Monday, November 25, 2013

My Cornucopia

A few years ago, right before Thanksgiving, due to my inability to resist virtually anything under the amount of five dollars, I bought a brown wicker cornucopia form the Christmas Tree Shop. I placed it in the center of the table and filled it with assorted fruits, pinecones, nuts in their shells and other things that rolled all over and drove me insane until I packed it away after the holiday.

That's one kind of cornucopia. 

Another kind is not tangible but far more rewarding. We all have them. Mine is very full but there's always room for more. I add to it all the time.

Just recently I topped mine off with the faces of a father and his small daughter as they walked in front of my car and a minivan which had stopped at right angles to one another in a busy parking to let them by. The little girl was feisty and resisted his efforts to scoop her up and hurry out of our way but we were happy to give her time to toddle by, clutching her daddy’s hand and smiling. He was smiling, too and the other driver and I smiled at one another after they'd passed. It was a good moment.

I also recently added the moment when a crazy little cardinal with his preposterously peaked cap and black-ringed beak alit on my bird feeder while a sassy jay was still swinging from it and, for a flash, I had bright blue and red right outside my kitchen window. That was a good moment, too. I'm also throwing in the smell of my son -- aftershave and pizza -- as I hugged him upon his arrival home for the holidays the other day. And upon all that, I stuffed the time last week when Tito the Cat -- a recent addition to our feline flock -- trusted me enough to jump up on my lap for the very first took almost a year but was worth the wait. See, I told you---there’s always room for more in your cornucopia.

All these new moments tamped down what's already in there: memories of my mother looking up from her sewing with a smile, the afternoon I stood impatiently by a sunny window as a little girl waiting for my best friend to arrive--excited because I’d gotten a new game for my birthday, my grandmother's bare arms as she ironed on a summer morning, my sons playing wiffle ball in the back with their friends, walking in Central Park with Seth, the sound of laughter from the kitchen after I'd been put to bed as I wondered what I was missing but not really caring because I felt safe and sleepy, the words, “Will you marry me?”, “It’s a boy!”, “Hey, Ma, I’m home!”

Don’t forget to explore the contents of your own cornucopia…not just this week but often. 

If you stick your hand inside, you really don’t know what you’ll come back with…it might be something that will make you cry but, if it’s in there, chances are it led to something pivotal, important, meaningful or ultimately rewarding…something that made you who you are today. So, feel free to root around, you won’t be sorry. Sure, you might have no choice but to sob because lots of things in there may be physically gone from you but, don’t worry, they’re safe in your cornucopia.

If you see a wicker one, save your money…nothing stays in those. Have a happy healthy Thanksgiving, everyone…with love from “Susan Says…”

Monday, November 4, 2013

Saturday Night Live and Delusion vs. Reality

Growing older is a very interesting thing.

Lots of things change: the color of our hair, the ability to read fine print, how much sleep we need at well as how we view the world.

Case in point: The intro to Saturday Night Live, the weekly live TV institution enjoyed by generations every weekend, used to make me feel awful about myself. About my very life. About my disconnection from a world where cool, fun, hip people do cool, fun, hip things in New York City after dark.
Who wanted to listen to the
Sex Pistols anyway?

You know what I'm talking about. The fast-paced montage that week after week, year after year made me believe that if didn't play chess in a city park wearing a cocktail dress, I had not lived.

Their version of New York nightlife, included hilarity at Gray's Papaya, searching for vintage record albums, watching sword swallowers or the twirls of a break dancer while standing around with sexy people fiddling with the stems of their martini glasses while making conspiratorial eye contact with no one in particular. 

Enjoying the greatest city on earth meant being bold, brash and vibrant under the neon of a chic urban world.


Please remember that when I started watching SNL, I was a kid. A teenager who, in her private delusion and naivete, assumed that her life was destined to be cool, fun and hip. And, while there certainly was fun (nerdy as it was), in reality, I did not live then, or ever, in a personal orbit where cool and hip were even a remote possibility. And that damn SNL intro rubbed it in. Every week.
Just look how much fun Andy Samberg is having!
Allow me to remind you that when I was the right age for all this hooha, NYC was in the throes of a historic crime and graffiti crap fest where the subways were packed with as many urine soaked lunatics as  grim commuters, panhandlers were aggressive and antagonistic and, in general, a dangerous place to be. Just watch the movie "Taxi Driver" if you want to see what the city actually looked like then.
Back then, seeing this on the
Subway was a good thing.

Today, Times Square is a tourist mecca packed with police. Back then it was home to prostitutes, nodding drug addicts, porn theaters and other scary stuff for a young woman to navigate on the way home from her journalism seminar at the New York Times.
Look at Keenan waving at traffic!

So, I went between home and school on the subway, making sure not to travel too late, to always sit near the conductor and, basically, to watch my ass.

Between attending college and working, there wouldn't even have been time for chess games in the park or laughing uproariously with my trendy, chic friends....of whom I had none. My friends were all as busy, and non-trendy as I.
Did I want this? Ugh.

My point is that, for decades, the SNL intro made me feel lousy every time I saw it. I was either missing the fun or, once I settled into the contented life of a wife and mom, had totally missed the excitement that everyone else (read that as a small number of paid performers put into staged situations with lights and music) was surely experiencing.
Or this? Feh.

This went on for years. The cast members of SNL came and went but the bones of the intro stayed the same as did my vague restlessness every Saturday night at 11:30. This feeling remained anchored in the small section of my heart with "Bitter" written on the door even I knew how foolish I was. But, recently, it changed. Finally.

It took long enough.

Just last week I was watching the new season of SNL, fully expecting -- as the familiar music swelled to open the show -- that customary tug. But there was none.

I was liberated.

Their in-on-a-secret smiles, high heels and martini glasses did not make me feel a thing except happy to be exactly where I was---on the couch with Buzzy on my lap, next to Seth whose head was tilted back in slumber, mouth open wide enough for the B train to roll right in like it used to, depositing me on the subway platform of my stop, in Brooklyn. 

I realized that I had finally gotten past my youthful fantasies of a world that, if it ever existed at all, resided primarily in my imagination.

Sometimes getting older, despite its inconveniences, can be very refreshing.
If only they'd sold these back then....