Please, Just Don’t

Forget about truth being stranger than fiction, truth is way funnier. It almost always is. And Jean Kerr wrote brilliantly about her truth as a mom. Originally a playwright, Kerr also wrote magazine essays. She parlayed those into books. And she sure had a keen talent for highlighting the laughter in the mundane. I like her style.

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Please Don’t Eat the Daisies was, for me, a perfect example of how our lives are the perfect material for any piece of art we have the desire to create. Whether it’s the feelings that accompany the varied life circumstances that are universal, or the cast of characters who are almost always by our sides (again, universally), a mom-writer will never be short of ideas if they look down about 20 inches to the nearest child.

The thing about humor writers like Betty Macdonald, Shirley Jackson, Erma Bombeck, and Jean Kerr is that they inspire me. For any woman desperately seeking time to mother, wife, and foster a writing career, these women modeled a way. They just took family-life experiences and mined them for gold.

Life is messy and parenting is tornado-level messy, but with quotes like these, I feel mollified when I must loudly proclaim things like, “Don’t lick the mirror!” Because, ew! And please, just don’t.

“The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.”

Truth? Yes indeedy.

Enjoying the books I’ve chosen in my Write 31 Days Challenge series of the Best Books Ever? Missed a few days? Click the button below!

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He Hits My Funny Bone

I’m from Florida. The best state EVER! I didn’t always feel that way, but I long for that earthly home now more than ever.

Vitamin D, where for art thou?

Sprinkled among the books in Nana’s bookshelves were one or two by a columnist that wrote for the Miami Herald – one of our local newspapers. He was funny.

He still is funny.

At the beach this summer, my poor family was subjected to my snort-laughs on more than one occasion as I reread You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty. 

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But my favorite, and it is an especially humorous reprieve from all from all of this political election nastiness, is Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway. Take this quote, for instance, because, uh-huh:

“The Constitution of the United States of America, Article V, Section 1: ‘There shall be a National Anthem containing incomprehensible words and a high note that normal humans cannot hit without risk of hernia.’ “

Pretty much.

And, I don’t know about hitting below the beltway, but this humor writer hits my funny bone every time.

If you’d like a little break from all of the political Facebookery and election-itis on the Twitter, pick up any Dave Barry book and prepare to laugh.

You’re welcome.

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In the Pits

Around the time I was eight or nine years old (I’m sure I’ve blocked the exact date out in my memory), I did something incredibly stupid. Wet socks snugly encasing my feet, I shimmied along the edge of the electric stove to get to the cupboard above it that held the Oreos. That same stove top had a pot of The Nana’s homemade spaghetti sauce boiling on it.

Yes.

Exactly what you are imagining could have happened, did.

And, in case you weren’t envisioning anything, I’ll give you the short version.

Girl wants cookies. Mother says she can’t have them before dinner. Girl’s mother goes next door to borrow more oregano. Girl, dripping in still-wet socks from playing out in the rain, lets desire for chocolate override all intelligence. Girl shimmies along, gets a shock and jumps up. On her descent literally and figuratively, girl’s foot catches handle of pot. Girl lands on kitchen floor bum-side-up and boiling sauce lands bum-side-down.

The next days are a blur, in my mind. I do, however, vividly remember ice baths and laying on a bed, bum-side-up, while there were daily “dressing” changes.

There was one silver lining to this incident.

Yes.

I got to sleep in the guest bedroom at the back of our ranch-style house, because it had a bathroom, en suite. This allowed me to shuffle the shortest amount of painful steps to the facilities each time I needed them.

But also? The guest bedroom is where the bookshelves were.

The bookshelves that housed all of my mother’s favorite books, books to be read, and cast-offs.

I got a glimpse into my mama’s mind.

And it started with being in the pits.

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If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries – What Am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck was my first taste of humor writing.

And it was delicious.

From there, I picked up anything I could find by this funny female. It wasn’t until college that I learned of her struggle to get published. It wasn’t until I hit the big 4-0 that I became brave enough to enter her writing competitions.

And, while I could choose about 30 quotes from Erma Bombeck, alone, the following is still the one that gets me every time.

“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food.”

Clearly, Erma got me.

Yes indeedy.

This post is part of my series, 31 Best Books Ever. I’ve joined in the Write 31 Days challenge. Click here to visit over there and see all of the topics people are writing about. Click the button below, or here, to see my previous posts. Happy reading!

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Day 3 Is Like a Walk in the…

Travel books don’t thrill me. Any book written about travel by Bill Bryson, however, does. He is able to communicate a feel for local culture (whichever culture that may be) in a way that makes you laugh out loud.

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A Walk in the Woods was my first read by Bryson and in it he shares his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail (all 2,100 miles of it!) with his friend, a recovering alcoholic. What ensues is hilarity. At the same time, I developed a deeper appreciation for the terrain of the Appalachian Trail while laughing through the various crisis they found themselves in.

From there, I gobbled up as many more of his books as I could, and as quickly as the magic land of Amazon would deliver them. Some of my favorites were: The Mother Tongue (English and How It Got That Way), Neither Here Nor There (Travels in Europe), In a Sunburned Country (Australia), A Short History of Nearly Everything, Made in America, and  I’m a Stranger Here Myself.

♥  A Walk in the Woods, though, delivers comic musings that make me laugh out loud so often that I could get through a chapter and my sides would hurt. One of my favorite lines is and was:

“Daniel Boone, who not only wrestled bears but tried to date their sisters, described corners of the southern Appalachians as “so wild and horrid that it is impossible to behold them without terror.”

If you cringe at a cuss word now and again, prepare yourself. If the crass imagining of happening upon multiple bears in a wooded area seems too much for you, this might not be the book for you. If sentences like the following offend you, pick up a different book:

“What is it with this town? I’ve blown more intelligent life into a handkerchief.”

But… if you would like to be reminded of what humanity shares in common (spoiler alert: the ability to laugh at ourselves) and how that transpires as one man sets out on a grand adventure…pick. this. up.

And if you do and enjoyed it, or if you read any of his other books and enjoyed, feel free to share in the comments. I’m always ready for a discussion of another book by this hilarious observer of people and places.

Day 2 for Some Irreverent Reverie

Short on pages, but long on funny, The Sacred Diary… series by Adrian Plass  is one of my favorites. He writes with an honesty and wit that I had never read before picking up my first book of his (The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4).

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Responding to the news that a new couple that he didn’t particularly enjoy wasn’t going to be able to join their Bible-study group one particular evening, he writes:

“Isn’t it WONDERFUL when something that was going to happen even though you didn’t really want it to happen but you thought it ought to happen because it was right, doesn’t happen after all, and it’s not your fault?”

After reading the above quote, I realized this humor writer was for me for a couple of reasons.

  • His tongue-in-cheek way of reporting what really goes on in the hearts of many of us humans was spot on
  • His irreverent humor made me laugh
  • He was brutally honest
  • I identified with the range of emotions he portrayed Christians going through in a single train of thought
  • His family relationships made me laugh
  •  I walked away from each book taking myself a little less seriously and God much more so
  • And, he made me laugh

Now, these books are written by an author who is British. Some of the humor is very… British. But, the candid way he captures our foibles and follies is hilarious and brilliant.

And, he will make you laugh.

Missed yesterday’s Write 31 Days’ Day 1 post? No worries – click the little button below and you’ll be whisked there. Tomorrow, I’ll dive into a memoir.

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A Laugh a Minute

Remember how I said a few days ago that sometimes grace equals time?

A truth that has borne itself out, here.

I had the pleasure of attending a special event last week that featured a “Keynote Speaker”.  The speaker introduced himself and shared that infamous line that kills the ears of audiences everywhere, “…and I hope I can make you laugh.”

Uh-oh.

I’ve learned that anytime someone tells you that they are going to be funny, they aren’t going to be funny.

There are times when I want to add a side of funny to whatever I’m writing. But, most times, the humor comes out in writing of the situation. Despite my best attempts to be All Serious.

Besides, jokes can take a while.

To come up with.

To find the right audience to share them with.

And then, there are the misfires.

Oh, so many misfires.

I took a goofy online quiz the other day that came up with the one word that people most use to describe you. (Goofy clue number one – website is called Brainfall.)

Hilarious.

I didn’t find that funny.

Because, the pressure!

Knowing that humor can be cultivated, I read a lot of it. For me, inspiration most often comes from some of my favorite Word Artists – Dave Barry, Jon Acuff, Anita Renfroe, Jean Kerr, Melanie Shankle & Sophie Hudson (because, they totally go together, right?!?) and Erma Bombeck. Just to name a few.

Read an autobiography, biography, or interview on any of these folks and you learn that their craft took time and mistakes. Even the most established of speakers and writers still slog their way through what does and doesn’t work. Both for the crafting of their message and for the audience that receives it. Many of them admit to making mistakes they wish would go the way of Y2K.

So, as I continue to refine what I write, I want to thank you for putting up with my “mistakes”. And for giving me feedback. And for encouraging me – some of you with your own writing! I’m feeling thankful for the grace YOU have given me in these few short years since I began writing here. It’s such a joy to write about the mishaps a’plenty and grace galore!

Just wanted you to know.

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This post is day 27 of the Write 31 Days challenge.

“I’m gonna make it after all.”

Decades and Celebrations

It’s Memorial Day.  You might have figured that out.

We’ve known for, oh… 74 days now, that Memorial Day was going to fall on a Monday.  And that meant, therefore, that there would be no school on that particular Monday.  And that made this guy, below here – deliriously happy!

No school? And a vacation day for daddy? And his birthday?

Could it get any better than that?

I think not.

Neither does he.

He_is_10_missindeedyTen years ago, today, this little guy struggled mightily to come into the world.  He brought smiles out with him.  He brings smiles with him, wherever he goes, even now.  His laugh is downright infectious.  His smile lights up a room (and our world).  He is caring and kind, and has a sense of humor that everyone gets a kick out of.

Most of all, though?

He is ours.

And we can’t believe that we are celebrating a decade of life with this handsome, quirky, smart, compassionate, and funny child.

Happy Birthday, Sweetboy!

We pray that God pours joy into your heart this year and draws you closer to His.

We love you so.

Yes indeedy!