Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Person of Interest

Ok.  Question:  What is it about being blond, diminutive, antiquated and dilapidated that inevitably alerts the TSA that I am a nefarious terrorist with plans specifically engineered to annihilate the universe? 

What is it about my particular body plan – namely, a heartbeat and a full set of limbs – that piques the olfactory properties of airline security agents to sniff out the exceptionally delicate distinction between a grandma going on a road trip with friends and an emotionally disheveled, menopausal  bipedal hominid whose binary code includes a propensity for kamikaze suicide missions?

Now I realize I’m just one small part of a Sublime Whole, but maybe it’s what life is all about – you attract what you dread.

And I dread flying.

This is all prologue to an incident that took place recently when a friend and I were to fly to Palm Desert for a girls’ retreat. 

Sounds benign enough…four women with charge cards unleashed on Paseo Drive.

We could hardly wait for the flight to be over and the shopping to begin.  And I figured that with enough planning and forethought, things would go smoothly, and I just might make it through security without incident. 


My traveling companion is truly the sum of her parts.  Every joint has been bionically enhanced with titanium steel fashioned from the fires of Vulcan himself.  She is built for endurance rather than decoration.

I, on the other hand, have all my original equipment, derelict though it be.  However, my appearance suggests a life of deprivation. In addition, I am careful to observe cleavage protocol, although that is more a condition of circumstance than choice. Basically, nothing to attract undue notice.

In short, I was ready for my close-up.

I tried to reassure my friend that when her joints triggered the nuclear reactors, I would stand vigil over her belongings while the feds conducted a cavity search.  Humiliation minimizer.  That’s me.  What are friends for anyway?

Oh, how could I be a casualty of my own self-deceiving blindness?  Eileen passed through the featureless machines with nary a blip on the radar.  She emerged unscathed.  It was slick and unremarkable.  The gods were smiling.

And then it was my turn.  I was in a different line.  No need to fear.  Hadn’t I spent the past month preparing through meditation, medication, and meticulous packing for this very moment?

The instant I entered the time capsule, the entire alarm system was triggered, the whole airport went into lockdown, and the Navy Seals appeared with AK 47’s.  I stood in a warm squirt of adrenal fluid and a superabundance of secretions, as every saucer-eyed passenger knew with irrefutable surety that I, the anatomically threatening, was a strange and palpable menace.

An employee, looking cross and officious, with a name tag that I’m sure said ”Festus,” announced that they would have to do a “pat-down.”  I replied, “Don’t touch my junk, bro.”  But a woman was available to do the honors, which gave a whole new meaning to the term “drag and drop.” 

Meanwhile, Festus methodically unspooled the clothes from my bag with fevered delirium, checking for hazardous mascara and jammies that might indicate relaxed morality.  No offense to Festus, but where do they get these guys anyway?  He obviously wasn’t feathered with diplomas, and while not exactly hostile, he knew I was not a source of peril.  Talk about character assassination.

Then they dusted my hands for explosives residue.

I was mortified.  Why me?  Apparently, the guy in front of me with the dreadlocks tied back with a bungee cord in the shape of a noose, a mouth grill studded with spikes and inlaid with shrunken heads, and a tatt that read, “I know where the body is,” was no cause for alarm.  He moved through the system without skipping a beat.

Vaguely offended at the whole preposterous incident, I asked why I, in particular, had been selected from the herd for such scrutiny.  Why me?  Why did I trigger the alarms?  Why am I a POI…a person of interest?

Festus replied with cryptic clarity, “You didn’t do anything. It’s random.  Purely random.”

Random.  Really???  Just random.  OOOHHHKKKAAAYYY!

Well, sleep deprivation working on weak minds sent us into spasms of hysteria.  We laughed without shame, restraint or Depends all the way to Palm Desert.  It was the perfect beginning to our vacation.

There are still more days to travel in this life.  I guess one could do worse than be a “person of interest.”


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bull's Eye

It’s been a busy week. I’ve been trying to discover the secret of life and the origins of the universe, solving for quadratic equations, and contemplating the Theory of Relativity.  I’ve observed Fat Tuesday, Pudgy Wednesday, Tubby Thursday, Flabby Friday, and Corpulent Saturday in an effort to purify my consciousness, plump my hippocampus and find the meaning of life.

Not as easy as it sounds.  As a member emeritus of the Boomer Generation, this is our constant quest for enlightenment.  Personally, I think it would be easier to sign on for Odysseus’ voyage to Ithaca than to become enlightened. I just want to take a nap.  Trying to manage all the stress coming at us inhibits the flow of our life force, shifts our energy from vital organs, and makes us REEEAAALLLYYY irritable.  However, just recently my accountant said I am “radically diversified. “ That’s a positive. (I think he was referring to my finances.) 

But I am training to be calm.  I am embracing my inner crabby as a means to cosmic wisdom.  

It’s easy to become emotionally eviscerated.  That’s life.  The other night I saw “Les Miserables” for the fourth time in a year.  Good ole Victor Hugo.  He says in his book, “Nobody knows like a woman how to say things that are both sweet and profound.  Sweetness and depth, this is all of woman; this is Heaven.”  WhatEVVVEER.  I set aside my book of social graces after the performance, and drove home entombed in a veil of tears and mucus and emitting decidedly UNheavenly guttural articulations.  From now on, I’m only going to watch brainless comedies, like presidential debates or the Oscars, those models of banality, whose main components comprise a checklist for depravity. Sporting facial orifices that are clammy and sodden is not the stuff of fascinating womanhood.   

Of course, changing the clock ahead and becoming sleep-deprived by the omission of one hour of rest each night is not exactly triage for ill temper.

I have a cartoon on my nightstand that keeps me focused on what is essential.  It says, “Life is simple.  You’re born.  You have birthdays.  You shrink.”  So far, I’m right on track.

At the moment, I’m involved in the planning of our class reunion.  I hope the event is as fun as the meetings.  We gather regularly to upload memories and reminisce.  Someone will recall an incident that is flash-blinding and leaves after-imaging of an event that had lain dormant for years.  I guess time puts a halo on a lot of things, but our memories are who we are.  The past comes again to the present.  Reunions, gatherings, are crucial to our identity, individually and collectively.  It’s how we measure our progress through life.

And all of us working on this committee are going through the stages simultaneously:  We were born.  We have birthdays.  We have shrunk. The fire within is often obscured by the waddlesome flab without. Being part of this informal clump makes for good fellowship.  We still have teeth in the sockets, if not the bite force of years gone by.  So far, there is no evidence of reduced autonomy in any of us…maybe a little automatic inertia.

However, my darling daughters, in order to preserve their places in my will, announced that the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) is coming to Salt Lake, and they purchased tickets for the tribe.  I am THRILLED!  In an instant, all their past crimes and misdemeanors were forgiven. 

These girls realize the glorious “divine bovine” is my passion, and making the arrangements to attend will be forever engraved in the Great Ledger of their recorded decisions. 

Mick E. Mouse and Asteroid are animal athlete superstars.  But Bushwhacker is on a par with the stallions that pull Zeus’ chariot.  This 2,000 pound parcel of hostility is dark, defiant, and belligerent.  He snorts and bellows menacing oaths reminiscent of a mother under stress, and can render cowboys perfectly stupid and acutely angled when he unceremoniously dumps them at a dizzying trajectory into the dirt, little pieces of wreckage, long before 8 seconds have ticked off the timer.

Bushwhacker owns the universe.  He is arrestingly handsome. This bull’s eyes are enormous and brown and  rimmed in long lashes.  His horns are precisioned brackets and crown his head like a laurel wreath for the Olympian god he is. 

Unlike his more infamous predecessor, Bodacious, Bushwhacker has no inclination to kill.  Oh, no.  He simply wants to eject a presumptuous cowboy from off his haunches, inflict some gratuitous bodily harm, (mangle, dent, wrench limbs from hinges, tear off lips, rip out tongues, and other vocal apparatus, etc.) and slowly swagger out of the arena with characteristic majestic disdain, irksome in his hubris. 


Bushwhacker is the perfect experience for the person, who, in fevered delirium, wants to experience it all.  How exhilarating.  And we have tickets on the third row, where the seats are up close and personal…if a little odd smelling.

Maybe that’s what life is all about.  In spite of the despair, the stress, the difficulty, there is beauty and lovely memories…and odd moments when you have the illusion that you’re in control of what is happening around you. Maybe the theory of relativity is, ultimately, about relationships – that Victor Hugo was right when he said, “ To love another person is to see the face of God.”  Perhaps  life can be even more adventurous and triumphant than 8 seconds on a bull named Bushwhacker.  That’s what we aim for.  That’s the bull’s eye.

Something to think about – and clasp to one’s bosom.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

When I'm 64

February 2014
It seems to me that history tends to celebrate itself in half-century increments.  Last year was the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  The airwaves assaulted us relentlessly with repeated images of the carnage that have never lost their shock value. 

There is no harm in looking back – in occasionally going retro.  In fact, it’s an adventure to see where we came from and where we’re going.  It gives us perspective and reminds us who we are.

We tend to pace out our existence by the expiration dates on milk cartons.  And that can lead to quiet desperation.  It is crucial to review history from an unobstructed view.  It’s strangely agreeable, because it is easy to forget what it’s like not to be like this.

I’ve heard it said that the richness of life lies in the memories we have forgotten.  Perhaps it’s true.  Memory has a miraculous ability to adjust its contents to suit our needs.  Time ceases to have meaning.  Nostalgia provides us land vertebrates the singular gift of altering critical pressure points into quaint, snug, homey occurrences of fond remembrance.  It is healthy to summon deeply beckoning recollections.  But it’s a long and winding road going back home again.

And so it is with 1964.  Fifty years ago, the Beatles landed in America, and the cry went out all over the land with the fervor of Paul Revere:  “The British are coming!  The British are coming!”  (Of course, these were the prehistoric ages before twitter-verse!)

America in 1964 was an extraordinary landscape.  We dined on Swanson TV dinners as we tried to reconnoiter following the annihilation of “Camelot,” that pitilessly deceptive p.r. practical joke that exposed the show business of politics.

Lyndon Baines Johnson, the awesomely unlovely heir apparent, had assumed the throne.  As a nation, we were ragged and disheveled and acutely angled.  Life expectancy was 69.7 years.
And then came the iconic announcement by Ed Sullivan, the legendary variety show host whose Mount Rushmore features denied him the ability of facial expression, “Ladies and gentlemen…THE BEATLES!”

With that, all other rock celebrities, including Elvis, were rendered obsolete and unceremoniously turfed out.

The British Invasion was on the scale of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in historical notoriety.  Perfect timing.  Being young was not a critical disease, although parents were disgusted and dismayed at what was trending, and expended great energy in their efforts to render triage and find a cure.

All things are balanced by their opposites.  Adults saw the new music as a great conspiracy to pillage and plunder the impressionable youth and give us a ticket to ride down a steep and precipitous descent into dereliction. Consequently, anything that’s confined has a natural instinct to escape.  And the teenagers embraced the movement as liberation – most definitely a clash of opposites – an ancestral rite of passage since Adam.

Society shapes itself by what it rejects.  Parents and offspring, through mutual rejection of values, cancelled each other out, and the conflicting generations, refusing to hold hands and let it be, hardly recognized the strangers they had become.

We never know when we are making a memory, until we look back and find we have quite a collection of yesterdays. 

I have always loved the music of the Beatles. The tunes are just made for road trips and disharmonic sing-alongs in high-voltage decibels.  I suppose if I had to narrow their songs down to a favorite few, it would have to be “Blackbird” and “There Are Places I Remember.”  After emerging from storms and finding calm again, the lyrics take a sad song and make it better.

Mankind is compelled to compile lists - rankings and gauges to quantify everything from the best to the worst of, well, everything.  I’m not sure just where the Beatles rank among the great artists and musicians of all time.  Probably ahead of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, and just behind David and his lyre.  No matter.  

Such inventories are best left to algorithms and quantitative data analysts to decide.  We don’t have to synchronize verb tenses. We can work it out. A good tune and lyrics of emotion transport all of us to a place where we are concealed and healed, and all our troubles seem so far away.  What more can we ask?  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tale Spin

I suppose that since man first evolved into a multi-celled organism and crawled out of the primordial slime, we have always loved stories.  Myths, legends, histories define us as a culture, and tell us who we are.  They are vital because they embody the mystical powers of mankind.  There is a magnetic pull to a well-told story.  It’s a kind of magic.

Every family should have at least one griot, one sage to relate the oral histories and tell the stories of the people that populate the Tribe. 

If it is true that your past forms you, I can see why Brodi became the designated storyteller.  She has always loved books, and began reading at the age of three.  Mythology was a particular favorite.  And every night, Dennis read to the girls.

It’s also true that all writing is, to some extent, autobiographical.  Nothing goes to waste.  All Brodi’s values, beliefs, experiences, memories, old wounds, and associations become the stuff of stories. 
I, too, love well-told tales.  Some of my favorites are those with tight plots that raise the hair on the arms or send a prickling sensation at the back of the neck, like the Weird Sisters in “Macbeth.”  Of course, less skilled stories, like vulgar reality shows, become mired in pointless notoriety.  Good stories don’t just fill the void.  They inspire us as a culture and as individuals.  Writing is an art. 

Brodi’s saga has magic.

Her book launch is next week.  It is the third and final installment of her “Everneath” trilogy, and it is quite a ride!  Brodi has a gift.  She is a spinner of yarns.  A fabulist.  A story-teller.  Now I’m not saying that just because I’m her mother.  On the contrary.  As her mother, I tend to give more desiccating critiques than had we not been umbilically bound. I don’t really know the source of her talent. Perhaps the explanation is simply that she is a collection of recessive genes.  Who knows?

It’s not easy being a mother under any circumstances.  Most of us are profoundly myopic.  I, in particular.  My emotions can fluctuate from solar flare to polar vortex in a twinkling. There have even been occasions when I have channeled my inner Nosferatu.  I guess it goes with the territory.  Sometimes motherhood is the ultimate blood sport.

And watching one’s daughter on the night of her book launch can be a real bowel scourer.  At moments I just sit there, toad-eyed.  At other times, I seem to have 10,000 hexagonal lenses, all in permanent winces.

Not so with Dennis.  He was always amused and delighted by her charming state of dishevelment.  Now, it isn’t that he thought our daughters could do no wrong.  Quite the opposite.  Experience taught us that if there was mischief afoot, our daughters were not only involved…they were the instigators…a mind-blowing combination of match and gunpowder. 

Talk about gluts and deficits.  There were times when a day without police or lawyers at our door was a good day.  Our girls were fueled by energy and felonious ingenuity.  They didn’t just run…they rampaged.  And there were stages when every request, rule, requirement was met with resistance.

No, Dennis never thought his daughters were perfect, but if they could get him laughing, which was not difficult, they could turn his delight to their advantage.  His forbearance for the specifics of each girl always had a sedative effect on me, and calmed the constantly shifting topography of my mind.

Being a father is different than being a mother. I guess it’s the laws of nature, but I think motherhood is the ultimate impossibility.                 

I have an amalgam of favorite female literary characters, who, though fictional, are riveting exemplars of what women are capable of.  Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, Odysseus’ wife, the faithful and resourceful Penelope, Hotspur’s warrior-hearted spouse, Lady Percy, and Grendal’s protective and vengeful mother from Beowulf, just to name a few.  These women are spirited, flawed, nuanced and powerful.  Not exactly the stuff of “Fascinating Womanhood!” Good characters alter you.

Brodi’s main character, Nikki Beckett, is high voltage.  She is passionate, willful, impulsive, feckless (without feck), well-intentioned but often ill-advised, and should be saluted for her courage if not always her judgment.  Brodi sculpts Nikki with a combination of precise language, metaphor and a certain poetry that makes this creation flawed and authentic.  No empty rhetoric.  Nikki is a particular favorite.  She ranks among the notables.

In spite of Brodi’s efforts at invisibility, it doesn’t take a Rhodes’ Scholar to intuit the autobiographical elements.  Fictional writing is the ultimate reveal.  Brodi, like Nikki, would go to hell and back for those she loves…and has.

I guess in the end, each of us is greater than the sum of our parts.  That’s our salvation. 
I’ll be sitting on the front row Tuesday night, the sum of many parts…and two hearts…because daughter – Family – trumps everything. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Festival of Trees

Trying to pull off the annual Christmas Norman Rockwell/Currier & Ives perfect holiday extravaganza, is akin to hoisting a bag of cement on your shoulders, while simultaneously heaving a box of Physician Desk References up a steadily increasing steep incline.

The load is inert and weighty, and transfers enormous amounts of unsustainable strain to one’s pale and quivering, cellulite-laced thighs, buckling knees, and causing bizarre and aberrant behavior.

This staggering process begins innocently enough around Labor Day, when the first Christmas trees appear in display windows, directly adjacent to the zombie-apocalypse costumes, and the occasional Yuletide carol inserts itself into airtime on the local rock ‘n roll stations. One is easily deceived into thinking the gradual ascent into “The Holidays” is a stroll in the park.

But it soon becomes abundantly clear that the load morphs into one of profound heaviness that can leave you feeling curiously light-headed in a “not there” sort of way.  It’s like trying to inch up the hill like Sisyphus.  The eyes don’t exactly focus, and one takes on that dazed and vacant look, like the after-effect of a sugar high and a glut of tedious holiday re-runs smothered in too much sentimentality.

You begin to watch yourself doing things in a somewhat disturbing, out-of-body perspective, vaguely aware of being slightly out of synch with the spatial orbit of the world…like we’re one shingle short, devoid of certifiable cognitive function.

Each year it becomes easier to sink into insipid vapidness and mutter vulgarisms in a corner, because of stress hormones that have multiplied exponentially - compromising our analytical reasoning ability.

But this year, the entire Ashton clan re-thought Christmas.  We decided we would not be chloroformed by the seasonal frenzy.  Perhaps this is the year to imagine the future and remember the past.  It is as if we have come through a storm, and all is calm again. 

The holidays become frenetic – empty and cluttered at the same time…a model of banality.  It would be different this year.

As an extended Family, we decided it would be appropriate to enter a tree in Dennis’ honor for the Festival of Trees.  This, we felt, was particularly appealing, because it would embody all he held sacred – the care and welfare of children.  All proceeds go directly to Primary Children’s Hospital, a place Dennis devoted his heart and soul.  These children were not just his patients.  They were his “Super Troopers,” a term of endearment and deep respect.

After months of planning, preparation and pride, we assembled the tree – dedicated to Dr. Ashton’s Super Troopers.  We knew the tree would be sincere.  We just hadn’t realized it would also be beautiful. 

When it was completed, we gathered around it in dumbfounded silence. 

We looked at the tree in quiet reverie, each of us lost in our own memories.  Trying to speak with lumpy throats just made us all sound like representatives of the “Lollipop Guild.”

Soon I noticed my little Asher was rather subdued.  Ash is my high-octane, raging ball of kinetic fur.  He is the original free radical.  So anything less than percussive is noteworthy.

Suddenly, he turned away from the tree, and with a face contorted with sorrow and mucus, he buried himself in my midsection and wept without shame or restraint.  It seemed to grant permission for what was inevitable for all of us.

I curled around him, and the family instinctively drew into a tight circle – The Clot in a knot.  And then, slowly, we all hug-walked from the tree.

In a way, it was liberating.  We were no longer casualties of pointless holiday mania.  Our hefty burden of sorrow became an investment of hope for the children Dennis served and reverenced. 

The world knows little of its greatest heroes.

As we wept, a thought occurred to me:  What causes us to weep, caused our Savior to bleed.  He understands our grief, absorbs our despair, and mourns with us. His love sustains us.  Promises were made, and promises were kept.  He coalesced the vapors, and we are no longer as heavily laden.  We have rest and peace, comfort and joy.

If it is possible to find the true Spirit of Christmas, we have.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I See

It was a perfect autumn day.  Not too cool.  Jacket weather.  Just right…for another doctor’s appointment!  It seems all my annual check-ups fall in the autumn.  I really don’t like being my own care-taker, but I’m just trying to put things in order.  This is a colossal task, one that demands patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had.

I confess I rather dread these excursions into the various clinics, overflowing with lab coats and congenial office personnel.  Grinning nurses always trigger paroxysms of anguish, and I begin breathing head-lightening quantities of CO2.

  What peculiar rituals.  The techs drain my infinitesimally private bodily secretions into trickling pools of humiliation to examine under a cold, unforgiving, soulless microscope.  And then they return with test results, diplomatically explaining that my shiny vitreous crystals, my lavishly polluted flaky biotate mica, and a dazzlingly confused biological geology confirm what they have long suspected…I’m eroding away to detritus.

So last  week when I went for my eye exam, I hid my dread behind my best game expression, assuming a detached strata of consciousness.  I did not want the doctor to enter the room and be confronted by a woman with eyes like a startled beast.

(I have reached that point in life when you consider it the supreme triumph to fog a mirror and have a full set of limbs.)

Well, the doctor went about placing drops in my eyes to dilate them, so he could beam his arc light into my pupils and cause aggravated brain freeze.  And then he got right into my face and asked me to read teeny weeny passages in a darkened room that became incrementally tinified, and I developed a migraine.  Finally, in a merciful act of benevolence, he concluded his scrutiny of my eyeballs and delivered his verdict.

With enthusiastic vigor and fevered delirium, he announced I had the best cataracts on the planet.

Whattttt???  I have catarAAAACCCCKS???? I shrieked, losing every shred of my mysterious serenity.

He said yes, explaining that the forward rush of life can be hostile, one of the perils of this hostility being  cataracts.  However, my cataracts are so minimal, they were not even worth mentioning. He explained that everybody “of a certain age,” has cataracts. It’s normal. I think that’s optometrist-speak for, “You’re old.”  But he just has never seen such preposterously undiscernible cataracts as mine.  Apparently my eyes have gone from 20/25 to 20/20.

Well, I finally caught the vision, so to speak.  I was as happy as the day I found out caffeine is a natural pesticide.  I became giddy.  And I left that exam room warbling, “I Can See Clearly Now,” “My Eyes Are Watching You,” “She’s Got Betty Davis Eyes,” “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.” 

Furthermore, the good doctor said I have excellent eyeballs.   So I’ve decided to flaunt them with studied ostentation and pomposity.  We all have our physical attributes.  But when you have a figure like the number 11, you take your curves where you can get them!   

I am reluctant to toot my own vuvuzela, but I plan to expose my visual prowess by reading the side effects on every prescription bottle in the pharmacy, with one eye tied behind my back.  I will peruse the telephone book as recreation, take up crocheting, and spend my leisure time threading needles with spider silk.  I will guzzle lutein, and swill shakes of liquefied spinach and carrot juice from a straw.  I will look at every vista and adopt a confident gaze with eyes of chipped granite.

Hey, it’s not a sin to over-indulge in things that are good.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Patience Stone

November 2013

I just found out that it was Vivian Leigh’s 100th birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I was stunned.  Scarlett O’Hara a century old?  How could that be?  It seems like the ingenious woman who created haute couture from the dusty drapes hanging in Tara’s windows could figure out a method for eluding Father Time.

 I guess tempus fugit…for all of us.

Scarlett was such a fashion icon.  I always wanted to be like her, but alas, my house is adorned with sheers and shutters – not exactly the stuff of runways.

Hattie McDaniel’s character was also iconic.  As time goes by, my figure is more like Mammy’s, slightly stout and definitely NOT the 18 & 1/2 inch waist impossibility Scarlett achieved by cinching in her midsection into a steel vise.  And my voice is eerily reminiscent of Prissy’s, high-pitched and hysterical.

 I seem to have become a consortium of all Margaret Mitchell’s characters, with the exception of Melany Hamilton.  I’m relatively certain I couldn’t assist in the amputation of someone’s leg without anesthetic…at least for me.

Ah, but I digress. 

Halloween came and went, and I noticed at the children’s costume parade that there were more kids dressed up as old people than in previous years.  And I wondered if it was because of super-model Heidi Klum.  She had herself transformed into an elderly woman with the aid of make-up artists, and she was amazingly convincing.

They began the process by applying a prosthetic neck, complete with ripples, wattles and pleats.  Then they grayed her skin and liberally splattered counterfeit liver spots.  Of course, there was the mandatory fake fat butt, faux blue protruding varicose leg veins, crooked, disfigured gloves over her perfectly manicured hands, a wig of thinning, scalp-revealing hair, and pock-marked, cellulite thighs.

Heidi wore orthopedic shoes, droopy stockings, and a frumpy dress.  In addition, she donned a body suit with pendulous boobs.  Then she walked funny – tottering, awkward and unbalanced. She was converted into a mocking cliché of the aged.

 In short, she morphed into me!

It was the perfect hoax.  She was a hit.  Everyone was fooled and entertained.

And then, after all the attention and kudos, Heidi Klum dismantled her disguise.  She took off the butt, the boobs, and the wattles.  She removed the wig, the phony teeth, the veins and the liver spots.  She stepped out of the shoes, the stockings and the dress.  Then she let loose her long, luxurious Repunzal hair and took up residence in her impossibly perfect, 30-something body.

I hate Heidi Klum.

Time is merciless.  It is a tyrant, a terrorist.  It not only passes.  It inflicts collateral damage.  We are all casualties.

Oh, how I want to step out of MY disguise and take up residence in a perfected anatomy.

Well, needless to say, the whole Scarlett O’Hare/Heidi Klum thing made me want to flee to my “patience stone.” 

In folklore, supposedly a patience stone is a rock that will carry a woman’s most unbearable secrets.

And after being traumatized by Halloween, Heidi and the O’Haras, I have a whole lotta classified information to confess to a rock. 

So, here are some of my most palpable fears and insecurities. Perhaps by naming my dragons, I can slay them. 

       1.       I dread watching the contents of my medicine cabinet eventually consist of nothing but anti-depressants, stool softeners, diet pills and suppositories.

2.       I deplore having to convince myself that wrinkles give a face character.

3.       I detest the necessity of perfecting the art of “blame behaviors.”

4.       I have an abhorrence of humiliating myself in public so frequently that embarrassed family members discreetly google “A Place For Mom.”

5.       I panic at the thought of rejection, and am miserable with fear of abandonment.  (Refer to #5)  Although my will IS  my leverage,  I have also threatened to appear in public without benefit of make-up, burqa or Depends. It keeps the tribe in line.

6.       I resent having to research the best orthopedic surgeons for hip and joint replacement and keeping them on speed dial.

7.       I decry the fact that I’ve had most of my nonessential organs removed, and have to assuage my anxiety by considering those organs redundant anyway.


I suppose we all fear the thought of sitting in a care facility with nothing to do but try to split our unibrow with rusty tweezers. 

No one wants their life’s legacy to be that of benign inconsequence.

So I’m going rogue.

I plan to be a burden - a big burden - on my family and community.

 I will proclaim my bunion-count to be evidence of a higher IQ, and unexpected belching a social amenity.

 AND, I categorically refuse to be embarrassed, mortified, or ashamed by intestinal transit that results in unintentional bodily emissions – heard or unheard.

I may be inextricably skidding toward a permanent vegetative state, but I will do so on my own terms.

I hate Heidi Klum.