“Molly Campbell's witty, intelligent, and heartfelt musings have made me fall in love with the accordion all over again.”
Josh Brener, Actor, soon to be seen in the new TBS Series “Glory Daze,” as Zach Miller. 

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ZEN THINGS

Do one thing at a time. Like don’t try to drink coffee at the same time that you are brushing your teeth.

Do things slowly and deliberately. This is very Zen. It is also ridiculous, because everybody knows that loading the dishwasher slowly and deliberately just encourages the dog to dive right in there and start licking things. And some dogs are just too stupid to avoid the steak knives.

Do it completely. Oh, like don’t stop putting on deodorant after just one armpit.

Do less. Now this is something I can wrap my Zen head around. While lying in bed.

Put space between things. I am not really sure what this means. Should I make my husband sleep in the guest room? Or do I just take a long break between vacuuming and taking out the trash?

Develop rituals. Excellent! I have started to lift my sandwich up in the air and chant “only use Poupon,” “only use Poupon,” before I place it on the table in front of the TV and nod three times before booting up Househunters International.

Designate time for certain things. I am so Zen. I take my nap at three o’clock every afternoon.  And I reserve Sunday nights for exfoliating.

Smile and serve others. Most baristas are very Zen. In my case, I do find it hard to grin when I am serving up mac and cheese.

Make cleaning and cooking become meditation. Wait a minute. Who is this guru? A man? What about mowing the lawn? Using that nostril hair trimmer? Let’s have some equal opportunity meditation, here.

Think about what is necessary. It is necessary that I get a pedicure once a month. And very necessary that nobody (you know who you are) gives me the stinkeye for having popcorn in bed at midnight.

Live simply. Wait. If anybody expects me to turn off the air conditioner and live “off the grid” and make my own pasta? Not gonna happen.

Zen is highly overrated. I am just sayin’.

 

 

 

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HELL AND HANDBASKETS

Good grief. This has been a terrible month. I am not even going to mention all of the tragic world events, because all of us have been brooding about them, losing sleep over them, and trying to understand what has become of us.

But I am here to console us in an odd way. We have been horrible since time began. Humans have been removing one another’s heads for centuries. Burning each other on stakes, and my God, did you watch Braveheart? Here is the subtle difference: back in the day, when a witch was burned at the stake in New England, people in Australia had no idea it happened. So they could just worry about their own problems, and assume that the only horrible people in the world were their own neighbors and persecutors.

Lots of my social media acquaintances have decided that they want to go back to that time when nobody knew every single little fact about every person on earth via Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. So they are going “off” social media. They are going to protect themselves by holing up at home, eliminating social media at all costs, cancelling their newspaper subscriptions (there are still newspapers?), and staying safe and secure by bingewatching Breaking Bad and Dexter, because fictional horribleness is entertaining.

Around here, we are more realistic. We like to see all the ice bucket challenges—they bolster our faith in humanity, plus we get to see just what celebrity backyards look like. And funny pet videos go a long way to cheer us up. Just this morning I saw a cockatiel dishing out dog biscuits to a Labrador.

Hiding your head in a hole doesn’t really help. There is so much out there that is still good, productive, and uplifting. We just have to pick and choose what we “like” on Facebook. I am doing that. I have unfollowed the gloomy people. And when I get discouraged about the world, I think about Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Jonas Salk, James Baldwin, Temple Grandin, Martin Luther King, and Bob Hope. I am starting a list of people who cast a light into the world. Then when things get oppressive, I add another name to the list.

Today, it was this one: taken from http://www.manythings.org/voa/people/Medical_Researchers.html

Matthew Lukwiya was the medical administrator of Saint Mary’s Hospital in the Gulu District of northern Uganda.  In 2000, the hospital was the center of treatment for an outbreak of Ebola.  The virus causes severe bleeding.  No cure is known.  Doctors can only hope that victims are strong enough to survive.

Dr. Lukwiya acted quickly to control the spread of infection.  He kept the people with Ebola separate from the other patients.  He ordered hospital workers to wear protective clothing and follow other safety measures.

One day he had to deal with a patient who was dying of Ebola.  The man had been acting out of control.  The doctor knew him well.  The patient was a nurse who worked at the hospital.  The man was coughing and bleeding.  Dr. Lukwiya violated one of his own rules.  He wore no protection over his eyes.

Matthew Lukwiya died from the virus in December of 2000.  He was 42 years old.  Ugandans mourned his death.  He was an important influence in the community.  Experts say his work during the outbreak helped stop the Ebola virus from spreading out of control.

See? It is inspiring, isn’t it? Go ahead. Start your own list.

 

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THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS

I have recurring dreams. They are very strange. I guess some of them are common. I have looked some of them up on “dream analysis” web sites. What I have learned about myself isn’t pretty. But some of my readers might share these dream topics, and so I thought I would share my dreams and their meanings, in case you want to know yourself better.

Something terrible has happened, and you need to make an urgent phone call, but you keep getting the numbers wrong, and you have to start over:  You need reading glasses. Also, you might have control issues. You are probably bossy and need to be taken down a peg.

You are in high school, and you forgot your textbook. But you can’t remember your locker combination.  You have control issues. You are probably way too concerned with keeping all your ducks in a row. It is upsetting to you when something escapes your notice—like that dust on top of the ceiling fan that your son-in-law pointed out yesterday. You feel worried about how people perceive you.

You look down at your chest in a business meeting and realize that you are not wearing a blouse—or a bra. Just your boobs.  You have control issues. You worry about how others perceive you. The fact that your daughter pointed out that you have some stray chin hairs yesterday has made you anxious.

Somebody is chasing you, but you can’t run for some reason.  You saw that burglar alarm commercial one too many times. Plus, you have control issues.

You look in your living room, and there is a bear sitting on your sofa.  Your husband has control issues. He remarked this morning that five cats is too many, and that you are absolutely crazy to want that dachshund puppy on Craigslist.

You are in front of a huge audience, standing behind a podium. They applaud wildly, and then look at you expectantly. You have absolutely nothing to say. You are worried that you are getting old and passe. Your kids don’t seem to listen to you when you give them advice. Your husband interrupts your conversation to insert one of his own remarks.

Good God, you have CONTROL ISSUES.

 

 

 

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LIFE HACKS

Remember Dear Abby? She was incredibly wise and down to earth. People with all kinds of problems wrote her letters (actual letters; this was way before technology), and they described all sorts of icky problems. They had awful mothers-in-law. Their spouses were unfaithful. Their children used swear words. I bet back then, having a seven year old say “damn it” was shocking. Of course, now, the entire second grade at Everytown Elementary slings around the F-bomb at recess. But I digress. What do people do these days when they have problems? They Google them. And who has the answers? Bloggers who post all sorts of clever solutions to everyday problems. And they call them “life hacks.”

Now, first off—these life hackers address problems like how to squeeze lemon juice without getting seeds in your salad. They tell you how to use common household items like vinegar and baking soda to eliminate scratches in your furniture and crow’s feet around your eyes. They don’t tell you what to do if you discover that your cousin Ella is having sex with your husband. I guess because no amount of baking soda will solve that one. When you have a fidelity problem, you have to just wish for the good old days when Abby would help you. Oh, I guess Dr. Phil is the go-to guy for things like this now. But how many people can afford to get tickets to his show and fly out to Los Angeles?

I like to read the life hacker blogs. I have tried a few of their suggestions myself. And I have to say that some of their hacks are useless. That olive oil and vinegar solution did not restore the finish on my dining room table. And it still looks oily.

But some of the hacks (I wonder how these helpful people came to call themselves hackers, anyway) are logical. I particularly like the one that says you should peel bananas from the opposite end. That was genius.

But how on earth do these people come up with their hacks? I asked my husband. He is an “outside the box” thinker. He said, “Well, if I wanted to be a life hacker, I would get some rubber bands, a sieve, some talcum powder, a paper clip, a bar of soap, and a bottle of vinegar, and I would go down to the basement and play around.” Of course, that is what he does anyway, but I didn’t say anything.

I pictured this. Joe Flinker, life hacker, is tinkering around with some sea salt and his wife’s perfume (she naturally doesn’t know Joe took her flagon of Chanel) in the laundry room. He accidentally spills some of the mixture on his hand. He rubs it off, along with the top layer of skin. After he finishes cursing and rinsing his hand in the washing machine rinse cycle, he notices that after the redness dies down, his hand looks smooth, young, and smells great. Eureka! Exfoliation is born! Now Joe and Zoe Flinker are wealthy. Because their YouTube video got a billion hits, they won Shark Tank, and now get millions in royalties. Zoe drives a Beemer and wears Michael Kors sunglasses. She has few wrinkles. And Joe spends even more time in the basement now—with stuff like essential oil of orange, cotton balls, witch hazel, and borax.

So if you have a household trick that your Aunt Mabel gave you for getting sweat odor out of leotards? Do you have a feeling that nut shells are under- utilized? Have you ever wondered why more people don’t wash their hair with baking soda? Do you save rubber bands? Well.  You may be a life hacker and you just don’t know it. Get down into the basement, pronto! And tell your wife to start shopping for a new car, for heaven’s sake. But if you wonder whether your meter man is seducing your wife? Life hack, no. But there may be an app for that…

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TINY HOUSES

Have you seen the web sites and television shows about the “tiny house” movement? Fascinating. Here is what people are doing: they are getting rid of just about every single thing they own except for three outfits, two pairs of shoes, four pots with lids, a toothbrush, and their favorite pillow. The rest of their stuff they are tossing or donating or giving to their friends. Then they are going off to live in a teeny, tiny house that they can attach to the back of their SUV.

I am not lying. These houses are just the cutest things. They are about 200 square feet of efficiency. They have tiny, little stoves, tiny little heaters, two drawers, one chair, a table that folds into the wall, and a sleeping loft.

The ones I have seen are really cute. What they lack in space, they make up for in innovative and artistic stuff like onions hanging from the ceiling, bookshelves for three books, knotty pine paneling, and hand thrown pottery. Well, one piece of hand thrown pottery.

The concept is simple: you don’t really need a house. You should live outside your house, after you park it somewhere. Then, after you empty the toilet tank (you should really pay more for one of those composting toilets—much easier) and set up your solar panels for energy (park somewhere sunny, you fool!), you can run through the woods and frolic. Or if you plan to stay awhile, grow your own veggies. If it is cold or rainy, then I guess you have to stay inside the tiny but cute little house and read one of the three books.

According to Joe Blow, who was happily married at the time of his interview, “We have learned to really respect each other’s space (There is actually enough space for each of you?). We have learned to put our things (you mean thing?) away after use. We actually like being cozy and mobile.

Well, I have never equated being cozy with being mobile, but here is the thing: I think Joe and his wife probably spent their honeymoon in that tiny house. He and his wife Martha had an idyllic time in the loft, and romping in the woods, yes. And on that one rainy day, they read a book, ok.

But my theory is this: Martha wanted to get a good night’s sleep, but Joe’s snoring resounded against the knotty pine. There was about a quart of water in the tiny, little tank, so Martha had to take sponge baths, even though there was a “shower” in the house, but it required standing on top of the composting toilet, holding a wand resembling a hairbrush. Joe sneezed and the front window broke. Martha got tired of hiking.

So Joe and Martha put their tiny house up for sale on Ebay for three thousand dollars. A hermit bought it. Apparently, all the hermits just adore them.

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