Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Mom's Letter of Laughing


Thank you so much for your letter. It couldn't have come at a better time. Last night, unbeknownst to me, my son was playing video games and laughing in his room (I thought he was resting after dinner).

I, on the other hand, was downstairs and while cleaning up felt this sudden need to laugh. For some odd reason I sat down on the computer and Googled images of Pediatric Nephrology, and lo and behold, came up the little "pisser" (pardon my low-brow humor here) from Brussels (the kids and I saw this little guy a few years ago).

While I'm not one for low-brow humor, this delightful little statue somehow lit me up from the inside out and I got the laugh I needed. I even posted it on my Facebook wall before going up to check on my son. I then thought of an article I wanted to write on laughing when you want to cry.

Here's the image... it's a hoot! 

The famous Manneken-Pis is an emblem of the rebellious spirit of the City of Brussels. A well-known fountain since the 15th century, the statue grew in importance and towards the end of the 17th century, being a survivor of the bombardment of Brussels - "a precious good" enjoing "a ceaselessly growing glory," this little pisser forever marked his triumph over adversity.

Anyhow, I went upstairs and there he was, laughing, giggling, and playing a motorcycle game on his Xbox. This game happens to be one that we have both enjoyed playing.

Since my accident, I have had difficulty playing video games due to my equilibrium imbalance. Needless to say, I rarely get to play games with him which has made us both sad. He, because it's his way of expressing himself, me, because I love gaming and most importantly, I love sharing special moments with my son.

He asked me if I wanted to play and reminded me of how much fun we had before and how this game didn't bother my balance.  He also told me that the game was making him laugh and was apparently cognizant of how important it was to laugh when you're not feeling well. He didn't say those words exactly, but it's an understanding in our household given my beliefs on the healing power of humor and active explorations into the subject matter.

I accepted his invitation, went and checked on my daughter to ensure she was feeling good, and returned and sat down for the rest of the evening, playing games with him.

We laughed and shouted, and "oohhhed" and "aahhhed" as we crashed and triumphed both.

Then, we began talking about other games and started searching on Xbox for a car racing game. We found one and downloaded it. Then, while downloading, he realized he had a demo and we started it right up.

We were like two little kids blowing off some much needed steam. 

Having only slept 2-3 hours in the last 2-3 days, I called it quits and we decided to get ready for bed.

"That was a good idea to play games, right Mom?"

"It really was," I responded.

For the first time since his diagnosis, we relaxed. He put his head on my shoulder, threw his little arm around me, and we fell asleep, me thinking everything would turn out fine.

Then this morning, I made my tea and got online to write my article.  Before doing so, I decided to check Facebook, and there was your note...


My daughter was very sick when she was a baby. We were told she would not make it to her 2nd birthday. Long.. story. They said if she somehow did make it past 2 she would be on I.V. feedings , that her growth would be stunted. and on and on....She is now 25 years old, in perfect health and to top it off she is 6 ft 3 . 

During that awful time in the hospital I only ever told myself one thing. She is perfect. Every time the Doctors came in with x rays and the laws of what they thought was wrong...I was polite but in my mind I thought...that's what you think...but I know she is perfect and will be perfect. If you need a little mom cheering...I am here for you. Kids have AMAZING ability to heal if we only let them. 

Wishing you peace and faith...a deep knowing of the power of your son. 

It couldn't have come at a better time, began my reply...

The Story Behind the Story

In the midst of packing to leave back to Paris, my son became ill and we went to the doctor. We discovered a serious kidney problem and life came to a screeching halt. On top of that, it was Memorial Day Weekend, and everyone was gone except for a handfull of 12-year old doctors at our local ER.

From Wednesday afternoon to Tuesday morning (Monday was a holiday), I researched, reached out to friends and family and colleagues for answers, prayers, good energie and good vibes, and ran around town searching for anything and everything I could do to support his kidney function.

We decided against admitting him to the hospital due to all the illnesses going around. Given his weakened state, I thought he'd be safer at home and more comfortable. Monitoring him closely, giving him plenty of fluids and supplements, and focusing all positive energie on his healing, he went from barely able to stand up to laughing and giggling and bouncing down the stairs.

I have given myself a crash course about the kidneys and what can go wrong. Rather than keeping things to myself, as I did with my cancer, I let everyone know what we were facing. Talk about public displays of living.

After being told it would take weeks to get him into a Pediatric Nephrologist given the sheer magnitude of people Nephrologists service in our little mountain town, I decided to send out some letters about what was happening with him, including his picture, and had them on every pediatric nephrologist's desk within a 200-mile radius. The moment they walked through the door Tuesday morning they'd have our plea for help.

We don't have all of our answers yet, but we finally got an appointment with the pediatric nephrologist for this afternoon. It was after speaking with the insurance company and filling out 10 pages of paperwork for the appointment that I felt the need to Google the image of Pediatric Nephrology.

Today, I know that my son will summon Manneken Pi's rebellious spirit and defeat whatever is happening to his kidneys. We're walking through the door with the deep knowing that he's "perfect" and that this is just our ruling out anything serious. I have a feeling he'll be better in time for our flight, and that when we touch down in Paris, a deep sigh of relief and renewed gratitude for life will mark the beginning of our next adventure.

Me with my beautiful children
Bo Erik and Shennendoah
Paris, 2009

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Happy Face Life

I was born happy into this world 

My parents said that the earth moved the day I arrived
and took on a distinctively happy glow

I grew up swinging in the park
surrounded by other happy friends
who enjoyed sharing my big smiles

As a kid, I rocked happy

This is my sister
She is my best friend
I respect her "girl" stuff
She respects my "guy" stuff
And we both like traveling, music, movies & technology

She gives me great advice on hairstyles
so I don't look "dorky" 

This is our cat, Calie
She's a little crazy
but we like her that way! 

Once I got a little sick
I looked like this...
(but I never lost my smile)

One day, my parents put me in a fancy school
Where they tried to put me in a box

Fortunately, my parents are like Indiana Jones in their work
So, we left and went back to our adventures...

Our adventures have taken us to many exotic lands

Where we have met many fun and interesting people

I make friends easily
Happy is contagious!

My friends call me
The Captain of Happy

Happy is my heritage

When I grow old
I will enjoy thinking about all my happy moments
and tell my grandkids many happy stories
and even make new ones

My name is Happy
And these are my many Happy Faces


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sociology of Humor

Humor is a pretty much a social phenomenon. Jokes and other humorous expressions are a form of communication that is shared from one person to the next. These expressions are socially and culturally influenced, and generally reflective of a specific time and place. The topics and themes people joke about are usually focused on social, cultural and moral order of a society or community. 

Sociology, when it emerged as a discipline during the nineteenth century, was overwhelmingly devoted to the study of social problems, great transformations, and less than humorous matters such as race and ethnicity, political conflict, social resistance, and gender inequalities. 

Philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists and forklorists have systematically addressed the meanings of humor and its many functions, but sociological interest in humor didn't truly emerge until after the 1970s - with the exception of Arthur Asa Berger's pioneering work in the subject.  

In Berger's quintessential work, An Anatomy of Humor, he examines the less than humorous matters discussed above, each with their own comic dimension, as well as laughter in terms of its benefits to both our physical and mental health. He discerns a multiplicity of ironies that are intrinsic to the analysis of humor, uncovering the complexities and ambiguities of cartoon and other social communications.

"I don't think anyone is born funny. What happens is that some people learn how to be funny, for one reason or another. People develop their capacities to be funny in order to cope with problems, to help socialize with others, to earn a living, and to deal with anxieties and hostility, among other things. But we have to learn how to be funny just as we have to learn most everything else. And we usually learn how to be funny by a process of trial and error." 

This is how I feel much of the time trying to explore, analyze, and process the concept of humor. Rather than limit my writing, which would be a far easier task, to the analytical review of humor, I have instead, perhaps to my own detriment at times, chosen to dabble - to try to learn how to be funny. 

Why, you ask? 

I think it would be a far difficult thing to accurately analyze a subject without some firsthand knowledge of it. Unfortunately, not everything I write is funny, of course, I'm not always trying to be funny. Some days, I simply don't "feel" like being funny. Some days I simply write to get things "off my chest" so that I can loosen up more easily and get back to that "funny" space where I'm more willing to take chances, to push limits, and mix mediums or concepts in a way that a new humorous color emerges. 

Walter Scott said, "All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education." 

So, for the individual who wrote to me complaining that my blog was a waste of his time

I hope this post clears things up as to why I 
"bother writing at all"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Steampunk World Fair

The Journal of Steampunking proudly presents its annual Steampunk World Fair.  

Final preparations are being made for thought travel back to the 1873 World Fair in Vienna. Steampunkers from all over the globe plan to thought travel back to Austria for the 5th World Fair whereby we will be Steampunking the exhibits. 

First stop on our thought travel journey: J. N. Menhard's workshop. 

His Gothic-style high- and bas relief-carved pipe with its Imperial arms, Austrian double eagle, and etched rotunda offers Steampunkers an opportunity to add a little Steampunky flavor to the otherwise somber event. 

In our Steampunk bag of tricks, we have turquoise and amber beads and a diamond that will perfectly adorn the piece if nestled inside the crown high atop the wind cover. 

The goal: Convince Menhard to mix mediums in what might otherwise be just an ordinary - albeit extraordinarily carved - meerschaum pipe. 


The Steampunk thought travel team is being orchestrated by none other than Lady Steampunk, that notorious thought traveling Steampunker responsible for Steampunking many of history's greatest objects. 

Her retrovations include the now infamous hand known as "Thing" from The Addams Family

Star Wars' collection of droids (R2D2 and C3P0)...

Darth Vader's helmet...

and the little minions from Despicable Me

What are Steampunk thought experiments? Steampunk thought experiments are imagined experiences in which the goal is to Steampunk an object from history.  They are usually performed ahead of real experiences in this temporal space otherwise known as "reality".  

Just as scientists have discovered that our physical universe can be seen as either particles or waves, depending on your perspective or thought inclination, so too can the universe be seen as a Cosmic Steampunk House whereby all objects are considered "fair game" for Steampunkers. 

Contact your local Steampunk Chapter for more information on this and other Steampunk thought travel experiments. 

Brought to you by Gyroscopic Navigation Footwear, the popular choice in Steampunk thought travel footwear... simply punch in the coordinates into the Destination Meter and the Gyroscopic Navigator plots it. Throttle on and the propellers blast you forward on a hover cushion of steam. Constructed of leather, silk'hemp fabrics with brass fitting and a rubber gum sole. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cats are from Saturn, Dogs are from Pluto Part 2

Why Is Running Away So Tempting? 

Cats are from Saturn, Dogs are from Pluto Part 1 addressed basic communication with the opposite pet, reviewing the basic needs of each species of both cats and dogs. In this segment, I'd like to discuss why running away is so tempting. 

Unlike in Farmville, real animals can run away.  Running away is almost always associated with the pet's needs not being met. Perhaps there is a friendly Tom cat across the street egging Fluffy on, coercing her to get out and chase her tail with the other free kitties, eat on the road, and sing Karaoke at night along the hip, happening fence between your yard and your neighbor's yard. Running away in this sense starts with a friendship, strengthening with each Karaoke night signing session. 

The life of a pet can sometimes be difficult. With no real means of true pet-master communication, pets can feel extremely disillusioned about their lives. When they find other pets with which to run, sing and climb trees, the idea of running away becomes a powerful magnet. Sooner or later, you find yourself posting signs up on neighborhood poles and trees in search of your beloved Fluffy. 

Very often the owner will find Fluffy down the street hanging out with a notorious gang of Stray Cats, wondering how in the world could Fluffy hang out with them? She's so persnickety and they're so, well, uncultured. That's because the attraction is emotional. Your Fluffy doesn't care if the neighborhood cats are ill-bred, she just wants to play and have fun. She wants to feel important. 

What Fluffy really likes isn't singing and hanging out with the gang as much as the attention she gets and the ability to forget about empty water dishes, forgotten grooming sessions, and beds that haven't been laundered timely. Fluffy needs love and when she doesn't get it, she's more willing to join the chorus. Don't let kitty join the chorus, keep her happy, fed, and content and you'll not find yourself hanging up missing Fluffy signs around the neighborhood.