Oct. 14: Voters’ Pamphlet thoughts

voter The voters’ pamphlet has arrived! I’ll admit, there are a lot of years that I toss it into the recycle bin without a second look. While I know that votes matter, even in the minor elections, and Oregon’s mail-in ballots could not make it any easier or more convenient, I tend to be one who saves my votes for the biggies. I know this is stupid and senseless.

This year we’re voting on semi-importanter things, so I plan to exercise my right. However, first I want to make fun of things, because making fun of things is fun!

  • Did you know that the order of the candidates appearing on the ballot must be random? So says ORS 254.155. I became thoroughly familiar with a lot of Oregon statutes after writing bylaws for a nonprofit corporation, but I guess I passed right by the ones having to do with general elections. Who knew? (Probably Loveliest Lori. I bet she knew.) This year’s alphabet is OQCNMRDZTHPJAYVIKBUGSFLEWX, in case you were wondering. (What’s with the “bugs flew” in this alphabet? Hmmm.)
  • The information candidates submit for the voters’ pamphlet is sometimes hilarious. The ones who have “the school of hard knocks” or “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart” under “education”? That’s pretty much saying I’M NOT REAL SMART, BUT I’M PRETEND SMART. Seriously, don’t try to tell me whatever you did instead of going to college was just as educational; that’s probably not true and you probably know it. We need people representing us who know how to think. Am I education-ist? Yes. Proudly.
  • Oh, and I’m also comma-ist. Why so few Oxford commas, people? Don’t you know why they’re so important?

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  • “Tootie,” really? The name of this local politician might never not make me laugh. ‘Course, we’ve had “Mitt,” “Tip,” “Newt,” and “Dick Armey,” so why not?
  • US Rep, 3rd district, Pacific Green party candidate, this one’s for you (I don’t want to write your name on my blog). You have some good ideas, but I don’t think anyone will take you very seriously when it looks like your photo was taken under duress and by a police officer. Did you have no other options? Have you not heard of the SELFIE???
  • I do not, and probably never will, understand how the phrases “right to bear arms,” “defending the family,” and “protecting our borders,” so frequently appear with “Christian.” And the justification of denying assistance to the needy? Gah.

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it. (Stephen Colbert)

  • While the Constitution Party concerns me (because, y’know, see the quote above, and also, a party based on a group’s interpretation of their god’s word—yikes), I find the official political party statements fascinating. I mean, they all sound so righteous. I guess they should—you wouldn’t want to align yourself with a party that’s just “meh” about their platform—but it’s almost hilarious how most of them seem to have all the right answers, and they use all the “gotcha” words they know people react to. Nearly every one of the parties has at least one issue with which I agree, but being so firm in others makes me a whole lotta nervous. I want to believe there’s really not a chance of these smaller (read: kooky) parties to get anywhere, but it’s happened before. Yikes again.

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  • ARE YOU TOO DUMB TO VOTE? I chuckle reading some of the instructions to voters, especially the FAQs: “What if I change my mind after I have returned my ballot?” I want the job of whoever gets to answer that question because I bet it involves a lot of slapping. “Do I need to attach first-class postage to my ballot envelope if I return it to a drop site?” Really? I also enjoyed this instruction: “Some families like to make voting a communal event, but make sure the envelope you sign is your own, and doesn’t belong to some other family member. [Do not let] your spouse or child or parent sign your ballot envelope.” SMH.
  • Here’s something I’m not making fun of: people working on making college more affordable. We’re way overdue on that. In fact, most of the measures that have to do with updating educational resources and buildings should pass without argument. They probably won’t, because voters are often jackasses, but they should.

The only state measures I still need to educate myself on are the ones having to do with open primaries (90), marijuana legalization/regulation (91), and food labeling (92). That’s when I’m glad to have the voter’s pamphlet. After that, it’s straight to the recycle bin.

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE! Unless you disagree with me, in which case DON’T TURN IN YOUR BALLOT BEFORE NOVEMBER 5.

jen

Oct. 5: Funny tweets

lmao

Browsing around previous posts to my blog, I ran into this one from 2010. I can’t resist re-running these tweets because they made me LOL several times and I bet they’ll make you LOL too.

wordlust: It is terrible to take away hope; it is worse to take away chocolate fudge brownie cookie cake.

wordlust: “Hulk smash!” has a better ring to it than “Hulk pee bed!”

thedayhascome: The worst part of wearing a cape is the toilet.

fireland: Just bought a little wedding chapel for my model train set. Someday I'll get married there and SHUT UP MA YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT

wordlust: Proctologists should offer exorcisms. If you’re already wrist-deep, pulling out a gerbil, why not scoop out some demons too?

adamisacson: "Wow, this is a dirty kitchen!" exclaimed our 5-year-old's friend, here for a playdate. Still, he finished his bowl of lead paint chips.

See, funny, right? I knew you’d agree. Keep reading.

TheBloggess: Dear BCBGMAXAZRIA: Your brand name is exactly what happens when I pass out on my keyboard.

FarkerPeaceboy: I think what I look forward to most with the Rapture is, as I slowly ascend towards Heaven, peeing on the heads of dirty heathens down below

adamisacson: 5-year-old, waving crayon at me: "I'm coloring you." Me: "Funny, I don't _look_ colored." Oh, hi, fellow restaurant patrons. Nice glares.

gknauss: Alcohol and self-loathing don't mix. Alcohol and heavily-salted peanuts, though, are great. Self-loathing and peanuts aren't bad, either.

nonsequiturific: All Points Bulletin: Dyslexic zombie on the loose. Persons named Brian urged to proceed with utmost caution.

CranberryPerson: It was a perfect combination of foul-mouth tendencies and poor listening skills that led my 3 year old to call my 6 year old a "bustard."

I wasn’t wrong, was I?

essdogg: If your wife tells you to "shut your hole" then, no matter how great or numerous your comeback options are, just keep shutting your hole.

nonsequiturific: Walking around in a Snuggie on slippery hardwood floors can be tricky, but fortunately I have the coordination of an ambulance-needer.

fireland: I think when you see how happy Daddy is on his new jet ski with his new chest hair you'll forget all about wanting to go to college.

adamisacson: I microwaved an "organic breakfast burrito" without stopping halfway to turn it. It was gross! So I followed the directions. It was gross!

lonelysandwich: McGriddle breakfast sandwich, you're on my list. (Incidentally, my list is of foods pee still smells like ten hours after eating them.)

wordlust: Sometimes you have to forget your worries, put on your dancing shoes, and stomp some smurfs to death.

You can pretend you haven’t chuckled yet, but I know you have.

adamisacson: If you've ever voted against new funding for public schools, it's you I'm thinking of as I stand in the self-checkout line.

gknauss: Our disability insurance uses the logo "DI@WORK," or "Die at work." Sometimes, inviting the smart-ass to the meetings is a good idea.

gknauss: We had a fire drill at work, and I panicked and resorted to cannibalism while we were walking down the stairs. Boy, is _that_ embarrassing.

Dogphorisms: If we can put a man on the moon, we can put a dog on the kitchen table. Come on, NASA.

wordlust: Bedhead is bad. Bedpanhead is worse.

Dogphorisms: Unless your homework is a sandwich, a hamster, or that awesome pair of panties, "the dog" did not eat it.

You’re smiling. I can see it.

InSoOutSo: Good morning, pancake frosting. I'm glad I invented you.

hotdogsladies: Hate that part of a cold where you cough and it tastes like Glenn Beck's soul.

essdogg: I'd love to host a spinoff of "This Old House" called "This Old House Is Falling Down Because the Owner Is A Lazy Jackass."

fireland: Superman wears a cape and underwear and everyone's all "yay" but I do it and you're like "don't ever touch my son again"?

bcompton: I guess all of the warning stickers that I had to move to get to the thing that burned me were right.

thedayhascome: Someone with a knife exactly like the one I'm holding in my hand ruined my neighbor's inflatable Christmas lawn decorations.

Just a few more...

wordlust: The death rattle is horrible, but it’s nothing compared to the death binkie.

emilybrianna: ME: You have five seconds to finish that. 5, 4, 3- QUINN: Don't use counting right now! I love counting and you're ruining it with broccoli!

phillygirl: Highlight from mom's office party: "So... your daughter believes in global warming?" "Well, she lives on the West coast."

secretsquirrel: There is absolutely nothing that gravy can't improve. I spooned some into my coffee and could actually feel myself becoming a better person.

gknauss: I'm good all year and ask Santa for the untraceable death of just one live-in in-law and the SOB stiffs me again. Merry Freakin' Christmas.

phillygirl: They could have told me he's a drummer before I challenged him to Whack-a-Mole.

OK, here are the last of ‘em.

CranberryPerson: Santa giveth and Daddy taketh away.

scottsimpson: All of my scary campfire stories feature Ben Kingsley walking briskly toward you with a golf club, because that is the scariest thing ever.

adamisacson: I'm not falling again for the 5-year-old's "eat some spaghetti" trick. It's always Play-Doh. But this fried egg looks delicious. Oh, damn.

wordlust: When I die, I hope they say, “We’re not here to mourn. We’re here to hit on his unbelievable harem of supermodels.”

Dogphorisms: In 2010, I resolve to chew more, pee more, and hump more. FYI, I did all three to your pillow.

January 1: hotdogsladies: Weird. I'm twelve hours into the new year and still writing, "Don't cash this for a couple weeks" on all my checks.

You’re welcome!

jen

Oct. 3: This old house

house Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful that we have a roof over our heads. But sometimes I really, really, really hate our house.

As I was getting up this morning, Victor came in to kiss me goodbye. Ten minutes later, I heard him yell this exasperated FYI from downstairs: I’M STILL HERE. I looked over the rail and saw him with a pile of tools at the front door, disassembling our doorknob. I didn’t need to ask what he was doing—every few years our lock gets all farked up and we get trapped in the house. It’s a simple fix, but it’s still a huge pain in the ass.

That stoopid doorknob is just one reason I really hate this place. There are more. After almost 17 years here, there are definitely more.

  • The seals on two of our double-paned windows popped, I don’t know when, and make it look like we have never cleaned them—fortunately they’re not on the front of the house. Every once in a while I run across the paperwork for the warranty and think I SHOULD CALL, but then I don’t. And then I lose the paperwork again, and the next time I find it I think I SHOULD CALL…
  • One of our cabinet hinges broke. I tried to replace it at Home Depot, but it’s a fancy type that can only be purchased from a cabinet maker. Tina said she found some on eBay, but we’d have to order, like, 489 of them and that’s infuriating because I only really need one. I like to think I’m the only person who notices that there’s no door on one of our cabinets, but I know people notice; they’re just nice enough not to point it out.
  • We have tile countertops, which I loved when we bought the house but quickly came to hate. A lot of our neighbors have replaced their countertops. A lot of our neighbors are smarter than we are.
  • I have a sense that our dishwasher sprays water on our dishes but doesn’t actually WASH them. And it’s not so much that I sense it, but that I see the evidence—pieces of food on many of the “clean” dishes that come out of the dishwasher. Also, its motor runs at 110 decibels, which—as you probably know—is the noise equivalent of a riveting machine.
  • We got a new stove a few years ago, but with the old one went the pretty edging that made it blend into the countertop. The new one sits between unfinished tile edges. It’s not pretty.
  • Our refrigerator has issues too, and while it mostly does its job, I still want a new one.
  • A bunch of our cellular shades are messed up. Every one of them that doesn’t work right is thanks to a pet or kid. They chew the cords, or paw at the fabric, or generally act like house-ruining jackholes.
  • Don’t get me started on the carpet.
  • The fan in our master bath doesn’t work and that means it’s like Florida in there after our showers every morning.
  • One of our master bath sinks doesn’t work. Well, the sink works fine—that would be one busted-ass sink if it didn’t do what it was supposed to—but the faucet is broken. I don’t like sharing a sink with my toothpaste-chunk-leaving, electric-razor-emptying husband.
  • Speaking of faucets, the outside water spigots drip, so we have to turn the water off with the main whatever-you-call-it in the garage. This makes otherwise quick tasks like watering the plants or washing the car a more complicated process because…
  • …our garage is an obstacle course.
  • We have those fancy gutter covers but they don’t work for shit. When it rains hard, a fountain forms near the garage.
  • Our wood floors have some swollen spots that need repair.
  • The outside of the house needs to be repainted.
  • Our deck needs to be repaired in a couple spots, refinished and sealed. And ideally, pergola-d. :)
  • The backyard needs to be terraced and re-landscaped, once and for all. Every few years we fix it up, but there’s just too much of a slope for it to work un-terraced. Victor does not agree with this, but he also hates landscaping work.

The real problem here is that I want a new house, but all of these things would need to be fixed before we could sell this house, and if all of these things were fixed, I wouldn’t workerswant a new house. Well, I’d probably still want a new house but I wouldn’t hate ours as much.

And really, there are things I like about our house. It’s the only home our kids have known. It sits on a street of decent people. It’s the perfect size for our family.

You know what I think we should do? All of us who have handyman skillzzz take turns at each other’s houses and fix the things we can. Like, I rock at painting and finish work like chair rails and crown moulding, organizing other people’s stuff, and light-duty landscaping. Maybe one of my friends can fix water faucet-related problems? And someone else knows a little about woodworking and repair? We could be like Habitat for Humanity, but instead we’d be Habitat for I Don’t Want to Go to the Trouble of Moving to a Different House.

Meh. It’d probably just be easier to set fire to the place.

jen

Sept. 30: Month in review

Tis the last day of September. That fact does not suck.

special days i celebrated this month and how:

Goodness, and also gracious. There were lots of good days worth celebrating this month.

  • Jake and JulianneIt made me ever-so-happy to write “Ladies Liquor Luncheon” on my calendar for Sept. 2. Theresa hosted a first day of school party; after we all shoved our kids out the door, we crazy-relieved moms gathered for good fun. While there’s a rumor that the best parties are the ones no one can remember afterward, this one was an exception—I remember all of it. I remember spending several hours with many of my dearest friends, and I remember thinking I AM SO LUCKY to know these women. I also remember stuffing my face with Cassie’s breakfast frittata and and Jenn K’s delicious salad-y goodness while across the room a bunch of people blathered on about Cross Fit and YES, I felt like a rhinoceros but YES, the bloody Marys and mimosas made it better and NO, I don’t have a problem.
  • (I might have a problem.)
  • September 6 is always a big birthday day on my calendar—my fave cousin Deanna, Kim F’n-W, Dan K, and Trevor L all got older that day. I celebrated by going to Jack’s first football game and seeing exactly zero of those birthday peoples.
  • Our niece and nephew, Julianne and Jacob, each celebrated milestone birthdays this month. Before we ate cake with them, we went to Jack’s football game. Seems going to Jack’s football games is the new way to celebrate birthdays. To me, this is not ideal.
  • My own birthday celebration went on for many days, as all the best ones do. Mother Mary was here and treated us to a lovely dinner… Vic worked his magic on the grill another night… Apple released a new iOS (I consider this my personal gift every September)… Val shoved a yummy lit cupcake in my face… and surprise, surprise, we went to a football game. While there was nothing exceptional about the age I turned this year, I appreciate that I did indeed have another birthday.

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I’ll bet you a gazillion $$ that Dina
doesn’t remember writing this on our calendar :)

  • Mack, April, Lafe, Tina, Margaret, and Hawaii Laura had birthdays this month too. September is a good month for a birthday. Pretty sure.
  • Somebody planned a farewell dinner for a few of the important people in Jenn K’s life, and we begrudgingly went:

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There are so many things I love about this picture that I don’t know where to begin!
But the good-bye part of it super-sucked.

i saw things with my eyes:

Movies:

  • Kinky Boots (Amazon Instant Video). I loved this so much more than I expected to. It reminded me of other wonderfully acted but underrated British films like The Full Monty, Waking Ned Devine, and Saving Grace.  
  • Say Anything… (Netflix). As a proud child of the 80s, I’m embarrassed to say I had never seen Say Anything start-to-finish until last week.
  • A Single Man.  I was slightly disappointed in this one, possibly because I’d heard such raves and my expectations were high. The look of the movie was incredible; the story bummed me out. Colin Firth was all kinds of fab, but Julianne Moore’s portrayal of her character reminded me of Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest—it seemed like it was all a big, over-the-top, pathetic attempt at an Oscar nomination. I don’t especially love or hate her, but her performance here was ridic.
  • We watched Iron Man 3 approximately 12 times this past week. I’m not exaggerating.
  • Bad Words. Slightly sad, but laugh-out-loud funny.

Television:

  • I’m all caught up with Veep (HBO) and can’t wait for season four. I adore this show. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has earned her three Emmys for this show, for sure. The truly unlikeable yet insanely hilarious characters on Veep make Seinfeld’s horrendous four seem like BFF material.
  • Transparent. This is a new original series on Amazon and its cast is definitely worth watching. I’m not too far into the series yet, but they just posted the entire season. Here’s how Slate describes the premise of Transparent: “The title is a pun: As the show begins, the patriarch of the Pfeffermans, a close-knit, affluent, Jewish clan of Los Angelinos, begins to come out as transgender to her children.”
  • New seasons of lots of good shows are finally starting! Yay!

Books:

I’m getting better about putting books down if I’m not enjoying them. This used to make me feel like a failure or that I didn’t give the book a chance, but I also hate wasting my time reading trash. Although I felt like I was reading a LOT more than usual this month, it turns out that many of the books I read went unfinished.

  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green. I read this in honor of Banned Books Week, as lots of concerned parents have tried to get this out of kids’ hands. I loved the book, but I can see why there have been attempts to ban it. I will refrain from going into a long rant about censorship and the (lack of) logic behind banning books, but I will say this: MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS, FOLKS. Geez.
  • Girl Walks into a Bar...: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle, by Rachel Dratch. This was a fun read. 
  • The Group, by Mary McCarthy. Do you ever read the synopsis of a book and feel positive that you’ve read it before but then you start reading just in case and suddenly nothing seems familiar? And then just when you think you were wrong, that the book is new to you, it starts sounding familiar again? That. That’s where I am with this book.

Other stuff:

  • 15217498989_d15ba83ac4_oSo. Much. Football. Our team is 3-1 with four games to go, which is the best record we’ve ever had, but this past weekend’s loss hurt bad. I’m enjoying watching the games more this season than I have in previous years, but my anxiety levels are still sky-high. Jack thinks it’s funny when I say that every injury makes me want to pull him out of the sport. I’m dead serious. It’s hard to see that stuff.

    It’s not just Jack’s team that’s playing all the football, though… it’s the high school games both kids want to go to at least once a week, plus all the games on TV, and every bit of it makes me want to throw things and curse loudly.
  • Although I don’t mind the weather of this season, I really hate seeing leaves falling off trees. This is partly because I hate raking, partly because our yard is designed for spring and will be ugly for the next six months, and partly because, as mentioned above and in every post I’ve ever written this time of year, fall means there’s football on every single channel every single day. But will I use the cooler temps as a good excuse to prepare crock pot meals and wear boots and cozy sweaters? Of course I will.

this month’s good and bad:

  • The kids went back to school. This is a very good thing. I’m still having a hard time believing that Katie is in high school, though—but she absolutely loves it. Jack, on the other hand, acts like every bit of the 12-year-old that he is, and I’m thankful to have a break from his eye-rolling for a few hours every day.
  • Jenn K moved to Alaska. Pffftt.
  • My orthopedist gave me permission to take off my walking cast! I’m wearing a transition brace for now, but it’s too bulky for most of my shoes, so truthfully, I’m playing risky and going ankle-nekkid most the time. So far, so good. Later this week I start physical therapy.

i likes to share pics I’ve found on the ‘net:

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It was real, September. Smell ya later.

    jen

    Sep. 12: Not a fan of the goodbyes

    This is me and Jenn K at a bridesmaids party with ugly hair. Jenn K played the part of Mother of the Bride. :) I recently found out that one of my friends is moving away. Far away. Like, Alaska-far away. Actually, that’s exactly how far away: she’s moving to Alaska.

    When friends move away, it makes life super-suck. I will definitely miss Jenn K, but Dina, Jenn K’s BFF, will be feelings aaaaall the feels. I know this, because my BFF moved a couple years ago. I consider myself kind of a pro at knowing what it feels like to say “smell ya later” to someone you love so much. I’m not saying I know how best to deal with it; I’m saying I’ve been there.

    So, in the hopes of helping anyone else who’s been cruelly abandoned (oh! the drama!) by their best friend, I offer these pointers on handling this un-fun change in your life. Please note that this only applies to friends you’re losing because you’re no longer in the same geographical area, not the ones you’ve lost because one of you chose to dump the other; in that case, at least one of you is an asshole. You should probably work on that.

    1. If you and your BFF currently communicate via text/email/phone calls, keep doing that, and try to do it every day. If you go more than a few days without communicating, it’s hard to catch up again. I’m not suggesting the friendship is irreparable if you miss a day of texting, but it’s a habit that really needs to continue if you want to stay close.
    2. Text each other the stupid stuff that no one else will understand. The little things, y’know? Complain about the weather, traffic, a mutual enemy, whatever. Making each other smile connects you. It’s good.
    3. Plan a visit. You go there, she comes back to you, something. Put a date on the calendar, no matter how far away it might be, because it gives you a goal that feels reachable. Tell yourself, “If I can just stop crying until I see her again, maybe my family won’t hate me for eating dinner without them every night.” BECAUSE OH YES, YOU WILL WANT TO EAT DINNER WITHOUT THEM. You will also want them to stop asking how you are (“I’m sad, just like when you asked me yesterday!”). You’ll want to sit in front of Netflix with headphones and the volume way up so you don’t have to interact with people. You will be a not-very-nice person for an indeterminate amount of time. Know this. And maybe warn your family now.
    4. FaceTime! Val and I have done this with Sunshine several times, and it’s the best. OK, it’s not the best—the best would be actually hanging outjensunnyval in person—but it’s a really good alternative. I recommend FaceTime-ing with a group to heighten the fun factor. (Jenn K, get ready…)
    5. Spend time with your mutual friends. They’ll be missing her too, and can understand your sense of loneliness better than pretty much anyone else. They’ll also get the inside jokes you shared. It’s surprising how good all that feels. It also serves to remind you you’re still a likeable person even though your BFF obviously doesn’t think so and couldn’t wait to move Alaska-far away from you. Which brings me to #6…
    6. You can lay on the guilt as much as you want, but it will serve no purpose except to make her resent you. She would stay if she could. Decisions aren’t easy, and this one was a bitch. Don’t make her feel worse. Or maybe don’t go out of your way to make her feel worse ALL THE TIME. ;)
    7. Write stories about you and her and the adventures you go on together—your own personal fan-fic.
    8. Wait, don’t do #7. That’s just weird and a little creepy. Maybe haiku.
    9. Nope, not haiku. That’s creepier.
    10. Not that haiku is creepy. I loves me some haiku. Now that I think about it, haiku might be pretty awesome. Fine, give it a try.
    11. You will feel lonely, sad, frustrated, and even angry, and there’s really not much you can do about it, sooo… Find something to do with that energy. It can be something that’s good for you—gardening, exercising, making a new BFF out of papier-mâché—or good for your family—cleaning, cooking, learning mixed martial arts. I do not recommend that you put extra energy into anything that requires copious amounts of alcohol or food. I gained five pounds in the week after Sunshine left because my motto became “Only Krispy Kreme understands my pain.”
    12. Remind yourself that everyone says it’ll get easier with time, because it will. You won’t forget your BFF, and you won’t stop missing her, but you’ll start settling into life without her and one day it simply doesn’t hurt quite so much.
    13. Have a friend like Val, who is super-fun and will drink excessively and say all the potty words with you. Because sometimes you will need to drink excessively and say all the potty words, and when that happens, well, let me give you my number because whoever you are, I’d be delighted to be your Val.

    I’ll close by saying that although Sunshine and I aren’t the friends we were when we lived nine houses apart, when we’ve hung out since her move to Arizona, it’s been easy to get back into that comfortable place we used to be. While I still miss having her in my life every day, I love how we don’t set expectations for each other as long-distance friends; we just are who we are, and it’s good. I kinda ♥ her tons. She’s a keeper.

    I’m grateful to have lots of dear friends in my life, actually, both near and far. It’s a mutual effort, this friends thing, but the ones that are in it for the long haul will be always do what has to be done to be present in each other’s lives. This I know for sure. And I love it.

    jen

    Aug. 31: August in review

    August 2014 is just about done. Septembers in the Northwest are usually quite lovely—still warm and sunny, but not god-awful hot. Also: KIDS IN SCHOOL AGAIN FINALLY OMG I’M SO GLAD I THOUGHT THEY’D NEVER GO BACK.

    special days i celebrated this month and how:

    • We had Victor’s birthday party. It rocked, mostly. We know a lot more nice/fun people than assholes, and that’s good when it’s time to throw parties.
    • Katie registered for high school. Eek. I’m happy for her, but GEEZ, it seems like just a few days ago that we were trying to teach her to count.

    i saw things with my eyes:

    • We went up north to see our niece, Abby, perform in a musical. It was big, silly fun; Bellevue Youth Theater has a cool program.
    • Welcome to Sweden and The Hotwives of Orlando are semi-amusing time-wasters.
    • I think I would be soooo good at doing a Drunk History episode. Not actually being on the show, just recording one. My great-great-great grandchildren will be so very, very proud. What a legacy. :) 
    • The Simpsonsevery episode ever” marathon has been playing almost non-stop at The House of Manullang for the past ten days. LOVING. IT.
    • This is exciting pretty much just to me: I got new dishes, and the full kitchen sink never looked so pretty. My mom gave me ten of the cheeriest, colorful-est gifts EVER:

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    • Sweet Maya. She’s adjusting so well in her new life as a Manullang. I think she loves us pretty good:

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    • My rock star nephew started a new band, Tetherball. They just released a single on iTunes. He’s also a goofball—check out the video teaser he stars in for the song (below). And if you care, the guy who sang lead for The Rouge has a new band too: The Almanacks. Stephen produced their album. Stephen, apparently, can do anything and is pretty much the greatest.

     

      this month’s good and bad:

      • We spent a LOT of time in doctors’ offices this month. I don’t know how all the appointments got scheduled like they did, but there was one week where every morning we were out the door EARLY to see one professional or another. None of them gave us bad news, so YAY!
      • One of the appointments was an eye exam for Jack. You’ve probably noticed in photos that he wears his sports goggles as regular glasses, which has never made me very happy but at least I don’t have to worry about girls chasing him. ;) Since he’s been ready for a new prescription for a while now, we encouraged him to get regular glasses in addition to a new pair of goggles. He couldn’t find frames he liked, though, and I knew if I forced him to choose a pair he wouldn’t actually wear them. And THEN the optician suggested we check out the Nike line of frames. Jack’s grin went ear-to-ear, and $300 later he was wearing normal glasses again. (I have several four-letter words in my head over this, and the last one is “Nike.”) He was disappointed that the swoosh sticker on the store lenses weren’t on his prescription lenses, but there are swooshes on the temples, so that’ll do. <cue this mom’s eye roll>
      • A new season of football has begun. Jack is on a junior varsity team this year, and practices until 9:30pm several days a week. Crazy. I am sooo glad Dina’s kid and mine are on the same team again this year. I’ve got our flasks all filled and ready for the first game next weekend!
      • I worked quite a bit in June and July, but not at all in August. I really haven’t minded all that much. The free-ish time let me concentrate on other things, like…
      • Katie decided to switch bedrooms. You think it’ll be a pretty simple, quick project, but then it goes all week long and you regret ever suggesting it when she complained that her room was too small. I think we’re finally done moving, but somehow a bunch of stuff ended up in the master bedroom and I hate when our room becomes a dumping ground. Grrr.

      i likes to share the silly stuff:

       

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      14912044747_d108b0f7b9_o 

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       14912045557_f8a371a0d3_o

       

      15075607336_c637726842_o 

       

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      For all the people who complain that smart phones have killed decent communication:

      15098238092_075e25d91d_o  

      Well, that’s it for August. Bring it, September.

        jen

        Aug. 18: I can read.

        read I’ve been making my way through a huge stack of books this summer, thanks to not being especially mobile. While I do enjoy reading, I also enjoy walking around, and this has not been the most adventurous summer for me personally/physically. It’s been VERY adventurous if you count living vicariously through stories other people write.

        And I totally do count that.

        This summer I not only visited spots around the world, I traveled back in time to do it. Here are my most recent reads in the category of historical fiction.


        I was on the Titanic for The Girl Who Came Home, by Hazel Gaynor. Here’s the review I left on Goodreads:

        I've been a bit of a Titanic geek for as long as I can remember--my dad was fascinated by the story, and I was too after the wreckage was found when I was in high school. I'm still intrigued by new and different spins on the disaster, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. You don't hear much about the *families* of Titanic victims--what it was like to say goodbye or prepare for arrivals, hearing the first reports of the sinking, waiting for the final list of survivors, etc. I enjoyed that part of this fictional account of the event. I appreciated the glossary of Irish terms/expressions, and that it was necessary--dialogue seemed genuine. As for the rest, I say "meh." The book reads like a first draft in some ways; there is a lot of repetition that a good editor would have cut. With little exception, the characters were not very interesting, but they could've been with a bit more development and better details about the immigrant culture of that era. Readers unfamiliar with Titanic facts will be left wanting more, as this book is pretty much "the ship shook, people panicked, first class was full of dumb jerks, lots of people didn't make it to a lifeboat, sad sad sad." I certainly wouldn't expect a minute-by-minute account of the sinking, which has obviously been written about extensively elsewhere, but it was definitely not given the pages it deserved. Overall, the fictional parts all seemed a bit too tidy in an effort to give the book a happy ending.

        I was in Guernsey to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I didn’t review it on Goodreads because I couldn’t think of anything to say about the book that hadn’t already been said. However, it is an absolute delight, and I recommend it highly.

        I was in Afghanistan for And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini. I truly enjoy Hosseini’s writing style—it has an Amy Tan/Anne Tyler quality to it—but I did not love this book as much as his others. Here’s my Goodreads review:

        I give this four stars because although the book was fascinating and beautifully written, ultimately all its separate parts felt disjointed to me. The stories of Parwana, Markos, Adel, and Idris seemed unnecessary. It was jarring to have the narrator's voice change because it sometimes took several pages to figure out who the voice belonged to and what the connection was to the story at the beginning of the book. It's quite possible I thought the book should've been about Abdullah and Pari (and their ancestors/descendants), but Hosseini's intention was to tell a broader story, in which case I just didn't "get" it.

        Right now I’m in China. It’s taking a very long time to get through Imperial Woman: The Story of the Last Empress of China, by Pearl S. Buck, because it’s approximately eleventy billion pages long. The story is mostly fascinating. I’ll keep at it.


        My to-read list is very long, but I don’t mind adding to it. What do you recommend?

        jen

        Aug. 14: Back, baby.

        imback For a while there, my blog was dying a slow death. Blogging frequently is a habit that has to be developed, for sure, and my habit has gone in waves over the 15 years I’ve been writing—there are times I have so much to share that I can’t hit the “publish” button soon or often enough, and other times when most of what’s happening in my life is not write-about-able.

        In the past several months I’ve opted to considerably filter my writing, which I’ve never been all that careful to do. I started journaling on paper again because putting my thoughts into words is so therapeutic for me—I realized I needed to get them down, whether anyone else could read them or not. And now, as I look back at the things I felt I couldn’t/shouldn’t share on my blog, I see that some weren’t really that big a deal anyway; I plan to write about those in coming weeks. Others were a big deal and still are, and those will stay in my journal for now.

        It is not my intention to be all mysterioso and vague, so I’ll give you an idea of some of these things—though I think most of you already know.

        • Now that I’m nearly four years post-treatment, I try to keep the cancer talk to a minimum here. When a person is told their cancer is in remission, it’s easy for an outsider to think of celebrating and being done with it—y’know, move on, next chapter. But it’s not that simple, because cancer doesn’t just end. Follow-up tests go on and on. Side effects linger. Fear and frustration are enemies that like to hang out on the fringe of everything I do. While I have welcomed the return to many of my pre-cancer ways of life, there are some things that have been forever changed by my experience, and I deal with them regularly. Some of it really sucks and because I don’t want it to suck, I try to fold those things in with the rest of life—because I am alive and I do know how fortunate I am for that and I am moving forward—but there are always challenges. You would tire of hearing about them as often as they come up—trust me on this. That’s why I don’t write about it often. But to the people who might think GEEZ, SHE’S STILL TALKING ABOUT CANCER???, I have a middle finger I’d like to show you. Maybe two. And I know other people who’d love to show you theirs too.
        • A few years ago my relationship with a person who had always been—and I thought always would be—in my life came to an abrupt end. She made accusations, I tried to explain myself, and she said she refused to get in a pissing contest. I took that to mean there was no sense in me arguing (that is what that means, right?), so I backed off. She then decided I did this because I was angry, and now blames my anger as the reason we don’t speak. I find a tiny bit of comfort knowing that I am not the only person she’s done this to. But ugh—it’s like dealing with my grandma all over again: nothing is ever her fault. So, if this is such a big deal, why don’t I write more about it publicly? One, because it would annoy the hell out of whatever audience I have here. And two, because I feel an unreasonable duty to protect this person. I know it makes absolutely no sense, but there you have it. 
        • I’ve occasionally mentioned that I deal with depression and anxiety. It’s surprising how many people still think these are not diseases but “moods” (oh, they are soooo not moods), and that they’re a choice, that it’s just a matter of deciding to be happy and deciding not to worry. Some of the people who think depression/anxiety = psychopath are people I love, and when they’re vocal about it, I take it personally. These illnesses are complex and un-fun to deal with, and it’s not exaggerating to say they affect EVERY part of one’s life. I am able to keep my head above water and am generally living a normal human existence, thanks to things and more things. winky
        • Partly related to the above item, I have been trying to avoid blogging about whatever is inciting my latest rage or concern (though I will make exceptions for topics like, oh, OUR HEINOUS HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION). These triggers push me up on a soapbox that can get me in trouble or make me seem highly unlikable. That ain’t good. Worse, my triggers can send me into a funk from which I find great difficulty to recover. For instance, I’m not writing about Robin Williams, even though he’s been on my mind so much this week. I have thoughts, I do. They could be spread across several posts and I’d still have more. But for purposes of self-protection, I just can’t let myself dwell. (I do want to share, though, this beautifully composed sentence I read on a fashion site, of all places, immediately after the cause of Robin Williams’ death became public; I think it is such a realistic way to describe the tragedy of suicide: “There’s such agony in the fact that a person’s delivery of joy to everyone else can be so inversely proportionate to what they find in themselves.”) Sooo… rants? Only sometimes. 

        Looking back to 1999, when I first started my blog, I remember thinking it would be a great way to keep family and friends up to date with our lives. It certainly has served that purpose well over the years, and I suppose that’s the biggest reason I can’t just chuck the whole thing. (Pssst: If you read Stuff Jen Says from 1999-now, really fast, it’s like a flip-book in which you can clearly see the route I took to bonkersville. Yaaaaaay.)

        heartI also remember what a powerful tool my blog became while I was fighting cancer. I often wonder how else I would’ve felt such a strong sense of support and love—it really was an amazing thing to behold. That’s why, when I was diagnosed with cancer again in January, this was the first place I came to share the news. Many of you sent positive and  uplifting messages, and I felt ready to face the fight with a big ol’ army behind me. And THEN. Then I was incredibly embarrassed to pull it all back when, in March, my doctors decided that I didn’t have cancer after all. Happy news, yes, but humiliating to share. If it seems ridiculous that I would be embarrassed by such a thing, please just put yourself in my shoes; I felt like people would think I announced a recurrence just to get attention. (People do shit like that, y’know—I know someone who calls herself a “cancer survivor” because she once had a suspicious mole tested. It was benign, but BOY, does she like to act as though she knows what it’s like to have fought cancer.)

        When it was time for getting re-tested for all the cancer stuff this summer, I shared with just a few people what was happening. Three weeks in June and July were spent in pretty much non-stop appointments and phone calls related to this testing. Now that they’re over, I feel okay to blog about the results, which are really quite simple in summary, and YES, SHE IS STILL TALKING ABOUT CANCER:

        I had a PET scan mid-June and the same spots that lit up in January lit up again. It was scary and pissed us off. There were only slight changes in the size of the spots from the last PET, so that was good. They decided to do another needle biopsy (owie), which, just like the one in March, came back negative for cancer. Hooray! But don’t celebrate just yet… The radiologist wants to test again in six months because he thinks it’s very strange that these spots continue to act like cancer on scans. If they light up again, my oncologist says we’ll do an open biopsy, which is a surgical procedure. Pfffftt.

        So we wait.

        I hate the waiting. Waiting for these things is a trigger. My mind goes to dark places when there’s waiting. These places are deep and gloomy and it’s easy to get lost on the paths that lead to even more murkiness. Dark places are not fun or funny or light or silly or cheery or anything of the things I prefer in life. They’re dark. (And they’re places.)

        I don’t think I should blog from the dark places. I really try not to.

        Moving forward, my plan is to make blogging regularly a habit again. I would like my blog to do what it was originally created to do—keep our family and friends up-to-date with our lives. And yes, that means it won’t always be fun and happy, because life is not always fun and happy. But I have always tried my best to turn the dark stuff a teensy bit lighter. “We laugh to survive,” right?

        And we avoid some topics to survive too. winky

        jen

        Aug. 8: Big ol’ milestone

        My husband celebrated his 50th birthday a couple weeks ago. Fifty! Fiiiiiifteeeeeeee! I am married to a very old man.

        I had planned on throwing a monster-huge party for him, but then came The Summer of The Broken Ankle; I feel absolutely useless in this cast. For a while I thought we’d still have a party, just a couple months late. Victor kept reminding me it was no big deal, but I say that’s just ridiculous—you can’t let a 50th birthday go by unpartied for! The subject came up again two weeks ago and we both kinda decided to just plan a last-minute thing and hope our nearest and dearest could make it.

        And most of them did. Yay! We got together last Sunday in honor of the elderly guy who lives in my house.


        506
        Sonya and Victor

        507
        Dina, Vic, and Val = The Trio of Pure Spectacularness™

        501
        Theresa, Tina, Dina, and me

        50b
        Blaine can almost do a pushup with Val sitting on him!
        I love the crowd of kids around them, in complete awe of Blaine’s strength.
        (That’s what he thinks, anyway.)

        50c
        Two of my neighbor-friends, Cristina and Trudy. Ring pops!

        50d
        Randy, Jim, and Jeremy.
        I have no idea what they’re doing, but I see the tequila is still sealed...

        50e
        Cassie’s got her hands in the air like she just don’t care.
        Is Tina sleeping?

        50f 
        The kids lined up chairs all across the street and waited for a car
        to come so they could blow horns at it.
        Good thing our street’s not busy; they got tired of waiting and gave up.
        <cough> Idiots! <cough>

        50g
        My BFF April couldn’t join the festivities, but her mom did!
        Pat and Darlene are friends from college. (I love that.)
        I think they’re talking about how they can’t possibly have children 50 years old.

        503
        Theresa, Dina, Val
        (I love these girls so much)

        504
        Some o’ the kids.

        505
        More kids.
        Randy’s still barely taller than Blaine (who sooo looks like Dina in this pic, BTW).
        Jack is a dork.
        Mack is blurry.

        508 
        Happy recent 20th anniversary to Randy and Dina!
        She got a gorgeous rock, sure, but Cassie’s got the real ‘spensive bling.

        50i 
        I asked guests to write out an answer to this question, and
        the slips of paper are saved in a jar that we’ll treasure forever.
        Or at least until Victor goes senile and forgets his name.

        50j
        The cupcake picks were colorful and sarcastic and fun.
        We also had big jars of candy with pun-ny signs and DIY goodie bags:
        “thirty sucks” (lollipops)
        “forty blows” (gumballs)
        “fifty rocks” (chocolate rock candy)
        “kiss middle age goodbye” (Hershey’s Kisses)
        “treasure your youth” (candy necklaces, ring pops, gold chocolate coins, etc.)
        I hate puns, but I do love cute birthday party décor and excuses to have candy.


        I was thrilled to have a great turnout of our family and friends in honor of Vic’s big birthday. The kids were a surprisingly lot of help in getting things ready, and so were several other cool peeps. Extra-special thanks to:

        • Kristen and Matt, who helped with the last few prep duties and, most importantly, figured out how to use the automatic corkscrew. The people who were happy about that were REALLY happy about that.
        • thanksSonya, Chris, Julianne, and Jacob, who made the trip from Issaquah. It wouldn’t have been the same to celebrate Vic without them.
        • Darlene, who brought homemade goodies. She always makes such good stuff—it’s, like, almost too pretty to eat.
        • Dawn, who said she’d bring delicious treats as long as I didn’t give her credit but guess what? I’m totally doing it anyway. Thanks, Dawn! I’m so appreciative of your bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers that I’m not posting the pic of you and the potato salad.
        • Alec (our nephew), who gave up a chunk of his weekend to attend and represent his part of the family. It was nice to have him with us.
        • Mother Mary. She couldn’t actually be at the party, but she happily shared purchases from across the state line.
        • Cristina, who let us borrow important party supplies.
        • All the people who brought refreshing bottled beverages. We have a few parties’ worth in leftovers—there’s an FYI that ought to get us on a guest list or two.
        • Val, who took most of these photos.
        • Nikki, Mack, Lauren, and Phoebe, who helped Katie and Jack decorate and do last-minute setup.
        • Everyone who was super-sweet to Maya. This was her first big group, and we were pleased to see her do so well.

        Party guests whose true identity I shall protect to the grave until someone asks me who it was:

        • The person who lost track of her kid. Like, it was midnight and we were yelling up and down the street. Because I lost my kid too.
        • The person who stood in front of the open freezer for five minutes looking for ice. She couldn’t quite focus on the tiny 20-pound bags at eye level until her son pointed them out to her. And then she looked at him lovingly and said, “Thank you. I love ice.”
        • The person who forgot her shoes at our house. How does a person leave a party barefoot? Maybe after you’ve stared at 40 pounds of ice for five minutes…
        • Friends and family who wanted to be at the party but couldn’t make it, as well as the friends and family who didn’t want to be at the party but came anyway.

         

        50a
        Here’s what the kitchen floor looked like the next morning.
        It was so, so disgusting.
        I blame the kids, their soda, and whoever opened the tequila.

         

        As I’ve cleaned up and put away party supplies this week, I’ve taken extra care not to destroy any of the age-specific stuff—we’ll need it again in four short years when it’s time to celebrate me turning the big 5-0. Yikes. Really, that is all I have to say about being so close to 50: YIKES.

        shock

        But congrats to YOU on making it to 50, Victor! And thanks for giving us a reason to party.

        jen

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