Monday, October 16, 2017

Handsome Jen

This past Saturday I woke up early (awesome) and decided to go cozy up with myself downstairs in mine and the cat's favorite chair. I've recently begun printing my blog--at long painful last-- and I'm really excited about it. And feel a sense of relief. That's a lot of material to just leave hanging intangible in internet oblivion.  So I found a website that is easy, does everything for me, and is nothing fancy which is just what I was looking for.  I have to do it in intervals though because it's quite a bit of content there. So I do it by year.  I was reading 2009 and without comments or pictures (my pictures don't start to work until mid 2010) it's 92 pages. And what strikes me whenever I read back is how funny I think I was, compared to now, which then bums me out exceedingly. I still think I'm decently-humored, but I don't write like how I used to. And I miss it. Just slapping up stuff off the cuff, silly little nothings about my day. Random thoughts or things I'm noticing that I feel warrant my public commentary or that make the day mean a little more, stand out for a specific reason or two.  The general lightheartedness. And by gol, I think the world needs more of it. So I'd like to try to go back to my blogger roots. To see if I'm really not as stale as I feel. Yes I've grown but I'm wary of really growing UP, because I still laugh at what I wrote. I cringe at times as well, but the laughs outweigh the shudders. So I'm going to give it a try at least.

To start:

Since it's Monday and horrible things are happening in the world every time we wake up, it seems, I have a joyful little tidbit to share with you, brought to us by a gem of an app called Face App.  Get it today.  I first learned about it from my niece, naturally, and essentially you upload a pic of your face and have the option to see it altered to look old, female, male, and young. It's entertaining.  For example, here's one of me and... Jon? (not to be confused with my brother) Jeb? My mountain man alter-ego? Nah, this guy's too classy. He's definitely a Jameson. Jett? He could be a Jhett. J(h)ett, my hipster man alter-ego:   


What I'm seeing is they thinned his frames a bit (so he's cool but not TOO hipster), lengthened my face a bit, giving him a sliiightly more square'ish jaw (slightly, for my jaw is decent already), kept my nose the exact same, added some greys and scruff and then put a suit jacket on me/him??  Anyway, busts me up.  I feel like I know him from somewhere... it's a little disconcerting.

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Fall

Today's been the kind of day where clouds blanket the sky, yet the sun still somehow shines.  Like everything is under a giant spotlight.  It's cold and fall'ish and things are starting to creep out like Halloween décor and pumpkins and cider-scented candles. The trees are just making their debut (or grand finale?) The grass is still green, though, and my beautiful roses, my babies, are still hanging on like the champs they are, for though the frozen nights treat them terribly, the afternoon sun, which they directly receive, is a bit more kind. But every day I look at them and ask myself, for how long?   (I've recently learned my favorite flower is the rose. I always thought I'd go for something unusual and exotic but I guess there's a reason why they're the clichéd fave. I love them so much) 

Watching the earth slowly pass away gives me mixed feelings. I'm eager for change, but I kind of feel like I need to be paying my respects.  Fortunately fall is a spectacle so reverence turns to celebration, which I can get behind.

The other day Julian sat across the table from me and said this:

"Mom, now tell the truth: Is the tooth fairy not real? And instead it's YOU who leaves the money?"

I stared at him with thoughts of, hey, he's got to know sometime. Is now the time? Is 8 old enough? too old?  Also thinking that belief in the tooth fairy nowhere compares to that of Santa Claus (one that is still mightily held to, I might add) I mean, it's just the tooth fairy, right?  I replied, "do you REALLY want to know?"

He responded, "Yes, I do."

Me, still hesitating, "Well then yes. It is."

I sat staring at him and just for a split second-- if I'd blinked i'd have missed it-- I saw his face fall, and I realized that both of us reluctantly stood at the precipice of uncertain desires.   Did he really want to know? Did I really want to tell him? Even if he did sincerely want to know the truth, ought I give it to him? Or should I wait? Unwilling to accept, he asked again,

"Really? Are you for real? Tell the TRUTH."


Me, again, "do you REALLY want to know? For real?"

He said again, the tiiiniest fraction less sure,  "Yes, I really do."

And I said again, "Then yes, it's true."

And I saw that look again, an internal debate of whether or not he was prepared to reconcile this information with the things he knew and held to deep inside.  Yet again, he questioned,

"C'mon, Mom.  Is it true? Is it really not real?"


Not sure I had it in me to go it a third time I quietly asked again, "Julian, are you sure you want to know?"

And he quietly replied, "No, I guess I don't."

And my heart broke a little bit and I wanted to take back any notion of thought I'd ever had about growing up and facing reality or speaking plainly or anything of the kind.  As I sat surveying the situation, watching him clinging still to childhood I asked myself, but for how long. Finally I decided to say to him, "I've never seen the tooth fairy, have you?"   He said he hadn't.  I said, "But it doesn't mean the tooth fairy isn't real. Right?" He agreed. 

I feel like kids and parents eventually reach this "don't ask don't tell" point in their relationship. That maybe there's this in-between phase where maybe they no longer quite believe in a weird little fairy that collects children's teeth (ew, why is this a thing), but they believe in something. Something not quite equating their hope that their mom or dad will remember to dig up some change for them. I'm remembering how my sister, who's the youngest, would tell my mom she'd lost a tooth and my mom saying, "ok, go find some change in my purse."  Something tells me that's not quite the same, so no wonder they cling. They and us.

And that's where we left it. One last breath of hope hanging in the air, his childhood hung
in the balance, perched precariously at the edge of a cliff but for how long? At this point, who knows what one good gust might do.  


  p.s. I was looking through his first grade binder where I kept all the jewels from the year and found this, with my commentary at the bottom:



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

To Taste

As you may have gathered, cooking does not come naturally to me.  I don't have an instinct for it. Or maybe patience? I prefer to bake because it tells me exactly what I should do. I had a semi-big debate about this with a sunday school teacher a few weeks ago who was using baking as an analogy and how he always forgets to check it and burns everything and hates to bake. I told him to set a timer.  But yeah, it's basically the same ingredients, I use the same tools, and plus it's baked goods, which are delicious.

But cooking? No. Sean is much better than I. He can think of ingredients we might have and whip something up. If I were to do that i would boil two cups of salt and make a shepherd's pie trifle.*

*both of these are Friends references.

So when a recipe says, "season to taste" i'm like, alright. I can understand the need for more salt. Like, I know what that tastes like--blandness. I could never be like, "you know what this needs? More marjoram!  A dash of dill. Cream of tartar, for spice."   But I understand adding more of what they've already given me in the instructions.

However, I draw the line sometimes. I was trying to make eggs baked in avocados. They turned out ok-- I'm not sure if i'm in love with hot avocado (sounds like a song or band name. latin?) but I read this part of the recipe and, you guessed it, was shaking my head. Pay particular attention to Step #3.



 Yeah, ok. Gently crack in an egg, then dip your finger into the RAW EGG GOO and taste to see if it needs more seasoning.  Thank you, no!   You can't just add "to taste" in there willy nilly. Give me salmonella, for heaven's sake, not to mention make me break the yoke which, I might as well throw it in the trash.  Anyway, as I said, they were ok. I over-cooked them because some sillies in our house don't like runny eggs. I might try it again. Baked stuff in stuff is fun. 

The End.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Story of My Life

I have so many thoughts right now that I need to get out before they all completely disengage and float away.  I feel like they're barely tethered together as it is.  I just finished chatting with Sean about this book I'm reading which delves into science and fiction and the universe and, therefore (for me), religion, all the perfect combination to make me cry a little when I've come to an understanding, and it was all highly enriching and productive and I had to write it down.

The book is a novella called  Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang.  It was for a book club and the specific story assigned was Story of Your Life, which is the short story the movie Arrival was based on. I really liked Arrival. I thought it was strange and trippy and provoked thoughts that I wasn't sure I'd ever have the time or capacity to really explore. I felt like I'd watched something that my subconscious needed a bit more time with, and it stuck with me.  Ever since I saw the movie and since I've begun reading the story (which I never finished for the book club but instead read another shorter one I loved so much, I was compelled to go back) it's been on my mind and I revisit it often. I may be reading something else or listening to someone speak or observe the actions of others, catch a quote or idea, and somehow I am always tying it back to Story of Your Life which I'm still in the midst of reading. And it's kind of giving me a very cerebral, transcendental experience.

I feel like I should give a hopefully brief synopsis for some background. In the movie, and so far in the book (spoiler?)  a linguist is contacted by the government to learn how to communicate with aliens in an alien ship that has newly landed on earth along with several others in various spots on the planet.  They don't know where to begin, each species seemingly so different in the way they communicate, and they can't ask the questions they want to or deliver any kind of message.  So she has to find some way to cross this great divide and communicatively start from scratch, without any precedent or any kind of specific plan.  She meets a mathematician who's working alongside her and they share their efforts and attempts, bouncing ideas off one another. Both sides (alien and human) using various methods, she eventually learns how to speak using their language in the way she can, in a way they might understand in return.  She comes to the conclusion that the way they think and speak ideas is not linear, with a beginning and an end, but that each part is a whole and what these "sentences" look like is what she calls a semasiograph, a circular image with facets and nodules that, through learned interpretation, can all be understood simultaneously, it seems to me. 

As she learns this new language, images, like memories, begin flashing in her mind of her daughter. In the movie I think they begin really early on, like at the beginning of the movie.  The birth of her daughter, her growing up, all memories.  But in the present moment we see her living alone, no spouse, no child, so we're assuming they are gone from her, that something happened.  But as she learns the language and becomes more fluent, it seems that these images increase. Her teenage daughter's diagnosis, her ultimate death, the heartbreak.  And then we see scenes where she's having a "flashback" to when her middle school-age daughter, working on a school project, asks her for a certain word and the linguist mother can't remember it. She can't help her out.  The linguist in the present day that we see is sitting there seeing this, recalling this memory.  Then she's interacting with the man, the mathematician, and he says the word her daughter was/is/will be looking for and the linguist mother in that "memory," in that moment at home with her daughter, has the word come to mind and she says it to her daughter. These two points overlap as if occurring simultaneously and she is able to recall the word.

Well then, again, spoiler, at the end we see her realizing more and more that her life, these memories, are not in the past but in the future but that to her, they all feel like now.  She sees what will be and chooses things accordingly but the way she looks at them, how they feel, are memories she currently has.  In the book these same flashes happen and (the story being told in first person) she talks to her daughter who actually hasn't been born yet using phrases like "I remember seeing you at fourteen. You will be...."   And I just love this crazy concept and what it does to my sci-fi-loving brain.  Using words like "I remember" and "you will be" in the same breath. What's more, there's something that feels very cognitively familiar to me about all of this, like it's tapping into something that goes beyond us now but may be what actually is.

In the book she is fascinated with this new language she's learning and she describes it,

"Over time, the sentences I wrote grew shapelier, more cohesive.  I had reached the point where it worked better when I didn't think about it too much.  Instead of carefully trying to design a sentence before writing, I could simply begin putting down strokes immediately; my initial strokes almost always turned out to be compatible with an elegant rendition of what i was trying to say. I was developing a faculty like that of the heptapods [aliens] (p 126)."

She then thinks about language as inner thought.  The way we speak silently in our heads. She remembers doing a Russian immersion program that made her think and dream in Russian. Different language, but it was always spoken, it was always phonological, a voice in her head. "Different language, same mode: a voice speaking silently aloud."   She tells of a friend she had born of deaf parents.  He grew up using ASL and, "he told me he often thought in ASL instead of English.  I used to wonder what it was like to have one's thoughts be manually coded, to reason using an inner pair of hands instead of an inner voice."

Now, as a linguistics and inner thought-lover and one who is constantly in search of any new way to express oneself, this delights me exceedingly.  Speech and cognition and expression and enlightenment and understanding, shifts of understanding, shifts of methods of understanding, have always fascinated me.  I took a class in college called Sensation and Perception and I loved it. It was half full of psych majors (me) and half full of neuroscience majors which I now realize also could have been me. I'm just so into this stuff.

She goes on,

"As I grew more fluent, semagraphic designs would appear fully formed, articulating even complex ideas all at once.  My thought processes weren't moving any faster as a result, though.  Instead of racing forward, my mind hung balanced on the symmetry underlying the semagrams.  The semagrams seemed to be something more than language; they were almost like mandalas.  I found myself in a meditative state, contemplating the way in which premises and conclusions were interchangeable.  There was no direction inherent in the way propositions were connected, no 'train of thought' moving along a particular route; all the components in an act of reasoning were equally powerful, all having identical precedence."

This is the quote I wanted to read to Sean which ignited our discussion and my ensuing emotion-filled moment of enlightenment.  Sean, ever with me, shared his views of things he's read that relate.  I had to tell him some background a bit, how the linguist and mathematician were at dinner discussing Fermat's Principle, which of course Sean already knew something about. I told him i thought it was something to do with light refraction, that light has to take the quickest route? You know what, let's just find out the real thing.  Here it is:

Fermat's Principle: light travels between two points along the path that requires the least time, as compared to other nearby paths.

The linguist in the story was having trouble with it and asked the mathematician some questions and ultimately she thinks to herself, the ray of light has to know where it will ultimately end up before it can choose the direction to begin moving in.   

You can see how this would all connect with the language she's learning, the new abilities she's acquiring.  Sean offered some insight regarding quantum physics where (I really need to get him to come over here and explain it) wacky things happen that can't really be scientifically explained. Two points or quanta occurring simultaneously no matter where they are when they begin(?) Like time and space don't matter. He said Einstein called it "creepy" science.  I thought it was interesting and find myself, again, wishing I had a more scientifically-wired brain to grasp it as easily and as quickly as others do. But oh well, I guess that's why he's here. (This all sounds very sexist of me. "I need a man to explain it!" Ha ha. Again: oh well.  This time.)

I told him I felt like this is how things might really be, but for now in this existence, we live more linearly.  But why does it feel so familiar? So relevant to me now?  It seems evident as a real and a strong presence currently in my life in so many ways, so many important ways that are constantly on my mind.

One of them is Julian.  He's eight now and ever since he was born I've constantly thought about what I was going to do with his life. How mine would change, over time, in all the ways. How present I was going to be.  How aware would I make myself of what was happening.  I've already touched on my desperate goal of living in the moment for the past few years but I feel like this explains why.  Over and over I hear people talk about their children growing up, how fast it happens, how they mourn the end of the ______ phase or that one.  I feel it too, but I also have zeroed in on his being the only one and equating it with this being my only chance.   I love what she says up there about learning this new alien language. To requote:

"My thought processes weren't moving any faster as a result, though.  Instead of racing forward, my mind hung balanced on the symmetry underlying the semagrams."

I look at my life as a semagram, at the present. A single sentence made up of all its parts simultaneously.  Sean and I both agreed that though it seemed that the future and the past were more simultaneously felt and overlapping for her, she still had a now.  And her understanding of this overlap affected her now, her present. Her thoughts were slower, her mind hung balanced on the symmetry underlying the semagrams, or what she wanted to express.  I feel like I hang in my own balance and the past and the future that-- though I know nothing about it-- create a symmetry for my present.  And that is why I don't feel like just like that, he's eight! Oh just the other day he was two, like I often hear from friends and which stumps me a little bit. I don't think I've missed anything.  I understand what they're saying but I just don't feel that way. He is what he's supposed to be and I feel a real calm about it. I've been around for all of it and have made so many efforts to be present for him, with him, that my now, the past, and what may be, feel very closely intertwined.

I told Sean it was why I constantly futurize. I learned this word when reading an article one day about how parents tend to futurize their children's bad behavior.  What will this look like when he's fifteen. What will this damaging effect I've supposedly caused have on later years? {nervous teeth} But instead of focusing on the negative, (which I can do) I choose instead to futurize a different way, by launching myself into the future and imagine all kinds of possible scenarios that might take place, conversations we might have that might be connected to the past. Moments where he might look back and pinpoint the most concrete memories from where we are now, his childhood, the things that stayed with him the most.  Moments where I will do that. I think about sending him off to college and imagine what memories I will go back to in conjunction. Simple things, like when we used to sit together at the table every morning in second grade. Having a conversation. The silly or profound things we used to talk about.  Reading together, the kinds of books we read. Playing together in ways that change as he ages. I imagine when he's learning to drive and branching out on his own. When he has his first child. When he's doing mundane tasks, living far away from me (us, far from us--ha) and picturing where his thoughts will take him as he thinks back. I find myself analyzing what kind of relationship we might have then based on this or that, wondering what I can do now to facilitate what i might want then.

Of course it is hypothetical because unlike the character in the story, I can't actually see future events lying before me like today's news, but it gives me a certain feeling of connection. And it greatly influences my present.  Because of this practice, I am much more deliberate and intentional (synonyms) in my behavior now or at least in how I process my thoughts. I try to pointedly make memories. I try to emphasize the good I can do now. The conversations we can have now. The bond we can create now with the time we have, the future never feeling very far away.   It is why I have chosen to stay home with him, though I've often struggled with the stay-at-home parent life, never really identifying as one, often claiming to be or at least feel like a "working mom who doesn't work."  (whatever a "working mom" looks like)

Because of this, the past never feels very far away, either. I think it's because I've trained my brain to look ahead so that I can facilitate my present, which will some day be the past.  So the feeling I have about my actual past keeps some semblance, some essence of the present for me.  It doesn't feel distant. In either direction.

I told Sean of something really interesting from a book club i attended the other day.  I hadn't read the book-hadn't attended all summer, actually.  So it's awkward since I can't really join in on the discussion but I try to glean what I can from the conversation.  The book was The Orphan Keeper, a novel based on the true story of a boy kidnapped in India at age eight, was sold to an orphanage, and then adopted to unknowing American parents.  It takes months for the boy to learn English enough to tell the adoptive parents he already had a family and thus begins the search for his birth parents.  The topic raised was the guilt (i think) felt by his birth parents.  His mother searching for him for years (it took years to find them, like over a decade? I probably should have read the book) and the feelings of guilt she had.  My friend responded with something I thought was so interesting and relates to this.  She is the mother of three children but the second one passed away as a toddler in a car accident about twelve or thirteen years ago.  She said she feels guilt for all kinds of things-- of course for what she could have done differently that day--taken a different route, whatever, to prevent it.  But the weird things she said she felt guilt for that would pop up in her head for years to come, maybe even now still, things she wouldn't have thought, were thoughts of, oh, I should have given her that cookie that one day.  I should have bought her new clothes. She only wore hand-me-downs from her sister.  Why didn't I buy her new clothes?    Trivial things that are still a presence in her mind, looking back.

These stories I hear from others, or read in strange and ingenious books that tap into my soul, are just examples to me of what I could be doing in my life and why I focus on living in the moment so much. It's really weird, too, because I feel like the more I read this book and the more I contemplate this concept of learning this linguist learning this alien language, the more I can imagine feeling what she's feeling.  The easier it is to contemplate the future and connect it, along with my past, to my now.

I feel like I'm having a Neverending Story experience (it's a thing). Bastian reading a story and finds himself incorporated in it.  I really feel like, eerily, I've begun reconfiguring my brain a little bit, that I've learned a certain language and acquired a certain ability from watching a movie and reading a story about a woman who learns a new kind of language and acquires a new ability and I feel very strange that somehow, Ted Chiang was writing the story of my life after all.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Summer Post 2017

Well it's been a million months since I last blogged. I hate it but it's just one of those things, you know how it is.  I am not giving up on it but I sometimes wonder how to re-approach it, you know? Should I do something different? Is it meaningful to anyone? (not that that should matter but my ego says it does) Do i have anything meaningful to even say? (-- the more pressing matter on my mind)  Or if not meaningful, then what I have dubbed "blog-worthy?" These are the questions I ask myself.  And I don't really have any answers.  So, I do what I've always done: look to the scrapheap of my drafts and see if there's anything salvageable.  Since school's just started which also means summer's just ended (awkward phrasing), I see here that i had begun a post at the beginning of summer about summer.  That I did nothing with until the middle of summer where I decided to add to it and write about mid-summer.  That I did nothing with until now, well past the end of summer.  I think I'll just give you what I wrote, an unfinished stream of summer consciousness but presented in real time.  What Jen was thinking in the moment:

*****
Summer, summer. What a dream. There's nothing that makes me hate winter more than basking in the beautiful glow of midsummer.  Oh wait, no, winter makes me hate winter more.  But other than that! I find these days that with my love of summer comes a latent rage against winter and I bemusedly ponder on how I try sooo hard to love it but we all know it isn't real love. And now, being a safe distance away I am free to loathe and rage with reckless abandon.  But enough of that. Summer! I know the heat must get to me eventually, and so it shall, but what a joy June has been. Just an absolute joy.  I recently clicked on an important article ranking the months from worst to best and I have to say, although I don't have quite such a disdain for November, the ranking seems pretty sound. 

I thought I'd go into a bulleted list of how my summer is going so far. What we've been up to, various and vague summer thoughts, but first I thought I'd put in a blog post I wrote a month ago and never published because for some reason I'm really struggling with the blogging these days. But I found it again and thought it wasn't the worst. Plus it's fun to revisit a forgotten thing and use it to evaluate the present. So here it is:

written in early June, 2017
 
Summer is here, at long beautiful last. (-- it sounded good in my head. I'm sticking with it)  Like all parents, I wrestled with feelings of enjoying an unstructured life and going bat-crap crazy without it. I feel like this battle from within must add to the balance of the universe so I'm just going to allow it to happen and not get too worked up about it. If one day is crappy and lame, then let it be! Tomorrow is a new one, a chance to see if it's crappy too, or not, and it's usually not. Whatever the case, I like my summer to happen organically. Just like with a child, if I overplan or overbook a summer, it can't have the freedom and room to grow and develop on its own. I like to see what the hot summer wind carries and that is certainly one thing that can be relied upon.

I live in the freaking windiest spot on this green earth. Remember that scene in the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice, when she goes to see the lakes or whatever with her aunt and uncle and there's that scene of her standing at the edge of the cliff in the moors and the music is sweeping and dramatic and Keira stands full-faced into a ginormous gale, her dress whipping violently behind her? That's how I feel every single day, it seems.  And I channel Keira whenever I open the door, as in all things.

It's so weird living in the place I grew up. For countless reasons. I'm often reminded of feelings i had as a child and one of them is angry swearing feelings at the wind.  And then I'm pleased to know, yet again, that who I was a child is who I am still deep down (or not so deep down).  But I live at a slightly higher elevation and it is constantly. windy. I feel like i'm fine with it for the most part. We have several wind lawn ornaments that I've become somewhat attached too. A giant metal rose, a small rainbow-colored windmill and a shiny silvery one. spindly dangles hanging from the tree, all to blow in the wind.  It's fun.  But when I

And that's where it ends. We'll never know what I  was going to say. Probably something about the wind getting real nasty here and ruining parties and things like such as. We had a couple backyard dinner things where actual food was being blown off plates, and then the plates themselves. It was ridiculous. Like, "Oh, you're going to want to have more on your plate than just salad and chips. Here's your salad, chicken, chips, and rock."  Anyway. But no matter, i'm moving on. 

In bullets, here is how I'm spending my summer.



  • Reading. Julian has finally reached that magic age where he wants to read and read a lot. I marvel that we spend our summer mornings lazing in bed, something he and I both love to naturally do. We are not fast movers in the early AM.  And then he reads. Kid will read for hours in the morning. I thought I'd get him up and start him on jobs and chores and structure and then after a bit I was like, what in the good heavens for?!  So I let him read and it was blissful.  And, as anticipated, his school library is my favorite--for him and for books for me. 5th grade required reading? Yes, please. 
  • We started a science club. I did this a couple summers ago but only did one experiment and guess what? Same thing happened this time. This took place during my "need to plan and organize!" bliz/freakout but ultimately goes against my nature and I haven't cared to do another one. I love science club though. The first (and only) one was a hit and tons of fun and I really hope to have another one one day. 
  • Along that vein, I did start a bug board. Like an entomology board, where you pin bugs. I found a big dead beetle on my porch and that's how it began. Then i realized I'd need to kill bugs and realized I hadn't thought this through. So, so far I've pinned already dead bugs or bugs that needed to be destroyed but then carefully preserved. I have the beetle, a big green'ish housefly, and a giant mosquito that was flying in our house. I told Sean to get it and then yelled, "WAIT! Don't smash it! Is it preserved??" i have a real twisted relationship with bugs now. I drive through the canyon and see these giant monster butterflies and remark to myself what a lovely addition they would make to my collection. I even found a dead one in the parking lot and even had a ziplock bag for it! But then i tucked it in the corner of a nail salon while Julian and I got pedicures and I think some kid saw it while he was waiting for his mom and took it home. Cuss.  


  • *****

    And that's where that one ended. This brings us to today, September 14.  I won't bore you with all the summer details but I will say this: At the beginning of the holiday, (-- I'm still being Keira, apparently, and British) Julian made a robot for some unknown reason. He's not a big crafter so i don't really know why he did it and I don't think he did either. He didn't spend too much time on it but when he was done we had this huge robot we didn't know what to do with. I suggested we hang it up, because i felt like that was the mom thing to say/do.  We did and then we stared at it for a day or two until we got the idea to write down all of the things we do this summer. Instead of making a list of summer things we wanted to do, we made a retroactive summer list-- things we did-- to see, at the end, all the things we had done. To be reminded of the little things that seemed small at the time but, combined together, made for one of the funnest summers ever. I'm making the pic huge so you can read everything. But the summer was fab with a few things planned and little to no pressure and i recommend taking this retro-list approach.

      Also, one last thing. Around the heat peak of July, I found this poem and recited it to myself whenever I could. I don't know if it'd be )en's Log without some kind of poem mentioned.

    Anyway, and re: blogging:  I'm back!  Probably!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

One For Each of Us

Found some quotes on my phone that need to be posted and published post haste, so here y'are:

This one is from April that i had totally forgotten about:

SEAN: *mumble singing "The Sign"* [click here and scroll down for more of Sean's thoughts on this song]

JEN, snickering: Good job, Sean.

SEAN: I bet I know the whole thing.


***

Last March, out driving at a sunset'ish time.

SEAN: Wow, the lake looks so pretty right now.

JULIAN: Yes! Enjoy it while the red light lasts.

JEN: Julian, I love your outlook on life. What a great thing- "enjoy it while the red light lasts."

JULIAN: What does it mean to abuse the world?

JEN: Uhh...
 ***

A year ago. Jen and Sean at a fancy brunch.  Jen cuts her food in fourths like an elegant lady, then scoops it ALL on the fork.  Sean abruptly notices and is immediately amused.

JEN: Don't look at me!

ha ha ha.  I can't remember what was exactly said, but Sean, in his way, pointed out the irony and then I busted ten guts, probably with my mouth full.



Saturday, June 03, 2017

The Last Day

Goodness gracious, nobody told me what the last day of school can be like. Julian was in kindergarten for two years and the last day was a non-event, perhaps because we missed it for both years? The first for camping? Details are fuzzy.  Last year we missed the whole last week (and therefore all of the "picnics" and "graduations" and "special activities"--best decision i ever made) and also, maybe because it's kindergarten? Maybe? But first grade is veeeery different, as we all know. 

I don't know about you, and maybe you're still in it, but for us, the last week of school was never.ending. Man alive! Every day felt like Friday. "Certainly it must be Friday NOW..."  Sooo sloowwwww.  I knew Julian was feeling some trepidation for one reason and one reason only: having to say goodbye to his dear teacher.  Turns out Mrs. R was universally beloved. It wasn't the number of children who loved her (which was every one I talked to) but the way they loved her. Like, at the mention of her name, there was a certain look in their eyes, their expression immediately changed, softened, for fondness.  Tenderness.  She had carved herself a permanent place in each little 7-year-old heart and it was truly a thing to behold.  Every now and then, throughout the year, Julian would randomly say things to me like, "You know. I think Mrs. R is really starting to become part of my life."  It was unlike anything I'd ever seen, that's all i can really say about it. I felt like I was witnessing true love. True first grade teacher love-- just how it should be.  Based on that alone I shall sing her praises forevermore with the utmost gratitude.  

I wrote the following in his baby book-- his journal where I jot things down from age 1-now, all in the same book. I wrote it the day of so I think i should just put it in here.  What a day:

26 May 2017

Dear Julian,

Today is the last day of first grade.  I didn't think it would be that big of deal. not as big as the first day, right? Wrong.  We walked to school together and the air was thick with last day jitters and excitement.  "Last day! I can't believe it! Finally!" we exclaimed, over and over.  We said goodbye and that was that.

Then it was time for pick-up.  As I stood outside the school, waiting for you, I could feel some emotions bubbling up my throat (ew).  I saw a big receiving line of parents with cameras at the ready, just outside the main doors.  I stood back on my little patch of cement where I always go for pick-up and thought maybe I should get my camera out too and capture the "last day of school" faces.  But of course I thought better of it, knowing that in so doing, I take myself out of the moment, and it did feel like a big moment.  So I stood and waited and when the bell rang, an enormous mass cheer could be heard from inside and the kids started pouring out. 

I won't cry, I said to myself.  That's silly.  Why would I cry? So I took a breath and held it together and I was fine.  And then I saw you.  Like so many times before, I observed your face, trying to ascertain your emotional state.  Today it was a bit somber and strained as you desperately tried to just get to me.  And as you ran into my arms, you burst into tears, completely overcome by the emotions-- of the day and the beautiful heartache of loving a teacher so much and having to say goodbye.  And so of course I cried, knowing perfectly well it is NOT silly.  And we walked away together and I laugh-cried through your gut-wrenching tears, and that was the last day of first grade.  

We got in the car to go the diner for a celebratory brunch.  You cried the whole way there and through your weeping and wailing, said the most amazing gems that I had to pull over to write them down.   Here they are:
"I just want the end of the school year to be pushed back farther, or not happen at all!" 

"I want to go to school for the rest of my life!"

"I'll never make it through the summer!"

"I'll never see Mrs. R again!"

"This has been the most wonderful year! 100's club, parties, field trips... Second grade won't be the same!"

"Mrs. R became such a part of my life.  First she teached us and then we had to say goodbye. I miss her so much already."
****

Honestly I'm getting a little teary just transcribing here.  What a thing!  Why did no one tell me? I assumed he'd run out, kicking his heels and never look back. But then, I did know the kid loves hard, loves deeply. We didn't give Mrs. R an end-of-year gift or anything, but I know she'll be receiving a mid-summer love letter with some pretty great quotes and maybe a school pic I have no idea what she'd do with. 

Aaaand I took a pic:

I was laughing more than this pic lets on, but man, we just feel what we feel! And we cannot hide.


Also, I just spotted this touching little story.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Good Housekeeping 1960

Before it burned down, my mother's family's farmland held a tiny concrete home that was like a stargate to another time and dimension. Read more here.  Inside were old relics, largely unmoved over the decades and among those relics was a trove of readable treasures I had previously known nothing about and the discovery of which changed my life forever:  The old Good Housekeeping magazines. 

Losing them in the fire was the least of the sad items lost but still was sad. Until I got on ye olde ebay and purchased up a lapful of the vintage gems and now they display proudly in my sitting room. I have a difficult time trying to express why they are so wonderful and precious to me but I'll do my best to sum up.  

Essentially, it is the most perfect, unmolested, uncontaminated inadvertent time capsule you will ever come across, only to be buried by other forgotten items in a hoarder's attic (hoarders I love and owe my life to).   Any old magazine, I'm now realizing, would be an immediate transport back in time but the Good Housekeeping, I believe, particularly captures the essence of American culture and, frankly, the human psyche during certain eras.  It is the most perfect history lesson and when you open it, you've stepped inside a time machine. Inside, we see styles in fashion, furniture, general home decor. You might see the gradual transition of the flowery 50's to, in my opinion, the more typical "mid-century" style of the mod 60's, but like, they didn't know it at the time. But you do! You know the end! To flip through the pages feels omniscient and it's alarming and exhilarating.  I looooove it.

More than that, though, we see attitudes, general belief trends, science views, child-rearing practices, SEVERE blatant sexism and an absolute non-existence of non-white culture or representation thereof.  I read an article that was actually titled something like "how women can stop being so useless" and it was NOT a joke.  Basically it was how men work hard at jobs and women should come with certain homemaking skills when they marry. Aye aye aye! But it's not spoken or written about retrospectively. It's the current view of the time, completely unaware of the future, without acknowledgement of any other lines of thinking. It's widely accepted as everyone's reality,  an actual real snapshot printed and published.  The "science" is bizarre but was then commonly accepted-- doctors promoting cookies for children as a healthy snack, for instance.  It makes you scoff and then sit and wonder what current, scientifically-proven facts that we believe now are possibly going to be later debunked or discarded. 

And then, oh my, there's the copy, the text! The captions! Ohhhh they just tickle me so. They are lengthy, oftentimes bizarre. Sean and I imagine Madmen-type guys sitting around with pens in their mouths coming up with a really good paragraph for sanitary napkins.

In addition, and one of my favorite elements, are the styles and trends of food prep and really outrageously gross recipes.  The microwave, for instance, was a new hot item and for a time, the goal was to cook ev-er-y-thing in it. Roasts and fish and complex casseroles.  It's just outstanding, and super nasty.

In particular, gelatin in some form was apparently expected for every single meal, as was using molds, which makes sense.  The goal, it seems to me, was to incorporate as much random and completely incompatible food items together into one giant mold. You marvel and wonder how anyone could think such a thing was appealing. The other day we made up a game where I sat reading recipes to Sean who, mystified, had to visualize and then attempt to describe to me what he thought it would look like. I'd then reveal the image and we'd see how close he got, and then make puke faces. BEST.

I thought I'd make this a series because there are too many gems to skip over. )en's Log is going retro.  For now I'll share just a couple of images that i've been texting to friends. They delight me to no end. 

The first was a challenge:

Looking at the ad here, can you guess what ingredient they are referring to? 



I'll give you a minute to think.  Got your guess?

Did you guess... THIS?




 It's fuzzy. Kellogg's concentrate(?) I believe this might be some form of cereal, maybe like Grape Nuts/Grape Nut Flakes? Question mark? Nobody knows.  

Here's another one that just makes me laugh and puke at the same time:



Ha ha ha! Chill a soup! Soup on the rocks! Ice-cold refreshing consomme BROTH.  AAAHH.  It's like some weird but still entertaining nightmare. 

Anyway, just wanted to share with you. I've got several here I pore over on the reg so stay tuned for more vintage GH goodies...



Friday, May 05, 2017

That Old Saying

The other night the three of us got in the car and the following exchange took place.  Basically imagine me giggling through the whole thing:

JULIAN:  Remember the saying, 'if you do it, it's worth it'?

JEN: ummm nuh-uh, I don't, actually...

JULIAN: Ok fine, it isn't a saying.  But it IS.

SEAN: I don't recall that one. Sounds like a Julian original.

JULIAN: ok FINE it is. 

Just tickled me up and down.  And now, upon further reflection, it SHOULD be a saying, and will now make it so. I love it. It's kind of deep no?  Remember everyone, if life ever gets you down:

If you do it, it's worth it. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Birthdays Come and Birthdays Go Blonde

I had my birthday this week. The build-up was just as it is every year: as it approached, the excitement grew. Hints, subtle and not so subtle were dropped by you-know-who and I felt the thrill of the upcoming best day of the year. It has been this way since I was a child.  How did I spend that glorious 0427?

I woke up to the morning of my birthday. You know that moment, the feeling you have (or had when you were 7) when you realized it was your birthday, how this day was set apart from every other day of the year? I got up, dressed myself, and made my bed all whilst hearing a storm a-brewing outside my door. Julian was all but banging down my door, a commendable feat considering him and who he is as a person (that is, a person who barges into my room a hundred times a day) and considering the ruckus i heard. Huffing and puffing and pacing, just waiting for me to open my door before bursting altogether. It made me laugh and I smiled as I calmly did my tasks and then I opened the door.

I tell you, birthdays are nothing anymore without Julian.  It is amazing.  I am not sure of the phenomenon here. It's like I have someone to share the excitement with, someone who loves them just as much as I do. And it's a bit cathartic because it takes away all the birthday pressure (for me and, no doubt, Sean) so that I know, no matter what happens, it's going to be a great day. Because my birthday is basically his birthday and I die a thousand times to see him show so much love and excitement for me. He repeated many statements throughout the day that it didn't matter what he got, it was my day. He wanted my day to be special. He hoped so badly that it would be and, i mean, can you honestly imagine a gift better than that??

Here he is in my room before school, p.s. having put on his shoes and grabbed his coat without being asked. {cry}


He had me cover my eyes and walk downstairs (dangerous, don't do it) and presented me with the best birthday sign ever to behold:


It reads,

Dere Mom
I hope you have a fun b-day. it is going to be fun that I can promese. there are fun presents it is going to be soooooooo fun.  any way it will be fun. I hope you have fun to have the cake its delichus even [though] i hate it. love, Julian

{cry face, cry face, hearts for eyes face}

It's... AMAZING.   It was one of those moments--the whole day, in fact-- where you learn that your kid might not be a sociopath after all.  You know those special tender moments.  I'm kidding, but he was so friggin' thoughtful toward me all day. Kid loves me hard and I happily embraced it, all day long. That note is the ultimate because Sean had apparently ordered me a chocolate cake from the fanciest chocolatiere we know, LA Burdick- yessssss.

Julian, however, hates chocolate cake. He doesn't even really like chocolate except for gross chocolate candies which is not really chocolate so that makes sense.  Anyway, he and Sean debated over it for a long time and Sean put his foot down, Julian conceded, and got his own special cupcake but gave the greatest gift of all with his note telling me it would be delicious---FOR ME.  {heart break, cry face}

This cake, by the way, has made me real happy. I tell you, quality stuff is worth hunting for in this life and I won't ever give up.  I told Sean eating this cake gives me actual chocolate endorphins, like I actually feel happier when I eat it and not at all sick. It's basically a dense, possibly flourless concoction with raspberry puree and raspberry ganache which-- who knew such a thing existed.  It is perfection. We've been trying to figure out who to invite over to help us eat it but the nights are busy and it may end up being just a two-person project.


The day was filled with relaxation and several drop-bys by thoughtful birthday people. So basically I sat on my can while I received gifts. Just the best. Such kindness. I have now made a goal to make as many bday drop-bys as I can. 

One favorite gift was this gem:


 So good. I yelled when i flipped it over, then went up to scare Sean with it.  It scares us every time we descend the stairs. Scares the cat too. We're all scared. I love it.

Sean and I have some friends we met in Bklyn who live here now. Dom's birthday is a day after mine; we were born a day apart. I always feel a little connection to people who would have been in my grade. Kids of 1980, unite!  Off and on for many years we have celebrated together, the four of us, and it is a beloved tradition. This time we went to see Colossal, an outstanding indie film I highly recommend. There's some language but I hardly remember hearing it and it was just so good. It's wacky, includes some sci-fi (yay) and delivers a powerful message of strength, fighting back, standing up for one's self and taking responsibility, taking charge of one's own life. I loved it. We all did. And as I recently suggested to Sean that, as a means to help us feel those city-like feelings of diversity,  better connected with the outside world, we might consider watching more indie films. So this fit the bill and hit the spot. Excellent.  Followed by Thai food and lots of scattered conversation. Best.

Also I went to dinner and a movie with some OTHER friends.  The movie I wanted to see? And they good naturedly went along with? Kong: Skull Island. It was first introduced as a joke or like, feigning a lack of preference, " ha ha Kong would be awesome! But you know, whatever. I'm good with anything!"  But the seed of desire was planted. And we're all so glad it worked out that way because it was pretty awesome. Scary, gruesome, a little bit awful, but good fluffy entertainment. If you like to be scared with a little bit of grossness and also enlarged animals, go see it today. 

Lastly, I finally did it, you guys.  I bleached my hair.  I believe I'm on phase one of two to go even lighter. I've been wanting to do this FOR-EV-ER and last year i came this close but was scared off by the upkeep. But this year i said, don't care. It is time.  So I did it and i love it and satisfies the pressing feeling i've been having deep inside that anything different is good.  {sparkle emoji}

Before!


After!


I might write a more philosophical, reflective post on getting older on this great journey we call life, but now, I just wanted to share that birthday magic is apparently real at any age, and it's alive and well with this one.




Friday, April 21, 2017

May I Help You?

Watching stuff while exercising is my favorite. Lately, I've been watching Clueless in snippets. Clueless, undeniably the greatest movie ever to come out of the 90's, has some real gems.  Cher Horowitz, the supposed "clueless" teenage heroine, has adopted a new friend to foster and indoctrinate, and discovers a greater depth of humanity and life when she reflects,

"It's like that book I read in the 9th grade that said, 'tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people.'"
I have a couple experiences I'd like to share regarding the service that has been rendered to me as a customer of late and this quote doesn't really have much to do with it but the movie is such an ingenious classic and I wanted to share, I mean "Cher," so there you go.

These two moments I'm going to tell you about made me laugh and, in spite of my frustration, are the kind of spice to my life I so enjoy. So I exasperatedly make fun but I owe a lot to these people and thank them from the bottom of my heart.

The first was when I was in the bakery portion of a local supermarket.  This place has a more gourmet quality, especially in the bakery and deli area so I allowed myself to have a bit of hope. Always on the desperate hunt for a decent baguette, eying the bagged, oblong bread loaves, I asked the girl behind the counter,

"Now, is this a crusty, classic baguette? or just a loaf of 'french bread'" snobbily knowing full well there is a difference and wondering if she will too. 

Her confused confirmation:     "yes, it's crusty french bread."

Me, trying again, but already knowing the answer:     "Ok, but it's soft, right?"

Because a baguette is not just a soft loaf of bread. The consistency is completely different and the correct crust, the air holes are imperative. Anyone who's had a good baguette will tell you this.

Helpful girl:     "It's soft, but if you want it crustier, you can just leave it out for a day or two."

Me:  and then

Then later, when relaying to Sean and the jokes come in:

"Just leave it out on the table for a while. It'll get hard."

"Great, thanks, because STALE bread is what i wanted.  This bread is too fresh! Gross."
Makes me be like, lol, and smh.  I still laugh about it.

The second story is about my poor little cat.  Cat, or Kat, or King Kitty, because his name fluctuates and nothing is set, recently injured himself. We think he got in a fight. We went down to the Goblin Valley some weekends ago for an overnighter.  Saturday evening upon our arrival, we noticed something weird about him. Even weirder than usual, i mean.  He was despondent, seemed a little out of sorts, and, as completely unreadable as a cat is, maybe even in some pain? I had him on my lap and was trying to brush him and when i got to a snag on his tail he hissed at me and, reprimanded, I ceased and desisted. The only thing strange about this is that he hissed instead of biting me which is his usual way of telling me he's had enough even though he was loooooving it two seconds go (smh).  But then later, with all of those factors combined with the fact that, as pointed out by Sean, his tail was hanging completely limp and Kat wouldn't move it at all, we realized something must be the matter. Wow it took a super long time to get this paragraph out. So complicated, for some reason.

The following Monday I called the vet. The conversation went like this:

Receptionist: Hello, you've reached the vet.
Me: Hi, I'm calling because something seems to be wrong with our cat's tail and I'm not sure if I should bring him in or what.  He won't let us touch it and he seems pretty out of it and possibly in pain.
Receptionist: Ok, so what do you mean about his tail? Like, is the bone exposed?

Jen: Ew, no. It just hangs there limply and he doesn't move it around. I'm wondering if he's been bitten. {retains grossed out face}

Ha ha ha ha.   And the jokes:

"Hi, yes. I'm wondering if there's something wrong with our cat's tail. He seems to be in some pain, seems kinda out of it. Also the bone is sticking out... is that normal? Is that not ok?"   
"There seems to be something the matter with our cat's tail. The bone is exposed. Do you think that could be part of the problem? Should we just wait it out or what..."

Or a continuation of her asking questions and me responding, horrified.  This is Sean's, as the receptionist, in a trying-to-be-helpful receptionist voice:

"Ok, so you think something might be wrong with the taill. Is the tail still attached? Did the tail fall off? And the kids are playing with it and won't give it back?"

Me: 


"NO! Nothing like that. It just seems to be hurting him!"  {Grossed out face}

All of these jokes are at the cruel expense of the cat but still! What the what? So hard to convey in text, but so, so funny to me.

These little run-ins have delighted me and have served me quite well on my eternal quest for funny stories.  So there you go. Special thanks to vet receptionist and bakery counter girl who taught me two important lessons:

1. If you want a classic French baguette, just leave any old loaf on the table for a few days and voila.

2. Having the bone exposed is generally a sign there's a problem and you should probably let a doctor at least take a look, just to be on the safe side.



Friday, April 14, 2017

What is Easter?

Good Friday, to all of you.  I have about an hour to clickety-clack out some thoughts so I thought I'd share some tidbits on Easter, something I have a great love for, a love that grows every year, it seems. In other words, it's going to get a little religious here so, let that be a disclaimer.

I recently watched a blip of an interview where Stephen Colbert had Ricky Gervais on his show and the two had a debate on religion.  Stephen is a believer in God and Ricky is not. A fan of both, I was excited about this.  Here's the interview if you want to watch.

To start out, to confirm, Ricky asks Stephen if he believes in God and Stephen says, "in three persons, yes." Essentially they debate their reasons for believing the way they do and I loved something Stephen brought up which was having great feeling of gratitude for existence and wants to direct that feeling somewhere.  I believe gratitude is one of the greatest, most powerful effectors of change and control in one's life, regarding one's attitude and outlook on it. The ol', instead of living in a state where you're focused on what you have not, choosing rather to focus on what you do have and the complete transformation that elicits. I love it. It's changed my life, to emphasize.   So, as a reason for his believing in God, Stephen says,

"I have a strong desire to direct that gratitude toward something or someone."
We all have or ought to have our reasons for believing the way that we do, and I love this. It's such a beautiful reflection of humility and submission, to a person, to an idea that there IS a person, to the idea that if there IS a person then this is how you would hope it would be, or what you'd like to do with that person. It's just beautiful.

So, with Easter upon us, and as a fellow believer in God, I thought I'd share some of my Easter thoughts, little experiences I've had that act as evidence or reasons why i believe in God and Jesus who allegedly died for all of mankind and lived again. Easter.

I've got a journal I keep in my bag and at the top of a certain page, in block lettering is, "What is Easter?" Here is what I've written down, the bulleted and italicized paragraphs word-for-word with the expansion of my thoughts following (naturally):
  • Going to a cemetery one year in Bklyn and feeling like I was standing in the middle of where other people's feelings and pain of death hung frozen in time, the unacknowledgement that it actually isn't the end after all.
    Greenwood Cemetery is this crazy old, nay--ancient-feeling cemetery with tombs and mausoleums (mausolea?) and grassy knolls growing over tombs like homes in The Shire. The epitaphs are old and scrubbed out, or new and sparkling and pristine with long family lines, poetic and tragic stumblings to make sense of such things.  It's SUCH a beautiful place and I think we went on Easter once, sort of by accident or for lack of anything else to do on a lovely spring day, and it was remarkable the feelings I had, walking through, submerged in so many people's pain. It felt sad and hopeless and created a kind of dissonance inside myself. It felt like an abrupt end, a hopeful resolution stolen away but that ought to be there. It felt frustrating. It was quite an experience.
  • Driving to church one eternal winter and feeling a deep depression for all of the bleakness- the bare trees, the universal gray that covered the earth, and the monochromatism I viewed all around me seeped into my heart. Hopelessly I lay my head against the window and as I thought the words, death, death, all around is death, I really felt afraid that it would stay that way forever.
    If Stephen Colbert holds to the need to direct his gratitude, I may hold to the need for hope in the universe. It's why I love the balance of things, the opposition, that if there is this then it must be that there is that.  I love to believe there is something bigger and greater than I, something to look to for guidance and example, to conceive for myself that there may be a better way and that I might not have all the answers I'll ever need to know in life. Plus, winter just blows and spring brings back the hope.  This is Easter.
  • Working on an arrangement of We Three Kings and learning the words so intimately, repeatedly and realizing it's actually an Easter song.

    The verses start out in the voices of the kings who visit the child Jesus. They take turns presenting their gifts and the second-to-last verse goes like this:

    Myrrh
    is mine: it's bitter perfume
    Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
    Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
    Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
    And ten the last verse is this:

    Glorious now behold Him arise,
    King and God and Sacrifice.
    Alleluia, alleluia!
    Sounds through the earth and skies.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Pippin, a hobbit, and Gandalf stand watching the doom of Mordor approaching. Afraid of dying, which he feels is imminent, Pippin expresses to Gandalf he never believed it was going to end this way.  Gandalf replies, "Death is not the end. Death is just a pathway, one that we all must take."  And he describes a beautiful place, an existence that comes next, and Pippin cheers up and says, "well that doesn't sound so bad." 

    That hope can exist at such a time where it feels so absent, that there is no finality to things that feel so final, is Easter to me.
  • Watching caterpillars. They eat and live for one purpose: to shed their old skin and to transform so that they can live again.  It is in their nature.

    I talked about this already. What was sad and meaningful to me is watching the ones who died immediately thereafter, or even those that didn't make it to the metamorphosis stage.  But they all--ALL--did what they were meant to do. Which was work toward becoming. Eating, climbing, working.  Their lives spanned different stages.  Watching them was a sacred experience.
  • Going to the Good Friday concert St. Matthew Passion, by Bach. It begins so dark and tumultuous and ends so joyous and triumphant.

    So one year in NY, Sean and I decided we needed some culture so we got tickets for the philharmonic orchestra for some random Friday.  We were a little clueless in not realizing it was Good Friday and the piece performed was specifically about Good Friday.  I loved that we didn't really know what we were in for though, because it made it all the more poignant.  We listened to the music and it's just so stirring, so tragic and dark. This is where O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown comes from.  And it was so emotional and evocative, by the end, where hope is reborn, life returns in exuberance, Sean and I were both a little shook up, I think it's safe to say. WOW.  It was kind of a shock for both of us. It made this Good Friday so meaningful and created a desire in me to study more on all of Holy Week.  Easter to me feels so much more religious than Christmas. Christmas feels like so much, it's almost overwhelming. But Easter I can wrap my head around, and I love it.

    So, a good Good Friday to you and yours, and here's to celebrating the life and death and life again of the Son of a God who sent him, the perfect example of love, of hope, who gives us this fragile and precious existence, the one to whom I direct all of my gratitude, the keeper of my hope.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hidden Treasure

The other morning it was frigid outside.  It was the kind of day that looked quite deceptively warm all day long. Sean, who lives in a cave, kept questioning me: "But it looks so nice!"   "NO, Sean. Don't be fooled, it is nasty out there. Don't try it. You'll be sorry!"  Constant wind with such a bad bite, not even the desert sun could penetrate it.  I was not amused by it.

That morning began like any other morning.  For example, upon immediately waking up, I probably put on pajamas part II, also known as "pajamas for the public" or "presentable pajamas."  It's lounge wear I put on after I wake up but before I get truly dressed for the day.  I've never enjoyed lingering about in my pajamas for very long. So since I can't get up and immediately get ready,  this is a compromise.  Julian probably woke up on his own. The cat was no doubt outside my door with his trademark morning meow/yowl that is this close to sounding like a human "hello?"  We surely had breakfast that morning and it was likely to be pancakes, the mix of which i make ahead of time in a ziplock bag because it's my favorite recipe that has a beautiful combo of cinnamon AND cornmeal in it and takes too long to make on our rushed mornings. And then, when it was time to depart to school, I surveyed the boy and saw all kinds of beloved things:

1. His grown up, dimply face
2. His cute gap toothiness
3. His glasses with the strap
4. His cool jacket I'm super jealous of
5. His light-up tennies
6. His general color scheme and blockedness.
7. His space backpack.  Julian never cares much about these things but he tells me he often gets compliments on the backpack from other kids, and I'm just so pleased he has a mom as cool as he does.

I had to take a picture so I commanded him to stand in the frozen morning air by the pinwheels to let me. Ever the cutie, he nailed it on the first try:



 But then I noticed something strange. Obviously I knew it was there but to catch it looking at you is always as startling as ever.  Zoom in, why don't you:




 AAH! This gem is a faux stone angel child someone gave me and Sean for our wedding 13.5 years ago. WEDDING.  Like, as a wedding present. ??? The obvious question is: who hates us so much? My parents have been storing random nicknacks i never took with me to NY when setting sail those many years ago and upon moving here, they were all too excited to give me every last box of my junk, one of which included this thing. It's creepy, it's somehow even creepier to think that someone would want to give it to us. Like, why? Who? What were the circumstances? I have half a mind to think there's something dangerous hidden inside to be retrieved when it's safe, or some kind of spy gear or something. Joke's on them, it's been in a box for over a decade.

 But now that we've found it a home, I've grown rather attached, and like to prop it up as you see here.  Sometimes, somehow, it's angled to be appearing to look right at us, no matter where we are, often through the window into our home. Thanks, creepy angel. And thanks creepy wedding friend who gifted it to us. It really does make me want to dig through my junk at home and take it to weddings.  Mazel tov!