The most important thing to do for me is to keep reminding myself that every breath I take is an exercise in staying alive. Don’t look to the future even if it’s just tomorrow. Don’t look at the past and all the shadows. Just keep breathing. If I need something to calm me down I think of my grandchildren. I am very grateful for them. I’ve had other periods like this in my life but they were from my own depression which caused me to feel that I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. The fact that this is caused by a worldwide pandemic is too mind boggling to even comprehend. So I focus instead on the books in my house that I have yet to read, and the people that I hear from that I love so much. That’s my work. I wish I could help you find yours.
Dark wood tree
New life growing
So I was wrong when I wrote that yesterday was Wednesday because today is Wednesday. Who cares? Some friends of mine and I went to visit a retirement community yesterday. It was a necessary day of travel. It was necessary because all three of us are going crazy. We keep looking for places to live when we’re old and some in our group are older than others. Here’s what we want: nice cozy apartment that belong to us, a dining room where everybody is friendly and the food is delicious, a year round pool and a year-round gym and the possibility of having nursing care if you become gaga. And I don’t mean lady. Do you think this is easy to find? Well you’re wrong. Most places we have seen have been incredibly depressing. Even in California there’s no one walking around outside. The places inside are small and claustrophobic and in the dining room everything is painted brown including the Naugahyde chairs. I don’t need a lot because I like to chat up people which is the story of my life. I’ve met several people on airplanes who have become lifelong friends. Now that I’m older I do feel more fragile but still feisty and independent so I know I don’t really want to make a commitment to buy something right now unless I could sell it right away if I didn’t like it. Some of these places give you tests when you try to buy a place to see how long it’s going to be before you totally lose it and they have to pay for you. If someone gave me a test like that I would clearly fail . I have a very hard time taking anything seriously. As you may have read before, I definitely have oppositional defiant disorder. I would be leading revolts and protest marches and sitins in the old age homes if things weren’t up to snuff. If I couldn’t find enough people join me in doing this I would recruit them from the outside world and dress them as members of my community. The whole thing is interesting. How do we live when we are old? I think most women would say they don’t want to stay in their house with their husbands because the husbands by this time are grouchy. Also they require constant feeding.I have a hard time with anyone that requires constant feeding even a goldfish..This may explain why I live alone. Anyway I’m going to visit as many of these places as I possibly can and then I am hoping I’ll find a bunch of people who will want to start our own place. We could buy some property someplace and build a main house with a giant commercial kitchen and a great room where we could all hang out and eat together and play games, maybe even hide and seek,and have a generally convivial time. Then we could all retreat to our individual apartments until we were ready to meet up again. There would be a big vegetable garden and we would have places for young people to live with their families so they’d be happy working on the property and we would get the benefit of seeing the children running around. Worst thing about getting old is being shoveled off to a building where there are only other old people. I think the best thing in the world would be to get old with a bunch of pals in an environment that was young and fun and loving and compassionate. That’s what I’m looking for
It doesn’t really matter what day it is because nobody knows anyway. Maybe bankers know. I don’t know. I don’t really care. I have a weird feeling that things are not going to get better for a really long time. I’m used to my mask by now and in fact I find it quite handy. I could be a bank robber, or an anesthesiologist. I go for the latter. I think there are a lot of people who would be happy to have me put them to sleep right now. I don’t think I’ve eaten any vegetables today. Normally I would know right away what I’ve eaten each day. I don’t really like fruit. We never had fruit in our house growing up. We had six shiny mackintosh apples in a straw basket on top of the red counter in the pantry. They were the only snack we were allowed after school. I hate apples.
I am the last woman on earth.
I live alone in my house and every day I follow the schedule that I have arranged for myself.
That’s my game. It’s the best way to get through this.
Yoga, coffee, meditation, breakfast, look out the window, do the laundry, make the bed, take a shower, take a walk, lie on the floor and wait for the dogs to jump on me, eat stuff from the fridge
after gazing into it awhile. Brush my hair.
Add blush. Add mascara despite considering how long it will take to remove. No lipstick.
Yesterday I considered a small glass of red wine with breakfast.
My neighbor’s new dog barks
enough to make napping problematic.
I drink a lot of tea with half and half
and maple syrup which is tastier than
My garage is a café after 6
and dinner is in white cardboard squares
ready for all of us dreamers who believe
next month will bring hope back and
neighbors come two by two
like passengers on Noah’s Ark
run aground and have a hard time
So how do I feel?
I’m glad for the distraction and for the wine and for the anesthesia. I don’t tell anybody about the hopelessness.
In Reality Travel Doesn’t Measure Up
For the longest time I thought I might become someone else. I also thought I might live somewhere else. I could be Norwegian and learn the language well so people would say how no one could tell I wasn’t a native. I like the sounds of their desserts.
Or I could be a lawyer wearing crispy tight suits with very high heels and click click click across the court room floor stating my case and always winning.
Rootless like a malformed carrot I would refuse to flourish in one place. I know this was a problem this rootlessness.It prevented me from applying myself to much of anything: love, housekeeping, friendship, home repair… you get the story. I kept a suitcase filled with cash hidden in my house and a bag packed with essentials which changed from month to month.
Now my rootlessness fits right in. No one is going anywhere but everyone would like to be rootless. I wonder if after we finally figure out this virus and we are free again if everyone will prefer being rootless? After all, being imprisioned at home for over a year can drive even a boring person crazy.
Where will I go when I can go anywhere? I think at this point my first stop would be Hawaii because I can’t get the music of palm trees out of my head.I often thought it would’ve been a perfect place to live full-time. Like Eloise, I could move into the Four Seasons Hotel on the Big Island and just go down to dinner every night sitting at the bar overlooking the ocean generously tipping the bartender so that he always saved my seat. Reading a terrific novel all during dinner while drinking wine and eating sushi would be heaven right now.
And oh yes there is the spa in all those hotels and the spa always has palm trees with leaves that rattle above your hut while you are having a massage. Preferably a Lomi Lomi massage. I still don’t know what that means but I love them. I have entertained myself all day by thinking of places I would like to go when I can go anywhere. Frankly, it may be better in my imagination. That’s been a life long problem of mine and one I intend to keep as it’s so useful.
My sister knew everyone in New York. Every couple of weeks she would have a dinner and she would always invite me. I never thought about it at the time but now, looking back, I realize what a generous thing that was.
When I was invited to one of her dinners I felt slightly sick, incredibly lucky, and completely shy.
Sometimes we would go shopping before these events to a special section in Bloomingdale’s where they had amazing designs from a young London woman who created costumes which were perfect for my sister. Generally, they were dresses that extended to the ground and when you lifted your arms in them cascading waterfalls from each arm in colors one had never really seen before fell around you.. In fact, I thought my sister looked like a glamorous bird of paradise.
I loved these shopping trips. I wouldn’t go in the room with her because that would’ve ruined it for me. I sat outside instead on a bench and waited for her reveal. It was always extraordinary and we always knew right away which one was going to be the right one for the night.
I wore the same outfit pretty much to all of her dinners. Jackie Rogers was a designer at the time who had a shop on Madison Avenue and I had spent way too much money on a black chiffon pleated skirt that was slightly transparent. I would wear the skirt with whatever black top I happened to think looked good that night. The best part was getting into the taxi on my way to my sisters and saying “ 7 Gracie Square, please!”
I thought it was the most glamorous thing in the world and surely the taxi driver must realize I was a very important person to be going there.
Once I got to her apartment and she opened the door which she always did And I could hear the hum and buzz of the party within.. I knew what time she would be serving dinner so I always arrived about 15 minutes prior to that time because in doing that I wouldn’t have to spend too much time making small talk which was not my strong point.
My sister would always introduce me to whoever she thought would be fun for me to talk to. One night I met Fran Leibowitz, George Plimpton, and Erica Jong. I felt as if my lips were frozen and certainly I couldn’t have had much of a conversation with any of them but just being in their presence was probably the coolest thing I could’ve imagined.
In those days everyone wanted to have fun. It didn’t really matter what you said or thought but if you laughed and had motion in your thoughts people adored you. Consequently I think I was adored at least by some of my sister’s guests.
It was the first time in my life I actually thought I was interesting. In the 70’s going out meant going out! We got dressed up. We took makeup seriously. We read Women’s Wear Daily and tried very hard to have big hair, beautiful dresses, and a lot of fun and we did.
I remember going to El Morocco which was a night club on 56th St. and the east side with various girlfriends and what I loved most was the staircase entrance. You showed up at the front door and Bart, the doorman, who was always wearing a top hat, would open the door for you and show you immediately to the elevator.
The elevator would take you to the second floor where the ladies room was and you could check your makeup for the 20 billionth time that night. After you exited from the ladies room there was a grand staircase descending in front of you. It was also mirrored on the right hand side to reflect the entire room of people who were dining or drinking. As you descended you knew that all eyes were on you whether for a second or longer. It was the most thrilling experience of my life. Don’t forget, I was all of 22 years old.
Bart, the doorman, often intervened when men became too amorous. I remember one night when my sister and I were going back to her house and one of our admirers wanted to come along with us in the cab. Neither my sister nor I seem to be able to be forceful enough to stop this however Bart took it in stride. It was quite exciting needless to say.
El morocco had been around since my parents were dating and was the most glamorous place people could go. There were black and white zebra skin banquets and palm trees with white feathers hanging over them. It was very important to be seated near the dance floor so you could see everybody and everybody could see you. I was never a Studio 54 girl. El morocco was the place for me. The music was amazing and the food, forgettable. The lady in the ladies room knew everything about everyone. If you were smart you would give her a good tip. Otherwise she might tell people things about you that might be true but weren’t pleasant.
Tonight I have been reflecting on how much fun that time was. The 70’s were a great period. The music was great, the parties were great, people were light hearted and wanted to just flirt and have a good time.
I was saying to my sister tonight how much I appreciated her support and friendship during those years and how it had made all the difference for me in my life. I am so grateful for all those memories of her apartment, all those interesting people, the food, the wine and the ambiance. I felt safe there.
I felt like nobody was going to say anything mean to me and everyone was going to protect me. She was the perfect older sister. Without sounding sappy, she was good to me. I don’t think people enjoy life in the same way that we did then in today’s world. Even when Covid leaves I don’t think young people have as much fun. It’s too bad.
It’s too bad because in those moments you could forget anything that was going on in the world and just listen to music, listen to the beat, look into the eyes of some interesting person and have a wonderful night.
I fall in love easily if the man
or good looking,
Not only do I fall in love but I think the man
is better than me and I feel unworthy,
rough elbowed and potato lumpy,
so I want them more.
(They will never love me wanting so much).
I create imaginary lives with
men and in the life
I have created
they never seem as in love
with me as I am with them.
(I chose carefully).
Freud would have a very easy
time with me as I would lie on his couch
not having to say one word.
I wish I were Freud. I want a couch.
I am afraid it’s too late.
I may be giving up
the hunt, the waiting and wanting.
The pain, no longer bearable.
The man who will be everything
and I will be invisible. So invisible
his touch will be like a shot of novocain
mixed with curare
and my frozen body finally painless.
I lie still longing.