I am trying to be mindful of my Western readers even as I sink further into the Middle East. Being mindful is a state of mind which should be practiced by all (including me) more frequently. I shall perhaps speak more of mindfulness but shall instead practice it. I am mindful that my appeal, my attraction is my humor – both in real life and on the blog. In real life, it comes naturally – this morning decided to be serious but within minutes of being around people at breakfast, the jokes and laughter rang out. A rather handsome young man came up to my table:
He: Hi Alexis! How are you this morning?
Me: Great, what about you?
To be perfectly honest, I was not sure how he remembered my name and I did not recognize him. But then it slowly dawned on me, because he gave me a clue or two.
He: We did not have breakfast when we met on the beach!
Me: No – we had not.
Then we laughed about my accent and I did my imitation British accent, which he found rather enchanting. Well, he remembered my name as it is the same as his. I simply HAD to text Grandson.
Me: See this picture? This guy’s name is Alexis – he is French. Met him on the beach. He is a filmer. He funny.
He: Wow handsome
Me: Your are more handsome!! But your name is not Alexis , But mine is.
He: (Many laughing emojis).
Me: I love, love , love making my Grandson laugh.
Me: With all of these pictures you are having breakfast with me okay?
He: Busy work
Me: Having breakfast with me IS busy work because I talk to everyone.
But back to the task at hand – which is re-introducing humor into the blog. As usual I am aided and abetted by The New Yorker. This time an interview with my ABSOLUTE HERO Mel Brooks, who is ninety-five. Now that is OLD – even older than 78. I quote from the article, written by Michael Schulman.
“When you parody something, you move the truth sideways,” Brooks writes in “All About Me!” The book, which comes out this week, covers his ninety-five years of life with a tummler’s panache: his childhood in Depression-era Brooklyn, his years writing for Sid Caesar, in the fifties, his creation (with Buck Henry) of “Get Smart,” in the sixties, his marriage to Anne Bancroft, and his remarkable run of movies, among them “The Producers” (he won an Oscar for the screenplay), “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Spaceballs.” More recently, he modelled social distancing with his son, the zombie-fiction writer Max Brooks, and began work on the long-awaited “History of the World, Part II,” which will be a Hulu series. When I spoke to him, he was sitting in his den on a bright California day, watching “a great big tan-and-gray owl in one of my cypress trees outside.” In our conversation, which has been edited and condensed, we talked about comedy, sandwiches, and the truths he’s told sideways.”
Mel talked about being run over at the age of eight or nine, turning it into a joke (of course)
“I was very lucky. That would have been the end. I think I said, “Goodbye, cruel world!” Could you imagine an eight year old saying: “Goodbye cruel world”? It makes me laugh just thinking about it.
Then this – he talks about his childhood being the best time of his life, from the age of about four to the age of nine. Then the inquiry and the answer: “What happened at nine?” “Homework.” That again is SO funny. In a way, simple but that is what makes it funny, it is all rather improbable.
Then he tells Shulman the secret of his success, which is never say no but just don’t do what they say, throw the notes in the waste paper basket, promise “No farts”
Shulman: That is great advice for life.
Mel: It is. Don’t fight them. Don’t waste your time struggling with them and trying to make sense to them. They’ll never understand.
Then there is this hilariously funny exchange occasioned by Shulman asking if he is going to sing and dance in History of the World Part II.
Are you going to act on the show?
I don’t think so. I’m ninety-five, for Chrissake. Gimme a break!
Well, you just wrote a four-hundred-and-fifty-page book.
Writing is a lot easier than getting up onstage and singing and dancing, I’ll tell you that.
Then there is a discussion about Mel’s longevity which is also so, so funny. “ In “The 2000 Year Old Man,” Carl says, “What’s the secret to your longevity?” I say, “Don’t die.” That’s it. Don’t die. And it gets the laugh.”
I do laugh at that, and not. The people in my life – my ‘sons’, my ‘daughters’, my Grandson are all so much younger than I am. I want to continue to be around them – I guess that the secret is that I ‘don’t die”. Hmmmmm. However, I do believe in an afterlife – and would like to get there. It is a dilemma that I cannot solve myself, that is for sure.
If you want to read the entire interview follow this link: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/mel-brooks-writes-it-all-down?utm_source=onsite-share&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=the-new-yorker
Absolutely must attempt to describe an incredible interaction that occurred at the swimming pool yesterday. But there is this expression: You Had to Be There. Nonetheless I shall try.
The water aerobics class was about to begin. Somehow a Russian speaking man and I were in a heated argument – which was a bit difficult as he did not speak English (and goodness knows,) I do not speak Russian. He was most confused as I had told his wife (who was going to be in the class) that I was a Muslim. I shall sort of translate his Russian into English for purposes of clarity.
He: You Muslim
He: You not Muslim. You American.
Me: I am both!
He: I am Russian. Russia will win over you.
Me: No I will win! I am tough woman!
Then we called each other names but I have limited Russian so I called him Putin and then Stalin.
It was starting to be funny, although it did not start out that way, at all.
Me: You should get in the pool and exercise Fatso!
So he did and it was so hilariously funny that I could not stop laughing, the whole time.
He: I am Nickoli
Me: I am Alexis
Me: Russian name I know. Next Czar was going to be Alexis but he got shot by Bolshevicks
The exercises were very well planned – some with rubber weights but also ballerina like movements with our legs.
Me: Nickoli You are very good!
Me: You are like Barisnicov!
I do not think I have ever laughed so hard, my whole life. He was so funny, doing exaggerated movements and being so incredibly proud of himself. At the end of the class he took my hand and kissed it.
Me: I shall never wash this hand now ever again.!
I went to the very able and talented instructor who was, I believe, from the Ukraine.
Me: That was so much fun. I laughed so hard. It should be recorded as it was so amusing.
She: We record all of our sessions, all of the time.
This I did not know! Did not see the cameras. I used to be famous because of the blog, now I shall be famous as Nickoli’s ballet partner. After the class and several waves he walked over to my chaise lounge. It was actually a beautiful encounter
He: Me Russian. You American.
Me: And we are friends.
He fist bumped my right hand, and I his.
Me: This hand fist bumped the Crown Prince of Dubai on November 4, 2019.
We both smiled and shrugged.
This water aerobics class at the Rixos Resort in Abu Dhabi was so much more fun than the ones at the Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, California. Classes attended there in July and August of 2021. I lived and worked in Marin from 1973. The JCC is just down the road from Marin Civic Center where I worked for thirty years. It is strange, bizarre (actually) that I feel so at home here – so happy here – I feel I belong. I did not there, although I did try, in so many ways.
Every morning I drink a green apple detoxification juice, after eight days I feel I am detoxified from the United States of America and all they that dwell within.
They think of everything here. There is a photograph of the iced drinks, different fruits are pictured alongside the drinks as not everyone can read the English signs. That is SO clever.
I am truly in Paradise.
The other photograph is a selfie sent to Grandson, with the following caption.
Me having breakfast wearing facemask given to me by Saudi woman physician.
He: Wow! Very good.
Then a picture of my flat white.
Me: My coffee with a heart and their love. What a way to start the day.
He: Wow! MaSha Allah Great.
I have cold turkeyed Instagram. It is a vast relief! A definition is in order: Go cold turkey is informal meaning to stop using an addictive substance abruptly and completely. To undergo sudden and complete withdrawal from a habitual activity or behavior pattern. My goodness it is a Canadian expression: The expression first appeared in the Daily Colonist in British Columbia in 1921: “Perhaps the most pitiful figures who have appeared before Dr. Carleton Simon … are those who voluntarily surrender themselves. When they go before him, that are given what is called the ‘cold turkey’ treatment.
There is that expression – as I live and learn. Obviously, had to look that up. “ It is said when you hear or discover something that is surprising.”
But back to being mindful, bet you thought I had forgot! Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. … When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Now I am going to tell you how to become a mindful person. It is stolen from the Internet, I do have to admit.
Take a walk outside. Taking a breather outside is one of the most mindful things you can do. …
Stay present, and in the moment, even when you find your mind drifting off. …
Create something, anything. …
Breathe deeply. …
Disconnect from your phone. …
Be Bored. …
Do not multitask. …
At the moment am experiencing 2,3, and most importantly, 8.