Monday, November 16, 2009


Dick and I were in Providence for the weekend. On Saturday night, after eating perhaps the best salad I've ever had*, I headed back to the hotel room to relax. I'd strolled around the small city for over six hours in the pouring rain and just wanted to knit.

I also wanted to watch cable TV, since we only get three stations here at home. I was looking forward to something on the food or travel channel, but no, the upscale hotel may have had a robe (but not one for each of us), but it only had the basic cable stations. I could have watched porn for who-knows-how-much, but frankly, knitting and porn just don't go together.

Nonetheless, I still had an urge to watch television, and so I surfed for a bit until I stumbled upon a show that was both truly revolting and highly thought provoking - "Lockup." This show is supposedly a "documentary" on MSNBC (see the webpage). Yes, it does document life in America's roughest prisons, but its style is more like "Cops" than anything of substance. Apparently, Americans get a kick out of watching "extractions", the often violent removal of an uncooperative inmate from their cell.

The show was interesting to be sure. A visit to Alaska's maximum security prison was of particular note. The level of prisoner violence there is markedly less than average. After watching three episodes of this show back-to-back, I could see why Spring Creek was different. A good deal of thought was put into more than punishment at this penitentiary. Inmates under 23 are separated from the general population and they can attend high school full time. The guards seem almost laid back; they don't see the inmates as "animals", nor do they treat them that way, and so, of course, violence is lessened.

Why is it that the obvious is overlooked? How can anyone think that it's sensible to put violent and/or mentally ill people in small cells and hold them there without anything to do for 23 hours a day? Unfortunately, our society cares much more for revenge and punishment than rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, to many people, seems like a reward. Many years back, a study showed that education was the single most useful tool to prevent recidivism. Of course it is. Otherwise, incarceration is only a breeding ground for resentment, rage, making new criminal contacts and learning new criminal skills. But no, more education for inmates didn't get a lot of people excited. The only excited people were the ones who yelled loudly about the need to punish people for their crimes. One point I agreed with - that there could be incentive in going to jail for the poor. But, for me, this brought up a few good points that my bleeding liberal heart pounced on. In jail, one gets "three hots and a cot", health care, and possibly some education. Why shouldn't all of these things be rights for all citizens?

Well, with our insane incarceration rate going up all the time, maybe it will be. As of year-end 2007, a record 7.2 million people were behind bars, on probation, or on parole, with 2.3 million of those actually incarcerated. Is this our fallback health care plan? Ah, America. . .the country of incredibly mixed-up priorities.

So, this is what I'm thinking about right now. It's better than going back to sleep, which I've been fighting with wanting to do since I woke up. My depression is still going strong, but without much emotion. It's certainly odd. I have no real desire to do anything. I have an interesting spinning project on my mind and when I was in Providence I was planning it while walking in the rain. Yet, the spinning wheel sits idle. I suppose that being a semi-passive observer or reader is about my speed, and thank goodness that it's semi-passive. I watch, read, analyze, and (sometimes) write. When visiting Rhode Island School of Design, I scribbled some notes for an entry about drawing vs. photography, but I can't find them. So, in spite of wanting to pull the covers over my head and sleep, my mind is pretty lively. Maybe, just
maybe, I'm not depressed. Maybe I just need sleep. It's certainly a possibility.

*What an all-over-the-map post, to say the least. Here's what I ate: House cured duck breast, served over fresh arugula with Bosc pears, steamed red and gold beets, and tossed in a honey horseradish-vinaigrette, garnished with pecorino cheese and toasted pignoli nuts. It made me want to go out and find an inspiring cookbook.

Photo note: In contrast, here's some prison food. I'm sorry I'm subjecting you to it, whatever it is. I can see how this could set off some people, though if one is homeless, it might look like manna from heaven. How lucky I am that I was able to eat at Providence's Parkside Rotisserie.

Ketchup vs. mustard

Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "What the Dog Saw", is a collection of previously published articles from the New Yorker. I'm looking forward to reading it. I like Gladwell. He's been described as a dilettante (both negatively and positively), and says he's interested in pretty much everything. I like his writing, enjoy reading about him, and am mildly jealous. Mr. Gladwell is successful and I am a tremendous underachiever. I'm sure he'd have something to say about why that is. Well, he did, actually, in his last book "Outliers", but I haven't gotten around to reading that yet.

Enough prefacing. I hear one of the chapters in the new book is about why there are so many varieties of mustard while ketchup is just ketchup. For some reason, the question of ketchup vs. mustard variety captures my imagination. Let's see if I come up with anything resembling what Gladwell did (and without a lick of research).

First let me say that I don't like ketchup. I did when I was a young child. I have strong memories of eating hot dogs with ketchup on them. For some reason, a number of these memories involve eating in the restaurant at the Museum of Natural History. There's nothing more to it than that - no memory of dripping ketchup on my clothes or teasing, no, just eating a hot dog with ketchup on it. That's all.

Oddly, I do remember thinking that eating a hot dog with ketchup was the stuff of a kid's diet. Adults ate their frankfurters with mustard and sometimes sauerkraut. At some point, I did, too. I left the ketchup in the dustbin of childhood. This may have coincided with the opening of the Zum Zum restaurants in New York, where they served all sorts of wursts besides the ubiquitious American hot dog, had buns flecked with caraway seeds, and delicious German potato salad. They did not serve ketchup.

I associate ketchup with childhood, bad taste, bad-for-you food, and the sad announcement made during the Reagan administration that ketchup could be considered a daily vegetable serving for the poor (and that's another sort of bad taste).

Besides putting ketchup on a hot dog, what else is it for? French fries and eggs. The idea of putting ketchup on eggs makes me slightly nauseated. For whatever reason, when I picture it, I also picture a cigarette butt on the same plate and bleary mornings in diners after staying up all night. No wonder there's some nausea involved. As to the french fries, I developed a penchant for eating them with mayonnaise a long time ago, a truly artery hardening habit, but one that I find much tastier than that wretched ketchup.

I really do not like ketchup. It's too red. It's too sweet. It doesn't taste like anything real.

When I think of mustard, I imagine many possibilities. Ketchup? The iconic Heinz bottle pops immediately to mind. That glass bottle is a wonderful piece of design, good enough to put on a kitchen table for no other reason than decoration. The other image that arises is one of a young child in a high chair, bib and face smeared with catsup.

There's the problem (besides the too red stuff lacking in real taste). Catsup is for little kids.

I'm sure many a good chef has come up with excellent catsup. Good advertising, high-end packaging and positioning could probably send catsup sales soaring. Now that Gladwell has written about it, unless he's proven that it's impossible to break through decades of the stuff having a bad rap, someone out there will probably now come up with gourmet catsup and lots of it.

Image note: Warhol's 1964 "sculpture."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's gotten boring

The word "boring" on a blog entitled "everything is interesting"?


What's boring is depression. I'm in a mild depression. After a lifetime of depression both mild and extreme, this depression thing has become a terrible bore. Not only is it boring to me, but it's boring to others. It saps the life out of things, as everyone knows. Isn't that one of the definitions of depression?

I've had little enthusiasm for this blog and it shows. I have had enthusiasm for knitting, and so I'm making all sorts of projects, as both working in the yarn shop and knitting itself seems to be safe from my blah frame of mind. I have a strong feeling that if I was working in the shop every day I'd be feeling fine. There's nothing like being surrounded by wool and people asking me to help them with their knitting to make me feel better.

I really wish I owned my own yarn shop, but it's an expensive endeavor. I crunched the numbers a few weeks ago and I was surprised at just how expensive an undertaking it is, so as much as I'd love to envision my own little shop (and it's a lovely vision), it's just not possible. I've been thinking about it a lot, nonetheless, and I've come to think of it as "buying a life."

Ah well. I can't buy myself a new life at this moment, so I'm stuck with some free-floating malaise. And even though I've dealt with this problem all my life, I still think I can (and should) talk myself out of it and pull myself up by the proverbial bootstraps. Cognitive behavioral therapy aside, it really doesn't work.

What works is being engaged by life. So, for now, I'm burying myself in knitting, watching documentaries, and reading some truly lousy mysteries. I took a Robin Cook medical mystery out of the library the other day and am quite amazed at how bad the writing is. The guy uses exclamation points! That's fine for blogging, but in a novel? C'mon, if you're a novelist, you should be able to convey emphasis in a conversation by writing it, not relying on the exclamation mark. Next thing you know, there's be an OMG in his next novel. OMG! The patient has an tumor created by an evil medical cabal! WTF?!

There: I feel a tad better from writing a bit of silliness. Maybe I should forgo the documentaries about health care and the Holocaust and watch comedies instead. Good idea.

Image note: John Cleese from the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. For a list of silly walks in comedy, go here.

Two recommendations and a small bit of thought

Last night I watched "Forgiving Dr. Mengele." Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz (and Dr. Mengele's experiments) says she is a free human being because she has forgiven. Some survivors are incredulous, others angry, but she is adamant that it is the only way one can survive after such trauma; without forgiveness, one can never be free. She separates forgiving from forgetting. Of course, she says, how can one forget?

Ms. Kor doesn't articulate her reasoning that well, and I can't articulate for her why I sense she is absolutely right.

One person I know said that when he stopped hating homosexuals he felt as if a burden was lifted off his back.

I also watched Frontline's "Sick Around the World", which I think every conservative in America should be forced to watch. This film analyzes the health care systems of Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland, and the U.K. At the end of each segment, the question is asked "Does anyone in your country go bankrupt because of health care bills?" The answer is always "no", along with incredulity that any modern nation could allow this to happen to any of its citizens.

The American health care non-system is a disgrace to our supposed sense of being a moral nation. I don't understand why the most "morally-minded" of our citizens are so firmly against any kind of national health care. Other countries are mystified by Americans' attitudes on this. I am, too.

There are so many lies out there. For one, we do not have the world's best health care. Fears of waiting forever if there's national health are unfounded and unsupported by wait times in other countries. And, as it stands now, it is generally unusual to be able to see a doctor in a timely fashion unless one is deathly ill.

The only area in which America's non-system stands above other countries is in elective surgery. Why don't we come out and call it what it is: cosmetic surgery. Should we really be proud of that?

I now see that there is actually something tying together these two seemingly disparate films. One involves an evil individual. The other, health care in America, may be about an evil health care system. One always hesitates to use the word "evil." We generally reserve it for such figures as Dr. Mengele, but what else can we call a system in which children go without basic health care, families are destroyed because of illness, the rich have all the access they want, and in this dominant superpower called America, the poor basically are thought to deserve what they get. Do mentally ill people deserve to be homeless? Do children deserve to die because their parents don't have money? If thinking that only by merit and money people deserve to have proper health care and a roof over their heads isn't a type of evil, I don't know what is.

Painting note: Edvard Munch "The Sick Child" 1907

Monday, November 9, 2009


Lately I've been craving sweets. That's unusual for me.

I overslept this morning and had to run out of the house to make it to an appointment. After the appointment, I did a big grocery shopping. I was hungry, for I hadn't had my morning oatmeal. There was a Dunkin Donuts right there in the supermarket and I got a decaf french vanilla iced coffee. I noticed for the first time that the shopping cart had a built-in cup holder. Whee! I didn't buy a donut, but as I was passing the market's cupcake and muffin section, I saw there were carrot muffins, "New England Morning Carrot Muffins" to be exact. So, I got one. It had been filled with what I mistakenly thought was sweetened cream cheese. Oh, not so. It was filled with sugar icing. I used the plastic bag I put it in to try and scoop out most of the icing, but I wasn't all that successful. The muffin, I have to admit, was quite good. It would have been better without all that awful icing, and it would have been excellent if it had sweetened cream cheese, but what was I expecting from a supermarket? It wasn't Whole Foods. It was a regular market.

Nonetheless, I devoured it. My newly acquired sweet tooth was sated. It's been four hours since I had my sweet drink and sweet muffin and I still feel like crap. I'm edgy. I feel certain that it has made my back ache worse. And was it worth it? I couldn't tell you, for I ate it without much thought or relish. It was mindless eating, the kind places like Dunkin Donuts really like people to do. If one stopped to think about eating a box of donut holes or a 20-ounce cup of coffee, they'd be in trouble. Those items really do affect the way people feel, but hey, America runs on Dunkin, right? Being edgy is the American Way.

Photo note: This is supposedly a pile of sugar beets.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are we losing our collective minds?

A man shot 6 people in Orlando today, killing one. Yesterday's death toll at Fort Hood is high - is it up to ten yet? In the days before, police dug up 10 dead bodies at a man's house in Cleveland. And, I'm sure there are many other murders that happened recently that didn't make the national news. Here in Maine, a man attempted to kill his mother, killed his father, dissappeared for a few days and then showed up a truck stop, where he had a cup of coffee. When the police arrested him, he asked that they allow him to pay for his drink.

Since Columbine, now ten years ago, people have been asking "what's going on in America?" We were asking that question before then, when there was a rash of disgruntled employee murders, which spawned the expression "going postal."

I do think we've lost our collective minds, but this country was forged in violence, and we also celebrate it at the same time we let out our collective gasps of horror, so I'm not surprised when these things happen. We love our mass murderers. Last year, Newsweek had a cover story about mass murderers that had a two-page graphic spread where we could see the body count of all the famous killers. Each dead person was nameless - just an icon somewhat like the ones we see for men's bathrooms. I could imagine a would-be nutjob wanting to beat the record.

Then there's the television shows. Every night one can watch a show about killing. I'm not immune, even as I ask myself "why am I watching this?" On Criminal Minds this week, we learned about enucleators, people who gauge the eyes from their victims. There's enough of them to warrant its own term. This episode was the stuff of parody. Who thinks up these things? Let's see - there's a young boy who lives with his father and leaves school after the 4th grade when the mother died. Dad's a taxidermist. Mom had retinosa pigmentosa (an eye disease that causes blindness). Boy loves hunting. Dad dies and boy tries to do taxidermy but he's no good at eyes, so he goes out and kills people to get "good ones." Wow - those writers sure know how to come up with a plot!

Okay, I know this seems like it's beside the point, but I don't think it is. It screams of desperation to find a new reason for murder, a hunger for understanding that's misplaced (and displaces) real analysis. Well, that's entertainment. How many motives and scenarios can one come up with?

The truth about murderers is that, for the most part, their motivations are fairly mundane - not the stuff of mystery - abusive backgrounds, mental illness, triggers in the environment that cause an unraveling of control.Hannah Arendt wrote about the banality of "evil."

All this aside, I do think Americans are in a strange emotional place. Anger and resentment are high. Folks like Limbaugh and Beck are fueling those fires. Unemployment, which I suspect (as do folks who know) is much higher than what is reported. The endless wars are taking their toll on those in the military and their loved ones. The future doesn't look so rosy. When someone "snaps", even as we may profess shock, we can also understand why.

I have no conclusion. I'm only ruminating. It's a gray and gloomy day. We've had our first snow and it doesn't look pretty. The big tree branch that holds our main bird feeder fell down and is sitting in the wet snow looking sad. I'm wondering where I can hang it up. My house needs a good cleaning. No, don't worry, I'm not going to snap and go kill someone because I'm overwhelmed by chores that need doing and a lack of work, but it does make me think of people who do.

Painting note: Octave Tassaert "An Unfortunate Family" 1852

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In which I change my mind

After reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog today, I've changed my mind about being so understanding of the yes on 1 voters. Okay, I still think that their opinions are generated by fear more than hatred, but perhaps it's more useful, or at least empowering, to see that it is discrimination, pure and simple, and not try to analyze any further than that. It's not okay to discriminate. If you are afraid your children are being exposed to things that you think are wrong, take them out of the public schools. Anyway, it's totally hypocritical of the Glenn Beck-loving folks to use the public schools, or anything else that's funded by government. Get off the roads, people! According to Beck, that's socialism.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maine punditry

Reading pundits scratching their heads about Maine voters makes me want to tear my hair out (a little bit). I don't want to sound like a person who's complaining about the intellectual elite 'cause I actually like the idea of an intellectual elite. But, they've got to have better analytic skills than the average person, right?

One blogging head said he was still puzzling over how such a secular state as Maine is could have voted against marriage equality. This idea that Maine is a secular state comes from a recent poll (those darn polls again!) showing that Maine has a lower than average amount of church goers. C'mon folks, don't you think it could be possible that there isn't an exact correlation between church attendance and religiosity?

Most of my neighbors are not affiliated with any church. However, many of my neighbors are also fundamentalist Christians. One woman I know doesn't go to church but she sends her kids to Bible Camp. When I lived in another town, I knew of many people whose kids went to a fundamentalist Christian after school program. It was free. That group was loosely affiliated with Focus on the Family, and they indoctrinated the kids with all sorts of messages that they'd bring home to their parents. A free program for poor kids? Smart move. They're "doing good" for the community - might as well take their advice when voting. They handed out dummy ballots showing people exactly how to vote. One of the general stores had tall stacks of these ballots right next to the cash register.

I played a little game an hour ago. I looked at the list of towns in my county and guessed as to how they voted. Squeaker, or significant win for either yes or no - I got every town right on the money. Maybe I should become a pundit.

But really, how did I do so well? I didn't rely on any polling data. Here's the somewhat sad criteria I used:

1. Poverty - Poverty, in my opinion, is the biggest predictor of conservative voting amongst white people.

2. Education - I will reference study data (without the numbers). The more education one has, the more likely one is to be liberal.

3. Isolation - People in rural areas are less exposed to diversity and are more likely to be afraid of it.

4. Lastly, and unique to Maine, whether people were born here or not is a big predictor of voting. Folks who were not born here are called "from away". They bring the values of where they're from with them. Many "folks from away" came here during the back to the land movement and settled in some very rural areas. Towns with fewer folks from away vote more conservatively.

Now, given all this, I wouldn't have predicted that voting for expanding the use of medical marijuana and opening dispensaries would pass so easily. Then again, folks up here do generally think "live and let live" and there's also an awful lot of people who smoke weed here in Maine. It's odd how live and let live doesn't fully extend to gay people. Honestly, I think it does (for the most part) but people aren't quite ready to legislate it. Remember - the initiative won by a slim margin.

I think of this couple I once met - a lesbian couple, one black and one white, and one of whom was planning on having sexual reassignment surgery (and was quite open about it). They lived in a tiny town downeast (the northern coast of Maine). I heard many a person from that town make jokes about gays and black people. But this couple was accepted fully. Why? They were good neighbors and, as one person put it (of the larger of the two woman), "She handles her chainsaw well." Having a well-stacked supply of wood goes a long way up here in Maine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The culture wars continue

The vote has been tallied here in the middle of nowhere, Maine. In my small rural town, the vote "to reject same sex marriage" (as the Bangor Daily News calls it) has won by 20 votes. 178 people voted yes. 158 people voted no. As far as rural hamlets go, it was pretty close. Curious about the entire state? Click on the paper's link, above. It's pretty interesting, though quite predictable. The more rural the location, the more votes for "yes." Also, here in Maine, more liberal views thrive (if you can call it that) on the coast. My town is only 20 minutes from the ocean, so even though I tend to think of it as totally redneck, well, it's a pretty even split as far as voting goes.

And so, the culture wars continue. The ballot counting is not over, but I suspect that the yes votes will win, as the uncounted ballots are coming from the more rural areas. I voted on a paper ballot and stuffed it into a locked wooden box. It takes some time counting ballots. Some of that time is spent reading the notes people write on them.

Here's my take on marriage, gay or otherwise: I don't think the government should be in the business of marrying anyone. As far as I'm concerned, marriage is a religious institution. If one goes to a court to get "married", it should be a civil union for everyone. This civil union is a legal contract between two people, one that religious beliefs have nothing to do with.

The government can't force a church to marry gay couples and I respect that. We (supposedly) have separation of church and state. If this were truly so, then no religious views would interfere with the right of a gay couple to have a judge perform a civil union.

Sure, this idea strips the romance out of marriage, but it's fair and sensible. People who want to get married can still do so, and this would include gay people, but for legal purposes, not religious ones, civil unions would be the norm. If people want to have celebratory parties (often called weddings) where they declare their vows, well, nobody can stop them.

I don't mean to sound flip or callous. I'll be sad when I learn tomorrow morning that Maine showed the rest of the nation that it is composed of a lot of ignorant people who think allowing gay people to marry will somehow corrupt children and undermine conventional marriage. I'll also be sad for all the gay people who will, once again, come face to face with the fact that they are still not granted the same rights as other Americans.

I know my viewpoint is not popular. I've explained it to many people and they are almost offended by it. It poses a problem to non-religious straight folks. It strips them of their right to get married without a religious ceremony and that forces them to think about just what marriage is.

I can't help thinking about how the membership of the Unitarian Church would skyrocket if my idea went through.

"That's not a phobia"

When I first lived in New York City, it was not the city it is now. It had just gone bankrupt (see infamous image above). The mental hospitals had just let out their long-term patients and the streets were filled with muttering and screaming people. The subways were close to terrifying. In some neighborhoods, one could see guns sticking out of the top of men's jeans. The gutters were littered with used needles. On the up side, it was cheap to live there, believe it or not.

I lived on the 6th floor of a tenement and had trouble sleeping at night. I was scared, pure and simple. I had at least three locks and a steel rod against my door. I also kept a big steel rod between my bed and the wall (though I couldn't imagine hitting anyone with it). The windows to the fire escapes had metal bars, but these didn't seem secure enough to me. I didn't just have trouble sleeping at night. I pretty much didn't do it. I slept during the day, and some evenings would feel so much fear that I'd call my father. I don't recall what advice he gave me, but whatever it was it didn't help. I was constantly sleep deprived and the minute it became dark out my anxiety would grow until I imagined all sorts of horrors. The odd thing is that I felt pretty safe out on the street. I could handle the street. I knew how to walk fast, keep my eyes averted, act tough, and deflect trouble. But, in my apartment I felt vulnerable. Sometimes when I'd had enough, I'd sleep at friends' apartments. Just a bit of company would make my fear go away.

I couldn't stand living like this. I thought my fear was disproportionate to reality. I wanted to rid myself of it; I didn't want a phobia running my life. So, I did some legwork (this was before the internet) and found a good center for the treatment of phobias. The kicker? They didn't think I had one. I called over and over again, trying to convince somebody to consider treating me. But, I was always met with the same argument: my fear was not irrational.

Was it that dangerous to live in a tenement in New York? Other people slept through the night. When I offered up that observation to a few people, they countered that I simply saw things as they were, which was obviously pretty desperate. In retrospect, this whole thing sounds completely crazy, from my behavior to other peoples' responses. How could a mental health professional profess to say that living in abject fear, fear so severe that I waited until the sun came up to close my eyes, was normal?

Those days felt pre-apocalyptic. There was no hope and no help. How that city of the late 1970's morphed into the glittery clean center of the universe it is now is almost hard to believe. If one had asked back then what would happen, the prediction would probably be that New York would wind up like Detroit is now. That was the way things were headed, except that it was a city full of possibilities and creativity. Sorry, New York, but Detroit was far scarier.

Now that I think of it, visiting Detroit was a precursor to me losing my phobia. I spent a summer on tour, visiting cities all across this country and Canada, and when I came back, New York seemed a-okay. I never did a thing to help cure my crazy fears. They simply stopped. I lived in an apartment with a security system and one day I just turned it off for I preferred to be able to leave a window open now and again.

What's the lesson in this? None. It's just a story.

Addendum: Seeing that the paper cost 15 cents makes me feel very, very old.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy as pie

I have no idea where the expression "easy as pie" comes from. I could google it, but I'd rather speculate. Pie making is not easy, though it isn't as hard as, say, making bread. So, back in the days when everyone made stuff from scratch, saying something was as easy as pie made some sense. Nowadays, it doesn't. It's just become one of those expressions nobody bothers to think about. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure anyone except a few old rural folks even use the expression. I can't recall hearing it any time recently.

But, of course, that is not what I meant to write about, and any of you who know my writing style surely must have suspected that by now. By the way, if you know more about the expression "easy as pie", leave a comment. I am curious and comments are far better than google. I still like the personal touch. I'm kinda old fashioned that way.

So what is it that's "easy as pie"? Believe it or not, it's curing a lifelong aversion or phobia. Yep. That's right! In four to five days, one can desensitize oneself. This is no joke, though it certainly sounds like one. My therapist told me today that in four to five days I can cure myself of something that has bothered me for a lifetime. I said,"so why didn't I read this in Oprah?" He said, "because it's too simple."

Here's the deal: Expose yourself to the thing you have an aversion to. When you begin, write down how much anxiety you have. Don't get into it - just give it a number from 1 to 10. Keep exposing yourself to the anxiety source until the number drops by half. Then stop. Do this every day. Supposedly, in four to five days you'll feel very little anxiety. It may not be gone, but it'll be low. In his words, it'll have become "a little bit boring." I thought that was a humorous way of putting it. He's a funny guy.

What's the catch? There's no catch, except that most people won't do it. I sure can't envision myself starting this regimen. Even if it's only four to five days, just thinking about starting gives me the creeps. Therein lays the rub (and where did that expression come from?)

Sure, it's a grand idea, curing myself of something that's been bothering me for years. He said he's looking forward to finding out how it goes. That's when I made a face. "How it goes? You really think I'm even thinking about actually doing it?" No way! I'm attached to my aversion! That's the other reason this easy-as-pie stuff doesn't get done. Most of us (and that includes me) would rather talk about our aversions for years on end instead of getting rid of them. It's what we're made of. It's part of our personalities. Not so easy to give up, even if it is easy.

Notice I'm not telling you what my aversion is. At this moment, I'm not ready to lay my soul bare even to the small readership I have. No, I'm not that open. I'm tempted, to be sure, for I do know that my little problem is one that is fairly common. Perhaps another time. Maybe I'll tell all after I've actually tried the aversion desensitization and see if it really works so fast.

It really isn't easy. One has to be able to tolerate some discomfort. And that's another thing that no one really wants to do.

I promise a full report. Some day.

Painting note: Grant Wood "Dinner for Threshers" 1934
I googled the words "apple pie" and on the first page of image hits was Grant Wood's "American Gothic." I wondered if any of his paintings actually did have an apple pie in them, noticed how different his works depicting people are from his scenic work, and found this delightful painting (but no pie). Click on his name and check out the extensive online gallery of his work.

Addendum: I was looking at my list of links, which I need to amend, and noticed the "Markov Text Synthesizer." I used to have a lot of fun with this. Go check it out. It's a great way to vent one's feelings, then virtually chop 'em into bits and produce odd bits of prose that make odd sense. Here's what I came up with just now:

"I don't mind yours, but I hate taking off my body."