Teeny Tiny Triumphs

You may have noticed that I find alliteration appealing. Too true!

But the bigger news is I COOKED TWO MEALS yesterday. As in preheated the oven, chopped some broccoli and cauliflower (but bought precut onions – I’m not that ambitious) and made a sweet potato soup (so-so) and a dish with the aforementioned vegetables that included a sauce with cashews (good for dopamine). This one was also not scrumptious but you’re missing the point. I got off my (aching) behind and cooked. And (sound of blaring trumpets please) I also did a bit of knitting. Yay me!

Some friends suggested that, now that I’m over the hump, I will be preparing splendid repasts as if Ina and Julia were expected for dinner. “See, you did it,” they say. “Now that wasn’t so hard was it?” If I merely pushed myself a little bit more, I’d have these apathy and lethargy things licked, they think.

The American Parkinson’s Disease Association defines apathy as not feeling sad or despondent, but simply lacking interest in doing the things that one formerly found fulfilling. I have a rather odd, love/hate relationship to cooking to begin with. One aspect of my culinary life that I particularly hate is shopping. It doesn’t matter if it’s Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or a middle-of-the-road store like Stop and Shop. So Andi, you’re asking, why don’t you order online and have it delivered? You can guess what’s coming. I hate that (perusing groceries online) even more than going to the actual store.

What prompted the sudden jolt of energy that led me into my kitchen? Truth is, there wasn’t one. I simply tired of takeout. Not to mention the expense. By now, I’ve procured meals from every purveyor in the neighborhood and I actually miss my own cooking, which is pretty, pretty good, recent disappointments notwithstanding.

So, chopping veggies? For the birds. Organizing the herbs and spices? Ditto. Mixing and stirring and assembling ingredients? Not for me. Here’s what I do like about cooking: Imagining how a dish will taste. Finalizing my recipe selections. And, of course, consuming the prepared meal. And after months in which hand rarely gripped knife, with Herculean effort, I shopped and then I cooked, and then I ate. Then I collapsed.

So I won’t be my own personal caterer every day. So what? Our new friend apathy has crashed the party. Should I allow him a perch on the bookshelf, where he stands guard, cackling at my inability to fend him off? (Translation:, I give in and take a nap). Or shall I be the victor, banishing him from my kitchen with the knowledge that he lies in wait to watch me take twice as long as I used to to whip up a few stalks of broccoli that will appear on my plate alongside a shiny brick of salmon.

I remind myself that, when I just can’t seem to find the internal resources to cook, knit, or even work out ( critical in halting disease progression), I refuse to think of it as giving in to sloth. I’m resting and in so doing, I’m taking care of myself. I’m competing with no one for nothing. It’s just me and my kitchen tools or, on a really good day, my treasured knitting needles and nubby yarns, satisfying my creative urges on my own terms. I refuse to self-flagellate for napping when I need to, instead of forcing myself to get to work on that afghan or fix a fine dinner.

So if a well-intentioned friend tells you to just push yourself a little harder and you’ll be doing all the things you used to enjoy, just smile mysteriously and say “ Oh. I am.”


Yay, a new show that fits the bill, mood- and content-wise. It’s Fleishmann is in Trouble, from the book (read. enjoyed) by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, the brilliant, witty, insightful New York Times writer. If you like a good divorce/mid-life crisis show, check it out on Hulu.

French dressing and other news

First, I promised a report on my experiment in which the subject – that would be moi– departs her home under a cloud of circumstantial stress, which, she hypothesizes, plays a significant role in the activation of her Parkinson’s symptoms. Which is to say, the day before I left for vacation in France, you could have used my left leg to beat eggs for a soufflé.

As always, I dosed myself up with lorazepam about an hour before takeoff and slept almost across the entire Atlantic. We landed in Paris, my leg normal, meaning nary a twitch, tremor or stiff muscle, any pain, or “ the yuckies,” a term of non-endearment that I’ve given to an overall sensation of feeling unwell.

I continued to feel fairly healthy throughout my two week sojourn in my favorite country in the world.

See if you can guess how long it took for my symptoms to “kick in” on my left leg and other places too upon my return. Okay, I’ll just say it: I frequently experience literal pain in the butt. You laugh, but it’s seriously unfunny to me.

So I’d say about 35 hours into the return to my regular life, I was back in “Parkyland.”The experiment was a success, and the patient was miserable.

Let’s move on, shall we, to French fashion. Because even if you say you’re not much interested in what other people wear – or how you put yourself together to go out every day- it’s hard to avoid noticing how people look in this chic-est of cities.

First, let’s just dispatch les hommes in pretty short order. Not hard because they wear a sort of uniform: skinny dark blue pants, matching jacket, blue shirt open at the neck, and no tie. They’re as likely to be on a bicycle or motorbike as on foot. And they’re pretty much all gorgeous, no matter the age. I saw some plenty swell-looking dudes in their eighties. Just sayin.’

I paid little attention to the younger women. I’ll just report that I observed many an exposed midriff.

But it’s the big game we’re after. I’m speaking of what the French refer to as “women of a certain age,” Because I’m now one. And I gotta say I’m feeling kind of frumpy lately. Frumpy and dumpy.

But if change is afoot, I will need some role models. Like a birder watching for the elusive California condor, I was ever on the lookout for the 65 plus Parisienne in possession of that je ne sais quoi.

I read somewhere before my trip that if you want to look like a bona fide French dame, you’ll require:

A wardrobe comsisting of mostly neutrals- your various shades of gray, beige, navy, and of course the perennial and ubiquitous black. In order to achieve peak Parisienne-ness, you must dress monochromatically. A red top and navy pants? Sacre bleu!

Here’s one of my favorite finds. I call her “fifty shades of white.” She’s casual and simple yet stunning.

White sneakers. When did these morph from the tell-tale mark of a clueless tourist to a symbol of high style?

A jean jacket. I saw these worn over print dresses, skirt/blouse outfits, and, well, pretty much everything.

And of course it wouldn’t be Paris without scarves. One simply must. When I was there twenty years ago I purchased a gorgeous swath of silk. In fact, here it is.

I wore it every day on that trip, somehow having figured out how to wrap and tie it just so. But as soon as I returned home, that knowledge dissipated into the ether like so much Chanel Number 5. It took me a long time to get my scarf mojo back.

Herewith my additions to French chic:

A tailored jacket in, say, tweed or pinstripes, worn with jeans

Clothes that are worn neatly and fit well

Here are two well-turned-out women whose faces show some lived experience;

A quality handbag (optional). Those are tres expensive.

A good haircut. This probably also means frequent salon appointments and not waiting until your roots are three inches long and you just can’t stand them any more, like some people I know. So, I guess this French-woman thing could get a little bit costly,

So you now have a pretty good picture of the classic elegant Parisienne and what it takes to be her. BUT there’s something a bit off about this picture. Where is color? Where are prints? Where the hell is fun?

I have two friends who are the most creative dressers I know. They put together outfits with ingenuity and style and they always look terrific. Sometimes they might even do the classic French look. But mainly they look like themselves, manifesting whatever they feel like that day.

So here’s the plan. I’ll definitely purge my closets of those unflattering skirts that I seem intent on pairing with unflattering, ill-fitting tops. Some days I’ll go “the full French” and others I might be all funky boho. The main thing is it’s gotta flatter, fit, and be neat. Oh and make me feel like I look like a million euros.

I’ll give the last word to Melissa Fredette whose post I found on Facebook :

I snuck this picture of this AMAZING goddess of a woman who couldn’t have been less than 75 in her bell bottom jeans, a vest with snakes on it, a red lip (but of course) and a killer coat. My friend and I couldn’t take our eyes off of her and I wish I had snuck a picture of her from the front as well because she is fierce. And you know she is sporting some sexy as hell underthings.


Coton Doux

Pretending to be French in Coton Doux

There were two Coton Doux stores in the Marais. They sell fantastically patterned button-down cotton shirts. I only bought two but some day, who knows, I may just get me some more. And they make you look and feel tres Francaise. Here’s their nice website.

Carla Rockmore

Carla, the world’s most down-to-earth stylist, doesn’t tell you what to wear. She helps you figure out how to wear what you’ve got. She’s funny and charming and a hoot to watch. Classic Parisienne is not her thing by the way.

But you look so good.

That’s the second most frequent comment I hear after my revelation that I have Parkinson’s, the first being “I’m so sorry to hear that.”

And it’s true, I appear to be just fine. My gait looks fairly normal, sprightly even, though I occasionally veer off into a wall. I manage to keep up with my unimpaired friends when we walk together, clocking in at a respectable three miles an hour. I don’t twitch or tremor while upright, and my tremors thus far are largely confined to my left leg, so you’d only be able to observe my involuntary movements if you were under the table, in which case you’d be either a dog or cat, or some sort of twitchaphile, and hey, give me a call.

But goddammit, those twitches hurt. (Some people’s don’t. I’m not some people.) Sometimes I wish the pain would announce itself with, say, 76 trombones for all to hear, sparing me the “How are you doing?” queries. My pain’s behavior is more like the poet Carl Sandburg’s fog, arriving on “little cat feet.”

Though really, don’t stop asking, because we like to know you care and maybe don’t really mind the extra attention, our protestations to the contrary.

And please don’t say (or at least not to me) “I get it. It’s one day at a time.”! I want to scream “No! It’s one hour at a time!” Or sometimes “one minute at a time!” This pain can cycle through my body at the speed of a Japanese bullet train, giving me ten minutes free of pain “punished” by twelve of an ache that courses through me to the point where all I can think about is “Bed. Need. Now.”

I think we’ve had quite enough pain talk for now so here’s a total non sequitur. I’ve come up with a commercial venture I’m calling Mad Libs for Seniors. Sample: When I (verb) too much, I need to (verb) a (noun). And try this one: It took me (number) (plural noun) to (verb) last night after which I (verb) straight to (noun).

Oops, I guess those weren’t true non sequiturs since they could be construed as having to do with pain. Sorreeeee.

Light bulb! Yes, another potential money-maker. Someone needs to invent something I’ll call Pain Pads (placeholder name). They’d look like tiny round bandaids but they’d contain sensors that can identify your degree of pain and display it as a lit up dot for all to see. Pink could signify mild discomfort, yellow means “please don’t talk to me,” and red tells the world “Bring me drugs. Immediately.”

You could put an assortment all over your body for a night on the town. The pain arrives, as you knew it would, and your Pain Pads activate, colorfully flashing and pulsing and voila! You’re a human disco ball! (This idea might need some work.)

Back in TWO weeks -new schedule, we’re going bi-weekly – in case you missed that bit of information).



I have a soft spot for the 1962 movie musical, The Music Man because….I was in it! (See above reference to “76 trombones,” song from the show). I was cast as Winthrop, the little boy with a lisp, at the Camp Mataponi SENIOR Big Show, as a mere Junior. (Played by young Ronnie Howard in the movie.). SENIOR is all in caps to recognize that to be a Junior in the Senior Big Show was a Very Big Deal. What some counselor saw in me I have no idea but I loved performing, which I did for years, mainly at camp.

So go pop yourself some popcorn, chillax and enjoy an American classic! (Apologies in advance if it’s embarrassingly dated. I’ll confess I haven’t seen it in years.

I once made my daughter watch what I characterized as one of my favorite musicals, Carousel, and she walked out in disgust after about half an hour. That one definitely did not age well.)

The Music Man is available on Amazon Prime.


Update from your (mostly) faithful correspondent at

Moving and Shaking

Hello friends and followers,

I haven’t thrown in the laptop on the blog, which honestly is one of the most satisfying activities in my life right now, along with helping to plan my – how could it be – fiftieth college reunion.

But the weekly post has become a bit too high a hurdle. So I’ve decided to post biweekly instead of weekly. Did you know that biweekly means both every other week and twice a week? Look it up!

In this case it means the former. I’ll see you back here next Tuesday with a new post. Thanks for reading.