January got me down. So I did an “ask me anything” on Facebook. I skipped a few hard ones, but here’s most of my answers:
Are you pregnant?!
I am pregnant with ennui and will soon give birth to a red-faced, squalling bundle of . . . I dunno, more ennui or whatever.
Are you sick of people asking if you’re pregnant?
Only if they’re asking because I’m fat. If they’re asking because they can’t bear the thought of going through 2019 with only the twelve extant Fishers, we can talk. Bring tacos.
What did you do about your teens and phones?
We yell at the older ones for not reading more books, and have decided not to let the younger ones have them until they get much older. Also we have family screen-free time from 7-9, if we haven’t fallen off the wagon (which we currently have). We talk to them about pornography and why it wrecks lives. We take them to confession whenever they ask to go, no questions asked. It’s not great, but we’re patching things together as we go. I hate it, and I’m the worst offender for phone overuse.
What did Corrie put up her nose today?
Nothing, thanks be to Proboscitron, minor god of nostril-sized objects, mucus membranes, and mothers who can’t even.
What’s your philosophy about home decor? I mean, you have one, right?
There needs to be a crucifix somewhere public. You should have some clue that this is a Catholic house. And everything that’s hanging up should be there for a reason, even if that reason is “I want this kid to know I’m thinking about him.” I’m pretty vehemently opposed to decor that looks like displays, rather than decoration. Everyone lives laughs and loves, so shut up about that. Light is more important than anything else. Paint walls colors that will help you through the gray winter. Clutter has no moral significance unless it’s unhygienic or dangerous. Someone needs to do something about that cup of milk. Just go ahead and buy a new rug sometimes.
How do you broach sexuality with your children and continue to teach them the church’s position as they encounter the world’s message?
With the youngest kids, we talk about how babies are made, framed in terms of “God wants us to do it this way when we are married, because if we do it when we’re not married, you can still make a baby and babies are good, but it makes life much harder for everyone.” As they get older, we have frank but awkward (and too infrequent) conversations as they seem relevant, about contraception, love, marriage, homosexuality, transgender issues, etc. It’s a mess. I’m really hoping the example of a respectful and affectionate marriage carries a lot of weight.
What’s the most disappointing internet exchange you’ve had? And what’s the best?
Most disappointing? When a bunch of people I thought of as friends stood by and let another women who used to be my friend tell outrageous lies about me. It was really hard to recover from that. It was personally hurtful, and also very discouraging to realize how acceptable it’s become to viciously oust someone based purely on your desire to feel . . . something.
The best, most interesting, challenging, and fruitful internet exchanges I have these days are in small, private groups. I can’t remember the last time I participated in a fruitful public conversation. Everyone is just too much of an asshole, including me. The irony is that I wouldn’t have met any of these friends if it weren’t for the internet. The internet giveth and the internet mucketh everything up.
How does one go about potty training when there’s a baby who has to be sequestered in a quiet, dark room in order to take a nap at least once, usually twice per day, with usually only one person over the age of 5 and that person is putting the baby to sleep because that person has the milk (and also has hit the age of reason, unlike everyone else in the house)?
We just don’t count on naps. It’s horrible and unjust, but naps just aren’t something I ever counted on. It’s a hard, hard season, but it does pass. I’m sorry.
Whats the temperature outside?
2. Just regular winter. It’s not our turn to have frozen hell right now. Although I did leave a seltzer can in the car overnight like a freaking rookie, and now I have blobs of frozen foam all over the dashboard.
Will you write an endorsement for my book? 😀 (I was just about to send you an email, lol.)
I will email you, but I pre-recommend that everyone read JoAnna Wahlund’s book! She’s good.
Shawarma recipe please
Will you be my valentine
For Catholics with bits of Jewish genes but without much context, where would you recommend looking for resources on Jewish practices, prayers, story, etc to better understand?
I would start at the Association of Hebrew Catholics, which was formed exactly for this purpose. They also have a Facebook group which is fairly quiet but full of neat people.
What are your favorite boots for winter warmth and comfort.
Keens. They are pricey, but they are on sale at this time of year.
What makes you roll your eyes every time you read/hear it?
Everything. Just everything, right now. I’m looking more to music and art, because everything everyone says is terrible.
What’s the story behind your Jewish roots and becoming Catholic?
As Corrie said when Clara asked her how she got candy up her nose, “It’s a long story, man.” My mother wrote up some of her/our story in Honey From the Rock.
what was the poem you read 2 podcasts ago? (not the last one but the one before) Thanks!
“The Snow Is Deep On the Ground” by Kenneth Patchen
Underwire or wire-free?
Peasant ancestry says: Underwire every day! By the way, I highly recommend using the bra fitting technique in this reddit thread.
What would you say to one of your children if they told you they were gay?
It would depend which kid, I guess, and how old. It’s hard to imagine I’d be surprised, so mostly I would thank the kid for entrusting me with the information, and I would assure them we loved them and would always be their parents, and then we’d go from there.
When does it get cold outside enough to freeze a dragon’s breath?
Is this an Excalibur question? Because I won’t answer Excalibur questions.
What do people most often wrongly assume about you?
That I hate the Latin Mass. I actually love and miss it. Now that the St. Benedict Center isn’t having Mass, I believe the Bishop has arranged for a TLM once a month at St. Stanislaus in Winchester, so I’m hoping to get there sometime soon.
What is your secret to…
You lay a knife flat against the clove and smash it before trying to peel.
Have you ever been to an Eastern Christian Holy Week service?
No! But I want to!
Have you ever been to Mass/Divine Liturgy/Holy Mysteries in another rite? Which one, and did it “do” anything for you or was it just Mass is Mass is Mass?
My mother used to go to Divine Liturgy at the Russian Orthodox church in town, and eventually had to stop, because it was too hard to go back to the regular novus ordo-My Little Pony-in communion with Rome-Mass on Sunday. I suspect it would have the same effect on me to visit another rite. We went to the Museum of Icons in Clinton, MA, and I just about turned into soup. We sometimes talk about going to the Melkite church in Manchester, but we haven’t managed it yet.
how are your parents doing?
Okay, thanks. My mother isn’t consumed with nervous anxiety and has put on some weight. My father is getting by, and visits her every day.
How do you examine your conscience before confession? Like, is there a good way to do this? I always do a bad job in the car on the way there, which isn’t exactly helpful.
Mostly, I do a quickie run-through on the way in the car, usually based on the seven deadly sins, and then we almost always have to wait in line, so I ask the Holy Spirit to show me the one big thing He wants me to know about myself, and sometime He obliges.
Who is your favourite saint and which saint do you find it hardest to warm to?
I feel really bad about how much I don’t know about saints. St. Clare always strikes a chord with me. She was so practical and fearless.
Which child is your favorite child
The one who doesn’t make barfing sounds when I say what’s for supper.
When/why did you get comfortable calling yourself a feminist? Or wait, do you?
I grew up thinking that women had already made all the gains that were necessary, and anyone who still pushed for feminist principles just wanted women to be like men. Then I got some real-life experiences that showed me how complicated life can be, how sad and useless are so many gender stereotypes, and how much of my world view was predicated on sort of quietly accepting that women are stupid, emotional, feeble, and untrustworthy. So I saw that we still have plenty of work to do. It’s especially egregious when misogyny is presented as part of Catholicism, so that’s the kind of misogyny I most often argue against. Because Catholics ought to know better.
How do you feed and raise 10 kids and a husband and some animals, maintain a house, write amazing beautiful things, perform some self-care activities, and not poop out? And (I ask as someone who also suffers with anxiety and has imposter syndrome) how do you forgive yourself when you do not do those things to your own standards?
I dunno. I’m not doing so great right now, probably mostly because it’s January and I haven’t been running in six weeks. My life isn’t harder than other people’s lives. In a lot of ways, it’s easier. The best thing I can say is that everyone makes compromises, and the best policy is to choose your compromises deliberately, and to make a conscious effort to listen to and believe people who say you’re doing all right.
Have any of your children decided they don’t believe/don’t want to go to Mass? How did/would you deal with it? (Assuming the child was under 18)
This is not something we’ve had to deal with. I didn’t want to go when I was a teenager, and my parents did require me to go, so I just stood in back alone. I’m glad they made me do it, although I hated it at the time. I wish they had gotten me help with mental health and been less confrontational, but other than that, it seemed like a reasonable way to manage it. I know they prayed for me and still do.
What would you say to encourage other Catholics dealing with mental illness and discerning starting (or growing) a family?
I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this. I do know that people with mental illnesses can be good parents and have strong families, and also that mental illness is real illness, and shouldn’t be shunted aside as something that you can just muscle through. God wants you to be whole and well, so someone struggling with mental illness should work with a therapist and, if possible, a spiritual director to help work through these choices.
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
What are your favorite dishes to cook or bake?
I really enjoy making soup. It’s just so satisfying to start with the oil and spices, add vegetables, build it up little by little. Love it.
How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?
Hmm. Do they all need their own carseats, or what?
HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF, WOMAN???
I’m locked into a long-term lease, but as soon as it’s up, I’m outa here.
What brand hair dye would you recommend for a kid under 12 who wants purple hair (from dark blonde) but a mom who prefers not to bleach first?
I haven’t found one product that works well for all kids. My kids have very different hair, and how well the color adheres is unpredictable. We had pretty good luck with Ion Color Brilliance, which we got at Sally. Don’t wash too often, and if you do, mix some dye in with the conditioner.
Who will play you (and the rest of your family) in the sure-to-be-a-blockbuster hit, The Simcha Fisher Story?
Abe Vigoda in all the parts, including the cat.
Public, like a frog.
Which character on the masked singer is Donnie Wahlberg?
I don’t know what this is. I don’t say this in an elitist, braggy way. I just don’t, just like I don’t know what the Korean War was about and I don’t understand how magnetic eyelashes work.
How can I get on the Soros payroll and get a duct tape ottoman?
Enrollment closed in mid-January. If you would like to get on the waiting list before the next period, simply submit your twelve-point plan for infiltrating the Church written in the blood of a gentile, obvs with a self addressed stamped envelope and you should receive your duct tape within 6-8 weeks.
How do you raise middle schoolers?
Notice everything, ignore most, remedy a little.
You alluded to a long-term goal of removing carbs-as-a-side from family dinners. How has having a child with type 1 diabetes changed your view of carbs?
A little? I guess I had to reorganize some categories of what was healthy food and what was less healthy. I just get tired of potatoes, that’s all.
Do you have secret cancer?
Always and everywhere.
Paper, plastic, or?
I like to bring a crumpled Aldi bags with sour milk stuck in the creases and some random spoons, peanuts, and legos and whatnot in the bottom. I enjoy it.
Is intersectional critical theory satanic?
I read this as “interclitoral,” so possibly you don’t want any further of my thoughts on the matter.
Speaking of going from Judaism to Catholicism. Were you the only one to convert, or was it a family thing, or are you the second generation? How do you decide which traditions are… acceptable? … to continue and which ones belong to actual practicing Jews? Is Damien a convert from Judaism too? What was it like for him to begin incorporating Jewish traditions if he doesn’t have a Jewish background?
Oh gosh, I was like four when I was baptized. My parents were raised as cultural Jews, and went through a series of other religions before they became Christian, and it was then that their Jewish heritage took on religious significance. We are still working on ways of integrating Jewish practice with our Catholic faith. Damien is Scots Irish Catholic with a shot of Cherokee, but he has always been enthusiastic about our kids’ Jewish heritage, so we work through it together.