Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Summer Wrap-up 2016

It rained last night, the first time in many moons, and i feel it broke summer. Today it's chilly and once again i am grateful for the balance of the seasons. How the severe ones make you wish for change and the transitional ones keep you at arms' length, reminding you not to get too attached. As usual, I keep tabs on the weather around the world, particularly where people I know live and I'm reminded once again that September in NY is really quite horrible.  You keep thinking fall is here but really it's hurricane season which triples the humidity and makes you ooze into autumn as a human sweat puddle.

I'd like to do some kind of summer recap but in a way that's un-boring.  Any ideas? The only thing I can think of is the highs and lows but maybe I'll just make a general list.
  • We went to a beloved pal's wedding in Nashville.  The south is trippin, man. I loved it. But it is another realm for sure. So beautiful and vast and green and slow and nice and contemplative and fried. We visited plantations and toured old homes. All good stuff.
  • Camped in the red rock country, our home away from home.
  • Had a few hotel stays which is the ultimate, as everyone knows. Doesn't matter where. I am a big fan of the mini-trip. Little weekenders. Low pressure and planning but still getting away.
  • Played at a lake and rented paddle boards and a 3-person jet ski and had the flipping time of our flipping lives. Every once in a while in my life i engage in an activity that excites real thrill. Speed. You know? It doesn't happen often. And when our jet ski was puttering around for the first 20 minutes, having been the only one of us to have experienced jet skis or wave runners, I kept saying to Sean, "it HAS to go faster than this. I know it does!"  Something was clogged or something. And when it finally kicked in and we sped into high gear all of us simultaneously felt the wonderful combination of exhilaration and fear and it was the best ever. Well, I know Julian and I did. Sean is a bit of a question mark.
  • We took some swimming lessons and everything just clicked.  Julian has always loved the water. Back when he was a not-yet-walking toddler, one of our favorite things was the pool because he could splash and bounce around on his knees and feel a part of the scene and not tear holes in his pants. Fast forward to now, he's finally walking (ha) and swims like a fish and is the only class/extra curricular thing he's actually loved. 
  • I went on a buddy trip to the Shakespeare Fest with Brooke, the friend I'd call up in high school and desperately ask to explain Shakespeare to me for an English class.  This trip was the BEST. Buddy trips are the BEST.  Buying this masterpuppet theater and filming our own shakespeare scenes on a bench on campus and giggling like the biggest nerds that we are.

  • As mentioned, I did a lot of hiking the Timp Cave this summer. It was magical and the best thing I did. To cap it, I hiked the mountain with Brooke and another pal Michelle and it was glorious.  We started early, using head lamps, then watched the rising sun bring all of our surroundings slowly into view, probably my favorite part.   The hike was varied and long and totally fine until the way down when our legs became jelly and unable to support the top half. So much slipping and sliding and fumbling staggering walking.  At one point I begged a family going the other way, "how long have you been walking? I just need to know that there WILL be an end!"  The whole thing was awesome and hard. I've never done a real hike like that before though. Some pics:



    somewhere in the middle

    higher up

    at the top
  • The AC broke for 2.5 weeks during the peak heat wave of July.  When this first happened I was pleased and amused, rubbing my hands the way I do when something exciting happens and shakes things up.  What do we do? How do we live like this? It takes planning and mapping things out. Surviving. I enjoy that, as we know.  The elements of this were as follows:

    We had a family sleepover for two weeks downstairs in the coolest part of the house. For a while opening the back door and putting a fan in front worked fine as it cooled down at night but when the daytime temps crept even higher, even the desert night couldn't keep up and we had to go get a portable AC just for that room which we blasted all day to keep the sleeping time tolerable. When it was all over, AC fixed, and we dusted off the doorknobs to our bedrooms, Julian cried his little heart out. I knew he'd be broken up about it. He loooved that part of it. But then, he loves communal living.

    Cooking was out of the question (even more than normal times, i mean) but when we did it we'd use the grill and we ate almost every dinner at home outside on the grass. In the front or the back. Or on the front step. Why not? Loved this. It really made me appreciate the beauty of the picnic and the simple joys of summer.
    Poor, works-from-home Sean suffered greatly as his office is the hottest room in the house, facing the westerly sun. Blehh. He set a fan inches away and we'd bring him popsicles and shaved ice on the half hour.
    We ate so much ice cream and cold things as a means to survive. It's funny when you do that. We stocked up on frozen treats and would eat one right after another in the late afternoon and evening, on the front step, escaping when we could. 
    And that's what Julian and I did every day. Escape.  Summers in NY got so hot you really couldn't leave the house at times and it was strange to experience the flip side. I am one who can't be in the house all day long-- i go cuckoo-- but it's tricky, too, to HAVE to leave, for physical reasons.  Anywhere was acceptable. Sean would get a haircut and i'd exclaim, "We'll come too! We'll go to the grocery store and walk around and look at stuff! It'll be the BEST!"  Julian would fight me because he didn't understand the heat was making him extra angry but when we got out of the festering hot bubble, the anger spell would break and we'd have a fun time experiencing something typically mundane and boring in a new way with new eyes, my favorite thing.
And that, to me, was the pinnacle of our summer experience, the AC breakdown.  It really allowed the summer to creep unchecked into our home and melt on our faces so that it was all we could breathe,  summer inside and out. I really felt like we were IN it and that was joyful to me, because when i experience something i really want to EXPERIENCE it. I yearn for heightened sensations in that regard.  And also, it made it so we'd be extra happy for fall, the opposition I relish.  So honestly, it made the summer fun and different and obviously was not a big deal. We got it fixed and we were happy about that. But summer shake ups--YEAH!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On This Day

Sometimes, when i hear the date and details of someone going through a major event, usually traumatic in some way, I try to think back to what I was doing  at the time and then I line up those two lives being lived, side by side, and compare.  Mostly it's just a thought like, "Huh. When I was spending my day cleaning my dumb house or eating ice cream on the porch, this person was going through THAT."  Or, "This person was having a baby amidst horrible depression and mental illness. i was just starting college, eighteen, laughing with friends and learning how to be adultish."  And I imagine us going through life in a split-screen, me here and them there. I don't know why I do it. But I do it. I guess it gives me some perspective on my own life, and is perhaps an attempt to remember the small joys and moments of my day, to be filled with a little more gratitude, and not take what i have for granted. To do better to recognize hardship in others' lives and let it benefit my own.

For example, I just read about a woman who was hiking in New Zealand about a month ago when her hiking partner slipped and fell and died. She, also injured, survived for 3 days out in the open and then found an old cabin and lived there for A MONTH.   And I'm like, one month. What was I doing in July? Oh, living in my house with no AC. Eating popsicles and sweating around the clock.  *zoom out and go across the world to a remote cabin in NZ to a woman, injured, having to leave dead friend, middle of winter, feet and feet of snow outside. Buh.*

Hopefully when you read that I had no AC you zoomed out to your own life in July and imagined what you were doing with AC, and feel better and more grateful.  I'm kidding, obviously it was fine and perhaps more on that later. What I really came to do today was come in here and jot down the day to give myself a bit of perspective and to just, I guess, remember.

Here's one thing.  Remember the Dry Farm?  And that little white house that we stayed in and loved, where we felt transported to a different time and dimension? Yeah it burned down.  All of it. Surrounding buildings, the relics therein: gone.  They think it was a human-started fire though I know very little. What I do know is that I can hardly believe it happened. We were just there two weeks ago, and this place that holds so much of the heart of my mother and her sisters, of me and my own child, is gone.  We could have taken home the treasures-- old heirlooms, paintings and photos. Blankets made by my grandmother. But we didn't, and now they're gone, and all we have left are our joint memories and love and mourning.  We told Julian and he sobbed and sobbed. Serious heartbreak. He's also really good at weeping and wailing, crying to the heavens, "Why would you let this happen??" *shaking fists* Futilely asking me, asking no one, "What better place is there in all the world??"  And while I do laugh, mostly my heart breaks for his, and I cannot answer, because I feel the same.

This morning I got on the ol' Facebook and discovered a friend, who'd been hospital-ridden for months and months, birthed her twin boy and girl and subsequently lost the boy who'd been sick in utero.  And she wrote this update with pictures of her beautiful babies, having not allowed time for herself to sleep or gather her thoughts at all, but just got it out, put it out there for everyone to see, all of her feelings, untouched by the passing of time.  So raw, so wrenching, and I cried, and I thought, this is what is going on for her and her family, where they are, on this day, right now.

And then I went for a hike. The mountain was cool, the sky cloudy and just utterly glorious with its morning sun ripping through and around all the clouds. I hiked up and up and shuddered in the cold gust of the mountain wind and felt that kind of closeness to nature and therefore everything else that one does in moments like this.  And I listened to an interview with Elie Wiesel, a concentration camp and holocaust survivor who died this summer.  And he spoke, his voice soft and hypnotic, as he shared his journey and lifelong mission to be a voice for broken people, a teacher to those who were not there, though he said he could never succeed. He could never be successful in describing what it was actually like. To, as he said, "communicate the incommunicable."  But to keep trying anyway. And as he shared his views of faith and struggle, in life and circumstance, he quoted a well known Hasid whose name I couldn't quite catch, who he paraphrased, saying, 

"No heart is as whole as a wounded heart.  No faith is as whole as a wounded faith."    

And I cried again, and descended the mountain, a part of me changed forever. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day of First Grade

You know, I am SURE I have blogged about this, as it was such a pivotal moment in my life-- wait a minute! I was going to say that when I did a search for the phrase "first day of first grade" or just "first grade," a trillion posts came up and i was never going to find it. But hang on, haaaang onnn! It may be under the pivotal moments post. Let me check. *time passes*  Ok, nope, false alarm. So weird. Where could it be?Ah well.  (Pivotal Moments is still a good one, if you want to read.)

Once upon a time, it was the first day of school. I remember it well. It was a crazy blustery morning with approx. 1 mil. frenzied kids rushing about the house trying to get ready and fed for the start of a new school year. Kids in elementary school, Jr. High, and High School felt the first day jitters but, I personally believe, no one more than I, for on that [probably] warm and sunny August day in 1986, it was to be my first day of first grade.

I had previously met my teacher and had a vague idea of where her classroom was.  That day, my mom (mother of aforementioned 1 million children) had the impossible task of making sure every one was brushed, dressed, shoed, backpacked, combed, etc. For some reason or another, she had to take us to school because I guess we missed the bus? I don't know. We were never home-driven to school, always bused. But we were late. As I said, it was a frenzy. And apparently we were so late that she didn't have time to put shoes on. Driving without shoes is super weird and just shows how chaotic it must have been and it makes me laugh.  So we drove up to the school and since she had no shoes, she couldn't take me to class. We had a discussion in the car and I assured her I could find the room ok.

But then it happened that i was six, and had forgotten it all, and in the madness and bedlam of the school satellite buildings, I became confused and could not find my classroom. I can still remember the feeling of that day, being in those weird hallways.  I asked a few teachers and even a woman behind a desk but somehow still couldn't find the right room.  I don't remember how I ended up there but the next thing I remember is somehow making my way to the front of the school at the flag pole, unsure what to do with myself. I don't think I cried, but I was feeling very scared and sad, and wondered what I should do next.  And then, as the doors to the school opened, so did the gates of heaven, and angels' voices descended upon me as I saw my 6th grade brother come out to rescue me. He took me to where i was supposed to be and all was well.  It was a bit traumatic and I've given my mom a bit of a rough time for it but it really made the day stand out to me and makes this day, today, extra special.

I told this story to Julian this morning and about how I finally did find my desk which had my name on it along with a new box of crayons. I feel like I couldn't read terribly well yet at the time. And i think about him, a reading champ, and feel happy inside.   Our morning was insanely early and i don't know if either of us slept much. We had a good chat and walk to school. He cried when it was time to part but I've grown so used to this and also, given his changing and growing up, i don't mind if he's still a little bit clingy.  It's a now endearing and silly little game we play. He knows he'll be ok. And I know he'll rock it.  He's got a space-designed backpack that i SWEAR he picked out (when I showed it to him on amazon, and no others) and is on pair three of shoes I bought in three different sizes because he/we loved them--whew that the time for the largest size hit right at the start of school.  He's tall and old and will need constant reminding to wear his glasses, as I will need reminders to remind him. His voice is getting lower and more big kid-like. He determinedly tucks his shirt into his underwear and lost another tooth a couple of days ago. I'm happy he's growing up, feel a little unnerved like I do every time i have to re-get to know him, but man, i sure do like him a lot. And can't wait for him to have adventures and for the sure-to-be epic tales he has to tell. Happy first day of first grade, Shorty.  

pic his teacher took. still a beauty. 

A video from a year ago.

put this in his lunch, heh heh.  Julian is basically Calvin.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


I haven't blogged in a while. It's a darn shame and hopefully a symptom of summer and nothing more but I would be very remiss if I didn't get on here to sound the birthday trumpets for the lad, formerly known as Squirt but is now so tall, so gangly and weedlike, a squirt he is no more.  I still call him Shorty because he's quite a bit shorter than I am and i like to tease him for it. But that day, too, will come to an end. 

I don't have too many pictures, either because I just have given up on trying to snap a pic of every moment in my day or because i have no room on my phone and it's trained me to not even consider it. But I do have a few quality quotes so let's slap them up and enjoy.

First, a Julian summary:

I am not even sure what to say here. I could write boring things like "he's changed so much... blah blah blah."  Or be too honest like, "He's growing up and is so much older. Actually he's kind of leaving the cute phase and has entered the annoying phase of poop jokes, irritating voices, sucking years of my life away by retelling episodes of Scooby Doo IN FULL, and testing limits in every which way possible."

I think instead I'll sum him up with a short story.  Two days ago we went in to meet his first grade teacher.  She seemed like a nice lady and she had Julian sit with her to read and answer questions while I filled out the mom questionnaire.  He had me laughing as I tried to focus on my task and one of her questions was thus:

TEACHER:  Do you have any siblings?

JULIAN: One. And it's a cat.

TEACHER: *stunned face*  What?

JULIAN: *repeats what he said*

JEN: *dying in her chair

And that about sums him up. She sure is in for a sweet surprise this year. I think overhearing Julian talk to other adults might be my favorite thing ever.  Let's read some other weird and wonderful things he's said lately that i've managed to jot down:

"What would I do without you, Mom? You're like my life source."

Straight up. And also, awwww.

"If I could have a giant laser I'd use it to carve my face onto a comet, and I'd carve my children's faces onto it too.  Family comet."   

We were packing up the car for a trip.

JEN: Ok, we're about ready to leave. Is there anything you want to do in the car?

JULIAN: Look out the window is what I want to do in the car...

Ha ha, yessss.

At the movies:

"Are they going to play our movie or did we come to the all previews movie?"


"I'm trying to step into mid-air!" 

I looked back and he really was trying to step into what looked like some alternate dimensional space.

Ok i found some random pics. I may have posted some of these already. These days I can't keep track of this and instagram but a couple are just too good not to post again.

Happy birthday to the child of mine, a voracious reader, more self aware than many adults I know, astute in the world around him, and who gets me better than almost anyone.

parade part II

When i dared him to take out the trash nekkid.

Putting in some bathroom fixtures. "Look, Mom! It's the Starship Enterprise!"
Jen: *sobbing*

<3 br="">

Friday, July 15, 2016

)en at the Pool

When I swim, i swim like a child. I like to do twists and turns and flail my body like an awkward and unabashed sea-goon.  If I'm in the deep end, I tread water but most of the time, since i have a squirt to swim with, we stay in the shallower end and I attempt to adhere to some unwritten rule that i must keep as much of my body under the water's surface as long as I can. No standing up with water to my knees, no no. That's wading, and there's no wading at the pool.   

First I see where both Julian and I can touch. It is here that I do my best twists and tricks. Same as on my knees. I have a pretty wide range of motion. Then as I move up to shallower water, I must switch to the crouch. My knees are bent as tightly as can be and I shuffle on my toes under the water until, in shallower-still water, I switch to my backside gently bumping along the pool floor and I glide my body around like a soon-to-be beached whale that's trying to pretend everything's cool.  But then I am, I am a beached whale, beautiful and proud, and I sit with arms and legs stretched out and let the tides and currents swish me this way and that in the hot summer sun and it is aaaaalright. It is very alright.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Eye Doctor

The Eye Doctor experience is a pleasant one. I've always enjoyed it at least. I think i like those awkward moments sitting so close, face-to-face with someone as they stare deep into my eyes.   Except the last time when I visited, the doc was about my age and when i complained of seeing those reflective retinal spots and wanted to know what he could do about it he shrugged and said "yes, you're getting older."  WHAT.  Unacceptable. But other than that, it's generally not a bad experience.

We knew the day would soon come that Julian would likely need the glasses.  I got contacts when I was in 8th grade but knew i needed them in 6th (yes, it was a foggy and confusing couple of years) and Sean got his at Julian's ripe little age of six. With our lame eyes combined,  he's basically been doomed. But I've been looking forward to it because I love nerds and little nerd children.  So when he began to show signs of not quite being able to see quite right I excitedly declared, "it's time!"  

The eye doc was super nice and great with the boy.  And Julian was cracking me the heck up.  He was similarly chatty as when he's with the hair dresser which is most entertaining.  The exam was quite thorough and they tested him in various ways which I appreciated and also enjoyed. The doc would show him a strip of 6 letters or so projected in reverse on a screen mounted to the wall behind him. I actually took a picture because it was so funny to me and guess who's the cool girl who forgot to turn off the sound on her phone when snapping the pic and it rang out nice and loud. Classy.


Julian was facing a mirror where he was to look and it was clear he wasn't seeing everything quite right when he would say things like this:


Box! Hahaha.  And he wouldn't even pause to think like, hmm, maybe "box" isn't actually supposed to be one of them. It looked like a box so it was a box. Next.

Another one:

" with a line through it... X....B..."

Sooo funny.  "circle with a line through it" made several appearances and he was so sure of what he was seeing, i had to turn around to double check.  Maybe that is what it was? Just to throw you? 

It reminded me of this scene from Parks and Rec:

It's the dawn of a new age.  So far the adjustment has been pretty smooth. And we got him a sweet glasses band so they'd stay on his face which makes him even nerdier.  So great.  Here are some pics of Julian with his new specs:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer So Far

It's so weird that we've been on summer vacation for a full month now. I was happy about this until I saw that my east coast friends are just starting theirs and now my gloaty happiness has turned to bitter envy.   Gloatful?  

I just thought I'd check in and see what summery things I have to say. Because as we all know, I know just as much as you do when I sit down to start typing something.  

1. Summer hikes.  I originally made a summer goal to go on 1 million hikes.  Somehow it has not worked out that way but I have done a few.  One was down south in Escalante, UT. It's a beauty of a hike, 3'ish miles and ends with a giant waterfall.  It's awesome except it was approx. 3 trillion degrees and we had oldie parents and young kids. Whoops.  Fortunately, we had some bags of ice with us, originally intended for coolers but would learn were destined for a greater purpose.  Sean and I ended up carrying a half bag of ice each and would hand out cubes to people to do with what they will. For instance, wrapping in a bandana and tying around your neck.  Or stuffing down your shirt and resting them comfortably inside your swimsuit (that was me. best ever)  Or just holding them against your face.  It was hot, dang hot, and a time when the feeling in the air started to get hazy and blurred and started to smell of survival. You know, when you begin to wonder what you have in your pack, that you should probably start rationing your water. Not real survival, but kind of, which is a game i enjoy.

Here is a picture of me at a different waterfall trying to dip my head in the falls and not die.

2. Summer snakes. For the first time in my life this summer I saw a real rattle snake.  It was hideous and terrifying.  It was on this same camping trip and as I was walking across the dirt road back from the bathrooms (that information is unnecessary) at desert dusk, I saw it, casually pointed at it-- "snake"  and then my heart did a little flip.  Still getting used to being in nature, the cause for real terror is delayed for me and my initial feelings are "who let this snake out of the zoo? Whose pet is this?"  It's weird that it just LIVES there.  Anyway, it was headed straight for our campsite with a dozen kids so we all turned warrior.  I've learned that in the fight or flight reflex scenario, I believe i tend to lean more toward fight. I will FIGHT that thing. Stupidly, even.  I semi-hysterically told Sean, "get the hatchet! I'll kill it!! I'll do it!"  He, also half-hysterical, replied, "you have to get super close to it to use that!"  So we began throwing rocks at it and it turned on its rattle (because it's not real, see) which was super scary. The sound of a real snake rattle in nature-aaah.  Finally my snake-loving brother (in the days of yore, he's not that creepy. But as a teen he used to collect them and keep them in the window well. GROSS) got a long ax and chopped its head off. A nephew got the rattle. We were all jealous. But scared.  I still am. *shudder*

3. Summer Timp. Speaking of hikes and snakes, my friend Brooke has made a goal to hike the nearby Timpanogos Cave trail 36 times this summer.  Click here to see some pics of the cave. We've toured the cave already but the hike is really where it's at.  1.5 miles basically straight up. Ok, basically at a semi-steep incline. It rises about 1,000 feet in elevation from base to cave and it's a paved path as shown below:

Also? It's a 10 min. drive from my house. Guh-lorious. The sights and the smells are SO beautiful, SO rejuvenating. Brooke and I go together but sometimes i go alone and when i do i listen to podcasts that make me think some wonderful thoughts that i immediately forget if I don't discuss them with Sean right away. It's some serious exercise, both up and down, and I love it so. I've done it about 10 or so times now and I think I'm addicted.

  Well, the other day I was hiking in the morning and saw the most hideous worm/snake ever. It was so repulsive, I felt like I wasn't really meant to see it. It was red like a worm but moved like a snake, though slowly, and it had a snake head. I shouldn't have looked at it. I feel like i cursed myself by looking at it and now bad luck will befall me. Like normally it's a kind of evil, a demon that only lives in shadows and the one time it emerged, with no one else around, I the unlucky soul, just happened to glance down at the wrong moment. I should have performed a spell, commanding it to return to the shadow from whence it came, but instead I took a picture. It could have been some kind of snake baby which is somehow more disgusting, and Sean wonders if it's a rattler (we're still traumatized) since it has a stubby tail. Here's a picture. *vomit face


And now that you've seen it I am afraid you are cursed as well.  You have seven more days to live.

4.  Summer fruit. Let's talk for just a minute about berry season and how it's the greatest thing.  Well, that's pretty much all I need to say about it but let's just sit and let that thought really soak in. Best. Ever.  There is no end to blueberries that Julian and I can eat. Really. Oft we get those giant-sized containers from Costco and sit out on the porch and one by one toss them back until we lick the clam container clean. 

5. Summer fruit tip:  If you have a mandatory bowl of apples on your counter top like I do, put delicious fruits with it for an infused flavor combo. For instance: peaches. We combined our peaches with the apples and then I ate an apple and was like, WHAT AMBROSIA HAVE I DISCOVERED IN MY BOWL?  It tasted amazing and it was too subtle to immediately be like, what the, am i eating a peach? but enough to be freakin' delicious. Also, cut your apples on the same spot where you sliced a lemon. I know lemon juice and apples go together, this is old news, but for some reason--maybe if you do it accidentally and that's the secret--it tasted extra good.  

6. Summer pools. Public pools are getting more and more gross to me, in my mind. Which is sad because the pool is the best! Except when you think about all the gallons of sunscreen and gross bodies and questionable fluids you're swimming around in. Blehh. I just have to put it out of my mind. It's hard though. But-- i made an important discovery whilst at the pool and it is this: Adolescent boys sound JUST like moms. Like 40'ish-age moms.  And it's super trippy.  I'm always a bit startled to find that the mom who had told her friend, "dude, let's go down the slide again"  was actually a twelve-year-old boy. And I know I should probably just say "woman" instead of mom, but that's where my brain went. It's really weird though. Next time listen up and you'll notice it too.   It kind of makes sense though, since I've often thought my singing voice sounds like that of a teenage boy.

7. Summer reading.  Did you take English classes where you had to read books before the school year started and you were like, this is a serious rip-off!  For me it was the summer after 9th grade. Though one of my best because it basically consisted of me and my friend Amy riding our bikes from morn until dusk and playing bike games with a tennis ball, a summer memory my mind takes me back to often, I also had mandatory reading to do which was just a real drag.  You know, we should all go back and re-read the required reading books but this time for pleasure and see how we feel. See if it's still tainted by school. Maybe.  This past year my book club read The Scarlet Letter and I just couldn't do it.   

Anyway, we do not have required reading this summer but what we do have is Julian's school's library open once a week and I'm realizing the 5th-6th grade level reading is RIGHT up my alley.  Those short mysteries written in the 70's-90's--YES.  No phones, no annoying modernity.  It feels classic and simple but well thought out and I love it. 

So far I've read Melusine, a super legit-creepy book set in a summer break chateau in France, Summer of the Swans which was so, so nice, and Someone Was Watching, about a family tragedy that takes place at a summer beach house... but with unanswered questions.   I perused the shelf of Goosebumps yesterday wondering if I could revisit that. Time will tell. 

So, in short, looks like the summer so far is shaping right up. 


Sunday, June 12, 2016

)en's Car Names

Every once in a while, usually while on a car trip, in addition to playing geography games, I like to play a game called Made-up Car Make Models.  That's a bad name for a game. But you know what i mean, coming up with good car model names.  I'm sure everyone does this. Sonata, Elantra, Camry. Who comes up with this? I'd like to know.  It's kind of an exercise in creative word play for myself. Free play.  It feels like a word game. What words do i know? What words will come out of my mouth? Let's find out. It's a fun game.

I don't know a lot of car names. Sean knows more than I but he's not like BIG into cars either. And I'm convinced I could come up with some really good ones. We were driving through red rock country and i felt inspired.  I ran them by Sean and he helped confirm whether or not it already existed and also vetoed what he saw fit.   I wrote down what I came up with and now you get to see it. If any of you works in the Office For Naming Cars, that'll be one million dollars, please. I should apply to work there and if that doesn't work out, I'll send my application to Office For Naming Crayon Colors.

Here they are:

Capitan.  Like El Capitan.   But maybe Captain, as well.
Unicorn (veto)
Mountaineer--already exists
Mariner--already exists
Spotlight-- i like this one. Who wouldn't want to be in a Spotlight?? Tagline I just came up with!
Endeavor (shuttle name)
Dream Catcher


Bamboozle-- Sean's tagline for this car:  Crappy car no one will buy!

Standby-- ha ha.  Sean's tagline: The car you don't use but just in case.

Rabbit--already exists
Jameson. Fancy car. The car your driver would drive you in.
Prism--already exists
Radon-- Sean's tagline: it'll kill you.


I tried to go for alliterative names but apparently, according to my crusty notebook here, i only came up with one:  Chevy Showdown. Pretty good though, right.

Sunrise (Sean said del sol was already one)
Access.  --Sean's tagline: it lets you get there.

And the last one I came up with and apparently the best one since i circled it:


Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Summertime Julian Quote

Julian's not only learned to love the cat, he's developed shmoopy love, producing spontaneous cat nicknames and excels at the baby voice.  Some cat words he's made up:

Hugnut, a nickname I enjoy. He is a little hugnut, yes he is!  I wonder where he learned the kitty lovey baby voice.

Bunchum.  This happens when the cat sort of stands up on his hind legs.  It's funny and the word makes it funnier. 

And others I can't remember.  He toes the line of loving the cat too hard and I wear myself out getting after him and then rationalize in my head that maybe this is just normal, that cats are used to being tossed around by kids, that maybe he even likes it.  I won't say that I get a tiny bit of satisfaction when the cat retaliates at Julian when he's been loving him too hard.  I won't say it.   But the cat teaches him a lesson better than I ever could.

Our cat is crazy and wild and also very very soft and pillow-like.  It's a good thing I love animals because i could get a hefty profit for a catskin stole.  

Every once in a while Julian busts out with phrases that are just really, really well done. I'm learning a lot about the kid of late and this is one thing.  He's expressive. He's descriptive. And I'm so proud.  The other day I gave him a new notebook for him to use for whatever and he said he'd call it Julian's Log.  I mean, are you kidding me? Are you kidding me.  Anyway,  here's the funny weird quote he said the other day, about the cat, as he was loving up on the little hugnut:

"Mom, there's a giant, been-in-the-oven-too-long nugget over here. Think I'd better eat it." 

What? Just... what?  Outstanding.

Friday, June 03, 2016

More Questions

I found this confusing gem scribbled on a bygone post-it note that had fluttered to the floor and it needs to be made public.

JULIAN (age 6): Daddy, what's blubber?

SEAN (expert): Blubber is a layer of fat under the skin that helps keep marine mammals warm in cold water.

JULIAN: That means aliens must be mammals.


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.