Monday, February 8, 2010

Another thought is a novel -- what do you think about this beginning...


Ok, so maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to write a bitchy letter to the newspaper, but I couldn’t stand the fact that the woman was pulling money in hand over fist, and making life harder for lots of kids and their parents in the process.  If you stop just a minute and think about it, that makes me more of a Good Samaritan than a bitter old housewife, right?

It never crossed my mind that the letter would find its way to the almighty Dr. Nancy Jordan, queen of the self-help / parenting movement.  I wrote to a little local paper.  Who knew the woman lived locally a few months each year?  Simple lesson, know your audience, everyone knows the rule.  I just didn’t follow it.  A minor oops that culminated in my having to meet with the great one.

Can you tell I’m a little less than thrilled?  I tried to avoid the meeting.  When her people called, I declined.  Just the thought of someone having his or her people call instead of picking up a phone and dialing, tells me that I have no interest in the person.

I understand, some of the truly blessed are so busy that they can’t possibly take a moment to make their own calls, fine, I have no problem with that, I just see no reason why they should then expect me to drop everything and come running.  When you don’t dial, rarely are you the one doing the running.  I may have mentioned something to that effect to her representative.

The next day she called me personally.  It was a little more difficult to decline that invitation.  I decided to put on my big girl panties.  I’m off to meet the woman.

I didn’t really have a problem finding the place, who could miss it?  Think the Ritz on steroids.  I think maybe someone is over compensating, but we shall see.

I walked into the restaurant and allowed myself just a moment of panic.  I’m really not a she-she-poo-poo kind of person.  The little witch probably picked this place just to try to put me off my game.  Like that’s going to work.  The more terrified I am, the more confident I appear.  It’s all an act, but she doesn’t know that.

“Mrs. McCarthy, please, join me.”
“Thank you.”
“Shall we order a drink?”
“Certainly.”  Turning to the beautiful young woman in the starched white blouse and expensive looking black wool skirt I said, “May I have a Pepsi or Coke please?”  She seemed a bit taken back, I’m not sure why. 

Maybe I’m just projecting, but everyone seems to assume you’re an alcoholic if you choose not to drink.  I’m not an alcoholic.  All Irish jokes aside, the truth of it is that I simply don’t like the taste of alcohol.

Dr. Jordan sat before me in what can only be referred to as -- all her splendor.  She was wearing an obviously expensive suit.  I’m not a brand name kind of person, so I’m not sure who constructed it for her, but I am just fashion savvy enough to know that it was most definitely constructed for her and not many others.  I’m thinkin’ ol' Nancy is not an off the rack kind of girl.

I, on the other hand, was resplendent in my Bisou Bisou pants and top from JC Penney and a leather jacket I picked up last year from the clearance store for Saks.  I think it’s called Off 5th or something like that.

It’s a fabulous place for those of us that consider it sinful to spend more money on an outfit than most people spend on a week’s groceries.

I must say that if there was a vote taken by anyone other than the most ardent fashionista, I think I would win.  I look like a million bucks, if I do say so myself.  Nancy just looks like she has the income allowing her to spend that much if she so chooses.  Anyone can look great if she has unlimited funds.  The true art of it, in my never to be humble opinion, is looking great without needing to spend a small fortune to do so.  I’m the first to admit that a wee bit of a splurge is good for the soul every now and again, but it should be the exception not the rule.

I get caught up in all these little things.  I think about them.  All the little subtleties missed by some, but important to me.  Life is often a choice between two things that look innocent on the surface, but are more telling than most people bother to notice.

Those are the things I notice,  I can’t help it. I was begat by an Irish Catholic Apostolic Pentecostal Psychic.  It’s a blessing and a curse and the reason that I’m at least 12.5 degrees off center.

“Mrs. McCarthy, I’ve asked that you join me here today to discuss a letter attributed to you in the newspaper a few days ago.  I am told that you are not a frequent contributor to the paper and yet they published a rather lengthy letter for you.  I have not seen any other diatribes with your byline.  I’m curious as to why you felt the need to attack me.”

“Dr. Jordan, I’m sorry you felt attacked.  I do not contribute to the paper.  It was a simple letter to the editor.”

She pulled her copy of my letter out of her briefcase.  It was highlighted for goodness sake.

“It says here…” and she went on to read the whole damn thing verbatim!

Dear Editor,

Your recent series Introducing Dr. Nancy Jordan concerns me.  I have read each of Dr. Jordan’s books.  I have followed her progress through the media for several years.  I’ve paid particular attention to her self-proclaimed expertise in the building of healthy minds, specifically those of “special” children.  With each new book, or article, I find myself more concerned.

I am not an expert, however, I have welcomed a number of “troubled children” into my home.  Differing problems, differing backgrounds, but many shared a history including desperate parents that tried everything available to them including Dr. Jordan’s programs.  Not one of them benefited from Dr. Jordan’s approach.

I would be interested to know how many children Dr. Jordan has successfully treated.  Has she personally implemented her program for behavior modification?  I can tell you, as a very organized and experienced person, it is my opinion that her program is cumbersome and ineffective.
It is my opinion, that for those children that have serious mental health challenges, Dr. Jordan’s approach will drive the caretaker to desperation, but do the child no good.  For those children that have behavior issues, which is (by far) the more common problem in our society, Dr. Jordan is creating patients needing treatment out of kids needing limits.

I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to acquire any real information regarding Dr. Jordan’s qualifications, other than those as an author and self-promoter.  I think an investigational series about Dr. Jordan, and her programs, would be of interest to many of your readers, and a service to the community at large.

Siobhan McCarthy

The great Nancy Jordan really mangled my name.  I thought Siobhan was a pretty common name, but that’s probably an Irish thing.  The rest of the world spells it C-h-e-v-o-n-n-e, or something close to that.  How could a woman as sophisticated as she not know how to pronounce Siobhan?

Dr. Jordan positioned her probably altered nose slightly higher in the air and said quietly, “You don’t see that as harsh criticism?”

“I guess that depends.  If it were not accurate, I guess it could be construed as harsh criticism.  I see it as a fair, if somewhat abbreviated, reflection of my impressions of your work.”

She’s not the only one that can play hardball!  Try to intimidate me?  Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.
See, the more scared I am, the more I have a tendency toward being a bit ballsy.

We ended up talking for three hours.  We met again the next day, and the day after that.  Very long story short, we decided that with her credentials and my experience, we should be able to improve her approach and supply better information to the masses.

I wasn’t completely won over, but I was optimistic.  That’s one of my major personality flaws.  Being overly optimistic.  I’ll admit it right up front.  I have a tendency to see the best in everything and everyone.  It makes for some huge life lessons.  Some of those lessons are rather painful.

The Dr. Nancy life lessons really didn’t score that high on my personal Richter scale until several months later.  Even after the big blowup I thought my involvement with Dr. Nancy ended up having no more importance in my life than a slight stress twitch between my shoulder blades whenever her name was mentioned.  Just goes to show how very wrong one woman - no matter her intelligence and street acumen - just how wrong she can be. 

Of course in this context, she would be me, I’m the dink-on-steroids.  I admit it.  There are worse

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