I just read a book review of the novel Indignation by Philip Roth. For those of you unfamiliar with Roth, he is one of the most prolific and respected American writers of our time. Of course, if you are not Jewish and male, it's entirely possible you haven't heard of him, since his most famous (recurring) character is Nathan Zuckerman, as in Goodbye, Columbus, etc. His most recent novel is Indignation, about -- and I'm only guessing here since I didn't actually read the book (who has time to read these days?) but only read the NYTimes Review of the book, which was fairly cryptic so as not to give away the plot highlights -- a dead man fairly indignant (get it?) with his circumstances.
I don't expect you to go out and buy Roth's book. I do expect you to marvel at a 75 year-old who is able not only to write a well-respected, complex and thoughtful novel but also able to churn out three such novels in the past three years. How does he do it? You get the feeling that he has a lot to say before he has to rely substantially on ghost writers (coincidentally, the title of one of his books). Roth has won a Pulitzer, a National Book Award, and countless other literary awards over the years. So, I'm a Catholic girl completely inspired by a guy like Roth, even though he's a bit indignant about life, and life in America, these days (if you've read Roth's book, American Pastoral, which won the Pulitzer Prize, I think you'll agree).
What does Philip Roth have to do with my life these days? Nothing, really. Except that I love the word Indignant. And think it's so completely perfect a word to describe that state of mind, without the need for further explanation.
As we get older, there is no doubt our consciousness takes one of two paths. We either mellow, or become increasingly critical, with the events and people around us. You don't have to be 75 to have this happen to you. It happens all through life, where you (hopefully) mature to the point where you can either increasingly go with the flow, so to speak, or fight back. Of course, it doesn't have to be all or nothing, and you can be mellow one minute and critical the next.
What I'm trying to say (yes, yes, get to it ....) is that the whole point of this blog was an attempt on my part to take a more mellow approach to life swirling around me, and around my family. I'm still doing everything I can to take that approach, but it isn't always easy. There is always the danger of becoming indignant over the frenzy. Because, well, the danger seems especially real these days. Especially when,
The puppy peed on Ethan's bed last week, requiring a new mattress (it really was time for a new one, but it's nice to be able to choose the time, rather than have it chosen for you by an over-excited mutt); we lost power for 48 hours last week, causing near total upheaval; we had a full weekend of swimming in Cambridge, MA (45 minutes from our house) including trials/finals (swim in the morning and at night, with a break in between for swimmers (not parents) to eat/sleep; the ice storm that caused the power outage caused considerable destruction of trees and lots of cleanup; Julia and I had an orchestra concert on Sunday afternoon (power came back on Saturday at 6 pm), followed by dinner at our house for my mother's birthday (about 20 people for lasagna); Chloe (12 year-old golden retriever) is suffering from another bout with lyme disease; Leila (puppy) got neutered yesterday and can't play with the other dogs but has to be walked several times daily; icy conditions led to an early morning drive back and forth to St. Johns yesterday and likely Friday; big snowstorm coming Friday night; have to pick up Will from airport tonight; have to retrieve Ethan from water polo camp at Deerfield (2 hours away) on Sunday late afternoon; was in the car on the way to deposition last week and called to confirm time, only to be told counsel had rescheduled without confirming; lots of legal memos under construction; don't have an xmas tree yet, nor ANY presents wrapped; still need to get ready presents for teachers and coaches (not to mention host/hostesses of open houses and my neighbors who removed the snow from the end of my driveway.... oh, and the winner of the Biggest Loser weighs less than me? How can that be? And, why do you have to weigh 250 pounds to get on there, anyways; couldn't we all use a personal trainer and a spa vacation from our kids (not to mention dogssssss)?
Anything else? Well, to be honest, and mellow, at least we have power. And healthy kids. And a house. And presents to wrap. And work. And, a winning candidate (out of Chicago in the nick of time?). And the Celtics and Bruins are winning (though who knows what will happen to the Patriots).
So, you might say I'm doing everything I can to remain completely UN-Indignant with respect to events surrounding us these days. It certainly isn't easy. In fact, it's all too easy to rant and rave at circumstances facing the country, like the economy, stupid; events facing the world, like continuous threats from complete whack jobs; and everday situations concerning my family, like the changing landscape of Christmas as kids get older and Santa (and God) are harder to discern; and, well, events generally (NB: I absolutely refuse to join a soccer league, if only to hold back the oncoming tidal wave).
Un-Indignant is a good thing, considering I'd give myself a complete heart attack at this point if I didn't go with the flow. Not that it's easy. Many times I find myself on the edge of holding it together, honestly, and only the complete fear of what may happen if I succumb holds me there. Believe it or not, I find myself buying more and more sugar cereal for my kids as a sort of panacea for the insanity of activities and school they have to face each day. Crazy? You betcha.
p.s. from the list above, you can cross off the pick-up at the airport tonight; Will just called to say flight was cancelled, he's coming in tomorrow at 11:30 (so much for my re-scheduled hair appointment...).