Sunday, December 31, 2017

A One-Size-Fits-All New Year's Resolution

This being the last day of the year, I feel a need to comment on it. But really, what can be said? It's  just another Sunday, and tomorrow, God willing, will be just another Monday. Yet over the last week I have seen at least six articles in newspapers and on the Internet titled "How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions." I say I have seen them because I haven't actually read them, just skimmed over the pages through squinted eyes, trying to protect myself from ingesting the same advice over and over.

First of all, who are these writers and what do they know? Are they behavioral psychologists, or did they at least interview any? Most are ordinary staff writers armed with everyday knowledge of everyday things, so just move along to the crossword puzzle which will at least keep your brain sharp a few more months.

Whatever your resolution, keep this in mind: You could die at any moment. You could be fine one minute and feel slightly nauseous the next. Before you know it you're inside an ambulance speeding to an operating room where they will slice you open and look inside. And what they see in there will decide your future, if you have one.

So get it together today. In fact, forget making resolutions, just live the life you wish you could live, while you can. Don't eat glazed donuts and salty bagels and pancakes with gooey syrup and fatty bacon for breakfast; they'll just gum up your insides which are even more important than your outsides, and once your internal organs go, you go. And forget willpower. Stop smoking because you love yourself and nicotine poisons every cell in your body, the very one you hang around in and take to all your experiences. Without it you are literally nothing. Here's the only resolution anyone needs: Face the truth and act on it.



Saturday, December 30, 2017

Spam For Breakfast

A FEW OF MY OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS THIS YEAR


THIS MORNING WHEN I checked my email, I was surprised to read the following message:
      "Congratulations! You have been nominated to represent your professional community in the Professional Who's Who 2017 Edition. We are very pleased to inform you that your candidacy has been approved. The Publishing Committee has selected you as a candidate based on your standing among your professional community as well as specific criteria from the executive and professional council. 
     "Given your reputation, the Publishing Director feels your profile would make a welcome addition to our publication. On behalf of our Committee I would like to salute your achievements and welcome you to our association."

Since I am unemployed and rarely even speak to another soul, let alone an entire professional community, on most days, I'm wondering who nominated me, what specific criteria I met and which of my achievements they are saluting. Was it that day I took in Polly's trash bins from the street when she was away for the weekend? The invitations I printed and hand-delivered (no small feat when the houses are so far apart) for the July 4th Pond Party? The time I dug a grave and buried the little bird Lurch killed instead of throwing it in the trash?

More likely it was the sugar cookies I brought to the local post office for Christmas. They were outstanding if I do say so myself. (It's those few drops of orange juice I add at the end.)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Cold Enough For Ya?

I'm starting to think that most humans are empty-headed lummoxes. Well, not really lummoxes since the meaning of that word actually incorporates clumsiness. More just dumb oafs, although that's wrong too since it implies rudeness. I guess what I mean is just plain idiots. I have suspected this for some time now, starting with the appearance and continuing usage of the meaningless phrase, "At the end of the day," but now I'm pretty much sure of it.

What's convinced me is this latest spell of cold weather here in New England, and many other parts of the country. In Maine we are experiencing temperatures well below freezing, and have been for days and days with no end in sight. Almost every person I have met, without exception, has greeted me by saying, "Cold enough for ya?" They say it like it's clever. Like I haven't heard that before. Like they just thought of it. I mean come on, can't anyone come up with something more original?

What I want to say in response is, "Actually I am finding it too cold to be comfortable, so in a sense it is certainly cold enough for me." But I don't. Instead I smile and say things like, "Really!" and "Can you believe it?" and "Must be global warming!" After all, I'm only human.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fat Talk

"A Couple" by Fernando Botero, 1999

Exactly three months ago today I had a heart attack. Since then I have changed the way I eat and lost six pounds. Obviously my rate of weight loss--two pounds per month or half a pound a week-- is nothing to boast about, nevertheless I'm into those black corduroy pants that have mocked me for the last three years every time I open my closet door. The far greater dividend is how I feel, which is better than before. Admit it: Being overweight sucks.

Which makes you wonder why nearly 70% of American adults are either overweight or obese. I say it sucks for many reasons, but mostly because, according to the American Heart Association, "Obesity increases your risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more." (God only knows what "more" could be.)

Okay, relax: Not all fat people will die young, or even from being fat. In fact, there's an old Japanese proverb that says, “If you have the pleasant experience of eating something you have not tasted before, your life will be lengthened by 75 days.” What a great theory: Adventure eating leads to long life! (If we put that theory into practice in this country, the average U. S. citizen will live to be 125 and weigh approximately 1,700 pounds at death.)

While being fat is certainly not considered a positive, paintings of fat people are selling like hotcakes, which for some reason are always selling well. One artist in particular, Fernando Botero, has enjoyed a lengthy and successful international career painting (and sculpting and drawing) obese figures in all sorts of situations. Now 85 and fairly thin himself, the Colombian native has taken the #1 spot on People With Money’s list of the 10 highest-paid painters for 2017, with an estimated $75 million in earnings. 



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Calendar Just For You!


This is the closest I found when I Googled "worriers."
This time of year calendars are big business, with every drug store, supermarket, mall kiosk and museum shop shoving them in our faces. There’s an enormous array of choices to suit every personality type. I found insult calendars, Zen calendars, exercise calendars, joke-a-day calendars, golf calendars, art calendars, and everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-cats calendars. Mindfulness is huge this year, with calendars explaining how to be mindful every day, for the idiots among us who can’t figure that out themselves. There's a calendar for every special interest group except Women Who've Been Harassed by Harvey Weinstein, and that's likely coming soon.

There's seemingly something for everyone, but believe it or not, I couldn't find a Paranoid Hypochondriac's calendar which is what I was looking for. But of course they don’t have what I want, no, they just have what everyone else wants. Anyway, I think it would be perfect for today's paranoid lifestyles, what with random vans mowing into crowds on city streets and quiet loners nobody would suspect going on shooting rampages just because.

It’s certainly appropriate for many of my friends and family. Take, for example, my Aunt Pearl, who was what is commonly referred to as a "worrywart." (She worried most about her warts, which were numerous and unsightly.) Pearl refused to fly, certain it would lead to immediate death. Her reasoning, "I can understand if my number's up, but I shouldn't have to die when the pilot's number is up," was not without merit. Sadly, she died anyway without flying ever, just by continuing to breathe in and out daily until that didn’t work for her anymore. (She was in her eighties.)

For people like Aunt Pearl, I’ve been secretly working on my 2018 Calendar for Nervous Wrecks, surely an under served market. Besides a daily reminder in red ink to “Take your Valium” (or whatever you take), each month has its specific potential for disaster highlighted in bold type, (with an appropriate photo driving the point home), bringing it to one's attention in plenty of time to plan accordingly:

JANUARY: That pounding headache you think is a New Year's Eve hangover might be just that, but it also might be something far worse. The possibilities are endless, and none of them are pretty. Schedule an MRI just to be sure.

FEBRUARY: Could Valentine's Day be a plot hatched by the American Dental Association and the owners of all those dialysis centers? Don't be a pawn -- throw out all that chocolate your so-called “loved ones” gave you and brush your teeth, if you still have any. Also, schedule a doctor’s appointment to have your blood sugar checked.

MARCH: St. Paddy's Day always gets a little too festive, so steer clear of Irish pubs on the 17th. And forget drinking the green beer, God knows what’s in that stuff, certainly deadly chemicals could be involved. And of course everyone should beware the Ides of March, they are never good.

APRIL: With taxes due mid-month, lay in a supply of extra Lorazepam (or whatever you take). Be sure to mail your return in plenty of time, and don’t forget the stamp. Check that you have the right address. Don't get confused, like I did once, and mail the federal return to the state and the state to the federal. Plan wisely for Friday the 13th.

MAY: If she is still alive, send your mother a Mother's Day card, or even call or text her if you can find the time in your busy schedule of binge-watching “Orange Is the New Black” or whatever is hot these days. Also, lay in a three-day supply of food for Memorial Day weekend. It’s a perfect time for a terrorist attack or a fatal car accident on the clogged roads, so just stay home and barbecue, although that is not without its dangers. Maybe just order take-out.

JUNE: Summer begins on the 20th, so cover up. With skin cancer on the rise, who better than you should get it? Remember, while melanoma is not always an immediate death sentence, it’s still pretty damn bad.

JULY: Fireworks can kill, not to mention take out an eye, so sit way in the back if you must attend a display, although we advise against it. Avoid pasta salad at all outdoor events; God knows how long it’s been sitting out. In fact, stay away from mayonnaise altogether in summer. Just avoid all picnics; better safe than sorry. Plan wisely for Friday the 13th.

AUGUST: Live carefully this month, since all the good doctors are on vacation. Watch what you eat, get plenty of sleep, and avoid the ocean and all amusement parks.

SEPTEMBER: It's back-to-school time, so look sharp and keep an eye out for kids crossing the street while texting mindlessly, and of course traffic cops. One time my husband was doing 28 in a 15 mph school zone and he got a ticket for $610! (True story, but it was Vegas so what can you expect.)

OCTOBER: Book your hotel room well in advance for Halloween night to avoid being home when strangers come pounding on your door and you’re supposed to open it even though you have no idea who’s there. Sure, they look like kids, but they're in costume so what were you thinking?

NOVEMBER: Thanksgiving looms. Does the word "botulism" ring a bell? That stuffed turkey is an invitation to a stomach-pumping, not to mention bad karma in the next life. (Gobble, gobble, gobble, AAAACK!) Have a tofu burger and a nice dish of kale and bean sprouts instead. Remember: Holidays in the ER are even worse than on ordinary nights.

DECEMBER: Let's face it, the holidays are an accident waiting to happen: Piles of wrapping paper, Hanukkah candles, Christmas lights, a dry tree: do I really have to spell it out? And of course there’s New Year’s Eve, with the potential for death on the roads: It is a commonly known fact that there are more alcohol-related car accidents on New Year's Eve than most other nights. The number expected to be killed this New Year's is 156. Don’t be one of them. Just stay home, take your Xanax (or whatever you take) and go to bed early.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Film Review: DARKEST HOUR

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and his cigar.
The title of Darkest Hour is a misnomer; much more accurate would be Darkest Two Hours. This is because the film is very dark. Not only is the subject --Hitler's advance across Europe at the start of World War Two -- very dark, but what you see on the screen is emotionally as well as visually dark. And of course the theater you are watching it in is very dark, so all in all it's a damn dark two hours, give or take a few minutes. Now that you know and can prepare by having a cup of strong black coffee or a can of Red Bull just before going in, there are some other things you'd benefit from knowing as well.

Gary Oldman stars, with a capital S, as Winston Churchill, Britain's brand new Prime Minister; it's basically all Gary, all the time. I suppose he does a great job, but never having seen either Oldman or Churchill up close before, I can't say for sure. He garbles his words a lot, so if Churchill also did that, Oldman is spot on. He also, like Churchill, drinks and smokes incessantly and is sort of a fat, piggish boor, but apparently he is brilliant and saved England from falling under Hitler's rule, which certainly compensates for his other faults.

Just in case we have nodded off, which we certainly might have seeing as how everything is so dark and nothing happens except a lot of talking between stuffy men in suits, all of whom for reasons unknown to us also garble their words, the director (Joe Wright) has saved us the trouble of wondering how much we've missed by flashing the date on the screen in huge block letters every so often, sort of like this:
MAY 11 

It's advisable to try and stay awake since the film is very beautiful to look at, with gauzy views of rainy days in London and an especially lovely shot of seagoing vessels heading towards the beaches of Dunkirk with those famous white cliffs of Dover under a darkened sky in the background. Every so often there is a bit of slow motion footage of ordinary Londoners going about their day, not knowing that their world is about to be torn apart. Those are some lovely scenes, so keep an eye out for them. Also stay alert for British actress Kristin Scott Thomas who has almost no role as Churchill's devoted wife, Clementine. She is even more beautiful now than when she was younger, and her brief moments light up the screen.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Unmerry Jewish Christmas


Here in Maine we are having a white Christmas. In fact, the white part is the only part of Christmas we are having, and with high winds predicted to cause power outages later today we will likely have a very dark night, which around here starts at about 4:15 pm.

We have no tree decorated with glittering ornaments. There are no presents, unless you count the ones I bought myself this week. No festive big dinner is planned for relatives from far away all dressed in red plaid vests and Christmas sweaters with reindeer and red ribbons, everyone beaming to be reunited with one another like in those movies on the Hallmark Channel. (Hardly.) There are no special cakes or cookies or pies or turkeys or hams in the oven releasing yummy smells that waft through the house. You see, we are the Jews who did not die in the Holocaust.

Last night, Christmas Eve I guess you could call it, over lousy food in a nondescript Chinese restaurant, one of the few places open, my adult son told me he was depressed because "he grew up without holidays." Never mind the two big seders each year at Passover with special foods like that matzoh ball soup he loved, the lighting of the menorah and opening of gifts for eight consecutive nights each Hanukah, the turkey with all the trimmings and pumpkin and apple pies with whipped cream (fresh of course, never from an aerosol can or that white-trash Cool Whip), shared with friends and family every Thanksgiving, the weeks of making Halloween costumes and then carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and going trick or treating, the fun of decorating eggs at Easter, and the piles of Valentine's Day cards and stuffed animals and boxes of chocolate each February, all to create glowing memories for my one and only adorable child. Just forget all that! We didn't have a Christmas tree, so his memory of childhood is stained with the absence of holiday traditions.

Had I only known that then I could have saved myself a whole lot of trouble, not to mention money. Probably enough to pay for that lobotomy I could really use about now.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Blaming the Victim

Don't wear this at work!
It seems to me that the loosening sexual mores in our society are the result not only of all those soft-porn Victoria Secret TV commercials making men horny, but of formerly normal, nice girls become sluttier. There, I've said it. Sue me.

Plastic surgery to make boobs bigger, butts bouncier and lips puffier (the better to kiss?) just lay the groundwork. Add to that skin-baring dresses with peek-a-boo cleavage cutouts (just in case you forgot there were breasts in there) and slits up the side (almost all the way to that crotch men are constantly  grabbing), tons of makeup and false eyelashes, shiny dangling earrings and stiletto heels that are barely functional, and what do you get? Not a librarian; more like a pole dancer. So why do normal, average women present themselves this way? Are they just trying to look pretty?

This is much better!
What got me started down this cesspool was a front page article in today's New York Times about the goings-on at Vice Media, the $6 billion global media company currently under fire for its "boundary-pushing culture" that created a workplace that is "uncomfortable for women." The article begins with an anecdote wherein a man suddenly takes the hand of his co-worker and places it on his crotch. This happened on a Ferris wheel at Coney Island after a company event. In my day the woman (me for example) would have laughed in his face! On a Ferris wheel? Really? Obviously the poor guy was not hoping for an honest to goodness sexual conquest. Most likely he had a teeny weeny peenie that nobody had ever touched before and wanted to see how it felt.

I'm guessing that the men who push boundaries at work are the very ones who aren't getting any sex outside the office. Intimidated and confused by the women who strut around the office dressed like call girls, they're stunned at the cry of  "Wolf!" after acting on their implied offers. Perhaps these professional women should consider dressing like good girls at the office and save their slutty attire for clubbing on the weekends. And hold off on getting those fake boobs and butts; after all, what are they for if not attracting male attention?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I've Lost That Givin' Feeling

For most of my adult years, since I've had the luxury of extra cash, I've tried to be charitable. Besides donating to worthy causes like disease research, sick children, abused pets and the victims of various natural disasters, I regularly give away gently used clothing to Goodwill and canned goods to school fundraising drives. I even still buy Girl Scout cookies, despite them tasting like hockey pucks. But I'm getting this close to going cold turkey on all charities if they won't LMTFA (Leave Me The Fuck Alone).

The worst offender is the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, or as it appears every single day on my telephone's caller ID, MSKCC. A research center in New York City with an outstanding reputation, we send them a decent-sized check annually, and sometimes more often depending on how many of our friends came down with cancer that year. But does that appease them? Guess not, since they keep wanting more.

Picture it: The phone rings. It's MSKCC calling. I never answer. They never leave a message. This charade has been going on for a couple of years. But today, stuck at home with a raging ice storm obliterating the outside world, I lost my mind and picked up the phone and asked the guy what the heck he wants. After telling me the call was being recorded for quality control purposes, he apologized after hearing my rant about how they call every day, saying that today was the first time that he personally ("Call me Stuart!") had ever phoned my home. He then said he was calling on behalf of MSKCC to thank me for my generosity.

I said, "Oh really, so you aren't calling to ask for more money?" His voice rising an octave, Stuart replied, "Oh dear Lord, no!" Instead he wanted to "offer me the opportunity" to become a member of their Monthly Giving Club!

Me: "So if I join, Memorial Sloan Kettering will start sending me money every month?"
Stuart: "No, it's actually a convenient way for you to give a regular amount each month and have it taken directly out of your bank account, saving you the trouble of writing us a check."
Me: "So you are calling to ask for more money after all."
Stuart: "I suppose that's one way to look at it."
Me: "What's another way?"

Stuart was quiet. I told him to tell those people who might eventually be listening in the interest of quality control that the more often they bother me the less money I will give. That, and Merry Christmas. Then I hung up. That should fix their wagon.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Another Stab at The Christmas Letter

Hi All: 

Please forgive me. Being Jewish, what do I know from Christmas letters? But today we got one in the mail from some real Christians, and it put my meager attempt to shame. First of all, it was two-sided, with plenty of blurry pictures of the kids and grandkids, and obviously good design and layout were not a consideration. Next, it was chock full of details that nobody in their right mind could care about except the writer of the letter. So I'm trying again and hopefully will get it right this time.


Bruise on my arm!
I have been taking Plavix, a blood thinner, since my heart attack and so now every time I hit my hand or arm or leg or hip or any body part even lightly, I get a deep bruise that lasts for at least a week. Also, I have not had my hair cut professionally for three months and have been doing it myself, and I must say it looks bad.


Me with my new friend Teresa
New handbag!
This past year we traveled to spend time with many of our good friends. This included Tom and Linda Shiner (actually they came to Maine), Jim and Teresa Radford in Charlottesville (like you care), our favorite cousins Glen and Valerie Palmer on Long Island (right near the Hamptons where I bought a fabulous new handbag, don't ask what I paid for it) and of course John and Carrie Staples (who you never heard of before) in Maryland. In Florida we saw lots of old friends (Melva, John, Heidi, Judy) but I won't mention their names or tell you what we all did because it is so boring. We also saw Ira and Mike in Rhinebeck early in the year. I remember we went out to dinner but for the life of me I can't remember where we ate or what we ordered. (Sushi?)

Sure I had a heart attack, but I also had some other problems before then: I had a couple of annoying hangnails earlier in the year, and one time I stubbed my toe so bad I thought I broke it. Happily I did not. I also got a new eyeglass prescription.

Mitch bought a new car. Well, it's an old car, just new to him. It's not very old, but it's a BMW so it still looks great and nobody has to know he got it for a song. He also worked a lot in his garden over the summer and grew tomatoes, potatoes, kale, lettuce, beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, onions and squash. (No spinach this year since last year it didn't turn out so good.) I put away a lot of green peas in the freezer and add them to stews and soups.


I used candles during the blackout.
There was a big windstorm sometime, I can't remember when, but we lost power for three whole days and Mitch was out of town the entire time so I was alone in the dark with no TV or Internet and all the food spoiled in the fridge. Thank goodness for candles!


Zack and Theerasak
We have no grandchildren but I'm pretty sure my son went on lots of dates with lots of really pretty women. His friend Theerasak from high school (my favorite one in fact), visited for a few days and I got a picture of the two of them with the Bean Boot!

Well, that about sums it up. Best wishes to all my friends and family for a happy and healthy 2018!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Christmas Letter












Dear Friends and Loyal Readers:

All in all, 2017 turned out to be pretty average, not counting Donald Trump being president. As usual I unfriended several people on Facebook who simply had to go. And I achieved a new personal best on Words With Friends: 173 points for QUAINTER!

Mitch and I didn't go anywhere exotic like Bora Bora, just a week in Florida last March and a few long weekends here and there during the year. That was fine with me since I hate flying as much as food poisoning, but since Mitch is constantly itching to travel somewhere strange we might have to do that this year to dampen his severe wanderlust.

Last summer we had the exterior of our house painted purple! Depending on the weather it's pretty wild, and I can only hope that our deplorable next door neighbors (who still have not spoken to us in the three years since they moved in, or maybe it's four) find it offensive. Since you only live once and life is short, we finally got some new carpeting in our bedroom and a new furnace and hot water heater. Besides, the carpeting was stained from past cats vomiting on it and the furnace was on its last legs and about to blow.

Mitch and I watched all six seasons of VEEP on Netflix. Actually, it wasn't on Netflix, it was some other streaming service, but you get the point. The show started out really funny but ended up being a bummer, since it's about politics and how funny is that after all.

At the end of September something exciting happened to me -- I had a heart attack! (FYI, it's much more fun to say than to actually do. It always gets a reaction!) Anyway, the doctor put in some stents and I have to take a boatload of prescription medications every day for a year, but I'm fine now so I guess they're working. The worst part is that we were away from home at the time and in our haste to pack up and get to a hospital I left my favorite hair dryer where we were staying. (Well, not the worst part, but now every time I dry my hair, which is basically daily, I think about having a heart attack.)

Since this is supposed to be newsy, I should report that none of our pets died this year and our one remaining cat killed two birds and one mouse, so his hunting instincts are still sharp, although oddly enough, when there was a mouse in the house behind our fridge, all Lurch did was sit and stare at it. (The fridge, not the mouse.) We learned that one of our siblings is a meth head, another one had a screaming fight that resulted in the police being summoned, another one was hospitalized for a mysterious illness and yet another hasn't been seen in more than thirty years. So much for family! At least our wonderful son is thriving and is as beautiful and brilliant as ever, maybe more.

Wishing you all Happy Holidaze!






The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Years ago, back when I was in my twenties and very different from the person lurking inside me, I had a best friend named Mary with whom I did everything. Both single working girls, we lived across the street from one another and shared our pursuit of what I call the Three Ms: movies, music and men. We vacationed together often in Florida and New York, and I visited her family home in Michigan. We laughed a lot. We shared stories about our respective shrinks and supported one another during tough times, meaning our latest boyfriends and break-ups. We were a perfect match!

Things went swimmingly for us for more than a decade, until we each got married to very different men who did not share the love. This disparity eventually caused a fissure in our friendship that widened into a chasm, until one Sunday morning over bagels and lox, and with our young toddlers in tow, it exploded into a volcanic eruption inside a coffee shop in lower Manhattan. End of friendship.

Several years later I ran into my old friend who turned out to be living a few miles from me, just over the border from our Washington, D.C. home in the wealthy enclave of Chevy Chase, Maryland. She invited me over for lunch, which I gladly accepted, eager to possibly rekindle the friendship. But alas, it was not meant to be, mostly because I was appalled at the squandered wealth tucked into every nook and cranny of her enormous home.

It was painfully obvious time had changed both of us: while I had busied myself writing newspaper articles, painting and delivering meals to shut-ins on weekends, she had spent all her time shopping. As we toured her grand home, the last straw for me was the master bedroom. Mary was currently involved in having wall-to-wall carpeting hand-made with a border to match the curtains and bedspread in her boudoir, the very one she shared with her creepy husband she had never liked in the first place but who was independently wealthy due to a family inheritance.

Mary and I each had one child, quite close in age, who played together as kids. Today her daughter lives in Los Angeles and has made her career as a "home stager," decorating multi-million dollar properties for sale in Beverly Hills. My son lives in Maine, buys his clothes at the thrift shop and teaches classes on how to live off the land.

Funny how we were two peas in a pod all those years ago.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Watch Where You Walk


It's been said many times that life is a crap shoot; I think of it more as a walk through a minefield. Like yesterday, for example, when a high-speed commuter train from Seattle to Portland derailed on a bridge and dangled over the road below like a child's Christmas toy gone bad. I was not on board, but 77 other people were. Three of them died and today hundreds awoke in serious condition in area hospitals, yet I woke up in my cozy bed same as usual and was just fine. Lucky me, and how come?

I also was not at my desk in Manhattan's financial district when a jet plane crashed into it, killing me instantly, or worse, sparing me and making me choose between death by the encroaching fire or by falling 100 stories to the concrete street below, a fate met by many in 2001. Nor was I partying at a Las Vegas country music festival last October when a maniac shot random concertgoers, killing 58  and injuring hundreds more. Why them and not me?

The simple answer is that I didn't work at the World Trade Center and I'm no country music fan, but is there something deeper? Closer to home, in fact just a few miles from where I live, a painter of great talent, a woman just about my age, contracted a crippling disease a few years ago and has been unable to paint since then. Now confined to a wheelchair, word is she's doing poorly. Why her and not me? And why did a friend of mine down the street receive a diagnosis of breast cancer just a few days before I got a letter saying my recent mammogram was "normal?"

The only thing you can do is be careful out there. And if you make it home in one piece, be sure to pet the kitty, put the kettle on and praise the Lord.




Monday, December 18, 2017

The Winter of Our Discontent



Right now the outside temperature is eight degrees and my cat is pissed off because he's stuck indoors. This is a sorry state of affairs for both of us since the burden of responsibility falls on me to keep him amused. It's an almost impossible task. Lurch hates cat toys, rolling his eyes each time I bring another one home. Predictably, he inspects the offending article -- a catnip-stuffed mouse, a glittery ball with a bell inside, a clump of feathers on the end of a stick -- for about 30 seconds before walking away in disgust. The rest of the time he guilt-trips me by planting himself at the front door, sighing audibly or muttering under his breath (but I can hear him anyway), "This sucks," or even worse, "She sucks."

Pet ownership is the closest thing to slavery that is still legal. Besides subjecting them to long periods of solitary confinement, we deny them the joys of procreation, decide who their friends are, when and what they eat, how often and where they relieve themselves, and in the very worst cases, what clothes they wear. That last thing is beyond horrific and should truly be outlawed, although I confess to putting a sweater on our last dog, a miniature Schnauzer, whenever I walked him in frigid temperatures. (He was always mortified, despite my explaining it was for his own good.)

If only cats could read, winter could be a time of great learning for Lurch. Instead, the seemingly interminable months of boredom dampen his natural curiosity. I've tried leaving the TV on for him but he barely lifts an eyebrow, and who could blame him? The truth is I would do almost anything to make him happy, but I've drawn the line at stocking our house with birds and mice.



Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bigger Boobs and Butts

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker shows off her new friends. But hey, no touching!
Women in Hollywood, many of them actresses, models and TV news anchors, as well as ordinary folk who are not in the entertainment world, are freaking out over the fact that men (the pigs!) treat them as sex objects. But take a look at some of the following statistics for cosmetic plastic surgery procedures from 2015, and it's surely only gotten more popular since then.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2015 was "The Year of the Rear," with thousands of women rushing out to get their sagging bottoms up to speed. Buttock implants were the fastest growing type of cosmetic surgery, with a buttock procedure just about every 30 minutes of every day. These included Buttock Augmentations (14,705 procedures), Buttock Lifts (4,767 procedures) and Buttock Implants (2,540 procedures). Meanwhile, Breast Lifts were also popular in 2015, with 99,614 procedures done nationwide.

Let's face it, surgery is scary business. So why do women go under the knife, risking strokes, nerve damage and even death, for so many elective surgeries? Is it so they are more comfy sitting on those fannies filled with fake fat? Do their bigger breasts keep them warmer in frigid temperatures? What could the reasons be, since apparently none of them want to look sexier and all of them despise the unwanted glances and sexist comments from men? It's a real head-scratcher.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Mixed Bag

More and more, the average young person is consumed by capitalism, spending his (or her or their) precious time shopping at Amazon by day and hanging out in trendy beer parlors and tapas bars at night. I find these activities abhorrent. Yes, you heard me, abhorrent (from the Latin abhorrere, to shudder away in horror), especially those tapas bars where every interesting morsel arrives drowning in some sort of interesting oil, and thousands of interesting calories slide down your gullet but you're still hungry when you're finished.

To avoid becoming one of those old people who is out of touch with modern times I try to keep up, it's just that lately there is little of value to keep up with. Besides, it may be too late for me already. I started falling behind years ago when I eschewed a twitter account, or is it Twitter? Who knew then it would get to be so big, with even world leaders communicating on it? But still I resist; I have no intention of limiting myself to 140 characters unless I'm getting paid to do so. It's so dystopian! What a lock on creativity; can you imagine Virginia Woolf on twitter (Twitter)?

Then too, I still cannot wrap my mind around the whole "hashtag" thing. My son has valiantly tried to explain it to me many times, but just like football, I don't understand what the hell it does for anyone. Ditto Pinterest. You found something you like? Why not jot it down in a notebook, or tear a page out of a magazine? Why does everyone with access to the Internet need to learn about your personal taste in throw pillows or dog beds or, in fact, anything?

I guess it's just an unavoidable part of aging. To me the good old days really were better, and that's what all old people say. On the other hand, I have taken to blogging just like a millennial, or whatever the new ones are called now, so I suppose all is not lost. Even though I carry a Medicare card, life is good: I survived a heart attack and am now in better shape than before it! I love my wonderful son, who grows more interesting every day! And my husband, who might someday retire and actually spend time with me, I should live so long!

Still, I miss Michael Jackson, Gregory Hines, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, James Gandolfini, my dear friend Noreen Welle, my Uncle Melvin, my parents and grandparents, my shrink and every one of  my dead pets. And last night, while watching "It's A Wonderful Life" on TV, it hit me hard that nobody has ever replaced Jimmy Stewart and likely never will. (I wonder, can #Jimmy Stewart bring him back?)

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Magic of Hollywood

Keaton, Fonda and Bergen: Their combined age is 221.
I recently heard about "Book Club," a new movie scheduled for release in 2018. It tells the story of a group of lifelong friends in their sixties who read Fifty Shades of Grey for their monthly book club selection and it changes their lives forever.

The comedy stars Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Craig T. Nelson, Richard Dreyfuss and Wallace Shawn. Here's the funny part: Diane Keaton is 71, Jane Fonda is 79, Candice Bergen is 71, Craig T. Nelson is 73, Richard Dreyfuss is 70 and Wallace Shawn is 74, but somehow through the miracle of Hollywood they are all portraying people a decade younger! This I gotta see.

I am 71, and while nothing could get me to read Fifty Shades of Grey, I am considering moving to Hollywood.

Naked Husbands: The Untold Story

Like the apparently brainless woman who willingly had sex with Dustin Hoffman in his hotel room years ago but is now saying, when asked if the sex was consensual, "I don't know," I can't be silent any longer. My story is similar except the man in question isn't famous, although I did meet Hoffman when he was just starting out and he never did anything weirder than insisting, "Call me Dusty." (I hated it, but I complied.)

Thirty-one years ago I married, and since then have shared my bed with a man who sleeps totally nude right next to me! I find this offensive since I wear pajamas, and in winter, socks and gloves and maybe a neck scarf. (I have even been know to pull on a woolen cap on particularly frigid nights.) Still, Mitch is right next to me with nary a stitch on. This irks me because I know what it means: He is trying to get me to have sex with him. Oh sure, he pretends to be sleeping by snoring intermittently, but still, he is naked. And sometimes without even a blanket over him. What am I, an idiot?

Okay, sure, I have had sex with him, probably several thousands of times. But were all those times consensual? I can honestly say "I don't know!" And did he ever take advantage of me when I was in a weakened state? Well, since after one glass of wine I am no longer capable of good judgement I'd have to say yes, and certainly on every New Year's Eve after I've had some champagne, which everyone knows makes you drunker. (Scientists have declared since the 1920s that bubbles intoxicate you faster than a flat beverage does.)

Wait, there's more. Like this morning, Mitch was "reading the paper" in his bathrobe and it fell open and revealed that he had nothing on underneath. (Again with the nakedness!) He exposed himself to me while I, fully clothed, was eating my heart-healthy breakfast of whole wheat toast, a scrambled egg and a serving of blueberries. (Studies have shown that eating more than three servings of blueberries a week lowers the risk of heart attack in women by 32%.) Yet there he was, supposedly educating himself about net neutrality, and all the while I could distinctly see his entire penis!

When I pointed it out he quickly covered himself, coming up with some cockamamie story about going in the hot tub, which was ridiculous since it's zero degrees outside this morning. (To spite me he actually did go in the hot tub and of course did so completely naked, his favorite thing, whereas I always wear a bathing suit. After all, we do have neighbors.)

I have tolerated this behavior because Mitch has many fine qualities, and also he earns all the money in our family, which kind of makes me a victim of sexual exploitation. So, in the interest of helping other women who may be similarly trapped, I feel it only right to share my story. It's time for every wife to rise up and say in unison, "Put some clothes on, honey!"



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Media Won

The Top Dog at one of our local newspapers, The Northern Forecaster, has banned me from even submitting a letter to the editor, forget writing any articles for them. I'm pretty sure the fact that I moved here from D.C. where I worked for the Washington Post turned him off. (Also my habit of using big words he had to look up.) Anyway, instead of hiring talented people with original ideas he prints columns by Maine's indigenous peoples, the women describing family vacations or how messy their kitchen junk drawer always is, and the men rehashing the failings of POTUS or detailing their latest fishing trip. Since that paper is published weekly, those subjects get old pretty fast.

So I write my own column in this very spot and am free to say anything since I have no boss, don't get paid, and most importantly, have so few readers that the likelihood of my being arrested for hate speech is minimal. Still, I keep my darkest thoughts to myself. Usually. But today I am throwing caution to the wind and saying I'm sorry the Other Guy won in Alabama. His victory was clearly a result of mainstream media meddling with the facts, as usual seeking to make Trump look bad.

Here's what I think: Whatever Roy Moore did 40 years ago couldn't have been too bad since not one of his "victims" said anything about it at the time, or anytime in the following four decades. The winner and new Alabama senator will be voting on all sorts of things, and is on record as being in favor of partial-birth abortions. If you ask me, that's worse than Moore "making sexual advances to young girls," even if he was old enough to be their older brother.

When I was 16, a 26-year-old friend of my sister made a "sexual advance" towards me. He invited me to dinner, which I accepted. Another time we went dancing. He was a perfect gentleman both times and explained that he "enjoyed being with young people." I decided he was too old for me and that was that. At no time did I think he was a pervert.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Yin and Yang

A note tucked inside a Christmas card I received in today's mail disclosed the recent death of an old friend. Knowing Janet had been fighting an increasingly debilitating disease for the past several years, the news wasn't completely out of the blue, still it caught me off guard and plummeted me into sadness: Another of the good ones gone. Her newspaper obituary was enclosed; she was exactly my age!

Half an hour later, while I was still wallowing in despair over the death of my friend, I received a series of texts from another friend eager to share the exciting news of the birth of her fourth grandchild. How fabulous! A brand new life, let's all celebrate!!! Several pictures of the wrinkly-faced baby nestled in the arms of the glowing new mom followed. That perked me up a bit.

Today it's snowing where I live, so I'll have to miss my final cardiac rehab "graduation" class since there's no way I'm driving 24 miles in a whiteout. But I've got plenty of blueberries, and new research shows that women who eat more than three servings per week of blueberries lower their risk of a heart attack by 32%, so it all works out.

Up and down, always up and down; no wonder I have labile hypertension.* I'm just surprised that everyone doesn't.

 *Sudden and ongoing changes in blood pressure that fluctuate far more than usual.