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Everything from Addiction to Zeitgeist


Although the word “zeitgeist” generally refers to the tastes and preferences of a given period in history, I am, in this post, using it in reference to my own bad self. I have lots of time to think about things like, for example, my Own Personal Zeitgeist (covered well by Depeche Mode, I might add) because I am still sciatic. If that is, indeed, an adjective. I am better, more mobile, less drugged, and able to work a few hours a day, but I still have long periods of lying on my back. These are the times when I am still not reading great novels, or watching PBS specials about the Detroit riots; I am feeling sorry for myself, reading magazines and watching television. I would classify the magazine reading and the television watching as “addictions” which seem to have taken a much firmer hold on my psyche than the Vicodin, which is pretty much gathering dust at this point.

Here’s the problem: I have read every current issue of every magazine even remotely related to fashion, beauty and other superficial pursuits, including Vogue, Bazaar, InStyle, Marie Claire, Allure, Elle, Oprah, Real Simple, Vanity Fair, and even Nylon. I have considered and rejected the “Mommy” magazines because I do not want recipes for pot roast or ways to clean grout, I am not interested in the whole Time and Newsweek genre because, Geez Louise, I had trouble reading the “serious” articles in Vanity Fair. I am left, at this point, to choose among Soldier of Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Popular Mechanics and Field & Stream.

drug-addict-iran[1]As is often the case with addictions, my strong desire at this point is to turn from magazines to television, the other available drug. (I do, by the way, have a pile of approximately 200 books next to my bed, some of which have even won prizes, but I am just not interested in that kind of commitment quite yet). Television, tragically, has also lost its potency. The Rachel Zoe Project is over for the year. Fashion Week on HSN and QVC has been replaced by panderers of Christmas Crap, which is not actually interesting, but is also not so over-the-top cheesy that I find it hilarious and diverting. It’s mostly just stupid. I’m okay during Primetime, but in the dark of night I flip, and flip, and flip, and…last night I ended up watching a movie on “Lifetime” called “Fat Like Me” which involved a thin, pretty girl wearing a fat suit. You see my problem.

hanselandgretel[1][By the way: if you have come to this blog trailing breadcrumbs and looking for recipes, only to find yourself lost in the very dark woods of my current mental state, I apologize. I will tell you, by way of apology, that I made a decent pot roast with gravy, Qinoa and green beans for dinner last night. Now run back to your horrid parents’ house and don’t eat any of the gingerbread or I’ll throw you in the fire with Balloon Hoax Dad and Spencer Pratt].

In the absence of (acceptably vapid) reading material, and with “Mom at Sixteen” on for background noise, I started thinking about this whole fashion thing. I was thinking that all of last summer I was letting my hair go grey, and air-drying it so that it curled, and experimenting with tofu and reading “Dharma Bums.” When I started doing some catering, I went to the grocery store mid-prep, hair pulled back, slightly dirty white apron on – if I could have gotten away with a chef’s jacket and toque, I would have worn them. Now I am all about the home blowout, disinterested in food, and trying to figure out how to get a vintage Chanel jacket. These are only the most recent of the zeitgeists. I have, over the years,  been Uber Mommy, Super Lawyer, Musician, Politico,  Shakespeare Scholar, Fag Hag,  Church Lady and Community Activist. There is really no way for me simply to add an interest; I am kind of an all-or-nothing person. I get obsessed.

H500871D[1]I have always been like this. As a child, I was someone different on a weekly basis; I distinctly recall telling a girl on the blacktop in the first grade that I was Heidi (as in “of the Alps”). She called me a liar, and I was deeply wounded, although my credibility was perhaps undermined by the fact that I had a pocket full of earthworms, which I collected on rainy days with the intention of saving them. (Needless to say, my mother was delighted to discover the great clump of dried worms when passing on the coat to a friend with a younger daughter). I was General Custer, I was Laura Ingalls Wilder (never Mary, who I found somewhat drippy), I was ever female character ever invented by Frances Hodgson Burnett, I was a Little Witch, I was Jo March (a lot), I was…Sybil? I was always perfectly clear on my actual identity, “grounded in reality” as we like to say at the Clinic, but I did burn with the passion to be seen as I saw myself at any given time – as a brave pioneer girl, as an apprentice witch, and most often as some orphan or other (sorry mom & dad).


I believe that this is normal behavior among children, particularly imaginative children, but is it a normal trait to carry into adulthood? Do other grown women have multiple zeitgeists which they adopt and cast off? Do I have friends who secretly fancy themselves Amelia Earhart and spend hours online searching for the right kind of white scarf? Do men do this? Is this pathological, or does it mean that I am eligible to be hired for a job in which I am classified as “a creative?” Does it reflect a lack of solid identity? If you asked me about myself today, I would tell you that I am Rob’s wife, Sam’s mom, my parents’ child, my brother’s only sister, and the Rachel Zoe of East Lansing, Michigan. Had you asked me a month ago I would have given a similar answer, although I would have been the Mario Batali of East Lansing.
dinner-party-conversation1[1]The good news, I guess, is that once the zeitgeists go wherever they go when I finish with them, there is usually a part of each one, a barnacle, if you will, that stays with me permanently. Although I no longer share many characteristics with wither General Custer or Heidi of the Alps, I am still a lawyer (kind of), a lover of Shakespeare, a cook, a person involved in the community…I get to keep something good. I’m never sure what my hair will look like, or if I’ll be reading Antigone or Allure, but I can guarantee you that I will be able to discuss almost anything at a dinner party for the rest of my earthly existence…..

About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

12 responses »

  1. Elizabeth Ramos

    (1) I am still laughing over throwing “balloon hoax dad and Spencer Pratt” into the fire. (2) I didn’t know you were a musician once upon a time.

    • I’m glad I made you laugh. It’s an important, renewable resource. 🙂

      I was a cellist – went through the Okemos strings program and on to the New England Conservatory in Boston, after which I discovered that I had made a colossal mistake and transferred to a school where I could be an English major.

  2. I love you Ann. You didn’t mention reading Us Magazine or People. Are you ashamed or holding yourself to higher standards?

    I identify. I don’t know who I am and at a recent interview when they kept referencing my huge amount of experience I actually glanced over at the resume to make sure mine was in front of her. I think on some level we all don’t know what’s going on, some of us just fake it til they make it, better than others. If people say otherwise then they are just liars. 🙂

    ps I’d love to see Spencer and balloon dad in a wrestling match together, now THAT would be good tv 🙂

    • Well I love you, too. Among other reasons, you just reminded me of a category I missed. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

      You have all kinds of experience; I think many of us, especially women, don’t think it “counts” unless it involves a job description and a salary. I think sometimes, those scary, uncharted “subject to change” things we do are the most important experience there is.

      I’d put my money on balloon dad. Spencer’s a wimp.

  3. I’m a witch. You can’t melt me though, because the unbelievably expensive green make-up I bought at Sephora yesterday is guaranteed water-proof, and with all the foundation, pre-foundation, setting powder and sponges and brushes they talked me into buying (great upselling, Sephora lady), any water thown at me will bounce right back on you!

    I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too.

    • I do so love Sephora. Why on earth are they selling green foundation? Or is it really eyeshadow or corrector or something?

      I think my line is: “Toto, oh Toto, run….!”

  4. Sybil was one of my all-time-favorite books.
    The mysteries of the human psyche–for the whole world to read…her time had definitely come ’round.

    • Mine too. That and “Go Ask Alice.” I think I was longing to have a psychological issue or addiction other than being a lumpy nerd.

  5. Last but not least, since I’m still here-my favorite German words which don’t have the same English equivalent:

    Zeitgeist-(obviously covered in this post, but inspired me, nonetheless)

    and one that does mean the same, with more letters…


    • Schadenfreude is really my most favorite. What a tremensously useful word…that we don’t have. I know I really misused the hell out of zeitgeist; I hope know German linguists will beat me up or anything.

      What does Umweltverschmutzung mean?

  6. Ann,
    As Sephora is right next door to my hotel, I wandered in looking for something higher quality than the waxy crappy Halloween makeup you find at RiteAid or wherever. I really didn’t think I would find anything in such an upscale “real” cosmetics store, but I was wrong. The delightful sales woman dragged me over to the Makeup Forever counter and showed me a veritable rainbow tray of artistic makeup–#8 was the exact shade for the WWotW and they had Silver for the Tin Man, Copper, White etc etc. Then she upsold me about $80 of brushes, powder, foundation so it would be perfect and not come off until I washed it. Pictures forthcoming on FB when Oct. 31 comes.

    Umweltverschmutzung = pollution. Sounds impressive when you say it even though the meaning is not so good.

    • I LOVE Sephora, and if there was one within 50 miles of here we would have no food and much more makeup. I’ve always had great service there, including getting help from someone who has to have been in drag, but who was so much fun that I would have run away with him/her after I was done. I am anxiously awaiting photos.

      That is a fabulous word for a horrible thing. Those Germans are so dramatic. 🙂


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