I’m up in Ohio visiting my parents, who are getting along in years. I normally come up at the end of the school year, but I was summoned by my sisters because in the past few weeks the family dynamic has sort of ... uh ... “collapsed” would be a good word.
My sister -- who shall remain nameless due to her behavior on the occasion herein described, but let’s just call her Susan -- is celebrating her birthday today, and she doesn’t want anyone to know her age (which is 60) because she’s just sick about it. Not about having a birthday, but did I mention that she’s 60? Not that I want to keep bringing up her age ... which is 60 ... but that’s what she’s having a fit about.
It’s graduation time, and I know all of you in the Class of 2014 are eagerly awaiting the moment when you are thrust into the world on your own, ready to tackle your dreams, excited to take on the responsibility of making your own way, making your own choices, making your own mistakes, making your own bed ... or not ... it’s up to you! And, let me tell you, it’s a blast out here!
Of course, unless you’ve already gotten a job in your chosen field (snicker) you’ll be heading home to Mom and Dad’s for a while as you send out resumes and “weigh all your options.”
An alert and devoted reader (thanks, Mom!) recently sent me a short article by Lee Berk, Ph.D., MPH, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist (a big word I use quite often) at Loma Linda University. The best part of the article reads as follows:
“There is scientific evidence that laughing is good for your health. Researchers recently looked at laughter’s effect on people with diabetes. In this one-year study, 20 diabetes patients received medication for their diabetic condition … but one group also watched humorous videos for 30 minutes daily. After one year, 26 percent of the “laughter group” patients had higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, compared with 3 percent of patients in the other group. Based on this research, people who have diabetes or are at risk for the disease may benefit from … a good dose of laughter every day. To follow this advice, choose any form of humor or comedy that appeals to you (such as movies, TV shows or books) and that produces joyful laughter.”
It’s Mother’s Day today, and I am so lucky to have my mother still with me that I thought I’d dedicate a column to her ... again. I wasn’t going to because I’ve done a couple and really, what more is there to say? And then it started coming to me ... all the “more there is to say.” Like:
My mom is the laughter I hear in the night as I fall asleep, down in the living room with my Dad, clearly talking about us; she’s the wave I look for as I leave for school; she’s the hopeful smile I cling to as I mount the steps to the stage for my piano recital; and, she’s the implacable voice of censure when I’ve done something stupid ... which, honestly, I did ... a lot.
I took my dog, Kasey, to the vet today. She’s sort of a small-medium size, looks like “Benji” from the movie. Turned 13 years old on Valentine’s Day, she’s been slowing down quite a bit in the last year or so. Naturally, I first noticed this with a jovial “Join the club!” kind of response. But, today, when I lifted her onto the table to be examined, she looked at me, and my heart suddenly seized.
The look in her eyes is new; it’s different. It wasn’t her regular, “Whoa, why are we here again? I hate this place!” Her gaze is beginning to say something else these days. Waiting for her veterinarian to come in, the two of us locked eyes for a long moment, and her expression spoke so clearly it was like hearing Kasey’s voice.
Today's column is titled “Morons: Why So Many?” Now, don't get all offended -- we each have our moron moments. I know I do. (For the sake of brevity, I won't address my own stupidity today, except to say that it is occasionally stunning.)
Example 1: I subscribe to The Wall Street Journal (as well as The Herald-Sun). I went on spring break last week, and canceled the WSJ during that time. When I got home Tuesday, my neighbor brought my mail along with a pile of newspapers that had been delivered every day while I was away. I called to tell them they messed up: No problem, you’ll get full credit.
It’s Easter, and my love to you all! (No, I’m not in the bourbon, I’m on spring break … FINALLY!) In honor of this wondrous holiday, I began the following poem:
OK, I’m on a tear right now, and unless you’re interested in getting on it with me, I think you’d best put down this paper and maybe take a walk, eat a doughnut, or go shoe shopping. In fact, I’ll give you a slow ten-count to get yourself out of the line of fire ... I’m counting ... aaaand 10!
I’m in the mountains for spring break. (Most of my students are, a) in Hawaii; b) in Europe; or c) on a cruise, whereas the only way I could afford even the mountains was if I came with a friend who owns a house here. “Free” is my favorite price.)
Meanwhile, there are only nine more days, folks. Nine more days until the tax man cometh. I’m sure you knew that. I’m sure you’ve got everything organized, listed, filled-in, calculated and submitted. You probably had your H&R Block appointment weeks, or even months, ago, and are waiting for your $11,000 refund … this is a big reason you and I will never be friends. I brought all my tax stuff up here, hoping to find someone who will “do” my taxes for … well … nothing!
I don’t know who you are, but I don’t mind that you drove up to see my house for sale, since you can’t see the house from the street, and you were driving a nice BMW, so I figured you were probably not a robber or serial killer, although why can’t a serial killer drive a BMW if he wants to, it’s a free country!
Anyway, you seemed to like what you saw -- even if you haven’t made an appointment to see it yet, not that I’m pushing -- because I could see someone smiling in the car, although if you’re riding around in a BMW why wouldn’t you smile, right?
People often ask me where I “come up with” the ideas for my columns. I don’t have to “come up with” anything, because my life is naturally filled with material from the moment I get out of bed. I’m a woman, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a teacher, a dog-owner, a consumer, a driver -- combine that with the fact that I am a gal for whom the simplest things become complicated, bizarre, hilarious, dangerous and unheard-of events, and you’ll begin to get it. My life just kind of writes itself. Watch:
Last week, I covered classes for a friend who teaches high school PE. I don’t normally cover anyone in PE, because I hate to sweat, whereas sweating seems to be the goal of Physical Education classes. You know, all that heart-rate-target-zone stuff, which, please, I can’t ever get the math right anyway, so I shouldn’t be expected to, like, do it. I also can’t do the math for the “Body Mass Index,” thank God, so I can’t be blamed for not adhering to that, either.
Welcome back to Part II of “How The Threat of Horrible Pain Can Make You Skinny” -- or, how I have finally discovered the answer to fast, effective weight loss -- which I learned because I was in desperate need of avoiding the potentially horrendous pain of a knee replacement. I know you probably think I’m just a ridiculous, wussified weakling because this potentially horrendous pain scares me so much, and you think I just need to get over it and woman-up, grit my teeth and take it, and you know what? I don’t care.
Those of you who have wandered with me over the years through every diet plan, opinion, advice, success, failure, misery and raison d’etre (that’s right, I am waxing lyrical, mostly because I’m hungry) will be thrilled (or skeptical, or possibly bored) to know that I have finally found my answer. No, it will not be the answer for all of you -- not the vegetarians or vegans or fruitarians, and especially not those who don’t need to lose weight because they “have the metabolism of a hummingbird and can eat just anything I want and it NEVER affects me (giggle)!” And, to that last group, I would say firmly: Turn the page, close the computer, go out into the world and spread your joy -- we will never be friends.