Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Age is more than just a number...


One of my most amazing feats these days is being invisible. You’d think that would qualify me as some sort of superhero, but actually quite the opposite is true: I am an ordinary female in my sixties, which means I occupy space yet am virtually unseen.  I truly believe I could publicly disrobe and turn zero heads, except in winter when I might get on the news for braving the elements. I am still visible to my cats, especially first thing in the morning when I enter the kitchen. 

I do not feel personally persecuted; after all, women my age who are a whole lot better-looking than I ever was continue to disappear. A good indicator of this trend is People magazine, that public relations rag wherein young actresses display their latest tattoos, designer duds and diet secrets. Gone forever from its pages are Goldie Hawn, Jane Fonda, Cher, Bette Midler, Sally Field, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep and Anjelica Huston, replaced with I've never heard of any of them. 

Why is this? I have reduced it to an easy-to-comprehend mathematical formula:  FOD + LOM = SS, which means Fear of Death plus Love of Money equals Sex Sells. From the moment you get up in the morning, talk of sex dominates, and I don’t just mean at my house. With the temporary exception of the political scandal of the week, naked bodies and pierced navels jump out at you from the TV, Internet, or newsstand, along with ads for Viagra and Cialis and my personal favorite, Extenz, a penis-enhancement product “guaranteed to grow several inches on a certain male member.” Sexiness is a highly valued commodity in our society, and flashing your Medicare card just ain't that sexy.

Many of my peers are fighting the inevitable desiccation on the way out. For example, one just had injections of some “plumping liquid” that will allegedly stimulate collagen growth so her wrinkles will fill out, at least until she laughs or cries. Several others have had face lifts, making it difficult to determine how they really feel about aging, but despite their smooth faces, those flashing, neon "I'M MENOPAUSAL" signs above their heads render them invisible too.

So what’s the big deal? Well, while I’m not an aging movie queen clinging to an adoring public, it would be nice to command a waiter’s attention without having to stand on a chair, or have a salesperson offer to help or even just take my money, or get a response to a job application; my age on paper makes me invisible as well. Once upon a time I was regarded as a witty and somewhat off-the wall artiste, popular with all three sexes. But as I age, there are fewer offers coming from more people, and this is even with coloring my hair; God only knows what life is like for all those white-haired ladies.

I guess if I had grandchildren they would adore me, since I would shower them with gifts and affection, but since I screwed up the natural course of events by becoming a mother late in life, that won't happen anytime soon. My son, who is way past the age of needing me, often doesn’t acknowledge my existence even when I'm right in front of him. So I write my blog. Since cats can't read or write, your comments are greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Old Friends Die Hard

My wise, old (dead) shrink told me this: "Notice the expression on someone's face when you first meet them; what you see in the first ten minutes of knowing someone, before they are trying to impress you or seduce you, is what you eventually will get, for good."

I am thinking about this because of Anonymous, a reader of this blog who leaves comments which I delete, sparing my readers his unpleasantness. I think Anonymous is my ex-best friend Richard. Although we were the closest of friends for more than 35 years, for 20 of them he hid the fact that he was gay, not from everyone but from me, instead allowing me to feel sorry for his being alone when all the time there was a guy in the closet with him. I found out the truth when a mutual friend laughingly said, "of course he is gay!" Yes, Richard reluctantly admitted it-- but what was I thinking to remain in that relationship after such duplicity?

Last year our friendship ended abruptly following a four-day visit, during which Richard described our time together as "delicious" and saying it was "the best time he had had in years, with anyone." Then silence-- no explanation, no phone calls, no nothing. And now blog-stalking.  I am racking my brain trying to remember how he looked in those first ten minutes, but alas, 1970 is a long way back.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sur la Plage


Yesterday my husband and I drove to Old Orchard Beach seeking an old-fashioned beach experience, even if it was 60 degrees and threatening to rain. Still, in Maine, if it's not snowing it's summer, so off we went. We were not disappointed.

There it was, the beach town in America circa 2011: Colorful kiddie rides, police cruisers keeping the peace, towels hanging in shop windows reminding you where you are, tired-looking smokers collapsed on benches, overflowing trash cans and the occasional three-legged dog. Down at the pier people of all shapes and sizes lined up for pizza, fried dough, French fries, hot dogs, nachos, corn on the cob, fried clams, lobster rolls, sodas, ice cream and more. Despite appropriate beach attire being quite revealing, by the time you're there it's too late to do anything about your body so caution is thrown to the wind and dieting is forgotten. Hence there was not one health food stand or V-8 bar to be found.

Shouldering past all those temptations, we went for a walk on the actual beach, marveling at the few brave souls in the water who were almost all teenage boys and the one determined kite-flier who achieved modest success at last. Next we wandered through the arcades and enjoyed several rousing games of Skee-Ball, finally arriving back where we started and getting down to the real business of summertime: eating.

I bellied up to the bar and purchased French fries from two different vendors, one right after the other just as a quality control experiment, and ate them all by myself although Mitch, who is a saint and much stronger than I owing to his membership in an exercise cult that has toughened his resolve as well as his calves, did his fair share of sampling. The fries were ridiculously good, although the ones from the first place were so much better than the ones from the second place that I almost went back for another batch, but by then I was fairly nauseous.

You might be thinking "Quelle cochon!" and who could blame you, however I believe I deserve kudos for not ordering poutine, the latest Canadian import invading America: fries smothered with sausage gravy and cheese. To be honest, not that many people were ordering those. Nevertheless, the nation of France must be thanked for those fries, if nothing else.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Straight Talk on Gay Marriage

This morning all the gays in New York are thrilled that they can now get married legally, which, speaking as a married person--for the second time in fact--mystifies me. I've always fantasized that the gay lifestyle offered unlimited personal freedom and the ability to explore one's options as an individual, like being able to cook salmon for guests when it is so easy to prepare and is one of your specialties, except you never can because your husband is allergic.

Our marriage, now in it's 25th year, is probably among the better ones: Mitch and I actually respect one another, share an esoteric sense of humor which our only child also understands, and have rarely plotted the other's murder.  My husband never beats me, except at Scrabble and then only sometimes. We sleep in the same bed which is surely comforting, although when he's out of town I do enjoy tossing and turning with abandon without hearing, "What's going on, I have to get up at 5 tomorrow."

Truth be told, until or unless you need surgery, at which time a spouse comes in quite handy although a mother is better, i.e. Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment," I'm not sure what the draw is for so many people. But congratulations and party on all you New Yorkers, just don't come crying to me when you want a divorce, which by the way is an extremely unpleasant experience and almost makes getting married to begin with seem downright silly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Fear Factor


This morning I Googled "fear of death," mostly because my blog post of May 11 contained those words and continues to top my all-time list of readers; every day there are many more, in countries as far away as Singapore, Norway, Australia and India, making me think that it's quite widespread. 

Personally I do not have that particular fear, but I have plenty of others, believe you me, and can ill afford one more. My latest is "fear of hip replacement surgery," or more specifically, "fear of terrible pain following and catching a horrible infection during and having it go badly and needing to do it again, which does happen often enough to have a name and is called hip revision surgery."

I wondered if this were a common fear, at least among members of my generation, so once again I searched the Internet and found all sorts of interesting lists of fears that are common to mankind. One list in particular claimed to be global in scope and was called The 110 World's Worst Fears. Besides the top four fears which are quite popular --#1, snakes, #2, heights, #3, flying, and #4, public speaking, there were some surprises, such as the fact that neither "fear of dentists" nor "fear of getting stuck in an elevator with the ladies from The View" was on the list, making the whole enterprise suspect. Nevertheless I mention some of the odder ones here:
#31, fear of babies
#54, fear of numbers
#64, fear of long words
#95, fear of lakes and rivers
#100, fear of Monday mornings
#105, fear of dark shadows
#106, fear of sharp or pointed objects

I also stumbled upon some free advice about how to overcome the irksome fear of death that afflicts all but a few of us. The solution is so easy to incorporate into one’s schedule, I repeat it here verbatim: "Live life the way you're supposed to. Don't waste your time worrying about death. Instead, fill each day with as much joy as possible, and don't let little things get you down. Go outside, play with friends, or take up a new sport. Just do anything that will take your mind off dying, and put it on living.” Now why didn't we think of that?



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Man's Continued Evolution

Say you need a few things for that fabulous spaghetti sauce you're making for dinner: Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, maybe a can of tomato paste. You run out to the supermarket and grab the necessary items, basing your choices on price and brand familiarity. But wait--now there's another way to help you choose: The vanity barcode.

At last that seemingly unimportant stamp, born in the late 1970s, that allows stores to track their inventory and change prices without re-labeling, has finally gotten the attention it deserves. Starting immediately, you can find barcodes that are elegant or quirky, that look like waterfalls or butterflies, or maybe even something more complicated like the New York City skyline.  In today's Wall Street Journal, the co-owner of Vanity Barcodes, a design shop in New Jersey that wastes its time doing this nonsense, says one of her favorites is "a hand mixer that looks like the barcode is mixing up the numbers." How adorable is that?

The article reports two additional facts that reinforce my decision to quit being a graphic designer years ago: First is the admission that "adding a vanity barcode can be expensive because new packaging is needed," causing one to wonder how happy that makes the consumer.  Second, the newly designed, fabulous and quirky, elegant barcode that looks like something else is not always functional, but is often merely a design element used to drive up sales; the simple rectangular barcode is still on the back of many items.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Here Comes Summer

Today is the first day of summer, and if you grew up on the Eastern seaboard, you know what that means: Bugs, sunscreen, sweating and traffic. Sweating in traffic. Sweating on the beach after being stuck in traffic. Falling asleep on the beach and getting a sunburn. Barbecues, fried food, corn on the cob, buttery, greasy, more bugs. Bees and ants. Sand in everything, especially your bathing suit. Watermelon pits. Sunburn at night; peeling skin. Trying to sleep with that droning air conditioner. Sticky sheets. Can you tell it's not my favorite season?

So I was surprised to read the following concerning the arrival of the solstice in an online column called "On Faith," which gives a different perspective: "Gather together with friends, share the early fruits and gather the flowers, celebrate the time of warmth and light today. And know that, just as the swelling fruit contains the seed, the growing light holds the dark, and one cannot exist without the other. At Solstice, the sun appears to stand still on the horizon. Take a moment, be still, and listen to the earth. What does she ask of us, in this potent moment?"

We are all products of our environment and our experiences. I bet the woman who wrote that solstice thing grew up in the middle of the country, someplace where summer was brief and didn't involve undertow, Noxzema and jellyfish. It must be nice to be her.

Seeking an Alternate Reality

People are so mean here, and by "here" I mean in our society in the year 2011. Nowhere is this more obvious than on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Today's roasted meat is a 34-year-old actor named Ryan Dunn (see photo below) who rose to prominence on a TV show called "Jackass." He died in a fatal car crash yesterday, and today the twittering public is having a field day, despite he fact that that they watched his show and made his follow-up movies box-office hits; now they have decided he was a jackass himself after all, and are using his death as fodder for jokes, never mind his parents and friends who  are mourning his loss and who can see and hear everything.

Yet within this cold culture, it is consistently considered to be way over the line to describe a fat person as fat--how dare you!-- or to chide a politician for sending unsolicited lewd pictures to young women; after all, he was just having fun!

There simply must be another place to be, somewhere they don't say "it is what it is" as if it means something, and where laugh tracks are outlawed and robots don't make phone calls saying "there is no problem with your credit card account but it is urgent that you call us back right away." Where everyone eats healthy and does volunteer work and mourns the deaths of even silly people who are just doing the best they can. I thought Maine might be it, but it's pretty much life as usual up here, except for the lobster. However, there is no traffic, which is a step in the right direction.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Used to Be So Hip

People age. I personally am falling apart at the seams. The latest body part calling for attention is my right hip, which, after being subjected to years of running and aerobic exercise, has all but ceased to perform like a hip should. For example, turning around, bending over, sitting up, lying down, standing and climbing stairs are all things it hates doing, and lets me know in no uncertain terms. But hey, through the wonders of modern science, I can now get a brand new hip installed!

While I don't relish the thought of undergoing surgery, I balk at the concept even more; aren't we supposed to get old and eventually die? New body parts seem like cheating. In fact, this is the very subject of a novel I am currently reading called "Twenty Thirty." Written by the brilliant comedian Albert Brooks, it is neither brilliant nor comedic but is still quite absorbing and a fun way to spend time. Full of characters with names like Paul Prendergast and John Van Dyke, the plot centers around the fact that in the year 2030, people live longer because cancer has been cured. As a result, all the young people resent the hell out of "the Olds" for sapping the health care system in a society with huge debt, too many people and not enough of anything to go around. A civil war, with age the deciding factor of which side you're on, is brewing, or at least it was last night just before I nodded off after downing a couple of Tylenol PMs.

As for my possible hip replacement, I am debating whether or not it is the right thing to do. Will my selfish insistence on continued mobility be robbing someone younger of health care? Should I just hobble off into the sunset when my time comes? I'm only sure that I'm still not sure, so I'm waiting to see how things turn out for a dear friend of mine who is scheduled for that very procedure next month.  Until then, I'll get out the ice pack and finish reading my book.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Moral Dilemma

Last week the police blotter in our local paper reported that a citizen had turned in a one hundred dollar bill he found on the street in front of a commercial establishment in downtown Freeport. This story raises several questions in the fertile mind: Was it windy that day? If someone lost it, would he or she go to the police in search of it? And finally, exactly what would the cops do about it?

Just imagine the scene as the citizen enters the local precinct and approaches the two policemen on duty:
Citizen: Officers, I found this hundred dollar bill on the street in front of Annabel's Cafe. Can you return it to its rightful owner?
Cop #1: Certainly, and let me say you are saint for turning it in.
Citizen: Thank you, but of course it's just the right thing to do. (He leaves.)
Cop #2: What a moron! (They high-five each other.) How about drinks after work?

Was the citizen a saint or a moron? What would you do?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ratting on the Relatives

There's a reason people on Facebook have "friends" and not "relatives." My husband's horrible cousins illustrate the underlying principle perfectly: They have recently "un-friended" him because he has publicly disagreed with their narrow political views.  Despite being first cousins--their fathers were brothers--and sharing childhood, attending family picnics and weddings and funerals and Passover seders and anniversary celebrations, and with the added bond of being two sets of identical twins fairly close in age, as adults they decided the relationship was untenable because they are unwavering, unthinking, unflinching Democrats and my husband is an Independent who dares to make a decent living. His tendency to think for himself goes against their blind acceptance of the Democratic manifesto, which is founded on self-righteousness and takes no prisoners.

This twisted twosome is but the tip of the iceberg where our families are concerned. My husband has an older brother who I have never met, despite the fact that we have been married for almost 25 years. His other brother lives in Brooklyn and has not surfaced in several years. (Both are, by the way, his Facebook friends.) My sister may or not be dead, I have no idea and no way to find out. My first cousin, who lives on Nantucket Island, called me every day for five months for a pep-talk/counseling session while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Since her cure I have not heard a peep out of her, and that was four years ago. My aunt, a relative by marriage to my mother's brother, who demanded and accepted my visits and gifts and favors and shoulder to cry on at least once a week for 60 years, dropped me like a hot potato-- I usually avoid cliches but that's exactly what I felt like--the day my uncle died. Never heard from her again, and that was three years ago. My mother, whose father was one of 13 children, had dozens of cousins who were a constant presence during my childhood, yet she died alone in a nursing home where she had languished for more than a year, with nary a visit from anyone but my father, my sister and me. Following her death, several of them called to ask how she was doing. ("Not well," I told them.)

God smiled at me with my wonderful son, who rues the fact that he is an only child with no discernible familial relationships. I tell him he's not missing anything, as long as he has those 715 "friends" on Facebook.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our Gross National Product

Back in 1957, on his third appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Elvis Presley was shown only from the waist up because his twitching hips were considered too racy for the TV viewers at home. A review of the recent fiasco involving a member (ha ha) of the United States Congress shows how far we have come since then, and contains a hint as to why the Arab world finds us so despicable.

The fact is, many otherwise fine, upstanding American citizens think what Anthony Weiner did was "no big deal." Following his resignation yesterday, which many of those same citizens lament, the possibility of his becoming an on-air political pundit at CNN is being floated. When the dust settles, the former congressman will likely be rewarded for his act, which in plain language was this: After somehow managing to arouse himself to the point of having an erection, Weiner photographed his own penis with his cell phone and then sent that photo to a young woman who is not his wife. Adding stupidity to his indecency and immaturity, he "accidentally" sent it to every one of his online Twitter followers.

In how many ways was this wrong? First, imagine you are a congressman with speeches to make, votes to pass and constituents to meet. Despite being a newlywed, you're a bachelor again while your pregnant wife is out of the country on official business with the Secretary of State. You're so lonely! You think, "Hey, I'll masturbate enough to get myself hard and then take a picture of my erection, which is much better looking than my face, and send it to that hot chick I met online last week."  Second, there's his flat-out denial, as in "it wasn't me," which went on for a week before he did it again!

This behavior would be alarming in a 12-year-old, but in a 46-year-old public figure it is deplorable, depressing and downright sick. Yet many of Weiner's blind (i. e. Democratic) admirers think it is barely worth the resulting brouhaha, supporting him with platitudes like, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Of course I have sinned--who hasn't? --and had a damn good time doing it, so I'm not casting any stones. I'm just saying that it's perfectly clear to me why some in the Arab world find Americans so despicable.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weenie Roast

So the sexting and texting congressboy, Anthony Weiner (D, NY), has mercifully decided to resign after all, but will not necessarily go quietly into the night. Who knows what's next for him? If some other bigwigs are any example, the sky's the limit: Former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer, aka Client # 9, got his very own TV show after getting kicked out of office, and ex-prez Bill Clinton was crowned the Greatest Politician Who Ever Lived despite his numerous affairs and eventual impeachment. (I know, I know, he was acquitted, but still....)

Naturally, Mr. Weiner plans to seek treatment for whatever ails him, but I'm not clear on what that is. It could be almost anything afflicting the modern political male: self-absorption, delusions of grandeur, abuse of power, uncontrollable ego bursts or simply a bad case of the Peter Pan Syndrome. The latter seems to affect many men, not just politicians, and is the reason so many of them refer to their spouses as "my old lady" or "my better half." Which reminds me: Weiner's wife is pregnant. If I were her, I'd line up another labor coach ASAP.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How Not to Get Fat

My areas of expertise are few and include cooking, painting and dieting. There are so many books on those subjects already, I have little to add of merit, except for the latter. All the popular diet tools available commercially have one thing in common: they are destined to fail, thus keeping you going back for more. I feel confident that my 3-Step Plan for Losing Weight and Staying Thin is without peer. It is also free. Here it is:
1. You have to want to lose weight more than you want to eat those foods that tempt you.
2. Once you get to your goal weight, you have to like being thin more than you liked being fat.
3. Never set foot in a Chinese restaurant.

That's it. The rest is easy, and involves all that stuff you already know, like no candy, cake, soda, muffins, pasta, rice, pies, cookies, bagels, ice cream, french fries and chips on a daily basis. This does not mean you can never have those things, and in fact if you outlaw them you are destined to fail and go "off your diet" and get even fatter. Trust me, I know. But the longer you avoid them, the less you will want them, until they just won't even seem like food anymore!

Two more rules for the rule-lovers: #1. Snacks should be things that grow on trees or in the ground rather than things from a box or bag in the supermarket.  #2. Eat a big breakfast.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Heads Up, Obama, Here They Come

Things are bad all over. Yemen, China, Syria. Afghanistan, Iraq. People dying, getting legs blown off, fighting in the streets. Revolution. Homelessness, poverty. Failing levees flooding streets in Mississippi. Who can fix the broken world? Yet there they stood last night, seven American citizens willing to try, lined up in a row onstage for the Republican National Debate brought to you by CNN, a fact you could never forget since their logo remained on stage, bigger than anything else, all night.

Sadly, it was not a debate but a ridiculous exercise in which the moderator, John King, love child of Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley, constantly interrupted with annoying clucking noises, urging the candidates to hurry up and answer in 30 seconds or less so he could pose his next question, which took twice as long to ask. Every so often he interrupted with a really dumb question, formulated so we could get to know the candidates better, like what's your favorite kind of pizza or which late-night TV host do you prefer or how do you like your wings, spicy or plain, as if anyone would say PLAIN, which is so obviously an acronym for PALIN.

The female, Michele Bachmann, obviously a participant in the debate between candidates for president in 2012, squandered precious time from one of her allotted 30-second answer periods to announce that she had, just yesterday, filed papers to officially run for president in 2012. Duh, Michele. (She sure does have nice hair, however.)

The black guy, Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza so he knows a thing or two about making things run, was the best of the lot, and made me think what a hoot it would be if he were the candidate! Imagine, a 100% African American running against Obama, who is only 50% African American. That sure would be something to see.

The nut, Ron Paul, made the most sense while seemingly a rambling idiot. The old guy, Newt, came off as the smartest politician but is simply not attractive enough to win hearts, while Mitt Romney, Ken to Michele's Barbie, was just too damn handsome to be taken seriously.  

Two other guys who looked exactly alike were there too. Coincidentally, despite their differences, they all agreed that Obama is doing a terrible job.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why I'm Such a Scaredy Cat

FRANKLIN Delano Roosevelt, by all accounts one heck of a president, allegedly said, "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." This is of course total bullshit since there are an infinite number of things to fear, including but not limited to being electrocuted in the bath or getting decapitated by an airplane propeller or hitting your head and having permanent brain injury or getting shot by an intruder in your own home or contracting an incurable disease or getting blood poisoning via a hangnail or having a tree fall on you, all of which happened to people I know. So what the hell was he thinking?

Besides fearing all those things, I am allergic to such seemingly innocuous things as spider and mosquito bites-- don't even ask about bees--thus I also fear insects. Consequently I am in a tizzy over a recent newcomer at our house, the creature pictured above, who has taken up residence on the back deck. It's a moth of some sort, but exactly what sort and what evil lurks within, I know not. He arrived last week and parked himself on a window screen, where I was forced to see him all the time. I could not have that. Thinking he was dead since he never moved, I tried flicking him off the screen, then got out the hose and hit him with a hard stream of water. He fell to the ground, over and done with, I thought. But the Phoenix has risen, and is now hanging out on my potted poppy plant.

My ex-shrink, who died in the prime of life from drowning in a hotel swimming pool after one beer too many, always told me that "rational fears are healthy fears." Thus, I am keeping away from Mothra until I learn more about him. I beseech you, as is done regarding terrorists: If you know something, say something.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Talk is Cheap

I am constantly criticized for speaking my mind. I ask the critics, if not my mind, then whose?

Chit-chat, chit-chat, talk talk talk. "Did you see that, I swear on my life, I could not believe it, what are you wearing, isn't he something, she's such a bitch, they're getting divorced, I hate when he does that, I think she's pregnant, does this make me look fat, you've got to be kidding, I don't remember, she needs a face lift, he's such an asshole, I need a new one, call me tomorrow."

The first car phone I ever saw belonged to a real estate agent who was showing me homes. I was so impressed, I thought she must be very important if people needed to be in touch with her all the time! Gradually, more and more people who seemed less and less important got car phones too. Then, just like plastic water bottles, cell phones started showing up everywhere, including on elementary school playgrounds. Now they've morphed into adult toys, with catchy names like the iPhone, the Droid, the G'zOne, the Echo, the BlackBerry! Mine can take pictures, what can yours do? Mine can play music and make movies! Mine can paint pictures and play games! Mine can do somersaults and cook you an omelet! Mine gives you brain cancer, how about yours? Might as well say something worth it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stay Cool

If you live in just about anywhere in America, you're having a heat wave. But, like almost everything else, it's not happening here in Maine.

A new study from Stanford University suggests that climate changes across the globe will cause unusually hot summers in the coming years, lasting until forever. So far--and it's only early June-- high temp records have been broken or tied along the eastern seacoast, as well as in the south and the midwest. Despite temperatures in the 90s and much higher in many cities, here in Freeport, at 9 AM, I am dressed in flannel from head to toe and have all the windows shut to keep out a distinct chill.

Come to think of it, global warming might be the best thing to happen to the state of Maine since the lobster.  With the rest of the nation broiling for four or five months a year, perhaps people will migrate here and bring some much-needed supplies with them, like jobs. A symphony wouldn't hurt, and maybe a decent local paper, but mostly jobs would be nice. Writers in other cities, especially those now-sweltering ones like NY and Philly and DC and Dallas, have many choices on JournalismJobs.com, a website I check daily looking for freelance opportunities. Poor Maine has none. Zero. Ever. It's like we don't exist! The same holds true for several other writing websites I scour. Not that I blame them; where are all the people?

As for our weather, believe me. It's great, I love it, it's the best! And it does get pretty hot here for a few weeks each year, so you can still work on that tan. Come on up and check it out yourself. And bring something with you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stop Children, What's That Sound

"Paranoia runs deep. Into your heart it may creep. It starts when you're always afraid.... "

Suddenly hordes of people are becoming upset over the latest technological advancement, soon to be implemented by Facebook, that will allow for facial recognition of its members. They worry that this is the beginning of something bad, something invasive, something Big Brother-ish, although I can't for the life of me figure out why. To avoid having yourself spied upon, known about, traced, tracked, hunted down and robo-called, take two simple steps: First, stay off of Facebook. Second, leave the planet.

At birth, you are fingerprinted and foot-printed and issued a certificate--I know, not Obama, but everyone else--and you damn well better know where it is at all times. You are inoculated and vaccinated and weighed and measured and enrolled in preschool and nursery school and elementary school and high school and college and the Army or the Air Force or the Navy or get a job with the government or in private industry. You buy health insurance and house insurance and flood insurance and life insurance and you travel on trains, planes and automobiles, passport in hand, each and every time giving away your most personal information. Driver's license, social security number. Age, weight, height, blood type, urine specimens, stool samples. Dental x-rays, arrest record, misdemeanors, driving infractions.

We give it all willingly to anyone who asks, whether we're buying beer, renting a car, applying to college or taking out a mortgage. Heck, at the end there's even a death certificate to be filled out: case closed! And now the 20-somethings behind the screen at Facebook will be able to see your picture and know who you are. Big deal. Seems to me we have much bigger fish to fry--and to fear.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Members of Congress

Portnoy's Complaint, a debilitating syndrome affecting politicians here and abroad, is commonly defined as "strongly felt ethical and altruistic impulses perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature." While we've suspected for many years that most male politicians are afflicted, we have seen its ravages all too clearly in the past week. Weinergate has captured our attention; one would have to live under a rock to not know about the scrawny-necked congressman from Queens, N.Y. whose symptoms are so severe, they could no longer be kept hidden.

I am less surprised that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) did what he did than I am by the amount of media attention his childish act has received. The same folks who intone soberly about our poor economy and the Middle East mess and the 2012 election are now talking just as soberly about the silly photo of Wiener's weiner posted on Twitter. Heck, even Nancy Pelosi stopped smiling for a minute and has vowed to undertake an investigation into the whole affair. (One wonders what that will involve: Brand of underwear? Length and angle of erection?)

For me personally, Weinergate has been a learning experience: Until now I had no idea one could "tweet" a photo! Or that a photo of a man's erect penis inside his underwear could be considered arousing. Or that by saying "I take full responsibility for my actions" makes just about anything okay. But mostly I am stunned that so much is being written about Weiner's gross indecency and nothing at all about his gross immaturity.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why, Katie, Why?

The world needs something new to do besides making wars and watching movies, and I'm racking my brain but cannot seem to come up with anything. It might have to do with keeping people healthy or making more art or doing away with lawyers and letting people solve their differences themselves. I don't know what it is, which is why I'm not rich or famous, but I do know for sure that it's not another daytime TV talk show.

The latest scuttlebutt is that Katie Couric, fired for getting older from her news anchoring job, will host a daytime TV talk show. This fact bewilders me. So many questions come to mind, all whittled down to one: Why? Especially since there are so many already. What's left to talk about that Ellen and Oprah and Phil and Bill and Rachel and Whoopie and Babs haven't already said a million times? And who will say it, besides of course all those familiar book-toting, self-promoting actors and actresses who go on everyone else's shows too?

If I were fabulously wealthy, as Katie surely is by now, I would travel the world, or at least go to Yellowstone once more before it blows up.  I might buy an island and stay put for a few years, reading all the Great Books or maybe writing one, never leaving home until I ran out of something critical, which in my case would be blood pressure medication, red wine, coffee or Rolos.  I might work on adding something of value to the world, like opening free pet daycare centers in every neighborhood for all the dogs and cats stuck with two working parents who spend their days locked up inside empty homes--the dogs and cats, not the parents. I might build walk-in medical clinics and art schools and farm stands in ghetto areas. I might try a lot of things....anything but another daytime TV talk show.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Better Than Medicare

So little excites me. It's a problem stemming from a combination of my dysfunctional childhood and growing up in New York City and trust me, it sucks. If I could, I would change in a heartbeat into a screaming groupie thrilled by meeting a celebrity, or even just a normal, run-of-the-mill artist happy to sell a painting. But that's just not me.

I said "so little" excites me, which means something does, and that something just happened, and I am excited. I got a new car for my birthday, and I love new cars. They offer the clean slate we all yearn for, the New Year's resolution in tangible form: I will keep this car clean. I will never eat in this car. Nobody will smoke in this car, and that includes pot. This car will never be pulled over by a cop for speeding. This car will remain unblemished; I will park at the far end of the parking lot, always, to insure that. Etc., etc.

If only we could get new bodies as easily as new cars, life would be a dream. For the same money I could have opted for a face lift, a new hip and some liposuction, but this car is right here, right now, and there was no pain or scarring involved, but still I feel years younger. Anyway, it's a beauty (see photo) and my husband is a peach (see photo). Maybe getting old won't be so bad after all!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hold the Front Page!

THOSE news people are in a tizzy wondering if Palin will run for president, if Mitt is upset that Palin showed up in the same town just an hour before he made his announcement that he indeed would run, and if wan Tim Pawlenty, who plans to run, is getting lost in the shuffle. And wait--might Rudy run? Or Chris Christie? What about Huntsman? And holy cow!--The Donald is looking suspiciously like he might jump back in; how exciting would that be!

Besides all their wondering, exactly what do the journalists add to the presidential election process? Nada, just like those overly earnest kids in junior high from The Colonnade or The Clarion or The Hornet who were always hanging around the locker room or the science lab or the drama club, spiral note pads in their hot little hands, trying to scare up a story. They never did anything themselves, but were eager to write about what the other kids were doing.

Except for the salaries, adults who do this for a living are no different from their teenage counterparts. The lowly reporters do all the leg work, eventually turning the goods over to those photogenic gals and guys who smile at the camera and recount what the people who are actually doing something may be doing. And when they haven't a clue as to what those people are doing, that's an even bigger story, with even more reporters chiming in on how big a secret it is because they also don't know. Nobody knows, but soon enough we will all not know what they don't know.

It's exhausting, and it's still only 2011.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Looking for Directions


HOROSCOPES are funny things. We all know they can't be true, yet we read them and find truth, somehow overlooking the impossibility of everyone born in the month of June having simultaneous life experiences. And then there are those written about your exact birth date, like those "If Today Is Your Birthday...." snippets in the newspaper. Could every June 5th celebrant find a new love or a better job or reach a turning point on the very same day as I will? Not possible, yet being a textbook Gemini I keep reading, hoping for hints.

This morning my online horoscope says: "The transitions that began last month were simply setting the table for the major changes you're facing now. The main player in this story is a Solar Eclipse in Gemini on June 1. This supercharged New Moon shines a laser at the core of your being, challenging you to examine your life's purpose and direction."

So far, despite it being June 1, the laser shining at the core of my being has not illuminated much. I just returned home, bitter and despondent, from a 10 AM car repair appointment to fix my broken turn signals and running lights, but when I arrived they said they were down one mechanic and couldn't get to it until later today, if at all. Tomorrow was booked and Friday was no better.

What am I to think? Could my life's purpose be to drive around with my arm out the window making old-fashioned turn signals? Am I meant to stay home nights? Of course, I have the whole day to go yet, so who knows, but thus far all I know is that VIP Auto let me down and I need to find a new mechanic.