Author Archives: ramblingsfromtheleft

About ramblingsfromtheleft

I am unpublished and optimistically waiting for that one magic moment.

Mom liked you best …

Did you ever think like Tommy Smothers that your parents had a favorite and it wasn’t you?

Smothers-Brothers-Mom-Always-Liked-You-Best-1965

Album cover found on many Google sites

In this bleep, I poke a bit of fun at Gail’s family, in particular her mother.

Unknown Chapter …

Parents lie to their children because they know they are not supposed to admit they have favorites. My mother never bothered to lie, and she never tried to hide the look on her face when my sister walked into a room. She was fond of saying, “You take after your father’s side of the family, Gail.”

I mean, I love my dad, but he has the face of an old hound dog.

Exactly eleven months after I am born, Elaine joins the family. According to family lore, she never cried, never complained and never needed to be toilet trained. She crawled at four months, walked at ten months and climbed onto the potty at eighteen months. She sat like a cherub, all blonde curls that never got frizzy. She cooed, smiled, and delighted perfect strangers.

Me? I was not so delightful. I had colic for the first six months, was so fat I couldn’t turn over to crawl and at eighteen months while my baby sister was reciting the Preamble to the Constitution, I finally began walking.

Because her birthday would have made her a “late” first grader, my mother promptly enrolled her in a private school. The same year I entered regular kindergarten, Elaine was in an advance study group for gifted toddlers. The following September, we started first grade together.

Until sixth grade, my mother dressed us like twins. People smiled. “Fraternal twins?”

Teachers shook their heads. “Does Gail talk at home?”

It was hard to get a word in while Elaine was reciting the preamble, the encyclopedia, and skyrocketing to the number one class, while I sat and pondered over Dick and Jane and their rotten dog Spot.

It wasn’t Elaine’s fault that she was prettier and smarter. It wasn’t even her fault that when she was in the room I was reduced to wallpaper.

By sixth grade the matching clothes vanished, Elaine was “skipped” and while I finished eighth grade, she dazzled the pants off the teachers at her high school for the eternally brilliant. She dated the elite of Manhattan and had three boys fighting for her attention for the Junior and Senior Proms.

My friends all had coke-bottle glasses and braces. We boycotted our prom, due to the fact no one wanted to be seen in public with us.

Elaine graduated from high school and entered Vassar at sixteen. I stayed behind to continue in my regular high school, attended City College, and commuted every day.

While Elaine was joining sororities and going to Harvard-Yale football games, I was on the A express subway headed for my father’s hardware store on Broadway and 180th Street.

When we were still dressing in the same clothes, my mother would take us walking down Broadway. We’d stop and get an ice-cream cone and sit with our legs closed and napkins tucked safely under our chins.

Those walks are the only memories I have of me and my sister talking. We’d run ahead and look at all the store windows. “Look Gail, they have stuffed bras in this window.”

On one such outing my mother gave in to our begging and allowed us to have a slice of pizza at Cimino’s Pizza and Subs. My mother nodded her approval. “How bad can it be? Mr. Cimino is on the Chamber of Commerce with your father.”

Caesar Cimino, the Pizza King of Washington Heights, Riverdale, Fordham Road and Arthur Avenue, near Fordham University, was a tall, brash, dark Italian with a dark, happy young son, Anthony.

It was wonderful to watch Mr. Cimino flip the pizza dough high into the air to the delight of the neighborhood children. I was overcome by the sweet aroma of bubbling cheese on top of plump red tomatoes. Pizza, I discovered, was better than noodle koogle.

The Goldblum girls would never be caught dead eating on the street. We entered the basil scented palace, where our mother immediately ushered us to a table in the back, behind the ovens, to be certain none of the neighbors strolling along Broadway for their daily constitutional would see us. It was a rare treat, so we ate slower than usual to extend the thrill.

I remember my face getting hot each time we went to Cimino’s and I saw the happy face of Anthony. He cocked his head and grinned. “Good afternoon young lady, how may I help you?”

My mother pulled my arm. “Thank you, young man. We’ll sit in the back.”

The third and last time she brought us, Elaine tapped my mother on the shoulder. “Mom, I think Gail has a crush on Mr. Cimino’s son.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Gail. He’s Italian.”

##############

I introduce the shy beginning of what becomes an impossible romance. And being the silly romantic that I am, I see Gail as the poster girl for all hopeless romantics.

Are you also a hopeless romantic? Did you cry watching A Love Affair to Remember? Yeah, I bet you also listen to those silly love songs. Give me a high five if you are rooting for Gail.

high five

Photo credit

Tell me true …

Did you ever think your parents had a favorite?

Was it you?

fOIS In The City

 

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What makes funny …

Angst makes funny … troubled youth makes funny … and today I want to do funny with Gail, the first version of her, before she went into her dream state.

At the moment, she’s in her unconscious, I-don’t-remember-my-name state.

Maxine.B01

The original draft of Gail’s story … if you can remember … was titled:

Does Anyone Out There Miss Ronald Reagan? 

                        Or … How I Survived The 80’s, YUPPIES and Six Blind Dates 

It was what one of my critique partners called “episodic” or “stream of consciousness” … in other words … like Candide, Gail tripped from one manic mess to the next, clueless almost until the very end when she is rescued by the Pizza Guy.

In the first two drafts of this book, I did lots of political satire, poked at the romance genre, and of course, trashed women’s lib.

For whatever fun it is worth … this is the original opening …

Here I sit, with my Diet Pepsi, waiting for candidate number one. I spent five hours choosing the perfect dress and matching high heels, applying acrylic nails and having my hair straightened.

My sister has decided my main problem is I don’t pay enough attention to my appearance. I pay attention. However, I think a girl is entitled to get a little plump in her middle years and bury her sorrows in a tub of comfort food. It is either that or bury a hatchet in my ex-husband, Ben’s head.

Try though I might, I can’t stop them. It has become our family mantra.  How the hell can we get Gail married off again? 

Gail. That’s me. Gail Sylvia Goldblum-Silverstein. Jewish girls should never hyphenate their names. I mean, Goldblum-Silverstein is not the same as Carter-Smythe. With a handle like Lizbeth Payton Carter-Smythe you can walk into Saks and abuse salesgirls, charge up the American Express, take a cab cross-town to your Upper East Side, newly refurbished co-op, and hold your over-pinched nose in the air with the best of them.

Me? Well I don’t live on the Upper East Side. I don’t even live on the Upper West Side. No, I live in Washington Heights, a place most Manhattanites consider the Bronx. It doesn’t matter that Kissinger’s mother lives only one building from us, or that Dr. Ruth is one floor below her.

Wait … let me go back three weeks and explain:

In the summer of 1981, exactly six months after my divorce from Ben, my mother and sister begin their search.

My mother stands in the doorway of the kitchen in her gym position, feet spread twelve inches apart, hands on hips, head held high, at the ready for whatever crisis comes her way.

This is Miriam Goldblum. She is a take-charge kind of gal. She waits for my sister, Elaine to arrive. Together they are a force to be reckoned with.

My father winks, his small round glasses perched on his prominent nose. “Don’t worry, Gail, we’ll finish our puzzle first.”

“This is hardly the time for levity, Ira.” No self-respecting Jewish mother allows her divorced daughters to remain unmarried for more than one year.

My sister Elaine saunters into the room and drapes her Burberry jacket on the back of a chair. “Mom, let’s face it, Gail is not getting any younger.”

My mother turns back to me. “Gail, you should be grateful we’re here.”

It’s not that I’m ungrateful. Every damn day I’m grateful. Counting my blessings, I would have to be grateful for Elaine, my younger, thinner, sister, the one who married well and whose disposable income is equal to the national debt.

Of course, there’s Bubbie, who was kind enough to move into a home so I can inherit her rent-controlled apartment. How could I forget my parents? They live two floors above me in another rent-controlled three-bedroom, retired from my father’s hardware business so my mother can devote more of her time to Mahjong, while my father walks the neighborhood in baggy khaki pants, muttering about how ungrateful we are.

Dad and I are working on a ten thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle and munching on Doritos.

In one swift motion, my mother slaps the Doritos out of my father’s hand and answers Elaine. “And it wouldn’t hurt if she lost a little weight.”

I would answer, but it doesn’t matter. Elaine and my mother ask rhetorical questions or talk exclusively to each other. The last thing they want is for me to spoil their fun with an answer. I look up at Dad and wave a small yellow puzzle piece. “They’re going to start again. First Bubbie, and now me.”

He grabs the piece. “I can’t believe you found the link.” He shrugs his shoulders and puts the key piece where we know the rest of the border will soon follow. “Dates for you, homes for Bubbie. Next they’ll send me for tennis lessons.”

Elaine concurs. “Yes, it’s high time we got someone for Gail.” She taps the table with her fifty-dollar, French import pen. “Let’s make a list.”

“Sure, sure, we can call your Aunt Rachel. She mixes with the best podiatrists on the Upper West Side.” They start a list.

I look over at my father and moan, “They won’t stop.”

He nods in agreement. “I know, bubulah. Go on a couple of dates and make them happy. Then go out with your friends and have some fun.”

“Dad, I’m not exactly in any shape to have fun.”

He rolls his eyes. “Shape, smape. You’re not an old maid. Do something, Gail. Go out and act like the gay divorcee you are.”

I know I will cave in as usual and meet this poor soul. Why not? I’ll stumble out into the world, trip on my high heels and push my blind date off the curb where he’ll be flattened by on-coming traffic.

New Yorkers stop for no one.

*****************

Gail was only my second novel after the Third-Eye with Antoinette. Both of them are my fledgling attempts at both funny and mysterious … although as most cozies will attest … it is a hoot when you combine the two.

I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with her other than snip here and there in the blog. However, each time I return to something I wrote when I first put fingers to keyboard, I get a tickle. Then I get a rash at how awful some of it was.

Remember that somewhere in there, even in your worst draft and your most awful first attempts, there is something special about what you said.

I believe that is what causes most writers to return to their first baby, even after the third or fourth novel. There was something magic about the first time, be it the first kiss, the first love, the first time you wondered at a child’s smile … and for writers, certainly our first books.

That was the time you found out who you really were and had the courage to let one or two of your imaginary friends say it for you.

Tell me …

Has your first book gotten into print?

And if not, have you promised yourself

that one of these days it will?

fOIS In The City

Note:  I have adopted Maxine as my alter-ego. She is most perfect for my Gail. You can Google or go to Pinterest to find dozens of her.

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The blog of it all …

The first part of this is a reprint from an earlier post.

Blogging-for-Fun-Fame-and-Fortune

Graphic Credit

 How it all started … 

In the Spring of 2009, my daughter decided to drag me into cyber space and created pages for me on Facebook and My Space.

This was for a time, an interesting way for me to become a voyeur, peeking at those cute little graphics, those marvelous family photos and the endless threads of conversation.

Actually, reading the internet on any given day will give one the impression there is not a single soul on planet earth, including our president, who does not wish to render themselves splayed out for public consumption.

It impressed some of the Generation X kids who wandered through our rooms in Washington Heights during the Eighties.

However, when a girl from my kindergarten class requested to be in my network, I realized my daughter had unleashed a beast I was not about to battle.

Who wants to hear from the kid whose braids you stuck in the ink well?

 

Journey.01

In October, 2009, she put me on yet another path and started my blog.   

I am fOIS In The City … a crazy Italian who had too much time on her hands between writing projects.

One major advantage of a blog is format. There are no rules and you don’t have to go from Chapter One to Chapter Whatever. Mostly because there are no chapters. Feel free to roam around, flip through categories or concentrate on one section or not.

This stuff is mostly fiction, people. So I am allowed to exaggerate, embellish, and wax melodramatic about anything at all.

Moving on …

To get back to the present.

I believe in deadlines. I give them to myself because I know if I do not, I will stumble through the day and into the night with no direction or purpose. I will go from one decoupage project to a book, from a book to decorating a tree, from decorating a tree to finishing the next chapter.

The next chapter did she say? Yes, I am working on another book.

In the time-worn debate … do you ascribe to the plotter or pantster method of writing a book?

pantser-or-plotter-writing

Graphic Credit

If I may digress. I was born on the cusp of two astrological signs … Virgo and Libra. Two very good signs I must say … yet they are in most ways like the moon and the sun. They might be part of the same universe, but they will never be at the same place at the same time.

I was born left-handed … to this I owe my natural genius, being able to throw with both hands, and tripping up steps.

For years, I’ve tried to understand the nature of how I do things. I cannot. And my writing is no different.

I am neither a panster nor plotter … I am a pantplotter.

Plain and simple. I go from day one to “the end,” and never look before I dive into the rabbit hole.

When I have eighty thousand plus words, I sit down and read. I reorganize, take out my many and numerous repetitions, rewrite, edit, rewrite, send to my precious readers … stop crying after I read their critiques and rewrite some more.

My deadline to finish this current project is the day after my next birthday at the end of this month.

If you will pardon the pun … I’ll keep you posted.

An executive decision …

Thankfully, the blog-of-it-all does not include learning how to query, or submitting posts to publishers, or handing over posts for pre-publication critiques.

I can do anything I please. Therefore, my executive decision is to continue with my snippets and my one thousand word stories.

It’s okay if you don’t want to send me prompt sentences. I think I’ll pick up random thoughts from one of those web sites that offer daily prompts and from time to time use one of those to wow you with my amazing creative talent.

So as I continue to decorate table top trees and mini bottle brush trees, holiday wreaths, baby cakes and baskets, and every other thing I do on Etsy … I will also continue to edit, perfect my current WIP, and find interesting stuff for you to read.

And it won’t cost you a cent. Just a dime’s worth of your time.

Does anyone care about what happens to Viola and Aunt Lucille?

Will Gail have another disastrous blind date?

Tune in next time for the answers?

What projects occupy your time these days?

And how do you handle deadlines?

fOIS In The City

 

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