Sally's Humor Blog

Bethesda Maryland Guitar Teacher
  • Eat What Your Grandmother Ate — Really?

    Saturday, September 27th, 2014
    The current conventional nutrition wisdom is that you should eat what your grandmother ate.  Both my grandmothers are dead.  I don't think that speaks well of conventional wisdom.  The food they ate didn't keep them alive.  It merely prolonged their agony.  But seriously, one grandmother lived on apple strudel and fried Wiener Shnitzel.  The other subsisted on Mallowmars and J-ello made with red dye number 2.  They both lived into their eighties.  What is the take home here? Meanwhile, I've always eaten very healthy (nothing fried, whole grain breads, tons of fresh produce) and I have more health issues than a small third world country.  It must be related to all of the exercise I do.  
    My grandmothers ate sugar!

    My grandmothers ate sugar!

    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Where Does the Time Go?

    Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
    My son is on a three and a half week program.  I have been planning for this all year.  Not for his program.  But for what I was going to accomplish while he was away.  What a perfect opportunity for me to have no distractions (or excuses) to clean the basement and touch up the paint in various parts of the house in heavily trafficked areas.  I was going to teach myself how to use iCal to get me organized once and for all!  I was finally going to pick out furniture so my husband won't divorce me.  (He is ashamed to entertain because our Ikea decor screams "college student.") Day One: I talked on the phone for five hours to my oldest friend who lives in Boston.  It had been a while so it was to catch up. Day Two: I don't remember day two but I think I may have reheated pizza for dinner. Day Three: I cleaned out and alphabetized my roladex (don't ask) and threw away 4 cards. Day Four: I slept a lot. Day Five: 4th of July.  I watered my potted cherry tomato plant. Day Six:   I finally implemented the "bowl." Day Seven: I experimented and for the first time, made kale chips which I promptly threw in the garbage.  Yuck! Day Eight: I gave myself carpal tunnel syndrome by playing a Carly Simon song on my piano twice.  
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Retail Therapy Redefined

    Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
    For most women, retail therapy involves going to a shopping mall for great clothes or at least one cool new item. This doesn't work for me because I feel as though I hate everything that I see. And I'm talking about even BEFORE I try it on. It's just all ugly and clingy and polyester. Yuck! I want simple, flattering, roomy, REASONABLY PRICED clothing made of cotton! Is that too much to ask???  No nylon or rayon or lycra (except in my pants -- can't get enough spandex in my pants to accommodate the menopot!)  And I definitely do not want modal (what the heck is that anyway? Is modal the fabric equivalent of melamine -- that all-purpose chemical used in both Pergo flooring and in baby formula -- in China only?) Preppy bland clothes from Lands End or L.L. Bean do not quite fit the bill.  Talbots -- too frumpy. J. Jill -- colors too washed out and way over-priced. Coldwater Creek looks great in the catalog but not in person.  Chico's -- too "mature."  Macy's -- too much stuff and therefore, overwhelming.  HELP!!!!! So, I have to get my retail fix at office supply stores and grocery stores. It's therapeutic because I am spending money on things that we really need like colorful paperclips and toner. No guilt attached to the pure, unadulterated high of swiping a Visa card when it's for Scotch tape and Post-Its (how about that for a plug for the 3M company?)

    My latest addiction are these Popcorner Chips (sea salt flavor) which BTW, are NOT available at Whole Paycheck stores

      Then, there is the shopping-from-hell experience. Costco is one of these. I've got a whole song about Costco that will appear on as an MP3 one day.  And Whole Paycheck (you know who I mean) is the other toxic retail experience.  Where else can you spend $150 on two bags of groceries and still not be able to put a meal together? Where else are there scores of pale, gaunt women who eschew make-up and chemically treated hair?  The gals don earth-tone apparel made of hemp and flax and troll the never-ending tea aisle looking for eco-friendly, over-priced, fair-trade sh*t.  I don't want every item in my shopping cart to come with its own political agenda. I just need to feed my family. Today, I found myself in their store (out of desperation for whipping cream) and approached the "chef on call" who is supposed to answer all of my spice and herb questions. He was sweating profusely all over the raw goat cheese samples that he was trying to foist upon me. When I refused one, he took it as a personal affront (goat cheese doesn't improve with age or perspiration). I asked Mr. Sweaty Toque if the store sold those lovely-smelling lavender wipes available on the endcaps which they provide to keep the plethora of immuno-compromised customers from keeling over from MRSA while they are shopping. If these anemic folks even walk by the conventional produce, they will go into severe anaphylactic shock. Mr. Spice guy told me they don't sell my lavender wipes there.  When I expressed my disappointment and wanted to know why, the condescension oozed out with the the droplets of sweat: "BECAUSE we're a grocery store you moron!"  He didn't actually use the word "moron" but it was right there in the tone. I reminded him that his sanctimonious store does, in fact sell cleaning products. Clearly, he's making minimum wage because he couldn't hack it on the chef's line after culinary school and somehow, that is MY fault. Dude, get some freakin' manners and a sweat band. They must have an eco-friendly one on aisle 9. They didn't lose me as a regular customer because I never was one any more than I'm a regular customer of 7-11.  I patronize both these stores only in a true gastronomic emergency -- like when I need something critical like marshmallow fluff.  I guess it was apparent to spice guy that I was a lowly Giant customer and I was experiencing a shunning of sorts.  Yeah, I'm suprised they didn't call their PETA goon squad to throw red paint on me because I was wearing make-up and had highlighted hair all from products that were (thankfully) tested on animals. One of their many missions is about being kind to animals (humans not so much).  How do they explain their extensive meat department?  Oh excuse me, benevolently-treated animals.  Dead animals.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • “Power of Habit” is a broken “Promise”

    Friday, August 16th, 2013
    Since I am officially gluten sensitive (or would I be gluten insensitive?  I never get those two straight.), I have to compensate for all of the things I cannot eat by smoking.  Just kidding.  I have taken solace by ingesting too much sugar.  And now, I need Antibuse.  For chocolate. I tried to outsmart my addiction by implementing the concept of portion control.  I bought a bag (or twelve) of individually wrapped Dove chocolates.  You know the ones that they call Promises and have uplifting little sayings inside.  I swear I got one that said, "Make sure you keep the promises you made to yourself."  One of those promises I made is to no longer eat their chocolates. So I picked up the book, The Power of Habit to break my Dove chocolate addiction.  (I didn't exactly pick it up since I waited six months on my library's wait list.)  It's also been on the best seller list.  I patiently waded through the first two-thirds of the book with the promise of tips to be provided in the last third about how to break bad habits and establish better ones.  The first part of the book are case studies of how companies figure out people's habits and how to exploit them for financial gain and in my case, weight gain. Some of the book was fairly interesting.  Especially about how casinos are the worst offenders because they really ruin people's lives, while Dove is only ruining my figure and my teeth.  Much of the book was snoozefest. Like how Pepsodent toothpaste came into being.  Or some of the various MRI studies revealed different brain activity when exposed to different stimuli. (Anything with the word "stimuli" gives me academic PTSD). I don't usually engage in such technical reading for pleasure.  I usually read Hollywood memoir type of books.  Yes, I am the philistine of the couple. My husband is the intellectual and reads history books for fun.  I can't even finish the title of the books he reads. I finally get to the last third of the book and the chapter starts with something like, "Well, I don't really have a magic bullet but if you are going to the cafeteria every day at 3:18 to buy a Snickers Bar, STOP it!"  I am so glad I didn't plunk down my last $25 on this book.  I'm saving my money for chocolate.

    My son engaging in a good habit!

    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Cupcake Craziness

    Friday, August 9th, 2013

    These pastries in Paris are worth their weight in gold

    Ok.  I’ve finally had it.  I’m sure I’m not the only mom who feels this way.  Those Georgetown Cupcake sisters have a real racket!  $3 for two bites!   And now, they have a TV show on TLC? Holy smokes! Why the heck did I go to law school?  Who can't make cupcakes? Unlike Sophie and Katharine, I can also make other things, like dinner. But they have this mystique because that’s all they sell.  It's like they possess some unique knowledge like a kind of medical speciality: they’re cupcakeologists.   Oh sure, they have 75 different flavors but I can’t get past the price tag.  For the cost of three cupcakes for my family, we can rent an Oscar winning movie on Pay-Per-View and not gain an ounce! FYI, it turns out the show is staged.  (I know this is a duh!! but I'm very gullible). Because we are nearby to Georgetown, we have a little inside information:  one of my students knows one of the women who "played" a customer on the show. The frozen yogurt places are also another scam.  My son goes to one of these places and fixes himself up an afternoon snack.  I have to go into my Roth IRA to pay for it.   There used to be a shop called "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt."  What I can't believe is that I spent $11 on a cup of pink air. How have we taken leave of our senses and become numb the cost of these treats?  Has inflation hit the upscale snack market serving as a bell weather of higher prices of other things like gas.  Oh wait, that already happened.  And then the bad boy of all of the overpriced junk food:  movie theater popcorn.  Don’t even get me started!  That one takes the (cup) cake!
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Senoras de Limpiados (Cleaning Ladies) Mi topico favorito!

    Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
    My MIL doesn't speak Spanish and her cleaning lady doesn't speak English.  (Why is she a Lady with a title of nobility and I'm a mere "housewife" like a feudal servant?  Is there some irony there or just a way to bring a little more class to the profession?) So, because I have had two semesters of college Spanish a very, very long time ago, I have become the "interpreter" between the two of them.  The cleaning lady called me recently and doesn't pick up on the fact that my Spanish ability is pretty primitive, and consequently, speaks rapidfire Spanish to me.  It's like she's still pays per minute for phone calls.  Without visual cues, I am hopelessly lost and am making up things left and right.  Once, I spent three hours on the telephone with her because I wasn't sure if something was really wrong. Here is the original with translation in parentheses of a recent conversation I had with Ms. Rosa when she called me: Sally ("S"): Buenas Dias Ms. Rosa. Que pasa? (Hi Rosa, what up?) Ms. Rosa ("R"): Buenas tardes Ms. Sally.  Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah acuerdo? (Good tardiness Ms. Sally.  blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah ok?) S: Mas despacio!  (Slow it down dude! I didn't grown up in Puerto Rico!  I'm from Connecticut for goodness sakes!) R:  Puedo venir jueves; solamente viernes.  The meaning of the word Jueves escaped me but sounded very similar to the Spanish word for eggs.  I was trying to figure out why the cleaning Lady was having an egg emergency and needed to call me.   (After many go rounds, I realize that Jueves is Thursday which is the only day she was available for that particular week.) R:  Digale a su suegra si es possible. (Ask your suegra to see if that's cool with her.) S: Suegra?  Que? (Suegra? What is that word?) R: La Madre de su esposo!  (The mother of your spouse!) S:  Ah ha! (needs no translation -- means Eureka in all languages or so I linguocentrically assume.  Yes, I made that word up.) S: Mi madre esta aqui. Yo voy askherle.  (My MIL is here so I will ask her it). R:  Ella esta en acuerda? (Is she in accordance with that?) S: Si.  Ella dice que esta muy bonita.  (She says it's very beautiful).  (I mix up the words for "good," "beautiful and "sweet potato").  
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Euphemisms are Us and How I Got A New TV

    Friday, July 26th, 2013

    Performing at a nursing, uh, I mean senior facility

    Well, it was new for me.  It's probably about 15 years old. Good friends read my prior post about the TV with dials from my grandmother that didn't have a remote.  Ever.  You have to pull out a nob to turn it on. Sometimes, you have to hold the attenae for a clear picture.  Our friends had upgraded their TVs to flat screens and said we could have one of their old ones.  They thought we lived so primitively, they kept asking us things like if we had cable or running water.  For awhile, we did have very low-budget cable -- it was only $3 a month.  Laugh all you want, but the test pattern was VERY clear. OK.  I can be a bit slow to update my stuff. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it right? Unless it smells. I can't deal with anything that smells bad. If someone offered me a brand new, free Mercedes but it smelled bad, I wouldn't take it. Which brings me to making and serving lunches to the homeless at a soup kitchen recently. Now, most of these folks do not smell.  But every once in a while, there is someone who is clearly emulating French hygiene sans the perfume cover-up tactic. I spoke to one of the "clients."  We were told by the folks in charge to call them "clients."  I guess "bums, hobos, or homeless" aren't very PC but I think even the "clients" knew we were being a little disengenuous. Anyway, one guy had a bottle of Metamucil next to his place setting.  I let him know that I could relate.  (My dad calls me the Fibercon Queen.)  The "client" told me that he normally likes the Whole Foods version of Metamucil better but he hadn't had a chance to get over there.  Seriously? I can't afford to shop at Whole Foods! But that explains why he can't afford housing.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • My Dad — updated a bit

    Thursday, July 25th, 2013

    My Dad channeling Picasso. This is a painting of me with my guitar by my Dad. I'm just a big blur to him:) Maybe I better suggest he have that cataract surgery sooner rather than later.

    My Dad doesn't read my blog (what does that say?) so I am free to talk about him here:)  My Dad is a widower and has spent his retirement learning to paint.  But only abstract art.  I own many of his paintings so it looks like Picasso threw up all over my walls. He's actually quite good but waking up next to a woman with three eyes and a nose where her ear should be is tough on my husband (and that's before I put on my make-up). One day recently, some Jehovah's Witnesses came to my Dad's door.  He told them, "you are not going to convert me but would you like to come in and look at my paintings?"  Oddly enough, they did and he reported that they loved the paintings and even tried to buy one for the cover of the next issue of The Watchtower.  My Dad is in that stage of life where he feels he has nothing to lose so he can do whatever he wants including letting strangers into the house.  I told him that perhaps, they could have been people posing as Jehovah's Witnesses and it could have been a bona fide home invasion. "Pish tosh" he said.  Actually, that's not exactly the words he used but because this is a family blog, I am unable to print what he really said.  He doesn't want me (or his doctors for that matter) to tell him what to do. Also recently, my Dad received a pre-programmed phone call from his town's police in suburban New Jersey that there were two black bears on the loose and not to let kids and dogs unattended.  What does my dad do?  He invites the bears in to look at his art work. My Dad always lived in or near Manhattan and is a bit of a culture vulture.  He reads the New Yorker religiously. Personally, that magazine gives me a headache.  It requires too much brain power.  Except for the cartoons, I really just don't get it. Particularly the poems.  But poetry has always been a mystery to me. Unless it starts out like, "there once was a man from Nantucket..."  So, my Dad and I were talking about movies. Of course, he likes all the Merchant Ivory-type films and anything with subtitles but guess which one of my favorites he really liked?? Romy and Michele's High School Reunion!! This from the man who invented the meningitis (HIB) vaccine for Merck! Ha! I don't feel like such a philistine anymore!  
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • My Splurge at the Apothecary

    Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
    I haven't been able to properly digest anything since before Obama was elected.  My gut is on strike from making its own enzymes. I went to a gastroenterologist (I need a nap after spelling and typing that word!)  The doctor told me to take antibiotics for ten days to clean out my system and then put me on a course of probiotics to hopefully, jump start my system. How does this work?  Is it like adding gas to the tank of your car and then after a few fillings, expecting the tank to start making its own gas?  (That would sure solve a lot of our economic woes!)  I haven't done my online research because that is NEVER a good idea.  Lots of crackpot advice out there! But, I am acting on faith that this is going to work because I am in a lot of discomfort and if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! My body refuses to expel the gas from foods.  It just kind of stockpiles it and makes me miserable. I headed over to the Village Green Apothecary.  For those who are unfamiliar with this place, it's kind of like the vitamin section of Whole Foods on steroids. It is a rather impressive place stocking the aisles with "nutritionists" to "help" you.  By "help" I mean sell you hundreds of dollars worth of capsules filled with ground up parsley seeds and fairy dust. I showed the particular "nutritionist" who was "helping" me the order from my doctor.  She said that what he recommended was inferior to the bacterial gold she suggested.  My doc's pills only had 5 billion bacteria per pill.  Doesn't that sound like enough to you?  Apparently, they sell them in 50 billion denominations. Then, in came a woman looking for a cure for her parasites. And I thought I had problems!

    Pele, the Wonderpoo we dogsat this past weekend

    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Professional Dog Walkers are authors too!

    Saturday, July 20th, 2013
    I don't want a dog but my son does.  So we dogsit.  A LOT.  We are dog sitting our neighbor's two small dogs and we arrived to pick them shortly after their dog walker had been there.  He always leaves a note indicating if the dogs did #1 or #2, if they have been fed, etc.  There is also a little narrative like, "Today, Binky and I passed a lady in a blue pea coat walking a yellow lab" or "Fifi took in the sunny weather and seemed to have a little bounce in her step."

    They are the cutest!

    Who writes this guy's copy?   If it's to show that the dog walker spent quality time with his charges, he should say something like, "Binky and I washed the car and then went out for ice cream where we had a lively discussion over the fluctuations in the bond market."   Or, "Fifi became intimate with a fire hydrant in the park today."  That's the marking of a professional!  (Pun intended).
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Me And The Appliance Guy

    Friday, July 19th, 2013

    We regularly dogsit this adorable Shi-tzu

    He is just like the Maytag guy on TV.  He is a little lonely and bored. He comes to fix my appliances and we talk.  FOR HOURS.  He has great stories. Especially about the time when he had a contract to maintain the appliances of an apartment complex in Southeast. He went into an apartment and stumbled upon a dead body (murdered, it turned out). My appliance guy is incredibly reasonable.  Unlike our pest control guy who was a fortune -- calls himself the "Mouse Whisperer."  After getting rid of our rodents, we had no money left over for the plumber so we hired a cheapo outfit called "Early Parole Plumbers." They all look like the Unibomber. Yikes! Our appliance guy is so popular and doesn't want any new customers. Most people don't want to wait out the two-week period that he's usually backed up.   So these folks are just wasting his time and tape on his answering machine with their phone calls. He actually told Washingtonian Magazine not to publish his name in their Top Appliance Repair issue.  (And no, you may not have his number). We had a chalky residue in our dishwasher.  Our appliance guy recommended running a cycle with a cup of vinegar.  He always comes up with thrifty alternatives instead of forcing us to make a costly repair. Did you ever notice that vinegar is always used as a substitute for everything? Especially in cleaning things like windows which you're also supposed use newspapers on to avoid streaking.  Now, I've got cartoon strips and Macy's ads all over my windows and my house smells like the Vlasic Pickle factory. Another substance that people recommend as a panacea for all of your practical woes is baking soda -- for gargling, or they say to sprinkle it on your carpet and vacuum it up to remove pet odors. Now, instead of dust bunnies under the bed, I’ve got to sweep up biscuits. When you mix vinegar AND baking soda, you can use it to make a nifty eruption for your paper mache volcano with your 6-year old!  Been there, done that. I'm channelling Hints from Heloise but my hair isn't white. Yet. The best thing about my appliance guy is that he will make an appointment with you rather than give you a range.  Generally, tradespeople will give you these huge windows of time and say something like, "I'll be there between 7 AM and July."  Then, when they do show up, they want a bonus. Immediately.  It's $99 for the service call. Whether it's five minutes or one hour, it's still $99. Huh? No prorating? The last time I had a plumber here and he fixed my drain in five minutes, I made him hang out with me and have coffee for the rest of the hour.  
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Why The French Don’t Get Fat

    Thursday, July 18th, 2013

    Notre Dame

    Have you seen the portions of food in France? Neither have I!  Not with the naked eye anyway. You get one transparent piece of ham inside of two small pieces of white toast with a dusting of Swiss cheese crumbs and that's a "croque monsieur."  Or more accurately, a "crock monsieur."  Le Sandwich is Le Starvation Diet. My family has been walking around Paris for 9 hours and three egg slices on a quarter of a baguette just don't cut it. 4 Euros (six bucks),  you think they could throw in the rest of the egg. One egg has 85 calories which is the energy my body needs to stay alive for one hour.  AT REST. We Americans are very physically active which is why we eat so much more. The French don't need to eat a lot because they never work up much of an appetite.  There is no such thing as "Le Working Out."  You won't find a Gold's Gym or Equinox in Paris. If the French are running, they are being pursued by someone or something. They don't jog. They can't. First of all, they have no arch supports in their shoes. Being stylish trumps good orthotic hygiene.  Second of all, the French don't exercise because it would interfere with their smoking.  Smoking is France's official favorite pastime.  We saw a Frenchman near the Eiffel Tower on the Champs de Mars giving a Segway class to a group of tourists.  He demonstrated by zipping back and forth while...you guessed it, SMOKING!  The French's other favorite pastime is laughing at tourists who try to speak their language. The French are so stingy that if you want to sit down in a fast food joint, the burger costs a couple of bucks more.  We're not talking about sitting on The Sun King's (Louis XIV) Throne. We're talking about a broken, plastic lawn chair where you will increases the price of your two-dimensional hamburger. At one seaside food stand, the people working behind the counter were hysterical laughing at me when I asked why they had charged me $6 for each order of fries with our $8 burger.  I thought the menu said it was 1/2 Euro (or 50 cents) with each burger ordered.  It turns out that the ketchup was 50 cents. And that was one measly packet. You can criticize McDonald's all you want but they don't nickel and dime you to death.  You ask for ketchup and they hand you enough packets to circle the earth a few times.  Is this a great country or what?  The French burger stand people abruptly curtailed their laughter and were awestruck when I regaled them with stories of the land of free soda refills. Completely unheard of in France.  If you could command $9 a Coke in a restaurant why the heck would you give the general public unfettered access to your pop machine? And I don't want to hear any nonsense about the French having to import their Coke from Atlanta.  They probably have a Coca Cola bottling plant under Paris in the Catacombs.  They know Americans are addicted to Coke so they can command whatever they want. The French cheapness is most apparent when it comes to paper products.  I do not believe it is an eco-friendly thing because people who drive 150 km/hr. on the Autoroute could not be terribly concerned about the environment. If you buy a full three-course meal, you will get a cocktail napkin but only upon request.  Otherwise, you must rely upon your sleeve. Even the coffee is barely visible.  The china cups are so small, you can barely get your finger in the loop.  One little swallow -- just a coffee flavored vapor actually. Haven't they ever seen a Starbucks Rio Grande that they serve to you with a forklift? Oh, wait.  That would involve a PAPER cup. Don't even think about asking for butter with that basket of tiny baguette slices. I love America: Land of the Free (and the Fat! Yay us!)  Not only do we have the Golden Arches but we still have the arches in our feet! I'd say we are ahead on all fronts.  Their architecture and city planning is sublime and undeniably, the French have insanely good bread. But the bread would be SO much better with butter!
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • I Miss Jack

    Friday, July 12th, 2013

    You must go here before you die! (They have one in NYC -- don't know if it's as good as the one in Paris but they may be less snotty).

    We met with an estate attorney recently.  The attorney asked if we could pull the plug on one another. My husband can't even kill a moth in our house. He escorts it safely back into our yard whereupon it returns at a later date to eat his Lord and Taylor suits. (The moths don't seem to go for the Syms suits for some reason, of course!)  The attorney reassured my husband that if a patient is coherent and can talk, they don't consider stopping life support.  I volunteered that I had already known that from personal experience: I tried it on my mother in mid-conversation but the nurse walked in on me.  I am the Jack Kevorkian in my family minus the death machine. I don't believe in suffering. It's all about quality of life. If I have forgotten basic stuff, like how to make a pina colada, pull my plug. I recently saw a documentary on HBO about Jack Kevorkian.  It was FASCINATING. He has invented all kinds of cool stuff besides the death machine. He was also a composer and painter.  The interesting thing is that in his final trial (he'd been tried and acquitted several times), he decided to represent himself so that he would lose and could appeal by taking the case to the Supreme Court so they could decide the issue for the whole country.  Sadly, his appeal wasn't granted.  Now I'm going to have to move to Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is legal.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Hot! Hot! Hot!

    Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
    Why is it when the power goes out, really intelligent people start just lose it?  No one is ever prepared.  Even our neighbor's generator (costing in the 5 digits!) conked out.  We had no power for about 48 hours and it felt as though we'd been to Siberia and back.  Well, this was sort of true.  We found a vacancy at a hotel by Dulles Airport which is kind of like Siberia to folks who live in Bethesda.  Every time we told someone from Maryland that we went to Viriginia, they'd stare at us with a puzzled look as if we drove to Tennessee for the weekend. Locally, everyone seemed to go to Frederick, MD or its environs.  No one EVER thinks of Virginia even though it's 15 minutes away (at least the Tysons' Corner part -- which to me is the most important part!)  We found this Hyatt Hotel for $79 per night which included a buffet breakfast.  An edible breakfast.  It was clean as a whistle.  It was a whole suite.  For $79!! It's flaw: it was in an industrial park out by the airport.  Who cares?  It had air conditioning!! And it was a stone's throw from the Dulles Town Center Shopping Mall.  But most importantly for me, it was next to P.F. Chang's which has a GLUTEN-FREE menu!!! So, I was all prepared to make a mini-vacation out of it.  However, could I relax and read my Nook?  Nooooo!  I was calling the "Y" every five minutes to see if my son's camp had been canceled.  I was texting my neighbors every 20 minutes to see if the power had returned.  I was worrying if someone was breaking into our home since without power, we couldn't arm the security system.  My husband was fretting over how long his commute would be the next day.  The list of anxieties goes on and on but at least we were cool!

    Our groovy hotel room!

    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • My Cleaning Lady Was Cheating on Me (Updated)

    Friday, July 5th, 2013
    I've been cuckolded by a wealthy family in Potomac.  I found out that my cleaning lady was cheating on me with a much dirtier family.  Apparently, she was more "satisfecha" after cleaning their house. She told me she had to quit working for me because I wouldn't let her use a "bacuum" cleaner on my wood floors.    Supposedly, the other family allowed her to "bacuum" their floors.  Is it really that unreasonable to not want my new wood floors all scratched up? "Rosa" (not her real name -- her real name is Lupe) said sweeping with a broom was too time-consuming.  Evidently, she belongs to some cleaning lady's union where the union steward told her that by collective bargaining agreement, federal law prohibits me from requiring her to use a broom. I wasn't going to fall for that.  I reminded her that not only had was I an attorney, but that I had been an immigration attorney in the mid-90s and that I still had friends at INS. Then she reminded me that there was no more INS. Oops. Someone told me to hire "Happy Maids."  Are they fooling anyone with that moniker? Are there platoons of cleaning ladies who whistle while they work cleaning up your mess?  My issue with these cleaning service troupes is not their pretense at a cheery disposition but rather their lack of hygiene.  They bring their own vacuums, brooms, mops, rags, and buckets that they used to clean HUNDREDS of other filthy houses.  Holy cross-contamination city Batman! Yes, I realize I am a little nuts. which is exactly what I want in a cleaning lady: my ideal cleaning lady is a person who is afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Although that is not my particular affliction, I am now my own cleaning lady, which means I am always employee of the month.

    A Shameless Plug for My Book (co-written with Janice Haas) available on Amazon

    Posted by Sally Pessin
    Filed under: Humor Blog
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  • My Wardrobe Nightmare

    Thursday, July 4th, 2013

    Clearly I need wardrobe help -- I look like Bluto from the Popeye Cartoon

    My friend Sue was aghast that I actually got sucked into bidding on one of those Internet "Groupon" type deals.  "You mean you spent $80 for someone to go shopping with you?  I would have done that for you for free!"  I explained that it was a great bargain because normally, the woman charges more than double that amount.  Sue then muttered something about how that it's kind of like getting half-priced tap water. The truth is, when it comes to clothes shopping, I am overwhelmed and completely paralyzed when I walk into a store. If I find something I like, inevitably, the price is something equivalent to the GNP of a small Carribean island nation. But mainly, nothing looks or feels quite right. I don't even attempt to shop at places like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, etc.  (BTW, whatever happened to Frugal Fannies?) That's just pandemonium.  I can't even cross those thresholds.  TOO. MUCH. STUFF.  Racks of "irregulars" all crammed together with sizes arranged randomly.  Most of it garbage -- that's why it's here!  (Although not a discount store, I find the above applies to Macy's too).  Unabashedly, the store throws in blouses stained with lipstick and sweaters with small holes.  They don't have to defend it because of the low price. Can someone please introduce a bill in Congress to outlaw the following garment nightmares: polyester, empire waists (EVERYONE wearing these appear to be pregnant), cap sleeves (holy sausage arm city Batman!), gray tops or sweaters (EVERYONE looks ashen and on death's doorstep in this non-color), A-line skirts (whom do these flatter?  June Cleaver?)...should I go on?  Some styles need to be put to bed. FOREVER. I read about a brilliant scheme in the local paper.  A VERY expensive blue jeans store in Bethesda was busted for providing free alcohol to customers as a kind of spending lubricant.  How come no one ever offers me a Bud Light when I'm shopping at Old Navy?  I think this would help to alleviate a lot of my shopping anxiety.  Not so subtly, they served booze to women to reduce their negative feelings about shopping for jeans which is only marginally less miserable than trying to find a bathing suit that fits and looks good. *Postscript: this post was originally published on April 1. The store giving out champagne to its blue jeans customers is now closed.  Hmmm. I wonder why. Seeing a $275 pricetag has a sobering effect on all but the most inebriated shopper.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • My Paper Towel Crisis

    Friday, June 28th, 2013

    Resting at the Arc de Triomphe after a lot running around Paris

    Our upstairs bathrooms needed cleaning. Badly. VERY badly. My husband was at work, my son was at his friend's house, the dog we were dogsitting went back to his owner, so I had run out of excuses about being "too busy" to clean the bathrooms. If you want to know why I do not have a cleaning lady, see yesterday's post. I sprayed everything down with Chlorox Cleanup because it is so NOT green but it removes all of the green from my bathrooms and really cleans it instead of merely alleviating my conscience about the environment.  Not like that Seventh Heaven product or whatever it's called from Whole Foods. I will probably develop a tumor from inhaling the stuff as I clean but at least the tumor will be germ free. I went to open my new case of paper towels (all you eco folks, don't fool yourselves -- those reusable rags retain their germs for 99 years).  I LOVE Bounty. It's so soft and has now has the "Select-A-Size" option.  I LOVE options. Even if I never use the smaller size, I love the idea that I can if I want to. Smart marketing folks! However, the new package of Bounty I just opened felt like sandpaper.  Did they change the formulation?  I tried to find Proctor and Gamble's 800 number on the Internet. Yes, I am one of those crazy people who calls those customer service numbers on the back of bottles and packages. (For instance, I once called the Pompeii Vinegar company to ask is that gelatinous glob at the bottom of my old red wine vinegar bottle was normal or was it merely that my husband trying to poison me. But I never got through.  So I threw out the vinegar.  Yes, I know, vinegar can be used as an all-purpose cleaner but I'm addicted to the smell of Chlorox Clean-up.) I too a package of 500 paper cups I got at Costco and mailed it back to Georgia Pacific because they disintegrated immediately when you poured liquid in it.  If it didn't ruin my wood furniture, it would have been a cool magic trick to impress people with. I called Proctor and Gamble, and of course, got some generic voicemail: "your message is being forwarded by Audix."  Well, I couldn't possibly clean with rough paper towels.  Besides, I was so exhausted from trying to contact the paper towel company that I had no energy left. So, once again, the bathrooms got put on the back burner.  When my husband came home, he wasn't too happy about this. Time to check the vinegar again.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Our Trip To The Amish Country

    Friday, June 21st, 2013

    Visiting the Sturgis Pretzel Factory in "LI-ditz" The town whose name sounds like it houses the National Strip Club Hall of Fame

    Last summer, we went for an overnight in Pennsylvania Dutch Country in Lancaster.  It sounded exciting – well, not exactly exciting per se but you know, sort of interesting and quaint.  Boy, the Amish are all about quaintness!  You can watch them zip about on unmotorized scooters in their plain yet almost uniform-like apparel.  Also so quaint are the ubiquitous colorful, round Hex signs painted with lots of hearts, birds and flowers.  And these cheerful little disks are supposed to scare away evils spirits?  I know that the Amish are pacifists but this one takes the Shoo Fly pie! Tourists are fascinated with the Amish.    All of this attention makes the Amish crazy.  They don’t want their photo taken with Flat Stanley.  Not that the Amish don’t take full advantage of the tourism.  They sell quilts, homemade jams, and lots of little trinkets...imported from China! The Amish like to consume noodles, mashed potatoes and whoopie pie.  I know what you’re thinking.   This is quite an ironic name for a rather puritanical people.  All of this carbo-loading goes to waste because, for some reason, you never see the Amish training for a marathon.   I didn’t notice any horse-drawn buggies bearing a little black and white oval bumper sticker that says “26.2” (which, by the way, is SO obnoxious.  No one cares!  Keep this kind of information to yourself!) Clearly, they are too busy for competitive sports:  you don’t see the Amish represented in the Olympics.  That’s because their time is spent making home-cooked meals while the rest of us are eating fast food from “Sheetz,” Amish Country’s ubiquitous gas station and convenience mart.  Am I the only one who cracks up every time I see a giant red and yellow sign bearing the name, “Sheetz?”  Unfortunately, my inner Bart Simpson was in full throttle on this particular trip.  We were searching for a nearby antiquing town called “Lititz.”  Navigating, I told my husband that to get to Lititz, there would be a turnoff near “Lebutt.”  My husband who is the adult in our marriage explained that it's probably pronounced "LI-ditz" after some town in Eastern Europe.  My husband is also the intellectual in our marriage and I'm the buffoon.  But I'm also the fun one.  Especially after a few margaritas. My husband has taught my son all about history and geography.  I, on the other hand, have taught my son how to blow into an empty Coke bottle to make it sound like a steam ship entering the harbor.  My years of flute playing have been put to good use.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • My Issues with Public Bathrooms

    Friday, June 14th, 2013
    And they are aplenty. I do appreciate that they are trying to improve public restrooms by attempting to make them more hygienic.  For instance, all of the sensor-driven technology helps you to avoid touching anything lest you pick up germs. First there is the toilet. We all know how wonderfully the sensor system works. You get up to clean off (if you can remove any toilet paper from the Conestoga wagon wheel-sized roll) and the thing flushes before you are done. Then, you throw all the TP in the bowl and you can't get it to flush again. You wave your hands all around as if you are trying to conjure up the flushing genie. Nothing. Then, inevitably, while you are inspecting other options with your face two inches from the bowl, unexpectly, it gushes up like Old Faithful spraying you in the face.  And this is a sanitary upgrade? Why can't they give us the handles back that you can flush with your foot? Better yet are the ones with the pedals! To wash up, you have to physically pump the soap although some of those dispensers have sensors too but they NEVER work. So now, with soapy, yet germy hands, you wave your hands under the faucet sensor, but no water comes out.  If you are lucky enough to get the water running, it's cold.  The hand dryer works by sensor and is as loud and forceful as a jet engine. It could blow a small child clear across the restroom. Please give me back my paper towels so I can use it to open the bathroom door to exit! Until they have a sensor that opens the door for you, all of the other upgrades have been for naught.

    Riding in a dome car in a canyon in Colorado -- we had to remind the waiter three times to put the tape of the descriptive narrative on. He didn't remember until we were 20 minutes into the trip. Being so out of sync, the narration wasn't helpful but merely annoying as background noise.

    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • One way to thin out traffic

    Saturday, June 8th, 2013
    I read an article in the paper that talked about a country where women are not allowed to drive.  (BTW, I want to live in a country where women aren't allowed to clean!  LOL:)  I will not mention that country's name because I don't want to become the female Salman Rushdie of humor bloggers.  However, I think we all know what hot, dry, oil-bloated country I am talking about.  To take a page out of Seinfeld's book, here's a hint: it rhymes with a part of the female anatomy whose mention is also outlawed in this country. A few women protested by coordinating a "drive-in" -- they all went out for a joy ride at the same time.  One woman went on the Internet and posted a photo of herself driving.  She was subsequently arrested. The men in power in this country won't let women drive because they claim that driving degrades a woman's dignity.  We all know that by contrast, waiting for a bus in the rain (or in this case, in a sandstorm) is a much more dignifying experience.  Does every woman in this country really  have their own chauffeurs? I think the true reason behind this policy is to thin out traffic.  Could you imagine if we could remove 50 percent of the population from the roads? It would eliminate road rage because there would never be traffic. If they really want to take away women's "drive to drive", then they should import crummier cars.  Currently, the photos show these women in tricked-out Land Rovers and Mercedes SUVs.  Why don't they import some Kias and Chevy Novas? (My apologies to those of you who own those cars, but seriously, get with the program and buy a Honda!)  The women wouldn't be so eager to be seen in a car like that!

    A picture of me driving a pretty tricked out SUV in Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park, Colorado last summer

    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • I’m Not Trying to Be Insensitive

    Friday, June 7th, 2013

    Our very groovy pool.

    We are so lucky to have access to my mother-in-law's gorgeous condo pool.  We have it all to ourselves.  There are a handful of people on the deck working on their melanoma tans but they never go in the pool. The route we take is Grosvenor Lane, which is a very busy road because it connects two major roads -- Old G'town Rd. and Rockville Pike. They even have speed cameras.  There is a rehab facility located on Grosvenor Lane and it appears to be for folks who have lost their ability to walk. You will see them zooming up and down on the sidewalk of this major road  in their motorized scooters.  Yesterday, we saw a woman in her motor scooter just sitting on the sidewalk with a giant hand-held mirror in front of her face.  As we passed her, I noticed she was tweezing her beard. I guess the lighting in the rehab place isn't as good as natural light.  Witnessing this public grooming incident provided Eric and me our "word of the day" which was "uninhibited."  Each day, I choose a word that Eric doesn't know and we write it down.  FYI, most of the words that come up while I'm driving are not elegible for the list because they are profane and because Eric already knows them from driving with me for 14 years.  Please don't call child protective services damnit! Today, on the same road, we saw a man in a regular wheelchair hitching a ride by holding onto the shoulders of a woman in a motorized scooter.  They were forming a train of sorts and they were moving at quite a clip!  It was some sight! I didn't take a photo with my phone because I didn't want to end up in the same place as this little convoy.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Outrageous Behavior in these parts

    Friday, May 31st, 2013

    At the Continental Divide in Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park, Colorado Last Summer

    I never cease to be amazed by the kahones of certain people. I am on a neighborhood listserv (it actually includes folks in our entire zipcode and some interlopers who aren't even in 20817).  So, I have a good cross-section of crazies to chronicle.  One person posted the following:
    "My husband and I have been too busy to tend to our yard and it now looks like a scene from a Jurassic Park movie. If anyone of any age would be able to just do a little raking and mow our lawn this weekend, we would be most happy to give away some of our beautiful red oak tree logs-some suitable for a fire place..."
    This was sort of a "Tom Sawyer" fool's errand: this was the spring: they didn't want to pay anything AND they wanted someone to haul away their firewood. They estimated it would take 2-3 hours.  To mow and rake Jurassic park? Even without running from velociraptors, the time estimated to complete this task seems a little off-kilter.  But never mind that. This woman's signature block states her title and apparently, she is a big muckety muck with the government and presumably has a salary. A LARGE ONE. I responded to the post by stating that my 14-year old would work for an iPod but has little use for her firewood inasmuch as we have a gas fireplace.
    In an unrelated incident of outrageous behavior, I recall a conversation I had 20 years ago.  (The fact that I can recall anything beyond last night is noteworthy.) I was working on writing a script with the son of a famous Hollywood producer.  He was a little weird and I was probably not so wise to go to his apartment alone but some good friends who worked with him in his "day job" vouched for him.  Nothing untoward happened.  I just realized what a nutjob he was after the following occurrence: While I was there, the phone rang. It was a collection agency.  The Washington Post wanted their money for an ad he had placed to sell a dresser. He was a bit unpleasant and hung up on them.  I asked him why he hadn't pay the bill.  He said because he never sold the dresser so why should he pay for the ad? I see his logic but he was clearly under the misperception that classified ads are a contingency arrangement.  Needless to say, it was impossible to co-write a script with him -- let's just say that we were not only on a different page but on opposite sides of the Continental Divide.
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • My Parking Anxiety

    Friday, May 24th, 2013
    I choose doctors not based on their credentials but rather, based on the parking situation. I have tremendous parking anxiety. Today, I went for a mammogram.  (If this is TMI, stop me or at least stop reading.)  The nurses there are so nice (except for one who could have scored the part as Nurse Ratchet in Cukoo's Nest). I was alone in the waiting room in my flimsy hospital gown when my nurse whom I'll call "Betty" came to explain that it would just be another few minutes. Another nurse, Darlene, walked by all elated and asked Betty, "Did you tell her yet?" I asked, "Tell me what? Did I win a free trip for being the millionth patient?  Where am I going? To MD Anderson Breast Center in Texas?" Betty explained that Darlene was excited because they had just gotten new machines. I asked if the new machines were pain free.  Nope. They just produce clearer pictures making it easier on the radiologist.  Why is that exciting for me? I thought maybe they at least would give out a free beer with every mammogram. The procedure, (which for those who happen to be male, is akin to having one's boobs run over by a monster truck) was over and I was told not to change but to wait in the inner waiting room.  They make you stay in your gown in case they have to do more extensive imaging (a sonogram).  Or if they screwed it up the first time and the radiologist calls for a do-over.  All the other women waiting with me for their results were palpably anxious. But I was not worried about receiving my results. I was worried because I only had minutes left on my parking meter. I told them that if they didn't take me shortly, I was going to run out into the outer waiting room where there were husbands waiting (do I care?), paper gown and all to plug my meter. Betty said that she promised that if the doc didn't see me shortly, she would feed the meter. My meter did expire but luckily, they hadn't ticketed me yet. It's always nice to dodge a bullet at the conclusion of one's mammogram.  I had just dodged two.

    We are so lucky we get to watch these two so often!

    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Housewives?

    Friday, May 17th, 2013

    At Le Mont St. Michel -- A poster of this adorns the walls of every French classroom in the United States

    While taking Jet Blue (with their individual TVs) down to Ft. Lauderdale a year ago, I became addicted to the "Real Housewives of New York City."  Housewives?  Really? What about these women says "Housewives" to you? Nada. Four of the seven housewives of NYC were divorced (Kelly, LuAnn, Bethenny, and Sonya), (Jill had also previously been divorced but is now remarried).  Alex is married to a gay guy and Ramona, the one with Borderline Personality Disorder is the family breadwinner -- hardly a housewife. Not one of these women remotely resemble any housewife, dead or alive. My mother calls me a housewife even though I'm a trained lawyer and entrepreneur so I guess the term is misused a lot.  (In my family, if your brother is a doctor, it's very hard to gain legitimacy.) Maybe I am completely naive but perhaps, much of the show is staged.  Fake plots, fake husbands, and definitely fake boobs and other assorted body parts.  These women spend little or no time with their spouses (those who have them).  You never see the kids.  They don't clean their own homes, they don't cook or deal with anything requiring any effort beyond lifting a glass of Pinot Grigio to their lips.  They have drivers, assistants, stylists, nannies and full-time housekeepers -- again -- where's the housewife part? If they had called the show, the "Spoiled Women of New York City" that would have been much more accurate.  These wealthy,  pampered brats hardly represent the majority of women living in any city, state or town. I don't think there are any good connotations associated with the term "housewife."  It's a completely nonsensical word which literally implies that a woman is married to her house.  It really has a pretty derogatory meaning because we all know that housewives earn no money despite the fact that they work your keister off (keister -- now there's an antiquated term -- I must be channeling Garrison Keiller). Even the IRS doesn't bother with housewives: no need to file a tax return -- we're the tax equivalent of pond scum I guess. In fact, I'd rather be able to say I'm "Christmas Help" or a "Migratory Farm Worker" because at least they get paid.  Unless you get paid for what you do, you get no respect. (Or maybe that's just in my family).
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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  • Mirror, mirror and other Horrific Reflections

    Friday, May 10th, 2013

    Shrek and Fiona Pessin

    My husband and I recently had some candid shots taken at a social event.  Much to our horror, these photos were posted online. We couldn't believe we looked that bad. My husband said to me, "Do I REALLY look that old?"  I said to him, "Is my right nostril really that big?"  Amelia Earhardt could have gone astray therein.  Clearly not flattering shots.  The disturbing part was that the photos of everyone else attending the event were extremely flattering so we couldn't blame the photographer.  It must have been us.  We were oblivious to the fact that we are the Shrek and Fiona of our family. But because they all love us so much (ha!) and are so accepting of our flaws (double ha!) that we are blissfully unaware of our ogre-like appearance. Our 14-year old son tried to cheer us up.  He said, "you guys aren't THAT ugly." We reminded him that he is a blend of us. Good self-image is hard to come by as a middle aged adult unless it was cultivated at a young age. I am thinking back to one particular incident that is very revealing of why I may have some minor (triple ha!) self-esteem issues. When I was a freshman in college, I brought two friends home with me for a holiday weekend. It was an all women's college. What was I thinking? I eventually wisened up and got the heck out of there after one year.  It was impossible to get a date. Impossible to meet men. Impossible to remember what men looked like except for the French professor having an affair with the cute senior who lived on my dorm floor.  The prof would use a fake name when he called for "Sue" on the hall phone. Since I have a musical ear and because I had class with him every day, I knew it was him on the phone.  He wasn't even cute. He was just a guy and we were all DESPERATE. It was really quite pathetic. Some of the upper classwomen had real loser guys living in their dorm rooms with them.  These guys were freeloading off of these very high achieving women who craved the company someone who could grow chest hair. Two other women did the next best thing and got huge dogs.  Needless to say, they were "asked" to leave the dorm. Since it was a school for wealthy girls, the school didn't want to appear to be kicking them out so the school rented them an apartment off campus to accommodate the Laborador retrievers. After the weekend when I brought my friends home, my mother called me to express her concern.  She said, "I told your stepfather that you will never meet any guys if you hang around with such unattractive girls." My stepdad, sincerely trying to defend my choice of friends told my mother: "I disagree. If the three of them hang out together, Sally will look good by comparison." To borrow a phrase from Dave Barry: "I swear I am not making this up."  To borrow a phrase from Woody Allen, "20 years of therapy dialing 911."
    Posted by Sally Pessin
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