Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tarts, Sours, and Crème de Poo Poo

I saw children in the Walmart aisle today, laughing and pointing up at the familiar February landmarks. Their father glumly followed after them, glancing up at the big red hearts suspended from the ceiling.
Valentine’s Day is hard to miss, with reminders stuck on every window. Must buy… candy, cards, flowers, jewelry… or suffer the consequences, which of course would be at the least a big, fat, guilt trip or a wound big enough to need treatment by an electric cauterizing wand. I read sometime back that a woman killed her thoughtless husband with a single blow from a 16” enamel, cast-iron, Panini pan. You wouldn’t want to suffer death by cookware, would you guys?
It’s come to this, the words I love you, mean nothing more than paper or plastic. That is, paper meaning money, and plastic equals’ gift card. When did love turn into, “if you really loved me, you’d…?” Buy me a, diamond, take me to Oistins fish fry in Barbatos, or how about a CL550 Mercedes? When presented with these options, it isn’t so hard to pick out a mushy greeting with a $ card for itunes, now is it? A word to the wise…come along peacefully.
When I start sponging up the feelings that commercialism tends to project…you're nobody till somebody loves you…I dig into my home improvements file, and pull out my divorce papers. Incidentally, I received my final papers from Van Nuys court, in the mail on a certain Valentine’s Day, years ago. No kidding. I imagine some court clerk laughing maniacally and calculating the correct date to mail out hundreds of final decrees so recipients would receive them on that particular Valentine’s Day. Thanks.
If the divorce papers don’t work, I remember the special Valentine’s Day when I received an oak toilet seat, which was just one of the grounds leading up to the divorce in the first place. I was a good sport about it though. I installed it in the oval room where it still resides.
The history channel claims Valentine’s Day is marked by the beginning of birds mating season. This confirms my suspicions that Valentine’s Day is truly for the birds. If you want to know more about the history of Valentine’s Day, just click on this link:
You will learn about the Roman ‘lottery’ system that paired couples. I believe this ritual has been resurrected by sites such as,,, and e-harmony.
St. Valentine was beheaded in the year 269 A.D. or thereabouts. But it just goes to show you, whether you lose your head over love or get struck by a cast-iron Panini pan…you just can’t win.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Building Self-Esteem With My Bare Hands and Dr. Weakly

It’s time to get down to brass tacks and find out why I keep shooting myself in the emotional foot. I want to address my neurosis once and for all. It’s time to do away with low self-esteem and repression and begin to feel good about myself. Since I like people, 28 % of the time, and I consider myself public-spirited, I have decided to share my process with anyone it may benefit.
Following are the actual transcripts of my recent visit with my Psychiatrist, Dr. Neil Weakly:

Dr. Weakly: Let’s assume your self-esteem is just not what it needs to be right now.
Me: I think we can safely assume that.
Dr. Weakly: There are a few things you can do to improve your self-esteem.
Me: That’s why I’m here.
Dr. Weakly: What we have to do is get you to put on your self-esteem colored glasses, set goals that will make your life a wondrous adventure and weed out those deep-rooted inadequate self-conceptions. You must believe that you can rid yourself of that debilitating anxiety and self-defeating behavior. You may not even be a person that people enjoy being around. You’re probably disorganized and don’t manage your time well. You may sit quietly and let other people do all the talking. This could literally put you in a position that is one mishap or stupid decision away from a complete emotional breakdown or worse. You’re not alone. I have many patients who look down and think how skinny their legs are. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of people are short but they don’t let that interfere with their self-image. Compared to successful people, you may feel as if your life is insignificant, but being indecisive isn’t as serious as you may think. If you continue to believe that you aren’t an attractive woman, you’re a sitting duck for any neurosis.
Me: (Crying) But what can I do about this horrible mess that I am?
Dr. Weakly: Now see? Stop referring to yourself as a mess. I mean, even if your hair is sort of a train wreck, and you have large pores and oily skin, you must acknowledge your strengths. Even though nothing you do is good enough, you mustn’t allow your past mistakes to haunt you or you will only impede your progress. Backing away and avoiding challenges has caused your self-esteem muscles to become flabby. In fact, they’re downright pendulous. Fight back, even if you’re not worthy of praise.
Me: (Crying harder) Help me, doctor!
Dr. Weakly: I believe I can. You must begin to listen to your inner dialog. Are you telling yourself that you are a whiny little failure? Do you chide yourself for being lazy? Do you tell yourself that people are laughing at you behind your back? Do you think you have an odd odor about you? Do you lie awake at night counting your weaknesses and wishing you could think of one single talent that you possess?
Me: (Sobbing) Oh my God! I had no idea I was such a basket-case!
Dr. Weakly: (Frowning) Stop indulging yourself in this panic-stricken display of feebleness. I want you to take that flaccid excuse for a backbone and give it a stiffy. Get into the control booth of your mind and allow your thoughts to be the Viagra that will cause you to straighten up, erect and proud! No wonder you’re depressed, always acting helpless, unable to cope and just waiting for someone to come to your rescue. Have you spent your whole life looking for guidance from others? When are you going to accept that you’re not the idiot that you think you are? You’re not an imposter! You’re not stupid! You’re not always going to be alone! Get up off that floor and stand up!
Me: (Clutching his pant legs) Please! Tell me how to stop this insanity!
Dr. Weakly: (Looking at his watch) Our time is up. We can discuss a firm course of action next time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

If Someone Is Driving You Crazy, At Least You're Being Chauffeured

Things sure have changed since I was a kid. Nowadays, they buckle up for safety and sit in the back seat in a special booster chair complete with belly pad, plush seat cover, head pillow and a three-position, crotch strap. I remember standing up on the front seat of our Ford Fairlane, next to my mother. More than once, I was pitched head-first into the metal dash board when she had to make a quick stop. I’m fine though, honest.
Then there was the little, blue, enamel pot she kept on the floor in the back seat for emergencies. God forbid, we actually try to find a rest room. That would have required making an unscheduled stop. I sometimes wonder what happened to that pot. I hope it never made its way back into a kitchen. My sister referred to us as the squat team because it took a lot of skill to make use of that pot in a moving vehicle without tipping over.
Mom was a very serious driver. I can’t ever remember her turning her head from side to side. Her face was filled with determination as she glared at the road ahead. If I pointed to something of interest, she would say, “I can’t look now, I’m driving.” I thought this was particularly amusing when we had reached our destination and she was zooming right past it.
Mom refused to drive on the freeway. She said she was just too nervous. Therefore, whenever we went any distance, we would have to negotiate the side streets, stop lights, traffic and add several minutes per mile respectively. I remember clearly, it took quite some time for her to get my Brownie troop from Canoga Park to Los Angeles to see a theatrical performance one fine Saturday afternoon, which turned into the evening performance.
Aside from not driving the freeway, mom never made left-hand turns. She was afraid to inch her way into an intersection and stop. Her workaround was to only make right-hand turns. It made sense to her. However, when I was a teenager, I did a stupid thing. I tried opening my bedroom window by pressing my hand against the pane instead of the sash, and it went right through the glass. I got a very nasty cut and my mother’s face drained of color when she saw the bloody towel. She grabbed her purse and keys and ordered me into the car. The closest hospital was fifteen miles away. I pressed the towel against my hand to stop the bleeding, and felt the cloth getting warmer and heavier. I pushed harder, fearing that I had cut my wrist too. I looked over at the determined look on my mother’s face as she screeched the tires around her right-hand turns.
At this rate, I figured it would take us a good forty-five minutes to get there. I was trying to remember how much blood the human body holds, but I never listened in biology class. I was too busy watching the white saliva globules collect in the corners of Mr. Morley’s mouth and guessing how long he could talk before licking them away.
“Mom, how long does it take to bleed to death?”
Know what she said?
“I can’t look now, I’m driving.”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ten

I’ve just finished watching Julie and Julia. It occurred to me that success seems to be achieved while you’re busy doing something else. At least, that is what I gleaned from the movie, which must be why I liked Forest Gump so much. That happens to be my most treasured fantasy…you know, where success literally smacks you in the back of the head when you’re frantically trying to make something else work. So, here is a young woman who sets a goal for herself to prepare all of Julia’s rather difficult French recipes within a year. I’ll be darned if she didn’t do it too. She’s also a frustrated writer. Very inspiring.

Well, I thought, I’m a frustrated writer, musician, artist, chef, ice skater, ballroom dancer, gardener, poker player, horse trainer, and knitter. Maybe that is what the problem is. I’m just not focused enough. Maybe I should just pick something and jump in with both feet. After all, it’s the perfect time of year to set a goal.

I set my sights on my list of partially developed hobbies. I realized that I have been playing the guitar for the last thirty-five years and have never advanced further than, The Puppy Song. I don’t think I have enough time left to master the guitar. I rendered portraits a couple of decades ago and turned myself inside out to please people and get their images young enough, having the right style and quantity of hair, and with attractive noses and teeth. I felt like a cosmetic surgeon. No thanks. My mother wanted me to skate in the chorus line of the Ice Capades. Even with the bar lowered, my Axel jump was a disaster. I’m an Arthur Murray dropout, my garden was eaten by enormous, green-black bugs, and I’m too old to turn a saddle sore into a callus again. Yes, you do have to grow a callus on your tailbone to ride a horse. I don’t think my tater-tot, lima bean casserole will make it into a cookbook, so now I am toying with a different idea.

Since it was mentioned in the movie that Julie thought she had A.D.D. (Perhaps I do too, ya’ think?) and that was the reason she never finished her novel, I thought, as an intensely focused hobby, I might collect five thoughts per day from those suffering from A.D.D. If we start tomorrow, by the end of 2010, I will have collected one thousand, eight hundred and ten thoughts. And that’s a very impressive number. Of course, if you submit a thought, that would mean you are granting me permission to use it. Incomplete thoughts are welcome and the more humorous, the better. Keep it clean and original. If you use someone else’s thought, give ‘em credit.

Maybe suffering doesn’t have to be a symptom of A.D.D. Maybe if we have fun with it, the spell will be broken and A.D.D. will become nothing more than an unpleasant partial memory. Since it is more fun to participate in a group, I will expect everyone to pull their own A.D.D. weight. Don’t make me take up the slack, my brain may explode.

Comments are welcome….uh….now.