AMEN ARMEN


          About twenty-five years ago while searching the want ads for a job; an advertisement for an on-site property manager caught my eye.  At the time, I was committed to launching my dance troupe, the Jammers, and like most dance troupes, a non-profit enterprise.   

           I appeared at the interview wearing the only career outfit I had left. A petite woman with sparkling black eyes, dressed in black leggings and a T-Shirt greeted me, her name was Armen. I recall we sat at her dining room table and talked. About halfway through the interview, I realized this woman was not interviewing me for anything except trust. Armen did not study my resume or ask me hypothetical questions, she engaged me in conversation. I ventured to explain, why I ejected out of commercial real estate into the business of a dance troupe. Armen shook her head, “I understand, you don’t have to explain, I come from an artistic family, and my mother was an Opera singer.”

          She asked me to start the following weekend. I packed up my belongings from the Gaslamp apartment on G Street and moved into The Terraces. Armen gave me a spacious two-bedroom apartment over the pool because I told her I loved to swim. I did not have enough furniture to fill the apartment. Armen laughed and said, “ What do you need, a bed and a table, that’s it.”    

She lived in one of the smallest units and loved the simplicity. She did not own a television or a blender. She invested every cent in the project and planned to convert it into condominiums. This could not be accomplished without rental income. My job was to lease the apartments.

          We set up a model office and hired a maintenance man, and a landscaper. We fixed up the apartments, and I rented them. In the evening, I presided over the Jammers Dance Classes in a fitness center downtown. The classes were expanding, and everyone wanted to learn Hip-Hop. My artistic pulse was satisfied, and my financial burden was lifted.

          Every day at noon Armen would call me, 

           “Lily. Come over-I have lunch.”

           “Thanks, but I’m not hungry.”

           “You have to eat, just a little.” 

   She did not take no for an answer.  She prepared delicious Turkish and Armenian exotic dishes, and for an hour, we sat at the table and discussed ideas, art, and the American lifestyle. In a short time, it was evident The Terraces was just a backdrop, a setting to an unfolding drama of fictional proportions. The looming danger, disaster, and deterioration came in waves. Just as we recovered from one shipwreck, another was on its way.

          First, there were the tenants; a collection of eighty lifestyles and characters that invariably collide and come running to Armen. I never saw her turn a tenant away. She was so complying and understanding; tenants retreated and left smiling. In spite of utility shutdowns, and cracking staircases from the earthquake. failed security alarms, and slipping balconies, we moved tenants in and they did not move out.

           Armen did not permit defeat to wedge influence over her mission.  Nor did she allow the consumption of things to soften her existence in life. She maintained simplicity without a magazine or a consultant to show her how. At times I came to her with complaints, about the insufficiencies in my life. She always had a philosophy that inoculated me from my narrow view. She broadened my sense of self and helped me to free up petty insecurities.

          The digression began when Armen realized her financial partner had hoodwinked her and was succeeding in acquiring ownership of the property. Then the maintenance man revealed his hidden love for me and went running to Armen every time I had a date. We were afraid to fire him, Bill was big as John Wayne and started admitting how many men he killed in Vietnam. There was more drama, a friend from Junior High school appeared veiled in innocent memories and slowly unwound into a crack addict with a bad temper. He took possession of a vacant apartment and threatened to kill me.  I had to hire a bodyguard, one of the Jamaican Martial Arts experts from the Jammers dance studio. Armen did not ask me to leave. Even when the Addict swindled money out of our tenants, masking himself as a Private Investigator.   

                 We set up a model office and hired a maintenance man, and a landscaper. We fixed up the apartments, and I rented them. In the evening, I presided over the Jammers Dance Classes in a fitness center downtown. The classes were expanding, and everyone wanted to learn Hip-Hop. My artistic pulse was satisfied, and my financial burden was lifted.

          Every day at noon Armen would call me, 

           “Lily. Come over-I have lunch.”

           “Thanks, but I’m not hungry.”

           “You have to eat, just a little.” 

   She did not take no for an answer.  She prepared delicious Turkish and Armenian exotic dishes, and for an hour, we sat at the table and discussed ideas, art, and the American lifestyle. In a short time, it was evident The Terraces was just a backdrop, a setting to an unfolding drama of fictional proportions. The looming danger, disaster, and deterioration came in waves. Just as we recovered from one shipwreck, another was on its way.

          First, there were the tenants; a collection of eighty lifestyles and characters that invariably collide and come running to Armen. I never saw her turn a tenant away. She was so complying and understanding; tenants retreated and left smiling. In spite of utility shutdowns, and cracking staircases from the earthquake. failed security alarms, and slipping balconies, we moved tenants in and they did not move out.

           Armen did not permit defeat to wedge influence over her mission.  Nor did she allow the consumption of things to soften her existence in life. She maintained simplicity without a magazine or a consultant to show her how. At times I came to her with complaints, about the insufficiencies in my life. She always had a philosophy that inoculated me from my narrow view. She broadened my sense of self and helped me to free up petty insecurities.

          The digression began when Armen realized her financial partner had hoodwinked her and was succeeding in acquiring ownership of the property. Then the maintenance man revealed his hidden love for me and went running to Armen every time I had a date. We were afraid to fire him, Bill was big as John Wayne and started admitting how many men he killed in Vietnam. There was more drama, a friend from Junior High school appeared veiled in innocent memories and slowly unwound into a crack addict with a bad temper. He took possession of a vacant apartment and threatened to kill me.  I had to hire a bodyguard, one of the Jamaican Martial Arts experts from the Jammers dance studio. Armen did not ask me to leave. Even when the Addict swindled money out of our tenants, masking himself as a Private Investigator.   

          Eight months into the battle, I moved out. Armen stayed on and continued to wage her battle against her con artist partner. It took another year, but one day Armen drove away without a penny from her property. Three years later she acquired three of the condos. She never gives up.

     She returned to Los Angeles and moved in with her parents.  She found another project and started over. When that project failed, she returned to her parent’s home. By this time, she was married with a little girl, and the five of them lived together. Armen had lost her independence, project, and privacy, but she held on to her spirit. Over the years, I struggled in another territory, and we kept in contact by phone. We compared difficulties, and she assured me no matter how difficult the circumstances, not to give up. 

     Now twenty years have passed. Armen has two children. The girl is named Aida, and the little boy is Mathew.  Armen lives in Los Angeles now. She achieved much since the days of the Terraces. She continued to work in real estate and chose to broker buildings. She gained a modest win over The Con and was compensated.  Last week I spoke to Armen over the telephone. 

          “ Oh Lily, I had a good year, you know, I cannot believe it. I am out of the project in San Diego now for good. I got the last of my money.”

          “ Congratulations, at last! Look how many years.”

          “ Do you remember Paul, the contractor?”  He moved to Las Vegas and has had a hard time you know. He is trying to open up a business there. Remember his little girl, she’s a teenager now. Can you believe it?”

          “ So much has happened.”

          “ You know I promised to pay Paul, one percent of the profits. I’m going to Las Vegas next week–I’m going to pay him.”

          “ Does he know?”

          “ Nothing, he doesn’t know anything. I’m going to surprise him.”

          “ How much did you owe him?”

          “ Eighty thousand, he’ll be surprised. ”

          “ Will he ever!”  

That is only one of Armen’s victories; she has many and one day they will be told.

        

That is only one of Armen’s victories; she has many and one day they will be told.

THANKSGIVING THREE TIMES A YEAR


I’ve adopted a savant to facilitate making decisions. I don’t want to use the word hate, it’s useless, but this time I will, I hate making decisions. Whether to go out for dinner, or go to one of villages’ festivals, parades, or events, they rake up events during the winter to keep us off drugs. This weekend was a  village-wide Friday sale for shopping, the lighted tractor parade, and appetizers at all the shops in town. Sounded pleasurable and I’m proud of the village to induct us into a community of we care about you.  I didn’t go, but I did go out for Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant I’d never been to, festive crowded, and the tempting buffet twinkled like the first time I’d seen decorated food. It’s been five years since I’ve gone out for Thanksgiving so the jubilee of food was a bit musical.  I ordered a glass of wine at the bar, the only customer as everyone had reserved tables for grandparents and children and the roar was melodious. My order to go would wait, the celebratory ambiance shattered my loneliness. The bartender, Jovida was like a lightbulb, she kept coming over to me maybe three times asking me polite questions, have you been here before, you must come on the weekends we have live music, while you’re having your wine can I bring you something from the buffet. I wondered if I’d be charged, she noticed my hesitation and said, No charge. So I choose smoked salmon, capers, onion, and horseradish. On m wish list if I’m allowed to eat in heaven, along with Gruyere cheese, tacos, salad, and croissants.  The bliss, was a sandwich of bustling eager activity, laughter, and the children.  I remember our family Thanksgiving when my parents were divorced and we went to Nana’s home in San Fernando Valley, through that old tunnel. My mother’s mother is full-flecked Irish so the dinner was grand, and she was a dedicated cooking slave.  She made mashed potatoes like I’ve never tasted since, and homemade pies, everything spiced with Nana’s kinship with making the family love her.

      I left the restaurant after an hour later with a jubilant bag of turkey, fixings, and pumpkin pie. I found my seat on the bedroom sofa, and watched, ‘ The Train’ with Burt Lancaster.  My thoughts were rested, abated for the whole evening, and then the next day, turkey revenge. I could not get out of bed, eat, or think. So I said to myself, it’s okay to do nothing and so I watched a romantic comedy, ‘ Cardboard Husband,’ with Norma Sherer and Robert Taylor, removed three-year-old lipstick and liners, shopped online without buying, saved for later my way of shopping. Then I threw the dice and I got seven. That is where my decisions are now made. If I don’t get a seven with seven throws, I don’t go out or make a decision. If I get it once- I’m on! It was a perfect day for thanks. I think we should have a Thanksgiving Holiday three or four times a year.

WINTER WRITING IN UPSTATE NEW YORK


    Still flustering over how to save more money, and which expense she should solve; the dental appointment that’s six months overdue, the servicing of her car overdue since June, or elevated reasons to book a trip to San Diego. The urgency to decide sent her into a minor mid-afternoon tizzy and she decided she needed potato chips to solve her physical edginess. She does not use salt in her cooking, and from experimentation over the years realized that salt could elevate her dizzy thinking and lackluster posture. The momentary outdoor freshness stilted her, to stop moving, and breathe deeply like she was in the doctor’s office and they say, ‘ deep breath.’   The street is absent of walkers, workers, delivery trucks, and residents, it’s almost like a graveyard and this does not irritate Greta, she uses the bliss to engulf her creativity, and so she began to write.

“Young woman sitting on the books and typing, toned image”

PUZZLE OF SOLITUDE  will always be a puzzle because our lives, solo or mated, are puzzled by too much solitude, or not enough.

 I contest what seems endless solitude with my Irish Russian temper; condemning irritants like street noise, absence of friends, short-tempered customer service reps, world news, and mindless tasks. After the first ice rain and snow, the fever dulled, and mindfulness triumphed. I imagined my basement of survival would sink. It did not. There is an inner exploration happening, unfolding like spreading new sheets on my bed, that solitude has befriended me all my life, in the best of times and the tedious. I have to find the frolic and follies in the world I created. I have to laugh alone so I watch screwball comedies, seek humor in my irregularities; wear a sweater inside out, pour coffee into a wine glass for a cocktail and chuckle up and down the staircase, because I keep forgetting where I left my phone. My head is elsewhere-daydreaming.
I’ve learned how to repair house calamities; unscrew windows, seal up cracks, fix clogged drains, replace air vents, read the meters, and rejuvenate every wood board, handle, chair, and table with Old English Oil. As one pal commented on a visit to the house, ‘ It’s a perfect day for Old English! The winter forecast is blizzardy and full of warnings I haven’t experienced here; and how could I complain when half of Upstate New York is buried in SEVENTY INCHES of snow and no way out? At the end of the day, pleasure comes in the kitchen; my heart and spirit melt while stirring my weekly slumguillion stew while listening to Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, and swing music.
Winter has in the past been a funnel that leads to writing.

Untitled manuscript- Pg 565.


May be an image of outdoors

Excerpt from the new manuscript. No title yet.

Will-powered out of the house on a glory hallelujah day of ballet winds and buttercup sun. I walked along the bike path and observed the cyclists, and joggers, some still masked. Along the way, I smiled at passing strangers, and sometimes even a hello. How reviving to connect with strangers after two years of physical masks. Emotionally optimistic, a rare trajectory of nature and my life within. If nature can survive, why can’t I? What prevents us from launching new growth, mentally emotionally, and financially?

Let me take this day and bless it with hope, miles, and miles of hope and faith that I will land, plant new roots, and bloom.

WHY LIE


When do we begin to lie about our life our feelings, our fears, our everything? I ask this because of simple observation, knowing when someone is not telling me their truth and I remain silent, it’s not my way to ask, why do you lie to me? My friends are not lying, it’s more like a social cultural mask. My wise father once told me ‘Tell them your sister or father just died, and they’ll respond, excellent because they do not want to hear your problems.’ But I do, I’ve always wanted to know the truth. Why should we shield our traumas and hardship, more than our triumphs and accomplishments? Do you know who does not lie? ART and SPORTS. That is why we listen to music, read books, go to galleries and museums, films, the theater, and ballet or other dance performances. I cannot comment on sports because I’m not a spectator although I do love basketball.

We, and I mean this in only a visceral sense, do not believe the politicians, news, social media, or advertisements. We want to, but deep in our inner truth, we know it is the manipulation of our individual thoughts. And that my friends is why I trust art to deepen my understanding of the human condition. Thank you to all the artists and athletes who share their pain and glory.

FOUND ON THE INTERNET

THE PHILADELPHIA PHILHARMONIC

MAXFIELD PARRISH

PHILIP TOWNSEND

WHAT IS A LOVE STREAM


TWO EMBANKMENTS WEDGED BETWEEN A STREAM

     THAT RIPPLES THE UK TO THE USA.  

     WHAT FALLS BETWEEN THE MEANDERING

     USHERS GENTLE WAVES, LOVING CARESSES

SMASHES WHEN THE WAVES ARE EVIDENT. 

     SOAR TO BRING THEIR STREAM TO REST

    TO FIND THE BEST

    BELIEVING EXIST AND DESTINY FLOW

THEY DON’T KNOW

    IF THE STREAM WILL ENTWINE

    ENSNARE OR EMBRACE

   EMBANKMENTS MEANT TO SHOULDER   

UNTIL THEY ‘VE FOUND EACH OTHER

   

FREE TO WRITE


I think of the comforts of exhibiting my life on paper. It is not the act of writing with pen and paper moving along at a steady rhythm; it’s the activation of the heart and mind, collaborating to unravel the relevant from the irrelevant. To reach this state of matrimony a writer needs not a Tuscan Villa, or an English Castle, but experiences that flake off the skin, the mise en scene that shakes its relevance.

EXCERPT FROM MY NEXT BOOK. UNKNOWN TITLE


.

Page 525. Terrified to post this but it is Sunday and I’m brave on Sunday. The book is fiction, first-person, and close third person so you’ll need a jogging suit to read. Based on true events.

Greta let the moment of the village rescue stay with her, like a new pet for as long as she could hold on to its beneficial ointment, away from what she calls her immersion into self. She gives me examples that illustrate her obsession with matching outfits in her closet.

It’s a bedroom she converted into a dressing room. There’s a single bed against one wall, a cabinet where she stores the winter boots, and an eight-drawer French nouveau dresser and mirror. She sits on a chair facing the windows so she can watch the trees live through sun, wind, rain, and snow. Across from the chair is the bed. She diligently arranged her summer pastel skinny jeans on the bed, and next to that row she arranged the T-shirts, camisoles, and shorts.  It’s quite practical considering Greta as she has admitted to me half a dozen times, that she was born without common sense or practicality.  At the base of the bed, she lined up her shoes, the slip-ons, the flats, the pumps stuffed with tissue paper to preserve their shape, and the wedges. After a breach of sanity, she goes into this room and visualizes outfits and color matching like someone might play chess.  ‘ It does have a purpose, this way I visualize without wrangling with hangers and you know it just takes too much time when you’re in a closet.

‘”These days I look at them as if they belonged to someone else, I mean the red suede with gold heels that I wore on a New Year’s Eve of gaiety and not since, the black velvet pumps that always make me feel dainty and light. What care I give to all these garments when in the other part of the house, Dodger was descending into a financial coma.”

  Greta did not acknowledge the few months before his departure that he was riddled with abject unfulfilling tasks, bills, and construction jobs that no longer fed him purpose and accomplishment. She did not notice that his slacking posture on the front porch, head lowered and staring out without any body movement was a sign, she in fact despised it and walked away.  In the last few months, all of this seemed to rise up like a curtain before a play, in a theater and she witnessed his insolence and his silent howl for help.  

The irony of her activity is that she doesn’t go to the events that she plans on going to wear the outfits.

s

April Fools Putin


April 1, 2022

 The latest poll on our opinion about NUCLEAR WAR revealed that seventy-five percent of us are worried about NUCLEAR WAR.

April 1, 2022 Day 34

Listening to the news on and off today to collate my life with Ukraine. My tasks and routines are dismissed or performed fecklessly. Just now at four-thirty pm, a splash of the sun touched down to give me a moment to sit on the porch and let the warmth saturate through my gloves and coat.

I’m looking at the magnificent great great grandfather spruce tree across the street. A ballet wind fan is blowing the branches as if they are in toe shoes. Nature granulates humanity. We don’t live for thousands of years like rocks, rivers, oceans, mountains, waterfalls, and trees. Then I think of the Ukrainians, they will survive.  I watched three hours of news today. The longevity and persistence of nature emulates the Ukrainian heart and spirit. My dice, cards, everything is on their winning this war.   

THREADS OF THOUGHT


I’ve often wondered what people think about when they are alone; taking a run or walk, dining alone, in the shower or tub, or just being on their own. Artists in all genres spend more time alone in the process of creating art.   

Waking alone, I step out to open the drape to see if it has snowed. If it has then I’m on landlord duty to wait for the snowblower to arrive, so my tenants can get to their cars. If it hasn’t snowed then I am thankful, not that the snow-white lawns and rooftops aren’t magically transforming, it’s that time of year when the power goes out or some other nuisance like scraping snow off my car and porch.

Then thoughts leap like little squirrels, from musing on my friends, who I need to call, do I feel like writing today, can I stomach thirty minutes of news and a bit of punishment for past mistakes. The one thread that rises in nightmares, and the first moment I wake up is unconquerable, fear is a thread I cannot snip and toss away. Fear is really about the unknown, we cannot supersede circumstances that are in the waiting room of our lives. Either they have already occurred or you know they are on their way to your front door.  

THE FOLLIES HOUSE

Now with the coldness, at six or seven in the morning, I crawl back in bed with coffee and think of the past, then the present, then the future, and then my thoughts drift like snowflakes. You know the saying when you are despondent or troubled you will be told to keep busy. I have not understood that advice until now.  My life prior to the last two years was dizzy bizzy. And yes, it eliminated fear and malaise, so now without all the lists, commitments, and responsibilities absent, I am on time with my thoughts.

A COVID-19 MEMORIAL


I wonder what you all are doing this July 4th. The last year had pressed us closer, and friends from years past have knocked on my FB door. Someone switched the light on our lives and I for one will find pages of material as a memoirist to unleash all that happened within and without. What took me all the way down was seeing the number of deaths. NY lost more than thirty-five thousand people, that would be like all of Saratoga County.

I vote for a Memorial somewhere in the US, maybe a wall, inscribed with the names of those lost to Covid-19. Grateful is the word of the times. I wish you all a big, loud, closely adjoined unmasked party.

YOUR GRATEFUL OR YOU ARE NOT


  In a Sunday silence, she hopscotches  to a  nuance in 2018 when a handsome man offered a hand of conversation.

He walked with her and stopped in front of a Spanish Colonial residence shrouded in exotic flora and fauna.

“ That’s where I live,” he said keenly.

“ How long have you lived there? she asked

“ Thirteen years. I am so grateful for my home.”

She silenced her thoughts, less thankful of her dome.

She once lived on a street

Of serenity and beauty

Her view was scoured with a sightlessness of New Mexican history  

Unshaken by the homes regal display

 To live without grateful when your basket is complete.

Is like living in blindness from head to foot.

SARATOGA SPRINGS-HISTORY-HEALTH AND HORSES


APRIL 4, 2021

THIS ERA OF ADAPTATION is how I feel, think, and react. Tumbling through all the transitory advise forces me to examine more closely who to believe.  I’ve never been a leader, nor a follower, I walk in between, trying to pave a pathway to peace of mind. Maybe that is unattainable as we are in a cultural, political, medical, and socially reimagined world. It reminds me of being a teenager when life was questionable, and confusion was like a stinging bee we couldn’t swap away.

This week, my discipline raged and said, ‘Structure your day or go in disarray. As a long-time, rebel of structure, I listened and made a daily plan. Get out of bed by eight, answer correspondence, get dressed, work out on the treadmill, take a shower, eat something, then back to the home office and that’s when the improvisation kicks in. Do I write a column, work on my next book, or look for an attorney for an unsolved tribulation? Mother Nature punctuates my attention as she blooms into spring; the neighbors begin mowing and planting, the adorable little children next door play in their front yard, joggers, walkers, and horse-carrying vans pass in front of my window. The Season in Saratoga is about to open, masked and limited attendance will be at Saratoga Race Track, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Bistros, Bars, outdoor concerts, Theater and Chamber Music, Lakeside sailing and motor boating, fairs, and wine tasting.

A quintet of small-town celebrations that will inaugurate us to each other once again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IN THE FLESH OF SPRING


Unless you’ve lived in a four seasons city, you just can’t understand how transformational and redivivus the vernal expectation of spring. My mind feels like someone has loosened the screws, and a willowy feeling fills the body so when I walk my steps waver, without any alcohol. This spring is like a substance prescription after one of the gloomiest winters of my life.