Friday, May 31, 2013

Oh, No! FOMO!

The only thing I miss about my twenties is my hair.  I had a stress-inducing job as a middle-school teacher, a job for which I had training but for which I was completely unsuited.  I had 175 pounds of ugly fat and a beard in the form of a stress-inducing and unsuitable husband. (To be fair, there was stress, if not blubber and a beard, on both sides.) But my hair was long and shiny, unravaged by dye jobs and age, and I could cut the split ends myself for free.

So, no--coiffure aside--I don't long to be twenty again, especially when I read about the poor millennials and how they suffer from plagues that were unimaginable in my day, plagues like FOMO.

Glued to their devices, they are unable to maintain eye contact with the world, or enjoy much of what little fun they can afford, because of "Fear of Missing Out." Like the inhabitants of the Second Circle of the Inferno (that would be Dante's Inferno, not Dan Brown's), they cannot settle on anything, and are blown hither and thither by the winds of social media. 

William Blake's version makes it
look like they're being flushed through an intestine.

What are they so afraid of missing out on? Gossip about the Kardashians? The latest episode of Game of Thrones? A drink at a bar with people who are so much more fun that the ones they are with? BIngo. Those who are dissatisfied with their lives for larger reasons (student loans, dead-end jobs, living in their parents' basements) are afraid of missing out on social opportunities, and, phone in hand, they are powerless to stop scrolling and trolling, even though it may make them feel worse.

Talk about life skills that have gone the way of white gloves and wide-legged suits. Does it never occur to these poor little things that if they paid more attention to who they were with and what was really going on they could turn off the phone?  They could decide for themselves, with their own psyches, without, gasp, the services of an app, who was boring, who was interesting, who was worth spending time with. 

Wowie Zowie!  In the olden days, we had to figure it out and deal with it on our own. Since we didn't have to actually see or hear our not-so-faraway friends and acquaintances getting shit-faced without us, or twistin' the night away, or generally jackassing around, we were free to imagine that they were moping around the hacienda or stuck with Aunt Prissy at the family BBQ. Even on those occasions when we had to suck it up, and try to be cordial to those around us, even if every cell in our bodies was screaming "listen:  there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go", we didn't have to feel bad about it because we couldn't check out that universe on Facebook, twitter, Instagram or whatever;  we could let it go and worry about it later, or more probably, not at all.

The beauty of Geezerland is that I can selectively live in the future, or the past.  Not only do I have no Fear Of Missing Out, I actually experience LOMO, or Love of Missing Out. I quite enjoy the empty mailbox, the quiet phone, the white spaces on the calendar. Best of all, there's no app needed. No app. Just nap. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Good News of Salvation

I guess all us non-believers can stop waffling about whether to be wishy-washy agnostics or hard-core atheists.

According to The Pope Jesus redeemed everyone, even atheists.  So, I say, go for it!  What do you have to lose? Embrace your godlessness, because thanks to P-Franks, we now know that J-Christ is the Honey Badger of Redeemers: as long as you are good, Jesus Don't Give a $#!%.  Kind of like Santa Claus.

Actually, I don't say, "Go for it," I say, "How creepy!" The Pope can't really be trying to impress those of us who naturally DGAS, can he? Is this something like little Catholic kids baptizing their gerbils? Does he think there is a chance to become the patron saint of patronization? Is it some sneaky Mormonic way to improve his stats with the lord by beefing up the enrollment?

If, however, he is trying to give the Vatican right-wingers another reason to make their pinheads explode, I say, "Bravo! Bravissimo!" 

A Trouserville Thank You to Sister Trixie who alerted me to this excellent news.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"The Devil Made Me Do It,"

quipped Pope Francis after laying hands on a man in a wheelchair on Sunday in what some Vatican sources in an attempt to downplay the event are terming an unintentional exorcism, but which actual exorcists are claiming as a full-fledged casting out of devils.

"I could see Satan inside that young man, sticking his tongue out at me, and rolling his eyes, and wiggling his horns, so what else could I do against such evil?  I had to slap him upside the head," said Francis. "It felt good."

The young man/spawn of Satan reportedly heaved several times and collapsed.  The Vatican denies that this was a flashback, or post-traumatic panic attack, triggered by the sight of a man in a cassock approaching him with outstretched hands and then laying those hands upon him.

Satan watchers are thrilled that the new Pope has such excellent anti-satanic skills, and are hoping he can bring them to bear on such devilish tricks as global warming, hurricanes, tornadoes and the continued popularity of reality TV, especially Dancing with the Stars. Satan worshippers are, however, keeping a wary eye on Francis, whose activities they view as a threat to their religious practices.

The Vatican Office of Liturgy has announced that, in honor of Pope Francis, congregations may, if they choose, replace  reciting The Lord's Prayer with singing The Witch Doctor.

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Man On The Galloping Horse

No, not the Lone Ranger, but the galloping ghost of housework.

I was trained in housework by my mother who ran a pretty tight Germanic ship dirt-wise in spite of the size and rowdiness of our family. No floor considered clean unless it was scrubbed on hands and knees.  No toilet spared the disinfecting bleach rinse. Dusting to include the part of the side table that was under the doily. Clean towels every day, and I assure you our house was no luxury hotel. Achtung, Baby!

Do I follow in her footsteps, mop in hand, scrub brush at the ready? No, I do not. I follow in the footsteps of my paternal grandmother, Nanny, an altogether more lackadaisical housekeeper.  Her standard was that if something (dirt, scum, crack in the plaster, baked-on grease, dust bunny) was "not so's a man on a galloping horse would notice," that meant it was clean enough for anyone, or at least anyone as Irish as we were.  

I am a lucky woman.  I have the good-enough cleaning service every other week, and while they are not up to my mother's standard, they are not of the galloping horse variety either. 

But even a tidy, relatively clean house inhabited by two adults can harbor things that will knock the Man right off his Galloping Horse.

A couple of weeks ago we returned home after a few days away to be met by the dreaded mold smell. The dehumidifier was turned on immediately even if it was 40 degrees outside.  But the mold smell lingered. It took me a few days (told you I took after Nanny) but eventually I realized that the dehumidifier didn't do a darned thing for the source of the stench:  the garbage disposal.

Being the lazy-ass sloven that I am, I tossed a used-up lemon in it and called it a day.  For the next few days I focused on the lemony aroma instead of the lingering moldiness.

It was only when something (turned out to be date pits) was rattling around in the disposal and I had to stick my hand in it to pull it out (yeah, yeah, I know that is worse than running with scissors) and I inadvertently yanked the rubber gasket out that I saw it:  the layer of sludge all over it, and, as it turned out, all over the other non-removable gasket, including the invisible, but reachable, underside.

Okay, it wasn't this bad.
I didn't have to put on a bunny suit to clean it.
Skeeve! Gag! Retch! I almost grabbed for the bleach, but then I thought that it would probably do something dire to the plastic gasket, and then I'd be off to the races trying to track down a replacement which would cost $7.13 plus $6.00 postage.

Turns out that white vinegar works.  Makes your house smell like a pickle factory, but it works. Eventually. After a lot of scrubbing.  A lot of soaking. A lot of scraping with a toothpick. A lot of sticking your hand into the garbage disposal with a vinegar soaked paper towel wrapped around your fingers. 

Later I found this charming article from Fluff-Po that recommends using vinegar ice cubes. Tempting, but after once hearing a story about how my husband's grandmother ate a tub of sherbet that turned out to be brine shrimp fish food I have never liked to put oddments like vinegar ice cubes in my freezer.

I know that I told you the other day that my mantra was Honey Badger Don't Care, but I'm here to tell you that if Mold can knock the Man off the Horse, it can kick Mantra's wimpy butt any day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Girl Pearl

I'd just returned from my annual doctor's visit with new resolve to eat more salad and less candy for a few weeks to drop the winter flab-ola. Seemed a small price to pay for postponing if not avoiding my cardiac destiny.

I thought I had come to terms with the luck of my genetic draw.  If I can't eat unlimited Cheetohs and Ring-Dings, I won't cry. But then I read about Pearl Catrell.  Boo-hoo! Hand me my hankie!

Pearl just celebrated her 105th birthday with a ride in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.  Why did this lovely lady get such a treat?  Because she attributes her longevity to her daily consumption of bacon--crispy bacon--two slices for breakfast and maybe another couple of slices for lunch. Bacon! Demon bacon! Who knew?

Truthfully, I suspect Pearl's longevity comes from her ancestors who appear to be a lot of hard-working Texas farmers who actually worked on the land instead of collecting enormous subsidies from the pork barrel. For Pearl, the bacon is the gravy, the ice cream, the hot fudge sauce on top of that pile of lucky genes. 

But, what if?  If only she were right.  If only eating a couple of strips of salty, fatty, nitrate-laden char was the real fountain of youth.  

Nutrition information comes and goes in a Seussian whirl of no-fat, low-fat, good-fat, bad-fat. 

Worry floats from additive to additive. Remember the cyclamates that gave Tab it's polarizing taste:  can't live without it/wouldn't drink it if I were in the middle of the Mojave dying? 

Now we are told to worry/not worry about high-fructose corn syrup, to worry/not worry about about GMO's, to worry/not worry about aspartame.  (All I can say is, at least I don't live in China where I might have to worry about rat meat sold as lamb.)

I'd like to believe that Pearl is right, but the nasty voice of reason whispers, "Dream on."  So, I'll dream. But, if movies are our dreams, then I'll take comfort in this scene from Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973), in which, according to the IMDb, "A nerdish store owner is revived out of cryostasis into a future world to fight an oppressive government." Not nutritionally oppressive, though.

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.

Trouserville: We should all live so long!

Fun (?) Fact from the Trouserville Memory Bank:  While Tiger's Milk is now a brand of nutrition bar, it was a canister of dried up nutrition popular in the 1970's. Don't ask me how I know that it tasted like garbage.

Trouserville Thank You to my sister Trish for letting me know about Pearl.

Friday, May 10, 2013

My New Mantra

My New-woo-woo Age days are long gone.  Haven't seen those chakra crystals in years.  Hope I didn't mistake them for candy. I'm as likely to levitate as to meditate and all the weirdo books have been passed on or reincarnated. That doesn't mean I can't have a mantra.  You know, a nice, comforting little catchphrase to help negotiate the downward spiral.

Thanks to my nieces, who keep me au courant with You Tube, I now have a doozy. Not only do I have a mantra, but I share it with a totem animal:  Honey Badger.  Not Honey Boo-Boo, although I'm sure she would make a fine totem and she does generate a steady stream of mantra-worthy comments ("a dollah makes me hollah"), but Honey Badger.

Honey Badger is some kind of Asian weasel and the subject of many a nature video. I won't get sidetracked here by praising the glory of an economic system which allows this guy, Randall, to parlay one amusing YouTube video--a snarky voiceover on a low-budget nature video with over 59 million views--into some kind of media empire, complete with apps, contests, books, swag, and whatever else constitutes success these days. 

I want to concentrate on what I learned from Randall and Honey Badger. 

What I learned was this suitable-for-almost-every-occasion mantra: Honey Badger don't care; Honey Badger don't give a $#!+.

This is an excellent motto for growing older, don't you think?  It sure comes in handy for me.

Can't find the car keys?  HBDC. Repeat it long enough and the car keys will appear, or I'll lose all interest in wherever it was i was headed.

Don't feel like going to the condo's annual meeting? HBDGAS. Don't worry.  If there is something I need to know, I'll get a notice or I can gossip with the super.

Donate to this or that charity not already on my list? Answer this or that survey? Iron those pillowcases? Rate that tee shirt purchase? Fruit or ice cream for dessert? Paper or plastic? 

Thanks to Honey Badger, I don't have to devote one minute of my allotted span to worthless activities or pointless decisions. 

I just mutter that mantra and waddle on.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Remember the Mobro!

One of the pleasures of living long enough is that you get to see history repeat itself in mysterious ways.
I am sure I am not the only one appalled by the oddly primitive circus surrounding the disposition of the earthly remains of Bro One, of the Infamous Boston Bombing Brothers. The spectacle of politicians and self-appointed guardians of Boston-Strong jumping up and down with pitchforks and torches like the townsfolk in Frankenstein screaming about monsters is nauseating. Don't they know that it is not just death that makes a martyr; it takes a large dose of publicity, too.
Meanwhile the City of Boston-Strong sends four archivists to Copley Square to document and catalog all the crap, oops, sorry, tribute that is piling up at the Shrine of Strong, though at this point it probably is the Shrine of Strong Smells what with all the decaying produce and moldy teddy bears.  And if you think the real Strongsters of Boston--our indomitable rats, squirrels and pigeons--haven't delivered their own tributes, you don't know city life.
I may not be able to remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but all this distressing news about garbage--where to put it, what to do with it, how to categorize it--triggered a memory, one which I was pleased to discover dated all the way back to 1987:  the saga of the Mobro, perhaps the most famous garbage scow in history.

From the Archives of the New York Times, dated May 18, 1987:
After more than eight weeks of wandering in the Caribbean and up and down the East Coast in a futile search for a final resting place, Long Island's outcast garbage was anchored off Brooklyn yesterday, awaiting the outcome of another round of legal and political wrangles.
Rejected by six states and three countries, the trash and garbage -3,100 tons of baled refuse piled atop the barge Mobro and towed by the tug Break of Dawn - had an invitation to return to Islip, L.I., where its 60-day, 6,000-mile odyssey began. But the latest problem was how to get it there.

The odyssey ended in classic fashion in July when the garbage was returned to Islip, NY from whence it came, there to be incinerated.

Let's hope the drama of the Bro works out more swiftly than that of the Mobro.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Accelerating Decrepitude

It's all too true what they say about time:  the older you get, the faster it passes.

Why, it seems like only a few weeks ago I was writing about the As We Change catalog, which contained items to combat thinning hair, prevent sun damage, and cover up as much flesh as possible while exercising.  I had the temerity to poke fun at its vision.

The universe scoffs, and in a matter of days, I have been cast out of the demographic of aging but active to that of borderline vegetable.

Or so it would seem from Gold Violin, Helpful Products for Independent Living.  Gold Violin? I am sure they wanted to write "Golden Harp," as in post-life sitting on a cloud and strumming, but were turned down by the marketing director.

While some of the products might be useful for anyone over the age of 30 (a rolling book cart in several kippy colors, a mini Crosley radio in several kippy colors, and a Cotton Dream blanket in several ghastly pastels), those products are few and far between.  There are three or four dubious items such as the Border Print Kaftan  on page 3 which would make eyeballs explode if you wore it, as suggested, at the shopping mall or for an evening with friends. Unless, of course, your friends were other Golden Violinists.  At least the Kaftan assumes some mobility, if not fashion sense.  

The bulk of the catalog is devoted to the "far between," a vast tundra of items which appear to be consumer versions of nursing home equipment.

Do I need to recite the litany? I will anyway, but the product descriptions need no comment. 

Ultralight Designer Travel Chair:  "Go anywhere travel chair is ideal for taking Mom shopping or helping your husband enjoy a cruise."

Gold VIolin Waterproof Shirt-Saver: "Take the worry and the stains out of mealtimes . . ."

Wipe Assist: "Even with limited mobility, you can maintain personal hygiene and keep your dignity intact."

Super Absorbent Wellness Briefs: "Based on designs used by NASA astronauts . . ."

People, we are talking strollers, bibs, diapers. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, or to stock up now. I am not immune to the fantasy that I will live to be old-old, that I will drop neatly and tidily in my tracks, and that I will maintain sufficient flexibility to wipe my own ass. But who knows what kicks in the head the universe has in store. So I'm not taking any chances.

Note to my younger family members:  I'm filing this catalog with the important papers so you'll know where to find it. I would hate for my Border Print Kaftan to become soiled with unseemly bodily excrescences, and I'm advising you now to do those upper body workouts so you will have the muscular wherewithal to push my sorry butt around Star Market in the Ultralight Designer Travel Chair.  I'm doing my part on the exercise front so we won't require the "Bariatric Travel Chair":  Supports 450 pounds.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gadget Goo Goo, Gadget Ga Ga

Swell.  Just what I need.  Another hazard to sidewalk navigation.  

Bad enough to be a hale and hearty senior citizen striding down the pavement, intent on getting there, when I can remember where "there" is, and to be obstructed by some young whippersnapper suffering from the cell-phone stagger or the twitter totter, lurching from side to side, oblivious to just how much real estate they are hogging.  I'm thinking of buying a cane to carry with me. Much more refined than a cattle prod, don't you think?

But soon I'll have something else to contend with when the pant-pant, drool-drool, most awaited, super coolest, most niftiest gadget of all time ever hits the street: Google Glasses.  Right now it's limited to a handful of uber-geeks, but should be inflicted upon the general public in the fall.

Imagine the traffic jams.  How do I get by someone wearing specs that allow an unprecedented level of peripatetic multi-tasking? A polite a-hem, excuse me, won't get the attention of someone who's strolling along taking photos, texting by mouth, ordering pizza by blinking, while at the same time monitoring the behavior of the bitcoin market, cruising re-runs of Baywatch, programming advanced avionic systems, and plotting the demise of whatever evil overlords dominate in their MMORPG universe. Someone who will, at least in the beginning, cause complete gridlock as the curious and envious gather in his or her wake.

I do see that eventually all this may work to my advantage, even if I don't adopt the technology. When I am old enough to be walking down the street babbling to myself and swaying to music that only I can hear, everyone will be wearing googly eyes, and I won't look deranged, I'll look stylish. If they combine it with a self-driving Segway I won't even need that cane.

I only hope there will be someone as fabulous as Freddie to compose an anthem to the poor old smartphone (or insert name of your favorite outmoded tech toy).  Radio  Ga Ga, Radio Goo Goo, indeed.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Early Bird Special

Every time I see the sign "early bird special," it conjures up a picture of doddering oldsters gumming their comfort food dinners while it is still light out. Very funny, until it came to this: a dinner so early-birdy that it was really lunch.

Real retro lunch, too. None of your hipster-retro grilled pork belly or caramelized bacon.  Nyuh-uh. This was the real deal. And it was delicious.

FIsh cake, baked beans, cole slaw, corn bread.

When I was a kid, my family almost never went to restaurants.  Once a summer we went to the Fox Lounge for the open face steak sandwich.  A huge grilled strip steak lolling atop two thin slices of toast which pretty much dissolved in the meat juice, that sandwich was as far from our usual sandwich fare of baloney on white bread as it could be. The platter was completed with an avalanche of french fries, cooked in beef fat, of course, because this was in the days before the cholesterol police took the fun out of fries.

I'm sure that once the early bird families who came only to chow down on steaks packed it in for the night, hauling greasy kids and doggie bags full of meat, the Fox Lounge showed it's true neon-beer-sign colors and became a  rowdy road house with drinkin', dancin', and carryin' on aplenty.

The place I had lunch today, The Sagamore Inn in Sandwich, Massachusetts reminds me of the old Fox Lounge, only much, much cleaner. It's a wonderful family run restaurant serving seafood, Italian food, and Shirley's Famous Pot Roast. The most modern thing on the menu is a Classic Caesar Salad. In the summer you can get breakfast, too.

What really brings the Fox Lounge to mind is the old sign just outside the bar area:

I'm surprised it doesn't read "NO DANCING per order of the Sandwich Police Dept." I'm sure it had something to do with licensing or blue laws, but can't you just see a hussy in a polka dot dress being asked to leave the premises on account of a little butt-shimmying? Or a wise guy in a zoot suit being shown the door for toe-tapping? 

You know why I like that sign so much, and the wood paneled walls and booths, and the painted tin ceiling?  They date from the time when my parents were young. It's as though my own memory has extended back before I was born, and that doesn't make me feel old at all.  It makes me feel young. 

But not so young that I would even think about violating the atmosphere by DANCING. 

Excuse me, but I think there's a doggie bag calling my name.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Don't Mourn. Organize!

No, I didn't dream I saw Joe Hill* last night.  But I think of some of his final words, especially when I read yet one more article about all the "healing" that has to be done in the aftermath of the "Boston Bombings."

Guess what?  Most of us don't have anything more to heal than a headache from hearing too much crap about the whole sorry mess.

I am NOT talking about the people directly affected by this horrifying event.  I defy you to keep your eyes dry when reading about any of them, including the April 29, 2013 report in The Boston Globe about the guys from Stoneham. ("Friends wounded at Marathon will recover together.") Five friends gathered near the finish line to cheer on a sixth, and ended up with burns, shrapnel wounds, and amputated legs. These individuals, and their families, as well as the other actual victims and their families, are the only ones entitled to "heal." Those who suffered economic damage are entitled to "recover" or "recoup."

As for the rest of those who have some peripheral or imagined connection to the crime, they can "get over themselves." If you are upset about something awful you see on TV, you don't have to immerse yourself in it, you can turn off the tube and walk away. Why, you can even live up to the "Boston Strong" catchphrase plastered all over the place and "suck it up."

I am revulsed when I read, in the same edition of the paper, an article such as "Cambride Rindge and Latin rallies to begin healing."  One of the organizers, an alumnus, is quoted as saying "We didn't want to focus on them [the bombers]. . .We all know what happened. We want to talk about healing."

Oh, the humanity!  One of the loseramas graduated a couple of years ago from Cambridge Rindge and Latin, so that means what, exactly? You need to heal from the fact that you may have walked down the same hallway in the very same year, or decade, or century?  You need to heal from the fact that you thought he was just a half-baked stoner and not a half-baked terrorist in the making?

Another participant in this rally of healing stated, “We’ll always be a community. We’ll keep in touch on Facebook, I’m sure. It’s hard to understand that we’ll need to deal with a situation like this.”

It's hard to understand that these people attended an academic high school and can't come up with anything more thoughtful than this drivel.  Didn't they ever hear the word "vapid?"

It's not just them.  And it's not just the Boston bombings.  WIll the parade of hang-wringing, sobbing, and cowering ninnies never end?  How many teddy bears will be thrown on the pavement? How many vigils held? How many candles lit? How many snot-filled tissues tossed in the gutter?

Get over yourselves, Americans.  Feel bad, it was ugly and horrible.  Pray, if it makes you feel better. Send a donation, if you can. But please stop wallowing in your self-dramatizing faux grief. Stop trying to make it all about you and your need to "heal."  Don't mourn!  Organize.  Organize a fund-raiser or a heal-fest if you want, but there is something more important that may need organizing.

Organize your thoughts. Empathy is necessary, but it is not sufficient. In a crisis, we need to think. 

Here are some things I've been thinking about:

  • All our tax dollars which have been funding a disorganized security apparatus with which has proven itself incapable of sharing information about credible threats and potential troublemakers.  Meanwhile, we have to take our shoes off if we want to fly from Boston to East Cupcake.

  • All those anonymous "sources" who now report they knew all about the bulging bags of cash the CIA has been delivering to the "government" of Afghanistan, cash for which they received nothing of value in return. Meanwhile, there are a lot of folks right here who could do with even a thin envelope of cash, or a job, or a meal.

  • All the necessary and acceptable risks of life in a free and open society. Bad things are going to happen no matter how many surveillance cameras are out there, or how many panels of inquiry are convened by ass-covering politicians and bureaucrats.

I know.  I know.  All that thinking makes my head hurt, too, but, while my thoughts might not be profound, or convincing, they don't require one nanosecond of healing.

*That would be Joe Hill, singer, songwriter, and labor martyr, not Joe Hill, horror writer and son of Stephen King. In one of his last communications before his execution for a murder historians believe he may not have committed, Hill wired BIll Haywood of the IWW:  "Goodbye Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize... Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah." 

I wouldn't want to be found dead in Utah either.