Kale Causes Cancer

Kale causes cancer. Well, not yet. But it will. It’s only a matter of time before a national study reveals that this esteemed leafy green vegetable is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Just look at fish! For decades we have been told to “eat more fish!”, “fish is good for you!”, “fish has healthy oils for your brain!” Then along comes this pesky neurotoxin called mercury – which has apparently infested our fish.

It’ll be no surprise when kale is considered deadly. First, it has a rough, rubbery texture, which is nature’s way of saying, “hands off!” Second, it’s bitter. An acquired taste? Or similar to the bad taste that bugs excrete to keep predators from devouring them? Lastly, it has an ornamental look to it, implying it should surround our steak and potatoes, not be in lieu of them.

People are very proud when they eat kale, as though they have just saved someone from drowning. Smoothie establishments offer drink concoctions that contain kale as a main ingredient. Women – wearing yoga pants – brandish these smoothies in their hands, feeling good about themselves, when in reality it looks like they are drinking the contents of someones’s stomach after an intestinal virus. These smoothies also contain a variety of other fruits and vegetables, which are supposed to add to the smoothies’ nutritional content. But we all know what is really going on: they’re just trying to cover up the taste of the kale.

Facebook and Pinterest are full of kale recipes. Soon there will be kale coffee and kale cupcakes. That is, until it is announced that kale causes cancer. Then everyone will breathe a sigh of relief and admit they never liked the vegetable, that they always found it bitter and disgusting – how they pretended to like it because it was cool. They never should have dressed little Sophia up as a kale leaf for Halloween, or made Simon eat dried kale chips for snack everyday.

Support groups will form, and not because kale has given so many people cancer, but because there is now a vacant spot – a rift – in their lives.

“It’s that feeling I miss … the pride of having something so healthy in my grocery cart. Nothing quite matches the euphoria of another grocery shopper glancing at my groceries and seeing my kale, while they were buying nothing but cheese doodles and soda.”

“Mmmm … I hear what you’re saying. And how about you, Sue? What are you feeling right now?”

“It made me feel smart. Like, I was playing a trick on someone. Why else would I eat something so awful? But I knew it was supposed to be good for me. So I ate it. But without kale, I’m just boring. I’m like everyone else.”

“Those are very strong feelings, Sue. Thank you for sharing them. How about you, Stephanie?”

“I’m really regretting naming my daughter Kale. I should have gone with Emma.”

People will wander around the produce section of grocery stores. Spinach may gain some new attention, like an ex girlfriend who suddenly seems appealing again. Others may briefly try broccolini, only to find it’s been around too long, they’re familiar with its taste, it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything.

In time, another vegetable will be heralded as the “nutrient packed”, “immune-boosting”, “cancer fighting” food that kale was once considered to be (before it was discovered that it causes cancer). Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief and rush to ingest that plant. Until, of course, it is announced it causes heart disease.

Profit from the Pain

Ingenuity is defined as being cleverly inventive or resourceful. Cleverly  is the key word here. Many of us can come up with resourceful ideas, but how many of them are clever? Such as taking a bad situation and suddenly seeing dollar signs?

“Oh geez. Gradma’s dead. That’s just awful. I’m really going to – hey … wait just one minute! I think I see some profit here!”

or

“Man, I hate picking up after this dog. If I made a dollar for every time this thing had to take a … huh. I may be onto something.”

Greg and Mike Herro, and Rusty and Dean VandenBiesen saw an opportunity to turn sadness into salary. In 2001 they started LifeGem, a company that takes a small portion of the cremated ashes from your loved one and somehow turns it into jewelry. And for no small fee. A tenth of a carat stone will cost you $2,500 with others costing as much as $20,000 dollars. (Don’t believe me? Click HERE to visit their website.)

This whole idea is bizarre. While it may be comforting to wear a ring with the cremated remains of someone dear to you inside, let’s face it, it’s also downright creepy. And socially awkward.

“Ohhh! What an interesting ring! What kind of stone is that?”

“My Aunt Linda.”

“My Aunt Linda? Huh. I’ve never heard of that.”

“No. It’s my Aunt Linda, literally.”

Another uncomfortable aspect of this whole dead person jewelry thing is LifeGem’s website. Their rather crass description that the jewelry “will bring you comfort day by day“, the bright purple sentence in the middle of the screen where you can “request your free information kit here!” as though you are ordering some newfangled hair dryer. Then heart wrenching testimonials, followed by disturbing ones. (One woman wrote, “”Ma” arrived safe and sound last night, and you’re right! She is a beauty! It gives me peace to have her home and in such sparkly condition.”) And of course, the constant reminders to NOT send the ENTIRE cremated remains of your family member to LifeGem. They only need a few ashes to complete your several thousand dollar order.

On a lighter note, Jim Coniglione of Long Island, New York decided to get paid for picking up poop. His business, Scoopy Doo Dog Waste Removal, will remove any dog (or Canadian geese) waste from your yard for a fee. Scoopy Doo Dog Waste Removal has trained technicians (rumor has it Scoopy Doo Dog Waste Removal training is brutal, much like the training required to become a Navy SEAL ) who will properly handle and dispose of all canine (and bird) excrement.

There was no information stating how Mr. Coniglione had the epiphany of picking up poop for profit, but it probably was inspired by something like this:

Jim: It’s your turn to take the dog out.

Jim’s son: Nah-uh! It’s your turn.

Jim: Hey, you’re the one who wanted a dog so bad.

Jim’s son: I didn’t know it would poop so much. I wish there was, like, some machine that scooped up its poop. Or some people who come over and clean the yard for us. Like a butler or something.

Whatever gave Mr. Coniglione the idea to start a professional yard cleaning service has now turned into a thriving business that spans from Long Island to Albany, New York. Well done Jim! (Click HERE if you want to see some major pooper scoopers.)

Lastly, a growing movement has turned trash into cash. Known as Dumpster Divers or Freegans, these curiosities root through dumpsters for discarded food and other items. While the majority of Dumpster Divers brave the darkness of trash cans for food that supermarkets have thrown away and is still (in their minds) considered edible, others find clothing, furniture, and other objects that they then sell. (Thinking twice about purchasing that Hollister sweatshirt you saw on eBay? I would too.)

While many consider Dumpster Diving to be unhygienic, dangerous and downright nauseating, seasoned Dumpster Divers claim that tearing apart trash bags is addictive and provides a thrill, much like bungee jumping. Many state they are helping the environment by eliminating these objects from making there way to landfills. Others make profits by cleaning their finds and selling them on eBay and garage sales. To learn how you too can dive into a dumpster and forage for some items to sell, click HERE.

Ingenuity allowed LifeGem, Scoopy Doo Dog Waste Removal and Dumpster Divers to find a way to make money from a bleak situation. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger … and if it does kill you, LifeGem can turn you into a piece of jewelry.

 

 

What Do YOU Advocate For?

Save the Children. Save the Planet. Save the Whales. Greenpeace. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Habitat for Humanity. D.A.R.E.

Chances are, you have heard of one – if not all – of the aforementioned advocacy groups. These groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion to hopefully bring about change. Some actions used by advocacy groups to gain support and further their cause are mailings, fundraising, phone calls, and radio/television commercials (who doesn’t remember the infamous 1987 Partnership for a Drug Free American commercial: ” I learned it from watching  you, Dad!”)

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“I learned it from you, all right? I learned if from watching you!”

Yet, what about lesser known advocacy groups? The ones who don’t have the manpower to make annoying phone calls during dinnertime? Who haven’t partnered with large scale grocery stores that ask for a donation after you have recovered from the shock of your grocery bill? These groups are just as devoted and passionate about their cause as say, Doctors without Boarders or the SPCA. But they are just too small a fish in this great sea of thousands of advocacy whales (which, apparently, are being saved).

This is when The Underground Writer steps in to offer these start-up groups some assistance. After much internet perusing, I have decided to shine the spotlight on 5 groups that are lesser known … and for a reason.

1. Americans for Common Cents

Don’t I mean “sense”? No, actually, I don’t and for several reasons. Americans for Common Cents (Click HERE if you don’t believe me) is an advocacy group for the penny. Who knew the penny needed an advocate! Have no fear, you little copper coin, because there is a whole group of penny lovers devoted to your preservation. Consideration has been given to stop producing the penny since it costs more money to produce each penny than they are actually worth (2.4 cents per penny, according to the Citizens to Retire the U.S Penny – a group advocating to STOP penny production). For many, this seems logical. All one has to do is dig deep into their winter coat pockets, couch cushions or car seats to extract errant pennies. Pennies can be found easily most anywhere. But for others? A coalition to stop the killing of the penny’s creation was necessary. Hence, Americans for Common Cents was born.

2. Save the Pigeon: New York City Pigeon Rescue Central

Established in 2004, Save the Pigeon: New York City Pigeon Rescue Central was established to, well, save pigeons. Volunteers (or Pigeon People as they call themselves on their website) care for wounded or sick pigeons. To quote their Facebook page, “New York City pigeons have a very hard time … New York City makes no provision for their care.” For shame, NYC!  With all of that real estate, I would think a pigeon hospital would be a viable option. Complete with little pigeon ambulances. If you, too, wish to be a Pigeon Person, click HERE.

3. Use Plastic Bags, Save Trees

Not only is this group hugging trees, they are hugging plastic as well. Per “Use Plastic Bags, Save Trees,” plastic bags take up less landfill space than paper bags because plastic bags weigh less. (Never mind that paper bags are biodegradable and plastic … isn’t.) To quote this fascinating advocacy group: “Our mission is to let people know how good plastic is for the environment.” Clearly in its beginning stages, “Use Plastic Bags, Save Trees” was established as recently as August 2014. Should you want to help support the cause of furthering the use of plastic and not trees, click HERE.

4. The Flat Earth Society

Ferdinand Magellan schmellan! Who says the earth is round? Not the Flat Earth Society, that’s for sure! After a rocky history that included several presidents and one big house fire, the Flat Earth Society was resurrected in 2004. In October, 2009, the society opened its big flat doors to new members. (Should you want to join, but you MUST think the earth is flat.) Their mission? “To promote and initiate discussion of flat earth theory and to encourage free thinking and debate.” If you have always had an inkling that the Earth is not shaped like a globe but instead, a pancake, and want to advocate for this belief, click HERE.

5. Save Pink Bathrooms

About to swing a sledgehammer to that nightmare of a grungy pink bathroom in your 1960s-era ranch with plans of replacing the stained, cracked tile with something modern? Well, don’t let Pam of Save The Pink Bathroom know! According to this group, fifty year old pink tile is something to be savored. Whether it is considered a part of the home’s history (to quote their website: “Pink bathrooms are a wonderful part of our home design heritage”) or now en vogue, this group encourages you to put that sledgehammer away. Supporters of pink bathrooms can sign a pledge to preserve these bathrooms, and can also purchase a “I Saved a Pink Bathroom” t-shirt that announces their bathroom altruism by clicking on THIS LINK.

Perhaps in a year or two … or twenty, Americans for Common Cents, Save the Pigeons, Use Plastic – Not Trees, The Flat Earth Society and Save Pink Bathrooms will be large scale endeavors that are as prominent as the American Heart Association. Stranger things have happened.

 

**”I learned if from watching you, Dad!” photograph is property of Google Images.*

Is It Cancer?

You notice a pain in your left elbow. Now that you think about it, the pain has actually been there for a few days. Maybe even weeks. You don’t remember hitting your elbow, or doing anything to injure it. What could be going on?

You Google “pain in left elbow” during your lunch break. The selection of websites that flash on your computer screen are overwhelming. You had no idea the subject of elbow pain was so important. You click on a link, one that has the word “medicine” in its web address. According to this website, your elbow pain could be due to anything from bumping your elbow, to arthritis, to cancer.

Cancer? Your fingers freeze, suspended over the keyboard. You are absolutely certain you did not bump your elbow. In fact, now that you think about it, you’re very careful with your elbows: tucking them in when you walk through doorways, never resting your hands on your hips so your elbows aren’t protruding like wings. And arthritis? Bah! Just yesterday you carried a laundry basket overflowing with dirty clothes up the stairs and never broke a sweat. You’re in your prime.

It must be cancer. You can’t recall anyone in your family history battling elbow cancer, but isn’t everyone getting cancer these days? Because of the food we’re eating … or not eating. And doesn’t cancer spread? You sit back in your chair. Maybe your elbow cancer has spread to your shoulder and now you have shoulder cancer. All at once your left shoulder seems achy.

You need to have this elbow (and now shoulder) examined immediately. You call your doctor to schedule an appointment. After listening to the options in the prerecorded message, you accidentally hit the wrong option and get the medical records department instead of the scheduling department. The medical records person transfers you, only you’re disconnected and need to call back and start all over again.

After choosing the correct option you are put on hold, though a friendly recorded voice reassures you that your call is very important to them. (So important that you are made to wait several minutes.) Finally, your call is answered. You inform the receptionist that you need to see your doctor as soon as possible for serious elbow pain. She tells you that your doctor’s schedule is booked. You feel that making an appointment with your doctor is some sort of race and you have lost.

The receptionist manages to “squeeze” you into your doctor’s busy schedule, making it sound as if it’s a favor and you should be grateful. You are, because since you’ve been on hold your elbow pain has grown worse.

The two weeks until you see your doctor seem endless. Mentally, you have decided who will inherit your most valuable assest. You wonder if you should make amends with the cranky neighbor you haven’t spoken to for three years. Or better yet, wait until he reads your obituary. How you died from elbow cancer. Won’t he feel bad then!

When you finally see your doctor, he seems rushed.  You remind yourself that you were inconveniently fit into his schedule, after all.

“Does it hurt when I do this?” he asks, bending your arm at a ninety degree angle.

“No,” you say sheepishly.

But it had hurt when you did this same movement five hundred times the past two weeks to verify if the pain was still there.

“How about when I do this?” he asks, moving your arm in a different direction.

“That’s okay too.”

“Everything seems alright to me. I don’t see anything to be concerned with. Maybe you just whacked it.”

“I’m certain I didn’t hit it,” you say.

But he’s not listening. He has written in your chart and left the room to see a patient who was not squeezed into his schedule.

That night you tell your friend about your elbow pain, and how you fear it is cancer that has now spread to your brain. She commiserates, and recommends you see her doctor. But her doctor is a holistic doctor, not a medical doctor.

Your friend’s holistic doctor answers the phone on the first ring. Not only are there no phone trees or being put on hold, the holistic doctor will see you first thing in the morning. When you arrive at her office, there is music playing. She smells of patchouli oil. The holistic doctor takes your elbow pain very, very seriously. She explains that discomfort in any part of the body indicates inner pain … as well as a deficiency of vitamins and minerals.

When you leave her office, you have spent two hundred dollars on a monthly supply of vitamins and minerals. You have also bought a manual that will guide you towards inner peace, and a packet of tea bags whose name you can’t pronounce. The holistic doctor promises that, in time, these will heal your elbow and shoulder pain.

As you drive to work, you think about your elbow and how it used to not hurt. Then suddenly you realize it is no longer hurting, as you remember hitting it on the banister while you were carrying that load of dirty laundry up the stairs, without breaking a sweat.

 

Milk is Ruining My Life

I pour the creamy, white liquid into the glass. I’m just about to take a sip, but then freeze. Wait. Wait, just one minute. Did this milk come from a cow treated with artificial growth hormones? Is this milk lactose free? I wonder if the cow was injected with resistant building antibiotics. Was the cow humanely treated? Did it enjoy being milked – or did it feel violated?

How did such a benign substance become so risky all of a sudden? When we were children, we were told to drink milk because it was good for our teeth and it kept our bones from snapping in half. But now everything seems so complicated! Fat free milk, skim milk, 2% milk, whole milk. Milk with DHA added.

Should we drink pasteurized or unpasteurized milk? Supposedly, unpasteurized milk has not been meddled with, and contains more nutrients and healthy fat than pasteurized milk. On the flip-side, because of the pasteurization process, pasteurized milk doesn’t harbor pesky deadly bacteria that is more likely to be found in unpasteurized milk. Hmmm … healthy fat verses dangerous bacteria …it’s a tossup.

I grab my keys and drive to the grocery store. I’m relieved to find they have an entire section devoted to milk substitutes. Thank goodness! Problem solved! Or so I thought.

The first option is rice milk. This looks like a great choice, until I remember it was just all over the news that arsenic was found in rice products. (I need to consume arsenic like I need a hole in my head.) And rice is a grain, right? Isn’t there this whole paleo diet movement? The diet rage that says we shouldn’t eat grains because our ancestors didn’t eat grains and they lived to be nine hundred years old, so we should abstain from grains too, so we can live to be nine hundred years old with no teeth and incontinent and yell at our children because they never visit us.

I scan the shelves. How about soy milk? Oh. Estrogen overload. Well, then. What about almond milk? Hmmm … Not only am I not a fan of almonds, but what if I develop a nut allergy? What if I’m standing in my kitchen, enjoying a nice cold glass of almond milk, and suddenly my throat swells shut? There I am, gasping and writhing for breath because I need an epi-pen in order to breath. (Which I don’t happen to own since I’ve never had a nut allergy prior to this whole milk dilemma.) I drop dead on the floor all because of a glass of stupid almond milk.

There’s coconut milk, but isn’t that high in fat? Or is coconut fat considered good now? I keep losing track. I’m fairly certain that coconut fat is considered healthy fat … or was that avocados? Maybe avocado fat is good to consume – and not coconuts – but I can’t find avocado milk. Maybe they’re making that next month.

On the shelf under the coconut milk is … hemp milk. Hemp milk? Hemp milk? Is that even legal? What would hemp milk even taste like? Sucking on a wet, burlap bag?

Not to mention, all of these non-milk products come in a variety of options. Organic, non-organic. No-sugar added. Sweetened and non-sweetened. Vanilla. It feels eerily similar to when I’m in the milk aisle.

I storm out of the milk substitute aisle and pass the frozen food section where gallons of milk sit innocently lined up for those who don’t know the dangers of drinking milk from another mammal (and yet another issue). I grab a bottle of soda – suddenly the safest choice – and head towards the cashier.

 

 

 

 

 

Inappropriate Family Photos

Several times a year my grandparents would pack up their RV (including their toy poodle with rust colored fur and chronic bad breath) and travel across the country. We’d learn of their whereabouts from postcards that would arrive periodically in our mailbox. Their destinations were an odd assortment of common tourist attractions and strange places off the beaten path: the Ozarks, Grand Canyon, Virginia Beach (we received a postcard declaring that Virginia is for lovers with my grandmother’s frilly handwriting, “That’s Us!” inside the heart).

Their travels were documented in a photo album that was displayed on the coffee table in their living room. My mother and I would languidly flip through the album when we visited. The photographs were fairly repetitive: my grandmother standing in front of some touristy sign or statute, clutching her purse and smiling as my grandfather snapped her picture. Or the two of them together, their smiles frozen as they waited for a kind stranger to figure out how to work their camera and take the picture.

My mother and I swallowed yawns as we leafed through the pages of this album. My grandparents seemed less interested in taking snapshots of their surroundings and more interested in pictures of themselves.

Especially when they visited the Poconos.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Poconos, it is an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that is known for its mountains and romantic getaways. During the 1970s – 1990s, resorts popped up like gophers catering to couples who were just dying to relax in heart shaped jacuzzis, circular beds and gigantic, seven foot champagne bubble baths. Competition between resorts was fierce. They battled to outdo one another for the most “alluring” room names: Paradise Stream, Cove Haven, Fantasy and Garden of Eden are just a few of the names given to some of these horrendously gaudy rooms.

While we never received a postcard from the Poconos, evidently my grandparents sojourned in one of these atrocious hotels, because they documented it in the photo album they left on the coffee table in their living room.

Nestled between the pictures of my grandmother wearing her floppy sunhat and standing outside of the Alamo, was a photograph of her wearing a blue negligee and kneeling on a white furry rug. Next to this photograph was my grandfather, donned in blue Speedo underwear, sprawled on the same furry rug and smiling mischievously at the camera.

Thankfully, the pictures stopped there. (And thankfully, they didn’t ask some stranger to pop into their hotel room – which was probably named The Love Nest – to take pictures of them together on the furry rug.)

My mother and I saw these Pocono pictures at the same time. My mother recoiled, as though she had seen something strange and hideous.

“Good heavens!” she said.

I let out a whooping holler of laughter as my mother snapped the photo album shut.

“I think we’ve seen everything we need to see.”

But there are certain things you can’t … un-see. My grandparents racy Pocono photographs are forever burned in my brain. Why they would choose to place those salacious photographs in the album is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they viewed them no differently than the other innocuous shots: saying cheese in front of the Liberty Bell, posing next to a palm tree in South Carolina, scantily clad and smiling seductively from a shag rug in a Pocono hotel room.

Or perhaps they snickered conspiratorially as they slipped the risque photographs in the plastic sleeves.

“Just wait until the kids and grandkids see these! And they think we’re just visiting places like Strubridge Village.”

 

 

Fight Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee?

According to the article Can This Marriage Be Saved? sixty-nine percent of marital conflicts are never resolved. Sixty-nine percent! This is an alarmingly high number, and it sheds some light on why forty to fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. But the question still remains: why are all of these marital conflicts not being resolved?

Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist quoted in Can This Marriage Be Saved?, attributed unresolved conflicts to communication, or lack thereof. Dr. Gottman states that couples who resolve arguments tend to communicate nicely. They deliver their complaints with less of a blow (think flyweight boxing verses heavyweight). Meanwhile, couples who don’t communicate never resolve their discrepancies, thus leading to the eventual demise of the relationship.

While Dr. Gottman clearly pinpoints the main ingredient (communication) for relationship longevity, I felt it needed to be expanded. Why, exactly, are these couples not communicating? How are they fighting so that nothing is being resolved?

I took to the streets, pen in hand (and depending on the neighborhood, mace can in my other hand) and began surveying married couples. The question posed: when you and your spouse fight, how does he (or she) act?

A surprising discovery was not simply the lack of communication. Most did indeed communicate. However, they all had unique fighting styles. The categories are listed below.

The Convincers – also known as Verbal Gymnasts, the Convincers have the innate ability to convince you that you’re the one who is wrong. They stop at nothing to convince you, so arguments generally last for hours. Whether it is pure exhaustion – or they are finally persuaded – spouses of Convincers usually throw in the towel and eventually declare they were wrong.

The Clammer Uppers – these spouses stop talking because they are so overwhelmed with emotions they simply shut down. (Or they fear saying something they will really regret.) Some people call this  “the silent treatment.” Did she hear you apologize? Your guess is as good as mine, because if she did hear you, you would never know. Convincers love Clammer Uppers because they can continue to convince with no interruptions.

Taker Offers – similar to the Clammer Uppers but with more energy. The Taker Offers will physically leave the premises of the fight. This may mean storming out of the house or restaurant. If enclosed in a car, Taker Offers have been known to shove the offending person out of the car and drive off, leaving the spouse stranded.

Reactors – you’re mad because she’s mad.

“Now I’m in a bad mood too. Here I was, just watching the game and enjoying my beer, but now it’s ruined because you’re mad at me again.”

The mood of Reactors seems to be contingent upon the mood of the spouse.

Directors – tell their spouse what she or he needs to do to end the fight. Apology insincere? Who cares! Fight is over! Let’s go out for dinner already! Convincers and Directors could NEVER be married to one another. The Convincer would be too busy trying to convince the Director, while the Director would be too busy telling the Convincer what he needs to do in order to conclude the argument.

Moper – a personification of Eeyore, the Moper will throw the biggest pity party of the century. The Moper has a fighting style similar to that of the Convincer, but much more pathetic.

 “I know I forgot your birthday again. I’m so dumb. I’m the worst husband ever. You should never have married me. Other husbands would have remembered your birthday. You can go marry them. I deserve it.”

Mopers and Directors make great couples. A Director would simply tell the Moper what needs to be done to soothe things over.

“You’re right! I should go out and marry someone else. Now, let’s go shoe shopping because you’re buying me five pairs of shoes and you’re going to love every second of it. Got it?”

Conversely, Mopers and Reactors would never make it. Once the Moper turned all mopey, so would the Reactor.

“You’re right. You are so dumb for forgetting my birthday again. And I’m dumb for marrying you. We’re both two dumb people. And now I’m too depressed to go find another husband.”

The last fighting style identified was the Rehasher. During an argument, a Rehasher will suddenly bring up issues (issues you thought were resolved) from the past. Similar to Mohammad Ali’s famous phantom punch that abruptly ended the boxing match with Sonny Liston by knock out, the Rehasher will verbally strike their unknowing spouse, leaving them stunned. Bewildered. Speechless.

“I forgot to take out the garbage? Well! At least I didn’t back the car into a telephone pole.”

“That was five years ago!”

“Maybe it was, but my not taking out the garbage didn’t cost us a $500 deductible, now did it?”

To take Dr. Gottman’s expertise a smidgen further, it appears couples may not be communicating because of their fighting styles. How can a Moper talk things out with a Reactor when both turn sullen? Or a Director communicate with a Convincer with they are talking over each other?  As Leo Tolstoy said, “what counts in making a happy marriage, is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”

References: Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Do I Know You?

You notice him in the checkout lane at the grocery store. He looks vaguely familiar. His hairstyle is one you know you could never forget. Did you sit next to him at last week’s board meeting? Or was he your waiter at that French restaurant you took your mom to for her birthday? Wait. You went to high school with him! No. That’s not it. Was he the guy from Sears who sold you the leaf blower you still haven’t used?

He has now noticed you’re staring at him and is looking at you out of the corner of his eye. You can’t tell if he also recognizes you, or he is slightly concerned that you’re watching him. You start rearranging the groceries in your cart while frantically trying to place his face. Is he the father of one of your daughter’s friends? Should you know this person?

Suddenly it dawns on you. You don’t know this person at all! He simply resembles Lord Farquaad from Shrek – just taller. You exhale, relieved the mystery is solved.

How often have we seen someone who looks familiar, only to realize they’re not someone we know, but rather they resemble a character from a cartoon or movie? Recently while I was in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, a patient sat down and removed his shoes. The fact that this man felt the immediate need to take off his footwear didn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact there was something strangely familiar about his face. I was certain I had seen it before, but where? All at once I realized he looked exactly like Lew Zealand. Who is Lew Zealand? The Muppet who throws the boomerang fish while proclaiming, “I throw the fish away, and they come back to me!”

LewZealand_Large

“I love taking off my shoes in public places!”

There is also a man who frequents the gym I go to who looks exactly like Lloyd Christmas, the character Jim Carey played in Dumb and Dumber. Making this connection took several minutes, and unfortunately my glancing at the man while trying to place him resulted in him attempting to make friendly conversation.

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“Don’t know why that girl keeps looking at me. Must be my bowl haircut. I better go talk to her.”

 

And who would have ever thought I would come home to find Miracle Max, from The Princess Bride, in my living room? Well, it wasn’t the real Miracle Max. Just an ancient locksmith who looked exactly like him. As I entered through our back door I could hear Miracle Max (also known as Lucas Locksmith, Inc) saying to my husband,

“There. Now that the deadbolt is fixed, you can lock the wife out!”

I burst into the living room and shouted,

“Aha! No he can’t! The door to the back still works!”

Shockingly, I found myself staring into this face:

Miracle Max

“There! Now you can lock your wife out!”

Perhaps we look like a character in a cartoon or movie, but people are polite enough not to tell us. For all I know, after I meet someone for the first time, the person could be thinking,

“Where have I seen her before? I could never forget a face like that…”

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“Was she at the last PTA meeting? Or maybe she works at the car wash …”

 

 

Photo Credits:

Lew Zealand – http://www.muppet.wikia.com

Miracle Max – http://www.fanpop.com

Edward Scissorhands – CBS

Express … Or Just Less?

Many businesses now seem to have the word express in their title. While the definition of “express” can mean precise and exact, the word is more commonly used to imply speed. (Take the “express lane” for example.) As schedules grow busier and people have less time, the idea of getting things – even difficult things – done quickly is appealing. The result of this is “express” being inserted into the names of certain businesses. But let’s stop and really ponder this idea of having services done expediently.

There is the Holiday Inn Express*. What makes this Holiday Inn different from the other Holiday Inns? Are their patrons awakened at 5 am by a Holiday Inn employee banging on their hotel room door shouting,

“Wake up! This is a Holiday Inn Express! If you wanted to sleep in you should’ve stayed in a regular Holiday Inn. Up and at ’em! Let’s move it along!”

Express Scripts is another well known business with express in its title. For the costumer, this name should evoke the idea of receiving your medicine quickly. No waiting. However, I can’t help but imagine a room full of pharmacists frantically filling little prescription bottles.

“Uh-oh.”

“What?”

“Did you just drop Omeprilstatin?”

“No. I just dropped Methatrypophane. Why? Did you drop Omeprilstatin?”

“Sure did.”

“Crap. They look exactly the same. They’re both white and round. I can’t tell which is which. Now what?”

“I dunno. But the buzzer is about to go off any second and we need to have these boxed up. This is Express Scripts you know. ”

“Eh … what does it matter. It’s Express Scripts. NOT “You’re Getting The Right Medicine Scripts”. Let’s just pick them up off the floor, ship them out and hope for the best.”

Massage Express or Express Massage businesses have been popping up in various cities (typically in malls), which are basically poor quality massages given by individuals who have zero massage theapy training. What better way to relax, heal and unwind than to have a speedy massage given by a person who has no idea what they’re doing. But hey, it’s express!

On a local level, there is a business around here called Express Pools. I assume this is geared for people who – in the middle of August when they can not stand one more second of New York humidity – decide they want a pool and they want one now. Based on its name, I’m guessing a pool is quickly installed in your yard. However, haste makes waste, and I can’t help but picture people frolicking in their pool before pausing and saying,

“Wait. Wait just one second. Is it me, or does there seem to be less water in here?”

Express may mean fast, but it doesn’t necessarily mean quality. McDonalds or Burger King can promise you food quickly, but you’re not about to have them cater an important event. Five million tourists stare in wonder at the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling every year. Had Michelangelo been slapdash with his paintbrush,  it wouldn’t be considered the magnificent work of art it is.

Certain businesses know not to use the word express in their title, despite how much business it may potentially garner. Thankfully, I have yet to see Express Cardiothoracic Surgeons. I certainly wouldn’t want to drive over a bridge constructed by Express Bridge Builders, or fly on an airplane made by Express Made Airplanes. Lastly, call me picky, but my children would never attend Express Elementary School.

 

*So what exactly is the difference between a Holiday Inn Express and a regular Holiday Inn? The Holiday Inn Express is geared toward business travelers and has fewer amenities, such as an in-hotel restaurant or spa. They really don’t wake guests up at 5 am because it’s an express hotel (unless, of course, you want to be woken up at 5 am with a complimentary wake-up call).

 

 

Hot Date. Dream Vacation. Perfect House. What Happened?!

We’ve all experienced it. A situation or upcoming event we have imagined would be particular a way, only to have it turn out drastically different than we planned. Our dreamy anticipation vaporizes once reality dawns.

Blind dates are a perfect example. Men – you discovered her through an online dating site. Her picture was unavailable, but this only added to her mystique. Her line of work is listed as ‘entertainment’. You’re not quite sure what that is, but you suspect it involves dancing. Her age? Experienced. Well! As you approach the park where you agreed to meet, you can’t stop your mind from envisioning someone who looks like this:

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Well, hello there!

But your expectations are quickly dashed when you see your date. That line of entertainment she works in? Not dancing, but playing the synthesizer at the local senior center. She’s experienced all right! Experienced at whipping out the tissues she keeps stashed in her sweater sleeves in case she has a sneezing fit.

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“Maybe my dentures fell in this bag. I hope I find them before my date arrives!”

Ladies – you have experienced the same. Your friend swears she has the perfect guy for you. She promises he’s not fat, but “stocky.” He’s a doctor and such a “sweetie.” Why is he still single? He was married to his career, but now he’s ready to settle down and start a family. When you meet this gent, you find he resembles Quasimodo. He confesses your friend did stretch the truth – he’s not really a doctor, but he does work in a hospital. In the cafeteria, to be precise. He proceeds to spend the rest of the evening telling you – in minute detail – his responsibilities in the bustling hospital kitchen. You realize one thing your friend was right about: he really is married to his job.

Let’s move on to vacations. How often do we imagine our vacation will be tranquil, secluded and relaxing?

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Paradise Found

But when we arrive, we learn the beach is a popular destination for cruise ships and it’s filled with screaming children, hollering parents and loud music?

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Paradise Lost

Children. You daydream for months about the upcoming birth of your baby: her little fingers gripping yours, holding her while you glide back and forth in the rocking chair. Perhaps you contemplate learning how to knit baby booties after she is born.

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What you thought you’d get

Yet, when your bundle of screaming joy arrives, you find you’re pacing the floors deep into the night, trying to calm Baby Evil. The only thing you can imagine doing with knitting needles is jamming them into your ears to block out the crying.

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What you got.

House hunting. Your Realtor tells you she has the perfect home in your price range. You follow the winding path to the house, your stomach fluttering. You have already envisioned what color you’ll paint your bedroom. Your neighbor’s house only fuels your excitement:

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This neighborhood is starting to look good!

Yet, the house you can afford – the house your Realtor is excited to show you – looks like this:

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Oh, that’s right. I forgot about our budget.

Lastly, your kids have finally convinced you to get a dog. They vow to walk and pick up after it. One even promises to vacuum for you. You relent, but you tell them it must be calm and small. Your children spend hours online, searching local animal rescue sites. Your husband contacts breeders. You fill out yards of paper work. At one point you’re not certain if you’re adopting a dog or a child, the process  is so rigorous. The night before you pick up Fido, your thoughts drift to the little dog that has managed to wiggle its way into your heart already. You haven’t seen him yet – your kids and husband who have met him tell you he’s brown and lovable. You picture him spending his last night in the shelter:

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Sweet, docile family dog you expect to see

The next afternoon, you hear the family car pull into the driveway. You open the front door, only to see a large beast running towards you. Drool is flying from his mouth and his eyes look crazed. “Yeah, about the ‘being small and calm’ part” your husband says right before Cujo leaps up on you with muddy paws.

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The actual family dog

Bill Watterson, the author/creator, of Calvin and Hobbes, said it best, “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.”

Photo Credits: 

Attractive Date: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/andre-batista/3548312095/”>André-Batista</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Disappointment Date: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/gingiber/3672189301/”>gingiber</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt; 

Paradise Found Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsmoral/3278536843/”>jsmoral</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Paradise Lost Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/otimo/182432305/”>Man with no name</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Sleeping Baby Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/diathesis/2383571187/”>diathesis</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Money Pit Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/6307845575/”>reallyboring</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Sweet Dog: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/williammarlow/5976796676/”>WilliamMarlow</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Crazy Dog: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thekellyscope/4627967858/”>thekellyscope</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;