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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

D Is For Doughnuts

Approximately eleventy years ago I heard a Doctor on tv or radio say something that both amazed and impressed me, and it has stayed with me ever since. It changed not only my life on that day, but it changed my husband's as well. Here is what that Doctor said:

Every doughnut you eat takes twenty minutes off of your life.

The Doctor went on to explain how and why this was true, and it probably had to do with empty Calories and Fat and Sugar and a bunch of Crap like that I'm sure, but I didn't really listen at all to any of that. Not one bit. For me, the Takeaway was clear: Doughnuts Were Death, slowly and in twenty-minute increments, and that was all I needed to hear. No way was another Doughnut going to ever breach this bastion. And, in deference to The Agreement, Rick would now be Off Doughnuts as well.

Oh, The Agreement? This is another Thing Which Occurred Approximately Eleventy Years Ago, but preceded the Doughnut Edict. I'm not sure what crisis brought it about, but Rick has made a solemn vow that he will take excellent care of himself in order to outlive me. It is vitally important that I Die First. Someday I will explain why--in more detail--but suffice it to say that I cannot imagine carrying on with Absolutely Everything by myself. The amount of passwords to deal with alone would put me in an asylum.

But back to Doughnuts.

Since that Fateful Day, I have not had One Single Doughnut, Period. Not Any Doughnuts. I have not had a fry cake, a glazed, a cream stick, a fritter, a cronut, a cruller...you get me, right? And Rick swears he has resisted Doughnuts as well although they have appeared at meetings, seminars, and at work many times. Oh, once in a while he tells me he's succumbed to a Krispy Kreme here and there, and I try not to get judgy or emotional. I resist the temptation to intone--in a doom-filled, deathly voice--"There goes twenty minutes."

But I have to tell you, it has worked no real Hardship on me, truly. Doughnuts--and oh, how I hate the common spelling "donuts"!--hold no power over me. True, they often look tasty and even pretty, especially the frosted ones (but never sprinkles--what a waste: those things taste strange, have a terrible texture, and are really for children). The glory of the doughnut fades for me, however, after one bite. Most of them are...boring. And, really, terrible.  They leave a film of grease in my mouth. Or are too sweet. Or simply aren't Worth It: aren't worth the calories, the heavy feeling in my guts, the guilt, or the Twenty Minutes Off My Life.

I know that plenty of other foods are probably taking Minutes Off My Life. The rare creme brulee, my occasional piece of pecan or cherry pie, my brie with sour cherry jam appetizer.

But what a way to go! Way better than by Doughnuts.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

C Is For Comment

When my sister Patti's kids were little, our parents were their babysitters. Mom and Dad hung out over there and got the older kids on the bus, stayed with anyone too little for school, and basically took their show on the road. My mom and dad rarely acted much differently in front of the grandkids since they had perfected the Art Of MicroBickering long ago. Often, their arguments consisted of each merely saying the other's name aloud in various tones, and that would be sufficient. (Name being a general term here: my parents used their ages-old pet names exclusively, Honey and Doll.) Kids, of course, are incredibly perceptive, which was proven not only when the grandchildren put on a skit entitled The Honey and Doll Show, but also when the following scene occurred as my dad encouraged some indoor football with my then-toddler nephew:


Mom: (after several potential disasters) Honey! Now stop egging him on! TJ, you know you're not supposed to do that!
Dad: (not at all sternly) TJ. Grammy says we have to stop.
TJ: (disdainfully, to my dad) She's don't has to comment.

Ah, the Comment! TJ's remains a Family Classic to this day. Even he agrees it's The Best Thing He's Ever Said, and he probably doesn't really remember it. It is now part of Family Lore, and it gets repeated over and over again, sometimes as a punchline for new stories at family gatherings.

A Comment can be that way. It can be like the dozens and dozens on a Yahoo! article--sheer entertainment to fill a few minutes of your day. Sometimes, when I need a laugh, I click on a particularly inane Yahoo! article and read the Comments.

Often, the Comments section of any page is the most interesting and the most illuminating. It is the vast advantage which digital media enjoys over print: internet readers can instantly respond and react to whatever they read. And their Comments can expand other readers' understanding or serve to refine it.

Like TJ said, however, we don't always have to Comment unless we have something to say. But I sometimes find myself hard-pressed to Comment on blogs where the writer doesn't engage with his or her Commenters. Maybe they feel that their original post is enough, and I get that. They've already Made Their Comment, so to speak. But I like chatting with my Commenters and...Commenting on their Comment. I mean, they've reacted to my writing. That means It Worked--I was successful. If they said something that was important to them, or something that made me think or react, I want to acknowledge it. If I had hundreds of Commenters, maybe I would have to rethink this philosophy, but with a core group of Less Than That, I can easily acknowledge and respond to Commenters. And I enjoy the exchange immensely.

About a hundred years ago, bloggers were pretty obsessed with Comments. Then PinTwitFace came along, and now, most bloggers are old and way more relaxed about Stuff. Now we Antique Internet Writers (aka BlogWriters) let PinTwitFace users get all exercised and calisthenic about Likes and Followers and Twits and Pinners or Whatever. Most of us don't care. We let those on PTF worry about those stats. You all know how I feel about All Of That.

No Comment.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

B Is For Books; How I Miss Them

Much like Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, I feel like I was reading since I was born. I went to kindergarten already reading well above all those Little Golden Books, and a very grateful Miss Osborne used to plop me on a spare teacher's chair and have me read to the rest of the class at naptime while she was busy at her desk. Any spare minute found me reading, a habit that continued well into adulthood, and I have rung up an impressive tab over at My Boyfriend's Place (amazon.com) to prove it.

Imagine my Shock and profound Dismay when I tell you now that I have not read a book in almost a year.

Oh, it's not for lack of effort. Believe me; I have tried so hard to Do Something About This. I desperately miss Reading. It was one of the things I looked forward to most in Retirement--the chance to finally, finally read and read and read like I always did during the Summer when I would order six or eight Books to devour like icy sorbet on a steamy hot day.

Those Summers I would get my puttering done, my gardening out of the way, and grab my Book du Jour along with a cold drink and my Reading Sunglasses and skip out to the patio. I'd position my chaise exactly perfectly to keep the sun on my legs and the shade of my head on the page and read in undisturbed bliss. If I got too warm, I'd seek the oasis of the umbrella table, steps away.

Lovely.

And then, it seemed, my brain went on summer vacation...and stayed there. The last book I read took me over a month; I couldn't concentrate and stay with it. I tried re-reading a book that I had loved before, but that produced the same result. I abandoned it after less than fifty pages of plodding and distraction. I tried reading short stories, and that was a little better, but not much. Poetry was unsatisfying in that it wasn't solving my problem. I still read the newspaper every day, but you and I both know it's not like reading Books.

I miss Books.

Books were such a huge part of my life for over fifty years of my life. I don't think a day went by when I did not read from a book. I became an English teacher, in part, so I could talk about Books. There are Books in almost every single room in my house--wait--they are in every single room of my house. Until last year, they occupied space on every wish list I made for my birthday and Christmas. I took them to bed, on vacation, to the hospital when I had my children, and on my honeymoon. They helped teach me how to parent, how to understand the world, and how to dream. I feel lost without them.

This...brain fog seems to be a menopause leftover, like my migraine resurgence. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing the battle against both of them as I take my pills and do my crossword puzzles and order two new Books from My Boyfriend. Those Books are on my night table, looking more foreboding than inviting. One is a true crime story about arson in the California wine industry, and the other is an old novel I have wanted to read since long ago. All I need to do is pick one up and start it. That, of course, is the Hardest Part.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A Is For Alphabet...

In 2016 I'm going to try to Write More Often, and to that end, several things have occurred. One of those Things is that Rick got me a new Desk for Christmas, one at which I can actually sit and write and not feel encroached upon by Lots Of Clutter. Another Thing is that I have stolen an Idea from another writer (The Bug, I think), one which is so simple that even I, in my Sloth and Disinclination, can lean upon to yank up a blogpost from the depths of my Inertia.

I'm simply going to start alphabetically and grab a word--either from the News or my Life or Whatever--and write a weekly blogpost using that word as my subject. If more than one word comes to mind for that letter, then a List Post it shall be. (Rather than zip off the whole alphabetical list of topics at once ahead of time, though, I'll wait each day and see what comes to mind for that day's letter.) Let's On, then, shall we?

A Is For Anger: I overheard one of Sunday's talking heads chatting about this NBC poll in which they teamed up with Esquire magazine to gauge just how angry Americans are and how it breaks along gender, racial, and political lines. "American women are really angry!" one commentator observed with real surprise. According to the survey, women report a greater rise in anger than men over the past year. No one could get over it. I looked up from my newspaper, already simmering because of the eleventy billion times I had heard Trump's name on the two "news/politics" shows Rick had already watched. They were surprised that women were angry?

Every single Intelligent Woman should be Angry. I have my Anger on Emotional Speed-Dial when it comes to The Politics and The General State Of Things. I am Angry about men (and some women, to be fair) in government using Planned Parenthood funding as a whipping boy and bargaining chip when so many women rely on its services for health care (and, yes, pregnancy services including terminations, the latter being a legal and personal decision of the woman's, however unfortunate).  I am Angry that women still earn 78 cents on the dollar in relation to men among full-time workers in the U.S., and that this inequity in pay still exists, no matter how you sort the data. I am angry about the non-existent Equal Rights Amendment, introduced almost one hundred years ago and allowed to die a slow and humiliating death in 1982, thanks to political wrangling.

Those are just the Big Angries. Smaller Angries include the restrictions on liquids for air travel are more of a hassle for women than men; cash incentives for perfect attendance at a job automatically penalize women with kids; alterations cost extra for women, not for men; women are held to a higher standard of beauty more often than men; school dress codes target girls more than boys; that working women are still responsible for the lion's share of child-rearing and housework...oh, too many to enumerate without completely frosting my cupcakes and destroying my Zen.

(Oh, and may we add anyone--men especially--saying condescendingly, "Um, wow. Why don't you tell us how you really feel?" any time we express our anger about anything?)

So, yes, American women are angry. They have been for a long time; it's just that no one ever bothered to ask them until now.

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