It's hard to imagine now but, as a girl of 20, I was not fond of the man who had just become my brother-in-law. I was even a little afraid of him during the early years of my marriage to his brother. He was gruff, irreverent and cynical, with a wry sense of humor that often left me wondering whether he was deadly serious or only joking.
"Phobia" is defined as "an extreme or irrational fear of, or aversion to something." That's me with a hypodermic needle, and apparently I am not alone. A recent newspaper article suggests that a surprising number of us, when faced with a needle, break out in a cold sweat––or worse, lose consciousness.
We in California have a reputation for being swingers, due in part to Hollywood and movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor. In reply to a reporter's question about whether she respected the institution of marriage, she said she respected it so much that she had said "I do" to seven husbands. And to one of them, Richard Burton, she had said it twice.
Psychologists list it among the most traumatic things we do as human beings, and I can believe it. I also believe that it gets harder as we grow older. Whether you call it pulling up stakes, relocating, moving on, or as my teenaged daughter used to say, "being uprooted," it can be painful.
Omar Sharif, who died recently, was known for his roles in great movies like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago." Many people also knew that he was a world-class bridge player but I, for one, was surprised to learn that he had lost several fortunes over the years while gambling on the game.
The month of June is traditionally the time for weddings. Newspapers, magazines, and all forms of social media are teeming with photos of beaming grooms and blushing brides. Wait a minute. Do brides still blush? Somehow, I doubt it.
A woman who reportedly went to extraordinary lengths to protect herself, and still died in a freak accident, reminded me of another who did much the same thing, and still met death in an unexpected way. The two had little in common except how far they went in order to stay alive, which––as it turned out––was not in the cards.
They are the grim subject of several centuries-old paintings, in which a black horse (or "night mare") hovers near a sleeping figure. They have been the terrifying theme of movies, past and present––from "I Wake Up Screaming" (1941), to the latest "Nightmare on Elm Street" flick. So, what exactly is a nightmare?
We hear a lot about "impaired" and "distracted" drivers these days, and most of the warnings make good, common sense. Obviously, drinking and driving don't mix. The same goes for drugs, both illegal and some prescription. And texting, of course. But eating a hamburger?
There used to be nine planets, as every school kid knew. Back then, you could keep your red Mars and your ringed Saturn. I felt a special kinship with Pluto because it had been discovered on my birthday (February 18). Now, what's happened to Pluto shouldn't happen to a Dog Star.
To quote designer Pierre Hardy, "People love a high heel because it is not natural. It is a cultural object connected with seduction, power, and sexuality." Well, maybe. I do agree that it is not natural. If God had meant me to be six feet tall, he would have given me longer legs.
Does this ever happen to you? I can be driving north on the freeway thinking that I'm going south, unless I can see the sun setting over the Pacific, and even then I can get confused. (What's the ocean doing over there?) Some of us have no sense of direction, and it seems to be a female-dominated trait.
Our personal computers know -- and tell -- a lot about us. If you think they can keep a secret, just try Googling something as a test. A few days ago I typed "surveillance cameras" into my browser, just to see what they look like, and soon ads for security devices began appearing on my home page as well as other sites that I visit.
I live in "Earthquake Country," otherwise known as California. My newspaper arrived on my doorstep this morning bearing a spine-chilling front page headline: MASSIVE QUAKE COULD HIT ANYTIME. We've been hearing that for years, but something happened recently to alter my usual ho-hum response to such news.
My daughter was only in nursery school when Mattel toy makers launched a fashion doll named "Barbie," with an adult body and clothes for her tall, curvy figure. Five years later, my little girl wanted a Barbie because all her friends had them. I said no.
You may have heard that real men don't eat quiche, and real women don't pump gas. A new insurance survey says we don't change tires, either. Only half the women surveyed had ever changed a tire, compared to ninety percent of the men. Why? One suggestion is that we don't like to get our knees dirty.
"Some days you just can't make a nickel," my father would say in times of stress. And he never had to deal with computer glitches, airport security, gridlock in Washington, or GM recalls. Just two World Wars, the Great Depression and Prohibition. There's always something.
Is our intelligence due to nature or nurturing? Are we born with a certain amount that never changes, or can it grow over time? If you think you were not born smart enough to learn something new, you could be selling yourself short.
If you already knew what "mindfulness" was, you were way ahead of me. I just read about it recently. At first I wondered if "mindfulness" was the opposite of "mindlessness." But apparently there's more to it than that.
At first glance, it might look as if I am a hoarder, simply because I have run out of space in my filing cabinets, and things are piling up. I've tried cleaning house, but the last piece of paper I throw away is always the first one I need later on.