Sunday, January 25, 2015

Baby, It's Cold Inside

What's that you say? Christmas is over, enough with the songs? Well, tell that to the people who still have their lights and Christmas trees up. Besides, that song isn't even about Christmas, just cold weather and fires. So really it's a January carol, one we should all be singing regularly. If only the other seasons and holidays had carols of their own! That's the one thing keeping Halloween from the top spot.

Well, it's January now. I was trying to explain to Sean how I feel about this and nothing was coming out right.

JEN: Ok, so it's January. Let's embrace this. Let's print out some Bentley snowflakes and put them up all over the wall.

SEAN: Wow, really? I'm surprised. I would think you'd want a big poster of a tropical scene.

JEN: No, no. Sean, I don't hate winter, i just.. i mean, ok, yes I do hate winter. But that doesn't mean I hate it. I mean, not yet. Now it's fine. It's appropriate. I mean, what, do I wish we'd just skip it and move onto spring? Well... maybe.  But no, it's fine! I like all the seasons. So let's do winter. Let's do winter??? Let's DO. WINTER.

I don't actually want to skip to spring. How could I ever enjoy it without the horribleness of winter? I'd be like, oh hey spring, back so soon? that's cool.  It's just that the winter is 1.5-2 months too long. But it's fine for January. What else is in January? Nothing. If anything, I have a serious problem with March, when you're like, winter will NEVER. END. On this, I wrote what I thought was a not bad blog post no one cared to comment on but that's fine, whatever.

SO. January.  Let's have it. 

I keep getting emails from NY telling me when alternate side parking is canceled. I like getting these emails because of the intense surge of joy they bring, even though they are no longer applicable to my life. I never want to forget. But I got one today canceling parking rules for Monday AND Tuesday in anticipation of a doozy of a storm. Though, as last year taught me, only a fool will park on the right side of the road as that is where the snow plows plow the snow mountains and you'll never see your car again until spring.

Here, it's actually been a really warm and pleasant winter which is just the most delightful thing ever. But when I first started this draft it was soon after Christmas when temps were in the 0's and it snowed a lot. This made for a very cozy and frigid existence in this tiny woodsy cottage of ours. Except it's ill-equipped for such temperatures. We had the heaters on at fullspeed and it was fuh-REEZING.  Our heaters just couldn't hack it. One night we piled every blanket we had and it was still insufficient. I have never been so cold indoors. I just laughed as I tucked myself in, trying to trap in the heat. It made things get real, real fast, which I kind of enjoy. I enjoy going into survival mode. And i learned something.

Priorities change when you're so cold. You can't be bothered by trivial things such as cleaning, homework, or "getting things done."

Your job now is simple:  GET WARM.  Priority #1.  We mostly stayed curled up on the couch under heaps of blankets and emerged only to heat up the rice sock or make some more hot chocolate. Layers and slippered feet were a must.  And let me tell you something, living in freezing temps makes you feel so productive because you're staying alive, and what's more productive than that?? I'm a survivor, man!

That lasted a couple of days and then we stayed at my mom's for the rest of the break because, despite all the fun, I didn't really want to freeze to my death and also i like to pretend I'm still on vacation when I'm at my mom's house. Turns out it was a blast because we are FUN. 

So, January, I give you an offering of our winter pics, thus far:

We got some crazy frozen death spikes on our roof. I mean really, when's the last time I saw for real icicles like this? So cool, but also, aaah?

And in the bushes as well:

We even went sledding down the "driveway"/ dirt hill. This is me willing my sled to keep going.

And went for a walk to the nearby creek. It is so weird to live here. So weird. 

Sean found this crazy ice sheet. They broke it off the top of the creek and underneath were all these crystals standing up on it. Frozen water is weird!

I made myself a snow chair. That's something I do love about playing in the snow. It creates as whole new world for you. It's so malleable, shapeable.  I made myself a chair! A chair in weeds I never would have cared to sit in, otherwise. You can't see it, but it's there!

Pretty creek

Friday, January 16, 2015


Every once in a while, when I start to think about the ingredients we might have, i get really excited about the prospect of making a sandwich.  My thought process is as follows:

Let's see, we have bread--check,
lunchmeat of some kind--check,
ooh, tomatoes!--check! [increasing excitement]
pickles! check!
and butter lettuce!-check!
Wait---AVOCADO(!!) Check!!!  

This happened the other day, and with that bubbling over sandwich excitement, I asked Sean if he wanted me to make him one. I told him all the things we had and started to get them out. One by one i listed all of the many delicious ingredients from which to choose and he thought a minute and said, "hmm... well, a cheese and mustard sandwich sounds good."


I know, right? What a waste!  Trying not to crestfall, I replied, "okie dokie, a Nothing Sandwich comin' right up!"  And that's what I made and that's what he ate and he never will know the Sandwich that Might Have Been. I would say that generally speaking, this is Sean's preferred sandwich. Again, I know

When I was young I used to have a favorite. And if it's my favorite then of course I would name it after myself. Its name was the Jen Deluxe. Basically it was a grilled cheese with tomato and mayo. Sounds boring but if you call it the Jen Deluxe, it is not

Having written this I'm feeling all sandwich daydreamy. And I'm curious:  What's your Dream Sandwich? If you could make any sandwich in the world with all the ingredients you'd ever want?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Typical January

Early this morning I had a whole string of delightful dreams, like I was playing this really weird instrument that no one else knew how to play. It was sort of a piano-that-wasn't-really-a-piano and it had been sitting in this family's old house for centuries until finally, one day, I came along and solved the mystery. I began to play it and the sound was so beautiful, people were actually weeping and hugging each other and it was glorious.  I'm pretty sure a famous person was involved but dang if I can't remember who it was. Someone good though. It was probably Stanley Tucci, as he seems to insist on showing up in my dreams. And, suddenly I'm reminded of this dream and am seeing a startling pattern here.

Another one was that i found a secret and seemingly limitless gummy bear dispenser in my own house and they were the best gummy bears you've ever tasted and I was like, I've struck GOLD!

And then I woke up with a back ache and a sick kid who puked while I was dropping off the kindergarten snacks for the week in the slushiest, grossest rain you can imagine.  It could be snain (snow + rain) or snush (snow + slush) but since it was rain on top of existing snow,  i guess this time it was slain.

It's so sad to sit with him while his guts have turned on him. I am desperate to distract him so first I start with puking tales of my own. "This one time..." And then the pain increases and it gets more and more urgent and I find myself frantically grabbing any and every book in sight from which to read something, anything interesting. "Here, listen to this! The housefly tastes with its FEET which are 10,000,000 times more sensitive than the human tongue!"  Since he threw up 30 seconds later, I consider it a success that he paused mid-groan with eyes closed to say, "wow, tastes with its feet?"   Poor thing.

And then it came time to carefully select a sick movie. It had to be done with care because I didn't want him to make some sad association of being sick with the movie, thereby tainting the movie forever.  But I wanted to watch something really cheery that might ultimately win over the pukes. At one point I spotted The Dark Crystal but, unsure he was ready, hit play to only test the waters. Sure enough, he wasn't quite there yet and I wasn't going to force it. All in good time with that one. All in good time.

So I chose Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and I believe we were successful. It was perfect, kind of like how Jurassic Park is my best [sick] movie.  And man, that movie really holds up.  Kids the size of bugs? Eating a giant oreo? Sleeping in a lego? Stuff of dreams. And now my stomach is churning and spinning but so far I'm ok and you know, the day could really be much worse.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas!

(In case you want to exchange for something you really want)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas

Here we are, on the eve of Christmas. I am a religious person but I never can quite seem to find the way to express that on my blog. I feel like I do, but in subtle ways, congruous with the tone and feel of the place. When I first started ye olde blog, I learned some things. One was that I didn't want to share everything. It wasn't a confessional. I also didn't feel super comfortable when divulging all my secrets even though I'm generally a pretty open person. But I wanted to establish a somewhat specific tone for my blog which could be labeled as "strange," or, "unique" or, "trying to be funny."

The other day my mom and I were chatting about being online and she was telling me how someone was sort of expressing frustration to her (this story is off to a great start) how everyone paints themselves in the best light online, that they never share the real stuff or the sad stuff.  It's all, oh my life is perfect, and so beautiful all the time, look at all the fun I'm having, etc.  I responded saying that the idea that anyone would expect your online persona to be real or at least complete is flawed.  It's not going to happen. It negates the very nature of the internets. I think it's fine to choose to paint yourself in a certain light (and along with the "my life is amazing!" type of people, there are plenty of "my life is horrible" people as well).  The fault, in my opinion, lies with the person who believes the things they read and makes false deductions or inferences based on it. Worse still, when they choose to compare or hold themselves and their own lives to these false interpretations. When the internet was invented, no one ever said, "now remember, rule number one: be your FULL self, all of the time, in all ways. Share and divulge everything, no matter the audience."  That's just silly. Even in situations when you're interacting with other humans, you're not going to be your complete self. You have your professional/work self, your church self, etc.  This is not to say that we shouldn't strive to be authentic in all situations but we adjust and filter and that is fine. But in terms of the internet, it wasn't even cool to use your real name in your email address. You had to come up with a clever moniker.  This is why I feel it is completely pointless to engage in any kind of commenting that will stir up controversy or agitate in any way. Nothing good can come of it. You will never accomplish what you hope to. Ever. But that is a post or ten for another day.

This isn't even what i sat down to say. What i was going to do is make a list of things that put me in and out of the Christmas Spirit and I began the way I did to explain that yes, there are far more important things that put me in the actual Christmas spirit, but the little frivolous things help too. And this blog is nothing if not frivolous.

Not to be a Scrooge but the thing that sparked this was that I'm busy cooking and baking things today for a big family thing and have some Christmas music on. Every so often i make the mistake of selecting "today's christmas radio" station on Pandora-- for me, with the exception of Manheim Steamroller, it's usually go Bing or go home.  I mean, how much Buble can a person take?! And even though I would thumbs down it time and again, Pandora persists to say, ahhh c'mon, give them a chance, continuing to play an a'cappella group called Pentonix which makes me rage like a thousand Grinches. So let's see how far i get with these lists:

Spirit Suck

 A'cappella groups.  I hate them. I hate them with such a fiery passion, they make my very veins roar with boiling fury.  It didn't start out this way. I didn't love them in the beginning but I didn't know how I felt. But something did rub me the wrong way and the more I hear them the more it is decided that if I could, i'd abolish them ALL.  It's not that I dislike music without instrumentation. It's that I don't believe voices should replace instruments. Sing without instruments, fine, but stop with all the dissonant harmonic nonsense, trying to sound like instruments.   Find some people to play for you and focus your vocal talents in a way they should be used. So when I hear Christmas songs sung in this manner, I want to throw daggers.

Spirit Swell
I've decided to offer an opposing item to balance things out. As mentioned, Bing Crosby equates Christmas. Even better is when he riffs for a while. Am I using that right? What does it mean when a singer chit-chats for a minute before singing? My favorite is when he's about to sing The First Noel and says something like, "sing along with me now. If you don't know the words, then hum along, tap your foot, do something!"  And then this slow song starts. That's a toe-tapper, alright.  Makes me laugh every time. Every. Time.

Spirit Suck

I'm going to continue the music category. And another thing-- all these modern, made up Christmas songs. What's that about? Some are ok but enough is enough! Sean really loves Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart, But the Very Next Day You Gave it Away.  (I don't know the title so I just kept going.)  I don't know how I feel about it. It might be catchy but does it feel like Christmas? i just don't know. Maybe give it 30 more years.  Or have Bing sing it.

Spirit Swell

Watching A Christmas Story. This isn't new but it's been a long time since i've seen it because I think i used to every year and I felt like i was done. Well, it's awesome. I don't know if it's because I grew up watching it, grew up listening to my parents' Christmas stories which are around this time period, or if that's just actually what Christmas should be.  I love everything-- the bully moment (speaks to my heart), the dream of writing the world's best theme and your teacher being in love with it. I've definitely had that one.   The little family things like the washing your mouth out with soap, which my mom used to say but never did, and how his mom hadn't had  a warm meal in 15 years.  It's all good. It makes me feel very Christmassy.  

Spirit Suck

Going to the mall at the end of it all.  It's fun at first. Who doesn't love the mall and all the decor?   But at the end it's a real killjoy.

Spirit Swell

Attending the Lower Lights concert.  My pal Dom is a part of this big hodgepodge group of singers and musicians and they have such a fun folksy spin.  I've been wanting to go every year and always missed it so this year Brooke and I went. It was de-lightful. So much fun and variety and talent. We also saw Mitt Romney dance which was just... words cannot express. It was a true gift of Christmas.

Another Spirit Swell

Christmas attire.  I am ALL for it.  One of my dreams is to have an ugly Christmas sweater-making party. But nowadays, I don't even know what makes a Christmas sweater ugly. To me they are beautiful.  I just really love them, and not ironically.   I have a few what I would call Christmas sweaters. They have been on constant and perpetual rotation since Dec. 1.  So let's get excited for a slideshow of a bunch of Jens in sweaters.

I found this in the mall in one of those cheap teen clothing stores that I somehow can't resist. But can you blame??


It's a vest-on-sweater! My niece asked me why there were pauses on it. Took me a decade to realize she meant the black "buttons." Heh heh. Made me smile.  

Here's another of the same sweater. I guess I love this sweater so much because when I was absentmindedly naming this pic when emailing it to myself I called it "Sweater and Sean."  I don't even see me; I only see the sweater.  But Sean's shirt is awesome. We made them earlier this year and I am pleased.

This next one was given to me by one who knows the very soul of me.

I love this red sweater. Too bad I had to taint the sweater joy by wearing it to the DENTIST. Amazingly I had one filling and was in and out in 30 minutes. It's a dental Christmas miracle. Probably because of the sweater.

This year I baked a million sugar cookies for a bunch of youths to decorate. I have several Christmas cutters but when my eyes gazed upon the sweater cutter, I had to have.

I'm pretty sure I've posted this pic. I love this sweater. Fair Isle 4 Ever!

More Christmas Swell

The theme this year has been Country Christmas. I have decided to seize this. I've dreamed of it for years and now we're living it.  We live in a tiny cottage in the woods and occasionally come over the dirt road to find deer romping about. Because that's normal. It's normal now. 

We decorated mini gingerbread houses.  Sean took one for the team and sacrificed his artistry to help a young child.  I worked on one house, became dissatisfied, then worked on another and felt better about it. That one is the church on the left.  Another dream of mine is to decorate gingerbread houses with an unlimited supply of frosting and peace and quiet. Just cover the whole thing with frosting snow, with embellishments of candy. Maybe I need to take a class or something.

Happy Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ohhhh Fuuuudge

Every year, my sisters get together and bake up a Christmas storm of fancy and pretty cookies.  This year Sean was a participant and we were able to contribute to this cookie fest.

My mom made the fudge blob. She is Queen of Fudge.

Ash made Gingerdoodles, a combo of ginger snaps and snicker doodles--Christmas dream come true!

She also made some florentines, this super thin lace cookie with chocolate drizzled on top.

Stephanie made raspberry macaroons. So tiny and adorable.

Sean and I made candy cane cookies and cookie dough truffle balls.  The truffle balls required the candy melts which are gross x 1,000 but so fun to decorate.  The candy cane dough was so melty soft that only Sean and his wizard tricks could work it into a twist. 

I would have liked to get pictures of all of us baking and working and decorating, wearing various aprons of various sizes.  But I didn't. As usual though, Ash got a pic of the final plate.  First Sean and then I a few minutes later, came in, saw what she was doing, and were like, uhhh that's not the right way to wrap a present. Also, really? Wrapping a plate of cookies?  Won't that be just a little bit of a disaster?  But no. It was for the pic. We all had a good laugh and then oo'ed and ahh'ed.

Here it is!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Life 'n Things

I am on this great and relatively new path of parenthood.  When I think of my life in terms of adult years, five is nothing. What's five piddly years? Four years ago i was 29. I looked about the same and I was enjoying the same things I enjoy now. I don't think I grew any inches (at least vertically--HAHA. Adulthood jokes = hilarious).   But when I think of it in kid years, five is everything.  For a child, five years is exponential. I'm not even going to even go into it because seriously-- WTFudge.   But anyway, the lessons I've learned, too, are of a ridiculous nature and breadth.  Lessons about how to be, how to do, how to live, how to view. Everything's changed, and I'm forever grateful.   Today I thought I'd share just a couple of examples of how my life is different from having a kid in ways I did not expect, and other thoughts of randomness. 

One thing is I don't really care about cleaning up messes.  Some messes, sure. And this is partly due to my personality; i'm not really a neat freak. But when I wander through the house during school I actually enjoy shuffling the stuffed animals over or cozying up to small person clothes or parking the plane next to the bus so I can use the surface.  Because I have a rapidly growing, ever-changing kid and since he's my one and only, he has 100% of my mom focus.  I don't plan for my future very much because it's completely unknown to me.  I do plan for possibilities of things though, and frankly speaking, he may end up being my one and only. I'm ok with that. I think this allots me a certain ability to focus very much on the here and now. I'll only have one chance with a 2-year-old (waah), a 3-year-old (sniff), a 4-year-old (please stay this forever), and now a 5-year-old (what did i just say??) I have to cling to everything even though it maddeningly slips through my fingers every time.

So, i love his toys around me. I know that i will pathetically but heartbreakingly miss them when he doesn't play with stuffed animals anymore.  They mean so much to him and so do they to me.  And I like having a visual of our life-- the messes, the blocks, the cars.   Of course i can't live in squalor and at the end of the day we must clean up so we don't all step on legos and die. Back when Sean came home from work, he would immediately spring into clean-up mode, tossing Julian's things into order and I would tell him to stop and wait. Just sit in it a bit.  Because I love his little footprint left all over my house.  This kind of thinking leads me to ponder on myself and what kind of footprint I'm leaving behind in the world. But that's a post for another day.

Something else I've noticed is I'm a better singer than I was before.  (sounds like a brag. Reminds me of a favorite joke phrase-- "you know what I like about me?")  But it is true.  Now, I'm not a great singer. I wouldn't even say I'm a good singer. But I can see a clear difference, that I am now, in fact, a better singer than I was before. I can hit the higher notes, I have better range (what I just said) and I think the quality is even a bit better. I just sound... I don't know... more practiced.  How do i measure this? I don't know. I can't.  Have I sung Julian lullabies every night since he was a baby and marked my progress? No.  Do he and I sing alternate phrases of Video Killed the Radio Star  in the shower? Do I print out the words to the annoying theme song in the creepy Tom Hanks Polar Express movie and try to learn them because it's Julian's favorite and is desperate to learn the words? Yes, and yes.   I've always sort of loved to sing, in my way, but not as much as in recent times. I definitely attribute this to the birth of the boy.

Since having a child has crushingly brought to my attention that the years are fleeting, I've been desperate to understand and execute the concept of living in the moment.  Sometimes when I read through my journal I pause on particular moments of time, any moment of time, years ago. There were hard times scattered throughout, sure, but I yearn so painfully to go back there. It's the yearning that gets me. From this I deduce that even during those hard times, it must have been because I actually was happy, I just didn't know I was. And if that's true, then how many other happy moments am I not fully recognizing and appreciating in my day-to-day? Moments i am letting slip by or refusing to even see?  Moments I am sure to look back on fondly, if only because they were fleeting and I'll never get them back. But I don't want to live unconsciously! I don't want to miss things or let my stubbornness during a critical moment curb the possibility of what happy thing might have been even amidst the crappy stuff. This makes me think about the now and to choose to be happy so that one day i can look back and be like, man, those were some good times, and I knew it when i had it. To constantly live in a state of nowstalgia.  Doesn't that sound pretty good?

Oh, life.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Joel Wins the World

Since Joel was the only one to comment, he gets his own celebratory blog post title.  Thanks for your contribution, Joel. Way to use your word power.  Let's see how they work out, shall we?

Our Christmas Madlib is titled:

Toys For the Kids

Today's parents buy very smoldering toys for their little cabbage moths. Fifty years ago, children got inappropriate electric trains or baby dolls that said, "booyakashaa!" when you squeezed them.  Now children only want electronic jello molds.  Even  4 1/2-year-olds know how to broil a computer.  Or a jack-o-lantern processor.  Kids want remote-controlled electrons.  Or tiny robot monsters that can blow up your meringue or take your okapi prisoner.  Everything has to have a silicon parade in it and be operated by a nine-volt sausage casing. By the year 2010, all American children will probably want to have their 
own misanthropic space shuttle and swollen robot 
playmate manufactured by General Motors.  In fact, by that time, maybe children will be manufactured by a grotesque assembly line and operated by nine-volt parasitic worms.

Pretty great.  This one took kind of a depressing and super gross turn. My favorite part is probably the inappropriate electric trains (what would that be??) and remote-controlled electrons sounds like it would be amazing. Kind of boggles the mind. I think you're onto something here, Joel.   Yay, madlibs!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Mad Lib

Because a love of Mad Libs has been engrained into my being, let's do a Christmasy one, shall we? I'll rely on you to provide the words. I'll choose the best ones and insert them in, so give me something good.  Here are some tips when doing mad libs:

Use extra descriptive words. Vivid. Gangly, snake-like, pulsating, for example would all probably be excellent.  Any toilet-related words are also acceptable and recommended. Gross = good. Be creative! 

Feel free to give me one word, a few words, all the words.

10. NOUN
12. NOUN
13. NOUN

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Bentley Snowflake

Some time ago, Sean told me about this guy, Wilson Bentley, who was a farmer in Pennsylvania or something and in the off season, took to photographing snowflakes. They're called Bentley Snowflakes and I am in love. These things are just magic.   I stare at them and I feel like I'm under some kind of strange, jarringly beautiful spell cast by that bewitching sorceress Mother Nature herself.  And I can't look away. I simply cannot look away.

The seasons are a big part of my life and who I am. I feel very connected to them and because of this, I feel like if i were to ever have a place to decorate, I would have seasonal artwork to reflect what's going on outside my house and in my soul. And just rotate it throughout the year. And all this winter I would have these sparkling little glories plastered on my walls so i could look at them all day every day and let their complex magic calm me from the inside out.  They are all so different, so staggeringly intricate, and yet each one is perfect. They are nature at its most stunning, and, in my opinion,  do a bit to bridge that so-called gap between inexplicable science and religion. Because why should there exist something so beautiful? Why? 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tidings of Comfort and Joins

Jen: Hey Julian, what's a join?

Julian: It's just a part of the song.

Jen: but what does it mean?

Julian: nothing, it's just a part of the song

Jen: well what are tidings?

julian: oh you know, it's kind of a church song, a church christmas song. You know, tithings.

Jen realizes he was saying tithings--ha ha!

Julian continues singing... tithings and comfort and joints. over and over and over.

Jen: Wait, is it joins or joints?

Julian: Either one is fine.   

And it's true, he does alternate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wreath Witherspoon

The best thing to come out of the recent Mindy Kaling Project episode, which has sadly been on a steady decline. And yes, I took a pic of the TV--what.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Journal of Christmas Past

This is probably so insanely boring for others to read but I just can't help myself.  I've now taken it from celebrating my journalversary with my journal in my journal to celebrating it on my blog for actual humans to read and experience.  Reading old blips from someone's journal might be the last thing you want to do today.  But I've put 9+ years of myself on this thing. I don't know who reads it, who's read it but has since left, who's just read bits and pieces here and there, but it soothes my soul to know that part of me is out there. Just as with my journal. When I die I'll know I'll have left a stamp of some kind, good or bad.  Blogs are dumb; i know this.  But I love mine. I love my ugly dumb blog. And I love my journal. So it makes sense that they should be friends.

So in the spirit of Christmas, journals, and blogs, or Christmournogs (-- i feel weird) ...orrrr... blournmas...journogmas, (--winner) let's read about Christmases of Jen's past. Maybe I'll include my current thoughts in a festive color.  If only I could share those of the future and write my own little Christmas Carol.  Maybe I will anyway? Predict next year's Christmas? Challenge thought of, considered, and accepted.  Stay tuned.

Dec. 16, 1993
I think I'm really getting into the Christmas spirit. All the lights and music and decorations. Yes, I love it all.  I really like playing my own Christmas music on the piano just as long as nobody is there watching me.  I really hate that.  It makes me feel stupid.  I want Christmas to come, but I don't, you know? 
Just wanted to remind everyone I am thirteen at this moment. It's also the birth of the journal.
Dec. 17, 1993
OK. In PE, we took a bowling test which I did bad on because I didn't know how to score. I wasn't listening when the guy came and talked to us. Then, in English we continued reading the Christmas Carol and we took a quiz on it at the end which I missed one on. 

--hahahaha! Bowling in P.E.!! hahaha...  Also, wow, really? Didn't know how to score? :/  Looks like I could have studied harder at bowling (Hahahaa). Also, Christmas Carol(! weird!)

Dec. 18, 1993 
(I'm sorry, I can't seem to be able to move on from this year. So many goodies)
I was in a play this month called "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." I was a fireman and stagecrew.(well, not the whole stage crew. I was just on it.)  It was really fun.  
It was really fun! I wish I'd auditioned to be in more plays back in the day... 

Dec. 17, 1994 
Oh. Wait. Just kidding! Heh heh! Yesterday was the [journal] anniversary. Oh, well. We have quite a large Christmas tree. But then again, don't we always?
            Guess what! I missed one on my math test!! HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  IT'S A MIRACLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8th and 9th grade were both bummer years for math so I have counted and each and every one of those exclamation points is warranted and necessary, if I only missed one on a math test. 

Dec. 26, 1994
We had a great Christmas. Since it was on a Sunday this year, we opened our presents after church. I played the flute with Mom and Steph accompanying me on the organ and the piano. We played Chip Davis' version of "Still, Still, Still" and "O Holy Night."  It was not the greatest experience of my life. I messed up about 5 million times. After church we opened our presents.  I got a nice watch, a shirt and vest, Levis, a flannel shirt, a sweatshirt, pajamas, comfy slippers, a bathrobe, 2 necklaces, a bracelet, a jewelry box, candy, Tic Tacs, (yes!) socks, an extremely cool leather jacket!! 

I highlighted specific gifts because they just make me laugh. a) VEST. You know it was one of those fancy silky vests. Jessie illustrates. I'm thinking the one on the far right in the middle row:

b)  flannel shirt--YES! 90's-tastic! Was undoubtedly at least two good sizes too big. And then the slippers which I wore all through 8th and 9th grade. To school. With my white warm-up pants. RIP, you guys. Best slips of my life.  This journal entry also documents my addiction to orange tic tacs. Even now, every once in a while i'll have one and be like, ah yeah.. these are good. 

Dec. 28, 1996
Ah, how I love vacation. It is so great. I had a lovely Christmas. I got a heap of clothes, (including overalls. Yea!) A heap of earrings, and about 5 cd's. I got all of the Enya cd's. Yea!! I was so happy. I love Enya. Oh, yeah. I also got a watch. It has indiglo! Woo! Which reminds me. I have to go put it on. Just sec. OK. I'm back. I also got the Cranberries cd with When You're Gone on it. Shad gave me the tape (of Cranberries) with Dreams and Linger. Yea! 

 Oh. Man. let this be a testament to the value of including a list of your Christmas gifts in your journal. What a bizarre and lovely time capsule. OVERALLS.  Outstanding. Enya! Oh wow, I loved Enya so much. Indiglo watch-- remember when you pushed a button and your watch glowed?? And it was dark and you'd be like, excuse me, i need to see the time, and exaggeratingly stretch out your arms, thumb, and forefinger to display that eerie and beautiful green glow.  Let's not forget those excellent Cranberries CDs. So good. Oops wait, one of them was a tape.

 Dec. 7, 1997
Dave asked me to the Christmas dance! How fun!!   I came home one night and there were pennies all over my floor of my room. There was a note that said something like, 'deck your room with many pennies, falalalalalalalala,   Will you go to the dance with me? Fa la, etc. Look on the pennies, you will find fa la la, the missing letters, something something, fa la la. (I don't remember) anyway, the letters to the name were on the pennies so I had to search and search. Finally I found them.

1. Oh the lengths people would go when asking someone to a dance. and 2) that's kind of fun and clever, actually. Good one, Dave. 

Dec. 25, 1997 
Ah, Christmas. A lovely day. I am currently listening to my new excellent CD, the soundtrack to Star Trek First Contact. It is good. Mmm... I wanted this. ... I also got socks, 3 sweaters, a silky shirt and silky skirt, a black jumper, corduroy pants, and a lap desk thing (it's a plastic board with a cushion on the other side) so I can do my homework on the couch. 

Get this: I STILL have that lap desk. It is awesome and oh-so handy. 

Dec. 27, 1997
A few days ago, Amy, Brooke, and I went to the P.G. theater and saw Titanic. Very good, but very sad. It is so sad how all the people died. Did you know that 700 out of 2200 people survived? That's so sad. And it could have been prevented! If only the stupid people had made more life boats! Aarrghh! It makes me mad, but I guess there's nothing I can do.  

I just feel like I should include any and all references to Titanic, movie or real event.  This whole thing makes me giggle, especially that last line.  

Dec. 16, 1998
I am, of course, freaking excited to go home. Who isn’t? Me and Michelle decided that they should have finals at the beginning of the semester instead at the end, cuz that way, we will have just started school and we wouldn’t be quite sick of it yet, see. Plus, they have finals right before Christmas and that’s just not good cuz it makes us excited for the break and not care about the tests. But, I probably wouldn’t care about them anyway. Ha.
Aside from the fact that I'm in college and saying "cuz" a hundred times, let's talk for a minute about how taking your final final before Christmas break is literally THE best feeling in all the world. I think about it every year. Something deep inside my stirs and I try to get it back, just a flicker of that feeling, just for a second. THE BEST. Seriously, is there anything better?  I mean, giving birth....? Final final before Christmas....?  Ooooh it's hard. it's hard. (picture me weighing these out on my hands) Also, let's pay tribute to my mom who gave me the most amazing finals box ever, also something I still think/dream about. 

Yesterday, Mom brought me this big box of goooood stuff!  There was a loaf of raspberry swirl bread, cottage cheese, little pudding stuff, chocolate, V8 Splash (which I love) more food, little snacks, and more food still. Oh. AND a pomegranate! I was like, does my mom love me or does she love me! It was cool. 

Thanks, Mom. 

Dec. 24, 1998[talking about Christmas gifts I got for people] Oh, and when I got the 3 earrings, I also got free lip smacker, so I’m givin’ that to Ash. It’s hud-flavored, but she seems to like that stuff. :) Bleh. 

Hahahaha! Meeerry Christmas, beloved younger sister of mine. I always suspected I had a generous heart; this journal entry proves it. 

January 3, 2002
We played tons of games and saw tons of movies. Ahhh. :) Lord of the Rings was SO GOOD! I loved it! I need to see it again, stat.  Man... that is my kind of movie. Christmas was great.  I got some good stuff. I got my red coat! (Yeah!) And I got a hot chocolate maker! Woohoo!

a) when Lord of the Rings came out, it was the same time as Harry Potter. I remember the hubbub about both movies and discussions regarding which one would be bigger. I was convinced and argued vehemently that it would be Harry Potter because, it's Harry Potter! Isn't that funny? I didn't realize then that HP movies would turn out to be poop and that instead a seed of deep everlasting love for LOTR would be planted. It just shows how naive I was at 21, you know?

b) My hot chocolate maker is still with me and I love it as much as ever. Cocomotion, never say die! This thing is a dream. It makes hot chocolate so perfectly. Perfect temperature, perfect froth. 

December 25, 2002 7:17 pm
            Meeerry Christmas!  (Ok, I just saw I typed up there.)  Well, it’s been a great day. I know the holiday isn’t defined by what we get, but it’s still fun, right? So here’s what I got. First of all, I don’t think I ever told you I wanted a pet snake. But I did. (do.)  I think it would be the coolest pet! He stays in a tank but you can pull him out and play with him. And, you can watch him eat rats! I think that would be the coolest. So I told Mom I wanted one for Christmas but she and Dad were like “heck no!”  Not that I’d really expect to get one, but still.  So this morning I run upstairs and the first thing I see is a pile of presents with no one sitting by it (so that must be for me, I think) AND a cool loooong stuffed snake!!!  It was like when you’re a kid and you see something you really like or wanted and your eyes get all big and you’re super excited. I haven’t felt like that FOREVER!  I ran in and said “Is that my pet snake??” and leaped on the couch.  Ohhh I love him. Mom made him for me! He’s seriously 10 feet long (we measured) and he has buttons for eyes and a red felt tongue. And, the material is this giraffe print. So funny. I LOVE it.  Mom rules!  I carry him around all the time and snuggle up to him. Oh, after some contemplation I named him Snakey McSlither.  Ha ha. Oh, you love it! 

Oh man, this makes me sound like a freak. Especially because I was 22.  Sean has oft mentioned that there are so many stories i tell that lead him to believe i was a child and, turns out, i was in my 20's or something. My response was always like, whatever! I'm young at heart, man!  Buuuut after reading this one, I'm thinking it's just kind of weird.   But still cool. My mom made me a pet snake. And I did eventually grow up and do adult things, just so you know. This time next year I would be all married (and missing my pet snake) so see? I grew up. 

I think I'll end here because this thing is hecka long and i feel like it is less fun the older I get (waah, that statement sucks).  But you know, nothing beats reading your words as a 14-year-old.  And hey, I've gotta have something for next year's journalversary.  So let's all look forward to that.  Happy anniversary, journal. 21 years, you beauty.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Conceptual Christmas

Julian hasn't taken to drawing for much of his short squirty life. He's never been much into crafts either but he's getting more into both these days.  The first time he really sat down with me and worked on a project was when I showed him a book of mazes. He LOVED them and was kind of freakishly good at them.  So I feel like that shows he's got some kind of brain for something or other.  Don't you think?  Additionally, and this makes my heart burst with so much pride, he has a particular affinity for maps.  Whenever we'd go to the Botanic Gardens he would stop at the maps and find where we were and where we wanted to be.  In fact, I have a picture of him intently examining a map of Disneyland when we were there this summer, something I had meant to blog about but never did.

He also has a weirdly strong...uhh.. "horse sense," which Sean claims is a real thing, and because I can't think of anything better. He remembers places and can navigate his way there pretty easily, if he were to try, I would think.  This was evident when he was-I swear-barely starting to talk and we were driving somewhere and he shouted something out about that time we had been there months and months ago. 
During his preschool days all his pictures were unrecognizable until he told you what they were, which were maps of some kind or instructions for a new invention.  Which explains why it wasn't obvious at first-- it hasn't been invented yet!

So he's got an analytical, methodical way about him, I guess you could say. It's about form, structure. Logic. Function. He sees no reason to fill in the shapes or objects he's to color, he just puts a dab of crayon in the spot and calls it good. Why color in the WHOLE shape? you know? He sees no reason to continue. Or maybe just doesn't have the time.

When I asked him to draw me a Christmas tree, I had to laugh but then ponder. a) what's happening inside that brain? and b) it's kind of beautiful, actually, in its orderliness.

Tree boughs, check. Ornaments, check (TWO rows, in fact).  Star on top, check.  Everything's there! Done and done.  I was chatting with Sean about this and I asked him if there was a certain movement of art like this and artists involved.  He told me the movement is minimalism, which makes sense.  He gave me artist names like Carl Andre and Sol Lewitt and described them as schematic, like a blueprint. Meant to convey an idea more than an object or image, which is again, very applicable to Julian's work. He's often showing me maps or a sequence of events. It isn't just images sitting there, it's something going on. First the pirate ship went here, and then this happened, and then it went all around over to here where this happened.  There's action. His art gives instruction for something else.  As Sean said, he's basically a conceptual artist.  And he's giving me a lot to think about.  I think I'll just sit and look at this Christmas tree for a while. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December Sky

People demandingly (-- not sure about that one) complain about the lack of snow, a concept I find extremely bizarre and a bit Twilight Zone-y,  but I sit with an eerie, faraway smile on my face, knowing that I'll never have to endure another NY winter.  It feels like such sweet bliss.  The cold and the snow will come to Utah, but it will never again be like an NYC winter.  Never. Again. I'm grateful to have known such pain and misery so that I might experience true joy, but nevertheless.  It is over. It is done.

Man, something I just love is a moody sky. Dark, billowy clouds. Grays and purples. So much more beautiful to me than a bright and sunny blue sky'ed day.   I feel like I can't see anything on those days, like everything is over-exposed.Anyway, on an overcast, darkly billow-clouded day, I feel like the world comes alive and so does my heart, and finally I can truly see. And I do love it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12/13/14 15:16:17

Someone on Facebook was all, "12/13/14 at 15:16:17 seconds on Saturday, you guys!"  Or something.  So I decided to set an alarm on my phone to take a picture of what we were doing at exactly 3:16:17 today, Dec. 13.  Turns out it was pretty uneventful, but still worth mentioning.  We've been living in my hometown for 4.5 months and still, all I want to do is just hang out at my parents'.  It is the BEST. I've told you that one of the reasons why I wanted to come back was that I was afraid I was completely forgetting my childhood, right?  And being back, I've felt things slowly trickle in. I just want to be around people who were around then and wait for my brain to make some memory synapses or some other brain word.  I feel so relieved that it could still be in there, it just needs a good jog.

Anyway, here is what we're doing today on this blustery rainy day. Happy 12/13/14 15:16:17.


My mom dug up a piece of sheet music meant for four sets of hands and one piano. All I can say about this is GOOD. TIMES.

It was so funny, so much giggling.  At some parts our fingers were scratching each others', one hitting a key the other just left.  It was pretty magical.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Merry Muffins

Today a sprinkle of magic Christmas dust befell me and I made delicious muffins.  Since I am often attempting to replace this with that and cut back on that, often they are, how you say, guh-ROSS. Dang that looks like Ross.  But today we experienced a Christmas miracle because they actually turned out. I can't explain it.

One time I was marveling at a particularly not good batch.  They didn't taste like poison per se, like something that should never be consumed.  But it does sort of make you question it.  I was bemoaning them but sort of in an analytical way, like, what are these muffins? It's sustenance, like I know what's in them and you can live off of that, but sooo bad.  "Disgusting" was my word. Then Sean came up with an even better one: Disgustenance:  Food, but at what cost?   Which delighted me. Whenever you make something gross that will, however, keep you alive, use this word.

I immediately made new muffins after that that were so sweet I could not partake but they were excellent.  Guess that's why people should follow recipes or something.

WELL.  This morning I found this weirdo muffin recipe on my bag of wheat bran and it was like "2 cups of bran, 2 cups of wheat flour, 3 tsps of gross, 0 cups of something good, half of what you should put in it, etc."  So I made some alterations but in a flippant, non-measurey kind of way, as I do, and which strangely makes it turn out weird! I know.  But here's what happened:

1.  Called for wheat flour. Since i was already adding wheat bran i was like, do i want to make everybody cry? Goodness. So i opted for white flour instead.

2. But, as i pretty much always do with any recipe using flour, i substitute some of it for almond meal which I love but is NOT an equal flour replacement so I'm always guessing there.

3. Replaced the called-for raisins with cranberries because, again, it's Christmas. And then I was like, oooh, cinnamon! And just sprinkled some in the batter because I'm pretty good at eyeballing individual granules.

4. Read that there was NO SALT and added some, post haste. Why do people think that's EVER a good idea?  If you make muffins or a sweet treat with no salt then you might as well pull it out of the oven right into your trash can. What a waste.  Kind of makes me mad. I mean, how dare you?

5. When it was time to mix the bowl of wet stuff, i pulled it all out on the counter near the fridge. Exhausted from walking back and forth to the ingredients area to my work area, I tried to carry it all in one haul.  I had had an epiphany when i got to the milk portion and thought, don't you mean Christmas milk?? which, of course, is milk + eggnog.  So i grabbed that.  In my excitement about this idea, i enthusiastically snatched an egg out of the carton only to have it fly through the air and splat on the floor. It was strangely satisfying to witness, but not so much to clean. I wasn't sure about the eggnog because it's something good, but should it necessarily be baked into something? I wasn't sure.

6. As I was substituting the nog, instead of measuring I just poured it in because, again, I'm really good at eyeballing*.  I tell myself, ah, i'll just add more milk in the end if it's dry.

*not really true. I just think you can't take risks like that with baking, yet I always. do. 

7. Instead of molasses (eww) like the recipe called for, chose brown sugar instead. But who knows if the measurements were the same? What did other muffin recipes call for in terms of the sugar? I remembered nothing. But I used the same amount.  And then at the very end when i was mixing it all up, I thought back to the disgustenance muffins and thought, juuuuust a bit more sugar. so I tossed in some more blobs of brown sugar, well after things should be all blended.

8. It was pretty sticky when i was done and felt too lazy to add more milk, so i just went with it and filled the cups. I also sort of forgot about my vow to add more milk.

9. I also set the timer for 7 minutes shorter than it called for because who in the hey knew?

When the timer went off, they were ready.  And so good! What the? The craisins were chewy, the muffin was dense with goodness (but not TOO good), you could taste the nog in a non-gross way, and those blobs of brown sugar? Oh MAN, there were little melted pockets of them all throughout the muffins. So good! Do this with all of your muffins! ALL of them! I think I just invented something amazing.

Anyway, i'm just pleased.  Also, am reminded of these excellent moments.   Merry Muffins!