Thursday, November 23, 2017

Conflicted Holiday Wishes

Today is Thanksgiving and I am trying to turn my back on it since it is a holiday fraught with political incorrectness. Just look what we did to the Indians, I mean native Americans! So, in protest, I am not assembling a dining-room full of white people to gorge on roasted turkey and all the rest. I feel liberated! I am my own person, at last.

Still, with 70 years of roasted turkey on Thanksgiving installed in my memory bank -- in fact, not only installed but deeply ingrained and responsible for a rut in my Third Thursday in November brain cells -- I am roasting a chicken. And while I am not making any stuffing or gravy or pies or cranberry sauce, I will be sticking some yams around the chicken. And some other vegetables, like a few Brussels sprouts and carrots and cauliflower. Who could that hurt?

After all, I have never even met an Indian and certainly wish them no harm. And we are, every one of us, creatures of habit. I understand this fact and I'm okay with it. Maybe in my next life I will have better habits.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How People Are Like Avocados

Interesting, but still trash.
One of the positive aspects of a heart attack, and I've noticed a few, is that it's a mind-altering, life-changing, eye-opening event. Afterward you see things so much more clearly, things you skated right over before. In the Live for Today Department, a heart attack cuts through the fog of complacency that most of us inhabit until something wakes us up and shakes us free.

Take, for example, the common avocado. Usually I'll just grab one, slice through the hard shell of skin and toss it in the trash along with the pit, then eat the delicious and nutritious flesh, never appreciating the amazingly well-constructed package that might have been designed by an MIT grad student. But last night, fixing some guacamole, I actually looked at the whole thing and deemed it worthy of the photo shown above. It reminded me of how often I skim along the surface of things, including people, rarely plumbing the depths to understand their inner workings.

The night of my heart attack, my husband and I were at the rented vacation home of out-of-town friends who were visiting Maine. We had spent the preceding day together and had planned a fun weekend. After a genial dinner the four of us talked around a cozy fire, then retired for the night. Only I didn't retire, I stayed up -- busy having a heart attack. By dawn it was clear that if I wasn't dead yet, I certainly wished I were. We departed hurriedly, our hosts helping me into the car while my husband scrambled to gather up our belongings. Things, for me, went from bad to worse in short order.

Those people (formerly known as "my friends") never called (or emailed or texted) to see how I was doing, despite learning that I had suffered a heart attack, undergone surgery, and spent four days in the hospital. Still haven't, by the way. That puzzled me for a long while: How can people be so mean, especially on the heels of being so nice? It also pissed me off to high Heaven since these two are church-going, God-loving Christians who frequently do foreign missionary work for the disadvantaged.

Since anger is the last thing you want coursing through your body following a heart attack, I put a lid on it. I began to understand that many people are just like avocados: They have that hard outer shell, a pit in the middle containing all the mechanics, and some nourishing good stuff in between. Sometimes, even though they look great on the outside, you come to find out that even their good stuff is rotten and you have to trash the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Surviving Sexual Misconduct

This man is obviously a sexual predator.
The latest trend among women you never heard of in Hollywood is claiming they were sexually harassed years ago by an unattractive man in a powerful position. We never hear about all the other ones -- the hot guys who propositioned them that they happily slept with and eventually went on to marry and, not long after, divorce. Not one former starlet has come forward with an accusation against a waiter, janitor or parking-lot attendant; it's always the head of a movie studio or someone else with considerable clout who did the nasty deed, which in many cases was little more than casting an appreciative eye at a plunging neckline or asking a woman on a date in a "suggestive manner."

I heard a really good one yesterday: Some un-famous woman claimed that long ago, actor Dustin Hoffman "used explicit language" in front of her. This reminded me of when I met Hoffman almost fifty years ago in a Manhattan coffee shop, when I was a student at NYU. We were sitting elbow to elbow at the counter when I accidentally knocked over my coffee and it spilled onto him, and I recall he muttered the word "Fuck." That was pretty damned explicit if you ask me! Exactly what was he suggesting? Despite that, I apologized. We started talking and by the time our checks arrived, Dusty -- he asked me to call him that -- had invited me to his home a few blocks away. This occurred before he was famous and was still only another aspiring actor. He was too short for me, so I declined. (God knows what would have happened had he been taller.)

Since then I have had my share of unwanted advances. In fact if I had just one thin dime for every time I was the victim of today's all-inclusive definition of "sexual misconduct" I'd be writing this blog on the sun-drenched terrace of my 28-room villa in Tuscany.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Wisdom of the Aged

Last night I had a long phone call with my dear friend Gloria, who is possibly my favorite person on the planet. Just hearing her voice on the other end of the line enhances my mood a hundredfold. She is upbeat, funny and always sees the bright side of things. I've known her my whole life, as she was my mother's best friend from the time the two of them were teenagers. Since my mother died at age 62, Gloria has been the only mother I've had for the past several decades. She is 97.

Gloria lives in a charmingly decorated two-bedroom condo in a Phoenix retirement community and enjoys a full and active life. She drives herself to the gym early most mornings, "before it gets too hot," and plays Bingo and card games with friends several times a week. She also enjoys dining out with her sister and brother-in-law, both in their nineties, and relaxes most weekends with her daughter and son-in-law who live nearby.

At the urging of her son, a 70-something film writer in LA who looks like he's in his fifties, Gloria became a vegetarian about 15 years ago. She attributes her longevity and extremely good health to what she eats and more likely to what she doesn't eat. I've always been a skeptic, but since several cardiologists have recommended I switch to a vegetarian diet following my heart attack seven weeks ago, I'm moving, slowly but surely, in that direction.

I asked Gloria what she knew about dentures, since a friend of mine with a boatload of dental issues is considering that option. (I was pretty sure Gloria still had her original teeth, but you never know.) She replied that she did not have dentures but would certainly consider looking into the possibility "sometime down the road."

At 97 she still sees a long road ahead (involving possible new teeth) whereas I, at 71, see only the rest stops. So, with the hope that becoming a vegetarian will make me not only healthier but also more optimistic, I'm heightening my resolve. And best of all, I won't have to mess with a dead turkey this Thanksgiving. (That always freaked me out.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Remembering Mary Jo Kopechne

People in high places are calling for Roy Moore to resign should he win his senate race, since "he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the U.S. Senate." (Gee, who knew they even had any?)

Call me crazy, but I would rather endure being kissed by then-comedian, now Senator Al Franken, tongue and all -- yuk, by the way -- than be trapped inside a car and left to drown at the bottom of the ocean by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Spare Me the Details

On some mornings I wake up and walk outside for the newspaper and revel in the surrounding beauty of nature and feel happy just to be alive. On others, like when it's raining or snowing or otherwise inclement, I stay cozy and instead log on to my computer and within seconds feel embarrassed by my species. (Surely being a frog or a squirrel or a bird or just about anything else must be better.) Today I experienced both sensations simultaneously.

The short walk to the end of our driveway made me gasp at the beauty of nature. A powerful wind filled the air with fallen leaves, creating a veritable weather condition: It was leafing! Bright orange pumpkins, some half-rotted by now but still intact and inherently joyful, dotted the lawns and doorsteps of my neighbors in every direction. Impossibly fluffy clouds skittered by in a sky so blue it looked fake, like the one in The Truman Show. I rated the day an A+.

Then I opened the paper and saw, on the front page above the fold, a photo of Al Franken, former "Saturday Night Live" jester who years later became a more respectable fool in the United States Senate. Suddenly he has joined the coterie of famous men accused of "sexual misconduct," a term so loosely applied it includes anyone who ever cast an appreciative glance at a member of the opposite sex, or even of the same sex. Instantly my mood soured.

It seems that years ago Al Franken stuck his tongue in some woman's mouth and she didn't want him to. I wonder, is there any woman alive who didn't suffer that indignity? When Steven Turkowitz did that to me in the 11th grade I bit his tongue and trust me, he was sorry. (There was blood.) I didn't "report" him to anyone, but he reported me to the whole school and for weeks after boys would ask if I would bite their tongue. (I always declined.)

Anyway, don't we humans have bigger fish to fry? Like certain death for all of us, with maybe cancer or crippling diseases on the way to it, and still no power for the citizens in fully half of Puerto Rico? Do we really need a Senate investigation into whether or not Al Franken was once a moron and possibly still is? I'm going out for a walk among the pumpkins and I suggest you do the same.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dumb Jocks

Three Stupid Guys
There are a lot of really stupid people in the world, and for them I feel truly sorry. It's hard to know the causes in many cases: Is it genetic? A birth defect? An accident that caused swelling of the brain and loss of intellectual capability? Did they not pay attention in school, or even worse, did they not even attend school and thus were denied even the basics? Lack of nutrition during the formative years? The possible causes are endless. However, none of those was the cause of the stupidity of three freshmen UCLA basketball players who, along with their whole team, were on a marketing trip to China and were caught on videotape (duh) shoplifting. Sunglasses, I think it was.

Obviously, shoplifting anywhere is dumb, unless it's for milk and you are destitute and you just gave birth but you are starving yourself and so are not producing milk and you need it for your newborn, but in a country known to pull out one's fingernails as a form of torture, it's downright moronic. Sure, times have changed, but according to the website of The International Society for Human Rights, "Torture is widely used and systematically implemented by the Chinese authorities, despite torture being officially forbidden." Nevertheless, these three bona fide college students considered shoplifting in China to be a worthy endeavor.

Fortunately President Trump was also in China last week hanging out with that country's leader and intervened on behalf of the scofflaws. (See, he's good for something after all.) Everyone knows that playing football can cause brain damage, but might the same be true of basketball? Someone should definitely look into that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Little Things Mean A Lot

The following headline in today's Wall Street Journal caught my attention: "Think of the Harm Taxing Tuition Wavers Will Do." I wondered who or what tuition wavers could be and why they would be taxed and dived right in. But the first sentence cited "tuition waivers," and I immediately understood that the editors of the esteemed Journal (our nation's largest newspaper by circulation, first published in 1889 and winner of 40 Pulitzer prizes), now rely on Spell-check, a computer program that identifies possible misspellings in a block of text by comparing it with a database of accepted spellings, instead of paying humans with actual brains to perform the highly skilled art of copy-editing. 

If you ask me, a former newspaper copy-editor, that's pretty lame. Certainly in the scheme of horrible things, like earthquakes, mass shootings, childhood cancer and of course anything to do with Russia, typos in the newspaper are but petty annoyances. But are they? Whatever happened to excellence? Maybe Spell-check is why Donald Trump is our PUTOS.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Here Comes Winter

This year I'm just not in the mood for winter.

I had not realized this until yesterday when our first snow fell and I was pissed about it. Not being into skiing I saw little cause for celebration. Instead I flashed on Vinnie, our snow plow guy who is a major bummer even on a sunny day --  dour and sour and unhappy over God knows what. (I never ask.) I rarely see him except during blizzards, but one time I ran into him at Ace Hardware in the middle of July and he was just as gloomy. Gloomier, even.

Anyway, Vinnie shows up around now and goes from being a bit player to having a starring role in my life, which is annoying since I don't even like him. (I would much rather have Jackson Browne in a starring role.) Nevertheless there I am, staring out the front window at what was once my driveway and praying for his arrival, beginning sometime in November until you never know when in April.

Maybe this year I'm just not in the mood for Vinnie.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Gettin' Jiggy With Jefferson

He certainly did pursue everything.
Sometimes, the less you know the better you feel. I learned this truth anew on my recent visit to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's glorious mountain-top plantation located in Virginia's stunning Piedmont Region. Our third president and one of our most popular Founding Fathers, Jefferson is famous for stating in the opening of the Declaration of Independence that, "All men are created equal." Turns out that, just like his namesake William Jefferson Clinton who came along so many years later, Tom was also a lying blankety-blank.

Wisely, I see now, I slept through pretty much every history class in high school, being averse to hearing about the repugnant violence and soul-shattering destruction caused by man's inhumanity to man. I side-stepped the subject entirely in college where I majored in Fine Art and spent almost all my time reading Shakespeare, painting, drawing, and immersing myself in the lives of artists, none of whom were busy owning, whipping, trading or selling slaves or tearing apart families, which apparently Mr. Jefferson, or should I call him "Massa Jefferson," did with abandon. Certainly I had heard whispers of those terrible truths, but never to the nauseating degree I heard them during a lengthy and almost too informative tour of the "slave quarters" at Monticello just a few days ago.

Dozens of books have been written on the subject so there's no need for me to say more, other than my conclusion that being a two-faced, lying windbag filled with empty rhetoric has been part of the job description of POTUS for many years. And compared to Jefferson, who fathered at least six children with one of his "slave girls" and no doubt dallied with several others, and who thought nothing of wrenching slave children from their mothers' arms and putting them up on the auction block, our current president, who has admitted to enjoying seeing pretty women undressing backstage at beauty pageants, is a veritable prince among men. Or at least among presidents.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Little Speck

Suitable for framing, except for that annoying little speck.
This morning I am not happy because I have to fly. While this is not as bad as those mornings when I am scheduled for surgery since today I can have coffee, it's a close second, especially since for surgery they put you out. I would love it if you could get general anesthesia for flying. My husband tries to cheer me up by saying we have been upgraded to First Class. Big deal. All that means to me is we will have more leg room when the unspeakable happens.

Anyway, just in case, I leave you all with this great photo of three pears in a painted wooden bowl. If I make it home safely I intend to make this the subject of my next painting and title it "Three Pears in a Painted Wooden Bowl." Or maybe just "Three Pears." I will definitely paint it minus that annoying little speck on the bottom left side. Or maybe not -- maybe that makes the whole thing. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Life in These United States

Yesterday I was a bad citizen. It was Election Day and I did not vote. Honestly, here in Maine I don't even know why people were bothering. All over town, political signs began sprouting up like crabgrass weeks ago, urging one to vote for more Medicare or less rent control, or maybe the other way around. Most intriguing were the ones asking, "Why So Shady, Shawn?" and directing you to (Turns out Shawn wanted another casino in the state, which is why he's wicked and shady.) I ignored them.

Better get started!
Harder to ignore were all the phone calls we got every night urging us to do such-and-such and get so-and-so elected. I consistently hung up on every one of them, refusing to be talked at by a robot. After all, if Donald Trump is in the White House telling the nut who runs North Korea that, "We have a nuclear submarine positioned," and also tweets about "unleashing fire and fury," does it really matter who's doing what at the grass roots level here in Maine, a state with more cows than people?

It wasn't always like this. Years ago I was a good citizen and took my responsibilities seriously. But the low caliber of those in office has cured me of that. Ditto the preponderance of random mass shootings. or even non-mass shootings, like the one just yesterday in a local Walmart store that never made national news. A customer had an altercation with another customer and "a shot was discharged." Nobody was hurt, but as the drama was unfolding a woman entering the store heard the shot, then turned and ran back outside, only to drop dead on the street. According to an eyewitness I heard on the evening news, "that lady must have got pretty anxietied from what she saw inside." (Grammar is not all that important around these parts.)

Most days I try to pay as little attention as possible to the world and focus instead on taking my medications, eating right and keeping my head down. I suggest you all do the same.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thinking Positive

Turns out every cloud really does have a silver lining!

The upside of my heart attack six weeks ago, which rendered me fearful (of having another one), depressed (that I had one in the first place), sad (that I can never again eat a greasy cheeseburger with pile of salty fries) and lacking an appetite (Oy, who can eat?) is that I have finally reached my goal weight. Now all those pants that haven't fit me for the past two years zip right up, no problem.

I may have lost my bravado, but I've gained a new wardrobe.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Democrats Don't Get It

Hey, did you hear the one about the crazy 26-year-old former Air Force pilot who walked into a rural church on a Sunday morning and opened fire, killing 26 innocent people and wounding at least 20 more? Here's the punchline: Democrats think guns are the problem!

I guess they've forgotten about the jet planes piloted by crazy people in 2001 that crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon (3,000 dead), or the several vans driven by crazy people that plowed into crowds of unsuspecting people (8 dead in London in June, 13 dead in Barcelona in August, 8 dead last month in NYC), or the bombs exploded by crazy people at the 2013 Boston Marathon (3 dead, hundreds injured).

They must also have forgotten about all the historical murders committed by all the crazy people without guns, including Timothy McVeigh (168 dead), Jeffrey Dahmer (17 dead), Richard Speck (8 dead), Son of Sam (6 dead), Charles Manson (7 dead), Ted Bundy (30 plus dead), and Jim Jones (900 dead). Sadly that's just the tip of the iceberg: Besides Jack the Ripper stalking the streets of London in the 1880s (murdering at least 11 women with his bare hands and "a blunt object"), there have simply been too many others to mention here.

I can't help thinking guns are not the problem. Instead, might the constant consumption of poisonous foods, rampant drug use, declining health, obsession with violent and moronic entertainment, shameless sexualization of children, faulty religious beliefs, polarization of the races, lack of respect for our elders, overwhelming abuse of nature, emphasis on financial success, worship of false idols and inability to adequately treat the mentally ill have something to do with it?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Prayer is Overrated

Last Sunday a powerful storm ripped through Maine in the middle of the night and obliterated power for much of the state. I slept through the exciting part -- the gale force winds and torrential rains -- and woke up Monday morning to that eerily quiet condition commonly referred to as a "power outage," notable for the absence of humming from any and all appliances. A month ago I had a power outage of far more serious proportions for me personally in the form of a heart attack, but oddly enough the more recent one (involving my inability to check my email or make toast or watch Curb Your Enthusiasm, not to mention keep up with the latest terror attacks and political upsets) had a greater impact on both my mood and my daily life.

Exacerbating the situation was the fact that my husband was out of town for the entire event, leaving me literally alone in the dark, which around these parts begins to descend about 5:30 in the afternoon. An extra kick in the pants came from all the surrounding generators belonging to my storm-savvy neighbors, each accompanied by a relentless cacophony similar to an airplane taking off, adding up to five or six airplanes taking off. This noise went on day and night, making sleep all but impossible for those lacking generators and also lacking heat, unless you happen to have a fireplace in your bedroom which I do not. The noise also freaked out my cat, who refused to stay outside for more than a few minutes, but once back inside began meowing to go out since he has a pea brain and forgot why he was inside in the first place.

This throwback to prehistoric times lasted every minute of a full three days. Candles were lit, oil lamps were filled, tears were shed and curses were muttered. In between all that, a special prayer was dispensed to the Heavens: "Please God, turn the power on." I repeated my prayer incessantly and with gusto while shivering in the cold showers I endured to maintain the level of personal hygiene I have come to enjoy, and while emptying the fridge of rotting food that was starting to make itself known, and while struggling to make coffee with a rigged-up container and some old Chemex filters, having committed years ago to an electric coffee maker, a decision surely worth revisiting. All to no avail, since downed power lines and busted transformers apparently trumped my piddling prayers.

Finally, after hearing the plaintive quality bordering on hysteria in my voice on one of our few successful phone calls placed somewhere beyond the outage area, my husband cut short his business trip by one day to return home and help shoulder the burden of daily life without benefit of technology. Alas, Mitch was on the scene for perhaps three hours of daylight and 45 minutes of darkness when the power was restored. And the funny thing is, he hadn't even prayed for it.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tempeh and Me

Last night I went to a local pizzeria and got a deep-dish pie with everything: Mounds of creamy mozzarella, chunks of sausage and slabs of pepperoni, with a few anchovies and black olives strewn around and a ton of grated Parmesan cheese on top. It was to die for.

Just kidding. I didn't do that because it literally would have been to die for. Apparently my days of eating mouth-watering foods are over as I enter the austere, serious and semi-monastic world of vegetarians. When it comes to eating my new test will be: Did it have a mother? If not, it's a go. I am doing this to save my life (only up to a point of course since we all die), and to avoid future heart problems.

Based on my reading and talking to others with similar concerns, it's my only option. The fact is that wherever a plant-based diet is the norm, heart disease simply does not exist. These countries include China, much of Africa, Japan, South Korea, France, Portugal, and many, many others. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), "in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. For American Indians or Alaska Natives and Asians or Pacific Islanders, heart disease is second only to cancer."

I'm ready to commit, but I sure hope I don't turn into one of those vegetarians. You know the type: holier-than-thou (certainly paler-than-thou), the men with long ponytails and bald on top, the women wearing sandals with heavy socks even in winter, all of them loudly lactose-intolerant and proudly gluten-free, loving the environment and hating GMOs, and most especially looking down their noses at all the prehistoric meat-eaters. I intend to just sit quietly and eat my seven different kinds of beans with bowls of kale, carrots, tofu, berries, tempeh (whatever that is), soy milk, whole grains and most especially quinoa salad (which is very "in" these days) and get healthy. Who knows -- one day I might even become a vegan.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Heart Attack Survivor's To-Do List

1. Enjoy life.
2. Stop ruminating about having had a heart attack exactly one month ago today.
3. Take the boatload of prescribed medications so as not to have another heart attack.
4. Exercise for at least 30 minutes to strengthen my heart so it won't have another attack, like the guy Mitch knows who had three of them in 24 hours or my neighbor who had another one six months later.
5. Go to the market and buy food for tonight's dinner guests.
6. Cook and serve dinner and enjoy guests, who are young and healthy, have not had heart attacks and don't even know, or need to know, that I had one exactly one month ago today.
7. Do not assume you are having a heart attack if at any point during the day anything hurts or feels weird, although do not leave the house without those nitroglycerin tablets.
8. Go to sleep and avoid dreams about hospitals, ambulances and especially that episode of Grey's Anatomy where the woman came into the ER with an upset stomach that actually was a mild heart attack only she ended up dying. (It's fiction.)
9. Write a blog post that may be helpful to someone, imploring them to eat better (see illustration), exercise more and stop smoking -- before it's too late!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

He Touched Me

Imagine you are an actress nobody ever heard of. You're desperately trying to get yourself noticed in these crazy, actress-ful times. What to do, what to do? Claiming Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted you is so last week, who cares. And besides, he assaulted stars so much bigger than you. Think, think, there must be something....

Got it! You could say that the former president, George H. W. Bush, well into his dotage and confined to a wheelchair, sexually assaulted you four years ago but you never spoke up until now because A, you thought your career would be further along by now or B, you never knew what happened could be considered sexual assault but since almost everything is these days, it counts! What he did was "touch you from behind" during a photo session, with his wife standing right next to him, and also told you a "dirty joke." That ought to get some traction!

So it did, and it's in the news today, but darned if I know what that girl's name is or what she ever acted in. However I certainly hope she is getting some therapy for what must have been a very traumatic experience.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Life Aboard the Titanic

This morning I attended my first official cardiac rehabilitation session. My classmates, about half male and half female, were all in the same dubious boat as me, but every last one of them --maybe twenty in all -- was grossly overweight and pushing 80. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just that it got me wondering how I ended up in that particular (leaky) boat at this point of my life.

To begin, I put on a heart monitor and attached sensors to three different places on my chest. My first task was to ride an exercise bike for 20 minutes, followed by walking on a treadmill for another 20 minutes, while someone at a computer kept an eye on my various numbers. Every so often someone came over and took my blood pressure and smiled and said, "Good job!" The radio was tuned to an oldies station, which I found quite appropriate, although I had heard Paul Anka under far better circumstances in the past, that's for sure.

At the end of the class we all gathered for a cool-down stretching session. Sitting next to me was a genial fat lady who leaned towards me and whispered, "Today is Thursday, isn't it?" I said no, it's Tuesday. She insisted, in a louder voice, that she was sure it was Thursday. I replied, lowering my voice, that I was certain it was Tuesday. She then shouted, somewhat angrily in fact, "It's Thursday!" This caused everyone to look in our direction. I considered slapping her. Out of options, I yelled, "Listen lady, it's Tuesday and that's that!" She sort of laughed and said, "Well, that's a relief. I thought it was Thursday."

I have to go to 15 more of these classes.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Love the One You're With

"After Your Heart Event," MaineHealth, 2015
Since suffering a heart attack almost a month ago I have immersed myself in literature about the conditions that might lead to such an event and how to avoid another. In all my reading, including bestsellers by pop doctors and leading nutritionists as well as more scholarly tomes published by cardiology treatment centers, I have come across one particular statement repeatedly: "You can't change your gender."

The preceding true fact is somehow swept under the rug by all those people who call themselves "transgender" after they've cut off their breasts or installed fake ones, ingested hormones either to grow beards or eliminate them, done various unknowable things to their more private body parts, and voila -- Playboy's November Playmate of the Month is a man-turned-woman, posing fully nude! (That should invigorate the magazine's flagging sales.) But does the new "she" have ovaries? How about menstrual cramps? Because if it's no and no, it's not a female. Conversely, all those transgendered men out there sporting scruffy beards, work boots and vaginas are barely fooling themselves.

Embarrassing but true, America still leads the pack in cosmetic surgery. The most recent statistics from 2016 show that surgeons performed 4.2 million procedures meant to enhance a person's beauty, including facelifts, liposuction and breast enlargements, which suggest we also lead the pack in superficiality. Brazil is next with 2.5 million procedures in that same time period, while Japan had 1.1 million procedures, 10% of those being eyelid surgeries. The popular procedure for women (most notably in South Korea and Taiwan) is called East Asian blepharoplasty. The double-eyelid surgery creates a crease in the upper eyelid, ostensibly to give the eyes "a more energetic look." Most  patients deny they are trying to look "white" and instead want to just look prettier and improve their employment options.

Everyone knows that change is good, but loving who you are is the greatest gift you can give yourself, and the only path to true happiness. After all, if you won't be you, who will?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Money Makes You Crazy

The only logical explanation for Donald Trump's psychotic behavior is that having lots of money drives people crazy. Trump aside, most rich folks can't seem to figure out what to do with their money besides spend it on themselves. My jaundiced eye into this zany world is The Wall Street Journal, which we get home delivered because it reports the straight news without that annoying leftward slant of the New York Times that gives you a neck ache when you read it, and is printed with much less inky ink. (The Times gets all over everything.)

In today's WSJ I saw an ad for a pair of pajamas that cost almost $500. (Top, $228, Pants, $268) Now these are not sexy pajamas intended to seduce a rich man and ultimately marry him and then be rich yourself. These are ordinary striped PJ's just like I have, and you might too, that cost maybe 50 bucks, even less if you shop at Walmart. I mean you are wearing them in the dark, lying in a bed all night getting them crumpled and wrinkled, with nobody seeing you, or them, so WTF?

Yesterday in the paper's modestly named MANSION section, I read about Candy Spelling, widow of TV producer Aaron Spelling, who lives in an 18,000-square-foot duplex penthouse condo in Los Angeles. She is 72, so I am guessing she has no kids living at home with her. Maybe she has a revolving door of young lovers, but how can one person live in such a big place, and why? Even weirder, in March of 2013 Candy sued the developers after she claimed they failed to add a restaurant to the building as promised. What, there's no kitchen in her duplex penthouse?

These folks literally have money to burn, so why don't they give some away to all the needy in the world? They could fly their private jets straight to Puerto Rico and drop down some food and water and medical supplies, and even a few hundred pairs of fancy pajamas.

Friday, October 20, 2017

There's Aways A Monster Under the Bed

Did you hear the latest about Harvey Weinstein? He drew the unlucky number and was stoned to death by that ever-increasing crowd of smug, self-satisfied Hollywood hypocrites who knew all along he was a scumbag but never said a word until they got the signal from someone on high (Anderson Cooper?) that it was okay to come forward and tell their stories, and the more the merrier. Now every woman who ever brushed shoulders with the man at a cocktail party is claiming sexual harassment of the most heinous kind.

This phenomenon, which I call "The Lottery Effect," after the brilliant short story by Shirley Jackson (The Lottery) that explains the dark side of human nature in just eleven pages, happens all the time, albeit usually without as much fanfare as the Weinstein debacle. For example, just this week I watched it happen to a man who works in a large organization run by a close friend of mine.

It all started when one female executive didn't like the guy, mostly because he knew too much and made her feel embarrassingly inept in meetings. She called him out as "abrasive and insensitive." Soon another employee voiced a similar complaint, and before you could say "severance pay," the whole damn office had decided that this one guy, a smart and diligent worker with a crummy personality and an aversion to chit-chat, was the whole problem with everything! He was the reason the company (of over 200 people) was struggling! He was the reason behind all the missed deadlines and falling revenue! He simply had to go!

So they fired him the old-fashioned way, stripping him of his manhood in front of his boss and the HR lady, but in their minds they were pelting him with stones in the middle of the parking lot, then carting away his lifeless body, relieved that the Evil One had been dealt with. Just like they had done about a year ago, when it was a woman who talked too much and distracted everyone and caused things to be late and nobody liked and just had to go.

Last year Bill Cosby was the monster. Now it's Harvey Weinstein. I wonder who's next?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Good News Is the Bad News

Many things sound the death knell for intelligent life on planet Earth, or at least here in America since I suspect other cultures are much smarter, which is why we always end up way down on the list of global surveys regarding student scores, general happiness of the citizenry and good health. But one that irks me quite a bit is the fact that cursive is no longer taught in our public schools, having been deemed a waste of time now that everyone uses computers to write everything. I suppose printing the alphabet will stick around so kids can text their moronic message like LOL, ROFL, SMH, BTW, TMI and ATROTBS. (I just made that last one up and it means All The Rest Of That Bullshit, but I bet if lots of you start using it it will become part of the texting lexicon.) Writing cursive is fun, not to mention beautiful, and has long been used in police work as offering a peek into someone's psyche.

Also on the wane is simple math, like 2 +2 = 4. My own son, having attended a decent university and approaching 30, besides being one of the smartest people I know, who reads books on subjects I barely comprehend just for fun and quotes authors whose names I couldn't spell correctly given all the time in the world (Kieerkegaard? Kirkegaard?), unabashedly struggles with the basics of math, shrugging his shoulders like it's no big deal. His defense, being that if you've got a calculator on your iPhone what difference does it make, holds water.

So how dumb will people get? The sky's the limit! BTW, that expression  originated at a time of optimism and progress in the USA, just before WWI. The earliest citation is from the New York newspaper The Syracuse Herald, in September of 1911: "Then good luck, and remember the sky's the limit." Despite that, many people still wrongly attribute it to the writer Cervantes.

See that? Google has made it possible to know everything while actually knowing nothing. This is either really good or really bad news; only time will tell.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pushing a Rock

The real woman behind the fake Flo.
My son, a serious chap who hates wasting a second of life, often wonders what he should "do with it" so as not to squander what he regards as a precious commodity. I admire this trait in him although I don't really share it, having personally never wondered what to do with my life as much as how to get through it.

Still, I have chosen my pursuits wisely, not counting the acid trips, and waste no time extricating myself from situations I deem worthless, be they friendships, jobs or that one ill-fated marriage. So I am more than a little mystified when I see people who stagnate in unfulfilling jobs offering no growth for thirty years or more, or celebrate anniversaries with spouses they abhor year after year. This brings to mind "Flo," the obnoxious spokeswoman for Progressive Insurance.

How does she do it ? How can she wake up each morning knowing that she's got to put on that heavy makeup and get her hair done in that weird way, and wear the ugly outfits and say the dumb lines again and again and again? She's been at it since 2008, and if this woman is not a modern-day Sisyphus then nobody is.

I did a little research and learned that "Flo" is portrayed by 47-year-old Stephanie Courtney, who is actually quite pretty underneath all the gunk. She earns about half a million per commercial, and I guess that's enough for her to keep doing it. But really, one wonders if playing a ditzy sales clerk in all sorts of ridiculous situations, just to sell insurance, is what she envisioned when she said in an interview, "I was never tortured over whether I wanted to become an actress. There was never another option in my mind."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hillary's Foot

Another mystery surrounds the beleaguered almost-first-female-POTUS, as if losing to Trump wasn't enough. The way I heard it on the radio, Hillary Clinton was running down the stairs in high heels, carrying a cup of coffee and turning around to talk to someone behind her, when she slipped and fell backwards and broke her toe.

Then I arrived home and read online that she didn't break her toe, she twisted her ankle. Which makes more sense because I can't imagine Hillary Clinton running anywhere, unless it was to dodge sniper fire at an airport in Bosnia that turned out to be a little girl reading her a poem. (I know I always confuse those two things.) Oh how I miss Hillary and her madcap stories! Imagine what fun it would be if she had won. (Almost as good as what we got.)

Smiley Face

Summer meets Fall.
You know what? I am sick of bad news. Sick of it! The world is in flames, people are dying everywhere, and there is not one damn thing I can do about it, so why am I hearing about it and reading about it 24/7?

Rubbernecking, that's why. Nothing raises media ratings more than a bloody, gory sob story we hear about other people's lives, usually as we are sitting in our comfy living room with a cat on our lap or hunched over the morning paper and a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee. (It's a metaphor; I don't eat bacon, not since my heart attack two weeks ago which compared to the stories coming out of the California wildfires, like the one about the woman who ran back inside her burning house to rescue her blind dog and was later found by her son, her remains clutching the dog's remains, was a day at Disneyland.)

In the interest of self-preservation I will simply stop taking in the trash. No longer will the horror stories of how Trump did this and Harvey Weinstein did that, and 200 people died here and another 600 died there enter my soul's container, poisoning my organs and tainting my blood, accomplishing absolutely nothing of merit. Instead I will listen to lovely music and walk in nature's glory, counting how many different colors of red and orange I can find in the newly fallen leaves.

Have a nice day! 😄😄😄

Sunday, October 15, 2017


King (Emma Stone) and Riggs (Steve Carrell) hold a press conference before the big match.

I went to see Battle of the Sexes, the story of the groundbreaking 1973 match (and most-watched televised sports event of all time) between superstars Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, expecting to see a lot of tennis. So I was surprised and dismayed that I had to sit through so much lesbian sex. Hey, don't get me wrong: lesbians are fine, they can be who they are and love who they want, I care not. But it's not my favorite thing to watch two women kissing and caressing and sighing deep sighs as they roll around in the sack. (Okay, we get it, Billie Jean King is gay; can we move on?)

At the time King was a 29-year-old rising star and Riggs was a 55-year old has-been. She was married to a man and having a clandestine affair with a woman; his marriage was crumbling because of his non-stop gambling addiction. Between all that mishegas, the pair managed to fit in some tennis matches, the underlying focus of which was assuring that women get the same pay as men when they win professional tournaments. (At the time, men received $12,000 and women got a mere $1,500.)

Besides all the weepy soap opera, the film features two sterling performances by co-stars Emma Stone and Steve Carrell. Each one bears an uncanny resemblance to the originals they portray, making it easy to buy into the tale of Man vs. Woman on the tennis court. Another of the film's noteworthy features is the depiction of an era: The Seventies, in all its tacky glory, shows up in hairstyles, clothing, interior design and most notably the sound track. (There's a lot of Elton John.)

Despite the many major flaws in the script that will have you whispering to your companion why this or that did or did not happen, Battle of the Sexes is a fun diversion. Definitely see it if you've got nothing else to do.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Beware of False Claims

Read any good fiction lately? I have. Recently I stumbled upon a new author while I was grocery shopping. Here's an excerpt from his “Box of Hot Cocoa” that was so compelling, I bought some:
“Stir up some instant decadence with this velvety-smooth Hot Cocoa and savor the rich chocolate taste you expect from Ghirardelli. This harmonious blend brings together quality ingredients, including premium cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix with milk for a more decadent hot cocoa!”

And just what goes into such a decadent brew? Turns out it's sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate (prevents caking), soy lecithin (an emulsifier), tetrasodium pyrophosphate, polysorbate 60, whey, nonfat dry milk, semi-sweet chocolate chips, salt, cellulose gum, natural and artificial flavor and silicon dioxide to prevent caking.

Somewhat disappointed, I forced myself to look beyond my lifelong prejudice against ingesting chemicals and reasoned that the true test of any food is taste. After carefully following the recipe (add hot water while stirring), I presented a cup to my neighbor’s visiting 5-year-old granddaughter. She sipped, grimaced, and said, "This stuff is gross. Don't you have any real hot chocolate?"

My point exactly.

One area where fiction runs rampant is the wild world of hair products. Just the other day I agonized over three conditioners, each promising results I pined for: Brand A offered, "Natural, organic herbs and botanicals that will leave your hair feeling luxuriously soft and silky, with radiant shine. Not tested on animals." Brand B extolled the virtues of, "Apple pectin and creamy-rich buttermilk blended to naturally thicken, moisturize and restore healthy shine. Leaves hair feeling luxurious, silky and manageable." Brand C claimed to be, "A polymerized electrolytic moisture potion that transports moisture into the innermost structure of the hair, leaving it pliable, smooth and velvety with a natural luster. Never tested on animals." What’s not to like about all of them?

After much deliberation I finally went with Brand B because the other two hadn't been tested on animals, making me wonder just who they are testing it on. Could it be me? (Sorry, but I'd rather have the bunny go blind.) FYI, my hair remained un-luxurious, un-silky and decidedly unmanageable despite their copywriter's soaring prose. I’m thinking after my next shampoo I might try dumping on some of that Ghirardelli cocoa which at the very least should prevent caking.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Come to Think of It, Harvey Weinstein Raped Me Too

Not really, but saying he did seems to be the "in thing" right now -- but for how long?

Punctuation for Dummie's!

Of all the bits of punctuation roaming the English language, surely the apostrophe is having the least amount of fun. I'm willing to bet it's downright depressed.

Exclamation points are out there having a blast, being used and abused by people of all ages, especially in texts by young people, and even more especially, my blog!!!!!! Quotation marks are also quite busy, what with everyone trying to avoid being sued for plagiarism. And of course the ubiquitous period reigns supreme, showing up everywhere. Like here. And here. And naturally, here too. (Even an idiot knows how to use a period. And, BTW, parentheses.)

Conversely, the apostrophe is completely misunderstood by even smart people!!!!!!!! This morning a woman who I know has a college education wrote on Facebook, under a photo of the California firefighters, "These are the real hero's!" The blatant misuse of the little upside-down comma made me sigh deeply, roll my eyes and wonder why. It most definitely did not make me roll my eye's!

Come on people, concentrate! It's easy (not its easy)! Here you go:
An apostrophe is a mark ' used to indicate the omission of letters or figures, the possessive case (as in "John's book"), or the plural of letters or figures, as in "the 1960's.

That's it! As in, that is it! (Not thats' it!)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Art of Being Human

I am not a violent person. On those rare occasions when I am forced to end the life of an insect because I feel unduly threatened and it's either him or me, I am deeply distressed for some time following the hateful event. I have never struck another person and can't imagine doing so. I certainly have never held a gun or entertained the possibility of owning one. Still, I completely understand the murderous rage of the deranged man in Las Vegas who rained down bullets on the defenseless attendees of a concert venue from his hotel room high above. Basically, he just didn't like people very much.

And who could blame him? Personally I have never been that big a fan of the species, far preferring cats and dogs. But still, I married one and gave birth to another, both of whom I treasure, and have become very close to a number of folks who are wonderful when you treat them right. Treating them right is the key, and it's a tricky art to master. (One longtime friend who recently lost her adult son quite unexpectedly was greatly angered by my asking "how she was doing," finding the question too invasive.) Suspecting all along that humans are highly overrated, I never quite had the clear proof I've gotten over the past two weeks.

This morning a woman who I thought was a friend but I guess is really only a neighbor -- someone who lives nearby and passes directly in front of my house several times a day walking her dogs, and who often stops by for a chat and some goodies from our garden in summer -- contacted me for the first time since my heart attack (an event that has deeply changed how I see the world) by writing on my Facebook page: "Are you feeling any better?" This saddened me as I had been telling myself that she likely had no idea I was ill, had been hospitalized, or any of it, and thus, probably being busy or out of town, or perhaps blinded in some horrible accident that prevented her from looking at Facebook over the last two weeks, had not contacted me. That myth was destroyed by her question.

She's not alone. People I have known for years who I considered "close friends" have also been completely silent. Okay, so what, you're thinking -- so you had a fucking heart attack. How does that compare to who's on "Dancing With the Stars" this season? Okay, I get it. It's not important to anyone but me and my family, in fact anyone who doesn't count on me for something. People are expendable. (Sigh.)

So what I think is that the Vegas killer must have been hurt pretty badly by lots of people during his 64 years on Earth. That's certainly no excuse, it's just a thought. But maybe today you could be nice to someone for no reason. Call a friend to say hello. Stop and chat with a neighbor and ask how they're doing. Hey, here's an idea: Give a homeless person ten bucks! You know, just to be human.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Emotions for Dummies

It's incredible how many of my "friends" have not registered even the smallest iota of compassion, phony or not, regarding my recent heart attack, yet never fail to to wish anyone and everyone a "Happy Birthday" by clicking that convenient button on their Facebook pages. And who cares? How much is a happy birthday worth, especially after sixty or seventy of them? It's not like you were going to have a bad one and then suddenly you had a happy one because people wished you would. It is 100% meaningless, which may account for its popularity.

Nevertheless, the custom of wishing people a happy birthday has fueled the rise of the billion-dollar Hallmark Card company to soaring heights and has also given me a great idea! New data from the Pew Center for Internet and American Life show that "Facebook’s strongest growth over the past year has come from users over the age of 65 as more older users sign onto the website to keep in touch with their friends, children and grandchildren." The survey found that 45 percent of American seniors who use the Internet are on Facebook.

Read more here:

So, with the number of people over 75 using social media nearly doubling in the last year, perhaps more of those oh-so-clickable buttons are in order. Following are a few that might be useful and much appreciated by an ever-weakening demographic:

1. Your friend Andrea Rouda just had a heart attack! Click here to wish her a "speedy recovery."

2. Your friend Helen Brown's husband died yesterday! Click here to say, "I'm sorry for your loss."

3. Your friend Bob Benson just lost his wife! Click here to say, "She is in a better place now."

4. Your friend Jill Palmer lost both her legs to diabetes yesterday! Click here to say, "Hope you are up and around soon."

5. Your friend Jane Burke committed suicide last week! Click here to post your hope for her "finding everlasting peace" on her Memorial Page.

6. Your friend Mel Stern has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's! Click here to say how much you enjoyed your recent visit with him. (Visit not necessary.)

You get the point -- the possibilities are endless! Zuckerberg should get right on this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wise Up While You Still Can

Take it from me folks, you do NOT want to have a heart attack. It sucks while it's happening and it's not a whole lot better afterward. Yet despite being preventable in most cases, heart disease is the leading killer of adults in America. It's almost as if people are trying to get heart attacks! Following are some of the most popular leisure activities of Americans:

1. Ingesting poison: Healthful meals and snacks can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. This means choosing fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods,
foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber, and limiting sugar and sodium in your diet.
350 slices of pizza are sold every second in America. (National Association of Pizza Operators)


2. Getting and staying fat: Being overweight or obese greatly increases your risk of heart disease, narrows your clothing options and looks downright ugly.

These women are heading for major heart trouble, not to mention splitting their jeans.


3. Laying around doing nothing: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels, ultimately saving your life.


4. Knowingly destroying essential body parts: Cigarette smoking ruins your lungs, heart, larynx and lots of other things you need, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease.

5. Getting drunk: Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart disease. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Rocky Road to Recovery

Don't eat these.
I woke up this morning eager to attend the first meeting of my cardiac rehabilitation program. It promised to lead me back to the land of the living, as I have been banned from exercising without proper supervision since my heart attack eleven days ago. Supposedly a "team of experts" would direct me through the tangled process of regaining my strength and reclaiming my self-confidence.

The first thing that happened was that I got horribly lost on the half-hour drive to the class. This was through no fault of my own, since I had been told repeatedly by at least two reliable sources, one being my husband and the other the receptionist at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, to get off I-295 South at Exit 4 and go down the long exit ramp and voila, there it would be, "easy-peasy."

So I got off I-295 South at Exit 4 and went down the long exit ramp and voila, it was not there. Instead I was dumped onto a crowded suburban road full of gas stations and supermarkets and banks and car repair shops and traffic lights. So I pulled over and called the rehab place on my cell phone and the same lady answered and said, when I reported my whereabouts, "Uh oh, you are pretty far away and it will take you quite a while to get here." I said what about Exit 4 and how it's so easy-peasy? She said, "I have no idea what you were told or who told you, but you are not anywhere near us now."

Do eat these.
Due to my own head situated on my own shoulders I eventually found the place, although by the time I arrived my former good mood was in the toilet. Making matters worse, the class was led by a perky girl who may have been somewhere in her twenties and who was surely not a cardiologist, and while she did seem to have a good heart she did not instill confidence. At all. She said that future classes would involve our riding an exercise bike while attached to a heart monitor. Lectures would tackle such subjects as how to eat "heart-healthy" and how to read food labels. (Shoot me, shoot me now.)

Everyone else in the class was at least 50 pounds overweight and the average age seemed to be about a million. The whole thing was even more depressing than having my heart attack in the first place. Oh, and FYI, it was Exit 2.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pass Me the Chopsticks, Prease

An actual Chinese man with slanted, slit eyes, wearing a pointed hat.

First Lady Melania Trump wanted to donate ten books by Dr. Seuss to a Massachusetts library. The librarian would not accept them on the grounds that the much-beloved children's author was a racist and his books contained racist images.

Stunned to read this, especially since I raised my son on Dr. Seuss and today Zack is the most color-blind, least racist, most all-inclusive, loving everyone, kumbaya kind of a guy you will ever meet, I did some research and learned that a mural in Massachusetts is being removed from the Seuss Museum in the author's hometown of Springfield because it shows a "jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man in a pointed hat with slanted, slit eyes, holding chopsticks." Imagine -- a Chinese person with slanted eyes! And using chopsticks!

Good thing Dr. Seuss is already dead or he might be attacked by a mob of angry, non-gun toting, bleeding heart liberals with no brains, the commonest kind.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Stranger Danger

My husband chides me for reading stories that are upsetting. He says, "Don't click!" regarding anything that might be at all tawdry, sickening or scary, concerned that it will remind me of my childhood. (Ha!) But today I chose to read one with the headline, "Freelance Journalist's Body Parts Found." I mean, I am a freelance journalist after all, and surely I should stay abreast of the possible perils of the job.

Turns out it was a very gruesome story and I'm sorry I read it. In my emotionally frail condition it got me weeping -- for the dead woman and for her parents and for society as a whole which spawns monsters who chop people up willy-nilly. After blowing my nose, I pondered if perhaps my freelance journalism days are over. Either that or I have to stop reading stories about strangers. Possibly I'm done with strangers altogether. I mean, how are they my business?

Currently the national obsession with the lives of strangers is in the forefront, with story after story about last week's victims of the Las Vegas tragedy. Their faces fill our TV screens and newspapers, with short bios describing each and every last one of them as "the best person you could ever hope to meet." The women were all beautiful with so much potential, and the men were all brave and died while shielding someone else. Each one always had a smile on his or her face, were loved by all their coworkers, brightened up any room they entered, were devoted to their families and would have given you the shirt off their back. By some crazy coincidence, those random strangers from all walks of life who assembled in Vegas to listen to country music were all  saints. What are the chances?

I don't own a gun. I've never even seen a gun, unless the ones you get playing Laser Tag count. I am washing my hands of the whole affair, staying away from the news and unless Jackson Browne comes back to Portland, definitely avoiding concert venues. As for now, I may clean the refrigerator.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Making Every Minute Count

I have long heard that a serious illness or a brush with death changes you forever. Supposedly you see the world differently afterwards. I assumed that meant you were now happy with the slightest thing -- awed by every sunset and blown away by the delicate scent of a rose or the exotic taste of a mango. Sadly, that has not been my experience in the days following my heart attack. I have indeed been changed, but for the worse. I am now more impatient than ever, having seen clear proof that any breath may be my last, I've got no time to waste. Hurry up, come on, let's get on with it. Since patience has never been my strong suit (in fact I never even got that suit), this is a bad development that I hope is temporary.

Today at the market I learned just how short my patience has become. It was revealed by a checkout person who must have A, never been trained to work a cash register or B, was trained but slept through it or C, is the niece of the store owner and that's how she got the job. Or D, is from another planet where they don't have oranges, since the problem arose over two oranges I wanted to buy that I ended up not buying because she didn't even know what they were and had to ask me (WTF?), and then she couldn't figure out how much they cost even after I told her the displayed price I had seen.

First I waited, rolling my eyes and sighing heavily as she stood there and literally scratched her head, like maybe an idea would fall out of it, making it clear to her that I thought she was clueless. Then I started looking at my watch. Finally I asked if I could have them for free. She said no. I asked if I could have them if I paid her five bucks for each one. She said no again. I hated her. I told her in no uncertain terms that I did not want my life to end inside this particular market and she could take her damn oranges and shove them up her considerable ass, just keep the fucking oranges and please let me out of here.

I wasn't proud. As I said, I hope it's temporary.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Finding Magic

Believe it or not, in my younger days I was considered to be quite amusing. Hysterical, in fact. My sense of humor was my number one trait, eventually leading me to writing a recurring humor column for a respectable metropolitan newspaper. I was required to make my readers laugh every week, and I always managed to do it. Looking back at that time, it seems miraculous that everyday life actually offered up so many funny situations.

Not anymore. These days I could write a daily misery column and never run out of topics. Recent chaotic events, like the mass murders in Las Vegas, are easy targets, no pun intended. Seems like everyone's got a gripe, and usually with good reason.

As for me personally, my recent heart attack and hospital stay were certainly no laugh fest, although I could definitely do a riff on my cranky roommate and her crass extended family, the whole lot of them holding a bedside vigil from morning til night. I snootily referred to them as the "Honey Boo-Boo People." With just a thin curtain separating our beds, I heard far more than I needed or wanted to from that ragtag bunch, including recipes for moonshine, details of everyone's bowel habits and a constant barrage of distasteful, moronic jokes. ("Why didn't the toilet paper cross the road? It was stuck in somebody's crack.")

So -- what's a writer to do?

Plumbing the depths of despair visible on all fronts, a bright nugget of goodness shines. Just about  two weeks ago my husband and I went off on a three-day holiday to Monhegan Island, that tiny  paradise located 12 nautical miles off Maine's coast. As we waited to board the ferry, a chill wind brought in with dense fog causing me to zip up my fleece vest and pull down my woolen cap, I noticed a fellow passenger who was dressed for a summer day in sandals, a thin sleeveless blouse and a pair of cotton capri pants. Impulsively I approached her and asked, "Aren't you cold?" In retrospect that was a stupid question since of course she wasn't, but it started a lively conversation that lasted for the next hour and a half, with both of us feeling as if we had known each other in a past life. Our husbands joined in and the four of us clicked like old friends, exchanging life stories as we made our way to Monhegan.

Over the course of that weekend Mitch and I saw Teresa and Jim a few more times, and by Sunday afternoon when we had to leave, it was painful to let them go. So we didn't. Now we look forward to visiting them next month in Charlottesville, Virginia. Despite the old saw that it's hard to make new friends once you're past 30, clearly we had done it, leading me to conclude that despite the craziness running rampant in the world today, magic still happens.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Stop It Doc, You're Killing Me!

They say that laughter is the best medicine. Tell that to my brand new cardiologist who has prescribed five different daily medications to keep me from having a repeat heart attack, and a couple more that are optional if I'm feeling bad. He said nothing about laughter. In fact, the whole time I was in the hospital, which was four days, there was nothing funny about it. That is, not unless you were looking for it.

One thing that cracked me up was the mountain of paperwork shoved in my face before any doctor would fix the clogged artery that caused the horrible nausea, overwhelming back pain, bizarre heaviness in my arms and strange feeling in my lungs that landed me in the ER in the first place. Most of it promised I would not sue anyone under any circumstances even if the whole thing turned out to be very, very bad.

My favorite one was proffered as I was being loaded into the ambulance that would take me from the lesser, ill-equipped hospital I had arrived at to another, half an hour away, that had all the right stuff. I was instructed to sign here, and then here, agreeing to the following:

~~ I understand that the ambulance could be involved in a high-speed automobile accident, causing me injuries or death.

~~ Riding in a speeding ambulance with sirens blaring could prove stressful enough to cause me to have another heart attack while in transit.

"Wait a minute -- am I on Candid Camera?" I asked. Judging by the vacant stares of the young people gathered around me, I understood that none of them had ever heard of Candid Camera, so I signed. Hey, why not?

Another laugh riot was when my doctor said, just before wheeling me in for the procedure to fix my heart, "You should know that this procedure does not insure you against having another heart attack at any time. In fact, having one already raises the probability of your having another." Ha, ha, ha --stop it Doc, you're killing me! I asked him if I could catch the rest of his act at any of the comedy clubs around town, but apparently his only gig is at Maine Medical Center.