Friday, March 29, 2013

London bound

This week, March 28,  I was able to meet up with Nasser. As we talked, Nasser told me that he had a really rough day this week, dealing with his struggles to adjust to the lifestyle of Texas and America. After a day of going back and forth about how to manage his adjustments, Nasser decided that he is going to transfer out of TCU, vacation in Europe this summer, and attend a university in London.

 It seemed to me that he was very happy about this choice, and that leaving TCU would result in more happiness and enjoyment for Nasser. He hasn't told anyone else the news yet, but he thinks his parents will be excited to hear about his new decision. He did admit that he will be very sad to leave his sister, who also lives in Fort Worth and attends the ESL classes with him. He loves watching his niece and nephew and will miss them a lot, but he thinks it is the best choice for him at this point in his life. 

He explained to me that it is very difficult for him to live in Texas, or America in general, because he feels like an outsider. Coming from Saudi Arabia, he is used to being surrounded by people who share his same beliefs, ideals, and family-oriented lifestyle. While at TCU, Nasser has felt that he doesn’t have many opportunities to connect with his own people and that he would be better suited in London, where many of Saudi Arabians attend university. Additionally, he explained to me that he doesn’t like the lifestyle in Texas in regards to “everything being big.” He thinks we as Americans are too caught up in material things, etc. and that we don’t have the ideals that he cherishes at home. He is excited to live in London, and experience the "big city" lifestyle. He enjoys exploring big cities that are easily explored on foot, as opposed to Texas where everything is spread so far apart. 

Nasser was worried that he offended me by telling me that he doesn’t like our lifestyle, but I assured him I understood and that I was glad he was making a choice to make himself more comfortable. Now that he has made the big decision, he is eager for summer to come so he can move on to a new chapter of his life.

Nasser and I also talked about the books that he is required to read for his English classes at TCU. I found it rather humorous how much Nasser hates the books he was required to read, such as Hunger Games. He couldn’t believe that we, especially as young people, would enjoy a book discussing young children fighting to the death because they were picked in a drawing. 

Yes, I do understand the ridiculousness of the concept of the series, but I absolutely loved the series. Nasser brought a book in that he was reading for leisure; he was reading a philosophy book written by a German writer and explained how he really enjoys reading about philosophy and topics relating to the meaning of life, etc. I was rather impressed because he was reading this deeply intellectual book in English. It is obvious that he has obtained a good grasp and understand about the English language in his ESL classes.

until our next laugh,


Monday, March 25, 2013

weekend relaxations

the perfect weekend


This weekend, I took some time for myself, and set aside time to spend with my friends, creating enjoyable and relaxing moments together. 

I must admit, I spent a lot of time in bed, curled up in the covers with a cup of hot tea on the night stand, as I caught up on some of my favorite television shows. Sometimes I don't realize how busy I am until I sit down and do nothing. It is a quite a relief. 

Since I have come to college, I have recognized that I most definitely need my alone time; whether it be to watch tv alone, lay in bed and let all my tangled up thoughts unravel, or simply go for a drive along a nice Texas highway. I like to be alone, but I also love to be surrounded by those who bring out the laughter and excitement within me. I cherish my time I can spend alone with no distractions, allowing me to escape from my massive to-do list. 

After taking time to let myself unwind, I spent genuine time with some of my dear friends. My roommates and I became overly excited to use my new "mini-pie maker," which I won on Good Morning America when I was in New York for Spring Break! I am not one to cook or bake on my free time, but I thought it would be fun to make a little dessert, and enjoy it with laughter on top. 

Our pies were magnificent, topped with a scoop of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. It was quite a success. I realized that we all get so caught up in our school work, internship searches, and other obligations, we never take time to relax and do something we really enjoy. Making the mini pies was a fun little escape from our daily routines. When we opened up the griddle and realized we were successful, spouts of laugher echoed through the kitchen, and we eagerly ate them quickly. 

As I spent time with my friends, I came across a quote that made me recognize that I need to not be in such a rush to grow up, but to remember that there is still a child inside of all of us. 

"there is a certain happiness to being silly and ridiculous."

Some days, we just have to recognize that life is meant to be enjoyed and that all things don't need to be taken so seriously. I am working on this in my own life, in an effort to really enjoy each day that I am given. As I try to find enjoyment in everything I do, I am will be paying more attention to songs that I enjoy, a message from a loved one, and the extra five minutes laying in my bed, swaddled in the cozy sheets. 

In life, we are meant to live, not just exist

As my definitions of humor, laugher, and happiness are expanding this semester, whether it be through group discussions, funny videos, novels about dark humor, or even my blogs, I believe that I am growing as an individual...growing to enjoy life more through laughter. 

I wrote about Slaughter House Five in my other post, but I thought I would mention it a bit here. As a dark humor novel, I completed the book feeling rather indifferent. I neither hated it, nor loved it, but rather accepted it for what it was. It was incongruous, for it was not what would be expected when talking about the violent bombings of Dresden, but Vonnegut's commentary made the novel enjoyable and easily readable. 

until our next laugh, 

amanda hubbs 

dark humor

slaughter house five

After finishing Slaughter House Five, I feel as though my definition of humor has yet again expanded. When I first began this semester, humor to me was a funny joke, wit, or a comedian. Throughout the course, I have added on to my definition dramatically. Now, I can relate humor to the Relief Theory, the Superiority Theory, or even the Incongruity Theory. Humor is a means of expression, release, and pleasure. 

Humor can be the laughter induced by someone else's pain, the outburst of laughter when one releases their struggles and frustration, or one can even find humor in unexpected situations. Upon reading Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five, humor in my mind has developed further. 

Dark Humor. That is the plain and simple definition of Vonnegut's commentary about the Dresden bombing, which many of us had unfortunately heard of before. When I read this book, I caught myself feeling rather indifferent about the content, which I find surprising. This novel is filled with commentary that runs all over the map, time traveling, fighting in wars, and drunkenly calling old friends. The reading itself was rather simple to take in, but I wouldn't consider this novel an "easy read." I believe that there are many underlying messages being conveyed through the text, especially that of dark humor. 

Dark humor, also known as black comedy or humor, is a form of humor that makes light of otherwise depressing, saddening, or dark subjects: Dresden bombing. 

The Dresden bombing was a massacre that took the lives of over 25,000 innocent humans. With a topic like this, one would expect a serious commentary on the struggle of the innocent, the fight for life, etc. But, playing off of the Incongruity Theory, the readers are provided with a much different volume of text. 

Vonnegut explains that he originally wanted to write a book about the Dresden bombings, but could never remember enough to write about. The rest of the book follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, who travels through time, communicates and interacts with aliens and fights in the bloody war. Throughout the novel, the main character is all over the place, switching from the commentary on the hot shower in the war camps, to the spaceship the Tralfamadorians picked him up in. In this sense, it may be viewed as a more "difficult read." 

I believe that one of the main reasons this novel is viewed as dark humor is because Vonnegut actually did survive the Dresden bombing, allowing ourselves to justify the fact that the seriousness of the topic is extracted, in a way. I do believe that if an outsider, one who did not take part in the vulgar war and bombing of Dresden, the commentary would be even more greatly criticized. Because some of the accounts do come first hand experiences, the humor within Vonnegut's writings are accepted as dark humor, not inappropriate. Although this book is banned frequently banned in schools, it is a well-known novel, explicitly explained as dark humor. 

One of my favorite (I suppose I should use favorite lightly) scenes near the end of the novel is the man and his tea pot. I believe I viewed the scene as humorous because of the chaos and violence occurring all around the battlefield, and one man is killed primarily because he stole a tea pot. There, I believe, Vonnegut's humor, and possibly disgust, with the war is deeply expressed. 

As an anti-war book, Vonnegut wrote the novel in an unexpected and creative way, which possibly has led to its great popularity and well-known nature. As I mentioned before, as I read the novel I found myself indifferent to the writing, neither enjoying it nor disliking it. I think I merely accepted the writings as it came, which I am going to try to continue implementing as I read future novels, in an effort to expand my own creativity and enjoyment. 

until our next laugh, 

amanda hubbs 

Monday, March 18, 2013

houston & nyc chit chat

Nasser, my ESL partner, and I got to meet up today to talk about our spring breaks. Nasser was eager to tell me all about his trip, driving all the way to Houston, Texas. On his trip, he, his sister, his brother-in-law, and their children, all drove to San Antonio, College Station, and Houston. He told me how much he did not like College Station because it was way too small and had absolutely nothing to do. Although he is not a big fan of Fort Worth, Texas, he did admit that he likes it much more than College Station and is glad he goes to TCU instead of Texas A&M. Ha, me too! 

Nasser enjoyed the River Walk in San Antonio and thought it was a great place to visit. He enjoyed the night life, and loved exploring a new city. While in Houston, Nasser explained that he didn't do too much, but that it was a much needed break and he enjoyed the vacation.  Although he got stuck following his sister around while she shopped, he enjoyed his trip to the southern areas of Texas. 

Nasser asked me why everyone was wearing green yesterday, and I was able to tell him all about St. Patrick's Day! He thought it was just so funny that everyone wore green, shamrocks, and funny Irish clothing. He really got a kick out of the crazy holiday that we as Americans amplify to such a great level. And when you do think about the tradition, it is rather humorous! 

I was able to tell Nasser all about my trip to New York, and he was very interested to learn about the different landmarks in New York City, for he has never been there before. I told him all about the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, and the Plaza. I even got to tell him about the St. Patrick's Day parade that was in full swing on Saturday. 

A "parade" was a new term for Nasser to learn and he immediately related it to "Carnival." I find it so interesting that there are things, such as a parade, that we deem as a normal term or concept, but when we are asked why we do such things, it is difficult to explain. Sometimes the easiest response is ..."just because?" But that of course is no help. 

When I tried to explain why we as American celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I realized that I didn't even know myself. Why do we celebrate it? Why do we all wear green, and get pinched if we don't? It is in fact an odd concept. 

By talking to Nasser, I have become much more aware of my own country's customs, and I have recognized that they are not exactly "normal." But what really is normal? I personally don't think there is a normal, but rather things we have been accustomed to, and accepted as tradition without questioning why. 

Now that I am more aware of the fact that our customs and traditions are not universal, I am more eager to understand the true meaning of why we do certain things and why we participate in particular traditions. My ESL discussions have made me much more aware and eager to learn. 

until our next laugh, 


new york city // the city that never sleeps

the city that never sleeps

I am sad to see spring break slowly slip away, as we reach the end of the semester and the pile up of assignments, test, and papers. But, it's okay, spring break was a wonderful break from the stress of school. 

I was so lucky to travel to New York for my spring break, exploring the city with some of my dearest friends. 

I can honestly say, I practically ate my way through the city. But, there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Eating the local NY cuisine was my way of exploring the city, escaping from the typical tourist attractions. Yes, I did see Freedom Tower, and Grand Central Station, and took a few pictures of Times Square, but it will be the experiences of exploring and getting lost in a new city that I will remember the most. 

One of my favorite little places to eat was Alice's Tea Cup... almost 3 hours of my second day in NY was spent sipping on a delicious pot of tea, munching on moist and delicious scones, enjoying the company of my dearest friends. Needless to say, there was much laughter that echoed from our side of the little pink tea room. It was pure relaxation and enjoyment. 

Laughter and food were two staples of my trip to the big apple. 

Our first evening, my roommate and I were terribly lost in the underworld of the NY subway system...and both of our phones had died. Everyone that was waiting for us had no idea where we were, and well... neither did we. But, we made the absolute best of it. We ran up and down the terminals of the subway, in and out of the turnstiles, eagerly trying to figure out where we were and where we needed to be. Every wrong turn transformed into a spat of contagious giggles, and it was actually quite relieving. Relief Theory anyone?

As I explored the city, got terribly lost, and dealt with the gobbles of tourists trying to fit on the busy streets of Manhattan, I began to realize much about myself. At a younger age, I would have been easily frustrated with the crowds of people, I would have become emotional and upset upon being lost in the big city, and I probably would have become very homesick. But I realized that I am growing up, and I really like who I am becoming. 

Through the numerous amounts of laughter that was released in the crazy, busy, and seemingly frustrating situations, I did not allow myself to be affected by the negative aspects of the day, but rather learned to laugh them off. And you know what...? That sole idea of laughing off the frustrations made the trip 20 times more enjoyable. 

So, now I am sticking to the idea that I should not get caught up in the small details of life, but rather laugh off the frustrations and enjoy that time that I have here, wherever that may be. 

Additionally, I got to be on the set of Good Morning America! Actually in the studio, which was so cool! It was amazing to see how the production of a live program is constructed and how last minute decisions are made constantly. Also, I was on TV! It was pretty cool if I do say so myself, but it was most definitely an experience I won't forget anytime soon. 

I am beginning to realize that happiness is something that we shouldn't live life without. I am learning to love and enjoy life, and seek laughter in every experience I am faced with. Writing this blog and reading about the true depth of laughter, humor, and happiness have truly exposed me to the joy and excitement that is encompassed within the lives we live, and I am eager to live a happy one. 

 until our next laugh, 


slaughter house five

slaughter house five

I've read Slaughter House Five once before in high school, and I never really recognized the depth and meaning of the novel until my second reading. As Kurt Vonnegut writes the commentary about the war and the tragic, gruesome, and remorseful occurrences, there is great humor encompassed within the story itself. So it goes. 

In Chapter 3, one of the main scenes that stuck out to me was the plaque with the Serenity Prayer..

God grant me me
The serenity to accept
the things I cannot change, 
to change the things I can, 
and wisdom always to tell the difference. 

I have always kept this prayer written somewhere in my room, car, or even my phone. I've always felt some sort of connection with these words. Billy Pilgrim's commentary on this prayer was something I found to be  very interesting. 

"Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future." 

Here we see the hopelessness that Billy Pilgrim seems to feel, as he is stuck in frustration with time and its control. I believe that the idea of being stuck in time, with things that we are unable to change, serve as relatable topics that we as readers, and humans, can relate to completely. It is true that we as humans, in fact, have little to no control on the past, present, or future, which makes the statement about Billy Pilgrim's hopelessness relatable, to some. 

Throughout the first three chapters, there are great descriptions of destructive and gruesome events that occurred in the war, but most were complemented with, "so it goes." Destruction turns casual...Incongruity Theory in action. 

Death is something that is never given any emotion, or remorse within Slaughter House Five, for it is displayed as a part of life, something that does not merit emotion or sadness. So it goes. 

This could be deemed sad, to think that one's death is merely a part of life and not a saddening event, but I believe it is Vonnegut's humor coming out to play. Perhaps Vonnegut is mocking the nature of humans to mourn the passing of a loved one, but I believe my analysis will be much stronger as I complete the book. 

One of my favorite parts of the book is the explanation of how so many men were killed, the city was burned to ashes, and one man was arrested for taking a teapot. Here I see Vonnegut's humor playing an active role immediately in the opening of the novel. Here, there is great incongruity in the fact that one would not expect the arrest of a man solely because he stole a teapot, while the whole city is being burned to ruins. Although subtle, Vonnegut's humor is active throughout the novel, especially with the commentary of "so it goes," and "poo-tee-weet."

As I already see humor actively working within Vonnegut's novel, Slaughter House Five, I am eager to complete the novel and recognize and appreciate the humor that I did not see in my first time reading this novel. 

Until our next laugh, 


Monday, March 4, 2013

nothing better than family

This weekend, I had to travel home to Albuquerque, New Mexico, last minute when I got a phone call about my uncle. I was told he was going into emergency surgery, and things weren't looking good...

This was not the original plan for the weekend. It was Mom's Weekend for my sorority and I was SO excited to have my mom and aunt come in and spend the weekend with me. We had dinner, shopping, and many other things planned to fill the weekend, and I was counting down the days. On Wednesday night, I was sitting in night class when I checked my phone and had seven missed calls and two voicemails. I knew something had to be going on....

When I listened to the voicemails, I was given the news. My uncle was about to have a quadruple bypass surgery. My mom and aunt were not longer coming to Fort Worth, which was clearly the right choice. Yes, it was disappointing to miss out on the fun weekend, but family is top priority. I knew what I needed to; I quickly booked my flight and headed home Friday morning. 

The weekend was spent sitting in the lonely halls of the hospital, waiting for news, and comforting family members. We almost lost my uncle twice this weekend, and it was a huge wake up call for all of us. It became so apparent that life is so short, and we should never take advantage of our time here. We all realized that we must set aside out differences and come together as one; after all, we are family. 

While we wandered the halls of the hospital for hours on end, my mom, aunt, and I made up for lost time. We reminisced on old memories, and truly tried making the best of the situation. As sad as it was to see the family hurting in a time when many things were uncertain, we came together as a family and bonded over lost time, and we created a weekend that we won't forget for many years. In fact, there was contagious laughter that rang through the hospital, joking and teasing, crying and laughing over stories we had never heard before. I tend to be one to hold in my emotions, but this weekend... I laughed, I cried, and I had an absolutely wonderful time with my family. 

It's unfortunate that a situation like this is what it took to get the whole family together, but it brought us together, making us closer than we have ever been before. I am so excited to hear that my uncle will be able to go home tomorrow, and spend time in his own house finally! 

While I was home, I spent time looking at old pictures, and realizing that our time here is limited; this trip redefined my view on life and the opportunities I need to take advantage of, and the wrongs I must forgive. I came across many pictures of laughter and happiness; it was great to see the love back in action this weekend. 

Just as it is said, laughter is the best medicine. I truly believe the family bonding, the laughter, and the love that filled my uncle's hospital room improved the morale and made everyone realize what was truly important. 

While I was reminiscing on old times, I came across this great picture of my loving parents from my Dad's graduation and achievement of his PhD. I am so proud to have him as my dad; although we may not always see eye to eye, I shared an amazing time of laughter and happiness with him this weekend...meant the absolute world to me. 

until our next laugh,