Saturday, October 13, 2012

I had two rather odd dreams the other night, and I invite anyone to give me an interpretation.  They both deal with death, though no one in my immediate circle is contemplating it.


In the first dream, I was being executed for murder.  This was odd since I am not the type.  It was, of course, a murder that I hadn’t committed, but I had been duly tried and sentenced, and there I was strapped to a table while the authorities were shooting voltage through me.  The problem was that I didn’t die, and they kept on trying, and I kept asking if there wasn’t a point at which they accepted that I wasn’t meant to die and let me go.


Then I woke up and didn’t dare go back to sleep.  But I did anyway and dreamt that I was now in business school.  This was as unlikely a venue for me as the execution chamber, but there I was, and my assignment was to write a letter to a customer.  The letter I wrote was as follows:


Dear Mr. Twitchell.  Thank you for your continuing loyalty to Deep Water Cruise Lines.  Let me assure you that repairs to the railing have been made, and accidents like the unfortunate loss of Mrs. Twitchell off Key West are not likely to reoccur.  Best wishes to you and the new Mrs. Twitchell, and we look forward to hosting you again in February.


As I said, I welcome any and all interpretations.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Well, it seems I was wrong about Queen Elizabeth.  I did receive a reply in the form of a letter from a lady-in-waiting at Balmoral Castle thanking me for my letter.  Apparently, Her Majesty was amused.


In addition to corresponding with queens and ladies-in-waiting, I have jumped into the audio book market by releasing a novella that I wrote a few years ago as a two-hour CD.  It’s entitled “Gordon,” and it’s a fable for adults, “Wickedly Funny.”  Following is the promotional copy from the back of the album, and it may interest you:


 Gordon Herzog’s wife is divorcing him, his girlfriend is callous to his emotional needs, his secretary is disrespectful, and his boss is sleazy.  Gordon despises his own career, drinks too much, is going to pot physically…..and then something bad happens.

GORDON is a fable about a man in mid life with one leg on Madison Avenue, the other in trendy, creative Westport, Conn., and both knee-deep in trouble.  But there is nothing unique about his situation…so why does what happens next happen?  But, undeniably, it does.

You will scorn and despise, pity and even love Gordon as you share his frustration and pain, if not necessarily his approach to solving his very unusual problem.  And you will laugh.

GORDON is a mystery (watch out for the heavy language) a satire, and a fast-paced adventure of a man battling against…well, you’ll have to decide for yourself.


At this point, the only source for “Gordon” is me.  Soon I hope to have it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but that will take some time.  You can obtain a copy by sending your name and address along with a check for $16 to:

Julian Padowicz, 1397 Hope Street, Stamford, CT 06907.




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Those of you who read a recent posting of mine regarding a letter to Queen Elizabeth will
understand the eagerness with which I watched her face during the playing of
“God Save the Queen” at the recent opening ceremonies for the Olympics. Perhaps, like me, you were also watching for any slight sign of amusement.
I saw none. Like her oft quoted great grandmother, Elizabeth was not amused. From this I
conclude that either the queen or her secretaries do not have a sense of humor.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Last Sunday, my wife and I had the long anticipated pleasure of a visit from some relatives
of mine, whom I had never met, from Israel. Nechama Padovitz is the widow of Marek, who was the son of my father’s brother. Since my father died when I was a year old, I’ve never known anyone from that side of my family, hence the anticipation. Accompanying Nechama to Stamford were her son, Amiri, his wife, and their two children.

They are all lovely people and their short visit was lovely as well, despite th deluge of rain and the crahing thunder outside. But what was most interesting was the story they brought us:

You see, I’ve always been curious as to why my Jewish heritage should have as Polish a name
as Padowicz. In Polish the name implies someone who comes from Padua, Italy, the way the name Londoner implies origins in London. Well, according to Cousin Amiri, one of our ancestors was a physician named Ezra who was indeed living in Padua. And one day Dr. Ezra was called to attend a patient named Napoleon Bonaparte.

What Napoleon’s complaint was is lost to posterity, but it seems that Ancestor Ezra did such a great job dealing with it that the emperor made him his personal physician and invited him along on his visit to Moscow.

As we all know, Napoleon had not been invited to Moscow, and he did not find himself particularly welcome there so he soon embarked on a trip home. And Grandpap Ezra, who must have known something about Russian winters that Napoleon didn’t, opted out of the trip back and stayed behind somewhere in Russia.

There he begat more Ezras until the Tzar passed an edict that all Jewish boys, except the eldest in any family, had to serve in the Tzar’s army. Life in the Tzar’s army was no bed of roses for Jewish boys since they were sent into battle ahead of their brothers-in-arms so that the enemy’s cannon would shoot their wad against them, giving those brohers-in-arms a chance to advance while the cannon were being re-loaded. This is known as “cannon fodder.”

And, as it happened, one of Dr. Ezra’s descendent's wife gave birth to two sons. So in order to protect the second one, the father registered him not as an Ezra, but under a name he made up, the totally Slavic, Padowicz. And so it turns out that I and my children are descended from Napoleon’s personal physician, a man smart enough to let Napoleon start home from Moscow without him.....unless, of course Mrs. Dr. Ezra had a secret affair with her husband's illustrious patient.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I sent the
following letter to Queen Elizabeth:

Following is a story your Majesty may find amusing, particularly as it
involves her late father.
In the summer of 1941 I was a nine-year-old Jewish escapee from the
Holocaust. The year before, my mother
and I had escaped from occupied Poland in rather dramatic fashion, the event
subsequently recounted in a number of books, and were living in New York with
my uncle, the artist Arthur Szyk, known to your Majesty’s parents.
Sent to summer camp in Massachusetts to learn the language and become
Americanized, I learned to sing the British national anthem which we did in
support of the struggle your country was waging at the time. And, much to my satisfaction, I found that I
understood almost all the words. I even
realized that “reign” couldn’t possibly mean “rain.”
Where I did have to do some speculation, however, was in the line, “Send
him victorious, happy, and glorious.”
Neither “victorious” nor “glorious” were words I had yet
encountered. But I knew about Queen Victoria, and it did not take a genius
to realize that “Victorious” must be the masculine form of the same given name.
Further reasoning led to the conclusion that this Victorious must be a historical figure, some Lancelot who had, most
likely, saved Britain once and was being called on to come to the aid of the
beleaguered king. The same went for Glorious, and, to this day, I visualize
King George on his throne, flanked by the heroic Victorious and Glorious
resplendent in their armor.
And as for Happy, well every
nine-year-old knew him to be one of the Seven Dwarfs, and any nation that drew
its inspiration from Disney as well as history could not be conquered by the
likes of Hitler.
Most sincerely,
Julian Padowicz

I have no idea whether the queen has seen or ever will see my letter. But I will watch closely any future television of her majesty attending to the playing of “God Save the Queen” for
any signs of her experiencing difficulty maintaining her composure.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Last week my
wife, Donna, and I flew to California to help our youngest grandchild, Nash,
turn two. On the airplane and in the
terminals, as I have for the past six years, I paid close attention to what the
other passengers were reading in the hope that one of them would be reading one
of my books.
In my mind I
carry a scenario in which I ask the person how they enjoyed the book and then
reveal that I am its author. They are impressed,
I sign their book, and we carry on a conversation until the flight attendant
tells me to get back in my seat and buckle up.
Of course it
hasn’t happened yet, outside my own mind.
But last Friday morning, as I was on the homeward leg of my Hope Street
run, a car came to a stop beside me and the window opened. I expected to be asked directions to the
Merritt Parkway.
“I’m so glad
I finally ran into you,” said the attractive woman at the wheel. “I’ve been carrying your books around in the
car for weeks, hoping to run into you, so you could sign them.” It appears that I had accosted her some time
earlier, as she minded her own business at a stop sign, and forced my flier on
her. She had gone ahead and ordered two
books from Amazon and had been hoping to run into me ever since.
As she dug
for the books in the back seat, I was sure they would be “Mother and Me” and “A
Ship in the Harbor,” the first two of my three Holocaust memoirs. I was wrong.
The top book of the two she hauled out was the novel, “Writer’s
I signed it
but, as I prepared to sign what I assumed to be the sequel, “The Best Sunset in
Venice,” I discovered it to be a second copy of “Writer’s Block.” I asked why she had two copies, and she said
she had loved the book so much that she had ordered a second copy for a
friend. As I wrote something in the
books, I mentioned that there was a sequel entitled “The Best Sunset in
Venice.” She said she would order a copy
right away.
I told her
that, if she gave me a ride to my house, only a couple hundred yards away, I
could sell her a copy and even offer her a cup of instant coffee. She agreed, and we spent the next hour
chatting about the characters in the book and the characters in our lives. It was really a very special experience and
one of the very special benefits of being an author.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I have some friends to keep
me company on my runs now. You probably won’t
see them if you drive by, though some have.
There is Kip, a retired English professor turned author (No, he isn’t
me) whose bread always manages to land with the jam side down against the
floor. He’s the poster boy for bad
karma, some of it self inflicted, some his parents’ doing. His hero-worshiping father named him Adolf or
his non-nurturing mother sent him to boarding school at the age of seven.

There’s Kip’s wife, the
delectable sculptress Amanda who is creative and creatively accident
prone. In Barcelona
she had an allergic reaction to something that swelled her face to the point
that she didn’t resemble her passport photo and they couldn’t leave Spain. Or, when they got back to Venice, Massachusetts,
her late, abusive husband, Scott turned out to not be as “late” as she had
claimed, sending Kip looking for a gun and making her a bigamist. Then there’s the urbane Lill, recognized as
the finest cook and most gracious hostess in all of Venice, whom Kip almost
married and whom he sometimes wonders if he shouldn’t have.

And you probably won’t find Venice, Massachusetts
on your AAA road atlas either, though some have. It’s on the coast and, his first summer there,
Kip was invited to sail down to Florida
in November weather on a sailboat of dubious seaworthiness with a captain no
one else would sail with. Because of the
evening he had spent with the man’s wife in a hot tub and the things she had
told and shown him, he felt obliged to go.
That really came about as a result of the murder he had wandered into a
few nights earlier. He had really come
to Venice to write The Great American Novel.

Then there’s Kip’s boarding
school roommate, Alex, who shows up on their doorstep and reminds him of things
better left forgotten. But that doesn’t
happen till book four.

Book one is Writer’s Block in which Kip meets
Amanda, is smitten, and decides to quit his teaching job, burn his rickety
bridges, settle in Venice, and turn his lemon of a life into the Great American
Novel. Only, as I said, Kip’s bread
tends to land jam side down and the new writer and the old writing teacher
inside him aren’t on the same page. The
Great American Novel collapses of its own ponderous weight. It’s while he drifts rudderless in this new
community that he wanders into a murder, the lady’s hot tub, and the boat ride
invitation. Critics have called Writer’s Block “hilarious”, “memorable”,
“richly layered”, and “great reading.” (See for more reviews.)

The Best Sunset in Venice is where the “deceased” Scott shows up, where a
former Green Beret befriends Kip, where a woman colonel in the Israeli army
gives him a therapeutic massage, and where Amanda lets her hair down after too
much Lagavulin Scotch.

In A Scandal in Venice Kip is asked to provide a father figure to an
unfortunate teenager and finds that even the best laid plans…… Amanda, meanwhile, decides to reconcile Kip
with his memory of his departed, non-nurturing mother, and finds Anna a formidable
in-law even in death. Alexander’s Part-time Band, still in my
computer, is where Kip’s boarding school roommate shows up, while Amanda joins
a liberal church and Kip is made to doubt his writing ability.

Actually, I’ve been told
that, if you’ve read at least one of the books, then you will see my friends if you pass us on Hope Street or Ponus Ridge. Kip is the one with the Vandyke, which he
insists is not a goatee, since a goatee comes with a mustache. The willowy Amanda wears her brown hair in
braids tied off with one brown ribbon and one green one to match her one brown
eye and one green one. Silver-haired Lill,
with her classy bearing and impeccable grooming you can’t mistake for anyone
else. Alex is very large. There is also Doris, the librarian without a
neck, who claims she has a black belt in the Kama Sutra, Frank, the boat
builder, Lorna Bliss, president of Amanda’s church, and Kip’s old friend Vera. I’m the one with the baseball cap and the
droopy mustache.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Some twenty
years ago I was invited to play in a mixed doubles tennis tournament at a
friend’s club. My partner was a lady
named Mimi, and Mimi turned out to be
a sex therapist.
between matches, Mimi and I discussed, among other things, the sexual mores of
the younger generation. I told her what
I had observed on the campus of my daughter’s college, and Mimi told me about a
niece’s wedding that she had recently attended.
It seemed
that a few minutes before the ceremony began, Mimi was alone with her niece
doing the things that aunties do with needle and thread and safety pins at a
time like this when her niece said, “Auntie Mimi, I am so lucky to have an aunt
who is a sex therapist. Please tell me
what I need to know.”
For a few
seconds my friend pondered what she might say to her niece on the subject of
sex, three minutes before she was to walk down the aisle. Finally she came up with, “Maintain a sense
of humor at all times.”
The moment I
heard this, I realized that it was a great philosophy not only for the perils
of sex, but for the minefield that is marriage in general. It was too late to apply this newfound wisdom
to my first and second marriages, but it’s done wonders for the current one.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Last night
we had our first out-doors-grilled hamburgers of the season. Some years ago Donna bought an electric meat
grinder and now grinds her own hamburger.
That way we can be reasonably sure that it contains none of the
contaminants that make eating rare hamburger hazardous. And I like my hamburger rare.
I do make a
mean hamburger, but nothing like the ones I used to eat at a place called “Primeburger”
on New York’s Madison Avenue. I don’t
know what cut of meat they used or what they did to it, but it was wonderful
and, back in the 1960’s when I was in my 30’s and working in New York, I would
frequently have my lunch there.
There were
seats at the counter, and I can’t remember whether there were tables in back or
not, but at the front there were maybe twenty chairs set against the wall with
little attached trays like the ones they have on a high chairs. The tray would swing out for you to sit down,
then you could pull it closed and create a nice eating surface for yourself. And this was where I preferred to sit. Sometimes I’d have to wait for an empty
chair, but the wait was not long and well worth it.
One day,
when I came in, there was an empty chair beside two older ladies, one of whom was
very attractive and looked extremely familiar.
Immediately, sirens went off inside my head. Not recognizing people I should recognize and
being chided for it has been a life-long affliction of mine. Aunts and cousins have had a field day
embarrassing me publicly for this failing.
And this attractive, well dressed lady, I decided, must be one of my
mother’s New York friends. I commuted
from Connecticut, but my widowed mother had moved from Philadelphia to New York
a few years earlier and often held parties to which my then wife and I were
sometimes invited.
This woman,
however, was more familiar than just someone I was introduced to at a party. She was someone I saw repeatedly and, clearly,
I should know her and acknowledge her with
a hearty greeting and an embrace. If I
ignored her, she would certainly recognize me, have her feelings hurt, and I
would not hear the end of my social faux pas. I approached cautiously, thumbing through my
mental Rolodex of Mother’s acquaintances.
Were we on a first name basis? Should
I ask about her husband or would that get me into further complications?
The woman looked
up at me, recognition in her eyes, and I knew that I was, again, in trouble. Then, in a baritone voice that was surprising
but not unfamiliar she said, “Hello.”
I immediately
made the connection. She was the actress
Lauren Becall. I had met many
celebrities in Mother’s salon, but Ms. Becall hadn’t been one of them.
“Hello,” I
responded. “Wonderful burgers, aren’t
Ms. Becall
agreed that they were and turned back to her interrupted conversation with her
companion. I caught her saying, “So then
Bogey looks at me and….” before she lowered her voice out of my auditory range.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Last summer my behind went into spasm. I was bending over a paper trimmer on a
counter in my basement and suddenly my right butt muscle began to hurt like
crazy as it went into spasm.
I have a
thigh muscle in my right leg that cramps in the middle of the night, every once
in a while when I’ve brought my knee up to my chest in my sleep, and I know
that if I stretch it, which is exactly opposite to what it wants to do and a
very painful maneuver, the cramp will soon subside. Then I’ll just be left with a very sore thigh
muscle. But here I was standing in the
basement, which is none too clean, in my good pants, because I was on my way to
a ceremony marking the start of hybrid bus service at a transit agency that Donna,
my wife runs, and any muscle stretching that I could do at the moment was very
limited. Suffice it to say that when the
spasms were over, several long minutes later, my entire right leg was numb, my
behind was in pain, and I could barely make it up the basement stairs.
Driving an
hour to the ceremony, where Donna was already getting ready to greet the
governor and the media, was no easy task.
But at least I had a good conversation starter for the reception
following day, I betook myself to my chiropractor, a man with magic fingers
and, possibly, in league with the devil, who made most of the pain go
away. But he did forbid me to do any
running until further notice.
notice did not come until some six weeks later, and I knew from long experience
that my first run would have to be a very gentle jog of no more than a
mile. Running every other day, I could
increase my distance by a few hundred yards each time until I reached my
customary five miles, two and a half out and two and a half back. I could have done more than five miles, and on
occasion I had, but I didn’t have the time.
That first
day I ran actually a little less than a mile and found myself quite tired that
afternoon. Two days later I did extend
my run to that full mile, then slept away a good deal of the afternoon. But two days after that I was still able to
do no more than that one mile. That was
five months ago. Now, after training
faithfully, I can only do a little more than two miles. And getting around is an effort the rest of
the day. Then, if rain forces me to skip
a day or even two days, I find myself back to that first mile again.
What have I
learned? I have learned that eighty,
which is the age I reached in January, is elderly. If I skimp on my running, for whatever
reason, I get out of shape real quick. And
getting back into shape takes much, much longer than it used to.
Now, I’m a
Capricorn and a classic late bloomer.
I’m doing things now that I could only dream of doing twenty years
ago. In addition, I get senior discounts
in theaters, on trains, and even at our hardware store. When people see me coming, with my white hair
and mustache, they hold doors open for me, a lovely experience after a lifetime
of holding doors open for everyone else.
But I don’t know if I’ll ever reach that two-and-a-half-miles marker

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yes, I’m resuming this blog after a very long absence.

These have been two very exciting years. In 2010 my first published novel, “Writer’s Block” came out. What makes it even more exciting than my first memoir, “Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939,” which came out in 2006 is that being a full time writer of fiction has been my dream since the age of 12 or so.

Those of you who have read one or more of my memoirs will know that I was living in Poland and Jewish at the start of the war, that I had a beautiful and courageous mother who, unfortunately, missed out on the “nurturing” gene. She brought me out of Hitler’s clutches in heroic fashion, then plopped me into boarding school in America, something I was emotionally not ready for, because she had a life to make for herself in this country and didn’t really have room in it for me.

Well, “Writer’s Block” is a humorous and fictitious account of what might have become of me had I zigged instead of zagging in a number of places. My hero, Kip, was born in Germany and Jewish and brought to America and deposited in boarding school much as I was. But, while my mother soon married then proceeded to push her husband to advancement he wasn’t ready for in the diplomatic service, Kip’s mother, Anna, is a business woman who, with help from rich admirers, develops a modest chain of dress boutiques.

When Kip graduates from college, Anna wants him to come and manage one of her dress shops, and Kip runs as fast as he can to a small college in the Midwest and gets a teaching job in the English department. There he gets seduced by an attractive unwed mother whom he marries and who gives him three years of misery before running off with the assistant football coach.

Brought up in boarding school and with no experience in family life, Kip doesn’t know how to cope with all of this. His colleagues on the faculty shun him like a leper, he is incapable of engaging in a proper romantic relationship, and a new college president begins to turn the cozy little college into an impersonal university. Kip spends some thirty years doing the only thing he knows how, enduring.

Then, and this is where the story really begins, a colleague, a teacher who spent his summers in the little village of Venice on the Massachusetts coast writing successful Gothic romances, and thus enjoying a more prosperous life than the average teacher, crashes his private airplane and leaves Kip his Venice house. Kip, of course, is sure some lawyer made a mistake because things like this don’t happen to him, but he is finally convinced to drive to Massachusetts and look over his new house before he puts it on the market.

The keys to his new house, he is told, should be picked up from the village postmistress, a widow named Amanda Lazaro. Kip takes one look at Amanda Lazaro and falls in love. The fact that the fifty-something postmistress is very attractive is aided by Kip’s romantic mind finding a reason why she should have his bachelor friend’s house keys in her possession. Kip decides that he will quit his job, settle in Venice, and turn his lemon of a life into the Great American Novel…. while courting the delectable Widow Lazaro.

But Kip is the poster boy for disaster, and …… well, I don’t want to give the story away. At any rate, let me say that “Writer’s Block” is the start of a series of adventures featuring Kip and Amanda, and you’ll do well to give them a try.