This is the First Day of the Rest of My Blog


There was a very popular saying in the early 1970’s, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I had a poster of this adage hanging in my bedroom. It was a black and white fuzzy photograph of a person walking down a beach. The text was swoopy script down one side. I loved that poster and at the age of 11 or 12, I was deeply moved by the saying. No one seems to know who first coined the phrase. Various searches on the internet seem to point to it being the result of the 1960’s drug culture in California, which sounds about right. It is also thought to have evolved into being a quasi religious, spiritualist saying.  At the time, being a 12 year old, I just thought it was BEAUTIFUL and MEANINGFUL and that sensibly, it was basically true. The saying has aged in the same way Burt Bacharach songs have aged, pleasant but syrupy.

I started my blog back in the early 21st century enthusiastically. It was a great way to write things that felt silly to write in a journal. I loved it. No one really read my blog except relatives and some very nice people who found it somehow. I did not care. It was out there for someone to stumble upon. I myself have stumbled upon delightful blogs with apparently few readers. It seemed to be a worthwhile endeavor. I loved spending a Saturday morning putting a post together. I was just a part time blogger.


As it happens, I was also an early Facebook joiner and loved it as well. Gradually, as Facebook became more and more popular and started behaving like a public utility in my life: turn on the lights, run the water, check Facebook, my poor old blog just drifted away. I no longer spent time on Saturday mornings thinking thoughts about a book I had finished or a movie or TV show we had watched or a trip I had taken and sharing it with the universe. I was busy throwing off what I hoped were clever one liners or pictures or what passes for my achievements on Facebook throughout any given day.

Without going into what I have personally decided are the reasons or psychology behind the Facebook addiction, I made myself stop. It was a bit like going on a diet. I would do really well for a week and then falter and fall back into the habit. I found leaving Facebook was really hard. With much effort, I have gone almost a year without looking. I have deactivated and will soon delete my account. I’m almost a year clean. The final push for me was when a friend died and their page became this maudlin place for people to EASILY give condolences. I stress the word EASILY. Facebook has made birthdays too easy, holidays too easy.  It’s nothing to say Happy Birthday on Facebook. It requires little effort since Facebook has sent you a reminder.

Returning to the friend who died, I noticed something odd. I saw many people condoling who had never, ever commented on this deceased friend’s posts when they were alive. I was a frequent commenter and supporter of the posts this friend made. They had a delightful sense of humor. But the page was now filled with “friends” who I had never seen hanging about. And while it was nice these people seemed moved to add their sympathy, it horrified me. I imagined dying and all the people who I was “friends” with -who never said boo to me year in and year out – suddenly showing up to say what a great gal I was. So I quit. That day.

One day, a while after quitting Facebook, I received an email notice saying I had received a comment on this blog. After I got over the shock of someone actually finding this old thing, it made me take a look at Paraphernalia. As I re-read some of the things I had blogged about and realized I had forgotten I had ever written, I was filled with an urge to reclaim my blogging self. It brought back to me the fact that I had had once mused about all sorts of paraphernalia (hence the name of this blog) and so I decided I needed to try again. I am a bit rusty, but maybe with practice, kind of like doing scales on a piano, I will regain my blogger footing.

This is the first day of the rest of my blog.

Have You Read “Trimalchio in West Egg?”


One of the most challenging things a writer does is choose a title for a piece.  It is a real gift to come up with something that fits the piece and grabs the reader. It is the ultimate first impression. This article reveals the working titles of some of our most iconic novels. 

“What’s in a name?” asks Juliet. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Yet, in this 60th anniversary year of Nineteen Eighty-Four (a brilliant title), you can only wonder about the fate of Orwell’s masterpiece if it had been published under its working title of “The Last Man in Europe”. And what about Portnoy’s Complaint (“A Jewish Patient Begins his Analysis”) or The Waste Land (“He do the Police in Different Voices”) or Gone With the Wind (“Baa! Baa! Black Sheep”)?

Would you have read Trimalchio in West Egg? How about The High Bouncing Lover? No? Then you would have missed reading The Great Gatsby. As far as I am concerned,  The Last Man in Europe is the best of the bunch…

Pandora – Put a Lid On It…


Pandora's Box - Arthur Rackham
Pandora's Box - Arthur Rackham

We watched “Tropic Thunder” last night. We watched it to the end with our jaws hanging down to our navels. This was a conscious decision, because we wanted to make sure we knew with certainty how far we have come as a society from any limits of good taste. My advice: do not watch this movie. Just as Knocked Uprocked me as an example of the decline on our collective morality, this movie confirms my belief that Hollywood should be ashamed of itself. While the great movie moguls of the early 20th century decided to produce pro-America films which helped create our sense of national pride during WWII, Hollywood is now devoted to ripping down any shred of dignity or right and wrong the old boys created.


While “Knocked Up” made a joke out of casual sex and out of wedlock birth, this film denigrates human dignity further under the guise of making fun of Hollywood. I suppose that makes it ‘okay’. Certainly, this notion of the open mindedness of Hollywood; letting a filmmaker create ‘satire’ which denigrates the very industry he ‘works’ in, seems to be the very epitome of open minded liberality. But that just magnifies the problem. When will too much be too much, no matter how tongue in cheek?

Consider me a former fan of Ben Stiller. I will never watch “Meet the Parents” again on HBO or DVD in protest. The Robert Altman movie, The Player”, did a much more subtle job of showing what all of us on the outside with our noses pressed to glass already suspect: Hollywood is a big hunk of rotting meat stinking up our sense of self worth and dignity. They have turned everything topsy turvy.

But Tropic Thunder is a bridge too far, to use a war metaphor for this movie about a war movie. Gratuitous violence and gore is something to be not only tolerated, but embraced, hee hee. With “Knocked Up” it was casual, hook up sex and okie dokie, cutesie wootsie, out of wedlock birth that was in your face, ‘I dare you to even as much as blink your disdain’. As a result, single women having eights babies paid for with disability payments with no means of visible support is taken matter of factly.Quick! Get Ann Curry in there to interview the Angelina Jolie look alike! In “Knocked Up,” pornography is a right. Heck, the future deputy Attorney general of the US defended pornographers. No biggy.

I write this as one baying at the moon. The train has left the station, the genie is out of the bottle just to mention a few cliches. Pandora’s box is well and truly open…

Creating ourselves – or do we?


Rose Buds
Rose Buds


     In March of this year, researchers completed a study which concluded a certain degree of our ability to experience varying levels of happiness is indeed genetic. Likewise, there are studies which reveal the genetic markers controlling the degree to which humans will experience shyness as well as other behaviors such as hostility.  The secular, scientific age we live in gives us partial answers to age old questions. Yet, in spite of these conclusions, science is not able to categorically conclude all behavior or personality is something we are born with or derived solely from biology. It appears that at least fifty percent is left to chance and it is within that fifty percent we are either shaped by our own ability to decide or we are shaped by circumstance and other variables such as the influences of family, peers or society. 

     Self knowledge can be identified early in life. Certain symbols can become life long certainties. Like a ballerina spotting an object while she twirls, there can be focal points which remain with us always. These are decisions we formed on our own and are hard to dislodge. For a long time, I have privately referred to it as the Rosebud Theory and I base it on my own love of pink rosebuds. I can personally remember as far back as two years of age, wanting and needing to see, wear, have pink rosebuds.  It was visceral. I wanted my dresses to be adorned with them, I was drawn to baby dolls with “rosebud” mouths. Illustrations in picture books decorated with rosebud borders became my favorites. No matter what I have done or experienced in life, the one constant has been rosebuds.  Metaphorical rosebuds for sure, represented by the kind of books I like to read, the movies I like to watch, the hobbies I have. All are akin to the romantic beauty of a rosebud. This is the self I create and hold sacred; and while it may not necessarily be a ’rosebud’ for other people, I believe there is something similarly representative in everyone’s deeply embedded core. Something, which, like a rosebud, remains constant to define them, on their terms and will unfurl to become a complex person based on the bud that defines our innate preferences.

      When a boat is tethered by a single line to a dock, it may drift in a myriad of directions. Depending on the conditions of the wind it may drift close to the edge of the dock, safely bumping against the moorings, sheltered somewhat from the wider lake. Or, the wind may kick up and pull the boat out far from the dock, the line taut and strained to a breaking point, far from the original source of safety.  Humans are like this. We can be influenced by forces, be they powerful personalities or intervening circumstances, to drift a long way from our original mooring.  It may be hard to remain tethered to ideas we form on our own. We may indeed find the influence of ideas we encounter or people we meet overpowering and may even abandon convictions, change our behavior based on the tug of society’s powerful currents.  These changes may occur through personal choice or in subtle forms of coercion

    It is human nature to believe you are in charge of your opinions or actions. And while, as I briefly alluded to, science can explain some of our behavior as being genetic it also  makes sense this genetic basis is malleable.  In the happiness study I referred to, the researchers were able to conclude a person’s ability to increase their degree of happiness was dependent on circumstance. So while our “happiness set point” might be  one we are born with, the effects of circumstance can increase or decrease our propensity to experience true happiness. Likewise, it is logical to assume other kinds of circumstance can alter who we are or think we are.

     During the run up to the recent election, I found it intriguing to read the brief, yet explosive posts written on the social networking sight ‘Twitter’.  One in particular caught my eye. The person posting posited the question “Is it possible to be married to someone who votes opposite you?” The responses that poured in were overwhelmingly “NO!” This reaction made me wonder how many of those relationships were genuinely comprised of two individuals who came to a relationship with completely sympathetic views.  I pondered the possibility of one personality overcoming another to accomplish such a completely synchronized view.  In this way, it is easy to see the extent to which others can create us. If the tables were turned, perhaps if the individual was married to another kind of voter, their preference would or could be altered.  Like the boat tethered to the dock, the wind whips you in one direction or another and the circumstances of the situation, the inter-personal relationships, alters what may lie at your core. 

     However, you may never relinquish your most deeply held love of rosebuds…