Friday, November 13, 2015

It's the Little [Annoying] Things

The other day we were all puttering around the kitchen area with bits and pieces of conversation filling the gaps of a quiet evening. I said to Sean, "I wonder what other things you do that are endearingly annoying?"   and we had a good laugh.  Here are three of them that have come up several times lately:

1. Sean puts things away no matter what.  And since we don't have a rigid system of where things go, at least for now (maybe ever), you'll never ever know where they ended up. If he died today, all would be lost. Now, cleaning up clutter can make a lot of sense, so I'm told, but it's not like Julian and I are always leaving our crap around and that Sean haaates it.  I really don't think he does. If I were a hoarder, then maybe. But i would never be because i love throwing things away too much. So I think, for him, It's just a reflex of his to pick a thing up and find a spot for it.  Some people are busy bodies; He's a busy handy. (and body) This morning I ran in from driving Julian to school, having had to double back to the house and yelled, "where's Pandy?? PANDY!!"   and sure enough Sean had put Julian's pillow panda away even though we'd specifically gotten it out and ready so we wouldn't forget to take it to school for the special reading day (and had discussed doing so in Sean's presence). This is not a big deal. But it does happen a lot. A lot.

2. Sean is a very sharing, caring person. He will do so much for me, I couldn't even keep track of all the things if I tried. Too many to count.  And this includes sharing food we both love. For some reason we have a mental discrepancy about food sharing. Some people, myself included, believe that if you're going to share food with someone, you both get to eat some of it at your leisure. If you have some and share with your friend, you still get to have some again. NOT the case with Sean. He is happy to share. HOWEVER.  I have come to learn that if we're sharing food, once I let it leave my hands and it's in his, it is gone forever. He will lick the plate clean and never look back.  So i've learned to have my fill before doing the swap and take a moment to say my goodbyes because that is IT for me.  It's caused a few heartbreaks when the food was particularly special and I traded with him, believing I'd get to have at least one more bite, only to have it extinguished. I feel such a sense of abrupt loss.  "I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. Taste one last crumb..."   It's tragic and harsh and endearingly annoying. 

3. This next one is something that has sent me into a half-humored uproar. I still think it's completely unacceptable.  What is it?  Well, Sean folds the DIRTY DISHCLOTHS that are lying around the kitchen.  SO THAT THEY LOOK CLEAN.  He folds them and puts them into a nice little orderly stack in the corner. So as to give the appearance, one might deduce, of being a stack of FRESHLY LAUNDERED TOWELS. And he'll do it even if they're damp!  So not only do they look clean and will confuse me to no end--will probably NEVER get washed, only recycled in an eternal filth cycle -- but also, they don't have a chance to dry overnight! Because they're all folded up! I know!!!  See?   He keeps doing it.  We compromised by him folding them into triangles so I'll know they're dirty.  This was his suggestion, making a more complex fold shape.  Because he just can't not.  

Bless his heart.

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Reluctant Homeowners

When people heard we were undertaking the ludicrous (only to us) task of looking for a house to purchase, they got extremely excited and offered advice and tips. Some of it was welcome, in that i understood it, and other advice i just couldn't get on board with.  For example, many people shared their own experience of looking at "literally hundreds of houses."  Still and forevermore in a state of PTSD from apartment-searching in NY, even though it was never, EVER close to being as horrible as it is for nearly every other inhabitant, I would respond in my mind, um.... that's not going to be happening.  I'd rather burrow in and live inside a waste recess than look at a hundred houses. I think I could homey it up real nice.

Another thing people said was, "when you see it, you'll know it."  As if it was this spiritual experience for them. Far be it from me to determine the legitimacy or importance of other people's personal habitational revelatory experiences, but I had a big feeling this way was not going to be the way of me. It was not going to be my particular path. I don't believe in having a spiritual connection to one's house as a precursor for buying it. It does not need to speak to me, I do not need to speak to it. Maybe I'm used to having to settle, in so many ways, foregoing several things for others, that certain factors (that don't really have any relevance here) take top priority, having been conditioned to jump and act stupidly fast, like a rat, even for what turns out to be the moldiest of cheese, but I did not see this being a necessity to me and my life, though it was difficult for me to see how it would be, at all.

Therefore, with all of those factors, combined with our general hesitance and my vague but pleasant and necessary denial, that is how we embarked on this journey.  I do not need to bore you with details of how we came upon our domain, but i would say that we are happy with it. That i never got a good look at it until the deal was sealed, and that our experience is confirming my original theory: that you make a decision and make it work. And I feel satisfied, grateful, and even pleased.

It is a whole new world. Oftentimes a really boring new world and an easy trap to fall into, lifestyle-wise and conversationally, but for now, here are a few things we are learning:

Suddenly "dishwasher safe" has relevancy to my life.  Standing in the aisles at Target, I was already overwhelmed by all the new house purchasing we'd already done and I was still in the midst of at the store, but none of it was anything like the dishwashing soap aisle. ANY of this?? I stood there staring, stunned, all things lain before me completely and 100% alien.  I grabbed two random cleaning items and ran before I just crumbled and whimpered to Julian to choose something for me.  Having a dishwasher at home is utterly bizarre. I didn't use it for several days at first, feeling afraid of it and completely fine with my old ways of doing dishes.  I'd stare at it warily, feeling like a person out of time, unsure about this newfangled contraption.

Going along with my reluctance, I'd happily spend money on experiences rather than on mundane household items. For instance, although plane ticket prices are an abhorrence, I'll never regret the money spent on trips we've taken whereas I've a feeling I'll always rue the cash that went to that lawnmower. Blah.
Lawn maintenance has been on my list of dreams 0.0000 times. It's probably not on many people's. But I feel like, even with our "backyard" in brooklyn that was ours/wasn't ours, I was always thinking of how glad I was to not have to take care of a yard. That we'd just blissfully go out on Saturdays and explore and have adventures and not do Saturday chores. Maybe this is just indicative of my general laziness or disinclination toward adult responsibility. But mowing the lawn is as big of a drag as we'd feared. But maybe I'm growing up. Maybe there's something adult about experiencing something and saying, "Yup, that sucks just as I thought it would,"  and doing it anyway. 

Suddenly I feel as if I'm made to care deeply about a million new things that I don't, in actuality, care about at all. This color or that. This knob or that. Texture or textile. What furnishing? Put it where? Oh, you've never once thought about this in your life? Well, how about now x a million? I don't care i don't care i don't caaaaaare.  And it doesn't take long before my brain overloads and shuts down. I warned Sean I would need to take many breaks between house stuff, decisions, projects.  He is a homemaker and builder and doer by nature. Go go go.  But I have my limits and after a while my soul starts to wane.  So, happy am I to live amongst boxes for a time and feel out where things ought to go. To just let nature take its course. Let the things decide where they want to be, eh? Who am I to say? They'll end up where they're meant to be, I just know it. And, we have the space for said boxes, so we all live in peace and happy harmony.  Well, until we've been here two weeks and I still haven't found my boxes of pens. I'll tell you, i was fine with it, fine with it until i woke up one day and WAS NOT FINE.  I NEED MY PENS.  And we scoured all the boxes we could imagine them to be until we found them at long last, shoved in a box that was shoved inside a box. My beloveds. I rested a little easier after that. 

I have taken some interest in some things we've done or collectively decided. Furnishings and whatnot here and there.  But one item of decor that was solely and all my doing and which I am extremely proud of is this tabletop adornment. And when Sean saw it he fell in love too:

AND, and, when you light it (it's a candle) the eyes bleed! Neither Sean nor I can bear the thought of not having it as a permanent fixture so I may need to go out and get another. 

And now, a confession. A ways back, I remember how admittedly repulsed I was when a friend was telling me about their new house purchase and they didn't know what to do with the basement so they went to Hobby Lobby and started buying things. Though I myself hope to never be in that position, (and if I'm going to be spendy, at least be deliberate about it) I do understand a bit more now. It's overwhelming. How do you begin to put a house together? And if you feel like you've gone from small --- > big, you have to justify that, right? You have to feel like you needed that space, right? You can't just bar it off or brick it up. I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it all. It's all very new to me. Anyway, let's move on.

It still doesn't quite feel like ours.  Other than the loathsome mowing, we basically pretend the lawn isn't there because it's just too much for me right now. The other day on my way back from school, as a joke, i turned on the crusty hose and started to unravel it from the wheel to water my solitary and mostly dead tomato plant in a yellow pot. I knocked the wheel of hose over, the hose is so stiff and crackling that i'm pretty sure there are a million holes in it and though water first started coming out of the proper end, it ceased to do so after a minute. ??  Anyway, so that was fun. I won't be doing it again. 

Interestingly, landscaping is something I do care a bit about and have interest in but have absolutely no understanding of. It's too much for me. Our lawn is an ugly blank slate and it would be an utter abomination to not put in trees, but what kind? where? how many? and what else? It's too much for me. So, my latest idea is, since we live on a somewhat high-traffic corner, to set out some kind of suggestion box and let the neighbors decide.  They must be more horticultured than I so I will draw on their knowledge and experience. Maybe i'll sketch out a little map of the house and they can mark which things should go where? Hopefully we won't get any hate mail along with the suggestions but i wouldn't mind that either, because at least we'd know where we stand.  So if you're around, please feel free to fill out a form.     

Sometimes Sean and I would talk and try to figure out why it's such a huge deal to people, why it was such an exciting event for them and it didn't feel that way to us.  He remarked that it must be for people what moving to NY was for us.  It's their next big step into adulthood and ours was flying off and adventuring in a big city. He said, "So if they feel that same excitement I had whenever I'd fly back to NY, then I'm very happy for them." 

Back to the house.

Having space, though, is a shocking and wildly new frontier for us. An undiscovered world, and one we are quite enjoying.  Though I feel like we're playing house, sort of house-sitting, it is REMARKABLE to have room for us all. That there are several places to go herein. Kitchen, kitchen parlor, family room, Julian's bedroom, office. OFFICE?! Two sitting areas?? It struggles to make sense, but in, i have to say, a great way.  I've often referred to NY as a war zone. This doesn't really help when i say it in the same breath as emotionally professing my deep and undying love for it to one trying to understand. But I say it anyway (and I acknowledge how very ignorant this may come off and do not mean to make a mockery of actual, real-life war-torn places and the people caught asunder).  And if that's true, then I sort of feel like we are refugees experiencing a strange new sensation of freedom and luxury.* Having room to move and breathe has had a big effect psychologically.  This is one of the reasons I feel it important to choose to make things work, and resist falling prey to any kind of outside pressure or comparison. Because I know another kind of living. Another FINE and awesome way but very different way to live.  Having had one thing helps me to see and appreciate things about another, that's all. And I couldn't feel more content about the prospect of going into winter.  More content than I've ever felt about it in my life, in fact.  And that is really something.

So, we're easing into it. Meeting people and making friends is, i've learned, a big factor into our or at least my comfort level. I went to a book club at a new neighbor friend's house the other day and realized everyone there lived steps away from me. I turned to her and said, "I can't believe I'm hanging out with people that all literally live across the street from me."   Suddenly a memory flashed to my mind of a night when we hosted Murder Monday, when we'd watch old scary movies (usually Hitchcock) with friends.  One night, some friends married to each other wanted to both be there so they tried out a system of leaving one of their phones in the kids' bedroom as a baby monitor.  We all giggled at this and waited to see if anything happened. Sure enough, as soon as they heard their daughter wake up and ask for her mom, the dad bolted out the door and ran the 5 blocks home while the mom stalled, talking on the phone, "shhh, just go to sleep. Don't come out. We'll be right there..."  Ha ha!   I don't really know why i'm telling you this other than it made us laugh so hard and it's just a strange world to be living in now, comparatively.  Also, it's making me feel like we could EASILY skip out to a neighbor's at night with this new, even closer proximity situation. 

As with all major changes in life, it takes some getting used to. There's also the aspect of imagining a thing and living it in real life. Accompanying fears and then the gradual dispelling of fears. Because no one wants to be afraid of a thing and then go to that thing. It's like when people would ask me while I was living in Brooklyn if I felt unsafe. I'd answer "No, because who wants to live like that?" You kind of have to decide. So that's what we're doing now. Trying our guts out to embrace the thing. So we may be reluctant but just give us time.  It is a wild frontier indeed. 

*Of course i only speak of the negative aspects, the eventual reasons we saluted goodbye. Living in a tiny space came to feel like living inside a pressure cooker, but we gave up a lot for what we have now. A LOT.  And for a time, it was worth it all, and more. I've mentioned it feeling like a badge of honor and a privilege. I still hold to that.

Friday, October 23, 2015

20 Questions, with Jen 'n Sean

Any time we're in the car for a lengthier than usual amount of time, I make Sean play car games with me. Often these are geography games. But this time I conceded to play 20 Questions. It had been a while, and while playing, I thought how important careful question-selection is. You only have twenty tries. Make them count (ha).  And, I also thought, maybe we each have our own style of playing? Like, maybe asking someone to play this game could be some kind of personality test. 

Anyway, the game has never been my favorite, though I'm not sure why. But I was feeling crazy. I let Sean choose the first word and it could be anything, person, place, thing, solid, liquid gas, whatever.  It went something like this:

JEN: Is it a person? (1)


JEN: Can I see it with my naked eye? (2)


JEN: Can i see it right NOW? (3)


JEN: Is it alive? (4)

SEAN: No...

JEN:  Does it move around? (5)

SEAN:  No....

JEN: Can I hold it in my hand? (6)

SEAN: No. 

JEN: Is big as a mountain? You know, 'ish? (7)

SEAN (thinking): As big as a mountain.

JEN:  Yeah.  What? 

SEAN: As big as a mountain... well, it's big.

JEN: Yes.. but.. ok..? Is it as big as a mountain?

SEAN (being weird): is not as big as a mountain.

JEN: Alright, weirdo. So sort of big. Do I like it? (8)

SEAN: Sure

JEN: Is it fun? (9)

SEAN: yesss.

JEN: Can i touch it? (10)

SEAN: Yes.

JEN: is it particularly colorful? (11)

SEAN: No...

JEN: Can I get inside it? (12)


JEN: Can I climb it? (13)


JEN: Is it shiny? (14)

SEAN: No...

JEN: Is it physically appealing? (15)

SEAN: Yes.

JEN: Ok, it's big'ish, but not as big as a mountain. It's not colorful, but I like it. Can't climb it...

SEAN: It's not AS big as a mountain.

JEN: Ok, why is that one so weird??

Sean maintains weirdness in bated silence. 

We went back and forth about that weird question. At some point, we had a pause where Sean explained further.

SEAN: It's not big AS a mountain.

JEN: *staring*

SEAN: Like, it could be bigger...

After some minutes of dispute on this subject and the chosen wordage, the validity of his replies, etc, we moved on.  I had 5 or so questions left and had nothing. So we made up a new rule that if the guesser is totally stumped, they could get a clue. So Sean gave me one.

SEAN: You can find it on a map.

JEN: Ok, I can find it on a map... on a map... (thinking, thinking)

JEN (staring at the road): Is it a road? (16)


(much time passes. We're at a bit of a stall.)

JEN (being very careful about this): I mean, all i can picture on a map is countries...

SEAN: Ahhh! interesting!!

JEN: Oh my goodness. Is it a country?? (17)

SEAN (all too delighted): It IS a country!

JEN: Is it... one I have any particular attachment to?  (18)

SEAN: Nah.

JEN (getting extremely anxious with two questions left) : Is it in the western hemisphere? (19)

The air is tense. 


JEN, (very desperate): AHHH my last one! Is it France?? Wait, NO, i'm an idiot--that's not in the--i take it back, I TAKE IT BACK!!  Ummmmmm.....  China?!?  (20)


JEN: *panting heavily*

And that's it, folks. If that wasn't a nail-biter of a game of 20 Questions, I don't know what is.

Also, happy anniversary, favorite gaming friend. Too bad this wasn't our 20th.  But I'll keep that in mind...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 21

SEAN (pointing to my calendar on the bulletin board)

What are all those holidays on the 21st?

JEN (reading): "Marine Mammal Protection Act. 43rd anniversary."

SEAN: Ah. yes.  43rd's a big one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Band Books

Recently my sister sent me an important link to an article on buzzfeed, where I get all my news, about some kind of banned books movement or something or other that turned into "band books" on twitter.  People combining the titles of books with band names. It is awesome.  Click here to read that important article to get the flavor of the game. 

I then pasted this link into a group conversation that included Suvi, Val, and Suzie.  Suzie wasn't quite an active participant because she was actively in labor. But she was still a part of the team and we dedicated the text to her, as our gift.  This began in the early evening and stretched on intermittently for hours. Paul, espoused to Suvi, and James to Val, later joined the conversation.   Being a part of group texts can be really annoying-- when the conversation is lame. But when it's NOT lame, it can be magical.  I really love them.  Instead of screen capping a million times I will just organize our #bandbooks by author. I've asterisked my favorites. Vote for yours.  Enjoy, and feel free to add on. It's kind of addicting when you get your brain on it.

Before we begin, let's meet the players.

Jen: blogger, writer, inventor, inspirer.  Spent much of her college career writing extemporaneous voluntary poetry or essays within mandatory essays or tests, and winning the occasional "bonus point for creative answer."  

Sean: Painter, collage-r, thinker, certified genius. Can captivate any audience while simultaneously producing wondrous, tear-inducing creations out of legos.
Suvi: Adventurer, studier, crusader, Finn. A sufferer of moderate to severe FOMO, this do-gooder has literally done it all. An accomplished chef and on a quest to save the world. Not with her cooking. Those are unrelated. (Or are they??)

Paul: Spreadsheet wizard, traveler, persuader.  This baritone-voiced, smooth sauce of a giant can talk you into believing an-y-thing. Has the ability to see the whole picture, and organize it into appealing graphs and statistical depictions.

Val: Runner, actor, author, daydream believer.  Has a courageous heart, a bottomless well of a brain, and an actual wall-mounted plaque for literally knowing all the words. Has magical powers of making those around her seem smarter than they actually are.

: Wonderer, philosopher, paradigm-shifter, nerd.
Kid-hearted and faced, laughs don't come cheap with this guy, because he has actually copyrighted every single one of his jokes, past present and future.

Suzie: Philanthropist, truth-seeker, listener, life-puncher.  This beloved and clever combination of wacky wit, awkward charm and super-sparkle will humor you, champion you, and guaranteed endear you. You'll love so much about the things she chooses to be.

And without further ado...


Metallicall of the Wild

The Rolling Stone Soup

A Wind in the Doors

Frog and Toad the Wet Sprocket

They Might BFGiants

Linkin Jurassic Park

Fall Out of the House of Usher Boy (that one's a 2-fer)

Oliver Twisted Sister

Where the Red Hot Chili Pepper Fern Grows

1984 Non-Blondes


Of Mice and Men at Work

A Town Like Alice in Chains

The Old Man and the TLC*

Guns 'n Roses, Germs and Steel

Lady Antebellum of the Lake*


A Brave New Kids on the Block World

The Wizard of Ozzie Osborne

World War Jay-Z

Anne of Green Day Gables

(Jane) Eyre Supply (possible winner. Everyone exploded in text cheers)

Crash Test Accounting for Dummies*

The New Jim Counting Crows



Lorde of the Flies*

Oh the Places You'll Go Team

Supertramp Baby

The Jonas Brothers Karamzov

Pearl Jam of Great Price*

Gullivers Traveling Wilburys

David Archeleta Copperfield

Rage against the Time Machine

The Three Musketeers for Fears*

The Greatful Dead Gatsby

Uncle Tom Waits Cabin

The Bell Jars of Clay

All Quiet on the Kanye Western Front


Blues Traveler with Charley

The Little Artist Formerly Known As Prince *

The Secret Soundgarden*

Lord of the Promise Ring

A Neon Tree Grows in Brooklyn*

RhiAnna Karenina (collaborative effort with a friend)


Of Modest Mouse and Men

Guns 'n Rosencrants are Dead

Eat, Slayer, Love*

The Sun Also Rises Against the Machine

And Then There Were None Direction*

To Kill a Mocking Andrew Bird

The Band Heart is the Loneliest Hunter

Zen and the Art of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The Shins-ing*

The Things They Carrie Underwood

What We Talk About When We Talk About Heads


And there you go. It was magnificent.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Throwback Book

Some time ago I mentioned reading throwback books to Julian and how it's the #1 best way for me to reconnect with my childhood. I've found a few treasures from my parents' house and one of them was my beloved Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards.

You know what is so weird? When you come in contact with the source of all these associations to things. Like, all through your life there are strange sensations tied to a thing, a word, whatever. The things we encounter have a root. And you may even be cognizant of it and say, that word reminds me of _____.  Or, it reminds me of something, but i don't know what. And even if it's on a subconscious level, the feeling is still there. Those vague associations we make day after day after day. And then one day you dig up an old book you read as an impressionable youngster, and realize you've come to the source, the original, of those associations. This book was that for me. Things like having a secret place all to yourself, having some strange desire to grow a garden (even though I am terrible at gardening and am still reluctant to give it a go). The word "marigold" came from that book. And not like I'm thinking of or hearing that word on a daily basis in my life but when i do, traces of those associations are there, that tie me back to this book. I feel like i've struck gold, knowing with a fair amount of certainty, that i've come to the original source of the word, when I first learned it. It's kind of miraculous, actually, and being back to where I grew up after having been away, it's happening all over the place.

Mandy, as you may know, lives in an orphanage and yearns for something of her own. She's a dark-haired emotional girl and seems to always be looking for something. She scales the back wall and discovers an abandoned cottage that she fixes up and makes hers.  It doesn’t totally satiate her desire for more in life though and in the end she gets sick there, in the cottage, and is rescued by the owner of the estate, a kindly man and family who live nearby. They take her in while she recovers for weeks, and in the end they  (SPOILER ALERT) adopt her. When Mandy can’t believe how this wonderful thing has happened to her, Bill, the father says to her, 

“You are a very special little girl.  And I think you’re strong and not afraid to go looking for your life.”*  

 And these are the words that jolted me when I was reading it to Julian. Not only had I been feeling this close connection to Mandy all along, because I think she really made an impression on me when I read it as a 10-year-old and maybe adopted or perhaps recognized some of her qualities, but those are the words that I need to adopt for myself right now.  I need to go looking for my life, and I want to be unafraid doing it.   This is the feeling I think i've had for all of my life, but there is a difference between feeling something and doing it. So that is my plan.

*I'm reeeeally, really sorry for enlarging that quote. I laugh when i read people's blogs who do this, but usually it's their own words they make huge because they just know they'll be as earth-shattering for you as their own words were for them. But since they're not my words, i'm telling myself it's ok. Plus, look how huge that asterisk is.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Renaissance Life

Recently I clicked on a very important article link, because those are the only ones I pay any attention to.  I can't find the article anywhere but this one was something about time and how it relates to women.  I think she mentioned something how, in the days of the renaissance, men were sitting around painting and philosophizing and writing, but women, women are different. It's seemingly impossible for women to find time to do things they enjoy because they in large part, by nature, are task-oriented list-makers. I didn't quite read it in full and I will confess, my daily [very important] article intake is plentiful and I forget things I read easily, but the author mentioned that the time she does have, she's noticed, comes in bits and pieces throughout her day. Time confetti, she calls it, the time that she will choose to optimize.  And those are the moments that count.  What we make use of that scattered, fragmented time throughout all the day's busy-ness.   

Now, I don't know if I've ever been great at managing my time. I'm not sure I'm awful either.  I certainly could make better use of it at certain times. But for some reason I've always made sure I made time for nothing.  Nothing doing. Nothingness. It's extremely important to me.  When I hear from women how busy they are I think to myself (or actually I'll just say it aloud), yeah, i'm not that busy!  And they will laugh and say, Oh Jen. And that I will be someday, as if it's something I should aspire to. But it gets me thinking about my day-to-days. Of course this varies from day to day. And often I enjoy certain kinds of busy-ness.  But to me, a lot of this busy-ness sounds like a whole lot of busy-making.  And it turns me off big time.  It's just not how I'd wish to spend my day, if given a choice, which I feel we DO have, in certain respects.

Nothing time doesn't mean i literally do nothing, though that is not time ill-spent if that's what we need.  But I like to give space for my thoughts in a day. And I realized, after I finished the article, was that I kind of DO live a renaissance life.  I told Sean that my day feels seriously lacking if I don't exert any kind of creative energy toward something.  Toward an idea, a song, some kind of writing.  I almost feel like I have to put my Jen stamp or twist on everything to make it mean something to me and if it's nothing but mundane tasks or errands, which, granted, are sometimes just necessary, then sometimes i wonder, what is it all for??  Now, days that are lacking are fine. If every day was the most amazing day ever, that doesn't even sound normal and even a bit exhausting.  But when I thought about it I realized that deep inside of me there is always that itch, that base desire, to create, to express, to examine, to play.  I always have this feeling that, with the free time I have in a day, that is what I want most to be doing with it. Reading, questioning, writing, even painting. I've taken up the brush lately for silliness sake and it's shocking how relaxing and meditative it is. It just feels so good. And to take this further and share it with those around me, to rope others into my renaissance-ness sounds quite nice to me.  Often I do put those notions aside for the moment to take care of the business, but I never forget about it, and I'll often throw the business aside in a fit of desperation and refocus my energies.

So when I think about all that, it makes me feel a bit of an oddball. It's not the renaissance, Jen. And you do, frankly, have other responsibilities and things going on than to just run off and be a free spirit of art and imagination, as dreamy as that sounds.  But it may be a very important thread in my makeup and I wonder, despite the speed of living and all the many things in a day, the summation of which helps a person feel accomplished,  I wonder if a renaissance life would really be such a bad thing. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


Remember how Rick Springfield is apparently my doppelganger? Or at least was when I was fifteen. I'd always thought it dubious but the other day I was sitting here flipping through my Entertainment Weekly and came upon this page. At first I was startled to see myself looking back at me in a magazine (AS IF):

After I smirked I looked closer and realized he does kind of look like a woman, maybe more now than ever.   And then I realized, I have glasses on, my hair's kind of shaggy. Maybe I DO look like Rick Springfield??  So I tried to pose like him the best I could:

So??? Is it true? I think it might be true!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Eating Cold Leftovers is My Favorite

The night started like any other.  After playing some rousing duets of Christmas songs on piano and guitar, Sean and I sat on the couch shopping for a couch.  Resigned to the fact that we may be on an eternal quest for the mythical perfect couch, we took turns psyching each other up as we made the purchase, which then led to each of us looking up coupon codes on our individual devices.  After tumbling for far too long down that weird rabbit hole we sealed the deal, and put $25 in our mutual pocket.  Approaching the far side of 10:00, the night progressed, as did the rumbling of our stomachs, but before we could formulate a plan of some kind, confused crying from the other room distracted us and I eagerly exclaimed and insisted that "I will go!"  As I laid next to the hapless Julian, woebegone because of some promised then forgotten and mourned for lollipop, we talked and sang until I told him of stories of his early life. His huge eyes on his tiny body. How I knew he was a boy before I saw the picture. Julian surmised he would hate to see a picture of himself in my belly because it would look really scary. I concurred, and said i might have a good one somewhere but they're mostly pretty weird and creepy.  Finally, after a long and meaningful lecture to his protector, his pet zebra, exhorting him to watch over Julian in the night, I exited.   My food meeting with Sean reconvened and I said, 

"Did you get some food?" 
 Seeing as he did not, for he was laying on the couch in a very UN-getting food like way, I said, 
"Sean! did you not understand that was the deal? Did i not say that out loud?" He responded, 

"Now i understand the reason for your eagerness to console."   Taking matters into our individual hands, we opened the fridge and cupboards.  I finally decided on digging into some leftovers,  Sean pleaded with me:  

"Please tell me you'll heat it up! Tell me you'll heat--"  
I maniacally interjected,  "NO! COLD.  Eating cold leftovers is my favorite!

Gleeful and with abandon, i fetched a fork and dug into the tupperware container full of cold enchiladas. Defeated, Sean made arrangements for his routine night ice cream.  I saw him getting ready to make fudge sauce when I mentioned I thought we had some in the fridge. He got it out, took off the lid and put it in the microwave.  Knowing he was averse to checking expiration dates, I took a glance and said, 

"this expired in July..."   
Over the din of the microwave, Sean said, "What? i can't hear you! Sorry!"  
 And i said, "Nothing. I said nothing."  

And the crickets chirped louder than they ever have before and the spirit of harmony befell the room.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Happy be the day that Julian Rex was born. The blaring of celebratory trumpets was drowned out by the overflow of my own tears and the burbling of my emotions. I held him in my arms and asked myself, who the crap is this kid and how did he get put into my lap? Initially it really felt like, no really, whose baby is this? What just happened? Is this real life?  And in the days following I studied his beautiful dimply face trying desperately to somehow, by sheer will, extract the essence of who the child was and would become and I declare that he has since then, become mine. I claim him, and am now daily deafened by those same sweet trumpets that have been playing his song all along.   He is six. And more of a marvel than ever before.

Who he is, now:

Rememberer of the Forgotten Balloon

He has a knack, an ability, to always look upwards and notice the balloon that escaped. Indoors or out. In the rafters of the grocery store or released into the wild blue sky. 

And his heart goes out to it. He will not forget that balloon. His heart goes out to a lot of things, actually.  

Bathroom Singer  

You'd never hear a happier bathroom-goer in all your life. I don't know if it's who he is or if I trained him to do this since, particularly when he was sort of too big to be in the stall with me but too small to be left alone, I'd make him sing or whistle when I would be using a public toilet to make sure he was nearby. I still do this on occasion. But I don't have to anymore because he is always singing or humming while using the bathroom when we are out. Always. Just cheerfully doing his business. It makes me laugh every time.  

Lover of Simple Pleasures

Julian loves amusement rides. He is a bit of a thrill seeker in that way, but when we're at the mall or someplace with little rides, he never wants to actually ride it. I'll even offer to put in some quarters but he says no thank you, he'd rather just pretend ride them. It's like he has more fun in his mind, something I actually really believe. 

Some quality Julian quotes:

"Know what they call numbers in order? The numberabet." 

In a prayer: "Thank you for tomorrow... that there won't be a missing day in the week."    

What would it be like if suddenly Tuesday didn't happen? *shudder*

Exuberant exclamation while camping down south: 
"AHHH, the glories of rock!" 

 Amen, squirt. Amen. 

Julian has a way with words when comforting others. I was pretty sure I'd hit a bird while driving and felt bad. Julian said, 

"but don't worry, Mom. It's not your fault, it was an you're not a poacher."     

Whew.  Accidentally becoming a poacher is one of my greatest fears.

 "Mommy, do your ideas change the world?"  

This one made me choke on a grape. I laughed and said, "I'd like to think so."  He expressed some doubt so I said, "I have ideas. And i share them with people I know. And maybe they think about them and share them with people they know. And maybe those people think about them and share them with people THEY know. Until it spreads and spreads until maybe the whole world knows them. And maybe the world will think about them, and they will, in fact, change the world. For good or for evil, i cannot say."

He responded by saying he had ideas of his own that were changing the world, but a different world, on another planet.  When I asked what they were he said they were his secrets. So... alright, then.

Pointing to a smelly candle-- "That's like seasoning, for air." 

Encouragement for the hapless Triceratops: 

"I think I know why they're called a Triceratops.  It's because if they don't succeed, they 'tri, tri' again." 

Julian is a remarkable magician.  He can make anything actually disappear. Using his magic, one second it's there and the other, it's not! He shows me this trick all the time and it NEVER fails.  It's actually quite amazing. The only thing is that I have to shut my eyes and reopen them when he tells me. 

Julian and I have a game called How Dare You? One day he accused me of something atrocious like not loving him when he was a baby and I gasped and exclaimed, "how dare you??"  and he was beyond delighted.  Since then it's become a weird game of ours where we'll say horrible things about each other and the person has to be shocked and say, with great emotion, "how dare you??" I don't really know what it's about but I am glad he lives in a world where the horrible scenarios he uses are just too absurd that they're a game.

Here's one of late but happened a bit more authentically.

JULIAN: Star Wars is better than your mommy show, Star Trek.

JEN: PSHH, how dare you??

I then went on to adamantly explain that BOTH were awesome in different, very specific ways. 

More Quotes
"I wish I had very long hair so I could like, whip it around."  

I tell him it comes at a price, for long hair also means constantly in your face and having to hold it on windy days and when eating, etc.  Basically I cut my hair because I wanted to like a windy day and be, at long last, unencumbered while eating.

This is a kid with big emotions and prone to violent outbursts which I both applaud with pride, and apologize for with reluctant ownership. The following situation illustrates: 

Sean and Julian were on a crappy slide at the playground. Julian hit his head twice.  

JULIAN, upon the first time of hitting his head:
Aaugh, I hate this slide!  

He then backed up and hit his head again.  

"Who made this slide, BAD PEOPLE??"   

SEAN: Kind of, it is a really bad design.



(I've actually forgotten what i was doing with my headings and am now basically emboldening things arbitrarily.) 

I don't think anyone has ever loved me so well, so unconditionally than Julian. If I ever want to learn how to love, I turn to him.   We declare our love for each other on the reg, gesturing special signals and writing love notes back and forth, making passionate declarations at dinner, in the old days on the subway train, and naturally, in our respective stalls in public bathrooms.   I have undoubtedly received dozens of cards now that read "Jen" and "Julian," with a heart, as follows:


Along the way, Julian has connected yellow to being a happy color. For obvious reasons. But I can think of two distinct things that would teach him this. 1) his bright yellow underwear. I am pretty sure I called them his Happy Undies and declared that he can't have a bad day if he's wearing these.  And 2) my yellow scooter.  Because duh. But he says sweet things:

"I want to pour out my heart to you. I want to pour out all the yellow happiness and give it to you." 

I keep asking Julian what he wants to be when he grows up. I don't know why because i think this question is kind of lame but I do it anyway. His repeated and stoic response, even when the question is posed weeks or months apart:

"A pirate policeman." 

Julian always has a soft spot for the bad guy.  Villains are always his favorite character. One day we were playing with Legos and we were teaming up against the bad guy but when we finally got him, Julian made a tomb for him, for when he was a mummy. Now that's respect. 


Here, Julian explains some science using a mere piece of fruit:

Happy happy number six, Beloved. T'is a magical time. 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Parade Report

Well, my our parade dreams have been fulfilled. And it was as fun and happy as I had hoped it would be.  Because sometimes I just want to do what I want to do. You know?

We put it together in two days.  We had to go to the craft store twice in those two days which just about killed me and Julian but left Sean in a surprisingly good humor.  The idea behind what our "float" would be evolved and morphed a bit.  Since my scooter is yellow, I thought we might match it. Also, not quite sure what the qualifications were in being accepted into a parade (turns out "signing up" is it) I thought we should maybe be bees, since it's the beehive state and all, and that that might up our chances.   So we were bees on a scooter.  People would ask what our affiliate or cause was and I would reply, "For love of parades. Us. We are our affiliate."

Here we are while we waited. 

In all, we attached a golden sparkly fountain that easily hooked onto the back, two yellow pinwheels that spun in the wind as we scooted, 3 huge yellow balloons, yellow ribbon streamers from the handlebars, a bike bell that i borrowed and now desperately need, and a beehive sign made by, you guessed it, Sean. 

I feel like my scooter reached self-actualization. It finally became what it was born to be.  It was truly a thing of wonder and we stood and gazed upon it in awe. I've never seen it look so beautiful. *sniff*


Since we signed up at the last second, we were almost at the very end of the parade.  Our costumes were great. I got to wear bee wings and Julian had a shiny yellow cape. We both had yellow masks and we spray painted stripes on a shirt for him. He took parading very seriously and I was totally impressed at how well he simultaneously waved, tossed yellow candy from our yellow box, AND rang the bell.  This kid is hardcore, and so am I.  Hardcore paraders are we. People cheered for us, we spotted a few familiar faces which was delightful, and on the whole it gave us a happiness boost of about 1 trillion.

The above 3 pics were snapped by cool friends who i didn't spot until #3.

Sean walked the whole way with us, taking pictures on the sidelines. 

I feel like I want to do this every year. Is that crazy? We could do anything! At the moment I'm thinking we just put together crazy costumes. Or really, whatever the hey.  

Lastly, here we are in action.