2 Minutes to Midnight (Sing it with me, Iron Maiden fans!)

I do believe that the Male Sibling Unit is actively seeking to set my personal Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight. To hell with the committee that oversees the world’s Doomsday Clock, which is just a metaphor for the fact that we, as a planet, are in the shit and it’s all because the United States has a turnip for a President and the Congress is the puppet master of said turnip. There is no real “Doomsday Clock” but I imagine that if it existed, it would be pretty scary looking and it would be located somewhere in Germany. That Doomsday Clock is the least of my worries right now.

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How the Doomsday Clock is depicted.
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How I see the Doomsday Clock. Not to be confused with the Monstrance Clock.

My own sprang a spring or broke a gear or something on Friday, when I discovered that The Male Sibling Unit is continuing to rush his own demise by eating sugar-laden food on the sly. The fact that his disability makes it impossible for him to truly be sly is the only saving grace in the situation. Most diabetics who try to hide their verboten sugar intake do so sneakily, like my mother used to. I will never forget the day my first husband walked into our kitchen after taking her to work in her car in order to bring it back home to do some repairs on it. In his mitts was a crumpled-up ball of empty bakery bags from the local supermarket. He had found this debris stuffed underneath her driver’s seat when he released the seat back to make way for his legs. We untangled the bags and found that there were four. When he confronted her (I did not dare, or my Doomsday Clock would have been set back then, in 1998) she became defensive, of course, and basically told him in no uncertain terms that he was not the boss of her. Actually, I think her exact words were “Fuck off” but I can’t quite remember and I sure as hell am not going to ask him, because then my Doomsday Clock will be set to one minute to midnight and possibly I will risk self-combustion right then. I swear, that woman sneaked sugar up until the day she died. I know that the doctor told me she was essentially brain dead the day she passed, but I really think she probably had a stash of Snickers bars somewhere underneath her sheets or stuffed under the mattress. The woman was tenacious AF.

The Male Sibling Unit has his own special products that I buy him to stave off his incessant, unrelenting desire for sugar. I buy him Splenda packets for his cereals, sugar-free candy, sugar-free cookies, jams, gum; you name it. If it can be procured in sugar-free form, he has it. I also watch his carb intake and even allow him actual sugar on occasion, simply to give him the sense that he isn’t foregoing every, single thing that he loves. He tests his blood sugar three times a day and we adjust his insulin injections accordingly. He attends workshops on diabetes and diabetes clinics. Everyone in his realm is invested in his personal diabetes experience. Since he’s so into himself, it would make perfect sense that he would want to walk the walk and talk the talk, because much praise is offered when his A1C levels are lower and his tests are good. He eats that shit up as enthusiastically as he does peanut butter brownies.

Alas, I was wrong to assume that. This is proven to me over and over again, as he continues to hoard food (a lifelong practice) and stuff plain, white bread down his gullet and eat jams bought for the non-diabetics in this house and sneak gulps of my Coca Cola and then put it back, thinking that I will not notice that an unopened bottle has, in fact, been opened, and not by the husband, who detests Coke. Guess what, fucker? I noticed when I grabbed it out of the fridge and opened it, expecting to hear that satisfyingly fresh hisssssss as the vacuum seal let loose, and heard…..nothing. That soda was as flat as my tits before I got pregnant the first time.

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If the Male Sibling Unit was caught red-handed. Also, if the Male Sibling Unit was a Female Sibling Unit.

I’m not complaining about caring for him. Okay, so it sounds like I am, but I’m actually just blowing off steam. Caring for him has been a journey I willingly and enthusiastically took on from the moment we knew that he was always going to need looking after. I can still remember, with perfect clarity, standing in front of my 5th grade teacher, the dashing and charismatic Mr. Horovitz, who was quietly demanding that I tell him why I wanted to drop off the crossing guard detail.

Being a crossing guard, or “Patrol”, as we called it then, was a very big honor and responsibility. One was chosen by a committee of teachers at the conclusion of the 4th grade. Throughout 5th and 6th grade, one had the awesome responsibility of arriving at school early and putting on a strap with a badge, grabbing a flag pole, and heading out to a designated corner in our neighborhood to cross the other students, assuring their safety across streets as they trekked to school. We did this in the morning, at lunch time, and after school. We were rewarded for our service with a trip to Washington, DC at the end of 6th grade. You just couldn’t do any better than this when you were in grade school. I was a Patrol, and when my mother had broken down at the kitchen table in 1977, after being given The Male Sibling Unit’s diagnosis (Severe Mental Retardation with Autism sprinkled in for effect, never to advance any farther intellectually past a 4th grade level) I had sat on this information for a long while. I was already heavily invested in my role as The Big Sister, imagining things like turning 16 and picking him up after school in my convertible Camaro and impressing all his friends. The fact that we were dirt fucking poor and on welfare and that I would never own a car at 16, much less learn to drive then because at that point, we no longer had a car, escaped my juvenile daydreams. I was going to take him for ice cream and buy him stuff and be the coolest sister ever. Most of all, I was going to protect him. When the diagnosis came down, I realized, immediately, that protecting him was going to be at the top of the list now. I saw how people treated the kids with disabilities, and called them names, and were generally just cruel. There was no fucking way on earth that I was going to let anyone make fun of my brother or call him a “retard”. As a matter of fact, my mother had forbidden that word to be uttered from the moment she found out he was handicapped. I knew I had to be the front line to his safety, because I spent the most time with him. A big sister had to protect her sibling.

My mother was a mess after the diagnosis. She spent every moment at the kitchen table, crying, smoking, listening to the radio, writing letters, and many times, I would find her with her head cradled in her arms. Her love for me had been cut off at the knees by then, and all I received was an occasional bark commanding me to “Take your brother with you” when I would go somewhere after school or on weekends. Instinctively, I knew she needed help. What could I do, though? I needed to do something to help her. That’s when the idea formulated in my head: I would give up Patrol, freeing up an extra hour in the morning and at night, and be there for her, and for my brother. I remember writing my resignation on a piece of paper and quietly placing it on Mr. Horovitz’s desk at the beginning of the school day. Just before lunch time, he called me to his desk. He was holding my resignation, and he asked me why I wanted to resign. I had not told anyone about my brother; I didn’t want anyone to laugh or make fun of him or even worse, feel sorry for me. I was ridiculously proud and stubborn even then. My whole life was made up of secrets; no one knew that my dad was actually a well-respected businessman in the community who had carried on an affair with my mother that produced two children, or that we were on welfare. That stuff was nobody’s business then, and was of little importance to young kids anyway. Having a mentally handicapped brother was of interest, though, and never in a good way. There was no fucking way I was going to let anyone mess with him, and I wasn’t ready to reveal it to even my best friends. I didn’t expect what happened with my teacher, though. In retrospect, his heart was in the right place, but I wish he had done what he did in a different, more private way.

He waited for my response. I shifted, uneasily, from foot to foot. “I just need to.” was all I could manage to say.

“I’m sorry, Lori, but that isn’t a good enough reason. Please, tell me why.” He was not going to relent.

“Because.” I said, quietly. Because, you fuckwit. Don’t ask me these questions. I don’t want to tell you.

Another student stood beside me, waiting for his attention. I was hoping he would accept my resignation and then move on to her request, whatever it was. But nope. He was adamant. “You’re not sitting down until you give me a good reason for quitting Patrol.” I knew this guy. He wasn’t kidding. My resolve was slipping, and I knew that the next step was going to be calling my mother. Then I would be in deep shit. I didn’t even realize that there were tears running down my cheeks until Mr. Horovitz asked me why I was crying. I managed to speak, quietly, as I cried. “I have to quit to help take care of my little brother. He’s mentally retarded. We just found out. My mom needs me to help her.” He was silent, his face registering a surprise I had never seen before. He looked down. I stood proudly, my insides quaking, because I knew the little fuckstick next to me couldn’t keep a goddamn secret and the jig was almost up as soon as she could assemble a group of stupid, fucking, giggly girls and whisper what she had just heard. Finally, Mr. Horovitz looked at me and said, firmly but kindly, “You aren’t quitting Patrol, Lori. You can’t.” I sobbed a little and protested, “I have to. I have to be there and help.” He smiled, and said, “I know you want to help, but you have to remember that your mom is an adult, and her job is to take care of you as well as your brother. I know you think you’re making it easier, but you are only hurting yourself. And you promised to do a job. You can’t go back on your word.” I felt that he just didn’t understand how high the stakes were. I had to be there for my family. His next words did little to calm me. “I am going to talk to your mom, okay? I know she will agree with me. Let’s just forget about this. You will continue to be a Patrol, because that’s really important, and it’s also really important for you to do things you love, too. You’re a really good sister. I am really proud of you. But you are not going to do this.”

Needless to say, I went home, dragging my feet because I was positive, given how well I knew my mother and her present state of mind, that she was going to kick my ass for dragging my teacher into this and causing him to have to call her. I was in for the surprise of my life, though. She actually agreed with him, and was a little nicer to me for a while after that. My classmates, too, surprised me. They never made fun of my brother, and aside from a few nervous questions about whether or not his condition “hurt” him, my friends pretty much took up the mantle of surrogate protectors, too, which shows you that kids can be shitty, but sometimes, they can be pretty awesome.

Protecting The Male Sibling Unit is just a part of who I am now, and the fact that he makes it hard for me to do is infuriating and frustrating. I’m in this ’til the end, but there is no need for us to rush the end, is there? With every furtive peanut butter sandwich on white bread, with regular Smuckers instead of his sugar-free preserves, he is fast-forwarding his clock, and mine, because I swear, I can actually feel my blood pressure skyrocket when I discover that he’s been at it again. I try to be calm, to sit him down, to talk to him like adults talk, to use flattery and praise to make him feel invested in making good choices. I understand that there is some sort of short-circuiting involved with all diabetics; they seem to want what they cannot have more intensely and when they go off the beaten path of sensibility, they really stray, ending up in another county at times. They have little self-control, with regular foods and with diabetic foods. I can recall my mother eating every piece of candy that I bought for my brother’s Christmas stocking in a year before he was diagnosed. When I went to retrieve his stocking stuffers to fill it for him, there was an empty bag where the candy had been. She was scathingly unapologetic: “If you would let me eat the shit I want, I wouldn’t have had to eat his.” The same thing applied to her diabetic candies. She couldn’t eat just one or two pieces; she had to eat the entire bag. The bad thing about diabetic candy consumed in large quantities is what it does to a diabetic’s digestive system. It, well….speeds it up. The exit is nearly as quick as the entry. And when you’re an elderly woman who broke a hip and needs to use a walker to get to the bathroom, sometimes you don’t make it. And you leave evidence of your lack of self-control for your home health aide to clean up. And in my mother’s case, she did that just as unapologetically as she ate my brother’s candies, and those 4 bags of bakery items in 1998. Eek.

I doubt that the latest talk with The Male Sibling Unit had any effect. The husband and I have resisted buying a cabinet for food that is off-limits and lockable. That stubborn part of me that was so stoic when I was 11 is now an old lady, set in her ways, pigheadedly insisting that I am not going to make my life more difficult just because he’s an asshole who won’t listen. I know, it’s such a little thing, really. It will ensure his safety and enable me to avoid a stroke. It doesn’t mean that I won’t go all Lewis Black on his shit about something else, or because I have finally reached the end of my rope with some other insufferable subject, like Doomsday Clocks and turnips and how the FUCK does the Religious Right justify sleeping with a porn star within a few month of one’s wife having one’s baby as being worthy of a “mulligan” when every other politician in the world who has even sneezed inappropriately in the general direction of a woman not his wife has been forced to leave office or been impeached? I know. That was a lot to digest. But see? Lewis Black would be proud of that rant. So, we’re gonna get the lockable cupboard, and I am going to hope that I can figure out a fool-proof way to hide a key. And remember where I put it. Maybe I can hide it behind a clock. Tick-tock, motherfucker.

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SAD (Still Admittedly Depressed)

My eyes are drying up again, after a few weeks of a precious reprieve from the drought. This could not happen at a worse time, when a little stinging of tears are a much sought-after conclusion.

I admit it; I am sad. Not because of the eyes, but perhaps they are just another tick on the list of a lot things that have been happening to build up to this realization that this has been a very, very long bout this time.

Since about the end of last June, I have been caught up in a deep struggle. I know; that statement coming from a clinically depressed individual in the depths of an especially temperamental winter is probably not so shocking. It doesn’t invite alarmed inquiries of “What’s wrong?” and “Are you okay?” Indeed, it more than likely triggers responses akin to The Boy Who Cried Wolf; exasperated “Oh, here we go with this again.” That’s why I hesitate, most of the time, at giving my feelings a voice. I know that when I became fully engaged in writing this blog, I promised to bring my mental illness out of the darkness, where it had been consigned. I promised to be open and brutally prescient in my observations and to fully welcome anyone who has ever felt the things I do or who is struggling. Those things are still true, and always will be. As I have found my voice, and discovered my satiral point-of-view as a wife, mother, sister, and fellow human being in a world gone mad, I’ve attempted to focus on lighter subjects. After all, we are all in need of a release, a belly laugh, or even a rueful, “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel” moment.

The fact that there is really no one thing making me sad is frustrating, and quite beside the point. It doesn’t chase away the sadness. And I realized, this morning, that I have simply been trying much too hard to chase away the doldrums. Saying you’re going to focus on the positive is much harder to do when your brain just isn’t wired that way. It doesn’t matter how many pills you take or how much vitamin D you attempt to soak up or how many therapy sessions you complete; there are moments, days, indeed weeks awash in sadness, weighed down in sorrowful drudgery. It’s the exact opposite of rose-colored glasses. When you have depression, you see through varying shades of gray, sometimes foggy, and usually smudged glasses. At the very least, it’s like having a scratch on your lense that constantly reminds you that you’ve got a scratch on your lense. All the washing in the world won’t make it disappear. It’s there, reminding you. The thing about that analogy, though, is that you can always get new glasses. With depression, the best that you can do is to find the little moments, the slivers of light, the happy thoughts, that keep you from actually following through with the idea that blowing your fucking head off is the solution to it all.

I don’t feel like blowing my head off, no. Yet, I am still sad. And I am tired of being sad, because being sad makes me tired. It’s a vicious circle of darkness. When my first thought, upon waking, is “Who the hell turned on all that goddamned light?” I know that the day is going to be a struggle. When my stomach churns angrily at the idea of having to be a human all fucking day instead of just a lump of living flesh, I know this is my chemical imbalance, starting its shit again. When I both crave/abhor the idea of being alone, it’s “one of those days.”

I’m so over it, you know?

This is what I think. I think that the world has gone stark-raving mad around us, and that it contributes to the overall feeling of sadness that we experience. Every day, there’s a new tragedy, a new scandal, a new drama. We can certainly try to avoid being caught up in the huge miasma o’ shit that this world tries to drown us in, but that requires both a bunker with no technology other than maybe an MP3 player and the ability to be an eternal optimist. I’m just going to be honest: I can do neither of these things. Cut off tv, radio, internet? Sure; I can take a break. Inevitably, I get bored, or curious, and I return to binge-watching 13 episodes of the latest “thing” on Netflix or whiling away a whole afternoon catching up on the lives of my friends on social media. Before I know it, I’m deep in the technology quagmire again, watching and reading the news and feeling angry and hostile and outraged and wanting to do something to effect a change or, at the very minimum, make my voice heard.

The problem is that this is when the sadness enters, as it inevitably does when I think too much. It sneaks in, quietly, stealing away the moments of perfection when I am listening to a miraculous song like this gorgeous piece of perfection or reading a really great story. It wraps its talons around the edges of my consciousness and digs in just a little bit during occasions when I’m enjoying a silly conversation via text with my granddaughter, or having deeply engaging talks with my son. It whispers, low and with a touch of regret, that these moments are fleeting, and that happiness never lasts. That gets my brain going and then I think about getting older and about how life just goes on and that someday I will be dead and it will march on anyway with nary a look back.

This is when depression sees its opportunity. This is when it pounces. Depression lies, yes. It steals. It cheats. It does all the shitty things and it never blinks. It is always looking for an in and, by God, it will find one sooner or later.

It’s found its way in again. It doesn’t matter if I insist that my life is mostly good, that I am fortunate, and that I have so many reasons to be thankful. All of this is true, and yet there it is. That scratch on my lense. And unlike glasses, I only get one life. At this moment, depression has linked arms with menopause and they are skipping gaily throughout my body and mind, making messes and tipping over things and creating a general sense of chaos within. I know it will recede, if only for a while. I am grateful for the self-awareness that happens because I take a concoction of pills that counteract the chaos and enable me to see that this too shall pass. But the sadness makes me wish that I could cry. Oh, the absolute emotional release that a noisy, sloppy, agonizing cry gives! Snot running, ugly sounds, stuffed-up nose, thought-you-were-done-but-here-you-go-again sobbing. It’s cleansing and relief-giving and absolutely the exact thing I need right now. Problem is, those pills I take shut that shit down. While everyone else is crying their eyes out during every episode of This Is Us, I’m high and dry. I’d love to cry over Jack Pearson. I just can’t. I saw a gut-wrenching clip of a family having to say goodbye to a cherished pet this morning. Everyone was in tears, wailing. The fucking veterinarian was crying. I was close, I’ll admit. I felt absolutely bereft for those people. Witnessing a lovely dog take its last breath in the arms of its human mother should have reduced me to a pile of soggy kleenex because I’ve been there. But then someone put the cork in and I was left feeling like I was going to sneeze, but the sneeze was suddenly gone.

It is like that every day. And I am tired of pretending that it’s okay, that it will get better, and that I’m a strong woman who will triumph. Maybe I will, but for fuck’s sake, can’t a bitch earn an ugly cry now and then?

Guess not. I’ll keep trying though, and the idea that you should not wish too hard for something, because you might just get it, seems worth risking, if only for that momentary feeling of having gotten it all off my chest. I’m not looking for pain or catastrophy; just a nice, hormonal release.

At this point, it’s actually comical.

I was not prepared for today.

I was not prepared for a whole day off after 7 days of work, and the fact that I might, just possibly, have some energy after the harrowing Plague infestation my body encountered. It has been nearly three weeks since I uttered a Stormy Daniels-type reply to a slightly sore throat:

“Uh-oh. Here we go.”

I want to insert my firm insistence that I would much rather get the Plague than do what she found herself reacting to when she saw the Orange Load sitting on the hotel room bed. And get the Plague, I did. But I feel a lot better now and this burst of energy was a huge bonus. With only 24 hours with which to do things and to sleep before the next block of work begins, I made a list, with the reward for my successful ticks off the list being a few episodes of the 4th season of Grace and Frankie. I’m a binger in that, once I begin a series, I feel the need to see it to the end, even at the surrender of all other shows I enjoy. I don’t know if I am alone in this particular tendency, but I also don’t care. You do Netflix and chill your way, I’ll do it mine.

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Look at those kitchen mixers…..yeah, that’s it. Hand blenders!

My one big road block today was this blog. I simply had no ideas. I could discuss silly things, or serious things. I could rant about Tide Pods and kids eating them. You don’t want that, though, do you? You can get that from so many other places! (Like, literally, everywhere. Here’s a really good, non-fake news story if you have been living underneath a rock and have NO clue about what I am talking about. ) With that in mind, I searched my brain for something, anything, relevant. New, interesting, funny.

Bueller?

Then, I saw it. There it was: a new story about how the End of the World is once again happening! Yes, folks, it’s on! The whackadoody Evangelicals or whatever you want to call them have decided, since the last, what? Three dates, was it? I dunno….but anyway, the last few dates where The End IS Here came, and went, and all we got was a dunce President. Ready for it? Okay. The new End Times will commence on June 24th of this very year. That’s right, folks, it’s on! I do want to throw out a sincere apology to my middle daughter, because she’s getting Armageddon for her birthday two days early this year. Sorry, Honey, but Mama is always really invested in getting you something unique, right?

I said all that I needed to say about this momentous event about 7 years ago, when the first End of Days was nigh. Never mind that it didn’t come to pass; I have full confidence that, if we keep skipping merrily down the current path this country is on, we will get there. No worries. So, without further ado, here is a blog originally published then, and still so relevant today that I just don’t have anything else to add. Enjoy. And start getting your bunkers ready! (Again.)

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Oh, Jesus!

The Final Countdown to May 21, 2011, or “Why I think I will be left behind.”

I have been following, with some irritation and more than a little amusement, the latest doomsday predictions put out there by the religious zealots who truly believe in them. In the past, we’ve been led to believe that the End will occur in 2012. Before that, most of the religious crackheads advised basically what was written in the Bible – specifically, Revelations. They watched for the signs of the Apocalypse and excitedly shouted whenever something that even vaguely resembled one of those signs happened in some Third Word country where of course, plague and starvation and insect infestation and dead animals weren’t, you know, the norm. I don’t know about you, but had I believed them every time they advised that The End Was Near, I’d be, well….dead. Right?

This latest prediction claims to be rooted in science. Specifically, some religious fruitbat has come up with a Formula that actually predicts the End of Days according to some mathematical equations that, when put to work with the things said in the Bible, comes up with what he is positive is an accurate date. I’m not making this up….and if you’ve been watching the news since the beginning of the year, you’ve probably read some interviews with his followers. They’re everywhere, you know, and they want to get the word out so we can all prepare.

The lowdown is that, on May 21 of this very year, Judgement will occur. Those found worthy of Heaven will leave then, be magically carried away on a magic carpet ride to God’s House such as they could have never imagined possible. Those left behind (and we know who we are) will remain on Earth, enduring suffering beyond anything ever dreamed in our worst nightmares, before being sent to the bowels of Hell 6 months later, on October 21st.

This sucks. I was really looking forward to Halloween this year. Can this be like taxes, where I file an extension? All I want is 10 more days. Halloween’s my favorite holiday! Who do I get in touch with? FEMA, right? Are they handling the End of Days? They’re the most natural choice, I’d think. Gaddafi’s got too much on his plate to be able to coordinate the End of Days effort, after all, and the United States always likes to be in charge of any cataclysmic event occurring anywhere in the world. We excel at disaster. Look at Katrina.

Anyway, back to my original train of thought, which is why I’m pretty positive that I will be left behind on the 21st of May. I’ve spent many hours of reflection on this, wondering if there could be some way I could make a last-ditch effort to redeem myself in the eyes of God and win a ticket on that Magic Carpet Ride to Heaven.

Okay….not really, but you just never know who might be tallying up things. Vocalizing regret about my past transgressions could help, right?

Something tells me I should be preparing for the last 6 months on this planet. I wonder if there’ll be a run on the grocery stores and hardware stores just before the 21st of May? How does one prepare for 6 months of “Judgement”? I have to assume that all the power will go out, because obviously only the good people have been running our world’s energy sources. I’m thinking I ought to quietly begin to stockpile gasoline in jugs underneath my house, so that I can fill the generator I’m going to have to buy. Gas will be hard to come by once the power goes out, and there won’t be a single Oil Company Executive left on the planet after May 21st. No one will be left to make those important decisions for those of us left behind. All the righteous will be having a barbecue in God’s back yard on the 22nd, looking down on us and shaking their heads sadly while we run around, pulling our hair out, screaming, “Why? In the name of God, WHY???” as we shake our fists angrily at the sky. Dick Cheney will probably shed more than a few tears as he gazes down at Earth and realizes that there’s no one left to make the right decisions for us.

Maybe I ought to re-convert myself back into Catholicism and go to confession before all of this goes down. Obviously, there won’t be a Catholic priest left to tend the leftover flock of sinners after May 21, right?

Before you ask if this is a blog or a nightmare, let me explain to you why I am sure I will be left behind to face Hell on October 21st.

According to Christian belief and wisdom, I am a sinner. I have broken a few of the Ten Commandments on more than one occasion. It’s not important that I list each and every single one here, but it is important that I acknowledge that I have committed them. I continue to break some of them on a daily basis, too. I swear. Daily. Like a sailor. I covet things. All the time. Not my neighbor’s wife, but then again, I don’t swing that way. Unless the neighbor’s wife was Shakira. Then I’d covet. Oh yes….I would covet a lot.

I’m divorced. There’s a strike against me. Being remarried doesn’t take it back. It’s not a do-over, or so I have been told.

I had a child out-of-wedlock. Even though his father and I married as soon as we were legally able to, there’s another strike.

I’ve never killed anyone, but I have wanted to. In some religious circles, this is just as bad. So there’s strike three.

A dozen or more little offenses come to mind, like the fact that I’m not afraid to have an opinion or two or three thousand, and I’m not afraid to voice them. Some people don’t like that, don’t like that I have ones different from theirs, and for whatever reasons, it upsets them. It upsets them even more when I explain that I’m allowed to have dissenting opinions from theirs, and that it doesn’t make me a bad person, or them a bad person, or either one of us wrong….just different. It upsets them when I advise them to work on their own lack of self-confidence and to leave mine alone.

I don’t like the color pink. I think it’s disgusting. This puts me at odds with a great many females on this planet. I happen to think that a black dress can be just as, if not more, feminine than some frothy pink concoction.

I’m comfortable with the fact that, while I’m not a genius, I’m pretty damned intelligent. I like to read. I like to pursue knowledge. I’m always on a quest for a new experience as long as it makes me feel comfortable doing so. I don’t always have to follow. I don’t have to lead, either. I prefer to go my own way. I prefer the quiet of my home to bars and parties and social events. Give me a choice between a rowdy evening with friends or a good book and the book is always going to win. This makes me a selfish, conceited asshole in some circles. This puts me on the short list for Those Who Are Condemned To Hell, because in order to be a good Christian, one must always think of others and see to their comfort and eschew their own.

I say Fuck that. See? I swear like a sailor.

I’ve been the dutiful wife, caring, dutiful mom-sister-daughter-friend. I still am, as a matter of fact. I just happen to care about myself, too. I am, therefore, a shoo-in for that long-boat ride with Charon down the River Styx.

That pretty much sums it up.

I hope that Hell has good pizza.

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Pretty, petty, pretty good.

Laughter IS the best medicine.

There are so many things that I could take to this blog and bitch about. I mean, ever since the events of the Presidential election last year, there are new offenses every single day. Sometimes there are multiple ones in an hour. It has become crazy, and I find myself being pulled down by it with every, single blasphemous incident. There are millions who feel the same way, and I think our biggest outrage is reserved for the fact that there are millions who don’t feel the same way, and still others who are able to shrug it all off because they imagine that it doesn’t affect them and nothing’s going to get in the way of them living their lives. Well, nothing, that is, until something does. I am not a pessimist, nor am I an optimist – I like to characterize myself as a pessi-optimist – but I have a feeling, in my gut, that shit’s about to get real. I mean, millions woke up yesterday in Hawaii thinking they only had 10 minutes to live, due to a glitch and a false report of North Korea firing its missiles at the islands. It took a full 40 minutes of golf time (I’m not going to say exactly who was playing golf for 40 minutes while a state was under the assumption that it was about to be obliterated off the planet, but it was not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.) before the problem was assessed and an announcement was made about the error. Oops, stuck in a sand trap, so sorry about that. Mahalo!

I have freaked out here before about that orange catastrophe in the White House. No, Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not spill her Fanta. All that would have done is improve her wardrobe. Today, I want to laugh. I have had the Plague for what feels like a million days and I am, at last, beginning to to feel better, and I want to laugh. Plus, it’s Dave Grohl’s birthday and celebrations must be held and fervent worship should be lavished upon such a God. He is the only God I want to be screaming “Oh Jesus!” to. Ummmm, yeah, I went there. And it’s okay. He’s on the laminated list.

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Today’s your birthday, Mr. Grohl. I have a present for you. *wink wink*

Okay, here are a few things that make me laugh. Let’s begin, shall we, with the sort of ads that Facebook thinks I want to see in my feed. We all have a vague sort of understanding about the algorithms Facebook and other websites use that seem to reach into our brains and pick them. Search online for a bra? Facebook will suddenly inundate your feed with great deals on bras. Even if you didn’t originally click on a bra ad on Facebook, that’s okay; Facebook still knows. Actually, I’m lying. It isn’t okay. You search on Google for a bra and Facebook somehow knows? It’s like there’s a sort of peeping Tom, underground KGB shit going on in the interwebs that knows your every click. And well, I guess that’s the thing; they do. They know what you do. They can trace it. They watch. And they can come after you if you do some shady shit, so don’t do shady shit. I’m just saying; if you do a search for “Clowns in ladies’ negligees”, someone’s gonna see that shit and the jig will be up. Not only are you a sick fuck because clowns are evil and no one in their right mind wants to see a clown in a negligee, but you are banned from ever using any of my devices because I will cut you if I ever see a clown in a negligee.

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This has nothing to do with anything, but after my mind conjured up a clown in a negligee, I needed a diversion. I googled “Happy shit” and this is what I found.

 

Anyway, let’s get back to me and my innocent web search for a dress for my daughter’s wedding last year. I wanted something beautiful, and I found a gorgeous, vintage dress, which I purchased.20180114_144654-1319804699.png It was absolutely smashing but then when the day dawned, it was unseasonably cold and I had to wear something else. I was disappointed and am waiting for an occasion to wear a vintage-style flapper dress someday. I don’t know when that will be, since I am a hermit crab/hobbit and never go anywhere. The ideal scenario would be for me to discover a time machine, put the dress on, and be transported back to do the Charleston with George Bailey at Harry’s high school dance instead of Mary doing it and then George and I could fall in the pool after Alfalfa opened the floor and then make passionate love in the locker room afterward instead of how it ended up going down with Donna Reed. I mean, damn, she was a really nice girl but the sexual tension was ridiculous and if it had been me, I would have let him do me up against a locker and fuck the wrestler robe and the Buffalo Gals. Youth is wasted on the wrong people.

Back to the dress and the algorithms and Facebook’s assumptions about what I want to wear. You thought I had forgotten, didn’t you? Between Dave Grohl and a dashing, young Jimmy Stewart, I confess I almost did. So I bought that gorgeous dress, and never bought another dress online after that. I did look at a maxi dress here and there, but apparently Facebook thinks that what I really want is not a maxi dress. Facebook thinks I want these:

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Very dramatic. Lucille Ball would have looked good in this. In 1950.
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Now, just what the fuck is this? I know I’m a witch, but this looks like some Bewitched poo-poo goody-two-shoes stuff.
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Polka dots? I don’t even have anything to say about this.

Oh, and not to be too predictable, this gem:

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Even if I had the body, I wouldn’t wear this. Not enough boob exposure. Oh and yes, I would have to change careers. I always wanted to work a pole.

Not a single maxi dress in my feed. Just vintage-inspired June Cleaver nightmares and porn star bodycon. Someone mixed up my algorithms with Betty Boop.

Facebook also thinks I need this ring, because I see it every day. Not gonna lie. I love it. Someone should tell the husband, because if I do, it’ll just be obvious and I ought to just buy it myself and save him the trouble of figuring out what would be The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift.

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It’s 75% off!

Another thing that I find absolutely hilarious? Google “Donald Trump and his imaginary accordion” and watch the video. You will die. I cannot say anything positive about that f’n guy except that he makes this stuff sooooo easy.

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You gotta google it and listen. Chuckles for days. Guffaws, even.

I also find these things hilarious. Except when they refer to my vagene as a kipper. Why would anyone want to name their vagina after a fish? I’ve known women who smelled as if they stored them in there, but really? A kipper?

I do want to assert that if this chart was the ass-backward way that one could pick out one’s name, I would want to be Fiona Kline.

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Have at it. All you “B” surname people? I feel your pain and outrage. But “S” and “E” are pretty bad, too.

 

Let’s go back to algorithms for a moment. This is what Facebook thinks I need. I feel that I should point out that I do not go out in nature and traipse about in the snow, and neither do my cats. They are hobbits, just like me.

 

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That cat looks super-pissed.

I don’t know about you, but I’m laughing. Laugh with me, okay? Not at me. I know, it’s hard to not conjure up the kind of person I seem to be based upon my Facebook algorithms and assume that I am a woman who wears Donna Reed’s wardrobe, takes nature walks during snowstorms with her cat, and names her vagina. I would laugh at that woman, and probably offer to call her a cab back to Pleasantville. I am the sort of woman who finds Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart cuddling on a ferris wheel  in matching derby hats adorable, though, and I much prefer that woman. Suck it, Facebook!

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If this does not make you laugh, I don’t want to know you.

A Public service announcement because we no longer get them under this regime, or: You make me sick.

I have a cold, or a sinus infection, or influenza, or the Bubonic Plague, or some sort of nasty germ facilitated by the North Koreans to fell Trump haters. Okay, just listen to my reasoning before you protest that Dear Leader hates ALL Americans and wants to get rid of ol’ Orangutan Buttface. I actually think that Kim-Un Bowl Cut likes the fact that the US has a demented old fuckface running the show over here because it makes him seem less crazy. He therefore wants to see Trump Resisters burn, like so much kindling at a campfire. The antics of 45 are a shit show that the rest of the world watches with grim fascination. It’s like the show “My 600-Lb Life”. (Or The Teletubbies.) You want to look away. You just can’t.

Anyway, I am sick.

This isn’t a big shock to me or to anyone who knows me. I have a bad spleen and infections and viruses gravitate toward me like a screw to a magnet. Working out in the public has always been perilous for me because I can’t fight off the plague like others. Working in a refrigerated environment was actually a plus because no one wanted to come back and see me until the summer time, when cold and flu season was over. Now, I work from home, cutting out my interactions with humans to only those I choose to expose myself to. When others are ill, I avoid them. (Like the plague, har-har-har!) Nevertheless, sometimes, I am exposed to germs when I go to the store or spend time out of my hobbit hole. This was the case over the holidays, when it was easier to go to the kids than to make the kids come to me. Unfortunately, kids are around lots of other kids and no one can vouch for good hygiene of kids that aren’t their own. Lots of parents send their kids to school sick. We all know what a seething petri dish of disease schools are, and no matter how hard we try, invariably a germ or two will make its way home on a kid. I could have caught an errant germ from a grandchild, or one of my children, or from the cashier at Aldi. One could have jumped on board The Male Sibling Unit at work and he may have shaken it loose onto me when he got home. The point is, when I get sick, I fucking do it right. I don’t just get one symptom, or two; I get all the symptoms. Sore throat, coughing, nasal congestion, sneezing 6-fucking-thousand-times-in-a-row, body aches, fever, headache. When one symptom appears, I grab the cold meds stat and walk around in a medicated haze, hoping to head the rest off at the pass. Vitamins, holistic medicines…none of these will fix my spleen, which has been enlarged and inflamed not once, but 3 times due to mononucleosis. You’re only supposed to get that once, but I guess once was not enough for me, greedy Taurus bitch that I am.

This time, I was trying to recover from an awful menopausal migraine, so the Plague snuck in before I could throw a Nyquil bomb at it. Now, I am not only taking Nyquil, but Dayquil, and aspirin, and using my little inhaler, and drinking tea, and trying to stay warm during a polar bombogenesis. Hahaha! I used that word in a sentence! I am actually happy to be running a fever, because at least I am sweating in -25° wind chills. Through the haze of medicinal fog, I am attempting to blog because I have important shit to say. This will either be the greatest writing I have ever accomplished or it will be a complete fuck-off.

This is what I need to tell you:

Seriously. It’s as simple as that. Look, I am not whining about being sick. It’s inconvenient and unpleasant as hell and I would rather not be sick at all, but I understand that it happens. I am more susceptible and I have to proceed through this life with that caution in my head. I am not, however, a compromised individual, like an elderly person, an infant, or someone with an autoimmune disease that leaves them more vulnerable to disease because their condition has worn them down. I am not a cancer patient fighting for her life, undergoing chemo or radiation, leaving my system completely open to even the mildest cold germ out there. How do you know? It’s simple: You don’t. And if you’re like me, and you dread getting sick (and if you don’t dread getting sick, then I think you already are) then why wouldn’t you want to prevent germs from spreading?

There you go. The Chain of Infection. If you’ve ever worked in healthcare, this gets drummed into your head on the first day of infectious diseases class. The CDC explains it like this:

More specifically, transmission occurs when the agent leaves its reservoir or host through a portal of exit, is conveyed by some mode of transmission, and enters through an appropriate portal of entry to infect a susceptible host. This sequence is sometimes called the chain of infection.

We could get all scientific in explaining this but fuck that, I have a fever and I’m starting to get sleepy. The bottom line is that you need to BREAK the chain of infection. There are lots of ways; if you’re sick, don’t go to work or be around others. If your kid gets sick, don’t send them to school. Some of you will scoff and say, “A little sniffles never hurt anyone!” I don’t like you people; let’s just get that straight. You are not only the problem, but you’re probably germy and diseased as fuck and stay the hell away from me.

A great many more of you, however, will say, “I don’t get sick days” or “I will get in trouble with my boss” or “I can’t afford to lose even a day’s pay”. You people? I like you. I feel you. And I don’t have any answers that will fix these problems because they are a nationwide problem and one that seems to be unique to this country. Kind of like the bloviating Tang-hued baby-man who inhabits the Oval Office. It’s a problem we need to fix, but no one has quite figure out how yet.

Again, that’s why I say this:

If you break one of the links in the chain of infection, you neutralize the infection. You isolate it to the source. The simple way to break the chain is not to throw a gauzy, crocheted shawl around your shoulders and twirl like Stevie Nicks, but to wash your hands. The former sounds more theatrical, but the latter is more realistic.

I know, you’re gonna say, “I always wash my hands!” Well, good for you. Send me your address and I’ll mail you a gold star on a little bottle of hand sanitizer. Because that stuff also works well, especially if there’s no water readily available. But guess what? Not everyone does. In the last two weeks alone, I have been in two public restrooms, with a single other occupant, and again, guess what? I have heard the toilet flush, the stall door fly open, and on both occasions, some dirty, germy bitch walked right out of the restroom without washing her hands. On both occasions, I wanted to just gtfo without shopping because who knows where she went or what she touched? Sure, maybe both times, this hands non-washer had a little bottle of hand sanitizer in her purse, which she then used. But I don’t think so. Dirty, germy bitch.

So, please, take this advice. Be a part of the solution. Look, we can’t stop the Large, Orange Turd from germinating all over the Presidency, but we can stop each other from germinating all over each other. Being sick is not like Coco Chanel, looking all Scarlett O’Hara in her boudoir:

It’s more like this;

I’m going to go to sleep now. I have nothing more to say. Auf Wiedersehen, and geshundheit.

Planes and trains and automobiles

Right now, everywhere, writers like me are gearing up to publish their “Auld Lang Syne” chapters in their blogs, their columns, their social media. I have been caught up in reminiscence, contemplating the events that shaped 2017 and culminated in loud pronouncements of “2017 can suckit” and “Goodbye, 2017….don’t let the door hit you in the ass”. There have also been quiet, weary statements like “I am so glad this year is over.”

I used to be one such person, uttering either the former or the latter. I have had some pretty awful years in the 50 I have inhabited this planet. There were the years of struggle and years of poverty. There were years of drama and chaos. There were years of physical exhaustion and mental anguish. “Freight trains”, I called the constant upheavals that barreled through and obliviated anything that seemed normal. My life; indeed, my family’s and quite a few of my friends’, seemed to resemble more of a train depot, where the trains would roar through, dropping bombs that detonated, charged with misfortune and the bad choices that resulted, leaving behind casualties of pain and sorrow. Sometimes, the trains would briefly stop and leave parcels of discontenting scenarios and bad options, and we had no choice but to make the best of what we were left with. There are no returns in this life. You get what you get and you either deal with it or you step onto the tracks as the next train sounds its warning whistle. There were times when it seemed like we had just recovered from a freight train when the ground would begin to shake and the windows would vibrate and you could hear the rumble that signaled that the next one was nearly upon us.

In the past couple of years, I have noticed that the trains have been diverted from this stop. They don’t pass through nearly as much as they used to, and while I am grateful to no longer be “on the line” I also know that the Big Railroad called Life could add a stop at any time. There could be a runaway train. I would love to shut down the depot but I can’t seem to board it up. I keep listening for the whistle and putting my ear to the ground. I stop, frequently, to feel the tracks for that vibrating hum that signifies an arrival coming soon. I have never liked surprises, even happy ones, and freight trains that cause upheaval are never bringers of happiness.

This diversion, while most likely temporary, has given me time to think about things. When I did my “review of 2017” it dawned on me that 2017 was really a continuation of 2016, when the big trains stopped coming. Oh, we had a few smaller ones, but nothing that decimated anything. The thing that I noticed was that these trains, while unexpected, had come through before, dropping off parcels filled with warning signs and preludes to unfortunate events. None of the bad stuff was happenstance; the writing had been on the wall. It seemed that, because I had been armed with the ability to sort of forecast the next arrival of a train, it was no longer as soul-crushing or decimating as it might have been, had I not been paying attention.

That, there, is my philosophical way of saying that bad shit just happens and what you do with the bad shit influences your ability to either deal with more bad shit or to shut the door and say, “None shall pass.” I could have just said that, but I liked weaving the whole “freight train” analogy. It’s more creative and wordy, and I am a goddamned writer, for fuck’s sake.

2017 wasn’t bad. Many wonderful things happened. I left a job I hated so much, walking through a pit of snakes barefoot would have been a preferable option to taking the shit I took daily. Some people can navigate the world of retail and be successful at it. Some people are impermeable to the optimism-crushing business practices of a big box conglomeration of corporate ineptitude and utter bullshit. None of those people work at Wal….errrrrr, Voldemort. Look at their faces. Talk to them a bit. There is blackness, weariness, and utter contempt brewing just underneath the surface of their “Happy to Help” smiles and false brightness in their voices. The job beats you down, and if the job doesn’t beat you down, the corporate selfishness and inexplicable cruelty to its employees will in short order.

I thought I was entering the field I wanted to be in when I took off the blue vest horror and burned it and shot holes in the happy face swag, but my health had other ideas. Instead, I found a job that was made for me, utilizing the skills I possess and combining them with the added bonus of not having to leave my house to do it. For an anxiety-ridden, OCD-laden, depressive disorder-maligned train wreck (*wink*) such as me, this was a Godsend.

Oh yeah, that. 2017 was the year I threw off the cloak of invisibility that allowed me to walk amongst the religious without drawing attention to the fact that I was not one of them. And had never been. Lying to the world I knew had become so normal that it suddenly was abnormal. I couldn’t do it anymore. So I. Just. Stopped.

Okay, let’s call 2017 The Year I Dumped the Koolaid. So much bad koolaid. Grape. I hate grape.

I mean it.

In 2017, I found my happy place, by the ocean. I went to concerts. I also successfully spoke to (and hugged! SQUEEEE!) celebrities I admired. This here was a BIG deal, because the possibility that I would have taken one look at any one of them, made an awkward face, yelped something like “Ghouuuulerrrrpemeritus!” and then run to hide behind the husband was actually a pretty good bet.

I got more tattoos. I shaved the side of my head. I put in all my piercings. I wore what the hell I wanted and made my face up in garish fashion when it suited me. I presented myself to the public as utterly WHO I AM. I refused to capitulate to the idea that 50 is old and it’s time to embrace the old lady hair and start knitting socks. I like socks, but I can’t knit, only crochet. I have little patience for it, and socks are easier to buy. Plus, you can get so many different varieties on Amazon!

Most of that was just embracing my inner and outer self and allowing myself to be unapologetically whatever-the-fuck I feel like being every day. If it needs to be said, I say it. If the day can best be attacked from the comfort of the couch, I allow it. I listen to my body and don’t push it beyond the warnings it gives me. Most of the time. I accept that I am a massively flawed human being and that means that when I am not fun to be around, I should just retreat until I can be. I don’t love that. In fact, I hate it. But I have made an uneasy pact with who I am and my limitations and if it keeps the trains away, then it’s all good.

Bad things happened. This was a very tough year for a lot of people I love and if I could have diverted the trains out of their way, I would have. Those things did not happen to me, but the feelings of helplessness and the frustration of not being able to “fix” things were the emotional burdens I chose to carry. Some days, it was a lot and I had to wonder if this life was just some sort of big “Pnk’d” episode.

I know it’s expected, but I won’t do it. I won’t GO OFF about the shit show that is playing itself out in this country. I will not rant about the DUMPSTER FIRE that is the White House. I will not LOSE MY SHIT over the complete and utter idiot who has taken a MASSIVE CRAP on the Office he holds. Nope. Won’t even say the name. I am not known for my restraint, but this time, I will abstain.

It rhymes with “Dump”, though.

No, it was not a bad year. It was a continuation of this thing called Life. If you’re just humming along, one can bleed into the next. If you aren’t paying attention, or only listening for the freight trains, you might not see the little deliveries of bliss, contentment, and just plain ol’ happiness that make their way to you by truck, by car, by plane, or on foot. What I mean to say is that there aren’t train tracks everywhere. Certainly, you need to look both ways before crossing them. Just don’t be so preoccupied by the possibility that you miss the other deliveries. Those are the stuff.

On to 2018!

Christmas bells are ringing. Can you hear them?

We are entering those last couple of chaotic, frenzied days before Christmas dawns and a new kind of frenzy begins: the tearing of gift wrap. People are racing around, some shopping for the first time, some finishing up, and others just putting finishing touches on their purchases. Meals have been planned, ingredients purchased, people making their lists and checking them twice. Some got started months ago and are looking on smugly at the ones who are still racing about, trying to get everything done. Let me be clear: I am not one of those smuggy McSmuggersons.

It has become exhausting, the whole thing, hasn’t it? The stress of simply making ends meet is hard enough the other 10 or 11 months out of the year, but the pressure that is exerted upon people to outperform, to exceed expectations, to go above and beyond to make it “an unforgettable holiday” is just staggering. Gone are the days when the toys Santa left underneath the tree had manageable price tags. Maybe it was hard, even then, to afford everything, but it certainly wasn’t as overblown and inflated as these days of Ipads, $800 cell phones, and $100 hoodies. Even the “lower end” items aren’t affordable; a parent has to basically pray to the Santa God to be able to find that hot item in the store because if it can’t be found, then it’s off to EBay to bid on one and pay twice or more than the original price because God forbid Junior might be disappointed.

When I was a kid, I was seldom disappointed at Christmas. My wish lists were never grandiose but we were very poor, and I know that it was hard for my mother and grandmother to afford things. I remember festive holidays, although I do not remember what it was like for them underneath the tree. I recall my homemade gifts and gifts crafted at school (every parent in the 70s remembers at least one gift from their child made of oak tag and macaroni, painted and glittered) and maybe a gift for each, store-bought with allowance money or babysitting money. I don’t know who filled their stockings when I was too young to do it. I imagine they went without.

Parents are going without again. Maybe in most cases, they always have. When I was raising my kids, their father and I always made sure there were gifts for each other. Christmas was the one time of year, aside from birthdays, when we went all-out. We spent the rest of the year focusing on the kids. If I wanted new shoes, I knew that Christmas was the time to ask. Or a coat, or a bottle of perfume. There simply wasn’t money for stuff for ourselves at any other time of year.

Nowadays, we are such an instant-gratification society that we fill the needs and wants year-round. We’ve conditioned our kids to expect it, too. Your 14 year-old broke his cell phone? You go get him a new one. Even if you go into debt, you just…..you do it. The alternative is to listen to him bitch. Or for him to be maligned in school. Things are different now; society is technologically driven. If you buy your 4 year-old a stuffed animal, it comes with a specially-coded tag that you can scan with your cell phone and input on a website, and then your 4 year-old can play wonderously adventurous games online, using an accurate representation of her new stuffed animal. And yes, by age 4, of course your 4 year-old can navigate her way around a website. When I was 4, I could read and write, but “computer” wasn’t even a word to me. I could make a mean mudpie, though, filled with sweet pea pods and milkweed, and cajole a 3 year-old into eating it. Those were the sum total of my advanced skills.

Those simpler times are gone. All the yuletide joy found at Christmas seems to be gone, too. My daughter-in-law and I were recently talking about how fun it used to be to go caroling. People used to do that, walking along the sidewalks of their neighborhoods, singing carols and occasionally being invited in for cocoa. Neighbors would bring out cookies. It was beautiful, especially when it snowed and the whole world was a bluish-white and the snowflakes glittered and the Christmas lights twinkled and when you finished a song, the silence in the air was the most perfect “sound” you had ever heard. On perfect, Christmas nights like that, one could be lulled into believing in the story of a child laid in a manger by young, exhausted parents and a star lighting the way. One also believed in the magic of Santa Claus and his reindeer and nothing was more exciting than climbing into bed on Christmas Eve and wondering where the jolly fat man was at that very moment.

Are those days gone, blown aside by technology and innovation; cast off as old-fashioned traditions; or even worse, deigned politically incorrect and out of time with the way things are today? When was the last time you sat, by the light of a Christmas tree, sipping something hot, and listened to some beautiful music? When was the last time you stood outside in the bracing cold and opened your mouth to catch a snowflake on your tongue?

Do you want to build a snowman? Yes, I know I just cursed you by putting that song into your head, but is that such a bad thing, really? How about going out after a new snowfall and making a snow angel, or having a good, old-fashioned snowball fight, followed by hot chocolate while your winter clothes lay in a cold, wet, heap by the door? Can you use your imagination and recall the way wet mittens smell? Do you remember what it was like to step in a wet puddle made my your boots as they dried by the door?

You can, if you try. The magic of Christmas is not found in the latest gadget, or must-have item. It isn’t found by going into debt for months to afford one day. It was never meant to be the retail-driven behemoth it has become. And it makes me very sad to know that plenty of people have never known those simple joys of Christmas. Lots of people dislike A Christmas Story because it has become a sort of tradition, watching it at least once (or in bits and pieces throughout Christmas day) and laughing about the funny parts. The thing about that movie, though, is its simplicity. It manages to convey everything I remember loving about Christmas, even though it took place a good 35 years before I was born. It harkens back to simpler times, when there was wonder on a child’s face at Christmas. Now, we are all, every one of us, jaded.

My wish for you all this Christmas is to find that wonder, reacquainting yourselves with the joy. Hold it within you, if only for a moment. As Tom Hanks’s Santa said, in the wonderful film, The Polar Express, the magic of Christmas lies within your heart.

Merry Christmas, my friends.