Who says “You can’t go home?” I do, Jon Bon Jovi. And Thomas Wolfe.

Still a pleasure: hot soup.

Still a pleasure: hot soup.

I got a call from Jeanne yesterday while I was working. I work at home now, which is one change from the last time Wiggles and I were blogging. Jeanne was calling from the nursing home where she and Bob are now living. The nursing home is another change since you’ve heard from the StarkRavers. Since then, Jeanne’s dementia has intensified (we refer to it in front of her as “memory issues,” but let’s face it, people. It’s dementia.) Or maybe it was getting bad anyway, but we didn’t notice it.

Hang on, I’m having a hot flash. It’s 30 degrees out, but I just yanked the window in my office open a little bit more. Ahhhh.

Jeanne sounded really chipper on the phone. She was cheerful and to the point as she said to me, “I need you to arrange for me to go home for a few days.”

Home? There is no home for her to go to. When they moved into the nursing home, we got rid of everything in their apartment. Her fake furs? To their caregivers. Her piano? To a music school. Her dozens of pillows, vases, urns, and art from Home Goods? Into the dumpster. Much of their good silverware? Wedged into the back pockets of the building superintendent’s jeans.

In short, there is no home to go to. But Jeanne didn’t remember that.

“Mah, you gave up the apartment, remember?”I stuttered. “when Daddy got sick and you ran out of money?”

Silence.

“Who made THAT decision?” she asked.

There was no real answer, really. So I just said, “Oh, Mah.” Maybe I should have told her that we could discuss it the next week, or after Christmas, or some other time in the future. But I was caught by such surprise that I told her a little bit, just a sip, of the truth.

The blessing of Jeanne’s dementia is that she probably forgot about that conversation 20 minutes after it happened. But me? I was flayed by it for the whole day.

I felt terrible for her over her disappointment and confusion. I also felt terrible for the now-familiar wave of the nasty disorientation that comes when adult children become the parental figures.

So Jeanne can’t go home for a few days, in the way she would like. But here’s what she can have:

1. She can enjoy a good movie on TV  (i.e., anything with Meryl Streep or Adam Sandler. Should they ever work together,  Jeanne would wriggle with delight while wearing the purple quilted jacket that she bought from HSN. “It’s one of a kind!” she said to me the day she thought the nursing home’s laundry had lost it).

2. She can chomp down a bagel with whitefish salad on the top and cream cheese on the bottom, accompanied by an iced coffee with Splenda.

3. She can have a fresh manicure.

4. She can indulge in Face Time, which I have introduced her to so she can see the expressions of her children and grandchildren who live in other cities when she speaks to them.

These smaller pleasures will have to suffice, as time unfolds and I lose more and more of my beloved mother.

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A Brief Explanation, with more to Come

As Wiggles said, we’re back. Nothing much got in the way of our blogging in the last 18 months, except for divorce, death, aging parents, illness, and unemployment. For a long while there, things were decidedly not funny.  Not that they’re so hilarious now, but I have re-found the joy of chocolate-raspberry Milanos and, of course, a snoozing Pancake by my side.

Who could feel down with this lovey snuggle next to you?

Who could feel down with this lovey snuggle next to you?

We’re Baaaaack

So. Where was I?

Blogging fell apart as life starting going biblically wrong. Disappointing our dozens of readers, for which we apologize. But good news, fans and foes, Roberta and I have decided it’s time to resume our scribbles.

Amid all the tragedies, life has continued on its usual cray-cray way.  Another typical day in the life of Wiggles:

Guess who’s accompanying her hard-of-hearing hubby to a computer repair store run by a heavily accented, pidgin English speaking Taiwanese man? You know what the vows say, “for better or for worse.”

Not to mention the Lord & Master’s next stop at the DMV, where he’s going to take both the vision and written driving tests. (For a professor, he’s got a surprisingly intense case of test taking anxiety.) And then he’ll have his mug memorialized onto the new license with a honking huge upper lip cold sore the size of Montana.

When the new license arrived, the L&M groaned that he looked like a Russian mobster. He did. An angry one. “I thought I had a pleasant expression,” he protested. Well, now he knows his version of pleasant looks more like “one step closer and I’ll blow your brains out.”

I have landed smack dab in the middle of a goddam Tennessee Williams play. Clearly, a lesser known gem. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: A Crumbling House to Match Our Crumbling Lives? We’ve got our very own Big Daddy and the requisite forlorn heroine – yes, dear Sassafrass has returned to the nest – lolling the day away in her cluttered quarters. But I, Wiggles, am a reformed JAP from the east coast, now mellowing out in SF. How did I wander into this production?

Among other reversals, I am reduced to taking care of my hair myself.

Among other reversals, I am reduced to taking care of my hair myself.

Our father, who art in the Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, used to quote his beloved Abraham Lincoln: “I laugh because I dare not cry.” Daddy, I concur.

Wiggles Surprises Everyone By Being All Substance, No Flash

Dateline: The Foggy Grey Splendor of San Francisco

Our security system consists of being the most run down house on the block.

Hot Pants clued our dozens of followers into the yummy Katz’s Delicatessen details and even managed to slip in a snapshot of myself and The Lord & Master (shhh – don’t ever let him know his actual face has appeared on this site!).

So what have I, Wiggles, to say about the renewing of our vows? On the serious side, renewing vows was way more fun than taking them as a 32 year old basket case with the emotional sophistication of Gidget. The L&M and I dressed down, skipped the rings, and just stood together before our family and friends and told the truth. And when the truth is as beautiful as our lives, that’s powerful stuff. I have done countless stupid things in my life. But when it mattered most, I fell in love with a man so indescribably wonderful that every other aspect of my life has been bettered by our relationship. I know this is rare, and I cherish him and our life together.

Of course, I wouldn’t be Wiggles without loads of dumb moves. How is it that I didn’t learn from Sassafrass’s high school graduation that I should not appear in public wearing ivory pants? Even when they fit properly, such bulk and bumps do not look good in light colors. Apparently, I am incapable of seeing myself in a mirror. It’s all a blur, topped with makeup and jewelry. Most unsettling.

Fat & Happy. I cannot complain. But I do apologize if this burns your eyes.

Also, I must confess that my industrial strength two week old blow-out was quite the worse for wear having slogged through the worst of the Jersey summer heat and humidity. Even more startling, I managed to eke another week out of said ‘do until I finally plopped into the magical hands of Hamideh, my Hair Goddess. I maintain it’s her hair; it just happens to be on my head.

Multigenerational gorgeousness.

Allow me to close with just a heartfelt thank you to all the people who made it such a great day: Andy & Susan for letting us trash their home, Roberta for shlepping the food from NYC, Jeanne for wearing one of her snazzy new dresses and playing the piano for everyone, Tucker for being Tucker and looking more fabulous than ever while doing so, Leigh Ann and Josie and Matt for wasting their Saturday by being with us, Peter and Sue for trekking in from Chicago amid enormous challenges, and, most of all, Sassafrass for blessing us by singing “Our Love is Here to Stay,” which celebrated us as a couple and as a family.

My Immortal Beloveds [to steal a phrase from Kelly Ripa]

I promise never to be this serious again, folks!

Yes, Vows were Renewed

They came, they overate, they drank a concoction called “The Tenafly Teaser.”

Wiggles, the Lord & Master, as well as family and friends converged on our brother Andy’s house in Northern New Jersey to reaffirm their love and snarf up some corned beef.

Yup, that’s right. Corned beef – as well as Pastrami and sour pickles and tomatoes – were supplied by the one and only Katz’s of Houston Street. Here’s what the boxes looked like, piled gingerly so as not to bruise the meat – in Andy’s car.

Watch out for the Meat!

Watch out for the Meat!

You know you've made it when your name is on a box from Katz's.

You know you’ve made it when your name is on a box from Katz’s.

True to her word, Wiggles didn’t allow the word G-d to be uttered during the course of her and the L&M loving speeches to each other. They did however, mention the words “psychosis” “frisky” as well as the phrase “Two wrongs made a right” in reference to Sassy.

Here’s how they looked, post-renewal.

Let the Eating Begin!

Let the Eating Begin!

It was a wonderful time, even for a semi-cynic like myself. Everyone worked together to make it a seamlesly enjoyable get together. You know who was one of the stars of the show? Yes. that’s right – Pancake, who had grudgingly attended the grooming salon at Litter & Leashes the day before. She looked gorgeous. Check it out:

Is that a Face?

Is that a Face?

She let everyone hold her, snuggled up with Jeanne, and didn’t poop inside the house. I don’t want to say she was tired when she got home, but she slept till 9:40 this morning, which I regarded as a personal best.

There is video percolating around of some of the juicier moments – so I am looking to some others (who know who they are) to email it so it can be posted.

And of course, Wiggles will be adding her own account of the day’s events. Can’t wait to see what her top moments are.

Wiggles and I Eavesdrop on Jeanne’s Therapy Session

this is a woman with a degree! Thank God!

this is a woman with a degree! Thank God!

 

On the suggestion of her gerontologist, our fair mother has entered therapy.  Wiggles and I can only imagine what she talks about, but we can make some educated guesses that main topics include:

1. her children

2. the need for a weekly hair appointment

3.  her ailing husband

4. the need for a weekly manicure

5. current events: I think this week probably included a mention of the stunning tie-dye assymetrical hem dress that Wiggles bought Mah at a local Teaneck emporium. Jeanne looked adorable in it, especially after she paired it with jewelled flip-flops and dangly earrings.

 

This was, in fact the outfit that Jeanne wore when we delivered her to her session. We were hoping that we’d be invited in to hob-nob with Mah and her therapist. But alas, the shrink didn’t ask us to join in the revelry. She just snapped on the radio and ushered in her patient, the 80-year old living embodiment of the Age of Aquarius.

Wiggs and I had to know what Jeanne was babbling about! With no time to lose, we rustled up some props so we could hear.  Here’s what it looked like:

ooh! she IS discussing us!

ooh! she IS discussing us!

 

Then she abruptly switched topics. Wiggles said she heard the words “gold bracelet,” “hot dog at Costco” and “crackle nail polish.”

When the session was winding up, we had to get ourselves together. “Act casual!” I instructed Wiggs. Here’s the pose she took:

Here she is, NOT eavesdropping. I swear, Your Honor!

Here she is, NOT eavesdropping. I swear, Your Honor!

Jeanne was happy as a clam when she emerged. Then guess what we did? That’s right: onto Costco for hot dogs and lemonade. Bliss!

 

 

A Perfect Day for Super Dumplings (with all due respect to JD Salinger)

It’s nearly 100 degrees here in New York today, and all around me at lunchtime I saw people eating dainty salads and pretty cup-lets of bright sorbets.

But not me.

When the temps climb high, I scoot my ample tushie over to…..

My Fave New Haunt!

 

Super Dumpling! It’s a little hole in the wall around the corner from me on East 45th street. I keep asking Enid if she’s been there cause she lives in the neighborhood, but no response. Anyway, it is FANTASTIC.

They have about six different varieties and they’re not even expensive. I went for the classic: Pan fried pork dumps with soy sauce and hot peppers in oil. Here’s how it looked:

Hello, 100 degree Lunch!

 

It was deelish! I spent a lovely lunch at my desk eating my dumplings and reading Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. Ironic? Yes. Did I care? Uh, not really. I just hunkered down: spear, dip, chew.

Heaven!