Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Couch and Me - together forever!

I cleaned the living room today.  I didn't just vacuum around the furniture.  I. Moved. The. Couch.  It's a big, low white couch.  I love that couch which I stole from the Bloomingdale's outlet store.  I use the word stole because there was a 93% markdown which I'm sure was a mistake made by a disgruntled worker.  The $2600 couch which was white and gorgeous and filled with down was marked down to $200.  No, it did not have a big red stain on it.  It had nothing but beautifulness and supreme comfort.

No matter how much money comes my way, the couch stays forever.  Today I took the couch cushions out on the deck and beat the dust out of them.  Then I vacuumed them with something called an upholstery attachment which I had to look on the internet to see what it looked like.  Yep.  I had three of them from various vacuums.

It was then that I decided to move the couch and take care of the space of floor under it.   Holy mother of god It was as if I had fallen through a secret door and gone to Narnia.  There was an entire universe going on under the couch. Stages of life lived and ended.  There was a cubic yard of dust that had height as well as width.   But Oh. So. Much. More.  There were pencils and quarters and Monopoly money and guitar picks and crayon stubs and the "shoe" and the "house" from Zingo. (You don't know Zingo? There was a tax bill several peanuts, a pacifier and four red paper clips strung together.

I don't have the gift of housekeeping.  I don't have the gift of shopping or cooking.  I'm not a visual person.  I'm not juiced up by sunsets or panoramic views.  However I do like to see a good result when I spend an hour cleaning up the living room and even though I had hand dusted the floor (after vacuuming) the room looked exactly the way it had looked before.   It looked exactly the same except I knew it was clean and slick under the couch. And the couch looked like it cost $2600.

You look marvelous, darling

Friday, July 25, 2014

10 simple rules for being a good guest (an oxymoron because there are no good guests). Redux

Right in the middle of summer, I'm re-posting my advice to guests.  Ignore at your peril.
Overnight guests were invented to introduce torment where none existed. if you are about to be a guest here are some rules to make you barely tolerable. 
1. Upon arrival, give a precise (to the minute) departure time.  Even before you say hello, say “I’m leaving Tuesday at 9:35 a.m.” The most distressing issue of overnight guests (outside of having them at all) is not knowing when they are leaving.  The worst answer is “I’m not sure.”  No?  Why not?  My life is not an open-ended deal at your disposal.
2.  Make your footprint as small as possible.  If you are a large person, hunch into yourself.  There’s nothing less lovable than a big ole guest hogging all of the oxygen in the room. On this issue, don’t bring a large suitcase.  Nobody wants all of your stuff in their house or any of your stuff.  They already have too much of their own stuff.  Come with a backpack or a small plastic bag.
3.  Don’t ask questions about the habits of your hostess.  There’s nothing more annoying to the hostess than having to explain why she does all the weird things she would do in peace/privacy if you weren’t there to question.  Don’t ask anything.  Not even where she got the bayonet or the saber.  You don’t need to know.
4.  Don’t lounge on the hostess’ furniture as if you are in your college dorm.  Furniture, though it might look shabby to you is precious to her. In fact don’t lounge.  It makes you look as if you own the place and breeds resentment.  Sit up straight and keep your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap.There aren't words to address a guest who lies prone on the couch.
5.  Don’t take a long shower and leave zero hot water for everyone else.  In fact, don’t take a shower at all.  Hearing the shower running for more than twenty seconds makes the host see dollar bills flying out of the window. Showering is overrated and creates laundry.  Needless to add don’t leave wet towels anywhere.  There’s nothing that reminds a hostess of a recent guest more than a wet towel.  And it isn’t a fond memory. It’s up to you how you make the towel dry.
6. Just because you are a guest doesn’t mean you must talk.  Think of talking as a bank account that only has a hundred dollars left and you have to ration it out for a year. Besides showing up at all, talking too much is an indelible black mark that will be on your forehead like an Ash Wednesday smudge that brands you as insufferable.  Bring a book and read on the porch.
7.  Slip out of the house early in the morning and get your own breakfast at the corner Starbucks but leave a note so the hostess doesn’t think you had a heart attack in your bed and now she has to do something with your body.   If you do go to Starbucks bring back a bag of Starbuck goods for the rest of the house.
8. Ask if you should keep your shoes on inside the house (especially if they are full of sand or mud).  If you walk into the house with muddy or sandy shoes, the hostess will remember. And not in a good way.
9.  Don’t argue with the hostess about anything.  If she says something is blue that is clearly red, it’s blue.  Period.  This is not the time to prove a point. She is probably not thinking straight because you are there.
10.  Call the day of arrival and cancel.  Something came up and you can’t come.  Your hostess might say “too bad” but her heart is singing, “Oh, happy day.”  The house is clean.  She has a fridge stocked with good food and nobody’s coming.  What’s better than that?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Importance of a fake laugh.

I realized today that I have perfected a fake laugh.  It's a good fake laugh. It sounds as if I'm having a good ha-ha over something that was said. My fake laugh is meant to appease the person before me.

The word "appease" is an interesting choice.  It means "pacify or placate by acceding to their demands." And why do I want to placate them?  I want to placate them in order to make the moment pass easily without bearing the burden of nuance, emotional extrapolation or lingering resentment. 

That's exactly right.  I fake laugh when I'm slightly afraid of the person before me. And what are the demands I am placating?  By offering some stale platitude or stale joke, or superficial assessment of life or contradictory evidence of common sense or just plain delusional personal long-winded bs, the conversational bully is daring me not to find them supremely amusing.  It has elements of superiority in it. You think the phrase 'daring me' is too harsh?  It's not too harsh.  It's true. 

My fake laugh establishes quick fake solidarity with a person that I will only see briefly but is important to the moment. A workman or the dentist or a cross the street neighbor. Many others. You know who they are.  My fake solidarity laugh will cement their neutrality and allow me to move on.    

That's right.  All of that.  Every bit of it.  I avoid any aftermath of an encounter with a bully with whom I have no emotional connection but who is in my life in a semi-important manner.
The fake laugh maneuver is not cowardly.  It is smart.  I'm sure the new Pope would approve.

Together with realizing that I had perfected a fake laugh, I realized that a fake laugh is one of the best social tools right along with eating with your mouth closed and saying 'please' and 'thank you.'

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What urinary tract infection are you?

This morning I took one of those personality divining tests offered on FB.  You know the kind, What character on Downtown Abbey are you? What color are you? What kind of chocolate are you?  

This morning's test was "What urinary tract infection are you?"  I thought there was only one type of urinary tract infection but apparently there's a whole menu of them.  There's slow and lazy, hot-tempered rampaging, sneaky invasive, shy and hiding and a millennial child infection that keeps coming back to live with you.

I answered a few questions such as When you enter a crowded room do you head to the center of activity or just drink yourself blind on the outer rim?
Do you wake up cheerful and ready for a new day or are your first words, "What fresh hell is this?"
What tv show would you be likely to watch a) Religion and Ethics b) I want to marry Harry c) The Walking Dead

It turns out I am the hot-tempered rampaging urinary tract infection.  Once I found this out, - that very moment - as I contemplated some self-knowledge that had been eluding me all of my adult life, I finally had the currency to effect real and total change. I had gained uncorrupted insight into my deepest self.  It was life changing. 


Saturday, June 28, 2014

What's so hard about goal based thinking?

Working very hard.

What do you consider a good yardstick for hard work?
Someone who jackhammers a road for eight hours in 90 degree heat works very hard.  The man in the bucket who guided the take down of a gigantic tree in my backyard had to be super precise and also worked very, very hard.

Can thinking be considered hard work? 
Yes it can.  It is very hard work especially if you are not used to thinking and you have to call back all your sequential thinking molecules and tell them to show up in one place and stay there.

What's so hard about goal based thinking?
You know how you have to coral wayward cattle and coax and baby them into a group - and go after the strays and bring them back and then the others are veering in all directions?   That's how it is to sustain goal based thinking.  The thoughts just want to stray and you need them to stay put.

What is goal based thinking?
It is thinking that is laser focused on one outcome.  It can't flit around from "Should Rosie really go back on The View" to  "Can Facexercises really lift my neck?" and stay fixed until your mind and the goal are one and locked in an embrace.  Yep.  Locked in an embrace.

Does that happen?  I mean about your mind melding with the goal?
Yes.  At some point, that's what happens.  You get lost in what you are doing. Your mind delivers the goods you've ordered.

And why are we talking about this?
For two weeks, Amazon has attached me to the process that will result in a re-publishing of one of my books.  I received the copyeditor's marked manuscript and learned of all of the many missteps that had been embedded in my original six-hundred plus page manuscript even though it had been seriously published (and copyedited) by one of the big six.  I learned (among many things) that the timeline had some glitches, that Laurence Olivier did not play King Lear on film until 1983,  that the word camouflage was not in the language  until 1917 and that the word beatnik was first used in 1958.   Also, there were too many Georges and too many Leilas in the book.
I learned how to use Word's "Track Changes" apparatus (it made me nervous and nervouser). I also learned that my knowledge of grammar is lacking and that I should re-think changing tenses capriciously.  The that/which use debacle and the comma debacle is needlessly complicated.  No.  Really. 
I went through the entire manuscript twice, re-working, re-writing, re-checking Arabic language idioms.   There are many ways to spell tabouleh, kibbeh, sheik, megnuneh (crazy person).  Right now Spellcheck is flashing alerts.

Is there any take away good news?
If you keep it up, hard work can be addictive.  You crave it.  Little else feels as good.
As for me, I'm going to leave the computer screen today and go sit by the Atlantic Ocean. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Yes, dust mites poop, too.

I wish I could interest Apple in doing something about dust.   Dust is the last frontier to be conquered but it lives under the radar.  Apple could call it idust and immediately it would gain attention and status.  

The problem with dust is that it is relentless, ubiquitous, universal, insolent, an equal opportunity pest.  The folks over at SC Johnson want us to believe lemon-scented Pledge is the answer (a double insult one for the fake lemon smell and the other for the idea that you should smear a sticky mist over an already horrid, stale bunch of debris). 

What is dust?  It's everything that comes off of you and off of your pets and off of the ground and off of all the fabrics in your house and whatever is pooped out by bugs and mites.  Yes, mites poop, too.
What's up?

I feel if Apple took dust over for me, it would tame it, contain it, put it in a well-designed case and finally make it so precious it would all be transported to the Apple warehouse.  Oh, god, yes.  Apple might even make dust talk to me, like Siri on iphone.  As I'm lying in bed I could whisper in the silence, "Hey, dust, are you still there, under this bed?"
I am.
Will you ever go away.
I think about you every day.
That's sweet.
It's because you make me cough and sneeze.
Yeah.  I know.
But you have no purpose.
I teach you to endure.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Drying the silverware by hand.

This morning I was drying silverware by hand.  Why, you ask.  Because the dishwasher soap had a fake lemon scent that almost made me retch (love that word) and yes I could still smell it after all the rinse cycles of my Kitchen Aid and it permeated the entire kitchen just from opening the container for a few seconds. 

Drying silverware is a zen activity. Wiping down the little bowl of the spoon tricks the mind into getting off the thought loop.  I had an un-chore like thought and I was thinking it of another.  What is her essence?  What is my essence?  What is it that I want so badly that it drives every single act?

Good ciabatta bread and cheese. 
You complete me.
Beyond that. 
Some humidity in this overheated house. (It's still cold in the morning).
No.  Think about it.  If you get to the singular word at the core of all your hopes and dreams.  Reduce it to one word.
Yes.  All my behavior, planning and driving force is to achieve comfort.
Comfort?  Huh.  Like a good mattress?
I'll see you tonight.
No.  The comfort of knowing you are okay with yourself.  That you are okay with your journey and you are okay with your progress and you are okay with your behavior toward others even the neighbor who runs landscaping equipment from dawn til dusk.
This morning I am okay.  Even though I'm reeling from an embarrassing marketing video I made that looks awful and sounds awful and even though I got up in the middle of the night and ate Haagen Dazs pineapple/coconut ice cream (how is that not like crack?) I was okay with myself.  I was okay with the path and I was okay with the progress.
Stop hounding me, I want to get clean!