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


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 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. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


 We got our tree mid-December this year. It felt weird and super late at first but now I think i'm into it.  I think I like to condense my Christmas-celebrating. Trying to stretch it out is a bit exhausting. I like two weeks. Let's do that.  Last year I chose our tree and Julian was super not into it. He did not like the tree we got. He thought it was terrible.  He bemoaned it all year. This year, we set out to find a super tall one to put in the middle of our vaulted ceiling'ed-room and he was excited.  And as we browsed the frosty tree aisles, he said "Mom gets the final say!"  Boy of wonder.  

Like someone else I know, Julian has very strong, immediate, gut-driven opinions.  When he latches onto a tree, he's fully committed.  Unless someone shows him one undeniably better.  It took us a while but after he would not budge on his early choice, Sean and I found one better. And we found Julian who had bailed on the hunt and decided to just hang out by his tree and beckoned him to come look at ours. One look and he discarded his choice readily. "Oh yeah, that one's better."  And we all agreed how strange it was that we manage to find the perfect every year.   Since we got a tree far larger than any tree in the past, our ornaments and decor was stretched pretty thing. We used ALL of our lights, warm and cold which looked cool, like silver and gold and then petered out with everything else.  But it's ok, because we had fun and found a good one and I got the final say. {magical stars}

I went to take a selfie and a nice guy who worked there offered to take the pic.
But pictures don't really work well at tree farms. 

Until you do a selfie. Julian's enthusiasm quickly waned. In one second, maximum... nil. 

Until I made him try hard to stay with me and this is all he could muster. A+


get up there, sean, you're fine. [petrified of heights]

Here's a tip: Taking a pic helps you see your light distribution better. 
Sometimes I think i'd rather just leave it alone. No ornaments, only lights. Next year? 
The queen has spoken. I think the kid would flip out. I think I'll suggest it and see what happens.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Xmas Parties

Last night Julian had a Christmas party. This kid kills me.  Every day I feel like I'm watching my fledgling twin and it's in the most bizarre ways.  Sean is more comfortable acknowledging the parallels than I and I'm comfortable pretty much acknowledging anything.  But it's just sooo similar and weird and slightly unsettling. For example:

He throws these parties for these kids who are in some kind of club. Just boys.  It's a secret club. They hold meetings and take minutes which are hilarious.  I offered some suggestions to Julian for a party but really it's a meeting. Julian cooked a chicken and the boys brought side dishes and a white elephant gift. They had Christmas crackers with jokes and trivia. They had madlibs and sparkling cider. They discussed their secret things.  And later on they had an epic marathon of Mario Bros on the Wii that i was only slightly jealous of.   For dessert was a peppermint chocolate cake with coins baked inside. This was my contribution. For some reason I just can't help but bake stuff in cakes. So even Julian was surprised. I think I like hosting parties from inside my bedroom door. Throwing out ideas, and then leaving but hearing about it later.  I left to grab some food for me and Sean and he texted me the uproar of the coin discovery and I was so tickled and so happy to not have to be there for it.

Julian gets a little stressed at hosting. At the end of it he says the kids had a lot of fun but he didn't, so much.  He's a bit of a Negative Neldon so that was unsurprising. He likes to do as much as he can himself so we only jump in here and there. So he gets stressed and anxious.  I understand those feelings. I throw parties because I want them to happen but I don't necessarily loooove it all the time. I throw them because if I'm going to go to one, I want to do what I want to do, eat what I want to eat, with the people I want there. Ha ha.  Julian said he wanted to do it because no one else would. Yup.  I get that too.  So funny to me.  I have figured out how to do it though. I throw them but I don't host them. I take myself out of the "host" position, even though I do all the stuff and it's at my house. I act as participant.  And then I am having fun because I'm doing what I want and not worrying about others having fun. Plus i think I'm fun so that helps.  And, if I'm not feeling in the super party mood, I can take myself out of it, back in the host position or background scene and let other people have fun while I get a head start on dishes.   One day I hope to impart all of my party wisdom on what looks to be a fledgling party-thrower. 

This morning was definitely the "morning after party." Lazy breakfast of poached eggs. He and I discussed the previous night and then the conversation rapidly shifted and ended with him asking me what my favorite smell was. After thinking about it and coming up with answers like "mown grass," "baking bread" and "old books" I asked him what his was and his rapid reply was, "Sulfur."  

God bless us, everyone.  (if I don't get that in at least once each Christmas, I have failed indeed)

I made julian fold these napkins with me which he did begrudgingly. And then later i heard one of his guests excitedly exclaim that Julian had to teach him. Again, love hosting behind closed doors.

Monday, December 20, 2021

LOTR: 20 Years

 Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of when Lord of the Rings: (I just typed "ringers"-hahahaha) Fellowship of the Ring(ers) came out.  Twenty years since my heart found its twin flame in Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Eowyn. And many, many others. 

We introduced the movies to Julian at a very young age. We started telling him the bedtime story of "Frodo and the Ring" when he was younger still.  So he has grown up on them.  And we carry on the beloved tradition of watching the extended versions every Christmastime.  We started reading the first book this fall. Julian thought we could have them all read by the time we started watching. Yeah, that didn't happen. They are slower-going. But that's ok. Last year I was at the checkout at Trader Joe's and you know how they always ask you prying questions about your day/life. He must have asked what i was up to this Christmas or something I don't know and I told him of our tradition and he said, "oh awesome! Yeah my Dad does that too."  What the fff... And I just found this meme which...


We finally made it to the end of our marathon and just happened to finish Return of the King last night and, as usual, I burst into sobs. Long after when someone would perhaps appropriately cry and then move on, I was still going. Had leftover feels. I just couldn't stop.  The credits were rolling and rolling by then and showing like, all the assistant carpenters and "hammerhands."  (love this word) I just decided to let the tears flow. It's a different kind of cry and it happens once a year. 

My view has slightly changed as I've gotten older too. For example, I remember crushing hard on Legolas back in the day and while I still have a love, reverence, and admiration of the beauty and mysticism of the elves, my more mature heart swoons for Aragorn.  How could it not? He is steady and loyal to the max the whole way through, even amidst his self-doubt and moments of hopelessness.  He carries on and encourages others and shows them he is a man of the people, a man of the hobbits, a man of whoever does good and is in need of good.  He shows up. I could probably write a separate post about him (and each of the characters and why i love them and their stories) but for now, let us just say, I cried big tears tonight. First when the movie ended and I felt like I'd been on such an epic journey, and second (and for different reasons) when I lost to Sean playing LOTR Trivial Pursuit*.  Happy Anniversary. Where have 20 years gone? Life is a lightning fast mystery.

*I am a bitter loser. But I swear he gets questions like, "whose burden was it to carry the ring?" and mine are all, "name every heir in Isildur's lineage down to Aragorn."  

Sunday, December 19, 2021

A Holy Day of Holy Nights

 Today I played piano for a church Christmas choir. The song was O Holy Night which I have personal feelings toward. Kind of "tread carefully."  Like, don't screw it up. Don't be careless with this one.  Fortunately we had a person in charge who cared and made a point to treat the song well.  We also had a cellist which is always, always a good idea.  We had a few practices and they were good and got better. Then today, the choir stood and hugged the piano which made me feel cozy. And for the last verse, the conductor turned around and included all the worshippers.  And that's when the song hit with full force. KAPOW.  With the choir to my left, the audience to the right, the cello at my back and the director in front,  I felt like I was in the belly of a beautiful beast. It was one of those moments when everyone subconsciously knew exactly what to do with the words and the song. Audience included.  They did it right. It was shattering and glorious. The whole room shuddered.  When I sat down, Sean, visibly shaken (so quite subtle in his Sean way, but noticeable by me) whispered to me, "what just happened???"    I whispered back, "I don't know! Some kind of magic? I think magic happened."  It was amazing. 

After that I went to a friend's church and performed another O Holy Night. She texted me a week ago when i was not in town and was like, can you?? And I was like, let me think. I got home and texted her back, "Let's do it.  I'm not going to write down any parts or have music, so if you're ok to do it fast and loose, so am i."  So we met once in the week. I ended up bringing some music because it's helpful to have something to look at (for both of us) but she sang what she wanted and I played stuff not on the page.  I hadn't quite worked out what I was doing so we just started messing around. We had the shape of something figured out and called it good. Today we met again really quick but I only had my lame piano at home so i knew it wasn't going to be great.  But again, we called it good and crossed our fingers, me banking on the better piano I'd be using.

And then again, when we went to perform, we just did our thing.  It was collaborative and somewhat impromptu.  We did not know what would happen. She has this rich low voice so I'd balance it out up higher. She would go one way, I'd go the other.  She varied the melody, taking on an alternative and I'd take it on the piano. She'd take it back and I'd leave and go somewhere else. There was a lot of torch taking and passing. It was awesome.  

And those rare, indescribable magic moments are what I love about playing music with people.  

The End

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Person From History

 If I could meet one person from history, I'd like to meet the person--the very first person-- who noticed/thought of the phrase,

 "you know what it means to assume, right? Just makes an ass out of you and me."

It could be that many people have made this discovery separately, individually, unaware it was already a thing.  "Guess what I just noticed!"   It might be that the actual first person doesn't even know they are the first person because surely someone had thought of this already. I think about this a lot, actually.  Who was the first person to come up with that? And do they know that they did?  They deserve to know. The whole world does too. 

Which is why I'd like to find out who it is and meet them. First, to let them know it was THEM. That it was on this date, that they were doing this and that and that they were actually the first.  And second, to shake their hand.  

Friday, December 17, 2021

Organized Comedietry

 Julian is a crazy little machine man, churning out ideas and thoughts and questions and weirdness at mach speed on a constant basis.  Here is a little sampling of all the things that were said this morning during breakfast within just a few minutes.  Fortunately I was over at the table working on my Christmas cards so I had some paper to jot them down on. Still, it's a challenge keeping up.  I hope i can read my scribbles:


JULIAN: Mom, what's the saddest, most ignorant place on Earth? 

JEN: uhh.. I don't know.. 

JULIAN: Car dealerships. 

I wasn't aware that one had a right answer. I never know when I'm being quizzed. 


"Man, I really wish I could build a land or road bridge running across the Bering Strait."  

He then continued to give some facts and information about the place. How long it is, where it's located, why that's interesting, etc. I was definitely listening to all of it as I wrote this down.  What makes me laugh most is "Man..."  So earnest. 


I asked him if he just always had thoughts running in his head, and if that was frustrating.
He said,

"Very frustrating. When I have something to think about, I can't just think about it later.  If it's an exciting thought, i have to walk around a little.

"Walk around?" 

"Yeah, go get a drink of water or something."

This was a little reminder that I need to ask him more questions like this. Also, three cheers for anyone who has exciting thoughts and chases after them... literally. 


He told me they were doing group project reports at school and a girl from his group went up to do their portion but then got scared and bailed so he jumped up and filled in:  "thank you thank you, you're all a great audience..." and then proceeded to give the report on ____. 

I asked him if he was the class clown. He said:

"Well, I'm funny, but not silly. [Friend's name] is probably the class clown. I'm organized comedietry. That's why I need my own Youtube channel. I'm thinking the name of it could be 'The Weekly Show.'" 

The name made me bust but even more is COMEDIETRY. He insists on using words he made up. They just feel right. I mean, I don't try hard to correct him. Why would I? It's an amazing word.  And so very Julian.  He uses this word all the time. I feel like it adds an artistic touch to plain old boring comedy.  A bit more elegant, wouldn't you say? 

And then we jumped in the car with presents for his crush, his teacher, and his friend, and three dozen 2-day-old donuts for the class party that was supposed to be Wednesday but was canceled due to a snow day. 

And that was that.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Dec. 16th!

 My journal turns 29 this year. Can that be right?  I thought i was 29. (har harharhiarharh)

(i have to. I watch this show on a constant, unending loop)

Yesterday I was at a friend's house making french toast. She was like, "want to come over for brunch?" and I was like, "yeah, what can I bring? i've got berries, brioche, orange juice, eggs."  Did someone say "breakfast foods"? I've got you covered. So I brought over everything including my own pan and was like, "step aside."  I will totally bulldoze your food ideas. But she was happy about it so it's fine.  

While I was doing that she told me she used to be a chameleon. She'd mirror the moods or attitudes or  or demeanors of whoever she was with, including guys she dated. She'd take on their interests as hers, personality traits. Until she realized what she was doing and stopped. I asked her what brought on that realization and she said an assignment in college where she had to JOURNAL EVERY DAY. (emphasis added. She did not necessarily speak in bolded all-caps, but that's how I heard it)  She said that as she did this, she realized she didn't know who she was, didn't know what her own interests were, and it helped her learn about and find herself and ultimately, love and appreciate herself.  

If you know me, this is not news, how I feel about journaling.  But I really love having empirical evidence for something I strongly believe in, particularly when I did not have to gather it myself, so you know it's totally unbiased.  

Happy anniversary*, best friend. 

*It actually turns 28, not 29, but I really wanted to use that 30 Rock clip. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021


 Since moving to the Utah 'burbs, we've experienced a lot of culture shock.  In the beginning, I was bringing my New York self to Utah and those things are...different.  I've had to work hard at reconciling who I am and living here and it's still an ongoing process but one thing that someone said to me early on has stuck with me and it gives me a bit of comfort when I feel like I might explode from trying to jam Square Peg Jen into this round suburban hole. (wish my name was Peg right now. Also, is Peg short for anything? What a weird name) We were moving into our house and a neighbor who has since become a friend I respect and admire said to me, 

"You know, the wreaths all the look the same, but the stories inside are very different."  Or something like that. I laughed at the wreath comment because I was like, man it's true, what is UP with the wreaths and the sameness around here.    Also--year 'round wreaths. Not just at Christmas? This was new to me. 

For some reason, I struggle with wreaths. It's a dumb struggle and can barely even be called that, but I think I've used it as a symbol of some kind that I'm not sure I fully understand. A symbol of assimilation? A symbol of superficiality and caring what neighbors think? Two things I abhor. I try extra hard not to care about things I don't want to care about but feel culturally compelled to care about since living here for some-odd years. So I resist the wreath, at least at non-Christmastimes.  Right now on our door we have 3 snowflakes that light up. Somehow, snowflakes hanging are totally different from a wreath.  

One day I was out for a walk and in a park near my house, there are pine trees with the tiniest, most adorable, perfect pinecones.  I took one one day and on another day, brought the coat with the deep pockets and stuffed them full as fast as I could. I'm a bit of a thief out in nature. More specifically, fruit-thieving. If I walk by a raspberry bush that someone planted in their front yard, i kind of feel like it's an invitation. And I've been known to take some grapes off an over-the-fence vine (I left a thank you note though. Left = flung over the fence). I think in the UK they call this scrumping, but that might specifically apply to apples, which I have also thieved.  In Sweden the word is palla, as a verb, but I don't know if there's a noun.  Anyway, the pinecones: I didn't even know what I was going to do with them, I just wanted them, so I took them. They were too cute.  They have since remained in a bowl as some kind of sad decor as we have yet to figure something out. But I just can't let them go. Here they are:


In other news, I am slowly weaning myself off of Facebook. It's going well but I'll check in once a week or so. Sometimes I am rewarded, especially after I started following a group called Middle Earth or something. And they have excellent LOTR memes and whatnot.  One day someone posted a wreath and I loved it. I closed the browser (I only look at FB on my laptop. One of my rules) and then later Sean walked in and I told him, 

"Sean, I think i found the wreath I would have, were I to have a wreath."  

And I went back and tried to find it via Google, who was showing me a lot of things but not what I was looking for.   

"Shoot," I said. "I'll have to find it later. But hey look, here's something we can make with our pinecones."

And I clicked on an image of a wreath made out of just pinecones. Until I looked a bit closer and was like, "wait..what the hey?"  

No. Not pinecones:

Let's zoom in a bit more.

WREATH OF KHAN.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha. What do I love more than nerdy puns about nerdy things? 

Answer: NOTHING. 

We laughed and then later I found the wreath I had seen initially: 

Wreath + door on a door, with party reference which = holiday-y? and hobbit curmudgeonliness which = me? A+ 

So, looks like I found two wreaths I would concede to have. 

But if anyone has any ideas about those pinecones, let me know.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Drink Your Envelope

Found another weirdly festive gem of advice in one of my old Good Housekeepings. I love the juxtaposition of the gross content + stellar graphic design.  


Happy holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Someone's Kind of Christmas II

 My cousin passed away a few days ago.  She had breast cancer. She was in her early 50's She had a husband and four daughters ranging in age from 10'ish-16'ish.  I mentioned her in a previous post. 

Sometimes I don't know what to do with all the suffering in the world. Suffering I read about, hear about secondhand, witness firsthand (which is rare), suffering I don't see or hear about but know must be rampant, all around me.  The unspoken suffering.  Including suffering of my own.  Whenever I hear someone say they are going through or have gone through some traumatic or painful experience, I work really hard at responding in some way to acknowledge what they've said to me.  Like many, I often don't know what to do or say in times like this. I don't have the right words. I can't say anything of comfort, though I wish I could.  And I am thinking the reason why is because there aren't any right words. There isn't anything of comfort at the moment. Maybe they just cannot be comforted right now. And who am I, some rando they came into contact with, to give it to them? Why would anything I say have any impact.  

But I have learned that those moments are of deepest, most exposed vulnerability. Horrors a person may hardly be able to even verbalize.  So if they do, I have to receive it.  I have to say something that acknowledges what they've said, so they feel heard and seen at the very least, and hopefully loved and accepted. I don't know why this feels important but it does.  It just needs a place and for two seconds or longer, if they wish, that place is going to be with me. Instead of remaining silent, or brushing it off awkwardly or worse, mistreating it in some way, denying its gravity or validity, I am going to let it exist in that moment and I will let the person know I exist with it, with them, too.  I am still working on how to do this. I don't know the best way.  Maybe it's by saying something, anything, in response. "I heard what you just said, and I'm sorry."  "You are really experiencing something right now."  "You are in it."  "What is this like for you?" I never know what is the thing to say.

I know the holidays are difficult for people. People who struggle. People who've lost loved ones at any time in their life. People whose relationships are not what they wish. Losing your wife or mother at Christmas sounds unbelievably painful.  The holidays can feel so stupid and busy at times. I often don't know how to do it, especially when there's so much suffering going on. It feels wrong. So for now, I go about my day doing my lame busy things, appreciating what I have, and pausing in my mind to make space for those suffering right now and for the kind of Christmas they are experiencing. Hopefully one day I'll know more what to do about it.