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Posts Tagged ‘humor’

  1. Speak now or forever hold your head in your hands

    April 23, 2017 by Diane

    It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    After all, I’ve survived haircuts in the past. It goes like this: I show the stylist a photo, say, “I want this cut,” and my stylist says, “Your hair won’t do that. You’ll look like a man.” We dicker, I give in, and she gives me a cut that makes me look like a conservative middle-aged woman.

    Which I am.

    Minus the conservative part.

    My hair has been earlobe-length for twelve weeks. Well, not the entire twelve weeks. It took twelve weeks to mosey to my earlobes, and I would have let it mosey to my shoulders, but it was starting to straggle, not mosey, so I decided to go for pert and fun instead.

    I decided to get a pixie cut.

    I scoured the internet for photos of pixie cuts and printed them out, including one of an older woman with a severe style that was the perfect example of what I didn’t want, and showed them to my BFF, Dave.

    He liked the manly one.

    “You’re taking beauty advice from a man, because…?” My old stylist said. I trusted her opinion, so popped in to get her feedback. By the time I’d popped out, I’d committed to an appointment with her, three weeks in the future, at a price I couldn’t afford.

    Why didn’t I tell her the truth? You’re worth every penny, but I don’t have that many pennies to part with!

    After squirming for days, I sent her a text message. I need to get my hair cut sooner rather than later, and since you’re totally booked, I’m going to have to cancel our appointment. It was the truth. I was attending a networking event and wanted to look professional, not scraggly.

    My new stylist, the one I can afford, doesn’t know how to be brutally honest. When I showed her the photos, saying, “I want it short at the sides like this, with longish bangs, full in the back, and cropped close to the neck at the bottom like this,” she said,

    “We can try that.”

    I looked up. “But can you do it?”

    “It will be very short in the back, but we can try.”

    There was that word again. Try. I looked at her long Asian hair, with a wide strip dyed a sort of orangish-blonde, and put my head in her hands.

    It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Until she brought out the clippers.

    I’m not talking about toenail clippers. I’m talking about those electronic razory things that teenage boys use to buzz-cut their hair. The gizmo barbers use for a manly cut.

    She brought out the clippers and started buzzing the back of my neck. Waves of hair plopped into my lap. I squirmed. What have I done? The more she buzzed, the more I squirmed, until finally, she put the clippers away and finished up with scissors.

    The front looked great. Pert, the way I wanted. Maybe I was overreacting. I felt cautiously optimistic.

    Then she brought out the hand mirror. She held it up so I could see the back.

    I was speechless.

    Stunned.

    I thought I might be sick.

    That’s not me. That’s…a BOY!

    “Let me take a picture,” she said. She took several shots of the back of my head with her smartphone and showed them to me.

    I batted it away.

    “I’m sorry,” she said. “Don’t worry, it will grow.” And then, “It’s cool!”

    I managed to write a check and drive home.

    I stuffed a chocolate truffle in my mouth.

    I called my mother.

    “Just don’t turn your back on anyone,” she advised. I pictured myself backing out of every room.

    I jammed the movie Sabrina into my DVD player and watched Julia Ormond dazzle Greg Kinnear and Harrison Ford with her girly pixie cut, and tried to drown out that inner voice screaming, WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING WHEN YOU SAW THE CLIPPERS?

    Why didn’t I?

    Why didn’t I speak my truth?

    Because I didn’t trust myself to know the difference between a clipper cut and a scissor cut, even though past experience had shown me that razoring fine hair is always a bad idea.

    The truth is, I sat on my truth.

    What other truths was I sitting on?

    Here’s one:

    Writing a humor blog seemed like a good idea. A way to amuse myself, and, hopefully, others, while pushing my work out into the world. A world of seventy people, but still, my corner of the internet universe. And it was a good idea. Fun. Until I latched onto the crazy idea that a humor blog would be a terrific platform for literary fiction. All I needed were, oh, 10,000 subscribers, and I’d attract the attention of an agent or publisher, followed by a big fat cash advance for my novel.

    Which meant attracting another 9,930 readers to my blog.

    Piece of cake.

    I hopped on Twitter, and tried to entice followers to my website by sharing my blog posts, a form of virtual arm-twisting of strangers. Which is just…icky. Aaaand, to get those 9,930 blog subscribers, I needed like a million Twitter followers, and I had about 1,600. So Twitter, which started as a platform for my platform, became a bad math equation and a popularity contest gone haywire. It brought up feelings from high school, when I was lousy at math and anything but popular.

    Yes, my amusing little blog had morphed into a full-blown Twitter addiction.

    Every time I wrote a post with the goal of getting more subscribers, every time I checked my stats on WordPress and my followers on Twitter, every time I considered setting up a Facebook page, and, oh, how about a page on Medium?—which I did—I squirmed inside.

    So I meditated on the question: to blog, or not to blog? I begged my higher self to give me a clear sign, first thing in the morning when I woke up.

    And I got a sign.

    An image.

    Of me in a straightjacket.

    It made perfect sense!

    I’m hampered by the blog’s name: Squirrels in the Doohickey. I’m boxed in by the theme: writing about the nutty stuff we do, say, and think when confronted with the stuff that drives us nutty. I tried sneaking non-humor pieces on: Before the Bulldozers Came, When Innocence Wore Your Brother’s Baseball Glove, even the early Only the Lonely. These were some of my favorite posts. But they weren’t keeping with the theme. An agent or publisher would raise an eyebrow and tell me, gently, that a humor blog is not a platform for literary fiction.

    I know that. Like I know clippers are razors in disguise.

    So, what is my truth?

    I remember why I enjoyed sharing humorous anecdotes in the first place: hearing my mother’s laugh. She has a great laugh. When I tell her my latest squirrelly encounter, she gives a sort of choking, squeaky laugh, then says, “Another one for the book.”

    But that’s not the book I want to publish.

    I was talking to a co-worker about Steve Martin. There’s Steve Martin the comedian. Steve Martin the film actor. Steve Martin the writer. And now, Steve Martin the banjo player touring with his band. Steve does it all, but not necessarily at the same time. He chunks his life into whatever pulls him, and I envy him that focus! At some point, when he was doing stand-up, he held up a mirror so to speak, and said, that’s not me, I’m an actor. And off he went.

    In the mirror, I see a humor writer. Fair enough. Part of me is a humorist. But lately it feels like that’s not me. I’m a fiction writer.

    So my truth, right now, is to blog for the joy of it, with no other outcome than this: if I make one person’s day, get one person to smile or chuckle or shoot coffee out their nostrils, it’s worth it. No pressure to attract more whatevers. No pressure to churn out a post every week on the dot. Just blog when something amusing strikes me, and leave it at that. So I can focus where my heart is leading: writing fiction.

    One thing is certain: whenever I feel uncomfortable, unsettled, and I start squirming, it’s a clear sign I’ll soon be holding my head in my hands, muttering, “That’s not me.”

    Although, truth be told, I am a bit of a tomboy. With this new pixie cut, jeans rolled at the cuffs, sneakers and a sweatshirt, I have the urge to shoot spit-balls at strangers, and make farting noises with my armpit.

    And I have an extra bounce in my stride.

     

     


  2. Random Thoughts While Meditating #6

    October 30, 2016 by Diane

    Yogi meditating under a tree

    Smile and the world smiles with you.

    Or it could just be gas.


  3. Seek and Ye Shall Find the Joy

    May 29, 2016 by Diane

    woman driving a toy car

    In my last post, I made a commitment to spend an entire week looking for things that bring me joy, rather than things that drive me nutty. For one week, I’d challenge the belief that the universe plays practical jokes on me alone, and test the theory that indeed it’s a benevolent cosmos, and whatever we desire is there for the picking.

    So off I roamed, in search of joy.

    Day 1

    To escape the stress of financial and job worries, I drive curvy mountain roads to the ridge line, strap on my hiking boots, and head up a narrow grassy trail. It’s Paris gray, moist and wispy with fog. It’s just me and the redwoods and pines, and the oaks sheathed in velvet moss. It’s just me and the scrubby sage bushes, and ticks waiting to latch on as I brush past, and the wayward mountain lion prowling for a snack.

    Look for joy!

    I pause at an outlook, and look.

    Now, if I write about the blue-green lake undulating in the sharp breeze, the bench at its edge that I hike down to, the Mallard duck paddling in a perfect rippling oval of water, the lilac and yellow and deep purple wildflowers dotting tall grasses, the call of a loon, the twitter of birds, then I would need to change the name of my blog to something other than Squirrels in the Doohickey, because there’s nothing squirrelly about this scene. It’s just me with my hands cupped, meditating.

    Until a jogger pounds behind me, his footsteps thudding on the wooden bridge. I hold my breath, waiting for him to zero in on me and do whatever squirrelly thing people who zero in on me do, but his footsteps fade on the trail.

    So far, so good.

    Joy!

    Day 2

    Off I go in search of a wallet. My own is splitting the seams. I drive to the shopping mall, browse the department stores, and find one wallet that might fit my various expired credit cards and business cards and savings club cards and crumpled bills and handful of pennies. I check the price tag. $185. For a wallet? What’s it made of, dinosaur hide? Overcome with fatigue, I stuff it back in its display and head to my car.

    And freeze.

    There, in front of my driver’s door, is someone’s lunch. Regurgitated.

    I remember the cat in the neighborhood who left a dead mole on my doorstep. A gift.

    This, in the parking garage, is no gift.

    Of all the cars, in all the parking garages, in all the world, someone had to spit up next to mine. It figures. The one thing, the ONE THING that gives me the heebie-jeebies. Spit up.

    It takes a balancing act to get over and around the mess, into my front seat. I check the bottoms of my sneakers. All clear. Just the usual grime.

    Joy, joy!

    Day 3

    At the library, I check out a three CD-set by Napoleon Hill, The Road to Riches. I want to be on that road. According to the copy on the back cover, the CEO of the Napoleon Hill Foundation was doing a bit of inventory and discovered unedited film reels of the old guy presenting his thirteen steps to success. So the CEO had these lectures transferred to CDs, with added commentary by today’s top inspirational leaders, and made a mint marketing the whole thing. Probably.

    My plan is to feed these wealth messages into my brain as I drive from work and back, to the park and back, to Target and back, to wherever it is I drive to, and back. I will fuel my mind with positive thinking, supplying what my brain is currently incapable of doing.

    It’s a far better thing to listen to Napoleon Hill than my own squirrelly thoughts.

    Joy, joy, joy!

    Day 4

    The traffic inches down the expressway. A five-minute drive takes thirty. I raise my hands in exasperation, pound the steering wheel, give a good show for the driver in front who watches in the rearview. But it’s just a show. Little does the driver know that I’m filling my head with prosperity thinking as Napoleon Hill counts down his thirteen secrets.

    Still, I’m late to my insomnia class. “Sorry,” I say. “I overslept.”

    Three people laugh. The other three look half asleep.

    Where is everyone? The first night was standing room only. Now, it’s a half dozen die-hard insomniacs sitting around tables, learning how to sleep.

    Halfway through the class, I start nodding off.

    It’s working!

    Joy, joy, joy, joy!

    Day 5

    As a member of the Jerry Jenkins Writer’s Guild, I have access to a stable of writers on the forum. I know none of them. However, they are writers, and likely candidates for what I’m currently experiencing, which is writer’s block so severe, I can do nothing more than sit in my chair like a sack of old potatoes.

    The stress, the lack of sleep, the muscle spasm in my right side, has drained every ounce of creativity from my psyche.

    “Not writing is causing me so much pain,” I post on the forum.

    Strangers whom I wouldn’t know if I passed on the street, leap to my rescue.

    “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” writes one.

    Another suggests that I cast my worries unto God.

    A third advises me to take a break, refuel, process my thoughts by writing them down.

    Even Jerry chimes in. “Interesting that pain has caused you to not write, and not writing has caused you pain. And then your virtual writing friends have come alongside you – in a writing forum – and given you advice about everything but the craft of writing, which may lead you back… to writing. And less pain.”

    Somewhere, someone is ready to catch us when we fall.

    Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy!

    Day 6

    There’s a voice in my head. I can’t shake it. An old man’s voice: nasally, tinny, as if speaking on an old recording.

    It’s Napoleon Hill.

    It could be worse. It could be Donald Trump.

    Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, joy!

    Day 7

    I walk to the vegetable market, about a half mile from home. Along the way, I talk to my mother on my cell. I tell her I need to learn to write fast. I’m too tense, hunched at the keyboard.

    “A blog post shouldn’t take more than one hour to write. It takes me a lot, lot, longer.”

    It doesn’t take longer,” she says. “You do. It takes as long as you take to write it.”

    A wise woman, my mother. A gift. From the universe.

    At the market, I fiddle with the knob on the metal toothpick dispenser. An elderly man stops to give me a hand. “I’ve got it,” I say, trying to fish one out before he can touch it, but my fingernails are too short. He pushes a couple of levers, and out the toothpick rolls, into my palm.

    An expert toothpick roller. What are the chances?

    It’s the universe, providing.

    Pick in hand, I make the rounds, sampling the fruits that the farmer in his green apron chops and displays under a plastic dome. The apricots, the melons, the strawberries, the blood oranges. The mangoes from Mexico fill my mouth with sweet juice.

    Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, joy!

    Day 8

    The experiment is over. In spite of a week of gnawing physical pain, creative angst, and worry, I have come to the conclusion that I have the capacity to turn those blues into lovely hues. While nutty things do happen (fodder for a humor writer), joyful things happen on a daily basis as well. It’s all a matter of looking.

    Life is good, as my old pal Quinn, an ex co-worker, would say on a good day. On a frustrating day, he would drag himself into my office and curl into the fetal position under my desk. This is how he soothed himself. By escaping. It was done in fun, of course, but there was a sharp sliver of truth to it.

    Which brings me to my second conclusion…

    Finding humor in the nuttiness is a valuable skill.

    And with that, off I go, in search of humor.