Tag Archives: Humor

Don’t Expect A Fish To Climb A Tree – #4 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Don’t Expect A Fish To Climb A Tree – #4 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

 

“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

~ Albert Einstein

 

 

Judging others is built into our DNA. I’m sure we crawled out of the primordial soup, looked at the slimy amphibian next to us and judged him for his weird lazy eye. That is if you believe in that particular theory of evolution….not that I’m judging creationists….honest….that wouldn’t be very Christian of me, would it?

OMG, did you totally check out Hank's middle eye?

OMG, did you totally check out Hank’s middle eye?

See, you are most likely judging me right now. Who does she think she is? Does she even have data to back up that last, oddly-constructed sentence? And, while I’m at it, what’s with the over-use of elipses? Pause much?

And, I’m judging you right now for that weird-ass haircut you got. And that shirt. What the hell are you thinking wearing that shirt?

We all do it. Definitely inside our heads and, after a drink or two, outside our heads. Often loudly.

There are a lot of reasons to judge. Much of the time we judge because it simply makes us feel a little better about ourselves and our lives. It’s also why I binge watched “Cheaters” and “The Anna Nicole Smith Show” right after having twins.

Thank you Anna Nicole Smith! I do feel better!

Thank you Anna Nicole Smith! I do feel better!

But, it’s also a means of discerning what is or is not acceptable to us. We have an innate need to choose people who do not threaten our pre-conceived notions of who we are and our belief systems.

I don’t like myself when I judge people. But, I also have a really hard time just not doing it.

So, rather than shutting down what appears to be a natural human response, maybe there is a way to simply not do it so harshly.

You’ve all heard a great deal about my Mom. But, I tell you , she passed on some of the most amazing advice I have ever gotten. And, she had a wonderful take on judgment that went something like this:

Everyone on earth is in a different phase of their lives. Some are advanced in their overall, spiritual development while others are just beginning to walk. Judging all humans on an even playing field is like expecting a toddler to win the Boston Marathon. It not only makes no sense, it’s a disservice to them and to you.

Don’t assume you are the marathon runner in this analogy….you may still be in diapers so don’t be getting all high and mighty.

But, imagine the opportunities for interesting relationships with people if you just keep that idea in mind. Not only do you open up the possibility of helping another person get on their feet, but you may also benefit from a helping hand now and then.

Life can be a real slog, people. I know I’ll take all the help I can get.

So, next time I start down that path and think or say those petty, shitty judgments, I’m going to attempt to step back a bit and think about it.

I’ll forget to do it more times than I remember, I’m sure. So, I’ll apologize in advance if I forget with any of you.

All that being said, for the love of God, go change that shirt. Really. You look like a lunatic.

Nevermind. A bad Hawaiian shirt is the least of your worries.

Nevermind. A bad Hawaiian shirt is the least of your worries.

 

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only
their own  pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the
right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

~ Paulo Coelho

Don’t Be Defined By Your Dining Set – #3 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Don’t Be Defined By Your Dining Set – #3 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

“That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff,
you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.”
~ George Carlin

I’ve never been one to keep stuff. I was raised by a couple of minimalists who came out of the Great Depression (as opposed to the Mediocre or Meh-Not-So-Great Depression). They  realized that owning possessions can be a fleeting thing and it can all vaporize with just the bad intentions of a couple of greedy bankers.

Yeah, THAT could never happen again, right?

Yeah, that could never happen again, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. This aversion to owning a bunch of stuff is not rooted in any sort of noble goal to make the world a better place. Nor is it coming from some philosophical belief or my life-long study of Immanuel Kant.

(That’s right, bitches, I got me some Wikipedia!)

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with being able to put everything I own in the back of a car and take off at a moment’s notice as if I lived the life of some seedy criminal, needing to steal away from a broken down motel under cover of night.

Ultimately, it’s always just been a sign of freedom and independence for me to travel light and not get too attached to things.

My tidy little bubble burst when I got married. Of course, even if you marry someone who has the same minimalist mindset, you still end up with twice as much shit.

It’s pretty hard to avoid unless you are marrying a Buddhist monk. And I wouldn’t recommend that. They are super hard to buy for at Christmas.

I, on the other hand, did not marry a minimalist. To his credit, he is one now (probably because I threw out all his stuff while he was sleeping).  But, at the start, not so much.

When we first moved together to a new house, I watched in horror as we filled up both our cars plus a fair sized U-Haul.

Twice.

overloaded-car

Here’s a sampling of a typical conversation that day.

“Why are we keeping all these random pieces of wood?”

“Because it’s perfectly good wood.”

“But what do you plan to do with it?”

“I was going to make a book case out of it….or something.”

“We already have a book case. And, you don’t know how to build stuff.”

“But, what if in 30 years I decide that I want to learn carpentry or whatever and I find that it’s a huge talent I never even knew I possessed? I’ll need wood for all the awesome furniture I’ll build in my new career.”

“Have we packed the vodka yet?”

Thanks to a healthy combination of booze and compromise, I pushed through the crisis and no one was harmed.

I still have an overwhelming urge to purge. I lose sight of myself if I’m sitting in clutter and start to feel oddly invisible.

I’ve started to realize that I’m allowing my discomfort with clutter to define how I feel about myself. And, at the end of the day, is that really any different than someone who is happiest surrounded by a lot of stuff?

Tomato/tamahto – we have the same affliction at the end of the day. It’s internal definition by outward elements.

I shouldn’t be defined, or define myself, by my possessions or my lack of possessions. Both are false representations of who I really am.

My fear of being weighed down by material items must be some indication that I have issues with commitment, right?

Maybe I have some weird sort of ADD and get distracted way too easily by objects in general.

Or, perhaps it all boils down to some psycho-sexual Oedipal complex. Can women even have an Oedipal complex?

How the hell should I know? I’m not a therapist. I barely even own a couch!

I do suspect, whatever the core reason is behind it, that any reaction that is not within a moderate spectrum warrants closer examination. Getting too much pleasure from buying stuff or feeling too much joy in getting rid of it, is indicative of something else.

Hoarder, minimalist or monk. I guess the bottom line is to be sure it’s a choice and not a band-aid.

“I flipped through catalogs and wondered:
What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”
~ Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club

 

 

Image credits:

Image #1 – http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/pictures/2011/1/11/
1294755406420/Michael-Douglas-in-Wall-S-007.jpg
Image #2 – http://www.khmer440.com/chat_forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=16852

Don’t Be An Emotional Litterbug – #2 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Don’t Be An Emotional Litterbug – #2 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

“Always leave a bathroom cleaner than how you found it.”
~Viola Barnett, armchair philosopher

Really, you couldn't light a match?

Really, you couldn’t light a match?

I was the recipient of many sage nuggets of advice from my Mom. And, as with most of her lessons, it was intended to be applied in a  much broader context.

Don’t get me wrong, it is no small thing to leave a literal bathroom cleaner than you found it. Only since having children have I truly understood how that can change a person’s life.

But, what if we took that concept and applied it to human interaction? I’m not suggesting we Purell the hell out of the world and its inhabitants. Not that I haven’t had that overwhelming urge when stepping out of a children’s museum.

Hurry, I think we missed a couple over by the touch tank!

But, what if, every time you had any interaction, large or small, with another human, you decided to leave them better off than when you found them, even in the very smallest way?

What if you challenged yourself to step outside of how you are feeling that day and, instead, make it a point to turn someone else’s day around?

And, what if you don’t get to see any results from your effort but you do it anyway, knowing you may not get any immediate satisfaction?

You know the saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? I’ve had a few backfires in this quest to spiff up my fellow humans.

Some of you may already know my story about trying to help out a local hobo who was very verbose about the fact that he did not like carrots.

In fact, he tore me a new one and I ran away like a coward. So, that is an example, at least on the surface, of my good intention going horribly wrong.

But I posit that maybe it didn’t go as wrong as it seemed. Even if the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped for, I still would like to believe that I have added a positive intention into the world. Whether it’s noticed by the I Hate Carrots Hobo or anyone who happened to see me try, at least the attempt was made.

And, I did walk away with a huge lesson learned. (Aside from looking more closely at a person’s dental status before offering hard food.)

You can’t go about this with the expectation or hope of a particular response. That sort of takes the focus off of someone else and puts it right back on you. It defeats the purpose of getting outside your own bubble for a minute.

On another occasion, I decided that I was going to try to walk around all day with at least the glimmer of a smile on my face, as opposed to what I expect I usually look like – confused and annoyed.

I won’t lie, I think I probably looked a bit creepy.

Well, this is what it FELT like anyway…..

Well, this is what it FELT like anyway…..

It’s really hard smiling for no specific reason. And I think I was so preoccupied with trying to look natural, I never noticed whether I got more smiles in return than normal or anyone seemed a tish happier.

OK, so again, I lazily went back to focusing on myself, thereby missing the entire point of the exercise.

It’s like any habit, I suppose. It takes repetition to make it a natural part of who you are.

At the very least, if I can’t leave someone better off than I found them, I’m trying not to add to the mess.

You don’t have to try to feed the homeless or frighten children with your forced smile like me. But, at least start by making sure you don’t leave anyone in worse shape than you found them.

Baby steps people. Baby steps.

“Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness;
however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.”

~ Pooh’s Little Instruction Book (inspired by A.A. Milne)

 

 

Image credits:
Photo #1 – http://www.kab.org/
Photo #2 – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcas_cherry_point/8580947002/
Photo #3 – Drew, fledgling cartoonist
Photo #4 – Willem DeFoe, who is often not this crazy looking and I’m guessing this is a selfie

Achieving Emotional Grace (AEG#1) – Find Your Naked Truth

Achieving Emotional Grace (AEG#1) – Find Your Naked Truth

blacksheep5

“Not being yourself is like walking around in shoes that are
two sizes too small. At best you will be endlessly uncomfortable,
at worst you will end up bloody, scarred and crippled.”

~ Irene Barnett, after several lemon drops, half of a joint and an Excedrin PM 

 

I’m not going to lie, I have been tortured by this first post in this series about Achieving Emotional Grace. I just felt like this first one should hit on a more foundational level and set the tone.

Oh, and also the debilitating realization that I’ve committed to something I have no idea I have the insight nor the cohones to deliver on.

I tend to get most of my ah-ha moments either in the shower or on the toilet. This one came to me on the toilet. And, knowing that many of you will read this while sitting in the same place, there is a certain synchronicity to this.

It occurred to me that much of the sage advice to come would be more useful within a bigger context.

So, I landed on Personal Authenticity.

Or, your naked truth…or intrinsic self….or genuineosity….because “Authenticity” is such a patchouli-smelling word that brings forth images of mood rings and Stevie Nicks.

Muddy Gray = Lower intestinal distress

Muddy Gray = Lower intestinal distress

The crux of it, regardless of label, goes like this: Lack of falsehood or misrepresentation.

When we are children, it would never enter our minds or hearts to be anything or anyone other than who we just…are.

Pretty sure this guy is fairly comfortable with his naked truth. Though I can’t imagine other parts of him are feeling all that great….

Pretty sure this guy is fairly comfortable with his naked truth. Though I can’t imagine other parts of him are feeling all that great….

But, as we get older, that truth can become clouded by outside influences for any number of reasons. Acceptance, insecurity, societal norms or just plain survival – any or all are solid reasons to create a persona or skin to wear in life.

What I think we don’t realize is that we are damaging ourselves in our pursuit of protection.

The longer we wear these personas, the deeper our authenticity is buried until it takes a team of archeologists to uncover the gem at the center. So, knowing who you are means clearing the debris.

I lost any connection to my personal foundation when I had kids. I know, I seem to blame them for a whole lot of stuff that seems pretty unfair given their small 11-year-old shoulders.

(I am, however, pretty certain they, alone, are responsible for the entire economic meltdown of 2008. And, I’m still looking into it, but, I think that whole ozone thing may be their doing as well.)

Mayhem on three wheels.

Mayhem on three wheels.

Mine was a slow disconnect that occurred without my even realizing it. Out of necessity and survival, I shifted most or all of my energy to these little people who depended on me so completely, losing sight of myself in the process.

It wasn’t until about 8 years into it that I realized I no longer had a clue as to who I was. For nearly a decade I steadily became untethered from myself until I barely had a memory of myself.

Bummer, huh?  God, go get a drink. This broad is DEPRESSING!!!

Hey, the good news is, eventually, my survival instinct kicked in and I pretty much declared, “This next decade? This one is MINE, bitches!”

Which is all well and good but, how in the hell do you find your way back? I know I still struggle a lot with paying attention to those internal cues that tell me something just doesn’t ring quite true for me. It’s so easy to lose that in all our daily noise.

Ariana Huffington wrote a fantastic piece called Are You Living Your Eulogy Or Your Resume about living a life that is true to you. It’s a very compelling idea.

And, it’s your assignment.

(I know, you didn’t think there’d be homework. And no, this will not be on the mid-term. Don’t you give me that Judd Nelson look! Now stop asking questions and get back to your seat or it will be detention for you!!)

Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns.

Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.

So, come on, kids, let’s write our own eulogies!!

Write it as it would be delivered today, not when you are 90 or 100. No need to hide behind that fabricated skin any longer. Just pure, unsullied, bona fide YOU.

You don’t care what anyone says or thinks.

Cuz’ you’re dead.

Get it?

Do people REALLY know you? Do you REALLY know yourself?

Now that we have that first crazy-ass insurmountable goal in place, it will help to put all the other tidbits of wisdom to come in context. And, you can then pick and choose which insights ring true for you and which ones don’t.

Phew, I feel a little better now. Gotta go figure out the next installment.

Guess it’s time to take either a shower or a shit.

“Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

~ Dr. Seuss

Achieving Emotional Grace (Or, Don’t Be a Tool)

Achieving Emotional Grace (Or, Don’t Be a Tool)

My birthday is in September. Now, simmer down and stop buying me extravagant presents.

The reason I mention this is because, as opposed to January 1st, I consider my birthday my new year. I tend to stop and think about what went down this year and what I’d like to see happen in the next.

Sometimes I land on simple stuff like staying on top of the laundry, which is swiftly followed by swearing to stop wasting time on stuff like laundry. So, you see, I really never get too far.

This year I’ve decided that I need a lot (and I mean A LOT) of focus on just being a better person. Clearly not the challenge of my laundry debacle, but a worthy cause none the less.

I came to the realization that I have approximately two more years of my kids actually hearing a word I say before hormones clog them up into a sound-proof cocoon and they emerge like a butterfly at 25 as functioning humans. I hope.

I had better stuff as much usable information into their pre-pubescent brains before that time or god only knows what I will have unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Like many of you (I hope), I say a lot of useless crap to my kids. I like to think that I’m carrying on a very proud tradition, having been the recipient of just such crap from my own parents.

“Life isn’t fair”

“Because I said so”

“Money doesn’t grow on trees”

“What? This? This is Mommy’s medicine.”

I do not think that means what you think it means.

I do not think that means what you think it means.

But, every now and then, when the stars are aligned, the winds change direction and Kate Middleton farts at a precise moment, I say something pretty freaking brilliant that has some decent substance.

Approximately 100% of the time I am regurgitating some gold nugget that was passed on to me by some advanced human. I’m talking about those people we’ve all come across who seem to have life in sharp focus. They have, what I call, emotional grace.

So, I had this idea that, as a reminder to myself, I would start to write a series about all these little lessons and analogies that have resonated with me throughout my life. Sort of like an emotional personal improvement plan.

In addition, because I am lazy, I don’t want to continue to repeat myself with my kids. I suspect that this, in and of itself, makes me an emotional lummox.

I present, the Achieving Emotional Grace primer. Or, as I like to call it Don’t Be a Tool.

Let me just start with this disclaimer: I have absolutely no expertise in what I’m writing about. I have no degrees, certifications, doctorates in anything.

In fact, I chose to study film at an agricultural school in Oregon so clearly my educational decisions in general can be called into question.

I am tripping and guffawing my way through the shitpile just like everyone else. I screw up. A  lot. I have insecurities and personality blemishes too many to count. I have warned you sufficiently.

If Child Protective Services comes to your door or you are detained or incarcerated because you did anything I said, you have no one but yourself to blame.

So, what is emotional grace? We’ve all seen countless examples of physical grace – the ballet dancer, the gymnast, the ice skater. Everything they do appears effortless, almost as if they are not confined by the weight of gravity like the rest of us.

A stark comparison would be me. I walk into walls. Just talking will cause me to bite my tongue. I am convinced that I am being drugged and beaten while I sleep because I am constantly finding bruises and scrapes and can not tell you where they came from.

I have never been, nor will I be, graceful. I’m tight and don’t bend easily. I’m like dolls before they invented the bendable limbs.

What? I am relaxed.

What? I am relaxed.

The emotional equivalent of the ballet dancer are those people who seem to know how to navigate the intricacies of human relationships and situations. They know how to say the right thing at the right time. They appear unflappable but still have appropriate emotional responses. They expect a great deal from themselves and those around them while still being forgiving and realistic with both. They are often kind, giving, funny and honest. They do all of this naturally, without effort or artifice.

And, you want to hate them for all this but you simply can’t.

As I trip my way through life, I have been given so many lessons, large and minuscule, by people who have passed through my turnstile. Many were completely unaware they were schooling me. Others did it very purposefully.

I’ve listened and tried to apply those lessons to my life with rare success and more often in failure. Recognizing noble behavior and practicing it in your life are two vastly different things.

So, stand by while I pull some sage wisdom out of my back side to share. I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats.

Except those of you who are out shopping for a birthday present for me. Good choice!

 

Image credits:
Photo #1 – http://i.imgur.com/FKhBR.jpg
Photo #2 – personal image
Photo #3 – http://www.jakks.com

 

My Summer In a Women’s Prison

My Summer In a Women’s Prison

I think it’s time I came clean. I have been harboring this terrible secret for too long and the guilt and stress is eating at my very soul.

You see, while the rest of you have been out frolicking in the summer sunshine, I have hidden in dark corners, waiting until no one could see me and I was at last alone, to give into my dark, terrible addiction of…….online TV series.

Oh, it started innocently enough. I quite purposefully tried to spread out my True Blood binge this year, limiting myself to two episodes a week of vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, faeries and, of course, very tight Swedish buttocks.

I suppose I do more than my fair share of squats. Does that make me a naughty Swede?

I suppose I do more than my fair share of squats. Does that make me a naughty Swede?

But once my supply of True Blood ran out, I had to hit the seedy cyber streets to find more.

I kept it innocent enough at first, moving on to Hemlock Grove, which is like True Blood Lite. It even stars the younger brother of our naughty Swede, Bill Skarsgard.

Will I ever be as hot as big brother? Only time will tell, my little Nordic friend.

Will I ever be as hot as big brother? Only time will tell, my little Nordic friend.

This one came equipped with gypsy werewolves in high school, Famke Janssen as a Joan-Crawford-meets-Morticia matriarch, and something called a Upir, which is a Russian werewolf who can walk around during the day.

But when did walking around during the day become an issue for werewolves? Alcides does it all the time on True Blood…and, he rarely wears a shirt….and does household chores.

I’ll get right on that gutter once I’ve done something unimaginably sexy with this ax.

I’ll get right on that gutter once I’ve done something unimaginably sexy with this ax.

See, I was too early into my addiction to suspend disbelief. I still needed to wrap all that weird shit in logic.

Instead, I just ended up with feelings of confusion, emptiness and shame.

So, I decided to go for something of higher quality that wasn’t cut with junk.

I started to troll the Sundance Channel and found Top Of The Lake.

This one had no mythical creatures. But, it did have inbreeding, self-flagellation, teen pregnancy, meth labs and crazy face tattoos.

I had no self-control after the first episode and was back to my old ways, binging out and watching the whole thing within a week.

And I won’t lie.

It.

Felt.

Good.

From there it was a free fall into dark subject matter. I remember waking up on the couch after a jag of all 13 episodes of Orange Is The New Black. I think I had blacked out somewhere around the point where Piper is cornered in the shower by a bunch of hillbilly, born-again meth addicts with a homemade shiv.

That’s right, I was freebasing a women’s prison dramedy. But, I had blown my wad and had nothing to fall back on. I had no stash. No new season of anything for easily 6 months at best! How was this sudden detox going to play out?

But, there is always someone out there who will keep you hooked.

And along came Broadchurch. A tasty, dark, disturbing drug from those damned BBC Thugs-on-Thames. But, since it’s a current show, iTunes has become my very own mini-series methadone clinic, only allowing me to watch one episode per week.

I have five more episodes before I am once again left starved, shaking and on the street looking for my next fix.

If I can just hang on until the new season of New Girl, I may get through this yet. Yes, what I need is some lighthearted, innocent entertainment to soothe my darkened soul.

…..unless Jess becomes a Zombie coke whore.

....it could happen.

….it could happen.

The Future – Where You Still Have To Plug In Your Laptop

The Future – Where You Still Have To Plug In Your Laptop

SPOILER BLOG!!! Turn away now if you are one of those people who have to experience shit for yourself instead of heeding the warnings of others. Close this down and jump off that bridge, fool. 

I have emerged from the deep, finally, after not posting for several weeks. Life gets in the way often, but NOTHING gets in the way of my annoyance with bad movies so here ya go.

It’s been a while, thankfully I suppose, since I’ve seen a really terrible movie. Not that many of the flicks I’ve sat through will win any awards, but every now and then there is such a stinker that I just have to get my rant on.

I had high hopes for Elysium.

First of all, it had Matt Damon who, up until now, seems to make good choices in his career. He also is just doggone cute and, frankly, hilarious.

God, you are so right. Just look at me…I’m goddamned adorable!

God, you are so right. Just look at me…I’m goddamned adorable!

Secondly, the director is that South African dude who did District 9 which is, in my humble opinion, a freaking awesome sci-fi movie.

So, I will admit that I may have had unrealistic expectations from the start. However, even if I were DOING Matt Damon, I’d slap him upside that adorable noggin.

In a nutshell I’ll give you the rundown to save you the trouble.

  • Poor people are noble, rich people are assholes. WE GET IT!
  • Evidently, even though everyone has a tanning bed-like machines in their homes that can cure everything from Leukemia to a blown off face in a matter of seconds, in the future we will still have to plug our laptops into walls for a network connection. Evidently, wireless didn’t end up working so well. Who knew?
  • You can literally change the political and social direction of an entire planet by typing the word “Legal” in some code. Duly noted.
  • Jodi Foster is not only “not” saying she’s gay, she’s also “not” saying she has completely given up on acting. And, given up on her dialect coach, evidently, because she had the weirdest futuristic French accent ever. If that’s how people talk in 2154, thank god I’ll be long dead because I’d stab them all in the eye.

    Do you see my intense stare and severe haircut. I’m ACTING, people!!

    Do you see my intense stare and severe haircut? I’m ACTING, people!!

  • Diego Luna, a BRILLIANT Mexican actor was totally wasted, being relegated to a street urchin looking like a cross between Tonto and Pippi Longstocking.
image

It makes no sense to us either, Diego.

  • Sharlto Copley, who was awesome in District 9, has also gone to waste. His character is so one-dimensionally evil that by comparison you’d think Hannibal Lector ran a soup kitchen.
Would you like your chowder in a bread bowl?

Would you like your chowder in a bread bowl?

So, to summarize. The future looks stupid and even Matt Damon’s awesome abs can’t save us.

The End.

The Shame of The Domesticated Human

The Shame of The Domesticated Human

Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them’s making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge.
― Jerry Seinfeld

Let me begin by saying that I freaking love animals. Well, almost all animals. I’m not a huge fan of the hyena or the wolverine because they are just huge assholes.

That’s a scientific fact.

Seriously, look at these jackasses!

Seriously, look at these jackasses!

I’ll start over. I love all non-douchebag animals.

Now that we have that established…

I especially love dogs. I have a dog who is so awesome, it’s like if Jesus Christ and Spiderman had a dog baby. Yeah, that’s how god-damned off the hook my dog is.

However, I do sit and ponder at times, as I watch him go at his donkus like it’s his last meal, why we think it’s OK to have these beasts live INSIDE our houses and skulk among us.

(I know you may be wondering if this profound thought occurred to me after the inhalation of some organic substance but the answer is no. I don’t need weed to think like this. At least not this time.)

Most of us generally try to minimize the invasion of outside elements inside our cozy little human dens. We freak out and go all Charles Manson on spiders, flies, mice, rats, whatever living thing was not expressly invited into our Pottery Barn lives.

But, for some reason, we find it completely acceptable to have filthy canines and felines take over our entire home, shed skin and hair all over the place, upchuck anything from cat turds to hairballs to chicken bones on our new area rugs (a wipeable surface isn’t even open for discussion), and practically shoot fleas and ticks at you like one of those t-shirt guns.

Then they top it all off by mining their buttholes with their tongues and proceed to lick you all over the face.

They are totally flipping us off, you know that, right? They are all a pack of hairy grifters pulling the best scam ever.

It really is like we are in some sort of sado-masochistic relationship where we have not established a safe word.

They stink up our houses, lay around all day, don’t pay any rent, demand to be watered AND fed and crap all over our lawns.

It’s like your annoying unemployed brother-in-law has come for an extended visit.

But I don’t have opposable thumbs, dude….be reasonable! You cannot resist me! Now what’s for dinner? And, while you’re up, go get me another beer.

But, damn it, they are so soft and cute!!!

The entire human race has been glammered.  Like vampire glammered.

You will believe the fact that I poop in a box is adorable.

Has anyone even looked into other species to bring into our homes for….whatever the hell it is they do for us?

(Yeah, I know…love, companionship, acceptance. All the stuff we are supposed to get from other humans and don’t. Which is why the divorce rate is so high.)

For your consideration: the naked mole rat. Now here is an animal that can use a little love and acceptance.

Happy little mole rat eating a tuber.

Happy little mole rat eating a tuber.

Just think of the fun little outfits you could dress him in. And, this guy could really use a sweater.

Not so much?

OK, how about a sloth? From what I read in Us Magazine last time I was at the gynecologist, they are all the rage right now.

Yeah, baby. Let’s put on a little R&B, pour a snifter of Courvoisier and……..sorry! I nodded off!

Though, personally, owning one of the seven deadly sins feels a little risky.

OK, so now that I have googled as many weird animals as I can to avoid work, I suppose dogs and cats do have a bit of a case. They’ve learned to adapt to us and we’ve not only adapted to them, we worship them like deities.

What’s that you say, man’s best friend? You need me to express your anal glands?

My pleasure!

On Becoming A Mid-Life Orphan

On Becoming A Mid-Life Orphan

If all goes as it should, we all end up being orphaned at some point in our lives. If we don’t, our parents have outlived us and that either means you have died a tragic and early death, or you are the offspring of vampires. And everyone knows vampires can’t procreate so…..

Just because we may see the total logic in this sequence of events doesn’t mean it isn’t a huge mind-fuck.

Whether you have a healthy or therapist-inducing relationship with your parents (I suspect the latter is much more rampant….and interesting), no matter what age we are, we rely on having our parents on earth and kicking.

They are a touchstone to where we are in relation to death and the natural pecking order.

They are also the keepers of our personal history in a way that siblings and friends are not.

Having just entered orphan-hood myself, I’m still navigating the sans parents world. I suspect I will settle into it. Right now, however, I can’t stop the loop of a cockney accent asking for another bowl of porridge that keeps running through my head.

I think I’ve been watching way too much PBS.

This transition was made even stranger this past week when I was in Minnesota for my mother’s memorial service. After the very touching and lovely tribute, my sisters and I decided we’d check out our childhood house.

I had not been back since I was 10 years old.

The real shocker was that not a whole lot had changed. The house was still there, well-kept, familiar and much smaller than I remember.

As we stood around outside the house, no doubt looking like the most inept and best dressed thieves ever, a nice, young Midwestern man came out to start to mow our….his….lawn.

We let him know that we were not some sort of middle-aged organized crime ring (though I may have to start one of those) but that we had grown up in his house. Like all Midwesterners, he was exceptionally friendly and warm.

But here’s the crazy kicker. He asked us what our last name was and when we told him, he smiled widely and told us he had something for us.

He ran into his garage and came back moments later with a tarnished brass door knocker with the name “A.J. Barnett, MD” inscribed on the face.

We were the original owners of the house and this knocker hung on our front door, identifying the town doctor and intimidating every boy who came to take my sisters out on a date. And, 40 years later, it was kept and passed on from owner to owner until this nice father could give it back to us.

I couldn’t help but picture my parents hanging that knocker on the door of their new home, my Mom pregnant with me, her sixth (yes, I said SIXTH!!!) child, my father thinking about opening the doors of his new private practice in this rural outpost.

They would live in that house for over a decade, struggle with raising a hoard of kids, mend broken bones and broken hearts, struggle with starting and keeping a medical practice going, make lasting friendships and build many memories for us.

They were very much like me….except the six kids. I’m not insane after all!

 What the hell, Irish Catholics? Keep it zipped up why don’t ya!!

As I walked around my old back yard and watched my kids standing by the river that I played endless hours in, my new status of orphan didn’t feel so bad after all.

Man, I loved that sweater! I was pretty fond of that dog too.

Though I still have a real hankering for porridge.

The Five Stages of Summer Grief

The Five Stages of Summer Grief

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Every year around mid-May I start to get the same feeling I did when I was young. Summer is coming!! Summer is coming!!

Summer has always been a sun-kissed, dreamy time of beaches, lakes, boats, booze and making out with strangers on various docks. Nirvana!!

But now? Oh, my how the times they have a’ changed.

I suddenly remember that I don’t really get a summer anymore and I begin my annual “Stages of Summer Grief” process.

You see, now that I’m an exceptionally reluctant grown-up, a work day is a work day is a work day. Only the temperature in my office and the clothes I wear seem to change. But, my psyche still fucks with me and for a few brief moments, I imagine that the next 12 weeks or so will be a cavalcade of extreme fun and freedom.

Then those moments abruptly stop and the process begins.

1. Denial – This first stage is a doozy. It’s when I still feel a sense of optimism about this summer being different. Hey, it’s mid-May, I can lose 15 pounds and get a rock hard six-pack by June 1!! Sure I can!! Then I’ll go buy a little bikini just like the one I wore when I was 21. So what if I had twins! So did J. Lo and she can still rock it!

2. Anger – Now comes the rage. After two weeks of binge eating and goal-avoidance, it’s now end of June and not only did I gain 5 more pounds, I haven’t gone near any kind of bathing suit. Or mirror.

Yes, this one will do quite nicely, thank you.

Yes, this one will do quite nicely, thank you.

Along with this epic failure comes the end of school year blitzkrieg of potlucks, celebrations, after parties and parental guilt. I feel fortunate to have escaped with only one bout of food poisoning and an eye twitch.

And, now the kids are home and driving me to the brink of insanity.

“I’m bored!”

“I’m hungry!”

“Mommy, why are you drinking wine with breakfast?”

The good news here is that the eye twitch is really an effective addition to my look of maniacal rage that stops them in their tracks. Turns out they do have a survival instinct after all.

3. Bargaining – The idea of deal-making starts up right around the 4th of July holiday. What is more representative of the good ole’ summertime than bad food, fart-inducing beer and blowing a few fingers off with illegal explosives? All in the name of patriotism.

This is when I tell myself that the 4th is the REAL start of summer. So, all my previous June failings really don’t count, right? And, on the 5th of July, after the high-sodium hotdog and beer has left my body in whatever form God intended, THEN and only then will I REALLY start to prepare for my summer of amazing fun.

I will make summertime my bitch!!

4. Depression – With the first of August comes the realization that we are staring straight into the abyss of Fall. August is really the Sunday of summer. You want to enjoy it but Monday morning is looming.

All attempts to harness that sunny optimism, to join in numerous games of beach volleyball, to frolic carelessly in the surf have been reduced to middle-aged, tummy slimming bathing suits that are so tight you feel like any oxygen flow has, thankfully, been cut off to your head. Hey, at least it’s a buzz.

Get this woman a good waxing, stat!

Get this woman a good waxing, stat!

The kids are as ready to get back to school as you are to have them gone. The lethargy that comes with the dog days of summer has rendered you all a sweaty mess.

Ah, screw it!

Whatever!

Who cares!

5. Acceptance – The trigger for acceptance is receiving the supply list from school. It’s like watching the Western Union kid ride up to your house with eternally bad news.

Wipe that smile off your face you tiny harbinger of doom!

Wipe that smile off your face you tiny harbinger of doom!

Now it’s time to join the hordes of other frazzled parents (who also didn’t seem to have much of a summer) on the annual trek to Target for backpacks, pencils, T-squares and lunch boxes.

I’ve now accepted the fact that another summer has come and gone.  We are fast approaching Labor Day and the official end of summer.

Now there is a new excitement in the air.

Every year around late-August I start to get the same feeling I did when I was young. School is coming!! School is coming!!