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A post-new year update

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Happy 2016 (a little belated)! It’s going to be an exciting year here at the Pajama factory, so I thought I’d kick off with a few brief teasers.

The strip will celebrate its 10-year mark in March. Accordingly, I’ll come out of hibernation and start doing some major presentations (took a brief hiatus this year), which include travel time. More to come.

Originally, I wanted to put out another PD book in honor of the strip’s milestone, but it turns out I had a different kind of book in me. I wrote a middle grade novel which will be published next year. More to come on that as well…just waiting on a few loose ends to tie up. But I’m thrilled, needless to say.

In the meantime, I’m putting together an outside project that I hope to finish soon. It’s a collaborative art piece that will be donated to Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. Around 40 incredible professional cartoonists participated, and I’ll have an announcement about that as well.

Okay, enough teasing. Details to follow as the months progress. I wish everyone a happy new year. Continued thanks for reading!

-Terri

Helllooo, Mama Bear!

It’s happening. Cue the ominous “Jaws” music. Amy. Is. Dating.

Sure, there are the standard jokes about the teenage girl’s dad interrogating the date and polishing his shotgun.

But what about the mom? This is her baby, too, after all.

Well, if you’re anything like Jill, first you’ll make it all about YOU.

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Then, suddenly, it’ll hit you. She’s growing up. And dating legitimately. And maybe even engaging in, um… (fingers in ears) LALALALALA!

(Dads: This is when you should stop reading.)

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Luckily, the mother’s pragmatic instincts usually kick in around this time. And in the best of situations, you’re saved from a painfully embarrassing conversation…for both of you.

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As pragmatic as you are, though, that won’t stop you from staying up late, worrying. Or texting your daughter every ten minutes. Or being a general pain in the a**. But that’s okay, you’re a mom. In this case, you have an excuse for your stalkerish protective tendencies.

And maybe someday, with enough therapy, she’ll forgive you.

Good luck, Mom.

Travelin’ Man

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Not long ago, a reader asked me if I would do a story line about Rob’s job. Specifically, if I would shake things up a little. Years ago, I had done just that — made the poor guy lose his job. Luckily, he got a new one, and all was well. For a while. For a long, LONG while, apparently.

So, it’s time to shake things up again. The average worker today spends about 5 years at a job before changing. That’s a good reason for Rob to make a move (Jill doesn’t count, as she freelances — thereby changing jobs all the time).

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My own husband, like Rob, is in I.T. He’s worked at several different companies, even did consulting for a while. Consulting paid more but wasn’t as stable as a regular ol’ corporate job. It involved travel, and it also — eventually — involved job loss. Luckily, he got a great new one that he still enjoys today.

In the case of the strip, I needed an impetus for Rob to find something new. I decided to make him…well, bored. What the heck, he’s in his 40s — it’s either this or a sports car, and lord knows he can’t afford that after paying for a Bat Mitzvah.

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So I’m working backwards from my own reality. Rob will look for a consulting job with travel. It’s time for him to spread his wings. It also makes for a challenging situation for Jill, who has to pick up the slack at home.

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This should be interesting.

 

 

Speech, speech!

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For those who live in or near Flint, Michigan, I’ll be speaking at the Flint Public Library at 1 pm on Saturday, Oct 17. Click here for detailed info. I’ll have books to sell and sign afterward. Come say hello — I’m pretty friendly and I give a mean PowerPoint.

 

 

 

I’m losing my mind…and so is Jill

No, not literally. But as time keeps ticking away, it feels like my brain cells are slowly but surely leeching out of my head. And I know I’m not alone. I have smart, curious, well-read friends, and they assure me they’re as brain damaged as I am.

All part of being middle aged.

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In addition, one fun side effect of ET happens to be brain fog. So you can imagine the combined effect of that, middle age memory lag and mom brain. Let’s just say I have a habit of repeating the same stories over and over while running on a ten-second delay. All this, of course, makes for some prime material.

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This next sample strip is my latest. Apparently, outside of my circle of family and friends, there are many other brain damaged people. I know this because I’ve heard from you. You, too, cannot remember what your spouse said three seconds ago or who that familiar-looking person is in the grocery store who knows you by name. I feel you, I really do.

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So these sad, sad strips are dedicated to all you middle-aged (and older) folks who can remember exactly what you wore to prom but can’t remember your long-time neighbor’s name. To those who walk into a room a dozen times and forget why you walked in there…a dozen times.

And, of course, to those who are willing to forgive a certain cartoonist who may or may not repeat the same material because she simply forgot that she already wrote it.

 

 

Dirty Terri

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Pajama Diaries has been known to push the envelope in the sex department (oops, I’m not supposed to say “sex” ). In today’s world, these strips would be rated PG, not R. But in the funnies — which are still a bit…shall we say traditional — they might as well be pornographic.

My strip is relationship and family-based. Sex is an honest and intrinsic part of marriage (one would hope), so it follows that the characters Jill and Rob would occasionally engage in it. I tend to write from the viewpoint of how “intimacy” fits into their busy schedules. I figure it’s representational of most modern couples and an honest and funny aspect of PD.

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When these strips first appeared, I worried about negative feedback. Turns out I didn’t have to worry too much. Over the years, I’ve only heard the positives, rarely the negatives. I get negative feedback on really weird and random (or social/quasi-political) stuff, but not this.

Occasionally, other cartoonists have asked me how I get away with these “racy” strips. Or — more aptly — how I have the balls guts to write ’em. Truth is, I don’t think about it. Thinking usually gets me in more trouble anyway. I just write what I like to write. And I’ve always been drawn to the risque. When I first started writing humorous cards, I wrote some really disgusting ones that made my male counterparts raise their eyebrows.

That’s when they gave me the nickname, “Dirty Terri.”

I take great pride in that name.

Also, I tend to come across as a little reserved and innocent in person. So the naughty side has to come out somewhere.

For fun, I thought I’d post a sampling of these strips through the years. Maybe it’ll spice up your day (in a G-rated sort of way).

Okay, this first one might push the PG-13 boundaries. This came out early in syndication. Not sure I’d have the cajones to publish this now. Well, maybe.

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This one I find less “offensive” and more clever:

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This one makes me laugh aloud to this day. It’s completely inappropriate for the funnies. That’s why I like it:

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And, of course, the all-time reader favorite:

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The Sunday flow chart:

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And one of my more recent faves:

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So there you go. Be on the lookout for more in the future. Dirty Terri needs to let loose sometimes.

 

Graphic Design Tales, part deux

Remember 2013’s Graphic Design Tales? I had so much fun writing them, I brought ’em back. If you don’t recall those strips, click here for the blog post: “My Love Letter to Freelancers.”

In the meantime enjoy a few that I’ve written for 2015 (click to enlarge):

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“The Tales” arc runs for two weeks. It continues my homage to freelancers like Jill, who face a myriad of stumbling blocks in their profession…like clients. Well, not all clients certainly, but some who haven’t done their homework or ask the right questions. This makes for some very fun material, of course.

Hope you enjoy the series. And if you happen to be a freelancer or a frustrated graphic designer/illustrator/(cartoonist) who has dealt with nightmare clients, feel free to share your funny stories.

Who knows…I may use them for the next go-round.

 

So what’s up with those platelets? (get it?)

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Yep, here we go again. If you’re a long-time PD reader, you probably know about Jill’s (and my) weird platelet back story. If not, you can catch up at my ancient blog post, “Blood disorders and all that gooey nonsense.”

To sum it up, I have “Essential Thrombocytosis,” or “E.T.” (please, spare me the alien jokes). It basically means my bone marrow produces too many platelets. To read about the myriad of symptoms E.T. can produce (and believe me, it’s one of the more benign blood disorders), click here. And for the record, I do not have bloody stool.

I’ve addressed this disorder in my strip because there are very few things about myself that I don’t address. I also like to bring attention to E.T. because it’s an orphan disease and does not receive a lot of press or funding for a cure.

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I wrote this particular story line because after years of holding pretty steady, I found out my platelet count had shot up considerably. Stronger meds were recommended to prevent serious problems.

Going on those meds was pretty scary. That first week it felt like I was jacked up on 50 cups of coffee. Then I would get killer headaches. The good news: after experimenting with the dosage, my side effects disappeared and my platelet count started going down. So far, so good. We’ll see.

In the meantime, between the two capsules and baby aspirin for the E.T. and all the vitamins I take to prevent the symptomatic migraines, my pill sorter (yes, I have a pill sorter) resembles that of an ailing octogenarian’s. Thankfully, this also gives me superhuman powers and I can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Not really, but I can do my 6 mile running course without upchucking.

And thank goodness there are meds. Still, E.T. and its blood sisters — polycythaemia vera, primary myelofibrosis and chronic myeloid leukemia — could use a little more help in that department. If you’d like to find out more and help out folks like me, go the MPN Reasearch Foundation and make a donation.

And keep reading the story line. You might learn something. I sure did. Like how the symptom, “transient ischemic attack,” is a mini-stroke. Good to know.

My high horse

Since Pajama Diaries’ inception in 2004 (mind you, it didn’t launch until ’06), I’ve kept the strip pretty apolitical. But I’ve been consistent about cross-party social issues…especially when it comes to parental rights in the U.S.

(click to enlarge:)

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I’ve done a LOT of reading over the years…from “Perfect Madness” to a jillion news articles and the like. The only thing that’s really changed is I’ve gotten more bitchy upset about the lack of progress.

Oh sure, some things have improved. Millennial dads are picking up the slack on the domestic front. The Mommy Wars are winding down. I think my beef isn’t so much with parents themselves…it’s with the lack of support system FOR parents. That much has not improved.

It doesn’t help the over-parenting craze, either. Not only are people expected to shuttle their kids to a million activities while working full-time…they are expected to mold perfect children (because in this hyper-competitive society, our kids have to be “perfect” to keep up).

So the one thing that’s changed in the strip is that I’m starting to focus less on the “women vs. other women vs. men” angle and more on the “we’re in this together as parents” angle. Yes, sometimes I still delve into the “domestic responsibility unfairness” stuff — let’s face it, in general women still do most of the domestic work — but honestly, that’s starting to take a back seat now.

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Equal pay, maternity and paternity leave, flex time, part-time rights and on-site daycare are obvious solutions that will grant better quality of life to ALL families in the U.S. It’s really a no-brainer, if only the powers that be could grow some…

…brains.

Anyhoo…I will now step off my high horse. That is, until I write my next preachy strip. Then I will climb back in the saddle and ride again.

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