April Fools

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Flash Fiction

APRIL FOOLS

     Today, crisp cool air mingles with a blazing sun as I leave my minuscule apartment on Lexington Ave. The weather has been dreary. This morning is glorious.

     I pull my long chestnut hair into a no-nonsense ponytail, walk and think about the other woman . Damn, I am better looking, appear tall for my height and young for my years.

     Around noon, I stop for lunch at a typical outdoor New York café; the tables are round and small; the metal chairs look uncomfortable, but are not once I sit.

     A waiter fills my water glass, and announces he is my server. The menu choices are unexpectedly appealing; fennel quiche, garlic soup, and more.

     I take time ordering.

     The man on my left, glances my way. His look lingers but reveals nothing, and leaves me questioning if I know him? The feeling we have met and cannot remember where, accompanies the exchange. His thick blond hair is sun streaked and he looks familiar, a little like a friend, Sam.

      Groomed brows frame his eyes. Carefully pressed gray slacks, and a wrinkle-free dress shirt complete his polished look, but I do not know him.

        I sit back to wait for my meal and people watch. New Yorker’s are something, a biker babe dressed in leather, pushes a doggie stroller. The dog wears goggles and rests his paws on the bar celebrity style. I laugh.

       The street is increasingly active as people walk and talk loud.  

        The waiter brings my order and the man who looks like Sam stares in my direction again, his eyes search everywhere. As the tables fill up, the man gives a knowing nod my way, and almost smiles. Although he is facing me, it is hard to tell if he is looking at me, or not.

     I refrain from turning my head to look behind hearing a couple seat themselves. They create quite a stir dragging empty chairs across the concrete and arranging shopping bags. I realize the man who looks like Sam is studying them.

     “Mind your own business,” says a voice in my head.  

     When the waiter takes my empty plate, I order a Cappuccino and the ‘Chocolate – Chocolate’ cake, and listen to the newly seated couple’s angry banter.

     The woman protests, “I didn’t make you come here, Victor, you agreed it was a favorite of ours.”

     “Eve, you’re the one who loved the menu, thought the food so nouveau or something?”

      Her voice rises. “You loved the zucchini mushroom quiche, and what about the gazpacho soup? You raved, said it was the best you’d ever had!”

     His reply is slow and deliberate. “No, you weren’t listening; I said the quiche was good if you like quiche. And the soup ‘the best’ Gestapo! I was being sarcastic.”

     He leaves the table saying, “I’ll be in the men’s room.”  

     I am  stunned.  His voice sounds like Victor’s? My Victor? 

     Look-A-Like Sam rushes to fill Victor’s empty seat, firing off questions that leave no room for a response. “What’s going on? You said you would be at here 12 o’clock, alone. Why did Victor come? Drama? Eve, you thrive on drama. I’ve had enough.”

      Now, I turn my head to see and watch. Coyly, Eve removes her Hollywood style sunglasses, checks her diamond wristwatch, leans forward, and whispers, “Oh, my, it is past noon, isn’t it. Victor’s golf was cancelled.”

    Playing with her blouse buttons she continues, “When he learned I was coming to the city, he said, he would come.”

     Shaking her head, she  continues, her eyes misty. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t persuade him otherwise. You know I’m married.”

     Look-A- like Sam laughs, “Do you think I’m a fool, Eve? There are other restaurants in this town! Why bring him here? There won’t be a next time.”

     He takes a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, presses it in a nearby waiter’s hand, and leaves abruptly.

     Eve shouts after him, “Next time answer your cell, damn it!” As she tosses her hair back and adjusts her sun glasses.

     The husband returns. A tan complements his brown eyes, perfect Roman nose, and romantic lips. Approaching the table, his aloof expression becomes surprise, as our eyes meet.

     Victor sits down across from his wife, tucks in a cloth napkin and questions, “Who was that? You seem upset. Is everything alright?”

     Eve clears her throat, forces a smile, and explains, “Someone who goes to my gym. It’s nothing. I’m tired, and sorry. Sorry we had words.” She reaches across the table to take her husband’s hand, “Can we forget it?”

     Eve appears confident and why not? She is not his other woman.

     I linger to finish my ‘Chocolate-Chocolate’ cake, lick the remains of a raspberry garnish from the fork, and pay the bill.

   Stopping at the couple’s table when leaving, I say, “Victor, What a surprise to see you here . . . with . . . your wife? And move into the passing crowd.

. . . .  just saying

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Conscious Uncoupling Vs. Smart Phones

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Aging & Attitude

Recommitted to posting a weekly blog I jump started the process last week by researching this week’s topic, Conscious Uncoupling.

Have you heard about Conscious Uncoupling? Gwyneth Paltrow and husband, Chris Martin, are doing it; getting divorced.

I was proceeding in a timely fashion and things were looking good until Mr.Wonderful (aka Bob) purchased two smart phones, a Samsung Galaxy s3 for me, and a Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro for himself. The learning curve is high with the acquisition of an expensive toy, but not to worry; there was lots of time to do both, write and find a signature ring for the new phone.

What is Conscious Uncoupling? Author and therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas coined the phrase as a process to;

• Release the trauma of a breakup
• Reclaim your power
• Reinvent your life

In other words; a civilized way to decide who gets the house, and what will you do if you don’t.

Gwyneth Paltrow announced the Conscious Uncoupling on Goop, a digital media and e-commerce company she founded to share all of “life’s positives.” Goop offers information on many things from recipes to the perfect dress and Paltrow shows good sense.

The Samsung Galaxy s3 mini in my back pocket vibrates, and interrupts my thoughts. I struggle to unlock the phone swiping up and down, then side to side and tapping. It is a text from At&t saying “Don’t delay, enroll today” in the Mobile Protection Pack.

So, without delay, I start the process, but find I must agree to things I am unsure about; so power off, and focus on Gwyneth and her daughter Apple. Named after a fruit, Conscious Uncoupling is sure to be difficult for the child.

Conscious Uncoupling is being adopted by others. A British Labour Party lawmaker used the term to reference a political disagreement as, “another example of coalitions conscious uncoupling,” Nevertheless my mind conjures a picture of a train wreck, and  I  wonder if I can somehow get in touch with Putin, he needs to hear about Conscious Uncoupling.

Katherine Woodward believes it takes about five years to truly heal from a breakup and offers a free online download to overcome the three major mistakes people make. Misconceptions perpetuated by Hollywood and media make the process long.

Dr. Sherry Sami and Dr. Habib Sadeghi, believe Conscious Uncoupling will redefine divorce, and the past practice of blaming yourself and partners. Dr. Sami addresses the issue of multiple relationships and says mating for life was easier for cavemen and women because of a shorter life expectancy, about thirty-three years. She has a point.

It was also easier because they did not have cell phones, nor need to decide if At&t Mobile Protection plan can access their contact list, photos, and video’s. After several phone calls and reassurance that the information is stored in a Cloud and only comes down if I lose or damage the phone. I check the agree square. It has taken three days to come to the decision.

We did manage to sync our phones to Blue Tooth in our vehicle and change our wallpaper without much difficulty. Next I need to find out what Google Play is and if I want to shop at the Google Play Store.

Mr. Wonderful and I are married 43 years and easily could have divorced for we have little in common, except values and we both like to laugh. This year he surprised me with a cruise to Bermuda, our honeymoon location; to celebrate and replace our vows with a year-to-year contract, that has no penalty fees.

Conscious Uncoupling is always a possibility.

. . . . just saying

Two Little Words

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Aging & Attitude

Looking exhausted, I pay for an empty cardboard cup and turn toward the coffee carafe.

“Let me help you with that,” the clerk says and takes back the brown container made from recycled paper.  “How do you like your coffee?”  She inquires walking away with her head turned sideways.

“Medium, light, no sugar, please.” I respond and fumble my way to a nearby seat.

I am extremely thankful the hospital cafe is open after midnight and the coffee is hot and fresh.

“Thank you.” I say to the young woman with very blue eyes when she delivers my coffee.

They are the same two little words I said upstairs to the surgeons and nurses for performing a twelve-hour life saving operation on my husband.

Two little words, thank you.

Over the next few hours, days, weeks and months, I say those words repeatedly to family and friends who call to boost my sagging spirit and spoon feed me courage.  Two little words that wrap themselves inside my heart and feel insufficient, so I add; so much, if only you knew or I really appreciate, to thank them for their gift of caring.

I struggle to find a way to acknowledge and return their kindness, and hope they hear the enormous gratitude sealed inside, “Thank You,” then realize their gifts are mine to keep, for me and my family to remember, relish, and treasure; help us grow in love and wisdom, two words; thank you.

They are not little.

                                                                                                ….just saying

High Definition

Aging & Attitude

My husband can never die. One of the many, many reasons is his ability to surf the TV channel guide. My television viewing is dependent on him. Just when I’ve remembered that Lifetime HD is 1137, it’s not. The local newspaper does not list High Definition channels but I have a dated program locator (aka guide), with several notations about changes, although not enough to entice me off the couch, into the study, and rifling through a file cabinet.

He’s still alive, sitting in his chair so I double-check, “Lifetime is 1124, right?”

“No, it’s number 1237. All HD channels have been regrouped in the 1200 range.”

“How would I know that?”

“It was in the newspaper, remember I told you.”

“I….Forgot.”

Bright House also mailed a flyer about Channel Lineup.”

“That was a TV Guide?”

He is a sweet man. Surely, I can figure Television viewing for myself.

Sunday I study the News Journal television guide, and with a highlighter make note of the day and time of my favorite programs and copy the information in a daily calendar. It does not work.

The shows I like are on at 9PM and later, The Closer, Mad Men, Men of a Certain Age, that lawyer show with Cathy Bates, not Andy or Jackie, you know, Harry’s Law. Typically that’s about the time we switch. I swap whatever I am doing for TV and he retires to the bedroom, saying, “Don’t you want to see such and such?”

“Yes! Thanks for reminding me, Mr. Wonderful.”

In the morning I phone Bright House and after pushing several prompts hear a voice say, “I’m Murray your customer service representative, how can I exceed your expectations?”

Now we are talking.

                                                              ….just saying

Mommy’s Jumping Jellybean

My daughter, Janine will turn forty on May 19 and hopefully this post captures how special she is to me. . . . just saying I love you, Mom

Aging & Attitude

   My daughter phoned a few weeks ago and after a good hour-long conversation told me, holding back tears, I was on her gratitude list. It was not Mother’s Day but it was the best Mother’s Day present ever.  I hung up the phone, and put a long list of ‘if only I had’ in the trash, to reminisce about my little girl.

She was not a fussy infant and slept through the night at six weeks, never cried or climbed out of her crib, and woke with a cheery “Morning.”  By the third call, I would have her in my arms. Asked if she would give baby Donna her bottle, Janine said yes and drank from a cup. She potty trained easily wanting to wear big girl pants like Christie.

Most days, after playing in the park we lingered on the stoop outside to wait for Daddy. At two and a half years old, Janine would climb the brick steps, teeter across a cement ledge and jump to the ground holding my hands. She was long and lean, like a green bean, and called Beaner  Her incessant jumping gave birth to the rhyme, J is for Janine, Mommy’s jumping jellybean.  I struggled to match  my daughter’s  energy and enthusiasm.

The summer of 1980 we traveled to Chicago, by sleeper train, to visit Aunt Judy and Uncle George.  Independent Janine maneuvered the way from our cabin to the dining car, bouncing side to side. You could not hold her hand. The dining tables wore white linen table cloths, and the wine served in a stemmed glass.

I have a vivid picture of Janine sitting in a Winnetka ice cream parlor, her chin even with the table, ready to place her order, a chocolate cone. Uncle George, who was treating, suggested a dish of ice cream might be safer. Determined, she stately sweetly, “I want a cone,” to Uncle George’s continued feeble attempts to persuade her other wise. There was no terrible two-temper tantrum only the pointing of her pinky and index finger like devil horns saying, repeatedly, “I want a cone.” Uncle George did not comment after her pretty dress was covered in chocolate.

The first day of  kindergarten she wore a sucker of a rhinestone pin given to her by Great Granny B for dress up, and left the house saying; “Mom, I’m going to be the prettiest girl in the class.” My response, “Yes, you will.”

Early on, she wanted to know if you went to college to be a cocktail waitress, to which her father and I had no reply, amazed at her insight that attending college and waitressing somehow went together.

These days, Janine is miles away, and missed. People notice her kindness, generosity, quiet determination, and independence. She pounds the streets of New York City and a chorus joins me in cheering, J is for Janine, Mommy’s jumping jellybean.

Thank you daughter, for loving me.

                                                                                          …. Just saying

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We’ve Fallen & We Can Get Up

   Mr. Wonderful, my husband of forty years, is wonderful, mostly.  He is my househusband, does most of the food shopping and cooking, and dusts if I ask ‘pretty please’. I’m loving it. He seems content, and has heightened status among women when they learn all he does. Although, the guys turn up the TV volume when he becomes the topic of conversation.

   I make a point of showing my appreciation. Today I sat on his lap, gave him a nice kiss. Enjoying the attention he playfully embraces me, arms behind my back. I slipped my arms under his shoulders and interconnected my fingers around his back nervous we might fall. Like Fabio on the cover of a romantic novel, he curves my back across his knee, and we topple.

“Are you okay?”

“I can’t tell. Are you okay?”

“You’re lying on my arm, I can’t move.”

“You’re lying on my chest; do you think I can move?”

 We’ve fallen and we can’t get up.

 “Claudia, you’re killing my arm, you have to move.”

 Granted his arm is underneath me, taking the bulk of the fall; his 200 lbs pressing my 135 lbs into the floor. But I am flattened like a pancake too and cannot move.

  So I quip, “Let me see if I can bench press your 200 lbs. with my nose.”

 “You’re killing my wrist, move!” He says, with a loud little boy in pain tone, to his voice.

  Wondering if I am able to take in air, I say, sweetly, “Don’t panic, yet. Where’s your other arm?”

  “What other arm?”

  “The other arm attached to your body. I’m lying on your right arm, where is your left?”

  He pauses at length to consider the possibility, and responds “You mean this one,” raising his left arm above his head.

  Relieved, I suggest he use it to lift himself, allowing me to push up so he can retrieve his right arm.

  He does. I move and guess what, we have fallen, but we can get up.

                                                                                                                                    …just saying 

Peace On Earth

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Peace on Earth

Aging & Attitude

We ride the noon shuttle from Lake Buena Vista Embassy Suites to Epcot planning to stay for the fireworks.  By 7PM, everyone is spent, having ridden Test Track, Mission Space, and Space Ship Earth. Then snapped pictures with Disney Characters; Minnie, Mickey, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto at Epcot Character Spot, viewed the indoor Aquarium, Turtle Talk with Crush, visited several countries and went to Italy for dinner.

It did not help that the shuttle broke down on Route 4 delaying us some.

The weather is wonderful, slightly overcast skies, but not gray and the lines at the park manageable.  The spectacular Christmas decorations dazzle us.  The landscape appears luscious in multi-shades of green with red Poinsettia accentuating the differences.

“Look at all the people.  This is really a phenomenon.” My husband marvels, surrounded by an international crowd of young and old who traveled to Disney.

It is not just for the rides.

Inside the Magic Kingdom great things are possible.  The world is beautiful, goodness, joy, and merriment abound. But Mr. Wonderful’s feet hurt. He and most of the group are ready to leave.

My feet hurt too, however my grandson and I decided to stay.  We will ride Soarin’ and watch the fireworks scheduled at 9:30pm.

Soarin’ is a multi-sensory attraction that simulates a hang-gliding flight over California’s Golden Gate Bridge, Redwood Creek, Monterey, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, San Diego, Malibu, Los Angeles, Anaza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Camarillo, and feels like the real deal.

The wait at Soarin’ is sixty-five minutes.  My grandson, days away from being a teen, waits patiently in line participating in the wall games while I chat with a couple behind us from Chicago.

We discuss the scheduled 9:30pm fireworks and my confusion, “Doesn’t the park close at 9:30pm?  They assure me we will see the fireworks; which they saw at 8pm the night before.

Our sixty-five minute wait was almost up it was 7:55pm.

We are ready, to quote Disney:  “Feel the wind in your hair. The air fills with the scent of orange groves, evergreens and the sea breeze. Your feet dangle free. Dip down so close to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, you think your toes will get wet. Then return to the sky and continue on Soarin’ to a fantastic finale where fireworks burst into sensational colors around you.”

The five-minute ride surpasses the sixty-five minute wait, and the probability of only moving in place. You think your toes are wet for a moment.

We exit excitedly, anticipating rockets and roman candles sparkling across the sky.  Rushing towards the lake Dominic prompts me, “Nana, ask someone.” People are skirting the area sitting on stone walls.

An attendant explains, “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth glitters, gleams, and glows over World Showcase Lagoon in perfectly synchronized splendor”, is a Holiday Special, different from the nightly fireworks and tonight’s closing event, and definitely starts at 9:30PM.

We can relax, purchase a snack, and find a viewing spot.

I watch my grandson say goodbye to childhood, confident and mature ordering a pretzel, opting for cinnamon and sugar (plain salt are sold out) and yes he will pay the extra dollar for cheese.  He casually counts his money, smiling, engaged in conversation, so like his dad, gentleman style.

IlluminNations” started, “featuring breathtaking fireworks, brilliant bursts of fire, laser light effects, dramatic fountain barges, a stirring musical score” that manipulate emotions, accompanied to a symphony rendition of “Let there be Peace on Earth” and left us feeling joy, hope, love, and peace.

We turn to our neighbors, tears in our eyes; shake hands, offer peace, and I think, let it begin with me.

                                                                ….Just  Saying 

                                                                                              Merry Christmas

What Do You Want For Christmas?

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What You Want For Christmas?

Aging & Attitude

“What do you want for Christmas?” Mr. Wonderful* inquires, walking into the kitchen wearing drawstring athletic shorts, his toes protruding through open toed sandals, and cheaters sliding off his nose.

“You mean besides World Peace” I quip.

“No, seriously what do you want for Christmas?”

“Jobs for the unemployed would be nice.”

“You’re the one who wants packages under the tree, think about it.”

And I do.

I want it to be 1958 and wake to a shiny blue two-wheeler and bride doll. The air crisp, sharp enough that your nose hair freeze, the sun strong and no wind on Long Island. Santa left the same Schwinn bike for my sister, Mariellen, an English Racer with handbrakes for Victor, my brother.  I ride in circles, periodically going in the house to coax my brother and sister into joining me. They will not, but I am determined to hold on to my joy.

I want it to be 1971. Mr. Wonderful dressed in full Santa costume, white beard and black belt, drives the New York State Thruway, waving at cars and greeting toll booth attendants with Ho, Ho, Ho.

I want it to be 1977. My son wears PJ’s, a blue robe, belted and slippers, his face aglow at the Fisher Price garage Santa left. His sister wears a hand me down Santa infant suit, her arms flapping, matching his excitement.

I want it to be 1985 and a white German Shepard dog does not bark once during the night to wake our kids. He kept his surprise til Christmas morning.

I want it to be 2003. It snows all day, continuing into the night, creating a spectacular White Christmas our daughter’s Southern guest marvels.  We troll the unplowed streets of Newton after midnight, make angles in the snow, sleep late and eat dinner in our pajamas.

I want those simple uncomplicated times.

But were they?

Christmas greeting cards scotched taped around a door frame were fancy decorations. I could decorate the entire house, wrap the presents, and bake cookies, all the same day.

Last week it took one day to unbox the artificial tree and determine if plug A really went into socket E. Only one small section of lights is not working. We turned it towards the wall. Days two and three were spent putting on the ornaments, up and down the ladder, watching not to fall.

I am not the only one getting older, facing the challenge of aging; everyone else is too.

So this year, we are all going to Disney.

                                                                                                  ….Just Saying

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of forty years

Got to Love Scotty McCreery

Got to Love Scotty

Age & Attitude

   Scotty McCreery, the deep throat apple pie American Idol winner, who stole my heart, released his debut album “Clear as Day” a week or so ago. Those eager blue eyes and barely old enough to shave face displayed on a super store kiosk spoke to my motherly instincts. I am not a Country Music kind of gal but impulse purchases could help him go gold. Mr. Wonderful* agreed and we made the buy smiling.

We were not disappointed. The album consists of twelve love songs. Chris Talbott writes in “Moving On”, an Associated Press article, “Each of the 12 songs comes from a youthful perspective or voice, and McCreery says they just naturally fell into categories of love – romantic love, family love, and love for the place you come from.”

That explains what happened to me listening to “I Love You This Big.”

My son’s first word was car, my daughter’s boat. Many days, after teaching at PS 72 in the Bronx, I would put them in the car and drive to look at the boats in the bay at College Point. I would park our orange 1973 Datsun (with a hole in the floorboard) and take their hands to walk the shoreline saying, “See the ocean, that’s how much I love you.” Their young minds could not grasp the concept of endless love, but it made me feel better.

Scotty’s vocals transform the words, ” This Big, I love you deeper than the ocean, I love you all the time. I’ll spend the rest of my life explaining what words cannot describe. I love you this big.” His music speaks to your heart.

It is probably better to listen to the album.

Scotty McCrerry, I love you now but I needed you then.                   

                                                                                                                  ….Just Saying.

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of forty years.