Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen, my parents, Carlotta and Dave. The photo was taken on New Year's Eve, 1970. Which means my mom is three month's pregnant with me and clearly having what they call a "European Pregnancy." Yes, it does look like she's wearing curlers, but alas, that is the mod chandelier they used to have in the background. This might be my favorite picture of them ever.

I'm really not that much of a Sum Up kinda gal. Here we are at the end of a decade again. And everyone is making their useless pop culture Top 10 lists. Top 10 Albums, Top 10 Movies, Top 10 News Events (which now morphs into reality stardom when at the start of the 2000s it was still actual news, remember our collective naivte?), Top 10 Movies, Top 10 Reasons to Make a Top 10 List...

Of course, a lot happened in the world around me that had a big impact. But I'm sharing my personal history here.

The dawn of the millennium was the twilight of my marriage. The fall of the Towers also coincided with the death of a beloved grandmother, only a year after the first one died. The ownership of an apartment was the money pit of despair. The season of hope and change brought unemployment and emotionally complicated health problems.

But there is the good stuff. I found Bruce Lee Kitty the very same day my husband and I began to call it quits. I got dumped the same night I met the person who became my best friend (OK, he also dumped me once, but the kids are alright now). I learned new skills with even better ones to follow (I can only hope that with rejection comes reward with perseverance). Those health problems are going to be the subject of a damn good article, maybe even a book someday.

So sure, after the year 2000, Radiohead's Kid A still holds up while All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2 left the joke in the title. But what I really learned the past ten years is:

1) stop with the drama
2) start with the fun
3) learn from mistakes while leaving past behind
4) when it's cold, wear a hat
5) listen to the signs telling me I need a break
6) never stop learning
7) prevail
8) no hair product truly seals out humidity
9) that last drink is probably a bad idea
10) (but not least) my friends are awesome

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Van Winkle Miracle Snow Story

I sort of have a guest blogger today. With permission, a friend of mine, who requested I withhold his name, has allowed me to post the note I received from him following the big blizzard. There had been an intimate gathering at the home of friends in the Village, and we all departed relatively early (after copious amounts of awesome Chinese takeout, wine, champagne, Waterfront Alehouse Sam's eggnog and whisky) to make it home in the snow. My F train ride was somewhat eventful, diving through snowdrifts on the walk home and clawing my way up my stoop to get into my building. But the following story about my friend's journey home in Westchester is epic. And an impressive recounting considering my friend's state when he was writing it on most of a bottle of Van Winkle 12 Yr, hours after that big boozy dinner. Enjoy.

P.S. He's way too old to play my friend by decades, but I somehow picture Steve Martin in the movie version.

Little after 2. Just got in. Had a bit of an adventure getting here. The train doors didn't open at my stop. Stood there pounding on the glass, pushing the emergency call button, watching my snow covered car getting smaller as the train carried on to the next station. Went back through four or five cars to finally find a conductor who was no help at all and by that time we were at the next station about six miles from my car and home. No trains going back the other way until morning, no cabs in the blizzardy soup and no kind fellow travelers to bum a ride from. So I walked down the middle of the main road in a rather grim parody of Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey on my slow, cold way to Bedford Hills, not Bedford Falls.

         Whiteout conditions up here, I walked a ways, trying to flag down the occasional plow or sander going past to no avail. Got about halfway and wondered if I shouldn't just sit down in the snow and crack open the Van Winkle. Then decided I could walk and drink at the same time. When I was about a mile away from the station, about five miles and a good four fingers of fine Bourbon down, one of the big department of transportation plows pulled over and took pity on me. I explained the situation and climbed aboard, saving myself a little walking. To his credit, the driver refused the drink I offered him and wouldn't take a dime, but dropped me off next to my car. Then I just had to slip and slide in low gear up the lousy hills of Bedford frickenfracken Hills. And here I sit, pouring some more fine Bourbon into a little tumbler of Lactaid eggnog and typing out this long stupid note to you all. Which has oddly enough made me feel much better. That and the fact that "Mansquito" is on the SciFi channel in the background... truly awful in a so awful it's good way.

           Thanks to you all for the presents and booze and company tonight. It's good to have good friends, and after my lovely trip home I'm more determined than ever to move closer to the lot of you. Happy Holidays and safe travels to those traveling! Right. Shoveling snow and then bed. Joy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good Grief

So guess what?

I got a job!!!

Patrick Watson of Smith and Vine, Stinky and Jakewalk, businesses I have been a huge fan and patron of since they started five years ago, offered me a job at the brand new Brooklyn Wine Exchange next to Trader Joes on Court St.! The plan was to help them set up, then holiday sales, then eventually become a manager or some sort of buyer once the dust settles. My starting hourly wage was the highest on offer, and everyone was "so excited" to have me on board!

So I spent three and a half days schlepping hundreds of cases of wine up and down steep, scary basement stairs, carefully placing bottles on the shelves according to varietal and region, helping to make shelf talkers, etc. then three more days getting their sales going. All the while tired and sore, but also "so excited" and hopeful. Finally. A wine job for cool people who don't yell at me constantly or sell crap to please the common denominator, five blocks from my house, and some of my very favorite off the beaten path wines to turn people on to. So what if my social life would suffer. So they didn't have a spirits license yet. All in due time. I can be a great wine bitch when it's needed. I am all up in that.

And then guess what?

Patrick informs me that evenings are too quiet. Too many staff on the floor. Not enough to do yet. My hourly wage is too high to maintain. Myself and another staffer had to go. Yes, I was good at what I did and well informed. Yes, I demonstrated sales ability. But they just couldn't afford me. And that was it. Come get your step stool and cash for your last shift. We'll give you a stunning recommendation if you reference us.


Now Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has her classic grief cycle,  but mine kinda goes something like this:
1. Shock
2. Anger
3. Extreme Anger
4. So Angry I Can't Even Scream or Cry
5. Wait I Can Cry Now But There Is Nothing To Throw Without Pissing Off The Neighbors
     a)Screw the Neighbors and Their Newborn, I Have Old Plates I Can Throw!!!
     b)No I Can't Do That
     c)Well, Maybe
     d)OK, No
6. Acceptance (That I Need To Dispose Of Said Plates In an Open Field)
8. Run Errands
9. Pick Up Step Stool and Cash Without Letting Now Former Boss Say Anything Further
10.Tell Parents
      a)Explain Once Again How Call Waiting Works
      b)Explain Once Again DVR Programming Functions
      c)Turn Down Offer To See Broadway Musical
      d)Make Dinner Plans For Random Event 2 Weeks From Now
          1. Look, When Your Cousin's In Town, Where Should We Go For Lunch? 
Cry Again
Order Chinese Food