Posted by: mew | August 23, 2009

A Mission Mosaic

This week, my response to the Joy Rebellion‘s Mission Monday assignment became something of a week-long awareness of the target. Here is the resulting debriefing, which I have called my Laughter Mosaic.  (Note:  Like a mosaic, it’s huge and all over the place.  I would probably treat it just like a viewing of a mosaic and only read those portions my eye was instinctively drawn toward.)

Fer Now

stockvault_7517_20070506Taking F. to the university library to pick up a copy of The Artist’s Way for me, since I just signed up to go on the journey with an online group and then realized I gave away my copy of the book, but have no $ to buy another just now.  (Thank Goddess for libraries!) After I drop him off, I loop around in front of a dormitory and drive by a bizarre, but laughter-filled, scene on the corner of Fernow Street.

Straight out of the Theatre of the Absurd, an older, slightly stooped woman, wearing peach cotton and pearls to go with her snow white hair, is laughing in a deep, masculine voice.  Her laughs are slow and rythmic and have a swooping sound at the beginning of each.  Guffaws, I might call them.  Beside her stands a middle-aged African-American gentleman who is nodding and saying, “Um-hmm, um-hmm,” over and over in time with her laughs.  He wears an indulgent but slightly uncomfortable smile — the kind you would smile at a five-year-old’s attempt to tell a joke, if you couldn’t quite force yourself to laugh — and holds a Golden Delicious apple in one hand, rubbing it against his trouser leg.  Both of them are staring up at an undergrad, not looking at one another.   He is high up on a ladder in shorts and flip-flops, messing about with a street lamp.

Her laughs continue to boom out as I round the curve and head off campus.

When I do finally open up TAW to the assigned reading, I almost immediately find this:

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” – Jean Houston

A Surefire Technique

By Tuesday night, my perfectionist self is still trying to see a way to make a definitive laughter discovery or report.  I will think of something, dammit.  Brandi even gave me a mention on her blog as a result of my last Debriefing.  I must outdo myself.  I must perform even better, always better, cleverer, quicker, etc.  Blech.

These thoughts, as you can imagine, are not making me very joyful.  As F. and I lay on the bed that night in the sweltering heat, naked and without even a sheet, our windows open in the hopes of coaxing in a nonexistent breeze, he says, “You’re still thinking about it; aren’t you?”  I tell him I’m close to a brilliant idea, but refuse to share it before I’ve got all the details worked out.  F.’s sigh spirals up into the hot, stifling darkness.  I continue to spin the same ideas around and around in my brain, nowhere near sleep.

“I’ve got it!” he says suddenly, when I think he must be nearly asleep.  “I know exactly how to make you laugh.”

Before I can even respond, he’s tickling me and I’m laughing so hard — shrieking, really — that if we still lived in Atlanta, the neighbors would definitely complain.  Here, there’s nobody to hear me except the crickets, the treefrogs, hoot owls and an occasional raccoon or coyote.

The Stew Gets Darker

F. and I don’t watch television.  But we do occasionally watch the streaming broadcasts of The Daily Show after the fact.  Comedy Central kindly puts them out for free the next day.  So on Wednesday night F. and I are cracking up over this:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Booty as Comic Relief

Meet Booty.  I’m serious, that’s his name, although my sister later re-christened him Bootemius so he’d have a more dignified version for vet records and licenses.


Booty is a pretty funny fellow.  He’s basically my baby, and Leo Chapo, our other cat, is my much more independent baby.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about their antics in various blogposts.

Meanwhile, Booty always wears the same expression on his plump little face; I swear he is a Japanese Zen master who has been reincarnated into the form of a sweet, loving, silly, not-very-smart kitty who just happens to have a thing for his brother Leo, Leo’s butt, F.’s butt whenever it comes close enough to the floor to reach — in that order.  It’s possible he has a thing for all butts — although believe it or not, that is not how he acquired the name Booty.

On Thursday, Booty’s booty has a problem.  One long, curly, slightly auburn hair is trailing out his anus, bothering him.  I squeal in alarm when I see him scraping his bottom along our carpet, and F. tells me what’s going on.  One of my hairs has been swallowed – who knows how?! – and F. is refusing point blank to deal with it.  So I gather my courage and pinch my nose and corner Booty and yank.  F. alternates between saying “ew” and laughing until he’s wheezing and no sound comes out.

I can see the ridiculous side to the incident, even if it isn’t quite so amusing from my vantage point.

Not So Funny People

On Thursday night, my brilliant plan is to go to the movie Funny People, which F. expressed some vague interest in seeing about two weeks back.  We’ll laugh, I say, and I can record the sound of other folks laughing, and I’ll post that.  F. agrees, more because he wants to spend two hours in the air-conditioned movie theatre than for any other reason, I’m sure.  He warns me the reviews haven’t been so positive.

We get there, and I realize I’ve forgotten the camera to make the recording.  (Strike one.)

This is Seneca, and so when we get into the one and only movie theatre in town, on a school night, we are the only two people in it.  (Strike two.)

The movie is more about mortality than comedy, with the dying character (Adam Sandler) having done stand-up comedy in his youth and now having lost his touch.  Plus, he’s kinda lonely and grumpy and self-centred and crazy — and not crazy in a good way.  I spend most of the movie wanting to slap some sense into him.  Seth Rogan does a better job, but I find even his joke snippets to be too juvenile or purposely designed to shock the audience to merit a laugh.  (Strike three.)

Here is some canned laughter from 1907 to make up for the lack of my recording a full audience responding to a riotously funny movie:

It’s kind of bizarro.

Girlish Giggle

My widowed neighbor confided in me on Monday that she’s met someone “nice.”  Friday I see her walking up our narrow lane, cell phone to her ear.  Under the dappled shade of the tree canopy, her face shines and hides by turns, but her cute little flirty giggle carries straight through the open window to where I sit working.


Yesterday, I’m crying.  Correction, I’m sobbing.  It’s a long story, but the bottom line is, I hate to feel lost.  I’ve felt lost half my life — and yes, I’m aware there’s probably a metaphysical/symbolic meaning to this circumstance.  My sister’s nickname is Rand McNally, and I swear she was born with a list of every street name in all 50 states, plus some in France, Germany, Holland and Taiwan, programmed into her brain.  Just to the right of her breastbone, Goddess decided to implant a lovely, handmade compass.  She never gets lost and feels like it’s an adventure to turn down a new street.

I regularly lose my car in the parking lot.

So Saturday, I’m in the middle of East Bumblefuck, dripping sweat because I don’t have AC in the car, nobody much around but a few cows and crows, and I’m trying to simultaneously read a printout from mapquest and drive.  Not the best idea.  I had just whined into the phone to F., “I’m not sure I know where I am anymore,” when the wind whips my map, my only chance of figuring out where I am, out of my hand, through the open window, and into a fenced green field.  I cannot hold back the tears.

But by the end of the day, I’m laughing about portions of my adventure, thinking how silly I was.  I found where I needed to go — eventually, and in retrospect my reaction seems to me ridiculous.  Of course everything works out in the end.  Well, more or less.

Generally, this mission has brought me a sense of the ridiculous – or brought it back to the forefront of consciousness.  I used to love the Theatre of the Absurd.  It matched my feeling that life itself is absurd.  Laughter may be a response to peeking through the veil and realizing this whole thing is just an illusion.  The absurdities can make me realize I usually take this illusion for a serious, solid reality, which is bound to make me miserable.  I need to lighten up and remember it’s more like a perpetual funky chicken dance — where everyone gets the death penalty at the end.



  1. I have to admit that you did come up with the idea of recording laughter in the movie theater before I could point out that such a thing was already used in cinema by the minimalist Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami; his film “Shirin” shows precisely the emotional expression of about one hundred women watching on stage a play based on a 12th century mythical poem.

    I’ll leave to the reader to identify the possible feminist implications of this approach.

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