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Postcards from a Secret Admirer by
25
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Snail Mail

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I don’t remember how it started, or which one of us sent the first one,  but when we were in junior high my best friend Stephanie and I began sending each other picture postcards that we’d sign “Love from your Secret Admirer”.

I know it sounds like a silly adolescent game – which of course it was – but the surprising thing is we continued playing it through high school, college and beyond!

We kept it up when we were both young marrieds  living in Manhattan directly across town from each other – Stephanie and her husband Harvey on West End Ave @  W 90 St,  and me and Danny on East End Ave @ E 90 St.

Harvey and Danny became good friends – both having grown up in Queens and both somehow Yankee fans – and as a foursome we had wonderful times day-tripping and vacationing together.

But then juggling newborns and demanding careers we saw each other less often.  And then with our growing kids in different schools,  and our differing commitments,  months might go by until one of us called,  we made plans to meet,  and it was like old times again.  And although those postcards from trips, museum exhibits,  restaurants, and tourist attractions arrived less frequently,  they continued to criss-cross the city.

I had always greatly admired Stephanie,  and was in awe of her beauty, her intelligence, her compassion, her ethical stance,  and her activism.  She was soft-spoken,  yet self-possessed,  suffered fools gladly and spoke wisely,  and involved herself in the important  social justice initiatives.  A compassionate social worker,  she ran the social work program at Jewish Theological Seminary,  and her work and her passions kept her very busy.  But happily in later years with our kids grown we both found more time to reconnect.

And then 11 years ago Stephanie was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  My beautiful and brilliant friend died soon after her elder daughter’s wedding.

Harvey was devastated but coped as best he could.  Then one day he asked me to help him go through Stephanie’s things.  I knew she was a saver, and wasn’t surprised when he showed me boxes and boxes of letters and memorabilia.

And then, in the back of Stephanie’s closet we found a shoebox filled with picture postcards,  all signed “Love from your Secret Admirer”.

You see my wonderful  Stephanie,  it was me all along.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Cherry Coke Redux by
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(27 Stories)

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A story called CHERRY COKE I posted awhile ago at the prompt THE CRUSH seems to work here too,  so am posting again,  here’s the link.

Cherry Coke

THE IRISHMAN by
25
(27 Stories)

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I must offer this quick take on THE IRISHMAN and a plug for it’s re-recording sound mixer, my cousin Tom Fleischman!

I’m proud to say Tom has won many awards including a 2012 Oscar for his work on the film Hugo,  and has worked with Scorsese on many other films and loves the guy.  Here’s a link to Tom’s Variety interview talking about his recent work on THE IRISHMAN.

https://variety.com/2019/artisans/awards/martin-scorsese-the-irishman-re-recording-mixer-1203404316/

Looking forward to this year’s Oscars and more great movies in 2020!

Dana Susan Lehrman

Second Career by
25
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Get Organized

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I must admit I take little pride in my culinary skills,  am not a fashionista,  and may not be up on pop culture or as knowledgeable as I should be on world events,  but one thing I am is organized!,   Yet over the years little did I know that organizing would actually become my second career!

My first career – my real 30 year career – was spent as a school librarian.  Over the years I ran several school libraries,   started one from scratch,  and lived through the technology revolution when the old card catalog – the wooden one we remember with all the little drawers – became a thing of the past.  (See The Diary of a Young Girl,  Library Lesson and Magazines for the Principal )

And the truth is when I was in library school the course that my classmates found dry,  but I found to be most exciting,  was cataloging.  In library parlance that means putting books in their proper classifications by subject – organizing in it’s strictest sense.

Actually in the past when librarians ordered books from book vendors,  they came pre-cataloged,  each labeled with it’s proper classification number,  and accompanied by a set of catalog cards  – author, title, and subject/s –  ready to be filed into the card catalog.  And then when library catalogs became online servers,  those paper catalog cards were replaced with computer disks.

Yet in both those cases,  I often tweaked the classifications,  re-organizing them to better match the school’s curriculum and class assignments.

I loved my years working in libraries,  but when the time came to retire I was ready to hang up my keys.  I joined the board of a literacy advocacy group,   played more tennis,  went to Wednesday matinees,  and lunched with friends.   But I still had a lot of free time.

Then one day I was having coffee with my friend Barbara who was still working as a busy lawyer while caring for an aging parent and trying nevertheless to find time for her many interests.   She complained that she  and her husband had too much stuff,  much they no longer used or needed –   clothes,  linens,  books,  papers,  photos,  files,  sports equipment,  kitchen gadgets,  things their kids had left behind,  and more.  They knew they wanted less clutter and more breathing room in their apartment,  but they didn’t have the time nor did they know where to begin.

Knowing  I was an organized type,  Barbara asked for my help.   Of course I said yes,  and I so enjoyed helping her and found it so rewarding,  I decided to make home organizing my second career..

I founded my company ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT,  created a website,  joined a trade association of fellow organizers,  and told friends to spread the word.

And I soon discovered that when people let you into their homes,  they often let you into their lives.   Once I had gained my clients’ trust,  they would share their stories,  their memories,  their guilty pleasures,  dare I say even some of their family secrets.

My elderly client Judy wanted help going through boxes and boxes  of old photos and memorabilia.   In one we found a packet of love letters an old beau had written to her over 60 years ago.  Judy asked me to listen as one by one she read them aloud.

So this new year resolve to get organized and declutter your own space,  you may be surprised by what you find!

Dana Susan Lehrman

Bless the Bread by
25
(27 Stories)

Prompted By The New Year

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A new year for many of us means a time to take stock,  to make resolutions,  or to once again start that illusive diet.  But for my son Noah it means the rock, jam-band Phish will be on tour at Madison Square Garden once again for several consecutive nights.

A few years ago the New Year’s holiday fell on a long weekend,  and my husband and I planned to get away.  Noah and five of his out-of-town,  Phish-loving  friends had tickets for the shows and we invited them to stay in our Manhattan apartment in our absence..

On Friday afternoon one of the group offered to go down to the supermarket to get groceries for dinner.  My son asked him to also pick up a challah,  and then as his friend was heading out the door,  Noah called after him,   “And tell them not to slice it.”

But once at the bakery counter the young man, not familiar with Jewish lexicon,  asked hesitantly,   ”May I have …  a chabad?”

The bakery guy looked puzzled until it dawned on him what was meant.  “Sliced or unsliced?”,  he asked.

This time there was no hesitation.  “Unsliced!”,  was the ready answer.

And so that Shabbat night six friends gathered around our dining table to light candles and bless the wine.  And, with his grandmother’s silver challah knife,  my son sliced …  the ciabatta.

Happy New Year one and all!

Dana Susan Lehrman

PARASITE and ROMA by
25
(27 Stories)

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I love the movies and try to see all the good stuff.

Last month I read the glowing reviews of PARASITE,  the new South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-Ho,  the Palme d’Or winner at Cannes.  And then when friend after friend after friend recommended it,  I was really intrigued and put it on top of my must-see list.

We had planned a weekend visit to out-of- town friends and they had suggestions for fun things to do.  I asked if they hadn’t seen PARASITE might we also see that one night,  and so we did.

And despite the rave reviews and all the enthusiastic recommendations from friends,  all four of us disliked it.

I understand the film’s condemnation of the classism and inequality that’s rampant,  not just in Korean society but  elsewhere in our sorry world.   And I grant that the violence in the film is not gratuitous,  and the acting is first-rate.   And I don’t demand happy endings in books or in films,  but might I get just a glimpse at redemption,  or a sliver of hope for some resolution?

On the other hand a film whose theme is also the disparity between the rich and the poor is the beautiful and wondrous ROMA, written and directed by the gifted Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron.  You may remember at last year’s Oscars ROMA garnered well-deserved awards for best foreign film, best direction and best cinematography.

If you must see PARASITE,  go ahead,  but then please watch, or watch again the magnificent ROMA and tell me what you think,

Dana Susan Lehrman

Third Degree Burn by
25
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Holidaze

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Last year at about this time I  burned the top of my foot.  It was very painful and looked pretty bad,  and so I went to the dermatologist.

He examined the wound and asked me how it had happened.   For some reason I was too embarrassed to tell the whole truth,  and so I was rather vague.

”Oh,  it was just a kitchen accident.”,   I said.

”Well”,  he said,  “whatever you did,  you certainly got yourself a nice little third degree burn.”

“Oh dear, what will you do to me?”,    I asked,  fearing a painful skin rebreeding procedure.

“I will tell you that next Hannukah when you’re frying latkes,  you should wear your shoes.”,  he said.

How did he know?

Dana Susan Lehrman

 

Early Thanksgiving by
25
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Holidaze

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As I was preparing for Thanksgiving last month I thought about a Thanksgiving we celebrated several  seasons ago.

That year as  November approached  I fretted over the many regrets I’d gotten in the past to my Thanksgiving invitations.

One of my cousins and his family usually celebrated with his in-laws;  another often went to an out-of-town brother;  my husband’s young relatives liked to make travel plans around their kids’ school vacations; some told me they don’t like to drive in holiday traffic; and others seemed to be perpetually committed elsewhere.  So I decided to think outside the box.

Instead of celebrating on the traditional fourth Thursday of the month,  I invited family and friends to join us on the first Sunday in November for what I billed as “Early Thanksgiving”.  To my delight everyone said yes!

I told my son to make his special gravy,  and I asked my cousins to bring the beer and wine.  Then I went shopping for the turkey and the fixings,  remembering to get extra sides for the  vegetarians and the gluten-free folks,  and biscuits for our relatives who had asked to bring their dog.

Soon the big day arrived.  We ate and drank,  laughed and talked,  and gave thanks for all our blessings.

When the feast was over we all declared it the very best Thanksgiving ever!

POSTSCRIPT

A few days later I was back at the supermarket to pick up a few things and I noticed the aisles were still festooned with cardboard turkeys and pilgrim hats.  And I saw dozens of basters and aluminum roasting pans, and jumbo cans of yams and pumpkin pie filling still on the shelves.

I marched over to the customer service desk and confronted Nathan, the store manager.

”I think it’s high time you took down all those Thanksgiving decorations and took the holiday foods off the shelves!”,  I announced smugly.

Although usually a friendly and loquacious guy,  Nathan just stared at me,  his mouth slightly agape as I turned on my heel and marched out of the store.

I was a block from home when it hit me.  Although we had celebrated on the previous Sunday and I was in a post-holiday mindset,  the rest of the country would be celebrating on the fourth Thursday of the month – still three weeks away.

I walked back to the store and apologized to Nathan.  He was thankful.

Dana Susan Lehrman

My Cousin Rick by
25
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Cousins

/ Stories

We were shocked some months ago to learn of the sudden death of my cousin Rick at age 66.  The family gathered in Rochester where Rick had lived, and several of us spoke at his moving memorial service.

Since childhood my redheaded cousin had suffered a debilitating mental illness.  His devoted parents Mary June and Milton did all they could to see that Rick had the best care,  and his last years were spent as a resident at the Rochester Psychiatric Center.

Every year on his birthday and holidays I sent Rick cards and gifts.  In response he never failed to send me a sweet thank-you note,  written in his child-like,  labored hand.

I last saw my cousin when I visited him at RPC. seven or eight years ago,  and I was touched by his recall of family relationships and his vivid memory of a cousin’s wedding we had both attended years before.  At that last RPC visit Rick was obviously so glad to see me,  I much regretted not visiting more often.

After my aunt and uncle died,  the responsibility for Rick’s care fell to his sister Kathy.  By then his health had been further compromised by physical ailments,  and although Kathy and her husband Mal lived in Maryland,  they visited Rick as often as they could and spoke regularly with his treatment team.

Yet it wasn’t until my own sister became severely disabled that I fully understood the heartache Mary June,  Milton and Kathy must have felt all those years watching the emotional and physical decline of my once robust cousin.

But thankfully after Rick’s death we found unexpected comfort from his Rochester caregivers.  Stories they shared at the memorial service helped us realize that Rick had forged deeper and more meaningful relationships with the staff and his fellow patients than we had imagined,  and that his life had been far richer than we had dared hope.

Rick loved boxing and I now see him as a fighter of sorts himself,  battling his own demons every day.  One of Rick’s heroes,  Muhammad Ali once spoke of the inner battles we all wage.

”The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines,  in the gym,  and out there on the road,  long before I dance under those lights.”

Rest in peace,  Redhead.

Dana Susan Lehrman

 

 

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