Thursday, December 08, 2016

Sure look cozy there...

Wow, so many things can bring the Christmas spirit into any hardened Grinch's heart. I'm not a Grinch but every time I look at this facebook ad, my heart immediately triples in size.  It's bringing me a lot of joy this holiday season:


Suuure looks like you're sitting somewhere specific. And modeling leggings while there. Which really is the only place that would make sense. How else would you make an ad for fleece-lined leggings appear natural? You can't just turn them inside out. And nobody will take your word for it if you just show us the outside and merely tell us they're fleece-lined.  So, clearly this was the only way to do it.  And I am pleased. And I thank you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Joyful Exchange

Julian asked Sean the other day,

"Who in the world do you HATE?"

And Sean said, "there's nobody that I hate, who I know. There might be nasty peope in the world but I don't know them."

And Julian asked if Sean hated someone of Sean's acquaintance whom he interacts with regularly and added, "He always seems like he's in a grumpy mood."

And Sean said, "I don't hate him. I talk to him every day and he's not always grumpy. Sometimes, but not always."

And Julian said, "you should talk to him about his feelings. Find out what it is that's upsetting him."

And Sean said, "well, some people don't like to talk about their feelings." 

And Julian was utterly shocked. Shocked! He balked as he repeated, "Don't like to talk about their feelings??"

As Sean told me this amazing story, I sat there stunned and amused and at the last line I laughed, and, struck with a sudden and intense feeling of euphoria and elation I exclaimed,

"that's....AMAZING! Ohhh I'm so happy!"    Sean said, "it's like the shock at finding out there are male doctors."   Click here for that wondrous tale.

So there are two things I've done that I'm proud of.  *happy exhale*


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A Short Story

Once upon a time it was yesterday, and Julian stayed home from school because he was a little sick and I didn't want it to get horribly worse.  He has this calendar that comes with stickers to decorate and whatnot and I saw that he had put a "sick day" sticker on yesterday's date the night before, with a question mark. Ha! I felt the exact same way. Will it be? Won't it? Having to wake him up for his early school is a bummer if I'm going to end up keeping him home anyway, so I just decided to make it official and let him sleep. Later when he asked why I hadn't come into his room to wake him and why it had been so light when he woke up, I explained that I had let him sleep in and he called me on my pre-meditated decision to keep him home. I always have to pretend to hem and haw about it because, as we all know, we can't let the kids win and give them any ideas, see.

Later in the day I took him to the store along with a jar full of his saved coins. The three of us had guessed how much there was. I guessed $9. Julian guessed $15 and Sean guessed $21.  Guess what, I suck at this game because the total was THIRTY-THREE DOLLARS.  Geez, man!  He was shocked and we took his voucher to the cashier to get his moolah. I was paying for my boring items and handed her the voucher, intending to have her cash it separately but she put it towards the cost of my stuff. "NO!" I basically shouted. "I want the cash!" She didn't understand and I had to explain it was his money.  Anyway, it messed up the whole system and it took forever and infinity to work out but I pressed it and the boy got his hard-earned cash money. 

We then ran in the zero-degree-with-a-windchill-of-buttfreeze  parking lot to the car that had apparently decided to die. Sean came to bail us out in that buttfrozen parking lot and fiddle with all of the car junk and plugs and hook-ups.  We all made it home and then he packed back up, declaring he was going to go to the appointment to meet with the insurance people now, had work still left to do, but would do it tonight. {straight mouth, straight eyes emoji}  And I told him, "Sean. Thank you for doing all the horrible things. YOU are the true meaning of Christmas" before I swooped my ice hands up his shirt and sent him yelping and flailing, and on his way.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Candy Art

Sean is still in the "garbage" phase of his artistic endeavors. He's also looking at things already in existence to frame here and there to throw up onto the wall (if Sean were here, he'd make a barfing noise, as he always does when I use "throw up" that way. He'd also probably angle his noise and gesture toward a wall. And then I would laugh, as I am now, picturing throwing up art onto a wall.)   I thought I might do a little art tour for you throughout the month and show you the things he's created, collected, or merely framed, thus making it "art."

Today is one he did about a month ago. I don't know where he got this cardboard. I think it was just some packaging material that came with something ordered.  I vaguely remember him treating it in some weird way-- he filled the bathtub and drenched the pieces, I think. So he could easily shape them, I guess? I am super involved.  Anyway, it's up now and totally cool. I love the sense of depth and optical illusion-y feel it gives and, of course, that it looks like candy canes.  Christmas art!

BONUS FUN
In the glass, can you find:

1. Jen?
2. the Christmas tree?
3. the window with the rectangular neon "merry Christmas" sign that flashes and gives our neighbors seizures?

 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Sunday Santa


My mom has a little statue of Santa Claus kneeling down at the baby Jesus. I remember looking at it and being a little confused with my feelings toward Santa and those toward Jesus. I think I believed in some kind of magic when I was a kid (that sentence is super depressing) but not necessarily a human man who actually delivered toys. I know it never excited me to see a Santa at the mall or anything. But I remember not knowing for sure just where the presents came from.

Julian, on the other hand, DOES believe in a Santa figure, though he doesn't care about any mall Santas either.  One Christmas Eve when he was probably three, we rang giant jingle bells outside his window and he heard them and I feel like in that moment, he truly believed.  I don't really know why I perpetuated it since I have some ambivalence toward Santa. But maybe last year's letters to Santa changed my feelings on the matter. I think it teaches a kind of faith that a kid can understand and, frankly, get super excited about. It's silly and frivolous and eventually may be shattered when they discover the truth {nervous teeth emoji} but there is good there. Maybe magic and faith aren't so different.

Yesterday we had a Christmas party with the neighbs. It was delightful and though all three of us, actually, aren't big crowd people, we did our best to festively chat with everyone and it was great to get to know people better.  A woman next door brought her grown daughter who is mentally handicapped and so wonderfully childlike in the best ways possible. I absolutely love talking with her because there is no pretense, no judgment, no guile. I always walk away from her feeling happy. She is a tender heart who jokes and fiercely loves the things she loves, things I most definitely can get behind. Her mother told me they take a yearly trip to Las Vegas to see a certain Santa at a certain mall because one year, they stopped to visit him there and had an experience. Santa attentively asked this daughter questions and her mother watched as she shared a special moment with him. She tried to take their picture but one of the workers prohibited it.  Afterward, having left, they walked outside and passed Santa who had just stepped outside. He then said loudly, "Just taking a little break! If anyone wanted to take a picture with me, that would be fine!" and it was then that this mother knew this was the Real Santa.  So, though there isn't much else for them to do on these trips to Vegas, they go down to visit him every year.

Some people may say it's sacrilegious to put so much emphasis on what might be adversely called a pagan symbol. But in spite of varying beliefs or attitudes, one doesn't have to completely extract the religion from a thing if one chooses not to. Let us allow for some overlap, especially when it involves things that truly matter like love, kindness, and friendship. And not get upset that Sean, quite pleased with himself, drew over this picture. He stuck it in a Christmas book and it makes him chuckle to himself every year.


Saturday, December 03, 2016

Peas on Earth

Every once in a while when i'm out food shopping I grab a bag of dried peas. They are extremely addictive and I can eat a bag in one sitting, no problemo. They do much to satisfy the salt craving. As I sat stuffing my face with bits of crisps stuck to my cheeks and fingertips   eating some the other day, I saw the back of the bag which looked like this:


And I read "contemplates" like con-TEM-plates.  Like, cun-templit. (this word is very hard to type phonetically. I am struggling)  Like template. And when I finally figured out what the actual word was (took me a long time) and how weird my brain was, I contemplated on what a conTEMplate would be and whether or not it should be a brand name or some computer term or something.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Bedtime Stories

Julian has really taken off with the reading. This summer we checked out a gazillion books and i think that's what did it.  It's so great because I have been holding onto basically all of the books from the ages in his bookshelf knowing that, though he may be a bit old for some of the younger ones, they might get some use by him, this time as the reader.

Except not really.  He loves being read to and it's not like he doesn't like funny stories or fiction but he never seems to want to read the "childish" storybooks I always want to read.  He wants to LEARN things, pshh.  I realized this more when I figured out that when Sean puts Julian to bed they sit in the dark for forever and talk about stuff. Life. Science. History. How things work. Julian asks his questions and Sean gives his answers.  Something came up the other day and I mentioned it to Sean who said the following funny thing. While I'm over there like, "C'mon, Julian. Let's look at these Little Golden Books,"  this is happening. (Sean:)

"I told him about Sputnik tonight. The only way to do that properly was to set up the Cold War."

I laughed and made a comment and Sean continued:

"I tried to tell him about the decimation of the American Bison the other day..."
 Ha ha! Meanwhile, as a Christmas side note, I'm gathering my thoughts on the presents this year which is proving to be a bit tricky. I realized that Julian doesn't have a ton of toys. I don't really know why. Maybe I'm a scrooge and don't give him any. But I kind of feel like giving him more this year, especially if that might help with having other kids over to play. Sadly, they too do not have a direct cranial hook-up to Julian's brain so I feel like we might need some external physical devices to keep them entertained. Anyway but Julian is... different. I do not know what kinds of toys he likes because he doesn't really play with any. I feel like I have to force him. He likes Legos and will tinker around with the tinker toys here and there. But I'm kind of at a loss as to what he might really like. Here's an example of what he wishes for for Christmas when I asked him a question in the car the other day:

"Julian, what would you write in a letter to Santa?"

Julian replied, "Oh, I'd probably ask for an extra set of arms."  To which I of course replied,
(mixing it up a little. p.s. for a good time, google image "stunned face cat")

And then he continued to describe how these arms would be mechanical and sort of have a mind of their own so they could do his math homework while he could do other things.  We had many follow-up questions.

Also in his list to Santa-- super strength and the ability to walk through walls. So you see my conundrum, right?  I mean, I guess I could get him his own set of Encyclopedias...  but that might ruin my Christmas. Plus we have Sean. So i dunno.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

25 Days of )en 2016

It's 9:23pm. The day is almost done. I'm tired and feel wholly without words.  It's almost too late. But not quite. As happens regularly, my brain is in need of a writerly shake up and 25 Days is just the thing to do it.  Despite the word lethargy, I am determined. Determined to carry on this magical Christmas tradition of the utmost importance to me, myself, and I.  I WILL have blog posts to post for each day. I WILL blog about Christmas things. I WILL try not to repeat myself.   I told Sean the other day that I felt like I had to dig so much deeper to find goods to post. In the old days (I'm sorry for always talking about the old days) I could just step outside my door and a story would immediately happen to me. The constant excitement was a way of life. But here I must work harder to find it. I must search diligently. But you know, i can't blame my lack of inspiration on my surroundings. So I won't.  I will be self-inspired! And I'm determined to find the magic, even in the mundane.

And that's my goal. Find the everyday magic. For every day.

Right now, you get to see my tree.  Get THIS.  We got a fake tree.  I knoowwww.. whaaat?  Read here.  And it's finally happened. I've had a serious change of heart and have made the switch. Probably not FOREVER.  But maybe? When we told Julian, he was upset for he loves going out to get the tree. But maybe since last year was the saddest tree gathering experience of my life, he might not feel like he's missing out on too much. We even thought we might get a real one for a different part of the house but, meh. We'll see.   Anyway, my reasons:

I wanted something different.

And that's about it. Plus it came with lights. Major score. Here it is. Flocked in all its flocking glory and I love it. Everyday Christmas Magic: Day One.


See you tomorrow.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Prophetic PG-13 Spoonerism


HA! i've been scrolling through my blog post drafts because you just never know when you may have a hidden gem from 2010. And voila.

Now, I've done 30 seconds of research and found that the word "sext" was officially put into the Merriam-Websters dictionary in 2012 but that the term was first published in 2005.  If I compare myself to other technology-users, then in 2005 I may have just been getting my greedy little hands on a pink razr flip phone.  Never really in the know about the latest hot ticket item, maybe sexting was a thing before I wrote this blog post but I certainly didn't know about it. So consider me a prophetess, even though it may have already been happening and the term invented.  I do seem to keep inventing words that have already been invented.  ("nowstalgia," for example. And I was so excited about that one.)

Here it is, my time capsule blog post, dated May 2010: 

I need to tend a sext.
ha ha. Kind of funny. Kind of. I wonder what it would mean. 

***

Also: I've been re-watching the show Selfie and it's soo great.  I love mocking popular culture but also drawing attention to it as it threatens to become a serious problem.  An epidemic. As an opportunity for a little social-psych analysis and self(ie)-reflection.   Anyway, go watch it today. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

You know you're not from around here when...

So a couple of weeks ago we were at my parents' with the fam and grandkids. After a rousing eternal, actually, game of Yahtzee, we were all sitting around chatting.  Some comments were made about my 13'ish-year-old nephew's hair and I mentioned it looked a lot like mine and we should swap hair tricks. More hair talk about this and that.  And then this exchange took place:

My sister:  There's this jazz player who has hair that all the kids are trying to copy these days.

Sean and I both:   Really?  A jazz player? That's so weird.  Had no idea the kids were into that...

A few more lines like occurred before my sister clarified it was a JAZZ player, from the basketball team. And everyone laughed at mine and Sean's mega-nerdiness and our identical brains going nowhere NEAR the sports team jazz but both immediately going to jazz the music. Imagining some super hip trumpet player or something.  HA. 

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Big 13

Sean and I had our anniversary the other day. I don't like celebrating our love in a specific, contrived, designated kind of way. It puts too much pressure on the both of us, so instead I celebrate it every day in every way because he is truly the BEST husband I have ever had. 

Thirteen years, whaaaat.  I remember telling people we had been married for three and how that felt substantial. Yeah, three years under our belt! And it is, compared to one day. You learn a lot in those three years.  But man how I love having ten more. Being newly married sort of feels like an unnatural state of being. It's fun and exciting and all the lovey newness is a bit intoxicating but that's just it-- it's sort of druglike, the intensity of which just can't be sustainable. It also can be a rough learning curve. This sounds dreary, and I don't think you can't have that giddy lovey-ness for the remainder of your marital days, but coupled with time and shared experiences, it feels a bit more grounded and much more rich. 

And that is how I feel. All the things I loved about Sean then, I still do now. Just a hundred-fold. He's still clever, witty, quiet, smart, interesting, strange.  I've learned how to adjust myself accordingly, not in a stifling kind of way but a self-monitoring, self-refining kind of way. He's taught me so much about art and, though I've always loved it, it truly is the soul of life and has become a vital part of mine. He is good at so very many things: Handicrafts, woodworking, cooking, assembling, constructing.  He remembers everything he ever learned and shares it with Julian, (and me when I'm lurking in the corner, listening).  We share ideas, jokes, views, opinions. We have much in common and he is my favorite person to pal around with. 

If you'd like to read about when we met, click here. But if you'd like a summation of what thirteen years of marriage looks like, read on. 

I have been sick of late. Going on day 8. It's been a doozy, exacerbated by a tennis lesson and a chilly Halloween night, both worth it but now I'm bluhhhhhh. {x-ed out eyes}  For the past couple of days I have been determined to stay put and just freakin' get well, even though i'm going insane with all the cooped up'edness and, even for me, the do- nothingness. (not to mention the lameness of being sick)  Last night he and Julian were out and I sent him a passive text that went like this:


JEN: Lemons
         Bananas
         Are some things I might get at the store


SEAN: Good to know!

And of course he picked them up. And he even called me from the store to double check something. But during that time, in my sick stupor I was thinking, I should really tell him to get a bunch yellow and a bunch of green, since smoothies are an important part of my life and I have very specific and strong feelings about my banana preferences Aaaahhhh yellow and green, yellow and green. But I never did it tell him.  So upon his return and the putting away of various grocery items, I saw the bananas and I put a hand on his arm, and with all the croaked tenderness I could crackle, i spoke the words:

"You got a yellow bunch AND a green bunch!" {heart, heart, heart, cry face}

And he said, "of course I did.  I know how you get bananas."

{heart}

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Villains

The villain is always the interesting character of a story.  I guess we like the hero too but there's just something about the villain. Like in Harry Potter, Snape seems like a villain, and in a lot of ways, he is one. He's complicated. Voldemort is the least complicated villain and, though scary, I think there are those who agree that Dolores Umbridge was the worst, most twisted villain of the whole series. Voldemort is bad, but he's just like, straight up evil, want a lot of power, will kill anyone who stands in my way, bad.  Umbridge is bad + fluffy cats and bows and torture quills but pretending it's not. Yipes.

But I'm going to talk about some specific villains today, and they are those who feature in a disneyland commercial I've seen a lot lately. It shows a bunch of Disney villains sitting around a table together, being all chummy, and laughing at their wickedness about taking over Disneyland.  And it's weird, and I think more about it every day.  So I've decided to break it down and measure each one's actual wickedness, or villain-ness. Villaineity?

Here's the picture:


The only people with speaking lines are Cruella DeVille and the Ursula the Sea Witch.  The whole circumstance is amusing. Like, what kind of dungeon party would that be? Who would be the leader of the group? The most outspoken? Who's the lame duck who just sits quietly by, happy to be part of something.  These are the questions I ask myself.  So.  From left to right (and I may add other Disney villains to this):

1. Maleficent.  Aside from Cruella, she has the best name.  It's bad but also beautiful, I suppose like she is.  I'm not doing any background research on these characters because that's boring. And I didn't see the Angelina Jolie film. So from what I know, sheee... has a beef with the king and queen? From what I remember from the old version, she's mad she didn't get invited to the new baby's christening but shows up anyway and then curses the baby, that when she turned sixteen, she would prick her finger on a spindle and die.  That's pretty bad.  But, like, she could have just killed the baby and the whole castle right then and there, yeah?  So she gave her at least sixteen years to live? Still, that's not long, and that's pretty wicked.  On a scale from 1-10, I give her an 8.

2. Frost Man. Jack Frost? I don't even know who that is. I'll have to skip this one.

3. Queen from Snow White.  Ok, it's been a long time. She wishes to be the official (according to her magic mirror) most beautiful woman in the country but that honor consistently goes to Snow White, her step daughter(?)  In a fit of jealous rage, she sends her away? In the woods? Details are fuzzy here. Snow White lives with dwarves and the Queen doesn't know this? Until she uses her magic mirror and she STILL isn't the fairest of them all, that Snow White is, so she must still be alive. Queen disguises herself as an old hag and tempts Snow White to take a bite of poison apple, which doesn't kill her, but puts her under a spell where she will sleep forever, as if to be dead, unless woken/saved by true love's kiss. There are lot of things wrong with this, but if how I remember it is correct, that's not SO bad. She puts her in a deep sleep with a contingency plan. I mean, she must not really mean it if she puts all her bets on the most beautiful girl in the world not getting a boyfriend at some point. This may be superficial of me, but come on. And isn't it that a prince just walks by, sees a pretty/dead-appearing face in a glass box/tomb and kisses it? Do the dwarves take him there? I don't remember, but to me, Queen doesn't seem so bad.  I give her a 4.

4. Captain Hook.  Pirate living in Neverland, hates the lost boys, most of all Peter Pan. Because Peter can fly and Hook can't? Because he's a kid who never grows up and Hook is jealous? He's always going after the lost boys but they don't seem too afraid of him. He fights Peter Pan but something tells me if it had really come to it, Hook wouldn't have had the guts to finish him off, as he claimed to have wanted. (Not really sure if that's true)  He's kind of a pansy.  I give him a 2.

5. Jafar.  Jafar is pretty bad.  The Sultan's aid, he yearns for power and seeks after it using mystical methods like magical lamps in lion-y sand caves in the desert.  He's an interesting bad guy, somewhat multi-dimensional, which I appreciate.  He leaves Aladdin in the sand cave for dead-- pretty bad. He decides, having possession of the lamp and being magicked into a Sultan, takes Jasmine to be his enslaved lover. That's pretty twisted.  But instead of forcing her in to doing things he determines to make her LOVE him, which he tries to wish for but doesn't work, (as we all know, with magic lamps). So that's something. He just wasn't loved as a child. It's pretty sad if you think about it. So I consider him a pretty bad guy, but a sympathetic bad guy as well. Someone with a bit of charisma, who you might root for a little bit.  I give him a 7.

6. Cruella DeVille. She's pretty awful. She kidnaps 99 dalmation puppies to merely to kill them to turn their coats into one big fur coat for herself. GROSS, Cruella.  She could probably get a coat using a mere handful of adult dogs-- so why puppies? Are their coats better? It just sounds super cruel-la to me.  And she's legit terrifying. Remember when she's driving after the puppies? She turns demonic.  I give her a 9.

7. Ursula.  Such a good name. This is one of the best villains, in my opinion.  Talk about personality! You almost like her at times, right? Back in the day I loved her song from the whole film best of all and memorized it word for word. And she's not THAT evil.  So she wants to be Queen of the Sea and for Triton to be no more. So she traps his daughter Ariel into signing this contract saying she'll give Ursula her voice in exchange for legs.  It's all devious of course, as Ursula unfairly attempts to thwart Ariel at every turn, but why the contract in the first place? She could have zapped Ariel into a little worm creature and held her for ransom, right? I mean, maybe not? Maybe i don't know her magic. Maybe it has to be contractual in order to be used.  Though, she did have that collection of other mer-people she'd turned into sea worms. I can't remember the circumstances. Could they not uphold their end of the bargain as well?  Whatever the details are, Ursula has style and pizazz and makes things interesting. I give her a 7 for wickedness but also feel like she might kind of be a cool friend. Hmm. What does this mean?

8. Queen of Hearts.  I don't remember much about her. She was pretty bad, right? Pretty scary? That whole movie is scary. I give her a 9.

9. That's it out of these characters.  I've given it some thought and if I had to choose, right now, the WORST, most evil villain of all of Disneydom, I think I'd have to give it to Scar, brother of Mufasa, king of the plains (or whatever) in Lion King.  1. He's the King's brother and he lets Mufasa DIE getting trampled by a hundred wildebeests.  He's holding onto him with his claws and he lets him go.  THEN, he makes *googling name of son*... Simba believe that it was HIS fault! His own nephew! Ugggh! That's messed up, bruh. (ha ha) Seriously though.  So that Simba will run away and that he, Scar, can take the place of King. I mean, nobody really liked Scar but he kept the depth of his evilness a secret for so long. They just sort of laughed at the quirky grumpy lion brother/uncle. But no. He's bad.  It's simple wickedness and villainry, I will grant. But the family stuff just makes it so bad, especially for a Disney film.

Ahhh I'm happy to have finally gotten out my thoughts that swirl around every time I see this commercial.  Do you have any of your own? Do you agree? Disagree?



Friday, October 21, 2016

Thursdays and Fridays

Last week Thursday wasn't my favorite day for various dumb reasons. But one thing happened that cheered me up a bit. I was sitting in Julian's class waiting for their writers workshop to start where I walk around chatting with the kids and maybe help them spell words. One kid--we'll call him Luke-- sits across from Julian and is obsessed with Jurassic Park and it's just way too cute because he knew I was too, presumably because Julian told him. I imagine him telling this friend and it just warms my little heart. And it's really hard to make Luke stay on task because I, too, just want to talk about velociraptors.  But I can't.  Gotta focus, Luke.  Before we started though, another woman who was also helping out walked up to me and the exchange went like this:


WOMAN (big smile, enthusiastically):  HEY there!  

JEN: Hey!

WOMAN: I'm ______'s mom, are you helping out too??

JEN: Oh! yes. Wait, do i know you?


WOMAN: No!

JEN: Oh! So you're just really friendly! I thought you knew me and i was like, 'heyyy...buddy!'"

(so as to joke with her about pretending to know someone who knows you even though you do not know them.)

WOMAN: (joke does not register. Continues:)  So, whose mom are you? 

JEN, laughing internally: Julian, right there.

WOMAN: Oh, fun! What's your name? My name's _______.

JEN: My name's Jennifer. Good to meet you, ________.

WOMAN: you too!

And she walks away.

And it was awesome because it was pret-ty awkward and, as we all know, moments like those are my bread and butter. But I sat there thinking, ok i know I can come off kind of reserved or... what, unenthused? Not like, NOT excited. Just.. you know, neutral. Chill. Just sitting there waiting for writers workshop.  And she really approached me-BIG smile, as if she knew me. So it's not totally my fault. My awkwardness is not totally my fault, I tell you! Also people here are really, really friendly.

And then the day ended and I woke up the Friday morning dreaming the weirdest dream ever. My alarm went off and against all the odds of the morning, if we hurried, Julian and I would have time to walk to school. It's a-mazing how long it takes that kid to get his shoes on. And that's the only cliche mom thing i'll say in this post.  BUT FOR REAL.

Anyway, the sky was cloudy, the sun just peeking over the mountain giving the morning a pink tint and it's my favorite time of day. The air was warm, the leaves were swirling in the wind blowing alongside us like a buddy and it was a glorious, glorious morning.  I decided to mow the lawn afterward which is always a good choice because something funny, magical, or interesting always happens when I do. The last time I mowed I pushed the open trash can and, because it needs to pivot on the wheels, the lid was too low and yup, i slipped and tripped on it, knocking both of us down, and i got cut grass in the face. It was THUH best.   

This time, since we have a tree planted sort of in the corner quadrant of our corner house, i had made a vow to mow in concentric circles around it, which i did, and which was kind of hard. I asked my neighbor to look out her upstairs window to tell me if it looks cool but she hasn't gotten back to me. I wonder if she thinks I'm joking. But anyway, while mowing, I saw a big green bug on the side of the house. What is that? i thought. And after a few more passes I realized it was a katydid!  Fun! Yay! Leaf bugs! I never see them. Thinking they are special and rare, I ran in the house and grabbed a jar with which to capture it and show to Julian later.  I easily knocked the katydid into my jar and, feeling pleased, rounded the corner of the house when I spotted a tall pretty rose on the bush and there, sitting atop, staring me down, was another katydid. ! I gave a yelp, highly unsettled.  I felt a little uneasy because, having just caught one, I thought it was weird that another would immediately appear, perhaps to guilt me? I was also a little scared that if I turned around I'd see dozens of katydids all sitting there, quietly looking at me.  It's Halloween-time and I get all hitchcocky, you know.

I considered capturing the second bug as well and giving them as weird gifts to friends or neighbors but decided against it. Instead I took its pic, and here it is:



And thus concluded a successful Thursday to Friday transition.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Halloween Julianism

Earlier this month it was my niece's tenth birthday. We wanted to get her something fun but cool, and maybe a little bit more grown up, so Sean and Julian went to a home goods store and selected a pillow made out of brown'ish faux fur. Pretty cool. I'd take that present.

This cousin of Julian has been over a few times and expressed a love and desire to snuggle our cat but isn't allowed to have one of her own. So Julian and Sean rehearsed sort of the gift explanation (giftsplanation--probably unnecessary but I feel like this happens a lot. You know how you need to explain gifts) when she opened it.  It would go as follows:

"Since you like snuggling a cat but aren't allowed to have one of your own, we got you a furry pillow to snuggle."  

Or something like it.  Awww how friendly, how thoughtful, right?

So when she opened the present and Sean prompted Julian to say his line, instead out came THIS:


"WE SKINNED OUR CAT."


And of course Sean and I were like:  



We were in somewhat mixed company but as everyone laughed at what the WEIRDEST CHILD ON THE PLANET said, we, as parents, finished off with a sort of resigned disgust, a somewhat pathetic "soo...happy birthdaaaay..." 


Thursday, October 06, 2016

Take Me In, Take Me Back

Today I woke up to my alarm that, if set just right, is loud enough to be heard through ear plugs but not so loud that it jars everyone awake. It's a fine balance and this morning I was somewhat dragged awake but only for a second. I brushed my teeth and woke up the boy, who likes to lay still, eyes closed, and then say in a totally awake voice, "I'm awake" which is equal parts funny and creepy.  I then kiss on him for a good 30 seconds, before shouting at him 20 times to get going, as is routine.

It was frosty today so I had to scrape the car. We don't park in the garage because Sean has a big table/counter top thing he's been working on for a solid year but that we're in no rush for because frankly, having a garage feels like an extra room. We have the driveway for cars, guaranteed parking, and though I did have to scrape the car windows, I'll never have to dig it out of snow. I'll never have to walk half a mile with my haul.  Our experiences bring a certain kind of luxury and I think about this often.

After breakfast I hugged him extra hard and dropped him off at school which, turns out, he loves, in spite of himself.  I've been thinking a lot about The Old Life lately, as I do from time to time, and time again. I always feel connected, not just because I left a part of my heart there and there it will ever be, but because people I love still live there and tie me to it. I catch glimpses now and then and feel the ever-present tug, sometimes stronger than othertimes. My friend just got married on the boardwalk there and had a friend of hers play and sing the song I and You and Love which really should be called, Brooklyn, Take Me In. I've been hesitant to attach myself to this song because I know so many others who have and I thought, well sure it's a given, but do I really want to sign my name to a club set up as a revolving door for love and pain? I, one of millions, billions or trillions over time. Would it feel generic and cliche and wholly unoriginal? The answer is yes, and also, yes.

I went to a chocolate tasting party the other night with some gal pals. It was awesome and I learned a thing or two about how to properly taste chocolate, something every human should know. The woman instructing us was giving us background on the chocolates we sampled and she mentioned that companies of several of the bars we tasted were based in Brooklyn, and, listening intently, I did nothing.  Often when someone mentions a place we used to live, we react instantly, having staked a bit of claim on it, and make a declaration of some kind to let people know. Though I could do this, and would do this, often I do not because I think I forget. I forget that Brooklyn was ever mine in the dreamlike sense that i can't really believe i lived there for eleven years and question the fact daily. Also because I know I can't really claim it and have resigned myself, that deep down, with most people I interact with, the very real love that i have just does not, will not translate. And I shift gears in my head a bit and I view the place just like someone who had never lived there might, who maybe only knew of it from TV shows and movies, a vague distant-sounding place that could be interesting, sounds exciting, who knows?

But the piece of my heart still beats, probably stuck in the weeds in some forgotten corner of Prospect Park, or hovering near the rocky shoreline of the pier by the bridge. And on days such as this, I drive back from the school and put on the song, and as it plays, so do the strings of my heart, and I cry the very best kind.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Summer Wrap-up 2016

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

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

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

    morning


    middle'ish

    somewhere in the middle

    higher up

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

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

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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On This Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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