Monday, May 18, 2015

Consider the Lilacs


It is true, the old adage:  “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

But this year, the seasons seem out of sync.  The lilacs came early.  I was not ready.  One must be properly prepared for their annual return.  Lilac season caught me unaware.

Lilac blossoms are tiny delicacies and infused with a perfume scent both distinct and nostalgic.  Even blindfolded, one could not confuse the fragrance with any other floral. 

I think lilacs must have figured greatly in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” with their honorable subtlety.  They are a symbol of the deep perfection of life.

But lilacs don’t always arrive on schedule, like the Ides of March, which, with profound regularity, arrive promptly on the 15th of March.

This year, lilac season was premature, and too soon gone.

I suppose it is a matter of simple Divine Befuddlement, a cosmic disruption to keep us mortals from thinking that miracles are a convenience of mathematical dependability.  Perhaps we’d become bored in a world of uniformity, casualties of emotional anorexia. 

I don’t know.  But I don’t think it is ever wise to fashion plans and dreams based on assumptions that can become predatory.  Experience is an exacting teacher.

Nevertheless, I embraced the early miracle, and each morning on my daily walk, with logical simplicity and in a scent-induced stupor, I gathered whole branches of lilacs from bushes that were left with a gaping central cavity, nearly hollowed by the theft.  And I arranged them in my vases.

I felt no guilt.  I felt no remorse or regret.  I committed no offense.  I violated no sanctity. I am no renegade.  I was disconnected with conscience, and pilfered with reckless abandon. In fact, I felt a most disturbing state of satisfaction, my integrity intact. Credit my own flagrant passive defiance.

I babbled my conviction that lilacs are a conduit of wisdom, designed to swaddle us with courage and wholeness.  There’s so much humanity in the love of lilacs.  And we all need comfort.

I secretly bless those gardeners who plant this majestic flower and offer a place of order and rest to the feeble and infirm, and those early-morning passers-by in need of a balm.

Man was created that he might have joy…and memories.  Sustained sorrow is exhausting.  Lilacs bring a two-week sabbatical of grace and anesthetic respite. 

It is mysterious how comfort arrives.

 

Irises (irisi?) have replaced the lilacs.

I don’t steal Irises.  I have my standards.

When lilacs bloom, the world seems to return to its proper axis, and the sacred rhythm of life is restored.

Long after they have left, we remember…and savor the pleasure we know is unique and ephemeral.

 

Friday, April 3, 2015

It Takes A Village...

In a stunning move that can only be explained as an unlanced brain abscess or a monumental intelligence cavity, I bought a car.  I have never before done something like this all by myself. 
It was deeply unnerving.  I became disoriented.  I seemed to have no recognizable center of gravity…or cognitive brain function, for that matter.  I went around bug-eyed and anxious, with apprehension tantamount to colon-blow.

Ordinarily I live my life in tranquil tedium and devoted sobriety, peacefully belching during digestion, serenely beyond the reach of deep thought or great ideas.  But lately I began experiencing a nagging little viscous slime trail meandering through my mind that perhaps, just maybe, it was time to replace my 11-year-old automobile. 

Oh, perish the thought!  La La La…I’m not LISTENING!  I love that car.  And the vision of going through the whole car-buying process left my little gray cells bruised and limping.  How daunting an undertaking. Personally, I’d rather do 8 seconds on a bull named “Asteroid!”

However, I soldiered on.  My first task was to decide what kind of car I wanted.  I toyed with the idea of a Subaru.  They’re the ones with the beguiling ads that claim love is what makes a Subaru a Subaru.  (I think they’re idealizing the product they represent.)  But I was befuddled by the thought that selecting a car based solely on the concept of love might reveal me to be a woman with a fiesta of mental maladies which would invite ridicule.  No, I had to assume some measure of greater competence on my part.

So, I thought about a Jaguar.  How cool would that be?  Tremendous horse power and a sleek design, engineered for stilletoes and power cosmetics.  “Automobilus horribilis” – for “the mad grandma of Holladay.”  A cougar in a Jaguar!  That’s me. The concept had a certain narcissistic appeal.
Ah, but then I thought better of it.  My grandkids have already considered me a member emeritus of the chronically confused, charmingly, endearingly imbecilic. 

So, after solemn consideration, and not wishing to heap any intentional depraved humiliation upon their curly little heads, I myopically opted for a new version of the vehicle I’ve driven for over a decade.

In order to prepare for what I can only compare to a day in the Roman coliseum, I decided to talk to friends who had just purchased cars.  But not just any friends.  They had to be recent widows, ladies whose circumstances most resembled mine.  And they were most encouraging, like cheerleaders at a geriatric convention.

Then I broadened my circle of counselors to include people outside my realm of circumstance to better establish a more rounded perspective.  So I sought out friends who were happily married, friends who were having marital difficulties, those who had just quarreled, and a few on the brink of divorce.

I got so caught up in my research, I resorted to cold-calling perfect strangers, the moronically bizarre, and men from the prison work release program.  (I have no capacity for embarrassment.)
And then, in an act of utter incongruity under the circumstances, I went in for ear surgery.  I was prompted in part by the fact I couldn’t hear if the digits being quoted were the salesman’s cell phone number, or the price of the car.  Talk about aggravated sticker shock! Happily, the anesthesia released my feeble mind from the great burden of actually making a decision.

As soon as cognitive function resumed, and I stopped drooling on my pillow, I asked Brodi what she thought I ought to do. To buy or not to buy…that is the question. Her reply was cryptic and succinct:  “Mom, just buy the DANG car!”  (Those acquainted with Brodi know “dang” is just an approximation of her actual word choice.)

It all seemed so simple.  I girded up my loins (with my best gird) and I did just that.  All by myself, I. BOUGHT. A. CAR.

It is white and compliments my naturally platinum hair…a definite selling point.  And it has every technological miracle.  It beeps a warning for intruders in my blind spot, impending collisions with hormonal teenagers and distracted geriatric drivers, and sends an alert if I get a cavity or need a pedicure. 

It has blue tooth, red flags, and pink flares to indicate the findings of my latest mental competency hearing.  It even has a tiny robotic extension with a single flange to simulate obscene gestures, so at no time do my hands need to leave the wheel. 

So far, I can start it, stop it, and drive it.  I’ll learn the other stuff later. 

I was especially happy that in the Great Ledger of recorded decisions, I SCORED!  And somehow I had not disturbed the larger order of the universe.

I did it!  And I did it alone…uh, with a little help from my friends…my many, many friends.
Gee, I have so many blind spots.

In reality, it took a village…a very big village.  It is the height of hubrus to believe we can do this life alone.


We all light each other’s lamps. It’s how the village is illuminated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thoughts of a Noble Savage

YIKES!!!  It’s the middle of February…20freakin’15!  The holidays are long past, and stored with pleasure (and relief) in my memory. 

However, more than 1/12 of 2015 has evaporated, and I have neglected my annual New Year’s Resolutions scrum.  Now ordinarily, I have a slavish commitment this marvelous ritual.  I, like everyone else, want to confirm my own legitimacy by transforming into sublime wonderfulness. 
But not this year.  For some reason, I have not been highly resolved to alter or remodel myself as in years gone by. Oh, the need is grossly apparent.  The desire is not.  Of course, I want to create my Designer Self and become a living proverb, but not enough to aggressively pursue nobility.  In my glaciated mind, I’d rather rely on natural selection – only the strongest traits will survive – with no effort on my part.  Besides, there is no logic in being enemies with myself in a heroic crusade to be flawless.  Couldn’t I just have a personality transplant and inhabit the identity of a more perfect being? Then I could be cryogenically frozen and spend eternity in beaming perfection, outshining my fellow beings in hubristic glory. 

Why must we be voltage-goosed into becoming unblemished paragons just because a new year has begun?  It makes no sense, really.  Can’t we just savor being creatures of impulse, with warts and irregular terrain?  Personally, I’d rather spend my time counting under-arm rings than flaws in my character.

I have been pondering this annual ritual of major change whose sole purpose is catapulting oneself into the aristocracy of angels.  And to what purpose?  That future generations will genuflect at my mythology?  I think not.

There is method in this mentality.

A while ago, I attended the viewing of a neighbor who had lived next door to us as I was growing up.  So many people from my old neighborhood were there.  One lady hugged me and called to her husband, “Honey, come see who’s here.  It’s little Joni Jacobson!” 

Well, the years were peeled back with such velocity, I actually experienced wind shear.  How long has it been since I was little Joni Jacobson?  I forgot I haven’t always looked like “Yoda, the Ancient One.”  It was surreal.  You know, there’s something catastrophic about adulthood. Sometimes I think that old age is wasted on the geriatric.  I have invested decades on refinement, soul embellishment, structure and beauty.  All because of resolutions that symbolize the deep perfection of life.  Where’s the wisdom in that?  And where is the me I used to be?  Lost in the swift passage of becoming transformed, that’s where.

Oh, I know the weak must bank on mercy, but, seriously, where is the joy in flawlessness? Isn’t it our very imperfections that stain us with character?  Shouldn’t we just put the things right we can put right today – not hobble ourselves with long-range visions of divinity?

Ah, the days of my youth, before time and good intentions genetically modified me into a revolting geriatric Gumby; before I became the sum total of all my insufficiencies; back when I was organically capable of only the most elementary reactions, and did not agonize about things that I could not change or control; back before I had a repository of spare tires around my midriff that mimic the circles around my eyes.

Those days are no more.  I am now the Universal Moral Fatwa, perched atop the summit of the Perfection Pyramid, in mortal fear of foot-tons of force from Biblical vengeance and liability, a beacon of the “Light and Fluffy,” as if I am the natural consequence of an explosion in a meringue factory.

That’s not real perfection. No way.  I think we should honor the true meaning of perfection, with all its flaws, instead of using the lack of it as ammunition.

Were all my resolutions realized, I would be transformed into a disrupted and poorly proportioned soul, not an ethereal being. 

 Ergo, in an act of defiant self-preservation, I’m having an elective perfection lobotomy.  I’m returning to those sunny days of malfeasance in adolescence and channeling my inner brat.  I’ll hie me to a yurt in some vast tundra where I can renounce my flawlessness without disruption, and with jerky little steps, regain my natural integrity and hang, like a chad in the wind, free of guilt and regret.

My resolutions?  I’ve got ‘em. They are as follows:
1.     I will explore and discover a means by which I can return to the asylum of my former wart some self
2.     I will endeavor not to let my personal magnetism get out of control.
3.     I will renounce any redeeming qualities that only have ceremonial significance.
4.     And I just may consider defying gravity with the Brazilian Butt Life.  The thought is inebriating!
5.     I renounce all moral pustules.
6.     I may become a Hasidic hedonist. 
7.     I will mold myself into the configuration of my memory foam imprint when I was young, to see beyond who I ought to be and remember who I am.
8.     I will joyfully resist the temptation to master my impulses.

This will, hopefully, trigger the brain circuitry to revolt and ruin the possibility of perfection with its inherent predatory tyranny forever.


Who knows, I may just live out my life smugly unsullied by oozing virtuosity.  A Noble Savage.  Maybe this is what perfection is really all about.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Christmas Reverie


I am un-Christmasing.

I am un-singing the carols, un-decorating the tree, and un-wreathing the door. 

I am going into solitary confinement, concealing myself in a gelatinous cocoon, double-fisting  Zoloft, and emerging in a few days as a born-again Pagan.

Un-Christmasing is a mammoth task, considering that for the past two months, I broke a sacred promise to myself from last year to minimize and simplify, and have been decking the halls, hanging the holly, hauling the credit card, and hurling harsh language – all in a psychotically-motivated effort to make Grandmother’s house look like a Thomas Kincaid painting when the family travels over the river and through the woods to get here.

Why do we women indulge in this annual masochistic ritual of what can only be regarded as the equivalent of bowel strangulation, like a band of conspirators, connoisseurs of human folly? It is truly an exercise for the mentally defective.

I suppose that as matriarchs, we try to preserve mindless traditions with awesomely brainless expectations, which is further evidence of diminished neuron function during the entire month of December.

Honestly, I’m at a loss to explain the phenomenon.  Nostalgia is the opiate of the masses.  It’s also exhausting.

So, in keeping with tradition, I am indulging in my post-holiday rant, a privilege I have earned from the frustrations and festivities of the past 60 days.

Last year, I made a vow and swore an oath, (actually, I swore many oaths) that this year would be different…I would be different.  I would not take on a hemorrhoidal task that would bring a vale of sherpas to their knees.  I would take a sabbatical from the insanity…and simplify.  I would observe the true meaning of Christmas, and resist the urge to indulge in the frenzied, annual, excessive Christmas decorating competition with friends and neighbors.  I would savor serenity, ensconce my mind in a protective Zen euphoria, assume the lotus position, and commune with my inner Mother Theresa.

However, right on schedule, the day after Halloween, as if pre-programmed by galloping dementia and a diabolical demon of depravity, I morphed into “The Noel Nazi,” “The Cherub of Cheer,” “The Ogress of Observations,” “The Deaconess of Decoration,” “The Empress of Entertainment Excess,” “The Matron of Merriment.”

I haplessly witnessed my own transformation from a mild-mannered Grandma into a teeth-gnashing, seasonally adjusted perversion of Lou Ferrigno. I became…THE HOLIDAY HULK! 

It’s like my wobbly-bosomed body has become the host for an alien life-form – “traditionus tyrannus!”

The holidays are snugly nestled between protracted idiocy and prolonged insanity, as if for a space of time, I’m plunged into the vortex of some surreal Middle Earth, and I become a constituent with fellow residents like Bilbo Baggins and a cadre of unusual suspects.  Bags ring my eyes like black-mascara funereal wreaths from too little sleep and too much Red Bull.  And welts as big as anvils threaten to drag my eyelids down to my neck wattles.  Not even mortician’s putty can conceal the carnage.

Why do I expose myself to the yawning mouth of a labyrinth from which, once entered, there is no escape?  Knowing, as I do, that I will eventually have to face the Minotaur? 

Perhaps it’s an attempt to self-mythologize, before time demands that I become surgically modified and prosthetically endowed. 

Of course, on November 1st, visions of myself as the seraphic, ethereal embodiment of beneficence,  Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel incarnate,  dance in my head.  By the afternoon of December 25th, my hair is matted by sleep deprivation, and my eyelashes look the legs of a dead spider.  I’m more “mold, Frankenstein and myrrh-der” than “angels we have heard on high.”

Then there are the inevitable curves that one does not anticipate:

  1.  “Stop peeking in the packages, Necie, and UN-SEE what you just saw!”
  2. “No, Carter, a Thesaurus if NOT a very literate dinosaur!”
  3. “Asher, it’s FIGGY PUDDING, not FRIGGIN’ PUDDING!”

Naturally, I prepared my annual Christmas Eve feast.  I counseled with the butcher about how I planned to cook the ($200!) tenderloin.  At those prices, I wanted to get it just right.  He just looked at me.  Then he informed me that if I proceed with my feloniously arsonistic culinary protocol, there would arise from my oven a great column of smoke and ash, to exceed any volcanic discharge of Mt. Vesuvius.  He asked, straight-faced, if I planned to cremate the beast and scatter the ashes.

OK.  Point made.  I do tend to over-cook things to the point of incineration.  I just have a fear of boccilinus gigantus, and prefer to have the children alive when Santa arrives.  Carpet bombing the roast seems like the best way to kill alien amoeba that could infect the tribe.  The butcher assured me that would not happen. 

On Christmas Eve, we sang the carols designed to invoke the Spirit of Christmas…comfort and joy, peace on earth, good will toward men.  But we sounded less like herald angels rockin’ Handel, and more like the “Farkel Family Singers” on steroids.   

Asher’s seismic activity had us laughing through “Silent Night,” (“Silent night!”  Really???!!!) a blasphemy of such proportion it nearly halted Santa mid-flight.  That child would test the patience of all the Saints and Angels.

Christmas morning was anything but a Currier and Ives rendition.  In a display of overly-muscular gift-opening, fragments of bows and wrapping paper ascended, like projectiles erupting from a missile launcher.  My place looked like the casualty of a targeted attack from grenades, Molotov cocktails,  and Isis.

Definitely not how Dickens envisioned it.

Well, too late came too early, and by 10:00 a.m., the adults were collapsed in recliners, hollow-eyed, grinning foolishly, uncomprehending, staring blankly, stuporous, unable to blink, while morsels of fruit cake drooled down our chins, muttering incoherent soliloquys to no one in particular.  We looked for all the world like a collection of mutant, manic-depressive Mr. Peepers impersonators in an opium den.

I think, by most standards, this Christmas was a triumph.

But I am starting my New Year’s Resolutions early.  Next year, I do solemnly swear to decorate less, simplify…focus on the TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS…fa la la la la…blah…blah…blah…blah

Happy New Year!

 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Circadian Arrhythmia

How can it be November already?  Didn’t  we just have August?  Time is passing with ruthless abandon, which coincides in the macabre realization that ruin is the destiny of all flesh.  

And speaking of the macabre, the nation has just been carpet bombed by the ubiquitous campaigns of candidates being willfully obtuse, aglow with cleanness and looking chipper, while trying to smite their opponents dead with a log.

We voters morphed into stuporous zombies, morbidly fascinated by the potential of disaster, as we’re wheeled into intensive care for the criminally skeptical.

Without pausing for a commercial break, the politicians and pundits, those spongy-minded severely foolish who populate the airwaves, are grandly sprinting toward the 2016 elections, positively radiating predictions and prognostications.

I think I’d rather be savaged by a rabid congressman with a flea collar and a medical history.

The whole campaign circus becomes ludicrous at some point.  I find myself out of rhythm and out of sorts.  But to be fair, it really is not about the elections.  I’m frequently saucer-eyed and confused even when not being assaulted by narcissistic candidates with flaring nostrils and gleaming teeth, oozing oily sincerity.

I think I’ve figured out why.  The universe just shifted its paradigm from Daylight Savings Time to “night-by-4:30 p.m., fuzzy-bunny-slippers-before-6:00-news” Standard Time.

That shift was violent – Big Bang colossal “I want my Mommy” kind of upheaval.  And the consequences are pronounced.  I violently dislike disruption.  Routine is difficult to establish.  I “sprang forward” in March, and nearly fell flat on my face.  And just when I have adjusted and stemmed the constant warming squirts of my adrenal fluid, I have to “fall back,” right on my doughy gluteal landing pad.

I like to think the universe is well-ordered, predicated on logical sequence.  But twice a year, it seems as if a coup d’etat  by some chaos demon with a mutant Ninja army of Pee Wee Herman cross-dressers have realigned the system and created planetary havoc by disrupting the precious circadian rhythm of the world’s inhabitants.

Of course, there are those who insist that predictability is the enemy of drama.  Such people lead lives of wretched despair.  I HATE DRAMA.  Predictability is not a transgression.  Leave drama to the Kardashians, the uselessly attractive, and the benignly idiosyncratic.

Oh, I know what ails me.  I suffer from chronic circadian arrhythmia, (aka circadian confusion, circadian chaos).   For a sizable portion of the calendar year, I resort to bizarre and erratic behavior. I become moronically obsessed with recalibrating my system and getting all my circadian in a row.  
Naturally, profound lack of human dignity is something I suffer in silent humiliation.  I feel all purply and Barney-like inside.  I’m half a Rorschach, one hand clapping, with all my participles dangling. 
My words collide with each other, and I fear strangers can see thought bubbles floating above my head.  I shamble through my day in an orgy of befuddlement, with a mind severely and arrestingly wrenched from its hinges.

There is no pattern to my sleep because I awake at 3:00 a.m. craving cheeseburgers and dirty diet coke.  I resort to reciting the periodic table of elements or conjugating irregular expletives just to soothe erratic brain waves. On top of all that, I’ve gone viral – I think I’m coming down with a cold.   

In short, I’ve become FECKLESS.

Short of indulging in reverse engineering, or conjuring the Oracle at Delphi, I’m not sure what the answer is.  I suppose, as I go through yet another period of adjustment, I should be guided by the first rule of medicine:  “First, do no harm.”  Yes, I rather like that.

Maybe that concept will restore order to the universe.  The more I think about it, the more I think it should be tattooed on the forehead of every politician in the country.  First, do no harm.  It might not change the world, but it could possibly eliminate a whole lot of drama!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reunions and Homecomings, Boomer to Millennial

There are certain rituals to autumn.  Of course, with cooler weather, one gets the nesting instinct, and is tempted to begin bottling fruit and making soup.  I have successfully resisted that particular urge, opting, instead, for pizza delivery.  It’s simpler and cleaner. 

Autumn is also the season of reunions and homecomings.  We seem to gather when the air is chilly and the apples are crisp.

As grandma to six millennials, I am deeply vested in everything that concerns them.  This includes a code of behavior.  It’s simply the stuff grandmas are made of.  Can’t help it. I am greater than the sum of their parts. 

And so it was ironic that my high school reunion and Abram’s first-ever date to high school homecoming were just one weekend apart.

Oh, the memories that have been made, and were about to be made.

There was so much I wanted to tell him, so much wisdom I wanted to impart, so much counsel I wanted to dispense, all accumulated since I was a was a sophomore. 

I wanted to share with him little essays on Time, Beauty, and The Meaning of Life.

I wanted to advise him to look beyond assumptions, that kindness is power, and to decorate his soul with goodness. 

All of which was well-intentioned, but apt to produce auditory hallucinations.  The kid would have become stuporous with boredom…just as I did when I was sixteen.

Well, I get that.  It’s just that I was still aglow in euphoric rapture following my reunion, encapsulated by memories that become more precious as time passes. 

Reminiscence has a particular texture, a patina, that is the result of time. 

Now I don’t want Abram to genuflect at the altar of adolescence, but I DO want him to savor these fleeting moments that are oh, so brief.

But this kid is a sophomore and an athlete.  So instead of erudite rhetoric and eloquent poetry, I opted for a paroxysm of blunt commandments, at times indelicate, and occasionally profane.  This is known as “bubba-izing”  the true meaning of life.

So here, in no particular order, are my rules for successfully getting through one’s first date.


GRANDMA’S MANIFESTO
PROLOGUE

Civilization is the mastery of violence, the triumph, constantly challenged, over the aggressive nature of the primate. 

Resist your own nature

Try not to imitate or perpetuate the conduct of the great ape.  (Great start, Joan.  Keep going.)

RULES FOR CIVILIZED SOCIAL BEHAVIOR:

1. Do NOT scratch any region that itches if the irritated terrain lies south of your belt buckle.

2. Do not scratch any area remotely near your underarm.
And, PLEASE, do not simulate flatulent emissions with your hand cupped over said armpit, tempting as this might be.

3. Do NOT insert fingers, digits, or foreign objects into any facial orifices, especially your nostrils.  The guys will guffaw, but the girls will gag. 

4. You may be the apex predator, you may be at the top of the food chain, but do not beat your brains out with your tongue trying to retrieve a morsel of food that has inadvertently found its way to the top of your head.  (This is why you are routinely provided with a white foldy thing we, in polite society, call a napkin.)

5. Remember, sweat has a shelf life.  I understand that perspiration has a certain “trophy” value, but there is a definite infamy to underarm rings. Shower after soccer practice and apply deodorant liberally before you call for your date.

6.  Do not engage in rigorous insult bombs with “da guys.” 

7. Do not resort to the “jaws of life” to extricate the last chicken wing from your partner. 

8. Don’t forget.  There is a specific neuronal wiring that distinguishes us from other animals.  Ergo, do not touch, squeeze, puncture or otherwise pop pustules.  LET IT GO!

9. As admirable a performance as it may be, refrain from belching the entire Olympus High fight song with your buddies.  I’ve witnessed this phenomenon, and I’m so proud of the “Burp Brigade,” but heed my word, this is NOT a chick turn-on.

These young men are the perfect synthesis of form and youthful good looks – just like we were when we were sophomores – before the clock altered our abdominal contours and disrupted our proportions and unity of space.

I know I sound like a refugee from feudal times, but I do know about amenities, and what chicks like.  If you observe my advice, you will always have the illusion that you’re in control of your world.
Remember, “carpe diem” (seize the day) all too soon becomes “carpe dentum” (seize the dentures). 

‘Nuff said.    

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How We Roll at West High

I asked Brodi to create a flyer I could take around to neighbors to let them know our circle would be filled with cars for a luncheon I was hosting for our West High Panthers reunion.

Here's what she came up with. I'm trying not to be offended.

Click on the picture for a larger version.



nuff said