Where I Come From.

It never fails that when you ride in a car with my grandparents, you’re privy to bickering that has endured for as long as I can possibly remember. Utterances of, “Backseat driver!” from my grandfather, and “Frank, slow down, the kids are in the car!” as my nana grabs the handlebar above her head can and should be expected. It is not nasty fighting. It is hilarious. It is anchored in affection. It is a part of the script that they have written together over more than fifty years of marriage.

My grandparents met at a dance social in the fifties. He is first generation Italian. She is Irish. My grandmother claims he spilled Coke on her, but he contests that particular memory. Personally, I’m in Nana’s camp because, really, how endearing is that? However they came together, they met and fell in love, although both of their parents weren’t enthusiastic about the Irish/Italian part of the whole thing. They married in 1957.

In 1958 my grandmother had my mother, the first of five children. Those five children married and had eight children of their own. On their fiftieth wedding anniversary, my grandfather stood at the party we threw for them, raised his glass and said, “Fifty years ago this morning, my mother came to me as I got ready and told me, ‘Frank, you don’t have to do this.’ Looking around at all of you, I’m very glad I didn’t listen to her.”  I once asked my nana what it takes to make a marriage last successfully for so long and she said to me, “When you want to leave, don’t!” At the time, I thought it was funny, but in hindsight, like so much of her advice to me, it resonates.

I spent much of my childhood in my grandmother’s kitchen, stirring lovely smelling things and absorbing knowledge almost as fast as I inhaled her cookies. I could make marinara from scratch by age eight. Nana told me more than once that she wanted me to learn these things NOT so that I could cook for a husband, but for myself. She wanted me to learn to be independent and strong on my own—to be my own advocate. She’s opinionated and won’t hesitate to tell you her views on everything from Sex and the City(“Mr. Big really isn’t good looking outside of that character, you know. I saw him on Law and Order and he isn’t very attractive. I think it’s the mystery.”), to great literature and World War II.

My grandmother and I share a love of Scrabble. It’s our thing together–my grandfather isn’t big on it. My grandmother once joked, “If only he’d play Scrabble with me, this would be a perfect marriage.” Now that she is in Florida for the winter, we play “Words with Friends,” which often leads to hilarious and occasionally confusing troubleshooting text messages and phone calls.

She was right. I was also in a different game.  HA!

The alerts that she’s played a word keep me feeling connected to her- she and my grandfather are my touchstones. They’ve been married fifty-five years on my 29th birthday  and they are the glue that holds our family together.

I visited them when they came home over the holidays, and I sat at their kitchen table, as I have done so many thousands of times in my 29 years. I remembered the time that I sat watching them cook together and my grandfather told me, “When I met nana, she was 100 pounds soaking wet!” My grandmother playfully swatted him and declared indignantly, “I was not! I was 102!” He patted her affectionately on the butt and gave her a quick kiss. I remembered the times I snuck up behind the kitchen sink when one of them was doing dishes and squeezed the sprayer while the faucet was running. There have been countless games of gin with my grandfather, mancala with nana, art projects, dinners, celebrations… it’s all there. There are so many things that seemed so inconsequential at the time, but now seem poignant and important pieces of our family history and my own.  And nana and I?  We played Scrabble face-to-face.

I don’t believe in resolutions.  I believe in constantly seeking self-awareness, enjoying the world around you, and waking up each day and deciding what sort of person you want to be, just as you make your to-do list of tasks to complete, and I believe in being grateful every single day.  It’s entirely too easy to take things in our lives for granted.  This year, I’m aiming to wake up each day and give thanks for the important things–even Words with Friends games.

Why I am Going to Hell.

Ah, fall. How I loathe thee. I may be the only native New Englander who hates the fall season. I like football and the fact that ski season is coming, but that’s about it. The days are shorter, the leaves fall off the trees and leave them barren and depressing, and you can’t get a parking space in this city to save your life (college students). But, I’m determined to make this fall a good one and part of that is laughing a lot (Ok, and drinking Harpoon Pumpkin Cider. But we won’t spread that around).

So, I’ve talked before about getting away with crazy stuff when your parents are deaf. How about when one of them is deaf AND blind? That’s right, kids. I’m going there. My dad, on top of being deaf, was blind in the last couple of years of his life due to diabetes complications. This, of course, meant that he didn’t really get out much, and when he did, it was mostly for Doctor’s appointments, or to visit the Lighthouse for the blind, where he was learning Morse Code.

This didn’t mean he didn’t still have his pride, however. Like any ladies man (and lordy, was he ever one of these), he took a lot of pride in his appearance, including his hair (of which he had pretty little). One fateful afternoon during one of our visits, he turned to me, sliding his hands through his thinning crop and asked me the question that strikes fear in my heart to this day: “Will you give me a trim?”

Let me iterate a couple of key points here. First, this was before a burgeoning crop of tutorials on Youtube. I was flying blind. There was nobody carefully explaining each step to me on grainy video in their basement. Second, you think my microwave fire setting record is bad?? Arguably, my track record with hair and hair cutting is worse. I once accidentally cut a chunk of hair from my own head (incidentally, I also burned one, but that’s a whole other story), and as my dad probably forgot- I balded (this needs to be a verb) pretty much every Barbie I ever owned.

You know the deal. You start out thinking you’ll do a “super easy” asymmetrical bob. You chop it and you just need to take off a TEEEEENY bit more on one side…and so it goes. Before you know it, Barbie looks like she’s either slowly becoming a porcupine, or in the first stages of a hair transplant, with short prickly hair sticking out of the holes in her head.

So, there I was, contemplating his request, when my grandfather ever so helpfully piped up, “I have some haircutting scissors!” How was I to refuse? How hard could it be to cut the short hair of a man with not much hair? I wrote (tracing letters of each word) on my dad’s back, “Y-E-S-I-C-A-N.” He was grinning and so clearly happy that you’d think I was Vidal Sassoon. I prepared him and went to work. Keeping my hand steady, I cut in a straight line- from one side of his head to the other. Putting down the scissors and stepping back, I took in my handiwork.

He looked like Shemp.

He put his hands in his hair and said, “This feels great!”

Horrified, I did the only thing a girl can do when she has accidentally given her 48 year-old blind father a bowl haircut.

“L-O-O-K-S-G-O-O-D”

He grinned. I stood there paralyzed. He ran his hands through his hair again. I shuddered.

“W-A-N-T-T-O-C-L-E-A-N-I-T-U-P-A-L-I-T-T-L-E”

He nodded agreeably and I went back to work. Using an upward motion, I hacked away at the very clear…hem-like affect? (for lack of a better phrase) I had created. It was like trying to blend a sculptural hedge. I sighed with relief when the distinct bowl shape started to disappear… Until I realized it had a pretty clear zig-zagging pattern. ***cue Barbie flashbacks***After the time when I was three and I left a butterfly barrette in his hair after playing hairdresser and he went to CVS for something, I don’t know why he thought that was a good idea.

In the end, it didn’t turn out so badly, I suppose. My grandfather thought it was an improvement, anyway. Then again, his eyesight and sense of style was questionable, at best. My dad was happy, though. And me? Well, obviously, I’m probably going straight to hell for lying to a blind man.

Why even the small stuff can and should be unforgettable.

I won’t offer some trite “sorry I’ve been M.I.A.” crap, because, well, it’s been a great summer and I’m not sorry.  Nor am I so conceited that I think anyone’s been chomping at the bit for me to post again.  I am at my best when I write because I want to. Not just to put something up.  So, without fanfare, let’s proceed.

There are some stories that become legendary- that we tell over and over, perhaps embellishing them a bit over the years and taking liberties. Sure, I remember that when I was in first grade, I bit a kid (Totally justified! Maybe. Not.). I remember when my friend Adam told me he spit in my apple juice (LIAR!) and made me throw up in the school cafeteria when I took a sip and saw bubbles that looked like spit bubbles (tres humiliating). Yeah, first grade was a rough year for me. *****cue Barbara singing “Memories.”***

On a random note: I'm glad she kept her nose. Jennifer Gray should've taken a hint from Babs.

On a random note: I’m glad she kept her nose. Jennifer Gray should’ve learned from Babs.

Legends aside, there are those little, lesser known and sometimes never acknowledged again moments that happen day-to-day and while no less meaningful, can so easily fade into the background and be forgotten. Our lives are made up of sequences of single minutes- some more vivid in our minds than others, but altogether, the sum of our existence.

Someone I admire deeply has a philosophy about appreciating every single minute you are given, no matter what. She says (while giving tirelessly of herself) that our lives are finite and our time is too special to squander- it’s the most valuable thing we have. I find myself wanting to live by these words, especially when I find myself wishing away days when I have something to look forward to on the weekend, when the work day just won’t end, or I stand in a particularly long express line, noting that the person in front of me appears to be stocking up for a nuclear Armageddon. Then I think to myself- it will never be August 29, 2013 at 4:30 (or whatever) ever again in the history of the world. It seems so silly, but it helps me slow down and appreciate it a bit more.

image

So, as I went into the New Year, I didn’t really make resolutions. New Year’s resolutions make me insane- I like to do things no matter what time of year it is, but I decided that I wanted a way to remember the day-to-day stuff. I’m talking about the things that make my days a little brighter- both big AND small. I reasoned that in the grand scheme of how I experience joy, laughter, something profound, or simple enjoyment, it doesn’t matter how significant or insignificant seeming something actually is- who cares what it is if it makes you happy?

image

So, I started the memory jar. Not a new idea, I know. I’m not claiming I’m the genius behind it. Anyway, I trekked to West Elm for a suitable vessel, I gathered up what felt like a meeeellion paint chips (when you’re smuggling them out of Lowe’s and Home Depot in stacks, it feels like a million, trust me), some gel pens (don’t do this- they smudge. Get a sharpie pen- there. I just saved you about fifteen bucks.), and “the jar” was born.

image

A fun outing? Something crazy/funny/ridiculous/monumental happens? “That goes in the jar!” It’s actually become a mark of pride when someone gets in the jar (don’t worry, GG- you’ll get in!). Major kudos to my dear friend Pauline, who simply DOMINATES. Also making appearances: concert tickets, museum tickets, fortunes from fortune cookies, a couple of especially meaningful cards, confetti from the Pops Fourth of July Rehearsal, and a few other little trinkets.

MoMA ticket, Mumford and Sons Ticket, cards...and a little  recounting of an embarrassing ski incident...

MoMA ticket, Mumford and Sons Ticket, cards…and a little
recounting of an embarrassing ski incident…

I can’t always keep up with things. I have a running list in a mini notebook waiting for transfer to the paint chips, but it’s really fun to look back and see what’s happened over the year, look at the little things that I would have otherwise forgotten, relive it, remember where I was and laugh. The time it takes is well worth it to make those little moments unforgettable and reminds me to appreciate and reflect on things I may have otherwise forgotten or taken for granted. Well, that, and many of my friends have DIRTY senses of humor.

When I Went to the Big Apple.

Although as a Boston resident and New Englander, I’m contractually obligated from birth to root for the downfall of the Yankees, I really love visiting New York City.

View of Empire State Building from my friend's apartment approximately 2 minutes before the sky opened up.

View of Empire State Building from my friend’s apartment approximately 2 minutes before the sky opened up.

Mostly, I stick to Manhattan and Coney Island (Mermaid Parade, anyone?), so when my friend got us tickets to see The Postal Service at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, I was pretty psyched.  I had a great time in NYC, but full disclosure:  A LOT went wrong (I’m a disaster magnet)- from me forgetting my phone on the way to the train station at 5:15 a.m. to breaking various things, including my ass (ok, tailbone, but let’s call a spade a spade).  At one point, I said, “Screw it.  I’m going to just enjoy the good stuff, because what the hell else am I going to do?”

I figured I’d give you a little peek at exactly how the weekend went.  I give you….(dramatic pause)….my travel  [b]log.

Thursday

Night:

Start packing to head to friend’s (Melissa’s) house, realize iPad is missing.  Have complete and total meltdown, head back to office at 10:30 p.m. in pouring rain, search in vain.  In midst of ensuing pity-fest when “Find my iPad” refuses to work, allow Melissa’s boyfriend to lure me to their place, with promise of wine.

Friday

5:15 a.m.: 

In taxi realize forgot cell phone.  Cab turns around, tacking four bucks on meter.  Taxi driver most certainly going for world record in slow taxi driving.

 6:15 a.m.:

6 a.m. bus finally starts boarding.  OUTLET WORKS- HOORAY! Seatmate questionable smelling- BOO!

6:20-12:00 p.m:

Read trashy books on Kindle entire bus ride- can feel brain cells dying.  Four hour ride turns into six. However, THIS bus doesn’t catch fire, like the last time I came to NYC in June.

Exhibit A. June 2012.  During a lovely heat wave.

Exhibit A. June 2012. During a lovely heat wave. 

12:20-1:30 p.m.

Camp out at friend’s in Manhattan and call nine different stores asking if they have iPad to no avail.  Want to go back to Boston to throttle idiot at Lucky Brand, who said, ”YES…unfortunately, we DON’T have an iPad.”

1:30 p.m.-3:30 pm

Walk mile and a half to MoMA.  Finally, things looking up.  Pay 25 bucks and let MoMA soothe me.

Take particular interest in this painting, as it seems an accurate summary:

oof

This Read/Reap (Bruce Nauman, 1983) had me rethinking my earlier choice of reading material...guiltily.

Read/Reap (Bruce Nauman, 1983) had me rethinking my earlier choice of reading material…guiltily.

Enjoy some other faves:

From upper left:  1 of six prints: Art and Agriculture, Liam Gillick, 2011; Marilyn Monroe 1, James Rosenquist, 1962; Girl with Ball, Lichtenstein, 1961; Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Gray, 1921; Claude Monet, Waterlilies, 1914-26; Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889

From upper left: 1 of six prints: Art and Agriculture, Liam Gillick, 2011; Marilyn Monroe 1, James Rosenquist, 1962; Girl with Ball, Lichtenstein, 1961; Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Gray, 1921; Claude Monet, Waterlilies, 1914-26; Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889…

(To browse check out this link to the ENTIRE  amazing collection.)  I’m a wimp and don’t want to get a license infringement notice, so you’ll have to settle for these and this link.

3:30 pm

Meet back up with Melissa and walk mile and a half back to friend’s apartment.  Get scathing looks/comments for suggesting it was just around the corner.  Apparently, “just around the corner and a mile and a half away” would have been more accurate.  (SORRY, M!)

4:00 pm

Stop at gluten-free bakery for Melissa to soften her up.

This got two big thumbs up from Melissa- lots of butter, apparently.  If this means anything to you- it's at the corner of 39th and Lex.

This got two big thumbs up from Melissa- lots of butter, apparently. If this means anything to you- it’s at the corner of 39th and Lex.

5:00 p.m.

Leave Manhattan for Brooklyn.  Caught in torrential downpour.  Have worst fall of life walking into subway (and I was a figure skater and I’m a crazy skier), humiliate self.  Take five minutes to stand up without throwing up or passing out.  Determine will live and can remember vital details about self. Gingerly make way to Brooklyn and Hotel Indigo.

5:30-6:30 p.m.

Settle in at Hotel- which is fabulous.

Who needs a real chandelier when you can have a trippy mural of a chandelier close-up on the ceiling?  This was perfect for a girl with a head injury.

Who needs a real chandelier when you can have a trippy giant mural of a chandelier close-up on the ceiling? This was perfect for a girl with a head injury.

Attempt to do yoga to stretch back.  Catch view of ass in full length mirror in Downward dog.  Cringe.   Passive aggressively banter about what to do for dinner before show.  Finally decide to wing it.

 7:00 p.m.

Realize will miss opening act, decide to get good dinner instead.  End up at Turkish place with vegan/veg/gluten free options for everyone.  Eat best falafel of life.  Things DEFINITELY looking up.  Told by waiter, “I will never forget you.”  Melissa retorts: “She gets that a lot.”  Unsure if this is a compliment.

8:50 p.m. -10:30 p.m.

Barclay’s for The Postal Service Concert!  Take seats with view of Ben Gibbard’s backside.  No one complains.  General agreement that NY show was 98697687687 times better than Boston.

Home of the Brooklyn Nets- Barclay's!  By the time The Postal Service came on, this place was packed to the rafters.

Home of the Brooklyn Nets- Barclay’s! By the time The Postal Service came on, this place was packed to the rafters.

Objects in picture were closer than they appear.  The energy was electric and the sound quality was unparalleled!  It's times like this i am so thankful for the hearing that I have.

Objects in picture were closer than they appear. The energy was electric and the sound quality was unparalleled! It’s times like this i am so thankful for the hearing that I have.

10:45 p.m.

Target trip for Aleve- starting to really feel that fall in an unpleasant way.  Luckily, store closing, only buy Aleve and not useless crap.  Walk back towards hotel and take in a few sights.  Melissa in instagram heaven.

BAM

For more information on Art in the Streets, click on image.

For more information on Art in the Streets, click on image.

art in streets mural

 11:30 p.m 

Hit neighborhood “hip” bar.  Highly suspicious when bartender has no idea what a whiskey smash is.  End up with decent drink and people watch.  Conclude that I could show up dressed like a cross between Katy Perry and Liberace and no one would bat an eye.  (P.S. If anyone knows an app that could create this image, do let me know.)

3:00 a.m. 

Bed!  Take several aleve in the hopes will be able to move in morning.  Not optimistic.

Saturday

10:30 a.m. 

Schlep creaking body into scalding shower, emerge somewhat more mobile.  Pop more Aleve.  Discover gold earring fell out of ear at some point.  Cannot locate.  Still beat Melissa in the getting ready to go game.

I am ALWAYS ready before she is. ;)

I am ALWAYS ready before she is, but this is because her hair isn’t hopeless and she can do more than throw it up, in her defense.

11:45 a.m.

Check out of hotel, leave name in case earring located.  Not optimistic.  Head to Union Square/14th Street for Farmer’s Market.  Have best apple juice of my life and strawberries so ripe could smell them before spotted them.

Eat this sandwich, made on a park bench with purchased ingredients from said Farmer's Market.

Eat this sandwich, made on a park bench with purchased ingredients from said Farmer’s Market.

With this view of Union Square Park.

With this view of Union Square Park.

2:30 p.m.

Revel in nerdiness and hit “The Strand.” Predictably, purchase tote bag designed by Kate Spade and book of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald (“Flapper and Philosophers”).

the strand

3:00 p.m. 

Head to Central Park.  Miscalculate distance.  FINALLY get to Sheep’s Meadow.  Lots of picture taking ensues.

Central park

Bonus points if you can spot half naked people- there were A LOT of them.

Bonus points if you can spot half naked people- there were A LOT of them.

To end photo shoot, do best impression of a Sears Portrait Studio Glamour shot:

Notice how the light reflects off of BRIGHT WHITE SKIN.  Sheeesh!  I look radioactive.

Notice how the light reflects off of BRIGHT WHITE SKIN. Sheeesh! I look radioactive.

Resolve to get a little sun.

5:30 p.m. 

Head to Penn Station at mercy of kamikaze cab driver.  Emerge relatively unscathed after harrowing trip through Times Square.

times square

Somehow, I made it through the weekend- I was still in one piece, I managed to have a great time, and that, as they say, was that.  A four hour train ride, plenty of pineapple (and dirty jokes), and we were home, sweet home.  I hope your weekend was as zany and fun as mine!

When Technology Turns on You.

I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m actually pretty proficient with technology… aside from television.  For the love of all that is holy- you do NOT need six remote controls (I’m looking at you, *almost* every male I know).  Maybe get this thing (or something similar):

Or something like it!

(click for source/link)

I am also shamefully addicted to gadgets.  Generally, I do not leave the house without my iPhone and iPad.

Let’s talk about my iPhone, though.  Armed with an upgrade after having my iPhone 4 for two years, I fell victim to the iPhone 5.  Out of the box, I was enthralled with Siri and I confess: I asked the customary, “Siri, where can I bury a body?” question, along with several others not suitable for mention here until the novelty wore off.  Once I got Siri to stop calling me “Jennifer,” and subsequently, to stop calling me “Jenny with a y,” I was pretty thrilled with her.  Even months into our relationship, I still loved Siri.   There were lots of ways that she made things just a little easier/faster.

Lately, however, Siri and I just haven’t been getting along so well.  A few weeks ago, I had just emerged from a comedy show with my friend, still laughing at the best punchline of the night (“My weave, my business!”) and discussing how a mention of Mexican food left us wanting a plate of nachos for dinner.

Sadly, we weren’t even in the same state as my favorite place for them (shout out to the amazingly tasty vegan nachos at Garden Grille Cafe in RI!). Instead, we were in Cambridge, it was late at night, and as I’m not as familiar with the lay of the land in this little republic across the Charles River, I decided to consult the ever knowledgeable Siri.  It went a little like this:

Jenny: Siri, where can I get some nachos around here?

Siri: I have found the following recipes for nachos- ***cue list of nacho recipes from the internet***

Jenny (outraged):  Bitch, please!  I don’t wanna MAKE nachos, I wanna EAT them.

Siri:  There is no need for profanity.

Jenny:  Suck it.

Ever since this startling show of maturity on my part, I am convinced she’s turned on me as she refuses to work properly.  It’s like she’s playing deaf.  Or dead.  She’s worse than me playing that stupid “Telephone” game.

Sadly, I now have to schedule things on my calendar myself, google map locations myself, schedule reminders for myself, and horror of all horrors, actually open up the internet application and search for things myself.  Luckily, since an unfortunate voice recognition text to my stepfather in which the word “virtually” was interpreted as “vaginally” and I didn’t catch it before hitting send, I have always texted manually, so no loss there.  Although, I have to say that it’s not really all that lucky that the message went to my stepdad.

I’ve started to wonder: has technology made us [i.e. me] lazy? 

It’s possible.  And likely.  I can’t remember the last time I used a hard copy of ANYTHING when looking up/researching information.  I haven’t used an encyclopedia not starting with “wiki” in years.  I’ve talked several friends down from the ledge after excessive use of WebMD (Apparently, every affliction on this planet can be somehow tied to cancer).  I can buy size tall pants online and not have to go to 76878 different stores desperately searching for anything other than an unintentional highwater.  I don’t have to torture myself trying to think of where the HELL I saw the vaguely familiar actor on TV- hello, IMDB!  This is just the way of things.

Yesterday, I was telling my nine year old cousin that when I was her age, we didn’t have the internet in school.  When she expressed in both her atrocious facial expression and words that this was APPALLING and unimaginable, I joked that my parents had to chisel their essays on a stone tablet back in the day.  I think she might have actually believed me.

If technology continues to turn on me, I suppose you can expect a post on my trip to the quarry to mine my slate, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.  Siri and I are officially on a break.

Why I Stopped Food Blogging.

In 2007 I started a blog called “Colorhungry,” joining the legions of people starting food and cooking blogs.  I reasoned that #1 I knew how to cook thanks to my grandma, who insisted that I learn, “not to feed a husband,” but to feed myself; and #2 I passionately loved to write.  Obviously, I thought, this would make for a SMASHING success.  My overactive imagination (taking a break from pairing me up with Ryan Reynolds- don’t judge)  conjured up thoughts of appearances on Oprah and an invitation to join the Food Network.  I laugh hysterically thinking about this now, because let me just tell you- I got a pretty rude wakeup call and it happened much faster than I could have imagined.

I have nothing at all against cooking or food blogs.  So, why did I pretty quickly grow to loathe my blog?  I resented it.  Every meal became about “Can I put this on the blog?”  It stopped being about the love of food and cooking because it was about getting the perfect shot and writing down a delicious sounding, easy-to-follow recipe (I have so much respect for recipe developers).  The writing started to feel routine and contrived.  Photographing while cooking?  Terrible.  The steam fogs up the lens and you constantly have to wash your hands so you don’t get the camera dirty (and you better keep tons of hand lotion on hand to prevent a rhinoceros-like skin texture).  In the search for the perfect shot, the food often goes cold or loses its luster.  Often, by the time I took a halfway decent picture in crappy light, I was either starving or so frustrated that if I so much as looked at the food for another minute, I was liable to throw a very unflattering fit (don’t judge).

Blogging and writing became a chore because I had boxed myself into this little niche and once I established it, it was very difficult to get out of it.  When you’ve built up one small facet of yourself and that’s all you’ve shown because you THINK that’s what people want, you figure that’s what people expect. I felt trapped.  I never felt like I could write about what I wanted to write about- it was a food/cooking blog and that was that.  Towards the end of Colorhungry, I tried to infuse it with a little more of my actual personality, but by that point, I had lost any passion I might have once had and it felt like too big of a task to try to change it when I wasn’t motivated to do it.

Now, the purpose of this post is NOT to disparage food/cooking blogs.  On the contrary, there are several that I still read and one of my dearest friends in the world is a food/cooking blogger, with a fabulous blog, in which she often branches out of the food/cooking box.  My point with this post is simple.  Blogging only works well when you feel something about what it is you are writing about.  When your writing lacks soul (whether it be passion, interest, humor, etc), it all too often becomes a chore for you and formulaic for readers.  I see so many well-established blogs, of all different persuasions, floundering because the writers have not allowed their blogs to change WITH them.  Blogging burnout is NOT a mythical creature.

I started this blog because I was itching to write again, but this time I wanted to leave myself open to possibilities.  There are so many facets to me- who I am, what I do, what I love, how I perceive the world, that it would be a disservice to MYSELF to limit opportunities.  This time it’s not about how many readers/followers I can get.  It’s not about perks.  It’s not about anything other than the sheer love of writing.  Don’t misunderstand- I am SO THANKFUL to and humbled by everyone who reads and likes this little blog of mine.  This time around, though, when someone responds and connects with me or what I write, it’s just a little sweeter because I know its ME that they’re responding to.  There are A LOT of “theme” blogs out there right now- so many genres to choose from.  I think it’s ok not to fit yourself into a category.  I can honestly say that I have a lot more fun that way.

When your parents are deaf.

First, a couple of items of business.  Numero uno:  I am incredibly honored to have been freshly pressed (that sounds like I was run through a juicer), and I am touched and humbled by the responses I have gotten and those of you who have started following this little blog.  Thank you for reading and for all of your comments – some that made me tear up, some that made me laugh, and one that, admittedly, was pretty gross (to be fair, there was a fart reference in the post in question, so I’ll let it slide). Numero dos: I am recovering from a nasty flu-like virus as I write this.  So, any errors, let’s chalk it up to the Dayquil, shall we?

Now, let’s talk about the good stuff.  No, not the GOOD good stuff.  I’ve told you before- my grandma reads this.  I want to talk a bit about what it was like growing up with profoundly deaf parents.  I’ve never intended for this blog to be about the deaf/hoh experience, but I never thought people would be terribly interested.   Apparently, I was wrong, so, when the mood hits, I’ll continue to write about it.

A while back, I had the following conversation with my cousins.

Lily (Age 12):  So, I invented this thing called sledbagging.

Me (attempting to hide laughter at name of  said invention):  What the heck is that?

Maddie (Lily’s sister, age 9): Basically, you get in a sleeping bag and slide down the stairs.

Me:  What?! Doesn’t that hurt?

Maddie:  Not as much as the laundry basket! That was Lily’s first idea.

Me:  Lily, what the heck are you making Maddie do this stuff for?

Lily:  Do I LOOK dumb enough to try this stuff first?

I, too, forced my little brother to do a lot of questionable stuff, my favorite of which was tying tomato stakes to his snow boots and making him “ski” down the rocky hill in our backyard (no, it didn’t work).  I got away with A LOT because my mother couldn’t hear me plotting and planning.  Nor could she hear the screaming that ensued when my plans went awry, as they inevitably did.

My brother is completely hearing and as a child my hearing was not as poor as it is now, so I suppose you could say that we were hearing children raised by deaf parents.  I’ll preface this next sentence with a “sorry, mom!” but we cashed in on it in every way, shape and form possible.  That’s right- these two innocent looking kids=hellions.  I think I was acting out because I was resentful of my damned hair (I hadn’t heard of frizz ease yet).  Or maybe I was just a brat.

The hair! The sweater!  But look how cute Josh was.  You can clearly see how he got away with everything.

The hair! The sweater! But look how cute Josh was. You can clearly see how he got away with everything.

What, exactly, did we do? We talked back under our breath (I’d be an awesome ventriloquist- you can’t move your lips- deaf parents lip read), we snuck out of our rooms at night and hid behind the couch in back of them watching TV we had no business watching, we hid out in the attic that we were expressly forbidden from entering, snuck out of our rooms while grounded, we would talk to each other from our bedrooms at night, listen to music when we were supposed to be quietly doing our homework or “thinking about what we did,” etc.

I have a really bad microwave track record.  The first microwave (yes, I said the FIRST) I ever set a fire in, my mother was downstairs on the computer and Josh and I were upstairs trying to make popcorn.  The bag burst into flames and we started screaming like maniacs.  I unplugged it and we ran back and forth from the sink to the microwave, putting out the fire.  When my mom still didn’t appear, we cleaned it up and I sprayed her perfume ALL OVER THE KITCHEN.  It was like a Perfumania detonated their version of the atom(izer) bomb.  She came up shortly after we’d repaired the damage, sniffed the air and said, “Have you been playing with my perfume?”  That’s right.  I set a kitchen fire as a child with my mother in the house, she wasn’t asleep or in any other way unconscious, and I got away with it.

Our house was always super popular on Halloween.  It wasn’t because we gave out full-size candy bars or we had fabulously creepy decorations.  On the contrary- my mother loathes halloween.  It really wasn’t her fault we were inadvertently ready for it 24/7, 365 days a year.  Whenever the doorbell rang, the phone rang, or the alarm clock went off, the lights in the house would go on and off, the bed would vibrate (I know, I know- there isn’t a joke on the planet I haven’t heard about THAT one), and an extremely shrill noise went off in short, staccato blasts.  Depending on how many times/in what pattern this occurred, my parents could tell what was happening.  Essentially, we had several elements of a haunted house without even trying.

Sometimes, it would be a bit of a party trick to show off my parents.  It broke the ice.  Whenever I had a new friend over, I’d demonstrate the joys of having deaf parents.  I remember my dad in the kitchen chopping zucchini when my friend Melissa came over for our first playdate.  We ventured to the kitchen and facing his back I said, “I HATE zucchini- that’s all we ever eat!”  He kept on chopping, completely oblivious, and her eyes bugged out of her head.  I actually LOVE zucchini, but apparently, that was irrelevant.

I wasn’t all evil.  I helped a lot.  I interpreted endlessly, I made phone calls that no one would expect of a child who hadn’t hit double digits, and I learned tolerance from a very young age.  I had my heart broken, too.  When you learn about tolerance, you must also learn about intolerance.

In Helen Keller’s time and long before, deaf people were labeled “deaf and dumb.” What we don’t realize, perhaps because many people have not met a deaf or hard of hearing person, is that the attitude persists today.  I’m not talking about the people who have lost a little hearing as they age and go to the mall for a Miracle Ear.  I’m talking about people like my mother, who didn’t hear a thing until she was two years old and got her first hearing aid.  She’s amazing.  She underwent years and year of speech therapy and you can hardly tell she’s deaf when she speaks.  For a profoundly deaf person- holy crap.  I can only hope that if I have children, they will grow up to be tolerant, even if the world itself is full of ignorance.  And they better watch out.  I know all the damn tricks.  And mom, don’t even THINK about encouraging them.