Seclusion. Sort of.

At least once a year my head becomes constipated and I panic that I’ll never write again and I have to go into seclusion for a few days and force myself to write even if I end up deleting most of it the next morning.  I will sit in a small, quiet hotel room and hate myself and remind myself that writing is torture but having written is the greatest feeling in the world.  So you can probably expect me on twitter asking questions like, “What’s the word for when you’re so pissed you literally throw people out the window?”  Except I won’t ask that because that word is “defenestration” and I know that because my grandparents were Czech and my grandmother told me that Bohemians were way into defenestration left and right, and advised me to stay on the ground floor whenever possible, which is one of the strangest and best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.  They also taught me how to make fruit koláče and dance the polka.  It wasn’t all defenestration.

Also, Victor thinks that “don’t get thrown out of windows” isn’t really great advice but I disagree and I’ve never been thrown out of a window, so I guess it’s working out so far, Victor.

Just me?

PS. Not “Just me?” as in I’m unusual in not having been thrown out of a window yet, but is it just me who got weird advice that stuck with you for your whole life?



339 thoughts on “Seclusion. Sort of.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I feel you. And this made me think of The Hotel New Hampshire….keep passing the open windows..which isn’t the same thing at all but it still made me think about that and now I want to read that book again.

    And you are not alone. Every time I write anything, I think it’s the last idea I will ever have.

  2. Now I feel like polka was designed to prep for defenestration. One and two and toss. In any case, as a relatively new(ish) writer, I’m sharing your view of the torture. ‘Having written’ is the finest therapy, but getting there is like self-defenestration through my monitor window. Good luck!

  3. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve always feared randomly being thrown out a window in a foreign country….

  4. I still have trouble stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, totally useless thing to have in my head, in case I break my mother’s back. Don’t know if that’s the same thing. Also, I’ve always loved the word defenestration. Love you, Jenny, keep plugging away.

  5. Defenestration. I am learning so much from you.

    Also, Victor is wrong, because that’s awesome advice and I wish I’d had it sooner. I mean, I haven’t been thrown out a window yet, but it’s an excellent excuse to give when I don’t want to tell people that I’m nervous around elevated windows because I’m afraid of heights but only when they can see me, like altitude is stalking me.

    For reference, I’ve never been thrown out of a window, but I have been pulled through one against my will, and that was not fun. 10/10 do not recommend. So… again, Victor is just wallowing in wrongness.

  6. My mother’s grandfather (a farmer) told my mother to never marry a farmer because they don’t make any money. My mother completely disregarded this advice and married a farmer. Many years later, she told me to also never marry a farmer because they have no money, and imparted probably the weirdest advice she ever gave me. “Marry rich, because it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich person as a poor person.” In the apparent tradition of our family, though, I also ignored this advice.

    This is probably not the weirdest advice anyone’s ever gotten, but I do appreciate my family’s generational hypocrisy on this subject.

  7. My Nana was very fond of the phrase “if you’re not dead in a ditch you better be.” In reference to someone not being where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be.

  8. We are coming up on winter. Maybe there is an old lodge you could take care of to write your next novel. #TheShining

  9. Weird advice? Slow down! My mother still says that every time we talk. That’s tough for someone who gets bored easily. As it is I spend hours writing every day. My weird advice? There is no pleasing your mother so don’t even try.

  10. Not exactually weird advice but something my ex said to me while he was talking in his sleep.
    “It’s like a spoon.”
    Words I take to heart and live with today.

  11. We were just talking about defenestration yesterday and whether it was appropriate to work it into a work meeting. The consensus is no, it is not appropriate, even when you work in the construction industry.

  12. My grandmother told me to NEVER SHINE A MAN’S SHOES. I’m not sure what would have happened if I did, but I never have, and no catastrophes have therefore ever resulted from male shoe-shining, so I’mma count that as great advice.

  13. This article has brought to my attention that not only have I never received ‘weird’ advice, but very little actual advice and I am now questioning my existence. 😂

    “Write what you know” is sound advice, although I’m not sure how you would go about writing what you don’t know in the first place. Good luck!

  14. Not weird advice, but good advice: When you are waiting to turn left off a street, because there are cars coming the other way, keep your wheels turned STRAIGHT. Otherwise, some joker might hit you while trying to pass on your right. And that could drive you HEAD ON into oncoming traffic. (Which might defenestrate you.)

  15. My best advice is always pack extra socks. Funny ones are best. They keep your feet warm, make you giggle, and are just an all-around good idea. Idea originally suggested by my dad, reinforced by Dumbledore and Dobby.

  16. I don’t know if it is weird but my grandma always told us no matter how hot it is, if you lay down to take a nap, always cover up with at least a sheet or you will wake up cold. Not sure if it is true or she just got in my head but I do wake up feeling cold if I don’t cover up.

  17. My grandmother told me to marry a man who worked at least two jobs, because then he’d be out of the house often enough that I’d miss having him around. She also recommended marrying a soldier during war time, but that’s not something you can exactly count on happening.

  18. Nope, not just you. I received some strange advice. Mine was from mom–strangely, although she always claimed to be German, I found out later that she also was Czech–is it a Czech thing? Anyway, she shared pieces of advice about where to build a fire for warmth in the snow (we lived in the suburbs in Oregon), or how to properly kill yourself with a gun–which I know sounds kind of dark but wasn’t meant that way at all. She was ironing at the time and watching some kind of daytime talk show which probably involved people who tried to kill themselves. I think the advice was more of a “child, if you’re going to do it, do it right” kind of thing. But still…strange.

  19. Put a little toilet paper in the bowl to prevent smears and back spatter… Probably the most useful one I ever got. Not half as charming as yours though. Also, mom once told me that if someone was teasing me, I should just sing a cheery song and ignore them thusly. She forgot to mention I should do it in my head, not sing at the actual bully. Who did back away because they thought I was nuts, but then proceeded to tell everyone else I was craxy as f****ck!!! Not useful, mom. Not at all.

  20. If you Google “most embarrassing Tinder date ever”, you’ll see a story of voluntary partial defenestration: While in the guy’s apartment on their first date, the girl excuses herself to poo in his bathroom. She ends up overflowing the toilet and is so horrified that she tries to throw the poo out the window. The poo gets stuck on the outside windowsill. This is when the partial defenestration occurs. Being an amateur gymnast, she hangs out the window in the hopes of retrieving the rogue poo, but gets stuck hanging by her feet. This is when here date walks in and calls the fire department. Girl retrieved, window broken. There’s now a GoFundMe site to cover window repair. You’re welcome.

  21. From an old-school Large Animal Veterinarian as we watched a young steer tear ass around a field: “If you can’t catch him, he don’t need help.”

  22. The word of the day is defenestration. Please use it at least once in a sentence today. Example: “I dream of clearing out the office via defenestration.”

  23. My Gran always tells us “Don’t get above your raising.” which is terrible advice, but I’m posting because my brother always thought she said “Don’t get a bumpy raisin.” which might be the weirdest advice ever.

  24. My family isn’t big on advice, we’re of the “fend for yourself but act like everything is perfect” philosophy. My dad did encourage me to get over my fear of roller coasters by saying, “If it wasn’t safe they wouldn’t let you ride it.” I trusted him, foolishly, and came to love roller coasters. Years later I worked at the park and learned that the oldest rides were “walked” each morning by the maintenance crew armed with screwdrivers. They literally tightened the screws that rattled loose during the previous day. We may be a litigious society, but people will definitely let you do unsafe things if you pay for a ticket! Still love roller coasters, though.

  25. Secluding yourself is good for 2 reasons: 1) makes you write and 2) protects others. If you were in my office right now, for example, we’d all have to form a protective huddle in the middle of the room, away from all windows. We’re on the 19th floor. Thanks for looking out for our safety!

  26. Defenestration is one of my favorite words. I learned it playing Fictionary as a teen (the game where you pick a word out of the dictionary that no one knows and you write the definition, but everyone else makes up a fake definition then you read the definitions and everyone tries to figure out the real definition- we played geeky games). I used to threaten my friends who pissed me off, “don’t make me defenestrate you” which sounded like I might castrate them to those not geeky enough to know the word.

  27. I’m going to share some super serious advice my father gave me to me once.
    “If you make it through life without someone, somewhere hating you, you’ve done something wrong.”
    He said it in a totally serious way, and I don’t remember what we had been talking about that brought it up, but it literally took me years to figure out what he meant by it and how true it was. Because if no one has strong negative feelings about me, then I haven’t stood up for anything or tried to make anything happen or been big and bold in any way, shape or form.
    Currently, I must be doing something very right, because I have a LOT of people who don’t like me, including an ex-wife.

  28. My mother use to tell me I could want in one hand and sh%t in the other and see which I filled up first!

  29. Well, when my dad had to give me “the talk,” he just said, “don’t give away what you can sell.” I don’t think he was actually encouraging me into prostitution but I have taken that advice into my career (that is not a career of prostitution) and it’s come in handy.

  30. My grandmother didn’t much like kids (or maybe she just didn’t like me) but she always said listen more than you speak. I don’t know if speaking applies to writing, but, I’m going to guess it doesn’t because she was a voracious reader and it writers “spoke”‘ less than they listened, she would have been awfully bored, and probably meaner.

  31. My grandfather used to say “it’s a long way from your heart” when we’d get hurt on the farm. I often wondered if that applied to things like broken limbs…

  32. Not when I was a kid, but when I was older like maybe a teenager, whenever I would go anyplace my grandmother would say, “Don’t get killed.” Thanks for the warning, Gran, because otherwise I probably would have.

  33. I’m currently working on my thesis (I went the creative route so I’m turning in the first part of a novel I’m writing), and I feel like I’ll never get it all written because all of my brilliant ideas I used to have have dried up. It’s maddening.

    I’m trying to think of advice my mother or grandmother gave me. I remember when I was helping give my one year old male cousin a bath once, and he didn’t want to get dressed afterwards so he was trying to crawl all over the bed and me to avoid getting put into pants. Grandma said, “Jed, I’m sure Lauren doesn’t want a naked boy crawling all over her!” and then she looked me dead in the eyes and said, “REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU GET OLDER.” Cringe, Grandma. Cringe. (And I haven’t taken that advice to heart at all. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.)

  34. You are not the only one who has never been thrown out of a window. Now I feel like I’m missing out, though.

    My best bit of advice – do ultrasounds on Gila Monsters when they’re cold. They move around a lot less.

  35. My a-hole ex-stepmom told me I should marry a chef once because she always said I couldn’t cook, so BOOM! I married a chef and now I never have to cook, and I get really good food all the time, so joke’s on her!

  36. My mom always told me, “Do NOT marry someone until you’ve lived with them a few years,” to which her best friend responded, “and never marry someone until after you’ve had sex with them.” To which I thought, “duh. Why would I live with them and not have sex?”

    But the weirdest was the motivational poster that said, “Success is a journey, not a destination.” The problem was that the picture is an old decrepit looking row boat, sans oars, moored on a muddy shore at dusk. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m hesitant to embark on my ‘success’ at night in a rickety old boat with no oars!

  37. I wish there were a way for me to reply to a comment already made, because my mom gave me the same advice that Corsec’s mom gave her: It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is a poor man.

    Instead of doing either of those things, I’ve chosen to remain single for a painfully long time and attempt to achieve wealth by growing a decent 401K and occasionally buying PowerBall tickets.

  38. My brother was pushed out of a ground floor window at school aged 16, he ended with a green stick fracture of his left (writing) wrist weeks before his exams. Does that count as defenestration?

    (Pushed on purpose? Totally. ~ Jenny)

  39. My Native American from the Mohican tribe grandmother advised me whenever you make beadwork to purposely make a mistake called a Spirit Bead. Because to remind ourselves we are only human and not God and humans make mistakes.

  40. I write poetry. Most of it is just ranting with clever word play. When I’m doing the April poetry month challenge, if I get writers block, I write about the writers block. It’s never failed to cure the block.
    My mother’s advice ‘when living in apartments, never live in towers, youh don’t want all of those people stacked on top of you’. No. No I don’t. So I choose apts that are more like campuses with no more than 2 floors and a basement

  41. We just made kolaches in May for my son’s international day. My mother in law has one of those odd phrases….”it will get well before you’re married”. But what happens when you’re already married or never get married? Sometimes advice is just wrong.

  42. I’ve always loved the word defenestration… I was fascinated by “The defenestration of Prague” which actually happened twice (several hundred years apart) and started huge conflicts. I always thought that it was interesting that they deemed that it was so successful the first time that they did it the second.
    As for weird advice: When we were kids whenever my brother and I “pretended” to say something in a different language (usually some weird Chinese type thing) my mom would get mad and say “Don’t ever pretend to use another language! You never know if you just said ‘go shit in your hat’!”

  43. It’s not advice, but my Daddy used to ask me things like, “If it takes a quart of milk to drown a fly, how many pancakes does it take to shingle a doghouse?” Which is something I still ponder, but then iv never was any good at math.

  44. My Grandma once told me to always dry between my toes. Good advice that I’ve shared with loved ones, always prefaced with “I’m gonna tell you something my Grandma told me, and you’ll remember it all your life!” I get the funniest looks, but laughs too. Usually thanks for the advice too. 😄 Recharge during your retreat. You’ll come back refreshed.

  45. Never use the first stall. Or the second. Most of the advice I’ve received has involved plumbing. Mine or someone else’s. I might need to meditate on that.

  46. I’ve never liked my legs and anytime I ever said anything about them my mother would say “you should be lucky you have legs!, there are people in this world that would love to have your legs.” which is true, but I never said I wasn’t lucky to have them or not grateful. thanks mom….also her relationship advice was “the devil you do know is better than the one you don’t.” yep…I’ll keep that in mind. :o/ oh and “there’s a lid for every pot”

  47. It isn’t really advice, but rather a saying of my great-grandmother’s. Whenever she saw a woman who was grasping at her youth perhaps a little too long by dressing really young, and wearing heavy makeup she would say, “Look at that mutton dressing up like lamb!” Inappropriate maybe but it did make me realize that there is nothing wrong with aging gracefully and accepting yourself for who you really are. Plus she would often say it a bit too loudly 🙂

  48. You’ve heard this but it’s worth repeating here: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway

  49. My mom gave me two pieces of advice. Don’t get mad get even and no witnesses. I’m not sure if she ment then to go together but they do. Also my friend was taking to her husband about there daughters shananagins and the beautiful 4 year old walked in calmly sat on the couch looked her mom straight in the eye and said “snitches get stitches”. Ps that’s why she’s my favorite person and I agree with her.

  50. I, too, have never been thrown out a window, so I guess I haven’t pissed that many people off? Not that I’m saying that pissing a large number of people off is a great goal of mine, but it helps to know the actual word being demonstrated should it happen, so thanks. I’m currently standing in a really long line at Walmart waiting for water which may or may not be delivered on the next couple of hours because of course I live in FL, and of course this massive hurricane that’s been bearing down us hasn’t veered off course and is headed straight at us. I’m sure if Walmart’s windows were higher, I might actually see some examples of defenestration. People are getting antsy and short tempered with the poor Walmart employees. Oh good, the water is here! Keep up the good work, Jenny. You make a lot of people happy and therefore less likely to practice their defenestration skills

  51. My mother advised me to ‘Never buy sheets in a strange town’. Also I relate to the hotel room:. Did this just the past weekend to get homework done!

  52. Ha! You used one of my all time favorite words. I just love that there’s a specific word for the act of tossing a person or object out a window.

  53. My grandmother told me “Always cream your elbows” I never knew quite how to take that…
    but my great-grandmother alway said “Never save your bouquets” and therefor I say to you:
    All the words that you have written (and are yet to write) are a salve for broken souls around the globe and your tribe looks forward to all the delightful nonsense that is sure to emerge with you from your hibernation!

  54. My dad gave sensible, if non-standard, advice: Count your money before you leave the teller’s window; If you get drunk at a party, sleep on someone’s couch. And some weird shit: You don’t have to go at it [whatever it was] like killing snakes.

  55. When I was young, my father explained that if you learn piano soley to impress dates (like he did), you need a minimum of two songs: One to show off and another so that if you’re forced to play at another event, you can play the second song. After that you must find excuses to never play again but theoretically you’ve spent enough time together by then that your non-musicianship won’t be a deal breaker.

    I took this advice to heart for anything I fake – interest in TV shows or sports, Excel functions, political awareness, eye makeup, whatever.

  56. It might help your argument if you get Victor to watch Due South as most (if not all) episodes had defenestration in them, it will make him think it’s more common.

  57. The piece of Dad wisdom I got was “Take care of your feet.” He came from a long line of people who lost toes for various reasons, so I guess he had a horror of suddenly waking up to find a pinkie toe had gone on walkabout without him.

  58. “Don’t eat uncooked spaghetti noodles because it will give you worms.” Honestly. I think my mother only said it in order to keep us out of her way in the kitchen. When, as a newlywed, I told my husband about getting worms from uncooked pasta, he was dumbstruck and began to wonder how to start annulment proceedings.

  59. Sometimes I’d love to check into a hotel with just my three dogs. But then, it wouldn’t be seclusion, oh well.

  60. I have no good advice. But something I’ve always wondered : How much fun would a barrel of monkeys actually be? It sounds cruel. And noisy and stinky.

  61. Are you sure your family is not related to mine? I grew up being given all kindd of “wise” advice of, “go bleed in the bathroom” it is easier to cleanup in there. To, “fair is a place where you ride on rides and get cotton candy.”

  62. Check out Rainbow Hearth in Burnet. Fantastic place to hear yourself think and shut out the excessive noise.

  63. This is the second time in two days that someone has brought up “defenestration” to me. Maybe this means something–I’m starting to feel paranoid when I walk by windows.

  64. when people I worked with used to find me ruminating by a full height window they would say that they were worried about me. I would reply that they should be worried only if they were standing between me and the window.

  65. Gawd what I wouldn’t give for a week of seclusion!! I work with The Viking – every waking hour of every single day and then I sleep with him too. He’s a great guy but sometimes I need some space to get my head around things. Rock the fuck out of that seclusion Girl! :o)

  66. Literally the only advice ever passed down in my family: never piss off the garbage man. Working for me so far.

  67. Yes, fenestration is a real thing. When I was 10 I was fenestrated by a group of boys (that sounds awful doesn’t it) on the school playground when they rammed into me and I went through the third grade window.

  68. I was reading the post and was like, I must read this post super fast so I can tell her the word is defenestrate!!! And then, there it was. Huge sigh of relief, you have the word, thank goodness.

  69. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who gets a congested head. Right now it’s physically congested thanks to allergies/a cold making the mental congestion/haze even worse. Honestly I’m glad I had my retired father to drive me to work today (he wanted my truck to haul stuff to the scrap metal yard, $50 for a small load woo hoo!!!) because I should not be behind a wheel. I should be in bed with my cats and my books starting at the wall. Good luck getting the congestion out! <3

  70. Although my mom said very insightful things such as “dirt is good for immunity” (it really is – I’m an immunologist), she also firmly believed that ice cubes made you sick. We were limited to a single cube in a glass of soda at home. Obviously, this has stuck with me.

  71. Sophomore year of high school, one of my classes was TAing for one of the guidance counselors. Sometimes me and the other TAs would get there to find she would be in a meeting all period, so when that happened we would all go to the College Center on campus to do homework until our next class. One such day we’re all walking across campus to the College Center when one of the school aides sees us and rushes over, yelling, “Hey! What are you girls doing out of class?” We explain the situation and the aide pauses, then snarls, “Well… walk like you have a purpose!”

    At the time we all just thought the obvious insecurity and need to justify his misplaced anger was hilarious, but this has turned out to be the greatest advice I’ve ever received. I’ve gotten into so many places I didn’t belong just by walking swiftly with a “I can’t believe I have to come down here and deal with this shit again” expression.

  72. Jenny, are you sure we are not distant cousins? I am from Texas and have a long lineage of people from France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Lithuania and Native Americans. Even if not blood related, we share a lot of mind stuff. I think you are wonderful and smart and funny as hell, even when you are suffering. Good for you Cuz.

  73. I’m just tickled that you learned to make koláče and I hope you also make it with poppy seed filling, which may or may not qualify as a fruit.
    The important thing is I’m pretty sure eating that many poppy seeds at one time has got to show up on drug tests, no matter what the Mythbusters say. When we’re talking koláče we’re not talking something that’s daintily sprinkled with poppy seeds. We’re talking a whole glob of them right in the middle.

  74. My grandfather had a birth defect with his left arm. It was shorter than the other and his fingers were kind of crinkled up. He used to tell me that he played with matches when he was little, and this was the reason for this defect. He would say, “Don’t ever play with matches or you’ll wind up with a useless arm like me.” I was 11 when I finally realized that matches could never shrink your arm and turn it gimpy. To this day, I still hate lighting a match and prefer lighters.

    Also, my father used to say, “You have to be smarter than what you’re working with.”, whenever I was having issues fixing something. (Thanks, Dad, for thinking I was dumber than an earring) Or his other expression of advice is, “If you’re gonna be dumb, then you better be tough.” That was the advice received after running into a closed glass door. (Not my fault the damn thing was so clean.)

    All of this is to say, advice is best taken like a grain of salt: lightly and on some crackers.

  75. My most weirdly specific advice was from my grandmother who always told me to look in the backseat before I get into my car at night. Not bad advice, but strangely specific. For example, it came with no comment on other specific or more general safety measures, just that one thing. Always stuck with me though…

  76. Twice I read the first sentence “At least once a year my husband becomes constipated and I panic that I’ll never write again”. I was worried for you.

  77. My friend owns a hotel in South Carolina and one New Year’s Eve we were standing outside on the street after a party and saw an attempted defenestration. Luckily the upper floors had super thick double-paned windows so the girl who tried to throw her boyfriend out the window only managed to bang him into the glass hard enough for the outside pane to shatter. They were both arrested and I got to use the word “defenestration” multiple times re-telling the story! It’s still paying defenestration dividends 5 years later. (Clearly I love that word.)

  78. My mom, casually, after tucking me in one night when I was around 10: “Oh, you leave your feet hanging over the bed? Aren’t you afraid someone will come along and cut them off?”

  79. I have a head injury, and this is my perpetual state of being. What’s that word for when someone really pisses you off and you wanna smack a brick upside the head? Oh RIGHT. “Visiting your parents.” XD LOL seriously though… you do you. Despite all of that, you have remained awesome all this time. Do you know how hard it is to go through all you’ve gone through and remain awesome?! Pretty hard. <3

  80. When I was a kid and wouldn’t finish my dinner and my mother would remind me of “all the starving children in China who would love to have it,” I’d always reply with “Name two.”

    I spent a lot of time sitting at the table by myself staring at a plate of cold vegetables.

  81. I wonder how many incidents occur before an event justifiably gets its own term? Just how many people get tossed out of a window before someone says, “Ya’ know…we need a term for this activity. ‘Tossing bitches out of windows when I’m pissed off’ just takes too long to say….”?

  82. These are the best not only because they are gold, but also because so many are making me go, “OMG I WAS TOLD THAT WEIRD-ASS ADVICE TOO!” The nostalgia is so strong. Don’t stop.

  83. My Dad used to say “its a long way from your heart” when I’d hurt myself. Which, when you think about it isnt all that helpful because your heart is pumping the damned blood right out of your body, so really what difference does it make? My Mom was all about wearing clean underwear in case I got hit by a car. Im not sure why she thought I was going to get hit by a car, but at least thats solid advice. Because no one wants to get caught in dirty undies.

  84. The best advice I ever received was from my grandmother. I was a senior in high school and had been serious with my boyfriend for a few years. She took me for a walk and said told me not to marry him. “Live with him if you want to, follow him, whatever you feel like you have to do for now. But don’t get married. That way, if you need to get away you can.” That turned out to be exactly what I needed. If only she’d been around to advise me later in life. She was wonderful.

  85. Is it weird that I don’t like staying on the ground floor specifically because I fear seeing the person hitting the ground and I don’t want to be put in the position of having to wonder whether they jumped or were thrown out the window.

    No? I didn’t think so.

  86. I used to write stories and poems and often had them published. I can’t do it anymore.
    I suspect the Alzheimers, dammit. (perfectly serious here)

  87. Defenestration is one of my daughter’s favorite words. I think that she was fascinated to learn that there was a word for the act of throwing someone out a window. And to prove her grandmother wrong when she told her it wasn’t a real world.

    Another of her favorite words is conflagration.
    Should I be worried?

  88. My mother told me that if I ever sat in a boys lap I should sit on a phone book. I’ve never taken that advice but I’ve never forgotten it.
    In my early teens she said, “Don’t ever get married but if you do… don’t have any children”. Ignored that one,too.
    After my divorce she said, “Don’t get married again; they’re too much trouble. But if you want to keep a couple around to play with that’s ok.” I’ve actually taken that advice 😉
    My mom is. A very wise woman.

  89. My mom told me ( referring to weird advice that truly was helpful) ” Sometimes, you just have to put your GO GO boots on”. I never wanted to think about my mom wearing GO go boots int he bedroom for my dad but they have been married happily for 49 years. I guess it works.

  90. “Don’t make me put a boot up in your ass…” – advice given to me when i would not yield to another car who would not wait their turn to get on the Manhattan Bridge (Brooklyn Side) – I let her in because any lady willing to yell that at ME – she gets the greeeeen light! Sassy works:)

    XO –

  91. My mom is fond of saying “Everyone is dying, some are just doing it faster than others…” lol

  92. Wait. Didn’t Victor [throw] Nicole Squidman out a hotel window?!?

    (History always repeats itself. ~ Jenny)

  93. When I was in ninth grade, we had a 6-week sexual education class. The school nurse came in on the last day and summed everything up with, “Remember: To keep the flies out, you have to keep the screen door shut.”

  94. My mother told me that if I ever sat in a boys lap I should sit on a phone book. I’ve never taken that advice but I’ve never forgotten it.
    In my early teens she said, “Don’t ever get married but if you do… don’t have any children”. Ignored that one,too.
    After my divorce she said, “Don’t get married again; they’re too much trouble. But if you want to keep a couple around to play with that’s ok.” I’ve actually taken that advice 😉
    My mom is a very wise woman.

  95. Mother always offered as an alternative choice to most anything “or you could drill a hole in your knee and put cookie dough in it!” So far I have never exercised that option.

  96. My mom’s main advice has always been, “It’s much easier to kick a man out of the house if you don’t marry him first.” I did not follow this advice, but my sister has. My dad’s advice was, “Don’t point a weapon at someone unless you intend to kill them.”

  97. I’ve always told my girls to check for toilet paper before they commit to a bathroom stall.

  98. Advice from my mother–long, long gone from us: “A veiled lie is better than the naked truth”. (Pertains to lingerie and explains why I cannot sleep in the nude!)

  99. As a fellow writer, I’m jealous that you only suffer from brainstipation once a year…

    (Oh, no. I get it ALL THE TIME. I just break down and leave to make myself write once a year when it gets too bad. ~ Jenny)

  100. When we were little, my dad would tell us, ‘If you’re looking for sympathy, you’ll find it in the dictionary between shit and syncopation.’ When we were older, we learned the bookends were really ‘shit’ and ‘syphilis’. He was truly one of a kind.

  101. Mom told me once, “Never say anything that you wouldn’t want repeated on the 10 o’clock news. Best advice I ever received.

  102. Advice from my mother–long, long gone from us: “A veiled lie is better than the naked truth”. (Pertains to lingerie and explains why I cannot sleep in the nude!)

  103. I don’t know how weird it is, but my mom always said “Don’t have anything to do (romantically) with an attached man. If they’ll cheat WITH you, they’ll cheat ON you.” Advice I have always remembered, and thus have never had an affair.

  104. A lady I used to work with told me if I kept sitting on the curb at the bus stop, I wouldn’t be able to have children. No idea what the reasoning was behind it, but, just in case, I sit on curbs every chance I get.

  105. I don’t have any weird advice but coincidentally, I arrived in Prague today for a course to get certified to teach English as a foreign language. I’m reading your post in a pub near my flat named Belzepub.

  106. My parents would never buy a dented can because they were worried about botulism I suppose. My husband tells me that advice is outdated and cans are lined now and safer. I still won’t buy dented ones though…

  107. My grandma said,

    “If you kill a spider, you’ll get a sty and you’ll have to pee in the crossroads to get rid of it.”

    Is there a word for that?

  108. It’s like someone said – “I love being a writer, it’s the paperwork I can’t stand.”

  109. I mistakenly attributed that to Jonathan Trager, played by John Cusack. It was the other guy, Lars. The weirdo boyfriend. I also forgot the last line. Still good advice, though. It’s come in handy more than you’d think… “You can’t fend off an army of blood thirsty Vikings with a shehnai. It’s illogical.”

  110. My mom said, ” Never wear black on a date… because everything sticks to it but men”.
    Not sure if that counts as wierd… but certainly counter to what everyone ( Oprah, etc. ) are telling women of my generation. “the LBD is an absolute *essential * wardrobe item.”
    I have to say… when one goes out in a coctail crowd …wearing color does make you stand out in a sea of ‘ little black dresses’.
    Thanks mom! PS- no lint brush required!

  111. Not getting thrown out of windows: much better than a sharp stick in the eye. 🙂 And my family would know, as the 8th Earl of Douglas (presumably one of my ancestors), was defenestrated in every definition of the word by King James II at Stirling Castle in 1452, after being stabbed and bludgeoned for not complying with the King’s wishes for him to stop plotting evil-doings with other nobles. I mean, seriously. The nerve of some gentry. And thank you, because now I have a word for it that I didn’t know before! You’re the awesomest. Funny AND didactic! Perhaps ingesting some humor will get the brain juices flowing again. 🙂 I wish you good mental flow!

  112. My dad’s advice to younger men was “before you get married, check her teeth.” My mom had a lot of bad fillings that had to be replaced with crowns. My husband still laments not taking this advice after I needed a $600 bite guard soon after we got married.
    My husband is a doctor, which you’d think would come with helpful medical advice (and pharmaceuticals, which is very much not the case). The last time I had a bad cough, he told me, “You should try to stop coughing.” Hopefully he’s more helpful to his actual patients.

  113. My grandma always said about people who intimidate you, “Remember they eat with the same hand they wipe themselves with.” Horrified my mother.mel

  114. You are not alone, I had some pretty strange advice growing up. And, by growing up, I mean right up until the time I left for work this morning. I still get told things like “just give the president another chance,” “always take an extra pair of shorts in case you have an accident,” and “never learn the polka.”

    Actually, the second isn’t bad advice. It’s saved me more than once.

    But I am happy for the clarification because the original intent I presumed was going to force me to say “you are quite alone,” because I have had the misfortune of being thrown out of a window. It was a first floor window, and all of us were drunk at the time, so I think that makes the whole experience more nostalgic than noxious.

    “Stay away from Bohemians,” is still pretty good advice, though. Even if it was just implied.

  115. Never occurred to me before it happened, but when I told my son that “mixing drugs and alcohol is the best way to kill yourself” I didn’t realize that would be his go-to when he tried it. Thankfully he survived, but I should have been more specific, as in, “FOR GOD’S SAKE, DON’T MIX ALCOHOL AND DRUGS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!” My bad. He didn’t appear to remember anything I ever said, so how was I to know……?

  116. My mom used to tell me to go take a long walk off a short pier. Pretty sure that was bad advice and more like “get the fuck out,” but it took me longer than it should have to realize that.

  117. Advice from my Grandmother: if you have a stomach ache, lay on your left side. There may be some actual medical evidence to back this up, but it mostly works.

  118. Ooh, here’s another one from my mother: Always open the carton of eggs and check them before you buy them. (This one is true; every time I’ve forgotten to check, I get home and one or more of the eggs are cracked.)

  119. My mom always said, “If you find something you are good at, stick to it.” And so I have.

  120. My mother told me to stay away from Amish men wearing bathing suits near railroad tracks. I still don’t know what prompted that.

  121. “Drink pickle juice.” Had a great aunt whose cure-all was pickle juice. Hiccups? Pickle juice. Constipation? Pickle juice. Hangover? Pickle juice. So if you’re feeling brainconstipated try pickle juice…couldn’t hurt!

  122. My grandmother’s advice was “Men don’t like women who are too bony or women who cry too much.” I guess she was trying to tell me that men don’t like skinny women (which society and the media in general and pretty much every men’s skin mag ever says is a lie) and they really don’t like women who are too emotional, I guess.

  123. Hey Worfums — my mom told me to never wear red on a date “because it excites them”

  124. Advice from my Dutch family — don’t tie bacon to the cat. It actually is meant as a kind of combo of “don’t tempt fate” and “don’t poke the bear” but I feel it is a good piece of advice to take literally, as it could end in a greasy chair when your cat goes to lie down and eat the bacon you have foolishly tied to him.

  125. From a random stranger at the gas station my wrecked car was towed to: “You’ll be a 100% better driver now.” I can only assume the thinking was that I had just learned what not to do (which was to not drive on an icy freeway where the person in front of me hits a patch of ice, swerves across three lanes of traffic and then back again to avoid hitting a wall, and comes to a stop where I can’t avoid hitting her).

    My favorite nonsensical advice was this exchange I had with a doctor:
    “Try to eat more like your ancestors.”
    With a puzzled look I ask, “Beer and potatoes?”
    She returns my puzzled look with one of her own, “What are you talking about?”
    “My ancestors were Irish. What are you talking about?”
    (I think the real advice from this exchange was don’t take nutrition advice from a GP.)

  126. Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. The term was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year 1618, which became the spark that started the Thirty Years’ War. -wikipedia

  127. My mother told us often, “Do something even if it’s wrong,” which, as you can imagine, did not keep me out of trouble. But it has made life interesting. Also, my text thingy anticipated the word “wrong.” It either knows me or is channeling my mother.

  128. My mother often told us “Do something even if it’s wrong.” I suspect it was to get us moving. But as I take advice literally, it has NOT kept me out of training, but has made life a series of interesting experiences.

  129. Jenny your hilarious blog posts are proof of what a hilarious writer you are. Take your time because we know what ever you come up with is going to be wonderful

  130. I can’t wait to read all the good/weird advice people have from their mothers. Mine was, ‘You’re looking for a job? snort Who’d hire YOU?!” Grandmother told me to spit on ant bites and rub the spit in.

    But to my main point of writing. I always mistake defenestration with Trephination. so hopefully I can keep those straight. Did your grandparents have any advice regarding trephination???

  131. My high school math teacher used to go on odd rants. Once he said “Don’t marry for money, just go where it is. You hang around money, have a good time, fall in love [air quotes and a pirouette with that last bit], and BOOM, the money’s there too.”

    I’ve heard worse advice.

  132. I recently told my teenager “Don’t stick things where they don’t belong. That’s how you get electrocuted or STDs.” Probably the best advice I could ever give him.

    I had a coworker who constantly messed up sayings. My favorite was “Don’t beat your head against a dead horse.” I liked it so much, I made a sign to hang in my office.

  133. just once or twice
    a year?what’s your secret?

    (It’s actually 99% of the time. Just once a year it gets so bad that I have to get away to make myself write and not get distracted by everything around me. ~ Jenny)

  134. Best advice I ever got — and I wish I could remember the source because I want to be able to credit them — “You can’t heal an emotional wound with logic”. It finally helped me understand why I never found CBT helpful. I thought I was just being difficult and resistant and annoying. Turns out there are others who haven’t found it helpful. (And of course lots of people have found it helpful, so my advice to them would be to ignore my comments and do what is best for you!!)

    Also, I love the word defenestration too. Nearly as good as crepuscular (no, it actually doesn’t have anything to do with pus… it means ‘active at dawn and dusk’. An example is the jaguar).

  135. My mom once told me (when I may have been in trouble with the Principal), “If it gets cold, wear your own underwear.” Superb advice that I continue to follow whether or not it is cold.

  136. Just remembered awesome advice from my maternal grandfather: When it gets done hurting, it will feel better. He is so wise. How does he know this stuff?

  137. A bit of odd advice on electricity imparted on me by my grandfather…

    If you have any worries that a surface is electrified, and you need to touch it, always use the back of your fingers. That way if you get electrocuted your fingers curl away from the surface rather than gripping it.

    This has came in handy with things like gates in electric fences, or outlets wired to old metal boxes.

  138. My Grandma:
    “Effervescent for your covers your fiddlesticks out”
    And Grandma again to a Japanese Exchange Student
    “It’s very important, when speaking English, to not pause at the wrong point in a sentence. If you were having tea with the Queen you could get into big trouble if you say ‘Pass the tea, bag’ when you meant ‘Pass the tea bag.'”

  139. My dad used to tell me to never run over a tumbleweed because it would get stuck under your car and cause it to explode. Considering how many tumbleweeds are in my town, you would think cars would be exploding left and right. They don’t, but I still don’t run them over. Just in case.

  140. The verb to fenestrate exists. It’s used in surgery when you make a little opening or window in a body part that didn’t have one before.

  141. I need to learn to do this. I sometimes go half a year without writing, and it’s usually a miserable existence. And then I write, and I’m like “WHY was I not doing this?!”

    Anyway. I’m more worried about being fenestrated.

  142. The fire department’s ladder trucks can only reach the ninth floor, so don’t stay on a higher floor than that in a hotel or you’ll have to tie bedsheets together and climb out the window. I have no idea if any of that is actually true.

  143. My dad was very safety-conscious, so his advice was always very practical and he repeated the same things a lot. My favorite one was “Don’t stick knives in the toaster; it’ll electrocute you.” I only half believed him but I think of that every time I make toast. And 40 years after receiving that advice I finally Googled it, and apparently it’s true, if you touch the wrong thing in a toaster with a metal utensil it can shock you and damage your toaster, so don’t do it!

  144. not exactly advice but “don’t jump on the bed”….well, why the hell not? Can someone please tell me why not.

  145. My grandmother always said, “If wishes and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a wonderful Christmas”. That, and “Don’t get pregnant until you’re married or you will ruin your life”. So. Mixed bag.

  146. A nun at my mom’s parochial school told the girls to never order ravioli on a date, because it might make the boys think of pillows (I gather the implication being that he’d think of taking her to bed). Patent leather shoes were also a no-no according to that nun, because boys might see up your skirt in the reflection. I’m not sure if it was the same nun, but on another occasion, a kid tried to stuff some food that he didn’t want to eat into his milk carton, because they couldn’t go out to play until everything was consumed. The nun caught him at it, but let him throw it in the garbage. Then she made him take it out of the garbage and eat it, stating, “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.” In short, nuns had weird advice in the 50s and 60s.

  147. My grandfather used to warn us that if the wind changed while we were making dirty faces, our faces would get stuck that way. Of course this is also the man who told us that cheesecake was much too rich for children and he often threatened to hang us from the ceiling fan by our ears.

  148. When I was three, my grandmother took me down to the pool at the hotel they were staying at and told me “Don’t EVER go in there unless you know how to swim or you’ll die!” and because of this I didn’t learn how to swim until I was like 12 years old because I was terrified of the water. So it didn’t stick with me forever, but long enough to put me behind the learning-to-swim curve.

  149. The I married into a family that always says “better than a poke in the eye”. It’s so Minnesota. Because it can always be worse. I’d like to make them a family crest with that on it.

  150. My grandmother always told me “If you play with matches, you’ll pee the bed.” I have no idea. Really, I just came to say I’m impressed you found all the doohickeys to correctly spell kolace 🙂

  151. My grandmother said never to get one of those negligees with feathers around the bottom unless you looked good with feathers around your neck.

  152. About the only advice I ever got was, “Don’t touch yourself down there,” and “Men won’t buy the cow if the milk is free.” Why yes, I did grow up in a slightly repressed family. And one that was wrong on almost all accounts, I’m happy to report.

  153. My aunt claimed several things that have stuck with me. Don’t wear your panties to bed or you will get warts on your bottom. Don’t leave your flashlight on the ground because it will suck out the energy. Always have enough cash in your pocket to get yourself home if your date’s a loser. I think the first one is a hygienic thing, the second is so you don’t step on your flashlight in the dark when camping and the third is just good common sense I still follow with my husband.

  154. Littlewolf, I also love the word crepuscular! Can we defenestrate crepuscular animals!
    Exotherm is another good one (a fire is an exothermic reaction- it releases heat).
    One of my mother’s sayings was ” that was close, if it were a snake it would have bit you!”

  155. You don’t tug on superman’s cape, You don’t spit into the wind, You don’t pull the mask of the old lone ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim.

    Never date a woman that can bench press more than you.

    Never be worth more money dead than alive.

    Don’t eat yellow snow.

  156. My grandmother used to tell us all “Thoughts peed the bed.” As in, “I thought I closed the door.” “Well, thoughts peed the bed! Good luck finding your cat now!” There was always a lot of debate over what that meant, but no real consensus. My sister and I tell our daughters this now and refuse to explain.

    By the way, you should look up Royce White the basketball player. Totally taking one for the acute anxiety disorder team.

    Made me think of you and want to thank him on your behalf but I thought that would be a little presumptive of me. Then again, thoughts peed the bed!

  157. After I moved into my first apartment, my mom told me, “A friend will help you move, but a good friend will help you move a body.” That’s pretty much been my litmus ever since.

  158. My father told me, when I was 5, to never get a tattoo because the police would use it to identify me.

  159. From my farm boy Dad: “Don’t worry about it. It ain’t gonna work out right no how.”

  160. My father told me, when I was 5, to never get a tattoo because the police would use it to identify me.

  161. My father always said “It’ll all work out in the end. Maybe not for the best, but it will all work out.” It has helped guide me to be the cheerful and optimistic person I am today….

  162. Well, this is not passed down, but rather something my husband and I have made a family saying

    “If you’re going to be stupid, be stupider!”

    It’s our way to say “go all the way”, even when you are making a questionable choice, commit and avoid mediocrity! It’s worked for us quite well. For example, recently we went on a wild goose chase of a mystery beach with no map or directions, in a place where we didn’t speak the language. Yep, pretty stupid. The beach we got to wasn’t great so, we just kept going for the next unknown one which tsdaa! Was great! So stupider paid off.

    I hope to pass this to my children

  163. My great grandmother was adamant that my mother and her sisters NEVER sleep without pants on- or “little mice will come and nibble on your chochita”. No idea if this was some bizarre Cuban wives tale to preserve little girls’ innocence or if the woman just took pleasure in traumatizing them, but even as grown, married women my mom and aunts refuse to sleep naked.

  164. My Uncle Mark was going somewhere and he told my cousin and I to “don’t do anything stupid, I’d hate to hafta kick your asses when I get back. My leg already hurts.” He was quite the philosopher..

  165. I actually knew the word defenestration. But only because it was in the latest Mercy book by Patricia Briggs.
    It talked about the 2nd, and at that I knew I had to look up some Polish history.

  166. My kindergarden teacher said, on the first day, not to hug your classmates because that’s how you get lice. I never had lice, so I consider it good advice and repeat it to anyone going into a new experience in life: don’t hug your classmates. (Maybe that’s why I am single? hmm…)

  167. From my dear Gram: “fools’ names and fools’ faces are always seen in public places”. Hm. Might be why I’m still not on Facebook.

  168. If you don’t know what to do, just do the next right thing. If you are stuck, just look around and do the next thing that helps someone, or the world, or yourself. Do the next right thing and you’ll never get too far off track.

  169. “Eating bread crusts will give you curly hair,” they said.

    “But… I have naturally curly hair already,” I said.

    I eat crusts. But mostly because I’m too lazy to ever cut them off, and I hate wasting food.

    I honestly don’t know…

  170. Defenestration is also a favorite word of mine. I accidentally learned it about the same time I was taking High School French and learned the word for window. So I found it quite fascinating. Now I’m going to look up the history that you mentioned. I also like words like crepuscular,garrulous, loquacious,obsequious and ubiquitous. Words are just such fun! You have a good retreat; my retreat comes in two weeks.

  171. I so feel you on the writing block. It’s a prison and I’m in a writing “cell block” near yours, with my own writing.
    When I started, I zipped gleefully through my memoir, calling out this and that atrocity. I was hitting and passing my goal of 2k words a day. Consolidating and editing is a different job that I knew would reduce the total by at least one third. The point was to get it out, tell my truth.
    I soon realized it was too factual. I wrote myself a sticky “What does it smell like? What music is playing?” This made the new chapters start to sing. I felt badly for those early, stilted ones, but they were my tutors.
    “Scrivener” is a marvel for long-form writing and I’m so grateful to the kid at the Apple Store for suggesting it. It’s fluid and clever and quietly lets me be in charge. -And yes, I back up my backups with multiple methods. 🙂
    What I wasn’t prepared for was to find myself turning towards the character whom I’d long been told was the “bad apple.” I started seeing the coercion and terrible physical abuse that had led to them suiciding, decades ago. That their parent had themself been abused became clearer. It does not excuse their own adult choices towards children they were parents and guardians of, and I’m still entitled to feel my feelings. But after half a century, the fist around my heart unclenched.

    And isn’t it a tenent of a good story that the character has to have a marked change?

    Be of good cheer, Jenny.

  172. You know how to make fruit koláče?! You never cease to amaze me. Now, I need you to share the recipe – I tried it once and they were beautiful…but completely inedible.
    As for weird advice, I’ll have to get back to you on that – the whole kolcahe thing threw me off topic.

  173. My mother always told me to never put my hand on a boy’s leg. I’ve been married 40+ years and I still feel slutty if I put my hand on my husband’s leg.

  174. A client once told me never to pack up my house to move while high on cocaine, because while you might be able to pack really fast, you won’t remember where you packed anything. I intend to follow her advice and not get high on cocaine before I pack for my next move, whenever that might be.

  175. Do you know Mike Birbiglia’s story? He lives with a sleepwalking disorder that caused him to jump through a (closed) hotel window. Mike tells the story in his standup comedy, and Ira Glass helped him produce “Sleepwalk With Me” -both currently on Netflix in the US as of this writing. Mike’s gentle observations are also pee your pants funny.

  176. My friend always said, when around someone sweeping, “Don’t get hit with a broom or you’ll end up in jail.”

    Jenni, your post and the ensuing comments made me laugh almost as hysterically as your post long ago about the giant, taxidermied bear head you and Victor found in a second-hand shop.

  177. So, I had this mentor when I was in high school. He was my english teacher, my guidance counselor, and most importantly, the guy who would make sure that I was going to make something of my life (he was in charge of a bunch of inner city, poor, gifted kids). He would sometimes have me come help him during one of my other classes when I was really tired so that I could take a nap, or he’d make sure that I was eating at home. But he used to give all of this advice all the time, things like “you need ceremonies in life” (for example, not attending graduation), and he’d give this advice to so many people. We’d all laugh at it, but we remembered. To this day (25 years later), there are a bunch of us that will be talking about something and a piece of sage advice will be recognized for what it was worth and we will all say “Damn it, I hate it when Bill was right.”. There are probably a couple of hundred of us that remember his comments, we have even discussed with people that had him YEARS before us and they too, hate when Bill was right. The thing is, it’s not really things that you can just list, they’re always these really specific situations where all of a sudden you can just hear him say something, and you know it’s the right thing to do, and then you kind of smile and curse him under your breath.

    My mother, on the other hand, was very adamantly anti-marijuana. And would very clearly explain all of the things that happened when you did MJ, because she did it once and it ruined her life. After years and years of this advice, my younger brother and I sat her down to explain that all of these years, she was mixing up MJ and LSD. Never once did we get a “don’t do heroin” or just a “don’t do drugs”, it was always very specifically, don’t do MJ. She was so disappointed when we told her, it was like she finally had to realize that we were adults.

  178. On the day before my parents started driving me cross-country to college my freshman year, my dad and I took a walk through our pasture, looking at the cows. My dad had some very important advice to give me – “Don’t join any radical political groups, because that is something that will follow you all your life.” Within a month of starting college, a friend and I formed the Student Apathy Party (SAP), because no one wanted to do anything fun with us. We made rally posters saying “Be there. Or not. We don’t care.”

  179. Lily Tomlin used to “do” (was taken over by?) a five-year-old girl named Edith Ann. She sat in a too-big rocking chair that showed how small she was and told child’s truths. The one that has stayed with me:
    “Whenever I think God is watching me, I sing and dance and do a commercial for myself.”

  180. My Austrian Grandmother told me to ‘eat the fat on my chops, it would line my lungs’ and that if we didn’t get the chance to wash our new undies before wearing them, straight out of the plastic packet mind you, we should iron the crotch with a very hot iron. Refugees are just weird.

  181. I am not a “joiner” but there’s a line in AA’s Big Book in Chapter Five “How It Works”- that’s read aloud at every meeting start. It always feels put there just for me to hear:
    “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.”

  182. My mother in law always advised her daughter, “If you can’t be a raving beauty, at least be raving.” She chose both.

  183. Not advice exactly, but on the night before my wedding to my sweet Macedonian-American man, his all-Macedonian grandmother took me aside and told me, “It’s all right that you’re American. You’ll learn.”
    Oh, and my mom used to say, “If they’re jerks, kick ’em in the slats.” Where are the slats? You miraculously find out when you become a parent. Until then, your mom does the slat-kicking for you. I’ve used that with my own kids many times.

  184. Never hang wallpaper with your spouse. I have followed this advice for 21 years and we are still married.

  185. From my Scottish-Norwegian father: “People talk and bullshit walks.” It sounds totally different in Norwegian.

  186. I read the first line as “once a year my HUSBAND becomes constipated,” and I was so excited for the story to follow. I like defenestration too though!

  187. Totally got that first word wrong…’ Money talks…..” PENGER SAMTALER TULL VANDRINGER.

  188. My dad told me to “take a deep breath and maybe some Vicodin.” Weird, I’ve never forgotten

  189. My grandmother gave my teenage mother a weird piece of advice. Never go into a place if you can’t see through the windows from the outside. I think it was just a cryptic way of telling her that proper ladies don’t go to bars, which is the only place I can think of that would be like that.
    It worked! To this day, my mom is a teetotaler.

  190. my dad always said dont play with matches or you will pee the bed. then there was if your left hand itches you are going to handle money soon. if your right hand itches you are going to shake hands with a stranger. and ears burnin meant someone talking about u.

  191. I have some weird advice that I always tell my kids when we watch a suspense/action movie : “Make sure they’re good and dead, shoot them multiple times in the head!” Because if you’re going to shoot somebody, you make sure they don’t get back up!

  192. My grandma used to say, “you gotta eat a peck of dirt before you die.”. I tell my kids this a lot.

  193. My Sicilian mother in law would tell me a bearded lady is always loved. Hmnnn
    My mom told me nothing good happens after midnight and when I was first e mom told me never to eat seeds in anything so to this day 54 years later I can’t eat food with seeds unless I cut them out which usually sacrifices most of the fruit or vegetable

  194. My mom used to get us to go out in the rain by saying “Sugar melts and shit floats, so you’ll be fine.”

  195. No one really gave me advice growing up, unless barking orders was advice and my mom saying “Oh stop worrying! Everything works out.” Which is lame, but I guess true. But here’s something: I would say if you happen to look at a clock and at that exact moment the numbers make your birthday (like 1:17 p.m. and maybe your birthday is January 17th) it means you should make a wish/send a good-vibe out into the universe. (I don’t know why I ever began doing this and not sure if it works.) But the rule is that you can’t just wait for the clock to get to your birthday, like you can’t keep whipping your head around to look at the clock radio on the night stand every 30 seconds. You got this. 🙂

  196. My Sicilian mother in law used to tell me that a bearded lady was always loved….
    And my mom told me when I was 5 that I should never eat seeds. I’m 54 and still cut seeds out of everything I eat, she denies it to this day bit told me I seemed the type to get pregnant in hs hence her 2nd favorite saying … nothing good happens after midnite. She’s rite I work 3rd shift in a hospital

  197. My mother’s advice:
    Never drink a Sloe Gin Fizz – it’s a prostitute’s drink
    If you have to call them something, call them tits. “Boobs” is low class.

  198. Stupid auto correct it was supposed to read when I was 5 my mom told me not to eat seeds.she denies this now but when pressed said I looked like the type who would get knocked up before she was ready and her other pearl of wisdom was nothing good happens after midnite ( again trying to keep my legs closed?) But she was rite I work 3 rd shift in a hospital

  199. I read this somewhere and as a Harry Potter fan, I really liked it! – “live your life so Minerva Mcgonagall would be both proud and exasperated by you”

  200. The worst , saddest thing repeated to me daily was you can’t save them all ( I still try and want to) . Pets people dispose of for no fault of their own.

  201. Saddest thing I hear almost daily is you can’t save them all. Pets people dispose of. But I want to and I try like hell to.

  202. If you jump out a window, is it auto-fenestration?

    And hurray! Someone else likes the word crepuscular! (Though I would advise against defenestrating crepuscular jaguars because they are classified as Vulnerable…) 😉

  203. “Never be naked without a knife”

    Over the weekend I had a friend staying with me, I was about to take a shower when I decided to open a new bar of soap to shower with. Usually I cut bars of soap in quarters so they’re easier to handle when wet and slippery. But I was already naked and didn’t have a knife with me so took the whole bar of What The Moon Brings into the shower with me. I dropped it three times while trying to get my loofah sudsy.


    You’ll drop the soap repeatedly.

  204. Defenestration–flashback to university history class. What is it called when one word is like BAM! Like why did the word Cilia happen all of the sudden. Go, look up Cilia.

  205. Oh! Oh! Every year when we go back to school, the district makes us take a set of e-courses involving fascinating topics like FERPA and co-worker sexual harassment and bodily fluids. My favorite line from that one is ” If it’s warm, wet, and not yours, don’t touch it.” Words to live by, for sure!

  206. Don’t walk while smoking – it’s trashy.
    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
    Which I think is odd because couldn’t you make a leather purse from a sow’s ear? And wouldn’t that be more durable than silk? Also, that’s a pretty small purse we’re talking about. I mean, even a good size pig still has pretty small ears. I bet it wouldn’t hold a pack of cigarettes for one to smoke while walking.

  207. “If you can bite through a carrot, you can bite through a finger.” (It was a self-defense class… but still super weird “advice” I think).

  208. Dad always said, “Don’t fall down. You’ll break you neck and pecker.” I don’t even have a pecker!

  209. A friend said, “never try to waterski in the Mediterranean”. I’ve been safely not skiing there ever since.

  210. Your grandparents sound awesome! I know that writing-is-hard feeling so well… I wrote 67k words in April, and then have maybe written 400 words since then. But your writing is so wonderful, I am very grateful that you keep pushing yourself.

  211. My grandmother occasionally warned me against gypsies leaving their children with me: “They’ll never come back! And then you’re stuck with the baby.” Good advice Nana, because more than once have strangers tried to leave their children in my care.

  212. Words of Wisdom from my father-
    1. It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on
    2. It’s easier to apologize than ask permission
    3. You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

  213. My Aunt Bertha used to say, “Eat every bean and pea on your plate.” Made all of us kids giggle. My mother told me that if I got married, I should never let my husband see me naked. To this day, I still wear socks and a hat during sex. Just kidding, mostly about the sex.

  214. My old boss used to always say you can wish in one hand and s**t in the other and see which one gets full first. I was a naive dreamer, she was an obnoxious, cigarette smoking, Gallo wine drinking realist.

  215. My Grandma fave me two pieces of advice that are pretty great .
    1. Don’t eat the azaleas. (I was 7 and if you eat them, they’ll poison/maybe kill you)
    2. Don’t get old. It’s hell. (Her exact words.)
    Grandma was a vodka drinker and funny as hell.

  216. “If you want something, get off your ass and get it yourself.”
    Best. Advice. Ever, grandmother!

  217. My mother always spoke in cliches and occasionally gave advice that was never explained or expanded on. When a boy broke up with me in Grade 9 my mother said to me ” men are fickle.” Once I understood what fickle meant it became my go to advice for any of my friends having any type of problem. We turned it into an ongoing joke.

  218. “Furiously Happy” was mentioned on one of our local morning radio shows today! They were talking about it being “National Read a Book Day” and one of the women mentioned that that was what she was currently reading. She gave a brief description, and they all thought it sounded great. It made me so happy, and I couldn’t wait to let you know! 🙂

  219. I was told to never buy a white car, but while waiting out Harvey my grandpa revealed to the family he’s only been telling us that because he hates white cars. Thanks to him no one has ever bought a white car.

  220. Basically the opposite of your Nana’s advice: “Never go into a place that has NO windows.” (I grew up near a Navy base – most of the places with no windows near the base were really skeevy strip clubs). I have found this to be sound advice. Check out the places that have NO windows – they’re usually pretty sketch.

    Also, in reference to guys who cheat: “If he’ll do it with you, he’ll do it to you.” Meaning, he’s not cheating on her with you because he’s realized you’re the love of his life. He’s doing it because he’s a cheater.

    And this classic from my father: “Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.” This saying is now going mainstream – go, Dad!

  221. Once, my brother told me to not to take my goggles off underwater because then my head would explode. He does not remember this, but it took me a whole summer take the leap and take them off underwater. So many emotions ran through me when nothing happened.

  222. I don’t like ground floors in hotels as a rule, but the second floor wouldn’t be bad. Defenestration would likely result in only a broken bone or two.

  223. Grandmother to granddaughters: If you lay down like a doormat, you’re going to get walked on. Also, there is one bull and a lot of cows. If you’re one of the cows, then be the bell cow that the others follow. Both are fabulous advice.

  224. Georgia, you only got two-thirds of the saying! As per my mom, “Be good. If you can’t be good, be careful. And if you can’t be careful, name it after me.” Come to think of it, my sister’s first child is named after her… Probably not relevant.

  225. These are awesome.

    I had to tell my 11 y.o. once “don’t raise the dead without an adult present” and I think that’s pretty good advice.

  226. My mothers advice was not to cut your eyelashes, as they take a LONG time to grow new ones. Oh and washing line advice- to avoid peg marks on clothes hang socks by the toes and
    tops folded over and by the underarms. This was very helpful.

  227. My mom told me to keep my money in my shoe.

    And my dad used to say, “If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.” I think in today’s parlance it means, “It is what it is.”

  228. When someone was throwing a fit, my Grandmom used to say they were “having a squealing worm with a bell on it.” I have NO IDEA where that expression came from. Her side of the family is entirely German, so maybe it’s German. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  229. I read the line “writing is torture but having written is the greatest feeling in the world” and got an incredible feeling of relief in my chest. So it’s like that for everyone? That is the PERFECT description. Printing it out to stick on the wall during NaNoWriMo.

  230. My grandmother advised my mother (and my mother passed to me) to “never lick a sharp knife on a moving train.”

  231. Is this anything like feeling absolutely certain that if you stand too close to an open window some strange evil force will toss you out?? Or standing too close to a cliff edge. It’s true. I’ve felt the force!!
    And each time I paint, I’m sure that’s the last painting I can do..and then I do another one.

  232. Daddy says “It’s serious as a rake in the head.” He used to say “Serious as a heart attack,” but that was too serious. Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons always makes me think of him.

    My oncologist always says, as she leaves the office, “Be good, or don’t get caught.”

  233. Live East of where you work so you’re never driving into the sun. Really the advice stated so you never drive with the sun in your eyes, but that’s less interesting.

  234. When my brother finished 8th grade, his best friend’s grandmother wanted to take the 2 boys to Disney World. It was the first time either of us had traveled any distance without our own parent. The boys were talking about the trip and my mom was giving motherly advice and told them to “keep their hands on their valuables”. The boys started giggling and covered their crotches! To this day KEEP YOUR HANDS ON YOUR VALUABLES is the “go to” advice!

  235. From my grandpa, when eating, always eat the food you dislike the most first, because anything your hate warm will taste worst when cold and you can always eat the foods you like to get rid of the awful taste. (This applies to lima beans and brussel sprouts) and why does spellcheck want me to capitalize Brussels but not lima? Is it prejudice against Peruvians?

  236. Totally agree about writing. It’s like dry waterboarding that you’re really glad you went through.

  237. Another bit of advice from a friend: Never have sex in a rocking chair while wearing an apron. I didn’t ask.

  238. I love purple, and I mentioned to a friend once that I’d like to get a purple car some day. She replied, “Never get a purple car. Everyone will notice if you leave work early.” Good advice.

  239. Defenestration of Prague! Never forget.

    bows head solemnly, trying to remember which priests or whatever were tossed out of windows

    Writer’s block can suck. However, the nugget that I took from this post was a realization I came to recently, even when writing about stupid shit like Game of Thrones or bad music or whatever: it is cathartic and it feels damn good. I was so consumed with stress the other day… I just had to write for two hours non-stop about Game of Thrones.

    The subject matter didn’t matter. Writing was the panacea, at least for me.

    Blog on, Blogger (-ess)!!

  240. It’s bad luck to put a hat on a table or shoes on a bed. Every time I pack a suitcase, with it on my bed, it weirds me out just a little to sit my shoes on the bed.

  241. My Czech grandparents never warned me of the dangers of defenestration. Now I feel neglected.

  242. I feel like someone more ambitious than me should collect all this advise so I can give it to my daughter as she is just entering middle school. I’m stubborn and don’t listen to anyone, so I have no clue what advise to impart on my own.

  243. My dad’s favorite was “The first time is an error; the second time is a bad mistake.”

  244. My brother went through a window once, he survived so it must not be all bad. It was the first floor though, so that seems like solid advice to me.

  245. My best friend in high school’s mom, used to tell us about the advice she had gotten from her high school boyfriend’s mom. (Could I make this advice any more distant?) The advice was this: While driving don’t hit a box, it may have a head in it. To this day, if I see a box in the middle of the road, I’ll kindly point it out and tell the others in my car not to hit it because it may have a head in it. I find it helpful advice. I’ve never hit a box, so I don’t know how many heads I’ve avoided. And I’ve been grateful. Can you imagine driving down the road and having a head fly up into your windshield? I get strange looks when I pass on this advice, and even stranger looks when I try to explain where I got this little gem; but, I’m sure the looks aren’t as strange as the look they’d give if they were eye to eye with a head.

  246. My Dad’s only warning when I had the opportunity (at age 15) to go on a water skiing weekend with my boyfriend’s family was, “Just remember, Mama’s little lamb don’t come home looking sheepish.”
    My Mom’s New England aphorisms included, “Right foot itches, you’re going to walk on strange ground; left foot itches, you’re going to walk where you’re not wanted”, and “Less said, sooner mended.”
    [And I must have gotten the bulletin somehow about “fool’s names and fool’s faces…” because here I am as “Anonymous”… and feel allergic to fb]

  247. I swear to god, for some reason I am seeing the word defenestration all of the place recently. I was discussing what Trump was doing to American foreign policy with my gf and she busted out with “The Defenestration of America”. What a great title for an article I’m never going to write! lol

  248. This may get lost in all these comments, but here it goes! First of all… you are my spirit animal! And I mean that im the most sincere and heartfelt way possible! My girlfriend introduced me to your work because she knew I could relate on SO MANY levels!
    So, we recently had an in-depth conversation about the word defenestration! (We have the most amazing, interesting, and unusual talks). Our talks inevitably turn to politics. In the course of said conversation I had an outstanding (im my opinion) idea for a book title…. The Defenestration of America. I think you would be a perfect author for this book. Just putting it out there to the universe!

  249. I have no idea why auto correct thinks “im” is even a word. 😐
    Artaud (the comment above mine) is the girlfriend. Lol

  250. I’m not sure about advice, but my dad used to say “Some days you buy a duck and it drowns” if we’d had one of those days when everything was wrong.

  251. My Nana always told me ‘never pass up an opportunity to pee’, I do believe she was right too!!

  252. “A beer in the hand is better than two in the fridge.”

    Way to put a spin on an old classic, grandpa. If you knew what the internet is, I’m sure you’d be thrilled a (remote pocket) wide audience now knows your words of wisdom.

  253. Someone once told me to never tell a kid not to put beans up his nose. Point being that whatever you tell a kid Not to do… ever since then I’ve told all the kids in my life, don’t put beans up your nose! So far, not one of them has done it! I don’t know whether to be glad or sorry

  254. My mom said, “If you’re gonna go to a Broadway show, you might as well stick a crowbar in your wallet and get Orchestra seats.” And I have never sat in the cheap seats in my life. If you’re gonna do it, do it right.

  255. My mom is famous among my siblings for her well meaning but TERRIFYING advice. Dispensed usually right before leaving the house. I’m going to share her bee advice.

    During a tropical storm years ago, a beehive was destroyed not too far from my house. When that happens, the bees find a spot and all stick together. It looks like a big ball of bees, because it is one. So we had a giant ball of bees wrapped around the branch of a spindly tree in the backyard and mom was headed to work. “Oh!” She says. “If the bees start flying down the chimney, turn on the fire. Bye!”

  256. Definitely not just you. Whenever we would ask my mom where she was going, she would always respond with “To the moon to pick bananas,” which I’m pretty sure was her way of saying “Stop being so concerned about where other people are going. Worry about where YOU’RE going.” That might sound like harsh thing to say to a kid, but we did ask her where she was going like…every five seconds, so… I think she had a point.

  257. When I first got a cat I asked my brother how to deal with sand from the litter box being on the floor. His reply: “Always wear socks.”

    That remains the most helpful advice anyone in my family has given me. Make of that what you will…

  258. Don’t do dishes barefoot.
    Seriously, if you drop a plate and it breaks and a piece lands on your foot that’s bad enough — but now you’re barefoot on a floor covered with shards of broken plates. Or, rather I was barefoot on a floor cover with plate shards with another shard sticking out of my foot.
    Happily someone was home.

  259. Not advice but when us grandkids complained about not having something, my grandma would say “Tough tittie said the kitty when the milk went dry.”

  260. My 7th grade English teacher gave us the following advice about taking exams: Always wear comfortable underwear while taking an exam. Strange advice for a classroom full of hormonal 12 year olds, but it has stuck with me for 30+ years.

    And she was right.

  261. I don’t know if it counts as advice, but I was told, “If you have deja’vu, it means your life is headed in the right direction.” It’s worked out for me so far.

  262. Jenny, do you know what it’s like reaching out to several “friends” only to have them ignore you. I feel like there is something wrong with me and I cannot imagine what I have done. I’m so tired.

  263. Top 2 pieces of advice from my Dad. #1 – If you shoot someone breaking in to your house & they fall outside the house, pull them inside the house after you shoot them. Glad to report I never had to use that advice. #2 – I broke off an engagement after finding out my fiancé cheated on me. Dad said – next time find someone who appreciates you. I did and married him. I just wish my Dad would have been alive to see that I followed his advice on #2.

  264. @theslingsta the the word your looking for is transfenestrate or transfenestration. Which means to eject or throw (someone or something) through a closed window. (TIL Latin is cool)

  265. Lots of good advice here…
    From my mom: the most important thing while driving is not to panic.
    If you get in an accident, move to the side of the road. (My addition to that is don’t bend your door back in position until the police see it and you take a picture for insurance purposes.)
    Don’t play with fire or you’ll wet the bed.
    From my grandma: boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. (I’m glad that’s not true, but it was really only my husband and I guess I made the first move…)
    I lost a husband, everything else is just stuff.
    And mine to my kids: I don’t care what kids do in books, find an adult to run your ideas by because they have more life experience than you.

  266. Advice from my great grandfather was “If you can’t sing good, sing loud” and “they just can’t cut your head off” in reference to worrying about the consequences of risk taking (as opposed to ‘what’s the worst that could happen’). Solid words from a Swedish farmer.

  267. I’ve never been pushed out of a window but I once told my oldest son that if there ever was a fire, he needed to push his brother out their bedroom window (first story near the ground–I was afraid he’d be too scared to get out himself and might run back in to the house). Now I know that I could’ve had that conversation with less words.

  268. The best advice I was ever given was by a professor in graduate school regarding overcoming stage fright (I was a voice major). He said get up on stage, stand at the piano, put your head down and tell the audience to “F off” very quietly under your breath. It worked! I won the competition!

  269. My all time favorite words of wisdom from my mother … I was swimming in the pool in our back yard when it started to rain. My mom stuck her head out the door to tell me to “come inside before you get wet in the rain”. Still makes me giggle after all this time! 🙂

  270. Sadly, I never got any really great advice, but I haven’t been thrown out of a window yet, so maybe someone did say that and I just don’t remember. Which means there are at least 2 of us it’s working for!

  271. My grandmother once told me to “always wear nice shoes, because that is what the boys look at first.” The boys and men that I know have NEVER mentioned my shoes to me…ever…at all.

  272. I got told to “never be anything you can’t pronounce”
    Which I guess is better advice than “never be anything you can’t spell”
    I dunno, I’m pretty bad at both of those, so it’s kind of job limiting.

  273. for any problem, water is the answer. drink it, cry it out, sweat it out, or shower in it.

  274. My dad told me if I wasn’t happy to “vote with my feet.” I think of that every time I leave a job.

  275. In Russia I was told by random old women on the street not to sit on stone walls or get my feet wet because my ovaries would freeze and I’d never have children,

  276. “A leopard never changes it’s stripes.” –A quote my Mom repeated from my dear Aunt. My Aunt who finally was politely told, “Leopards have spots”. She decided she liked her version better…. 😉 Either way, it is true. LOVE your blog and all your writing!

  277. I was told never to play with my belly button or my stomach would fall out. Even all these years later, I won’t let anyone mess with my belly button, even though I know it’s sealed tight with scar tissue.

  278. “If you see a turtle on a post, you know he had help getting there.” is something a friend’s father used to say. (I collect weird things people say.)

    My mother used to say, whenever we complained that one part of our body or another hurt, “Well, that’s what happens four days before it falls off.” She also used to say, “If you don’t have a good time at a party, then you weren’t a very good guest.”

    My husband’s family used to say, “Well, it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.” The first time I heard that, I thought, well, isn’t everything better than that?

  279. “Don’t wear red nail polish – it will look like you killed someone.” My grandmother told me this about 30 years ago and I still haven’t worn red nail polish. And I’ve never been arrested for murder. Coincidence?

  280. The rule of thumb for whether a toy is too hard to give to a dog is ‘if you would object if I hit you in the kneecap with it, it’s too hard for them to chew on.’ I tracked down the original idea from veterinary dental specialist Dr. Fraser Hale, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC. All those extra letters mean he really knows what he’s talking about. I always feel a little odd sharing that advoce with clients, but the kneecap rule is a good one and used by many veterinarians!!

  281. From my ex husband Don’t drive next to the parked cars – they won’t move.” Actually very sound advice. My mother’s mother’s advice on starting her period “don’t get your feet wet.” We never did find the reasoning behind that one. Mom told me not to drive like Barney Oldfield, never to not work or depend on a man, and that anything was better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, advice with which I agree wholeheartedly

  282. When I was born the Czech contingent in my extended family tried to strong-arm my parents into naming me Vaclav (at the same time, the Tennessee hillbillies wanted Bethel; my Grandpa Bethel took my folks aside and begged them, “PLEASE don’t name that child Bethel.”) Mom told them all to have their own babies, name them any goddamn thing they felt like, and shut up about me.

  283. I could fill up an an entire page about the bad advice my mom gave me, but a particularly cringe-worthy piece of advise was: ‘If a boy you don’t like asks you out, go anyway because you can ‘practice’ being on dates so if someone you really like asks you out, you’ll know what to do.” Nice, huh? Not only are you telling your daughter to use someone for a meal or a movie, you are also advising her that HER time is meaningless and that a young woman doesn’t have the prerogative to CHOOSE her own company. (And there is also the danger factor–every guy that I thought was creepy really was creepy.) Someone in my 30’s gave me much better advice: Better to be alone than to wish you were.

    I’m happy to say that once I graduated from high school I disregarded my mom’s stupid rules. In fact, the more I discarded her fucked up values and thought-processes, the better my life became.

  284. When I was in grade school, my dad was trying to explain the difference between “Here” and “Hear”.

    He said here is a place like there is a place and here is there without the “T.”
    And if you want some one to Hear you, they need their ears – ear with an “H.”

    I think that always whenever I write here or hear. Thanks Dad.

  285. My grandfather shared two pieces of advice with me that I feel the need to pass along as frequently as possible. Once he told me, “if I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of my teeth.” Not really sure why he said that, since his diet consisted of home made wine, cheap beer and food cooked until it fell apart. But, I pass that tidbit of advice along to children as often as possible (I work in education) and to my son, who dislikes teeth brushing. The next sage words of wisdom he once told me was, “if you can’t be safe, be sanitary.” I pass that along to my own children, but I don’t pass that advice on to students. Unless they are college -aged. Those students really need to hear that type of advice….

  286. Not related to the above post. Just saw this headline and thought you needed to see it too. Creepy Child Mannequins in Weird Poses – part of a collection in Michael Jacksons’ house. Thought it would go along well with your creepy doll collection, or maybe start another contest using the creepy dolls and put them in weird poses?

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