Aug 10Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

This is a beautiful family! I can sense the love!

In my house growing up our values did not align with society at large in that we always tried to be honest but kind with one another. There were only the three of us and so there was really nowhere to hide. Nobody went to bed angry. It was a tiny utopia. I was therefore not adequately prepared for The World.

Because opposites attract, I married a man from a family of virtuoso liars from a country where lying is a great cultural tradition. They are always angry with each other and everybody else, but they never, absolutely never ever, tell the person with whom they are angry anything at all about it. There are rules I don’t understand. It’s kind of Masonic.

Expand full comment


Expand full comment
Aug 10Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

I remember every landline phone number I’ve ever had, and where it was. (Freeq remember?) (p.s. they make great PINs or passwords).

Mom never told me about stuff happening im/to family members bc she “didn’t want me to worry”. (I was in the military so was never home)

This until I told her that it meant I would worry all the time that stuff was happening that she wasn’t telling me about.

She never held back after that.

Bless her soul.

Expand full comment

7. Today you can only place phone calls to individuals, not families. With landlines, you could do things like call an entire family with one phone call. I would call my Uncle Jim’s house and tell the first person who picked up, or the answering machine, that I was going to the pool and they could come, too. Am I going to call up every person in the family and let them know I’m going to the pool?! No. That’s too much business for an evening dip at the neighborhood pool.

Expand full comment

Do you remember landlines? Favorite feature of the landline - pre-call waiting: the busy signal and the operator coming into the line with an “emergency phone call”

Expand full comment

She doesn't want you to feel bad about it, so she told us not to tell you." 


Come on.  🤣🤣🤣🤣

Expand full comment

OMG the Famchine. I love it. Yes. I still fight it. 🙄

Expand full comment


Because same: (anxious/sceptical polish jewish granddaughter here)

a) My Safta (grandma) has had the phone number for 40 years... (and only does incoming calls too!)

b) My parents also tell me to say their gifts to my Safta are from me. They say she'll be more likely to accept them. They argued for 3 years straight about getting her a new bed. She said her bed was just fine. My parents disagreed. I try to stay out of it these days....

c) We still think the world is out to get us even though the danger has (mostly) passed (we live in super safe Australia). For example: my mum is ready to flee the country at any moment. And advises me rather regularly that I should be prepared to do the same.

d) My parents lie A LOT - even tiny things - how long they spent at Costco. Where my grandparents live. What they had for lunch. Or which year they came to Australia. Lies stress me out a lot - so I try to break pattern.

e) And despite all their shenanigans—I love them deeply. The family has taught me to be kind, tough, and fair. They've encouraged me to follow my dreams "because your grandparents were in the camps! So stop complaining and just go do it". And while I used to be so mad at their craziness—these days I sigh, listen as much as I can, and try to take away the strengths rather than the fears. It's not easy, but it's reason enough to love them for me.

Expand full comment

6. I only know the phone numbers of my immediate family. However, I have my credit card and debit card numbers emblazoned in my mind so that I don’t have to pull out my card every time I shop online. I know. I could be hacked. I have been hacked, but the bank always covers whatever was hacked. I know. That may not always be true, but it has been so far so please don’t ask me to stop shopping online. I can’t do it. I live in a rural area and often it’s the only option. Other numbers in my memory bank- my childhood phone number. I am sure most of you remember that one. But I also have my drivers license number in my memory bank. The one that never sticks though is my license plate number - like if you go to a hotel and they want to know your license plate number. I usually leave it blank and I’ve never been questioned about it. Go figure!

Expand full comment

1. What lies do you and your family tell each other? It’s OK if they’re not about chyaniks

2. I stole $5 from my brother after he lost a bet to me for $5 and wouldn't pay it. I denied that I took it. It still bugs me that it's never come up again.

3. Sometimes "Pooh", rarely

4. Not so secret fear about family? that my parents will ask for/need a family caregiver person

5. What do I love about rotary phones? People with 0s because I love the noise.

6. About 5. Parents, one brother, maybe other brother? Partner, finally. My aunt's landline from the 1980s

7. FAVE was being able to hang up in different ways to get a point across. Gentle for "I don't wanna end this" and SLAMMING it for the opposite.

Expand full comment

1.) I don't know about lies, necessarily, but withholding information and gossip seem to be incredibly popular among my family members. Usually if someone has something to say about you, you'll be the very last to hear about it. It's as though their opinions of you (or your actions) need to be approved by every single person in the entire family tree before they can bring it to your attention. Which is... neat.

3.) My family has always called me by my middle name. Not even my middle name. A shortened version of my middle name (the name you're seeing now). Most people in my life don't even know what my actual first name is. Because I'm a mystery, you see. What?... Some people think an identity crisis makes you more interesting.

8.) *Least* favorite thing about landlines: When you're spending your Friday/Saturday nights lurking for pirated music on KaZaa or LimeWire (or even Napster if you're a true OG), and then some inconsiderate pr*ck like, say... Lars Ulrich from Metallica... picks up the phone to make a call. Suddenly, your NetZero dial up connection crashes and all of your downloads dissolve in an instant, destroying hours worth of hard work. And then you scream past your bowl of cereal, "G*d D*MM*T LARS!! I CAN'T BURN THIS CD WITHOUT THAT SUGAR RAY SONG!! WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?! YOU SHOULD BE OUT SUING SOMEBODY!!"

Expand full comment

Looking forward to your Notes event on Friday! I still have a landline actually, and my favorite feature is getting to have a weird phone. I have a working Garfield phone on my desk.

Expand full comment

dear alex,

i love you and here are the answers to your questions:

"What lies do you and your family tell each other?"

i don't know if we LIE to each other so much as NOT TELL each other certain things. like, i do psychedelics sometimes and my mom doesn't love that and so MOST of the time we don't talk about it. also, one time my mom told me that after she dies, there's a box of something that she'll want me to just throw away, and she didn't tell me what was in it, and then a few years later i asked her about it and she was like "what box, there's no such box" so i don't know what was in it but we're all good for now. (probably the box was NOT full of psychedelics.)

"When has lying to protect people gotten out of hand / slipped into lying to protect yourself / created overall distrust? Tell me about it I wanna know!"

lying has NEVER done this. (he said, to protect himself.)

i mean, lying can create distance and separation and isolation in a world where one of the most meaningful things is connection and togetherness and communion and love. (so i guess if everyone's lying, then we're all connected like that? but the other way works better i think.)

"Does your family call you something different than your actual name?"

no, but my initials are MAK and my mom told me growing up and also recently that she named me that so that people could call me the nickname "mak" and then no one called me that including her.

"How many phone numbers do you know by heart?"

at least 6. mine. my mom's. my dad's. my girlfriend's. my childhood phone number. 1-800-MATTRES (leave off the last S for Savings).

"Do you remember landlines?"


love you! thank you!


Expand full comment

I read the whole thing wondering what Russian fries looked like and I"M SO GLAD YOU INSERTED A PIC

Expand full comment

First... I don't really have an interest in Notes, but I would sign up just to hear your 10-min schtick. LOL I was reading this post on the pot last night (yes, THAT porcelain pot) and was cackling for a good 10 mins. Good thing no one was wondering where I was.

Second... Famchine. Stealing. This.

Third... Thank you for the Russian language lessons. I like it when you do that. Keep it up.

Fourth... Ditto on the criss-cross-applesauce. I'm American and even I don't really understand that reference.

Fifth... My ex-husband was into the whole WWE/WWF/GHIJ yadda, yadda, yada...so I was practically howling with laughter when you mentioned the criss-cross-X-across-the-groin. What the HELL did that even mean?

To answer your questions:

1) Right now, it feels like my Dad is doing the lying right now. Telling us he's ok, when we know he's not. Caring for the love of his life who's forgetting who he is day by day due to dementia, is really hard on him. Getting him to attend a support group/bring someone in for a couple of hours respite is a major chore. And her condition is just starting, sooooo..it's not going to get any better.

2) Yes, pretty sure there was lying to protect myself when I was younger. Lying that got out of hand? Yes, with the ex-hubby. I actually may address that in a post at some point in my Sunday Stories.

3) Yes. It was Lil' Bit at one point. Boo-Boo during high school. But it's been Anjo since I was young.

6) I only know mine by heart! LOL How sad is that? But you make a good point that I should know the numbers of my family. At least.

7) Yes, to our old house in Scottsdale. Don't really have a favorite feature. It just sucked that to talk to anyone, we had to sit in the kitchen. So, EVERYONE in the family room (or the kitchen), could hear your convo.

Expand full comment

4) My thoroughly upper-midwestern mother (and all of her kin) have a distinct "tell" when they want to get off the phone -- "well, aaaaaaanyway..." with nothing afterwards. Conversation over!

Expand full comment