September 24, 1997


Cyberchic. The word itself conjures up images X-rated web sites. But that is not what it means. Cyberchic means to be in style with the world of the computers invading our lives.

Who is cyberchic? I have no idea. I do not converse well with techies, so they are not in my circle of friends. At least not that I have noticed. But perhaps they could be so far advanced that I would not even notice it if they were with me.

I also think that it is an age thing. I would think that cyberchic people would be no older than their early thirties. But then maybe people over that age really are not any kind of chic.

Finally, it is a location thing. Harvard Square, MIT - those are the places where the chic hang out to see and be seen. Of course I am only guessing, because I am so old that I cannot even recognize chic.

One part of cyberchic is clothing. The Boston Globe reported that Steve Mann, one of those MIT guys, is developing a line of cyberclothes, which are wearable computers. These are not just clothes which look good with computers. No, the computers are in the clothes. Steve can read his email on a computer screen in his sunglasses, when he is not sending pictures of everything he sees to his web site. He probably can do both things at once. MIT is good at multitasking.

He has other nifty gadgets throughout his attire. But the one that caught my eye and my imagination was the “ham radio station in his underwear.” This brings a new meaning to the phrase “pressed ham.” The thermostat in Steve’s apartment broke and so he replaced it with a radio receiver which would pick up signals from his body. When he gets cold, “sensors in his underwear turn up the heat.”

I am worried about Steve. It is rumored that he is moving to an apartment with central air conditioning. Therefore, his little gizmo will have to be wired for cold too, so that when he gets hot, the cool air will kick on. But what if Steve gets a date someday. I know that is not a real risk for a cyberchic techie from MIT, but what if? What if some cold December night he has a date, the evening progresses, and Steve gets hot? The central air will start to blast cold air on the big occasion! Goosebumps of anticipation will be replaced by hackles of hypothermia!

I am sure that Steve will come up with a solution. Maybe an override switch could be activated by an altimeter carefully placed to determine the altitude of a certain body part.

I just cannot wait until Steve adds a wind speed and direction detector to his underwear. Now that will be a valuable early warning system which will be sure to push cyberchic over the top.

September 23, 1997

The View

I went to a different beach yesterday. No, I am lying. I went to the same beach that I always go to, but it looked different. It is usually crowded with sun worshippers, but Labor Day has taken them all away. A few hardy souls made up the small community.

Two middle aged lovers in black embraced and groped each other standing near the water’s edge. Although not alone, the near emptiness of the beach provided adequate cover for them. I wanted to go up to them and suggest that they use the beach as their bedroom, no one would care, but I avoided them and walked the other way.

Further down the beach a boy and his mother splashed in bathing suits. The air temperature was 68 degrees and the water was around 60 degrees, so bathing suits were not the normal apparel of the day. It is autumn after all. Summer ended two days ago and most people had received the message and stayed home. But no one told this child. He wanted to be in the ocean. If this had been a cool day in July, the beach would have been crowded, but most had moved on to a new schedule of activities now. Only the boy frolicked. Even the other walkers were dressed for cold and they walked with purpose. Cold weather means serious stuff here in New England.

Two old men were working independently, sweeping the sands with metal detectors. They walk hunched over with their head phones on tightly. I have never listened to one of those things, but I assume that it produces a static like the Geiger counters on TV. But maybe it is a totally different sound. I hope it is. Maybe it is like the cry of humpback whales. Maybe the squeals of dolphins fill their ears. Maybe they are really listening to their favorite CD’s.

The men worked rhythmically, back and forth down the beach. It would be a lulling motion. I would like that. But once in awhile they hear something and stop. And they get down on their knees and start sifting. They carry a sifter that looks like a wacky joke on Mr. Coffee: a coffee pot full of holes. They kneel and sift the sands of time. What an image. What a metaphor.

I stopped and sat half way up the wooden bridge which goes back over the dunes to the parking lot. This was a different beach today. I think it was the angle of the light that changed the beach for me. The sun drops lower later in the year and leaves sharp, crisp impressions. It focused on the vignettes of the lovers, the boy, and the old me. Or maybe it was the angle of the viewer.

September 19, 1997

Be Happy

I can just here the song now. “Don’t worry..... Be happy.” Oh, how I hated that song! It made a star out of Bobby McFerrin, put I would not pay a plug nickel to see him. I would be afraid that he would sing that stupid song.

He had it all wrong. My song went, “Don’t be happy..... Just worry.” He could sing his little ditty all that he wanted because he did not have to live my life. He did not have all of the problems that I had.

A few years have passed since the time of that big hit, probably more years than I want to think about. But I am back to this “Be happy” thing. It sounds so simplistic. I like more complex. You can get lost in complexities. They take up a lot of time, and if you spend enough time maybe you will not have to face whatever problem it is that you do not want to face. I did not want to face this “Be happy” thing because I did not know how to be happy. Why would I want to embrace some thing which I did not know how to do? No card carrying perfectionist would do this.

Times change. I get older. I learn. I want to be happy. That admission is a big step for me. I am committed to being happy - an even bigger step. Happiness is not some Pollyanna view of the world. It is the experience of joy in every day living. I want the joy. I want passion. I want rapture. Those are great words! Those are great feelings!

And I want to sustain happiness over lengths of time. Of course life brings ups and downs, but a sustained level of happiness is possible. I have met people who do it.

How do you do it? Ah, that is a bigger question. I wish that I could give you a simple answer, but I do not know one. Maybe one exists, but I do not know it. I do know that there are things that I can do in my life which lead to this state. But the answers will be different for each person.

I am working on this happiness thing. I have learned that the first thing which you must do is make a commitment to it. Make a decision that you are going to do whatever it takes to have happiness in your life and then start to do the things, to be the person, which creates happiness for you.

But for now, “Don’t worry..... Be...” No! Do not sing that silly song! Find a different anthem! But be happy searching for yours.

September 10, 1997

The Essential Sensual Day

Try saying that fast five times...Essential Sensual Day, Essential Sensual Day, Essential Sensual Day, Essential Sensual Day, Essential Sensual Day. I cannot do it. But it is a good exercise for building up the saliva in your mouth, should you ever require an excess supply.

I had an Essential Sensual Day recently. I had not planned it, but the day started slowly and I could feel myself doing a lot of stretching and sighing. My body was crying out for attention. I found myself standing in the hot shower, mesmerized by the sensation of the tumbling hot water. My body said thank you, thank you, and I knew this was going to be an Essential Sensual Day.

An Essential Sensual Day is somewhat akin to a mental health day and may even be part of a mental health day. The focus shifts from all of the outside daily activities to bodily sensations. Your goal is to nurture the body which nourishes the soul.

I chose the word “sensual” for the name because it just seemed to fit so well. I tried other words like “body,” “kinesthetic,” and “senses,” but no other carried the feeling involved in the day. The dictionary defines “sensual” as “excessively inclined to the gratification of the senses; voluptuous.” Ah, there are the right words: excessive, gratification and voluptuous. They are right on target. They express the carnal nature of such a day. It is by definition excessive, because any amount of this stuff is excessive for someone who never does any of it. But it also must be done excessively. You cannot just take an ordinary shower. You have to get extra soapy. The water has to be almost too hot. You have to get lost in it, lose track of time and drain the hot water tank.

The only purpose of such a day is self-gratification. You do not do it for anyone else. Now this is not an old Yankee principle. Our Puritan forefathers and their modern day successors like to talk about “delayed gratification.” There is a place for that--but not during an Essential Sensual Day! Save it for the rest of the month. Today, indulge!

Voluptuous is an even better word. It carries dark, sexual overtones and those are part of the day too. I am talking about luxuriating in the body and the body is sexual. Now the second dictionary definition of sensual is “lewd or unchaste.” Since this is a family publication I will not comment further. But you may--comment or whatever.

Here are some ideas for an Essential Sensual Day. I like heat and water: showers, jacuzzis, steam baths. I am not a fan of saunas, but others like them. Comfy clothes are a must (not in the shower.) Sweats work well and my favorite is fleece--fleece anything and everything. But this does not work well in the summer in Arizona.

Eating and drinking must rise to the level of an experience. Holding a hot cup of tea works for me. Sometimes I even drink it. Eat spicy foods. Savor them. Eat too much. Belch a lot. Or eat too little. Fasting can sometimes bring my body more in tune with the surrounding sensations.

Be outside. Sit in the sun. Close your eyes and feel the sun and the wind. Smell the air. Just let the world slosh around in your consciousness. Think of the day as a hardball candy. You close your eyes, pop that sucker in your mouth and the first burst of sharp flavor fills your senses. Savor your day and suck out the juice that life has to give you.

Do not “do” anything. My recent Essential Sensual Day was cut short when I started cooking. I thought that cooking would just add new smells and sensations, but it was too busy. I was using my brain too much. Remember, this is a sensual day. Whatever you do must create a sensation in your body and you must be aware of the sensation. If you are “doing” you will lose your awareness.

So schedule an Essential Sensual Day, or an Essential Sensual Half Day or an Essential Sensual Hour. Try it, you’ll like it! And let me know what works for you. I will pass along the new ideas to others. Together we will build a library of voluptuous activities for the common man and woman. What will we call it?

September 5, 1997


“Style” is my middle name--or so I would like to think. I am pretty good at telling what goes with what. Now my children may not agree since my choices of clothing seem to bring them endless amusement.

I thought about them the other morning when I was getting dressed for my daily, walk, run, crawl or whatever it happened to be that day. The T-shirt I had chosen really clashed with my running shorts. So what! Who cares! Who is going to see me at this time of day? None of the neighbors know me anyway!

Well, I care. I have been taught to care. I have been taught that how I look to others matters. I have also been taught that how I look does not matter to me. I cannot figure out that one. All that I know is that I judge others by what they wear, so they must be doing the same to me. And I want to be loved, so I changed my T-shirt.

My abilities related to style are not limited to clothing. I am also an expert on flower color, although I did not know this until recently. My wife and I were moving around a pot of flowers near our front door, trying to find just the right spot for it. This is not a pot which I particularly like. It contains about seven different varieties with seven different colors of blossoms. And even I know that orange, yellow, red and various shades of purple do not go together. I think it is the orange. Orange really goes with...well, orange. It just looks out of place in this big pot with a frenzy of blossoms. It looks so...uncontrolled and unplanned. But of course, I did not plant it and, amazingly, I had not been consulted.

But now was my chance! I was being consulted about the best rearrangement of several pots, one of which contains those orange flowers! We agreed on the final location and I remarked that the big bouquet clashed with the purple hanging plant in the background. My wife simply replied, “All flowers go together.”

“All flowers go together.” My God, she is right! Since flowers are among the most beautiful of the natural wonders on earth, of course they would go together. To think otherwise would be sacreligious. My mind has seen the glory.

In addition, my mind has seen the utilitarian nature of such a view and the value of its possible expansion. If all flowers go together, then would not all T-shirts and shorts go together? Would not all socks go together? What about fabrics in the living room? Do curtains really have to match?

I do not mean to make light of my wife’s statement. I truly believe that she is correct. And it has lifted from me a certain need for coordination and order. I am ready to break out of some of the old molds. But I am not sure that my neighbors are ready for my morning perambulations.