Here is a list of things I am currently avoiding, in case you are keeping track:
- Diet soda and sugarless gum. As I wrote this week on xojane.com, kidney stones and a mild kidney infection prompted my doctor to suggest I give up what are pretty much my two only vices.
- Curse words, although I broke that rule in the piece mentioned above. I’m not being prudish. I just feel as if those words are so over-used and usually as a short-cut to getting a laugh. This occurred to me after watching half an episode of Veep on HBO. (I would have kept watching, except the free download quit half-way through, and crashed my computer. See what happens when you drop too many f-bombs?) Every other word in that pilot was “fucking” and I found myself sort of half-laughing - possibly just a reaction to hearing a word you’re not supposed to hear. I can understand why Julia Louis Dreyfus, after all those years on network TV would be like, “I’m on HBO, now, mother fuckers,” but mostly I got the sense the writers were using that language to convey hipness, and to me, it had the opposite effect.
I should probably mention that I was programmed from a young age to be highly aware of my use of profanity. When I was 11 or so, my mother, fresh off a teacher training course on behavior modification, started trying it out on my sister and me. She hung up a chart in the kitchen tracking our good and bad behavior - we got gold stars or minus marks depending on whether we unloaded the dishwasher or left our rooms messy. She also instituted Curse Day. On the 12th of each month, at 6 pm, we had exactly one minute to say all the curse words we wanted. After that, saying them would cost us $.25 a piece from our piggy banks. My sister and I would get excited in advance of Curse Day. At the allotted time, we’d each take a breath, and then… “Fuck! Shit!…Fuck…shit…ass…” You’d be surprised how hard it is to say nothing but curse words for sixty-seconds straight! Especially when you are 11 and 7 and don’t know that many forbidden words. When my cousins came to visit, one of them used that time to sing, to the tune of Yellow Submarine, “We all live in a fuckin’ piece of shit…”
- “Lol.” I hate “lol,” although I sometimes use it as a joke, the joke being, I’m not really the kind of person who would use it or any acronymic abbreviation much. What I especially hate about it is that every time I see it, I become preoccupied with its pronunciation. Does it have a long or short “o” sound? Is pronounced “lole” or “loll”? My husband will sometimes kid around and say “loll” when something that is meant to be funny totally isn’t.
- Giving astrology too much credence. I have only the most rudimentary understanding of astrology. Sometimes I don’t pay much attention to horoscopes. My attention to them is directly proportional to how well things are going for me at that time. You know things are bad when I start reading for my rising sign, and even worse when I do that for my moon.
- Avoidance. I’m not just being clever here. (Okay, maybe a little.) But this is a big theme in my therapy right now. Although, come to think of it, isn’t that the whole theme of therapy, period?