Seen the Alamo in person – I’ve been in Texas, but mostly we just drove through it during our cross-country trip.  We didn’t really do any sightseeing there that I can recall.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake – no, but we drove by it.
97. Been involved in a law suit – after I got hit by the moped
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee – Many times, but the worst was when I walked into a bee’s nest and was stung thirteen times.
100. Read an entire book in one day – There have been several, including a couple of the Harry Potter books and Mama by Terry McMillan

Song of the Day:  Things by Bobby Darin

A Female Dog

October 24, 2008

Like LA, workers in service fields almost always take a shine to me.  For some reason, they want to tell me their life stories.  My sisters and daughters can’t get over it, and often say that they feel invisible when we are out together.  It’s definitely a weird thing.

Please note that I said almost always.  There are occasional exceptions to that rule.  A couple of weeks ago, I experienced a doozy of an exception.  My sister and I were shopping in Dress Barn.   I picked out a shirt from the clearance rack, and a sweater from a 30% off rack. The sweater had a large tag on the hanger that said, “take an additional 50% off.”

While checking out, the sales clerk was getting on my nerves because she kept calling me “honey,” and not in a nice Vietnamese nail salon sort of way.  She was very condescending.  Still, I let it go.

After paying for my purchases, it struck me that the amount was higher than I had expected, so I looked at the receipt and saw that the additional 50% hadn’t been deducted from the sweater.   I pointed this out to the sales clerk, and she said that I needed to buy a full price item in order to get the “buy one get 50% off,” as was being promoted throughout the store.   I patiently explained that this sweater wasn’t part of the buy one get one half off promotion.  It had a special tag on the hanger advertising an additional 50% off after the 30% discount.

The sales clerk had the audacity to tell me that there was no such tag on the hanger.  I assured her that there was, and told her to check the hanger from which she had taken the sweater.    She would not.  So, I went back to the rack and pulled off another sweater with the tag.  When I brought it back to her, she said, “I had no way of knowing about the extra 50% off.”  I told her all she had to do was look at the tag that was on the hanger my sweater was on.

She again insisted that there was no tag on the hanger and I again insisted that there was.   She started to say, “Look, honey,”  and that’s when I lost my cool.  I told her to stop calling me honey because I found it offensive.

She then turned to the woman next to her at the counter (I gathered that she was a manager), and asked her to handle the refund.  I had to explain the whole thing to this woman, but she didn’t seem to be grasping what I was saying.  She treated me as if I was trying to pull a fast one.

Not trusting the tag on the second sweater I brought over to prove my point, Ms. Manager went over to the rack to see for herself.  I watched from the checkout counter, and saw her remove all the sweaters with special tags and place them in another employee’s arms.    Fearing that they were trying to hide the evidence, I walked over to them and asked (nicely, I might add), “Do you see what I’ve been trying to explain about the tag on the hanger?”  She responded, “Yes, this is our mistake, and we will honor it.”

I was happy with the outcome until I heard the manager say to the employee holding the sweaters, “What a nasty bitch.”

Oh yes she did.

Since when is it nasty or bitchy to ask that an advertised price be honored?

For the record, I was very polite to this second woman.  But, when I heard her remark, I said “I wasn’t nasty to you, but I will be now.  Your little comment is an issue that will need to be addressed by corporate headquarters.”  I then took a pen and piece of paper from my purse, and made note of her name.  (Thank goodness for nametags.)

Before I left the store, I stepped behind the counter and pulled out the hanger my sweater had been on.  Lo and behold!  There was the nonexistent “take an extra 50% off” tag!

Dress Barn can bite me.

Song of the Day:  The Bitch is Back by Elton John

Garden Party

June 8, 2008

I got my camera back, so, as promised, here are the photos of the carrot cake (decorated with fresh flowers), and my new bed ensemble (It looks better in person, and you can’t see the bedskirt, which is striped):

I have some more pictures I want to post. These were taken at the Botanical Gardens yesterday. A little birdie joined us during our picnic lunch, and had the cheek to hop over and steal something from my plate..

Highlights of our visit included the rose garden:

the sculptures by Henry Moore,

and “Darwin’s Garden.” (The first shot is a recreation of Darwin’s window looking out on the garden.)

It would have been a wonderful day if not for the oppressive heat. It’s much too early for it to be so hot. According to the forecast, it’s supposed to be 97 tomorrow and 98 on Tuesday. I hate this weather.

Song of the Day: Octopus’s Garden by The Beatles

Inka Dinka Doo

May 23, 2008

During a faculty meeting yesterday, I was using a pen to scratch the maddening itch I’ve been living with for several days now. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I happened to look down. Naturally, the pen wasn’t capped. My jeans are ruined (and they’re my favorite pair, of course).

Can I scream now?

Song of the Day: Inka Dinka Doo by Jimmy Durante

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

March 15, 2008

This past week, the daily essays from Simple Abundance A Day Book of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, have been about inner beauty, and making peace with our physical appearance. This excerpt from March 10th is from an essay titled, You Are Not Your Appearance, But Does the Rest of the World Know That?

The essay begins with this quote from Jessamyn West: “The tragedy of our time is that we are so eye centered, so appearance besotted.”

Breathnach writes, “Let’s consider those days when you just don’t give a damn or are too exhausted to remember to pick up a brush. Can we find inspiration in dirty jeans, an unwashed face, stringy hair? Can there be incarnational revelations when the skirt is too tight and the pantyhose pulls at your hips?

I hope so. For I know those days, and those days know me.”

Those days know me, too. The last few weekends have found me, for the most part, in slob mode. Some days, I haven’t bothered to shower or get dressed. Or, if I do get dressed, it’s in sweatpants and sweatshirt. Glamour has left the building. It’s all about the comfort, baby.

This passage, in particular, stuck a responsive chord, and is responsible for this entry.

“Unfortunately, our outside packaging counts for far more than it really should. Often, when we don’t live up to the world’s expectations of how we should look or behave, we fall victim to a vicious circle of self-loathing and denial that can be difficult to escape from unscathed.”

Back in the Dairy-x days (circa 2002) I wrote an entry based on “the world’s expectations of how we should look or behave.” For lack of anything better to offer, I’m going to re-post it here.

Body Language

So, Spice Girl, “Posh,” who up until a year or so ago feigned indignation over rumors of anorexia, finally admitted that she had an eating disorder. Well, no kidding. Did she really expect us to believe she looks this way naturally? And, while we’re at it, Lara Flynn Boyle should ‘fess up, too.

Many celebrities have publicly acknowledged their eating disorders. They include Princess Di, Tracey Gold, Elton John and the Barbi twins. Much is being done to educate people about the dangers of eating disorders, and to emphasize the importance of a healthier acceptance of our bodies, but we still have a long way to go.

Believe it or not, there are websites PROMOTING anorexia. Anorexic Annie thinks she is “grossly obese” at five foot three and one hundred ten pounds. She wants to look like R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe (!!!), and says she knows her life would be better if she “got rid of about thirty pounds and got down to eighty.” My heart breaks for this girl. And for all the other girls/women who want to look like Ichabod Crane.

I don’t get it. On second thought, maybe I do. We are under constant pressure to conform to an impossible image of what is beautiful. The standards we’re trying to live up to are unrealistic, unreasonable and unhealthy. Yet, we continue to starve ourselves.

I’ve been there and done that myself. Extreme dieting landed me in the hospital many years ago. When the doctor brought me the results of my blood work, he compared them to those of an Ethiopian. I was lucky. That was all it took to convince me to pick up my fork and resume eating. However, others are not so fortunate. Many victims of eating disorders suffer reduction of bone density and hair loss. They risk heart failure. Some of them die. (Karen Carpenter.)

I wish I could say that I’ve managed to develop a better body image over the years, but I haven’t. Nevertheless, because of my daughters, I make a real effort to not obsess about weight (aloud, at any rate). They see enough of that sort of thing outside the home.

Too often, I find myself having to perform damage control. At the beginning of last summer, my oldest daughter told me that when people see her in shorts, they comment on the size of her legs, and how they don’t match her slim upper body (poor kid is built like me). To add insult to injury, a friend’s mother is one of those who made an insulting remark.

Apparently, Mrs. Knucklehead was telling her daughter what nice, long legs she has, and then turned to Rebecca and told her that hers are fat. (This from a crackhead with no teeth! Please excuse my momentary lapse in tact. I’m only human.) I felt terrible, but all I could do was try to assure my daughter that she’s beautiful.

Of course, she doesn’t believe me. Because she carries a few extra pounds, she thinks she is unattractive, and that’s scary. It is also scary for me to consider my own hypocrisy. For, in spite of everything I know, and everything I’ve written here, I continue to be dissatisfied with my body. I need to practice what I preach and learn to feel good about myself from the inside. Unfortunately, self-acceptance is as bloody a battle as any I ever had with weight.

Song of the Day: Under Par by Thrice

“It’s my life!
you set the bar too high
your expectations have become my failure”