Saturday, March 30, 2019

Oh no, oh no, oh no!

Last night something happened to me that seldom happens.  I was sick, painfully sick.  I was going to say sick as a dog but I’ve noticed that dogs are hardly ever sick.  They can eat a decaying hotdog out of the garbage, lick some slurpy liquid off the sidewalk and still dance around and chase a stick until your arm comes out of its socket.

I was in such discomfort that I begged God to help me.  I writhed in pain  - how do you writhe in pain?  You turn hither and yon and rub where it hurts and stretch out and do it all again - and then I said, “Oh God, oh God, oh God.  Help me.”  Why would I think that after months, maybe years of no direct communication, God would drop everything at 2 a.m. on a Friday night and say, “Rise, take up your pallet and walk”   But you know what?  God did help me.  I took three sequential baths and walked around and got out my hot water bottle and did a few other things that are too gross to mention.  Finally, soaking wet from my third bath, I wrapped myself in a big towel and got in bed.  I tried my breathing technique and finally fell asleep.  When I woke up four hours later, the pain was gone.  I still felt very tentative about my stomach but I could manage it and I could walk around without wishing I was dead.

The takeaway here (besides God) is that sound, as in SOUND, even whining sound is very helpful when you are in pain.  Feel free to talk out loud about how much it hurts.  Oh, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. Groan and say oh, no, oh, no. oh, no.   Fortunately, I live alone.  

I thought I should write this all down in case you are ever in that situation.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Suborning: that's when you have your baby in a submarine.

We hear these new awkward words every day.  Our drunk uncle tells 
us what they mean.

Collusion:  This is when I’m driving and a dentist in a 
Range Rover crashes into me.

Perjury:  That’s where you go to throw up when you have an 
eating disorder

Suborning:  That’s when you have your baby in a submarine

Subpoena:  That’s the green soup I don’t like. 

 Delegitimize:  That’s when you try to delete something by resizing it 
in a minescule font so nobody can read it.

Dossier:  That’s when you can't stay awake during Roma.

Fisa!   That stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act   
That’s some serious sh*t.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Oh, Will, wherefore art thou?

This morning I showered early took my ipad into the kitchen and listened to a YouTube meditation while I tidied up.  I felt calm and in control.  I was going to fast for the next ten hours.  I was a grown up with will power to spare.

AT 8:45, hunger began to knock. Ping, ping, ping.  I made this to protect me:
No kale but avocado and red cabbage

I wrapped the bowl to keep it fresh.  It sat on the counter undisturbed.

Around 9:05, moving robotically, like The Manchurian Candidate, I opened the freezer and found this.
48 ingredients,40 of them not food

I microwaved it, cut it into dainty sections and ate it while moving around the room. 

Around 10:35, I was surprised to find this on the shelf and then in my hand:
How did you get in my house?
It held seven three inch tamales stuffed with a smidgen of ground beef in mild chili sauce
I ate four of them michrowaved and three straight out of the can. 


Is life, as one of my children puts it, just one long act of de-assholefying yourself and then you die?

It is 6:00 p.m. and here's the good news and the bad news.  The good news:  After the last tamale and a thorough tooth brushing, I forgot about food for the rest of the day.  I answered my e-mails.  I wrote this post for my blog after which I de-cluttered the lower kitchen cabinets.
You're going to miss me
 For the "home exchange area" at the local recycling center.
And the bottom drawer of my dresser.
I'm going to miss you
For BigBrothersBigSisters.

The bad news:  there is no bad news. The same robot that made me eat also reclaimed the day and got hold of it.  Maybe learning that I could do that was the lesson here.  All is not lost over a 6-inch pizza and seven three inch tamales.  Somebody gave me a shove and said, "Get over it and keep going."

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I've got your back. It's who I am.

What do you hate?

I hate it when people rush to distance themselves from a social idea and say, “That’s not who I am.” I am flummoxed to hear that anyone has parsed all their private and public values and know who they are.  I have no idea who I am and sometimes when I’ve done something questionable, I will look in the mirror and say, “Who are you?”  Joe Biden used the phrase the other day speaking for himself and all  the citizens as if he is our Uncle Joe.   He said Americans wouldn’t want to keep illegal immigrants  from crossing the border because that’s not who we are. 

Gayle King, repurposed Oprah friend, uttered the sentiment (once removed) about Meghan Markle.  The Duchess re-gifted her baby shower flowers to Roses Repeat who gave them to the homeless, the cancer ridden and the elderly.  There was a picture of a young girl - her head bald, her leg in a medical boot, holding an elaborate bouquet.  Gayle said, “I thought it was a very sweet thing.  It just speaks to who she is.”  Hmmmm.

Truth is, our core personality is in the grip of a subconscious secret game plan hatched when we were a year old and didn’t know the difference between a pebble and a Cheerio.  It’s almost impossible to get a copy of the dossier of who we are and discover our m.o. 

Anything else?

I hate it when you’re going somewhere or doing something and a non-reflective dolt will say, “Have fun.”   Fun is personal and infrequent.    You only know you’ve had fun after it’s over. Fun is so impromptu that it makes me hate fun. Sometimes, in order to preserve fun you have to cut it short. A lot of times people will say “that was fun,”  Usually, they mean it was a passable experience that didn’t totally depress them. 
Is that it?

No. When a naif says someone “has his/her back.”  It's  a buzz phrase on the airwaves.  CarShield has my back, this woman says.  No. They don’t.  One man is certain that The Hartford has his  back. No. They don’t.  The only situation where someone might have your back is if a friend went with you to the emergency room for a sprained ankle and the doctor misread your chart  and decided to take out your gallbladder.  So when you were alone, the friend put all your clothes back on and helped you hobble out of there and drove you home. The only person who might have your back, in other words look after your interests with anything more than casual curiosity, is your mother and that will end when you are about fourteen and  she realizes that your interests are opposed to her interests.  No one has your back.  Have fun.

Is there anything you do like?

I used to like the expression, “I’ve got this.”  It’s smart nuanced quick talk.  “Don’t worry about that difficult  task.  I’m going to take it off your hands and do a good job.” I wouldn’t mind saying it myself but  I don’t want to take any task off anyone’s hands.

There’s one other thing I like a lot.  Michael Phelps, the gold medal champ in swimming, didn’t have a warm personal image.  Now he is my new very interesting hero.  In a public service spot he  talks about being in the pool hour after hour and it’s just Michael and his thoughts and the bottom of the pool.  He was prone to depression and anxiety.  He didn’t know how to talk to people.  All he knew was how to swim and win gold medals.  He got help.  He talked to someone.  And it helped.  See?  When you are authentic and don’t go on too long, people like you.

Then there's this.  I thought I was too old to have a crush on an actor but I have a crush on Jon Tenney who plays the love interest to Kyra Sedgwick on The Closer.  I think it takes a particular kind of man to tease a woman gently and she is comforted by it.   Fritz (Jon) teases Brenda Lee (Kyra) gently.  When she (reluctant to have him move in) asks “How do I know after you move in that you won’t stop liking me?”  He answers, “Because if I was going to stop liking you, it would have happened by now.” I like that.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Any show billed as "heartwarming" count me out.

Any show billed as "heartwarming," Count me out. Heart wrenching. Heart stopping, Heart healthy. Out. Out. Out.  Inspirational? Sorry, out.

Any dancing with the word Celtic attached to it. Out.  A row of stocky women dancing in unison using their hips and legs like pistons? (I don't know what pistons do but it sounds like they explode into action.) What if the dancers levitate and defy gravity?  Out.  Throw in all  precision dancing including the Rockettes. The beloved Rockettes? They practiced so hard. We don't care.  Buh, bye.

Any show where the hero's name ends in i as in Benji. I'm out. I do like to watch Lassie and Timmy in the old series for the politically and socially incorrect dialogue and behavior. The kids are left alone all day. They sleep in the woods with their head up against a log.  The fat kid is named Porky.  Grandpa calls the gypsies that squat on his land varmints.  

Any show presented by Hallmark.  Especially around Christmas.  Especially if a poor abandoned kid wants to be reunited with his father and the miracle of the Christmas Wish brings back a sad failed drunk.  In this vein, it's getting tedious watching Ellen give all that money to "deserving" people.  Ellen has devalued the dollar all by herself.   "You get ten thousand and you get ten thousand."  We might as well smush Christmas and Hallmark and Ellen together and call it Hellemas We don't have to fight about who gets to put up chreches and menorahs in the village square.  An all-inclusive holiday will be Hellemas and the symbol is a giant check made out to each of us from Shutterfly.  (Aside:  my daughter reminded me that George Bush sent everyone a check for $300 when he was president.)

I don't want to see any more sassy women in sit coms.  If I'm hungry for sass, I'll look up Leslie Jones on You-Tube, the queen of epic dangerous sass. I don't want to see any more clueless husbands either.   

I've never watched This Is Us because of the bowing and scraping when one of the actors wearing a mantle of preciousness does a guest spot. If anchors/hosts are genuflecting and professing bouts of sobbing I know there's fake greatness going on.  I made the mistake of watching hyper hyped Modern Family.  I saw a caricature of gay marriage. The kids have amazing insight. Annoying.  Sofia Vergara speaks ten decibels louder than everyone else. She's a bit of a bully, too. 

I sometimes watch very old shows on the Cozi Channel.  I saw an episode of Little House on the Prairie where the new schoolmaster who has an anger management problem begins beating hard on the kids with a stick and hates Laura. Riveting.  Hates Laura????????  I can only watch episodes of LHOTP before Mary goes blind.  Then she marries a blind man and I have to figure out how they do everything.   No.  Here's where I might condone a Christmas Miracle and a Shutterfly check. 

On Starttv, I've discovered re-runs of Medium- eerie and good. Cozi has Murder She Wrote, mindless and fabulous to accompany a late lunch.  The Nanny, still good (when you are up early.) Will and Grace- fresh the first time, tiresome and annoying now. Somebody please tell Debra Messing. The Rockford Files- Jimmy Garner is still engaging.   
You've still got it, girl

You-Tube special episodes of The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy are amusing. Only epic wins and epic fails.  Satisfying and often inappropriate.  

Note:  Recently I saw this sentence and it stopped me.  "Awake for sorrow and unsorrow."  I think about that sentence a lot and it makes me want to be a better writer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ode to Elon Musk

As he choked back tears and rubbed eyes that were gritty
Elon moaned to The Times that his life was quite shitty.
No one knows what it takes to make self-driving cars.
No one knows what it takes to get people to Mars.
So much could go wrong and it's all on my shoulder
It's like that guy Sisyphus pushing the boulder.
I sleep here in the factory, eating bad cheese and crackers
while a gaggle of short sellers makes one billion smackers.

My children are strangers, my house so melancholy
I need help!  I need help.  To continue this folly.
And my birthday alone with no friends and no cake.
Please help me wake up from this horrid mistake.
Otherwise I just find it is too sad to handle
Not a song, not a wish cause there weren't even candles.

The tweet about Tesla might have been premature,
We could take it private; of course now I'm not sure.
He was stoned, they surmised. He was tweeting from bars
If I'm high it's on dreams about dying on Mars
The directors were startled and came after me. 
Who I really pissed off was the S. E and C.

I was Forbes favorite star, the most blessed event
Wunderkind, genius, unstoppable gent
Now I crawl like a dog through the factory's basement
While the board in their mansions find my replacement
I might be unhinged, going nuts, you would, too.
But, in truth, there is nothing much I can do.
Because I see a future that is quite fantastic 
And to bring it about takes a life this monastic

The worst might be over for the firm's in good form
After all, what I sell is escape from the norm
But I'm bracing for torture in my personal life
Cause the short sellers are not done giving me strife
They are pushing a story that Tesla's run out of luck
But why? You might ask. Aah.  The almighty buck.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Proust Questionnaire

Vanity Fair Magazine has a feature, The Proust Questionnaire, that they give to famous people. I gave the quiz to myself.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?  
Finish writing a book late at night and crawl into bed perfectly satisfied that I have been rescued yet again.

What historical figure do you most identify with?  
Andy Warhol.  He interpreted the world around him with childlike brutal innocence. His take on life is mostly my take on life.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  
Talking too much. Responding when silence would do. 

What is your greatest fear?  
Choking to death and there’s no one around.  Choking is circumstantial not inevitable. I don’t want to die circumstantially.

Which living person do you most admire?  
Jerry Seinfeld. He has figured out who he is and doesn’t apologize.  When Seinfeld was over and he was left with a ton of money, Jerry returned to stand-up, a tough crushing world.  "I didn’t want to be another rich guy, I wanted the griminess," he said. 

What is the trait you most deplore in others?  
Taking too long to give information.  As a novelist, I happily talk to everybody but I don’t like long-windedness from self-appointed specialists. On the other hand, you can take as long as you like reconstructing, minute by minute, the day you gave birth to little Suzy.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  
Telling the truth.

What is your greatest extravagance?  
Keeping my house hot in winter.  My utility company sends me “heat shaming” messages saying I use twice as much power as my neighbors. "Oh, really?  I notice you still cash the check.”  When people come into my house, they say, "It feels so good in here." By the way, I don't use air-conditioning in summer.

What is your favorite journey?  
I am mildly agoraphobic. I like to stay home.

On what occasion do you lie?  
I lie all the time.  I believe lying has saved the social system from chaos.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?  
Too short.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  
"I know." (Spoken with surprise and delight as an answer to everything I agree with.)

What is your greatest regret?  
Turning down a sex column offered to me by Mort Persky when he was editing the female version of Playboy. “Mort,” I said, “I was raised in a convent school.  I put on my nightgown over my clothes and then undressed.”  “That’s why I want you,” he said.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?  
My brilliantly funny children.

Which talent would you most like to have?  
I would love to be a world-class tap dancer.  How can you not want to tap dance? Fred Astaire was the coolest person on this earth.

What is your current state of mind?  
Recovering.  Kafka would understand.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? 
I would be six inches taller and that would change everything else - the 
talking, etc.

 What do you consider your greatest achievement?  My book, Three Daughters, has sold almost half a million copies.  It is over 700 pages long.  My greatest achievement, however, is poorly edited, rambling, at times incomprehensible, One Hundred Open Houses. Reading passages from that book lets me know I’ve done something important and lasting and occasionally hysterically funny.  

What is your most treasured possession?  
Two thin pure gold bracelets given to me by the most generous and loving woman I know, my Aunt Mary.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?  
Overeating and then overeating on top of that.

What is the quality you most like in a man?  
Most women ask for humor in a man.  I like a man who quietly fixes things.  Most likely, other good qualities will follow.  

What is the quality you most like in a woman?  
To do her best and move forward with the hand that is dealt.  

What do you most value in your friends?  
There’s a phrase in fiction, “they fell on each other.”  I like a friend that you see coming toward you from down the street and you just grin at each other because there is perfect understanding and then you fall on each other. I don't have many friends.

Who is your favorite writer?  
I don't have a favorite writer. I admire Elizabeth Strout for Olive Kitteridge, Ernest Hemingway for A Moveable Feast.  Andy Warhol for The Andy Warhol Diaries, Jeannette Walls for The Glass Castle.  I'm sure there are many others I can't think of right now. 

Who is your favorite “hero” of fiction?  
The seriously flawed yet charismatic Mick Haller. Michael Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer exhibits ironic humor, generosity and street smarts while always acknowledging his flaws and past mistakes.

Who are your heroes in real life?  
Me, Consuelo Saah Baehr. With a lot of good luck I have re-invented myself dozens of times and always landed in a good zip code. I also admire Jimmy Carter, he was considered a clueless hick by the press but he kept on going; Elmore Leonard, an honest, prolific working writer until he died; Tony Bennett still singing complicated love songs.  I like people who don’t stop and complain and feel victimized. That said, I love to complain and consider it one of life’s pleasures.

What are your favorite names?  
This is a stupid question. 

What is it that you most dislike?  
Cheap, overly manufactured food (or clothes).  Think Chips Ahoy, boxed macaroni and cheese, soft, white sliced bread.  On the other hand, there are “Fritos.”

What is your motto?  
It used to be a line from a forgotten poem, “Like everyone else, I am being tortured to death.”  In the last ten years it is from a poem by Mark Van Doren, “I’m a sucker for things the way they are.”