Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Whatever you have done, let it go. Let it all go. It's all right.

( This is an excerpt from my book, One Hundred Open Houses.  It has a hopeful message in it.  Some readers don't like this book but the ones that do, like it a lot.)
Given my present thought process, something really strange happened in church on Sunday. Father O’Connell is on vacation and this other priest said mass.  He was quite old and we could hardly hear him.  
We were prepared to just sit through it, the way we did when we had a substitute teacher.  Almost in a whisper, he began talking about reconciliation – that’s what they call confession now.  He said,  “Whatever you have done, let it go.  You aren’t children anymore with a laundry list of sins – I hit my brother, I told a lie, I stole some candy - in order to be okay with God.  Just get rid of everything – let it go and you will be closer to Jesus. If you’ve had an abortion, if you’ve been abusive to your family – just let it go. Let it all go.  It’s all right. One of you,  “he emphasized, “sitting here today, will be transformed.” 
The entire congregation remained still.  Almost dumbstruck.  We weren’t prepared to actually hear something we could use never mind being transformed.  After church, I saw this young handsome man – not your typical devoted Catholic - go up to the priest and say – “I’m not from this parish but that is the best homily I have ever heard.”  There was a long line of people and they were all saying much the same thing.  They had been longing to find a way to get rid of all the things they were ashamed of doing and this brilliant old priest had told them it was okay to let it all go. He was telling us that he was certain – without a doubt – that this was not only okay, but also necessary.
After mass, I did something I seldom do – something all of us seldom do – I sat in the living room.  I sat on the couch I had bought at the Bloomingdale’s outlet store.  There was nothing to do in the living room except look around.  You couldn’t cook there or eat or watch television. The living room, I have to tell you, is a useless room that we have been told is necessary.  I felt as if I was visiting and all the stuff in there was new to me.   After the “letting go” talk, if you take it seriously, you have a lot of space in your head to think about other things.
It has resulted in putting me in a strange state of lethargy.  I feel all dry and papery.  I’m made of parchment paper. I keep thinking that contrary to my current fervor for staying alive, there might be something to dying.  No more humidifying and dehumidifying.  No more coughing at night or worrying about anything.  If nothing else, the weight issue is moot.
When you send the e-mail down to your psyche saying, “hey, it’s time to open up, we want some life changing moves up here,” it reacts.   I had stated a purpose and begun a plan and although it wasn’t frontal lobotomy or entering a non-speaking religious order, it was change and there’s nothing like change to make the psyche squeeze out a miserly bit of self-revelation.
What was revealed to me on that chilly for June Sunday morning was that no matter what I did or where I lived or if I chose to pitch a tent in the Mojave dessert there was a fist sized hunk of worry smack in the center of my chest and if I didn’t address it, I was not going to really move. 
There was no media noise so I was aware of the silence in the house.  In my Sunday morning clarity, I knew that it was a hunk of heaviness that had been sitting in my chest for a very long time.    I went into my default site of things to worry about, the kids’ safety, my health, mental illness and plumbing problems in a town where plumbers are the new rock stars.   If you’re not going to follow the blueprint for the American Dream, you have to fight hard not to think ill of yourself.
This wasn’t about the kids or the house. This hard impenetrable thing was a hunk of worry about me, Rebecca, and what had happened to her.   I bypassed my instinct to find some quick answer and thought about what my life was like from moment to moment. What I said to certain people and what I said to others.  Was I authentic with anyone? Did I have enough friends? What mattered to me? Did anyone really love me?  Was there anyone who couldn’t live without me?  Do you even want someone who can’t live without you?  No, you don’t!  I’ll give you a profile of that man without even meeting him.  Needy, needy, needy.  And possibly in need of long-term therapy.  You want someone who can live without you but would like to spend some time with you. 
I had an m.o.  As long as I could find the irony in everything that happened, I could make a case for an existence that resided on the sidelines while everyone else was actually living. Being ironic was no substitute for living but so help me I thought it was.   Louise was living all of the time.  She knew at least a dozen couples that she and her husband saw on a regular un-ironic basis.  She had friends she had known for forty years. She played tennis with her friends and went to baby showers.  She had a sequential life.  She definitely did not start over every morning.
I thought about my premise that a move outside my comfort zone would jump-start a new life, a new routine, new connections and a new me. I was definitely ready to re-define myself.  As what?  A spunky middle-aged woman?    Then this British guy was on Oprah and he wrote a book on happiness and he said you would never be happy if you had a destination addiction.  First, why anyone would listen to a Brit talk on the psychology of happiness is beyond me.  But I did take a little interest in his “destination addiction” theory.  He was saying that as long as you thought that your happiness depended on something that was going to happen in the future, you were a dead duck.  Or an unhappy duck. What I got from that Brit was that if I thought I was going to jump start my stalled writing career by moving to a monastic cell in New York City, I was stupid, stupid, stupid. And misguided.  And delusional.   I had to start being happy right here in Huffy The House. And while moving was a good idea, I would already be the committed reclaimed writer when I arrived.
So there was no avoiding it then.  I had to begin thinking of the story I wanted to tell.    What story was I just bursting to tell?  First of all, no writer is bursting to write anything.  Most are bursting to keep from writing.  Writing is incredibly hard and beside it, everything else appears incredibly easy.  But this particular moment, I kept still and continued thinking until I had an “aha” moment that sounded so simple, I didn’t trust it but since I had nothing else, I went with it.  Maybe the story was me!   The routines, the bad habits, the small pleasures, the calls to the utility companies, the yanking of weeds, the phantom tandem life that I was going to live one day.  Not this life but something better. Maybe this was the better life – maybe what I was writing down in my journal would make a fabulous story. Maybe my life was the story of the century.  Every single day of it  – Louise and Shana and the rep for the Dubai place and Itzonlyphil were what was in my life and if I shaped what I was writing in my journal into the odyssey it had become, I could make sense of it for myself and maybe for others, too.  Maybe what was in my head was not the jumbled thoughts of a textbook AADD but LIFE.  
 I had just read an article in the New Yorker about the dictionary of mental disorders (I’m thinking someone is sitting around saying:  there’s stealing and let’s call that kleptomania and there’s unsubstantiated euphoria and let’s call that manic behavior) There was a phrase in the article that I liked.  It said someone had an unruly inner life.  That’s what I had to document!   My unruly inner life.  I would shape what I had been writing in the journal into a book.
 It was Sunday morning and my instinct was to turn on the television and watch Meet The Press. Anything not to test my new theory that, at best, seemed weak.   I went to the computer instead.   I wrote the date and Chapter One – 9-G I wasn’t looking for an apartment…
 I started and before I knew it, Meet The Press was over and so were the McLaughlin Report and even Lydia’s Family Table.  I had just plunged into the story in an unruly way.  I introduced the old priest and what he told us and Ms. DuBois at the bank and KooKoofor$ and also Ben and Harry and even my mother and my fear of the voodoo she might be doing on my life.  When I was done for the day I felt spaced out the way you do when you spend a day at the beach and the bright sun glinting off the water makes you feel surreal.  And the salt air makes the indoors feel too quiet and unfamiliar. And your eyes can’t adjust.  I turned off the computer and had a cup of coffee.  There was no milk so I put some Turkey Hill vanilla Ice Cream in it.  I drank it slowly, in the living room. Just me sitting there.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Virginia - you've got it, girl.

On one of my periodic clean-up/dispose missions, I found a box of books that I had planned to sell on the internet two years ago when I was on a previous clean-up mission.

The books had pristine colorful jackets. There was Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (the infamous Oprah's Book Club edition.) Remember Mr. Franzen capriciously said he didn't want to go on Oprah. Television was too banal. That was the day that his publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux, flew their flag at half mast as they saw a couple of million dollars drift into the ether. By the way, since this is a post about good writing, I will point out that although The Corrections was the most lauded novel of 2001, it only drew a 3.2 average  rating on Amazon.  Many of the Amazon customer reviews called it a "tedious piece of crap."   

Another book in the box was Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full  (a snarky critic re-titled it "A Man So Dull").  Nestled with the bestsellers was a modest student edition of To the Lighthouse by the venerated Virginia Woolfe.  I opened this book to Chapter One.  What kind of writing does it take to separate an author from the pack and give her iconic stature forever?  I was curious to read her prose because she was part of that high strung, literary aristocracy, the Bloomsbury group. Here is one of Ms. Woolfe's paragraphs from To The Lighthouse:

"Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsay.  "But you'll have to be up with the lark," she added.
To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as if it were settled, the expedition were bound to take place, and the wonder to which he had looked forward, for years and years it seemed, was, after a night's darkness and a day's sail, within touch.  Since he belonged, even at the age of six, to that great clan which cannot keep this feeling separate from that, but must let future prospects, with their joys and sorrows, cloud what is actually at hand, since to such people even in earliest childhood any turn in the wheel of sensation has the power to crystallise and transfix the moment upon which its gloom or radiance rests, James Ramsay, sitting on the floor cutting out pictures from the illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores, endowed the picture of a refrigerator, as his mother spoke, with heavenly bliss.

And then came Hemingway with his simple declarative sentences.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Everyone thinks it's just love but there's fear, too.

(This is a repost for Mother's Day)

In 1998, at a time when I could least afford the emotional energy to commit to a pair of socks, I decided to look for my mother.  She had disappeared for over twenty years.  She had never met two of her grandchildren.   I hired a private detective, Brian P. McGinnis and four months later he sent me a letter on beautiful business stationary.  The letters all had serifs. Dear Mrs. Baehr,  I am happy to report that I have located your mother.
It was not a joyful reunion but we did the best we could and I transported her to New York to the seventh floor of the Terrance Cardinal Cooke Health and Rehabilitation Center on Fifth Avenue and 105th Street. Her room overlooked the wrought iron gates to Central Park’s formal English Garden, a favorite wedding locale for Asian couples.  In that room, I learned more about my mother than I had up to that time.
I learned that my mother, still in her twenties and freshly divorced, had started a business importing dresses and other things from Montgomery Ward and selling them to the women in her village.  She had run a dressmaking shop, a beauty salon, a boarding house, she called it a hotel. When the war made importing goods impossible, she traveled to the U.S. by bus through Texas, made her way to San Francisco where she worked in a Lucky Strike factory putting the official stamp on packs of cigarettes.
She was a woman who placed all importance on dressing well and looking good. She would apply and re-apply lipstick throughout the day.  She drew in her eyebrows. When I told her that her nephew was dating a girl and that she dressed very well, she said, “That’s all I want to know.”
Here’s the dialogue.
“Your nephew is dating a girl.
“Oh, yes? What’s her nationality?”
”She’s Armenian.”
“Very clean.  An Armenian woman lived next door to me. She was very clean. Tell me, does she dress well?”
“As a matter of fact, she does.”
“That’s all I want to know.  I like that girl.”
“Really, that’s all you care about?”  In the dreamy Fellini atmosphere of the high ceilinged room, the kind of room you would see in an old war movie where the soldiers convalesced and got used to their injuries, whatever she said had more weight.  Maybe how a person dressed said everything about that person but I wanted to take it further.  “That’s all you care about? How she dresses?” I didn’t even raise my voice for this but remained matter of fact.
“More or less.”  My mother answered most questions with “more or less.”
Did you like the ham?  More or less.  Didn’t you think that show was terrible?  More or less. She wasn’t trying for a conversational style. She was a straight shooter. If irony is for ironists.  My mother was an anemianist. I altered my personality in her presence and was a straight shooter, too.
“Yeah, you’re right.  She dresses well.  That’s all we have to know.”  As a matter of fact the potential girlfriend not only dressed very well but she put on makeup in the morning before showing up for breakfast. I go days without makeup and dress erratically.  No wonder my mother thinks she got gypped.
 My mother was 88 and could no longer hold an idea in her head for more than five seconds.  One day she asked me fourteen times if her granddaughter was coming to see her for mother’s day.
“She’s in California.“
“Still in California?” 
“Is she coming for mother’s day?”
“No, Mom. She’s still in California and she can’t make the trip.”
“Is it the boyfriend?”
“No she has a job.”
“Is she coming for mother’s day?”
“No. She’s in California.”
You might think this drove me crazy but it didn’t. Sometimes my voice got sharp and I thought, how can I kill her, but then I’d take a breath and look around that Felliniesque room and hang in for the long haul. 
“Is she coming?
“No, mom. She’s in California.” 
I got a little thrill using the word “mom.”  It implied a normal sunny childhood.
Just when I was certain this was the last lucid conversation we would ever have, she said, “They came yesterday to see if I was crazy.  They asked me who the president was.  I said the new Bush. I forget his first name.  I never liked the old Bush.  They asked who is the one before that?  I said. Cleenton.  William Jefferson Cleenton.  By the way,” she said, “you have to buy me chooz?” She still has her Spanish accent although she would be horrified to be told this.
“You’ve got shoes.”
“I can’t wear those chooz.  It came with a paper that says don’t wear for more than two hours. I’m not going to wear cheep chooz that say you can’t wear them for more than two hours. That’s ridiculous.”
“They mean don’t wear them too long the first day.”
“No, my dear. These are cheep chooz.  I never heard of such a thing.”
“So don’t wear them.”
“Will you buy me chooz?  Anything.” 
“I can’t understand why your daughter moved to California.  Her family is here.  You have to stay with your family.”
What emotions come to mind with mothers? Everyone thinks it’s just love but there’s fear, too. Think about it.  There is fear, too.

Thursday, April 23, 2015



This is my new favorite word.  My old favorite was Wait. What?

Whuck says the same thing but with an edge.  Whuck is weary of all the trash that goes down.

Today and all week, for instance, my local Waldbaum's had no Earthbound organic greens.  " I don't know why but they haven't come in," said the greengrocer.  Whuck????

Am I late for the party?  Did you already know about this word?

I hope you like it, too, because undoubtedly it will be used here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Selective news and Jell-O Redux

(A visitor looked at this post.  I re-read and it seemed better than most so I decided to re-post)
Going, going, gone for One Hundred and Nineteen Million Dollars

Most of us know The Scream as a painting of excruciating desolation. You have to be a learned art connoisseur to appreciate the artistic quality of this painting.  My grandmother, Farida, who suffered transplantation during WWI, would probably not have included it when she packed up the few things to put in her knapsack. 
The version of The Scream (there are four) that was in the news recently was a crayon pastel with a blood red sky. They say the figure is a man but it looks more like a woman in a shirtwaist dress reacting to a washing machine that has overflowed and is sending a cascade of suds into the wood floor of the living room.  The painting sold for 119 million dollars last week. If I sound like an ignoramus making fun of this iconic symbol of human anxiety, it is because I am an ignoramus. The artist left this explanation for the painting in his diary:
I was walking along a path with two friends the sun was setting I felt a breath of melancholy. Suddenly the sky turned blood-red I stopped and leant against the railing, deathly tired looking out across flaming clouds that hung like - blood and a sword over the deep blue fjord and town My friends walked on - I stood there trembling with anxiety And I felt a great, infinite scream pass through nature. (1892)
Norway, the artist’s home, has an extensive social welfare system. Norway has a lot of money acquired from their extraction of petroleum in the North Sea. They keep their money for their citizens and don’t dribble it away on wars and foreign aid to countries that hate them.  A compulsory National Pension plan provides citizens with benefits such as universal child support, one-year paid maternity leave, and pensions for old age, disability and rehabilitation. Norway's extensive attention to the medical and financial needs of its people translates into a long average lifespan.  Seems like a happy place to me.

Mensa, Mensa, Mensa
A two year old has been admitted to Mensa.  The toddler with an IQ of 154 can recite the alphabet backward and forward, count to 1,000 and name the planets in the solar system. Memorization seems to be the measure of genius here.  What about original thinking? Has that toddler ever had a unique thought? Can you imagine anything more dreary than going to Mensa meetings where everyone is trying to play extreme smartness. You only hear of Mensa when unlikely candidates are admitted.  If Jessica Simpson was admitted, we would be like “huh?” 

Jell-O Redux
I haven’t thought about Jell-O in decades. I was never a big fan of Jell-O (the dessert) and aspics (the savory version of gelatins).  It would take a lot of money to get me to willingly make an aspic. Last week, I was browsing the baking aisle in the supermarket and discovered a shelf full of puddings and gelatins. 
The cursing angel of good, said to me “Why the f**k are you so against Jell-O?” To my surprise, the sugar-free version of Jell-O has O calories. What?  I took a box home.  It was so good, I ate the entire portion while it was still only half jelled.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Don't show me this message again" Redux.

Note:  This is an excerpt from my favorite book: One Hundred Open Houses.    This is the book that saved me from total deterioration at a certain time in my life. My agent took me to lunch in Sag Harbor.  We changed restaurants twice.  We'd look at each other and say, You want to leave?  Let's go.  After we finally settled down and started to eat, she said, Write another book.  It's time.  I like the book Julie/Julia.  I like the structure - cooking all of the recipes in the one book.  What if I did one where the structure was looking for an apartment and going to open houses, I asked? Great, she said.  Do that.
One of the happy outcomes of having a bestseller (Three Daughters) is the spillover reader interest in One Hundred Open Houses)

Don't show me this message again!
The pseudo-porn magazine contact has sent me an e-mail with a huge file attachment  because his parent company has had ten lawyers drawing up the contract.  Lawyers on staff of large corporations are lazy and careless.  They send you boiler plate stuff written in the Middle Ages and when you point out that the terms are impossible to enact, they tell you to just cross it out.  When I try to open the attachment, the message says that the file is compressed.  I e-mail back that the file is compressed and he tells me to use WinZip to open it.  That’s like telling me I have to turn into a crocodile to open it – in other words, impossible.   I look on my desktop and there is an icon of a vice squeezing a file cabinet as when you want to glue furniture. I click on the icon and whoa! WinZip appears right over the e-mail. It says. “Do you want to unzip this now?”    I love it when the message is clear.  
Once I called Dell for advice on an e-mail problem and the tech person in Sri Lanka or wherever told me to check “Don’t show me this message again.”  The minute I checked it I realized I needed the message to get to my e-mail. He said, “I’ve been working here 10 years and I know pretty much and I could probably help you solve your e-mail problem but I have to follow the rules.”  I should have known he was telling me in a subtle way to urge him to help me but (not knowing the next help station was going to charge me to undo the damage from their bad advice,) I said, “Oh, that’s all right.”  I think the people in Calcutta or Sri Lanka have better ethics.  They are more empathetic and want to do the right thing unlike American telephone companies.  When I called back almost in tears, a soft voiced man said:  “I know one way to help you get that message back.  It’s called ‘system restore’ and it allows you to go back to any date you select and start all over again.” And that’s exactly what I did.  I went back to May 10, a Monday, when I still had not checked: “Don’t show me this message again.”
Imagine if you could do this in real life.  I’d go back to 1999 and be rich again.  And then I’d go back to 1960 and accept a date with Butch Ordway.  Or I’d go back… oh, hell, I can’t go back.  
When I first came to work here, I didn’t know how to transfer a call.  I was on overload for about two weeks and even with a gun to my head I couldn’t have told you what color the walls were.  Now I’ve used WinZip. 
I open the contract and try to compare what we sent to the pseudo-porn people and what they are sending to us.  It’s tedious and confusing and I already have a slight headache
Before work today, I went to see the dentist to see what is making the right side of my face hurt. They took an x-ray of the pain site and I thought the technician was going to look at the x-rays scream and say: oh, my god, your teeth are all messed up.  That’s not what happened.  She said my sinus was resting on the nerve. If you thought they were going to say: you don’t need us, go home, no charge.  That was not the case. The dentist looked in my mouth and said I had some fillings that were decomposing and now he’s going to do a whole bunch of things that are going to cost a lot of money.   I’m obsessing about it because in the moment of relief that my teeth were okay, I relaxed my attention and the medical establishment swooped in and mapped out a plan to keep me there for a year and separate me from thousands of dollars.
Three calls to the dentist’s office and now his whole desk staff has doubts about me.  I want to know why he can’t do everything in one visit.  I want to know how much it is all going to cost.  I want to know whether it is necessary.   For some reason the woman on the phone finds these questions unreasonable and obscure, as if no other patient has asked them before.  In the medical establishment, if you ask a question the staff always sees you as trouble. It’s our own fault.  The rules that the medical man is the king and the patient is damn lucky to be in his presence were made a long time ago.  So I have to let this bullshit dentist have his way about “decomposing”: fillings that haven’t given me one iota of trouble. On top of that, without any permission from me, he has numbed the entire left side of my face and ground down one poor tooth to a nub. “You’ll need a crown on that one,” he says.   Yes, I obsess but this dentist is nuts.  Trust me, he is nuts.
There was something on the news today that vindicates my theory that you should never have a medical procedure by the ‘top man.’ Every horror story I’ve ever heard about a procedure is always prefaced with the words ‘he’s supposed to be the top man.’
This man went in for a knee operation and when he comes out, the nurse is wheeling him to his room and says casually:  “Well you have a new left knee.” And the patient says, ”It was supposed to be the right knee.  The doctor marked it.”  Sure enough there’s a big x on the right knee but the numbskull replaced the left knee.  And the hospital is only awarding him half a million dollars.  I would have ruined that lazy crazy bastard.  I’m ready to stab that dentist who ground down my poor tooth. If someone replaced a perfectly good knee and left me with the same problem I came in with, I would never be done hunting him down.  Dr. Feldman was the name in case you need knee surgery.
I can’t stop thinking about that dentist that absolutely ruined two of my teeth and drilled them down as if he were excavating for a new subway or something.   Why do people become dentists anyway, to be legally aggressive?  Now my mouth hurts and I can’t eat peacefully. I guess I shouldn’t complain about that.
On top of this, Shana’s dog has pooped in the office and in order to kill the smell they sprayed the kind of floral scent that gives you a big headache.  I just read a story about a woman who was frequently ‘employee of the month’ but had to quit because of the excessive scents people wore to the office.  While I’m talking about scent assaults, I may as well call your attention to the soap Lever 2000.  I went up to my second floor one day because I smelled the overpowering scent of cheap perfume mixed with stale sweat.  I thought a cologne-crazed robber might be hiding up there.  The smell was suffocating and it was coming from an unwrapped bar of Lever 2000.  I began to feel nauseous and had to take it far out of the house and throw it away.  I would vote for any candidate that would outlaw perfumed soaps, shampoos or anything else.  Thank god for scent-free All.
Shana has no reprimand for the dog.  She loves, loves, loves the dog.  Twice the dog has done number two in the office.  Once right next to the hardest working employee who takes twelve hours to tell you something that could be said in half a sentence.  However, she claims to work until two in the morning (which, by the way, is Shana’s dream employee).  If you worked past seven at night, she would hire you forever even if you were dealing drugs.
So the hard worker had to go out and buy Febreze and clean up the poop and spray everywhere.  But then she said a brilliant thing and a courageous one, too.  She told Shana, there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.
I know too many people who are blindly in love with animals. Peta petitioned the government not to give Timothy McVey any meat for his last meal. The reasoning was why should one more living thing be killed for the monster. Ay, mommie!   I know people who prefer their pets to humans and many of them are women who never had children.  These people are perfectly okay with having the dog knock you down or put his muddy paws on your best silk dress. They let cats sit on the dinner table before and after you eat and only say, “Now Fluffy get off there,” in that tone that Fluffy has learned means “I love you so much, you can sit on my toast for all I care.” And Fluffy does want to sit on the toast especially when it’s still warm. 
When Oprah was on Ellen, they had a dog love competition.
Ellen:  What makes you happiest?
Oprah:  Being with my dogs. 
Ellen:  How many do you have.
Oprah:  Three and I’m getting two more.
Oprah:  I don’t understand people who don’t love dogs.
Ellen:  Me either.  Where are you going after the show?
Oprah:  To play with my dogs in the dog park.
Ellen:  I’ll go with you.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Snap Out of It" or The Power of One

Yesterday I noticed the number of my blog followers had increased by one.  Hey, I said to this invisible new arrival, I was just about to stop posting and then you hopped on the bus full of expectations. 

Here's how it has been in that quagmire known as my frontal lobe where I keep my rotational thoughts - you know the ones: I need to go to the dentist but I'm afraid he's going to throw me and my crazy teeth out.  The deck has a rotting floorboard and someone's leg might go through? I still haven't plugged in the air purifier because I can't see the settings and somehow I think I'm incapable of putting on a light.   

Turn me on, you nitwit

You complete me.  Unfortunately.

That Fit Bit I was overjoyed to receive is just lying there and the little feet are still.   

Talk to me.

    Why am I napping so much?    The new mic I was overjoyed to receive is just    lying there gathering dust. I started learning about podcasts in September.

My blog is just lying there.  I haven't done a new post in days.  What do I have to post about anyway? Maybe I'll just stop posting.  I'll go look at my stats and see how many visitors I've had besides the Russian porn sites that visit me regularly. (By the way, there's nothing you can do about these trolls infesting your blog.)

Yesterday, my new blog follower slapped me hard with an open palm and said,  "Snap out of it!"  When I'm in this state, I always think of Cher in Moonstruck where, in her typical Cher way, she slaps Nicolas Cage to startle him off his self-indulgent, transitory emotional streak.

I think that will do it. 
Thank you, new follower.  The slap hurt a little but it did the trick.