Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Koan Of The Minivan

I am kind of embarrassed about having left that last post up for ten days, because it looks like I'm sitting here basking like a whale in having finished the novel, when the actual truth is, I have been doing the holiday thang and have dropped into bed at the end of each day, looked at my computer, sighed, and turned it off without posting. And there's definitely a place for that sometimes; yes indeed, I am discovering that there is. The Tall Doctor says he seconds that, and since my mother reads this, I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

However, I have noticed over the past few days that I have been composing blog entries in my head nonstop, so it's obviously time to start up again, even though TTD and I did stay up until midnight last night wrapping presents. Oh, how we wrapped! We wrapped Thomas the Tank Engine videos and track. We wrapped books. We wrapped more books. We wrapped a mysterious water toy for the Urplet's bath. We wrapped sweaters and socks and all manner of random crayons and Play-Doh. By the end of the evening we had decided everything looked better wrapped, and we'd started on the mixing bowls, the china, and the cats. Those last were kind of resistant, though.

As was the minivan. Yes, it's hard to wrap a minivan, even if you just bought it and it's Christmas time. I am, you understand, referring to the gold Honda Odyssey we bought on Tuesday. And when I say bought, I mean we BOUGHT that sucker! We wandered onto the lot, just looking, and three hours later we drove out in it. Bye bye. It's ours.

Of course, all the way home, as I navigated from my nice, high perch, toasted my bottom on the heated seats, and drifted in the anonymity driving a minivan in Iowa bestows, I contemplated writing scathingly ironic blog entries about the poor minivan. I was going to trumpet my own chagrin: look, here I've given in and bought the ultimate American Mamamobile! I am Iowan! I have capitulated and will soon gain fifty pounds, grow out my hair, and begin wearing hemmed jean shorts, ankle socks, sneakers, and Tshirts with Christian slogans (I can say that because I AM Christian, but the day you catch me in a Tshirt that proclaims same is the day you call for the nice men in the white coats)!

In short, I wanted to blog away the subtext of the minivan, just to make sure that I was aware of the subtext, and that everyone was aware of my awareness. And that's not such a bad goal. Any time I conform to a stereotype, I should have a reason; when I buy something as symbol-hobbled as a minivan, I should know what I'm symbolizing.

And I should also know enough to know when to let it go. OK, so the minivan stands for conformity, homogeneity, James Dobson, soccer, mindless consumerism (no, wait, that's SUVs), suburbia, and Kierkegaardian despair. [Oh, you laugh? Isn't it the Big K who said that to be in despair is not to know you're in despair? And TS Eliot who talked about the people searching to be, "Distracted from distraction by distraction,"?] OK, so the minivan is a cliche. OK, so I look the part anyway, which makes it worse.

But the thing is, so what? We need the space, the price was right, I have to commute sixty miles round trip to work in the snow in the wee hours of the morning so need the Subaru for that, we want to be able to take the kids on longer trips, we refuse the SUV, ergo, minivan. I can fuss and ironize all I want, but you know? I think I'll spend my energy elsewhere. Instead of wasting time bemoaning my cliched status, I think I'll regard my minivan as my own personal sound of one hand clapping, my own private meditation maze. Its very complacency will have to keep me from becoming complacent. The minivan as instrument of spiritual mortification? Why the hell not.

Plus, it has a Rear Entertainment System. Oh stop laughing; it means it has a DVD player the kids can watch in the back.

I can still hear you laughing. Cut it out. I don't want to have to come back there.


Blogger DoctorMama said...

Hee hee hee.

But you know you're still clinging to something, since you got the HONDA minivan. Admit it, the Windstar would be going a little too far, wouldn't it?

7:26 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

A young monk came to the master and asked him, "Master, how can I become enlightened?" The master replied, "Go and buy a minivan and drive it back here, with three of your fellow novices as passengers."

The young monk did as the Master ordered; he returned the next day in a new minivan with his fellow novices. The master was pleased, and invited the monks into his home.

"But master," the young monk said, "How does buying this vehicle bring me closer to enlightenment? Will it not bind me closer to earth?"

The master smiled, then poured a cup of tea for each monk and for himself. While they drank their tea, he poured his onto the floor. At the moment he did this, all of the young monks became enlightened.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous MFA Mama said...

Two mommy bloggers were trying to get their children across town. One loaded her kids into a nearby minivan and took them, and the other stayed behind, seething. Later, the second mommy blogger berated the first mommy blogger--"why did you drive the minivan? Minivans are fraught with tanha and bad connotations."
"Ah," said the first mommy blogger. "I drove the minivan from point A to point B and got out. You are still in it."

3:36 PM  
Blogger Masked Mom said...

I knew a kid in high school who wore a T-shirt that said, "Conformity without ignorance." Now I'm pretty sure someone wiser, older and probably deader said that but after an exhaustive (okay ten minutes on the Internet) search, I'm not able to put a famous name on the quote. So, you know, take comfort in the fact that you have embraced the wisdom put forth by a seventeen-year-old, Dungeons-and-Dragons playing, Star-Trek-watching, slightly overweight, pimply-faced guy.

He also had a shirt that said, "Help Stop Continental Drift." The guy was a genius!

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WV mini-van-driving Mama

p.s. this will make your Christmas present oh so much more appropriate!!!

10:25 AM  

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