Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Shopping and ADD

This year I thought I would make a couple of changes to avoid the traditional holiday stress. I need to take it easy, beat the crowds, the frustrating search for parking places and cold weather. I decided not to cook the holiday dinner and to do my shopping online but I wasn’t quite sure where to start. It has been said that Amazon is the granddaddy of online shopping so I started there…Click…

Several family members are the crafty type, I typed in Arts and Crafts and found over a million results for crafts ranging from fashioning headbands to carving elephants on a gift box.  The elephant signifies power, commitment, strength and royalty. I really should research some images to make sure the finished product would be an accurate representation…Click…

Did you know that elephants are the first wild animals to understand pointing? I smiled. It reminded me of a dog I used to have, a mixed terrier named Stinker Bell.  When I wanted her to see something I would point to it but instead of looking into the direction I was pointing, she just looked at my finger.  “Look!” I said excitedly but her eyes remained glued to my finger.  Ultimately, I would put my hands on the sides of her head and aim her line of vision. Eventually she would either see what I wanted her to or it would be too late and she would completely miss the point of interest…Click…

I just searched points of interest. Did you know that Egypt has seven zoological parks? Oh my God, just recently a giraffe named Roqa hanged herself inside her enclosure. They believe it is due to the political unrest. It seems police fire tear gas at chanting protesters and the vapors make their way to animal enclosures.  Earlier this year three bears died mysteriously in one night. They called it a ‘bear riot’. Surely there is something that can be done to bring peace and calm to man and beast…Click…

It seems ancient Egyptians knew a lot more about our endocrine system than first suspected. They believed that our pineal gland located in the center of our brain is the portal that our soul passes through from life to life.  Meditation can stimulate this gland and provide answers to questions about the existence of an afterlife. I really have to get back to meditating. I wonder why the Egyptians scooped out and discarded the brain when bodies were mummified if the pineal gland was so important? I just found some Pineal Activation Cream. It is said if you apply it to your third eye, you will be much more open to psychic experiences. That would be awesome, then I wouldn't have to guess what everyone wants. I just bought some...Click...

Wow, someone has invented a build your own potato gun with PVC pipe and a rudimentary combustion chamber fueled by hair spray and ignited with a barbeque lighter.  The demonstration video is quite impressive.  This gun is capable of mashing a large russet baking potato against an abandoned car window effortlessly. Might come in handy if you have a lot of dinner guests or enemies for that matter. Raw potatoes would leave real serious tater knot on your head. Click…

My sister and I got a Mr. Potato head for Christmas one year. The bug eyes always scared me.  We had a Mrs. Potato head too.  I think this is why so many women believe they need lip augmentation. They played with Potato Heads when they were little. Have you even seen the lips on Mrs. Potato Head...Click…

My mother used to make the cheesiest potato pancakes from leftover mashed potatoes. Yum. Even though she’s been gone a long time, I still think about her cooking. The taste of her Sunday pot roast with homemade egg noodles sticks like a magnet to my mental refrigerator…Click…

Isn’t it funny how some people get into a routine with their weekly menus? Growing up, Monday was spaghetti, Tuesday was pork chops and gravy, Wednesday was chicken, potatoes and canned corn, Thursday was meat loaf, with roasted vegetables, Friday was fish sticks, and Saturday was hamburgers.  My father was an excommunicated Catholic due to his divorce but I can think of a multitude of other sins that he could have been excommunicated for. There’s little worse than a bitter Catholic. I suffered from second-hand Catholicism growing up; it’s many times more carcinogenic than second hand smoke. I think the only commandment he threatened us with was, ‘Honor thy Father and Thy Mother’ and that was the end of any possible conflict.  Even though he was dropped-kicked out of the church (can you believe they used to do that?) he never ate meat on Friday. Maybe he was afraid he’d go to hell. As a child, I promised myself that I would never develop menu monotony after I grew up but I can’t count the number of times I would be stirring spaghetti sauce and suddenly realize it was Monday…Click…

It is often said that more bad things happen on Monday than any other day of the week, heart attacks, accidents, long lines, rude clerks and memorials. Monday night football used to drive me batty. Memorial day is always on Monday.  Scores of years before it was called Decoration Day…Click…

Good Grief, I forgot about decorations! So caught up in holiday shopping that I need to buy a tree and replace the ornaments that I accidently gave to Goodwill last January. It was probably on a Monday, spaghetti day….Click…

Man, this online shopping is for the birds. I can’t see that it has saved me any time at all! Sitting in front of the computer for hours and not have ANYTHING to show for it, well, sounds like a typical day for me. There isn’t enough time to get gifts shipped on time now so it looks like I will be out among the throngs again, pushed, shoved, stepped on and honked at...Click... 

Sigh, I have to admit, I do love the memories made during the holiday season…Click…

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Up Against Medical Advice

During one of my lunch hours last week I called my doctor to schedule a routine, bi-annual blood test. It’s a very busy office, and just as I anticipated, the receptionist who answered my call asked if she could put me on hold. I sat at my desk and played with my shoe letting it dangle from the ends of my toes bored from listening to the advertisements boasting of the wonderful services the clinic provided. Suddenly, the announcer asked a shocking question, “Do you know if you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm?” My eyes widened, my ears opened and my shoe dropped to the floor. I pressed the receiver harder against my ear.

The following explanation was provided; the abdominal aorta is a large blood vessel that supplies blood to your abdomen, pelvis, and legs. An aneurysm can develop at any time, in anyone, but it was the next sentence that really got my attention. The monotone voice went on to explain that there are virtually no symptoms that will warn you of this condition. The larger an aneurysm is, the more likely it is to rupture. I rested a hand on my abdomen and gently pressed. If there were no symptoms, how would I know?

What the heck kind of hold entertainment was this? Why don’t they play the typical, noxious please-hold music, like every other establishment aching to have power over you? This is cruel. It would be like an airline, showing continuous documentaries of plane crashes on a non-stop fourteen-hour flight.

“Aneurysms develop slowly over many years,” the voice cautioned. “If they rupture, treatment is needed, and thin, hollow tubes called catheters are inserted through arteries in your groin.” I crossed my legs tightly. “The outcome is good if an experienced surgeon repairs the aneurysm before it ruptures. However, less that 50% of patients survive a ruptured abdominal aneurysm.”

I would have been more comfortable, rapidly stabbing holes between my fingers with a pocketknife into the top of my desk. I looked at my watch. I had listened to the abdominal aneurysm warning in its entirety and now was being asked again, “Do you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm?”

My skin turned clammy, I was anxious and I felt my heart rate increase. I quickly turned to my computer and looked for any information about this medical condition. The Internet is a great source of medical information that doesn’t bother to sugarcoat anything.

I frantically pressed around my navel. It could have been a pulsating mass I felt, I wasn’t sure. My bladder seemed to be overfilled with fluid, but then, I was on my third cup of morning coffee, and I had been on hold, approaching the twenty-minute mark. I was dizzy and nauseous… both were classic symptoms. I took my pulse. My heart was racing. I felt confused. My fingernails were a strange bluish color, or at least I think they were beneath the flaming-red nail polish I was wearing. I became light-headed and began to sweat. My breathing was shallow and I thought I might faint.

It has been years since I was obsessed with the idea that I might have an undiagnosed fatal disease. It was like being constantly accompanied by an uninvited annoying and depressing traveling companion. I ditched her at a rest stop and now she was back!

In the next moment, the receptionist interrupted the recorded antichrist, the Nostradamus of health threats.

“Can I help you?”
“I think I’m dying!” I screamed into the phone.
“If this is an emergency,” she said calmly. “Please dial 9-1-1.”


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

A wise Arizona Indian chief once said, “Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.”  Wisely, Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

In my opinion, this is a very logical observation. Nevertheless, year after year we in other states fool ourselves by continuing to sew an hour to the bottom of our summer days and cut it off again in the winter. The custom began in 1918 though it wasn’t wildly popular and so was discontinued in 1919. Unfortunately, the practice was resumed in 1942 and referred to as ‘war time’ and damned if it didn’t stick.

In 2007, immediately following the manufacturing of my radio alarm clock that was pre-programmed with the time to change automatically on the last Sunday of October, a law was passed to end Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in November. Lord knows I’m stubborn. So for the sixth year in a row, it seems I would rather be late to work than replace a perfectly good alarm clock. Just because some do-gooder thought it would be helpful to invent a smart clock is no reason for me to have to spend my hard earned money on a clock that I don’t have to arm wrestle with.

I awoke for the fourth time on Monday, October 28th (It takes at least four snoozes for my eyes to fully open). I sighed and turned the alarm off and prided myself for resisting a fifth snooze. I always feel guilty (but not enough to stop) for hitting the snooze button because my husband is also in the room and although he never complains would probably prefer that I wouldn’t insist on sleeping in 9-minute intervals when I should be in the shower. 

So there I was taking my time, thinking I had forty-five minutes to get ready, when I looked at the kitchen clock. I always wish I could catch that look of stupefaction on video so I could show it to myself in preparation for next year. I had fifteen minutes to get dressed, paint on a face and drive to work. I transformed myself into one keystone cop and managed to only be fifteen minutes late. The same thing happened last year, and the year before…etc.

The next night, I tried setting my smart alarm clock to the correct time but in the middle of the night it readjusted and I was late to work again. On the third night I got smart and set my alarm an hour earlier so I wouldn’t be late yet still have time for a couple of nine minute intervals. Success!

I would be happy if I could remember that I will be an hour early for work the last week of March but we all know I won’t.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Is Just Another Name For Thursday

The stores are observing Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas simultaneously and have been doing it for some time now. No wonder there is so much stress and depression during the season. Why can’t we tackle one holiday at a time? Talk about pressure! Maybe I’ll just dress up like Santa Claus and surprise everyone by not buying any gifts. That would make me thankful.

Halloween. What is actually being celebrated by dressing up in scanty costumes, eating food shaped like gross things and carving pumpkins? There are several theories. One states that it was a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. Many believe it is a feast that honors All Hallows’ Eve, influenced by Celtic harvest festivals. Another 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 treats that are obtained by panhandling. It is really for their own good that I do this, and for mine. I have been known to eat the entire stash myself before a single midget arrived.

The Jack-o-lantern wasn’t aways the pumpkin that we all know and love. Lanterns used to be fashioned from a hollowed-out turnip. Considering the size of a turnip, this must have been a substantial artistic challenge.

As the legend goes, the lantern was named after a man named Jack, ‘Stingy Jack’ to be precise. Jack was notorious as a drunkard, a thief and a trickster. He successfully tricked Satan into climbing a tree to pick a piece of fruit. I’m guessing it was a Criterion apple. Once he was up there, Jack carved a cross in the tree’s bark preventing him from getting down. Jack made him promise to leave him alone for ten years before he would free him.

(I have to admit, I too have been tricked by a Jack. Jack Daniels tricked me onto many a barroom table and forced me to dance. He carved gigantic smiles on the observer’s faces, males mostly, which trapped me on the table but that’s another story for another time).

Anyway, Jack died ten years later. He was denied access to heaven because of his evil ways and hell wouldn’t have him either because Satan didn’t find the old climb the tree and pick some fruit gag very funny. He did however give Jack a single ember to light his way in the frigid darkness between heaven and hell. The hollowed-out turnip was the handy carrying case that it came with.

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, Thursday. So, happy Thursday, whatever you celebrate. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Again With the Warnings?

The Huffington Post recently published an article about how computers, games and phones are affecting kids’ bodies. They seem to be developing pain in their fingers and thumbs from playing games and texting. Sitting in front of a screen more than being outside can develop extra narrow blood vessels in their eyes. Too much time social networking can lead to ‘Facebook Depression’ and ADD.  Permanent damage to the ears is being caused by excessive headphone wearing and necks and backs are sore from kids hunching over their phone screens, better known as I-posture. That one put a smile on my face.

It seems like every generation has its concerns. My generation was warned about too much television viewing.  My mother always told me if I sat too close to the screen I would go blind. What do I do now? Sit in front of a computer screen for 12 hours a day. I’m still not blind. The only one allowed really close to the television was the Sears serviceman who periodically came to run the degaussing ring around the outside of the set creating swirls of vibrant colors during the demagnetizing process. I loved to watch that.

 “Don’t touch the screen!” My father’s eleventh commandment was burned into my soul. Do you know what it did to me when touch screens came out? It was like learning to walk all over again.  I had to consciously force myself to reach out and with a trembling finger…touch.  I felt like I was committing a crime every time I did it.

Anyway, this article suggested the human body is not made for long term sitting. Really? Then why was the sitting room invented? How would an author write or an artist paint if they didn’t sit for extended periods of time?  People have been reading for centuries. How do they do it if they are not sitting or lying down for hours? It took Michelangelo over four years to paint the Sistine chapel ceiling.  I can’t even imagine how much that affected his eyes, neck, back and arms.  The Harry Potter series adds up to approximately 1.08 million words. I wonder if J.K. Rowling remained still for any length of time to write them?

The way I see it is there are inside people and there are outside people, the innies and the outies. For some reason, the outies think they know what is good for the innies and being inside isn’t good. Outies are the ones who march into a room that an innie is perfectly happy in and swish back the drapes saying, “how can you stand being in the dark?” I usually hiss and rush back to close out the light again but I didn’t used to. I would sigh and do what the all knowing outie said was best for me like go on a bug hunt or run through the sprinklers.

I’d just like to remind the outies that they wouldn’t have as many great movies, books, art or music if it weren’t for the innies. Don’t swish back drapes or shame an innie into a bug hunt and don’t worry about our eyes or our backs or if we’ll get depressed ‘cause we haven’t been poked by the right Facebook person.

Outies, go ahead and enjoy your hike, swim, wander in the park. We innies don’t care. We’ll be waiting for you when you return, sitting for hours, in the dark, with our squinty eyes and atrophied muscles. Bleh.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Secrets of True Genius

This morning I read an article written by Oliver Burkeman for, The Guardian. It is an overview of daily routines of history’s most creative minds. I was fascinated by some of the examples he gave, such as Benjamin Franklin spending his mornings naked (an air bath) and that  Agatha Christie didn’t own a desk. Every morning, before getting to work, Søren Kierkegaard poured black coffee over a full cup of sugar and pounded down the sludge that was the consistency of mud.

My love for research and interesting facts led me to buy the book, Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey, the book that Burkeman’s article referred to. I bought it for purely selfish reasons though because I long to know what it is that I need to change, buy, grow, rent, beg for or steal to obtain even the most infinitesimal piece of creativity that was ever so abundant in the history of certain great minds.

I found a few routines that immediately must be ruled out. I have to decline the practice of strategic alcohol abuse that seems to be such a common theme among great writers. I’ve tried but can’t be organized and often refer to my disorganization as ‘comfort clutter’. I’ll never be a morning person and would kill anyone who tried to reform me.

I sort of got hung up on the piece about Patricia Highsmith, the author of, Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She was never short of illumination and often boasted that she had ideas like rats had orgasms although I’m not sure she was speaking from knowledge or presumption. She needed a ‘womb of her own’, to be surrounded by cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, coffee, doughnuts and a saucer of sugar to work. Wow, what is it with the sugar? She didn’t seem to be overweight in her photos but I’m seeing some relationship between sugar and inspiration. She only ever ate bacon, eggs and cereal at odd times of the day. She was ill at ease around people. I can relate to that being the introvert that I am. What I couldn’t relate to…at all…was her intense connection with snails. She raised hundreds of snails in her Suffolk garden and once went to a cocktail party with a huge handbag that carried a head of lettuce and a hundred snails. She said they were her companions for the evening. When she moved to France, she had to smuggle her companions over the border by making several trips and hiding six to ten of them under each breast. Heh.

Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t want to have some of the routines I have read about so far but if overindulgence in something is one of the prerequisites, then I do qualify.

I drink gallons of diet Pepsi! It’s embarrassing to admit but it has been going on for quite some time now and if the chemicals they use to produce it are scientifically proven to be unhealthy then at least I’ll know what’s gonna’ take me out. Cans are lined up in the refrigerator right now like little tin soldiers ready for duty. The recycle bin is overflowing and the utility porch is well stocked. If diet Pepsi were ever to become illegal, I could see myself smuggling a can under each breast.

Know what  really scares me? Pepsi announced that they have changed the formula to remove the risk factors. Adding a warning label that the product ‘may cause cancer’, was unthinkable. They won’t be using Asparteme anymore but have assured customers that the taste will remain the same. Poppycock! I just hope this doesn’t affect my writing.