Category Archives: Relationships

Katie deserves Oscar nom for five-year run as Mrs Tom Cruise

English: Cropped image of Tom Cruise and Katie...

I feel a little bad for Tom Cruise getting served with divorce papers only a few days before turning 50.  Especially, since, according to tabloid headlines, he was completely blindsided by it.  Only days earlier he and Katie were holding hands walking around the streets of Iceland.

Apparently the reality of being married to Tom did not live up to Katie’s teen-age fantasy of marrying one of the most famous movie stars of our generation.    But the breakup may have less to do with Tom as husband and father than of his adherence to the practice of Scientology.   We don’t know that, but let’s look at the facts, such as they are.  Which is to say we have no idea what we are talking about.  The facts as we know them are pure speculation based on what we read in the tabloids.

We do know for a fact that Katie managed to stay in for 5 years.  I have to wonder how long she had been thinking about calling it quits?  Her father had time to hatch and carry out a plan that involved firing all the help who might have made her exit “problematic” (the Scientology police?) and replace them with people loyal to Katie.  That had to take a few months to put together!  And whose idea was it?   Did it start with her, or did her parents pull a sort of intervention to get her to admit she wanted out?

One tabloid headline suggested Katie was not the happy-go-lucky young woman her parents knew she had been 5 years earlier and they apparently blamed marriage to Tom for her emotional decline.  That her exit from the marriage required the staff to be replaced seems like a move out of the textbook on how to de-program people caught up in religious cults.   Not that I am suggesting Scientology is a cult.  I am not suggesting this, but certain entire countries in Europe have, more or less officially, suggested it.  Such as France.  Not that we are naming names.

The Cruises rented a home in Pittsburgh this past year while Tom was filming Ghost Protocol, and were photographed in various locations enjoying some good times as a family.  Tom took Suri ice skating.  The whole family went shopping for fresh produce at a local farm market.  The three of them are some of the most genetically lucky people I know in the good looks department.  The perfect family.   So full of hope.

But the question lingering in my mind is, when did Katie know she had to get out?  Five years isn’t that long.  She needed at least a year to pull off the legal stuff with her dad, get a place to live, change her cell number, and schedule the moving van.  So that’s year four.  She would have to admit to herself it was over way before that — but even once she got that gut feeling she probably didn’t say the words out loud until around year 3.

My guess is she knew it was over before she got pregnant with Suri (mid-way through year one) and once she had her daughter it just got complicated.

A Google search of the number of years women stay in a marriage after they have decided to divorce was no help at all — even Google Scholar didn’t have an answer to that question.  If anyone knows the SEO terms for this concept, I’d be obliged if you’d send me the keywords or the links to the articles!

What I did learn from my search was that 90 percent of women who think about divorce never go through with getting one.  And if you have been married at least 10 years, you are nearly 70 percent more likely to stay married to that person.   If you want the link to those stats, you can Google it.

Huffington Post has an entire department devoted to the topic of divorce.  Check out the comments there to this question posed to readers.  Complete this sentence: “The moment I knew (my marriage was over) … ”  If you needed any more evidence of man’s inhumanity to man — and I am speaking, of course, in the inclusive voice here — you will find it in those responses!   As one might expect, infidelity was a frequent cause but in other stories there were actually weapons involved!  The saddest cases were those involving people who were seriously ill and their spouses reacted with callous indifference.

My point is, even the fairy-tale marriage isn’t guaranteed to succeed.  Remember these famous marriages that everyone said would last forever?  John and Elizabeth Edwards.  Al and Tipper Gore.   Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley…

Lest you think I have forgotten that most tragic and fractured fairy-tale couple of our time  — Prince Charles and Lady Diana — I say, well duh.  But should we not look beyond our love and devotion to Diana and consider that the fairy-tale-come-true was really Camilla’s eventual marriage to Charles?  No. We should not.  Even if it probably is.

At long last, we come to the moral of the story, which is that neither wealth, good looks, great teeth, being able to fit into a size 3 dress, diamond tiaras, fame, or a particular faith — whether orthodox or un — guarantees a successful run at marriage.

My parents recently celebrated seventy years of marriage.  Seven-O.  They are 90 and 93 years old.  I never heard them say an angry word to one another.  My dad always gave my mom a peck on the lips and a hug when he came home from work.  Then he sat down in his arm-chair until supper with the newspaper, after which he returned to his chair and read the paper and watched TV until bedtime.  He changed the oil in his cars, kept them polished, mowed the lawn, and paid the bills.  Mom fixed the meals and kept the house, only working outside the home a few years when things were tight.   They would be lost without each other.   When asked how they lasted this long they just shrug.  Something about mutual respect and never considering the alternative.

So if you have been in a successful relationship for longer than 10 years, hang in there.  It’s nothing to sneeze at.  Don’t screw it up.  You are our role models.

And we need more role models.  Like Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Seriously.  If a relationship so publicly violated as that between Hillary and Bill Clinton can survive, there is hope for us all.


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Warning: Cleaning out your old room leads to mood swings

My sister and I recently went through my old room in our parents’ home to get a head start on the inevitable.    It made my mom upset because she thought we were throwing away things that were important to her.  We were re-arranging her life and now she wouldn’t know where to find things.

Our parents – now in their early nineties – want to stay in their own home forever.  I don’t blame them.  It’s been paid for since 1988.  A small ranch in a suburb on a corner lot with a beautifully landscaped property, now a bit neglected, lined in the back by prolific blueberry shrubs.  The small garden plot there grew lush with my farmer dad’s careful tending to his interesting varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, and potatoes.  Deer hop over the fence for snacks. Numerous species of birds come to dine at the old picnic table that she faithfully refreshes with their favorite seed.  Who would want to trade that in for a tiny apartment or a hospital bed? Soon there will be no choice.

We sat on the edge of the bed, opening one dresser or desk drawer at a time, to see what could be tossed and what to keep.  Most of the time we clucked to each other over why in the world anyone would save so many greeting cards!  Most of them had nothing but a signature at the bottom, no personal sentiment whatsoever.  Nothing special about the illustrations either. 

The rare card with a hand-written note we saved, just because it might spark a memory for mom when most other pieces of her past were lost to her. Anything with my dad’s signature was a keeper – he is a man of few words, the textbook definition of “stoic” and not given to demonstrations of emotion.  But he always greeted her with a kiss and a hug when he got home from work and never said an angry or hurtful word to her in our presence in their 69 years and counting of marriage.  So a valentine from dad with just his name on it – that’s worth keeping.  

A few cards signed “Mom B” we also kept.  Granny lived in our home the last seven years of her life following a stroke and gradually passed into a world of her own.  She was not kind to her fourth child of five during the last few years. She called her “that woman.”  She favored my dad.  That must have hurt my mom terribly but she didn’t let it stop her from being her caregiver.  They say toward the end Granny would talk about how her daddy was going to come pick her up any day now.  And eventually, He did.

The volume of cards now reduced to a minimum, we moved into the realm of piles of old photos, baggies of safety pins, boxes of buttons, bits of ribbon and envelopes full of interesting looking cancelled stamps torn from envelopes.  The usual stuff.

If the cards and photos made us a bit sentimental, the melancholy mood was broken with our most unusual discovery of the day.  I took out a box from one of the drawers and as soon as I opened the lid I burst into laughter.  I looked up to heaven as if to say, WHAT in the WORLD?  Taking the item in my hand I held it up so my sister, who looked very puzzled, could see what all the fuss was about.  We nearly fell off the bed laughing. What I discovered there was the most ridiculous item I could imagine anyone ever saving.  For, nestled in a cardboard jewelry box on a cotton pillow, was my plastic dental retainer from when I was TWELVE.   Finding this ancient artifact of my lost youth struck me as so hilarious that I even called my mom in to let her join in the joke.  We all three had a good time wondering how – not to mention WHY — it had managed to be saved all those years.  

To save or toss?  That is the question. 

There’s only one answer that makes sense to me.  Some day my kids will have to sift through my things (poor souls – but its the only way I have to get back at them for all the years I picked up their stuff!), and they will get a good laugh out of their old mom’s surprises I plan to hide around the house. Maybe I’ll create an elaborate treasure hunt for them that leads them to believe a major item of worth is waiting if they solve the riddle!  They’ll think it was senility or at the very least an evil plot to drive them crazy.  But the motive will have been simply to give them a little laughter while they cope with the sad business of saying goodbye.

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Filed under Family, getting old, Humor, Kids, Nostalgia, parenting, Relationships, Society

Tipper and Al Gore separation strikes a blow to soul mate concept

From all accounts from folks who knew them well, Tipper and Al Gore were as close to soul mates as it gets. High school sweet hearts. He was still lifting her off her feet and showing it to the world with his lingering kiss at the democratic convention. The traumas they endured over their son’s near death, the political life, the near miss at the presidency – a lot of stuff to weather. But his passion for saving the planet seems to have overtaken his passion for his wife. We don’t know what happened, but thats the speculation. They grew apart. Sad. Forty years. Not wasted, really. But still. Sad.

Why? I’m thinking, ok, if it’s just that – drifting apart, it’s a common thing. Not like a Tiger Woods thing. Just growing into different people. But how long does it take during a forty year marriage before you start to think, “Is this all there is?” and then start the emotional distancing that leads to a separation? How long do you let that ferment in your psyche until you have to finally say it outloud? Especially if you’re in the public eye and you are considered the model of a perfect couple.

Is there such a thing as a soul mate? Many used to point to Paul and Joanne Newman as the perfect pair because Hollywood marriages are not prone to that kind of longevity. If you’re really a geezer you know that George Burns, who was married to his comedic partner Gracie Allen for thirty years, mourned her passing at the young age of 58 so much that he visited her grave daily. He was down to once a month after a while and kept that routine up most of the rest of his life. He just had to tell her about what was going on in his life. He lived another 32 years without her – to the age of 100 – still visiting her.

I think that some people do find soul mates. Not most of us.   But despite a whole bunch of proof that the overwhelming majority of couples do not find anything close to a soul mate, we still try to believe if we just search long enough, or sign up for E-Harmony, there is some person out there who will make all of our dreams come true forever and ever.  We want the fairy tale and darned if we aren’t going to try and make one come true.

Mark Gungor, YouTube phenom for his hilariously animated and spot on “Men’s Brain’s vs. Women’s Brains” videos, says there is no such thing as a soul mate. Here is the cold shower of logic that Mark Gungor has to offer on the subject. See what you think:

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“The Road” as tool for evangelism?

“The Road” is not a religious film, let alone a Christian one. But the deep questions raised and the spiritual themes embedded present “a unique entry point for those in the faith community to share the hope of the Gospel in a hopeless world,” said A. Larry Ross, president of A. Larry Ross Communications, the Christian media company that was asked to take the film to the faith-based community.

In an article posted on Christian Today Australia, the above quote sets the stage for a discussion of how the film can be used to draw “the not-yet-believer” to faith in Christ.

“What’s in every single scene of that film is coping with the disappearance [of] humanity,” Screenwriter Joe Penhall said. Religiousness, spirituality, music, and love all constitute humanity and the film depicts the horror of its gradual disappearance.

“How do we continue to generate humanity when humanity as a concept is fading into history?” he posed.

The central characters, father and son, are said in the novel to be “carrying the fire.”  Author Cormac McCarthy leaves it to the reader to define what that means.  Reviewers commonly interpret it to mean they are on a mission to preserve what is left of hope and human decency. 

The Road has been compared to The Lord of the Rings in this regard, and not simply because the two films share a lead actor.   Something is compelling the central characters to keep going, despite all odds or lack of evidence of hope, and complete the journey.   In both stories, mankind/humanity faces annihilation if the “good guys” lose.

Good vs. evil is one of the recurring conversations between father and son.  They repeatedly affirm to each other “we’re the good guys.”  As encounters with other survivors become increasingly violent, the boy asks the father “are we still the good guys?”  The implication is, the fire may be fading, hope may be lost, there may be no way to survive but to become “one of them.”

How anyone manages to remain hopeful in such a world is a question that must be asked.   What is there to hope for?  What if there isn’t anything better down the road?   How can a loving God let this happen? 

These are questions that Christianity begs to answer in the real world today.   Christians would do well to read the book and see the film, then join in the conversation.

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Bristol Palin’s pregnancy took Sarah by surprise

Sarah Palin reveals to Barbara Walters in an upcoming TV interview that she didn’t know her daughter Bristol was having sex with her boyfriend until she learned about the pregnancy. The headline on the Comcast re-post of the AP article calls this a “bombshell” in promoting Walters’ upcoming interview for ABC.   For most parents with teenagers – boys or girls – this news would generally be a bombshell.  But not knowing your daughter is sexually active is not surprising, it happens all the time.

Teens are especially adept at the art of deception. Teens are also especially hormone-enriched beings with very little capacity to hold them at bay. And yet many of them do. So there is hope.

Some of these teens are fortunate to have parents who are able to speak to them openly and honestly about puberty and sexuality and birth control. Other parents believe that to bring it up at all risks sanctioning the behavior.

Families who have a strong religious faith may have trouble believing that a child is making choices that go against what they have been taught. Your child could be the leader of the youth Bible study, with perfect attendance from the day they were born, but when the hormones kick in, all bets are off.   (Moral hipocrisy is no respecter of persons: I know people who were introduced to drugs by the pastor’s kids in the church parking lot!)

There are warning signs if you are paying attention.  My guess is that Sarah was too distracted to notice — she was getting noticed by the big boys in the Republican party and she had to keep Alaska safe from the Russians who were visible just over the horizon.   And where was daddy Todd in his daughter’s life?   Both parents share the blame for being out of touch.

Here are a few of the warning signs that your daughter is sexually active:  Has she started to wear a “friendship ring?” Is she staying out later than her curfew? Does she ever go out with just the girls anymore, or is her social life confined to her boyfriend? Is she dressing a little sexier than she has before?  Is her boyfriend spending the night at your house on a regular basis?

One major warning sign would be if your daughter and her boyfriend are a little too comfortable being physically affectionate around you. If you catch them in a passionate embrace in your home, do not walk away embarrassed and give them their “privacy.” If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to make your presence known, (just a little “a-hem” will do) tell them that you are not comfortable with this much intimacy, and politely send the boy (or girl) home.

Once the dust settles from the fallout of you taking control of the situation for them, you can tell your teen that you will not be talking with them any further about it right now. You need time to consider what you are going to do and say. You also need to consult with your spouse so everyone is on the same page.

When you have your emotions in check and a plan that is realistic, both parents should sit down with their teen and open up about the relationship. Don’t be shy. Pry away. Because this is not about the morality of  “premarital sex.” It’s about the possibility of creating another life, and the potential of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Make it clear to them that you have no intention of being the babysitter for their child while they go to school or work.

What are your parental choices here? You could have the talk and put no further restrictions on their relationship (not advised). You could restrict their dating to family outings and hanging out at your house. You could suggest that if they tell you a lie about where they will be on a date, that the truth squad will be doing random checks about their location.

Of course you are going to be called mean, unfair, horrible, and that you are making their lives a living hell because they will be a laughing-stock among their friends whose parents trust them and let them do whatever they want to do. Suck it up!  It’s just the circle of life — remember when you were their age.

Many a parent who wanted to believe their teen was mature enough to handle their hormones has been on the receiving end of the “I’m pregnant.” bombshell.  Have the talk early and often, expanding upon the details as your child is ready for more information.   An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when the lack of prevention could result in 8 pounds of bouncing baby grandchild.

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The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen

The RoadThe long-awaited theatrical adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s grim but gripping novel is due to open on November 24th in the US.  Reviews and previews of the film are mixed if you do a simple google search.   Some go so far as to say it is a terrible film, just a series of scenes clipped together, and lays fault at the feet of the director and screenwriter.   They criticize the actors portraying the two main characters, Viggo Mortensen (The Man) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Boy) as being badly cast and delivering marginal performances. 

On the other side of the spectrum one reads that the movie is “the most important film of the year”  and is glowing in its description of Mortensen and Smit-McPhee’s performances. 

This writer will wait to see the movie, which she plans on doing with two friends who find it impossible to stay away from anything involving Mr. Mortensen.  One of these friends has dubbed Mr. M “the thinking woman’s hunk.” 

Filmed in winter on location in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Louisiana, the filming required an environment that reflects the total devastation of the earth from a cataclysmic event the book does not define.   It does not need to define it, because the event is not the story.  The story is the relationship between The Man (father) and The Boy (son) as they attempt to survive in a world where there is no sunshine, no vegetation, no wildlife, no clean water, no safe place to stay, and no point to go on living except that small chance that somewhere, if you walk far enough, you will find a place where the devastation did not reach and a civil society still exists.  They live in fear of roaming gangs who have survived by capturing and enslaving anyone left living and eating them limb by limb.  They can trust no one.

I had no intention of ever reading this novel.   Our book club at work decided to read it, but I opted out as the description left me thinking “why in the world would I want to immerse myself in something so dismal as that?”  But when the group was done with the book, it was announced that Viggo Mortensen was set to play the lead.  That tidbit made me take a second look. 

Mortensen is one of those actors who has flown under the radar of fame (until the huge success of The Lord of the Rings took him to another level)  in my opinion,  because he becomes the character he is playing instead of playing himself.  So within a few pages of the book I knew this role was made for him.  He was perfect for it because he is the one actor who could become The Man convincingly.  His propensity for living in the skin of his characters is well-documented.  He has been in many roles that demanded a lot of him physically and emotionally, and often required him to work in terrible weather and grubby clothes for long weeks at a time. 

He is also a dedicated father of a grown son, and that works in his favor as the father-son relationship is the central piece of the story.  The Man’s main purpose in life is to protect his son, not just from physical danger but from losing hope and becoming one of the bad guys.  They were “carrying the fire” of hope and humanity as if they were the only ones left on earth who still could.

I nearly gave up on the book twice.  I was literally afraid to turn the page at times in anticipation of what might be about to unfold.  Indeed some of the images were too awful to imagine.  

But the book has a satisfying ending, and the story stayed with me for months because I live in the part of Pennsylvania where the winter landscape looks just like the devastated world of the novel.  Every day I would drive to work and look at the bare trees on the hillsides and the gray sky and think, my God, what would it be like if that’s all there was to the world?  At least I know those trees are going to turn green again in a few weeks.  It made me shudder to think how easily the world could devolve into every man for himself in such a scenario.  And I can understand how some in the book chose to end their lives rather than struggle to survive when there seemed to be no hope.

Very few books or films have had such an effect on my psyche.  Whether the director and screenwriter did justice to the novel’s central theme is yet to be revealed and will be a matter of opinion to each viewer.  But I find it difficult to believe  that Mortensen’s performance will be anything less than inspirational.  I already watched the preview as I read the book – putting him in the role made it possible to keep on reading.  I am confident he will deliver on the big screen as well.

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Blogger succumbs to common virus

This blogger has been “away” for a while.  Nearly six months to be semi-exact.  

It started after I broke my knee in a car accident and totaled my Caravan.  Suddenly unable to walk on both legs for six weeks, I had to sit around the house with my leg in a brace or hop on one leg using a walker to move from the bedroom to the bathroom to the living room.  This was my entire life for six weeks. 

After the first two weeks of watching The Dog Whisperer, The Doctors, The View and The Ellen Show every day while waiting for the Meals on Wheels people to drop off my brown bag lunch, I realized that I was going to die.  I was going to end up stuck under a pile of clean laundry on the sofa and no one was going to know it.  

I do not live alone, mind you.  I live with a husband and two teen-aged boys.  Nevertheless, the possibility existed that they would find my shriveled skeleton under the sofa cushions one day and shout “Hey guys, guess who I found!”

Then one day I realized that the only place I felt productive was at the computer. 

At first the symptoms were vague.  My need to be in touch with SOMEBODY out there was acute.   I began to obsessively visit all of the social networking sites I could find. 

It turns out people do not sit on Facebook waiting to have a conversation with other people all day long.   Unless they’re deadbeats or recovering from an immobilizing injury.

So I turned to another web resource to meet my need for attention.  I became obsessed with starting new blogs.  I suppose I wanted to be the creator of the next “it” blog to storm the blogosphere.   “THIS is a GREAT idea!  It will really catch on!” I would tell myself.  

So I would pick a template and color scheme, add a banner pic, decide on font, widgets, do I need a calendar?  What the heck is CSS anyway? Well I DO need a site visit counter!  Ok, stand back and preview.  And voila!  It’s bee-you-tee-ful!  Click “publish” and wait.

Hmm.  Not many hits. At least 15 minutes have gone by.  Tweek it a bit.  Ask friends for input.  Get the silent treatment.  Tweek again.   Oh crud, let’s face it – nobody but me cares about this.  Let’s try another idea.  And off we go again into this cycle of create and wait.  

They were funny! Poignant!  Absolutely original in concept! 

Ok, maybe they were mediocre.  You’ll never know because you didn’t read them, and no I will NOT re-activate them so you can judge for yourself, it’s too late for that, so there!

Eventually I began to shudder at the thought of  spending so much time trying to write something meaningful with a humorous or satirical slant to it which would be read by millions and enrich their boring hamster-wheel existences, when I could be, oh, let’s see — cleaning out the fridge – and get more accolades and satisfaction from a job well done. 

A touch of lethargy set in, making it difficult to put my thoughts together in a coherent fashion.   How to draw attention to my blogs?  I know no one is reading them because of the handy stats reports made available by your friends at WordPress.  And also the lack of comments in the comment box. 

Maybe I needed a catchier title?  Something provocative – maybe include the word  “gurl” or somehow work in “Michael Jackson” in the concept to ramp up the hits.

Soon my lethargy, the gnawing, and the shuddering grew into a full blown virus so hideous and malevolent that I would not wish it on any other blogger, regardless of political persuasion.

Yes, I can admit it now to the world.  I had fallen victim to Blog Mania!

All the signs were there, I just hadn’t connected the dots.   Bloggomaniacal Personality Disorder, or BPD, is characterized by an extreme need for attention from people all over the world whom you have never met nor will likely ever meet in real life.   This attention can be in the form of either adoration or pure hatred.  It doesn’t matter.  Attention is attention people!  We’ll take it in any form we can get it, O- KAY?!

The final dot I had to connect was the Twitter dot.  When I signed up on Twitter, I knew in my heart of hearts that I was near the end. 

Tweeting is not really blogging.  It is “micro blogging.”  It’s the equivalent of a teaser or a sound bite.  Most tweets you will get now that tweeting is nearly required by law if you are going to claim to be “internet savvy” have almost no substance.  For example:

For more information about my thing I want to promote see this link right here.”   Folks, that’s an ADVERTISEMENT, not a blog entry. 

Occasionally you get a tweet that has something to do with the life of the person who is tweeting.  “I feel as if I am going to jump off a bridge if no one responds to my tweets in the next 20 seconds and clicks on my Etsy store.”  That might be over the 140 character limit, I’m too lethargic to count.  But you know what I mean.

I was told I must be on Twitter.  So I am on Twitter.  And, LOL!  I bet you’ve never heard THIS one before:  I am now a Twit!  No, I really AM a Twit.  Because there is no actual point to Twitter except self promotion and the need to be noticed.  It’s totally narcissistic.  And really really sad when the only people who are following you are promoting sex and they “found” you within .001 second of your account going live.

I am not funny or interesting on Twitter either, it seems.  But darned if there are not some people who actually choose to follow my little bitty tweets.  My tweets are more like peeps.  When I am writing them I am thinking like this:  “Hi, um, well, guys, do you, um, do you think David Letterman is a dirty old man now, or – is that ok to say on here?” 

It’s like writing in your high school yearbook and knowing it is going to be in there lurking around to bite you in the butt again at the 20th reunion.  You want to write something good and memorable.  But most likely the person whose book you wrote in tossed out the yearbook after he divorced his high school girl friend anyway.  So who really cares?

But I digress.  It’s probably the lethargy thing.  So what was my point again?

Oh.  Bloggomaniacal Personality Disorder.  So I have it.  And so do you.  It’s pretty much a pandemic now, but it doesn’t get much press.  That’s because all of the “press” are infected as well.  That is the insidious nature of BPD.  It worms its way into your life and lurks there, waiting for you to type in certain key words and search certain sites until finally somebody, somewhere sends you a tweet, an email, or an instant message.  And then you are hooked.

I know of no cure.  If your computer crashes, you always have your BlackBerry.  And even if they take your BlackBerry from you, the library will let you on the internet FOR FREE!

Send donations to support research for the cure of Bloggomaniacal Personality Disorder to me at my new blog and I promise I will put the money to at least as good use as if there really was a Cure BPD Now foundation. 

It’s just I’m between jobs right now, so, can you give a gurl a hand here?

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