cooking, Just bitchin'



For the last couple of months I’ve been trying an experiment.

Spurred by unprecedented allergies spawned by plants and dust boorish enough to insist on occupying the same planet I do, I began searching for a solution.

I don’t like drugs. If a side effect is possible, it will find me. So, tossing antihistamines to the pollen-laden, dust-carrying wind, I sought something that would address the allergy issue from a more natural viewpoint.

And I thought I found it.

I was amazed at the proclamations that were made! The accomplishments touted! The rosy, healthful portrait painted! Imagine…no more allergies. In fact, uncounted physical and mental blessings would shower down upon me if only I would follow the plan.

So I vowed that for two months, I would embrace a grain-free diet.

We’re not talking just ‘gluten free,’ the buzz word that has spread it’s dry, wheatless fingers over our culture with unexpected tenacity. We’re talking no grains at all. The logic behind the diet was intriguing, if un-provable. I didn’t care about losing weight, so this clever plan hooked me with a dazzling array of other benefits.

I would give it a fair shot. I would jump in wholeheartedly.

I bought the book loaded with attractive grain-free recipes. I decided to try their version of ‘bread’ first. This necessitated a shopping trip.

Fine. I was going to do this right. One food processor, a hand mixer, a wooden spoon, various mixing bowls, and an array of hard-to-find-and-extremely-expensive ingredients later…I was ready to begin.

I made their version of ‘bread.’ I felt victorious when it looked like the picture. I figured I could get used to the odd taste…and I did. I was off and running. Allergy-freedom was a mere five days away. But I was warned that those five days could be grueling as my body labored its way through grain withdrawal.

I stuck it out. As long as withdrawal doesn’t involve vomiting and the shakes…I’m your girl. I found it encouraging when I did feel a little under the weather. It was like a promise kept. Surely the rest would come true, too.

Well, two months later I have to admit…the regimen dried up my sinuses. It also dried up my skin, my hair, my eyes, and whatever pads one’s joints to make movement fluid and painless.

“Maybe my body will adjust,” I croaked to myself early on as I awoke in the middle of the night for the seventh time, my throat parched, my skin itching, my eyes grating against their lids loud enough to be audible. “Maybe I just need more time.”

Yeah. Right. I stuck it out for two months.

I traded allergy angst for a full body malady.

I’m off the bloody program. My shopping list for tomorrow unashamedly includes bread, cereal, and a host of other items that will hopefully reboot and re-lube my entire system.

But I think the most telling indictment of this misadventure was when I brought the last loaf of ‘bread’ outside and left it for the host of wild creatures with whom I share my land. I set it out last night.

It’s still there.


Just bitchin'



I was immersed in my addiction to a certain reality show where adults behave abominably and children are dragged through phenomenal amounts of pressure and public censure, when something occurred to me.

Social media has spawned new avenues for abusive behavior, causing the entities that pass and enforce laws to react. It’s an unforeseen and unfortunate cause-and-effect, but it begs a bigger question.

What will be the psychological consequences to those whose lives crest because of the hollow approbation provided by social media?

There are a lot of people surfing the wave of ‘fame’ birthed by reality TV and internet exposure.

For some it’s a flash in the pan. Their 15 minutes of recognition whether it be from trolling a finite event in the ‘real’ world, like a murder trial, or latching onto a celebrity who’ll allow them to tag along in the lukewarm world of Twitter or Instagram or any of the plethora of other ‘hit’-oriented apps.

Most of these relegate that need for attention to a minor place in their lives. It’s just a fun, little thing to pass the time.

But what about the children and, to a lesser extent, the adults who survive much more intensive exposure for years? What about the reality shows that foster their fantasies of being ‘stars,’ of being the centers of attention? And then…end.

There will be consequences to their psyches once their extended stay in the world of manufactured fame is over.

Maybe psychiatrists and psychologists have already explored this, but, from the comfortable environs of my anonymous armchair, I haven’t heard of it. So I made up my own name for it.

I call it Post Traumatic Fame Disorder.

It’s related to PTSD.

Both conditions are behavioral echoes of intense experiences. Both have power over how the sufferer reacts long after the underlying incident has ended.

Everyone has heard the cautionary tales of child stars who peak early. There have been enough of them who’ve plummeted from that first heady taste of fame into troubled lives once their celebrity fades. They trade it in for notoriety. Attention is the only antidote for the longing that’s been fostered within them. Doesn’t matter what kind.

And now reality TV and social media are duplicating that unhappy equation more than ever before.

It’ll be very interesting to see if, a decade or so from now, society will be suffering an epidemic of Post Traumatic Fame Disorder.


The wave of the future…


Just bitchin'



There have always been lilacs.

When I was a child, in the first home I recall, they bordered our yard.

As our truncated, customized version of a family moved from locale to locale, they were the first things my mother would plant. It didn’t matter that it might take years before their piquant blossoms would show; that we would have moved on long before the flowers appeared.

There had to be lilacs taking root while we lived wherever we lived, whenever we lived.

When we finally did put down roots of our own, lilacs thrived.

They grew in purple profusion, spilling their heady scent into our lungs, into our dreams, into our souls, into the languid California nights. The sultry heat of the Southwest drew forth flowers and fragrance that would forever be associated with the lessons of childhood.

And one of the most important was illustrated…by lilacs.

It started as a game.

“Find the five-petaled blossom.”


I and my siblings would scour the heavy panicles of purple or pink or cream or yellow to find…

…the mutant.

Among the overwhelming presence of tiny, four-petaled flowers would lurk the stranger in their midst. The five- or even six-petaled bloom. It was special. Strange. Something to be sought. Something marvel-worthy.

“It stands out,” my mother instructed us. “It does not fit in. It will never be ‘normal.’ But…it is beautiful. It excels the norm. But it will always stand alone.”

Excelling the norm became our motto.

Standing alone became our fate.

My mother raised us.

Lilacs all.


Just bitchin'

Zombie of the Season


It’s insidious.

It wafts about virtually unseen until it accumulates in deceptively pretty, golden drifts. It collects in the crevices and at the interstices of your newly-washed car, your lawn furniture…your innocently-gaping throat and nostrils. Your eyes.

But those are mere diversionary tactics.

It wants your brain.

It’s pollen. The wild, golden child of all those lovely Spring catkins gracefully dipping and swaying in the breeze.

It is the zombie of the plant world.

It wants your brain.

And it shall have it.

Oh, sure, you can try to stave it off with any number of chemical weapons. But sometimes you don’t want to risk the accompanying lethargy. Sometimes you don’t relish the idea of every moist membrane of your body being converted into dry, cracked parchment. Your vivid imagination conjures up sinuses lined with something resembling California’s drought-ridden soil, webbed with arid fissures.

You don’t want that.

So you decide to power through the discomfort, hawking and coughing all the way.

By the time you are reduced to a wheezing, gelatinous mass, abandoned by friends and family because, let’s face it, you’re kind of disgusting like this, you begin to crack. Much like the California drought-ridden soil. The tiny crevices gather and grow and intersect and become one glorious gape.

You shatter.

You take the antihistamine. And it’s not the non-drowsy version, because, well, you’re still laboring under the delusion that you can power through anything the season dishes up. A sign your brain is already under siege.

In a few hours you will blink stupidly instead of speaking cogently. You will nod off over your keyboard. You will struggle for the words just out of reach. You will lick dry lips to no avail. You will rub dry eyes to a sandpapery texture.

You will fix the world in your deadened, dry gaze, and realize the final enormity of your defeat.

You and pollen have become one. You are the outward manifestation of pollen.

Zombies both.

It wanted your brain.

And it got it.