Monday, January 28, 2013

Higher State of Reasoning

Motherhood is an enigma.  In spite of being an eyewitness to the phenomenon and an alpha contributor, I don’t fully comprehend its biomechanics.  Carrying a baby to term and subsequently giving birth, changes a woman.  We become endowed with predatory instincts dating back to Cro-Magnon designed to defend the primordial mound against any assailants who might most unwisely inflict pain or injury to said offspring.

Of course, on any given day, most mothers are luminously transparent with the milk of human kindness, an inward radiance that haloes us with a serene and majestic glory that is the stuff of verses in Mother’s Day cards.  Blah blah blah

However, when a mother senses danger, we morph into carnivorous bi-peds, with disproportionate upper torsos and small, tearing teeth perfectly engineered for ripping raw flesh.  In short, we become gladiatorial.

Now I mention this for one reason only.  Brodi’s most recent book received rave reviews, primarily from her own mother, and those who were unfortunate victims of extortion from Guido, The Thumbbreaker.

Nevertheless, one reviewer from the Deseret News, said that they liked her second book, in spite of the “over-the-top romance.”  This critic just could not believe that teenagers were capable of such intense commitment or involvement.

Really?  REALLY???!!! 

Now before I launch into a matriarchal rant, I will harness my inner gladiator, mop up the incisor drool, sheath the claws, holster my Second Amendment flame thrower, suppress my alterego, Cruella DeVille,  and cease creating crop circles to entrap this reviewer’s new puppy.

I pledge to smile while experiencing the grim facial contortion of an outraged Mom, even if that smile consists mostly of pulling my lips back from my teeth in a snarl.

Yes, I will rebut this columnist’s observation with Downton Abbey-esque discipline, maintaining decorum and cosmic order for the common good, and eschew language and tacky gestures that might bring shame and dishonor upon the household.

I will not be vindictive.    

All righty.  Let’s proceed.

Soooo, Brodi’s characters have an “over-the-top romance,” huh?

Let’s just take a look and see if there are any historical precedents of teenagers who are “over the top.”

1.    1.  Cleopatra was barely 18 when she became ruler of Egypt, disposed of her siblings who were the products of too much Ptolymeic inbreeding, seduced Caesar, bore a son, and formed a powerful alliance with Rome.

2.     2.  Alexander The Great had conquered the world, executed tens of thousands, ruled by tyranny and died (probably from exhaustion) when he was barely out of his teens.

3.     3.  Of course, there’s that little drama by a playwright that this critic may not have heard of…William Freakin’ Shakespeare…called “Romeo and Juliet.”  Those two met, fell in love, married, and died within the space of about 15 minutes.  You want over-the-top romance?  Talk to the Bard!

4.     4.  And who could forget Snooki? 

There has been a long line of visions and pre-pubescent visionaries who have altered the course of history.  I find it totally within the realm of credulity that a character might battle the forces of the underworld to retrieve someone she loves.  It’s the stuff of legends.

 Aaaah.  I feel better now.

Brodi’s book launch was Tuesday night.  And I can say without reservation, it was a success. 

But through the years, I have come to better understand the subtly nuanced nature of “success.”  It is a multi-layered concept.  Rarely is a single individual solely responsible for his or her own achievements.

We humans are some of the most cooperative and communal of all primates.  It is our very solidarity that is our defense in this fang-filled world.  We stick together.

Tuesday night, once again, it was not just about the book.  Loved ones gathered.  Yes, Brodi’s book was the reason, but not the sole purpose.

There is a phenomenon in nature known as the “alert circle.”  I love this.  When a herd of animals must rest, they form a circle.  And each head of each member is oriented in a different direction.  Ergo, if there is danger, it is detected immediately, and the one member can alert the others.  It is a survival tactic.  But it is also social.

So it was Tuesday night.  There was a blending of family, friends and loved ones.  We gathered to celebrate, rejoice, laugh, and share the tenderness of our souls.  Coming together is a powerful antidepressant.

Just prior to Brodi’s presentation, she, Erin and I gathered in a brief huddle.  Erin said quietly, “I miss Dad.”  As did we all.  Last year his pride in his daughter lit the room.  This year, in a sea of beloved faces, one was missing.

But our emotions stabilized as we tunneled into the moment.  William Falkner said, “The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”  We racked that.  And Brodi was able to give her presentation. Even in the deepest heartache, there is grace in humor.  She was slightly disheveled, but that’s part of her charm.  She maintained her authenticity, kept us all laughing, and did not allow her nerves to edge her into oxygen debt.  Staying conscious is always the first priority.  I knew it was a success when I was able to stop double-fisting Kleenexes.  I was proud. Motherhood is not really an enigma.  I’ll take it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


OK.  I am going to ask the burning question that is on everyone’s mind, and it is NOT whether Lance Armstrong lied through his teeth to the nation.

What is it about the new year that sparks the entire universe to make frenzied, unsustainable commitments allowing no margin of error, saturated with built-in obsolescence and pre- programmed for certain failure, that ignites a downward spiral into cataclysmic depression which jet- propels us to the refrigerator for chocolate and sodas with the highest ratio of caffeine to controlled substance, stretching our already taut nerves as tight as piano wire, and makes us feel as if we’ve been abducted by a whole galaxy of aliens, as we try in vain to transform ourselves into self-correcting savants?

There.  I said it.

Well, I, for one, am going on record. Forthwith, I resolve to swear off New Year’s resolutions.  The reasons are many, varied, bogus, and totally without merit.  I personally would prefer to undergo enhanced interrogation by Oprah Winfry than devise a catechism of annual commitments designed for my own personal edification.  Perfection is highly over-rated. 

Instead, I have manufactured my “Myopic Matriarch’s Manifesto.”  It allows me a cameo appearance   without having the starring role.

My logic is nearly impossible to refute…or understand.

First of all, I am living in a mental cathedral of diminished capacity.  Like a mutant child, I tend to lower my expectations faster than I can violate them.  But what does it profit me if I strangle myself with the guilt of unrealized goals?

This leads to the second reason for my steadfast refusal to reform.  No matter how lofty the aspirations, I find I’m always the exception to my own rules.  This is no doubt due to a grandiose, and unjustified, sense of self.  Recusing myself establishes a license to lower the threshold of accountability without liability, and compromises my possibilities by encasing them in behavioral full-length woollies, with all my humanity trapped inside.  Does that make sense?  If so, I’ve said it wrong.  

In addition, I get side-tracked by self-indulgence.  I can’t say no to my whims.  I become emotionally bi-polar and adolescently petulant.  Then, my alter-ego, the “dowager countess of the confounded and confused,” dominates.  It is a conundrum. 

So I plan to just boing along in life like I’m in a moon bounce, and no one gets hurt.
Actually, I have decided to make some minor mid-course corrections, although they hardly qualify as refinements.

OBSERVATION:  We live in a world where all things inanimate are smarter than we are.  There are smart phones, smart cars, and smart homes.  There is even a smart fork that vibrates if we eat too fast. 
Thus, I have decided to embrace my inner Dumb.  There is no need for intelligence on our part.  Just look at the recent Presidential campaign. Or better yet, Congress. Technology has condemned us all to be mental mongrels.  That alone absolves us of mea culpa.  No need to analyze. Our brains are free to morph to balsa-wood. No longer should we rely on intellect rather than strength in the race for world domination.  With smart forks, we don’t need either.  My new idiom is “I don’t think.  Therefore, I am…not.”  It’s a scramble down the evolutionary ladder.

Furthermore, I am going to slow down.  No more degenerative multi-tasking 24/7.  From now on, I’ll single-task, or better yet, un-task 8/5.  Simple economics.  I refuse to become a casualty of my own stellar abilities.

I want to travel, to channel the spirit of Odysseus.  Actually, his name means “man of pain,” and he was trying to return to Ithaca.  I don’t want to be in pain or go to Ithaca.  I just want to go to Hawaii.  However, on a recent voyage, I happened to be in the midst of the most populated security line, when I had an “uh,oh/Kaopectate” moment.  I panicked.  The line moved like a still-life, and I was jackknifing, sucking in oxygen and blowing out carbon dioxide.  By the time it was my turn to go through the indignity machine, I had severe facial contortion.  The TSA, naturally, mistook me for a terrorist, and, convinced I had evil intentions, opted for a pat-down.  I, meanwhile, tried to keep my eye sockets from erupting, as I morphed into a perversion of Uncle Fester.  I now understand why perfectly normal people threaten to blow up airplanes.

It is vital for all of us to make sense of our world.  To do this, we create gods, write poetry, tell stories, and make new years’ resolutions, as we commando-crawl through life.  I still refuse.  I cannot allow my aspirations to exceed my accomplishments. I’ve succeeded wildly. My comfort zone needle will forever waver between average and mediocre.

I vow never to fix things that don’t need fixing – or mend things that do.

Brodi’s book launch for her second book, “Everbound,” is Tuesday, January 22nd, 7:00 p.m. at King’s English.  All are welcome.

What a great way to ring in the New Year.