Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Fluffy Topics, LaughFest and the Nature of Humor



First a brief message from the elephant in the room before I move on to the "fluff" going on inside my head…rather, trying to go on inside my head. Fluff is running around up there looking for room to grow and spill out onto my computer screen. But after all that’s happened since the school shootings in Parkland, Florida it’s a real struggle. The elephant will get this and the next paragraph of rage and then I shall be a good little blogger and get off the soap box. Those of us who’ve been tuned into the national debate since 14 kids and 3 teachers lost their lives to a military-style assault rifle in the hands of a troubled teen don’t need to hear any more, and those who’ve been tuned out from what’s been going on since Valentine’s Day---Well, bless your heart, but I can’t do that. 

Okay. Rant on: I’m sick of the gun toting conspiracy theorists and alt-right “news” sources---even the president's son---spreading rumors that the students from Parkland are “crisis actors” and the shooting rampage itself is a false flag, meaning a staged play so the government can come take our guns away. Sorry, if you’re paranoia enough to believe that, then maybe you shouldn’t own guns! And certainly you shouldn’t own enough of them to hold off the Drug Cartel in your backyard! And I’m sick of people mocking, criticizing and dismissing those incredible kids who got baptized-by-fire into the realm of activism. It’s despicable! That’s just two of the side-car debates going on now along with the idea the president is pushing of arming our teachers. Jeez, what could possibility go wrong with that scenario? Rant off as soon as I say that lawmakers better get their balls back from the NRA and pass some sensible and meaningful gun control laws if they want to stay in office because the Never Again Movement is going to be a force to reckon with.

Fluff. What is it? I’m glad you asked. It’s the kind of topic bloggers search for---often in vain---when trying to write something that won’t offend anyone but won’t be as boring as brushing our teeth. Oh, we may say we’re writing for ourselves and it doesn’t matter if no one reads what we write but don’t believe it for a minute. Many of us bloggers live to find like-minded cyber friends or at least cyber friends who can engage in fair and respectful disagreements. We live to compare notes on what makes us laugh and cry, feel proud or insecure---what we think about as we navigate through our world. Fluff like that keeps the personal blogs community turning. By the way, if you’re a blogger never mix up the meaning of lifestyle blogs and personal blogs. I’ve made the mistake of using the terms interchangeable and that doesn’t fly in blog indexes. A personal blog is digital storytelling based on the blog author’s daily life and experiences. And lifestyle blogs are based on a person’s interests in a particular topic like the food, fashion, downsizing or whatever-floats-your-boat.

Raise your hand if you’re still reading. Good. A few of you are still following my rambling and as a reward I’ll tell you a joke: “Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Because if they flew over a bay, they would be bagels.” Our annual Gilda’s Club LaughFest starts soon so I’m getting ready to see two weeks’ worth of local media coverage. If I was a drive-downtown-after-dark kind of person I’d check out some of the 30 events spread out over the festival featuring various genres of comedy and performers. My heartthrob, Travor Noah, would be first on my list. Maria Bamford, Bert Kreisher, “Weird All” Yankovic and others whose names I’ve never heard will also be doing stand-up acts, improv, humor workshops and family friendly comedy. Even an exhibit of humorous portraits will be in town. 

My days of going to comedy clubs dwindled out after bell-bottoms went out of fashion. (I still miss bell-bottoms!) But won’t you agree that our humor also changes as we age? When we were kids we thought knock-knock jokes were the cat’s meow. I spent my entire childhood and teen years laughing for reasons I couldn’t explain. Then came the era of long-playing comedy records and sitting around on Saturday nights listening to records like Inside Shelley Berman and The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. Jonathan Winters, Richard Pryor, The Smothers Brothers, Lenny Bruce, Redd Foxx and George Carlin---those were some of the most popular vinyls when comedy ​33 1⁄3 rpms were the in thing. I even remember the Bill Cosby record with him joking about slipping ‘Spanish Fly’ (an aphrodisiac) into women’s drinks. I remember thinking, why is that funny? Well, who’s laughing now, Bill?

Most humor gets dated or maybe it’s just that we get jaded as we age. The world we were born into is certainly not the same one we’ll be leaving behind one day. And for that reason maybe we don’t need to fear dementia as much as we need to embrace it. That’s a joke in case you couldn’t tell. Dark humor walks a fine line between laughter and tears. ©

25 comments:

  1. My rant relates to what has been termed false equivalence. I do read the New York Times daily, but I also get frustrated with the NYT daily. What is happening in the extreme right wing conspiracy world is not the other side of the see saw from actual news. There is no other side. We are not on a see saw. Our focus should clearly be on the news (ie what happened as the Parkland shooting) and there is no reason to bring in the gossip, rumors and lies of extremists. Because, the more you bring them up, the more they become part of the conversation. Haven’t we learned this enough in the past. Walk away from the lies, and stay focused on truth and facts. Even if and when others are trying to distract you.
    End of rant!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. I understand what you're saying. The news is the news and facts are facts. Most people know that. But the extremist views are no longer on the fringes, not when the president and his son are tweeting and saying stuff that comes directly off the extremist websites that are spreading false equivalences, false flags, half-truths and outright lies. I feel that those of us who are willing to fight back with the facts need to do it. Staying silent has never stopped evil in the past, in fact staying silent has helped evil grow. That's why I engage on regular political debate sites where the fringe are trying infiltrate to sow more and more distrust of the media and the government. One thread along has 65,000 posts about Emma and David. If people like me didn’t defend them, then it would be 20,000 posts feeding each other’s paranoia and hate. The rise of these fringe views has even been covered by The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC in recent days because IT IS part of the news. Those kids in Florida and the parents of victims are getting death threats from people who think they are actors, etc. We have a president who is systematically trying to demonize the press which is all part of this issue, why the fringe is growing. I know the truth and facts, I use the truth and facts when I debate those who don't. I also use respect and calmness when I engage. I save my rants for my blog. LOL

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  2. Dark humor along with being funny is so true to life that it can scare you to death if you think about it, your last joke was one of those, and a good one in my opinion.

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    1. Thanks. I'm pretty sure I made it up myself rather than heard or read it someplace else.

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  3. My rant is about the NRA. I can't believe how powerful the NRA is. Guns, guns, guns is all they talk about. Everyone of them is a cowboy. Put a sidearm on their hip and their ready to go. I thought the United States was bad but I didn't know they were that crazy. Thank God I live in Canada. World War 3 will be there soon because of the crazy gun toting loonies that are running the United States. My cousin Tony ( Pietrangelo ) Lives in Trenton, Mich. and I wish he would move to Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada. At least he might live a little long. Hey Jean, is that enough ranting?
    I want to rest and enjoy life a little bit more. I've alreasy planned another cruise next year. Will I ever live to enjoy my cruise?
    See ya Jean my friend. Maybe I'm just crazy for today. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Paul, I sincerely believe the tide is finally turning and over the next few years we'll see the power of the NRA lobby weaken. A dozen businesses like hotel chains, airlines, and credit cards companies have announced they will no long be giving discounts to NRA members. Several news shows have shown clips of men turning their guns into police stations or sawing them up. Didn't see any of this stuff happening with the other mass shootings. These kids in Florida are starting a movement called 'Never Again' that is spreading like wild fire and they will all be of voting age by the next election. They and the 'Me too Movement' give me a great deal of hope for the future. All it takes to turn this country around is for more people to tune into what is going on with our lawmakers and vote them in or out according to their desire to do what if right for our country instead of their party or strong lobbying groups. All of the most important changes in our society have been led by the youth---Stopping the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, Women's Rights, etc. I think there is less reason to worry today than we had last month. Trump is digging his own hole by siding with the NRA and his continued denial of all things Russian. This country will look differently in two years.

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  4. Jean:

    Every time there is school shooting we feel now this will change things in DC, but nothing happens, NRA lobbyists are very powerful & all these politicians want funding to get reelected. Marco rubio came on CNN townhall debate but did not have balls to say he will not take any funding from them, so that he will have guts to do right thing for people. I really pray this young kids in Florida HS keep the movement strong & hopefully no other newsworthy crisis come in between so that media can still stay interested in the movement & keep the issue alive

    Asha

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    1. I personally haven't thought things would change since Newtown. When that tragedy didn't cut the partisan BS I figured nothing would. But this time, the activism going on feels a lot different. I truly think the tide is changing. We have to get Citizens United overturned so powerful lobbies like the NRA and phama can no longer buy the House and Senate.

      I give credit to Marco Rubio for at least showing up to the CNN town hall. The state governor and Trump refused an invitation. But he let everyone know that the NRA has him bought and paid for, no matter how he tried to dance around it.

      Boy, isn't your last sentence true! People forget so quickly. At least the 'Never Again' march will be coming up in March. The kids involved in that movement are so social media savvy. My money is on them making a real difference where the parent groups after other mass murders couldn't. All the activism groups are partnering as well.

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  5. I love humor! Most kinds any way. I love it when I can laugh out loud! Changes the whole mood.

    I believe in the "right" to own guns ... but for target practice or hunting. Who needs automatic weapons except the military (and maybe if they didn't, war might be way different ....) The USA has quite a few very very powerful organizations and unions. They are all scary to me! I just don't have a clear plan with which to answer the gun control issue. I like the plan Japan has!

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    1. Belly laughs are the best!

      There are several countries who have better gun laws than we do...Australia being one of them. No one has all the answers but we as a country are WAY overdue to hash out the issue and come to a fair compromise. I don't know anyone or group who wants to take all guns away, me included and I agree that no one outside of the military needs weapons of war in their collection of guns. The AK-15 have become the weapon of choice for mass murderers.

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  6. Thank you for speaking out against false news. I agree that it is important to raise one's voice against wrong doings. The Rs should speak out strongly, if they disagree with their party - but they do not. I generally find the Rs muted response mealy-mouthed.

    #45 speeches evoke, for me, what I have read about Nazi Germany, Hitler's rise, anti-semitism, etc. In the current gun debate, I found the open proclamation of universities that their assessment of students' applications would not include students' participation in rallies, protests etc (peaceful activism, of course) wonderful and faith-affirming.

    From afar, it is scary watching a country being hijacked, Hitler-style. I think: it could happen here. And I DON'T want that. ~ Libby

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    1. Abby, if someone has told me before Trump was elected that a person could almost single-highhandedly turn so people against the press and pit groups against each other Hilter-style I wouldn't have believed it could happen again, after what happened in Germany. That's what Hilter did first was denounce the free press and replace it with his own propaganda machine and no one spoke up. Of course, they didn't have the social media we have so it might be hard for history to repeat itself as long as the internet is still working. Which is scary, too, since we are losing net-neutrally soon but that’s another debate for another day.

      I just saw that on the news today about the universities coming out with statements effectively supporting the coming demonstrations (if peaceful) that are planned but the Florida students and other across the country by saying it won't be counted against applicants, even if their local schools puts it on their records as detentions for missing classes. It never occurred to me that students would be risking that to take part in the 'Never Again' marches.

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  7. So, today you have a personal AND a life-style blog. Neat.

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  8. An excellent website: https://theweeklylist.org/

    Every week , updates. Documenting all the lies and other crap that happened the past week. Book form coming soon.

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    1. Wow, thanks for the resource! I've bookmarked it and will check it out more thoroughly when I have time.

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  9. Teens, when they are motivated to organize, are a powerful force. I learned that in 30 years of highschool teaching. And being told No by the Adults (remember when they were called The Establishment? History is repeating itself!) only makes them dig in harder.

    I am guardedly optimistic, just like I am about Mueller's work.

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    1. I'm been impressed by the kids in Florida and I agree with what you've saying 100%. But they are still operating under the angry phase of grief and in a few months when a different phase of grief hits it will remind to be seen if they'll be able to sustain the passion they've got going now that is moving their organizing forward. Either way, I'm also guardedly optimistic that real change is coming. I was reading an article last night in the W.P. about the governor's conference and more and more governors are flipping on the issue of stronger gun control.

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  10. I can't even express the degree of outrage and sorrow I feel about the gun lobby, the many shootings, the vitriol hurled at victims. And I am so incredibly heartened by the Parkland kids and see that there may be hope for the future after all. I actually love the idea of giving myself a break and "following" those kids' lead. I'm with them.

    Humor is a funny thing... (hahaha get it?) I mean funny/strange. What makes some guffaw and others groan. I like intelligent humor that looks at life askance and provides a prod to see things differently. What I'm noticing lately is that the political humor shows I used to love (Daily Show, Samantha Bee Full Frontal, John Oliver, some of the network late night guys) don't make me laugh out loud very often anymore. What's happening to our country, even when referred to with humor and irony, just isn't all that funny to me. Maybe I'm overloaded.

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    1. The kids are amazing. I do worry about them, though. They are operating on shock and anger and really haven't processed their grief yet. When they, they are going to suffer. But I see all the groups that have formed after all the shootings coming together because of the parkland kids and I'm hopeful meaningful changes are coming...

      I think the trouble with late night comedy, now, is the topics are so serious underneath the jokes. Our country is in crisis. I'm not blaming them, but we're all playing by new rules in the Trump era. Even writing a blog, I just can't always write posts that was light and breezy when my heart isn't in it like with the mass killings dominating the news. If some people quit reading here, I guess that's the price I have to pay for being true to my own thoughts and concerns in the world.

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    2. Agree. It's VERY difficult to "write funny" when my heart is heavy with the shock of the world and our political situation. I'm going to make a concerted effort to move my mind away from politics more often. I feel it's a 95% of the time preoccupation wth all my reading, ruminating, and activism activities. I notice I'm getting fewer and fewer interactions on my Facebook posts. People must be sick of me/politics. I get that. I just feel it's so incredibly to stay engaged...but maybe I'm alienating too many, as you say about wondering if people will abandon your blog (they won't; you write about lots more than politics.) And yet, yes, it's important to be true to our concerns for those concerns reflect our deepest values.

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    3. I think few and few people are going to FaceBook period. I rarely post politics or controversial stuff there but even my dog videos and Mr. Rogers videos aren't getting any likes.

      I do think we need breaks from activism. It's stressful and time consuming BUT I'm actually seeing cracks in places we need to see cracks so we can't quit now.

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  11. I suspect Marco Rubio has a better idea than the Prez, of how deep this anger has become among Americans who are appalled at our government's lack of effective action on gun control. That's all I'll say in Rubio's "over 2000 models of gun that can become what we commonly think of as assault weapons simply by adding or removing the plastic handle" that provides the shooter with more control so they can shoot faster.

    M-16's and AR-15's are the same gun, just different models of each. A semi-automatic weapon is called that because it reloads itself, not because it shoots repeatedly by itself. The trigger has to be pulled each time, but with the re-loading going on automatically, it can be fired very rapidly. They gotta go! Who really needs one of those? NOBODY! Gun sales will be hurt? Too damn bad.

    Gun sellers who sell to any young male should be very, very cautious, so they bear some of the responsibility too. But the NRA, which started out as an education and safety organization has become way too powerful politically.

    I have a Twitter account and I think it's more effective than Facebook, so I'll be educating myself on how to use that platform more effectively.


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    1. Twitter would be more effective than Facebook plus you don't have to mix family and friends with your political views which saves a lot of grief in my opinion.

      I think Rubio was trying to make a good point about the "2,000 models." I hear that all the time at political debate sites but we've got to start somewhere and he really blew it with song and dance about the support and money he gets from the NRA.

      It was encouraging today to hear that Dicks Sporting chain who also owns Field & Stream stores will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21 and will remove all assault style weapons from their stock. Maybe more retailers will follow suit. But only the lawmakers can close the gun show and mail order sales loop holes and that's a really part of the solution to the gun problem we have.

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  12. Bell-bottoms went out of style?? LOL, I tend to wear my clothes for decades, so I may still have some in my closet. -JeanP

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    1. I also have a pair in my closet but they haven't fit me in decades. I have kept an icon style outfit from each decade of my life. The bell bottoms and tunic that match are truly my all-time favorite outfit of my life.

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