Show and Tell

The first time I saw an erect penis it was crammed down my throat before I could say “Ew.” I was a reckless kid who nobody loved, so I agreed to go behind the neighborhood bowling alley with an awful redheaded boy, hoping he would let me wear his Saint Christopher medal. His name was either Kenny or Ted; both names make me gag.

A couple of years later, still reckless, I hitchhiked everywhere, and the guys who picked me up were usually friendly, even the ones who managed to unzip their pants while driving. Suddenly, out sprang their dicks and the offer of a dollar to touch “it.” There was no way of guessing which guy might do this. Well dressed or slob, jalopy or brand new Cadillac, it was a crap shoot. No one ever stopped me from getting out. They were disgruntled, the ones with their dicks out, but they handled their disappointment pretty well.

Now, with Louis CK in mind, I have to wonder what drives men to show their dick to women who’ve expressed no interest in seeing it. In Louis CK’s case, the idea was obviously to shock or cause discomfort. But that seems like a genuine perversion. It’s hard to believe most men think of their penises this way.

But since women don’t go around forcing people to look at their genitals, I think it’s fair to call it a Man thing. What is behind this behavior? I tried thinking about it from a Freudian perspective. Maybe, when little boys first see their dad’s penis, they are overwhelmed by its size. This instills a worry about their own tiny penis. Will they ever measure up? The worry permeates their entire existence. Then once their own penis is full grown, they feel a need to say, “LOOK! ” They are proud, but still there’s that fundamental insecurity. All women represent Mommy, as we know. So he’s saying, “See, Mommy? I’m as big as Dad!”

No? Not buying that? How about a primal fear that the dick will somehow disappear. They have to keep presenting it for approval. It’s still there! Yay!

Or, is it just the physical version of mansplaining? Instead of clobbering you verbally with their superiority,  they want you to shut up and look at their dick. “Get a load of this, sister!” It’s an explanation that needs no explanation.

Having seen my share of penises, both willingly and otherwise, I think I have a healthy appreciation of them. One in particular, as I am happily married. Scrolling through Tumblr, when a dick pops up on my dashboard, I admit to feeling slightly offended. My feeling is mostly, “Go away, I didn’t ask for you.” I wonder if teenage girls are immune to images of dicks? From the sound of it, dick pics are a form of communication among our youth. Maybe when these teens grow up, the men will be less likely to use their dicks Louis CK-style, as an instrument of horror.

I believe I speak for most women when I say, Please keep your penis in your pants unless we specifically ask to see it and/or consensual sex is about to take place. Is that so hard, ahem?

Men, can you enlighten us on the mystery of your show and tell behavior? Ladies, your thoughts?

Posted in Disorders, News | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

What’s Wrong With Me, Volume 500

what's wrong with me, volume 500

All my life, I’ve wondered what the fuck is wrong with me. I’m curious and reflective by nature, and relentless about trying to figure shit out.

I find it amazing that other people aren’t consumed by questions about their own psyche but I accept that most people are focused on other matters. Good for them.

Me, I know I’m fucked up. Chronically depressed is one way for me to understand why I’m always sad, tired, hopeless, and easily annoyed. But it isn’t enough. There is also a complete lack of will to do anything useful.

As a teenager, I was thrilled to discover the term neurasthenic. What a romantic-sounding Victorian condition, and one that seemed to cover all my bases. I could think of myself lying on a velvet fainting couch, one pale arm dangling listlessly toward the floor. Neurotic doesn’t sound as appealing. That goes double for Fibromyalgia.

So imagine my excitement at discovering a WHOLE NEW DIAGNOSIS that doesn’t even exist yet in the US. Ready? It’s called PDA, or Pathological Demand Avoidance. It’s considered “a behaviour profile within the autism spectrum.”

Those who present with this particular diagnostic profile are driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations to an extreme extent. This demand avoidant behaviour is rooted in an anxiety-based need to be in control.

Well, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as autistic, but the description feels so right, so resonant, so me:

    • resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life
    • uses social strategies as part of avoidance, eg distracting, giving excuses
    • appears sociable, but lacks understanding
    • experiences excessive mood swings and impulsivity
    • appears comfortable in role play and pretence
    • displays obsessive behaviour that is often focused on other people.

Furthermore, “People with this profile can appear controlling and dominating, especially when they feel anxious. However, they can also be enigmatic and charming when they feel secure and in control. It’s important to acknowledge that these people have a hidden disability. ”

Godammit! I have a fucking disability! I would like one of those things for my car. I want everyone to know that IT’S NOT MY FAULT. Instead of regarding myself as the laziest person on earth, or some kind of incurable renegade, I can explain my entire life with PDA.

It’s the reason I didn’t go to high school, didn’t learn a trade or profession, didn’t want to apply for any job unless it was absolutely imperative, and managed to get fired from nearly every one of them. It’s a feeling of NO, I WON’T that is underlaid with a profound sense of BECAUSE I CAN’T.

PDA diagnoses are split equally between the sexes, unlike other ASD’s. Maybe having a Girlie Brain is another feature of PDA, for all I know. Or maybe it has helped me to work around it.

When we look at our own behavior, or the behavior of others, we tend to see it through a particular lens. If we don’t believe in psychology or genetics, we label rude people as assholes. We can label reclusive people “unsociable”. If you’re in Al-Anon, you view people as “enablers” or Co-dependent. Using a lens informed by a wider understanding, you might suspect that someone is autistic, or bi-polar, or suffering from social anxiety. The more you know about brain science and genetics, the more you can appreciate the complexities of personality and behavior.

Just as we know that Donald Trump is a monumental cunt, we understand that he is driven by pathological neediness and insecurity. It doesn’t help us, but it’s just good to know.

Now I’m relieved to know (i.e., believe) that I’m not a lazy underachieving piece of shit, but rather a poor thing with a Disability. So there, haters.

Thoughts, arguments, or counter-diagnoses?


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What, There’s Another Hadid Sister??

Godammit, why am I the last to know EVERYTHING? Did you guys know there’s another Hadid sister besides Gigi and Bella? This is too much. Or rather, too many. Three too many, actually.

Until recently, I knew next to nothing about Bella. Gigi was the one I thought of as the blight on youth culture and fashion. Her soft butterface is everywhere. She always has the same expression, like she’s not quite awake. She looks like a spoiled rich kid from some obscure Eastern European republic. And she’s often pictured with Kendall Jenner, striding down a street pretending not to notice the paparazzi.

what theres another hadid sister

She is also the face of Maybelline or Cover Girl, tainting all my magazines with her sullen pout and weirdly arched eyebrows. She makes me remember that I used to watch the Housewives of Beverly Hills, which featured her mom, a giant blonde gold-digger who I suspected of being a man.

I was vaguely aware of Bella, who is kind of the consolation-prize sister, not blonde and not as pubescently squishy. It turns out that Bella is a big deal in her own right. She’s probably dating an important hip hop artist or NBA star.

My adopted daughter Ali told me about an interview Bella did with Complex magazine that had caused a ruckus. When I hesitated, explaining that I was detoxing from  celebrities, she assured me that it had deep cultural relevance, and she was right.

Bella is the stupidest girl in the world. You will cringe and you will wish you were never born but you will thank me for posting this video.Without it, you just can’t grasp what the world has come to.

So that’s Bella.

But why do we need Alana? What’s the point of her? Why doesn’t she change her name and move somewhere out of the spotlight? I think she’s pretending to be a designer of some kind but I want to not think about her. You can read about her here but don’t come back and tell me anything.

What if there’s a fourth sister?!??

These Hadid girls are a symbol of our decline as much as Donald Trump is, all of them nails in the coffin of civilization.  Thoughts and prayers to all us.

Posted in Celebrities, irritants, Rants, Words | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Has This Happened to You? *TRIGGER WARNING

You’re getting ready to go to a Halloween party and you’re going as Axl Rose. You’ve got your bandanna on and a t-shirt and you’re struggling to get your leather pants zipped up.

They fit okay a couple of years ago when you wore them to a Thanksgiving dinner where you brought a hand-crafted turkey centerpiece made out of Popsicle sticks and colored paper. But now you feel like a bursting leather sausage. So you say, Fuck this, and you go find your other leather pants, the looser ones, but the waist is tight and the rest is too big.

So now you don’t even want to be Axl. Fuck him and fuck everything. You’re a fat whale with no reason to live. None. You have reached a precipice; you should take your leather pants and jump off it. Or if not a precipice, then a milestone. The one where you turn your back on leather pants and relax in a cotton floral housecoat, your legs mapped with varicose veins and your swollen feel stuffed into slipper socks with the non-skid soles.

You can go around like that old lady in a (trigger warning!) Woody Allen film croaking “I was once a great beauty” to anyone who’ll listen.

But then you pull yourself together. You have to go to the party. Your partner is going as Slash. You’ve RSVP’d. So you decide to default to (trigger warning!) Slutty Axl. As long as you have fishnets you can be Slutty Anything. So you put on the fishnet tights and find the tartan skirt you promised to send to a friend in her 20s because Grandma Schoolgirl is just not your preferred self-image, even for Halloween.

Now you’ve pulled it out. So to speak. You still feel a little tragic. You had to compromise, and you know that you’re a pregnant-looking orca but at least now you can wear lipstick and mascara, Because Slut. You jab the mascara in your eye but still valiantly walk out the door on time.

You get to the party and have a drink, feeling your self-hatred fade away like a dream as you behold a girl dressed like Mia from Pulp Fiction, with a bloody nose and a giant syringe sticking out of her chest.

Posted in Art, Disorders, Fashion | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Your Lipstick Hunt is Over.

Cult objects of desire are always disappointing, with one exception.

Make-up artist Pat McGrath’s lipsticks really are the most wonderful thing in the whole world (right after babies, of course!)

They are everything you ever hoped for in a lipstick, and more. The case is adorable and kind of stupid, with a nice heft and a good confirmatory click. The pigment is unbelievably rich. It glides on like silk underpants. I don’t know, I made that part up. But it is definitely silky, smooth and light as a whisper. I can’t write this kind of crap! What does “light as a whisper” mean? It feels light, okay? Here’s a bunch of literary similes for “light as…”

It is so dope, you won’t resent spending $38 for it. You will THANK IT for only costing $38. Tom Ford lipstick is $54, not that I would ever consider buying it. All his sickening fragrances smell like room-spray, as I’m sure you all know.

I got the MatteTrance color Elson, a deep blue red. If you don’t like a matte formula, there are creamy colors too.

You can order online at Sephora or find it in real life at ‘select’ stores. You can also get it at Pat McGrath’s website, where I borrowed this picture.*

*My husband said it looks just like my bathroom! What greater compliment can a woman ask for?

Posted in Art, News, Words | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

The Ballad of Harvey Weinstein

Relax, this isn’t about Harvey Weinstein. I’ve already dealt with him here.

But since he’s still the Outrage du Jour, I commented on a Facebook thread about him by saying, “Why don’t these fat pigs just pay prostitutes instead of going around ruining people’s lives?” It was a rhetorical question but someone came back at me with something like, “Why do you want sex-workers to be mistreated? And what does body size have to do with this?”

Jesus! I will leave it to you to evaluate the self-righteous absurdity of that response.

I now realize that I will never, ever, be able to keep up with progressives. This makes me sad. Have they just gone too far or is it an age thing? Maybe I’m too old to learn the new rules. I think I even call my mailman “the mailman” instead of “the mail-carrier.”

I certainly think that Weinstein is a fat pig. So many predators and bullies are fat pigs! Here’s a collage that Max made for me, for a post I wrote in 2009.

I don’t see why we have to worry about fat-shaming our cultural villains, if they’re fat. We need to have some leeway with language or we won’t be able to speak at all. We old people especially have trouble with retrieving words and we shouldn’t be penalized for calling prostitutes prostitutes, for example.

Words are still a joy for me, even though they are evaporating from my memory bank in huge quantities. Today, when Obama staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco called Donald Trump a deranged animal, I felt a spark of joy, literally. I could feel my neural synapses light up and go ping.

Good call! I thought. And later, back to Facebook, I couldn’t stop laughing when a friend wrote:

My favorite pants right now are Eileen Fisher. Who even am I?

As long as I can still use and enjoy words, I will probably be able to put up with everything, including Harvey Weinstein. I’m just hoping we can quickly move on to the question of why that beautiful Marchesa woman married him, even if it’s gold-digger shaming.

Posted in News, Words | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Armchair Psychology

armchair psychologyOnce upon a time, people used to accuse other people of being anal retentive, or just “anal.” You could also get a reaction by calling people “neurotic.” Remember “nymphomaniac?” That was a word used to shame girls who liked sex, even though it referred to a compulsion that couldn’t be satisfied.

Today, it’s “narcissist.” People throw this term around like it’s fairy dust, meant to undermine or discredit anyone you don’t like. In fact, only around 1% of people are narcissists in the clinical sense.

To some degree, narcissistic traits are healthy and useful. But the label Narcissist should be applied with care, unless you want words to stop having meaning, in which case I hope you’re good at interpretive dance. I think it’s safe to say that Trump is a narcissist, and maybe my dad, who wasn’t interested in anything that didn’t mirror his sense of his own wonderfulness.

Some poor children who hate their mommies are still writing to me, to offer their diagnosis of my narcissism. Again, please study your DSM. I am profoundly depressed, with some PTSD. Got it? Self-help culture has confused a whole bunch of fragile, angry Adult Children. Some of them don’t even understand satire. It’s probably Mommy’s fault.

Anyway! On SNL the other night, Pete Davidson did a sketch about depression, and his recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. If you thought he was joking, he was, but not about his disorder. He is not ashamed of his diagnosis, and he can see the funny side of suffering. He is going to help remove the stigma of mental illness, and god bless him.

Borderline Personality Disorder is a tough one. It’s core conflict is “I Hate you, Don’t Leave Me,” the title of a really good book on the subject. People who tell you about their psychotic ex will often accuse them of being Borderlines. What they usually mean is that the ex dumped them abruptly without explanation and they are fucking furious as well as hurt and baffled.

I love abnormal psychology! I have shelves of books on various disorders, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, of course, and some good ones on OCD. OCD is particularly poignant, I think. Especially the kind where you think you ran over someone in your car and have to keep driving back to check. Personally, I have no OCD traits but don’t worry, I have plenty of trouble without them.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing is kind of a fatuous cliche but it applies pretty well to psychology. How many times have you yelled “You’re projecting!” during an argument? Or what about “control-freak?” If you’re mean, you probably like to accuse people of being “too sensitive!”

Those of us who live with mental illness are keenly aware, for the most part, of our challenges. If you want to call us names, just stick with “nuts” unless you know what you’re talking about.

And here’s something exciting: I’ve discovered a brand new disorder that might explain my entire life!!! I have to discuss it with my psychiatrist before I announce it, but as awful as it is, I’m prepared to joke about it. Gallows humor is not only my brand, it’s my life force. I don’t mean this in a narcissistic way – I’M JUST SAYING.

Thoughts, delusions or rationalizations, anyone?

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The Stupidest Man in the World

I know you know, but I want you to hurt like I do. Every once in a while, you might forget how stupid and awful this bastard is, but don’t. Keep it at the forefront of your conscious mind. That way, you will join a march, make some noise, and tell the world that Trump is not your President!

Try to think of one person who would make a worse President.

There isn’t anyone.

Even Mitch McConnell, hateful prick that he is, could not do a worse job. He can probably speak in coherent sentences, at least. And he might know to be sad when people die. Or to not throw rolls of paper towels at them.

WHY???? Why do we need to endure this crap? Everyone knows he’s a clown, a senile dim bulb with no empathy or humanity.

In the fairy tale, a kid could announce, “The Emperor has no clothes!” and that would be that, game over. In real life, we have to wait for a tape of Trump in bed with Ivanka AND Jared before this nightmare is over.

Every fucking day with this moron.

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Last night, I was trying not to think of the things that were bothering me (largely Trump, along with some other stuff) when the word “stigmata” popped into my head. I don’t know why. I’ve always liked the sound of the word and the actual phenomenon too.

Just say it aloud: STIGMATA! It’s a winner every time.

So I googled stigmata and forgot all about my troubles (and yours.)


St. Gemma Galgani, above, was a real pain in the ass, apparently. I guess it’s part of being a saint. She also levitated.

Stigmata can occur in regular people, ahem, and here’s what an expert says:

History has shown that the stigmata can occur in a wide variety of persons, circumstances and conditions. While the vast majority of recipients have been women (90%), and most of them religious nuns, it has occurred numerous times throughout the centuries in a number of lay men and women, single and married. From the 1980’s to today for example it has (allegedly) occurred in the young married Catholic woman named Myrna Nazzour of Damascus, Syria and also in a retired married Catholic man from Michigan named Irving “Francis” Houle who died in 2009.

Uh-oh. I don’t like that “stigmatics” are usually women. It sounds suspiciously like fibromyalgia, only messier. But here’s something interesting, from the same expert:

… in regards to the blood that comes forth from the stigmatised wounds, this writer has found that in almost every case that I have researched, there is reported an accompanying sweet, flowery odor that emanates from the blood itself.

Whoa. That is worrisome, if you know what I mean.

Therese Neumann, below, was a total mess. She suffered and suffered and suffered.

I’m beginning to think these “stigmatists” are a teeny bit masochistic. Sister Consolata Betrone wrote “It is my fate to die in little pieces”. Sadly, she died of tuberculosis instead.

Rhoda Wise, below, had the usual hand stigmata but was also blessed with the “crown of thorns” bleeding from the forehead.

I know you’ve probably had enough but just let me sneak in a picture of Teresa Musco:

There is so much to learn, and marvel at, about stigmata. At one point in my research, I couldn’t help but laugh, as Oscar Wilde said about the death of Little Nell.  Laughing is good! We need all the laughs we can get. And in case you’re worried that I’m losing my mind, I wrote about stigmata back in 2007. So there.

I would almost call it a guilty pleasure, but since I’m not Catholic, it’s a guilt-free pleasure. If I go to hell, I’ll let you know.

Posted in Art, Disorders, Horrible Stuff, Religion, Words | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

I Don’t Practice Santeria

I don't practice santeria

Saint Clare intervenes to save a child from a wolf. Giovanni di Paolo, 1455

But I do love a botanica. I just found another one in Long Beach, hidden on a side street but filled with a million delights. Shelves that nearly reached the ceiling were stocked with perfumes, oils, cleaning sprays, amulets, religious figurines, herbs, and candles.

I grabbed a bottle of Arazza Todo oil for a friend, and a pretty teenager with blood red hair asked if I needed help. YES, I told her, and asked in a cheery voice: “What do you have if your kid hates you?”

She led me to a candle labeled Santa Clara, and said mothers used it to pray for the well-being of their children.  She added that the shop’s owner sometimes turns on three candles at once, arranged around a bowl of water. I love the idea of turning on a candle! I might have to go back there to buy a “Court” candle that you turn on if you’re in legal trouble. My kid who hates me has threatened a restraining order against me because I can’t stop sending him email.

[Note to you kids who hate mommy on Reddit: fuck off. This isn’t about you.]

Now that I’m home, I’ve turned on my candle and burned a stick of palo santo to cleanse my house of bad vibes. I can’t actually pray, because duh, atheist, but I can speak to the candle in a tone of respect, like I speak to clothes hangers or things I trip over.

It occurs to me that my reactions to my kid breaking up with me are similar to symptoms of PTSD: Irritability, hostility, fear, rumination, insomnia and nightmares. It is traumatic, after all. One minute it’s Where’s the clean towels? and the next minute, Please leave me and my family alone.

In my most morbid moments, I wonder if I’ll get to hold my child again before I die, maybe because of all the biopsies. In calmer moments, I figure that none of this matters. Life is but a dream. You’re here, stuff happens, and then you’re gone, poof. Why agonize about anything?

Posted in Disorders, Religion, Words | Tagged , , | 5 Comments