Here’s to laughter.
Plus, my sister and some other really awesome comedians along with a determined filmmaker are working night and day to make this happen.
Check it out and become a part of it before it ends.
Here’s to laughter.
Plus, my sister and some other really awesome comedians along with a determined filmmaker are working night and day to make this happen.
Check it out and become a part of it before it ends.
Seeing her face plastered all over the news brought me right back here. I wrote about my sister, Jill Michele Melean, who’s also a comedian and actress like Joan Rivers. When they met, it was magnetic. My sister never forgot her time with Joan because it was genuine. Experiencing authenticity in Los Angeles tends to be a rare event.
When she gripped Joan’s hand when appearing on Fashion Police, my sister felt the energy of an Olympic Torch being passed to her. This is what I mean. Being a comedian in Los Angeles, let alone being a woman comedian anywhere, takes guts and resilience. When Joan and Jill connected, it set off fiery sparks that ignite when two people walk the sam plateau.
Whenever my sister felt down, she remembered Joan and steadied her shaky footing.
That’s what our heroes give us. That’s why they live on.
Read more at Woman of Steel Uses Laughter as Weapon.
And, we got it.
We were the clowns in Slava’s Snow Show.
It all began with a noose hanging around his neck, which he only feigned to tighten. He was the single clown who wore a bright-yellow jumpsuit making him look like he had the body of a frumpy muppet.
As he glanced to his right, another clown walked onto the stage dragging his own noose around his neck.
When they saw each other, the performance began.
Isn’t that me? And, you?
On the verge….
Then we connect and lose ourselves in a quiet dance.
I watched the foolishness, the silly adventures, the dramas, and finally understood who I am, who we all are in the blogging world. For the last few months, I’ve pondered my blog. What’s the purpose of it really?
Am I inspiring you to be brave, smart, and bold? How can I do this better, differently? Why don’t you stop by more often? Why don’t you like me more? What would other bloggers want to read? What would anyone want to read? And, why?
So, I wrote a bit, but mostly I read your blogs, hoping to gain insight into what you want, to find a secret trick to gaining your interest. I wanted to draw you in and connect with you. But, I still didn’t “get” it.
Then, there I was last night, watching Slava’s Snow Show and everything emerged in a wild clown drama on a paper snow-filled stage.
We blog to write to read to love to remember to show to dazzle to cry to rage to surrender to melt to rebound to bounce.
We are clowns so sad, awkward, funny, ridiculous, and proud.
We conjure up a makeshift ship in the middle of a stage and one of us pretends to be a shark while the others sail on. We step into the imaginary ocean and reveal each other for who we really are: clowns.
We sweep up our messes only to get our hand caught in a spider web that suddenly sticks to all of our fingertips scattering to an obscure audience that pulls it apart and tosses it to the floor.
We need intermission to rest.
Then we regenerate and find that someone shot arrows through our heart. We struggle and find it was our best friend, again. We hurt each other.
We freak out. A crazy clown sitting next to a tilted table, we scream then fall. Everything goes black.
Then one of us is knitting and rocking in a chair in the corner. Madness.
We pack our bags and travel.
And, we weather storm after storm.
All with big fat smiles painted on our faces.
We are foolish.
And, we are so magnificent.
Written By Lisa Chesser
I just got my hair cut and I loved it…when it was wet. When it dried, when the humidity settled in, I wore a beautifully highlighted but not so cool Afro. As much as I love Afros on other women, which we’ll talk about in another post, on another day, I don’t like an afro on me. I don’t look cool or sensational in mine like the boys from Unlocking the Truth or stunning like Beyonce.
So, I’m jealous, too jealous, of all of you straight-haired wonder beings out there. You foreign creatures who need not straight iron but only do it if you feel a stray hair is out of place.
Too abate my jealousy, I became the unofficial stylist in my various groups as I was growing up. I was the girl with the frizzy hair who braided all the other girls’ hair.
I needed to feel the soft silk in my fingers and imagine it was mine. All mine!
My eyes are green, literally, and I truly felt like a Green-Eyed Monster. I wanted their hair. When my grandmother told me that it was the crust from the bread that made my hair curly, I ritualistically broke it off my sandwiches and waited for my hair to uncurl. But, alas, it never happened.
Yes, it was that bad. And, as much as I’d like to say I’ve gotten over it. I really haven’t.
So, I’m going to spend a ridiculous amount of money and get the keratin treatment everyone’s raving about. I will hopefully say goodbye to my curly hair and have a glorious go at straight hair heaven.
Inspired by the Daily Post Challenge.
The great part about being a parent is always the intensity with which kids force me to have fun. They bend my perception of myself backwards to a time when I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to stand like that or say those things.
So, here’s what happens when you spend summer with kids.
1. You learn the meaning of freedom. You swim!
Kids see water and jump in. No wondering if their thighs are too fat or if the water’s too cold. They go for it. So, for those of you bent on hibernating, remember, this is summer so swim.
This is me documenting it via Vine…all because of the Weekly Writing Challenge. Thanks for the spark.
2. You make movies.
They don’t just watch movies, they make them. My sister taught them how to think like filmmakers and this is one of their awesome creations with her help.
3. You eat ice cream and you’re messy about it.
Everyone was being so neat and nice, so polite. But, my son indulged in his cotton candy ice cream cone and made a mess. I did have to stop him before he got out of control.
4. You build a Lego Ship.
In lieu of homework, mine negotiated a challenge, “We’ll build this Lego ship.” So, they conveniently stretched the construction period out to four days long, but the results speak volumes.
5. You day dream.
Tilt your head back. Close your eyes or stare off at something in the room or at the ceiling then let your mind wonder to those places we rarely speak of because we’re too busy going from here to there or trying to meet a deadline.
6. You draw or doodle.
Sketching your favorite cartoon or TV character when you should be focusing on work keeps you relaxed and sometimes refocuses you if you’re struggling to finish writing. If you’re listening to someone who’s thoroughly boring, then doodle.
7. You dance.
Dance. Wiggle. Move. And do it often. Smiles follow.
8. You watch Nacho Libre, a lot.
Nacho Libre starring Jack Black became my son’s obsession. Thank God it was a funny one. Interpreted, this one means find a movie you really like, that makes you so happy you want to see it over and over again and do just that.
9. You’re gross.
Pick your nose and fart if you feel like it. Just promise, don’t be ashamed. Kids never are—at least not during summertime.
10. You sleep, a lot.
Go to bed late. Sleep until noon. Need I say more?
For a double whammy, I’ll use this time to say that I’m so proud of them. Without even knowing it, they’ve managed to give me amazing moments to write about and give you a laugh or two–thank you to the Daily Post Challenge.
When she made me laugh right in the middle of a full-on breakdown, sending salty snot flying from my nose, I knew my sister was my hero.
The first time I saw her perform standup, it left me not just laughing but gaping in awe of her ability to hurtle a crowd into fits of laughter.
On our summer visit in Los Angeles, that light shown even more brightly. On the night we ventured out to watch Man of Steel, it become apparent that she owned the title Woman of Steel and that her superpower is laughter. It was her birthday and she chose it thinking that she would entertain my children and still see a great movie.
After watching Man of Steel, I walked out feeling the same way I normally feel when I leave a much-anticipated film or even television series that I’m disappointed with. I felt disoriented and unappreciated. I felt like Hollywood could care less about what our daughters and sons learn and they definitely underestimate their ability to interpret anything more than cheap lines and renditions of X-Box or PlayStation games.
Then my sister laughed and laughed again. “What was that? My brain hurts,” she blurted. She asked the kids what they thought and they shrugged and displayed that slanted twist of their mouths, their eyebrows raised.
Then it happened. Superhero Woman of Steel mode kicked in and POW! She riddled us with joke after joke, which I can’t remember because it comes at you so fast, this blur of laughter hitting you then wrapping around you so tightly that the only thing you can do is double over in fits of laughter.
She always does this, well, at least most of the time. She, my sister and comedian Jill Michele Melean, always forces us to laugh at the absurd and even more so the depressing.[youtube http://youtu.be/Ked5pUW3fgw]
When I’d break up with a boyfriend, she wouldn’t comfort me as much as make me laugh. “You’re gonna be okay. Now, here are some things to look forward to: You’ll have plenty of time to write. And, more importantly, you’ll lose a lot of weight.”
Again, the snot flew.
Sometimes, I’d get angry and even sometimes cry harder, but she’d wake me out of my coma and laughter always followed.
As kids, if I was sad, which was often enough, she’d come running over ready to make faces and throw a nice smelly fart my way.
She was completely and utterly inappropriate and I thank the heavens for beaming her to down to me.
So, this is for you. For those times when happiness seems too far away, Jill Michele brings us laughter, the perfect weapon.
Rolling your eyes at your mother seems a rite of passage for most girls. My daughter rolled her eyes so much lately that I finally rolled mine back at her. Of course, I was extra dramatic about it. I rolled my eyes up with an extended flutter to emphasize the severity of only the white part showing.
She laughed, and her rolling eyes settled into a disdainful stare to match her frustration with my “nagging.” But, there are other sometimes more disturbing behaviors lately: Telling me to leave her alone then shutting her bedroom door, elbowing me (however lightly) when I try to hug her, saying “Oh Wow,” after I tell her to do something important like homework.
I’d already hurdled the “I hate you,” moments so I figured I could handle being my daughter’s enemy. But, “I hate you” was sharp, loud and over within seconds. These new insults dig into my side, make me feel nauseous, and even bring me to tears.
Inevitably I remember what I did to my own mother. Rolling my eyes being the most memorable of my insults. She would yell, “Don’t you roll your eyes at me!” Then, I’d do it again, just to spite her.
I’ve grown up a lot since then and I hope I’ve learned something. However, like every naïve new mother, I vowed to never be like my mother. Now, when I hear other moms say they won’t be like their mothers, I secretly say, “Good luck with that.”
My mother was terrible. She wore miniskirts to my ultra-conservative Baptist school functions. She divorced two men. She told my friends’ parents to go to hell when they made snide remarks about her inappropriate behavior. She wouldn’t let me go anywhere because she was afraid I’d get hurt. She didn’t come home sometimes for 24 hours because she’d work double shifts as a nurse.
I hated her for all of that and more.
Sometimes, very early in the morning I’d sneak into her cave of a room and kneel next to her bed. I’d listen to her breath and I’d feel sorry for myself because I missed her so much. Then, I’d blow her a very quiet kiss and leave. I wanted her with me, just being my mom, like all the other mom’s at my school.
I know now that if she were around all the time I’d have hated her for that.
Why? Well, she’s my mother, my enemy, my one true love.
It doesn’t make it any less painful to know that while I experience the same with my own daughter. It just keeps me grounded. I know the journey will leave me sore and tired, but love will lock us together.
My mother also snuck into my room late at night bringing me little presents: a pair of earrings, a teddy bear, a kiss. I’d be angry with her for something so I wouldn’t let her know I was awake, but I loved her for visiting me. Deep in my soul, I knew she loved me just as much or more than the “perfect” moms who volunteered at bake sales and coached the cheerleading teams.
Just recently my daughter decided we didn’t need to read together at night anymore like we’ve done even before she began reading on her own. I tried to act like it didn’t bother me, but when I cried myself to sleep for three days in a row, I again felt what my own mother must’ve: a sorrow that only love brings.
I wrote my daughter a note praising her for finding her independence and telling her why I was sad about it, that I would miss it so much and I’d be there for her no matter what changes come.
Within a week, she asked me to read with her again. One night, yes; another night, no.
I remind her that I will always need hugs and she will always be my baby. Those things she must accept. We’ll work out the rest.
She smiles a baby smile, blinks her eyes, and rests her head on my shoulder.
Sometimes, she rolls her eyes.
Written By Lisa Chesser
“Chaser, run faster,” my coach had always said with his whistle ready to blow it whenever he pleased.
I was running fast, just not fast enough, at least that’s what Coach thought. I could never please him and I hated him for that.
I also hated him because my last name was Chesser, which I didn’t like anyway because my classmates usually called me Lisa “Cheeser.”
Coach had a Southern accent so at first I just corrected him. “Chesser,” I would say after the third “Chaser.”
It didn’t work. He didn’t stop.
Everyone laughed. All the time.
At least I wasn’t Cheeser anymore I rationalized. But, I was wrong because Chaser just became an addition to the Cheeser taunt. On the field, I would be Chaser. In the classroom, I’m Cheeser.
I remembered all of this because of a game, a soccer game. There he was, the Coach. There they were, me, them, everything.
Playing, running, sweating, stressing!
If the little soccer player on the field was stressing, you wouldn’t know. As I watched and listened, I wondered whether or not this would change.
A seven-year-old boy in giant blue soccer shorts ran, almost skipped as he played. The other players only between 7 and 8 years old, just lounged, ran, kicked almost randomly. The parents yelled, so loudly. “Kick the ball!”
“The other way!”
It was hilarious. I laughed so hard.
Of course, I was reprimanded because this was serious business. This was their first game and they needed to win.
The older one, the daughter, couldn’t take the yelling and sat under a tree, far away, and read a book, much quieter, no screaming.
When the younger one, the seven year old ran to me, he said, “We lost!” I smiled and hugged him. “You gotta lose a lot before you know how to win.”
And, really, that’s how have I dealt with upset or disappointment or even teasing on a daily basis.
I’ve lost. A lot.
Winning. I really don’t remember that much about winning.
I remember working. That’s about it. I think because that’s what I do now. I work. Even when I decided to start writing again, really writing, beginning with this blog, I still work at it. It’s more of a daily triumph rather than a celebrated win.
And, I have lots of problems, so many that I work at overcoming them, not even trying to fix them. So, when I look backward or remember my life, I see struggles and what I did about it. This helps me see what to do in the future.
I remember the painful moments. I remember Chaser. And Cheeser.
That’s what messed me up or so I thought. I really hated that. I mean, if I had to go through that again, I think I’d go insane or maybe laugh and never stop.
Perhaps that’s why I started laughing like crazy at the soccer game.
That was my son and his teammates. They were having fun and the spectators, mainly parents, were too, but they were total jerks. They were Coach Chaser and those kids from my class when I was younger.
When I saw my daughter roll her eyes and walk off to a tree to read her book in peace and quiet, I thought about how I later decided to do the same. I don’t think that’s giving up. I think that’s a way of dealing with a problem. She looked just as happy as my son skipping along, oblivious to the yelling.
I didn’t skip, I ran, but at my own pace. After scowling at Coach Chaser, I ran, not faster the way Coach wanted, but I didn’t stop running. I was the best long distance runner in track. I always went last in relays and I always won the 440.
It was a down time and I endured.
Some win, some lose, some win and lose.
I endured. And, I won.
So, when I look at seven and eight year olds playing soccer and the parents who push them, yell at them, cheer for them, and the Coaches who guide them somehow, not quite as annoyingly as mine did, but in their own way, I think, endurance.
Or, just run at your own pace, it’s your choice.
Written By Lisa Chesser
Since Saturday, I’ve been upset and I didn’t want to write about it because I knew it would’ve been unfocused. I also don’t want this to be a place for readers to have to endure endless rants. So, I’ve been reading fellow writers’ posts while attempting to sedate the anger I still feel. But, as I was browsing the blogs I follow in my Reader, I came upon the Daily Prompt: Be the Change. It asks the question: What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?
After quelling my initial outrage over a long-awaited yet horribly disappointing Saturday, here’s my answer to this question.
This blog should change every reader’s perspective. What you once thought to be true or real should change because you read about a strange but inspiring moment. You should laugh like a mad man or a wild woman and do something spontaneous. You should find solace in it all because you feel comfortable being different and take pride in yourself even if others won’t ever see it.
In short, this blog should inspire resilience. Without it, you’re doomed.
I write this now, two days later, more clearly and focused, well, because of the prompt and because of the distance from Saturday.
On Saturday, November 10, I got up at 6 a.m. to drive across town to an Idea Expo for teachers. In a fog of fatigue after teaching all week, I told myself this was too important to miss. I did find inspiration in the Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools Alberto Carvahlo’s well-delivered speech. It garnered a standing ovation from the audience of teachers.
But, that was it.
Fifteen minutes later, I sat in a boxed room with a teacher sharing a lesson on Dracula, one of my favorite classics, which she purportedly teaches to middle-school students. I thought, okay, I’m gonna like her because that’s daring.
But, I didn’t like her.
I wanted to bite her.
Instead, I bit my lip and left for the day. She would be the next speaker for the next presentation, and I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut for that long.
Here’s why. She showed us a sample of the lesson she prepared for her students. She showed us a prompt about horror, which we had to answer. Fair enough, I thought. It was when she asked us what controversy meant that I flinched for the first time. She told us she was modeling the lesson for us. Okay, fine, I’d heard that before. I didn’t like it but okay. Then, she asked for responses, which we gave. After that, she said, if her own students couldn’t answer the prompt, she would let them copy off the student next to them.
I flinched again. I few curse words flew through my mind.
Then, she showed us her list of vocabulary words and said that she didn’t believe in letting students struggle with words because sometimes they mispronounce them. Fine, fair enough. Again, I just needed to give this a chance, give her a chance. She’s a teacher. She deserves my respect.
As she reviewed the list of words, she said, “Aqueese.” Just like that. Aqueese.
I jerked my arm and stabbed my paper with my pen. I shut my packet.
The word was acquiesce.
I make a lot of mistakes. I encourage my students to correct me if I misspell something on the board. I’m a writer, so I know how misspellings happen. But, if I’m teaching pronunciation then I’d better get it right. If I’m teaching spelling and I suck at it, I’d better study those words or admit my weakness.
It was too much to bear. I grew up loving literature so much that I passed my days in the library. I skipped science class, not to go to the beach, but because I snuck into the library to read. I lived inside these books, and she had proceeded to mutilate what I loved.
So, I left.
I walked to Starbucks and listened to Billie Holiday belt out her piping-hot tunes. I pretended none of this just happened and settled into the sounds around me.
But, the anger lingered.
The fumes gathered and swirled.
I looked at my own children and myself as a child. So many teachers had disappointed me the way this woman did that day. So many teachers have handed my children misinformation on a silver platter and lauded themselves while doing it.
I could and can only think: Resilience. Laugh out loud, relentless resilience.
The only regret I have is that I didn’t speak my mind. In an effort to be polite, to tame the fire in my belly, I bit my tongue.
And, in honor of Dracula, I should have bit her.
An obsession always begins with something small. His was very small and he was really, or at least it seemed so at the time, the only one who noticed it.
“There, right there, don’t you see it?” he would point and yell whenever he saw the man whom I revered.
I would look at it, then him, and say something like, “Please, stop. That’s not important. It’s just a beauty mark,” which statement would send my son into hysterics.
While I cried, yes I was one of those, over the glorious moment when Barack Obama became President of the United States, my son announced, “Obama and the Mole.” I ignored him for that moment and later proceeded to tell him all about everything he would miss if he only focused on the mole.
He did it anyway.
He tried to listen only to the speeches, but all he could think about was the mole. So, my sister took a different approach. My sister who prefers, much like my son, to laugh at everything rather than to take anything very seriously understood him much better than I did. She gave him a microphone, helped him with some lyrics, and made a short film.
So, here’s a three year old’s antidote to an unhealthy obsession.
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