A FRIEND, INDEED

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS REFERENCES TO MARIJUANA, WHICH IS LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA, WHERE THIS POST TAKES PLACE. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO THINK THAT I AM NOW A DEGENERATE, DESPERATE WOMAN, DO NOT READ THIS POST.

If you know me at all, you know that I don’t sleep well. This is only a good thing when I am writing a book, which I am not doing at the moment.

Incidentally, my next novel, The World Came to Us, releases October 22, 2019. I am thrilled. Cover reveal next week!

I take Lunesta, which helps some. But every single night, I watch my husband put his head on the pillow and instantly fall asleep. I continue watching him and resenting him for at least an hour, fuming in the darkness at his immobile shadow beside me, listening to his steady breathing and occasional snore.

I have tried all the remedies. Meditation. Those podcasts that promise to drone you to sleep. Benadryl (that works until it doesn’t). Melatonin, which made me feel weird. On and on.

So as I prepared to go visit my grandkids in LA, it occurred to me: marijuana. It’s legal there. According to my daughter, there is a dispensary on every street corner–right next to the Starbucks. She also told me that the people who go into these places are not strung-out weirdos, but regular people just like me. She says people take their dogs in with them, for heaven’s sakes.

So I Googled, and there it was: “CBD oil infused with THC (the actual part of marijuana that gets you “high”) can calm you down and help you sleep. And the marijuana component is very low, so you don’t “tune in, turn on, and drop out.” You just get mellow a little bit and fall asleep.

I was convinced. I wanted to try it.

However, I couldn’t tell my daughter (the one who actually lives in LA–she would not be comfortable with a toker for a mother (I did not plan to smoke, though)). The recommending daughter lives in Dayton and is more tolerant.

So. On the day, I asked my LA friend, (we’ll just call her Lisa, because that is her name) to take me to a “good” dispensary. Side bar: Lisa is a 20-year sober alcoholic and drug user. The logic of asking this woman to determine a quality dispensary must have escaped me at the time.

Lisa Googled. We were on our way.

Marijuana dispensaries look like dental waiting rooms. Only they are decorated with fairy lights, massive sculptures of trees, and they have astroturf carpeting. But they also have that little window with the sliding glass door with a receptionist behind it. Note: my dental receptionist has frosted hair and wears glasses on a chain around her neck. This receptionist had jet-black hair, kohl around her eyes, a pierced eyebrow, and blood red lipstick.

The receptionist asked my friend and me if we had been there before. I politely replied, “Just LOOK at me.” She smiled. “I take that as a no.”

Things began going south when she asked me for my ID. “In order to go back into the actual dispensary, we need a picture ID. Or a passport.”

I had brought with me in my tiny purse five Kleenexes, a tube of lip balm, and a Visa card.

“I am sorry, then. You must have an ID to purchase.” My heart sank. This was my only chance to try CBD oil laced with THC. My only chance. If I didn’t get something that day, I would have to return to Ohio wide awake.

I had a brilliant idea! I didn’t even turn to Lisa for confirmation! I just said to the by-now completely exasperated receptionist, “What if Lisa has ID? Can she go back and buy it for me?”

Lisa, being the true-blue, “She’s not heavy, she’s my dear friend” woman that she is, didn’t even blink. Despite the fact, that as I mentioned above, SHE HAS BEEN CLEAN AND SOBER FOR TWENTY YEARS. Lisa said, brightly, “Yes, I have my ID and a charge card. I will go back and *caps are for emphasis* BUY DRUGS FOR MOLLY.

They sent out a consultant to talk with me about my issues. By the way, this woman, who admitted that she is an expert on pot and takes it every day, looked like a young, nerdy librarian. She had bifocals, a low pony tail, crooked teeth, and a very sincere gaze.

The consultant told me that she would advise a particular drop (I got a bit hysterical when she asked me if I wanted to smoke anything) that I would squirt under my tongue at bedtime.

Did I mention that every time the door opened to the dispensary in “the back,” it was operated by a man in a uniform wearing at his hip a huge GUN? Yes. A GUN.

I waited patiently  in the waiting room, counting the butterflies painted on the wall, watching the other customers, all brandishing their IDs, come in. My Ohio daughter was right. They looked regular. Like the sort one might encounter at CVS. A lady with white hair, black leggings and a silver Eddie Bauer vest. A man with bifocals who parked his scooter outside. A young couple who looked straight out of HGTV; they had probably been looking at houses with granite countertops and an “open concept” just a few hours before. I felt inconspicuous, thank you.

As I waited, I did muse on the following:

  • How did I manage to forget that my Ohio daughter stressed the importance of having an ID with me?
  • How on earth could I be so presumptuous as to think that a recovered alcoholic would be fine with buying drugs?
  • Lisa is the most stellar friend ever
  • I came all this way to buy drugs, and I didn’t even get to go IN
  • I am an idiot

It was a success. The man with the gun let Lisa out, and she handed me the bag of “product.” As we left, more customers entered: a man who looked like a retired CPA, a woman carrying a laptop and a coffee, her blonde hair caught up in a chopstick, and a person who was probably the romantic lead in some network show that I have never watched.

The drops work. Sort of. They make me feel a little weird, they taste like gasoline, they make me cough, and I have strange, threatening dreams. Yes, I sleep, but it isn’t the blissful dreamland that I had hoped for.

Lisa, if you are reading this, you are off the hook. No more drops for me. However, I have always wondered about what it’s like to go to a strip club. Next time?

 

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PACKING

Grandmas in the olden days had to pack steamer trunks or covered wagons in order to go visit their grandchildren. I don’t envy them the journeys, because seasickness, rutted roads, attacks from indigenous Americans trying to save themselves from extinction–no fun. But those grandmas from the days of yore could pack everything. They did not have to fit all the possible things into a carry-on, for God’s sake.

I go back and forth to Los Angeles multiple times a year, so that my beloved grandchildren won’t forget who I am. This makes me so happy, despite airline seats getting smaller, having to pay a fortune for those dried-out turkey sandwiches on the plane, fighting over the armrests, and dashing between terminals to make connections. I can deal with those things.

Packing is another matter. I begin to worry about what to take about a month out. What will the weather be? Will I need a coat? I got a “packable” coat for Christmas, thank heaven. However, it is extremely warm. Should I take it? I might get too hot. I don’t have a nice sweatshirt. Should I get a fashionable one? What about shoes? My goal is to buy one pair of shoes that I can wear with 1) leggings, 2) jeans, and 3) a long skirt if dressing up is required. Note: shoes like this don’t really exist, except for the ones in the Neiman Marcus catalog that cost $300.

Pajamas. The ones I wear at home look like men’s. That is because they are men’s. Do I want to look a bit less louche in LA? Yes. Yes, I do. But feminine pjs, the ones I like from the Garnet Hill catalog, are $120. So louche it is.

Pills. You have to take those on board with you, in case they lose your luggage. You don’t want to die, right? So I have two of those weekly pill things with all of the little compartments. My purse sounds like I am carrying maracas on board. But at least all I need are pills, not a support animal.

If I want to listen to a podcast while flying, I will need new earbuds. The good ones cost around $40. Forget that. Book. I will take a book.

Jeans or leggings? Both? How many pairs? I have three new shirts. Take them all? I want to, so that my kids will think I am fashionable. Wait. It’s a carry-on. My daughter has a washing machine. Take two leggings and one jeans. Two shirts, one tee.

Who am I kidding? Chicos had a sale. So I am jamming in two pairs of jeans, two leggings, three shirts, the louche pjs, an extra pair of shoes, four presents for the children, underwear, a workout outfit (that I will never use, but just in case someone opens my suitcase; I want to seem healthy), a sweater, the packable coat, and my makeup.

I am all packed. My carry-on weighs forty pounds.

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THE MULTI PURPOSE CAT

Dogs. What’s not to like? They are so portable. You can get yours certified as an “emotional support animal” and take him with you on the plane and out to lunch. I love dogs. I have had two of them in my life, both of whom I mourned terribly when they were gone. I currently have a grand pup, whom I also adore.

This is not about them. I have been a cat person my entire life. I have had so many of them that I have lost count. I could not envision my life without at least one cat right there with me.

For those of you who slavishly adore your dogs, let me explain to you how silly you are. Dogs are fine. Cats are the fineEST.

Cat fur, if you are not allergic to it, is the softest, most luxurious wonderful stuff. It isn’t surprising that so many varieties of cats have been driven to near extinction by women wanting to have coats made out of their pelts. Fur next to the face equals sublime relaxation, happiness, and the release of all of the happiness brain hormones with the long names I can’t spell.

Cat purr does the same thing.

Reading, knitting, watching television, napping–all those things are enhanced by having a cat on your lap or stretched out beside you. Read a paragraph, knit a row, or fast forward through a commercial while idly stroking your kitty. Snore right into his tummy. He won’t mind.

If you happen to drop your cat while toting him upstairs, he will land on his feet. A dog won’t do this, and you might have to rush him to the vet while apologizing for letting him fall from your arms. Granted, most dogs will forgive you, but still. Your cat won’t need to consider forgiveness.

Your dog will interrupt your lunch or dinner, whining and begging for tidbits. A cat would never do this. Cats, if interested, will jump on the counter while you are making lunch or dinner and simply have a taste.

Cats are excellent at keeping your home free of mice. Your dog will watch the mouse run along the baseboard and look over at you as if to say, “What in the hell was that?”

Cats converse with you. Siamese cats are especially adept at this. I have had many long and  fascinating convos with my cats, whereas I have never once asked a dog a question that he was able to answer.

Cats don’t feel the need to slobber on anyone.

Dogs are not interested in sitting next to you as you count how many Cardinals are flitting around your bird feeder. My cats, however, are keeping a list of the number of species they have observed out there on the suet cakes, and if I am not available to bird watch, they do it by themselves. Dogs don’t have hobbies.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

 

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THE CURATED LIFE

 

Everywhere I go, people are taking pictures of themselves. At the theatre, sitting in their seats, holding up their Hamilton programs and smiling. “Envy us, you wretches.” They take snaps of themselves having wine and cheese at trendy little out-of-the-way spots. My God, the other day, a woman held up an avocado and took a selfie with it at the grocery.

We seem compelled to do this. There are people on Instagram who post daily shots of themselves: working out, or smiling in the bathroom. Lots of people I follow on Instagram take pictures of their own feet. Yes, they are wearing interesting socks, and they are propped up on ottomans, but I don’t get it. Then there are the ones who think the world needs to know what their lunch looks like.

I have to admit, I love Instagram (follow me @mollydcampbell). I post a whole bunch of photos of my cats there, along with my drawings. I have posted pictures of things in my house as well.

So I have to ask myself: Who really wants to see what my cat, no matter how cute he looks, is doing? Is anybody interested in the picture of my great grandmother’s teacup that I posted? Why did I post it, anyway?

Here is why I think many of us hang around, curating our lives on social media. First of all, everybody else is doing it. It has become the norm to share huge chunks of our lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all those other hot places on the web I don’t even know about. Some people who do it are “influencers.” These are famous people. Some of them are celebs, but many of them are just individuals who are so creative, so clever, so infatuated with themselves, and so relentless in their pursuit of “likes” that they amass huge numbers of followers who hang on their every post. Influencers then can get paid for posting a selfie of themselves holding, for instance, a Diet Coke.

Do we all yearn to have influence? Do we feel that selfies that show us having so much fun, looking gorgeous, or eating delicious food make us seem fulfilled? Or do they just make other people think we are living a sparkling life? I don’t know the answer. But I do know that I am no different than a lot of people who post daily updates on their dogs, the amount of carbs they had at lunch, and their socks.

Mea culpa.

But notice the difference here. NO SOCKS.

 

 

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TO ALL MY READERS

I have been writing this blog for at least ten years. There are people who read my blog. I have no idea how many of you there are out there. Some writers/authors/bloggers do so to “build their platform.” A platform is defined as one’s “footprint” on the internet. You know–the amount of people who know who you are as a writer, the number of folks who, if someone mentions your name, say “Oh yes! Molly Campbell! She is a writer, isn’t she? I have read her books! I follow her on Twitter! I read her blog!”

In order to know how many people out there in the world would say that about me, there are tools. Tools writers use to track their impact.  Google Analytics is one of them. If you go on it, Google will tell you exactly how many people read your blog. How many read it today. Or how many did so last year. I have no intention of finding that out.

There are two possible scenarios here. The first one is that I might discover that millions of people read my blog! Of course, my next question would be “Why haven’t you all bought my books?” The answer to that is obvious: millions of people do not read my blog or buy my books.

Second scenario, much more likely: I have, on the conservative side, maybe two dozen readers. This isn’t encouraging. However, I am forever indebted to the twenty-four or so of you who have stuck by my side all these years. You are the best people. Heck, it is even possible that I have more than twenty-four readers, and this is what I like to believe. I like to think that there are hundreds of you out there, scattered all over the United States, and maybe even one or two of you in Australia or Finland, who log on each week to hear about what is on my mind. I like to imagine that my name might come up, maybe,  in a Starbucks in Des Moines or a cafe in Helsinki.

I daydream that a woman in Paris might just pull up the collar of her cape and bend into the winter wind, in order to hurry home to her appartement to log on to my web site. Or I picture a harried housewife in Paducah, sick of unloading the dishwasher, who can’t wait for my next post. This could actually be true! Do I really want to check my analytics to find out? Of course not.

So to all of you out there, cheers! Thank you for your loyalty. I will keep on writing, as long as you continue reading. The fact that I have no idea how many or few of you there are is what keeps me going. Ignorance. Bliss.

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FAKE NEWS

It is nearly noon in Dayton. The grocery stores yesterday were an absolute zoo. Sidebar: why every person in a snow zone thinks that the answer to having drifts ten feet high and not being able to get out of the house requires bread, milk, and eggs is a phenomenon that I am not able to explain, because that is exactly what I got at the store myself.

Last night was so exiting! I lined up all the candles in the cupboard on one shelf, for easy access. I put a box of matches beside them. I practiced turning on my gas stove with one of the matches, knowing that the pilot light would be out along with all of the rest of the power. I made muffins, since the toaster wouldn’t work. All the laundry got done and folded. Because who knows how long we would be shut in? Clean clothes make you feel better as you peer out of your windows at the frozen tundra outside.

We awoke with such excitement, ran to the windows, and immediately began to shriek with disbelief. Rain. Nothing but rain.

I have checked my weather app every five minutes, and although they are still promising five to seven inches of snow later (down from the six to nine they predicted), I no longer have any faith in them. Because it is raining, damn it!

The prospect of a huge winter storm is the only type of adventure that I want. I don’t want to run a marathon. I couldn’t climb a mountain if my life depended on it. Hiking? Forget about it. But going outside and letting the driving snow fall directly on my face? Thrilling. Putting on boots and trudging out to fill the bird feeders with special seed with high fat content so the birds will survive the onslaught? This makes me feel like Amundsen. Reading my Kindle by candlelight? Just like the Brontes, except for the moors we don’t have.

I am deflated, disappointed, just a little depressed at the concept that now we have to have scrambled eggs and corn muffins for dinner.

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SNOW DAY

It is a relief when it behaves like winter around here, because Global Warming.

 

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REMAIN CALM

Every single hour, news breaks. A new scandal, crime, investigation, somebody uses a bad word, somebody shoots people, the globe gets hotter, you name it. Are you getting outrage fatigue?

I certainly am becoming weary of the constant buffeting of horrible things. Nevertheless, I can’t seem to stop myself from checking Twitter a couple of times an hour, just in case the President resigns. But then I look at my cats, who seem to know how to relax, and I compile a list of things that I can do to even things out in my tattered psyche.

  • Binge watch something. This takes one’s mind off of the world in a big way. My husband thinks bingeing is a complete waste of time. I tell him bingeing is really just the same thing as reading a book you can’t put down. He reminds me that he is totally capable of putting a book down. He thinks it’s calming to go down into the basement (where there are seven litter boxes, incidentally) and hammer and saw things. This is clearly an indication that he, and all other men in basements, have no credibility.
  • Read. See above, about not putting the book down. I find that chillers about serial killers are especially diverting. Until bedtime, when it sounds as if there is a large man snapping twigs as he creeps around outside the house.
  • Exercise. Global warming has made taking walks in January very pleasant. Until I begin to fret that the reason I can stroll around in a light jacket means that the planet is  dying. Then I think about the future of my grandchildren and become depressed.
  • Napping. This is very effective. Especially if there is a cat at your side, similar to the one in the photo, above. Cats purr, and purring releases oxytocin in the listener. Or melatonin, or is it novocain? Whatever it is, it makes you feel better.
  • Eating. It is a shame that eating all the time is not good for you, because let’s face it–the only time you are totally carefree is while chewing a) mashed potatoes and gravy, b)    waffles drenched in syrup, c) cake and ice cream, d) grilled sausages with spicy mustard, or e) all of the above. I eat two meals a day now. This is tough, because I wake up hungry, spend the latter part of the afternoon hungry, and go to bed hungry. I guess that thinking of eating could be considered to take one’s mind off of bigger problems, but I wager that the populations of third world countries would disagree.
  • Dancing. This is only for people with intact joints.
  • Sex. See intact joints above.
  • Having a hobby. The word “hobby” is in itself so lame that I cannot imagine having one. Hobbies these days are what, “gaming?” Knitting? That is a noble occupation, but I can’t knit. Don’t want to learn. Nobody collects stamps, because emails. Taxidermy? Nope. Checking social media? Yes. I have that hobby. But that takes me right back to the state of the world, and I get upset all over again.

I am just going to wait around until Robert Mueller makes his move, recreational marijuana becomes legal in Ohio, or my husband says we should consider getting a puppy.

 

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HO HO HO

For most of my life, Christmas has been about the decorations, the food, and of course, the gifts. This all changed when my daughter had first, her son Charlie, and then her daughter, Birdie. I remember people saying it worried them that they seemed to love their grandchildren more than they did their own children, and I scoffed at that. Now I know it’s true. Christmas to me is counting down the days until I get to kiss these two people.

Here is what I look forward to now. Playing “Eye Spy With My Little Eye.” Asking Birdie how big she is. Holding out a platter of cookies to Charlie and watching him as he reaches out and whispers to himself, “Only take one.” The joy in Charlie’s eyes as he opens his hundredth Transformer toy, every single one of them “his favorite.” Hugging Birdie, who still puts her head on my shoulder.

They have so much energy, it’s exhausting, so I go to my room to lie down, and in about ten minutes, I feel as if I am being watched. I open my eyes to stare into Birdie’s baby blues, peering intently at me to see if I am awake yet.

Movies in bed. Last year, we watched “Home Alone” twice. Charlie and I began watching “Lion King,” but since he had seen it multiple times, he left halfway through (Transformers to play with), and I sat there alone, transfixed.

Christmas morning. Opening gifts takes almost all day. We take breaks to go outside for a walk in the balmy LA air. There is egg casserole and lots of coffee. But the best thing is sitting on the curb and watching the neighborhood kids ride their scooters, chased by their dads. Birdie joins in, and I nearly have a heart attack. This year, I bet she will have a helmet.

Seven days. Not enough. All of you grandparents who have grandchildren nearby, I envy you with every corpuscle in my being.

Have a wonderful holiday, no matter which one you celebrate. I will be back in 2019!

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