EVERYTHING AND NOTHING: OPPOSITES ‘R US

How odd are we? We are walking contradictions in terms. We are soft, easily wounded and capable of the kind of fortitude which can handle the most heart-rending difficulties. We pout (I know I do) when a friend disappoints or disappears. I whine about how hurt I am and how much I don’t’ understand it. But if called upon to be strong for someone I care about, to be present with them through their pain, be a source of compassion and understanding, help them process their feelings, or just be a shoulder to cry on – I can do that.

I can be disconnected and depressed, and feel like life is not worth the paper it’s printed on and, in the next hour, be fully present with a patient and direct my entire focus onto his or her needs.

I can be really ready to check out of this life (no plan – don’t worry), feeling like it’s just treading water and devoid of meaning. If there is an intervening interaction which is loving or nourishing, my entire perspective can shift. All of a sudden, life is good. I’m not alone and I have hope.

Am I more volatile than most? Perhaps. But I think I am in close to the real deal of life in its changeable vicissitudes. Lack of awareness can be bliss, but I am not so blessed. Which is not to say I don’t add something to the mix and the madness.

But isn’t it true? Isn’t life, reality, and all that jazz, really a mixed bag. We have less control than we might like about what is next popping out of the bag: Love – hate? Success – failure? Adventure – boredom? Understanding – ridicule? The satisfaction of really being known and gotten – the crashing disappointment of being unable to show up on the radar of another?

Sure, we can play it safe: avoid human contact or never leave that first safe nest – wherever it is. But it’s the hope that we can have more that makes us feel happy, connected and joyous that fuels our efforts. It’s out there, not always where we think it is, but the world is full of what we need. To find it, we must tighten our stomachs and we willing to have disappointments and failures.

IS THIS THE END OF COOLIE? HOW CAN THAT BE? (IT CAN’T.)

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 82

Coolie called me yesterday. After his always pleasant greeting of, “Hey, Karen, how is everything? I hope you are super cool,” he said – a bit shyly (or was that just the remnants of a cold?), “Can I tell you something that’s very hard to say?”

“You can tell me anything, Cool…after all, I am a mental health professional.”

“I need to call it quits, take a powder, go for a long walk…”

“Okay.” I said, putting what I hoped was a calming hand on his shoulder. “What led you to this most serious of decisions?”

“I’m afraid of becoming irrelevant.”

Now anyone who knows Coolie knows that “irrelevant” is not in his vocabulary.

“Where did you get that idea?” I asked.

“Oh, that was from Shtew – remember him? He’s at the beach and – as he says – he has a great deal of time to think important thoughts. Wasn’t it nice of him to be thinking about me?”

“How shall I say this, my cool young friend…No. It wasn’t that nice. He’s clearly looking to generate some drama (that’s a Shtew specialty), and he sort of forgot to remember that you are ALIVE. Sorry if I just raised my voice, but this gets me quite heated.”

“Oh, no, Karen. Didn’t want to get you upset!”

“Now, my dear, dear Coolie, sometimes getting upset is the right thing to do. Especially when someone you care about is in danger.”

“Wait a minute…! Is this stranger danger? I’ve heard about that.”

“No, Cool. Shtew is not a stranger. He’s just gone around the bend a bit.”

There was a pause that seemed to cry out: “Whaaa?”

“I mean, you know how kinda crazy Shtew always is?” (Coolie nodded.) “Well, he’s now more than ‘kinda’ – he’s VERY crazy. So, we have to take what he says with a grain of salt.”

I immediately realized that was another a poor choice of words; Coolie had dropped the phone and I could hear what seemed to be the sound of a salt-shaker being pounded. I yelled into the phone at the top of my voice: “COOLIE, STEP AWAY FROM THE SALT.”

He’s such a good boy that he immediately complied with my urgent order. He picked up the phone and said, “What should I do?”

“Nothing, my dear sweet boy, do nothing.”

And that was the best advice Coolie could get. ‘Cause doing nothing is his sweet spot. He smiled that beatific smile that we all love (I could hear it through the phone); he was – I knew – sitting in his favorite fluffy chair and gazing at his favorite wall (the blue one). He was at peace. For now.

Meanwhile, I had a rather large bone to pick with Shtew. To be continued…of course.

 

MEM’RIES – where did they go?

 This is one of those things we don’t like to talk about. The disintegration of the edges of our reliable memory. Did I already tell you…? What did you say you did with the receipt? How the hell is whatshisname? Am I repeating myself? (Okay, I see that I am – even within this paragraph.)

For most of us, it’s just a subtle part of aging. For some of us, it’s a sharp loss of self as we know it. Part of the story has to do with how closely we identify with our own mental functioning. For those (like yours truly) who are aghast at any dimming of our brightness, who are constitutionally poor at adapting to any change that includes loss, this memory business is big-time trauma.

The minor theme of not recalling proper names has been pretty well tolerated. It’s the forgetting how to do something that was fairly automatic, which is sending me around the freak-out bend. I do believe it would have been better if I’d been prepared; if family and culture let us know that part of living and growing older includes this muting of memory. It doesn’t help much that my 90-year-old mother’s memory is undiluted. My expectations were, therefore, quite different than what has begun to accrue.

My husband and I (mercifully) are both sharing this experience and seem to have the forgetting thing kick in at different times. This has led us to the notion that as long as one of our brains is working at any given time, we’re cool.

I am told that using the mind/memory is the best way to maintain it. So, I exercise it in my work and through writing and reading. And I take a sizable amount of ashwaghanda. But I must say: what would I do without Mr. Google? He’s my external hard drive.

Let the good time roll…

Every so often, in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life as we know it, there is a break in the action, a parting of the clouds, a wave that lifts us all, a waft of the sweet smell of success, an…okay, I’ll stop now, you get my point.

And so, after some difficult days, where I thought “these are the time that try men’s souls…” more than once (and that would be part of a Thomas Paine quotation which was recited by my father on countless occasions during my childhood)…as the World War II radio commentator, Gabriel Heatter was noted for saying: “There’s good news tonight.”

The weather has taken a turn for the ideal: it’s that warm, clear, spring day that just transmits hope and possibility with each minor breeze. A day to conjure with; a day to make you believe that it’s all gonna turn out. Whether that is, in fact, true or not, being alive on a day like this almost makes it all worth while. I had to say, “almost.” After all, I’m a New Yorker, and I don’t want to get too positive.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on amazon.com. It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461866431&sr=8-1&keywords=krett+sunshine

You can find more information about me and my books at www.karenkrettauthor.com/

WHY DO PEOPLE EVER BOTHER TO ASK IF THEY’RE JUST GOING TO DO WHAT THEY WANT ANYWAY?

We reflexively check in with others – both to get their assessment and their perspective: Do I look okay? Is this sweater too tight? Did I put on too much eye shadow? How’s the soup? Too salty or not enough? What are you in the mood for? Is this a good time for you?

We’re so considerate, aren’t we? Not really. Most of the time we forget to implement the desired changes others give voice to. Why is that? I say it’s all about narcissism. Oh, yeah. Isn’t everything? Yep. Pretty much.

We have some culturally accepted niceties that we tend to employ – right up to the point of putting the changes into practice. We really all want things to be the way WE want them. And the hell with you. Oh, did I say that out loud? I didn’t mean it. Of course not.

Am I just a doubting Thomasina? A negative Nelly? A hopeless Hannah? Alliteration be damned, I’m just a truth teller. And the truth is: We could care less (in the vernacular, last used by no less of an august personage than Hillary Rodham Clinton – in contrast to the seemingly more lucid, “We couldn’t care less.”) about the preferences of other folks.

Tell me – would civilization cease to exist if we put our words where our actions inevitably wind up?… if we said, “I’m not really interested in how you want it, I’m going to do what I want.”

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461866431&sr=8-1&keywords=krett+sunshine

You can find more information about me and my books at www.karenkrettauthor.com/

How Coolie deals with scarcity

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 81

I know. I know. After reading the previous post, you were all asking the same question. You couldn’t wait to find out the answer: How does Coolie deal with the vicissitudes of scarcity and yearning? Well, for one thing he’s a whiner. No – you say. Can’t be – you say.

Well, he is and I’m here to tell you it’s a good thing. He didn’t start out that way. Sylvie and Morris had the whining thing nailed down. It was, for Coolie, to be patient and accepting. But Mothership and Daddythebigdaddywhoseyourdaddy urged our boy to jump on the whining bandwagon. “It’s the way of the human who wants to be heard,” they assured him. “Whine loud and proud; give it a special nails-on-a-chalkboard sound that will pierce even the most well-defended auditory system. Go for it!”

They couldn’t have been more emphatic and, of course, being the well-behaved lad he was, he cooperated. (When it came to which set of parentals he would listen to, M and D always won out. After all, they were the real ones, not the ersatz set in human form.)

So, take a page from the book of the coolest person in any room. Whine your collective assess off. Don’t stop until you get what you want. And, if someone threatens to shut you up or ignore you, amp it up. They’ll give, I promise. Don’t sell out the whine before its time.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461866431&sr=8-1&keywords=krett+sunshine

You can find more information about me and my books at www.karenkrettauthor.com/

Rarity and scarcity

Have you noticed…

When you really love something – like a particular style of clothing or a food product or it could be almost anything – it becomes hard to find. Maybe that “thing” has always been a rare commodity, but you just never noticed ’cause you weren’t that interested. Or, maybe there are some slightly sadistic, reactive forces in the universe which pull something back as you move toward it. How paranoid do I sound? And…does that make me wrong?

This is objectively true – I have corroboration from my husband (and that takes it into the realm of fact, for sure): When there is an item that we just fall in love with/can’t get enough of in the supermarket, it is going to be unavailable (out of stock or never to be stocked again) when we look to buy it a second time.

Perhaps this is about toughening us up, learning how to deal with adversity, becoming able to adjust to the shifts in the cosmic wind. Or perhaps it’s just an essentially nasty bit of the world as we know it. Message: don’t fall in love too readily or you will be pulled into the maelstrom of loss. Too dramatic? Thank you.

Now, having outlined this thesis, do I follow the guidelines in order to protect myself from unfulfilled yearning? Nope. Wanting wins and vanquishes (see how I chose not to say “trumps”) good sense and self-protectiveness. It’s me doing my part to maintain an important bit of life-tension, a cycle which we would sorely miss if it vanished. Without the yearning/wanting of which I speak, how would we know the value of anything? Sure, there could be some totally cerebral assessment, but we wouldn’t know it in our gut. And, in case you haven’t noticed, humans are as much about the gut as they are about the cerebrum.

And so, in closing, I pitch my case: Don’t back away from the encounter with scarcity or even deprivation. It’s a pain that we need to endure in order to keep the pursuit of satisfaction and gratification going. If you like those feelings, then you have to put up with those other, more dastardly ones as well.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461866431&sr=8-1&keywords=krett+sunshine

You can find more information about me and my books at www.karenkrettauthor.com/

The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Home

Ah, the quest. Everyone I know in New York is searching. Those who have found what they are looking for are the few, the fortunate, the envy of all. What are we all pursuing?

A clean house. Which is to say, a housekeeper/housecleaner who really does a good job. Hen’s teeth you say? Rarer than that, I say.

There are the nice ones who want to chat. I don’t. There are the friendly ones who just do a cursory job. It’s hard to tell them they’re not coming back for a return engagement: hate to hurt their feelings. Then there are those who barely clean and have no awareness that they are doing a poor job. There’s no point in offering correction.

For quite a long while, I employed a woman who was incredibly willing to take direction. She had a charming disposition. But she was just not able to get the full picture and maintain it. Something was always left out. And she didn’t go too far below the surface of things. Mercifully, she began a new job that precluded her continuing on with me. I don’t think I ever could have fired her. She’s the superintendent’s girlfriend, and I was not willing to incur his ill will.

Today is a new beginning. I hope. A woman who was highly recommended by a dear and trusted friend. As I speak she seems to be cleaning up a storm. While I am vetting her, she is also vetting me. We briefly touched on something she might do next time – if (as she put it) I wanted her to return and IF she wanted to come back. As she showed me the soot covered cleaning cloth after wiping down the inside of the bedroom windows, she asked if the previous housekeeper was Polish. No, I said. Ah! She said.

Sometimes stereotypes exist for a good reason. That’s all I’m saying.

It’s quite traumatic to begin again in any area of relationship. This is no exception. I’m hoping for the best, while dreading another disappointment. Wish me luck.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461866431&sr=8-1&keywords=krett+sunshine

You can find more information about me and my books at www.karenkrettauthor.com/

OTHER PEOPLE’S HAIR

Don’t we all love or at least like our hair? Sure it gets in our eyes and doesn’t always behave, but we want to keep it, don’t want to lose it. We comb it, brush it, wash it, style it, dye, it straighten it, curl it…

But other people’s hair elicits a variety of responses: from delight (our baby’s first locks) to love and lust (the hair of someone we are romantically involved with) to annoyance (getting whipped in the face with a ponytail) or revulsion: a couple of foreign hairs in the drain.

A complex relationship to be sure. Think Sampson and Delilah. The power with which we imbue hair is nothing less than they did.

And then there is the compensation: bald men who have to demonstrate greater aggression or – a least – assertiveness, so we don’t see them as deficient. Mr. Clean comes to mind. Ben Kinsley, Bruce Willis, Dr. Phil, Chris Daughtry, Jesse Ventura, Louis Gossett Jr., Patrick Stewart, Samuel L. Jackson, Sinead O’Conner (oops), Vin Diesel, Yul Brynner.…

For those of you who have been on the planet for a while: remember Hair, the musical? Back in the 60’s, hair was a visible, in-your-face statement of rebellion against the establishment. Hmmm: Could that be the motivating force behind the Donald J. Trump “do?” Unconsciously, to be sure. At least that would be a kind of plausible explanation. One is certainly needed, don’t we agree?

I leave you with the image of the comb-over; the not-so-subtle covering of the pate with a few precious remaining strands of hair. In the extreme version, the fringe is allowed to grow long, longer, longest and then used to create the illusion of non-baldness. And it works so well.

It’s easy to mock other people’s hair. But when it’s our own that is thinning or just behaving badly…not so funny. Then it’s “Hats-R-Us” time.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461866431&sr=8-1&keywords=krett+sunshine

You can find more information about me and my books at www.karenkrettauthor.com/

MORE ABOUT THE WEATHER… or – HAVE I COMPLETELY LOST MY ABILITY TO BE CREATIVE?

No. It’s just the immersive nature of the thing. Who isn’t thinking about: is it hot, is it cold, is it raining, do I need a jacket, which one…?

Why is it 47 degrees on the first of May? What are we to make of this? Is it global cooling?

I know. I know. There’s that convoluted argument which interprets either warming or cooling as global warming. I’m not convinced.

I’ve got another theory. Are you ready for it? Brace yourselves – this will take you around the bend (of space-time, what else?) Being occupants of the third planet from the sun, we are impacted by a vast array of cosmic culprits. We believe we’re protected by our atmosphere, but that’s the comforting story we are told, so we aren’t all running around with our hair on fire. Wait: we are all running around like that; what would we be doing if we were all face-planted onto the unvarnished truth? I shudder to think.

It’s a matter of little known fact – first reported by that imperious, yet brilliant, German astronomer, Coolstein von Coolstein – that there are hostile Climations (not to be confused with Claymation) zipping around the interstellar neighborhood, ginning up a little sumpin’ sumpin’ on the discomfort-to-mayhem scale. They do it just for the evil sense of satisfaction.

When things are too calm, even for an Earth day, the Climations will throw a heat wave or a cold snap at the offending environment; a tornado or a hurricane; a drought or a monsoon. And so it goes. One good day – four bad ones, is the typical ratio. Hadn’t you noticed?

Does it seem that I’m overstating my distress at what some might call moderate temperature? Sure. But my New York thermostat is ready for the warming and then the heating and then the schvitzing. Will I complain about that? Sure. As you know, it’s what I do.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Raym%C3%B2n-Sunshine-Karen-Krett/dp/0692660887/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461866431&sr=8-1&keywords=krett+sunshine

You can find more information about my books at: www.karenkrettauthor.com/