Monday, December 24, 2012

a pleasure of the most unexpected kind

I'm baking Christmas* cookies.  The sugar cookie cut-out kind.  And because I'm an equal opportunity baker (heh) I'm making a batch of chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  With powdered sugar generously sprinkled.  Like little round bites of heaven, these chocolate cookies.

*No, not holiday cookies.  Contrary to what some fools out there in faux news land think, I am not a soldier of the made up war against Christmas. 

So while I'm getting all prepared, gathering my ingredients and as I emptied a bag of flour into the storage container, I noticed something.  Something strange.  I lurrrrve the sound and the feel of that thick, soft, hard-pliable paper package that flour comes in.  It's oddly soothing and even more oddly pleasurable.  To the point where I want to sneak into the dark, hidden recesses of my pantry and have my way with it.

I am not kidding.

If no cookies result today, you alone, reader, will know the reason why.

So here's hoping each of you discovers a new, secret pleasure this holiday season. Or even a pleasure you can share out loud with a big surprise look on your face as a camera awaits that all important snap.  Or maybe a quiet pleasure as you watch those you love, be it family or friends, talk and laugh and just be together.

Whatever your pleasure, may it be merry!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

in search of fall foliage

And I do mean search.  As in, taking a long walk on a beautiful fall afternoon, with the number one goal of finding fall color.

Nearly my 30th fall season in this big state of Texas and I still haven't gotten over the yearning I feel for the fall foliage of my younger years growing up on the east coast.  So I like to take long walks and sometimes long road trips in search of fall foliage.

Behind our house is a greenbelt of sorts with a walking trail.  On a gently sloping hill is a stand of Flame Leaf Sumac trees.  Beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows.

While these may not be foliage, per se, the tuna of the prickly pear cactus (below) provides luscious shades of pink which slowly ripen to deep maroon.  I picked a bucket full of these beauties, by the way, to make my specialty prickly pear cactus juice. Read more about my adventures in prickly pear juice here and here.

Sometimes we don't have to walk too far.  In front of our house we planted several Crepe Myrtles.  What a nice surprise to find they produce red leaves in November.

And in the back yard my husband Sam found and planted trees with the express purpose of proving to his bitchy yearnful wife that Texas can so provide fall color. Like most obnoxious proud Texans he refuses for his state to be outdone by any other state, especially a piss-ant sized state from the northeast.

The tree with the yellow leaves on the left is a Chinese Pistachio. And to it's left and seen closer in the picture on the right is a Big Tooth Maple (surrounded by protective wire to keep the deer from chewing at its bark).  This is the type of maple that grows prolifically in Lost Maples State Natural Area located in the beautiful hill country town of Vanderpool, Texas, one of my most favorite road trip destinations.

As of this weekend Sam and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage.  What better way than with a little fall color appearing annually indoors, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

books as therapy

The first book I read by Elizabeth Berg was Open House.  I was so taken aback by the raw honesty of a woman torn apart by her husband's infidelity.

The next Berg novel I picked up was Durable Goods, about a young adolescent army brat who lives with her older sister and their widowed father.  I loved this one, too.

Soon after, I went searching for more Berg titles. Lucky me when I discovered Durable Goods was the first of a trilogy (it would have been just a teeny bit ruined if I had started with the second or third in the series). Joy School and True to Form are the two sequels. I soaked up these two as well.

In doing my clinical work I occasionally encounter clients whose mothers died when they were young.  It's one of the toughest losses to address. For the client, of course, yes.  And for me on a personal level. Not because I lost my mother, thankfully.  But just the mere act of contemplating what a loss of this magnitude means.

I've had a couple recent medical scares (barely) where I several times laid in bed at night thinking about what it would be like for my kids if something were to happen to me.  It was blinding.  I couldn't hold the thought.  I had brief images of sitting in my bed making a video recording of all the things I think my kids, especially my daughters, need to hear from me when they're old enough to hear it (saw this on television somewhere).  My chest would collapse under the weight and my mind would immediately change the subject.

But back to the books.  Right now I'm looking for other novels where the heroine of the story has lost her mother.  Where we see elements daughters processing what it means to grow up without a mother.  Jane Eyre immediately comes to mind but other than the opening chapters we don't hear much in the way of how Jane feels the loss of her mother, per se.  Or am I forgetting?

Any book suggestions, readers?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

best bit about gumbo. ever.

To give you an idea why this story of gumbo holds so much meaning for me, here is a list of names of my southerm friends and kinfolk:

*Arceneaux (ar-sen-oh)     *Cormier (cor-mee-hay)    *Babineaux (bab-in-oh)
*Hebert (Hay-Bear minus the "H")  *Prejean (pray-zhawh)   *Richard (ree-shard)
*Broussard (broo-sard)  *DuPuy (dew-Pwee)   *LeBlanc (luh-blonh)
*Sonnier (Son-ee-yay)    *Theriot (teh-ree-oh)

Which is to say, I come from a long line of cajun gumbolatiers. And I was privileged to learn by the side of a few of them.

So a few weeks ago, as I sat in my doctor's office waiting for my annual poking, prodding, squeezing and flattening and read an article in the Smithsonian, Toward a Unified Theory of Gumbo, written by By Lolis Eric Elie, a man from south Louisiana, you could say I was in hog cracklin' heaven.* Feel free to read the online version, Best.gumbo.ever.

These nearly thirty years of living in Texas I have tasted many bowls of gumbo, enjoyed with great pleasure many bowls of gumbo, that tasted little of what I grew up knowing as gumbo. No bell pepper, no celery, no parsley and only the minimum of onion. Tasted like a wonderful chicken soup with a roux base. But not the rich, colorful, spicy gumbo of my childhood.

So when I read the following words I felt a flood of cajun recognition,

My mother’s gumbo is made with okra, shrimp, crabs and several kinds of sausage (the onions, garlic, bell pepper, celery, parsley, green onions and bay leaf go without saying).

It goes without saying. Can I have a witness?

And even more vindicated goodness was to come:

My elders acknowledged the existence of two types of gumbo: okra and filé. Filé, the ground sassafras leaves that the Choctaw contributed to the state’s cuisine, thickened and flavored gumbo. By the time I came along, okra could be bought frozen year-round. So if you really wanted to make an okra gumbo in the dead of winter, you could. But in my parents’ day, filé gumbo was wintertime gumbo, made when okra was out of season.

Vindicated because I have heard world-traveled, food-savants (some from Cajun territory, even) decry, Some people even add okra! Isn't that crazy? Plainly unaware of the origin of the word gumbo.  Mr. Elie tells us Kingombo is the word for okra in West Africa.

This fact may explain why I've been served a plate of Texas gumbo that contained nothing but okra.

Huh? I sat eating, scratching my head. Figuratively. I was at the table, afterall.

I recall, many years ago, promising an Austin friend that I would bring dinner, a pot of gumbo, to feed a crowd at a football watching party. When I arrived with my large pot and rice cooker in tow I was confused and a little hurt to see that he had laid out an array of barbeque chicken, pork chops and sausage. And potato salad. Enough to feed a small army.

He later admitted, sheepishly, that he thought it was strange when I offered to feed everyone from a huge pot of cooked okra. This from a native Texan!

He also admitted that he loved my gumbo. As did everyone else given the trays of leftover barbeque.

So a big thank you to Mr. Elie for trying to set the world straight. And to his momma, Mrs. Elie, for cooking her son such a fabulous looking gumbo. That crab and shrimp looks to.die.for, just like the gumbo my uncle used to cook up on his backyard gas cooker.

But the biggest thank you I reserve for Mr. Elie, for allowing me to feel safe in the knowledge that the gumbo I serve is, too, the best.gumbo.ever.

*If you have never tasted cracklins, the Cajun version of chitlins, a sort of a cross between pork rinds and deep-fried, thick slab bacon, don't do so at four o'clock in the afternoon, on an empty stomach after you have spent all morning and afternoon eating absolutely nothing, that is to say, drinking high octane Community Coffee and inhaling second hand, chain smoked cigarettes because your cajun hosts are too thrilled to have you as a visitor to even think to offer you any food until you are so plum stupid as to mention you've never tasted cracklin. You might just try some and swear you'll never eat cracklin' again.

Twenty years later? I've kept my word.


Friday, September 21, 2012

noooooo ! not my city !

Just yesterday I tried to post a response to several  Omg, Texas is so scary comments in response to my last post.  All well deserved.

But blogger wouldn't let me for some unknown reason (and it's still acting extremely bratty this morning).  

Until you come to my chosen city, Austin, is what I wanted to comment until blogger wouldn't let me for some reason   Because unlike most of the rest of red, rural Texas, Austin stands as a shining, beckoning royal blue of liberal mindedness, inviting one and all, white, black, asian, hispanic, muslim, buddhist, athiest, left wing, left-of-center wing, and yes, even right wing.

As this story, waiting in my email box this morning, will attest:

So right now I'm trying to decide how to respond.  Tonight, after I see the live music planned for several weeks now, I could head to Bud's street with some lighter fluid and a blow torch and instigate a rope burning.

Or I can just go home like a peaceful little shrink and let good ole' boy Bud have his right to free speech like our  constitution guarantees and the oft bashed ACLU helps defend.  

What say ye, readers?

Monday, September 17, 2012

yay texas. way to make me proud. again.

More and more, Texas and Kansas are acting like twin sisters separated at birth.

First there was the push for creationist textbooks.  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and my kids get to read a science book instead of a religious book.

Then there was that pesky law that mandates women seeking an abortion get a sonogram, thanks to federal judges upholding the law.  It's still being litigated but as of today women are forced to have an invasive, medically unnecessary procedure 24 hours in advance.  A logistical problem for both the patient and the medical facility.

But now?  A Beaumont Texas high school student, presumed gay, signed up for a cosmetology class.  The principal-slash-southern-baptist-deacon, Thomas Amons, instructed the cosmetology teacher, Cequada Clark, to inform the boy he wasn't welcome in her class.  Clark refused to deliver the message.  So Amons (not to be confused with Amens) did what any self-aggrandizing principal would do:  He cancelled the class.  Nobody gets to take cosmetology this term.

As for the noble Ms. Clark, what did she get for her courage and conviction?  A pink slip.


Friday, September 07, 2012

on economic conspiracy theories and donny osmond's secret love child

     My husband's and my conversations keep coming around to a conspiratorial theory about the job numbers in the economy.   Separately we've come up with the suspicion that corporations have been holding back on the hiring front, deliberately keeping the unemployment rate high so that their tax loop heavy, regulation lax GOP presidential candidate, in this case Mittens, will have a better chance of getting elected.

     So today when I saw the NYTimes blurb,

U.S. Added 96,000 Jobs in August; Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.1% 

I immediately surmised it would follow that most of those new jobs were released on August 31st following Mitt's nomination speech.  Or, in the case of companies headed by women, on August 29th, the day after Ann Romney's line,

     I mean, let's be real.  You can't tell me every GOPeep who heard that Oprah-esque shout out didn't cringe, just a little, when they saw that.  Or, like me, a full out stomach retch.  Who wrote that garbage?

     My assumption is, even the powers that be are cringing at the thought of four years of the smarmy Rmoneys in the White House (which inevitably, in most cases, leads to four more).  Four years of overly sentimentalized television journaling of the family's struggling college years, where (insert sad violin music) they had to  gasp!  sell stock - wait a sec, I need a tissue - in order to pay Mitt's law school tuition.  Four years of glamour interviews with each of the five Romney boys, where we get to listen to details of their own pulling-up-of-boot-straps stories.

     (I swear one of those boys was fathered by Donny Osmond.  You know which one I mean.)

     In any case, I am hopeful that job numbers keep rising, no matter who gets into office come November.  Various economic gurus claim we are on the right track, the worst is behind us, and that it takes money in the pockets of the middle class Americans to get back on solid ground.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

airport observations

My summer ended faster than expected.  At the last minute I had to fly out of town, to my nation's capital and then to my hometown in Joisey.  Too much time on my hands, between the hours before takeoff and mind numbing layovers, I took notice of my fellow fliers.
--Young women in swingy, flowy mini-dresses should not carry backpacks unless they want people behind them to watch their dresses hike up their asses.  Something about the positioning of the pack over fabric and the swaying of hips causes the dress to mimic a rising curtain.  Given the array of dimples I witnessed, this shocked observer wondered if the young woman was wearing a thong or nothing at all. 

--Hulky muscley guys are so, so not attractive.  They are like some tanned species of hairless ape in clothing.  It doesn't help that I imagine the hours and hours of grunting in front of a mirror as they painstakingly cultivate all those bulgy muscles.  Not attractive either.  

--Ditto not attractive, those tall athletic males who hawk a loogie into a planter not four feet from my own feet.  You were good looking until you made me gag.  

On a side note, someone feel free to explain one of the most mysterious unknowns plaguing me since childhood:  Is there an evolutionary reason why men spit so much? Equally appreciated would be a corresponding explanation for why women (read, this particular woman, me) seemingly lack the physical capability of spitting properly.  Why, instead of ridding the throat of irritating mucous, do my attempts cause only a fit of coughing and gagging and teary eyes which, maddeningly generates even more mucous.  

Ok, so back to ass cheeks.  Anyone want to take a guess as to which famous person these belong?

Monday, August 13, 2012

hope springs into the therapy room

Saw Hope Springs yesterday.  It stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple married 31 years in desperate need of an intimacy tune up.  Added treat, Steve Carell plays their marriage therapist.  He plays it straight but I was constantly suppressing a giggle every time the camera was on him.

As someone who has been present in many a couples therapy session, to include both sides of the couch, I can say this is one of the most realistic portrayals of on-the-screen therapy I have ever seen.  It's a good look at what cognitive behavioral therapy looks like.  

It was also nice to watch on-screen therapy and not wince at the multitude of ethical violations and unrealistic therapy results.  And what I'm talking about here is that magical Aha moment where the client accesses a deeply buried insight, bubbles over in dramatic tears, is hugged by the therapist, and all is well from that moment forward.

Aside from the therapy perspective?  Convincing acting by all and it's a hugely funny and really touching movie.  I laughed til I cried and cried til I laughed.  Have tissues in hand when you choose your seat. Especially if you suspect you'll see aspects of your own marital bogged-down-ness.   

Hope Springs is not the most well directed movie.  It's got a few slow points and the timing is awkward in several scenes and the dialog is a little weak here and there.  But overall I loved every minute of it.  

It was also a great movie going experience thanks to the fact that Sam and I were two of the youngest people in the mostly packed audience.  It was fun to listen to the loud bursts of laughter, the type which says, Yup.  That's exactly how it is in my marriage.  One guy in particular was doing a little too much relating when Streep's character fessed up that she didn't like oral sex.  When Carell asked whether she was referring to giving or receiving, she stammers, Uhhh..... Huh?!?  This is a  woman who needs June Cleaver to teach her a thing or two.   

Which leads to one of my not very important on a movie choice level but important on a  female point of view level.  I speak of issues raised by Streep's character but not followed up on by the therapist or elsewhere.  The perspective portrayed where the woman seemed most motivated and willing to change her behavior and the man less so.  Need bedroom sparks?  Woman: get to it.  The part about doing more for the woman to keep her interested?  (Which is a number one issue in my office?)  More or less hopped over by the male director.  For example, we see Streep doing the Monica on a banana.  Do we see Jones playing tongue-sie with a taco?  No, we do not.  

Oh well.  It's a very good start to a very necessary dialog for older couples who want to keep sex alive.  And great, all around entertainment for people who want to see a relatable married couple in a funny, poignant film.  

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

a victim of mistaken identity

My sister, whom I shall call Robin because my parents almost named her that, lives near my hometown. Robin looks a lot like me. She is also ten years younger.

For about the 21st time in as many years Robin called me today to tell me, yet again, one of my high school classmates approached her and asked if she was me. And of course she informed them that no, she was my younger sister, Robin.

To which my classmates say something to this effect:

Oh! Well that explains it, then! I've seen you lots of times and thought you were her. Huh. And here, all this time, I thought she ignored didn't recognize me!

Even my high school BFF once mistook Robin for me. Robin said my BFF came storming across a parking lot ready to ream me for not letting her know I was in town.

Now, you can imagine (or not if you are a healthy, confident person who doesn't spend hours upon hours ruminating) this dilemma presents a push and pull of two equally polar feelings. On the one hand there might be a crowd of classmates out there who think I look ten years younger. Not a bad impression to have floating around.

But on the other hand, there's more likely potentially a crowd of classmates thinking I am blind ignoring them. And that I am, what? Too good to speak? An asshole?

And of course my mind gets stuck on the latter. Worried that I'm hurting other people's feelings. When I'm not even there. Worried that people think I'm an asshole.

I am, as they say, a victim of mistaken identity.

Nothing can be done about this, right? Or can there? The year is 2012. I can use some of this modern social technology to make an announcement. On my high school's Facebook page:

Hey classmates, Listen up! I've got a younger sister who looks a lot like me. Her name is Robin. If you think you see me at the grocery store and I don't acknowledge you? It is not me ignoring you. It is my sister ignoring you. Because she has no idea who you are. So do me a favor? Go up to me/her and ask. So you'll know what the real deal is. So you won't go around telling people I'm a stuck up asshole!

So what do you think, readers? Too much? Too neurotic?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Monday, July 09, 2012

rainy days and mondays lately get me high

Not sure if anyone saw my post on Friday where I wished for rain but this video proves that sometimes wishes do come true. Sooner than you'd think.

More rain, lots more, is on the way. Downpour style. Shear markers, the weather dude is saying, plus pea-sized hail, gusty winds, thunder and lightning. Wooo hoooo! Bring it on, sweet mother of nature.

And by the way, don't you just love technology? The kind that brings you weather radar? Where you can zoom in to see if the doppler is picking up rain on your very own street? Cloud coverage and lightning have been added to our local station's radar. Cool to be alive and connected in this day and age, isn't it?

Speaking of technology, I need to log off and shut down. Lightning over head. Rainy days and Mondays are sometimes a very good thing.

p.s. Did anyone see the special treat for Debbie at the tail end of this video?

Friday, July 06, 2012

friday fill-ins we go!

1. I am happy it's Friday!

2. Watermelon and homegrown tomatoes are my favorite summertime fruits and vegetables.

3. To help me or not to help me. That is the question.

4. Dance in a downpour of rain is the one thing I want to do this summer more than anything!

5. Just the other day I was saying how I can't wait for this week to be over.

6. I keep avoiding my exercise goals over and over again.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include entertaining a long lost friend and Sunday, I want to enjoy a send off brunch!

Want to play? Go to Friday Fill-Ins.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

one minute of cold

Found my way to a new (to me) blog, The One-Minute Writer.

Who's got the time to journal daily? You do.
1. Read the daily writing prompt.
2. Push "Play" on the timer on the right side of the screen.
3. Spend 60 seconds or less writing a response to the daily prompt.

Today, take a minute to write!

SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2012

Today's Writing Prompt: Cold

Many people in the U.S. have been experiencing a heat wave. Describe something cold.


That soothing shudder of relief felt at the bottom of the ocean on a hot summer day.
Warm at my waist, cool at my feet.
One step in the right spot and my body sighs.
A welcome escape from the Texas heat.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

vacation ends but celebrating begins

Woke up this morning feeling a little deflated.  The day we leave our beach vacation.  But then, by 9am, cheers of celebration.   Obamacare stands!   With a nod of approval from the Chief Justice, at that.  
Was funny - and telling - to see Faux News incorrectly report, ahead of the other stations, that the Supreme Court had overturned the health care law (with a loud, off-camera sigh of relief by T. Blossom, at least that's who I think it was).  And then have to back track and report that the health care law was actually upheld (with some tweaking).  

I hadn't known this until today:  The Supreme Court is there not to merely give an up or down on the constitutionality of the law in question but to find a way to uphold the law by revising.  And that's just what Chief Justice Roberts did.  

What a relief.  When you're both self-employed like my husband and me, and not one, but three family members have pre-existing conditions, maintaining health care insurance is a major expense and an even bigger source of anxiety. Obama's health care law has been a very good provision as far as we are concerned.  No pre-existing exclusions?  Check.  Coverage for dependents until the age of 26?  Check.  

And to all those follyticians (Bush, Perry) spouting off that the answer to affordable health care is medical tort reform? Wrong.  Recent study found that Texas 2007 tort reforms did not reduce health care costs nor did they lead to the influx of doctors to practice medicine here.  A previous study found the same.    

So to my way of thinking, the failure of the promises of tort reform is just another compelling reason to give Obamacare the try it deserves.  

How about you, reader?  How did this morning's decision affect you?  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

making progress

Went to bed last night with this TV news story on my mind:
And woke up to this story in my paper:

Breaking News: Archbishop's Aide Guilty of Endangerment in Abuse Case

I've worked with victims of child sexual assault most all of my career.  And I've worked on the other side so I could learn the ropes about sex offender therapy, mostly so that I would know their rules when treating a family member.  What I didn't count on but has proved invaluable was learning how the perpetrator mind works, what grooming looks like.  Helps to identify perpetrators before there's an actual outcry.  

When I read the Sandusky victim statements?  Had guilty written all over it.  A prolific groomer of the most dangerous kind, surrounded as he was by trust and awe.   

In any case, these news stories indicate we are making progress, lessening the stigma, laying groundwork for more victims to come forward.   To the eight survivors who stepped up to testify (and to his adopted son who admitted to his own abuse after he heard the victim testimonies), a big thank you on behalf of all of us in the treatment community and every survivor silently cheering.  

do do do do the shuffle.

The insurance shuffle.

Warning: Pushing play button is a must. Background music a necessity. Post too painfully tedious for unaccompanied reading.

Ready? Begin.

I just spent two freaking hours tracking down mental health benefits for two patients and following up on a claim payment rejection for another patient. (The third time I've had to call for the same claim. They just can't see to get it right.)

Best medical system in the world, who?

Oh wait, and I also spent an hour the day before in the same pursuit. These several unpaid hours included, but are not limited to, the following:


1. calling toll free numbers on the back of the members' cards

2. using automated system to punch in the following information

member ID number (8 digits)
member date of birth (8 digits)
provider tax ID number (9 digits)

3. being placed on hold (can last anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes)

4. speaking to customer service rep, asking her to repeat her name due to inaudibility or unusual pronunciation of common American name. hearing CSR sound annoyed with me for asking her to repeat. and then more annoyed when I ask her to spell. general rule: the more unusual the name the greater the annoyance

5. giving CSR no less than the following information:

member name whose plan I am calling about
repeat member ID number (8 digits)
repeat member date of birth
member home address
member home phone number

provider name (that's me)
repeat provider tax ID number (9 digits)
provider address
provider telephone number "in case we get cut off"

6. having call re-routed after the customer service rep realizes I am calling about mental health benefits, not medical while writing down the new number lest the call fails to go through

7. being placed on hold

8. repeating the same 9 pieces of information once the re-routed call goes through (see #3 above)

9. being given a new number to call after the CSR realizes her company is not the vendor for the particular type of mental health plan opted by this particular patient

7. calling the new number

8. repeating steps 2-3

9. having my mobile phone cut off, apparently due to battery run down (not the fault of the insurance company, granted, but a modern hazard nonetheless)

10. repeating steps 2-3

11. being told there are no CSR available as the office has now closed (it is one hour later on the east coast where, I have now learned, too late, the company is located)


1. Repeat steps 2-8

2. Repeat steps 2-8 again for next patient

3. Learn I am not on a particular plan's provider network that covers three sessions.

4. Call network manager to inquire about becoming a network provider in order to get paid for these three sessions.

5. Being told this particular plan's pay scale does not differentiate between various provider levels (masters level license versus phd level - that's me) and would I be willing to accept half my usual rate (which is already half my preferred rate).

6. Telling the network provider manager I will not accept this insultingly low fee (I mean, I do have my standards, I didn't go to college 13 years in order to earn less than a carpenter's hourly rate and I am not going to step up and reward these greedy insurance bastards who pay their CEOs millions whilst stiffing those of us in the trenches actually doing the difficult, expert, and sometimes emotionally harrowing work)

7. Calling the patient to inform, sorry, I will not be able to accept her particular insurance plan. And I really am sorry. I understand financial barriers.

8. Five minutes with head on desk resisting the urge to bang furiously.

Ok, this is all in a day's work, folks, when new patients come through the door. Do we wonder why the lists of mental health providers, psychiatrists most especially, on our networks is shrinking? This is why. Or one of the reasons why. The increasing cost of tracking down benefits and unpaid claims through the labyrinth maze of automation and bored-to-the-point-of-frazzled reps.

Obtaining some patient benefits are more straight forward than this but there are far too many of these scenarios.

When I do go through this I want to scream, pull out my hair, throw my phone across the room, hunt for the battery that has flung from the phone, crawl, ball up into fetal position, cry, moan, whimper, and finally, surrender, decide it is time for me to be the patient and let some other psycho-schmoe go through this benefit assessment process in order to file MY claims.

Oh wait. That's right. I don't have mental health coverage because I am self employed. I cannot afford to see me.

So I blog. Instead. The shrink is on the couch. As I recently read on a blog header, "It's cheaper than therapy." (I would love to give a proper shout out here but I cannot remember whose blog. Can anyone help me out?)

Update:  Shout out goes to Jen on the Edge.  And a shout out of thanks to smalltownme and Jenn at Juggling Life for identifying Jenn as the author of "It's cheaper than therapy."  

Saturday, June 09, 2012

top ten things to do when mom is home alone

roadrunner on our birdbath, taken last spring, see old post, here

Top ten mom things to do on the evening of my bi-annual mom-home-alone experience:

1.  clean and refill birdbath

2.  feed chickens fruit and veggie scraps; find one brown egg

3.  sneak over to the neighbor's back yard where Daring Daughter is babysitting (ok, so i'm not entirely home alone); throw tiny pebbles at her as she swings on the hammock (listening in as she gives voice commands to her iPod);  all the while the babysittees swing on their swing set, plainly looking in my direction, laughing really loud, thereby giving me away, unheeding my pleas to:

4. watch the parade of tricked out vintage cars at the car show in Vineland, NJ, courtesy of my sister texting me pictures (don't you love modern technology?), and not really minding the longhorn orange Chevy

5. pause by the kitchen window to watch the hummingbird lap sugar water from the feeder (my mother's day gift)

6. slice up a big plate of fresh, homegrown, good-as-Jersey tomatoes (thank you, dear husband), generously sea salted and black peppered, and savor each and every bite as I sit on my back porch, under the ceiling fan, rocking in my trusty, beaten up, barely woven together wicker chair, alternating between watching the sun set and reading Austin Woman Magazine

7. share bits of tomato slices with my tail-wagging-pooch (who knew dogs love homegrown tomatoes?)

8. text my out-of-town, boys-only-weekend, golf-playing-husband,
I deposited $ into our checking account.  
In case you need extra tipping cash for the lap dancers.

9. stream foreign films on Netflix (currently playing, sidewalls)

10. repeat to myself, life is good ... life is good ...

Monday, April 16, 2012

like a moth drawn toward existential self-annihilation

I read as Debbie weighed in on her feelings about RAFing and was reminded of a conversation with my husband and his friend over the weekend.

If you don't know what it means to RAF (1) you have to check out her post to find out, and (2) you might be one of the young people I mention below, in which case, I hope my little thesis here is proven wrong.

I have already passed over that freakishly daunting milestone, thank goddess.  The two men I spoke with are older than me, more in line with RAS,* so when I expounded on my fears of aging they looked at me like I was so-o-o six years ago.  The conversation came up after the friend, who is getting his teacher certification, admitted he was touching up his gray in an effort to appear younger during interviews. (Doing a good job, I must say.)

My story of coming to terms with my aging went like this:

I have several 20-something clients. Periodically one of them mentions an encounter with someone "really old" and, like a moth drawn toward existential self-annihilation, I cannot resist the urge to stab myself in the ego ask, "How old is this person?"  and I invariably hear, "Oh, he was old. At least fifty!"

Ouch. Might as well have said fifty-hundred.

What makes it the hardest for me, this process of accepting that I am schfifty,* is knowing that young people see me as irrelevant.

Not that my young clients see me as irrelevant.  They see me as god like wise and expensive.

Not my kids, either. They see me as god like a taxi driver and cheap.

But young people I meet, in general. I know that they do not see me as a potentially cool person who might be fun to get to know. No way. They see me as a potentially one-foot-in-the-nursing-home person who might be fun to tune out.

I remember it very well, when I was in my twenties and thirties. People who were fifty-plus? Ancient. Out of touch. From a completely different era. Planet, even. They cannot possibly relate to me and my experience. They are old.

I'm pretty sure there is no overcoming this assumption. Fifty the new thirty? Not in their eyes. In their eyes my eyes have bags under them.

So what I say to myself is this, "Self? Get over yourself. You're schfifty. Be relevant in your own mind. In your own life. If you can't control others' perceptions, control what you think of yourself."

And then I sit in my rocker on my porch and feel a tiny bit better.

* Debbie said, rather than write the number, it hurts less to write out fifty.  I find it hurts less to disguise it even further.  Schfifty.

* Rapidly Approaching Sixty, not to be confused with Rapidly Approaching Schfifty.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012


It sure is tough being a teen!

p.s.  This may be my last post.  My last breath, in fact, once the posting of this picture is discovered by a certain quick tempered personage in the house, whom I love dearly and might even take for a frozen yogurt if she lets me live.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

a shrink considers mommy porn

I was having another quiet uninspiring boring Saturday night on the couch, one in which the only occurrence of interest was the careful application of ice to my tush*, when the phone rang.

It was Sue Cee, one of my favorite homettes, calling from our nation's capital. She's there to join a bunch of friends for a cancer benefit race.  They're running the streets of DC in honor of my BFF's husband and fellow homeboy of thirty-five years.  He was recently diagnosed, we were all stunned and saddened to learn just two short weeks ago.  It's going to be a serious fight for these dearest of friends

But back to the phone call.

Sue Cee sounded Tip Cee.

Three glasses of wine, she said.

Wah ha ha!  Snort!  I heard.

Wah ha ha!  

She was hardly coherent.  Iffy shades of grey, she snorted.  Give it to your husband, she cackled.  Spice up your sex life, she guffawed.  I could hear my other friends in the background laughing right along with her.

Eventually I deciphered that she was talking about the e-book bestseller and softcore fictional book, 50 Shades of Grey.  (I learned this much by Googling in the midst of all the cackling.)

Jezebel, who filed this post under Erotica, calls it  Mommy Porn.  She reports that Fifty Shades was 'literally" inspired by the Twilight series.  If so many housewives can swoon over teenage vampire lust, the thinking went, maybe they'll go for a virgin literature major bowing down before her interviewee, a billionaire entrepreneur who's into BDSM.   Over 16,000 reviews on Goodreads (up to 23,000, I just now saw), how have I not heard about this?

Too much tennis and teen taxiing, I guess.

So I thought I'd ask my readers.  Has anyone read it?  Is 50 Shades worth the $33 asking price (paperback)? If I had one of those electronic gadgets I could download it for $10 and tell you my opinion.  But since I'm still in the dark ages, turning pages instead of flicking a screen, I'm hoping someone's little screen, and maybe erogenous zones, have been lit up by this latest sexual sensation.

And, if you happen to read this bright and early AND live in, or are visiting Washington, DC,  the race starts at 9am.  1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.  Or, in lieu of running, you can do as I did, make a donation here on my friends' Get The Funk Out of My Colon donation page.

*Tennis injury. Don't ask. I'm too pissed off at my body to talk about it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

chick flick alert

Watching instant movies on Netflicks is like playing roulette.  You never know if an unheard of selection is going to be a winner or a loser.  Losers in the awful category can be spotted pretty early.  Fifteen minutes tops?  So no big deal, right?  Hit the stop button and go back to the menu.

But then, my movie viewing indulgences are typically limited to weekends and we all know how weekends blow past like a dandelion seed on a spring breeze.  One moment I'm walking toward it, feeling like I've got all the time in the world and then, puff, it's Sunday night.  Weekend in the rear view mirror.

Those 15 minutes, then, are something of a big deal.

As for the winners, when I find one, I feel like I've hit the jackpot.  Single number.  Straight up.

When Netflicks recommended Broken English with 4-stars I hesitated.  Never heard of it.  Indie film. Those are so hit or miss.  And since my kids rate their movies too?  Even a 4-star rating isn't a sure bet.  My kids like genres such as horror, futuristic sci-fi, and obscure Japanese arthouse.  I go back and undo their ratings bias (one star, hated it) (which I feel slightly bad about, that I'm depriving them of their democratic vote) but again, as we all know, there's not enough time in the day for this hardly very important chore.  In the end, even a four-star recommend carries some risk.

But on this particular night I chose to believe in the luck of the Irish given that it was St. Patrick's day.  So click of the play button.  All bets on the table.

Broken English.  Nora, a 30-something single Manhattanite is wearying of looking for Mr. Good-man.  By the time she meets Mr. Bonne-homme, she feels no trust in her instincts.  Is this love he offers or just another trick?  And as with most chick flicks worth their salt, some of the best best-girlfriend scenes since Sleepless in Seattle reside here.

But I'll make this quick. I loved every minute of this Indie flick.  Jackpot.

Bonus prize - Nora is played by Parker Posey - who's got the whole forlorn, love-bruised, single-too-long vulnerability down pat, complete with a believable rendition of panic disorder (and I should know). Posey, in my opinion, was majorly overlooked by the Academy.  Second bonus, Nora's mother is played by Gina Rowland.  The director is Zoe Cassavetes, daughter of Rowland and John Cassavetes. I wonder why she hasn't done more and I wonder why this movie never made it big.  Or maybe it did and I missed it?

So five stars for Broken English.  Bring on Sunday night.  I'm ready for it.


Monday, March 12, 2012

happy birthday to me

Thanks to shock jock Rush showing his Tush, I just might have a happier birthday than I thought possible at my ripe old age. What are the gifts creating this unbounded birthday happiness?

Simply this. I was alive to witness:

h Rush apologize

h More than 100 advertisers drop the Limpballs show*

h Premier Networks, the largest radio syndication company
in the U.S., announce they are suspending national advertising

*as seen this evening on my next-life husband Lawrence O'Donnell's The Last Word