SORRY TO HEAR

My psychotherapist of many years is Swiss-born. I mention his origin because there is still a bit of an accent and a slightly different distillation of the English language. He is a compassionate and understanding man. When I tell him of a calamity or disappointment that has befallen me, he will always express sympathy and regret on my behalf. What he often says – with many other words, to be sure – is, “Sorry to hear.” There is something about the absence of the words “about that” or any other modifier, which makes me feel much more understood.

You might think the reverse would be true. After all, isn’t it helpful when someone articulates the specifics of what they are truly understanding, what they are really getting that captures the essence of your experience? Sure. That makes sense. But, some things override sensible and reality-based expectations. I guess, when he says “sorry to hear” there is a part of me…an important part of me…that knows he truly is. And that makes all the difference. The authenticity of his presence and reaction is far more impactful than a couple of omitted words.

Which brings me to the extrapolation: We have become quite mired in the use or absence of specific words; less engaged with the underlying conviction. And, in response, our world (read: nation) has produced the major contenders for leadership of the “free world” who are deceitful, self-serving and untrustworthy. We hang on, print, repeat, and measure their words, but we all know (if we are at all honest) that neither gives a rat’s ass for much beyond their own power and image. Maybe it has always been so…No. I truly think we have reached a nadir of narcissism; a pandemic of puffery; a shit-storm of the supercilious, the snarky, and the substance-free.

True, true. We survived Nixon, Carter, and lame leaders too numerous to mention. I just can’t help being nervous about the wielding of power by either Trump or Hillary. We should all be very sorry to hear.

Airborne Blues

Returning from Florida. On board is an older woman with an old dog (of a scruffy non-nondescript breed) on her lap. I take note as it is being taken from her because – the stewardess asserts – it is “not a service dog.” If ever I saw a dog in service to it’s master, this was it. But that is somehow not apparent to the strict, no-nonsense flight attendant, who resolves the matter (to her stuffy, unfeeling satisfaction) by putting the dog in a carrier under the seat in front of the dog’s owner.

I am up and ready to play my therapist card, but my Partner in Crime holds me back with a few cautionary words. “Look,” he says, “it’s done. They’ve worked it out.” I sit back down in my seat but continue to watch. No, I’m sure they haven’t worked anything out. I see the dog’s owner sadly shake her head and accede to her own lack of power. It is a moment that makes me quite sad too.

There are major thunderclouds gathering in a race with our takeoff, plus a very young child – really still a baby – already crying in the row ahead of me. It sure looks like it is going to be a great flight. An auspicious departure from my favorite place on Earth. Did I mention, “Never again!!?

By the way, the incessantly cheery and upbeat voice and language of the stewardess giving crash instructions is making me want to create a violent scene. Why can’t we have a somber sounding, lower-toned voice giving us the news that we might all have to bend over and kiss our collective asses good-by?

Okay. We are now taxiing. The “Captain” (Ahoy, Matey?) says over the loudspeaker, “We’re #1 for departure.” It’s a race against the dark storm clouds. LET ME OUT (I think very urgently). But, then, we are up, up, and away. Home, James! Puleeeze! I promise I will never leave the Isle of Manhattan again if you let me get home safely.

Why is it frigid during takeoff? I’d really like to know.

I feel you, crying baby. Wahhhhhhhh!

Nothing Personal, Florida…

But, you are hot and humid and slow(er than New York) and people are way too relaxed and some of them even smile for no reason. It’s more than a body can take. On the other hand, if you want to live forever, this is the place – because one day lasts about a year.

I’m not sure why everyone migrates here after a certain age. I’m already that age (and then some) and I have zero impulse to relocate to this land of sun and surf. It doesn’t actually feel like a real place to me. That must be part of the charm – you know, the surreal “happy place.”

As an essential New Yorker (that means deep in my bones and soul and any other deep place that matters), I can only take so much happiness and cheer. I need a bit of the surly; I require that someone elbows me sharply at least once a day; and I only want a handful of smiles in any twenty-four hour period…more is just exhausting.

And that is part of my reaction to Florida: I’m exhausted. Not because I’ve been doing much physically (beyond a morning swim in the pool – which I have to admit is really nice). No, I’m more or less in languid mode. I’m exhausted because the stimulation I am used to, and therefore crave, is strangely absent. Not much in the realm of conflict (except for what I cause myself); not very much of the cold, avoidant hostility that is rampant (on a field of gnashing teeth) in the City. The zaps of irritation that are my vitamins are few and far between her in F.L.A.

Yes, it’s good to see my mother. I will continue to visit, of course. But I will also continue to bitch and moan to my Partner in Crime – much to his dismay. He…likes…Florida…

Nothing personal. Okay? I don’t want a gang of orange and grapefruit growers coming to my house late at night and throwing sand in my windows. Nor do I want testy, outraged letters from a gaggle of octogenarians taking a break from their bi-weekly bridge or bingo. Please take this as just  the ranting of a born-in-Brooklyn-lives-in-Manhattan grump who is very attached to her grumpiness.

Going to Camp Florida

There’s a pretty big occasion today – it’s my mother’s 91st birthday, and most of our small clan are gathering together to celebrate in lovely, sunny Florida.

Okay, so this may not be the perfect time of year to be in Fla. I’m being positive and affirming to myself and anyone who will (or has to) listen: There will be NO hurricanes during my stay!!. D’ya hear that, O Mother Nature (you universal dominatrix)? NO HURRICANES (please?!!)

Among the festive celebrants, is one of the four-legged persuasion: a pup who is dear to my heart, by the name of Brownie. Those of you familiar with my ongoing saga, Coolie Coolstein, will recognize the name: AKA Brownstein, who – in the Coolie version – is a wizard. In the what-passes-for-real-life version, she is merely the cutest dog is the world.

Don’t tell my mother, but I might be looking forward most of all to seeing the scruffy and bright-eyed Brownie. Sadly, she will have to dog it in the hotel room during group dinners out, but I’ll be sure to smuggle her some fine treats and leftovers. She and I have a special bond, built mostly on a foundation of sliced turkey breast. She knows that whenever she sees me, there will be turkey for her. So, now, I have to procure some during our Florida encounter. Wouldn’t want to disappoint the sweet brown fluff-ball, who – I’m fairly sure – is keeping her real live wizardness under wraps until just the right moment…then poof! We might all turn into sliced turkey.

…And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!

For now, let’s forget about the sisters and the aunts. Let’s focus on the cousins.

Cousins. A nice warm sound to the word: in Yiddish we say: mishpucha (there’s no way I’m spelling that right). Not nearly as comforting a sound.

Sometimes, when we imagine the reality which corresponds to a word, it doesn’t materialize; sometimes it’s just a pale imitation of our fantasy.

Sometimes…just occasionally…reality is far better than any imagining. And that’s what happened yesterday evening.

When I was a little girl, my cousins moved to Texas. That was the last I saw of them. Every once in a while I would hear something about them, but they were distant stories – I didn’t feel connected. I remember my cousin Gloria and her daughter Barbara, but only vaguely. I don’t think I ever met Barbara’s sisters.

Another cousin – Loren – and I have, in the last two years, become very close. She is my father’s sister’s daughter, and just a great, smart, funny woman, who I am proud to be related to. She has stayed in touch with the Texas crew and even visited them within the past year. So, when she told me she they were coming to New York and she was organizing a dinner, I was pretty excited. I trust that the folks Loren values are folks I want to know.

Yesterday, I got to the fabulous upper west side Chinese restaurant, Shun Lee Palace, about twenty minutes early. I guess I was anxious and excited at the prospect of meeting three of the Texas cousins.

In they walked, led by Carol, followed closely by Jan and Sherri. Loren, smiling like the proverbial Chesire cat, brought up the rear.

There was no hesitation, we hugged like ….well, like long lost cousins. And the evening unfolded: with stories of our lives, catching each other up on the significant and the outrageous.

Just as advertised, they were all warm and wonderful; I really didn’t want the evening to end.

Here’s to you all (or should I say y’all?): My beautiful, kick-ass cousins. I’m so glad I now have you in my life.

The people with their fingers in their ears…

On the subway platform, in the street when an eight-wheeler rolls past…we are the few, the brave, the ones who haven’t yet become deaf to the soul-shaking rumble and crash.

I can recall a time when I was a little self-conscious about protecting my hearing in such an overt public way. Would others look askance at me, like I was a wuss or just a show-off? Someone who couldn’t manage? The behavior has now become pretty mainstream. Does that bode well for a lessening of middle-age hearing loss? Hope so.

But this topic brings me to a wider one – the sensory sensitivity that has – you could say – plagued me; or which has – you could say – been a natural gift I was given. Vision, hearing, smell – all several degrees of magnitude above almost anyone. I’ve got great reflexes too – but since my life path did not take me in a direction where that really matters, all it’s good for is catching things I knock off a table before they hit the ground. I digress, yes?

Let’s talk about smell. Necessary for taste and a means of enjoyment as well as of knowing the environment. For me, it is often the vehicle for torture. There are what I call “toxic smells,” which almost no one else detects. My PIC (partner in crime – for those of you new to the blog) has come to believe in the reality he cannot share, while I’m choking and running from room to room looking for an escape from something offensive that just wafted in the window or through the A/C. He offers commiseration and a willingness to do whatever would help. Most of the time, the only thing to do is hold my nose and wait till it passes.

That might be enough of that…Let’s talk about hearing next time.

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, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference. 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/

THE HAS-BEENS, THE ONCE-WERES, THE WHERE-ARE-THEY-NOWS… AND WHY DO I CARE?

Those of you out there with adult children may be able to empathize with my plight. Both of my offspring are over forty, and have had many long-term partners during the preceding twenty-plus years. Many of them have been lovely, endearing or fascinating people, who I have come to know quite well. I have often become quite attached to them and then summarily thrown into the depths of loss when my son or daughter decides to toss the now incredibly deficient one overboard. Bye-bye! Sayonara! Get outa heah!

Does anyone ask me if I want to sever ties? No. Would it be politically correct for me to continue a relationship with said rejected ones? No. And so it goes. Each time a relationship gets “serious,” I become hopeful (see my masterful treatise, The Dark Side of Hope) that this one is the one that will last.

It may be that my wish has finally come true with one of my progeny. Fingers crossed – cause I really like him. I am a little leery of expressing too much admiration or giving too much praise. Those things can backfire in an old oppositional way.

For those who have gone by the wayside, they continue to live inside my mind: Whatever happened to S? Or did M finally get his act together. Wait a minute! That last one was about one of my ex’s. And that is another whole story…

NOT EXACTLY THE MELTING POT

As I completed my morning errands, which entailed walking a two-block radius of my home, I was struck by how little anyone attended to anyone else. New York (that’s “city” and – even more particularly – Manhattan) has a noteworthy reputation as being a melting pot. You know: where everyone from everywhere, those who look vastly different and have profound cultural variability, become one – within the beauty of the fully integrated and assimilated energy that is our town.

Well, not exactly. My observation suggests that we, in New York, are masters of avoidance, ignoring and simply making believe that what we don’t want to see or engage with isn’t there. Each in our titanium cocoon, each with our inner thoughts blocking out most of the outer stimuli (such as the endless, noisy dig-we-must of Con Ed et al, and the random barking or heated telephone conversations spilling into the street, or the crash of splintering metal on metal that we ignore unless it’s right under our nose). Explosions merely raise an eyebrow; detours are met with the minimum of grumbling. Expectations are low for anything that might be considered smooth sailing, so we just muscle through, most of us keeping our profile as close to invisible as possible.

It’s the alternative – which is played out frequently enough – that keeps us in line. If you hear a loud dispute at a certain tone and decibel, make a wide berth before you can even see the drama being played out. Don’t get involved – that’s the mantra we almost all learn. Yes, there are the diehards, the humanists, the people who stop and ask, “Are you okay?” rather than step over the comatose or bleeding citizen in their path. But that’s atypical. It’s much more common for us to rush past, head averted, phone buds in the ears, and achieve the ultimate goal: I didn’t see anything.

This is what allows us to coexist. It isn’t pretty, but pretty wouldn’t get very far in the big, juicy MacIntosh.

On the other hand, if you do take a moment to look around, you will see at least one of everything that exists in nature. The blindingly handsome and the homely or misshapen; the youthful healthfuls, and the ancient or the disabled. Except for the occasional beggar (and that’s mostly on the subways), everyone is managing to stay in the game. It’s a fragile game, as we all know – deep in our psyches, but we are going to keep playing as long as possible.

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, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference. 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/

TRAINS PLANES AND AUTOMOBILES

Hate them all. Okay – trains a little less. It’s not that I’m a stationary object, I just don’t enjoy speed. Sorry, but it simply feels bad to me. Is it too cute if I say, “I do not have a need for speed?”

This issue is on my mind because I will be traveling to Florida at the end of the month. My mother is there; I can’t imagine any other reason for making the trip. So, there will be the taxi to the airport and then the dreaded flight. I’ve been waiting patiently for “beam me up Scottie” technology for lo these many years and I’m kind of out of patience. Let’s go, team! While I’m young! (Well, not exactly). And, while we’re at it, can we possibly get back into a serious pursuit of space travel?

Yeah, I know all about the space station. But, that’s not what we collectively were imagining when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. No. By now we were supposed to be terraforming planets and encountering aliens in deep space. I have watched way too much Star Trek, I admit.

But there was something so hopeful about the promise of space exploration. It was the next frontier of humanity. Isn’t it a core element of our humanity that we continue to expand in new ways? Hadn’t we taken charge of a big part of our evolution? Pushing our own boundaries rather than just going along for the evolutionary ride?

What happened? Have we succumbed to the mundane? To our earthbound reality? To becoming passive observers (i.e. endless TV, movies, internet), instead of doers and creators?

You might be wondering: How does my dislike of traveling/speed translate into my complaint about the lack of progress in space travel? Let’s not get caught up too much in logic here. Whether or not you or I will personally step into a space-bound vehicle, don’t we all need the sense of the species moving forward? You know, one giant step for mankind. And then, another.

As I white knuckle it on Jet Blue in a couple of weeks, I will not be a happy camper. I will beseech the gods of transportation to be kind to me and not fling any nasty glitches into the mix – you know, delays, equipment trouble, crazy or inebriated passengers, unplanned for re-routing. And, while I am creating my wish list, can I have at least a two-row separation from any crying baby or over-enthusiastic toddler?

After the flight, there will be the dance of the rental car. . . something that seems to be stuck in the previous century. Then, at the end of all that, we get to be in lovely, sweltering Florida in August. What a payoff. But we will see Mom and get to celebrate her 91st birthday, so I will now officially end my bitching and just grin and bear it. Okay, no grin.

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, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference. 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/

 

A FEW RISKY POLITICAL REMARKS…

Can anyone tell me how we got here? Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump: our choices for president.

I haven’t been too political – just a snide or sidelong remark here and there. I feel it now behooves me to make some additional remarks – probably longer and more likely to express more of what I think. So here goes:

We the people have done a crazy, bad, stupid job of finding or permitting certain people to rise to positions of ultimate power in this country. The two current candidates for our highest office are flawed to a degree that makes each of them highly unsuitable for the job . If this were a standard job application, their paperwork would be in the nearest circular file. But, alas, when it comes to electing our head of state, we barely even have standards. Well – that’s not entirely true: we do have standards…they’re just low.

Hillary is dishonest. That’s a really big thing. Dealing with a leader who doesn’t tell the truth, doesn’t respect the truth…imagine that! Donald is not mentally sound. He has a personality disorder and he is impulse driven: both make him someone who has no solid core self. He also lies, but not as flagrantly as Hillary. Donald’s emotional constellation, however, produces a man who can’t be trusted. He, too, doesn’t have any respect for the truth. He says what he feels like saying even if he knows it’s fiction (as with Hillary). Any person giving it a minute of thought would know how out of control Trump is. It just doesn’t matter to him that he is making things up, misrepresenting, maintaining a level of abysmal ignorance, and working to create a roused rabble. It is worth noting that violence, emanating from both camps, seems to be a rabidly growing force in our country and our world,

Trump seems to have no moral center. Even though he gets het up about things, there is no staying power. Everything changes with the wind of other people’s opinions and reactions. We wouldn’t want someone who has no larger sense of anything outside his own self-serving world as our president. Would we?

How has it come to this choice? Two absolutely wrong options. I would welcome any insight, because I really don’t have a sense of what is going on – at the level of full psychological inquiry.

I don’t think our country has really gotten any stupider; we’re just unprepared. We stopped paying attention in class and now we have a test that we can only fail. The story that we are smoothly sailing is just a wish. A comforting wish instead of the anxiety producing truth. Smooth…That’s not quite how it is for most of us.

I’d like to hear someone speak to the demise of American common sense. When we weren’t looking (or were busily plugged in to our “devices”) common sense became uncommon.

Back to Hillary and Donald: Neither is emotionally and morally prepared for the job of President. We are going to wind up with someone who is either wildly ineffective or is inclined toward becoming an authoritarian despot. Or both.

As I have been thinking and saying for a while now: it’s quite a shit-show. In my professional estimation. (It’s a technical term.)

Sometimes you just have to call it what it is.

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, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference. 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/