I think, therefore I am funny

I have a confession to make. Sometimes when I read a draft of one of my humor blogs I think, “Was I watching a mime walking against the wind when I wrote this?” (Caution: Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while watching a mime performance.)

Writers are about as confident as a computer geek in a biker bar. My humor book will be coming out in a few months. Even though it got rave reviews from both a magazine editor and an agent who critiqued it, I shelved it for two years. Now I’m pulling up my pants (don’t ask how they got down), shoveling the dust off (the manuscript, not my pants), and preparing to publish in the hopes that it will find a home on the back of thousands of toilets.

By the way, if you want to see the excellent cover art, you can go to the bookstore link at the top of this page. The artwork was once again done by El Kartun, who did the cover for Box of Rocks and has talent coming out his butt.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’ll be guest blogging at Blogging Authors, where I’ll share my expertise on the basics of adding humor to your writing. Hope you can all stop by so I don’t look pathetic and lonely. What I didn’t mention in my blog is that crafting humor is hard work. If it were easy to find the humor in cow farts, everybody would be doing it.

Wish me luck as I put the finishing touches on a book replete with pathos, angst, drama, and hilarity, and noticeably free of mimes.

P.S. Graphics on this blog are used by permission. If you copy them, they will shoot me.

I like my stuff

Every time I moved, I would open a box of my crappy old stuff and feel like it was Christmas morning. “Oh look, the can of olives I bought in 1992!” (Shut up! It has sentimental value.) I’d really like to simplify my life, but you’ll have to pry that olive can out of my cold, dead fingers.

Once you kick the kids out of the nest, change the locks, and hire a bouncer to watch the front door, it’s time to consider downsizing. Do you really need to clean four toilets, six closets, and a double car garage? Why are you saving the size six jeans that stopped fitting about the time you started hot flashes?

I’m not suggesting that you move to the country and can your own pickles (dill spears). I just think there are so many things we can do without and still be happy. If you save your used candy bar wrappers, there’s no hope for you. Just sayin’.

The problem with this theory is that I really like my stuff. How can I part with the Christmas cookie cutters, the funky smelling old linens, the tarnished silver (plate), and all the duplicate toenail clippers? I’ve got a leg up on some people, since my fine china has the word “Dixie” stamped on it.

I try to will myself into living more simply. I may as well resolve not to snore or sleep with my mouth hanging open. Wanting it doesn’t stop me from being a candidate for a ridiculous you-tube video when I’m napping on the couch. What I need is a concrete plan.

For starters, I could do without:

Spammers, twenty pounds, rude customer service representatives, trips to the mall, elevator music, and horseradish. I’m already well on my way towards a simpler lifestyle. I’m open to suggestions on what else to eliminate. I don’t have all the answers, but at least I have my olives.

Giving them the business

For personal reasons (don’t ask) I’ve decided to strike out on my own business-wise, so I’m flogging my company, Tart Cookies back to life. This involves a whole lot of red tape, creating new accounts, and designing a logo that doesn’t look like a third grader’s rendition of two giraffes copulating (and you thought they were reading National Geographic for the stimulating articles).

Since I can’t afford pot roast, I thought I’d look into grants for small businesses. The internet tells me that the government is throwing free money at anyone with a pulse. I thought I’d look into it now, since the end of the Mayan calendar is just around the corner. (It’s also the reason that I’m not currently looking for a parking spot at the mall.)

For a modest fee, a team of experts will guide me through the process with no guarantees that I’ll get the grant. This smacks strongly of “bend over and take it in the rear.” I know that trying to find a grant on my own would take me into the next millennium (assuming the world doesn’t end), so I’ll start my business the old fashioned way—hemorrhaging money like a gaping chest wound.

They say you’ve got to spend money to make money. Done and done. In less than a month, my fledgling business has spent $250 and made $16. I love it when a plan comes together.

Still, I have full artistic license up the wazoo. I can write about vegetarian cannibals and rise or fall depending on my writing and marketing skills. Fortunately, I have a dear friend who works as my marketing director. I pay her in Three Musketeer bars and empty promises. She researches advertising, sets up gigs for me, and nags me about having my business cards handy at all times. I kind of suck at all the above, so I’m truly blessed to have her on my team. (Hee hee, I have a team.)

I’ve re-published Box of Rocks under my own label, and hope to have my humor book out in February or March. Wish me luck, and you can send contributions to hopelessoptimist.com.

Recipe for disaster

Later this month I’ll be attending the Writer’s Police Academy. For those of you thinking of breaking into my house while I’m away, please note that it is protected by an intricate security system of ninjas, tiger traps, and a sumo wrestler nicknamed “The Hammer.” Just sayin’.

All attendees have to sign waivers in case we break our necks when we (inevitably) fall off the zip line. You can probably imagine a middle-aged woman with osteoporosis, arthritic knees, and stress incontinence trying to run an obstacle course. All this after consuming a cheeseburger (no onions), potato salad, baked beans, a power bar, and the obligatory donuts. I’m looking forward to the Krispy Kremes workshop.

I’ll be hiking out into the woods to examine a shallow grave, learning how to identify blood spatters, dusting for fingerprints, and watching my partner’s back in the firearms training simulator. My apologies in advance to my soon to be virtually deceased partner. That friendly fire incident is going to haunt me forever.

Yes, I’m going to suit up for a high risk entry into an actual residence. I will then cry, when they have to break out the extra large SWAT gear for my not-so-ripped physique. (Too many Krispy Kremes.) I’ll get to learn the techniques for take down, restraint, and handcuffing. C’mon, people. Get your minds out of the gutter.

I’ll be taking notes on how to turn macaroni, gold spray paint, glitter, and pipe cleaners into a dirty bomb (or an ashtray). Oh, the humanity! Honestly, this is going to be serious hands-on research of crime, law enforcement, and emergency services.

In the quest to add realism to my not-so hard-core crime writing, I am even willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and wear ugly gray sweat pants. They serve the dual purpose of wicking moisture away from the skin, and hiding the fact that I soiled myself waiting for my turn on the zip line. If anyone takes my picture thus attired, they may have a real live crime scene on their hands.

Goodwill hunting

I have very little objection to shopping in thrift stores, other than the smell, disorganization, and cootie concerns. I’ve held off on buying new clothes until I lose weight, at which point, my present wardrobe will be in rags. I never understood why people would spend good money for distressed jeans. I like my jeans looking crisp and new, but my current pair is on Prozac.

Every time I think we’re getting a handle on our credit card balance, some new and expensive disaster arises … an abscessed tooth, car repairs, and most recently, canine phobias. I went out last week and ordered an area rug. “Area” is code for the size of a circus tent.

You see, my dog has developed a morbid fear of my hardwood floor. He stalls interminably when crossing from the rug to the hardwood. He gets trapped on the sofa, waiting for a spotter to help him stick the landing when dismounting. I can only guess that he must have slipped and hurt himself, since this only started two weeks ago.

I figured that if I got the ugliest rug they had, it wouldn’t set me back too badly. I looked at Astroturf and rugs that would make any sane person vomit on the spot. I finally settled on a simple pattern that would only cost as much as two years of visits to the nail salon. I don’t take great care of my personal appearance, but I prefer fingernails that don’t look like they’ve been chewed on by wolverines.

Clearly, something on my budget would have to give. Since my jeans now have butt ventilation, I’m going to have to start haunting the thrift stores. Women generally flock to size middle-aged spread like a hoard of locusts, leaving size zero and size Marlon Brando for the rest of us.

If you see me at the market and I’m wearing the clown pants that nobody else wanted, you’ll know why.

Going for Gold

It’s never too early to be thinking about the 2020 Summer Olympics. My neighbor was out this morning (not the curmudgeon) training for the games, where it is rumored that there will be competitive lawn mowing for the first time.

His son was out with him, so he’s obviously going for the synchronized mowing event.

“How far down are you going?” the boy shouted over the roar of the engine.

“Just to the big wheel.”

Judging is based on uniformity of grass length, precision of matching up the individual patches, and the beauty of tandem movements. Extra degree of difficulty is awarded for fire ant mounds and low-hanging branches dripping with spiders the size of miniature schnauzers. Judging is done by a panel of Homeowners’ Association police.

It has taken a good deal of lobbying to get this event approved by the Olympic Committee, as several of the members live in neighborhoods where the front lawn consists of dirt, rocks, and the occasional land mine. I won’t get all snooty and say the Americans have it tied up, but really world, just look at our lawns! They are green, pristine, and notably lacking in explosive devices.

Other events will include the lawnmower slalom, 100 meter freestyle, and (of course) competitive edging. If you have suggestions for other Olympic events, by all means, let us know. I’ll get a petition going, right after I finish my yard work.

Bedside Mis-Manners

Have you ever noticed how the usual response from the surgical staff when you wake up during a “procedure” is to stroke your head and say, “It’s all right.”  Seems pretty lame when you’re lying there with half a silverware drawer sticking out of your neck. At least when I started swatting at the oxygen mask and yelling, “Get it off me! I can’t breathe!” they were kind enough to remove the mask and just hold it over my face … as they cranked the anesthesia to Chernobyl. I think I managed to say “Thank you” before slipping into a coma. I’m all about the good manners.

As a society, without proper etiquette, we are little better than rutting warthogs. I’ve dated a few of them, so I know whereof I speak. I have been in the delicate and vulnerable position of being a hospital patient many times, and would like to address a few “issues” I’ve had with staff:

  • When it is fifty-cent beer night in the recovery room, you might want to offer a pint to the patient. I couldn’t believe the nerve of the nurses who were walking around with glasses of beer and not sharing. Had I been a little more lucid, I would have realized that a) there was a big herkin’ tube sticking north into one of my southerly orifices, and b) the “keg” was hanging on the side of my bed.
  • I’m all for having a little privacy when forced to use a bedpan, but this is not a good time for the nurse to do her nails, have a tryst in the linen closet, or go home. It took four days for the pan imprint to fade from my butt.
  • When a patient is hyperventilating, it is best not to administer medication. To her credit, I would like to commend the nurse for her timely execution of the Heimlich maneuver to clear the golf ball size pill from my airway and send it rocketing across the room like a pharmaceutical missile. Her aim was impeccable, as it scored a direct hit on my husband’s manhood while he was suggesting that I breathe normally.
  • After delivery, is it really necessary to stick the patient in a room next to “the screamer”? I already did my part and pooped a watermelon out of a space which normally accommodates a tampon. I’d prefer not having to listen to the next act warming up.

I understand that there is very little time to observe the niceties when dealing with a gaping chest wound, and I would like to give a shout-out to the emergency room staff at North Arundel Hospital for saving my daughter’s life. You all are doing a wonderful job … just watch that bedpan thing. You don’t want an oval imprint on your heinie when it’s hanging out of a hospital gown.

Don’t stop till you throw up

I’m in a delicious state of busy right now. I’m talking banana split with whipped cream and two cherries on top delicious. I have that slightly giddy sensation that normally signals either sensory overload or impending aneurysm.

Bring it! … well, not the aneurysm part.

There are two things you should know about me:

  1. I don’t often get a sense of euphoria when there is half a rain forest’s worth of paper crushing my in-basket.
  2. I’m old

So the universe put it to a vote and decided that I was just having too much fun doing my job, and it could not allow the situation to go along unchecked. Last night, as I was dancing around the kitchen making dinner, something happened in my neck. We’re talking apocalyptic weeping and gnashing of teeth something.

Usually, at this point I would run, not walk, to the nearest gallon jug of vicodin … but I’m busy. I mean, I’ve got serious shit to do here, people. I might be called upon to drive, or pee, or do long division, any of which could have disastrous results if one is mentally impaired. Note to self: cancel company team building exercises. Me, my osteoporosis, and a zip-line were probably a bad combination from the start.

Lest you are at this moment reaching for an ice pick to shove in your ear, I am not going to bore you with a rant about the cruel realities of aging. I’m actually feeling incredibly grateful for the last six months spent relatively free of neck pain.

Bottom line, I still have that giddy work-related feeling, so I’ll run with it in spite of muscle spasms, pinched nerves, and an odd rash on my butt—probably unrelated. I may not be running on all engines, but I’m having fun doing it.

And for team building, I think a cribbage tournament will hold less risk of mind-numbing terror, broken bones, and projectile vomiting. We’ll save the zip-line for next year.

Wait for it, Mom

I get regular friendly email reminders from FTD to tell me that I have a problem with procrastination. In my defense, it’s often just a case of being an inconsiderate boob being forgetful. Flowers say: a) I walked past the greeting card aisle three times, and was so focused on deodorant and Tootsie Pops that I forgot to stop and select some crappy card containing a heartfelt sentiment; or b) I’m out of stamps.

My mom lives in Arizona, and I don’t. My laughable budget doesn’t allow me to get much farther than the corner supermarket: a considerable distance from her house. Since I can’t be with her for Mother’s Day, I carry her in my heart.

Here are some of the things she taught me, that I have tried to pass along to my children. Editor’s note: I am not making this up.

Paddling is best done with a wooden spoon. It stings real good without leaving a mark that would alert child welfare authorities.

Chores should be a family affair. Just don’t drop the old barn on any member of the family while tearing it down.

Teach your children to do it right the first time. For example: the proper use of firearms should be exercised at all times if you live next to an international airport. (Obviously, this was before the days of Homeland Security).

Play with your children, even if it involves running around in the backyard throwing pancakes at each other. Don’t include syrup, because that would just be weird.

Teach your children proper nutrition. Stamp glue doesn’t count as a food group.

Finally, be sure to worship together–unless you find a church that provides a bus to whisk your kids to Sunday School while you sleep in.

I encourage you to cherish the memories, and show your heartfelt appreciation to the woman who bore you with those special words: Mom, your crappy card is in the mail.

My brains are on fire

I’ve only known a few vegetarians in my lifetime. These are people who have never opened a box of macaroni and cheese in their lives. They shop in the produce aisles, at roadside stands, and at black market Amish bake sales. I’m sorry, but you can chop, parboil, and puree a radish all you like and it’s never going to taste like a Snickers bar.

Years ago, while waiting to pick up my kids from preschool, I noticed one of these emaciated souls eating something that looked like candy. My curiosity peaked, I asked her what it was and she offered me a piece of crystallized ginger. It had nothing on salt water taffy, but tasted sweet, with a nice little bite to it.

Of all the home remedies that were forced on me as a child (one of which involving a hose and warm water, that would make any suspect confess to a multitude of crimes) my mother never gave me ginger. It is a proven remedy for headaches, as it reduces inflammation in the brain.

I’m pretty sure that my brain is in a constant state of inflammation. I don’t suffer headaches often because I possess a skull roughly the size of a gym bag, easily accommodating lycra biker shorts, towels, energy drinks, and oversized brains. But my neurons seem to be under-performing lately.

I can only attribute that to brain cells spontaneously combusting every time I try to form a coherent thought. Admittedly, I killed a lot of brain cells in my misbegotten youth, when I enjoyed a liquid diet that would put down a fully grown wildebeest. In the interest of science, today I’m enjoying a liquid diet composed mostly of diet ginger ale.

If my blog is less chaotic than normal, and noticeably free of dog jizz, then I owe a debt to Canada Dry. Still, I’m not likely to resort to Mom’s method for curing constipation. I don’t have any crimes to confess.