Friday, October 22, 2010

The blessing of the belly laugh.

I've been thinking a lot about laughter today, and how different situations, with different company, evoke different laughs. That's a lot of 'differents' isn't it. That's okay. I'm not talking about grammar...I'm talking about laughter.

There's the polite chuckle at any public meeting when the speaker says something humorous and you can tell by the pause and the expectant look on his face that his notes say 'await laughter here'. You can also tell how many are paying attention by the length of the pause between his remark and the beginning of the chuckle. Suddenly you are part of the group...united by inattention, perhaps, but the sidelong glance of another listener in your proximity says 'he almost caught us dozing there, didn't he', and you bond for that brief moment. I love that!

How about the quickly stifled snicker when someone does something unexpected, like the little hop-skip step when they trip over nothing and then notice that you have observed them. You can't help it - it just slips out and then you are obliged to say something corny like 'gotta watch those speed bumps'. Those snickers are risky...especially when something really cracks you up and you try not to react. Occasionally you can cover it with a fake cough, but that's not reliable. there's an evocative one...especially if you're of the female persuasion. Remember giggling with girlfriends over a private joke? I remember overhearing two very proper school teachers giggling like ten-year-olds over someone who mispronounced a said to the other "Remember him? He's the one who used to pronounce Regina's name with a long I." I loved their delight in sharing this memory, and I love that I can recall that moment and giggle over it myself.

I've noticed over the years that my laughter is no longer as deep and satisfying as it was back when life was less complicated. It starts in my chest and travels up my throat terminating in a perfectly acceptable laugh, but it seldom triggers the endorphins that are so therapeutic. I don't know why. It just doesn't happen.

Last summer I had opportunity to visit old friends at home on their farm. Their property is just down the road from where mine was and we remain best friends. As I sat with them the years fell away. We recalled funny things about friends and neighbors, memories of our children growing up, moments we had shared...and the air sparkled with our shared mirth. For that one afternoon, laughter came from somewhere deep in my belly and erupted in gales...just like it used to. I wiped tears from my eyes and then laughed some more. That day was a gift from God, as are those dear friends. I realized that day that I hadn't lost my belly laugh...I'd just put it into storage beside memories of a gentler time. And that I need to pull it out more often and use it...actively seek the humor in simple everyday things. Share it with my 'newer' friends.

How very beautiful to find something you thought you had lost. May we never take for granted the blessing of the belly laugh.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Portable & High Speed

I'm feeling a bit proud of myself tonight. I'm sitting here in my cozy spot on the couch posting to my blog. How cool is that for someone living in her sixth decade? Pretty cool I guess, but not as cool as the journey it took to get here.

About the time I took my first typing class in high school, the bank where my mother worked in Albuquerque decided that computers just might be the wave of the future. She worked nights processing data on those huge, Coke machine sized, reel to reel monsters in a dust proof, climate controlled room. Data processing took up a whole floor, what with the key punch machines, printers, collators, etc. I got my first part-time job there, searching for mistakes that the keypunch operators made and balancing the run-sheets on long, green and white tractor paper that came out of the hideously loud printer. Those early computers used tons of paper and were nothing the general population could even imagine owning. And yet now I sit here with a notebook sized machine, connected to no discernible source of power, sending a message out to anyone in the world who cares to read it.

Pretty cool, but let's go back a little further. That typing class - I remember all of us girls sitting ramrod straight, each in her assigned seat in the rows of old upright manual typewriters. That first week we practiced 'A ; S L D K F J G H' over and over until our fingers cramped. Soon we learned to reach for the keys above and below and worked until we could find the keys without peeking. Then we practiced to build up speed. Women in the workplace weren't really the norm then...we just worked until we married, then our homes became our careers. Had I known what the future held, I'd have paid more attention in that typing class.

I've never been without a typewriter, be it an old Royal upright, an IBM Selectric, or one of those little Brother Word Processors that just had a Word still had to thread your paper into it and print what you had typed, but at least you had the option of correcting it before printing. I didn't get my first real computer until ten years ago. I had notes plastered all over the walls with instructions on how to send an email, connect to the Internet, etc. I didn't learn about 'ctrl, alt., delete' until a friend sent some kind of weird email regarding the high heat of summer that made the picture on the screen appear to 'melt' - I panicked and had no idea how to make it stop. I learned though, and now 'ctrl, alt, delete' and 'ctrl Z' are my best friends. I'm sure there are others I should learn but those two cover most of my anxieties.

Whatever, it's been a long journey to this cozy little afternoon tete a tete with this computer. I still don't have a Blackberry, but I do have a cell phone. Texting isn't for eyes are just too old to read those tiny letters and the abbreviations confuse's like learning a foreign language. I know LOL, but that's about it. I watch the young girls at work texting under their desks where the boss can't see...they go so fast, their fingers fairly fly. I just sit there with my BFF (coworker my own age) and say 'OMG! How do they do that?' Then we go back to discussing our scores on or the latest thing we've done on Farmtown.