Tag Archives: sisters

Following the Story Since it Broke

The snowstorm may have hit yesterday, but the eye of the storm came last night, when my sister met me in the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

“Are you O.K.,” she asked me. I’ve had a weird stomach pain that I initially thought would end with that awful stomach bug that’s been going around. But after the bug, the pain remained for a week. Fed up, I figured I’d cut to the chase, go (doubled-over in pain) to the hospital and either be discharged in time to grab some sleep and head to work or admitted for appendicitis. After looking me up and down and diagnosing me with “a paler shade than your typical pale,” my sister plopped down on the bench next to me and turning her eyes to the corner-mounted TV. “Oh, thank god they have The Bachelor on,” she announced. We had enough time to catch the fact that the Bachelor still had feelings for the girl he turned down, but then my name was called and we were brought back to emergency triage.

Ladies and Gentleman: Welcome to the Bowels of emergency_room_3Hell late night comedy hour courtesy of the ER nurses, doctors and the local drunks and homeless. Seven hours can pass relatively quickly when you have a a three-ring stand-up show going on around you.

First, it was a homeless man who smelled so extraordinarily badly of feet that the ER nurse kept spraying the room with a disinfectant to cut the smell. When that wore off, security stepped in. “What the hell’s that smell?” they asked. The nurse explained and added that he had given the man his discharge papers, but that he was currently burning up the lines of the courtesy hospital cell phone calling everyone he knew. Essentially using the curtained-off bed as his personal phone booth. Security gave him the boot and the smell went with him.

While we waited to see who came in next, my sister apparently got a job working at the hospital. My curtain area also housed the supply of bed linens and paper bags in which to store a patient’s clothing. My sister sat conveniently next to the linen cart. Nurses and EMS workers stopped by and asked her to please hand them a few linens and a bag. This continued for the entire duration of our stay. My sister never missed a beat. “How many would you like,” she asked them. “Do you need a bag with that.” Or, “Let me go into my closet and check my supply level.” The ER staff came and asked her first, like it was, in fact, her cart. If she had turned down their request, I don’t doubt they would have just walked away, thinking my sister, in her black knit poncho and leggings with her Pocahontas braids and black rubber Wellies, had the final say in the matter of the bed linens.

Next up in our comedy ring was a seriously drunk guy, who announced his arrival with: “Am I going to die?”
“No sir,” the nurse replied, “you just broke your hand.” The drunk started to cry. “So am I going to die,” he questioned again. The doctor answered this time, “well, we all die, sir. But not today. You’re in good hands with me.” Then, without missing a beat, the doctor added, “Except I just went off duty.”

As the sister and I cracked up, we saw the drunk’s nurses whispering to each other, consulting. Then, they asked him: “Sir, do you have hair plugs?”
“I don’t know,” answered the drunk, crying.
“Sir, this is important. We need to know if you have hair plugs in case you need brain surgery.”
“Yes,” he replied, weakly.

The drunk left for a while, later returning a little more sober, but not quite. “Why is my hand like this,” he asked the nurse. The nurse replied back that it had been broken when the drunk fell down the stairs. “Oh,” he said, as he proceeded to kiss his hand several times to make it better.

The later it got, the more scary the characters. Finally, when we hit on a violent, homeless (but fur-clad) psych patient, I told my sister to go home. “Are you kidding,” she exclaimed, gesturing over to our hand-kissing drunk who had proceeded to call everyone of his iPhone contacts at 3am to let them know he was in the hospital. “I want to see what happens. I’ve been following that story since it broke.” She smiled at me with a glimmer in her eye. “Haha.”
–Downtown

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Love, Loss, And What I Wore

Tonight I went to a reading of Nora and Delia Ephron’s new play, Love, Loss, And What I Wore, based on the book of the same title. The series of six readings benefit Dress for Success, founded by one of our White Room Women.

The reading I went to starred Joyce Van Patten, Kristen Schaal, Kathy Najimy, Heather Burns and America Ferrerra. The women did a beautiful job. The stories were both personal and entirely relatable. Monologue topics included: what a woman wore to her first, second, third and fourth wedding, to purses, why women love/hate black, and even Brownie uniforms. The language and rhythm was snappy, poignant, honest and sometimes melancholy, but always followed by laughter. There was even a clothing rack with hangers and sandwich boards of illustrations of each dress (by the book’s author) hanging from it.

Though the illustration idea was fun — and even though it was only a reading — I did want to see more of each dress. I wanted to see the texture, the cut, more of thepicture-1 color. I wanted to touch them, just as the words touched me. Which got me thinking … it would have been interesting to incorporate designers of each of these visions. Based on the stories and text, I would love to see what each designer would create. How would they translate the words into clothing?

The Ephron sisters cut an interesting pattern, and I’m curious to see how they tailor this piece, because right now it’s well on its way to becoming the next little black dress.

P.S. I think I had the best seat in the house, right behind the nearly identical heads of Nora and Delia — a hand’s length away from wanting to “un-pop” Nora’s popped collar. I sooo wanted to climb into their brains and listen to what they were thinking.

Also in the house: Tina Brown, Gloria Steinem, Cindy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Judith Light. I’m sure there were several other faces I should have recognized, but I was too busy looking at what everyone was wearing.
–Downtown

We Are Famalee

Mom never left the house without lipstick

Mom never left the house without lipstick

Hello long-lost DT, I’m still uptown though my sister and I visited the StoryCorps booth in Foley Square this week to about our mom. I interviewed my sis who described Sally as a fantastically wonderful lady but so out of her element. Not only was she born at the wrong time, and one of a long legacy of strong women, but as my sister so eloquently stated, our mom should have been a career woman just couldn’t get herself together to do so. She graduated from college in the 1950’s at a time when her college advisor (Univ Wisconsin) told her to skip law school and become a social worker (since that’s what women did at the time). Law school took three years whereas social work took her two. The measure of success in those days was to be the perfect housewife, to dress right, to be demure, and care for the husband and home. She got the dressing right part down but the rest of it, ixnay.

Alas, not only was our mom not brave enough or prepared to NOT get married and settle down, join the Jr. League (which she did, and that was controversial since I suspect she was the first Jew in Chappaqua to do so, she was the only Jew), at another time, she might have had a brilliant career and left the child-rearing to a staff. The nannies and housekeepers might have done a better job and she might have led a more fulfilling life. Her words of wisdom to us were to always have your own money, always be able to rely on yourself. Are you sensing any bitterness, here?

The crazy thing is that my sister and I have had our brilliant/fun careers (she in food a la Montrachet, Grammercy Tavern and beyond, I in the world of art and philanthropy) and opted out to be with our kid, although we are both back in the mix in different iterations. It’ll be interesting to see how our children manage and what decisions they will make. Same is true for you, my dear.

But back to StoryCorps. It’s a lovely oral history project founded by a tremendously talented storyteller, David Isay. The public is invited to reserve a spot at one of the stationary spots (NY and SF) or one of the mobile units and record your story. A copy goes to the Library of Congress and select interviews are parsed down to two-three minute segments and broadcast on Friday mornings on NPR. The stories are great; sad, happy, funny, poignant all. Grab one of your parents and get them to pass on their stories. I wish I’d done so with my mom and dad. Fortunately, I have my sister to help fill in some blanks.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

I was on the phone with my sister the other night/early morning, a weekend ritual we have to check in and make sure the other got home safely. We both had fun with our respective friends, and just enough to drink that we were feeling a little confessional. “I’m on J-Date!” My sister blurted out as I was kicking my heels off by my front door, complaining about the lack of tall men in New York. “I’m 22 and I’m on J-Date,” she said again, for emphasis. “Well, I’m on Match.com again,” I told her, laughing. “This online dating is so weird,” said my slightly more uptown sister, “like you can take people on virtual dates in chat rooms called ‘Sunset Beach’ or ‘Wine Tasting,’ or ‘Lounge Lizard.’ Ewwww!”

“I tried J-Date, for about five minutes,” I confessed, “but no one was taller than 5’6″ on that site.”

Side note: yes, dear Uptown, J-Date is a Jewish dating site. However, the sister and I, having grown up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, find it odd that the average Roman Catholic doesn’t celebrate
Passover or Yom Kipper.

“I don’t get it,” said my confused sister, “we live in a city populated with men. I pass hundreds on the street every day. Why do I feel the need to turn to a website for dating?”

“It’s simple, you live in Chelsea, I live in the Union Square/West Village area. 95 percent of the men around us are searching for love … within their own sex.”

Long pauses filled the void in conversation as we both pondered this notion, until it hit me. Carrie Bradshaw killed it for us. Before Darren Starr and Sex & the City, New York was considered the place to meet men, good-looking men, wealthy men, smart men, talented me, straight men, gay men, cosmopolitan men. Now, everyone from here to Kazakhstan knows that 20-something and 30-something straight, non-asshole men in New York are a rarity. And if you do find one, you marry him, no questions asked. Which leaves even more slim pickings for the rest of us. So where did all of the men go? My theory? They never made it to New York. One episode of Sex & the City had their feet planted firmly in the Midwestern crop soil. I think the stereotype of “we” women (via SATC ) scared them off.

And I don’t believe it’s just SATC. I think it was Friends and Will & Grace that didn’t help either. You can be the redheaded neurotic girl with the gay husband, the clean freak, the loopy, hippy-dippy girlfriend, the high maintenance one, or the drunk, gold-digger, but apparently you can’t be all of them, all at once. Pick a character and stick with it. Can you imagine these poor boys from all over the world coming here expecting what they see on TV? Giant apartments, movie stars, an endless supply of cash, clothes, etc. And the reality is usually very far from it. Yes, people have money, big apartments and yes, there are movie stars, but they don’t live near your 400 sq. foot studio walk-up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I ran this theory by my sister, who agreed, but added a caveat: “A good man is hard to find,” she said, ” but in this city you hear more men saying that than women.”

-Downtown