The Thankful Jar

In the last year, I’ve become a Pinterest junkie.

You don’t know what Pinterest is, you say?

Well this is what Wikipedia has to say about Pinterest:
Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”[2] via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. “

So Okay, maybe I’m not a full on junkie, maybe a recreational Pinterest abuser might be more fitting. (If by social-pinteresting we all acknowledge the fact that sometimes hours slip by before I realize they’ve gone. That drool puddles at my feet while I, glassy-eyed and slack-jawed stare breathlessly at beautiful glossy pictures of DIY projects and kids crafts I’ll never actually do) We all on the same page? Good!

But if you, like me, enjoy following other Pinterest-heads I welcome you to follow me at http://www.pinterest.com/jengoldston

I pin things for The Dream House (you know the one), quotes I’d like to remember (especially the ones that center around being nice, since I so often find myself being what one of those Blunt Cards would classify as A Bitch). Sometimes I post things that are supposed to help me keep my house spotless (there’s a whole host of people sitting on their fat asses behind computer screens with pants positively On Fire for all the so-called-time they’ve saved my cleaning schedule).

BUT- every once in a while I come across a Pin that makes it all worth while. A sort of A-HA! moment that reassures me that much like the genie in Aladdin’s lamp, Pinterest still contains diamonds in the rough of its soul-sucking-capabilities.

And so I present to you:

The Thankful Jar
The Thankful Jar

Now I first need to tell you that I found this from a friend on Pinterest, but after some researching, as far as I can tell, credit belongs to http://inchmark.squarespace.com . (Now that THAT is out-of-the-way)…

Let’s get back to the beauty that is The Thankful Jar, and how excited I am about it.

When I first began dating my (now) husband, his parents had a tradition on Thanksgiving of writing and reading out loud (the horror!) a synopsis of the years high and low points, and a list of things they were most thankful for that year.

The year after we began dating, his younger brother died and as expected, finding things to be truly Thankful for, even on The Holiday of Thanks, became more difficult than easy, and eventually, the tradition fell to the wayside.  I do not like public speaking, but I do love writing, so when I saw The Thankful Jar, I was immediately drawn in.

I plan, starting on Thanksgiving of this year, and once a week for the 52 weeks thereafter to sit with my family during dinner and for us all to write something we are thankful for, from the previous week. It doesn’t need to be huge, but it needs to be honest.  We are going to stuff The Thankful Jar so full of promise and joy and love that by next year, it’s going to explode. On Thanksgiving eve of 2013 I have visions of the five of us sitting together, going through the past year in a jar, pulling out the truly funny thanks, and the unbelievably moving ones, the ones that make me want to hug my family tighter, and the ones that make my belly hurt from laughing. Big things we could not forget if we tried, and little things we wouldn’t remember if they hadn’t been written down.

This house consists of: My husband Joe whose biggest emotional outbursts occur when The Steelers are playing the Ravens. Yours truly, whose biggest emotional outbursts occur approximately 304324832848542 times per day over anything and everything. Our son Sam, nicknamed The Mayor for his exceptional people skills and who at age 5 came up with my favorite word of all time; focustrating (when one is both concentrating and focused) and our daughter Marilyn, 3.5 years old. She of multi-colored tutus, a serious responsibility to all stuffed animals everywhere and who is still dead set on calling the baby currently incubating in my belly “Chocolate Cupcake”. Thankful posts from BabyJ (who is due in less than two weeks) will be penned by yours truly (I will probably cry each time I do it, and they will all probably be along the lines of ‘I am thankful for clean diapers’ or ‘I am thankful my dad has patience, especially when my mom has run out’).

I think that Thanksgiving 2013 is going to kick ass.

So what is a tradition you’d like to hand off to the rest of the world, or even better, have you found something that translated to real life, in the realms of Pinteresting?

*Edit, it was brought to my attention that I posted we’d be opening our jar in 2014. See, that’s what happens when you stare at Pinterest for too long. You.lose.years. Thankful to have the entire year of 2013 back… unless of course, the world ends on December 21st of 2012.. and then this was all for naught.

Sam does it Gangnam Style

My husband loves The Grateful Dead. If you ask him if he’s ever seen a show, he’ll give you this smile and reply with ‘a few’. I know that the smile means a proud ‘Yes.’ and his ‘a few’ really means 122 shows. He’ll shyly admit many years into our relationship and eventual marriage that he remembers my birthday because ‘The Dead played at Cornell on May 8th, and it was a great show’, and not because of his obvious love and adoration of yours truly.

He is very proud of his musical tastes. He knows obscure details about his favorite artists, follows their lives, travels to watch them play. And it’s not just the big name headliners, he has as much hippie love for a little-known musician who sings about Man Boobs and the California Water Crisis (really, his name is David Lindley, check him out sometime) as he does for anyone else.

Me? You ask. Oh my music tastes tend to veer a little bit into the embarrassing. I am pretty sure I stopped discovering new music (save for Mumford and Sons) in the 9th grade so my playlists revolve around a lot of show tunes (Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom) and a lot of Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox20.

Annnnnd… the radio. The radio and I have this super secretive relationship. I will get into the car, someone will be riding in the passenger seat and I always feign surprise when the local pop station comes on. Shock and Horror!

“How did this get on here?!” my face will perfectly convey such thoughts. You, reader, know the station I am talking about, the one that plays the same 10 songs over and over again (right now it’s probably Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, One Direction, a Beiber Fever song…). Then later on, having dropped off aforementioned car-rider I will lovingly and apologetically stroke the radio-cover. “I’m sorry” I will coo. “Mama still loves you”. See? Shame and guilt.

I feel like this terrible secret with pop was bred into me. Being born in 1985, that meant I grew up with Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, 98 degrees, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys… just to name a few. I can’t help my dark and sinful feelings!

My husband, with his evolved musical inclinations looks down on my house-beat, middle-school, lyrics written by monkeys in space, playlists. He snubs his nose at themes of ‘never getting back together’ and hitting someone one more time. I wouldn’t say he makes me feel bad about myself (although, if I could guilt him into taking the kids to one of those damn birthday parties I would tell him just that, and then burst into pitiful heart-wrenching sobs)… but, he definitely doesn’t inspire me to turn the music up.

It might be on this very radio station that I was introduced to Gangnam Style, and how I passed off the viral-like infection to my son. So it was with much bewilderment that I came into the living room yesterday to find my husband and son on the i-pad, studying (very seriously) the individual movements to the Gangnam Style dance.

Behold:

 

And so another generation forms a perverse love/hate relationship with the music that literally makes them move. Except this time, we have YouTube, and I can share it with the entire world.

Sorry Sam, Mama still loves you.

Awkward Mom

When I was in high school I was very aware of not being The Populars, and at different times this could either be a good or bad thing. Bad; when it came to the lunch room, weekend parties, social events, and that time of the month. Good; when it came to needing fodder for my teenage angst-y poetry (see: Stripper name of Riley Jade, last entry).

Not being one of what I considered The Popular Crowd was also good for when I wanted to go out. As soon as I could drive, I started going to the bookstore near Roosevelt Field Mall nearly every night. I’d bring my marble notebooks and all of my bottled up frustration at the world (oh lunchroom tables, you are so cruel. Oh 17-year-old boy in math, why can’t you be romantic and refined?). I would drink coffee until the store closed and be downright happy with my loner self. Being that my mom was worried about my lack of social life, (and time spent on the computer, apparently with balding men who lived in their mothers basements) she never questioned my desire to go out.

I was told by well-meaning adults my entire non-adult life that high school was just a very small slice of time, and that once it was over, ‘I’d be glad’, ‘See that life isn’t really like that’, ‘move onwards and upwards’, but what they don’t tell you is that if you are socially awkward in high school, chances are, you’ll carry that little chip on your shoulder for a lot longer than the four years you were ‘contained in the prison’.

Case in point: We’ve discussed already that I have two children (until two weeks from now, when I will have three children and no sanity). They are Sam and Marilyn, they are both (of course) beautiful, bright and hysterically funny. They both go to school (Sam is in first grade, and Marilyn is in preschool) and are able to make friends in the fluid, easy kind of way that happens when the option of saying “Hi my name is ______, want to be my friend?” is available to you.

I am their mother, and this option is not available to me (I’ve tried it, at the park, out of desperation, it normally ends with a queer kind of stare and the slow backing up of the person I tried it on). But, being that I love and care for them, and wish them enduring success in their friendships, I press onwards, in my mission to make friends.

I often feel pangs of anxiety when a birthday invitation comes home for one of them. I will have conversations with my husband that begin and end like this:
Me: “Soo…. do we have plans for [insert date of party?]
Husband: “I don’t know. Why?” (this is my attempt to trap him into committing)
Me: “[Insert child] was invited to a party. Do you want to take them?” (this is where I will start coughing in an attempt to make myself look pitiful and maybe coming down with a violent cold)
Husband: “No! It will be all moms there. I hate when I am the only dad”

And to his credit, normally, it is all moms there. Unfortunately for us, my better half is one of those people who can talk to anyone, about anything. He possesses the kind of skills in conversation that I find both incredibly attractive and strangely upsetting (why can’t I do that? how does he do that? why won’t he teach me? is he hiding an instruction manual?) so I find myself packing up beautiful birthday gifts and cards and trudging to the slow and painful death that is a child’s birthday party.

Example 1: Do I stay or do I go?
Sam was in kindergarten last year and a new phenomenon began occurring. Parents were dropping their children at birthday parties and running away. I walked into several such scenarios with mouth agape, the horror that I had missed my chance to make friends with his peers parents settling into my bones with unease. (Where would I ever see these people now? How would I make playdates? The very idea of plucking their phone numbers from the school roster gave me a headache).

Do I stay? I would ask myself, do I stay and make friends with the hostess, or other parents who would hopefully stay out of guilt or fear of child abduction. Or do I go? I would look longingly at the exit of whatever place held me captive. The idea of two solid hours in the solitude of the nearest Starbucks was too tempting. The option of running away from having to make adult friends too tantalizing. I would bolt, every single time.

Example 2: You have another child
As soon as the elation hit, it would be taken away. Mere months of parties had passed between when The Drop-off phenomenon began occurring and when Marilyn’s first birthday party invitation arrived in her cubby.

“Shit” is the word I exclaimed upon seeing the invite, followed immediately by, “Marilyn, do not repeat that, that’s a potty word.” So another weekend morning found me fluffing tissue paper and signing birthday cards for a child whose name I was certain I had heard only a handful of times, but now that a coveted party had been sprung upon us, was Marilyn’s ‘very best friend, very very very best friend’.

Three years old is too young to do the drop and run, I quickly gathered from the room crammed with cake, presents, and parents on their i-phones. “Shit” I said in all my expansive vocabulary and Marilyn, smart as a whip, cocked her head towards me and said “Mommy, that is absolutely a potty word”.

Children can not be less bothered by an adults unease. You can learn this (with or without children of your own) the next time you are at a grocery store and witness a child go absolutely boneless because a parent refuses their favorite cereal. Or when you witness a full on tantrum because there are no pennies to be thrown into a fountain. In this case, it was that parents stood around at awkward shut-off angles staring glassy-eyed at their Facebook accounts or sports reports while their children blissfully ran off to play. We were like puppies leashed outside while our people went shopping.

But I was well versed at being socially awkward and so had prepared in advance. I had a fully charged phone and had installed the UNO! app just the previous day. Bring on two hours of silence. Except that’s when it happened. My phone rang. In a moment of cool-mom euphoria the previous day I had also downloaded “Gangnam Style” as my ringtone. My six-year-old demanded it (he also has a habit of requesting LMFAO’s “I’m sexy and I know it” whenever I pick him up from school. I drive a minivan, this is so not okay).

If you don’t know Psy’s “Gangnam Style” song, I urge you to listen to it, and then imagine my sheer horror as parents all around the room turned (slow motion of course) to stare at the parent who would dare to allow her childs virgin ears to be assaulted by such a ringtone.

But what happened was amazing, two mothers edged ever closer to where I was sitting.
“My daughter is in love with Nicki Minaj” she tells me. “Do you know how hard it is to find the ‘clean’ versions to her songs?” The other mother chimed in “Just try listening to Justin Beiber’s ‘Baby Baby’ for the four-thousandth time” and she made the universal barfing motion (finger in the mouth).

I sat back and smiled. Sometimes being socially inept means identifying with your kids more than other adults, and doing what you know will make your children laugh out loud despite the mortification you will feel every time your phone rings in public. And today? It meant Chip On Shoulder: 0 Awkward Mom: 1.

A list of things you never knew you wanted to know.

Writing a first entry can be intimidating. You want to get it right. You want to say things that resonate with your reader (all one of you), or maybe leave that vast audience in a state of unable-to-catch-my-breath laughter. Perhaps, you just want someone to nod and say ‘I feel like that too’.

I think relating to other (real) people is one of the most under-used abilities we have as humans. So many of us can think about a character in a book, movie or tv show and say “I am just like him/her” or “I understand them, where they are coming from”, but we often look around the bus stop, the grocery store line, our work places, and see aliens.

So, with that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of (mostly) useless information about Me (and I do so love to indulge in the talking of Myself) so that you can relate to a little bit of my life, and in exchange, maybe share a little bit of yours. If we do this, horses all over the world will be sparkly unicorns, fairies will no longer depend on clapping to survive and Facebook will spontaneously combust the computer of any asshole who tries to post political jargon after the election (c’mon now, it’s like white after labor day).

The point is, this is good for fighting global warming (and who doesn’t want to share a long kept secret?).

(Insert some number here)
Of Things You Never Knew You Wanted To Know

 1. I grew up in Levittown, on Long Island in New York, and despite being raised by a wonderful and loving mother, and having all of my family within 5 miles, I knew I would never stay there.

2. I am a child of divorce. This is a far less traumatic thing now (at least by society’s standards) than it was in 1992.

3. My fondest summer memories are of sleep away camp, the second one I went to (Island Lake) and not the first one (Camp Starlight) where the girls sensed my less-than roots (Levittown not Roslyn!) and were cruel in a way that I am pretty sure lead to the screen play “Mean Girls”.

4. At 15, lonely and filled with teenage angst I joined an online poetry website. Scarred by my mother’s insistence that everyone on the internet was in fact, a 59-year-old balding man living in his own mothers basement (which somehow, in my head, always meant he could straight into my bedroom window as well), I took up the name “Riley Jade” (to be safe and annonymous!) and posted poems about moving to NYC, unrequited love (the fact that I had never had a date didn’t deter me), and a character named Death who had exceptionally long fingers and a penchant for omelettes. Looking back at this now, Riley Jade rings more the name of a stripper than a poet. Memories!

5. I have always been afraid of the dark. To the point where I am quite certain, anyone wishing to know the hours my husband does or does not keep away from the home after dark, need only to peer at my house from inside a one mile radius. Lit up like a lighthouse? My better-half is 100% on a boys night out, dark to the point of needing night-vision goggles? I feel safe, and my beloved is safely (locked) inside with me.

6. Relating to being afraid of the dark, I also choose poorly when it comes to what to watch on tv. Being afraid of the dark (and also, my sliding glass doors in the back of the house, where I am sure one day I will look out from and there will be a man standing there ready to do me in, and also my basement, which I will not go down into after dark) you would think my tv choices would be limited to The Disney Channel, Sprout, HGTV (which does not air scary movie commercials, thankfully), but no. I am an Investigative Discovery junkie, American Horror Story addict, 666 Park Avenue aficionado, always jonesing for the next scary movie. Then, wondering why I feel the compulsive need to not close the shower door for fear of murderation! (Or more shamefully, why I took the laundry room door off its hinges entirely).

7. Seven seems a highly appropriate number to say that I have been married for seven years. I met my husband at a fat camp (oh the shame, but there I said it! Now you have to tell me two secrets of yours!) through my mom. He, having been fat, and now thin in 2003 and me, having graduated highschool and determined to reinvent myself in the months before college. I was introduced to him in North Carolina (where he was living) at the end of June, and by the end of July, I had happily moved myself into his apartment (I am a real catch) and decided to forget school, forget Long Island, forget everything that did not include the words; Joe, North Carolina, Living With, Forever and Ever. Only, he did not feel the same way (those unrequited love poems come to mind) and after a summer filled with adventures, sent me home. (This story has a happy ending, and not in a ‘Misery’ kind of way [I promise, Joe is not chained up somewhere with broken legs]).

8. I don’t have a favorite color (although my daughter insists my favorite color is “Sparkles”).

9. I do have a favorite season though, and it is fall. Oh fall, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. Pumpkins, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin picking, crisp McIntosh apples, Halloween, the smell of crunchy leaves, the first fires of the season, the first batch of my moms chicken soup, I could go on.

10. I have a problem with snoring. Not mine, anyone elses. Snoring makes my eyes twitch and horns pop from my skull. I have been known to swing violently upon being woken up by snoring.

11. I love cheese. I have never met a cheese I didn’t want to consume.

12. I have a bad habit of speaking like a truck driver. I’ve been told that this means I need to broaden my vocabulary but really, it just means I’m fucking lazy.

13. I went to community college for one year. I had an awesome english professor with the last name of Yezzo who held a class at 615am. It was the only time in my life that I did not resent getting up before the sun.

14. I have held three (paying) jobs in my life. The first was for my Uncles produce business in the South Bronx, the second was at a Pet Smart in North Carolina and the third was at a Costco here in Pittsburgh. While I always thought in order to write something worthy of being published I would need to live in either LA or NYC, or perhaps traipse lazily across the world soaking in foreign cultures, I have been corrected. I am pretty sure I could write an entire book on any of these subjects: the customers of Costco, why you should never eat ‘fast food’, ways to insult a cashier, 100 things people want that the pizza counter does not supply (mayo, ranch dressing, manners apparently, to name a few).

15. I have gotten to number 15 without properly mentioning my children (because I am more than Sam and Marilyn’s mother, dammit!). Sam is my first-born son, he is six (and a half, I know he will implore me to add). He likes to be outside, put together Lego’s and play UNO! Marilyn is my second child, and my only daughter. At 3 (and a half!) she is funnier than Chelsea Lately and with more sass to prove it. Currently she is a Disney Princess expert and a comedian. She likes bunnies, little teapots and hot chocolate (which she lovingly refers to as “Marilyn Coffee”).

16. I’m about to have a third child, which really just translates into Joe and I are batshit crazy.

17. Despite regularly complaining about having to both decorate my home (for each season) and clean it (every day… okay every week), I really do love organization and home decoration. I dream of being locked in The Container Store and robbing the nearest Crate & Barrel.

18. I like animals. I’ve never owned a dog, but I have two cats (Atticus and Ambrosious), two frogs (Ooh and Aah [Aah is an amputee after an unfortunate incident with Walter, the Newt]), and three fish tanks full of fish that either a. won’t die or b. wont stop having babies. In the past I’ve also had, mice, (remind me to tell you about the time I went to sleep away camp and left the mice from my school science project with my mom and she let them free in the sump behind Center Lane.) You’re Welcome Levittown! Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Gerbils, Hamsters, a bird, just to name a few.

19. This is getting very involved and long. I think we should all break for coffee. (I have recently learned that coffee can be a very controversial topic, and not just on the basis of whether or not you employ underage children to pick it illegally from trees for you, but just whether you drink it or not). I have come to the following conclusion, there are two types of people in the world, those who drink coffee, and those who drink haterade. (Haterade, I have also just learned [from the six-year-old] is what people drink in the morning to make them mean, all parking authority employees are obligated to drink 8 glasses per day).