I’m a serial offender. I love doing pranks on April Fool’s Day. This isn’t the first time I’ve pranked people at my work, and I suppose it won’t be the last.
One year, my GM called me in and asked me to do a special April Fool’s Day issue of the company newsletter. I put on the front page that we were relocating to Arkansas. I figured everyone would take one look, snort or possibly guffaw, and say:
“Yeah, right. Good one.”
Instead, people were calling their spouses, checking real estate listings, and looking up the performance of the local school district. I heard that someone wound up in tears.
That was when I realized that different professions have their own special style of humor, jokes that fly and jokes that don’t fly.
For instance, security guards like jokes about eating your lunch or helping themselves to a donut. Finance people are game for jokes in the classic question/answer format, especially if they involve numerals, like “What did zero say to eight?” Engineers like t-shirts on which the joke is a mathematical formula.
Not everyone is prepared for satire.
My most recent prank didn’t work out too well. I filked the Tom Lehrer song “We Will All Go Together When We Go,” changing the lyrics to be about COVID-19. “We Will All Cough Together When We Cough.” The very next day, unbeknownst to me, I contracted the virus. What I learned was: Do not taunt coronavirus.
This time, I thought, I’m new here. I haven’t had my first work anniversary yet. Either this will be a great way to make friends and make an impression with my dazzling leadership and presentation skills...
Or it will turn into a massive fireball and I’ll get written up and jeopardize my chances of ever getting a security clearance.
At least I can’t get deported. *shrug*
I took the liberty of inviting everyone in my subdivision to an event that I called the Emerging Topics Colloquium. I claimed that it was sponsored by the Amalgamated Cold Fusion Corporation, which people are already referring to as ACFC.
I figured that the invitation would speak for itself. I carefully avoided using the phrase “April Fool’s Day” at any point.
Then I hand-selected everyone I knew well enough to suppose that they 1. had a sense of humor, 2. would be willing to give a public presentation, and 3. could keep a straight face while spouting pure pseudoscience.
I told my boss. The first thing he said was “Be careful.”
It’s true, there’s a fine line between hosting a morale-boosting lunchtime event and being seen to be endorsing pseudoscience under the company name.
I didn’t ask anybody to vet their material in advance. For all I knew, each individual presentation would be its own special menace, from proselytizing for a cult, to advertising for multi-level-marketed “nutritional” “supplements,” to attacking a rival’s research.
There are some lessons here in a bunch of things. Comedy. Ideation. Social trust.
What I did was to leave the invitation as wide-open as possible.
I was thinking maybe you could do a 1-5 minute presentation. Can you talk about pseudoscience with a straight face?
I made some pretty good guesses. One of the people, someone I barely know, made several slides complete with animation. If this person ever asks me for a favor I will drop everything and make it happen.
A few people either turned down my pitch or begged off at the last minute, saying they were too busy. They all attended and I bet they’re kicking themselves now.
YOU COULD HAVE BEEN A LEGEND
Part of what differentiates a comedian from an average person is that we don’t think about ourselves, we think about how funny the idea is. Wait until you hear this one! The explosive laughter that will be generated is worth the price of personal emotional risk.
Laughter is like a magic spell. When people laugh, they bond. They’ve shared something that makes them feel like family. Perhaps better than family. The joke has the capacity to expand, including more people and more material.
In fact I guarantee that after my pseudoscience event, the people who attended are going to be cracking jokes about man-sized shrimp and the Bermuda Rhombus for weeks, possibly years.
Something else about my event is that it involved more than comedy. It was a demonstration of the ideation process. What these two disciplines have in common is the premise of YES, AND. Take one idea and build on it. All ideas welcome.
One of the best things about the colloquium was the Q&A between topics. Not only the presenters, but also the audience, were absolutely killing it in keeping a straight face. Meanwhile the chat was lit up and emoticons occasionally floated into view, laughing faces and applause hands.
Another great thing was that almost by magic, some of the presentations referred to one another. We had two separate ‘Flat Earth’ illustrations, for instance. Since this was the inaugural event, it can be anticipated that next year’s topics will hark back to some of these inside jokes.
For of course there’s going to be a next year. My fondest hope is that this event will continue to expand in scale, perhaps one day incorporating props and costumes.
Even better, what if one of the pseudoscience ideas actually sparked a legit idea in someone? What if one of these ridiculous fake inventions transmogrified into a real one? What if some patents came out of all this?
I could see my silly little idea turning into something quite funny, an industry-wide invitational where perhaps some of the brightest minds in engineering and aerospace competed to crack each other up.
Here I am at the center of it all, blundering buffoon, willing to risk it all for a prank and a good laugh. That’s how I prank myself time after time.
Suddenly the entire attic slid off her house. She was standing right there, watching it happen. She did what anyone would do - she leapt into the air and landed ten feet away.
Noelle has been dividing her time between chewing cardboard, as one does, and standing on one foot.
We haven’t rebuilt her fort since mid-October, and we hadn’t been paying much attention to its structural integrity. Let’s just say it wouldn’t have passed inspection. Code violations included holes in exterior walls, excavations of entire sections of floor, and an unpermitted tenant-installed skylight.
What a parrot beak is able to do with corrugated cardboard is to gradually excise the inner layer, leaving only a thin veneer that looks like a regular box on the outside. Sometimes all that is really left is a strap of packing tape.
The exterior lists slightly in sections, but otherwise appears sound, a sort of Potemkin village.
When the attic fell off, the fort was reduced to its original three stories, but was otherwise intact.
Noelle is no dummy. She has been known to gnaw off a basket handle in segments, leaving one intact coil so that it doesn’t break and she can continue to perch on it. She can untie knots. She undid the latch on her travel cage and let herself out. She figured out how to operate my sewing snips to try to file her beak. I’m pretty sure that if I let her, she could open a pop can.
Therefore, it was unsurprising when, returned to her bridge, she refused to go back into the fort.
This is the proper reaction when regarding a condemned building!
We were on the clock and not in any kind of position to start rebuilding a new fort, especially since we have been debating some modifications to the original blueprint. With hours left of our workday, we needed to entertain that busy little beak.
The only thing for it was to coax her back into the remains of the fort, like a group of truant teenagers exploring an abandoned mental hospital.
The fort in its various iterations has been a part of our flock since the early days of the shutdown. Just like the gameboard for Clue, it has named areas. There’s the erstwhile attic, the atrium, the kissing booth, and the watchtower where she goes to derp.
(Derping is when she stands around with her beak hooked over the edge of a box, making her look like some kind of buck-toothed lollygagger).
The area where I set my nervous bird was the porch, where she often sits, as if waiting to welcome guests to her Air Bird and Beak.
An anxious parrot is a comical creature. She twitches and jumps and flaps her wings and leans farther to the side than would seem physically possible. She cranes her neck around, adding nearly two inches to its visible length, and bobs her head up and down. Her eyes become round as saucers. You can almost hear the spooky soundtrack playing.
We returned to work.
Within minutes, once she realized that there was no need for an exorcism or silver bullets, she was back to business, scooting around the remaining rooms of the bird fort and continuing to shred everything within reach.
It’s been days, and Noelle is continuing on with her cardboard-rending hobby the way that only a saliva-free creature could do.
Bright as she is, she does not seem to have made the connection between her habit and the gradual destruction of her play area.
I identify with this a little bit?
But also, the great thing about her is that she operates in constant and perfect faith that all her needs will be satisfied, usually on demand.
There’s this little thing she does, where she’ll be walking back and forth on the back of the couch, and suddenly she will decide that she wants to descend to the cushions. One would think that a flighted avian unit could simply flap twice and land wherever she liked. Instead, she grabs some piping with her beak and lowers herself off the edge, scaly toes dangling in mid-air, in certain knowledge that someone will rush to her aid, offer her a hand, and carry her down.
She’s learned awfully quickly that she has to work harder to get our attention since the advent of the noise-canceling headphones. She also has to get her message across without a lot of guessing games. This is how we started to get such a clear “good morning” out of her when she informs us that it’s time to be escorted out to the porch.
“Good morning” has proven such a useful phrase for her that she’s been testing it out to see what else it can get her. Not so much a greeting as a “garçon, coffee.”
She has separate and distinct signals for getting fresh parrot kibble vs vegetable parings, turning on the space heater, or being invited into a video meeting.
There are differences between a parrot and other members of the household. She is smarter than a dog and more affectionate than a cat, yet filthier than an entire kindergarten of human children. (You might think your kids are messy, and maybe they also fling fruit on your windows, but do they gnaw chunks out of your baseboards or bite through your headphone cords?)
The great thing about this particular bird is that she lives in this abundant, shameless space. She doesn’t wait or sneak around to steal food the way a dog will. She just marches up and starts eating it. She doesn’t beg for things, she insists on them. Yet she also has her little rituals for saying thank you, like grooming your fingers when you bring her something like a bowl of fresh water. She kisses everyone and everything, from her toys and her swing to the wall itself.
Fortunately she kisses a lot of stuff before commencing to tear it to pieces, which sometimes gives us a chance to intervene.
This weekend we’ll most likely rebuild the bird fort, bigger and better than ever before. It’s hard not to just give her anything she asks for. At least one little soul in this shared experience we apes call “the pandemic” is living her best life, waited on beak and talon.
(apologies to Tom Lehrer)
[to the tune of “We Will All Go Together When We Go”]
When you go to the hospital
From Coronavirus transmittal
You will know COVID-19 has come to you
Though you doubted the pandemic
Now you wish for something chemic-
al, a vaccine or a cure to see you through
(You wish they’d hurry)
No more face masks, no more tissue
Gee, your family will miss you
You left the house and then you touched your face
For if the cough that sprays on you
Gets your friends and neighbors too
In three months we’ll lose half the human race
And we will all cough together when we cough
For we could not afford to take time off
Might have been some deterrence
Now we will all cough together when we cough
We will all hack together when we hack
There’ll be too much morbidity to track
We will spread our pneumonia
From New York to California
All our Netflix marathons will fade to black
Oh, we will all wheeze together when we wheeze
There’ll be no ambulance despite our pleas
We will trade “see you laters”
From our matching respirators
No inheritors will claim our legacies
And we will all plague together when we plague
We’ll have left our last wishes rather vague
We will cause a complication
With the city’s sanitation
Let no one judge our hygiene but The Hague
Oh we will all ill together when we ill
No research funding, no vaccine, no pill
Just sing out a good nighty
When you catch C O V I D
In the afterlife you can skip the bill
Oh we will all phlegm together when we phlegm
There will no longer be an us and them
We will spread our contagion
To each Hoosier, Yank, and Cajun
We’ll unite in global chaos and mayhem
We will all go together when we go
Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco
When we all become infectious
And the hospitals reject us
Yes we all will go together
When we all go together
Yes, we all will go together when we go
Oh, it’s happening. It’s going down. I’ve got my Halloween costume and my bags of candy and my full game-day agenda.
What, for the kids? What kids?
Oh no no no. This candy is for ME.
Candy isn’t good for little kids. Why would I give it to THEM?
I look forward to this day all year long. It’s the ultimate cheat day. I’ve spent enough years waiting around all night with twenty dollars’ worth of candy only to have two kids knock on my door. If they want candy they can go to the fire station down the street.
One year I waited around to hand out candy. I wore a plain black cotton dress and I took a strand of my roommate’s fake cobwebs and stretched it into a shawl. Some kids knocked on my door and I gave them each a handful of candy.
“You’re scaring us,” said one little boy.
What, in this? I don’t even have scary makeup on. You should see what I wear on laundry day. Or is this about having to talk to a childless woman?
Hey, it’s not my fault you had kids, don’t blame me. I wasn’t there.
Anyway. Back to my candy.
I really don’t eat candy most of the time. Usually it’s too sweet, and a lot of it is just gross. For instance, I am not a fan of gummy candy or Swedish fish or any of that nonsense. Chocolate doesn’t impress me and I don’t like sour flavors. I also tend to hoard a bag and want to nibble at it over months, but at that point even peppermint candies have started to dissolve. Either it goes in the freezer or it goes in your mouth, right?
Planning a single day for major candy consumption requires forethought and planning. Over time, I’ve probably spent more brainpower thinking about my Halloween candy than I did in planning for my marathon.
For instance, I’m not very well going to be mixing peanut butter cups with fruity candy, am I? There are rules about these things.
Last year, I spent a month accumulating and organizing my candy. Then I ate only a small part of it on Halloween. I still had some of it six months later and my husband made fun of me.
I’ve decided that instead I should just splurge and choose one flavor. Eat as much as I want on Halloween, and then I’m done.
People tend to associate “willpower” and “self-control” with this kind of behavior. That’s inaccurate. First of all, I have no willpower. That’s the entire point of this exercise. Second, it’s not self-control if you just don’t like something. I’m sure everyone can easily think of something they don’t want to eat.
Cold greasy fries
I eat oatmeal every day for breakfast and I get “eww gross” commentary about that all the time. Basically anything with dietary fiber goes on most people’s yucky list, and that’s why 95% of Americans don’t get enough of it.
Ask yourself, does it take willpower or self-control to not eat things you think are gross? No it does not.
And you know what’s gross to me?
That’s my name for the feeling I get the day after I eat a bunch of candy. Actually sometimes it’s the same day.
A sour, stale, thoroughly non-delicious feeling.
Halloween mouth is the reason I don’t go crazy eating candy all the time. I have a vivid memory of the consequences that I refresh every year.
There are similar reasons why I don’t eat certain other foods. Fast food french fries tear up the roof of my mouth. I’ve cut my lip on corn chips. Popcorn bothers my gums. Pop Tarts, on the other hand, are simply nasty. Some foods I have thought were gross beyond words since childhood. Even as a kid I didn't like syrup, marshmallows, or popsicles.
I’m allowed not to eat things, especially when those things are treats that other people are delighted to have. Someone else always drinks “my” beer on race day, because why would I want to punish myself after all that training by drinking a beer?? Of all things???
Yes, I like candy, sometimes. It’s available to me literally twenty-four hours a day, every single day. It’s small and portable and a lot of people give it away for free, like at our veterinary office. If you plan your route you can get free candy every day and you don’t even have to say Trick or Treat, or ask anyone to smell your feet, although I suppose they might at the podiatrist.
For these reasons, I don’t need to feel scarcity around candy. Just like any other snack or dessert food, if I wake up at 4 AM with a craving, I can walk across the street and satisfy it. I can order it and have it delivered. I could keep it in my kitchen all the time, although that isn’t really fair to my husband.
A lot of people will eat whatever is in front of them, and eat it until it’s gone. I’m not like that because my memory is too good. I remember that while I *have* eaten an entire large pizza, or a family-size bag of chips, or a pound of candy, I didn't like how it felt afterward. Why do that when it’s actually better to have just the right amount? It’s not like pizza is canceled after tomorrow.
That’s why on Halloween I eat all the candy I want. I know at a certain point I’m going to go “You know what? Bleah” and seal the bag. As a child I was rationed to two pieces of Halloween candy a day, and that made it last until Easter, when, guess what? More candy!
My fun and holiday indulgences are not limited by availability, by cost, by tradition or by social pressure. I could literally have a piece of candy in my mouth every waking moment, and nobody would say anything, unless maybe I happened to be meeting the Pope. It is completely up to me to decide what I think is fun and how I like to celebrate. My limiting factor here is Halloween mouth. I respect my natural limits, and that allows me do whatever I want, all the time.
I couldn't make it through this book. By the halfway mark, I had to put it away so that I could make my own art! Then, of course, I went right back to reading, because I couldn't get enough of Danielle Krysa. I loved this book so much that I'm completely freaking out. Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk, and mine is too.
Anyone who is anyone will get something out of this book. You don't have to be an artist. This needs to be said, because without the disclaimer, some of us will feel that we aren't allowed to read it. That's for Real Artists (TM). Not the likes of me. My constant yearning to look at art, read art books, buy or touch art supplies and materials, and hang out with Real Artists (TM) in no way indicates that there might be a shadow artist inside of me. Nuh-uh.
Every time I ever tried to sign up for an art class, it was full. I haven't had any formal training in visual arts or design since grade school. Perhaps this has helped me, because I've always thought my bad art was hilarious. I used to have a lovely roommate who had an MFA and had sold illustrations to national magazines. I showed her a sketch once and she literally laughed until she cried. I knew my drawing was naive and untutored, and I also knew that I have a certain gift for comedy, so this was a great result! I "can't" draw, just as I "can't" sing, but that doesn't stop me from drawing or singing when I feel the urge. If anything, it's a great way to troll my critics. Oh, does this bother you?? Perhaps I'll do it LOUDER!
(That, by the way, is the philosophy of my parrot when she feels she isn't getting enough attention).
Do what you want. It's harmless. Nobody but you knows a dang thing about your personal style. You are the authority on your own gift. Initiative comes from inside you, and the art wants to get out and live its life. Just let it out. You don't have to show it to anyone, or share it with anyone, or try to make money from it, and contrariwise, you have all the authority you need to put it on a billboard, declaim it from a megaphone, or put a ten million dollar price tag on it. There will always be a critic, just as there will always be a barking dog. If you can get criticized by random strangers just for existing within their field of awareness, might as well bring some of your work along, too.
I made this piece on my iPad with my index finger. I've never used it for that purpose before. (Either the device or the finger). I've also never done a work in color. It's a portrait from memory of my little cuppycake, who was unable to pose for me because she sleeps twelve hours a night. Noelie. I'm going to show it to her, and if past behavior is any indication, she'll kiss it with her beak. It's a work born of inspiration and true love, and it sucks, but I find it charming and I'll most likely do more. If you don't like it, blame it on Danielle Krysa and her partner-in-crime, illustrator Martha Rich.
Please let this book be a movie
Please let this book be a movie
Please let this book be a movie
Picture Jesse Eisenberg hiring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to live with him for a month and train him like a Navy SEAL. Now imagine that it's a true story.
This is one of the funniest books I've read all year. I was begging my husband to read it after the third chapter.
Jesse Itzler is a multi-millionaire married to a billionaire. He used to rap under the name Jesse James, if that rings a bell, although his wealth comes from various sources. His wife invented Spanx. They live a comfortable life, evidently a little too comfortable, and when Itzler sees the man he refers to only as SEAL, he knows he has to find out more about him. They're at an ultramarathon. One would think that an ultra runner would be tough enough already.
He is now, at any rate.
He somehow convinces this trueborn Spartan warrior to move into his ritzy Manhattan apartment, knowing nothing about him or his background. What follows is perhaps the best buddy story ever.
The workouts described in Living with a SEAL are unbelievable, scary, and hilarious. Anyone who enjoys exercise will be intrigued yet alarmed. Anyone who does not enjoy exercise can derive some comfort from sitting on a couch, reading this, and not being all sweaty. You might laugh hard enough to work your abs, though. I did.
I was standing in the laundromat one afternoon, folding my clothes. Another woman had brought her daughter and another little girl, both about five years old. They took a fancy to me, as little kids often do when they see mommy-aged ladies without children. The little girls asked me questions, in between running around the machines. One came back and patted me on the behind.
“THAT’S a big butt you got there.”
“That wasn’t very nice,” I said. Her mom piped up. “What did she say?”
I told her.
She snorted. She didn’t even pretend to disagree.
I was a size 8 at the time, nowhere near my top weight, and I was only 20. I hadn’t been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or thyroid disease yet. I had no idea at the time how long a journey lay ahead of me. I knew I carried my weight in my lower half, a body type referred to as “pear-shaped,” and that that was supposedly healthier than “apple-shaped,” which corresponded with higher rates of heart disease. Other than that, I didn’t give it much thought. Having a big butt was sort of like being a car with a bumper, or a duck with tail feathers. Big butt, so what?
As the years went by, I learned affectionate terminology for this area. Booty. Junk in the trunk. Badonkadonk. Moneymaker (appropriate when you're always working your butt off...).
Every now and then, though, I would catch a glimpse of it, following me everywhere I went like some stalker. There it would be, photobombing me. There it would be, pushing its way into the dressing room where I went to try on clothes. There it would be, snickering at me when I left again to find the next size up. I remember one night when I tried on 35 different pairs of pants, trying to find one that simultaneously fit my waist, hips, butt, thighs, and short legs.
Now that I’m thin, 90% of clothes in my size fit properly. Who knew?
I started to make more money. This gave me more options in life, and that included clothing. I have always been a tightwad, and I started contemplating whether anything good might come of upgrading my wardrobe. Maybe better outfits would lead to a promotion. I was single and lonely, and perhaps adapting to a certain ‘look’ might help me meet an eligible gentleman. I felt an undefined dissatisfaction when I looked at my reflection in the changing room.
It occurred to me that what I wanted wasn’t new pants. I wanted a new BUTT.
I could spend any amount of my hard-earned money on higher-end fashions from higher-end stores. I could hire a personal shopper or wardrobe consultant to give me a makeover. I could buy some compression garments and try to squeeze myself into a different shape, although those tended to bulge above the knee, which needs a separate name because it’s upside-down from a muffin top. None of these options was going to give me what I really wanted, which was a caboose that didn’t look like a sack of potatoes.
How much of the beauty and fashion industry would still exist if all women felt total body pride?
I don’t color my hair – I like my tinsel. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t get professional manicures or pedicures. I don’t get anything waxed. I don’t have a dermatologist. I don’t wear high heels. Not only do I not wear Spanx, they don’t even make them in my size. I don’t have any store credit cards. I don’t “shop.” Other people can do what they want, and spend what they want, but personally, I don’t feel the need. When I walk down the street, I hold my head up high, throw my shoulders back, and shake that thang. Take your hats off, ladies and gentlemen; what you see before you is a marathon runner.
The thing about having a nice butt is that it works in every situation. It’s reliable. This is a butt that can get me up a 6,000-foot elevation gain. This is a butt that can get me over a wall obstacle. This butt has climbed a rope, jumped over open flame, and scuttled its way under barbed wire. It even fit through the dog door one keyless night. It’s a very capable set of buttocks.
The other interesting thing about my new butt is that I tend to catch my husband staring at it. Whatever you might say about marriage and long-term love, having a mega-fine posterior is not a hindrance.
I have stretch marks, and I always will. They start at my knee and work their way up my inner thighs, my hips, and my butt. They’re not red or purple anymore. Now they look a bit like sparkly silver lightning bolts. I don’t have a problem with this. They’re like the action lines in a comic book, indicating all the super-powers resident in my lower half. I’m proud of these silver lightning bolts because they’re proof of how far I’ve come, from chronic pain and fatigue to adventure racing and backpacking the world’s beauty spots. If you have a problem with my stretch marks, I will use my newfound lower body strength to kick you into orbit.
I didn’t really do it on purpose, of course. If I’d known the magic formula for having a nice butt when I was in my teens or 20s, I wouldn’t have cared. I would have thought I was above such concerns. Besides, I never looked at my own butt. How could I, when I was always sitting on it? Now it’s more like a consolation prize for being over 40. It’s hilarious to see young men check me out and then realize that I’m older than their moms. This butt of mine is the result of years of running and clean nutrition. It’s merely one symptom of an overall lifestyle that includes kicking serious ass as well as owning one.
Spike heard that his sister got to do a guest post about the philosophy of a parrot. Everyone knows that dogs are better than birds. Dogs have been man's best friend for at least 15,000 years, and parrots aren't even domesticated. Every dog has his day, and here is Spike's worldly wisdom.
Wag your tail, even if your tail is just a nub.
Wake up early and chase your tail before breakfast.
Drink lots and lots of water.
There is never a bad time for a nap.
Go for a walk every day, and if you can't, just jump three to five feet straight up until you've had enough.
Every time someone puts food or water in your dish, rush straight outside and do a couple of laps around the yard. Do it again when your sister gets her dishes filled just to be on the safe side.
When you chase your tail, make sure to stop and go the other way or you'll turn into a corkscrew.
Greet people effusively every time they come home.
You can hear everything in the world if you listen hard enough.
Gender isn't everything. I'm an N for Neuter and Sissy is a U for Undetermined. Defy categories.
There are over two hundred breeds of dogs, and that means at least one for everyone!
Bark at the mailman or he might get inside.
Ball. BALL. BALL!
Vigilance! Do a perimeter check of the yard and each room every day.
Ask nicely and you might get a belly rub.
Don't leave perfectly good food on the floor.
Conserve water and don't bathe unless ordered.
Get your shots.
Roll in the grass.
Every now and then, run with your leash off.
Carry your ID everywhere you go.
It's good to get back to the garden and get your paws in some nicely turned soil.
Nice dogs usually have nice humans.
I don't know. Am I a good boy?
Chocolate is actually bad for you.
Insects are high in protein.
Snuggle. Snuggle in groups.
Stuffed animals have an expiration date.
If you want to make new friends, bring them a ball and put it in their lap.
Appreciate delightful fragrances, or any kind of fragrance, really.
Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?
If you're good enough, you might get a cookie.
Noelie is an African Gray Parrot. She's just had her eighteenth hatch day. She'd like to share some of her worldly wisdom.
She was born and she also hatched. She's entered this world two different ways, and she sees things we don't see. Hatching out of an egg takes a lot of work. Have you ever spent that long doing anything that difficult?
Sleep twelve hours a night. It will give you a sweet disposition and a glossy red tail. Nothing interesting happens after the sun goes down, anyway.
Eat your vegetables, if you're lucky enough to get them. Zucchini! Kale! Green beans! Collard greens! Chard! Cucumber! Cabbage! Cauliflower! Broccoli! Bell pepper! LETTUCE!
Hang upside down at least ten percent of every day.
Stressed out? Chew on a block of wood, punch a bell with your face, or shred something.
Say "WHEW!" and pump your fist.
Start a hobby, such as chewing shoelaces, chewing wicker, or chewing library books.
Gratitude is happiness. Kiss your friends. Kiss the dog. Kiss babies. Kiss your toys. Kiss your water bowl. Kiss your foot. Kiss the wall.
Go outside and enjoy the garden whenever you can.
Look at the sky. There might be another bird up there, or an airplane. We live in a 360-degree world and you should take the time to notice all of it.
Eat until you're satisfied, and then throw the rest at the wall.
Never miss an opportunity to play on a swing.
Note to self: get more paracord.
Take time to eat the roses.
You may walk slowly and run crooked, but if you can stand on one foot for an hour and lift your foot to your head, let them laugh.
Grooming is a top priority. Every feather, every day. Chew your foot scales until they are presentable.
A world with SHOWER TIME is a perfect world.
Make new friends. They might be willing to scratch your head.
Watermelon keeps your tail red.
It's never too late to learn a foreign language, such as Sparrow or Starling.
About ten percent of the people who meet you may find you intimidating or scary. Don't mind them; it's their loss.
Music is everything, everything. Sing when you feel like it, and if anyone complains, sing louder!
Meowing is funny.
Plan to live a very long life in case you actually do. What if you lived to be 119? I might!
They're not looking at you, they're looking at me. Because I'm GORGEOUS, darling.
[Warning: this post contains a few curse words].
The word ‘idiot’ is my pet peeve. I don’t get called an idiot very often, although it has happened, in spite of the fact that I carry my Mensa card in my wallet. It’s not about me. I don’t like hearing people calling other people idiots. It’s a sign of a particular way of thinking that is particularly unproductive.
Let’s do a thought experiment.
Someone is an idiot. Then what? What is your request? What is your desired course of action? Do you want this person put in the stocks? Are “idiots” supposed to wear a special t-shirt or have their driver’s licenses revoked? Are you simply trying to warn other people to stay away from this alleged idiot? Are the people you are telling about the idiot running any risk of encountering this person, or was it merely a passing encounter? Do you want someone to reimburse you for the time you spent thinking about the idiot in question?
Someone is not actually an idiot. Then what? Is your idiot detector malfunctioning? Have you been bamboozled by a master of disguise? Could it be that the “idiot” is actually a highly intelligent, effective person and you aren’t clever enough to realize that you are in fact in the presence of greatness?
Someone is an idiot, but you are, too, sometimes. The only answer for this debacle is gladiatorial combat.
Does ‘idiot’ have a clinical meaning? I’m a firm believer in the concept that Words Mean Things, and I like to be precise. I’m currently at work on a thesis parsing the difference between a dumbass, a dumbshit, and a dumbfuck. It’s a hot topic in the field of linguistics. Theory would indicate that the grammatically permissible options of ‘dumbhole’ and ‘dumbbag’ lack sufficient punch and would only qualify as insults through backformation. Anyway, back to idiots. An ‘idiot’ is a type of person who suffers from low intelligence, acts in a self-defeating or counterproductive way, or says or does stupid things.
Hmm. Maybe I am an idiot. I do and say stupid things every day!
Technically I do stupid things on accident, and say stupid things on purpose, except for when I don’t. I’m not scared. Stupid things happen when you leave your comfort zone sometimes. Experience has taught me that the lessons I learn through stupid mistakes are permanent, while the lessons I read or see tend to get forgotten and fall by the wayside. Knowledge is fleeting; insight is forever.
I fell up a flight of stairs in front of a group of people once. Well, I’ve done that more than once. This particular time, I was walking and reading a book at the same time, and I fell because I wasn’t looking where I was going. It was really stupid. I didn’t get hurt, though (or quit doing it), and several years later, technology caught up to me. I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks while I walked instead. It was this new habit that helped convince me I could train for a marathon without getting bored. It’s not idiocy, it’s a bias toward action!
I’m not defensive about doing and saying stupid things because that’s how I learn new skills and languages. It’s the gauntlet that must be passed on the way to mastery. You can’t get to 100 without starting at zero. Everyone was born into this world a naked, clueless baby, too dumb to tie a pair of shoes or spell its own name. Babies are also terrible drivers. They can’t figure out which way to turn a screwdriver. They don’t clean up after themselves, they never apologize, they have no manners whatsoever, they’re hopeless at writing succinct email, and they’re totally unproductive. Talk about someone who needs constant micromanaging. Babies, I tell ya. I wouldn’t hire one.
That’s the thing. If a person truly has low intelligence, where is the blame? I haven’t seen someone mock a mentally handicapped person since middle school. That’s about the lowest, meanest thing anyone can do. What are they supposed to do about it? Snap their fingers and get smarter? How very, very unfair. Someone who is below average intelligence deserves compassion and the occasional helping hand. Someone who hassles that person instead deserves a kick in the ass.
Or does he? Could it be that someone who ridicules others doesn’t know any better? Maybe that person has always felt rejected and insulted, and doesn’t know of any other way to behave. Maybe that rude person is on a fruitless quest for respect and doesn’t understand how dignity works. Maybe that person has never seen compassion in action, or has, but didn’t understand what was happening. Adding contempt to contempt doesn’t seem like it has ever done much good.
Most of us know better than that. I assume we’re only using the pejorative term ‘idiot’ when we believe the target subject is of at least average intelligence and is misusing this native gift. This is when we reach the part of the definition that includes acting in a self-defeating or counterproductive way. Again, are we assuming this person is doing it on purpose? I deliberately popped myself in the eye with an umbrella handle because that’s my idea of a good time? I sat in grease at the movie theater because I saw it in the seat and thought, “Ooh, what larks!”? I walked around with static-cling nylon panties hanging out of my sweater all day because I was hoping someone would take my picture for the yearbook? I threw my keys in the dumpster because it’s part of my CrossFit WOD? I could go on; I did state clearly that I do stupid things all the time, and I also said I like to be precise. Do I do counterproductive things? Like procrastinating? Never! DEATH FIRST! I never do counterproductive things, and neither does anyone else. That’s why gaming is a $90+ billion dollar industry and snack food is over $370 billion.
Self-disclosure: I’m a life coach. It’s my vocation to work with people who struggle with things that come easily to others. My people are all not just above average intelligence, but in the top tier. That’s because intelligence has nothing whatsoever to do with success. Intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with friendship, romance, body image, or lots of life’s prizes. My people tend to have some issues with organization, something that never came naturally to me either, and they also have a lot of problems with shame. They feel like failures, like their efforts never amount to anything. Whenever we encounter insults, trolling, sarcasm, snarkiness, or even pointless one-star product reviews, we think, “It’s true, we are all swimming in an endless sea of criticism and contempt.”
It is true. We are.
The main reason not to talk about idiots, other than the fact that it’s cruel and leads to a heartless, cold world, is that it wastes time. Why would I spend my time thinking about people who are doing dumb things, much less talking about them? Don’t I have better things to do? Well, it depends on the nature of the dumb thing. A lot of idiotic things are hilarious to watch and some are a lot of fun to try. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where there was no room to be silly. Unfortunately, it’s too late; I already live in a world where there is no upper limit to criticism, mockery, ridicule, or public shaming. That’s why I’ll never stop doing and saying stupid things. It’s the best way to always do what I want and live without fear. It’s also a great way to help other people not to feel alone when they occasionally screw up or get unintended results.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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