Sunday, August 23, 2009

injaynesworld we've got the "Junk Mail Blues"

I’ve noticed a rather disturbing change in my junk mail as I grow older.

It started when I turned 50 and AARP sought me out to join them with enticing offers of senior discounts on Depends. Then at 60 among my birthday greetings I found a solicitation from The Neptune Society for cremation services. That was kind of a downer. I’m almost afraid to peer into the future lest my 70th bring an invitation from what I can only imagine will be a company aptly named “Check-Out Time,” offering euthanasia services – cash only, no credit cards accepted.

I have to admit that solicitations for long-term care insurance sent by the same companies offering me short-term life insurance confuse me, and it’s more than a little creepy to find myself just automatically appearing on these types of mailing lists. I’m only buoyed by the fact that Victoria’s Secret still considers me young and nubile enough to send me their catalogs and I’ve been known to buy several unneeded black lace garter belts just to stay in their good graces.

I look forward to election times when my mail is full of expressions of desire from those vying for my affection. Clearly, I am worth more to them alive than dead and that, in itself, is worth sending them a few bucks.

I realize that there is no longer any such thing as “personal” information and that we’re precision-targeted by corporations from cradle to grave. Recently, however, I decided to fight back and took some pleasure in ordering subscriptions to Seventeen and TeenVogue magazines thinking I’d just mess with them a bit. In response, I received literature on the early-warning signs of dementia along with advice that I consult my doctor about the enclosed recommended drugs for the treatment of such.

This may be a battle I can’t win.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

injaynesworld "We Dispose of Dead Bodies"

Once again, Michael Jackson’s burial has been postponed. This time because the family thought it wrong to bury him on his birthday, but apparently okay to let him lie around dead for months on end. Since they clearly are not ready to let go of The Gloved One, may I suggest a trip to the local taxidermist. They might even be able to install a CD for you that plays “Billie Jean” on a continuous loop. Bendable joints would allow for his placement at the dinner table so as to never miss one of your fun-filled holiday meals. Joe, the family pimp, could prop him up at the gates of Neverland and charge fans to take their pictures with him. You could even belt him up in the passenger seat so as to drive in the carpool lane. Think about it. The uses for a stuffed MJ are endless and the benefits far outweigh the disposal of his perfectly good, if slightly emaciated, nose less body.

Come on, Jacksons. Bury him already! We are all so over the "Summer of '09 Michael Jackson Dead Body Tour.” Give the poor bastard in death what he never got in life – some fucking peace.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

injaynesworld "Drug Is Not The Past Tense For Drag"

I don’t care what Dr. Phil says.

The past tense for drag is dragged, as in “Look what the cat dragged in.” Dragged is a verb. Drug is a noun. Well, now I take that back. Drug can be a verb, but only when referring to the administering of drugs as in, “Did you drug your date?” But mostly it’s a noun. Which brings us back to the proverbial cat, and while we often attribute to cats strange and wondrous powers, in truth they are incapable of drugging anything.

I know we have real problems in the world, and believe me, I’m riled about all of them, but nothing – nothing can drive me crazy like hearing someone use “drug” as the past tense for drag. And yes, I know I’m shallow. Deal with it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

injaynesworld we've had it with “Birthers and Deathers and Liars -- Oh My!”

Just wake me when it’s over. Okay? Because these wing-nuts are seriously creeping me out.

I pride myself on being well-informed, but I can’t watch the news anymore. I can’t take all the shouting. The rage and hatred are everywhere and it’s over the top. I even have problems trying to read a paper or going on HuffPo. It all just makes me want to dull my senses with cheap wine before noon. And don’t even get me started on C-SPAN’s coverage of Congress. There are people out there who actually voted for Michelle Bachman. But then it’s been proven time and again that people will vote against their own best interests. The Republicans know this and are ruthless in their dissemination of misinformation, playing to the emotions of the ignorant and lazy, whereas the Democrats just want to make nice with everyone. And then we wonder why we get our asses handed to us so often at the polls.

It would be one thing if all this ugly discord was just the case at Fox. We know the whole “Fair and Balanced” thing is bullshit. But when did Lou Dobbs get his ticket punched on the crazy train? Yes, he began to show cracks during his whole illegal-immigrants-are-going-to-pop-out-of-your-toilet-and-bite-you-in-the-butt period. But I have to admit, I was totally and, in retrospect, I now realize naively caught off guard by his recent conversion to card-carrying birther. Demanding that President Obama present his birth certificate? Really, Lou? Do you not even watch your own network where it has been presented a multitude of times? But hey – don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. Or was this your audition tape for Fox?

Then there are the screaming mobs at the town halls and I can’t help being reminded of similar scenes in “Frankenstein,” the cool 1931 black-and-white version. Only instead of shouts of “Kill the monster!” we have toddlers in strollers carrying signs that read “Abort Obama,” while their parents cover their hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance, but the meaning is frighteningly the same. I remember the 60s when we marched and shouted, “Hey, hey, LBJ – how many kids did you kill today?” It, too, was an offensive rant, but I’m pretty sure none of us were advocating the killing of a President. We’d all just lived through the horror of JFK’s assassination. We knew too well the consequences of a demented individual with a rifle, conspiracy theories aside.

And when did it become okay to call the President of the United States a Nazi? That’s a vile thing to call anyone, much less the President, regardless of how you feel about his policies that you clearly don’t understand anyway or care to even try to. That would actually require the use of functioning brain cells and what few you have are needed to figure out which shoe goes on which foot in the morning – the entire extent of your venture into cognitive thought. The shouts of “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare,” are my personal favorite, made as they are by some of the same geniuses who are sucking at the tits of Social Security and Medicare while decrying Obama as a “socialist.”

It would be easy and is certainly tempting to write off these loons as a result of too many years of inbreeding, and while I don’t doubt that’s played a part, the true blame for the level of vitriol in today’s dialogue can be laid directly at the microphones of such right-wing hate mongers as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush-the-OxyCotin-poster-boy-Limbaugh. And as a bonus, the people who are listening to them are now carrying loaded guns to town hall meetings. Good job, boys. Wait till some innocent gets blown away and then watch these cowards throw up their hands and say, “Not my fault.”

Then just when I think it can’t get worse, there’s Sarah Palin, again, certifiably bat-shit crazy, screaming about Obama death panels coming to do in little Trip or Twig or whatever the hell her poor kid’s name is. Please. I’d rather be locked in a room for a month with Speidi than endure one more minute of the Palin good-bye tour. And might I add, Sarah, the purpose of a good-bye tour is to actually go away.

You know things are bad when Twitter becomes your bastion of sanity.

Monday, August 10, 2009

injaynesworld we are known as “The Reluctant Traveler or… Hell No, I Won’t Go”

My good friends, Kathie and Bruce, just got back from three weeks in France and Italy. Sounds divine, doesn’t it? Last year, Pamela and Richard, traveled through Spain, while adventurous Penelope and Andy trekked through India and rode camels. I’m so impressed.

My friends travel, while I… don’t. I don’t even have a passport. I did go on a three-day cruise to Mexico in 2006. The best part was buying drugs that are illegal in the U.S. without a prescription, and cheaply at that.

It’s not that I don’t like seeing other places. It’s the getting-to-them that presents the obstacle. The crowds, the packing, the delays, the flying. Not the flying so much as the potential for crashing. And don’t give me that crap about it being safer to fly than to drive on the freeway. I drive a Volvo.

Besides, I mean really, isn’t it all on DVD now anyway? If I want to see Italy can’t I just pop it into the player and relax in the comfort of my own home with a plate of lasagna? China? Hey, pass me the egg rolls. And who wouldn’t rather see Paris all cozy on the sofa with a savory Coq au Vin while avoiding all those annoying French people.

The last time I flew anywhere was in ’93, from L.A. to Pennsylvania. To save myself the trouble of having to check a bag I decided that I would simply wear everything I would need over those next three days. It worked for “Heidi.” Stoked by my own brilliance, I planned my wardrobe carefully and began to layer, starting with several pair of undies: a thong, a bikini and a brief, in that order. Next some leggings, a pair of knee high socks, low-rise jeans and finally a long, black skirt. On top I donned a tank, a tee-shirt, then a black turtleneck and finally a large wool, cable-knit sweater. For shoes, black cowboy boots which went nicely with all my planned ensembles. Clearly, these were the days when you could still fly without enduring a cavity search.

Although it should be obvious, I will mention it anyway. The ingestion of any liquids that day was strictly verboten as peeing would be out of the question. This presented a slight problem, as I prefer to be dead-ass drunk when I fly, but the downing of a single 10-mg tablet of Xanax proved surprisingly effective. Were it not for the fact that even if you drink nothing for hours on end, the body will continue to produce waste fluids and deliver them oh-so-efficiently to the bladder, my plan would have been flawless. This I discovered about one hour from landing and by the time we taxied to the gate, the whole “Heidi” thing no longer seemed like such a stroke of genius.

Still determined to circumvent the baggage check-in folks, should I ever fly again I will pack my belongings in a cardboard box and FedEx them to my destination, but such an excursion is unlikely. Planes have been dropping out of the sky like flies lately. Have you noticed? So unless I’m guaranteed Scully at the helm, I’ll be staying right here on good old Terra Firma, thank you very much.

Trains and buses aren’t much better. You’re still jammed together with a lot of strangers carrying God only knows what germs. You’ve got some Einstein train engineer texting his girlfriend just when he’s supposed to be switching tracks, and buses without seatbelts going off the sides of overpasses. Yes, I know. When my time is up it’s up and God will initiate his own personal search-and-destroy mission. I could be securely ensconced in my own bedroom having safe sex with myself (all the safer) only to have a plane land on me. It happens. So why go asking for trouble when it can clearly find you any time it pleases?

I’m sure that I would enjoy lying on a white, sandy Caribbean beach, my toes dipping into the clear, blue waters of the Atlantic, while a large alcoholic concoction of some kind is served to me by a half-naked native Adonis. There are many places that I am sure I would enjoy, and it is my fervent hope to live long enough for the words “Beam me up, Scotty” to become a reality. But until then I’m afraid I will just have to remain the reluctant traveler.

Friday, August 7, 2009

injaynesworld we’re hooked on “Four Pounds of Love”

Her name is Dixie. I almost named this blog “Dixieland” after her, but thought everyone would come here expecting great insights about jazz and go away disappointed. She is a two-year-old, 4.13-ounce Chihuahua and yes, I’m one of those goofy owners who dress up their dog. What can I say? I was denied a Barbie as a child.

Unlike me, she does not need an IV of coffee to wake up in the morning. Her eyes spring open and just like that she’s ready for the day. It’s usually about 7:00 a.m. I hear her stir and try to stay as still as possible, maintaining slow and even breathing. I do not want her to know I’m awake yet, hoping to get just a few more minutes of respite from an increasingly crazy world. I can feel her staring down at me from her perch on my pillow, her breath at my ear, then her tiny tongue ever so lightly on the tip of my nose – and I’m screwed. Just a one miniscule twitch, but that’s all it takes. She pounces full force on my face, “I know you’re in there!” I roll over and duck my head under the covers, but to know avail. When the Chihuahua is awake, everyone is awake.

She dances on my head until I give in, throw back the covers, and stagger to the screen door to take her out for her morning potty. Dixie was very easy to potty-train because every time she peed or pooped I would always clap and shout “Yay, Dixie!” And I still do. I sometimes wonder what my self-esteem level would be if every time I peed someone would clap and shout, “Yay, Jayne!” but I’ve yet to find that kind of devotion.

Into the kitchen we go to get her breakfast, Dixie prancing at my feet. I will not be ready for my breakfast until I have downed my first 16-ounce thermos of “just plain coffee,” but that’s another story. I get the can from the refrigerator, scoop out a large tablespoon onto a saucer, and stick it in the microwave for six seconds -- no more, no less -- so that it is just the right temperature for the princess. The sound of the timer going off sends her into what will be the first of many dizzying twirls of anticipation and joy to come this day known as the “Happy Dance." Dixie is the very definition of joy. I mean exploding with the stuff. This can be hard to take when you’re a natural born curmudgeon like I am, but damned if she isn’t winning me over. Still no coffee and yet, yes, I’m actually smiling.

As a puppy, Dixie was highly influenced by my elderly cat, Chelsea, who in true cat fashion sleeps most of the day. So Dixie eats her breakfast, then back to bed she goes leaving me to drag myself into my office and begin my day’s work. For most of my life I have been known as a cat person and not a dog person. I like cats for the same reason many do not – their complete indifference to what you think of them. They do not suck up. They require little care. Feed me, clean my box and maybe, when and if I’m in the mood, I’ll let you pet me. That’s something I can relate to – yet another possible reason why I’m single. Dogs, on the other hand, are always smiling. It used to just creep me out. Their expectations are way too high. I don’t need something else to make me feel inadequate. But somehow, this tiny creature has completely and totally kicked my ass and I live to do her bidding.

My work day ends promptly at six. I know this not because I have a clock, but because every day, at just that moment, Dixie has decreed it to be so and starts to bring her toys, one-by-one, into my office. First comes the purple bear. She glances up at me with it in her mouth, her big brown eyes telling me it’s time to play now. If I fail to respond, this will go on until her toy basket is empty -- the pink flamingo with one foot chewed off, the little yellow chicken with the broken squeaker, the “Grrrrrona” beer bottle complete with stuffed lime in the top – until finally I shut off the computer and engage in a rousing game of fetch complete with shouts of “Goooooooo get it!” followed by a shrill and rapid “C’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere…” She never tires of this. I will collapse before she does.

Dixie also enjoys watching TV, mostly reality shows, “Underdog to Wonderdog” being her favorite. She jumps onto my lap, crawls up my chest to just underneath my chin and settles comfortably onto “the boob shelf”. There is something about loving a little dog that is so visceral, especially when she is sitting right on top of my heart, her breath rising and falling with mine. I cannot begin to describe how calming it is. Okay, not a few glasses of Chardonnay or a couple of Xanax calm, but pretty damn near... And you can still drive if need be.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

injaynesworld we like "Just Plain Coffee"

Just plain coffee. Is it really so much to ask? Apparently so. Don’t believe me? Next time you walk into a Starbucks, or clone thereof, try ordering some. Then watch the expression of the Smiley-Face behind the counter turn into spasms of confusion. I’ve reduced a couple of them to tears. It was a personal best.

Actually, it’s kind of fun to mess with them this way. Sort of like days gone by when I would get high and then torment the ants that scurried across the paper towel I had laid out on my kitchen counter for just that purpose. They would all be traveling lock-step in one direction, then BAM! I would give the towel a 180-spin. Instant chaos. This never got old for me. But about the coffee thing…

Last time I walked into one of these places I counted 23 different kinds from places as far off as Kenya, Rwanda, Guatemala – I didn’t even know there were that many countries to begin with. Ah, for the days where you only had to choose between Yuban, “Richness worth a second cup,” Maxwell House, “Good to the very last drop,” and my personal favorite, Folgers, “The best part of wakin’ up, is Folgers in your cup.” Now there’s a jingle. Just try that, Rwanda. See, I don’t really need my coffee to come with a passport. I just need it to motor up my brain. But tell that to a Smiley-Face.

“Our coffee-of-the-day is Sumatra,” he offers a little too enthusiastically and making me wonder how much of the black brew he’s had himself so far that day.

“That’s nice,” I smile, “but I just want plain coffee.”

“We have Verona,” he suggests, grin still in place.

“And I’m sure in Verona that would qualify, but we’re in Burbank. Just plain, old, regular, coffee. Please.”

About here the twitching starts. Smiley-Face’s, not mine. Though the people in line behind me are starting to grimace a little, too, but they may just have to pee.

“Okay. I’ll help you out. Do you at least have something with an American name?” I inquire, nicely, I might add.

“I don’t think coffee is grown in America,” Smiley-Face nervously replies.

And I’m ready for him. “Oh, yeah? You’ve never heard of, oh I don’t know -- Hawaii? As in the-state-of?” my inner 10-year-old fires back. Smiley-Face’s lower lip begins to quiver. I expect him to ask if he can use one of his lifelines. And now I feel bad. Sort of. “Okay. I’ll help you out. Kona? Ring a bell?”

“Oh,” he sighs with relief. “Do you want Kona? Because we don’t have Kona.”

“Then why did you ask if I want it?” I know the answer, of course. It was a rhetorical question, but I can’t resist.

The manager usually approaches about this time, having noticed the line behind me now extending out the door and down the block.

“Is there a problem?” he Smiley-Faces me, too.

And because he’s kind of cute and by this time I really need my morning coffee, I let him talk me into a cup of Colombian, but not until I have his assurance that it is the plainest, more boring, uninspiring crap they sell.

I Smiley-Face him. “Make it a grande.” And toss a couple of bucks into the tip jar.

Cheapest fun I’ve had all day.

injaynesworld we celebrate "The Power Of No"

We’ve all done it. Said “Yes” to something we did not want. Women probably more so than men. From childhood, we are programmed to please, whereas little boys are programmed to stand up for themselves. This was certainly true for my generation and, while I know that the women’s movement of the 70’s produced stronger women who produced stronger daughters, what is also true is that nasty little “pleasing gene” continues to raise its ugly head, even today.

The ability to say “No” is intrinsically linked to our level of self-worth. Historically, a woman’s worth was tied to that of her husband; i.e., had she made a good marriage and, if so, she had better keep her husband happy lest she be cast out into a society that offered little opportunity for women in general and even less for single women. While today new opportunities have opened up for us in every realm, with those have come the heavier responsibility of being true to ourselves while still trying to meet the needs of everyone else.

The inability to say “No” pervades not just our relationships with our significant others, but with friends, family, employers and even complete strangers. How many of us when dining out have been shown to a table we didn’t like, yet obediently took our seat there anyway? Such a small thing, but so telling. If we don’t feel we can say “No” to a hostess at IHOP, what chance do we have to make our desires known in other more important areas of our lives?

What exactly are we afraid of when we choose to submit to the will of another rather than claim our own good? I’m not talking about the norm of a give-and-take relationship or being civil or cooperative when circumstances call for such, but rather that tightening grip we feel in our chest when we know we’ve sold ourselves out – again. Do we fear that person will leave us? I recall as a child once giving my brand new box of Crayolas to another child who asked for them in the hope that she would be my friend. It lasted a day. Then she wanted more.

We are all taught to consider other people’s feelings, but few of us are taught to consider our own lest we be regarded as “selfish” or, in our adults years, a “bitch.” Our need to be liked by others all too often overrides our need to like ourselves, and the times when we do speak up for ourselves frequently leave us riddled with guilt, which then makes it even harder to say “No” the next time. Are these really our only choices? Saying “Yes” and living with regret or saying “No” and living with guilt?

The answer is a resounding, earth-shattering, trumpet-blaring NO! No one has the power to make us feel either one. Regret and guilt are devils of our own making and, as such, we hold the power to banish them.

“Regret,” in my view, is the worst. It just makes you a victim. You won’t garner any points because you made a choice to stay late at work again to pick up a friend’s slack so they could to go home to dinner with their family because, after all, you’re single so how could you possibly have a life. Or agreeing to drive all the kids to soccer practice for the third week in a row when you were looking forward to getting your nails done because hubby had a golf date. And we all know how hard he works. Scenarios like these inevitably lead to one of two things. Your resentment builds such that the next time you’re asked to pass the salt by some poor unsuspecting soul you go off on him/her like The Incredible Hulk, or you wrap yourself in such a banner of self-pity that you end up creating resentment toward you by the very people you were so afraid of offending in the first place.

Instead, how about not saying “Yes” unless you truly mean it, and if you do choose to do something for another that perhaps you’d rather not, then see it as a gift to that person and do it with love or don’t do it at all. My mother had a great saying about people who do something for someone else and then complain about it: “It’s like the cow who gave a good bucket of milk then kicked it over.” That cow is now sitting atop a sesame seed bun.

As for “guilt,” we need to let go of our attachment to the outcome of saying “No.” We can’t control it anyway. If someone is going to be angry, sad, disappointed, whatever the response, that is their choice that they, and they alone, are making most often to manipulate us into changing our mind or punish us by trying to make us feel, yes, guilty. But since, again, no one can make us feel that way except ourselves, why not instead see their actions for what they are and just refuse to take the bait. Do this often enough and others will see that they can no longer control us with their emotions and may even come to grudgingly respect us for finally starting to respect ourselves.

Self-respect is an interesting thing. Like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. And that is the power of “No.”

injaynesworld we struggle "When Family Political Views Differ"

My entire family consists of two first cousins and the offspring of one of them. The one with the offspring is more like a sister to me. Let’s call her Jill. I’ve always liked that name and would have liked it for my own… but I digress.

Jill is ten years my senior. In 1959, we watched the Democratic convention on her small black-and-white TV and were both thrilled at the nomination of John F. Kennedy. Jill had married young and just had her first daughter, an infant at the time, who would, like her two sisters to come, grow into a progressive Democrat despite being raised by two staunch Republicans.

In 1959, however, I didn’t know Jill was, or would grow to be, a staunch Republican. I don’t know that I even knew what a Republican was. I recall a playmate once asking me if I was a “Demo-rat,” and wasn’t sure about that either, except from her tone, which was decidedly derisive, I knew that was not a good thing to be if I wanted to be her friend. I didn’t.

Flash forward. Jill and I have managed to go pretty much our entire lives without discussing politics. Maybe because I always assumed, and she had given no indication otherwise, that she was, like me, a Democrat. Let me just say unequivocally that my cousin is one of the most gentle, loving, caring and generous people I’ve ever known. Truth be told, she is much nicer than I am. Much. So imagine my surprise when, upon a recent visit, I discovered that not only is she a fan of hate-mongerers, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, but that Fox is her sole source for news, the voice of Rush Limbaugh accompanies her morning cup of tea and she has cancelled The San Francisco Chronicle, a paper she read her entire life, because suddenly it is “too biased.”

I first became aware of our political differences during this last presidential election. A total news junky, I eagerly shared with her articles expressing viewpoints from the left, jokes trashing McCain/Palin, and my personal impassioned support for Obama. I honestly, and clearly naively, believed that we shared these opinions or were at least in the same ballpark. Maybe she preferred Hillary. I could live with that. What never occurred to me was that Jill could be as firmly entrenched in the views of the right as I was in those of the left, although I had been told as much during the Bush-Kerry race by her sister who had informed me that she was strongly supporting Bush/Cheney and so was Jill. Okay, Jill’s sister, I can understand. She and her husband took to the woods a long time ago. Literally. But Jill… no. That was not possible.

So, with what I now see as myself being stubbornly in denial, I continued my arguments for Obama. I mean, really, what intelligent, reasonable person could even consider voting for McCain when, among many other things, Palin was so obviously not qualified to be one bad biopsy away from the presidency? And I certainly considered my cousin to be intelligent and reasonable. At first I received back fairly innocuous responses. Things like, “Oh sweetie, I think I’ll probably vote for Howdy Doody. I don’t think any of them are worth a damn.” My cousin does not seek out confrontation. But slowly the responses started to change until I began receiving some e-mails that took on a distinctly right-wing tone. Petty, angry, small-minded -- not at all like the cousin I had grown up with. “Obama is a Muslim,” type exchanges, along with e-mails touting the horrors of illegal immigrants getting social security and the like.

I began to blame her husband, Bob, an easy scapegoat with his ever-present NRA cap and referral to his own gay son as “that kind.” He is her second husband. Not the father of her children. They have, however, been together going on 20 years, and he has always been pompous, arrogant, and a bit of a bully. There has never been any doubt as to where he stands in the political landscape, and I began to suspect that not only had he probably brow-beaten my sweet cousin into acceptance of his neo-con views, but since they share the same e-mail address, the e-mails I’d been receiving must be from him. Planning to trap him, I wrote back, “Jill, you’ll have to start signing your e-mails because I can no longer discern your voice from Bob’s.” I promptly received this response from Bob: “I never e-mail you. It’s always your cousin.” WTF!

Now would be a good time to remind all of you who are old enough to remember of the 1960s movie about the pod people, a tale of invaders from Mars who grow pods which blossom into exact duplicates of various human characters who are then replaced by these invaders. To me, this provided the only acceptable explanation as to what had happened to my cousin. She was a pod person.

Since the election, Jill and I have taken to avoiding the topic of politics with each other. Well, not altogether. Last month she did forward me a photo of Newt Gingrich posing with his wife, along with a litany of right-wing charges maligning Nancy Pelosi. I promptly fired back, “Which wife is he standing with? I know he’s cheated on all of them, fine upstanding Republican Christian that he is.” I received back a rather pious reply, all lower-case, “sorry. i didn’t mean to send this to you.” We never spoke of it again.

As I said, earlier, Jill does not like confrontation. Her husband, however, loves to spout off and pick a fight, something I used to let myself get sucked into despite the fact that I knew he delighted in it. It would always put my cousin in the middle and make it difficult for us all to be together and, remember, this is my only family. So on this recent visit, I vowed not to go there, with either of them, no matter what. I said nothing when Jill voiced her admiration for Fox wackos. I chose to go for a walk until the Limbaugh show was over. I bought my own Chronicle. And when, on the long drive to her daughter’s for a family graduation, her husband spewed some nonsense about how his taxes “were going to pay for abortions in Afghanistan,” I merely cocked my head like the Jetson’s dog, “Rrrreary?” Had I missed something? This had certainly never been the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of Afghanistan. I told myself there’s just no cure for stupid and hoped that my not taking the bait would give him a migraine.

But, sadly, here is the bottom line. My cousin is a good, decent, loving person. She has been there for me for my entire life and I love her dearly. I want to understand how she can be the person I know her to be, yet align herself with the venomous views of the right. I really do. But as I read through this diary, I have no better clarity now than I did when I started writing.

I wonder if my cousin does not feel the same way about me, and if maybe she has not written her own diary on the subject and published it on Drudge. Perhaps I will have to take a look.

injaynesworld we kill "A Mouse In The House"

I have mice in my kitchen. I have not personally seen said mice, but have been rudely greeted each morning for the last week with evidence of their nocturnal rovings on my otherwise pristine counter tops. Last year when I had mice in my bedroom Chelsea, my cat, dispensed with each with the savor and speed that I would devour a box of Godiva chocolates. For whatever reason, however, this current group has failed to stir her taste buds.

I've been hoping they would simply go away or perhaps die of old age because I just hate to kill things. This wasn’t always the case. When I was a city dweller, upon finding a spider in my home, I would spray an entire can of Raid on it and then hope the ants would quietly take away its poison-soaked corpse. They never did. After moving to the country, I developed a much more “live and let live” philosophy. I now simply cover the spider with a plastic cup, slip a piece of cardboard underneath it, and walk it outside. But I digress…

Since the mice are clearly not appreciating my magnanimous approach, off I go to buy mouse traps. I don’t want the sticky kind. Finding a live mouse fighting to free itself while looking up at me pleading for a reprieve would be more guilt than I could handle. For $4l.95 I see a contraption that emits a sound guaranteed to have the same repelling effect on mice as heavy metal music has on me. The salesman says it worked for him for awhile until the mice got used to it and came back. Come to think of it, Led Zeppelin eventually grew on me, too. Next he shows me a metal box that lures and traps the live mice inside. I’m encouraged until he tells me that barring driving them to the next county for release, they would probably just march themselves right back into my cozy kitchen of which they have grown so fond. I settle on a pair of traps which promise a “high catch rate,” and best of all “no need to handle dead mice.”

“Oh, and get some mothballs,” he suggests, because that’s what salespeople do. “Mice hate the smell,” he assures me. “It’ll keep them away.” Ring them up.

Now I’m thinking, if the mothballs will keep them away, perhaps they will also drive them away. Then I can still avoid the whole killing and guilt thing. Unfortunately, having no experience with mothballs, I seriously underestimate their potency and fling whole handfuls of the tiny bombs behind the refrigerator and another behind the stove. Cough, gag, choke! My entire house reeks and, of course, now there is no simple way to retrieve them. But, fine. What’s a little lung damage if it works?

The following morning, I awake hopeful. Yes, the smell is still suffocating, but if it makes me want to flee, surely the mice have scampered off. Wrong. Not only have they not been sent packing by the noxious fumes, there are even more mouse droppings than before. Clearly, they are now mocking me. I no longer feel generous. They must die.

I bait the traps with the cheapest peanut butter I can find, the kind that still has the trans fats. I not only want them dead, I want their disgusting little arteries clogged, as well. I’m ashamed at my glee as I anticipate their demise, but only for a moment. I consider brewing a pot of coffee, dimming the lights and staying up all night at the kitchen table just for the pure pleasure of hearing the traps snap shut, but vanity prevails as I realize how pronounced the bags under my eyes will look from lack of sleep.

Morning dawns. I leap from my bed and rush to the kitchen high on anticipation... Score! Me, two. Mice, zero. I congratulate myself on a job well done as I dispose of the varmints and re-bait the traps. Now if I can only get rid of the stench of those damn mothballs.

injaynesworld we "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

You know it’s coming. You’ve just had (or faked) your orgasm. You’re lying there happy (or relieved it’s over) and he looks at you with that puppy dog face and asks, “Was it good for you?” “Yes,” you dutifully reply. “The best I’ve ever had.” He smiles, rolls over, and finally you can get some sleep. Except you can’t because what you really wanted to say was, “If you have to ask, you weren’t paying attention.” Or maybe: “You know, I wasn’t going to say anything, but now that you asked, I was faking it. Happy?” I mean, really… What’s up with the pop quiz?

In a recent e-Harmony article citing a list of seven things we think guys want us to say versus what they really want us to say, effusive praise for a job well done after sex was the single item where what we think they want and what they actually do want were totally in sync. And hey – if you can’t believe e-Harmony, who can you believe?

So what’s the driving force behind this need for instant reviews? Even on Broadway, you have to wait for the morning papers. Okay, sure, they want to be invited back. We know that, but beyond that, are they honestly so tuned out that they have to ask? Are they just being polite? Or are they still ego-driven six-year-olds craving that gold star next to their names? What gives?

We women never ask men that question. We know it was good for them because they’re just so damn grateful to be there in the first place.

There are many suitable things for a guy to say after sex. “I love you” is nice, though if said after only the first time that can be kind of creepy and signal a possible stalker. “Good night” always works. It’s simple, direct, and I’m usually tired by then, too. “I’m hungry,” “Gotta pee,” “Who’s on Letterman?” – all perfectly acceptable. But nowhere on that list appears a request for a performance evaluation.

Let’s be honest here. Most sex is pretty pedestrian. Oh sure, we’ve all had an encounter or two that was off the Richter scale, went on for hours, and sent us over the moon and back begging for more -- and that guy NEVER asked how it was for us. But by and large, we’re the ones expected to spice things up if we want to take it to another level. The French chambermaid outfits, the stilettos, the glow-in-the-dark, tutti-frutti flavored condoms, most of the time we even have to provide the porn. And then they want to know if it was good for us? No! I’m exhausted. Bring something to the party, damnit!

Now I know what some are going to say. Clearly, this woman has never experienced the heights of passion that comes from making love with your true soul mate and I’ll concede that point. Not that I haven’t been in love. I have, but I’m talking here about all the toads you have to kiss before you find that great love and they all seem to want to know if it was “good for me.”

That’s why I’m initiating a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy when it comes to sex. If you’re truly sincere in wanting to please me chances are good that you probably have. Intent counts for a lot. If you’re just being polite, try putting the toilet seat down instead. I’ll appreciate that more. If you’re so insecure that you need the reassurance of my flattery, however insincere, just know that flattery will be at the expense of my respect. If you’re really doubting your performance and still want to make a good impression, offer me a backrub. That can make up for a lot.

The truth is, guys, we don’t expect rockets to go off every single time. It’s fine. Really. Take the pressure off both of us and just relax. Resist asking “the question” and you just may get invited back for that alone.

injaynesworld some things are "Out Of My Hands"


A charming, deep voice cuts through my semi-conscious state, "We have to get you into surgery right away, Miss Martin."

“Will it leave a scar?” I hear myself reply.

“Yes,” the charming voice says, “but the alternative is paralysis.”

“Go for it,” I say, and then the charming voice is gone.

I have fallen and broken my neck. I cannot walk and while my arms are happy to oblige whatever I ask of them, my snarled hands will have nothing to do with me.

It had been a night out with the girls. I was wearing a pair of very cute new red heels and was feeling quite spunky. Perhaps here it is best to explain that I’m not normally a big party person, so just the very fact that I was feeling “spunky” should have tipped me off that trouble could not be far, but the shoes were new and, by God, I was going to show them off.

At the end of the evening, the drive home along a winding mountain road coupled with copious amounts of tequila is making me nauseous. We pull over. I open the car door and no sooner do my cute new red heels hit the ground than I lurch forward and slam face down into an unseen ditch. Immediately, I know I’m screwed. I can’t move. I can’t even yell for my friends. I do manage to softly whisper, “Jesus, help me,” even though I cannot remember the last time I was inside a church. I lay there for what feels like an eternity. Where are they? Don’t they notice how long I’ve been gone? Finally, they’re at my side. No, I’m not okay. No, I can’t get up, roll over, or take your hand.

The ambulance ride to the hospital is hazy at best. I recall apologizing a lot. Had, I realized the seriousness of my situation I would have been terrified. As it is, I just feel stupid.

I awake from surgery in a room with only a nurse. My neck is protectively engulfed in a soft collar. The surgeon has removed the disks between C- 4, 5, and 6 and inserted a titanium rod in their place. I must wear the collar for several weeks until my neck fuses. We don’t know if I’ll be able to walk and my hands are still non-responsive. I’m single and live with a disabled dog and three cats. I have no family nearby. I’m alone. Who will take care of me if I cannot take care of myself? I start chatting – about nothing, about everything – small talk, I can’t shut myself up. I want to appear normal, strong, and above all, in control. Always in control. The nurse is kind. She smiles, nods, keeps up her end of the exchange. I suspect she knows how scared I am, but she doesn’t let on and I am grateful.

At some point I’m transferred and wake up in a two-bed hospital room. Nurses are a constant. Everything must be done for me. I’m a person for whom a manicure can be outside my comfort zone, but now no part of my body is off limits. Every fiber of my being wants to scream out in protest, but realizing that I’m totally dependent on this staff of strangers, I am unfailingly polite.

My surgeon visits. He doesn’t have to tell me who he is. I recognize the charming voice. He asks me to take his hands and squeeze them. I’ve got nothing. He looks worried. Clearly, he expected more improvement. I change the subject, nervously joking about my comment to him before surgery, “Will it leave a scar?” What a complete idiot he must have thought I was. He smiles now. “I’ve heard dumber,” he says.

My girlfriends stop by en masse, filling my room with flowers and determined to pick up my spirits. “You look great,” they say. “Really?”, I reply. I realize I haven’t looked into a mirror since before the accident two days ago... Three?... I can’t remember. One of them tentatively holds up her compact for me. My face looks like hamburger. Miraculously, my nose is not broken and all my teeth are intact. I just stare. “Maybe some lipstick,” she offers. I smile to hide my feelings, something I’m good at. “I don’t think lipstick is going to do it.”

I’m worried about my animals, especially my eleven-year-old dog, Aussie, a Chow/Australian Shepherd mix with a disk injury that had paralyzed her hind end a couple of months earlier. She can walk in front, but her back legs need to be put in a little cart I had custom-made for her to get around and go outside to relieve herself. My friends assure me that she will be cared for and, true to their word, they hire someone to stay at my home.

Fiercely independent. That’s me. Always ready to lend a hand, but reticent to accept such help in return. Growing up in an alcoholic home taught me that others cannot be counted upon to carry the ball. Need equals vulnerability and, until now, I’ve spent my life successfully avoiding both, convinced that my very survival depended on it.

In a few days I am transferred to a nearby rehabilitation facility. I’m encouraged because they only accept patients who have a good chance of recovery. The first day a nurse brings my breakfast tray, then leaves before I can explain that I can’t feed myself. I quickly learn that doing for myself is part of the physical therapy here. I resist the urge to go face-down into the scrambled eggs and lap them up like my dog, instead managing to manipulate the fork so that it makes its way to my mouth almost 50% of the time. Good for me. Sandy, my physical therapist, arrives. She’s a strongly-built, cheerful girl in her twenties. We work on getting me dressed and into my wheelchair. She helps only when all attempts by me have been exhausted. By then I’m wiped out and just want to go back to bed, but off we go to the therapy room.

To evaluate my hands, I’m to put ten of what seem to me to be absurdly tiny pegs into matching holes with first my right hand, then my left. I struggle with the task, hoping that at some point Sandy will realize my frustration and grant me a reprieve. She doesn’t. Twenty minutes later I’m done, but near tears. My job requires hours of typing. If my hands are useless, how will I earn a living? She teaches me a series of hand exercises to do on my own, objects to squeeze and manipulate to promote dexterity as well as build strength, and counsels me to be patient with myself. Patience has never been my strong suit.

Lunch arrives around the same time as my friend, Mary Ann. I ask her to cut up the chicken. I realize this is cheating, but I’m starving, so I promise myself just this once. The morning work on my hands seems to have done some good because the fork is finding its way to my mouth with a bit more frequency. Over the next few weeks, I work on my hand exercises diligently and slowly my hands begin to respond, first the right, then the left, which remains the weaker to this day. Eventually, I can even apply a little lipstick without ramming it up my nose and I start to recognize myself again.

Afternoons, it’s back to the therapy room and work on walking between the parallel bars, forward, backwards, sideways, Sandy always right there, giving me confidence, not letting me fall, teaching me that it’s safe to trust. I’m put on an exercise bike to build stamina, seven minutes, fifteen minutes, pushing myself to thirty minutes. Every little triumph is celebrated by my friends who are there daily to encourage and support me. They bring my mail, do my banking and keep me in the loop on the latest gossip. One day one of them even brings Aussie to visit. We’re quite a sight, Aussie in her cart and me in my wheelchair, rolling down the hallway together.

I graduate from the wheelchair to a walker, first under supervision, then by myself, allowing me the freedom to navigate from my bed to the bathroom, to stand and brush my teeth and, best of all, make it to the toilet by myself. I’ve been there almost three weeks and am in between the parallel bars when Sandy says, “Okay, now let go and walk forward over to the wall.” My heart starts to pound. I feel sick and start to shake. “You can do this,” she assures me. “I’m right here.” I take a deep breath and focus my eyes on a small spot on the wall. I hope it’s not a fly because if it moves it’s all over. I lurch first one foot, then the other, pitching each one in a flat, wide stance like a child taking its first steps. It’s not pretty, but I make it. And now I’m crying, because for the first time, I know I’m going to be okay. I can walk.

I’m told I’ll be going home soon. What should be joyous news sends me into a panic. I’ve felt safe here. My every need has been provided for. There is still so much I can’t do for myself. While I have much of the dexterity back in my hands, I can barely lift two pounds. How will I put my 38-pound dog into her cart the five or six times a day she needs to go out? My walking isn’t 100%. I’m still using a walker and can’t stand by myself even for the time it takes to make a meal. I haven’t been sprung from the neck collar yet and am still not supposed to move my head so I can’t drive to the store. How will I bathe myself? What if I fall and no one is there? And on and on…

A dear woman from the community insists on doing my grocery shopping. Another friend’s husband installs safety bars in my shower. My friends have bought me beautiful new bed sheets, washed all my clothes and rearranged my closets and drawers so everything will be within reach. They all take turns driving me to follow-up doctor visits. A woman I’ve known for thirty years, but had lost touch with, hears of my accident and travels the 200 miles to my home to stay with me until I’m able to be on my own. She cooks for me, cleans, helps me shower. When the doctor finally says my neck is healed and the collar can come off, she even helps me wash my filthy, disgusting hair that’s been matted to my head for a month.

I allow myself to need and to be vulnerable, to receive and let others give. I realize that I’m not alone. I never have been. I’m still a control freak, but maybe not quite as much. It’s been damn hard carrying the ball all by myself all of the time and a relief to learn that I don’t have to. It’s said that God tickles you with a feather and if you don’t listen He hits you with a brick. Apparently, I was one of His tougher cases.

injaynesworld we are "Solo At Sixty"

It’s my 60th birthday. I’m getting a tattoo of puckered lips done on my ass, painting my nails purple and doing my first sky dive. If not now, when? On my 50th birthday, I became “Don’t-Fuck-With-Me 50” and celebrated by giving myself the gift of never taking any crap from anyone ever again. When I turned 40, I entered an early menopause. Not that anyone could tell from my mood swings. I’d always been a bitch. At thirty I became one of “those people” nobody in my generation was supposed to trust. I got drunk and stayed in bed all day. My 20th I don’t even remember. It was the late sixties. It was San Francisco. There’s a whole decade missing.

I recently received one of those e-mails that touts the wisdom and gifts of age and asks if you’d trade those for the taut body, smooth skin and turkey-free neck of youth. The correct answer is supposed to be no. Bullshit. I’d give it all up just for a functioning vagina.

I came of age in the late 60’s, about the same time as the sexual revolution. I had just graduated from high school and turned 18. To mark the occasion, my mother took me to the doctor and had me put on the pill. Some of my peers received luggage. I took this as her blessing to screw my way deep into the double-digits and, over the next two decades, that’s exactly what I did. It was a time of bra-burning and free love and although I never actually burned my bra, a series of disastrous relationships over the years taught me that the guys were definitely getting a far better deal than I was on the “free love” end. This realization kicked in right around the same time as my hormones, and hence libido, took a nosedive. Too bad. Now, almost 20 years later, I sometimes think I might like to try again. Unfortunately, the pipes are rusted out at this point. Apparently, you have to fire up the engine every so often in order to keep things running. Who knew? Sure, I could have taken hormone replacement therapy, but we all know how that turned out. Would it really be asking so much for those parts to just come with a warning label? Use it or lose it.

I’m sure I could have married had I just had the good sense to fall in love with someone who was actually in love with me, but I think you really have to want to be married. I could never get with that whole sharing and compromise thing. They always expected me to do some. Also, having grown up with Donna Reed and The Brady Bunch as TV role models in a household where my mother more closely resembled Patty Duke in “Valley of the Dolls” and Dad was nowhere to be found, you’ll not be surprised by my ambivalence to the idea. Though now, at this stage of my life, with so many of my friends divorced and receiving nice, fat cash settlements and alimony for life, it is possibly my one regret.

I spent much of my life as a free-lance television writer, which means I spent much of my life unemployed. Last week I saw a homeless woman, all her worldly belongings piled haphazardly in an Albertson’s shopping cart, and couldn’t help but wonder if somewhere in there were all her unsold screenplays. I gave her twenty dollars, certain that the only real difference between us was that I had a better FICO score. Were it not for the abundance of credit card companies who were well aware of my complete lack of financial discipline and more than happy to support it, that woman might have been me. Although, even when things looked their murkiest, I have always believed “There’s always a way,” words drilled into me by my mother and, sure enough, something has come along just in time to pull my butt from the fire. I’ve often wondered how my mother could have had such faith when her life was so difficult and have concluded that while she couldn’t save herself, she was hell-bent on saving me… And she did.

I don’t worry much about the future. Maybe at my age I should start, but in truth not one moment is guaranteed to any of us, so it’s best to just enjoy where you are. Also, I am a person for whom immediate gratification is a religion. This is why I have no IRA, as well. Sometimes I watch The Suze Orman Show and imagine her going off on me in a rage, thinking it might get me to change my ways. It hasn’t. It’s become like watching The Food Network thinking it will motivate me to cook. Never happens. No, I’m afraid the thought of socking away money for some future need was just never a philosophy that took hold with me. Not when there were just so many great ways to spend it in the present. My passion and financial downfall have been horses, and I wouldn’t have missed a minute with them. What if I had sacrificed that joy only to die before I could spend what I’d saved? That would totally suck. And after all, there’s still that great FICO score. Much better to die up to my ass in debt and having had a helluva a good time. Besides, I’m sure one of those divorced friends of mine with money will take me in.

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