Christmas Wrapping with the Cat

Are we running out of ribbon?!
Are we running out of ribbon?!

That says WRAPPING, not rapping. So, if you came here to see me sing a down and funky Christmas tune with Andre, you will be sadly disappointed. Andre can’t rap, and he also can’t wrap, but he at least tries to do the second. By tries to wrap, I mean that he likes to “kill” just about everything that is needed to wrap a present. Of course, I could just go into a room and close the door and wrap presents without a cat jumping on everything that moves, but WHERE would the challenge be? I’m pretty sure I burn about ten extra calories a minute just from moving the cat and redoing things. So, I have become an expert on this, and I would like to help you learn to wrap your presents and still be a loving kitty mama or papa.

It’s simple, really. Here’s how you wrap presents with a kitty, in 70 short steps:

  1. Take out wrapping paper
  2. Unroll paper
  3. Grab first gift
  4. Put gift down next to paper
  5. Remove cat from on top of wrapping paper
  6. Put gift on paper
  7. Take cat off of gift
  8. Cut out chunk of wrapping paper with cat teeth marks in it.
  9. Wrap gift, taping paper as you go.
  10. Notice cat fur on tape.
  11. Try to peel tape off of paper.
  12. Push cat off of package.
  13. Try to pick cat fur out of tape
  14. End up getting nail polish on the tape, too.
  15. Remove tape, ripping paper
  16. Throw used, furry tape aside
  17. Wad up paper and throw in trash.
  18. Notice cat has tape stuck on paw.
  19. Chase the cat to remove tape from paw.
  20. Tell the dog to stop chasing the cat with you.
  21. Grab cat and remove tape from cat’s paw.
  22. Go back to wrapping room.
  23. Unroll paper.
  24. Put present on paper.
  25. Cut paper.
  26. Almost stab cat with scissors after he jumps on paper.
  27. Move cat off of paper.
  28. Wrap and tape gift.
  29. Take out ribbon
  30. Remove ribbon from cat’s mouth

    I like the skinny ribbon better! I know it's in here!
    I like the skinny ribbon better! I know it’s in here!
  31. Cut bitten part of ribbon off.
  32. Get a Lysol wipe to clean cat spit off of scissors that touched ribbon.
  33. Push cat away with left foot while leaning right to tie ribbon.
  34. Wipe cat spit from ribbon.
  35. Shriek in pain after cat bites left foot.
  36. Apply alcohol and Band-aid to left foot.
  37. Hope the gift receiver is not allergic to cats
  38. Notice your foot is still bleeding.
  39. Call your husband from your cell phone even though he is downstairs.
  40. Go to the hospital to get stitches in your foot.
  41. Return from hospital with an antibiotic prescription
  42. Hobble upstairs to the wrapping room.
  43. Close the door so the cat cannot HELP.
  44. Listen to the cat beat on the door and yowl.
  45. Open the door and let the damn cat in.
  46. Call your husband on the phone again and ask for a stiff drink.
  47. Gulp down drink and grab the next present.
  48. Notice you have Christmas gift bags.
  49. Open a bag.
  50. Reach for tissue to put in bag.
  51. Notice cat is in bag.
  52. Lure cat out of bag with tissue paper.
  53. Grab wrapping paper.
  54. Grab present.
  55. Realize you never put a nametag on the first present.
  56. Unwrap first present because you forgot whom it was for.
  57. Throw first present in gift bag after removing cat again.
  58. Put tissue paper in gift bag.
  59. Remove that one wet piece of tissue.
  60. Throw wet tissue in trash.
  61. Wash hands, hoping it was only cat spit again.
  62. Get more tissue.
  63. Put tissue in bag.
  64. Call for another drink.
  65. Grab second present.
  66. Notice it is for your son.
  67. Grab roll of Santa paper.
  68. Unroll paper.
  69. Accidentally bonk cat on head with present while racing him to the paper.
  70. Move unconscious cat over and finish wrapping.
Where's that bag?
Where’s that bag?

See! It’s really not tough to get your present wrapping done and be a loving pet parent. Kitties like being involved in everything. Whoever said they just ignore you probably never had a cat. Happy Holidays from Andre and me!

Disclaimer: While this was based on a true story, Andre was never unconscious, and I never had to go to the hospital. The rest is true. Liz, there is cat spit on your present, girl.

Update: Andre passed away on January 4, 2017.  I miss him so much. 

Forget the Reaper; I Fear the Doorbell

IMG_0624I have had Don’t Fear the Reaper stuck in my head today.  Maybe it’s because it is almost Halloween, that spooky darkness and death time of the year, or maybe it’s because I see a graveyard whenever I look out my back window.  Seriously, my house backs up to a graveyard.  This is actually what made me want to buy our house.  Graveyards and Halloween (except for the trick-or-treaters) do not scare me.  I fear something far worse than ghosts and goblins — the doorbell.

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I HATE phone calls, and that I usually don’t answer the phone.  The only thing worse than a phone call is an unexpected visitor.  The sound of the doorbell ringing usually makes me jump, and here is why.

  1. I work from home.  I’m not sitting here eating bon bons and waiting for someone to visit me.  I have deadlines and I already battle constant interruptions from my four animals.  The last thing I need is another obstacle, whether it involves talking about Jehovah, or saying no to lawn care ( I have a teenager for that).  This is why I have a No Soliciting sign.  I’ve learned that lots of folks need to look up “soliciting” in the dictionary.
  2. I’m an introvert.  I can barely handle scheduled socializing.  Dropping in on me is super annoying. You might as well just parachute down my chimney.  It would have the same effect on my frazzled nerves.
  3. Again, I WORK FROM HOME. I’m in my pajamas at least half the day.  I’m not dressed for company. Don’t hate me because I’m comfortable.
  4. I have dogs.  The dogs go NUTS when the doorbell rings.  They also tend to run out and jump on the person standing on the porch when I open the door.  They give kisses, too.  Remember, the big one eats poop. This is why I need notice before someone shows up.  I need to crate these beasts.
  5. A lot of home invasion robberies begin with a doorbell ring. Here is one example. I’m not opening the door.

So, long story short, text first.  Don’t call; just text.  I need at least 24 hours notice for all visits.  Thanks.  Happy Halloween.  There will be a bucket of candy on the porch.  Feel free to take a piece.

 

 

Corey Feldman’s Gothic Meltdown

Unless you have given up all things screen and only entertain yourself with fine literature and herbal tea, you have probably heard that Corey Feldman is trying to have a music career. If you haven’t seen Corey’s “performance” from Friday’s Today Show, you need to go watch this with the sound up.  Frightening, right?

When I saw it, I stared the screen like I was having a night terror.  I thought I was awake, but surely I was just having a vivid nightmare.  The “concert series” happened during my least favorite part of the show, Billy Bush’s hour.  Billy just has all of the endearing qualities of a sandpaper tampon. I only watch this portion of Today because Tamron is usually on. On Friday, I was not only disappointed by her absence, but scarred by a “musical performance” that should have been courtesy of Lorne Michaels and the SNL gang.  Matt Lauer would not have let this nonsense happen during his hour.

I stared at a hoody- wearing 45-year-old Corey dab” like a teen kid. I turned to my husband and asked if I was hallucinating.  He said no and “1994 called. They’d like their goth industrial lifestyle back.” I spit my coffee.

I Tweeted my husband’s comment because it was hilarious.  I tagged the Today Show and Corey Feldman in my Tweet.  Then, I turned off the TV and tried to forget goth boy and his Party City costumed angles. I thought nothing of it until the next day, when I opened Twitter and saw that Corey had blocked me.  Huh?  I’m not a big influencer, just a little chubby writer with a small following.  I guess Corey blocked me because he doesn’t want the truth. He wants to do lopsided jazz hands in his gothic hoody and pretend he is a rock god. I’m surprised the people in his life have let him do this.

https://lisarpetty.com/
No Corey Tweets for me!

We all get to a point in our careers, hobbies, or delusions when we go overboard.  This is usually when our families, friends, or social services people nudge us back on track.  Where are Corey’s people?  Forfuckssake, where is Simon Cowell? He has told people who CAN sing that they sound like a caterwauling drunk wedding guests.  Certainly, Corey rates a rabies ridden cartoon bat comment.

It’s really sad that Corey is getting praise for this.  Billy Bush and his not Tamron co-host ran right out to pat him on the back and tell him he was awesome as soon as he finished what appeared to be a public relapse.  There are so many real musicians out there who try achieve success for YEARS, all without bastardizing Marilyn Manson and Victoria’s Secret.

I may start watching Fox News if this is the kind of bullshit the Today Show features.

Allies in Atheism

Of the hundreds of blogs I’ve written, my most popular pieces are Atheism 101 and Bobby Kent and My Anxious Parenting. This kind of shocks me because, for the most part, I am a humor blogger and a sometimes YA novelist.  It was even more shocking when the meme from the Atheism 101 blog was stolen the first time.  It took me all of five minutes to make it, and since I’m pretty sure only my husband and my mom actually read my blog, I didn’t think anyone would actually see it. But see it they did, which was followed by stealing it.

https://lisarpetty.com/atheism-101/
My original is on the left. Some douche canoe’s screwed up version is on the right.

The first thief took most of what I had written and created an entirely new meme, changing a couple of the entries. In my opinion, this person ruined the meme. Over the past year and a half, I got used to seeing my meme plagiarized every couple of months.  Every time I saw it, I did some research and I wrote to the person, asking them to stop using it.  If they weren’t making any money from the meme, I just sort of left things alone.  That was my line in the sand.  I didn’t want people making money from MY meme. I even created my own Café Press store to try to make money from my own meme.  Well, let’s just say that I still have my day job.  So, when I found out the Atheist Agenda was going around again and even being sold as a t-shirt on a site called Skeptical Generation, I was pissed!

I went into rabid bloodhound mode and hunted down the creator of the t-shirt. I sent threatening emails with words like plagiarism and lawsuit.  I figured I would just be ignored like I always had in the past, but I wasn’t. I got an email from an 18-year-old woman named Marilyn, chastising me for picking on a teenager. Then, she asked if I wanted her to remove the t-shirt from her site or just give me credit for the design.  She was giving me options!

After I read her email, I felt kind of bad.  I was really harsh on her.  Also, the English professor in me knew that this was a teachable moment – for both of us. I wanted to teach Marilyn that she can’t just take someone else’s ideas and turn them into cash.  She taught me that there are actual human beings on the other side of the computer screen.  Of course, I KNEW this already, but like a lot of people, I can be quite terse in writing because I’m not seeing someone’s face in front of me.  Being the mom of a 19-year-old son, my maternal instincts kicked in. When I talked to my son about the situation, he told me that people see “popular memes” as kind of public property.  I was flattered that my meme was considered popular and I kind of understood where Marilyn was coming from.

I think all creative folks just want credit.  I mean sure, enough money to pay the bills is nice, too, but I have a cushy day job and a good life.  I gave up actually making a living from writing long ago.  So, I thought about it and asked her to put a link to my blog under the shirt.  I didn’t ask her for a percentage of the sales or anything because she is a young person starting a business, and I have plenty of everything.  I’m just not a greedy person.

I honestly didn’t think she would actually put my link with the t-shirt.  After all, I had never met Marilyn. For all I knew, she could be a 53-year-old fuzzy knuckled man in Detroit who makes a living from selling pirated movies and stolen memes.  I was wrong. Marilyn had the link to my blog posted with the t-shirt in under two hours.  She also shared the meme on her Instagram and linked to my blog there.  For a couple of days, I had A LOT of readers, not just my husband and my mom.

I have emailed back and forth with Marilyn since then, and I asked her how she felt when she received my email.  She said she was terrified and “literally shat bricks.” She had just started watching Orange is the New Black and thought she was going to end up in jail. Poor girl! I can’t believe I caused someone that much anxiety.  I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks my whole life.  I would never want to cause anyone that much hell.

I’m really glad I got to know Marilyn, and I’m really proud of her.  It is not easy to be an atheist in this very religious world.  I know this from personal experience.  To see a young person really put herself out there like she does, makes me happy.  So, if you are looking for an Atheist Agenda shirt or other funny shirts, check out Skeptical Generation.  Honestly, Marilyn’s shirts are way better looking than the one’s I half-assed designed and never sold. You can also follow Marilyn on Instagram, where she and her co-admins post a lot of atheist humor.

http://www.skepticalgeneration.com/
The shirts on Skeptical Generation are cool.

 

Seven Reasons I will Never Be President

Like a lot of you, I am really HATING this election.  Usually, whenever there is a presidential election there is one candidate you really like and will definitely vote for.  Then, there is the other person that you don’t like that much but could still deal with as president.  This election is DIFFERENT.  So different.  There is one person with a lot of experience who is qualified to be the president, but has a few scandals, either real or false, to tarnish her reputation.  On the other side, there is a Cheeto-dusted, twice divorced, corporate racist ass who uses inflammatory language that will likely get us nuked.  We should probably all just stay intoxicated until November 9, and possibly for the four years after that.

I’m not here to tell you who to vote for. If you took eighth-grade Civics and did not fall asleep in History class, you probably know who is going to get your vote.  I’m also not here to write a big analysis of the candidates because that would require a lot of research and interfere with cat-cuddling and reading time.  Really, I admire all of the candidates running for president, even Jill Stein, because running for president is HARD.  And if the campaign is this hard, I can only imagine how impossible the actual job is.  Since I am a non-competitive, anxious hermit, I will never run for president, and here are my reasons.

I like being comfortable.

I’m not putting on a bra and traveling all over the country in uncomfortable shoes and a cloud of hairspray. Something tells me that yoga pants, a t-shirt, bathrobe, and slippers will never take the place of monochromatic suits on the campaign trail.  This makes me sad.

I’m an atheist. 

Not believing in the invisible man in the sky is not popular with American voters. Presidents and candidates must at least pretend to love the baby Jesus, his virgin mama, his daddy God, and his step-dad Joseph.  If I were remotely honest about my belief system, some whack job would use a literal interpretation of a holy book as a reason to stone me to death with bullets. No thanks. I will just stay on my couch and avoid death.

I change my mind.

It is considered dishonest if a candidate changes his or her mind. They are just supposed to maintain the same beliefs no matter what new information they receive.  If I were running, the opposition would post a side by side video of me saying “I don’t like chocolate” with one of me eating a truffle in some small candy shop in a small town in Ohio.  My explanation of “but this is DARK chocolate not crappy Hershey’s stuff” would not be acceptable.  I would be labeled anti-Hershey and thus not a real Murican.  I used to love white wine; now, I think red wine is the only palatable fermented grape drink.  This, too, would work against me.

I have IBS. 

And it’s stress induced.  As soon as a debate would start, I would run for the bathroom.  If I actually won, I would conduct all really serious meetings from the presidential throne.  I would have to live on rice and broth during the campaign.  During any international crisis, I would probably have to be hooked up to IV’s.  The good news is that I would finally achieve my goal weight.

I’m a germaphobe.

I’m not shaking anyone’s hand or holding anyone’s pukey baby unless it is through a lot of plastic.  It’s probably frowned upon to wear rubber gloves and a hazmat suit to campaign events. I’m guessing a full-on diving mask would be even more unacceptable.  Forget it.  I’m not risking catching the flu just so I can lead the free world.

I’m an introvert. 

We are known for being exhausted by crowds of people.  We also aren’t big talkers. So, the whole giving speeches thing would be tough for me as there would be people and words. So many words.  I would just want to post blogs instead of actually speak.  I don’t think the American people would go for that.  Also, I need a lot of alone time.  So, having Secret Service crammed up my ass for months on end would give me anxiety attacks.

I use colorful language.

By colorful, I mean I say fuck a lot.  To a lot of people out there, saying fuck is similar to murdering kittens and beating toddlers.  Because “bad” language is what we should get our spanx up our cracks about, not the fact that there are almost daily shootings in this here good ole U.S.A.

Well, that about sums it up. There is really no political career in my future.  I won’t be running for president, or congress, or even book club president.  What about you? Have you ever thought about running for president? Leave me a comment and tell me about it.

 

 

Anxiety on the Yoga Mat

I love doing yoga. It is really the only group class I will do at the gym.  The others are full of loud club music and too much yelling about being pumped.  Yoga is a quiet relaxing class.  Well, it is SUPPOSED to be relaxing, but as my fellow anxiety sufferers know, NOTHING is relaxing when your brain is constantly bullying you.  I’m supposed to be focusing on my breathing and relaxing into stretches.  Instead, I’m fielding a never-ending string of disruptive thoughts.  Here they are in no particular order.

Quiet the mind? I can never quiet my mind. OMG! I’m doing yoga wrong.

I wonder if I can catch a virus from this strap or the blocks. I should just buy my own so I don’t need to touch other people’s germs.

I don’t want to put my feet or hands off my mat onto the floor. People walk with shoes on the floor.  There are a lot of germs on shoes.

I should probably clean this mat with Lysol.

I should clean my hands and feet with Lysol, too.

I could get athlete’s foot.

They I would have scaly alligator feet.

Why didn’t Disney have fences and alligator signs? That poor little boy.

Why didn’t all of these know-it-all parents say something to them that night? A simple “Hey, there might be gators in there” could have saved him.

I wonder if prices at the Grand Floridian will go down.  $600 a night to have a gator snatch your kid is a bit ridiculous.

My stomach hurts.

Man, I have no core strength at all.  I have GOT to do more planks at home.

I should have had coffee before coming here.  I just want to get to savasana already.

I can barely hear her.  Are my hearing aids working? What if I’m in the wrong pose?

If I’m in the wrong pose, she will correct me.  I hate it when yoga teachers touch me. I jump.

Seriously, another downward dog?  I think I’m going to barf. I knew I should not have eaten before coming here.

What if I have to fart?

And it’s a really smelly fart, like a hardboiled egg fart?

Oh no. Did I eat eggs today?

What if I have to poop?

Do I just grab my mat and run out of the room?

If I brought my yoga mat into the bathroom here I would have to set it on fire to get rid of the invisible urine and fecal germs.

Why didn’t I leave my socks on? I will probably catch athlete’s foot for sure.

I hate the big mirror.  I look like an oompa loompa.

Why are my arms so freckled?

I think I need to wear more sunscreen.

What if I get skin cancer?

Maybe I should just use spray tan.

But then I might turn orange.

I hope Donald Trump does not win.

I swear it will be World War Three if he wins.

He’s like a Nazi.

Who are these monkeys who are actually voting for him?

Did they not take history in school?

Our education system has gone downhill.

Oh my God; she is grabbing me and moving my hips around.  I feel violated.

I will have to remember to do this right next time. I’m not doing yoga right.

How can anyone relax with all of these thoughts?  Maybe I should have a drink before yoga class.  How about you guys?  Anyone out there who takes yoga without letting your mind wander into darkness? Leave me a comment.  Let’s wave our crazy flags.

Yoga Anxiety https://lisarpetty.com/
Be quiet, mind!!

Equations with the Stubbly Good Witch

“Think about what things mean.” This was my advice to my son as I drove him to his little slice of hell — school.  That particular day would be more hellish than usual as he had both his Geometry and Science final exams.   Like me, he would almost rather have a colonoscopy, including the dreaded prep, than be forced to learn math or science.  I felt for him, so I offered him the words of advice that got me through high school math.  Mr. Scott said them almost daily.  Whenever he would write a super long equation on the board and look out at sea of confused dog looks, he would simply say, “Think about what things mean.”  This simple philosophy has gotten me through a lot more than math.

 Mr. Scott was my favorite teacher even though he taught my most hated subject – math.  I had him for Algebra in ninth grade, and again for Integrated Math my senior year.  As a teacher, he was the perfect combination of firm, professional, and funny.  He knew his subject, but he didn’t just stand there and drone on and on about variables and the order of operations.  No.  He always kept our attention, even if he had to wear a dress.

 Yes, I said a dress.  No. Mr. Scott was not a drag queen, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  He was a Vietnam veteran with a permanent five o’clock shadow who usually dressed like a gas station attendant.  I’m serious.  He had a bunch of gas station attendant shirts with his name, Frank, on the front.  They were from all different stations.  I used to sit there and try to imagine where he got them.  He couldn’t have just ordered them on Amazon because it was 1987 and Amazon, or the Internet, or laptops, or iPhones, didn’t exist yet.  No.  He would have had to work at all of the gas stations to get a shirt. Either that or he toured the country finding gas station attendants named Frank who needed some extra cash.  No matter how he got them, I wasn’t sure why he wore them.  Maybe it was to remind himself that no matter how horrible high school students were, teaching was still better than pumping gas.  (Young people, gas station attendants used to pump people’s gas for them.) Whatever the reason, he wore them almost daily, except, as I mentioned, when he wore dresses.

 One particular Halloween (See, I told you he wasn’t a drag queen.), I remember walking into his class on the second floor of the old 600 hall at South Broward High School and almost walking right into his magic wand.  That’s right.  Mr. Scott, Frank from the Shell station, was dressed as Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.  I couldn’t help but laugh all the way to my seat.  He just stood there and looked at me like, “What?”  I took my seat expecting an easy day of not really doing math.  I was wrong. 

 Mr. Scott began class by walking carefully across the classroom in his sparkly shoes and shiny dress, and pointing to the board with his wand.  He called on me, of course, and said, “Lisa, what is the quadratic formula?”  I looked at him like he was nuts, but he insisted that I say the formula out loud while he grabbed a piece of chalk with his wandless hand.  I’m happy to say that I got it ALMOST right.  I forgot to say “the opposite of” before I said “B.”  I’m sure at age 41 I still know MOST of the quadratic formula because of this experience. 

I never grew to love math, but I sure remembered it better after watching a man with a five o’clock shadow in a dress teach it.  Over the years, Mr. Scott donned many costumes, some of them dresses and some of them more masculine, like when he was Vince Fontaine in the school’s production of Grease.  No matter how he was dressed, he always took the time to slow down and show us HOW to think about what things mean.

 I kept that in my head during the SAT and I actually scored higher in Math than in English.  (Note: I ended up becoming an English professor.) I kept thinking about what things meant through college, marriage, caring for a baby, a divorce, a new marriage, moving across the country, and a host of other experiences.  Basically, whenever I was getting frustrated or taking things too seriously, I would stop and think about what things really meant.   Usually, they weren’t as bad, or as serious as I thought, once I really THOUGHT about them.  Sometimes, all I needed to do was put on a sparkly dress and laugh.  That always helps.  Thank you, Mr. Scott, wherever you are.

 

The Colonoscopy Scale

“This shouldn’t be too bad.” The dental assistant said as she put a bib on me while the dentist prepared his first syringe full of whatever they use to numb you these days.  I was yelled at by a dentist, a “friend” not my personal dentist, when I called it Novocain.  Apparently Novocain went out with Tab Cola and non-cable television.

“It’ll be fine. It’s not like it’s a colonoscopy,” I replied.  We both laughed and the dentist looked a bit uncomfortable, and kind of like he was going to tell me that he doesn’t work at THAT end of the body.

The name of this "prep" is funny, if you know what a "prep" does.
The name of this “prep” is funny, if you know what a “prep” does.

“No prep,” I said, and everyone laughed uncomfortably.  Leave it to me to make poop jokes in the dentist’s chair.  I’m always making people cringe.  It’s my best skill.

As the dentist began giving me the first of what ended up being 4 not-Novocain injections (Lidocain, I’m guessing), I had to remind myself that this was NOT as bad as a colonoscopy.  I could handle this, right? I had to ask myself that again, when I could feel the drill after 3 shots.  This is when shot number 4 happened.  Still, no prep and no twilight anesthesia to deal with, though that can be fun for whoever is in the recovery room with me.  The twilight anesthesia, not the prep.  The prep is not fun for anyone, especially anyone silly enough to be in the same room with the person who is prepping. Please see the second to the last (or penultimate, as fancy people say) paragraph from this blog:  Twilight anesthesia experience.

Ever since I had my first colonoscopy, way back when I was 21, before the Internet and flat-screen TV’s, I’ve been comparing things in terms of better than or worse than a colonoscopy.

Um, people who are lucky enough, or phonetically challenged enough to NOT know what a colonoscopy is, read this before you continue.  Be sure to read more than the first two sentences.  Get to that “prep” part so you can really get an understanding for my comparison scale.

I usually state the comparison by saying something like, “I’d rather have a colonoscopy than go to a family reunion.”  This is pretty much true as I am not really close with most of my family.  Most things are pretty clear-cut, like this one.  I would always rather have a colonoscopy than do anything that required me to be outdoors for extended periods of time, and I would rather go to the dentist than have a colonoscopy.

Some things, on the other hand, are not so black and white.  Flying (on planes, not my broom) varies.  I’m a nervous flyer.  So, medical procedures and flying cause me the same level of anxiety, depending on the length of the flight and where I am going.  Shorter flights over land are better than colonoscopies because they are over quicker and have no prep.  Long flights, and any flights taking place over the ocean, is much worse than a colonoscopy.  I would truly rather do the whole prep thing, and blabber in the recovery room, than imagine crashing into the ocean and surviving long enough to drown in a plane.  The ocean is softer, so you obviously survive longer than if you just crashed in to the good, dry, hard earth.

OK.  I have given myself sweaty palms now.

If you haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, you are really missing out on a great comparison tool, and a lot of good stories that would make your friends cringe .  You can use whatever tools you have though. If you have had a root canal, use that as a comparison tool.  Anything surgical will do, really.  Let me know what your “colonoscopy” scale is in the comment area.

This may come as a shock to those of you who don’t know me very well, or do not find me amusing, but I spent ten years doing stand-up comedy.  I was a comedian, or a stand-up comic, not a  “comedienne” as some people liked to call me while patting themselves on the back for being so knowledgeable.  Unless you are someone who refers to your female doctor as a doctorette, and I hope she does many painful medical tests on you if you do, there is really no reason to call someone with ovaries a comedienne.

Comedy was more of a hobby than a career as I stuck to the state of Florida and ventured into Georgia once.  As a parent, I didn’t feel that the life on the road necessary for a full-fledged comedy career would be appropriate.  I could not look my son in the eye and say, “Mommy would rather entertain drunk people than watch you grow.”  I’ve met many comedians who have done just that, and more.  Knowing that my son is more important than any career is just one life lesson that I learned from doing comedy.  Here are the rest:

  • You truly can’t judge a book by its cover.

Some comedians try to judge an audience by the age of the people, or the race or nationality.  They are the Archie Bunkers of comedy.  I just told my jokes.  They were real jokes that everyone could relate to.  I’ve seen many older crowds laugh at vibrator jokes.  A lot of comedians like to complain about a “rough audience.”  As Jerry Seinfeld used to say, “It’s not the crowd; it’s you.”  When we bring our preconceived notions, we bomb, on stage and in life.

  • Not everyone will like you.

Sad but true, no matter what you do, there are some people who just won’t like you.    I’ve had hundreds of successful shows, but two very bad ones.   Both bad shows occurred in more rural cities.  I learned that I am a “city folk” kind of comedian.  I didn’t bomb because the rural crowds were too rough, or bad.  I bombed because I just couldn’t reach them.  Like other mortals, I don’t achieve common ground with everyone.

  • Nothing will take you down faster than fear.

I’ve done many open-mike nights, both as a beginner and as a more experienced comic.  I always cringed when a new comic would get up on stage and tell the audience about his stage fright. No! No! No!  Fear is not funny, nor useful.  To be successful, nervous energy must be used to, well, energize.  Showing fear turns you into a wildebeest in the center of a pride of hungry lions.

  • There is always room for compassion.

I will never forget this one drunk woman at a Friday night show.  She was the worst heckler that I had ever had.  She would not shut up, not for me or the other comics.  I hammered her with everything in my STFU arsenal.  Still talking.  When the headliner was on stage, at the end of the show, she finally got quiet.  That’s because she was in the bathroom barfing.  My first thought was, “serves her right.”  Then, I remembered how horrible it is to puke and I thought about what a rough night she had ahead of her.  So, when she came out of the bathroom, I took her to a table in the back and got her ginger ale and crackers.  The other comics thought I was nuts.  She’s probably a perfectly nice person when she’s sober, and she had probably had a horrible week at work or something.  We all screw up.

  • You don’t have to be sexy to be successful.

Comedians come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Some are gorgeous and some, well, not so much.  Being funny is not about being sexy.  I’ve only known one comedian who was both.  One.  Being successful at comedy depends more on how quick you can think than how skinny you can be.

  • It’s good to know what is going on the world.

Comedians make fun of the world around them, so, clearly, they must actually pay attention to the world outside of their homes.  By world, I mean everything not just Snooki’s hair.  In the real world, it is also good to speak intelligently about things that matter.

I think everyone should do comedy, at least once.  There are so many things to learn, and there is no better feeling than being DONE with a public speaking gig.  After 10 years, public speaking doesn’t bother me at all and it is most people’s number one fear.  Do you believe that?  How could anyone’s number one fear be speaking into a microphone to a crowd of people who are there to listen to you?  My number one fear is frogs.  They are slimy, they boing at you and they do not listen.

Not so Shocking Gators in Disney

I was born and raised in Florida.  I have seen alligators on golf courses and in parking lots.  I know they exist.  I have been to Disney more times than I have been to Red Lobster.  I never stayed at the Grand Floridian because I am not made of cash, but I have walked near the Seven Seas Lagoon, and I have ridden boats on it.  I never saw an alligator on Disney property, and I never expected to see one there.  I was in Disney, where magic is real and all animals are animatronic. The only alligator I saw during any of my trips to the land of magic was in the Peter Pan ride.

I’m sick to my stomach over little Lane’s alligator related death.  I can’t imagine the horror he felt or the horror that his parents will live with forever. Of course, hard hearted idiots out there are already blaming the parents.  People are saying it is “common sense” to know to keep your kids away from a lake in Florida, especially one with No Swimming signs.  Common sense is not so common and the kid wasn’t swimming.  He was walking in the water, or wading.  Common sense is made up of your experiences, the things you learn during life.  Lane’s family is from Nebraska.  Alligators are not a part of a Nebraska resident’s common sense.

Honestly, I don’t think common sense would have kicked in for me either.  Have you seen the beach area at the Grand Floridian?  Shocker – it looks just like a beach.  There’s beautiful white sand, beach chairs, and a regular looking shore line.  Yes, there are No Swimming signs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t touch the water, or be near it.  Why wouldn’t kids want to build sand castles next on a nice little shore like this?   Why wouldn’t parents let them? There were no alligator warning signs.  No Swimming isn’t equivalent to saying, “There are alligators in the lake.”  I think that would have gotten everyone’s attention.

And Disney should have had signs like this because they KNEW there was a problem.  Management was aware that some guests were feeding alligators.  Employees even requested that a fence be built.  Disney even has its own “wildlife-management team” in place to remove nuisance gators.  In spite of all of this, the folks at Disney still showed movies on the beach at night.  They were encouraging families to hang out on a beach next to a gator filled lake at night, alligator meal time.  Why are we shocked that an alligator, a wild predator, took a small kid standing next to its habitat during feeding time?

As with any tragic event, we have the thoughts and prayers people.  Wow, what a lovely and totally useless sentiment.  “Thoughts and prayers.” I see this over and over on social media.  So, just whispering to yourself in your home or church or wherever, or thinking nice thoughts is going to bring back the little boy? Is it going to take away the parents’ sadness and guilt? What exactly do thoughts and prayers actually do? Why do people feel obligated to say this? Either be quiet or just speak the truth.  Say things like:

“I’m sorry you are going through this.”

“If I could do anything to change it, I would.”

“I feel helpless and I don’t know what to say.”

Seriously, if I were in this situation and someone offered “thoughts and prayers” I would go on a jack-slapping spree.

Maybe, instead of thinking and praying, we can do real things like work to prevent this from happening to another family.  Call Disney, write them, picket them, fly a banner over the Magic Kingdom, write snarky blogs, call your congressman. Do whatever you can.  Demand that fences go up. Heck, maybe we can even bring Donald Trump to Florida and have him build a wall around the Seven Seas Lagoon.  This should never happen again. If there is a known problem we need to work on an actual solution, not just sit around and talk about how rare it is and hope it doesn’t happen again.

Yes, I know. Alligators were there first.  Blah, blah, blah. That doesn’t mean we can just let them eat pets and children.  Maybe we need to start actually thinking of ways to protect everyone, alligators included, by maintaining a healthy separation.  Those five gators in the Seven Seas Lagoon would not have been killed if there had been a fence or even an honest sign about WHY there was no swimming allowed.  The sign should have a picture of an alligator with big teeth, just to show our friends who don’t speak English what the real deal is. Until then, I will enjoy all of my Disney magic in California, where there are no gators.  The humidity is also a lot lower.

It doesn't LOOK like a lake of gators. Photo from Disneydining.com
It doesn’t LOOK like a lake of gators.
Photo from Disneydining.com