“Molly is the best thing to come out of Ohio since…um…the best thing to come out of Ohio since things started to come out of Ohio!”
follow me on twitter as @OpinionsToGo 

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THE PERSON I’M NOT

I am not this person. It is the icon that I created that is supposed to represent me. Ha.

I am not sure who I am exactly, but I know the person I am not.

I am not the person who loves hiking. Hiking involves the outdoors, coats on cold days, strong calf muscles,  and a complete obliviousness to insects, snakes, and other vermin created by Mother Nature. Hiking trails have roots and holes. They contain hills and gullies. I am not a gully fan. There is a lot of dirt outside. It can turn into mud at a moment’s notice. I am not a mud lover. I wish I loved hiking; it seems as if it makes the pandemic fun for millions of people.

I am not the person who greets life challenges like the pandemic with a sudden desire for sourdough starters, knitting patterns, and jigsaw puzzles. First off, sourdough bread tastes sour. Sour is not a flavor I embrace. Knitting anything other than a scarf is very intricate. You have to pay attention, so all those people who can knit while watching tv are way above my pay grade. I don’t have a pay grade, but the expression fits, ok? As far as jigsaw puzzles go, they are fine, but I have a cat. Having a cat precludes puzzles, as all cat owners know.

I am not a person who can get up off the floor without using my hands. I may have discussed this in previous blog posts. Fitness pundits (if they are on the internet, they must be experts, right?) say that if you can’t do this, you will die in five years. My prognosis isn’t good. I did manage to get up one time without using my hands, but in doing so, I threw my back out, and it took three visits to the chiropractor to set it right. He was shocked that he, too, had only five years to live.

I am certainly not the person who has suffered mental challenges and deep frustration due to pandemic isolation. My daily life is the same today as it was five years ago. Or ten years ago. Name some years ago; it is the same. My life hasn’t changed, because I am not an extrovert. I am what they call an “extroverted introvert,” This means that I like a good cocktail party as much as the next extroverted introvert: one party every ten years or so, with people I already know, and with one good anecdote under my belt. Thus, the pandemic, as long as it draws to a close by 2030, is no big hardship for me.

I am certainly not the person who spends a lot of time arranging the accessories on my bathroom counter,  putting on makeup and flattering tops, then standing in the bathroom taking selfies to post on Instagram to illustrate: how young I look, how fashionable I am, how slim Photoshop can make me seem, and how fun my life is (in the bathroom??). I see so many Instagram accounts filled with daily bathroom mirror selfies, and I am astounded that the people posting them think that the rest of us want to look at them every day. The people who do this–do they feel good because they look good in these pictures from their bathroom? This isn’t totally fair, because these folks (ok, women) also post shots at restaurants, on hikes (see above), with a group of friends who also look fantastic, and even lying in bed with their dog/cat/parrot. I might consider doing this if I had better makeup, fewer wrinkles, and more than fifteen thousand Instagram followers, because maybe having a few thousand Instagram “likes” would fulfill me. I am about fourteen thousand followers shy.

Oh, and I am not the person who can revel in the fact that I am getting old. Betty White I am not. This morning I looked at my hands and realized that I now have “old people skin.” How did my taut and smooth skin turn so suddenly into crepey and wrinkled? I swear my body looked normal about a week ago. But overnight it turned on me, and I look like my skin is shriveling. I hate this. No amount of collagen, hyaluronic acid, or Lubriderm will change this. I am, however, tempted to order some of those micro-needling under eye patches, because they seem to really work in the Instagram ads. But when I showed an ad for them to my husband, he noted that the models in the ads were probably in their late thirties, without actual under eye bags in the first place, because the ads only show those models peeling the patches off, for God’s sake.

I am going to miss Betty White.

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KEEP SMILING

Listicles. I love them. Because there is so much angst in the world about Omicron, Flurona, insurrections and what my husband refers to as “weather warming,” I thought you might need a list of things to appreciate. Perhaps smiling is too much to ask for right now, but anyway:

  • You only need to isolate for five days now. If you are asymptomatic, you can go to work!
  • Pundits from all over are now saying that “diet culture” is horrible, body shaming is too, and we should all just eat when we are hungry, and tell our doctors that we won’t weigh in unless we are having some sort of situation that requires it. Going in for that sore knee isn’t one of those situations.
  • Carbohydrates are necessary. They give you the energy to do the dishes, make your bed, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. So have a potato.
  • Whiskers on kittens.
  • But forget the warm woolen mittens, because they itch.
  • We are all getting used to staying at home all the time.
  • You can scramble eggs in the microwave!
  • The economy has regained 84% of jobs lost in the pandemic!
  • But if you are going to work, ditch the cloth mask and use a KN95–and they are now readily available!
  • If you are sick, just assume you have Covid and act accordingly, because tests are so hard to get. Acting accordingly is very confusing, however, because the CDC doesn’t even know what it is recommending any more. So just call in sick and try not to breathe on anybody in your family. But the good news? Five days only! And maybe the CDC will switch it to two days, who knows any more?
  • After all those folks were stranded in their cars for so long, we all know now to put Snickers bars and blankets in the trunk, just in case.
  • Dark chocolate is still good for you (the Snickers reminded me).
  • You don’t have to feel like a sloth if you wear your pajamas all day. The whole world is doing it now.
  • Tomorrow is my birthday!
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ANOTHER YEAR OF HIDING FROM EVERYBODY

There were exactly two weeks in 2021 when we all felt fine about going around without masks. It was after we all had our second vaccinations and the required “two weeks” had passed. It was blissful! We went to stores open faced. My husband and I even considered going inside a restaurant, but then realized that was just a bit too bold.

Then they said our shots were dimming in strength. Oh, no! Then the boosters came out. We got those, and felt somewhat relieved. But before the holidays came around, OMICRON happened. Good grief. The holidays would be ruined!

We had plane reservations already made to fly to California for Christmas, and so despite my anxiety and thanks to Xanax, we flew to LA for Christmas anyway. The protocol I insisted upon saved our asses. I am claiming this contrary to any evidence that this is indeed true, but we are living in the days of “truth is in the eye of the beholder,” and so–as I said, I saved us from Omicron.

If you want to fly, here are my tips:

  • Start wearing a mask an hour a day to get used to it. It will be moist in there, and you have to avoid touching it or reaching under it to scratch your nose. My husband did neither of these, however.
  • Take a mask to wear on each leg of your journey.
  • Take Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • Fly in first class, but save money by having your husband fly in steerage. He has virtually no anxiety about anything. Plus, you will avoid watching him NOT sterilize his armrests or tray table, and also eating and drinking without his mask. Don’t even THINK about him forgetting to put his mask back on.
  • Sanitize your seat belt buckle. You heard me.
  • Offer Clorox wipes to the guy sitting next to you. Pretend he isn’t rolling his eyes.
  • Don’t eat anything on the plane. If you have to, do it fast–or sneak bites under your mask.
  • Don’t attack any other passengers or punch the flight attendants.

Flying isn’t for everyone right now; I get it. We did make it there and back without contracting anything, HOORAY.

The other parts of 2021 were spent basically hunkering down and living like hermits. Yes, we did begin going to a few places with our masks on, but the main events of the year were dinner every night here at the house, TV shows, and naps. We have gotten used to this. My husband has even attended a play! He provided his vaccination card, wore his mask, and when he got home, I doused him in hand sanitizer, washed all his clothes in hot water, and put his shoes outside on the balcony to “air out.”

We are just like the rest of you. Or like most of you. Or maybe some of you. I bet we are on the same page with Dr. Fauci, though…

 

 

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HOLIDAY HIATUS

Wear your masks. Keep a good distance. Tell Omicron to shove it.

Eat all the food. Drink all the libations.

Have a wonderful time until we meet again in 2022!

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NOT ENOUGH

Oh, the holidays! So festive and fun.

I am going to be honest, here. I have a pet peeve that I want to air, now that so many are having holiday feasts. It’s about dessert.

Who thinks it is all right to have, for instance, a piece of pie with one dollop of whipped cream on it? Say about one tablespoon? Or a lovely fruit cobbler with a tiny scoop of ice cream atop it?

Who does this? Restaurants and the magazine food stylists, that’s who. A dessert with a huge scoop of ice cream or at least a fourth of a cup of whipped cream on it doesn’t look “classy.”

But desserts that look classy taste dry. While I am on the subject of dry, those little lava cakes surrounded by custard sauce are dry, too. They need at least a double dose. It is the holidays, for heaven’s sake, and we all need to let loose and enjoy ourselves, because we have survived the PANDEMIC.

My God, the same goes for gravy. The tiny dribble is simply not enough. Gravy should drench everything it is poured on, so that when you are finished eating what it was covering, you can mop up the remaining gravy on your plate with bread. There ought to be gravy remains.

We have isolated, masked, vaccinated, stayed home, boosted, distanced, and been lonely.

We need enough toppings, for God’s sake.

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ON AND ON

I can’t believe that

  • I just had to order another round of KN95 masks
  • Also, 2 packs of Clorox wipes
  • We are actually flying on a plane soon

Omicron, my God

So. Protocols for seeing our children and grandkids at Christmas:

  • Per Dr. Fauci, don’t panic. Xanax, CHECK.
  • Wipe down arms and seats of any chair you sit in at the LONG layover in Dallas. CHECK.
  • Switch masks often, and wash hands or use sanitizer after each switch. CHECK.
  • Don’t panic. Take another Xanax if necessary. CHECK.
  • Try not to get near anybody. Hah. TRY. CHECK.
  • Eat a lot before you go, because you won’t be eating on the plane, because keep masks on at all times. CHECK.
  • Wipe down your tray with sanitizer, or keep it in the upright position the whole flight. CHECK.
  • Don’t panic. Remember that Dr. Fauci says he is also flying this Christmas. CHECK.
  • Enjoy sitting in First Class, where the seats are further apart. CHECK.
  • Try not to think about your husband, who is NOT sitting in first class because he never panics, and just pray he remembers to do use his hand sanitizer. CHECK.

Jump for joy as soon as you land in Burbank.

 

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PLATING

Moms. They make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, usually. Unless they are married to chefs or something. So they do it year in and year out until they nearly drop from the sheer ennui of it all. Figure out what to make. Go to the store to get the ingredients. Make the meal. It’s gone in ten minutes. Wash up. Repeat.

It got to the point that I had a repertoire of maybe five meals that I could make without really thinking about it, and then the other two meals were pizza delivery and something family size from the frozen section.

My husband got tired of this. Honestly, so did I. Eureka! Subscription food boxes: three really interesting and delicious meals that come with all the ingredients, and easy instructions for cooking.

They also come with a recipe card. On the front of the card is a photo of the final result of the meal you are making. It is very obvious to me that the photos are taken by a food stylist, and nobody on their subscription list actually ends up with their dinner looking even remotely like the photo.

I made about 6 months of the food boxes, cooking them up and schlepping them on the plates haphazardly.  Enter my husband. Professional accordionist. Handyman. Person that follows every single direction to the letter, and who has never experienced assembling an Ikea bookcase with bolts and screws left over.He took over the cooking. That sounds good, but in truth, I decided enough was enough, and he took over the cooking.

I don’t have any photos to show you, because I eat my dinner; I don’t use it as a photo op. But trust me. Plating is Charlie’s forte. The dinner might get cold, but dammit, he takes the time to arrange it carefully, using the picture on the recipe card as the guide. Every carrot, sprig of parsley, and sprinkle of cheese is PLACED.

Dinners around here are works of art.

Last night, we had friends over. I made a sort of complicated recipe that fell outside the purview of the subscription boxes. It involved many ingredients, fresh herbs, and a crockpot. It smelled pretty appetizing. When it came time to serve, I dove into the crockpot with a large spoon, dealt one piece of chicken, some potatoes, carrots, shallots and broth onto each plate, and put it on the table.

The plates looked like something served in the sketchy pub that Cosette’s guardians ran in Les Miserables. A pile of boiled meat surrounded by chunks of vegs, a pool of broth seeping out from beneath.

The guests, who are extremely decent people, ignored what their dinners looked like. They ate the food, exclaiming periodically, “This is really good. Can you go get some salt and pepper? And are there any more dinner rolls?” I got the dinner rolls from a bakery.

My husband said nothing. He did raise his eyebrows when I set his plate down in front of him. He also had thirds on the dinner rolls.

After our guests left and we were cleaning up, he shoveled the remains of the plates into the trash and said, “Maybe next time, you could save out a few sprigs of parsley to drape over the chicken?”

I replied, “I have an idea. Let’s get rid of the crockpot. It boils everything.”

His eyes widened. “You are blaming the crockpot?’

I rest my case. From now on, I make only:

  • Sandwiches
  • Oatmeal, which is supposed to look awful
  • Soup out of a can, which always comes out looking the same
  • Salad (however, I need to perfect dressing, because mine always tastes astringent)
  • Cereal
  • Toast
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Popcorn
  • Turkey or chicken potpies with baked potatoes, because nobody can ruin the cuteness of a little pie next to a potato.

Charlie is making dinner tonight. I am not sure whether he will use sprigs of parsley or kale as garnish.

 

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REPORTING IN

 

This is a departure from my regular fare.

I have anxiety. It comes and goes, but it has been there since childhood.

I am just now learning how to deal with it. It will take time, but I am encouraged by recognizing  how many other people have anxiety as well. There are so many kinds: panic disorders, social anxiety, agoraphobia, health anxiety, OCD, PTSD, phobias. The list is endless.

What I am so grateful for is social media, which opens the door to helpers and experts in the field of managing anxiety. I have learned to my relief that having anxiety is not a defect or indication of personal weakness, It is simply a disorder that can be managed. There is therapy available specific to anxiety disorders. Webinars. YouTube videos. Podcasts. If you need support, it is all around you.

Admitting to having anxiety can be humiliating for some, embarrassing for others, and simply impossible for many. So I am going out on a limb here by admitting my own.I share this just in case one of you who might read this blog might also have some sort of anxiety, and need some company, some reassurance that you can manage, or even just some recognition. I am right here with you.

We can manage. We can live with anxiety. We can move on. No matter how long anxiety has plagued us.

I send out hugs to all. And one for me.

Enter “anxiety” in the YouTube search bar for so many informational and helpful videos on how to manage your anxiety.

THE ANXIOUS TRUTH is a fantastic podcast you can get on any podcast platform. Check it out.

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WITH APOLOGIES TO KEN BURNS

I watch television like it’s my job. This is a result of the pandemic; at least that is my excuse. Documentaries are my chosen genre, or as one of my friends said, “If  a documentary has been produced, Molly has seen it.”

I have to make a distinction. Crime shows are not documentaries. My husband gets this confused, as I also have a liking for 20/20ish shows that do “document” things, but they are all of the grisly variety. Those I classify as entertainment, not documentaries.

A good documentary tells a story about something or someone that has a distinct and interesting backstory that most or all of us have not heard. A  film about  real people and their oddities, like Grey Gardens. Exciting and thrilling docs like Free Solo. I like stories, personal revelations, and tales of weird happenings.

There is a caveat, however. Some documentaries go WAY TOO FAR. I may be very unpopular admitting this, but Ken Burns takes things that could be interesting and beats them to death with details. I learned so much more than I ever wanted to know about the Roosevelts! And despite the fact that I have written some novels, there are things about Hemingway that I truly don’t care to know. The cats, fine. The cross-dressing, really?

A documentary should last about an hour. Maybe an hour and a half. Certainly there is no need for multiple episodes. We want the general idea, not the complete biography. Ken Burns gets so caught up in his research, and he takes months, maybe years looking into his subjects. Somebody needs to tell Mr. Burns that this is overkill. Ken, you can stop, really. We don’t want to know how long it took Eleanor R to learn to ride a bike (this may or may not have been in the docuseries from Burns, but you get the idea).

Letters written home. Letters  from the front. Poems that never made it into publication. Musings  about nature left in diaries . Existential angst. The history of the hometowns and the favored architecture of your subjects. Snow or rainstorms that caused local damage. Dead pets. Ken, you can leave those out.

Of course, this reveals much more about me, the tv watching dilettante, than Ken Burns, the scholar and filmmaker. But perhaps I speak for a few more people than are willing to admit that they, too, do not want to know as much about things as Ken Burns wants to tell us…

 

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