Thursday, January 27, 2011

How I "made up" the Biggest Lie of my life...

(...and then finally did an About Face)
    (December 2013) A friend who's known me for many years recently threw out this casual remark: "You used to be so pretty, Sylvia. I mean, you were really stunning."
    He didn't hurt my feelings. Actually, I laughed. I was never beautiful, or even cute. I aggressively, desperately, painstakingly camouflaged my natural homeliness with makeup. Ha, ha, Fred: I fooled you!
    Beginning in my mid-teens, and continuing through my mid-40s, I embraced a career as a fine artist. Each morning, I approached the bland, blank, quite icky canvas of my face, and painted upon it the most striking portrait I could muster. From sun-up to sundown, I was in "full regalia," forging through life disguised as good-looking girl. My time-consuming labors served me very well. I got pretty much everything I wanted.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Roubidoux is a basket case

So we were made for each other. We're also inveterate poseurs, but he's better at it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Elderly Girl Helps Win the Civil War, and then Conquers 1890s Paris

    (1/19/14) After chopping off her fabulous hair, binding her bounteous breasts, and gluing a mustache above her oh-so-kissable lips, Elderly Girl distinguished herself as a Union soldier during the Civil War. Her fellow troops were so drawn to her heavenly essence, that they theorized they must have been "turned gay" by the stresses of mass slaughter, and they pursued her relentlessly, even during the Battle of Bunker Hill. What a disgrace! While fighting off her own comrades, she avoided killing the enemy by dazzling them into helplessly shooting themselves. She then went South to help with Reconstruction, and was such an adorably tireless advocate, she was named an "honorary Negro," which was the greatest distinction of her life. The rednecks down there leered at her as if she were a meaty ham hock, and smacked their lips as she walked past.
    Exhausted  by the wanton callousness of American men, she boarded a ship to Paris, hoping to discover a whole new world of civility and provocative ideas. Oh dear, that poor girl. It was more of the same:

    All those Romeos called her "Juliette" as a nod to her Shakespearean grandeur, but she really was the same exact Elderly Girl to whom we still look for advice on beauty, fitness,  interior design, conversational brilliance, lying with conviction, mindful eating and sanitary protection. It's a dirty world, ladies. Beware.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The golden gaze: My kitty's final premonition

Catalina, 1994-2013
    (Jan 16, 2013) For nearly 20 years, my cat and I had a complex, rewarding bond. During the first few years, I was puzzled when she persistently refused to have eye contact with me. Then I read that this is an instinctive behavior: Cats avert their eyes to avoid conflict. In the feline world, eye contact indicates aggression.
    But about 10 weeks ago, Catalina began turning her head toward mine -- as she sat on my lap in the evenings -- and looking directly and deeply into my eyes. I held her gaze, like a nursing mother. It was exhilarating. There was a yearning in her amber stare, something profound. I felt as if she were trying to tell me something, or trying to memorize my face.
    "Either my cat is going to die soon, or I am," I told Joe. He has learned to ignore my melodramatic perspective. I have learned not to ignore my cat's mysterious wisdom.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2B or not to be: An apartment mirrors an existential dilemma

    In the middle of my decade in New York, I lived in apartment 2B of the William and Clara Baumgarten House, at 294 Riverside Drive. I was told several times that this small mansion was originally built for the mistress of a famous tycoon in 1915. My balcony is on the right. I often sat outside in my midnight blue Jean Harlow-style lounge pajamas, drinking coffee, or something more helpful. 
    I loved living there, despite the loud, drunk, sex-screamy neighbors (on both sides of me), the roaches everywhere (laying eggs in one’s underpants…doesn’t that sound like something Kafka would think up?) and the rotting, tiny bathroom and kitchen. I had so many friends, I sometimes forgot how profoundly lonely I was.

FTC action proves yet again that Oz's ethics and expertise need to gain weight

Sorry ladies: Acai is no weight-loss miracle. Oz misoverestimated it.
    (Jan. 8, 2014) Four companies that sell weight-loss products, three of which have been promoted by "The Dr. Oz Show," have been charged with deceptive marketing practices and fined $34 million, according to an article in yesterday's New York Times.
    This is really quite an anticlimax. Anyone who follows Oz, and who has half a brain, realizes that MOST of the "astonishing," "miraculous," "surefire," and "life-changing" strategies he proposes for weight loss, wrinkle prevention, and a mind-numbing list of other health concerns, are simply bogus. He must have hired "Daily Show"-wannabe interns who simply make most of it up, laughing hysterically as they do so.
    The FDA repudiated claims by the HCG diet, Sensa, and LeanSpa (which peddles acai extract), and vowed to crack down on an industry that is rife with unsubstantiated claims, adulterated products and deception.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I don't "kneed," you Dr. Orthopedic Surgeon. Get Bent!

WHAT A FEELING! Being cut open for your doctor's fun and profit!

     (Jan. 6, 2014) Months after I had expensive and ineffective knee surgery a year ago, I just happened to come across several old and new studies that concluded the procedure is "useless." Naturally, I was pissed.
    Now, the most credible clinical trial to date has determined that meniscus surgery -- the most common orthopedic procedure in the U.S., performed about 700,000 times a year at an estimated cost of $4 billion -- works no better than totally "fake" operations. Thanks a lot, Dr. Lancome, you fancy-pants impostor!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Does 2014 Make You Look Fat?


Ignore negativity, and reject the pressure to conform.
    Let's begin with the premise that all body types have their own special attractiveness, and that each is potentially healthy. We've got to stop trying to jam ourselves into shapes that are not in our genes. But let's face it: Most of us are far from optimally healthy. This year, maybe your resolution to shape up will stick!
    Every year about this time, my previous posts on exercise, weight-training and health in general go viral for a few weeks. Then, interest dies down, and I guess people go back to their cheese-pizza, couch-potato, "fat-pants" lifestyles. I fear that most of us don't really give the idea of "a new Me" a chance. We hurl all our fantasies about a fit body and wholesome lifestyle out the window, and say, "Maybe next year."
    I wish I could convey to you how rewarding this process can be. If you regard it as a huge, exhausting, multifaceted overhaul, of course you'll retreat back into your cozy status quo. But if you begin every day to make lovely new choices from one moment to the next, you will sense the benefits immediately. Eat a banana, walk around the block, do some light stretching while you're watching TV. Pleasure will befall you.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Fairy Princess Decree: $100,000 a year (at least) for every working adult

Let's end income inequality by equalizing incomes. Is that so complicated? .

     (Jan. 2, 2014) I have just now been informed that I am have been named the first Fairy Princess of 2014. I have 24 hours to announce my decree. Thanks guys -- a little bit of advance warning would have been thoughtful.
    But I'm ready for you, which you probably hoped I wouldn't be. I don't even need time to prepare:
    I decree that everyone who has a job -- and who does that job with energy, competence, good nature, enterprise and reliability -- be paid $100,000 a year. I don't care if you're an investment banker or a convenience-store clerk, a lawyer or a ditch-digger, a supermodel or a custodian, a bus driver or an advertising executive.
    Everyone deserves a GOOD DAY'S PAY for a good day's work. This is so elementary, my dear Watsons. There should be no such thing as the working poor -- why do we  need to keep saying that? I want everyone to have a HOME, plenty of wholesome food, decent clothes, and a chance to provide opportunities for their children.

Lupus update: It flared, I glared, and it slunk away

Oh no -- not again.
    (Jan 2, 2015) In 2010, I developed a florid, oozing red rash under my eyes while my dad lay dying in the hospital. I thought it was because I was crying so much, but it turned out to be the outward manifestation of a form of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and it remained -- swollen and crusty and itchy, burning, and crawling -- for nine months. With great care and determination, I have kept this unsightly and uncomfortable symptom at bay all these years. Recently, it flared back, as I cope with my mother's terrible decline.
    I just couldn't handle this, on top of everything else, including a hateful legal battle over my mother's care and finances. I used my "what would Cleopatra do?" approach to medicine, and I forced the fucker back into its hole