Laughing at Others is Fun

It’s rather easy to make me laugh in person. Absurd humor, clever sarcasm, and goofy facial expressions can have me in stitches with little effort. But take all of these things and put them on scripted television shows or movies, and I’m suddenly less impressed by them. Certainly, I’m entertained. Often, I’m amused enough to smile or let out a quiet exhale of air. (“Heh.”) But it’s not common for me to truly laugh out loud at pre-written antics.

That said, there are always exceptions.

Certain moments of certain television shows catch me off guard just enough that my mouth throws out a chuckle. Or maybe it’s a chortle? What’s the difference between a chuckle and a chortle? Seems like a chortle would be deeper but also jollier, as though Santa himself had inhabited my diaphragm.

Don’t worry, kids. Santa doesn’t live in my esophagus. Yet.

Some television scenes have the ability to make me laugh not only the first time I see them, but for infinite views afterward. These excellent moments deserve my acknowledgment, and by golly, they’re going to get it!

I give you, in no particular order

The Chortle Awards!

(P.S. – Clicking on the name of the show will take you to the Youtube clip of the scene, if there’s one available)

Leslie meeting Michelle Obama

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Parks and Recreation – Season 6, Episode 21

Passionate bureaucrat Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) fervently admires all female leaders, and is in so much shock when she meets FLOTUS, that she physically backs away at first. The wonder on her face is quickly accompanied by lots of nervous shouting, a cringeworthy high-five, and a vow to agree with Obama on “all things, throughout history and until the end of time, forever.” It’s endearingly funny, and yet also pretty relatable for those of us who are socially strange.

Fire drill

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The Office – Season 5, Episode 14

In an episode ironically named “Stress Relief,” dedicated paper salesman Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) sets a small fire designed to teach his coworkers a lesson about the importance of office safety. Not realizing that the (contained) fire isn’t a true threat, the employees quickly find themselves trapped, and calamity ensues. Favorite moment: the terror-stricken look on Creed’s face when a pair of legs suddenly fall through the ceiling tiles.

FAJITAS!

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Friends – Season 10, Episode 2 

Pretty much anytime Ross (David Schwimmer) mentally unravels, it’s fun to watch. But this episode is especially hilarious. The poor guy is clearly upset about seeing his long-time love kissing his best friend, but rather than acknowledging his feelings and discussing them, he continues to insist that he’s fine. We’ve all been there (says the therapist), but Ross takes it to new heights with a squeaky voice, erratic behaviors, and bad love poems. “V is for this very surprising turn of events – which I’m still fine with, by the way.”

Egg

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Arrested Development – Season 2  (no clip available)

This one’s not a particular scene so much as a running gag throughout an entire season. Sixteen-year-old George Michael (Michael Cera) dates a girl named Ann, who is thought of by George Michael’s entire family as being dull in both appearance and personality. His father (Jason Bateman) especially dislikes the girlfriend, and not only frequently forgets that his son is dating her, but also calls her a number of silly nicknames, such as Egg, Yam, and Bland. As I’m typing this, I’m aware that it doesn’t sound that funny. But you have to trust me on this! Every time Jason Bateman says “WHO?,” you’ll laugh.

The most beautiful butterfly

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 That 70s Show – Season 7, Episode 4 (no clip available)

 Red (Kurtwood Smith) is disappointed in his son, Eric (Topher Grace), who struggles to find his way after graduating from high school. Eric’s mother, Kitty, (Debra Jo Rupp) begs Red to offer his son a job at his muffler shop, but Red quickly argues that Eric has no skills. Kitty comes to her son’s defense by proclaiming, “just today, he caught the most beautiful butterfly!” The line is so random, and Kitty says it with such pride and awe, that it cracks me up. A moment later, Red says he’ll keep Eric in mind if a giant butterfly attacks his shop, and poor Kitty reluctantly admits that her son wouldn’t be able to handle a giant one. The exchange is quick, but fun. I only wish I could find a clip of it for you!

 Fire! Fire! Help me!

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IT Crowd – Series 1, Episode 2

While the building fire in The Office had people scrambling for their lives, a fire in the office of IT Crowd doesn’t ruffle many feathers. (Come to think of it, these reactions are probably indicative of the difference between American and British personalities in general J.) In this scene, Moss (Richard Ayoade) reacts to the fire with a small amount of startle (when he finally notices it), and then takes an agonizing amount of time reading the fire extinguisher before attempting to (unsuccessfully) use it. When he’s also unable to phone emergency services, Moss decides to send a comically cordial email to the fire department. His awkwardness in the face of a crisis is endearing.

He’s fine, he sends his love

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Roseanne – Season 5, Episode 16

I grew up watching Roseanne and still enjoy catching reruns now and then. Every time this episode plays, I find myself putting down my phone or other distractions so that I don’t miss this scene. After Roseanne’s father dies, she and her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe) must notify their loved ones with the news. On the phone with an elderly (and apparently hard-of-hearing) relative, a grief-stricken Jackie is forced to shout the news over and over again, and grows increasingly more frustrated.  The humor is dark, I know. But the sense that you’re not supposed to laugh at something makes it infinitely funnier!

But…it’s my ass

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Bob’s Burgers – Season 1, Episode 7

 Hoping to make a little extra money, the matriarch of the Belcher family decides to turn their home into a bed and breakfast for tourists. As a result, Bob and Linda are forced to share a bed with their three “unique” children, who wreak havoc in their own ways. Tina thrashes wildly and ponders the sleep habits of horses, while Louise insists on staying awake to exact revenge on the bed and breakfast customers. However, Gene is the REAL star of this episode, by bringing snacks into the bed and putting his feet down Bob’s underwear because “it’s warm in there!”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip of the scene I’m referring to, but this one’s from the same episode!

Honey, that werewolf needs help!

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt –Season 1, Episode 8  

 The character of Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess) makes this show. Between his flair for drama and quick wit, everything he says or does is funny to me, so it was tough to choose only one scene. But I had to go with the werewolf. Titus dresses in an elaborate costume for his work at a horror-themed restaurant, and then discovers that he’s treated better as a werewolf than as a black man. Strangers give him friendly greetings and offer their help when he’s in distress, and no one, no one, confuses him for Samuel L. Jackson. The absurdity of watching a man casually live life as a werewolf, combined with the sharp commentary on racism, makes this episode quite chortle-worthy.

* Side note: Just for kicks, I decided to look back over my list and see if I could come up with any themes for what I tend to find the funniest. Turns out, between all the fires, deaths, and breakdowns, it seems the things I find most amusing involve other people’s misfortunes.

Says the therapist.

So, what do y’all think of my list? Are any of your favorite scenes represented here? What scenes (from these shows) do you think should have been included?

 

How to be Self-Employed

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I’ve (almost) completed my first week of being in private practice, and I have to say – so far, so good! I was worried I’d lose my mind from too much freedom (like when I was unemployed a few years ago), but I’ve actually been somewhat busy, which is fantastic. There’s definitely been more downtime than what I’m used to, though.

Hopefully, I’ll soon have a full caseload of clients and my day will naturally be more active. But until that happens, here’s what a typical day has been looking like for me:

7:30 – Wake up and curse the morning’s arrival, just like every other day

7:30-8:29 – Put on make up, run a rake through my unruly hair, and get dressed

8:30 – Decide it’s time to leave my apartment to begin my 45-minute commute to the office

8:30 – Remind myself that I’m too anal about scheduling and time, because I always think that I need to leave super early in case there’s a car accident or earthquake or avalanche on the way,  and then there’s never any kind of disaster, so I arrive to my destination way too early, and end up feeling  bored as I wait for my first client to show, and then have remind myself for the millionth time that I could be a little more laid-back. I can leave in a few minutes.

8:30 – Leave for work.

10:00-10:50 – Intake session. As my client is leaving, she mentions she’s headed to a popular kolache joint down the street from the office

10:50-11:00 – Daydream about kolaches

11:00-12:00 – Finish completing paperwork and updating my calendars. Feel I deserve a kolache as a reward.

12:01 – Mentally congratulate myself for choosing not to get a kolache. I’m so healthy and grown-up.

12:01-12:45 – On the commute back home, have this argument in my head:

Rational Brain: “Okay, we’re not going to spend the afternoon watching TV. Think of something productive to do.”

Irrational Brain: “Netflix!”

Rational Brain: “NO! No. Let’s work on the book. You haven’t done that in awhile.”

Irrational Brain: “Or…. we could bake cookies.”

RB: (rolls eyes) “No. You got to bake yesterday.”

IB: (rolls eyes) “That was banana bread. This is cookies. They’re very different.”

RB: “Yes, I KNOW there’s a difference between —- Okay, you know what, we’re getting off-    topic. Why don’t we compromise? You can bake the cookies, and while they’re in the oven,        you can do something important, like –“

IB: “BAKE MORE COOKIES!”

RB: “For the love of God, STOP IT with the cookies!”

IB: (pouts)

RB: “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled. But you really need to get some things done.”

IB: (thinks for awhile) “I could…send an email to that one person about that one thing.”

RB: “Yes! That’s good! What else?”

IB: “I could…turn on Netflix and watch it while I dust the living room?”

RB: “Not the best, but I’ll take it.”

1:00-1:30 – Stop at the grocery store for a prescription and some lunchmeat. Leave with more Ferrero Rocher chocolates than any normal human being would require. Remember that I didn’t get a kolache earlier, and feel justified in my purchase.

1:30-1:45 – Make a to-do list for the afternoon. Spend inordinate amount of time making the wording look fancy.

1:45-2:00 – Call the licensing board to notify them about my change in address. Become so hypnotized listening to the “hold” music, that I temporarily forget why I’m calling and feel startled when someone finally answers. Spend fifteen minutes on hold, only to be told that change of addresses now have to be completed online. Consider setting fire to things.

2:00-3:00 – Accidentally lose a big chunk of time on meaningless activities. Not even sure what I did here.

3:00-4:00 – Watch Joe Biden be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Feel weepy and proud, as though I know him personally. Also feel a little jealous, as though maybe I should have won the medal myself. Cheese blogs save lives, too, you know.

4:00-6:00 – Watch a marathon of That 70s Show and remember for the millionth time that I don’t find the show very funny and in fact, almost find it irritating, and yet, I can’t seem to stop watching it. I’m stuck in an infinite loop of terrible characters and weak plots.

6:00-7:30 – Play Sudoku on my phone. Feel triumphant when I beat my previous scores. Take that, lesser self!

7:30 – Turn off TV and put away phone in an effort to ground myself. Lament about today’s youth being too connected to technology. Open new library book.

7:38-10:30 – Watch more of That 70s Show.

 10:30 – Go to bed suddenly feeling anxious that I didn’t get enough done during the day, and that maybe the whole world will fall apart unless I check my work email RIGHT NOW, so I check it and there’s nothing there, so I feel a little relief, but then the light from my phone sends a message to my brain that it’s time to be awake now, because that’s how brains work, so now I’m too alert and twitchy and I spend half an hour trying to relax, but I feel like I don’t deserve to be relaxed because I didn’t do much today. Resolve to be more productive tomorrow.

 

Ten Facts about Mental Health Professionals

  1. We always make healthy choices
    Every night, I prepare a well-balanced meal of lean meats and vegetables, and then I follow it with a jog around the block. If I’m feeling sassy, I might enjoy half a kit-kat. I have never been known to eat nachos for six days in a row, and then followed them with piles of oreos.

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  1. We follow our own advice
    You know how I’m constantly reminding you of the importance of sleep hygiene, and the evils of using technology right before bed? I totally listen to my own advice. I never text my friends or watch youtube videos in bed. I get a perfect 8.5 hours of sleep every night, no matter what. And I’m also never groggy the next morning!
  1. We’re organized
    My office supplies are so organized, I don’t have any junk drawers in my desk. Okay, I have one. Well, two. Okay, all of the drawers are junk-filled.

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  1. We’re always calm
    True therapists never experience anxiety. We also never curl up under a weighted blanket that was technically made for clients, but is used way more often by us. And none of us have recurrent eye twitches or neck spasms during times of increased stress. That’d just be weird!

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  1. We lead perfect, trouble-free lives
    For me, a bad day means tripping over my bag of diamonds, or having to give my personal masseuse  the night off. I was raised atop a rainbow, surrounded by poetry-reading unicorns. Nothing has ever made me feel scared, or sad, or confused, or angry, or numb.

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  1. We never get into stupid fights with friends or family members
    Everything we say comes out eloquent and respectful, even when we’re frustrated. We never make comments we don’t mean, or silently wish our loved ones would spontaneously disintegrate.

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  1. We’re robots without personalities of our own
    Our idea of fun is to finish a Sudoku puzzle in our plaid pajamas while listening to the sweet, sweet sounds of soft jazz playing in the background. We don’t taste-test cheese-related dishes, and we certainly do not blog about them while sitting on our sofas pantsless. And none of us have dark senses of humor.
  1. We’re always professional and appropriate
    We never challenge our fellow therapists to chair races in the hallway, nor climb on filing cabinets during a rousing game of “lava floor.” We NEVER doze off in our comfy therapy chairs. And we definitely do not trek to the grocery store in stained yoga pants and unwashed hair in order to buy a bottle of wine and a package of premade tamales.

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  1. We always have our shit together
    I don’t know of any therapists who have procrastinated simple tasks for months on end. And none of us have ever drunkenly burst into tears in public, or made choices our mothers would groan at.
  1. We have exceptional insight into ourselves
    Just like we ask you to analyze the reasons behind your behaviors, we’re always doing the  same for our own. We never find ourselves pushing down uncomfortable feelings, putting on a fake smile, and insisting that everything is okay.  And we certainly don’t delude ourselves into thinking that because we’re mental health professionals, we’re suppose to handle all life events with grace.

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Diving into the Doom

Big things are on the horizon for Cheese Woman (that’s my new nickname, as of right now). As many of you know, I am a mental health therapist. As not many of you know, I’ve recently decided to leave the agency I currently work for, and am in the process of going into private practice.

This decision has come with a full rainbow of feelings. Guilt about leaving clients, especially ones I’ve been seeing a long time. Sadness about leaving my coworkers. Hopeful about relationships with new coworkers. Nervous about having to market for myself in the new practice.

Mostly though, I vacillate between these two feelings:

  1. Over-the-top, click-your-heels-together excitement

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  1. Massive, soul-encompassing fear

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At times, I am filled with hope and happiness about my new job. I can’t wait to have more control over the types of cases I see, and I’m optimistic that I can figure out marketing and get into a comfortable routine. Then, my fervor collides with naïveté and spirals into a whirling tornado of idealistic delusion. With a manic grin on my face, I picture myself becoming wildly successful in my practice. I’ll clearly make kajillions of dollars. It won’t matter whether I’m good at marketing, because people will travel hundreds of miles and ford treacherous rivers with their oxen in order to see me. Other agencies will beg me to give presentations. My former grad professors will look on me with pride.

I will be helpful. I will inspire CHANGE.

At other times, I descend into a neurotic pit of doom. I worry that I will have trouble finding clients. That I will not make enough money to support myself. That I will have to explain to friends and family why I’m struggling financially. That this situation will continue long enough that I will have to take on another job, or else be in danger of losing my savings. I am terrified at the thought of taking a big risk and getting nothing in return. I am sickened at the idea of admitting failure. Instead of picturing people traveling far and wide for my services, I picture public scorn. I envision myself being forced to rent my extra bedroom to a banjo-playing drifter who collects taxidermied raccoons. And who eats my leftover macaroni and cheese.

I am no picnic to be around when I’m in the pit of doom. I may or may not have vomited sheer anxiety all over certain loved ones victims.  And then gave them wide-eyed looks of terror as they were forced to reassure me that I will probably not die from this. Also, I may or may not have asked a friend if she’ll still like me if I have to become a prostitute.

Her answer was yes, if you were wondering.

It sort of feels as though I am a dichotomy* of emotion right now, bouncing back and forth from one extreme to another. But the truth is, as with most things in life, I typically fall somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of experience. Even when I’m deliriously excited, I still have a twinge of nervousness. And even when I’m spinning through the black hole of fear, there’s still a quiet whisper at the back of my brain that’s going, “Hey. You can do this.”

*Side note – Ever noticed how the word “dichotomy” sounds like a type of surgery?

 “Can’t make it to your party on Tuesday – I’m having another dichotomy.”

“Another?! That’s your fourth one this year!”

I don’t think the goal is to be completely without worry in this process. For one thing, that’s just not possible. It’s new, and new things are scary. But also, I think a small amount of anxiety keeps me realistic. I SHOULD be concerned about money. Not having money is bad. That’s a practical matter to be thinking about and preparing for. Rather than convincing myself not to be scared, I think the more appropriate goal is to try for an attitude of “Yes, and …”

“Yes, I’m scared about this… and I’m also excited about it. Yes, this could go badly for me … and I’m going to try it anyway.”

I’m actively attempting to lean in to my fears instead of fighting against them. Diving cleanly into the water will hurt a heck of a lot less than falling into it kicking and screaming.

I hate to admit it, but this deluge of cheesy encouragements is also somewhat helping…

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We’ll see if I’m still holding onto this attitude a few months from now. Or a few minutes from now.

What is scaring (or exciting) you guys right now?

 

Sins and Friends

Just a few days ago, my blog friend Erin made a very clever post that tied the seven deadly sins to American holidays. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to do so, because it’s a fun read. And then come back! I’ll be waiting with snacks.

After Erin made her post, she suggested that I take the same topic and apply it to the Friends characters. I love the show, but what I love even more is when other people humor me for my love of the show! Brilliant of her, right?! I may only know Erin online, but she would totally be my friend in real life if we lived near each other. I mean, unless she didn’t want to be my friend, because it IS a little sketchy meeting people you only know from the internet. It’s smart of her to be cautious. For all she knows, I could be a 104-year-old bearded man.

In fact, it’s more fun that way. Assume from now on that I actually AM a 104-year-old bearded man. One who depicts himself as a young blonde woman. And who is in a committed relationship with cheese.

I decided to jump on Erin’s awesome idea before she could change her mind and use it herself. I set aside important work tasks, like any true Friends fan would do, and began brainstorming which sins would apply to which characters. It goes without saying that all of the characters have their strengths and high points (yes, even Ross), but of course, they have their vices as well. They make mistakes just like the rest of us, and some indulge more often in certain areas than in others.

Although there are seven sins, there are only six main characters, so I chose to add in a not-primary-but-still-often-seen character.

SIN #1: WRATH
Character it most closely fits: Ross

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Justification:

  • He reacts with fury when he finds out that Monica and Chandler are sleeping together
  • He loses his temper at a guy who cuts in front of him (earning him the nickname “Red Ross”)
  • He becomes enraged about the unauthorized consumption of his beloved turkey sandwich.

SIN #2: SLOTH
Character it most closely fits: Chandler

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Justification:

  • He admits to never exercising, and is often teased for being physically weaker than everyone else
  • He spends entire days sitting in his recliner, eating snacks, and watching Baywatch

SIN #3: GREED
Character it most closely fits: Rachel

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Yes, I know she left her orthodontist fiancé and rich dad in an attempt to make it on her own. Yes, I know she worked hard to become successful in her own right. Clearly, the woman’s got some pluck and courage. But you can’t deny that she also had some moments of greed.

Justification:

  • Of all the Friends, she cares the most about expensive and trendy brands
  • She demands presents, and then winds up exchanging them for stuff she’d rather have
  • She encourages Monica to marry Pete for the sole purpose of having an extravagant wedding (complete with a “money salad”) – despite the fact that Monica barely knows the man and isn’t sure she wants to marry him

SIN #4: LUST
Character it most closely fits: Joey

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Justification:

  • Do I really need to provide my reasoning? Have you not watched the show?

SIN #5: PRIDE
Character it most closely fits: Phoebe

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  • She refuses to sell “Smelly Cat” to the kitty litter commercial…and then that jingle bitch screwed her over.
  • These song lyrics, which she sings with great passion: “When I play, I play for me! I don’t need no charity!”
  • She doesn’t mention to anyone that she can’t ride a bike, despite receiving one as a present

SIN #6: GLUTTONY
Character it most closely fits: Monica

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Justification:

  • I know her issues with overeating are technically in the past, but nothing else really fits Monica, okay? Plus, there is that episode where she becomes addicted to Brown Bird cookies and her friends have to cut her off.

SIN #7: ENVY
Character it most closely fits: Gunther

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Justification:

  • He was super jealous of Ross’ relationship with Rachel. That’s about it.

 

Of course, a few of these characters can fit in more than one category of sin. Joey in particular can be assigned to almost all of the sins! What do you think of my selections? Are there any ones that you would have done differently? What other examples can you think of to justify certain match-ups?

Big People, Little World

How are you doing? Yes, you. No, not the guy sitting behind you in the fedora. I’m talking to YOU. How are you? It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? If you’re feeling disheartened, angry, sad, embarrassed, or fearful – know that I am, too. Know that you’re not alone in your feelings, in your questions, or in your feeble attempts to move forward. I’m right there with you.

I’ve been trying to make myself feel better over the past few days, as I’m sure (and I hope) you’ve been doing for yourself as well. I’m realizing more and more that I am a part of two worlds. One world is the “Big World” – it includes my state and country and Earth, and everyone living within its boundaries. It includes the ideals and people within my profession. It includes the internet and social media. It encompasses all of the outside world and every person that I come into contact with, whether physically or internet-ly.

There’s also my “Little World.” It includes my job, and the coworkers and clients I see on a regularly basis. It includes close friends and family members. But truthfully, Little World is mostly just me.  It’s my body and my brain. Little World is me when I’m alone at home, when I’m driving in my car, and when I’m at the grocery store. It travels around with me, and is never separate from me.

On a normal day, I often find myself doing things to pull myself out of my Little World. It’s hard, because I feel comfy there. But I actively make myself participate in the Big World. “Come on self, walk with confidence. Speak with confidence. If you pretend you’re outgoing and assertive, you’ll come across that way. Stop pushing down your feelings – tell people the truth. Share your ideas. Advocate! Defend! Empower! Support!”

But over the past few days, it hasn’t felt safe to be in the Big World, has it? We went out and made the choices we felt were right. We believed we were advocating for the greater good. We were being big-hearted. We were hopeful.

And then, in the blink of an eye, our hopes were dashed. And it’s been painful. And embarrassing. And infuriating. And possibly worst of all, it’s been terrifying.

So while I normally encourage myself to break out of my Little World and embrace the Big World, right now I’m giving myself permission to do the opposite. I’m allowing myself to get small – which, I want to emphasize, is not the same as feeling small.

For me, getting small and returning to my Little World means that I’m steering clear of the internet and social media – with a few exceptions. Rather than psyching myself up to break out of my shell, I’m seeking safety within it. I’m quietly checking in on my feelings and needs. I’m closing the door to the outside world when I need to.  I’m letting myself feel disappointed and worried, without trying to logic my way out of it. I’m spending time with people who feel safe and comforting to me, and politely avoiding others.

And I’m also letting myself feel content and peaceful when those responses manage to bubble to the surface. I’m re-reading a favorite book that always makes me smile. I’m continuing to crochet new rows onto a blanket that has already gotten comically large. I’ve gotten somewhat sidetracked from my “Project,” but I feel proud of the work I’ve done on it so far, and I know I’ll return to it soon.

I even unleashed my inner weirdo long enough to send a gross picture of a centipede to my family and friends. And I felt inexplicable glee at their disgust.

I know I can’t stay here in my turtle shell forever, and I wouldn’t want to. Once I’m feeling grounded and steady, I may want to poke my head out of the shell and see what the Big World is up to. Maybe I’ll feel a little stronger and better equipped to take on new challenges. Maybe I’ll see new reasons to retreat back inside for awhile, and that’s okay too.

Returning to my Little World seems to help me a little. I don’t know if it will help you. I hope you find something in the next few days to bring you comfort and light and laughter, but I understand if you can’t. Know that I support you, and that I value your worth. Know that I see your hurt and confusion and fear. Know that I understand, and I feel those things too. Know that I care deeply about the fact that children are asking you questions that you don’t know the answer to. Know that I want answers, too.

Know also that we are together in this. I see you, and I am with you.  If I have to point out the ONE aspect of beauty in this horribly ugly situation, it’s that we have each other. You and me, and our brothers and sisters with similar goals and hopes and values. We’re not alone.

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Names of Grey’s Anatomy Characters Match their Personalities

For ten or so years now, one of my TV-related guilty pleasures has been Grey’s Anatomy. “Guilty pleasure” may not be the right phrase for it, because a) I don’t feel guilty about it, and b) it’s really not all that pleasurable, since the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes keeps killing off my favorite characters and writing stories that make me want to pull my hair out. But I admit that the madness makes for good TV, or else I wouldn’t keep watching it.

Instead of guilty pleasure, let’s call it “bittersweet torture.”

A few evenings ago, I was watching my bittersweet torture when I had a couple of epiphanies. You know that one episode where Meredith is irritable and says cranky things and makes poor decisions? Just kidding – she’s that way ALL THE TIME. Anyway, while I was sitting back and judging our favorite grumpy surgeon from the comfort of my own sofa, this occurred to me:

Mere’s personality is accurately summed up by her last name – Grey

If you don’t watch the show, I’ll tell you that Meredith Grey exists in a “dark and twisty” place a lot of the time. She’s compassionate and hard-working, but she’s also a bit of a rain cloud, and she openly admits to being distrustful of any hope or light that enters the picture. She frequently talks about not seeing things as black & white, or good & bad. She sees the in-between. She thinks in grey. And that’s a mature position to take, except when it leads to her making some terrible-ass decisions.

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Then, I started thinking about other characters’ last names, and I had Epiphany #2. Or really, it was Epiphany #1, Part B:

Many of the characters’ last names have meanings that represent the personalities and values of the characters themselves.

Have I been living under a rock? Has everyone else been aware of this connection the whole time? Suddenly, I’m questioning everything – including my own name. What day is it? Where am I?

These first few examples had me absolutely convinced that Shonda and the other writers knew exactly what they were doing when they named their characters. Admittedly, some of the names didn’t seem to fit with this theory at first, at least not off the top of my head. Enter Google.

Yang (Cristina)
The “yang” side of the yin-yang symbol is said to represent passion, logic, and strength. The yang is also technically considered the “male side” of the Tao symbol, but I still think this works for Cristina. No, I don’t consider her masculine, but her character did frequently confront stereotypical views of femininity.

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Shepherd (Derek)
Simply enough, a shepherd is a leader and protector. Sounds a bit like Derek, doesn’t it?

Bailey (Miranda)
A “bailey” is an outer enclosure of a castle. How perfect is this? If the hospital were a castle, Bailey would most certainly be the strong, protective barrier.

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O’Malley (George)
I didn’t expect for this name to work with the theory, but a quick Google search taught me that it’s Gaelic for “gentle.” (If you just cooed, “Aww, George!” after reading this, you’re not alone.)

Hunt (Owen)
Focused like a hunter. Pursues what he wants. Dominant.

Burke (Preston)
Possibly my favorite meaning on this list, Burke means “to murder by suffocation.” No, seriously! Now, did Preston literally (or even televisionally) commit homicide? No. But did Cristina’s personality and identity get suffocated in her relationship to him? Definitely.

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As I kept gleefully Googling name meanings, the last-names-match-personalities concept started to lose some of its strength. These names and their meanings are a bit more of a stretch:

Robbins (Arizona)
A robin is an energetic, lively bird, and the name also means “bright and shining.” These both fit pretty well with what we know of Arizona, but it seems a bit too… easy.

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Stevens (Izzie)
Means honorable, which does kinda work for Izzie, but is a bit vague. This meaning could have just as easily been applied to any other character.

Sloan (Mark)
In the UK, “sloan” is apparently a slang term for a rich person. Hmm. This is technically true of Mark, but was probably not an intentional move by Shonda.

Torres (Callie)
Spanish for “towers.” Callie is sort of… mighty and… tower-like, I guess.

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Yeah, okay, that last one was pushing it.

Last but not least, I’d like to give honorable mentions to the names that didn’t fit with this theory no matter how much I manipulated them:

  • Karev means positivity… I know, I’m laughing too.
  • Kepner means weaver of cloaks. Weird. Also, don’t confuse this with Webber, which means weaver of cloths. Big difference.
  • Avery apparently means Elf Ruler. Bahahaha! You know Jackson would be PISSED about that.
  • Also, since the Grey theory doesn’t work with Little Grey’s personality at all, I was hoping that maybe the name Lexie would mean, “weasels her way into Meredith’s heart and everyone else’s” or even, “photographic memory.” No such luck.

At this point, I’m thinking that the connection between name meanings and character personalities is probably more of a coincidence than a conscious plan on Shonda’s part. I’m not sure I care though. Whether it was purposeful or happenstance, it still makes for an interesting idea!

Ketchup and Mustard

I feel like I haven’t been posting as often lately, or even putting as much time and effort behind the things I do post. I think I have some splainin to do. My world has been busier than usual, and I want to catch up with you guys. Except I don’t like ketchup, so I say we mustard up!

mustard

I apologize if that immediately made you hungry for hot dogs. I understand.

Here are a few things that have been going on the past few weeks:

Diseases
My charming little eyelid infection both looks and feels much better, but is still technically hanging around. This little bugger is like the Donald Trump of my face. It’s arrogant, purposeless, and annoying, and yet I’m morbidly impressed that it’s still around after all this time, despite all the attempts to take it down.

It might also be sexist and xenophobic. Not quite sure yet.

On the upside of having frequent eye appointments, my eye doctor and I seem to have become bffs. We passed through small talk a long time ago, and have gone straight into serious conversations about my career plans, in which she forcefully encourages me to go into private practice. We also laugh about the intrusive nature of our small town, where neither of us can go anywhere without running into patients/clients. I assume, as her bff-patient, she’s not talking about me in those conversations.

She’ll probably ask me to be godmother to her son soon. And my answer will be yes, but only if there will be cake at the reception.

Babies
I just started volunteering in a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at a hospital in Austin. Parents cannot always be with their itty bitty offspring 24/7, so volunteers are brought in to hold and rock the infants while their parents are away. Human connection is important for all of us, but it’s VITAL for the healthy development of a newborn. If you have some free time and are interested in doing something like this, contact your local hospital and see if they have a program available 🙂

I’m sure I’ll write a more detailed post about this at another time, but let me sum up the experience for you by saying it’s awesome — minus these rigid rules I have to follow:

  • Rule #1: Do not attempt to hurl tiny infant across the room like a football, despite tightly-swaddled and football-like state.
  • Rule 2: Do not kidnap infant. Despite his/her cuteness, he/she does belong to other people and is not yours to take.
  • Rule #3: Do not even joke about #1 or #2. Parents and hospital staff don’t like it.

 

Projects
As I briefly alluded to in a couple of previous posts (here and here), I’ve been doing some researchin’ and writin’ about personality disorders for a particular project that I’m patiently putting together. (If you appreciated the alliteration that occurred just now, I shall give you an internet high five. If you hate alliteration, then you’re a monster, and I hope your fingernails spontaneously fall off.)

 

…Anyway, this project is kind-of-sort-of-maybe-hopefully going to be a book. I feel very timid using the b-word for some reason, which is why I keep referring to it as The Project, which sounds vague and cool at the same time. I’ve told very few people about it – not because I’m not excited about it (because I totally am), but because I fear that, for whatever reason, it won’t come true.

 

Maybe I’ll get tired of it, and stop working on it all together. Maybe I’ll finish it, but nobody will want to publish it. Or else, maybe I’ll finish it, AND a publisher will love it, but a freak tornado will come along and wipe out the publishing company,  taking my precious manuscript with it.

 

Either way, it seems like the more people I tell about the book The Project, the more times I’ll have to explain why it didn’t come to be.

 

Does anyone else tend to keep new and exciting things to themselves, in fear that it won’t work out? Whether it’s a possible job promotion, a new hobby, or maybe even a new exercise regimen, I think a lot of us find it easier to keep quiet about these things so that we don’t have to have embarrassing conversations later. But that’s such a bummer,  isn’t it? I’m dorkally excited and hopeful about The Project, and I shouldn’t keep it to myself just to avoid an uncomfortable conversation that may not even happen.

 

Besides, if it doesn’t work out, maybe all these people I tell will say supportive and nice things, and regale me with stories of their own letdowns. They might help me feel better. And even if they don’t, I still shouldn’t view my losses as embarrassing – if nothing else, I can say I tried something new, and I learned a lot of interesting things.

 

 

Hmm. That sounds suspiciously like Therapist Me coming out, because Real Me wouldn’t have such a mature view of failure. I think I shall reward my inner therapist with some chocolate.

 

Positive Spin or Denial? You Decide

A common technique used in therapy is something called “reframing,”  where the therapist helps the client view certain concepts in a different (and usually more positive) way. What’s the purpose of this? Well, we mortal humans tend to see events or situations as being either “good” or “bad,” when most of time, they’re somewhere in between. For example, when we’re in love, we see the other person as being wonderful and perfect. We’re unable or unwilling to see any flaws. On the other hand, when we’re depressed, we experience even neutral situations as lonely and sad.

People seek therapy for themselves because they want to think and plan in new ways that will help them feel happier and healthier – and reframing is one of the first steps toward this goal. After all, if you think everything about your situation is terrible, and you don’t see anything to hope for, you’ll probably be less likely to make changes…because what’s the point, if there’s no hope?

Here are a couple examples of reframing…

“Instead of being stubborn, maybe you just know what you want.”

“You’re frustrated with yourself for feeling anxious, but feeling anxious is a normal and understandable response in your situation.”

It’s also a helpful technique in parenting – just like people get “stuck” on how to help themselves, they can also get stuck on how to handle certain behaviors in their children. Reframing can aid in increasing a parent’s compassion toward her child, and return her sense of being in control. By changing the perspective, it unlocks a new set of solutions.

Here are a couple examples of reframing in regards to parenting…

“Instead of seeing him as bossy, maybe we can see him as a natural leader.”

“The advantage to her hyperactivity is that she’s creative and energetic.”

Reframing is not dishonest, nor does it mean sweeping the core problem under the rug. It truly is just a different way to look at the same situation in order to return a sense of agency.  Of course, this wouldn’t be my blog unless I took something good and useful, and twisted it into something weird.

When I was in high school, I had a yellow shirt that read (in pink sparkly glitter): “I’m not opinionated, I’m just always right.” I cringe now to think about how obnoxious that shirt must have been.  Forgive me, fellow classmates, for inflicting that upon you. But when I push past the regret of early 2000s fashion, I can definitely see the humor in those types of mottos. They allow you to completely ignore any flaw or issue you have, in favor of seeing yourself in a more flattering light.

And I like that.

So I started thinking about some of my own weaknesses and issues, and thought it’d be fun to reframe them beyond recognition. At this point, it’s probably not “reframing” so much as it is just straight-up denial.

Some of my flaws, both before and after I “reframed” them…

 Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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Now it’s your turn at denial! What do you consider to be your weaknesses? How can you reframe (or twist) these flaws to get a different view of them?

Happy Birthday, Just in Queso!

This blog-child of mine has officially been in existence for one year now! Yay! In honor of this event, I’ve decided to write an EPIC  poem that shamelessly links back to previous posts.

Just to be clear, I’m not calling it “epic” in order to compliment it. (Although I DO compliment my blog. I love you, blog. You’re beautiful.) No, an epic poem is one that is long, and usually about some sort of heroic feat.  The definition doesn’t stipulate what “long” means, nor does it specify what entails a “heroic feat,” so I’m going to take advantage of this loophole and refer to my work here as epic.

After all, one MIGHT say that keeping a blog is a heroic feat. I don’t know who that person is, but they very well could exist.

I’m just going to leave this here and back away slowly before you can argue with me…

It’s my one-year blogiversary
And of that, I’m pretty proud
So I thought I’d write a little ditty
Reliving my posts out loud.

How many posts have I written?
The answer’s one hundred and seven.
And in a moment of poetic perfection,
My followers are two hundred and eleven.

As you may have figured out by now,
I am a dedicated fan of cheese
I’ve tested many quesos in this joint
In search of the ones that please.

Texican Café’s was too greasy, and
Super Taco’s was way too thin.
Chili’s was a revelation:
Calling that shit “queso” should be a sin.

Shady Grove was pretty good, but
Even better was Jack Allen’s Kitchen
I could really go for some of that right now
That pork was really bitchin’.

The most recent trip: Texas Chili Parlor;
The journey started with Kerbey Lane.
Sazon was in the lead for months,
Until Mamacita’s set us aflame.

Some quesos are spooned in tortillas
Others have been dipped with chips
Some let us make our own concoctions
But they all had us licking our lips.

Let’s move on from queso now
‘Cause I could talk about it hours.
Don’t believe me? Read this love poem
That stuff has magical powers.

I’ve written about my hatred of birds
And my love for all things dolphin
I’ve admitted my desire to kidnap dogs,
Which would be an easy feat in Austin.

I’ve  penned a letter to my router
And another to my laptop
I’ve made a Christmas drinking game
And I’ve narrowly escaped a cop.

Let me think what else I’ve done
Oh! I’ve house-sat like a boss.
I’ve learned a lot from Jerry Springer,
And I’ve also defended Ross.

At times I’ve confessed to telling lies
Like that time I called 911
Or that genius scheme to steal all the chocolate,
Or what I do for Sunday fun.

My family isn’t safe from spotlight –
You’ve heard about Mom, Dad, and Grandma.
They weren’t too thrilled with my “pantyless” tale
(But they should be used to my choices by now.)

In an ideal world I’d include ALL my posts
But that poem would be meters long.
My brain is too full of useless info,
But for my finale: here’s the carb song.

Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time over this past year to read my posts, and even better, leave comments with your thoughts! I love you all, and if I were having a birthday party for my blog, I’d totally invite you over for cake. Unless the cake was that multi-layer fudgy chocolate kind, and then I’m not sharing any. You understand.

I’ve had a lot of fun so far, and am looking forward to the next kabillion years of blog-keeping! ❤

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