Nov 18, 2022Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Alex my friend I am down for the count so I shall be back to my regular commenting dude duties soon, but I must say, how surprised am I that my dad chose “jerk nugget” as his pseudonym

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Alex! I was supposed to fly to Buffalo this weekend for the big 80th birthday party my sibs and I had planned for my dad, but the five feet of snow (!!!) put the kibosh on that. I'll still see him later this week for Thanksgiving but I'm sad I won't with him on his birthday. And now reading this issue of your newsletter has me feeling even more melancholy about it.

On a lighter note, my favorite line: "That’s how we grow big enough to Buy The New York Times!"

Right on!

ALSO: I took a few weeks off from drinking any kind of diet soda recently and when I tried to go back to it I realized how VILE it all is and have not drunk any since. So you can have the Diet Coke AND the Coke Zero.

ALSO ALSO: If you succeed in launching a successful advice column I will DIE of ENVY. I tried this with my newsletter early on and NO ONE WANTED MY ADVICE.

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Nov 19, 2022Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

i love all the comments people have been writing, because they are amazing and also because my comments don't stand out as A Big Essay Where It Doesn't Belong.

one thing this got me thinking about is how some folx are like, my parents moved away from their parents, my siblings also live far, my family is spread out, so that's just the way it is. and growing up in rhode island where all our family on both sides also lived/lives in RI, i feel like some people would find it hilarious how much i am lamenting living "far away" in massachusetts. maybe it's because everyone still lives there that i feel so far. maybe it's just that RI thing that gets ingrained in you that everything not ten minutes away is a road trip. i don't know. my dad asked me recently if i remembered all the driving we used to do every christmas - we always had christmas at home, and then drove to my paternal grandparents to see that side of the family, and then clear back towards home but then further in the opposite direction to see my maternal grandparents and that side of the family, and i remember seeing friends of my parents at their apartment as well. and i was like of course i remember that, and my dad was like, that must have sucked! and i was like what?? it was amazing! being carted around with all my new toys to have various groups of people obsess over me* and shower me with more gifts, and then sleeping on my car pillow that had a satin pillowcase** in the back seat without a care in the world? literally a dream. and my dad was really worrying for ??time that i hated driving all over creation instead of just chilling at home all day. dad pls.

*i was the only grandkid on both sides for over a decade so, yk, that was cool. (the downside of this of course is that now at family stuff i feel like i don't fit in with the adults or the kids so i just stand around awkwardly and it's actually pretty uncomfortable.)

**my gramma on my mom's side always had satin pillowcases which i thought were The Height of Luxury and finally i got my own, my special car pillow. (coming back full circle on how "long drives" that might require such things are one thing in rhode island and likely defined very differently everywhere else.)

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fun! love it as always!

specific loves include:

-- I do not write the newsletter, the newsletter writes me. (IN SOVIET UKRAINE)

-- how we Grow big enough to Buy The New York Times! (BOTH ARE TIMES)

-- Something about mid November makes me wanna help people.

-- Cokeacola’s jail

-- now I truly drink Zero Coke :(

-- he cannot even name most fruits i show him

-- Why did we ever convince ourselves that friendships weren’t priority #1?


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I adore your sense of fun and zany whimsy. And thank you a whole truckload of house-delivered Diet Coke for including the art of Helen Frankenthaler. Wonderful.

Personally, I drink seltzers and when the need for Coke becomes unbearable I spring for one genuine, wholy unhealthy and delicious Coca Cola. To my taste buds DC is hyper-sweetened swill. My husband however will drink nothing else. Love helps us bridge that razor-edge-rock-filled gaping abyss. CZ in my mind is just personal delusion with a denial-mask about flavor (for me talking about flavor and CZ together makes as much sense as claiming that Birkenstocks are fashionable).

Human variety be praised, there are beverages for us all. Let's rejoice together with our diversity of personal whistle-wetters.

I'm so jealous that you have grandparents availble across any distance. Fretting over the distance is a luxury to be treasured--I had one living grandmother, over 1000 miles away. Every moment with her lives with me as one of the best in my life.

Your writing freshens the mind every day. Thanks.

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Hello Alex!

I know you are busy. Your fun and well crafted responses are joyous and I appreciate the gift of your time.

Yes, yes, yes. You are free to use any of my words on your testimonials.

I have found satisfactory sandal alternatives but receive verbal disparagements from my friends for wearing socks with sandals. References to E.O. Wilson and other luminary sock/sandal fashionistas hold no weight with these people. Sadly and perhaps happily, we can't choose who we love.


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Hello Alex. Your writing is completely engaging and somewhat addictive. This reply isn't any competition for a last word, simply a bit of repentance on my part. Your Birkenstock line drew forth some heretofore undefined personal guilt and shame. Here's the authentic truth.

All of my family except me wears Birkenstocks. Every season's new designs fill their closets and their conversations comparing the merits of favorite colors and styles. Twice they bought me Birkenstocks as presents, and both times the gifts wound up at Goodwill. My genetics expressed an unfortunate phenotype in me: the third and fourth toes are longer on both feet than the second toes. My unfortunate deformity makes me 100% unable to wear Birkenstocks. That little toe-lip rising along the edge of the shoe, that protects toes from bruising or from slipping too far forward, blisters my sadly elongated third and fourth toes which hang over that ridge like the extra bits of cat attempting to sit in a too-small bowl. Birkenstocks kill my feet. Adding insult to physical injury, I'm also allergic to alloy metals, so those little staples and buckles don't just blister my skin, they cause boils that spread and develop across my feet like the biblical plague. Perhaps you can grant some mercy to forgive my lifetime of barely repressed, vitriolic, green-envy directed at those able to just step into Birkenstocks without socks, those who hike miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in Birkenstocks, which spilled with toxic abandon across my response to your wonderful essay. I apologize for my unfortunate lapse of self control.

And I love the line you drew--it contains generously, equally spaced, gaps of hope for continued dialogue.

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Nov 19, 2022Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

ps, yes to the self help book, i can contribute debris from my carpet. i have a lot so hopefully it will be enough.

pps yes to the advice column!! can't wait to read.

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answers to your questions:

1) i am willing to fund the whole project but not ABLE to... YET!

2) you shared many great angles!

3) i love diet coke so much because it has less sugar than regular coke i think probably


thank you!

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Wow, Alex, an incredible post. Saving it to reread forever.

Diet Coke is THE BEST - I can still remember the taste of an early version, when I think it must have been sweetened with saccharine. It was disgustingly bitter yet inexplicably moreish. I don't drink it any more, though - aspartame very unsportingly sets my brain on fire these days, after decades of overconsumption of the gamut of artificial sweeteners - but if I ever had a 'what if you could do anything you want IN THE WORLD today, Rebecca?' day, the first thing I would do would be to crack open a can of Diet Coke.

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Ah, jealousy. :D

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Nov 18, 2022Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Our solution to the grandparent distance thing was just to have the grandparents move in with us! I guess we were lucky that they were willing to move halfway across the country to join us, but they really wanted to be near the grandchild. I honestly think it makes more sense for grandparents to do that since they no longer have work tying them to one spot.

Now that my husband and I both work remote, we turned it around and moved everybody back to their hometown, so now we're all closer to the rest of the family. The downside is that I actually miss working in an office and there aren't any opportunities to do that here. But I think the tradeoff is worth it.

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