by: Erika “who uses a black & white photo for an Xmas post” RayA very B&W Xmas

This isn’t a surprise, right?  If you’re a loyal reader of O+U, I’m guessing you figured Christmas wasn’t my holiday.  You probably already thought, “That Erika has got to be the Scrooge of the group.”  You’d be right.  I will say that I do enjoy it more now that I have children.  Only a smidge more, but that smidge makes me more human.  So here’s what I really hate about the holiday.  I’m sure some of you do these things and that’s totally fine with me.  I won’t hold it against you.  I’ve been surrounded by Holiday Fanatics from they day I was yanked out of my mother.  My mother breathes so much Christmas Cheer  that I think her body refused to pass it along.  Every year, while wearing one of her fifty Christmas sweaters, she berates me “HOW can you hate Christmas?!”  Easy.  Here it is: the things that irritate me about Christmas.  And so I don’t sound completely bitchy or Scroogey, I’ll put some Holiday Cheer in each category.

I hate how every single year, people bitch about it being commercial  It’s like all of a sudden, Corporations used their fangs to suck all the tradition out of the holiday.  The first Christmas I really remember was almost thirty years ago.  And it seemed pretty commercial then too.  People bitch about decorations prior to Halloween.  People bitch about spending too much.  People talk about how Christmas is filling landfills.  We get it!  At Christmas people spend a ton of money.  90% of it is probably not necessary.  I hate when people refuse to buy gift cards because they’re so impersonal.  You know what’s impersonal?  A fuzzy Elmo-style sweater for a woman in her mid-thirties.  Stop bitching, folks.  It is what it is.  Don’t celebrate that way.  Take back your gifts if you want.  Get off your holly decorated soap box and celebrate exactly the way you’d like.  Pros: I love a good gift.  I don’t need a thousand.  Even at 36, it’s fun to rip open packages.  I love an excellent gift certificate.  Nothing says, “I love you” more than “Here.  Get what you really need!”

Christmas music.  Oh fucking christmas music…  One or two songs, I’m good.  Makes me feel like a kid.  But listening to an entire station of Christmas music makes me want to punch a baby in the face.  Hey Singers, let me save you some time…  Don’t aim to write a new classic Christmas song.  That sleigh has flown.  Just because you say, “snow” and slaps a few bells in the chorus, won’t make it worth your time in the studio.   I can almost guarantee that I won’t be listening to Justin Beiber’s “auto-tuned” Christmas song when the Old-Folks’ Home is decorating my tree.  When I drool, it will be to Elvis.  If you’re going to play Christmas music, stick to the classics and keep it to a minimum.  Please.  Or keep your babies away from me.  Pros:  If you play these, I’ll sip my drink and dance around your tree!
White Christmas:  The Drifters
Blue Christmas: Elvis
12 Pains of Christmas: Bob Rivers
Mele Kalikimaka: Bing Crosby

I hate the Elf on the Shelf crap.  I’m sorry.  I know this just stung a few of you.  Yes, there are some really creative people out there rocking the Elf thing.  But part of me thinks it’s way more fun and work for the parents to create these little scenes.  And that’s why I can’t do it.  I just can’t.  Because by day Five, I’d be fresh out of ideas.  And then it’d get inappropriate.  Day six would find him pinned down by a slew of green army men.  And on day seven, my little Elf would be face down with a bottle of Jack while a Ke$ha-looking Barbie is draped over his lap.  That’s not kid appropriate and that’s how we’d want to roll with the Elf on the Shelf.  So why stifle our creativity?  Pros: I got nothing…

Hallmark Christmas movies are awful.  Can we all agree?  Every year, some D-list actress plays the role of a recently dumped woman.  She can’t deal with the fact that she’s single during the holidays.  Her spunky BFF, who’s probably married and has three kids, tells her to buck up.  Our sad lady, goes to the store in her pj’s and zit cream for the last-minute wrapping paper and runs smack into a man named Chris.  Chris is buying gifts for the entire orphanage  down the street.  Only in Hallmark movies there’s orphanages on every corner.  He sees how sad our heroine is and convince her to be his Mrs. Claus just for one night.  You know the rest.  Pros:  Here are the only Christmas movies that should be aired.
Charlie Brown’s Chrismas
Christmas Vacation
Christmas Story
And yes, Love Actually (I’m a sucker for this one)

Holiday decorations belong on the tree not your car.  Or your head.  Or your clothing.  Those car reindeer antlers make me want to side-swipe your car while I’m doing 70 mph.  If you’re wearing a Santa hat or headband antlers, you’d better be taking pictures for the mall Santa.  Or work in a pediatrician’s office/daycare/school.  That beautiful Christmas sweater shouldn’t make noise or flash.  It’s not right, people.  Once my Mom got us Christmas socks.  She thought it was so cool that they also played music.  I forgot.  Lovely when you cross your legs during the Biology test and the whole class is listening to Jingle Bells.  And she wonders why I’m not in love with Christmas.  Pros: I do love when a person ironically wears a gaudy Christmas sweater.  Their confidence rocks the holiday.

Eggnog.  Come on people…  It’s gross.  Don’t make me say this.  Please.  Fine. I will.  In my head, eggnog reminds me of Man-goo.  There.  I said it.  I don’t care how much alcohol you mix in, I can’t drink it.  It’s thick, creamy and has a weird smell.  Last year, I made an entire batch by hand because everything is better when it’s homemade.  Guess what?  Not eggnog.  It reminded of a very very special man-goo load.  Pros:  The more other people drink, the more fun they are.

You love Christmas?  Fly your holiday flag!  Play Mariah’s Christmas song and dance around your non-commercial Holiday tree!  Let your Elf on the Shelf surprise your babies every single day.  Photograph it and I’ll follow along.  Make some popcorn and watch Holly fall in love with Chris and his 12 adopted kids.  Pour some eggnog and slurp it right in my face.  I might gag all over you or giggle like a teenager.  I won’t reindeer poo-poo on your holiday cheer, but don’t expect my levels to be just as high.  I’m a subtle holiday celebrator.

by Tiffani Michele

**This is not your normal holiday tradition post, either. Going into it, I already know what’s in store for you oh gentle reader. And it may be TMI, even for my blogging standards of overshare. If you know me, think you might meet me one day, or have just eaten a meal, it may be wise to skip out on this one. I’m not sure in what order I will craft my masterpiece of a post but I know it will include nipple hair, menstrual blood, and shaved heads. You have been warned.**

Last year, I started a new holiday tradition. I have a bunch of oldie but goodies that I like…advent calendar, fancy hot chocolate and scones, decorating the inside of my minivan, dipping everything I can think of in chocolate, mason jar dessert mixes for presents…but last year I came up with a little tradition I like to call, “Shaving My Fucking Head, Bitches!” Until recently I didn’t know it was a tradition, except as the anniversary approaches I realized that I missed my shaved head and really really want to do it again.

I’m not done with the experience. I’m not done with the delicious way it feels when I shower, or a wind blows, or someone rubs my head. I’m not done with how badass it feels to say “fuck you” to societal norms on women’s appearance. I’m not done with how completely vulnerable it is to shave away something so feminine and present myself to the world with only my face. I’m not done with spending no money and no time on my haircare routine. I’m not done with wearing cute knitted hats to keep me warm and then immediately regulating my temperature by taking the hat off when too hot.

Last year I did it on my own, and month by month a few more friends of mine shaved their heads (and loved it!) until now I figure at least 25 of my facebook connections have done it. This year, I’m giving you, oh awesome reader, a chance to join in if you’d like to. You have a month to think it over, and then on Jan. 1st…BAM, MOTHERFUCKERS! It’s time to take it all off. I’m not suggesting everyone should do it, but if you feel a tingle of anticipation and a rush of excitement just thinking about it then you totally should. Just do it.

photo (8)

Gearing up for this big shave, (and here’s where you should stop reading if you’re prone to queasy) I’m not only letting my hair grow on my head but I’m growing my hair *everywhere*. *All over.* *No razor allowed!* *Anywhere!* At the same time I’m exploring what it means to be feminine without hair, I’m exploring what it’s like to be feminine with hair.

This all came to me a couple weeks ago while washing menstrual blood from off my legs in a rushing river. I was driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to meet 7 friends in Santa Cruz, and I guess the anticipation of so much female power unlocked my inner goddess and she decided to respond by giving me the gushiest start to a period EVER. While I was camping by myself in a clearing, next to a river. I wasn’t due to start my period, but it didn’t stop it from happening when I woke in the morning and stood up to eat some trail mix. With blood running all down my leg I did the only thing I could do…stepped into the running water, crouched down, and rinsed myself. I felt like a freaking pioneer woman or something. Just taking care of shit in a river.

I hesitated a bit, though, even covered in blood with no other option. “Would I be polluting the water? Is it OK, to just rinse myself like that? Is it right? Is it proper? Is it gross?”

And then I thought, “There are countless corporations defiling billions of gallons of riverwater a second, which you’re actually not aware of but probably should be more vigilant about, and you’re wondering if your natural body fluids are shameful? What is wrong with you?!”

For the rest of the drive; after purchasing Motrin, a chocolate bar, and tampons from the nice gas station dude, I wondered about what other things made me feel shameful about my femininity.

Let me tell you, that opened a big can of whoop ass worms.

I realized that from the time I started shaving, around 12, until that moment, that I’d never stopped shaving. That, in fact, I added more and more things TO shave until a significant part of my shower routine was spent with razor in hand.

At 12, it started with my lower legs.
At 14, it was my lower legs, upper thighs, underarms, and general bikini area.
At 16, a friend pointed out that I should start shaving my nipple area because some chicks got hair there. I didn’t, but started just in case.
At 17, a boyfriend commented I had “monkey arms” and instead of breaking up with him I started shaving them.
At 18, it was my lower legs, upper thighs, underarms, half my arms, nipple area, more focused bikini area with landing strip pubes.
At 21 it was my lower legs, upper thighs, underarms, half my arms, nipple area, bikini area, and asshole area. To be a more proper lady, of course.
By 30 it was all that and also my upper arm area and also tweezing my eyebrows and waxing my upper lip/chin.

That continued until recently. In fact, not only did I do that…I did it religiously every other day. I wouldn’t even have sex unless I’d shaved within the day or two. I never thought about it, it was just an effort to be “attractive”, “womanly”, “feminine”. It was driven by shame. Not that the act of shaving is shameful, but how I felt if I didn’t shave was. Why? I don’t know. It’s just hair! But I have no idea what I’m like au naturale. Do I have nipple hair? Don’t know! Do I agree that I have monkey arms? Don’t know! But probably not, since that dude was an asshole and why the fuck did I keep shaving my arms long after he was gone?

A few friends have pointed out that being a single woman is not the best time to experiment with a shaved head and hairy legs.

Fuck that, why not? Beyond the obvious, of course.

Who could ever fall in love with a bald, hairy woman? Who can even like a bald hairy woman who may or may not have nipple hair? Is that even dateable?

And that’s when it hit me. I’m done doing things from a place of shame because I think it will please other people and therefore make me more pleasing. I got shit to work out before I worry about who will or won’t love or even like me. Date me or don’t. Kiss me and my unwaxed upper lip or don’t. If hair or no hair is really a dealbreaker to someone, then it’s best I know that up front because that shit would never work out. None of that even matters until I can answer one simple question:

Can I ever fall in love with a bald, hairy woman?

Not that I’m a lesbian, I meant, you know, me.

Can I like myself even if I’m bald and hairy?

This is the month I’m starting to figure it out. I’ll have a merry christmas and then BAM! Time to shave.

You, of course, are welcome to join me for any or all of this experience.

Happy (Hairy!) Holidays!

By Jill Greenwood

There’s a house on our street that our family has dubbed “Christmas Village.” I’m pretty sure that y’all have a Christmas Village, too . . . lights galore, several “tactful” animatronics, some planning. The kind of house that would make you shudder if you lived nearby. I’m not talking anything like this, but you get the general idea. Usually, our Christmas Village coincides with the general Holiday time, but for the past several years, it’s gotten earlier and earlier. Usually, the Christmas Spirit has been determined by the Village (not a bottle as some might suspect); sadly, with its early appearance, I’ve had to rely on something else: music.

It's blurry. It's grainy. It's my favorite Christmas photo of the girls.

It’s blurry. It’s grainy. It’s my favorite Christmas photo of the girls.

A couple of caveats: I won’t play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving and I’m not a purist. Not by a long shot. Here’s what really gets me happy and ready to groove when Christmas is a mere 23 days away:

  • “Santa Baby” by Kylie Minogue: really, anyone singing this song is generally OK with me (except Madonna . . . I don’t like her version, which is odd because I love the Material Girl, but I think she was in that weird Who’s That Girl? period when she recorded her version – too much “baby talk” bullshit)
  • The Fairytale of New York” by The Pouges and Kirsty MacColl: hands up, people . . . who among us hasn’t had a Christmas a little bit like this one? That’s what I thought! Plus, it’s breathtaking if you just listen to the music.
  • “Peace On Earth/The Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie: any other version is crap. Shit. Not worthy of being heard. The Binger will be on here a few times.
  • “All I Want For Christmas” by Mariah Carey: when I hear this song, it means that it’s officially Christmas. I’ve been known to turn off the radio if I think it’s occurring too early (and her boobs looked spectacular this year during the Tree Lighting telecast this year).
  • “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by anyone: I really like this song . . . even if it makes me cry. Sorry, sentimental sap.
  • “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses: it’s silly; it’s goofy; it’s fucking Christmas, people. Enough said.
  • “Christmas In Killarney” by Bing Crosby: it was a toss up between this and “Mele Kalikimaka” for my favorite song by Bing Crosby, but this is the one that I associate with Christmas. Because the Christmas of my childhood was spent at my mom’s parents’ house. And this is the song from their house.
  • “Wonderful Christmastime” by Wings: child of the ’70s. That’s me.
  • “Get Behind Me, Santa” by Sufjan Stevens: I associate this with my children who introduced Mr. Stevens to me. Thank you, Girls!
  • “Carol of the Bells” by anyone: I’m not picky with this holiday classic. It’s pretty. It’s innocuous. It’s a just plain pretty.
  • “Father Christmas” by The Kinks: one of the very, very few songs that I can listen to when it’s not Christmas. Probably because the Davies’ brothers are my kind of siblings.
  • “The Coventry Carol” by Alison Moyet: ’tis an oldie (like 500 years old) but it’s an amazing piece of music, albeit kind of sad and depressing. Go have a listen!
  • “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews: my husband will vote for Buster Poindexter and Sigourney Weaver. But he would be wrong.
  • “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” by Hall & Oates: because I love my husband (and I might be a little tipsy . . . fine, a lot tipsy)
  • “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley: it is only acceptable by the King. We can’t be friends if you like another version. You think I’m kidding. See the above comment for the ruling.
  • “Christmas In Hollis” by Run-DMC: I don’t need a reason for this one. It’s Run-DMC.
  • “Dominick the Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey)” by Lou Monte: I. Fucking. Love. This. Song. Questions?
  • “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives: it doesn’t get any better than this.
  • “Zat You, Santa Claus?” by Buster Poindexter: throwing my husband a bone . . . because it’s Christmas 🙂

I’m sure that there are some that I’ve missed. Any that you’re willing to go to bat for? Fair warning . . . if you suggest “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” all bets are off.

by Carmen Farrell

I’ve been with my guy for 18 years.  He pretty much knows me inside out.  And he likes what he’s got, for the most part.  But, just like he has quirks that make me cringe, I know there are things about me that drive him bonkers.  For today’s post about “me, me, me”, I thought I’d give some insight into who I am by telling you about several of the ways that I annoy my husband.

1.  I pee in the shower.  And I make no apologies for it either.  There’s a drain, and running water that rinses you off instantly.  I would argue that it’s even more sanitary than peeing in a toilet.  I don’t see what’s gross about it and I refuse to listen to anyone who would try to convince me that it is.  Done.  Him and I, we just don’t talk about it anymore.  It’s not worth getting divorced over.

2.  We made an agreement really early on in our relationship that whoever cooked would never have to clean up the aftermath.  I mean cooking’s work, so whoever got to sit around reading a book while dinner was being put on the table, has to put in the time afterwards.  Well, as it turns out, I cook 99% of the time.  Scott’s idea of cooking is heating up a frozen pizza.  So, yeah…he doesn’t get to handle dinner too often.  His huge complaint is that I dirty shit on purpose just to give him more work.  The truth is that I don’t do it on purpose.  But I have realized that I’m very liberal with the usage of utensils and pots.  There’s a disaster left over from preparing even the simplest of meals.  It’s just how I do.  I cook with gusto (and a little ADD) and before I know it, the sink is overflowing and I’m creeping away sheepishly.

3.  I fall asleep at movies…9 out of 10 times.  In the early days of our relationship it would be in a crowded movie theater (or at the Drive In – hello, let down!)  Nowadays its on the couch while in our pyjamas   We’ll start a great movie (sometimes even one of my picks) and I’ll be snoring a third of the way in.  I can’t help it.  The lights are low and I’m on a soft surface, for pete’s sake!  What drives him batty is that I’ll then pester him to give me a play by play of what I missed.  Yup, I’m THAT annoying bitch.  Oh, here’s a funny story…A few months ago I took my kids to see Madagascar 3 at the theater.  Of course, I fell asleep – slouched over into the empty seat next to me – about 20 minutes in.  The next thing I know, I’m coming to with the sensation that someone is poking me in the ribs.  It’s my 3 year old, and he’s whimpering, “M-m-m-ommy…. are you dead?”  Boom!  Traumatized kiddo.  I really have to start bringing a Red Bull or something.

There.  Those are but a few of my many “faults”.  How about you?  What drives your partner nuts about YOU?



As we bring our “me, me, me” month to an close, we O+U ‘ladies’ hope that you’ve enjoyed getting to know us a little bit better.  We are taking it easy for the month of December so that we can focus on the important things like family and drinking wine.   We’ll each be posting a photo or two throughout the month.  We may even have a couple of guest posts for your reading pleasure, but for the most part, we’re laying low.  Happy December to you and yours!

By Jill Greenwood

I’ll be honest with you (kinda a policy of mine); when I first got my first “proper” camera, I bought it because school got out for the summer. My sister and I had recently started blogging, and I was looking for a way to take better photos. So I bought a D40 and started snapping. I’d take a photo of a sock in progress and be mesmerized by the shot. And then spend the next two months trying to figure out what I’d done. When Jordan’s prom rolled around the next spring, I messed up half the photos when I forgot how to move the focus selection. Nothing like having great light with your beautiful daughter standing in front of you only to figure out later that she’s blurry as shit, but damn does that fence look stunningly focused.

But how to fix this problem. Why, I know! Just take photos. Take the damn camera out and depress the shutter. I’d take the camera to the back deck. Fool around with the settings. But the thought of taking a photo in public scared the living daylights out of me because I was afraid what people would say. Being painfully shy had a lot to do with it. Here’s where most people will laugh. “You? SHY?! What are you smoking?” most of my friends would say. “But you’ll talk to anybody . . . how do you figure you’re shy?” Because I am.

If you know me, then you probably won’t get me to shut up if we’re out in small groups. But put me in a group of five or more, and I’ll figure out how to make a quick and quiet exit. And if I can’t exit, I’ll either knit or drink. Sometimes both – again, that honesty policy. It can take me weeks or months – fine, years – for me to feel comfortable enough to let my guard down. Until that happens, I come off as bitchy. Evasive. Aloof. Pick an adjective that means vaguely douchey or slightly awkward and that’s probably been said about me. If I’m going to take a photo of something public, I’m much more likely to find a notebook or a coffee mug or my reflection in a window.

So, why then would I join the 100 Strangers project on Flickr*? Why would a person who took close to nine months to have a conversation with someone who worked a few doors down from her try to take photos of random strangers? Well, I don’t really know. Something about it made sense. Find someone out in public and begin a conversation with them. Thank god there’s no official time limit on this project because I’m taking my sweet time with it. But yesterday was a good day for me. I found a stranger, and I asked him if I could take his photo for a project I was working on. I engaged in semi-intelligent conversation about his job. And I think I did a decent job with it.

I’m not saying that photography has “cured” my shyness, but it’s certainly made it easier for me to make conversation with people. Granted, three-quarters of it is still awkward, but it’s conversation. Sometimes people will see what I’m focused on, and they’ll ask a question about it. Occasionally, they’ll tell me I can’t take photos of something. But usually it leads to some nice pleasantries exchanged. Or suggestions for the next place to explore.

Four strangers down . . . 96 more to go.

*Oh, Flickr, I miss you. I really, really, really do. Haven’t uploaded anything in almost three months. I need to change this soonish.

by Tiffani Michele

Do you remember when you were 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and maybe even 8; and you played dress up, imaginary games, and acted with stuffed animals? Do you remember wanting to be 18 different things when you ‘grew up’, depending on your mood and/or what you learned about in school that particular day? Remember when you were just you, undefined by what you did/how much you earned/who your friends were/what other people thought of you? Remember being unselfconscious and able to make funny faces and do random shit as the mood struck?

Yeah, I don’t remember being like that either. But I know everyone has those moments in childhood mostly because I look at my own kids doing and being just like that, and I have pictures of me in various dress up clothes totally acting the part.

I can’t remember what I wanted to be when I grew up. But I know what I became: a student, then a wife, then an employee at various jobs I didn’t care about, then a mom, then a volunteer at assorted church/community positions. I became fulfilled in some of those roles and bored in others, but defined myself by all of them.

Now I’m in a no man’s land…not a wife. Not a churchgoer. Not a student. Not even a volunteer for anything anymore.

Where does that leave me?! Do I become something different when I’m not anything that I thought I was?

Do you? Have you ever reinvented yourself? Changed up your life in big and little ways? Decided to become something no one (including you) ever thought you’d be?

If you want to, you can easily shake up your life by doing one simple thing: just do the opposite of what you’d usually do. If you’d usually say yes to something, say no. Vice versa…say yes to other things if you’d usually say no. (Within reason, obviously!) It’s a bit like falling down the rabbit hole and experiencing vertigo on the cellular level.

I’m not who I thought I was. At first this was terrifying and paralyzing. A crisis in identity. And then, without the old constraints, I started becoming something more. Independent. Photographer. Traveler. Drinker. Dancer. Hooper. Writer. Entrepreneur. Lover. Hater. Saint. Sinner. I had a weird shift in awareness, understanding that my definition of myself is the only thing that defines who I am. If I get rid of the definition, then I don’t get rid of the “I”…I simply am “me.” And even better than that, I found that if I shift my definition of myself it likewise shifts how I perceive my place in the world.

Who am I? I’m nothing, and I’m everything.

And just who do you think you are?

What do I want to be today? It’s the same question, actually, that I probably asked myself when I was 3. And I probably answered it pretty simply then and in the same way I answer it now: “Whatever makes me blissfully happy.”

The bad news is that without a set definition of yourself, you’ll always be on the lookout for who you really are. Always searching. Always exploring. Always delving. The good news is that without a set definition of yourself, you’ll always be surprised at what you’ll find. Never a dull moment. Never a right or wrong way. And every moment can be shifted from being a way that isn’t working into being a way that does work.

And that’s how losing my identity has turned out to be the best thing for learning all about who *I* really am.

so winter is on where i live. i know the calendar says it is fall, but trust me on this one.  it is cold. it is dark at 4:20pm. D A R K. that is so not cool. once the snow begins to fall it will stick around til sometime mid march or april. i love summer. i love sun. i like to be tan. i like to be barefoot. none of this winter stuff bodes well for me. so what does a girl like me do?   develop some serious coping skills, that’s what. i have a few…

  • candles.  i now buy them like i do milk.  each week a new box of taper candles comes home with me. i light them around 4:15 and burn them all the way down. thank you trader joes.
  • chicken and dumplings. (trust me this stuff has medicinal qualities.)
  • loaveS of banana bread.  some with chocolate chips, some plain, occasionally one just for me loaded with walnuts.
  • color. red mostly. favorite red cardigan. favorite red toque. red plaid scarf.
  • trinkets from sunny california. i bought myself a sweet vintage enamel ring (a yellow flower) and a vintage melmac plate (also with yellow and orange flowers) as my souvenirs from my time in palm springs.  i plan on pulling them out all winter long and pretending i am back in sunny california. this could work right?
  • big tub of petroleum jelly. in winter my skin holds its very own protest. my lips crack. my hands crack. my heels crack. last year i discovered by covering myself in good old petroleum jelly i can avoid most of this. it is not at all trendy or sexy, but it IS a heck of a lot sexier than i am without it.
  • strings of twinkle lights.  not just for christmas.  therapeutic.
  • if i was more of a drinker i would list whiskey, but alas i am a lightweight, probably the biggest lightweight of the bunch, so instead how about some spiced chai latte.  again, thank you trader joes.

come february winter will undoubtedly break me and i will be crying sobbing in my chai, but for now i am finding comfort in these few things.

so tell me your tricks. what am i missing to help get me through the next 5 months?

i will sit here in the dark and stare at my twinkle lights and wait for your answer.

and this isn’t the post i was planning on putting up here today. i’m a major slacker when it comes to blogging, so my plan was to shoot the photos i wanted to use and work on the post last night. yes, i procrastinate that much. instead, you’ll get a very brief run down of the day i had and also a  good idea for why this post will suck (and it will).

spoiler:  my head is in a cloudy, disoriented state of funked-upness. actually, that sounds rather enjoyable. so scratch that. read on, bear with me, and forgive the excuse.

our day started off fairly normal. bea needing to be fed immediately upon waking; henry burrowing back under the covers. bea satisfied with food finally being in front of her, i was able to pour myself a coffee. the two of us transfer ourselves over to the couch with a stack of books and henry finally joins us. soon we’re back at the kitchen table making ourselves busy with creations like a care bear cloud car, glittered snowflakes, hand turkey drawings, and stringing beads. we’re all in good spirits and i’m looking forward to a productive day. again, they want to be fed (what is with these kids and needing food!!), so i make lunch. that’s when the curve ball comes. henry asks me if he can go lie down and rest. huh? come again? this is not a typical request and this is not a good sign. i feel his head, he’s burning up,  we all go upstairs to my room, get cozy in the bed and start a movie (brave). bea is asleep in minutes. henry is apparently still hungry because i am making repeated trips to the kitchen to retreive snacks for him to voraciously consume. bea wakes up right as the movie ends and i discover fever number two; this one is even higher than henry’s. needless to say, much of the day was spent in beds or on couches with cartoons, care bears, and books.

luckily, i had baked a chicken the night before and had everything needed to make a pot of homemade chicken soup. so i chopped, seasoned, and stirred. matt came home from work and finished it up for me, because wouldn’t you know it, i started to feel like shit.

i swear to you that i rarely get sick, but the odds seem greater the closer it gets to thanksgiving. this is a somewhat recent development, too (maybe since henry was born?). this is some bad karma rolling my way because i love thanksgiving, it’s my favorite holiday. i think it’s fair to say that i am miserable to be around when i’m sick. i don’t like to be touched, can’t handle a lot of noise, and don’t even bump into the bed or couch on which i’m resting my sick ass. i growl a lot. okay, i do that even when i’m not sick. not the mood to be in when you should be gathering with friends and family. damn it. so, last night i gave up soon after dinner. my throat hurt and my head was heavy. i went to bed and stayed there. but, did i sleep? no, because sleep is not my friend. i watched a shit ton of television instead. the voice (my guilty pleasure; cut me some slack), rachel maddow, and then back to back viewings of to kill a mockingbird. that’s right, i watched it twice and i probably would’ve watched it a third time if it had been on again. but, it wasn’t and i finally fell asleep around 3 o’clock in the morning.

i awoke this morning to children whose fevers may have passed (yay!) and also to feeling like i swallowed a piece of burning coal. my throat and chest are on fire, my head feels like it weighs 50 pounds. i’m typing this out while eating leftover soup and drinking cold coffee (don’t ask, it tastes terrible yet i keep drinking it).  i keep putting my head down on the desk because i’m tired of holding it up with my neck. after i hit publish i am going to search my movies to see if i own there will be blood because i have been wanting to watch that again for months and i can’t remember if i bought it or not. then it’s back to bed (and yes, i’ll watch to kill a mockingbird if it is on again today). at some point my goal is to make myself sit outside with a book to get some fresh air and sunshine (i would really, really like to be feeling well by tomorrow andi think the combination of these things will help). so, now you know i’m a lazy bum and a whiner when i’m sick. and rightly so; no one wants to be sick on thanksgiving.

anyway, i hope all of you are in good health, good spirits, and surrounded by loved ones tomorrow (and always).

have a safe and happy thanksgiving!

By Jill Greenwood

I’ve thought it was Tuesday all day. I lie . . . at 1:30 PM, I thought it was Friday. In my defense, I was wearing jeans and rushing to get my students, and that normally only occurs on a Friday. Cut me a break. Parent/Teacher Conferences are tomorrow, and I’m dreading them. Quite frankly, as much as parents dread them, feeling like they are in trouble meeting with a bunch of teachers, teacher dread them, too.

And this month is hard. I don’t know who suggested “Me” as a theme, but damn, it’s hard to talk about yourself. Couple that with the fact I couldn’t tell you what the day is, and you get a post with lame-ass shit and old photos. If that’s OK with you, read on. If not, come back when someone else has her ass in gear.

  • Whenever we stay over in Philadelphia, we always seem to wind up at the South Street Diner. I always get the eggs Benedict. South Street does a pretty mean dish; the best Benedict, however, is Eggspectations in Montreal.
  • Peanut butter is my Achilles heel. If there’s a jar of it in the house, I’ll dig in and eat it by the spoonful.
  • I’ve never played Angry Birds, but because my name is the one attached to our iTunes account, my scores are in the top 1%. Clearly, I’m destined for the big time.
  • I finally figured out what was wrong with my camera. Turns out I had the ISO locked at way too high a number, and everything has been grainy. Embarrassed? Sure. Real photographer? Fuck, no.
  • I bought collars for our cats this past weekend. Nothing has amused me more than watching them try to take them off. Nothing.

  • I suck at art. Like drawing a straight line is challenging to me. Playing Draw Something with my daughter is supremely challenging.
  • Music from commercials makes up a huge portion of my iTunes library. So do covers. I love covers. Except “When the Stars Go Blue.” The original is better.
  • My students thought that I was really going to audition for our school musical and were upset because a teacher might take a part they could have had. Granted, I did sing for the director and the assistant director, but that was simply because the words for the audition song were ingrained into my head.
  • Cheese. Highly underrated food. You should look into that.

So that’s it . . . it’s Monday. I’m using old photos. You get lame bits about me.

So me. About ME. My about me link has sat vacant for over a year now. I have clicked on that link and tried to write about me. And I am left tapping the keyboard. What do people REALLY want to know?

I am deathly afraid of sounding cliche. Or sappy.

So do people REALLY want to know who I am? Do you want to know that my one year old just emptied the trash can into the toilet? Or that that my son dumped an entire bag of pretzels in my car last week and I still haven’t cleaned it up? Or how about that I pulled the cleanest pair of dirty pants from my three year old’s hamper this morning. hmm…probably not.

I feel like I have to sell myself in my about me. And it has to be grand and spectacular. I have to tell you how great I am at catching that “moment”. And how I have this undying love affair with my camera. When it’s not about that. Really it’s not. I mean I love my camera but really I am in love with the people I photograph. When I was a senior in high school I had a girl tell me I was “nosy”. Well you know what, I am. I want to be all up on your business with my camera. Like one of my favorite photographers Erika Ray says, “Lifestyle photography is like classy reality tv.” I think she’s right.

So again I am left tapping the keyboard. What do people want to know?