Posts Tagged ‘Confession Mondays’

Confession Mondays: my coffee addiction

November 8, 2010

So, I made my re-entry back into the world of coffee without much of a glitch, save a bit of shame for being such a hypocrite, telling the world I would never drink “the crap” again. I had originally quit because of headaches and a near-complete dependence on the stuff, a la a pure substance abuse. I couldn’t wake up without it. I couldn’t get through my day without a second hit. And I couldn’t feel a part of American culture if, like everyone else, I didn’t have a tall soy latte in my hand while coursing my way through an intersection.

I had made it an entire month without it, and felt pretty good, despite some migraines the first week, for which I needed to see a doctor.  I substituted with green Kombucha tea, Yerba Mate and red rooibos–all of which did weird things to me. But, soon enough, I felt cleansed, unpolluted, alert, and mostly, free from the ritual of having to hunt down a Starbuck’s every where I went so as to recharge and make me feel part of humanity again. But my digestive tract had become so dependent on the caffeine (from roughly 300 mgs per day down to about 25 mgs or less) that for the entire month, horribly unmentionable things were happening to me. OK, I’ll mention them: burping, belching, farting, constipation, IBS and so on. Not only that, but, without caffeine, I craved bad foods. Usually my diet is very healthy: slow-cooked oats for breakfast, salad for lunch, chicken, veggies and a starch for dinner. Every once in a while  I’d have a sweet. But when I stopped drinking coffee, it was as if I had this Get Out of Jail Free card for eating burgers, fries, potato chips (something I NEVER eat), crackers, and other junk. It’s as if there was this yin and yang within me…pulling at me to do something bad to counteract all the good I was accomplishing. There’s only so much a green tea and Andrew Weil a girl can take, you know. I was too cleansed, too pure, too unpolluted. Not to mention all my friends were on my case, insisting that I needed a vice. “Live a little,” they said. As if drinking coffee, and vices in general are the mark of a satisfying life.

In a way, they were right. Coffee keeps me balanced. And  I don’t mean my digestive tract. Coffee keeps the bad girl in me alive. It keeps me a little sullied, a little uninhibited, a little wild.

My sis-in-law was over last night and we were discussing the documentary “Babies.” She was saying that too much care can cause an individual to weaken. Too much hand sanitizer, for example, can keep us over-protected from being able to build up an immunity to viruses and bacteria. In that sense, I’d like to think that my coffee addiction keeps me dirty enough that I can actually exist among society.

But the truth is, I’ve decided to try quitting again, after the holidays, when I can spend a month or two alone, isolated and insulated from the rest of the world. Detoxing is a slow, meticulous process, which needs time and patience. And the fact of the matter is, I feel better without it, physically and mentally. And though I’m sure to substitute my bad girl coffee habit with something equally bad (shoplifting? sex addiction? loitering in front of the “No Loitering” signs around town?), at least I will no longer be a slave to the ritual or dependent upon a substance that has a little too much control over my life.

But for now, the coffee maker is brewing my usual french roast and my Starbuck’s card is fully loaded and ready to be swiped.

Confession Mondays: Debt victims

November 1, 2010

I don’t even know where to begin, Dick. For starters, the whole “victim” mentality is so not happening for me. That’s very 1980’s. Second, is that your metaphor of children swallowing toys is just not a very strong one. WE ARE NOT CHILDREN. Perhaps that’s the problem here. When we think of big old banks doing bad things TO us, and we imagine we have no control over what they do (i.e. dish out high risk debt) then, sure, we are all victims. We are enslaved. And yet, how is it that some of us aren’t victimized by banks while others are?

For the record, I am 40. I have existed in every tax-bracket imaginable. My father was a brilliant manipulator of the system and I saw how he used it to his advantage. I also saw how banks can fall a part when an individual takes control of his own credit and financial situation. Individuals have HUGE amounts of power that they don’t even realize. We are not victims, Dick. And when we stop thinking as victims we are able to change the paradigms that have us believing we are enslaved.

You seem like a smart guy. And I appreciate an intelligent, non-hostile discussion with you. But you’re idea of me being an extreme libertarian is way off. And your tale of people being punished for wanting to eat a good meal is too. I have had many good meals in my life. The best were paid in cash. And if I didn’t have the money, I ate at home. Simple mathematics.

I’m going out on a limb here and bringing in the possibility that this angst toward the debt crisis is due in part to people’s own shame at having let things get so out of control. As we try to keep up with the Joneses we see consumerism as more essential than good credit and we end up getting buried in debt. Once that happens, we look for any way out and we look for others to blame. Now that more people are recognizing the ugly side to banking and credit, the banks have suddenly become the perfect scapegoat for all our financial woes. It makes us feel better, mentally and emotionally, to know all this debt we’re buried under isn’t our “fault.” it’s someone else’s fault. We’re just a victim.

That kind of thinking is detrimental to the self AND to the economy as a whole because once we give up our responsibility to our own debt and put others in charge, we are susceptible to becoming victims. When we put others in charge, they do not make decisions based on our best interest but theirs. And on and on…

No one snowflake ever feels responsible for the avalanche. Maybe it’s time we start.

Confession Mondays: Bad girl, guilty conscience

August 24, 2010

globeIt’s the shower that gets me every time. As soon as I get in there I can’t get out. And as the clock is ticking and the H2O is washing down the drain, my brain can’t let go of the fact that I’m wasting water.

Then there’s Meatless Mondays. Another one blown to a meatball parm sandwich from the pizza shop. I should be eating salads all day.

And the guilt from all the paper I waste.  Just yesterday I made 320 copies for two classrooms and despite making sure all copies were back and front, the heavy weight of remorse is on me.

With all this new environmental awareness comes a sense of self-condemnation for what may be, in the big scheme of things, a small amount of necessary waste. My conscience, however, believes otherwise. In my mind my behavior is extravagant, imprudent thriftlessness. Even the thought of buying a new pair of shoes or a new outfit has me feeling disgusted with myself. Another pair of shoes, bitch? Seventy isn’t enough?

Last week, right at the end of blueberry season in New Jersey (where I reside), I went to the grocery store for blueberries, late at night. I had a craving to make a blueberry pie in the morning and didn’t want to run out early, but instead be prepared to just wake and bake. The fact that I sold myself out to get them from the grocery store was bad enough. But worse than that was that the only blueberries they offered were from Canada. Not only were these blueberries not from Jersey (during blueberry season!), but they were from a foreign country. And what made it really, really, super evil was that I bought them anyway.

We need a Super Hero in the neighborhood, “Guilty Conscience Man” who comes out of the sky, descends upon us and saves us from our own bad behavior.

When I was a kid, I never thought there’d be a time in my life where I’d punish myself for buying certain foods from a grocery store, or for feeling guilty in the shower, or for eating too much meat. And I guess I was wondering if anyone else out there felt the same. Do you have a little environmentalist guy sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear…”Don’t water your grass,” or “Turn off those lights,” or “ Why did you buy your school supplies at Wal-Mart? You promised me you’d boycott that corporate hell.”

Until GC Man arrives on the scene, and instead of flagellating myself, I’ve decided to volunteer at my local farmer’s market. I’m hoping that will offset my bad behavior and alleviate some of this guilt. But the truth is, I miss the old days when a guilty conscience was earned by partaking in truly guilty pleasures– sex on the Eiffel tower, running away from home in nothing more than lingerie and an overcoat, smoking pot on my parents’ roof. Not buying blueberries from Canada or eating a hamburger on Monday.

Confession Mondays: Ego is an illusion

July 12, 2010

Last night I dreamt that I was imprisoned in a dying world whose only news stories recounted tales of impending doom.  When I woke up I thought, wait a second; something sounds familiar!?  I was still angry with L for her doomsday post. I held her accountable for the way I reacted to it. Should I have? I’m not sure.

Quick background: A Facebook friend of mine posted an article from a not-so-reputable online magazine stating that the world would blow up in six months. I had just woken up, decided to click the link, read the article and I was henceforth depressed for hours, until D calmed me down by putting things into perspective. But I was truly pissed off that anyone would post such a miserable, gratuitous article, especially after it made them so depressed. Why do that? You’re in pain and suffering and so wish it upon others?

The egocentrism of the world is that people believe they can express themselves any way they want. They claim their “voice” and whatever else comes out of them is art. Part of the process of self discovery and sharing. And while that’s true for the young (“Wow! Look that at that big turd I just dropped in the toilet!”), adults should be able to decipher the difference between crap and true creation. The deeper, more penetrating aspect of art is not the art for art’s sake, but the influence it has on others and the consequences it causes.

Some forms of RAP music, horror films, gratuitous violence in movies, violent porn, glamorizing serial killers, etc. These things don’t just expose the ugly side of life so as to incite change or to educate for the purpose of better understanding. These things are self-serving, degenerate expressions of the human psyche whose creators do not take into consideration how their art may negatively affect others.

I’m all for “finding” your voice and creating all forms of art–good, bad, hard to look at etc. But I believe people need to respect the fact that Voice is a powerful tool capable of influence. One voice has the power to give joy or take it away. Finding your voice and expressing yourself for expression’s sake is one thing. Reigning in that voice, taking responsibility for it and knowing how to use it is a far greater talent.

So I told L yesterday two things:

Share joy not misery. The propagation of “doomsday” literature is rather pointless. I can understand when people post ugly, depressing news about stuff we have control over and can change. Scary news that serves as a wake up call to take action. But the stuff we don’t have control over? Why bother posting it? The only purpose it serves is to depress, scare and hurt others, especially those more easily influenced by their emotions.

She didn’t appreciate that. She responded with:

I am…sorry for being so frank – but within certain OBVIOUS limitations, (things which we agree not to share and discuss as a society, for the protection of others) I am striving to find my own voice and will be the one who controls what I say and what I don’t.

To which I replied:

We all have enormous power when it comes to influencing others by what we choose to post. It is a challenge to you and others…if you had a choice to make people laugh today or feel miserable, which would you choose? We are not just floating bodies, disconnected from each other, able to do and say as we please without it affecting others. Sure you can say anything you want! Freedom of speech. But we are all connected. Your actions affect us all.

Bottom line? If something depresses you, and there’s literally NO POINT in its message why pass that depressing news on and in turn be the creator of depression in others?

Am I completely off the mark here? The ego is an illusion. We are all connected. Why can’t people see that when a river dries up in Africa, a sunset dies in Florida?

Confession Mondays: it’s hotter than the Georgia asphalt

July 5, 2010

David Davies' "A Hot Day"

To this day I still pride myself on not having central air in my house. For one, I enjoy windows open, birds singing, crickets chirping, cicadas whirring. You can’t hear a damn thing except a rattling air conditioning unit when the air on. That seems to take away all the glamour of living and suffering through the heat.

Besides, there’s something deeply romantic and Hollywood about the heat:

Sailor and Lula rage on about the heat in Wild at Heart.

Mister Senior Love Daddy confirms it over the radio in Do the Right Thing.

Dennis Hopper wipes his brow from it several times during Easy Rider

It’s an omnipresent theme in The Sheltering Sky

But today it’s going up to 101 degrees in parts of Jersey, and we’re not talking dry heat where it’s cool in the shade. This is wet, humid heat, with no escaping; where the air feels thick and heavy like a giant boot crushing you. Air as still and soundless through the heavy limbs of trees like black oil spreading stagnant across  a dead pool.

Ain’t no sense in suffering through that. So, last night, my wonderful boyfriend installed a wall unit in my bedroom, and with the kids on the floor, and I in my bed, we slept in relative coolness.

I’m not all that proud of myself for giving in. But sadly, I’m getting older and the world is getting hotter.


Confession Mondays: Guilty Pleasure

June 28, 2010

Self-help books. I love self-help books. There. I said it.

Confession Mondays: it’s Tuesday

May 25, 2010

I confess. I haven’t been all that faithful to Confession Mondays. Truth is, I am living a rather somber, uneventful life and have little, if nothing to confess. Not even a tempest in a teapot. And speaking of tea, perhaps the most lurid detail I can share is that Starbuck’s frappuccinos make me crazy. Especially the java chip. This is due in part to what DL (a friend of mine on FB) attributes to the fact that I’ve never done hard drugs. My system is delicate, granted. But it may also be due to the fact that  Starbuck’s may be adding extra shots of caffeine, mocha and sugar to these drinks that throw me overboard. Whatever the case, I am an addict.

How Ed Did It

October 25, 2009

Old_boxes_by_servale

This is part of the Meeting Mary Jane series.

When I was about eight and lived up in New Hampshire my dad typed up and printed out about 100,000 copies of a book he wrote and entitled, “Money.” It was a flimsy white book, eight-and-a-half by eleven in size, not much to look at; and, at seventeen cents to the dollar, a wise investment on my father’s part.  But it was simple and to the point. Each page, in fact, was its own chapter, with titles such as “How to Furnish Your Home for Free,” and “How to Live Like a Millionaire with Less than a Hundred Dollars in your Checking Account.” I can’t say I remember the book verbatim, and surprisingly there is no trace of the 100,000 copies anywhere to be found. What I do remember, however, was the last page.

At the end of the book there was an offer. In small print, it said, “To order Ed Taylor’s second book ‘How Ed Did It,’ please send $15 dollars to P.O Box 123, Bedford, NH 03110.” What I remember most was not so much the actual printed offer, but the fact that there wasn’t one. My father had never written a second book. It was a scam, and a brilliant one at that. In his mind, if he only got ten percent of his readers to send in fifteen dollars for the second book, he would have earned himself fifteen thousand dollars. It was always a matter of numbers, he’d say. But more than numbers it was that my father knew that people, for the most part, were stupid; and that in their desperation and hope to become something less unfortunate than what they were, they’d do something even stupider, like send their hard-earned money in an envelope to an unmarked PO Box, all for the promise of making a little money and becoming a better person.

And some of them did. Who, I’m not sure, but in the end, my dad earned about forty-five dollars; just enough to pay for the PO Box. After that, the ninety-nine thousand or so leftover books sat collecting mold and dust in every garage or attic we moved them to, throughout the years, causing expense and undue stress to my mother each time she had to figure out where to stash them, until finally, they dwindled in number and disappeared.

What this says about my dad is not the obvious; that he was a victim of his own stupidity and desperation, that he tried to make a buck and failed, or even that he had a pretty severe case of OCD when it came to paper products.  Rather, it illustrates the foundation on which he built his entire life and the senselessness into which he dragged his family—all of whom went willingly. In that sense, not only was my father a victim, but a genius.

ÎÌÍ

It was in the spring when I decided to visit my dad at the farm and bring my kids up for lunch and to run around the place as they usually did. My boys loved “Grandpaw” and his farm. He’d take them for tractor rides or build mazes and forts with haystacks in the barn.  Sometimes he would take them down by the creek at the front of his property line and pitch a tent. He’d tell them the story of Sacagawea and how her spirit was still roaming around the place, looking for lost ancestors and whispering secrets to my father in Shoshone about hidden treasure—as if he could understand the language; in his mind he probably could. But my kids loved him and he loved them and despite occasional drunkenness or passing out inside a chicken coop or a hayloft, visits to the farm had become pleasantly uneventful.  One afternoon, however, just as we were getting ready to sit down for lunch with my dad and grandmother, who lived there as well, the phone rang.

My dad was a rather soft-spoken man. He rarely yelled unless he was doing business on the phone, in which case, he always yelled because that’s how he did business. In fact, I grew up for the most part thinking that “Jackass, you owe me the fucking money,” was a sort of vox populi of the corporate world.  So, my dad grabbed the phone and took it into the other room and started yelling, saying things like, “Well, tell them I’m out. Tell them I’m in the fucking hospital then.” My children, who were then only three and six could hear this and so I got up and went over to my dad and told him to shut up. “Your grandkids can hear you.” I strategically used the word “grandkids” so that he’d remember to act more like a grandfather. And yet, I knew this was asking too much. Without acknowledging me he slammed the phone down and said, “Shit” and immediately ran upstairs to his room.

I went back into the kitchen where my grandmother was sitting with my boys. She was reciting a poem she had written sixty years ago, about being a little girl in a frilly white dress. It was a typical Little Bo Peepish sort of poem and the kids were getting a kick out of it. We, meaning my entire family of Aunts and Uncles and cousins and brothers, were always so amazed at her ability to remember these things that on holidays we had a special “Watch Grandma Do Tricks” hour in which we had her recite some of her old poetry or sing old songs from her youth in her signature wobbly, shaky grandma voice.

As I was wiping peanut butter and jelly from the boys’ faces and reciting the poem myself, my dad barreled through the kitchen with an overnight bag, grabbing a few items from the kitchen; artificial sweetener, powdered milk, breakfast bars, and shoved them in the bag.

“What are you doing?” I said.

“I’m leaving.”

“Leaving? Like, packing a bag and leaving town?” I thought that was clever, never suspecting it could be true.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m going to spend the night in a hotel in Philly. I can’t really explain right now.” When the bag was zipped he looked over at the kids and said, “Grandpaw’s gotta go right now, little guys,” and he patted them on the head and gave them kisses.

My grandmother became flustered and stopped reciting.

“Where in god’s name are you going? What about the animals? Why, Ed, you’re supposed to take me to Gail’s tomorrow for our hairdresser’s appointments.” As he whisked his way through the kitchen and wound his way out the front door, pretty much pacifying his mother with an “I’ll call you from the road,” bargain, I ran after him.

“What the hell is going on? Who was on the phone?”

“My attorney,” he says.

“Dad, we drove an hour and forty-five minutes to see you, what the hell are you doing? It’s right in the middle of lunch.” He was obviously perturbed that I was slowing him down with all my questions, so he tossed his bag in the back of his car, hopped in and rolled down the window.

“Look honey, I must have forgotten to show up for a court date or something, you know, parking tickets, and well, I think the police are on their way here right now to arrest me.”

“For parking tickets?” I say.

“Yeah, can you believe it.” He says this as shocked as me. “That’s why I gotta get the hell out of here, honey. We’ll talk later. Tell the kids Grandpaw loves ‘em.” And with that, he did a sloppy K-turn and sped down the driveway, kicking up dirt and rocks all the way to the road.

I immediately ran back into the house and decided to pack up my kids and leave. There was no way I wanted them to be around when god knows who showed up to cart my father off to jail, or wherever. For all I knew it wouldn’t be the police, but more likely loan sharks or, as my mother always referred to them, “shylocks.” I was no stranger to picking up and bolting. It was the way we grew up. We lived in over fourteen different homes across the country within a span of fifteen years. We were always on the run for one reason or another (fear of law enforcement, fear of kidnapping, fear of what a loan shark might do if my dad didn’t pay back his debts). And so, with my usual speed and agility, I threw my boys in the car, kissed my grandma goodbye and went home.

It wasn’t long after that I learned the truth surrounding my dad’s getaway. And, as usual, it had nothing to do with parking tickets. I didn’t believe that old excuse anyway. In fact, any time my dad ever had a problem with the law he always said it was because of parking tickets (no surprise that I would grow up to be an adult who only used public transportation).  And while it was true that he had over seven thousand dollars in unpaid parking violations to the City of Philadelphia, no one ever showed up at his door with a warrant for his arrest on parking ticket delinquency alone.

To be continued…

Confession Mondays: the “normal” life

June 1, 2009

What do you get when you combine two kids, a man and a woman, a grill and some yard work on a Sunday afternoon in May? You get the 1950’s postcard of the American Dream. You get what I call the “normal” life. A scene from a Better Homes & Gardens magazine; that ever-elusive, familial bond over a hamburger, a ball game, and later, a rake and a hose. My confession this lovely Monday is just that. This weekend I experienced the “normal” life. Something quite foreign to me. So foreign in fact, that I am writing about here as a freak of nature.

Confession Mondays: Talkin’ Tim Shields Blues

May 11, 2009

My dad wrote a song many years ago that he called “Talkin’ Tim Shields Blues.” He wrote it in an hour or so and he played it all the time for us when we were kids. There is a rumor that  Jimmy Ibbotson (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) played this song one night for Jerry Garcia (The Grateful Dead) who loved it and ended up playing it out one night in a very small venue.