No Yin to Soften the Yang; Maybe America Needs a Royal Family


No Yin to Soften the Yang

Maybe America Needs a Royal Family

Life is a process and must possess a delicate balance. The Chinese expression yin and yang has always referred to the state of being that creates a fulfilling and stable life.

Sadly in today’s world chaos and insanity are out of proportion and out of control.

So what does this mean for individuals that seek happiness and contentment, that long for equilibrium?

Well one could look to England for inspiration. Just go with me here for a minute.

In 1960 the United States found itself in a new position. That young family in the White House was not simply the first couple, but for the first time the closest thing to royalty in United States history. Now of course our forefathers, who in their infinite wisdom foresaw the dangers of a monarchy were probably correct. Even George Washington was loath to be President because he thought it might too closely resemble a kingship. Okay, so they gave us Uncle Sam as a consolation prize and he’s a favorite, unless he’s been cancelled, I’m not sure.

Yet look at the facts. The Kennedy dynasty’s indiscretions, with a patriarch far less than noble, were pretty much kept under wraps. With no Internet information access was in quite a different state. The Kennedy brothers’ reputations as womanizers weren’t acknowledged and American people only saw a young, elegant and beautiful couple to admire and hold in high esteem.

When Jackie went to France and captivated the French by speaking their language then enthralled De Gaulle and Khrushchev, we watched proudly. This was our first lady and probably the closest thing to a queen America would ever know. Ah, Camelot was alive and well in D.C..

Americans felt a deep sense of pride over the Kennedys. Her sophistication, elegance and style rubbed off and every woman wanted a pillbox hat or a Jackie style suit. Women copied her hairstyle and men were in awe of her beauty; women by her grace and femininity. We were thrilled to be able to say, “That’s our President and First Lady.” They rivaled any stars in Hollywood and of course we weren’t aware he was sleeping with one.

Of course we all know things have changed dramatically. We no longer view politicians as anything but subhuman and we hold no illusions. Our repulsion returns each November when we are forced to cast a vote for either bad or horrible and those of us who remember the age of innocence are saddened. Oh to be dumb once more.

So I imagine that’s why many Americans are so possessed with the British Royal family. Yes, I’ll say it, “they look to the Queen as their rock and their comfort and in bad times she is there.” She’s the Mom of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, strong, tough and never veers off course. No matter what chaos reigns around her she steadfastly faces it down. She’s the Queen and they are her loyal subjects.

She brings some stability even when their politicians behave like, well politicians, and act reprehensively and corruptly. They have the Queen to fall back on. It is Her Majesty’s government after all. 

Who can Americans look to when our politicians make us sicker to our stomachs than a night of binge drinking and downing tacos? No one! We can’t look to our Queen to reassure us all is well in the kingdom when it is far from that.

So we are forced to face this new reality alone without a monarch. 

Horrifying suicide rates, rising crime, inflation and having to sell your house to fill your gas tank. What does this do to a person’s psyche?

When I was younger life seemed easier. Despite difficult times one could look forward to a happy occasion or event to take the edge off. There were weddings, confirmations, sweet sixteens, holiday gatherings and other upbeat events to allow one to forget the sadness of the week. 

The last three years in the world there has been an overabundance of yang with no ying to soften the blow.

We have been cut off from the world and even now attending parties or events comes at a risk. 

The world is always changing and yet humans could cope by depending on the comfort of a happy time to ease the difficulty of a crisis. We need more joy, more parties, perhaps although it will never happen, our own Queen. 

Many have ventured out into the world deciding against allowing the forces of evil to impede their ability to live a full life. This has worked out well for some and not so much for others, but risk assessment is an individual’s prerogative.

So I guess we’re on our own here in the USA. By the way there is a rumor Uncle Sam has COVID so we may be out of luck there, too.

What to do When Your Dream Comes True

What To Do When Your Dream Comes True?

  What do you do when a dream comes true? Is there more than one way to deal with the realization that something you’ve strived for and sacrificed to accomplish is now in the rearview mirror of life’s highway? Should we be happy, sad, anxious, at peace or feeling a million other emotions jolting through us like electrical charges? To all of the above I say yes.

We all work toward goals that are clearly laid out on the drafting table of our mind’s eye, yet it seems when they finally materialize they are never exactly like the picture we’ve stared at for years. When there is fulfillment of a dream, it almost always is a bit different than we imagined and usually far better than what we’d conjured. Why is that? Shouldn’t it be exactly as we planned? It happened, but why is it different than we envisioned? We never foresaw that part of the dream or that wonderful addition or twist.

We hear the words and we do hear them often, you must never give up on your dreams. Trite clichés like teamwork makes the dream work and quitters never win and winners never quit keep us moving forward in the blind belief we can control the final outcome. And there’s the rub. Because we do get the outcome, but it’s far better than we planned. Shouldn’t it be perfectly perfect in every way? Who changed it and made it even better than we ourselves could ever imagine? What cosmic force interfered and took our dream and colored outside of our lines. Sure the infrastructure is still there, but the building is far more grand and beautiful than our blueprints.

If it’s true that what man can conceive he can achieve shouldn’t we just simply loosen up a bit? Is the reason some feel a certain letdown after realization of a goal because they simply don’t know where they should be heading next? Or have they driven so long in one direction they can’t imagine a different one. If there is some sort of destiny running alongside us in our quest, why must we embrace the burden fully? Perhaps it is for that very reason that fate rides along with us to simply see how dedicated we are and whether or not our dreams should fall short or be far greater than expected.

Is it merely a case of the smaller the dream the fewer enhancements it should be afforded? Or is every dream worthy of the same grand gesture from our better angels? So I pose a simple question: is the amount of effort we put into a dream what determines how much fate contributes to the outcome? Or is the amount of struggle and disappointment the catalyst for all the help? Is the amount destiny contributes a result of other disappointments and failures coming back to add to our joy over this one success? And if that’s the case why do so many people never realize their dreams but are instead thrust onto a totally different life path?

I’m not quite certain about the answers to these questions because it seems certain knowledge can never be made available and although we believe we have it all worked out, we usually don’t. I suppose there are people who achieve a dream and say, “Okay now that’s done so I can relax and play golf.” But there are also others who feel once a dream has been accomplished it only means another one begins. It is in essence a piggyback effect and leads to new chapters and adventures, perhaps never before imagined. We can never be quite certain of where a moment might lead. Small choices that may seem irrelevant to our journey can in fact be the very thing that propels us into the place we’ve struggled to reach.

One hears stories of how a simple act like making a wrong turn or getting into the wrong elevator can create an opportunity to achieve a goal long abandoned. So maybe dreams once dreamt are really never forgotten and are always possible despite our own choices.
When I was a comedian I dreamed of being on the Tonight Show. To receive a visit from the suits at NBC was the goal of every jokester that stood on a stage. Thirty-six years later I got the call and made it to NBC not because of my comedy, but because of an appearance on the Food Network. So was my comedy inconsequential to my journey or only one wheel on the vehicle that would drive me forward to success? It wasn’t the Tonight Show, it wasn’t a sitcom, it wasn’t anything I ever could have imagined and yet all the things I’d done in my life led up to the moment I entered Universal Studios and saw the Peacock emblem.

Was it what I’d imagined, heavens no. It was an experience far greater than my own limited dreams could take me. And now I must try to imagine the next stop on the journey after the detour I’ve just realized. So am I unique, not at all. If I had a dollar, even with the inflation this bad, for every time I heard someone say, “what happened was far beyond my wildest dreams,” I’d be richer than the Kardashians.

So in truth I must admit, it was, far greater that is. Would I still like to have had a moment with Johnny Carson? Of course. We don’t just stop caring about our goals although they’ve been surpassed and turned out differently than imagined. But I know now that it was the quest to be on the Tonight Show that led me to Baking It and the enhanced dream. There are always pitfalls, letdowns and disappointments on the road to achievement , but when success finally arrives it brings with it a sense of wonder and fulfillment far greater than can be imagined.

In the end I suppose one might say the powers that be usually want more for us than we want for ourselves, and in the end they do have the power after all.

Good luck with your dreams and let 2022 be the year you achieve, and believe it can be even greater than you ever imagined.  

What We Need to Be Real

What We Need to be Real

 I believe in Merlin the Magician. Of course believing in the greatest wizard who ever or never lived might seem foolishness personified to some, and cause great disagreement with the Harry Potter fans, but I choose to believe there once was a Merlin and a King Arthur complete with Knights of the Round Table that served their king with bravery and dedication. I’m not the only one so don’t look at me like that, man has been fascinated with the Arthurian legend forever.

Of course many would look at me and say I’m a few ants short of a picnic for this outrageous statement, however I’ve found life is incredibly easier if we give in to our inner child occasionally and treat ourselves to a great fantasy, like a hot fudge sundae with no calories once a month. Okay. So most people don’t wait a whole month, and okay so maybe it’s more like once a week, but my point remains the same. A great happy ending often does more for the soul than chocolate.

Yet, as the year ends I’m forced as so many to take stock and examine the past 365 days to make some type of value judgment on all events. So you might ask of me, why am I fixated on Merlin? Simply in this second year of COVID insanity for me Merlin represents magic, pots of gold at the end of rainbows and unicorns with magic-studded horns. Of mysterious forests filled with wood nymphs and fairies. I choose to believe there is magic in the world and whether or not I see it is irrelevant for it exists beyond my sight. Outside the realm where we must live and deal with the mundane and ordinary is a place filled with all the mystical wonders that escape slowly when mankind most needs to believe.

There is something within us that craves more purity and greatness than what we see with our eyes and can defy the senses. A question I must ask, why is it so easy to believe in the evil that exists beyond the world of the seen and not the good? Is it because wickedness dominates us now?

If one asked a room of people if the devil exists I am certain the answers would come down to three: no, yes he exists and three, wickedness exists so I guess you could call it the devil, in a way. For reasonably if evil exists in the world, and one look at Congress and there can be no argument on the issue, then who is the force behind that malevolence? And please don’t blame voters who are consistently faced with choosing between the lesser of two evils.

So why are we as human beings so smitten by the dark side of man’s nature and cast aside a belief in the mystical so easily? Especially when our souls crave it so. Fire-breathing dragons and monsters that go bump in the night are far more believable than Tinkerbell. And yes I clap because I believe in fairies. There is a war inside all of us between the innocence of our youthful fantasies that embrace the proverbial happy ending, and the pragmatist that cannot deny the wicked side of man’s nature so apparent in our daily lives. Now more than ever our society is faced with the inescapable truth that man’s nature too easily succumbs to its evil intentions. How shall we believe otherwise when each day we are bombarded with proof of the decline of goodness and righteousness?

Shall we blame the media? I, as a member of that once illustrious group must admit there is some truth to that statement. It is certainly a well-known belief among the press that if it bleeds it leads, and that holds true even more so today. How can mainstreaming bad be good? There doesn’t seem to be any positive news any longer so no wonder people are frustrated. This fascination with immorality has overwhelmed them to such a degree we as a society must stand up and cry “No more, please.” We crave less fire-breathing dragons and more angels in our lives.

We can’t go on swimming in the slime of depravity, but must believe that despite Grimm fairy tales there can be a happy ending. Cinderella can live happily after with the prince and damn the divorce statistics, Red Riding Hood saves her grandmother and Beauty and the Beast do live happily after without the need for plastic surgeons. It’s true that if we simply follow the second star to the right and fly straight on until morning we will reach Neverland, and Leprechauns staunchly protect the pots of gold at the end of every rainbow. 

The world is too real right now and when that happens in man’s history evil explodes and the human race must cleanse itself to make the earth once again receptive to the light. World War II was followed by a time of peace and joy when the dragon was slain and the doors of Camelot swung open and we rushed inside.

The true sadness in the now is that we are no longer just hearing of iniquity on the news, we are living it in our daily lives. Crime is rampant, lawlessness abounds and people are overwhelmed by all the insanity that has become a daily occurrence. I have no idea what it will take to slay that dragon breathing down our necks, but I am certain that soon heroes will arise and we will cast it out once more.

As we need to believe that although evil succeeds in the short run, good will ultimately prevail. On that victorious day surely we “won’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.” 

Wishing a beautiful and mystical new year to us one and all.        




We Have Nothing to Fear But a Lack of Fear

President Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Those words have persevered throughout the decades and been closely aligned to the difficulties he spoke of facing this great nation when he took office. Yet, is the lack of fear a good thing and is a fear of fear merely another fear we embrace? Then if we fear fearing isn’t that actually experiencing fear of fear? I’m confused, and what else is new? Sure, Yoda said fear leads to the dark side, but can’t a total lack of it sometimes lead to disaster? I bring up this quandary at this moment in time because of the fact we are living in incredibly scary times. There is so much craziness in our existence it would be practically impossible to be a Pollyanna. COVID19, global warming, rising crime rates, racism, Antisemitism, Congress (Ooh, that one really makes my blood run cold!) and all sorts of scary things that go bump in the night and threaten our sleep. So I pose a simple question, when is it okay to be fearful?

Recently I experienced a strange moment while dining at a restaurant with a friend and sitting outdoors waiting for a table. Usually I’m double masked just to ensure some slippery little COVID bug doesn’t slip through that cotton protective gear that has now become part of my face, but I felt a bit bold and obviously too comfortable in my environment on such a beautiful day. The sky was blue, the temperature perfection and the fresh air enticing so I removed the mask and presented naked faced to the world around me.Was this bold or stupid? I’m still pondering that decision because of what happened next. A couple sitting nearby told us they had driven an hour and a half and always enjoyed this particular restaurant when in the area. We began speaking and the husband said he was a chiropractor and bragged he had never caught COVID although his choice was to forego a mask or receive the vaccine. Has this man never heard of the Jewish fear of bragging about something, what Jewish people call a Kenahora or instant bad luck? Such foolish arrogance may lead to disaster if the devil happens to be listening to your conversation at that moment and sees an opportunity for a bit of fun at your expense by deciding to make a liar out of you?

Of course my hand immediately went toward my face to give coverage, but since I didn’t want to appear overly paranoid I didn’t re-don my mask. In retrospect I probably should have sprinted out of there like Jesse Owens being chased by Hitler. When they got up to go to their table she walked up to me, stood above my chair and leaned in closer to wish me a good day. It was so fast I couldn’t react and when they left My friend turned to me and said, “Sure, have a good day if you’re still alive.”

Okay, we laughed but in my mind I was writing my will. Of course I’m vaccinated but due to receive a booster this week. To say I’m feeling more vulnerable would be an understatement.

Let me be clear here that I am not an advocate of telling others how to live their lives.If someone chooses not to receive the vaccine it is entirely their own decision to make and none of my business.  I made a choice to have it, but others are certainly entitled to make their own. Having said that I must also add that although one is free to forego the vaccine or mask, that doesn’t free them from something called human decency and responsibility toward others by acting as a good citizen. Behaving in a reckless manner to endanger other’s health is quite another kettle of fish and a stinky one to boot. Since no one can be certain about that tricky little virus called COVID and now so many who are even vaccinated are coming down with breakthrough cases, to be aloof would to me seem inconsiderate and thoughtless toward others. To be unmindful of personal space and the fact others may actually want to go on living and not have you be the one to choose their time of death is inexcusable.

I totally respect someone’s decision to be unvaccinated and unmasked, but Bitch keep your germs outta my face!

So I now return to my original question, is fear really the boogieman some make it out to be? Or is a little fear a necessary and smart thing to possess as a barrier to chaos? I have a friend who lives with so much fear that on her tombstone it must be added. “She Worried.”

 I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “you can’t live your life in fear.” So I don’t, but who’s the crazy one here?

Shouldn’t I have been more fearful around strangers and continued wearing my mask although outside that restaurant?Was letting my guard down a good idea in this instance? Is fear getting a bad rap? Do we too often equate fear with common sense and self-preservation? So where is the line between fearful and paranoid? And can we be certain in these times that line still exists? I truly believe we can only do so many stupid things in our life before one catches up with us. Still, we all know people who have done more than their share of stupid and are thriving pretty well.

So what’s the answer to how much fear is okay to fear? Or something like that. In a word or three, I don’t know. What I do know is in today’s world perhaps it’s okay to examine how keeping some fear on the menu isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s a matter of semantics really. Some will fudge the issue by saying, “No Norma you shouldn’t be fearful, simply exercise a bit of caution.” To that I answer “Bullpucky?” Caution is just the acceptable form of fear that is politically correct and easily justified. Being a cautious person evokes intelligence and responsibility, traits to be applauded. Being fearful evokes “she’s a paranoid nutcase and needs to get a grip.”

And yet they are the same thing after all. For what is caution but fear put into action? If I had worn my mask would I be acting out of fear or caution? Put that one in your Meerschaum pipe and smoke it.

I guess I’m tired of being seen as a nut because I’m scared. Does this sense of foreboding stop me from living my life, laughing hysterically at Larry David or choosing to eat salmon once in a blue moon instead of an entire Hershey bar with almonds? No way. I feel very confident that I can multitask and be scared while still enjoying my life. Perhaps even a bit more knowing I’m making  “cautious” decisions.

So if I survive that thoughtless woman’s germs, you’ll hear from me again soon. Stay safe, not so much from COVID, but from the crazies out there. Caution is good choice when dealing with the masses nowadays.            

Norma Zager, The Hollywood Grammy, COVID19, Yoda, Fear itself, Franklin Roosevelt, Larry David, Congress, masks, vaccine, bitch

Goodbye Year of COVID and Please Let the Door Hit You in the Ass on the Way Out!

It’s a well known fact life moves faster than the speed of light and when wisdom arrives it’s already too old to outrun the past. Saying goodbye to the last year I’m shocked I could be so happy to see a year go by at my age. Seriously. I’m never happy to see time pass anymore.

Yet, this year is of course the exception and we are all optimistic and betting 2021 will be a winner and life will once again return to normal.

Reflecting on the last twelve months I’ve come to the conclusion it would be simpler if time moved backward ala Benjamin Button to acquire wisdom we can use throughout our lives.

So many talk about others as an old soul. I imagine they are alluding to knowledge beyond one’s years, but can one actually move beyond their own knowledge without actually living the lessons confronting each of us?

The most effective teacher is experience and there is a limit on the hours we possess each day.

So because I have so much time on my hands now, and it would be wise to use it for something besides opening the refrigerator, I’ve invented something that will revolutionize living.

Ladies and Germs I give you, wait for it…the wisdom clock.

Easy to use and I’m sure the price could be brought down to an affordable number for everyone. I should probably go on Shark Tank to get funding although I’m certain Mr. Wonderful (how misnamed is that guy?) would call me stupid and say it’ll never sell.

I am however equally as sure Lori Greiner would grab it up to promote on QVC and sell millions with very little effort.

So by now you’re wondering what this amazing invention would do for you.

Well step right up ladies and gents and give me a moment of your time to tell you about the greatest cure all since Uncle Billy’s Rheumatism Eraser and Housecleaning Oil.

Simple to operate as one has merely to set the clock ahead to any future time and it will transport you to a lesson you haven’t yet learned.

This goes so far beyond H.G. Wells and his rinky-dink time travel machine, he should be embarrassed.

You just set it and instantly you’re living in that moment and watching your future.

For example you have a date with someone new. You set the clock ahead for one year and it shows you what’s happening on that day.

Okay, I didn’t say it would always be pleasant, but just think how great it would be if you knew in advance someone was going to break your heart six months into the relationship?

You’d simply cancel the date and avoid the mistake.

Our operators are standing by to take your orders.

Or perhaps you’re torn by a decision of whether to take a new job or stay put.

Turn that dial; check out a year from now and voila. It’s all there and either you’ve moved onto a fabulous position or to a terrible state.

You could even check out that new hair color and save yourself the pain. Need I even mention buying Apple at $22.00 a share?

No wondering or stressing about choices now.

This is better than Dial a Psychic and you don’t have to pay by the minute.

Just imagine how much anguish you’d prevent had you known the future.

The wisdom clock, what a concept, step right up no waiting.

To acquire knowledge without enduring the pain that accompanies life lessons is an amazing feat. I’m surprised no one has thought of this before. Forget Facebook or Google schmoogle, the wisdom clock is the bomb.

To eliminate heartache and suffering by merely having the information we all need in advance is a gift.

However, since it may be a while before I get this thing to market what can we do in the meantime to avoid making mistakes?

Without the wisdom clock we’re on our own.

Yet, if we’re honest we’ve always had the power to make good choices had we only heeded the signs. Perhaps we should’ve listened to that little voice inside giving us a stomachache when we were about to embark on a foolish decision?

Thinking back on my life every bad choice I’ve ever made has been accompanied by a sign waving red flags I chose to ignore.

Watching The Crown the other night and it’s extraordinary, I was quite taken by the fact there were so many red flags and roadblocks thrown in Diana’s path before she married Charles. Not even small ones, but Whoopi Goldberg screaming, “Diana you in trouble girl, get the hell out of here!” Alas, perhaps owing to youth, lack of wisdom, some might say destiny, she forged ahead into a doomed marriage.

Yet we are all Diana many times, moving and choosing with sheer abandon situations we sense will not have a happy ending. Still, we talk ourselves into believing it’s okay because we simply want them to be.

Some more than others we are in some ways Cleopatra: Queen of Denial and ignoring that little voice inside screaming, “run like hell.”

So why do some people possess the ability to choose wisely and some just never get it right?

I’ve noticed those who make good choices have good lives, but many stumble into good fortune through no great insight or intelligence of their own.

So maybe the wisdom clock is no more effective than having good instincts and heeding our own warning voice.

Oftentimes the noise in our heads drowns out those better choices and we fall head first into chaos.

It’s so much easier to evoke the “it-was-meant-to-be excuse” than simply admit you screwed up.

I guess that’s how we all get through the day and perhaps that is a special kind of ingenuity in the end.

Realizing that no matter how certain we are we’ve made the right call, sometimes it just turns out the way it’s supposed to, bad or good.

Wisdom doesn’t simply appear with age for I would argue many people learn nothing as they grow older and remain unwise until the end.

In Vegas terms, life is a gamble and our choices are no more than a bet on the poker table and we all must ante up. The stakes can be grossly high or sometimes infinitesimal, but if you’re in the game remember, the house always wins.

May the house be yours in 2021 and all your bets pay off big! Happy New Year, everyone!

There’s a Disturbance in the Force

There’s a Disturbance in the Force

I imagine it’s inevitable and every writer faces a tragic truth one day. I’d always believed simply sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper or of course now a computer screen would ultimately produce the desired result and emit forth a wealth of plentiful prose. It was simply a matter of time I told myself and the words would flow like money from a drunken gambler at a Las Vegas craps table. Truthfully they always did, until now.

I must face the fact that after the captivity of COVID I’ve run out of things to say.

My mind is clouded by the numbness that grows out of boredom and despite my efforts I can’t find the words, or any words actually.

Yet, of course why would I? Cooped up like a veal my mind has glossed over from too much media and carbohydrates.

What a combo. Although of course this seems to be a teenager’s dream and I’m certain it once was mine, the lack of stimulus has become malignant.

Like everyone I strive to remain relevant and in tune with the universe.

Calls to friends whom like myself feel the need to escape their bonds of virus prison may for a moment lessen the lack of communication with my fellow beings, but this isn’t entirely about conversation.

Perhaps that’s what we’ve forgotten or probably never before knew.

Living is not predicated by simply interacting with others, but with the other.

So what is the other other?

The other is the mere act of living within the world.

COVID has forced us to retreat and that is harmful to what creates the energy we all absorb into our lives.

Of course there are many that still venture out to stores, teach, work over the Internet or meet with friends.

But what of those who choose to remain behind closed doors hopefully safe from COVID’s clutches?

Strangely enough the result is the same for both.

My friends that go out feel equally as stifled and imprisoned as those who hide away.

I couldn’t imagine why and it didn’t seem to make any sense at all.

Yet truly it does.

If we believe there is an energy that permeates the world and enters into each life than the virus has zapped that power whether you’re home or outside.

There is to put it quite simply a disturbance in the force, young Skywalker and everyone feels the interruption.

Of course I’m not the first to speak about life forces and energy and certain I can’t possibly explain it as well as Master Yoda, but I’m actually witnessing the effects with my own eyes. I’m guessing this is something none of us has noticed before.

How many times have you felt something uplifting while just walking down a street looking in windows, or how satisfying it was driving a new car on a gorgeous spring day, listening to music and simply enjoying your freedom? It could be that happy feeling holiday shopping in the mall when everyone is rushing from store to store intent on finding the perfect gift?

Perhaps it is when sitting by the ocean and wiggling your toes in the wet sand on a cool autumn day when the beach is quiet and the waves are your only company that you feel alive and at peace.

These small moments that don’t amount to anything earth shaking like creating world peace, cleansing the oceans or curing cancer seem at times all we need.

There is satisfaction in being part of a world that is in motion, absorbing the essence of life in those around you. The unique connection each human being creates by simply existing in the universe, feeling and contributing to the energy.

This is something else COVID has given us. The frustration and hopelessness humans feel when they are captive and lose their sense of community.

Going for a walk, taking a drive or visiting with friends seems to make things better, and perhaps for a time it works. Still it’s merely a band-aid on a massive wound and why despite how hard we try we can’t stop the bleeding.

We need to see a smile on the person walking toward us, we need to feel the hugs of our family and friends, to travel and absorb the energy of novel places, new sights and active people. There is something palpable about a busy street or airport filled with travelers. Our souls require more than the latest Netflix offering, we crave the other.

Human beings cannot survive behind masks, closed off from the life force that sustains us.

There’s a reason people are suspicious of loners, anti social behavior and shut ins. Most view it as an unnatural and foreign state.

Of course some people are quite content by themselves and most are happy to be alone some of the time. Only it’s in the knowing that life is outside our door for the taking we remain secure and sane.

In our DNA we are social animals and being blocked off from the other has consequences. During this pandemic for the first time we as a human race are seeing these results up close and personal.

So what can one do to create at least a bit of the energy? At this point I suppose it’s the band-aid effect upon which we must rely. Call a friend, social distance, go outside, walk or take a ride. Have a picnic or go to the beach, there is something quite calming about the ocean. It won’t restore all our energy but at least a portion until our tank is once again full.

Without putting a name to it we sense something is missing and the effect on our life force is stifling. So until we are free to experience others and the other as well, I wish you fulfilling days and may the force always be with you.

Nothin’ Says Lovin’

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Nothin’ Says Lovin’

I can’t claim to know much anymore, but one thing is for sure…after this damn COVID is over I’m done cooking. I feel like my children are young again and I’m spending all day in the kitchen playing chef du jour for my little angels and my husband.

As in the past once again it’s one bite for you one for the garbage disposal, (that was my nickname back in those days). Now I feel like I should have a t-shirt made for myself printed with Insinkerator.

Only problem is there are no kids here to split my food with so it’s all going into the garbage disposal, AKA me.

Last night I dreamed my oven was hiding behind my bedroom door waiting to attack me with a giant spatula. It tied me up and force-fed me zucchini chips while it screamed, “Do you have to make crummy veggies that spend all day in the oven drying out? Don’t I deserve a break? I can’t take anymore I’m a wreck.” Then it broke down and started to cry. It trudged out of the room after handing me a coupon for Dominos and a copy of Shakespeare with a quote about the quality of mercy being strained or something.

Guilt from my oven? What’s next, a letter from the Chinese requesting money for the sick scientists who brought us COVID? Much like the guy who murdered his parents and threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.

I can’t even think of a single food that appeals to me anymore. My taste buds are telling me, “No thanks man, I’m good,” and closing down.

I’ve baked, sautéed, fried, stewed, roasted, chopped, sliced and mooshed and nothing even appeals to me anymore. I’ve air-dried and French-fried and I’m fried, period. I’ve even sold my soul for Creole and I’m just plain done.

I’ve eaten every cuisine from here to Outer Mongolia and I’m wondering if the Astronauts have any suggestions.

If you see a flying saucer would you please flag it down and see what they’re serving on board for lunch.

The other day I’d swear I saw a feather growing out of my tuchas from all the chicken I’ve eaten.

No, Charlie Tuna I’m no threat anymore so rest easy.

No more Jiff in a Jiffy no more Burger Kings or Dairy Queens, and Jack can just close his box because I’m not interested.

No Chick Fil A or Chick Fil B for me cause I’m over this whole COVID food thing.

I know I should be grateful to be here in peace and quiet, eating, cooking, baking and answering to no one’s taste buds or food cravings but my own.

Sorry, not feeling it.

If someone else made me a taco would I bite? Maybe, but I won’t guarantee that would work.

I’m just tired and can’t get my taste buds excited about anything anymore.

Eating as a hobby is getting super old and I want to go back to my old life. Retail cardio, now that’s a hobby. I never realized what a thrill it would be to walk down the crowded aisles of a store and just stare at something until I decide to buy or not to buy.

Oh sure, Amazon may pretend to have aisles but they don’t.

When was the last time you stood weighing a buying decision until someone came by with their cart and barked, “Do you mind?” Oh to hear the sound of a rude customer annoyed because I’m blocking her way again.

Or to play Maj Jong and hear the clackity clack of the tiles on the table as I two bam four crack happily along while shoveling in handfuls of chocolate-coated gummy bears.

Lord, I’d even settle for hearing the words “blue light special aisle six,” over the loud speaker.

Cooking doesn’t cut it. Sure for the first few months it was fun to be in the kitchen, now I feel like I’m on the spinning teacups at Magic Mountain when my overwhelming nausea forced me to insist the guy stop the ride so I could get off. (My son doesn’t like me to repeat that story, apparently the embarrassment he suffered was traumatic).

Please let me out of the kitchen so I can get back to living my life, bitching about LA drivers, sitting and fuming in traffic, looking for a parking spot at the mall out of the sun, hanging up on and cursing at robocalls.

Oops, wait a minute those are stressful things that make me want to eat more.

Is there no way I can escape food? Must I be forever attached to my oven and chained to the stove top?

I totally envy those who can use this moment of quarantine for Peloton riding or speed walking about the neighborhood or even exercising in front of the flat screen with some anorexic zealot.

I’m just not one of them.

As a foodie my instincts are for food to fill time as I try to convince myself I’m not bored as hell. Meanwhile I’m chomping at the bit to get the heck out of this place like Seabiscuit at the starting line.

Some days I just want to scream “Help,” out the window as the fitness conscience walkers speed by. Full of themselves and their whole damn healthy outlook while I dip another double stuff Oreo into the milk and toss it into my mouth.

Now I’m in a real conundrum because the joy of shoveling in calories has waned and I’m feeling down, and when I’m down I habitually look toward food to lift me up.

This cannot be good.

So I’m forced to do the unthinkable…find something besides eating to make me happy and fill the hours.

Yes, I know there are millions of things besides consuming edibles, yet I’ve never considered them an appropriate substitute for good old chocolate.

So I shall wrack my brain compiling a list of productive pastimes. Hopefully after a few weeks of practicing a wholesome lifestyle, my taste buds will return to normal and welcome some fried cluck with biscuits or an oink lettuce and tomato sandwich or a fake whopper with real bacon and Burger King’s less than stellar French fries.

After all, one must keep hope alive and in the age of COVID, perhaps that’s the best we can hope for, besides curbside pick up of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

spinahricottaballs

I’m Speechless So I Guess Hell Froze Over

For those who know me and would never have fathomed I’d ever run out of things to say, I must announce that the day is finally here. Hell froze over and I’m speechless, dumbfounded and can’t even think of anything to write about.

This of course is no surprise because in order to find new and interesting things to say you need to live your life out in the world. Since that is something I can’t do right now thanks to COVID, what is new and exciting to report?

The world is an interesting place when you’re in it, but since we’re forbidden from venturing forth into the outside climes, well I have to admit it’s a bit boring.

Sure I could watch television and moan about the people going out sans mask, partying and spreading the virus to innocent people. Freedom schmeedom, because we’re free can we explode a bomb in a crowded theater? I think not.

Or perhaps I could bitch about the fact that the geniuses that run the states and cities are letting criminals out of jail so they can go on killing, raping and committing crimes in a safer environment. Should I sleep better at night knowing that someone who raped ten women is not in danger of catching the virus?

Maybe we can talk about the fact my hair looks awful, my nails are non-existent and my roots are growing faster than a politician’s lies.

We could talk about these things I suppose, but why? Life is depressing enough right now.

I’m well aware sitting home, watching television and eating isn’t a hardship, although most men would be far happier if their television schedule included sports. Sorry about that, guys. There are worse things than staying at home, sitting on the patio reading a book, feeding the squirrels and zooming with your grandchildren all day.

Yet, I’m afraid these activities don’t really make for very interesting conversation.

How many times can you ask a friend, “So what did you eat for lunch?” I sound like my father who felt monitoring his children’s caloric intake was akin to brushing your teeth each day.

I imagine one could ask, “So what did you buy online today?” Yet truly having Amazon deliver a box of Softsoap isn’t the most sparkling topic.

Besides who needs to shop when were all in our pajamas and sweats?

Okay, so here’s the deal…I’m making up a pretend life. After all I’m a writer and should have a vivid imagination so now’s my time to prove it. I’m going to tell you about the week I wish I’d had, but couldn’t because I can’t leave the damn house!

So in my imagination I’m in Roma. Italy, not Ohio. I didn’t need a plane to fly there because I took a magic carpet that I borrowed from a friend down the street who just returned from her pretend trip to Istanbul. Maybe I’ll fly there next week, no masks and lots of empty seats beside me on the rug.

Anyway we’re back in Rome and I’m walking toward the Spanish Steps. Boy, those are high and my feet are already complaining. I decide to sit for a moment observing all the thousands of people walking about in the square hurrying toward their next destination or favorite outdoor café for the world’s most delicious pasta.

Ahead of me is the Via del Corso, the premiere shopping area in Rome and women rush about carrying bags labeled Fendi, Gucci and Dior as their heels clackity clack on the cobblestone streets.

In the distance are the hills of Rome; magical and legendary like a painting by an old master.

Two kids walk by eating cones with gelato dripping down the sides, their mother wiping their hands as they struggle to keep licking their precious treat.

Four young men are standing at the base of the steps speaking Italian, smoking, laughing and checking out women as they pass. Italian men, gotta love ‘em. Some women pretend not to notice, but smile as they walk past flattered to be noticed and admired. I think how nice it would be to be young again as I pull out my phone and check Vatican tour times.

I grab a cab and head to St. Peter’s Basilica to see the impressive statue of St. Peter, his feet shiny and worn from all the pilgrims who’ve rubbed them in a desperate attempt to garner his blessings and help.

I stare up at the magnificent dome created by Michelangelo and I’m stunned by the way it catches the light filling the space with color.

To my left is a small alter containing two confessionals of dark, ancient wood. As I get closer I notice the worn steps at their entrances where so many have entered to ask forgiveness and a blessing.

I’m in line to enter the Sistine Chapel and look around at the unbelievable splendor of St. Peter’s Square filled with tourists, priests, nuns and worshippers from all over the world.

Some obese guy I’m guessing from New Jersey by his accent, in Bermudas and Adidas bumps into me and almost pushes me over as a bird poops on my shoulder. Damn, I just had this pashmina cleaned and I search for a Kleenex in my purse.

Ecstasy returns in the chapel as I’m instantly stunned by the sheer magnificence of the space. My eyes hardly know where to focus first. I sit on a bench and look up confused about what side to stare at and my eyes become glued to Adam and God nearly touching. I sit transfixed until I hear a loud clap accompanied by a loud shush. I return to earth and notice the room is still and wonder what’s happening. I continue to stare and in another twenty minutes the clap and shush once again.

I inquire about this strange incident to a nearby observer and I’m told it’s the Sistine Chapel shusher who regularly claps and shushes to reduce the noise level. I decide to apply for that plum job as soon as I leave and remain staring upward until my aching neck insists it’s had enough of all this magnificence.

I head out to an inviting restaurant in Rome’s ancient, Jewish ghetto to experience another Roman culinary masterpiece. My fat self is praying they have good stuffed squash blossoms as taxis and people whiz by me on the busy streets, overflowing with bougainvillea and the sound of clinking glasses and murmurs of “chin chin.”

I’ve left Rome and now I’m back from my adventure sitting on my couch, typing in my jammies and wondering if there are any of those yummy zucchini chips left over.

I’m wishing to see Rome again someday when all this craziness is only a horrible memory and life returns to whatever it will be. As long as Rome is still there, I’m good.

Happy travels on your own magic carpet, everyone.

 

Spinach Ricotta Balls

 

1 package 32 ounces of ricotta cheese.

1 package of spinach fresh or 2 boxes of frozen (if frozen squeezed out well)

Salt

½ cup of Parmesan Reggiano

A pinch of nutmeg

2 eggs

1 tablespoon flour

Spaghetti sauce (optional)

 

Drain the ricotta cheese in cheesecloth over a bowl until dry

Pour the ricotta into a bowl and add spinach.

Mix two eggs in a separate bowl. Add salt and at this point you may add a dash of your favorite Italian seasoning like basil or oregano to the eggs. This is your choice.

Add eggs to the ricotta and spinach and mix then add flour and mix until just incorporated.

Form into balls

At this point you may do a few things as you choose.

First add the balls to boiling water and cook until done and floating. Then serve them with sauce of your choice. May be tomato or make a sauce of brown butter and sage by melting butter in a pan with fresh sage leaves until the butter turns a golden color and smells nutty.

Second you may cook the balls in tomato sauce in the oven sprinkled with cheese. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are We There Yet, Mommy? Are We There Yet, Daddy?

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Are We There Yet, Mommy?

Are We There Yet, Daddy?

As every parent knows, the most annoying question bar none is, “are we there yet?”

How many of us have had to sit in the car and listen to that question ad nauseum from their children?

Okay my turn…Are we there yet, is COVID gone?

I am sooo over this whole hanging-in-the-house thing. I’ve been patient, stayed put watching Netflix, ate healthy and took walks.

Now I’ve morphed into shoveling in chocolate chip cookies and popcorn and spend more time flipping channels than watching programs.

Although I know the vaccine will be here in October, what will that mean?

The older generation won’t be running out to get stuck until they watch to see if anyone drops dead.

We’re too old to be guinea pigs and we’d rather watch from the sidelines than jump into the game. Besides jumping isn’t an option when you need a walker or cane and are still doing physical therapy for your new knee or hip.

So how will we ever get back to normal?

Aha! That’s the rub because even when we get out of lockdown, captivity or self-imposed quarantine the world we once knew is no longer there.

I feel like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode when after a nuclear war he finally had all the time in the world to read his books unencumbered and he broke his glasses.

The pre-COVID world was a different place and especially senior citizens will have to accept that the world they knew is gone.

So what will replace the old world?

Well, COVID is not the lynchpin that created the changes, it only intensified what was already transforming.

Ever since 9/11 we’ve had to face the fact that the freedom of movement we’ve always enjoyed since the advent of air travel has been severely restricted.

Terrorism impeded our ability to run amuck along with our own aging bodies.

Sure we figured out a way to get that new hip, but we haven’t figured out a way to see London Bridge without a lunatic running up and stabbing people. Or walking through a German Christmas market without crazies attacking, attending a concert or sightseeing in Madrid or Nice or any number of insane events we’ve witnessed.

I haven’t mentioned Israel because terrorism is a way of life for them and something one accepts when they head there for a visit.

Yet impediments aside we’ve grabbed our passports, packed our carry on and bitten the bullet. We’ve become the “oh-well-what-will-be-will-be” generation and decided that our priority was to live, travel and see the world despite the obvious risks.

So what’s changed? Plenty.

We once believed that after those trips to London, Rome, Vienna or Prague, visits to Singapore, China or Viet Nam we’d return home to our safe perch in America.

Sure, crime existed, but we felt safe and secure in front of our televisions watching baseball and munching on chips and guacamole while running outside to check the ribs on the grill.

Guess that’s over. America is not the same country now.

After COVID most assume we’ll just go back to business as usual, unscathed and unafraid.

Sorry, we need a reality check here. Cities are burning, law and order is in flux and familiar sights and sounds in our communities are gone.

Neighbors who once disagreed over which football team would prevail now refuse to talk to one another over politics.

Families have separated, friendships been destroyed, cities are in chaos, favorite businesses closed, entire sections of communities burned and boarded up.

It’s like walking out of your house after a nuclear holocaust and into a city in ruins.

Am I exaggerating? Actually I’m not sure, but I hope I am. I’m also from Detroit where it took 53 years to bring back a city torn to shreds and resembling London after the blitz, so there’s that.

So many people I know have said they are through traveling and will be staying closer to home.

Yes, cocooning is the new norm. People will entertain in their houses, man caves and she sheds will become palatial and so well appointed the Four Seasons will pale by comparison.

Media rooms will be enhanced and back yards will feature the same elements as the most fabulous five star resorts.

Lush landscaping, pools and recreational games will fill what once was a grass-filled area.

In case anyone doubts that things have changed just do an attitude check on your own friends.

Everybody is just a little bit crankier than they were four months ago. Oh sure everyone is trying to be so brave and double chins up (that would be as a result of the COVID 15 pound gain) but we all know we’re totally over this and ready to break out.

Actually, that’s the irony. After the initial run outside to our cars, faster than a racer at the Indy 500 I’m sure, and that visit or two to the mall, lunch with friends and dinner out on Saturday night, one news story about a rise in crime and we’ll all be hanging in the man cave watching football and sucking down beers like it’s Superbowl Sunday every weekend.

I’ve promised myself I’ll travel more and have my destinations all picked out, but will my will be diminished by a new terrorist attack or perhaps a few new cases of the virus popping up? Or maybe by China unleashing some new plague from some bat they’ve been harboring in a lab somewhere?

The world has changed dramatically and although we all want to believe that once we can hit the ground running we will, our habits have changed and we may not.

We now order Amazon and watch Netflix on that new 80-inch smart TV, we love that new patio furniture and those plans for an outdoor kitchen like our best friends just installed.

Whether we’ve realized it or not we’re now conditioned to staying close to home where we feel safe and secure against an onslaught of insanity that permeates the outside world.

When the virus is gone, that will be gone, but it won’t take with it the other tragic changes we’ve witnessed in our communities and that is what will ultimately define our new lifestyles.

Are we there yet? Perhaps soon, but where we’ll be when we get there, now that remains to be seen.

   Champagne Grape and Almond Chicken

4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs

flour for dusting

½ cup of champagne

½ cup seedless red grapes

½ cup seedless green grapes

½ cup sliced almonds

½ cup of chopped celery or bok choy

1 ½ cups of heavy cream

½ teaspoon of tarragon

salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour

Sauté chicken in a mix of butter and oil until done

Add celery or bok choy or both and sauté for a few minutes, but keep the crunch in the vegetables

Remove chicken and set aside

Add champagne and deglaze pan then add cream, grapes, tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.

Lower heat and simmer until cream coats back of a spoon. High heat will break the cream and ruin the dish. Always thicken cream sauces on a low heat and never boil.

Add back chicken and reheat then serve immediately with almonds on the top.

 

 

 

 

 

Doing the COVID Crazy Dance

Doing the COVID Crazy Dance

There’s a new disease in town, COVIDphobia and I’m sad to say I am COVIDphobic. I have a feeling it’s a close cousin to Agoraphobia or the fear of leaving the house. I imagine the difference would be that Agoraphobics are afraid to leave home for numerous reasons and the COVIDphobic has only one—a scary, horrible, evil virus waiting outside your door to kill you.

Okay, I need to take a breath here, but I fear going outside won’t be as easy as I once thought. Cause I’ve discovered something about myself…I’m a big fat chicken.

That’s right; as yellow as a barnyard hen and clucking day and night as I wander about wiping doorknobs, light switches, all surfaces and anything that doesn’t move.

Have I gone COVID crazy? You bet.

Groceries that are delivered must be wiped, removed from their outer wrappings and if they aren’t perishable they don’t enter for at least a week. A precaution just in case there’s a speck of virus sitting on my diet Snapple bottle waiting to jump up and attack me in my sleep.

I feel like I’m in Viet Nam and there are gorilla fighters in every tree and swamp. Apocalypse Now? Perhaps.

So how are we just supposed to leave the house and live our lives as though nothing has happened?

Well I guess millions of people are. I saw the opening of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and it seems the gambling gene is not affected by COVID cause that place was rocking.

So why am I so convinced that there is a virus lurking outside my door, like a private eye on a stakeout, scarfing down coffee and donuts until I step outside and boom, gotcha?

So besides gambling what else isn’t affected by COVID-19?

Eating seems to be fine and there is no apparent loss of appetite as we sit in our nests awaiting release. Cooking, tasting, drinking, baking, all fine and dandy and totally unaffected by this whole crazy scene.

What else? Protesting. Seems millions of people aren’t concerned with the virus cause apparently it’s a social activist. Marching is one of its talents so no one is deterred.

It also seems it hasn’t affected criminals who see the fact they wear a mask without being singled out as a real benefit to their violent activities.

Watching television hasn’t been impacted at all. In fact it’s been increased during the quarantine.

So yes, I know we can go out now, it’s allowed and I actually have one friend that never stayed home. She has been on the go and outside running around since this whole thing started. There hasn’t been any change at all to her life except the mask.

Why am I having so much trouble believing it’s safe out there in a COVID-ravaged world? Why do I believe it has another trick up its sleeve and is just waiting for the right moment to show its hand and that hand will land on my back? Is my paranoia normal or are others still frightened to take the plunge back into society?

I have spoken to people who know of no one that has had or died from the virus and I’m shocked. I know far too many. So is that a reason I’m hesitant to rejoin the outside world?

Or have I gone totally COVID crazy and believe my children’s constant warnings about rejoining society?

Not much has ever scared me and I’m a pretty fearless bitch as anyone can tell you. Oh sure, the shower and turn-the-rocking-chair-around scenes in Psycho still scare the living- you-know-what out of me, and the sight of Nancy Pelosi without her Botox injections could put me over the edge, but mostly I can hold my own, bravery wise. Yet I can’t find the guts to face off with a teeny-weeny Chinese virus I can’t even see. Shame on me for my cowardice, or am I just being responsible? Color me COVID confused, perhaps another new illness.

I know I’d feel horrible if I ever infected someone and wouldn’t want that on my conscience. To have to live with the idea I needed a chocolate croissant so badly I’d risk my life and the life of others to get one, well how could I?

Sure a chocolate croissant versus death is a tough call, but still the thought of being stuck here for another six months scares me more than a policeman in my rear-view mirror when I’ve been driving five miles over the speed limit.

I have no answers here. Should one throw caution to the wind and just say, “What the hell?” Or should we act like vigilant soldiers at war with a virus?

If there is a happy medium I’d love to hear what it is soon cause I’m really getting sick of this nuttiness.

There doesn’t seem to be an answer, it’s all a risk. If I go out there is always the chance of contacting the virus, but if I stay inside there is always the chance I’ll lose what’s left of my mind. Not far to go on that one either.

So what’s an old broad to do in the meantime while we await vaccines, cures, Houdini to make it disappear or a miracle? As I used to say when walking the floor with my son at three a.m., “this too shall pass.”

Guess as I continue to ponder, I’ll bake. Check out my new recipe for oatmeal caramel cookies. Enjoy and stay safe.

 

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature,
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • Sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 12 Kraft caramels

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and baking soda; set aside.

Combine the butter with both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed and add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat about 1 minute then add flour mixture.

Unwrap your caramels and cut each of them into four small pieces. Add to mixture before oats and mix them in well.

A small hint here: after cutting the caramels just toss them very lightly in flour and they won’t stick together in the cookie dough.

Stir in the oats, cover and chill dough for one hour to overnight. This is optional as I have baked them without chilling and they turn out great.

Drop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and I use a tablespoon, but use a small ice cream scooper if you have one. They should be two inches apart because they will spread. Drop a smidge of sea salt on top of each cookie before baking. This step is optional if you’re not a salt fan or watching salt intake.

Bake until cookies are just golden around the edges, but soft in the center. Should take eight to ten minutes, but ovens may vary, so watch.

Cool on baking sheet a minute or two and then transfer to a wire rack. ENJOY!