I’m excited–Amazon thinks I’m funny.  I’ve waited my whole life to be funny–I’m used to people laughing at me, not with me, like when they nicknamed me “Ultragorgon” in middle school after we studied Greek mythology.  Regular “gorgon” wasn’t gorgon enough.

I don’t always recognize when people are laughing at me, not with me, so I’ve checked the Amazon page twice to make sure.  There it is.  Don’t Sniff the Glue landed in the humor section.  For a moment, I’m right next to Kurt Vonnegut.

I feel like Mr. Vonnegut’s next-door neighbor.  I imagine walking next door to borrow a cup of sugar.

Being in the humor section is really cool.  Education’s not much different from humor, I suppose.  “You’re going to spend an entire year learning about dead people while writing five-paragraph essays.” Kids can make fun of a lot of dead people in a five-paragraph essay.

Teaching is little more than delivering six forty-five minute standup segments every day.

I check the humor list to see who’s funnier than me.

Lily Tomlin, Tina Fey, David Sedaris, Amy Poelher.  They’re all very funny. There are also some people I don’t know.  Perhaps they’re not that funny and I can defeat them and be Tina Fey’s next door humor neighbor.  I’d borrow sugar from her and laugh.

This book release stuff is tough–so many details. I botched up a lot.  It took days to get the paperback linked to the Kindle so they’re both on the same page and readers like Tim Hodge won’t be confused and accidentally buy two copies.

Thanks, though, Tim.  You’re the one who got me ranked next to Kurt Vonnegut and possibly Tina Fey.  Buy another copy for your cat. I’ll sign it.

Book releases are all about numbers.  It’s addictive, like running on a treadmill next to That Amazing Gym Guy.  What’s the first thing we do when we see numbers?  We try to beat them.

In the case of Amazing Gym Guy,  I can’t catch him on a treadmill…but when he jacks up his speed, I jack mine up too.  I’m not going to have him thinking he picked the treadmill next to Slow Woman just to feel good about himself.

That’s what society’s based on.  Numbers–ranking people so we can feel good about ourselves.  I’m feeling pretty good number watching on Amazon, but I wish numbers weren’t so important in education.  It’s getting too high stakes for me.  Testing, evaluations, rubrics.

“You’re looking like an 85 today, but you–you’re an 87!”  And it’s not just the kids, either–with careers riding on I-don’t-care-what-you-say-they’re-subjective evaluation numbers, teachers and schools are doing some really strange things.

I’m doing strange things as I see the Amazon numbers, like taking screenshots of myself next to Kurt Vonnegut imagining myself borrowing two eggs and baking him a cake.  We’re going to be best friends.

I’m not really a competitive person by nature.  I used to compete in martial arts.  I lost a lot until a wise old master said,  “You’re a very good sport and a gracious loser… but you can be a gracious winner as well.”

That’s deep and true.  With a little shift of the mind–it’s all about the mind–I became a gracious winner.  Not an easy thing for someone nicknamed Ultragorgon who grew up playing left bench in basketball.

I might not be funnier than Amy Poelher, Tina Fey and Lily Tomlin, and thank God Louis CK didn’t write a book because he’s funnier than me, too… but Amazing Gym Guy on Humor Treadmill, here I come.  I see my numbers.  I jack up the speed.  I imagine Lorne Michaels texting me, asking me to prepare a monologue… I jack up the speed again.

“You’re the girl who fell off the treadmill,” said the lady in the locker room one day.

“Oh, no, not me… you must be thinking of someone else.”  The blood streaming down my knees gave it away.  I’d fallen not once, but twice in perfect succession. You can’t get back up, I found, when the treadmill’s still moving.  It’s a disaster!

Life’s disasters make us who we are.  Every..single..experience.

Thanks for buying two copies of my book, Tim.  Unlike my mom, you didn’t have to.  You helped me get where I am today–next to Kurt Vonnegut and soon to be next to Tina Fey.  I’m on the island of humor… Where I intend to stay, laughing, because life’s too short to do anything else.

 

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Me next to Calvin & Hobbes. The comic ones, not the philosophers.

 

Note: I’ve been talking about education quite a bit, but despite the problems in American education, we’re still lucky.  My friends are trying to fund a school in Uganda, where these kids will really appreciate every chance they get.  If you’re able to join the Misfits and the Lessons for Life Foundation in supporting a school where kids really need you, please click here.  I’ll be sending signed books and maybe some of my famous peach jam (if I get the canning done!) to some of the campaign’s most enthusiastic supporters, and nice thank yous to all! 

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