Archive for December, 2006

Dec 31 2006

The Year of the Dog

Published by under Dogs,Rita


2006 was the Year of the Dog* in Chinese astrology. It was also the Year of the Dog for Suzy.

Round about February, I started taking care of Rita (or possibly the other way around) more or less full-time. As time went on, I became more and more enamored of her, and my blog became more and more about her as my life did. I am now totally in love with her and will never give her back to “Actual” Owner, even though we don’t have an official (or unofficial) agreement. She is such a joy.

As for last year’s resolutions, I kept all but one of them. I’m not yet divorced, but the paperwork is in progress. Rather like the Rita situation, there’s nothing official, but we have an agreeable understanding. I’m sure it will be wrapped up this coming year. I’m pleased to report that John and the fabulous cats are all doing well.

This year, I want to focus on physical health (complete ologist removal); mental health (not going back on the pills); and work (getting things formalized, working more & better).

Hope this coming year is a great one for everyone!

*Rita turns 12 next month, so according to Chinese astrology, she was born in the Year of the Pig. She does possess quite a lot of the Boar qualities: “Whatever they do, they do with all their strength…They have tremendous fortitude and great honesty…anyone having a Boar Year friend is fortunate for they are extremely loyal. They don’t talk much…They are kind to their loved ones.”

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Dec 30 2006

Naughty & Nice

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Dear Dolly, please save us from bummers in the new year. Amen, y’all.

It may have been one of the worst Christmases ever, but it was also one of the sparkliest ever.

Dolly would approve.

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Dec 28 2006

The Nightmare of Christmas

Published by under Dogs,Rita,Special Occasions

If I ran the world, Santa would look just like this.

As I drove to my friend’s house on Christmas Eve, I was filled with anxiety and apprehension. I soon learned that I should have paid more attention to this internal warning system.

After the long, rainy drive (though uneventful, with no mistaken OnStar calls this year), I arrived at my friend’s 120 year old apartment. Here’s where things started to get eventful, as she explained the vagaries of the ancient plumbing to me (“There’s a big stick by the toilet, in case you need to break things up so they’ll flush”), which almost sent Rita and me back to the car in horror.

Friend also is the owner of Dreadful Dog, a yappy, furry bolster of a dog disliked by everyone who knows him. People who can’t agree on any other topic under the sun all agree that Dreadful Dog is, in fact, dreadful. If he isn’t barking his high-pitched bark, he’s whining, which his deluded owner describes as “purring”. Among his other irritating features is his complete refusal to come when he’s called, which can be a problem if, for example, he runs across the road to annoy two stranger dogs. On that occasion, when I approached him with his leash, he kept backing away.

I thought of an alternative use for the big ol’ toilet stick.

You can imagine Rita’s horror at being bracketed with this creature. It’s like when your parents take you to visit friends of theirs and you have to play with their loser kid, who normally has to bribe people with toys to play with him. You can’t believe it, but you’re stuck with it. Also the grown-ups can’t seem to tell that there’s a huge difference between you and him.

Rita and I were mortified at being seen in public with Dreadful Dog, at least twice a day.

Awoke from fitful sleep on Christmas Day to learn that the great James Brown had died earlier that morning. A day that kicks off with James Brown kicking off is not going to be a good one.

Friend’s daughter has Christmas dinner at her elegant house every year. She is a wonderful cook (she even caters occasionally), and her house is always decorated perfectly. On the other hand, she also has an antisocial creep of a boyfriend who now lives with her. He threw a fit that would have embarrassed a four year old after we dared to visit for three hours on Christmas Eve, along with her friends and family. He kept her up all night with his theatrics, and then vanished to the basement on Christmas morning, leaving her to make dinner for ten people, all of whom were well aware of this drama and the many which had preceded it.

Unfortunately, he emerged to eat dinner and open gifts, which led to a complete pall over the proceedings and an almost total lack of conversation, since nothing anyone was thinking could be said out loud. Personally, I was thinking, “Heave ho, heave ho, it’s to the curb you go!”

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I called my brother and sister and learned that Jed the Wonder Dog is sick. Think good thoughts for her. Being without her is unthinkable.

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Dec 23 2006

Merry Christmas!

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Thankfully, some things never change. Wishing you all a safe and joyful holiday (and lots of presents, of course)!

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Dec 22 2006

Adventures In Ology

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Saw the cardiologist on Thursday. He had not received a copy of the ultrasound I had done, so couldn’t give me a diagnosis. But he did say that my heart skipping a beat or going fast isn’t a symptom of something really bad. I had the ultrasound done again, & will have to do the 48 hour heart monitor thing again on Jan 5 (happy new year!) since I’m now off the anti-depressants, which may have skewed it. So as usual: no answers, more tests. Why did I expect anything different?

The ologist’s office is located next to a hospital. Across from the hospital are a funeral home and a party supply place (The Balloon King!) – in the same building.

Tried to get a taxi in the pouring rain, to no avail. I did, however, have some guy pull over in his car, open the passenger door, and ask me if I wanted a ride. Sure! Drive me off somewhere and kill me! Why not? It was hard to persuade him that I wouldn’t consider his offer, whatever his motivation, and eventually, he gave up.

As I trudged damply homeward, somewhat unnerved by both the ology and the offer, I spotted a homeless-looking guy approaching, apparently talking to himself. I’m sorry to say that despite the season of goodwill toward men, I really wasn’t in the mood for a panhandling crazy at that point. He walked right up to me and demanded, “Are you afraid of me, princess?” I shot back, “Should I be?”, and he said no, then meandered off, swearing.

‘Tis the season.

When I checked my mail, I discovered, among other things, Comments Off on Adventures In Ology

Dec 19 2006

Holiday Health, the Suzy Way

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  1. Buy a box of those ubiquitous and delicious holiday clementines (I get “My Darling” brand, because it’s just so cute).
  2. Take those darling clementines and juice them. Just think of all that vitamin C!
  3. Add vodka and sip until relaxion is achieved. For extra orange-y deliciousness, use Absolut Mandrin. Good-bye, holiday stress!


When I woke up dazed from my odd, dream-filled sleep (the only installment I can remember is staying with Rita in a hotel in Hollywood owned by Heather Locklear*. Heather & I were trying on each other’s shoes. Hers were better), I decided to just stay dazed and confused and get those blood tests out of the way once and for all.

With an agonized look at my coffeemaker, I left the house and grabbed a cab to Chinatown. Arriving at the lab, the sign said, “Number being served: 89.” Pulling off my number, I saw a disheartening 5. But I figured, I’d come all this way (again) without coffee, and I was damn well going to give the people all the blood they wanted.

After awhile, I began to feel like I was at the airport, waiting seemingly endlessly in uncomfortable chairs to get into yet another uncomfortable chair and be slightly or very horrified by what follows after you’re strapped in, depending on temperament.

When my number was finally up, my veins weren’t. The technician kept strappin’ and tappin’ but my veins were hiding coyly, possibly looking vainly for caffeine. I expected her to call the lethal injection team any minute: “We need a cut-down here in Room 2”, but she finally settled on a rather unsettling area about halfway down the inside of my forearm, where it’s more sensitive than the elbow area.

As she merrily bled me (6 vile vials!), she said that my tiny veins came from my mother. I never noticed if Mom had small veins. I mean, you don’t say, “Gee, Mom, your veins are so small! I hope mine are that small when I grow up.”

After she put the little cotton ball and Band-Aid on, she recommended two nearby coffee shops. “You look tired, ” she said. I always think that’s code for “You look like complete shit, my friend,” and should only be said to someone who has run a marathon or given birth. Maybe not even then. Maybe under those circumstances, it should be, “You look radiant.”

I went home and had some coffee.

*Note to self: Must you always dream about such B list celebrities? Aim a little higher. Maybe a Nicole for a change? Or a real Dreamgirl?

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Dec 18 2006

The Return

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Wondering where I’ve been all this time? The answer is simple and dull: working and going to the doctor. Neither of these activities is sufficiently amusing for reportage as far as I’m concerned. I’m (not) doing it for your own good!

Really, I wonder why anyone wants their children to become doctors or lawyers. Given the fact that if your life has either doctors or lawyers in it, things are not going well, that means the public at large will either dread seeing your kids (at least professionally) or avoid it at all costs, and they will serve as the punchline for jokes as long as they stay in these undesirable professions.

But enough about them. Back to Me. For me, a week without doctors is like…well, someone else’s life. A very young someone else. The doctor of the week last week was the eye doctor. He horrified me by informing me that I have to get bifocals. Really, the grey poodle hair must be on the horizon. I can hear the beating of its wings. On the bright side, both he and the purveyor of the breathtakingly pricy old lady glasses* both thought I was 10 years younger than I actually am (thank you, Dermalogica!).

This week’s doctor is the cardiologist. Ologists in my opinion are not good. I’m not looking forward to the last doctor’s appointment of the year, though I’m hoping to actually get some answers. After all those years of school, why can’t they just tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it?

Early new year’s resolution: total doctor avoidance, other than necessary check-up and mammogram.

*Note to self: get better, or at least more entertaining addictions, instead of spending thousands on unenjoyable things such as anti-depressants (though I have broken that particular bad habit, it set me back plenty – at least financially) and bifocals.

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Dec 08 2006

Travels without Dad: August, 1991 (Part 2)

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What a way to start the day. Woken up fifteen minutes before the alarm was set to go off by the hideous combination of my cell phone bleating that its battery was exhausted plus the unmistakable and agonizing onslaught of GirlGrossness?.

You think I’m a baby? Try my cell phone. Its battery gets exhausted almost instantly, whether I use it or not (and I mostly don’t, except when I travel), and then it whimpers mechanically until I plug it into its electric bottle. I think it knows I don’t like it and is getting revenge by depriving me of much-needed beauty sleep and trying to drive me crazy (or crazier). I can see where Stephen King got his idea from.

When I tried to blow-dry my recently acquired bangs, I tangled them in the round brush so much that I may never get the hair out. The brush is stuck in my hair, just hanging there until I figure out how to extricate it.

No wonder I’d rather think about the lovely past instead of the irritating present. While I go and make coffee (no blood tests for me today!), you can read part two of my trip to Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny. Definitely the more civilized option.

Saturday, August 24, 1991
Giverny & Paris

The house was truly charming, but beginning to be very crowded. All the Monet paintings in the house are reproductions, and most of the pretty pink stucco house is decorated with Japanese prints and drawings. I was especially taken with the cozy yellow dining room and blue kitchen. The house is very unpretentious and just delightful.

[Monet was as good a cook as he was a gardener. Years later, my father gave me Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet, full of delicious recipes and photographs. My copy is very well-used!]

By the time I left, the place was packed and the lines were unbelievable. I was lucky I had gone early. My visit there was so magical, I almost felt as I had made a pilgrimage.

Back in Paris, I visited the Square des Batignolles. It’s a pretty place, with waterfalls, duck ponds, and a carrousel. I felt quite at home reading Le Figaro on a green park bench in the early evening. I wonder about the people who say Parisians are rude or unkind. Everyone has been quite the opposite to me, from the elderly lady amused by the fact that we were both reading the same paper to the man who invited me to admire his dog. No-one has refused to help me when I ask for help or directions (such as: where to buy stamps on a Saturday) & some people (such as: the man on the train from Mantes-La-Jolie to Paris) are even too friendly. I think it’s all in your own attitude.

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Dec 06 2006

Suzy’s Holiday Survival Guide

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I may not have decked my halls with boughs of holly*, but I have decked my window boxes with holly bushes. Also tiny juniper trees. Aren’t they cute? And a wreath for the front door,

with a couple of
Charlie Brown-ish cedars on either side.

You already know I have the tree up and lit, so let the holidays begin!

And don’t hate me because I have my Christmas shopping done. There are much better reasons.

Here’s how I do it:

  • Buy things as you see them through the year, instead of waiting until the week (or day) before Christmas. At a craft fair in the summer and see something your Mom would love? Buy it and put it away in a box or bag with the other gifts-to-be (so you can find them when it’s time to wrap them).
  • Buy as much as you can on the net, to avoid the horrror of malls, which are too hot and too full of other people.
  • Get everything gift-wrapped if you can. Leave it to the professionals! It will look better, and so will you, bein’ that you’re less stressed and all. You can limit your part of the task to addressing the little cards on the (beautifully wrapped) presents and taking the credit.
  • If you can’t think of a gift to give, make it alcoholic, even if the recipient isn’t alcoholically inclined. He or she either has guests/friends who are, or is hiding something. Make it cute, like this fab little gift from our amis at Veuve Cliquot, the merriest and most welcome widow in the world. Once the champagne is gone, you’ll still have the glasses to break and the purse to carry (with or without champagne). The gift that keeps on giving!

    While you’re there, get some for yourself and your guests. As with almost anything, better to have too much than too little.

I feel like a less larcenous Martha Stewart!

*When I was a kid, I thought Boughsofholly was a person, since I knew a girl named Holly. It just seemed to make sense. Of course, I also thought mincemeat was made out of mice after seeing a Tom & Jerry cartoon where Jerry was threatened with being made into, you guessed it, mincemeat. Feel free to laugh. My father certainly did, when I tearfully confessed why I refused to eat my grandmother’s mincemeat tarts.

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Dec 05 2006

The Dog, the Drunk, and the Movie

Published by under Dogs,Movies,Rita

Really, isn’t a day without weirdness…well, someone’s life other than mine?

Still in possession of all my blood (fun fact: despite the recent spate of bloodletting, I still have no idea what kind of blood I have), I took Rita for a walk. I expected the construction workers to admire her (and me), but I didn’t expect the Actual Owner.

No-one expects the Actual Owner!

We stopped to chat, and he only asked me about New York. Even though Rita was standing right there, he didn’t mention her, though he did, of course, pet her. It’s impossible not to. Also, I was secretly delighted that she didn’t fuss over him, just gave him the casual-to-enthusiastic greeting she gives the construction workers, who give her part of their lunches and otherwise fawn over her.

Rita soon got bored and started pulling away, eager to get on to the next smell, so we did. He didn’t ask when he was going to see her again, or anything.

Weirdness factor: about 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.

That night, I was watching the surprisingly dull biopic about the delicious Bettie Page* when someone knocked at the window. I figured it was Charlie, Rita’s sitter and purveyor of fabulous Italian gifts to Suzy, so I went to open the door.

Rita came with me. If anything, she’s actually more curious than I am.

I opened the door to a complete stranger, completely drunk and completely slurring, “Mind if I come in?”

I said, “Yes,” and shut the door forcefully before locking it immediately. Rita was barking loudly and scarily enough to have instantly sobered the guy, though I don’t think it did. I heard him mumbling as he wandered away to annoy someone else.

Weirdness factor: about 8 or 9.

It’s good to have a dog.

*Made me long for the real thing. I’m just going to have to go out and find Teaserama. The faux Bettie was nowhere near as cute as the original, and was lacking in La Page’s trademark sauciness and charm.

And speaking of adorable ecdysiasts, I valiantly resisted buying this pretty pink tome when I was out Christmas shopping. Also a pop up book of Graceland! Will virtue be its own reward?

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Dec 04 2006

The Frustrated Vampire

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When I finally went to see the doctor, she didn’t tell me anything about the tests, other that “sluggish heart muscle” thing and “it wouldn’t hurt to take a baby aspirin every day for now.” When I replied that I might as well get a grey poodle ‘do and housedress and get it over with (feeling, as I do, that I’m far too youthful & immature for such potentially serious health issues), she retaliated with anecdotes of patients younger than Self who had worse heart problems.

See, this never works for me. I don’t care about the other people. I only care about Me.

So I have to wait yet again (you’d think I’d be better at this with all the practice I’ve been getting lately, but no) to see the cardiologist* on the 20th. Happy holidays, indeed.

To amuse me in the meantime: more blood tests!

I happened to not eat the next day before I went to the gym, though I kept this secret to myself and nothing untoward happened. The closest bloodletting facility is in Chinatown, so I made my way there after the gym, feeling all virtuous. I worked out! I’m getting the damn tests done! I’m trying not to worry!

I get there, take a number, and wait, my latest hobby. When my number is called, I give the receptionist my list of tests, and she asks me if I ate that day.

“No, ” I say, smugly.


“Well, yes.”

“No test!”

“But I had it black.”

“Clear liquid only!”

“Black coffee is clear.”

“No! No coffee!”

For emphasis, she takes off her glasses and stares at me.

“No test! You waste your blood!”

Not quite able to believe this, I stand there, irresolute, until she orders me to “Go home! You go home now!”

I did.

Tests are still not done.

*Really, once the specialist has reared his ugly head, isn’t it just a mtter of time until the poodle ‘do and housedress?

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Dec 01 2006

Travels without Dad: August, 1991 (Part 1)

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It’s been almost Christmas tree, it inspired me to remember trips of the past.

To recap: I was in London visiting my father and went to Paris on my own (after 15 years, I can’t remember why he didn’t join me).

Now we rejoin our heroine’s past adventures:

Friday, August 23, 1991

Sitting by the open window of my room in the H?tel des Batignolles. Not surprisingly, it is in the rue des Batignolles, a neighborhood that’s new to me [the 8th arrondissement]. It is not at all touristy, though quite close to Montmartre. At the end of the street is a lovely, quiet square.

After tidying up, I walked to the rue de Rome, full of music stores, to the Gare St-Lazare. Once at the station, I bought a return ticket to Vernon, the closest station to Giverny, for the trip tomorrow. Then I walked down to the Champs Elys?es & changed some travellers’ checks. Had an omelette and a glass of wine at Fouquet’s, watching the people go by. It really is magical to be in Paris again.

Saturday, August 24, 1991
Paris & Giverny

Slept quite well on my down pillows. Walked to the Gare St-Lazare through quiet streets (it was early, Saturday, & August, the traditional holiday month). While waiting for the train, called Dad & bought some stamps. Pleased to have figured out the crazy French phones!

I must remember for future reference that there are no direct trains to Vernon on weekends. So I took an almost empty train to Mantes-La-Jolie and then changed to a train to Vernon. I am most impressed by the punctuality of the trains – mine was slated to leave at 10:37 and arrive at 11:33 and it really did!

You can take a bus from the train station to Monet’s house, but I took a taxi [some things never change!]. The driver was really kind and arranged to pick me up a few hours later. He also pointed out a 400 year old mill on the way, and said that his father had attended Monet’s funeral. Apparently Monet wished for no pretension, and his coffin was carried on a cart, like all the villagers.

I was quite surprised by how few people there were whe I arrived at the Monet museum. Entrance to both the house and gardens was 30 francs, or $5. I was enchanted by the beauty of the gardens. they are separated by pink gravel paths and often have voine-covered archways, but the overall effect is wild, uncultivated. A slim black cat lounged Cleopatra-like on a stone bench, disdaining the passers-by. [Unfortunately, the photos I took on this trip, including the cat, are in storage. They turned out great.]

The garden was a riot of color, filled with roses, hydrangeas, black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, and countless others I couldn’t name. The waterlily pond looked exactly as it was painted, and it was amazing to stand on that bridge and look at those flowers, especially since I had it all to myself. I had time to stop and think, to take it all in.

To be continued – hopefully in less than two months!

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