Sunday, December 30, 2012

Less Miserable

Well, my address has officially been recorded in the annals of street coordinates as “Over the River and Through the Woods.”  I’m not sure just when that transition took place.  I suppose it occurred when I ascended the mountain to become “The Matriarch,” the Family Apex Swami.

Being Matriarch has its privileges.  Everyone seems anxious to help me cross the street.  But sometimes I don’t want to cross the street.  Sometimes I don’t even want to be out on the roads.  Visions of roadkill dance in my head. Nevertheless, as a courtesy to charitable people, sometimes I cross the street.  It’s lonely at the top.

Christmas was a triumph this year.  Wrapping blanketed the carpet like an inversion – a sort of post-Santa scorched earth.  In keeping with our policy of NO TRADITION LEFT BEHIND,  we succeeded in observing every teeny weeny custom since Dickens invented Scrooge, though there were times we looked less like Norman Rockwell and more like a Farley Family Christmas.  (I’ll post provocative pictures of Dave and Sam in their Christmas jammies.  I promise you’ll laugh till you moisten your tutu. In fact, I challenged Dave to wear his jammy-sweats to the clinic, but, surprisingly, he demurred, citing the fact that many of his patients already have weak hearts.)

For me, Christmas is a bi-polar holiday – manic-depressive/schizophrenic – “Merry Christmas”/”Bah, humbug.”  I’m sure it’s the season of my life as much as the season of the year.

I vacillate between a brain strangled with obligations of revelry, and the vacuous stupefaction of a glaciated mind.

I erratically indulge in the contagion of binge hall-decking, followed by the caloric terrorism of a remorseless, unrestrained Peeps and Twinkies rampage.  And then, bathrobed in a hunched bundle, I become defibrillator-dependent, relying on accommodating over-the-counter products to restore regular bowel function.  (I am in that sublime time of life when “comfort and joy” are a direct consequence of Preparation H and laxatives.)

Growing into widowhood is a mammoth task, a circumstance thrust upon me without prior consent or pre-nup.  It is a tangled and unchartered frontier that can snuff out all your Fa la la la las, and make you go all commando, channel your inner Gilgamesh, yank all your chestnuts off an open fire and retreat to a yurt in outer Mongolia.

The holidays are all 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 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 damage.  Sigh.

But it is a nostalgic time, a time for sweet recollection and contemplation. However, nostalgia is age appropriate.  I go way back.  I remember John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John before they were arthritic, surgically re-invented, or indicted for deviant behavior.

Of course, I begin each Yuletide Celebration with the loftiest ambition. I even consider preparing sugar plums as  a prelude to my homage to Currier and Ives.  And every year I go malignantly off-course.  Really.  It never changes. 

Recently I read what I’d written some years back, and realized the same thing occurs every twelve months, like a distorted video loop of “Ground Hog Day.” The annual ritualistic descent into debauchery has now become orthodox tradition.  Thus, I chronicle the yearly holiday downward spiral from rationality to debacle, and freely acknowledge I am a casualty of vanity and a weak mind.

This is how the days leading up to Christmas really come down.  Shield the eyes of the innocent.  This is graphic.
1.   Eat.  Pray.  Love.
2.  Eat.  Pray.  Clean.
3.  Eat.  Clean.  Shop.
4.  Shop.  Rush.  Decorate.  Clean again.
5.    Eat.  Eat.  Eat.
6.  Eat.  Decorate more to keep up with the neighbors.  Cry.  Curse.
7.  Buy.  Wrap.  Buy more to surpass the neighbors.  Collapse.
8.  Overspend.  Break budget on annual gift blizzard.  Go to debt counseling.
9.  Buy yet more.  Take out loan.  Attend weekly sessions of Over-spenders Anonymous.
10. Eat.  Weigh.  Cry.
11. Weigh.  Diet.  Curse.  Binge.  Splurge.  Purge.
12. Look in the mirror.  Become clinically depressed.  Call plastic surgeon.
13. Destroy all of Bing Crosby’s CD’s for the crime of auditory overload.  Blast TV with oozie after 10th re-run of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” while planting poison ivy in the underwear of every resident in Whoville, forcing them to yield to the moral superiority of brute force.  Make random threats to no one in particular while muttering incoherently.

14. Neuter Rudolph and single-handedly commit gender re-assignment on Santa’s entire team of reindeer.  Resist urge to waterboard all the residents of the North Pole.  (Commonly known as blurring ethical lines for a higher cause.)

15.  Curse the names of Norman Rockwell and Irving Berlin.  Start a rumor that every chestnut on every open fire and every sugar plum that dances in every head is contaminated with H1N1.  Begin singing duets with Brian David Mitchell.

16.  Break the drum of every little drummer boy on the planet.  Maniacally proclaim myself the greatest astrophysicist ever.  Run naked down the street bellowing, “Santa is a fleshy fraud, and we’re all going to die!”

17.  Eat.  Cry.  Apologize to Santa and plead for more Zoloft.
18.  Swear.  Swear.  Swear – while eating.
19. Deck more halls.  Deck fellow shoppers.  Go home with migraine.
20. Seek forgiveness.  Join 12-step program for harsh language addiction.  Enter rehab for the criminally profane.

Christmas can be ennobling, and next year I resolve to be more ennobled and “Less Miserable.”

 Our Family thought it would be a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful Christmas day by going to see “Les Miz.”  After the movie, Carter made the rather keen observation that whoever sang, died.  He’s so astute.  There did seem to be a pattern. So we have since made a collective tribal decision to salute one another with a vociferous “Opa!” and suspend launching into a lusty rendition of “Bring Him Home” until we get an Accuscan and a clean bill of health from our doctors.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Carol

I have postponed posting a blog.  It seems appropriate in the light of such darkness.

Our collective tranquility has been amputated.  We have been ravaged.  We are disheveled by the sorrow viewed through a prism of tears of the family tableaux branded on our conscience by the recent occurrence in Connecticut.   

The magnitude of such events is unquantifiable and claustrophobic.  In the confounding grip of unfathomable wounds, we search in vain for words to express raw emotions.  Severance leaves us speechless.

There is a pronounced illiteracy to grief.

In numbed stillness, we lack the ability to reorganize our minds, and suffer woeful fatigue.  The dark has thickened, bleak and desolate.  It is impossible to understand a part let alone have a sense of the whole.

The national vocabulary increased collectively by 3 last week:  “Glock,” “Sig Saur,” “Bushmaster.”
All the desiccated words that have been disgorged cannot blot them out. 

Children are learning the alphabet in multiples of three:  NRA.  Magazines are no longer what we read as mindless pastime.  Mathematical equations center on numbers attached to assault weapons.

We all own pieces of the wreckage.

But there has also arisen an exquisite tribal order – an order of humanity for the sole purpose of endurance through this dark labyrinth of bereavement.  We “connect.”

Words can leave vapor trails.  Interjecting multiple “very’s” and numerous “so’s” does not empower declaratives for sufficient expression.  Milton himself lacks authority to chronicle such hollow purposelessness.  It is impossible to speak the unspeakable. 

Silence, on the other hand, penetrates the soul – a quiet cataloging of grief.  Hushed moments of meditation and reflection are our voice, our articulation, our balm.  

We have witnessed the nobility of the meek.

The winter solstice will arrive shortly, and a portion of illumination will be grafted onto the succeeding days that will disperse the darkness and salve and heal the gaping wounds that afflict us nationally and personally.

We will mend cell by cell, when blessed amnesia mutes the horror, and we can recall once more that before the slaughter of the innocents, a Child was born.

We will remember that the tomb was empty, the manger full.

Sing Noel. Perhaps nothing more needs to be said.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Detours and Distractions

It’s ironic that the darkest quadrant of the year houses the season that celebrates the greatest historical light.  Perhaps The Universal Prevailing Wisdom would intentionally prevent spiritual atrophy from a glut of inky shadow and feeble despondency by a flood of brightness from unusual astronomical manifestations.

I rather welcome the radiant coziness of a hearth in winter.  It seems designated for protracted contemplation suppressed during glorious lilac springs and warmer months of light and heat.  Summer is suffused with distractions and detours not conducive to musing.  Heat that could poach us alive muffles reflection and leaves me a rather dull study.  Thought becomes shallow in too much sun.  It’s easy to become mentally muggy.

But being a mindless mollusk is packed with consequence. With the arrival of autumn, I begin to “brain without restraint.”  Misguided neurological transmitting can be the sum of all evils!  Scary.

So I have scaled back on questioning of late.  Unusual for me.  I’m guilty of inordinate inquiry, probing and trolling for answers that routinely prove elusive. It seems that whenever I spew whys and wherefores, it is from a perspective of anger and petulance. I become belligerent and defiant. I am not seeking answers so much as bawling tantrums heavenward.  This violates a larger order, and light leeches away from me.  Such disconnect.  Consequently, I become incapable of stepping up to what might be required of me. That is counter-productive.

But questioning leaves me weary, (What else exhausts like sustained sorrow?) and often the answers are as counterfeit as the inquiries. 

I have to continue on my pilgrimage from here.  I cannot afford detours, especially those that become quicksand.  We are obligated to be happy.

I have learned so many things.  It’s a process.  I am by no means a savant. 

However, much of that knowledge I have gained, I’ve had to grow into. Growth is difficult and slow. Understanding arrives more with patient grace than with rocket force.

Perhaps the quest for Simple Healing brings its own comprehension.  I guess that’s sufficient wisdom.

I do believe that to be resilient, one must be distracted regularly.  And so I am particularly thankful for grandchildren, doctors’ appointments, and imbicilic sensationalism disguised as journalistic “breaking news.” 

I have tried to schedule all my check-ups and procedures until after December 21st, when, according to the Mayan calendar, Doomsday will arrive.  Apparently solar storms and toxic leaks are expected, the earth will collide with the planet Niburu, and there will be a robust shift in the earth’s magnetic orb…and I won’t have to have those two cavities filled or go for a colonoscopy.  Glory Hallelujah!  Procrastination  has its privileges! 

Personally, I embrace any diversion from royal reproduction obsession that will redirect the attention of the universe back to the things of greatest consequence where it belongs…like Tom and Katie’s divorce.   What knocked that off the front page anyway?  Hurricane Sandy?  The Presidential election?  The fiscal cliff, and whether we will all have to sell a kidney to buy a loaf of bread?  Psshhah!  Journalistic malfeasance.

Oh, there is such unintended humor in celebrity sensation, vacant minds and small thoughts.  But at least it prevents us from indulging in wanton cogitation with a glut of the shabby, vulgar and prurient.

But the best way to shut and latch the door against brooding and the witless pursuit of answers, is watching a platoon of diminutive gangsters assault my Christmas tree with ornaments, unrestrained merriment and total lack of aptitude.

When the flurry of decorating was accomplished to their satisfaction, I noticed vast expanses of desolate Christmas tree wilderness, vague and spectral, where resided nary an ornament nor light bulb.  The garlands were tangled and suspended vertically from the top of the tree – like festive streamers on a Maypole. Such joy in Whoville. The kids gathered round the branches and regarded it in wonder and awe. (I was also in shock.)  I’d love to say we joined hands and sang carols around the tree, like a painting right out of Norman Rockwell.  But alas.  It was more like a brawl right out of the wrestling channel of adolescents high on gingersnaps and soda pop. I began muttering short declarative sentences like, “Don’t eat the dog food!” And, “It’s only a flesh wound!  No stitches required!”  It was all good.

It’s quite the loveliest tree.  Euphoria and effervescence pre-empt expertise.

As time goes by, I better understand that it is good to survive, but imperative to adapt.  One must adapt to prevail.         

And adaptation demands distraction.  One cannot rely solely on excessive caloric intake and caffeine buzz for holiday cheer.  Six little warriors flinging themselves at each other like cannon balls in gleeful combat is potent diversion when one may be tempted toward dubious query counter-intuitive to better judgment.

Dennis would be pleased.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blue Tuesday

It is not easy to emerge from episodes of heartache thinking clearly.  Each tender memory can return unannounced with graceless vengeance in spite of one’s strictest resolve.  I am not always adept at managing my corporeal self with its quiet anguish.
And so I have anticipated Thanksgiving with hollow dread.  I strive to maintain to my Tribe that nothing has changed even though everything is different, and we will observe traditions and rituals with ruthless determination and unrestrained rejoicing. 
But I tread carefully so as to censor any reference to sorrows that could trigger a relapse into a swollen knot of viscous grief or occipital tsunami.
What I had not calculated into this whole equation of maternal cushioning were the specifics of these children.  Case in point: most unexpectedly, Beckham, our six-year-old, said quietly, “I miss Beboss.”
 So simple.  So healing.  So endearing.
I exhaled. 
There was a chorus of “Me, too’s” and “So do I’s.”  And our Thanksgiving feast proceeded unencumbered by emotional delicacies.
It’s funny how those you housebreak, light the way.
I found myself thinking every day should be Thanksgiving.
And in the spirit of the season – that is, the narcissistic, self-indulgence of unfettered egotistical bloat – I thought I’d pre-empt the Black Friday crush and do some shopping on Blue Tuesday.
What was I thinking???!!!
I don’t know why I supposed I could spend an entire weekend as an alpha predator with my nose in the feed bag, followed by a tryptophan stupor in which I alternately resumed sufficient consciousness to pound down one more forkful of pie with the unfettered vigor of a ravenous Cro-Magnon, (and utter disregard for my future welfare), and think I could fit into any item of clothing not purchased at Triple A Tent and Awning.  Credit me with an error.
I eagerly…and stupidly…took several items of clothing into the dressing room at Nordstrom’s, and removed my outfit.
HOLY STUFFING!  Who just upped my critical mass???
I looked at myself in total disbelief.  There before me was the reflection of a perpendicular Twinkie with so many extra folds and convolutions, I looked like a cross between a geriatric Gollum and the Brain That Wouldn’t Die!
I had become the virtual embodiment of those humorous greeting cards with old women misshapen with age and rearranged geography, cobbled, glacial and ropey.  My entire body appeared to have been dry brining for a decade.  All I was lacking was the punch line. 
 I looked like a confidante of Moses.
I was sure I had been sucked down an unholy vortex of flab, a casualty of descending magnetic anomalies. 
I watched as my face emptied.  My cheeks lacked oxygenation.  My jaws slackened in shock.  I nearly retched.  I barely overcame my primal instinct to swear.
I gasped audibly.
And then a cute young, well-sculpted sales girl, with perky and exaggerated endowments (sternum gigantums) asked sweetly if I was OK.
I sputtered, “No! I am NOT OK! I have aggravated reflection distortion disorder! Something is wrong with your mirrors!” 
She was condescending and reassured me that it seems to be a condition many women of my generation experience.  She then suggested diplomatically I might want to browse the “burqa-chic” department, located beyond the “squat-and-square” rounders, just next to the “broadened horizons” rack.  (The little Gila monster!) It was a flagrant case of generational sales debauchery.
I declined the offer. I was so angry.  My ego was perforated, and I wrestled with my better angels not to indulge in conduct (or language) unbecoming a grandma. 
All I wanted to do was collect my shredded dignity, swallow a cocktail of “Tag-Away” and fermaldehyde, wallow in pity, and finish off the remaining half of the suicide-by-chocolate pie.
I suppose I must learn to overcome obstacles of my own making.
So I cursed the whole concept of holiday shopping and decided to spend the Thanksgiving weekend opening “aging generation population” mailings persuading me that now is the time to purchase the hearing aids I’ve been coveting, or to come in for a “swift lift” on my lunch hour, or install guard rails around my toilet so I don’t fall in.
I guess as a baby-boomer emeritus, I am a member of the age of arrogant gullibility.  Check your vanity at the door, Joni.
But just recently, I learned that “blessed” means “Oh, the happiness.”  Lovely.
Forget Black Friday. 
I am truly blessed. If gratitude is the highest form of thought, I’ll spend my time counting my blessings, not my purchases…and rejoice.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sweet November


The witch is dead.  Halloween is over at last!  Hallelujah.  Praise the Calendar!

And I am happily cocooned in November.  November is a cozy month.  I crave fluffy slippers, warm wassail, high-necked, long-sleeved, and amorphous flannel nightgowns masochistically designed to obscure all gender indicators of this body I inhabit.  (I often wonder how Victoria’s Secret models keep warm in winter, but then I remember that massive quantities of concentrated industrial strength silicone are excellent heat conductors.  Unfortunately, those of us oozing mere organic cellulite without said global warming properties are woefully ill-equipped to survive the frozen tundra.)

Ah, but I digress.  It comes as no surprise to those who know me, that Halloween and I are adversaries by mutual consent.  I suppose it’s mainly because it was five years ago that very night Dennis was diagnosed.  Since then, I’ve always considered the holiday an ugly Rosemary’s Baby in a year otherwise saturated with delightful, peculiar and farcical occasions begging for their own Hallmark card section.

By reciprocal troths, blood pledges, and sworn pinky oaths, the family decided not to acknowledge this particular milestone.  It could launch us into dark regions haunted by demons more fearful than ghosties, ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.   We are committed to celebrating only lovely things, or events whose commemorative confections have chocolate as their main ingredient.

So that night we averted our eyes and passed out warm scones, hot dogs, apple cider, hot chocolate, and loitered in close proximity to each other waiting for the day to pass.  I suppose some specters will always be constant companions.  I own that. But carpet-bombing our personal landscape with a flood of light helps.

I had considered being a reticulated python for the evening as my disguise of choice for the evening.  They are admirably sleek and quintessentially powerful…like my inner-self on steroids.  But then I thought better of it. I was afraid I’d look like a missile in spandex, and I feared I’d be viewed as the absurdity I’ve been trying so desperately to avoid.

So I donned my usual nose wart and fake fat butt, and morphed into my alter ego – a witch.  I don’t know why this personality alternative is so agreeable.  I’m certainly better at spelling that casting spells.  But I can lob a pretty competent stink-eye and conjure some amazing potions from a cauldron that would rival any Weird Sister in Macbeth.  Hey, we all play to our strengths.  I don’t cackle, but I can  catapult some impressive indelicacies and ribaldries when provoked.  I can accomplish such feats of wonder all while vivaciously humming “Om” in the lotus position.  Conjuring is best accomplished when in a state of serenity.

Actually, witches are intriguing.  They travel in covens, and are fiercely independent, not unlike the line of women in my genealogy.  Recently my cousin reminded me we are descended from a long line of strong women.  You’re telling me!  I was raised by a single mother whose maiden name is Dorrity.  That fact alone could strike fear in the hearts of anyone foolish enough to risk confrontation.  She would issue edicts, mandates, proclamations and statutes bearing inherent mandatory compliance codes.  Woe to the offspring imprudent enough to challenge her authority.  I did…once.  Musta had a death wish.  I’d rather be flung into a compost heap of rotting detritus than disregard my Mom’s declared curfew.  Ramifications were swift and just.  Recovery took longer.  ‘Nuff said. 

But when there’s trouble, I want to be firmly centered in the nucleus as these Dorrity women circle the wagons. 

I’m paraphrasing from “Wicked” now.  “Some travel by bubble and some by broomstick.”  It might be thought that traveling by bubble is the preferable mode of transportation.  The view is panoramic, and one is insulated, solitary and safe.  But being true to my legacy of female progenitors, I’m learning to navigate a broomstick.  It’s an excellent vehicle by which to negotiate through this life of turbulence and unstable atmospheric conditions. What a ride!  Being safe is not nearly as fun.  My foremothers flew without safety nets.  I’ll fasten my safety belt.  It’s sure to be a bumpy ride!

Recently, while cruising on my stick and leaving a vapor trail of psychic after-burn from ingesting a glut of triglycerides, I was once more confronted with crisis.  I had just installed a security system, yielding to the advice of those who thought that harsh language alone was not enough to deter a flash mob that might try to invade my habitat with malicious intent.  Funny, it’s always worked before.  Seriously, couldn’t I just sprinkle cornflakes on the floor and then call 9-1-1- when I heard crunching?  It’s quite efficient.  If there were no intruders, breakfast would be ready.  But nevertheless, I called the Big Brother Benevolent Protective Agency and spoke directly to Guido, The Thumb Breaker.   Within hours, the system was installed, and I was given meticulous instructions as to how to arm and dis-arm the network. 

Well, I was determined to engage my high-tech installment, and I pushed the button on the remote.  A big red icon of an intruder being strangled by Daniel Craig blazed gloriously next to the silhouette of a damsel tied to railroad tracks on the key pad, and I was reassured I was safe.

All was well, until the moment I forgot I’d pressed the red “planetary catastrophe” button that would trigger an invasion of Russia, and attempted to go out the door for the newspaper.  Bells, sirens, whistles, and high-pitched sounds only dogs could hear pierced the atmosphere in an unholy cacophony that thrust Beelzebub himself from Hades. 

It startled me so badly, I began running in concentric circles shrieking, “I’ll have ranch!” and trying to retain my bodily fluids, while waiting for the SWAT team expecting a hostage situation to burst in with oozies and command me to move away from the remote and nobody gets hurt.  I just wanted to throw myself over the fiscal cliff.

Well, I unleashed a linear order of colorful vulgarisms that would have established me as the “alpha orator” of the entire Dorrity Tribe, and rendered the Rainbow after Noah’s Flood pale and anemic by contrast.  (Actually, my mob of foremothers would have been gratified.)

Happily, it is the policy of the security system operators to issue a three-day “There’s-a-peculiar-little-widow-at-the-end-of-the-lane-with-the-aggravated-dumb-who-can’t-brain-enough-to-figure-out-how-to-disengage-her-newly-installed-alarm-system” alert.  This is intended to prevent consumptive humiliation of said widow before Salt Lake’s finest.  It’s also known as the “Major Screw-Up Forgiveness” Clause.  Crisis resolved.

I am determined to declare a “good neighbor policy” pact with my snow blower and count my blessings of sweet abundance as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  I suggested that we commute the sentence of some hapless turkey and go vegan for this year’s annual feast.  My family just looked at me with benign indulgence, so I suppose we’ll adhere to established and time-honored traditions. 
As autumn declines, I exult in an inner season of peace and accord and replenishment. 

But woe to anyone unwise enough to risk breaching the security system of a woman descended from a long line of strong women!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Due to deference, default, death, or just plain sucky circumstances, I am a Matriarch.  No, not A matriarch – THE MATRIARCH. 

Now, mind you, this is not a position I sought after or campaigned for.  No.  No.  This triumphant metamorphosis was thrust upon me unbidden.  I am reluctantly perched atop this peak.  I am the dominant clan member, the titular head of the family, the woman of veneration to the posse, the Apex Enforcer to those in a direct line of descent.

I am glaringly unqualified.  One must matriculate before ascending this summit. One can assume the mantle only under the most rigorous of specific pre-conditions.  I reiterate.  I am lacking in credentials.

These conditions include but are not limited to the following:

1.       Maturity.  One must be ripe with mellow warmth, sweetness and a soft, squishy center – like a pear haloed in fruit flies, just before it’s consigned to the trash can.

2.       The very word, “matriarch,” conjures visions of rounded shoulders,  ladies distinguished as dowdy, frumpy, slightly disheveled, and sportin’ radioactive temple breath.

3.       When I think of Matriarch, I think of Queen Elizabeth, the Monarch of Great Britain, a staid and grand lady, slightly bent and forever carrying a purse.  Or Dame Maggie Smith, the Dowager Emeritus of Downton Abbey, who spits so many rapid-fire put-downs in ever-so proper English, she nearly busts her tightly-corseted bustier and saturates the atmosphere with cryptic and cutting candor.  There is nothing like a dame!

4.       Finally, a matriarch must be set in her ways, unyielding in her preferences, bellicose, like a gargoyle from every pinnacle of the mansion.

Not me.  That’s simply not me.

However, I passed a mirror.  That brought a flood of unattractive and shabby reflections.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized maybe, just maybe, I am rather set in my ways.  I do have preferences that, when violated, I take offense. I can be provoked into spontaneous combustion and have been known to emit warning sounds reminiscent of the Madagascar hissing cockroach.

So I made a list of things I like and things I don’t like.  Sure enough…my age is betrayed by carbon dating.  I am stubborn.  I am set in my ways.  But they are the only true and living ways, so I stick by them without apology.

Pronouncement:  All leaders, in order to be truly great, should have ovaries.  It’s better to endure hot flashes than nuclear melt-down.

So here is my catalogue, my personal inventory, the laundry list of things that could trigger carpet bombing necessitating first-responders should anyone risk death by stupidity for perpetuating my displeasure.

Things I don’t like:

Halloween, haunted houses, hash tags, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I like: 

Gangnam, old movies, harvest time, Rafa Nadal.

Don’t like:

TV Awards programs, reality shows, prune juice.


Bubble gum, platinum blond hair, wedding dresses, soccer games when I have DNA playing on the team.

Don’t like:

Naked royals, cannibals, Geico ads, politics.


Ethics, Lincoln, Coke Zero, Rafa Nadal.

Don’t like:

Prune juice, TV ads for products with animated characters of mucus, constipation, or toenail fungus, shots, politics, Kardashians, and mean people.


Good books, Henry IV Part I, nice people, more Coke Zero (It’s now been de-criminalized.)

Absolutely Hate:


I suppose I have come to terms with my new identity.  I am qualified.  I am set in my ways.

Ovaries, Unite!  Matriarchs should rule the world.  It’s the most efficient use of leadership. It is the way the universe was designed.

Advice to those who would appease the Apex Matriarch:  Adhere to the Stockholm Syndrome – identify with the beast, and no one gets hurt.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why Can't Vaccines be Pointless?

OK.  So.  I got my flu shot.  No.  Correction.  Not JUST my flu shot.  I also got a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (for pneumonia and multiple sugars), a diphtheria and pertussis vaccine (so I don’t spontaneously break out in mindless whooping and hollering), and a tetanus booster (so lockjaw does not inhibit my incessant stream of consciousness).

It was an ordeal.

I entered the facility with foreboding.  In the parking lot outside was a flatbed whose cargo was comprised of syringes the size of the Alaskan pipe line. It was every needle-phobiac’s worst nightmare.  The anticipation filled me with dread and trembling.

I miss Dennis.  He would take me to unpleasant procedures such as this and assure me I would neither puke nor projectile faint.  He had the power of suggestion, and I always believed him.  Consequently, I did neither.  However, he often neglected to remind me not to swear, which I did prolifically, frequently inventing new sequences for old obscenities with each injection.  For some reason, Dennis never appeared chagrined or humiliated.  In fact, he seemed amused at my gift for articulating the profane. It pleased me to make him proud.  In the whole anatomy of life, he made me feel buxom.

Prior to that long, lonesome drive to purgatory, I concentrated on hydrating myself.  I don’t know why exactly.  It just seemed like a good idea at the time.  It was only as I was strapped into the procedure chair with no visible means of escape, that I realized what a really bad idea hydration was.  So many prayers of late pivot around remaining continent.

Allison, the tech, detected my apprehension.  Perhaps it was the bulging cartoon eyes protruding from a face contorted into an African war mask.  Penetrating feloniously spasmodic muscle layers with her pitiless needle appeared doubtful under the circumstances.  Her efforts to distract me from impending doom were counterintuitive and purely ornamental.  I was sure we were at an impasse.

I’m a little embarrassed in hind sight.  It’s strange how one’s perception of oneself is at odds with actuality.  I was determined to approach this ordeal like a Tibetan Warrior Monk, a veritable cinder-block fortress of disembodied heroism, simmering with power and unlimited possibility, a welterweight werewolf under a full moon, with the talons of a bird of prey, lean, spare, and coiled…stupid with human endurance.  I.  AM.   WOMAN.

Ah, despite the resolution, the flesh was weak.

But then Allison performed a brilliant tactical maneuver.  It was simple really.  She merely mentioned  she’d read Brodi’s book, and could I tell her more about the characters and on whom they were based. 

Well, it was a game-changer.  I began to talk, confessing things I swore never to reveal in a shameless expose.  I told every confidence except where they hid Jimmy Hoffa’s remains.  As I rambled on, I could feel the tension go out of my neck.  My entire torso morphed into post-Dennis flab, drooping and sagging down the side of the chair like pulsating glacial slag until it puddled in a shiny mound of pink gelatinous petroleum jelly at my feet…like Mick Jagger’s lips melted in a bunson burner.

Allison was then able to puncture my ceps (I was unable to determine if they were “bi” or “tri,”) and inject the magic fluid to my entire bodily regions.  And it was done.  Mission accomplished.  I was inoculated!

At the conclusion, I wanted to celebrate with relief.  I felt like I’d just been liberated from my emotional long winter woollies.  I wanted to boing around like I was in a moon bounce.

In my euphoria, I suggested some sort of closing ceremony was warranted…perhaps with arm splints and the Purple Heart. Allison felt strongly that four Scooby Do boo-boo strips and an Angry Bird sticker was reasonable.  I conceded.

Best of all, throughout the whole ordeal, I never uttered a single vulgarity – not even one.  Boo Yah!

So bring on the planet, with its pertussises, polysaccharides and conjugations.  I’m ready.

I think Dennis would be proud.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Masters Degree

Sometimes healing involves chasing phantoms.  Memories and emotions haunt and can enslave the psyche with after-images on the retina.  Other times, recollections are a calming presence that quiets the mind with the understanding that I am fine…that it’s OK to forget about things for a while.  And so I do.

I am very nearly always OK.

I have heard it said that if you want to be good at something, you find a master.  Shakespeare said, “Everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”

Shakespeare never met Carter.

Well, I could live in a nest of wizards and wise men and never arrive at the intrinsic nature of the human experience so well as having a sleep-over with our grandson, Carter.  He is a creator and a wordsmith.  His brilliance always dispels my dullness.

I can be a tangled ganglion of dualities, complexes and contradictions.  I can pound my bulk down the pavement, battling fear and anxiety, searching for a small measure of deranged tranquility.  And then Carter arrives with his imaginative universe, re-organizes my cranium and conducts me into the brave new world of my own mind.

And we play.

Carter entertains me with his kinetic talking.  His mind is a network of psychic energy…a lightning rod for the paranormal.  It’s the Tao of Carter.

We begin every adventure with timed trials in competitive eating, which is our privilege as apex predators of fast food and pizza home delivery.  “Pop-top thumb” is a natural consequence  of opening copious cans of root beer to guzzle throughout the course of the evening.  As soon as our basic survival needs are met… and exceeded…the fun begins.

We invent worlds without end and universes without rationale or reason, populated by inhabitants with alien protoplasm, melon-heads, and human growth hormones.  Of course, there is always a measure of foul slime waiting to suck us into its depths.

Carter considers me a kindred spirit with a degree of competency.  He is generous.  I work hard not to disillusion him.  But I do acknowledge his ingenuity is often as ungraspable as a Zen Master’s riddles.

One day, he seemed to be talking in tongues.  It was akin to a medieval language.  His fantasy universe centered on pawns, minions, peasants, beasts, shields, dragon-slayers and lairs. There are a lot of “forsooths,” “quoth he’s,” and “over yonders.”  We even got out the marbles and played “Bowling for Serfs.”   Well, I got so caught up in it all, I began to quote Chaucer in my best middle English:        


Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Carter was duly impressed and asked which video game I got that from.  I told him it was called “The University of Utah Master’s Program.”  He just smiled.

We are inventive in creating our empire.  We have the “Pillow of Death,” the dragon-slaying bobbie pins, the cottonball of mercy and the Q-tip of justice.  Things that might appear commonplace to the uninspired. 

Our mission is a holy crusade to vanquish evil, avenge the despicable, and eradicate fiends, demons and adversaries. 

Above all, Carter admonished me never to be “strongless.”
Hmmmm.  Strongless, you say?

Yes, strongless.  If you are strongless, you are in danger of becoming “courageless” and  “weakful.”  It diffuses your power.
I thought about that for a long time.  I do not want to be strongless, courageless, or weakful.  I cannot afford to have my power diffused.  I concluded I would harness Carter’s philosophy and go out into the world bold and confident as I face my demons and dragons.  I will NOT go over to the Dark Side.

The other day, my son-in-law advised that I need to get shots for flu, whooping cough, pneumonia and tetanus.  Really??!!!  Are you sure???  CRAP!  Deep in the private chambers of my soul, I dread the whole idea.  It makes me whine and use obscenities. But I have learned to be intrepid and gritty from the Master of Valor, and I will not disappoint.  Tomorrow morning I will use my powder puff of Might and my blush of Right. I will clean my teeth with the dental floss of Truth.  And then, like Don Quixote, I will run where the brave dare not go, face my fears, and conquer the malevolent Superbugs of the Universe.  I will not shrink from my appointed rounds.  I will enter Dave’s clinic, confront his nurse, and with a robust voice of beefy determination proclaim, “HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT!”  And then I will leave the exam room, trailing streams of glory like smoky vapor on the horizon. 

Crap.  I just hope I remain continent.

Becoming master of one’s self is a daunting task.  But I am determined to prevail.  I owe it to my young Yoda, Carter.  However, due to scheduling conflicts and prior commitments on my day-planner, eradicating fiends, demons and adversaries is extremely inconvenient at the moment.  I may postpone becoming my own Master until next week, when Dave’s nurse is on vacation. 




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Prune Juice and Equilibrium

Autumn is singular.  It is the only time of the year with a name and an “aka.”  You can always predict the exact moment autumn arrives.  We do not ease into this season as with the others.  It accosts the world precisely at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of school.  It is abrupt and unmistakable and startling. 

Its entrance is heralded annually by a homogenous collection of children sporting new clothes, new backpacks, new braces, and new teeth – all under a canopy of sun-streaked hair and bronzed faces.  In attendance are mothers sporting tears and relief.

Summer careened by with cold-blooded speed, leaving my catalog of well-intentioned adventures woefully undischarged.

I do not sleep well the night prior to the beginning of school.  Never did.  I’m preoccupied perfecting my saber-rattling and flapping my excessive arm flab to ward off bad karma regarding my tribe.  I once saw a warning posted on a trail we were hiking in Washington.  It read:  “BEWARE!  There are new elk calves all along the Hoh River trail.  You may be perceived as a predator.  If you are chased by the mother, run until she stops chasing you…and then a little further.”  The same can be said about grandmas.  Personally, I’d rather hazard an encounter with a whole herd of mother elk than confront one protective matriarch.

Anyway, Monday morning, as per tradition, I arose at an insomniacally imbecilic hour and prepared for this annual rite of passage.  I successfully fogged a mirror without cracking it, so I felt confident enough about my personal body mass to proceed.  I dressed quickly and hurried to meet my grandkids for the tri-generational migration to school. 

All week I’d rehearsed my taut, maternal “everything’s-going-to-be-all-right/aren’t-we-having-fun?” smile, but only succeeded in looking like an over-caffeinated Cheshire cat.

Upon seeing each child safely into class, I loitered outside the rooms, my heart a little bruised.  This year is the same as all years prior…but not quite.

And then I went home to try to dislodge the smile that spasmodic muscles held unrelentingly frozen.

And re-gain my equilibrium.

I’m unclear just how to re-gain one’s equilibrium.  It’s so easily lost, but not found.

So I asked Auntie Fern, my darling 96-year-old aunt whom I adore, what her secret is.  How does she stay healthy, centered, balanced, harmonious?  She is the Dorrity Family Yoda.  Surely, she has THE ANSWER.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she replied, “Prune juice.”

Not sure I had heard correctly, I asked incredulously, “Prune juice?”

She reiterated with enthusiastic accentuation, “PRUNE. JUICE.”

Then she launched into an infomercial endorsement of this magical elixir, this nectar of the gods, with unrestrained rapture, making claims of health benefits worthy of Sham Wow testimonials!

Well, who am I to take issue with someone who once changed my diapers?  She has always been my  mentor, my consultant, my tutor.  Why, once she explained the technique of wringing the neck of a chicken with such vivid, graphic clarity, complete with appropriate hand gestures, sound effects, and chicken-face miming, that my nerves were left in tatters, and I went clammy. I threatened to go vegen.  “Colonel Sanders” is now the anti-foul, and “chicken tenders” a vulgarity.

Auntie Fern assured me that my life would not only have harmony, but regularity.  And harmony and regularity constitute equilibrium.

Well, I was convinced.  I became a believer.  It all sounded so simple, and never at any time of my life do I need harmony and regularity more than I do now.  I became a juice-totin’, hand-clapping, hallelujah-singing convert of “The Potion.”

I sipped from the grail. 

At first, nothing happened.  I began to suspect that I’d been a casualty of gullibility and a delusional aunt.

But then – Harmony hit Regularity with a vengeance.  I couldn’t leave the house for three days.  Auntie Fern was right.  I have never been healthier.  Being quarantined, I wasn’t exposed to a germ – or another human being – for nearly a week.  Ergo, I never contracted a cold, West Nile virus, or the plague.

“The Cure,” however, can be isolating and solitary, and I am a reluctant recluse.  So I now sing the praises of the prune with diminished vigor.

That’s powerful stuff.  You can’t control it.  You can only adjust.

So I think from now on I will seek equilibrium from alternative sources than from juice that could blister paint.

Recently, I saw a card with a wise man sitting atop a mountain.  He says, “Life is simple.  We are born.  We have birthdays.  We shrink.” 

Shrink, heck.  I shrivel.  I am beginning to resemble a prune.

But I’ve also heard it said that the wrinklier the prune, the sweeter the fruit.  I will own that.

 I will search for equilibrium in other places.  I am tired.  I will sit in the autumn sun, let my mind wander, and listen to my thoughts, should any materialize.  I will procrastinate.  I will pursue coherency and see if I can establish a new pattern.  And claim my own space.

I will contemplate the efficacy of a diet of chicken and prune juice.  And I will trust that autumn will bring renewed balance, solace and equilibrium in all things familiar.