Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Planned Grandparenthood

As I do from time to time for a good laugh, I recently purchased the February issue of Prevention magazine, one of the rare issues without Michelle Obama on the cover. Intrigued by how I could lose up to eight pounds in three days, and definitely interested in how to make myself heart-attack proof, what sealed the deal was the cover line, "Sexier at Every Age." Hey, who doesn't need help in that department, I asked myself. Once home, the groceries put away, I turned to the article, hoping I could accomplish whatever I needed to by the time my husband got home from work. "A sparkling sex life is something we'd all like to have, regardless of age," it began promisingly. The author went on to describe the advantages and the challenges of "having a sex life that soars" in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s.....the end. WTF?

I am in my 60s, so I guess those bratty Prevention editors assume I'm either dead or on life support. But hey--cut me, do I not bleed? I'm still here. How rude--not to mention disheartening. I was wondering how to break the bad news to my husband, until  this morning when I read that the Senate is about to vote on contraception. Huh? Apparently, Democrats argue that access to contraception is a basic right! As such, the current administration seeks to include coverage of contraception as part of all health insurance plans. Well, why stop there, I wondered; what about us aging baby boomers? What are we, chopped liver all of a sudden? In fairness to all, I think the government should insist that health insurance companies also cover the following necessary expenses:
1. Unlimited tubes of K-Y jelly
2. A reasonable number of scented candles per household per month
3. Wine, whiskey, port, or whatever it takes, in whatever quantities
3. Satin sheets, one set per household per annum
4. "Al Green: The Love Songs Collection" boxed set (Available for $13.99 plus S & H)
5. Medical marijuana brownies (Sugar-free and gluten-free when applicable)
6. DVDs of "Last Tango in Paris" and "Unfaithful"
7. Blindfolds

Should the insurance companies balk, they need only be reminded that us geezers no longer require contraception or abortions. Think of the savings.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blogging Happy

I have been accused of being too negative. My subject matter is at times too dark. I complain about too many things. So today I will write only about the things that make me happy. The list follows:

1. There is a grocery store about three miles from my house called Bow Street Market. They sell an item called a Blondie that is the best thing I have ever tasted--in fact, I could go for one right now. It's a white cake brownie with butterscotch and chocolate chips baked right in, and a graham-cracker crusty bottom, and some squiggly lines of hard chocolate on the top. I love them. They come individually wrapped in a neat little plastic bag tied with a ribbon. (A nice presentation never hurts.)
2. A steaming mug of hot, black coffee first thing in the morning makes me feel good immediately, which is why days on which I have surgery or lab tests scheduled in the morning are such a drag.

That's pretty much it. Perhaps now you understand why so much of my writing is about all the rest.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Occupy Hollywood

Some things are so over, it's not funny. One of them is the televised presentation of the Oscars, where ridiculously rich and surgically enhanced movies stars strive to out-dress and outshine one another publicly while the lowly peasants ogle and applaud their antics from the sidelines. It is perhaps the most stunning display of the worst characteristics of human beings to be seen anywhere.

To be honest, I actually did have it on in the next room last night, and saw things as I walked in and out that horrified me. Billy Crystal, the once-funny comic, is now at age 63 a ghoulish caricature of his former self, with a bizarre clown face stretched so taut it might just burst if he smiles too hard. Plus, he looks sort of like my Grandma. I also saw Angelina Jolie, an actress who might be beautiful and sexy on Mars, baring her anorexic arms and sticking out one anorexic leg from a slit in her dress to supposedly get everyone watching all excited. But the moment that caused me to shout "Yikes!" was when everyone's favorite Latino, Jennifer Lopez, in a flesh-toned, glittery mermaid dress, shared the limelight with her very own nipple.

Turning off the TV, I reviewed what I had learned: That despite their fame and riches, the Hollywood elite are a pack of superficial dimwits, for the most part lacking the happiness, inner peace, self-knowledge and acceptance of death we all hope to find. I'll never understand why we, as a society, pay them all so much money just to pretend, while our nurses and teachers and waiters and trash collectors and construction workers earn so much less while doing so much more to enhance our lives. That should stop, and as soon as possible.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Not About the Oscars

Weekends always make me slightly uncomfortable, in that I feel like I'm never having a good enough time. It's that whole "TGIF" thing. Even when I had a regulation office job, of which there are too many to recount, I was never all that happy it was Friday--not that I actively disliked Fridays, but I did like my work. And the implication that we were all just miserable working stiffs who had to go out and get drunk on Friday nights to compensate for the "daily grind" spent punching a clock at some vapid desk job rubbed me the wrong way. I aim to enjoy every day, not just two days a week.

In my single days I often chose to enjoy a perfectly boring weekend doing absolutely nothing and nobody gave me any guff about it. But since I got married a quarter-century ago, I have been tasked with making plans for interesting and stimulating recreational activities that will give us, it is hoped, something to remember. This means tickets to something or, in good weather, an outdoor adventure of some sort. When there's nothing planned I have obviously failed at my job, which is bad, since Mitch counts on me for fun as much as I count on him for money.

Besides, the women always make the plans. At least, in civilized society --I have no idea how it is handled among tribal people living in the bush or the outback or the hinterlands. And young people my son's age (24) are changing everything. In fact, I have it on good authority that they are no longer choosing diamonds as engagement rings because of the horrible diamond mining practices. You can find out all about it in a movie called "Blood Diamonds" starring Leonardo De Caprio who might or might not be nominated for Oscar in that film. (Which reminds me, the Oscars are on TV tonight and for the first time in my life I have no idea who is the host of the show and no plans to turn it on. I must be getting old.)

The bottom line: Last night I failed and we wandered aimlessly, without plans. We ended up having dinner at a shopping mall chain restaurant called "Ruby Tuesday." (On a Saturday; go figure.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Honing My Skills

So it turns out that my earlier post entitled "You Could Die Today" had a magnetic title after all. I was worried it might be a turnoff, but scads of people have clicked on it already. Who knows, maybe they left without reading it when it turned out not to be a snuff film or something equally gruesome. But I remain surprised. That's why I just can't hit the big time, like J. K. Rowling with her Harry Potter wizards and all those bodice-ripping romance writers like Danielle Steele. I just don't have my finger on the pulse. I have never really been a hit with the masses. For example, today I got a rejection from a literary agent concerning the novel I am currently working on. It's about normal people and what happens to them after a tragedy occurs in their family. Nobody in the family is a wizard. Not one of them is a vampire. No clothes are ripped off any bodices in any of the scenes. In fact, there is not a bodice in the whole book; I think that's where I'm missing the mark.

I checked out the titles of the agency that rejected me today, and they were full of "Love's Lusty" this and "Vampire" that. I guess I'll have to learn how to write that way if I want to ever make it big, or even make it small. To begin, I'll try to incorporate more adjectives into my writing; that seems quite popular and it's something I never do. For example, I might normally write, "He woke up and saw that it was raining outside." Instead, I think I'll try, "He woke up slowly, flexing his taut, supple muscles against the smooth, satin sheets, then leaned over his sexy, lithe, still-slumbering lover and gazed out at the sultry morning, aware of her delicious breathing as he noticed the hard-driving, pounding rain, which reminded him of their night together. Suddenly hungry, he bit her neck and drank breakfast."

As an added benefit, it will certainly boost my word count. I'll try it.

You Could Die Today

The current brouhaha over the National Enquirer's front-page photo of Whitney Houston lying in her casket, with the words "The Last Photo" as the headline, got me laughing--and thinking. Nobody shouted "Foul!" when the same paper published unflattering pictures of Whitney alive and high on crack or drunk and disheveled, yet this one of her dead, her well-coiffed and beautifully embalmed head resting on a satin pillow, eyes closed, is deemed to be beyond common decency.

Come on folks, get with the program! Death is not a monster that visits only bad people. I promise: If you live well, get plenty of rest and exercise, take fish oil every day and eat your veggies, stay away from cigarettes and salt and alcohol and red meat, use your seat belt and avoid rabid animals and swimming with sharks, you too will die someday, maybe even today. What's worse, so will I. Be ready.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Talking Points

Things nice people don't talk about:
Fear of death
Gangs inside prisons
Partial-birth abortions
Nursing homes
Chinese sweat shops
Obama's middle name
How diamonds are mined
How fat Oprah is again
Their gay children

Things nice people love to talk about:
Diet and exercise
Home renovation projects
Who will host the Oscars
The latest dead celebrity
Growing vegetables
Those horrid Republicans
Gay marriage and how it's fine with them
Their pets
Who's pregnant
Their hair

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Red Rum

It's funny how the only blog post that ever got me readers through the roof was the one where I allegedly called for Keith Olbermann's death. That of course was nonsense since as anyone who knows me knows, I cannot kill a bug, fly, flea or what have you. When pressed--say I'm alone and there's a bee and I am allergic to bees so it's either him or me-- I might kill it, or I might just get a hotel room. When my son was little I killed spiders for him, but that was fueled by a mother's love, which is similar to but stronger than adrenaline. Besides, it took me days to recover.

It's no secret: people adore being horrified, which is second only to being terrified. Death, murder and killing are all very popular as the subjects of books, movies, plays and all those TV cop shows. Also in favor are the newer crop of shows about forensic specialists performing autopsies, with murderers supplying the dead bodies. Yet in real life, people hate murder. Certainly nobody wants to be murdered, but it grabs our attention more than almost anything else except suicide, another surefire show-stopper. Anyway, since my most popular post was about murder, I've considered that one way to get more readers is to do that again, but really there's almost nobody I can think of that I'd like dead besides Keith, who bless his heart has been gone for over a year now.

Thus my blog has low readership, unlike other blogs that get hundreds of hits and scads of comments. I get relatively few hits and no comments except from my true buddies. In fact, I often feel as if nobody is reading and am tempted to put in a test phrase like Paul is dead now just for fun. After all, I write because it's almost the most fun I ever have, unless my husband is home, and even then sometimes writing my blog is more fun than that. Now there's a test. But it can't be left hanging out there at the end, so easy to spot, so I'm writing this sentence just to bury it deeper in the paragraph. There, that ought to do it. Maybe just a few more words. Okay, now I'm done.  FYI, Keith Olbermann is still alive, he just got the boot and isn't on TV anymore. You can thank me privately, each in your own way.

Eat the Rich

Obama disparagingly calls them The Rich. He is referring to those folks who work hard, earn a decent living and as a result, have expendable income. Long before they were The Rich they were little kids growing up in America who were taught that anything is possible, in fact the sky's the limit in our great nation! Then they became the students who got good grades, the college graduates who found good jobs and got promoted, eventually starting their own businesses and succeeding by delivering something people value. In time they became the backbone of our capitalist society, not to mention the ones with all those jobs everyone wants.

When did those formerly good and decent people magically transform into The Rich so loathed today by all the losers and deadbeats and welfare recipients and left-wing pundits and couch potatoes and dropouts and talk show audiences and my husband's rabid Democratic cousins? Maybe when nobody was looking, kind of like the kreplach joke, a staple of Jewish humor which I now present in case you haven't heard it:

Once upon a time there was a little boy who hated kreplach. Every time he saw a piece of kreplach in the soup he screamed, "Aaaaah, kreplach!" So his mother decided to teach him not to be afraid of kreplach.  She took him into the kitchen and rolled out some dough. "See, it's just like a pancake," she said.
     "Just like a pancake," said the little boy.
     Then she took a piece of meat and rolled it into a ball. "See, it's just like a meatball," she said.
     "Just like a meatball," said the boy.
     Then she rolled up the meat in the dough and held it up. "See, it's just like a dumpling," she said.
     "Just like a dumpling," said the boy. Then she dropped it into the soup and put it in front of the boy, and he ran from the room screaming, "Aaaaah, kreplach!"

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fledgling Buddhist Seeks Downward Facing Dog

Meditation is so in right now. That and yoga. And eating yogurt with probiotics for a healthy digestive tract. And suddenly it is very important to be mindful. Mindfulness is definitely in. Wanting to be in, and wanting to be mindful, yesterday I bought a magazine called Shambhala Sun and read it cover to cover, in the hopes that I might speed up my transformation to a more mindful, more digestively-healthy self.

I felt at a slight disadvantage as I have no idea what shambhala means. Nevertheless I read an article called "A Meditation Instruction" by someone named Chogyam Trungpa, with those two little dots over the O in his name, and he made it all sound so simple. In a nutshell, you just breathe in and then breathe out, and pay attention to your breathing, and you're doing it. That's meditation. Oh, and you should be sitting down while you're doing it, and do it every day at a specific time, for like 20 minutes. Fine, I can do that, I thought. How exciting--a whole new me is within my grasp just from breathing in and breathing out; who knew?

But the deeper I delved into this magazine, the more it seemed like any other magazine in that it was filled with advertising, in this case targeted for aspiring Buddhists. You can buy shrine materials. You can buy prayer beads and meditation cushions. (I believe those cushions are just like any cushions, but when you sit on them while meditating they become meditation cushions, like the whole OB/GYN thing.) There were several ads for incense and bells and gongs, although those must come later because the article I read did not say one thing about a bell or a gong, or even a cushion for that matter. Chogyam made a point of saying sit anywhere, but sit up straight. Actually he said to "sit with the posture you would use if you were asking your lover to marry you," which is odd since usually that's on bended knee, but I digress.

There were ads for mindful psychotherapists, and who the heck would want any other kind? You can find Buddhist real estate brokers. There was an ad for Divine Buddhist jewelry that looked like normal jewelry but it had Indian writing on it and also little Buddha charms. There were many ads and coupons for meditation retreats and seminars and meetings and conventions, where I could pay handsomely to sit in a large group of people and engage in quiet self-reflection, which is somewhat confusing because the article I read said that all meditation is done alone. (I will have to re-read that article.)

The bottom line is that all of this will help me achieve Oneness With the Universe, something I desperately would like to experience for even five minutes before I die, since I always feel such Opposite of Oneness With the Universe.  Meditation can help me learn how to find joy in every breath! To seize the moment! To live life fully! In fact, Living Fully is a book that I can buy right now that will help me do that. (Order now at all major booksellers or online at I can find my soul mate and share my dharma, whatever that is, at, "where spiritual singles meet." There is an ad for a Buddhist astrologer and another for a "focusing session" on the phone with a Zen priest who had eight years of training in Japan. There are so many new and exciting ways to spend money: Buddhist prayer flags, Dharma sculptures, guided meditation CDs.

Or I could just go sit in a dark corner in my living room and light a candle and breathe in and out for free. I've got half a mind to do that.

Happy Presidents' Day

Since it's the third Monday in February, everyone is probably sleeping in and not reading this yet, since nobody works on such an important holiday. The schools are closed, government offices are shuttered, and worst of all, there's no mail.  Not that there ever is, but this slams the door on the possibility of something good coming.

Anyway, today is quite important as we all know. It is a date on which nothing big ever really happened, yet all the mattresses go on sale. This is slightly annoying to me and to my husband, as we purchased a new mattress at full price about a month ago. What the heck is wrong with us? How could we forget Presidents' Day, with it's intriguing apostrophe at the end?

Remember when schools were closed for two separate holidays in February, to celebrate the birthdays of two different presidents? Those were the good old days! But that got too expensive, so the decision was made by important people, involving ink on paper and filibustering in the halls of Congress one would imagine, to combine those birthdays into one special and unique day that is actually the birthday of neither. It truly is a day "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Why they sell mattresses on this day remains a mystery.

Now get out there and celebrate!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

One Way to Cut Health Care Costs

If you ask me, Christian Science is the caviar of religion: It's not for every taste, but those with an educated palate can detect and appreciate its finer points. I'm not claiming to be Miss Smartypants, but I do know a little bit about it since my first husband's family was of that persuasion. And while I'm usually opposed to organized anything, if pressed to choose a religious affiliation, I think I'd go with that one. Think about it: without doctors, the whole health care football goes out the window. Who knows what problems our politicians might tackle without that albatross? There would be no more need for Medicare and Medicaid, since nobody would be calling any doctors; think of all the savings! Perhaps most important, young Jewish women would finally be free to date all men, not just med students.

All kidding aside, or at least for as long as I can manage, it seems like right now is the perfect time for Christian Science to go mainstream. It teaches that disease is illusory and can be overcome through healing, and let's face it--right now, healing is in. Alternative and holistic medicine are cool and sophisticated. Everyone with the slightest shred of self-respect does yoga and meditates, or at least say they do. Probiotics are de riguer for your immune system, which by way is the system of the moment, and are available in yogurt, which is clearly the most self-righteous thing you can eat. The leading adjective used by advertising copywriters is "organic," followed closely by "healthy" and "all-natural." Fish oil is the current drug of choice for baby boomers, used to cure a variety of ills, and that's exactly the kind of non-medical thinking inherent in Christian Science.

Besides all the money you'll save on ineffective medications and operations that you didn't need in the first place, you can wear your own underwear all the time, use any form of birth control you like, and eat bacon til the cows come home. What's not to like?