A perfect sea urchin

My Evil Thoughts

Welcome to where I air my evil views, proud, uncowed, unbowed, and absolutely evil, superficial, and ignorant. Get used to it. To return to the main blog page, just click here.

The Rabbi at Eleven O'Clock

The eleven o'clock rabbi gives sermons on the radio in Lakewood to my turtles, Iyoba, and me in Second Life, most nights of the week. Given the time of year, he discusses preparation for Rosh HaShanna. He says that when you properly observe Rosh HaShanna, you go back to your core self, yourself the moment before creation, and ask God to make it better.

Right now I want to kick this rabbi to the curb. Right now I want to tell him I don't give an EXPLETIVE DELETED about myself, not because I am empty or too noisey or spend my days in trifles. Quite the opposite. I've got a nice, full plate and can sometimes be very effective and successful, even at trifles, but those trifles are amusing and reasonably fulfilling. Ask Joie, Lysistrata, Hertzel, and a few satisfied customers at work.

I am quite simply last in line. I don't mind being upstaged. The folks ahead of me deserve to be there. There is Troy Anthony Davis who will die in two hours and twenty minutes in Jackson about fifty miles southeast of where I live. I have friends from the Open Door who were vigiling for Troy last night, and probably will be there as quiet witnesses beside the Gold Dome this evening. There was a big poster on the door of the Open Door. I saw it when I went to deliver five pounds of napslaw. My napslaw will go to waste, or it will sustain vigilers. That feels good. Nellia and Calvin, two of the ministers who run Open Door looked very unhappy. We hugged and said we were sorry.

I wish I could say more. I remember two days before Rosh HaShannah some years ago attending a church service for Troy to pray for a stay of execution. He was lucky that Rosh HaShannah as the economy crashed (It was 2008.) he survived. This Rosh HaShannah he will be dead and buried or cremated. I'm not important because my life is not at stake.

I'm not as important as my landlady. She needs strength. She lost her only and somewhat estranged son. Friends found the thirty-five young man, Errol, dead on the couch. My landlady will be up in Ohio until Saturday. When I return from schul, I will pay her a condolence call. I probably should bake an extra bread and bring a loaf to her. I should bring her something. I am last in line.

HaShem please put me last in line. I don't have to think about myself. I don't really need a new self. The old one is a bit worn for wear, but it's doing OK. I have my health. I am just aging. I have my job. I have my recreation and even a couple of places to go and pray for Rosh HaShannah. I am on the straight and narrow with Healthy Wage. If I need improvement, it is just not that urgent. Put Troy and my landlady ahead of me. Put my friends at Open Door ahead of me. Put those folks on the lawn at Open Door who have seen the inside of the prison at Jackson, though probably not the death house, ahead of me. Happy 5772, though I'll probably be back to write some more before the year starts.

Eileen H. Kramer -- September 21, 2011

The Bereaved Landlady

I must have listened to the voicemail message six times. I knew that Cheryl, my landlady, and buyer of chametz at Passover had sick, elderly parents, and that she had lost one, and was going out of town for an extended period to settle their affairs. This was going to be rough. Taking care of the sick parents, even long distance, has taken a lot of out of Cheryl who is skin and bones. Poor landlady.

I owe her one for having her husband take off the board that the plumber used to trap Lysistrata in the wall behind the pantry cupboard in my kitchen. They take good care of the complex. They are both good people.

Something about the message did not sound right. The stunned sadness in Cheryl's voice was mesmerizing. I listened again and again and at first I did not believe what I heard. My landlady had lost her son. I did not even know my landlady had kids. She never mentioned them. She is old enough for them to be grown, and probably they are from a previous marriage. Still, I do not know the man's name. He was younger than I am, but not by all that much.

The rest is what I need to know. Where is Cheryl? Can I send flowers or a fruit basket? Is there even a shiva house or a wake in a small town or a military funeral, or is this a burial or cremation in near secrecy due to costs and lack of social support and yes, general dysfunction?

Who was the son, and yes, how did he die? There are really only four choices: He got sick, acted stupid or careless, got very unlucky, or was crazy. That takes into account illness, accidents, homicide, and suicide. That's prety much everything. There's just a blank where the story should be. I suspect the landlady and her son weren't that close, since she never mentioned him to me and she did mention her parents and her first cat. People always mention their first cats. I still talk about MaryAnn and Georgia and I still miss both of them.

I guess one can say kaddish for a John Doe. I'll try to track down Mike, the landlady's husband, and see if it is appropriate to send more than a card and where to send it. For all I know, Mike was a devoted stepfather at one point. I don't know squat, and I feel bad for the landlady. It always feels bad when someone next to you gets it. Cheryl did not deserve this just as Troy Anthony Davis deserves not to die. I don't know what I deserve, but it would be nice if HaShem acted as a rightenous judge. I'll take whatever is coming to me like the Thrasher in the song by Neil Young. Now if God is open to bargains, I'll lay that one out on the table. I haven't paid my dues. Some day it will be my turn, but I won't pay as dearly as either Troy Anthony Davis or my landlady.

"You're Back!"

"What's this EXPLETIVE DELETEDing crap doing in the galley fridge?" thundered the captain who was as surprized to see the arm-long bunch of dandelion greens as much as he was to see me. I quit the Ship of Misery last winter and now after six months away...Hey it is my home away from home.

I've been through bureaucratic hell with Healthy Wage. There are unbloggable events going on, and I leave you to guess at those. My perimenopause has acted up for the first time in about a year. Another friend from schul has moved away from Atlanta and a second friend of sorts has gone from unemployed writer to discouraged unemployed person studying in Israel. And now my landlady lost her son. I've more than paid for my ticket, so I'm back in the galley, only this time I have a smart phone that alternates between Jewish Music on WMDI Lakewood and funny commercials and interesting sermons, pop stuff, and various degrees of danceable, deep, and hard house music. The captain can't figure it out, but he hated the site of those dandelion greens.

Yes, you can eat dandelions. Yes there are lots of foods to eat once you stop eating factory made doodies. I hopefully will have plenty of reading material for Shabbos. Dinner and lunch on the Ship of Misery feature spahgetti squash made with radishes, and radiotrri, field pea, and dandelion green casserole. I measure out the oil carefully.

Part of me likes starving myself into submission. Part of me wears my hunger like a badge of honor. I like the control and feelnig of self righteousness. I feel like a combination galloping gourmet and champion hunger artist. I stocked the synagogue with fancy tea to replace the good tasting, Young Israel mocha. I still get my break and my lift. My worst fears about breaking ingrained habits are behind me. I can handle discomfort. I am tougher than my own, stupid body.

And speaking of stupid bodies, there is drama in the scuppers again. It even has its own script. I only get a red wipe in the afternoons and evenings. My uterus is a ketchup bottle that requires the banging of daily stress to let anything out. Also when my stomach flip-flops and my legs and even arms ache with drawing pains, I know what's going on. One of the worst part of hot flashes is that they bring with them a kind of false start/restart as my stupid body throws the prostaglandin switch. I also tell myself that the reason my period will not shut completely off (think drippy faucet and you get the idea of what is going on.) is that my body can't for some reason restart the cycle to have another period. And I don't believe it's the disordered hormones that make perimenopausal women crazy, it's the being sick that does it. Try waking up nauseated or having the backs of your legs ache for twelve hours straight. It does not exactly put you in a joyous mood.

As for my new voyage on the Ship of Misery, I haven't even been up on deck to see the scenery. I really don't care when or if I get off this craft. I'm that pissy and far gone. Make of it what you will, that's where I'm at. God, please spare the life of Troy Anthony Davis. I want to hold the box in my hand that has his name on it as I pass it down the hall at the Open Door this winter, and comfort my landlady. The Captain asked me what we are eating for Shabbos next week on his ship. I told him I'd get it planned when I see what the crazy weather has done to the produce harvests. Misery after all is everywhere.

Eileen H. Kramer -- September 16, 2011

Licking my Wounds

Once again there are unbloggable goings on in my life. I hate when that happens, but self-censorship is a necessity. After being pulled off one team, kicked off,or dissolved off another time, and getting stuck on a team that is in the garbage pail of teams, I demanded my choice at Healthy Weight and started a team of one called Xiphia. As I read Healthy Wage's smart tips, I'm glad I'm on a team of one. I like it better that way. I think the whole team thing is a pile of hooey.

I like losing weight as part of a group and having a place to gather and discuss weight loss related topics and recipes. There are times when I want to brag, and times when I want to complain, and times when I want to discuss the psychology of weight loss. I grew up hearing about the psychology of weight loss and obesity from my mother who believed in it. That was the reason she never made me eat foods I detested. Did it work? I don't have as much to lose as many of the others. Preventive maintenance is wonderful.

On the other hand, I don't like being told what to eat or being forced to gather for group exercises etc... Exercise that is not a team sport has a kind of a zen feel to it. Solitude and walking go together, or walking and listening and music. I'm the kind who walks off bad moods and tension. That makes me an abysmal exercise companion. That does not make me a pariah. I'm just sulkie.

Then there really is such a thing as boundaries, and mine make me feel secure. Group weigh ins, constant "how are you doing?" letters etc... might feel intrusive. Heck, they would be intrusive.

Then I finally got through all the bureaucracy and found myself grossly disappointed. My verification got posted Friday night, and I got weighed in a few hours before. I also got to read the blog and felt profoundly disenchanted. It's jejune to say the least.Examples of adults resorting to the rank gluttony of adolescents don't resonate. The road to overweight is paved hopefully with adult pleasures like beer and wine and tiny, rationalized nibbles. If it is not, gluttony, is a habit you need to unlearn. Hopefully, it stays unlearned. You get the idea.

There is also no place except for a page at Facebook where people from different teams or from the same employer but scattered at different teams can discuss dieting strategies, meal ideas, exercise tips etc... Only a few teams out of several hundred will win any money. Most of us if we stay wtih the program can walk away weighing less and living a healthier life style. That's why cooperation and communication are as important as competition. The cooperative aspect and sharing is missing, and I need to share with more than four other random souls or souls who don't think they are random but...they are.

To make matters worse, I'm one of the smaller people in HealthyWage. It's not just for obese people, and I can't be the only small person on a vanity diet. It's not vanity. I should weigh less. It's going to be harder to lose weight as I age, so it is good to do it now. Well, the smaller people are scattered over various teams. It would be good for us to talk to one another. "Skinnies" lose weight and have different food attitudes than "fatties." Sorry, fat is not a dirty word. Similarly those with food allergies, religious restrictionsm, vegetarians, low carb enthusiasts etc...all need to talk to each other. The present structure makes that very difficult.

Am I sorry I signed up for healthy wage?. I'm not sorry to be dieting. I can't resist ready-made self improvement programs, and it did get me motivated. I've been two weeks on the straight and narrow, and I can't fget my money back anyway. The Facebook page is rather interesting, and better than the blog. I wonder how long it will be until the gloves come off there.

I am very hungry in the mornings, fight my way through a haze of exhaustion at mid day, revived by lunch and dinner. I have to keep reminding myself that a normal can't starve yourself to death on a reduced calorie regimen, and people work tired, hungry, too hot, and too cold. I'm many times tougher than temptation. I just wish I wasn't constipated. That seems to be a side effect of dieting that I wish I could do something about. I wish I could ask if others are experiencing this on the Facebook page.

I also learned from my mother who has become an old skinny and from another old school skinny at my synaoguge that most "skinnies" talk about weight and food differently than most "fatties." When I tell a skinny what I'm up to, she usually says "go for it." Then she reminds me not to overdo it. Most "skinnies" have had to gain weight a couple of times in their lives, and reducing is much easier.

The old "skinny" sometimes then tells me about how self-indulgent the current generation has become.Skinny dieters appear to have iron wills and self control that is the champion of mixed martial arts. Actually, it's more a kind of finesse around food, but it does involve executive abiity and self control. It's more the language of "skinnies" that I need to hear. On HealthyWage I feel like an isolated freak instead of a potential champion dieter.

Eileen H. Kramer -- September 9, 2011