Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Suicide or Cupcakes: You Choose

Illustration by Gordon Studer
If you ask me, suicide gets a bad rap. Sure it's sad when someone chooses to die, but at least it's their choice, and all we can do is respect the decision and hope it was carefully considered in advance. When it succeeds, it's what they wanted; when it fails, it offers an opportunity for change and betterment. Death, on the other hand, is a lowly scumbag assassin. It comes along whenever it damn well pleases, often at the most inopportune times, never consults with the intended target, and always shoots to kill. It is truly suicide's evil twin.

No, I'm not standing out on a ledge somewhere or holding a gun to my head. In fact, I am not feeling at all suicidal at the moment, despite all those times the thought crossed my mind. But thinking and doing are two different activities, which is why I can enter a bakery, sniff around for awhile, leer at the goods tucked safely behind glass and leave without buying anything. No harm done; in fact, I'm stronger for it. I've stared into the hearts of the mocha raspberry tortes, lusciously layered chocolate babka, fluffy meringue pies and, the most evil of all, those perky Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, each one murmuring, "Choose me, choose me!" (Only I can hear the murmuring.) Triumphant, I've sniffed and leered and laughed, then turned and walked away, shouting, "Take that, you pathetic, fattening losers!" (Only I can hear the shouting.)

It's the same with suicide. I've considered it from all angles in my darkest hours, but rejected it because dammit, I want to live! In fact, I want to live forever, if you must know. I am having these thoughts owing to my flagging health right now. My fluctuating blood pressure, a.k.a. labile hypertension, is quite scary, and there seems to be little I can do about this current episode but hold on and ride it out, hoping that it doesn't actually blow any pipes. Waking up in the middle of the night and seeing numbers almost twice as high as they should be is horrifying, yet my doctor's prescription to "relax, take a hot bath, listen to classical music, or meditate" is tough to fill when I'm busy planning where to keel over when the stroke comes.

It's odd that the fear of death is universal, yet just here in the United States about 105 people opt for it every day. Personally, given the choice, I choose choice. Given a different choice, I choose eternal life, but only if I can eat that stuff in the bakeries without any ill effects. Especially those Magnolia cupcakes, which, if all else fails, might be reason enough to go on living.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Walk, Don't Run, to the Nearest Exit

Somewhere along the line I must have swallowed a hand grenade in my sleep, because I don't remember doing so but it's in there all the same. Every so often something dislodges the pin and I'm ready to explode. I know this when I get a ringing in my ears followed by a mild headache. If it lasts long enough, I check my blood pressure and sometimes it's not good. Last night it was sky-high, over the moon not good: 201/160, and holding. (Normal is 120/80.) I'm not sure, but I may be dead as I write this, which brings to mind an interesting thought: Is there wi-fi in Heaven?

Having high blood pressure that shows up uninvited and for no apparent reason is a most annoying affliction. One never knows when it will appear, or if it will get lower or just keep getting higher until you have a stroke and either A, not wake up or B, wake up clueless. Imagine, a lifetime of memories wiped out in a flash; what a waste--except for that semester of  Shakespeare and my first marriage.

Naturally, this situation sucks. Sure, we all have problems, life is difficult, blah, blah. And I know-- it could be worse. But this is my misery and besides, it's my blog. So I live each day as if it's my last, but calmly-- wouldn't want to dislodge that pin on the hand grenade. This means no sky-diving or bungee jumping or snorkeling or anything at all weird or strange or too stressful. Like that old joke, the slightest shock could kill me, so please, I ask that you not leave any disturbing comments.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Travel Is So Broadening

Honestly, I went with the best intentions of getting a lot of exercise. Alas, two days before our trip to Florida I broke my toe, and instead of a daily power walk on the beach, my only cardio-burning activity was "hobbling," interspersed with "hobbling around," neither of which burns calories. I also did a lot of complaining, another activity that netted few results. Following a week of eating out three times a day and lying around on a lounge chair, punctuated by the briefest of forays into the ocean or hotel pool, apparently I soaked up more fat than sun since I came home minus a tan but with an extra four--okay, five--dreadful pounds. (Good thing we couldn't stay longer.)

Back in real life, it's time to pay the piper. This morning I overhauled my kitchen and tossed out everything that looked like it might taste good. My memories of stuffed grouper and spicy tuna rolls and whale fries and Bloody Marys and Key Lime pie and blackened scallops bathed in butter and some excellent gelato will have to do me for awhile. Fortunately my next trip will be to Haiti, where I hear the food is bad--and such small portions. My husband went to India many years ago and lost 30 pounds; I am hoping for similar results, but without the parasites.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Big Lesson from a Little Toe

Tonight marks the one-week anniversary of the breaking of my toe. I will not be celebrating. It's the little toe on my left foot. Also known as the pinky toe, it's not a big deal, one would imagine. Certainly not worthy of sympathy. Nobody would send flowers for such a thing, or a card, or even ask how you're doing. Which is why it has been such a shock to me that a broken pinky toe could wreak such havoc and all but ruin, or at least greatly dampen, my good time on a six-day Florida vacation. And believe me, my husband has also borne some of the brunt of this toe thing, since it's his vacation too and there has been much complaining within his earshot. I am guessing that by now he hates my broken toe, and might even have disdain for all the rest of them as well.

A simple stubbing of the toe happens to all of us at one time or another, and does not merit attention beyond an "Ouch!" or utterance of a few four-letter words. I knew right away this was much more, and I also knew that when the pain never subsided and the toe went from greenish to bluish to blackish, I was in trouble. But what could be done? Leaving on a jet plane just two days later, nothing. So I took my toe with me and here we have been all week, lying in the sun together, unable to run on the beach as planned, or even walk on the beach looking for seashells, without wincing that is, or hardly walk on the pavement when necessary or put on a shoe. (Thank God for sandals.) The question arises: How was I ever in a bad mood back when I didn't have a broken toe?

God bless all your toes, if you have them, and if they are not broken. In fact, anybody with fully operational body parts should be the happiest person in the world. That's what I have learned from this experience.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pretense in Washington: What Else is New?

Obama and Beyonce fake talking while Biden fakes having hair.
Would you care if I admitted that I am not really writing this blog post? If I said it just seems like I'm writing it because I have written so many in the past, and that really it was pre-written when I was in a better mood and today I just pushed a button and it's spewing out while I move my fingers above the keyboard so it looks like I'm writing it? But in the end--or rather, to be hip, at the end of the day--does it matter? You read it and it's the same sensation, sort of like lip-syncing a song.

About the brouhaha concerning Beyonce at the Inauguration just a few days ago: Apparently she wasn't really singing and the Marine Corps Band wasn't really playing either, they just went through the motions to mimic the playing of instruments. Actually I found it all quite fitting, since Obama isn't really the President, he just moves his arms and legs while Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid pull the strings, and says the words written for him by Jonathan Favreau. Seems like business as usual in the nation's capitol; not sure what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Extraordinary Ordinary Restaurant

Our great waitress might have been in the sun too long.
We had a great meal tonight at a place that puts this part of Florida on the foodie map. The Whale's Rib in Deerfield Beach served me one of the best restaurant meals I have ever eaten. I ordered their specialty, which is baked dolphin--the fish, not the mammal. It was perfectly cooked, yummy, and not at all pretentious.

There was not a speck of maple-honey-soy glaze anywhere on the plate, just a slice of lemon. There were no reductions, and I doubt there was balsamic anything in the kitchen. Nothing was drizzled or stacked. There were no under-cooked baby vegetables, just a healthy portion of perfectly steamed broccoli and a perfect baked potato, a crisp salad, and a glass of affordable Merlot. Mitch had the grouper and he raved. He gave me a taste, and then I raved. Dessert was key lime pie with a dollop of whipped cream and it was perfect too, leading to simultaneous raving as we shared it.

Our waitress was a hoot and her name was something like Sea Dog, not sure but it sounded like that. I even liked the other customers. Go there if you are ever nearby. You'll have a considerable wait for a table if you arrive after 6 pm, but it's worth it. The place has been there for like 20 years, so it's clearly not just me that likes it.

Dinner for two including three glasses of wine came to $67 before the tip. Hard to beat these days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Stupid Weather Channel

My husband and I are in Florida today, no thanks to The Weather Channel, which until last night I considered a reliable source but now I know is a total waste of time, after they swore there was a HUGE WINTER SNOWSTORM coming to New England, and it would be THE WORST EVER on Rte. 95 between Portland, Maine and Boston, with accumulations up to one foot of snow by 9 am. We were scheduled to fly out of Boston at 11:30 and so would be leaving our home by 8 in the morning, driving on 95 the whole way. In fact, the graphic they showed on TV was my Saab pulling out of our driveway and driving to Logan Airport, under dangerous ice and snow conditions the whole way. Naturally I freaked out--who in their right mind wouldn't? (Mitch, but that is another blog post.)

So, remaining glued to the TV, I called our Florida hotel and changed our room reservation for a day later. Then I called our pet sitter and told her we were not leaving in the morning. Then Mitch called the airport and tried to change our flights to and fro, but learned we would incur a change fee of $350 per ticket, EACH WAY, so he held off, just in case. But The Weather Channel was adamant: Winter Storm Jove--they name them now--was a-comin', and with a vengeance.

I wanted to cancel the whole trip, but Mitch said he "had a feeling it wouldn't happen." We both slept fitfully. I got up at three in the morning and looked outside; no snow. Then I got up at four; no snow. Finally I got up for good at six; no snow. I turned on the Weather Channel and they pointed out that Winter Storm Jove sure had brought some mighty cold temps. It's cold out there! Man oh man, is it cold. Oh, by the way, no snow. (Never mind.)

They did not apologize for messing with our heads and causing us to have a huge fight. I re-booked the hotel. I called the pet sitter. We scrambled out the door, all verklempt if you know what I mean, and drove to the airport in Boston this morning on 100% dry roads bathed in BLINDING SUNSHINE. We saw not one friggin' snowflake on the way. That's plain nutty, if you ask me. Plus the fact, I now think my husband is a witch. (And yes, male witches are still called witches.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Couch Made Me Fat!

A columnist in our local community newspaper has made it impossible for me to ever again write about my personal life. Her inane recounting of adorable things her children do, nutty things her spouse does, and her own silly observations of life's petty annoyances have seared--no, charred--the part of my brain that comes up with this stuff, drastically altering its landscape. Anything "cute" is now nauseating, and if there is anything I avoid, it's nausea. In fact, vomiting is my least favorite activity, as many people close to me know. (I had not vomited for 53 years, until I got the flu two years ago and broke that particular record.) So the question arises: what shall be the stuff of The Daily Droid?

One subject that never disappoints is obesity. Yesterday I read in the New York Times (so it has to be true) that obesity is caused by unregulated chemicals in our couches, rugs, shampoo and grocery receipts that triggered fatness when were just mere embryos. There's an accompanying photo of a fat mouse and a skinny mouse, and the fat one was given some of the bad chemicals in utero, and now look at it! (See photo.)

Once again we learn that people can't help it; fat is hereditary. There is no mention in the article of Chili's, TGIFriday's, Olive Garden, double-stuffed pizza, KitKat bars, Girl Scout cookies, Ben and/or Jerry, Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, Tostitos, sodas, lattes are key lime pie with whipped cream and that raspberry sauce they drizzle around the side. Or Whoppers, neither the burger kind nor the malted milk ball movie candy kind. No, not at all. Just this business about endocrine disruptors, which are classified as "obesogens," and it's obvious what those do. They're rampant in pesticides used on crops and in plastic bottles and canned food and jet fuel.

Apparently if our elected officials would get off their butts and pass the Safe Chemicals Act we could all look better in a bathing suit.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm Dull and Boring

There is only one Mick Jagger.
How does one get crazier thoughts, I wonder. Maybe I should eat more blue cheese, which allegedly gives you wild dreams when you have some before going to bed. (I have tested this out and it works. Google it.) The reason I ask is this: Britain's leading artist is a man named Damien Hirst. He is said to be the richest artist alive now. The theme of his work is Death. Back in the 1990s, New York public health officials banned his piece entitled Two Fucking and Two Watching, featuring a rotting cow and bull, because of fears of "vomiting among the visitors." He also has created art featuring real sharks and cows floating in huge tanks of water.

Okay, so I guess I am not an artist. I thought I was but since Damien is one, and the most successful one at that, I can't be. This is a depressing thought, and one that makes me want to either toss all my art supplies and turn that studio into a home office or start being really crazy on canvas. The thing is, even my wildest and craziest thoughts and impulses are pretty mundane, and certainly not shocking. I can't even imagine anything shocking. My brain doesn't go there. Even my fantasies are dull. I have never forgotten when, many years ago, my friend Bill (that's you WTC) asked me to describe one of my fantasies. I said I imagined having sex with Mick Jagger. He fairly screamed at me: "It's a fantasy! Why not imagine having sex with two Mick Jaggers?"

See what I mean?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

On Semantics

Sometimes parents and their grown children have trouble communicating, almost as if they are speaking different languages. It can be hard to not take offense when you're not up to speed on the current meanings of words. For example, when I was young, calling something "cool" had nothing to do with its temperature. In much the same way, a member of today's younger generation may call something "sick," but that does not imply illness. In fact, it's a good thing--a compliment, really. You actually want to be sick in today's lingo, just like one time you probably wanted to be cool.

Similarly, "stay the fuck out of my face" might sound like a negative to an untrained ear, almost all the way to insulting. But really it means, "You are the best mom ever and I love you a lot. I just need some space." Yes, the more I think about it--I'm sure that's what he meant.

Saturday Morning at the Y

When it comes to exercise, just give me a pair of sneakers and the great outdoors and leave me alone. I don't want to hear anything but the wind, the birds and the lawnmowers or snow blowers, depending. So going indoors to a crowded gym is something I do grudgingly when it's too cold or rainy to enjoy being outside. Today was such a day, and I found myself at the local Y, my peace of mind sacrificed for a pound of flesh--or so I hoped. The treadmills are located directly opposite a glass wall overlooking a woodsy nature scene. That would be nice, but since the indoor track separates the row of machines from the great beyond, my time was spent trying not to be distracted by the passing parade, an all but impossible task since it passed frequently on the quarter-mile track.

First came a dead ringer for Colonel Sanders, goatee and all. Clutching an antique Walkman, he walked soberly in time to what was surely military music, perhaps a Sousa march. Right behind him was a gaggle of teenage girls, two fat and two thin. Walking four abreast like they were the only people on the planet, the Giggling Gaggle seemed oblivious to the fact that they were not in a shopping mall but an exercise facility. One of them spent the whole time on her iPhone, texting and showing her friends pictures. Behind them and struggling to get past was a young boy with his mother, both of whom looked just like storks--the kind that deliver babies on all those signs. Stork Boy was trying to get mom to go faster, with little luck. Eventually the space between them widened until Stork Boy came up behind her, which seemed to piss her off.

These folks kept me completely entertained for about ten minutes, until a paunchy guy in a screaming orange t-shirt showed up. His huge pot belly seemed to be pulling him around the track, as if it were filled with propellant. He was good for comic relief. Another newcomer was Super Jock, wearing shorts and a hoodie and with a whistle dangling from around his neck, like he was in the friggin' Marine Corps Marathon. He ran rings around everyone else, whizzing by every few seconds like something in a Road Runner cartoon. Once he all but knocked down Colonel Sanders, who glared disapprovingly but regained his composure and kept on marching.

Eventually the Giggling Gaggle broke up into two groups when the thin ones started running, leaving the other two  chatting up a storm and apparently texting one another. Then a 50-ish woman with long blonde hair and torpedo breasts ran by, all business. Ex-Babe had the grim determination of Suzanne Somers to not get any older. She seemed to be in direct competition with Super Jock; in fact, he started to check her out as he passed by her, and I wondered if the two might meet up later and go for coffee.

Suddenly, after burning 192 calories, my time was up. But wait, I'm not ready! (That was almost as much fun as when I watched the O.J. Simpson white van drama unfold on TV from a Nautilus machine, back in the day.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Look Inside

Salvador Dali at one of his own art openings....
Last night I attended an art opening where several of my vital organs were on display. There were eight in all: a heart, two lungs, a liver, a kidney, a pancreas and of course, the large and small intestines. Fortunately my brain was still in my skull, although it must have been turned off when I agreed several months ago to show my art to total strangers, each of whom was balancing a glass of wine in one hand and some crackers and cheese and grapes in the other. Even worse, it's a group show, so the entrails of three other artist are hanging in the same room, allowing for comparisons. (It seemed like a couple of those other hearts were beating much faster than mine, and several of the intestines looked way healthier.)

All kidding aside, showing your art in a gallery takes guts, and as I've already mentioned, mine were in evidence last night. For some it might be an occasion for celebration, but I felt something akin to panic: Did I really paint that? I'm so much better now! I have progressed, I have grown! I do landscapes and abstracts, not flowers anymore! Okay, so once in awhile I do a vase with some pansies drooping out of it, but anyway, art is liquid---who knows what I will paint today?

My husband kept saying it all looked great and that my insides were the best ones there. So did my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. But really, do their opinions count for anything? No, that's what family is really good at: shielding you from the truth. One local art critic was there, a likeable chap to talk with, until he skewers you in print! It could be bad. He might hurt my feelings; in fact, he's done it before...

Oh well, at least I looked nice. Several people complimented my new haircut. And I did meet some very nice people and have interesting conversations. But my insides hanging on the wall were so distracting, it was hard to really have a good time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Everyday Melodrama

At the supermarket, there are dramas for the picking, all you have to do is keep your eyes and ears open. Like today, when I noticed a youngish woman walking around with a forlorn look, juggling two steaks, an onion and a jar of mustard. She seemed confused, and was going sort of backwards and in circles around the bananas and apples. I offered to help:

Me: Did you lose your cart?
Her: I guess so. And this is so weird, because this never happens to me.
Me: There's something you can't say anymore! (Laughing.)
Her: Well, it happened once before but I found it right away. (Wanders off.)

I went on my way and soon forgot about her because of the little old man in the pet food aisle. Apparently he couldn't reach the top shelf, and instead just stared at it, as if he could get something down from it that way, like Samantha on "Bewitched." He looked like he might cry.

Me: Can I help you reach something?
Him: Nope.
Me: Are you sure? Because you keep looking up there. (Confused, and pointing up.)
Him: Well then, two cans of Fancy Feast tuna will do me. Flaked. (Harrumphing.)

As I made my way to the checkout area about 15 minutes later, I crossed paths with the lady who had lost her cart. She still had the same exact items in her hands, and she still was walking backwards in circles.

Me: No luck?
Her: I guess someone took it. Boy, won't they be surprised when they get home.
Me: You might want to stop looking.
Her: Yes, I suppose I'll start a new cart. (Sighs.)

As I left the store, an ambulance sped into the parking lot and two EMTs jumped out and ran into the market. Thank God I missed that one.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dumb and Dumber

Lance Armstrong finally admitted to Mother Oprah that he took drugs and had blood transfusions in order to ride his bicycle faster. (Did he really have cancer?) With all the problems we have facing us in this country, not the smallest being that our government continues to mint new pennies at a cost of more than a penny each to make, Lance pales. I find the penny thing, admittedly trivial on its face, still troubling, and if you think about it for awhile I bet you will too. We owe a huge debt to China and likely have a huge VISA bill each month, and now we are spending money just to make money, and silly little pennies to boot-- a coin so disrespected that nobody even wants them and few will stoop over to pick one up off the ground anymore, unless they are superstitious. Yet we keep churning them out; that's just Dumb.

While Lance and his drugs and his shame and his lawsuits are things we are told to care about, I don't. I do care that my sister, who I thought was dead but turned out not to be, called me from a hospital yesterday where she had been taken via ambulance because of debilitating stomach pains. This was her ninth such episode in the last few months. Each time she gets there and each time they say they don't know what's wrong. They call it "enteritis," which basically means stomach pains with no known cause, possibly parasitic in origin. They do X-rays, CAT scans, blood tests. She's there a week, with no diagnosis, then they send her home until she's back again in a few weeks. So I get online and Google "enteritis" and find out that Crohn's Disease is a possible contributor, and in five minutes I have diagnosed her, thanks to Mayo and WebMD, with Crohn's. I tell her to relate this information to the doc, which she does. So she calls back today and says her doctor now feels strongly that she has Crohn's Disease and prescribes specific medication to treat it. After nine episodes in three months. That's even Dumber than the pennies. (Do they have a computer at that hospital?)

Call Me Sisyphus

"There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn." So said Albert Camus, the French philosopher who imagined a happy Sisyphus, that much-cited star of Greek mythology whose eternal punishment for a life full of evil deeds was to roll a huge boulder up a hill and have it roll back down, then do it again the next day. Forever. But King Sisyphus, knowing he was supposed to be bummed out by this meaningless task, instead approached it with a light heart, doing it the best he could each time and giving birth to the popular expression, Είναι ό, τι είναι.*

At least our rocks were already up there....
And so, as I watch the snow covering our backyard deck where my husband and I spent last Saturday laboriously chipping away at chunks of accumulated ice, rescuing porch furniture from kudzu-like snowdrifts, raking the roof and clearing the ice dam and threatening foot-long icicles from the gutters, and freeing the hot tub from the two feet of snow atop it--all of this for perhaps the third time this winter-- I shall not despair, but rather mock and jeer the Weather Gods as they dump upon us anew the white fluffy stuff. After all, it's winter. It's Maine. Είναι ό, τι είναι.

* It is what it is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Longest War

In case you thought things were better between men and women these days, following is an email I received today from a dear friend in his eighth decade. The subject line said "WOMEN."

How do you turn a fox into an elephant?
Marry it!

What is the difference between a battery and a woman?
A battery has a positive side.

Why is the space between a woman's breasts and her hips called a waist?
Because you could easily fit another pair of tits in there.

How do you make five pounds of fat look good?
Put a nipple on it.

Why do women fake orgasms?
Because they think men care.

What do you say to a woman with two black eyes?
Nothing, she's been told twice already.

If your wife keeps coming out of the kitchen to nag you, what have you done wrong?
Made her chain too long.

Why is a laundromat a really bad place to pick up a woman?
Because a woman who can't even afford a washing machine will probably never be able to support you.

Why do women have smaller feet than men?
It's one of those evolutionary things that allows them to stand closer to the kitchen sink.

Why do men pass gas more than women?
Because women can't shut up long enough to build up the required pressure.

If your dog is barking at the back door and your wife is yelling at the front door, who do you let in first?
The dog, of course. He'll shut up once you let him in.

Scientists have discovered a food that diminishes a woman's sex drive by 90%...
It's called Wedding Cake.

Why do men die before their wives?
Because they want to.

Now I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person, but I honestly never laughed at any of these. The one about the wedding cake made me smile, though. Anyway, my friend Bernie is a sweet person, and knowing his wife and seeing the two of them in action, it all makes sense. Still, he didn't write them, but was merely passing them along.

Today's the Day

That old Fleetwood Mac song hijacked by Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign advised us all to focus on the future. It was quite popular and propelled Clinton right into the White House. Surely everyone alive can hum the tune to "Don't Stop," but how many people have studied the lyrics? They are quite insane:

If you wake up and don't want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You'll see things in a different way.

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be here, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you've done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don't you look back,
Don't you look back.

So yesterday is indeed gone and tomorrow will soon be here, and guess what--it will be better than before! Before what? Before today? Before yesterday? We have no way of knowing since we can't look back, and even if we could, yesterday is gone. It's gone, but tomorrow will soon be here.

This is dumb because there is no mention at all of today, which is all we have. I'm going to the periodontist today, which will suck, and then later I'll force myself to go to my gut-wrenching water exercise class, led by a woman who should be a drill sergeant in the Marines and behaves as if she is training our little group of over-50 ladies to be Navy Seals, all of which explains why I woke up a little while ago and I'm not smiling. Which is odd, since it says right there it takes a little while after you open your eyes, but it's already been a little while and my eyes are clearly open or I could not be writing this.

The scariest part is where it says, "If your life was bad to you, just think what tomorrow will do." Oy. But anyway, since today might be the last day of my life--one never knows--I'll just wait until my eyes open a bit more and I can see things differently. More coffee might do the trick.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Whose Golden Globes?

Now those are some globes worth talking about.
The very first bit of news that assaulted me today was the "fact" that gay actress Jodie Foster "came out" last night at the Golden Globes awards ceremony during her acceptance speech for some award that was not related to a performance, like Nicest Person or Miss Congeniality, or possibly Prettiest Lesbian. Her "news" is a big deal on the Internet today. I have two things to say this about that: Yawn, and really? With millions of people listening, that's what you want to say about yourself, that you have sex with women?

Gays take their sexuality far too seriuously. While I have some very close friends who are thankfully exceptions to the rule, for too many gays, their sexuality is all they think about, talk about---blah, blah, bloody blah. I say, get married, do it with guys, whatever, but please don't tell me all about it. I for one am heterosexual. I have never had sex with a woman. Or a dog, or any other species for that matter, but I really don't need to talk about it. So Jodie, why at the age of 50--she looks better than ever--are you telling the world you like girls better than boys? Besides, after that whole "Hinckley shooting Reagan because of Jodie Foster" thing, it's completely understandable.

I'd like to make my own trivial true confession right here and now: I don't really know what the Golden Globes are, unless we are talking Dolly Parton. (See photo.) For a long while I thought it was a nickname for the Oscars, but turns out thy are not the Oscars, another awards show I don't watch but at least understand. (Okay, so I turn it on near the end to see who got Best Picture, but that's it.) As for those Globes: who gives them out, and are they actually made of gold? I know they are not the Emmys, which are related to TV shows, or the Tonys for Broadway, or the Kennedy Center Life Achievement Awards or the Country Music Awards or the MTV Awards or the Grammys or the American Music Awards or the People's Choice Awards. Jeez, those performing artists sure are a self-congratulatory bunch, and about such silliness. Where are all the Brain Surgeon Awards and the Cancer Research Awards and the Feeding Hungry Children Awards? I would watch those for sure.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

An Impossibly Bad Movie

Naomi early on, before she starts to die. (She lives.)
Earlier this week I went to see The Impossible with a friend and she fainted after the first 20 minutes, forcing me to leave the theater and only imagine what happened after the initial tsunami swept away everything in its path. Intrigued, I returned last night with my husband, whose own curiosity was more than piqued by the aforementioned fainting spell. (Mitch is an incurable rubbernecker when passing car accidents on the road. In fact, if you're stuck in traffic because of one, he's likely at all but a full stop at the head of the line.) Besides, I read no less than six reviews written by reputable film critics, and not one of them even hinted at anything nauseating, disturbing, gross, horrid, despicable, haunting, life-changing, gratuitously gory or downright stupid, so naturally I was surprised when it turned out to be full of all that. In fact, the opening sequence depicting the complete destruction of the scale model of a luxurious Thai beach resort and the leading lady's leg was the most upbeat part of the whole movie.

I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that Naomi Watts never looked worse, and did a heck of a job playing someone at Death's Door for two-thirds of the movie. It was truly a roller-coaster ride, taking the audience through the gamut of emotions from slightly nauseous to projectile vomiting. In fact, a young girl actually did throw up towards the end, and she was in our theater, not on the screen. Thanks to the incredibly loud and sappy sound track, we hardly noticed.

In fairness to the throngs of people who worked on the movie, I must say that I woke up happier today for having seen it. After all, I'm not watching it now and have no plans to see it again, and that's a really good thing. Oh, by the way--Mitch loved it. (You think you know someone...)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Floating Opera

We are about to get new neighbors, and since I have lived here for almost four years and have picked up plenty of tips from the locals, I am planning to do exactly nothing to welcome them. This is quite a load off, since back in the day I would have baked a cake or some cookies--I hear they have a toddler--and gone over there with a list of phone numbers of plumbers and carpenters and the snow plow guy and where to get the best organic spinach, etc., and a neighborhood roster and an offer to help with anything they need, and perhaps a casserole. But now I can just put my feet up and relax, and maybe wave if I ever see one of them.

This sounds mean, I know. More to the point, I remember, since that's how we were greeted, except for one woman who lives alone and stuck a card in our door saying, "Hi neighbor!" She was nice, and we even went out for lunch together. (Come to think of it, I haven't seen her around in at least two years now, and in fact I wonder if she is still alive since her windows are always dark. Oh well.) But you know the old saying: When in Rome.....

The real reason for my curmudgeonly stance is that I am sick to death over the fact that my one and only true friend in this entire state--not counting sisters-in-law--who not only is also a painter and has two adorable Maine Coon cats and the same taste in movies as me and also once lived in Utah, and I love her husband and he likes me too, which is rare, is moving away. Alas, life is a river; maybe she'll float by again sometime. Meanwhile, as for those people who bought her house and are just rounding the bend--they'll have to use their own paddles.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thinking Is Not Doing

"Where are my clothes?"
What would you do if tomorrow morning you woke up and found out that California and Florida had each broken off from the mainland overnight and were adrift? I am talking immediately--what would you do right then? I know I would make a pot of coffee. But then what? Talk about it? Watch the news and find out what other people think about it? What could you actually do?

What would you do if your dog or cat started talking? Who would you tell or call? Would you be happy or frightened? Would you see it as a money-making opportunity? 

 What would you do if you won a secret lottery and nobody knew you suddenly have $500 million to spare? Tell or not tell?

What would you do if you went bowling with friends for the first time in 25 years on a lark and bowled a 300 game? Would you start going bowling regularly?

What would you do if you were Ben Affleck and your movie, ARGO, was nominated for Best Picture but you were not nominated for Best Director?

A Jewish Primer

Jews take eating seriously, but this looks like fun!
I'm reading a really good book right now, sent to me by a dear friend who lives in Sarasota. It's called "The Real Florida Jewish Directory." I guess Margaret, who is not Jewish herself but appreciates a good Jew when she sees one, thought I could use it since I'm going to Florida at the end of this month. It's got everything: Humor, tragedy, mystery, literature, not to mention a listing of every rabbi, cantor, wedding photographer and bagel shop in the state. Following are some excerpts that will surely whet your appetite for more.

Fine Dining
Strange and exotic foods are part of any ethnicity. A good example is the delicacy pictured above. Find out just what it is at Maison Blanche in Longboat Key. You can eat it right there on the spot or get it catered for your next big affair. (To Jews, "affair" means "wedding or bar mitzvah," not an amorous illicit encounter, although one may still have an amorous illicit encounter at a wedding or bar mitzvah, God knows. Sometimes it's the only way to get through.)

The following statement appears at the bottom of one page in a large, fancy font and is suitable for framing: 
"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting."
What could it mean?

How appropriate: Shopping until the very end.
Ever wonder what to do with yourself while you're waiting for your loved one to die already? Sitting by the bedside can get boring, but now at the Hospice By the Sea Thrift Shop, you can pass the time shopping. And such bargains!

This lovely unsigned poem entitled "Follow Your Dream" may haunt you for years to come:

Take one step at a time
Don't settle for less
Just continue to climb
Follow your dream
If you stumble, don't stop
And lose sight of your goal
Press to the top
For only on top
Can we see the whole view

When you simply can't wait for that inheritance....
Can we see what we've done
And what we can do
We can then have the vision
And seek something new

Tragedy and/or Comedy
In the photo at right, a typical Jewish family is about to dispose of Granny in one of Florida's many gator-filled canals. (We actually tried this with my own grandmother but she fought us tooth and nail, so we had to wait until she died of natural causes.)

And So Much More.....
*In the Funeral Section, learn why Jews bury and don't cremate!
*In the Medical Section, find people who can effectively manage your disease or symptoms, or locate the best plastic surgeon for your child's nose job in time for his or her Bar/Bat Mitzvah!
*In the Kosher Corner, pick and choose from an array of pizzerias, sushi bars, bake shops, butchers, ice cream parlors, and even a kosher Dunkin' Donuts!
*In the Wedding Section, you'll find a convenient list of florists, tent rentals, dress shops and divorce lawyers!
*There's even a Holocaust Page, just so we "never forget." They've thought of everything!

(Also available online at:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oy, You Should Live So Long

America loves a good fried chicken....
Just in case you've been thinking, "Hey, life in these United States is not all it's cracked up to be," rest assured--you're right. Turns out we are low man/woman on the totem pole when it comes to life expectancy as compared to 16 other countries. All I have to say on the subject is, "Oy, vay is mere and gutten himmel." Loosely translated from yiddish, that means "Jesus Christ are we in trouble!" Not only have we slipped to second place as the fattest nation, which was at least something, we now have to face the fact that people are living longer in places other than here. This is all over the news today, but just in case you were in a coma earlier--and you might very well have been if you live in America-- our collective health is worse than that of every other country you can name except for the ones you see in those heart-wrenching UNICEF ads.

I for one am shocked and dismayed, since I thought at the very least that tolerating our stupid sitcoms and rampant advertising and horrible politics assured us of good health and a long life if only we stayed away from the Haagen-Dazs and fried chicken. But no, apparently not. "The U.S. health disadvantage is pervasive--it effects all age groups up to 75, and is observed for multiple diseases, biological and behavioral risk factors, and injuries," according to this report that's circulating from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.

Now I really want to move to another country, and quick. Certainly before the next election cycle pitting Jeb Bush vs. Hilary Clinton, they should both live so long.

The Wizard Oz

Given enough time and enough interest to find it, the truth surfaces. For this reason, I have always doubted that there is a being named God who lives in a place called Heaven; ditto the Devil and Hell. Seems to me if there were, someone would have bumped into both of them by now and, considering how quickly things go viral these days, we'd all know soon enough. There would be no need for hundreds of conflicting religions out there telling you to do this or do that in order to find The Truth. There would be just one path, kind of like going to Mt. Everest. You know, first you go to Nepal and then you head up. You don't start from San Diego or Newark and go south; that will not get you there. And it would certainly be on the news, and Barbara Walters would have both of them on her list of the 10 Most Fascinating People, and TIME would name one or the other Person of the Year, and that sniveling Brit Piers Morgan would desperately try to interview either one. (God, being God, would refuse, and laughingly suggest, "Aren't there some royals you could interview?" The Devil would agree to go on but then not show up, choosing instead to get the afternoon housewife crowd with Dr. Oz.)

Similarly, if any diet really worked and made you lose lots of weight without trying, we'd all know. Everyone would do it--even Jennifer Hudson-- and there would be no more fat people. So it was with the usual skepticism that I read an ad for the lastest incredible product that promises to melt away fat, and all you have to do is swallow it. It's the Green Coffee Bean Diet. Green coffee beans contain some special "thing" that causes your body to do some other special thing and before you can say "Dr. Oz is a sellout," you've lost half your body weight. You can start today! In fact, if you order it before I finish writing this post, you can get two for the price of one, just pay separate shipping and handling. Or else find it in your local health food store, on the shelf with all the other foolproof weight loss products. Or you could just try diet and exercise and lose weight for free! As for finding God: Be nice. Give to charity. Don't hurt anyone.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

FILM REVIEW: The Impossible

If this looks like fun to you, go see "The Impossible."
To say the absolute very least, the opening sequence of "The Impossible" is intense. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be swept up in the crushing first moments of a tsunami when it hits full force--and let's face it, who doesn't -- just find this movie playing in a theater -- that's hard enough here in Maine -- and then sit in the front row.

Do not do this if you have a heart condition, or any condition, really. I went with a friend who has a low blood-sugar condition I can't pronounce that sounds like "bagel vagel." As things got worse and worse onscreen, my friend whispered that she needed some air and hurried out, stumbled and lost consciousness, falling backwards and hitting the back of her head on the floor. An ambulance was called; ice was applied, I was summoned from the audience and-- yada, yada, yada--I never saw the rest of the movie. But what I saw was damn good, and certainly the only life-threatening part.

It was Christmas in Thailand, 2004. You remember: that tsunami. Naomi Watts stars as the vacationing mom who gets ripped to shreds by all sorts of crashing debris in the roiling waters that just moments before were a picturesque backdrop to the upscale beach resort she was visiting with her hubby and three kids. One minute she was reading a book in her shorts and sunhat, the next she was fighting for survival among the cars and vans and palm trees and tables and mattresses and chairs and appliances and electric power poles floating by, just like we saw on the news. Then one of her kids floated by, and you will be happy to hear they finally floated together. (Since this was based on a true story, I am free to say that everybody lived, except the 230,000 other people who died, but we are not here to talk about them.)

What I wonder is how Naomi is doing after making that movie; surely she had to be hospitalized. I certainly hope they did it in one take.

Truly the Greatest

Oy--such a doll!
I write daily because I have to. I never get published because I can't stand doing the things you have to do to get published. But I can post anything I want here, and in my bathrobe. This is an old story that many of my friends have heard and/or read before, so it's here for my new friends and all those strangers who never leave comments. 

It was a blistering July, and I was not happy to be spending any part of it wandering the streets of Miami Beach. Still sad over my grandfather’s death only two weeks before, I had been tagged to accompany my mother and grandmother on a quest for suitable lodgings for the new widow. While it seemed too soon for her to make such a move, just hours after her husband’s funeral Grandma had begun lobbying for her plight, lamenting, “He should rest in peace, he’s dead already, but what about me, I’m all alone now!” Clamoring to get out of that "hell-hole” formerly known as her home for the past 30 years, Grandma ached to spend what time she had left playing canasta on the beach with her friends who had already moved there. Making matters worse, we had to take the train from New York to Miami because Grandma wouldn't fly. Twenty-four hours of her complaining about the broken air-conditioning and the bad food and how she couldn't sleep a wink on the Amtrak Special, with my mother huddled in a corner quietly sobbing into a wad of tissues, primed me for what was coming.

Once there, I was put in charge of it all. With me at the wheel and my mother riding shotgun, Grandma chased her dream in a rented Buick. At first, going through the classifieds, each apartment  sounded perfect. But then we’d get there and Grandma would claim it was too close to the beach, or too far from the beach, or too hot, or too small or too noisy or too quiet. By late afternoon we’d return to the hotel, have an early dinner, and then go to a movie or watch TV. At night, kept awake by my mother’s sobbing, I’d carefully plot my grandmother’s untimely demise. The next morning, after perusing the classifieds at breakfast, off we’d go to view that day’s probable rejects, a dogeared city map serving as our only guide.

Finally, after a week of searching--glory, hallelujah--we found it! A one-bedroom unit with a dining alcove, not too expensive, it was close to her friends, on a low floor, with a nice breeze and an ocean view. Grandma took one look and said, "What's not to love?" We signed the lease and planned a celebratory farewell dinner that night at Wolfies’—after all, who wouldn't celebrate such a thing with corned beef on rye and a lovely stroll down Collins Avenue? My mother was finally happy, mentally counting the moments until she could literally kiss off her mother for good.

Arriving back at our hotel, the venerable Fontainebleau, we were just crossing the lobby when Grandma stopped walking and said, “What do I know from Florida? It’s so hot here. And the beach--feh! What, I'm going surfing all of a sudden? I’m a New Yorker. Maybe I’ll go back home with you.”

Right there, my mother lost it. It was not surprising--she and her father had been very close, and there had been little time to register his death before embarking on this trip. Her emotions exploded out of her, and she screamed, “I hate you, I’ve always hated you! You should have died instead!” My grandmother, kicking it up a notch, clutched her bosom as if she were having a heart attack, wailing, “Oy vay, I should only drop dead this minute, how a daughter can say such things to a mother!” Everyone within earshot stood stock still. Being only 22, I had no idea what to do. I prayed for salvation.

Suddenly a handsome young black man in a white suit approached us. He was smiling and saying, “Ladies, ladies, calm down. What’s the problem?” As he got nearer, we recognized him as Cassius Clay—even though by then he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali—still in his prime. Reaching us, he put his arm around my grandmother and said, “Now, what’s all the fuss about?” Grandma, a world-class bigot—to her, if you weren’t Jewish, or at least white, you were nothing--looked up at him, stroked his cheek, and said, “Oy, you’re such a doll! You know, I hate all schvartzes, but you I love.” He seemed to find this comment acceptable, and the two trotted off together in the direction of the lobby bar.

The hotel physician gave my mother a strong sedative; she slept until the next afternoon. The next morning, I drove Grandma—still in fine spirits from her “date” with Ali the night before--to the airport for her flight to Baltimore, where my uncle would be waiting. (I figured, it’s his mother, let him worry about her.) Ever since, I've considered Ali to be The Greatest.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fifty Shades of Small Town Vampire Sex

I am thinking of writing a best seller. Not a book, but a best seller. There is a difference. So this morning I studied the Best Seller list in last Sunday's New York Times Book Review. I may have a plot.

It will be a novel about a woman living in San Francisco who goes back to her small hometown in New England after her husband of many years---not sure yet, will have to work that one out--is killed in a car crash on a curvy mountain road after he had gone out to get some ice-cream to satisfy her cravings, since she was pregnant. Okay, so they were a youngish couple if she was pregnant, so maybe they got married at 21 and now she's 36. Okay. Yes. So she's 36 and pregnant and has her baby all alone and then goes back to her small hometown where her parents live, and her father has Alzheimer's, that is definite. Maybe it's her mother, we'll see. And the husband might not die right away but linger for about ten pages in a coma, which will be very sad and tear-jerky.

So then Amelia, or maybe it's Amelai--more interesting, and sort of French--moves in with her parents and runs into her old high-school boyfriend who now is the doctor taking care of her father--or mother. Of course he is also single, his wife having died a year ago after a mysterious and sudden illness. His name is either Robert or John, possibly Robert John, which would be interesting and quirky. He is very handsome, and might be either African-American or paraplegic, possibly both.

After a few pages of flirting, they have wild sex for most of the book. Amelia or Amelai's mother (or father) dies. The baby gets older and fatter. At one point the couple breaks up when she suspects that he actually may have killed his wife. She hires a private detective. (This piece of the plot is quite exciting. I won't divulge the ending, but I will remind you that they have wild sex for most of the book and someone has Alzheimer's and it's set in a small New England town where people are shocked at their behavior. The child, a girl named Henrietta, has grown obese and is bullied and has special powers, and may possibly be a vampire, but more on her in the sequel.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mosquito Math

In a few weeks my husband and I will travel to Florida. To get ready, we have to do nothing. Then in two months, at the end of March, I will go to Haiti with a friend. To prepare for that trip, I have to get shots for a banana-boatload of diseases I might catch if I'm unlucky. I also have to start taking malaria pills, and bring plenty of DEET insect repellent. Those damn mosquitoes--they're causing all the ruckus!

Here's what's odd: The distance from Maine to Florida is 1700 miles. The distance from Florida to Cuba is 90 miles. From Cuba to Haiti-- also 90 miles. Some mosquitoes can fly 100 miles. So how come they never go to Florida for some of that unprotected, DEET-free meat? Those are some dumb skeeters.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bite My Neck

It's sort of like I just woke up from a long sleep and found out that vampires are big. I am somewhat confused about this since I am pretty sure vampires are not real, and besides they are quite scary, so thank God. But teenagers seem to love them, and thus they are extremely popular in mainstream books and movies.

Coming late to that particular party, last night Mitch and I rented something called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Recommended by our friends Dave and Amelia, both 25-ish, who keep us informed on the latest trends, the film is highly educational. I learned so much. For example, while I always knew that vampires bite people on the neck and suck their blood, which then turns the victim into a vampire too, I never knew that they cannot kill one another because they are already dead. Apparently you have to be un-bitten and still alive, and cut their heads clear off in order to get rid of them forever and make them stay dead. That is absolutely the only thing that works. (Abe does a ton of that in this movie since, as luck would have it, the entire Confederate army is comprised of vampires. Naturally, all slave owners are vampires, which explains everything. Things get quite bloody except it's all shot in sepia tone so it's not too nauseating.) Lastly, vampires can become invisible whenever they please, making the aforementioned head-severing quite tricky, and they are horribly allergic to silverware.

The star of the movie is an unknown actor I've never heard of, but it turns out he is married to Meryl Streep's daughter, reinforcing my conviction that's it's all about connections out there in Hollywood. Anyway, I am considering turning my one and only screenplay into a vampire story. (Diana, are you reading this?) It's about a young woman who falls in love with her shrink, not knowing he is a vampire. Her ex-husband, two best friends and mother and father, all who play important roles in her life, are also vampires. I am changing the title from Shrink Rapt to Everyone I Know is a Vampire. I think it will sell. Now I just have to figure out how to meet Meryl Streep.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Weekend Problems of the Middle Class

Give it up for the young DeNiro!
My husband and I wanted to see a movie today, it being quite cold and snowy outside--this is Maine in winter after all--but everything showing around here seems dumb. Love stories suck, let's face it. And The Hobbit--what is that? I never got started on that whole thing and it's too late to start now. Something called Jack Reacher stars Tom Cruise as a hired gun trying to catch a sniper, which is so done already and besides, random violence is so 2012. Les Miserables--oh please. I saw the play and I can tell you that the title refers to the audience. Another option is something boring with a title I forget it was so boring, starring Matt Damon who is always boring and in fact that's likely his appeal as Everyman. And then there's one with a complicated title about a schizophrenic young man who goes home to live with his parents and is on medication and meets a girl and is ultimately saved by love, which may be just a tad too close to home for me as the mother of a young adult, even though my son is not crazy and his last girlfriend was no savior, believe you me, and in fact walked off with one of my favorite Coach bags; who knew they were on the verge of a breakup? (Anyway, that's sort of a chick flick and I may see it with my friend Nan, if she ever has time for me.) But still, it has Robert DeNiro as the father, and little is better than watching DeNiro playing a father, except maybe watching him as a young godfather.

Maybe we should just stay home and watch The Godafther, which also has James Caan at his most handsome moment, before they shoot him up at the tollbooth of course. And Pacino before he got desperate and weird. And Brando when he was alive. They were all so young and full of promise. That's sort of depressing, but I could make better popcorn than what they sell in the theater, and besides they charge $7.50 for a bag which I have to share with Mitch. It's so annoying passing it back and forth. I wish we could get two smalls, but that's like $5.50 each coming to $11 for popcorn. I am not doing that. I wish Zero Dark Thirty would open already.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Putting the Rage in Outrageous

I am not a violent person. I have high blood pressure; the slightest shock could kill me. Nevertheless, I get angry. But since I don't own a gun, don't know kung fu, and besides, lack upper body strength, I do nothing but stew in my own juices when I am angry. Still, I understand rage. Most of it stems from the barrage of lies we encounter daily, such as:
I'll call you tomorrow.
The package will arrive Monday.
The package will be re-delivered on Tuesday between two and five.
The check never came.
The check was sent a week ago.
We never got the bill.
Our driver is on the way.
The power will be restored by noon.
This is perfectly normal.
You have cancer.
It wasn't cancer.
It's not cancerous but it could be.
It looks like it could be serious.
It's nothing.
Come in tomorrow at eleven.
Our offices are closed.
Our computers are down.
Your entrees will be right out.
The kitchen is backed up.
I love your work.
It's too expensive.
I have no wall space.
I'm on my way.
I'm leaving in five minutes.
I'm sorry but my car broke down.
I had a flat.
My battery died.
My dog died.
My baby-sitter never showed.
My mother is sick.
My father had a heart attack.
My grandmother is in a coma.
Your call will be answered in turn.
Your wait time is approximately five minutes.
Leave a message and someone will call you back.

Stream of Unconsciousness

Our local newspaper has just hired a new columnist. They were considering using me for a while, but I think I use the F-word too much for their tastes, not to mention the D-word and the S-word and, in fact, any word the average person might say upon banging their thumb with a hammer. (Except my mother, who never cursed, saying "Shoot!" or "Sugar!" when she got angry or upset; they would have hired her in a heartbeat.) Anyway, that new columnist started things off with her take on the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, saying things like "it was a tragedy beyond compare" and how "words can't describe my grief." She ended by saying that all was right with the world as long as she could hug her children every night and she and her husband were safe, and God bless America.

Kill me if I ever write stuff like that. My daily challenge in this venue is to come up with material that nobody else thinks, or at least says out loud. I fail miserably all too often, but surely there are thoughts in my brain that are not in other brains, or else I wouldn't have so much trouble finding people I can relate to. (Actually, that should be "to whom I can relate," but who talks like that?) Most of the things I think are unprintable, at least as long as my son is out there and could possibly read this, which he does not do often but in case he ever does. Thus all talk of sex, drugs, suicide as a perfectly valid response to life, the race war in America, closet homosexuality, the restrictions of marriage and the violence of the family unit, and anything else smacking of the dark underbelly of society is totally off the table. That doesn't leave me much to work with, or rather, much with which to work.

I have considered writing under a pseudonym, but then none of my friends could find me. Besides, negativity is out and Smiley Faces are in. That's funny, since most people are so miserable, explaining the popularity of all those Will Ferrell movies and The Olive Garden restaurants. Which reminds me: last year, dieting to beat the band, I lost exactly one half a pound. At that rate, Mitch points out, I will reach my goal weight approximately 15 years after my death. I better step things up.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

All in a Day's Work

This morning I went for my annual mammogram. I do this to delude myself into thinking I am taking care of my health, despite the fact that since I discovered it about 30 years ago I have eaten sushi too many times to count, the dangers of which include salmonella, mercury poisoning and probably worse. But there I was, stripped to the waist, my breasts--each in its turn--laid out on a cold slab, much like that Japanese delicacy.

Being an old newspaper reporter I ask a lot of questions, and the technician doing the procedure was happy to talk. Her name was Pat, she is 62 years old, and has two daughters. The first one arrived a month early and popped right out, but the second one was born breach, with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. She turned out fine, but "has always been a real spitfire."

Having a mammogram is a lot like sashimi.
Pat has been doing this work for the last 22 years, which if you ask me is a whole lot of breasts to manhandle, or more accurately, womanhandle. She sees anywhere from 14 to 20 "girls" each day. Her goal is to "get the best picture of all the girls, and make sure they don't need to have a redo." Since this was the first time in too many years I was referred to as a girl, I liked Pat immediately. Even though I was sort of bored, despite my breasts getting mashed under glass, Pat said her job is never boring to her because no two breasts are the same. "Even on the the same girl, there are differences." I was easy, according to Pat, because there was "a lot to work with." She explained, "When I see a flat-chested girl in the waiting room, I know it will be a real challenge."

While she was embarrassed to admit that she has never tried sushi, Pat offered that her least favorite food is chicken breast, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Marital Arts

My husband's nephew has just announced his impending marriage to the world, or at least to his Facebook world. Naturally, all his friends and family are coming forward, myself included, to offer their congratulations, saying things like "Congratulations!" It's a happy event, with the future bride proudly displaying a photo of her lovely new engagement ring. Now is certainly not the time to mention that half of all marriages end in divorce, or that thousands upon thousands of people prosper as marriage counselors-- and still you have to wait weeks for an appointment--or that many a wife has been murdered by her husband and vice-versa. No, we will save that for later. Besides, this being the second marriage for the groom, surely he has heard all that before. What I would like to say to him is that he should insist, from the get-go, that clear rules be drawn up concerning some important things.

For example, it should be established beforehand that if one of them likes sleeping in a cold room and snuggling cozily under the covers while the other one wants it to feel like they are at the actual Equator, and might even crack open a window despite the frigid temps outside, who wins, assuming they desire to share a bed. And what if one of them doesn't give a hoot about eating dinner and might be happy with some popcorn or a yogurt, but the other requires a hearty repast every night, complete with a protein and two vegetables and a small salad, and no starch at all mind you even if the other one loves starch, then what? Separate tables?

There's more, believe me. Who walks the dog, if there is a dog? Are there cats? If so how many, and what about the litter box? Is that really where you want to leave that wet towel? And can't you ever turn out a light? Exactly how may half-empty jars of hot sauce do we need? And what constitutes "interrupting?" Is it still interrupting if the story has gone on long enough? How long until it can be considered "deliverance?" These are just some of the things that must be addressed in the marriage vows because, believe me, after you've said, "Til death do us part," all that's left is death. Of course there's always eternity, but it's an awfully long time from now...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fearing the Cliff

If 13 is an unlucky number, what about 2013?
In the good news/bad news department, the formerly newsworthy and constantly in-your-face "fiscal cliff" has all but fizzled out. Just like college freshmen cramming for finals, those hired hands known as our Senators pulled an all-nighter on New Year's Eve and cinched a deal in the very last second of the very last minute before the deadline. Actually they finished a tad over the deadline, but still close enough so that the news is reporting we did not go over the cliff, but are kind of sliding down it on our butts.

That's the good news; the bad news is that in light of their eleventh hour solution, one wonders just what the heck our lawmakers have been doing up until last night, but I guess it's best not to know. Cliff-wise, the desperation to keep the story alive among the media is palpable, with each and every journalist assuring us that, despite the apparent agreement, there are still plenty of sticking points. As CNN's Wolf Blitzer promised us, "this is not over." Phew, that's a relief!

Thus informed, here are my New Year's resolutions:
1. Pay no attention to the media.
2. Ignore irrational fears.
3. Snowshoe as much as possible.

The Higher You Bid, the More It's Worth

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