“My Mom is funnier than your Mom.”
Marion Campbell, Talentworks Agency, Los Angeles. 

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A FOOL’S ERRAND, ETC.

Are they idioms? Figures of speech? Where did they come from? And yes, one can Google. But I prefer to speculate:

  • Were people just lazy in the old days? Too somnolent to get their stuff done? So they hired people with no sense to run their errands for them? Fools? And if you send a fool to run your errands, you will soon learn it is not a good idea, because instead of bread and milk, any fool will tell you that Coke and Doritos are better.
  • Come on. I have never seen a bum rush anywhere. They have no deadlines, thus no sense of urgency. So how this expression got so popular, I will never know.
  • Have you ever, in your entire life, seen a person with a stick, hitting the ground around a shrub? And if so, does this person never get to the point when telling a story? Are the two things related? How? This is a rhetorical question.
  • I have purchased a few horses in my day. And yes, we looked at their teeth. But if somebody gave me a horse, I would still look at his teeth. Good grief, it’s just common sense, people.
  • I know it is what it is. It is always what it is. Why even say that?
  • Our mustard is spreadable. Everybody’s mustard is spreadable, for God’s sake!
  • Both ends of the stick are probably about the same. And if you get the wrong end, just turn the stick around. It’s not rocket science.
  • Rocket science.
  • Wash the baby. Dry the baby. Drain the bathwater. Geez, it’s not rocket science.
  • I might touch it with a stick. Even the wrong end of a stick. It could be shorter than a ten-foot stick. I would say that if it is dead, I would touch it with a six foot stick. If it smells bad, maybe an eight foot stick. A stick is fine. A pole is just over thinking it.
  • I had no idea that thieves stick together. As a matter of fact, I would think one thief would stay as far away from another one as possible. Because that thief might RAT on you.
  • So if he rats on you, what is that? Does he throw a dead rodent in your direction?

I have to go now. I have a splitting headache.

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NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS

Things were getting way too depressing. Every ten minutes, someone in the government blew a whistle, quit a job, lied, called names, or committed an atrocious act. I checked Twitter and my news feed every ten or twenty minutes, and by God, something else had happened.

So. I took a bold step. I got off Twitter, despite the fact that I had amassed a very large following there. Ok–bragging: over 16,000 followers, I am sure none of whom actually cared one whit what I tweeted. So I deactivated my account.

It took me about a month to stop looking for the Twitter app to click on my phone. Old habits die hard. But I felt better, less anxious. Then I made another huge decision: I stopped watching Judy Woodruff on the PBS Newshour every night. I realized that our Commander in Chief will never change, and the things spewing forth from his lips only get worse. So I stopped listening.

I still check the news feed on my phone once a day, just to make sure that no one has bombed New York, or that we have purchased, Greenland, was it?

I sleep at night now. I think about what to make for dinner instead of who got shot in what city the night before. I am beginning to work on my next book again. I have decided that this is a blip. We will vote. Americans will come to their senses.

My head isn’t completely buried in sand. I can still hear the birds. But no tweets, thank you.

 

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NOT YET

How old do you have to be to say “the hell with it,” and just go to the grocery store without makeup? Despite the fact that without makeup, you look pasty faced and your eye bags command attention?

What about wardrobe? When can you run an errand in a shirt with a grease spot from last night’s spaghetti, and face the world unashamed?

Spanx. When are you just too old to worry about that pooch? Let it all hang out?

Speaking of Spanx, at what point in your life do you forget that there is even such a thing as a carb? Instead, you merrily order dessert, have donuts for breakfast, and just move up another clothing size?

Do people turn 60 and throw caution to the winds? Pass gas at will? Or is it 70? Do most seventy year olds give a damn about their appearance, their reputation, or how many days can go by without washing their hair?

I keep waiting for that magical moment. The day I wake up and take one look at my tube of concealer and throw it directly into the trash. The day I decide that white teeth aren’t  worth sitting with those vile-tasting strips on,  waiting for the kitchen timer to go off. The day I once and for all decide that no matter what, I will never even consider an underwire.

That day has not arrived.  I just ordered a jar of slug slime. It is supposed to do wonders for wrinkles.

 

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OLD AND NEW

On the left is the old. On the right is the new. City versus suburb. Historic house versus brand new apartment.

I was ready to move. I have harbored an urban fantasy for years.

Here is what I will miss forever:

  • History. The thought that lives were lived in a home that was filled with happiness and drama. The old “if walls had ears” phenomenon. I loved the butler’s pantry, for example. Who was the butler? Was there ever one? And there is a hole in the floor in the dining room where there once was a bell to summon the maid. There is also what looks like a doorbell mounted on the wall beside the fireplace. Also for summoning a servant.Wow. How Downton that was!
  • Crystal, egg shaped doorknobs on every door. Absolutely beautiful and hard to take for granted.
  • A sleeping porch. We never slept there, but it is so private, I spent many an evening up there in my pjs.
  • Huge rooms. High ceilings. Crown molding.
  • A fanlight over the front door. Sigh.
  • Sitting in front of the fire in the winter, writing a book. Cozy. Hygge.
  • A dining room with a table for 8-10 people. Sure, we used it only on holidays, but it was gracious.
  • Center hall that was wide enough for a wedding. Again, it manifested itself only in one of my novels, but it could happen. A bride may yet walk down that staircase to a waiting crowd below.
  • The neighborhood. The neighbors.

Here is what is new and exciting:

  • Views of the city. Lights at night. Sunsets right outside the living room windows.
  • Speaking of windows: light. Light everywhere from the huge windows in every room. Vistas for miles.
  • I have a kitchen island. I never knew why everyone got so excited about them. Now I do.
  • Walk in closet of my own, with room for more clothes than I will ever have.
  • And right off that closet, the laundry room. No more carrying laundry baskets down two and a half flights of stairs into the basement.
  • A wrap around balcony. Just enough for lots of flowers in the summer.
  • A view of the Dayton Dragons baseball field. I am not a baseball fan, but it will be fun watching the games from above. Maybe.
  • Fireworks. Sitting out on the balcony with a bird’s eye view. Can’t wait.
  • All the new furniture I got to buy. A once in a lifetime experience.

It has been more of an emotional wrench than I expected, but the pluses far outweigh the minuses. And it certainly helps that we are passing on the house to the right family who will love and respect it as we did.

If there is a wedding in that house, and if we are still alive, I hope we are invited.

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THE TENTH DOCTOR

How did they come up with nine out of ten doctors? Who is that tenth doctor, anyway? The one who never endorses anything?

This tenth doctor is old-school. He or she recommends taking the two aspirin and not calling in the morning. This doc is conservative, favoring the “wait and see what happens in a month” theory. Most symptoms go away, after you  stop taking your temperature hourly, watching Dr. Oz, and asking Gwyneth Paltrow for advice about what body parts to steam. This doc believes in warm salt water for almost everything.

The tenth doctor saw kale coming and suggested that it makes a better garnish than a side dish–remember spinach? It has lots of iron, tastes great with hot bacon dressing, and you can eat it either raw or wilted without gagging.

I have been to the tenth doctor. This MD told me that humans living during the Paleolithic era would certainly have loved cupcakes and french fries if they had been invented, but the folks back then were too busy inventing wheels and fire. So the fact that we current humanoids crave McDonalds is understandable. This doctor actually admitted that the day I had my physical, she had Skyline four ways for lunch.

I love the tenth doctor. This person never jumps on trends. Intermittent fasting just frustrates you and then you order a hot fudge ball at the first opportunity. Hot yoga. Regular yoga has been loosening people up for generations–why heat it up, for God’s sake? This doctor has a sign-up sheet for Girl Scout Cookies in her waiting room. As a matter of fact, this doc has participated in both a marathon and a pie-eating contest.

I asked the tenth doctor about Crossfit, and she rolled her eyes. She told me to take walks, and not to worry about juggling two heavy ropes simultaneously. She said the original food groups are just fine, but that even she wishes cheese would cure cancer.

Those other nine doctors are spending way too much time endorsing getting a Peloton for your spouse for Christmas. We all know how THAT went down.

 

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

If you are on social media at all, or even if you aren’t, I am sure you have heard or even taken part in discussions of labels. Who can legitimately claim a label? For instance, can you call yourself a “writer” if you have never been published? I struggled with that one. I blogged for years, and I never once called myself a writer. Even now, after four books, I have a hard time using that label. It feels fraudulent, somehow. Having never been on a bestseller list, and certainly not a household name, calling my self a writer seems self-congratulatory.

Artist? Who, me? The person who creates all of her drawings with her finger on an iPhone? Phooey. And yet, a friend just the other day asked me where she might buy one of my drawings, because she likes collecting the work of local artists. Well, then.

Many people say this: “If you write, you are a writer. If you draw, you are an artist.” This is so simplistic it borders on the ridiculous. Using this guideline, we are all musicians, poets, writers, philosophers, and everything in between.

On the other hand, if we limit our inclusion into these occupations only those who are brilliant at them, we demean all of us out there who derive great pleasure from engaging in them. Should there be some sort of continuum, then? From amateur, on to amateur-with-some-talent, amateur-but-almost-as-good-as-a-pro, semi-professional, to the actual real thing?

I don’t have the answer. But I have four published books, all available on Amazon. So that gives me some confidence when I say I am a writer. You can buy my art at two different web shops, http://www.society6.com/mollydcampbell and http://www.cafepress.com/notexactlypicasso . So I guess that means I am also an artist? Is there such a thing as a “finger artist?”

I know one thing for certain.  I cook. BIG HOWEVER: I am NOT a chef.

 

 

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UPDATE

The holidays passed so fast! We had our two grandchildren here for four days. As you can see in the photo above, Birdie preferred serving her own cereal. I am still finding stray Froot Loops around the baseboards.

The apartment has, as you know, a great view. But my grandkids discovered another great perk, no pun intended: WE HAVE A STARBUCKS COFFEE MACHINE in the party room! Free coffee, lattes, espresso, cappuccino, and many other choices, including hot chocolate, which little Charlie and Birdie wanted every morning. And now that they are gone, I put a sweatshirt over my pjs every morning, shuffle in my slippers down to the elevators, and take the short ride to the second floor, where I fill my coffee mug with STARBUCKS. Unbelievably cool!

Birdie also decided to hit the emergency button beside the elevator one evening. This resulted in two hook and ladder trucks arriving at the building, along with eight firefighters. They were all very understanding, and the Bird enjoyed exchanging high fives with them before they departed.

I have my bird feeder installed, and I am getting lots of city sparrows and starlings. I am hoping for some sort of unusual bird sightings, but I am satisfied with the ones I have. I have instructed them to stop pooping on the deck.

Now that the holidays are over and we have a contract on our house, I can start focusing on my next book. Wish me luck with that. I wrote the first six chapters in the New York Public Library. That was when I went there for two weeks to write, broke two toes in my Airbnb apartment, and had to come home five days early. My toes are better now, and I hope I don’t do any more self damage while finishing the book.

This is the living room. There might be a Froot Loop in the corner…

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A LIST

I haven’t shared any book lists with you recently. I have read a lot of good ones this year. Here are my favorites.

  • The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall. A novel about two ministers, their wives,  their friendship, and what it means to “believe.” Wall is a tremendously gifted writer and brilliant thinker.
  • Akin, by Emma Donoghue. A beautiful story about an old man and a young boy.
  • The Confession Club, by Elizabeth Berg. Women. It’s about women. And it is a joy.
  • Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane. How much can a family forgive?
  • Mrs. Everything, by Jennifer Weiner. Jo and Bethie. Sound familiar? Two sisters who lead very different lives. I loved it.
  • The Adults, by Caroline Hulse. Exes. They decide to all have Christmas together. It is a mess. But then, there are Scarlet and Posey.
  • The Gifted School, by Bruce Holsinger. What happens when a town decides to open a school for “gifted” children? Wow.
  • The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine. Just read it.
  • Autopsy of a Boring Wife, by Marie-Renee Lavoie. This one is translated from the French but loses nothing in the translation.
  • Stay, by Catherine Ryan-Hyde. One of my great thrills in life is to call Ryan-Hyde my friend. All of her books are absolutely soul-grabbing. This one is no different.
  • The World Came to Us, by Molly D. Campbell. I wrote it.

Happy New Year!

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HAPPY, MERRY, AND EVERYTHING ELSE

This will be the first Christmas in our new apartment. It will be our first Christmas by ourselves as well. Our children from California are coming after Christmas, and so we are celebrating then.

A passage. This has been one of life’s doorways, and we walked through it. I didn’t anticipate the emotional salad that would accompany it. Deciding what to leave and what to take was hard. But I didn’t foresee the punch that the estate sale brought. I knew enough not to attend it personally, but I didn’t predict the constant sadness I felt when I thought about what I left behind, nor did I realize that I would label everything I brought with us as “rescued from the estate sale.” So far, I have not been able to go back into my old house. It is completely empty now. We took it off the market for a month.  Right after Christmas, it will be totally restaged and will go back on the market in January. It will look like somebody else’s house. I will be able to walk into it again, then. I sure hope it sells quickly, though, so that I won’t have to go back  into it more than once.

The technician installing our new television looked at both of us and asked, “So–this is going to be your final place?” Gosh. That hit me in the solar plexus. Yes, it will be, I hope. I won’t want to leave for another, less independent address. When the years ahead are so much shorter than the years behind, reality “bites.”

The happy part, aside from all of this philosophical fact-facing? This apartment is wonderful. I have always had a yen to live in a city, with all the tall buildings, the lights at night, the subtle hooting and swishing of traffic. I love living up high. Our building is full of young and diverse people, and everyone is so friendly. There is a Labradoodle on our floor. We can take the elevator down to the lobby and eat in the Mexican restaurant in our building. I am getting so much exercise walking to and from the elevator, and so far, I can go up the four flights of fire stairs twice for exercise every day. My goal is to do it three or four times. My legs are getting strong!

We put a little tree on our new deck, and you can see the lights on it from blocks away. When we drive around town at night, we both get a thrill from looking at our place, the twinkly lights, the lamps in the windows–from a distance, like spectators. So far, it hasn’t gotten old. We are trying to decide what we want to cook in our new, gourmet kitchen, for Christmas Eve dinner. On the grocery list is Champagne.

So here is to the holidays, the future, and all the years ahead. I wish you all happiness and joy. You deserve it.

 

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