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!