Monday, February 20, 2012

sandwich fillers...

for reasons which shall remain incomprehensible and entirely inexplicable, there comes a time (or indeed, many times) when a girl (read as 40 something) gravitates, like a mesmerized spinning top, into Self Help Mode. i am not talking about at the buffet table. i am always at the front of that queue, no matter how hard i try and resist. i lurk around a bit and eventually say “oh fuck it. why not?” and happily dive first into the lasagna. everyone else is either far too well mannered, not hungry enough or so ridiculously timid they deserve a poke in the eye with a blunt stick followed swiftly by another large serving of chocolate mousse. graced with not one but three glazed cherries.

in fact, the same rings true at the self help shelf in our local book store, which i have proudly and scoffingly eschewed for the last decade or so. (the self help section, not the book store.) lately, in fact Monday last week to be precise, precision being a rare and surprising trend in my days, I found myself perusing, then actually buying (astoundingly) books called ‘be happy: release the power of happiness in YOU’ and ‘Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life.’ there was only one other customer in the shop and i noticed he had chosen the far superior Stanley’s Dark Safari. he didn’t look the type, from the way he was holding the book. uncomfortably, i thought. so i naturally assumed he was buying it as a present for someone else. i briefly mused on who the happy recipient might be and decided it was for his daughter, if he had one. he was behind me at the computerized till, which seemed to be momentarily dead. the self help books, MY self help books lay brightly obvious on the counter.

it reminded me of the time when i uncharacteristically, she quickly points out, bought some sexy little lacy pants at Mr Price in Smith St., Durban. i had hidden them underneath my Sensible Brooks. the queue was very long and of course, the um, little black things didn’t have, surprisingly, a price attached. just my luck. the fierce sales lady, who had lipstick on her teeth and wore too much rouge, was irate and not shy. she swung them triumphantly around her head, whilst roaring “ Sanette! How much are these?” to the vaguely inept saleslady a kilometer away on the other side of the shop floor. lots of little knowing looks were shot from strangers in my purple faced direction. here I was again, it seemed, under a not too dissimilar situation, although a far more well mannered one. self help books are at least polite. understandably, mr dark safari was looking at me sideways, in an alarmingly pitiful fashion because, i like to think, i looked too normally happy to be buying these kinds of books. at least the look was sideways and not down his nose.

i haven’t started the aloneness one, yet, as am sandwiched tightly between Hemingway and Harrison, the polony and the gherkins being ME releasing my power of happiness, or at least making a courageous yet seemingly futile attempt to do so. i might not make it to the aloneness one. nevertheless, I have presently adopted the rather comforting but not entirely convincing mantra of “I am a wise person” when I feel myself slip sliding in a downward or doubtful direction, followed by “happiness is inside of me, not outside”, as i rightly recall....

it seems to help momentarily albeit a pleasant little distraction from the weather. and i also like Abba.

at least it rained today. and then some.

KITCHEN BOARD: 20th february 2012.

some people are efficient, it seems. noddy badges and biscuits all round.
invisible angels are beautiful things. like the rain.
toodely toot, y'all and bisous X.X.X. fresh rainy ones all about ya. x. j

16 comments:

Sherry O'Keefe said...

and how many of us write a grocery list we hope doesn't get lost in the store, because if someone finds our list (even though they don't know it is OUR list)we wish the list had been more exotic/less white-breadish. not easy to expose ourselves and yet, it's good to do so. i used to hide myself more and uh, wasn't sure who myself was. the more i figure out who i am, the more that helps me. our journeys are similar, the snags are ones i recognize, the vistas are not as often as i'd like. reading your posts make me feel we are near the same brink...

What Possessed Me said...

Love this post. I've read more self-help books than I care to admit, including one very brightly colored volume that screamed "THE DANCE OF INTIMACY" all over the cover. Not the best choice for the subway, but at this point I am beyond shame.

No one should be ashamed of lacy black undies, however. The real shame lies in the gray, fraying ones that have lost their elastic (and comprise most of my top drawer). xox

Val said...

i was a bit worried, when i saw this title, after your last post. The forties are tough - no question. perhaps thats the need for self help books? hehe about the saucy knickers - everyone probably just jealous :) xx

JoeinVegas said...

Yes, lace is so much better than those huge pink polyester ones you might have been caught with.

Reluctant Memsahib said...

at least your knickers were pretty. years ago in a huge london store I was trying to buy some bras that were padded without being grannyish. my cleavage not being of the dimensions you could lose a peanut in, far less a bit of cutlery. middle child was getting bored of trailing flat chested mother so I roped her in as assistant. 'see these melie, with the cushiony stuff in them', i said, fingering a not very pretty padded bra, 'i need some like this, but prettier'. melie skulked off and vanished. a while later she was heard to roar from the other wide of the floor, 'ma, ma, MA, i have found one! one of those bras with the matress stuff inside'. I was purple faced too then, and it wasn't just my complexion that gave the game away, it was my less than impressive profile.
self help books are the big seller on amazon, if it's any comfort, you're not alone in your angst.
xx

elizabeth said...

I eschew (is that the right word?) self help in all its forms -- but this very morning pondered buying The Artist's Way by some awfully young looking self help guru --it was recommended by a really bright gifted AA attending friend at the dog park who says it's excellent for making suggestions that really help.....

I always look to see what people are reading/buying.
ps I replaced my 'prison issue' bras with absurdly expensive properly fitted ones last year when I was in a FURY with my husband and his then poor interminably ailing ancient ma...

I could write a self help diet book (they are always super popular and each new on has THE ANSWER)
it would be very short
it would say:EAT LESS

Since diets don't work, the industry will continue for ever...........
have a super weekend

ox bisous

Janelle said...

thank you all...you're all triffikly erudite...honestly. elizabeth, i adore the word " eschew". one of my favourites. it's so onomatopoeic. love xxx

Family Affairs said...

When you've read them can you summarise and let me have the answers please? Reminded me of the time I asked for "Emergency Sex and other Matters" a book about the UN and war zones and the man said "yes, I know what you mean, but wouldn't you prefer to con sider the Karma Sutra???". Lx

Francisca Matteoli said...

Hello Janelle from Paris ! How is your book on hapiness ? They give a recipe ? Hummm... would love to know...

Bonne journée & à bientôt !

Francisca

Mark said...

I'm blushing...:)

karen said...

Hi Janelle - catching up again, so very late here and late reading all your earlier posts since Christmas! I hope all is well with you...things all sound rather fraught, but there's always Abba, and those invisible angels! Warm Monday greetings from down here ..

Lori ann said...

hellooo, how are you janelli? where is your post dear girl? and your book? is it out yet? did i tell you we'll be on your lovely continent in three weeks time. not close enough to you again though,
:(

Ruth said...

hey janelle - i love reading your posts - always brings a smile to my face. in fact been thinking of you a lot recently whilst reading a lovely book which felt as if you had written it! - about forbidden love, mysterious liaisons, untold stories and with frequent reference to wild horses and angels! The book is called Train to Trieste by Domnica Radulescu - so next time you're in the book shop bypass the self help and lose yourself in romance! Ruthxx

Mark said...

I'm running CCTV at the NATO conference in Chicago next week and will require quality reading...please post. If you're in Zanzibar...I delay my request... indeterminately. Hope all is well. M

Amanda said...

i miss you janelle and hope all is well. when are you and your lovely words coming back?

Francisca Matteoli said...

Hi Janelle,
Can't wait to read your next story.
I miss you, Janelle.

If you ever come to NYC this week or have friends who want to come to my book signing, all the details are on my blog :
www.franciscamatteoli.com/blog/
Would love to meet you in person !

Hasta luego,
Take care,

Francisca