Laugh Your Way to Lower Stress

Posts tagged ‘humor’

How Not to Make Beer Vegan Cheese Soup

ImageBeer, vegan cheese, soup… what’s not to love, right? Not the way I made it two days ago. To help you avoiding wasting good ingredients and ending up with a sticky mess, I’ll share my recipe for disaster.

1.  Find recipe for soup and check fridge and cupboard for ingredients. Beer? Check. Sure, those three bottles have been in my refrigerator since 2013, but it’s still beer. Vegan cheese? Check. It’s not cheddar as called for in the recipe, but I’m sure pepper jack and nutritional yeast will work just fine, right? Everything is better with nutritional yeast. Flour? Got it. Dried mustard? Now they tell me. I do have some honey mustard in the fridge. Vegetable stock? Damn, I forgot to buy that last time I was at Everything We Sell is Wrapped in Plastic But We Still Pretend to Be a Healthy Place for Groceries (aka, Trader Joe’s). I’ll just add more beer.

2.  Follow recipe, using substitutions as necessary.

3.  Accidentally dump in 1/2 cup of flour instead of 1/4 cup. Try to scoop it out, but it’s wet, so leave most of it. The good news is, it’s self-rising flour, so maybe it will rise above the soup when it’s done.

4.  Stir everything together in pot on high heat because my 1965 GE stove has to start off on high in order to get going (kind of like it’s owner).

5.  Answer phone . Chat with friend for 5 minutes before realizing pot is still on high. Turn down heat and note that half of the mixture has already burnt to the bottom of the pan. That explains the smell, which is good because at least it’s not a stroke, which was my first thought.

6.  Talk for another 35 minutes about why men suck, occasionally stirring soup, which seems to go through three phases: too thin, nice and thick, and too thin with lumps that appear to be some kind of nutritional yeast dumplings.

7.  Hang up phone. Get 35-year-old hand-mixer out in an attempt to smooth out cheese lumps. Consider doing same to cellulite on thighs.

8.  Taste soup. Maybe despite being semi-burnt and lumpy, it will still be palatable because beer.

9.  Pour soup out.

10.  Spend 10 minutes washing cheese/yeast off beaters and scrubbing burnt goo from bottom of pan.

11.  Drink amaretto sour because beer is now all gone. Snack on remaining vegan pepper jack cheese and call it good.

12.  Serving size: One. You don’t want anyone else exposed to this mess.

What Men Need to Know about Menopause

If you’re a man reading this article, you’re either living with a menopausal woman or you hoping I’ll talk about sex. I will, but not in a way that will make you happy. Or hot. Know that going in.

Menopause isn’t pretty. I know. I’ve got the sweaty sheets and haggard, sleepless look to prove it. But it gets even uglier when men of the guy variety step in and try to fix it. For the love of all that is holy, if you don’t want to open the gates of hell, please heed my advice. You and the mood-swinging woman closest to you will be better off for it.

  • Look in the mirror. Do you have hair in your ears? Gray ones on your chest or among the pubes? Would you like her to bring that up at parties? Okay, than stop talking about her moustache. At least she keeps it trimmed.
  • Yes, you’ve been hot before. In fact, science tells us that there is only one temperature that doesn’t make most men sweat and most women run screaming for a sweater or a blanket with arms in it – 68 degrees. But you have never been “hotflash-hot” unless someone has set your testicles on fire and shoved them you-know-where. So when she says she’s burning up, do NOT respond with, “Now you know how I’ve felt for the past 27 years.”
  • After she flashes, she will be freezing. If you share a bed, you’d be better off using a sleeping bag on top of the fitted sheet so that you can rest comfortably while she throws off and then shivers beneath the covers. Although if you’re resting comfortably while she’s miserable, that may be a topic of conversation over coffee in the morning.
  • Unless you are a superhero who can transform into a giant popsicle and inject yourself into her chest for the 45 seconds-1 minute her hot flash lasts, you are worthless when it comes to offering workable solutions. So keep your suggestions to “Just open a damn window” or “Why don’t you take off your bra?” to yourself.
  • Speaking of sex, if you’re getting any, you’re lucky. She’s hot, she’s cold, she’s thought about hitting you in the head with a 2 x 4 and hasn’t done it. Yet. And she’s dry. Down there. We’re not talking the kind of dry that cheap flavored lube from the porn store will fix either. And there is not enough WD-40 to handle this job. The good news is that menopause may be the one time where quickies are actually the preferred form of sexual activity. So keep your mouth shut (a ball gag can help) and be grateful.
  • If intercourse is off the table (and the bed, the floor, the cat tower, etc.) and she offers up a BJ (which may be rare because when the estrogen goes, so does a lot of her caring about your needs), you’d better reciprocate with whatever she wants, even if it’s a two-week vacation to Antarctica with only her girlfriends. She’s got what’s left of your manhood in her mouth and she could swing from horny to homicidal in 2 seconds flat.
  • If you’re in the middle of an argument about anything from politics to pistachios, do NOT jokingly ask her if her bad mood might be hormone-related. Remember how well it worked when you tried to blame things on PMS? This will not go any better.
  • While “menopause” is defined as the day on which she hasn’t had a period for a year, the symptoms can show up as early as mid-40s during “perio-menopause” (Greek for “Well, aren’t I damned lucky?”) and last well into “post-menopause.” There are women who never stop hot-flashing and mood-swinging. Your 87-year-old aunt with the shotgun by the front door? Now you know why she’s always angry.
  • Be prepared for weeping. Not regular crying at things that are sad, but loud wailing and gushing tears that seem to spring up from an internal sprinkler system at the stupidest things. Cat food commercials, text messages from the dentist, Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”… all of these can start the waterworks. Even if she didn’t want any more children or never wanted any, the idea that she can’t have them now, combined with hormones stampeding through her brain and body, makes her really sad. If you want to empathize, imagine knowing that you could never have another erection. There you go. That’s what empathy is like. Use that a lot.

Well, I hope these tips help save your relationship and your man parts during the next 5 to 50 years of your life. I’d write more, but I’m so damned hot right now!


In Lieu of a Slap to the Head

I’m thinking of printing out cards that read, “You really deserve a slap to the head, but because society frowns on that, I give you this card instead.” A little poetry in lieu of poetic justice.

I’ll call these my STH (slap to head) cards.


I needed these yesterday when I was at a local grocery store that carries an equal mix of organic and conventional foods, and a woman asked me if I knew where the “other” grapes were as I looked at the organic ones. She then proudly said, “I don’t buy organic.” I replied, “But those are covered with poison,” to which she responded, “I have to die of something.” In my head, I continued with, “But what about the bees? And the other critters who drink the water full of toxins?! And the people downstream? And Casar Chavez?”

A telepathic environmental activist is what I am. Because saying this stuff out loud could lead to harder drugs, such as  keying people’s Humvees or tossing Chinese throwing stars in their general direction as they serpentine across the parking lot.


Also deserving of one my STH cards is anyone who says, “I don’t follow politics.” This is especially true if their response is to a statement such as, “We really need to do something to change the impact of humans on the earth” or “I sure hope no one takes away Social Security because I don’t know how I’ll survive on pension plan of a snarky wordsmith.”

Do they feel that being aware of issues beyond what type of lip gloss Iggy Azalea uses or whether the latest superhero movie holds up to the comic book requires too much effort? As if to “follow politics” they might actually have to physically follow the issues around, hopping a cab here, a Greyhound bus there, never knowing whether they’ll end up in Vegas or Muleshoe, Texas.

For them, my STH cards would be a substitute for my standing on a cruelty free, vegan, free-range soap box and yelling, “You don’t have to follow anything (except the 4000 people you stalk on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) to take an interest in the world at large. It’s a fascinating place out here. You should come take a look sometime. There are real goats and llamas too!”


Carly Fiorina, most of the female staff at Fox News, and any other woman who speaks out against equal pay for women, unfettered reproductive health care, or maternity leave should get an entire deck of cards. Come on, you’re packing a penis, right?

STH cards would help prevent me from hurling boxes of tampons at these women, yelling “Traitors!” and insisting they sit through the movie Beaches until their estrogen surged back to normal levels.


I clearly need to design these cards fast or take my chances of showing up in a real life Orange is the New Black situation.

Invading My Space


I’ll admit that I’m lousy at setting boundaries. Words come out of my mouth that in my mind make my desires or lack thereof clear, but what other people seem to hear is, “What you need to do is wheedle, and manipulate, and pressure me into changing my mind.”

And by other people, I mean mostly male people.

Wish-washy boundaries are why I ended up married to my last ex-husband, a man who proposed to me while he was in the bathtub! He could leave a ring around the tub, but I couldn’t draw a line in the sand. How sad is that?


My girlfriends all seem to understand that when I say something like , “I can’t be out after dark these days because my 16-year-old dog with Sundowner’s Syndrome gets freaked out and might have a seizure,” what I mean is “I don’t want to be out after dark because my dog is my family.”

Guys seem to hear, “I’d really like to come over and make you a sandwich, day or night.”

Case in point: I met a guy at a book signing event recently. We talked about writing and he asked me if I’d like to have coffee sometime. I assumed (wrongly, I now know) that he wanted to talk about writing with me, a writer–someone who could perhaps give him advice. I have these kinds of “meetings” all the time and am happy to share anything I know and learn new things. Hell, when you’re a writer, you’re always in search of new stories and stealing them from strangers is a great way to “do research.”

When this guy, let’s call him Kyle, sat down for our “meeting,” he immediately started talking about his ex-wife and then caught himself by saying, “Oh, I’m not supposed to talk about my ex, right?” Red flag, right? Still I managed to convince myself that he was just telling a funny story to break the ice and that soon we’d be chatting about how he’d like to write a screenplay about his ex and wondered whether I had any advice about doing that without a lawsuit or bonfire on the front lawn.

bad-dateBut no… He told me about his kids. Then asked if I had any. It was then I finally wised up. He. Thought. This. Was. A. Date.

I mentioned that I was working on a novel. Talked about writing jokes for the internet. Looked at my watch several times in a very obvious fashion. “Hey, Kyle, see, I’m looking at my watch. That’s a sign that I’m ready for this to be over.” I thought I was drawing a line. All he saw were flirtatious doodles.

Throughout our conversation, Kyle made it clear, he considered this to be the first of many “coffees and lunches.” I said I was really busy, that my schedule was unpredictable, that I could turn into a werewolf at any moment and should flee if he valued his life.

werewolf_woman___second_date_by_jrunsteen-d861rxsHe nodded and smiled and asked me why I hadn’t asked him any questions about his personal life. Because, Kyle, I’d rather have a Brazilian wax than give you any reason to think this might be a date.

I should mention, he was extremely loud. The woman at the table behind ours kept trying to move farther away. I wanted to get up and offer her my napkin to stuff in her ears.

Nothing phased him. Not my looking around the room at other customers and servers. Not my determining who owed what on the bill and paying my half as soon as the check came. Not my swift kick to the crotchal area. Okay, that last thing was just in my imagination.

I said goodbye to him at the door of the restaurant and he followed me to my car. I threw out eight or nine clear “I have to go” statements, to which he said we “had to get together again so I could help raise his consciousness.”

I’m sorry, is that my job now? I don’t know him from Adam and not only does he expect me to go out with him again, I have an assignment! Oh lucky me.

Fortunately, I have a friend who is good with setting boundaries — at least for other people. She helped me compose an e-mail and took out all the words that could possibly be misinterpreted. She said I should practice ways to say no for the next time this happens. I told her the last time someone asked me to coffee, I had practically screamed, “What do you want from me?” at him and was trying to be a little kinder.

But I’ve taken her advice and have been making a list of phrases I can use that might keep people from pushing past my boundaries:

o  I’d love to be caught in midnight fire at sea. (This is a Dorothy Parker quote, but might be too literate for many of the guys who come my way).

o  I ‘m sorry, but this vaginal dryness is really distracting. What did you say again?

o  Maybe later, but I’m performing a bris this afternoon. (I’d save this for the Jewish guys).

o  Republican leaders say the sexual orientation is a choice, so right now in this very moment, I’m choosing to be a lesbian.

o  My coven is going on a retreat for the next six months.

A 'coven of witches' line up for a Halloween portrait dressed in festive witch's hats and improvised costumes, ca.1910, United States. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

A ‘coven of witches’ line up for a Halloween portrait dressed in festive witch’s hats and improvised costumes, ca.1910, United States. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

o  I don’t date outside my species.

I’m hoping these help me out in the future. Feel free to use them if you need them.

Free at Last!

My most recent ex-husband called me last Saturday. Oh yay…

We’ve been divorced for 6 years, 7 months, 1 hour and 3 minutes (not that I’m counting) and for four of those years, he called me at least once a week. Several times from my driveway.

Divorce Party Joke

So when he phoned last summer to tell me he was moving 150 miles away, I was happier than Dakota Johnson when they finally wrapped up filming on 50 Shades of Grey and she could go back to living a life without handcuffs and safe words. Not to mention eating solid food again.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my ex isn’t a crazy stalker. It was just the oxycodone, anger issues, and gun ownership that made him SEEM crazy and inability to recognize a boundary even if I drew it in red Magic Marker on his palm that made him SEEM like a stalker. So yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder — of the single life.


He called to tell me that he was going in for surgery on a blocked artery and that he had removed me as his emergency contact person. The latter represents amazing growth on his part. He’s finally acknowledging that I am not going to cross often-snowy mountains in my Toyota Camry to hold his hand while he has a splinter removed from his knuckles or a balloon inflated in his neck. I’m not being mean here. In our less than 5-year marriage, I went with him to more than 150 doctors’ appointments. He’s a gun-toting, angry, pain med-addicted guy with hypochondria and weird sexual peccadilloes (isn’t that a great word?) — is it any wonder I fell for him? (Literally, as on our first real date, he rolled his Jeep with me in it down a mountain). I clearly needed a project. Perhaps I should have taken up clog dancing instead.

I’m not sure how people stay friends with their exes, especially if at one point in their lives they worried that their ex might shoot them. “I’m sorry you’re having health problems, but the idea that a little exertion might kill you is kind of a relief.” That’s probably not an appropriate thing to say, but how would I know? Clearly my penchant for niceness has gotten me into situations a smarter woman would have avoided by simply walking away from the overturned vehicle in the mountains.

The good news is, I don’t have to show up when he’s sick. The bad news is that I’m still his power of attorney, so I have to be there when he dies. I guess I’m okay with that.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to get his new phone number tattooed on my forearm, so I never accidentally pick up the phone when he calls again.

50 Shades of Embarrassment

If you’re thinking about testing the waters of BDSM, might I suggest you go for ice cream instead? As someone who has been there and done that and who now knows that BDSM means “bad decision, stupid moron,” let me fill in some blanks the movie 50 Shades of Gray conveniently left out:


1.  Handcuffs not only chafe, when your arms are bound above your head or behind your back, you will end up with a shoulder injury. Years later, you’ll have to lie and say you hurt yourself, uh, skiing;

2.  Clamps are for wood shop, not for nipples;

3.  The pleasure you get from pain is from it being over. If you really need to feel this, simply light a candle, put your hand in the flame and then remove it. You won’t need a contract for that.

4.  If you want someone who pressures, coerces, stalks, wheedles, whines, and bullies you and who shows up unannounced when you’re on the toilet or at work, borrow someone’s 2-year-old for the day. At least you know he/she will eventually grow up.

5.  Being told what to do in every aspect of your life is the job of drill sergeants in the Army… and no one thinks boot camp is sexy.

6.  If someone insists you don’t touch them during sex, they’re either psychologically damaged or they turned into a warty ogre the minute you were blindfolded. Either way, ewww!

7.  Anyone who spends more money on torture devices than flowers will always get you something you don’t want for Valentine’s Day, like a coupon for another piercing.

8.  If your ass is too sore from the spankings for you to sit comfortably, forget lounging and walk right out… now.

I had to learn these things the hard… and painful way. I hope you don’t have to.

Don’t Tell Me You Never Get Sick

If I have a cold (as I do now), when you tell me “I really never get sick,” I take that as an invitation to sneeze in your salad.

Come on, you know you gets colds and the flu as often as the rest of us even if you do run 10 miles a day, eat nothing but free-range organic vegan spices recommended by Dr. Oz to improve the immune system, and never go out in public without bagging your hands in Ziplocs.

What kind of weird human behavior is it to deny you ever get sick even as your nose starts to run and your voice becomes scratchier than a pubescent boy’s? I admit that I used to be this way myself, thinking I was stronger, faster, and smarter than the average virus. I hated seeing ads for commercials that promised to cut two days off a cold because that meant I had to admit I’d be sick for at least that long. But it turns out that I am human, hear me sneeze.


I’m not saying we should all milk the sniffles for all the tofu noodle soup and blankets we can get out of our friends and loved ones, but neither should we deny our own vulnerability. You can live a healthy life and take precautions (I myself have switched to fist-bumping instead of hand-shaking) and still come down with the common cold. If it wasn’t common, it would be called the “rare and unusual cold.”

So if I run into you in the cold remedy section in the drugstore, don’t try to pretend you’re just buying this stuff for a friend. The tissue hanging out of your pockets is a dead giveaway. Admitting you’re sick will make you feel better. It’s about the only thing that will.

It’s “History” because Women’s Clothes are Uncomfortable

I walked out of my high school history class one day because I was tired of learning about men and the wars they started and the countries they “discovered” by taking them from other people when they weren’t paying attention. If that’s “discovery,” then my sister discovered my clothes every week when we shared a room growing up together.

Even at the ripe old age of 16, I knew that if women made up half the population, they surely must have contributed something more to the world than birthing babies, tending to men’s battle wounds, and dressing up purty in whorehouses. But the Texas educational system surely did not want me to find out what those contributions were ‘cuz I might get uppity and refuse to bring my future husband a future beer.

Fast forward to today when I decide to take a break from digging up crabgrass in my yard, so I turn on the Discovery Channel, only to find a marathon about extraterrestials and how they may be behind most of the bright scientific and artistic minds throughout the ages… and every example of those bright scientific and artistic minds was male. This contrasts nicely with a printout on my desk right now from that highlights women who made remarkable scientific discoveries only to have them co-opted by men who decided he who has the testicles gets to win the Nobel Prize.

Other than men taking credit where none is due and men controlling the media for millenia, is there any other reason women don’t show up as history makers? I think there is: uncomfortable clothing.

Throughout history, women were in so much fashion-related pain, it was hard to remember where they lived, much less take over a government or develop a plan for landing on the moon. Yes, I realize that in the past men also occasionally dressed uncomfortably but most of the  painful outfits and accessories are saved for women. Think bustle so large women couldn’t sit down, corset laced so tightly that the act of breathing was as challenging as sucking a strawberry through a straw, girdle, hoop skirt, skinny jeans so tight it took a stick of butter to get them zipped, crinoline cage (that’s right, cage), thong panty, and 6″ stiletto heel (or as I call them, training stilts.)

Yes, it’s true that women have often chosen these stupid options for themselves, but most were invented by men and the media helped perpetuate the myth that the only way women could be considered feminine was to also be weak and unable to get from point A to point B without stabbing pain, likely heart attack, or scaring the horses. Even today in our so-called enlightened and more gender-equivalent society, the thing most women do when returning home from work or a social event is to strip off the Spanx and breathe and kick off the heels and slip into an actual shoe meant for walking.

If the members of one gender have been brainwashed to think that they must be uncomfortable at all times in order to be considered attractive and socially acceptable, they aren’t going to accomplish as much as if they were wearing, say, sweat pants and sneakers. There’s a reason Wendy Davis didn’t wear heels to deliver her filibuster in Texas: She knew that women with barking dogs don’t get anywhere.

The next time you go shopping for something pretty, ask yourself, “Can I run up the stairs of the Capitol building in this? Will I be so preoccupied by the pain it causes that within a few hours I’ll be dying to go home and put on my robe? Will it scare the horses or will it scare the men with whom I can now compete on an even and more comfortable playing field?”Image

The Importance of being Silly


I believe in silliness. Silliness makes the hard times easier to survive and is a pink and glittery punctuation mark to end average days and boring night. Silliness forces us to ask ourselves why we take everything so seriously and live with the consequences of the stress that results.

Some people struggle with being silly. It’s childish, they think, or it’s immature and should be left to those who don’t have real jobs or important things to do in life. What if, though, being silly and childlike is one of the important things to do? What if more of us were silly more often we created a world with less violence and fear and suffering? A world in which the positive energy created by kids and growns-up all forgetting their own egos and playing well together was contagious and changed everything for the better?

The best part is that silliness isn’t expensive or really all that scary once you take the plunge. All you really need is a few toys and a costume trunk (every adult needs a costume trunk!) And the courage not to care what anyone says or thinks. Remember, all the great minds were ridiculed and dismissed and if yours is covered by a pink wig or wearing a bra on the outside of her outfit, you will be too. The joy comes from knowing that even those people who become haters will be affected by your ebullience. Maybe not right away, but your silly self with worm its way deep into their souls some time down the road.

Silliness — changing lives for the better one playful act at a time.Image

It’s Not Your Call, Guys

This morning, I was with a group of men and women (2 men, 3 other women) talking about a female comedian who in her act mentions having lost a lot of weight in the past year. One of the guys insisted that she should have added, “…but I have more to lose” afterward.

Well, needless to say, all four of us womenfolk jumped on him. (Yes, it was great fun. No, he was not permanently injured).  Not only has this woman done an amazing thing by losing all that weight, she is NOT fat at this point in her journey. What she is pear-shaped and she carries more weight than apparently acceptable to some men. I myself am more starfruit shaped, which makes it tough finding undergarments.

The appropriate responses when someone says she’s lost over 100 lbs are one of the following: (1) You look fantastic; (2) You look hot; (3) I like you at any weight; (4) You deserve some chocolate; or (5) Well, you’ve got some amazing willpower; could you possibly run for Congress and show those guys how to get things done? The least appropriate response is: So how much more do you plan to use so you’ll be attractive to me?

As a woman who has never been either overweight or built like a model (I personally feel that a size 0 woman is dabbling in imaginary numbers and could accidentally disappear), I have never had to suffer the slings and arrows of insensitivity about weight. But it peeves me mightily (great name for a band, Peeves Me Mightily) when random men believe it is somehow their prerogative, or even duty, to comment on a woman’s size.

Here, for those of you who need it, is a list of the men whose opinions about a woman’s weight matters:

(1)  her doctor, but only if weight is a health issue;

(2) a man that woman is married to or dating, but only if weight concerns him from a health standpoint or stands in the way of their intimacy.

I know it is hard for some men (not all; there are many, many sensitive caring menfolk out there in the universe) to accept that women don’t have a duty to look good for you. When we get dressed in the morning or decide whether to eat another slice of pizza, we’re not thinking to ourselves, “I wonder if all men everywhere will find me attractive today.” We’ve got enough jobs already without having to worry whether we’re living up to every man’s standards–besides, what with the foot fetishists, the body art lovers, the furries, the guys obsessed with camel toe, the men who prefer no hair on any body part, the guys into grannies, those with red rooms of pain…ad nauseum, we couldn’t please you all if we tried.

I think I’m going to go have some cookies.Image