The Furnace.

My post The Mystery Ship was one of my most popular posts. Here’s another childhood memoir from over two years ago I wrote in the same spirit as that essay.

Originally posted on June 15, 2015

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In 1968 our family moved to a Dutch Colonial three-story house built in the 1920s. We only lived there for five years, but the memory of that house is etched into my mind like veins of quartz in granite. Some other time I’ll write about how cool the entire house was, but right now my concern is the old oil furnace that lived in the basement.

Yes, it lived there. It wasn’t hard to imagine that furnace was alive. It had a personality.

Its squat rotund body stood in the sooty gray-concrete corner like a Russian sentinel from a lost age. Its concrete exterior had been painted what appeared to have been white in the distant past, but had turned a dirty tan with age. Rust stains snaked along it like varicose veins. Tumors of soot embedded themselves here and there and filled its crevices. The furnace was covered with guages and meters relating information about the furnace’s internal state my young mind couldn’t understand.

Snaking from the furnace were too many old iron pipes to count. Some were painted what had once been white but were now pock-marked with rust the color of old blood, others were unpainted and rusted over completely, and a few had been replaced with more modern steel pipes that looked out of place. All these pipes stuck out of the furnace like limbs, and converged along the ceiling, delivering their payload of heat to the house that was home to the inhabitants that that served it so lovingly.

The furnace chugged along in the cold months, clanking and blatting and hissing in its corner. Sometimes it leaked hot water all over the peeling painted cement floor around it. Other times it farted black smoke. There were a few times the entire basement was filled with its sooty miasma, and you couldn’t go down there. It was probably dangerous. I used to wonder sometimes if the old furnace might explode when it did that. I was assured it was safe but I never was sure.

Sometimes the furnace scared me when it did that. It also scared me when it made more hissing and clanking sounds than normal. I used to think it was angry that it had to live in the ugly damp unfinished basement and the only light it ever saw was the dim gray light that filtered through the filthy slit-like windows that dotted the white painted brick wall near the ceiling. Those windows were veiled with spider webs and caked with soot. Even my clean freak mother, who had a meltdown if she saw so much as a gum wrapper anywhere else in the house, never did anything with the basement windows. The basement was the one place she allowed to get dirty, except for the laundry room, which had been partially modernized with a carpet, fluorescent lights, and acoustic tile ceiling. The rest of the basement was lit–barely–with bare incandescent bulbs screwed in between the ceiling rafters and operated by metal pull-chains. An old rusted (but working) toilet sat in a tiny closet with only one bare bulb screwed overhead, and no sink.

I used a tiny room that at one time had been used for canning as my escape from the dysfunction that regularly went on up above. My bedroom was too close to the master bedroom, and offered little refuge from the oppressive tension and constant arguing. My basement room was outfitted with a metal desk with wood grain Formica where I did all my homework, and an old piece of salvaged carpet. The canning shelves housed my Barbie dolls and all their accoutrements. The cinder block walls were painted mint-green. A small painted shelf sat above the desk, and my favorite books made their home there. I loved my books. They opened parallel universes in which I could escape from my painful reality.

I’d stay in my little room for hours at a time, barely aware of anything except the world of my books and Barbies. Although I had a probably healthy caution of the furnace and didn’t like to get too close to it because it was so unpredictable, its clanking and hissing noises, when they weren’t too loud, were comforting to me. Its grumpiness and isolated loneliness reflected my own state of mind most of the time. I could relate to it.

Occasionally after one of its sooty temper tantrums, a serviceman would come and minister to it like a doctor on house-call, and then the furnace would be happy again. If a psychiatrist could have given the furnace a diagnosis, I bet it would be Borderline Personality Disorder.

I remember taking a picture of it shortly before my parents’ divorce. I kept that picture for years, but somewhere amidst my many moves, it was lost. I know the house is still standing and was updated at some point (my family never updated anything in that house), but I would be shocked if that old furnace is still there, and even more shocked if it still works. Sometimes I wonder what might have happened to it. I hope it was treated well.

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I would not want to have children in today’s America.

mirandalambert

When I was a little girl back in the ’60s, life was good.   There was a sense — even among children as young as I was — that America was a good place: prosperous and powerful, but also with a large, healthy middle class, a strong public school system, an effective safety net and strong labor unions that kept the vast majority of people from falling into poverty, institutions that actually worked, and a sense that the President of the United States would always be a man of high moral character and compassion for others.

Community was important.   Libraries, public schools, the post office, and the infrastructure in general were there to serve the greater good, and they did their job well.   No one questioned their existence.  It was unheard of for people to complain about having to pay taxes to support the community or to have nice things like public schools, fire departments, libraries, safe and well-kept roads, Social Security for the elderly,  federal grants so kids could go to college, poverty-relief programs like Medicaid or food stamps,  and national or state parks.   The rich — of which there were only a few — weren’t that rich:  in the 1950s, the wealthiest 1% paid 91% of their income in taxes (now they pay only 35% and that number is about to drop even more under the Trump tax plan).   If anyone complained, you never heard about it.   Everyone assumed that it was only fair the wealthy pay more in taxes, because the common good was seen as more important than the few wealthy being able to buy  yet another mansion or yacht (or use their vast sums of money to influence politicians and buy votes).

Politicians and leaders were generally seen as trustworthy and benevolent.  A few were not, but they hid it well (or were slapped down quickly) if they weren’t.   If they broke the law (like Nixon with Watergate), there were consequences — and they apologized and gracefully stepped down.  Most seemed to care about the average American.   Both Democrats and Republicans seemed supportive of public institutions that helped everyday people and worked to build things instead of tear everything down.   As the sixties turned into the seventies, measures began to be taken to clean up the environment, and formerly polluted rivers and cities began to heal themselves as new regulations were put into place that put people over profits.  The EPA was established.

When something bad happened, you had faith that the President was someone who was able to comfort and identify with the people’s pain. You could rest assured that whether Democrat or Republican, the president was a person not only of high moral character but also of high empathy.

Where I lived in the New Jersey suburbs, I was pretty much sheltered from all the social changes until the very late sixties or early seventies.   I heard about hippies on the evening news, but they seemed like some sort of fascinating exotic creatures to me, very far from my own sheltered childhood reality of homework, kickball, and Barbie dolls.   The Vietnam War seemed like something happening on another planet,  a terrible but abstract thing I never had to worry about.

I was too young to realize that women did not have many choices or that racial segregation was still being practiced, especially in the South.    As the civil rights movement began to change society, all it meant for me was that my school became more integrated.   Since I lived in an all-white part of town, having a few non-white students around made things more interesting.  If there was any pushback, I wasn’t privy to it.   Gradually, my grade school textbooks began to have photos of black and Hispanic kids in addition to the WASP-y looking people that populated the textbooks of my first and second grade years.   In 1972, we sold our home to a black family, and I found out later the neighbors’ reaction was pretty negative, but we had already moved away by then so their reaction didn’t matter.

As the women’s movement came along and women began to chafe at their limited roles as housewives and mothers, there was a more negative effect on me personally.   As a preteen,  I needed my mother (or thought I did), and her suddenly leaving my dad and spending so much time away from home and embarking on a career made me feel, well, as if she no longer loved me.  Of course, my mother’s narcissism — which was the real problem, not her feminism — has been written about here many times, but this post isn’t about that.

In spite of the problems ’70s-era feminism caused for me (or seemed to cause), as I got a little older I embraced it.   The world seemed wide open with possibilities and choices.   It was exciting to stand on the brink of adulthood and know I could be anything I wanted to be (things didn’t quite work out that way, but again, that’s another topic that has more to do with my individual background and poor choices).  What’s important is that back then, the future seemed like a carnival of brilliant colors and endless possibilities.

In 2017, things are vastly different today than they were forty years ago.    I don’t even feel like this is America anymore.  We are a country under siege by a corrupt group of selfish, compassionless, greedy criminals and their financial donors who pull all the strings to funnel ever more money away from the rest of us and into their own pockets.    They are actively trying to tear down the institutions that made us great and built a strong sense of community back in the postwar years.   Everything that helps families and children is being gutted.   Democracy is a thing of the past.

They are trying to legislate a repressive, authoritarian form of evangelical Christianity that would not only roll back hard-won rights and freedoms of women, minorities, and LGBTQ people, but also marginalize and punish those same people.  It seems like what they really want is a return to the Gilded Age, only with an ISIS-like religious theocracy in place of the Constitution.

Incredibly, they are shoving their oppressive religion down everyone else’s throats and infiltrating the highest reaches of politics in the name of religious freedom.   I’m afraid we are dangling on the precipice of becoming a totalitarian state which wouldn’t look too different from Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale.  At the very least, we are on the brink of civil war between the Trump-emboldened far right Christian extremists and white supremacists and everyone who believes in liberty, justice and freedom for all.   Violence is glorified and even after last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, certain Republicans are actually blaming the victims of the shooting for not doing enough to defend themselves instead of placing the blame where it belongs:  on the need for stricter gun laws.  Talk about gaslighting!

If all that wasn’t bad enough, we are in real danger of being decimated by nuclear war.  Our own government (aided by Russia) has declared war on us from within, but oh no, that’s not our only problem.   Our president — a conman and pathological liar who would have already been in prison 40 years ago — is engaged in a schoolyard pissing contest with North Korea’s dictator, and is threatening and abusing us all by making veiled threats about nuclear annihilation on Twitter.    I cannot trust this president to do the right thing.   In fact, I’m pretty sure his intentions are malicious.  I really do feel like our own president has declared war not only on the most vulnerable Americans, but also on those who still value decency and compassion and community.

It’s ironic to me that Trump is rolling back laws that require employers to cover contraception and women’s healthcare, since Trump’s America is not any place I would want to bring a child into.     If I were of childbearing age, I’m pretty sure today I would choose not to have children.    I worry about my own two kids, who are just starting their adult lives in this new, mean version of America, a collapsing empire now infested by unspeakable evils we couldn’t even imagine a few decades ago.   I actually hope my kids remain childless until (and if) things get better.

This country that held so much promise as I entered adulthood has been gutted from within.  All I can see is a dystopian nightmare future.   I would never want to foist it on an innocent child.  I feel very sorry for kids being born today.    I don’t understand how anyone with a soul would want to have a child under this oppressive, toxic, uncaring, hateful, and dangerous regime.  They will never know the same America that I knew.

 

The longest, hottest, most boring drive ever.

Note: Photos were not taken by me.  I found them on Google Image.  

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There are many dangers in driving, but one no one ever talks about is the danger of the long, boring drive.   If anything can put you to sleep, it’s the never-changing, flat as a board, monotonous landscape of Eastern North Carolina along US Route 40.     It’s dangerous because the utter lack of any features of interest can make you fall asleep.

I enjoy driving.  It relaxes me.  Sometimes I just get tired of sitting around the house.  I’m regularly afflicted with attacks of wanderlust.   Sometimes I drive places — sometimes far away — not as a means to an end, but for the sheer joy of just driving.  Sometimes I drive to faraway places just to be able to say I drove there, without having a plan once I get there.

I’ve lived in western North Carolina for 23 years but I have never driven across to the east coast and on a whim, I decided to do just that yesterday morning.    Never mind that the drive there and back totals almost 700 miles.  That’s farther than driving to my son’s place in Florida!  Never mind that the weather forecast yesterday called for afternoon thunderstorms and it was a sweltering 90 degrees out at 9 AM.  Never mind the fact that I had no plan and there would be no time to enjoy the beach even if that was my goal   since, because I can’t see well at night, I’d have to turn right back around when I got there and head back.    No, I just wanted to get out of the house and go somewhere I’d never been before.  I’ve never driven clear across my state and decided it was time to check that off my bucket list.

I didn’t expect it to be the most exciting drive ever — remember, I do these drives to relax —  but I wasn’t prepared for just how mind numbingly dull the ride would actually be.   If you’ve ever driven across South Carolina (which I have), it’s like that, only without the palmetto trees and about four times as long (or at least it seems that way).  Also, along I-26 (the route I take to drive through that state), South Carolina’s dull, flat terrain at least is peppered with interesting sights like ramshackle fireworks stands along the roadsides that are open all year long, ancient and abandoned I-houses sitting all alone in fields of tall weeds, sad trailer parks, and Confederate flags waving gaily in the hot breeze.

You also can’t get too bored in South Carolina because I-26 is scary as hell.   Everyone seems to speed on it — the so-called slow pace of the South does not apply on South Carolina highways — and by speeding I mean roaring along at 100 mph when the speed limit is only 65.   The lanes are too narrow and semis and 18-wheelers are all around you, sometimes with only two inches to spare on the passenger side.   It’s common to be completely boxed in by semi-trucks, with a deep ditch on your left as your only escape should one of the truckers decide to switch into your lane suddenly without signaling (another thing drivers seem to do a lot of there).    If you’re in one of the urban centers of Columbia, Greenville or Spartanburg when that happens,  all you can do is pray since there isn’t even a ditch in some places, but a concrete wall.

And there are lots of cops there too.  Cops who allow the speeders to keep on going if they have South Carolina tags, but will pull you over for doing 70 if they see you’re from out of state.  They consider people from North Carolina to be Yankees and apparently hate us.  I know, because I got pulled over in that state twice.  And I’m not speeding type.   In fact, I’m much more the hesitant type that other drivers get mad at for going below the speed limit.  Both times I told the officer I was just trying to keep up with traffic (I was still going slower than almost everyone else), but he wasn’t buying it and still ticketed me.  The first time it happened I had to drive all the way to Travelers Rest to appear in court (this was in the ’90s).  The other time I was allowed to pay by mail.

So my point is, in South Carolina, you can’t nod off from boredom while driving.   Nervous, angry,  hyper-alert, or downright terrified, but I guarantee you won’t fall asleep at the wheel.

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There’s none of that nail-gnawing, white-knuckling, tooth-grinding business along I-40 in North Carolina, at least not east of Raleigh.   Sure, of course, for those not used the the mountains of the western end of the state, the many hairpin curves and steep grades there can cause a lot of gnashing of teeth, cursing, and white-knuckled steering-wheel gripping.  And I do understand about those annoying and sudden telescoping lane changes and merges in the urban areas and during rush hour that can jangle anyone’s nerves, but on a weekend it’s not so bad.  My GPS tells me when these lane changes are coming up, so it’s not really a nuisance or an issue for me.  And once you finally navigate the hundred-plus mile stretch of asphalted urban sprawl with its bloated 6-to-8-lane interstates and all its feeder highways and roads that stretch from Statesville just east of the mountains and the Triad of Winston-Salem/High Point/Greensboro in the Peidmont all the way to the Tri-Cities of Chapel Hill (a charming college town), Raleigh and Durham (still part of the Peidmont), you can rest fairly easy that losing your life on the road is pretty remote (unless you nod off).

Once you pass the massive urban sprawl in the center of the state, which is pretty boring itself (not to mention ugly), you emerge into the Atlantic Coastal Plain, an area that sounds like it could be peaceful and pretty, and to be fair, it is that.   But its prettiness is marred by its devastating sameness.   A long stretch of flat two-lane highway flanked on both sides by endless short pine trees, all of the same size and width, interspersed only occasionally by the odd water tower and farmland as flat as a table, not even broken up by tacky billboards or other jarring sights, can send you into a hypnotic trance.   The various towns are well-hidden along this stretch of I-40, so you don’t even see any tall signs advertising gas stations or fast food places.   It goes on like this for at least a hundred miles, before the landscape changes to a somewhat more coastal-looking one, with even scrubbier, shorter trees and grasslands — but oddly, no visible water.

Granted, the landscape of eastern North Carolina isn’t as  jaw droppingly ugly as the New Jersey Turnpike or as delightfully tacky as US-Route 19 that runs roughly parallel to the west coast of the Florida Gulf,  but at least those things add some interest to the landscape in a kitschy, schadenfreude-ish, thank-God-I-don’t-live here sort of way.   The landscape along I-40 east of the Blue Ridge and the vast urban metropolis that marks the state’s central region lacks any memorable features at all, and all that sameness gives way only to the sad, stunted trees and swampy grasslands of the coastal plain.

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As I drew within 35 miles of the coast, I still didn’t see any evidence of the ocean other than sandy-looking soil along the side of the road and sometimes blowing onto it.     I kept driving, looking for telltale inlets, rivers, or boats, or something indicating the presence of the nearby Atlantic, but nope, nothing.   The stunted trees and sandy soil just got more stunted and sandier, and the land remained as dry as the Sahara.     I kept driving.   25 miles, 20 miles, 15 miles from the coast, but still no water.    Yet I knew I was near the ocean because I began to see fishing tackle places and beach shops here and there.  Here, the lack of trees failed to hide any commercialism lurking behind the exits, and it was hot.  Hellishly hot.

I drove into a gas station and got out of the car to stretch my stiff legs, get a drink and a candy bar, use the bathroom, and fill my tank, and I felt like I was inside a pizza oven. Where was the sea breeze?  There wasn’t any.    The heat was oppressive, sweltering, almost painful.  My brain wasn’t working correctly.  My thoughts limped along like 90-year old men.    I finished my business and got back in the car, immediately blasting the air conditioning.  I noticed the sky was beginning to cloud up pretty badly  and I remembered the forecast about thunderstorms.   I don’t like driving in thunderstorms, and it was also getting pretty late, so I decided right then and there to turn around and head back home — all 350 miles of long, boring drive.   I groaned at the thought of that but what other choice did I have?

The ride home was slightly more interesting.   I got to watch the development of two storms ahead and to the south of me.  I watched the towering cumulonimbus clouds spread out and turn grey-black.   Lightning flashed in the near-distance.   I would have taken pictures except for the fact I was driving.    Fortunately, neither storm hit directly, and the drive back was marred only by a a little rain, not a downpour or a hailstorm.   The storms also cooled things off, and I was finally able to turn off the air and open the windows to let in some fresh air.

I finally passed the storms, and saw nothing but blue sky and the golden light of the late afternoon sun ahead of me.   In my rearview mirror, I saw the most gorgeous rainbow I’ve ever seen.  I wanted to pull over and get a picture of that too, but unfortunately such a thing wasn’t possible in the middle of the interstate.    But I felt like my drive had been worth it, even though I’d never actually made it to the coast.    I took the rainbow behind me and the coppery rain-drenched sunshine ahead of me as validations that my decision to drive hundreds of miles to nowhere in particular for no particular reason had been the correct one.  Besides, people who have driven across the Great Plains tell me that’s even more boring — and there you get tornadoes too.

****

Further reading:

8 Ways to Survive a 637-Mile Car Trip — and Make it Amazing 

15 Things I Love and Hate About Long Road Trips

Driving Before Dawn on a Sunday Morning

Kneeling down…

Cyranny writes so beautifully about those inexplicable “bad days” all of us have, whether we want to admit we have them or not. They just sort of come out of nowhere sometimes!
Please follow Cyranny’s Cove for more of her wonderful writing and poetry.
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Depression

Today was not a good day.

It happens. It is just life… We all have bad days, right? Right. Only, depression leftovers make my bad days B.A.D.

It often doesn’t really show. I just won’t think about eating, and spend all day concentrating on not letting show what goes on in my brain. Doesn’t sound too bad? Of course not.

I am aware I am not the only one having those post-depression random bad days. But not many people know about them. My parents don’t, my friends don’t…. Heck, Chéri doesn’t know about them. Not because I want to lie to them, but because of two simple things:

1- I don’t want them to worry everytime I frown.

2- It is so dang difficult to explain.

I don’t know why “bad days” happen. I don’t know if they are triggered by specific factors. (if so, I can’t wait to find…

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Being Lazy…

A great essay about my favorite activity! Please follow Cyranny’s Cove!

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unnamed

Mouahahahahaha…  What an image!

I have a lot of things to do. Some cleaning around the appartment, snow shoveling of the back balcony and stairs. I have some shopping to do, and I could cook a little to have lunches ready for the upcomming days of work. Am I doing any of the previously mentionned? No…

I am comfortably lying on the couch, and made sure not to want to get up by wrapping myself in my favorite blanket, and bringing big cushions for my back… I decided to draw myself a hot bath, meaning I can’t clean clothes right away, because the washer and dryer are in the bathroom, and the sound they make interfere with me trying to relax. (Ok, I am already pretty relaxed already, but still… Can’t be too relax, right?)

I am eating Genoa Salami considering kicking myself in the b*tt to be more productive…

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Donald Trump, narcissism and diagnosis as political sport.

There have been many articles written about Donald Trump’s alleged NPD, some written by bona fide mental health professionals, others by armchair wannabe psychologists–but this is the first one I’ve read that actually talks about Trump’s strange and painful childhood and his spotty memory of important events in his early life–and the surreal way this rather tragic figure (in spite of his billions) is now self destructing in front of the whole world.   This entire election has been like a huge reality show — and no doubt the end of the show will prove to be very bit as dramatic.

Donald Trump, Narcissism, and Diagnosis as a Political Sport

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Southeastern Livestock Pavillion on October 12, 2016 in Ocala, Florida. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

By GABOR MATÉ
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2016

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/donald-trump-narcissism-and-diagnosis-as-political-sport/article32368690/

The consensus as to Donald Trump’s psychiatric issues is nearly unanimous. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” according to clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis, quoted in Vanity Fair. He is just one of many who have reached the same conclusion. Noting his motor mouth, chronic inability to pay attention and shockingly deficient impulse control, others diagnosed Trump as a severe case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter for his 1987 bestseller, The Art of the Deal, reported that his client had no attention span and fidgeted “like a kindergartner who cannot sit still.”

In an election cycle where a candidate has been accused of unprecedented misconduct, including the latest allegations of sexual assault by multiple women, psychiatrists are bypassing the long-held professional standard, called the Goldwater rule, which stipulates that no psychologist should make a diagnosis of a person he or she has not examined face-to-face.

As a stressed electorate tries to make sense of a campaign unlike any other, they’re demanding to know: What is the root of Trump’s bizarre displays?

Making inferences about someone’s mental health is common sport with public figures. We don’t have the same data a psychiatrist or psychologist might have, but as candidates’ histories are revealed in biographical articles or books, and their behaviours are scrutinized in public forums, certain patterns become clear.

What we perceive as the adult personality often reflects compensations a helpless child unwittingly adopted in order to survive. Such adaptations can become wired into the brain, persisting into adulthood. Underneath all psychiatric categories, Trump manifests childhood trauma. His opponent Hillary Clinton evinces her own history of early suffering, even if milder and far more muted in its impact.

The ghostwriter Schwartz reports that Trump had no recollection of his youth. There is always a reason for such amnesia. People have poor recall of their childhoods when they found reality so painful that their minds had to push memories into the unconscious. “I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see,” Trump admitted to a biographer.

According to biographers, Trump’s father was a workaholic, a ruthless, cold and authoritarian man who believed life is a competition where the “killers” win.

Donald’s elder brother drove himself into alcoholism, a common escape from pain, and to an early death. The younger, favoured child is now self-destructing on the world stage.

Lying is such an endemic aspect of Donald Trump’s personality that he does so almost helplessly and reflexively. “Lying is second nature to him,” Tony Schwartz told The New Yorker. “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”

Read the rest of this article here.

Social Narcissism: Safe Spaces, Collectivity, and Moral Obligation

Way back in 1979, a social critic named Christopher Lasch wrote “The Culture of Narcissism,” in which he made the case that increasing globalization, individualism over community, material success over loving relationships, nuclear families over the extended family or the tribal culture, and the “bottom line” over empathy, would lead to levels of societal narcissism previously unheard of. Of course narcissism has always been around, and used to be brushed under the rug (“nice” people didn’t talk about abuse), but there was always the community or extended family to catch you when you fell. Now, it’s each person for him- or herself, and you’re regarded as a “moral failure,” even by your own family, if you fail to impress the world with lofty achievements, the perfect body, impressive credentials, the biggest McMansion, the prettiest children, or the most glamorous career.

The problem of societal narcissism goes way beyond Millennials taking selfies (taking selfies is really not all that narcissistic anyway).  American politics has become a reality show, in which the most “colorful” or outrageous character has a better chance than the one who truly cares about the people and the future of the nation.

My friend has written an outstanding article about how narcissism has become normalized and even transformed into a virtue in today’s selfish, materialistic, empathy-challenged society.   Comments here are disabled; please comment under the original post.

Long-lost friend.

I’m honored to be a guest blogger on HarsH ReaLiTy! This is my first guest post. Thanks to Opinionated Man for this honor. Be sure to follow his blog too!

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The wrong kind of transference.

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Last Monday, when I saw my therapist, he told me he had a cold.  It seemed pretty bad too, because he kept coughing and sneezing and blowing his nose.    I didn’t think too much of this, and since I rarely get sick anymore (since I stopped my monthly cycle, my frequent colds also stopped, go figure!)  it didn’t occur to me I might be out of commission for a few days.  But the rare times I do get sick, I get really sick!

Well, lo and behold, come Thursday, I woke up with a  tickle in the back of my throat and felt slightly feverish.   I felt like calling in sick to work, but I didn’t because I can’t afford to.  I stopped at the grocery store and stocked up on some store-brand Day Quil, NyQuil,  and Robitussin for the inevitable cough that would come later.    I slogged through my day, feeling slightly groggy, but otherwise not too bad.   I saw my therapist again that night.

“Guess what.  I got your cold,” I said.   I knew he was the culprit, because no one else I know has a cold.  He spent the next five minutes apologizing.    He offered me the box of tissues that sit on the end table for his crying clients (so I haven’t needed them yet).  He actually looked worried about me!  I swear he’s the sweetest person I ever met  (why couldn’t I have married someone like him?)    I assured him I wasn’t mad at him or upset in any way and it wasn’t that bad anyway.

I spoke too soon because Friday I was worse, and so sleepy from both the virus and the medication I could do practically nothing but sleep after I made it home from  work.  How I managed to get through THAT day I don’t know.   I was too groggy and sick to even want to spend much time blogging.  I felt retarded.  My thoughts oozed slowly like January molasses.     I slept for about 14 hours straight.

Today was much the same only worse.  My cold has become the Martian Death Flu.   I was achy and I felt hot so I took my temperature and it was 103.   My cough was cruel and relentless. I sounded like a barking seal.    My nose felt like it was stuffed with cotton balls.  I’ve  already been through probably an entire box of tissues.   The weather was pretty but I spent all of today curled up in my bed, sleeping and reading a little bit in between fever dreams I can’t remember. I know I won’t die, but I sure don’t feel too alive.

I think this disease peaked earlier today, because now I’m beginning to feel a little better. I actually ate some dinner and now I’m drinking some coffee.  The cough has subsided somewhat and my temperature is down to almost normal.  I feel like tomorrow I might be able to join the living again.

Transference is a great thing, but this was the wrong kind!   Next time he gets sick, he should warn me in advance so I can get one of those space suits like those researchers who work with the Ebola virus.

I hate to shop.

shopping-pizza

Women are always stereotyped as shopaholics, and in fact it’s true.   Most other women I know would love nothing more than to spend an entire day shopping.   Not me, though.  I’d rather be broken down on the road waiting for the tow truck.   Never mind the fact I rarely have enough money to buy much anyway, I just hate everything about it.   I hate the crowds, I hate waiting on line for a dressing room, I hate waiting on line to pay, I hate some officious individual asking, “Can I help you?” when all I’m doing is LOOKING (do I look like a thief to you?).  I also hate the lack of clocks or windows in large stores (I guess they want you to forget what time it is so you stay longer and browse more, just like in casinos).

Clothing shopping is the worst.   I have no patience for it at all.    I have a pear shaped body and it’s always so hard to find anything that fits right or looks good on me.  The mirrors in dressing rooms are always brightly lit with unflattering fluorescent lights, which doesn’t make any sense to me–don’t they want you to look good so you’ll buy their items?  Maybe they do that so you’ll keep trying more things on and never leave the store.  Like you’re in Hotel California or something.

Whenever I need to buy an item of clothing, I always know exactly what I’m looking for, go in, find it, pay for it, and hightail it outta there.   I shop like a man.   I don’t like to spend hours and hours “browsing” and trying things on just to see how I look in them.    That’s why I always shop alone.   I can’t stand waiting around while other people with me just HAVE to try on that cute this or adorable that, and then they have to keep asking you how they look.  I can think of nothing more boring.  I’d rather be waiting on line at the DMV (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but it’s almost that bad!)    If I MUST shop with another person, I’d rather it be a man because the stereotype about women is mostly true.   For me shopping isn’t therapy–it’s something I need therapy to recover from!

shopping

The advent of the Internet has pretty much solved that problem.   Now I just order everything I need online and don’t have to bother with the stores at all.

Bookstores are something entirely different.   I could (and I have) spend an entire day browsing in a bookstore, reading everything I can get my hands on.   My idea of heaven is a celestial Barnes and Noble bookstore, with an attached Starbucks, of course.  The only problem with bookstore browsing is that you’re actually consuming their products with no intention of paying for them.  Standing (or sometimes sitting down!) in an aisle reading a book is akin to eating food in the grocery store and not intending to pay for it.  Eventually, you start getting looks from management and at that point you know it’s buy or get out.   Since I usually don’t have enough cash to buy all the books I want (and it’s always a lot of books), the library serves my needs just fine.