Monday, January 31, 2011

Hunks on A Truck -or- Another Thing I Love About Firemen

All New York City firemen are wonderful. That's been proven time and again in small ("Sir, my cat's in that tree over there!" ) and immeasurably huge (I don't even need to say it) ways.

New Yorkers also know they are ridiculously handsome. There was a period sometime in the eighties when they all seemed to have mustaches and were extra melti-fying.  Young mamas, such as myself, would push strollers past fire trucks parked by local groceries so the firemen could stock up on macho food items for their firehouse meals, and we'd stare like idiots. And ladies, I know, for a fact, that it wasn't just me. You know who you are.

Not only are they lovely but they will be at your house in three minutes, ready to pull you from a burning building. Combine this with the fact that they look like they do and the combination is mesmerizing. Beloved by men and women alike, they are rock stars on the streets of New York, and doubtless, cities all across America. It turns out, however, that they are lifesavers in another way, too.....

Thumbing through the paper the other evening, I was sick over the state of the world. Between people dead in car trunks and snow banks, violent political unrest, joblessness, global warming and the trivial but disturbing news that the Girl Scouts are cutting down on the number of cookies in a box to reduce costs, the news was taking its toll on my sunny (read that as bitter and cantankerous) disposition.
Luca loves firefighters, too.

Then I came across a black and white photo of a little boy talking shyly to a handsome New York City firefighter. The picture was taken at a ceremony honoring two members of the FDNY for saving lives by donating their stem cells. Upon further investigation, it turns out that FDNY firefighters are the largest single group of bone marrow donors within the New York Blood Centers Special Services.

Owen Fay (Engine Company 33, Manhattan) donated twice, saving the life of and restoring a normal childhood to Luca Campana, a five year old from Texas. Michele Fitzsimmons (Engine Company 67, Manhattan), a third generation firefighter, saved Michael Wolak, a father of two from Michigan.

This bit of poignant sunshine was what I needed to remind me on yet another day of mudslides and murders that sometimes the news can be good.  Most people are good. And NYC fire fighters still look good but, most importantly, illustrate the fact that--despite the old saying--beauty can be a lot more than skin deep.
In case you didn't believe me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sprung From Captivity

My prison bars.
Seth came home today. Haggard from hijinks with his other wife (I still wonder if she, oh, forget it...), he had to leave the car at the top of the driveway because we were buried under a fresh snowfall. Despite his fatigue, he found the strength to snow blow me to freedom.

And no--for those of you wondering why I didn't spare him the task-- despite my superhuman powers, I cannot handle that thing. Have you seen that giant toothy gear (technically called an "auger") in those machines? It's an amputation waiting to happen. If I were to ever have absolutely no choice but to to use it (ex. "Susan, if you use this snow blower, world peace will be achieved.") I'd stick my hand in right away, just to get the inevitable mangling over with.

And, for those who may ask, "Why didn't that clunky witch go out for a walk...maybe get some fresh air?" The answer is because that would have involved, well, walking.

In any case, I was sprung. Jumping in the car, I drove to the supermarket where I acted like Jeff Bridges in Starman (remember that movie---if not, rent it, it's great!), turning unfamiliar objects--cartons of OJ, loaves of bread--over in my hands and staring at them, making spooky eye contact with my fellow shoppers, speaking took a while until I felt like part of the mainstream again.

By frozen foods I was myself, doing what I normally do--trash talking little old ladies who can't reach stuff and making mean faces at babies when their mommy's backs are turned. God, it was great to be out.

I will look back on my period of captivity as an opportunity to become one with my inner self, to contemplate the meaning of life and become spiritually whole. Not.

It was a four day extravaganza of over-eating, irrational and unpredictable weeping, television watching and perusing the archives of my all-time favorite website, I've seen Meg Ryan's awful lip inflation and Viveca Fox's weird cleavage from more angles than I care to admit.

I also spent hours on end trying to count the exact number of Kardashians but, despite my best efforts, could not. Same for Justin many of him are there, anyway?

Thanks to all who took this journey with me. Speaking of, my stats page has informed me that every afternoon in New Zealand, for the past week, approximately fifteen people are viewing this blog and I just want to say hello--and thanks--to all my new friends over there.

Many thanks, also, to everyone who took the time to sign up and leave me comments. I really appreciate it.

Have a great weekend,everyone....we'll catch up on Monday.
Why, Meg, why?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Captivity: Day Four

"You've been stuck inside for how long?
Today I tried to poke my nose out of my front door to reassure myself that the world was still there after having been isolated from humanity with five cats and a horrible spider that turned out to be, upon closer inspection, a flattened jelly bean.

I "tried" to poke my nose out of the door--did anyone catch that? I tried. The word "try" indicates possible lack of

My front door was frozen shut. Frozen. Solidly. As in un-openably.

So, I did what I do best--I totally wigged out. First, I became a cartoon character with two hands on the doorknob and two feet up on the door, head thrown back, eyes closed, teeth bared in effort. No luck.Then I screamed to the cats, "We're trapped!! We're trapped!! but they barely stirred from their morning naps. They knew I'd recently stocked up on their favorite high grade catnip to feed their habits, so nothing else mattered.

I was about to call 911 when I suddenly remembered that the house actually does have other doors. So I ran at break neck speed (which, for me, is just ever-so-slightly faster than a slowish walk) to the interior garage door, nearly yanked it off it's hinges with the superhuman strength borne of irrational panic and hurtled out into the driveway and the four inches of snow that, if you read yesterday's post you know, I've been expecting elves to shovel.

This was my first time out in three days and I blinked at the light like Robert Pattinson awakened from a deep nocturnal slumber. 

I no longer remember how long I've been in the house. Seth has still not returned from work. He is hoping (like I believe that) to make it back tomorrow but it depends on getting the "engines back on line" and if road conditions are good enough....and whether the second family I'm pretty sure he has down there can spare him. I wonder if his other wife, er, never mind....

Luckily, come evening, American Idol was on to distract me. I am not sure whether it's because I haven't seen another live human in so long but Steven Tyler looked pretty damn good to me.

By the way, I don't miss Simon Cowell and his prominent nipples one bit. I like the things dangling from Steven's hair and the fact that he needs reading glasses just like I do. He's only a few years older than I am but seems to have ignored the memo that said men his age should not wear pants with eyeballs embroidered on the tuchas but what the hell do I care....he's my only friend at this point.

Told ya.
Hopefully, my front door will thaw in time to slam it on the spring crop of Jehovah's witnesses, Seth will decide we're more fun than his second family and come home, I can successfully relearn the social skills lost during this period of incarceration and American Idol will be more interesting than it was last far, I'd say it's looking good.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Alone and Unsupervised

I disagree with Napoleon Dynamite
I dreamt there were giant tumble weeds of dust and cat fur drifting around, threatening me, last night. It was awful. Oh, wait---I wasn't dreaming.

I've been left alone for a few days without either a working vehicle or adequate estrogen...and I've been naughty. In the same vein as "if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound," I have been researching the parallel concept of "if you don't take a shower and there's no one to smell you, do you stink?"

I have also been waiting for the driveway to magically shovel itself. Since I genuinely believe this is possible and keep peeping out of the window, hoping to get a glimpse of the army of elves arriving with tiny shovels, my isolation may be causing delusions.

The reasons for my confinement are too boring to go into---they involve lots of snow, problems at work for my husband, car issues and lack of public transportation...factor in a hearty dose of reclusive weirdness and you get the idea.

Now, throw in a half bag of frozen Tater Tots to complete the picture. Purchased, long ago, to feed a visiting child who ate only Tots and chicken nuggets, I'd forgotten they were in there but, upon a freezer re-con mission yesterday, there they were. I don't remember ever having eaten a Tot but, aware that they have caused controversy for being a nutritionless staple on school lunch menus and are considered total crap, they became irresistible to me in my current state of degradation.

I prepared them as directed--misplacing my glasses immediately afterward so as not to be able to read the huge list of artificial ingredients on the bag. 

They smelled great and I left them in the oven long enough to get crispy, eating them with a little ketchup and a guilty expression. To my surprise, they were terrible. Tasteless with a weird texture and a vague hint of petroleum flavoring, I aimed the entire paper plate at the garbage.... and totally missed. Disappointed and unsatisfied, I peeped out of the window again to see if the elves had arrived. They had not. 

Not ready for sleep thanks to erratic nappage, I cursed the day caller ID was invented because it suddenly occurred to me that a few prank phone calls might be entertaining. Have I mentioned that it was after one in the morning?

The Tots got their revenge by causing indigestion and bad dreams but morning arrived and I am showered and all done up in fresh house-attire. Perhaps I will use my time cleaning out a closet or drawer. Perhaps I will search for M&Ms in the couch cushions for hours on end....who knows.  Wait--I think I hear the elves....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drunken Monkeys With a Sledge Hammer -or- How My Family Coped with Minor Adversity and Avenged John Wayne at The Same Time

Our Family Crest
One of my all-time favorite statistics is that one out of four people has physically assaulted their computer. When I first read that, it made me laugh out loud.

When another member of my family (who shall remain nameless but who once set up shop in my uterus) attacked our printer I, very self-righteously, told him to stop acting like a savage.

Now that I have done it, I realize fully that assaulting an inanimate object is a reasonable response in certain situations and offer heartfelt apologies to savages everywhere. 

I was trying to assemble a photo book on Snapfish and while, I'm pretty certain, the problem lay with the web site, that didn't matter after the photos I'd painstakingly downloaded, one by one, kept disappearing.

Suddenly, my hand shot out-- totally on it's own--and slammed the keyboard, sending it off it's cord onto the floor.

My husband, whose only comment was, "If you broke it, you're going to have to move out," managed to put everything together again except now we have to prop it up on one side with a wadded up wrapper from a Klondike Bar.

I did not expect this harsh response from a man who once master-minded the sadistic murder of a troublesome VCR.

The victim had been chewing up tapes and behaving badly for years. Finally, after "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne was eaten--on St. Patrick's Day, no less--Seth snapped.

Pulling it from the wall, he dragged it out to the driveway where each member of the family was given a pep talk and a turn with a sledge hammer.

We didn't need the pep talk--my family is always ready to use a sledge hammer (for years, I actually kept one in the back of my car for no other reason than it made me feel happy) and besides, this damn thing deserved to be punished for eating John Wayne. 

We were just wailing away at it, laughing our heads off, when the family who'd previously owned the house we live in, drove by on a visit from their new home in the midwest (where there must be a higher percentage of sane people, judging by the look on their faces).They slowed down, literally gaping at what was happening in their former driveway: four maniacs bashing something small into splinters with a sledge hammer and howling like drunken monkeys. It may have been a first for them.

Looking up and seeing shocked faces hanging out of the window of a minivan, I asked who they were as I walked toward them, sledgehammer still in hand. As they were rolling up the windows and stepping on the gas, they yelled that they used to live in our house and had been hoping to come in to take a look. "Sure!" I shouted at the back of their car as it sped down the street, "Come on in!"

They had come by once years before, right after we'd moved in and I'd let them in. They were very put out that we'd painted over the dark green walls in the living room and were not shy to say so. Since the sledgehammer incident, we haven't heard from them again which is a shame because I would love to hear what they think of the wallpaper in the kitchen

The moral of this story is very simple: If you want to keep people from bothering you, approach them with a sledge hammer.
Disclaimer: The menacing use of sledge hammers has not been endorsed by either John Wayne's heirs or his estate.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jets + Mets = Despair (But Joe Namath Still Makes Me Smile)

Just so damn cute.....
When I was a little girl--despite being a baseball fan from an early age--I had a huge crush on Joe Namath. Me and most of the females in New York City.

We didn't care that he had a reputation as a womanizer or that he night-clubbed in a full length fur coat or even that he wore pantyhose in an advertisement (click link below). He was just cute as hell....that smile, that fu manchu mustache, that hairy chest, yowza.

I followed "Broadway Joe" in the Daily News for years. Hence my vague interest in the New York Jets. Emphasis on "vague."

My family was baseball, all  the way: Immigrants glued to the TV, my grandfather bellowing in Hungarian as fly balls were dropped or opportunities missed at the plate as the fledgling Mets earned their status as underdogs.

Then they won the world series, of course, in 1969 and my family shared the joy with the rest of the city. I also remember that we enjoyed that triumph with a grain of salt---true Mets fans, cynical by nature, feared this win was a fluke and sensed that David Wright, wearing a flying saucer on his head, was in our futures.

My family never successfully transformed into football fans despite my adolescent interest in Joe Namath and the Jets' own huge up-set Super bowl victory in 1969...although I did wear and still own a little Jets bracelet given to me that Christmas.

Based on the news this morning and the embittered attitude of my sons (one of whom likes to place a monetary wager now and again on the outcomes of certain games and has, as a result, proven that steam actually can come out of someone's ears ), the attitude in Jets-town today is pretty dismal.

Hence my query--are most Mets fans, Jets fans? And if so, does it indicate a subconscious desire to suffer?

Both teams played in the Polo Grounds and then moved into Shea Stadium-- an inescapable connection. You can't grow up in the same house without bonding.

Don't underestimate the subconscious importance that Jets rhymes with Mets. Or that the Jets started as AFL underdogs as were the upstart Mets underdogs, daring to organize in a city where the Yankees reigned supreme.

They also, according to my extremely unscientific research, seem to share a traditional inability to achieve consistent success, obviously translating into discontent and frustration for their fans. Mets and Jets fans are also unified based on the fact that the richer franchises in town attract "front-runners," a word neither of my sons can even utter without spitting on the ground and shaking their heads.

So, Mets fans and Jets fans are united in frustration and disappointment. Football, for me, is no more than background noise despite the angry howls and the sound of snack items being flung about so I don't dare say more than I already have.But in the course of your day, if you come across a Yankee fan (after all, spring training is only weeks away), just turn up your lip in disdain and ask him if he'd have the nerve to wear pantyhose in public.

The question will confuse him, giving you a brief and insignificant victory but a victory, nonetheless...and, apparently we have to take those when we can get 'em.YouTube - Joe Namath Beauty Mist Pantyhose Commercial
 The fu manchu era. I rest my case.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unforseen Circumstances of A Bad Cat

Bad Cat
Innocent Victim

Sitting on edge of bed, minding own business, focusing on task at hand which involves--pardon the expression--toenails and a clipper. 

Nifi, a very bad cat, decides to bust chops of Fritzi, a rather old cat, and jumps at her, causing her to scream and leap up on bystander's leg, puncturing it with her set of little slashers and causing bystander--in alarm-- to gouge a huge chunk of--pardon the expression--skin out of toe. There is blood and yelling, followed by gauze, band aids and a little more yelling.

Time to leave house....favoring foot with bandage, hobbling out to driveway. Foot favoring causes loss of balance and corresponding slip on patch of ice. Big fall. Impressive elevation achieved as footing is lost. No bleeding because bouncing around on soft parts prevents it. No yelling because neighbor is scraping ice off vehicle directly across street.

This is all Nifi's fault. He is the bad cat and these were the unforseen circumstances

Other unforseen circumstances are how much fun I am having writing this blog and meeting you all through comments and other blogs. Thanks for signing up, adding me to blog rolls and offering advice. Most of all, thanks for reading. Have a great weekend--stay warm--and see you Monday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Artisanal, My Tuchas....The Real Deal on Brooklyn Cuisine.

Calamari on a Friday night....
My son, Tom, recently suggested that I talk too much about Brooklyn in this blog. I respect his opinion immensely and have tried to control myself.

However, like bulges squeezed into other locations by a pair of Spanx, it has to come out somewhere, so.. to the UPS man, mailman, cashier at Shoprite, gas station attendant, kid at the drivethru, teller at the bank, guy in the Volvo at the red light yesterday--- my apologies.
I recently read something that requires my attention, Tommy, so forgive me but....
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (which may explain things a bit) talks about how the culinary scene is changing in my home borough.

It seems there is a huge artisanal (what does that really mean, anyway?) culinary movement there and that a new restaurant is being developed in Manhattan to promote Brooklyn cuisine in the city.  
As far as I knew, Brooklyn cuisine had already made it to Manhattan (since Manhattan is a higher-priced reflection of the surrounding boroughs, anyway) but this article informed me that what Brooklyn cuisine is now considered to be is, among other things, hand-crafted cheeses, pretzels, beers and pickles.  What? WHAT????
It also went on to stun me by claiming that many people from the county of Kings now prefer the term Brooklyneer  to Brooklynite. Are they crazy? What are we-- friggin' pirates?  Anyone I grew up with—real Brooklynites with heavy accents and lots of attitude would hit you with a bat if you called them a Brooklyneer. Hence, the standard response: "Hey, whad-daya  callin’ me???  Get the $%&%@ outta here before I hit you with a bat!”   
Honestly, people. Is nothing sacred? Have we been yuppified and gentrified into thinking that artisanal cheese is Brooklyn cuisine? Go tell them that at the Vegas Diner on 86th Street and see if you escape unbloodied.
I ate at the Vegas through out my youth and both pregnancies....cold salad platters, roast pork on kaiser rolls, chef salads, Greek salads....I followed this all up with hummus, felafel and gyros in Bay and heros from Bensonhurst, pasta from Pastosa under the el--so fresh, it would slap your face..deli, bagels and seven layer cake from Boro Park..knishes, frozen custard and Nathan's franks from Coney Island and ice cream at Jahn's, cheescake at Junior's...This, my friends, is Brooklyn cuisine.  You can throw a little artisanal cheese on the eggplant parm before you shove it into the oven.  If you must. 
I'm mouthing off here, I know. And, by nature, I've always been open to new ways and new cuisines. I've tried vegan and even "raw." I might even taste a handmade pretzel crafted by some whippersnappers who moved to Brooklyn from the midwest because they enjoyed reruns of "Welcome Back, Kotter" when they were kids. But do not be confused about Brooklyn cuisine. And, if I so much as hear you whisper the word (and I use that term lightly), "Brooklyneer," I'm gonna hit you with a bat. Now, go...have a canoli and calm down.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Two Stupidest People on Earth Live in Our House

Seth, beneath the "spear of death."
Allow me to cut to the chase--that would be me and Seth.

The "why" is where it gets scary (Tom and Charlie, stop reading now so you'll still take us seriously, if you still do....or ever did....oh, forget it).

I discovered the benefit of "white noise machines" years ago in a continuing effort to cope with both the decibels and nightly chain-saw impressions of one Mr. Snore-y McSnorererson, aka Seth.

Before those who know me start to defend Snore-y by indignantly announcing that I, too, am a snorer, allow me to say that while this may be true (although unlikely since no dated footage exists), Seth swears he is not bothered by my snoring (nothing--including nuclear testing--can be heard over his, anyway) while one single snore of his is enough to work my last nerve to the point of, well, ka-pow.

My little machine has a bright green light which, when it's on, illuminates the entire eastern seaboard and by which Mr. Magoo could perform successful neurosurgery or cut a diamond or...well, you get the idea.

On Seth's side of the bed is a telephone. It has a red blinking light that is so bright that it could keep ships from crashing on the rocks of a jagged coastline in a deep fog on a moonless night.

We have spent hours in earnest conversation over why these things would be designed with such bright lights that, by the way, cannot be turned off. "What, Seth, were they thinking?" I snivel nightly as I drape a  sock over the beacon by my bedside. "I don't knoooooowwwww," he will snivel back as he positions a magazine over the beacon on his side. This has, literally, gone on for years. Years.

About two nights ago, Seth--who, by profession, deals successfully with huge and expensive machinery and problem solves daily--turned to me with a face that appeared to have just spotted Jesus having toast in the kitchen, "Why don't we put a piece of duct tape over the lights?

I--who, while not the sharpest tool in the shed yet have successfully learned to program the DVR and did not need the accompanying CD to learn how to use our coffee maker, looked at him and said, "WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!!!" 

Down he pranced to the duct tape storage section of the garage and snipped two cunning little squares of tape and, voila---blessed darkness. Simultaneously, of course, we realized that we should have thought of this most obvious solution on day one, not year six and have been taking to each other like Granny Clampett and Jed ever since: "Well, dad-blast it, Susan, what in tarnation kept us from figgerin' this out years ago?"  "Dang it, Seth, I just cain't figger!  Could it be we are idiots???"

Well, yes. 

Only idiocy would have prompted us to gleefully snap pictures of Seth standing directly beneath a giant icicle hanging from our roof that had dripped its way into a "spear of death" or cause me to step directly into the biggest hairball in the western hemisphere, mere seconds after commenting, "Wow, that is the biggest hairball in the western hemisphere.

So, Tom and Charlie, if you've read on, don't worry. They say that often a gene will skip a generation....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dressing for Success

I hate reminding you about our age. Especially the women reading this. The most sensible among us can get a little touchy about the numbers but the merciless continuum of growing older leads directly to what's on my mind today: how women are dressing in 2011.

I am certainly not here to say that our choices are right or wrong, just different. Unless, of course, you are allowing your daughters to get on the school bus dressed like pole dancers which, by the way, some of you are.
On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I noticed a striking number of women, my age and older, wearing dangling earrings and lots of natural fibers. You know the type--they wear Birkenstocks with socks in the winter and organic cotton pants in the summer and are always buying sacks of flax seed to sprinkle on their pro-biotics. I also spotted an attractive woman with very long dark hair, who had to be in her sixties, who had flung her coat into her cart to reveal a Pink Floyd tee-shirt worn over a pair of tight jeans.

My point is that women today dress as we did when we were younger. Our wardrobe choices no longer reflect a certain age but who we were, and how we dressed, in our prime.

In my mother’s day, we would have been more likely to ease into the traditional uniforms of increasing years. Back in the 60s and 70s, as women grew older, many automatically adopted lower hems and heels, less visible cleavage and, in extreme cases, the disconcerting addition of the rolled-to-the-knee nylon and public display of the floral “snap coat.” 

Admittedly, my frame of reference was “the boros” of New York City where many mamas were foreign born and only a half-step from their all-black clad predecessors (my friend's grandma) who plucked chickens in the kitchen before dinner (my own grandma). So, this was—in itself—progress.

Children, primarily girls, have made progress, too. Gone are crinolines, ringlets, banana curls and pedal pushers. While the wardrobe choices of women my age have evolved in what I believe is a positive direction, I question the choices for little girls. Not that I want anybody back in crinolines, but I am occasionally shocked by the sexy little outfits displayed in store windows or on second-graders at the mall. This is something I hope will eventually ratchet back to more age-appropriate wear. Got that, Suri Cruise, you nutty little fashionista?

We've come a long way. Most importantly, we do not have to pluck chickens before dinner. And the progress of fashion has had a liberating effect. It was, however, easier back then to tell who was who. Now, anything goes.
Customs, too, were different. Back then, women of all ages were not hesitant to appear publicly with heads full of hair rollers. Spotted everywhere, wearing dozens of rollers in all sizes (often put in so tightly as to appear painful), my mother's generation would often knot a filmy scarf at the backs of their necks to protect their intricate configurations. Today, especially in my little adopted hometown, if we saw a woman with a head full of rollers signing her kid out at the high school or squeezing tomatoes at the market, we'd be stunned and might try to stage an intervention.    
We all march to the beat of our own drummer… long as it’s a variation of what everyone else is doing. Botox and wonder bras do not go with my mother’s generation. Mint green polyester pantsuits accessorized with sensible shoes do not go with mine.

We've made such drastic changes in a generation that I can only wonder what we’ll be wearing in twenty years. Personally, I hope that snap coats stage a comeback-- how easy that would be! Worn with Birkenstocks, dangly earrings and a crinoline underneath it all—sign me up!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Oh, No....Not Another Mood Swing!!

I love my little world. Imagine that we are in a spaceship looking down at the planet.  Now zoom in a bit and focus on North America.  Come closer and closer still until the state of Connecticut fills the portal and keep coming until you are peering down at the little patch that is my town. You can see the spire of the church, the strip of schools and then, closer still, my house—grey and white on the low side of the road.  
There I am…pecking away happily at the keyboard of my computer, pleased to see a bit of sun after a huge snowfall, wondering how much more we'll get before spring, wondering what to cook for dinner….
Now, fast forward less than an hour.  I have cried my mascara into black clown lines and have torn the house apart looking for chocolate. Yes, a mood swing swung by….opportunistic and mean, it surprised me like a jab from a tricky boxer might catch a distracted opponent on the chin. Since they are so quick and, lately, so unexpected, there is no way to completely prepare for them.
Don't worry. In case you are a newcomer to this type of erratic emotional behavior, I am about to help you maximize your mood swing experience with a few easy tips.  First, it is pointless to resist a true mood swing.  It is not your problem that others around you may be seeking medication, religious sanctuary or possible legal action as a result of your sudden seismic shifts---this is your mood swing.  Own it.
It is paramount to always have chocolate at the ready so that if one does strike, you won’t have to rely on some chipped or faded M&Ms hidden--amidst the lint--in the pocket of your sweat pants. Although, in a pinch, that will have to do.
Plan ahead so that, somewhere in the fridge, there is a container of  left-over Chinese food, preferably roast pork lo mein---for that is the holy grail of mood food when your hormones are acting up and the chocolate is gone. Wash it all down with about a gallon of Diet Coke, yell at the next person you see and cry immediately after. Then laugh in a very scary way.
Hug a cat, then tell it to go away. If there happens to be a husband on the premises during all this, focus immediately on him by quickly digging up some petty offense he committed about twenty-five years ago and rant about it until he runs sobbing from the room. Follow him and ask him why he’s wearing pants that don’t fit. If he’s locked himself in the bathroom, place your mouth right up against the crack of the door and continue screaming. Then, suddenly, straighten up and scuttle away.
Your work is now done. I told you this was easy but be aware--these episodes come and go quickly so a lot must be packed into a relatively brief time frame.
The pendulum will, more than likely, have swung back by this point and despite the fact that you are already getting puffy from the lo mein and the Diet Coke, you must now act as if nothing has happened. It's over, as mysteriously as it began.
I wonder how much more snow we’ll have before spring and what I should cook for dinner…..

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Voice

Honey and...
I realized yesterday that when my children call me I use a special voice when I talk to them on the phone. 

Only a few, short minutes after I finished talking to Seth, sounding like a cross between nails on a chalk board and an old-fashioned typewriter cross-bred with a machine gun, Charlie called.

All of a sudden, honey and sunshine combined in my throat and cascaded out of my mouth in the form of puppies, fluffy little lambs and ripe summer strawberries.  Even I heard the difference.  Afterwards, Seth came sauntering out and looked at me balefully.  “I know,” I said.  “Good,” he answered, “because you are a weirdo.”
I am not a weirdo. I am a mama who misses her boys.  And when one of your children calls, a mother puts away the machine gun and pulls out the honey. I must have talked to Seth like that once upon a time. Maybe when he was a merchant marine, calling from a distant port, his voice preceded by the staticky tone of the marine operator—“You have a call from—insert name of oil tanker here.” Then he may have gotten that voice.  Maybe.
But we mamas know. The kids are the kids. They get the juiciest drum stick or the cookie with the most chocolate chips, the brightest smile and the voice. Seth is, actually, the kind of papa who totally gets it.

He may not have a special voice but he has other things reserved just for the boys. The invitation to take a ride and return home with bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches (the kind from town with the hash browns inside) or to go for a walk around the block to talk politics...or, the secret attack--a pounce from a hiding place that unleashes wrestling and pummeling that only fathers and sons can share.
We all use many voices, no?

There’s the one when talking to the bank teller (trying to sound stable so your transaction goes smoothly), the guy at the deli counter (still trying to sound stable so your transaction goes smoothly), the one for ordering in a restaurant or talking to the receptionist at the vet’s office. There’s the “chatting with a friend” voice which can vary depending on the level of intimacy and  the voice, if you're lucky, that you use when talking to your mother.

This, often, is your true voice because you can just be you. I would alternately whine, bark, yodel, whimper and screech in any one conversation with my mother. She understood each inflection and transition and would adjust her own voice to best handle it.
Which brings me right back to how I talk to the boys.....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Red Coat bad coats.
It was only a matter of time before I wrote about the coat.

Its' memory has lain, not-so-dormant, for many years in my mind's eye. When I need to suffer, I summon the visual images of myself wearing it--a girl of about twelve, stumbling along to junior high, so self-conscious that, while the coat was on, I wouldn't make eye contact with anyone. Even the creep heading to work, metal lunchbox under his arm, who believed it was his moral obligation to say something obscene to me every single day on my route to school, would give me a morning off when I wore it. It was that bad.

Before I got my first job, I depended entirely on my mother for my clothes. Money was tight and, when I was very young, we relied on "bundles" from God-only-knows-who for much of what I wore. Occasionally, there would be something wonderful in a bundle. I remember a brown corduroy coat with a fur collar that I loved though I now realize I looked like the tiny manager of a speakeasy when I wore it. There would be slacks, jackets, mother, a talented seamstress, sewed my dresses. They were beautiful but she channeled Charles Dickens when she designed them because I resembled a character out of Oliver Twist for years. Hence, my job at fourteen...hello quiana body suits, polyester and blue jeans. While I never achieved status as a fashionable dresser (ever), once I started buying my own things, life improved a bit.

The red coat arrived, in a bundle, one fall day. It's color could only be described as nuclear flaming cherry. It glowed and pulsated, a dye-job gone horribly wrong. It was no mystery as to why some other girl, somewhere in the tri-state area, had discarded it. Made from a plush, dense faux fur, its buttons were huge plastic globes of the same awful color and it's bulk made me look like a neon barrel when I tried it on. Some hater of children had created this coat, someone who'd been forced to wear something equally hideous (not that this was even possible) and was now going to pay it forward so another hapless loser would be forced to endure similar shame. This coat, however, was not only the ugliest coat ever made but, also, the warmest. And that, my friends, was all my mother cared about.

That year hosted a cold winter with lots of snow. The coat had taken up residence in the hall closet, much to the displeasure of the other garments which could, I'm certain, get no rest while sharing a rod with this glowing monstrosity. One awful morning, my mother decided that it was cold enough and into it I was shoved, buttoned and pushed out the door. I walked to school with three friends whose reactions to the coat I have, mercifully, been able to bury deep in my subconscious but--on that first day-- I considered discarding it on the way to school and facing my mother's wrath later.

I could be seen, when I wore that coat, from the windows of space modules as they orbited the earth and I still worry whether a sighting of this coat wasn't somehow responsible for the whole Apollo 13 debacle. But that winter remained cold and I wore it several times.

Then we had a huge snowfall and, for some reason, I had to walk home from school by myself, wearing the coat. Its' red neon and the white of the drifts caused people to look away, fearfully guarding their retinas as they hurried by. All I wanted to do was get home where I pledged that I was going to somehow destroy the coat but just as I was entertaining these thoughts, I lost my footing and plunged into a huge snowdrift. Unable to free myself, I was alone, wedged into a giant drift on an industrial street and dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Resigning myself to death, I stopped struggling.

As I waited for the end, I realized that I felt snug and toasty. The damn coat was doing its job and keeping me warm. Suddenly, I felt two strong hands grab me, pull me out of the snow and set me on my feet. "Wow, I would never have noticed you if not for that crazy coat," said my hero, a friendly iron worker from a local shop.

So, the red coat saved me. It kept me warm as well as made me visible so I could be rescued. I headed home and that very day, despite the coat's heroics, I convinced my mother that it's bulk was what caused me to topple into the drift in the first place. She was unable to trust it after that and I never wore the red coat again.

There are no pictures of the coat. It exists now only in my Jack Dawson exists only in the mind of Kate Winslet's Rose in the move Titanic. I dream of it still.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Ass, Oprah and Me--The True Story

So tell us, Susan, how did your ass get so big?
Okay, here's the truth. In yesterday's post, I said that Oprah had not yet "called me to be on the show." Actually, I was invited to be on Oprah. Not by Her Royal Highness herself, but by a tenacious producer named Ron*. No kidding.

It was many years ago. One of her countless shows about weight loss was on and I watched it, taking notes, comparing my ass to the asses of the women sitting on the panel as they all tearfully recounted exactly how their asses had gotten so big in the first place...blah, blah, blah. I must have been moved by it because I ran to my computer and tearfully tippy-tapped out some kind of semi-coherent email about my own ass and received a phone call from Ron, a producer, the very next day. He invited me to appear as a guest on a show about weight-related issues (with others, to be fair). On the stage, mind you...not in the audience.

Me. Oprah. Me. Oprah. ME!!!  OPRAH!!!!  OH MY GOD!!!!. I vaguely remember crashing through the door of  my mother's room and screaming incoherently for several minutes. Nothing I was saying was even remotely  comprehensible to the naked ear but my mother, somehow, instinctively knew that one only screamed at those decibels after one was invited to appear on Oprah. She soon joined me and we screamed together until the boys came home from school. They heard us screaming and ran in, immediately and correctly assuming that either I or Grandma had been invited to appear on Oprah and then joined us in additional screaming, adding a jumping component to the festivities thanks to their youth and energy. Someone called Seth at work and just screamed into the phone and he, too, assessing the pitch and timbre of the screams, realized that someone in the house had been invited to appear on the Oprah show. There was no dinner that night. Just screaming.

In the light of the following day, it suddenly occurred to me that--brace yourselves--I did not want to go on Oprah. At least not to discuss my greatest inadequacy, my greatest failure, my greatest challenge--weight.

As a newcomer to a small town who already stuck out with her heavy Brooklyn accent and dirty mouth, I did not wish to be the pear-shaped recipient of people's winks and nudges any more than I already was. Now that I am in my fifties, I no longer give one single rat's ass about winks and nudges. But back then, I still had a few hormones and a smidgen of self-respect left and called Ron back on his direct line.

Me: "Thanks, Ron but I'm not interested in coming to Chicago."
Ron: "WHAT????  IT'S OPRAH!!!  WHY NOT????
Me:  "Because, Ron, I do not wish to discuss my fat ass in front of millions of people."
Ron: "WHAT????  IT'S OPRAH!!!  WHY NOT????"
Me:  "Well, it would make me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. I don't want to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed on national TV.
Ron:  "WHAT???  IT'S OPRAH!!!!  WHY NOT????

This went on, I swear to you, for about a month. Ron tried to explain to me that people who "resist Oprah" make the best guests, offered me upgraded accomodations, the privilige of bringing a paid-for guest with me, his first born child and hair follicles if I, or anyone in my family ever needed them for transplantation purposes in the future. He asked me if I was crazy, told me I was driving him crazy, asked to speak to my husband (I refused...because if Beyonce had, somehow, gotten thrown into the mix, Seth would have shipped me to Chicago in a cardboard box) and told me that I would "regret this for the rest of my life."

My kids thought I was crazy. They were on Ron's side from day one. Seth was still on Ron's side even after I tried to speak in terms and situations that any man should understand--asking him to imagine whether a man with a very tiny penis would want to go on national television to discuss this very tiny penis and, upon returning home, be overheard ordering salami at his local deli counter. Seth did not understand this analogy at all and just kept asking me--eyes bulging--what tiny penises had to do with anything. The only person who understood my position was my mother and this may explain why Seth and the boys repeatedly hid her walker and TV guide for several weeks after the excitement died down. Ron topped it all off with the promise that I would be invited to a follow-up show sometime in the future.  But I held firm.

One of the problems was that the more pissed off and annoyed I became at Ron, the funnier I became. The funnier I became, the more desirable I was to him. He even loved it when, in exasperation, I unleashed a string of obscenities aimed directly at him. In hindsight, I think Ron may have had a problem.

I do not regret my decision....but if I were invited again today, I would go. The frontal lobe of my brain, which controls impulse and inhibition, has shrunken sufficiently and I will discuss anything, anywhere--period. But Ron made it clear, after I accused him of harassment--which he also thought was hilarious--that he was done with me. Yoo hoo, Ron, if you're out there......

*Name changed to protect the persistent.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love...Eat, Pray to Stop Eating, Eat....

One of many (many. many) soulful glances.

I needed a little vacation on Saturday night so I rented "Eat, Pray, Love," with Julia Roberts and I have to honestly report that, despite an apparently new-found acting technique of intense nostril-quivering, she looks as luminous as ever.

For those of you unfamiliar with the book-turned-movie (I haven't read it but learned all about it on Oprah, of course), it's about a woman who reaches a point in her life where she decides to reawaken her senses, sensually and spiritually, by spending a year traveling through Italy (Eat), India (Pray) and Bali (Love).

In Italy, she discovers the joys of unrestricted eating...the close-ups of both pizza and pasta leaving me little choice but to go to the kitchen to boil water and assemble ingredients for an ambitious midnight snack. The rich reds of the sauces in the movie had to be created by chopping fresh tomatoes and so I did, mincing garlic and grating cheese while the cats gathered to stare. If they could have spoken, they would have explained that not only can Miss Roberts afford a few extra pounds on her willowy frame but that this "snack" would cause epic heartburn that would keep me up, moaning,until sunrise. In the movie's Italy, everyone was friendly and gorgeous, seemed to love Americans and spoke plenty of English.

India was magnificent, as well. While Julia sought spiritual enlightenment, however, I was preoccupied by her cute little earrings and groovy embroidered tunics. Despite the emphasis on selflessness, I proved exactly what I'm all about by wishing not for oneness with spirit but oneness with cheekbones just like hers. I also now want to travel there and renew my marriage vows in a flower-filled Indian ceremony. Seth hates to travel and is more likely to agree to gender reassignment surgery (except, of course, if Beyonce invites him to India. In that case, he'll be packed and waiting--tail wagging--at the airport within an hour).

From India, Julia's off to Bali, where,of course, she rediscovers the ability to love with none other than the dashing Javier Bardem. Javier portrays the "perfect man." In touch with his emotions, a doting father and unashamed to wear his heart on his sleeve, he makes Bali the fulfillment of the final concept of our heroine's odyssey. Bali was gorgeous, too but tsunami-anxiety and an abject hatred of monkeys has ruled it out as a stopping point along my own journey.

Speaking of which, my journey has been and will continue to be a lot less glamorous. Though I am perfectly capable of just as many searching glances and soulful stares as Miss Luminous can muster, I will be wearing elastic pants and sweating like a stevedore. Javier Bardem will mistake me for someone's mother instead of the one with whom he will rekindle his own damn abillty to love again and, somewhere along the way, I will become disoriented in a chaotic open-air market while searching for cute earrings and wake up to find that someone has left me in a tub of ice after removing one of my kidneys. 

So, I think I'll skip the travel and stay local. Despite my lack of cheekbones, I've learned plenty--both petty and profound. Oprah, however, has not yet called me to appear on her show. I'd be more upset about that if there wasn't plenty of left-over pasta in the fridge.....

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Nest Empties Once Again

And you thought I was kidding....
Our younger son, Charlie, just left.

Belting himself into the car in which he and his cat, Tito, will make the six hour drive back to school, his departure officially brings the holiday season to a close. As we wave goodbye to Charlie, we are also waving goodbye to the youth, energy and fun that a visit from either of our boys ensures. Once the car is finally out of sight, we walk the mile or two we've chased it--barefoot--back home and go inside. After all, we have a schedule to follow.

First, I must turn the heat down to levels that only I and a menopausal Yeti can possibly endure. Then, I will dress in several layers, preferably thermal, including a hoodie which I will wear with the hood up, drawstring tight so all you can see are my eyes. Seth has done the same.

It is now time for the obligatory fight portion of the morning. We will shout, wave our arms a bit and I will cry--therefore, automatically--by reason of tears, conceding Round One to Seth. We will then stalk off to separate corners of the house and sulk and mutter until one of us gets hungry. I will then make tuna sandwiches.

Afterward, we will sit side-by-side, under several blankets and watch a few of the shows we taped during the time Charlie was glued to indie rock videos and reruns of The Jersey Shore. It's good to see Grey's Anatomy and several episodes of Chopped but after chatting briefly about how Meredith is still annoying as hell despite her marriage to McDreamy and how the host of Chopped wears his pants too tight, we will revive the fight. Seth will tell me that I drove Charlie away by repeating myself, harping at him, asking him where he was going constantly even on days when he never left the house and over-feeding him. I will then remind Seth that Charlie had to leave in order to attend the spring semester of his senior year of college. Round Two, always unpredictable, is mine.

After this, I will hide with the portable phone and call Tom to tell him that "Dad is insane." Tom will tell me that he is on the other line, talking to Dad, who called to tell him that "Mom is insane." This is the cue for more fighting but we are growing tired. Round Three ends in a draw.

It's time to try to reach Charlie in the car and he will not answer because he is eating TCBY at a rest stop on the turnpike and I will panic. Seth will calm me down, reminding me of Charlie's fondness for TCBY and I will relax. A truce is announced. I will boil some pasta, throw something on it and we'll call it a day as we both slip into the dreamy abyss of a carb coma. We will awaken only to call Charlie, a few hours later, to make sure he has arrived safely. 

As you can see, I have a very busy day ahead, so I will wish you a wonderful weekend right now. Thanks to all of you reading every day and to those who signed up, this week, to "follow" the blog. It means the world to me. See you on Monday!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Doldrums

Not only people get the doldrums...
I am preparing for the doldrums. They usually arrive sometime in January and, based on the hollow stare that greeted me in the mirror this morning and the halting waddle that transported me down the stairs, I'd say they're right on time.

We'll all agree that the months before the holidays are, if we're lucky, pleasantly busy. For me, the fall and early winter have always been productive. Not having grown up with air-conditioning, my mother and I would emerge from the heat of summer and welcome the cooler months with great happiness. We'd get busy--school for me, creative spurts for her that yielded paintings,, the cooking

Right after Labor Day, she and my grandmother would simultaneously awaken from their malaise and nearly trample each other on the way to the kitchen (getting stuck in the door frame like the Three Stooges) and fight to use the pots, pans and baking trays. Summer's specialties--typically rich, cold Hungarian soups with creamy sour bases, full of beans or fruit--didn't require much stove-time. In fact, everyone in un-airconditioned Boro Park, Brooklyn seemed to awaken from the listlessness of summer and start bustling about. I loved it.

After the arrival of the new year, things quiet down. For me, back then, I'd hunker down with my schoolwork. Now, I hunker down with extra pounds and a bad attitude--anticipating a quiet stretch of gray skies and quiet rooms. Tom has already left---leaving a void and a messy room behind. Charlie leaves tomorrow. His absence will ensure that the silence will be broken only by the sounds of cats scratching around in litter boxes and me asking them why they must attempt to tunnel to China every time they need to go poo poo.

Tom leaves behind a gentle mess. I'm in and out of there in an hour after making the bed, tossing a few things into the laundry and standing to gaze out the window until the cyclical need for carbs (every half  hour or so, right?) rouses me. Charlie's room is epic. During the month off, he reminds me of his high standards for being a slob: never close a drawer, never put anything into a hamper, never take a used dish into the kitchen, fall asleep under mountains of clothing so that he cannot be seen in the room until search parties are sent in. Donning a reflective vest and tethering myself to a kitchen chair, I will attempt, often unsuccessfully, to locate him amidst the debris. When he lived at home, he would have periodic spells of the need for neat. In roughly twenty minutes, he would whirl about--shoving all his clothes, clean and dirty, into the hamper (therefore rendering them ALL dirty) and all his books and papers into his desk...all the while listening to music at top volume. We  received noise complaints from as far away as New Zealand.  How I miss those days.

I will try to make use of the post-holiday quiet. I will write, putter, have my jaws wired shut so I can fit into my spring clothes and hound the boys with emails and cards with sad kittens or puppies on the front. Soon my birthday will arrive, which is a temporary break from the blahs, replacing them with panic, horror and several trips to CVS where I purchase items that promise to erase fine lines and restore the elasticity to my skin. Using them for a few hopeful weeks, they will soon join their predecessors on a shelf reserved for crap that doesn't work.

Well, it's time for carbs again....doldrums, here I come.
Charlie, right before getting swallowed by his room.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

If Charles Manson Calls, Hang Up.

I just read that Charles Manson (who has aged very badly, by the way) was discovered to have a cell phone--LG, flip variety--under his mattress in prison and had made many calls before it was confiscated. While this may explain several hang-ups I've received lately, I am hoping that his illicit phone activity amounted to nothing worse than calling the zoo and asking for Mr. Fox.

Who could he have been calling? Does he have any friends?  I shudder to imagine that he does, indeed, have admirers because every sicko who's ever been in the public eye racks up in point, the irredeemably horrific Scott Peterson (killer of his wife and unborn baby) who receives marriage proposals from women who write to him. Marriage proposals, people.

In contrast, I also read a story about a fellow by the name of Cornelius Dupree who was incarcerated in Texas for 30 years for a rape he never committed. Freed by DNA evidence and the help of a New York group called the Innocence Project, he was eligible for parole more than once during his sentence but would have been required to admit guilt and be labeled as a sex offender. Refusing to do so and steadfastly maintaining his innocence, he served more time than anyone else who was wrongly convicted and will receive financial restitution from the state for over 2 million dollars. Not only do I empathize enormously with Mr. Dupree but I can only imagine what his mother went through. I hope she lived long enough to see her son exonnerated.

I wish Cornelius Dupree well and congratulate him on his new found freedom and amazing lack of bitterness. I also am reminded to be very grateful for Caller ID. If the phone rings and it says, Manson, not pick it up.
DNA--gotta love it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aha! Moments--The Susie Awards, Part II

In today's post, Susies are being awarded for what I consider heinous affronts and irritating trends that have become mainstays in the English speaking experience but that, basically, just really, really annoy me.

 Most Annoying Phrase—“Aha Moment” 
This phrase has been popularized by the woman who—finally believing all the hype about herself, has launched an impressive attempt at world domination — Oprah Winfrey. Her obnoxious and omnipresent phrase, “Aha Moment” takes the Susie this year. Meant to describe a moment of self-awareness and realization of something obvious, yet profoundly illuminating, Oprah spouts this phrase not only several times per show but throughout her day: upon finally deciding that she prefers creamy peanut butter to crunchy, realizing that waterproof mascara actually is harder to remove, as well as finally grasping the concept that one’s ass does, indeed, look bigger in a tight skirt. Here is your Susie, Oprah. Aha!

Most Annoying Abbreviation—“BFF”  There is a rumor that this was first used in an episode of “Friends” sometime in the 90s but it has grown in popularity thanks to the shorthand of texting which, in itself, is indicative of the approaching apocalypse. Meaning “Best Friend Forever” it is used, literally, by everyone everywhere and, literally, makes me want to stop speaking English, literally, forever.  
Hands-Down, Bar-None, Most Overused and, Therefore, Misused Word in the English Language—“Awesome”  
A favorite of students of all ages but rapidly spreading to the vocabularies of everyone (except me) this word has been given tons of exposure. Awe is as an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear produced by that which is grand, sublime or extremely powerful. Correct usage: The bush burning in the desert that caused Moses’ hair to turn snow white immediately upon seeing it, was awesome. Or: The first astronaut ever to view the blue marble of earth from outer space, commented to his companion, “Woo-hoo, that is truly awesome!” Incorrect usage: This turkey sandwich is awesome.  In today’s world, however, there is one—and only one—legitimate use of this word and that is specifically when referring to how Cher has the chutzpah to wear dresses made of fishnet, in public, at the age of 64. End of story.

If Anyone Ever Shouts This One More Time in the Bowling Alley Upon Achieving a Strike, I am Planning on Taking Hostages With Absolutely No Warning Other Than This Minor Paragraph in This Obscure Column“Booyah”
No explanation needed.

The Rarely Awarded Double Susie—The Kardashians
Even though this year’s Susies are focused on vocabulary and usage, I am awarding the entire Kardashian Family, which has surpassed the Lohans, Palins, Spears, Osbornes and Gosselins for vapid idiocy, the coveted Double Susie. The first is for speaking the language in the whiniest little voices ever picked up by a microphone. Rewarded with reality shows, perfume endorsements, large sums of money to wear clothing-designer’s labels and attend gala events at which they are photographed and admired, they are getting part B of the Double Susie for being the smartest family ever because they have made millions being idiots. You have to admire that.

Most Annoying Name of an Entertainer—Ke$ha.  Once you have read it, there is little need to elaborate. Even more annoying is that Ke$ha is making lots of $ without ever having learned how to use the letter ‘s’.  I re$t my ca$e.

The English language is, or used to be, a beautiful thing. Richly nuanced and robustly textured, it stood the test of time and trends until just a short while ago, when flying fingers on tiny keyboards, ego-driven talk-show hosts, singers with stupid names and bowlers with limited vocabulary decided they knew better. The Susies have taken these linguistic offenders to task.  Until next year’s winners are announced, I wish you all an awe$ome new year. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Susie Awards 2010

Every January, "Susan Says..." chooses to acknowledge certain events and people of the past twelve months with the annual distribution of The Susie Awards. This year is no different, so please read on to see who, and what, snagged the coveted trophies for 2010.

The Biggest Personal Defeat of the Year
It goes to yours truly for giving in and wearing my reading glasses on a chain around my neck. I finally had enough of not being able to read a thing and coming home from CVS with packages of condoms instead of birthday candles, so I hung the damn things around my neck, sadly aware that I instantly became a dead ringer for Bea Arthur. The up-side is that glasses on a chain have given me a previously unknown sense of authority which allows me to talk to total strangers about anything I want. Yes, I have become that woman. It’s a role I have waited for all my life.

The Biggest Bargain and Tastiest Treat of the Year
This Susie goes to the frozen yogurt at Costco. For under two dollars, you can not only enjoy the creamy deliciousness of an artfully swirled tower of fat-free yogurt, but can people-watch as well--silently judging shoppers for their purchases as they line up to show their receipts at the door. Why is that man buying so many batteries? Why is that woman returning the fourteen-pack of Sponge Bob night lights? Might it have been an impulse purchase? It’s the best show in town.
Best Surprise of the Year
My fifties. I thought I’d hate them but, I've come to realize, that I actually kind of like them. After the angst of my forties--a decade during which I regularly panicked because I hadn’t yet written the great American novel or back-packed through Europe on five dollars a day--I have relaxed and now don't really care much about anything. Thanks, in part, to herbal sedatives as well as the mysterious process of maturation, I have let go of the pressure to achieve unrealistic goals. It’s been liberating.

The Biggest Transition of the Year
My boys grew up. Back in the 60s, in response to a new movement called "Women's Liberation," several of my giggling friends announced that they wanted to be astronauts and truck drivers. I wanted to be a mommy. It was retro even then and everyone but my own mother used to mock me. Well, suckers, I accomplished my goal while not a one of my Clearasil-packing  posse ever went into orbit or counted her axles at a weigh station. And now, apparently, I am out of a job. Still on call as a recipe and laundry protocol consultant, thank God, I have finally accepted that the boo-boo kissing years are truly gone. And that, my friends, is still a shock.

Biggest Creepy Jerk of the Year
This award goes, for the second year in a row, to John Edwards who attempted to parade his virtue all the way to the White House but somehow ended up in bed with a scarecrow while his wife was stricken with cancer, eventually succumbing to the disease. The sight of his smarmy face, tearful behind the rain-streaked window of a limo on the day of the funeral made me sick. A diaper-thieving, DNA-denying jerk in an expensive suit, it horrifies me that he almost charmed his way into the Oval Office. House. He will not be mentioned again by the Susies unless he personally finances a cure for cancer.

The Worst Baseball Team of the Year
The Susie for worst baseball team goes, once again, to the New York Mets for continually providing their fans with heartbreak and shame (think back to the flying saucer David Wright wore on his head after getting beaned a few years back) as they made lousy trades and dashed our hopes for yet another season. Like all Mets fans, "Susan Says..." continues to hope that this year will be different but has yet to set one toe into Citifield because it's not Shea.

Please check back tomorrow for more Susie awards....