Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blueprint for the Decade

The New Year is barely two weeks old. Dennis and I are putting the finishing touches on our blueprint in anticipation of the next dozen months. Our goal is to shape them before they can shape us. (Of course, this may involve thought capability with greater intellect than a TV test pattern, but we’re up for the challenge.)

January is a splendid time for quiet reflection following the high-octane holidays. Extremely excessive mirth-making engenders centrifugal-force fatigue. There is something slightly diabolical about a six-week stretch of gluttony, insomnia and unmitigated jolliness.

So, we are dedicating this drowsy month to ordering the “Yonder, matter unorganized.” I crave a grid on my life. I want right angles in my brain. I need thoughts that intersect with rationale at 90 degrees. I demand cosmic harmony and all the planets in alignment. Is that so wrong?

I suppose this entails making a catalog of resolutions for self-improvement, but honestly, I’m SICK of lists I have to check twice. I don’t care whether, at this point, I’m naughty or nice. Besides, I have rationalized that resolutions are for megalomaniacs, whose whole point in life is the quest for perfection. Tempus fugit. I haven’t got time to wait for perfection. So, I am renouncing narcissism. I no longer want to focus on fixing me. I want to fix the world…a much simpler task.

Where do I begin? Take mass media…please. Talk about the land of the wee-brained, barely conscious nit wits. Gossip is confused with news. Human beings are regarded as entertainment, and megalomaniacal (there’s that word again), ethically-regressing celebrities determine our thoughts, our behavior, our looks. “Celebrity” is an art form with its own toxic karma.

However, I do confess to the guilty pleasure of watching Rod Blagojevich, Simon Cowell, Mark McGuire, Richard Heene, Tiger Woods, and the whole 2008 presidential campaign conducted by celestial intervention…but I have to be in mindless “giant sloth mode.” And sometimes in the tedium of the deep, dark winter months, I particularly miss the awesome presence of Anna Nicole Smith.

Oh, there are things I would like to see happen in 2010. For instance, my extreme hallucination would involve a suspension of the “Alfalfa Prohibition Policy,” so I could join the Mo Tab.

I would like to see Dennis named the “Sexiest Senior Alive” by virtue of his two remaining chest hairs and six natural teeth.

I would like to get so ripped, I become a total-body human stiletto. Actually, as I take inventory of my present contour, I realize I may have over-shot the mark.
In an effort to mine all the possibilities in a year of possibilities, we reject utterly the whole idea of bucket lists. Such lists seem contrived for the sole purpose of promoting a Jack Nicholson movie. “Bucket lists” should be stricken from the American lexicon, along with “menopause” and “mid-life crisis,” as both implicate approaching termination…and that should never be the motivation for action.

That said, however, Necie is quick to remind me that since we can’t be grandmas together because I’ll be dead by then, we better play with the Zhu Zhu pets Santa brought before I kick off. Hey, that works for me. Children speak without filters. Her reasoning is the consequence of seeing me one morning with only half my make-up on. Talk about Lady Gaga meets Lizard Eye. It was then she was forced to face my mortality and realized our time together in mortality is severely limited.

Ah, but I digress. Perhaps the best way to recalibrate our lives is to focus on the lives of those nearest and dearest. I refer to our cherished grandchildren. Each has gifts. Each has disorders. And each of these must be addressed.

And none more so than Asher…our bellicose little Sasquatch.

We have been trying to decode his genome indicators to unravel the mystery of why he views himself as heaven’s avenging angel, whose sole purpose in life is to destroy the planet. His guiding mantra is Johnny Cochranesque in simplicity:

“If it’s in tact,
It gets WHACKED!”

And it is applied to all things, uniformly, and without discretion.

Now this works nicely, until one unleashes him on society.

The problem is, he doesn’t grasp the concept of retalliation. He has a promising future as an extortionist, mafia thumb-breaker, Gitmo interrogator. But he lacks training.

So, since we can’t seem to persuade him from a life of crime and misdemeanors, Dennis and I have compiled the “Bully’s Guide: Rules of Engagement and Decorum”…this in an effort to prevent him from being knocked on his fantail because of gross tactical miscalculation. It is a common sense approach for the “recreational agitator.”

Here are our suggestions, in no particular order:

1. Select a name that inspires trepidation, when it’s even whispered. “Ashy Pooh-Pooh” is fine when in the bosom of the family, but it won’t cut it in the Big House. “Brutus Maximus” or “Asher The Hun” would strike fear only in victims with a working knowledge of Latin or Roman history. Our personal choice of moniker: Alphonse “The Moist” Dodecahedron. One need have no acquaintance with geometry or the Mafia. It’s the syllables…never underestimate the power of syllables…the verbal equivalent of smart bombs…to confuse and confound the enemy and, like the octopus, erect an oral ink shield that allows escape…so one can live to fight another day.
2. Hasten slowly. Never pick on someone bigger, unless you have a large companion (a big brother, or Grandma) as a body guard. Fact: being the youngest and smallest diminishes one’s “viable victims pool” significantly.
3. Embellish territorial threat displays with decibels. Be loud and proud.
4. Practice the art of the hasty retreat. Velocity counts. However, make sure you’re toilet-trained and continent.

“Runnin’ away while packin’ heat,
Seriously hinders one’s retreat.

(On the positive side, trailing in an odiferous wake may serve to discourage prolonged pursuit…with the notable exception of those with stuffy noses.)

5. Never engage in sustained combat without finishing your sippee. Bullies, like armies, travel on their stomachs.
6. Work the dimples…aka – facial appeasement. This is probably most effective with grandparents.

We’re hoping this credo helps change Asher from an undisciplined, garden-variety hoodlum into a well-oiled, lean, mean, board-certified neighborhood Bully. He will, no doubt, get knocked on his beazer, but at least I’ve done right by him as his Grandma, trainer, and sparring partner.

And so we greet and welcome this year. We have our blueprint. We do not want to stop the clocks. Nor do we delude ourselves that there won’t be issues, challenges, and circumstances we must confront. But engagement is a great purgative for the fears that haunt us. And, inspired by our grandson, we plan to battle for eminent domain this year with the same vigor as “Alphonse, The Moist!”

Love to all,

The Clot

Sunday, January 3, 2010


It is the end of the holidays, the end of the year, and end of the decade…and the end of my wits…an alarmingly short journey, by the way.

I am sitting here in a festered tri-polar stupor amidst the post-Christmas wreckage, eyes cracked and cavernous, staring at motes of dust, mind impenetrable and uncomprehending, skin pale yellow, gift wrapping in a dilapidated arrangement of rubble around my feet, face serenely blank…and looking SPOOOO-KEY!

But that’s not how I began the season. No sirreee. My veins were nearly curdled with the milk of human kindness. I was the Spirit of Christmas incarnate…THE Season Sorceress. That’s why I feel compelled to chronicle the events of the recent celebration before they are lost in the ravings of a Grandma gone lunatic.

I immersed myself in the festivities right after placing any evidence of Halloween on the funeral pyre. Carols gurgled from my throat like an underground stream of spring water. I lit hearth fires and Yule logs like a pyromaniac. I bellowed “Noel! Noel!” to startled strangers and frightened children. I chimed bells and mimed angels in suffocating peals of good will. I honored the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future as if they were the three Wise Men. And I carried Tiny Tim and his little crutch on my back as he monotonously droned “…bless us everyone.”

My White Elephants were whiter and elephantier than all the rest. I was aglow with peace on earth. My good will oozed from every orifice like mucus. I was a virtual hybrid of every adorable Christmas movie heroine from Rosemary Clooney to Judy Garland. I was confection perfection.

And then it happened…The Great Implosion…The COLOSSAL COLLAPSE.

It all began innocently enough. I simply asked Necie what she wanted Santa to bring for Christmas. And she responded with all the aggravated cuteness of Cindy Lou Who in rapid-fire Ralphie-speak, “A Zhu Zhu pet with a wheel, a rolling ball, a car, house and garage.”

Well, I stood all amazed and made a mental note to stop by Toys R Us sometime in the next few weeks and purchase said toy and attachments. No pressure. No hype.

What a no-brainer. This holiday would be like silk – smooth and slick. Christmas morning would be “Joan-ed” and go down with distinction as the “Most Amazing Christmas Extravaganza Ever!” hall of fame. I pictured myself humbly and demurely accepting the crowning accolades from an adoring and ever-grateful family, community, planet.

Now, you have to understand my relationship with Necie. Being our only granddaughter, our hearts are finely attuned to each other. She never forgets that one notable Christmas when she was sitting on my lap opening her gifts and began an unanticipated cookie toss, unparalleled in duration and volume. It was a perfect storm.

However, as a stroke of extreme good fortune, everything landed in my cupped hands, steaming, shiny and visceral, and down my particularly fashionable gay apparel I had just donned for the occasion. The boys’ haul narrowly averted being drenched in primordial slime, and Grandma was hailed by the grateful congregation as a hero, having salvaged and successfully defended Santa’s excessive chimney deposit.

From that moment on, Necie and I have shared a special bond – not necessarily blood sisters – but kindred spirits born through a warming squirt of viscous bodily fluids, nonetheless.

Necie has always considered The Incident an act of unqualified love, a badge of distinction and filial fidelity – that I would take a projectile for her – that I was and always will be, her own adoring emesis basin.

So it was imperative to perpetuate her belief in a magical, chuckling fat man by granting her the only entry on her “Dear Santa” list – a zhu zhu pet, et al.

Oh, the innocence of the old and infirm! That was before I knew the evil alien was impossible to find. It was the “Cabbage Patch” incarnation of the decade…of the entire 21st Century. It was rarer than the prehistoric warty-backed humberdinck, and not to be found in any legitimate store.

I tried to persuade Necie that perhaps Santa ran out of the toy, and maybe she should ask for an alternate selection on the menu. I pleaded my case, but Necie was steadfast in her confidence that Santa could do anything. And she reminded me I had always taught her to “BELIEVE!” (Curse the buttercups!)

Well, obviously I had no choice. After searching for the elusive prize everywhere from the inter net to naked men wearing trench coats in back alleys, I turned to the dark side. I morphed from Grandma Jeckyl to GRANNY HYDE! A macabre creation of a little girl’s with list.

Driven by a mindless force to procure a pet rodent, I went to the mattresses – diabolical and hostile. Forget good will toward men – those men were now competitors in a lottery for the coveted fur ball. I was willing to debase myself by clawing, elbowing, profaning, and inflicting bodily damage in a crazed Zhu Zhu Pet Smack Down; willing to go down in infamy as the anti-elf, an icon of greed and lust in a demonic paganistic buying orgy.

I rationalized that I would seek absolution in January – after I stuffed the hairy varmint in Necie’s stocking in December.

Dennis and I began haunting toy store parking lots like ghouls on a mission at unholy hours of dark, foggy mornings, baggy-eyed, foul-breathed, drooling. We became phantasmic specters of our former selves…not exactly your typical picture of nostalgia on a greeting card. It was rather like good holiday intentions gone terribly wrong in the lethal pursuit of THE TOY. I became a macabre hallucination of Mother Teresa transforming into Lady Macbeth.

It wasn’t pretty. Oh, the humanity! In the immortal words of Kathryn Hepburn, “Good golly! Why didn’t you sell tickets?!”

But then one foggy Christmas Eve, by mere happenstance and pulse pounding, we found and purchased the coveted item, and after paying $9.99, we raised it triumphantly aloft in demonic delight and laughed maniacally as lightning flashed and the heavens hurled down thunderbolts. (So that’s where “Ho Ho Ho!” originates!)

And then we drove home, catatonic and zombie-like.

I suppose at some point I will flagellate myself with the guilt stick for being corrupted by conspicuous and ritualistic lust for the material. But then I’ll salve my wounds with self-administered back-patting, knowing Necie’s belief in Santa will remain unchallenged and unaltered by the present, and narcissistic gluttony is once more preserved and perpetuated in a showcase of flagrant ethical regression.

I confess I am a little chagrined to think I began the holidays with holly in my heart and ended them as a tarnished and consciousless radical with no scruples or redeeming moral basis.

However, now Christmas ’09 belongs to the ages. Cosmic harmony has been restored. Our efforts at collective hallucination were successful. Gift opening rapidly degenerated from civil combat to total war in a blizzard of paper and ribbon so profuse, we very nearly had to impose instrument flight rule. And for once, even my culinary efforts kept gastric juices effervescing – at any rate, no one hurled.

As the final gift was gutted, all the adults took on the look of electrically shocked Chia Pets.

We had a splendid little Christmas, in spite of excessive celebration in our end zone.

Pulling off the holidays is the highest form of human endeavor, being held hostage to tradation, expectation, Norman Rockwell, and Necie…definitely not for the faint of heart.

We are declaring a holiday sabbatical for the next 11 months, when we’ll begin all over again. We pledge not to go “postal.”

But it’s the winter solstice, and more light is grafted onto each day. We are beginning a new year, a new decade, a new life. We have a blueprint for 2010. Our past will inspire but not haunt us.

So, Happy New Year to all our loved ones.


The Clot