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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Don't Pickle It: Success Lesson

Hi, Readers, now that graduation is past, and I’m still standing - just about - I have some advice for you. 

Don’t Pickle It.

This is something my Aunt Wisdom says to me when she gives me something nice, like a bracelet my great grandmother gave to my grandmother and she gave to my mother when she graduated from high school. It means use your nice things, don’t just save them. I immediately put the bracelet into my jewelry box for a special occasion, contrary to Aunt Wisdom’s advice. 

It’s hard not to pickle things, I find. When I buy a new item, I resist wearing it right away. I’m waiting for the perfect occasion. Although I get Aunt Wisdom’s drift: use it, enjoy it, don’t save it for some perfect moment. We don’t have that many moments as it is, so we might as well enjoy them while wearing the platinum filigree bracelet studded with sapphires. 
One valid reason for pickling: bracelets are difficult to fasten without help

Use or lose, after all, right? Although that phrase reminds me of an erstwhile friend, who had a fierce attachment to various items which were once impeccable but were now used to the point of almost unusable, like a chipped china teapot and a J. Morgan Puitt linen dress now ragged, which she kept nevertheless. “They’re on preservation,” she said. Which I understand. Because if you don’t use, then you lose by not using. But if you do use, well then you also lose because you use up and wear out. But at least you used. Thus, the paradox of the special material item, ours for now, which we want to last forever, but we know it never will, to paraphrase Cat Stevens.*

Anyway, “Don’t pickle it” is something my Aunt Wisdom says. She says her mother said it to her, which means that, technically, the saying comes from my grandmother, Baba, although Baba never said it to me. Precision, precision in all things. It’s because I’m a lawyer’s daughter and a former potential librarian. I’m a stickler for giving proper credit. That’s because I never felt like I got credit for anything. Or maybe because my parents would interrogate me when I came up with a declarative opinion. 

“Where’d you get that information?” one or another of them would say. As if to suggest I couldn’t have come up with that information on my own. 

But did I want to go dark just now? No, I wanted to talk about Don’t Pickle It as a rule for successful living. The word “successful” here means “pleasant” or “comfortable”, which I think is fair, if a stretch. What else is this blog about if not about stretching the definition of success so that it encompasses just about everything? 

So, yes, I’m thinking of Don’t Pickle It and success, because just the other week, I went to an Event for the husband. For this Event, I pulled out some evening sandals that I’ve had for a long time. Eighteen years, precisely. Precision, precision. I bought them when I was pregnant with the 17-year-old to wear to a wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. An eight months’ pregnant bridesmaid, if you must know. Indeed, the last time I wore them was when I was pregnant with the 17-year-old and a bridesmaid. The sandals have traveled from Boston to Albany to New York City and back to Albany in the meantime. They have definitely been pickled. Now they have come back into fashion, sandals with a blocky heel. So I pulled ‘em out and put them on. Finally, the moment was right. This Event was that moment. And when I returned home and pulled the sandals off, much of the lining of the sandals’ straps and inner soles remained attached to my feet in a tarry substance, sort of like painted on sandals, if the paint were tar, and requiring much scrubbing to remove. And the shoes had to go buh-bye. Lesson learned.

With that experience still fresh, I permitted myself to wear my very nice slingback shoes to the 8th grader’s moving up ceremony, instead of saving them for just the right occasion. And I was glad I did. Even though I was sitting on an uncomfortable bleacher in a high school gym while four hundred 8th graders processed and received diplomas, I was glad I was wearing the nice Ferragamos I bought for my sister the psychoanalyst’s wedding 13 years ago. My feet, at least, were as nicely dressed as some of the boys, who were in blazers and bowties, and I felt festive.

So, Don’t Pickle It.


Expensive upfront, but cost per wear over time makes up for it.
*Cat Stevens's song "Oh Very Young." It's about love, not things. But whatever. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nora Ephron and Me, Exhaling

I feel vindicated. Judith Shulevtiz’s article in the Sunday Review* pretty much lays out all the conflicts I have felt about choosing to put mothering as my top priority, all the while watching my “viability” as a worker erode and the lost financial rewards pile up. It’s a lot of pressure either way, trying to maintain a career while being a parent, or trying to parent without feeling like you f***d up by not having a career. Or trying to parent while cobbling together gigs and part time work - forget that lofty ideal of a career. I realize that’s a privilege when so many people just have to make ends meet. 

She says, “What if the world was set up in such a way that we could really believe - not just pretend to - that having spent a period of time concentrating on raising children at the expense of future earnings would bring us respect? And what if that could be as true for men as it is for women?”  

But I don’t wanna talk about that. I wanna talk about Nora Ephron. I picked up a tome at the Wellesley bookstore, The Most of Nora Ephron. She was a Wellesley grad. And now I want a round dining room table again. I say again because several years ago I read Nora’s piece, “About Having People to Dinner,” on not getting wazzed out over the food (my paraphrase, not her terminology), on giving people a seating plan - “they get very nervous when there isn’t one” - and on the absolutely “essential”  round dining table. So you’re not “trapped talking to the people on either side of you.” I wanted a round dining table after reading that piece then; and I want one again, after reading it again last night. 

Shall I ask the universe for it? 
Or perhaps our accountant?  She will gently remind me that we have college tuition to pay - for the next eight years - and that the FAFSA believes that our household could actually contribute $94,500 of tuition per annum. Seriously. I kid you not. So, instead of purchasing a round dining table, we might consider selling every bit of furniture we do own, and moving into a refrigerator box. Then she will tell me she’s leaving for a two week cruise. 

Why am I not an accountant? 
But I digress.
And anyway, the idea of a cruise is not so appealing. All that potential for gastrointestinal illness. 

But the round dining table? That is appealing. The husband and I argued about the feasibility of such an item in our dining room after I made him listen to me read aloud Nora’s essay on knowing all along who Deep Throat was. Perhaps it made him grumpy - we have a detente on reading aloud to one another, since, as charming as it sounds to share tidbits in turn, and indeed, whole marriages have kept romance alive by doing so and then trumpeting this strategy to readers like me, the truth is that neither of us likes to listen to the other read. We only want to read aloud:

Deep Throat and Me: Now It Can Be Told, and Not for the First Time Either
For many years, I have lived with the secret of Deep Throat’s identity. It has been hell, and I have dealt with the situation by telling pretty much anyone who asked, including total strangers, who Deep Throat was. Not for nothing is indiscretion my middle name.

Come on, that’s really funny. (It’s from 2005, around when Deep Throat came out in Vanity Fair.)
Anyway, as I said, that might be why the husband insisted that a round table would not work in our dining room because the room is rectangular. I countered with my in-depth knowledge of geometry that a circle can fit inside a rectangle. I power-beamed a diagram at him telepathically


It was a more basic diagram, but I couldn't make it work today. 


but he would have none of it. He continued with his St.Aubyn and I with my Ephron. We chuckled to ourselves in our little pods.

The table talk, so to speak, was purely an academic discussion, because what we do have, and what we will continue to have as a dining table, is a plank of plywood 8’ by 5’ atop a smaller IKEA table. This serves us well at Xmas time, when we have a sizable number of guests for a couple of days. However, it’s a bit large for the usual evening party, when we have only a couple of extra people .

Anyway, this is all  a distraction from alligators eating two year olds and the NRA allowing unstable people to massacre innocent people at a gay club and Doonuld Drumpf revoking the privileges of the press at his campaign events and insinuating that President Obama is secretly conspiring with terrorists against the US. 

This is a distraction from the Senior’s impending graduation and the planning of the party for this event, and from the inevitable end of summer, when we drop her off at college and have to return home. What shall we do then?

Immediately buy a dog?


Readers, I do not know. I do not know many things. But I am glad Nora Ephron wrote so much to amuse us, and continued to work and live and be vibrant and upbeat even when she knew she was dying.   

So I will leave you with this quotation from Nora Ephron, on blogging, which she did, by the way. 

"...one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don't have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I'm here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you're saying is true for about as long as you're saying it. Even if it's not much." 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Update Sans Success - Perhaps

Readers, here's an update from New Netherland. 

1) It was an emotional week. So many final thisses and thats. We attended the last 8th Grade band concert and a middle school awards ceremony, events signifying endings of middle school and, of course, while I don’t want to downplay the transition of the 8th grader into high school, the transition most prominent for me is the transition of the Senior into the College First Year. Freshman? Freshwoman? Fresher? First Year, I think will do. No bowing to the patriarchy around here. 

Anyway, after the ceremonies, I headed east for my college reunion. Beforehand, I stopped for lunch with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in twenty years. Ah, those childhood friends. The ones you see or don’t see, but whose voices on the phone are as familiar as family. I was gobsmacked by how the time had gone by since I had seen P.  Conversation was so easy. How was it possible I had not even met her second child, or she my first or second child? What is going on in my life that I can look back over decades like rolling fields of wheat that stretch forever but seem just a quick traverse? 

Yeah. So take that melancholy elegiac tone and head over to your reunion. Your 30th reunion. Notice how I adopted the second person, here? That's me dissociating from that traumatic reality. Thirty years? Oy. 

Anyway, back into the cradle of adulthood for the weekend. A reunion is a strange thing. I think I may become a regular reunion-goer. It’s relaxing to slip into your peer group where everyone is sharing a bunch of experiences. When everyone is your age you do have a lot in common, even if life has pulled you in different ways. People all seemed happy to see one another, even people who weren’t really their friends in college. I think the reunion-goers may turn into another set of friends. 

But all that reaquainting and recapping is exhausting. 

2) After the reunion, I returned home (I still want to put that in quotation marks - “home” - because it doesn’t really feel like home exactly) to attend the Senior’s final ballet recital. Talk about draining. It was open faucets time. And not just for me, for all of us. And the other moms. I am very proud to say that this time we did remember the flowers for the dancer. This has not always been the case. We are not that family that always shows up with a bouquet. We are that family that sometimes remembers to buy the flowers and then leaves them at home. That sometimes forgets to buy them at all and then scrambles out at intermission to find a sad bunch. That sometimes just throws up its hands and says, “Oh well.” For this last show, however, I brought her roses for her middle name. 

After that, several families went out for dinner, and had a marvellous time. Until it was time to pay and the restaurant seemed unable to manage our requests for separate amounts on separate bank cards and it took SO long for them to figure this out that we were all thoroughly sick of the sight of one another and were happy to say goodbye, go home, and have restless dreams about aging and dying. (I’m confident I speak for everyone there.)

Of course we will see one another again this weekend for a different dance performance at Jacobs Pillow, but that’s another story. 

3) It’s been a long time since I reported on the garden. I spent a lot of time obsessing over it in 2010.   Eventually, the moss won and the roses died and things were looking really bad. But I am happy to report that now my garden is looking great. Thanks to somebody else. I did a little of the work, but mostly it was done by our trusty crew of landscaping professionals. I provided coffee and appropriate laughs, since one of the crew is also an improv comedy performer. Are they friends? Employees? Somewhere in the middle. 

Of course when I think of all the money we spent on the yard, I think of the stove with only 3 working burners that still has only 3 working burners, and of the broken microwave that’s part of a microwave and oven combo and would require a lot of money to replace. And I think, perhaps, rather than dribbling money into the ground, we could have replaced our oven and stovetop. 

But that would invoke a whole Brady Bunch redecoration scenario. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? I'm talking about the episode when Carol replaced the carpet (deep, shag, I presume) in the master bedroom; the new carpet made the bedspread and the curtains look dingy, and next thing they knew, the whole house needed a redo. That’s all well and good, if you don’t have to pay for other things, like college and food. But we do have to pay for those things. So the broken stovetop will remain that way until we can afford to replace the counters and the stovetop and the oven. Which might in fact be never. How about never? Is never good for you? 

That’s a quote from the best New Yorker cartoon ever: 
http://www.newyorker.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/How-about-never-cartoon.jpg


But I digress. The point is, we have dribbled money into our yard, and now that it’s summertime in Upstate New York, we are reaping the reward. 

This has nothing to do with success, any of it, unless success is related to endurance, growth (of people and plantings) and change. Let's say it does, okay? 




Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cognitive Distortion and a Myth About Success

Let’s blame the dog. Let’s blame the dog for everything, shall we, Readers? 

Not fair?

I’ll tell you what’s not fair. What’s not fair is that the husband is on call 50% of the time. This means he gets awakened at night 50% of nights. Which means I, too, get my sleep interrupted. And then, on top of that, whenever the dog - dang him - gets some kind of stomach illness, it is always on one of the nights that the husband (and therefore, theoretically, I, despite being perimenopausal) am expecting uninterrupted sleep. 

That’s what’s not fair. 

Or maybe that’s life. Life is also not fair. My father often told me this as I was growing up. I was suffering from a cognitive distortion, apparently. Cognitive distortions are ways in which our minds make us think things are true that aren't. 

“Life is not fair,” he would say. 
“That’s no fun,” I would say.  
“We are not here for fun,” he would say. 
“Then what are we here for?” I would say. 
“Duty, honor, and our country,” he would say. 

Yeah, that’s what was going on when I was growing up. Perhaps that is why I am somewhat pessimistic when I’d rather be optimistic.  So maybe let’s blame my father. But really, he was disabusing me of one of the above-mentioned cognitive distortions to which we are all susceptible, the fallacy of fairness.

So, let’s blame the dog, this week. That's also a cognitive distortion, blaming. But actually, this time it really is the dog's fault. Because that’s what’s been going on around here. Last night, after a round of medicine, the dog slept through the night. This means - you guessed it - the husband was on call, and therefore neither of us slept through. But the dog, the dog was comfortable.

He knows he's cute and will be forgiven


But that wasn’t what I was going to write about. That just came out. I’m blaming the dog for missing my post yesterday and writing it today. I was just too tired. 

What I was going to write about was a myth about success. Here’s the myth. The idea that successful people are somehow different from other people. That they have special DNA that gives them a deep down, elementary sense of the inevitablity of whatever it is they set out to achieve. I used to think that there was an invisible wall between me and successful people. The successful people were tantalizingly close but still unaccessible. 

This is a myth. Successful people do not, in fact, have an invisible mark on their foreheads that shows up under black light and lets them into the club of success. 

Plenty of successful people had no idea they would succeed. Plenty of successful people just plugged away at some project or another, full of doubt and anxiety, full of pessimism, even, before succeeding. 

Furthermore, anyone who has succeeded has also failed. It’s just that we tend to forget the negative things when the positive ones stand out so well. When looking at our own experiences, perhaps we are more critical and remember the failures more than their flip sides. This is called filtering

There is another cognitive distortion colloquially known as the grass is always greener. Well, that's what I call it. If it isn't on the official list of cognitive distortions, it should be. So I found this article refreshing. (See link below, after you have finished my post.) It is about a trend of posting resumes of failure. In other words, instead of just promoting their successes, these nice people put out a list of all the things they've tried and failed to do. It’s a nice thing to know that Princeton professors, among others, have a long list of failures on their resumes. It’s one thing to hear that Edison had hundreds of failed inventions before hitting on his big success; it’s another to hear that someone a little more contemporary has some failures, too. 

Why is this nice? No, it's not my schadenfreude acting up again. (Take two Tequilas and call me in the morning.) It's nice because it reminds we who are striving that missteps and downward plunges are inevitable and they do not preclude success. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Me and Jodie, Success and Failure

There was an interesting article in the newspaper about the latest movie directed by Jodie Foster, “Money Monster.” According to Frank Bruni, who wrote this piece, the movie is, “a meditation on failure: how keenly people fear it, what they do when confronted with it.” 

Is it refreshing to know that Jodie Foster feels like a failure? Or is it depressing? Is it liberating to know she grapples with inadequacy? Or does it make you want to lie down and pull a newpaper over your face and take a real long snooze? She’s had a few awards, and directed and acted in a couple of things you might want to forget. (“Tay-ay in the wiy-yind,” anyone?*) But I think we can all agree that she is a big fat success. She's a success not just because of her achievements, though, Readers. She's a success because she keeps on working, even when the outcome is "The Beaver." Or "Nell." 


“Does she often think of herself as a failure?” Bruni writes. “Failure is a big one for me,” she says. “‘Oh yeah,’ she said. ‘Oh my god, yeah. if Mother Teresa is propelled to do good works because she believes in God, I am propelled to do good works because of how bad I feel about myself. It’s the first place I go. “Oh, what did I do wrong?’”

Wow. I have something in common with Jodie Foster after all. Along with having no face work done. And highlighted hair. And being, as they said when I tried on wedding dresses, "low to the ground." I can relate to the failure thing. 

But where Jodie and I differ is how failure operates on us. Apparently it propels her towards outstanding acting and awards; me, well, I go to therapy. And I blog. And write books, apparently.

So. Yeah. The lesson is clear. She says she funnels her sense of failure into proving herself worthy through good work. I think that’s an excellent idea. I pass it on to you for your contemplation, Readers. 

What are you funneling your existential despair, fear of failure, and sense of inadequacy into? Binge-eating? Depression? Or action? 

The other day I came across something I typed up while killing time during my first job out of college. I was a receptionist in a law firm. Oh, my God, was that boring. When the phone wasn’t ringing, I performed calisthenics behind the desk. I also, apparently, read quotes from Marianne Williamson and typed them up for my amusement.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"
I found that inspiring, as I recall. It was a nice one-eighty from what I usually considered my deepest fear. I read that passage and wondered was my deepest fear really that I was powerful? Because it really did feel like it was that I was inadequate. 

Basically, my inner child really needed to hear she was special. And people just were not lining up to tell her. So I was trying to amass proof. 

The problem with the constant seeking of proof of specialness is that it runs right up against this idea of the growth mindset. Thanks to Carol Dweck, we are no longer allowed to believe in the limits of our intelligence. Nothing is fixed. All is potential. How lovely to be annointed a special one, with a special intelligence or a special something or other that makes success inevitable. 

But, really, is that possible? Isn’t seeking that type of assurance the same as having a fixed mindset? It’s the same kind of mindset that believes that you have to have a particular makeup in order to succeed, so you spend your time trying to prove to yourself that you do have It. Instead of pursing your goals. 

Yes, you are special. So am I. We are all special. And yes, therefore, nobody is actually special. Not even Jodie Foster. She's not special-special.** You’re not special-special. Isn’t that ok? 

What might be special, however, is the work you produce when you try to transcend yourself. Or just to express yourself - which is what I hope for, nothing more, really. 

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), who would have been a blogger, battling Montaigne for followers, if the Internet had existed back when he did - and if he and Montaigne had lived at the same time - had this to say about success and despondency: "From torpid despondency, can come no advantage; it is the frost of the soul, which binds up all its powers, and congeals life in perpetual sterility. He that has no hopes of success, will make no attempts; and where nothing is attempted, nothing can be done."
Johnson: Adventurer #81 (August 14, 1753)

So I guess another thing I have in common with Jodie is that fear of failure, which is really just the hope for success dressed up in drapey black clothes and goth eyeliner. 


*That’s from “Nell,” which, interesting to me, Jodie’s mother told her not to do. Just mentioning that because my authority as a mom is about zilch these days, what with two teenagers. Jodie might have listened to her mom. But, no. Anyway, it was a learning experience, I’m sure. 
** I'm sorry, Readers, but I just can't do it. I actually think Jodie Foster is pretty special. Call me a hypocrite. I can take it. Well, I can't - but I'll discuss it with my therapist.



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Law of Attraction, or Abundance Mindset

Let’s talk about abundance and the Law of Attraction. But first, observe the photo. 





This was one of our finds at Le Marche aux Puces-St. Ouen in Paris. Le Marche aux Puces-St. Ouen was just below the Louvre on my list of must-sees for our trip. This is the famous Paris Flea Market. Or one of them. They’re featured in every home design magazine. Clever interior designers are always touting their finds from this warren of stalls and alleys. Antique bargains, clever repurposed chairs. Even though we live with situations like this, 




I think of myself as a decorator-manquĂ©. So, I thought maybe, just maybe, I would find a console for our mudroom. 

Well, this was our first find. A catuck? A ducat? Who can say? I’m sure that nutty fan of stuffed and mounted wildlife The Bloggess would enjoy this. 

It wasn't a bargain-priced but indisputably elegant console for the mudroom. No, it was more a reflection of my mindset as we arrived at the eerie and half-deserted warren of alleys and stalls. This was how I'd been feeling of late. It’s chic. It’s wearing a scarf. But, really, it’s kinda poorly put together. And also discarded.

Oh, alright, I’m being melodramatic. But I was feeling a bit blah. Due to waiting - apparently endlessly - for an editor to accept my book proposal. I was in limbo, and enough time there and I start to feel blah. I’m trying to come up with a better way of using this taxidermy catuck as an analogy for my state of mind, but Readers, it’s just not flowing. Suffice it to say, this item was odd and so was my mood. 

As I mentioned, the flea market was semi-deserted when we arrived. It was midday on a Monday, and many of the stalls were shut. I wondered if we’d made a mistake in coming to this vast place. In the moment, I lacked courage to scavenge for furniture, so I trailed along after the family, past bins of this and that.

After stumbling around purposeless for a while, the 8th grader said, “Here’s what I want: I want to find an old key that I can turn into a necklace.”

Lo and behold, a few yards along, we came across a large bin full of rusty, old-timey keys. I haggled with the seller, who wanted 5 Euros for this rusty, old, worthless key. (Bargained him to 3 - still robbery). 

But despite the obvious rip-off price of that key, it was a great find. It unlocked something in me that I had forgotten. My first thought was a memory of one of the friends I made at the law firm where I had my first job out of college. She was a few years older than me, a divorced mom. One night, at her house, she told me that she was going to ask the universe for the right man. 

“You have to be really specific,” she told me. “But you have to ask the universe for what you want.” Shortly thereafter, she did meet a great guy, to whom she is still married, several (ahem) decades later. I, by the way, apparently forgot to ask until much later. 

Anyway, there by the keys, I realized that I had once again lost all sense of abundance and possibility. I was dragging around with a feeling of scarcity. A poverty mindset. This is easy to fall into when things are in limbo. This is easy to fall into when something bad happens. For example, one of my dearest friends is having a heart problem. But when the 14 year old found her key, I found that idea of abundance again. 

Finding the key turned out to be symbolic, too. 

After remembering Debra and her invocation of the universe, and remembering that I have at times felt connected to a sense of abundance, I wished (to myself, because of all people, the husband is definitely not a believer in that kind of hokum) that my book proposal would get picked up by a publisher soon. Two days later, my agent emailed that I had another new reader.  Coincidence?

Probably. Some people openly embrace this whole idea of abundance versus scarcity. Donna, my hair stylist, for example, was not at all surprised to hear about the 14 year old and the key.  “It’s the Law of Attraction,” she said, nodding and smiling. 

So is the secret to success invoking the Law of Attraction? There’s a whole major strand of success literature that says it is. The mystic success people that started back in the late 1880s, flowered in the 1920s, and keep repeating on us every decade, like a bunch of bad burps. Deepak Chopra being the one with most credibility. That lady who wrote The Secret being one of the least. I wrote about it here

It’s always there, this idea of asking the universe for what you want and then by your positive thoughts manifesting it. But the flip side of this is ugly. There’s a potential for self-blame that goes along with it. If what you want doesn’t manifest, did you fail to think positively enough? And if something negative happens, is that then the fault of your negativity? If you are depressed, can you never expect anything good to happen?

The grain of truth in this idea of the Law of Attraction, however, is that priming your brain really is effective in influencing your performance. Daniel Kahneman, who is not at all into hokum and who has a Nobel Prize, talks about how easily influenced the brain is. For example, in one famous study he takes two groups of college students and puts them in two rooms. To one group, he shows a bunch of slides of elderly people doing slow things. To the other, he shows slides of people enjoying vigorous activity. Then he asks everyone to move to a third room, and - this is the actual metric he’s seeking - he times them as they move from one task to the next. The ones who saw the elderly, slow people moved slower than the other group. 

Or, there’s this. When I was in high school, I had a crush on a guy who drove a lime green car. Suddenly, I saw those cars everywhere. Were there suddenly more of them? Nope. I was just primed to notice them. The 14 year old wanted an old key. She was thus primed to pick out a bucket of them from amongst all the related and unrelated bric-a-brac at the flea markets. 

So did asking the universe for a new reader bring me one? 
Isn’t it much more fun to think so? 
The result of this key find was that I reinstated my morning practise of thinking of three things for which I am grateful, and then making one wish. And just this week, after wishing that my agent would call and tell me a publisher likes my proposal - and also that the dermatologist would find no new skin cancers at my appointment - she did! And he didn’t! 

Focusing on what I’m grateful for and looking for positive outcomes hasn’t erased negatives, but it has set them into the background. 

I no longer feel like the catuck/ducat. 

I have to revise my sample chapters in my book proposal. Wish me luck! And I will keep you posted. 
Onward!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A One Xanax Trip

Readers, it’s been a month since I last posted. I apologize. I like to post weekly. I meant to. I even took my laptop to Paris. But things got so busy.

The way things were busy:

  • Visiting 3 colleges so the senior could choose her favorite. She chose my alma mater, Wellesley, which I’m trying to be cool about.  


  • Packing for our family trip to Paris. 


  • Our family trip to Paris. 


Now that's what I call success. We went to Paris, and I only needed one Xanax. It was at Versailles. Because it looked like this:


And I didn't know where the bathroom was. 

But the rest of the time, oy, it was wonderful. Well. Drizzly and chilly and cloudy. But wonderful.