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Middle age and comic fodder

I turned 45 this month. Coincidentally, so did my character, Jill. Weird, huh?

Until my 40’s, I hadn’t written too many age gags. Here and there, maybe. Now I feel like a good quarter of my cartoons are age-related. In fact, out of curiosity, I did the math on my May strips. Just as I suspected, an average of two per week are age-related. Oy. I sense an ongoing trend.

Here are two recent examples (click to enlarge):

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This geriatric-ification of my character was completely subconscious. I didn’t realize I was writing so many of these. But I don’t blame myself. I blame good health.

That’s right. The fact that my middle-agedness is on the forefront of my mind can only be attributed to the betrayal of my aging body. But not the way you think. The fact is, despite a blood disorder and some accompanying brain fog, I feel great. I feel better than I did as a teenager. I’m not bragging, it took great effort to feel this way. In my teens I ate junk food and never exercised (unless you count excessive use of a drawing hand). Today, I’m a health nut and can run circles around my slovenly teen self.

But despite feeling great, I’m…well…45, dammit. That’s such a betrayal — because in my mind I’m still 25. I feel 25. Sometimes, if I step back a few feet from the mirror, squint hard, and hold up my boobs, I almost look 25. Or 35 on a sick day. The point is, half the time I walk around in total denial that I’m middle-aged.

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I never thought I’d be so ambivalent about getting older. In fact, I really didn’t think I was until I counted those strips. But I’m glad I can document this in a public way, just as I do about the trials of parenthood. It lets others know they’re not alone.

Also, I have no shame and I don’t mind poking fun of my insecurities. So if you want to feel better about getting older, feel free to laugh at Jill. After all, she’s me.

 

“Your Teen” Magazine Interview

Woo-hoo! Check out the May/June issue of Your Teen Magazine (a.k.a. my bible). There’s a wonderful interview with yours truly, just in time for Mother’s Day. If you’re a parent of a tween or teenager and don’t have a subscription to this publication, you really should get one…like now. Invaluable.

Since the online version doesn’t contain the article yet, I posted it here (click to enlarge):

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And speaking of Mother’s Day, don’t forget to order Pajama Diaries books for the lady in your life. Get signed copies at my store page or through Amazon.

Early Mother’s Day plug

For all you folks up north, The Toronto Star is selling copies of my book “Having It All” along with books by my fabulous cohorts in cartooning, Sandra Bell-Lundy (“Between Friends“), Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott (“Baby Blues“), and Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman (“Zits“).

Check out the full ad (enlarged order form to print below):

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You can also order a signed copy of my book on my store page. Either way, a perfect Mother’s Day gift — snag ’em while you can!

 


The things we do…

Two weeks ago, a Sunday strip ran that readers seemed to like. Here it is:

SUN_MomsDo_sampleI realized in hindsight I should have saved it for Mother’s Day. But that’s okay, I came up with another one I like (stay tuned).

Anyway, it was fun creating the scenarios in this strip. I just thought of little things I do that my husband definitely doesn’t. The original idea came from a moment of breathing in and sneezing out t.p. dust. Why no one else ever bothers to un-stick that first square is beyond me. Maybe because I’m the only one who changes the roll.

As for the other things:

I do cry at milestone events. Not in a blubbery way, but in a quietly nostalgic “my-baby-is-growing-up” way. I really have cried at every stupid elementary and middle school graduation. I will cry when my older daughter drives (for many reasons). Bat Mitzvahs? Forget it. I will even cry when my younger kid’s feet grow larger than mine (but that’s because I won’t be able to wear her Uggs anymore).

Lunch notes? Check. To my credit, I got tired and stopped doing this halfway through kindergarten.

Eye goop wipe? Check. My kids say I don’t do this, but I think they just block it out.

Two-hour monologues? Check. Every. Freaking. Day. I think I’ve run through the entire Star Wars trilogy in my mind at times like these.

The baby wipe swipe? Check. I need to always be productive, even during red lights. Yes, I have a problem.

And, of course, completing the to-do list on my way to bed. If I wasn’t obsessive-compulsive detail-oriented before kids, motherhood totally threw me over the edge.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, maybe not the anal-retentive stuff, but everything else, for sure. Okay, maybe not the t.p. Or the eye goop. Okay, I would LIKE to have it any other way, but most likely it won’t happen.

So I’ll just suck it up and keep doing what I do pretty well…being a mom.

 

Bat-zilla, Round 2

So, the Kaplan family is gearing up for a Bat Mitzvah this fall. Wait — didn’t they just do that? Why, yes they did. Well, Amy did. Now she gets to sit back and gloat help while Jess embarks on her own religious milestone.

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This time, there is a marked difference in Jill’s attitude as a Mitzvah Mom. She’s almost — could it be — laid-back? Well, perhaps 60% laid-back, 40% in denial. Either way, she is no longer a big old stress bucket.

Reflecting this, I have chosen not to go down an already beaten path. That is, Jess’s Bat Mitzvah story line is markedly shorter and more infrequent than Amy’s. I’m sure this also echoes my own reluctance to deal with the onslaught of planning for my daughter’s event in October. I mean, come on. It feels like I’m still trying to clean up from 2013.

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The nice thing is, be it denial or relaxed attitude, Jill finds it easier to breathe, which in turn, makes everything less stressful for Jess. Another by-product of being second born. And that makes this milestone that much sweeter.

Mazel Tov, Kaplans.

The Prohibition

Drinking_Drain_c So this is an interesting experiment. Hands up – how many people have tried to abstain from alcohol purely as examples to your kids?

Me! Me!

Yep, I’ve been there. More than once. It’s what inspired this series, of course.

Each time I’ve tried, I’ve failed miserably.

Let me set the record straight. I’m no alcoholic. I have one small glass or bottle of something maybe every other night. And I mean one. I’m a total lightweight (or cheap date, as my husband calls me).

But occasionally I feel a little guilty for partaking in front of my kids. I kinda miss the days when they would go to bed at 8 pm, and I could safely pound – I mean sip — a nice Shiraz while watching TV.

Drinking_Teens_cAdmittedly, now I pour extra into my glass because the kids are up later and want to taste whatever I’m having. Yes, I’m one of those parents who allow a sip. I’d rather they taste it in front of me than get curious and sneak into our liquor cabinet…that’s my logic.

Anyway, back to the series. As usual, Jill’s guilty conscious is the catalyst. She even gets Rob in on the act. But in the end, much like my own experience, they go back to their old ways. As Rob points out, it’s all about moderation. Which is a good philosophy for most things in life.

Well, except for sunscreen and really good ice cream. Liberal amounts are required.

The Glossary (Part Deux)

If you follow Pajama Diaries, you’ve probably noticed that once a month I like to throw in a “Parents’ Glossary of Terms.” What started as a little novelty strip idea 9 years ago is now a regular feature. I’ve even added a whole section of Glossary strips at the end of my book collections.

These are some of my favorite strips to write simply because I get to play with words. I won’t lie, they’re also great to illustrate because they’re single panels and I can get ’em done faster.

I’ve posted a blog about these before, but I thought it would be fun to revisit them. Even more fun: I’ll post some early ones along with more recent samples. They are telling indicators of how much my style has changed through the years.

This is one of my earliest samples from 2006.

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Oh my God, the art. The extraneous words. Jess’s hair tuft. Jill’s armpit. I remember when I drew armpits. And look at those teeny tots.

Here are some from a few years later (2010 and 2011).

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They’re still wordy, but at least I got rid of half the title and the descriptor (“adj.”). What can I say — self-editing is process.

By the way, notice my love affair with parentheses? That hasn’t changed.

Here are a few recent ones:

Glos_Blackout_c Glos_SAD_c

Man, these are fun to write. I can’t say it enough. And I stockpile so many that occasionally I publish a whole week at once. In fact, I should do that soon.

Hope you get as much of a kick out of reading these as I do writing them…’cause they’re gonna keep on coming.

 

Need a speaker? Oh, and a nice review.

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It’s a new year, and that often comes with new goals. One of mine is to extend my speaking opportunities. I’ve done many gigs over the years, and I’ve really come to enjoy them. I’ve spoken to general audiences about my card and comics career, and I’ve also spoken for Jewish organizations. I love doing both. Plus, I really need to get out of the house more.

If you’re part of an organization that’s in the market for an informative and entertaining speaker, check out my new profile at APB Speakers. They make me look almost professional! You can also contact me directly at terri@pajamadiaries.com

By the way, that’s me above presenting at the Reuben Awards in Pittsburgh, 2013. Why am I hiding behind the mic? Because I’ve just recited a raunchy card, and I’m appropriately abashed. Or could be a bad camera angle. Either or.

Just for fun, here’s another pic of me with a panel of lady cartoonist greats (Hilary Price, Jen Sorensen, Cathy Guisewite, and Lynn Johnston). I also play nicely with others.

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And finally – on a completely different note – check out John Weber (the Comic Strip Critic) at The Punchline. He had nice things to say about the strip. Thanks, John!

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