Mmmm. That feels so good. Just a little to the left....
Oh, excuse me. Trying to imagine that kind of great release of tension in my back, shoulders, and hamstrings. Happy to have become better acquainted with my hamstrings in 2018. (What was I waiting for? An engraved invitation?) I haven't had a massage in several months, but I wish you all a virtual massage. Even deep breathing while listening to Colin Firth tell you a story is a vacay from the ordinary.*
I feel very fortunate indeed, all things considered. I have children that I love madly, a partner who makes me feel happy and secure, and I still have medical insurance... for now. AND, our podcast is getting great attention! All good!
Now to this week's list:
1) My prayer strings -- or good luck bracelets. You've seen this picture of my wrist before. The thinner mustard-colored string was tied around my wrist by a monk in a temple in Bangkok in March, 2017. The three wider braids, connected with a knot were affixed by a nun outside Angkor Thom, a beautiful temple compound in Siem Reap, Cambodia, a week later. An additional white prayer from Cambodia fell off sometime after March, 2018.
We were told to keep the strings on until they naturally fell off. One of us (cough) has done as instructed. I am sheepishly admitting here that I am somewhat superstitious. Has my life improved since receiving these touristy amulets? My life definitely improved by visiting Southeast Asia, by meeting kind and gentle people. By seeing the magnificent structures built in truly different aesthetics from western architecture. By being a jillion miles from home. By living in a simpler world, closer to nature.
I don't know how many tourists bother to keep their strings on after they've become frayed and grimy. They carry for me that ridiculous threat of old-fashioned chain letters. (Before the Internet, kids.) If you break this chain, something horrible will happen to you. Thus you see, I haven't removed them.
I've worn them to dinner parties, book launches, to a funeral, to temple, and even to a white tie debutante ball. The strings look so fragile and yet they seem permanent. So, given my superstitious outlook, the good luck strings will accompany me to two black tie weddings this summer-fall. #NoOneWillNotice #NotTheCenterOfAttention
2. A simple white washcloth.
I don't always want to use a hand towel when I'm washing my face, and I become unaccountably happy when I remember my stack of washcloths in my bathroom. Sometimes I just use my hands to lather my cleanser, but I do feel cleaner with the abrasiveness of a simple, white, cotton, terry cloth square. (And it can reveal secrets your skin may be keeping from you.)
3. *Now that I finished A Sport and a Pastime, I've started listening to Mr. Darcy -- I mean Colin Firth -- read Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. The novel was written in 1951, but I've never read it; only seen the movies adapted from it, most recently the Julianne Moore-Ralph Fiennes-Stephen Rea version directed by Neil Jordan in 1999.
It starts with Colin stating inside my eardrum, "This is a diary of hate." Just to me.
I must say, I am ambivalent about books on tape. I really like to turn the pages of a book in the pace and rhythm I direct. I lose patience with some books on tape, or rather with how I ingest them. If I only had a daily commute I think I'd feel differently, but I work at home. And when I think of listening to a book on a walk, I end up sitting on a bench to finish a chapter. But I had Audible credits! And now Colin Firth is whispering into my ear, at least for the next 5 hours and 43 minutes.
4. Shame. Am I serious? I couldn't be more serious.
Shame is the manifestation of our consciences reminding us we've done something wrong. We become uncomfortable for a reason. The state of shame is correctable, but the blood rushing to our cheeks, or the sweat gathering on our foreheads (however our bodies process the spoken gaffe or the sloppy accident) is our superegos telling us we made a boo boo.
Lately, I notice a shame deficit in this country. People lie brazenly. And then they lie about lying. Things that should be mortifying -- say, the marketing of a videotape of your one night stand -- become one's claim to fame. Do something else that my mother and I would consider unbearably coarse or rude, and you'll be rewarded with your own reality show. That's how people get famous nowadays -- think of all the celebrities of the day and all the great things they've accomplished.
If shame occupied the position it once had, there'd be no Kardashians, no Paris Hiton, no Sean Spicer, no Lindsay Lohan, no "Real Housewives", or their Slovenian sister, Melania Trump.
5. I'm not embarrassed to say I admire and revere Robert Mueller. He's an honorable man and a patriot. He is moving through the thicket of shameful behaviors and mortifyingly self-interested people with patience and discipline. Godspeed to him.