Friday, December 10, 2010

Storms and Love

The entire city of St. Paul is shutting down. Feet -- as in more than one -- of snow are in the forecast. The school has cancelled all functions over the weekend, including a pivotal debate tournament (okay, let's just mention that HWCBN has placed 5th in the state in his first year of debate but then again, we're not writing about him).

The TV weather forecasters are in their element. It's nonstop camera time and the Matron does notice their make-up. We're talking men here. Women are better at concealment.

Merrick: "Do those guys decide the weathew?"

Matron: "They don't decide but just tell us what the sky is doing."

Merrick: "But they know the sky. Can't they make even mowe snow come?"

So, like half of Minnesota, today the Matron spent four times too much money on groceries (and wine) to prepare for 48 hours without the ability to drive. She filled up the van with gas and made sure the shovels and salt were ready.

If you've never lived in the land of snow, ice and below zero temperatures, she's here to tell you that it's worse than you imagine.

But all of those weathermen forecasting the future keep referring to the last big, big blizzard: October 1991.

"This will be just like the Halloween blizzard of 91."

"We haven't seen anything like this since 1991."

"Might be a repeat of 1991."

And that blizzard was when the Matron -- then a Young Miss -- met her husband. And all she can do is be happy about the storm to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Day the Music Died

The Matron was just a Young Miss when John Lennon was killed.

In her first year of college, she was just acclimating to the ups and downs --and dramas -- of dorm life. Evenings, she air-popped popcorn and made cocoa on a hot plate. She, of Liberal Inclinations, all sorts (and farther left as she ages, actually, which extends to an appreciation of people who don't share her views) was assigned to a fur-coat, fraternity-hopping, Republican party girl for a roommate.

It didn't take long before they hated each other. But that's another blog post.

On December 8 -- the day of Buddha's enlightenment and her own mother's birthday -- Young Miss and her roommate were pretending the burnt red hatred in the room didn't exist and studying in silence in the dorm room. When the building exploded with grief.

Cries of "John Lennon is dead!" "They killed him!" popped through the hallways. People pounded on their door. Students poured into the common room, weeping.

On the lawn, a bonfire instantly appeared, where distraught, sometimes wailing, young people kept vigil all night, worlds shifted because of a loss of not just an iconic figure, but someone who touched each of them personally.

When the news first broke, here is what Young Miss said:

"Who's John Lennon?"

She didn't know. She had never heard of the Beatles. No, she didn't grow up in a cave but a psychological and aesthetic desert, which she's accommodating for now.

Clearly seeing how important the death of 'what's his name' was for all her peers, the Young Miss pretended that she too believed the end of the world was nigh. She stayed up at the bonfire, feigning an odd combination of grief and knowledge.

Sitting at the all-night bonfire of grief, a college friend asked Young Miss: "What's your Lennon favorite?"

Young Miss (not knowing a single song or even certain if this Lennon guy wrote them): "He's such a genius. I can't pick!"

And so it went. But the bonfire was fun.

Flash forward a decade to when the then Young Miss was 'living in sin' (according to 58.9 of the Catholic family members and she means people, not percent; someone was on the fence) outside of marriage with her soon-to-be husband.

John, while listening to the radio: "Isn't that a great song?"

Young Miss: "Was that the Beatles?"

John, establishing patience as a virtue: "Mary, that was Joni Mitchell."

Before you judge her, know that anyone can read four sentences from Gone with the Wind and the Matron can supply, from memory, the next sentence. This is a HUGE book. She'll pit that against the Beatles fans any day. Plus, she named her daughter Scarlett. Where are all the Lennons in the kindergarten class?

But now she knows who John Lennon is and got a little whimsical (and outraged) yesterday. And she's forgiven the college roommate and wishes her well, hoping the same psychological courtesy has been extended in her own direction.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Waxing Philosophical

Now, the Matron is not adverse to Christmas. She was raised a good Catholic girl, skirt and all. In fact, she was under the assumption that if one (meaning she) were to become pregnant before marriage, her mother would kill her and, well, then there would be Hell. Interestingly, that assumption also included some kind of absolution for the murderous mother; only the pregnant teenager would be going to Hell.

Major childhood theological message: it is okay to kill pregnant teenagers.

Perhaps this is why the Matron waited until she was 33 to have her first child--in wedlock.

Wait! Digression (because she knows you love these). The Matron must not just wax philosophical but return to Friday's nostalgia. At her wedding, she's locked into eternity on film with a cigarette and martini, using her best Joan Crawford voice to proclaim children as the ultimate scourge on the earth and unwelcome in her life.

Six weeks later she was pregnant. But that's another story.

But back to the Christmas thing, which is the point of this meandering post. The Matron is indeed not adverse to Christmas, even as a practicing Buddhist and former Catholic. But this week, she was highly stressed about shopping: gifts for the teachers! the cousins! the postal worker! the newspaper delivery guy! the friends!

And in the midst of her anxiety of about shopping, the Matron had an 'aha' moment she's sure others have had: she was entirely focused on commerce, and not on spirit or friendship.

Christmas = consumerism.

News to anyone? Not to the Matron, but this week, she felt it -- felt the irony (um, didn't Jesus live barefoot or in sandals among the poor?), the blind gulp of purchasing that we all fall into so easily. It takes a fight to remove yourself from that beast.

But extricate, she will. Stuff fades away and falls apart. The bonds of love and relationships --and spirit -- last much longer (okay, that was an obvious sort of Nora Roberts call to emotion but sometimes there's just ten minutes for blogging).

Really. More spirit. Less stuff.