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A Tale of Two Blogs

I’m struggling with this idea of having two blogs. I know it’s a bad idea—everyone tells you not to do it (and after six years of owning a Mac, I JUST learned how to make an em dash. Excitement!). However, I’ve been told I need to have a social media presence as an author (please say that word with a slightly drawn-out, British accent), and I was able to obtain the domain jennifersbrown.com, which is the name I’ll be writing under. This domain, the jennyandadam.com, is a leftover from our wedding almost 13 years ago. Not quite the professional demeanor I’m hoping to portray.

Also, I’m pretty sure I don’t want those who find my blog through my writing (I know, I know! Cart before the horse. Blah blah blah) to be able to look back on all the toddlerhood escapades of Doodle Boy and Sweetie Pie (remember when those were their names, rather than Doodles, Pie, or just the boy and the girl?), and more importantly, all my bourbon- and gummy bear–fueled parenting (I can make an en dash, too!).

On the flip side, I assume most people come here for my snarky take on my life, and don’t care at all about my writing research, my genealogy research, my writing life, my reading life, etc. So I keep that separate blog. Occasionally, though, the question comes, what do I blog about on which blog?

I think what I’ve decided is (and I may change my mind; I do that often) if it’s snarky and family related, it’s here. All else will be there. Two blogs may not last long, but I shall see where this whole writing thing takes me (could be a fad, you know. I’ve only been doing it for thirty years, so it may not last).

What this boils down to is, if you’re looking for all the details about our recent family trip to Cuba, head on over to the other blog at www.jennifersbrown.com for all the (not terribly salacious) details. The trip was fascinating and I don’t have much snark to impart about it.

I will say that the quote of the trip does go to my boy. “Can we not go away anymore?” he asked.

“We don’t have to. I had hoped to go to New York in the spring, but we can skip it,” I told him.

“New York is okay,” he said. “American cities are okay. I just don’t want to go to another country.”

“How come?”

“Because we go to another country and it’s all history, wars, and art. I’m just tired of it.”

That’s what happens when you disconnect a middle schooler from the Internet for an entire week. To see what else happens in Cuba, hop on over to the other blog.

Back with more snark as it happens.

Conversations That Will Horrify the Grandparents

Me: My first check will be coming in soon for my novel. We have to start planning my tattoo.
Boy: No! Your next tattoo is supposed to be our matching tattoos when I’m 18! Our matching dragons!
Me: We’ll do that. But I always said if my novel got published I’d get another tattoo.
Boy: Well then tell them not to publish it for seven years.
Me: Are you crazy? Are you telling me you’re not going to get any other tattoos?
Boy: I’ll get other tattoos. But after we get our matching dragon tattoos.

Can’t wait for him to go to college and tell folks that his cool dragon tattoo across his chest matches the one on his mommy. He’s going to be a real lady killer, folks.

Truck You, Snow!

People here go stupid crazy over Truck Day and not only do I find that annoying, but I find it more annoying that when people say “Truck Day,” I know what it is. In fact, not only do I know what it is, but I know where those stupid trucks are going. (Truck Day is the day when the trucks are packed with the Red Sox *equipment* [Yes, the equipment. Not even the team] to head down to Ft. Myers for spring training. The only thing more exciting [not to me, thank you very much] is the day that pitchers and catchers report, which is February 20 AND WHY DO I KNOW THIS, PEOPLE? That is valuable brain space that could be spent on so many more important things, like how does Bruce Jenner feel about the fact that he is no longer referred to as “Olympian Bruce Jenner” but as “Reality TV Star Bruce Jenner”?)

Even my own husband, when I complained about my Facebook feed being taken over by Truck Day texted me, “I was just about to post on FB ‘TRUCK DAY!!!'” According to Adam, “It’s like the New England version of Groundhog Day, [but] the answer is always ‘It’s almost spring!'”

Bostonians are morons. Including the ones to whom I’m related. Or maybe especially the ones to whom I’m related.

I know I’ve been MIA, but I’m happy to report, I’m done with my manuscript revisions so I am now free to write again. It’s hard to write while I’m writing. But now that I’m not writing, I can write. So here I am.

As I imagine everyone knows, we’re going a little snow-crazy here in Eastern Massachusetts, and I’m going even more stir-crazy because on top of the six snow days we had in a three-week period, I got a bonus two days stuck inside as Pie had a nasty virus. Luckily, she’ll get in one day of school before the one-week February vacation during which another blizzard is coming. Fun, fun. (I’m ignoring the darkening skies that are occurring right now, and the flakes that seem to be fluttering from the sky.) The whole thing would be enough to drive a person to the bourbon cabinet, but I have it on good authority (hi, Peter!) that I have a cousin on the Left Coast (hi, SB!) who reads this blog and fears for the well being of my liver and my sobriety. I would like to assure Cousin SB that both are well intact, and in fact, I have embraced “clean living.” Since January 1, I’ve had only a couple of drinks and–gasp!–no gummy bears. And, I will say, that there is a distinct possibility that I talk about bourbon more than I actually have the opportunity to drink it. That is not the case for gummy bears. When I talk about eating gummy bears it is because I am actually eating gummy bears. Mmmmm, gummy bears.

I’m a little ramble-y today. Sorry about that. That’s what happens when you’re as cooped up as I am. (Coops. Chickens. Chickens go peep peep. Suddenly I crave Peeps. Where was I?) Seriously, the snow is horrific. I wanted an award for taking the compost out, but no one in my family acknowledge my great feat of environmental do-gooding. Heck, I wanted an award for finding the compost bins.

There are two compost bins in this photo. Can you spot them?

There are two compost bins in this photo. Can you spot them?

But we’ve had some fun. There’s been saucering with the boy (“Climbing back up the hill is soooo hard!”) and snowshoeing with the girl (“This is too tiring!”). There’s been excessive computer and iPad time while I yell from upstairs, “I said BE QUIET! I need to finish my revisions!” There’s been a few days of slow-simmered red beans and rice and soup bubbling on the stove. And now I’m done. I’m ready for this stupid winter to be over. Which is good. Because we’re only expecting, over the course of the next four days, 12 or more inches of snow. And on that note, I will type the final “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” into my manuscript and send it off to my editor, and I’ll leave you with images from the snowy northeast.

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When Jews Get Excited for Christmas

On the way to the airport for our annual New Year’s trip to my home:

Me: We can start tracking Santa!
Adam: Oh boy.
Me: There he goes! He’s over Japan now. Hey there are two trackers.
Boy: Duh.
Me: I didn’t know. Both Google and Microsoft had to get in on the action. I can get an app! How do I get the app?
Adam: Why the hell do you want the app?
Me: Duh. To follow Santa. Hey, look! You can order a certificate from Santa.
Girl: Really? That’s cool!
Me: It’s really too bad we don’t believe in Santa. We’d be awesome Christians. Well, maybe not Christians. More like Santaists.
Girl: Where is Santa now?
Me: Headed to South Korea. Do you think he’ll skip North Korea? Maybe somebody hacked Santa so he skips North Korea.
Adam: You know, that really calls for some silent contemplation.

Note: checking out the apps, some are a little creepy. One promises: “This app allows you to follow Santa’s every move at any minute from anywhere (not just on Christmas Eve.)” Given that Adam doesn’t like it when I IM him about his children’s pooping habits, I have a hunch he’d really not like me texting him about Santa’s.

After much debate, I did download the free NORAD version. Adam said, “If I knew that that would keep you so busy on car rides, I’d have suggested it ages ago.”

Merry Christmas to all you SantaistS and all others observing tonight’s holiday. We will raise a stone crab claw in your honor. (Another idea I had that was shot down: I suggested we buy at the airport Legal Seafood live lobster and bring it home to pit it against a South Florida stone crab to see who dominated. Adam didn’t even acknowledge that one. Probably because he knows the New England shellfish are WEAK! Go crabs!) (And if anyone cares, at this moment, Santa is in Mongolia.)

TMI*

*Too Much Information. In other words, this post is not for the faint of heart. If this is you, move along.

 

 

(Still here? Okay.)
Yesterday morning, the boy picked up a piece of mail from my gynecologist that was sitting on the counter. “What’s this?” he asked.

“It says my lady parts are good,” I told him.

He opened the paper. “What’s a pap smear?”

“It’s a test women get to make sure everything is doing okay down there,” I said.

“How do they do it?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, thinking about how one explains a pap smear. “The doctor takes this thing called a ‘speculum’ and she puts it inside the woman’s vaginal canal and she cranks it open.” I make eh-eh-eh cranking noises here. “And then she sticks a long Q-tip inside of me to reach my cervix so she can take a tissue sample to make sure there’s no cervical cancer.”

“A speculum?” he asked.

“I bet we can find a picture online,” I said, and in a few minutes, the boy and I were engrossed in an article from The Atlantic called “Why No One Can Design a Better Speculum.” We only got through the first page because we had to leave for school but the first page really gave all the info we needed.

Also yesterday morning. The girl is, um, backed up. I fed her an Ex Lax and sent her to school. When I picked her up today, there wasn’t much movement. So of course I told Adam. Because wouldn’t a father want to know about that stuff?

Me: Pie still hasn’t pooped.
Me: Oh, wait! She might be pooping. Not sure.
Adam: We have the best IM conversations.
Me: Listen. I can have IM conversations with someone else, if you don’t like it. I’m sure the Duchess would be fascinated to know about your daughter’s bowel movements.
Adam: \o/
Me: If the boy can handle speculums, you can handle poop!

Oddly, I didn’t hear from him again. Whatever.

And if anyone wants to I.M. about poop–or speculums–just give me a buzz.

Get Out of the House!

Remember those horror films and stories of old, in the days before Caller I.D. and cell phones? The babysitter/cheerleader/helpless pretty blonde girl of some sort is alone in the house and she’s receiving threatening phone calls? She calls the operator who researches the calls. The operator calls her back and yells, “Get out of the house. The calls are coming from INSIDE the house!” At this point, mayhem and death usually ensue.

While no one in my house is trying to kill me (at least not overtly–Pie is clearly playing the long-game here on driving me to madness and perhaps death), I did have my own experience with this.

I received one of those lovely Facebook messages recently:

Hi Jenny,
We detected a login into your account from a new device named “Firefox on Linux” on Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 7:38pm.

Operating System: Linux
Browser: Firefox
Location: Arlington, MA, US (IP=00.000.000.000)

Note: Location is based on internet service provider information.
If this was you, please disregard this email.
If this wasn’t you, please secure your account, as someone else may be accessing it.
Thanks,
The Facebook Security Team

“Huh,” I said to Adam. “That’s odd.”

“You should go change your password,” he said. “Just to make sure.”

I clicked on the link that read “secure your account.” And I received a message that read (I’m paraphrasing here), “The I.P. address is the one you are currently logged in on. Are you sure it wasn’t you?”

The calls were coming from inside the house.

I asked Adam, “Did you try to log in as me?”

He shook his head. “No, not me.”

I had my suspicions at this point. “Doodles!! What the hell are you doing to my accounts?”

“Me?” His poked out of his room with his customary “hey, I’m lying” wrinkle of his forehead. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Did I mention that just a week before this, he asked Adam, “What does [the password I use to log onto my computer] actually mean?” Adam warned him he shouldn’t be messing around my stuff.

I didn’t think much of it, because I knew he was doing something, I just didn’t know what. And then I found out (and he doesn’t know I know, unless he’s smart enough to read this blog occasionally just to find out what I DO know!) that the little bugger had taken one of Adam’s old laptops (and I mean old–think ten-year-old IBM ThinkPads, heavy as a sack of bricks), installed Linux on it, and is trying to infiltrate my accounts.

What does he think he’s going to do? Post a status that could embarrass me? Doesn’t he realize that 1) I embarrass myself so much that there’s really not much he could do to make it worse and 2) payback is a bitch.

I’m sort of torn about what to do. Do I confiscate the laptop? Or be impressed at his skill? I figure this is the story he’ll tell about how he got started, either when he’s the CEO of his own multi-billion dollar company or from a jail cell trying to explain how hacking led him to a life of crime.

And in the meantime, if there are any truly odd Facebook or Twitter posts from me, you’ll know I was hacked. By my own son. Freakin’ doofus.

The Post in Which I Need to Unbuckle My Belt

Why’d you let me eat so much? Seriously, this past weekend was one of total gluttony. My parents and my sister stayed with us a couple of nights, and for the Turkey Day itself, Adam’s brother came with his wife, his kids–Dutchie and Lalune–and his wife’s sister. His wife and her sister are ACTUAL twins as opposed to the Tweedle Twins who are twins in name alone. The real twins swear they’re not identical. I don’t believe them for a second.

Surprisingly, everyone got along quite well and the only ones arguing this past weekend were my sister and me. My sister and I have some deep philosophical differences that threaten the very core of our relationship. She is a do-gooder who likes to follow the rules. I am in the “more bourbon!” camp. Never the twain shall meet:

Tweedle Twirp: The recipe calls for three tablespoons of bourbon.
Me: Put in five.
Tweedle Twirp: I’ll put in a smidgen more.
Me: Put in five.
Tweedle Twirp: There. That was almost four tablespoons.
Me: That wasn’t even close four tablespoons. Put in five.
Tweedle Twirp: It’s good like this. And now to cook it so it burns the alcohol off.
Me: Noooooooooooooooooooo!

Needless to say, I spent the entire cooking day following her around with a bottle of Basil Hayden topping off every dish she had touched.

The second argument we had over the course of the weekend involved children. I am all done with babies. I’m really not much a baby person to begin with. Especially newborns with their pink faces and wobbly necks. But after spending the afternoon with Lalune, who is about eight months old and just about the most laid-back baby you’ll ever meet, I realized it’s not that I don’t like babies, I just don’t like my own babies (nothing personal, Doodles and Pie). Other people’s babies are great! You play with them. Smell their pretty heads. Nibble on their toes. And then hand them back. It’s freakin’ perfection! But I don’t have enough babies in my life. Which is why I’ve suddenly decided that my childless–excuse me, “childfree”–sister needs to have a baby. Luckily, Doodles and Pie jumped all over that.

“I’m not having a baby,” Tweeds said.

We threw reason after reason at her.

All she did was keep repeating, “I’m not having a baby. I’m not having a baby. A baby is not an option. I am not having a baby.”

Little sisters suck.

On a good note, the minute my mom got to the house, she started in on the house projects. She built a new work bench for Adam in the basement. She said to me, “You know you can re-cover those ripped bar stools? If only you had the fabric, I could do it for you.” I’m not ashamed to admit, I forewent all my Black Friday reservations for an early morning trip to Jo-Ann Fabric to get fabric in time for my mother to re-cover our bar stools before having to catch her afternoon flight home. Do I feel guilty making her work in her final hours of vacation? If you don’t know the answer to that is “no,” then you haven’t been reading my blog for very long.

Ugh, my pants still hurt. Seriously, don’t let me eat so much next time, okay?

Proof of Paternity

The boy has a phone. One of the rules of the phone is that at any time I can look at the phone, read text messages, and use them to humiliate. Okay, maybe I never exactly spelled out the “humiliate” part, but I assume it was pretty much implied. I mean, the boy’s been living here for eleven years now. He knows how it goes.

Most of the texts were pretty boring, to tell the truth. But then I found one from Tab. And if ever anyone wanted proof that the boy is Adam’s son, this is it:

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This boy has “software engineer” written all over him…. (And, note, there have been no more text messages to him from Tab.)

Sappiness Is in the Air

I do snark well. I do grumpy. I’m pretty much an expert on whining. But posting things of pure joy is an alien notion to me. And yet… I am happy. No, not happy. Ecstatic.

I’ve said it plenty of times on Facebook, and I’ll say it again here: I don’t do sappy. When Adam and I choose to express our feelings for each other, we dwell in the practical, not the mushy. For instance, he’s been traveling a ton, from time zone to time zone (seriously, in the past four weeks, he’s gone San Francisco=>Boston=>Dublin=>Boston=>Los Angeles=>Boston=>and at this moment he is in Rome), so when he was home over the weekend, he was pretty exhausted. He was passed out asleep on Saturday morning when I went downstairs at 5 a.m. to get stuff done. I realized, though, just after I had shut the door closed tight (our loud door) that I had left my Fitbit in the room. Risk waking him? Or lose the steps? You know how much I care about someone when I am willing to forgo the steps. I spent an hour doing step-filled chores without my Fitbit, waiting for him to wake. Thank goodness he rose before I had to go on my run, because that would have tested the limits of my love. And in return, Adam shows his affection in his own way, like before he left for the airport today, he made sure to pick me up a case of my favorite wine. He’ll be gone for three nights. A case should just about cover it.

So when I say that I there is something that is making me deliriously happy, overjoyed, practically turning cartwheels (okay, that’s an exaggeration: cartwheels make me motion sick) you can be sure I’m serious. What is it? Well, because I don’t want to double post, I’m going to ask you (beg you?) to rush on over to my other blog at jennifersbrown.com to find out what it is. (And, no! I’m not pregnant. This uterus is all boarded up, thank you very much.) Are you still here? Don’t mosey! Go! Now! To the blog!

Now, to clean the sap off my hands. Or rather, maybe I won’t. I’m enjoying it all too much for the moment.

Goofus, No Gallant

I read somewhere that if you’re going to eat candy, you should let the wrappers pile up, because when you see how many you’ve eaten, you’ll stop.

Doesn’t work. I look at the pile and think, “Shit, I’ve gone this far. Might as well eat another five.”
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Did I mention it’s only 9:12 a.m.?

Did I mention my tummy is starting to bother me?

Did I mention I just put another wrapper on the pile? (If you are one of my children and you are reading this, “Ha ha! Just kidding! That’s all garbage I picked up off the street on my way home from walking Pie to school. I would never eat like that. Especially not first thing in the morning. So bad for you. So bad!”)

My son has been a terror these days. He had a doctor’s appointment and we were running a few minutes late. Parking was going to be a bit of a pain, and I was stopped at a traffic light across the street from where he had to be, so I said to him, “Why don’t you get out here and walk to the appointment and I’ll park and meet you.”

“Okay,” he said, hopping out of the car. And then he completely bypassed the traffic light, walked up one the absolute busiest streets in our town, and proceeded to cross in the middle of the street, around the cars. I’m trying to yell at him from the car, “Doodles! You moron! Cross at the light. CROSS AT THE LIGHT!”

By the time I park and catch up with him, I’m furious. “What the hell! That was a complete lack of judgment! How can I trust you to walk yourself places when you do it like an f’ing idiot! Seriously! What were you thinking?”

“Sorry, sorry!” he said. “I didn’t know you wanted me to cross at the light!”

“How could you NOT know that? You are eleven years old and you don’t know how to cross a street? How do you have such a complete lack of judgment! Complete! How do you not know this! COMPLETE LACK OF JUDGMENT!”

Luckily, it was his turn to go in, so my tirade ended, though I silently cursed him throughout. And on the way out, still feeling really snippy, I walked him down to the corner and demonstrated how one crosses at the light. I looked at my kid, shivering in his t-shirt, and I said, “Put on your jacket.”

“I don’t have a jacket with me,” he said.

“It’s October. In the Northeast. Why the hell do you not have a jacket?”

The little twit looked at me and shrugged. “I dunno,” he said. “Complete lack of judgment?”

I. Wanted. To. Smack. Him.

Surprisingly, he has continued to live and thrive.

(Those of you not on Facebook–my dad!–don’t have the benefit of hearing conversations like this between my son and myself, but it pretty much wraps up where we stand these days:
Me: How is it you made it to 11 and you’re still alive?
Boy: Survival of the fittest.
Me: Boy, if there were ever an argument against natural selection, you’re it.
Boy: The sad thing is that I was Dad’s strongest sperm.)

Meanwhile he’s signed up for a hacking contest, and all he wants to do his hack. (And now I’m singing that in my head to the tune of Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance.”) Homework? If he can fit it in. Viola practice? Not so much. Sleep? Who needs sleep? There’s hacking to be done! My boy is clamoring to be a geeking cliche.

By the way, I solved the candy problem. I threw out the wrappers. Now to keep my girl from going through the garbage looking for them (I swear, she does it, always trying to catch me chocolate-handed!).

Milky Way, anyone? I can be forgiven, though. It’s fortification for the yelling I’ll need to do later when I discover the latest stupid thing that boy has done. Maybe I should have two.