Monday, May 30, 2016

Poem Book

When I was a wee lass I wrote poems.  It was a very big deal apparently because my first grade teacher--who did not love everyone-- loved me, because of my poems, i think.  I would give them to her and she'd put a big fat scratch 'n sniff sticker on it and hang it on the wall for all to see.  Big deal. I felt proud. 

Thus, my mom bought me my own poem book.  And I loved it:

I think then, I thought white cats were the fanciest cats in the land. Because they are. Look at that creature sitting majestically on its wicker throne.

I took my poem-writing and book very seriously. VERY. SERIOUSLY.  And so should you:

"Jennifers poem book! Touch this and die."

I wrote in it a lot. Some were about the seasons or holidays, some about my family.  They weren't all masterpieces but some weren't half bad.

As the school year comes to a close and summertime approaches I thought these two were appropriate and basically express the same sentiment I continue to carry to this day on the subject(s):


 I know you don't need a translation as my cursive is flawless, but here it is anyway:

"School is such a pain, 
Especially when it's a day of rain.
When school starts I cry and cry,
When school lets out I want to fly/
Math is especially a bore,
Integers, changing decimals to a fraction, and more.
[I think that's a brag]
Homework is probably what I hate the most,
So I don't do it, and eat some toast.
It is now May 30 and I'm proud to say,
It's summertime, it's time to play!"

Look at that. Something like twenty-six years ago to the day I wrote that poem and sure enough, I feel the same way now. As does Julian. Kid does not love school. 

As a bonus I found one of the poems I'm most proud of it.  It's so good I awarded myself the Newberry Award Medal which, I don't know if you know, is pretty prestigious. I made it huge for you so you're sure to catch everything.

 In type:

I have a stinky sister,
She bawls and whines all day.
She thinks she has hard hard work
And she cries when she can't play.
I have to share a room with her,
(thank goodness not a bed)
She always bawls and bawls when someone
taps her on the head.
At night time when it's time for bed,
She snores so loudly! and I almost lose my head.
There is a lot more to tell about,
But I fear it'll take up the page,
So there's most of it about my sister,(She's in a stinky stage).

Wow. Just soak that in for a minute.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mom Life

I had a conversation with Julian the other morning that I feel is a pretty accurate portrayal of what mom life really is.  

I was at the sink being noisy with the faucet and I heard Julian, who was rolled up in a blanket ball on the couch, say something I couldn't hear.

JEN: What did you say, Hun?

JULIAN: I didn't say anything was fun.

JEN: No, I said, 'what did you say, hun'

JULIAN: I didn't say anything was fun!"

JEN: I said, 'what did you say, HUN'

JULIAN: Oh! I didn't say anything!

JEN: Yes, you did.

JULIAN: What was it?

JEN, in a sing-songy voice: I don't knowww, that's why I'm askiiing.

I feel like moms' voices get extra sing-songy when they're on the cusp of a minor brain explosion. Even if it's a humorous brain explosion.   Silly, kids.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Philosopher's Drone

The other night I told Sean, "I think I'm a philosopher. I keep finding myself in social situations where we're discussing a topic and I want to talk about the humanity behind it. But, it's annoying. I can feel its annoyance.  Like, too far, Jen. Too boring."   I went to a book club recently and asked something like, "Why do you think we do that? Why is that a natural tendency?"  But no one wants to talk about; they want to get to the next point.  

It's funny, kind of. And sort of interesting. Maybe.    I wonder why I do that? Why do you think that is?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Of Late

Things that have happened recently:

1. Went bowling and played laser tag.  I witnessed two miracles. One that was wonderful and the other just defied every law of science imaginable.  The wonderful miracle was watching my friend bowl SIX STRIKES IN A ROW.  What the fudge?! She was unstoppable. 

Miracle two was when the bumpers miraculously appeared mid-game.  We didn't know if our lane was sympathetically haunted or if the staff was watching our pathetic game and couldn't help themselves. Regardless, we played on and I came at the lane at an angle so as to let the ball ricochet as many times as possible.  Everyone knows the bumpers are great because you can't get a gutter, aka miss all the pins.  EXCEPT YOU CAN.  My cursed bowling ball must have bounced 6 times at lightning speed only to bounce of the corner at the end of the bumper and jut across to the dark corner, missing all the pins.  It was such a raucous display and empty-handed conclusion, the combination of which made for a very funny scene and I died.  How is that even possible??

Laser tag was awesome. There were no miracles but I was amused by how quickly we all got into "combat mode."   "Quickly and almost instinctively create a strategy mode."  Or maybe that was just me. Maybe I should never lay another hand on a real gun ever again (which I've done twice in my life).  This is reminding me of this funny Onion article. 

2.  I swear, every time I try to do a good deed lately, it blows up in my face.  I try to do Service here and there. You know, real Service with a capital S and it always goes awry. It's intrusive, i make people uncomfortable, it's unnecessary, etc.  So i'm honestly hesitant to help people out now.  This morning I was at Target, and it was no grand deed nor a big deal, but the lady behind me had an infant car seat in her cart and was also toting a toddler. I bent down just as we were getting ready to cart on through to the exit and saw a dirty baby shoe on the floor. I picked it up and plopped it atop the car seat and said, "baby shoe!"  and almost left in time to miss the woman say, "oh, that's not mine," and hand it to the cashier.  But I did see it, I did hear it. And I laughed and exclaimed, "oh, it's not yours? Gross! Ha ha ha, sorry! ha ha ha" and laughed all the way out the door.  "Here's a dirty shoe!" *plop*

3.  Hiked up a mountain.  At the end of the hike a man had an adorned fabric satchel thing and I asked what it was.  He said it was a mat for cave yoga which was a joke but made me be like, cave yoga, eh...?  hmm...not a bad idea.  Actually it was an old timey wooden flute or something and we heard it beautifully echo as we made our descent.  I declared how I wished i could bring an instrument up and play it on a mountain.  The guy was scruffy, sort of man of the earth, and I told Sean, "I have it in me, you know, Sean.  I'm a little hippie'ish, a little bohemian."  And he said, "Oh, i know. I've seen how you dress."  Ha! Burn? Whatever. Next time I go up I'm bringing either a recorder or my Jr. High flute. 

There are just a few things I've been up to.  I need to keep blogging so this has been an exercise. I hope to produce more and better stuff soon.   But we'll see, won't we.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Parenting Win

The other day a friend and I were chatting and she said her daughter told her that Julian was her funniest friend.

That's it! I'm out.  Good night, everyone.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Julian Potter

A year+ ago I went on a friend trip to Harry Potter World in Florida.  It was marvelous. Why? Well:

1) Getting out of winter in mid-February is always on my list of to-do's.

2) Being with pals where everyone is easy and can just hang out and do whatever is SO great.  Not everyone is vacation-compatible.  It made me so happy to see them again.   They flew down from Bklyn and it was a happy reunion.

3) We are all HP nerds so of course we were excited. In fact, I decree that you shouldn't be allowed to visit this place UNLESS you are a fan. Why would you even want to?? You can't have it both ways. Give in and just read them already. Otherwise there should be a lamer version of it for those people.  Mine and Suzie's problem, though, was the letdown that the place wasn't actually Hogwarts.  That the magic wasn't actually real. But it wasn't for lack of effort, particularly Diagon Alley side of things. So magical that when i watch the movies, it looks like HP World and I'm like, "I've been there!"  But we're just too childlike in our HP wishes.  But once we accepted reality, it was awesome.  When we were buying the tickets and figuring out which sketchy website was real or not, there was a fear we'd made a wrong turn and had actually purchased tickets to a knock-off amusement park called Harvey Porter, a favorite joke that continued throughout the duration of the trip. Hey, that should be the name of the lame version! They'll never even know the difference.

Several other outstanding jokes were born but I'll save them for another day. But to summarize, it was totally magical.  We ate at the Leaky Cauldron, drank butterbeer, slipped from Diagon Alley to creepy Knockturn, witnessed a wand/wizard-choosing, rode rides, some of which gave me the serious heaves, performed spells...

This brings us to last fall, when I broke down and started reading Harry Potter to Julian.  I know.  I thought I'd wait, it's probably too soon but I just couldn't help it!  Fall time brings it out of me. And he just soaked up the magic like a little wizarding sponge.  He began writing letters to us, delivered by his existing snowy owl (now named Hedwig).  He declared himself the professor of all classes and we even had a potions lesson: 

Water + rootbeer + orange slices + raisins + sprinkles + honey and I don't even know what else. Lacewings and a bazoar.  We had a sorting (I think I'm Gryffindor. Sean as well. Julian, I believe, is a Slytherin. Dang, we always knew he had it in him. Though, he could be great, you know.) And we thought up a way to play Quidditch with bouncy balls that actually works pretty well. The rules are as follows:

Get four bouncy balls: a quaffle, two bludgers, and one special one to be the snitch. 

1. Everyone plays all the positions.  Have a space of hard floors.  
2. Go to the edge, cover your eyes, and throw the balls into oblivion. 
3. Open your eyes, mount your invisible brooms, and go look for the balls.   They all get knocked around on the hard floor so there's constant movement.

Basically you take turns throwing the quaffle into hoops (glass jars on a chair) while scooping up the bludgers and throwing them at each other as you yell, "BLUDGER!"  And every once in a while looking for the snitch, but you can't focus all your attention on it. Ours is currently lost.  We still haven't found it from the last time, so that game is on-going.  It's been months.

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you some letters we've received via Hedwig, often they are on the floor at my door first thing in the morning.  And with all these goings-on I've realized my acceptance of "reality" was wrong all along, that the magic is, after all, very real indeed. 

"Dear Jen, You are invited to Hogwarts starting Monday"

"Dear Jen, By yourself for Hogwarts at Diagon Alley"

"Dear Jen, Wizards will be cleaning your dormitories for you."

"Dear Jen, now that you know the easy classes you will be switched up to level 8. (?) And go to harder(?) classes. From Professor Severus Snape."

"Dear Jen, There will be some cats in Hogwarts's halls."
 Wow, it's really hard to write these words correctly.  Holz--what? that looks right to me.  Or maybe it's just hard to transcribe from adorably incorrect to boring correct. Whatever it is, are they not spectacular? Goodness gracious.  We are now on Book 4. I was hesitant to move on because the 4th book is so epic, but he insisted. So we're in it now.  I'll keep you posted.

But one more funny thing. I was flipping through one of my notebooks and found this gem recorded a couple months ago. Just makes me laugh:



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On Blogs and the Human Race

The other day I asked myself, and Sean, why nobody blogs anymore.  Do you feel this is true? It used to be such a huge THING back in the day, 10-some odd years ago.  And now it's sort of fizzled out. Of course they're still out there but it's not like it used to be.  I then started to wonder why my blog seems to have fizzled out.   Not that it's ever been remotely popular. But it's the general feeling I get. Which is fine. I never did set out for any particular goal other than to just put myself out there.  But why?   I have some possible answers:

1. People just aren't interested in reading lengthy tomes of rambling thoughts anymore. We need sectioned off ideas, attention-grabbers, visuals to entice, emboldened statements to tell us what is important so we don't have to filter it out ourselves. Words adapted to enable my growing attention deficit. 

2. Social media. I don't really fully understand the societal implications because I, on the whole, put my hand in the face of the new technology that greets me at every corner.  The platforms I use are Facebook (warily and on my own specific terms), Instagram, and that is it.  No one even emails anymore which will forever make me sad. I love to email. I love to compose, construct, and send things along the electronic wire. And it usually takes more than a few lines and a picture for me to make anything meaningful. But then, i have always been wordy.  I don't believe any of these things, by themselves, are particularly horrible but I'm afraid for what they're training my brain to do, what to look for. How to process or internalize. 

3. I've moved away from someplace cool and interesting to another place that's, well, not as much so. Of course I had secret hopes of garnering some kind of readership, that there might be more people in the world other than myself to hear what i had to say on things. To share an interest in the weird stuff that comes out of my head.  So I wrote about a wide variety of things. I was never an authority on NY anyway.  And I just have to believe that New York isn't what makes me interesting, though I did always feel like I was in the cool club for living there.  Really I was just a long term guest, an outsider with a peek in.   But maybe it's what people want? I don't blame 'em.   So many cool and funny people back in the day had funny blogs and then they started having babies and it changed the tone of their blog. Which is totally fine. But maybe that's what I've done to mine?

Whatever the case, I still have things I want to say to the world and as an archivist and auto-documentarian, blogging has always been a wonderful way for me to do it. Since I've been mulling this over for days, earlier this morning Sean came down and handed me a random quote he read about blogging, in reference to the art world.  First some background:

Apparently Damien Hirst, (shark in tank, diamond skull-- one of Sean's favorites of his, titled For the Love of God)  is having an identical art show of dot paintings in multiple art galleries around the world.  I haven't seen terribly much of his stuff but he always struck me as a shockist (shock artist-- a term I'm going to pretend I made up but probably didn't) with a sort of in your face gluttonous quality to it.  But here's what Sean gave to me:

The dealer and the artist made waves together in 2012 when all of Gagosian's locations worldwide (a paltry eleven at the time) showcased Hirst's spot paintings.  That show, naturally, made a huge splash, but not everyone loved it.  ArtFCity's Will Brand posted this scathing assessment:

"There is, we recognize, a historical danger here.  Someday, the record of this exhibition might be dug up by a young art historian, or perhaps a blogger like us, or perhaps some sort of future blogger who does things with brainwaves.  They'll see that there was a massive show spread across every location of the most successful gallery of the time, entirely comprised of one of the most successful artists of the time, and that it was supported by some of the most illustrious voices money could buy.  So I'm going to lay this down, just to clarify, so that nobody from the future gets confused:  we hate this sh**.  Everyone hates this sh**.  These spots reflect nothing about how we live, see, or think, they're just some weird meme for the impossibly rich that nobody knows how to stop."
 Ha ha! Nothing better than a good zingy art critique.  But I particularly love those last lines.  How much do we really know how people live, see, and think.  Social Media truncates life. Through it it is screened and depersonalized.   Nothing's better than sitting with a person and talking with them face-to-face, but the most inciteful, most impacting contributions historically are the gathered first-hand accounts, the words written down at the time, from a person who was there with a time stamp. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Science Lesson

The other day I overheard a conversation between Julian and Sean:
JULIAN: What's inside a black hole?

SEAN: A singularity. 
JULIAN: What's that?

Jen quietly listens in, as she does whenever Julian asks Sean science questions, so as to gain some insight, as the answer is given in such a way that a 6-year-old might understand. 

SEAN: A tiny place that weighs a lot.

And that's sort of where it ended.  We both still have a lot of questions. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Things I Eat 2016

Well, it's almost been two years since the last one and I thought I'd see what my eating habits are like these days compared to then. What I should do is do this in a different season and see how that compares. Maybe next time.  So let's go, and here's the link to the last one because it's just as exciting to read as the first time.


1. The smoothies are still a staple for me. Same recipe as well except I've since added chia seeds and some turmeric when I'm feeling a little inflamed and like I want to gag myself because it is guh-ross. I'll mostly just mix it into my own private smoothie because others shouldn't suffer so needlessly 

Additionally, I realized that if I run out of spinach or it goes bad I can use canned pumpkin as my vegetable. I learned that this past fall when i had a surplus of cans of the stuff and couldn't make another pie or batch of cookies. (One thing i did make was pumpkin pudding and it was fab. Or maybe Sean made it? I honestly can't remember. Let's face it, it was probably Sean, but I know i found the recipe. So i did that at least.)

The problem with the smoothie is, of course, once again, my flighty friend the banana never sticks around very long and if I don't have any ready for a smoothie I don't make one at all. It's the only way i want to sweeten it. My dream is to start up a banana delivery business and you can choose how many you want and from which phase of ripeness. I'll create a scale and come up with clever names for each phase.  The ultimate ripe phase could be called "Save Me From Myself,"  for instance. Or, "Banana's Last Breath" or "Bake Me Into Something Now."   The super unripe phase will be "Backburner Banana."   I'm going to have to think more about this but I'm liking this so far.

2. Also toast is fine. An occasional English muffin. But I don't necessarily eat it daily. I have a ton of bread products in the freezer these days and I find that I sleep better knowing I don't have to eat the entire loaf in 3 days.

3. I alternate smoothies with eggs. The incredible edible egg.  Love the eggs. I mostly do poached, sometimes scrambled. Maybe in the middle of toast. Lately Sean has been mastering the crispy egg which is tasty but I can't do myself.  Also, I've lately begun buying bags of peeled boiled eggs because I am a lazy old man and it's awesome.  I do have egg goals though and one is to start trying soft-boiled eggs and eat them in an egg cup. Dream of dreams!

4. For about a year now I've been drinking some hot honey lemon tea every morning. I kept reading things about people doing this and all the benefits it gives and so i tried it and guess what, it's true. It is great. I think the citrus is doing crazy good stuff for me like cancer-prevention (none so far!) as well as with my skin and other things. I do it for my digestion-gets things rolling, a quality I always like in food. And I think it just generally calms my entire digestive tract down.  I can't sing its praises enough, really. I read that you should drink it as hot as you can, first thing in the morn. Food is medicine and I take this one religiously.

5. I also love the pancakes, as mentioned.  

6. Another beloved food item and on the medicinal list? Oatmeal. Ohh bless it.  It's so good for me. My body cheers every time I eat it and my stomach is satisfied for ages.  And you can eat it in so many ways and variations. Oatmeal 4-ever. I usually eat it plain with apple sauce. Unless I'm eating it for dinner (that's right!), which you can read about in a minute...


1. Same as 2014, i guess. Veggies and fruits. Scraps. And, of course, fruit and cheese. Though I don't eat nearly as much cheese as I used to. These days I have learned that it's not just the foods that make me feel a certain way but the combos in which I eat them.  Like if i eat cheese as the same time as vegetables, i do so much better. It's so amazing to me! If i could I would go back and major in food science and tell my future self to listen up.  But I love stuff like this. Often I will gear up for eating trash by stuffing a bucket of sugar snap peas into my gullet. Purely for medicinal reasons. 

2. I'll also eat some cashews or a packet of trail mix nuts. Maybe a boiled egg.

3. Also tuna on crackers but this is rare. 

Lunch is sort of the weak link for me. But it's very low pressure which I can handle. The worst is...


Newsflash, dinner still sucks as hard as ever.  When I moved to the 'burbs I was like, "now i'll learn to cook! I'll just cook, like everyone else! Do what the people do, you know?"  WRONG. I still hate it. And it's even worse now because i don't have delicious takeout to turn to. It's so depressing. We still eat out or go pick up some burritos but it is NOT...cannot emphasize this enough.. NOT the same.

Also: Julian has entered a fun phase called Not Liking Anything, But I Mean AN-Y-THING.  Boo. 

But for the list's sake, here's our week's dinners so far:

1. In order to bond more and also get myself to actually make real dinners, we started making my pal Brooke a dinner once a week.  This was in the wintertime so it was mostly soups. While several things were good (beef and broccoli, thai curry soup) the outlier is the crockpot tortilla soup with the magic ingredient: The pasilla pepper. OH it's so good.  I've never actually made it in the crockpot as the recipe is too big for our tiny two-man pot. But we make this almost weekly with cornbread on the side.  Julian and I could both eat a pan of cornbread in one sitting. I'm always torn between making him first eat soup before cornbread and letting him immediately have it because it's best piping hot. I compromise by giving him a tiny square of hot bread and then hoards of it after the soup. 

 2. Trader Joe's has an awesome frozen orange chicken that we try to keep handy. And other TJ's frozen things.

3. Turkey burgers.

4. Of course tacos.  I love mexican food because it's all the same food just presented differently!  Want some meat and rice and beans and veggies and a lot of it? Wrap it in a tortilla and it's a burrito.  Want the exact same thing but not so much of it? Put it in a tiny tortilla and it's a taco!  Want a saucy burrito baked in an oven? Enchilada!  No tortilla but extra lettuce? Taco salad! In water and chicken broth? SOUP!   Honestly, I could eat a Mexican variant every day of the week. 

5.  OATMEAL FOR DINNER.  I discovered this a couple of weeks ago when there wasn't much time, i was desperate to just find something we would ALL (*cough* Julian) eat and i had a revelation. Oatmeal bar.  Little bowls set out filled with tiny diced up fruits, bottled peaches, apple sauce, cinnamon, sliced almonds, whatever dried thing you have in your pantry.  Everyone has a good time and once again, the health benefits rule all.  Lately i've been reading about savory oatmeal and i've yet to try it but I'm very intrigued.  

6. Trying to get us invited to friends' houses.  Yesterday a friend told us they had made taco meat but realized they had no toppings whatsoever and wondered if we had any they could use. When i replied we did she then invited us over for dinner because that was the determinant. HAHA!  Brilliant!  So funny.  We brought tomatoes, avocados, chips, whatever else and their pork taco meat was great and it was such a good trade. So fun.  

7. Food trucks!  They come in the warmer months to a park just down the street and we are aghast at how close they are and how few the people are. What the hey? We still don't understand but it's so great. Some are better than others but there are some seriously quality trucks. We get a hodgepodge and eat on a blanket on the grass and nothing makes me happier than a parknic. Then Sean and I play catch with our adolescent-sized mitts and Julian runs around and all is happy and right in the world. The trucks are back now and i plan my week around them.  

8. Bagged salad. All these new-fangled salad kits are such a great invention.  I will never make a salad again unless it means opening bags and dumping.  


Brownie in a mug is a frequent friend. Or just plain hot chocolate. I don't have so much ice cream these days, for no reason at all.   But I'll eat anything for dessert, the most important meal of the day.

One thing worth mentioning is I recently found a recipe for custard that I use for everything and it is now my specialty. I feel so culinary too because it's apparently tricky and yet i can do it! i know! You just have to stand and stir for a while. I set out all my ingredients so I can keep stirring while adding and then i can my custard thickening meditation.   But I've perfected the banana cream pie and it's basically the only pie I make now.  Here it is:

1. layer of graham cracker crust (no sugar added! Don't do it!)
2. thin layer of ganache.
3. layer of custard
4. bananas
5. more custard.

and voila.  I've made this pie about 7 or 8 times since last fall and there's no stopping me.