Tag Archives: laughter

Stew. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I had an AFGO the other day.  (Another eFfing Growth Opportunity, for those of you unfamiliar with my genius dad’s brilliant catch-phrase.)  And I have been stewing over it ever since.  And not just stewing… I’ve also ruminated on it, mulled it over, worked myself into a frenzy, wrote and deleted angry emails about it, and given it major lip service.

(I tend to have a very hard time just letting things go… like you don’t!)

Was all of that stewing, etc, worth my while?  Probably not.  And I need to get over it.  So I’m going to blog about.  Because that’s what I do.

It boils down to an issue of respect, and ultimately, sexism, I believe.

I offered up a genuine concern to a colleague.  I was told I was wrong.

Fine.  Difference of opinion.  That happens and it’s ok.

(No, Michele, I am not talking about you. You can relax now.)

But then I received a phone call about the issue.  A phone called that started with laughter (laughter!!) over my concern.  My legitimate and professionally raised concern.

And it was then that my blood boiled.  BOILED.

Don’t worry, I spoke up.  I said that the laughter was inappropriate, belittling, and disrespectful.  I was quickly taken off speaker phone.  (In-ter-es-an-te…)  Many patronizing efforts were made to placate me, but I was already done.  Checked out.

I had already been accused of “throwing a temper tantrum” by this person once.  And I play by NIH softball rules–  you start with one strike.  (For those keeping score at home, that makes three.  OUT!)

I was invited to sit at the metaphorical table and I stood my ground while I was there.  Unfortunately, I was not respected for doing so and, having witnessed civil discourse related to several disagreements with other male colleagues, I have every reason to believe that the lack of respect stems from the fact that I am a woman.  Hence the boiling, roiling blood.

Sexism in the twenty-fourth and a half cent-ur-y!!!

I started college in 2001, grad school in 2005, and entered the professional work force in 2011.  You would think that after year 2000, sexism on campus and in the work place would be a thing of the past.


I have experienced blatant and disturbing sexism in all three places.

In college, a professor told me that he didn’t know what I was getting so worked up about since I was only there for my M-R-S. (B-S, P-H-D in your face! Then the Mrs… thanks, MTU.)

In graduate school, I was told that I was doing female scientists a disservice by leaving the traditional academic structure.  (Still female… still engaged in biomedical research… still working toward the improvement of human health on a daily basis… but whatevs.)

And now, with over two years of professional experience and a track record of success under my belt, there are still certain members of the “old boy’s club” that take it upon themselves to remind me that I am somehow less.


With the exception of awkward conversations in the bathroom (because I’m the most awkward small-talk-maker ever), I think before I speak and rarely raise concerns unless I find them legitimately worthy of consideration.  I can understand why people might have been wary of me (fresh out of school and all that) at first, but I am good at my job and I have demonstrated that.  So I deserve to be treated as such.

(But then again, even if someone is new and fresh out of school with no proven track record, they are still a human being (even if it’s a lady!) and therefore deserve to be treated with a basic level of respect.)

I’m always going to have to work with some jerks, that’s a given.  And some of them are going to be men, also a given.

And so, I will continue to react like Jeffrey Tambor as Ed Singer in Muppets from Space:

DON’T… LAUGH… AT… MEEEE! (Start watching at about 0:46, or just recall the hilarity from your own mind.)

Perhaps you think I’m being overly sensitive, or that I’m some sort of “psycho” feminist, espousing the, as the bumper sticker says, radical notion that women are people too.  And that’s ok.  Might as well embrace it.

As my husband heard on Modern Family, and is now fond of saying to me, “harness that crazy into something positive.”

So my positive? Cathartic blog rant! Funny Muppet clip!  And another AFGO in my arsenal!


PS: Yes, “another AFGO” is, in fact, redundant.  Don’t care.

Give me a volleyball– it’s going to be an awkward time.

My sister-in-law (not the one I discuss below, the other one) suggested the idea for this post… and I’ve been saving it for a special Tuesday, since Tuesdays are volleyball days.  Clearly, I love that girl because only for her would I share the story of the picnic table.

My husband, his sister, and I play volleyball once a week at the local Belvedere Supper Club.  They’ve got a great outdoor sand volleyball court, complete with lights for these rapidly shortening days (sigh… northern Wisconsin…).  We were originally promised a league, but no other teams ever showed up so we just come every week and play against ourselves, splitting up however we see fit.  It’s awesome because the winning team gets a prize every week– usually a free drink or free fish fry.  YES!  Winning is the best!  Except went you don’t.  And then at least playing is pretty dang fun.

I’m no Misty May, but I enjoy volleyball and I’m reasonably tall, so I’ve got that going for me.  BUT, I’m also very awkward and, unfortunately, that really shines on the volleyball court.

Last Tuesday, I called everyone else off on a high volley and THUMP.  The ball dropped to my chest, made a terrible thud sound, and just stopped.  Sigh.

In grad school, I joined an indoor volleyball league in Rockville with a friend and even bought knee pads with the intent of diving.  The only time I ever did was when I tripped on my way to the ball, missing it completely.  (Good thing I had knee pads.)

But the volleyball incident in college, that was the really spectacular one.

The summer before my sophomore year started, I played with a bunch of other RAs out at McClain State Park (it’s right on Lake Superior and it’s beautiful– I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the UP).  To appropriately set this story up, I should tell you that I was not yet dating my now husband, but very much wanted to… and he witnessed everything.

First, I got pulled over on the way there, but my ID was in the trunk and I had to awkwardly get out of the car while all of my other friends (including that dreamy dude I wanted to date!) drove by.  Ugh.

I slowly got over that humiliation as I got into the game and was feeling pretty awesome until BOOM… picnic table.  Because what else?  And I didn’t just run into the picnic table, I ran so into the picnic table that I ended up on the picnic table.  Oy.

Let me draw you a diagram:

Yes, my head really is that square.

Yes, my head really is that square. {Background Image Credit}

Now.  Let me describe to you my level of mortification, starting with the earliest incident. In college, I pretty much wanted to die.  The guy I liked saw everything (what a good guy to marry me anyway– although this may help explain why it took almost 10 years) and I pretty much felt like my life was over.  Also, I was pretty bruised up, and that was a constant reminder of the humiliation.  Not to mention the warning I got for failing to slow down.  I lived in constant fear of getting re-pulled over with an upgrade from warning to full-blow ticket for the next three years.  (The unnecessary stress I put myself under, I swear…)

In grad school, I was embarrassed and it really fueled my insecurity.  I didn’t feel like my life was over, but I pretty much backed off after that.  I wanted desperately to be good at volleyball and to play more so that I could get there, but instead, I hung back, let others play, and stayed on the sideline or in the background.  I did not enjoy it as much after that.  (But I did manage to enjoy the trophy our team won that first season, not going to lie…)

But last week?  It wasn’t like that.

Last week, there was the deadening thump of the ball smacking me in the chest and coming to a complete stop.  My husband said, “what the heck was that?!” and then… there was laughter!  From me and everyone else.  It was pretty dang funny.  But to be perfectly honest, so was running into the picnic table at McLain and tripping over my own feet to test out my knee pads in Maryland.  But I had a hard time laughing at “embarrassing” things then because I was so concerned about my “image.”

Here’s the image I would prefer, and the one I aim to cultivate these days: to be the girl whose not afraid to make a mistake while trying her best, and to be able to laugh with things go embarrassingly wrong.  I’m so glad you’re laughing with me!  Because my special ability to turn any situation into an awkward situation really makes for some excellent blog fodder.


Speaking of awkward… had a follow-up appointment with my personal gastroenterologist / professional client today.  (That’s the guy I said I would never be able to look in the eye again.)  Turns out, anesthesia is a good thing, and I don’t remember enough to even bother being embarrassed.  Yes!!

How to Win Friends and Influence People– with a pink, plastic, inflatable bunny.

I made some pretty stellar friends in college. Three ladies in particular stand out because the are brilliant, hilarious, kind, thoughtful, and brave… and because they picked me to be their friend too. I love them. And I loved our days living in Good Intentions. (West Wads!)

But being an introvert at a school full of other introverts (I’m looking at you, MTU!) can be tough, especially when it comes to making social connections. Fortunately, my next door neighbor in the dorms was the most hilarious of all…

… and she had a pink, plastic, inflatable bunny.

I don’t know why she had the bunny, but I’m so glad she did. And if you’re an introvert living in a dorm full of introverts looking for a good way to make some connections, you may need one too.

There is nothing funnier than bunnying someone. Nothing.

Step 1: Acquire and inflate your pink, plastic bunny. Something about 3 ft tall does well.

Step 2: Find a dorm room with a door closed (not always easy) and set up your bunny in front of the door.

Step 3: Knock…

Step 4: RUN!

Step 5: Observe from a distance as hilarity ensues.

We bunnied lots and lots of people (true story: my husband got bunnied while he was in a mutual friend’s room before I even knew him!) and except for the times when our bunny was stolen (it’s cool– my friend acquired other bunnies in blue and yellow) everyone always laughed and laughed. And even when they did get stolen, we got a pretty great ransom note from the “Protectores del Conejo…”

We had so much fun in those halls, bunnying people, laughing, making new friends, and cementing our own friendships. And I think it was good for everyone– all of us engineers and introverts, scientists and responsible RAs. Who doesn’t love a good laugh, after all?

I’m still really into pink bunnies. I have glass one in my office and I bought a soft plush one for my niece before she was even born. I also just found a little bunny cookie cutter and used it to make these awesome little ladies:


As much as I just love the memories, pink bunnies also serve as a good reminder of the weird ways in which we can make lasting connections with the people around us. That pink bunny let us relax and let go, to have fun and make friends without the worry, laughter drowning out the second track.

Maybe you need a pink bunny, too?