In which I answer anything, Vol. 3!

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

ABSOSHAWARMALUTELY!

Will you be my valentine

ABSOSHAWARMALUTELY!!!!!!

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.
Who are you?
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.
Jeet jet?
No, jew?

In which I answer anything, Vol. 2

You’re too generous! I had to save about half the questions for next time.

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Q. Who was worse – Samantha Bee or Roseanne?

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A. This is like asking which is worse, the color of the carpet in the Hindenburg or the color of the barstool upholstery in the Hindenburg. There may be a legitimate answer, but on the other hand, KA-BLAMMO.
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 Q. Why a duck?

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A. According to Wikipedia,

The duck is a recurring reference throughout the Marxes’ and especially Groucho’s career. His signature walk was called “the duck walk” and on Groucho’s television program You Bet Your Life a stuffed duck made up to resemble Groucho would drop from the ceiling to give contestants money if they said the day’s secret word. Ducks are the only animals that perform lines in the song “Everyone Says I Love You” in the Marx Brothers’ fourth film, Horse Feathers. Their fifth film was called Duck Soup. 
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Though scholarly, this entry fails to mention that ducks are just intrinsically funny, and that’s why. Wikipedia also notes that the article contains original research. I also have my doubts about the construction of “Marxes’.”
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Q. You’re stranded on a desert island with your children. There is no food. Who do you eat first?

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A. Anyone without a summer job.
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Q. When you see FB requests for prayer, what sort of prayer do you offer up? I usually say a Hail Mary, but that’s if I stop scrolling…
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A. A Hail Mary if it’s a “stop everything and ask for a miracle for this person you know well.” Otherwise, probably a “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy” or “Jesus, so-and-so needs your help right now,” plus a mental note that this person is officially included in my evening intentions, whether I remember it then or not. I’m lazy, but I work with my laziness, rather than thinking I should be less lazy and then not doing anything at all.
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Q. Re: the yogurt marinated chicken with chickpeas recipe. Did the chickpeas actually get crunchy when I cooked it? There was so much chicken drippings that most of the chickpeas were soft and oily and none of them got crunchy.
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A. Occasionally they do, and I don’t know what kind of garbanzo voodoo that is. Usually I serve chicken and softer chickpeas to whoever’s hungriest, and then put the rest of the chickpeas back in the oven for 7-8 minutes to crisp up. We don’t even all fit in the dining room at once, so we have sort of a rolling dinnertime most nights.
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Q. Three men in a cafe order a meal the total cost of which is $15. They each contribute $5. The waiter takes the money to the chef who recognizes the three as friends and asks the waiter to return $5 to the men.

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The waiter is not only poor at mathematics but dishonest and instead of going to the trouble of splitting the $5 between the three he simply gives them $1 each and pockets the remaining $2 for himself.

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Now, each of the men effectively paid $4, the total paid is therefore $12. Add the $2 in the waiters pocket and this comes to $14.

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Where has the other $1 gone from the original $15?

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A. Well, friend-o, my SAT scores were as lopsided at a nursing mother whose baby doesn’t like the left side of the bed. I can divide grams of carbs by the current dinner ratio, and then I hit a wall. Luckily, I don’t care.
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Q. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
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Q. Where do you bury your Soros money?
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A. Directly under my altar to Bamophette, goddess of toxic feminism. Around it I keep a little mandrake root garden, which I water with the blood of gentiles once a year on Chuck Norris’ birthday. I got the idea on Pinterest.
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Q. Can blondes wear yellow?
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A. This is what my kids call “physically illegal.” They say this because (a) they don’t know what words mean and (b) they are trying to be annoying, so don’t listen to them. If it makes you feel awesome, then wear it, as long as your ass cheeks aren’t hanging out. That’s just stupid.
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Q. I have three kids. My mental health is taxed out anyway, and parenting as you know is hard. I’m remaining open to life out of obedience to church teaching, not a sense of love or internal belief. How do you remain open to life in such a real way, and what’s your advice for folks like me?
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A. Parenting is hard. I would say that doing something out of obedience is very much like doing it out of love. At any rate, you’re sure not going to get any closer to loving the Lord if you start out with disobedience; so you’re on the right track.
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As far as being open to life: As long as you’re not using artificial contraception, pursuing abortion, or abusing your spouse, your marriage is open to life. Being open to life doesn’t mean “hoping and praying to have more and more and more babies.” It means being honest about what sex is, acting accordingly, and making your choices according to the true needs of the people in your family. Very often, that looks like having three lovely, exhausting children.
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Q. What is the average air speed velocity of swallow laden with a coconut? (Both African and European)
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A. Same number as the odds I’ll ever do an AMA and not get this question.
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Q. What would you do for a klondike bar?
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A. I would buy two packs of them if they’re on sale, but my involvement ends there, as chocolate is a migraine trigger.
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Q. What are your favourite desserts?
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A. Make it with lemon or lime and I’m all over it.
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Q. What was the best online criticism of your work that you ever read? Not something crazy or mean but something that caused you to think “That person has a point. I will adjust accordingly.”
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A. I gave this question its own whole essay! Stay tuned.
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Q. Do you agree with Pope Saint John Paul II calling abortion a holocaust?
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A. I don’t feel strongly about it either way, and I have little patience for proxy arguments, which I think this one usually is. Many of those who object to the word “holocaust” are really objecting to the idea of being unequivocally pro-life; and many who defend the use of the word “holocaust” are not so much pro-life as they are anti-pro-choicers.
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Q. How do you get an almost-one-year-old to let you brush his brand new teeth, that took eleven months to cut?
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A. As a bad mother, I don’t bother. These things do get easier once you have a good supply of older kids for the younger ones to imitate.
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Q. Do you think we will eventually colonize Antarctica?
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A. It never occurred to me to wonder. I did recently find out that “arktos” means “bear” in Greek, and that’s where Antarctica got its name: by not having bears. I follow this same policy.
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Q. Scotch, Bourbon or Irish?
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A. I’m just not a big fan of yellow booze. If pressed, I’d have to choose bourbon, but never again will I drink bourbon out of a plastic Arizona Diamondbacks cup. Brr.
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Q. How do you convince/teach an 8, a 6, and a 4 y/o to not terrorize each other?
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A. You could try making the aggressive kid be the victim’s slave for half an hour, which redirects their energy. But really the only way to attack this problem is to address it consistently every single time it happens, no matter what else is going on, until the rotten kid gets the message; and once you start making headway, you should expect relapses.

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Q. Also, how do you teach an extremely curious 8 y/o with low impulse control to stop breaking everything?

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A. Sorry, I have no idea. Maybe start helping him to notice when he’s getting that “must mess with stuff” feeling, so he can do a self-intervention, and instead choose a pre-planned alternate activity, like popping bubble wrap or something? That sounds kind of lame. But I’m a big believer in teaching kids to be aware of what they’re doing and to get in the habit of making choices, rather than just giving them consequences afterward. It’s a lot of work, though.
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Q. Will you please pray for my children?
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A. Of course.
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Q. Any suggestions on how to help shy children actually play with kids other than their siblings? We’re starting regular playdates, but is there anything else I can do to help her?
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A. It’s not so terrible to be shy. If it’s making the kid unhappy, it’s okay to help him practice lines to say, like, “My name is Charlie! What’s your name?” or “That looks like a fun game. Can I play with you guys?” but if the child is happy on his own, and is not being rude to other kids, I say let him be.
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Q. Summer ideas that don’t require mom’s participation for the “I’m bored” crowd. Also, my kids…read too much. There. I said it. It’s still a form of passive entertainment & I want them to have a broader experience of summer that doesn’t require me to be an activities director.
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A. I cannot acknowledge this as a real problem. Reading is not passive entertainment, unless it’s a truly crappy, worthless book. It engages and nourishes the mind. Just think of the difference between being interrupted at scrolling through Facebook, and being interrupted while reading. It’s a totally different sensation, the difference between working in the sun and lying under a sunlamp. Unless their bodies are becoming unhealthy from too much sitting, let the kids read!
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Q. How the heck do you live with a three year old, without constantly giving in to tantrums, or making the kid basically live in his room?!? Asking for a friend.
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A. Four is better. That’s all I got.
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Q. Does Soros still pay by paper check or does he do direct deposit yet?
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A. He used to issue checks made from human skin, but then hipsters made that kind of passé, so now he transmits digital funds directly into the pleasure center of my brain, which gives me the confidence to demand credit, which I won’t have to pay back because I’m also working on hastening the apocalypse. He also sometimes sends JiffyLube coupons.
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Q. When my cat used to lick my arm, was she grooming me, or tasting me?
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A. Almost certainly not grooming. When my oldest was about three, she noted that she tasted like sour cream and onion. I always meant to mention this to the pediatrician.
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Q. Every time I bake a whole chicken or turkey, even though the bird tests done, when I lift it out of the pan, this gross, bloody-looking liquid drains out of the cavity. That can’t be right. What am I doing wrong?
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A. I have solved this problem by resolving never again to cook a whole chicken. It’s one of the most thankless tasks known to mankind, and I’m calling bullshit on the whole thing. That being said, you can probably just tip that sucker out, put it back in the oven for eight minutes, and when the smoke alarm goes off, tell your family that you did your best and you’re going to go lie down now, and you don’t want to hear anything about who gets the effing drumsticks.
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Q. Did you ever have issues being confident in your parenting choices? If so, how did you deal with it?

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A. Confidence has less to do with knowing you’re doing the right thing, and more to do with accepting that of course you’re sometimes doing the wrong thing, but you’re doing the right thing often enough that it’s okay; and plus you’re smart enough to change if it becomes really obvious that your current plan is a bloody disaster. Anyway, I’m drinking more.
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Q. How to earn a living from blogging about religion and philosophy.
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A. Expect to work for free for a long time, build up a loyal audience by being honest and interesting, and then put ads on your site.
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Q. Do you ever feel like you’re faking this whole adulthood thing?
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A. I’ve only met a few people who don’t feel that way, and they’re generally about to get sued for horrible behavior, and they’re the only ones who don’t know why.
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Q. What should I ask you?
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A. Reminds me of this:

 

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Q. If you could have any guest on the podcast, who would you get?
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A. My mother. I tried to interview her several years ago, and she felt her mind was already too far gone, so she backed out. She would have been good, though. Interested in just about everything. Except cooking.
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Q. why is it so so SO hot here in Eastern Ontario today .. like I know I shouldn’t complain, but I’m overweight and I have knockers so sweat is a real and uncomfortable reality.
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A. Nobody knows why anything is the way it is in Ontario, but if they sell Gold Bond Powder and Body Glide in Canada, I’d start there.
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Q. What are your favorite cocktails other than gin and tonics?
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A. If forced to branch out, I could go for a margarita (just a regular margarita-flavored one; no chocolate or watermelon nonsense) or a Long Island iced tea, even though I don’t like iced tea. It’s a puzzler. Dark and Stormies are also very fine for summer parties. I was into mojitos for a while, somewhat after everyone else was into mojitos, but then I got tired of them, just like everyone else. Here’s a bit more.
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Q. Should I get a cat?
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A. No.
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A. Who killed JFK?

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A. The cat. Actually he just bit JFK a couple of times, then stunned him, then bit him again, then lost track of him, then fell asleep on top of him, and then let America find him on the bath mat in the morning, with bare feet.