4.30.2016

Susan has been concerned with her stupid memory lately, it's not uncommon to lose her train of thought, forget that she just pulled a can of black beans off the shelf two seconds earlier, not recognize new people the second time she sees them, and misplace common vocabulary words. Luckily she can still rewind a bit to pick up where she left off, eventually remember new people and sometimes even figure out which word she was fishing for.

Susan conducted some casual research and took this test from the Alzheimer's Association website to determine if her symptoms were normal, and she's happy to report that they are.

Thus far.

If the day comes when she forgets what to do with her knife and fork, then she's got a problem larger than being unable to cut a big piece of food into smaller pieces.

Susan mentioned this to her daughter, who offered the suggestion that it's probably no coincidence that her memory problems ramped up after... not saying the words 'after daddy died' just saying 'after....' and allowing the silence to finish her thought.

Susan had previously come to that conclusion on her own but she still enjoys getting paranoid about everything.

Moments later, Susan picked up her phone from the kitchen counter when she inadvertently hit the New York Times app and this front page article came up on her screen:

Fraying At The Seams

Like all New York Times articles it went on forever, but she kept reading, and thought that she would save it to encourage her when she gets Alzheimer's. As she read, she thought about a promise the husband repeated throughout their marriage 'I'll stay with you till you don't remember me.' usually followed by a kiss or a grab or just a smile. To her, it meant just the opposite, and was a playful affirmation of his commitment.

She imagined the husband's happy voice and saw his lovely face in her memory, then began to cry. It was a good cry with flowing streaks of tears and a low rumble of sustained misery. If the kids weren't in the house she would have opted to howl, but that was not a direction she could take right then. Plus, she had things to do and needed to get moving.

The crying continued for like an hour; down the hall, in her room, on the toilet and then in the shower. After she finally knocked it off she looked like sh*t, an appearance always tries to avoid. Susan did her best to arrange the way she looked & headed out the door to enjoy her weekend.

4.22.2016

Susan had dinner with her work pals, here's a sampling of what was discussed:

  • How delicious the ceviche was
  • Construction of a jailhouse tampon (strictly for emergencies)
  • How an airport alarm was set off by the infrastructure of a brassiere 
  • Can red and white wine be consumed in one sitting without ill effect
  • Children, including but not limited to feeding them, carpooling them & the wildcard aspect of soft-footed ones during parental alone time
  • Scallops and beet puree, a story of friendship
  • The effective use of vegetable oil for post menopausal dryness 
  • A happily anticipated work trip to Fire Island
  • Jolly Ranchers as a marital aid
  • Celebrity infatuations (Susan chose Benicio Del Toro)
  • And finally, who was going to drive who home

4.11.2016

She knows that this is a recurring topic but most every day Susan sees a word that she hates. They're always on social media which is her own fault for exposing her delicate self to the written expressions of ordinary folk who can't spell, punctuate, or sound smart, but let's not allow this to impede her from enumerating the words that make her blood boil.

Her top five will always be;

  • BLESSED: Don't confuse receiving a Pandora bracelet with being blessed unless you're the Virgin Mary 
  • MAGICAL: Very few things are actually magical. In fact, nothing is.
  • WANDERLUST: Why would a reputable person even want to be associated with this word?
  • JOURNEY: Ugh, enough with the journey of every little thing
  • AMAZING: Susan guarantees not to be amazed

Now, let's talk about ants.
Susan's house hosts ants every spring, always in her kitchen and often in her bathroom. They're nothing special, just standard small black ants for which she mixes together a diabolical smoothie of honey & Borax. It requires a few days to take effect so she passes the time by encouraging them to have their fill and keeping absolutely nothing impregnable out in the open.
Sometimes Susan will set her Rebecca Minkoff acid yellow structured mini tote down on the kitchen counter only to find an ant crawling across its surface the following day while she's at work. Sometimes she even transports an ant on her person to a second location.
If you are squeamish about getting ant cooties from Susan's house, don't come over.

Third and last topic.
You guys all know that if you click on any word(s) that are a different color you'll go on an amazing magical journey to another website, right? Did you click on Rebecca Minkoff above? Did you click on  How Doctors Die two Twistedsusans ago? If not, get crackin' and keep your eyes peeled in the future.

4.05.2016

Driving to work, Susan saw someone who resembled her husband. The closer she got the less he looked like her husband but it was too late, the seed was planted. She let go of all mental controls and allowed herself to remember, if only for an instant, what it was like to see the husband walking the earth again. She let her brain carry her back to that simple, ordinary, wonderful impossibility.

Susan is aware in her every conscious moment that the husband is gone. Even when she's engaged in things that have her total attention, she's aware. Even when she's reading or laughing or cursing a four minute traffic light with no turn arrow, she's aware.

The husband has been absent from her life for 488 days. That doesn't even seem so long, right? How about a year, four months and three days? Seventy weeks?
She accepts her current state without complaint although sometimes she likes to remind people Hey, I have a dead husband over here. She almost always regrets doing so, but it's a testament that she can't always keep everything held together.

There's a freedom to having a dead husband, Susan can do what she wants with only her children to consider, and they don't require much onsite interaction any more. She is available to accept any invitation offered no matter how drop of the hat it may be. She also observes the freedom to stay in all weekend, not answer the phone and not shower.

There's nothing worse than an old whiny bore, so Susan's gonna stop right here lest she turns into one. Check back tomorrow and she'll report on how the ants are back in her kitchen.

3.10.2016

Susan went to the dermatologist for a full body scan. She's a prime candidate for skin cancer, already bearing a few scars, and was overdue for her check up.

How does a person who just lost her husband to melanoma let herself be overdue for a scan?
Don't expect an answer, that was a rhetorical question.

She sat in the exam room, stripped down to her drawers and covered by a paper gown. Susan let her mind travel back to a similar room in which she sat with her husband sixteen months ago. She tormented herself with that recollection until she was ready to cry then decided to knock it off. Instead she eyeballed the unshaven condition of her legs and completely bare toe nails. She was groomed like a pioneer lady.

The doctor arrived and immediately engaged Susan in conversation, he had a nice manner and what color are his eyes?
He started with her scalp then employed a shotglass sized scanner with a very bright light to go over every square inch of her face. The doctor chatted with Susan as he worked, investigating each freckle and dark little corner of her middle aged body with his bright light and gentle manner. They shared stories of their recent losses to cancer; Susan's husband within two months, and the doctor's father in law over a year and a half including a very painful end.
The doctor told Susan about an essay he read entitled How Doctors Die, which are not in hospitals, but at home without unnecessary treatment.

Susan's doctor told her that she was in fine shape, no suspicious moles or marks, and sent her on her way with instructions to wear a broad spectrum 30 sunscreen and enjoy the nice weather.

Susan thought about their conversation the rest of the day. She *GTS-ed the short essay & after reading it realized she would have to start forming her brave attitude now about choosing quality of life at her end. It kind of made her feel relieved.

*GTS = Google That Sh*t.

2.28.2016

Susan went in to NYC with her little sister and:

  • Became smitten with a well dressed sexy black god called Marco Glorious
  • Rode five stops on the subway
  • Ate in a Cuban restaurant no bigger than a hallway
  • Got drunk and hugged a wee Smart car
  • Saw Aladdin Sane on Mott & Kenmare
  • Briefly considered purchasing an overpriced vintage Marni bag
  • Sobered up in Little Italy 
  • Paid the parking attendant and went home


2.27.2016

Fact: Susan thinks coincidental things are actually related things conspiring to look arbitrary.

Fact: Cousin Lisa liked ginger candies.

For years whenever Susan ran across a bag of ginger candies she would purchase them for her Cousin Lisa. Susan always considered them to be foul little suckers, but in recent years she's developed a taste for them. The ones she prefers are different from those she would purchase for Cousin Lisa, but that's really neither here nor there, ginger candies taste like ginger.

Cousin Lisa also liked candied ginger, which is actual ginger that has been dried and coated in sugar. Susan had a candied ginger connection in her neighborhood & would periodically bring a bag of it to her cousin. That stopped the day Cousin Lisa graciously accepted a new bag and placed it in her kitchen drawer alongside two previous bags.

Anyway, the anniversary of the day Susan had to give up her beloved Cousin Lisa arrived and steamrolled right over our tender heroine. She sobbed for hours the evening before and when she awoke it appeared as though she was punched in both eyes. She took a hot shower, donned a new dress in homage to her eternally stylish cousin and headed off to work.

When Susan arrived she found something on her desk.

The husband of her office-mate had purchased this for himself, discovered it was not to his liking* but thinking it may appeal to Susan sent it in as a hand-me-down gift;

A bag of ginger candies.


*Gross was the description

2.26.2016


who foresaw that I
would prove my strength by living
this year without you

I fill the absence
with a thousand reflections,
each a universe

red bird on a branch -
I remember that morning
and our happy chat

in similar moments
maybe I'll choose to see you
blowing me a kiss



1.28.2016

A Small Example Of What It's Like To Have Susan As A Friend


Susan sent a text to her long standing pal shortly after the death of his father:

There is a grammatical error in your father's obituary, to whom may I complain?

Susan's pal responded with the contact information of the responsible party and asked her to relay what she had discovered.

Of course! I love any opportunity to educate.

Susan communicated with the responsible party and by the time she checked back it was fixed.

1.19.2016

Susan fell down.

Susan and her friend Anna met after work for fancy cocktails and dinner. She knows what you're thinking already; falling down and cocktails in the span of thirteen words?

Yeah, OK.

The girls spent two hours happy to be in eachother's company, during which time Susan had two cocktails (vodka house-infused with pineapples, freshly muddled mango, lemon juice and a thin slice of jalapeno), a bowl of spicy lobster bisque, and seared tuna over rice with avocado and fruit salsa.

At the end of the evening Susan went to visit the ladies room, and within the first few steps she felt her heel slip in a direction she was not headed, but she caught herself, recovered and said under her breath let's not fall down. Five or six steps later she felt the same heel slip and this time she just kept going until she was on the floor.

Whenever Susan has fallen, which averages once every four or five years, it's always in slow motion, and as she's always surprised how far she has to go to hit bottom. Like she's taking an hour to tumble down a mountainside. On this occasion she watched a family eating dinner watch her, then stare until she resurfaced and gave them the double thumbs up.

She checked her heel for foreign matter and resumed her navigation to the restroom where she surveyed her knees for damage, then went on to buy a pair of gloves in Macy's without further incident.

1.10.2016

Even though Susan just concluded the entirety of 2015 in the grip of double barrel grieving she's not going to say she had a bad year. What she had was a special year in which she was given the best from all the best people around her. Many were lifers, some were far away or brand new, but her legions of supporters all contributed significantly to Susan's successful first year.

She was afraid to let it go because she knew it would take her farther away from the husband. She felt comfort for those 365 days being able to think on this day last year we were happy...However, it was ultimately nothing she could hang her hat on. When that personal day of infamy came it was OK, fun even, filled with his meatballs & sauce and people to help eat them.

Susan will admit that she's been a real prizewinning m*therf*cking heavyweight champ about everything. Her mental fortitude keeps her moving forward, but her people keep her happy. A component of this has been a new job, one which she didn't even have to look for, she just had to say thank you then unwrap it.

In the interest of full disclosure, not everything has been all top form behavior during her year of grief. One particularly immature habit has been Unnecessary Procrastination Resulting In Unnecessary Consequences.

Self explanatory.

She gets exhausted quite easily so there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of cooking and cleaning being done around the house. Plus she's more forgetful than normal, wasting time searching for cans of corn, her phone or the last thing she set down on her desk.

However, there are perks to Susan's enforced single status, such as double the closet space & the ability to make plans on a whim. If she feels like spending the entire weekend in bed watching Netflix, she happily does so. Who wouldn't love all that, right?

However, there are no perks whatsoever to losing her beloved Cousin Lisa. No perks at all.

Susan feels as though the husband lobs messages to her from wherever he is, most notably this one, but there have been others, one causing her to say hello out loud to him in the middle of her work day.  She likes that.

This past week Susan told her kids about a feeling she had, kind of like she was being nudged from beyond. It was nothing more than taking notice of two related things she overheard. The mere fact that she paid attention to it made her think it might be something more.

Stay tuned.

12.25.2015

For Christmas Susan got to wake up and drink a French pressed cup of coffee without having to pay a premium price with a 20% tip. She also got to play with a bubbly three year old, laugh with Wild Bill, learn how to make cider sangria and cream cheese sausage balls (oh yeah!) and just enjoy a great, low key day messing around with her family while Elf played in the background.
Susan hopes all your Christmas dreams came true too!

12.24.2015

Day Five: Getting Out of New Orleans

More rain, oy.

Susan & her kids had a nice easy 12:11pm flight to Atlanta then a connection to North Carolina. From there they would visit family; first to Wild Bill's daughter's house for Christmas then on to the husband's eldest daughter's house.

Susan fretted about not being able to squish all her stuff back into her luggage, dropped her postcards into the gold mailbox in the lobby & took one last look around her fancy temporary home before climbing into a taxi for the $45 trip to the airport, 11 miles away. Susan liked the lady cab driver working on Christmas Eve with bronchitis who had taken care of her mother until she died two years ago & as a result became certified as a Home Health Aid but is still grieving & not able to resume that kind of work so she drives a cab, and gave her a $10 tip.

Susan knows more about her but how much do you want to hear?
Alright, she'll tell you.

The lady cab driver moved from Kentucky 15 months ago, has a laid off husband & three kids between ten and six and wants to move again because the climate is bad for her health but they're going to wait till they're back on their feet, and she still has to do her Christmas shopping.

There's more, but you get the gist.

Susan knew before she left the hotel that her connecting flight was delayed, but she wasn't concerned. Susan is always surprised by what doesn't bother her because it's unpredictable. The other day she was beside herself worrying about getting her boarding passes while away, which is a situation with many practical options. A delayed connecting flight would normally be the stuff of anxiety for Susan, but today it was like, eh.

At the airport Susan was selected for a random chemical screening and removed from the line so that both her hands could be rubbed with a pad secured to the end of a wand. Thirty seconds. After that she discovered that not only were both their flights delayed, but so was everything up to New York. The pilot for her Louisiana to Atlanta flight was on hand to answer questions in his southern drawl, beautiful pilot's outfit and commanding presence. He was very reassuring.

Surprise Panic: The flight to Atlanta was boarding but there was still an entire airplane's worth of people ahead of them when Susan's son opted to visit the restroom. After ten minutes Susan asked the daughter to text her brother, no response. Five minutes later Susan called him, then called again every minute thereafter as her heart raced imagining someone stealing her 225 pound boy. This was a primal fear based deep in her heart which made no sense as the mother of a grown recreational wrestler, but she didn't care. Ninety nine percent of her was positive that evil had befallen him, but she clung to that teeny one percent that he was just taking a long poop on the potty. When he finally came strolling out of the men's room Susan hugged him.

Fast forward through 2 quick flights which left Susan five hours behind schedule. When she arrived at the rental car counter the representative pointed out that her reservation was for the 20th, not the 24th. Susan explained that's when she began her trip, but not when she intended to pick up the car. He said that the price on the reservation expired 24 hours after the date of pick-up and the current price is now 30% higher because the longer one waits to rent a car the more the price goes up.

Enter Susan at 9pm on Christmas Eve looking for a car.

When the smoke cleared, Susan paid the stupidity tax and drove off into the fragrant North Carolina night toward her niece's house.

Stupidity Tax = mistake related expenses.

12.23.2015

Day Four: New Orleans

Day four began much better than day three when everyone got out the door to eat their breakfast at a reasonable time, plus the sun was out and it was warm & breezy. Susan left New York needing a winter jacket, now she was walking around in a shirt & pants, not even a sweater or plastic rain bag.

The spot Susan chose for breakfast was the closest thing they had to a fave place because it's the second time they were there. The first time was for beignets and the waitress said 'that's all you want?' This time Susan didn't care, it was festive, all the windows opened to the street and they had a breakfast menu. Breakfast is Susan's happiest meal, it's full of promise and will also be the least amount of money that she'll spend all day. From her seat Susan could hear the bells ringing from St. Louis Cathedral and the train near the French Market. She grew up a half mile from train tracks and always loves to hear a train.

There was a photo exhibition a few blocks away that Susan wanted to see. You can click on the link and read about The Katrina Decade, Images of An Altered City but Susan can also show you a few pictures right now:
 
 
Immediately after the exhibit Susan cut her son loose while she & her daughter went to a used bookstore where Susan did her best to discourage the purchase of heavy lumpy books she would have to lug home in her carry on.

Susan's most magical time of the day came later when both of her teenagers were down for their daily nap, one in which she would normally have joined them, except on this last day she opted to go out for some solitary time and a cocktail. She had her eye set on the Carousel Lounge in the lobby but it was always filled & noisy, so she hit the street and ended up in a little quiet place where she sat at the bar & wrote out postcards while she drank her beloved French 75 and ate crab cakes.
Here's a Christmas parade passing by:
video
Eventually her kids broke the spell when they tracked her down & requested dinner. Their last meal would be opposite the French Market where a giant pot of crawfish boiled away for all to smell as they walked by. Susan and her kids had never pulled apart crawfish before & asked the server for a quick tutorial. That sh*t was lip burnin' spicy! Susan picked through all the carcasses and sucked them dry, chewing on the shells if she had to. She shared her grilled oysters with garlic aioli, although she really didn't want to.

On the way back to their fancy temporary home they stopped one final time for beignets and Cafe au Lait although there was no room in their stomachs for either.

The End.

12.22.2015

Day Three: New Orleans

Susan hasn't eaten a vegetable since she left home.
Instead she has eaten beignets, kumquats, jambalaya, oysters, crawfish etouffee, Andouille sausage gumbo, fried alligator, blackened redfish and drank chicory Cafe au Lait. Susan would be drinking French 75 exclusively if her children weren't around to cramp her style.

Please allow Susan to elaborate on the French 75, she was introduced to it on their first morning in town, it's made with champagne, either gin or brandy (Susan prefers gin), lemon, & simple syrup with a zested lemon peel garnish. Tre fabu! She's going to be serving these to herself on New Year's Eve.

Day Three had no schedule, the only plan was to get up when they felt like it, go to the French market, eat, and poke around. Unfortunately, when one wakes up late one also eats breakfast late, and as a result Susan had a teeny little meltdown. She's sure hardly anyone even noticed. Eventually the triumvirate of family members barely speaking to each other found an all day breakfast joint and everything wrong in the world was righted. At least till Susan got hungry again.

The day was rainy, but it was also a pleasant temperature, Susan re-stocked her supply of $2.99 plastic rain gear, although she would wear hers only if absolutely necessary. They stopped for a snack (that's Susan's code word for beignets) and sat in a breezy open restaurant a block down from the hotel. Phones immediately come out at mealtimes which Susan has been allowing because she understands that 24 hour togetherness breeds contempt and her children need a break from her.

Purchasing every meal for three people is starting to take its toll on our poor heroine. Periodically Susan's son picks up the tip, which she appreciates, but it's not a discount on which she can rely. The other aspect is that she hasn't really fallen in love with any one dish or restaurant, except Cafe Beignet, and that's only because it's a minute's walk, and well, beignets. Generally speaking, she loves gumbo, jambalaya and spicy sausage, but nothing yet has haunted her dreams except for the kumquats and French 75.

Susan has also been depleting her finances by dropping some of it into the hats of local independent musical entrepreneurs. She never gets tired of hearing music in the Quarter but her impatient children do not share this view and are constantly pushing her along.

Here's a picture she took on Day Three:
The End.

12.21.2015

Day Two: New Orleans

The homeless don't just sleep on the street, they snore.

Susan and her children had a morning date at Reverend Zombie's House of Voodoo to meet up for a walking tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. However, they opted to leave their hotel late then chose a very leisurely paced establishment in which to order their breakfast dooming them to reschedule till the afternoon.

Magic 8 ball: By the afternoon it would be pouring.

They put their morning to good use inside a vintage store which had the added benefit of assisting Susan's daughter to overcome her terrible mood, one which was really starting to bug Susan. It was also an opportunity to scope out new breakfast spots, specifically ones which would not cost $60 after tip and without liquor.

At noon it was drizzling, by the time they got to Reverend Zombie's it was raining. 

Susan saw a line of tourists wearing disposable slickers and inquired where she might get some for herself. They pointed two doors down and within minutes she & her children were outfitted in glorified plastic bags at $2.99 each.

The rain was unrelenting, coming down harder as the tour progressed. But underneath Susan's plastic bag she was comfortable and dry. Tour guide Jill told everyone about the town's history, religious influences, burial practices over the ages and specific residents of the oldest City of the Dead. 


 
Eventually, everything outside the protection of Susan's garbage bag got soaked, her shoes squeaked as she walked along, but she didn't care. It was fun to be in the rain, even her kids didn't complain. After the tour concluded she stopped for cafe au lait and beignets then a long nap.

The end.

12.20.2015

Day One: New Orleans

Susan is spending a few days in New Orleans with her kids.

Her pre-getting-on-an-airplane-anxiety hit critical mass the day she had to pack, complete a few errands & get to her destination on time. The actual flying through the air was uneventful. She shared inflight coping strategies with her nervous armrest infiltrating seatmate who rewarded Susan with her brand new Food Network magazine.

During the ride to the hotel Susan saw palm trees everywhere! She never considered that she may encounter palm trees and it was a nice surprise. She also passed exotic cemeteries filled with above ground crypts, Susan's a sucker for architecture in any form & got woozy with anticipation of getting an up close crack at them. As for architecture, her French Quarter hotel is a real looker all tarted up for Christmas, even the beautiful wood paneling cleverly distracted her from panicking in the claustrophobically sized elevator.
In the interest of expediency and because Susan is tired, here's a partial list of things she saw on her first day in New Orleans:

  • A noon seizure
  • Gas lights everywhere
  • A preponderance of people encouraging Susan and her children to drink alcohol
  • Helicopters
  • Tarot card & palm readers set up in the street
  • Music!
  • Raspy voiced black men
  • Folks walking around with portable cocktails
  • Fancily attired ladies and gentleman, different than New York fancy
By 8pm the neighborhood was insane with drunks, homeless, normal people, little kids, loud music and police sirens moving everybody along. Neither Susan nor her children objected to retiring early.

The end.

11.30.2015

Susan has dragged herself across the finish line to Day 30.

She hopes that everyone appreciates how difficult it was to stretch what was maybe five days' worth of material into thirty. What a testament to her awesome blogging talents!

December First and Second are Susan's ground zero. She's got a plan to get through each day and they both start with getting up & going to work. Her Acme Heaven Sent family is pretty good at caring about Susan and who wouldn't want to get a little bit of that on a difficult day? Or two.

Don't worry if Susan observes a few days of radio silence, she'll be fine, and you can believe her when she tells you that.

11.29.2015

Susan has never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's so imagine her surprise when she sat down to watch this beloved classic and discovered it to be a horrible waste of her time. 
Seriously. 
Holly Golightly is intolerable and everyone else is insipid.
What an awful movie.

11.28.2015

On Day 28 Susan pinched this from the awesome Nick Holmes.

11.27.2015

Susan cried into Cousin Lisa's stuffing on Thanksgiving.
It wasn't just Lisa's recipe recreated for Thanksgiving, it was actual stuffing made by her own formerly alive hands.
At first Susan didn't understand, she just thought it was stuffing. But when Cousin Danielle hipped Susan to the deal, she felt stunned.
Stunned by Sausage Stuffing!
Susan filled her Thanksgiving plate with food and nestled Cousin Lisa's stuffing next to her daughter Danielle's orzo with spinach. Susan took a seat on the staircase and ate her food. She didn't intend to cry, but she's not in control of these things and began almost immediately, until tears were rolling down her cheeks. Eventually she was found out, knocked off the crying and resumed the enjoyment of her Thanksgiving.

11.26.2015

Happy Thanksgiving, Guys!

'I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it and, more important, because I like to give it.'
-Julia Child

11.25.2015

Susan is determined to use up that bottle of maple whiskey so that she never has to encounter it again. She dumped two cups of it into apple cider then threw in star anise, ginger and cinnamon. Stay tuned to find out what her fellow Thanksgiving revelers will have to say about it.
Disclaimer: This is not Susan's photo, she pinched it from here.

11.24.2015

Susan's elderly car is making a funny noise. Sort of like a whistle, if that whistle was screaming while it wheezed.
Screams and wheezes don't even go together, but that's what it sounds like.

Nothing bad can happen to this car.

You may recall that Susan & the husband shared one car for almost two years. This translated to Susan being driven to work & then picked up from work EVERY DAY for TWO YEARS.

It took her more than six months just to pound into the husband's thick skull that she required silence during her morning commute; there was to be no commentary or stories about the old neighborhood or business conversations on the phone, in which he engaged unceasingly anyway.

Even now that he's gone, Susan never thinks Oh, if only I could have one of those miserable drives to work with him again...

Anyway, after a pretty lengthy search Susan saw an ad for her elderly car and dispatched the husband to check it out in person. On a bitter snowy day two years ago they brought it home and Susan regained her independence. This car was the result of her blood and pain. Well, not really, but it was made possible by a combined effort, and she still feels linked to the husband through it.

Nothing bad can happen to this car.

11.23.2015

Susan is out of ideas for her enforced daily BLAHg post.
Forgive her.
Day 23 is bogus.

11.22.2015

Bathtub Drain, Two Ways

I:
Susan asked her son to remove some hair that had collected in the grate covering the drain in the bathtub then watched in horror as he took the hair, threw it into the toilet and flushed it away.
II:
At the very end of Susan's shower she noticed she was standing in a half inch of water. She took her foot and played with the lever. Nothing happened. 
She got out and plunged until she was sweaty and wracked with old age pains. Nothing happened.
She asked her son to plunge. Nothing.
She went out with her little sister and returned with Drano & a snake which her son took and went to investigate. A few minutes later he emerged and asked if Susan had been messing with the lever. 
Uh-oh.
She may never learn why the tub was a little slow to drain but apparently she sealed the drain opening shut when she flipped the lever the wrong way.

11.21.2015

Susan spent a crisp Saturday on a walking tour of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery with her little sister and two nieces.

Susan's a sucker for a good cemetery and this one's on the National Register of Historic Places, plus it's right in Headless Horseman territory. It's got a lot of famous and infamous residents, folks like Leona & Harry Helmsley, Washington Irving, William Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, William Chrysler, Brooke & Vincent Astor, as well as the dude who wrote Yes Virginia There Is A Santa Claus.

After the two hour walk Susan needed a cocktail, then a nap.

Susan's fave, the final resting place of The Queen of Mean
A peek inside, nice right?

11.20.2015

Susan is too disinterested to BLAHg.

She has buyer's remorse after spending $43 on a bottle of maple whiskey. She wouldn't have minded the expense if she liked maple whiskey, but she had to spend that amount to discover that she didn't.

Hope y'all liked Day 20.

11.19.2015

Susan is roasting asparagus for Acme Heaven Sent's Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow. She roasted them in batches, making the first over-done and limp then each subsequent batch a little less so.
She envisions treating her coworkers to asparagus gruel after an hour of sitting over a sterno.
Susan also made the apple cider punch undrinkable with a heavy handed addition of cayenne. But, not to worry because she managed to pour half of it all over her kitchen counter.


11.18.2015

Susan promised everyone a normal topic for Day 18 and here it is; Eggplant Pizzas!
This is the sort of thing that Susan would never think up on her own because she's got an inside-the-box brain. Her aubergine averse kids might even eat these although nowadays Susan doesn't care if they eat what she makes.

There you have it, all Susan's years of maternal effort have brought her to this point; she doesn't care.

11.17.2015

That wasn't Susan's husband yesterday, she's got more than one dead guy making her sad. That was Jeff, her daughter's former figure drawing teacher, although this description of the relationship is very inadequate. Suffice it to say that Jeff was important to Susan's family and also had the distinction of having the best, most entertaining wake.

Seriously.

Susan's husband died two weeks after Jeff, so she still has that jubilee looming on the horizon, but first she'll have to endure Cousin Lisa's birthday, the day before. Susan made it through 54 years intact, there were losses, but they belonged to other folks. This double whammy is hers.

Anway, Susan's gonna give you all a break tomorrow & BLAHg about normal stuff.

11.16.2015

Susan is sad today.
She'll be better tomorrow.

11.15.2015

Susan cleaned three rooms of her house for company Saturday night; the bathroom, livingroom & kitchen. Oh, and she made her bed. The dining room was kept dark to conceal that she prefers to keep her table piled high with household debris.
Susan had some pears which she wanted to incorporate into a cocktail. Last year her friend Anna served her a lovely concoction of pear puree, pear vodka & lemon juice. Susan pureed the pears & added vodka. She didn't have any citrus, so Italian grapefruit soda was a surprisingly tart substitute topped by seltzer and lots of ice.
Presto! Susan is a genius.
Susan's company arrived, they threw a Duraflame log in the fireplace and had a terrific three hour chat.

11.14.2015

A symptom of Susan's grief is revealing itself to be anxiety.
She's afraid to do time sensitive things, so she procrastinates until they cause a problem.
She's afraid to open her e-mail even though there's nothing scary in there.
She's afraid to mail her amended tax form even though she's due some money.

Susan and anxiety go way back to when she was little. Then during both her pregnancies she had panic attacks, those things were mind blowing. A dead husband's got nothing on panic attacks.
Nothing.

The panic attacks were special, they came in the sunshine of her happy life, taught her some stuff and haven't been back since. They also changed Susan's relationship with anxiety; it's cautiously cooperative, she gets ready when she knows it's coming, and it always comes to tell her something.

Susan sees the pattern in the things she's afraid of lately.

11.13.2015

Susan had two extreme soup experiences today.

At lunchtime she ordered seafood soup from the local Chinese food place. There was no description on the take-out menu, just seafood soup offered in a quart size for $6.99. Susan envisioned a steamy broth with shrimp and scallions, maybe some vegetables.

What it arrived it more closely resembled a container of goopy lobster sauce with pink imitation crabmeat sliced into rings. The sight of it disgusted Susan. She reluctantly ladled a small amount into a bowl, tasted it then chucked the whole jizzy mess into the trash.

She just tipped a dude to deliver food that she took from him and threw out.

When Susan got home she was hungry from having no lunch and immediately took her daughter out to eat. They entire dinner was most unremarkable except for the spicy miso seafood soup; a heavenly bowl of smoky broth that made Susan woozy and silly.

This notwithstanding, Susan spent money all day long on meals she didn't care for, she's got to start cooking again.

11.12.2015

Susan has been watching BBC and has learned a lick of slang:
Bob's your uncle = added at the end of a sentence, such as after some instructions, to mean there you have it, or that's it!
Bollocks = no good
Bugger all = you have nothing
A do = a party
Duffer = a useless person
Knob = penis
Owt = anything
Pillock = stupid person
Shite = shit
Summat = something
Tosser = jerk

11.11.2015

Susan agrees that she cheated everyone out of a legit BLAHg post yesterday, however this is no reflection on the cartooning charms of Roz Chast. Susan recently read Roz's graphic novel about running back & forth to take care of her extremely elderly parents Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant and found it entertainingly horrifying.
 
Susan's own laziness, fatigue and lack of imagination gave a whiff of illegitimacy to Day 10 and now hopes no one notices that Day 11 only has three sentences.

11.10.2015

Susan has left herself mere minutes to complete her obligatory BLAHg post before the clock strikes midnight.

Once again a cartoon, this one by Roz Chast:

11.09.2015

While loading groceries into the fridge Susan found a forgotten head of cauliflower way in the back. Susan doesn't have one of those big fridges where everything is up at eye level, she's got the old-school-white-freezer-up-top-type requiring her to bend way down to see what's in there.
Anyway, as she retrieved the cauliflower & backed out of the fridge she banged the top of her head on the bottom of the freezer and went insane.
Insane.
She immediately began beating the Dickens out of the fridge with the cauliflower while cursing
f*ck you m*therf*cking c*ck s*cking f*cker! and spitting all over everything, even herself.
The half dead cauliflower was no match for one crazy assh*le & a fridge so it quickly disintegrated all over the floor where she just left it.
Strangely, Susan was actually mad at the cauliflower but not the fridge.

11.08.2015

Here's a New Yorker cartoon in lieu of a BLAHg post:
Disclaimer:
Susan does not care for The New Yorker beyond their cartoons, so don't go thinking she's all highbrow and everything.

11.07.2015

Susan got up, made herself a cup of coffee and started her Saturday morning cleaning during which she removed the garbage can from underneath the sink and left it out to be emptied when she got around to it.

The garbage cans in her house are always filled to capacity because neither of her children will dump them unless they are asked to, or unless Susan does it herself. They will comply, often making her wait until after they complete whatever they claim to be doing so that they don't have to jump up and do it right then. She has been known to ask them three or four more times with lessening degrees of patience.

Kids. Whaddya gonna do (about them).
Ed. note: To be read rhetorically.

Susan went on to do something else, possibly to crawl back into bed and watch an episode of Last Tango In Halifax, and left the garbage can in the middle of the kitchen floor with trash bag filled with garbage still inside.

Later when Susan emerged to continue her June-Cleaver-ing she noticed there was something a little off in the kitchen. Everything looked fine, but she felt something was different.

The garbage!
It had been dumped, a new bag put in, and then returned to its place under the sink. One of her children had done this without being asked, which is something that has NEVER happened in the eleven years they have lived in the house.

Susan never imagined this would turn out to be such an auspicious day.

11.06.2015

Susan was invited to her pal Sharon's house for homemade broccoli cheese soup in bread bowls which Susan regards as the perfect coupling of two marvelous things to eat.

After dinner Susan made Hasselback baked apples, also very well received and a total cinch.

Day six is in the books.

11.05.2015

November 5th is the day last year that changed Susan's life.

It's the day she sat with the husband in Sloane Kettering for seven hours drinking coffee from their fancy machine that grinds the beans for each cup & reading their brand new magazines.

It's the day that offered her no protection, the one she didn't see coming.

They would return a few times more, and each time the news would be worse, but by then Susan had an idea of what to expect. Last November 5th she was completely unprepared.

It's also the day that everything unimportant fell away leaving only love.

11.04.2015

Susan's never met a pasta salad that she really liked. It should be something that's easy to like; macaroni, chopped up stuff and sauce, but the proper combination has always been elusive.

Cousin Caroline hosted a little get together at her house a few weeks ago and when Susan saw the pasta salad she thought ho-hum but dumped some on a plate and ate it anyway.
Strangely, she liked it.
When Susan replicated it at home fifty percent of her kids liked it too. She can further report that leaving it in the fridge for almost a week had no ill effect on either the flavor or consistency.

For day four Susan is presenting COUSIN CAROLINE'S PESTO PASTA SALAD:

6 ounces jarred pesto + 1 cup mayo whisked together
pasta of your choosing
14 ounces drained & quartered artichoke hearts, in water or marinated, whatever
8 or 9 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, not frozen is also an option
sliced black olives
chicken, cubed or shredded

Dance this mess around then buon appetito.

11.03.2015

Day three of NaBloPoMo and Susan has zero material. This being established Susan is prepared to offer one sentence as her BLAHg post:

There is a tremendous amount of leftover Halloween candy at Acme Heaven Sent, like five plastic pumpkins full just lying around for everyone to eat as they walk by.
It's a problem.

NaBloPoMo, quality sacrificed for quantity.

11.02.2015

A few weeks back Susan had a delightful time with a mob of people all fifteen years her junior or worse. One of the highlights of that evening were the two cider cocktails she drank.

Of course two cocktails are a very unremarkable number, but for our elderly heroine they represented a continued time commitment, meaning she was gonna be hanging out with the kids a while.

Ultimately she joined them as they went from the first location to the second, then declined the third but appreciated the invitation.

The cocktail had been haunting her dreams ever since, it was liquor-y, tart & a little sweet from maple bourbon, pear vodka & apple cider.

On Sunday she paired some Maker's Mark with cider and maple syrup, the real stuff not Mrs. Butterworth's. The maple syrup added a smoky element which she liked, so she pushed the cocktail further into that direction with a pinch of smoked hot paprika. She squeezed half a lime for tartness, and because she puts lime juice into all her cocktails whether they need it or not.

Perfection!

It's earned a place in the little notebook of home cocktails Susan keeps. It just needs a name.

11.01.2015

Many of Susan's bloggy pals know that her awesome BLAHging talents extend all the way back to 2009. Probably no one realizes that every November she signs up for National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo) and commits to writing a post a day for 30 days. She likes to reward her modest fan base for their support by boring them every day with an insufficient effort just to maintain the criteria of a personal challenge.

Susan hasn't been posting as frequently as in previous years because she hit the jackpot when her husband got sick and died in two months then her best friend died three months later. Has she mentioned this already?

She's still got lots of people she loves and when you get down to it every one of them is her favorite although some are more favorite than others.
And some are less.

But for the record, Cousin Lisa was her supreme, tip-top Favorite of the Favorites. This distinction was so well known that Susan's husband and brother in law would poke fun whenever Susan and Cousin Lisa would get together;
'Oh, let's drop everything because Cousin Lisa is coming over!' they would say in a slightly snooty accent, emphasizing Cousin Lisa in a higher pitch. Sometimes they would reduce their commentary to just a high pitched Cousin Lisa!  
This always made Susan laugh.

Anyway, enough crying over the laptop for one day. In an effort to get back to blogging normalcy Susan is going to be writing a post a day for the month of November, which is also the month in which Susan's husband rapidly deteriorated. So, screw your courage to the sticking place because this may be a recurring topic. But, as Susan always sez, this is her BLAHg and she'll do what she wants.

NaBloPoMo day one, done.

10.31.2015

Susan effectively avoided small children in Halloween costumes all day, she's got nothing against them, she just wasn't in the mood. She's never in the mood to get up and answer the door all day long while the dog goes batsh*t.

She predicts she won't be in the mood for it next year either.

Susan put her Halloween to good use by getting her hair dyed back to its original color. She was so overdue for a cut & color she started to look like the dude from Rocky Horror.

This one:
Susan would also like to say goodbye to daylight savings time & hopes everyone enjoyed their theoretical extra hour of sleep.

10.25.2015

Earlier last week Susan, her two kids, little sister & brother in law attended a memorial put together by the hospice located on the grounds of the little caring hospital for all of the families whose loved ones had passed through that way.

Wow, that was a long sentence.

Anyway, Susan regularly receives their invitations to bereavement support services and events but this is the first time she has taken them up on anything. The memorial was to be held in the hospital's chapel and she was particularly attracted to the option of being able to share 'memories, a poem or a prayer' meaning she would have a captive audience and a microphone.

Susan thought she might like to read the poem her pal Mikel had sent her, one which helped in the early days, and something she still re-reads. There were one or two points within the poem that she didn't specifically agree with, like 'loving being a matter of eternity more than of time', but the rest of it was pretty on target. Susan's big with sharing things that help her ease the burdens of life, whether inspiring others to see the up-side of grief or to wage a deadly battle against ants in the kitchen with a DIY killer (Borax + honey).

The more she thought about it the more Susan realized that she preferred to use the opportunity to tell people about the husband. This was not going to be an improv situation, she would write everything down. She searched her little toy brain for a good story but came up empty. Her brain has not been particularly strong this last year, which she worries may be the coincidentally timed emergence of dementia, but she set aside that possibility and consulted her alter-memory, the archives of Twisted Susan. Very quickly she found this post then adapted it to her current need.

On the way there Susan was looking forward to being back where the husband was so well cared for, but the daughter was not happy as they walked past the hospice where her father died. She removed her mother's arm from around her shoulder and growled like a little broken hearted cub. Once inside she perked up when she saw her aunt & uncle.

Mercifully it was an Inter-Denominational Celebration of Life and not a Catholic service. The program began with a welcoming blessing & candle lighting then a musical interlude by the most adorable acapella chorus of white haired men ever to belt out a churchy song. After this was the celebration of life part where each person who requested to speak was called up to the altar.
The participants were all sad, a few cried, some went against Susan's personal code by winging it, best was the young girl who read a poem about her grandmother. After taking a long walk up the center aisle with all eyes upon her, she stared straight ahead and very clearly read her poem in front of what were probably 200 people, then took that same brave walk all the way back to her seat. She did a nice job.

Shortly thereafter Susan's name was called.

Sidebar: Susan's son, who was arriving separately, was still not there. (Insert angry mommy Grrrr sound). There will undoubtedly be a meeting with him on this topic later.

Susan and her prepared statement took their place at the front of the room. She looked briefly at the group, announced that she was nervous then in a slightly breaking voice said she's been without her husband for 323 days, that's 44 weeks, and would like to read them a list of things that she liked about him:

  • He was impressive with a yo-yo
  • Describing the birth of his son he said 'I never knew how exhausting it was to yell at someone for four hours'
  • He sang, poorly
  • He was very adept at winning arguments, but took it easy on Susan
  • He ran around in the yard with the kids and the dog
  • He could always be counted on to complete any disagreeable task
  • He told funny stories from his youth about drunkenness & neighborhood brawling
  • He apologized by saying 'I've decided to forgive you'
  • He didn't build himself up by making others feel small
  • If he didn't know something, he knew a guy who knew 
  • He said that being mad at Susan was like being mad at a puppy (got a big Awwww from the crowd)
  • He didn't worry about things he couldn't control
  • He did the Lindy at weddings & grabbed anyone in his path
  • Before he was married to Susan he raised two smart, independent, caring & wonderful girls that have always been terrific big sisters to their two kids
  • He would say 'It's better to seek forgiveness than permission'
  • 'Thanksgiving is not a low-fat holiday'
  • When arguing he'd say 'Don't cloud the issue with facts'
  • About making decisions; 'The situation is the boss'
  • Upon doing something for him he'd say 'Who's better than you?'
  • About money he said a few things; 'I can owe it to you or you can forget about it'                        Expenses related to mistakes were called the 'stupidity tax' and 'All financial crises only last for 48 hours'
  • 'Success is 90% showing up, 9% listening & 1% dumb luck'
  • 'Tough times don't last, tough people do'
  • Lastly, his favorite was always; 'Analyze, Adapt, Overcome'
The crowd had been chuckling all along but Susan was surprised as hell when everyone applauded, little sister said it wasn't even she who started it. 

The husband could still make people laugh.

Susan's son showed up during the Reading of Names; each loved one's name was read as their family members walked up front to hang a sparkly cardboard dove on a tree. Some folks had two entire rows of people in attendance, others only one or two or three. This is where Susan got a good look at how bereaved people were. Many were grim faced. She felt particularly sad for the older folks, grief had really roughed them up. 

Let's fast forward to the balance of the night highlights:
Susan's daughter hung their sparkly dove on the highest branch, the old man acapella chorus came back to cheer everyone up, Susan & her family went out for BLTs and milk shakes.

10.19.2015

Susan felt like a pathetic wretch of a widow today.

It started when she lost the annual competition she has with herself and turned on the heat. Shivering in her lonely bed all night weakened her resolve. She hit bottom five seconds into the new day and copped some warm thermometer action.

At work she was unfocused and tired, she kept her coat on most of the day, she forgot where she put things, she went downstairs to deliver an envelope then came back upstairs still holding it.

She's preoccupied by her son's collection of points on his recently established driver license & the impact on her insurance, by the letter he received about his college financial aid, and by his inclination to act like a nineteen year old jerk. The husband would have been a big help with the financial aid stuff because he was smart like that. Instead Susan is left to figure out how she's even old enough to have a nineteen year old jerk for a kid.

In the evening the seventeen year old daughter had a college fair to attend. She and Susan walked around not sure what to ask. Susan's brilliant solution was 'We're not sure what to ask, what can you tell us' and little by little they got the idea. It was nice to watch the daughter gain confidence with every conversation. Susan was happy about that but was still overwhelmingly sad because this situation was exactly what the husband was good at; talking to people, getting information and understanding the between the lines stuff.

The 45 minute financial aid workshop knocked Susan out, at the end Susan spoke to the instructor privately about her son's situation then couldn't wait to go home and cry.

She suspects that she may be over reacting so she's going to pull the plug on today, get a good night's sleep & hope that tomorrow will be better.

10.05.2015

Susan Has A Cold

Monday she had a funny feeling in her ears
Tuesday her eyeballs itched
Wednesday she started sneezing
Thursday her boss told her to go home
Friday she stayed in bed.
Saturday her head hurt down to her teeth
Sunday she lost two of her senses
Monday her boss sent her home again, so
she went to the doctor.

Susan has a cold.

10.02.2015

Ten Months

In the beginning Susan felt scared when she cried, she didn't know how deep the pit was. After a while she saw that she could withstand it, she could walk around in the middle of it and not be swallowed up.

Susan gets shanked by grief. It's always something simple, a song lyric, a line in a movie, a tiny unpredictable thing that triggers a very acute, stabbing memory. She never knows when it will happen. Everything could be going along great, then it flips, and the full understanding of her loss hits her in the heart.

The husband showed her that it was possible for someone to see her at her worst, at her most criminally insane and still love her. Year after year.

Susan doesn't shy away from the hurt, and yet she still doesn't think that she hurts enough.

9.20.2015

Effective immediately let's all make a solemn oath to each other and stop using these word pairings, ok?

  • comfort zone
  • spot on
  • good bones
  • old soul
  • bring it
  • forever home
  • soul mate
  • heart strings
  • bucket list

9.18.2015

Susan and the husband would have been married twenty one years today. Instead, Susan has been without him for 291 days.

Wasn't it just recently she was worried about having enough money to pay for the wedding? She remembers very clearly a conversation she had with him on this topic in which he assured her that they would. They picked a nice place and then did away everything extraneous after the food & a full bar. Susan's dress was hand made by her seamstress-landlady. She went to the local florist & said 'I'm getting married tomorrow, what can you do for a bouquet?'  Susan potted winter pansies for the centerpieces and chose an assortment of handmade chocolates as her favors. Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra & Etta James all sang through little sister's CD changer. Everyone invited showed up.

They were married for twenty years and 76 days.

Susan is going to commemorate her first solitary anniversary with a tattoo in the husband's handwriting. She's not a tattoo person & he had terrible handwriting, so it's a big deal for her. She's hoping she won't pass out in the chair or anything.

*Ed. Note: If you are interested in travelling back in time to read what Susan wrote about her formerly alive husband on their anniversary, just click on that little purple Anniversary.

9.13.2015

A year ago Susan would find the Sunday papers waiting for her on the dining room table, maybe with a bag of bagels sitting on top of them. The husband was always up & out early then come home with the papers; the highbrow NY Times & lowbrow Post. It was a simple detail of her life that made her happy.

She could never get far before the husband interrupted her with conversation. She'd put her finger on the last word she read, stare at him until he stopped talking, then go back to reading. Every Sunday for 20 years.

Susan's 21st anniversary is this week.

The husband's giant cutting board sits on a shelf in the kitchen. It got used every night. He'd grill a steak or pork chops or chicken, then slice and serve it from the cutting board. Every night.

What does she do without all the little things that used to be her life? Some get filled with other stuff but mostly an absence exists.  Thinking about it makes her cry, which uses up some time. She never stops her tears except for necessity or if it's like enough already.

The other day she found a collection of things she wrote to the husband long ago; poems, little notes, pictures she drew. She started reading but it was too much. She kept two and threw the rest out. They weren't for anyone else to see, just him.

Susan writes Twisted Susan for herself but invites all her bloggy pals to read along, she invites you all into her brain. That's a pretty intimate invitation.
100% guaranteed no bullsh*t.

If Susan was a downer today, too bad.

9.11.2015

Man On Wire


Man On Wire is on Netflix, treat yourself and watch it.

9.06.2015

Susan is not a lover of the outdoors unless seated on a comfortable chair in a shady yard with a plate of cookies on her lap.

With limited enthusiasm Susan has been known to plant a thing or two, but that's the end of it. There is no further interaction of any sort unless she clips a hydrangea to shove in a glass of water. There is definitely no maintenance, or any proximity to dirt or bugs, neither does she hang around in her front yard long enough for Mr. or Mrs. Drunk to catch a glimpse of her and come over for a chat.

This weekend Susan combined all these avoided actions and set upon the distasteful task of weeding her front yard. Since the untimely demise of her beloved husband the outside has started to look like The Muster's house, minus the impressive Victorian exterior.
The husband would do all her grunt work. By his side she was more inclined to make a teeny effort, or at least sit on the front steps and conversate while he toiled on her projects.

You know the joint must be in really rough shape for Susan to willingly engage in physical labor, particularly the bending over variety. Susan has a keen hatred for bending over, one she has proclaimed far and wide. And loudly.
Weeding seems to have been invented for this miserable position.

Susan's son employed his super human wrestler's strength to yank out a few trees that did not exist six months prior then transported all her weedy debris to the neglected compost bin. The husband used to take care of the composting responsibilities for her too.

Jeez, did she do anything?

At the end of the day the yard look improved but at the cost of Susan's elderly back, so she crawled to her bed & took a nap.

8.23.2015

Earlier this summer Susan spent a long weekend at the beach.
How wonderful! you say.
Everyone loves the beach! you say.
Susan loves the beach too, but she hates the sun.
HATES.
The sun can burn out of the sky for all she cares.

Susan's boss at Acme Heaven Sent generously took eighteen of her coworkers to Fire Island. As soon as they hit the ferry Susan's work pals all started shedding their outer layers, turning their faces to the sun and making sounds of profound satisfaction. Susan covered herself up entirely, pulled her long sleeves down over her fingers and accepted the loaner of a ball cap even though it made her look like a dude.

Once there Susan unpacked the essentials needed for a weekend away with grown-ups; alcohol, Tums, Advil, bandages, sunscreen & incense. They would all be used. After a full evening of drinking, laughing and eating the group all collapsed into whatever predetermined situation they would be sleeping; girls with girls, boys with boys, a few of them snoring into the wee hours.

The next morning breakfast was hosted in the courtyard, Susan stepped into the sun and felt as if she would burst into flame. Her work pals were very obliging with giving up their shady seats, it appears that very few people visit Fire Island in order to sit in the shade.

Sidebar: Susan foolishly drank up her daily quota of alcohol in Mimosas.

When everyone started heading to the beach Susan panicked at the thought of being trapped in a sunny horror until hipped by two of her fair-skinned work sisters that beach umbrellas were available. In fact, Susan had but to point and grunt, the umbrella would be delivered & positioned for her.

A beach umbrella was all that was needed to restore Susan's mental health & make her world happy.

The day wore on in a most congenial manner, the work pals all enjoying each other's company, but there was also a darkness brewing...

Any break in Susan's regular diet often results in digestive upset, and little by little a gassy wickedness was taking form in Susan's delicate tummy. Instead of dispersing, it was building up making Susan expand like a balloon.

Susan was carrying a gas baby.

She tried to abort her gas baby with a handful of Tums. The gas baby just laughed and kicked.
Many suggestions were given but none proved the least bit useful in diffusing the gas baby. Sipping hot water alleviated some of the discomfort allowing Susan to keep from retiring early, which would be her usual remedy. So, Susan stayed up late talking sh*t, playing games, commiserating over a nearly decapitated Big Toe, sipping hot water & joining a search party to locate the drunkest member of her group.

In the morning the toe was still attached, the missing member was back & the gas baby was gone.

Susan is tired right now, so this will suffice as The End.

7.18.2015

The other night Susan thought she saw Cousin Lisa.
It took about two seconds, if even that long, to realize it wasn't her. And then to remember why it wasn't her.

In those two seconds an entire universe of happiness was created.
Then it evaporated.
Susan wasn't even sad, she accepted the evaporation and went on with her evening without missing a beat. But for two seconds she was cartwheeling through a field of daisies, or maybe lavender, as she though she was about to encounter her favorite person.

Susan reflected on this for days; the split-second delight she felt when her brain allowed her to forget before it made her remember. How it didn't bother her then, but it bothers her now. How she doesn't even know if she's grieving effectively.

Susan had a good cry over all this sh*t.

6.21.2015

Susan took mass transit all the way down to Coney Island, USA to stand in the rain and watch the Mermaid Parade.

Weeks ago Susan innocently said yes when the daughter asked if they could go, then immediately regretted it. Susan is not a fan of crowds, heat, no place to pee & limited escape routes. The closer the date of departure came, the more Susan dreaded her poorly thought out commitment. How could she deny her fatherless daughter the joy of seeing gay men and half naked women strut their painted and sequined stuff?

She couldn't, that's how.

Mercifully, Susan's Little Sister agreed to go which afforded Susan some level of comfort. She now had someone onto whom she could pawn off the transportational logistics.

That morning Susan packed her bag with sunscreen, Advil, baby wipes, black bean brownies and cash. She wisely chose her outfit; layers on top, although ultimately too few to keep her warm after being rained on & white shorts onto which she would later drop a calamari hot dog.

Coney Island was the last stop on the Q train and pulled in high above the park. Susan felt like Dorothy first glimpsing the Emerald City when she saw the Wonder Wheel and beyond that the Atlantic Ocean. It was quite a sight.

Twelve inch platform shoes, three foot wide headgear, bejeweled eyelashes, and head to toe body paint was in evidence as soon as they hit the street:
Susan was delighted to see the ridiculous amount of creativity and dedication that went into all the costumes. They were home made with odds and ends, bound together with glitter, fishnets, shells, pearls, streamers, feathers, leather straps, topped with balloons and finished off with pasties.
Like this:
 

Susan liked the full body commitment of this fellow:
Pirates, sharks and paper mache were also represented:
Most of all Susan was happy to see all the unrestrained boobs, jiggly bellies, plump round asses and rolls of fat that every woman over the age of 25 has.

Hooray for mermaids and real ladies everywhere!

*Susan would like to give artistic credit to her Little Sister, the professional photographer, for allowing Susan to pinch these photos from her FB page.

6.01.2015

Susan can't BLAHg late at night because there's little quality control after 1 am, plus she just has to rewrite everything the next day. Even when she's done a good job on her modest assemblage of paragraphs and sends them out into the world, she still sneaks back to edit.

Lately Susan's BLAHging talents have gotten a little stuck. When the self revelatory brilliance she's composing is still a muddle of crap after three weeks she just chucks it. Same with anything that may inspire even a single person to feel sorry for her. There's no reason for feel sorry for Susan except when she has to sit through Super Troopers on Family Movie Night.

Double grieving has taken the fear out of a few things. For example, at work our favorite claustrophobic has taken to hopping on the dreaded elevator just for the hell of it. Sometimes twice a day. She even crawled underneath the deck at home to retrieve some flattened milk containers which had flung themselves out of the recycling bin. This behavior is quite unusual for her.

Susan's almost at the six month mark.

In the early days of her grief she cycled through misery followed by recovery then normalcy.

Misery recovery normalcy misery recovery normalcy.

Once again she's back to being pretty stable although she cries every day. Quick bursts, multiple times, then she's done until the next time. Which could be two minutes later. Susan doesn't avoid her grief, she tells herself
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
It's been working.

5.11.2015

Susan had a good Mother's Day.

It started on Saturday when she got up early and cleaned a portion of the house like she used to do.

On Sunday she made breakfast for her kids since they're the reason she's a mom, plus she's been kinda out of practice with the maternal stuff lately. However, before breakfast hit the table they surprised her with presents! This was the first time Susan's children have ever given her Mother's Day gifts outside of enforced grade school projects.

Susan's daughter made her a large glazed clay pot perfect for growing summer herbs on the front steps. Susan's son presented her with a jaunty beach bag into which he deposited a second gift; a beaded necklace in her favorite color.

Score!

Afterward they all drove out to Cousin Greg's for a family barbecue that he and Cousin Lisa had always hosted and which he wanted to continue. Susan cried quietly on the drive out there hoping her kids wouldn't notice and then try to make her stop. Even though she appreciates that her son has some silly methods of halting Susan's crying she prefers it to start and stop on its own.

Susan was happy to see that Cousin Greg had made some changes with color and furniture arrangement. In the kitchen she noticed Cousin Lisa's handwriting on the tupperware labeled basil pesto.

She didn't cry when she saw it, but later when she thought of it.

Aunt Eileen gave Susan a little motorized light up fan for her hot flashes and Cousin Jeanette gave all the moms fragrant lavender plants for relaxation.  Susan had a real good afternoon, ate as much guacamole as she wanted and refilled her glass with sangria as often as she wanted relaxing her rule regarding slightly slurred speech.

4.29.2015

Susan has switched her clothing from the boots and sweaters of a seemingly endless ice age to the flats and skirts of a budding spring. A portion of her well worn closet ended up getting tossed into the donation bag, or directly into the garbage.

After work one day she walked around a local department store picking out some clothes. Susan went to the dressing room where she hung her selections on the hook and started getting undressed. First she removed her necklace; a long gold chain holding the husband's wedding band. She doesn't wear it all the time, only when she has the proper neckline, otherwise it sits in a small ceramic dish next to his picture on her dresser. Her little altar

Susan has looked tired since the husband died, plus the end of the day was not her most attractive hour. She tried everything on, then rejected it all. Enough with clothes, she would go look at jewelry.

Susan walked around and touched everything. She ultimately fell in love with a gigantic blue beaded monstrosity of a necklace. She took it off from around her neck and headed toward the cashier when she realized she was not wearing the husband's ring.

Gasp! She had left her precious relic in the dressing room!

She did not panic, but walked with singular focus toward that destination. En route she contemplated how she would react if it was not there. Would she just suck it up like an extreme grown-up or would she hate herself forever like the total asshole she was?

Mercifully, her question would not have to be answered that day.

4.20.2015

Susan personally witnessed Spring busting out all over the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens on Sunday!
She saw fields of daffodils, forsythia, plump and perfumed magnolias, Japanese flowering cherry trees and all manner of little green buds awaiting their turn to pop open and make a spectacle of themselves.
She even saw a bride or two.
 
During their visit Susan established a few guidelines for casual travel;
Don't rely soley on GPS. Susan would have benefited from a teeny bit of prep work to know exactly where she wanted to end up.
Don't make fear-based decisions. She doesn't have to jump into the first available on-street parking space.
Bring snacks. She knows this, she just got lazy.

On her way home Susan's daughter suggested they stop by an awesome seventies vintage store where Susan purchased a super fab tie dyed wrap skirt* that was representative of what may have hung in her own closet circa 1977.
 
*Editor's note: Susan's closet did not contain tie dyed anything, ever, but she did own a number of long, Indian printed wrap skirts which she wore into the early eighties.