I was born without a sense of humor. I am, however, very high-strung. Not a good combination. A few years ago, I decided that the key to managing stress in my life was humor. I just had to learn how to find the funny in life. It was helpful that my partner has a hair-triggered wit. Funny, clever things just fly out of her mouth. But there are different kinds of funny and hers is sometimes a little dark. So I starting reading every book by every funny writer I could get my hands on – the idea being that complete immersion might help even a hard case like me. It did. I grew a sense of humor. Not only can I laugh more often, sometimes, I can even make people laugh. Happy day.

My next t-shirt (via zazzle.com)

But I have to practice pretty regularly or it goes away. The following is part of an exercise I try sometimes as a tool for managing stress. I made a list of all the things I was worried about and then tried to write a funny version. Some of the tougher items never made the funny list but a few did. And if you’re honest, a few pretty stupid things will appear too, which is always fun. Anyway, it helped to change my mood.

Some of the things I worry about:

…that my partner sometimes talks about herself in the third person (and I can’t always tell if she’s joking).

…that #2 son seems to be experiencing a kind of school-induced narcolepsy which may someday lead to a permanent position at Burger King.

…that #3 son can play Minecraft for 6 hours straight without stopping to eat or to go to the bathroom.

…that #1 son might decide to get another enormous skull tattoo.

….that menopausal is my new normal.

…that global warming will flood my favorite vacation spot.

…that I won’t be able to stand the winters in Canada when we move there to escape the climate of intolerance in the US.

…that nobody will notice that pun.

…that Nintendo is putting out a new damn expensive game system.

…that our sons will decide not to have a Halloween party and I won’t get to decorate the house. (No fun without an audience.)

…that my computer might crash leaving me to deal with the real world without Facebook, email, Photoshop, or my blog.

…that my dogs get bored.

…that unless he learns to do his homework, #2 son will be living in our basement when he’s thirty spending all his time off from Burger King playing Dungeons & Dragons or video games with Friday-night interludes to watch movie classics like Jackass 2 with his big brother.

…that #3 son will be living in the basement with him.

…that they’ve already seen Jackass 2.

…that it made them laugh.

…that whether I’ll get skin cancer was probably determined by a sunburn I got in Ft. Lauderdale in 1977.

…that I really am a hoarder.

…that my IQ is inversely proportional to my age.

…that God is real and she’s pissed.

…that hip hop won’t die.

…that I’ll never own my own bookstore or little beach motel.

…that when I clean out my email inbox, I will find messages that I really should have responded to weeks ago (Happened this morning. My apologies to Catherine, Jennifer, my brother, Scott, and Daddy.)

…that one day, instead of washing the dishes, I will take them out in the driveway and smash them one by one against the concrete.

…that I am forgetting something important (often true).

…that if my short term memory and attention span keep deteriorating at the present rate, I’ll need a full-time keeper by the time I’m 50.

…that I’m going to think of something super-clever to put on this list after I’ve published it on my blog.

So what do you worry about? What would be on your list? How do you deal with stress?

Leave a comment


  1. Shannon Foy

     /  September 18, 2012

    You have a great sense of humor! You make me laugh all the time! We all worry. We are women. It’s our job. The pun was fabulous. There is less intolerance in Massachusetts and the winters aren’t as bad as Canada so I think you should consider it. Here are my current worries….
    That Isabel (dog) will develop bloat and die.
    That I’m screwing up Arthur (puppy) like I did Isabel.
    That my car will break down on my planned road trip.
    That I will be transporting a strange dog to his forever home when the car breaks down.
    That menopause will make me batshit crazy.
    That I’m already batshit crazy.
    That I have no idea what “inversely proportional” means.
    That I must have a low IQ.
    That in spite of the fact that I’ve read this over several times, I’ve spelled something wrong and I look like a moron.
    By the way, go smash the damn dishes if you want to! Then your family can use paper plates all the time and you won’t have to wash them. Save the coffee mugs though. You will regret smashing those.
    Excellent Post! Thanks for sharing it with us!

    • You’re awesome, cousin! I love your list! I think Isabel and Arthur are lucky to have such a cool mom, and my dogs are lucky that I have you to ask for advice. And it’s so cool that you’re giving that sweet dog a ride to his new home. How far is that drive? I will send happy thoughts to your car. (I’ve found that turning up the radio to drown out any suspicious car noise can ward off potential break-downs. Or at least keep you from worrying about it until it happens.) I hope you have a great trip and thanks for being my biggest cheerleader.
      PS Yes, I will save the coffee mugs! But if B gets a flat tire from dish rubble in the driveway, she might be unhappy with me.
      PPS You’re way too smart and witty to have a low IQ (at least until you’re my age and your mind starts to go).

  2. I love that you have a plan! When I get stressed, I eat. And eat and eat and eat. Not a very good plan at all.

    Have you read the recent books by Tina Fey and Ellen DeGeneres? http://wp.me/p1se8R-1H4 If not, I highly recommend them. I also enjoyed Kathy Griffin’s most recent memoir. I’ll send you my copy if you’d like to read it.

    • I also love to eat when I’m stressed. But I recently cut everything almost everything I like to eat out of my diet. And I’ve reinforced my new veganism with heavy doses of shame (at the way livestock animals are treated) effectively removing all the fun from eating. So now I have to rely more heavily on other stress relief methods (at least until I can make a salad as appealing in my mind as, say, a Hershey bar or big ole plate of buttery cheesy pasta).

      I love Tina Fey and Ellen! And Kathy Griffin’s pretty darn funny too. That’s a great idea. And thank you for your offer! But I have a pretty hefty credit at my favorite used bookstore and I love having new books to hunt for so let me check there first. I think I will go today in honor of your excellent suggestion.

  3. David

     /  September 18, 2012

    Perfect. Except the hip-hop part. It’s a permanent part of the culture now.

    I’m off to the tattoo parlour.


    • Thanks, #1 son! Sorry about the hip-hop crack. I was baiting you. And now you’re baiting me. (Right?!) 😮 (I think that was only my second emoticon ever. And I made it just for you.)

  4. Paul J. Stam

     /  September 18, 2012

    Damn, but humor is a hard roe to hoe, for me, not for you. You and the comments have kept me smiling. Thanks.

  5. Oh I don’t believe that you were born without humor. You probably just suppressed it. Kept your light under a bushel as it were.

    What do I stress out about? That some day nobody will laugh when I’m joking and will laugh when I’m being serious.

    As for stresses, the late Paul Newman had a classic one: He worried that his gravestone would say “Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure when his eyes suddenly turned brown.”

    • Funny. The things you worry about used to happen to me all the time – until I found my light under that bushel (and I swear it didn’t put it there). Seriously, I was the dark, intense type until I studied at the feet of British masters like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Now I can manage mildly amusing at times.

      Poor Paul. Ever see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Even if your not a Tennessee Williams fan, it’s worth it just to gaze into two of the most stunning set of blue eyes ever made. (Liz Taylor was at her most breath-taking.) I guess it’s a good thing my eyes have always been brown.

  6. Dang, I wish I’d thought of this. My stresses are too numerous to mention, my reliefs illegal and off limits now that I’m responsible for others. Because of them, my joys are innumerable as well, though, so I guess it all evens out!

    • I would love to read about your worries, Struggler! Even just your comment here, made my partner snicker gleefully. (Whereas, she read my post with a straight face, smiled pleasantly when she was done, and said, “That was very nice, sweetheart.”) You’re right about the joys, though. I really have no right to complain. I just enjoy it too much to give it up.

  7. “that hip hop won’t die.” That one keeps me up at night.

  8. Hahahah! That was fantastic. 🙂 Does your partner do what my guy does, in my bizarre / random worrying sessions, and give you “that look”?

    • I kind of wish she would. But since my partner is a woman, we tend to take turns trying to out-worry each other. Right now, she is winning, so she does give me these deadly looks when I try to make jokes about it. Does that count?

      • Hahah!!! Oh that’s great… I didn’t think about that — being both females, with the out-worrying factor. Although we’re a male/female relationship, we’re both VIRGOS. So it’s quite nearly the same. The drama! The drama!

  9. Stacie Chadwick

     /  September 19, 2012

    Your post made me laugh =)

  10. Funny! When I think of the things I worry about, I can’t think of anything funny or how to spin it into anything funny. I just eat ice cream. And then I worry that I eat too much ice cream….

    • I used to do the ice cream approach too! Also with chocolate, cookies and chips. Then I gave up all those things and now my life is sad. Unless I create a little fun outside of food. I have to really think about these things to figure out how to spin them. I’m never going to be one of those witty-things-fly-out-of-my-mouth people like my partner. I need time to ponder. And even with time, I still have a whole list of things that never made the funny list.

      I can’t wait until tomorrow. It’s my dairy cheat day and I’m going to have ice cream!

  11. I think your sense of humor is just fine by the way! I worry about the dumbest, stupidest things at times. For instance, did I put the garage door down, did I put the toliet seat down (selling the house right now), for some reason I do not think about it it has been flushed – ewww, – weird things like that is what I worry about. Have a Great Day:)


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