Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Combat a ridiculous conversation with an equally ridiculous conversation

So...I had the remarkable opportunity to run into an old colleague of mine from another lifetime the other day, and since I was sitting alone in the Starbucks and he had come alone to the Starbucks, we decided to sit together and exchange pleasantries. As it turns out, his life has, as of late, been the barrel of good laughs that mine has been.

You see, Lucas' wife has recently left him. He tells me this and what else can I say except, "What happened Lucas?" and of course, I am hesitant because I'm not really sure that he wants to tell me nor am I certain that I want to hear. But, since he is sitting in the arm chair across from me gazing at me with his crystal clear blue eyes, all that I can do is ask this, take a deep breath, and try to enjoy the ride.

The conversation went like this.

She said I was addicted to pornography.

And you were not?

No, I was.


She said I ignored her and I drank all of the time, and chose beer over her.

Did you?


She said that I spent too much money on illicit entertainment of all sorts while she scrimped and saved and compared prices all over town so that we could live comfortably.

Was that true?

To some extent. I mean not the part about her, but yes I spent my fair share of money on things.

I see.

I don't know why she left me.

Yeah. It's a mystery.

Because really it was all her fault that I did all of those things.

She made you do them, huh?


What did she do to drive you to such lengths? Did she have a boyfriend? Did she herself have a drinking problem? Did she refuse to spend time with you? Did she ignore and neglect you?

She wrote a song about another guy. She said it was because I never gave her any attention, and she was lonely and sad and wanted companionship. Can you imagine?

No. Not at all. She sounds like a completely unreasonable person, Lucas. You were right to spend all of your time watching porn and drinking, and gambling and other wise entertaining yourself. I mean what kind of an unreasonable bitch was she? To expect that you might spend some time with her? Take an interest in her interests? It sounds to me like you are better off. You can find a nice girl who will want her entire life to revolve around you and not expect a single thing in return. She's out there waiting for you, I just know it. And she's gorgeous and talented and likely very sweet.

You really think so Laurie?

I do.


Monday, March 28, 2011


    I was probably about nine years old when my dad and his two brothers took me and my two brothers and all the rest of our cousins deep sea fishing. It wasn’t particularly that any of us wanted to go deep sea fishing, it was more about the fact that our mothers wanted a break. The shore isn’t much of a relaxing vacation for the matriarch of the family. Not only is there cooking and cleaning and washing sandy children off, and making beds and being the housekeeping service for the rental property; there is also evening entertainment in the form of rides and visits to the boardwalk, in addition to late night activities which include, but are not limited to, a trip to the local bar for a few drinks after the kids are in bed. 
     When I grew up and became a mother, I understood this. At nine, I couldn’t understand why my Mother needed a break. I mean, we were after all on vacation, and to me it just seemed like fun and good times. I did not want to go deep sea fishing with my Dad; I wanted to stay back at the house with my mom and be her shadow, but the answer was no. 
     “You will have a fun time; you will catch lots of fish and we can eat them for dinner”, my mother promised. I only half believed her, if that, but I tried to force myself into the idea that deep sea fishing would be fun because regardless of whether I thought so or not, I was going.
        Also, I didn’t want to go with my Dad because my Dad, at least when we were growing up, was the stricter of my parents. In other words, he didn’t take any of our bullshit. We couldn’t quite get away with the kind of crap that my mother would tolerate(most likely because she didn’t know how to keep us under control) with my Dad. I was both in awe of him and scared shitless of him. Likely because he was the heavy. He was the threat my mother invoked near dinner time when she couldn’t settle our asses down and she had had enough. “Wait till your father comes home” she would say and we knew we had better stop.           
        In any case, My Dad and my two uncles and my four cousins and two brothers and I walked down a shore alley towards to the bayside where the boat was docked and where we were to get on board. There was some grumbling by the Dads about the exorbitant price of a day of deep sea fishing. There were several speeches given before the ship set sail about what lucky kids we were, and of course, there was grumbling and ungratefulness given off in return from the entire lot of us. 
        As the boat started to sail, we all started to get on board with the idea that deep sea fishing was going to be fun. The ride out to the deep end of the ocean was interesting and the boat sped along at a nice clip providing an exhilarating ride. The sun was out and my brothers and cousins and I made peace with the fact that we were going to be spending the day deep sea fishing so we might as well enjoy it. We all talked about who was going to catch the biggest fish and how we would cook a big feast from whatever we found in the ocean. There was a menu of food and snacks which we all anticipated ordering from with great expectation. The day wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
          Hours later, we were sunburned, seasick, and not a single person on the boat had caught a single fish. When we finally pestered the living crap out of our fathers for snacks, because our dads didn’t give in as rapidly as did our mothers, we learned that the ship’s snack bar was out of everything except toastchee crackers, you know the bright orange ones filled with peanut butter. Yum! To top it off, the ride back to land was slow and all of us were miserable.

           And then we all started to turn it into a big joke. We told our Dads just what we thought of our deep sea fishing adventure; that it sucked. Unlike our mothers whose feelings likely would have been hurt and they would have punished us out of a sense of frustration arising from the fact that their effort to entertain us went unappreciated, our Dads were impervious to our complaining, which of course, only made us complain more.

           Then the complaining to turned to teasing. “Dad this is seriously the worst trip I have ever been on”, we all took turns saying. My oldest brother suggested that when he grew up and had kids, which incidentally he never did, or at least hasn’t yet at this point, he would take them deep sea fishing as a punishment because it was that bad. We all started laughing and joining in yes, yes, we would all punish our children with deep sea ventures when we grew up to be parents because we were sunburned and sea sick and no one caught a fish and really it couldn’t have been a worse day.”

       At one point, we were cackling and probably being so annoying and ungrateful and obnoxious that our dads did put a stop to our bashing their attempt to spend quality time with us, their snotty, overindulged brats. But it was well after we had all found the silver lining in the day. We all got along famously; it was us against them. And our dads let us tease them. My Dad became a little more human to me that day, a little less scary. We could voice our opinions and our mothers weren’t there to shush us, and our dads were all home from work and we weren’t even getting in trouble for being bad. In fact, in spite of themselves, our dads even had a couple of laughs at our roast of their fishing trip. 

        That trip took place well over twenty years ago, but it still stands out as one of my happiest childhood memories and one of the best times that I had gathered with all of my cousins. The lesson here is that sometimes when you are in the midst of what seems like a day that is not going your way, you should keep a light heart. Try to find something to laugh at because who knows? Years from now it might be like the deep sea fishing story; a beloved memory.

        Sometimes at the time what seems to be a punishment can turn out to be a treasure. I think the key is perspective and willingness to flip things upside down and look them from another angle. Life often brings circumstances and situations that we would prefer not to deal with. Often the best strategy is to simply not be serious about it. Laugh at your own misfortune, when possible and perhaps you will make a memory for a time when you can’t laugh at your misfortune but all you can do to save your sanity and yourself is remember that there were good times once, and there will be good times again. And if even if there won’t be good times again, at least in your life you had some good times because some people never have any or they have very few. 

        Seriously, the pioneers were on to something when they said “make hay while the sun shines.” Ironically, my kids love deep sea fishing, and still I’m not such a fan, so really its still a punishment for me and a treat for them. The last laugh is on me, which is okay, because better to laugh than to cry, and that is my advice for today people.             

Friday, March 25, 2011

On the Merits of Being Stupid

So I took time last night from my recent self-imposed exile from society to have dinner with my friend, Katie, and her lovely, talented daughter Tara. I was reading them my post from yesterday on Tara’s cell phone when Alexa said, “geez Laurie, how long is this?” I know blogs posts are supposed to be short and to the point, and honest I’m trying but really, I have a problem with rambling. And getting sidetracked. And in general, with keeping my mouth shut. That’s right, I talk a fucking lot.
In any case, how I got the concept for today’s post was when Tara was asking me about boys and how she should or shouldn’t act. I so hope she doesn’t mind me saying this on this blog. I sincerely doubt any of her potential suitors, or for that matter, than anyone is currently reading this blog, but on the off chance that someone in cyberspace does find this locale, and on the even more off chance that that someone is one of Tara’s gentleman callers, all I can say is her questions were totally hypothetical in nature and merely the function of human curiosity, and were not in any way, asked with regard to any specific situation or person. Now that that is cleared up, breathe, I will move on to my advice.
Tara is a teenager, but I believe this advice is pertinent to men and women of all ages. It is like most of my advice, counter to popular opinion, but today’s lesson for fighting anxiety, depression and general malaise, is to act stupid. This advice applies to all sorts of situations. In fact last night at dinner, I had the golden opportunity to test this advice to see if it really would work. When the server brought our dinner, a rogue spoon flew at me and grazed my hand. Don’t worry, I did not sustain any mentionable injuries. Quickly the waiter apologized, and without thinking, I said exactly what was on my mind.
“No problem, I rather enjoy having silverware thrown at me.” This made me laugh hysterically, and when Katie reported that the waiter gave off a smile when I said it, I laughed even harder because I was pleased with myself for entertaining the poor guy stuck in a career of food service, an industry in which I dabbled briefly, with very limited success, primarily because at the time I was incapable of multitasking. That was when I was seventeen and two long years before I had children. My oldest daughter asserts that still today, I would not make a good waitress because I am far too spacy. She is likely right, but I digress...
In any case, my “advice” to Tara, and to any one else, myself included who is in the process of getting themselves all in knots and contorted and other wise literally bent out of shape wondering “how to be” is, be stupid. That’s right, you heard it hear first on the “I can’t be serious blog”. I bet they didn’t teach you that in school. Or in the “real” world or on your first job.
Now you may say Laurie, as Tara did, “you are crazy”, and honestly, you may be right. But here’s the thing, I’d rather be “crazy” than be a panic attack waiting to happen because I’m not “being” the right way. Society, and t.v., and all that other crap and bullshit with which will fill our minds says we have to be a certain way. 
We have to be thin, two weeks after we give birth. We can not serve our children anymore than a medicine dropper full of juice during the week. We have to speak politely, we have to dress appropriately, we have to have our grass cut regularly, we have to drive expensive cars, we have to read every book that Oprah prescribes, we have to stop at Target on the way home and buy toilet paper and taco mix because they have the best prices in town. Then we have to clean our houses so they look like rooms in Better Homes and Gardens.
  Charge the batteries for the kid’s play so every.single.second of their childhood can be preserved for later enjoyment, I mean certainly you wouldn’t want to risk actually enjoying the event and not holding a video camera steady during the entire performance, God forbid. Shave your nether region into a shape befitting a US Airway’s jet liner’s home, perform every suggestion known to man from this months Cosmo in hopes that maybe you’ll strike sexual gold and your husband, or boyfriend (or wife or girlfriend, I’m not a sexist, men have it tough too, although let’s be honest, not nearly as tough as women) and he won’t cheat on you. Plant a garden. Join a pool. Keep your credit score in the seven hundreds while you simultaneously live well above your means, and at the end of the year, take a Christmas picture with you and yours in matching outfits, smiling graciously, so that you can tell the world you have managed to preserve perfection in your home and all is well. Do all of this and I assure you, you will be headed towards a nervous breakdown, or the most miserable, and meaningless life you can find in no time flat.
     Or Just fuck it. Now I don’t mean all the time. Yes, yes I know. Dishes have to be done, people need toilet paper, although I can tell you, my family has managed for weeks with just tissues and everyone’s ass is doing fine. Sometimes a play needs to be videotaped, though I would argue not every play needs to be videotaped. But if you want to keep doing all of these things when hard times come, and trust me, if you haven’t seen any yet, they are on their way(sorry to be the messenger of doom but that is life), you have to learn the coping skill of being stupid. Even when you aren’t in hard times, you can keep your stress level down, and yourself off anti-depressants designed to make you function like superwoman on crack, simply by living life as it should be lived from time to time, for sheer pleasure. I think if more people acted stupid there would be less anxiety and fewer addictions. There would be fewer obese people and fewer bad relationships. When people take themselves and their shit soo seriously, that’s when problems arise, because let’s face it, life is fucking hard. No need to complicate by acting all uptight and overzealous.
   So if you are on a diet, go eat a cream donut. Not every day mind you, but say once a week.  Or drink a shamrock shake for breakfast with booze( unless you are an alcoholic, then probably don’t do that; and don’t do this everyday, or you might become an alcoholic). Everyday you can say something ridiculous and unexpected. Text somebody when you are not supposed to because some asinine dating manual says that is a no no. Skip through the mall, instead of walking. Ask someone in a store, a customer mind you, not an associate, for their opinion on something, and watch their face light up. Everybody loves to feel important and like an expert. Need someone. Love someone, whether they love you back or not. Forget about being angry... or slam your car door as hard as you can while exclaiming your favorite expletive. Go to the movie theater and just buy popcorn and take it home to eat.  Have your nails painted some ridiculous color because you like it, instead of getting the safe french manicure or petal pink. You get the point. Do the contrary instead of the ordinary. It may not change the world, but little by little , it might change your life, or at least for the time being, make it a bit more tolerable. Until tomorrow, blogosphere. P.S. If any one is out there reading, I would so love to hear from you.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm not Tipper Gore but the woman has a point!

n my imagination, where I believe potentially that people are reading this blog, I hear a chorus of shouts saying “no, no, no, what the hell are you doing?” when they read this post today because contrary to the title and the mission statement of this blog, I feel for just a moment, bear with me imaginary internet friends, that I need to, gasp, be serious. In fact, as a matter of course, and probably largely in part due to my Catholic upbringing and the many years that I spent attending CCD (the equivalent of bible school for any non catholic), Wednesdays will be dedicated to seriousness on this blog which otherwise will be filled with the foolish, the outlandish and the absurd. 
      But let’s face it even God had Sunday, and while I am 85% sure that I am not some reincarnation of the Christ child, I was taught for many, many years that I was created in his image, so as a tribute to him Wednesday’s will contain serious subject matter. 
        Now don’t freak out, imaginary audience...I promise this will be less painful than a visit to the principal’s office, and I will still do my best to make the serious interesting, heartwarming, and of course, wherever and whenever possible funny, because honest to God, serious subjects often provide the most opportunities for comic relief.   
      That being said the lesson for today is about crazy people or more specifically psych wards. Recently, I’m not gonna lie because I am not ashamed and because I have no reason to be, I voluntarily spent several days on the psychiatric floor of a hospital, as I mentioned previously on this blog. For this, a lot of people seem to think they can label me “crazy”. Of course my natural reaction, and I think on most days its a good one, is to mock their stupidity and ignorance by feeding the beast, taking them to the circus and being the freak show it is that “they” think I am. 
      Some people might speculate that this is a cry for attention; others believe it is the true manifestation of a mad woman; but really i do what I do for several reasons. 
     First of all, because there is a certain liberation in doing the forbidden. Empowerment comes from the taking the world by the balls and saying “hey, I’m talking to you. Shut and up and listen.”  Second, I march to the beat of my own drummer, always have, always will. What other people tend to assign as odd to me feels normal. Individualism in this country is said to be prized, but really we are a nation of followers. We must drink our coffee from Starbucks, read the books on Oprah’s book list, shop endlessly at Target, design our holiday settings a la Martha Stuart, and dress according to the predictions of In Style magazine for what is “hot” for the season. Ads and television proscribe a lifestyle; a “norm” and when someone rejects those “norms”, Americans have a tendency to describe them as weird. This is why we have a nation of bullies and intolerant assholes...I’m just sayin’. Third, when you act strange, you do have a tendency to gain attention. Where people make the mistake is to think that I covet attention strictly for personal gain. This is a misnomer. My real purpose in garnering attention is to bring to light issues that are ignored by a society easily placated with caffeine and vodka and mindless entertainment such as the Jersey Shore. I mean, you can’t be serious.    
          One such issue, the issue I want to discuss today is how psych wards are thought to be the holding place for the insane, and this is how people who suffer from anxiety, depression, and other alleged “mental” disorders become maligned, mocked and the target of ignorant attacks. A young woman just the other day said in an attempt to be vicious, “go back to the psych ward”, as if by telling me that she was confirming and condemning me as crazy. But I should like to speak today on behalf of people in treatment for mental illness everywhere when I say most of the time people in these places are not themselves crazy; they simply find themselves amidst crazy circumstances.
        When I was in the hospital, for instance, I was not surrounded by your garden variety “lunatic” banging her head, foaming at the mouth, being strapped into restraints. Yeah there might of been one or two people who could have easily been reading off a hollywood script for seriously whack character, but by and large, the people that I met in the hospital where what I would describe as normal people who had just had the misfortune of getting the shitty end of the stick on more than one occasion.
          There was a father struggling to raise several young children in the face of his wife’s untimely and unexpected death. There was a beautiful young woman traumatized by an unstable childhood that included incidences of serious verbal and physical abuse. There was a mother who was caring for a disabled child and that constant care was putting such a strain on both her and her marriage that it was literally driving her crazy. These people were not, for the most part, delusional or rabid or violent. They knew who the president is, Richard Nixon, just kidding, and what day and month and year it was that they were locked up in a place associated primarily with people who shuffle around in night clothes attempting to climb walls. Not that people who do things probably do not have a very good reason for doing so, but my point here is, these people were “normal”. 
        They missed their Starbucks, and their trips to Target, and they brought with them their In Style magazines and the books from Oprah’s book list. They were not “crazy” as even I had suspected because clearly I did not belong there, but they were broken down   by tragedy and struggling to make sense of a world that so often makes no sense. In a word, they were human. Because though they did carry with them the objects of normalcy, they couldn’t use these objects to block out their human experience. They were, as I was, and still am, struggling to put the pieces of the puzzle of life together in some type of coherent fashion that makes sense and is meaningful. They could no longer function on autopilot: satisfied with what their next vacation would be, or what the sales on black Friday would be like or who would win the Super Bowl. These things still mattered somewhat but when you are touched by profound tragedy as each of us had been, it is impossible not to want to find something more meaningful and this search can often be exhaustive, without end or reward, and can literally drive you nuts. Which is why, as I say most days, I can’t be serious...at least not for the whole day, or not for a succession of days because honestly the world truly is a crazy place and sometimes the best way to keep your sanity once you realize this is to go with the grain of crazy instead of against it, all the while laughing knowing that, in fact, while you appear insane  you are actually the opposite.
      So I say to the girl who challenged me to return to the psych ward, as if she were condemning me to a life of crazy, the psych ward is not such a bad place. Its was actually filled with some of the most genuine and compassionate people that I ever met in my whole life. What’s crazy is that there is so much misunderstanding about human nature. What’s crazy is the way so many people function on autopilot living according to a proscribed lifestyle set out by television and the mass media. What’s crazy is that we are all supposed to be different and yet the trend seems to be to make everyone the same. And when you want to be an individual as dictated by our essential nature, people label you and judge and attempt to lock you up and medicate you into submission. Read 1984 people. That’s fucking nuts, in my opinion. 
Now enough of the seriousness, tomorrow back to the bright side of things. I will discuss    the benefits of acting stupid.   

Monday, March 21, 2011


                                       AN ODE TO AN OLD FRIEND

                                  In my life, there has never been
                                  A man as lovely as you that I have seen
                                  Your beady eyes warm my heart
                                  Your warm breath smells like my kitty's fart
                                  Your directions to the restroom were positively genius
                                   I'm guessing by the way that you talk to women you have a teeny tiny penis                      
                                   Your charm and wit will win the world over
                                   Your girlfriend looks just like my best friend Rover
                                    Writing ridiculous poetry may be immature
                                    But for the blues, it is a splendid cure....

          Today's suggestion is two-fold. The next time that you encounter, as I recently had the opportunity to do, someone you don't like or who doesn't like you, instead of retreating like Washington's troops, run right into their face and offer them your best impression of Aunt Jemima. You know one of the best things about adopting the mantra of "you can't be serious" is that it makes it very difficult to dislike people because every interaction can be seen as opportunity to take lemons and make lemonade, and it is near impossible to stay angry or hate someone who has provided you with sweet refreshment on a day when you are hot and bothered.
         Case in point, when I ran into this lovely gentleman( and I use that word generously) who once informed me that I should use a wooded area as opposed to the facilities in his friend's apartment as a place to go to the bathroom, I did not shun him. I did not allow the sighting or the potential drama of it to spoil my evening. Nay, instead I embraced our reunion as a possible chance to practice being impervious to common people, who are, for the most part, my intellectual inferiors. And so how could I hate them? I only have the utmost pity and warm feelings to my fellow men who were not blessed by God in the same ways that I have been. See how if you embrace those who don't like you, you can use their negativity to inflate your own ego. Bonus one of this plan to not be serious.
            The second suggestion is to write a ridiculous poem about someone who doesn't like you. Primarily this is just pure hedonistic fun. I mean instead of being all serious and like oh my god, why would someone be so mean to little, old, sweet. gorgeous, brilliant me? Have a good laugh at their expense. It's much better than feeling sad, and it gives opportunity for creative expression. Any one who should like to try this exercise may feel free to post their effort in the comment section of this blog. If someone particularly doesn't like me, I should welcome their attempt with crazy good will. Nothing pumps me up like an insult. It's like a tank of helium to my deflated balloon.
              Oh and one more thing, I told you with me there is always one more thing, there are a lot of people out there throwing around the term self-respect and suggesting that I am lacking in that department. This is a side note, and not so much pertinent to this post except that perhaps some people might think it beneath them to act immature, passionate or to write silly, ridiculous things on the internet where possibly the entire world could view them. To these notions, I say simply, psshaw. First, self-respect is likely overrated; and second, if there is such a thing, I'd hardly say that someone who is willing to put themselves out into the world to be judged, persecuted and generally maligned and disliked is lacking self-respect. In fact, I think quite the opposite is true. Of course, that is only my opinion, but since I am the only person that I have to answer to ultimately, my opinion is the only one that matters. How's that for self-respect? I think good. I'm quite satisfied:)
              So get cracking on your limerick, and put a smile on your face. Life is too short to be serious.      

Thursday, March 17, 2011


  Redefining Crazy
    Once upon a time, when someone would say something mean to me, I would fret over it for days. Today’s lesson is about how not to let someone’s nasty comment ruin your day.
  So I had a fabulous conversation with a young lady ten years my junior the other evening. We were fighting over, let’s be honest what is it that women ever fight over, a boy (unless you are at warehouse sale and there is only one size of the dress that you and some other woman both want and you both claimed to have seen it first) and this young lady, a lovely woman, other than the fact that she is roughly a hundred pounds overweight and her facial features happen to make her look like “more man than woman” as my Spanish exchange student used to say, said to me “Laurie you are crazy!"
    If I had to guess, this comment was aimed at making me feel somewhat less than. Sadly Kathy, I will call her, is unfamiliar with my life story, and my thoughts on the word crazy so that unfortunately for her, when she likely thought that she was insulting me, I actually felt she was paying me a compliment. This woman claims to be a lawyer, though her best retort was “Shut up , Laurie, I hate you”. Again, I’m not sure where she was headed with these comments, but if I had to guess, I suppose she meant them as insults, though I took them handily as compliments.
    Her main theory on why I am not dateable was that I have five children. Furthermore, she cited that I am an insufficient role model to my offspring. This from a woman, who has no children, doesn’t want any, and looks as though she could be the next spokesperson for Jenny Craig(at the beginning of the campaign because she has much weight to lose). Not that I have anything against overweight people. This is a lesson on how to handle insults that are ludicrous, erroneously based, and generally, just, well, for lack of a better word, stupid. This lesson can also be applied to 'accurate' insults as well because really is there such a thing?
   When I studied philosophy, we learned about types of argument. Apparently Kathy missed that course in law school. I wonder where ever she did earn her degree, and if in fact, she completed her course study at an actual physical university or if this was some type of paper she was able to acquire through the mail, but... I digress. Back to today’s lesson. Ad hominem attacks. Basically an ad hominem attack is a fallacy in good argument form. It’s when you attack someone’s character to divert attention from what it is that you actually arguing about. 
    It’s like when you say to your kid, “Hey you didn’t clean your room” and he says “yeah well you are bad mom.”

      "Sorry son it doesn’t work that way. We are not talking about what kind of mom I am, we are talking about the        
fact that you did not clean your room, a proper response would address that fact, and would not have anything to do with my character."

      Generally speaking, people use ad hominem attacks because they are incapable of arguing their point, either because they are wrong or because they are simply verbally incontinent.  I am going to guess that Kathy is both, but one can not be sure. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say possibly she is just one or the other.
       My point being, the next time that someone says something nasty to you, instead of getting all upset and serious and like, "why on earth would they say that to me, that is so horribly, terribly mean?" Attack the insults and their lack of resonance instead of the other person. I mean it would have been quite easy for me to tell Kathy that is she is fat, and horribly unattractive, but really that’s too easy and it is bad argument form, and it would have made me look just as silly and inept as she is, which I am most DEFINITELY( please note the proper spelling of this word because according to one source, it is a difficult word to spell and one missed by some spell checkers???) not.

     The better option for me really was simply to leave Kathy’s character and physical presence alone. I mean it speaks for itself, I needn’t speak for it. Moreover, I already know that I’m better looking, smarter, funnier, and that no jackass who hasn’t even had one kid much less five is going to insult my parenting skills in any meaningful way because her comments are spoken out of pure.unadultered.ignorance. Of course after our encounter, I called all of my friends and laughed about all of the things that she said about me and how ugly and fat and stupid she is, but in her presence, I did not stoop to these levels.
    Her greatest allegation really, of all, was that I am crazy. And here is what I think is most important to remember when someone is hurling vicious, nasty comments at you: think about what they are saying and say to yourself, really is what they are calling me all that bad? I mean words are just words. The old saying stick and stones really can be true, if you remember not to take people too seriously. Moreover crazy is in the eye of the beholder. And in this world, if I’m crazy, I am actually quite glad because honestly most days I walk around and I’m like “you can’t be serious” this is how the world works? And if that is sanity, than by God I hope I am crazy. Hang tough readers. Hell is breaking loose by the day.       

     Oh and one more thing. With me, there is always one more thing. Just to be extra special ludicrous and silly and to have a good laugh at the person insulting you and yourself- which really is priceless in terms of mood elevation- trust me- shout with as much  righteous indignation as you can muster, " DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?"

     And when the person regards you as if you are crazy, or pathetic or stupid....be so and say in the most modest, uncertain, and contrite voice that you can contrive, " Oh...okay...I was just wondering." Look down with a sad expression and continue. " I was trying to find out for myself, so I am just asking around."  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Have an absurd conversation with your Cat, and if you don't have a cat have an absurd conversation with whatever pet you do have, and

If you don't have a pet, begin this exercise by promptly acquiring one. Trust me, this will help.

One of the first things that I studied as a philosophy student was the concept of absurdity. The thing is human beings who spend a lot of time in thought, of which I am one, often find the world to be a frustrating place because it is a very difficult and strenuous activity to find meaning in a world where so many events seem to happen for absolutely no good reason whatsoever.

There are days when I struggle to find meaning, to be serious, to contemplate how I am going to make a difference and then there are days when I have just.absolutely.fucking have had ENOUGH. On these days, when my sanity hangs in the balance, I chose to combat absurdity with absurdity, or in other words, I walk around acting like a jackass, which often has the effect of making me feel better.

In the words of one of my favorite singers, James Taylor, "People can be so cold. They'll hurt you and desert you, and they'll take your soul if you let them, oh yeah, but don't you let them." Easier sung than done, but here is a suggestion for the preservation of your soul: have an absurd conversation with your cat, and or other pet.

I say a cat is the best person to have such a conversation with and this may be because I am partial to cats, or perhaps it is simply because I happen to own the best cat in the world, an asian short hair, who is white with blue eyes, his name is Stuart. I remember well the day that I took my daughter to purchase a dog from the pet store. She was five, my son was 2 and a half at the time. I only had two children then. Those were the easy days.

In any case, there was this little white cat, who resembled quite strikingly, Stuart Little from the film version with Gina Davis, which at the time had just been released. He looked at me from his little crate and put his face into the holes and meowed. Not a whiny, annoying meow. But more a meow that said, "Hey lady, if you get me out of this fucking pet store, I promise I'll be your friend forever." The pet store owner said he was the last of the litter. All of his brothers and sisters had already been purchased. I believe he cost somewhere around four hundred dollars, which is astronomically large sum of money to pay for a cat, given that on any residential street corner in the summer, it is almost impossible not to find a free kitten, but this cat was special, and so I forked over the four hundred bucks, and Stuart, as the kitten became known to us, held up his end of the bargain and was my friend forever.

Sure, there were a couple of trying days in the beginning. Like when his claws threatened to unravel my newly installed berber carpeting. There was the time when he scratched my daughter en route to the vet, right across the cheek drawing blood. After that, we had a firm conversation in which I informed Stuart that he could remain in our house, but only if he allowed me to declaw him. He accepted his fate with his usual good humor. Any way, he is a house cat and a lazy one at that. Once when we had a mouse in our home, he sat prominently on the sofa and watched it run amuck. Eventually, I screamed "Stuart" as if to shame him into action. Not unlike the t.v. cat, Garfield, he looked at me with an expression of disregard, as if to say, "You can't be serious."

And thanks to Stuart, on the many days when I am feeling so super serious, and like there are no answers, and things will never get better, and my soul is being stolen, and I hate everyone that I know, save my children, who are just simply annoying at times but, otherwise generally very lovable creatures, I can't be serious, because I look into his blue eyes as he follows me everywhere that I go, always finding a spot on my lap or my chest when I am seated or lying down, and I can't help but discuss life with him. He is one of the only living creatures to ever keep a promise to me. Our covenant is sacred. So I trust him with my inner most thoughts.

Stuart has many nicknames. When I am feeling spanish, I call him Senor Valdez. Don't ask me where I got this from because I don't know. He also, for a time, went by the name of Lane Ligon, who was my former realtor when we sold our house in South Carolina. The name just floats off your tongue like butter and so I wanted to call him that so that I could say it over and over again. Also, since our house wasn't selling, I would pretend that Stuart was in fact Lane Ligon, and I would ask him questions about the house selling. Case in point, absurd conversation made me feel better.

As of late, with the house being somewhat of a disaster and my life following suit, I have begun to greet Stuart when I find him sprawled out on my king sized bed as if he is in charge of everything, Your Lordship. I have taken to making the children, and the few people brave enough to pay me a visit in my home, greet him as such. It seems appropriate (see last post for my definition of appropriate) given that he has lived with us now for nearly twelve years, and he has faithfully remained my friend, indeed on many occasions keeping shit together, or at least helping me keep my shit together. He has a regality about him that can not be denied, and so I believe this title suits him quite well.

When I am feeling particularly blue and hopeless, I often ask Stuart, "What is it like to be a cat? What is your cat life like really?" When I sit in my rocker chair crying for the two thousandth time in a week, he actually hugs me, and takes his paw and pats my shoulder. I do not lie. He also, incidentally, not to brag, but to brag, uses the toliet ala Mr. Jinx in Meet the Parents. If I can ever master the art of recording home video and then posting it to a blog, I will play it on here, I promise. For now, you will have to take my word for it. I swear to God, on my own life and the lives of my nearest and dearest, that it is true.

He typically answers me to the effect that life as a cat really isn't all that bad. One time, when we were watching the Olympics he did experience a period of depression because he became insanely jealous of the swimmer Michael Phelps. He felt certain, given the opportunity and proper training, that he could compete and indeed beat Mr.Phelps. I gently explained to him that cats are not allowed to compete in the olympics.

"That's ridiculous", Stuart told me.
"I know", I said reassuringly, "It's not fair."
"I could beat him, I know I could and I would look dashing in bathing cap and a unitard."
"You would Stuart, I believe in you."
"Thanks Laurie, you are the best human being I know."
And this why having an absurd conversation with a cat, or other pet, can help you not be so serious, and perhaps for glimpses in time, even a little happy:)

Friday, March 11, 2011


I am thirty six years old, the mother of five, and so all by all rights and social norms, I should no longer be listening to the Jerky Boys and laughing myself into frenzy. But I do it any way, because among other things, there is a lot wrong with me. I could begin to list alphabetically the issues from which I suffer but I think that would be far too time consuming really and readers would likely fall into a deep coma. This is not my intention so you will just have trust me that I am not right.

Any way, my favorite Jerky boy track is one called the gay model, in which one of the Jerky boys calls up a modeling agency to tell about his act. "I have other tricks and trinkets", he says. "First, I soak myself in lamp oil, then I burn myself in front of the crowd. The crowd seems to love this."

The woman on the other end of the line says, "I don't know if that would be appropriate", hesistantly.

And the Jerky boy answers resoundingly, "Oh, it's APPROPRIATE."

Today's suggestion for surviving the shitty is two fold really. First and foremost, listen to the Jerky boys, because they are funny as hell and they will cheer you up in spite of yourself. If you have never heard of them before, they are a bunch of guys who made prank phone calls and taped them, and then went to jail for doing so. There work is on itunes. I suggest downloading instantly if you are feeling blue.
My second suggestion is to do exactly as the Jerky boys did, which is to take the inappropriate and make it appropriate. It doesn't really matter how you do it. Just take anything that you have ever thought about doing, but didn't because you didn't think it was appropriate, and do it any way. Ala the people in Jackass, or Ashton Kutcher in punked. You don't have to be a celebrity to act like a jackass; it feels great even if you are a regular person.

Case in point. My friend Courtney and I went out this summer to a local bar scene dressed in Jean shorts, naughty by nature t-shirts that had names on the back, and Ugg boots The t-shirts belonged to my oldest daughter and her friend, and they were originally made as team shirts for a game they played on a team together called J ball. The back of one read Eileen Eulick, the other said, Alpha Kenny Wun. We wore entirely too much make up and put our hair in pig tails. It was an embarrassment and an abomination, but boy oh boy was it fun, and really in the end we didn't hurt anyone. Sure we may have acted like idiots. We may have dressed somewhat disgracefully. We may have kissed on the lips when a crowd encouraged us to do so, and the police promised that they wouldn't arrest the "twins", but you know, you only live once, and so live you should.

Sometimes life really, really just sucks. There will be days when your kid doesn't make a team that he had his heart set on making and there will be nothing to do about it. There may come a time when you get diagnosed with some horrific disease, or you may live in area hit by a natural disaster. You may have a stranger show up at your door one day to tell you that his wife is having an affair with your husband. One day you will be at a funeral for someone you love, and one day you will be at your own. In light of all of this, I encourage you to reevaluate that which you think is inappropriate, and to find laughter where you can, when you can, because honest to God life is too short, and when it starts feeling like its too long, you need to readjust your strategy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


So it was Saturday, and my weekend with the kids, and my oldest daughter is home on Spring Break from boarding school and so of course I am feeling the need for self pity. Oh. My. Life is so hard. I have to take Isabelle to a birthday party which means I have to buy a present, or find something left over from Christmas that remains unopened. Courtney calls and wonders, do I want to go to the gym? And when I answer yes but who is going to watch these kids because I assure you my oldest daughter is NOT going to do it. She is already furious with me for being a selfish size zero, so Courtney offers that Alexa is happy to do it.
Oldest daughter comes downstairs and says, "You are going to the gym?" in the same tone that I would expect her to use if I were say announcing that I was headed to the center of town to purchase crack, or that I was headed out on an interview to become a stripper (a vocation, by the way, that I have considered as of late, because primarily I think I could do it).
"Yes", I say defensively, as if I am talking to my mother after returning home past curfew.
"You know Katie told me that she saw you at the gym running topless."
This is supposed to embarrass me, I know this. I know that I have never run topless at the gym because I am pretty sure that this is against the rules and my membership would have been revoked had I done so. Also, I probably would have a couple more phone numbers and a lot more dates...as it stands the closest thing I have ever done was to run in my sports bra, which really I think is like a bikini top, and I have seen plenty of runners on the road wearing them.
But I am a Catholic (not by practice but by birth) and so I feel a certain sense of guilt. I was raised in a family where we did not talk of sex or body parts. Our family motto was "what will the neighbors think". Since my divorce, however, and since I live in a small town where, according to my mother, every one thinks that I am crazy and a slut, and among other things generally a bad, bad person, I have had to learn to let go of what any one thinks of me, and this is NOT easy when you have lived your whole life trying to keep up appearances.
So to stop caring about what other people think, I start thinking about what I think and I get my mind in the gutter and I reminisce on the ride to the gym with Courtney about my old cleaning guy and friend, Hans.
Hans was openly gay, though not flamboyant. He probably had more money than I did, and he definitely had a nicer house. He had a partner named Dave who was particular about things like how high the heat was turned up, and how much money Hans spent at stores like BED, BATH AND BEYOND.
I am not particularly neat, nor do I pretend to be so, but I have a strategy for cleaning , on the rare occasion that I do, which is to move all of the shit in my house around. For this reason, Hans used to say my house was like T.J. Maxx, nothing was ever, ever the same place twice.
Talking to Hans was liking talking to a girlfriend, but I had to admit to Courtney that when he would bend over to say pick up a bucket or tuck the sheet into a bed, I couldn't help but wonder, "is his ass sore?" Did he have sex last night ? And then because I had been to his house and seen his bedroom, a visual would begin to appear in my mind, one that I couldn't immediately block out, like a computer pop up.
And then, my mind being the run away train that it is, I would wonder if Hans was the giver of sex or the receiver? I wondered, and I don't know if any other heterosexual people out there wonder this or not, but I wondered do they take turns? Is there a rotation, or is it a battle of wills, is there a flow chart by the bed, is there a system of justice or is this a source of argument and contention in the relationship?
Courtney looked at me like there was something seriously wrong with me, and I mean more seriously wrong with me than when she drove me to the nut house in December, but oddly enough having my head in the gutter made me feel better about the whole topless running comment. I mean it made me remember that we can think strange things about one another and still like each other. None of us is perfect and we all do odd, in some cases, taboo things. But isn't this really just a description of human nature? And maybe the observation that I ran topless in the gym was just that an observation. A thought. A curiosity. Like my wondering if Hans's ass was sore or if after a while, you just get used to that sort of thing. It didn't make me like him any less, it just made me wonder cause I didn't know.
Or maybe that girl was being a vicious little bitch and she is jealous that at thirty six, after having five kids, I have nearly a six pack abs and I weigh only a little over a hundred pounds and probably a good forty pounds less than she does. If that is the case, oh well. It taught me a new survival strategy: get my head in the gutter, because really when you think about sex, it's awfully hard to be serious.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Up until last, I woul
d say February, I took life very seriously. I had a baby at nineteen and then got married at twenty. I earned a degree in philosophy from the University of South Carolina during which I gave extensive thought to death and the meaning of life. And then something happened when I turned thirty four and I realized, um holy fucking shit, I am not immortal and soon enough the past is going to be about me and what in the hell have I really done with my life?
Well I did have five children, no small feat. I did have a gorgeous five bedroom, four and half bath home, I had a Louis Vuitton purse, and a country club membership. All of my kids attend private school. Not a one of them has a single health issue and in fact, they are all quite bright, but still I wasn't "happy". The primary cause of my discontent was my marriage which, in a manner of speaking, I had been forced into on account of the fact that I was, to be blunt, and not poetic, knocked up.
So at thirty four, I decided to change my life. I felt like I was living out someone else's script for my life. As Shakespeare would say I was "creep(ing) in this petty pace", and I was getting pretty tired of it. I wanted to live my own life. The one that Oprah talks about; the one that I was hopeful to live when I studied philosophy. Unfortunately the writers of my old story: my parents, my ex husband, and to some extent, even my children, were not terribly happy that I was firing them from being the head writers of my show and this is what caused all hell to break loose.
Over the past year, I have sat in a women's center more than once; in several therapists office; and for a week even in a psychiatric ward ( I signed myself in, but more about that later). I obtained a temporary PFA (lifetime calls these restraining orders). I lost my financial footing when my husband refused to give me any money until the courts ordered him to do so, six months after he left the house. I dealt with my extremely conservative Catholic parents condemnation of my abominable sin: divorce, and the consequences associated with the withdrawal of their financial support on which I have been (rightly or wrongly) dependent my entire life. I met a guy that I absolutely adored, who said he adored me, but who also had a girlfriend. I was hit on by my friend's boyfriend at a time when I most vulnerable and desperate and dealt with the guilt and shame associated with allowing him to kiss me. My favorite Aunt died in a freak accident in which she broke her neck tripping down the steps.
I got in trouble with the police when my daughter played upon my guilty divorced mother self and I allowed her to have an end of the year school party which ended with me and a bunch of drunk kids on my front lawn in the middle of our upper class development a two am as the authorities administered breathalyzer tests. I had the sheriff knock on my door to place a levy against my belongings for my unpaid legal bills to my divorce attorney. I lost every court battle and was told that even though I have been a stay at home mom for fifteen years, I now need to go out and get a job, even though my youngest is four and there is no way on earth that I could earn enough money working to pay for child care.
I have no idea how I will ever, ever, afford my mortgage by myself, and every week my parent's threaten to take the house that they pay for from me, and then they wonder why I can't snap out of it and stop being depressed.
For a long time, my approach to all of these problems was to think about them very, very seriously...but then I decided to switch the pace... I was listening to an old ipod that had some Jerky Boys clips on it. I hadn't probably listened to the Jerky boys since college, but my soon to be ex-husband had down loaded some of their material on to an ipod in our house, probably one of the kids' or his old one that he left at the house. And I started to laugh, like really hard. Like so hard that I couldn't catch my breath, and I thought about all the crazy stuff that I had done over the past year, and I realized that I am a hell of lot stronger than I give myself credit for, and while I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, I am growing. And for the first time, in a long time, I felt proud of myself.
So sure, I have a lot of obstacles in my way, and I have a less than desirable support system, and I am flat broke and with a philosophy degree and five kids, basically unemployable, but I'm still here and that is largely because I can laugh at myself. I hope that readers everywhere will find inspiration in this blog to find strategies to survive the shitty times in life because we can't control what happens to us, we can only control our reaction, and most of the time when things suck the best response is, quite honestly, to laugh. My goal is to help people everywhere do that. So stay tuned. Tomorrow I will teach lesson one.