Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I don't like my pasta al dente.

Call me bourgeoise. Call me low class.  But don't call me for that bs that has been foisted on us for far too long:  pasta served al dente or as I like to call it al tough and tasteless.

The name should give you a clue:  to the tooth.  Since when do we cook for the tooth?   What about cooking it some more and calling it al lingua, to the tongue.




Sunday, October 26, 2014

How do you feel about money?


A successful friend sent me a link to a webinar on wealth and abundance and because I respect her judgment I participated.

I went in a skeptic yet found some sound and useful  ideas that  I will share with you.

1.  We each have a "set point" about money that determines how much our subconscious decides we ought to have and we unconsciously structure our money activity to accommodate that set point.

            a) Our set point, a vibration level that we use to calibrate how much wealth we should have is dictated by the sum of our hidden ideas, absorbed from mom and dad and any other influences in our childhood before we could differentiate between a sound idea and a bad one.  We loved mom and dad and depended on them for our safety and wanted to imitate them.   

2. It is these subconscious ideas and attitudes that define how we regard money, how easily we get it and how we use it.

            a) If mom thought you had to work hard to earn money then you probably work hard to earn money.

            b) If dad mismanaged money or lost it in the stock market, then you probably find a way to waste money or use it in ways that do not make it grow.

            c) If dad or mom had something against wealthy people - they were superficial or obnoxious or just plain bad then you are conflicted about wealth because wealthy people are bad. 
           
            d) If your parents thought that money was "the root of all evil" then it stands to reason you would not want a whole bunch of it.

Most of us don't know we have a subconscious roadmap for wealth.  We feel our money journey is just a product of bad luck, lack of opportunity, ignorance, poor education or the economy.

I know that I used to mirror my father's attitude about money.  Dad liked to hoard money - put it away somewhere and think about it.  It made him feel secure to have it but he didn't want to USE IT.  To him, money was something physical to stash somewhere.   He didn't see it as a tool to enhance his life and circumstances.  He lived nicely but not well. He swept his own shop instead of hiring someone to sweep it for him.  He stayed close to home and never learned to drive.  He traveled by bus.  (Guess who else likes to travel by bus and mows her own lawn?  Moi.) 

One of my father's younger brothers, my uncle Charlie, had the opposite wealth profile.  He was a bon vivant who, at one time, employed a butler.  I remember that butler because I lived with Charlie at the time.  Mr. Vitezy looked exactly like Albert Einstein.  His wife was the housekeeper and they lived in an apartment over the garage at Charlie's Bethesda, Md. house.  To Charlie, money was energy and freedom.  Both brothers were equally wealthy.  The other brothers in the family were divided between spenders and hoarders but no one came close to my father's extremes

Although we think it is hard to change our wealth set point, it probably isn't.   It is hard to discover what the hidden ideas are but once they are out in the open the opportunity to topple them is possible.  If you sit quietly and ask yourself what money means to you, you'll find some interesting answers.

Maybe you feel just right about your wealth status.  I'm almost satisfied with my wealth level but upon examination, I realize my dominant habits of spending, using and making money are directly attributable to my parents.  Just knowing that has resulted in some really big changes in my money habits recently.

Start out by asking yourself some very simple questions.
How do I feel about money?  
How did my father or mother feel?
Do I see money as a tool to be used or as a physical item to be put away and accumulated?
Do I see money as an enemy or a source of freedom?
Do I see wealth as something out of reach?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What would Daniel Tiger do?


Daniel Tiger an unexceptional wimpy cub has been sucked out of the cast of the beloved Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and repurposed as a stand alone TV guru who helps toddlers navigate life's vicissitudes. 

Daniel, like Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra is all about putting out a bible for living that will get the little ones emotionally fit.

I would not have singled out Daniel out of Mr. Roger's troupe.  I might have chosen passive-aggressive Henrietta Pussycat who felt jealous and threatened by others but liked to take care of people. Or the cynical Lady Elaine Fairchild, who, in pre-TV life operated the Rapid Walking Beauty Counseling School.

Here is some of Daniel's misguided advice (annoyingly sing-songed so it stays in your head forever):

1.  Grownups come back. 

Grownups sometimes never come back.  Grownups can get fed up and move to Costa Rica and take your stuff.  You know what else doesn't come back?  Your favorite Lululemon hoodie that cost $109 and they don't make anymore.

Remember that carpenter grownup who was going to fix your porch rail?  Did he come back? Did your materials deposit come back?

2.  Rest is best. 

Rest (unless you are in a medically induced coma) is never best. Too much rest is what gifted you with fifteen extra pounds. Sitting, as you've been told, is the new smoking. Even by-pass surgery patients are up and walking as soon as they can tell you the name of the current president and their home address.

Mom, is that you?
3.  A new baby means more love in the family.

A new baby as any moron knows is most often a chaos machine and mom's hormones are so unreliable she reacts like a detonated watermelon just because the toast got a little too brown.


4. On loaning toys: You can take a turn and then I'll get it back

Even if you sing this totally misleading rule, it does not guarantee that Prince Wednesday will give you your tigertastic car back or if he does it will be in good condition.  That's why people leave a damage deposit.

How about a couple of kisses?
5. The toll to drive your car over the bridge is three kisses.

This is misleading on so many levels.  If you try that on the George Washington Bridge, they will possibly haul you off to jail.  Kisses will not stand-in for money when you apply for a mortgage.


Daniel Tiger could take a page from a French Tiger Mother's playbook:  chin up, no sniveling and give me a perfect three times table.


N.B. There is a reason why the book "Go the F**k to Sleep" is still a best seller three years after publication. The New Yorker (yes, The New Yorker) said: "Nothing has driven home a certain truth about my generation...quite like this."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Wait. What?



I read an article today titled, How American parenting is killing the American marriage. It says that American society has made parenting an unyielding religion that punishes the heretic.  If you just jerked up in your seat and said, Wait. What? I'm right with you. If someone offered that thought at a ladies luncheon we would all stop eating and stare open-mouthed because it is the thought that can't be spoken.

Below is a quote from the article and the link.

The origins of the parenthood religion are obscure, but one of its first manifestations may have been the “baby on board” placards that became popular in the mid 80's.  Nobody would have placed such a sign on a car if it were not already understood by society that the life of a human achieves its peak value at birth and declines thereafter. A toddler is almost as precious as a baby, but a teenager less so, and by the time that baby turns fifty, it seems that nobody cares much anymore if someone crashes into her car. You don’t see a lot of vehicles with placards that read, “Middle-aged accountant on board.”



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oh sheet! No really, I mean Oh sheet.

Every so often I get the idea that I'm going to trick my subconscious into making me neat and organized.   At that time, I take on a low level task.  This week it was to catalogue all of the cotton sheets I have collected over the years with a zeal most reserve for religion or charity.

When I was a young wife, cotton was out of favor (shocking , no?) cotton clothing, cotton tablecloths and cotton bed linens were nowhere to be found in middle class stores.  We were offered no iron fabrics that were the texture of thread laced packing tape. If you exuded one drop of perspiration the fabric smelled like a used tire factory.  We were uncomfortable. This was a dark era in American Life.  I was disconsolate and often sang out my dilemma to the tune of Imagine (Yes, I am committing a travesty.)

Imagine there's no cotton,
It's hard but let's just try. 
No terry, lisle or flannel 
Your linen's gone bye bye.

Imagine there's no oxford for hubby's workforce shirt, Uh uh uh uh uh
You may think I'm a weeper but I'm just one of the wives.
who prays each day for a reunion with the fabric of our lives.

I won't bore you with how they were accumulated but I have three large storage tubs of cotton sheets and pillowcases.  Like Scarlett O'Hara, I'll never be hungry for cotton again.  This stash of bed linens are not differentiated.  I have to unfold eighty-seven sheets before I come to the ones that fit my bed.  I have sheets with hemstitched borders, with scalloped borders, with plain but wide hems.  I have 300, 400, and 600 hundred thread count sheets.  I have serviceable muslin sheets that must have been made for a penitentiary or correction facility.  Their no nonsense off-white sturdiness fairly screams "I'm an overrun from a batch of prison sheets." I have flannel sheets imprinted with tiny wales, penguins and fluffy clouds.
I'm the upper crust of sheets - hemstitched!










On the appointed day I dragged the storage tubs to the middle of the floor.  I had sticky labels, a good pen and a measuring tape.  Yes, in my obsessive way I was going to measure and segregate my sheets in size piles so I could choose the ones I needed with certainty.
Really? We're organizing sheets?

After measuring three sheets I realized that no two twin sheets are the same size.  There are long twins and short twins,  The fitted sheets vary, some have elastic and some do not.  Some have expandable webbing at the corners and fit all the way under the mattress.  I quickly became imprecise and let it go.  After a couple of hours, I bundled up piles of twins, fulls, queens and kings.  I wondered who named all these bed sizes.  I guess twins were meant to be placed side by side, identical.   Fulls are not really full enough for two.  Queens and kings?  Really.  A bed is all it takes?  

I did not have any California king sheets which are sheets that could cover the state of Delaware.

The only value of this post is to make you feel better about whatever you did today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If life was perfect, we wouldn't need irony.


If life was perfect we wouldn't need irony.  God gave us irony to deal with a reality that is sometimes intolerable and often annoying.  

What is irony?  Here are some dictionary definitions:

  1. The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
  2. A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

For the true ironist that doesn't come close. Good irony is a powerful weapon. It's a stand-off.  You on one side - the offending reality on the other.  You say, "I'm going to take you down."

If we had the time to sit around and think about life, some of us would be a little bitter.  God didn't want a group of bitter people so He thought,  I'll give that group irony.  If they can make fun of everything they'll be fine. What do I care?  I made them, too, you know.  So who is the ironist here?

The dictionary gives these synonyms for irony: sarcasm, cynicism, sardonicism. I don't think so.

Sarcasm is crude.  Irony is exquisite.  There is no hope in cynicism.  Irony on the other hand is optimistic.  It's problem solving.  Look,  here's a way to turn this around and make it fun.

Sardonicism a word only used in old historical novels, is more like sarcasm.

There are people who never use or have a need of irony.  They see life as a sunny, faith driven garden of delight.   I don't discount this one bit.  It can happen. I know how to talk to these people and even like them.  I park my irony at the door and engage sincerely.

On the other hand,  when two ironists meet and recognize each other, it is a  sight to behold. They will go back and forth, giggling and nodding.  I have a friend who comes to my house when he can't find irony anywhere else.  It's like going to your favorite pizza joint.  You need a fix, a compass point, to set your path and send you back into the world.

There is a store near me called The Irony.  It's on a highway and not easy to visit but I wanted to see what I would find there.  Would there be bins with menus of ironic statements for all of life's vicissitudes? Alas, no.  They make decorative fences, gates and objects out of metal.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What I did on my summer vacation

I've done a lot of reading this summer on my Kindle.  I've discovered Live-brary and have  gobbled up Michael Connelly's crime novels.  Connelly writes two series The Mickey Haller series about a lawyer who works out of his Lincoln and the Harry Bosch series about a police detective who is a cranky loner but ultimately solves crimes.

I've tried to analyze why I favor Haller over Bosch.  What is the profile of a protagonist that takes charge of your attention and like my boarding school Mother Superior holds you on a tight leash and tells you when to look down and when to look away.

The main character, good or bad, has to be likeable.  Mickey Haller, of the Lincoln Lawyer series, is a likeable "bad" boy.  He sees the reality of a situation and is not timid about pointing it out and then using it to his advantage.  The way he points it out makes the reader agree with something that goes against values and ethics.  Here's how he opens The Brass Verdict, the second book in the Lincoln Lawyer series.

Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victims lie. A trial is a contest of lies. And everybody in the courtroom knows this. The judge knows this. Even the jury knows this. They come into the building knowing they will be lied to. They take their seats in the box and agree to be lied to.

Mickey has a great support system including a second ex-wife who handles the details of his practice with efficiency and uncanny insight. She has moved on but still likes him.   Mickey also employs her boyfriend, Cisco.  I got to like this little family of realists. Mickey's first ex-wife is not on the Mickey train but she lets him see his daughter and even has dinner with him once in a while.  Mickey's clients are sometimes guilty and he knows they are guilty but as he often says, "I'm not here to prove their innocence, I'm here to disprove the case against them and find reasonable doubt.

I do not feel as connected to the prickly Harry Bosch.  Harry Bosch will bypass the law to get what he needs but not with the same sarcastic confidence as Mickey.  With Harry, a lot of bad stuff has gone down in his life and without even knowing what it is you feel a shroud of somberness surrounding him. You know this guy has not had a good laugh recently, if ever.

This summer, I tried to read Gillian Flynn's two early novels (before the blockbuster Gone Girl).  I say "tried" because hey are both creepy but not in the same stylish way as Gone Girl. Also there's not the thrill of discovery. I know now that Ms. Flynn is going to give me something very noir.  Sharp Objects is pretty good with lots of twists that kept my attention but I skipped some parts.  There is a point where the author could have introduced something wonderful and redemptive, but she chose not to.  Dark Places is relentlessly dark in both plot and circumstances.  By the way, the author of these disturbing novels, Gillian Flynn, is gorgeous and young.


I always keep the crime novels of my good friend Sandra Scoppettone on my Kindle as emergency reading matter when I find myself waiting or on a trip.  Sandra has written more than twenty books, all of them excellent.   Her Lauren Laurano series are my go to re-reads when I'm caught somewhere without new reading material.  Here's a link if you want to check them out. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_6?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=scoppettone%20sandra&sprefix=scoppe%2Cdigital-text%2C355