“What’s next for you, Jim ?”

I’ve heard this question a lot lately, thanks to my now-official state of post-bookstore managerial duties. Ironically, after all the emotions and cocktails yesterday, I went into the store this morning to unhook the two cable boxes, which I then brought to the Bright House offices on Curry Ford Road. That’s the kinda guy I am– who in their right mind would even dream of bringing a car to that traffic-choked neighborhood? But I did; also, it saved me from having to meet the cable guy in person at the store– you know how uncertain THEIR windows of opportunity can be. And I have a life to live.

Speaking of which, here’s what I have planned:

1. Ring  up Tallahassee and tap into the abundance of unemployment funds they offer. Why not? We pay enough taxes; though the amount they give you is nothing to retire on, it provides a buffer. And I’m in very good company– the best-dressed people line up at the unemployment agencies! (It’s the latest thing in corporate chic.)

2. Finish my stories. Some of you are privy to my stories, and some are not. For years I have been working on a collection of shorts based on my early 1960’s experiences in Italian Catholic Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Everyone I ever met from birth through 1965 stars in them– family, friends, lunatics up on the Avenue– everyone. The lady in the bakery with the carefully-powdered goiter on her forehead; Mr. Gargiulo the fruit man with the permanent bend in his neck; Grandpa with the bastone; vomiting choir boys, mean dogs, the ladies in the beauty parlor… nobody is spared. These stories will propel me onto Oprah’s couch as one of her last guests, and I will be able to buy a house in Key West. Yes– I envision it. It will happen. One big editor has already seen them, and ALMOST loved them !!

3. Go to the beach. I haven’t been down the ocean in years. Key West doesn’t count; the only ocean there is for tourists. The rest of us avoid it. Maybe I will go to the naturel  beach over at Playa Linda. Sssh! But I don’t have wrinkles at my age, nor do I want any, so I will enshroud myself in protective towels. I won’t look like a healthy, middle-aged man strolling the shore; I will look like Helena scanning the horizon as she awaits the ships from Tarsus.

4. Paint. I used to paint a lot when I was younger; my father showed me how, and then I took some classes in college. Remember, Carol? Remember the life-sized nude study that I had to paint? The canvas blew off the top of the taxicab on the Gowanus and I had to retrieve it– with the meter running!! The hairstyle made my subject look like Patty Duke circa 1963– and it was a man! What a class that was– all those young Hadassah lovelies, and me. And when my teacher saw my oil painting of some gnarled trees backed by a sunset, she said “maybe you can get a job painting landscapes for Woolworth’s.” Bitch. Just because she had one painting in a gallery somewhere.

 5. Clean and organize. I’m not happy unless all the sheets and towels in the linen closet are arranged by color, pattern, warp, and woof. It’s nice to be able to look in there and know that at least one thing on Earth is as it should be. And I also have to replace all the baseboards, and paint the entire house.  And plant vegetables and herbs. And get ready for an onslaught of company this year, The Year of the Visitors: Michael; Carol and Matt; Sammy; Matthew; and Nicola from Italy. God forbid they should have to do without baseboards!

6. Dust off the resume. I haven’t used it in many, MANY years– never had to! Remember in that book Sheila Levine Is Dead And Living In New York?  Sheila didn’t get her job through the New York Times– she got it through Rose Lehman’s sister! That’s how I always got my jobs– through knowing someone. As a result, my time-warped resume has things on it like “assisted Moses with parting of Red Sea.”  “Escorted Marie Antoinette up the scaffold.”  “Helped Mr. Roosevelt forge the New Deal, even though Eleanor tried to take all the credit.”  It’s time for an update, don’t you think?

 7. Etc. This is what I’m most afraid of, because, in the past, etc. has consisted of roaming the house in tired pajamas; checking eMail every five minutes; opening the refrigerator every three minutes; drinking coffee all day; staying up all night reading mangy copies of Mildred Pierce and The Nun’s Story; driving to small towns and browsing through the petrified offerings in the local five and ten cent stores; and more! Etc. is the most fun of all, though guilt usually lets me indulge for just a few days. We shall see… but I do have this very clear, very good feeling that I’ll be on Oprah’s couch in a few months… stay tuned!


12 responses

  1. 8. Come on out to Idaho for a visit~ nobody wears white sheets or burn crosses anymore and lynch mob’s are a thing of the past….almost!
    Enjoy your new adventures, for adventures you will have!

  2. Tell Oprah hi for me, and tell her I’m working hard on my novel; she should keep the seat on the couch warm for me. Love you, Bro. Am sure your new life will be as fabulous as you are.

  3. Maybe we can finally open that card store/disco we always talked about.

    When I come to visit we can sit, not talk to each other and cut images out of magazines for decoupage that will never happen! We can also knit, crochet, listen to Enya, paint, kvetch, eat and drink. I may never leave!


  4. Jimmy, your “time-warped” resume descriptions are priceless. People will PAY for this kind of humor!!!
    (This is a HINT to any publisher or agent reading Jimmy’s blog who needs great authors like our Mr. Crescitelli.)

  5. Oh Jimmy, the image of you wandering around Playalinda dressed like Gloria Swanson (I know, it was Helen of Troy, but I think you look more like Gloria Swanson) is one I hope I see one day.

    You’ll have all these adventures, and then more! If I may be so bold as to offer some advice as an Official Unemployed Person, it would be to cherish this time as a chance to re-order not just the linen closet but your whole person. Get rid of all the old habits or attitudes that you just fell into for convenience, because they fit your former life.

    I think this just happens naturally, without you having to make any conscious effort, so forget the advice part.

    Just be assured that it’s a wonderful opportunity to morph into the Jimmy you’ve Always Wanted To Be. At least, that’s what it’s been for me. I’ve enjoyed being you, Jimmy. Especially when we go to Playalinda…

  6. For petes sake, go get the unemployment. As a self-employed person, I pay hundreds of dollars a month to unemployment. But also as a self-employed person I can’t fire myself and collect it. Someone I know…go use it! Best wishes on any new ventures. I can’t believe I called on the very last day to order some books. Stupid me! Bill

  7. Hey Jim – I was sorry to hear about UrbanThink!
    closing. You were a wonderful host for my event
    back in October, even though you were in the midst of closing the Children’s Book store. I appreciate that you moved the event rather than canceling it.
    I remember you thanking me for being so gracious
    to the Nanny who had me do a personal reading to
    her child with no intention of buying the book.
    I wish you much success with your writing. I’ve
    enjoyed reading your blog. If you offer writing services please get in touch with me. ~ Kathy

  8. Jimmy —
    Opportunities don’t often come “planned” – I can
    remember having to move outside my comfort zone when
    I “changed” jobs — other friends say the same thing.
    I’m betting this will open doors – and a year from now you’ll wish you’d done this sooner

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