Gratitude Saturday

Sometimes things just drop into you lap…

Yesterday I wrote about the ability that the large monopolies have to censor any of us at any time…

I have a Facebook friend from elementary school. Really nice person then and now. She posts about her dogs, her horses and her 100+ year old Father. Nothing ever negative or political.

She just posted this morning that her friend who only posts positive messages and quotes scripture was suspended from Facebook for 20 days… never posts anything political or negative or demeaning…

I’m grateful that my posts have not been censored…YET….

Not such a great thing to be grateful for…

Google It

Would you be surprised to learn that I bought something off Amazon lately?

Would you be surprised to hear that my doorman receives over 100 packages every day, that he takes in deliveries about ten times a day?

A few years ago, my doorman would get one UPS delivery at about 4pm…with about ten packages…

Now- he starts getting packages at 8am…and he gets packages about every hour until 9pm…sometimes later…

I’m not the only one buying things on Amazon…

You can buy the game Monopoly on Amazon….or you get experience an actual monopoly by using it…and using it…and using it…

See the pictures that are somewhere here in the blog? That’s a postcard I received this week…

They’re offering me a 15$ Amazon gift card. All I have to do is rate a product Five Stars…

I am being asked to possibly lie about a product and receive compensation…

We all know that this happens.

We all know that the majority of reviews are lies…

And sometimes the lie is a Five Star lie- and sometimes it’s a one star lie…

But however you look at it, there are products that don’t deserve the rating that they have received on Amazon, and Amazon knows it.

That’s the thing about a monopoly: a monopoly knows that there are falsehoods being perpetuated, yet they can choose not to care…

Because everyone is going to listen to them anyway

Amazon is able to tell us anything it wants to.

It is also able to hide from us anything it wants to…

That’s pretty scary for a company that delivers movies and documentaries and other forms of visual media…

And publishes books…

Did you know that Amazon owns Goodreads…

IMDb

Whole Foods

Diapers.com

Wag.com

Shopbop

Zappos

Audible

Ring

Look at that PARTIAL list and think about how much of your life is controlled by Amazon…

And now think about what Amazon chooses to censor and what Amazon chooses not to censor…

Think about what Google chooses to censor and not censor…

Apple…

Facebook…

Microsoft…

Think about what these companies- clearly the monopolies choose what to highlight in the world, and choose what they want to cover up…

Every day we allow these companies to censor our everyday lives…

We allow them to tell us what to buy, what to watch, what to listen to…

They know what our habits are…

They know what we buy…

They know what drugs we use, how much alcohol we consume, which cookie is our favorite…

They are omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient…

You know, there are research studies that say if you have the omni trifecta you can be considered a God…

Have we decided that we do need religion after all and have chosen these companies to be the all seeing, all knowing, ever present deity that we so crave?

Google may have bought Fitbit yesterday -…

Every step you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you…

Is that just a line from a song, a song that can be streamed via any of the companies that I listed above…

Or is that just a precursor to what our lives will be like…

Private companies can choose to say, or not say, anything they want…

They have the right to not allow something they don’t think is right,

Private companies have the ability to censor anything they want…

My question to you is-

Should companies as large as these, companies that have insinuated themselves into every facet of our lives really be considered Private Institutions?

Once private companies begin to have more control than the Government…shouldn’t we be just a little bit worried?

Because that is what is happening now…

We’ve given these companies literally everything they need to take over our lives…the virtual keys to the kingdom…

We have bent over…

Now what happens?

But You Weren’t Supposed to do That…

My college alumnae association recently started an online book club.

My friend M and I were probably the first ones to sign up.

We attended a small, women’s, Catholic liberal arts college, located in a suburb of a major city.

From what you just read about my college, can you make any assumptions about me?

Can you determine what my likes and dislikes are?

Does my choice in college say anything about me as a person?

At our first book club meeting a few months ago, we read a book called “Parakeet”. This book would definitely be considered literary fiction, as it was very stylized. It didn’t straight out tell a story, but used various tropes and devices to get it’s point across.

While I didn’t suggest it as a book club choice, when I got the list of choices I realized that it was on my TBR, so I put my vote in for it.

Personally I didn’t like the book: it was too “literary” for my taste. But I did think it was well written, and understood what the author was going for.

But when we had the discussion, I did find one thing very interesting- one woman stated:

“I’m really surprised that someone from our college would choose this book.”

When the woman, who is quite well read and makes very astute comments said this, I sat back and thought.

This statement was clearly the most interesting thing said at book club.

Just because I went to a certain type of school, am I expected to read a certain type of literature?

Does what we do or where we go determine who we are?

I don’t need to tell you that I didn’t graduate yesterday…

Wouldn’t you hope that I’d grown and changed over the years?

Expanded my horizons?

Opened up doors that might have previously thought locked?

Do we change as we mature?

Or are we the same people we’ve always been?

For fun, think about my choice of college: small, liberal arts, Catholic, all women, suburban.

Name one characteristic that you think I am based on my college, and then think if I am really like that.

What book do you think I would like based on my college choice?

What book do you think I would read based upon what you know about me?

Then think about your own occupational or educational choices: do they line up with your reading choices?

Does where you’re from really dictate who you are?

Cheesy One Pot Pasta

Quick recap for those who are new to my blog:

  1. I like to cook
  2. I like to try new recipes
  3. I read old school, paper, get delivered in the mail magazines
  4. I rip out recipes from said magazines
  5. I think too much
  6. I love a list

A few months ago I found a recipe: it was entitled Cheesy One Pot Pasta. For those of you that do know me, you still might not know these things:

  1. I love a meal where I only dirty one pot
  2. My husband doesn’t eat any cheese except for mozzarella on pizza and sandwiches
  3. My daughter and I love cheese so make it whenever my husband isn’t home for dinner
  4. I like a recipe where I don’t particularly need to think

So my husband was going out for dinner and I decided to make this pasta. I scanned the recipe…

I needed:

  1. rimmed baking sheet
  2. skillet
  3. large pot

Ok- I admit that one can say that the writers of the magazine weren’t wrong. You only needed one pot

However,

In the spirit of all things easy and simple…

Why would you label a recipe “One Pot” and then need three different cooking vessels with which to cook?

Now, all this got me thinking…

  1. How often do we say one thing, but mean another?
  2. How often do we say things that are misleading?
  3. How often do we not communicate to our partners exactly what we expect to happen?
  4. How often do we not think about the details involved in something?
  5. How often do we not read something or do research before we embark on something?

Yes.

I got all this out of a pasta recipe…

(Of course, now I can’t help but wonder if real people in real life actually do take a walk in the park and quote Nietzsche- I mean if I can get all philosophical while reading a recipe featured in Real Simple, maybe those beach read writers know something I don’t…)

So….

Are things as simple as they seem?

Do we delude ourselves with the best of intentions?

To close, if I were to speak to this recipe I would simply say:

“I’m not upset that you lied to me. I’m upset that from now on I can’t Beleive you.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Choices

You know how I love to use quotes in my writing…

The reason we’re terrified of making choices, even little ones, is that we’re convinced we’ll make a wrong one. Again.

Simple Abundance Sarah Ban Breathnach

How good are you at choosing something?

I’ve told you the story of my husband and the kitchen tile- and how he will never ever pick out something for the house again because he is too afraid of making a mistake again…

But do you freeze up at the thought of having to make a choice?

Decision paralysis?

Research something for six months and still hem and haw?

Try six outfits on before you get dressed?

Change your mind on your meal as the waitestaff leaves your table?

Have fifty drafts in your wordpress draft folder?

Why are we so afraid of making mistakes?

I admit, I am a pretty good decision maker. I may research, or overthink it a bit, but I rarely actually hem and haw over something.

I just choose.

Of course, I have already sort of presorted things in my mind. My clothes are all the same color, and basically the same style. By this point in my life, I have my uniform. I know what I think is appropriate for different occasions- ie- I wear the same black dress, I just switch up the footware, the jewelry and the jacket layer up depending on the occasion and how much walking I’ll be doing.

If I’m at a restaurant I don’t worry about ordering something I’ve never had before: what’s the worst thing that happens? I don’t like it. My life doesn’t end because I tried chicken a la king and didn’t enjoy it…

My daughter will sometimes ask me if she should apply for something- she did it last week for a virtual alternative break program with her University.

I asked her these questions:

  1. Pros and cons
  2. Application fee too high?
  3. Was she locked in if she was chosen
  4. Downsides to applying

After these four questions, she knew her answer and she applied to the program. The worst thing that could happen is that she would waste a reference on something she wasn’t interested in.

Choosing something shouldn’t be rocket science: think about what you are choosing between. Ask yourself those type of questions.

Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you say “Yes”

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you say “No”?

Are you letting fear of the unknown get the better of you?

Are you scared of change?

Are you scared of living your best life?

Are you scared that you will make a mistake?

Are you scared you will fail?

We all need to remember that inertia is a choice too. It might be a passive choice, but it is a choice just the same.

Ok- I know I sound like some sort of two bit motivational speaker that appears on the odd channels on the TV at 3am…I’m guessing this is where I ask you to purchase the boxset videos of my motivational speeches…49.99 plus shipping and handling…and if you act now I will throw in a set of ginzu knives…

We have spent the past year scared…

We have spent the last year on hold…

If you want a vaccine, call up and ask for one. I know in New York State, they threw out some vaccines because there was some confusion about who exactly was eligible, so my guess is no other state is going to let that happen, so I’d say, if you want a vaccine, be proactive and ask…

There is no harm in asking for a vaccine. The worst they can say is “No. Not yet.”

But think about making choices that will enrich your life, not detract from it.

Just cause we are breathing doesn’t mean we are living…

Disclaimer: I am not advocating for or against the vaccine. I am merely stating that if you’ve been living in fear, now is the time to start taking control back.

Oddly, when I got the idea for this post a few months ago, I had no idea where I would go with it. 700 words and I’m still not quite sure what my point is…

I guess:

Stop stressing about little things.

Stop stressing about things that you can’t control.

Start living the life that you want to live.

Stop letting “things” hold you back.

We get one go round in life. Let’s make it a good one…

Stop worrying about which way you should go;

Just go…

Live…

Insert Quote Here

Women’s Fiction

Beach Read

Chick Lit

However you label it, I love a book about women who don’t technically do extraordinary things, yet are mothers or childless- married, divorced, widowed or forever single- rich or poor- corporate execs or struggling artists…just normal women…

You get the gist…

I like books that are fairly easy to read, the conflict is fairly benign, and normal people get to tell normal stories.

I like to read about the kind of people that I am likely to come across in my life. This doesn’t mean that these are the only types of books I read- far from it- I read across many genres. But I almost always have one of these types of books in my “Currently Reading” pile on Goodreads.

But anyway-

Light reads aimed at a female audience: Not even vaguely can be considered literary fiction. There probably aren’t reader discussion questions in the back…You get the idea about the type of book I’m talking about…

So why, in these sorts of light reads, do the authors choose to quote from very heady books?

For example I am reading an atrocious book now. It’s set in a fictionalized Muslim country and while I have no doubt it’s supposed to be about how women are treated (heavy topic), it’s really a light read. The sentences are trite. The descriptions are tedious. The conflict is manufactured and so predictable my puppy could plot it out…

Yet, the author chooses to head each chapter with a beautiful quote by Rumi…

I’ve read beach reads where the author quotes heavyweight authors- Hemingway- Fitzgerald- Faulkner are quoted as the heroine is shopping for sunglasses. Where poems by Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson are cited while someone is mixing margarita’s…

Why?

Why do these authors feel the need to have their characters quote things from the PBS reading list?

Are they trying to show how smart they are?

Are they trying to tell the reader that they are just writing these light fiction works to pay the bills as they pen the Great American Novel?

or

Are they just big giant book nerds who have degrees in English Lit?

I know I have been known to throw out a quote or two from books or movies or whatever. There are certain things I remember, and seem to fit certain situations well. How many times do I find a quote somewhere and blog about it? Last week for those not counting…

However…

Does the reader of a casual beach read want to read quotes or references to books that they may or may not know?

Especially given that a novel is usually not a forum for discussion?

What do you think when an author quotes something in a novel that is seemingly out of place with the genre, style or plot of a novel?

In casual conversation, how often do you quote Shakespeare?

When is the last time you read aloud a Walt Whitman stanza while out with friends?

How often do literary quotes enter your day to day?

Do you want to read them when you are reading a pleasurable, light read?

Lay on, MacDuff…

Highlights January 10

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or goals?

Percent

No- I do neither

66.67%

Yes- I make goals

25.00%

Yes- I make resolutions

8.33%

Yes- I make both goals and resolutions

0.00%

Today’s poll question is about censorship. Please visit my actual page if you want to participate in the poll

Much of my week was devoted to trying to train Betty and trying to help the pup and the kitty to reach détente…

Gratitude Saturday January 9

Yesterday I put Betty in her doggie sling and we went for a walk. I needed to pick up some stuff at Bed Bath and Beyond so we headed over there.

When we got to the store, we entered and went down the escalator (In Manhattan we try to make use of vertical space as much as possible, so all the merchandise is downstairs)

When we got off the escalator I heard a loud CRASH sound. I looked up to see small pieces of something fall on the two people on the escalator.

I assumed a light fixture had exploded so I looked up.

Everything appeared to be intact. Then I saw security and a store employee run up the escalator and they began to say that someone had “broken the showcase”.

Roughly translated, someone broke the front window of the store from the outside. The force of the blow was enough that chunks of window scattered at least twenty feet.

I am grateful that we were not walking 30 seconds later, or I may have had glass fall atop the pup and me.

I am grateful that I was not 45 seconds later or I would have been at the top of the escalator.

I am grateful that I was not 60 seconds later or I would have been entering the store as the person shattered the thick plate glass window…

I am grateful that my timing was just right…

Sometimes you just get lucky

But it’s Supposed to Spark Joy

I love books.

I love art.

I love photography.

So it’s a natural fit that I would have two coffee table books in my home: one called The Art Book and one called The Photo Book.

So why did they not Spark Joy?

Why did I never pick them up and thumb through them?

For twenty five years, these two massive books filled with pictures of art and photography sat untouched on my shelves…

Untouched…

Why?

Because they were gifted to me by my ex husband…

Every time I looked at these books I thought of him, how he treated me, and how I allowed myself to be treated…

They didn’t bring me joy.

They brought me sadness and anger and resentment…

Yet…

I kept these books.

I kept them because they were expensive.

I kept them because I love the subject matter.

I kept them because I really wanted to thumb the pages and look at all the beautiful artwork that lay within.

I kept them because they were supposed to spark joy

I kept them because I was scared to face them…to confront all my feelings about how they came into my life…

And then, a few weeks ago, as we counted down to possibly the worst year that I can remember…

I took them off the shelf…

Scanned them to make sure there was no dedication residing on any of the pages, that there was no errant flower being pressed, or note tucked away…

I took them out of the apartment and down the elevator and across the street to the Salvation Army thrift store…

And was confronted with a locked door….

The Salvation Army had closed early that day…

And I began to wonder if there was some reason I was supposed to hold onto these books, some sort of punishment that I was supposed to inflict upon myself…

Because after twenty five years I get the courage to toss these books and I pick the day that the Salvation Army is closed at 2pm instead of 5?

And it’s 2:05?

But then…

I see a man approach the locked door that I keep trying to unlock with sheer will and determination…

And he opens the door and takes the books from me…

Merry Christmas! he says as he takes the books out of my hand…

And I knew at that moment, that I was relieved of some burden that I had carried around for far too long…

The next morning I opened up my gifts, and found that my daughter had gifted me books…

And I’d been gifted an art calendar

and a new lens for my camera, so I could create my own new photo memories…

On Christmas Eve, I got rid of two books…

and a lot of angst and negative emotions and feelings that I had been carrying around for far too long…

Sometimes we think we are supposed to love something, but we need to realize that sometimes we need to let things go…

A Note from LA

All violence is to be condemned.

Any attack on any governmental building is an attack on the democratic principles which guide our republic, and therefore should be considered treason.

We must utilize the principle’s held within the Constitution and ensuing Amendments to ensure that the Republic remains strong.

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