Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Prodigal Blond

When one is naturally platinum, AND a mental nomad, one is not always aware that time is passing.  Of course, a feeble mind is better than none, I suppose.  It’s September.  I’m perplexed, and wondering where the summer went.  I can account for each day of it, but not the whole of it.

The grandchildren are all back in school.  So far there have been few problems that can’t be explained  by aggravated puberty.  

It seems so quiet.

School started earlier than usual this year.  The annual ritual of delivering children on the first day sun-browned and solar-bleached to their classrooms never seems to get easier, especially for grandmas whose hearts are collateral damage to the education system.  I guess I’ll always be reluctant to share custody.  I’m a veteran by-stander to hard moments.

Because school started earlier, so did autumn, proving that fall is not regulated by the calendar.  I love the harvest season, even though it forces me to adjust my circadian rhythm from vacation standard time.

Our family took a road trip to Washington state in July. Talk about malfeasance in grandparenthood! But it seemed like a good idea at the time. Being cocooned in an enclosed container traveling at 80 m.p.h. down a freeway with pre-pubescent adolescents for extended periods of time makes me wonder just why we don’t eat our young.  It actually affects the lungs, like a suck of immense force and duration. But any grandparent who braves such an adventure and survives, learns a lot.  It’s predatory knowledge.  I’ve become a living proverb.  Learn from me.

So the following is my essay on “Things I Learned This Summer.”
1.      Facial Coding.  I learned very quickly that when the kids begin to look bored, it is only a matter of minutes before they are fighting like Philistines.  Now, I’m not averse to the shedding of a little blood now and then, but not in my new Lexus. 
2.     Possible Solutions to Sibling Carnage:
a.      Hurl empty threats that have lain fallow since our last family trip, without the remotest possibility of exacting consequences. My personal and most impotent favorite:  NON-SURGICAL LOBOTOMIES FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY!  However, as every grandparent knows, empty threats are the prized conduit of faux authority. 
b.     Point out that the aforementioned culprits have all just bartered away their birthrights-their dreams of an inheritance…peat moss!  (Note to self:  Skyrocket the eyebrows while issuing threat.)
c.     Appeal to the better angels of their nature by reminding them we are a “forever family” and then bleating vulgarisms at decibels greater than their tantrums.  The cosmos completely absolves any matriarch who mutters harsh language on family excursions.
d.     Blow vuvuzelas till my eyeballs are bulging, veined and cavernous, hoping the annoyance
threshold sends them insane, and they are forced to seek silence in compliance.
(FYI:  My new favorite word:  “persevere.”)

Speaking of facial coding, we have all learned from experience that when Beckham goes red, then white, then blue in rapid succession, he is not being patriotic, he’s nauseous.  So we pull over, grab the emergency emisis bucket and pray the projectile actually hits the intended basin.
I also learned a lot about music.  It has been said that music calms the savage beast.  I say, it depends on the music. 

After extensive periods of time listening to the current hits, I am now very well acquainted with Pink, One Direction, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, and Lady Antebellum. I like today’s artists.  But a steady diet of “We’re never, ever, ever, ever, ever getting back together,” can actually produce polyps.  Really.  Hippocrates declared that fact an immutable law of anatomy hundreds of years ago. He was a grandparent at the time.

So, knowing that music can be therapeutic in treating mental illness, enhance mood and calm agitation, I suggested some old-fashioned rock ‘n roll, maybe even something mellow like Simon and Garfunkel or James Taylor, or Barry Manilow, or how about The Beatles.  The ensuing protests were louder than a Donald Trump rant.  The kids were making exaggerated gagging gestures in hunched bundles, and putting garlic around the windows of the car to ward off evil.  They feared a protracted discussion of “the good old days,” and the accompanying stroll down memory lane. Then they’d text comatose emojis to the cousin sitting next to them and sarcastically remark that they were “feelin’ groovy.” There seemed to be something going unsaid here.

 I tried my own facial coding, but a smirk looks absurd in the adult species.

  We all worked to establish token distance. 

I had the distinct impression they could look at my face and calculate the half-life of plutonium simply by counting the wrinkles and dividing by my bra size.  They looked at me like I was primal woman squinting at extinction.  I’m sure they were expecting death rigors at any moment.

It was the classic clash of generations.  I could barely refrain from shrieking…”Back in the day…”  Job has nothing up on a grandma on a roadtrip! 

Learning absolutely nothing from Washington, and in a state of moronic optimism, I took the gang to Cedar City for the annual Shakespeare Festival. My biggest challenge was convincing my tribe that 
Shakespeare and I were not classmates.

We had seats on the front row, and I prayed the grandkids wouldn’t pick any orifice on their faces, belch the National Anthem with their hands cupped over their armpits while making simulated flatulent noises, and make me fear my internal organs would drop to my shoes… or do anything to cause me to wish for a retroactive contraceptive pill. 

Astonishingly, they did not do anything that was socially unacceptable, or couldn’t be explained away by an undeveloped frontal cortex.

It was all good.

And now it’s fall.  The offspring have returned to class, and I, the eternal platinum prodigal, am singing, “I 
am the eye of the tiger, and you’re gonna hear me roooaaaarrrrrr.”  It enhances my mood, calms my agitation, and helps me keep from missing the younger generation too much.

Friday, July 17, 2015

When Bad Brains Happen to Good People

Recently, I received a catalog from “The Vermont Country Store.”  Its products are an excursion in nostalgia, and include everything from Old Spice soap-on-a-rope to Midnight In Paris perfume.  Ah, the memories of the olfactory. 

Coincidentally, I had just been watching a rerun of the original “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die,” and was craving a Kress hot dog with relish. 

It was then that I noticed the headlines of the Tribune proclaiming the news:  Dracula was dead!  Christopher Lee, the actor who portrayed the iconic figure of fear, was 93 at the time of his passing.  (I thought he was much older.)   Oh, that face, that fiend, those fangs…gone!

Lee had been knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace, and became “Sir” Christopher Lee.  But titles be danged.  He will always be “Count” Dracula to me.

As the intricate iconic creature conjured from the stuff of nightmares by Bram Stoker, the guy transformed coagulating blood clots into full course meals, extracted from the jugulars of willowy but stupid blond women.  (He liked stupid brunettes, too.) 

This vampire would materialize from the misty woods all spooky, incandescent, aerodynamic, and morph from biped to bat in the twinkling of an eye, catapulting me into oxygen debt.  His was a strange and palpable menace that unnerved me to the core.  After seeing “Horror of Dracula,” I kept telling myself that this was preposterous , fictional nonsense, but I could never quite shake the feeling I was being watched.  (I, too, am blond, stupid and endowed with fully-engorged corpuscles.)  I draped my windows with garlic left over from dinner to push down my unease, and I filled my emergency first-aid kit with sharpened steak knives.  (It was the closest thing to actual stakes I could find.)

And there was never any comic relief in these Hammer movies.  Dracula was no Uncle Fester.  He was a graduate emeritus from the School of the Disembodied. He was impulse without conscience.  
His eyes were hollow with shadows underneath.  He’d pull back his Mick Jagger lips and unsheathe incisors searching for high volume capillaries for his nocturnal banquet.  (He was on a totally liquid diet.) His pointy fangs were self-correcting devices concealed behind a pasty mouth, capable of puncturing a carotid artery with the surgical skill of Nurse Ratchet.  The singular incriminating evidence of his presence were two puncture wounds on the victim’s neck that only Dr. Van Helsing knew were not mosquito bites, but the sinister ravages of a fiend bent on binge sucking from the jugulars of the vacuously dull-witted.

This is all prelude to the ultimate question. With Dracula down for the count comes this simple dilemma:  Now, what have I to fear?  It’s certainly not fear itself.  Maybe I should go for delusional paranoia. That covers a multitude of possibilities for dread and is also vocabularily impressive. Of course, the up-coming presidential elections are enough to strike fear even in the stout-hearted.  What a conundrum.  Surely we’re not  expected to live life undaunted, without a single daunt.  We must have something to be afraid of.

 I suppose we all have moments when hiding under the covers is the only solution to a bad case of “The Creeps.”  I have times when I wish I had a purely ornamental African war mask to hide behind.  Then I get a glimpse of myself first thing in the morning and realize…I do. 

I no longer fret about alien abduction.  That’s sooo last year.  That phobia has since been replaced by something more sinister, more ominous:  my personal suspicion that our brains have become weakened by too much intellectual inbreeding from today’s technology.  Like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Now there’s a reason for trepidation.  It has turned us into a nation of feeble minds, spongey cortexes, where we only communicate in abbrs. and smiley faces.  :)

In fact, I read recently that goldfish have a longer attention span than most people:  Goldfish – 9 seconds;  Humans – 8. Wow! Bested by a set of gills and a pucker.   I had rather hoped mankind was a little higher up on the evolutionary scale.  I stand corrected.

Species evolve according to what they’re good at.  I have always wanted to evolve into a powerful mind, one with an attention span that might expand to 10 seconds…and even beyond.  I don’t need the intellectual huskiness to break cinder blocks.  But I would like to bend spoons with my mind.  And I don’t want to rely on technology to do it.

I want to generate wildly complicated concepts like abstract reasoning, humor, logic, deduction and imagination, concentration, and mental engineering.  I want to be the anti-Donald Trump. 
I’d like to deliver a sermon like the Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.  Sadly, the closest I can get to Dr. King’s address is “I.  HAVE.  INSOMNIA.”    Doesn’t have the same ring.

It seems the brain actually needs to have sleep to have a dream.  Hmmmm.  I always considered sleep an expendable commodity.  Whenever  I had too much to do, I would simply go to bed later and get up earlier.  I would out-run the sun.  What could possibly go wrong?

Apparently everything.

Insufficient sleep has side effects.  I can bear witness.  I suffer from wheezing levers and my steam engine is out of steam.  I pant before I exert.  Not good.

I just learned that bodies NEED sleep.  When we sleep, our brain goes into housekeeping mode, and cerebrospinal fluid mops away metabolic wastes that have accumulated during the day. 
It appears  I have been hoarding  metabolic wastes over the years.  My head is full of mental clutter; dust bunnies of the brain.  I have a slovenly cranium.

Lack of sleep causes us to be unable to concentrate, grumpy (oh, yeah!) accident prone, clumsy, forgetful…and I can’t remember what else. 

Toxic waste products collect in the brain (aka “brain poop”) and this results in brain shrinkage.  Seriously, brain shrinkage???  (Although I must admit I often get lost in small thoughts…teeny, weeny microscopic thoughts.)

The brain areas where cells are lost are the ones that regulate decision-making, emotions, alertness, learning, attention, recall, memory, and…I lost my train of thought. 

This condition is known as BAD BRAINS IN GOOD PEOPLE.

I suffer from this affliction.  I waddle through my day with the heavy inertia of the sleep deprived, like I’ve been non-surgically lobotomized.  I can’t seem to decide if I should stage my own intervention and commit myself to an institution for the criminally geriatric, or write a book of memoirs based on the decomposition of brain cells called “50 Shades of Gray…Matter.”

Insomnia cannibalizes the brain. So does technology.  Therefore, after 8 seconds of monumental concentration, I’ve come up with a plan.  I have decided to get more sleep. And then I’m going to buy a goldfish to gauge any improvement in mental acuity, and try to elevate my intellect to a level of inspired befuddlement.  I’ll become a GEYSER OF JOYFUL ERUDITION!

I will up my torque ratio, whatever that is, and smother my brain in muscle.  I’m tired of midgety synapses.  No more brain flab.  I’ll immerse myself in sleep, until I’m neurologically ripped.  I will wither the world’s phrenologists with awe, and live out my life in tranquil cognition.

I will reverse the ravages of Bad Brains In Good People Syndrome, and when I’m done, I will bend not just spoons, but all the steak knives I’ve been hoarding in my storage supply for emergency vampire invasions.

But I must admit I would like to return to a simpler time, to the days of yore when Kress, not Costco, supplied all our nutritional needs, real men smelled like Old Spice and women like Midnight in Paris, “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” was playing at the Bijou, there were no computers, and the only thing we had to fear was…Dracula himself.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Existential Angst

Lately I’ve been aware of certain cosmic absurdities in life.  In the last few days, I’ve received missives, memos, communiques and sales pitches persuading me to pre-pay my own cremation.  Again.

According to the Neptune Society, which seems to have me demographically impaled on its trident, there are a whole host of reasons this is a good idea – none the least of which is “less impact on the environment.” 

Impact on the environment??? Until now, I hadn’t given the matter much consideration.  I just figured I’d croak, degenerate into detritus, and become mulch.  Now that’s being environmentally responsible.  However, I don’t want to become mulch BEFORE my time.  I’ll “go green” when the time is right. 

However, following close behind that bit of unsolicited advertising, came an ad featuring a cartoon monkey, looking perplexed as he was dangling over a cliff suspended by a branch.  The caption:  “Don’t get caught without your (cemetery) plot.”  (This full-service establishment also offers cremation options.)

Now, according to MY agenda, this seems just a bit premature.  Memo to crematoriums everywhere:  I’m not ready to get smoked just yet! 

What an affront to the sacred rhythm of life.  There I was, swaddled in my blanket womb, underarm rings on my jammies from a fever, and a migraine headache that should be registered as a weapon of mass destruction. And I’m assaulted by advertising pustules obese from the appearance of the virtue of charity, trying to extract loose change from my sofa cushions!  This is absurdity on steroids.

Granted, I felt lousy. Perhaps a little irritable.  I was a whiter shade of pale.  My entrails had turned to filmy slime, and what color I had in my face looked congealed.  I had eyes like a racoon, and I felt like my head had given sanctuary to a stegosaurus. Fevered delirium is not the best time for salesmen ready to light my fire.

But there is something inherently faulty with the reasoning in these ads.  They must be the product of moronic nitwits with vegetative brains from breathing head-lightening quantities of CO2. I’m still irritable. 

Oh, these executives are cunning.  They try to get to us before we’re detritus, just so they can make an ash out of us.    

So in an exercise born of utter boredom, I came up with some macabre jingles that significantly raised the ridiculousness bar.  They are the product of an arrestingly unhinged mind.




  1. Don’t wait to cremate.  Return to burn.
  2. We have “no-fault” vaults – for those who are without sin.
  3. For a small retainer, we provide your container.  The Basket to Casket Funeral Parlor
  4. Ferment in our cement.
  5. Bring your flab to our slab.
  6. Stay calm – we embalm.
  7. For a little cash, we’ll make you an ash.
  8. Burn, Baby.  Burn.

Obviously I was unwell.       

I realize it’s an immutable genetic imperative that we all die at some point. It’s the specifics of all species.  I know that.

But just to make sure there was nothing cataclysmic going on, I had my son-in-law check me over.  He is an accomplished physician, and I trust him.  If he says I’m ok, I AM ok.

He assured me that nothing alarming jumped out at him, except a preponderance of pleated flesh.  He recommended Tylenol Extra Strength for the headache…mine and the one I had just given him.  I asked him how Tylenol worked.  He explained that according to the manufacturer’s representatives, it’s supposed to relieve the migraine by reducing my “existential angst.”  My existential angst?  But that’s so easy.  I should have thought of it myself. So I took his advice and popped the Tylenol. It worked!  All my existential angst disappeared.  I felt so good, I began contemplating cremation! 

Dave also informed me that as time goes by, eventually we age out of certain things – like jury duty and colonoscopies. 

Oh Crap!  Hold on.  You mean we all eventually age out of colonoscopies?  That can’t be.  I measure out my life by certain procedures.  The universe craves symmetry, and so do I.  Time is slippery.  How am I supposed to regulate my life without procedures that are both regular and predictable?  It’s how I gauge where I’ve been and where I’m going. 

People don’t save time, we spend it.  How would I know how to invest my time, if I age out of its rituals?   I need a rhythm to my time, a cadence, a tempo for structure.  For instance, according to my personal peculiar timetable, three more mammograms, and Abram will be preparing for a mission; four more dental check-ups, and a possible crown replacement, and Josh will have his driver’s license; Carter and Necie are 6 pap smears from high school graduation; and Beckham and Asher are 2 colonoscopies away from college.

It’s a matter of timing.

Events happen at intervals.  All things must take place in sequence and synchronization.  I’m just trying to keep things in their natural order.

True, my lower extremities are getting lower all the time.  I can’t deny the obvious. But when I go, I’m hubristically inclined to do it in my own time.  I’m cocky enough to schedule my own calendar.  I’m calling the shots.  I’ll decide.  I’m not pre-paying my cremation!

So as I sat on the exam table, oozing existential angst from every pore, I told Dave that I may die multi-chinned, multi-segmented, circumferentially challenged, with a repository of spare times around my midriff and contoured like a puffer jacket – cocooned in my own bulk.  Hey, I’m ok with that.  But I categorically refuse to enter the next life with polyps!  So, keep scheduling those colonoscopies.  I can stand a stain on my character, but not a blight on my bowel.

He popped two Tylenol, and agreed.

There is a man on the corner of Highland Drive and 45th South every day, who dances to music I cannot hear.  But I sense the beat, and have often been tempted to stop my car and ask if I can join him.  I wouldn’t violate his own rhythm of life.  But I am better for having witnessed it; better for this man’s  joy. I doubt he was thinking about cremation.  Forget the Tylenol.  Let’s dance!

 We can’t prevent what comes our way.  I suppose we just help each other take the blows and make the hardship easier to bear.  It’s the embroidery of life. 

That, and eternal colonoscopies, are the best way to deal with existential angst!


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!