I was having my teeth cleaned a while back and during one of the many times I was asked to crank open my mouth in order for them to recreate this Far Side cartoon the dentist asked me if I had any discomfort in my jaw. She pointed out that my jaw sort of pops when I open my mouth, like the hinge doesn’t operate smoothly, and I instantly — like, instantly, as though a wind-up string in my back had been released — made some sort of cringe-worthy blowjob joke, and she made a notation in my chart. Patient has issues with TMI. Also possibly TMJ.

I didn’t think much of it at the time (too busy calculating the best place to fling myself into traffic after that BJ comment) but in the last several days my jaw has gotten … stuck, I guess. Like occasionally I can’t open my mouth past a certain point. It doesn’t hurt, and it seems like a transitory thing, but it definitely impacts one of my greatest joys in life: wedging an endless glistening parade of veiny cocks into my food.

I don’t tend to picture myself as someone who bravely perseveres in the face of adversity. I’m more of a Lie In Bed Weakly Surfing Cat Photos Until Life’s Crushing Weight Lessens Just a Smidge person. But let me tell you, I have discovered great internal resolve when it comes to continuing to shovel in calories despite what amounts to a padlock on the front entryway. While a lesser woman might wait a few minutes for her jaw to return to its normal state of operation, I’ve found myself doggedly turning spoons sideways, slicing things into smaller pieces, and eating hunched over plates in case the portion I’m attempting gets partially rejected by my reduced food-hole. I also recently summoned the strength to chatter-teeth my way through pretty much an entire bag of overly dry beef jerky, despite muscle-seizing evidence that I should have gone for the yogurt instead. Steve Holt!

All in all, my endurance through these temporary bouts of increased eating difficulty levels remind me that I am capable of far more than I give myself credit for. Let the obituary read that she never, ever gave up on Bit-O-Honeys.

Confession: we bought a fake Christmas tree. Now, depending on your perspective, you’re probably either Awwww but nothing can replace the charm of a real tree or FUCK YES TEAM FAKE. I’m finding a lot to like about the artificial variety: no spiders, no mess dragging it in or taking it down, built-in lights that can be switched between multicolor (the kids’ favorite) or all-white (best!), and no need to vacuum 17 times a day as it dumps a continuous needle-sprinkle every-fucking-where. Cons: no pine smell, and yeah, at the end of the day it’s a big old hunk of wires and plastic. Still, did I mention the lack of needles and spiders? And the fact that there are all sorts of nice spruce-scented candles?

I initially said I still wanted to get a real one — a small one to sit on the porch, maybe — for the experience of visiting a farm and cutting our own but the recent Biblical levels of rain in Oregon have made that activity sound muddy and unappealing. The kids are perfectly happy with what we’ve got, so I’m calling it: TEAM FAKE.

This is the first year I’ve been a little head-scratchy about presents for the kids. Both of them are completely obsessed with sports, to the point that other obsessions have mostly fallen by the wayside. I did not predict I would mourn the absence of Legos strewn across every surface of the house, but I guess I prefer a bruised instep over the blare of “Top Best Most Awesome Amazeballs Buzzer Beaters!” YouTube videos which are comprised entirely of low quality video, annoying music, and people shouting at the top of their goddamned lungs. (“OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”) Since they weren’t very helpful in terms of expressing reality-based desires (both of them wanted “real Oregon Ducks helmets,” apparently for the dual purpose of draining our bank account and giving each other concussions in the front yard, and Riley wants an iPhone, which ha ha ha no), I tried to think of things that might help with the cabin fever brought on by our miserly winter daylight hours (“Sorry kids, I know you just had lunch but it’s time to come inside. Remember, at night the ice weasels come”).

Here’s what we came up with: this basketball hoop to replace the cheap broken one that’s dangling from the downstairs door like a loose tooth (along with two fresh non-dog-chewed mini foam basketballs), a “motors and generators” kit for Riley (Snap Circuits were a HUGE hit last year), this stuffed pelican for Dylan (he asked for something like this months ago [when we visited Klamath Falls where every business is named Pelican Something-or-Other which led us to assume we’d see plenty of the actual birds there but we never did] and I have no idea if it’ll hold any long-lasting appeal, but if it provides some cuddly delight on Christmas morning I’ll be happy), the Wrinkle in Time graphic novel for Riley, The Day the Crayons Quit for Dylan, and for both of them, this slotless racecar system (I lingered over the more popular Anki Overdrive starter kit but apparently it’s controlled by a mobile app, which means it would have been the perfect choice if I were also gifting Riley a phone, OHHHHHHHHH). Also I got this bag of assorted Pokemon whatsits which they’ve been finding in their advent box each morning. What else — fingerless gloves, garish basketball socks, and jersey type pants so I can hopefully convince them to dress for the weather when they’re playing outside. Plus this behemoth Batcave for their 4-year-old cousin.

If you’re shopping for kids this year, what did you get?

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