BOOK ME, DAN-O

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman I know. She’s thoughtful and an all around smart person. She is also quite nice. Our topic was trash TV. From her vantage point, TV itself is mostly trash; a waste of time that would be better spent doing almost anything else.

She was bemoaning her husband’s relationship to television: they’re committed. He is faithful to that relationship, and she thinks he’s obsessed. During our talk, I was empathic and offered insight into his behavior. What I did not do was share just how much television I watch. Let’s just call it “a lot,” and I assure you that would be a true description by anyone’s standards.

Is there a shame sandwich I should be eating? I just don’t feel it. I guess I’m a child of the 50’s (which – for those who don’t know – is when TV started to become something that consumed attention).

In my own defense (and, yes, I must be somewhat defensive) – I do things very fast. No. Really fast. So, whatever is on my to-do list gets done pronto. It leaves me with a lot of down time. I’ve written five books and I maintain this blog, but – still… I have a surfeit of unmandated hours. And, I do think the quality and variety of television continues to expand.

My interests range from the truly trash (I can’t wait for The Housewives of New Jersey to return) to the microscopic evisceration of everything political. We (my partner in crime joins me for this) can watch an entire evening of analysis of caucuses and primaries and relative gains and losses in the run-up to the presidential election. Ah, delegate counts and polls! Love them.

I can also always enjoy any series about OJ. I was there for the real-time extravaganza, and I am delighted to revisit it in the current docudrama. I can get hooked on great fictional drama: Mr. Selfridge, Downton Abbey, or on any number of talent shows: American Idol, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway.

I must confess that when I go on vacation, I have a bit of withdrawal – and I don’t totally give up the TV drug. But, I’m sure I could live without my media fix. I just don’t really want to.

IF YOU THINK YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE WORLD, COOK

It’s a few days out from the tragic and hateful events in Brussels; it’s also a couple of days since the Tango-er in Chief once again showed his true colors. In a world where the forces of evil are committed to the perpetration of their destructive mission, and the forces for good are led by someone wholly disconnected from the natural and usually innate human response to aggression and assault on our core values, what is one to do?

There’s voting, of course, and hope. Both are equally dicey. Whomever we install as our next head of state can be as feckless and full of gaseous and righteous bullshit as the current occupant. Who can predict how all that will go? Hope springs eternal, but I recommend that you read my thoughts about that in The Dark Side of Hope.

Okay, now that I have essentially killed off what seem to be the only options, what then?

There’s cooking. What? you say. That sounds suspiciously like doing the tango. Let us not be literal, please. I want to urge you all to invest in your life in a nurturing manner. “Feed” those you love – it will strengthen them for whatever lies ahead. Make them feel seen and understood. In that way, we can together nourish the core strength we all need to muster for courageous action.

Be thoughtful and true to your authentic values. Don’t be swayed by either bombast or ye old party line. Perhaps there really is a third way.

RECIPR0CAL LOVE

In the midst of the aftermath of hate – a word or two about love.

I find it wondrous that the fragile and most important experience a human being can have – love – can exist within two people simultaneously; that if I make the ultimate commitment of my emotional self and let down all my many self-protective mechanisms – and love you, you might just do the same and love me too.

This kind of love is not only romantic: it is the solid foundation of friendship, the unshakable bond of family, the thread of cooperative civilization.

Reciprocal love is the most natural thing in the universe, the mainstay of our existence as human beings. It’s in our DNA…along with some relics of a more feral past; it is the heart of our humanity. Our job, as the occupants of the top of the food chain, is to choose to act from our higher selves, and to de-fang our baser instincts. It requires consciousness and choice – every day that we live in this world.

It is in reciprocity that love finds it’s ultimate strength, its power to conquer hate. It is better to both give and receive, than it is to do one or the other.

 

The absence of terror

When I heard about the horrific events in Brussels today, I felt deeply sad. But worse, far worse than the sadness, was the resonance of expectation. “Ah, yes, another one. Of course. One of many more to come.” If my instant reaction could have been put into words, that’s close to what they would have been. How many of us have come to expect the violation of our safety, the safety of other democratic countries, the safety of any country, city, public space?

Does that gruesome familiarity with mayhem and murder lead to a loosening of our defenses? It cannot. We must, as a nation, as a people, as humanity, join our better forces and defend ourselves until we are, once again, the authority which controls our borders – both the physical and the metaphysical. Until we can promise our children that everything will be okay.

 

EEH: The annual Easter Egg Hunt

For more than thirty years, there has been a beloved ritual in my family. It’s the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Children of all ages (including those of the adult persuasion) in my immediate family, gather outside my apartment door at the selected time.

Once the door opens, the usually charming individuals transform into avid, take-no-prisoners hunter-gatherers. Their eyes shine with the prospect of hundreds (I’m hardly exaggerating) chocolate Easter eggs that are cleverly hidden (by me) throughout my five rooms. As they enter the interior hallway, each one is handed a straw Easter basket. And then I say, “Ready, set, hunt!” The madness never takes too long: the strategic running about and ferreting out of the sweet prizes goes by in a blur of seriously competitive camaraderie.

When my grandchildren were young, they were guided and helped by the so-called adults. Now, it’s every chocoholic for themselves. In addition to the eggs, there are always some special items: crème eggs, marshmallow eggs, jellybean filled plastic eggs, peanut butter/chocolate eggs. Beside the eggs and such are BIG chocolate bunnies and also stuffed bunnies or lambs or chicks. One of each for each hunter. You might think this is the entire story. You would be wrong.

After the hunt…there is a post-game show.

What I mean by that is everyone has an option to trade in their chocolate and other candy for non-edible prizes. (See – there is method to my madness. I am trying to mitigate the sugar shock and dental disaster that might ensue.)

I have a big cardboard box that I decorated many moons ago, which I reuse. Inside I put the prizes. Small things of varying desirability. There’s a system – of course. It’s a bit obscure, points and such. But the rules remain the same year in year out. It’s comforting to all. From time to time –given the vicissitudes of relationships and relocation – an old hunter disappears or a new one shows up. They must be taught all the rules…such as: don’t open any closed doors or drawers; there are no chocolate eggs in the bathrooms.

Perhaps that last one is a rule to live by. Think about it…

See you all after the hunt.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

It’s been a while…

On a bus. Memory is a tricky thing. Seems that we forget just how bad and irritating something is. NOW I recall.

First: there is the woman with a really big purse slung over her shoulder. Protruding out the back – an umbrella. As she stands and turns and moves, the curved handle comes within a whisker of whacking a number of people. While I watch, considering how to intervene (always a high risk venture in Manhattan) she turns and hooks the handle around one of the vertical metal poles. The umbrella falls out. Ah – some karmic satisfaction at least.

Next: a fairly small woman aims her derrière at the vacant seat to my left. Her aim was poor and she landed on my leg. Unpleasant and a bit painful.

And then there is a full ten minutes when the bus stands idling while a wheel chair is being accommodated. I get it. People with disabilities need extra service. But I’m LATE! What about me?

Finally, the bus stops at Lexington Avenue where I am to get my connecting subway. Okay – now I’m back on track. Not so fast.

The unusually dense crowd of people on the platform (it was 1:30 in the afternoon!) gave me my fist frisson of doubt. And, lo – the electronic sign said, “Next downtown 6 train will arrive in 5 minutes.” In my mind I added the words: “at least.”

And so I waited…not that I was happy to be going to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. But I will ask for nitrous oxide and, at least, that will balance the negatives nicely. And I will take a taxi home. No Uber, thank you…That’s a blog for another time.

Dudamel and the Philistine

Thoughts while listening to the great maestro Gustavo Dudamel conduct the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra at Lincoln Center…

Walking through a field of musical notes. He’s caressing and stroking each instrument and every musician. He’s implacable, poised.

It’s too beautiful, I can’t dare crunch. But I’m dying for a peanut. I was starving and bought a tiny bag of nuts for $6.50. But I can’t eat them…

Dudamel conducts with every joint in his body. He’s balletic, authoritarian, lyrical, masterful…light, intense, soft, grand,

This is Fantasia-like (the animated film).

He’s eliciting the music as if by magic. He’s playful, commanding and using the energy of the cosmos.

He’s like the flying Wallendas. No net.

Audience and orchestra are one.

He uses no score. He is the music.

It’s transporting. Now I know what that word really means.

Something disturbing about the big English translation above the head of the soprano singing in German. I’d rather not know what she’s actually saying. Is this an American thing?

I’m watching a woman frog-march a 10-ish year old boy up the aisle.

Trying not to crinkle. I’m starving for a peanut, wanting it more than ever.

Recalling many concerts with my grandson, Alec. Pulling his arms down as he – while rapt – let his impulse rule.

Very old woman, dress covered with big flowers. A wig atop her head. She’s taking many minutes to exit her row. As she walked up the aisle unbalanced, I saw her heavily made up face. Was she really old? Was she real?

A youngish woman ( I can only see the back of her head so far) directly in front of me decides to put her glasses on top of her head midway through. No consciousness of the “hat” effect – blocked my vision just a bit more. Fortunately, by this point, I don’t care too much.

Time to covertly check my phone again for the time. (It’s an old, small flip phone – so I can do it pretty discretely). I wrote on my small pad: “It’s 4:30” and showed it to my husband. He pointed to the massive watch on his wrist.

The audience seems to have reached critical mass: neck rubbing, sighing and coughing breaking out.

Note to self: You don’t have the stamina for this or the rigor or the attention span(?)

My feet hurt. New shoes. A big mistake.

Covert eating of the peanuts.

Wishing to be the person who is transported for more than the first half hour.

Now, as the truly beautiful orchestral strains gather, I am closer in my soul to Meatloaf: praying for the end of time.

Took some Rescue Remedy midway. My husband whispered, “Really!” with what I guess was dismay.

Dudamel is still magnificent – even though I am a philistine.

Having an attack of the princess and the pea. The thin gold chain around my neck is weighing heavily.

My vision is getting a bit fuzzy, probably from looking down at this page.

Another note to self: go to concerts for children.

And…having drunk a half bottle of water…I really have to pee.

Meanwhile, back at the hoosegow

Oh, did I inadvertently suggest I’m in prison? Yeah. What is this prison made of? Now, get ready, ’cause you’re all going to feel so sorry for me. Well, maybe not.

I’m dealing with the minutiae and process of getting my book published. I’ve got a team of people helping and supporting me: an editor, a publicist, a production person… But there are still  myriad details I have to handle. Like contacting the shipper to find out why the books weren’t delivered to my publicist. Isn’t this terrible? You don’t think so, I can tell. But the experience of pressure isn’t actually commensurate with the magnitude of the issues involved. Still, you say, this should be my worst problem, right?

And that’s why it’s so problematic. If you’re dealing with something that everyone agrees is a big f…..g deal, then you get – if not sympathy, at least understanding. Your distress is sanctioned. But, for this set of cockamamie complications, all I get is an eye-roll or two. Or, sometimes, just that silence which you know means: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

So, I’m making a request, sort of like Tinker Bell asking you to clap if you believe in fairies. All right, it’s nothing like that – I just wanted to write “Tinker Bell.” Anyway, please, at the count of three, everyone repeat after me: “Ahhhh, poor Karen.”

One, two, three…..

Thanks. I needed that.

 

My book is out in the world

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve written a science fiction book, Raymòn and Sunshine. Today it is actually out in the world. It’s available for sale on amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1457617668&sr=8-2&keywords=karen+krett

This is both exciting and terrifying. I see the book as if it were my child. I very much want the child to grow and flourish, but it’s a little sad to see it leave home.

The inspiration for the book, which is about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android in the year 2262, came from my interaction with my beloved grandson, Alec.  And one of the main characters, Mov – a four legged, sentient, intelligent and verbal android companion to Sunshine (the female android) – arose full-fledged when I was walking by the shore in Fire Island. There he was! My son, Gregory, has been my editor and main support. Without him the book would not be as it is.

So much of this is a mysterious process; creativity feels like it comes from somewhere outside me. I am very grateful to have received this wonderful story, and I hope to share it with many people.

Karen

HIDING UNDER THE BLANKETS

What you may or may not know about me is that I am a devout coward. In certain ways. What are the things I would do almost anything to avoid? It may seem surprising (given this blog), but I hate being public, being seen by many, having others know too much about me. It may be the legitimized hidden self of the psychotherapist which attracted me (in part) to my profession.

Which brings me to my imminent fork in the road. I’ve written a science fiction book which will be published shortly. I’ll be telling you more about it soon. But the public nature of publishing presents me with a real quandary. I very much want my book to receive wide readership. I also very much want to not have to talk to folks about the book. So, I’ve got someone else doing marketing/publicity. But I know there will be the requests for me to do interviews or make some comment about the book. I really would prefer to have a stand-in, a body double, someone who can pretend to be me – and spare me the exposure. Any volunteers?

Come on…do a girl a favor…