Thursday, November 26, 2015


My favorite holiday is usually spent on the Cape, with family. This year is a little different. I'm now in retail and the Friday after Thanksgiving is a must-work day.

7:10 am
Alexander kisses me good-bye, as he leaves to go up to Falmouth with his cousins, aunt and uncle.

9:15 am
I see Andy at Sashimi Express and pick up a big platter of sushi that I've pre-ordered. It'll make a nice pre-Thanksgiving appetizer.

2:15 pm
I imagine the scene as if I were there. Everyone's sitting in my mom's living room, with football muted in the background. Hors' d'oeuvres are passed and eaten. Lots of catch up conversation, with a touch of politics thrown in.

3:45 pm or so
All the females get up to start preparing the meal. Most of the work has already been done. We're talking final touches. Putting the food out. Slicing the turkey. Filling the glasses with ice. That kind of thing. The men will stay seated and will continue to watch football (the sound is probably on by now) until my mom announces, "Dinner's ready."

Jim will say grace, and the meal will be splendid. Turkey. Stuffing. Gravy. Cranberry sauce. Yams. Mashed potatoes. Peas, and probably things I'm forgetting. My nephew Adam will eat the most, and people will tease him. He won't care. My niece Sally will make kind remarks about global warming and wasteful consumption. People will tease her. She will care.

The conversation will be animated, with lots of people interrupting lots of other people. No one will be taking pictures this year. Jack, who's the real photographer in the family, prefers nature to people. And Ellie the cat is most likely locked away in my mom's room, where Valerie and her sons won't have to see her.

After dinner and before dessert, the men will go back to watching football and the women will stay behind to do the kitchen stuff. My family is liberal, except when it comes to meal-related tasks. The men almost always have nothing to do with them. And strangely, the women all accept this. My son loves this particular aspect of my family and happily immerses himself into the do-nothing-in-the-kitchen-'cuz-I'm-a man role.

5:45 pm
While my family on the Cape is eating their multi-berry pie from Crabapple's, I leave for Shari's where my Thanksgiving will begin.

It's pretty similar to my family's Thanksgiving. Same great food. Same familiar warmth. And same men hanging out watching football.

It's nice to have great friends; I have much to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

first day of selling

The day begins badly.

My cold has worsened and my neck up sickness has now migrated to my chest. My cough sounds like a seal pup's bark. I awake feeling miserable.

I go to the local pharmacy for some Mucinex DM, then pick up a tall cup of tea.

Saks has a 9:30 floor meeting every morning.  I take my tea, and sit on a bench overlooking a table of baby blue cashmere sweaters by Theory. The meeting starts and I spill my tea. It puddles on the floor and precariously close to — but thankfully not on —the sweaters. 

The day doesn't improve much from there. Eight and half hours of standing, few sales, little earned income, but some really nice customers.

Joyce comes in and says, "I'm looking for something to wear for Thanksgiving."  I pull several things, all of which she likes, though all don't fit. Before she leaves she asks for my card. When I tell her it's my first day; she is surprised and says, "I'd have never known. You are really helpful." 

As opposed to Ivy who certainly knows, as it takes me three times to ring up her simple send order.

Then there's Jane. I fumble on a return and when I ask my colleague for help I get none. Jane gives me a knowing look and kindly offers to take the return somewhere else. Several hours later Jane returns with a couple of items she wants to purchase. She specifically seeks me out, and says, "I really felt bad the way that other associate spoke to you."  

When people are nice and appreciate my efforts it goes far in making the job enjoyable.
I really do like the customer interaction. 

One thing I've always known but have never experienced until now — it takes much more effort and physical exertion to make a little bit of money than it takes to make a lot.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

meeting leo

I dress as if it were a date.

Black fitted dress, high shoe boots, more makeup than normal.

I get to the theater early. It's a screening for The Revenant.

Everyone thing is going smoothly.

Moderator has arrived.

Photographer is present.

At least five studio people are at the theater.

Lots of security roaming around.

And a full house.  All as it should be.

The plan is to watch the movie and greet the "talent" about ten minutes before the end.

So at the climax of this two hour and thirty minute movie, I leave my seat.

The studio rep finds me to tell me that the talent has not been cleared for photos — major disappointment. 

I meet Will Poulter; he's very sweet. I see no one else.  Then I realize they are all hanging in a stairwell waiting for the film to end and the Q&A to begin.

I'm intimitated, but work hard to pretend I'm not.

I walk down the stairwell, past the three tough-looking security men, and approach the director, Alejandro Iñárritu. I compliment him on the exquisite movie he's directed. We speak briefly.  Standing next to him is Leonardo DiCaprio, looking very much the movie star he is.  

I introduce myself, shake his hand, and say, "You clean up nicely." Throughout most of the film, he's half dead.

I add, "You share my son's birthday (November 11), so happy belated birthday." He laughs.

I tell him I was cold watching the movie, and he says, "You have no idea. Some days were 40 degrees below zero. We shot in Calgary."

We talk a few more minutes and then he's being lead away. It's a short encounter, but an encounter nonetheless — one I'll not soon forget, even without the selfie.

Friday, November 20, 2015

"how's alexander doing?"

It's late September.  

"What do you think this is?" Alexander asks. My son is referring to some odd-feeling thing in his mouth.

I have no idea what the thing is and suggest he see a dentist. He does. In fact, he sees both a dentist and an oral surgeon. The result, as expected, are two impacted wisdom teeth that have to be removed.

We choose Dr. Clifford Salm, the same person two of my good friends have used. We are warned by everyone about swelling, pain, bleeding and a myriad of other post-operative possibilities.

Alexander is not worried about the pain. Just dying. He searches the internet and unearths all the deaths that have ever resulted from general anesthesia. He fears a bad reaction, and is adamant. "I don't want to be put under."

I load up on the foods I think my son will be able to eat: soups, yogurts, and jello.The soups get returned. I had no idea my son hates them; all of them, apparently.

This morning I go with Alexander to Dr. Salm's office. I need to leave around 10; the surgery is scheduled for 9, and Shari will pick him up to take him home. I am working today.

The doctor is calming. My son is relaxed. I know he's in good hands. 

I sit in the waiting area, and about eight  pages into my book, the nurse comes out. "Alexander is ready." It's not even 10.  My son can't talk because his mouth is filled with gauze, but otherwise, he looks the same as he did when he arrived an hour earlier. 

Shari takes Alexander home, and I go to work. I imagine he sleeps throughout the day. I feel bad that I can't be home with him. I try calling but with a mouth filled with cotton pads it's difficult for Alexander to speak. So I text.

So in answer to the question, "How's Alexander doing." He doing just fine. Thank you Dr. Salm.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

minetta tavern

Weeks ago M tells me she's coming to town for three days. 

I research activities for her visit. Going to Ellis Island is top on our list. But by the time she arrives, our plans have been reduced to one dinner.

Alexander and I see a late afternoon screening of Goodnight Mommy in midtown, a place I'd rather not be these days. While we both enjoy the movie, we need to confer with the people sitting around us to help figure out what the film was about. The general consensus is:  good but with plot holes; may be worth a second viewing. 

We take a subway (another place I'd rather not be) downtown, and get there before M, Sam and Josie arrive. We are having dinner at Minetta Tavern. The comfortable and everyman atmosphere is in direct contrast to the ease of getting a reservation. It takes M using her platinum Amex concierge service to secure a table for 8:30.

I get a couple of photos that M would rather take than be in.

We have cocktails and appetizers, and the famously wonderful Mintetta burger and fries.

And because there are two guys with huge appetites, we also order (and finish) two soufflés (one chocolate, one grand marnier).

We are home by eleven — probably five pounds heavier, but with no regrets.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

reasons to love amazon

It's a rare occasion; I need to iron a dress.

I plug it in my years-old Black and Decker. It lights up, ready to go. And then, nothing. I try another outlet and still, the iron plate remains cold.

"Hey, Alexander, last time you used the iron did it work?"

"No, it wouldn't heat up."

So he takes the obvious action; he puts it away for someone else to deal with —that someone else being me.

I do a thorough search and analysis and settle on the very-well reviewed  Rowena DW8080.

I have Amazon Prime and expect the package in two days. Today I realize it's been about four days since placing the order, and Amazon is never late.  

I track the package and see:

Front porch?  Hmmm. Maybe someone airdropped it onto my makeshift terrace? 

And 10022 zip code?  That was changed to 10075 over eight years ago.  

I talk to the doorman who was on duty at noon on Sunday.   He checks the book. "Nope. No deliveries from the postal service that day at all.  Just one for 14A, and that was from FedEx." 

I call the 800 number for USPS and after twenty minutes of going in circles, being put on hold, and then being disconnected, I call Amazon. Lovely Ashly helps me.

In under five minutes, with my asking for nothing, Ashley:

  • apologizes
  • adds one month to my Prime account
  • re-orders the item for me
  • tells me I should receive it today, or tomorrow at the latest.

How can you not love a company like that?


Last week I buy a Sisley lipstick described as sheer fusia. It arrives and is not sheer anything. I go through the third-party seller process and they refuse to take it back because 

 "We do not accept used and opened return products. I may offer you a 10% partial refund."

I call Amazon and they tell me to keep the lipstick, and they'll give me a credit of the value of the lipstick, good toward any product sold by Amazon.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

utterly exhausted

I'm done with video watching and today I begin phase two — shadowing a sales associate on the fifth floor of Saks.

I leave my house at noon, and arrive home at 9.  In between, I:

Follow around Jeff, who is the best person to be around. He's helpful, informative, and knowledgeable.

Stand for about 7 hours, which is horribly difficult despite boots that start out being comfortable but end up being not.

Learn more than I can remember. 

This is not an easy job, nor does it seem to be a lucrative one.  Retail is not doing well. In fact, two days ago the NYT ran a story, headlined as:

Saks Is Shaking Off Retail Gloom With a Fifth Avenue Face-Lift

But I do earn some money. Let's see. After I deduct my cafeteria soup and bottled water and the subway there and back, I earn $55 before taxes. 

I get home. Fall onto my bed. And just lie there for thirty minutes, too tired to move.