Category Archives: other strangeness

THE SCHOOL FOR JEWISH MOTHERS

Here’s a book idea I’ve been toying with. I may never write it, (who knows? vu den?) but I think the outline is worth sharing. Let me know what you think:

THE SCHOOL FOR JEWISH MOTHERS or

My head’s in the oven, the gas in on, but don’t worry about me.

Course Curriculum

  1. Kvetching
  2. Shaming
  3. Force-feeding
  4. Guilt (Master’s level course available)
  5. Inducing insufficiency
  6. Inducing dependence
  7. Abandonment and overconnection: the duality
  8. Boundary-less-ness
  9. Intrusiveness
  10. Masochism (the illusion)
  11. The many variations of “oy”

Prerequisites

  1. Sore feet or a little arthritis
  2. The ability to whine on command
  3. The ability to kill with a look
  4. No sense of humor
  5. A flair for the obvious
  6. The uncanny ability to sense vulnerability

Phrases to live by

  1. Eat a little something. I thought it was your favorite…what am I, wrong?
  2. Don’t worry about me. It’s okay if I’m all alone.
  3. I did everything for you and this is how you repay me?
  4. You should only know.
  5. Don’t ask.

 

 

OBJECT LOVE

By “object love” I don’t mean to suggest a love for other persons – who are sometimes referred to in self-conscious psychological discourse as “objects.” I’m talkin’ inanimate stuff. Things. The material world.

As Americans, it is – I believe – part of our national identity to be enamored by things. We certainly love our homes, cars, clothes, and many of our personal possessions. We collect objects – as a hobby, a pastime. For some it’s a life’s work. Many lose the distinction between them and us. If we have great stuff, then we are great. We are loathe to part with that stuff – so we store it in attics, in basements. There’s an entire industry that exists solely to contain and preserve the things we don’t use but can’t part with. Storage facilities. We will pay forever to keep those belongings we don’t even remember that we have.

On a lesser but included level, there are smaller, less publicly visible items which infuse us with delight or pride or fascination or some other much-desired emotion; those are the things we love with an equally abiding intensity. A watch or twenty, a scarf or dozens, the illegible and now faded first written words of our offspring, or the love letter from the boy or girl we used to know.

Sometimes our love (as love is wont to do) just attaches itself to something for no clear or comprehensible reason. And so, I acknowledge that I love my garbage pail. It’s an indoor brown plastic number with a step-on lever that raises the lid. It’s oversized for an indoor trash receptacle – so one of its desirable qualities is that I don’t have to bend down hardly at all to throw things away. But that is by no means the whole story of my strange affection. There’s that certain something about its rounded shape, its ample roominess, its…je ne said quois. When I see it, I feel more complete, like everything is right with the world. How can a garbage pail produce those deep feelings? As I said, je ne sais quois. It is one of the enigmas of life.

Since Homo sapiens invented the written word, treatises, great books and sonnets have been devoted to the mysteries of love. Please add this small bloggish offering to that trans-millennium-long human aspiration for understanding and exposition. You know what Gertrude would have said if she read this: A love is a love is a love.

I’VE GOT NOTHIN’ TO SAY

Now, you may think that’s just a clever little ploy – to start this blog off with something that would appeal to my readers and make them want to read more. But, no. It’s the truth. I think it finally happened – I’ve run out of words. That’s what I’m faced with. Running out. It does raise a larger question (whew, that’s a relief!)

Are we all going to run out?

Of patience (you know to whom I’m making reference – don’t you? DJT.)

Of brain cells. We do burn them off in many customary and not so customary ways: alcohol, drugs (yes that includes whatever pharmaceuticals you are taking), mind-rotting television (which I so love!)

Of good will – that would be: in the world at large. Friends and allies are looking at us with a newly jaundiced eye.

Of natural resources. According to Newsweek, “Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that humanity needs to become a multi-planetary species within the next century in order to avoid extinction.”

And I might just run out of paper goods. Nah, not likely.

I pause to check out my inner writer: Wake up, girl! Don’t leave me in the lurch today.

Which brings to mind something that I’ve lived with for a while: I seem to be two bifurcated (don’t you just love that word? And, yes, I see the redundancy.) people. The writer of five books and a frequent blogger; and the observer of such, who can’t imagine ever coming up with another creative idea. Ever.

And then there’s the other element: the lack of general enthusiasm for my great works. Oh,sure, I’ve gotten praise and interest – but not on the global level that my idealized expectations had anticipated. I haven’t been nominated for a Nobel Prize for literature. I had assumed the response out there would have been fulsome and adoring. Well – I guess that was left over from some early experiences as a precocious only child. That ship has apparently sailed.

Bucking up here. No other option. Well, whining is, in fact, another option – one that I am clearly unwilling to forego…

Two Completely Unrelated Things That I Find Fascinating…

ZIPPY THE CHIMP IS A DEAD CAT

Does this make sense? No. But it does trip off the tongue, wouldn’t you say? So, I have to imbue it with meaning.

Let’s go back in time. Zippy the Chimp was a staple on television for a while in the 1950’s: The Ed Sullivan Show, Howdy Doody. Those were simpler days when a cute, smart chimpanzee was fascinating to a large part of the American public. Now, we’re all sophisticated and hard to rouse to enthusiasm or even attention. A dead cat might do it: if it’s swung full force over someone’s head and then let fly. We’ll watch that for a minute.

But the days of Zippy were very sweet, as was he (or she – gender wasn’t really at issue). The populace had been through wars and grievous loss and horror, but was still able to find that wide-eyed child within and look with wonder at a simian in a suit.

Postscript. Just found this out…

Oddly, but in truth, my partner in crime has a friend who had a cat named Zippy the Chimp. I repeat, had. Yes. Zippy the Chimp is, in fact, a dead cat. Life imitates art once again. Don’t you just love it, and isn’t it completely disturbing?

THE WALK-IN

There is a trend. You know how it happens – while walking in the street someone bumps into you coming from the opposite direction. Sure. That’s not new. What is new is that there is no attempt – on the part of the accoster – to pull back, and not even a hint of remorse. It’s becoming far more roller derby out there, and I’m recommending knee and elbow pads and a helmet. There’s that shoulder contact you only feel after the couple of seconds of shock subsides; you turn – but the perpetrator is many paces behind you, and he (or she) is not looking back in your direction.

This is one of those things which I interpret and extrapolate from as part of the disintegration of civilization as we know it. It’s always the small things: death by a thousand cuts. One day you wake up, and it will just be feral out there. What? You say it already is? Maybe so.

GREMLINS

We all rely on the basic laws of nature, which includes their application to our beloved cyberspace. Who hasn’t been daunted, confused, upset or even crazed (that would be an admission of my own response) when it…that is, the Internet and, particularly, email…fails to behave the way it’s supposed to?

I just spent the better part of an hour hunting for an email response that I a) believed I had sent; b) strongly felt I SHOULD have sent; and c) was assured (too personal, too human, I know) by an identifier in my email account, that I HAD sent. It was nowhere. And by that I mean IT WASN’T ANYWHERE. That includes every folder and the trash. I know there is that slimmest of possibilities that I double-deleted it and sent it into email purgatory; but I don’t think so. It was something I would not have wanted to even single-delete.

So…where is it? There is no answer, nor will there be one. It’s just one of those unknowables like: Where is the brand new earring I dropped as I was putting it into my earlobe? I was in the bedroom and now the bedroom has been searched within an inch of its life. It’s just gone. Girl.

Inanimate objects? Yeah, right. They all have evil little souls that can torture us…if they are so inclined. And no one and nothing is capable of greater maliciousness than email.

Did I ever tell you about the time I accidently (and I swear it was against my will) sent out a blank email to all the people for whom I have email addresses? Many, many of those folks were pissed to the point where they never spoke to me again. I had outed various people who did not want their email addresses to be shared (or, in the case of some of my psychotherapy patients, their relationship with me).

We are all in this together: trying to hold the line against the gremlins…the incomprehensible forces that act against those ballyhooed laws of nature. Chaos is far older than order, and I fear it will vanquish our best efforts to organize and categorize.

As my sainted father used to say: “nov shamov kaput.” It doesn’t mean anything but it always worked to end a conversation.

A HALLOWEEN FANTASY or BECKY’S SEARCH FOR THE GREAT PUMPKIN

There was a very smart girl. Named Becky. But she was also quite a dreamer. When she wasn’t getting straight A’s in school, she was immersed in the land of “could-be.” She believed in all manner of wonderful things: elves and fairies, the Easter Bunny; but most of all she believed in The Great Pumpkin.

The day was coming. All the other kids talked about how much candy they would get trick or treating. Becky didn’t give a fig about candy. She was waiting, as she had every year that she could remember, to see The Great Pumpkin. So far, she had fallen asleep on All Hallows Eve at some late hour: 12 or 2 or so, and when she awoke the next morning, she knew at once that she had missed him. The evidence was clear: small shavings of pumpkin stalk on her windowsill. Her mother said it was dust. Becky knew better.

This would be the year. It had to be. She was ten now, double-digits, and she could stay awake all night. She went to bed but immediately sat up and watched the pumpkin-shaped clock on her wall. The hands were witches fingers. 10, 11, 12. Her eyes fluttered, but no – she was determined. 1, 2, 3. Now her spirits sank. Where was he? Could she have been so wrong?

4, 4:30. At 4:45 Becky heard something. She lay very still. The wind blew through the open window but she heard another noise. It was a low cackle, a moist clicking – hard to describe but she was fully awake now.

Somehow, through the small opening, the most immense pumpkin rolled through. He had piercing, staring black eyes and a snaggletoothed grin that covered half of his pumpkin face. He was terrifying but Becky was brave.

“Are you The Great Pumpkin?” she said, keeping most of the quaver out of her voice.

He squinted, then glared at her. “WHO DARES TO ASK?”

“I dare,” said Becky. Her knees were knocking under the covers, but she spoke clearly.

“EH? YOU?” The Great Pumpkin looked so menacing but then, with his spindly arms, he lifted up his stem and reached inside. He put two heaping handfuls (and those hands were bony and gnarled) of the most beautifully gilt-wrapped candy anyone had ever seen – on her bed.

He then rolled back up to the window, turned and said, “Happy Halloween, Becky.” His grin was all that remained, hovering over her until she fell asleep.