Choose Your Own Adventure, Coronavirus Edition

There are now an increasing number of stances you can take about being forced to stay home. The stances may be infinite for all I know, but let’s review the ones getting the most play.

There’s the Gratitude stance, which I personally find horrifying. This one is popular on Instagram, often with a stupid Buddhist-style image of a sunset and a silhouette of someone doing a yoga pose. It’s a sanctimonious sermon on how this pandemic can teach us to use the planet more gently, how we now have the opportunity to rethink our selfish ways, blah blah blah. It’s an awful slap in the face to anyone who is actually suffering. I refuse to be grateful for a pandemic. Fuck that idea and the horse it rode in on.

Then there’s the Scolding stance, another dreadful position that tries to make you feel bad for spending hours watching Netflix or staring at your phone. This one blames you for losing touch with your Inner Life and your creativity. What’s wrong with you! it gripes, You brainwashed consumer! Have you lost the ability to sit in a room and just be present? Please. As if.

Then there’s the Silver Lining stance. This is the one where you finally have the time to learn a new language, to read War and Peace, to finish that screenplay, to rearrange your living room, try out new recipes and to host zany get-togethers with your girlfriends on Zoom. It’s fun being home with free time! Let’s get busy!

There is also the Existential stance, and that’s the one I’ve chose for now, although it’s more accurate to say it’s chosen me. This is the one where you face down your dread, the continual dread of being alive but close to death. It’s the one where you realize your existence can be reduced to almost nothing, just eating and sleeping with some time-wasting stuff in between. You wonder why you bought all those clothes, all those stupid eye pencils and shoes and trinkets. Life is only about having someone to talk to, to hold you, and a decent bed to crawl into. Life is about waiting for something to happen but hoping it won’t be something awful or unbearable.

However, the last couple of weeks have brought some unexpectedly wonderful moments. I watched Jeopardy for the first time in probably twenty years, and one of the categories was “Otters.” I forgot the question, but it led to the revelation that otters hold hands while they sleep. This is the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard, and sure enough when I googled it, I found loads of pictures. I’m so glad to have discovered this, I can’t overstate the joy it has given me.

Also, in the same episode of Jeopardy, I was able to shout out a few questions before anyone hit the buzzer, a momentous burst of feeling intelligent that I haven’t experienced in ages. It reminded me of my mother, dying of cancer and watching Jeopardy in bed, crying out the word “Loyola!” in a weak but authoritative voice, and being correct.

As time passes, my stance may change. I wonder if I’m the only one who is mentally writing a will? In California, a handwritten will with your signature is legal and binding. I’ve already promised my tiger claw jewelry to my friend Marya and my footwear will go to Simone. Anyone want anything else? Now’s the time to speak up!

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Chillin in Paradise

A few years ago I asked Max what he’s been up to, I can’t remember if it was in a dream or just in my head. But I remember that he answered, “Just chillin.” He sounded relaxed and content.

Today is his birthday and he’s chillin in paradise. The force is with him and so am I, always and forever.

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Now is the Time

Now is the time to be grateful for your friends, even though they won’t come over. If you don’t have friends, now is the time to regret being such a cunt.

Now is the time to refuse to call anything “the new normal.” Nothing is normal any more. Don’t pretend it’s normal and don’t adapt to it if it isn’t.

Now is the time to stop fixating on toilet paper. Think of people in India who never had toilet paper. Think of the girls in third world countries who don’t have sanitary pads or tampons!

Now is the time to stay away from Twitter, where no one can do a single thing without incurring the wrath of a billion lunatics looking for the scapegoat du jour. That way madness lies, or you know, The New Madness.

Now is the time to avoid lists of fun things to do at home. You aren’t at summer camp. You’re under house arrest! Admit it!

Now is the time to be the person you wanted to be, instead of the person you are. Be the better person. Pretend to care about your neighbors and ask them what you can pick up for them when you go out to stand in line for water and Tylenol. Call or text everyone to ask if they need help with anything.

Now is the time to retain your sense of humor! Shit is still funny! I’m trying to prank an entity that invited me to attend a fake Women’s Summit in my city. Keep your fingers crossed that they take my bait!

Now is the time to experiment with make up. No one knows that in real life, you don’t wear blue lipstick. So now you can!

When everything is forbidden, you are free from the old rules!

That’s all I have for now, comrades. Let me know what’s on your minds.

~

*cartoon by Sam Wallman and Miroslav Sandev

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Life Without Instagram

Yesterday, when I tried to like something on Instagram, I got a little boxed message that said I could not take that action. No reason and no means of further discussion. I pretended it was just a glitch, but the box meant business.

I went to google why this had happened and learned that it usually meant they thought I was a spammer or a bot or some other kind of menace. But why? Apparently, if you leave the same comment too many times, it trips some algorithm.

Did I write “LOVE!” too many times?? That’s my typical comment, along with “Beautiful” and “Gorgeous.” That’s probably because I only follow photographers, stylists, tattooers, designers, models and jewelers. And I like to be supportive.

Occasionally, if it’s a really cute guy with long earrings and tight leggings, I comment “TOO HOT FOR ME!” with some little flame emojis. Is that so wrong??

Fucking Instagram.

Why am I even there? Why do I scroll through it incessantly, even when I’m watching TV? What is so addicting about my feed? Besides my effort to avoid having thoughts, is it a desire to be liked? Do I “like” stuff in order to be liked back or to indicate that I’m a really nice person? I truly have no idea. I know it’s something about occasional rewards that causes and maintains addictive behavior.

I didn’t think of Instagram as a negative entity like Twitter, which is just a rage-and-hatred recycling machine, but clearly it is not a plus in my life. My sense of anxiety and discomfort at being locked out is proof enough.

What if I could give up Instagram! All those hours could be applied to something else. Theoretically. Maybe I would actually read the things I have bookmarked, all those essays about serious matters like “Gen Z Shopping Habits” or  “Rumination: An overview.” Maybe I could at least put my phone down.

I plan to write more, because it forces me to organize the few thoughts I still have. It may also help with my waning word retrieval function, which caused a ten minute blockage of the word cucumber when I tried to remember what a pre-pickle is called.

Would you like to help out while you’re sequestered at home, wondering where to find bread or chicken? You can either help me figure out how to get right with Instagram, or suggest topics to write about.

Thanks! LOVE! BEAUTIFUL! TOO HOT FOR ME! (flame emoji flame emoji flame emoji)

Posted in Rants, Uncategorized, Words | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Virus Shmirus, Just Die Already

Before you go nuts, let me clarify that I’m referring to the old-and-sick. If you’re elderly with “underlying health conditions”, maybe your time is up. Maybe we weren’t meant to live lives extended by pharmaceuticals and pacemakers and stents. The planet can only bear so many people, remember?

I thinks it’s amazing to see normal healthy people hoarding toilet paper and going around wearing masks. If they would read the statistics, they would see how little their actual risk is. Being sick is awful, of course, but a virus that threatens the health of the elderly is not going to fuck you up if you’re outside this group. If you have a compromised immune system, you probably already practice safety measures in your everyday life.

Humans are so tenacious of life, it strikes me as poignant all the time. I have a friend in his 60s who goes around freaking out about an oil refinery a few miles away from his community. He’s afraid it will explode or be targeted by terrorists. I mean, those are real possibilities but what makes him worry about it so continuously? I’ve exclaimed to him more than once, “You really love life, don’t you!”

To constantly be aware of what catastrophes might befall you is to be absent from your immediate experience. How can you drive anywhere when the car coming toward you could smash into you at any moment? When you go to a movie, a fire might break out, or a guy in a batman outfit could burst in with an assault rifle. When you eat a chicken wing or a hotdog, you’re just minutes away from choking to death.

Real threats should be avoided, unless you’re a daredevil. I just read a sobering article in the New Yorker about mountain climbers and the grief their families must learn to process. They know it’s part of the territory but the climbers themselves are driven to test their mortality again and again. I’m not sure if they’re nuts or just wired differently. I wonder if they give a shit about the coronavirus.

There are so many ways I don’t want to die! I don’t want to be eaten by a polar bear. That’s at the top of my list. I don’t want to have my head chopped off or be set on fire. Oh wait, I don’t want to be trampled to death on a pilgrimage to Mecca or after a soccer game. I don’t want to die under a pile of metal shelves in CVS during an earthquake.

The right time to die is when I’m old and sick, in my own bed. That’s the best place for everyone to go, even though in the US, that privilege is only granted to around 17% of us. If the coronavirus wiped out ten per cent of the sick elderly people who become infected, that would leave more room for everyone else. Maybe millennials and Gen Z would be more open to the idea of procreating.

I discussed this with a Gen Xer last night and he was impresses by my “zen attitude.” I like that he didn’t accuse me of speaking from depression. I am depressed but obviously I’m not looking to die on purpose since there are plenty of opportunities for that.

I just see the value of thinning the herd.

What about you scaredy-cats? How much Purel have you got on hand? Or toilet paper?

Photo (c) courtesy of  Dr. LaRue

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Hideous Denim: Now It’s Personal

On my way into a Nordstrom dressing room, I grabbed this denim jacket that was hanging near the entrance. Just trying to amuse myself, although my actual selections were nearly as awful and inappropriate. The salesperson who unlocked the fitting room door was decked out in eye-bruising psychedelic prints, with some crazy glittery Converse shoes.

I praised the shoes and he said they were a collaboration with “a designer named JW Anderson.” He seemed shocked that I knew the designer. Was it because I’m a hundred years old? Or because I was holding this hideous, $250 piece of shit from Topshop??

If you are what you wear, a lot of people are not only nuts, but blind too. I was happy to get this photo but it’s safe to say that most hideous denim exists not as private jokes but as genuine bait for the rich and clueless. It just never stops! Year after year, the denim atrocities flood shopping sites and landfills. It’s the one sure thing after death and taxes.

Here are a few new “pieces” for you to contemplate. If your central aim is to look unattractive, the following will fit the bill:

Classically misconceived shorts by Lowe, featuring the dreaded front pleats, a wide hipped silhouette and an awkward length.$650.

Or for a few more bucks and equally unflattering, these Natalie Ratebisi high-waisted jeans with darts, pleats and camel-toe, just $725.

How about a skirt?

R13 never disappoints when it comes to overpriced pseudo-hipster crap. This stretch-denim leopard-print skirt with chewed edges features an asymmetrical crossover waist. How cute with some fake Dr. Martens and an expensive white T? A bargain at $495.

Now let’s see what the luxury designers are doing with denim, starting with Carolina Herrera.

Front slits and self-tie waist-sash make these denim pants a baffling choice for any occasion, right? I mean, what would you wear them with? I just can’t even. $1,090.

Unravel is a horrible upscale brand that’s always trying to punk us with their stupid laughable designs, kind of like Y Project and their denim panties. Here’s a key piece for Spring.

All the bells and whistles for $1,145. Fuckers.

Finally, because I’m getting depressed, here’s a jumpsuit by Isabel Marant, the brand that’s supposed to be the essence of French cool-girl style.

At least it looks comfortable, except when you have to pee, of course. Just $550 

 

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Academy Awards 2020 Exegesis

By popular demand, I’m going to do a halfhearted and highly truncated review of the show, focusing on the musical performances, okay? Here we go:

Janelle Monae opened the show and even though it was a wildly all-over-the-place showbiz mishmash, she is a great performer who deserves our praise. She’s come a long way from an obscure fashion darling with a great Rockability look, to queer-spokeswoman Superstar. If she’s good enough for Prince, she should be good enough for you. She can sing, she can dance, she’s really pretty and she still has great style. You go, Janelle.

Idina Menzel is still someone who I don’t know anything about. I don’t like her name. It sounds like a marriage counselor who won’t be able to solve your problems. Whatever. She has great big pipes like an American Idol contestant and she wore a questionable Princess dress. I don’t know why there were a hundred other singers onstage who shouted along in foreign languages. Do you? It was stupid. Sorry, Rosetta Stone and Babble users.

Elton John was probably good but all I could focus on was the big lacquer red piano. It was so beautiful! I want one. Who doesn’t love lacquer red, especially in a piano or home appliance? I like the purple suit with the red, one of my favorite color  combinations. We will miss Elton when he’s gone, even if we’re sick of him at the moment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cynthia Erivo was fantastic, singing the song from her movie about Harriet Tubman. I had no idea that she was a singer! And Tony-winning Broadway star! Her performance was flawless, unlike her acting in the stupid Steven King series I’m watching on Netflix. What’s it called? She plays a weird psychic detective. It’s a terrible role and not her fault.

Crissy Metz is too fucking fat. Come at me, body-acceptance militants and fat-apologists! Too fat is too fat. It’s scary and unhealthy. Just admit what your eyes are telling you. I can’t say anything about her performance, obviously, because I’m such a big meanie that I didn’t notice her voice.

Billie Eilish singing “Yesterday” was surprisingly great. Surprising to me, since I have been braced to dislike her, given all the hype about her and her kooky green hair. But what a talented girl! She’s clearly on a bummer, and I can relate. At only 17, it’s quite a mature bummer, bringing to mind the young Fiona Apple. I think Billie will be a force in music much longer than Fiona was. I hope so.

Eminem was a big deal, apparently baffling the entire world with his appearance. Personally, I wasn’t baffled, just thrilled to see him, even though he could lose the beard, right ladies? He’s still a thrilling presence on stage, and dynamic as ever, even though someone criticized him for being winded at the end. I will have sex with him ANY DAY. Here’s what I wrote about him in 2011, and I’m standing by it:

Eminem confirmed his status as the rapper we’d most like to have sex with. An angry ball of rage, Eminem is on fire! He is the Ryan Gosling of rap. Talent plus intensity plus physical charisma = YES.

If there was anyone else, too bad for them.

There you have it. I hope you’re satisfied, you, the people!

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The Splinter

Yesterday, my sister and I visited our favorite jewelry shop, Nobel Jewelry in Santa Monica. From the outside it looks like a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, but inside it is a glittering wonderland of beautifully displayed antique jewels. You can get a chain repaired for a few bucks, or you can purchase an Art Deco diamond engagement ring for $20,000. You can also chat with the owners, Ken and Kia, a pair of charming guys who emigrated from Persia with their family when they were boys.

So my sister had some things that needed repairs, and I wanted to argue about rings, and as we prepared to leave, Ken asked if we wanted to see a diamond he’d just acquired. It was a ring he had to get from the window, a spectacular European cut diamond solitaire. He offered up his jeweler’s loupe so we could appreciate its unique properties.

I asked Ken if I could use the loupe to look at the splinter in my thumb, which has been driving me nuts. I got it from an attack by a potted cactus on my front porch, nearly a month ago. My husband  couldn’t extract it and neither could I. I had gone to my doctor to get it out, and she ended up saying, “I think I got it but maybe not all of it.”

She didn’t get “all of it”, as it was getting swollen and now I could barely use my thumb.

So Ken said, “You have a splinter? Let me see!” He seemed concerned. He looked at it and said, “That must hurt.” He looked through his loupe and exclaimed, “That’s been in there a long time!” Then he announced, “I’ll get it out for you.”

He disappeared into a back room and my sister looked at me with fear and wonder. She asked me if I was really going to proceed with this. Ken came back with some alcohol, a needle nose tweezers and a visor thing with goggles. He bent over my thumb and started to work.

It took a while. It hurt but I trusted him implicitly, such was his confident and gentle manner. While he was at it, a guy came to the shop’s locked iron gate and Ken called out, “I’ll be right with you.” I told him he could stop to let the customer in, but he was lost in his efforts. I told my sister, “Go engage that guy to keep him there! Ask him how his day is going!” But the guy was gone.

Finally, Ken got the splinter. He said triumphantly, “No wonder this hurt.” He lay the splinter on my thumb and told my sister to take a picture with her phone. We both said FUCK! appreciatively; it was a long sharp cactus thingy.

Ken got some antibiotic cream and covered the hole in my thumb. I got a band-aid from my purse and he wrapped it around my thumb. Now Ken and I were bonded forever. We were both elated. He revealed that he was all too familiar with splinters, it was part of his work as a jeweler.

We stood in the glow of our shared trust and gratitude, and I tried to remember a fable about a mouse who gets a splinter out of a lion’s paw. I couldn’t remember how it ended. I hoped the lion didn’t eat the mouse for his trouble.

I shook Ken’s hand with my good one, and wandered out of the store, my faith in humanity kindled like never before and knowing that even if I died from a flesh-eating bacteria, it would make a great story.

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J Lo and Shakira: Empowering, their asses!

What the hell is wrong with people? Even the New York Times is applauding the Superbowl half-time show as “empowering” for women! Some crap about proving that age is just a number, because look how hot J. Lo is at fifty years old!

PLEASE tell me that you agree with me, that the show was as disempowering to women as if they’d been scrubbing dishes on their hands and knees.

What is empowering about women having to wear stripper outfits and shake their asses? What is empowering about the hours spent getting hair extensions and spray tans and investing in personal trainers? I see it’s empowering for the people who provide the services and for the cosmetic surgery industry but for women?? Bitch please.

It’s not empowering to feel you must look like you’re in your twenties when you’re fifty. It seems sad to me. Even Brad Pitt is allowed to look weathered. It seems like oppression. Maybe in the age of Trump, oppression is empowering?

Shakira is gorgeous and I have to say she’s a really good dancer. She looks like a fit 43 year old. Not a miracle of make-up and hair professionals, but a genuine babe, you know? Good for her.

But most of the accolades are going to Jennifer Lopez, who makes it look SO HARD, with every step and ass-wiggle seeming to visibly cause her anxiety. When is desperation empowering? When she sang something about “I’m still Jenny from the block” my husband and I both laughed out loud.

Jesus Christ, empowering my flat ass.

As for Demi Lovato singing the National Anthem, I’m relieved for her that she lived through it but what about just taking a knee??

And no, I didn’t watch the whole show or any of the actual game, so don’t start with me.

While I’m here, let me quote a recent message from a reader:

Damn, you’ve got some serious self-loathing going on. Someone in standard issue old-lady-red lipstick should maybe throttle back the ageist bullshit.

Haha, not a chance of throttling back anything! I’m just trying to make America great again.

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Brad and Jen, YES!!!

Fuck you people who are all “Who cares about Brad and Jen!” like you’re above all that stupid gossip. YOU ARE THE STUPID ONES. Brad and Jen can bring this country together, if you’d just let them!

Brad and Jen, or is it Jen and Brad? You’d think I would know, given how many stories I made up when I worked for the tabloids. All the years of those fake magazine covers…I just saw one tonight that said, “Brad finally introduces Jen to his children, now they’re a real family!” As if!

We made fun of them, sure, but now is the time to turn our lonely eyes to Brad and Jen. They are mom and dad, the people next door, they are you and me! They can go through a million traumas and still patch things up! Let them! In fact, MAKE THEM DO IT, for their country.

If Brad and Jen are you and me, let Angelina be Trump, the larger-than-life monster who deceives everyone into thinking she/he can make our dreams come true. Soon, Angelina/Trump could no longer maintain the ruse. She/he was actually a maniac who would do anything to hurt and humiliate us!

Poor Brad was fooled by those big lips and those adopted children. He lost himself. Everyone knows that Brad morphs into someone new each time he changes girlfriends. With Gwyneth he was one thing, with Jen he was another. With Jen, he was his Best Self, and we know how important it is to be your Best Self. With Jen, Brad could sit around all day smoking weed and minding his own business. With Angelina, he had to be Mister International, flying around pretending to care about shit.

And Jen! She had to marry that awful guy with the big dick, what was his name? Anyway, what a gigolo he turned out to be, no surprise there, right? We knew it wouldn’t last even if Jen didn’t.

Now Jen has her dream house and all her friends and she is good without having children because a woman can be fulfilled without being a mother, god damn you haters. STOP MAKING HER EXPLAIN HERSELF.

Jen is in great shape for 50 and has never been happier, alright? And Brad has been taking time to think about what really matters. I saw this in GQ, so I know. He’s been rethinking his priorities. And god knows he’s learned his lesson about hooking up with a big-lipped woman who won’t eat and keeps acquiring kids who she then turns against him.

Let Brad and Jen be happy. Let them rediscover how great it is to just sit at home and smoke weed. Let them patch up their production company and start looking for a project they can star in. Let them go to their plastic surgeons together and maybe loosen up their faces. Their faces are starting to look like puppets. But at least they eat!

Let’s come together, people. It’s time. We need to heal and we need to start now, as the impeachment threatens to erase what’s left of our common humanity.

Thank you Brad and Jen! All is forgiven! Begin your new journey together, preferably with a star-studded wedding, and just allow us to love your Best Selves. God bless you and God Bless America.

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