Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ending 2009 'n Stuff

Another year is ending. The fireworks will be over, the ball will drop. Time to put away the sweets, leftovers, white elephants, party hats, stretch pants (holiday wear) and get back to a more healthy and balanced way of living. I've been promising myself that since New Year's eve, 1993.

It seems I have been doing New Year's all wrong. After a bit of research, I found a few tidbits about tradition and warding off evil spirits or attracting luck. I've been told that what we do on New Year's day guarantees our fate for the rest of the year. When I reviewed the traditional, must-do list, it's a wonder I'm still alive.

It seems if you fail to kiss your significant other at the stroke of twelve, this insures a year of coldness. Ah, yes, I've experienced that. But when you're stinking drunk, how do you recognize your significant other? You may think you kissed your one and only, but did you? This creates what is known as auld langxiety. That is the horrible feeling you wake up with when you can't remember what you did on New Year's eve.

I guess you're supposed to stock the cupboards too. This guarantees prosperity, but I don't see how having shelves full of Top Ramen and Jiffy Pop has much to do with the rest of the year.
All bills should be paid off by New Year's day. The year should not begin with the household in debt. Which year? I've been in debt since I was seven.

Letting the old year out. At midnight, open all the doors in the house to let the old year escape without obstruction. Really? Since I have never done this, I must have decades rotting in corners, in the furniture cushions, and under the bed. It must be 1982 that has been smelling up the laundry room.

This year, I'm going to do something I have never done before. I'm going to make a time capsule and bury it in the back yard. This will help me and anyone else who forgets, to remember what all the fuss was about. The first thing that will go in will be a letter to myself.

V. (a name I call myself)...

It's now, (barring any nuclear holocaust, personal disaster, death, or discovery made by some goofball with a metal detector) January 1, 2035. You are most likely holding this letter in your fat, sausage-like fingers, realizing that you never did lose the weight you so earnestly promised to lose. Damn your eyes.

I've enclosed the following items:

A pencil rendition of, Francine, Sylvia Brown's spirit guide.

A receipt that proves gasoline sold in Blythe, CA on 12/23/09 was $4.93 a gallon.

A photo of Bernie Madoff as he was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

A photo of me running a red light (expensive photo shoot)

An unused portion of, Happy Camper, an attitude food and herbal supplement I found online that claimed to brighten your spirits.

Droppings from Barack Obama's campaign trail.

Eight years of toenail clippings from Aunt Lolly's jar.

Video of my flexible sigmoidoscopy.

An unused gift card from Victoria's Secret.

A copy of each of Stephen Hawking's books, A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell.

A wedge of fruitcake, just to confirm that time has no effect on its form, function or taste.

A hot-pink, low-rise thong from Victoria's Secret. Yes, it's clean.

A take out menu from Wok's Cookin'.

A Viagra tablet in a test tube.

The $300. cell phone that mysteriously slipped into my ice chest on the way back from Phoenix.

A sealed, white chocolate, mocha frappuccino blended decaf coffee from Starbucks, with whipped cream topping.

My December, 2009 Visa statement. Sigh.
A recording of my first yodeling lesson.
The first season of Family Guy on DVD.
I will close and hermetically seal the capsule with Preparation H. This event surely will override any New Year mistakes I've made in the past. I hope.
Of course, I'll be sure to serve black-eyed peas just in case.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post Holiday Depression

All the trash bins are overflowing with wrapping paper and boxes, Christmas trees are drooping and all the chocolate eating has mysteriously prevented me from fitting into anything other than my holiday stretchy pants. Nothing has changed from previous years.

As in classical mechanics, p=mv, or the product of the mass (me) and velocity of an object (me), i.e. meeting year-end goals at work, shopping, cooking, wrapping, driving, mailing cards and gifts, and don’t forget to call everyone who will be offended if you don’t.

The natural side effect of all of this momentum is what I refer to as post holiday depression. Strangely, it feels as if time has stopped. Newton’s Law can’t touch the emotion that one experiences by flipping from momentum to inertia. Inertia meaning, that an object (me) will always continue moving at its current speed and in its current direction until some force causes its speed or direction to change (the party’s over).

But, enough of that, this blog isn’t about physics and it’s not really about depression. I just needed to get that off my chest.

I’d like to talk about the endless hours of computer use that go on around the world. I’m afraid in time, there will be an announcement that long term exposure to electromagnetic fields definitely causes, brain tumors, leukemia, chronic fatigue, headaches, cataracts, heart problems, cancer, stress, nausea, chest pain and forgetfulness. Oh, and before I forget, there is a public service announcement I heard. Saliva causes stomach cancer but only when swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time. Will I ever get to the point?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced a conflict of interest, especially where computers are concerned. One of the presents my boyfriend (BJ) received this year is the computer game put out by Blizzard, called StarCraft. I know, it was actually released in 1998, but I haven’t been into video games since Ms. Pac-Man and I think I became obsessed with that because it involved eating dots and chasing after bouncing fruit. Nevertheless, my boyfriend loves his StarCraft game and asked me to try playing because if I can get up to speed, we can play online with others. Heh.

He sat with me, offering helpful tips as I completed the first two missions, which took me three hours!
It went something like this:

BJ: Okay, click on your SCV.
Me: What’s that?
BJ: That’s your energy collecting vehicle.
Me: Where?
BJ: Down at the bottom of the screen.
Me: That little thing?
BJ: Yeah, left click on it and then right click on the minerals.
Me: Oh! He responded to me.
BJ: Yeah. Now build another worker.
Me: I wish I could have done that a week ago. How do I do that?
BJ: Go to your menu, then click on build and select a worker.
Me: That’s easy, now what?
BJ: EXPAND, always expand! Don’t be afraid to.
Me: Do I look like I’m afraid of expanding? I pulled at the waist band of my sweat pants.
BJ: Okay, now you want to collect gas for energy.
Me: That isn’t hard after aunt Birdie’s green bean casserole.
BJ: You’re gonna need all your resources to defend yourself while you’re being attacked on your next mission.
Me: I’m gonna be attacked?
BJ: Big time.
Me: You know, before we get into the attacking mission, I need to switch over to FarmVille and harvest my Pattypan Squash.
BJ: Squash!
Me: Yeah, I have to plant rice too. I’m just forty points away from level one of Rice mastery.
BJ: Okay, baby, but look, you’re being attacked by the Zergs.
Me: Oh my God, this is worse than being attacked by the Goldman’s at my office holiday party. Where’s my SUV?
BJ: No, you have to build Marines and bunkers.
Me: I’ll bet my squash is starting to wither.
BJ: Defense, defense! Where are your firebots?
Me: What are those?! I was madly clicking on the enemy, not realizing that it was a useless exercise.
BJ: Those guys throw flames. Build some!
Me: Does it have to be so violent? My marines are being splattered all over the ground.
BJ: What is your SCV doing just sitting there? Mine more minerals. Go, go, go!
Me: They’re demolishing my power depot!
BJ: You need minerals to build more. You should have been doing that all along.
Me: Now you tell me.
I kept clicking on the Zergs knowing it was futile.
BJ: That’s okay baby, you’ll get ‘em next time.
He patted me on the head and went to our hobby room to work on some music.

I just sat there panting, and reliving the stress I had just experienced from my total annihilation. With a shaky hand, I opened my browser and went to Facebook. I clicked on the FarmVille icon and there it was, my peaceful little farm. All the cows, chickens, goats and horses were in their places, right where I left them. All my ducks were in one straight row, and my Pattypan squash was ripe for harvesting. There’s no place like home.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Christmas Works

So…here we are again. The time of year that happens like clockwork but always manages to take me by surprise. The season spirit drives us to the malls, to the kitchen and festive gatherings. The only place it ever drove me is crazy. Though we are reminded, it is time to renew our faith; we mustn’t forget to renew our Visa and Master cards too. As if my credit cards aren’t still wheezing from last year.
Time to get out the nutcrackers…the cards, the bubble lights, flicker flame lights, LED Christmas lights, angels, nativity scenes, ornaments, cinnamon-scented pine cones, kneeling Santa collections, the holiday-decorated spin shades for the lamps, garlands, fairies and stockings.
By the way, I found out how this silly, hang a stocking on the fireplace mantle idea came about. It turns out that St. Nicholas passing by the homes of maidens too poor to afford a dowry, money that a bride gives to her groom for her wedding. (I always wondered what that big, huge, humongous, honkin’ wad of money I gave my ex was called). Anyway, he would throw gold coins down the chimneys where they would fall into stockings which were hung over the fire to dry. Heh. Yeah, right.
Actually, I don’t have to decorate at all. A couple of my neighbors have been involved in a decorating competition for some time now. By December 15 th , it’ll look like Christmas threw up right here in my little cul-de-sac.
Stocking stuffers used to be candy, fruit, small toys, those Chinese finger traps, and if you were a complete bad ass, a lump of coal. The other day I read an article that had a list of suggestions for stocking stuffers. They included, a digital picture frame ($199.), comfort slippers ($50.), portable GPS system ($399.), wireless stock market tracker ($85.), motorized grill cleaning brush ($30.), electronic recipe guide ($25.). GEESH! DOESN’T ANYONE LIKE FRUIT ANYMORE???
I even found a website that is selling an adopt a vine for one year. A perfect gift for any wine lover. You get a welcome letter, a booklet about wine, a personalized pen and a vine adoption certificate. The vine is located at a famous British vineyard. Upon registration, you get a map and directions to the vineyard and a certificate that entitles you to a free tour and wine tasting.
I have a better idea. What about an adopt a flat-screen tv for a year? The perfect gift for any television lover. You would receive a copy of the owner's manuel, a personalized remote, a bunch of information about the history of television, and one full day of movies and two special events...booked in advance, of course. Just send a check for $300. payable to me, and I'll see that you receive your gift package before Christmas.
GAG! It’s gone beyond commercial at this point and I wouldn’t be surprised if people will start registering for their Christmas gifts and try to get you to believe it will relieve you of the stress of making a decision. If that’s the case, I’ll tell you where I’m registered right now: Longo Lexus, Tiffany & Company, Countrywide Mortgage, Princess Cruises and Ramsgate Yacht Sales.
Yeah, and lets don't forget to cram our faces with candy, pie, turkey, stuffing and those green beans soaked in mushroom soup. I considered taking a class from a well-known chocolate and patisserie school to make Petit Fours, but then I realized I hadn’t taken the prerequisites…Petit Ones, Twos and Threes. Incidentally, if you’re wondering what to do with that fruitcake that no one wants, they make a great floatation device.
Better yet, I think this year I’m just going to enjoy the gifts of the spirit. A bottle of Jack and a cheese ball.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reservation For One

“What are you in for?”

It has been a long time since I was asked that question and I hope I never hear it again. Yes, I have done jail time. It’s difficult to imagine by looking at me, but I have a record. A real record…no, not the vinyl kind, read by a needle to amplify music on a phonograph, the criminal kind.

It’s been five years since that awful day. Spring serves to remind me. Understand though, I’m not blaming spring at all; it’s one of the most pleasant seasons. Almost too pleasant.

It was in the spring of 2003, when I visited the California Poppy reserve. I was walking past the visitor’s center when a park ranger smiled, waved and told me the Goldfields were opening up. I was surprised because they were one of the most private families in our cul-de-sac…and how did he know them anyway?

I was amazed at the high density of poppy plants. It was as if God stroked the hillside with a brush dipped in vibrant orange paint. I followed the Coyote droppings along the trail and let my eyes drink in the majesty of the blooming Filaree and Blue Dick. I really must research the history of the latter. It caught me by surprise, as I watched a Monarch butterfly swooping and hovering. I felt an intense urge to pick one of poppies… and so I did, automatically and without thought. One led to another and I must have slipped into some kind of addictive compulsion that had been lying dormant. Before I knew it, I was clutching a bouquet that I don’t even remember picking. Of course, the park ranger didn’t accept this explanation and the next thing I knew; I was being finger printed, booked and looking at a possible jail sentence of two to five years.

How could this be? It wasn’t as if I had received an illegal stock market tip or anything as horrendous as that. I picked some flowers for God’s sake. They were there, they were pretty. Still, I was forced to register as a PPO, protected poppy offender. I’m not allowed to come within a hundred yards of a protected flower…ever.

I shared a jail cell for about twenty minutes with Kiersten, a young woman who was looking at three years for illegally duplicating a DVD of Sing Yourself Silly, by the Muppets. She may have had a hefty fine to pay as well. I will have to register with to look her up. I’m curious to know what happened to her and I don’t want to wait until the ten-year reunion to find out.

I’ve since joined a twelve-step program for my flower picking addiction. I have a sponsor and attend meetings regularly. She makes me stay away from the floral section of the supermarket and return arrangements sent to me by admirers. I still get a giddy feeling when I pass the Goldfield’s garden but I found if I begin to skip and whistle zippity doo dah, it takes my mind off my PU’s (picking urges).

Thank God, there are places that we deviants can go to recover from hopeless states of mind and body. In fact, I think California is one of many states that protect these brilliant orange, cup-shaped wild flowers. Just watching these nearly indestructible perennials with their electrifying and vibrant colored petals fluttering in the soft spring breeze causes me to quiver. My pulse has quickened, so it might be a good time to give my sponser a call.
I'm back, she didn't appreciate my idea of growing my own poppies in the rich soil of my deserted garden in the back yard. She reminded me that I am a poppyholic and that even thinking of growing flowers of any kind is a slippery slope and could trigger a craving that no human power could rescue me from. She's right.

Unless you grow your own, and consider yourself lucky if you have control over your urges, please enjoy California poppies where they are most well-suited....gracing the beautiful California countryside.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I'm wondering why we never give appreciation to the individual who made Thanksgiving possible. Most of us think only of eating enough to feed a small village and then fall asleep in our cushy leather recliner. I think the true story of Thanksgiving will make you ponder gratitude.

He was a Patuxet Indian, and his name was Squanto. His story is remarkable. When he was a young man, he went to England on a trading ship. He was made part of an Indian Exhibit on a London stage, he worked as a servant, was tricked into going on board a slave ship to Spain where he was sold.

Luckily, he fell into the hands of a group of friars at a Catholic monastery. They freed him and turned him into a Christian. By the time he located a ship captain that would agree to take him home, twelve years had passed. When he returned home, there was no trace of his family or friends. They had all been struck with a great sickness. Every one of them had died. He was the last of his tribe, but at least he could speak english. Heh.

Squanto was the one who showed the Pilgrims how to build warm houses. Then, taught them when and where to plant. He showed them how use fish for fertilizer to grow corn faster. He even taught the women how to cook the corn. He acted as an interpreter, guide, and gave advice on bargaining with the natives. Without him, the pilgrims would never have survived the season.
After further investigation, I found there was one particular pilgrim woman who rankled Squanto to the edge of insanity. It turns out she was the great great great great grandmother of Martha Stewart. Her name was Martha Wart, the daughter of Stu and Penelope Wart. It seems she delighted in following after Squanto to improve on his demonstrations of planting and cooking.

Martha Wart was the first woman to use lobster claws to hold the corners of the tablecloths down when feasting outside. She served Brunswick stew richly seasoned with her very own garden herbs and often substituted squirrel or oppossum for deer. Squanto was used to one-pot meals but Martha rarely stuck to one pot. Often, she served Racoon wraps with her soups and stews and used sun-dried ceramic plates which she had fashioned from the loamy soil from her courtyard.

It wasn't unusual to see her gathering sweet gum tree spurs to make place cards for the harvest festivals. She showed Squanto how to make decorative turkeys from autumn leaves and roasted nuts over an open fire using a wire basket she molded from abandoned horse shoes. She constructed a still made from a boiler chamber and pipes she smuggled aboard ship.
Soon she had a wonderful mix of homemade vodka that served as the core of many 'happy hours', which she named them. Blackberry crushes and Lemon Shadies wer the favorite drinks of the ladies while the men preferred her brew strait from the jug. They showed Squanto how to do shots.

It has always been believed that Squanto died of pneumonia however there were some questions when the mortician found a lovely organza draw string bag sewn to the inside of his deer skin jacket, filled with dried buds, barks, roots, seeds and berries. Martha explained that it was for luck, however it was suspected that some of the ingredients, when mixed together formed a lethal bacteria.
The Pilgrims mourned Squanto's passing and held a wake lasting more than a week. Of course, Martha was head of the entertainment committee. Soon after, the women began asking Martha for tips for gardening, decorating and cooking. The rest is history.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


It is a little known fact that women have been inventing useful things for years. Unfortunately, it seems that unless you are a mom, or better yet, a single mom, you will most likely remain unknown.

For instance, Mary Anderson was granted her first patent for a window cleaning device in November of 1903. Her invention could clean snow, rain, or sleet from a windshield by using a handle inside the car. Her goal was to improve driver vision during stormy weather - Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper. What would the Internet say? ‘Mom wipes away windshield wetness one stroke at a time.’

Virgie Ammons invented the handle for the fireplace damper. Her patent was issued in 1974 complete with diagrams that explain how the tool ceases damper chatter caused by air pressure in the room or wind coming from outside. However, if it were today, the Internet would boast…’Mom finds cure for ghostly, rattling and whistling sounds.’

Katherine Blodgett’s research on monomolecular coatings with Nobel Prize winning, Dr. Irving Langmuir (for his work in surface chemistry. Hmmm) led her to a revolutionary discovery. She discovered a way to apply the coatings layer by layer to glass and metal. The thin films, which naturally reduced glare on reflective surfaces, when layered to a certain thickness, would completely cancel out the reflection from the surface underneath. This resulted in the world’s first 100% transparent or invisible glass. Ever heard of her? Me either. But today her credit might read, ‘Single mom discovers a way to reduce pesky glare.’

Silver Screen superstar Hedy Lamarr invented a secret communication system in an effort to help the allies defeat the Germans in World War II. The invention, patented in 1941, manipulated radio frequencies between transmission and reception to develop an unbreakable code so that top-secret messages could not be intercepted. What would the Internet say? ‘Mom uses musical notes to send top-secret messages.’

Stephanie Kwolek’s research with high performance chemical compounds led to the development of a synthetic material called Kevlar which is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar, patented by Kwolek in 1966, does not rust nor corrode and is extremely lightweight. Many police officers owe their lives to Stephanie Kwolek, for Kevlar is the material used in bullet proof vests. Other applications of the compound include underwater cables, brake linings, space vehicles, boats, parachutes, skis, marching drumheads and building materials. Well now, this is big stuff. How about… ‘Single mom stumbles upon material stronger than man made of steel.’

It was originally called "mistake out", the invention of Bette Nesmith Graham, a Dallas secretary and a single mother raising a son on her own. Graham used her own kitchen blender to mix up her first batch of liquid paper or white out, a substance used to cover up mistakes made on paper. She happened to be Michael Nesmith’s mom. You remember Michael? He played guitar for the Monkees. Well, you know how the ad would read today…’Single mom discovers way to correct Monkee business.’

You never read ads about single dads doing anything as important as coming up for a formula for whiter teeth or a hauntingly healthy Halloween snacks for toddlers. Why? Hey dads, get busy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unique Lounge Act

Recently, in Newark, Ohio, a 28 year-old-man was arrested for drunk driving. We all know that things like this happen every day in every state. The interesting thing about this incident though, was the fact that he was driving a bar stool. He already had a suspended license and was not supposed to be driving a vehicle, so the logical thing to do, of course, is to weld a lawn mower engine onto a favorite piece of furniture. His favorite happened to be a bar stool…and, voila! Now we’re legal because technically the alleged vehicle is really lounge gear. Well, it seemed to be a good idea at the time. It all began after the fifteenth beer and he had some trouble negotiating a U-turn and crashed while going over twenty miles per hour. He was taken to a local hospital to treat minor injuries.

After doing a bit of research, I found that barstool racing has become quite popular in Wisconsin and you can even purchase motorized bar stools online. No kidding, they offer a 4.5 HP engine, powder coated bar stool with cushion seat, slick racing wheels, disk brakes and a factory warranty. You tube has a video of a V-8 bar stool. Man! You’d have to be very cautious about bellying up to the bar in that.

After studying the picture of the bar stool the man was cited on, it is clear that he was in violation of several obvious safety hazards. No seat belt for one. How on earth does he think he could safely execute a u-turn on this homemade contraption? Drunk, no less. There have been times that I wished I had a seat belt on a bar stool that I was using and I wasn’t even in motion. Another risk is riding backless. And what about an air bag?

If this keeps up, I’m sure the DMV will begin to implement bar stool driving tests. I suppose the test would include making a successful u-turn, handling an unexpected wobble, driving through three inches of peanut shells while negotiating tables and chairs.

I took this picture over to my mechanic today and asked him how much he would charge to pimp my ride. You know, hot pink, forged steel, 360-degree swivel seat, 100% faux leather upholstery on a soft cushiony seat and a wooden backrest with a cherry wood finish. He laughed and said it sounded like a sissy bar stool, and then he said he would need a stool sample.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Enlisting My Brain in Higher Learning

In my ongoing quest for self-betterment and mental health, I am actively following suggestions set forth by my psychiatrist, Dr. Neil Weakly. The following transcript documents the session I had with Dr. Anthony Bennett, a well-know physicist, and Nobel Prize winner.

Dr. Bennett: So, my friend, Dr. Weakly has sent you here?
Me: Yes, he believes my brain is functioning at an extremely slow rate. Because I am at such a low learning level, I am in what is known as the ‘drone zone.’ He says, if it is left unchallenged, my brain may turn off altogether. (quivering voice) The idea of this happening to me is terrifying.
Dr. Bennett: (gazing at me as if I were under a microscope) And you would like to find the optimal state of challenge, stretch your brain, and ultimately be exhilarated by a sense of accomplishment?
Me: Yes!
Dr. Bennett: On the other hand (holding up his left hand), if we tackle learning that is too much of a stretch, you will be in the ‘groan zone’. (He gives me a quirky smile).
Me: Is there some type of IQ test that I can take that will find the right level of challenge in terms of pace, level and precision?
Dr. Bennett: Forget about IQ…it’s bogus. I would like to begin by addressing your reptilean brain.
Me: Excuse me?
Dr. Bennett: There is a center in your brain that carries the legacy of our evolutionary past, with emotions such as fear, anxiety and passion. Depending on which emotion you are tapped into, you can speed up or slow down your learning to a Worm Lizard’s pace.
Me: Oh my God! I had no idea.
Dr. Bennett: Well of course you didn’t. That’s why you’re here. Let’s begin with the theory of the universe.
Me: Really? That’s a stretch. You don’t think that’s a bit advanced for my reptilian brain center?
Dr. Bennett: (giving me a look of disgust) who is the Nobel Prize winner in this room?

Me: You are.
Dr. Bennett: Exactly. (assuming a more comfortable position) If the universe was created from nothing, then nothing has potential that you have never dreamed of before. This brings us to the idea of you.
Me: Okay.
Dr. Bennett: We cannot see two points because they are at zero dimensions. But, if you make a line between the non-points, then there can be a relation between them. Imagine this now.
Me: Does it make a difference how fast the line is going?
Dr. Bennett: It takes no time for the universe from one point to the other. You would have to reduce the speed infinitely, which translates into eternity. (appears bored) Perhaps Dr. Weakly’s suspicions about your brain shutting down are well-founded.
Me: Wait…can there be a negative speed that I don’t know about?

Dr. Bennett: There is a way, through reducing the rate of the line at which potential information can be received; and in this way essentially, have our whole uneaten pie while enjoying a piece of it because we are continually creating the pieces. Do you understand this hypothesis?

Me: (staring blankly) Where did the pie come from? I thought we were talking about lines. Now you have introduced something circular. It’s hard to wrap my brain around two theories at once.

Dr. Bennett: Of course it is, my child. I’m talking about two, zero-dimensional points creating a single dimension. Your question of how it is done is, by way of time reduction, or in other words, is nothing more than stalling. It is not a velocity-dependent line. Time, slowed down, is the sole determining factor of conscious reality. Avoiding my question most likely reveals some emotional disorder or mental illness.

Me: What kind of pie is it? Fruit or cream?

Dr. Bennett: What is so difficult about imagining a cycle? They have beginnings and endings much like the four seasons; and do they not keep repeating themselves?

Me: I had a gift certificate for the Four Seasons once but it expired before I had a chance to use it.

Dr. Bennett: Discard the notion of seeing in the literal sense. If you could see absolutely nothing, it would be the same as if you could see everything simultaneously. With this perspective, creation would require no beginning or ending. Thus, the straight line can travel in any direction, don’t you see?

Me: I have a question.

Dr. Bennett: (looking perturbed) Yes?

Me: When you say reptilian center, what species are you talking about? I mean, there are snakes, lizards, Gila monsters, turtles and crocodiles. And aren’t certain species endangered? Maybe you mean the already extinct reptiles like the, Tonga Ground Stick, or the, Yunnan Box Turtle. Do you? I’m not so sure that I like the idea that a part of my brain is cold-blooded or scaly. I mean, I was just wondering.

Dr. Bennett: Just because there is mental activity going on in your head doesn’t mean that you are thinking. Thinking is hard work. Having a thought doesn’t mean you are thinking either. We all have thoughts. In your case, I would say you are merely rearranging your opinions. Everyone has an opinion, as well as a navel, but it takes a special talent to think properly.

Me: I heard that Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a navel.

Dr. Bennett: Have you ever had a brain scan?

Me: Yes, but it was inconclusive.

Dr. Bennett: Your brain is a physical organ. It is crucially affected by your physical condition and surroundings. The concept of the line and the relation between two points is still in question. Have you formulated an intelligent answer?

Me: So, do you think I should enroll in a line-dancing class?

Dr Bennett: (Staring at me as if I had two reptilian centers) let’s just hope your feet have a mind of their own.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wish I Was Here

With the cost of living constantly going up and the price of gas going even higher, people are finding unique ways of saving money. I read about one woman who invented a bionic bra. It seems, with the simple motion of her breasts, she can create enough power to operate her ipod. I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg though. With research and time, breasts will one day have the ability to produce enough power to run a George Foreman grill. That’s when the real savings will kick in.

Of course, it’s true that humans are more resourceful when it is absolutely necessary. We all know that some women fake orgasms, some men fake finances, but now… families are faking vacations for the purpose of saving money.

Since I had some vacation time saved up, I decided to give the fake vacation a whirl. I chose to savor the sights south of the border, and pretend to go to Mexico. After draping long branches of bougainvillea around the living room, I dragged the picnic table into the center of the room and covered it with my crisp, acrylic, chili peppers tablecloth. A bag of tortilla chips, fresh salsa and a few Jose Ole frozen dinners, and my menu was complete.

I invited by boyfriend along and he helped me cut sponges into sea creature shapes to fill the bathtub for snorkeling. Crazy glue was perfect for sticking on the googly eyes to make the squid look even more life-like. Since my bathtub isn’t very big, we had to take turns snorkeling but fun was had by all.

It took a bit more effort, but we were able to hang a zip-line from the bedroom, through the hallway and into the kitchen. With all the houseplants placed directly beneath the line, it felt as if we were really flying through the jungle’s foliage and we only knocked over one lamp with our tandem experiment.

After we mailed post cards to our friends, we laid out our towels and pretended to relax on the white sands. Everything was going great until he started to complain that there wasn’t a sealing strip of paper across the lid of the toilet seat, ensuring recent sanitation. The mini fridge wasn’t stocked, room service was terrible and there was no Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. I listened to his grievances as long as I could and then reminded him that, mi casa es mi casa, cut our vacation short and sent him home.

Next year, I think we’ll pretend to go to Chicago. All I’ll need is to place a few fans around the house and paste a silhouette of the skyline on the walls. Besides, it’s going to take weeks to get all of the sand from our fake trip to Mexico out of my carpet.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Holidays seem to begin earlier each year. Aisles in the department stores are decorated for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas simultaneously. Stress is in the air, I feel it, and at this particular moment, my wallet is in no physical condition to live out the year without intense wheezing.

As I uploaded this picture of a pumpkin, and even though it’s October… it feels like a pre-mature, e-Jack o-lantern. You would think that after all these years, living with the Julian calendar, I would be used to the celebrations that occur at this time, EVERY YEAR, but no, they always sneak up from behind and surprise me.

For my own sanity, I will tackle one holiday at a time, thank you. Halloween. What is actually being celebrated? Well, originally it was a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. Another Irish story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of those who passed throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. The medical term for this possession is menopause. Celtic villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. Then they would dress up in ghoulish costumes, and parade around the neighborhood, being destructive, in order to frighten the spirits away.

I have unknowingly practiced this ritual for some time. I extinguish all the lights in my house to make it undesirable for the costumed midgets that knock on my door, in search of panhandled treats. It is really for their own good, and for mine. In previous years, I have purchased sweets to hand out, but ended up eating the entire stash myself before a single visitor arrived.

The Jack-o-lantern used to be fashioned from a hollowed-out turnip. That must have been an artistic challenge. It was named after a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard, and tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Then he carved a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. I have to admit, Jack has tricked me too. Yep, he’s a real trickster. Jack Daniels has tricked me onto many a barroom table and forced me to dance. He carved gigantic smiles on the observer’s faces, trapping me on the table.

Anyway, Jack was denied access to heaven because of his evil ways and the devil turned him away too, because it was long before he took anger management classes. He did give Jack a single ember to light his way in the frigid darkness. The hollowed-out turnip was the carrying case that came with it.

It was when the Irish immigrants came to America, that the pumpkin was adopted as Jack’s lantern. It’s a good thing too. Pumpkins are much more colorful when smashed on asphalt. The other name for Halloween this year is, Saturday. So, happy Saturday, whatever you celebrate.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Buying the Farm

I spend a good deal of time in front of the computer. Not only at work as a production control manager, but at home as a writer. I force myself to write something every day, whether it’s a tweet or a blog or just answering e-mails. Granted, I’m not as strict as I used to be. I no longer make me sit in my chair until I write 2,000 words against my 75,000 word novel like I used to, that’s just not good for my hemorrhoids, but I do insist on writing something.

Outside of the glow of my monitors, I try to keep abreast with what is going on with my friends, go to social gatherings even if it is just to have lunch, I accept speaking engagements when offered, volunteer in a local charity organization and sing in a classic rock band.

I would have told anyone that there is absolutely nothing else that I could squeeze into a 24 hour period. Nothing. That was before FarmVille! Yes, having a profile on Twitter and Facebook is great for networking and I have successfully avoided getting involved in the Mafia wars, Vampire wars, YoVille, Rollar Coaster Kingdom, Pirates, Mobsters 2, or Bejeweled Blitz, and I was proud of that. Funny the things you’ll be proud of.

About two weeks ago, my granddaughter invited me to her favorite Facebook place… in FarmVille. Actually, she wanted me to be her neighbor. How could I possibly refuse? Anyone who could look at those sparkling brown eyes and that cute little turned up nose lightly sprinkled with freckles would have to be made of steel to say no.

So now I own a virtual farm. I plow, plant, milk the cows and collect the eggs (from my one chicken). I’m currently on level 5 so I have a fairly small farm, but no house yet, so I pretty much stand in the field all the time. It’s ingenious the way it is set up though…just like real life, everything is done with the click of the mouse. Creating your farmer is fun. You pick the color eyes and hair you want. I gave myself a tan since I spend all of my time outside. You can earn coins for harvesting and selling milk and eggs and then go to the market to buy more seeds for planting. Sometimes someone sends you a gift like a tree, a sheep or a pig. I got a violet bale of hay today. That’s nice.

Extra coins can be earned by visiting your neighbors and helping out on their farm, and I’ve done that, but I do try to stay away from Donna’s farm, even though she is a neighbor. Donna is on level 30! Do you know what that means? She is the friggin’ Walmart of FarmVille. She has a huge farm house, a tractor, a vegetable stand and even has elephants to get the work done. Enough about FarmVille envy though.

I was in a meeting at work today and I was shocked by how preoccupied I was. While I truly tried to focus on our production plan and prioritize shipments, I wondered if my crop of eggplant was ready for harvesting yet. It was at 87 percent at one this morning and I couldn’t remember if I had milked the cows before I shut down my computer. I know I forgot to collect the eggs and those rascal raccoons might come skulking around to pillage again. Crows could be destroying my sweet potatoes and I didn’t have enough money saved to fence the horse in. Man, farm life is tougher than I thought, so much to stress about. And I thought the pressures of Halloween were bad.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Of all the bizarre traits I’ve inherited from my mother, I believe the one that tops my inventory is my inability to say no to salespeople. I’d like to say it’s only the high pressure sales that I am vulnerable to but I have to admit it is probably just about anyone who speaks (not necessarily English) and carries a clipboard.
I’ve stopped taking my car to the dealership for oil changes to avoid being descended upon by the chump whisperers, AKA car salesmen. Twice now, I have taken my car in for an oil change only to drive off the lot in a new car. What’s even more humiliating is that I actually paid for the oil change the first time. What a lesson that was. The second time it happened, I absolutely refused to pay for the oil change on my trade in.

Two years ago, I went to a well-known dance studio just to brush up on my east coast swing and was held hostage in a sales room by two salesmen (overkill for me). I literally had to dance my way out. I ended up signing up for the platinum package which included learning the dances from the Italian renaissance, Baroque, Victorian Era and 19th and 20th century dances. I learned to dance the Waltz, Gallop, Polka, Schottische, Fox Trot, Horse Trot, Kangaroo Hop, Duck Waddle, Squirrel, Chicken Scratch, Turkey Trot, Grizzly Bear, Castle Walk and Maxixe. I’m still waiting to hear back from Animal Planet regarding that guest appearance.
I don’t go to the mall anymore because it takes too much energy to walk past the kiosks offering jewelry, photos on mugs, sunglasses and dollar-a-minute massage. One word, one smile, one wave, pulls me in like the gravitational draw of the earth on the moon. I get trapped in a dimple of time and space, orbit a few turns and predictably land to make the purchase.
Last year, I took a workshop in assertiveness training in hopes to learn to say no to salespeople. What I didn’t realize is all I really needed to do is study the interaction between the sun and human influences. No kidding. The medical community has known for decades that positive airborne ions increase human moods and activity.
A.L. Tchijevsky, a Russian professor of Astronomy and Biological Physics, noticed that 80% of the most significant human events occurred during maximum sunspot activity. The solar connection to terrestrial events has been studied by scientists for decades but only recently has the focus been put on the effects that solar cycles have on human behavior.
Armed with this valuable knowledge, I am able to coordinate my activities with the aid of this fantastic new sensor I purchased. This sun monitoring system or, D.U.M. (Detecting Ultraviolet Meter) has a compact design, ultra low frequencies, and will monitor geomagnetic pulsations to alert me of solar flares (sunspots) which lower my resistance to sales pitches.
You might be interested to know that we are at the beginning of Solar Cycle 24, which will increase over the next four to six years. It is my responsibility to interpret this information and respond in the most logical way. I figure it won’t be safe for me to subject myself to potential sales threats until the year 2015.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Time Lapse

Last week I was invited to a time management seminar. I wasn’t able to attend but the question haunted me. Time management? Really? I began to wonder. Can time really be managed? That question kept repeating in my mind until evening when I went to bed. It took me awhile to get to sleep. The debate kept rolling over and over in my mind like a pair of pants in the dryer, with a quarter in one pocket.

I finally drifted off and found myself dreaming about it. I had been given the assignment of disassembling Big Ben and the sending parts out for cleaning. I took my job very seriously and demanded to see Sir Benjamin Hall, who ordered the original fourteen-ton bell in 1859. Of course, no one could put me in touch with him and I was incensed. I decided Big Ben was behind the times and searched out a new bell maker. Since I knew that the Swiss make incredibly accurate time pieces, I contacted Axel Acklin, whom I was told, comes from a long line of watchmakers and was now employed by Ryser Kentfield, one of the most well-known watchmakers in Switzerland. I felt the best way to get him on board was to show him a good time, so I hired Kala who told me her name means ‘time’ in Sanskrit. She said my request was untimely, but would see what she could do. In less than two shakes of a lamb’s tail, Axel was on the job.

Not only was he the best craftsman that money could buy, he had a thick-as-molasses Swiss accent that was extremely difficult to understand. I asked him to use his best English and he reached out and slapped me across the face. I expected to hear a smacking sound but instead it sounded like the bell that ends a round in a boxing match.

Suddenly, he was like a drill sergeant shouting out directives in perfect English. The strange thing is, he yodeled after each order.
“Hey you! 60 minutes! You might be famous on CBS, but around here you work for me! I want that big hand to be dismantled inside of an hour! And you! Sixty seconds! You may have waltzed for a minute with Chopin, but I expect you to fox trot around here, and for a whole lot longer! You, time over there, don’t start thinking you’re special because people believe you heal things! Yeah right, I suspect it’s the antibiotics. Think you’re a big shot do you? Just because you have an American magazine named after you? And where the hell did the day go? Probably out brooding about his bad hair. Has anyone ordered him to have a nice one? Come on you bunch of Nannos, is your hourglass half empty or half full?! It’s showtime, where is everyone? I’m going call attendance and when I do, you better say say present!”

I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. I could see that Axel was taking my job into realms that would have caused Sir Benjamin Hall to roll over in his grave. Big Ben had now been replaced with a Swiss Chalet Cuckoo clock complete with hand-carved figures of alp climbers in leiderhosen, beer maidens, farmers, cows and roosters. On the hour, a great green Cuckoo bird emerged from the gigantic doors and emitted a deafening cuckoo sound followed by a music box version of The Happy Wanderer.

I was aghast at the disrespect Axel had shown to one of England’s most cherished landmarks. He laughed like a sinister villain and confessed that he didn’t work for Ryser Kentfield at all, but was really a member of The Black Forest Society and had plans to steal all time from the world. Big Ben would now be known as Big Cuckoo!
Of course, I was mobbed by angry Englishmen and tossed onto the street hungry and timeless. I was begging for spare time and living in a cardboard Timex box. I was nearly unconscious when a light appeared in front of me and a figure emerged.

He said his name was Sir Benjamin Hall and he put a hand on my shoulder. His touch was electric. He asked me a question. “Can time really be gained, beat, killed, marked, kept, gained, lost, borrowed, multiplied, pressed, small, big, behind, out, in, taken, parted, filled, right, wrong, ahead of us, or managed?”

I tried to answer but all that came out of my mouth was the sound of a cuckoo.

He smiled warmly and asked, “You have a lifetime, but are you having the time of your life?”
That’s when I awoke and smiled. I finally had my answer.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Third Eye Lasik

I have been made painfully aware of my much-too-concerned attitude about my physical body and social conformity. Just the other day, I was having lunch in a local café when I looked up and noticed a man was staring at me. The strange thing was that he was not looking at me through the two holes in his face that we know as eyes. He was actually gawking at me through his third eye! As if that wasn’t enough, I clearly heard his thoughts inside my own head. He was telling me that I was mentally unsteady, lacked focus and had a dread fear of amnesia. He screamed for me to just forget about what I can’t remember. I was so offended that I flicked a forkful of cole slaw at him, targeting his brow area. It worked. His spiritual vision was blocked. The café manager quickly escorted me out, but I managed to yell at the smarmy, third-eye peeping Tom, that he should have more respect for the chakra handicapped. I’m just glad I stopped him before his inner eye revealed my fear of being evaluated negatively in social situations.
It is common knowledge that we have physical and non-physical senses. Of course, I have a very strong fifth sense about these things, but activating my third-eye or what some call, the brow chakra, has been a very arduous task. I have tried gazing into the flame of a candle for an hour or two, calming my thoughts, watching my cat’s eyes to establish a meditative state and even staring at my face in the bathroom mirror for prolonged periods. It was hard to keep a straight face during this exercise, and giggling interfered with my inner peace. I felt superior when I noticed that my reflection blinked first and reveled in the victory until I realized that my ego was becoming much too involved and turned the session into an undesirable competition.
It was this state that brought me to Swami Kapesh Kumar. I found his ad in the personals while searching for my soul mate. Swami Kumar has perfected a surgical procedure as an alternative to activating the third eye by means of meditation. It involves the use of a ball-peen hammer. With one swift, forceful and nearly painless tap, he is able to dislodge the third eye from its lazy status and instantly create a glittering star-studded aura. The giddiness usually wears off within an hour after awakening, and is followed by an overwhelming sense of well-being. The only drawback is the red dot located just above the bridge of the nose. He says it should fade in time. I’ve seen this dot on middle-eastern women before, but I had no idea it was the result of third-eye lasik surgery.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What we have hee-ah is a fail-yah to communicate".
This is one of my favorite movie lines from, ‘Cool Hand Luke’.
Recently, I read an article saying faulty communication is the biggest stumbling block in relationships, and in business. Another article said there is such a thing as too much communication. Can they both be right?
I decided to do a little research on the Art of Communication and found that there is a lot more involved than just imparting information.
Take these examples of actual headlines for instance:
Tiger Woods plays with own balls, Nike says.
Caskets Found as Workers Demolish Mausoleum
Poison Control Center Reminds Everyone Not to Take Poison
Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons
One-Armed Man Applauds Kindness of Strangers
Now, we all know what the reporter meant, but when you look at it in print, well…
The same thing happens when people speak too quickly. It’s called a slip of the tongue. Suppose your boss wants to introduce you to an important new client. You’ve been warned that Mr. Rose has an extremely large nose and you must not stare or refer to it in any way. What’s the first thing out of your mouth when you meet him? Uh-huh. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Nose.”
Then there is the non-verbal, demonstrative type of communication which is often amusing. This is mostly performed by mimes or those who believe that showing is better than telling. Of course, when someone can insert a fist (preferably their own) in their mouth, that’s all anyone attending the party will remember about them.
Communication requires a wide range of skills such as, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating. In fact, it is only through communication that collaboration and cooperation occur. The United States has a whole department set up for the purpose of imparting and regulating the communication sent out via radio, tv, wire, satellite and cable. If it’s important enough for the government to get involved, it must be pretty darned important. Not to mention the vast array of classes offered to improve your writing and communication skills using PowerPoint, spread sheet applications and shadow puppets. Cornel University engages in the fundamental study and application of communication science. Wow.
Miscommunication opens up what is known as the triangle of conflict…Fear (What if?), assumptions believed as truth, (ass-u-me), what to do? (duh)
I recently experienced the triangle of conflict when performing the simple task of ordering a farewell cake for a dear friend.
I neglected to read the following words on the order form: Print EXACTLY what you would like on the top of the cake. And although she mispelled underneath, obviously, based on my communication, the baker was just doing her job.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

About Face

Ever have one of those days when everything looks just the way you like? Your face powder doesn’t settle into last year’s worry lines, your eye shadow blends seamlessly from lid to brow and your lipstick stays glossy all through mealtime? Well, yesterday wasn’t one of those days for me.
Let’s start out by asking, why do they call it make-up anyway? Isn’t that something you do after a particularly destructive occurrence? Is that what we’re starting out with? A negative event? I do battle my tendencies for self-criticism, which often border on torture, but I don’t need anyone else chiming in.
I woke up with bags under my eyes big enough to handle a ten-day cruise. After splashing cold water on my face and gently dabbing it dry with a towel made of long-staple, Egyptian cotton, I noticed that not only had the bags not reduced in size, but my crows feet had turned into a wrinkle fest. I quickly seized my natural, anti-aging, soothing, soft, firming, daily moisturizer, promising to banish eye bags; I pumped a large glob into my palm. After working it into the combat zone, I noticed that the wrinkles had truly vanished but now it looked like I had a copious water balloon beneath each eye. Damn, why did I stop doing my yogic eye exercises? I began to squint and release and did ten sets of ten. I ended by squeezing my eyes tightly shut and counting to forty, but before I could open my eyes, my boyfriend walked in. I heard a deep belly laugh that is usually reserved for the Jackass movies. I’ll allow him to make-up for this later.
The loose powder I applied clung to the, way-too-much moisturizer, and I was left looking like Mr. Magoo gone geisha. I had to keep moving. I applied my sunbaked brown eye shadow, using the applicator like a mason’s trowel. My lids ended up looking like painted cement. I ignored it. I only had twenty minutes before I had to leave. I quickly opened my cheekers blush compact and the brush slipped out and fell into the sink. Know what happens when you apply blush with a wet brush? Raggedy Ann! I was on a roll. Now I applied my midnight-black, waterproof, lengthening, volumizing, maximizing, mascara. I had just finished the last touch when without warning, I sneezed. Now I looked like Jan Crouch without a bible.
I was stymied. No pun intended. It only took five minutes to remove the mascara, wash my face, and pull my hair back into a ponytail. Days like these are why God made designer sunglasses.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't Contaminate the Crash Site

Have you ever had a computer crash? Well, let me tell you, from my own experience it isn’t pretty. I must say though, I now know more about what not to do than what to do in a computer emergency. I know I won’t perform CPU on my CPU (central processing unit)… ever again. Yelling at a computer will give you a whole new category in feelings of powerlessness. Watching as data slips away can be a frightening encounter but hitting the keyboard will do nothing more than tip over your bowl of corn chowder. By the way, it is impossible to blow corn chowder out of a computer keyboard. It was at that exact moment that the tower began to grind and squeal. It must have been the sound of the head whatchamacallit ramming into the spinning platter that stores stuff. After my tenth attempt at rebooting, I must have caused more damage. At least, that is what Franklin, my computer doctor said. My visit went something like this:
Franklin: Can you describe what was happening when your computer broke down?
Me: I had just finished talking on the phone to my friend, Rita about her overactive bladder. She says her bladder muscles contract inappropriately if you can believe that. Her doctor wants to put her on an antidepressant to paralyze the muscles but the side effects are scary. Blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, insomnia…I think I’d rather pee my pants.
Franklin: I mean, what was your computer doing when it stopped operating?
Me: Oh, well I went to look up the website for the bladder foundation. I remember reading that you could remedy an ailing bladder with pelvic floor exercises. I think she should also consider a holistic approach and start taking Butterbur supplements. I laughed.That reminds me of Barliman Butterbur, you know, the owner of Inn of the Prancing Pony in Lord of the Rings?
Franklin: Then what did you do?
Me: When?
Franklin: When you searched the website.
Me: Oh yeah. Everything froze…even my mouse.
Franklin: And then?
Me: After turning the damn thing off, I rattled off cuss words until I completely ran out. Finally, I said a prayer and then anointed it.
Franklin: With what?
Me: Well, I didn’t think oil would be good for it and I didn’t have any holy water so I spit on it.
Franklin: So, you committed violence against your computer. Me: Oh, for God’s sake. Are you going to turn me in? Can’t you help me find the little black box that explains why the crash happened?
Franklin: This isn’t a plane crash.
Me: Okay, what about checking with the Sacred Hall of Computer Records or a scanning device of some kind?
Franklin: There is no sacred hall, there are no special tricks to research what led up to the crash unless I can look at it, and the only records for your computer would be inside it.
Me: So, it’s like a really big brain with information stored in different areas?
Franklin: Baby Brain.
Me: Excuse me?
Franklin: I’m assuming you are using a desktop PC.
Me: Well, it’s sitting on my desk, yes.
Franklin: Baby Brain.
I felt my chest tighten and my lower lip began to quiver.
Me: I feel like I’m locked in a big dark box and the directions for getting out are written on the outside. What I need is for you to read them to me, loud and clear in language that a five-year-old child could understand.
Franklin: My five-year-old daughter would have diagnosed the problem and had the computer up and running by now.
It took me a few moments to compose myself.
Me: Alright, Franklin, I’m going to draw a chalk line around this disaster. You just get over here and charge me your $100 an hour. But you better install an airbag because I’m never going to go through another crash like this again.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Inertial Informercial

I have a terrible habit of falling asleep in front of my television, spooning the remote. I suppose there are worse habits, and I wish it stopped there, but it doesn't. I usually come-to, around 3 am, when the cable station is showing one of those paid informercials. That's where all the trouble begins. Well, actually it began about thirty years ago when I woke up to Joe Karbo talking about becoming a millionaire, The Lazy Man's Way. The idea stuck in my brain like a day-old Cheerio to a porcelain cereal bowl. Far from the tiresome advice of staying focused and hungry. It is so much more appetizing to be well-fed and lazy. Earn money while you sleep...lose weight while you sleep...subliminal tapes that teach you the secret of positive thinking that only a few know. I love it. Count me in!
Last night, I woke up to, Shapely Secrets. It's a seven-minute motionless exercise program. My eyes snapped open like they were spring-loaded. There were women of all shapes and sizes giving testimonials about how this program sculpts their bodies in only 7 minutes a day, in a perfectly motionless way. My mind screamed, I can do that! It's five times more effective than a 40 minute work-out. Yes! You lose fat, never muscle. Yes! Imagine being a whole size smaller in just fourteen days. Yes! You just stand still and don't move. Yes! Yes! Yes! I felt like Meg Ryan in, When Harry Met Sally.
Now, mind you, I have ordered exercise equipment, videos and dieting books, all promising the same results, and if I added them all up, I would estimate I have lost somewhere in the neighborhood of three-thousand dollars. Suddenly, the voice of reason, at least I think that's what it was because I'm not very familiar with that voice, told me not to go back into that neighborhood. Not without back-up. For once, I listened, and I resisted the urge to pick up the phone and order this time. I was so excited, I felt like finding a 12-step group to report my success. Do they even have IA? Informercials Anonymous?
Of course, my excitement was short-lived. I just signed up for a, Laughter Yoga class. It teaches you to destress your body by laughing, without truly laughing. Ha! You're actually able to produce that thin film of tears which are squeezed from the lachrymal sacs during the act of laughter...or getting your taxes prepared. No strain, no pain.
I guess I'm just hooked on finding the easier, softer ways.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I wonder if there are statistics on how much time people spend wondering. Admittedly, we’ve really cut down wondering time what with cell phones, e-mail, infrared night vision cameras, miniature magnetic-mount motion-activated weatherproof GPS devices, fish-eye peep holes, caller ID and audio monitoring kits . We really don’t have to make Aunt Gert wonder where we are when we can just call or send an e-mail with a photo attachment of our recent visit to Woo La La Chinese Cafe.
I heard somewhere that genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger. Well, let me tell you, with all of the negative things I was told while growing up, my mental firearm is far more dangerous than any M16 assault rifle and should never be given too much time to wonder. Still, mild wondering is something I do enjoy; at least until it becomes unstable and someone gets hurt. It starts something like this.
I wonder where he is? He isn’t answering his cell phone. I’ll bet he forgot to charge it again, or maybe it’s off. Hmmm.
Maybe he e-mailed me. I log on and scroll through the offers to whiten my teeth by 7 shades and pills that will correct my erectile dysfunction. I look briefly at an approval for government funding. But then, who isn’t being funded these days? Still another one catches my eye. This one is for pomegranate juice that promises to cleanse 15 lbs of undigested food from my intestines. I’d love to lose 15 pounds. I wonder if that detox foot patch really extracts deadly toxins from your system.
I check my cell phone. No voice messages or texts. I look at the clock again and wonder if it’s right. I call for the time. Maybe he thinks I’m still at work. I access my work voice mail and the only message is from my boss wondering why I left early.
What a fool I am to believe he would follow through. As if I’m the only girl in town. I’ll bet he collected several numbers at that party we were at last week-end. After all, an attractive man like that doesn’t need to be accountable to one girl and believe you me, that darn redhead went for him like a duck on a junebug. I anxiously picked up the phone to check the dial tone. I call my girlfriend, Cindy, “don’t ask me to explain, just call me right back.” I hung up. Seconds later, my phone rang. “Hello? Yes, I was just wondering if my phone was working.”
He spent a long time talking to that tart, Pam at the party too. I could picture him at her place right at this very moment, sitting with her on the couch and talking about how I squeezed in between them on the leather sectional sofa. I swear, I thought the other end would lift up with all of us huddled together like that. I’ll bet they can scarcely contain their laughter. I scroll through my cell numbers and select Pam. She answers. “Hi Pam, I was thinking of having some people over on Saturday. Are you available? Yeah, it is short notice. That’s too bad. Okay, well how about tonight? Are you doing anything tonight…with anyone? I mean I was wondering if you are with anyone. No? Okay, thanks.”
I suddenly remembered my locker-mate at the gym. Marcia was one of those addicted to working out, and purging every last calorie of her uncooked plant food. He mentioned how good Marcia looked when he met me at the gym earlier this week. I wonder if he’s there with her right now. I call the gym and ask them to page him. He’s not there.
I went to my closet and dug out my poster of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and put it on the wall next to the front door, yes, it’s a well-placed reminder for him, if he ever comes back. There are sooooo many whacko’s out there. One glance at this picture is equivalent to at least ten sessions of couple’s therapy.
Maybe he was trying to call when I was checking to see if the phone was working or when I called Pam, or the gym. I wonder if I missed the call waiting beep.
This wondering is getting absurd! Who does he think he is anyway? Making me wonder like this! Now I’ve wondered out too far and made myself miserable.
I don’t care if he ever calls again! I’m just going to go about my normal evening routine. I fixed myself a sandwich and ate in front of the TV. I washed my hair and put on some densifying treatment for fine and limp hair then coiled some plastic wrap around my head. I was just getting interested in my TIVO recording of Dexter when my doorbell rang.
I looked through my fish-eye peephole to see him standing there with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He had a bottle of wine too. I wondered what crappy thing he had done that he thought a handful of daisies and a bottle of Two-Buck-Chuck would make up for. I yanked the door open wide so he could see the anger on my face. He jerked back when he saw me and the poster of Glenn Close. He glanced at his watch and frowned.
“Am I early? I thought you invited me for dinner at seven.”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm Driving Me Crazy

I’ve always prided myself on being an honest person, for the most part. I mean, there are those little white lies you tell, “sorry I’m late, I forgot about the time change,” or, “my, that dress makes you look ten pounds lighter.” I like to think of it as being thrifty with the truth. Whatever.
Last year, I was notified that I would need to report to the DMV, to renew my driver’s license. I was a little perturbed by this because they had been renewing it through the mail for twelve years. I was perfectly content with keeping that particular photo, no matter how old I had become.
So, after waiting over an hour in a long line, listening to sighs and complaints, I reached the clerk at the counter. She looked at my application and asked, “Is all of your information the same?”
I was about to say yes, but some unseen force commanded me to say, “No.”
She looked up. “What has changed?”
I hadn’t changed my weight from the time I applied for my very first driver’s license, at age sixteen. My license claimed I was a lithe, one hundred and fifteen pounds. I figured if I ever had an accident, they would be looking all over for me, underneath the fat woman.
"My weight."
She blinked, and stared at me for a long moment. “What weight should I put down for you?”
“145.” I lied again! I had actually topped my single birth maternity weight, and was pushing for twins.
If the DMV were smart, they would have a scale with a billboard-size display. You would be fined for every pound exceeded on your driver’s license. Not to mention, everyone in the building could see what you weigh. It sure would take care of the state’s financial deficit. And obesity would be a thing of the past.
Of course, I had to pose for a new photo, damn it. I’ve always wondered why they don’t offer finger-size peanut butter sandwiches before they take the shot. This way, when you’re sucking in your cheeks and using your tongue to scrape the peanut butter off the roof of your mouth, they could get an even more attractive photo than they already do.
Know what’s ironic? My doctor finally convinced me to lose weight by threatening me with cholesterol medication. So, now I’m down to one hundred and twenty pounds. That’s only five pounds away from the original weight on my license. Just goes to show, you should let sleeping dogs lie.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Touring the Brain of an ADD writer

I’d like to walk you through uncontrolled and dangerous territory. No need to fasten your seatbelts, or keep your arms and legs confined to a specific area before the tour comes to a complete halt. Just sit back, in the comfort of your own thoughts, and know that you are safe, secure and protected.

Directly in front of you is a cranium that contains a bizarre collection of, linear vs holistic, logical vs intuitive, and reality-based vs fantasy-oriented processes, that are overly ripe for picking. On the left, you will find the region that functions as a splitter, it’s logical, sees cause and effect, and responds to verbal instructions. On the right, is a lumper. It sees the big picture. This region prefers open-ended questions, is fluid and spontaneous, fancies illusive and uncertain information, and would rather have a hot poker shoved into its soft gray flesh than to follow any type of instruction.

Notice the lush vastness on the right, as opposed to the miniscule, desolate, terrain on the left. This harsh difference is most commonly found in the brain of a fiction writer. Of course, there are unique occasions, where small as it is, the left region will rise up in ambush-fashion, and arrange what the right region considers a brilliant idea into logical, and sequential order. Crap, reality intrudes.

Please proceed to the collection of ideas located in the right hemisphere. Notice how random they are, how they flit from one tack to another.
Let’s observe a few:
Never store nuclear waste in a shoe box. Even if you're not arrested, it will stink up your clothes.

When driving away negative energies, make them buckle up in the back seat while you chant, "I want to be judged for my unseen intentions." Your problems will soon disappear.

Never whack a family member in the head with a 5-iron. It will definitely throw your game off.

Why do they make magnifying mirrors? Aren’t we scary enough without exaggerating facial blemishes?

It’s best not to dwell in this region too long or operate heavy machinery for at least one hour after your visit. An overextended stay may produce unwanted side effects such as, rawness of throat, nausea, fever, giddiness, headache, severe stomach cramps and sharp pains in the neck.

Let’s move on to the left region, the master planner and scheduler.

Don’t let the coffin lid hit you in the face on the way down.

Okay, that’s enough out of the right side. Pay no attention, if you don’t encourage it, chances are, in seconds it will forget you were ever here.

As I said, the left side is responsible for logical, concrete processing. Let’s have a look at the approach it uses for writing:

Everyone dies.
No one knew that better. He had seen first-hand the unyielding power of the reaper’s will. It wasn’t the reaper who tugged at him now, however. It was the deadly toxin that was rapidly being absorbed into his digestive tract.
The cold wind flattened his pant legs against his shins. An icy ache rankled his teeth. He jerked the edges of his coat tightly around his middle. His heart battered a rabbit-quick rhythm against his chest. Pain ripped up through his abdomen and brought him to a standstill.
With panic stricken eyes, he looked around for help. It was ridiculous to think anyone would be on the street at this hour. Nausea overwhelmed him.
He pressed his hand over his mouth. He couldn’t feel it. He couldn’t feel anything. His fingers were numb. He retched twice and then compelled himself to keep moving, feeling only a great sense of revulsion and wrongness.
Trees loomed, posing black and claw-like as he passed beneath. Swaying in the gale, they seemed to mock him as he reached out to them for support. He thought he heard them rustling their leaves, whispering, “Poor tiny man. Foolish little man.”

Always keep your pockets free of any flavor pudding.

Uh-oh, the right side has become bored. It would be useless to continue once these types of intrusions begin. Please exit in an orderly fashion, and return soon, as ideas are updated regularly. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you again. Oh, and don’t forget to tip your waiter on the way out.

Excerpt from, 'Initials For Murder', by Venita Louise, available at, The Authors Lounge.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Meditation For Dummies

We all know the damage that can be caused by stress. I read about an obscure study conducted several years ago, that just by saying the words, "Mother-in-law", to couples in counseling, caused measurable tissue damage. I can only imagine the devastation that could be caused by coming into contact with the real thing.

I've decided to practice daily meditation, to counterbalance the increasing amount of anxiety and stress that everyday living continually piles on. Unfortunately, I'm finding there are vast, conflicting opinions and methods of meditation. Now I've started to develop anxiety about which type of meditation to practice. Let's see, so far my list includes, Zen, Buddhism, kundalini awakening, chi, chakras, paranormal metaphysical, and just plain relaxation. I wish there was a particular meditation to deal with this type of indecision.

Investigating deeper, revealed things that I have never really connected to my neuromotor activities, as well as my sensory and motor functions. The breath, for one, I often take for granted. In, out, in, out. But that isn't the half of it. It seems the nostrils influence the body chemistry. The right nostril is solar, or heating, and the left is lunar, or cooling, increasing alkaline secretions. It just keeps going, and going, and going...Ah-hem. Anyway, the nose is an instrument for altering brain activity. So, okay, I'm having a difficult day, putting me in an emotional state. All I have to do, is alter the flow of the nasal breath, or breathe through the more congested nostril. Simple. There also seems to be a relationship between the nostrils and the lunar cycles. This means, my right...or masculine nostril will be the dominate one on Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday. My left...or feminine nostril is the dominate one for the remaining days of the week. This is interesting. Why does the feminine nostril have an extra day of work? How can I be sure the nostril of the day is performing to its full potential? I have learned that this can be accomplised with a bimonthly nostril check. Left undetected, a low performing nostril can cause all sorts of nasty physiological or psychological problems. One should become alert and act according to the operating nostril. It may be necessary to change nostrils.This can be accomplished by plugging the dominate nostril. I recommend the oak cork over the rubber cork. It just smells nicer. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to change nostrils before job hunting or going on a first date. No sense risking an embarrasing episode.

I plan to begin my new regimen just as soon as I am able to decide if I should start immediately or wait until the nostril changes. In the meantime, I will practice my dad's meditation. It's called the corpse posture. Settle back in the living room recliner, turn on the television, allow your jaw to drop and breathe in through the mouth, and out through the mouth, breathe in, breathe out. Such a relaxing noise.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fear of the Day

Newspapers, television and radio bombard us daily with tales of disaster, destruction and disease…the three D’s. I’m not the suspicious type but I sometimes wonder if terror, the goal, is being created by the day after day bombardment of the media. Terrorists, yes that’s the word. It’s as if they believe we need detailed instruction in how to create first-class anxiety because the normal, basic worries we all experience are just not promising enough to produce the sensible panic-making state of mind we are being taught to live in. Let’s face it; worrying about noises in the night, buying the right gift for someone, getting a speeding ticket, making a first impression or whether your breath is bad just doesn’t create the optimum trepidation necessary to survive in the twenty-first century.

The secret of being truly fearful is tackling the front page, the top of the hour or the CNN morning news. The Feds are trying to prepare for the imminent bird flu disaster, millions will die, NYC officials prepare for subway attack, thousands will die, countless illegal immigrants continue pouring over the borders leaving us more vulnerable than ever to terrorists entering the country, hundreds will die. On a personal note, if you haven’t arranged to have a full-body medical scan you are most likely suffering from an undetected terminal illness, and you will die. And in case you’ve relaxed a little more than you should have during the day, there’s always the eleven o’clock news edition to reestablish the imperative massive flood of adrenalin that your vital organs marinade in.

Can we safely assume that we are receiving the proper doses of apprehension to maintain the phobic qualities that are so prevalent today? Let’s turn to a publication of The Journal of The American Medical Association to find out. About fourteen million Americans had a serious depressive episode in the last year. Thirty five million have experienced such depression over their lifetimes. Many people worry about the rapid growth in psychiatric medication of Americans, especially the young. The increase in Americans receiving treatment for depression is striking.

In my opinion, as we age, our bodies show the classic effects of long-term exposure to Adrenaline. The older person has developed a feeling of detachment from reality, as if observing but not participating in life and it’s as if everything is happening in slow motion. The trouble is, young people do not understand what is happening to them. They start thinking something is psychologically wrong with them. The adrenaline cycle makes them think they are going crazy. Adrenaline can produce some very unusual effects, and they are natural. The mechanisms are there to help you survive in dangerous situations. Could having a constant supply of Adrenaline be a stumbling block to our biological defenses?

I’ve decided to provide a service for those who find it necessary to remain in a continuous state of angst and supply a Fear of the Day; which will supersede the need for turning to the media terrorists to provide fodder for daily doses. Of course, the Fear of the Day will lower the amount of Adrenaline the normal person is accustomed to in the hopes of offering a small, but constant amount of rehabilitation. Expect the typical symptoms of withdrawal from dread. Don’t let this deter you. Just look at the list provided and pick your favorite….

Fear of the Day:
1. Someone at the office has come across your personal ad on an Internet Dating Service and tacked it up on the lunchroom bulletin board.

2. The laughter you hear behind you is definitely directed toward you.

3. Your company is advertising in the help wanted section of a trade paper for your position.

4. Your phone line is tapped and everything you’re saying is being recorded, and will be used in court against you.

5. Hardly anyone is going to be foolish enough to like you.

6. The bland smile offered by the grocery checker is masking their craving to wrench a plastic bag over your head.

7. Your therapist shares your secrets with other patients. They laugh.

8. Your Accountant is planning on retiring and moving to South America with your money.

9. Remember…you’re always the one who gets hurt.

10. The waiter at your favorite restaurant secretly despises you and spits in your salad at every opportunity.

11. Microwaves emitted from ovens produced prior to August, 2005 are destroying thousands of your brain cells each second.

12. Think of all the things you could buy with what you pay in taxes each year. Your taxes will be more this year due to the audit.

13. You know who you are. Everybody knows. They’re all looking at you.

14. The office bathroom has a two-way mirror.

15. Why on earth would anyone want to talk to you?

16. That red car you see each morning on your way to work is driven by the murderous stalker that has evaded the police for the past six months and now has his sights set on you.

17. The poorly sealed windshield on your car may implode, enveloping you in shards of glass.

18. Every minor infraction of the law that you have ever committed has been posted on the Internet.

19. Soon, everyone you know will be younger and more successful than you.

20. Your spouse thinks sex with you is totally unsatisfying.

21. The few acquaintances you know are determined to brainwash you.

22. Your best friend thinks you are evil.

23. That creaking noise you hear in your bedroom at night is an escapee from an insane asylum hiding in your closet.

24. The possibility of being sexually assaulted increases in the late evening while watering your lawn.

25. You bore people to death with all your problems.

26. You were mixed up with another baby at the hospital. That is not your family.

27. You didn’t forward that chain letter. A hideous-looking zombie is going to rape and kill you.

28. You forgot to turn off a drippy faucet and now the water is running over the sides of the sink and drowning your carpets and furniture.

29. The airbag in your car is defective and will deploy, breaking your nose.

30. It’s not who you are, it’s who you don’t know.

31. That’s not really whipped cream the kid at Starbucks puts on your Frappuccino.

There. That’s enough to keep you busy for a whole month. Enjoy!