Monday, April 02, 2007

How to Take Care of Yourself

Darlings, please forgive Pretty Lady's neglecting you. She is recovering from a profligate weekend of Brunch and Literary Readings. She is happy to report, however, that this morning she rose at the crack of nine and repeated her Fabulous Feat of last week; not only did she make it all the way to the park, but trotted gently down the length of it for several blocks. Returning home, she treated herself to an invigorating shower and a French breakfast (instructions to follow) and meditated upon the fact that she used to start all of her days like this, before injury and general despondency intruded. The contented buzz produced by workout-shower-breakfast ought to be a Daily High for every person on the planet. A great deal would be solved that way.

So it is fitting that upon breaching her in-box, she discovered this letter.

Dear Pretty Lady,

As a male I was brought up to show no fear, pain, or weakness, no matter how bad things got. Now I find I'm approaching middle age and I'm simply no longer capable of doing some of the things I used to do. I'm weaker than I used to be, and sometimes in pain, and I can't fight through it the way I could when I was younger.

The trouble is, since I was brought up to believe that weakness of any kind is weakness of character, I can't quite find the line between when I should stop lest I hurt myself and when I want to stop because I just don't feel like pushing.

In other words, I need some way to tell self-indulgence from genuine need for rest. Can you help?

Lazy or Exhausted?

Ah, poor dear LOE. You are Not Alone. Pretty Lady is assuming that you are American; it is important to remember that, however degenerate our society has become, its moral roots are those of the Puritans. Your troubles are not unique to your gender. Since the seventeenth century, it has been the habit of our countrymen to equate Self-Abuse with Moral Virtue.

In men, this syndrome manifests as drinking twelve espressos and driving cross-country without stopping--or the programming, term-paper-writing, or particle-accelerator-building equivalent. In women, it manifests chiefly as anorexia, slapping one's own face while looking in the mirror, and uttering the salutary epithet 'stupid bitch' on a repeat loop in one's own mind.

As a backlash against this sort of thing, we are wont to become recklessly and destructively self-indulgent. At times we cleverly combine the two, as in bulimia, or working out while high. What is certain is that most of us have lost all true connection to the messages our bodies are sending us. We have literally no idea when we are hungry, tired, sick or miserable any longer, and we would not know what to do about it if we figured it out.

Pretty Lady is here to tell all of us to Cut That Out. Beating oneself up does not make one a Better Person; it just makes one a sick, tired, miserable, preoccupied bore. It also means that one's loved ones have to scrape up the carcass when one eventually collapses, which is never an agreeable task.

So. Where do we start? Let us at least get the obvious out of the way.

Sharp, stabbing pains: Never good. Stop what you are doing at once. If they persist, see a doctor.

Shortness of breath, acute chest pain: Get in shape or see an allergist. If you have done these things, or if you haven't and they come on suddenly, you are having a heart attack. Go to the emergency room.

Dull ache: Whether physical or emotional, this is an indicator of a general malaise which requires clearing. Go for a brisk walk, sit in a sauna, get a massage, write in your journal, or see a therapist.

Constant, passionate desire to lie down and take a nap, to the point where one is fantasizing about warm snoogly beds with huge down trappings and soundproof walls, and is physically unable to think about anything else for long: Sleep deprivation. Pretty Lady used to get this a lot, until she accepted the fact that her rock-bottom biological requirement is nine hours of sleep per night. If one's schedule does not permit this, nap in the break room at lunchtime, or on the studio chaise longue before setting-t0.

Attention span of less than fifteen seconds, for anything at all, even a new novel by one's favorite author: Lack of exercise, human companionship, or proper nutrition. Take the abovementioned brisk walk, call a friend, and cook a well-balanced meal.

Constant, seething rage: The Holy Spirit can help with that, if one listens committedly, putting prejudice aside, for a decade or two.

In general, when a person is in an advanced state of confusion about whether it hurts or not, and whether anything should be done about it, it is best to start with one consistent observation, and continue with this observation until it becomes a habit. For example: 'Am I hungry, or am I just angry, lonely and frustrated?'

Do not be impatient with yourself if it takes a decade before you are able to answer this question accurately on a regular basis.

If your answer is 'yes' to the question 'am I hungry?' now is the time for a French breakfast, or lunch, or dinner.

Take one from each food group:
High-quality caffeinated beverage (espresso, cappucino, Ceylon tea)

Fresh organic fruit

Fresh organic vegetable (or three)

Freshly-baked carbohydrate

Highly-concentrated naturally occuring fat (butter, olive oil, cream, cheese)

Highly-concentrated protein (egg, bacon, saucisson)

Pungent salty thing (olive paste, anchovies)

Self-indulgent sweet thing (dark chocolate, bitter orange marmalade)
Arrange all elements on breakfast table next to sunny window with lace curtain. Put small dabs on plate, attractively. Inhale appreciatively. Consume slowly and decorously, savoring various combinations.

You will find that if you perform this ritual rigorously and assiduously, you will actually find yourself gaining energy and losing weight. The cause of obesity is not the consumption of fats, proteins or carbohydrates; it is the compensatory overconsumption of plasticized imitation versions of the Real Thing. Once a person starts appreciating food, the food appreciates the person.

Pretty Lady could go on, and on, and on about the delicate art of Taking Care of Oneself, but she feels that this is sufficient to go on with, for the moment. The one other thing she has to say is that LOE--like hell are you 'approaching middle age.' Prime of life, how about it? Gracious.


mitzibel said...

Oh, to live life as you describe it, Pretty Lady. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that my quiet repast of organics wouldn't be quite the same with the monkey child shooting peas out her nose and spilling grape juice all over the lace curtains. . .

For now, I'm afraid we're sticking with molded plastic and venetian blinds; I do try to have a bowl of something pretty and bright on the table, though, and I've made the husband hide the processed cereals and eat them only when the kid isn't present. . .

Pretty Lady said...

Yes, dear Mitzibel, I am aware that Pretty Lady's lifestyle reflects the luxuries of single life rather acutely. However, keep in mind the axiom "This, too, shall pass," and in the meantime, give your darling baby as solid a nutritional growth base as possible. The importance of this cannot be underestimated.

Anonymous said...

Darlings, please forgive Pretty Lady's neglecting you. She is recovering from a profligate weekend of Brunch and Literary Readings. She is happy to report, however, that this morning she rose at the crack of nine and repeated her Fabulous Feat of last week-Pretty Lady

oh my.. I got up at 5 and was working by 6. That would be 7 and 8 your time. tsk-tsk... I hear the famous words my dad used to say, "Your wasting your life in bed!". He used to say that to my sisters, as I have always been a morning person. Even on weekends I get up at 5 am.. Even when I was a kid. Drove my Mom nuts. Even when I was a teenager. I don't feel right if I sleep past 6 am.

But I suppose that wasn't the point. now that I spoke out of turn.. You can chew me out, I need it desperatley. I am a worm.. I am scum. Beat me.. make me feel cheap.

Pretty Lady said...

Starbuck, what on earth is wrong with you? Your demonstrated masochism is increasing daily. But okay:

Beat me.. make me feel cheap.


belledame222 said...

a fine public service, this

k said...



and, Oh my that's WONDERFUL progress! - and please, avoid the temptation to overdo, although that might be a difficult undertaking indeed just now

and, Once again, jaw drops to floor, as you somehow - with perfect accuracy - pinged onto an as yet undescribed but incredible, a near unbelievable, experience with Wholly Non Real Food served up - with a straight face! - by a purported Institution of Healing of Semi-Incarcerated Persons that I had this last weekend.

Not necessarily in that order, of course.

And I'd trust very few others to untangle that syntax.

Anonymous said...

prettylady said...
Starbuck, what on earth is wrong with you? Your demonstrated masochism is increasing daily. But okay:

Beat me.. make me feel cheap.


Wrong with me? I was poking a little fun at women. Some women love to have the upper hand... Just as some men do. Well, if you can't punish me.. well, you can't control me. If you give it your best shot and it doesn't hurt. Where is your sting?

Pretty Lady said...

Syntax untangled, k. Do you mean the Horror Stories are not yet fully told? At least one may laugh about it, and send one's husband out for chocolate croissants when he gets home. ;-)

Chris Rywalt said...

SB sez:
Well, if you can't punish me..

Apparently there's someone left on Earth who hasn't heard the masochist joke.

Anonymous said...


Sir - you are rapidly losing your lead to JWYW. While JWYW has not yet mastered the Heideggerian philosophy that states we only pursue that which retreats from us, consider the following:

Our dear PL posts some time back about creepy-assed men who ask her unbidden to engage in professional-grade sex acts and her rather vitriolic distaste for them, and posts later about the qualities that she wants in a Real Man.

Let's compare. JWYW is courteous, flirtatious, and displays good manners in his statement about carrying objects for Ladies. In contrast, you are asking to be humiliated, asking PL to play the role of dominatrix. Given her clearly tasted preferences, which approach do you think has the greatest chance of success? The courteous gentleman making his intentions clear, or someone groveling and casting her in the undesired role of surrogate mommy with masochistic/incestuous sexual overtones?

My advice, Starbuck - engage the services of a professional to satisfy these louche cravings, and spare yourself the ignominy.

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez to Starbuck: are asking to be humiliated, asking PL to play the role of dominatrix.

Yeah, really, how dumb. We all know Pretty Lady is a sub, not a Dom.

k said...

Oh, yes indeed! On both counts. Although in our case, it's usually Cuban pastries. Cheese and guava especially.

And...he's coming HOME! TODAY!!

boing boing BOING boing boing!!!!!

Pretty Lady said...

Sir - you are rapidly losing your lead to JWYW

< frost > I beg your pardon?

Are you insinuating, SIR, that Pretty Lady's affections are to be had for the asking, by any glib-tongued fellow who duly recites what he thinks she wants to hear? Are you further insinuating, SIR, that Pretty Lady is in the habit of bestowing her nearest affections upon faceless strangers she meets on the Internet?

Are you, even THEN, SIR, insinuating that Pretty Lady is a trophy to be won by the glib and the faceless, instead of a fully complex and genuine individual whose actions and motivations are governed by things more inscrutable than mere Statistical Probability?


< /frost >

The dominatrix advice was spot on, however.

Anonymous said...

"Are you insinuating, SIR, that Pretty Lady's affections are to be had for the asking, by any glib-tongued fellow who duly recites what he thinks she wants to hear?

Mmmm. The "lead" that JWYW holds is completely in my mind, as far as Internet wooing is concerned. Since my comments were directly addressed to Starbuck, why would you presume that I know your feelings in regards to said gentlemen, unless - in fact - I am not as far from the truth as you insinuate. Sadly, dear Lady, your frostiness could be construed as a "doth protest too much".

"Are you, even THEN, SIR, insinuating that Pretty Lady is a trophy to be won..."

Certainly. Unless of course you have entirely misrepresented yourself in this forum and in true life possess none of the qualities and characteristics that you display here. As for glib and faceless gentleman callers, I cannot speak for their chances, only offer advice to them as they vaingloriously attempt to win your most determinedly unavailable heart in this textual forum.

Statistically speaking, I would offer the idea that meeting a like-minded individual in the cliquish familiarity of cyberspace is greater than that of meeting anything remotely resembling a Real Man by your definition in the Five Boroughs.

Starbuck and JWYW will have to salve their (as you clearly stated) glib and faceless hearts. Gentlemen, I would recommend Bushmill's or Booker's to assuage the attendant heartache, and to fortify your courage for future forays against these well-defended ramparts.


Chris Rywalt said...

Crom asserts:
I would recommend Bushmill's.

Ye gods, Bushmills is the most atrocious stuff I've ever drunk. I'd sooner have a shot of odorless mineral spirits before trying Bushmills again. At least steer him towards one of the cheaper single malts. Glenlivet, maybe. Or even Jack Daniels (which is the first stuff I've drunk which made me think, you know, I could be an alcoholic, if I tried a little harder).

Chris Rywalt said...

Booker's looks worth a try, though. Never had it before. Maybe if I ever get off the meds....

Pretty Lady said...

Try the Booker's, my dear Chris--ONCE. Try it in a bar; pay up front for a single shot. Then do not try it ever again.

Not only is it indecently expensive, but the proof is so high that when one lady put it in her fruitcake, having run out of Jim Beam, it blew the door off the oven.

If Pretty Lady could afford Booker's on a regular basis, her life and career would be toast. No hope whatsoever. She might as well flush her brushes down the toilet and construct herself a shed out of Booker's crates, in the empty lot on the corner of 16th and 3rd.

Anonymous said...

Your comments regarding Bushmill's are noted, and I understand those with a preference for the various Glens, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich etc. However, all of these have one common thing, they are all Scottish - whereas Bushmill's is made in Northern Ireland.

It might be possible for me to be forgiven by my family for having American-made whiskies in my Belfast-made liquor cabinet, but to place anything made in Scotland, or perish the thought - France, would be tantamount to blasphemy and I would probably be hooded, and kneecapped as a warning.

PL - I honestly considered sending you a bottle of Tito's vodka over the holidays, it's made here in Texas and is as good as any Russian vodka that I have tasted. I even got a few of the Russians here to agree that it was "decent" which if you know Russians, is a coup equivalent to the demolition of the Berlin Wall.

However, not knowing your opinion on strangers sending you packages, I decided that discretion would be the better course of action and did not send it. However, should our acquaintance last throughout the year, perhaps a bottle of Booker's will wind it's way to the Big Apple for a very merry Christmas, after all.

Chris Rywalt said...

My experience with Irish whiskey -- and don't take this personally -- is that between Jameson and Bushmills, the Irish have no idea what they're doing.

I feel certain there's a good Irish whiskey out there, though. I just don't know of it.

thimscool said...


Chris, a little advice...

If the Russian/Irish ex-bouncer offers to send you some top-grade Irish whiskey to prove you wrong, give him a friend's address!