Monday, August 31, 2015

Free Mindfulness Lesson


All we have is now. Recognizing this age-old truth is very "in" these days, and means you are being mindful. Paying attention to the moment you are currently inhabiting is the only decent way to live, lest your life is squandered in a trance. You must wake up from the trance! There are courses on how to achieve this most desired state of being, but I am happy to teach you how right here, and at no charge. It's easy.

For example, right now I am writing this blog post. As my fingers move nimbly over the keys, I am happy not only to have fingers but also keys on a computer for them to move over. I am also happy for the nimbleness of the fingers.  My nose just itched and I used one of those same fingers to scratch it.  I think it was the index finger on my right hand, I should know but for a minute my thoughts strayed ahead to my next sentence. That is bad. That will not happen again. I must be mindful.

I could mention the lunch I just finished eating but that's all in the past. All we have is now, and now I am writing. It is warm in the room where I'm sitting, almost too warm. I could either change my shirt or perhaps turn on a fan, but those activities are in the future so I won't digress. There is only now and I am being mindful and I am typing. I feel good, except for the being too warm. But wait -- I just felt a slight breeze wafting into the window next to me. It was delicious. If my husband were here he would sigh and say, dejectedly, "See, winter is setting in." But he isn't here. He was here earlier but he left for Chicago this morning, and that's in the past. All we have is now.

I'm almost done here and don't know what's next, but that's in the future. Now is all we have. You're in it too if you've read this far. Soon you will move on and do something else, but don't think of that yet. Just be here now.

And there you have it!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What If?

What if Donald Trump wins the presidency?
What if everyone starts having transgender surgery?
What if Oreos were a health food?
What if a plague breaks out in America?
What if you actually quit smoking, started exercising and lost 30 pounds?
What if Coca-Cola admitted they were poisoning people and shut down?
What if people stopped tracking their ages? 
What if houses were built with Legos and you could move walls anytime?
What if tattoos fall out of favor and are seen as gross liabilities? 
What if the dead start coming back in perfect health as they once were? 
What if smoking marijuana was required of all government workers?
What if being really fat was in?
What if doctors in the lower half of their graduating class were denied licenses?
What if dogs could talk?
What if electricity simply didn't work anymore? 
What if there were no coffee?
What if you were a monk living on a mountain top in Tibet?


Saturday, August 29, 2015

1 in 5 Americans Are Mentally Ill

Of all the technological advances we enjoy, the ability to watch a movie in the privacy of your own home, away from the spilled popcorn and sticky yuck underfoot and endless parade of too-loud previews beforehand is surely among the Top 10. (I love you, Netflix.) Last night my husband and I did so, and got a real kick out of "Welcome to Me," a nutty homage to mental illness starring former SNL comic Kristen Wiig. It got me thinking, that's for sure, mostly about who's crazy and who isn't, and made me realize that the former list is much longer than the latter.

Actress Kristen Wiig in "Welcome to Me," putting the "craze" in crazy.
For starters, we all will die and we know it, just not when, where or how. That indisputable fact alone does not make for stability; in fact, it's hard to even function without burying it at the bottom of the cedar chest in that locked room of your brain. Next, our culture has run amok, valuing fanatic behavior far above normalcy and affording insane amounts of fame and fortune to those who stray furthest outside the lines. How else to explain the runaway success of Donald Trump, the overwhelming fascination with Bruce "Caitlyn" Jenner, and the downright obsession with the pathological Kardashians and those Honey Boo-Boo people?

Lesser crazies make it big too: This group includes loud-mouthed journalist Ann Coulter, politician and notorious bad boy Bill Clinton, robotic and mysterious Barack Obama, mondo bizzarro actor Johnny Depp, paranoid crank Al Sharpton and leftist lesbian lunatic Rachel Maddow.

On a personal level, I am certainly well out of my mind most of the time, and I come from a long line of crazies, many certifiable. My husband has his quirks, as does our son, and that's putting it so mildly as to be a clear example of just how crazy I am. In fact, I can't think of more than a handful of people I know who aren't a pinky's-length  away from flipping completely out, making it easy to believe the government statistic that finds one in five Americans are mentally ill.

So if you eat your green peas one at a time, or check all the closets every night before going to bed, or wash your hands too much or worry you left a candle burning every time you leave the house -- even and especially if you don't have any candles at home -- take heart: you are not alone. But if you want to see someone who is a real nutcase and thus feel better about your comparatively mild neurosis, check out "Welcome to Me," now playing somewhere on the Internet.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Good Intentions Gone Awry

When I volunteered at our local food bank for 18 months, I was appalled at the treatment given our so-called "clients." Most of the donations received from private citizens were expired canned goods that were headed for the trash bin but they brought them to us instead. I was told by the agency's Director that those foods should be put on the back of the shelf and given out only as a last resort, meaning that when they finally were distributed they were even older.

A mainstay of the foods I helped unpack were spoiled produce, expired frozen meats and stale baked goods brought on trucks from the supermarkets nearby. We also received bags of packaged, processed foods headed for extinction that instead ended up as food drive donations "to feed the needy."

Nobody where I worked ever dispensed nutritional counseling to the people we served, despite the fact that most of them were in bad physical shape. Besides being  morbidly obese, several were on oxygen despite the fact that they still smoked cigarettes. Yet not one word of advice was ever handed out with the stale chocolate eclairs and giant boxes of pasta, rice, instant potatoes, sugary cereals, salt-laden soups and canned fruit in heavy syrup.

Sadly, this is considered "charity" in small-town America.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Let 'Em Eat Cake

Apparently drug addicts and the indigent do not merit nutrition counseling. At least that is what I must conclude after a recent experience. I had answered an ad seeking volunteers at the food bank/soup kitchen in a nearby town. A woman called me immediately and admitted during my interview the next day that only one other person had responded.

The job description included cooking a hot lunch daily, serving that meal to about 120 people, delivering bagged foods to homebound individuals and staffing the food bank. I could choose to do any or all of those tasks on as many or as few days as I wished. I said I would fulfill whatever job was needed most.

During the course of being interviewed by a 24-year-old Vista volunteer, I explained that I had worked at another local food bank for almost two years and was dismayed at the amount of unhealthy foods foisted upon people who were already in obviously poor health. She asked for an example and I cited the dozens of unsold and stale sheet cakes, donuts, cookies, muffins, and eclairs dropped off each evening from the local supermarkets. I recounted several times when I had talked a client of the food bank out of those choices and convinced them to opt for something more nutritious. That seemed like a victory to me.

Today I received an email from the Volunteer Coordinator stating that, "While we here at MCHPP focus on distributing nutritious food, we also honor clients' decisions and allow them to take not-so-healthy food if it's available. Treating people we serve in a manner that recognizes their dignity includes withholding judgment of what a client should or should not have to eat, and allowing them to make decisions on their own."  Thus, I was deemed "not a good fit" to serve food to their clientele of homeless drug addicts for no pay.

A Guessing Game

Study the photo shown below, then choose one of the following to explain it:


1. The woman is one of those nasty illegal aliens Donald Trump complains about.

2. A teen-age rape victim who was left only with her coat, shoes and handbag.

3. A newly-arrived prison inmate waiting for her orange jumpsuit.

4. A client of the Hunger in America Project.

5. A model in a photo-illustration for an article about the dangers of anorexia.

6. A battered and abused woman found wandering the streets of New York City.

7. An ad for a shampoo specifically formulated for extra-dry and over-bleached hair.

8. A Wall Street Journal ad ($398,147.58) appealing to today's most fashionable women.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Film Review: LOVE & MERCY

A lighthearted moment for the Beach Boys in the recording studio.
For anyone who came of age listening to the Beach Boys and loving the band's ebullient leader, Brian Wilson, Love & Mercy is a shocking and emotional roller-coaster ride lasting almost too long. For everyone else it will simply be a searing portrait of mental illness with memorable performances, a challenging script that keeps you guessing and a catchy sound track filled with those sweet harmonies we all remember fondly.

To tell Wilson's complex life story, two excellent actors share the lead role throughout the film: Paul Dano channels the young Wilson perfectly, right down to his cherubic baby face and endearing onstage persona. It's hard to believe that while he was singing about California girls, sun and surfing, he was also suffering such inner turmoil. John Cusack plays the older Wilson, now visibly schizophrenic and made even more paranoid by too much medication doled out by an incredibly evil shrink (Paul Giamatti) who literally controls his every move. If this were a silent film, the audience would hiss every time he comes on the screen.

You should know in advance that Love & Mercy is no walk in the park. For much of the time it's tough going, with flashbacks to childhood beatings by Wilson's brutal father interspersed with him lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, tormented by the voices in his head. In between those dark scenes we get happier glimpses of the boy genius he truly was, writing beautiful and groundbreaking music and directing seasoned studio musicians with professionalism and aplomb well beyond his years.

Relief for Wilson finally comes in the form of a beautiful automobile saleswoman (Elizabeth Banks) who eventually grows to love him and ultimately takes legal action to rescue him from his living hell. Good thing, otherwise this story, and this film, would simply be too hard to bear. During the final credits Wilson is seen as he is today, alive and well, performing at a recent concert. That's when the tears really come.

Try to Read This

I recently received an email from a friend offering all sorts of reasons why we could not get together. It ended with the promise, "I'll try to call you tomorrow." This got me wondering how one would go about trying to make a phone call. Would they get near the phone but not pick it up? Maybe start to enter my number but not finish? Or enter the entire number and then hang up before the first ring? How, exactly, could one accomplish it?


"Try" is a funny word. In some cases it implies huge effort, as in, "I tried to summit Mt. Everest but I ran out of oxygen halfway up." Or, on a lesser scale, still implying desire but defeated by an inherent weakness, "I tried to move the refrigerator to clean behind it, but it wouldn't budge." For many people, those three little letters offer a delicious way out, as in, "I'll try to come to your art opening." Again, imagine the scenario: The person dresses for an evening out, leaves home, enters the car, inserts the key into the ignition, and then what? The car won't start? There's a flat tire? A pit bull hiding in the back seat lunges forward and rips off their scalp?

To more fully understand my point, go ahead and try to pick up a pencil. Don't pick it up; just try. There you go. There it is, right there. That's trying.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pay Attention Before It's Too Late

Newborn undergoing escapism indoctrination.
These days everyone seems to play games. Not the old-fashioned kind, like when you tell someone you'll call them tomorrow or that the check is in the mail or that you really, really like them but things are crazy right now or your car broke down in the middle of 295 and you had to wait for a tow and that's why you never made it to their party. No, I mean the kind on digital devices that are little more than a way to kill time. I play one of those, except I rationalize that it has value as a way to keep my brain healthy and stave off dementia, which personally matters to me since my mother died of early-onset Alzheimer's which may be inherited. Yeah, yeah, I know -- I'm too old for early-onset anything -- but still, that's what I tell myself.

The game I play for free is called Words With Friends, and between each of my turns I must tolerate a 25-second commercial, unless I want to pay ten bucks to get rid of them altogether. I don't. The most annoying part is that they run the same commercial each time for like a month until they get a new advertiser, so you have to see it over and over and over and over until you want to break a window or slit your wrists but instead you just slam the computer closed. Usually I mute the the sound and use the time to meditate, eyes closed, repeating my mantra and listening to the sounds of the birds outside my window, relishing my delicious hot coffee and generally Being Here Now.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of the commercial and wonder what they're selling. Today I listened, and it turned out to be an ad for a purveyor of audio books. We are shown people doing everyday things like eating a bowl of cereal at a kitchen table, out running on a dirt path, vacuuming a living room and lying on a lounge chair at the beach. In each instance the person is wearing headphones and instead of their authentic surroundings, suddenly they are in the midst of a wild scenario like a violent war, or a fancy party in Merry Olde England, or discovering a dead body at a grim crime scene or moonbathing on another planet entirely, the point being that listening to these audio stories can take you away from your real life.

This is the exact opposite way to live a fruitful life, and yet another travesty being foisted on an unsuspecting public, as if Hillary Clinton is not bad enough.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

19th Nervous Breakdown

I have a new friend who is really special, at least for a neurotic person such as myself. Two of his sterling qualities are the letters that follow his name: MD. This is because I seem to have been chosen as one of God's test subjects for interesting yet nagging health problems that show up out of the blue and convince me I have only days, perhaps hours, to live. Having someone on the premises who can assure me that I should go ahead and order my snow tires for the coming winter with confidence is comforting.

The latest symptom which I assumed signified a brain tumor showed up yesterday morning. It turned out to be something fairly innocuous called "Benign Positional Vertigo" or BPV. (Right away I liked the name, since "benign" is possibly my favorite word in the English language, followed closely by "slender.") The syndrome comes without warning and leaves quickly in most cases--medical websites claim it can last only a minute or two, although my discomfort continued for about an hour.

What happens is something like this: Sometime during the night a minuscule, broken fragment of calcium deep inside your ear travels around upsetting your hearing and balance, and when you wake up and try to get out of bed, everything looks like the scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo when black and white spinning circles and crazy music filled the inside of Kim Novak's head. Mine was even more severe, closer to Mel Brooks in his own parody of that film, High Anxiety. My bedroom felt like this:


Actor Mel Brooks experiencing BPV in the film "High Anxiety"
To have everything spinning around when you know you did not get drunk, take drugs, or do anything but put on your jammies and get into bed the night before is disconcerting; who wouldn't suspect a brain tumor, or at the very least a nervous breakdown? That's where a doctor friend comes in handy.  Ed was able to put a name on my condition, allowing me to research it and learn it's nothing to worry about. My advice is to invite a GP or family physician to dinner as soon as possible. (Stay away from surgeons, they are little more than egomaniacal car mechanics.)




Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dr. Laura, Gays and God

Laura Schlessinger, former radio host
Back when she had her call-in radio show, pop-shrink Dr. Laura proclaimed to all her listeners that, as an observant (and converted) Orthodox Jew, she believed "homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance." Wow! Really, Dr. Laura? I was speechless.

Fortunately not everyone was.  James M. Kauffman, a professor at the University of Virginia, wrote an open letter to the radio host and posted it on the Internet. It's funny, as well as quite informative, and explains better than I ever could why The Bible is good for nothing except maybe as a doorstop on a windy day. Here it is:

"Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,
James M. Kauffman,
Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian.)"

Andrea Schamis shared a link.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Clowns On Parade

The reason Donald Trump is going strong is because he is a real person with a real personality. He is not parsing words that were written by a speechwriter, he is saying what is in his head and in his heart. If he has done anything of merit, it has been to show how stilted, phony, prepared and manufactured everyone else in the race is by comparison. And in contrast to Hillary Clinton's obfuscating and dodging of all the issues, he comes off like a choirboy. People say he's a clown, he can never be taken seriously. All I can say is, if you're looking for a clown, be sure to check the White House.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Us and Them


They are such idiots! It's hard to believe that anyone can be so stupid. How can they not see things as clearly as we do? They must not be getting enough protein or vitamins or something. I am so happy I am not that deluded.

They think they know it all, when in reality they know nothing. They think they are right about everything, when they are so obviously wrong about everything. Well, maybe not everything, but certainly most things, and for sure, they are dead wrong about this one thing.

It's too bad, really, because many of them are perfectly nice people, but it's impossible to talk to them about this because they are so blind to the truth. They only hear what they want to hear. They believe what they believe and that's that; there is simply no reasoning with them.

If only they were more open-minded, we could all get along. That would be nice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Can See Canada from My House

This seems like the right time to ask: What do people really want in a president? In a leader? In fact, why do we even want a leader? And why do the ones in the race want to be it? It's a mystery.

As for me, as long as I don't have to get up every day and put on fancy clothes and makeup and meet with Putin and have lunch with the Prime Minister of Uganda or wherever, then shake hands with strangers at state fairs and possibly come down with that hoof-and-mouth flu that is going around these days, I'm happy. I'd rather sleep in, go for my morning walk, play a few games online and work on my new novel and to heck with health care and our crumbling infrastructure.

So who are these crazy egomaniacs who actually seek public office, who want to be the ones telling everyone else what to do? Take a look at who's running and it's easy to see they are all lacking something fundamental: humility. That's a pretty big flaw they all share. That very fact makes me lose all interest in the whole lot of them. In fact, I may sell my vote to an illegal alien, or maybe just trade it for some food stamps.

So let all of the candidates run around eating pork on a stick and kissing babies, it matters not to me. It's all happening down in the lower 47, and since I live way up here in Maine quite close to another country, if things get too crazy I will simply jump the border and forget all of this "Hillary's a liar, Trump's a buffoon" business and learn to love poutine.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Playing Doctor

Right away they all look smarter than me.
I just returned from seeing my doctor for a follow-up appointment having to do with my blood pressure medications and whether or not they are causing me to faint, randomly. While I like this doctor, her whole "look" was a bit disconcerting. She was wearing flip-flops which allowed me to see her purple-painted toenails. She wore a madras, knee-length skirt, a plain sleeveless t-shirt and dangling silver earrings. Her long straight hair fell below her shoulders in a no-nonsense style. She looked fine for a woman in her early forties on a hot summer day in Maine. But when she used the stethoscope to listen to my heart, I had to suppress a laugh: She reminded me of a little girl playing doctor.

It's true that the older I get, the younger my doctors seem. But back in the days when they all wore white lab coats over their street clothes, they might not have been better doctors but at least they looked the part. Now they don't, and it's harder to muster up the same respect and blind belief in what they say. I'm just saying, would it kill them to put on that white lab coat?

It's All Good

Politically Correct Barbie
In these relaxed times, with more than 30 million Americans on antidepressants, it seems appropriate to eliminate certain standards and have nobody be better than anybody else. That sounds good to me. In fact, I have been fighting for that ever since my son was in nursery school and every little thing had to be fair for all the children. (Ha -- what a bad life lesson that turned out to be!)

Of course, without standards none of us would have anything to work towards and striving would be frowned upon. The very word "strive" would be stricken from all dictionaries, not that we'd need dictionaries anymore since any sound anyone makes would be considered okay. For example, my former business partner was given to saying her daughter had graduated from Boston Universary and while I found it ridiculous, I knew what she meant. (I also knew I had to stop being her business partner.)

What's got me thinking this are two recent developments that at first glance seem unrelated but upon closer inspection are cut from the same cloth. First is the fact that an 18-year-old Australian woman with Down syndrome is now a fashion model and will be strutting the runway during New York's famed Fashion Week next month. Second is the unveiling of a new line of "designer" clothing by the obese and talented actress Melissa McCarthy. I call her obese and talented because she is clearly both of those things, qualities that have contributed equally to her incredible success. Unlike many established couture designers who prohibit anyone over a size 10 from wearing their creations, McCarthy's line will include sizes 4 through 28 since, as she says, "women come in all sizes."

Say what you will about designers exploiting Down syndrome to sell their clothing, fat mannequins in store windows (another new development) and the retiring of the term "plus-size," it's clear that regular people are sick of trying to live up to standards of perfection that they see in magazines and on TV. I get that. Still, I doubt that the parents of children with Down syndrome are worried about what their kids are wearing. And fat people in designer duds will still suffer from heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and other ills associated with their poor diets. Oh well, at least they'll impress the paramedics when they come for them.

As the current popular saying goes, it's all good. At least for right now fat is beautiful, Down syndrome children are just like other kids, and there's nothing wrong with anyone since we are all perfect replicas of God's image.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Taking Out the Trash

I have written about this subject before in a lighthearted way, but it's not really all that funny. Each one of us has a war going on inside us, that age-old battle of Good vs. Evil. Take a look around and it's easy to spot who's winning among the general population. Certainly not Good, or else why would there be so many morbidly obese people causing themselves dangerous health issues, so many drug addicts and alcoholics living perilously close to death, and so many outright suicides? (A study in October 2014 found the rate of suicide to be the highest in more than 25 years, with 12.6 suicide deaths per 100,000 Americans.)

At an impressionable moment in my life I saw the 1957 film, "The Three Faces of Eve," starring the wondrous Joanne Woodward playing a woman with multiple personality disorder. I could relate, and I was only eleven. Since then I have rationalized my own situation as a result of being born a Gemini, with two quite distinct personalities. In a certain light it's amusing, with one of me wanting this and the other one wanting that at the same time, all the time. Decisions must be made, and besides being amusing it can be exhausting. The time for action has come. One of them has to go, and the Good one has decided that today's the day.

I have decided to keep the one who writes this blog, cleans the house, eats oatmeal for breakfast, exercises regularly, meditates daily and is able to keep her dark thoughts to herself. The one who's got to go is that nutcase who buys random handbags off the Internet, brings home Tate's chocolate-chip cookies ostensibly for "drop-in visitors" and then eats them herself, pisses off her son with unsolicited advice and has sky-high blood pressure.

Why not join me in an endeavor to be your best self? If each of us chose to feed only our inner angel things would be a lot better for everyone, except maybe the Tate cookie company, which would see a huge drop in sales. In fact, before you completely eradicate your naughty side, you might want to try one. Or four or five. Also available in Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Molasses, Macadamia, and Gluten Free, they are sold in the finest stores everywhere and can be ordered online. Just Google "Tate's Cookies."

(The bad one wrote that last bit about the cookies; I haven't offed her yet.)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Another Sunday


Quick, think of something fun to do. 
Something affordable and without advertising 
that won't ruin your health or get you pregnant, 
doesn't start with a hashtag or end with handcuffs, 
has no dangerous side effects and won't kill you.

Great. 
Now email me at andreajrouda@aol.com 
because I sure would like to know about it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Coming Dog Wars

How much longer can this go on?
Someday I hope to write a blog post that doesn't complain about something. Sadly, today is not that day.

I just watched a brief amateur video posted on Facebook. It shows a woman coaxing her golden retriever down an enclosed tubular slide in a kiddie playground. The dog is on a leash at the top of the slide and you can hear it whimpering in fear as the woman says such empowering things as, "Good girl." Meanwhile the woman is filming the preposterous event so she can then post it online and in some twisted way feel better about herself. Finally the dog goes down the slide and is met by the woman's other dog at the bottom of the slide. The video has been seen by 5,815, 836 viewers who all seem to "Like" it.

This woman is obviously mentally ill, as are many dog owners who leave their animals trapped in hot cars in summer and freezing cars in winter, dress them up in foolish Halloween costumes, make them do all kinds of stupid pet tricks and generally treat them like toys put here on Earth for their own pleasure. I can't wait for all the dogs to revolt, organize and fight back. Surely they will eventually.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bad Drug


Today I read an article about a new drug that is sweeping the nation, or at least Florida. It's called "flakka" and it can be snorted or smoked just like the rest of them.  After an initial euphoric high, it makes the user incredibly paranoid. One young man under its influence tried to chop down a tree because he thought it was "watching" him. It also causes the human body to heat up to a body temperature of 102 degrees, so many people under the influence strip down to nothing in an effort to cool off. Naturally this is frowned upon by local police. Users also become violent. I have no answers, only questions:

Why would anyone, after hearing what the drug does to you, go ahead and take it? 

What is it about being messed up in the head that is so appealing to so many people? 

Why are so many bad drugs being made in laboratories when marijuana, a natural drug that grows for free and now is available in legitimate ways with a note from your doctor, makes you feel better without any crazy side effects?

Who among the presidential candidates has even said one word about the scourge of drugs ruining the lives of so many Americans, each a potential voter?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jew Jokes

Q: In the Jewish doctrine, when does a fetus become a human?
A: When it graduates from med school.

Q: Why do Jewish men like to watch porno movies backward?
A: They like the part where the hooker gives the money back.

Q: What's the definition of a queer Jew?
A: Someone that likes girls more than money.

Q: What's the difference between a Catholic wife and a Jewish wife?
A: A Catholic wife has real orgasms and fake jewelry.

Q: Why were gentiles invented?
A: Somebody has to pay retail.

Q: Why do Jewish men have to be circumcised?
A: Because a Jewish women wont touch anything unless it's 20% off

Q. What is the difference between a crucifixion and a circumcision?
A. In a crucifixion, they throw out the whole Jew.

Q: Why do Jews have big noses?
A: Because the air is free.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trans Everything

The new me.

I am a white female Jew and I am sick of being discriminated against. Enough! I am taking steps. First of all, I will convert to some Christian religion; Catholicism seems quite popular although there is that baptism thing and I really hate having a stranger touching my hair, let alone wetting it, plus the weekly confession seems so invasive. Maybe Christian Science would be more suitable since I already hate going to doctors.

Next I will start darkening my skin, easy enough since there are plenty of products out there. I might go for some kind of Indian or Eskimo or maybe Hispanic, whatever I can pull off believably. I'd try for African American but I just don't have what it takes. As for the female part, I can lop off my breasts easily enough, it's regularly done for pretty much no reason these days anyway. (That will be a big savings in the long run on bras.) My hair is short already, and just yesterday I took one of those online tests entitled "Is Your Brain More Male or Female?" and mine turned out to be 90% male and 10% female, so I'm good to go.

There are a few sticking points, like I hate football and know nothing about it, but that can be covered over easily enough with comments like, "How about that game yesterday?" and, "Man, I did not see that coming!" A glue-on mustache and a sock in my pants should help shut everyone up. Then I'll be all set to start my new life.

I'll get hired easily, even by L. L Bean, and earn a bigger salary and maybe even get into graduate school on some affirmative action scholarship, except I'm so old. Guess I should add a face lift to all my preparations. But after that, things will be great. I'll enter as middle-management in some big insurance company and go to office birthday and retirement parties and wear sandals on casual Fridays and finally not have to suffer all those PMS and Jew jokes around the office water cooler.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Can't Help Myself

I'm so depressed today because I realize for the first time that, being white, my life doesn't matter. I wish it did but apparently only black lives matter. Also you can forget mattering if you are Latino or Asian or Hispanic. You gotta be black to matter. And it helps a lot if your grandmother was a slave and your grandfather picked cotton and especially if you were born in a bad neighborhood to an alcoholic mother and with no father in sight.

Dammit! Maybe in my next life I will matter. I think I'll go rob a convenience store.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Blood Wars

The Accused
I like to watch reruns of random sitcoms on TV. I'm not proud, but it's better than using cocaine to achieve half an hour of feeling good, or so I tell myself. One of the shows I find to be consistently funny is called "Modern Family." It has won about a million Emmy awards for its writers, actors and producers, all well-deserved.

One episode I watched recently had to do with the three women in the family, a mom and her teenage daughters, all having their periods at the same time. Much hilarity ensues as each of the menstruating trio exhibits the symptoms of PMS, becoming hysterical, crying and acting irrationally at the slightest provocation, much to the dismay of the father and son in the family. Yet nobody seems to have taken issue with that story line, finding it offensive or out of line.

The Accuser
Now along comes Donald Trump, an admitted foot-in-mouth kind of guy, insinuating that a female news anchor might have been menstruating at the time she asked him several quite mean-spirited questions during the recent televised Republican political debate. Now everyone is simply aghast, as if he had advocated the murdering of babies or maybe the selling of unborn fetal parts. Double standards abound. I am neither for nor against -- just sayin'.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Monkey See, Monkey Do

We all expend a lot of energy on things we claim to dislike. This is a silly waste of time. Instead, we should pay attention to the things we actually find pleasing. Immediately one realizes that politics, television and news have no place in our lives. Let's take a closer look at these three popular pastimes and see how they are robbing us of time, the most important and least secure commodity each one of us owns.

Politics: A total joke, sham, soap opera. Corrupt, insecure, morally bankrupt former nerds striving to be in the spotlight, hungry for the status, power, private jets and invitations to snooty dinner parties populated by more of the same afforded by winning an election after duping regular folks into believing they will make their lives better. They never do, and half of them end up in jail for tax evasion.

Television: Little more than a moving catalog of products for sale, mostly prescription drugs, pizza and all-you-can-eat restaurants, it is populated by more of those striving people hoping for fame and fortune. The worst of our species end up there, and between hearing about what car you should drive or which pill will restore your sexual potency you can see a few minutes of a dumb show that might make you laugh or cry just in case you have forgotten how to do so in real life. Good for nothing except in times of war or tornadoes when you'll find out where it's safe or not safe to be.

News: Calculated to increase your blood pressure and thus sell more of those prescription drugs, the news exists to make money for the man behind the curtain. Little of it will impact you directly. For example, knowing that four Bangladeshi bloggers critical of Islam were hacked to death or that 57 immigrants drowned in a boat off the coast of somewhere you never heard of changes absolutely nothing in your life, except maybe to make you anxious and take more of those prescription drugs you've heard so much about on TV.

So you see, it all comes down to this: taking drugs. So the next time you want to read the news, watch TV or listen to a politician spout off, smoke a different drug that will enhance your life and go outside and dig in the dirt and plant a garden in your yard. Or maybe get some paint and canvas and make a masterpiece. Read a book or perhaps write one. Call your mother, your father or your best friend. Paint the bedroom, do the laundry, polish the silverware. Organize your closets, iron your sheets, clean out the junk drawer.

You will feel a lot better and be missing nothing at all.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Donald and the Nine Dwarfs

The Donald's wife.
The Internet is abuzz because Donald Trump called Rosie O'Donnell "fat" and some other things in last night's televised Republican debate of contenders for the White House in 2016. Oh my God! How could he? The cad. Except of course she is fat and always has been, so what's the big deal? Being fat is her choice.

Voting for Donald Trump is also a choice, so I am guessing not many fat people will vote for him and thus he will lose the election for that fact alone, since more than one-third of Americans are obese and that will be that. I am also guessing that his dissing of O'Donnell is not the main reason he will not be elected. But he's truly a wild man and a refreshing change from the "blah, blah, blah" so typical of career politicians who need teleprompters and speech writers to say anything at all.

Trump cracked me up several times during the debate last night, but surely his act would not play well in a foreign country, although his wife as First Lady would be somewhat of a draw. (See photo) My recommendation is that he do stand-up here in America or become the VP for someone else, but surely he would never take second banana status.  As for the rest of the hopefuls, each had his good and bad points. Here's what stood out for me about them:

   Chris Christie: Really bad hairstyle. Some kind of crazy dipping curl in the middle of his forehead was quite distracting. He has lost an impressive amount of weight but as we know he did it through surgery, not diet and exercise, so he's a cheater at heart. And let's not forget, he hugged Obama twice.

   Jeb Bush: His father, mother and brother got all the personality in the family, leaving him with absolutely none. And those glasses! Oy. Needs a complete makeover. However, is married to a spicy Latino woman so he must have something going on.

   Marco Rubio: Very handsome and polished, he should be a model or an actor but seems a little too slick for my tastes. Oh yes, he's Cuban, always a plus.

   Mike Huckabee: Looks like an undertaker, plus his ear lobes are way too big. (Long, actually.) He should stick with being a preacher or perhaps open up a funeral parlor.

   Scott Walker: Yawn. Too white. Would make a great manager of a Wal-Mart.

Mr. and Mrs. Ben Carson
   Ben Carson: African American former neurosurgeon and what's not to like about that? Weak on the issues but willing and clearly able to learn. (He has 67 doctorate degrees.) Great sense of humor, attractive and quite likable, in fact there's nothing wrong with the guy except for his limited experience as a leader. But I have seen his wife and believe me, Donald Trump would have plenty to say about her. (Woof!)

   Rand Paul: Curly, girly too-styled hair with obvious product. Pompous and overly confident because he's basically right about everything, I could see him turning off every world leader as much as Obama has.

Kasich and his adorable kids and pretty wife.
   John Kasich: Rumpled and genuine, I'd love to have him over for dinner. His father was a postman, which he mentioned more than twice. He's doing a great job as governor of Ohio and continually elicits an enormous outpouring of enthusiasm from his supporters. Seems to be fair and honest and on top of every issue. Father was a postman. We could do worse.

   Ted Cruz: Scary-looking but very smart. But scary-looking. But smart. Very principled. Oh, and also Cuban, possibly his best feature.

My winning ticket for 2016: Kasich / Carson

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Like Me Off Facebook

Oh please, like me on Facebook. Pleeeeeeeeease! It would mean so much. It would mean....well, I am not sure what it would mean but everyone seems to want it.

I went to the dry cleaner to pick up my husband's shirts and there on the front window was the ubiquitous sticker: "Like us on Facebook." But I was already standing at the shop door, and I am already a customer, so I don't bother. I wonder what I would get though if I did it.

Then I went to get some ice cream and there at the little window, while deciding between a small Moose Tracks sugar cone or maybe a medium Maine Maple cup with chocolate sprinkles, saving the calories on the cone and thus going for more of the ice cream, I spied it: "Like us on Facebook." I ask the clerk behind the counter what I'll get if I like her on Facebook and she shrugs and says, "I dunno, but we're out of chocolate sprinkles, how about rainbow?"

Well, once I too wanted to be liked on Facebook, back when I had a consignment shop. I counted the "likes" each day, and somehow the growing number was supposed to make my life better. It didn't. I still hated selling used furniture to old ladies and my business partner still made up words and told long pointless stories that drove me nuts.

Now I don't care if anyone "likes" me on Facebook, or anywhere else for that matter. What I hope for, strive for, each day when I wake up is that maybe, with enough patience and love and caring and motivation, and if I take my fish oil and do my exercise and meditation diligently, just maybe I can "like" myself. Who knows, maybe today's the day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Third World Problems in a First World Bedroom

I am aghast, appalled and downright disgusted. I could be wrong, and I hope I'm wrong, but I am pretty sure we have bedbugs. In our bed. In our bed that cost more money than a bed should cost, owing to the fact that my husband and I place a high value on being able to walk without pain when we get up in the morning. Which we do, thank you. But lately, I have been waking up with many, many red dots that itch. Not mosquitoes, I checked and it looks like, yup, I already said it and will not say it again.

I blame my husband, world traveler that he is. No, actually I blame Andy, his boss. According to the bedbug website I read, the VERY FIRST cause of bedbugs is STAYING IN HOTELS and letting the little critters get in your LUGGAGE, then UNPACKING ON YOUR BED. Mitch does this EVERY WEEK, sometimes TWICE A WEEK.

I can't say anymore, I have to go soak in oatmeal and then fumigate my bedroom. If Mitch asks if he can stay at your place for awhile, you'll say no if you know what's good for you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

First World Problems

Yes, I know many people do not have windows. This is because they sleep in the street or under a bridge or in a cardboard box in Haiti, or maybe Detroit. I am sorry for them, truly, and I hand them dollars at traffic lights whenever the light is red for me. But I live in a house with windows, and when a thunderstorm comes I have to run around the house closing them all, and of course I don't get to some of them in time and it rains in, especially from the skylights. Then the rain stops so I run around opening them because it is so friggin' hot you could die. Then another storm rolls in and I close them again. Then open, mop up. Close, suffocate. It is quite annoying.

Sometimes God Gets it Wrong

R.I.P. Kaiser Carlile
Once in a blue moon, and remember we had one just last week, something happens that makes me believe in God. And not in a good way.

A recent news story has me broken up and wondering why. Last Saturday an adorable 9-year-old boy who served as the batboy for a local baseball team in Kansas was hit in the head by a player who was warming up. Little Kaiser Carlile was running back to the dugout and got too close; the player's bat struck the helmet Kaiser wore for protection and he went down. Despite the helmet, the immediate attempts at resuscitation and the hospital trauma team giving it their all, the little boy died the next day.

This story hit a nerve and I spent half of yesterday sobbing over his death, thinking especially of the player who had swung the fatal bat and the boy's parents, each now in their own private hell. Kaiser's mom saw it happen, sitting in the stands and watching her son having the time of his life, surrounded by the team he had come to love and regard as an extended family. But then, the horror. The disbelief. The vigil at the hospital. The many, many prayers from hundreds of people that went unanswered. The final outcome, and now the funeral.

It is all too awful to be random. It makes me think that God does have a plan for each of us, and that he really did call Kaiser back for some special reason. Or else it was a mistake, like in the 1978 Warren Beatty-Julie Christie movie, "Heaven Can Wait," wherein a novice angel screws up and taps someone not yet scheduled for death. (Great movie, by the way.) The alternate truth, that Satan rules the world, is simply too hard to bear.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Best of All, It's Gluten Free

Meditation and mindfulness are all the rage these days. A year ago the big push was for sustainability. There was sustainable toilet paper and sustainable laundry detergent for sale in all the sustainable markets. But now that's old news; this year the flock is striving to be mindful. And meditation is huge, mostly because it's so good for you. "Meditating regularly can not only help shift negative thought patterns—it may even slow the loss of brain cells." I read that somewhere, can't remember where but it's everywhere these days, so it could have been on my cereal box this morning.

This week while mindfully waiting for my acupuncture appointment, mindfully hydrating myself at the same time,  I picked up a magazine that is actually titled "Mindful." It talks about all the ways you can be mindful and all the things you can do mindfully. Turns out you can do almost everything you already do, but if you just pay attention while you are doing it you are suddenly very trendy and highly evolved. You can make a mindful sandwich and then eat it mindfully. There's even a recipe for mindful pasta primavera. You can drink mindfully and drive mindfully, although I am pretty sure you cannot drink and drive mindfully at once.

Wanting to be as mindful as possible, I decided to take a six-week course in mindfulness to be taught by a local respected mindfulness expert. Two months ago I mailed her a $150.00 deposit check but never heard back about it. I recently emailed her to see if the class was still scheduled to start in September and if so should I pay the balance due, and she wrote back asking if she had cashed the check because she couldn't find it and wasn't sure if she had spent it, but maybe she had.

I decided not to take her course.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Cryptic Note

Yesterday's post about Cecil the Lion elicited a comment from my old friend Anonymous. I'm still trying to figure out its meaning: "You have finally reached the level of your own ignorance. Congratulations!"

First off, I think we can all agree that the word "Congratulations" should have come at the beginning rather than the end of the comment. It commands the reader's attention, surely the goal of all writing. But copy-editing aside, I am at a loss as to what the rest of it means: How can one reach the level of one's own ignorance? Just where is that level? And aren't you always at it?

Even more mysterious is why that particular post was deemed more offensive than any of the last few hundred. Dammit, Anonymous -- if only you would sign your name, we could plumb the depths of your intelligence.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cecil and the Dead Babies

A memorial for Cecil, none for the dead babies.
I am only human and thus have limited bandwidth in my brain, so I can only follow just so many news stories and no more. One that I have missed, intentionally because I hate anything to do with cruelty towards animals, concerns Cecil the lion who was killed by an American hunter in Africa last week. I had successfully shielded myself from this tragic story until last night, when my husband and I had dinner at a new restaurant nearby and sat in the bar area where two TVs were on. One was playing old music videos, loudly, and the other was tuned to CNN and was muted.

Despite eating my food and enjoying seeing Eric Clapton when he was younger and better-looking, I managed to get the story of Cecil from the incessant crawl underneath photos of his orphaned cubs (where is the mother?) and a distraught Anderson Cooper wearing his fretful look. So in spite of myself now I know it all: The dentist, the $55,000 bribe for a hunting license, the decapitation, the outrage. All I can say is, where is the outrage about the dead baby parts being sold by Planned Parenthood?