Swap P%rn


I hate stuff. I hate my stuff, and I hate your stuff, too. My dream home is a teepee. Or at least one of those tiny houses <250 square feet where our kitchen island is our dining table is our platform bed is our dog crate. When we invite friends over for movie night, we’ll enjoy a glass of wine (literally, we’ll pass around a single glass) and no one will mind that the pull-down projection screen/room divider/shower door is about 4 feet from our faces because this place is so minutely awesome.

I’ve started imagining a grand bargain where I’m told by a booming, disembodied voice that I can only keep the stuff my family of four actually uses, and poof!, 91% of our belongings disappear instantly. Unlike my son’s favorite game “Would You Rather…”—would you rather drink a cup of spit or have a problem where you spit in public and can’t stop yourself? (actual example)—there is not a single downside to this tradeoff. Let’s call it what it is: the gift that keeps on giving (at least until our next trip to Target…unless the disembodied voice puts us on a monthly plan). George Carlin said it best: “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”

Given my aversion to stuff, my addiction to swap p%rn—an unexplained interest in reading descriptions and looking at pictures of stuff people want to sell or give away—is a little surprising. Possibly, it’s genetic. My mother buys and sells antiques. Get in her car on any weekend morning and you’re likely to be lost for a good part of the day in a 50-mile-wide dust-cloud of estate, yard, and garage sales. But while my mother loves actual stuff, I only like virtual stuff, and unlike mom, I have no-none-zero intention of ever acquiring any of it.

Another theory is that I have an Internet-induced condition*—strongly correlated with an unnatural interest in reality TV—that hasn’t yet been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. *(See my earlier JMB post Power of Suggestion for information on IIPLS or Internet-Induced Phantom Disease Syndrome.)

Maybe you also have this problem? Here’s a simple, at-home test you can take right now to find out if you are susceptible. Read the following, which are real postings from freecycle, reuse & recycle, and swap/shop pages and groups I know and love:

  • Santa hat and can of salmon. Free. (Christmas reimagined!)
  • Tandem bike. No handlebars, seats, wheels, or pedals. Never used. $125. (Never used? Huh.)
  • Two wooden mushrooms. Free. (Fungus décor: the next big thing.)
  • Cat. Free. (Nice knowing you, Tiger.)
  • Bag of miscellaneous cords and adapters. Free. (Because you don’t have enough of your own.)
  • Broken mirror glass. Free. (Is bad luck transferrable?)
  • Good size pile of rocks. Free. (The perfect complement to a bag of misc cords and adapters.)
  • Two 4-foot tall forks. $10 each. (Giant cutlery décor: the other next big thing.)
  • One sad rose bush. Free. (Calling all green-thumbed therapists.)
  • Empty hot sauce bottles. Free. (No curbside recycling over there?)

Intrigued? Amused? Eager to share these gems with friends? You are at risk.

I swear, I’m not judging. In fact, for the last 7 years, I’ve been running an annual swap event at our elementary school and fully support making sure that usable stuff gets into the hands of people who need it instead of chucked into a landfill or incinerator. I just want to share…or confess…that I get a kick out of what people think other people will buy from them or take off their hands. I also freely admit that my instincts about treasure vs. trash are totally off. This was undeniably proven when that Santa hat and can of salmon were marked “taken.” Word to wise swappers: step lively.

In conclusion, thanks to everyone who tries to find a home for their stuff—as long as it’s not my home—while surprising me and making me smile with some of your offerings. Keep on swappin’!

This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog by Tara Spinelli. 

Good Humor: Confessions of a Joke Wh%re


When you dream of your child’s future, what do you see? Rocket scientist? Brain surgeon? Leader of the free world?

While those all sound pretty great—I share your enthusiasm—there’s another parental fantasy I’ve been secretly indulging: comedy writer.

I can trace the early roots of my reverence for humor back to Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. When I was 7, I would brag that my mother didn’t watch TV except for Laugh-In. Her affection for the show must be what drew me in, but it was something else that kept me watching even though the jokes, gags, and sketches about sex and politics were beyond me. Sitting on my mother’s white shag rug next to black Lucite cube tables, watching a small TV perched on the shelf of a teak wall unit, I remember the Laugh-In set’s psychedelic swirls and mod flowers, but most of all, the funny women.

There was Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann with her [Read more...]

Sister Wives (Without the Mister)

When my son’s soccer coach called from practice, I figured I must be late for pickup. Instead, our conversation went something like this:

Coach: Kai and Evan collided during practice and he’s complaining that his ribs hurt.

Me: Which one?

Coach: Which rib?

Me: No, which kid?

Coach: Your son. That’s why I’m calling you and not Evan’s mom.

Me: Oh, of course. I’ll be right over.

This little exchange made me laugh and reminded me that my Sister Wives approach [Read more...]


Given the modern family’s busy lifestyle, who has time for words? If you want better communication with the kids, just text, tweet, or Facebook these emoticons for moms: eMOMicons. Finally, your kids will get the message.

Look at Me When I’m Talking to You

(  ‘}<<< {‘  )

Watch Your Language


Go to Bed


Don’t Act Like You Don’t Know What I’m Talking About


Give Grandma a Kiss

(  ‘} (^0_0^)

Feed the Cat


Leave Your Brother Alone

(>_<) (‘;’)

Take Off Those Headphones


Because I Said So


What eMOMicons would you add?


This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.

My Hometown

When I skipped in my denim overalls with the safety-pinned strap from my small, somewhat diverse private school to my new town’s public junior high, the transition wasn’t pretty. On the first day, the biggest obstacles weren’t social or academic but mechanical: cracking the code of my locker combination and covering books with advanced origami folding techniques before the dawn of the book sock.

Within a few weeks, I would think of the locker and book-cover challenges with nostalgia—however much they had made me sweat—as a group of 8th grade girls surrounded me to ask why I had called their friend a “f*#%ing whore.” I had no idea who these girls were or exactly what the phrase meant, but the fact that I wasn’t in my version of Kansas anymore was painfully clear. Like the book sock, anti-bullying legislation or even awareness didn’t exist, so as far as I knew, this was my problem to solve.

I became less naïve about the ways of middle school as the months passed, but this didn’t help me much in 8th grade when a case of mistaken identity put me in the crosshairs of the girl who sat directly in front of me in homeroom. It wasn’t me but a friend of mine who had denied her a piece of gum back in 7th grade, and now she wanted blood instead of Bazooka. She’d regularly turn around to say in a menacing whisper how she was going to beat me up after school. She never did, but the surges of fear still packed a punch. [Read more...]