HOW TO BE INTERESTING

Are you boring? Do you poop out at parties? Don’t have anything to talk about? Want others to talk about you? Spice up your life and your image:

  • Start rolling your r’s.
  • Be enthusiastic about throw pillows. Really enthusiastic.
  • Start a collection. But of unusual things, like pipe cleaners.
  • Paint your kitchen black.
  • Carry bubblegum with you everywhere.
  • Reveal embarrassing secrets.
  • Eat your hot dogs with a knife and fork.
  • Cross your legs at the ankles.
  • Carry a Thesaurus under your arm.
  • Order the cheese plate for dessert.
  • Leash train your cat.
  • Keep chickens.
  • Instead of Shakespeare, quote Anais Nin.
  • Wear a pencil behind your ear. All the time.
  • Button your shirts all the way up.
  • Announce you have to leave the table to “go brush your teeth.”
  • While you are at it, hand out toothbrushes to all your dinner companions.
  • Name your dog Steven.
  • Name your new baby Elon.
  • Place your EpiPen beside your plate at every meal.
  • Get a black dot tattooed on the end of your nose.
  • Put ice cubes in your milk.
  • After someone tells a joke, follow up by reciting a limerick.
  • Learn how to read Tarot cards.
  • Blink SOS in Morse Code at a cocktail party and see if anyone notices.

This should get you started. I have to go now and brush my teeth.

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TERRIBLE WEEK

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HOME

Anywhere you hang your hat. That sounds so easy, a pat answer that used to work, at least for many. But as we see in relentless media, home is here one minute, gone the next. People are now living in shelters, refugee camps, in ditches, basements, wondering if they will see the next day.

In this country, there is a large population of people for whom the word “home” means where they once lived. Folks who live in the streets, who panhandle for a living, or who depend on all sorts of cobbled together social services for their survival. For those of us who have never had to contemplate living this way, it is easy to judge–to think “These people are lazy, probably criminal in some way, addicts, or drunks. They did something to deserve to live like this.” Or as we drive by them, holding their signs asking for help, we feel a fleeting wave of pity and move on to thinking what to have for dinner.

Home is complicated. It is something I have always taken for granted. The places I have lived have always been comfortable, safe, as attractive as I could make them, and most of all, far away from the places where the definition of a “home” meant something very different from mine.

Homes are being taken away by war, by fire, drought, and catastrophes in such great numbers I can’t begin to contemplate. I dread watching the news. This itself reveals how privileged I am. To sit in my designated room for tv watching and be made uncomfortable and sad looking at those who are homeless, fleeing, bombed out, living in the streets?

Let’s do something about it. Here is what I can do at my age and from Dayton, Ohio. Maybe you can join me from your home.

https://give.oxfamamerica.org/

https://www.habitat.org

http://www.lirs.org/ukraine-crisis

http://www.rescue.org

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NADA

What? Another week rolled around and Molly could not come up with a topic for her column? Are you kidding me?

No good news was in the headlines, and the rest of it is so horrible, it isn’t worth thinking about. Recipes? Nope, because husband now thankfully does most of the cooking.

Advice? Tips? Maybe you should still be wearing your mask. Otherwise, nothing there, either. The weather? Warming…

Book lists? Overdone.

Perhaps some podcast recommendations, then? Were You Raised by Wolves is a favorite. But no, not really.

Well, then. One more week, and surely something will come up.

Fingers crossed.

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A DIFFERENT WIFE

 

Have you seen the commercial for some sort of financial management firm that features a lovely senior couple camping? First, they are on paddle boards, then sitting in front of a campfire drinking coffee and laughing? Then they get into their RV and drive off? Of course you have, because it is on all the time.

Every time it comes on, we have a private joke: I say “That is just like us!” And my husband rolls his eyes, because I am not a camping sort of person.

That is as far as it went for a long time. But the commercial came on again last night, and I said something like “Would you ever want to go camping?” thinking of course that the answer would be a resounding NO. However, my husband looked at me with what I would have to classify as irony and said, “With a different wife? Yes.”

I was stunned. “Wait. What about adventure tourism (which I also hate and fear)? Would you go to Machu Picchu?” He looked at me with a level gaze. “Of course.”

Shocked, I continued. “You would enjoy that? What about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Would you think being freezing cold and having to carry out your own poop a fun experience?” Again, a “Yes” with not one millisecond of hesitation. I wasn’t satisfied with this. “Would you travel down the Amazon, despite fever bearing parasites, swarms of biting bugs, and alligators (I have no idea if there are alligators in the Amazon). He nodded, this time accompanied with an exasperated sigh.

My God. All of this time, I thought we were a match made in heaven. Now I find out that he has been holding himself back from fun for 52 years because of his “indoor” wife. I have robbed him of so many peak experiences! He has lived a boring life because of ME.

I thought for a minute, and then offered, “But you could do all of that stuff by yourself. Our friend (we will call her Rachel) travels by herself all the time. As a matter of fact, she was in Palestine all alone last Christmas. Her husband hates travel. At least I like some travel!”

He ran a hand over his nonexistent hair. “Yes, Molly. You love travel. As long as we are in big cities like London where English is spoken, where we stay in five star hotels, and where there are many shops. Oh, and there must be amenities. Lots of amenities.”

“Well, that is travel!”

“You didn’t ask me that. You asked me about adventure travel. Which of course, I couldn’t do alone, because you wouldn’t let me.”

I wanted to object.

I couldn’t.

 

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THE END OF SPECULATION

I like to have conversations with my husband. This, of course, gets harder the longer we have been together, because the majority of topics have been covered many times over.

One conversational gambit that always used to work was the “what do you think” question. “What do you think is the most water you would have to drink in order to die of water poisoning?” Another opener that used to work is the factoid probe: “Are basketball players more physically fit than baseball players? It seems to me that Babe Ruth was fat. And by the way, was Babe really his name?” Again, great opening for speculation. Opinion. Discussion about Babe Ruth vs. Steph Curry.

These things don’t work any more, because of Alexa, Siri, Google, Google Maps, and worst of all, Wikipedia. I ask a stimulating question, and I am met with “Check Wikipedia.” Here’s the thing: I DON’T REALLY WANT THE FACTS. I want a conversation in which he will open with, let’s say on the water question, with “Oh, that’s an interesting question. Are you asking how much water one would have to drink at one sitting?  Because I bet it would have to be more than a gallon.” To which I would hazard a guess, and then we would move on from there to how much beer might be too much, and so on.  In the era before the internet, conversations like this could go on and on.

But no. These days, any question like that is squelched by the “check Google, etc.” response. End of discussion. This happens all the time–not just with my husband. Friends in restaurants often pull out their phones to fact check everything from “Do you think those realtors on Selling Sunset are all anorexic?” to “Is sushi really that popular, or do people just pretend they like it in order to seem sophisticated?” We seem to have lost our ability to speculate and probe deeply into things, offering up our points of view. No– we just ask Siri and move on.

It gets harder and harder to have a good time when we feel the need to research every topic on our phones in order to get the definitive answer. There is a way to get around this, however. I just figured this out! Good heavens, why didn’t I think of this before? The solution is to ask speculative questions about the future:

Oh my God what do you think will happen when Elon Musk starts running Twitter? 

How many more Ken Burns documentaries do you think there will be?

Will women ever admit that high heels are torture?

Will people ever reconsider kale as a vegetable?

Take that, Wikipedia.

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CLIFF NOTES CAMPBELL

Not sure if you read my blog regularly, but I wrote  a while ago about my aversion to Ken Burns. Not personally, because I am sure he is a very nice man, despite his unfortunate haircut. No, I am not a fan of his docuseries, because they are so minutely detailed.

The fact that Ben Franklin (I am making this up, because I did not watch the series about him), liked to give his wife pink roses is lost on me. All I need to know about Franklin is the kite and the key, thank you very much.

Digesting the news is a similar situation. I like to get the gist. The gist is all I need. The gist can be obtained from reading just the headlines. For instance, if Putin attacks another city in the Ukraine, all I need is the name of the city, because we already know how he will do it: blast it to smithereens. Therefore, details about how many people were killed or how many churches destroyed are needless and anguish- producing. I don’t need those details; just the main fact or facts is enough.

This drives my husband crazy. I will tell him something I read that I think he will find interesting. For example: “Hey, did you know that a woman grew a gourd that looks exactly like a penis?” That is all anybody needs to know. But my husband will immediately ask me, “Where does she live? Was it in her backyard, or is she a farmer?” Where she grew it and what she does for a living are absolutely NEITHER HERE NOR THERE. Literally.

He also quizzes me on the details of the news I relay to him via my newsfeed. Five black bears were hibernating under a home for months, and the homeowners had no idea. That is enough to know. I scrolled past that headline just after I read it to Charlie, and so I lost that story forever, and I could not tell him what state that was in, or what city, or how the homeowners who had no idea became aware of the bears. Does it matter? There were FIVE BEARS under there! Who cares about what state that was in? I know it isn’t Ohio, so why clutter my mind with needless further information?

Thls habit of mine for going for the barest of information has led my brother-in-law to call me “Cliff Notes Campbell.” Cliff Notes are a gift to mankind. Frankly, sometimes even the Cliff Notes versions of things aren’t abbreviated enough: All one needs to know about Finnegans Wake is that the book ends with the first half of the first sentence of the novel–all you need to know to avoid reading it altogether. Cliff Notes won’t help you with James Joyce. I am not sure James Joyce could help you with James Joyce.

I leave you with a quick summary of something that you might find interesting, and this is all you need to know about it:

FLORIDA BRIDE AND CATERER CHARGED AFTER SERVING MARIJUANA LACED FOOD AT WEDDING.

I rest my case.

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BOOK LIST

The plots get mixed up in my head, because I start another book as soon as I finish one. I forget the titles. So I have started to keep a list of books I have loved. We all need diversion AGAIN, from the events in the world. So here is another reading list from me to you.

  • Lottery, by Patricia Wood. I loved this book. I won’t ruin it by saying any more about it. Just go ahead and read it.
  • Still Waters, by Viveca Sten. I have mentioned previously that whenever I take a walk in nature, I am afraid I will find a body. This book is about that.
  • The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles. I love books about interesting characters. I love books about good people. This book has all of that.
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien. A finalist for the Man Booker Prize, this novel  is about a daughter’s attempts to understand her fractured family, especially her musician father. China, America, life in both contrasting cultures.
  • The Green Road, by Anne Enright. A smotheringly dramatic mother. Four siblings. An Irish family. This is a brilliant read.
  • Swimming Back to Trout River, by Linda Rui Feng. Another fantastic novel about a Chinese family, and music is again present.
  • Everything I Have is Yours, by Eleanor Henderson. This is a heartbreaking memoir about marriage, illness, and hanging on for sheer love.
  • Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan. I again can’t tell you much about this without ruining it. But when a “regular person” makes a life changing decision, the world can shift.
  • Ghosts, by Dolly Alderton. A refreshing chick lit diversion. Not heavy, fun, and an easy read. I loved taking a break from heaviness reading this.
  • The Final Case, by David Guterson. A child dies, cold and alone, just outside the door of her adoptive parents’ home. They are charged with her murder. Guterson is a master of his art, and this book is not a disappointment.
  • Between Two Kingdoms, by Suleika Jaouad. A promising young life. Cancer. This memoir about it all is searing, hopeful, and lovely. There is also a dog.

I try not to tell you too much about these books, so that you can discover them for yourself, as I did. But I don’t add a book to my lists that I haven’t found to be completely worth my time as a reader. I hope you pick up a few of these and enjoy them as much as I did.

 

 

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WATER

The human body is 90 percent water. Ok, that might not be the right percentage, since I made that up, but I know humans are mostly comprised of water. It’s a Googleable fact. Guess what?  Weight Watchers feels that isn’t good enough. If you are on their plan, you  have to add 64 ounces of water to your already waterlogged body.

64 ounces sound like a lot to you? It is a huge amount. It is so much water that a person complying with this requirement urinates at an average of every thirty minutes.

I have been following all the Weight Watchers rules religiously for one week today. As a matter of fact, I have to pee right now. So far, water is the hardest part of the program, in my opinion.

Drinking water when you are not thirsty is sort of like the day you have to prep for a colonoscopy. You have to drink a gallon of water that day It is brutal. But that is just one day every 10 years or so. At least the Weight Watchers water isn’t filled with noxious salts, but it is still very hard to get it all down. Every damn day.

Fellow Weight Watchers have suggested adding Crystal Light to the water to make it more palatable. Some say you should “carry a water bottle around and sip at it all day.” For me, constant sipping is annoying, and forcing that chemically fruit flavored liquid is awful. My method is to fill one 8 ounce glass of water and chug it down as fast as possible. Then I wait about an hour or so and do that again. It isn’t fun, but it is over quickly. I have to do that eight times. Eight times is a lot of times.

Eight glasses of water used to be recommended for everybody. Ridiculous–even thin folks were supposed to consume 64 ounces every day. I have Googled this. The whole idea of drinking all this water has indeed been debunked. However, the pundits at Weight Watchers International have clung to the water rule. They either know something that the scientists don’t know, or they are sadists.

I have a friend who says that even after she lost the weight, she missed all the water, and so she kept up the 8 glass habit. I think she is nuts. Remember when you used to see people carrying their water bottles around everywhere with them? This was pre-debunking. Water bottles aren’t the trend any more. I always thought the people toting around water bottles were sort of self-important, anyway. I prefer to keep my water drinking behind closed doors.

As a result, if I make plans, I have to rearrange my drinking schedule so that there is at least a two hour hiatus from the water before I go out. This puts a lot of pressure on me to “catch up” with my intake when I get home. The fallout from this is middle of the night trips to the bathroom. Then I can’t get back to sleep. It is a good thing that I am mostly antisocial in the first place–not a lot of plans to worry about.

I am hoping that when I lose the pounds I want to get rid of, the maintenance part of Weight Watchers, which goes on for the rest of your life, lets up on the water requirement. Otherwise, I may never go out for the evening again.

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