The Line Of Cars Drove Down Real Slow

Sometimes you bumble through life – dum dee dum dee dee – doing your own thing and stumble on proof that thing you’re doing? You’re doing it at an advanced level. There’s no other explanation for this:

When you accept everything you’re told without question, you open the door to being manipulated. If you want to avoid being someone else’s puppet, follow these steps.

Think for yourself – like me!

Step 1:

Ask questions, particularly the question “why?”. Ask everyone (not just the so-called experts), and try to answer your own questions as well. When you get an answer, try to think of exceptions, and then ask yourself why those exceptions exist. Never be satisfied until you arrive at an answer that has very few exceptions.

Three-year-olds get to ask “Why?” all the time. Everyone else who asks a second time better duck.

Step 2:

Look for selfish motives. Some people will become very annoyed, and perhaps even offended, that you’re questioning something they accept without question. Whenever people want you to think a certain way, it’s because it benefits them in some way. But that benefit is not always obvious or direct. Many times, people want you to adopt their perspective because it makes them feel more comfortable and secure (safety in numbers). Sometimes, people’s beliefs make it easier for them to feel like a good person. These people don’t want those beliefs challenged because it’s as if you were challenging them personally – it seems to them that you are questioning their “good-person-hood”. Sometimes, people are trying to look out for your best interest, and truly want you to be in step with their beliefs without looking into their statements any further. And sometimes, people just want to be seen as authoritative and trusted, so they’re personally invested in whether or not you buy into the things they say. That’s why they take it personally if you don’t automatically buy in.

One of my sisters has internalized the lessons of Dr. Phil without mulling them over even a little. This means when I say, “Fuck that guy,” my sister’s eyes spin in her head like a cheap slot machine. She’d like to think this makes me a bad, bad person but her default thinking is Dr. Phil’s: anyone who doesn’t agree with him is dumber than a dumb bunny and lower than a tick on a snake’s belly. I can only stare when she says this with a Weehawken accent.

Step 3:

Stop being a people pleaser. People who don’t think for themselves are often scared of disagreeing with others, and scared of “rocking the boat”. A freethinker, on the other hand, bases their self worth on something other than what people think of them. These people may still experience rejection, discomfort, and anguish, but they will continue to think for themselves.

In cases where someone says he “just wants the best for you,” you may be accused of distrust, and it could make you feel guilty. But keep in mind that anyone who truly cares for you will be willing to explain their point of view and why they feel that way, and allow you to decide for yourself whether that is enough evidence for you.

In my book, that makes him a controlling dipshit, but don’t take my word for it. What do you think, desperate people pleaser?

Step 4:

Do the research. Look into the statements made by others. You’ll be amazed at how many times you’ll find lots of evidence to contradict the statements of others. Yet, these people spout this erroneous information as if it were the Gospels, never questioning the accuracy or truth of what they’re saying. Use Google or go to the library, and search for information to prove or disprove the statements made. Remember where you get the “evidence” from. Be aware that, just because you saw it in a book or on the internet, that alone does not make it the truth. Once you’ve found evidence, one way or the other, you can speak up about it. “Yes, you know after we talked last time, I was so interested that I looked that up. That’s amazing, isn’t it, hard to believe, but true!” Or conversely, you can say, “I know that sounds amazing, and I hate to burst the bubble because it’s fun to believe that could be true, but I looked it up, and it looks like it isn’t true. I feel bad to be the bearer of bad news, but I just don’t think that’s true. You can look at ____________ (wherever you found your disproving evidence) and see for yourself.” When you’re breaking the news that your friend is passing along a false tale, let them know in a humble and compassionate way – don’t just come in crowing and congratulating yourself for debunking a myth. You may look smart to others for a minute, but to your friend, you look like a jerk.

Miss Manners frowns on telling your friends they’re lying halfwits, but sometimes you can’t help yourself. Because sometimes they’re lying halfwits. How can you help yourself when you finally figure out that you’re sitting at the world’s largest encyclopedia and you can look up facts? Because you’re smart!

Step 5:

Live outside your comfort zone. Not only will some people be very perturbed by your refusal to take their statements at face value, but you will also learn to question your own assumptions, and that can make you feel lost and confused, like walking into a dark room. It takes courage to face uncertainty. Be Bold.

If you’re boring – be interesting! If you’re dull – be weird! But not too weird. Then you’d challenge my idea of you.

Step 6:

Beware paralysis by analysis. When you’re thinking for yourself, you’re taking full responsibility for your life and your actions, because you can’t say you were trusting someone else’s judgment. This can be very nerve-wracking, and lead to excessive self-doubt. Remember that thinking for yourself doesn’t mean being sure. It means making decisions based on your own analysis, rather than someone else’s. There will always be some degree of uncertainty, no matter what, that you must learn to accept and cope with.

Wax on = wax off!

Look, someone can teach you how to think like they do, but only you can teach you to think for yourself. And if you’re just learning, it’s about fucking time.

Yearn Admits You’re Outside

Etienne appeared – POOF! – in a cloud of dust, tossing off flaming emails – IN NJ UNTIL TOMORROW COME AND FUCKING SEE ME. I laughed the whole six blocks Pete and I drove to his aunt and uncle’s house, which was filled with cats and other people surprised to see me. Etienne squeezed the stuffing out of me and raced to the car, anxious to meet Pete, whom I’d described as “my shiny new husband.” Pete managed to drive the car to the diner we call simply The Diner, though in this part of New Jersey, diners dot the landscape, while jet-lagged Etienne described his flight back from London where he served as his grandmother’s sister’s man Friday. Lunch conversation limped and loped along until Pete and I decided we had to get home and get ready for work at the family store, and somewhere about then, I remarked that I couldn’t remember where Etienne’s grandparents’ house was. On our way back to Etienne’s, we decided to find it.

Tata: Pete, turn left here, go to the second stop sign and make a right.
Etienne: At the light, make a right.
Pete: Make a left here?
Etienne: At the light –
Tata: Make a left at the light and we’ll be in front of the grocery store and the family store.

Pete turned left. Etienne suddenly recognized where he was.

Etienne: Turn right.
Tata: Go up one block and turn left!

Pete made a straight.

Tata: Okay, turn left.

Pete made another straight.

Tata: Any time now, you can turn left and turn left a second time.
Pete: Was I actually supposed to turn or keep averaging out your directions?
Tata: TURN LEFT.

Pete turned left and left again.

Tata: Etienne, what was the name of the street?
Etienne: Garner.
Tata: There it is. What number?
Etienne: Number 16. It’s that one!

Etienne’s grandfather designed the house and built it in the Modernist 1950s, and the family moved in in 1958. It is a study of small windows and odd angles. The enormous and yet graceful carport sits at a 45 degree angle to the front of the house and the front door was a honey color I remembered from distant childhood. We sat in the car, staring at the house for a long time. Then Etienne said, “Guess I better tell them I’m here,” and bolted from the car. Pete and I sunk down in our seats and waited for the police to arrive, but Etienne, though buffeted by life in ways you and I wouldn’t wish on our enemies, is special. We saw the door open and Etienne disappeared inside. A minute passed, then Etienne waved to us to park the car and come inside.

Pete: No, no, we can’t go in there.
Tata: I’m going!

Pete beached the car in a snow bank. I stomped my feet clean of snow and Pete followed. We’d walked into a foyer with an observant Jewish family on the sabbath and they were smiling. I couldn’t believe they let us in – I mean, would you? The foyer had been renovated to add windows and change the shape of the ceiling. Etienne could see that right away, but I recognized nothing until we came to the living room, which I remember filled floor to ceiling with Etienne’s grandmother’s paintings and sculptures, and the back window wall that overlooked a creek and what in summer looks like a small forest. We turned toward the kitchen and both Etienne and I became confused. The renovation had removed part of a wall, but once we were in the kitchen we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the cabinetry and the odd, odd angles. In the renovation, another wall at the side of the house had been removed and an addition had been added that was so respectful of the original design that at first my eye passed over it. Through a doorway, I could see the rest of the family still sitting at the lunch table, so I made a few excuses to leave, but the family was genuinely happy to walk Etienne around and show him one last treasure: a painting on the wall of the stairs to the basement. Etienne’s grandmother’s art was still in the house. We were overjoyed.

I laughed all the way back to Etienne’s aunt and uncle’s house.

Like the Deadly Hands Of the Radium Clock

Tata: Is Lois there and is she good and surly?
Anya: Lois, are you good and surly?
Lois: Who is it?
Anya: Auntie Ta. Get over here!
Lois: Hello?
Tata: I have all the ingredients for tempeh dumplings laid out on the counter. Wanna come over and teach me how to make them, since you’ve made dumplings and I haven’t?
Lois: I can’t. I’m going out to play in the snow with my friends.
Tata: I don’t blame you. That sounds like more fun than calling Poison Control.
Lois: Sorry about that.
Tata: Talk to you later when you visit me in the hospital!

Since I was in my house and happy, I thought I’d try out something new. We had wonton wrappers because this day was going to come eventually, vegetables because I was betting on the snowstorm and tempeh because why the hell not? I cooked everything that needed cooking, drained everything and minced the whole mishegas. So I brushed each wrapper with water, filled it, pinched it closed and laid each little dumpling on parchment paper. It was a lot like working with phyllo dough in that the wrappers dried out quickly, but it was also very satisfying to fill up trays and freeze them. Vegetable dumplings are my favorite breakfast. I’m psyched!

When My Cup’s Already Overfilled

Resulting braciole.

Indeed, Central New Jersey is experiencing the kind of snowfall I have only seen a few times in my adult life, forcing me to face the hilarious contradiction of my current life. On one hand, I shoveled mountains of snow several times today to protect Pete from straining his back because I am strong and capable; on the other hand, there’s no way I’m leaving the house until sidewalk and road surfaces are clear because if I slip I could significantly damage my hip. As Valkyries go, I’ve corralled a cranky horse. Never mind! From the stationary bike tonight, I watched the fox hunt scene in Auntie Mame, bolstering my confidence that things end well for the woman with the magnificent seat. If I do say so myself.

Fly Through the Revolution

The logo says Feeding the World Two Cups At A Time. What’s the big idea?

Here at Soup Kitchen, Inc. we place purpose above profit, and our purpose is simple.

We are here to end world hunger.

Here’s how it works:
For every portion of Soup Kitchen Soups sold, we donate an equal portion to someone in need through local and regional food banks. Sales are tracked by area / zip code. We like the idea of people being able to help in their own community.

Holy crap! I LOVE these people! Wait, who are they?

Jamie Klein
Chef / Owner

After more than 25 years of kitchen experience, in every level of restaurant, catering, private chef, movie and television production, my most memorable meals are the ones I’ve given away.

Besides absorbing a love for food and feeding, I’ve enjoyed defining my career goals by the process of elimination. It has been a terrific run of feeding people in every way from delis, to the finest restaurants, to the grandest homes and some incredible Hollywood sets around the world (well, the western hemisphere anyway). Now it’s time to heed that inner voice that just wants to feed those who are simply hungry.

Omigod, little red hearts are popping up over my cartoon head! Soup Kitchen, Inc. is a website of few words, but they pack a punch: you buy soup and a soup kitchen or food pantry in our area gets an equal donation. So. You can order soup online, which sounds awkward – or! or! or! Or: ask a retailer in your area to carry this product and the donations go to the soup kitchen or food pantry. It’s really that simple. See? To stock canned soup, you don’t even have to be a food store!

It’s a brilliant idea. You gotta eat, right? Soup’s on!

Let’s Discuss This Man To Man

We’re expecting a snowstorm tomorrow, which means that my neighbors and co-workers are still slathered in minty BenGay from the last one. I can’t wait! By lunchtime tomorrow, every eye in my office will glance furtively at the tiny windows through which we in the basement observe weather and feet walking by. By mid-afternoon no one will compose a sentence that does not involve the word snow. By rush hour, the peaceable folk will beating each other senseless over bread and milk because grocery shopping before the Super Bowl was two more thoughts than any mind can hold – or so weather forecasters suggest. Don’t listen to them! You’re prepared and ready to roll out or stay in, whichever plan your brainy brain brain conjures up. Make tomorrow’s dinner tonight, dress in layers and watch out for your elderly neighbors. It’s all in your hands, cozy in fuzzy mittens.

This Monkey Wants A Word

The library at the unnamed university has always offered slightly odd folk a little leeway with social conventions. It seems likely that if I worked somewhere conformity was key I’d be tied up in a closet by now. Look, I’m just not like the other humans, I have a problem mitigated by heat and my workplace is chilly. It would be spiffy if I could heal up without sticking out like a sore thumb. Today, I bought a Sunbeam electric blanket to add to a pillow, several sporty fleeces and a soft throw. My cubicle is starting to resemble a nest.

Fortunately, most of my co-workers will consider this another antic. I turn up for meetings wrapped up from the nose down. We’ll see how an electrified crimson toga goes over.

A few weeks ago, it dawned on me that the Spanish language channels must carry cooking shows and what could be more natural than for me to watch people cook and understand everything? I found one finally this morning, but I was immediately confused. The host was describing a trip along the Amalfi Coast and I still have enough Italian that I grasped his story and what he was cooking. He kept calling it polpettone, though I could see clearly it was a braciola. In Italian, a polpettone is a giant stuffed meatball. This guy was working with a flank steak. I looked at the program description again, which was in Spanish. The commercials were in Spanish. Then I realized I had everything I wanted: a chef, a storyteller, Italian ingredients, Spanish I could understand. His cooking technique was sloppy. Pete sat down to watch and listen and said, “Oh. Guess I’ll make braciole.

Tonight, Auntie Mame made time on the stationary bike simply disappear. I’d forgotten how much I loved even the opening credits and how closely my grandmother Gladys resembled Rosalind Russell, which means I will. Watch, as the future arrives, shimmering softly and gliding down stairs.

If the Door Wasn’t Closed

Usually, original pictures on Poor Impulse Control are taken by Pete, though sometimes I take them. Those are often pictures I crop thumbs out of and adjust for dumb darkness. These pictures were taken by the intrepid Darla at Lake Erie, near her house. Dad’s third wife is Canadian, you know. You’d never guess but she looks just like a normal person. For example, if this were my neighbor’s house, I’d be using some exceedingly piquant verbiage. Darla called it a mishap. Crazy Canadians don’t know when to get excited. The house is about to fall into an inland ocean. Now might be the time to employ a modifier.

Haloscan’s magical transformation into another monthly bill proved curiously timed: I wasn’t writing well. Sorry about that. I often write blog posts while people are talking to me; when posts have nouns and verbs I feel like I got away with something. Anyway, I had to give some thought to whether or not blogging was my metier anymore and if I was going to put the time and effort into Poor Impulse Control to make it vibrant, quirky and full of interesting crazy. I thought about it long and hard. Finally, I decided if there was anything I was willing to add some elbow grease to it’s poor impulse control. My ennui can bite me. Haloscan’s gone. I’m still here, rededicated to thinking the funny thoughts.

In New Jersey, we call that a breezeway.

The thought occurs: what if rowing camp, on which I have focused what we laughingly refer to as my attention, requires that participants arrive with a clean bill of health in July? That would give me five months to exercise, stretch, get massage and plunk myself down in the bathtub. Shouting, “LOOK! SOMEONE FAMOUS!” and switching xrays isn’t going to cut it when the doctor for the U.S. Crew Team shares an office with my sports medicine doc, so I’m working a new plan. I’ve ordered new exercise videos and quit bothering to remove the ski pants in my office anymore, keeping the hip warm. We’ve changed our diets to reduce the amount meat on every plate relative to the amount of vegetable. In a few weeks, it’ll be warm enough for me to bicycle to work again. I am going to push as hard as I can; if I can go, I’ll go. If not, then not, but not for lack of trying. When I find myself limping, my best defense is to tighten up my abs and walk evenly. In related news: I walk like Charles Atlas in ski pants – only, you know, smaller, rounder and better-smelling.