Doing The Laundry With George

Growing up, my family lived in an old red brick apartment building in Queens, NY. The apartment building was its own little village on six floors. There was a feeling of comfort and safety having neighbors and friends around us.

I had good friends in the building and I ate many meals in my friends’ homes. In Lotti’s kitchen I always ate home-made matzoh ball soup, the matzoh balls light and airy. She introduced me to my first milkshake, made with chocolate and vanilla ice cream and served in tall, cold glasses.

Vanilla Kipferl (Vanilla Crescents)

Vanilla Kipferl (Vanilla Crescents) (Photo credit: sharon.schneider)

In Omi’s house, (my friend Linda’s grandmother) we settled into over sized chairs and we ate many home-baked cookies: granulated sugar-coated vanilla crescent cookies and chocolate kiss surprise cookies. To this day I can feel the taste of the melting sugar on my tongue, I have seen several duplicates in stores but they missed a very important ingredient: Omi’s special kind of love. I didn’t have grandparents and Omi made me feel like part of the family.

English: Windows in the red brick wall of an a...

My older sister and I, individually, had to do the laundry as our chore. In an apartment building, a couple of old washing machines and one dryer lived questionably in the basement. The basement was dank, dark, dimly lit and uninviting. Thinking back, there never seemed to be anyone else down there doing laundry, it was an experience you just wanted to hurry up and finish, it felt scary being there alone.

I would lug the metal shopping cart, that we also used for groceries, and hold on to it with both hands grasped behind me. It always left a lingering metallic smell on my fingers.The elevator always shook and made loud scraping mechanical noises as it bumped and lurched to a stop in the basement.

The only person who lived in the basement was George, the handyman.  We assumed from his accent he came from Romania or Russia but that was never confirmed.  George was a happy and unconventional man. When you talked to him, most likely he was upside down, standing on his head. There was nothing scary about him, in fact, when the door to his room in the basement was ajar we always felt safer.

Clowns Upside Down on the Ceiling

Clowns Upside Down on the Ceiling (Photo credit: wht_wolf9653)

George spoke little English but every so often he would determinedly either call himself Mr. Rockefeller or call my father Mr. Rockefeller; why we don’t know.

We accepted George the way he was as if he was a character jumping out of the pages of a John Updike novel, smelling slightly of old, cheap wine. All the mothers said “he was harmless.” Back then, he was.  In the sixties, that was normal, we trusted people. We didn’t even question his unusual style, we just laughed with him.

If you were lucky the two washing machines would be free when you had to do the laundry, the sense of achievement and happiness would be intense. I would dig my sweaty fingers into my jeans pockets, front and back, to find three quarters for each machine. The smooth shiny coins were placed in the slotted circles, I waited to hear the metal clinking sound as they dropped down.  Once I put in too much soap and bubbles, huge iridescent sudsy bubbles, started cascading down from the machine, everywhere. I was both thrilled and terrified at the same time. I ran for George.

There was one large dryer but more fascinating were these huge hanging racks that we would have to pull out of the wall and drape clothing on the clothing rods; how this was allowed and sanctioned by the fire department I will never know. Once we pulled back the steel rods and draped our clothing we could see the individual fires blazing. After we pulled our clothes from the hanging rods the clothes were stiff and scratchy. There were no fabric softeners, anything that was on those rods to were as crisp as burned toast.

Chemical Brothers

George lived in our building for many years, we would try to get  in touch with him by phone but he generally didn’t pick up. More often one of us went to his room and knocked loudly on his door.

One day, he disappeared, no one had seen him for a while. Everyone was talking about it but he literally vanished from one day to the next.

In my young imagination, I decided he must have rejoined the circus, as of course, a clown. He already had the sweet smile, the jolly personality and the impeccable skills for standing on his head.

When I remember George I remember him upside down, firmly saying “Mr. Rockefeller.” Why he did this nobody knew, but we all accepted him for who he was.  No one ever heard from him again but after all these years, I never forgot him.

 

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FWF Kellie Elmore

Annie looked beautiful when we first landed in the Caribbean for our honeymoon. We did nothing but eat and drink, and relax in the sun. I had worked 80 hour weeks back home, this was heaven.

We went snorkeling in the afternoon to see  glowing yellow and orange striped fish, in the aqua water. The only decision we had been what to order at the swim-up bar in the pool, a lime drenched mojito or a sweet mai thai served with a wedge of pineapple and a fake red cherry.

Dinner was late and I ordered a bottle of champagne and we ate roasted vegetables,  chicken with spices and loaves of thick, crusty bread. There was dancing so we decided to join other people.  Annie wore a bright flowered dress and soon after Annie suggested we go for a swim, we both loved water, especially Annie. We raced into the water, holding hands.

I admit I wasn’t as good as a swimmer as she was, I loved watching her as she laughed and I could see her head, like the flash of an automatic camera, her blond hair in the warm waves, happy she was having fun.

After about twenty minutes I called to her to come back in, I was getting tired of waiting and started yelling for her to come back, I still heard her laughter but it wasn’t funny anymore to me. “Annie, come in,” I shouted as I was approaching the shore.

Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & ob...

Scuba diver. Found at Plongée sous-marine & obt’d Image:Plongeur bouteilles.jpg id’d there as (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sat on the sand, I saw other tourists looking puzzled and  they pointed first to me, then to Annie. The tide was getting rough.  I kept yelling over to her but she would wave and keep going.

I talked to the people on the shore and told them my story. Someone went inside for help, I was getting nervous. The manager offered the use of his own boat and lifeguard. I knew Annie would be mad but I was so worried that they raced into the water on their boat, if she ran into trouble or was possibly sick.

I sat on the beach, like a statue, rocking back and forth. I could not stop crying. Someone offered a blanket, another endless cups of strong black coffee. I saw the coast guard and his team looking with flood lights.  A whole day went by. Finally, the coast guard said they would have to end the search. Someone had called the police as well as emergency vehicles. I was so weak from crying and not sleeping, I could barely speak.

“I’m sorry Sir, there is no body in that water.” We searched everywhere, scuba divers with advanced equipment came and we found nothing. She was not on the property at all, last night we did not let anyone in or out of our community and she definitely is not in the water. I’m so sorry, Sir.”said the head of police.

Finally, I let out a blood curdling scream, “she’s out there, you have to find her” but they shook their heads firmly. Later, everyone walked me to our room and the manager unlocked the door. I looked around, inside, there was not a single item of Annie’s, not her clothing, her make up, her tooth-brush, nothing of hers was there. I saw them look at each other, frowning.

“What did you do to her?” I screamed to the hotel and the police. She WAS here, ask anyone, at dinner, at the scuba diving lessons.” They started to cuff my hands.

“We did, Sir, we did that last night, there never was anyone with you named Annie, you arrived alone checked into this room alone and stayed by yourself. We even called the airlines and you were flying alone there was not an Ann or Annie on the flight.”

I fought with them, I told them she HAD been here but they insisted on taking me to the hospital to get checked out. “But what about Annie? I sobbed. “Perhaps she is waiting for you at the hospital” one police offer said, they gave me a shot and I let them take me, to see Annie, so that they would believe me.

I’m still at a hospital, a different one. Here they also said Annie was not real, over and over again. They call me delusional but even now, after all these months I know that Annie had been with me, for real, even if she had only been in my mind.

That counts, right?

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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Dear Miley: Grow Up Already (Pop Cop)

I’ll keep it short, don’t worry. It will be as short as the item of clothing you call shorts that you wear which really are two tiny pieces of material stapled or scotch taped together so you look like the trash princess you appear to be. My newborn daughter wore more clothes than that. Nobody wants to spend time writing about you or reading about you, I’ll give you a few sentences. You are not worth more than that at this time. We don’t care who or what you are nipping or licking or playing with, be it boys, men or teddy bears. We’re sick of you, overindulged pop stars with a sense of entitlement and no sense of responsibility to yourself or your younger fans. If you want to smoke grass at some public event, we don’t even care about that. Shame you didn’t do it in the US because then I would have loved to see the police politely handcuff you and sit you down on your rather naked butt and drive you quickly to the police station. Now, THAT would have been a SHOW!

Smoking a joint on a national television show, that shows real class. I’m sure your parents are very proud of you. (In case you don’t understand, both were sarcastic remarks.) Why don’t you give everyone a break and hide out someplace safe and quiet and away from drugs and alcohol and find something to do with your life except embarrass yourself? Trust me it would be better than what you are doing now. In fact, I guarantee it. By the way, the song below? Aptly named to describe your life.  Enough said. If you end up like all the overdosed, dead pop stars, that’s your choice. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Mellow Yellow Monday

Autumn Colors Eternal Infinity Scarf Orange Ye...

Autumn Colors Eternal Infinity Scarf Orange Yellow Brown (Photo credit: smittenkittenorig)

We all know I hate WINTER, so to ease the pain I have surrounded

myself in inexpensive scarves. My focal point in this one, is, of course,

YELLOW. I am trying to think of Winter as the precursor to Spring…

Remind me of that if/when I start complaining!

Happy Mellow Yellow Week to all of you.

Mellow Yellow Monday – Yellow Clothing/Tank Top

Wouldn’t it just brighten your day, a little bit, to see someone wearing the color of sunshine

English: Photo by willgame taken from www.flic...

English: Photo by willgame taken from http://www.flickr.com of a woman wearing a yellow tank top. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Open Letter To My Fat Clothes

My mixed up salad

Dear Fat Clothes,

The first thing I have to say is: DON’T WORRY! I am in no way getting rid of you, not now, not ever. Forget what they say in all those Weight- Anonymous -Watch- What -You Are -Eating – Weigh- In -Clubs. I say NO. After being a three life-time membership winner to one of the above happy family groups I say, don’t listen. I will NOT throw you out or give you away because there is that chance that I will slip back to my slovenly ways again. I might. I’m not saying I want to but the truth is that it’s a possibility and I need to deal with that.

If it makes me feel better to have a corner in the back of my closet that have looser clothes for when I fluctuate (that I can theoretically wear on grundgy days) so be it. It makes me feel good to know that I have them. In fact, I believe you will find a whole array of sizes in my closet like a mini-mart of clothes. That’s alright too. Maybe I will get thinner some day, maybe I won’t. Right now I am comfortable where I am; I am right where I usually end up and if I put an effort into exercising a little more each day I will be downright proud.

The most important thing is that my eating habits have changed completely. I make healthy choices, yes to salad and vegetables, fruit and chicken; no to Twinkies and Snowballs. I haven’t had red meat for the last three months but I am considering eating it a burger on the grill sometime in the near future.

I hate to admit it but smaller portions and moderation are key. Also, I never drank any fluids during the day except my first cup of really strong coffee but I try to drink water now and have limited diet soda drinks, though haven’t cut it out completely (I’m working on it).

I’m not skinny nor am I fat, I’m comfortable, eating well and I’m sure my cholesterol is down. (It better be.)

So clothes, don’t despair, you are not going anywhere. You are staying here with me. Right where I need you and where you belong.

Love, Me

My End of Day Routine

Flashdance

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t worked full-time in a long, long time but the first thing I would do, without variation, is to change my clothes. Off came the Laura Ashley  flowery dress with the shiny, black pumps or the sky-colored blue suit; on came jeans, a loose shirt, and clogs. Never being the real corporate type, the clothes I had to wear to work were my corporate persona. My real persona danced around my studio apartment to music, like “Flashdance” when I got home. I may not have looked like Jennifer Beals but I felt like I was her in my comfortable clothing, singing out loud to music, arms swinging, heels hopping. The inexplicable feeling of freedom as your entire body sighs in relief and the automatic happiness that a young, independent woman feels in her own space. Enchanting.

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Finish that Last To-Do Item!

Closet

Image by dansays via Flickr

Be Serious.

What’s one thing I can’t seem to scratch off my to-do list? I want to be Monica from “Friends” insanely organized, neat and absurdly clean. I want to say I can do all these things but I just can’t. I do very thorough yet occasional cleaning sprees but I am NOT organized. My dream is for a company like California Closets to sweep (literally and figuratively in and organize my entire life. I want everything divided neatly and color coordinated. I want the drawers and the closet marked with easy to read signs. I want sweaters divided (one thick, one thin) into sweater drawers. I want all my papers and photographs to be organized by date and year and put in big black and white journals. I want shoes that I haven’t worn in ten years to be thrown out instead of stashed in the back of my closet. I want to have a set dusting date twice a week and stick to it and really get right down with Pledge and have the living room smell like fake lemons. You get the picture. What I want and need is Nate Berkus to come to our cozy little home with the Extreme Home Makeover team at the same time. That’s the only way it will ever be done. Perhaps Martha Stewart could stop by and leave some blueberry muffins too, yeah right. In my dreams.

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What I'd Name My Own Clothing Line

Donald Trump

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Real People Inc (RPI)

My clothing line would be called Real People Inc. (or RPI). It would cater to all of us so that all men and women from teeny- tiny to large and extra-extra large would be accommodated in the same store. Why should people have to go to different stores to buy clothes? I think it is unnecessary and I also think it categorizes people into groups. There’s no need for that. We need to encourage tolerance for everyone. This is for men and women, young and old, boys and girls.

My style is comfy, with a touch of bright color, usually in an accessory (my 17-year-old daughter taught me that.) Take all the Big and Fat, Husky and Hot, Size 00, 0,1 and 2 stores and blend them together. It’s one way of not dividing people but including and appreciating everyone. We all need to embrace TOLERANCE. This would be a start. If I had the money, I would design that line and build that store. If either Oprah or The Donald needs a new investment, please have your people call my people. ( I don’t really have people but I can pretend!)

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To Reach A Hidden Heart

heart

I’m a mom, a fifty-four year old, plump (not so pleasantly),  kind, giving person but I laugh too loud. Sometimes because I have only fifty percent hearing in my left ear, I also don’t always hear things perfectly. I wear old mom jeans, sneakers instead of  gold strappy sandals, or even unlaced Keds, because my feet hurt and ache constantly. I have plantar fasciatis and just walking in any shoes is uncomfortable.  I have Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroididtis and numerous other ailments. I’m old.

I don’t wear flirty skirts because (see above) it would just look plain silly. I can’t wear tight shirts (well, I could) but the stomach bulges would hang over my jeans. I used to have pierced ears but I think they closed so I don’t wear much jewelry anymore. Most importantly, I don’t wear make up from Sephora or MAC or Bobbi Brown. When I wear lipstick, which I do almost every day, I consider that enough. Should I be ashamed of these things, proud or just accept them? I’m okay with it but I have an almost seventeen year old daughter who most probably wishes, I was a cooler mom. A much cooler mom.

It’s not as if I stay in the kitchen and make home-made oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies because I don’t. I spend money at the supermarket and look at every single product, especially new ones.I bake brownies from a box (Ghiradelli) and the only thing I bake from scratch is an amazingly moist banana-raisin -chip loaf. My son adores it and appreciates it, my daughter won’t even try it because she hates any type of raisin and anything resembling a mushy banana. The only banana flavor she eats is mixed with strawberry in a pink container that has artificial  flavorings called yogurt. Sometimes, if my husband makes a smoothie (with ice and ice cream) she will drink it; when I make a smoothie it isn’t cold enough.

More importantly I wear my emotions like I would a soft new white scarf. Actually, you can see how I feel miles away. The worst offense, I’m mushy. My daughter is not. She keeps her feelings inside of her so even when I attempt to tone down my mushiness and delicately try to give her a compliment, she turns inwards. I wear my heart on my sleeve, you can see my emotions a mile or two away, my daughter keeps her feelings way deep inside her. I’m trying to connect with that but I’m not having much success. I know she loves me, I do know that and of course, I love her more than anything (read this kids: I love you both equally.)

When my daughter was very young, I was her world. She needed a lot of comforting and she could find that only in my arms, her tear-streaked face blanketing my neck like a worn-out washcloth. Now, she’s an amazing young woman, sure of herself, has a lot of friends, talks to me about them but her feelings are buried down deep. She is like my husband before my constant influence on him for the last 24 years. I want my daughter to know how much I love her, how proud I am of her, how I know she is incredibly intelligent and kind but I’m not sure I’m getting through. Yesterday, we spent the day together and I delicately told her how happy I was to spend time with her each week. I got this as a response: “ok.”

I feel frustrated but I guess my job as a mom is to make sure she knows I love her and that I will always be here to listen if she wants to talk. If I turn down my emotions any more I will be mute. The only thing I can do is wait and see what happens and accept her for who she is. I am happy that she talks to me about her friends, I am thrilled she is affectionate with her friends; I hope they can reach inside her wall and feel her beauty, her heart and her strength. I hope someday I will have the same privilege too.