Wednesday, March 21, 2018

National Poetry Day

Palm Sunday, Coney Island

clouds hang in lazy accent
of a clear blue sky
in this land dominated by
memory, ghosts, skeletons

presiding, ex-officio,
the parachute jump
silently observes the steady inaugural turn
of the wonder wheel
and the first clattering mobius orbit
of the cyclone

who can doubt spring?
in another beach kingdom,
south of this place
mustachioed men swing wooden bats
at leather balls
squinting at the same sun
as heats Brooklyn's mechanical heart
toward summer

Jennifer Zogott
March 19, 1989

Happy National Poetry Day

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

public face

Some afternoons, I go to Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee to go, because their flavored coffees are pretty good and I can use Samsung Pay and get points. I'm all about the points. Well, I also think it's cool.

So I was there a few days ago, paying with my phone, and a middle-aged man commented on it and we chatted for a few seconds.

It wasn't until I left that it occurred to me: that was a man of appropriate age and I barely took a good look, left the conversation early, and did not check for any chemistry.

And when I got home, it occurred to me that even if I had thought to pay more attention, I was walking around my neighborhood totally slobbed-out, I've at least upgraded from a sweatshirt to a nice Lands End jacket, but I didn't have a speck of make-up and my hair was pulled back but possibly unbrushed, and I had no earrings.

It then occurred to me that since I do pay a little more attention to my appearance when I go to Manhattan (for some reason), I can do the same for puttering around the neighborhood. So I prepare a little before I go out: make-up, cologne, earrings. I even brush my hair although there's not much I can do with it. I need a good stylist and at least a trim.

I've also bought some slightly better-looking clothing: as I mentioned: a fleece jacket in lieu of a sweatshirt, some solid-color long-sleeved tees, and even a pullover sweater. It's partly in case I go to work outside the home, and partly to have something to wear besides printed tee shorts (I have 3 or 4 more tailored ones, but they're all short-sleeved).

I actually think it's fun to put on make-up, and really not such a pain to remove. Plus I have a lot of urges to buy it (like earrings, it always fits), and if I don't wear it often, a lot of it just gets too old and has to be tossed after a few wearings.

And, as a nod toward being less acquisitive and more experiential, I bought myself a ticket to see Gilbert Gottfried next month. (I also have one for the first showing of The Disaster Artist on Thursday.)

It does sort of suck that I pretty much have no one to be experiential with, I have been saying for many years that I'd rather do something by myself than miss doing it, but I pretty much have no friends who are available for or interested in the things I enjoy. (Except, of course, my ex-husband, and I want to keep socializing with him on the minimal side.) I have to work toward bigger experiences, like travel, and the idea of traveling alone is fairly scary to me. But first, I need to get a passport. Then we'll see.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


I'm working on getting in the habit of writing more, with the goal of writing here every day, which is Step One. I've more or less decided that the only thing I want to do for a living is write, which involves a lot of kinds of work. As far as fiction or memoir, this is Step One.

I also need to take some action about freelance work, starting with re-contacting the editor of Blues Music Magazine; I recently did a review for them.

I don't want to work in an office again. One of the advantages of my last job was that I wasn't sitting all day. (I can still work there part-time if I want, to bring in a few bucks.)

Thursday, November 23, 2017


This is a little challenging for me, since I am of late not much about gratitude and much more about being very depressed and glass-half-empty. But since, obviously, writing at all has not been coming easy, I thought I'd try to punch out two for the price of one.

I'm thankful for having this nice apartment to live in: being able to afford it, furnish it, and enjoy it. I'm thankful that it doesn't feel like a compromise and does feel like a luxury, one that I deserve.

I'm thankful for seeing my nephew and sister-in-law today, and somehow surprised because I didn't think I cared much about my nephew and was convinced that my sister-in-law and I didn't like each other.

I'm thankful that enough of my family managed to get together today, since my aunt and uncle are moving to Arizona on Monday and my dad is very sick - like dialysis-three-times-a-week sick. I'm really glad that my dad got to see his grandson, and that my nephew is concerned enough about his grandfather that his parents have arranged a couple of visits. There's some crazy dysfunction as concerns my brother and my dad, and my brother and my uncle. My brother was not present.

I'm thankful to have enough money not to have to rush into a job, although I'm very unsure about what I want to do or even if anyone will hire me to do anything.

I'm thankful for my friends, and in particular for my little posse from my last job, who have stayed in touch and hung out with me. They're real gems. One of them and his girlfriend took me out to lunch on my birthday. 

I'm thankful that I finally realized it was important for me to finally have surgery to correct my stress incontinence. I suffered with it for about 25 years, and it did nothing but get worse. The operation was six weeks ago tomorrow. Needless to say, I'm also thankful for health insurance even though I pay a mint for it under COBRA. (The surgery was covered except for a $50 co-pay.) 

I'm thankful that I've healed well from the surgery and that it did what I needed it to do.

I'm thankful that my ex-husband went to the hospital with me and stayed with me for a couple of days after the surgery. Having said that, I'm also thankful I don't live with him any more.

I'm thankful for a really good therapist who has helped me tremendously over the past seven years. Although she now says that I need to focus on the experiential rather than the material to dig out of this funk; in other words, I need to do more stuff instead of acquiring more stuff. Right now, I am responding to her many suggestions that I do more writing.

I'm also thankful that I got to review Zeke Schein's book for the October issue of Blues Music Magazine, which would be on your newsstand now if newsstands still existed. I dare you to find a copy.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

a job over and done

What a nice thing it is to finally cancel that Monday-Friday alarm.

I actually had a very lovely last day yesterday. I didn't tell any of the clients that I was leaving until Thursday, and all of them knew on Friday, as my little going-away cake was on the calendar. (And someone must have remembered that I like ice cream cake!)

So I got hugged all day yesterday, over and over by some of the same women. Even some of the more religious guys who limit their contact with women to a high-five/fist bump/handshake gave me a hug. I had an easy group and activity and one of my "buds" as co-counselor. Did my last ass-wiping, my last daily goals.

I'll see my buds again, and also some of the women counselors I had dinner with the week before last. The woman who arranged it chose a non-kosher restaurant, which weeded out our manager and one of the more sanctimonious counselors. We had a blast.

The only thing that hurts is that I was very close to a client who is very low-functioning, and did not understand that I was leaving. It was hard not to be able to say goodbye to her. She only speaks a few words, but we communicated with pictures and gestures; she is quite funny and sweet. She likes to hold my hand. She was in my AM group (9:30-10:15) every day, and enjoyed looking at pictures on my phone, especially pictures of herself. For a while, I was taking pictures of her almost daily. She would see one, and either point at herself, or say in her tiny voice, "Me."

It was close to 80 degrees yesterday, so I changed into sandals before my book club. As usual, we barely discussed the book, ate good Vietnamese food, and chose another book. I love my book club.

Then I got home around 9:00. There was still a drop of light in the sky. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

no surprise here

I gave notice at my job. As much as I love the clients, let me just say that I'm increasingly unhappy with the way things are run at my location, as well as having some real doubts about how the upper management does things. I'm leaving at the end of the week, a few days after we put on our play. I've been working very hard on the play (a cut-down version of "Annie"), and this will enable me to see the play through to completion and then avoid some rather unpleasant things coming up.

Here's one: at the end of June, they're "temporarily" moving the second dayhab in with us, meaning an influx of about 40 older clients, about ten counselors, and their manager. We already have about 60 clients and 18 staff...and only four bathrooms for clients - there is a staff bathroom accessible by a button-code lock. Our clients go up to around age 60, and theirs are 60 and up, though this is a rough estimate of the division. But our people are mostly in their 20s and 30s, and theirs are mostly elderly - involving a lot more bathroom needs and incontinence. This is "temporary" because a new building which is supposed to house the entire organization, including both dayhabs, is supposed to be completed at the end of the summer. It was supposed to be completed at the end of last summer. So the extreme overcrowding may be indefinite.

Of course, I'll miss a couple of the perks, like Jewish holidays - I'm now off for two days for Shavuous. (However, the only national holidays we get off are Thanksgiving and July 4.) And learning a lot about Judaism, since I never even knew what Shavuous meant until I started working there. And I love some of the counselors dearly. But I surely will not miss the shitty pay, or the client who punches me when she's caught misbehaving (usually it's stealing food or soda). But the perks are few and far between.

I can fortunately afford to be without a job for a time. I'm planning to try the usual nonprofits, universities and analytic institutes, but someone suggested to me that I also try city and state government. I also plan to (finally) study grant writing this summer, which may result in improved opportunities in nonprofit.

I love living in my new apartment. There are small problems, like the kitchen and bathroom being a little smaller than I'd like, though the living and bedrooms are really big. The five closets and endless kitchen cabinets are also great. I'm slowly but surely filling the place up. I bought end tables (mid-century modern, natch - they pretty much match the coffee table) and two bookcases and a recliner that looks like a regular living room chair.

I have a TV table and three little tables, and am waiting for delivery of a microwave stand and a file cabinet.

The orchid count is now up to seven, five of them in bloom. They are all in my bedroom, and though only two of them are scented, the room has a green, planty-smell that I just love.

Because I had to learn to care for them, I've amassed a pretty good amount of beginner-level information about orchids in general. I have really good indirect light, and a humidifier, so they're pretty much thriving.

I bought four African violets for the living room - two standard and two mini. Less successful with them: they all dropped their blooms pretty soon after I got them, though their leaves are growing well. Don'r really know if they'll ever rebloom. The original plan was to have orchids in the bedroom and violets in the living room, but I think there are going to be more orchids in the living room. There doesn't seem to be any such thing as enough orchids.

The place keeps me busy. In addition to new-home stuff (arranging new decorative and useful items), there's always laundry, vacuuming, dishes and such. I find I come home and see something that needs doing, which turns into an hour or two of work. Then I need a fast, light dinner, which is probably why I've dropped about nine pounds without really trying.

I have a huge list of chores for today and tomorrow, some of which are computer-and-paperwork oriented, but there's also a table to be assembled, laundry, taking a load of cardboard boxes to the trash and vacuuming. Also need to figure out and prep the headphone system for my TV. But there's a dinner tonight with the female dayhab counselors - the person who planned it chose a non-kosher restaurant, which eliminates a few possible attendees (one of which, fortunately, is my manger). And tomorrow I'm going to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the first time in years and years, because of a free pass, roses, orchids, and June in general.

I lived about five blocks from the Gardens when I was a kid, and we went all the time. It was free to get in, and 25 cents to get into the Japanese Gardens. I knew the place pretty well. It now costs $15 to get in, In a bid to get members, I was sent a free pass for a weekday, and they're offering a year's membership for $55. I should also mention that for the past 11 years, if was very difficult to get there from where I was living; but now, one subway. Given that I should be pretty free this summer, and that it's a really good deal, I'll probably buy a membership.

Friday, May 12, 2017

really not a good thing

I keep the confidences of my workplace. There are thing that are funny and things that are annoying and people I really enjoy. But we're not supposed to talk about it and I keep that promise.As I may have mentioned, I work in a day center for developmentally disabled adults. It has a lot of up and downs.

Here's a hypothetical from such a workplace: you're a counselor, in a van with 5 or 6 clients, and another counselor is driving. A few minutes into the ride, you notice the driver is texting while driving. You tell him to stop and he does. A few days later, you report this to the manager. You don't like the idea of ratting out this popular counselor, but neither do you want him endangering a van full of clients - or you, for that matter.

The manager asks for a lot of information: the day, time, destination. She promises she will speak to the counselor.

After a few days, it starts to look as if she hasn't spoken to him at all. It would have been clear to him who made the report, but he's friendly as ever to the reporting counselor. Doesn't talk to her about the incident or the report, greets her with the same smile as always. And he continues to drive his morning and afternoon routes and to take clients to activities.

A week later, he's named senior counselor, second in command to the manager. And still driving.

What can be made of this?