Tuesday, March 3, 2015

     A friend of mine brought up the question, “What specific moments of your life stand out?” Well, for a seven-year-old, that might be easy, but for a 71-year-old, that’s a challenging question. There were so many, and yet the ones that jump out at me wouldn’t translate into engaging-blog material. What about you? Narrow it down to the past year: what stands out? Your baby’s first step? A grand-parent’s last words? A milestone birthday phone call?

     I have a friend who is very ill. She told me that her grown daughter came to visit, and they both went to the hair salon and had their hair highlighted together. She had her stylist take photos. Soon she will lose her hair. When my friend told me that story, I immediately thought to myself, “Am I going to wait for a crisis to have photos like that taken?” I’m poised to book a couple of flights first thing tomorrow.

     When Mr. Wonderful and I were walking through the magnificent cathedral in Strasbourg, France in 2013, we were both humbled by the massiveness, the quiet, the stunning intricacy of gilded ceilings and graceful pews. At one point, we were standing in a ray of sunlight as it shone through the stained glass. We caught each other in the silence. We embraced without a word. I will never forget that moment. 

      I remember, in 1971, bouncing my first daughter on my lap after I nursed her in my rocking chair in the middle of the night. She squealed as she balanced each pudgy little foot on each of my knees. At that moment, time stood still, and to this day, it remains a jewel in my memory.

     When my youngest daughter lay on a hospital bed ready to give birth to twins, she held my hand tightly, and said, “I love you, Mom.” I will cherish that moment forever, and when I watch two little six-year-olds running down a soccer field, it feels like that moment was centuries ago.

      As I sang to my 93-year-old father on his deathbed, I prayed that he would hear the songs he taught me. Although he was not conscious, I told myself that he was harmonizing, and I want to believe he’s still singing somewhere in the sunshine.

     The thrill of signing my first books, the excitement of applause after winning a contest for an outstanding speech, the pride in performing on my beautiful grand piano for my friends--all of these pale in comparison to the intimate moments with loved ones.

     What stands out in your life? Maybe if we stop and think, it will change how we look at tomorrow. Maybe. 

     I hate commercials. I know you’re not supposed to hate, but I hate commercials. My enlightened friends always say in their poorly-hidden condescending tones, “We don’t watch anything live. We record everything.” Like why am I so stupid that I would even consider watching something live. Well, guess what? Fast-forwarding every time some feckless feline tries to sell me a new gluten-free cat chow is not my idea of staying engaged in the plot line.

     The commercials I most detest are the ones at dinner when I am trying to enjoy a home-cooked meal. Why would I want to hear about intestinal discomfort and bowel blockage when I am trying to chew my bok choy? Why do I want to watch some woman’s pipes leak because she didn’t get Botox in her buttocks? Why do I care about what kind of underwear “real men” wear to avoid the “stink?” Are you effen kidding me?
We have lost all sense of decorum. If the people writing this crap are over 50, they should be in an asylum. 

     Are these writers the same ones who grace us with bloody zombies, talking robots and end-of-the-world sagas? Spare me. When my daughter asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said, “to go back to the fifties.” We used to love the commercials then. We knew the jingles and sang them in the shower. I still remember “Maxwell House:  Good to the last drop,” “Puffed Wheat shot from guns,” “J-E-L-L-O.” 

     One of the joys of watching Downton Abbey besides Maggie Smith is that I can sit for one solid hour and not have to fast-forward or watch a 40-year-old complain of E.D. 
Bad news, however, is that I have to carry the TV to the loo.

Monday, March 2, 2015

     Like Jim Gaffigan who prides himself on being  a “clean” comedian, I am a “clean” blogger/humorist. He says he never really planned it that way, nor did I. I would be 100 times more funny if I could just drop an F bomb occasionally or use the “s” word like George Carlin. George was one of the funniest comics I ever heard. He knew the universal truth:It’s all bullshit.” Don’t get smug. It doesn’t count if you’re quoting.

     Just think of all the hilarious comics you’ve ever heard. How many of them would you label “clean.” Imagine a routine by Lewis Black or Joan Rivers (R.I.P.) without an expletive. That would be like watching a burlesque show in a fog. 

     Laughter is such a subjective thing. I have been a keen laughter observer for the past five years, and I’m here to tell you people are laughing about shit that is totally not funny--not funny at all. They are laughing at things like “How do you like the snow?” “My dog slept in this morning.” “Boy, I’m tired today.” People laugh when they’re nervous or when they feel sorry for you. So, I’ve decided that I need to find a whole audience of kind souls who feel sorry for me and are often nervous, and I will bring down the effen house.

     I am in the process of preparing a long monologue, and I need some humor. The topic is far from funny, but if I just talk all that time, they will be asleep by my third preposition. So I’ve learned that if you can’t say something funny, do something stupid. I have a PhD in stupid. After describing the childhood of the person I’m describing, for example, I could sit down on the floor in the cobra position and just wait for people to start giggling. Or, I could just stick a piece of Double Bubble in my mouth and blow a huge bubble. That would throw them.

     Humor is like art; some like it primitive, some like it colorful, others like it abstract, and some haven’t got an effen clue what any of it means, so they laugh at everything.

     We know a couple of people with whom you cannot have a conversation because they take whatever you say and try to make a joke out of it. This is a feckless habit, and I strongly recommend against it. Wtf. I am not a straight man; I am trying talk to you. Hello. 

     Most people should not tell jokes. When someone is going to tell me a joke, I excuse myself and head for the loo. Stories are as bad, if not worse. When someone says, “I have a story to tell you,” I take that to mean “I’m going to be bored and expected to chuckle, and this sucks.” Btw, did I tell you about the time that. . . 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Laughing matters:  Week of February 22, 2015

In a climate where we have seen less than two hours of sun in the past 9 (count ‘em) nine days, one must really scrounge for reasons to laugh. Here are the few I discovered living in the SADD world of Mr. Wonderful:

  1. the look on his face at his first glance out the fogged-up window in the morning
  2. the look on his face when we sit down to dinner, and he asks me to pass the afghan
  3. the look on his face when he looks at hundreds of twigs he has to pick up after the wind has replaced all the ones he picked up the previous day
  4. the look on his face when the sun goes behind a cloud, and the wind picks up just as he starts washing the car
  5. the look on his face when he tries cutting into my cement pork chops
  6. the look on his face when he looks at the TV guide after dinner
  7. the look on his face when I tell him I forgot to pick up his shirts
  8. the look on his face when I ask him if he would like to go take an Alaskan cruise
  9. the look on his face when I remind him we have to meet with our CPA about our tax obligation
  10. the cut on his chin that he got shaving

Now none of these situations may sound laughable, and they aren’t. The scrunched up, mouth down, shoulders hunched reaction of my love to the above, though, is definitely laugh-worthy. We have to laugh, or we would never survive a climate where one day it’s 75, and the next day, they predict snow. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

     I read an article about friendship tonight. I spend a lot of time thinking about my friendships and the kind of friend I want to be. I was struck by a couple of things that were revealed in the article’s recent study. First, the average American said he or she has only two close friends---down from three 10 years ago. Secondly, according to this study, only 25% of people interviewed said that they had a close friend, and those who had only one said that it was their spouse. Thirdly, as we age, we become more selective in our friendships not wanting to spend energy on people with whom we don’t engage on a deep enough level to pursue the relationship. Finally, it said that friendships change as our circumstances and interests change. That seems so logical, but it doesn’t diminish the sometimes sad feeling that we no longer connect with people we once did.

     I was very validated by this article, even though it’s only one study. I have had some interesting friendship experiences through the years. Some of them have scarred me, and others have inspired me. Years ago, I had a good friend (or so I thought) tell me she couldn’t be my friend anymore because I was too talented, too accomplished. She said I intimidated her. I was so dumbfounded, I couldn’t believe my ears. She was pretty, talented and ambitious herself. I was hurt and confused. Another friend a few years later told me she couldn’t be my friend because I didn’t value myself enough. What? That friend was not a close one, but I was also stunned and confused. A few years ago, a friend said to me, “You know you are too pretty to have all those wrinkles on your face.” I didn’t know what to do with that comment. Was she criticizing me or trying to help? That brings up the “total honesty” question which is for another discussion. Another friend made fun of a friendship card I sent to her after she helped me through a crisis with my baby. I was very hurt and to this day, I cannot bring myself to send a friendship card even though I know her insensitive comments were about her, not me.  Who says words can’t damage? When people hurt us, we sometimes unconsciously build up walls that prevent us from making deeper level connections. It is difficult to let go of the old scars and look at new friendships with an open mind.

     I do know that as I am getting older, I don’t want to waste my time on people who don’t listen. I am not a sounding board, a therapist or someone’s personal audience.If I have a conversation with someone, and I walk away knowing their life history, and they don’t know I have children, I cannot be a friend to that person.  I am a genuine human being who chooses to share feelings and experiences with someone of like mind. If I don’t have that connection, I cannot be a friend to that person. That’s just me. We are all different, and some friends fill needs that others don’t. 

     I treasure the beautiful friendships I have. Each one is unique, but there are very few for whom I would fly across the country if they were in trouble. I used to worry about not having a BFF. Hard to believe that people even think about such things late in life, but we do. I listen to the throwaway comments of some of my peers, and I hear such things as, “She probably thinks I’m boring,” or “I really don’t have that many friends anymore.” Comments like these tell me that most of us think about our friends and cherish those who mean most to us. Sometimes we hold onto friendships that are destructive because we don’t know how to let go. Sometimes letting go is the only way to keep from letting someone pull us into their quicksand. 

     The article spoke of the issue of loneliness. I am very blessed because some of my closest friends are those who will never hurt me or betray me: a blank page, a piano keyboard, a path in the woods, a blanket on a beach, a melody in my ear, a good read. They don’t replace human friends, but they keep me company so I am rarely lonely. When I was divorced many years ago, I had to learn to be my own best friend. My friends changed a lot the first few years I was alone. Initially, I seemed to gravitate toward people who were as sad as I was. I soon realized they just made me sadder. I had to be around people who were focused on positive things so I could get out of myself. I learned that by helping others who were hurting in some way, I could gain perspective and give the good inside of me. Nature became my constant companion, and my students became my extended family. My daughters were my life raft, and my job was my anchor. I had few close friends at work, as I was older than many of my peers, but I seemed to fall into the role of big sister and for some, role model. I became a local actress so my friends stood next to me on stage. We could all be someone else  for a while. The end of the play’s run was always sad for us, as we had to go back to being ourselves.

     I try to be the friend I need. I am interested in how my friends think, feel, process things, look at their world. I am there for them to listen when they need me. I don’t judge, and I don’t give advice unless asked. I never one-up or brag, and I always remember what they tell me and ask about whatever it is the next time we are together. I know the names of their kids, and I know how they feel about social issues. I avoid politics and religion, and I always praise them for their unique talents. I know their signals that say “Don’t ask,” “Please understand,” “I’m not always like this.” I let them teach me by being open to different ideas and opinions, and I teach only by example. I have several whom I call “friends,” but there are only a few who are true soul mates. For them, I am grateful. They know who they are. Some of them will never see this, and that’s ok.

Right:  My soul mate and best friend, Mr. Wonderful:)

Thursday, February 26, 2015


  1. If little girl puppies are so cute, why do they call them bitches?
  2. Who has the guts to write a handbook for men?
  3. Who invented human nature, and where are they now?
  4. Who said that women were supposed to cook?
  5. What joker told men that women need two dads?
  6. What arrogant man invented the double oven?
  7. Someone tell Spanx that girdles went out with reel to reel 
  8. Why I will never be as smart as my grandma
  9. When I grow up, I want to be an alcoholic
  10. Life sans cursive
  11. When will quiet and refined be back in style?
  12. Who were the dirty dozen, and what did they write?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

     What can I write about? The crap weather we’ve been having here in southern Paradise? Nope. How about how the economy is rebounding? Nope (can’t afford the blue leather cropped jacket even on sale at White House Black Market). How the world is a safer place than in my childhood? Who’s kiddin’ who here? How my 23.4 minute workout is helping me “maintain?” Maintain what? flab? crepe? the fantasy?

     I have wracked my pea brain all morning trying to think of a topic I have not yet treated in my 16-month tenure as an QB (Queen Blogger --had you goin’ there, didn’t I? Y’all thought I’d gone out for the team in my stilettos:)

     Nope. None of these things is valid or interesting. So I will talk about my upcoming anniversary that I would love to celebrate with all of you loyal “laughter effects” fans. In less than 1,033 hits and nine blogs from this very minute, I will have reached 400 posts and 20,000 hits. Although these stats are not really brag-worthy, I am very proud that so many people have read my slice-of-life musings. You may not care what this does for me, but as I am the Queen of this blog, I am going to tell you anyway.

     When I get up before 5:00 a.m. every day, I sit down at this keyboard and share my morning thoughts. Some of these have been brewing in my brain for years; others just show up at the first swallows of caffeine. Being able to share my perspective on the highs and lows of life is something I treasure. If one person reads it and says to himself, “Yeah, right,” or some woman says to her spouse, “You ought to read this,” then my day is complete. Of course, I never know who says what, as there is no way for my readers to connect with me on my blog. So I hear it occasionally in other ways. Sometimes, I will be at the grocery store and one of my friend’s husbands will approach me and say, “I loved your blog last week. How do you come up with this shit?” Or one of my former students will write me a note and say, “You were a crazy teacher, and you haven’t changed a bit! When I read your blog, it took me back to 1983.” Yup. This is what keeps me writing and keeps me pretending that people out there are thinking about things that never occurred to them or are reading a perspective that might enlighten. Yes, this is my motivation. I could write another book and sell another couple hundred copies, but that’s too much work, and no one really cares. This way, I get to write every day and pretend I’m a best seller. It’s a wonderful fantasy; I pretend I’m in the mainstream.

     To celebrate this anniversary, I plan to do something very special for y’all that costs absolutely nothing and necessitates no effort whatsoever. When I come up with the plan, I’ll let you know. You will have to read the next 8 blogs, however, so you don’t miss it, just in case it might be something valuable like a Pet Smart coupon or a trip to Belize.