Archives for posts with tag: Humor

Last night I had one of those dreams where the setting kept changing. First, I was in a university marching band, practicing on the football field. Then I was sitting at a desk in a classroom. After that, I was attending a reception on a boat. Even though the setting kept changing, there was a story line that ran throughout the dream. I met Terri Gross, of the interviewing radio show, Fresh Air.

I really like Terri Gross’ interviews so I was excited to meet her. The reason we were meeting is that I had written her about my blog. In the classroom, I was telling the other students what I would say to Terri, if I were to meet her. And then she walked onto the boat with a container full of elegantly decorated cupcakes. Terri explained that she had made them and that they were leftover from a wedding she’d attended earlier that day.

“I got your letter”, she said.

“I read your blog,” she said.

“It’s not funny.”

In my dream, the only part of my blog that existed were my earlier days of blogging, when I was going through the acute phase of breast cancer assessment and treatment. I used a lot of humor in my writing then. Terri was telling me (I could read her mind in my dream) that cancer is not funny.

“I thought it was hysterically absurd”, I explained.

The dream ended with her giving me the last of a special flavor of cupcake, which was nice,  especially since I am unable to eat wheat during my waking hours. The fact that it was a broken piece of cupcake with no frosting shows once again that even in my dreams, my fantasies fall short.

Humor was one of my ways of dealing with a very stressful time in my life. I still use it.  I am typically able to laugh at the ridiculous aspects of life. However, I find myself relatively humorless these days. I am frequently thinking, “That’s not funny.”

Over a year ago, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States. A number of friends on social media thought this hilarious because it seemed so preposterous. I wrote, “That’s not funny. That’s terrifying.”

Admittedly, I’ve laughed at a few things, mainly extremely well-done Saturday Night Live skits and late night t.v. bits. But otherwise, I mostly avoided memes, because they weren’t funny to me. Many of them were mean spirited. Donald Trump is an extremely sad, insecure, and cruel person. To nurture my own compassion helps me distance myself from the hate vortex he is stirring up.  I have brought him to mind during meditations, wishing him well, wishing him joy, all with the purpose of cultivating compassion and acceptance. The Christian version of this approach is “Love your enemies.”

It is really really hard to do this but I keep trying. Some weeks ago, I saw a video of the Dalai Lama talking about Donald Trump. He made fun of Trump’s hair! I thought to myself, “That’s not funny.” I have thought back to that film and realized that this is really a mark of how stressful this election has been to a lot of people. Even the Dalai Lama took a cheap shot.

Perhaps having judgmental thoughts about the Dalai Lama’s short-comings in compassion is a good signal to me that I am taking life too seriously, so seriously that I am causing myself suffering on top of real pain.

We are all doing our best in difficult and uncertain times. In about two days, there will be more certainty, one way or another.

Peace,

Elizabeth

P.S. If I have another dream with cupcakes, I am taking a whole cupcake complete with elegant frosting. Hear that, dreaming part of my brain?

It is National Siblings Day so I am reposting this one from November 2012 about my younger brother and me.

I have mentioned perhaps one or six hundred times that I have five brothers. One of my older brothers’ favorite “games” was pig pile. This involved announcing a victim and then having five siblings tackle and pile atop this person. For example the exclamation, “Pig pile on Liz!” was followed by my being tackled and piled on by five brothers, the oldest of whom was nearly 10 years my senior.

Pig piles seemed to be exclaimed on a very frequent basis and as the only girl of six children and the second to youngest it seemed that I was more often than not, the vortex to which the pile was attracted. A Bermuda Triangle of porcine piling, if you will. As the “baby” of the family, my brother James also spent a fair amount of time face planted on the living room floor beneath four sets of sprawling limbs shod in Converse low tops of various sizes.

Although our older brothers would admit to the pig piling, they would disagree with the metaphorical implications. They believed James and me to be spoiled. We avoided the horrors of ruler wielding nuns, whereas they all attended St. Anthony’s School, for example. Our family also had a little more money when I was growing up, not a lot more but just enough to fuel the “you’re spoiled” flames. I maintain that whatever advantages we may have had were more than offset by their mean older brother shenanigans.

James and I are only 18 months apart in age. Our next oldest sibling, John is 3 ½ years older than me and 3 ½ years younger than our next oldest brother, Mike. John was kind of caught between the “big boys” and the “little kids” of the family.

James and I spent a lot of time together. We played together a lot. We mostly got along very well though we could sometimes fight verbally and physically at which time my mom would yell, “I don’t care who started it. I’m finishing it. Go to your respective rooms!”

We played a combination of traditional boy and girl activities. We played with cars, trucks, and climbed trees. We designed obstacle courses in the yard and spent hours upon hours in the woods surrounding our house and neighborhood. We did not, however, play with Barbies or baby dolls. Remember, this was the late 60’s and early 70’s. My mom made us each two sets of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls as well as a bunch of stuffed elephants. Due to her combination of genius and industry, we were able to play dramatic reenactments of family life with more socially acceptable dolls.

James was not really interested in formal music training, but he has an incredible ear and natural musical ability. He is also extremely funny. By the time I got to high school, I was pretty serious in my classical flute playing. He had a plastic slide whistle and would frequently copy whatever piece I was practicing in my room, complete with vibrato and when era appropriate, Baroque runs. When it wasn’t infuriating, it was hilarious.

These days my brother plays more music than me; he taught himself drums and plays with his 17 year-old son’s band. The only music we make together is the occasional game of Rock Band. The thread that carries over the years is that fact that my brother can always, I mean always, make me laugh.

He reminded me of this last Friday. James attended the requiem mass at St. James. I was kind of surprised to see him there since it was a pretty long drive for him and I think he hates to drive even more than I do. We got there an hour early to get a seat. During the time before the mass started, he was cracking me up and my laugh was echoing throughout the cathedral. When we were kids, due to different church rules, we were not allowed to talk before or obviously during mass. So with this as a back drop, his jokes have always been extra hilarious. I’d laugh, he’d say, “Now if any other family is coming tonight, they will be able to find us.” Then I laughed harder than before. Then he started singing family gossip in his version of Gregorian chant. I lost it again. Now here’s the thing about my brother. His antics are not particularly loud. He is actually a fairly introverted person whereas I am loud and gregarious. I believe he very much likes to set me up and watch the loud fireworks of my laughter, knowing that he is the one who lit the fuse.

James and I were successful for decades after our childhood in avoiding the bottom of the pig pile. Then I found out I had breast cancer and it wasn’t my older brothers that piled on top of me, it was the world in which I thought I had lived, that dissolved and crashed down on me. During the acute stage of my breast cancer treatment, there were many ongoing assessments and constant revisions of my treatment plan. When I was recuperating from surgery and bored, meaning prime time for worries to creep in, I called him, “James, I am bored. Tell me something funny.” And he did. And when I was anxious about waiting for the results of oncotype testing, which would determine whether my oncologist would recommend chemotherapy or not, I called my brother, “James, I have 20 minutes until I need to leave for my appointment. Can you tell me funny things and distract me?” And he did.

James does not show affection in traditional ways. I remember once, about ten years ago, his closing a telephone conversation by saying, “It was nice talking to you, Liz.” That was a major outpouring of verbal affection. But I know my brother loves me, thinks about me, and keeps the warmest wishes for my health. And he shows his love to me most consistently by making me laugh about today, laugh about cancer, and laugh about the things we did and experienced as kids.

For these things I will be ever grateful. James, you joined me at the bottom of the cancer pig pile.  I can’t thank you enough for doing that. If you didn’t realize it before, please realize it now that you have helped me tremendously. Thank you for making me laugh at some of my lowest and scariest times. I love you a lot and I know you return that even when it may come in the guise of slide whistled Mozart.

James must have been about 1 1/2 years old to my three years. It looks like we were having much fun in a rare Seattle-area snow.

James must have been about 1 1/2 years old to my three years. It looks like we were having much fun in a rare Seattle-area snow.

In addition to the color pink as a emblem of breast cancer, another polarizing expression is the characterization of cancer as a “gift”. I don’t think of it as a gift but I do think that it in coping with it, I have learned some important life lessons. It has been an ultimate learning experience, a growth experience, if you will.

The recent posts on the topic reminded me of something. My clinical psychology Ph.D. program was quite demanding and the first year was steep learning curve for students. When I was an advanced grad student, I watched a new crop of students struggling toward the end of the first semester. One day they got an additional unexpected task. Some of the students were trying to reframe it in a positive light. Louis, who was really funny and had a way to getting to the heart of the matter said, “Oh great! Another fucking growth experience!”

I don’t think he’d see cancer as a “gift”, either.

I have mentioned perhaps one or six hundred times that I have five brothers. One of my older brothers’ favorite “games” was pig pile. This involved announcing a victim and then having five siblings tackle and pile atop this person. For example the exclamation, “Pig pile on Liz!” was followed by my being tackled and piled on by five brothers, the oldest of whom was nearly 10 years my senior.

Pig piles seemed to be exclaimed on a very frequent basis and as the only girl of six children and the second to youngest it seemed that I was more often than not, the vortex to which the pile was attracted. A Bermuda Triangle of porcine piling, if you will. As the “baby” of the family, my brother James also spent a fair amount of time face planted on the living room floor beneath four sets of sprawling limbs shod in Converse low tops of various sizes.

Although our older brothers would admit to the pig piling, they would disagree with the metaphorical implications. They believed James and me to be spoiled. We avoided the horrors of ruler wielding nuns, whereas they all attended St. Anthony’s School, for example. Our family also had a little more money when I was growing up, not a lot more but just enough to fuel the “you’re spoiled” flames. I maintain that whatever advantages we may have had were more than offset by their mean older brother shenanigans.

James and I are only 18 months apart in age. Our next oldest sibling, John is 3 ½ years older than me and 3 ½ years younger than our next oldest brother, Mike. John was kind of caught between the “big boys” and the “little kids” of the family.

James and I spent a lot of time together. We played together a lot. We mostly got along very well though we could sometimes fight verbally and physically at which time my mom would yell, “I don’t care who started it. I’m finishing it. Go to your respective rooms!”

We played a combination of traditional boy and girl activities. We played with cars, trucks, and climbed trees. We designed obstacle courses in the yard and spent hours upon hours in the woods surrounding our house and neighborhood. We did not, however, play with Barbies or baby dolls. Remember, this was the late 60’s and early 70’s. My mom made us each two sets of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls as well as a bunch of stuffed elephants. Due to her combination of genius and industry, we were able to play dramatic reenactments of family life with more socially acceptable dolls.

James was not really interested in formal music training, but he has an incredible ear and natural musical ability. He is also extremely funny. By the time I got to high school, I was pretty serious in my classical flute playing. He had a plastic slide whistle and would frequently copy whatever piece I was practicing in my room, complete with vibrato and when era appropriate, Baroque runs. When it wasn’t infuriating, it was hilarious.

These days my brother plays more music than me; he taught himself drums and plays with his 17 year-old son’s band. The only music we make together is the occasional game of Rock Band. The thread that carries over the years is that fact that my brother can always, I mean always, make me laugh.

He reminded me of this last Friday. James attended the requiem mass at St. James. I was kind of surprised to see him there since it was a pretty long drive for him and I think he hates to drive even more than I do. We got there an hour early to get a seat. During the time before the mass started, he was cracking me up and my laugh was echoing throughout the cathedral. When we were kids, due to different church rules, we were not allowed to talk before or obviously during mass. So with this as a back drop, his jokes have always been extra hilarious. I’d laugh, he’d say, “Now if any other family is coming tonight, they will be able to find us.” Then I laughed harder than before. Then he started singing family gossip in his version of Gregorian chant. I lost it again. Now here’s the thing about my brother. His antics are not particularly loud. He is actually a fairly introverted person whereas I am loud and gregarious. I believe he very much likes to set me up and watch the loud fireworks of my laughter, knowing that he is the one who lit the fuse.

James and I were successful for decades after our childhood in avoiding the bottom of the pig pile. Then I found out I had breast cancer and it wasn’t my older brothers that piled on top of me, it was the world in which I thought I had lived, that dissolved and crashed down on me. During the acute stage of my breast cancer treatment, there were many ongoing assessments and constant revisions of my treatment plan. When I was recuperating from surgery and bored, meaning prime time for worries to creep in, I called him, “James, I am bored. Tell me something funny.” And he did. And when I was anxious about waiting for the results of oncotype testing, which would determine whether my oncologist would recommend chemotherapy or not, I called my brother, “James, I have 20 minutes until I need to leave for my appointment. Can you tell me funny things and distract me?” And he did.

James does not show affection in traditional ways. I remember once, about ten years ago, his closing a telephone conversation by saying, “It was nice talking to you, Liz.” That was a major outpouring of verbal affection. But I know my brother loves me, thinks about me, and keeps the warmest wishes for my health. And he shows his love to me most consistently by making me laugh about today, laugh about cancer, and laugh about the things we did and experienced as kids.

For these things I will be ever grateful. James, you joined me at the bottom of the cancer pig pile.  I can’t thank you enough for doing that. If you didn’t realize it before, please realize it now that you have helped me tremendously. Thank you for making me laugh at some of my lowest and scariest times. I love you a lot and I know you return that even when it may come in the guise of slide whistled Mozart.

James must have been about 1 1/2 years old to my three years. It looks like we were having much fun in a rare Seattle-area snow.

James must have been about 1 1/2 years old to my three years. It looks like we were having much fun in a rare Seattle-area snow.

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This post is from 4/11/13. It’s perhaps one of the silliest things I’ve ever written. But I like silly so that’s okay. Silly has gotten me far in life. A hidden meaning of this post is my great love for my husband. Soylent Green is a film that I would NEVER have seen if I had not married a man who adores cheesy low budget cinema and begged me to watch it with him. (He had already seen it but he wanted me to see it.) Actually, watching a movie was one of our first dates. He asked me if I wanted to join he and his roommate in watching Terror in the Aisles, a compilation of scenes from horror films. I HATE HORROR FILMS. I MEAN I REALLY HATE THEM BECAUSE THEY TERRIFY ME! But I had already fallen in love with John, which was not yet reciprocated. This was my chance to impress. I would gut my way through it. We got to the scene where Cujo’s face exploded and I started screaming, “Turn it off, turn it off, turn it off!!!!!!!!!!” Not our best date but he never tried to get me to watch horror again. But he did get me to see Soylent Green.

 

I finally got around to making the very healthy chia pudding recipe I posted from my dear friend, Mike, who practices Chinese medicine in New York City. Helen of My Lymph Node Transplant had made it a few days earlier and kindly noted that it was a bit on the bland side, so she had added extra dates to it. At that point Helen declared it, “very nice”. So I doubled the dates. I also ended up roasting my raw cashews after my husband reminded me that he is allergic to raw nuts. I also substituted olive oil for coconut oil. I couldn’t find the latter and I suspect my daughter has absconded with it to use as wax for some project she is doing in her room, perhaps making a surf board out of a tree branch or something. (I exaggerate her mad scientist shenanigans only slightly. Only this morning, I found a seafood fork in the shower.)

After I blended the pudding in the my food processor, I gave it a sniff. It had a pleasant, nutty aroma. The appearance is a nutty tan color. I did not think it looked bad. However, my husband, who will eat ANYTHING, wouldn’t even try a bite. I ate a little spoonful and it tasted good and the texture was similar to tapioca pudding, just as Mike had described in his introduction to the recipe. Wait, a minute. I just remembered something. I don’t like tapioca pudding because of the texture. Actually, I find the texture to be somewhat disgusting. Did I think the fact that this pudding has healthy ingredients was going to change this for me? Aaaah! I have become my grandmother. Unlike the stereotypical expectations of a first generation Italian immigrant, my nonna was a pretty lousy cook. I remember how incredulous she was when her soups didn’t turn out tasty. She would say, “But I put a whole stick of good butter in it and a wedge of good cheese.” She thought the quality of the ingredient trumped all. And grandma, why did you put all of that butter in the soup. Yuck! (My mother has read this post and believes I may have confused her mother with Paula Deen, the famous butter loving chef.)

So, I took all of this time and energy, not to mention the expense of the very healthy ingredients and ended up with Soylent Green! You don’t know what soylent green is? It’s the “plankton based” food that people had to eat in the dystopian future sci-fi movie of 1973 starring Charlton Heston. You see the world had ruined the environment and was running out of food. Charlton played a rugged and “sexy” cop whose wardrobe looked like a mash-up of Oliver Twist and Mork of Mork and Mindy. The masses in this society had to eat processed “plankton” crackers. But as Charlton learns by the end of the movie, there’s no plankton. “Soylent Green, it’s people, it’s people!”

Okay, so my initial batch of chia pudding reminded me of a film about cannibal crackers. That is not a good start. But I had put this much time into it and put lots of good ingredients in. So, like Katie Torlai before me, I started combining it with stuff. I added a couple of tablespoons of pudding to 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons flax seed meal, and 3/4 of a peeled apple, sliced into small chunks. This concoction was to be my breakfast, which I have adopted as my “medicinal meal”, that is the way I get 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal into my diet each day. Consequently, my expectations for breakfast are low.

As I mixed up my small vat of chunky, seedy, goo, the appearance points for the dish dropped from 1/4 of a star to zero stars. It looked really unappealing. I took a taste, fully expecting to exclaim, “Soylent Green, it’s chia, it’s chunky, yogurty, seedy chia!”

To my surprise, the added ingredients actually improved the dish’s texture score from 0 stars to 1 star. It no longer reminded me of the goo from badly cooked okra. The flavor rating was bumped up to 1 1/2 stars.

Ding, ding, ding! Marginally palatable breakfast is served!

Photo from Wikipedia

I just offered Charlton a spoonful of pudding. Coward!!!!
Photo from Wikipedia

P.S. I almost forgot that it is Health Activist Writers’ Challenge month. Today, my health activist sign reads as follows:

You are what you eat, especially if you live in a dystopian future complete with Soylent Green as the only food option.

This post is from 4/6/13. I had been home for nearly a month following my TRAM surgery. I was bored.  I was trying to do a daily post following the Health Activist Writers’ Month Challenge. I decided to do it before I read the writing prompts. I didn’t like them. But I appreciated the purpose of the challenge and tried to give include some kind of health related message in each post.

 

For today’s Health Activist Writers’ challenge post, I have a challenge for YOU.

I challenge you to join the WRF, the World Resting Federation. Yes, you read right, the World Resting Federation. Yeah, we get confused with another world federation. We have a similar name plus we also wear really cool costumes and have cool names. My resting name is Googly Eyes. We also engage in bouts to see who is the hardest rester. I am able to use the mesmerizing power of my cattywampus bosoms to render my opponents wide-eyed while I catch some major zz’s.

Are you ready to rest with the best?

Come see my next match.

It’s on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Limited edition commemorative pj’s will be on sale.

smiley t shirt small

This post is from 1/31/13. Now that I’ve complained about my kin’s untidy habits, I’m putting up a repeat of post in which I complain about Hubby’s subclinical hypochrondria. Girly has it, too. Interestingly, it has improved for both of them over the last six months. Hmm…

Yesterday, my hubby complained of being hot and not feeling well. I thought that perhaps he had caught menopause from me and was having hot flashes. Given that I contracted menopause from a hypodermic needle (full of Lupron), it makes sense if you think about it. Today, he feels much better.

As a former university researcher, I conclude that menopause in males is a 24 hour condition. I think I will write a paper on this and submit it to the Journal of Polymorphous Perversity. (See an example of one of their premier articles, Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality.)

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