Monday, February 17, 2014

The Worst Month of My Life

I normally love the month of February.  It starts with Valentine's Day, which for a romantic like me,  is a really big deal.  To be sure, Valentine's Day is the beginning of my birthday celebration.  The celebration begins with some romantic time with the She-wolf and culminates with my family lavishly adoring me 10 days later on my actual birthday.  What's not to like about this month?

Well, this year everything was ruined by my mother's foray to Thailand to visit my nephew, Rocky.  She is remarkable for her age (she will turn 84 this year).  While in Thailand pictures of her began to surface on the internet with the caption "Remarkable 84 year old woman rides an elephant, and tames a tiger."  Or was it "Tames an elephant and rides a tiger?"  Or does it really even matter?  My friends, began asking, "Dude, I saw your mom taming a tiger?  She's amazing!"  or "Smart I saw your mom in Thailand,  I think she was riding a shark?  It's sad you don't have what it takes to keep up with your mother."

Yes, I normally look forward to my birthday.  During my birthday celebration, one of my kids typically asks to me to regale the family with a story from one of my excellent adventures.  Instead, this year I'm probably going to hear: "Dad, what do you think Grandma Smart is doing today?  Maybe we should call her and see what amazing things she's been up to recently."  The anxiety in me has been building to such an extent that I'm not even sure I want to publicly celebrate my birthday this year. When I can't even compete with an 83 year old woman, especially when this woman is my mother, life is definitely on a downward slide.  I think I'll just postpone my birthday celebration to a time when my mother is back in Salt Lake and busily engaged in more appropriate geriatric activities such as temple work, genealogy and meetings with the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Man crush

People who know me well (and by this I mean the 6 followers of Darrell's Yakimania), know that I can be a wee bit obsessive when it comes to things that interest me.  I have a hard time regulating my time or energy when it comes to things that I am into.  When I'm interested in something it's essentially pedal-to-the-medal-balls-out-take-no-prisoners total commitment until I get bored with it and then I usually walk away from the matter for a few months or even a few years, until I get interested again and then it's a where-have-you-been-all-my-life-how-did-I-live-without-you? total obsession again.  Things that would fall into this category would be cross-country skiing, snowboarding, caving, rock climbing, Japanese, Spanish, genealogy, family history, etc., ad infinitum, ad naseum.  I'm sure there's a mental health disorder somewhere in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorder, IV that could explain this phenomenon, but there' no way I'm ever voluntarily subjecting myself to a psychiatric examination to find out! It's simply way too frightening to think what might be revealed about my inner psychological workings in such an exercise.  Nope, I am not the least bit curious!

Now there are several interests that I never seem to tire of; namely: wrestling, fishing and all things Wolverine related.  Fishing and wrestling are understandable life time obsessions for me.  Wrestling defines who I am--it's more than just something I do--I AM a wrestler.  That has been a fact for decades. Fishing? While I cannot adequately explain this obsession, I'm pretty sure it's something biological.  During my last annual physical examination I asked Dr. Brett DeGooyer, my very patient and skilled family provider, to look carefully for gill-pods behind my ears to see if he could detect any physical signs to explain this phenomenon, or otherwise offer-up any medical opinions on the subject. I am disappointed to report that he found nothing.  And so while I'm not entirely sure what's up with this constant obsession, I comfortable with the explanation that it's something innate, such as an immutable characteristic unique to simply being me.  In private, I have confided to the She-wolf that it might be something sexual, but this is way too Freudian, and my thoughtful musings on this subject will have to be more fully explored in some future post. 

But my obsession with the Wolverine?!  I really don't get it.  One would think an obsession over this type of super-hero would be exclusively the domain of goofy, adolescent boys--after all, I am a very mature, respectable and normal middle-age man. I used to think it was because the Wolverine was so dang cool and rugged.  He's conflicted to the core and deeply mysterious.  He's hiding deep secrets and pains that no person could possibly understand.  And when he morphs, you know it's excruciatingly painful, which just compounds the problems for the bad guys he's going to dispatch because morphing puts him in a really, really bad mood, and some body's gotta pay for that.  Most important, you can't kill the dude.  Bullet to the head?  No problemo.  Knife to the heart?  Nope, he's going to keep coming for you. Yep, everything I want to be physically is represented by the Wolverine, even thought I know that I don't look anything like this most amazing superhero.

Last summer, the She-wolf made an interesting observation that, in a creepy way, might explain this obsession.  We were on our way to see the movie Les Miserables, when I commented, "I understand, the Wolverine is not only a really good actor, but that he sings amazingly well."  She gently corrected me, "Darling, the Wolverine is not in this movie.  Les Miserables stars Hugh Jackman."  "Well, regardless, I'm really excited to see this movie and see the Wolverine in a totally different context.", I insisted.  The She-Wolf then demanded, "What is your obsession with Hugh Jackman?"  I responded defensively, "Who said anything about Hugh Jackman?" Then the big light that invariably and embarrassingly illuminates most things for me in life shone directly, painfully and mercilessly into my guilty face, as my wife offered this insightful conclusion, "Darling, I think it's rather obvious you have a thing for Hugh Jackman."  I vehemently protested, "Say what?! That's ridiculous!  There's no way, I would ever have a thing for a dude! That's sick!" The She-wolf continued, "It doesn't matter what movie he's in, you demand to see it three times.  You refer to him as the Wolverine, but it's him you want to see.  Take Australia for example.  That was an okay movie, but you seemed to think it was on par with Gone with the Wind."  "That's just crazy!" I protested, "I just think the Wolverine is uber-cool and a got a little confused because after all, the Wolverine, is kind of like Hugh Jackman's alter ego."  With great satisfaction, she just mumbled, "Whatever you say, Big-guy."

I was really disturbed by this conversation and was in total denial until last Sunday during the Superbowl, they showed the Wolverine in a luxury, I mean Hugh Jackman, and I got all excited, "Sheila look, even the Wolverine, is at the game!"  The She-wolf just grinned and gave me that look that can only be described as her oft repeated, "Whatever you say, Big-guy."  She then sat back with great satisfaction to enjoy the game.  

In the end, I know she's right.  It's true I obsess over the Wolverine and maybe for reasons that I can't (or don't want to) explain.  As for Hugh Jackman?  Well, like the Wolverine, he's pretty cool too.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Top Ten List for 2013

As I set goals for 2014, I have reflected on the wonderful events and magical moments of 2013.  Our trip to Europe and dropping Lil D off at the MTC have to rank right up there.  But there were so many other significant events that it's hard to narrow it down.  Regardless, here's my best attempt at the Top Ten Things in my life in 2013

1. Going as an entire family with Lil D to take out her endowments at the Columbia River Temple; 
2. The birth of Ana Shea;
3. Chelsea's graduation from the University of London;
4. Darcee's fundraising race--Hero-Up for Children's Cancer;
5. Seeing Shea make the honor roll at UVU; 
6. Prague;
7. Discovering the magic of bees;
8. My entry into the world of sailing;
9. Earning my blue belt in Jujitsu; 
10. Weaseling my way into the Girls' Trip for 2013.

The Columbia River Temple with all our children.
Although 2013 held some big challenges, we feel so unworthy of all the good in our life.  Sheila and often comment to each other that we deserve so little, and yet have so much.  It feels to me as though life is less like a journey and more like a series of experiences and events that build upon each other, with each event providing meaning and context to what I am experiencing next.  The joys and challenges of today are enriched, appreciated and valued because of what happened yesterday.  I feel deeply about today because of my past encounters, with each event and personal observation contributing something significant to my present experience.  I know that I am progressing towards middle life because I hurt so much after wrestling and Jujitsu practice, but it feels less like a journey and more like a collection of meaningful encounters, with each one adding ever greater value and context to the next.   So my earnest prayer is that 2014 will contribute many more phenomenal events that will make my tomorrows deeper and more meaningful that what occurred yesterday.