July 8, 2012

And You'll Know Me by my Pants on Fire...

The first lie I remember telling was in the second grade, and it saved my soul. I can say with confidence that I told plenty of whoppers prior to that May in 1972 because I possessed all of the requisite outside forces necessary to lead me down the path of righteous fibbing: I had a sister (younger and gullible), I liked candy (more than my meager allowance could supply), I placed homework far behind Gilligan’s Island (a tangled web of tropical survival lies), I loved all things Barbie (a lifestyle of lies: Dream House, Friend Ship airplane, Malibu, Ken), and most importantly, I was a fan of Columbo and his lie-detecting skills, which made me, by keen observation, an expert liar.  I can’t readily recall by name any of the lies I told up until then, and not many of them afterward. Surely there were hundreds of spur-of-the-moment survival quips, uttered and then forgotten, along the lines of, “Did you eat your broccoli?” “Yes!” “Did you brush your teeth?” “Yes!” “Who released the emergency brake?!” “Not me.”  My earliest remembered lie was the first I had to work for, dig deep into my soul and wrestle out, fabricate in just the right way, form just so and present perfectly. And then, oddly enough, for an encore I had to beg forgiveness. Or pretend to. Peter Falk would have been proud.

June 14, 2011

Trash or Treasure? Judge Your Children Now, Before it's Too Late.

(This post first appeared in a blog I forgot I had, in October of 2010. I'm too lazy to keep writing new things, so I'll start posting old hackneyed posts for a while. Okay? Okay.)
Over the last something-something years I have collected, under duress, the largest pile of children’s artwork in the tri-county region. It is given to me with pride as homework, for Mother’s Day, my birthday, from art class, and just because. I, like so many of my fellow mothers, do my duty and hang it on my refrigerator for an undisclosed period of time, and when the timing feels right I remove it and then…

Yes. It’s the “and then” that kills us. Toss? Keep? Under the nurturing roofs of our homes we coddle the budding artists, but here the gloves are off. Send me your child’s art and I’ll be judge and jury and tell you whether you’ve got treasure or trash on your hands. (And by the way - stainless steel finish appliances do not magnetize. Glorious!)

Judge & Jury Entrant #1: Markers on Puce Construction Paper

Let's not quibble; this isn't puce, it's Baby Shit Orange, the color that all construction paper eventually turns after years of storage in a forgotten kindergarten cabinet. At first glance it looks like a haphazard scribble, but on closer inspection it appears that an initial attempt at drawing a person (lower right corner, blue ink) with the word "poo" over him, was thwarted and then covered in pretty rainbow colors, perhaps at the encouragement of an art teacher not skilled in child therapy or swears. This piece is extra special (apparently) because it is laminated. LAMINATED. Which may lead the parents to believe that this is as good as it's going to get for this kid.  TRASH. (unless the next dozen artworks also contain the word "poo" in which case you have a "poo period" = TREASURE.)

Judge & Jury Entrant #2: Pencil Big Heads With Stitches on Paper

This entry is quite complex. While it could be interpreted in so many meaningful ways (two people after a horrible car accident, only one survivor; lollipop people down on their luck), I choose to see a portrait of a blended family. Clearly the brother on the left is from "scary skeleton world" while brother on the right hails from "happy balloon land." They have grown up together in a blended family and have metaphorically survived identical emotional wounds and poor eating habits, which has only brought them closer. This is truly a beautiful portrait of a loving sibling relationship. *Sniff* However, it is a cruel reminder that one or both boys came from a broken or breaking home, and you know what they say - Lose the reminders and put on your blinders! So...TRASH.

Judge & Jury Entrant #3: Red Ink Space-Clown-Robot on Paper

You know, I thought this was a Space-Clown-Robot at first, too, until I noticed the tell-tale tufts of hair on the sides of the subject's head, indicative of male pattern baldness. Add this to the perceived clown hat, which we realize with horror is actually a middle-aged comb-over gone mohawk, and suddenly it's all laid out before us. The Space-Clown-Robot has morphed into a turkey (I know, it's creepy, but it just does). This seemingly playful drawing is a cry for help after Uncle You-Know-Who acted out at Thanksgiving dinner last year. As art this might be TRASH, but as evidence in your restraining order against Uncle Turkey, it's definitely TREASURE.

November 23, 2010

West Meets East, Smiling Politely

(This column first appeared in the Good Times Weekly on November 18th, and can be found on their website here.)

As I prepare myself physically and mentally for an impending minor surgical procedure (nothing life-threatening, nothing to increase or decrease specific body parts, nothing I couldn’t discuss over cocktails in polite society), I look back at my journey to this point, the helpful advice received from friends and strangers, and the research into all of the options available to me.  Then I smile and thank someone’s god for western medicine.

Does it have to be this bad?

Before you get your yoga pants in a knot, allow me to continue.

I collect medical practitioners like kitchen appliances, and count among my handiest helpers chiropractors, acupuncturists, osteopaths and Rolfers, alongside Ear, Nose and Throat and Orthopedic doctors. I’ve had psychic readings from afar and visited gastroenterologists…for within. But my sigh of relief at western medicine stems from memories of my first brush with eastern medicine, a day I like to refer to as The Day My Black Heart Stood Still.

It happened some time ago, I can’t remember how long, but in memory it coincides with my being issued a Volvo station wagon, seven pair of flip flops, and a re-usable water bottle, representing the unofficial trifecta of Santa Cruz ideology: practicality, comfort and hydration, which places it around the time I moved here. Well-meaning friends were coercing me to try acupuncture. I suffered from chronic and annoying conditions that weren’t remedied by x-rays, prescription medication or repeated shrieking accusations that my doctor was clearly missing the obvious signs of early onset death. One can only argue with hippies and the persistently helpful for so long, so I gave in, made an appointment and within days found myself lying in wait in a vaguely Salv-Asian Army decorated room. (Oh, don’t write me a letter. Spend the time doing something constructive.)

Sweating through the thoughts that danced in my head as I prepared for that first experience with eastern medicine probably cured me of more ills than anything to follow. My mind raced from hopeful to fearful, from joy to shame, acceptance to panic. Maybe this would work! What if she could see into my black heart? Finally, someone who asked real questions! Could she tell I was lying about everything? If I fix this thing called qi, I’ll be okay! Holy crap, I’m going to drop through this floor straight to hell once her eastern-trained hands/eyes/spirit see into the abyss of my western-soaked soul! And mostly - Aha! That’s what that word is - Qi!

Knowing I had to play it cool and loose with this wise woman, I let her close the door all the way behind her, sit down and get the following five words out, “Hello, Kim. My name is…” before I blurted out, “Will you be able to see into my cold black heart, or will you be able to work around that?” I smiled after my verbal avalanche to relay my willingness to be labeled both “Pure Evil” as well as “Healed.” I wrung my hands and twisted my feet together, awaiting her judgment.

She laughed in such a relaxed, knowing manner that I was certain hundreds of people had asked her this before. Hundreds of other “little sh*ts,” as my aunt always called me, had trumpeted this warning, this confession, this apology and cry for help. This made me feel better. Until she answered, “No, I can’t see anything. You’re the first person who’s ever said that! That’s really funny!”

So of course we both laughed. Because of course I had been kidding. Of course. And she poked me with needles and rubbed my temples with lavender, and played lonely Native American panpipe music and I fell asleep.

When she was done with me, I did feel better, inside and out, and I continue to see her. And I still tell her funny jokes, like “Can you feel where I’m going to yell at my elderly parents later today?” And we laugh. And she keeps my secrets, and pokes me with needles. And she pretends, I assume like all good eastern medicine practitioners, that the true nature of her patient is not Death Race 2000 on pause. Right?

Maybe my secret is that I actually don’t have a black heart, or a cold dead soul, and maybe I should stop paying so many doctors to find what isn’t there. And the relief of western medicine? Well, aside from a hangover here and there, existential angst hasn’t played a role while getting my blood pressure taken. Perhaps I’m missing an opportunity?

(Kim Luke – 110 over 70 – was recently cupped for the first time and had a grand time explaining the hickies. kimluke@baymoon.com)

November 21, 2010

A Quick Quiz: Which Bowling Pin Are You?

Like everything else in life that can be reduced to simple comparisons, "Which Bowling Pin Are You" will accurately portray your character and, most likely, your future successes and failures.

1 = You are vulnerable, and frequently feel singled out. Some might say you are paranoid, convinced everyone is out to get you.

2 or 3 = You are a leader, and others will follow your path.  You’re often the target of attacks, but you have a good frame of reference.

5, 8 or 9 = You follow the pack and tend to go along with others’ decisions, often teetering at the last minute for dramatic effect.  Always in the shadow, you sometimes hold your ground for no apparent reason, just to be stubborn.

4 or 6 = You are wild cards, the life of the party, or the party pooper, and nobody can call you predictable.  Go with the flow?  Maybe.  Stand out like a sore thumb?  Maybe.  Only you can decide.

7 or 10 = You are loners and tend to not play well with others.   Ornery and obstinate, or fragile and weepy, nobody likes your instability and you know it.  The chip on your shoulder is a mile wide.  

November 13, 2010

Modified Sudden Death? Pass the Cheesecake!

The football clock, akin to the atomic clock.
As 2010 moves to its inevitable wrap-up, and I look back over the news stories, discoveries and revelations made over the past twelve months, I can’t be alone in naming the #1 most important policy change for humankind: the NFL Modified Sudden Death ruling.  (Wait! For those of you who just considered this piece “out of my comfort zone,” please continue – this has huge ramifications for anyone still breathing.)