Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Are You Listening To A Word I Say?!?"

I've never read the book, The Secret, but since you can't turn around without seeing/hearing some sort of reference to it, I feel that I might as well have. (I will admit that I watched a 15 minute abridged "film" version of it on cable one night.)

According to the website:

The Secret reveals the most powerful law in the universe. The knowledge of this law has run like a golden thread through the lives and the teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages and saviors in the world's history, and through the lives of all truly great men and women. All that they have ever accomplished or attained has been done in full accordance with this most powerful law...
The Secret explains with simplicity the law that is governing all lives, and offers the knowledge of how to create - intentionally and effortlessly - a joyful life. This is the secret to everything - the secret to unlimited happiness, love, health and prosperity.

This is the secret to life.

Essentially, it boils down to the power of positive thinking.

But you have to be highly SPECIFIC about what it is you want. So, according to The Secret, if you want a new car, you should imagine THAT SPECIFIC CAR. You should sit in a chair, pretend you are in that specific car, imagine what it smells like, pretend you have your hand on the gear shift, imagine the dials on the dashboard, if it's a Mercedes you want, feel the heavier pressure you need to apply to the gas pedal.

The "secret" is that the universe wants to shower you with good fortune, you only have to ask specifically for it, and be ready to receive it. (My rational, non mystical, takeaway is that perhaps people make different choices when guided by "positive thinking," but I won't go into that in this post.)
Positive specificity is the key here.

The film featured an example of a man who was sitting in his study one day with his young daughter who was going through a box of junk to amuse herself. She pulled out a large corkboard covered with various papers and photographs and she asked her father what it was.

He explained that it was his "wishboard" that he had created for himself many years ago - that all the good things he wanted in his life, all the things he wanted to achieve were represented on that board. He had made it when he was a young man, just starting out in his career and life. But as he stood there pointing things out to his daughter, he realized that there was a photograph of a beautiful house on the board. And he looked more closely at it and realized that it was a picture of the VERY house that his family currently lived in. *PROOF* that The Secret works!

But you have to be very very specific. And use very few words.

f you spend your time bemoaning the fact that you are depressed and stressed and sad - because of money woes or the lack of a happy romantic relationship, etc. and you wish you had more money or a partner or whatever - the universe only hears your depression and stress, and delivers more of that to you.
This leads me to wonder why the universe is so stupid - it's the UNIVERSE for chrissake, why can't it listen to your entire sentence?

I have experienced, first hand, the power and the potential pitfalls of The Secret.

Just a couple weeks ago, I said to SK: "I haven't heard from the sociopathic alcoholic stalker in a while. Yay!" The next day, I got an email from him. Again, why can't the Universe listen to a complete sentence? Apparently, all it heard was "sociopathic alcoholic stalker" and delivered accordingly.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with my ex-husband. Apparently, I was EXCESSIVELY repeating myself to make sure that he knew what I wanted for Christmas and to remind him of the location of the store because I had already had the store put the item aside for me (him). He informed me that I didn't need to tell him this for the 32nd time, because he had heard me the first time, and that he actually listens to about 75% of what I say.

My response: "75%? That much? Shit. I should watch what I say."

So I have been trying to remember to pepper all my conversation with the following phrase: "wouldn't it be great if David Boreanaz or Clive Owen or Johnny Depp or maybe all three of them showed up at my apartment to let me know that I won the lottery?"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pelting Lemons

Because my African Violet has stepped back from death's precipice, I have taken that to mean my black thumb might merely be sickly grayish yellow in color. (I chose to ignore the fact that African Violets have a reputation for being very hardy plants that can weather through the most outrageous neglect).

I have also finally accepted the end of winter.

These two things have driven me to order a 2-3 year old Dwarf Improved Meyer Lemon Tree, suitable for growing indoors as a houseplant.

In preparation for the delivery of the tree, I have also purchased an assortment of rice hull flower pots (very eco-friendly while being minimal and elegant in design), bags of soil and fertilizer, and a meter to measure water saturation levels in soil.

However, I haven't the faintest notion about what to do with all the lemons that this tree is supposed to produce all year round. Lemons do not feature in my once-a-quarter cooking forays, except as the occasional garnish. And don't even mention lemonade to me.

I suspect my lemons will be quartered lengthwise and hanging off the lip of glassware, which is really their natural place in life anyway, at least when there aren't any limes around.

Additionally, I suppose I can lean out my window and pelt them down at the drunk straight men and offensively unattractive women who have been loitering outside my building ever since that ridiculous sports bar opened up on my street.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'd Rather Watch A Movie

Transformation is at the heart of any story - whether real or fiction.

Movies and novels would have us believe that a single breakthrough moment or revelation is enough to profoundly alter one's outlook or behavior. We all know these scenes... the hero/ine is walking down the street. Suddenly s/he sees something across the way, usually obscure and/or trivial. Suddenly the world is a different place, they are different people, and the old mistakes are never repeated, and brand new paths are forged. "Aha! It's a bad thing to be an alcoholic, will never touch the demon liquid again!" or "Aha! That person I treated like crap is the love of my life, I will never be an asshole again and will suddenly have the ability to resolve conflict and effectively communicate!" or "Aha! I thought I was a nobody but it turns out I am the heir to the throne and I will live up to expectations and embrace my destiny!" or "Aha! In the last 15 minutes of the movie, I had this random conversation with this random character played as a cameo by some absurdly famous actor who is really good friends with the director and now I will change my life for the better!"

But real life is far more recidivist. In real life, COUNTLESS "breakthrough moments" are required for actual transformation to take place.

The lack of realism in fiction makes sense in a very practical way. In the span of 2 hours or 200 pages, there's limited time, and besides, it would be incredibly boring and tedious to watch the main characters continually backsliding before they "transform."

So when someone tells me that they have had a transformative, revelatory breakthrough and that everything is now different and shiny and new... I'd rather just watch a movie.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thumb O' Death

My daffodil plant that AN got me for my birthday died INSTANTLY. Perhaps I should have watered it.

My jade plant, despite SK's valiant life saving efforts, is still uncertain about whether it wants to rally, or just give up the fight and go quietly into that good night.

My new plant (it's green, that's all I know about it), is still settling in.

However, my African Violet plant, which I thought had checked out for good, is now blooming again. I will try to speak encouragingly to it.

Wisdom From A Five Year Old

AG (MG's 5 year old daughter) just informed her of the difference between a crush and a boyfriend and MG shared this nugget of wisdom with us:

Are you guys aware of this? Your crush, you kiss on the cheek and then you run away to your hiding place and blush. Your boyfriend, you kiss on the mouth and then you stand right there next to him and blush.

Yep. Pretty much.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Romancing The Scale

I have been obsessing over scales. The do-re-mi kind. Not the fishy or dry skin variety.

IC told me today: "I feel that you've been romanticizing the scale a lot these days.... not that that's a bad thing."

What she leaves unsaid, but is still clearly heard, is :"But really. ENOUGH."

Scales are not only helpful, they are foundational.

I used to spend the first two hours of my daily piano practice on scales. And that's pretty much on par with the norm. My yearly piano jury exam (final exam) at music school featured scales - a fact that further demonstrates their importance.

But I think what IC was reacting to was my latest monologue during which I waxed on and on and on about the fabulousness of scales, and how a good scale ROCKS.

As a refugee from music school herself, IC understands this completely. I think she just wishes I were able to talk about something else occasionally. And apparently, informing her that I just cut my nails while on the phone with her so I can better play my scales doesn't quite count.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Day

My accountant scolded me when I sent him an email this morning asking if it was too late to send him all my info so he could do my taxes for me.

But because I am just too damn lazy to find the nearest fax machine, I decided to e-file, and to do it myself. It was astonishingly easy, suspiciously easy, and I'm getting a refund.

All of which makes me suspect that I either did it wrong, or that my identity will be stolen in short order.

I will keep you apprised.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fun With Spite

My sociopathic alcoholic stalker is relentless.

Seems to me I have only two options: 1. resign myself to hearing his pathetic, delusional dribble regularly for the rest of my life, or 2. make use of the fact that I have a friend who got top marks at sniper school.

I don't actually mean that. I feel guilty for just having written it. But it's fun to fantasize about being so completely ruthless that I could actually say, write, and think those things without the associated guilt.

But since I already feel guilty for being unkind, I might as well share more details: He sent me an email telling me that he can't stop thinking about me and that he is in the process of ending a relationship with a woman he met while at his recent inpatient rehab program (I strongly suspect it was court-ordered) because she has decided that she wants to go back to shoveling everything she can up her nose.

If you ask me, it sounds like a match made in heaven. I'm rooting for them. But I also have selfish reasons for hoping that they stay together - when he's otherwise occupied, he leaves me alone. Everyone reading this, clap your hands to root for them! Clap your hands if you believe in catastrophic yet time consuming and therefore stalking-minimizing dysfunctional relationships!

Interesting... that bit of unkindness on my part did not make me feel guilty at all. I will have to explore this mood elevating effect of spite. Pity and disgust and anger weighed heavily on me and caused me to question my generosity of spirit and my ability to forgive and be kind. But spite? I feel as light as a feather.

SK told me: "This should fall under the category of 'I wouldn't wish this on anyone', but yet here you are!"

Yup. Here I am, clapping!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Back To Bach

I'm not embracing Spring.

I'm still disturbed by it.

So I spent the morning working my way through Bach's Piano Concerto in D minor. It's a good piece to nullify any changes in weather.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Back Pain And Humility

Do guitarists generally have bad posture, or neck and back pain?

My back hurts. And my back NEVER hurts. I can do the craziest things to my back in yoga. A backbend is as easy as pie. I can do a backbend not only with my hands on the ground, but also with my forearms on the ground and grab my ankles with my hands. I can lay on stomach and raise my torso and legs and arch my back and rest my feet on my forehead. I can balance all my weight on my forearms, lift my legs into the air, arch my back, throw back my head, and place my feet on my head, making an almost perfect "Q" shape with my body.

And doing these things cause me no pain, it actually feels GOOD. During my yoga teacher training, I once stayed in wheel (a backbend) for an hour as the yoga master teacher had all the other students take turns closely examining my pose. (OK, that one made my back a little sore the next day).

But playing the guitar is wreaking havoc on me. After practicing for 30 minutes, I no longer feel like a gumby-like yoga guru, but like a little old lady hobbling down the street with a cane.

Friday, April 11, 2008

On Manners

MG and EA and I have been swapping our usual emails about boys and dating. And in the context of this conversation, I was reminded of P.J. O'Rourke's book on manners, and another part of the email exchange reminded me of this song:

According to O'Rourke, being good looking is very polite. Being RICH is the MOST polite.

Also polite, is a guy having an erection when, say, kissing you good night after a date.

So my takeaway is that if a good-looking, rich guy has an erection when kissing you good night after opening your taxi door and helping you out onto the sidewalk, that's REALLY good manners.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Stress Reduction, Upside Down

I spent an hour today looking for the remote control for my bedroom television. It's not in its usual "lost" place - my fridge.

So I'm at a loss. I was actually driven to closely examining my TV and cable box to see how I could manipulate channels and volume WITHOUT the remote.

That didn't work so well.

And it irritated me so much I had to spend some time standing on my head to relax. I find it strange that I just wrote that. I remember the good old days when I'd just crack open a bottle of wine to achieve that effect.

Not that I'm averse to the liquid method of stress reduction. It's just disturbing that head standing has somehow sneaked into rotation.

But then, spring has so far brought with it a general feeling of disturbance for me.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Do I Make You Randy, Baby?

Spring has sprung.

And I have to admit, I'm a bit disturbed by it. I had accepted the fact that nature's hard drive was stalled at the "bitter cold of winter" setting.

CK (not me, but my cousin) has been scolding me about my man fast. She thinks that with the advent of warmer weather, I should prepare to break the fast. Or, at least, stop throwing up a little in my mouth.

To that end, she's been forcibly dragging me out of my beloved gay Chelsea. "You've GOT to talk to men who don't admire and pet your faux pony clutch and ask where you got your shoes!!!!"

So earlier this week, we were in an adorable little oyster bar in Soho. I did experience a moment of extreme culture shock. I turned to her and said, "there's something weird about this place... I can't quite put my finger on it..."

She glared at me and replied, "Yes, the people here are HETEROSEXUAL. Well, everyone except that guy over there. Stop smiling at him."

Apparently, while I am very popular with the gorgeous, young, firmly fleshed gay men who populate Chelsea, I am equally popular with the fat, old, loosely fleshed straight men who populate everyplace else.

It reminded me of one evening in Beijing. A fat old straight man was chatting me up and informed me that he's been told frequently that he looks like Mel Gibson. I informed him that he looks like he ate Mel Gibson. This did not discourage him. I suspect he assumed that my English wasn't very good and that I didn't know what I was saying. *sigh*

But I understand my cousin's perspective. At SOME point, I have to break the fast.

But that's not today.

Today, my beloved JF is in town and he will be my date as we lurch drunkenly, yet still gracefully, around... Chelsea.

And on that note:

I've realized that JF is my boyfriend. Albeit one whom I do not have sex with and see only twice a year. MG has told me that I need to look up the word "boyfriend" in the dictionary.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

State Of Mind

I can't account for a year of my life - 2001. Not sure what happened to that year. I told SK about this and she told me that a missing year was rather romantic.

However, I am dead certain there was nothing romantic about it. But rather than maintain the possible mystery of it all, I have placed phone calls to various friends to ask them if THEY remember what I did that year. I'm beginning to hear back and all I can say is that a lot of people out there have better memories than I do.

But I was right. There was nothing romantic about it at all. I think I forgot it simply because it was so utterly unremarkable.

And I formulated a theory to explain the WHY of it to myself. And the catalyst for my theory is this video sent to me by SK:

I believe this was the year in which I was living in the 3 bedroom house with the husband and two cats and contemplating the unremarkableness of my life.

This was also the year I was seeing shrinks and getting MRIs and polygraphs for the prospective employer I'm not allowed to talk about. (I pieced this together from my total lack of recognition of the stories I heard from my friends, all of whom I had been instructed to flat out lie to about what I was actually doing that year). On the face of it, this may seem somewhat interesting. But since I completely forgot about it, it clearly didn't strike me so.

Funny how truth can be discerned from lies. But that's another post.

SK watched this video and her takeaway was that she should abort her short lived experiment with online dating.

My takeaway? "Remarkableness" is just a state of mind. Because I think my future memories will prove that I find the utterly mundane details of 2008 remarkable indeed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


For those of you who read my post from earlier today (The Breaking Of The Fast) and called/texted/IM'd/emailed me with questions and excitement and even scolding...

"OMG! Who IS this guy?!?"
"Is he there RIGHT NOW?!?"
"That. Is. How. It. Happens."
"That NEVER happens!"
"Your life is right out of a movie!"
"Did you practice safe sex?"
"Your bed sheets?!? Eek!"
"You're making him breakfast?!?"
"Where did he go to school?"

And my favorite:

"What's he doing that he's not at work on a Monday!? You sure he's not a deadbeat? I bet he's a deadbeat. I thought we discussed this, you are not allowed to have sex without Board approval. You have the WORST taste in men."

... please note today's date.

The Breaking Of The Fast

Do you believe in love at first sight?

I never have before. But then I met someone yesterday.

It was out of a movie... a random meeting which turned into coffee, which turned into an afternoon strolling around the city, oblivious to the cold and the wet, which turned into dinner, which turned into shared bottles of wine, lingering over dessert (yes, I actually had dessert!), which turned into... well... let's put it this way, I was glad I washed my linens this weekend, and I will have to do so again, at least when my bed is no longer occupied by someone who looks angelic and vulnerable and beautiful in his sleep.

While I'm vaguely aware that the sky is overcast today, in my world this morning, the sun is out, the sky is blue blue blue and the birds are singing.

The fast is over. And thoughts of throwing up a little in my mouth? Never crossed my mind. I'm not even humming Bach. I'm humming Sheena Easton's For Your Eyes Only.

Off now to the deli where I can get supplies to wake up a certain someone with breakfast in bed.