Lets Play “Jeopardy”

You may notice I am changing the tone of my previous blogs  but considering the times we are living through who can blame me?! Now for our game….

Category:  Word Definitions  Question:  to which president elect’s plan to govern can the terms “Idiocracy” and “Abrogate” most likely be applied?

I suspect many people here in the U.S and most likely around the world are, like me, trying to reconcile the fact that our future and the future of our children, grandchildren and possibly that of many generations to come will be in the hands of a man who, up to now, has had no government experience and is best known as a reality TV star with a gold plated lifestyle.  A man who, due to an archaic system of voting prevailing over the popular election, will soon become the U.S President and leader of the free world.

For anyone paying attention (closely or not) Donald Trump seems to have a unique ability to rearrange and at times completely ignore the facts-perhaps life as a reality TV star requires this unique relationship with the truth.

With deference to Joan Didion I wonder if the advent of the Trump administration signals the beginning of 4-8 years of “magical thinking”.  Pointing to this possibility his supporters, many of them at or below the poverty line, seem to believe his vision that he will “Make America Great Again” by taking away their only option for affordable healthcare, defunding Planned Parenthood, which among its many benefits, provides free cancer screening to women, by casting aside all scientific proof and appointing, as head of the EPA, an environmental skeptic who has repeatedly sued that very agency as well as  other government entities over the very environmental rules and regulations it was formed to protect and that his plan to cut taxes for the wealthy will provide some sort of personal benefit to the rest of us.

To take the premise of magical thinking a few steps further we are also asked to believe that the Trump children, who will be running his empire, will not benefit by attending meetings discussing high level cabinet selections or that because he is “very smart” he doesn’t need to attend intelligence briefings ( perhaps he has a crystal ball as well as magical powers!) and to support his supposition that, because he is an “outsider”, he is entitled to ignore rules pertaining to conflicts of interest.Enough! I am depressing myself!

Let’s get back to my Jeopardy question which, you may have forgotten by now, was “to which President-elect do the terms idiocracy and abrogate apply?”  Let me offer a few clues, “idiocracy” is a noun describing a government based on abstract theory and “abrogate” is a transitive verb meaning to abolish or annul by authoritative action….AHA, I am sure that helped you arrive at the answer no magical thinking needed!

Watching the Sausage Making

The challenges, anxieties, second guessing and overall emotional roller coaster I have been on since purchasing a co-op apartment in NYC in June are hard to explain to anyone who has not actually walked the walk.

“Stepping down” as executive director of a non-profit 16 months ago meant I was spending more time in my apartment and because I love having friends and family visit (and visit they do!!) living in a small one bedroom was becoming more and more challenging. After carefully weighing the benefits of renting vs purchasing the choice seemed clear.  Multiple daily visits to the website StreetEasy became my hobby (still is!). Not only does StreetEasy post the details about all the apartments for sale or rent in any NYC area you choose (Upper West Side for me) but I learned as I honed my hobby, it also provides a snapshot of the NYC economy.

I quickly came to the conclusion that the word “real” in Real Estate is an extreme misnomer, instead I  suggest  “Unreal” or “Outrageous” estate when talking about New York City . What could possibly be “real” about paying up to $1,985 per square foot (I didn’t)!   After awhile I knew my love affair with NYC meant I would either have to accept the craziness of the Outrageous Unreal Estate market here or continue to pay a kings ransom in rent every month!

Not to overtax all three or four of you loyal readers, the process took many months and  an inordinate amount of wild goose chases.  I quickly developed such a strong intuitive sense about the possibility of me actually living in the space I was about to see that my intrepid Unreal Estate Broker Carolyn Joy started begging me to at least walk all the way into an apartment before rejecting it! My discouragement in seeing unbelievably expensive apartments requiring complete gut renovation is impossible describe. I also felt I was seeing the same cookie cutter apartment in almost every building I visited.

Although I’m sure you are fascinated with my saga I will put both of us out of our misery and tell you  I bought an apartment that had none of my cast-in-stone prerequisites! Two terraces, 10’3” ceilings, good storage and great built-ins did it for me!

My new apartment however did need some renovating, a process I have come to learn is not for the feint of heart!  Mere words cannot express my gratitude to Jennifer Lissner Kranitz an incredibly talented designer affiliated with Project Interiors in Chicago who also happens to be married to my son Mitch!  Her willingness to oversee the project via long distance while offering her talent, unconditional support, endless encouragement and even more endless patience has (sort of) saved my sanity! I guess “thank you” will have to do for now!!

Throughout this process I have learned, once again, that there are tradeoffs to everything in life and also that watching the sausage being made is definitely not for me. The upside is that I am thrilled to anticipate moving into  my very own apartment in the best city in the world, and now that I will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms please come visit soon!!

I Think I’ve Become A Real New Yorker!

The signs were faint at first and my earliest suspicions were directional. The first one may have been when I was stopped by a tourist asking me which subway line she should take,  after inquiring about where she was going I actually knew how to direct her!  The next indication came a few weeks later when I overheard two people discussing how they planned to get from the Upper West side to Lower Manhattan on public transportation and realized it no longer sounded like they were speaking an exotic language everyone in the City but me understood !  I’ve also mastered the art of boarding an MTA bus (almost) and am no longer confused about  how to insert my card into the mechanical swiper. This is very important to know because not only is there usually a long line waiting to board behind me but also because everyone on the bus becomes privy to my embarrassing attempts  (with no help from anyone, including the driver).

According to a list posted on the  website   www.spareroom.com I am happy to report that my instincts were correct, I really may have become a real NYer!

So, with gratitude to http://www.spareroom.com I’ve pasted a few of the telltale signs and some of my personal comments in italics. (*The list ends with this warning “Of course, now that you’re an official New Yorker, you’ll need some serious therapy to integrate back into any other city.. ” probably very true!)  Here’s the list, you be the judge

You Know You are A Real New Yorker When…..

  1. You can climb out of a subway exit and immediately know which way to walk – based purely on the direction of traffic. Not in this lifetime!!
  2. You know the difference between lox and smoked salmon – and you know which one you want on your bagel. HAH, I was born knowing that!
  3. You laugh if anyone says the G train is their nearest line. It does not serve Manhattan and suffers frequent disruptions and poor service! See!
  4. You know what alternate side parking is all about.
  5. You know all the ‘pay what you wish’ days for the museums and galleries.
  6. You tut when walking past anywhere listing “Grade Pending”.
  7. You know how to pronounce Houston.
  8. You choose shoes according to two criteria only: comfort and durability. SPOT ON!
  9. You deserve to be on a home decor show for the way you’ve made use of apartment space. (Shoes on a rack above the cooker? Perfect). Actually my sneakers are neatly placed on a wine rack in my closet.
  10. Going to Times Square on New Year’s Eve seems like the most terrible idea ever.
  11. You describe lining up for something as “waiting on line”, and you can’t understand why anyone finds that in the slightest bit weird.
  12. A movie being filmed in the street is no longer an exciting novelty, just another damn obstacle between you and your destination. So TRUE!
  13. When you see the skyline, you know you’re home!


A Fascinating Tale About Tom & The Chives

In case you were worried, I am still living in NYC and still loving it!

Full disclosure, a few days ago I spent hours writing and editing a very witty and erudite (take my word for it !) post about an unusual experience I had in the grocery store…..here’s a word of advice, remember to always save your documents before exiting!

So… this is my best recollection of that story!  On a recent Sunday afternoon I zipped across the street to the Gourmet Garage to buy some fruit. As I was checking out the cashier looked over my shoulder and said “Tom, your wife needs chives”…huh?! Everyone within ear shot stopped in their tracks to wonder about this unusual reminder from a cashier to a customer. The checkout girl on the next register asked her if she was clairvoyant, (exactly what I was thinking, which gave me an eerie suspicion that mindreading skills might be a prerequisite for Gourmet Garage employment). Being a very clever “girl” I heard myself asking her if she knew if I had forgotten anything!

My question actually elicited a smile, a huge achievement since the GG employees often make me feel like an unwelcome interruption in their busy day. But now that we were buddies she confessed that Tom had forgotten his cell phone and since chives were a crucial ingredient for the dinner party they were having that evening and since Tom was wearing a bright orange shirt and had an Aussie accent his wife assumed, correctly, that if she called the store and explained her plight it would eliminate the need for Tom to have to  head back to the store:-) …voila, problem and mystery solved!  As Tom left the long line to find chives I mused that I wasn’t the only clever “girl” in NYC!

P.S. Notice I saved my work this time!




Only on an elevator in NYC !

The bank of 4 elevators at the Manhattan JCC are notoriously capricious. Usually 3 of them are out of service at once which means I am often riding the 7 floors to my weekly foreign policy discussion group with way too many people crammed in the same car (which, I might add, speaks to my personal growth after a lifetime fight with severe claustrophobia). Add to these issues the mechanical glitch that forces the elevator to respond to every button pushed on individual floors, e.g. when someone on the 3rd floor presses the button for the elevator it immediately overrides any buttons pressed inside the elevator and heads to the 3rd floor. This mechanical inefficiency means a ride from the lobby (or any floor) can take a frustratingly long time as you travel up and down hoping no one will call for the elevator until you arrive at your floor. My usual strategy is to ride up and walk down.

Last Friday as I was leaving my discussion group the elevator magically appeared! No way could I resist such a rare opportunity so I boarded with 4 other classmates. We pressed the lobby button and, as you probably guessed, headed straight up to the roof! The doors opened and Jim, one of my classmates said very warmly, “get on, there’s plenty of room”. An invisible voice answered ”but there are 20 of us” !! Just to clarify, I was standing off to the side so I couldn’t see anyone but obviously heard there were 20 of them! “No problem” assured Jim as 18 three and four year olds and their 2 teachers filed in. My immediate thought of bolting from what appeared to have suddenly become a clown car was impossible because I was quickly blocked in by the little ones who had taken the elevator from their nursery school on the second floor to their rooftop playground. Only in NYC would kids take an elevator to their playground!

But wait, there’s more…. the teachers kept expressing their gratitude – “no one ever lets us all get on with them” they exclaimed (really? I can’t imagine why!). Next Mr. Jim, our newly appointed elevator/camp counselor, suggested we sing a song. The kids were not so sure about this (me either) but with Mr. Jim enthusiastically leading soon all 23 or 24 of us were happily singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. We got through at least 6 verses as we rode up and down stopping at almost every floor (some of them twice) and amazingly managed to get to the lobby without anyone else joining our sing along!! As we filed out I enthusiastically informed everyone that this was the best elevator ride I ever had!!




“The Computer Chat” by Carole Caplan-Lonner


This short video is truly unique and great fun to watch!! My friend Carole Caplan-Lonner wrote and produced it for her play  THE KIDS LEFT. THE DOG DIED. NOW WHAT? Carole was a beautiful, funny and multi talented woman whose philosophy of life was that the glass is always 3/4 full.  Sadly Carole passed away a few years ago but she is remembered with a big smile by everyone who knew and loved her. I am very grateful to her daughter for giving me permission to share Computer Chat with you . I’ve watched it many times over the years and never cease to laugh out loud-please enjoy!!


NY Attitude

How do you entertain your 21 year old grandson for 4 days in NYC? Let me say right up front, with no prejudice, Jacob is pretty close to perfect 🙂 and he is graduating from the University of Oregon in June so this had to be a very special trip. Of course we spent time with family (who are also close to perfect:-),went to the theater (Curious Incident), out to eat ALOT ( at restaurants too numerous to mention ),visited museums etc. etc.

Much as I hate to admit it, getting around the city is still quite a challenge for me. Even with google maps, waze, citymapper and my compass I often manage to turn the wrong way and usually when  I am only a few blocks from my destination. Jacob says it isn’t that we’re getting lost, it’s that we’re on an adventure-believe me we spent 4 days on a lot of “adventures”!

Most of the time we took public transportation, in my estimation the best way to get around the City, and if you are so inclined, to interact with other NYers.  The day we decided to visit the recently opened Met Breuer involved a new adventure-the cross town bus (embarrassing to admit that I rarely take the bus, I’m a subway kinda gal)! As we boarded the M72 I realized my bus mapper app didn’t clearly show me the closest stop to the museum (Madison & 75th). Truth be told , short of it yelling at me “get off now” I don’t really trust the accuracy of my bus app.  As we boarded I asked the driver if the bus stopped on Fifth Ave and 75th (no idea why I asked about 5th avenue instead of Madison!) “Close enough” she said . When we found seats I also asked the woman sitting behind me if the bus stopped at 5th and 75th. She repeated the words of the bus driver, it stopped close enough.

As the bus wound its way to the east side and became more crowded Jacob stood up to give his seat to a nice lady (told you he was close to perfect). I loved her immediately when she told me what a good job I had done with my son! At the risk of sounding like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man I decided to also ask her if the bus stopped near the Met Breuer. The magic words “Met Breuer” elicited corrected directions,” get off at Madison and 70th and walk 5 blocks, definitely not 5th & 75th”!  Meanwhile a very panicked looking young man overheard her giving me directions and asked for directions for himself as well-it turned out he was a courier and was lost! She asked him for the exact street address he needed and assured him he was on the right bus, headed in the right direction and that she would tell him when to get off. Meanwhile a man in a suit and tie standing close by told the courier that he was getting off at the same stop and would make sure  he headed the right way when they got off.

Soon I heard the driver announce on the overhead that next stop was 5th ave and that the lady and her “son” should exit-I swear it really happened!!  Fortunately we were in the back so the bus driver didn’t see that I was ignoring her instructions! I did however have to explain my error to the woman behind me when she leaned over to tell me this was my stop.

Now it gets a little confusing so pay close attention!-In a few minutes the woman next to me pointed out our stop was next and noticed the courier heading to the exit. Both she and the man in the suit grabbed one of his sleeves at the same time and said “not here-this is their stop”! We exited at the correct stop and I have no doubt the courier made it safely to his destination as well.

Can you imagine encountering so many  caring strangers on one bus in a city known for its indifference and “NY attitude”? Take that Ted Cruz!!  I rest my case!