Friday, April 29, 2011

The Top 25 Reasons I Need a Snack (in no particular order)

1.Because I am intensely bored and food will entertain me. Duh. 
2. Because it's 4:32 in the afternoon.
3. Because there are cookies in this world. There are.
4. Because other people are having a snack right now. I can sense it.
5. Because thirty years ago, the coffee cart that came to my office was out of date-nut bread for an entire week and I never got over it.
6. Because this is a goddam free country
7. Because I can hear a woodpecker outside.
8. Because I am conflicted about Steve Carrell's choice to leave "The Office" for a movie career.
9.Because men are stupid.
10. Because my kids don't live at home anymore and I have nothing to live for.
11. Because snacks are God's way of saying he loves us.
12. Because I am not quite fat enough.
13. Because my cat is telling me to.
14. Because it would make me stop sniffing my Sharpie.
15. Because my recent haircut makes me look like a 53 year old baby.
17. Because there was a little thunder about an hour ago and it scared me.
18.Because I am worried that the Mets are going to really suck the moose this year.
19.Because I am relatively certain that Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" is about me.
20. Because snacks are innocent, innocent things in a troubled world.
21. Because a snack will fill the gaping hole in my soul.
22. Because a rooster ran in front of my car last week.
23. Because I think a good piece of cheese can actually change one's life.
24. Because I found one last microwavable corn dog in the freezer.
25. Because life is just too complicated.
Right before he sprinted in front of my car . Who is he?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life in the Ladies Room

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I have experienced the impulse to "pummel" others waiting in line in theaters supermarkets buffets doctors offices receiving lines places of worship public bathrooms. That was somewhat of an exaggeration. I don't want to pummel them. All I really want to do is pee.

Waiting in line for a stall -- and life in the ladies room, in general -- can be a complex affair.

It often begins with the initial surprise received after you stride towards the swinging door marked "Ladies," (or, if you visit a specific BBQ joint in the mid west, it will actually say "Sows" on the door. If it hadn't said Pigs" on the men's room, I might have gotten mad) confident that you will soon be experiencing sweet relief.

You barrel in and --wham!-- are stunned to be met with the grim faces of a line of women in various stages of discomfort.

Often the line snakes by the mirrors. The older women (myself included) tend to look away from our fluorescently illuminated imperfections while the younger set seeks the reflection that assures them they still look better than the older set. "Just wait, bitches", the older set thinks in return....but our faces remain impassive. We've learned to give nothing away.
All we really want is clean...

As we edge toward the front of the line, we become hyper vigilant.

Determined to catch sight of the next empty stall, we lean slightly forward so we can rush toward it as much out of a sense of honor ("Yes, I was paying attention at this important moment!") as the increasing need to go tinky-winkles.

No one wants to be the woman who doesn't immediately spot the stall door swing open.

That woman is then subjected to a chorus of impatient but controlled voices: "There's one...yoohoo, there's an open one!" What we'd really like to say is "Wake up, lady, before we trample you!"
...but we don't mind fancy.
But we don't. We smile indulgently as the less than vigilant scurries, in shame, to her destination. Though we try to be alert, we are all potentially her and we know it.

Women in public bathrooms are pretty cool, for the most part.

We don't mind passing toilet paper under the partition and if someone enters in a state or emergency, once we establish it's genuine (rolling eyes like a terrified racehorse and a sheen of cold sweat are imperative before we let you through), we will happily allow you ahead of us.
Said it was an emergency when it wasn't.

Years ago, I was in just such a state driving home on a holiday weekend.
The Jersey Turnpike had been backed up and I'd missed the ramp for a rest stop.

I ran as fast as one can run with knees clamped together only to find a long line blocking my way.

I don't remember exactly what I said but suddenly the sea of women parted and I was allowed to rush into the next available stall. It was a moment of pure sisterhood

And yes, we do notice those who choose to bypass the sink. After all, we cannot be sure you have a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse. And we do flush with our feet.

We also love to find a public bathroom that has an individual sink in every stall. This way we can examine our pores, teeth and nostrils in blessed private. 

We don't like to find any "surprises" in the stall and can react testily under certain circumstances. But, for the most part, it's a pretty civilized atmosphere in women's bathrooms.

I always swear that next time there's a long line I'm going to dart into the men's room if it's empty. But not only do I have a fear of urinals (they look too much like spaceships) but I have no idea what the rules are in there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bitchin' at the Pump

I filled up my gas tank today. I'm still recovering.

Years ago, I drove a Datsun B210-- does anyone remember those? It was before the company called itself Nissan. It was 1975 and I was 17. I had long dark hair and a surly expression which I cultivated in the hope that it would make people think I was tough. It seemed important to be tough at 17.

Come to think of it, it still kind of does. But that's another blog post entirely.

The gas tank of my Datsun was about the size of a Granny Smith apple and the car would run forever on a full tank. Back then, gas cost 79 cents a gallon.

Yes, you read correctly.

I was famous for letting the tank almost get empty. I don't remember there being a light to indicate that I'd dropped to near-empty levels like in today's cars. I may be mistaken but I think we just kept a careful eye on our gauge and then learned just how far the car could go once it hit the "empty" mark. My car could go pretty far but once I knew I'd reached my limit, I'd put $2.00 of gas in the tank and drive for another few days.

Back then we had another kind of gas crisis. There was a shortage and rationing was implemented. Based on the numbers on our license plates, we were assigned a day -- odd or even -- to purchase gas and I have vivid memories of waiting on long lines at the Mobil station on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn. I'd sit in the car, twirling my hair and looking surly so no one would dare speak to me.

Tempers wore thin on those lines and one day a fight broke out between two men. We all watched like it was great theater as they pummeled each other until the cops arrived. Truth be told, I often felt like pummeling people who were in line with me, too.

Now that you mention it, I still feel like pummeling people in line with me (especially when I'm in the ladies room) but that's another blog post entirely.

Wait on line for gas? An outrage! That was the general consensus as we waited our turn. There were no debit cards then and who had a credit card? Certainly not me. I remember sliding my money under a glass partition, the smooth metal guiding the bills into the hands of a clerk who's surliness rivaled my own.

Now, the outrage is the price. The highest I've paid so far was 4.85 in Washington, D.C. It was either pay up or establish residency down there so fork it over I did. And I filled the tank, something I rarely do these days.

I suffer from the self-delusional syndrome of only getting a partial tankful at a time. But again today, I filled it up. I couldn't make eye contact with the pump...only glancing at it peripherally as the numbers flew by and the dollars increased in leaps and bounds.

The only saving grace about any of this is that disgruntled gas buyers bond quickly. Though we may not look at the numbers on the pump head on, we do make eye contact with each other and do lots of shrugging and some sheepish smiling.

But mostly, we bitch about stuff.

No longer surly and having become one of those friendly weirdos who loves to talk to everyone, I look forward to encounters with other outraged bitchers.

We start by bitching about gas. Sometimes it ends there but lately, gas-bitching has turned into bitching about lots of things. Today my fellow gas-bitcher went into a great tirade about ice cream.

It seems that ice cream no longer comes in half gallon cartons but has been down-sized although the price remains the same. Not one to take something like this lying down, I joined in with gusto. We moved on to the amount of tuna in a can and the size of candy bars. My partner-in-bitching clearly had carbohydrate issues because he wanted to discuss diminishing amounts of Cheezits and Milano cookies, as well.

Having not bought either in a while, I could not contradict his impassioned claims that there are fewer cookies in the fluted paper cups and that Cheezit boxes appear to be shrinking daily. But I had fun chiming in because I am easily able to summon white-hot fury regardless of the issue. I was able to push him to near apoplexy with the info that there are fewer Girl Scout cookies in a box.

Last week, I had a chat with a woman who was incensed about the price of meat. Though an infrequent carnivore, I joined right in. It proved to be an epic bitchfest (she was from the Bronx) and l left feeling very fulfilled. She knew her beef, I'll tell you that. I tossed around a few terms (rib eye! sirloin tips! top round!) and she never questioned my authenticity.

I am more than ready, however, to give up these public bitchfests and put them back where they belong--in the home. This obviously means that prices at the pump will have, at the very least, stopped climbing but at best, will start to drop.

Diane Sawyer, with her most sincere cat-straining-in-the-litter-box expression on her face, told me to give up on this. At least until after the summer. So, until then, I have replaced physical exercise with's much more interesting and nearly as aerobic if done correctly. 

Add to that the Milanos I bought to check that maniac's theory about fewer cookies in the fluted cups and I'll soon be bitching about how my clothes are suddenly too small.

But that's another blog post entirely....

Alternative means of transportation will become crucial as gas prices climb.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter May be Over But There's Still Lots to Celebrate

Hug him tomorrow.
As Americans return to work today,their fingertips stained various shades of the Easter color palette from dipping eggs, we know that we now face the B list of holidays, having used up those on the A list.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are the holy trinity of huge holidays celebrated here in America.

Between the younger set wearing pilgrim hats made of black construction paper and the cooks reading still more variations on what makes a delicious stuffing plus later awaiting the arrival of both Santa and the Easter Bunny, we have elevated these days of celebration and forgotten the meaning of others.
Dreaded "Easter Hand"
Does anyone realize that today is actually World Penguin Day? Well, it is and what's more, it's followed by the all important holiday, Hug an Australian Day. If you can find Hugh Jackman, I say go for it!  April 29 brings us National Shrimp Scampi Day and we close the month with a total waste of time but a holiday, nonetheless: National Honesty Day.

May holds Lumpy Rug Day, National Candied Orange Peel Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day as well as my personal favorite, held on May 13---Blame Someone Else Day. I can now look forward to that every year.
Celebrate this on May 9

While these are completely legit, most Americans don't even know they exist and focus on the more popular B list holidays.

While Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are both extremely important and immensely meaningful, they receive far less acclaim than their gift-oriented relatives. Uncle Sam is not said to stumble from house to house with red, white and blue wrapped chocolates or gifts unless your drunken uncle hit the numbers, decided to rent a costume and tries to break in long after the BBQ is over.

And, while the sale of hot dogs and all the corresponding culinary accessories soar both at the end of May and the beginning of July, it often seems more of a time for store-wide sales than a time to really think about what the holidays actually mean.
Good reading

So, my suggestion is that we don't relegate them to flip side status this year despite their somewhat lower profile. Let's, at the very least, attend a parade this Memorial Day and cheer loudly as the oldest vets trundle along in jeeps and the youngest pass by in their desert fatigues. And let's read the Declaration of Independence aloud before the company arrives on July 4, explaining to the kids that this is what the day is actually all about

Just because the Easter Bunny is nursing the sore pads of his giant chocolate-delivering feet and Santa is in St. Croix with Mrs. Claus (at least I hope that's Mrs. Claus) before production ramps up at the North Pole, doesn't mean we don't have a lot to celebrate before the cycle starts in November.

Until then, save some of your Easter chocolate for May 6 which is another of my new favorite days, National No Diet Day!
For more obscure and bizarre holidays click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Art of Swearing

I have been asked by several people why, since I appear to brag regularly about having a dirty mouth, I never use profanity in my writing. One questioner added that they do not believe that I am, indeed, the skilled potty-mouth I claim to be.

Do you really want to go there, ye of little faith?

I suggest that you call any member of my family or the elderly woman behind me in line when the self-check lane at the supermarket went on the blink (I really aplogize, I didn't see you, I swear). They will all gladly provide sworn affadavits (and possibly police reports) indicating that I do, indeed, travel on the wild side...linguistically speaking.

Though I didn't utter a swear word until I was about 13, I remember where it all started...

Around the corner from my childhood home, lived a pair of somewhat odd twin girls. Judy and Karen, were around 13 when I was eight or nine. We all kind of hung out in a pack and they were frequent loungers on my stoop during the summer months.

Karen told me horrifying stories about brides dying on their wedding days and later being spotted walking around in cemeteries wearing ghostly wedding gowns. She used to scare me out of my mind. Judy took it upon herself to teach me to swear. I was an eager student but I stored the words and their many usages in my brain, not to be used till years later.

The twins disappeared one day. Maybe they moved. Maybe they were incarcerated. Maybe they were figments of our imaginations. But their legacies live on: I'm still worried about ghost brides but will be able to shout obscenities at them if they ever do materialize.

In junior high, I was exposed to a girl named Linda F. (anyone who went to school with me at that time, reading this, will know of whom I speak immediately) who was a true legend of filth. She swore as easily as she breathed and the embers of my own profane future began to softly glow. The moment of ignition was still some time away.

I used a very minor naughty word for the first time at home of all places. Uttering it casually with my mother in the room and expecting her to keel over in horror and banish me to the special hell reserved for unspeakable crimes, my mother--the most proper of women--burst out laughing. She later explained that it was so incongruous that it caught her off guard. Big mistake, Ma.

Somehow I interpreted this as tacit permission and the rest is history.

I tried mightily to curb my mouth when the boys were young but there were countless, daily slip-ups. Especially when driving. I taught them from an early age that bad language was perfectly alright when behind the wheel...and if Mary Poppins or Queen Elizabeth had learned to drive under the the el in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn like I did, they would agree.

Don't worry, I will not embarrass you in public. I am perfectly capable of not letting any whoppers slip and I will be good around your children, pets and grandmas. I do understand the need for discretion and decorum. I just love to swear.

But not in my writing. That may be a generational thing. I don't mind if you do it, but I don't. I also am unhappy with the now established trend of using dirty words in song lyrics. I'm sure the younger generation would laugh at that. But, younger generation, I laugh at you too, so there.

In any case, people, you will not read profanity in my posts but I, and all who know me, will attest to the validity of my claims. I am planning, however, to clean up my the next life, suckas!

Until then, I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend. I am taking tomorrow off and will see you all on Monday. Thanks for reading, people. Until then, keep it clean.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Wages of Sin

The Mad Pooper
Every cat owner does it.

It doesn't matter how responsible or stable you are.

And it doesn't matter how much you love your cats. Sometimes you just cannot endure the situation. You'd rather leave town in the dead of night with a few belongings tied up in a bandana and your knees slightly bent as you skulk away.

I'm referring to the litterbox. Sometimes you just have to let it slide.

The consequences can be serious. Even life changing. Don't let this happen to you. I did...and I paid the price.
Stealth Pooper

We have three litter boxes for five cats. Most of the time I clean them twice a day--this way it's a quick and easy job: scoop, scoop, gag, toss. It works. With my normal vigilance, there's no cat "smell" in the house until someone decides to leave a big stinker and then I scurry dispose of the individual deposit.

When you choose to have five cats, you have to be on top of things.
But sometimes, you can't face it. You miss one day....and immediately the situation starts to build. You use the bathroom without making direct eye contact with the box. If you don't look at it, it doesn't exist.
Silent but Deadly

But there's the smell, building slightly--but you don't care--you just can't face it. You'd rather leave home, sell your grandma, finally taste steak tartare, have tea and cookies with Glen Beck.

It's when you reach the Glen Beck stage that you're in trouble.

When you arrive at the Glen Beck stage, Nifi, my giant Maine Coon, with the head the size of a water buffalo, will leave a horrible surprise right outside the box. It's big. It's bad. It stinks. It's a call to action that cannot be ignored.

So, yesterday, I faced it. Armed with a roll of paper towels, a nearly full bottle of Fantastik and a silent plea for strength aimed at my Hun forbears, I went in.

The box (I will only ignore one out of three at a time) shimmered wickedly in the corner as a solid wall of stench hit me in the nose. I nearly succumbed but managed to cling to consciousness as I struck back.
Claims to Never Poop

It was pure horror. The litter was welded together, studded by horrible "things" left by angry cats. The plastic liner was shredded and events, unmentionable in polite company had occurred as a result. My hands became filthy (surprise, I own no gloves), I stepped in something weird and hell hath not heard the likes, nor the volume, of my swearing.

Despite this being my own fault, I -- obviously -- blamed the cats. I called them evil fluffsters, four-legged crapping devils and other equally vile names but they didn't care. They knew I deserved this punishment.
Who me?

Once I finally reached the point of a clean, hosed-off box, washed the bathroom floor and was hoarse from shouting into the air, I knew I'd survived. I filled the box with fresh litter, coughing from the powder, sprayed some Lysol on the entire affair, scrubbed to the elbow and collapsed in front of Cash Cab.

Just as Ben Bailey was terrorizing a bunch of  tourists with the cab's flashing lights, I heard the tell-tale scrape, scrape of a cat in the fresh box. It was Nifi -- the Ringleader of Poo, the Peeing Colossus -- who waits until I finish cleaning a box so he can be the first to soil it.

The smell hit like a brick in my face and I rose to scoop, chastened by my recent ordeal.

Despite the lessons learned today, I know there will be a next time. There always is regardless of pledges made but I am ordering a Hazmat suit and gas mask tomorrow. Why not be prepared?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Mirror

Grandpa, a mirror gazer.

I paused, as usual, right before I opened the front door.

The UPS man was out there and not wanting to scare him too badly, I checked the mirror that has hung in the foyer of my home for 17 years.

In it, I saw my mother. She appeared to be superimposed over my own image not because I was seeing a spectral vision but because, as the years fly by, I have come to resemble her. Especially, at a quick glance in the mirror.

The graying mop top was hers. As are the dark eyes--simultaneously mournful and amused, as well as the deep shadows beneath them. The general resemblance we bear our predecessors has created an unmistakable aura of similarity between mother and daughter. Especially as daughter grows older.

The last time I saw it was when I was peering at myself through bleary eyes at a rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike. Mom, I remember thinking, what are you doing here?

The mirror, into which I glanced at the door, has seen many faces. It's neither elegant nor beautiful. It's just a mirror that silently hung in the front hall of my home as I was growing up.

The brownstone, purchased in 1918 by aunts, was also the house in which my mother was born and where my grandmother lived for the rest of her life after her marriage in 1921, until her death in 1984. The mirror had hung in the same spot, by the door, all that time.

I never particularly liked it, but it came with me up here because it had nowhere else to go once the house was sold...and because of whom its seen.

It witnessed my aunt Alice, now 91, on her way out the door on her many dates. Dressed to the nines, she made sure her lipstick and 40's hair-dos were perfect before she headed to the city. There she danced and smoked but trusted the mirror once again before facing her anxious mother who hovered by the window until she returned in the wee hours.
The aunts

Well before that, my aunts -- Margaret and Elsie -- did some lipstick checking of their own. Our house back then was a hub of parties and activity when the "aunts" were young. There was a piano and dancing, I am told.

My grandfather, a snappy dressing handsome-and-he-knew-it kind of guy, no doubt, did some mirror gazing, as well.

The visitors, friends and family who came and went could not help but give a quick peek into the reflection at the door. It's human nature to make sure things are smooth, symmetrical and under control before facing an unforgiving world...or, in today's case, the UPS man.

That mirror was the confidant of countless entries and departures and it kept all the secrets--a cowlick, lipsticky teeth, dismay over a receding hairline, horror at a pimple or even a private smile as the months, years and decades rolled by.

Fast forward to my sons. I can attest to the appraising glances cast into it by the boys as they galloped past, showing the mirror Halloween costumes, baseball uniforms, fresh haircuts and tuxedos on their way to the prom.

The mirror watched me go from pigtails to gray hair. And, like a good friend, it's always been brutally honest.

It told me, very clearly, when I was about 13, that blue eye shadow was a mistake but I chose to ignore the advice. I didn't tell it, after returning home chastened, that other, far less familiar mirrors had confirmed its opinion over the course of a day at school.

The mirror also has been heartless. I have, upon occasion, desperately wanted to believe that the reflections of the people so loved that have come and gone -- or simply grown up -- would still be in there somewhere and could be somehow, called forth. But that mirror plays its cards close to its vest and will give nothing up to the sentimental.

It's been repaired once or twice and, after its facelifts, looks almost good as new. Sadly, the same can't be said of the rest of us.

We give it mostly fleeting attention but it doesn't complain. It's seen us at our worst and that makes it one of the family, after all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Friday, the Sun is Shining and My Back Feels Better So.....

Don't worry, I'm on the job.
I just had a computer event which appears to have deleted the post I'd written for today. While my husband assures me that is somewhere, to me right now, it is nowhere.

It's too sunny and lovely to have a tantrum and since I've been going to the chiropractor, my back feels so much better that I am just in a more cheerful mood in general so I will look for the post which, if I locate it, will be here on Monday.

In it, I slam no one group, syndrome or condition, so to those I've managed to alienate (scientologists and spoiled actresses who seem to have forgotten how good they actually have it but choose to exploit mental illness and those who truly suffer) in the past week, please come back then for a fresh start.

Until then, I'd like to offer my sincere thanks to Justin Bieber, who was recently sent by the U.S. government to attempt to negotiate a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. May he have better luck than his predecessors. I hear the Kardashians are headed to Libya next week.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for reading and signing up this week as well as for not reporting me to the authorities.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Snap Out of It, Catherine Zeta Jones

Yesterday, Catherine Zeta Jones checked herself into a "mental health rehab facility." The reason given was Bipolar Syndrome II which made me feel very bad for her.

Bipolar disorder, once referred to as "manic depression" is very serious. After a little research, however, I learned that Bipolar II is a fancy new term replacing the more old-fashioned "nervous breakdown." Equally serious and awful, I have known several people who've experienced them. They are damaging and scary and professional help is most definitely a must.
Undeniably, Catherine has had a very tough year. Her husband, Michael Douglas battled throat cancer. According to recent reports, he is now cancer free, thank God, but will have to be carefully monitored from now on. He is expected to be able to live a full and productive life. Great news.

Cancer is a total nightmare for everyone. Even for people like Michael Douglas who can afford top-of-the line treatment and hospitals, every creature comfort in the book and then some, plus trips to Disneyland and tony island resorts in between chemo. You know who cancer especially sucks for? People with no insurance or no ride to chemo or no treatment once their benefits -- if they have them --  run out or no hope at all--among other things.

Her stepson went to jail for selling drugs. That stinks, too. Forget the fact that he is another Hollywood-raised brat who, I am guessing, might have received a little less than optimum guidance from two busy parents who were living the life rather than focusing on their child. Maybe I'm wrong. The odds are with me, though.

This scenario doesn't make it any easier to watch your husband's son be locked in the slammer but I worry more about kids who never had a chance, in or out of the system. Or kids, in the wrong place at the wrong time, who got in trouble. Kids given court appointed attorneys who don't lose any sleep as the bars clang shut behind their clients. Advocateless kids whose youths are lost, their lives ruined by a prison sentence--among other things.

The article I read abut Catherine's difficult year mentioned her stress over Michael Douglas' ex-wife suing him over half the profits from a recent movie.

Even if he'd had to fork over that money (I have no idea of the outcome), I suspect there would have been plenty remaining in the Douglas coffers. Enough to keep you out of the community food bank or the thrift shops to buy your kids shoes for school, Catherine. Enough for the mortgages on your multiple homes or your designer clothes--among other things.

The article also mentioned that Catherine was "overwhelmed" by her duties as an "actress and mother." Hold that thought until we can discuss it with a single mother working two jobs who still can't make ends meet and lies awake at night wondering how she'll pay for school supplies--among other things.

Maybe the paparazzi were just too damn annoying. Maybe Fashion Week,which you attended recently looking gorgeous, was too crowded. Maybe the European golfing excursion you took while your husband was receiving chemo was rainy and you didn't get to hit the links or the Disney trip was too noisy? Or, maybe the Golden Globes were a bore--among other things.

I am not expecting celebrities to be super human or not feel what the guy on the street feels. Nor do I begrudge them their wealth or their right to enjoy it.

I am not expecting them to be immune to the woes that affect the rest of us or not to, unashamedly, seek help when it is needed. We are all the same despite the money, bodyguards, handlers, managers, cooks, servants, nannies, agents, personal trainers, spiritual advisors and personal pillow fluffers--among other things.

And, maybe if Catherine Zeta Jones hadn't become an actress but instead was an incredibly attractive clerk in a convenience store, she might have been a strong character with the ability to cope with life's pitfalls. Who knows?

Someone should take her on a little drive through Newburgh, NY where that poor woman, who according to friends was a responsible parent until she decided, just yesterday, to drive her minivan with her four children in it, into the river. They all died except for a ten year old boy who managed to swim to safety. I'm guesings he's going to need some help as he gets older. Maybe you could throw a few bucks his way, Cathy.

So, get real, Catherine. Snap out of it and go do some volunteer work somewhere. Maybe then you'll see what real real stress and desperation look like--among other things.
It's a tough life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Goodbye, Old Friend....

Last night I dreamt I was driving a car indoors. Then I dreamt that I ran into one of my favorite soap opera stars (Maeve Kincaid, from the now defunct "Guiding Light") and asked her if I had lipstick on my teeth.

"Does anyone here have a guess as to what this means?

"Yes, you with the scientology tee shirt..."

"It means you wish you had a penis!"

"Nope. How about you, in the tuxedo and clown shoes....."

"It means you wish you had chest hair and a penis!"

"No! Aren't there any women in here...Ahhhh, you, miss, you--with the dark circles under your eyes and the haunted expression..."

"It means you slept last night."


Remember last week when I was whining about the stomach flu (or whatever it was)? I couldn't keep anything down and, therefore, did not eat or drink for three days. Well, this included coffee.

And guess what?

I have been sleeping like a log. And I wake up refreshed, don't need a nap during the day and have been enjoying something I barely remember ever having had--energy.Yes, ladies, energy.
Me, much younger.

I used to be an enviable sleeper. It was what I could do. Some can dance, sing, decipher knitting instructions and make a sweater---I could sleep. Deeply. Easily. I was the Lebron James of sleep. In fact, if the Olympics included a sleeping event, I would have represented the U.S. proudly and come home with a gold.

Then my estrogen went on vacation. It has been spotted somewhere in the Tortugas in pedal pushers and a sunhat.

With it, went my ability to fall sleep at a moment's notice, anywhere and anytime.... as my head was aiming for the pillow, through noisy sports events and holding on to a subway strap. It was a wonderful gift.

These days, if I am lucky enough to actually fall asleep, I wake constantly to sweat, freeze, ache, scheme, plot, sob into my pillow and entertain aggressive thoughts that should never so much as enter a lady's mind. These thoughts often involve tasers.

I've drunk coffee all my life and loved it. LOVED IT. In the old days, I could drink coffee right before bed and still, easily, fall asleep. As I got older, I scaled back on how late I dared drink it but it has remained a happy constant and a ritual I've very much enjoyed. Coffee---and plenty of it--in the morning, thank you.
No more cawfee??

It seems that as we age, we metabolize things differently. Where in the manual did it say that??

Who would have guessed that my chipped mug with the picture of Fran Drescher as The Nanny on it, filled with steaming black coffee or the tantalizingly beautiful large size hazelnut iced coffee with milk and two Equals, would turn against me like this?

So, I choose the pleasure of sleep over the pleasure of coffee. I have not had any in about two weeks and haven't slept this well in years. It's not quite like it used to be but what is? Farewell coffee, it was great while it lasted.
See what I mean?

Did I hear someone suggest decaf? I will pretend not to have heard that. Coffee without caffeine is like Tom Selleck without a mustache---totally unacceptable.

I shall live a coffee-free life....and get a taser. I know I'm going to need it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Never Play Gin with a Maniac

Gray Sunday yesterday. Gray weather. Gray mood. Gray reflection in mirror. Even Gray Buzzy snoring on a chair.

How to spend the afternoon?

TV? Tempting, but no---too much of that already. Read a book? Nah, requires too much focus. Finish crocheting the afghan that just needs some fringe to be complete? Not until I get the cortisone shot in my wrist next week. Taunt the cats? Possibly. Call the boys? Hmmm, I've been a pain in their asses lately so no. Play cards with my husband? Wow, we haven't done that in years!!

Let's go!

I clear the kitchen table of all the old mail, newspapers, magazines, catalogues, pens, vitamin bottles, coffee mugs, flyers, take-out menus, scraps of paper and cats. Seth runs to put on some music. It's a perfect day for some sleepy George Jones and his mournful love 'em and leave 'ems. I make herbal tea for me, Seth grabs a beer.

So far so good.

Now the search for cards. There's an old deck in the drawer. It turns out to have belonged to my mother and I am suddenly awash in memories of her sitting at the table in a snap coat, wearing her usual smile and playing solitaire. So, of course, I must take a break for a good solid cry. Seth, not unfamiliar with this sort of episode, pops the beer and waits until the sobs subside.

We decide it's chilly and go get sweatshirts. I stop to comb my hair, noticing my resemblance to a porcupine as I pass a mirror and we sit, finally ready to play.

After staring at the cards for a few minutes as if we've never seen cards before, we decide on Gin Rummy--simple but fun.

Neither of us remembers the fine points of the game. Seth rushes off to google it. He comes back flourishing no less than five printed-out pages which we proceed to read and disagree with. After finally reaching a compromise about how we prefer to play, Seth shuffles and deals. The cats are curled up nearby, George Jones is crooning softly, my tea is delicious and a light drizzle has begun, increasing the cozy factor in the kitchen. Bliss.

Then I lose the first hand. No problem. It's only the first hand. I can turn this around. But I can feel the pout lines forming around my lips and suddenly remember what an incredibly sore loser I am.

I wasn't always a sore loser. But early in our courtship and marriage I discovered that Seth, normally calm and measured, happens to be a deranged winner. Upon vanquishing me at cards, Monopoly or anything else, he flies into sneering, twirling bouts of unmitigated glee. This includes nose-thumbing, crazy laughter, full-out gloating and occasional fits of air guitar.
I have to listen to this kind of thing
This pushes me right off the very unstable tightrope of maturity upon which I teeter, giving me little choice but to respond by transforming into a card-slamming, monopoly token (I prefer the shoe) hurling, foul-mouthed witch.

Several hands in, as Seth triumphed, taking breaks to pirouette about the house (and where he found the confetti, I'll never know) I simmered in my own juices, remembering why we hadn't played cards in years.

Hence our peaceful day ended. I slapped together some dinner and we adjourned to different corners--him with "60 Minutes" and me with the Sunday crossword and a very bad attitude.

Next week, it's reruns of" Antiques Roadshow" for us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Smoke Screen Effect

This week I dropped the ball.

Meals were weird little piles of stuff, the litterbox was neglected (more piles but of different stuff) and laundry became additional, larger piles--both the dirty and the to-be-ironed-with-half-an-ass pile.

There was no particular reason for this. It's not like I was recruited to be a writer for Charlie Sheen's "Violent Torpedo of Truth Tour" or anything but from what I'm hearing, they could use a little help. I just sort of slacked off.

In view of the fact that I really enjoyed slacking enormously and may want to continue with it for a bit, combined with Seth's persistent requests for food and clean underwear, I have decided to create a smoke screen by officially declaring next week, "What Seth Does Wrong Week."

Some highlights will be examining why he insists on saying important things while walking away from me at top speed so I can't hear a single word, and why he drops his socks and underwear about ten inches from the hamper but, mysteriously, doesn't put them inside

Plus, a special focus group is being formed at this very moment that will look into the phenomenon of husbands who are able, immediately after arguing with their wives, to prance directly off to watch reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and laugh uproariously while their wives are still quivering with righteous indignation and coping with long-term residual feelings of paralyzing rage.
Smokescreen kits are available.

If there are any of you out there (men and women alike) interested in setting up a "What -- fill in name of your choice -- Does Wrong" week, call 1-800-CREATE A SMOKE SCREEN, there is professional help available.

You, like me, can enjoy the benefits of a trained team that will come and transform your home into a palace of accusation and recrimination including a free "Pin The Tail on --fill in name of your choice --Game" you can tape to the back of a door.

Springing up all over the country, "responsibility avoidance" companies are no longer considered a fly-by-night industry. Their persistence (handing out leaflets a day-time botox parties and pool halls, for example) has paid off. You, too, can make use of their expertise in creating an elaborate distraction to deflect attention from why you are not fulfilling your duties. Join me, "Susan Says..." as I travel the path of avoidance and denial....

Uh, hold on a second....
Charlie and the strippers. Brilliant/

What, Seth?  Where are you going? The Violent Torpedo of Truth Tour? The tickets are being given away free? Really? Why does it look like you packed for a week??? Hey! Come back here....

I have to go stop Seth from leaving. Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading and don't forget to sign up to follow this madness on the right of the page. See you all on Monday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Might Possibly Make A Woman Assault an $80 Million Painting (Or Suck Her Thumb in a Corner)

The plug came out of the wall again!!!
Did anyone hear about the nutcase -- a woman --  who went totally off her rocker in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. the other day?

She ranted and raved, threatened people and attacked a very valuable painting with her fists, going totally ballistic until she was finally tackled and subdued.

I bet this is what happened to her the day before she flipped her wig: No matter what outlet she plugged her vacuum cleaner into, it came out of the wall every single time while she was attempting to use it. Not only was her work continually interrupted by that but she, somehow, wound the cord around the love seat and tripped on a sneaker barely missing hitting her head on the molding by the kitchen.

I bet that the next thing that happened was that her womanly hips kept knocking the stack of tax crap that her husband had piled on a bookshelf despite the fact that it didn't fit on it and that she later vacuumed up an earring which was then sucked directly into a very full vacuum bag and had to go through it, painstakingly, until she recovered the earring.

I bet that she thought she'd found it when her fingers came across something that felt like it but was just some stupid metal part from something she no longer owns and it accidentally went under her fingernail causing her to bleed and be in pain for the remainder of the day.
After this, I bet she dropped the last egg she had that was meant for the cornbread she was planning for dinner so that it could go with the chili that she'd scorched on the bottom.

I will also bet that one of her cats missed the litter box with his ass and laid a big one on the floor into which her husband stepped because he was reading a newspaper as he entered the bathroom and there was much screaming and a little crying and name-calling thrown in for good measure.
Did I hear you say Glee is a rerun???

I will also bet that when she was finally ready to sit down and relax, she attempted to watch some TV but Glee (which I bet she really has come to hate but, for some reason, can't seem to stop watching it) was a goddam re-run.

This, I am willing to bet, is exactly what happened before that woman flipped out and attacked the painting.

Interesting because the exact same string of events happened to me just yesterday.......

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Laugh and the World Laughs With You? Not Necessarily.

The other day I had the Early Show on in the background as I got ready to leave the house. A story popped up about how Prince Harry is dealing with his brother's pre-wedding festivities and I listened with half an ear as I pulled on my socks and went over the day's agenda in my head.

It was mentioned that the young prince is involved in a charitable organization that does extensive work for the "winded."
Elvis laughed....

Since I am often winded, I was very touched but upon listening more closely (I put the remaining sock down and leaned, slightly, forward), I was a bit crestfallen to learn that it's a charity for the wounded and not the winded. 

Well, this made me laugh.

Not just at that moment but throughout the day because I, you see, have an unfortunate history of inappropriate and poorly timed laughter.

This has been an issue for as long as I can remember. Ask a good friend from my teen years at whose grandmother's wake, I was so nervous and frightened about seeing my first dead body that I became so hysterical with laughter that I had to be dragged into the lady's room and slapped around  a bit.

And that, I regret to report, only made me laugh more.

So, as the day progressed after learning of Prince Harry's charity work, I kept remembering winded vs. wounded and would laugh. At home. In the car. On line in the bank where I had to pretend my laugh was a cough and later at Trader Joe's where, for variety, I pretended I was choking.
Even cows laugh.

The worst part is that inappropriate laughter is delicious. When you know that the venue is unacceptable (a wake) or forbidden (a classroom) or really insanely stupid (a courtroom ) because the bailiff is now casting you (yes, you) threatening looks, it's still the best laughter around.

Uncontrollable laughter is in the same category but governed by different rules because basically, after a few minutes of laughing --despite the venue -- it's universally inappropriate. People get really mad.
The problem is that inappropriate laughter often becomes uncontrollable laughter as a result of the horrified or angry reactions of the non-laughers. It can also quickly ramp up into inappropriate farting (everyone), peeing (women of a certain age) and crying (me).
I can laugh only so long until a tear, then several, then Niagara Falls will start rolling down my face. And this, is when you must either get a grip on yourself (virtually impossible), leave on your own (tricky on many levels), dragged out and yelled at (most likely).

Who knew laughter is so complicated?

The Prince Harry thing is very fresh so, for me, it will be best to avoid any serious occasions in the next 24-36 hours. Wish me luck.
Ann Boleyn: Never laugh at a beheading. Thank you.