School’s Starting! Let’s Go to the Pool!

When I’m not writing about stuff, I help teachers, teach. Uh-oh! So now that part of me is out of the closet on this blog. Yikes!

Prior to admitting that I teach teachers, (I did teach kids for 30 years first) I outed myself in this blog for being:

  • a fake foodie
  • a pear-shaped clothing shopper
  • an inept cook, social media user, hiker, dieter, etc. etc. blah blah.

Then I outed myself as a gephyrophobic. That’s a fancy word for a person who is afraid of being or driving on a bridge. I prefer to use my own made-up word, Brobic.

From my background as a phobic, I was hooked by The NY Times Article, “Terror Conquered, the Water’s Fine.” Written by N. R. Kleinfield, the article’s tag was “A New Yorker Faces His Phobia, One Stroke at a Time.” It was about a 33 year old guy, Attis Clopton, who was afraid of swimming. After suffering  with his aquaphobia  for years, Attis signed up for swimming lessons.

As I read  his story, I forgot that I was originally hooked by the phobia angle. I was caught up in the methods,  an old teacher word, that teacher, Lori Pailet, used  to help Attis learn to swim and overcome his fear.

The story showed a teacher at work, a damn fine teacher. Most teachers I know are damn fine teachers too. Some of you will look at the article and say the man in this story  was “ready to learn,” and that’s why it worked. I don’t know.

I do know that we, teachers get all kinds of kids. Some of those kids are “ready to learn,” and some of them are not. Good teachers do their very best to reach them all. Hats off to Lori Pailet, and to all great teachers!

Here’s the link to the story:

Can I Laugh My Way Through Panic Attacks?

Yesterday I watched a wonderful Huff Post Live broadcast called Mental Health: Living With Anxiety. Thanks to the moderator and panelists who shared their experiences with phobias and panic attacks. The link to the program is below this post.

Here in my blog, I have begun to write about my own panic attacks on bridges, planes, mountains, and let’s just say, “anything that goes up, high.”

Here in this blog, I can be real smart. I can invent solutions, laugh and make cracks about heads floating up in the sky when we, panic attackers, are having our out of body experiences.

When I am not here in this blog, I am not so smart.

Let’s take Saturday night when my husband, Jerome the Great and Good, and I were heading to a restaurant in Queens.  He was driving and I was giving directions. Missing the access to the main part of the Queensboro Bridge, he drove on to the lower level. In seconds, we entered a rickety, single, OUTSIDE lane, which was once used as a trolley track. We were there with nothing between us, the East River and the rooftops of Manhattan and Queens, but a teeny-weeny, rusty, ripped up fence.

So, during that time, when I was not here in my blog, I did not say funny things.

I did sweat, hyperventilate, clench, pound, moan and pray.

And, in case you were wondering, I cursed; but I did not use the word “doodyhead” like I do here in my blog. Sometimes, “doodyhead” just doesn’t cut it.

I am fortunate that I will still travel on bridges, planes, even an occasional tram up a mountain. But nine times out of ten, it will be a hellish experience for me.

The thing is I keep living to tell about it.

For that, I say thanks to all those others who have shared their own stories and research. Thanks again to Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety, one of my favorite books, for tweeting and reminding me of the Huffington Post Live broadcast.

Also, thanks to the wonderful moderator and panelists at Huffington Post Live for their insight. The link to the program is below.

And I will continue to make attempts to look at the light side of all my stuff. Believe me, it would be a heck of a lot easier to write about only the dark side, but what fun would that be?



Partners in Crime

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My friend is celebrating her 70th. birthday today.

I cooked a brisket for her party.

We met in junior high school, in detention.

We were there for talking too much.

Photo: href=””>jennypdxvia Compfight ccccccccccv

Gephyrophobics! Let’s Unite!

Photo Credit: danmachold via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: danmachold via Compfight cc

My name is Rose, and I am a gephyrophobic,  a person who is afraid to drive over bridges.

(Welcome Rose.)

I am worried that the New NYBridge being built in New York to replace my beloved (barf) Tappan Zee Bridge will make me go nuts. I want to connect with others out there who also freak out when driving on a high road, up in the air, over water, without nets. We need representation.

If nothing is done to assuage our fears, when the New NYBridge is finished in 2018, those of us oppressed with panic attacks, may be forced to stay on one side of the Hudson for the rest of our lives!

From my side on the west, Rockland County, I might never be able to drive east to Westchester County and its pricey malls and restaurants. My bridge-fearing friends from Westchester may never come to visit us poor folks in Rockland County, which many Westchester people feel is a vast wilderness, close to the Adirondacks.

I’m suggesting we, gephyrophobics, form a task force designed to address our concerns. First thing I’d suggest is that we change our name to Brobics (bridge+phobics). Catchy, don’t you think?  I have tried to network with Important Bridge People (IBP) so that when they hear the chilling words, “Rosie and The Brobics are coming,” they will quake with fear. Knowing that we have the power to deliver hoards of Brobics for protests, boycotts, and basic acts of civil disobedience, they will immediately address our concerns.

For starters, Important Bridge People, as you convene your task force to listen to our concerns, it would be nice if you could set up that “drive-over” service. That way Brobics from both sides of the Hudson can meet as one group, on terra firma.

Thank you. Fellow Brobics out there, we need to get together and form a slogan and mission statement. All ideas are welcome.

Friday Night at the Food Court

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Deer love my backyard buffet of nourishing shrubs. They give me a 5 star rating!  At the moment I’m watching a family of four of them from my kitchen window.

It’s a Friday, and as I watch the deer, I remember my own family’s Friday Night Pizza tradition. That was long ago.

Deer come and go through my backyard food court all year. This group is different, however. They seem relaxed, for deer.  The two fawns are sparring with each other on their spindly legs, just like they do on the nature shows on TV. The biggest deer, whom I assume is Dad, sees me, but he doesn’t run. He just stares and munches on his shrub. I usually don’t see deer this big in my yard. .The fawns continue to frolic.

You ask about the Mom? She’s there too. It’s a gorgeous, breezy day. Her children are playing. Most of all, Dad is there and she can take a break. The doe eases herself to the ground and sits, watching me, while the rest of the members of her family do their thing.  I know what she’s thinking.

She’s thinking, “Lady, you understand. They are with their father now. I’m taking a break. I’ve had them all week. Goodness, I might even close my eyes and take a snooze.”

I understand totally. Perhaps she would enjoy a scented bath, and candles as she unwinds.


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I Want to Join a Task Force

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href=””>The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Cos. via Compfight cc

I have always wanted to be on a task force.

I don’t really know what a task force does, but I think it would be great fun.  First of all, when you are on a task force, you usually get fed, sometimes they even give you pineapple and cheese pastries and bagels. Warning, if you are on a task force west of the Hudson, skip the bagels and go right to the croissants.

Then, on the task force, for the first hour you just play.  The activities are called icebreakers. Some people, particularly introverts, call them b… breakers. If you like building trust by falling into others arms or taking off your shoes, then these are the kind of task forces you should consider joining.  I’m probably much more cerebral because I like the icebreaker where you are supposed to listen to somebody’s boring story and then retell it to the group.  I like this because I say to my always willing partner….”You tell your story and I’ll tell mine and no one will know the difference.”

Usually during the icebreaker, someone in the group notices that the evaluation sheet is in the packet. When she starts filling hers out, others follow her lead. By nine o’clock, everyone has evaluated the entire day.

When you finish all of these team building activities, your facilitator is really charged up and the rest of you are thinking, “Isn’t it time for lunch?”

Sorry no. Now, your task force must establish its norms.  Nobody really knows what norms are, but everybody pretends to know.  I think norms are the things you are supposed to do in a task force to keep you from jumping up from your folding chair and strangling another member of the task force. The facilitator believes that the only way the group will arrive at “healthy norms that we can all live with” is if the group members engage in hair pulling, sucker punching and dirty words to establish the “healthy norms we can all live with.” Usually at this point in the norming, when the issue of “Cell phones? On or Off?” comes up, two people use bad words and one person leaves in tears.

When you’re finished with norming (A cool word, don’t you think?) it is time to take a snack and bathroom break. The coffee is cold and the only pastries left are the prune danish. Not good at a meeting.

Then , when you return, the facilitator finally gets his power point presentation to work and he skips to the slide that says. “Why are we here?”

Get into your groups and blah blah blah.” he says. “You will have fifteen minutes to work until your presentation.”

I am really hoping that my heroine, Susan Cain, and her Quiet Revolution is working on these group think sessions because every time we have one, I want to throw up my cheese Danish and coffee.

So there you are in your groups, and there’s always that one person who has to grab the markers and the chart paper. There are three reasons that woman grabs the markers.

  1. She has the neatest handwriting, and she gets high from the smell of new school supplies.
  2. She knows if she writes the damn chart, she won’t have to present it.
  3. She is the only one talking in the group because the others are all texting on their phones, while nodding sagaciously at her blither-blather.


Fifteen minutes later, the next slide goes up and it says “Break for lunch.” Everyone loves that slide. They love it so much that they add on an extra half hour for networking which is the real reason they joined the task force.

After lunch the “sharing” begins. In each group, the extrovert who did the least in the group, presents. He’s not worried, however, because he knows no one is listening because they are all rehearsing their own presentations.

Then, it is time to end the day and the facilitator says, “We are going to collect all of your ideas, and then send you the minutes.”

Yeah sure.

The facilitator wraps up all of the charts and puts them in back of his car. Two weeks later he takes them out, but they make no sense at all.  He’s embarrassed to send them out as minutes, so he puts the charts up in his attic.

That’s probably why on Antiques Roadshow, somebody brings in a document, discovered in the attic of an old house. On The Roadshow, the appraiser verifies the authenticity of James Madison’s signature, but, he’s most intrigued by the thumbprint on the parchment…probably from Madison’s cheese pastry.

Don’t Tread on Me, Scammers!

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

My husband, Jerome, the Great and Good, is mature. When a telemarketer calls, Jerome hangs up, often saying something like, “Sorry, can’t talk now.”

I am not mature. Maybe my toilet training didn’t go right. I have anger, albeit repressed.

Jerome tells me not to engage telemarketers or scammers.

I do not listen to him.

Here’s a recap of the last conversation with someone named Josh (Ha Ha…if you really believe that was his name.)

Part One

Josh (after waiting for me to say Hello three times) speaks: Hello

Me: Your turn.

Josh: Do you have Microsoft Office 365?

Me: Who wants to know?

Josh: There has been a very serious problem with Microsoft Office 365.

Me: Oh no! Oh no!

Josh: Your computer is in terrible danger. You must fix it immediately.

Me: Oh no! Oh my God! What am I going to do? I hope my computer is not going to crash?

Josh: It can crash. I can help you fix it.

Me: Oh Josh, where would I be without you? What do I have to do?

Josh: You need to be at your computer. Are you by your computer now?

Me: Hold on, Josh. I am going upstairs to my computer now. Give me time because I’m old and I’m not really good with the computer.  (climb stairs; breathe loudly) OK, I’m here.

Josh: Is your computer turned on?

Me, (still breathing heavily): Yes. What do I do?

Josh: OK. What does it show on the screen?

Me: Oh, Josh, I really can’t do this now. I have an appointment. Can you give me your number and I will call you back as soon I can.

No: You need to sit in front of your computer now or…

Me: You idiot! Don’t you know that I am recording this and you are going to go to jail! Do you really think I am that stupid? Don’t you think I know this is a scam!

Josh: I…

Me:  You stupid dimwit! You might even be so stupid that you don’t realize that you are breaking the law with this phone call, dumbhead! The man who hired you for this job is using you to break the law, jerk. He’s hurting you, fool! I have recorded every word you said, and you are going to jail, doodyhead.

Josh: Ms….

Me: You stupid scammer. They could take you away for years for this. You, fool, probably don’t even know that you are breaking the law! Idiot! Don’t you know that the man who hired you for this job is using you, moron!

Josh: If…

Me: Shaddup! I’m going to hang up now. I’m surprised you stayed on so long. Usually you scammers hang up on me.

Josh: If…

Me: Enjoy jail. (I hang up.)

Part II: 15 Minutes Later

Jerome, the Great and Good, asks, “Are you happy now?”

I said, “Yes,” but I was lying.

For the remainder of the night, I worried that while I was ranting, Josh and his cohorts were:

  • Tracing my phone to my house and my bank account.
  • Syncing my phone, computer, credit cards and Shoprite  Customer Loyalty Cards.
  • Mapping my comings and goings to Shoprite where I like to buy avocados.
  • Picking and poisoning avocados to put in the gift box they were mailing me.
  • Laughing their pants off at the dumbbell who kept them on the phone.

Addendum: If I live long enough, I do plan to write The Revenge of the Telemarketers…unless some telemarketer with repressed anger or early toilet training issues beats me to it.

How Scared are You Crossing that Bridge? There’s a Scale for That

If, like me, you’re the type who hates driving over bridges, you can probably relate to the one to ten scale that we, gephyrophobics use to measure our anxiety.

A zero to one self-assessment score means you are calm while driving over the bridge.

How calm are you?

You could be eating a liverwurst sandwich with one hand, holding a nice glass of cabernet sauvignon in the other hand, and a tornado could be swirling around you.

A ten self-assessment score means you are very scared while driving over the bridge.

How scared are you?

You’re in that same tornado, but this time:  your sweaty palms separate from your arms; your head exits your body and catapults straight to Neptune; and you feel like your car’s steering wheel is spinning like that nice little girl’s head in The Exorcist.

And, the liverwurst sandwich you ate last night is break-dancing on your left ventricle!

But one thing, at least for me, is true. I still drive over bridges, and after my Ten comes back down to a Zero, I get this crazy idea to write about the experience and maybe help someone else.

Building Bridges: Fun for Phobics

Yesterday I drove on my favorite nightmare, The Tappan Zee Bridge. It occurred to me as I was approaching the bridge that there is no net under it.  That’s when my panic attack started. Things that are up high should have nets under them, don’t you think?

Currently, the building of The New NY Bridge is moving ahead. I see all sorts of exciting elements that are going to be included in this New Tappan Zee Bridge, but meanwhile I’m still riding over the Hudson on the old bridge. Nowhere do I see any kind of net, old used mattress, or, even a shore to shore trampoline.  Something must be done. I hope the master bridge builders will do a study on including a net under the New Tappan Zee Bridge.

Driving across the existing Tap, if you’re brave enough to turn your head, you expect to see nothing but sky and seagulls. Not so. There are these grotesque mechanical monsters with flags on their heads, and they are looking down on you. Yikes. They are bridge cranes and they look diabolical. They make me think of Godzilla, a really bad dude who liked to destroy apartment houses, train trestles and bridges.

One day, I found a solution to the Godzilla problem. As I was driving, I pretended I was Fay Wray and the cranes were King Kongs. King Kong loved Fay, and it was a great love story. Maybe if the cranes, grow some fur, I’ll be less fearful. Now, the part about climbing the Empire State Building? Well, maybe only to the second floor.

Are you nervous driving over bridges?