I am the mom on her cell phone at the playground, and I’m not sorry

by Monica Jones


I know what you’re thinking. You’re filled with pity for me and my toddler because I’m tooling around on Facebook while she plays by herself. If only I understood how precious and fleeting childhood is, I wouldn’t be chatting online while these irretrievable grains of sand slip through my fingers.

You think my daughter is bereft of love and affection based on this brief snapshot of our lives. You imagine her gazing longingly at other families and wondering how her life might have been.

You think I shouldn’t have had a child if I can’t tear myself away from my electronic binky for five minutes.

Some of the more brain-damaged among you think my daughter would be better off in foster care, where her risks of true neglect and abuse would skyrocket, than to have a mother who doesn’t gaze adoringly at her as she goes down the slide for the 47th time.

I know what you’re thinking because you can’t stop talking about it on Facebook.

I don’t claim to be intervening in a friend’s personal crisis or answering an important email about a dying relative. Sometimes I am doing those things, but not today. Today I am looking at funny pictures of cats.

These pictures are hilarious. Seriously, you’re missing out.

I am also keeping half of my brain on my daughter, because, frankly, looking at photos of cats doesn’t take that much attention. I am paying enough attention to notice her get pushed down by some bigger girls, and I intervene. Their father is not on his cell phone, yet he doesn’t notice his kids picking a fight with a baby. I’m told only parents on phones are so easily distracted, so I’m not sure how this is possible. I go back to my cats when she is off examining wood chips, because she doesn’t need me for that. 

I am a stay-at-home mom. Aside from mooching off my husband’s talents and sitting around on my expanding arse all day, I spend a lot of time interacting with my daughter. We nurse in the morning. She is 2 years old and still nursing, which is no doubt scarring her for life in its own way. I make her breakfast and we play. She helps put the clothes in the dryer. We go to the grocery store, and she puts the food on the conveyor belt. We take a toddler class at the rec center. She helps me cook. She helps me recover from all of her helping.

In short, my toddler is surgically attached to my backside 11 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the brief snippets of time in which she is content to be on her own, I am delighted to be doing something the fuck else. 

I accept that this period of our lives will pass, to be replaced by something else. She will morph from a toddler into a pre-schooler, into a big kid, into a teenager, and finally into a woman, and I will miss every stage even as I embrace the new one. I will not, however, get sucked into pre-emptive mourning. Living in the moment doesn’t mean grasping desperately at those moments, trying to capture them like fireflies in a mason jar.

I also accept that you are a better parent than I am in every way. Your capacity to love is unmatched. Your child will grow up to be attractive, smart, affectionate, successful and good at shuffleboard. The best I can hope for my daughter is that her father’s love will compensate for my failings enough to keep her from a life of prostitution and simmering rage.

Please pray for us.


Grocery shopping isn't for the weak

by Monica Jones


If you have a toddler, or have ever had a toddler, you know trips to the grocery store are the stuff of nightmares. Not Friday the 13th-style nightmares. I mean the kind of nightmare where you are slowly being eaten alive.

By leeches.

Leeches playing the recorder.

Below is a rundown of how this mundane part of my life has changed since that fateful day I gave birth to a pint-sized sociopath.

 

Pre-toddler:

1.       Drive or walk to the store.

2.       Stroll the aisles leisurely, checking produce for freshness and reading nutrition labels.

3.       Linger over the cheese selection, trying to decide whether I want to splurge on a small chunk of high-quality bleu cheese.

4.       Pay for my groceries using the coupons I clipped.

5.       Drive or walk home with a song in my heart.

6.       Put away my groceries and move on with my day.

 

Post-toddler:

1.       Spend 10 minutes looking for her shoes. Find one boot. Decide shoes are overrated and put on her socks.  

2.       Wrestle toddler into the car seat with promises that we will go to the playground later. I know I am lying. It’s raining and cold, and I might never find her shoes again.  

3.       Drive to the store.

4.       Find her socks somewhere between the seats and put them back on her feet.

5.       Race up and down the produce section checking items off a list that somehow got soggy in my purse. I don’t even want to know.

6.       Listen to toddler repeat a billion times the names of all the food she sees. Assure her a billion and one times that she can eat a banana when she gets home.

7.       Correct her repeatedly for trying to open the strawberries. Finally have enough of her shit and put the strawberries on the shelf under the cart.

8.       Get halfway down the meat aisle when she says she has to pee.

9.       Walk to the other end of the store, help her go to the bathroom, then resume shopping.

10.   Get back to where I left off when she says she has to pee again. Repeat step 8. Discover she doesn’t really have to go.

11.   Get back to where I left off when she announces she has to pee again. Decide I’d rather scrape shit off of her pants than walk back to the bathroom one more time. I am not leaving this aisle without bacon.

12.   Walk up and down a few aisles, informing her that we do not need every last thing that looks appealing to her. Keep her from eating everything in the cart. Grab the things I need, barely glancing at prices, and not at all at nutrition labels. I could be spending $25 on a package of hamburger rolls made of cancer. I just don’t care.

13.    Surprise, surprise. She needs to pee again. It’s been long enough now that I decide to take her.

14.   Joke’s on me: She doesn’t really need to pee.

15.   Listen to incessant whining about all the food she wants to eat right now, knowing she won’t touch it once we get home. Illicit food is the best food.

16.   About to get on line when she announces she has to pee again. Since we are getting in the car soon, I take her. To no one’s surprise, she does not really need to pee.

17.   Pay for my groceries quickly, pleased I didn’t misplace the rewards card or accidentally steal the strawberries still under the cart. This is as good as it gets for me.

18.   Wrangle all produce and living creatures into the car and drive home. Listen to toddler repeat the word “walk” over and over until my ears bleed.

19.   Sing the ABCs song. It’s the song I sing in lieu of the “shut the fuck up” song.  

20.   Get home. Find her socks somewhere between the seats and put them back on her feet.

21.   Toddler flips out because I won’t give her strawberries, as I will be making lunch in a few minutes. Give her a time out. Resume putting groceries away.  

22.   Toddler decides she wants her shirt off. I try to help her get it off, but she won’t let go of the sleeves. She both wants the shirt off and doesn’t want the shirt off. Finally I get it off.

23.   She says she has to pee again. I help her go to the potty. She does not really need to pee.

24.   Put away more groceries. Give her another time out for freaking out about not getting cookies.

25.   Toddler decides she wants her pants off. It’s naked-toddler Monday!

26.   She says she has to pee again. Surprisingly, she does.

27.   I give her another time out. It doesn’t matter what it’s for. I realize I’m just phoning it in. My soul is empty, but my pantry is full. 


Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Not literally tomorrow. Seriously, don't die tomorrow.

by Monica Jones


Sometimes I’m philosophical about death. I think of the circle of life, death making way for birth and all that. Flowers are born from seeds, and they die to be reborn as more flowers.

Not today. Today, fuck that kumbaya crap.  

I want my mother and father back. I’m looking at pictures of an uncle who died of cancer recently, and I want to hear his voice again. I saw him seven months ago. He wasn’t a healthy man then, but you’d  have been hard-pressed to tell by looking at him. I wasn’t there at the end, but I remember what mom looked like, so I can imagine it. I want them all back, and I want the new people, too, because I’m a greedball, and as long as I’m wishing, I’m going to wish big. I’m going to shake my tiny fist at the stupid poopy-headedness of it all, and then I’m going to put my fist down, because that’s a lot of shaking, and I don’t work out.  

Today, I don’t want to pretend this all ends well in some chick-flick way where we learn something valuable at the end and become better people for it. Mostly, it just sucks and you pack it away somewhere because there’s other shit to do. Then you write the narrative where you’re the hero of your own story, and you come out wiser and stronger for it, because we like endings that mean something.

I don’t believe in an afterlife. Not really. Sometimes I do, when it’s nice to stop missing people so much and just pretend. I can’t bring myself to pretend full-time, though. Religion would make this stuff easier, but once you’ve stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy, you can’t ever go back.  

I told Devon that he’s not allowed to die before me. The worst thing about my uncle’s funeral wasn’t saying goodbye to him: It was watching his wife, my aunt, cry beside his body, crushed under the weight of too many losses. With many of her siblings and her friends dead and her own advancing cancer, her world has gotten very small. Devon pointed out that, statistically, he is likely to die well before me. I told him that if he kept talking like that, he was going to die a lot sooner than he expected.

I’ll be fine tomorrow. Life is too short and precious to dwell infinitely on the inevitable end of it all. But today I am going to dwell. And probably drink wine. 


Are you having another baby?

by Monica Jones


I’m getting this question a lot these days. I like to think it’s because I’m such an awesome mother and not because my ass is starting to look like an inflatable tube. I don’t mind the question from friends because my friends want me to be happy, except for the ones who are secretly plotting my death, and I know who you assholes are, so it’s not such a secret anymore.

Getting the question from acquaintances is weirder. In my brain, it translates to, “Are you and your husband having lots of unprotected sex in the hopes of producing another human with half your genetic makeup?”

The short answer: Maybe. The longer answer: We’ll see.

In the interests of helping inquisitive strangers navigate this tricky question with other strangers, I’ve assembled some advice:

Don’t do it. Seriously, no good can come from asking someone you don’t know well whether she plans to breed.  

There are several possible answers.

1)      She is already pregnant and doesn’t want to tell anyone yet. If this is the case, then she is forced to lie to you. Don’t be pissy about it later.

2)      She is trying to get pregnant but doesn’t want to share this with the world. Maybe she just started trying, or maybe she’s been trying for years and would rather keep her private business private.

3)      She doesn’t want to kick-start the inevitable psychological onion-peeling that usually ensues when she tells people she doesn’t want more kids, or kids at all.

4)      She desperately wants a child and has endured a miscarriage, or several, in the attempt. In that case, good job yanking the scab off that wound, jerk.

5)      She’s a lesbian, and this question is complicated for her and her partner to answer.

6)      She doesn’t know, and she doesn’t need your help figuring it out.

7)      She had planned to tell you, but she forgot because she was so high on paint thinner that it slipped her mind. This possibility is slim. Very slim.  

I’m sure I missed a few.

Even if you DO know her well, she isn’t obligated to tell you. There is one exception: If you might be the baby’s parent, today or in the future, feel free to pry.

I know what some of you are thinking: “People are too damn sensitive these days, with all this politically correct nonsense. I was just being friendly.”

No, no you weren’t. You were being nosey. It has never been OK to ask a woman you barely know whether she plans to let a man ejaculate inside her. This has always been a dick move. (Ha ha! See what I did there?)

People are more open with their business now than they were before the Internet, and you’re taking advantage of that openness to ask questions that are none of your business.

My advice isn’t complicated: Unless you’re sure she won’t mind you asking, don’t ask. If you misjudged and she’s cagey about it, let it go. Just because you’re curious doesn’t mean she owes you an explanation.

Also: If you do ask and she blows you off, don’t act like she’s a frosty cunt for not opening her soul to some asshat she barely knows. 


I am, in fact, a paper cup.

by Monica Jones


In light of Leonard Nimoy's recent death, I went looking for "I Am Not Spock," a book Nimoy published in 1975. These were my search results. 

I decided not to buy the book. As much as I appreciate Nimoy's talents and am sorry he's gone, I wouldn't plunk down 60 bucks on my own autobiography. 


Potty training can kiss my chubby ass

by Monica Jones


You might be thinking, “What the hell, Dirty Hooker? You’ve been gone for nearly two years and you come back with that?”

Yeah. Sorry.

I had a baby and struggled to find anything interesting to say before I acknowledged what might have been obvious to y’all from the beginning: I was a vapid, mindless void. 

I didn’t have post-partum depression. I just had a two-year-long case of being fucking dull and unimaginative. That might still be the case, but I do want to write again, and a couple of people have asked me to. I’m a praise whore, and a cheap one at that.

I didn’t want to be a mommy blogger -- not because I have anything against mom blogs.  I read a bunch of blogs written by talented women with interesting ideas. I couldn’t imagine adding to the volume of information already out there in any meaningful way.

But I blog about what I live, and I am a stay-at-home mom now.  Of course, I’m other things, too. I read books and play video games and drink whiskey. But most of my day is defined by caring for a toddler (and drinking whiskey), so that’s what occupies most of my thoughts.

It’s a good life, just not a sexy one.

The other difficulty I face in writing is that my life is relatively free of conflict. My primary challenge involves listening to a small person repeat the word “apple” 6 billion times without selling her to hungry cannibal clowns. It’s a much different world from caring for my terminally ill parents, burying them, cutting off family members who made me miserable, getting laid off, and moving 1600 miles away.  Now I live in a great house, I’m happily married, and I have a kid I adore.

As hilarious as stories about Alzheimer’s and cancer are, I’m glad my life is no longer a country-music song.   

My challenge now is to write about ordinary days that revolve around things like potty training.

See, I got back to the point eventually. 


Scott Adams might want me to die, if I weren't so indecisive

by Monica Jones in


Dilbert creator Scott Adams posted this blog entry recently, about his hope that his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer's, would die soon, and how he hopes anyone who opposes assisted suicide follows him. (Note: His father has since passed.) I have mixed feelings about assisted suicide, and you've heard it all before, so I won't bore you with more debate. I'm not worked up about what Adams wrote. They're the words of someone who's suffering, and I'm glad his family has finally found some peace. I can say with certainty that I wish I'd let my father die sooner. If any of my family and his close friends are reading these painful words, I hope you can understand. Dad was a good man and I loved him deeply, but it was way, way, way past time for him to go.

In April 2010, I approved surgery to clear a bowel obstruction. I didn't know it was a bowel obstruction. His doctors said it could be anything from a hernia to cancer, and they wouldn't know for sure until they opened him. I felt like an asshole letting him die from a hernia, so I said OK. He couldn't approve the surgery himself because he had Alzheimer's and didn't understand what was happening to him. He struggled while a nurse and doctor intubated him. I held him still while I stroked his hair and hoped I was doing the right thing.

I wasn't. I was profoundly wrong.

It happened nine months after my mother died, and I wasn't ready to let go. My weakness consigned him to another nine months of misery and pain, after which he finally died from another bowel obstruction.

I got a second chance to make things right after the surgery. His heart started to fail, and his doctor suggested a pacemaker. I could have said no. I should have said no. But after putting him through bowel surgery, a pacemaker was no biggie, right? Except that his body desperately wanted to die, and I robbed him of the chance to do it quietly.

Medical care for the chronically ill, and especially for the elderly, is a slippery slope. One thing leads to another, and eventually you find your father hooked up to a machine that's keeping his kidneys functioning and wondering how the hell you got there. It's like a TV movie of the week. One minute you're drinking wine coolers in your high school parking lot and the next you're a washed-up junkie snorting blow off a hooker's ass.

I said no to the last surgery, but I wasn't in charge at that point, so he went under the knife one more time. My biggest fear was that he would recover, in the sense that "recovery" meant more misery as he slogged toward the inevitable. I was relieved when he died a few days later. He never woke up.

Maybe assisted suicide is the way to go. Maybe it isn't. I'm still not sure. I'd settle for the ability to back away from lost causes. For the most part, I followed his doctors' advice. The decisions were overwhelming, and I held a helpless man's life in my hands while everyone around me, doctors included, suggested treatments that would extend his life -- and his suffering. It was easier with Mom. With a prognosis of three months to live (she died in two), it was easier to back away. It's a relief to hear someone say "enough is enough" when the grieving people around you are begging you to fight on.

Dad's been gone three years today. I'm not beating myself up over it anymore. I just hope the experience has given me a better sense of where to draw the line.


Check your fish, lest you DIE!

by Monica Jones in


I'm 35 years old and I've been driving for only a year, because driving in New York City costs a billion dollars a year, not including parking tickets. So I scored another level in adulthood when I took the car in for a maintenance check. It was due for its 30,000-mile inspection, but mostly, I was worried about the fish living inside our Prius. The conversation with Devon went like this:

Me: I think there's something wrong with the car. The "check fish" light came on.

Devon: The "check fish" light?

Me: Yeah. The light that looks like a fish. There was an exclamation mark in parentheses next to it. The dashboard REALLY wants me to check that fish. I'm worried.

Devon: Sigh. I see.

Check engine Prius

I don't think he saw at all. Sometimes I think he just humors me. He said it meant "check engine," and the exclamation mark meant I needed to check the tire pressure. But that's retarded. I can barely drive, let alone diagnose problems with my engine and tire pressure. Toyota would never ask me to do something so out of my league.


Another year, another letter

by Monica Jones in


Dear Mom, You're gone 4 years today. Most of the time I'm pretty philosophical about it. I mean, crying in my beer won't bring you and Dad back, so I might as well get on with it.

I'm not feeling so philosophical today.

You died when I was 31 -- hardly a child. But sometimes I think you never got to see the fully cooked version of me.

Devon and I are happy. We're having a house built. It's amazing. The kitchen would make you pee yourself. But then, lots of things made you pee yourself. We were a lot alike.

I had a baby girl in February. (I know, way to bury the lede.) The pregnancy was easy. The delivery was not. I spent two days giving birth to her, and it sucked, but I'd have done it for a week if I'd known how awesome she'd be. As I type this, I'm watching her try to eat her feet. You would have adored her. She has a smile that makes my heart happy. With the divorce and your sickness, I didn't spend a lot of time being happy in those last few years before you died. This is a nice change.

I remember when you were in ICU, and Devon and I told you we were getting married. We told you if we had a baby and she was a girl, we would name her after your mother. You were so happy you cried. You died two months later. You weren't going to see the rest of my life unfold, but I wanted you to know. I wish Aurelia had the chance to know you. You could make me guano fucking nuts, but I'd give quite a lot for some of your unwanted advice right now.

For years, I couldn't remember most of my adult relationship with you. I remembered my childhood and the period I'll call PD (Post Diagnosis), but the rest of it fell into a hazy void. I'm starting to remember now - sitting at your kitchen table gossiping, teaching you how to use a computer, helping you put on your socks.

It wasn't all good. I won't go into much detail here. Opening my own flaws to the world is fine, but laying yours bare, without giving you the chance to explain, seems like a dirty trick. But I'm not nearly as angry as I used to be. I know you were scared -- too scared to do the things you should have -- but you were good enough. I hope I will be good enough, too.

You would have been 80 tomorrow. Try not to get too drunk.

Scratch that. Party your old-lady socks off.


Sometimes you get what you want

by Monica Jones in


While Devon and I were watching Doctor Who:

Me: I'd really like to watch the next episode.

Devon: OK.

Me: I'd also really like to be more drunk than I am.

Devon: That's...bluntly honest.

And that's the story of how I got Devon to make me a rum and Coke. And watch back-to-back episodes of Doctor Who.


The world is still an OK place, explosions and all

by Monica Jones in


When news of the Boston explosions hit the Internet, Facebook and Twitter flooded with comments like, "What is wrong with the world today?" (*) The answer: Nothing. Nothing is wrong with the world today that wasn't wrong yesterday and won't be wrong tomorrow. Bad things happen to good people. Or, at least, random people. If you're over the age of 20 and you still haven't wrestled this truth to the ground, then you're brain-damaged, lying, or you've lived an exceptionally sheltered life.

I know jack about what happened in Boston at this point. Maybe it was terrorism, foreign or domestic. Maybe it was something else. Maybe some guy was a shitty runner and decided to take it out on Boston. We'll know more in the days and weeks to come. I saw videos of people running into danger to help other people, and I saw countless well wishes and prayers for the victims online. That's what's important to me.

A friend of mine noted that some of her friends have said they would never bring kids into "this world." One wanted to apologize to her child for the state of the world.

Fuck that noise. This world is awesome.

This world is full of ice cream and sunshine and great wine and push-up bras. It's also full of terrorism and rapists and dead babies and heart attacks. It's always been that way and it will always be that way. I might wind up with a raft of things for which I'll need to apologize to my daughter, but the state of the world I brought her into isn't one of them. I suspect her life will be a mix of ice cream and terror (and, with my genes, probably the push-up bra), but that's the price of admission. I'd rather teach her how to dodge and roll than how to get the vapors every time she boots up her computer.

Notes:

(*) I hesitate to say how terrible something like this is because duh, of course it is. Whoever purposely killed, injured and terrified people doing nothing more offensive than littering should be ... well, should be arrested and tried before a jury of his peers. Even if he wasn't born here. I'm a freak like that. I add it anyway, here in the notes, because people act like you ate a puppy if you don't say the obvious about stuff like this. To the people of Boston and the runners and spectators from everywhere, my horror and sympathy are as sincere as anything I've ever experienced. (**)

(**) I say "he" because shitfaces like this are usually "he." It's not sexist. It's statistically accurate. Women are generally shitfaces in other ways. If the shitface responsible for this has a vagina, I will retract.


One girl, one cup

by Monica Jones in


I'm taking the plunge. I'm gonna try The Diva Cup. The Diva Cup is a reusable menstrual cup that keeps her side of the bed from looking like a crime scene, supposedly. It replaces pads and tampons.

Now you know.

It comes in two sizes: One for women under 30 who have never had a child and another for women over 30 who have had one or more children, vaginally or via c-section.

Diva

They should have just named the second one "cavernous hole." Let's not dance around this shit.


Mass Effect 2 crew need therapy

by Monica Jones in


Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 finally got cheap enough for me to buy off of Steam, and Mass Effect 2 is rocking my world right now. But I couldn’t help but notice that everyone on my team is a psychological wreck, mostly related to unresolved childhood issues. That’s why I’m renaming the game Mass Effect 2: Daddy Issues.

Miranda: A Cerberus operative in a skintight Seven of Nine catsuit. She was genetically engineered by her father to ensure his legacy and ran away because he was a controlling dick. Her loyalty mission involves keeping her younger but genetically identical twin sister hidden from their father.

Tali: A quarian who was on your team in the first Mass Effect. Her father is an admiral in the migrant fleet. In her mission, you discover her dead father was a war criminal who was experimenting on Geth. Depending on how you play it, Tali can be exiled for treason to protect his reputation.

Jacob: He hasn’t spoken to his father in 13 years. Ten years ago, his father, an alliance officer, disappeared with the rest of his crew on a mission. You find out Jacob’s Dad has been playing Lord of the Flies on a jungle world, where he coveted all the healthy food for himself, let his crew eat the tainted food that made them drooling morons, and killed anyone who opposed him. In my game, he’s rotting in an Alliance prison, trying desperately not to drop the soap.

Thane: Thane is a spiritually-inclined drell hitman who is dying of some mysterious disease. He finds out his estranged son has taken a contract in an attempt to follow in his dad’s footsteps and wants to stop him. This mission requires you to track down Thane’s son and turn him back to the path of righteousness.

Samara: I’ll call this one Mommy Issues. Samara is an asari justicar (basically, a Paladin) who is hunting down her daughter, Morinth. Morinth has a genetic defect that makes her a space succubus, and you need to help Samara kill her.

Grunt: Grunt was genetically engineered in a tank. His “father” was a Krogen scientist who created Grunt to be an instrument of destruction. Grunt’s loyalty mission involves proving to the rest of the Krogen that he’s a violent psycho just like them.

Jack: Jack is a tattooed, half-naked whack job who was terrorized as a child by Cerberus agents in an attempt to build a super biotic. In the end, she just needs to be loved. And kill people.

The writing staff of Mass Effect 2 needs serious therapy. Or a hug. I’m not sure. But I guess the crew has to be nuts to follow my resurrected ass around the galaxy.


The Scone Wars

by Monica Jones in


Recently, Devon and I discovered the magic of the baby swing. It shuts off the crying and makes the baby sleep, which has been just short of miraculous. A true miracle would have been a swing that cleans poop out of our baby's vajayjay. With some of the extra time I'm no longer spending bopping up and down the hallway, I've been baking. These whole wheat scones are part of my effort to become to the scone master. It's a lot like a Jedi master but with less baby-stealing.

Whole wheat scones / Photo: Monica Jones

This recipe is modified from "How to Bake: Complete Guide to Perfect Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Tarts, Breads, Pizzas, Muffins" by Nick Malgieri.

Whole Wheat Scones

* This recipe works fine at sea level and about 5300 feet altitude. I haven't tested it higher. ** I used a scone pan because I don't play, but you can use a cookie sheet if you're a normal personal and don't have one. *** You can use 3 cups all-purpose flour instead of 2 cups AP flour and 1 cup whole wheat. If you do, increase the milk to 3/4 cup.

2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup whole-wheat flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 5 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 eggs 1/2 cup milk egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt

Set the rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 450 F.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Cut the butter into a dozen small pieces and rub evenly into the dry mix until it looks like fine cornmeal. I use a pastry cutter or a few pulses in a food processor for this step, but you can criss-cross two forks if you feel like slumming it.

Whisk the eggs and milk together and stir into the flour/butter mixture to form a smooth dough.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces if you have a scone pan. If you're a savage and you're using a cookie sheet, grease the cookie sheet with butter. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, then form each into a 5-inch disk. Using a sharp, floured knife, quarter each disk into 4 wedges. Place the wedges wide apart on the prepared pan.

Apply the egg wash evenly. Allow the eggs wash to dry, then apply again.

Bake the scones for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are firm but not dry.


The Digital Age is here. Check your spam folder.

by Monica Jones in


Back in my day, we knew how to prioritize. Like, if you signed on to Prodigy, you had just enough time to make a sandwich, clean your room, feed the dog and close the door before your Mom heard the modem connect for your 2 am chat session. Kids today like to think they invented staying up all night fucking around online. I don't think I'm becoming a technophobe in my old age. I have yet to yell at anyone to get off my Sim Lawn. With my desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone, I'm more plugged in than ever. I've whiled away many an afternoon with a baby in one hand, a breast pump in the other and my laptop balanced between my knees so I can read books and surf Facebook. That's why I hope a recent New York Times column by Nick Bilton is mostly for funsies. If it's not, then I fear the older generations might be right: My generation might be filled with douche weasels.

Bilton writes about digital etiquette and how it has changed from the old days of answering machines and dead trees. He has some good points, which I'll get to, but he makes the mistake of starting his piece bitching about people who send email and text messages just to say thank you.

Dude, seriously, if you're too busy to deal with someone thanking you, you need to take a step back from your insane lifestyle before you have a stroke and die. No one is too busy to read "thank you." No one.

He sounds even worse when he admits he let his father leave a dozen unanswered voicemail messages, and his sister finally had to tell their Dad to text him. Nice way to treat the guy who contributed half your DNA. To be fair, I never answered my biological mother's voicemail messages, either. But that's because she was a pain in the ass who called me all the time. I've since arranged to call her once a month, and I think we're both happier for it. If someone's bombarding you with messages in a format you don't like, call him and ask him to do something different. Especially if his jizz made you who you are today. It's only fair.

Bilton goes on to quote Baratunde Thurston, co-creator of Creative Wit, a "comedic creative company," whatever that is. Thurston is peeved because people ask him online how they can buy his book when they can just as easily Google the information themselves. How sad. People want to know how they can give Thurston money, and that just sucks up his time like you wouldn't believe. Let me break this tiny violin out of my pill case.

Bilton does have a good point, which I promised I would get to: Know your audience. Odds are good that if you're talking to someone under 30, they'd rather get a text than a voicemail. Find information yourself if it's trivial to do so. That sort of thing. My father-in-law prefers to talk to customer-service reps on the phone. I feel like if I need to talk to a person, the business has failed me.

I have some advice for people at the top of the digital food chain, like Bilton: Don't be surprised if your audience isn't who you think it is. Just because someone chats on Facebook doesn't mean he knows how to use Google Maps. Just because she is 30 doesn't mean she shops online. I have plenty of friends who still use feature phones and pay per text message. Why would they text when email is free?

Throw people a bone when you know they're not riding your digital groove -- you know, people like your Dad.


You just might need more sleep when...

by Monica Jones in


You go all Happy Gilmore on your child's arms. Long-sleeved onesies are an abomination and of the devil at 2 am when your squirmy 2-week-old has just soaked through a diaper. Me to Aurelia's arms: Why don't you just go HOME? That's your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME? ANSWER ME! SUCK MY WHITE ASS, ARM!

We've got her on a pretty regular feeding schedule now. There's nothing quite like looking down at my little angel's face while I feed her -- and listen to her last meal explode out of her ass. Shitting right after we've changed her diaper is her super power. I'm sorry my kid has a lame super power, but at least it's harmless.


Sleep is for weenies

by Monica Jones in


Y'all are probably thinking I abandoned the blog. Nope. I decided to take a few months off to do some things before the baby was born, since I knew the few months after the baby would be a blur of sore nipples and diaper explosions. Aurelia was born six days ago, and so far that prediction has held up.

Labor and delivery ended up being a wild ride. We'd planned on an unmedicated birth, but, sadly, she appears to have my sense of direction. After 50 hours of trying to deliver a baby positioned backward and then sideways, I went for a c-section. She's healthy and wonderful. I'm sore and tired but also doing well.

My thoughts on the labor and delivery are still coalescing into something coherent, but here are some noteworthy items from the first few days post-birth:

-- In the realm of TMI, the first poop after a c-section is a lot like having a contraction -- out of your ass. -- Shitting and peeing yourself in front of strangers annihilates all sense of modesty. My boobs are the world's boobs now. -- Hospital gowns designed for nursing mothers suck. There are two slits for whipping out boobies, but they're not big enough to get a breast through comfortably. I'm not bragging here. I'm pretty average in the size department. So you can't breastfeed with them, but they leave you oddly exposed the rest of the time. -- We have amazing friends and family -- people who visited us in the hospital, gave us lovely baby presents, brought us food and wished us well on Facebook and via email. We are very lucky.


Even nostalgia can't kill Christmas

by Monica Jones in


This last Christmas was my third without Mom and my second without Dad. At the risk of sounding like a jerk, the holidays aren't as difficult as I expected them to be. Veteran's Day is always hard without Dad, which is a weird holiday to feel melancholy about, but it makes sense when you understand how much Dad's world revolved around his four years in the Army. The first Christmas without Mom was difficult, but I find the unexpected moments to be the worst. I'm prepared for the holidays. I'm not always prepared for quiet moments waiting for a plane to take off or spying little old ladies built like bowling balls rummaging through produce at the supermarket. It won't ever be the same as it was when 30 people crammed into my mother's living room to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I won't spend any more days making Christmas cookies with my mother or helping my father decorate the tree. (A neighbor once joked that Dad's 40-year-old Christmas ornaments weren't the oldest balls in the house.) I miss those times, but I think I've retained their spirit.

The decorations and gifts and food were wonderful, but not because they were decorations and gifts and food. I've walked by spectacular displays and barely noticed them. I don't remember many specific gifts. I've eaten good food that I barely tasted. What made holidays special was knowing I was loved and cared for, and I still have that.

I still have a lot of that.

I have aunts and uncles and cousins and old friends who ground me to my past and remind me that I have always been loved. I have a husband and new friends who remind me that the present is worthwhile, and that the future is too important to get lost in the weeds.

Some things are better now than they were then. I don't have to spend the day watching every word I say in fear that it's going to set off World War III. Christmas dinners aren't going to end in drunken cursing matches. Nostalgia often makes things warmer and fuzzier than they ever really were.

I think again about those days making Christmas cookies with Mom. Sometimes she would cry, and when I asked her why she was crying, she said it was because she missed her own mother so much. My daughter will be named after my grandmother, a woman I can barely remember but who helped shape an entire lifetime of Christmases.

Shaping the holidays for my daughter is my job now, and as I think about the task in front of me, I find myself calling on my mother's memory. Knowing she won't be here to see my daughter's face or show pictures of her new granddaughter to her friends makes me feel like I've been robbed, much like she must have felt felt when I admitted that I didn't remember very much of my grandmother, who died when I was 2. I don't believe in God, but I believe in an afterlife where my parents are OK, where they can see that I'm happy. I know I'm deluding myself, but I need it and I don't care.

But it's OK. Even the good stuff is bittersweet when you're an adult. Holidays are better now than they were 25 years ago -- sadder, with less sheer exuberance, but with more texture because of what my parents left behind.