Fish Fry – It’s Whats For Dinner

fish_fryI don’t what it is like in your neck of the woods, but where I live it’s a sin to stay home on Friday night. I kid you not. EVERYONE goes out to eat on a Friday night, specifically for a Fish Fry.

Especially during the Lenten season, you can’t find a soul home in the kitchen, no one in the t.v. room. The roadways and highways start to get congested around 4:00 p.m.

The seniors, taking advantage of the Early Bird Specials, start to clog the streets on their way to the nearby Dennys or Perkins. They clamor to get a bite of the batter fried haddock, with a side of baked potato and a vegetable of your choice.

But mainstream restaurants aren’t the only supporter of this phenomenon. The local gin mills have a Fish Fry, church fund raisers have them, the clubhouse at the local golf course. It is amazing. Even McDonald’s has specials on Fish Sandwiches on Fridays.

The question isn’t WHAT you’re going to have for dinner, it’s how much you will PAY for that dinner. Since everyone in town in a 30 mile radius has the same menu, it’s the presentation and the price that becomes the draw for the clientele.

Do you want wine with your fish? Do you want soda or pop? All depends on where you park your car.white-wine

I have half a mind to open up my kitchen and start selling Fish Fry out the back door, like my neighbors who sell fried chicken on the grill in the summer.

Wait a minute. That means I would have to cook.

Never mind. Kids, get the car. Let’s do Chinese.

Happy Lent.


Sisters In Arms – Summer on the Lake

It isn’t easy to admit when a marriage is over.  Especially if you’re the one who thought things were fine.

I’m finding embracing Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief theory prevents me from consuming a gallon of vanilla ice cream coupled with a few glasses (okay, seven) of rum and cokes.  It’s healthier and I won’t have to work it off at the gym.

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance – these chicks are not invited to very many parties and certainly not asked to dance; they arrive en masse and demand to be let inside, like a caravan of self-entitled, high fiving Kardashians.  They bang at the front door of our psyche and won’t leave until the karaoke machine is busted.  When there’s no more music, it’s time to go.  But, their presence is necessary in order to have a great party.

Each of us builds our identity through the roles in our life. We each have several through-out our lifetime which bear varying degrees of importance to us, and aides in the formation of who we become.   Some roles become comfortable and we spend more time in them than perhaps in others that may be more rewarding or revealing.   You may look better in high heels, but the flats are more comfortable.  Knowing when to change shoes is crucial.

Since I’m the one who always looks for the easy way, the short cut and what costs the cheapest, I breezed right past sniveling Denial, although I don’t think there’s any evidence supporting they be experienced in any particular order.   I don’t think I will be facing her pathetic sister Bargaining either, because I don’t want things to go back to the way they were.  I have moved on, and I think it’s because I finally experienced, in a big way, the loud mouthed bitch known as Anger.

I don’t get angry often.  I have a long fuse and I don’t take a lot of things personally.  I pride myself on being calm and comforting, but when the waves of becoming pissed off start to rise, watch out.  It’s a tsunami in the making.

My anger takes different forms for different situations – lashing out, ridiculing, name calling and sobbing.  The last one is particularly nasty, since I am an ugly crier.   I don’t know how they do it on tv, the wronged heroine with a gentle tear sliding slowly down a well powdered cheek.  My eyes get red and swollen, my lips puffy and grotesque, and I make sickening sucking sounds, like a high school graduate at the ER having their stomach suctioned out after the party.  My face is soaked and so is the front of my blouse, or it may be the wine, it all depends.   In any event, it ain’t pretty.


When the storm passes, there is a short period of wallowing with long distance cousin self-pity, but she never stays for more than a few hours, rarely for a full day.  It’s just how I’m made, which is in the image of a little Marine, according to my father.

All in all, the party is nearly over.  I am ready to pack up and perhaps seek out another who needs a shoulder or a hand to hold, or even someone to pick a song.  I may experience some time doing shots with annoying Depression, but will be looking over my shoulder for the smiling, grown up sister Acceptance.  She’s bringing the cake.


















John Lennon’s quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” will most likely be the header across my tombstone, since it seems to describe my intentions I tried to keep throughout. images[1] (35)

“Shit happens” also seems to fit the bill at times too. In fact, it has become my mantra over the past thirty years. Raising kids and step kids, being married and not, various careers and plain old jobs have all added to the mosaic that is my life. I am a mother-in-law and it is hard.

For me, October is traditionally a time of reflection and introspective analysis. It’s always been that way, even when I was a kid. It is also the time of year my Jewish friends observe Yom Kippur, perhaps adding the need to enhance my own self-awareness and preservation. A time of nip and tuck, of cleaning up and throwing out, October is essentially my spring clean up, occurring amid the calling leaves and cooling temperatures. I seem to feel the need to look for work during this time, and yearn to quit once the spring breezes roll around.

So it came as no surprise to learn a book I had been working on with my publisher, which was supposed to be released this holiday season, has been pushed back to December 2010. Not what I had intended, but it’s the way it is.

Perhaps it is the cosmic push I needed to finish my other works, all in various stages of development. In between, other ideas have popped into my already crowded cranium’s horizon, squeezing out uncertainty and doubt. Looking for work has become a depressing and fruitless endeavor, reminding me what a psychic told me several years ago.

“Don’t stop” he said. “Don’t stop writing.” Sure, I thought to myself, easy for him to say. He’s got the express train to the future; I have to sit and wait it out at the station. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of employment in my future, except for the freelance work I find from time to time. Perhaps it is the economy, or New York or my age. In any event, this year’s reflection has been filled with realizations and revelations. Things will never be the same.

“Let’s just get on with it” my purple bathrobe calls to me. Wrapped around me on cool, rainy days like these, it is the muse which beckons me to sit and pay attention to those feelings of uncertainty, doubt and just do it, do it, get on with it and get it on the page.

There are just so many lunch dates, shopping sprees and tv marathons to be used as excuses to do not do it. Eventually, everyone and everything is full.

So shit happens and life goes on. I suppose I should be thankful for that.



images[1] (31) 

After leaving my son’s house and visiting with our new grandbaby, my beloved and I left in our separate cars to make our way home.  Having both arrived from different locations,  we visited with Aunt Marion in the nursing home first, and then stopped by my son’s house for a quick peek at the baby.


Always driving a head of me, it is like he is surveying the landscape for danger, clearing the way of all obstacles that could hurt me or interfere with any plans for the evening.


Soon the cell phone in the side pocket of my handbag will ring and it will be him.  I have learned to remove it from the side pocket when I leave work and place it on the passenger seat beside me as I pull out of the parking lot and drive into traffic.  That is how sure I am that he will call.  Even though technically it is against the law in New York to chat on the cell phone while driving, I find it less hazardous to have it at arms reach rather than having to fumble around for it.  


Most of the times it’s just to chat, to find out how my day went, or what he accomplished that day.  He is still the ultimate list maker, even though he is supposed to be on sabbatical for the summer. 


At first I was annoyed at the daily calls because I felt he was checking up on me, or just trying to control the day.  But then I remembered my Mom and Dad and how they used to communicate.


It was in the early 1970’s and the CB Radio was all the rage.  Used mainly for truckers, a few enlightened folks had them installed in their vehicles.   They gave themselves cute call names, “handles” if you were really into it.


It was also during this time that my mother opened her own shop, an artist’s dream come true, the reward for having put her career on the back burner and raise a family.  Although my father had a 9-5 job in the city, he would join her on the weekends when her shop was the busiest.  My mother and father did everything together, so making money was no different.  It was as if they were mowing the lawn together; just another list of things to get done that day.


Sometimes during the summer months I would travel to the shop with her,  not really my idea of a good time.  It was more of a punishment, to have to be with the customers instead of hanging out with my friends.  Luckily she had another daughter who loved doing that, and pretty soon I was set free.


But sometimes on a Saturday afternoon in winter, when it got dark at 4:30 p.m. and we hadn’t locked the doors til 6pm, I think it was good for me to be with my mother so she wouldn’t have to make the 20 minute drive alone.


But she wasn’t alone – not really.


“Niner, niner, are you there, Patsy?” the CB speaker would squawk, and she would look over at me, a big smile on her face.  It was my father, calling out to her.


“Niner, niner, a big howdy do to you, Patsy here” she would reply in her best truckereeze and wink at me.


I would roll my eyes. 


“You just left each other!”  I would moan, not understanding what the big deal was.


“Is that the whiner in the front seat I’m hearing, ten four?” he would reply and I would groan all the louder.


“YOU GUYS ARE SO WEIRD!” I would scream back to the speaker, still clutched in my mother’s hand, while she commandeered the steering wheel with her left.


“That would be our oldest, the big mouth, niner-niner, ten four” and she would laugh, sticking her tongue out at me, and amused at her own creativity.  


By this time I had been bored to tears, and closed my sixteen year old eyes to see if it would make the drive home go any quicker.  It didn’t.


But I could listen to them as they would joke back and forth, his green army jeep in front of us, while we trailed behind in the old blue station wagon, passing the street lights as we got closer to the Long Island Expressway.  


Talking about what they wanted for dinner, and what they were going to do the next day, I can hear those conversations in the back of my mind. 


Realizing it was how they said they loved each other, I smile guiltily now as I have my own CB conversations in my own car, these many years later.


“So I’ll see you home then, Sweetie?”  he asks as I am readying to turn on to the highway, he having made sure the roads were safe and we would be home together once again.


“That’s a big ten four niner, niner” and I laugh as I explain my memory of them, always ending their conversations the same way.


“That’s a big ten-four, niner niner.  Over and out.”


Never over –never out. 



200530202-001[1]I love shoes.

Of all the things that I could buy in this world, it always comes back to shoes. I don’t think it’s an obsession really; but, somehow, I seem to gravitate towards shoe stores no matter where I am.

They can be made from the finest leather, online or available at Bloomingdale’s or knock offs from Payless, it doesn’t matter. The heel can be flat, or quarter inch, or hooker length, as my daughter calls them. It never matters.

Suede loafers at J.C. Penny for Autumn, wood sandals by Candies in the Summer, leather sling backs by Highlights for the Spring. Then there are the special occasions, such as weddings or funerals that require studs or velvet. Whenever a new dress was bought it just didn’t seem right to wear “old” shoes with them.

My relationship with shoes began when I was thirteen years old. For many years previous my mother had taken my sisters and I to purchase white patent leather shoes to go with a new Easter Outfit. It was the only time I got new shoes, the other being School Shopping Day, where I would be the lucky recipient of Hush Puppies when they WEREN’T cool to go along with my plaid jumpers. One time I snuck my tap shoes into my gym bag because I wanted to wear heels. I must have been a sight click clacking down the street. But I felt great.

That year was different, however. It was as if a light had been turned on behind my eyes, all these beautiful objects of fashion sprung to life before me! I couldn’t believe the difference between the different manufacturers and the styles. It was nirvana. The smell of finely made shoes is intoxicating. It was also the first time I was allowed to wear High Heels. A white patent leather shoes with an ankle strap and quarter inch heel, I was forever hooked on what was the precursor to the Pump. It made me feel so grown up, so special.

I was a woman.

The only problem was that I was a clumsy woman. My mother wouldn’t let me get them unless I “broke them in.” I think she just wanted me to practice walking in them so I wouldn’t kill myself. Now I can run the 100-yard dash in them (and have on a bet when I was 25. Ah, youth.) Having all those kids strengthened my ankles and tightened my calves.

I could wear three-inch heels to a dance and not feel a thing. Nowadays they make them in 5 inch, but I know that’s a recipe for disaster for me.

I know I’m going to end up as one of those old ladies who has lipstick on her teeth and a poodle by her side.

But, hey. I’ll be wearing some great looking shoes as I drag that walker behind me.


Never stop challenging yourself!

I took a comedy class recently and I have to say it was a lot of fun.


Graduation day consisted of performing at the Comedy Club in Webster last night in front of a crowd of 75 people who were either members of the other students families, friends and coworkers. My ballerina idol (see “We Little Ballerinas“) and yoga instructor was also there, which made me very happy. A veteran of Broadway herself, she gave me the inspiration to perform again. Since my husband is a professional touring comedian, I was glad that he was able to make my virgin solo performance.

True, I have worked on stage with him before, being Gracie to his George, Meara to his Stiller, and if you want to go back further, Martin to his Lewis. I have always been his straight man and he’s refitted some of his jokes to give me some great punch lines.

But that evening I was up there on my own, performing my own material and taking the risk of failing, i.e., not being funny. I was the only woman and probably the second oldest by a gray hair. The “elder” who took the class with me has been to open mics as long as I have known my husband, and he started shortly before I met him, which would be about 6 years ago. Both of us Irish, it was evident why we were up there.

We like to laugh and make others laugh, too. Our attitudes were of “Yeah, we’re not kids, but we ain’t dead, either.”

I’m proud to say we both did a good job.

I like to constantly challenge myself, and this definitely brought back some memories.

One of the exercises we were given in class was to remember the first time you were so excited about something and couldn’t wait to tell somebody about it. For me it was the first time I performed on a stage – an 8 year old tap dancer, I had a solo performance since I had quickly advanced to dancing with the ‘big girls’, teenagers who let me take center stage and wow them. I remember the genuine shock in their eyes and the joy they felt right along with me as I danced my little heart out. I was a ham from birth, and took advantage of every opportunity to perform.

The next part of the exercise was to remember the last time you felt that excitement.

Ten years later, the 8 year old was performing in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” and I played Golde. I had to sing and really act, surprising even myself.

When it came time to take the bow, I got a standing ovation – the audience on their feet and cheering me – and let me tell you, nothing can compare to that sweet sound of applause. There is nothing like it, and I can understand why some people spend a lifetime chasing after that sound, to hear it one more time and let it wash over you. I was genuinely stunned and began to cry, overwhelmed by the recognition. My boyfriend (who later became my first husband) was there and I bet if I asked him, he would remember it too.

I never felt that way again until last night. Although they didn’t give me an ovation, I was 8 years old again, dancing and mugging for anyone who would watch and it reassured what I had felt from the very beginning. Selling my first book came close, but its a different kind of excitement.

I’m no kid, but I ain’t dead yet. That’s what its really all about. Don’t let any opportunity to make yourself feel good pass you by. Life is far too short and our final bow comes when you least expect it.