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Tag: genetic humor

Deep Thoughts by Chris Sansbury

I recently found out  that a friend’s granddaughter has a photographic memory. Never one to miss an opportunity to waste hours ruminating over useless hypothetical questions, the next morning I sat drinking my coffee wondering why I didn’t also have a photographic memory.

How can you expect me to remember anything when you are always asking me to forget everything?” a pretentious little voice asked.

“What are you talking about?” I questioned.

“You are always telling me, ‘Forget this ever happened, Brain. It’s for our own good’.”

Offended I asked, “Like what?” .

“Well obviously I can’t remember,” my brain yelled back taking offense itself.

Maybe people with photographic memories have a better time accepting reality and don’t continuously write and rewrite their past like I do. (Never forgetting to highlight myself in the very best light.) Or maybe people with photographic memories are more in the moment. That way each task they do, their brain is paying attention to it, rather than, as my brain tends to do, running off barefoot like a feral child through a dense forest.

Incidentally, in no way shape or form have I ever considered that I am simply not as smart as someone with a photographic memory. Never. Not possible. I’m sure if I worked at it I could have my own photographic memory. I choose not to have a photographic memory, that’s all. I don’t feel like doing the hard work.

“Now you’re telling me to forget that we know that we are not smart enough to have a photographic memory.”

“What? I did not. Shhh. Go run in the forest.”

So, an X and a Y Chromosome Walk Into a Bar

The punchline is: You get the genes your parents gave ya’!

I have some pretty nasty hereditary diseases hidden in my genetic code: Alzheimer’s, alcoholism, suicide, impatience, bad posture and nonexistent calves.

Before I had kids, I would occasionally fret over the myriad of disasters that awaited my unborn children. (Another defect: worrying too much. Don’t worry; I worry about that, too.) Should I get an egg donor with a “purty” resume so we can have it all be a surprise, like a genetic box of chocolates? Is it better to know what you might get or to have a whole world of possible catastrophes?

I also wondered what my children would look like. I had dreamed of dark-haired, light-eyed children. (This is a lie. Like all Barbie haters, I truthfully wanted a blue-eyed girl with curly blond hair. I remember as a 14-year-old reading a passage in Maya Angelou’s  autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” about how she couldn’t wait to grow up to be a cute blond white girl. Me, too! I was shocked. Our lives couldn’t have been more different, but as a little girl, I wished and prayed to grow up to be a blue-eyed blonde.)

I thought I had a chance for my dark-haired, light-eyed offspring because my husband’s mother’s eyes were green, and my mother’s eyes are blue. But instead I got two light-haired, dark-eyed boys. (It is quite difficult putting blue-colored contacts in a 2- and a 4-year-olds’ eyes every morning. Afterward, I hardly have the energy to dress them.)

How is it decided who gets which trait anyway? I have some vague memory of dominant and recessive genes (remember Punnett Squares?) from ninth-grade biology class, but I don’t think even scientists know exactly how a gene is chosen.

My husband likes to think genes are chosen by a war between the X and the Y chromosome. His genes, he says, are dominant, and slaughtered my genes. But I wonder did his march in and decimate my whole DNA colony, or did each trait have to individually fight to the death? (If the latter scenario is true, then a couple of the underdogs survived — my chin, with only a little strength left, hoisted itself onto my younger son’s face, barely there it was so weak.)

This chin — like the stubbornness, the raging teenage years and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder — was a top reason for me to never breed. My older brother and I both have it. He gets to hide his behind a goatee, and although I will be able to do the same in a couple of years, for now I have to cart this ski slope around under my mouth. As we age, this chin sours and melts into a flapping, droopy, chicken wattle. Eventually, the wattle grows a mouth and loudly calls (often skinnier) people fat.

My brother and I joke that we are saving for a chin lift, a group-discounted package of plastic surgery. Truthfully, I hope he is saving and will treat me (the greediness gene beat the charity out of the giving gene, another point for Sansbury).

However the gentics decided who would dominate, I look at my children and wonder: What genetic defect will pop up like a wicked jack-in-the-box? Will I get a warning, a sign of the looming trait? Whenever my 4-year-old mistakenly calls me Dada, I think, “There it is: early-onset Alzheimer’s.”

Or when my 2-year-old threatens harakiri after spilling one drop of water on his shirt, I fret that he is OCD and I up his dose of Captain Pfizer’s Chewable Emotion-Prevention Tablets (soon available in your water).

How did I get here? When your children are born, you hold them in your hands and look down at their innocent faces and you think: “I’m going to hold you and love you and protect you from every hurt in the world.”

Then you think of all the crap you have passed down to them. And you must say, “Here is my gift to you sweet child: a large nose, 11 toes, hair so thin it is transparent. Middle school, the most torturous time of your life, will build you into a witty conversationalist and a good friend.” Because as Helen Keller said(and she knew):

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” 

My sweet baby, I have passed down to you the gift of character. I hope you can receive it graciously.

And if not, I guess I can pay for a couple therapy sessions. (Three max.)

Nature vs. Nurture? The Truth Exposed!

The Age-old question is finally answered.

There is one rule to good parenting. Memorize it. You will need it numerous times over your children’s lifetimes.

You may find that it is particularly handy concerning interactions between your children and the public, especially embarrassing ones. For example, you can chant this principle to yourself as you take the normally short walk from your friend’s house back to yours. Repeat it as you fake smile and wave to your neighbors, who all seem to be out working in their yards on this beautiful Wednesday afternoon. Reiterate it between clenched teeth as your 3-year-old, riding his bike next to you, is hysterically crying and screaming, “I don’t like you! I’m scared!” the entire way home.

Or perhaps you are at a party, happily enjoying a rare moment talking to other adults, when you start to hear out of the corner of your ear, “Look, O is taking his clothes off, he is getting naked in the back yard!” You turn in horror as the whole party watches your child relieve himself on your friend’s lawn. Later, after the clean up, you may remember that you were too busy chatting to listen when he walked by you and said, “doo doo grass.” What would ever possess him to do that? You know you never would have done such a thing as a child. Is this some latent nature-boy gene passed on from your spouse?

To answer this and a myriad of other parenting questions you just need to know one rule: All good behavior exhibited by your child is due to your brilliant and suave parenting skills, and all negative behavior is a direct result of your child’s genetic makeup (from your in-laws) and therefore cannot be changed by any means.

The reciprocal is true for every other person’s children. Any good behavior displayed by their children is luck of the draw from their genetic cesspool, and all negative behavior is directly caused by their blatantly poor parenting skills.

This guideline can be used for both parents that you feel a little intimidated by (because they seem smarter and more successful than you) and also for parents to whom you feel superior (because you are smarter and more successful).

First of all, it should be noted that you never encounter the former because success must always be defined in a way that makes you more successful than to whomever you are comparing yourself. If, for example, you happen to be in the company of some people who make more money than you, then it is important to define success in terms of how much love you have in your life. Look, you have a beautiful wife and wonderful kids. They love you. Your life is filled, not with material things, but with love, and love is what makes the world go round. And, by the way, you choose to live in a tiny house because it leaves a smaller carbon footprint, and you are a friend to Mother Earth.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself in the company of some lovebirds who make you sick with their affections, you must remind yourself that you make more money than them, and well, love won’t feed your kids, now will it? Not that love and are mutually exclusive … but they are. (Except for you.)

Now that you are confident that you are more successful than everyone, you might fret that you are not as smart, but you just need to remind yourself that you are street smart, and that’s the one that really counts.

It may happen, rarely, that you encounter someone who is both really smart and really successful. And with all your might you can’t convince yourself otherwise. It is then important to remember that one really can be too smart for their own good, and this person is obviously over-thinking their parenting and therefore they must really be screwing their kids up. (They might look OK for now … but just wait.)

Look at you! You are smart and successful, and what beautiful kids you have! They must have picked up their good looks from your side of the family. In fact, just today, when you were admiring your son you thought, “I’ve never seen someone wear a weak chin so well.” You should be proud.

So relax, you know the key to good parenting, and you are doing the best job that can be done. And even though you might have noticed that your youngest son is showing signs becoming a kleptomaniac, what can be done? It must be genetic.

Actually, now that you think about it, your mother-in-law’s Aunt Ginny was one, too.

What Does Buddha Eat for Breakfast?

Buddha dumbs it down for Chris’ simple brain…but not enough.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, my husband, my mother and I came to the group decision that instead of the home birth that I desired, I would have the baby at a birth center. It was an agreeable compromise. They were both nervous about a home birth, and I was nervous about a hospital one.

My husband and I were not sure if our insurance company was going to pay for the birth center, even though it was about $6,000 less than an uncomplicated hospital birth. I procrastinated doing the paperwork because I didn’t want to find out  it wasn’t covered. Instead, I preferred to have anxiety adrenaline pop my eyes open every morning at 5 a.m. worrying that we were going to have to come up with four grand on our own. Finally, we got the news back from the insurance company. The birth was going to cost us $35.

Now I can rest easy, I thought.

Yet the very next morning my eyes popped open at 5 a.m. and my anxiety brain shouted, Oh no, what if you can’t nurse your baby!? Forcibly kicked out of bed by my new worry, I walked groggily to the kitchen and poured myself a bowl of Cheerios.

I sat hunched and cross-eyed at my dining room table shoveling spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth. As I loaded my spoon with O’s and pulled them up from the milk, my mind exploded. Pop! The spot, where I had just removed the O’s with my spoon, was filled back up with Cheerios.

Inebriated with a toxic mixture of adrenaline, hormones and exhaustion, I drunkenly gazed down at my cereal bowl and experienced multiple epiphanies (I’ve heard only a select few talented women can have them.)

The bowl appeared the size of a Ferris wheel in front of me announcing: This is your mind on anxiety. You get rid of one problem and — Pop! — another one eagerly takes its place.

In that moment I comprehended that I was addicted to anxiety. It wasn’t that I had an unusually bad life, although that year had been particularly stressful, but worry was the state my brain felt comfortable in, like my brain was chewing its cud with my adrenaline:

Frontal Lobe: I’m bored, what should we do today?

Medulla Oblongata:  Let’s jolt her awake at 5 a.m. with anxiety.

Cerebral Cortex: Pick something really extreme like the idea that food coloring will make her children so hyper they will spin around like the Tasmanian Devil until they spontaneously combust.

Hippocampus: Do none of you remember that we did that yesterday by making her think she had a brain tumor?

Amygdala (damaged): Let’s go BASE jumping!

Basal Ganglia: Ugg!

Secondly and a little quieter, I understood that anxiety was simply the desire to control future outcomes. And if anxiety is desire then I had to remove it.

A few years earlier I had learned my first lesson about desire. At the time my husband and I were living on Red Dog Beer and cheap cigarettes in a 150-year-old apartment in Savannah’s historic district. Every week we had to haul our clothes to a scary laundromat that I swore reused other people’s dirty water to “clean” our clothes. I would dream, just dream, of having my own washer and dryer. I promised every god in the universe that if I got them I would never ask for another thing ever again.

Finally we had the money to buy a washer and dryer. The week they were installed I was twinkling, light and airy, filled with glee, and smelling of Gain (Original Scent). I got what I wanted. I wanted. I got. I was satisfied.

It took seven days for me to decide that since we owned our own washer and dryer, we really needed our own house to put them in. (If you give a woman a washer, she’s really going to need a house with that.)

I was as desperate for a house as I was for a washer and dryer. Why? In that moment I had an ant’s comprehension of Buddha’s Noble Truth about Suffering: to end suffering, one must end desire. Not because desiring things are bad but because desire in itself is insatiable.

Desire is a bowl of Cheerios: If you remove one, another just pops up in its place.

Now how do I end desire?

I really want to end it. I do. I do. I really, really do.

Buddha: Sigh