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.”

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.

The Wonder Bread of Expiation

It’s the Jewish new year, and I’m atoning for my sins in the hope of redemption.  I’m up to sin number 2345.  That’s a lot of people to to apologize to.  It’s also alot of bread to through in the water.  An ancient custom which symbolizes literallycasting away one’s sins. Or better, giving up the baggage that keeps us stuck.
So, this year I figured I would try it .  I made a major pilgrimage downtown to the Hudson river.  The vista was so spectacular that I felt spiritual.  It this doesn’t do it nothing will, I thought.  I said to myself, I’m really sorry for all of it, as I threw in a loaf of Wonder Bread.   It treaded water and floated back to me.
So much for my expiation this year.

New Years’ Message–An Abandoned Sign

It’s a new year and a new decade that will hopefully bring health, happiness, and prosperity.  Well, at least one of the above.  Some weeks have gone by and NYC has been in a deep freeze.  So have I.  But I feel that  spring is coming.  I walked down the steet and I saw an abandoned sign left for garbage.  It said, “Be your dreams…”  Hmmm, I thought to myself.  Maybe someone was selling a mattress or something, or one of those  learning seminars.  I wondered  if the universe talks?  So, I walked past the “sign.”

But then I walked back to it.  I looked at it in the face and I asked the scrawl,”Do you really have anything to way to me.”  I looked at the reverse side.  There was the same exact message was scribbled across accross the ragged board.

“Thanks,” I said for all freezing pedestrians to hear.  It was one of those artic cold and miserable days.  So, this is  MY new years message.  From an abandoned sign.

Bimbo Doll

T and I have been good friends for a while.  She’s an investment banker and has a no nonsense approach to life.  With long blonde hair and large green eyes, I can safely say that T is not only brainy but beautiful.  And she’s tough.  But I can’t tell you too much about her or she’ll come after me.  So, we’re sitting at the Harvard Club crying about our misery.  Not enough money and no good men.

“I’ll tell you what men want, Pink Slip.” she grins seductively eying the men in the room.

“You would know”, I drown myself in Pinot Grigio wondering how does she ever walk in those shoes.

“The Bimbo Doll!”

“I get it.  She’s blonde and blue-eyed like Barbie, and her boobs are totally disproportional.  And she can’t talk except when you pull her string.  Oh, and she comes with no clothes.”

“Perfect” T smiles.

“Except for a tiny Perla thong and bra.”

“Bimbo has a hoarse voice like she’s had the swine flu.”

“Yeah.” I go for the pretzels and cheese whiz.  I’ll start my diet tomorrow.  (How does T stay at a size 2?)

T shoves a carrot in her mouth.  “Oh, baby you’re so great.  You’re just what I want…

I chime in to stop her from going all the way “Oh, Oh, Oh, I really need your big…reference?”

“Oh Pink Slip,  get a job already!”

She’s right.  But doing what?

Retrospective-Thanksgiving Day Invictus

“Jane, come out to Long Island for a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.”

“Thanks  Dave.  But we’re not “dating.”  I’m the girl you “passed” on.  You know, that Tiffany ring thing.  So, I shouldn’t do holiday fraternizing  with your family.  But, come to think of it, after five years, I should get a gold watch or a plaque .” (other than arterial sclerosis.)

“Ha Ha Pink Slip.   Everyone loves you.  There’ll  be dogs.”

“Listen, I have other plans.  I’m going to go to the Harvard Club and sit and the “orphan’s table.”  Sorry, they call it the “community table.”  Women in funny hats.”

“I’ll pick you up at 2:00 he says.  At your mother’s place.  Try arguing with an attorney.

He shows up promptly in a blue blazer looking unusually handsome.

“Some irises.”

“These are my mother’s favorite flowers! How did you know?”

He smiles and looks unusually charming.  (Does he know her maiden name too?)

We walk into my mother’s bedroom, her new throne, and take our positions on the bed with her.We watch the “Toy Dog” segment of the Westminster Dog show on TV.  This is a sacred ritual and no one is allowed to speak until the “Best of Show” is revealed.

“Remember, Pink Slip, when we there in person?  Then we went downstairs and saw all the dogs,”  she breaks the silence.  We all think about happier days and try to avoid looking at the delicate floral urn on my mother’s dresser that’s housings Dora’s ashes.  I ache.

The three of us are mourning the death of my mother’s Maltese dog, Dora, her beloved companion, who died this past May.  We look at the pictures stationed around the room–many of which were shot by Dave.  My mother’s bedroom is a shrine, not to the memories of her two grown children and grandchildren, but to her departed Maltese. She now exists with  the two mechanical cats that I purchased in a drugstore–Miss Kitty and LuLu, “The Non-Life Breed”.   My mother continues to babble about how the “girls”  are watching the show, but what they really love are cartoons and they have their own schedule.  “One ran out of batteries so she’s just relaxing now.  We’ll have to deal with that situation.”

I pretend not to hear the request for batteries.  I’ve been giving my mother dinner for the past three hours, and I’m about to pass out from exhaustion.  So far every aid has quit, but it’s difficult for a daughter to turn in her walking papers.  Throughout dinner, she continually lapsed into anger. I don’t know when my mother will erupt.  Constantly walking on eggshells makes me feel like I will break.  I look at her skin and see that  is becoming translucent.  There is a sad beauty in what is left–even in a fading leaf.

I drift of to sleep to the sound of a Purina Dog Chow commercial.  I’m dreaming.  A really handsome man is walking me on a pink rhinestone leash!   (I’m not going to tell you whether I’m wearing my dog coat and booties…) Yippee!  There is an afterlife.

“Let’s go Pink Slip”  I hear Dave command.  “We have a train to catch.”

I feel relief as I peel myself off my mother’s bed.  I kiss her goodbye.  She is angry, but resigned.  I wonder if this is our last Thanksgiving together.

We emerge from the elevator onto the street.  I feel like I’m under a spell.  The cold air hits my face.  I’m filled with grief, exhaustion, and loneliness.  I can hardly stand.

Dave starts to babble with his nose in a train schedule,” Well, we can catch the 6, then the D, then the trains to Great Neck.  They run pretty frequently…”

I erupt in anger, ” Listen, let’s take a taxi to Penn Station.  I’ll pay for it. I”m exhausted.  Or maybe I’ll just go to the  “orphans” table.”  I am exhausted from years of frustration.

“No that’s OK.”  Silence.  I can be a jerk sometimes.

We sit in silence on the train on our way  to the “perfect” Thanksgiving.  In 45 minutes, we arrive at the “perfect” home  in North Shore horse country as  the “perfect” couple from NYC.

We walk up the stone steps and Dave turns to me and hurls ” You know, Pink Slip , you really have some of your mother’s characteristics.”

I think about the orphan turkey that I lost…