When I was a little girl, my favorite “second” mom, mother of my best friend Brian bought each of us a soft, little duckling stuffed animals every year. I loved them dearly. Lotti bought these right before Easter at the little 5 and 10 store that was right near our old, red brick apartment building. Once we were teenagers, long after we stopped thinking about these soothing, sweet creatures, I looked for them again. For many years, I tried to find them, for their angelic smiles, for their thoughtful, deep, dark eyes, and the softness of their fake, faux fur which I stroked lovingly with my little girl fingers.
“You sprung me” she said
I lifted her from the crib
Her first memory.
waving in the morning sun
after winter’s blight
very eager to please.
- Things That Creep Me Out
- Rodents and Bats and Fear, Oh My!!!Bats and mice/rats. To me, there is no way to choose one because they are equally as terrifying to me. Rodents with their speedy, beady eyes and fast movements that startle me; unfortunately I was born with a startle reflex. I’m sure it has to do with being 6 weeks premature or I’m just a grown-up baby. I hate to be surprised and scared. We actually had bats in our apartment when I was a little girl, my mother was hysterical so I’m sure that freaked me out too. The thought of bats swooping through the air and possible touching my hair makes me want to try to throw-up. It’s not a pretty picture, Keep these things away from me. Please?
- A Box of Chocolates
- Caramel? Coconut? Marshmallow?
- I Regret To Inform You…….
- I didn’t even think of the options “caramel, coconut or marshmallow” I was all set to give a simple “nougat” answer when I came upon these choices. I have to say at one time of my life (not very long ago) I would have answered any one or preferably all. Now that I have done some serious healthy eating for the past three months I would have to truly concentrate on that answer and think it through. At the moment, and with regret but pride, I would pick NONE. Don’t worry, I’m not sanctimonious, I just know one delicious, silky smooth, velvet chocolate melting slowly on my tongue would start a war with myself. I would lose. I’ve had weight problems all my life and I’m trying to get a handle on it. I do eat a piece or two of dark chocolate each night, but really, to me, it doesn’t count. I’ve made compromises. Have a nougat, or a coconut covered chocolate, for me. Maybe eventually I can have a piece of nougat milk chocolate and then go back to healthy eating, I just know I’m not ready yet. Not by a long shot.
Just Call Me Healthy…….Now
Dear Borders, I Miss You.
Once upon a time, in my perfect world, there was a bookstore named Borders in the next big town over. Unfortunately, my life took a huge dive when they closed, my social life as well. Borders was such a great place to meet up with friends, you could both look for books and have coffee downstairs and talk. I would go there at least twice a week if not more. Since they closed, I have certainly have saved money and I use the library much more often, I miss having a place to look at new books.
There used to be a small independent bookstore in my town but that closed too, a devastating loss to the community. I think it’s a horrible situation, are the only bookstores on-line now? That seems sad to me.
I get ideas on-line from looking at Amazon.com, from magazines that review books, from the NY Times Book Review or from a glance at a book cover I find riveting. I ask friends what they are reading or do research on new fiction and non-fiction books. I love the library system and I appreciate them, now more than ever, but I do miss Borders, in every possible way. I thought of it as my home away from home, with their big comfy chairs and everyone talking books. I would start random conversations with strangers perusing books, it was its own community. Sigh, it’s a new world; not one that I particularly like.
Early bird or night owl? Are these the only options? I’m neither. Oh dear, I think I am old. With one child in college and another child a senior in high school, I am able to sleep later in the mornings. Do I stay up late and party? I hate to confess, the answer is no. Maybe, instead of just old I’m also dull. Great…. I used to want to go to sleep before my husband or after for peace and quiet and lately, I love having him near me as we both fall asleep together. He was away for four weeks so maybe I’m just appreciating him more now.
I’m boring too. Gasp! It’s true. I never was a drinker, was always more of a homebody, even as a teenager, so I guess I’m still the same. I write, I read, I am now addicted to Pinterest (which I can’t pronounce.) I used to be much more independent when I was single and lived alone, before I got married. I stayed out late with friends, we went to dinner after work, to the Village, to the movies. We were out late and up late fearlessly taking the subways at all times of the night. Sometimes when I came home late, I then rearranged the furniture in my studio apartment or cleaned until 3am with my music blaring and me dancing like the Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (a movie from the seventies.) When you are YOUNG and living by yourself, it’s “fun.” You would have to have me lifted by a crane to do ANY cleaning at any time except during my normal waking hours. I’m neither an early bird or a night owl. What does that make me? I’m 55 years old and yes, I do have a few chronic illnesses that make me more tired but they are not life-threatening. I’m going to give myself a break (for once) and just say “I’m normal.”
Gayle had been sick for years, but her demise was so slow, so painstakingly slow, that it was difficult to judge. She was always very soft-spoken, she talked with a delicate, hushed whisper, always. I always thought if she were an animal, she would be a beautiful young doe. She was to me still a beautiful doe, but now older deer and very sick. She wanted no visitors, no-one at all except for her beloved husband of 55 years who remained the love of her life. They wanted only each other through good times and bad; it seemed unimaginable, a love like no other. As you get older that there are not only few happy endings but none.
Her doctor has sent his nurse to their apartment once a week now to check her vital signs; that was the most he could do for her. Her breathing was labored, her muscles had atrophied, she no longer could walk. Paul, her husband, did everything for her; he carried her from room to room, he coaxed her to eat a teaspoon of chocolate pudding, he sat near her when she was sleeping. He didn’t want her to wake up from a long nap afraid, her voice was so low he was afraid she would call for him and he wouldn’t hear her. He had workers come and put intercoms throughout their house. It made him feel better, to know they were installed even though she probably didn’t have enough strength to push the button.
One afternoon,after she was asleep, he went to his office for a few moments to pay some bills, to grieve for a few moments by himself. This burly, big-hearted man had become nothing but a shell of himself. Once burly and robust he was now thin, his face sallow, the light in his eyes gone. He rubbed his face with his hands, dried the tears, and a long, deep breath and slowly walked back into their bedroom.
He knew something was wrong the second he opened their door, he could sense it without seeing anything or hearing anything. “Gayle” he shouted, “Gayle, wake up” but of course, she didn’t. He sobbed and shook her, his beautiful wife, cold and stiff, dead, like a tiny dead bird. He screamed, “It was just one minute, why, Jesus, why did you have to take her in those few minutes?” He laid down next to her and bawled like a child. This was a love so primitive, his only love.
He didn’t know what to do, he couldn’t do anything for a long time. He stayed on the bed with her, not moving, not being able to call their children or close friends.”Stop all the clocks, let time stand still, I can’t go on without her” he sobbed. He got up once, many hours later when it was dark outside. He tiptoed to his locked cabinet where he had secretly kept a gun that no one knew about. He got back on to the bed, next to his beloved and at some time in the middle of the night he shot himself in the head, and died next to her.
Nobody knew for two or three days; a concerned friend, after trying to call them for days, finally called the police. The police found them together, in bed, both dead, Life was not worth living without his wife, he had always said. He meant it.
I thought I knew her
like the softness of my glove.
This bitter cactus.
Eighteen pounds just lost
Still image of a fat girl
Bloated, in the glass
Daughter flies out fast
not looking back, just forward
She was once my girl.
There was a very good article in “The New York Times”
Whatever Happened to First Class?
By JESSE McKINLEY
Published: February 10, 2012
that I really liked and I wanted to share my own memories since I started flying when I was nine months old and stopped abruptly when my free airline tickets, from my dad, who worked for TWA, stopped at my ripe, young age of twenty-one. Or at least not yet twenty-two.
Flying was my dad’s dream, and no, he was not a pilot even though in his heart he thought he was. He worked in offices and volunteered extra shifts if there was an accident and flew to St. Louis to buy fresh milk for my older sister when there was a milk strike in NY. He loved everything about flying and traveling with our mother and when we were children we came along, almost always. A visit to Grandma’s house for us was to fly to Vienna, Austria or Tel-Aviv, Israel. I thought nothing of it as a child, it’s what we did; my older sister and I did have to get dressed up in a matching sweater and skirt sets, identical (except for color and size.) We were not allowed to wear pants, God forbid jeans. We had to dress up formally before each flight, our dad’s rule because we were flying “subject to space” which meant we would try for a flight but since we were “non-revs” (non-revenue passengers) we never knew when we would be able to get on a particular flight, looking good wasn’t optional in our house. We had no choice. In fact, back then, everyone dressed up for a flight, there were no jeans or sweat pants….they didn’t exist.
If the flight was fully booked our dad would make the shape of a hanger with his hands and shake his head dejectedly. We knew that meant “a cliff-hanger” fully booked, not a great chance of getting on but we would go anyway. There were times we were already seated and buckled in and the door closed when in dreadful embarrassment they called our names over the intercom and we had to unbuckle, get up, gather our bags and belongings and march or rather limp off the plane if paying passengers had arrived. Mortifying.
We may have complained about getting up at four in the morning to go to Phoenix, AZ. but once we were on the flight, our vacation had started. Flying was part of the vacation not like now where it is something to live through with great dread and anticipation. Was there a difference in first-class and economy? Sure, but either was fine. We always went economy (and we could stretch across 3-4 seats back then) until one day I think we begged our dad to try first class, it was a matter of twelve or eight dollars per person. It was hard to go back to economy after that.
First class had luscious, huge seats, especially for young adults, a printed menu with delicacies to choose from. I’m drooling just remembering them. Beef Wellington?Steak? Salmon? Really, really good, gourmet food. I remember one of the desserts, it was the ice-cream sundae cart approaching me. I saw mountains of vanilla ice cream come headed towards me. Near it was a huge silver bowl filled with whipped cream, hot fudge sauce, sprinkles and many other condiments. “Make your own sundae” in the best of times was good, but while flying through clouds? Heavenly.
I’d like to add to Mr. McKinley’s post that my ideal flight was boarding the TWA 747 that had a winding staircase to the lounge upstairs with comfortable soft and wide chairs and private window seats. I remember reading a book up there and feeling like hot, um, bananas! That same trip, before landing, they served a snack before landing; it was the biggest, hero sandwich, I had ever seen, filled with possibly every kind of meat and cheese that existed. The enormity still bogs my mind. There were drinks or soda, snacks. How could flying NOT be part of the vacation, it was the greatest in relaxation; no one could reach you and why would anyone want to stay in touch on vacation? If you had told people back then that it would be a posdibilityin the future,they would have called security at the very least.
I don’t know when it started but slowly the airline industry disintegrated. There was no more food (gasp) you had to pay separately for everything, even bags and suitcases. People didn’t treat you like royalty anymore. After 9/11 the whole world changed and it will never be the same again. Some people refused to fly after that forever. I wasn’t thrilled with the aspect of flying but I flew many times. It became a horribly, long, painful process. I am personally grateful for the TSA agents that check and recheck but it is hard work for them. Nobody seems to appreciate what they are doing all day long or at night. Not fun for us either but still…
I will probably fly again at some point but it isn’t something that I look forward to doing. The point of relaxation does not begin at the airport but probably a day after you have reached your destination. Is it worth it? I’ve always thought it was but as time goes on I think more about it. I was so very lucky to see so many countries when I was a kid, I know I didn’t appreciate it then. It will never be the same and that is one dreadful loss. I’m glad my dad is no longer on this earth to witness travel the way it is now, he would be horrified, as those of us who remember “the good old days” are.
* a few sentences were used in the comment section for the NYT on Mr. McKinley’s wonderful article.