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?”




842. Something great happened to me

My story “67 & Dumped: On Her Own in Rome,” for Yahoo Travel won a Bronze Prize in the NATJA, North American Travel Journalists Assoc., awards: for the category 50 + Travel.

I’m not new to winning prizes, in 1953 I was awarded 3 Howdy Doody spoons in a hard won fight in Shopwell, the local supermarket. I call it hard won because they could have pulled any paper out of that box.

My specialness was noticed even though I myself didn’t enter my name. A friend (my mom) did it for me.

But I’m thinking this might be better.

I know you’re all wanting to know, “What were you doing when you heard you won this incredible honor”

I was either reading Dostoyevsky to see where I could hone my writing skills or I was talking to my friend since the 6th grade, Sue trying to find people from our past on Facebook. Sometimes you just want to connect with a guy you went out with who kept twirling you around on the dance floor so he could see himself in the mirror.

Luckily it was the latter because now that I am an award winning writer I can see that Dostoyevsky has nuthin on me.

I’m actually so happy and proud. Although I’ve been writing songs, music or sailing articles etc for years it was never my passion.

Writing this blog is and when Paula Froelich at Yahoo Travel gave me the opportunity to write for them for money I couldn’t believe it.

This award is the icing on the cake.

I know I keep saying how happy I am but I’m really happy.

I’m not going to let this go to my head.

It’s only logical that the friends and family of an award winning writer should not be able to just drop in with no appointment.

I might well be thinking.

BTW does anyone know if any Nobel Prizes have been given to stories that have the word “doody” in them?

841. Why a City mouse should stay a City mouse

Raymond and I just got back from Connecticut. We were taking care of Stephanie and Terry’s animals.

I was thinking it would be much more enjoyable than before because my sweet nephew Terry got cable for me.

As David says about proper stemware that it’s the only thing that separates us from the lower orders, I feel that way about the ability to watch “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”

Since I’m old, Stephanie got other people to take care of the horses and donkeys for the most part. I’m only giving them dinner.

Last week she walked me through it and gave me strict instructions.

1. They must be fed between 4:30 and 5.

During our dry run she was unkind enough to note that since it was taking so long for me to walk the short distance to the stable it might be wise for me to leave the house at about 2. The fact that it was icy and I’m 71 meant nothing to her. I waited until she turned away to give her the finger.

2. I was to unlock the black and white horse’s door to the outside but not open it.

It seems that he will be very anxious to eat and may well trample me so when I do open it it has to be fast.

Since I’m not sure of the horse’s names I will refer to the black and white horse as Lenny and the Brown horse as Steve.

3. Then I am to go over to Steve’s door and open it.

If Lenny tries to push his way into Steve’s room I am to shove him back. This may take a bit of skill but I’m sure I can handle it since Steph says it will be easy. Although a long time ago she told me to offer some apples to her then horse Joker (aptly named) and he chased me all over the field while she laughed hysterically so she isn’t to be totally trusted.

4. As soon as Steve is in his room I am to run over to Lenny’s room and open the door for him and the donkeys (they like to dine together) while leaping out of the way.

Now here’s something interesting. I am to lock Lennys door open because it seems that he knows how to close it.

I’m thinking Len might have fingers and if I get close enough to check I’ll let you know. Here’s hoping that I don’t do it while his foot is bearing down on my face because I wasn’t fleet of foot enough to get out of his way when he decides to put on the feedbag.

Then I fill the water and feed the barn cat.

I went up a day early because it was supposed to snow and their house is on top of a long driveway that is curvy and steep. I did my job well as you can see from the pictures. photo_1 Steve b&w horse Lenny donkeys Donkeys in yard photo_2 Donkeys dining barn cat   Barn cat dining

As for the dogs and the house cats I figured that that part is a piece of cake. Ray seemed to be happy to see his cousins. photo   Last night we all started out in bed at about 9 pm.

The first night was fine. Ray and Theo stayed in bed with me while Theo’s sister Lucy went into the other room to bark for the whole night at the oncoming snow. At least that’s what I was hoping. It did enter my mind that it could be a killer but I stayed put since in the words of my cousin Barbara who is famous for writing “In Space no one can hear you scream”, they can’t hear you in Connecticut either.

About the second night things started going south with the dogs.

We go to bed, me, the 3 dogs and one of the cats. Ray is definitely the odd man out in this situation. I have to situate myself in a way to protect him because every time he changes position either Theo or Lucy jumps on him snarling. Finally he went in the other room to sleep.

Ray was clearly unhappy there. One morning I found him sleeping in the back of the closet. His cousins either bullied him or treated him with an appalling lack of respect. disrespect   When I complained to Stephanie via text she wrote back that my dog lacks social skills and doesn’t know how to get along.

The third day the driveway was cleaned so I ventured out. Going very slowly I got to the bottom. I’m a big coward so it was no mean feat.

I went to the grocery store. I was running out of dog food and a few other things. I was really feeling happy. Not being locked in is a lovely thing which is why I don’t commit crimes.

Since getting down the driveway worked well I saw no problem getting back up. WRONG! Almost at the house my car slid on the ice and I backed into a snowdrift.

I tried and tried to get out but no go so I decide to go around the car and attempt to clear the wheels with my hands.

Not only wasn’t that successful but I got stuck for a few minutes between the car and the snow and I started thinking that I was finished. (Hey, this is becoming kind of a mystery story)

Anyway to make an already too long story short I escaped my snowy bonds and took the groceries into the house.

I texted Steph and Terry texted Gilson, the guy who clears the driveway, to come over and help my get my car out.

He did come and together we got it out with ropes and sand. It took over an hour. After we were finished I asked him if he’d like some coffee thinking he’d say no and he could go home and I could go in and hug the animals (even the mean  ones).

Well to my surprise he said yes, he’d clear the driveway better while I made the coffee.

Here’s something that people that know me know and that’s that I have no ability for small talk and I hate talking to people I don’t know. Plus my hearing isn’t what it once was and Gilson speaks with a thick accent.

My solution was to make myself a fast vodka and grapefruit juice for me and coffee for him.

I immediately relaxed so that when he came in I was a real Pearl Mesta. (look her up)

We sat in the kitchen and the conversation went quite well. He even said that I was so helpful in getting the car out that he was surprised at my age (he actually asked me how old I was) “You seem more like 58”

I think that’s what he said but as I told you, he has an accent so he might have said “This coffee is great”.

I don’t know how we got on the topic but he regaled me with a tale of someone he knew who was given one month to live but cured himself with enemas after ever meal. I helped him with the word “enema” he just made a distasteful face and pointed at his rear.

Now that I think about it maybe it wasn’t an enema at all. I’ll look up the brazilian word for enema and next time I see him I’ll ask.

The next afternoon I started preparing for my exit the next day. By this time my dog was a nervous wreck and every time I walked anywhere near my car he’d stare longingly at the door.

I wiped off the snow and ran the engine to make sure it was still operative in this cold weather. It seemed fine but as I was walking away I looked back and noticed a pipe hanging down under it. I crawled under and saw that it was connected to my rear wheel.

My heart sank. Cars probably need pipes like that. All I knew was that I was going home if I had to walk.

I was already worried about getting out because it was going to snow again on the day I was leaving.

Steph, Terry and I had been texting and I told them about it. Stephanie said I should just pull the pipe off. she was sure I didn’t need it. Terry said he would text Gilson and have him come over the next day and get my car working and sand the driveway.

He did come and he tied the pipe up. He kind of agreed with Steph that it would be ok for me to drive home.

I loaded up the car, put my dog in and waited for him to sand the driveway. He suggested he follow me down to  make sure I made it ok, which he did and I did.

I had only gone a block or two when Gilson started flashing his lights and honking. I stopped.

He got out of the truck and told me my wheel was shimmying and I could not drive the car to the City like that.

He followed me back to Steph’s driveway and said he’d come back in a few hours with a tow truck but I told him I would call AAA. I wanted out as soon as possible.

I did call and they came pretty quickly. They took my car to a garage. At Terry’s suggestion I called an airport limo and hired them to take me and my dog home.

I hope they can fix my car because I love it but coming into the City (notice I always capitalize that word) put all of that out of my mind.

We were going across 57th Street in traffic when the driver shaking his head said “You really like living in this City?”

“I don’t just like it. I love it.”

And so does my dog. When we arrived at my building I gave my bags to my doorman and tried to take Ray for a walk. He just pulled towards the door. He wanted to go home. And this is how he slept last night. At peace with the world and no one snapping at him. home