Monday, February 25, 2013

welcome to texas

Today I got to meet up with my ESL conversation parter again to chat about humor, our weeks, and the differences between our cultures and lifestyles. Today we focused a lot on the different aspects of humor within the United States and Saudi Arabia. The way that Nasser explained it to me, it sounds like our humor is relatable in a few different ways. 

He explained to me that the play on words is a widely used form of humor in Saudi Arabia, and that he finds those types of jokes in America humorous and interesting. He explained to me that learning the different uses of the same words was not difficult, but is actually interesting to him instead. Additionally, Nasser told me that for many of the jokes that the Saudi's tell, they make fun of themselves and put themselves as the butt of the joke. As we have seen in a few of our in-class presentations on the humor around the world, it is a common theme to put oneself as the butt of the joke. Sometimes, it's just easier to make fun of yourself; it tears down the barriers of vulnerability.

As we continued to talk, he explained to me that he does not celebrate birthdays in his country; apparently, the celebration of birth is not as big of a deal compared to here in the United States where we go above and beyond to celebrate the anniversary of you popping out of the womb. As his story continued, he told me that he helped an America friend celebrate her birthday this weekend and he was a little confused by the whole idea. When I tried to explain the concept of a birthday, I caught myself sounding really stupid and not really able to describe why we do what we do. But really, why do we celebrate a birthday? Yes, it's great to have a day when all of the attention is on you, but it is a weird concept if you really think about it. Regardless, he was entertained by the fact that we commemorate a day solely to one person just because they were welcoming into the world however many years ago. 

Nasser went down to the Stockyards this weekend and had dinner at a BBQ restaurant. Needless to say, he was dumbfounded. He was amazed at the amount of meat that was placed in front of him, and how we as Americans practically celebrate the art of eating, and take it to a whole new level. And I agree, I think everything we as Americans do is blown up to a weird level of exaggeration and obsession. He did enjoy the dinner, he did admit, but he still could not get over how "big" America, and especially Texas makes things out to be. Welcome to Texas! 

Nassar also told me about his experience while attending the rodeo here in Fort Worth. He explained that he thought it was a very weird and violent concept, but he enjoyed seeing the animals and riding the rides. He told me that in Saudi Arabia they have festivals with animals, similar to the rodeo, but with camels and horses instead. A well-celebtrated tradition is the racing of Arabian hordes, which I found to be interesting!

The last topic we touched on today was the idea of numbers. He explained to me that in Saudi Arabia, they say their numbers backwards compared to the way we speak. He compared this way of speaking to Spanish. I can speak a little bit of Spanish coming from New Mexico, so I easily understood what he was trying to say. I kept asking him if it was difficult for him to learn a whole new set of numbers, ordering, letters, etc. and he continuously responded with "no, it's simple." It is apparent to me that Nasser is intelligent and eager to learn. I have really enjoyed having these conversations with him and we have already set up our next meeting time. 

until our next laugh, 


how to have a relationship

Dave Barry's commentary on the ins and outs of a relationship were very humorous to me. By the age of 20, I was in a relationship for four years, and then one day, it practically evaporated into thin air. Yes, it was terrible, but I look back on it and I have learned and grown so much as a person. I say this with such bluntness because when I read this story, I laughed, smiled, and saw far too many connections within my life and the numerous relationship stories I've heard. I've always heard it said that if you can look back on a past experience and laugh about it, even if it was at one time a complete struggle, you've successfully come out on top and are ready to move forward. 

Dave Barry points out the characteristics that we, as women, notice and dread about men in general, and the way that they perceive relationships. Commitment and the idea or classification of a "relationship" can be rough territory; even just starting out the conversation can be like embarking on a boating trip through the Bermuda triangle. Guaranteed, you and your potential suitor will not have a 100% resemblance in your idea of what a relationship means, how communication plays a part, the social implications of your "relationship", etc. Plus, being a girl, I know we over think these details WAY too much. We, oh so terribly, dissect the smallest details of a conversation, add in details that didn't even happen, and make the situation much worse than it really needs to be. As I say this, I realize how embarrassing and utterly ridiculous it is, but hey, it's a work in progress for all of us women! 

We learn from the way our father treated our mother, grew from how people of the opposite sex treated us as we grew up, and as life moves forward you begin to establish your standards and requirements for a suitor. And... those might be wildly unrealistic, but it's a start. I love the way Barry exaggerated the way we as women must remind, and continuously reestablish the fact that "me and you are in a relationship." Hilarious! It brought out many cackles and giggles from myself. 

I believe that exaggeration is the prime factor in the story that makes it, in a way, relatable, and yet so laughter inducing. I love the example of how the wife must remind the husband after many years of marriage that they are in fact married! This form of exaggeration make the story beyond a real "relationship guide" and molds it into a complete parody of relationships as we know them today. But just like anything in the world we live in today,  not all men act in the highly exaggerated and made-fun of way that Barry describes...thankfully. 

But hey, that's not to say that just because the men have this way about them to be oblivious and distant from the relationships at hand, women are perfect. Because we aren't. We make mistakes, exaggerate, emotionalize, and dramatize a lot. I think Barry could write a very well-versed commentary on the absurdity of women in relationships and induce quite a lot of laughter. 

until out next laugh, 


Sunday, February 24, 2013

the waltz

the waltz... 

I absolutely enjoyed reading "The Waltz." I found it to be wildly humorous, and embarrassingly relatable. For those of you who don't know me so well, I have a strong tendency to make things awkward. Why? I don't know how not to! I also let me anxiety get to me, way too much. So, this story of back and forth panic was a great read, and kind of made me feel....normal? I guess I'm not the only one! 

If I'm meeting someone for lunch, I will panic. Do I get there early? Do I get there a few minutes late? Do I order, or do I wait for her to get there? Does she want to sit in a booth, or would a table be more comfortable...? Should I dress up, or can I stick to my relaxed look? 

Walking into the restaurant: Okay I don't see her. Oh my god, everyone is looking at me. What if they think I got stood up? Should I ask the waiter if she is here? Should I get a table and wait? But what if they think I am eating alone...?

Hey, guess what. NO ONE CARES. 

When I read "The Waltz" I felt like it was a commentary of my life. And, it served as a compete flashback to my freshman homecoming dance, which I must say was the epitome of awkward. But really, whose freshman year dances weren't awkward....? Rocking the braces, kitten heels, and a dress hanging lower than my knees, and my far from professional dance moves... it was a recipe for a fabulous night. 

Anxiety, worry, and over thinking: this is an aspect of my life that I am working hard to transform, and move away from the anxiety and worry. Because you know what? No one really cares, so I might as well relax and enjoy myself. This actually is a new years resolution I have been working hard at. I tend to freak myself out, which results in me having no enjoyment in whatever I am doing. But why? Life is meant to be enjoyed, and my efforts of laughing more have been successful and rewarding. 

So now its time for change. And, I must admit, it's been great. I smile more, worry less, and laugh...a lot. The commentary within "The Waltz" was such a relatable thought process for many girls, and I have a feeling that they guys who read this story were a little bit overwhelmed. Yes, we do over think things, way too much. But now that I recognize this tendency.. I am working to make a change. 

Reading this story served as a bit of a reminder as to why I have been working so hard on my internal self, and a wake up call to things that don't warrant a worry. I thoroughly enjoyed the way this story was written, and caught myself laughing  throughout the short story. 

until our next laugh, 


welcome to america!

I was finally able to meet up with my ESL partner, Nassar. I must admit, I was nervous to meet him...I had a feeling I was going to be really awkward and not have anything to talk about. BUT, I was wrong! Nassar was eager to talk about his home country, and I was eager to listen and tell him about my life in America. 

Nassar and I got along great! What a relief! We met at the TCU bookstore and quickly started our conversation. Nassar is all the way from Saudi Arabia, and is still working on adjusting to American life. When I began to ask him about his home, he lit up, eager to tell me all about it. He quickly pointed out that there are amazingly large differences between our life styles, ranging from our outlook on family, food, work, and holidays. 

Nassar is proud of where he comes from, and admittedly favors its greatly compared to the United States. He explained to me how shocked and confused he was that our family structure and pride vary greatly. Family is an especially large aspect of his culture, and it serves as a main identifier. He also pointed out how interesting he found our desire to be independent and on our own, where as his culture focuses greatly on family dependency. I found it interesting to hear him talk about how his life at home differs greatly from the day-to-day aspects that we are part of on TCU's campus. 

He did admit, he doesn't like Texas much.. HA! Well I love Texas, and when we disagreed, he couldn't help but laugh. I thought this was by far the best parts of the conversation. Whenever Nassar struggled to find the words he wanted to use, or couldn't explain something to me, he would laugh! I immediately connected this laugh to the Relief Theory... his struggle to find the right words led to laughter, allowing us to become much more comfortable with each other. 

One of the biggest concepts theta Nassar struggled with was the idea of age and numbers. When I asked him how old he was, he said he wasn't sure! Well, we came to find that he is 22. When we finally figured that out, he kept laughing! He thought it was so funny that I had to help him figure out what his age was, especially since I am younger than him. 

Overall, it was such a great experience to get to meet him and talk about our differing cultures. It was so amazing to see how every aspect of our cultures and lifestyles are so different primarily because of where we are from. It was a positive experience and we already have planned out our next meeting time for next week. 

until then, 


Sunday, February 3, 2013

birthday giggles

I've been thinking a lot about laughter, and trying to pinpoint what really tickles me. This weekend I celebrated my 20th birthday with my closest friends; I might even admit that it was one of the best weekends of my life. I laughed so much this weekend. Why? Pure happiness. This weekend I set aside the worries of school, and spent genuine time with my friends. Really getting to know people, meeting new friends, and bonding over old memories stirs up much laughter. I've realized that laughter doesn't always come from a funny story, a witty joke, or a situation full of irony; there was a new kind of laughter that came about this weekend, and it was of happiness. I like that, happy laughter. 

Make sense right? Contagious laughter while being surrounded by your closest friends, who know your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and yet will still share genuine companionship. That feeling of closeness will bring about great happiness, and of course laughter. 

Laughter is a great response to something humorous, but it's also a sign of contentment, happiness, and joy. As I get caught up in the day to day things, I sometimes lose sight of what is going on around me. There is so much to be happy about and this weekend brought back those positive feelings. Since I had such an uplifting weekend, I'm optimistic for the weeks to come, taking advantage of any opportunity to spend time with my closest friends, and of course, laugh.  

Cheers to the 20s!