Signs of Spring

Jane Ranzman Writer

Walking down Columbus Avenue in NYC, I passed storefronts and restaurants that were once my “old haunts.” But my hangouts were gone. A chain store remained. Or an abandoned space. I felt bittersweet sadness. There was hardly a remnant of my galavanting youth. I crossed the street and got a coffee in Starbucks. When I came out, I spied a small tree with bare branches. Pastel Easter eggs and bunnies were hanging from its tenuous limbs. A sign said “Happy Spring.” It had been right in front of me. I didn’t see it.

In my sadness, I saw there was redemption concealed.

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The Pink Flood

Jane Ranzman Writer

I know I can do better.

Please don’t step on me

Or evoke a baby pink flood.

I am getting the message.

Show mercy.

I feel a bit fragile,

But will attempt to fast until breakfast.

If I don’t pass the test for this year,

At least send “Death by Chocolate.”

Stiletto Heels In The Sand (Based on Footprints in the Sand, Mary Stevenson)

One starry night a fallen New York yuppie dreamed…

I was hobbling along barefoot in a desert with the Lord, “Enough of this walking. Couldn’t you at least point me toward a Hyatt? What I wouldn’t give for a pair of those ugly biblical sandals at a time like this.” I couldn’t see anything, but I knew something divine was hovering around.


The dark sky flashed pink as rosy haze suddenly rolled across the sky, and the happiest moments of my life were projected onto the billowing clouds.

“Look there’s mom. She held a tray of pink birthday cupcakes entering my bedroom in Seaside. That was our tradition. Cupcakes for breakfast.” Six candles were a blaze as she sang “Happy Birthday.” She was so young and beautiful and her eyes were full of love. I watched them turned to hate as her dementia progressed.

“There I am! A pudgy cherub with big brown eyes and pigtails.” Mr. Pierre, our family poodle, gobbled a glob of pink icing from my tiny hand.

I marched forward on this strange pilgrimage on the burning sand, carefully, placing one foot in front of the other. I noticed two pairs of footsteps were fixed in the sand, despite the wind. “ How strange. There’s no one here but me. Maybe it’s a hallucination. Emergency need for bottled sparkling water.”

A basket of daisies flashed across the clouds. I had just gotten into Harvard College. That’s the code my mother and I had. Now the bells of Memorial Hall were chiming. I was throwing my cap high in the air as a new graduate. Now, that was a day. I recalled how the four years flew by. The images flashed at an accelerated rate.

“Hey, slow down. I can’t make out the pictures. I’m trudging along with no shoes–not even a kitten heel. Without a yak or a camel and I have no desert apparel.” I saw bits and pieces of cherished objects, but they quickly faded— the precious painting of the Impressionist beach scene in my apartment, my dog’s worn polka dot harness, foggy pink eyeglasses thrown haphazardly next to the kitchen sink, great-grandmother’s Fiegle’s tarnished Sabbath candles that I never lit, an antique cobalt blue glass box, a rhinestone evening bag in the shape of a Yorkie, mother’s old tortoise shell powder compact. I looked down at the sand and saw two sets of footsteps. Maybe I’ll run into two pairs of Prada pumps to fill them. Size 6. Only one pair would do….

Now there were flashes of people I loved. Only the outlines of faces, but I knew who they were. Fleeting glimpses of family and friends. I wanted to stay with them a moment, and hold on to the feelings they evoked. But the phantasms zoomed across the haze as I continued my arid journey. A searing pain pierced my chest. Loss. Life goes so quickly. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention.

I gasped, seeing my most horrible memory flicker through the heavens. It was lowest point in my life. I stood on the icy earch before my mother’s grave on a freezing January day holding a small prayer book. The Lord is my Shepard. I shall not want. I had the realization that my life was forever changed. How would I live through losing a part of myself? I drifted through years of acute grief, darkness, and fear. “Lord, why didn’t you at least make a cameo appearance? Now, I am left wandering.” I looked down for relief and saw a solitary pair of footsteps.

“Whatever it was, disappeared when I needed company the most. ” I felt a familiar tinge of abandonment.

I suddenly looked up and saw a Western Wall in Jerusalem against the backdrop of a pink sky. I was sobbing and praying. My hands were placed across the cool stones hoping for healing. I was at a crossroads in my life. I had gotten a pink slip from my job during the recession and had no prospects. My mother was ailing. Prince Charming’s glass slipper was cracked. I wondered how on earth did I get here? I had fallen and felt alone in the universe. I needed a sign. Was there anything or anyone or out there that heard our prayers? My heart was broken open. And there it was with perfect clarity. A pink slip was curled into a crevice above me in the Western Wall. There it was like mistletoe above me. My prayers were heard. What had been an icon of loss had become a symbol of grace.

“I must get out of this dream.” I looked down at the solitary trail of footsteps. “So Lord, when things are really tough, you take off to your vacation home.”

I heard a voice within me whisper, “Listen sweetie, YOU can only walk in in stiletto heels. Who do you think has been schlepping you?”


A Prayer



“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” Saint Francis Prayer

Faith is invisible. It floats from the sky like feathers.

Twinkies Sink

Hostess-Twinkies-boxI walk briskly to the East River in the pelting rain. It’s Thursday afternoon. The clock is ticking as I have only one more day to cast my sins into the water before the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. I hold my flimsy Duane Reade umbrella up to the gray sky in defiance. A box of Twinkies is tucked under my arm. I am determined to say the Tashlich prayer for a second time as I run through the urban monsoon. I did this ritual yesterday, but it didn’t work out to well. It was bright and sunny, a perfect day for repentance and divine forgiveness. I brought my optimistic loaf of Wonder Bread downtown to the Hudson River Park, closed my eyes, and threw it in for baptism. I prayed, “Please let this white bread symbolize my sins over the past years. Let them sink to the depths of the river, or at least let the fish have a good meal. God, please let the decree for me this year be a little better than last this last one. I am committed to being a better person. While I haven’t apologized to the people I offended, I thought about it.” To my horror, “my baggage’ the Wonder Bread, floated back to me. It was not even water logged.
So, I have this brilliant idea. Cast the Twinkie. That girl’s been around. As the queen of golden cake and cream, she fell from grace into oblivion. Bankrupt. She got in bed with private equity guys for a bail out. This nibble was accused of driving people to manslaughter due to sugar insanity. The defense was known as the “Twinkie Plea.” Competitors said that she had a shelf life of over 100 years due to the chemicals in her ingredients. Ridiculous. With all those toxins, the Twinkie had to at some point become a food with no wrinkles.
I arrive at the river drenched, with no umbrella, but with the Twinkie box in hand. I march to the railing and look out onto Long Island City. I cast the Twinkies out into the horizon. “You lost your way” I call with genuine compassion.
The Twinkies sink.