Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Are We Funny?

Above is a clip of one of the funniest guys I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. And I know some ridiculously funny people.

I went to high school with Don Harmon and he, it is widely agreed, had a comment, joke or sarcastic remark for every situation. On top of being just plain funny without really trying, he was also kind, smart and, I will admit, a cutie patootie.

He committed suicide this week. Leaving behind a wife and a very small daughter.

Thew news of Donnie's passing shook our mutual friends.When word broke as to the cause of his death even those who hadn't seen him in decades were (are) devastated. How does someone who appears so happy - I would go as far as to use the word jovial - decide no one will care if he no longer exists?

Last week my family watched "A Gaga Thanksgiving" (mock me now, I'll wait). Gaga has spoken often and publicly about being bullied and I asked the question (or no one in particular) "What is the difference between someone who is bullied mercilessly and becomes Lady Gaga and someone who is bullied mercilessly and decides they just cannot stand to live in this mortal world one more minute?" I honestly don't know. Maybe one really good friend or family member who keeps an eye on you and makes sue you know they love you. Maybe it is finding a place - in the nick of time - where your square peg finally fits perfectly. I just don't know.

Here's what I do know: A vast majority of the funniest people I know use comedy as a defense. When swearing like a sailor didn't work for me in Catholic school (go figure), I had to get funny fast, in order for people to laugh at me and not, you know, AT me. Lots of comedians are overweight (RIP Patrice O'Neal, Candy, Belushi, et al). Get funny or get picked on. Some are compensating for other reasons, perhaps reasons only they know or can see.

As I think about Donnie tonight, I wonder why he was so damn funny. Smart, talented, kind and handsome, I'm sad not only because the loss of his life is a loss to us all, but because I feel sure there was something that made him funny and I worry that this is the thing that finally pushed him over the edge.

The truth is, I was not close to Donnie. I have friends who were. Likely none of us are close enough to him now to ever have really know the demons he may have been fighting with a well-timed one-liner. But I have friends that share Don's sense of humor, who battle ghosts of their own every day and tonight, I vow to make sure they know they are more than the sum of their comedic material. You are special. You are loved.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Half-Assed is the new Fabulous

It has been almost a year since I last posted on this blog. A lot has happened in that year. Jack started real school. My grandfather died. We renewed our wedding vows. I went to Vegas. Twice. Sisterhood imploded. It's been a year.

J has had a stomach bug since Saturday night. The poor kid can't keep anything down. Cheerios finally went and stayed down tonight at 7:30. Because I have the ability to do most of my job from home, I emailed my boss last night, explained the situation and tried to work best I could with a puking kid from home today. I had already arranged to work from home on Wednesday, because J doesn't have school. So I have to go in tomorrow so this week won't be a complete wash.

I received a couple of disturbing emails from my boss today. Nothing in-your-face, but with a definite edge to them. Maybe it was my guilt, but I was sensing his irritation. So I will g in tomorrow, even if J is sick.

To review, I feel like I am not doing an adequate job at my job because of the two days I have to work from home this week because of the kiddo. I will go in tomorrow and if J is still sick, I will feel like I am doing an inadequate job as a mother because I won't be with him to rub his head just the way he likes, or get vomited on for a 6th time in 48 hours.

I am completely burned out on volunteer work, so that has been suffering as well. Three years at the head of the organization was too much to bite off. So I have just shut down on that front and am really not taking in any new information. Oh, and I serve on the Board of that organization with some of my best friends, so I am feeling like a shitty friend for stepping back from those duties. (Side note: I have an awesome co-pres who is picking up the slack this year. She rocks and I would meltdown without her.)

Thanksgiving is in three days. We are going into Cincy on Thursday and leaving Friday because it is chaos when J and D are there together and I can't stand the tension. So I am feeling like a pretty crappy daughter, aunt and sister.

It is has not been a good week for the self-esteem.

I am thankful that I have family to visit. And that they are all healthy (puking Kindergartner aside). I am extremely thankful for my husband, who does his best to pick up the slack when Sisterhood responsibilities and work call me away. I am thankful beyond words for my girlfriends, who are acutely aware of my faults and love me anyway. And even though I feel like I am doing a half-assed job lately, I am really thankful for my gig. I love my job, genuinely like my boss, enjoy the members I work for and the fact that I get to do what I love daily.

I hate doing things half-assed. Although I don't think I'm a perfectionist, I want to do everything I do well and leave things better than I found them. Lately, though, I feel as if I am treading water in a pool that is getting increasingly deeper. Something's gotta give.

I've already started backing away from Sisterhood and pray that my friendships don't suffer because of it. The rest of it is kind of non-negotiable. Do I want to be a half-assed employee. No, I sure don't. I half-assed friend? Absolutely not. A half-assed wife? Nope. A half-assed Mommy? Makes me sick to think about it. So where do I find some give?

Praying for the answer.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Look of Shame

(Warning: Not a funny post, for those of you looking for that. This one is for me.)

I should have known better. Really, I should have. We'd been at The Grams' since Thursday, immersed ourselves in a weekend full of bacchanalia and then put him off his routine with the aide out on vacation this week. To think I could introduce this particular version of The Prince to new friends was asinine, really.

I was so glad to see an college friend and so eager to meet her three kids, that the thought of heading over to her house after all of the above sounded like a grand idea, rather than the pipe dream it was.

We encountered an accident, resulting in 25 minutes stationery time on I-70, and J fell asleep, snoring soundly. When I attempted to wake him, he was dazed. Better I should have let him sleep in the car while I visited.

I kid.


The melee that ensued was nothing short of one of the most fantastic meltdowns ever witnessed. There was slamming of doors, spitting, yelling, crying - and that was just me. When my friend's four-year-old daughter gasped when J slammed the front door, I knew ignoring him was no longer going to work. he followed that up by spitting at this little blue-eyed angel.

The piece de resisantce, however, is what gets me every time. He wound up and smacked me hard in the face. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught my friend's reaction and it was - maybe- worse than the blow.

Not being a naturally patient person, I know God gave me this particular boy because I have prayed many times for Him to help me be more patient. Keeping calm and not throttling my child when he sinks his teeth into my leg means I have come a long way in the patience department. But it makes me seriously wonder how far I have come in the parent department.

He continued to rage all the way home. I pulled over twice - both to re-buckle him back into the car seat. It bordered on ridiculous when he wouldn't stop kicking me so I took his shoes. After a while, there is something just funny about a boy sobbing "I want my shooooooeeeesssss." But calm I kept.

I vent here so that I can work through things and, more importantly, not kill him. I know I am not a great mom. I know I let him get away with things that other moms would have nipped in the bud. The worst part is knowing this and then having it confirmed just by a glance. I wonder, sometimes - on bad days in particular, how this child is ever going to become part of a class in a structured classroom.

Today was bad. Tomorrow will be better. I have to believe it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Things We Leave Behind... And Those We Gain

I am feeling a distinct Christmas-shaped hole in my aura this year.

The year before I converted, we nixed the tree (which was getting progressively smaller, anyway) to see how it felt. It was OK, although, as I reported then, I was caught off guard by some carolers and wept openly at a shopping center that first year.

Last year was all abut the joy of choosing Judaism - and Christmas and Chanukkah were close, so it all felt like a big love-fest. All was well.

This year, though, Chanukkah started on Dec. 1. By December 9, the menorah was aglow with all nine candles, all the gifts had been given, Ma'oz Tzur sung (and sung, and sung) and then darkness. Chanukkah was over.

Meanwhile, carols were on the radio, Christmas lights (yes, Melanie, they ARE "Christmas" lights) were being hung and the buy-buy-buy-frenzy was reaching its peak everywhere I turned.

I don't miss the pressure to out-do last Christmas every year. That's never what it was about for me, anyway. Christmas has always been a state of mind. An extra smile or an extra bit of patience, and remembering to treat each other like human beings (except, apparently, during black Friday sales. All bets are off then). It's just that all of that was wrapped up in the packages and the lights and the singing and - for what its worth - the smell of cinnamon pine cones.

In theory, I should be able to transfer all of those feel-good feelings right on over and celebrate with the Maccabees, no? I'm finding it not quite that easy in practice and I don't know why.

I guess I am mourning a little bit of my childhood: Singing in the choir at midnight mass, matching family PJs and the sweet anticipation of Christmas morning. I will not ever forget the Christmas that Santa brought facepaint and Dad painted my sister and I up like members of KISS. (Dad was cool even then.)

I know that on December 26 I will feel better. Not only because people tend to go back to being rotten to each other, but because I have gained so much more than I lost when I left Christmas.

Let's begin with a place and a service where I truly feel close to God. I like that Jews are taught to treat everyone the way they would treat God not for some promise of a glorious afterlife and rewards, but because we are obligated to - it is the right thing to do and that is why you should do it (vs. you should do it to get into heaven).

While the list of things I have gained from conversion is vast, I'll end it with the friends I have gained. I didn't gain them because I converted - in fact several spouses are still Christians. I gained them by being involved in Temple Israel.

This (I like to think) close group of friends are the ones you can call at midnight when a squirrel is squatting in your living room (Bucy is packing and I have him on speed dial) and the ones who will then show up with many squirrel-themed gifts to mock you and your fear of small, furry wildlife after the terror has passed.

They are the friends I want around me when we deal with things that seem too big - loss of family, financial ruin, serious illness. These are the women and men I want in my corner because some of them will hug me, most of them will make me laugh and many of them will then pick me up by my shoulders and give me a push to move forward (when progress is the last thing from my mind).

If I've lost Christmas, it was a small price to pay for getting a soft, warm and often funny place to land when the holiday spirit inevitably wears off.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nature: 3; Zimmers: Naught

It has been a while since I have gone back to the hilarity that is my blogging roots. It is time, friends. If only because we have had a chaotic November and some of it is too funny NOT to share.

Many of you may be familiar with Osi's sordid past with the local wildlife. he has been taunted more than once by raccoons in several zip codes. It's as if they have a poster of him in the local raccoon post office with a sign above it instructing wildlife to "Get This Guy."

The raccoons have branched out, my friends. The word is out and the Bexley squirrels have risen to the challenge.

On a random Wednesday night a few weeks ago, I was awakened by a frantic stage-whisper calling my name. "Chris!" my Great White Hunter of a husband called, "CHRIS! THERE IS A SQUIRREL IN THE HOUSE!"

You may, at this point, stop (as I did) and ask yourself what am I going to to do about this that the GWH can't do himself? While you are pondering this, please keep in mind that this is a man who once annoyed a raccoon off of our deck by a) poking it with a fireplace poker and b) spraying same raccoon with "Clorox Clean-Up." I felt as if it was up to me to defend the family home against this obviously rabid beast.

Let us first agree that squirrels are just rats with better costumes. Let us also agree that while they may be cute and cuddly outside, squirrels do NOT belong on this inside - with the people. And they most certainly do not belong ensconced under the guest bed, which is exactly where Osi found him.

Upon sitting on the bed to remove his shoes, Osi saw our friend Mr. Nutters scamper from beneath the bed in search of escape. This sight sent Osi, also scampering, out of the room, closing the door behind him. That brings us to the stage-whisper alarm I received at midnight that night.

After searching fruitlessly for an animal removal service that would answer our midnight distress call, we (and my WE, I mean I) decided to take matters into our own hands. I Googled "How to get a squirrel out of your house." Here are the directions I received.

Step one was "Don't Panic!" Well, shit. That ship had already sailed. Step one also helpfully instructs you not to get bitten. Thanks, genius.

On to step two, which was to secure your pets elsewhere. Well, now, funny you should mention the pets. Because we have one of those. One whose only job is to alert us to intruders, say, of the rodent variety. Here is Frannie, The Wonder Mutt's, reaction to being told there is a squirrel in the house and she should do her doggy duty.

Step three instructed me to "Gingerly work around the squirrel." Check. That I can do. Donning Crocs and brandishing a broom, I entered the room, skirting the edges, and announced loudly to the squirrel that no one wanted to harm it, I was just opening a window to aide in his escape. There was no need for HIM to panic, because there was no one here by us squirrel-lovers. I proceeded quickly to step 4,which was to open the windows in the room, remove the screens and get the hell out. Actually, get the hell out was step 5 (and 6, if you want to get technical. They were pretty clear about getting the hell out).

At 2 am, we heard a good deal of noise, followed by several thumps. Upon entering the room in the morning, pictures on the wall were askew, our dresser was trashed and the squirrel appeared to be gone. We even called Critter Control to come ensure that the squirrel was gone. They assured us that the squirrel was, indeed, GONE. We determined he came in through the open fireplace flue and scampered upstairs after taking one look at the dog (who, I am assuming, was dozing on the couch through the entirety of Mr. Nutters' entrance). Critter Control secured the flue and left us confident that we were no squirrel-free.

Flash forward to Saturday, when I am once again awakened from my peaceful slumber by the now screaming Great White Hunter: "CHRIS! THERE'S ANOTHER SQUIRREL!!"

Osi had seen a squirrel in the living room, and saw it dart across the room, but didn't see where it went. Another call to Critter Control ensued. (For those keeping track, we are now $300 in the hole for squirrel surveillance and removal). Critter Controller arrived and, after some scuttlebutt, emerged from the guest room victorious, with the squirrel in a cage.

The Great White Hunter cursed at the squirrel all the way out the door. While we relatively certain that - this time - we are squirrel free, I know I live in fear of the day that TGWH calls me to defend Chez Zimmer once again.