Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Too much. For mercy’s sake. Too much.

Things we use too much of;

Shampoo. We use at least three times as much as we need every morning in the shower.  Some shampoo directions urge a second washing, six times as much.  That acid mantle of protection on your scalp?  Say goodbye to it. 

There is an entire movement against washing your hair with shampoo. I read the book “NO MORE POO” and didn’t wash my hair for a week.  My hair didn’t care.  Not only did my hair look flat and listless, my thoughts were flat and listless. I went back to Ivory soap, my go to cleanser, scent-free.  I just heard you shudder.  What? Not good?

Toothpaste. That big swirly inch long thing?  That's a week’s worth. You only need a pea-size amount and it probably has arsenic in it so the less, the better. They found arsenic in baby formula from China.  I wish Trump had asked the Chinese guy, "Just out of curiosity, why arsenic in baby formula? Was that a spite thing?"  


When they reported that brown rice BROWN RICE!!!! had more arsenic in it than white rice and it might be better to eat white rice, I had to sit down.  How did arsenic get anywhere near the rice?  Don’t you have to make arsenic?  Did the farmer say, I think I’ll place my rice paddy right next to the rat poison plant so my rice can benefit from the arsenic run-off.



Dish detergent – if a dish just had bread or celery or a peach on it – does it need twenty-three chemicals to make it usable again?  Hot water will do the trick.

Laundry detergent.  Who of us has believed the recommended capful is enough?  Who of us has not waited for a cover of suds to feel satisfied?  Who of us has washed 36 loads with a 50 oz jug of detergent? Who of us has not gifted their psyche to the market research people and refused to believe (as they planned) that 3X concentrated means you only need 1/3 as much?  As much of what?

Paper towels.  I use paper towels for everything.  This is wrong. I once had to pay $2500 to get a tree removed so maybe it's revenge.  I sometimes get the shorter sheets to assuage my guilt.  Wait.  I really don’t have guilt about paper towels.  

In order to save the earth, I tried the toilet paper without the inner stabalizing cardboard cylinder.  The entire roll was smushed and misshapen from shipping and there was no good place to put the roller in.  I had to dig around and ruin about half of it.

The word “so.”  Many sentences, especially answers to questions or general informational sentences,  now begin with “so.”  It’s as if we are in the middle of a saga where a snowstorm has overtaken the wagon train and everyone (including a suckling baby) is about to freeze to death.  So the travelers huddled together for warmth and prepared to meet a stern God.”

The phrase “for sure.”  This slipped into conversation about three years ago and I blame it on re-runs of “Little House On The Prairie.”  A lot of television guests slip in “for sure,” instead of saying “yes.” They think it makes them sound Sarah, Plain and Tall.  I took off all of my clothes in the movie but I’m a shy Amish prude in real life.  For sure.

When my kids were little I use to caution them like this:  “Mind the high step.  Mind, your fingers where the door closes.” I was pretending to be British and have British children otherwise we would have fallen apart.  The “for sure” disease is the same thing.  With ever more depraved behavior filling the airwaves, we hold together by talking like puritanical hardscrabble folk.

Off-topic

I’m too lazy and self-involved to be an activist.  BUT the story of Flint Michigan is ever on my mind. I lay out all the facts and can’t figure it out.   Even after they found out the people, the children, were getting seriously sick.  Even after the governments - local, state and federal - knew about the water and how it had become a horrid lethal weapon pointed at innocents.  Even after there was clear evidence that the poor people – and many of them were poor – continued to be irreparably harmed, THEY DIDN’T DROP EVERYTHING AND RUSH TO FIX IT AND GIVE medical aid to all the victims and get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness and give them all a good house with clean water and new hope. Why didn’t Oprah or Ellen go there with a big Shutterfly check and new vans?  I don’t get it.  It still weighs on me.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Publication Day - It's exciting, reflective, frightening - all those things

In April of 2014, I was "discovered" by Amazon and they re-published my historical novel, Three Daughters.  Since November of that year, the book has sold over 200,000 copies and received 2300 reviews, the majority of them five stars. (Although one woman said it was the best book she had ever read and gave it one star.  I wonder if she was being sarcastic or just thought one star was the best.) The book was originally published by Delacorte Press almost twenty years ago.  Amazon resurrected this 700 page saga and made it a bestseller.  How lucky am I?  I am grateful to the brilliant Jeff Bezos for giving writers a friendly and welcoming outlet for their books.  I am particularly grateful to my editor, Jodi Warshaw, who found me, the needle, in the huge haystack that is Amazon.

Imagine, if you can, me in a mid afternoon sugar fog, trying to decipher that initial e-mail from Amazon with the subject line: Interest in Daughters.  As I've written before, I thought someone wanted to marry my daughter.  I thought, how sweet, they are asking for her hand in an e-mail.

Early last year, I sold Amazon a new novel, Fortune's Daughters.   Again Jodi Warshaw held my hand through an arduous editing process and the outcome is being published today.  When I post in this blog, I try to offer up humor and silliness, but I can't think of anything funny today.

I know many of you have pre-purchased Fortune's Daughters and will receive it today.  Please consider leaving a short review on the Amazon site.  The review can be as simple as:  I enjoyed this book.   Reviews are the lifeblood of all books and I need your help.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MQ4TH78

Thank you to so many of my e-friends: both Carolyns, Diane, Carlaray, Mark Williams, Peggy Muller, Carol, Rod Sharp, Jeff, Sandra, Sandy, both Mollys, Michael, Susannah, Amanda Brett (we go way back), Maria, Denise, Sherry, Elizabeth (the faithful), Ruth, Paula, Meredith, Amy, Carol O., Andy, MamaRobot, Alexandra, Carin, Cheryl, Charles, Barbara S. Sandra T, Nicco, Anne, JoBeth, Kacy, Lisa Y., Neva, L.C Evans (dearest friend), C. J, Pamela, Kathleen (admiration), Chris, Mel, Linda P., Charlotte, Dona (copywriting roomie), Jane, Liz,  among many, many others.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Leave a review on Amazon today for an author you love

My new novel, Fortune's Daughters, publishes on Tuesday, May 9.  If you read it and like it, please consider leaving a short review.  I would be so grateful.

Many readers  who would not hesitate to write a dissertation, freeze up when it comes to reviewing a book.  The manifesto below should take some of the mystique out of the process.
Amazon's review system has some of the wild, wild west about it.  Readers say all sorts of things:  
This book sucks.  I fell asleep every time I tried to read it so I gave up.  I loved this book but hated the ending so much I'm giving it one star.  Haven't cooked dinner all week, can't put this book down. 
The chapters were all mixed up and some were missing.
 My book, Three Daughters, has received almost 2300 reviews and they run the gamut of emotion. I recently received a review that said, This is the best book I've ever read and the reader gave me one star.  She thought one star was the best.
I love that review because it is honest and the reader did her best.


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Penniless, insolvent and on the way to the breadline.

(Poverty redux)

The poverty level in the U.S. has risen for the fourth straight year. I don’t have a clear idea of what poverty means today. When do you reach that point where you say: “Oh, I’m at the poverty level. How did this happen?”
The conservative Heritage Foundation says living in poverty is better than many people imagine. (Possibly because none of the members has lived in poverty.) Due to housing and food subsidies, poverty doesn’t necessarily exclude having a television or two, a computer, internet service, a dishwasher or Nike sneakers. You might not be able to afford a personal trainer but you can probably get a free gym membership. Even if you’re not quite at the poverty level there are many handouts for people whose income is under a certain amount. You can receive help with your heating bill and your electric bill. You can get food stamps and could spend them on Lays salt and vinegar chips and Entenmann's powdered donuts if you wanted to.

I have some markers for what rich means. Rich is going into Citarella and throwing some Tuscan herbs into the cart without a thought even though they are 3.95 for .56 oz bringing the per pound price to $125. I don’t know if Citarella takes food stamps but I’d like to see the cashier’s face when someone hands them in. (Citarella is where I buy mesclun. The pieces are loose and it has a good ratio of radicchio and frisée to baby beet greens, etc.)

Rich sometimes means being able to take a long hot shower any time it suits you. A long hot shower especially if the shower has a built in seat and is exclusively yours, is an activity that makes me feel financially healthy if not outright rich. Also keeping the house at 72 degrees in winter. Whenever anyone walks into my house in winter they say, “It feels good in here.” You bet it does.
Poverty level varies wildly depending on the city you live in. In New York City, you can be at the poverty level and make $100,000 a year not only because of the high rents and high food costs but because the figure messes with your good sense.
“Hey, mom, guess how much this job pays a year?”
“How much?”
“$100,000.”
“Wow, Bobby, that’s a lot.”
Bobby begins charging like an AlphaPower Battery and pretty soon his Visa bill is at $30,000 from eating out and taking trips and buying rounds of drinks and before you know it Bobby is in debt and having to call Suzy Orman’s show and ask her to approve any purchase.

There are no subsidies that dispel the psychological disgrace a father or mother might feel when the family slips into the poverty level. The Brookings Institution says that in spite of having certain amenities, poor families face severe challenges. They probably have, as the Department of Agriculture so romantically puts it “food insecurity.” That’s a phrase I would use for single males living alone but it turns out it’s a phrase the Agriculture Department has for poverty level citizens. I take back everything I’ve thought and said about the dullness of government bureaucrats. Somebody there had an existential thought:
“What shall we call it when people feel they won’t be able to buy the food they want?”
“Call it food insecurity.”
“Really?”
“Yes.”
Again this doesn’t mean that you don’t have the staples or that you can compete in the poverty sweepstakes with a family from Bangladesh. It only means you have free-floating anxiety about your food supply. (Many middle-class families also have free-floating anxiety about food when tomatoes are 3.29 a pound.) The Department of Agriculture says 17.2 million households were defined as “food insecure” last year.
Even if you are living at the “poverty level” you are not destitute - a word you don’t hear much about.  The dictionary defines destitute as: lacking the necessities of life and the synonyms are penniless, impoverished, insolvent, on the breadline. I have not seen any statistics for people who are destitute.
The truly forgotten when it comes to the empathy spotlight is the middle-class, the breadwinners who are just barely hanging in there. These families earn too much to qualify for subsidies and earn too little to avoid constant worry. They are “future insecure.” They have to make ends meet all on their own and there is no safety net.

(I apologize for re-posting old posts.  It's not that I'm lazy and don't feel like writing anything fresh. Well, yes.  It's exactly that.)

Don't forget to go over to Goodreads and enter the Amazon giveaway for my new book.  They are giving away 100 copies so you've got a good chance of getting one.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32935178-fortune-s-daughters

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Giveaway on Goodreads of Fortune's Daughters

I'm Consuelo's new book
pub date May 9, 2017    


https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/231312-fortune-s-daughters




Amazon is having a giveaway of 100 books.  Use the link above to enter.

If any of my Goodreads friends would like to review this book, (digital copies only) let me know in the comments with your e-mail address.






Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hey, Weezy.

(With so much tough weather and March not going out "like a lamb" and the first 100 days, etc. we need this distraction.  This is a re-post from 2014).

The other day I was talking about Bette Davis looking around Joseph Cotton’s house and exclaiming “What a dump.”  It got me to thinking of other famous movie lines. Why do we love them so?  (Two of them are from my favorite philosopher, Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) from Gone With The Wind

What a dump.  
Sometimes I get up and say that to my house especially if it’s in disarray and I have just visited a person who lives in a really good house while I still live in what the realtors like to call a ‘starter house.’  That’s realtor speak for “Let’s face it, that’s all you can afford.”  My house can hardly be called a starter house since I have already had all the children I can have and they are out in the world with their own kids.  I should be living in my “finish” house with all the money I accumulated.  Where is that money by the way?

Most times I LOVE my house especially in winter when the big fat iron radiators are scalding hot and the rooms are like a sauna.  When I come home after a trip I say, “Hello, my friend.  I missed you.”

You can’t handle the truth.
My first response is, “You’re right.”  I can’t handle the truth. There are all kinds of truths.  Some truths are always changing and some never change. If the truth has to do with my self-delusional mistakes where I wasn’t paying attention or just let whatever happened happen, then I need a shot of whiskey before absorbing it. After about a minute, having fortified myself, I would let the truth wash over me and seep into my consciousness and if I don’t die on the spot I guess I can handle the truth. 

You done had a baby, Miss Scarlett and you ain’t never going to be no 18.5 inches (in the waist) again.  Never.  And there ain’t nothing to do about it.
The speech Mammy gives to Scarlett after the birth of Bonnie is a good reminder that once we’ve had a baby we will probably not ever have Gisele Bundchen’s butt no matter how many squats go down.  More important, our girlish consciousness will be replaced by a gritty (grim?) confidence.  We have been to a strange place.  Even Snookie got it.  “It’s different now,” she said.

Mr. Rhett you is bad!
What’s that rustling noise I hear? “
Lawdy Mr. Rhett that ain’t nothing but my red silk petticoat you done give me.
Nothing but your petticoat?  I don’t believe it, let me see … pull up your skirt.”
 Mr. Rhett you is bad. Yo lawdy hoo hoo!”

We love a bad boy.  Always have, always will.  I’ll take a bad boy anytime.

I don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ babies!”
Who hasn’t exaggerated on the resume only to have it come back and bite. 
Prissy could have walked a little faster to get the doctor.

You complete me.
I have never heard this quoted with any seriousness.  It’s always a joke as it should be.  We come into this world complete and we leave it complete.  Any missing parts have to be self-generated.

(This notion that we need another person to complete us is one of the more misguided myths alive today. The origins of the “soulmate” are found in the writings of Plato who surmised that there was once a “super race” comprising both male and female in one person. They were getting too powerful so Zeus cut each of them in two. This forceful separation left both halves desperate to be reunited.)

Love is never having to say you’re sorry.
This ridiculous idea is exactly what was wrong with the Fifties and even the Sixties and Seventies.  The truth according to MGM.  Wrong. Unrealistic. Delusional.

Hey Weezy.  

Oops how did that get in here although if there’s a better example of a good working marriage than George and Louise Jefferson's, I can’t think of it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I haven't prayed seriously in a long time.

(Disclaimer:  this is not a thoughtful discussion on religious beliefs.)

I haven't prayed seriously in a long time, but when Deepak Chopra sent me an e-mail with the subject line: Does God Listen to Prayers? I thought, hey, I want to know that.  Usually I approach God like this: I get up from a chair and my knee hurts. I say, Oh, god. That is shorthand for Really?  It has to hurt just to get up? My lazy default expression to many events is, Oh, my god!  Sometimes, if I look around my house and feel reasonably good and all my kids are okay, I say, Thank you, Lord

I had very formal and intense religious training at the hands of the Pallotine nuns, the German strain.  I know how to sing the Catholic mass in Latin.  I have no idea why I talk to God in this lackadaisical way. Do I think there is a man/woman sitting on a throne up in the clouds who hears me and looks down and thinks, Huh, look at that.  She thanked me so I will reward her with some peace and happiness?  Yes, that's what I probably think in my crude brain stem. But wait - that can't be, right?  A throne?  Up in the clouds?   That makes no sense even to a seriously religious person.

Ever since Google, Skype, the Cloud, etc., I believe in miracles, I believe even more miracles are in the pipeline. I believe that God is so tired of our uninteresting demands and whining he/she is allowing humans to make their own miracles.  In the near future, we will be able to jiggle our brains and manipulate our abilities and emotions. Unhappiness will be a thing of the past.  We will live in a sappy, giggly uninteresting world.  There will be no more writers because if you are already happy, why write?

Deepak's e-mail said the reason we don't get answers to our prayers is that (I'm paraphrasing here) our intentions are muddled and unfocused.  Unanswered prayers are the product of a mind that is restless, shallow, conflicted, or unable to focus.  Guilty as charged.  But wouldn't you think that God has some sentimental affection for the restless and shallow among us who are unable to focus?  Wouldn't he just say, Oh for goddsakes, that woman is never going to be able to focus, just give her whatever she asks for.  Does she even know what she wants?  Of course she doesn't.  Just give her something she asked for in the past. She might even figure it out. 

God actually did that for me and I did figure it out. All my adult life I had yearned for a newspaper column where I could express all my ideas and throw them out to the world and utilize the tyranny of my discontinuous mind. * I was certain that I had some good ideas.  From time to time I published op-ed pieces in The New York Times and Newsday, but I yearned for a regular gig.  Once Mort Persky, the editor of SHE, a sister publication to Playboy, asked me to write a column on sex.  “Mort, I screamed, I was raised in a convent boarding school.  We put on our clothes under our nightgowns.  I can’t even type the word “sex” without looking around for Sister Francisca to come and slap me.”  “That’s exactly why I asked you,” he said.  Sone  It was only recently that I figured out that this blog was the answer to my prayers.  I get to talk about anything and it's a regular gig.


*Richard Dawkins’ essay in The New Statesman, Escaping the Tyranny of the Discontinuous Mind is about something serious but applies to me in a silly way.