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.