Friday, October 31, 2008
We have waited for this day. Our costumes are ready.
The Devil Dog waits for the leetle children to come trick or treating.
Instead, this is the day that the rains came down...
and we are left with this
...to deal with on our own. Not the Devil Dog, because chocolate is poison to dogs....but the Witch. She will have to deal with the detritus of Halloween 2008. Now.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Is this a non sequitar? No, it's a continuation of a conversation going on over at Mad Madge World about our changing reading habits.
There was a time when I inhaled books. My delight was in going to Crown Books (remember them?) and buying $30 worth of paperbacks, which was at least six or seven books. When I got home, I wouldn't know which to read first. I don't do that anymore. For one, Crown Books is gone and $30 buys me a couple of trade paperbacks. For another, I'm just not into that kind of reading anymore. What kind of reading is that? Escapist.
When I was reading two novels in a day (DH Lawrence, if you don't mind), I was a miserable coot stuck in a cold flat in a country where I didn't want to be. So I read. To get out of that flat. Obviously if I was reading Lawrence, I wasn't as concerned with getting out of the country.
I think another reason I don't read so much anymore is that--sigh! I've read all the great ones. Okay, that's not true, but you can't have completed the course work and exams for a PhD in English Lit without knowing, and I do mean knowing, most of what the Western world considers great literature.
All that reading spoiled future literature for me in several ways. For one, I can't turn off the critical faculty that was honed in grad school. In some ways, I know too much--about the genre, the author, the culture that produced it. So I'm never reading just for plot and the writing has to be stunning for me to notice it.
With contemporary fiction, I am most often disappointed. I've just finished The Secret Life of Bees. Eh. A bit simple. Innocuous. Sweet. Etc etc etc. Thinking that, I'm wondering what was in the contemporary fiction that I read in my twenties and thirties that was so dynamic: ah, that was the second wave of women coming into their own as novelists. Didion, Jong, Drabble, Lessing: even the mediocre books had some breathtaking piece of wisdom for me. I was learning how to live, and the novels I read were my guidebooks. Now? I guess novels can't do that for me anymore. It's not that I think I'm done learning how to live, but that the majority of the books that I see today are guidebooks for a younger woman.
Therein, I think, lies the issue: it's a midlife thing. The coming of age story or the young wife battling for her independence--they just don't have relevance when you're in midlife. I don't want to know Jo March's story; I want to hear Aunt March's version.
Whatever--it was night and dark and I was out back dumping my trash. This being an apartment complex of sorts, we don't have normal cans. We have the supersize bins with the lids that require brute strength to tip up. The kind where bodies and hacked limbs are being found. Every week the garbage master comes around with his huge truck, from which he thrusts two vicious metal prongs into slots in the bottom of the dumpster, which is then hauled up skyward until it is just hovering over the gaping maw of the truck, when the lid flies open and there is an avalanche of big black bags and medium white bags and little beige bags from the grocery stores along with tiny bags of dog shit and candy wrappers and snot rags and rubbers (the condom kind) and the aforementioned body parts and who knows what else, and then ever so gently, like a tender lover after he's finished, the metal prongs move the bin down, down, down until it is resettled on the ground and the prongs recede and the truck drives away and that is garbage collection for another week.
The Guy who Lives in the Garage watches TV on a 5" portable he's spliced into one of the fuse boxes out back. I've watched him watching. He's partial to I Love Lucy reruns and he seems to lose himself in them. He'll hunch forward on his chair as if to get right into the screen. When the payoff comes, he'll scoot back and throw his head up and his laugh both looks and sounds like a braying donkey.
Last night he entertained a guest down there. It was The Waif from across the way. She's a pathetic little creature who barely has the energy to breath vital air. She's all promise and no realization.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Today is Feeble because--well, because I say so. And I'm the boss of me, and therefore of this site, and therefore of you, should you be one of the three people still reading it.
I'm TARED. TARED as in, my dog kept waking me up this morning. Not to go out. No, Madam Molly the Cast Iron Bladder Dog never has to go out first thing in the morning or last thing at night. What she does insist on is a belly scratch or rub or both preferably, two-handed if you please. And if you're not doing it just right or in the perfect place? She kicks. Like a baby having a mini-temper tantrum. Not hard. Not painful. Just enough to WAKE ME UP. Again. And again. And again.
Currently she is snoozing, curled up with her body on the carpet (yes, the stained carpet of several posts ago) and her head on the tile floor. Soft body; cool head. Dogs are perfect examples to humans of how to go about getting what you need in life. Just go get it. And if you can't, curl up and snooze.
I am so tempted to go take a photo of Molly to illustrate this post, but I'M TARED. So lookee at this one instead.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This is a photo of my lunch. It is, some of you might recognize, a concoction from WeightWatchers frozen meals. When I was on Weight Watchers oh those many years ago, I lived on this stuff. And it wasn't bad. Either I've changed or they've changed, because this Chicken Mirabella was Mirabad. For one, the pasta, which was about ten stages past al dente, was coated in a gelatinous, yet incredibly taste-free sauce that had an odd shine to it. Almost a glow, in fact. And see that piece of chicken in the upper right corner of the dish? That was one of two--count 'em two--chunks of chicken in the dish. Since the box cover showed FIVE chunks of chicken, I believe I have the makings of a truth in advertising claim on Weight Watchers. Of course, if I won, they'd probably award me a lifetime supply of the stuff.
Fashion is the topic again on MidLifeBloggers. This time it's about the dreaded trip to buy bluejeans. Go have a look.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Back in those days, Drixoral was on Prescription Only. Then it moved to the OverTheCounter section. Then it got very popular with the Cooking Crank crowd. Then it got moved to behind the pharmacist's counter and I had to proffer and sign several documents to get my monthly dose (Ritalin was much easier to obtain--go figure). Then suddenly, apropos of nothing, it was gone. And no one knew why.
Since then I have been suffering with my odd assortment of allergy symptoms: itchy eyes, such that I'm rubbing my eyelashes into oblivion. Itchy throat, such that I am forever trying to scratch it with my tongue, a maneuver that is more attractive (and less effective) than you can imagine. Hideous fits of incessant sneezing.
So when I learned from MomCentral that there was a new allergy spray on the market, I said Yes, indeedy, send it over. It came FedEx, which you know makes me feel important and like I'm getting a wonderful present. And I tried it toute suite, which means right away (although my genders may be off because all those details to learn in French? Just too much pour moi).
It's called anywhere, because it's an anti-allergen fabric spray that you can put on anything. I elected to spray my pillows and my bed, or at least that part of it closest to my nose. As I sprayed my feather (yes, I know!) pillows, I thought out you damn dust mites; begone you household mold. At first I was a little concerned because anywhere is made by Clorox and eau de bleach was quite apparent when the fabric was first sprayed. But it dried with no odor and I took to my bed that night anticipating the first allergy-free sleep since Drixoral disappeared.
Which is exactly what I enjoyed.
But--there's always a but, isn't there?--anywhere cannot take the place of my beloved Drixoral, since I would have to spray my entire house and all therein, regularly, and constantly, and zealously. But--here's the good but--for those of you who have localized issues with allergies, dog and cat beds and the like, I do think anywhere can be the exactly right product in the exactly right place at exactly the right time.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I haven't done it for a simple reason: I lack the courage. To drive one of those behemoths, to travel endlessly and aimlessly as a single woman alone, to go into the unknown. So when Robin of MidLife On Wheels got in touch with me, I knew I had to publish her story on MidLifeBloggers. Go have a look at MidLife Crisis? Take A Trip. Does what she's done make you as envious as it does me? Anyone wanna join Molly and me in a roadtrip somewhere?
Sunday, October 19, 2008
This is an odd program. The premise seems to be that chef Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow are on a culinary road trip through Spain. The purpose? Well, there is a lovely cookbook that they're flogging at the end of the show, written by Mario with assistance from Gwyneth. I don't think of her as being a particular expert on any cuisine, let alone Spanish. Doesn't she exist on a macrobiotic diet? Or love alone? But, no, Mario has told Oprah; Gwyneth has a healthy appetite. Is that sufficient expertise? What do you think?
They are, at least in the episode I watched, accompanied by a middle-aged man who seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place him, and a lovely young brunette, whose sole purpose seemed to be to offer a visual contrast to Gwyneth. The foursome drove for a while and then dined for a while. Driving and eating, this is the stuff of great drama.
Actually, it is unscripted television at its most banal, and I'm someone who loves reality shows. But the ones I watch are produced by people who understand arcane dramatic concepts such as story arc and dialogue. The successful reality show are cast so there there is a variety of personality types and edited so there is a narrative line throughout. But the characters in On The Road Again are, with the exception of Battali, bland, insipid, a bit like rice pudding without the raisins. Further, there is no story and the dialogue--well, think of the talk at your dinner table when everyone's mouth is full. All the four can offer is a variation on the theme of "Mmmmmmmmmm."
So in some way this is a gentle form of porn, watching Gwyneth Paltrow put things in her mouth and lick her lips and moan appreciatively. Perhaps that is its purpose after all. But on PBS--isn't that too cheap a thrill?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
As one who has spent the better part of her life as a writer, I have some fond, perhaps archaic feelings about my ideas and the words I use to express them. Before the internet existed, before everyone and their uncle was a blogger, that had some meaning. Now? Not so much.
A couple of years ago I wrote a post in which I took the words Blogito Ergo Sum as my motto. Since then I've used those words and/or their translation, "I blog, therefore I am" as a constant on my site. I was a Philosophy major as an undergraduate; Descartes was drilled into my head and so it was not all that creative when I gave his words a spin because they said so perfectly what I feel about my blogging. But I went a little nutsy the other day when I saw them as a title of a session at BlogHer DC. Obviously I was not one of the panelists and obviously there are a lot of other former philosophy majors out there, but still--
Another instance: A month or so ago, I wrote a post called John McCain versus the GOP. In this week's Newsweek, Jonathan Alter has a column called, "Crushed by the Elephant." We both said pretty much the same thing. My line was "John McCain--the Hanoi Hilton didn't break him; the Republican party did" and Alter's was "a man who survived five and a half years as a Vietnam POW and a thousand political battles is being crushed by a dying elephant." Did Jonathan Alter grab my idea? Don't be ridiculous. I prefer to think of it as, great minds think alike.
The good news about blogging is that it has given a voice to me and many others who would stand shrieking in their closets if not for the internet. The bad news is that a lot of other people can hear you now. That means that ownership of ideas is impossible. I'm sure a mathematician could come up with the odds of how many people would have the same idea at relatively the same time. I'm seeing the Alter-ByJane coincidence as a teachable moment for myself, one that's allowing me to put the I blog, therefore I am incident into perspective.
Yet, there are definite consequences in the marketplace. For one, Alter got paid for his column and umpteen thousand readers (Newsweek hopes) read him, while I got bupkus and my stat reader rarely goes above double digits. But I don't think there's anything to be done about that, short of deep breathing, marching bravely into the future, and moving on.
Monday, October 13, 2008
"(cue screech music from Psycho) a woman of a certain age who was trying desperately . . . to avoid looking a certain age. . . .Being of a Certain Age myself, I felt terrifically sad that this woman had gazed out over the fashion landscape and seen no appealing style stops between Thirty-Five and...Dead. . . .deliberately dressing 20 years younger than your birth date is setting yourself up to commit a kind of sartorial shock and awe."It's taken me a month to stop sputtering at the slings and arrows that Seymour was flinging at me and every other woman who doesn't fit the New York fashion world's version of what she calls "Age Appropriate Style." What does that mean, anyway? Seymour asks us these questions: "If you have great legs, should you still show them off at 60? If your arms are trim and fit, can you go sleeveless at any age?" Hell, yes, I say. I certainly don't want to scare Seymour (or anyone else who is standing behind me in line), but my hair is long and my skirts are not because that's the way I want them. I have thought both issues through and I'm sure of my reasoning, and it has nothing to do with trying to look younger.
What bothers me so much about Seymour's edicts is that More is the only mainstream publication that focuses consistently on midlife women. They do a good job of offering articles that encourage us to take chances, break out of the box, go for as full a life as you can possibly imagine. But this encouragement clearly doesn't extend to our physical selves since the magazine offers a steady round of stick thin models wearing designer clothing. I don't know about you, but this midlife woman hasn't been stick thin since she was in her thirties, and she cannot afford, especially in this economy, $1500 dresses and $800 shoes.
So here's my challenge. How are you dressing these days? For comfort? For fashion? For yourself or your significant other? Think about it; maybe you have some photos to share. I'll publish all that I get on MidLifeBloggers.com. Let's turn that into the fashion magazine for midlifers, the one no one else is publishing.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
You order your steak or seafood or fish--in our case, it was a couple of NY strips and an order of scallops--and it arrives in front of you raw on the stone. The stone is set into a platter, which is obviously heatproof since the food is already sizzling. The platter includes a section on each side, one for the cooked potatoes and one for the raw veggies.
Up to this point, life is good and the food is wonderful. The aroma of sizzling Kobe beef, just imagine...are you drooling yet? You cut off a perfect piece of steak. Well, perfect if you like your beef rare. Which I do. So perfect for me; never mind about you. Pop it in your mouth--ooooohhh, hot hot hot. Too hot for my delicate mucous membranes. Okay, we can work around that, cut another piece and blow on it. Better, but still uncomfortably hot. Meanwhile, the rest of your steak is still sizzling away. So if you do like it rare--well, them days are gone for this piece of beef. I didn't finish my steak--I never do, should you be buying me dinner--and it was a lovely pinkish medium when I ate it at home for lunch today. However, if I had eaten the whole thing at the restaurant, by the time I finished it would have been shoe leather.
Meanwhile, over at the giant scallops stone, they're sizzling away and getting a nice carmelized crust on them. Grab them now, because in another thirty seconds or so they're going to be OVERCOOKED. Fish, seafood is funny that way; any chef will tell you that cooking it to the right consistency requires a delicate hand. I know this, so I take my scallops off the stone and plunk them in my potato area. Where they sit for a while...and get lost among the fingerlings.
And then there are those lonely raw veggies. I don't know about you, but I don't care for asparagus and mushrooms grilled dry.
So here's the thing. They've not taken this idea far enough. They're assuming everyone has (a) an asbestos mouth, and (b) eats faster than a truck driver on speed. Those of us who dine at leisure--well, we must resign ourselves to overcooked, and therefore tough, food.
One of my dinner companions, the lovely Nanny Goats In Panties (wearing black slacks for all of you who are curious) suggested the one should cut up one's meat all at once, as if one were feeding the two year old, and fling it onto the side where the veggies are. One should. Our host, Mr. Mudpuppy, did not complain. Nor did he eat his mashed potatoes, which left all the more for me--nah nah nah. I can, therefore, recommend the steak and mashed potatoes. And fling--or eat fast.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Then he lost his viable bid for the presidency to the dirty tricks of the GOP in 2000. That hurt him, and eight years later, we know how much it hurt the United States, not to mention the rest of the world. But now, in 2008, it's his last chance to do for his country what he believes should be done. The Maverick is driving the Straight Talking bus again. Except, the Dirty Tricksters are now whispering in his ear. He may be working the pedals, but they're steering the course. And he's letting them. Which is understandable for a only-too-human man, with a Top Gun ego.
Understandable, yes, but not allowable if, that is, we want to cut the free fall into disgrace of our nation. When John McCain picked Sarah Palin to assuage the GOP base, he sold himself out. In so doing he forced himself into a situation where he had to claim that the empress was, in fact, wearing clothes, and that he liked her gown very much. This is not a criticism of Palin; it is a criticism of McCain himself. They say that every person has their price, and winning the election was McCain's, I suppose. Except he probably won't win now (barring an Al Quida crisis, something I can't help thinking the Dirty Tricksters are praying for, if not outright planning. Remember Wag The Dog, won't you).
I have found it increasingly difficult to listen to McCain. He sounds like a parody of a person running for office: "my friends...my friends...." is how he begins too many statements that are clearly sound bites. I'm not your friend, John, I want to yell at him. I'm an American citizen who wants the best of and for her country. Fomenting class and race wars--that's not the best; that's the worst. The pundits are saying that McCain has no choice but to go 'dirty'. It's his last chance to change the topic of this conversation to one that suits him better. Then the pundits correct themselves to say, "well, he does have a choice, but this is the direction he's going in."
Yes, he did have a choice. If he wanted to appeal to many independent voters, the ex-Hillary voters, the Purple State Voters, it was only going to happen by virtue of our belief in the man himself. That meant not pandering to the lowest of the Conservative base, not accepting as fact that he could not win without them. If all the Rovian Republicans had stayed home, what difference would that have made in this campaign? Might John McCain be in a different place now if he had maintained his integrity and trusted himself?
That integrity was on display yesterday in Minnesota when he took the microphone from a woman who was calling Obama an Arab. "No, ma'am," he said. "He's a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with." But the rage at that Town Hall meeting, rage he tried to calm, is a product of his campaign. It's the consequence of going dirty. It made me sad to see the McCain I thought he was on display again. I thought of how much was wasted in the name of political expediency. And I thought too of how John McCain has forever besmirched his good name by sending the Straight Talk Express down that rutted, potholed, axle-breaking shortcut.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I'm not talking about mothering at midlife, raising the kids that you had when you were in your twenties or thirties. I'm talking about becoming a mother at midlife. According to Newsweek, the number of women over forty who have given birth has doubled in the past twenty years. Well, yes, of course, the advances in fertility treatments being what they are. Not to mention the blooming of Hollywood's maternal imagery machine (and, hello, isn't it cute how the fashion world has lately allowed all of us to wear what just several years ago were clearly maternity smocks).
However, motherhood at midlife happens in a number of ways, not the least of which is by adoption. It's a choice a number of couples make. Even more, it's a choice a growing number of single midlife women are making. In fact, I must confess that every once in a while, I check out the on-line adoption sites. Just testing the waters so to speak.
Thus, when I came across Liz who is chronicling her trip to adoption on her blog, Inventing My Life, I was intrigued. I asked her if she'd be willing to allow MidLifeBloggers.com to come along for the ride, and she agreed. Today we're publishing the first in the series of her posts. Right now there are seven in the series, but she's not even halfway through the process. I can't wait to find out how it goes for her.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Sunday is my Food Network Day. That's an allowable excursion into TV Land, mainly because I don't do it sitting on the sofa. Rather, I'm standing in the kitchen, cooking up my own Food Network show. Yesterday I did some conglomeration of bacon and pork and onions and greens. It was what I had in the refrigerator.
Please do not tell God that I had all that pork, because we're right smack in the middle of the Days of Awe. If God gets mad at me, he will not write me in the Book of Life for 5769 and consequently I WILL DIE.
So not only is the American Stock Market continuing to tank, but the rest of the world's as well. If I am not going to die this year, then I WILL NEED AN INCOME. Anybody out these hiring a good, marginally shop worn writer????
And what about them Cubs. Or was it the White Sox? Twitter is all a-tweet with the boys watching the game. Or maybe they're watching football. I'm not quite sure, because I haven't paid attention to boy-talk about sports, like ever. Even in high school, when I had to seem to listen, I'd really just perfected a round-eyed, rosebud mouth, "Oh really? Fascinating. Huh. That far." God knows what they were saying, because my ears were elsewhere, and you know something, no one ever called me on it. This is not a special talent that I had; it's one that most girls learned quite early. Think of it as the precurser to the "ahu hu hua ha hu hu eeeeeeeeeeee" in When Harry Met Sally. You know, the line that provoked the response, "I'll have what she's having."
Sunday, October 05, 2008
- I am battling a case of the blahs. In technical terms, that's a touch of dysthymia. I know it and--I just can't get myself to care much.
- Last night I dreamt I woke up in bedroom that I hadn't been in for some time. A large room, I had evidentally lived there or spent much time there in the past. And then I left, moved out, and thought it was now empty. But much to my surprise, when I started looking behind the furniture, I saw all sorts of stuff that hadn't been thrown out: golf clubs, for one, and other sorts of guy stuff. Was this D's stuff? Yes, I think so. Except that when I was talking about him, I kept referring to him as H (my first husband), something I never did in life. When I woke up, I thought--whoa! it doesn't take a Jungian scholar to figure that one out.
- I'm worried about the economy, my economy that is, which unfortunately is badly impacted, or so I feel, by the nation's economy. Maybe it's not and maybe I'm just reacting to the incessantly dire headlines.
- And this election has me twitching. I hate the way people are so nasty about it. I hate the way it makes me so angry and wanting to be nasty to people.
- I came back from the conference in Vegas with all sorts of good ideas for "growing" MidLifeBloggers. I can't remember any of them now.
- I can't focus on one thing to do, so I do nothing. Not nothing, because I'm not capable of just sitting. But I fritter...I knit a bit and I blog a bit and I cook a bit and I craft a bit. But all those bits don't add up to a feeling of accomplishment such that it will push me out of the blahs.
- I'm off right now to cook...and then garden...and then--I don't know.
Friday, October 03, 2008
No, the Governor was going to say what she wanted to say, directly to us, the American People. Which she did, with far too many winks and nods for my taste, but that's just me. I had high hopes for her when she started talking. When she is serious, she comes off as strong and intelligent, someone I'm proud to have representing me as a woman in politics. I feel like she could kick butt with the big boys. But then her inner Tina Fey kept slipping out and I wasn't sure if I was watching the VP Debate on NBC or Saturday Night Live. When she wasn't channeling Tina, she was good. Except when she was channeling Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality. "Yes, I am for World Peace, Gwen--and see how perky I am and how charmingly I smile."
And then there is the curious thing of her appending the Joe Sixpack name to all Americans. Or was she only speaking to the guys in the audience? What about Wendy Winecooler--is she not deserving of the GOPs attention as well?
Overall, though, I thought she did "not bad"--that's seven out of a total ten for me. I did wonder if her feet were hurting. Mine would have been after a couple of hours standing in 3 or 4 inch heels. And I wish they would leave the baby at home for these late night programs. We get the point--special needs child, integral member of the family--but really, he should be in his crib asleep at that hour. The way he gets handed around--well, it makes him seem sorta like a prop. Ya know?
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
There is a nastiness abroad that is passing for "political discourse." It is polluting the very debates we need to be having in order to make an informed decision on election day. Disagreement is when you proffer the opinion, "I beg to differ and for this or that or the other reason." Disagreement is not when you're larding your comments with sarcasm, whipping out your wit as if you were auditioning for Counterpoint. I don't care if you're on the left or the right: intelligent people make thoughtful debaters. They use reason to convince, not condescension to score points. They listen and respond, rather than waiting till the other person finishes to throw a zinger or two.
You like McCain; I like Obama...or, as was once the case, you like Obama and I like Hillary. There, we've said it, smiled and gotten on to other topics, good will and friendship intact. We have not loaded our commentary with heavy sarcasm. We have not called each other names or even implied that one of us is an idiot to not believe what the other does.
I cannot stand that hostile "you dumb fuck" tone of so much of what's being written these days. Grace D calls me the Manners Narc, because I have on more than one occasion called someone to task for slamming another's ideas in a less than collegial way. I accept the title, wear it somewhat proudly even. I learned the so-called art of debate at the dinner table with my father. It was our entertainment, but it came with certain rules: Don't get angry and don't get personal.
I work really hard to keep those rules in my discussions these days. You see, I have an absolutely vicious tongue which, should I unleash it, could flay the skin off a lizard. I know that. I've seen it happen in the past. So it's a matter of integrity, of honesty to me that I not use my ability to batter someone with my words to win a debate. And because I work so hard to keep my discourse civil, I expect others to do the same.
When they don't, I absolutely do think less of them.