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Curl up with a good blonde — Rossi Rant

Curl up with a good blonde

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I Love New York


I love New York City.

Well, I love the New York City that may not be quite there anymore. It’s a bit like looking at a six-foot-tall guy and remembering him as a toddler – in this case, an adorable but naughty toddler.

I remember when NYC had grit and wonder and edge and CBGB’s and the 2nd Ave Deli!

The day they turned the 2nd Ave Deli into a Chase, I knew the NYC of my heart was no longer. I went in to make a bank deposit, and I swear I smelled pastrami.

Most of the mom and pop stores that made NYC so magical are gone. They have been replaced with big chains, superstores, condos, condos and more condos, and did I mention condos?

Now they want to knock down Junior’s in Brooklyn and put up what? Yes, condos!

Penny wise, pound foolish is a phrase that comes to mind so often.

Yes, the crime is way down. That is great, but also way down are the character, the wonder, and the glorious kaleidoscope that made NYC so friggin’ awesome.

I know from my own path of running a small business in NYC for decades how hard it is to stay here. Every new law that is passed seems to put money into the pockets of just about everyone BUT the business owner.

But when the small business owner is pushed out, doesn’t everyone lose? Workers lose their jobs. Agencies can no longer collect fees. The neighborhood loses its character and New York City takes one more step toward being everywhere else.

Sometimes I look around my corner on the Lower East Side and feel as though I am trying to hold the torch for the NYC I love, disappearing a little more every day.

A luxury 13-story building is going up next door. I’m sure a Starbucks is on the way.

And by the way, what happened to Mars Bar?

I haven’t given up, YET. I am still fighting the enormous pull to leave NYC for a cheaper, easier, far less stressful place to do business.

I stay, if but for no other reason, to hold the fort!

Long live CBGB’s !

April 10, 2014   Comments Off

Out Loud and Proud Hurray Robin Roberts


I feel thrilled for Robin Roberts. She survived a terrible ordeal with cancer to emerge beautiful, victorious and finally able to come out publicly about who she really is. Robin Roberts is a gorgeous, vibrant, loving, talented woman who also happens to share her life with another woman. Good for her!

I was on the beach in Provincetown Massachusetts with my GF when my neighbor Andrew Sullivan told me with a proud smile that his friend Anderson Cooper had come out via an email to him and given Andrew permission to put it on his site. It was thrilling to be standing on the beach watching gay couples holding hands, in a town that has long been a safe haven from homophobia and get the news that one more public person had decided to be brave.
Rock on Anderson!

With the demise of DOMA, excuse me for a moment will you dears… “HURRAY!!!!!! YAYYY WOO HOOO!” you would think that coming out would not be such a hard choice for public figures but clearly it is.
Do you know any A list movie stars who are out? Do you really think there aren’t any?

Right. Okay. Jodie Foster finally took the public plunge. She’s not exactly an A-lister anymore, but better late than never. You go girl!

My own coming out story is less glamorous.

I was fifteen years old when a French kiss in the women’s bathroom of Toad Hall, (a nightclub in Red Bank New Jersey that, at the time was one of the few places in Jersey that would let punk bands play) changed my life forever.

It was 1979 and I had no idea I was gay. I had never even considered the notion, but five seconds into that spontaneous and miraculous kiss with Cindy Butler (name changed, she’s not as brave as I wish she was) and I knew my life would never be the same.
Suddenly all the answers to questions that had plagued me since I was four-years-old came spilling forward like an avalanche!

That’s why I had to bring my first grade teacher Mrs. Mahon an apple every week!

That’s why I could not even consider being anywhere but the television set every Wednesday night, in time to see Lindsay Wagner play “The Bionic Woman!”

I took a lot of abuse in the 7th and 8th grade and didn’t even know why I was targeted, but my abusers knew. Pretty preppy popular girls knew there was something just not Kosher about the girl in the flannel shirt.

Oh I got my revenge my dears. I broke out of my shell and ruled my high school as the badass rock-and roll biker chick from hell!

But even then, I was covering up. I knew I was different just didn’t know exactly how, that is until that one kiss blasted the walls open.

It wasn’t like I was ready to admit out loud that I was gay after that. It took a few more years to come out to my pals who all said the same thing, “DUH!”

I didn’t come out to my mom until I was twenty-five. She offered to pay for treatment to “Help me live an easier life.”

“That’s okay mom, I like myself the way I am.”

I have marched in parades, joined rallies, but in some ways, without my realizing it, I was still in the closet.

When it came to running a company that specialized in weddings, I didn’t want to alienate couples or their often-nervous parents. Rather than anointing myself rainbow, I marketed myself as “Alternative!”
Lord knows that’s true.

Then marriage equality hit the main stream and I realized that if I didn’t fly my gay flag, I was part of the problem not the solution.

Yeah that was me at the Gay Pride parade with the sign reading, “Gay Caterers do it with sauce!”

What can I say I’m a poet!

Who-ever you really are, just go out and be it, live it, do it.

Life is too short to live in closets, even ones with really great shoes.

To Robin and her long-time girlfriend Amber Laign, I say MAZEL TOV!

March 4, 2014   Comments Off

New York Mama


New York State of Mine

My friends call me the quintessential New Yorker.

Yes, I admit I moved here from Jersey when I was 16, but after 33 years I’m as hardcore a New Yorker as they come. Besides no one in NYC is actually from NYC. Well, OK, a few, but they’re as rare as a mailbox these days. Hey! Post Office! I know you’re hurting for cash, but did ya have to take away all the mailboxes?! It’s hard enough to pay a bill these days!

But I digress..

Here’s where the quintessential thing comes in.

because I’m …

Jewish – spiritually, culturally, but, umm, I actually only drag my butt, or shall I say “tuchas” into a synagogue 3 times a year and that’s for the high holidays. So yeah, that makes me a high holiday Jew.

However infrequently I make it to Shul, I know the important laws of my people. A NYC bagel is never spread with cream cheese. It is given a shmear. It is illegal to eat smoked salmon on a bagel without a slice of red onion; optional but still recommended is a slice of tomato. Kosher pastrami is always better then non-kosher and must always be eaten on rye bread with mustard. Only a tourist, not to mention a gentile would eat pastrami on white bread or with mayo.

Neurotic – I have no idea why people say this. Maybe they have tumors from the dust mites in their apartments crawling into their brains. I do feel that negative energy can be sucked in by your air conditioner, so it’s important to keep the filter clean.

Fast – I would explain this to you, but I don’t have time.

Bitchy – Hey! I am an empowered babe! So skip the B word! Although yeah, I do get a tad cranky upon occasion.

Eccentric – I guess this must be true, because I find the word “Freak” to be a compliment.

Cool – I’m too cool to care about being cool. I can prove this because I don’t live in Brooklyn, although I do live in the East Village, which, I am told, is a suburb of Williamsburg. I don’t drink beer or whiskey and I don’t even know what a “Cronut” is!

Colorblind – My clothing color wheel consists of black, gray, olive and blue. Anything else, except of course for orange sneakers, is an atrocity.

Multi-faceted – Sorry dear, I’m too busy to chat, the writer side of me is finishing my memoir while planning a monoprint for my artist side and the chef side is ordering 30 pounds of flank steak for the wedding I am catering. Call me later when I’m an amateur therapist.

War-torn – Lemme tell you ’bout Crown Heights in 1981, baby. If the muggers didn’t get ya, the wild dogs would. We can also talk about Time Square when “sexy” meant you could buy sex there, needle park when it had needles and Tompkins Square Park when it was Tent City. Like most old school New Yorkers I don’t miss the crime, but lordy I do miss the EDGE! I knew the NYC I fell in love with was gone when they replaced the 2nd Avenue Deli with a Chase!!!

Tough – F-you, your mother, your mother’s mother and your mother’s father’s mother!

Generous (with advice to non New Yorkers)
Hey lady! Ask a cop for directions! They’re paid to be annoyed! Oh and by the way! Houston Street is pronounced HOWSTON, not HU-stun!

And mostly
Because after 33 years, I’m ruined for living anywhere else.

When I put my hand in the air, I want a cab to pull over not someone across the street to wave back! Waving! What is that?!

“Forgetaboutit!”

January 29, 2014   Comments Off

Satan Wheat


Satan is in the Bread

We never understood how my five-foot-tall mother blossomed from an hourglass hometown beauty queen of about 130 pounds into a 275-pound Yiddish meatball. She hardly ate. During dinner, while my sister, brother, father and myself gorged ourselves on kosher fried chicken and egg noodles, Mom would content herself, nibbling at a slice of tomato.

I knew of toddlers who ate more then Mom.

When my dad would complain about her weight gain, she would respond, “I have a condition!” and who were we to argue? … The woman hardly ate and gained more weight in the first 10 years of my life than I did.

We figured Mom must have had the thyroid from Mars.

One night when I was 11, I couldn’t sleep. I crept down the stairs to the kitchen in search of a leftover drumstick.

I saw a ghostly figure hunched over the kitchen dinette table. I rubbed my eyes and focused. It was Mom. Backlit by the dim, flickering light over the stove, Mom seemed to glow.

On the table in front of her was a loaf of Wonder Bread and a tub of soft butter. Her eyes looked forward, unblinking and glazed, as she reached down, robotically, grabbed a slice of bread, slathered it with butter and folded it into her mouth, then reached for the next slice. The loaf was a third gone, and judging by her pace, I could only assume that she wasn’t going to stop until it was all eaten.

“Mom?” I whispered.

She kept eating, slathering, eating. Her blank eyes did not look toward me.

I opened my mouth to speak again, but something made me stop. I slowly stepped backward into the living room and tiptoed up the stairs. For reasons I did not understand at the time, I told no one about what happened for two decades.

Years later, when I’d moved out on my own to NYC. I was walking through Union Square Park. Those were the days when Union Square might as well have been named Heroin Square. I saw a junkie sitting on a bench, his eyes glazed, his hands methodically scratching a sore on his arm, his gaze somewhere over the tops of the trees. I knew that look. It was the same look my mom had on what I’d come to call the “Night of the Living Wonder Bread.”

In those days, I was too poor to buy vegetables, meat, or fish. My meals were variations on bread and pasta. Mac and cheese from a mix, spaghetti and tomato sauce on sale four-for-a-dollar, pizza bagels from bagels, tomato paste and American cheese. When I had enough money to buy tuna, I’d make a tuna and noodle casserole.

After things got easier moneywise, I never broke the habit. Diving through the entire breadbasket at a restaurant was the norm, sometimes asking for a second basket before the appetizers showed up.

I didn’t drink to excess, avoided most drugs, quit smoking at 24, but bagels, pizza and pasta? Now that was my kinda addiction.

By the time I turned 30, I’d acquired a host of strange ailments: skin breakouts, rashes, respiratory problems.

“You’re allergic to wheat,” a naturalopathic doctor told me as he peered at my skin.

“No more pizza?” I screeched and declared the doctor to be a quack, thus allowing me to ignore him for another decade.

By the time I turned 40, I couldn’t ignore wheat anymore. I’d show up for work, eat a cookie and spend the next three hours coughing.

Quitting wheat was harder than I expected. Sure, there were obvious items to avoid: bread, pizza, oh in short, LIFE, but there were also the sneakier items.

Who knew soy sauce was not only wheat-based but in just about everything?!

I can’t even count how many times I found out the salad dressing I was enjoying was made with soy sauce. It wasn’t just soy sauce. The gravy on my steak? Flour-based. The corn breakfast cereal? Mixed with wheat. Oh, and forget about dessert! With the exception of ice cream, I was screwed: cake, pie, strudel, cookies … flour, flour, flour and flour.

It was enough to make a gal cry, and trust me, I did.

Thankfully, it did get easier; I found a wheat-free pizza joint in my hood. The local health food store offered a freezerload of gluten-free breads. Corn, brown rice and quinoa pasta hit the shelves. I even found a tasty, wheat-free soy sauce. I happily gorged myself on all of these not-so-good, but not-so-bad, substitutes. I think of these products like methadone; it gets you through, man.

I live my life hopeful that if I continue to be a good person, stay honest, loyal and honorable, that when I die, I will be sent to an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet, at which I may gorge myself for the rest of eternity on spaghetti and meatballs without gaining an ounce, coughing, bloating or breaking out.

Until then, I’m learning to feel grateful for the plate life fed me.

All the women in my mom’s family died of obesity-related ailments. Maybe my wheat allergy is a blessing, after all.

I’m a 40-something gal, the same age Mom was when she gained a hundred pounds. I’ve got a little extra meat, but it landed in the right places. I work out three times a week, have the energy to walk 60 blocks a day just for fun and can easily touch my toes, nose or most of my other body parts if I so choose.

Some folks say they don’t believe in the devil, but I do. I just think he lives in bread. I mean, hello? Why else would it taste so good?

January 24, 2014   Comments Off

Merry Kitschmas


I like to think of being Jewish as a marathon sport. I can dole out a soul-crushing guilt complex, shot-put-style, successfully match-make without meeting the intendeds and turn dinner for two into a fridge full of leftovers.

I am Jewish Woman; hear me roarrrrrr.

And sure, it comes with some issues, but I’m proud of each and every one of them. They were bequeathed to me by David. Yes, right after he slew Goliath, he said, “And now I shall pass down to all the future Jewish generations a strong dislike for plain butter on white bread. An olive, a pimento, maybe a smidgen of herring would be nice, but just butter?” (This is why Jews do not spend a huge amount of time in Connecticut.)

I love being Jewish! Not that you cared or noticed or even sent a card or some flowers, but no matter … I’ll live.

Eleven months out of the year, I celebrate, but then what I think of as goyim revenge creeps in. … It starts in November … the loneliest time of years for members of the tribes … the time we are reminded, yet again, that we are, in fact, different … the Christmas season. When Noel rolls around, I feel like the only one locked out of a sample sale.

“Let me in! I’ve got credit!”

Suuuuuure. We’ve got Chanukah, eight days of it. Eight days trapped in the living room while your parents discuss the time you were constipated for a week from too much egg salad. (Hey, eating 35 eggs in three days would block up the Hudson River.)

Eight days when your gifts are doled out agonizingly, one per day to keep you coming back for more. It’s menorah blackmail! Speaking of presents … can I just interject here to say that SOCKS, SHAMPOO, SOAP, UNDERWEAR AND TOOTHPASTE SHOULD NEVER BE GIVEN AS A CHANUKAH PRESENT! These are, um, what parents are supposed to give their kids all year long. It’s just wrong to gift-wrap these things!

It’s also wrong, by the way, to give your kid a Barbie doll missing one arm from the Grant’s Going Out of Business Sale. No wonder I have issues!

Christmas always seemed much more merciful. You have a huge Christmas Eve dinner among your loved ones, eat massively, pass out, wake up, open gifts, eat some more and leave. Heaven.

Sheesh, even when you try to ignore Christmas, it’s just impossible! If you decide to watch television, every single program has some spliced-in Santa element. The closest I’ve come to a Chanukah program on the holidays is a “Twilight Zone” marathon.

So what’s a Jew to do on Christmas? Yeah, I know, we go to the movies. Last time I did that, I wound up watching “Titanic,” and honey, that didn’t exactly lift the downtrodden mood. I mean basically it was a movie about a whole bunch of rich Jews drowning in a big boat, and worse yet, nobody sued.

Some Jews get into the spirit, by adopting a sort of morph of both cultures, the old Cranukah spiel, but this year, Chanukah crashed into Thanksgiving and left us bupkis for Christmas!!

There was something depressing about the Chanukah bush anyway. A Christmas tree adorned with dreidels, Moses statuettes and pictures of Barbra Streisand was never gonna cut it!

No. To really beat the left-outta-Christmas blues, one must think bigger than Barbra, and I don’t mean Bette … ’cause let’s face it: Bette rocks, but Barbra is still the Streisand.

No you have to think bigger then even Barbra … I know … the Lord’s name in vain … but I’m on a roll … on December 24th of this year, I will be instituting the first annual Kitschmas Eve.

On this festive holiday, Jews in leisure wear will feast on a wide array of exotic dishes like kishka, schnitzel, kreplach, latkes and kugel and sip sparkling Manischewitz punch. Dessert will be babka, halvah, strudel, rugelach, hamantashen, a tall glass of seltzer and three Tums per customer.

Then it’s off to caroling!

On the first night of Kitschmas, my true love gave to meeeeeeeeeeeee …
Intestinal gas from eating too much cheese.

On the second night of Kitschmas, my true love gave to meeeeeeeeeeeee …
Two Prilosecs, one tab of Advil, three ginger ales and Adam Sandler singing Chanukah songs.

Well … anyway, you get the point dears. Make up your own Kitschmas carol; my kishkas are killing me.

So what do we do on Kitschmas morning?

Eat a pastrami omelet, followed by lox (Nova, only) on an everything bagel with a shmear, give everyone a gift certificate for online shopping because life is short, and spend the afternoon digesting. Heaven.

December 28, 2013   1 Comment

sandy one year later


on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy
it seemed fitting to dig out this post from rossirant
a year ago
man
I still can’t believe it happened
our basement is still not renovated..
water stains still on our lobby walls
piles of water stained photos still sit in boxes in my living room
and one of my neighbors was only just able to move back in to her first floor apartment this week!

but we are alive and we are well
so yeah…Sandy– you were the storm of the century for NYC
but we New Yorkers are a tough breed…and we still stand strong and proud

anyway, I digress…
flash back one year ago Sandy

rossi

The Sandy Aftermath

Greetings from zone A
My dears I can’t even tell you what this girl has been through this last week
I watched cars floating on my block, our basement took 15 feet of water, we had no heat, power, phone, internet, hot water for a week!
We still don’t have hot water and honey this shit has been freezing!!
Talk about a cold shower!
Downtown, the east village, lower east side, everything below 39th street was dark. It was the strangest feeling looking uptown and seeing all the lights, looking downtown and seeing black.
And my dears, I thought crossing the street in ROME was scary! Crossing the street in Manhattan with no traffic lights?!! Shit… at night, close to suicide!
but we waved our flashlights, prayed and stepped off the curb.
Today I am throwing away all my paintings, photographs, beloved possessions and so much more from my basement storage that I did not think would be affected because it sat on top of concrete slab that is nearly four feet high!
15 feet of water!!! Still can’t believe it. I thought I would go down the stairs to see the basement with a few feet of water, but the water was over the top stairs and a foot high in the first floor too!!
It’s been rough, but here are the good things…watching my neighbors (even one, who hasn’t exactly been friendly to any of us), band together to help each other, watching the entire hood share and help each other..watching people donate food to each other, lend generators, feeling more love and kind-ness then fear and anxiety all around me.
New York City really does have a heart and you feel it when disasters strike.
It reminded me of how kind everyone was after “911″
We really needed a bright light at the end of this terrible tunnel and we got it Tuesday night.
I couldn’t even get my TV to work until after the announcement, so I knew he won by the cheers in the street, but honeys, my dears, “Thank god OBAMA won!”
It’s the first happy moment I have had since October 29th when the east river flowed over avenue C down our block and into our lobby!!!
Please lord, heal our pains, save our basements, save our economy, keep our children warm, give us a hot shower one day soon and help OBAMA to be all that he can be.
To the Republicans, take a lesson from the east village this week and put aside your partisan crap, step across the aisle and help the democrats help this country. You didn’t want to help OBAMA get re-elected by voting yes to anything he wanted to do to help our country, well now he got re-elected anyway, so vote fucking yes already, this country can not afford blue and red, just like my hood could not afford US and THEM!
We are all in this together!!

October 30, 2013   Comments Off

Buffy and Dexter


I remember watching the last episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” 10 years ago, which ends with Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her cronies barely escaping the implosion of Sunnydale. Standing on the other side of the crater that was her home, Dawn (Buffy’s mystically created baby sister) asks, “What are going to do now?”

Buffy starts to smile, knowing that for the first time in friggin’ forever, she doesn’t have to be the one to know.

But I wanted to know!

“Buffy, for crying out loud, what the hell are we going to do now?!”

The void that was left after “Buffy” was bigger than the Sunnydale crater.

“Angel” eased the emptiness for a little bit, but it started getting weird between his whiny son and Cordelia’s coma.

“Veronica Mars” gave a touch of Prozac to the void, but there wasn’t enough camp or blood letting for my taste.

No, dears, it wasn’t until a mild-mannered, Clark Kentish, boy-next-door serial killer came along that the heartstrings that had belonged to “Buffy” were pulled once more.

Darling, daring, dashing, dastardly, delicious Dexter!

For eight seasons, I have watched spellbound as Dexter chased down and killed killer after killer. For eight seasons, I have felt the complex tear that is caring for Dexter, really being on his side, but knowing he is a sociopathic killer, fixing for the next plunge of his knife.

When his wife, Rita, was murdered by John Lithgow’s wondrous character “The Trinity Killer,” I was horrified, but to be honest, Rita was getting on my nerves. (This although she was a shout-out to Buffy and Angel fans, being the same actress who played the vamp who turned Angel and gave birth to his annoying son.)

Far better suited for Dex was the haunted Julia Stiles character, but nothing, nothing compared with the love match of Hannah McKay. Hannah the poisoner was a perfect “shidduch” for Dex the stabber.

There were Dex moments I could do without, like when Deb realized she was in love with her adopted big bro Dexter. I shouted out, “Ewwwwww!” from a very intellectual place. It’s even creepy that the actors were married in real life.

And Elway. Yech, the only thing good about Dexter ending is that I won’t have to watch annoying, skinny-ass Jake Elway anymore. This guy put the W in weasel.

Sunday night has become our favorite night, with my gf by my side who is now even more hooked on “Dexter” than I am. This week, bundled up in bed, we watched the very last “Dexter.”

I won’t be a spoiler here, except to say this was a far better ending then “The Sopranos.” At least I didn’t run to my TV to see if it was broken. OK, I get it! It’s art! But not my kinda art!

It ended haunted and lonely and eerie and sad. When it was over, when the last precious moments faded into television past, I felt that familiar cavernous feeling in my solar plexus .

“What are we going to do now?!”

I have a full life. Between my catering company, my writing career, my painting career, my love life and the small social life I try to squeeze in when I have five minutes free, I don’t have time to have a void! But honeys, at 5 am after the last “Dexter,” I woke up with a darkness that I can only call mourning.

I was sitting emotional “shiva”!

Life without Dexter! It’s like a birthday cake without candles!

So what are we going to do now?

Go for a walk, smell the air, hit the gym, make love, write a book, make a great satay sauce, catch up with friends and pray for a serial killer, vampire slayer with a heart full of puns and a fierce right hook one day soon.

Until then, there’s always “True Blood.”

October 2, 2013   1 Comment

Ode to Norma Holt


Ode to Norma Holt

I met Norma many years ago when I rented the smallest apartment I’d ever stayed in. We are talking little! I once almost dis-located my shoulder trying to use the bathroom. But it had a view, wow what a view of the Provincetown bay. It felt a bit like a cocoon. I rented the little place for 8 years and wound up doing some of the best writing and painting of my life there.

On the pier next to me a lot of folks rented by the week, including some great pals of mine, some owned, some rented for the summer. There was a seasonal renter of several years, a woman named Norma Holt.

On one my daily walks on the bay beach one afternoon, an old woman shouted at me, ”When you going in the water? Walking is fine but go in the water!”

I tried to argue, I wanted to clear my thoughts on a walk, the water was cold, bla, bla. She wouldn’t hear any of it and simply demanded I go for a swim. Once she got me to agree she also demanded I hold her hand and help her into the water, then after she submerged help her out of the water, then help her to her chair, then help her up the path to her tiny apartment in the back.

The next day I discovered that she had also enlisted her neighbors Andrew Sullivan and his boyfriend Aaron (now husband) as her dutiful solders to cart her here and there, feed her and entertain her.

“One simply does not say no to Norma,” Andrew explained.

For the rest of that summer, when Norma would catch site of me, she would wave me over to sit with her, swim with her, help her to and from the water. I have to admit there were days I hid behind the railing of my deck so I could have a little quiet time, but mostly I got a kick out of her.

I had no idea who she was, that she was a talented photographer of many decades and had lived a life that should be written about in novels and film scripts. She never bragged. I had to find these things out from others.

As the summer went on I took her out to dinner to The Squealing Pig and she told me what it was like to be in an inter-race marriage, I think it was in the 60’s or possibly 50’s I don’t recall, but certainly during a time that making that choice was dangerous. She felt she had much in common with the gay community trying to march to their own drum and not fit the norm and she was right.

I would escort her, by trotting along side her electric scooter, as she cruised down commercial street to T.J. Walton’s gallery for T.J.s artist’s brunch, which really was just an excuse to sit around and worship Norma.

On the way there, she would ride in the middle of the street holding up traffic and when they would beep, sweet little old lady looking Norma, would turn around in her chair and give the finger, with both hands!

Then she would spin off laughing at the shocked tourists.

I went with her to the Schoolhouse gallery in town and looked through the collection of her wonderful photographs. Michael the gallery owner knew I was Norma’s pal so suggested I ask her if she wanted to give me a discount.

I held up a darling photograph she’d taken of a sweet little old lady sipping a cup of tea totally naked and asked, “Norma can I get a discount on this?”

After a summer of buying her groceries, taking her to dinner, helping her to and from the water, I was kinda thinking she might make a gift of it to me.

Norma looked up at me sheepishly with her beautiful eyes and said, “Why on earth would I do that?”

You gottta love her.

September 15, 2013   Comments Off

12 years later


so here we are 12 years later

it was another gorgeous, sunny, crisp magical morning
warm like summer giving up its final grasp in a last burst of glory

i woke up and actually, actually, for the first time since that morning, forgot what this was the anniversary of
then i made a cup of tea, turned on my computer and remembered in a bolt

i flipped on the news footage of the ringing of the bells, the reading of the names, the bagpipes, the many, so many lost faces
and felt ashamed that i had managed to forget for a moment what day this is

but maybe it’s all good
maybe, 12 years later, it’s time not to forget, no my dears not to ever forget, but to start thinking of this day as something else

I always remember the first wedding I catered right after 911
they were going to cancel their wedding, but the groom looked in the Talmud
the ancient book of Jewish Law to try and find some reason to go on
and he came upon an old law that says when a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet at an intersection
the wedding procession has the right of way

the law elevates, new love, new birth, new beginnings over mourning

so here we are september 11th 2013
i see school children that have just started the new year walking by my window
happy to be out in the sunshine

and it makes me think yes yes it’s a sad day, but it’s a new day
it’s a new chance to make the world better to make our life and the lives around us better

my dears i am not going to say my heart does not ache today

i still run past construction sites because the smell of construction dust reminds me of ground zero

i still can’t see any movies about 911

i still keep my 911 hard hat in the far top of my closet where i can’t see it but always know its there

but today i am looking at the glorious sun and the happy kids
and thinking it’s all open, it’s all un-written
and i am ready to live, live, live this gift of life

shana tovah
peace to you all

September 11, 2013   3 Comments

The Journey or the Destination


Today I am feeling inspired by Diana Nyad. This 64-year-old babe has accomplished her more then 3 decade long dream, by finally on her 5th attempt, swimming from Cuba to Florida. We are talking about 110 miles chock full of sharks and jelly fish!!

Honey I just turned 49 and I am feeling it. Lately I have noticed that my knees hurt after a long day of cooking, that my feet fall asleep when I sit at my desk too long, that no matter how much I work out and watch what I eat, I put on weight in seconds! Part of me says, “50 is just a year away! Then its down-hill on roller skates!”

But I look at Diana, at Diana who says she is stronger now then she was at 28 when she first tried the swim, at Diana who goes back into the water knowing what it felt like to be stung by jelly fish to have large predators swimming below her, knowing exactly what she is getting into; brave, stoic, humble and patient Diana. Imagine if she had given up at age 50.

She added 14 years to that 50 and kicked it in the butt!

On ABC today in her interview with Robin Roberts, (a woman who knows a lot about survival herself) Diana talked about the journey. She said the journey was thrilling, meeting the people, looking inside yourself and finding out what you are made of.

Painful yes, but she lived the thrill of the journey.

It got me thinking about this thing called journey.

How often do I get so caught up in finishing and hopefully (please lord!!) publishing a book that I forget to feel the experience of writing?

How often do I get so caught up in hanging my artwork in a show that I forget to inhabit the process of putting brush to canvas?

In reaching the end of a hard day of catering, I often forget to savor that perfect sauce I just finished simmering, or that marinade that came together like magic when I added just a drizzle of fresh lime juice.

Celebrating the journey, is a lesson I should have learned growing up.

My parents carted my sister, brother and myself in our white-trash motel on wheels; the camper, from South Jersey to North Florida every year. I guess some folks can do this trip on I-95 in 3 days, some folks can drive straight through in less, but it took my family a week.

This was a week of stopping at amusement parks, petting zoos, pecan pie stands, the South-of-the-border Mexican souvenir joint, the Thunderbird Inn all-you-can-eat Southern buffet and as many rest stops as my constantly having-to-go-to-the-bathroom family needed which owing to an ample supply of 3-liter diet soda was A LOT!

Arriving in Panama City Florida, was anti-climactic. A summer on the redneck Riviera? 120 degrees in the shade and all the water bugs we could chase out of our bungalow? Not exactly a thrill ride!

But the journey, had offered us an adventure!

Sadly my family as role models offered a mixed message in celebrating the journey in life. No one except for me indulged in this thing called chewing. We could be served the best pasta with the most sublime marinara and it might as well have been corn in a pig’s trough. My brother would suck the whole thing down without using his teeth once. Ditto for my mom and dad. My sister just pushed her food around and asked for money.

I was the only one who took a moment to say, “Wow that tomato sauce was really tasty!” Guess I was destined to become a chef.

I am certainly not saying Diana’s journey was a pleasant one by any means or anything to savor or enjoy. It was more excruciating then most humans could endure but she was living every moment of it.

She was truly living.
“Find a way!” was the motto she used to get thru the hard moments.

Diana said she was faster in her 20’s but stronger now in her 60’s. It’s another tale of the tortoise and the hair and slow and steady wins the race once again.

When she climbed out of the water to the cheering crowd, she said, “You’re never too old to chase your dreams!”

Thank you Diana for reminding us that dreams are ageless and that journey tromps destination!

Now if only I could get my family to chew.

Hmmm Find a way, find a way.

September 3, 2013   Comments Off