Friday, May 30, 2014

Eat Your Lawn

The lawn mower guy came today, like he does every now and then, freaking my cats out and sending them scurrying for cover. (Obviously they believed me when I said it was a cat-eating monster looking for lunch.) Since we don't own a riding mower and we have a really big lawn, it makes good sense to pay someone else to bring his over and do it for us. But what doesn't make sense is having a lawn at all.

                                                               Gordon Studer
Deep down you may think that the greener your lawn, the more adept you are at taming the Earth and showing it who's boss. That's faulty thinking, since the lawn's very existence represents a meaningless waste of time and money. Even worse, its maintenance delivers an ongoing blow to our environment: Estimates suggest that nearly 17 million gallons of gasoline are spent each summer in the fueling of lawn-care equipment in the United States. That's approximately 50% more than the amount spilled in the Exxon Valdez incident that had everybody wailing, until they forgot all about it. And the continual use of pesticides and fertilizers has been shown to contribute to global warming. Then there's the watering...

It's a crazy business when you stop and think about it, which few people do. Instead, imagine if all those lawns were vegetable gardens.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memories Are Made of This

How about a Snoopy ceramic candy dish?

Even with today's high unemployment rates, I'm surprised more people aren't out of work. For instance, whoever was responsible for the following item on sale at the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York, as described in today's Wall Street Journal:  "One gift-shop item in particular has raised hackles: a decorative ceramic platter in the shape of the U.S., with heart symbols marking the spots where the hijacked planes made impact on 9/11."

I can't help but wonder how the designer ever imagined it, or how the museum director approved it, and finally how the manufacturer produced it, without any of them wondering just what one would serve on it. Crudites? Hummus and pita? Hearts of palm? I also wonder if those people all still have their jobs.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Making Your Mark

Escalator, Oil on canvas, 42.5 x 62 inches
Imagine you are the only person left alive in the world. You can just be yourself and do what you want. What would you do? Except for wondering what the heck happened to everyone else and hoping they didn't suffer, you might do better than expected. Living one's life as if one is alone in the world can sometimes, and I stress sometimes, elevate one's performance to a level higher than it can ever be when we are distracted by silliness and diminished by comparisons to others.

This realization hit me while wandering through the largest museum retrospective of the work of painter Richard Estes, now on view at the Portland Museum of Art.  The exhibition, organized by the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, will run through September 7 and is worth a trip to Maine. (Really, book it now.)

Estes, still painting at 82, is a master of photo-realism who achieved success among his peers yet little notoriety among the public, unlike former street artist Keith Haring whose work, by the time of his death from AIDS at 32, had spawned a cult. Haring's simplistic images, found on coffee mugs, posters, t-shirts, calendars and refrigerator magnets, embody the exact opposite of every Estes painting, the exquisite details of which all but defy description.

Keith Haring's people, dancing?
Working from his own photographs, Estes spent his life depicting urban landscapes, most notably the streets, subways, bridges, waterways, shop windows and people of New York City. Many include reflections of city streets in shop windows and mirrors reflecting those reflections; they sometimes make for a dizzying puzzle. After vacationing on Mount Desert Island each summer, he began painting equally realistic landscapes of Maine's woods, waters and rocky cliffs.

It's impossible to fathom how much time Estes must have spent on even one painting, but when you see the body of work before you--the 50 in this show are only a fraction of his output--it's clear he wasn't much of a party animal. The bottom line: Find what you do and do it, and let everyone else party; when the party's over all you've got is a hangover when you might have created a legacy.

Central Savings, Acrylic and oil on canvas

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Who's In Charge Here?

This new girl, Trixie, is just one more in a string of personalities who occupy the space allotted to me this time around. She shares it with Andrea Rouda and Andrea Schamis and all those other ones who don't even have names but still have a vote. This situation cannot stand; from now on I am at least going to demand an ID card for voting, despite the fact that Obama doesn't think American citizens should be required to have one in order to elect our rulers. I guess I run a tighter ship than the S.S. United States of America.

I am certainly not unusual in this multiple-personality thing; everyone's got a few, and the more the merrier, as they say. We excuse someone's odd behavior by saying, "he's not himself today," when really he is quite himself, just a different one, and maybe one we have yet to meet. If we all handed out business cards that listed our different selves, then people would know who or what to expect over the course of a relationship with us. That would take care of a lot of unnecessary conflicts and surely lower the divorce rate by lowering the marriage rate in the first place.

While I have learned to live in harmony with all my different "ones," still I wish someone would take command of meal planning, as I often find myself stuck with a mouthful of food I don't want and have to spit it down the garbage disposal. That's quite wasteful in these lean economic times, and also sort of disgusting.

Monday, May 26, 2014

What's In a Name?

I have decided I do not want to live the rest of my life with the name Andrea. I'm sick of it. Also, it has recently come to my attention that the name means "warrior," and since I am a pacifist who is against war, against violence, have never hit anyone, cannot kill a bug, and refuse to see any Brian de Palma film, it seems wrong for me. So I chose a new name that seems much more fun, less serious, and not at all depressed. I will now answer to Trixie.

This decision has caused consternation among several people who shall remain nameless--ha ha, no pun intended. The real issue is what our name says to the world about us and how it makes us feel about ourselves. Does someone named Adolf want to kill Jews? How about an Elvis--does he sing and sway his hips? Is every Mary boring? And why can't we choose our own names anyway?

I was named by my mother, who despite a native intelligence was clueless, a fact that is becoming more obvious to me every day. For starters, she was in a theater watching a horror movie when she went into labor with me. Who goes to the movies when they are that far along? And since she was hoping for a boy the name Andrew was all picked out, but then I arrived and she just went with Andrea, the female "version" of a male name. As for my middle name, she drew a complete blank and went with the month of my birth, mostly because my older sister's middle name was Mae, and so coming up with June seemed easy enough. I was ten years old before I realized that my sister's birthday is in November and that everyone's middle name is not the month they were born.

Everyone should just be named "Baby" Whatever until they are old enough to exhibit some personality traits, and then let them name themselves. At least, that's what Trixie thinks.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thanks for the Memories

I altered my route on my daily walk this morning to traipse through the town cemetery. I figured it being Memorial Day weekend, which is a holiday that celebrates dead soldiers who died while trying to kill total strangers--little to be proud of if you ask me--it was the least I could do, literally. I stopped at several of the graves with American flags stuck in the ground near their tombstone, signifying someone dead who had served in the military. You didn't have to die fighting, just as long as you served and then you died. It could have been a natural death in your sleep, or in a violent car crash, or a shooting in a convenience store, or a train derailment; whatever, if you wore a uniform and now you're sleeping with the fishes, this is your day.

Outside of that, my Memorial Day celebration will be limited to not having our garbage picked up tomorrow. I would watch a war movie tonight but I'm a pacifist, and besides, the 20-year anniversary of the OJ Simpson trial is the subject of a TV special starring Geraldo Rivera airing this evening. Don't you want to see how they all turned out?

Marcia Clark looks younger than springtime, and she definitely straightened that crazy, curly hair. Mark Fuhrman is still very handsome and sort of Botoxy, with those grey temples that are so attractive, although he says the OJ case destroyed his entire life. Too bad Johny Cochran is dead, because he put on quite a show, but hopefully Kato Kaelen will show up, and Nicole's sister is quite a pistol.

Check your local listings, and have a happy holiday!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Viral Helium

Morgan Freeman, windbag extraordinaire.
The worst thing about the Internet--actually, the only down side--is that you've got to take the good with the bad. It's almost impossible to shield yourself from the trash that's out there since the very act of logging on to just about any website opens up the floodgates. Even if you don't choose to follow something stupid down the rabbit hole, still, you know it's there.

So it is with a new "viral" video showing actor Morgan Freeman sucking helium from a balloon and then talking in his usual drone about something scientific, except he sounds funny. Apparently millions of people are watching this. Sick of being an outsider, I decided I wanted to see it too, just in case it actually contains some sort of valuable truth.

It doesn't. It just makes it clear that some people will do anything for a buck. (I guess, after all, that is a valuable truth.) To learn more, I sent away for a book I recently heard about that explores this very thing. "Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments of Making Money" talks about how to view the accumulation of wealth in a positive and spiritual light, instead of thinking that rich people are bloodsucking vampires feeding off the poor. Written by a rabbi, I'm hoping it doesn't put me to sleep before I learn how.

Friday, May 23, 2014

FILM REVIEW: Oh. My. Godzilla.

Two mean dudes duking it out.
Despite the silly plot and bad acting you'll want to see Hollywood's latest take on the classic monster film Godzilla for several reasons. For one, it's a rousing good time, and so implausible it's funny. Shot in color but with the feel of black and white, it's rife with references to that original one you remember, the one with all the Japanese people. It's also pretty scary, not while you're watching it but once you leave the theater and let your mind wander: Could such creatures ever exist, spawned perhaps by all our weird science and Cheez Whiz? Who knows, maybe global warming is the least of our problems.

Certainly Godzilla is. In fact he's an angel compared to the other monsters who show up. There are two of them and they're both really mean MUTOs, which stands for something I forget but which easily could be Morally Unacceptable Threatening Organisms. They are also very ugly and slimy and always hungry for anything and everything radioactive. Their diet includes nuclear power plants, bombs, submarines, jet planes and entire cities with power grids. (I'm pretty sure one of them ate the Eiffel Tower.)

But the overriding reason to see this movie is because you get a lot of bang for your buck. In case you missed some past blockbusters, you can fill in a few of the holes with this one. Jurassic Park donated its opening credits flyover while The Impossible was obviously a great role model for the tsunami. Throw in some tilted chaos from Titanic, the sets from War Games and Apollo 13, the reunion of the two lovers from Reds, the Golden Gate Bridge melee from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the monsters fighting in King Kong and that giant ball chasing down Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and you're pretty much up to speed.

Not Shakespeare but definitely fun and worth the price of admission, and really, isn't that all that matters?

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

The following ad appears today on Maine's, under the heading "Artists":

Starving Artist
I am in between paychecks and need some basic supplies like shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, paper towels and food, anything you could help with would be great and I will give you a 8.5 x 11 drawing. Message me if you think you can help! :) 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Drop That Clam!

The following disturbing item from our local police blotter suggests that not only is Big Brother watching us on every street corner of every major city in America, but also here in so-called Vacationland:

5/19 at 11:24 AM: Edward W. Smith, 65, of Litchfield, was issued a summons on Winslow Park Way by officer Tom Kay on a charge of catching undersized clams.

One wonders how this crime was discovered. Was the officer driving by and casually glancing out his patrol car window when he spied the nefarious activity, thinking, "Hmm, those clams look mighty small?" Or was it perhaps the result of someone with an axe to grind tipping off the cops with an anonymous phone call saying, "Check out what's going down on Winslow Park Way right now?"

These days you just can't be too careful.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Know What I Like, and That Ain't It

Ceramic "objet d-art."
Apparently there are two worlds: One populated by the Old and another full of the Young. Thank God I live in the former most of the time. The existence of the latter is not a shock to me, but I pay little attention. As the mother of a musically inclined 20-something I know it's not the Beatles out there anymore, but still I shield myself from any music containing the lyrics "fuck dat nigga," or similar sentiments.

When it comes to art I am equally old-fashioned, preferring things that are actually pleasing to the eye. So it was with trepidation that I ventured onto the website for The Whitney Museum of American Art, an institution I have avoided since the day it opened its doors back in 1966 when I was an art student at New York University. Almost every visit to the place made me nauseous, so I finally stopped going unless forced to for a school assignment.

Then today a friend posted an image on Facebook she found disturbing that is currently on exhibit in the museum's  2014 Biennial. The alleged "art" is a mash-up of a TV screen shot of Andy Rooney with some paint thrown on it. (Oh yeah, Rooney was her Dad.)

Andy Rooney surely would have plenty to say about this!
My curiosity piqued, I went to the website where a quick look around told me all I need to know: The place has gone from bad to worse. For example, one of the "juried" pieces of "art" is a series of photographs documenting a transgender couple in the midst of their change--he's becoming a she and she's becoming a he. One wonders why surgery was necessary when they started out with different genitals anyway; does it really matter whose got which ones? And besides, why do we care?

If this is considered to be "art" among the young, I guess I should plan on installing grab bars and a ramp leading into my new art gallery.

Big Brother's Daily Missive

In case you ever feel alone, get over it because you're not. People are watching your every move and weighing your every word, so it's best to learn what's expected. In case you're out of the loop for some reason, like a recent coma, here is what you need to know today to avoid being shunned by the rest of society:

1. Homosexuality is not only perfectly fine but gays are actually a whole lot more interesting than straight people, at least according to them. When's the last time you ever heard of a Straight Pride parade? Of course they should marry and adopt children and then get divorced, as is the God-given right of everyone.

2. All members of minority groups are much more valuable than those in the majority, especially if you are running for office. Ditto poor people, especially the jobless, the homeless, and all illegal immigrants. Like Jesus, they have suffered for all of us and deserve not only our sympathy but a leg up, a handout, a Green Card, a free ride and more.

3. Regular old 100% white people suck, and in fact the older they are, the suckier they get. The only exceptions are the obese and the handicapped who are deserving of our sympathy, respect and whatever else you have to spare.

4. Republicans are scum, plain and simple.

5. Hillary Clinton is a goddess, as is daughter Chelsea Clinton, now with child and bearing the future heir to the throne, and of course Bill is the Highest Deity. Those Clintons represent the best of the best, and without being too attractive which spoils it.

6. All beautiful Hollywood starlets are sluts and pigs.

7. Being thin or trying to be is a sign of mental illness, almost as bad as trying to be rich or actually being rich.

8. Shopping is the best thing you can do to ward off the blues and stimulate the economy.

9. Reading books is for nerds, unless the book is # 1 or 2 on The New York Times best seller list, and then it is required, but only on a Kindle, preferably a Paperwhite.

10. President Obama is the greatest president we have ever had.

Okay then, get out there and mingle with confidence. And have a good day, and be sure to tell everyone you meet to have a good day too!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Don't Look Now

For these folks, the mental decline may already have begun.
While there are many troubling examples of society's collective sinking intellect, the rise of the "selfie" is surely a leading contender. Despite all the professed yoga-meditation-locavore bullshit rampant among the younger generations, it seems that these days all they really crave is a great Facebook profile shot. 

I often say, only half-joking, that if the revelers at Woodstock had been in possession of iPhones nobody would have seen the show. So I was not at all surprised to read that according to several psychiatrists, the obsessive taking of selfies--trying to get one that looks just right--can cause mental illness, and may even lead to suicide.

Ha! I've always thought those smart phones were dumb.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Two Feathers in Portland's Cap

Some people just can't be satisfied. Apparently I am one of those. I'm always grousing that there's little to do here in Maine--except for hiking, biking, sailing, kayaking, gardening, rafting and swimming, weather permitting. But not much aimed at the intellect. Yet, after five years as a local resident I still had not visited the world's only cryptozoology museum, which is located right here in downtown Portland, Maine. Until yesterday. (While I'm divulging, I have been to Paris several times and not once have I set foot inside the Louvre. I have also never been to the Maine Jewish Museum. But at least now I can say I have been to the International Cryptozoology Museum, and I'm betting not that many of my readers can.)

Cryptozoology is defined as the study of hidden or unknown animals; as one might imagine, they are tough to pin down. Bottom line: It's all about Bigfoot, a.k.a. Sasquatch, and some other maybe-they-exist cryptids like Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) and a few I've never heard of. Evidence has been amassed after "five decades of field research" by the museum's director, a man named Loren Coleman who is either wildly wacky or plum out of his mind.

While many of the displays consist of rubber and foam depictions of Bigfoot, i.e. toys, still others purport to be scientifically sound and indisputable evidence that the big hairy guy exists. Come to Maine and judge for yourself. Or don't bother and just look at these pictures I took at the museum and consider it done. If you do make the trip be sure to stop at OTTO Pizza which is just a few blocks away, and really is a damn good reason to visit Maine.

Friday, May 16, 2014

What Happened to Jack?

I saw a picture of actor Jack Nicholson online today and it got me wondering just what the heck happens to some people as they age. Jack was a heartthrob when I was growing up, and while he wasn't my cup of tea exactly, I could see where he was handsome and quite attractive.

Now 77, he's turned into a monster and bears little resemblance to his former self. Thank goodness I have not undergone this transformation yet, at least not completely. But Jack is only 10 years older than I--is this what's in store for me? When will it happen? What happened to Jack anyway?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Walk Down Rubble-strewn Memory Lane

Memba that?
Say you're going to New York City and you're bringing the family. Assuming you are not royalty or billionaires, this will make quite a dent in the family budget, so you've got to plan wisely and well. Here are some options:

1. Mom, Dad and the two teens go to a Broadway show: Fun and exciting, about two or three hours worth of distraction, crummy side seats at a matinee will run about $115.00 each. ($460.00)

2. Ride the Staten Island Ferry to the Statue of Liberty: $72 for the whole family, and an extra $12 if you want to get up into Liberty's Crown ($84). The ferry ride is a blast, and you can hang out as long as you want on the island and make a day of it.

3. A Museum: There are so many it's tough to choose, and they all run about $20-$24 per person. There's the Museum of Modern Art which is sort of a bore unless you are a painter or a true art lover, but the space is nice. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is like going to another country and one you won't ever want to leave, and you'll never forget it. Whatever they charge is too little, and better than college as far as getting an education.

Then there's that new museum, the one celebrating 9/11 that just opened. You know, the day when those radical Islamists knocked down the two tallest buildings in Manhattan with airplanes and killed 3,000 innocent people, and the smoke and debris rained down on everything and ruined nearby houses and apartments and displaced families for months, and firemen and other disaster teams got cancer from working on the clean-up. That one. And now this fun new museum has pictures of the actual horror, and artifacts like bloody shoes that were once on someone's feet and were found in a pile of rubble, and a crashed ambulance and recordings of survivors describing how horrible it all was. Sound good?

I'd go for the boat ride to Miss Liberty and a round of Nathan's kosher dogs and forget the 9/11 House of Horrors, which by the way cost $700 million to build. I bet those terrorists are cracking up.

The Sore Loser

Like any good Jew, I play Scrabble. I started as a child and have continued my whole life. While playing for real is more fun, online Scrabble will do if nobody else is around, and from time to time I have played with what is called a Random Opponent while waiting for one of my friends to take his or her turn. Recently I started a game with a stranger named Bill.

I was winning from the get-go, and Bill didn't like it one bit. He did not chat. He took forever between turns and then played hard, using unusual and odd words he obviously had searched for on Scrabble cheat-sheets or found through trial and error, always beating my score but not by much. Then I would take my turn and sail past him. He started taking longer and longer between turns, like he was really trying hard. I imagined him biting his nails.

Nearing the end with just a few letters left in my rack, one of which was the J, it was clear I would win. Bill played the word CUNT and was slightly ahead. It was my turn. Stunned, I wondered if that were directed at me or just a coincidence, when suddenly Bill forfeited the game and it was over. Bill was gone.

From now on I am just playing with people I actually know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bambi is Real

It's a good thing that experts in such matters declare dreams are meaningless, because if they meant anything I would check myself into a mental hospital ASAP after the one I had last night.

In it I wandered lost and alone in a foreign land like Syria or Afghanistan or Iran among thousands of refugees in long robes. My accommodations were hostile: A plowed field shared with a group of nomads and some large dogs. When I ventured into the city I was faced with dozens of traffic circles jammed with crumbling jalopies. Nobody spoke English and I could never find my way anywhere and it was all too horrible. (It was almost like my trip to Barcelona last December although nobody got food poisoning so it wasn't quite that bad.)

I was thrilled to awaken and find myself in a real bed in a real house in a town I could name, with things like an alarm clock and a cat and a bathroom within sight. My morning walk was a stark contrast to my chaotic dreamworld, since Freeport in spring is almost identical to a Disney cartoon: Blue skies with fluffy white clouds, birds chirping, yellow, red and pink flowers popping up at every turn, and a family of six or seven deer cavorting on my front lawn when I returned, their white tails waving in the sunlight.

Thank God for real life.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Too Much Drama

What cop looks like this? (I want that hair.)
I guess I've seen too many episodes of "Law & Order: SVU." I watch the show mostly for Mariska Hargitay's hair, but still the stories do get in and now my mind rushes to tawdry, twisted plots at a moment's notice. Like today, for instance.

I decided it was time to indulge myself in a rare, infrequent activity: getting a facial. I have done this about three times a year for the last couple of years. It's expensive and unnecessary but still, since I walk around dressed in rags most of the time I'm saving money there, and I love the whole experience. Most of all I really enjoy seeing the woman --no names, it's too risky--who performs the service, in her home which is stunningly beautiful and ultra-relaxing so it's always a treat. She's funny and interesting. The whole thing takes about two hours and it's better than a European vacation, especially if you're going to Barcelona.

The trouble was I lost her phone number in my transfer to a new phone a few weeks ago, so I went online to find it on her website. Which is no longer there. Then I Googled her and found out she was arrested in her home at 5:30 in the morning about a month ago, for an "outsanding warrant." I have no way of finding out what happened, but of course I am assuming the worst, and now I can't believe I ever let her put a hand on me, and me half-naked to boot, with scented candles burning and new-age music tinkling in the background, what with her horrible criminal record and being wanted in several states, and having had several assumed names, and having said online that she studied aesthetics in Paris, France when I know for a fact she has never been out of the country, or maybe she just said that to throw me off the scent. Oy. I mean really, what should I think?

Then I called the friend who led me to her in the first place to see what she knows, and she is not answering her cell or her home phone even though she always does, and she's sort of got some sketchy guy in her life right now and there's a restraining order and....well, you see where I'm going.

Now probably everything is fine and my face lady was arrested for outstanding parking tickets and my friend's cell phone is broken and she's out for the day riding her bike or picking daffodils or something equally wholesome like that. Maybe. But still. She called me earlier today and it only rang once and there was nobody there and I called right back but no answer.

The mind wanders.

Pity the Overdog

Hated by millions.

Poor Ann Coulter: She's thin, blonde, pretty and white, so of course she is hated. She is the exact opposite of Oprah, who everyone not just loves but worships. Come on, admit it: Most of America relates to the underdog because most of America is an underdog. All those overdogs might as well go jump in the nearest lake.

Adored by billions.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Local Color

A New Yorker friend of mine recently confessed that after a few weeks of reading my blog she fears that living in Maine without benefit of interesting museums, opera, theater, the ballet, fine restaurants and a variety of stimulating classes, seminars and lectures is turning me into a quivering agoraphobic.

Although I appreciate her concern, she's wrong, since agoraphobia is a disorder characterized by panic attacks and anxiety when one is in situations considered to be dangerous. That's certainly not my problem. Instead, living in Maine is possibly turning me into a Thoreau-like dullard who finds the inner workings of a flower more interesting than another opening of another show, or even the best corned beef on rye at Katz's Delicatessen.

I admit that life in Maine is a stretch for any New Yorker, but after five years here it's starting to grow on me. Last weekend we attended a birthday celebration at the local "yacht club" where several of our neighbors dock their boats, none of which are yachts. It was a charming affair where many of the attendees seemed to have materialized from an old Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell. Party attire included yellow slickers (this being May it was raining, and we were right on the water), fleece vests, plaid flannel shirts, denim jackets and of course a wide assortment of boots, duck and otherwise.

Besides the few people I knew there were lots of people I didn't, which always offers an opportunity for interesting conversations. One of the best was with Jerry, a ruddy-faced, jolly man who recounted the time one of his chickens was abducted by a neighbor's trio of normally harmless dogs out for an afternoon frolic. The neighbor phoned Jerry and tearfully explained that the chicken in question was now half-dead on her front lawn, and that she had gotten the dogs inside the house but did not know how to proceed. "The chicken is still alive!" she shouted, near hysteria. "What should I do?"

Jerry said he didn't care at all since to him a chicken is just a chicken, but his wife, surmising the situation, yelled from the other room, "Tell her to let the dogs out."

You just don't get that kind of local color in Manhattan.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Older and Wiser

I have not yet seen the news this morning so I'm not up to speed on the whole Nigerian-kidnapped-girls thing, and I think I might try an experiment and stay that way. Instead I'll just be in my own head and see if that feels better.

Not that being in my own head is such a picnic. In fact, I woke up moments ago from a disturbing dream which I am just now interpreting, and I'm pretty sure it had to do with my own kidnapping years ago--I was four--which really happened. I won't start describing it since that's even dumber than when people relate in detail the plot of a movie or TV show they saw but you didn't like it matters, which it does not since obviously if you cared at all you would have seen it. Suffice it to say that in the dream I was abducted (at my current age) by a crazy lady driving a car around the Las Vegas casino strip and in real life I was taken by a crazy lady schlepping around Coney Island Amusement Park, and you don't have to be a shrink to figure that one out.

I've grown.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Trashing Mother's Day

Relax--I don't hate mothers. I loved my own mother, and I am a mother myself. In fact, all of my best friends are mothers. I think mothers rock, rule, and all that other good stuff. But Mother's Day sucks.

What, we get one day? Flowers, candy, edible arrangements, those stupid, shlocky cards. (Okay, so my friend Bill is plotzing now because he just told me how much he hates it when I write about expected, trivial subjects, but honestly sometimes I can't help myself.)

I only hope my own son who rarely reads this blog reads this post and thus does nothing at all out of the ordinary for Mother's Day, except maybe to be nice to me on that day if he sees me or speaks to me. But then, I'd like that to be the case on any old day.

The oddest thing about the "holiday" is that my husband always feels as if he should do something for me, and I am not his mother. Anyway, be nice to your mother every day, unless she is abusive, and then don't.

Speaking in Tongues

I wish people would just speak plain English. Unless of course they don't, then they should just speak plain whatever language they speak. But the whole euphemism thing is simply out of control.

Searching the classifieds, I found an ad seeking a "Direct Support Professional." Sounds good, except it turns out to be the exact same thing as a "Life Skills Coach," which also sound good if a tad snooty, like maybe you need a degree in the field, only what they both do is simply take care of people, be they aged, handicapped, or mentally or physically infirm in some way, who are unable to take care of themselves. This often involves eating, bathroom activities, getting dressed and the like.

Seems like those terms are specifically calculated to hide the truth. Which is dumb, since eventually you'll find out the truth, so why not advertise and get people who actually want to do that job? Hey, how about NURSE, or maybe CARETAKER?

Similarly, I did not attend my 50th high school reunion last weekend, but still was curious about it. However, by all reports it was a "deeply transcendent" and "transformative" event, which belies the pizza party in the school gymnasium and the hike in a nearby state park, yet not one attendee has offered any down-to-earth description of the proceedings. Can't someone admit, "It was fun getting together with people my own age and pretending we were young again?"

Just say what you mean, people. Life is short.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It Wasn't Me

Today's paper is full of exciting stuff making me see that there are options out there. An article about a "picky eater coach" that parents can hire for an initial consultation fee of just $250, and some amount later your kids will be loving spinach while you go out for a run or even a movie with friends, got me thinking. And so, being tired of living my own life, I have decided to hire someone to live it for me.

I'm certainly no stranger to this whole concept. Mitch and I already have someone telling us what to do with our money, and Dan the landscape guy brings his riding mower over every two weeks in summer to cut our grass, and the plow guy comes each time it snows. And since I can't clean my teeth properly despite them being inside my very own mouth, Stella does it for me every three months. (It's really more the gums that are the issue.)

I could cut my own hair except for the very back so I let a passing parade of stylists perform that task. There are manicurists and pedicurists who I don't use because of fear of staph infections, so while I tend my own nails, I discuss my fear of staph infections with my shrink every couple of weeks. I could find someone to scour my toilets but I actually find that fun--again fodder for my shrink. But washing the floors is a drag and while I haven't gotten anyone to do that, the floors around here are getting awfully grimy. And wouldn't it be great if I could get someone to write that book I started--oh yeah, I can, it's called a ghost writer, what a riot. And since there are dog walkers there must be cat petters since my old, arthritic cat Daisy needs pretty much constant attention to keep her from howling. They must charge a premium for overnights, which is when she really gets going.

Which reminds me: I definitely need someone to fall sleep for me at night and not think about the thousands of boys who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests and those hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian girls, and all the rest. My friend John who is a professional stress handler ( will start doing that for me soon; only time will tell if it works.

Anyway, if there any typos in this blame Spell Check; it's certainly not my fault. And if any of you out there want to take over writing this blog, let me know. That would really free up my mornings.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Show Me How

It seems the only way to have people like you is to be agreeable. With them. On everything. Which means you might say one thing one day to one person and the complete opposite thing on another day to another person, and as long as they don't compare notes, everything is fine.

Another way of saying this is just do what people want you to do all the time. Never say no, or I don't want to. If they offer you a steak dinner and you are a vegetarian, just eat the fucking steak anyway or else the cook will not like you. Ditto a cheesecake if you're on a no-sugar diet. Ditto reading the latest bestseller, seeing the current hit movie, watching the latest must-see TV series: Just say you love it or risk being shunned.

So it's a choice and a quandary we all face every day: Either like yourself or have others like you. Personally I think it's a no-brainer, since when you go to bed at night and close your eyes and try to fall asleep, guess what: You are the only one inside your head.

And by the way: I do not personally know one other person who writes a blog, so if you are one of my readers and you don't like what I have to say or find it dumb and boring or silly and unimportant, please go and write one of your own and do a better job, and be sure to give me the address as I am always striving for self-improvement.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Looking Backwards Hurts My Neck

I am not one to look backwards. "Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone," as the popular Fleetwood Mac song insists. So of course I would never travel a long distance to go to a town I actively dislike (both my parents died there years apart, after long, bleak illnesses, wiping out all other memories) to reminisce with strangers I barely connected with back when we were in high school 50 years ago, since the ones I did connect with are already in my life and have been for years.

The high school reunion, the college reunion, the family reunion: they all imply union in the first place. Lacking that, there can be no re-union. If ever I were to attend a reunion, it would be with people I really want to see, like for example:

A family reunion, with my mother and father and favorite uncle and grandparents and a random aunt and cousin thrown in to the mix, and my first in-laws who I loved dearly (never met the second set), all dead now. For that I would travel anywhere, barefoot over hot coals in fact.

A Beatles reunion, including John and George. Heck, throw in Linda Eastman too, I always liked her.

A Woodstock reunion. Now that would be fun, especially if it didn't rain this time. And then too, it would be way less crowded, and not so much litter, and certainly no bad acid.

Don't Be a Cookie Monster

Cookies are nice, but they make you fat and sluggish; here's an alternative. I wish I could say I created this recipe but I didn't. I found it in one of those foodie newsletters at the local market. It's fun to make and to eat, and really good for you too:

1 C. raisins, currants, dried cherries, dried cranberries, prunes, or combination
1 C. peanuts or nut combination, raw or roasted 
    (Try sunflower seeds, almonds and cashews)
1 TBSP. fresh ginger, grated or crystallized 
2 TBSP. hemp or sesame seeds

2 TBSP. honey (or maple syrup or molasses; I think molasses works best) 

1. Grind dry ingredients in a food processor until chunky, but not too fine. Add honey (or molasses or syrup) and pulse until blended. 
2. Using a rubber spatula, shape into a square between sheets of wax paper, to ¾” thickness. 
3. Refrigerate at least one hour, although the longer the better.

4. Cut into squares and wrap individually.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Phone Call for You

God called, and He's pissed. (Okay, for all you feminists out there, She's pissed.) He's been pretty busy lately, what with the Malaysian jetliner (239 dead) and the Korean ferry sinking (236 dead). Then there was that town in Washington state that got covered in a rock slide last month (108 missing or dead), and those tornadoes last week that ravaged six states (34 dead).

Still, people the world over wage war and kill one another and generally act like Barbarians, as if life has no value. So last Friday in Afghanistan, a mudslide took out quite an area, burying something like 2,500 villagers in one fell swoop.

I think He's trying to tell us something.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Some Serious Subjects

I'm so embarrassed. I just read a blog post I wrote last year in which I vowed to "tackle more serious subjects" in this space. I have not done so and I feel bad about that and will begin tomorrow. Here are some of those serious subjects that might be tackled:
1. Cancer
2. Death
3. Mental illness
4. Existential despair
5. Consumerism
6. Global warming
7. Plastic surgery in young people
8. Bee collapse
9. 9/11: Inside job?
10. Israel: Why do we care?
11. How to win at Rock, Paper, Scissors

Stay tuned, this blog is about to get really serious, and thus, boring.

Wait, Wait -- Don't Tell Me

Lurid crimes have always been popular in books, movies and the news, and the more lurid the better. Since I shy away from that kind of thing, it was only this morning that I read a detailed account of the murder of a young woman in Los Angeles nicknamed "The Black Dahlia," back in 1947. There was a movie with that as its title by director Brian DePalma a few years back, which I avoided.

Now the sordid affair has been dredged up by the Huffington Post, that cesspool-scouring website comprised of wannabe journalists, and plopped onto my AOL home page under the headline, "The 10 Most Gruesome Crimes Ever," or some such nonsense. The worst part is that I bit, owing to the accompanying photo of a lovely young woman that I found haunting. Sadly, she turned out to be most horribly dead and I ended up in a bad mood.

To compensate, I'll go take some pictures of this stunningly beautiful May day and hope I don't cross paths with a maniac who manages to sever my body in half at the waist, cut a smile on my face from ear to ear, chop off my hands and feet and remove flesh from my breasts and internal organs, then rearrange everything artfully in a lovely park somewhere. Too bad I now have all that inside my head just because I have an AOL email account--and now so do you. Sorry.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Don't Mess with Your Fantasies

                                   Gordon Studer
My husband and I were looking forward to seeing the comedian Robert Klein in person here in Portland on May 10. We bought the tickets months ago, and, having seen him before more than once, were expecting a jolly good time. But then yesterday someone from the box office at Merrill Auditorium called to say the show had been cancelled due to poor ticket sales.

Saddened, and feeling sorry for Mr. Klein who at 72 is no spring chicken, I went online and searched for an email address where I might relate how disappointed two of his lifelong fans were that he's not coming. There was a phone number. I called, expecting a recorded message where I might leave one of my own, and instead the man himself answered!

I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say he wasn't funny. At all. Despite my saying how much we love his comedy and were so sorry the show was cancelled, he was gruff and borderline nasty, asking only, "How did you track me down?" Hey, go Google "Robert Klein Fan Club" and you can tell him yourself.

Anyway, I no longer think of him as funny or endearing or hysterical or profound or wonderful, but instead as only tone-deaf and rude. Remind me never to call Jackson Browne if I find his number.