Thursday, March 25, 2010


I am a collector. I have the bug -- just not the space and the money. And the thing about collectors is that we all understand each other, no matter what it is we collect. My friend Jannah's husband collects lanterns -- camping lanterns, train lanterns, road-work lanterns -- and I totally get it, even though lanterns are not my thing. My uncle collects Chinese cookbooks.

My first good collection was postcards, and unfortunately they are gone, lost in the Great Storage Loss a few years back. (We put a bunch of stuff that couldn't fit into this small apartment into storage, which we really couldn't afford, and eventually got behind in payment and lost some 80 cartons of belongings.) I used to buy postcards at antique stores and flea markets, and especially liked the ones with beautiful buildings, from New York State, and from Florida. When I lived in Binghamton, I used to lunch at an upscale bar called the Beaugart, and often chatted there with an older guy who had a disability, a withered arm. I must have mentioned that I collected postcards, and he said he had a shoebox full of cards that his brother brought back from World War II. He gave them to me; they were amazing. This was in the late 70s.

My next good collection shaped up in the mid-late 80s, and that was baseball cards. I quit cocaine in 1986, and without a cocaine habit, I felt so rich that I used to go to a baseball card shop out in Brooklyn (had a crush on the owner, too) and spend about $75 every couple of weeks. I liked to save favorite players and was starting to buy some older cards from the 50s. The collection, filling about four looseleafs, sat unattended for a long time, and was also lost in the Great Storage Loss.

In the mid-90s, I caught a collecting interest from V.: bottle caps. (V., as you may recall, is a close friend I split with a couple of years ago. He was kind of my other significant other.) I had known that he collected bottle caps, but hadn't really seen any. In the mid-90s, he came back from an antique shop with a big haul, and I finally "got" the extreme beauty and design sensibility of bottle caps. By this time, there was eBay. There was also an association of American collectors who had a weekend meeting/sale/swap every year, and I went to them with V. for several years. This collection did *not* go into storage but is now dormant. It's hard to spend money on things that don't do anything, at this point. V. is a lot more well-off than I am and lives in a much larger space, so he collects all kinds of things.

During the bottle cap collecting phase, I also got into soda and beer labels. I was online and saw a posting of amazing South American beverage labels for sale. I e-mailed the guy and offered him a flat price for the lot. My cap collection is mostly American sodas before 1972 (corked-lined caps rather than plastic), but my labels have a lot of non-American and beer labels, and are in a few looseleafs. The big expense with those, oddly enough, are the pages to keep them in, which are the pricey ones that stamp collectors use.

Now I have a cheap collection that I adore: fruit stickers. I have a little blank notebook and put in one of every sticker I get on fruit, whether bananas, plums, apples, mangoes, or whatever. I like to eat fruit so it costs nothing.

eBay is deadly for people who have the collecting bug. I found roller rink labels on it which I wanted so badly to start collecting. Roller rinks used to give out labels to stick on your skate case! I used to save the pictures on my computer before the last crash. I would collect them if I had more money. Also fountain pens. Back in the pre-email days, when I actually wrote letters and a journal, I used to use a fountain pen pretty exclusively. I liked a Pelikan but also have a couple of nice Mont Blancs.

Went to the dentist today for my last fitting, I think, for the first two bridges. (The third will wait a while until the area where he pulled a tooth some weeks back mends a bit more.) If I'm lucky, the three bridges and a crown for one molar should be my last big dental work for a while.

Friday, March 19, 2010


It seems like a few people are actually reading or have read this blog, even though my Sitemeter continues to come up all zeroes. Well, enjoy reading, and tell your friends.

It was really amazing to hear from someone who, besides having a lot of other similarities to me, used to summer near Floradan Lodge, where I went to day camp. The Floradan days will be covered more completely in my memo, but I remembered one thing about that colony today: there was a family named Snowden, Irish Catholic to the best of my knowledge, who had something like 9 or 11 kids -- all with flaming red hair. We also had a couple of Handwerkers who were related in some way to the family that started Nathan's Famous. I do hope to hear from more Floradan and Laur-Lee and Mohigan Woodlands people, since I've pretty much lost touch with everyone. (To the couple of Woodlands people who contacted me via a prior blog: I had a computer crash since then and lost your e-mail addresses and other contact info. PLEASE resend!)

Our plumbing is finally fixed, which is a great relief, though the sink is without its stopper. But not only is the sink leak fixed and the tub drain unclogged, it's really, really clean. I see a long shower in my near future.

I'm watching Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson on Netflix. It's from 1971, so maybe I saw bits and pieces when it was on Masterpiece Theater. I'm enjoying it so far; she was great back then.

For no reason I can determine at this point, my friend Scott sent me the sheet music to "See the USA in Your Chevrolet." He's an old friend I met online and in person once or twice, and usually I get holiday cards from him and a few e-mails a year. (Every time I do, my husband makes suspicious faces and asks about him, and I tell him the same thing, over and over.) Maybe I can learn to play it on uke, if I ever do learn to play that thing.

I'm in a mood

We're having some plumbing work done. We've been having problems with a leak and two slow drains and Barry just plain didn't want to tell the landlord...because our apartment is less than spotless and he feared the landlord would give us holy hell. Which he did. We worked really hard on the problem areas in the few days between his first visit and his return with the plumber, and made a big improvement, but we have to do more before the end of the month and it's making me a little crazy. Barry, too. Besides the fact that I rarely go out, he has somehow gotten the idea that it's too much trouble to go out more than once a day; also, that he needs a big nap in the middle of the day. This is making life a little hard.

The good news is that the weather's turned nice and I'm thinking I'd like to go out within the next couple of days.

I now have a subscription to The New Yorker because I got a year for $10. It doesn't get much better than that, even if I don't read a lot of it. $10 a year is worth it just for the cartoons -- hell, it's worth it just for the Roz Chast cartoons. It's a little highbrow for me and a lot of it just bores me, but I see there's a story by Junot Diaz that I'm looking forward to reading.

The imprint I worked for in my long-ago publishing days was right next to the imprint that published Junot's novel The Brief Life of Oscar Wao. But the book hadn't come out yet. So one day, I see this way-handsome guy looking at the shelves with our books on it, and sort of chuckling to himself. I said, kidding, "Hey, are you laughing at our New Age books?" He smiled at me and said, "No, I just had no idea there were books about some of this stuff." Whoa, very handsome. Then his publicist got off the phone and he went in to see her. Before I saw him again, I read the book. I had just about enough Spanish and just about enough knowledge of the Dominican Republic to pretty much get the book. (In the 80s, I dated a Dominican guy for 2-1/2 years and studied up on Dominican politics out of curiosity...actually, I picked it as a research topic in a how-to-write-a-research-paper course.) The next time he came back, I made a sort of bowing down gesture and threw kisses and shit and told him how amazing his book was. Every time he won another award or was in another newspaper or magazine, I felt a very personal happiness for him, even though he wasn't one of "my" authors.

Here's something interesting, apropos of the Diaz novel: I just finished The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, and my knowledge of Yiddish culture and Jewish religion *wasn't* up to the book -- I know I missed a lot more than I did in Junot's book. I've always had that basic New Yorker third-generation-Reform-non-practicing-Jew smattering of Yiddish, and marrying Barry, who has actual Orthodox people in his family, has upped my knowledge of language and custom considerably. So why is Michael Chabon writing over my head? He didn't even append a glossary for non-Jews who would never get it at all. Who the hell is he writing for?

I read a lot less now that I rarely ride the subway. When I worked, I did almost all of my reading on the subway, which was a good 2-1/2 hours a day at my last job (the 10-15 walk from the subway to the office was for listening to music). Now I read a lot in the dentist's waiting room. I carry a book anywhere that I might have to wait. I'm rereading An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser because Theodore Dreiser was amazing.

I'm a little stuck as far as my own writing but it was amazing to hear from someone who knew of Floradan (among other really interesting parallels to my life).

Deep dark secret of the day: I subscribe to a few blogs with cute photos of dogs and cats. Especially cats. I am not only a fool for my own cats, but for all cats, really. And certainly all kittens.

I heard once from some scientific source or another that all baby animals, including humans, are particularly designed to elicit the "awww" response from adults. They have big eyes relative to their faces and features that somehow say "cute" to adults of their own species and often others. So we're basically hardwired to be drawn to and feel protective of babies and kittens and puppies and piglets and lambs and tiger cubs and the whole shebang. (I once bottle-fed orphaned baby piglets at summer camp.)

We have been watching this dopey show called The Human Target. It's just a kind of cartoony action show where a really good-looking guy protects people with the help of his two assistants, the big burly ex-cop (Chi McBride) and the weirdish guy who can do all kinds of things with computers and electronics and schematics and stuff. The only reason I like watching this show is that the weirdish guy is played by Jackie Earle Haley, and he kind of fascinates me. I could watch him all day. Barry calls him "Jackie Pearl Bailey," which doesn't mean anything except that it sounds funny. But I find Jackie more fetching than the handsome guy (the actor's name is Mark Valley). Then again, typical good looks are not my thing.

Friday, March 12, 2010

very gloomy day

Even though the days are warming and Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend, I am feeling glum. I keep dreaming about vacations, new neighborhoods, new apartments, new jobs, college campuses, concerts, new boyfriends, and having a trim figure for which I can buy a lot of clothes. All of these good things in the dreams tend to get hampered by transportation difficulties: no car, no driver, no bus schedule, missing trains and planes, odd subway changes, and the like.

The dental saga continues. My dentist is very precise about fitting bridges so yesterday he took off my temps, did a fitting on the permanents, and replaced the temps. I like the bridges but almost cried when he removed the temp from my lower center: the teeth on either side of the missing tooth were filed down to ugly nubs to accommodate the bridge. But an implant would have been way too expensive. As it is, the two bridges will cost a total of $2,400, which I'm told is a good price (two three-tooth bridges). The dentist is a nice, oldish Syrian Jew (lots of them in this neighborhood). Barry always comes with me and the dentist likes that, tells me I have a good husband. The dentist has asked several times if we keep kosher and keep the Sabbath and so on. He wears a yarmulke. I guess he figures it's a waste for such a nice Jewish couple not to be more observant. I have always refrained from telling him that Barry's love affair with pork would be problem number one.

On Monday, we're supposed to go to a Dan Lynch's alumni memorial tribute gig for Karola Herry. Dan Lynch's was a blues bar where many of us, including yours truly, hung out and played for many years, until its closing in 1996 or 97. It was a really divey place, more so as the years went on, but some really excellent musicians passed through there, like The Holmes Brothers and Bill Perry and Larry Johnson and Jon Paris and Popa Chubby. (If any of you are blues fans, yes, I know or knew all of them.) Karola was a manager and bartender there, a big sunny German woman well-liked by most. Not me, though. I had a boyfriend for about a year who was a performer at Lynch's, and I later found that Karola was sleeping with him whenever she felt like it, and making no secret of it. The boyfriend did fess up and apologize (they'd been involved on and off for many years), but she never did. Anyway, she ended up selling real estate in Florida and recently died at 65.

There was a Lynch's alumni Haiti benefit about a month back but I wasn't up to going; Barry did. I will probably go Monday because there are a lot of people I want to see, not because I had any great love for Karola. Of course, the ex-boyfriend in question wasn't at the last gig but will be at this one...I think it's about 13 years since I saw him last. He was the last guy I was serious about before Barry -- I also thought he was serious about me, which I think he was at times, but it sure wasn't anything like 100%.

The Lynch alumni, like so many groups, came together on Facebook. I am supposed to go to a party with my high school graduating class next month; also a Facebook thing. It's kind of hard to escape these days. With a lot of the old friends, a few messages was enough. Others seem to interest me more than I interest them.

I think I have two people following this blog via Blogger but I keep getting SiteMeter reports that no one is reading this. That's OK -- it's mostly for me anyway.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

what up with that?

I reconnected with an old, old male friend on Facebook; we go back over thirty years and have been in contact intermittently during that time. We've always cared a great deal about each other and have had a lot in common. Except now, he's posting these horrible anti-abortion screeds and scripture and anti-Obama know, everything I don't want to see on my page. Since I first met him, he had a career in the Navy and settled in the South, so I'm not too shocked that his belief systems have shifted wildly since he was a teen. Not quite sure how to handle this, though it's bothering me and I've considered "unfriending" him.

Watched the Oscars last night, being a movie addict from a family of movie addicts. (In recent years, I watch more at home than in the theaters, but it makes me no less a movie addict.) I was extremely pleased to see Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker win big awards. I just saw it within the past week and was really impressed with Bigelow's toughness. Plus, I've had an eye on Jeremy Renner since that rather awful movie where he played Jeffrey Dahmer. He was clearly a whole lot better than his material in the Dahmer movie, and let's hope he gets more parts of the Hurt Locker caliber, since there was no beating Jeff Bridges last night.

The latest Heeb Magazine lists the 100 Greatest Jewish Movie Moments, very cool, and the #1 moment is from The Big Lebowski. Which is how I got there from Jeff Bridges.

I have indeed started a memoir, and it's about school and summers. I've been turning it over in my head for a few years, and it got to be time to write.