Wednesday, June 22, 2016

She's a no-BS American woman of a certain age—face to face with an Afghan war lord.



Deep in the wilds of Afghanistan, murderous war lord Hadjji Jalali Gullamdullah
was holding my DH, Ralph, prisoner.

He—Gullamdullah, not Ralph—stood six feet seven and then some. Weighed 350 pounds and then some. Had one eye (the left) and one leg (the right). A beard halfway down his chest. Wore traditional Afghan clothing—kameez shalwar—the loose tunic-like top over baggy pants. Topped off with a black turban and accessorized with an AK-47 and a dozen glowering Uzi-toting bodyguards.

He was accustomed to rabid Taliban fundamentalists, Qu'ran-spouting Al Qaeda fighters, thuggish poppy-growers and murderous drug smugglers but not to the fury of a menobleeped American female in the clutches of the worst mood swing in the history of the post-HRT era.

“Ralph better be all right,” I threatened.

Gullamdullah reached out and grabbed for my iPhone with his huge paw but I stepped back, danced out of his reach and hid the object of his desire deep in the folds of my burqa.

“I want to see him,” I snarled. “Now.”

With that, Gullamdullah took a step toward me. He didn’t care about Ralph, he didn’t care about me, all he wanted was the goddamn iPhone.

He reached for his AK-47. Pointed it straight at me.

Then he pulled the trigger.

Find out what happens next in The Chanel Caper.


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Monday, June 13, 2016

She remembers Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters

Blake Weston is a smart, savvy, no BS New Yorker.
Her husband, Ralph Marino, is a très James Bond ex-cop.


When Blake and Ralph, facing sixty, are forced by Ralph’s über-neurotic billionaire boss to work together to solve a murder—and save Ralph’s job—a minor skirmish turns into a major battle. And then...Well, let Blake tell you what happens next.

I left the apartment—with a slammed door for emphasis—and made my way to Julia’s. She’d been spending most of her time in her new fling’s downtown loft so I knew her apartment was empty. I let myself in with the key she had given me years before.

I flipped on the TV. Flipped it off. Wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge, inventoried the lo-cal, no cholesterol, zero trans-fat, gluten-free offerings and realized I wasn’t hungry. Considered breaking into Julia’s Ketel One but concluded that in my agitated state booze was the last thing I needed.

I went to the bedroom, thought about getting into bed but I was too angry with Ralph to sleep. If I were feeling generous (which I wasn’t) I suppose I could blame his NYPD training but being kept out of the loop and being treated on a “need to know” basis was getting old—and getting old was something I already knew too much about.

I was old enough for night sweats and morning stiffness. For Metamucil and Centrum Silver. For colonoscopies and cholesterol counts. For junk mail offering estate planning advice and good deals on burial plots.

I was old enough to remember the Pan Am Building, Bendel’s when it was at 10 West 57th Street, cash registers, getting up and crossing the room to change the channel, Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters.

I could even remember when “latte” was Italian for milk—not American for coffee.

I had survived blizzards and blackouts, subway series and subway strikes, Ronald Perelman and Ronald Reagan. I had reached the stage when I forgot names and phone numbers, book and movie titles, where I’d left my glasses, why I’d entered a room and what I was going to say next.

But I wasn’t that old.

I had kept up enough to know I was living in an age of e*trade and eharmony, podcasts and tweets, fuel cells, stem cells, sleeper cells and fat cells. I still had my marbles, my eyesight and my determination. I could conduct a conversation without drooling and get into the bathtub without a LifeAlert.

I also knew enough to ask for input when I needed it, so I called Julia.

“Working with Ralph is not going well,” I told her.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Women Over Fifty: Smart, Sexy Stylish or Invisible?

50+ women are usually perceived as

smart, sexy, stylish.

T or F?


At the age of 56 women become invisible. T or F?

Wearing clothes she's owned since Carrie went to the prom makes a woman sexy and stylish. T or F?

Poised somewhere between hip and a hip replacement, she is looking forward to her golden years with serenity. (Not Serenity.) T or F

A miniskirt, a red balconette bra and stilettos are the keys to reviving a fading TV career as a gourmet chef. T or F?

In Afghanistan what women want matters. T or F?

A knowledge of proofreading/copyediting can help solve a crime. T or F?

You can buy a genuine Chanel bag from a NYC sidewalk vendor. T or F?



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Tuesday, May 31, 2016


How To Write A Cozy Mystery Set In The Big Apple
Impossible!
Not at all.


Life in the city that never sleeps (population 8 million) is more like living in a small town than you might imagine. Lived at sidewalk level, the Big A is a series of neighborhoods with all the elements of everyday small-town life—including lovable and not-so-lovable quirky characters.

There are the almost-daily surprise meetings. Guess who I bumped into today?

Casual encounters occur regularly as you run into friends, colleagues past and present, and people you know less well but who qualify as more-than-just-acquaintances. There are the neighbors with whom you exchange small talk, the woman who works at the dry cleaner and knows which blouse is yours without having to look at the ticket, and your favorite checkout clerk at the nearest supermarket. Don't forget all the other familiar faces—the neighborhood doormen, nannies, joggers and dog walkers.

Add in: the advertising guru you met once at a party or the local politician you've run into two or three times at the hair stylist.

Among the Big Apple's 8 million citizens, suspects abound and the opportunities for meeting quirky characters expands accordingly.

Like:
Axl, the well-dressed friendly neighborhood drunk who sees—and remembers—more than you might imagine.

George Profett, the hypochondriac, billionaire-in-waiting who won't leave home without his hand sanitizer and blood pressure machine.

Renay Kennan, resplendent in red marabou and gold lamé, a girl from the back of beyond who made it all the way to Park Avenue and who might—or might not—have killed her about-to-be-ex-husband, the Wall Street banker who was in deep doo-doo with the feds.

The book is called MANHATTAN MADNESS and it's coming soon.

Meanwhile, for another Big Apple cozy:
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Buy at Amazon.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

e-Prescriptions: A lousy idea whose time has come.


New York State recently passed a law requiring ePrescriptions. In a display of commendable restraint, I will refrain from commenting on the number of our law makers currently under investigation and/or headed for jail. Instead, I will tell you what happened to me when I went mano a mano with the new system.

On Friday morning my doctor's office e'd a prescription for eyedrops in advance of minor eye surgery.

The assistant handling the paperwork wanted to know which drugstore I wanted to use. I wanted to use the least expensive one since I know from experience that in my neighborhood there can be a price difference of as much as 50% between pharmacies for the same drug. When I asked how much these drugs cost, she told me that she didn't know. She insisted I provide a pharmacy number so I had to take a guess.

Did I make a lucky guess? Or not?

I don't know because it is now Sunday and the pharmacy has neither called to alert me to pick up nor delivered the prescription. Was the prescription received? Was there an error in the doctor's office? A mix up at the pharmacy? Was there a computer glitch?

Calling seems to offer an opportunity for confusion since my name is a common one and I wasn't told the name of the eyedrops (or whether several different kinds of eyedrops were prescribed). Instead, I will call the doctor's office on Monday morning, find out what drugs were prescribed and, armed with a bit of information, contact the pharmacy.

What would happen if this Rx were urgent? Which, fortunately, it's not. Still, I have to wonder what would happen to a patient facing an urgent situation.

The proponents of e-prescribing contend that it prevents errors. Really? I have never once had an error in a prescription handed to me by a doctor and taken by me to a drugstore. No friend or family member has ever mentioned a prescription error and I have never read a newspaper, magazine or internet story about the scourge of prescription errors.

E-prescriptions are slower than written or printed prescriptions. I can't remember ever not receiving an Rx the same day I handed it to a pharmacist.

E-prescriptions infantilize the patient who is deprived of information and control. Kept in the dark by this opaque system, we are not clued in to the name of the drug, the number of different drugs if relevant, and, since we don't see the Rx, we have no way of knowing if the prescription delivered to us is, in fact, ours or has been correctly filled.

We have no way to compare prices and do not know how much the drug(s) will cost until we get the bill. Then and only then—surprise! surprise!—will we be allowed to participate in our own health care.

I have learned my lesson. The next time I need a prescription, I will insist the doctor write down the name(s) of the drug. I would advise other patients to take the same precaution.

How patients will be able find out the price of a drug before designating a pharmacy is a significant unaddressed issue. When did anyone anywhere in the world ever buy something without knowing the price in advance?

Welcome to medicine, twenty-first-century-style.

If all patients are forced into this system, why aren't all pharmacies forced to charge identical prices? Where were patient advocates and consumer advocates when New York State passed this inefficient and potentially health-threatening law? Where is the company like Amazon that will disrupt this entire system by offering transparent prices and quick, reliable delivery?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Who Loves You, Baby?
You're Sure?


There are people who do what they say they’re going to do and people who don’t. The first are gems and you will forgive their cranky moments, lousy taste in clothes/music/tv/movies and inability to tell Warhol from Watteau because they are reliable and you know you can count on them.

Headache? They’re there with the aspirin.
Bad breakup? They’re the shoulder you cry on.
Fired, laid off, downsized? They’re there with comfort and contacts who will help you find the job you need.


Then there are The You-Know-Who's They love you, love your book, wouldn’t miss your opening/party/reading for anything, promise to write a glowing review, will call their best friends Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian who are just dying to help promote your book/movie/groovy new line of kitchen utensils.

But.

Don’t hold your breath because they are not gonna do whatever it is they promised on the Bible/the Qu'ran/their favorite pair of Nikes to do. They’re the love-you-and-leave-you-in-the-lurch buddies, the bff’s we all know and even like—but know we can’t depend on.


When was the last time you were let down by someone you thought you knew? Or have you learned to separate the Do-ers from the You-Know-Who's?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Dept of Never Too Late

Hundred-and-six-year-old woman dances with the Pres.
Hundred-year-old teaches math.
Ninety-one year old beats Rock ’n' Roll marathon record in California. 

So what does that have to do with our eighty year old Uncle Robert?


Uncle Robert was a college professor who taught a subject so esoteric no one in the family could figure out what the hell it was even about. Underneath his dignified professorial exterior, Robert had always dreamed of being a writer, a dream he never abandoned despite decades of rejection. No publisher existed who had failed to reject Robert’s efforts—at least once and usually more than once.

Until, at eighty, Robert sold a novel set in the American South. Old trees dripping with Spanish moss, languid days and even more languid nights, steamy weather and steamy sex. Voilà, after decades of trying (and failing), Robert had a publisher. He was thrilled in his professorial way. Even more thrilled when his book took off and sold—and the publisher signed him up for more.

“I have to have a couple of glasses of wine before I can write the sex scenes,” he confided, letting me in on the secret techniques of a successful author.

Everyone was happy but the question was, what would Aunt Fanny, Robert’s hundred-year-old mother think?

Worried about the delicate sensibilities of an elderly woman, everyone tip-toed around the subject until, finally, Aunt Fanny herself spoke up and cleared away the confusion: “Thank God he’s finally making some money."

Conclusion #1: Think different. Forget stereotypes.
Conclusion #2: Never, ever give up.

Have you ever been surprised by someone you thought you knew well? Were you indulging in stereotypes? Have you ever given up on something—or someone? Do you regret it? Or not? Do share!