I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. ~Woody Allen
It was pouring rain and we were downtown Austin at the Speakeasy. A folksy, country rock band of three; one on the guitar, one on the harmonica and the other dude on the bass were playing to a whooping crowd of five. It was my birthday and I was doing everything in excess, including laughing.My pal, Amy, is a fantastic storyteller. She’s a natural, not just on the dance floor where she’s got the swag goin on; but also on a barstool, where she had us all falling off our stools with stories of pilots who lock themselves in bathrooms, flight attendants who go postal and run down the aisles screaming, “We’re about to crash!” and kindergartners who make executive decisions to wash their hands in the water of a toilet bowl.
Amy is more entertaining and visually detailed than any prize-winning novel or award-winning film.This is why I invite her to all my parties. Pure and deliciously selfish…She makes me laugh. On a breezy dusk evening, a couple days before, I stumbled on an outdoor beer garden; whose tables were shaded by mighty Texas oaks and wisteria vines. The band had just finished and by the looks on the faces of the crowd, they'd been damn good. As a young woman was clearing the small stage, I noticed a stack of CDs for sale, a sign-up sheet for their mailing list and a cool black and white bumper sticker; evidently, their philosophical logo.
Instantly, the words shot straight to my soul and continued to other various regions of my body. “This has got to be my motto for 2012.”
“How much are these stickers?” I asked her. “They’re free.”Wow. They’re free.
Just like laughter.
Such a simplistic offering yet, packed with so much power-punch because the world according to tpg, is filled with confusing things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Things like hatred, war, poverty, cruelty, greed, veal…just to name a few. And how many excruciating moments have I lingered in hellish limbo attempting to process the “why’s?” Digging myself deep into wells of depression because of my inability to find fucking solutions to all these things that not only make no sense, but leave me frustrated, pissed off and sometimes, catatonic. And to think...All I had to do was laugh. Laugh until it all makes sense.
Now that’s something to mull over, my friends. And not only that, but it’s something that might outta be put into to practice ASAP! We need to laugh more, damn it. I mean when folks are laughing, they’re usually not killing each other, right?
For years, I’ve hung onto the thought that if I don’t get heavily (and emotionally) involved in every single struggle, problem or issue that pains me, then I have become complacent and thus, become part of the problem and not the solution. Hmmm...But now, I’m thinking that maybe I’ll just laugh about it; laugh about it, hard and wholly, until it all makes some sort of acceptable sense. I’m going for it for 2012! I feel as if I can do it with most issues and situations, 'cept maybe trips to the dentist.
Austin rocks y’all! I’ve been twice in this lifetime and I suspect third time will be a charm. It’s bright lights and clean sidewalks. It’s people who happily walk their dogs and clean up the poop. It's all kinds of families. It's parents who encourage their children to sell duct tape art. It’s yummy grub prepared and served daily out of shiny Airstreams. It’s where hemp burgers are called Janis Joplin burgers and live music bursts through every window, archway and sidewalk corner for miles and miles. There’s an abundance of rivers, neon-lights, boots and BBQ. And folks are friendly; Texas hospitality I’m told. They give lots of eye contact and I dig that.
If you’ve been scared shitless of Texas, like I once was, and have purposely kept your distance for fear of your life; fear no more. Austin is waiting for your liberal ass.
And there's lots of protests and marches. And y'all know I'm always down for a march.
But my friends, can you explain to me, please, why we’re having to march for women’s reproductive rights in 2012? This is beyond my fucking comprehension. Can they turn the hands of the clock back any further? But I cheered, whistled and marched along side my favorite Texas crones, who I adore more than life itself. These gals wore red, ‘cuz we're all seeing red, and they banged their pots and pans in front of the Capitol while handsome, young, white Texas “good ‘ole boys” made their way between us and up the steps to their big ‘ole Texas legislative desks. “Good morning y’all” Thea greeted them from her wheelchair.
“How y’all doin? We’re here for women’s rights, y’all.”
I met Thea last October when my gem-of-a-friend, Barbara, took me to New Braunfels, Texas for lunch and good conversation with her pals. I instantly fell in love with Thea. She has more stories than a field has Mustard-Weed. She told me of her "early days" marching in the late 1940’s down these streets of Austin; the very streets she’s marching, from her chair, today. In those days, 60+ years ago, she marched to protest The University of Texas’ policy of not admitting African American students. Thea is too cool for school and a role-model in every sense of the word. Her life is a precious example of speaking up for the voiceless, fighting for social justice and equality, and all the while, carrying her sword of kindness. She told me last week, on the steps of the Capitol, “I’ve been thinking about what I want people to remember me for. This kind of thinking happens when you get to be my age…I want to be remembered for “4 L’s” and they’re all intertwined:Listening is first. Loving. Learning. And finally, Laughter.” (There’s that word again; Slapping me across the side of the head.)
She went on and on and girl, can she go on! “There’s one thing I think I’m good at, and have been my whole life, and that’s loving people. And it’s so easy cuz look around; people are everywhere!”
Thea is one ball of big inspiration.
Everything in Texas is big. Big margaritas, big people, big hair, big Heritage Hogs, big guitar-sound, big smiles, big hearts. And now, I’m bringin home big laughter…And I wanna share it with y’all, my faithful readership, because I deserve it and you deserve it too. :)
Causes Valerie Fern Supports
AFRP (Animal Friends Rescue Project), POMDR (Peace of Mind Dog Rescue)
CWOB (Compassion Without Borders)
Bead For Life...