Sunday, May 31, 2015

When Words Have No Meaning

Too many words have few remnants of their original meanings these days. Gay, sick, ill, dope, filthy, tight, tweet, chill -- even the word word itself -- mean something other than what you might think. It's hard to keep up, but because I have a young son who stands neck-deep in today's oozing cultural quicksand, I usually have some idea of what things mean just from talking with him. But there is one word I simply don't understand today: Friend.

It used to mean someone you could count on, a like-minded person who shared your life and your values, who wanted things to go well for you, who would do you a favor and could expect you would do one in return if asked. But now, thanks in part to Facebook, even the entire concept has been all but eradicated. Being a "friend" is almost a joke. I suppose it now means something along the lines of, "A person I once heard of who has also heard of me." And for some reason, having lots of these is seen as a good thing, although I can't imagine why.

This morning, it being rainy and bleak and buggy outside and my husband gone for a few hours, and being too tired to do much of anything else, I scrolled through Facebook and looked at the pages of friends from long ago. There they were, all smiling and still alive, except for the dead ones although even a couple of those still are active on Facebook. I remembered the good times we shared, and then of course that final bad time that ended the friendship once and for all. I saw people who I knew always disliked each other but still were "friends'" on Facebook. I saw people I know who have hundreds, even thousands, of Facebook "friends," knowing that they feel very alone despite that silliness.

To be honest, it's a sad evolution of our language. We need a new word for what "friend" once meant.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

In My Next Life

If I could start my life over and make any changes I wanted, one thing that I would eliminate for sure is Bruce Jenner. What a dope! And while it's certainly his right to be a dope, why does he have to be one in my face? I do dopey things all the time, but I do them in private and pray that nobody sees me or finds out. But Bruce is openly dopey, and now his stupid man-face trying to look girlish with long hair and silly red lips is going to be on the cover of Vanity Fair this summer! Not that I ever read Vanity Fair, but I'm sure I'll see it since I live and breathe, and also our housemate at our vacation home has a subscription and it's always on the coffee table when we get there.

So stupid Bruce, the former Olympic jock and ladies' man who did not like his God-given gender and is going about the tawdry business of prettying himself up, would be MIA in my next life. And he can take his moronic and embarrassing family with him.

Please Rub My Tummy

Big Lurch presents his tummy for rubbing.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Just stay home and look at a picture of Bradley Cooper.
If you are planning to see the new movie "Aloha" by director Cameron Crowe, you may want to reconsider. In fact, do yourself and someone else a favor and just give the six or seven bucks to a homeless person on the street. The movie has nothing for you.

Bradley Cooper, looking better than ever and dominating the screen in long, loving close-ups so if he's your reason to see it, go for it, plays some sort of military contractor with a shady past from some deal gone bad we never truly understand. But that's okay, because the entire film is ambiguous and incomprehensible from start to finish. There are some big names here, like Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray, and some pretty women, like Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams, but don't ask what the heck any of them are doing or why. It's all a big mess, and it takes place in Hawaii.

The Army is involved, along with a rich industrialist, some secret nuclear warheads and a really confusing rocket launch gone awry. Throw in a couple of love scenes to keep you awake and you've got the picture. Literally.

Without giving too much away, let's just say that this guy over here is that kid's real father, and this other guy sort of still loves her, even though she loves him more. But then, he also likes her and she likes him too, but she's pissed. And for some reason, one guy doesn't talk, so subtitles are needed. There's a little boy who goes around spouting Hawaiian folklore, and some actual Hawaiians who are moving sacred bones from one mountainside to another. There is fog, a dance party, some sacrificial moonlight stuff, and the leading man's extra toe. That's it.

While the overstuffed plot promises to sort itself out at some point, it never does. As my friend Jackie, who suffered -- I mean sat -- through the movie with me said at the end, "Obviously they were all on Ecstasy when they wrote the script." Finally, something made sense.

Ketchup as Muse

I recently saw a commercial for Heinz Ketchup. If you just landed here from Mars you'd think the stuff is God's gift to mankind. We see little kids sitting around a table and squeezing the red sauce all over their food, which consists mainly of French fries and hamburgers. (Hot dogs nestled in buns can be seen in the background.) They draw Smiley Faces on their burgers with the ketchup. They dip and smother mounds of fries in the stuff. They are all laughing gleefully. The tag at the end of the ad reads, "Make Dinner Happier." Who knew?

Ketchup is supposedly red from all the tomatoes it contains, although no tomato I ever saw was quite that color. It also has lots of sugar and salt, and some brands also have high fructose corn syrup. I don't think it is particularly nutritious, least of all when paired with fried foods. Its one saving grace is that it has inspired some interesting art, some of which is shown below.

Claes Oldenberg's 1963 soft sculpture "French Fries and Ketchup"
 Jack Daws: Stacks of MacDonald's fries bonded with ketchup.

Sugar cookie "French fries" with a dollop of "ketchup" frosting.
Self-explanatory sculpture and photo by Caspar Benson
Kawaii Floating Ring by SouZou
Heinz Ketchup Dinosaur: Street art in downtown Pittsburgh

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shoe Shopping

Today I went into a shoe store. I was just looking. In fact, I have plenty of shoes and don't need anymore, but I like to see what's being forced on the public every so often, just to keep current. Without a doubt, the most popular shoe for women in the month of May here in Maine is the sandal, especially the kind with a piece of leather or fabric going between the big toe and the next toe as the major way to hold it on the foot. I hate those, never wear them and never would, even if it meant going barefoot. While I do wear sandals at the beach, I like a closed shoe most other times to avoid stepping on a rusty nail and getting gangrene and possibly losing the foot entirely, among other reasons. (If more women followed my lead, fewer Asian girls would be slaves to the pedicure business, but that's for another time.)

So I went into this store, which is called Lamey Wellehan if you must know, and a salesgirl who could not have been more than 17 or 18 approached me immediately as if I were a giant slab of sheet cake and she was a fly. I said right off the bat that I was "just looking" but that did not seem to matter to her. She proceeded to tell me about their sale items and then offered to measure my foot. I said I am 68 and have been wearing the same size shoe for 50 years, so why would I need her, of all people, to measure my foot. I reiterated my mission of just looking. She followed me around the store like a puppy. I hated her.

Finally I found shoes I wanted to try on. She brought out three boxes, even though I had only asked to see two styles. It turned out she did not have either of the two in my size so she brought out other styles she thought I might like. I didn't. I left the store, and it was all her fault, which is funny when you consider that her goal was to get me to like her and actually buy something. She needs more training, at the very least.

This is why I hate shopping and I hate capitalism. I wish there were one pair of shoes for everyone and they were always available in every size.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Turning Off and Tuning Out

My friend Debra has been insisting I do this for years, but like trying to tell a toddler the stove is hot, I had to learn it myself. Television is evil, the source of fear and loathing, permanent brain damage, laziness, sloth and torpor, and in my case, soaring blood pressure stats.

Living virtually alone, since even when my husband is in town he is usually out of the house, I have habitually turned on the TV to stay connected to the world, hear some voices other than my own, and have a few canned laughs with Frasier or Ray Romano. But lately the box has become nothing more than a dispenser of fear; turn it on and right away you are advised to worry -- about mesothelioma, hair loss, advancing dementia, sudden heart attack, fading libido, gastric distress, robbery, the falling dollar, the rising temperatures, deafness, arthritis, depression, insomnia, children born with no upper lip, dogs and cats suffering from abuse or that growing bugaboo, identity theft.

And those are just the commercials.

Under the guise of news, the editorial content pushes the dark side even more: The advance of ISIS, violent tornadoes wiping out entire communities, dead veterans, living veterans with PTSD, global starvation, rioting in racially-unstable American cities, trigger-happy cops and egregious wrongdoings by Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush, depending on which station you're watching.

Today I hit the wall. That's it. No more manipulation by unseen forces. If I'm going to be manipulated, it's going to happen in person. Retreating into my art-infested cocoon, I will from this day forward forgo all brain poison. Right now I will vacuum my dining room rug, which has needed it for some time, and then go to a Feldenkreis class to  realign my body parts and hopefully restore my natural high.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Death Is a Mother-*%?@#*!

Even though we can all die at any moment, at any age, it is still shocking when someone we consider "too young to die" goes ahead and does it. This just happened to a woman in my husband's circle of friends, someone he worked with years ago. I too knew her and would see her at company functions, dinners, picnics and when I stopped in at Mitch's office.  After he left that job, I lost touch with her even though Mitch and she maintained a connection.

Single and childless, Brett was only 45, way younger than me. How come her? I feel guilty now. We learned of her passing last night, and it has blown my mind, bummed me out, laid me low, and any other cliche you can think of.

Brett lived dangerously. When I knew her so many years ago she was living in what was euphemistically called "a changing neighborhood." In Washington, D.C., that just meant "bad." She paid a high price for it when she was violently mugged one night on her way home. Then, as bad luck would have it, the same thing happened to her again months later. Eventually she took off for foreign shores. She went to Bali for a vacation, then went to Turkey to live and work, and then back to Bali to make it her permanent home. Mitch kept me abreast of her adventures posted on Facebook.

Last night he yelled out from the next room, shocked and dismayed. "Brett's dead." She had contracted thyphoid shortly after arriving in Bali last February and never got better. After a long illness and a long hospital stay, and despite several surgeries and ongoing medications, she lost the fight.

There is no punchline. It sucks. No matter what age. Today I woke up feeling like I was given a gift of a new day, but I was too depressed to open it. For that I am sorry, but really, when someone living large dies, you feel it.

Life Is Too Short to Fake Being Tall

I am not sure if this is true, but yesterday's New York Times reported that more than a few women attending the Cannes Film Festival were banned from walking on the Red Carpet, which despite being nonsensical is still something some women enjoy doing, for the "sin" of wearing flat shoes and not high-heels. This is indeed a sorry state of affairs.

The wearing of high-heeled shoes apparently goes back many hundreds of years, and since there have already been scores of scholarly papers written on the subject I won't bother to plagiarize them here. Let it suffice that since historical reasons no longer exist, today it is just plain dumb to wear shoes that are not properly designed for the human foot. The fact that women do this and men do not pretty much sums up why men rule the world and likely always will, at least as long as such shoes are being manufactured. After Armageddon, all bets -- and probably most shoes -- are off.

Despite the growing body of medical evidence that "high heels drastically alter the wearer’s posture, displace the foot and ankle bones, strain the knee joint and tighten the surrounding tendons, leading to osteoarthritis and hammertoe due to the narrow toe box," many women of affluence and influence wear shoes like the ones shown below in the hopes of looking sexy (getting one of those men who rule the world), feeling powerful (by getting access to the bank accounts of one of those men who rule the world), or gaining a few inches of height (to look taller). When I see them trying to navigate the cobblestone streets of Portland's Old Port district, usually slightly drunk since that is the scene down there, especially in summer, I feel sad for all of us.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

America's Favorite Pastime

Today my husband and I went to a baseball game. A friend gave us tickets he couldn't use, for great seats right behind home plate. The weather was perfect, with temperatures in the mid-70s and fluffy white clouds floating overhead. It seemed like a very patriotic thing to do, especially on a holiday weekend.

Naturally it wasn't a real game but instead something called "AA baseball," being here in Maine, but still it had all the trappings. The national anthem was sung. Miss Maine was there, wearing a crown and a skimpy red, white and blue outfit. Crowds filled the stands and I noticed that hardly anybody paid the slightest bit of attention to what was happening on the playing field, instead focusing mostly on the purchase and consumption of food, which when it comes right down to it really is America's favorite pastime. This included pizza and hamburgers and hot dogs and fried fish and French fries, fried dough and those big, doughy salted pretzels. There were ice cream sandwiches and ice cream sundaes and peanuts and popcorn and Cracker Jacks. And lots of beer. Wishing I could eat any of the aforementioned without feeling sick or guilty or both, I opted for a Chicken Caesar wrap. It was tasty.

Oh yeah, the game. It was the Portland Sea Dogs against the Other Guys. (I swear I never heard who they were.) This being Memorial Day weekend, it was officially Superhero Day, so Captain America was there, whoever he is, strutting around in his odd costume. Kids were told in advance to dress as their favorite superhero, so there were lots of little Supermen, Incredible Hulks, Batmen and Spidermen running around.

We left at the bottom of the 7th inning with the Sea Dogs trailing, 3-2.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's All So Complicated

Lately I've been reading a lot about meditation and have learned that there are many "experts" in this quickly-expanding field. Apparently many people feel strongly that their way is the way, and to that end have gone so far as to write articles and books, produce CDs and create extensive websites extolling their sage advice. Stunningly, much of the advice is stuff everyone already knows and is already doing, like, "Breathe in normally and slowly exhale." It is also suggested that one should, "Let thoughts enter your mind as they will." I have been doing this my whole life; who knew I was meditating?

Another quite popular trend is "living mindfully." To live mindfully, you must pay attention to what you are doing. Like if you are eating, eat. Or if you are listening to music, listen to the music. It is actually fairly simple if you put your mind to it, ha ha, no pun intended. Yet there are seminars and retreats and teachers and courses and entire sections of bookstores dedicated to the subject. Many of these "experts" even support themselves and their families by telling other people how to live mindfully!

So I decided on my morning walk that if I presented myself as an expert on walking, maybe I could make a few bucks. After all, I have been at it my whole life. Here are a few of my suggestions, just off the top of my head:

1. Before undertaking a walk, it is best to stand up.
2. For a good result and the least amount of injuries, wearing socks and shoes is advisable. Choose socks that are comfortable and fit you well. As for the shoes, they too should feel good on your feet, not cause blisters, not be too tight or too loose but instead be just right.
3. Decide in advance which foot you will start with.
4. Lift up and then place the chosen foot on the ground in front of you, at a comfortable distance from your body. Gently move your entire body weight onto that foot, taking your weight off of your other foot and raising it off the ground.
5. Now place the raised foot on the ground in front of you, and allow the first foot to rise up into the air and move ahead of your body.
6. Continue alternating the feet in this manner.
7. These individual movements are called "steps." Take as many steps as you can without straining your heart.
8. You may move your arms or not, your choice, however it is best not to keep your hands in your pockets or you may fall over.
9. Practice doing this daily. It is important not to skip a day, unless you are ill or incapacitated.

Congratulations, you are walking!  Over time you should be able to walk without thinking about it, unless you are trying to live mindfully, in which case you should concentrate on each step. For those who are ready to advance to the next level, read my article, "Running: Moving Faster Than Walking."

Stuck in a Rut

Most ordinary people do the same things over and over. This is commonly called being stuck in a rut. Being an ordinary person this applies to me, and I am pretty much sick of it. Life is fleeting and so when, if not now, will I do something new and different?

Following is a list of things I have never done. I need to pick one and do it today. Hopefully other people reading this will follow my lead and many people will have new experiences today.

install a hardwood floor
paint a self-portrait
have a pedicure
eat snails
ride a horse
clean my basement
read "Jane Eyre"
not talk for one whole day
take in a refugee
move every piece of furniture in my house
have acupuncture
use the Shop-Vac we bought a year ago and is still in the original box, unopened
go fishing
visit the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
get a hamster
make a pizza from scratch

Friday, May 22, 2015

In Case You Need Me, I'll Be Here

By any measure, last winter was rough. It snowed on and off for seven months, burying the fall leaves in early October. With drifts piling up around our house that were waist-high, things looked bleak because they were. My car got stuck in my own icy driveway and it took a day and a tow truck to get unstuck. It was well below zero many days and nights. My husband and I came to the same conclusion: We're outta here!

So we started looking for houses back in our old stomping grounds, Washington, D.C.  We still have many good friends living there who we'd love to hang with. The climate is much better -- they actually see flowers in late February whereas here in Maine it's not until late April or early May that a daffodil shows up. Aside from the preponderance of knee-jerk liberals and a simmering undercurrent of racial tension (the city is 43% white, with African-Americans, Hispanics and a host of other ethnicities making up the balance), life there can be pretty sweet.

Except, as it turns out, the real estate market in D.C. is so hot that every house sells for between 50 and 100 thousand dollars over the asking price. Bidding wars abound, even for a crummy dump. So our enthusiasm began to wane, considering how much we love our current home and could never come near anything as nice ever again, certainly not in Washington. Still, our wonderful old friends! The Kennedy Center! All those theaters, so many museums, the fabulous tulips and cherry trees! Beautiful parks everywhere! Movie theaters of every ilk, showing everything from indies and oldies to brand new IMAX blockbusters!

Cherry trees in bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

Then last week, that simmering racial tension boiled over.  A wealthy white family of three plus their housekeeper, living in what is arguably Washington's best neighborhood, and certainly its most secure since the Vice-President's home is but a few blocks away, was robbed, brutally tortured and then burned to death in a fire set in the home by a black man. They caught the guy a week later, tracing his DNA from a leftover pizza crust found at the scene. (Imagine, he ordered a pizza while he was holding people hostage.)

Back when I lived in D.C., which I did for 30 years, I had friends who were murdered too. And others who were raped, and many who were robbed, and lots who were mugged -- you name it, it happened to someone, even us. Since moving to Maine six years ago, the worst I have heard of was a cell phone stolen from the front seat of an unlocked car and an ice dam on a neighbor's roof.
Fresh fish for dinner every night!

So you know what? We're staying in Maine. I'm making new friends, lowering my hoity-toity standards concerning "theater" and "art," and sleeping soundly at night. And no small thing, what with all the talk of omega-3's, the fish here is to die for. And speaking of death, I'd rather freeze to death lost in a snowstorm than meet my maker at the hands of a crazed lunatic with an axe to grind.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Fear Factor

A childhood trauma has come back to haunt me. So says the therapist I see to help me understand why my blood pressure has chosen this particular time to rear its ugly head, if blood pressure can have a head, ugly or otherwise. She suggests I engage my 4-year-old self, the age I was when the trauma occurred, in a dialogue and convince her (me) that she (I) is safe now because my grown-up self is looking out for her (us).

Thus I am posting a picture of the dear little girl here so she knows how important she is to me. And somehow our conversations will help control my runaway hypertension, once the child inside of me truly feels safe. Aha! If only. Just now on the radio I heard that ISIS controls fully half of Syria and a lot of Iraq and there is no stopping them. Their goal, like in the game of RISK, is to take over the world. Suddenly my 68-year-old self is feeling pretty damn unsafe too. Who's going to protect her? (Not Obama, that's obvious.)

Happy Birthday Cher

Among today's young adults, fitting in is all the rage. The desire to be like everyone else, from what you eat to how you dress and including even one's vocabulary, sexuality and most of all iPhone apps, has made individuality all but obsolete. In fact, being "different" is no longer even a goal.

Once considered bold and daring, tattoos, body piercings and crayon-colored hair are now the uniform of the young, along with a few pathetic midde-agers clinging to their fading youth.  The wildest outfits are merely yawn-inducing, barely worth a turn of the head, since everyone wears them. This is truly a sad stage in our evolution and one that I hope soon passes.

As for my generation, we don't care about fitting in and we never did.  Aside from getting wrinkles, having arthritis and fighting with my blood pressure, I am still happy to have been born when I was. After all, I'm not dead yet. And yesterday, Cher turned 69. She's even older than I am and still doing her own thing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Setting Goals

If you live long enough you reach a point where you can honestly say, "Been there, done that" about most things. If you are not careful this can lead to a deep feeling of ennui, which is annoying to say the least, especially if you have a lot of years left to live. So in the interest of staying interested, I am trying to come up with a "bucket list" of sorts. Not the usual kind involving seeing the Taj Mahal or climbing Mt. Everest, but one less focused on the external world and having to do primarily with controlling the unruly wild child that inhabits half my body and wreaks havoc with half my brain. The one that watches TV and eats donuts. That one has simply got to go.

The first step on this path is mastering the art of meditation, something I have grappled with for years. Since I have a sort of bad hip -- I say sort of because it causes me little trouble but takes a mean X-ray-- I can't sit on the floor in that typical cross-legged Buddha pose and instead simply sit upright in a hard, straight-backed chair. This feels much less Zennish, making me think I am not really doing it right. Also, I don't light candles or incense since that just seems stupid and poses an unnecessary fire hazard. Still, I am determined to get it right and will keep at it.

My long-term goal is reaching Nirvana. Apparently, experiencing "the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished" is way better than donuts, TV and even summiting Mt. Everest. In the short-term, I would like to go one whole day without checking my Facebook page.

Monday, May 18, 2015

On Being Out of It

Born and raised in New York and educated at New York University, I used to know about pretty much everything except brain surgery and rocket science. Certainly I was up to speed on literature, art, food, music, theater and film. You could have asked me anything and I'd have an answer. This is no longer true and it's not because I have Alzheimer's. It's just that two things happened, one causing the other: I moved to Maine and I stopped caring.

Living in Maine one cares most about the weather, the black flies and how the fish are running. There is only one art museum to speak of and it has a new exhibit only two or three times a year, mostly of boats and rocks and surf crashing on rocks painted by Maine artists. The symphony plays rarely and sometimes when you go expecting violins and Mozart you get a fake rock concert instead. Big name performers come here only every few years. The theater is amateurish and movies that open simultaneously all over the country don't play here, or else finally show up when they are already old news. To be fair, the city of Portland is very into food and many of the trendiest places serve all the same pretentious things you never heard of that you find everywhere else.

Katy Perry
These are facts, folks, not my skepticism talking. Anyway, because I don't listen to popular music, instead limiting myself to my son's rapping and my Queen CDs, I have never heard Taylor Swift sing and had no idea her song was responsible for that horrid "haters gonna hate" line. (My husband, who is 11 years younger than I, knows all that stuff and he told me.) And who is Katy Perry and is she any relation to Governor Rick Perry?

I don't watch regular TV, only reruns of comedies from the 90s when I was busy raising a child and never could watch them the first time, and so I missed that Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner about how he has always felt like a lady inside. I know nothing about the art world these days. I read books I have loved for years, eschewing modern fiction for obvious reasons. But something caught my eye in this morning's paper: Harper Lee has written a new book and everyone is all excited, with bookstores nationwide ordering many copies and planning "read-a-thons" to draw in customers.

I have to say that I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" back in 9th grade and thought it was just okay. Then I read it again a few years ago and thought it was a boring drag, and because there would be no test I stopped halfway through. So I will not be reading her latest and instead will keep working on my own novel, which I am hoping will be finished before I am. It is quite a good story and one you won't want to miss.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Some Questions for Hillary

That brooch doubles as a Secret Service agent.
There's a big to-do among the members of the press on both sides about the fact that candidate Hillary Clinton has  answered only 13 questions since she entered the race for president, and none of them had to do with anything important. This is indeed outrageous, ridiculous, egregious and all kinds of other things ending in "ous." I think that without further ado, she should answer a few of the burning questions we'd all like to know:

1. How come on some days you have really bad bags under your eyes and then like the very next day they are completely gone?
2. Can you recommend any particular products you use to get rid of them?
3. Do you find Botox injections painful?
4. Does it bother you that everyone likes Bill better?
5. Do you prefer being called Grandma, Granny, Nana, or one of those oddball nicknames like Opa or Boppie?
6. Where do you find such ugly jewelry, and why?
7. Do you wear pantyhose underneath all those pantsuits, and if so don't you find it hot and uncomfortable, especially around the waistline? (Maybe if you get elected you could get someone working on a solution to that age-old, or is it old-age, problem.
8. Aren't you tired of all this bullshit with all the boring old men in suits yet?
9. Wouldn't you like to just once be able to sleep in and schlep around in your bathrobe for an hour?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Remember Brian Williams

"Don't believe anything you did not personally witness." That is my new motto.

Moments ago, while making the bed which is when I turn on the TV most often, I saw a long news segment about the fact that despite reports to the contrary, our military had killed a "nobody" in the ISIS organization. They had gone after a key leader but did not get him, and instead bagged a second or possibly third banana whose name wasn't even known. Then a few minutes later I went online to check my email and saw the headlines heralding the big news that last night members of our fearless armed forces killed an important leader of ISIS!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Unplanned Occurrence

Today I was inside an ambulance for the first time in my life, as a patient, not at the elementary school fair. Since I am 68, I guess that's good -- not that I was in one, but that it took so long to get there.

I had just entered my local upscale, high-priced, borderline-snooty food market to pick up some things for dinner. I grabbed a cart and got as far as squeezing a canteloupe when I started to feel woozy. Within seconds it was clear I was going to faint, which I never like doing, at least not if nobody else does too. It puts you at such a disadvantage. So I groped my way out of the store and semi-collapsed on the ground, gulping air and trying to put my head down between my knees like they tell you to do to keep from passing out but which is almost impossible when you are lying down. Some nice lady brought me water and some other nice lady called 911, even though I said no, please don't. Good thing she did.

Within seconds two Angels of Mercy dressed in blue uniforms arrived. They lifted me up onto a gurney and slid me into a quiet, cool little room with a lot of beeping machines. In a few minutes all my vitals had been tested, my finger had been pricked and it was determined my blood sugar was fine and my blood pressure and pulse were in the normal range. No fever. I was good to go, unless I wanted a ride with them to the hospital. Does anybody? I demurred.

So now I know that even if the stone-faced citizens of Freeport won't give you the time of day, God forbid a smile, the Freeport Fire & Rescue team will come to your aid in a flash, and at no charge. I can honestly say that for the first time in six years, I feel proud of my town. (Get it, Michelle Obama, proud of her country?) Anyway, those were two really great guys and I will send them a donation with my thank-you note.

Now all I have to figure out is what the heck is wrong with me. I certainly hope it's not a brain tumor. Could the whole thing have been a ploy to avoid yet another boring trip to the market?

Krazy Kaffeine Kapers

What's coffee got to do with it?
Of all the evil corporations out there, and there are so many, surely none can compare with Starbucks. Tapping into man's overwhelming need for coffee, their mad scientists have twisted it beyond recognition while using the lure of caffeine to suck in customers. They're basically drug dealers. 

Yesterday they came out with the big news that, for a limited time only, they will be offering a mini Frappuccino for those folks trying to save about 30 cents and a couple hundred calories. They are so considerate. (Lol.)

Oh grow up: There's coffee, that rich, delicious, blood-pumping brew we all need to get the engine started, and then there's Chocolate Cookie Crumble Crème Frappuccino, available at your local Starbucks, and who the heck needs that? Even more, what the heck is it?  Consisting of mocha "sauce" blended with vanilla syrup, chocolaty chips, milk and ice, and topped with chocolaty whipped cream and chocolate cookie crumbles, it doesn't even have the word coffee in its description on the Starbucks website. Besides, one wonders what makes something chocolaty rather than chocolate. Obviously, not real chocolate or they would call it chocolate. So exactly what is it?

I'll tell you what it is. Considering that their chairman and CEO is a man named Howard Schultz, it's a shonda for the goyim.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Oh Grow (Shut) Up, Michelle

The new Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan.
I recently saw a movie, "Woman in Gold," about the stealing of art and other valuables from rich Jews by the Austrian government during the war leading up to the Holocaust. It was just so-so as a film, not really adding much to the already overflowing cinematic library of that tragic time, and even less to the sterling career of its star, Helen Mirren. But in it was buried one memorable line that stood out for me, having grown up in a Jewish family that pretty much harped on those "six million Jews" constantly despite my begging them to stop, already.

An Austrian citizen had just heard the impassioned request for the return of her possessions from a woman (Mirren) appealing her case in front of the court. Afterwards, he approached her on the street and sneered, "It's always the same with you people. Everything isn't always about the Holocaust, you know." The same might be said to Michelle Obama concerning race. Last week, speaking at a dedication ceremony of the new Whitney Museum in New York City, a temple of modern art open to anyone who can pony up the twenty bucks, she chose to focus everyone's attention on her being black. Inferring that people of color "are not always welcome here," or something along those lines, she turned what should have been a joyous celebration into a political brouhaha.

I know, I heard -- her great-great grandmother was a slave. But she is the freaking First Lady of the United States of America, so obviously everything isn't always about race.

Whatever Happened to Gloria Steinem?

I know, I know: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. But jeez, some people.

I just stumbled across a Facebook page for a young woman who calls herself a "plus-size burlesque model." There are tons, and I do mean tons, of picture of her HUGE BREASTS popping out of all sorts of ridiculous costumes, with her standing behind them. She can't be more than 25. And she has such a pretty face.

Where did she go wrong? What would she do if she got breast cancer? How can people sell themselves so short for their one and only lifetime? And why doesn't she lose about 150 pounds? (Plus-size my ass--fat is fat and that is that.) Morbidly obese women who lack self-esteem and pretend to love themselves "just the way they are," but then sell their freaky mounds of flesh for money, are sadly in need of help. What they don't need is Facebook freak show.

Monday, May 11, 2015

No Two Snowflakes are Alike

Today I did something I rarely do anymore and went into a Starbucks coffee shop for a non-fat, extra-hot, grande latte.  It's been almost a year since I've had one of those, but with overcast skies and a chill in the air, not to mention an intense feeling of sleep deprivation, a hit of caffeine seemed like just the ticket.

Several things had changed about the Starbucks experience since my last visit. First of all, my friendly barista did not ask for my name and so I just waited for them to call out the order. "Non-fat latte" did not have quite the same ring to it as "Andrea" would have, but still it tasted good.

Next, they have begun posting the calorie counts along with the prices on their salads and baked goods, making me think they would never sell any of the stuff now. I mean, a teeny little blueberry scone -- and I mean teeny, not one of those bulky triangular things you could use as a doorstop -- for 420 calories? No way, that's like a third of my daily allotment, I thought to myself.

But in line right behind me was a mother/daughter duo. The 20-something daughter peered into the pastry display case and pointed to the very same blueberry scone I had mentally rejected, reporting happily, "Oh, look that's only 420 calories. I'm getting one!" Her mother responded with a thumbs-up, saying, "Me too," and reminding me that it's a miracle we ever see eye-to-eye with anyone, ever.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hating Haters Gonna Hate

Every so often a new word or phrase becomes insanely popular with the "masses," that collection of unthinking  people (often with leftist leanings) who eschew individual responsibility and instead act as one. This bugs the hell out of me.

For a while now it has been all the rage to answer any kind of criticism or observation that is counter to one's thinking with the vapid and virtually meaningless response, "Haters gonna hate." This is patently ridiculous since one might dislike one thing -- let's say Hillary Clinton's candidacy for president -- and still love many other things, like Greek olives, fuzzy slippers, Maine Coon cats, red wine, foggy mornings, newborn babies, flying First Class, the sound of peepers on a warm  night, the paintings of Matisse, autumn, "The Great Gatsby," classical music, Yellowstone National Park, the ocean, old movies, Thanksgiving dinner, oriental rugs, dahlias, kayaking, hot showers and so on.

Voicing criticism of a shady politician duping a willing, dumb public does not make one a hater, merely a discerning voter. The response to such comments should be more along the lines of, "Oh, I see your opinion differs from mine."

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Just the Ticket for Hillary!

Even though I am not very politically savvy, I've come up with the perfect running mate to fill out the Democratic ticket for 2016. Finding just the perfect compliment for Hillary is tough since she is so, you know, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But I think I've done it!

He's handsome, young and wildly popular with the masses, who after all do the voting. Not only that, but he is just as dishonest as Hillary and so would have no trouble with the lying, cheating, email-erasing, server-wiping, evasive non-disclosing tactics and evil doings that would be the rule of the day during her administration. Best of all, Hillary, as we all know, although still (allegedly) female, has major balls, huge ones in fact, which is a good thing since this guy's are seriously small, you might even say deflated.

You're right, it's Tom Brady, the recently-disgraced-but-nobody-cares quarterback for the Boston Patriots who is also fabulously rich and married to a beautiful underwear model.  And their campaign slogan is a no-brainer. Here it is shown on a bumper sticker:
We've Got Some Balls!

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Days of Our Lives

As a dear friend of mine is fond of saying, "There's no one right way to live." We all have freedom of choice. So just what do people do with their lives? That question plagues some people; I am one of them. On some days I have (mostly unimportant) things I must tend to, and thus have little time to wonder about the meaning of life. Then there are days, like when I am laid low for one reason or another (which seems to be happening more often the older I get), when all I have is time to wonder.

Reading the morning paper provides few answers, since it only reports what people in our particular culture do with themselves. Those tribal people who click instead of talk are likely out chasing down dinner, but for the most part, what passes for living here in America is embarrassingly vapid. Mostly it's shopping, eating, cheering for athletes who earn millions of dollars by chasing some sort of little ball around a field and watching vitriolic politicians stab each other in the back.

Sometimes it's got to do with physical feats of skill and strength, which is at the very least healthier. Like for example, right now at least 1,600 people are planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail made famous last year, first in a book and then a Hollywood movie ("Wild") starring actress Reese Witherspoon. The 2,650-mile trek from Mexico to Canada usually takes about five months. You just walk and walk and walk every day, and soak your feet each night, and then when it's all over you get to say you did it. It's sort of like climbing Mt. Everest but without the avalanches.

Here are some of the ways that some of the people I know are spending today:
Helping old people die
Selling used furniture
Designing junk mail
Serving food in restaurants
Raising other people's children
Selling advertising
Installing new hip joints
Painting a mural in an office
Planting vegetables
Getting to the airport on time
Walking dogs for money
Gluing tiles on cement walls
Nursing the sick
Touring factories in China
Doing yard work
Paying bills 
Editing the next #1 bestseller

So what are you doing today?


Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Mysterious Disease

If one is rich and famous, can one still get hives? And if so, what would one do about it? I, being neither rich nor famous, can do nothing but itch. And wonder where they came from and why so many conditions exist that nobody knows the first thing about, but still they can put a man on the moon. If an astronaut got hives en route to the moon, would they come up with a treatment? The very thought is so horrible, of having hives inside of that big puffy suit they have to wear, that I'm sorry I brought it up.

Yes, I have hives, formally known as acute urticaria. And believe me, there is nothing cute about them. They arrived with little fanfare last night at about 8 pm, after I ate a virtuous dinner of a cup of vanilla yogurt with two large strawberries and several handfuls of roasted sunflower seeds, and not hurting anyone. And they are still here today, and I hate them. (If my hives were a person I would push him/her off a cliff.)

Research says they could be with me anywhere from one hour to six weeks. Since it is now tomorrow, I know for sure I don't have the one-hour kind. And though it is a stupid topic and not worthy of my time or yours, when one has hives one thinks of nothing but hives. Sometimes they are caused by eating certain foods, when that's what causes them. Foods you might be eating right now. Watch out, you might be next. Then you'll think back to this blog post and say, "Aha, I get it now."

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Those Krazy Kardashians!

Based on the lack of clicks from yesterday's post, apparently nobody wants to read something called "Life is Difficult." So, this being my blog and me having total control, I am posting one with a title expressly aimed at getting people to click. If my theory is right, many more people will want to read about the superficial lives of Hollywood celebrities than the real lives of you and me. I am pretty excited to see the results and will discuss them in tomorrow's post.

Anyway, just as a little something for your trouble, it has come to my attention that the younger Kardashian daughters, whose last names are Jenner like their Dad/Mom, are trying to have their first names copyrighted for "entertainment purposes." Their names are Kylie and Kendall, so if you are pregnant don't name your newborn either of those or you might just end up in an ugly lawsuit.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Life Is Difficult

People endure such bizarre and random hardships, sometimes it's hard to know whether to laugh or cry. For example, of all the injurious lawsuits I am happy to not be embroiled in, the leader is called "Bladder Pelvic Mesh." It sounds funny, but you know it can't be.

As M. Scott Peck wrote in the first line of his best-selling book, "The Road Less Traveled," life is difficult. You've got to accept that truth, grasp it, even applaud it, and then move on, or you will always be suffering. I do know this much: I will likely live a fairly long time, even longer than I already have, based on what I call The Billy Joel Rule: Only the Good Die Young. I might add, also the Brilliant and the Super-talented. I am none of those.

Further evidence of this rule recently occurred with the death of David Goldberg, the 47-year-old CEO of an Internet company called SurveyMonkey, which is quite a big deal I have since learned. Ironically, he died while taking care of himself. On vacation with his family, David was exercising and slipped off a treadmill in a gym, hitting his head and bleeding from a traumatic brain injury. The father of two young children, his wife is also a big deal, being the COO of Facebook. Together the pair made millions, yet were by all accounts the nicest folks you'd ever want to meet.

The line that struck me in David's Wikipedia biography, which I read after hearing of his strange accidental passing, was said by a friend: "One of the truly great people on the planet, Dave was of almost unimaginably remarkable character." How sad that such a man died so young, and for no good reason.