Tuesday, May 31, 2011

LOST Again

First impressions are often wrong, yet despite my knowing this I still have them. My New Year's resolution, besides allowing myself to make them all year and not just on December 31, is to withhold judgment of people, places and things--everything but food, which sometimes you have to spit out right away or you could die---until I have more information.

A few weeks back, in this same location, I posted a negative review of a TV series called "LOST." I hated it. Oddly enough, this very website was having difficulties at that time and that particular post was truly lost, permanently, leaving me no record.  Odder still, I have since become addicted to that same TV show, and in fact just this morning cried my heart out when Boone died after Jack tried to save him by amputating his leg, even though his wounds looked faker than my son's Halloween makeup the year he went as a zombie motorcyclist back from the dead.

The most compelling thing about "LOST" is that nothing makes sense, everything is life or death, there are never any answers and nobody has an office job. Still, there's plenty to do and it's all interesting. Imagine if life were like that. That would be cool.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Honoring Our Soldiers

The world did not end last week as predicted, and I for one am glad to still be here for another round of summer. It arrived here in Maine today, coincidentally along with Memorial Day.

It's funny how holidays seem to come along just when you need them, and this one brought the good weather with it. It was hot and sunny, even here, so to celebrate both the occasion and the sunshine, I planted flowers in my garden and drank a diet Coke.

Later in the day I did my part to honor our fallen soldiers by stuffing myself with fattening foods at a neighbor's backyard barbecue. I also got a ton of mosquito bites and had too much wine and now I feel very uncomfortable, just like our soldiers must feel when they are in the killing fields, and isn't that what empathy is all about?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Clearing the Air

There was a time when potential employers could search my past work on the Internet and find articles I had written for respectable organizations such as the Washington Post, Communicator Magazine, Portland Examiner and the Deseret News. Now they find angry posts on websites like the Daily Kos and Mediaite calling me a right wing nut Tea Partier and would-be assassin. (Oops, there goes another writing assignment!)

Shown here is the offending post responsible for my damaged reputation, just in case you missed it. If you ask me, it's pretty mild considering the tenor of our times. And really, hasn't it been nice since he's been gone?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Were it not for the Internet I would lie about my age, but the truth is I will turn 65 in short order and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. It's not for lack of trying, that's for sure. More than most, I have overturned many a rock and wandered down many a path leading nowhere, yet here I am, on the brink of Medicare, still searching.

But then, how many people ever find their true calling? We're shuttled through elementary and then high school and pushed into college. The mavericks rebel and drop out, but for most, after four years--or maybe six or eight-- of higher education, the average, middle class citizen finds that first "real" job and stays there. The lucky ones get fired and are forced to move on, enabling them to learn more about the world and themselves, but too many get comfortable in that corner office and stay put until retirement, not because it's a calling but because it's safe.

Although leaving is always exhilarating--anything could happen!--life at the other extreme is hardly better. Despite having acquired a myriad of skills, my lengthy resume never gets a reading these days; in fact, headhunters suggest that anyone over 50 lop off the early years so potential employers aren't spooked by their advanced age, the heck with all that experience. For too many of my peers, careers are over, replaced by golf and grandchildren. Not yet that fortunate, I'm still trying to find myself, if only I knew where to look.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Pop Quiz

Two questions: You may have heard the names, but how many of the following people can you really identify, and do you think any of them could save you from drowning? (Give yourself one point for each correct answer.)
1. Dan Rather
2. Paul Volcker
3. James Lovell
4. Chris Difford
5. Mary Robinson
6. Buzz Aldrin
7. Alex Trebek
8. Ruth Westheimer
9. John Cleese
I scored a four (1, 6, 7, 8), and I think I swim better than all of them.

I ask because an article in today's Wall Street Journal entitled "Cruising With the Stars" reports on the growing practice among cruise ship lines of stocking their ships with celebrities to give them "a competitive edge." These on-board muckety-mucks cruise for free as long as they agree to "hang out" and "rub shoulders" with the passengers.

I have never gone on a cruise, mostly because of the Titanic and partly because every repeat cruiser I ever met is fat and raves about the 24/7 food orgies. Then too, there is what I call the Natalie Wood Syndrome, which is certainly no small matter. But for the sake of argument, let's say I wanted to try one; these folks are simply not my idea of a good time. How about yours?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do Us All a Favor and Cancel the Election

Poor Tim Pawlenty: I'm sure his mommy thinks he would make a great president, but it's not gonna happen. Ditto Michele Bachmann, that pizza guy Cain, odd duck Ron Paul, over-the-hill Newt and the rest of the sorry Republicans throwing their ill-fitting hats into the ring. Now I don't really like Barack Obama, but I'm not sure why we would ever dump him after one term for any of these sorry folks.

In fact--groan--here comes the ridiculous campaign process these poli-sci majors undergo every four years, assembling teams to spread their seeds door-to-door, renting expensive offices in every city, printing fliers and posters, mailing out heartfelt letters begging for a handout--and it makes me sick. Just last week Mitt Romney raised 10 million dollars in one day! Good job, Mitt, why not send that money to Obama right now and tell him to use it for the public good? (That might even win Mitt some votes.)

If all those presidential hopefuls would just keep their day jobs and give Obama a crack at another four years to try and do one good thing for the country that might stick, things would be better for everyone--except of course the execs at CNN and FOX and MSNBC, and Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow, and the rest of those blood-sucking journalists who live off the proceeds of the constantly spinning election cycle. For them, every year is an election year, and nobody wins but them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Sad Reality

These days, what with folks letting it all hang out and PDAs considered normal behavior and semi-nude dancing with the stars and documentaries about addiction and reality TV and Dr. Phil and Oprah exposing the darkest of family problems between commercial breaks for antidepressants, sex pills and tampons, who chooses anonymity? While the Internet offers this option, why bother?

Here's why: Everyone knows, or at least suspects, that an adult signing on as Anonymous in a chat room or on a blog post or in a note inside an anthrax-filled envelope is most likely a cowardly pervert hiding a twisted soul and a deep self-loathing. (Children are exempt from this likelihood since their brains are not yet fully formed.)

Recently I opted to change the Comments feature on this blog because of Anonymous, a hider with the aforementioned characteristics who was leaving increasingly obnoxious and decidedly unfriendly comments here, as often as every 15 minutes or so. Thus, like the school children who all had to put their heads on their desks until one confessed to stealing the blackboard chalk, every comment will now "await moderation," meaning I must review and approve it prior to publication. I hope this doesn't stop my dear friends who frequent this site from sharing their opinions so eloquently, as they have done for the past four years.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who's Your Mommy?

I am a tall person trapped in an average-sized woman's body. It's been very frustrating, especially when I bring things into a dressing room; they are always too long because I have never accepted my small stature and thus choose incorrect sizes. I have spent my life this way, and now that I am getting older and actually shrinking, the problem is worse. I need sympathy, a support group or surgery.

My situation is similar to that of Chaz Bono, daughter of former pop stars Sonny and Cher--and I bet Dad is spinning in his grave these days. Chaz is out there telling his/her story of transformation to all of us spineless shnooks in the TV, Internet, newspaper, magazine and radio audiences who just accepted their original bodies and genders, short stature and all.

It's actually an interesting story, and Chaz is actually a sweet and likable chap/chapette. But still, I wonder, in what way is she/he a man? She was born female and now, in adulthood, has had a double mastectomy, takes male hormones, wears men's clothing and is suddenly referred to as "he." How come--don't you need a penis to be considered a guy?

I also wonder how celebrities expose the most private parts of themselves this way. What is wrong with them--is it brain damage of some sort? I saw a documentary of Chaz when he was still being called Chastity getting his/her boobs removed, lying naked and flabby on the operating table with circles drawn in magic marker around the nipples, whereas I won't be filmed in a bathing suit.

The whole situation is pretty ironic, can we all agree, Cher-wise?

The Search Continues

We all face the same question, every day of our lives: How to spend our limited time on Earth in a meaningful, valuable way? Some people seem to have found the answer and go merrily about doing whatever it is they do with nary a backward or forward glance, be they hash-slingers slinging their hash or Doctors Without Borders saving lives around the world. Perhaps the latter seem more valuable than the former, but hey--even doctors gotta eat. The trick is to find something that we consider meaningful and fulfilling, and everyone else be damned if they don't agree.

Once again I am staring that question in the face and not liking what I see. Currently I co-own a consignment shop. This means that people bring us old stuff they no longer value which we try to sell for them, taking half the proceeds for our efforts and to cover the costs of doing business. After nine months of this activity I have not earned one dime for my initial investment of $500, or for listening to hours and hours of yammering from customers who have nothing better to do than root around antique shops looking for something that will make them happy, if only for a moment or two. Good thing my husband does work that pays.

But the bigger question is this: Did I really go to school for a dozen years, followed by college for another four, and then slowly work my way up in several careers as a graphic designer, artist and writer, to end up selling used furniture in rural Maine? Is this really my highest and best use? Surely there is more for me to accomplish in my remaining years, and I think it's time to find out.

So long, Great Stuff. I will leave it to my partner who didn't go to college for anything and seems to thrive on the thrill of making a few cents on selling an old, used sofa or some chipped dishes that she says are "worth a fawtchun, you have no ideer!" As for me, it's back to the drawing board.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Look Out, It's Final Jeopardy!

Unless I get a chance to jot down a few final thoughts in the morning, this may be my last post. According to a chap named Harold Camping, president of a network of Christian radio stations based in California, there will be a worldwide earthquake beginning at 6 PM tomorrow, during which all Believers will ascend to Heaven in what he calls The Rapture. Following that, it's curtains for the sinners left behind, as God will slowly begin to destroy the planet.

Mr. Camping, a former civil engineer who is now 89 years old, originally predicted this scenario back in 1994; he was wrong then, so why should he be right now? For no good reason, but just in case he is, I am picking up my dry cleaning and returning those DVDs that have been on the back seat of my car for a week now, because I am definitely heading uptown, and here's why: Besides being sarcastic to stupid people, I am basically a good person. I don't kill bugs, I give to charity, and from time to time I help total strangers with their groceries in the supermarket parking lot. And yeah, I believe in God--what fool doesn't? (I hope they don't nitpick and ask which God, or I could be in big trouble.)

What are you doing tomorrow?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Please Don;'t text Me

Please don't text me. I am not very good at responding, and chances are my answer will be full of mistakes, and probably iI will mistakenly delete it twice bfore i send it. the levle of frustration involved is so high,  it's jost  not worht it to me, execially when the reward isso little. Talkig on the phone is alraedy a step wy FROM AN IN=PERSON MEETING. THEN THERE'S EMAIL WHICH AT LEAST YOU CAN EDIT, BUT TEXTING IS JUST SO SILLY.

PLEASE DON'T TEXT ME. Ooops, didn;t mean to yell!

My son has been texting me lately. he is 23 and I guess that's what they do these days. I want to be "with it" and so I read the messages and rtry to respond . alas, the best I can come up with is XXX because trying to say Ilove you or even I luiv u is so time-s0ncinsuming.  I wish he wiuld call.

Guess Who for President

He says what he thinks, regardless of whether or not it is popular with the masses. He has strong beliefs founded on his own experience rather than hearsay. He's extremely funny and is often the butt of his own humor. He loves America and has an unflinching sense of purpose, wanting only what is best for the country. Like most leaders, he is misunderstood. Those weaker than he, jealous of his wealth, fame and intellect, taunt him mercilessly and try to tear him down by spreading false rumors about him. He is extremely fair-minded without an ounce of racism. The lion's share of his critics have never heard him speak at all, yet think nothing of misquoting him. He is most hated for being exceedingly self-confident. Loved and respected by many, he is one of the most popular public figures in America today.

Draft Rush.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Republicans Made Him Do It

Unemployment, bad economy, global warming, rising fuel costs, falling home prices, earthquakes, floods, whatever--someone must be held accountable, but it's certainly not me and it sure as hell isn't Obama! In fact, it's probably because of the friggin' Republicans and George W. Bush and maybe Rush Limbaugh and FOX News. That's the American way...

"I'm fat, but that's society's fault, what with all those ads for fast food and all those pizza joints in strip malls and candy and nachos and hot dogs and now freakin' bowls of chili at the movies, and they even serve french fries and corn dogs in school cafeterias so my kids are fat too!"

"Hey, wait a minute, I'm an alcoholic, but of course it's a disease I can't help myself, I was born this way, and you're not helping by pushing beer in my face every time I turn on the TV or go to a party."

"Well just hold on there, I have cancer and heart disease and it's because of cell phones and aerosol sprays poking holes in the ozone layer and your second-hand smoke, I never did one thing to bring any of this on myself, okay so my arteries are clogged from all the fat I eat and I lie around all day and never get any exercise, but hey, who doesn't?"

Have a nice day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Man's Heaven

STEPHEN Hawking has just declared there is no Heaven. We are supposed to believe he is right since he is freakishly smart and holds the key to the universe in his enormous brain, or something like that. To be honest, I know nothing of his work and care not a whit what he thinks about the alleged afterlife. In fact, I can safely say the same thing about the Pope. Who knows what happens after death? N-O-B-O-D-Y, that's who.

I don't care if Hawking talks through a box in his throat or whatever, he is not channeling messages from God, who by the way he denies exists. His version of things has no more credence than yours or mine, and in case you wondered, here's mine:

Heaven certainly does exist. John Lennon and George Harrison are there and have patched up all their differences, reunited and play for free 24/7, stopping only to sign autographs, pose for pictures with fans and of course eat and sleep. Yup, there is eating and sleeping in Heaven, since those are both great activities that are available eternally to good people. In addition to the ongoing concerts by the Half Beatles, Heaven is blissfully free of trucks, insects, cell phones and money. To get in, you have to be good all during this lifetime and make sure you give to charity, call your mother frequently and never talk in the movies once the feature starts, and that includes opening titles.

Take that, Hawking. Go ahead, prove I'm wrong.

Groundbreaking TV: An Oxymoron?

BOB Greenblatt, NBC's creative chief since February, is planning to revitalize his employer's flagging viewership with a dozen new shows for the fall season, explaining, "We've got to excite the audience again. I think the way you do it is with big ideas." Included in his groundbreaking efforts are a drama in which a cop protects the world from fairytale creatures, a musical set behind the scenes at a Broadway show, and a singing competition featuring regular people.

To help poor, misguided Bob, I offer a few of my own ideas completely free of charge:
1. Lose the laugh track. It is totally insane, annoying, ridiculous and insulting to believe that if viewers at home hear a recording of other people fake-laughing they will then find your stupid, inane scripts funnier--or even just funny.
2. Consider cutting the number of commercials from a constant barrage every eight minutes to just a few between shows. These days TV is merely a carrier for advertisements about products, and the number one product seems to be other TV shows which, when you are watching them, advertise the very one you are trying to watch right now except you can't because of those damn ads about the other shows.
3. Define "big ideas."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What Would Gandhi Bring?

I hope for their sake that poor people don't read the Wall Street Journal. Today's paper has a special summer guide to "warm-weather eating, drinking, dressing up, dressing down, game playing, luxury lounging, road tripping and wind-in-your-hair driving" that is particularly obnoxious and aimed at the wealthy. Tucked between the articles about preparing the perfect gourmet picnic (kits for $85) or finding heavenly hostess gifts for your weekend at the beach (four silver corn-cob holders, $280) are ads for incredibly expensive watches, high-end hotels and higher-end condos. And if you're tired of that same old Disneyland vacation, consider one of these fun "Adventures with Children": a South Africa River Ramble at $3,898 per person (ages 7 and up), or a six-day tour of southern France for $4,198 per person (ages 9 and up).

In the very same newspaper, different section, a review of a book called Outcast: The Repressed People of Asia that depicts the lives of the so-called Untouchables in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, defined as human dross born into a caste system and "bound to a wheel of grinding poverty," offers a break from the same-old, same-old. Haunting black-and-white photographs of emaciated people cleaning latrines and sewers, scavenging for food in dumps and living in excrement-covered slums can be yours for just $46.95. For some extra brownie points, try bringing that to your weekend hosts in the Hamptons!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fear of Fat Trumps Fear of Death

ALL I have ever wanted, more than money or fame or friendship, is to be thin. This shallow goal was implanted in my brain at an early age, as a direct result of my older sister ballooning to the size of the Goodyear Blimp in adolescence and staying there for life. Her distressing size made my mother, a former dancer with little appetite for anything else, go insane, literally, and turn her sights on me, the younger one who was not yet fat. I swear she came to my room at night and whispered in my ear as I slept, "Don't get fat, never get fat, fat is bad, fat is ugly," but then again maybe it was only during my waking hours that her dire message was implanted.

And thus, as I approach my 65th birthday, and despite hovering between a size 8 and a size 10, I am still--always--on a diet and still weighing myself daily and still working towards that same goal. My sister, father and mother are all gone, yet I am stuck with the early imprint of living with that particular threesome for the first 18 years of my life, allowing me to feel superior to the likes of Oprah Winfrey, a successful billionaire, because of her unseemly girth.

What damaging message have I passed on to my own child, I wonder. When I ask him that now he usually gives a flippant reply, like saying I made him think he was going to die any minute or I was going to die any minute, simply because I told him when he asked, at age three, that people indeed can and do die any minute! (The other mothers answered this same question by saying "only old people die," which we all know is a crock, and I refused to lie to my son. Never have, never will.) But will he live his life in fear of being hit by that wayward bus I told him could run over any of us at any minute?

Oh well, at least he's thin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Vegetarian's Nightmare

I am so glad I am a human being living in a non-cannibalistic society. Imagine the paranoia when you can be eaten at any moment! Today's Wall Street Journal  has an article about the latest trend in grilling, which is aptly called "nose-to-tail." This means you take the entire animal, like an 863-pound steer, haul it onto a specially made barbecue grill and cook the whole damn thing. As the article explains, "whole animal cookery has grown trendy in recent years."

Seems to me there's enough stuff to eat already without rounding up herds of cattle and burning them at the steak...I mean stake. Besides, if folks keep doing that, where will we get all our hamburgers?

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Cold Up Here, and I Don't Mean the Weather

THE following email, which I received today, conveys the typical Mainer's idea of friendship: "How are you feeling? You sounded like death warmed over last week, so I do hope you didn't get it too bad. Happy belated mother's day."

Let me explain. I'd been sick for two weeks with a bad cold which turned into an ear infection, blah, blah blah. Doctor visit, antibiotics, coughing, sneezing, general yukkiness. It was during this phase that my friend called me hoping to meet for lunch. Her call woke me and I managed to croak that I was too ill to go out. I then hung up mid-sentence, unable to speak any longer. Indeed, as she noticed, I sounded-- and felt-- like "death warmed over." 

Now I don't know about you, but where I come from, which is New York, death warmed over deserves a follow-up phone call, not an email. Besides being distant and frosty, how else would she know if I died?

Too Much Stuff

SOMETIMES I long for those bygone days of apartment living: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, dining room. So little space, but all I needed. Now I walk around our roomy house and wonder, what's all this space for?

My husband and I live in a 2-story home on a couple of acres of ground. No McMansion, it's plenty big, still modest by some standards; for example, Bill and Melinda Gates would probably use it as a dollhouse. It's got three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a family room, a living room, an attic and a basement. There's also a screened porch and a deck with a hot tub. Here's the rub: Mitch travels frequently for his profession, and try as I might, I can only be in one room at a time. Even worse, all those rooms are full of stuff.

Many people spend a lifetime striving for more, right up until they wish they had less. I see this often in my consignment shop, where seniors who are "downsizing" seek to shed their once-valued possessions. "My kids don't want it," they complain. Or else, after Mom and Dad are gone--either to the Great Beyond or just to Assisted Living--those same kids haul in the stuff, now downgraded to junk, and ask us to "get rid of it at any price." Seeing this ritual up close makes me nervous: Will my own son one day simply trash everything I leave behind? Probably. That realization makes it hard to go shopping. But what if I live to be 95? The next 30 years could be bleak...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day: Meow

Mother's Day has come and almost gone, and this was a good one for me: My only son appeared out of the rest of the world with a long-stemmed red rose, a lovely card, my favorite chocolates and a bug-eating plant. (Not saying I wouldn't have preferred a hug and a big, wet kiss from his former six-year-old self, but alas, some things are just not possible.) Also in tow was a giant Maine Coon cat named Big Lurch I had agreed to care for while Zack finesses his living arrangements this summer. And so, in addition to our two cranky 15-year-old cats who hate each other, we now have a feisty two-year old who is bigger than the both of them combined.

Thus far Lurch is still in shock under the guest room bed, but when he gets comfortable with his new surroundings, I fear there might be fireworks. But what's a mother to do? By the time your child is 23, there are few ways left to show your love, and you have just as much of it as when he was little and you fed him and bathed him and clothed him and baked him cookies and made him breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and helped him with those science fair projects and applauded him in the school play and soothed his fevered brow and endured the flag football and karate and swimming lessons and later drove him to the mall and took him to the orthodontist and taught him how to drive and packed him off to camp and then unpacked him after eight weeks and there was all that dirty laundry; what's feeding his cat for a few months?

One friend, never a mom herself, said, "It's a big imposition--you should have just told him no!" Another one, a mother of two, said, "Of course, you take the cat--you can't say no!" And that's why there is a Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Lunatic Fringe

Things are nutty and getting nuttier everywhere you turn.  According to an advertisement for a particular brand of toilet paper, oddly named Quilted Northern as if the folks in the south, east and west don't matter, "It's time to get real about what happens in the bathroom." I strongly disagree. I see no reason why we, as a society, need to openly discuss the mechanics of urination and defecation. But that's just me.

What I do think it's time to get real about is Michele Bachmann, who in a recent radio interview implored listeners to pray for her in her run for the White House, asking God to "help put a winning team together." Apparently she is serious about becoming the President of the United States! I for one think God has far too much on his plate already, but if you do manage to contact Him, please ask Him to make her stop.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Say What You Know or Shut Up

I am a good cook, possibly even a great cook. I never attended culinary school, nor did I set out to be a great cook; it just happened. It might be genetic if cooking genes skip a generation: My maternal grandmother was possibly the Greatest Cook That Ever Lived, while my own mother considered opening a can of tuna and mixing in mayo to be cooking--and that was on a night she actually prepared dinner. So it seems silly to me when bad cooks hover, telling me what to do in the kitchen. That doesn't happen often, I'll admit, but when it does I find it silly, as in, "What, you didn't salt the lettuce?"

The same principle applies, I believe, to all those armchair politicians brimming with suggestions about what should be done in the halls of Congress, in the Oval Office or on the killing fields of whatever country in which we are currently engaged in warfare. You see this most on Facebook, where hobby politicians rant and rave about every little thing Congress does, citing either the Democrats or Republicans as downright know-nothing fools. The latest commotion concerns publishing a photo of dead Osama: They should: the people need proof! They shouldn't: it will inflame the Arab world! Hey--they will or they won't, and either way some people will decry the decision.

Wouldn't it be more useful if those would-be pundits entered politics--or at the very least, journalism-- for real, instead of spewing a steady stream of imaginary fixes concerning each Congressional or Executive decision shared with the public? And no, I don't salt the lettuce.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Obama vs. Osama: Good Timing

WE can only wonder what cabinet position President Obama will give Ariana Huffington for the following blatant endorsement this morning at HuffingtonPost.com, wherein the murder of Osama bin Laden was described as "a stunning success for the often maligned intelligence community, a political and national security coup for a struggling president and revenge for Americans still carrying vivid memories of Sept. 11." So it turns out Obama is a real man after all, even tougher than George W. Bush! He single-handedly killed the world's most hated bad guy, and--what a coincidence-- in an election season! How cool is that?

This should certainly boost the president's sagging poll numbers. Now if we could just get some proof, since unfortunately, that "often maligned intelligence community" opted to bury the body at sea, an odd choice if you ask me; at least we got to see the Wicked Witch's feet sticking out from under Dorothy's house.