What Kind Of Thinker Are You?

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about thinking a lot and the different ways people use their brains, or don’t use them.

I recently wrote a post about the subject at Huffington Post and would like to expand upon it here.

As an “outside the lines” thinker, I’ve been listening to this thought rattle around in my head:

Can a “within the lines” thinker let his mind wander beyond the perimeter outside conventional thought?

Specifically speaking, can a rigid-thinking mathematician who values the orderly nature of numbers use his thoughts as a flotation device? — In one-tenth percent of a moment, can he disavow digits and embrace escape?

I think Mr. Numbers can if he’d be willing to take his thoughts out for a spin on the far side — a magical place to visit whenever life broadsides your brain.

Just two words can take you there: “What if?” A game writers love to play.

“What if my house is really a spaceship that landed in my yard while I was asleep in a coma tube?”

“What if the universe is really a diorama in an alien museum?”

Try to prove or disprove that theory my “within the lines” thinking friend.

Perhaps, rigid thinkers, like Mr. Numbers, are a necessity for those of us who landed on Earth in a coma tube. We need practical thinkers to counteract wily thinkers like us.

Rigid types create structure that prevents wily thought travelers from disappearing into a virtual vortex of vex.

Perhaps, one structural creation device is a pharma helper called Concerta for attention drifters whose thought migration patterns follow the sparkles in shiny things.

As an attention drifter myself, Concerta helps me travel round trip from left-brain to right. Now when I clock in at work, my mind clocks in, too. Concerta keeps my thoughts on a leash inside the perimeter in which I sit. If I’m not busy, I find work to occupy my time to prevent my thoughts from taking a sudden trip to Imagination Island.

Mr. Numbers has a problem that’s 180-degrees from mine. He’s a “within the lines thinker” and could benefit from a pharma helper with a psychedelic twist. Not that I condone taking “under the counter” drugs. I don’t. In many cases, even “over the counter” drugs aren’t the best way to fix an anomaly in the brain.

Let’s take the natural route, instead, and ask Mr. Numbers to try meditating once a day without clutching his calculator.

I only use a calculator when adding or subtracting, which consumes most of the focus in my focus meds.

By the time I get home, my mind is in a hibernation state. All I’m capable of is staring at the brain-suck box in my living room. It whites out lingering dark figures that prowl the corridors in my head searching for answers to sum up their existence.

I wonder if things ever add up for them.

What sums up the kind of thinker you are?

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of Concerta. I am no fan of pharmaceutical ads and their side-effect warnings — especially, the latest ad on Shingles that shows gruesome pictures without a warning beforehand of the PTSD side effects of viewing red oozing back sores. Somebody please get Shingle ads off my TV.

Food, You Are Dead to Me!



Because I can’t taste you anymore.
At least, not in the way I used to.

Several months ago, I noticed that
trusted flavors lacked their usual zest.

Garlic, yogurt, onions…all tasted bland.

Granted, I’ve never been much of
a cook…Well, food tasted blander
than that.

At first, I thought I was imagining it.
But as time passed, I realized it was real.

Food had lost its zing. It was just plain, tasteless.

Sure, at times a hint of peripheral flavors slipped through the vague ingredients.

I was able to detect gobs of garlic, onions and even burnt toast. Sweet foods tasted sweet but not in a savory way.

All the flavors smushed together into one muted lump that confused my brain.

While I was eating a piece of cake, my brain sent a note.

Hey, you. That’s supposed to be chocolate you’re eating. But I taste nonspecific sweet, not dark chocolate sweet. What’s up with that?

I don’t know what to say. It looks like cake. But…the sights, textures and taste of foods just don’t jive.

I knew what I was eating but there was a communication problem between my tongue and brain. After being BFFs for so many years, suddenly they stopped talking.

My brain sent another note one night while I was eating pepperoni pizza.

Hey, that’s cheese. Isn’t it? And spicy pepperoni with garlic. But all I taste is a hint of spice. Not a specific spice. Again, totally generic and bland. What’s up with that?

Well, I’ve got this stuff in the sensory area of my brain. Lesions force the neurons to take the scenic route, on the back roads, to where they need to go. Instead of the short cut they’re used to.

Oh, yeah, 2001. Now I remember being zapped with electrical impulses during the Sensory Evoked Potential Test.

Hey, I was zapped. You just reacted.

Well, it sucked just the same. But what’s that got to do with the taste of food at a Chinese restaurant?

Sensory, my friend. Senses, lack of taste…

You’ve always been a bit tasteless but never with food.

Well, now we’ve come full circle, or rather full oval, the actual shape of my head.

Just do me a flavor. I mean favor. The next time you eat chocolate cake, smother it with hot fudge, mint chocolate chip ice cream and whip cream. Lots of sweet stuff. Maybe if you inundate your tongue with a potpourri of sweets, you’ll get dessert justice.

Thanks Brain. Now I know why you’re in charge. But you still have my ass to answer to.

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The Children of Violence, a Generation of Lost Innocence



As a child in the sixties, my innocence and the innocence of the nation, was shattered by three assassinations, one, years before the others, the others, just several months apart.

My generation could no longer hope for the clichéd, happy resolution at the end of a story. Our world, once a pocket of predictability, had changed. It was no longer a blasé place with innocuous consequences. The evil characters and scary plot twists in films had migrated from the movie screens to our backyards.

Fantasy and reality had synthesized into one glaring truth. Society was damaged. Evil had infiltrated our communities; our futures determined by uncontrollable forces, our lives affected by unnecessary wars that benefited corporations and by violent sociopaths with their fingers on the triggers.

The blood that had spilled from our larger than life heroes, and lesser unknown heroes of the Vietnam War, spilled into our national consciousness and created a generation of lost innocents, once content with the bland, black and white stories of suburbia portrayed in the TV show, Leave it to Beaver, and the Cleaver family, the perfect American family with uncomplicated lives.

The colorless, black and white images of the fifties gave way to blood-stained Technicolor images of the sixties and seventies, of students murdered on college campuses and soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.

From Vietnam to Kent State to Jackson State, my generation was traumatized by indiscriminate shootings of, and by, our protectors, and the victims who fell from the force of their guns. On the ground, spurting blood, a generation of innocent lost to senseless violence.

For my generation, many of the tragedies we witnessed on TV were a result of social change in society, with the exception of the deaths of our three larger than life heroes, whose murders we watched on TV sets in our living rooms, footage replayed night-after-night in prime-time.

This generation of children today, unlike my generation, never had the luxury of black and white simplicity. They never had the peaceful pause of silence before the next raging storm. Their innocence was taken from them soon after they were born by the violent images they see on TV, perpetuated by sociopaths who emerge from the shadows with their fingers on the triggers.

The murderers of innocence should heed the words projected on the wall of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

If I Could See with My Nose


Dog Thoughts


My dog Jenny smells coyotes and cats with her superpower nose that can detect animal life through closed windows. It amazes me what she can see with her nose.

I stand at the window staring at trees and grass, and bits of sagging sky through the hills, and see nothing living or breathing. Though the hills may be alive with the sound of music.

Jenny doesn’t hear the sound of music. She smells it with her nose, a magical nose that interprets each scent with scientific accuracy, while I squint to read a street sign in the dark.

I wish I had a nose that can see.

My magical nose would find a Caribbean beach to wade in warm aquamarine sea, the sunlight hugging me, warming my brown skin, wet and salty, but not like taffy. My skin is dry like wisps of windswept sand as the ocean speaks in a way it only can.

The tide rolls in and my toes sink into wet scalloped sand. Above, gossiping gulls scan the beach from atop a thatched roof. They kvetch because they caught air instead of food. The gulls need to take a break from gulling and rest on a fence or light post; their squawks drown out the drone of voices from humans sauteing in the sun.

The gulls stretch their wings and jump into sky, circling the human world below, shielded by baseball caps and straw hats. Humans need protection from the sun and each other. Gulls just need table scraps and then to crap on ornamental humanity.


M.I.A. in FLA – I’m Back but My Brain Stayed!


Lauren flying through stars

My blog has been mute for a week.

Testing – one, two, three. Ahem. It’s back!

I found my voice, lost during silent strolls along Atlantic Beach – the sun on my back, fifty-degree ocean water at my feet. One quick toe dip, I stuck to sand and the sand stuck to me.


Feet in sand

Last Friday, hubby, son and I flew to Florida for the weekend, my first vacation in three years, not including the occasional mind trip.

Wing in clouds

The weather cooperated with my perception of Florida and dished out eighty-degree days of tepid bliss.

Rush hour on Neptune Beach

Dressed in flip-flops, Capri pants and a sleeveless blouse, I shuffled along sun-baked brick streets…

Atlantic Beach Walk

Sun baked brick walkway











…and ate homemade food outside local eateries with the wind in my hair, enjoying good food and conversation.

Zack morning


More fine dining at night. I washed down a red snapper with two martinis. Throughout dinner, the fish looked up at me, a full form specimen, laid out on my plate, wide-eyed on its side. That night, I broke my dining prime directive: never order food that can stare at you while you eat.


Fish food


A walk back to the room, through breezy ocean air, flushed the fish eyes from my mind. Later, I drifted off to sleep listening to waves wash onto the beach, the sound louder than my sleep machine at home. I tried to adjust the volume but couldn’t find the dial.


Neptune Beach Sunrise


When was the last time you went away?

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I Brake for Frogs

Frogger Beyond

Frogger Beyond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the infinite darkness of suburbia, an asphalt-hopping frog defies death to cross the road. I see it in a flash of headlight that hits it midway before it reaches the other side.

I brake to prevent from flattening it, guided by a lingering empathy from the 80s. I regret killing its countless cartoon compadres while playing the arcade game, Frogger.

Caught in the intractable glare of my high beams, the frog hesitates, immobilized by the sudden iridescent light, an anomaly at night.

The frog’s confusion is evident in its inertia, a fleshy bull’s-eye sitting in the center of the road.

I wait, stuck in the shuddering restraint of a two-ton idling car, while checking the rearview mirror for oncoming lights. With the weight of my shoe firmly planted on the brake, I allow patience to temper my inclination to pivot toward the gas.

“Okay, frog. I can spare a minute or two as long as it’s just me and you.” I sigh, and then revisit the empty darkness of the rearview mirror.

“Frog, as long as I’m safe, you’re safe.”

I give the frog a moment to ponder the outcome of its inaction and hope the word, “Splat” comes to mind.

Meanwhile, I lower the headlights, thinking it might jump-start the amphibian brain.

Only seconds pass before the frog inches forward toward the grassy knoll on the other side.

“Finally, I won a game of Frogger. It only took me thirty years.”

I smile from the pale reminder of a youthful memory, brighten the headlights and drive.


Silly Sunday #47

Are you funny? If so, please join in at Silly Sunday, co-hosted by Rhonda of Kibitz Spot and Laugh Quotes and Sandee of Comedy Plus. Rhonda is on a big adventure traveling the world until December 2, 2012. For more information about Silly Sunday click HERE.

The Worst Xmas Ever: Fallout from a Plane Crash

For my husband, every Christmas is the worst Christmas ever. His father died on his way home for the holiday after a business trip to Chicago.

I previously wrote about this horrendous midair accident on the 50th anniversary of the Park Slope crash. I thought it would be fitting to re-post it today,  Day 25 of 30 Days of Writing. The Writing Prompt: The Worst Xmas Ever.

Pillar of Fire

Image by writRHET via Flickr

On December 16, 1960, United Flight 826 and TWA Flight 266 collided over Staten Island, New York. While attempting an emergency landing at LaGuardia Airport, United Flight 826 crashed into the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.

From the Green-Wood Historical Fund:

Ten brownstones near the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place were set on fire, as were a funeral home, a laundry, a delicatessen, and, strangely enough, the Pillar of Fire Church.

134 people died that day, including my husband’s father. Jim was four years old at the time.

But the tragedy didn’t end with the victims suffering or with the families devastating losses. On that day a Channel 4 news reporter, Gabe Pressman, had gotten a hold of the passenger manifest from United Flight 826 and called my husband’s mother, and likely other families, in order to get an interview.

He called my mother-in-law live on the air to inform her that her husband was on United Flight 826 and said something to the affect of, “Do you have a comment?”

That’s how my mother-in-law found out her husband had died. Her brother grabbed the phone from her and said, “Fuck you Gabe Pressman,” then hung up.

When recounting the incident of his father’s death on the 50th anniversary of the air disaster, Jim said of Gabe Pressman, “How callous and cold hearted.  Just to get a story.”

NY Times television critic Jack Gould had criticized the television coverage of the crash and had published a piece called . . .

“Exploiting Sorrow,” specifically, “the disgraceful and tasteless attempts to interview grief-stricken people who lost members of their families in the tragedies.”

Fifty years later while reflecting on Jack Gould’s criticism of his handling of the story, Gabe Pressman had this to say:

“. . . he didn’t know beans about covering a story on the scene.”

And I say to you, Mr. Pressman, you don’t know beans about integrity in journalism or respect for victims’ families. A line needs to be drawn between “getting the story” and respecting the privacy of those who survived an untimely death of a loved one. This was “gotcha journalism” at its worst.

In spite of the soul gouging by journalists that transpired that day, today, Thursday, December 16, 2010, fifty years later, we remember the souls aboard the two doomed aircrafts, as well as the victims killed on the ground.

On the 50th anniversary of the air disaster that set a section of Brooklyn ablaze, the Green-Wood Historical Fund in Park Slope is dedicating a memorial to those who died on that cold December morning.  Back in August, while responding to an inquiry about a grave in a public lot, cemetery archivist Theresa LaBianca accidentally discovered the story of the 1960 tragedy.

From the Green-Wood Historical website:

On December 16, 1960, United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266 collided over Staten Island. The United flight then tried to make it to LaGuardia Airport for an emergency landing, but crashed in Park Slope. Ten brownstones near the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place were set on fire, as were a funeral home, a laundry, a delicatessen, and, strangely enough, the Pillar of Fire Church. Eighty-four people on that flight died, and six people on the ground also were killed. The TWA flight crashed in Staten Island and forty-four passengers and crew died there. The investigation of this disaster marked the first time that an airplane’s black box data recorder was used to provide details of what had happened.

In an era before DNA identifications were possible, three caskets of “Fragmentary Human Remains” were filled from the Park Slope crash site and were buried in a grave in lot 38325 that was purchased by United Airlines. No marker was placed on the grave.

Pillar of Fire Church after Crash.

An eerie side note: Twenty years ago I worked for a real estate advertising company in Harrison, NY. While having a discussion about family with my boss, I mentioned the 1960 air disaster and my connection to it.

My boss then told me that he had been a student at the time at a mid west college and was booked on the same doomed flight out of Chicago O’Hare airport. He missed the flight. Jim’s father caught an earlier flight to get home to his family for Christmas. I often wonder if Jim’s dad had taken the seat that my boss had never occupied.

To read more about the air disaster and the subsequent cover up by the FAA, read the book Sterling Place by Ray Garcia.  I haven’t read it yet. My husband did. He had heard about the book before its publication and had contacted the author, concerned with the tenor of the content. My husband was pleased with the author’s response.

Disclosure: The photo is not of the Pillar of Fire Church. I couldn’t find a picture via Zemanta.
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I Hail from Quirky

Photo from the Ridgefield Patch

Lately, the trees fall down and don’t get up. A graveyard of twigs and leaves still cover the ground from the October nor’easter that whacked our town on its way to the North Pole, which is lovely this time of year.

Polar bears slip and slide on icebergs in the frosty wilderness and take holiday on the south side of the Pole.

Three Polar bears approach the USS Honolulu, 2...

Three Polar bears approach the USS Honolulu, 280 miles from the North Pole. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They can see Russia from their lounge chairs and enjoy watching movies about humans succumbing to suburban pratfalls in the dark. In the suburban wilderness, lights don’t shine at night and lead folks to their doors. Instead, they trip into black holes and fall into morning.

200608 - Assateague - 209803191_57656e6c6b_o -...

200608 - Assateague - 209803191_57656e6c6b_o - black hole sun - what happened?!?!?! - (by Christian) (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))

At 5:30 a.m., the alarm clock rocks the room, as orange slits of light impales the eyes.

Thud, thud, thud is the sound in my head or is it on the access road – kids playing basketball or an idea knocking in my brain. An enormous fruitful idea that I need to squeeze out my ears unless they’re clogged. Then, the ideas flow from the pen I left on the nightstand. Words scrawled in the dark I hope I can read and don’t disappoint me.

After Jim stumbles out of bed into the bathroom for a session of shower shock therapy, the dog migrates to his side and settles on the folds of the comforter left warm from the respite of a night of sleep.

In the country, a surreal air of weightlessness breathes when I breathe. I follow it down the street where sightless sky converges with faux road, that winds uphill past speckled lights in the picture windowed homes.