852. Julie and I may have to go on the lam Or maybe we’ll just wear different hats?

About 6 months ago my niece Julie told me that she got a letter from America (the New York City Court part) stating that her landlord reported that she hadn’t paid her rent.

She not only had paid it but as she was out of checks she got a bank check and gave it to her super as usual.

I won’t go into all the details but since when she got the bank check the money was taken out of her  account she didn’t know that they hadn’t received her rent until she received this letter.

The Super remembered giving the check to the landlord who obviously mislaid it. Julie went to the Landlord, showed him a copy of the check and advised him that she couldn’t cancel and replace the check for 90 days.

He understood and she continued paying her rent each month until the check could be cancelled and the money put back in her account so she could pay that month’s rent.

She never gave it another thought.

Until yesterday when she called and mentioned in conversation that she received another letter from the Court.

“What did it say?”

“I don’t know I didn’t read it.”

“Email it to me”

“You’re scaring me.” (This is a giant no no. No one in the family is allowed to scare her. She hates that. She gets all red and her knees shake.)

“It’ll be fine. Just send it to me”

When I get the letter I see that her failure to answer the first letter gave a win to her landlord and he can now take over the premises, namely Julie’s apartment.

“Remember that first letter you got from the court? What did you do with it?”

“I threw it away. I had settled it with the landlord and I didn’t like looking at it.Why are you asking me this? Am I in trouble? My knees are shaking. FIIIIIX THIS MATTIE”

“Let me call the court. I’ll take care of it.”

And fix it I would. I had visions of Julie, Violet and Dan with those 2 shitting dogs living with me.

I phoned Housing Court and spoke to a court officer. I explained the situation and since Julie had told me that she had back and forth emails with the landlord proving everything she said I was  hoping that he would just vacate the order (a term we learned in court)and that would be the end of it.

This was not to be. It seems that she had to go down there and apply for a date to appear before a judge.

I asked if we could come down next week. (I needed time to break this to her).

“That’s a bad idea. A marshal has already been ordered. I’d get here asap.”

Now let me explain my role in the family. When ever any of my sisters are not readily available my job is to make things better.

That used to be my father’s job and he was great at it. But he died so each of my sister’s were there for their own families and Marcia (Julie’s mom) was also in charge of me until I got married when dave promised to be responsible for me until he wasn’t then Marcia got me back. But my 2 of my sister went and died and Marcia lives upstate so frequently I am the one to fix stuff.

I called Julie who took it like a big girl.

“Whaaaat? I have to go to court? My arms and legs are flying off in different directions.”

“I will pick you up tomorrow morning. We will go to the court and show them your proof and all will be well”

“I won’t have to go before a judge?”

“Maybe not”. I wasn’t exactly lying. I really did hope we could take care of it with one visit once they saw how pretty she was.

The next day bright and early Julie and I drove down to the area where all the courthouses are.

Julie was somewhat calmer. I never did tell her the part about the marshal to avoid having her collapse like a noodle.

She was even cheerful. Now that we were taking care of it she felt better. All these courthouses brought her old boyfriend, the bank robber to mind.

“This is like memory lane. Here’s where he was tried the first time. Oh and that building is where his parole was revoked. Good times.”

I won’t go into all the details but it was a no go on squashing it that day. We had to go down to housing court and sit in the gallery while one person after another came up before the judge.

There were a lot of rules most of which were completely ignored by everyone but me and Jules. Years of playing cards while watching “Judge Judy” when Julie was supposed to be working and I was supposed to, I don’t know, clean or cook or whatever housewives do, prepared us for proper court behavior.

No court officer had to point to us and remind us that silence was the rule of the day while the Judge was on the bench. We texted each other.

“Could that woman’s skirt be any tighter?” You know , court stuff.

Anyway our name was called and a man came up to us and gave Julie a series of papers with her court date and letters to send to the landlord and the marshal.

“Don’t worry” he said kindly “The marshal has been called off.”

Since that was the first time Julie had heard that the marshal had been called on, she looked at me accusingly.

We left and went to pick up the car which was parked in a lot with a very deceiving sign that suggested a special of $9.99 all day with tiny letters underneath saying every half hour.

I paid the $33.00 and off we went to lunch.

“I really learned my lesson. No American letter will ever be ignored by me again”

We both agreed that it was a very interesting morning.

Julie found the housing judge very pro tenant and said she was glad we weren’t there for anything more serious.

Which immediately reminded me that many years ago while we watched the news about this guy killing his wife I made dave promise that if he ever found me wanting that he’d wouldn’t kill me he’d divorce me.

That was one promise he kept.

We sat there patting ourselves on the back for a job well done when I had a sudden thought.

You know the apartment was in Dan’s name. If anyone was going to go to the slammer it was him.

We enjoyed the rest of our meal with the thought that even if this court date goes to shit, we’re home free.


851. Luck Be A Lady Named Mattie

This is what was hanging in my guest bathroom yesterday.


This is what’s hanging there today.


It feels like everything I touch turns to gold.

If I’m driving, I find a place to park right in front of my destination.

I went to a new doctor. She barely looked at me and asked me few questions so no need to lie.

Suge Knight fainted before he could ask me to loan him 25 million to get him out of the slammer.

I’m THIS far away from discovering why eyebrows suddenly start growing crazy after 65 and you know that once I solve it and find a cure the money truck will be permanently parked in front of my house.

The other day by mistake I bought chunky peanut butter instead of smooth and guess what? I like it better.

Hey, seems like a good time to give myself a haircut.

Except for the back what could go wrong?







850. My life would be easy if it wasn’t me living it.

You know how when you get nervous you start saying nutty things?

I just realized that maybe that’s only me.

Lew dying did something to me in addition to making me sad. It made me decide to go to the doctor.

To most people that’s something they just do but not me. I am terrified of going to the doctor. Mainly because I’m scared of being scared.

It isn’t dying I’m afraid of. It’s being told that I’m dying.

I do my best to protect myself from that by either not going for check ups or lying when I do go.

I feel if the doctor is worth his salt he’ll be able to tell what’s wrong with me me without my help.

Anyway after Lew died I called my doctor. A really nice man that didn’t ask too many questions and I loved his nurse. Unfortunately he no longer takes my insurance so I had to search out someone else who does.

I decided to go with a woman this time. I’ve never been to a woman doctor. I was afraid I’d become a lesbian but at my age any port in the storm.

And although my natural urge was to go to a Jewish woman I decided that I’d best choose someone from a poor country who’d find someone a bit overweight as a positive sign of health.

I chose a Dr. Lee.

Now onto the crazy part.

I called her office which is right down the block from my house and made an appointment for this morning.

But before actually confirming it I let them know what they’re in for.

I explained that I’m really nervous about going to doctors. “Is she nice?’ I asked.

“Really nice. We’ll take good care of you”.

I felt a little better but here’s where the nuttiness comes in.

Just as I was hanging up I looked for reassurance. “So everyone will be nice to me?”

“Yes they will”

And then here it comes. “And no one will make fun of me?”

“Huh? Make fun of you? Of course not.”

I have no idea why I said it or what it meant. But immediately the woman’s voice went from reassuring to frightened.

That’s when I wished dave were there. He would have grabbed the phone from me and told them I was only joking. After all his job was to rebuild all the bridges I burned.

But he wasn’t there. It was only me meekly saying “Well see you Monday” and hanging up.

Anyway I’m expected there in 20 minutes so I have to go. I’m cringing at the thought of introducing myself but I have on my diamonds, took a mental patient pill and I combed my hair neat.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


849. Ya got good days and bad days

I haven’t written for awhile so let me ask, what’s new with you?


Let me see. Last week Julie and her main squeeze Dan and I went out to Montauk to pretty up the house so I can rent it for the summer.

I went down to the basement and was greeted with about 6 inches of water all over the floor.

At first I wanted to cry but then Sunshine Sally that I am I figured that with an indoor pool I can really up the price.

Throw a couple of noodles and duck head tubes down there and we’re set to go.

I would have stuck with that but when I went into my bedroom that too was full of water. Water slide? Probably not.

I spent the next three hours, until almost 1 a.m. cutting up the carpet with the furnace guy (a heating pipe broke) and throwing it out the front door.

So much for spending the weekend working on my tan.

I was telling my sister that I was dreading surprising dave with all the expenses of late, replacing the 30 year stove and now the $2500 deductible for the flood.

My sister Marcia, who has always had a beautiful way of expressing herself said “Fuck him, he’s given you a few surprises too.”

The weekend closed with my hearing about the sudden death of my dear friend Lew Soloff.

The funeral was both a tribute to how much he was loved and a reminder of how much he will be missed.

There must have been 200 people there standing in the muddy snow for a few hours.

There was a soldier playing taps with not a dry eye in the house.

I couldn’t help but think “Lew in the armed forces?” It really didn’t compute. He wasn’t a ‘toe the line’ kind of guy. But when I heard he had to take basic training twice, well I accepted it.

You never know what to say to the family at a time like this. But you do the best you can.

I went to his ex wife, Emily, who Lew was still very close to. She had moved to Texas and I hadn’t seen her in years and I missed her.

I put my arms around her and whispered in her ear “Oh Emily, if only we were here for my ex husband”.


848. Lew Soloff (I can’t believe I’m writing this)

What do I know about music?

Not much.

I do know a lot of wonderful and talented musicians and they all thought Lew was one of the greatest trumpet players ever. Let them tell you why he was everyone’s first call.

I’ll tell you about Lewie.

I called a friend to tell him about Lew dying last night and after the shock wore off, my friend said, “I feel bad, haven’t been close to him in years.”

It was then that I realized that if you ever met Lew in person you were close to him. You know how when people say to someone who is talking too loud “Use your inside voice”?

Lew didn’t have an “inside personality”. If you met him for a minute he was the same as if you knew him for 30 years. He might tell you about how he lost 40 pounds or where to go for the best sushi.

Man did he love to eat. I heard a story and I don’t know whether or not it’s true that when Lew played with Blood Sweat and Tears and the money was rolling in he’d fly to Bologna just to eat in this 5 star restaurant. It’s certainly sounds like Lew.

He was incredibly honest which sometimes made him a pain in the ass and always made him someone to trust.

He was also kind. After my divorce he made sure to keep in touch with me. He invited me to his 70th birthday party but I declined because I felt funny being around all those musicians. He called me up and nagged me until I said I’d be there.

Look, sometimes he’d drive me crazy.

We were in Japan having breakfast and he insisted on questioning the waitress who spoke almost no english which juice she preferred mango or papaya? Her smiles and blank looks did nothing to stop him. He thought if he added a few more adjectives she’d get it. Sweeter? More delectable? Because you know that if someone doesn’t understand the word ‘sweet’ they’re bound to get ‘delectable’.

It was only when I yelled at him ” Pick one or get them both Lew.This isn’t the last juice you’ll ever drink”.

But that wasn’t Lew. He was always searching for the perfect juice or the perfect note.

Yeah, he drove me crazy but I loved him in my bones.

My deepest sympathies to his family. Luckily his lovely daughters were with him at the end.

I understand he died right after he had dinner.

I hope he had dessert.


847. The End

I’m going out to Montauk today to make my house pretty so someone will rent it for the summer.

Julie and her boyfriend Dan are going with me. We will laugh and hop.

Ray is staying at home with his cousin Scott and Scott’s girlfriend Mary.

I haven’t mentioned that Ray sleeps in the master bed but I guess they’ll find out soon enough. He also likes to snuggle.

Miss Liz is back in New York and she’s using this opportunity to right all the wrongs that David and I have been doing without her guidance.

Her first night here she gave me a lecture on making a living will because my family loves me. She said that it will be hard for them to pull the  plug on me without trying to save me.

I realized that there was some truth to that for all of them except Stephanie who tries to cover my face every time I doze off. Actually Steph says she will take care of me even though she wouldn’t give me a happy day. I can accept that.

I kept meaning to send out a note about my wishes when as luck would have it my nephew Jimmy issued an email to the whole family suggesting that we all form a family fantasy baseball thing.

I “replied all” with

I’m in.
BTW now that I have you all together I want to ask you not to use any special means to keep me alive at the end of my days. I especially don’t want that thing down my throat.
Now I don’t mean if I’m getting something minor out. I mean something that will kill me.
I know I don’t have to tell Steph this but the rest of  you may think you’re doing me a favor trying to pull me through.
Now Go Yankees
 Julie immediately answered with:
Living will via fantasy baseball email thread. Sounds good.
I’m hoping this will replace my previous living will witnessed by my sisters, Marcia and Phyllis in 1991.
living will photo
You see when I made that the Channel 2 lineup was “Murphy Brown”  etc.
I’m more a Bravo girl now.

846. If you have a new car stand up. I’m standing.

I picked up my new car today.

I have two things to say about  it.

1. It’s beyond beautiful

2. It would have taken less time to seek political asylum in any foreign country.

My salesperson, Sash, a 25 year old girl who will be 26 in a few months and has plans of giving back by buying the first semester of college books for a worthy graduate of her high school who maintained a 70 to 80 grade average in their senior year. As she said, there’s money available for the people who earn good grades but no help for the average student and who gives a crap about the dummies (the last part was mine).

I gotta say I was impressed with her.

Now how do I know all this about Sash?

Because it took for fuckin’ ever to get that car.

Either it was being washed or dried or dusted for fingerprints. There was  one reason after another. I just wanted to get into the car, have her explain all the buttons and stuff and go home.

Just as I was about to cry Sash said the finance guy was ready to see me. This was over 2 hours in.

We went into his office and I told him I’m not getting any extras so please can we skip it .

He wasn’t buying it even though I told him I would sign anything that said that I had heard his speech if he’d just set me free.

He told me he couldn’t do that but he assured me I wouldn’t find it boring.

He was right because I didn’t listen.

The whole time he was talking  Sash and I were discussing “Mob Wives”.

By now we were fast friends. We even high fived each other when we both agreed that our favorite mob wife was Drita.

By the time he stopped talking and had me initial my rejection of each of his money making programs I had been there for 3 hours.

I was hungry and tired and just wanted out so when my car came down and Sash began to explain how everything works I had had it. As soon as she connected my phone to blue tooth I hugged her and told her to get out.

Maybe I should have let her tell me a few more things like how to turn the radio off and where the brakes are.

845.This is boring unless you’re buying a new car

People have been suggesting that I get a new car for awhile.

My car is a 2001 Toyota Camry with 120,000 miles on it.

I resisted for a few reasons.

My car is just fine. It’s in good shape and drives well.

I am afraid to spend all that money.

Plus I remember when I got this car. My previous car was also a Camry. I wanted to get a new one because there was no passenger seat air bag and since I was the driver I worried that if there was an accident dave might be seriously injured or killed.

That’s a decision I’d had given more thought to if I could have seen into the future.

My new car was newer but it really wasn’t that different from the one I had before so my new car joy was limited.

My visit to my niece’s house to take care of her animals and the problem I had with my car being stuck made me think that maybe the time had come to  replace it.

I was really nervous. Any time I’ve purchased a new car it was  stressful. dave never took any part in it because as he said whenever he didn’t want to do something “Boys play piano, girls buy cars” or “carry things” or “hang a picture”…..

It had been 15 years since I bought a car so I sought some good advice. I wrote about it on Facebook.

My friend Ronnie said “Bring a man with you.” suggesting that the dealer would make mincemeat of me if I was alone.

I got a message from a friend, Tammy, who works for AARP. She said that AARP has a new auto buying program. She said she’s heard that it’s very good.

I went on to the AARP web site.

They ask you to put in the car you want and the year and the model. Then you put in your zip code.

Almost immediately every dealer within 25 miles of your home sends you a price for that car and whether they have it in stock or not.

It seems this price becomes a guarantee from True Car Quotes that the dealer will honor.

The lowest price I got was from a dealer in New Jersey. For you out of towners, that’s a whole nother state that isn’t New York.

Then I got a million phone calls from the dealers asking when I was coming in. What with the terrible weather I couldn’t set a date so mostly I didn’t pick up.

I did speak to a dealer near my neighborhood but since they were one of the higher quotes I explained that I was sorry but I couldn’t use them.

I was told then that if I brought in that lower True Car Quote they would honor it.

I was so excited. I made an appointment for later that day.

My niece Cheryl who is visiting, wanted to come with me but her reason for being in NYC was to go to her friend’s baby shower which was that day. (I actually think her real reason was to steal my dog, but I’ll tell you about that later)

She told me to tell David that if he’d go with me she’d buy him dinner. She really didn’t want me to go alone.

David agreed but at the last minute he found he had something better to do.

Ask me if Cheryl is mad at him. It didn’t help that because of the snow he didn’t follow his plans but stayed home and had a nap.

I actually didn’t care. I felt totally prepared.

While I was passing time, I decided to go on a live chat with Edmunds.com to answer a few questions I had.

I particularly wanted a rear camera so I asked how much extra that would be.

He, his name was Chase, told me that was standard to the car.

Chase then asked  “What kind of Camry was it? We can price it out to make sure AARP has got you a solid price”

I told him and he said it was a fantastic deal.

I then asked   “Is there anything else I should be wary of?”

His answer ” Yes. The finance department will try to upsell you on extended warranties, paint protectants, etc”

He told me what I should get (nothing) and what I shouldn’t get(everything)

I’ve never felt so prepared for anything in my life. I went off to purchase my car. On my way my brother in law called and said he’d stay by the phone in case I had any questions.

I was glad for his support but he’s just a lounge singer. What could he know about cars?

I had all my ducks in a row when I went into that dealer. And it’s a good thing I did because when I sat in that car I lost all reason.

This car looked and felt like a space ship next to my 2001 car. It was so beautiful. I never wanted anything so much in my life.

If I hadn’t done all that preparation they could have asked me for any price at all and I would have paid it. I was in love.

But I did my homework and had already told them over the phone what I would pay so luckily I was safe.

I  was dealing with a pretty young girl who had just been in the job for a few weeks.

She and I went out in the snow and I drove my dream machine around the block to test it even though it was unnecessary because I was already sold but I knew that my brother in law would ask me how it handled.

I’m picking my new car up on Thursday.

Now as to my niece Cheryl. You all know how much I love her and she certainly watches out for me but she isn’t all peaches and cream.

She has a reputation for being somewhat light fingered.

Which is why when she was packing up to leave and I noticed her suitcase was a little bigger than when she got here.

I opened it up and looked in.

She was definitely leaving with something that wasn’t hers.

suitcase 2

I hope my nephew isn’t mad that I called the cops.



844. Ok World, Get Outta My Way

2014Seal_BronzeWhat is this you ask? It’s the seal that only the winner of an NATJA Bronze prize for writing can display.

That happens to be me.

They also gave me a form to submit to my local paper.

Thinking that The New York Times is as local as you can get, I chose them.

I was sure they’d want to print it so they could make the glitterati aware of a celebrity in their midst. Or maybe just a “Local Girl Makes Good” piece.

Much to my surprise it was returned.

Did you know the NYT has a form letter addressed to Dear “No Fuckin’ Way”

In spite of that I feel like all of a sudden everything I touch is turning to gold (or bronze).

Yesterday Applecare got my computer that has been running slow for a year to move at my lightest touch.

I was racing around at a bunch of sites and I happened to come upon ads for the Westminster Dog Show.

There wasn’t one dog better looking than Ray so I got to thinking…. Do I dare???? Do I have to send in his headshot? Because that dog does not take a bad picture.

Even just this morning, he was waking up from a nap under my sweater and he hadn’t combed his hair or anything and look:

sweater 1The boy can’t lose.

I was talking to my sister Marcia this morning telling her my plan to bring him over to the show and insist he be admitted as a write in.

She reminded me that since Ray is scared to death of other dogs, when he wins, which he surely will, he will be shaking too much for them to put the ribbon on him.

I guess she’s right but winning stuff is in my blood now. I want to win some more but I’m not sure where my skills lie.

I started trying to remember things that I’ve done in the past without giving a thought to how awesome I am and therefore not pushing ahead and bringing it to greatness.

Wait a minute. Here’s something. When I was a caseworker in the South Bronx during the 60’s I once tap danced from the intake section of the Welfare office back to my desk.

At that time I did it just to amuse myself but even though I was warned never to do it again or risk being fired (something that could never happen because during those days a city worker had to be actually caught killing someone to get fired and probably even then you’d just get a good talking to).

But if I knew then what I know now, you know the part about me being awesome, I’d have tap danced my way out of that shit hole and onto Broadway.

Maybe it’s not too late.

Gotta go.

Tappity tap tap tap twirl tap tap do the windmill tap kick

843. My Valentine Sweetheart

My Valentine Sweetheart happens to be the same guy who is my Christmas Sweetheart, My Easter Sweetheart and my National Tree Day Sweetheart.

His name is Captain Hugh.

For those of you who haven’t read my whole blog, I got custody of the Captain in the divorce.

About 15 or more years ago we left our sailboat in the Bahamas. Captain Hugh lived in the marina and kind of adopted us.

He was wonderful. When we needed something done on the boat we’d do it through him and he’d see that it was done right and at a reasonable price. He’d worry about us when we took the boat out and was always waiting for us on the dock when we got back.

Though he never asked and we never mentioned it, his boat had no heat or hot water so he stayed on our boat when we went home and when we returned the boat was immaculate and empty of any liquor because as he said sadly “During hurricane season you can’t keep these guys (his friends) away from the drink”

The Captain was an old gentleman. His clothes were kind of shabby but always clean and nicely pressed.

One day Captain Hugh called and told us that the customs man had been around and if we didn’t get our boat out of the Bahamas we’d be fined.

This just showed what kind of man he is. It certainly wasn’t in his best interest to tell us this. He’d been making money from us for awhile.

Anyway we wished him well and had our friends pick up the boat and sail it back. I was way too afraid to go across the ocean.

At that time both dave and I thought that we’d never hear from him again but that didn’t happen to be the case.

On every holiday for the past 15 or so years we’d get a call from Captain Hugh. I use the word “holiday” loosely. Sure he’d call on Christmas but he’d also call on Mother’s Day and any other day that someone in the world gave a name to.

“Happy (put your holiday here), Mattie”

“Same to you Captain. How’re you doing?”

“Not so good, Mattie

“Can I send you a little something to help out?”

“That would be much appreciated”

And I would.

Unfortunately sometimes dave would answer the phone and he’d just send the same good wishes back at the Captain and hang up.

I bet Captain Hugh was happier than anyone that dave no longer lives here to answer the phone.

I hear from him 3 or 4 times a year. His voice has gotten weaker and you can hear his health is failing. He can no longer pick up the money at Western Union so I send it in his nephew’s name now.

This morning the phone rang and when I looked at the caller ID and saw ‘Bahamas” I had to think for a minute before I remembered what holiday it was.

I began to smile. I really love the old guy and I’ll be so sad when the calls stop coming.

Hopefully that won’t be soon.

“Hello Captain, Happy Valentine’s Day. How’re ya feeling?”