Tag Archives: bananas

May is ___________ Month

8 May

IMG_5945Last spring I was wandering around Italy to visit my precious young one who was studying there, and one of the things that most fascinated me was the wonderful ways that women—and men—wore scarves. There seemed to be no end to the varieties of ways that they tied them. It reminded me of some of the young people I know, such as my beautiful niece Rachel, who seem to have a natural gift of knowing what to do with a scarf. So I decided, 2012 was going to be The Year of the Scarf. And, I must admit, my scarf collection has multipled mightily. I am still not overly adept at finding 30 ways to tie a scarf, but I will at least toss one on to add to an outfit. I don’t like fussing over clothes much, but I thought, well, I am a girl, so why waste it? We get to be senselessly decorative so why not.

Thinking about what scarf to wear into the city today brought me to thinking of how having the idea of calling 2012 The Year of the Scarf actually worked in getting me to focus more attention on scarves, and my appearance generally. Once I named it, it was, as many mindfulness experts say, “setting an intention.” Scientist Daniel Siegelman said on an interview on one of Brainsciencebroadcast.com that meditation is “setting an intention to pay attention.” That is a subject I’d like to return to. But what I’d like to focus on is: If 2012 was the Year of the Scarf, what will May, 2013, be the month of? I invite you to think of one small change you’d like to make—as trivial as wearing a scarf if you want—and try to do it every day for a month. I just finished a book called This Year I Will. . . and the author spoke of a Japanese word, keisen, which means tiny changes (or so she said). It could be flossing ONE tooth. It could be putting the keys in the same place. It could be promising yourself to make one social contact a day—even if it’s just a facebook notice or a three sentence email to make a plan with an old friend.

One idea I had for May was becoming more technically adept. But since I somehow lost my password for WordPress and had major difficulties making a new one, and already failed my first MOOC, I think I’d better ease into my technology goal a little more slowly. But there are still three weeks left! And they say 21 days are needed to develop a pattern. So why not think of one SMALL thing you’d like to change and do it for the rest of the month—and after that, keep it up or drop it, no harm, no foul.

I will share some ideas for May is _______ month, and I’d love to hear more.

  1. Make the bed month
  2. Eat breakfast at home month
  3. Wear sunscreen month
  4. Sing in the shower month
  5. Be on time month
  6. Put the keys in the right place month
  7. Throw one thing away a day month.
  8. Eat a salad before dinner month.
  9. Walk 20 minutes a day month.

10. Wear sensible shoes so you CAN walk month.

11. Clear the crap out of the closet month.

12. Email an old friend month.

13. Don’t put a banana in your pocketbook month.

14. Clean your sink month.

15. Write 30 haikus month.

16. Eat a piece of fruit a day month.

17. Dish out a free piece of advice every day this month.

18. Learn how to make soup month.

19. Stop trash-talking yourself month.

17. Talk like a pirate month. (why not, arggggh?)

Writing Prompt: So, as the beautiful month of May spreads out before us like a field of blooming buttercups, do you have any suggestions for what tiny change you’d like to make?

April 2013 Statistics

1 May

Times I locked a bathroom key into the bathroom after I left: 2

Fact I learned from a physical therapist: “You should be able to watch the movie Titanic without going to the bathroom once.”

Reason Why This Cannot be True: Titanic is wettest movie ever.

Items lost: black scarf. Black and grey jacket. Mr. HH’s library book “Composting” that I promised I’d return. The piece of paper I have to bring to the doctor tomorrow. CD #3 of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (library’s copy). Three credit cards. The book Mindsight by Daniel Siegelman (also, from library). Pride.

Number of onions found under car seat while looking for these items: 5

Major crime: Nutella heist in Germany. (Cannot reveal details of how I pulled this off.)

Podcasts listened to at least two times of Brainsciencepodcast.com: 15

Percent I understood: 75%. Well, definitely got it in the Broca and Wernicke regions, not sure that my anterior cingulate gyrus or frontal lobes got the full message.

Steps walked: 313,683

Times I made child roll his eyes because I said, “Honey, do you want a snack?”: 25

Times I pissed off child because I said he would like Game of Thrones because it had Dragons: Once. Because he’s not 13.

New favorite word, courtesy of Game of Thrones: Sexposition: when you have to have other people come into the room while m’lord is busy with a wench to explain the enemy is at the gate just to keep the plot moving forward.

Times I pissed off child because I suggested he clean up his room: 17.

Times room got cleaned: 0

Maximum number of damp towels found in child’s room at one time: 7

Times I aggravated child because I asked about his schedule: 15

Times he knew or would tell me his schedule when I asked: 0

Number of times he thought my jokes were funny: Once. After I bought him lunch at Sonic.  

Things about his life that are my business, including when he needs ride in five minutes: 0

Number of hugs it takes for me to be complete sucker to child: 1

Number of singletons still in the sock basket: approximately 50.

Best movie seen in theater: No (Chilean movie about 1988 referendum on Pinochet—more fun than it sounds.)

Miles husband has ridden on his bike in full spandex: hundreds.

Best and only play seen on Broadway with Julie and Martin: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Amount of cancer found on Sloan-Kettering Day of Beauty: 0

Number of hours a pest tried to flirt with me while I was obsessively reading about mythology in the Carl Jung Center’s library: 1 (felt like 100) 

His Jungian analysis of a dream I had where a bloody corkscrew was poking out of my eye and my father said, ‘you’ll never get a boy looking like THAT.’: “You’re obviously trying to individuate yourself.”

Interesting fact I learned from the guy who works at the Barnes and Noble café: “America is the best country on earth, in spite of the fact we bombed Nagasaki and Iwo Jima.”

Shortest Book read: The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin (about 88 pages—when I found out this was our reading group book I wept with joy).

One sentence review: In old age, Mary isn’t buying this Jesus is God nonsense and would everyone please leave her the hell alone. .

Second shortest: Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag.

One sentence Review: Take all the photos you want about how war sucks, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is going to stop having wars, so there.

Number of half-read library books somewhere in this house: 5-ish??

Technological advances: Joined Twitter. Joined a MOOC. Could not complete assignment for first week, however, because I don’t know how to put words on TOP of a picture.

Older son’s reaction to fact that I don’t know how to put words on top of picture: “ha ha ha ha ha, oh Moooommm.”

Lesson I still didn’t learn: bananas and pocketbooks don’t mix.


New York on $7 a day, 22,000 steps, and a Moody Norwegian Novel on Playaway: A Review.

18 Oct

Okay, so on a Wednesday I go to Montclair Library and I’m looking for a Playaway. A Playaway is the bastard lovechild of a walkman and a transistor radio, by the way. They’re these little gadgets that just have one book on them and they’re about the size of a deck of cards. But it’s kind of handy sometimes. However, they don’t work reallllly well and they always have a used AAA battery in them that dies the minute you get it. Like, analogue to the max. Also, I swear to god, Montclair made their choices of what books to get on Playaway by coming into my house and looking on my bookshelf and saying, oh yeah, Emma, we should definitely get THAT, and isn’t Alexander McCall Smith a cozy writer, so we should get one of those, because she has that, too. So basically the few books that were left were a little offbeat. I chose the award winning (what award I do not know)Per Petterson’s “meditative” book called Out Stealing Horses. And I listened to it on a day when I could find neither my wallet nor my cell phone, only had seven bucks, a couple of bus tickets, and a metrocard with about 7 bucks on it. And I had four important appointments, three of them in New York City. Wow, my day is going to SUCK, I think, as I throw two bananas and a diet coke in my backpack for lunch and So, I thought, this is going to be the perfect chance to listen to  a book that’s about some old Norwegian guy who lives alone in the woods.

So I go to my first appointment, an eye doctor, and we haggle for 10 minutes about whether I can just bring my insurance card the next time or make a different appointment because I realllllly have to make the 11:30 bus. But before she can call the insurance company and try to verify whatever (even though I offer to pay in check for now), she has to have a nice long Jersey-style conversation with some other woman about the “venues” they’re trying to book for their wedding. By the way, she’s only trying to book venues where they do one wedding at a time. Finally, she made a long call to the insurance company that I didn’t ask her to do, “I’ll pay with check! Really! Or I’ll bring my card tomorrow!” until 11:20 [she just glared at me when I would hiss ‘really! I can come back!’ and then I said, “I’m going to have to leave now.” And she said “The doctor can do the appointments in 10 minutes.” And I said okay. So fifteen minutes later we both ascertained that my vision is wretched—big news– and I ran out of there and it was my lucky day because I drove home, ran to the bus stop, and one appeared immediately. I started listening to the book. A moody Norwegian guy who lived alone in the woods. It was okay for him to live alone in the woods. He liked being alone. Ever since his wife died, all he wanted to do was eat buttered bread and think moody thoughts. He met his neighbor who lost his dog and it brought him back. Did he know this guy from another life? The guy tells him he wouldn’t kill another dog even though this dog was being a bastard. He killed a dog once before. And it was sad.

Then I’m in New York, pacing up and down on the subway platform. Will I get to Dr. #2 on time? I pace back and forth, trying to up my steps on my pedometer (daily goal 10,000 steps) and watching the beautiful multicolored humanity waiting for the bus. Rack up 1000 anxious steps. Moody Norwegian harkens his mind back in alternate chapters to various adventures of youth. Raking hay back in the olden days. Logging. Milking cows with a fetching milkmaid.

I get to Dr. number 2, whose office overlooks the remains of the World Trade Center. That new building, the Freedom Tower or whatever, is shockingly tall now. It used to be so depressing to look into the pit. Change medications by infinetisimally small degree. Then, to save on Metro card etc, have nice long walk from Chambers street up to 46th street (3.6 miles)

More youthful adventures, alternating with unexciting present day reality of old man, like, how he’s going to find someone to plow his driveway this winter. As I pass a million interesting sights going up Broadway, they all turn into a colorful blur as I listen. On the way, I eat my two bananas and drink my lukewarm diet coke. They are delicious.

 His father would take documents to Sweden during World War II, rowed by a similarly fetching wife of some other guy. Young moody Norwegian also finds her fetching. Is something going to happen?. I finally see one thing I actually remember as I reach Times Square: a guy dressed entirely in an outfit made of candy necklaces, including a necklace and a hulu-like skirt. I am now past 12,000 steps on my pedometer. Yay!

Physical therapy session is draining, physically and emotionally. Go to McDonalds and use up most of my bucks. Listen to return to present day. Old moody Norwegian pats his dog Lila and drinks some endless amount of coffee. Remembers stealing a horse with his friend, though I’m not sure why.

I take the subway from Port Authority to health support group even though I am so tired I could croak. Sit through it feeling sick. Luckily, another woman has a problem and I know the absolute perfect solution for her. Really, if everyone followed my advice, what a beautiful world this would be. Oddly, other woman doesn’t like my brilliant plan, but I am still astonished at my own deep wisdom. For other people. Also, I get that there is one little nugget in my advice to her that I can use for myself (it’s about rearranging your life in very specific ways to make the best use of your talents and minimize stuff you hate when you have limited energy). Take subway back uptown in the dark, dash up several flights of stairs to bus, wait, listen more. Admire the fact that I have now broken 19,000 steps—almost nine miles—oh yeah, you GO girl. It is almost ten o’clock. Beautiful woman has nervous guy she’s rowing across river. He is making too much of a racket. The Nazis finally figure out what’s going on . . . they race for the river . . .  

The bus comes. I sit down with a sigh, lean my head against cool glass. The playaway stops. In its little screen it says something like “nt wrkng.” No shit, Sherlock, I think. I try putting in another battery. It’s been a long time since I used devices with freaking batteries. But no dice. Whatever I do, as I sit next to Mr. How Can I Explain Anything in Urdu On my Cellphone If I don’t Do It At the Top Of My Lungs for the next half hour, I can’t get the $#*@()_)@#$*_ playaway to work.

So, in short, that is my review of Out Stealing Horses. I have not a clue why moody Norwegian guy was stealing horses. I don’t know what he came to understand. I read the back of the Playaway cover and this is what it said:

“67 year old Trond Sander lives a life of seclusion, tucked away in a faraway part of Norway. After a chance encounter with his only neighbor, Trond . .  is flooded with memories of 1948. Only 15, he joined his bet friend Jon in a horse stealing prank. But what Trond didn’t know was that Jon was running from an unspeakable tragedy, and the horse thievery was his unspoken farewell . . . .”  


WHAT? 1948? I don’t remember any freaking 1948. I don’t remember why he stole the freaking horses. I guess I am the perfect person to give this review because I certainly am not going to give the end away. Now this is going to torture me. For a long time I was like, well of course you’re depressed, you’re living by yourself in an icy wasteland, dude. But then, given the fact that I barely noticed the amazing visual enticements of New York for hours and hours of walking, subway-ing, bus riding and the like while I inhabited this moody world, I guess I actually did get involved with the book. AND, I finished the day with 1. More than a dollar left and 2. Walking 9.76 miles and 22,415 steps.

Writing Spark: Do you ever listen to books instead of reading them? Do you think it’s the same thing or different?  

The Weirdest Advice that Ever Worked, Oprah Style

11 Oct

My accidental prize from my last visit to a doctor’s waiting room was my inadvertish purloining of the October 2012 issue of O Magazine. Sometimes I swear I just DO not know what I am doing. But fortunately for me, Oprah is offering up “the 101 best pieces of advice forever.” And do I look like a woman who needs 101 pieces of advice? Why yes I do. My own dear son was curious at how many times I need to learn the bananas and pocketbooks don’t mix rule and I had to tell him that the last time I put a banana in my pocketbook was today. However, this magazine, so rich in color and style, is a wonderland of treasures that I am sure I will find many pieces of advice that will bear repeating in a way I will be very interested in listening to, unlike Mr. H’s many admonitions about what happens when you leave Singletons on the floor. M

It is so rich that I’m actually going to start with one (1) piece of advice that was given to in O magazine’s Contributor’s section to photographer Ruven Afanador, who, to his credit, did manage to find yet another way to make Oprah look stylin’ for another month, despite the fact that she was fully clothed, unlike every other magazine cover lady. Anyway, Ruven Afanador, who appeared quite monkish in his small photo, said the best advice he ever received was going to Milan—BORING! I already saw that stupid movie where that English actress was playing a rich guy’s wife and she has an affair with this workingman because he cooked some orgasmically delicious snails or something, and everyone was so impressed because she was fluent in Italian but then had to do Italian with a Russian accent, and when they finally had their fling there were a lot of shots of buzzing bees around flowers. That movie was set in Milan and that’s all I have to say about it the city of Milan. I hated that movie, by the way.

But in answer to the question of what was the “weirdest advice that actually worked,” he said,

“An Indian shaman told me to travel to the Amazon to photograph ‘a real life Tarzan.’ I went to Colombia and found a man who showed me the jungle and its environs—the experience was deeply enriching.”

1. This is my favorite piece of advice, even though the shaman seems a bit confused about Tarzan’s actual address. However, I found it a bit cryptic. Is this similar to the advice given by the Oracle as she sat over the steaming volcanic vents at Delphi, offering deeply meaningful but mysterious advice? Like the advice she offered in 560 BC to Croesus:

▪                I count the grains of sand on the beach and measure the sea; I understand the speech of the dumb and hear the voiceless. The smell has come to my sense of a hard shelled tortoise boiling and bubbling with a lamb’s flesh in a bronze pot: the cauldron underneath it is of bronze, and bronze is the lid.[6]

▪                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oracular_statements_from_Delphi (Thanks Wikipidia)

Now how about that for advice? Sure beats “Don’t bitch about your friend’s ex after they’ve broken up.” I will have much more to say on that subject in future posts. But honestly, what fun is it NOT to bitch about your friend’s ex?

But,  back to the Shaman. Enriching, Schmenriching. Surely it means something more than that. Perhaps something like., hmm, what does the Amazon mean. Well, it’s a river system. And, it’s a powerful woman. And yet, he’s supposed to go there and take a picture of a powerful man. A powerful, primitive man. Could there be some sort of anima/animus tension there, speaking in a Jungian sense? Why does anyone need to be overly confused by their sexual identity in our common era of LBGTIQ???? We’re all half-man, half-woman these days. Or at least we’re Q (Questioning—something). And so, I think of the river system, running from the mountains to the sea. The mountains must trap the clouds as they sweeps in, and then, at the continental divide of the Andes, slowly stream east or west. Could it be, that in a land of many tributaries, in a land where networks of moving water all have a common goal of getting to the lowest possible elevation, a powerful man stands tall? And that the advice receiver must somehow “capture” him in film. Okay, let me put it through my little advice processor and  . . . wait, I’m getting a reading: . . . It’s coming . . . . It’s “You’re 50 years old, move out of your mother’s basement and get a real job. And when you take her out to the International House of Pancakes, YOU pay.”

Man, I’m good. Only 100 pieces of advice to go!

Writing Spark: So what’s the weirdest advice that YOU ever got that worked.

September Statistics, Part 2

2 Oct

–lesson I failed to learn once again: bananas and pocketbooks don’t mix.

–most distressing thing I can’t find at the moment: 8-CD library book

–Crops that are finally starting to come in: raspberries, sugar snap peas, green beans, purple beans, wax beans, tomatoes (mostly Brandywine), raspberries, baby bok choy, collard greens, pattypan squash, broccoli florets.

–times sister has called me: 12

–percentage of phone calls by sister that started with a song: 100%

–number of miles ridden by the Mr. this month on his bike: 489

–Number ridden Sunday on Pumpkin Patch Pedal: 100.

–Pieces of pumpkin pie eaten by husband at 80 mile mark: 2

–Days on which I consumed more than 5 pieces of fruit: 30

–Weight lost: 0 pounds.

–Nutella consumed: no comment

–Most recent question asked by husband: “Why do they call something with chorizo a side dish?”

–What he’s teaching right now: The Upanishads and Wuthering Heights

–Very happy occasion: My mother’s birthday.

Free prompt! What makes your mother amazing?