The Obscurity of This Week’s Words

The obscurity of this week’s words

should be called

Revisting the Nut Museum


there are dead animals hanging off the side of your house

Damn it. And

oh pish posh…

Socialism Hurts: Pray

pray because

Jesus Falls the First Time is so illuminatingly clever it should be a poem


the poets are full-moonish today

and we’re about to be

ambushed by a room full of cat ladies

But I do

love Pops atop dunes


Is that moonshine in your back seat?

Whooooo cooks for me!
Whooooo cooks for me!

Words spoken, written, or glimpsed in the past week. Get over it. ©2019, Jen Payne. IMAGE: Nutcracker by Jim Dine, 1973.

Christmas: We’re All A Little Mad Here

Yesterday, while making my way in six lanes of holiday traffic through what locals affectionately call The Pretzel, I was blessed to catch a snippet of David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries.”

Santaland is beautiful. It really is. It’s a wonderland with 10,000 twinkling lights and diversions. People enter and walk through a maze, which affords views of mechanical dancing penguins, train sets, spinning bears, and really big candy canes. They walk through a quarter mile of maize and wind up at the magic tree, at which point they brace themselves for Santa.

Above the din of holiday horns-a-beeping, I was delighted to hear this classic Sedaris piece that tells the story of his time working as an elf at Macy’s during Christmas.

Partnered with Sedaris’ take on the holidays was David Rakoff’s essay “Christmas Freud,” about the time he portrayed Sigmund Freud in a department store Christmas window.

In the window, I fantasize about starting an entire Christmas Freud movement. Christmas Freuds everywhere, providing grown-ups and children alike with the greatest gift of all, insight. In department stores across America, people leave display window couches snifflingly and meaningfully whispering, thank you, Christmas Freud, shaking his hand fervently, their holiday angst, if not dispelled, at least brought into starker relief.

So, yes, yes, that was me – driving next to you laughing so much and so hard you probably thought I’d gone mad. But we’re all mad here, aren’t we? Especially this time of year!

Both of these gems were first broadcast in 1996 on NPR’s This American Life. The episode “Christmas and Commerce” featured four acts: “Toys R Us” by Ira Glass, “Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris, “Christmas Freud” by David Rakoff, and “Act Four” by John Connors.

Do yourself a BIG favor and…

Click here to listen to the complete broadcast or
Click here to listen to individual chapters

You’re welcome.  xoxo

Read This Blog Post to Find Out if You Can Self-Care Like the Best of Them

Back in the day, we looked to Cosmo to gauge our place in the world. Remember those one-page quizzes toward the back of Cosmopolitan magazine that quantified how successful, how sexy, how happy we would make our mates? The internet blew that out of the bathwater with its interactive quizzes now featured prominently on sites like BuzzFeed and PopSugar. Today, you can find out the name of your soulmate, your Disney princess doppelganger, and where you should take your next vacation — all by checking a few advertiser-sponsored check boxes.

It’s fun and harmless — although I am pretty sure each quiz is a personality test that feeds some giant Big Brother algorithm destined to come back to haunt you. Nursing Home Intake: We see here you are a Lucky Charms/Gryffindor/Snow White/Cat Lover? Third Floor!

But recently, I came upon a much more relevant quiz than Are you more Winnie the Pooh or Paddington Bear? This one was titled If You’ve Done Any Of These Things Today, You’re Actually Doing Better Than You Think, written by Patrice Peck (Buzzfeed).

Call this Candy Corn curious!

“If you’ve done any of these things today, you’re actually doing better than you think,” Peck writes, “because life is really, really hard.”

And there it was — right in the middle of a little mindless time out — a BIG reminder about self-care. You know, those things we know we should do for ourselves much more often than we actually do? Like:

  • You hit snooze this morning to give your body and mind some extra TLC.
  • You haven’t given up on your professional dreams.
  • And you haven’t given up on your personal dreams.
  • You remembered to drink water throughout the day.
  • You have community, including work family, a MeetUp group, your neighborhood.
  • You went to the gym.
  • You’ve read a book that made you feel something.
  • You called a friend or family member.
  • You laughed at something funny.
  • You thanked someone.
  • You checked off at least ONE thing on your to do list.
  • You listened to some damn good music.
  • You wrote in your journal.
  • You flossed.
  • You got through the day in one piece, physically and mentally.

Now as much as we might guffaw at these quizzes — What kind of Sandwich are you? or Are you More Cake or Pie? — they are, in themselves, a little bit of self-care, aren’t they?

Silly. Nonsensical. Irrelevant. Unproductive. Immature.


And who, in the middle of this really, really hard stuff, doesn’t need a little of that?


Essay ©2018 Jen Payne. QUIZ: “If You’ve Done Any Of These Things Today, You’re Actually Doing Better Than You Think” by Patrice Peck, September 14, 2018, ©2018 BuzzFeed/As Is. IMAGE: Woman in Bath,
Roy Lichtenstein.  SOME ANSWERS: Isaac, Snow White, Amalfi Coast, Winnie the Pooh, PB&J, Cake.


The Love-Hate Challenge


Recently, the lovely C.B. Wentworth invited me to the LOVE-HATE CHALLENGE. Never one to pass up a chance to flex my blogging muscles, I’ve taken up the gauntlet. The rules are pretty simple:

• Make a list of 10 things you love
• Make a list of 10 things you hate
• Nominate 10 bloggers

First of all, there are very few things I hate-hate. I was raised to be open-minded and try-everything-once, and I do my best to maintain those qualities in my daily life. (Besides, I’d much rather focus on the positive.)

But, why don’t I start with HATE, so we can get those out of the way. Ready?


  1. the absolutes of religion, politics, and western medicine
  2. lack of respect for the serial comma
  3. animal cruelty and the abuse of our environment
  4. complainers who aren’t problem solvers
  5. hypocracy
  6. learning the same lesson over and over again
  7. the inexorable invasiveness of technology
  8. development in the name of consumerism
  9. futile pursuits and being unproductive
  10. umami

Done. Now for the good stuff: LOVE!


  1. a really good book you don’t want to put down; reading; bookstores; used book sales; the smell of old books; bookshelves
  2. music as a life soundtrack; finding new music; singing out loud in my car
  3. going places; taking vacations; seeing new things; planning the next trip; maps, brochures, and tourist information centers
  4. the magic of serendipity, friendships, and falling in love; messages from angels
  5. early morning walks, walks on the off-season beach, walks in the rain; being out and about in nature
  6. taking time off and being as off-the-grid as I can tolerate; airplane mode on my iphone; realizing there’s no wifi
  7. yoga, breathing, and sanskrit chanting; incense; the sound my yoga mat makes when I roll it out on the floor; downward dog
  8. creating: writing, photography, art, food
  9. anything and anyone that makes me laugh, the harder and louder and longer the better
  10. coffee; donuts; cookies; pizza; red meat; Mexican food in Texas
  11. semicolons; not following the rules

Wanna Try? Here are 10 bloggers I’m challenging, but please, feel free to jump right in and leave your 10 Things in the comments below!

(Thanks C.B.! xoxo)


Crowing Crone

Life Is Full of Sweet Spots

Ordinary Handsome


Party and Soul

Promenade Plantings

Seven Sisters Arts

Spirituality without Borders


Writing on the Rim

IMAGE: Life Death Love Hate Pleasure Pain, Bruce Nauman, 1983

The Promise of Costco


Oh good, I just read
we’ll have a new store!
I was worried a moment:
where would I buy more?

More trinkets and whatnots,
more must-haves and then,
not one or two thingies
but eight, nine…no TEN!

Ten more things to purchase,
ten more for display,
ten more for the storage
I rented today.

©2015, Jen Payne

Holiday Yoga 101


HOLIDAY YOGA POSE #1: Holding tongue, restraining ego, walking on eggshells. Breathe.

HOLIDAY YOGA POSE #2: Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Rinse. Repeat.

HOLIDAY YOGA POSE #3: Feet firmly planted on the ground, eyes closed, shoulders surrendered. Mantra: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

HOLIDAY YOGA POSE #4: Allow shoulders to drop weight of the world. Unfurrow and relax third-eye chakra. Convince hips to let gravity keep you grounded. Remind lungs that the body needs oxygen, most especially this time of year. Breathe.

HOLIDAY YOGA POSE #5: Find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes. Feel yourself firm against the ground and be grateful for gravity, the earth, the floor, the place you call home. Breathe deeply and be grateful for oxygen, your lungs, the ability to breath. Clear you mind of its week-before-Christmas busyness and fill it instead with all of the things for which you can be grateful this moment, this day, this week, this month, this season.

HOLIDAY YOGA POSE #6: Lie on the floor with your eyes closed, arms and legs relaxed. Get comfortable – maybe a pillow for your head, or a blanket to cover up. Let the ground hold you up, and breathe long, slow, deep breaths. Let your thoughts drift away, and enjoy this traditional Shavasana (Sanskrit) / Nap (common) pose to rejuvenate body, mind and Christmas spirit.




[100-word fiction]

In Nashville, she bought a rock star coat — black leather with sequin-flowered sleeves and a rhinestone, mid-calf hem. In the dressing room, she laughed — it was a perfect fit. “I’d never wear it,” she told the saleswoman. “Back home, we’re all L.L. Bean and Talbots.” She bought it anyway and hung it by the door – her alter-ego, set in wait. Then she met her new neighbors, Zach and Joe, walking their two chihuahuas. “This is Amy and this is Pacho,” Zack said, “they have a cabaret act.” When they invited her to their house-warming party, she knew exactly what to wear.

From the archives, while I work on finishing my book. Words and photo, ©2008, Jen Payne. Previously published online at Six Sentences.