When my 16-year-old son Aaron — who has naturally orange hair and whose favorite color is orange — was about seven years old, his elementary school put on a talent show. Aaron did stand-up comedy, for the first time in his career (for a more recent appearance, see here).
I can’t recall Aaron’s entire routine (I have it on tape SOMEWHERE), but I do remember it included several knock-knock jokes, which he did not write.* The following knock-knock joke was part of his routine (and perhaps you’ve heard this one):
Aaron: Knock knock.
Audience: Who’s there?
Audience: Banana who?
Aaron: Knock knock.
Audience: Who’s there?
Audience: Banana who?
Aaron: Knock knock.
Audience: Who’s there?
Audience: Banana who?
Aaron: Knock knock.
Audience: Who’s there?
Audience: Orange who?
Aaron: Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
Orange you glad I’m writing a post about “orange”?
Orange you wondering why I’m writing this today? Whether you’re wondering, orange you assuming I’m going to tell you?
I’m writing this post today because:
Orange is a major color of fall/autumn, around these parts.
Somebody in a therapy session, yesterday, who is working on separating herself from toxic family members, quoted something a friend told her:
Expecting anything different and healthy from your family is like going to the hardware store and expecting to buy oranges.
Orange you aware that I probably have lots of photos on my iPhone with the color orange in them?
That last photo shows some needlepoint by my late mother.
Orange I grateful for the family I have?
Finally, orange you wondering about anything in this post? If you are, please knock-knock for an answer.
Thanks to orange people and orange things, everywhere, and to you — of course! — for all the colors you bring, today.
* By the way, Aaron did write his own knock-knock joke, soon after that. It went like this:
Me: How did you know, Jeff? He’s in the on-deck circle, and will appear, in a way, in tomorrow’s post.
Jeff: I wish I could see. No Yanks-Sox on TV here in VA. But I’m still all teary-eyed about last night’s game. That guy has meant a lot to the boy in me who still gets a thrill playing shortstop on my company softball team six months a year. Can’t wait to hear your take on #2.
I have one assignment for myself this weekend, to help me move forward. I want to send a card to Walter Gamble, M.D., who was my cardiologist during my time at Children’s Hospital, from the 1960’s through the 1970’s. Dr. Estes, one of my current cardiologists, told me recently he saw Dr. Gamble at a funeral of a colleague. I am moved to share, now, the exchange I had with Dr. Estes, about that:
Dr. Estes: I saw Walter Gamble and I mentioned you. He remembered you, Ann! Can you believe that? All those years ago!
Me: Of course I believe that. Don’t you think I’m memorable?
Actually, I was moved to contact Dr. Gamble before, when I found — in my old records from Children’s Hospital — an empathically moving letter about me, from him, to another doctor. Soon after that, I sent Dr. Gamble an email which — I now assume — did not move to the right location.
Now, thanks to Dr. Estes, I have accurate information, so I can move forward in contacting Dr. Gamble. Here’s what I’ve done, so far:
Now, when you look at all those smudged letters in that second photo, you might think I was moved to tears while writing that.
Nope. It was just my left hand, moving a pen across a laminated surface. I’m sure I can find a more moving card to send, today.
Thanks to Jeff Schwaner, Derek Jeter, Walter Gamble, Mark Estes, and to others who have moved me, as they’ve moved along themselves. And thanks to you — of course! — for moving, here and now.
Last night, I facilitated a therapy group where people focused on the cognitive distortion of labeling (a/k/a name-calling):
Labeling or Name-calling.
We generate negative global judgments based on little evidence. Instead of accepting errors as inevitable, we attach an unhealthy label to ourselves or others. For example, you make a mistake and call yourself a “loser,” a “failure”, or an “idiot.” Labels are not only self-defeating, they are irrational, simplistic, and untrue. Human beings are complex and fallible, and in truth cannot be reduced to a label. Consider this: we all breathe, but would it make sense to refer to ourselves as “Breathers”?
The group did some great work letting go of negative, unhelpful labels.
I was so inspired by the group that, when I got home, I decided to let go my own labeling and name-calling, took a deep breath, and created another video of me singing.
This time, I really went all out, indulging a long-standing fantasy:
Now, some people (including me, at other times) might call that video lame. Why? Because:
It’s REALLY long. That song goes on for over eight minutes.
The sound quality sucks. I mean, I was playing Pat Metheny’s Third Wind on my laptop’s speakers and recording the video with my phone. Granted, I did record it in the one room in our place with better acoustics, but — for people with acute hearing and a well-honed critical sense of music — it might be painful.
It’s recorded in the bathroom (also labeled the water closet, the loo, and many other names, in other countries). I mean, how lame is THAT?
The visuals are very clichéd. I mean … ANOTHER CAT VIDEO??!!! Aren’t there enough of THOSE posted on YouTube?
I did only one practice run-through, singing along to Armando Marcal‘s wonderful vocalizations for that fabulous, multiple time-changing tune and — believe me — I can hear how much better it could have been.
My hand-held camera/phone-work might make you nauseous . As a matter of fact, after I posted that on YouTube, I got this message: “We detected your video may be shaky. Would you like us to stabilize it?” Even YouTube, which probably gets a lot of lame videos, labeled MY video “shaky!”
Anyway, what other kinds of visuals and/or sounds can I offer you today?
Here are some photos I snapped recently, which might fit today’s topic, too.
How lame are those things I saw in a pet store?
And how lame is it that the Red Sox went from winning the World Series last year to last place?
Also, here’s a version of Third Wind from YouTube that is the opposite of lame.
What do you think about the highs and lows here today?
Thanks to the people at my therapy group last night; to Pat Metheny, Armando Marcal, Pedro Aznar, and all the other amazing musicians performing on Third Wind; to Oscar the cat; to animals doing their best at pet stores; to the Red Sox; to Eric Wilbur; and to you — of course! — for letting go of any unhelpful labeling and self-judgment, today.
My high school Chemistry teacher, Mrs. O’Keefe, would often say to me, in class, “Ann, are you confused?” And I would reply, “No, this is my natural expression.”
Actually, no matter what the intention of my snappy answer to Mrs. O’Keefe, I think I often do look confused, befuddled, baffled, nonplussed, and otherwise mixed up.
I ASSUME I look that way. As I’ve written here, we really don’t know what we look like, to the outside world.
However, I’m guessing that I can look quite confused, befuddled, baffled, nonplussed, and otherwise mixed up because … that’s how I’m feeling. I felt that way in Chemistry Class, for sure, and even now, I can look around me, and be mixed up by what I see.
Speaking of mixed up, I often notice anagrams — which mix up letters — when I look at words.
For example, I noticed some anagrams yesterday morning, while I was preparing breakfast.
See? “Chai” (the flavoring for my oatmeal) and “Chia” both use the same four letters, mixed up.
I mention this, not just to (1) brag about my ability to see anagrams and (2) brag about how healthy my breakfast was yesterday, but also as an excuse to share another Michael Brecker tune — Anagram — which I was happy to hear yesterday, on one of my to and fro walks, near work.
Oh no! I can’t find a video of Michael Brecker’s Anagram, anywhere! Now, I’m befuddled and confused about how to proceed with this post. I mean, the whole premise of the last few paragraphs has fallen apart! What to do?
Well, I COULD show you, instead, this “doctoral recital performance” of Anagram, found here at YouTube):
I am a little mixed up, now, by the concept of a “doctoral recital performance.” I guess that means that somebody involved in that YouTube performance was actually earning a doctorate! That sounds quite classy, to me.
I was going to say “PhD” instead of “doctorate” in that previous paragraph, but PhD would mean a doctorate in Philosophy, so I’m obviously … mixed up. What would a Musical Doctorate be called? It must be …
No, wait. That’s another kind of doctor.
Anyway, here are more mixed up thoughts, from me, about a Musical Doctorate (however it’s abbreviated). Even though I went to school for jazz piano at Berklee for two summers (soon after Mrs. O’Keefe was telling me how confused I looked), it never occurred to me, before today, that somebody could earn a doctorate with a musical performance.
Maybe, if I ever get brave enough to do some open mic singing that’s at a doctoral level of excellence … you’ll have to start calling me Doctor Koplow! I would definitely be nonplussed, by that.
Actually, sometimes when people call my number at work to make psychotherapy appointments, they call me Dr. Koplow. I guess they get confused, befuddled, etc. because I work within the primary care practice, where most of the treaters are MD’s and called “Doctor” (of course). (I always correct them as soon as I can, and invite them to call me “Ann.”)
Hmmm. Have I succeeded in confusing, baffling, nonplussing, or otherwise mixing up my readers, in this post?
If not, maybe I should try harder. It’s lonely to feel this confused, all by myself!
This might mix people up: When I was googling the internet for Anagram, by Michael Brecker, I saw this entry:
“There are LYRICS to THAT song?” I thought. “I’m confused!”
However, I was also intrigued.
That’s the other side of confusion, isn’t it? When something is new, different and/or unexpected, we might be baffled and bewildered, but we can be intrigued and interested, too.
Intrigued and interested, I just went to the MetroLyrics site (a place that sounds quite classy, to me), to discover what the Anagram lyrics might be.
Drat! That was a dead end.
These lyrics haven’t been entered yet. Please add them for us, if you know them.
I can’t add the lyrics, MetroLyrics! I DON’T KNOW THEM! I went to that site because I thought YOU knew something I didn’t.
No wonder I’m so confused, with all this baiting and switching going on, everywhere.
If you are baffled or befuddled by the phrase “bait and switch,” let’s see if I can clear that up, now.
Ooops! I’m so sorry, my dear readers. There’s been another mix up. I can’t find a good-enough definition of “bait and switch,” with the time I have today. The Urban Dictionary (does that sound classy, to you?) is the best I can do:
Bait and Switch
The policy used by Bell Mobility to get more money out of their customers. They will *bait* you in with offers of really good stuff, then switch the offers around behind your back, often with the excuse of “that was just a promotion” or “you must have changed it yourself”
Bell: We’ll give you this really good plan.
You: I’ll take it.
*bill arrives without the really good plan*
Yikes! Is everybody confused?
Good! Now I don’t feel so alone.
I have to say, I do feel considerably better when others are having a similar experience to me.
That’s what I witness in group therapy (like I did, yesterday, and I will, today, too).
However, confusion can be uncomfortable. Therefore, I will try to compensate for any befuddlement, confusion, bafflement, and mixed-up-ed-ness I may have caused you, today, by showing you more mixed-up photos I took, yesterday.
That’s something I found in my recently retrieved stash of nostalgic treasures (letters, cards, and other gifts from people in my life when I was young). Somebody gave me that book while I was in the hospital around age 10, dealing with a congenitally mixed-up heart.
I absolutely intended to include the photo of that book in yesterday’s post, called “The Dark.” However, I was too distracted, confused, and befuddled to do so. Why? Because while I was composing yesterday’s post, I was also getting myself and my son, Aaron, ready to go to his doctor’s office, because Aaron hasn’t been feeling well lately.
Here’s what I want to say, at this point: (1) It’s nothing serious (Aaron’s diagnosis was seasonal allergies) and (2) yesterday’s post was good enough without that photo.
I found this misplaced piece of greenery, yesterday, as Aaron and I were getting ready to leave for his doctor’s appointment. Obviously, somebody was confused, befuddled, and mixed up at that point. Would you care to guess who that was?
I drove Aaron to his doctor’s office, in nearby Somerville.
That’s Frank, who was also in the doctor’s waiting room, yesterday morning. I was — for just a moment — confused when Frank suddenly started talking to us, showing us YouTube videos of bulldogs, including one where a bulldog was jumping on a trampoline! Perhaps Frank had us mixed up with dog people. I definitely appreciated the distraction and Frank’s friendliness.
More photos from the doctor’s waiting room:
As I confessed to Aaron yesterday, sometimes I take photos to relieve anxiety. That helps center me, when I’m feeling mixed up. And not to mix things up here, with too many details (too late!), Aaron preferred to go into his appointment alone, so I had some time on my hands, in the waiting room.
After Aaron’s appointment, when I was feeling considerably relieved, I stopped to take this photo:
I told Aaron (who sometimes gets impatient when I take pictures for this blog), “I’m taking this photo because I really like it. I think that mixed-up combination of a tax accounting place and an astrologer is funny!”
After I took Aaron back home, I proceeded to work, and saw this:
I don’t know about you, but I found that confusing. Then, I saw this:
I was mixed up by that, also. Does that sign mean a Fenway Park tour is starting in 15 minutes or that the tour lasts 15 minutes? It’s probably the former meaning, but who knows? Maybe because the Red Sox are out of the pennant race this year, people aren’t that interested in hearing details about them, right now.
A few minutes later, I saw this:
I’m always interested in people, working or otherwise, so I stopped to look up. This is all I could see:
Again, I was confused and befuddled. Where were those working people?
Well, it’s time for me to end this post. My son, who still feels lousy — but well enough to go to school — just left for the day, and I’ve got to get ready for work.
Not to further confuse things, but I do need to ask myself this: what feels left unsaid for me, here and now?
Just this. You may have noticed that — despite my elaborate set-up regarding “Anagrams” — there were no more (conscious) anagrams in this post. Or, you may NOT have noticed that. However, I noticed it, and I was thinking
To make this post complete, I need to end with an anagram.
But I guess anagrams are not that easy for me to see. Darn it!
Then, I remembered a card, from my nostalgic stash that I may — or may not — have already included in this blog. (I’m still mixed up, aren’t I?)
While that isn’t a typical anagram, it works for me.
Thanks to my son, to my father, to mixed up people everywhere, and to you — of course! — for mixing it up with me here, today.
I’m going to start this post off with one of my favorite jazz tunes.
(YouTube video of “Stolen Moments” by Oliver Nelson found here)
Even if you have trouble stealing moments to play videos here, I recommend you listen to Stolen Moments, by Oliver Nelson. (If you can steal some more moments, look at the comments at YouTube.)
I’m sorry that YouTube starts that video with some advertising moments (which can feel stolen, to me, away from things I’d prefer doing).
All weekend, I’ve been stealing some moments away from other things I could be doing, in order to attend my 40th college reunion. Originally, I did not plan to attend the farewell Sunday brunch, yesterday, between 9:30 AM and noon, at one of the campus gyms. However, yesterday morning, I decided those would be stolen moments, well spent.
… I discovered I was at the wrong place! I thought
I could have thought
What’s the matter with me?
but having any self-judgmental thoughts, at that point, would have been wasted, stolen moments. Instead, I relearned a momentous lesson: it’s okay to be lost and it’s okay to be late.
And here are some moments I stole, on my way to the right place:
When I found the right place for the brunch I thought, “Well, that’s perfect.”
Each moment we experience is stolen, in a way, don’t you think? (whether we feel lost or found)
Before I had left the house, yesterday morning, I had decided to bring along the big Class of 1974 Report, so I could ask classmates to sign it, during the farewell brunch.
I wonder, now, if any of them thought I was stealing moments away from them …from something else they’d rather be doing. In any case, everybody I asked was gracious enough to sign my Class Report. Here’s one example:
Between 10 and 11:30 AM, yesterday, I spent many moments, stolen and otherwise, with people from my class. I saw people I knew:
… and people that seemed new to me, yesterday.
That’s Edith, who grew up in Arlingon, MA, telling me lots of interesting things about that town (which has appeared in many of my previous blog posts).
All of my stolen moments, spent yesterday morning, were valuable. Then, I said “goodbye” to my classmates, and managed to steal some moments to see my favorite musical with two of my favorite guys.
In case I am stealing your moments, right now, by not being clear enough about yesterday afternoon …. my son Aaron and my boyfriend Michael and I saw a production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” at Boston’s Lyric Stage. “Sweeney Todd” is tale about a barber, in Victorian England, who steals people’s lives, in revenge for time and other precious things being stolen, unfairly, from him.
I loved the production yesterday so much, I was moved to tears.
I could say moments I spent in the hospital, when I was a kid, were stolen from me, but I don’t know if that’s a helpful way to tell the story. Yesterday, I also found more cards and letters people sent to me, while I was in the hospital, including this, from my 8th grade math teacher:
Also, I found one of many cards my late father sent me, in the hospital.
That card was perfect, because
my cardiac pacemaker — which needed to be replaced so many times when I was young — was located in my abdomen and
as usual, my father didn’t sign his name, but rather included names of things and people I loved. (In that case, he signed the names of the cats I knew, at that time.)
Can I steal one more moment of your time before I end this post, and show you something I saw on a food shopping trip with Michael, yesterday evening?
Who’s chicken? Not I (nor anybody else in this post).
Thanks to courageous people everywhere and to you — of course! — for stealing some moments to be here, today.
My 40th year college reunion has been going on this weekend.
I’ve attended only two events, so far. One of the events I missed, unfortunately, was a panel discussion called The Eureka Moment!
Here are excerpts of an email I got, a few months ago, about The Eureka Moment!:
Dear Class of 1974,
We are putting together an unusual panel for one of the symposia at our Reunion and we need your help!
We’re calling it The Eureka Moment! It will consist of twelve to fifteen short talks by classmates in a format that is a cross between a mini TED talk (without visual aids) and Moth radio (“True stories told live”).
We are writing to invite you to submit your Eureka Moment!
Please submit your story idea by June 20, 2014.
The Eureka Moment! is an epiphany that changed your life, whether it’s meeting a special person, overcoming a challenge, or experiencing a life-changing event. It could have happened long ago or very recently; it could be funny, sad, or poignant; a big experience or a small one. The only rule is that the moment must spark a change in your outlook or approach to life. Sometimes the realization that you experienced the Eureka Moment! comes long after the moment occurred.
Your talk should be no more than 5 minutes, and we encourage you to rehearse on your own in advance. You can speak with notes, but please no off-the-cuff remarks.
Everyone has had a Eureka Moment! and the panel is open to anyone in our Class. We will have a selection process, so we can’t promise your story will be chosen. We will read whatever you submit with great interest.
When I received that email, I thought:
Eureka! I would be a valuable addition to that panel. Don’t I write about Eureka Moments! in my blog, almost every day? Also, I have (and I help people to have) Eureka Moments in my work as a group and individual psychotherapist, all the time!
I also had these thoughts, too:
I don’t know if I should bother applying. Even though I think I’ve had lots of valuable, worth-sharing Eureka Moments! … maybe the selection committee won’t agree! After all, there are many Very Important People in my class, whom they’ll probably choose over me. My application probably won’t be good enough. Also, how in the hell will I pick just one Eureka Moment, out of all the ones I’ve had in my life?! AND, if I apply and they don’t pick me, then I’ll have to deal with more Rejection, Schmejection (something I wrote about here and here) (and here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, too, apparently).
Eureka! I just realized that most of the negative and fearful thinking I had, above, are more examples of Fortune Telling, Mind Reading, Comparisons and several others of the thirteen cognitive distortions that don’t help me (or anybody else, I believe).
Here’s a photo of Lawry, taken by my 16-year-old son Aaron, at a reunion event we all attended last night:
I hope it’s okay with Lawry that I included that photo. If it’s not, I’m sure I’ll hear about it, since — Eureka!! — Lawry is very good at direct communication AND he reads all my blog posts.
Now, you may have noticed, if you’ve been reading this post carefully, that I did NOT attend The Eureka Moment! panel discussion, at my 40th college reunion. You might be thinking: that’s an example of sour grapes!
I don’t think it was sour grapes, on my part. Circumstances got in the way of my attending The Eureka Moment! … but I’m not sure I can prove that to you, right now.
Instead, I’ll just end this post by showing you a few more typical Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally Eureka Moments!
Eureka!! It’s time for me to end this post.
Thanks to my son, to Lawry, to everybody who planned and/or is attending my 40th college reunion, to people and places that contributed to the creation of this post, to those who are doing their best to let go of unhelpful thoughts, and to you — of course! — for having any Eureka Moments! of your own, today.