BY Jodi

12/01 Direct Link

Gobsmack is more than happy to take up residence inside his grandmother's purse.  The youngest and by far the tiniest of the kids in his family, he was always misplaced anyway.  One time he was missing for three months before his oldest brother, Smirk, said, "Hey, wait.  Did we leave Gobsmack at the swim club?"  That was Thanksgiving, when he wasn't around to swing from the wishbone at the end of the feast.  So here he is, breathing in the faint camphor scent, arms and legs wrapped around a lime sour ball candy, his cheek cool against the satin lining.

12/02 Direct Link

Gobsmack is dreaming of lollipops and dragons (again!), of licking the outspread left wing of the dragon and running down slanty streets in terror from a grape lollipop that chases after him with open mouth, chicken soup dripping from its fangs like blood.  Gobsmack  awakens with a start to hear someone sobbing  the words,"Matzoh ball!" and realizes it's his voice.  His momentary terror is replaced with sheepishness and he is embarrassed about being terrified by a grape lollipop in front of the lime sour ball, who says, "Please.  You don't even want to know what I've shouted in my sleep."

12/03 Direct Link

It was down to the two of us, me and Miss Mandy Pilcher-Peabody-Mankowitz-Meyer, for the coveted title of Miss Third Grade Homeroom.  Bob Bann had just beat out Dominopetito Flores de la Playa de los Madres y Tambien Los Padres, even though he never spoke and everyone loved "Doe," as we called the other kid.

Miss Mandy gave me one of her snooty "I got this" looks, a fake smile on her lipglossed eight-year-old lips, and I thought, "Bitch, please.  It's obvious they're going with whose name will fit easier in the blank on the printed-out certificate."

Victory was mine!


12/04 Direct Link

The assistant general manager of my gym not only appreciates but is entertained by the email I send with various small complaints and suggestions.  He says that others have shared similar concerns but none are as colorful as mine.  In my imagination, he isn't just a gym assistant manager but a literary agent looking for a hilarious new voice for his 2016 roster and, when his boss asks him to supply names at the weekly meeting, he starts to say, "I don't have --" and then a montage of my email, swirling around in kaleidoscope fashion, fills his brain-screen.


12/05 Direct Link

Every night when I use my nifty corer on an apple (Pink Lady, usually) and then slice it into eight wedges, I think the following:

1.  There are people somewhere in the world who could make very good use of that core and would be happy to have it as a snack.  Anne Frank would have been very happy with it.

2.  Does anyone else in the world think it's so much fun to use this simple little corer?

3.  I am keeping the doctor away!

4.  I'm a spinster librarian circa 1962, in gray scale.

5.  Apples are delicious.


12/06 Direct Link

The people in this crappy bar has more of an interest in beer and cell phones, high fives and "selfies" than they do in the rhymey tunes.  Someone in front is taking a video of your performance on her iPhone, and I hope she doesn't plan to release it to the cold waters of YouTube where it would surely collect a host of mean-spirited comments from people you don't know, the nicest of which will demand you not quit your day job.  I don't know what's worse:  That or the limp applause of the scant audience of people you know.

12/07 Direct Link

They gathered in his father's hospital room, waiting for the last gasps.  Occasionally they would hug, even though they weren't a family of huggers.  They would also face each other, wet-faced, silent, unable to form words.  Eventually everyone managed, individually, to whisper into the dad's ear, proclaiming love they'd never expressed much before.

After the funeral, over paper plates full of cold cuts and bakery cookies, he sobs because he wasted tears on a guy who had punched the family dog in the ribs for sitting on the sofa and done the same to him for an even lesser offense.


12/08 Direct Link

"I take pictures but I'm not a photographer.  I write stuff but I'm not an author.  I cook but I'm not a chef.  I sing but I'm not a chanteuse.  I tell jokes in my mom's kitchen but I'm not a comedian.

"Entire weekends pass where I not only don't leave the house but don't even consider it an option.  Last Thursday I bought a little light bulb at the local hardware store and that was the biggest accomplishment of the week.  And I was proud of that, without irony."

Excerpt from "Just Trying Not to Die," by Janey Grey


12/09 Direct Link

I can't tell you the number of public restrooms into which I've retreated for the express purpose of hiding in a stall and quietly sobbing, lingering long enough to warrant the fabrication of a preemptive explanation of "Stomach issues, oh God" that I hoped wouldn't be belied by a faintly red nose, still damp eyes, and a smile that isn't fooling anyone.  At least when this happens on a bus, you can look out the window, anonymously tearful, with less risk of intrusion.  How do you possibly articulate the Sadness of Everything?  Excerpt, "Trying Not to Die," by Janey Grey


12/10 Direct Link

I often think of moving somewhere less fast-paced, less self-conscious, less prone to posing, posturing,  and self-aggrandizement.  Although that kind of person probably exists everywhere in the "First World", I think it's safe to say they're not the majority in, say, Omaha, Nebraska, as they are here.

I'm weary of job-apologists.  Why anyone cannot just say, for example, "I do data entry," without being compelled to add, "But I also do stand-up!" or "But it's only until I find something I love" is beyond me.  A simple, "My job pays the bills and for that I am happy" would suffice.


12/11 Direct Link

Big ol' flannel pajama bottoms, pink with depictions of candy, and a caramel-colored tank top, both of which predate my moving into this apartment 9-1/2 years ago, and a squishy semi-psychedelic robe that not only called out to me but shouted in Cooper Bold at the 57th Street TJMaxx a couple of months ago.  A book on the Kindle I finally decided didn't make me a sellout nine months ago.  A one-eyed spaz-cat intermittently by my side who entered my life four and a half months ago.  A perfect Friday night in the city I moved to 15 years ago.


12/12 Direct Link

So, really, what it all boiled down to was that he just wanted someone to hear his song, even if it was just one person alone in a room, quietly munching on nachos and reading a book -- indeed, he preferred that to a roomful of loudmouth beer-guzzlers -- just so he'd feel like he was making a little lyrical mark on the world.  His song was small and easy and, he fancied, quite catchy.  His mark on the world didn't have to be the equivalent of a ravenous shark's gnash.  It was more like the kiss of a ladybug.


12/13 Direct Link

Two dozen cans of cat food are delivered to my house.  Inside the box is a two-part lidded box and semi-crumpled length of brown paper.  My cat crafts a setup out of this stuff that includes a main house, porch, patio, and walkway, and lounges in all three spaces, peering up at me as if to say, "Yeah, what of it?" or simply, "And?"

This is what cats do, I know, and it's not surprising, yet I'm all agog.  I feel like one of those horrible parents of a baby who thinks their newborn is the first ever to smile.

12/14 Direct Link

Her paws, she says, are made of genuine cotton balls.  Pure cotton balls attached to four black sticks.  And yes, she must keep them very, very clean because, after all her last name means "Cotton Ball" in Yiddish.  I commend her on her dedication, industrious endeavor, and meticulous attention to detail.

She explains this to me several times a week.  Patiently.  And I respond as if it's the first time she's ever enlightened me.

"You do realize you're talking for me?" she says.  "I don't really talk?  I mean, cats don't really talk?"

"Uh, okay.  Whatever you say," I say.


12/15 Direct Link

This past Saturday afternoon I was in a thrift store with a friend, an adorable bundle of charm, humor, and sparkle.  We were both trying stuff on in the aisles, as you do, over our clothes, exclaiming over some particularly fun finds.  One of his was a just-below-the-knee, scoop-neck, short-sleeve shift completely festooned with bronzy-golden sequins.  He tried it on over his jeans and T-shirt.  I clapped like a seal and said, "Yes!!!"

This is New York City.  Did anyone look twice?  Yes.  But only to smile and nod and come over to encourage him to buy it.

(He did.)

12/16 Direct Link

This summer, posters starting popping on bus stop shelters featuring an image of Taylor Swift and "Welcome to New York.  It's been waiting for you" in a font I imagine was supposed to look like her handwriting.  Sorry, guys, but New York is not waiting for you.  New York is that multi-colored metal merry-go-round/roundabout playground ride already spinning maniacally, and you have to jump the fuck on at your own peril without invitation or hand-holding.  Dizziness is guaranteed, but New York will just laugh and spin faster.  Maybe it'll hold your hair when you puke, but don't count on it.

12/17 Direct Link

I've known you since 1980, when we worked on the school newspaper together.  I didn't know it at the time but you were My First Gay, all feathered Kristy McNichol hair,  green Izod shirt, big grin and fabulous sense of humor.  We meshed over so much absurdity (and Dexatrim).  So why oh why, in the name of all that's holy and Liza Minelli would you not *get* my Facebook post and choose to respond to it like a Mean Girl?  I haven't seen you in 17 years, but come on.  Have you really changed that much?  What a fucking pity.


12/18 Direct Link

This movie better not end with the leads, a guy and a girl, best friends, realizing, gosh, we've been in love this entire time so no wonder it hasn't worked out with anyone else, because then I'll be compelled to profess my love to Hysteric Bore upon his return from Dallas where he's spending the holidays with his ... husband's family -- ohnevermind.

P.S. If the girl learns how to do a smoky eye and the guy tousles his hair and they both become super-hot, I'll ... clap my fins like a seal, because I'm a sucker for this shit.


12/19 Direct Link

So it wasn't a balloon, it was Pluto, and it wasn't that easy to lug around, but it wasn't that hard either.  I mean, you couldn't just skip along with this thing in one hand and a Fudgsicle in the other, concentrating more on ensuring the integrity of your mother's back on a cracked sidewalk.  No, you had to hold this thing with two hands and tug to get it to follow behind you.  So what if your mom says Pluto isn't even a planet anymore?  Her back will be broken by dinnertime, and then who'll have the last laugh?

12/20 Direct Link

Well, now, what is she going to do with two fresh widowers, each asking her to be his new wife?  It wasn't supposed to happen like this.  When Lorna said her near-daily chant as she passed underneath the old brick bridge, "putting it out there," as her best friend suggested, asking for a fella just like Tom or Mike, her two best male friends, she was embarrassed that the curving bricks and the slight echo bore witness to it, so she shortened it to "Tomike, Tomike, Tomike."  She blames that for the demise of both wives instead of just one.

12/21 Direct Link

Whenever I read restaurant reviews on the most dubious of sources, Yelp, and discover the place received a lower rating because of "ambiance", I stop reading and remind myself that (1) Yelp annoys me (2) people can't be trusted and (3) who gives a fuck what others think anyway.  I mean, really, these people rave over the cupcakes at Magnolia just because Sarah Jessica Parker may have breathed on one in 1997.

Even though I appreciate groovy décor, "ambiance" means squat to me.  I only eat (not "dine") with fabulous people, and they provide more than enough on their own.




12/22 Direct Link

So much aggravation could be avoided if people would just step aside after completing an action or transaction.  You've cashed your check (because it's 1978) at Chase and have the just-counted money in hand?  Step aside.  You've visited the ATM and have the receipt?  Step aside.  You've used the escalator/elevator and everyone who was behind you is trying to maneuver their way around your stagnant ass?  Step aside.  You're at Duane Reade and been handed your bag?  Step aside.  I hate to be the one to tell you, but you're not the only person in the world, snowflake.  Step off.

12/23 Direct Link

We don't know our oversized Irish Setter is missing until a car pulls up and he bounds out, tongue lolling, paws flailing, fringe swinging, ears flapping, and runs up to us in the front yard.  The driver gets out and says, "I found him running around inside the Bucks County Mall,"  less than a mile away.  "I'm glad he was wearing tags. His mouth might be bleeding."

 We laugh at the image of him galloping through the small mall, unattended.  We thank her.  We fuss over him (the blood is ketchup).  Still, we are the shittiest dog family in town.

12/24 Direct Link

We used to celebrate Christmas when I was younger, complete with wintertime scenes in the bay window and a decked-out tree and Jenga stacks of presents.  There was, I suppose, merriment.  There was food, which I rather successfully avoided from, oh, about 1978 to 1981.  Somewhere along the way the celebration dwindled and eventually disappeared, because what did we care about Yoizel anyway.

Christmas means nothing to me.  But it does for so many of you, so in that spirit I wish you all good and groovy things.  And most of all, don't be a dick to anyone.  Even tourists.

12/25 Direct Link
I am off-center, observing.  If there are nuts, I'm them by twos.   Chips, any kind, likewise.  If there are raw vegetables, I'll eat the celery because I hate for it to be a wallflower.  If there is a dog, I will be wherever the dog is, even if that means under a table, on a porch, or in whatever room hosts the orgy of coats.  If you see me, you don't have to ask if I want to join the others.  You don't have to ask if I'm okay or if I need anything.  This is the way I "party".
12/26 Direct Link

It's not enough to ride your dresser of clothing for which you have no more use, fold the survivors, and return them to their drawers in neat, conventional stacks.  No.  Now the stuff has to be manipulated into origami and lined up on end, T-shirts and socks at attention like petty officers.  This decluttering bring us not just a sense of satisfaction but will, uh, "spark joy," as this book the sheep have adopted as their bible insists.

No thank you.  I refuse to clutter my life with the burden of folding T-shirts with geometric precision.  At ease, damn it.


12/27 Direct Link

He's all, like, proud that he's managed to do something for 28 days straight, which makes it "legally", he says, a habit.  I ask what it is that has kept his attention for an entire four weeks that makes it officially a habit.  He sighs and says, no, it's not "officially", it's "legally".  I count to ten and want to unmake my bed or smoke a cigarette or say, "Well, if your habit  was to stop being a dick, you failed," but, hey, I changed my ways 29 days ago and I'm not gonna let this recalcitrant punk beat me.


12/28 Direct Link

Sorry, Maoz Vegetarian at 71st and Amsterdam, but when you reopen soon as Maoz Falafel & Grill, adding beef and chicken and the horrid "start with a base and PICK YOUR PROTEIN" thing to your menu, I'll be taking my considerable falafel cravings to little Soom Soom on West 72nd near Columbus, which recently reverted to an its original all-vegetarian menu after pressure from the public to take chicken off the menu.  (I'll just have to remember it closes at sundown on Friday to accommodate the Sabbath. ) Yes, Maoz I will miss your French fries, but c'est la vie.

12/29 Direct Link

If Julia wants to believe that the guy at the small Lexington Avenue spice store is giving her preferential treatment just because he came out from behind the counter and handed her a little treat three as shd browsed, then fine.  Who am I to say?   Even though she read aloud from Yelp, before leaving for the store, that this is what the guy does, she insists he reserves a special twinkle in his eye just for her. 

Later, however, she frets because as she was leaving, he said, "Thank you, my friend."

"Friend"?  Certainly it was more than that!


12/30 Direct Link

I don't need the flipping of a calendar page to tell me to not be as much of a jackass as I was last year or to tell me to maybe drink more water and "live in the moment". I can do that on a random Thursday.

Someone really groovy in London ranted about that to me yesterday, and I was so happy to have someone articulate, in that glorious accent, exactly how I feel about it.

So, along those lines, here's to, uh, KINDRED SPIRITS who make me feel like I'm not quite so alone in my confirmed outsider-ness.


12/31 Direct Link

Oh, tourists, real New Yorkers don't do Times Square *or* Olive Garden any day, let alone New Years Eve.  If you want a real NYC NYE experience, come to my place and we'll read with my cat instead.  Directions:  Your flag-waving guide will get you to The Building Where John Lennon Was Killed.  Walk 4/10 of a mile to Trader Joe's.  I'll meet you outside and escort you to narrow-aisled Fairway instead, where you'll get stuck behind delightful nonagenarian snails.   I live a hop, skip, and jump away from there, but you can take a cab 'cause walking is hard.