Sunday, May 08, 2022

Un/like My Mother: A Series

It's Mother's Day. I wrote this three's years ago about my mom. I could edit it so it's a bit more current but I think I'll not and instead turn this into a series, to honor her. Some stories may be of how we differ, but I imagine most will be how we are similar. I hope that's the case, anyway, because I should be so lucky. 
 

I was reading some funny tweets about ways people have turned into their parents. One of them was,

 "I can watch the entire Grammy's and not recognize a single person." That would be true for me as well. I hardly know what's cool and new out there and I can't bother to even care.   

Another one was, 

"I've licked my thumb and cleaned someone's face with it"  and this is one where I differ.

My mother used to do this. I remember the scent of that mom saliva well. It was definitely gross but still somehow motherly and familiar.  I think i can remember the smell of her lipstick as well.  Well, I don't do this because, again, gross.  What I do is make Julian lick his own thumb and use that to clean his face! Ha ha ha. I think it is so funny, I don't know why. But really, better that than my thumb, right? Your spit, your thumb. Also, your germs. Why use my spit on someone else's face? They'd feel much more comfortable with their own spit on their face, right? Wouldn't you?
_____

Something I do that my mother did is sneak in a plate of something for the kid to munch on whenever I basically can.  Carrot sticks, apple slices, pears, cucumbers. My mom was always doing this. Whatever I was doing, probably mostly reading, somehow there was always a small plate of crunchies to snack on that had suddenly slid into view. How it got there, who knew.  It was just there. At the table, beside me on the couch. And it was great. 
_____

Reading.  My mom used to read to my younger sister and me and I don't know how she had the time or energy for it. She had a trillion things to do with as many other children but she read so many books to us at bedtime, sandwiched between squirts on one of our twin beds, us dabbing her tired eyes for her because they watered and stung as she read.  What love.    Julian is doing Battle of the Books this year and we've read most of them together (mostly because that's the only way he'll do it). It's been seriously the best, though.  I'm finding I'm loving the books written 50+ years ago vs. the newer ones. Judy Moody, i just can't get on board with you. I can't even remember anything about it.  But Rabbit Hill written in the 40's? Yes, yes, yes. Anyway, I love reading to him.  I love reading to people in general. I was telling some friends my dream would be to read Harry Potter to people who'd never read it. Just travel the world with my books and share the good word-literally, from cover to cover. I just want to be there with someone and experience it with them for the first time, again (and again).  
_____ 

 Piano practice.  My mom used to sit by us for piano and crochet afghans.  She made so many afghans and didn't have a specific plan for any of them. Now I know it was probably where she could channel her inner rage at our fits and crying. Just crochet like mad. Recently she had a bunch of afghans she'd made and was planning to get rid of. NOPE. I intervened and now I have several piano rage blankets and I love them. Sadly, I have no crocheting skills but have taken to cleaning nearby in case he needs help.  Actually these days it's best if i'm not around at all because the kid has serious piano stress and anxiety and I think my being around makes it worse. Also he will not learn for himself if I'm there. Like he's incapable of looking at his music and just figuring things out.  But the first day or two after lessons are still a bit tricky, so I'll stick around and wow, those floors sure get a good scrubbing.  *end of original post*



My mom's getting older. And guess what, I'm getting older, too. And the older I get, the more I notice things that we share. Traits, qualities, tastes, preferences. Some are small and seemingly insignificant, some are bigger, with a deeper meaning. But it's like they've just.. happened. Things that were always there, now rising, bubbling to the surface of my awareness.They are all meaningful to me. And they bubble up more and more these days and I'd like to record them.
  
I'm excited about this project.  Stay tuned. 


Sunday, May 01, 2022

Birthday

 T'was my birthday recently.  Life is such that I kept forgetting about it as it was not in the forefront of my mind.  Many other things were getting in the way of my attention and taking up every bit of brain space I had (and more!).  It's sad and lame that people care less about their birthdays as they get older. Life gets in the way of caring, I guess.  But I couldn't let that happen.  And I always like celebrating, for whatever reason.  So at the last minute I finally made a plan. I decided I'd go on a solo hike. And then I thought, I am fun, but a friend would be better, and happily I was able to find one.  We hiked to the hot pools and it was a good 5-6 hr excursion. We hiked, we soaked, and we talked and talked and talked.  I keep reading things that say socializing while in nature is basically the best thing you can do, the best kind of therapy and guess what, it's true.  I was cured of everything after that.  ALL of my problems.  Here is a pic of me mid-healing and Lora, my soon-to-be moving away friend. Isn't that always how it goes.

                          


The afternoon was filled with friends and well-wishers and a mailbox full of cards.  What treasures.  I loved it all. People are the best.  

One friend brought a gift and a bunch of balloons. I held the balloons while we chatted and Sean laughed to come down to find me like this and I realized this is just the kind of thing I want to do. Hold on to balloons and just sit in my birthday.  It was great and might be an idea I borrow.  "Happy birthday. And here are your balloons to hold. Now just be in it. Be in your birthday."  



Newsflash: Sean is the greatest human.   Why? Exhibit A: This birthday sign.  First, I just love his style. People who care noticed the precision of his writing, saying it looked like a font. "Yeah. It's Sean font," I explain.  

Second, JENSDAY. Took me a good minute to realize it was a play on WEDNESDAY, which was the day my bday landed on. *brain explosion* I know.  SEAN!  Why does he know me so well. Why does he know that birthday/name puns are my exact love language.  He said he considered JEDNESDAY which would have also been acceptable.  

still sitting in my birthday, even w/out balloons. 


After a dinner of Thai food (the perfect birthday food) presents appeared and they were all amazing. Here are a few of them. 

1- A typewriter. *every single heart emoji, even the poo-brown one* Apparently you can buy newly made but old-looking Royals and she and I already have a deep and meaningful relationship going. 

2- A bowl.  This bowl is beautiful and this is why.  Sean and I shared a casual, passing conversation some time ago about how we needed a bowl.  It went something like this:

SEAN: We should get a bowl here. I liked that bowl we were using [to hold some stuff].
JEN: Yeah, a pretty bowl would be good. 
SEAN: Yes.

And he bought one and gifted it to me. A vintage, pretty blue bowl. Somehow I feel like this is a symbol of our life and relationship.  We share a space and existence and we both seek after pretty things that are mutually-pleasing. He cares, and I care. I think about it, and he thinks those thoughts too. And he did the work to find one and then gave it to me. And then I loved it.

3- This rolling shelf. I have so many craft supplies and nowhere to put them. I often pull out the things I want and leave a big heap on the table for days. And nothing really had a good place.  Until now.  Sean bought two of these:
And turned them into this: 


shelf cart, typewriter, bowl.

It is the best.  

Part of the gifts is the way they're presented.  For example: He makes pull tabs for me for easy box-opening:

                                     
You never really know what kinds of things will make you swoon. That's like 95% of the gift right there.

He also hand-makes cards and forces Julian to be in on it as well. 


Including the message because I want it documented as the greatest birthday card message known to man. 
"informal clubs" 
                           

Julian's card:

                                            

just the best. 
                                                   
He also bought a cake from a company that ships them from NY.  It was... maybe... the best cake of my life? Would be fair to say? We still talk about it. 

"I miss the cake."
"Me too." 

It was called a Burnt Basque cheesecake, aka a cake from another planet. It was a frigging culinary miracle which we witnessed and then devoured.  Sean told me the background of how it came to be but I forgot it. It was cool though. We decided it was like a molten cheesecake.  Crusty top, cheesecake inside, with a pudding-y soft melty cheesecake center(???) I miss it so much. 
get yours at goldbelly.com 

one more:

what the actual, literal fudge?


favorite prezzies (who recently went camping in a wasteland-gross. What is this place) 

 
Lastly, pictures of our tulips that we planted at the very last second last fall. It's fun when you plant things and then completely forget what you did so you get to surprise yourself:








just in time for the birthday. Thanks, spring, my favoritest of seasons. 


Friday, April 22, 2022

Julian Quote: Philosophy

 Julian said to me one day, 


"Whenever I get bored at school I work on a philosophy book I'm writing."

Me: "You're writing a book on philosophy?"

"It's not really a book on philosophy. It's more like a book on Julian. [ha] I talk about the hypothetical, the theoretical, and the real.  I take one thing, like how that fan is spinning.  That's the real.  And then I think, what would happen if..*gestures to ceiling*... in this situation, a gear popped out of alignment.  That's hypothetical.  Then I think, in theory, there's a gear that turns the paddles up there.  It's not necessarily real.  But it's plausible.  It's a theory.  And if the gear popped, that would stop the fan."

Me:  ...

 

Does anyone have ideas for me regarding what direction to best point this kid toward?  Anyone else's 12-year-old like this? Please advise. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Julian Quotes: Quick Succession

 I'm not 100% sure but pretty sure these all took place in the same scene. What a whirlwind.  


"I had a dream once that I knew how to make a perpetual motion machine.  And then I tripped and forgot how."


"Not everyone's qualified to build a big gigantic architectural dream."


I wish I could remember the context for this.  Whatever it was, "Gigantic Architectural Dream" needs to be the name of something. 


"I wonder when they started putting pockets in pants."


"Is that why people made expensive paintings big? So they're harder to steal?"


"You know, if I had unlimited wishes, we could rule the world.  We wouldn't even have to go grocery shopping."

Quickly going from ruling the world to more practical uses. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Julian Quote: What's Inside?

 We were swimming in a pool last summer when Julian said, 

"There was a time when I learned everything I knew by asking, 'what's inside?' Like, a car engine, a clock, a penis. Anything."


I find this so adorable, amazing, and symbolic of how to really get a the good things of life.  Getting to the core, the heart of it.  And is probably a great general rule to live by.  

_____

One day he was working on building a rocket in an app. You build it and then see how flightworthy or engineeringly sound it is. This particular rocket consisted of all engines. Only engines. And he described it as being, 

"sheathed in an unearthly glow."

And once again I tell him he speaks in poetry and wonder to myself if I can ethically steal that.  

Monday, February 28, 2022

To Those Who Ask the Questions

One day, before the world shut down, I was in a pilates/yoga fusion class with the instructor who I call Gwyneth because the resemblance is uncanny. The class was never large which is fun because you get to sort of get to know the other four people there on a more individual, personal level. And by "get to know" I guess I mean, feel like friends who don't really talk, in a club of self-betterment and shared struggle when she would make us do hard things.  I really liked this instructor, even with her music which would cycle through so many artists I do not love, like John Mayer and James Taylor. I turned it into a mindfulness experiment, where if I could find my "piloga" / "yogates" (sounds like a super chill Greek philosopher) zen whilst listening to music that makes my soul recoil, then I was a master, indeed.  She was friendly and chill, thankfully not over-exuberant in her instruction. She would challenge herself along with the rest of us and on some days be like, "nope, that's not happening."  Very "down to mat," if you will.  (get it)

On this particular day, it was just she and I before class started. Over the weeks, we would have brief snippets of conversation before other people showed up so we would gather bits of info about each other which could have been beginnings of a friendship taking shape if Covid hadn't cancelled everything.  She knew I had one kid. I knew she had four, one she home-schooled.  I had actually brought Julian a couple times-- once to exercise and another to just be there while I did, and he sat in the back with a book.  She wistfully marveled at his ability to do that and, as always, I was appreciative I have a reader.  


She then asked me a question, kind of out of nowhere.  It was an important question, one I've never been asked, before then or since.  It was a casual question, maybe one she didn't even really have much interest in, like she was just making conversation with mild curiosity.  But it was meaningful to me.  


She asked,


"Is it hard having one kid?"  


How do you handle questions that land in your lap like a cement brick in an offhand, super casual way in the midst of making chit chat before a yogates class starts?  Like, oh yeah I have this cement brick but it's not like really anything. I can downplay this cement brick. I'll just pretend it's a yoga block?  For two seconds, I considered my words and said something like, "yes, it is.  For me, anyway."  And in the unusual space given to me, I gave some reasons.  She said she always thought it would be hard, and that when she had her second child she remembers feelings of, "oh, this is so much easier!"  And just as we stood on the edge of a place I've always wanted to go with another but always found myself alone, someone walked in and the class began.  And then it closed, for good. 


I've often found myself thinking about people who dare to ask the questions.  Questions that may be Questions--capital Q-- to someone else. Questions that someone might avoid, thinking it too personal. Is it even ever too personal? Don't we get to decide what to respond to or how we respond? She probably had no idea what it meant to me, perhaps a little curious about my anomalous situation. But I reserve a little corner of my heart for her and people like her, and I have made a vow to be that person too, to be interested, to be bold, to not be one to shy away from asking the questions. 


Last summer Sean and I attended a dinner in a garden at the home of friends, one of whom is a chef. They would put on these elaborate, multi-course popup dinners. "Speakeasy dinner club" they called it.  And we ate and sat with strangers and talked about all kinds of things.  There was a couple there this night. We learned he was a photographer and they had six children together and they shared stories and tales. Eventually she asked me if I had kids, or how many I had, and I said, "just the one" (classic). And she stopped me and said, pointedly, "No. Not just the one."   And I said, pointedly, "but it is just the one. Here, anyway."  And recognizing the space created by her compassionate response, I shared some feelings and experiences in that magical kind of way you can do with intentional strangers and fellow dinner guests, where everyone is up for conversation in a way that cuts through pretense and that initial awkwardness.  We all want the same thing. Food and meaningful conversation. We're all up for talking to new people who we may or may not see again. You can relax in a weird way, and you say things it might take days and multiple interactions, with other people.  But I was touched by her willingness to go there with me, to say the thing.  


I then shared the story of my pilates instructor who was the one to give me a feeling of validation I tell myself I don't need, as I continue to live here, in many ways, like a stranger in a strange land. I said to them, "I felt such a feeling of gratitude for her, I wanted to write her a poem or something."  Amused, the photographer said, "I love that that's how you would thank a person or pay tribute--by writing them a poem."   We laughed and I said I could think of nothing more personal. 


And I think back to my college days when, after feeling exhausted or frustrated or bored by an exam, I might dedicate a portion of it to my feelings, in poetry form. As if to say, make this experience count, Jen. Make it mean something. Make it matter! Because the tests themselves never did. (Ever) So I'd write something in the margins-- for me, for the reader, for the air I breathed, for anyone at all.  "Ode to the Testing Center" was one such poem, and upon grading, my teacher had written on my test that he'd enjoyed it and asked for my permission to share it with the class, and I remember feeling like this was better than any "A" I could get (incidentally, I do not remember what grade I got. On that or any other test).  


And then, as they always do, my thoughts take me to Julian. And to times he comes home and says to me, 

"I wrote a poem today.  Of course, it was when we were supposed to be doing math.  That's when the poems come."   


And my heart bursts into an anthemic herald of our bizarre twinship, and then right out of me to envelope this boy who's always been enough, and never "just" anything. And I keep a little refrain, a tribute, a quiet dedication to those who say the thing, an Ode to Those Who Ask the Questions.     

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Julian Quote: Musing

I can't even with this kid.  Do you write down the things your kids say? Do they take on different meanings? Do you think about them later, in the dark? Do they scare you a little?  He's so weird and deep and that is such a bizarre combo.   Just kills me.  Here are two from several months ago:

"I've been musing over this all night.  It's why I've been anti-social." 

What was he musing over?? Why didn't I write that down?? I think i was too preoccupied with his using the word "musing" and his introspection and self-analysis. 

And one day he was listening to something that didn't make sense to me and I asked,

"Why do you like this song?"

He replied, "I don't! I hate it so much I can't bear not to listen to it." 

 
WHAT IN THE.  It's so odd and ridiculous and profound.  HOW can those three things exist together? But they do. In the form of a boy named Julian. 

Friday, February 04, 2022

Julian Quotes Age 12.4

 I have so many quotes all around my house, I don't even know how to keep track. When we sell this place, new owners are going to be finding stray post-its in the weirdest places and be like, who is this Julian person and what's the matter with him? JK he's the best.  As evidenced by some of these few stray quotes I found on my phone:

_________


"Kids my age aren't really all that concerned with citing their sources when they tell jokes.  One kid came up to us and said, 'hey, you wanna hear a joke I made up?' And we said sure and he said it and [name of friend] was like, 'that's from Calvin and Hobbes!' And the kid ran off, embarrassed."


_________


"I remember when you got me my first Calvin and Hobbes book.  Happiest day of my life. It was when we were in New York and it was the Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.  I read it, 'homi-di-cal peese-cho' for years."  

_______
 
Julian once told me, out of the blue (of course), that if we booted him out of the house,

"I'd eventually go to Memphis... and from there, Oxford."   

???

I desperately tried to get him to explain but he didn't have much else to say about it. Kinda want to try kicking him out just to find out..? 


________ 

"I've decided I'm going to first live in an apartment when I'm an adult.  And then I'll probably check things out and get a house."
"Will you buy it or rent it?"
"That depends. On where I'm at in my life and how much it costs.  Then I'll decide whether it's for rent or for keeps."

I die at these examples of teetering between childhood and adulthood.  He's thinking about grown-up things in pretty grown-up ways and then he ends it by saying, "for keeps."  And I just die. 

______

Julian often tries to be "bad" and often that sort of backfires or just comes out adorable in his innocence and ignorance. On a walk in some woods: 

"If you're lucky, you can find some marijuana bottles."  

And on that same walk:

"If that guy falls in this water, he's going to get e-coli in the brain."

Combining brain-eating amoebas and something else.  I think I've freaked him out re: some thoughts I shared about swimming in fresh water.


And further along on the walk:

"This is the right way according to me."   

Of course. This reminds me of the time in high school when I was out with friends and said, "Well, to me I'm normal" and one of them laughed way too hard. 

Similarly: 

"From my own logic, I've learned..."  (something about the Wii) 

 I think these were all from that walk, actually. A fruitful outing. 

________

 

"I wish Star Wars were a little more realistic.  Because even if you travel in light speed, it'd still take you a lifetime to get there."

"How do you know?"

"Because Dad told me. And I know stuff."


Cute.

And then Sean muttered something about "time distortion" and "Interstellar" while eating his salad nearby.


The End.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Like the Groundhog Phil

 The other day some friends were telling stories of meeting celebrities. I shared my viewpoint and experience of spotting famous people and completely disregarding their existence because they're not better than me, so I would NEVER ask for a picture, much less acknowledge their presence.  

But then one said they stood nearby Bill Murray somewhere and I was like, ooh.  

Bill Murray.  

And then I said I might actually approach him, and I would look into his eyes and sincerely and solemnly and simply say, "Groundhog Day. Thanks."   

He might be annoyed or confused or mad, and I wouldn't care, and I wouldn't know, because I wouldn't stay.  I'd say my thanks and walk away, and he'd have to decide how to feel about it. Because I am a truth-speaker, and I would know how I felt. Deep, deep gratitude, which is how I feel today and have ever since I saw it in the theaters on the cusp of turning 13, which would prove to be a momentous year of meaningful movies for me.  

Jen's Vlog

Goodness gracious. I was looking through my blog and found this post in my drafts from June, 2014. I don't even remember these videos. Better post it though,  to commemorate this special day, 02/02/2022.
__________

So i have a few random videos I thought i'd put up in honor of Friday, because if you're like me, by the time Friday rolls around, you don't have the mental capacity to read- ha ha ha. 

First, here's a video i took in Philly.  In the Franklin Science Museum there's an area for weather and you can go into this blue screen cylindrical room where you watch a screen and they tape you being the weather person for a news station.  It was awesome. I loved it. It's hard to get the hand motions right! Just another reason to love Bill Murray even more in Groundhog Day.

I took a video of Sean's weather report and it made me laugh:




This next video was taken last September, after the summer of the cicadas.  On a walk we spotted a lone brown leaf dangling from a tree in an invisible thread. It looked like it was dancing in mid-air.






Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Hipster Sledder

 We try to go into the snowy mountains at least once a season. Looks like that's all we'll be allotted as this has been the weirdest January ever. I don't love the whole climate changing thing, but my body loves the sun-exposure so I'm slightly torn. 

That aside, let's take a look at this little hipster we have for a son. 


He's so hipster, he doesn't even know he is. I tried to explain it to him and he didn't get it. But I found it difficult to explain anyway.  "Just.. thrown together, hodge-podge style? So that it's cool? But you don't care? which makes it even cooler? Hmm."  


Sean and I are too old for this. But also, they are precious moments. We feel that fact acutely at all times. Also, once I get going my old 13-year-old self returns and I get super into it. I used to be fearless, I used to LOVE sledding. I used to just go down huge hills.  And now I'm scared, afraid for my back. It's weird, grappling with oldness and trying to unearth old versions of myself buried fathoms below.  She's there, though. She's still there. 






such a cutie.



Lastly, I bought this cool snow suit online and the sizing is just wrong, sadly.  So I made him put it on and after much reluctance he did and we laughed and laughed at him even though it fits him super well.

                                         
 

As a natural-born hipster, I honestly think he can pull off anything.  But, comme tu veux. 



Monday, January 10, 2022

Monday Question

What if you were out shopping, and you had with you a shopping list. Would it make you feel less alone in the world to discover someone else's nearly identical list on an identical post-it note? Or would it freak you out? To know some "Bizarre-o You" is out there, not only in the world but living in the same city as you. Or would it merely bum you out to find out you're just so basic. Just another nameless, faceless cog in the system. 

4th option and best case scenario: You decide it's an actual future list of your own, (the handwriting is uncanny) and where you're shopping is actually the location of a time portal. Now you just need to figure out why, and what it could all mean. And, what you're going to do about it. What is future you trying to tell you? Is it a list of things you're going to need for some life-altering event yet to come? Things that seem insignificant but will play a vital role at some pivotal moment? But to not worry about the crossed-off items because that was for something else?  

I started today with a question that have multiplied into many more questions. 



Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Trump* of January

Oh hey there. Happy New Year.  Right now I’m sitting at my desk looking out the window at a wet snushy day. The mountains are snow-covered but it’s been raining all day in the valley which has melted much of the snow on the ground. Rain in winter is depressing. But the clouds are low which tells me the precipitation may not be over yet. I was just sitting here trying to figure out what to do about that when I heard it. The sound of January. The trumpeting honk of the geese.  I LOVE when I hear this. I always gasp because it has become a sacred event for me and a highlight of January for sure.  Maybe the highlight. I don’t even know why. Because I love birds? Because I only hear geese in January and the sound they make is so delightful? Or because I particularly love the geese and how they’re going places this time of year when things are really slowing down for me. When my life feels at a standstill.  And I am inspired by them.

“Go, geese! Get to where you’re going even though it’s so unbelievably dreary this time of year. No sun to be heard of. Dark, cold, wet. And yet, you fly.”  

Maybe they’re telling me that, against all of the odds of my life, maybe I can too.  There were only two of them. I love the idea that, if they got lost from the flock, they have a buddy system and they’re trying to find their way back. Geese would. Geese would have a buddy system.

two buddies


 *I'm trying to take back the word. Think i can do it? If anyone can, it's the geese. 

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Overheard in the New Year

Nobody:

Julian: I wonder if we were animals before we were born as humans.  I might have been a moose.  I can distinctly remember flies buzzing all around me. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

What a year.  

Our card this year is a super weird one. A weird brainchild that took much time, thought, and consideration. Sean called it my passion project and I suppose it's true. They are my thing and I love them dearly. And Sean puts much time and effort and coaching into helping me birth my weird brainchildren.  

Remember that funny incident when Julian came home dirty and we told him to take a bath and I was reading Calvin and Hobbes at the time and I accidentally called him "Calvin" and the whole scene taking place in our lives strangely mirrored the one in the strip I was reading and I was like, what is our life? Is our life this comic strip? Are we Calvin and his parents? And I concluded that we were? Remember that? Click here for a refresher. 

Well, we turned that and this interaction into a strange Calvin and Hobbes strip of our own and made that our Christmas card.  Here's the message we included in the card:

We bought Julian his first Calvin and Hobbes book when he was like, three years old. While I would never, could never regret this decision, I also could never have predicted how intensely Calvin would influence Julian's developing personality. In short: He is Calvin reincarnate. Over the years, he's blurted out ideas, raging frustrations, made poignant observations, uttered phrases or nonsensical passing comments to me that, having grown up on ALL the books myself, I could more or less successfully attribute to the comic strip. "Hey, Calvin" I would say. I also started to realize how similarly our lives mirror the one in the strip. He has a beloved cat who serves as friend, foe, sibling, and furry pillow. Sean has a lot of the same mannerisms as Calvin's dad, which are oft teased. I look like his mom but would like to think I'm a lot more fun and engaging. But it's truly eerie, the parallels. This year, while the boy is still relatively young, we'd like to do a special Christmas card tribute to what I think should be required reading in school, the greatest comic strip ever made. We've incorporated real life scenarios with real dialogue into a comic strip of our own, making adaptations and personalizations. It was a collaborative effort, with outlining our real life strip (with exact dialogue recorded the time it took place), then searching for appropriate comics throughout our books of just the right expressions and settings, which was more difficult than one might think. We sketched out how we'd make changes which were then made painstakingly on the photoshop. It was an intensive process and a ton of fun, and also even more scary when we read through each panel and discovered even MORE origins of Julian's being and everyday dialogue.   Here are two examples of our lives weirdly coinciding with the lives of those in the strip. The first incident took place three years ago, when he was 9. The conversation on the back between he and I took place earlier this year.  We hope you enjoy it and celebrate the holidays (and Calvin and Hobbes) your own special, weird, magical way.  MERRY CHRISTMAS.

And here is the card:



I hope you can see that.  

And here's the back:


This card was CRAZY.  We had to search and search for the right expressions. Often they sort of worked but not exactly. And we tried to edit them to look more like us. I made the edits and Sean replicated them on the photoshop. But he did it better, like Calvin's glasses. So good.  Added dimples. Elongated the dad's face, made the mom smile once in a while.  The one on the back was easier than the inside strip.  We found exactly the right expressions. Julian/Calvin is too easy. Every expression Julian makes Calvin makes.  I would mark all the spots in the books with a million bookmarks, Sean would scan them,  create new blank panels, and I'd tell him to rearrange them in a different order. I wrote in the words, he scanned again. We had to figure out how to arrange the text so it made sense. Like, "he's speaking first so his words should be at the top and then we can work the others in under that." I have such a new respect for cartoonists. Even more than before. It was buh-nanas. 

What a weird project.  I loved it. And as we scoured the books looking for the right faces/situations, as mentioned in the message, it became even more evident just how much Julian's absorbed this fictional character into his being.  It felt like every other phrase uttered we had heard him say in real life at some point. 

And with that, a heartfelt merry weird one to you and all of yours.  Big hugs. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve Will Find Me

 Well, the Eve came. It found me. I'm writing this just a few days later. But let me finish up this 25 Days of )en with a brief recap of the Eve.  I'd call the whole month a pretty good blogging success, considering how rusty I was. So cheers, Jen.  You did it.  And cheers to you who have been reading. Thanks for being here, and I sincerely mean that. 

A list:

1. We all woke up and exercised. These days Julian and Sean run at the fitness center. Sean says Julian is super crazy fast and I think the whole thing is terribly adorable. Then we made a massive brunch which i think I need to make into a [weekly] tradition.  

2. Sean was hardcore into watching ALL the Christmas movies we would ever want this year. I support this goal but when the movie starts at 9pm, I'm toast.  So they did a lot of It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott) without me.   But on this, the eve of nights, we managed to watch A Christmas Story, saved for this day and I stayed to the end because it might truly be my favorite. It just gets funnier every time.  I love everything about it. 

In fact, let me list all of the Christmas movies/shows watched:

1. A Christmas Carol
2. It's a Wonderful Life
3. Family Stone
4. Home Alone
5. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
6. Elf
7. LOTR, obviously.
8. Christmas Vacation. This year Julian was allowed to join and loved aaall the swears and inappropriateness. 
9. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This was at Thanksgiving but it counts.
10. Dash and Lilly, a gem on Netflix. 

And probably others I can't remember.

3. We did neighbor gifts this year. I didn't take any pictures but basically we made approx. one billion parmesan herby crackers with adorable leaf/acorn/apple-shaped cutters, wrapped tightly and put in a little paper gingerbread house.  The message:

"This year was CRACKERS. Thanks for being great friends and neighbors."  

One of my favorite traditions is heaping neighbor gifts in the center of the table and gazing upon them all season long. Sometimes I actually enjoy/partake. But I mostly just like to hoard and appreciate the puns. ("Pringle bells, Pringle bells, Pringle all the way...") 

4. Sean made the traditional fondu dinner. 

5. We were all so exhausted, we kept things very chill this night.  I sometimes hate the stress or pressure of having to "do stuff" at Christmastime and i sort of rebel against it.  It was a good decision. 

But let me show you the picture of the "layout" as Julian calls it.  


We never did figure out our tree decor.  Sean wanted tinsel garland but we looked for it too late so we only found silver and blue and super thin strands of it which he was adamantly opposed to, so he made us work together to braid three long strands together THREE TIMES. For each color. Julian held the ends while I braided. It was such a pain. I hope he's happy. 

This year Julian has been super into Russia these days.  Hyper-fixation can often be weird, intense, and overwhelming/annoying. But it can also be totally awesome.  And when you just go with it and just lean into the weirdness, you can make it a lot of fun for yourself.

Julian loves Russian hard bass music. Very techno. Very pro-Russia.  With very lame lyrics about the KGB and vodka and other stereotypes. So here's what we put together for him:


1. A life-size cardboard cutout of his favorite Russian DJ-- "DJ Blyatman."  Yes, I know how it sounds. I also know how many times in a day I hear about this guy. He's basically one of the family at this point.  

2. A beautiful tin of Russian candy that turned out to be not bad at all, better than American candy in general, I would say, and wrapped so beautifully/weirdly.  

3. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen-- this Russian faberge-looking egg. Holy crap, I love this thing. On top of that, it's a toothpick holder(!!) I know. I kind of cherish it.  Just look: 


So friggin' ornate.  

4. A book on the Russian Revolution. It was for teens and he read it in one sitting. Looks like we're going to have to get something a bit more substantial.  Any suggestions? All you Russophiles out there? 

5. A calendar using all the images from bands/DJs he loves but photoshopped his face into many of them. Sooooo funny.  This gift and the cardboard tickled me and Sean to no end. Julian, less so. He was confused. Probably because he never thought he'd get something so awesome. 



ha ha ha ha. I think I will cherish this calendar just as much as the egg.


I also got Julian a weird 3D-printed bust of Julius Caesar from a maker in Turkey, and I got Sean some hard-to-find art books from a bookstore in Italy and let us just say, I think I love an international aspect to Christmas morning. The books were padded with pink Italian newspaper, the box from Turkey just looked super cool. So i'm going to do that from now on. Plus, I had to have some correspondence with the Italian bookstore and was all, "Grazie!" at their efforts, which made me happy. Once again, i feel the call to my European roots. I miss the outside world.

This post is boring but let me just say Merry Christmas, it's been such a pleasure. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Tiny Christmas

 Apparently there's a movie called Tiny Christmas where cousins are accidentally shrunk. shrinked. shrank. Perhaps we should watch it. 



We've got a bit of a theme going this year which is "miniature."   Let's see why.

First, some dear friends gave us some personalized chocolates.  I love them. Here's a picture: 


When I was a teen, I saw the Star Trek movie First Contact. This was with Captain Picard and is the best ST Next Generation film. I was a little bit crazy about it when I was 16. Ahhh nerdy Jen! She hasn't changed.  I remember getting the soundtrack for Christmas that year and watching the movie multiple times in the theater.  Basically, the Enterprise has to go back in time through a tear in the space/time continuum to make sure First Contact happens. This is when humans achieve warp drive for the very first time and are noticed by a passing alien ship who are like, well look at you! And humans and aliens meet for the first time ("first contact) and set Earth on the vital course of space exploration.  Soooo yeah. Pretty important.  Well, things go awry when the Borg, that old unbeatable nemesis (confusing, as that is the title of another STNG film) infiltrate the Enterprise and start assimilating everybody. A back-in-time human is on the ship and gets caught up in all of that craziness while grappling with being on a space ship and other future things.  But she bonds with an emotionally compromised Captain Picard:




 And then he throws a fit and some heavy object at his display of ornamental Enterprises.



And that's what seeing these chocolates made me think of. Except I inserted "ate" instead of "broke."  Isn't it fun when you sit through someone's long story and realize it all doesn't really come to much? Did I use these chocolates as an excuse to talk about Star Trek Next Generation: First Contact? Of course I did. Also this movie feels very Christmasy to me so I think I'll add it to my list of holiday movies to watch. 

When they gave us these they tried to think of a carol to accompany it but couldn't think of any Star Trek carols.  "Oh, I've got a Star Trek carol," I told them and promptly sent them this gem.

Next, I have a photographer friend who does fun, cute, sometimes weird things.  She's the best.  This year, she gave me a book and decorated the cover herself. Isn't it great? 



Whoa, wait a second...how far am I zooming out? 



Not that far! It's TINY. I opened it up and what did i see? 



Photos she had taken or collected from a million friend gatherings over the past six years.  Page after page of minuscule group photos. Dying at how small it is. And dying for a magnifying glass.  (Also dying at how minuscule is spelled[!] A u? Why. )Anyway...

that's her on the far left.


Next, my sister gave me and my other sister a relic from our past. The game of Pictionary: 


wait a second...


So teeeeny tiny! 


And wait-- it has all the parts. Just gets smaller and smaller: 


Look at the game pieces! The die!


I die at the die. 

If you like miniatures, you'll have enjoyed these things. If you don't like miniatures, you do now.