Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Opera Therapy

It’s been a rough week.

· Monday, finances hit a bottleneck
· Tuesday, sick kid & a deadline to meet
· Wednesday, three-hour board meeting
· Thursday, fallout from the Wednesday board meeting
· All on top of a full work-week and personal projects that need constant tending

Friday morning arrives and defeat from a failed project and overwhelm about future projects weigh in on me. Doubt and regret brew in my early-morning coffee and I grumble to my kind-hearted husband who pointedly stands clear as I grab an eight inch knife to cut the breakfast Cantaloupe. Life would be so much better if I didn’t have to deal with other people’s mishegas! (Who hasn’t had that thought at least once?!)

I have got to get a grip so I opt for walking to work (not appreciating the fact that I actually have that option) I wonder and ruminate asking the universe why people act the way they do. The answer comes at once: Opera.

Humanity is a messy ball of wax. We cheat, we lie, we triumph, we lament, we love, we sulk, we fall and we get back up again. Opera embodies all this, it takes our feelings and literally gives them voice. As I schlep I plug in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. From the first terrifyingly thrilling chord I am pulled out of my mind-chatter and suddenly notice that I’m enjoying the walk. I listen to Leporello complain about his job;

Notte e giorno faticar
Rest I’ve none by night or day
Scanty fare and doubtful pay
Ev’ry whim I must fulfil
Take my place whoever will
I myself will go accounting
I the gentleman will play
But with him no more I’ll stay
No,no! But with him no more I’ll stay

Hey, at least my days are not filled with babysitting a sexual psychopath on his journey to destruction. Immediately I feel better about my own situation. The behavior of people that annoyed me an hour ago now seems almost cute. Donna Elvira makes a ferocious entrance seething about the recent ill treatment she has received:

Ah che mi deceemai
Where shall I find a token
To guide my steps to thee?
My heart is nearly broken
The world is dark to me
Ah! If he stood before me
Fiercely his vows I’d spurn
The love that once he bore me
Can never more return!

Donna, darling, we have GOT to talk!

The grip on my negative attitude is released and the self I know and love emerges as Mozart takes my hand and graciously accompanies me up Sixth Avenue.

Grazie Maestro, grazie.


Thanks to Mr Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at Blogspot for the libretto translations

The Medium of Money & The Women who Wield It

To study media is to study the world in which we live.

Four years ago I embarked on such a venture with The New School Media
Studies program
. Today I am working on my Master’s thesis, entitled The
Medium of Money and the Women Who Wield It.

As part of my thesis I am conducting a comparative study and am looking for
500 women to participate in a short survey.
The survey requirements are:

– woman
– age 40 and up
– who live and/or work in the Metropolitan New York area

Should you or someone you know like to fill this survey out, please click on
the link below. It will take approximately ten minutes to complete.

Survey Monkey


Thank you, your participation is greatly valued.

Warmest regards,


p.s. I KNOW there is a spelling error in my blog heading…

For several months now I have been aware that I have a spelling error in my heading – I got so overzealous when I was creating my blog description that I failed to spell check that particular item before I launched head long into posting it.

Now that I’ve chosen a blog design that prominently features my atrocious spelling error, the truth is out. I’m a lousy speller – always have been, always will be – just ask my mom. Thank you, God, for inspiring somebody to create spell check!

The reason my error remains atop this page, basting all my writing in a constant bath of flawed humanity, is that I cannot figure out how to get back to that initial description to edit it; it’s a technical thing. But now that the truth is out I may just keep that little “u” there as a token reminder if ever my head starts to swell with too much pride. And if you can’t figure out what word I’ve spelled wrong then perhaps you can fess up to being a lousy speller too. We’ll start the Lousy Speller’s Club and sit around eating alphabet soup, cracking jokes about smart people.

Just so you know, I had five spelling corrections to make in this itty, bitty little blog entry before I posted. Ahhhh, the truth can hurt but it can also set you free.


On Furniture and Children

I arrived as a full-fledged grown up the day I bought my first sectional sofa. Being married four years, crossing the threshold into my 30’s and accomplishing a host of interesting things in the big city was child’s play, it was the sofa that truly ushered me into adulthood…well that and a baby but let’s not get ahead of things here.

Our new sofa was awesome. It had three sections that curved around in a comforting, intimate way. The left section was open ended to give a promise of breathing room while the rest of the divan inhabited our freshly renovated living room in a warm, reassuring embrace. I loved the concept of owning it as much, if not more, than the thing itself. I was eight months pregnant with my first child when we went sofa shopping. That was a story in itself involving a rented car, a long, confusing trip to Long Island, and an architect who designed better than he drove.

The baby arrived and two days later so did the sofa; it was all down hill from there! As this was a show room floor special (hey, we were cutting corners where we could) it arrived with a few minor problems. Two of the sections wouldn’t connect due to a faulty mechanism and I couldn’t help but notice little strands of upholstery sticking out of place in a sophistic version of “naaa, naaa, boo boo!” A couple snips with the kitchen scissors and the offending textiles were gone. Plus why should I care if the couch was a bit – how shall I put this – eased in? I had a baby to think about!

Family BedMy mother dubbed our sofa the family bed and we all lounged together in a loving stupor, drunk on life and baby bliss. Never was my existence more sweet and carefree. Never would the couch look as good as it did then.

Family Bed 2


The baby became a toddler and the toddler had his first birthday party with seven of his closest baby buddies. The couch was inextricably altered from the primary attack; a giant pee stain from a soggy diaper. Some one forgot to change their charge before playing “bouncy bouncy” on the “couchy couchy.” But why should I care? It was just a couch. There were bigger things to get upset over. The Edward Morrow Jr. building had just been blown up, babies had been murdered! I told myself to get over it, to clean up and move on.

Primary Assault


Allow me to backtrack for a moment. Long before we had babies we had felines and their part is couched in this not-so-tall of tales.

Once I made it clear that the baby was strictly off limits, the cats shifted their focus on bigger things. The old scratching post had its day and the quadrupeds were on to new material. Despite the use of sprays and a constant trimming of nails (we do not abide by de-clawing practices,) the couch was a target. The cats would stalk it at night while weslept and stalk it in the afternoon while I nursed. If you were among the millions who watched Planet Earth Feline Superiority 2on the Discovery Channel you may remember the scenario when the pride of lions brought down an elephant in the African bush. Well, it’s something like that. Our couch is really nothing more than a giant, dead elephant to our cats; a shrine to their feline superiority.Feline Superiority

Back to children, who’s loving use have left the most significant of marks upon all our furniture. The baby grew to a kid and he and his friends would gleefully jump, roll, and tumble on top of, over and around every inch of the upholstery. Their favorite game was to push the sections apart and make little hide-a-ways between the pieces. Pillow fights, sleep-over’s and birthday parties came wave upon wave and the couch withstood it all. Standing stalwartly and with pride, it endured our adoring assaults. One day the kid became a brother and the new kid quickly learned the ropes; breathe, suck, roll over, sit, stand, walk, run, drink from a cup and wipe your mouth on the couch. No one taught him this, of course; Aaron figured it out all by himself! Despite my rants and raves our codesign-033.jpguch soon added “giant snot rag” to its dossier. Oh the indignity.

We truly love our couch. It is our symbol of family heart, our huddle, our refuge, our hang out. And yet my thrill at having it as part of my home has slowly turned to loathing which I regularly take out on my family. As the rips began to appear in the upholstery and the seats started to sag I headed down the hellish road of CouchGate. Blankets, sheets, towels, extra pillows, whatever I can get my hands on to cover up the stains and rips and sags, I try it. My dear husband, Scott, even endured my co-opting a backdrop – he’s a photographer – one night in a desperate attempt to drape our sofa before company arrived. The backdrop worked well so I never gave it back. On many an occasion I can be heard lecturing my family on the virtues of furniture etiquette as I fix the covers on the couch for the hundredth time that week.

One day I got so frustrated that I upended a section and cut away the protective bottom covering the inner structure of the seat. My goal was to poke around and try to improve the exterior look of my furniture by pushing and pulling the padding into place. This was the ultimate mistake (aside from buying the dam thing in the first place) for now I regularly dig into the under side of my couch to push the damn thing back into place while trying to reinforce it with whatever I have on hand; a practice not too dissimilar to a rectal examination. I have considered stuffing one of our cats up in there to help fill out the sorry sag that traps your butt when you sit down but I know that would be just plain wrong and inefficient to boot. (I imagine you are shifting uncomfortably in your chair right about now.)

You may be asking yourself, dear reader; “why doesn’t she just go out and buy a new couch?” Well, that’s not a simple answer. A major part of it is economic. Every time we discuss buying a new couch something comes up; a video production summer camp for our burgeoning film-maker son ($,) a new Treo to keep me mobile ($$,) a faulty washing machine that requires replacing yet again ($$$!) Another part of it is practical. With a five-year-old in the house why would I tempt infanticide and plunge several thousand dollars into a new sofa just to watch it get trashed all over again? I’d rather enjoy my children than blame them for my ruined life…I mean couch.Aaron and Basket and Couch

The real truth is something I am coming to terms with. That couch is me. I can see my therapist of many years past nodding her head (right now she’s probably laughing.)

Today is my birthday. I am well beyond the time when May 25th is an eagerly anticipated day, neither is it to be avoided because it can’t. It just is.

Like my couch I have been peed on, jumped on, slept on, covered with crazy fabrics and – yes – stalked by Thumper, the cat.

I slouch a bit in certain places, in other ways I’m torn, and my internal plumbing needs more attention than it did twelve years ago.

I hold family and friends with a similar grace, warmth, dignity and love that my couch holds me. Like my couch, I hold people close when I can and I try to give them enough room to breathe when it’s called for.

I get pushed around and rearranged – like my couch.

I’m always there – like my couch.

Like my couch, at times, I hate myself (but not nearly as much as I used to) and at other times I am appalled by my inevitable aging process (but not nearly as much as advertising tells me I should be.)

I know I am finite – just like my couch.

The day will come when Scott and I buy a new sofa and we’ll bid a fond fair-thee-well to the one we have now. But when it goes…when it goes it will take with it the echos of our laughter, the evidence of hours of power lounging, the memories of tears we have shed and anger we have expressed at an unjust world. It will take with it our rich moments of personal glory, our silly moments of youthful exuberance. A part of us is woven into that couch and we have lived a little better just because it’s there.

I love my couch as I love myself.M Mott Newirth in Repose with Couch