About Marilyn

Marilyn Orr Tsouristakis Cruzme

A Native New Yorker, she was born in Manhattan near Central Park where she and her siblings spent summers making paper boats to sail on the park’s Meer Lake; and spent winters gingerly trying to skate on the frozen water without falling in.  The youngest of four children, she was cared for by her sister Shirley and her brothers Carlton and Bernard. It was a time when BFF’s were sisters and brothers and cousins.  Extended family always lived close by.

Marilyn claims to have been born with a pencil in her hand; which she later swallowed at the age of five. (Literally) yet another memoire!   She published her first poem in Mrs. Fairclough’s third grade newsletter, and has been writing poetry ever since.

.  Her family bought a home in the Bronx during the most transitional time New York has ever known (Post war 1945-60). She went to John Dwyer Junior High and Morris High Schools, and then attended Monroe School of Business, where she studied business and computer technology.

She married twice and had three sons Craig, Mark and Edward.  As a young mother she taught Sunday School at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in the South Bronx, where she orchestrated the annual “Christmas Pageant.”  Seeing how talented the neighborhood children were, and wanting to nurture their ambition, she co-Founded “Saint Margaret’s Little Theater Group” where they worked endlessly adapting lavish Broadway productions to vignettes; and doing classic one act plays like Chekov’s “Swan Song” with the talented youth. They were exposed to every aspect of theater arts, in addition to performing they were involved in costume and set design, promotion, and publicity. The theater group was a magnet for the neighborhood and successful for the church.   Some of the young aspiring artist later pursued lifetime careers in the arts. Dr. Henry Miller, Author and Playwright.  Mark Tsouristakis, Poet and Playwright.  Eric Orr, Internationally Renowned Graffiti Artist.marilyn-1977

While studying Psychology at Fordham University she took a winter break project in creative writing and fell in love with the craft.  She later continued studying creative writing at NYU and received Certification in Journalism.

She enjoyed a twenty-five-year career working in the fashion industry in New York, for incredible employers who encouraged her to grow with the company.

Today, she lives in sunny South Florida, with her long time devoted soul mate Carl Feoli. She spends her days writing, painting, crafting, and enjoying her family…but still hangs on to her digs in New York…

Her poetry and memoires have always been a staple; enjoyed by family and close friends.  The overwhelming rave reviews received for “Mackey A Different Kind of Love Story” only confirms that her venture into commercial fiction is long overdue.

A personal glimpse of Marilyn

REVISIT

There was a time that I thought I could recapture the solace of my childhood, by visiting my old neighborhood.  I was losing loved ones so fast that I needed to turn time backward to a more secure time.  I needed to be able to see them and hear them and smell them.  I was sure I would find peace evoking the memories of my childhood in that old house.

I scaled the gray slate stoop two steps at a time and pushed open the large glass and wrought iron door. I almost expected to see Mr. James, the elevator operator, in his black pinstripe suit and blue shirt sitting on the high stool in front of the elevator.  Over the years whenever I saw a Charlie Chaplain movie, I thought of James; they could have been twins.  Instead, when I stepped through the glass doors, the lobby was deserted, and I hardly remembered ever being there before.  It was dark and dingy. The only window in the corner by the stairwell was boarded up, denying entrance to intruders and also to the sun’s bright rays that used to splash across the marble interior, ignoring the incandescent bulb filled chandeliers.  I felt extremely uneasy and quickly exited back to the street and daylight. marilyn-n-shirley

It was an insane idea, I thought as I stepped over crack vials, looking over my shoulder every few steps.  Whatever made me think that I could go back?  I guess it’s something that tugs at all of us, wanting to see again what we remember so clearly as the best times of our lives.  When everyone was young and happy.

I crossed Seventh Avenue at 110th Street to the entrance of Central Park and slowly walked down the familiar path by the lake that had been my childhood playground.  On either side of me there were corrugated cartons that represented makeshift shelters and blue plastic tarps covering bodies huddling for shelter from the bitter cold day.  I sat on a nearby bench and admonished myself for making the trip.  Some things are lost with time, never to be recaptured.  But I remembered how good it used to be.

* * *

We were a large family. We lived in a huge apartment.  Five bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, and the family living room, where we would huddle around the radio and listen to the Inner Sanctum.  My Aunt Lily and my cousins Richard and Vilma only lived a few doors up the block and they were always at our house.

Saturday was the best day of the week.  After piano lessons, we could go to the park.  There were four of us, myself and my sister Shirley and my two brothers Carlton and Bunny.

We all took piano lessons.  I was the youngest and the last to play.  Mrs. Woodward said I was the most difficult.  I guess she couldn’t understand my objection to being whacked across the knuckles with a baton.  My sister and brothers took it like troopers.  I, on the other hand fought back.  It was obvious I was not going to be a pianist.

Hands clasped, dragging two sleds, pails and shovels, we would head for the park across the street.  Bunny and I always carried lots of paper to make boats.  Even in the winter we would fold the paper into sailboats and float them between the chunks of ice on the lake.  We broke long switches from the trees and used them to guide the boats long after they were out of our reach.  Then we would take turns sledding down the soft snow covered slopes that surrounded the lake, and played until dusk.  But when the lampposts light went on we would grab our belongings and head for home. It was a rule; breaking it meant severe punishment, so we would run home as fast as we could.

Sunday dinner was usually earlier than other days and the dining room table was full with aunts and uncles and cousins.  Later in the afternoon when dinner was over we would retreat to the living room where my mother played the piano while my aunt Rose sang.  Shirley and Vilma would play piano while Carlton and Richard took turns singing. It seemed that everyone had a special talent except me. I was too tall, too skinny, too homely and wasn’t able to master piano or voice lessons.

One Sunday at St. Ambrose, there was a Sunday School Recital and the classes performed the “Vegetable Garden” finale.  Shirley got the coveted position of the center of the radish.  She stood there on tip toes, dressed in sparkling white; the gold locket that daddy gave her, gleaming around her neck. The other girls were the red radish peels dancing around her waving their arms. I stood there in the wings waiting for my own cue.  Mrs. Woodward touched me on the shoulder and I froze.  My feet were glued to the floor and I couldn’t breathe. She gave me a gentle shove and I was on stage.  I was terrified.  I looked over to my sister.  She looked back at me and smiled; raised her arms and nodded.  As I slowly followed her lead, the spotlight found me, and bounced off of the colorful jewels that studded my butterfly wings.  Suddenly I felt beautiful.  Shirley nodded again, and I pointed my toe and took my first step. I could hear applauds in the darkness in front of me.  And I danced. That was the first time Shirley saved me.  The first of so many times to follow over the years.

***

I pushed my hands into my pockets and rose from the park bench.  The sun was going down and the air was getting nippy.  I walked back to Eighth Avenue, slipped into the car and got back on the West Side Highway, heading north.  Everything changes, I thought; and you can’t ever go back.  The car was warm; I unbuttoned my collar and loosened my scarf.  My hand brushed against the gold locket at my neck. I grasped it and my eyes burned with tears as I forced a smile.  Shirley’s gone now, so is Mom and Dad and much of the family.

I realized that day that I didn’t need that old house to find my resolve.  I carry it in my heart, along with the people that rooted it there…

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