Friday, April 19, 2013


Like most Americans, I've had an emotional roller coaster of a week. There's been an awful lot of awful. I've gone back and forth, through shock, mourning, anger, helplessness, fascination, rage, grief, and the occasional smile at the spirit of us as a people to keep getting back up when we get knocked down. It's been hard.

I wanted to share my love and pain for the city of Boston. My mom grew up there, and I spent summers as a child there. I have family there. I love the city. I even made it my Main Character's home.

Then there is the tragic explosion in Texas. And the failure of Congress to pass legislation to regulate the sales of firearms. And a dozen other little things, some personal and some national, that have worn on me all week, to the point where I don't know whether to shit or go bowling, as Helper Monkey likes to say.

I've decided to go bowling. Not really, but I've decided I need a brain-breather. I've also decided I won't feel guilty about not being able to handle any more news right now. I just want five minutes that isn't about a tragedy. I need to smile for a few seconds right now.

To that end, here are a few funny telling snippets from my life. Maybe they'll give you a few seconds to smile, too.

Helper Monkey and I went to the grocery store today. On the way home, we were telling bad jokes. Like, How do you recognize a dogwood tree? By its bark. *insert rimshot here* This "joke" was met with derision rather than giggles, so I moved on.

A minute or two later, I told an ACTUALLY funny joke, which cracked me up so hard it apparently drove said funny thing out of my head forever. I'll ask Helper Monkey if he remembers what it was, so I can tell y'all. Until then, you'll have to pretend to laugh at the dogwood joke. Why is it always the best lines that evaporate into mental steam the moment you decide they'd make a great tweet?

Last week, Helper Monkey and I were watching Jeopardy! (remember, it's not spelled correctly without the bang!), and were incensed that none of the contestants could name the "alliterative Mongol leader." Because there were obviously so freaking many of them! Name all the Mongol leaders you can. I'll give you five seconds, and GO!

Right? I bet you got Genghis Khan, for sure. I really do hope you also knew Kublai Khan, as well. And lookie there! Alliteration! And that exhausted my knowledge of Mongol leaders. It's not like there are a confusing jumble of popular Khans to choose from. (shakes fist at sky, "KHAAAAAAAN")

In our indignation, we invented a brother for Kublai Khan. The outcast and rather reviled Kenny Khan, purveyor of dubious-quality second-hand yurts. He offers free valet yak parking, and is happy to toast your new home purchase with a cup of koumis. (Helper Monkey's dramatization of Kenny Khan was done, for reasons unknown, in a Brooklyn accent, but it was somehow funnier that way.)

(In case you don't know, a yurt is a portable tent-like home, and koumis is a common alcoholic drink in Mongolia, made from fermented mare's milk. You're welcome.)

Also, someone should reimagine the poem "Kublai Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (which is one of my favorites ever), as "Kenny Khan"

In Xanadu did Kenny Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree,
Where Ralph, the yak valet will run
through yurt-fields measureless to man
down to the Sunless C.

*I'd have to explain that the Sunless C is actually a yurt model guaranteed not to let in one bit of outside light, let alone rain water or the frigid sub-Siberian winds. It is their Number One Seller, after all! It's larger than the Sunless B, but lacks some of the luxury features of the Sunless D. Kenny's ad campaign bills it as "The Pleasure Dome of Family Yurts."

And now I've run out of smiles. If you'd like an extended distraction, please feel free to finish Kenny's story in poetry. If anyone takes me up on the challenge, I'd love to read the results.

Just remember, it's okay to want to look away for a while. We aren't obligated to torture ourselves, we aren't bad people for suffering 24-hour-news-cycle-fatigue. We all need to step away once in a while. I planned to write tonight. I think I need the distraction. I will not allow myself to feel that the rest of the world will fall apart (any more than it has already) if my eyeballs aren't glued to the news.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post! My husband & I actually dream of building a wooden yurt someday (they have awesome kits available) but we'll make sure to steer clear of Kenny!
    I am lucky to have some wise friends and one of them told me many years ago that none of us can ease the grief of another by feeling it along with them as this only doubles the sum of grief.
    That isn't to say that we shouldn't be sensitive and respectful, nor is it to say that we cannot feel our own grief. Rather, it nicely highlights the futility and even destructiveness of wallowing in vicarious grief. You said it succinctly, "We aren't obligated to torture ourselves..."
    Thank you for sharing some funny. I laughed aloud at the dogwood joke. :-)


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