Monday, February 28, 2011

I Get Around

I am guest posting over at Mommypants today!

What?  You thought I meant that in a different vein?  Well, I *did* once, but not anymore.  I'm a proper married lady now, remember.  Ahem.

So come visit my friend Cheryl's terrific blog, and read all about how I wear my Mommypants.

Especially the upgrades I needed as my son's special needs were emerging, and no one was listening to me...

Cheryl was one of my early blogging connections.  She wrote for the (now sadly defunct) SV Moms Group Orange County Moms blog, a sister site to the NYC Moms Blog I wrote for.  I was noodling around their other sites, discovered Cheryl there, followed her back to her home blog and was hooked. 

Cheryl is a wonderful writer and a great mom, with three astonishingly beautiful children.  She was a pioneer, a sportswriter in a time when women were still a novelty in the locker room.

She also a truly generous blogger, creating connections and community both at Mommypants and at The Red Dress Club.

Cheryl is one of the founders of, and a driving force behind the wonderful Red Dress Club site.

This is a support site for writers, a virtual writer's society.  They have recently begun a specifically memoir writing prompt, and I was very pleased with the post my participation in this inspired.

So now go, read me at Mommypants today, and then stay for a while and savor Cheryl, explore some other mommypants moments guest posts.

I am honored to be in such prestigious company, proudly wearing my Mommypants along with the amazing guest bloggers who have come before me.

And if you are new to The Squashed Bologna, come over from Cheryl?  Welcome!

I love to meet new people, make new friends.  Sit down, stay awhile, I have some stories to tell...

Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: One sleeps, the other doesn’t

Sunday, bloody Sunday.  Yawn.  OK...


This is not the first time I have complained whined ranted talked about this, (nor will it likely be the last) but tihs morning at 6:30 AM I sent out this tweet:

The puking thing last night was highly unusual (my kids have not been THANK GOODNESS stomach buggy pukey types, even when babies, they were not big into the spit-up thing).  Usually it’s just his brain that keeps Ethan up until 10, 11, 12 at night.  Every night. Talking talking talking.

And yes, he is my twin WITHOUT autism. And yes, I know how unusual that is. Jacob, the one WITH the autism is usually easy to put to bed. (Unusual for autism, I know.)  Really, he’s out like a light in like 5 minutes.

Jake has to get up at 6 AM for his bus on school days, and the downside to that is, once the habit sets into his brain? It doesn’t un-set. so weekends, holidays? Still 6, maybe 6:30 if I’m lucky.

But with Ethan his ADD or anxiety or some combination thereof makes him a terrible sleeper. It may also be his circadian rhythms. My husband and I are naturally both night owls, even as kids, too. We’re writers, this is not unusual. Comes with the territory for many.

And you know what I have also often said about apples and trees, yes?  When I was a kid I was scared, no, *terrified* of the dark. Slept with the light on until I was 14. Yes, 14.  Yes the light, full on, no wimpy, shadow inducing night-light for me. But I was an only child, I could do that without disturbing anyone else.

We live in a small NYC apartment, they HAVE to share a room. Which sucks in so many other ways, but I won’t go into that now.

But here’s the other, NEW thing.  While this is our normal pattern, It has suddenly gotten worse. Last night Ethan was unable to sleep because his stomach hurt (not unusual, anxiety often does this) but then? the puking. Ended around 1 am.

And, also? For the past 2 nights Jacob has suddenly been having trouble falling asleep, waking in the night, up BEFORE 6 yesterday…  We’ve been trying a new medication on him, one that 2 different doctors had high hopes would really help calm down the constant talking, quiet the busyness in his brain, help him focus. 

It may be doing a tiny bit of that.  But the main thing it seems to be doing is disturbing his sleep. And the One thing I have been able to count on is his being my good sleeper. CRAP!

Writing this down, I am realizeing I am more upset about this than I thought I was.  I was hoping this was the “magic bullet” for Jake. Both Dr. H AND Dr. N independently came up with this,  thought it might really make a big difference for him, that he was the right “type” to respond to this particular medication. CRAP! Crappity crap, crap!

And that’s so NOT how I love to end my posts, with “crap”. But today? It will have to do.


This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post.  It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump.  Want to try it?  Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spell-checking. (BOY, that part is hard for me!) This is writing in the raw.
You can do it, too!  Click on the link and let's hear your 5 minutes of brilliance...

Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.

Friday, February 25, 2011

T is for Television

T is for Television.



Idiot box.

One eyed monster.

The lazy mom's babysitter.

My son Jacob's true love, language teacher, and best friend.

I have such a love/hate relationship with this beast.

I am a child of the second great age of television, the 1960s.  My husband, seven years my senior, was a child of the first, the golden age, the 1950s.

We watched TV, we loved TV, but it was different. Inane kids programming wasn't available 24/7.  We watched family shows, as a family.

We watched the news, because that was on and our families were interested in the world and what was happening in it.  My family watched a lot of public television, and I learned a lot of science, culture, history there.

There was a downside. In the 1960s everybody on TV was white. Really, very few exceptions. They stood out. It was bizarre, a weird, completely un-true mirror of the world. I got to witness the sea change, the transformation across my lifetime. Although I skipped a few years.

Hard to believe, but it's true: from about 1978 through 1987, nearly a decade, I did not own a television. I would watch when I went home to visit my family, at friend's houses, in bars, Superbowl parties, Oscar nights.

But TV, in those years? Not a daily part of my life.

Hard to imagine, now, where barely an hour goes by that some screen doesn't come on.

My kids watch too much, are too enamored. I know that, but its hard to change.

Jacob, like many autistic kids, learns well through repetition. He really did learn much of his early language from the television, from videos that tied visuals to words, helped to make more abstract concepts (above, before, friend) visual, visceral. Computer programs helped him learn to read.

But the line between helpful and too much? Very fuzzy, a quite wavering line in the sand.

The other night the boys and I were watching the rather inane, yet somehow enjoyed by us, "Family Game Night" show on TV and I had a moment where the normality of TV dissolved away. (When words appear to lose their coherence and meaning it's called dereifying... I wonder what to call it for an object?)

And I was staring at this box of moving lights and pictures squatting on a low table in our living room. (Yeah, we still have a deep square box of a TV, circa 1995, wanna make something of it?)

A person appeared on it and I thought "How strange... here's this person I do not know, in my living room talking to me. This... box... delivers stories and entertainment, information, and so much more into my very living room."

And I thought about what a strange thing it is to live at this specific time in history where this is so, and for such a large part of humanity. More people in the USA have televisions than have indoor plumbing. No lie.

Think about it: a thousand channels and still crapping in the woods seems like an OK trade off to some folks.

And we have so many of these screens in our lives, I know my children will find it very hard to conceive of a time before; before these magic panels of information and entertainment... capable of enabling heretofore unprecedented levels of connectedness, or our isolation.

It made me wonder (constantly, as a former anthropology major like me wonders about, questions, ponders every presumably unquestionable cornerstone of my own culture) what someone from a completely pre- or post- modern civilization (or an alien visitor) would think if they wandered into an American living room and saw that object of frequent worship on the mantelpiece in all its glory.

I would love to explore from a fresh, clean slate perspective the role that TV has in our lives. But it's not easy to do, precisely because the first thing this glut, this overload of info does is to make a clean slate impossible.

It is very difficult to have my own thoughts and ideas on things when so many others are available in overwhelming, flooding proportion with the click of a key, the push of a button, the swipe of a finger.

And as I dive into all these other images/ideas? The first thing that comes to mind is this perspective...

My friend Todd Alcott, long before he was a hotshot LA screenwriter, when he was a not-quite-starving but always quite brilliant New York City playwright and performance artist / monologist, wrote a fabulous piece wherein he speaks in the voice of the Television, embodying the spirit of TV, as it were.

I have seen him perform this monologue, have a copy of it in a closet somewhere, in a cardboard box full of his early writings, solemnly handed to me to read once (for that is how writers seduce, with our words) in the five minutes, twenty plus years ago, when I was his girlfriend.

Someone recently created a video to go along with Todd reading his Television monologue.  And, because this is 2011 and anything created can now be found, uploaded, widely distributed... you can watch it here:

Television is a drug. by Todd Alcott.

Right now, I think I will let this stand, add nothing more; but this...

There is small part of my soul, luddite, that wonders what life would be like unplugged, and longs to experience that with my kids, for even a brief while, a vacation, perhaps.  Although they would enter that experiment howling and screaming, probably becoming completely unhinged.

But afterward?  The real world; unmediated, unfiltered, unveiled, unshrouded, un-predigested by the screens...  it beckons.

But, oh...? If I want to blog about it? I'll have to bring along at least one screen-like device. Oh, well.

This post has been inspired by and linked up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday writing meme. And isn't it nice that "T" is also the letter and name of my favorite drink, tea?

Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Not Really) Wordless Wednesday: Grandma Dunia

Yesterday I told an... interesting story... that took place in my Grandmother's house when I was six years old.

Since I haven't picked up my camera in over a week, and have no new pictures to share, I thought I would show you some old ones, and link it to yesterday's post. Make this a "theme week" as it were.

So here are some photos (and further tales) of my mother's mother, my Grandma Dunia. She was a tough cookie, a no-nonsense broad. Not the least bit sweet and cuddly; I have no idea what that kind of grandmother would be like.

Dunia and Joe, my Mother's parents, around 1920
Grandma Dunia, with her children and their spouses, around 1960.
Grandma, me and Dad, my house, 1967
My father had no great love for his mother-in-law. He said of her: "She has no appreciation of art, not a drop of poetry in her soul. If you can't eat it, make money from it or gain status by it, it's useless to her."

And he was not wrong. She was a survivor, the only member of her family to leave Eastern Europe before the holocaust. She was a shrewd businesswoman. And not a very nice mother. My mother has spent much of her adult life in psychotherapy. Not without cause.

Grandma shortly after her stroke, surrounded by her granddaughters.
Many years ago my mother tried to explain to her mother why she was in therapy. Unable to find the right words, she eventually blurted out: "Because I'm just not happy, Mom."  To which my grandmother replied (just like in the old joke): "Happy? Pffft. Who's happy?"

Grandma was decidedly old world, old school. In her world, people don't go into "therapy," they just go about their business. Unless they don't. Unless they break down.

Then they lie on the living room floor for two months in a semi-catatonic state while their twelve year-old, eldest daughter takes over running the business and the care of her younger siblings. And when they snap back out of this breakdown? They never thank their daughter for holding the family together. In fact, they never speak of it again, because weakness is shameful.

Three generations (Me, Mom, Grandma) 1974
Yes, my mother is the eldest. Her younger brother, my Uncle Walter, is a psychologist and her younger sister, my Aunt Marilyn, is certifiably crazy. Go figure.

Surrounded by granddaughters (Jess, Annette & Me), 1974
Grandma Dunia: businesswoman, candy-store proprietor, poker-player, chain-smoker, bootlegger, the go-to-woman if you were a gal "in trouble" before abortions became legal.

Yes, I may have some more stories to tell.

I’m linking up to Wordless Wednesday at Angry Julie Monday.

Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In my Grandmother's House

Memory is tricky.  There is the memory of childhood events and the telling of these events.

The older the memory and the more frequently retold, the less distinction exists between these two, the fuzzier the line between actual, visceral memory and mere story, until I can only guess what was my direct experience and what has been told to and by me and now feels remembered.

But tonight I shall attempt to trick the trickster, to carve back the lacquered layers of an oft-told tale to find the little girl hidden within…


It is dark.  And I hate the dark.  I find it very frightening, the quiet and the shadows.

I see things in the shadows, always.  The swirling shapes that menace, the snakes under my bed, the things I cannot name, that I know intend me harm.  Light vanquishes them all, and I long for light.

Yet here I am in the dark, forgotten in this forgotten room in my grandmother’s house.  In here, there is darkness, but not quiet, for the sounds from the living room, from the commotion without, still flood in.

When I was hustled into this room and bade to stay still and quiet, the door was pulled closed, but not completely, so there is a slim rectangle of yellowed light brightly rimming the doorway through which the world continues to exist.

As my eyes adjust to the darkness I see that the shape in front of me is an ancient cot, folded up like an inchworm humped in mid crawl.  I crouch down behind it, lean my face in, seeking comfort.  But its sprung wire cage presses harshly into my soft six year-old cheeks, so I retreat, sit on the wooden floor and warily wait.
The musty smell of things long unused overlays the cigarette smoke drifting in from the living room, which has itself mixed with the usual scent of the house, a heady blend of fried onion and old dog.  But then a new tang wafts in, tinged with something odd, metallic.

Watching occasional shadows flicker through the yellow rectangle, I listen for clues, cues as to what is going on and why I am here.

First there was a guttural male voice and high pitched female screaming, then police sirens wailing closer and closer, doors banging, more voices, male and female, talking, shouting, talking again.  And through it all, the soft sounds of a woman sobbing.

I almost drift off, but for the churning in my gut, the fear I have been forgotten, will remain here, always. 

Then, eventually, someone remembers - the child! - and comes to get me.

It has been a long time.

It is over.  This is the aftermath.

There is still a policeman, a doctor.  In the alcove, between the doorways of the unused bedrooms I see a young woman in a short dress with bandages covering her legs, arms, face.  She is talking to the police, shaking her head.

The doctor is putting on more bandages.  There are many of them.  They look pale against her warm brown skin, and some are starting to turn crimson as the blood leaks through.

I fall asleep on the sofa, and wake in my mother’s cradling arms, being carried out to our waiting car, their evening out cut short; my father, somber, at the wheel.

I never sleep over my Grandmother’s house again.


This is what I believe I have actually clearly remembered from that evening. The rest of the tale, cobbled together from memory bits and what was subsequently told to me over the years to become part of my memory, is in my repertoire of colorful childhood stories, and goes like this:

When I was six years old, my parents were going out and asked my grandmother, my mother’s mother, to watch me.  As it was Saturday night, the night of a regularly scheduled poker game, she didn’t want to, but reluctantly allowed my parents to drop me off to stay with her for the night. Naturally the game went on as scheduled and I was left to entertain myself, as I saw fit.

When you think of the term “Grandmotherly,” the soft, warm, nurturing indulgent presence that implies?  An image of my grandmother will not come to mind.  She was anything but.  She did not like children.  My mother’s childhood?  Not particularly happy.

On this particular evening the poker crowd was large, so card tables had been erected in the living room, with maybe a dozen players gathered round.  There was much smoking, probably a fair amount of drinking, though that really didn’t register to my six year-old self.

They were having a jolly time.  I was sitting in the pushed to the wall sofa, playing with my etch-a-sketch, oblivious, when the trouble started.

One of the card players was a young woman who had recently broken up with her man, and he had not taken it well.  His mind had turned to a decidedly “if I can’t have you then no one will” bent, and he walked through the front door that evening with a knife, intent on ruining her beauty.

I did not see this.  I heard a door bang open, a male shout, a female scream.  And then I was swiftly picked up and deposited in that dark, musty, unused bedroom turned storeroom.  As it was just off the living room, I heard everything, but made little sense of it, having no context.

They really did forget about me in there for the longest time.  When I came out there were police taking statements and a doctor bandaging up the girl.

I was told what had happened was this: The ex-boyfriend had come in with a switchblade held high.  The crowd had attempted to keep him from the woman, but he got to her and began slashing away.

Someone had procured a baseball bat at about the same time the police arrived.  So whether it was because he heard the sirens or wanted to avoid the bat, he bolted out the back door, vowing to return with a gun, finish the job.

My grandmother got a hold of my parents and told them to come get me, which they did rapidly and with great alarm.

We were told that this man did indeed come back later with a gun, but the police were laying in wait, and apprehended him at the door.

My grandmother continued to live in that house and play poker nightly with that same crowd until she was felled by a stroke some four years later, to live out her remaining years in a nursing home (where she stripped all the other old ladies of their nickels daily in gin rummy).

The stroke came upon her during a poker game, and the rumor was that she finished the round before she keeled over because she had held the winning hand.

Somehow, I believe this to be true. 

This post is linked up with the memoir prompt over at The Red Dress Club.  To see the prompt, click here.  To go to the link-up and read other posts, click on the button below: 

Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Bloggy Blues

Sunday, how did you come around so fast?  WTF?  A week, really?  OK, if you say so... (I must be getting old, this time speeding up thing is getting really out of hand.)

OK, I'm going to stop promising "no more whining" like I did here last week.  Because you know it's going to happen again.  Like today.  Sorry I feel like crap.  I can't WAIT to be off the antibiotics, they really do mess with my head.

I've been suffering bouts of blog envy lately, and I really don't like feeling that way. You know the "why does she have 1500 followers and get 100 comments on every post when I only have 170 and usually only get a handful of comments and she's been blogging for less time than I have" thing. Sigh. Resisting the urge to try to change my blog or my voice to become more "popular." time to shake my head clear and get over THAT.

And the funny thing is that while I've been running all over the internet reading other people's blogs and comparing myself to them? I haven't been doing what I love best, which is writing. My own stuff. DUH.

So I’m unhappy. That I’m not writing. So what do I do? Do I write? DUH, that would make sense, so no… Read more other peoples stuff. Go on Twitter and listen in on other peoples scintillating conversations and not join in but feel bad I’m not included. Check my sitemeter every 5 minutes and feel bad no one new came. Oh, someone came, but they stayed for less than a minute. Why do I do this to myself?

And thank goodness I got my period Friday night (sorry for the TMI, guy readers of which I have maybe 10) because that helped explain some of my blues.  I call the down day or 2 before the event my “seeing the world through shit-colored glasses” time.

And when I feel like this? Five minutes with the kids exhausts me. And don’t you know it’s school vacation week! And I would be looking forward to spending time with the kids, if we all could do the same fun things, if my kids actually enjoyed being with each other.

Actually that’s not the problem. Jacob loves being with Ethan, wants to play together all the time.  Ethan would prefer for his twin brother to be swallowed by a black hole never to reappear again. And I have a week of this to look forward to: Jacob pleading and pining and Ethan yelling and rejecting, unless I separate them, but there are two of them and only one me.

So I guess maybe this is also why I have been tiptoeing a little too much through the tulips of other people’s bloggy lives, and obsessing about truly meaningless trivial things like my blog stats lately: Escape baby, escape from the crap that is my life. Sigh.

Time to catch an hour of sleep before Sunday with the kids is upon me. I love them, I do, I just wish family time existed in any sort of easy way right now. And can I add?? Autism sucks!
That's all, folks! 

New to Stream of Consciousness Sundays?  Here's the skinny:
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spell-checking. This is writing in the raw.
You can do it, too!  Click on the link and let's hear your 5 (or so) minutes of brilliance...

.Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

S is for Sucktastic

S is for Sucktastic.

Yes, it's just giggles and rainbows all the time over here. I'm just a bundle of joy and light these days.

Hey, stick with me, it's not that bad...

I am NOT about to whinge* away right now.  (No promises for the future, though, sorry.)

This is actually a Mommy Confessional; a tale of habitual mom-fail.

It is *I* who am sucktastic, not my life. (Well, OK, my life IS sucktastic, but that's another tale for another day.)

Ready for it?

Most days, this is dinner for my eight year-old son, Ethan:

Yes, indeed, that's shaped chicken nuggets and peeled apple slices.  Do you see anything green on his plate?  No, I didn't think so.  If you give the man a vegetable he acts like you've tried to poison him.

If you give the man a cooked meal that involves multiple ingredients, sauces, spices; actual, you know, cooking involved in the preparation?  He acts like you've tried to poison him.

If you give the man anything to eat that does not fit the definition of "kid food" Ethan keeps in his head?  He acts like you've tried to poison him.

If you giver the man a piece of fruit that is not an apple, peach or apricot... if you give the man an apple that is not a Granny Smith... if you give the man a dessert that is not chocolate or lemon... if you give the man Chinese food that is not fried pot-sticker dumplings... if you give the man milk that is not chocolate... if you put any sort of topping on his pizza... well, you know.  Poison, ACK!!!!

OK, you're getting the point.  Ethan is incredibly rigid about food.

I feed him as well as I can within the constraints of his limits.  Grains are often whole.  Everything is mostly organic.  He eats the high quality, high-end version of junky kid food.  He takes daily vitamins to make up for the lack of anything green in his diet.

How has this come to pass?  It's complicated.  It evolved.  And it centers mostly on my survival.

And I know this is not abysmal failure.  He doesn't eat fruit loops with coca-cola for breakfast.

But I still feel bad, knowing that I have not done everything I could have done to help make him a better eater.

I was a child that had family meals every night, where we all sat down together, ate the same home-cooked food and engaged in lively conversation.

This is not what I pictured feeding my family would look like: the kids eating separately, and completely different meals from each other, often with the TV on so they actually eat and do not fight through the whole thing.

Yeah, I said completely different meals.  And it's not just the constraints of Jacob's special gluten-free / casein-free (GF/CF) diet that causes that.  It's this....

Evidence I am not a COMPLETE mom-feeding-failure.  This is dinner for Jacob, Ethan's twin brother:


Yes, indeed, that's real chicken, fresh fruit salad (pear and pineapple), GF/CF crackers, and, wait for it... broccoli.  Which he asked for by name.  As in: "I want broccoli for dinner tonight, Mom."

I know this not a real home-cooked meal.  This was assembly.  The chicken is rotisserie from the market.  Someone else made those crackers.  I did cut up the fruit and steam the broccoli myself, though (ooooo, cooooking).

But still, all basic food groups represented?  Eaten with enthusiasm?  It's a win.

"Wait," you think, "isn't Jacob your autistic son, the one on the autism spectrum, who are usually notoriously difficult eaters?"

Why yes, yes he is.  But no, no he isn't.  Because, as I've said before (and I'm sure I'll say again), if you've met one kid on the autism spectrum... you've met *one* kid on the autism spectrum.

And Jacob breaks a lot of the rules and assumptions people have about autistic kids.  His version is: he loves food, vegetables included.  He is willing to try anything once.  Interesting flavors?  Bring them on.  Not rigid at all.

Also, about sleep?  Kiddos on the spectrum are notoriously bad sleepers, many needing melatonin to help them shut down their brains.  But Jacob has always been the better sleeper of the twins.

Put him to bed and he's down in five minutes.  And his snuggly bedtime routine?  Takes about five minutes.  He needs (and mostly gets) a good 10 to 11 hours a night of sleep.  Goes to bed at 7:30 on school-nights.

Ethan on the other hand, as I have noted before (and if you follow me on Twitter you have heard many a 140 character grumble from me about), is just HELL to put to bed.  He's a classic night owl. He revs up at bedtime. Gets anxious. Wants to talk for hours.  Is scared of the dark.  Hates to go to sleep.

Sometimes he melts down completely and literally rolls around in his bed kicking and snarling like a cartoon Tasmanian Devil. Sigh. This is usually on a Sunday night, when the anticipation of the transition from weekend-time to school-time just unhinges him.

There are many, many ways in which my autistic son is actually the mellower, easier going, more laid back of my two boys.  Go figure.

So if I feed my high-strung, high-maintenance non-autistic son on (high-quality) kid food until his tastes expand and his palate matures?  Please don't judge me.

I know it's a mom-fail.  But sometimes these are necessary.

Sometimes we just have to let ourselves be sucktastic at one part of life, so we can carry on brilliantly with at least some of the rest.

This post has been inspired by and linked up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday writing meme. And isn't "S" just a curvaceous, sexy looking letter?  DOH! Wouldn't "S is for Sexy" have been a much more fun post? Next time, my friends.

* I know I am American and here we say "whine" but I like the Britishism "whinge" so much better. Must be the influence of my dear Australian friend. (Don't worry I'm not going whole hog, I won't be calling our garbage "rubbish" any time soon.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Not a Valentine's Day Post

Now that my blog has turned one year old and I've had my blogaversary, I thought I might be revisiting some significant days from last year, able to compare where I was then to where I am now.  See where the great wheel's full rotation has brought me.

What I conveniently forgot in those lovely grandiose thoughts was that this time last year was all about the process of my father's dying.  I did not write a Valentine's Day post last year.  Romantic thought was far, far from my mind, and even the love of and for my children was somehow faded, mashed into the background as the grinding up of my heart in the maw of my father's slow and utter disintegration, his ridiculously drawn out demise, took full possession of the foreground of my life.

And this year?  I am still just. not. there.  I have spent the last day traipsing around the inter-webs, reading my friends' beautiful heartfelt posts of love for their mates and children.  They have filled me up, warmed my soul like soup on a frigid day.  I have felt that I should write one of my own, but it just isn't in me today, all worn thin by life right now.

I love my kids and my husband boundlessly.  My sweet (and delightfully spicy) widowed mother, too.  The love for my wonderful, now nearly a year dead father still lurches around in my heart, where it will always find purchase.

But the space I would have to be in to write a sweet post?  Just will not come to me today.

And please don't think I am all doom and gloom.  I have been to the land of sweetness and light, many times between last year and this.  I wrote a love letter to my boys about their birth on their birthday last year.  I celebrated their delightful little selves in many a post.

It's just that I am coming up on the one year anniversary of the hardest times, and memories of the end game keep washing up to keep me ghostly company.  And I have, of late, been ill; sleepless and ill tempered, too.

So if you want to read a lovely Valentine's Day post?  Visit my friends.

Try this one: my sweet valentine

Or this lovely post: Everything Good Between Men and Women

Or go here: uncomplicated love

Or how about this: Better With

(And for a very funny, but decidedly NOT G-rated read? Go here: Hat-flinging)

And?  Hopefully?  Next year?  Here, too.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Anti-life

Sunday!  Again!  Time for the wonderful:

OK, sorry for this one, folks.  Please forgive just one more whiny rant. Then I am DONE!


"Antibiotics" means anti-life. and I don't take them often (less than once a year) and I hate talking them, but when they're necessary they make all the difference in the world.

How much do I hate how much I have been whining and whingeing on my blog lately, going on & on about how awful I feel? a LOT. I apologize. I don;t like being a whiney whiner. It is just the convergence of so much crap.

Just as I was FINALLy feeling about 90% recovered from my January's gall bladder surgery? I came down with a stupid head cold. It seemed like nothing much at first, annoying, but then instead of getting better it lingered, got worse, and I started feeling just generally awful, deeply fatigued.

I kept carrying on, and stupidly, of course, on a day I felt a little better I went out and got everything done that I had not been able to do on the down days preceding it, causing me to completely fall apart the next day. I have kids, one with autism, I have a mother who needs to go to doctors. Mom's not allowed to be sick, remember?

This past friday I FINALY hauled myself off to doctor who diagnosed me with a really nasty sinus infection PLUS bronchitis.  He was even saying things like "Wow, that's really inflamed in there!" Um, not what you really want to hear from a man with a scope up your nose. And can I say OW! that's the first time anyone ever did that to me. and? It fucking HURTS! Especially when you're infected and inflamed (Duh!)

Anyway, I'm on this really nasty heavy duty antibiotic (Levaquin if you must know). I HATE this antibiotic passionately. It is anti-life. And the crazy thing? I ASKED for it. I said to the doctor: let's pretend you gave me a Z-pack and I took it and then started feeling better but as soon as it was two days past my last dose I strted feeling worse again and came back to you and then you prescribed the evil but effective Levaquin.  Let's just skip that whole first part and cut to the chase, give me the bad shit.

(OK I didn't say "shit" to the Doctor, just thought it loudly) Because Levaquin, for me?  It completely knocks me on my ass with intense fatigue, constant low-grade nausea and  dizziness / wooziness. And did I mention how expensive it is? $13 dollars a PILL is my CO-PAY.  But also?  It fucking works. (It also, apparently, causes me to curse much more frequently in my blog than usual, sorry!)

SO this is my LAST whiny rant about feeling like shit.  Even if I keel over tomorrow, I won't blog about it - promise!


OK, I went a little over 5 minutes. So sue me. 

Also?  Did I mention that it's 6 AM and I have not really been to bed. Because besides knocking me on my ass?  This antibiotic also makes me wired and jittery.

So the 2 hours of sleep I got sitting up on the sofa is all I'm getting tonight.  So it's going to be FUN being me (or married to me) today.

Cheers, folks! 

New to Stream of Consciousness Sundays?  Here's the beef:
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spell-checking. This is writing in the raw.
You can do it, too!  Click on the link and let's hear your 5 (or so) minutes of brilliance...

Friday, February 11, 2011

R is for Really Wretched

R is for Rat's Ass, as in I don't...

R is for Really wretched, as in how I feel today.

I am sorry to say you will find nothing brilliant or inspired here today. It takes a certain energy to be thoughtful, either mental or physical; ideally both. And I clearly have neither today.

I am more: Just let me survive today.

I am trying to dredge up some cute story of my kids, something, anything, to justify this post's existence, but I am hard pressed to even come up with noun and verbs that fit together coherently in a sentence. You want adjectives? Adverbs? Metaphors and poetic language? Barking up the wrong tree today, kids.

And, true confession here: I, who am a generally good speller? Forgot that "Wretched" had a "W" at the beginning of it. Wrote this whole damn post about "Retched" and then went: Ack! (face-palm)

Obviously, my brain is not firing on all cylinders, rather just limping along.

This is now Day 10 of being sick. All week, this has been me:

Did I wake the kids up, feed them breakfast, dress them in weather appropriate clothing, make their lunches, pack their backpacks, include homework folders, sign all necessary permission slip, write all necessary teacher notes? Did I get Jake down to his bus on time, did I get Ethan to the yard on time to make it into the regular entry line?

GOOD. Now I can go climb back under the covers until it is 2:30 And time to go pick up Ethan, rush home to meet Jacob’s bus, make dinners, oversee homework, keep the boys from killing each other, get them fed, bathed, read to and tucked in, and start the whole thing over again.

I am waiting to have one extra ounce of energy, but until then: hunkered down in survival mode.

Having not gotten a call from one of their schools that I forgot to send lunch or sneakers for Gym day or to pick one of them up? I consider that a huge win.

Next week I promise more reflective thoughtful words will flow out of me. But for now? Back to my really wretched just-getting-by existence.

(And yes I am going to the doctor today after drop-off. 10 days is just too long to feel like this.)

This post has been inspired by and linked up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday writing meme.  I "R" tired of being sick.

P.S. I know it's supposed to be Alphabe-Thursday, and today is Friday, but yesterday was the 10th of the month, my Hopeful Parents Day, so I'm one day late (but not a dollar short).  Not the end of the world, right?

UPDATE: Went to the doctor, I do indeed have a nasty sinus and bronchial infection.  I am now on copious super-strong antibiotics, hope to feel better as soon as I am off them (because antibiotics like these knock me on my ass, too).  Thanks for all the concern and well wishes!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Beat Goes On over at Hopeful Parents Today

I am over at Hopeful Parents Today, talking about the wonderful, interactive, Music for Autism concert Jake and my Mom and I attended last Sunday.

My post this month: Music for Autism rocked our world

So go and read me there.

This is now my seventh post with Hopeful Parents, and I just want to say again how happy I am to ba a part of that wonderful community.

Even when I am in a deep funk, they make me feel connected, remind me to be hopeful.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Thank Goodness

Thank goodness for Wordless Wednesday today, as I am still deep in the muck of this nasty, nasty cold and couldn't pull a "real" post together if my life depended on it (and thank goodness it doesn't).

After dropping Ethan off at school and running a couple of errands this morning I got home and lay down in bed "for a few minutes." I woke up just in time to go downstairs to meet Jacob's school bus. At 4 pm. Really.

Every time I went out, I felt as if the wind and cold were attacking me, personally. And taking the weather personally? Something I do not normally ever do. So I am clearly not in my right head, thinking fuzzy.

So I think I am all done with these word things for today, better stick to photos. May I present my week in pictures:

Remember what I'd said about my car looking more like a snowbank
Before: Yes, there IS a car in there!
Well, this week all the snow emergencies were over and they finally brought back alternate side parking regulations, so it had to move! Luckily some time had passed since it looked like THAT and I was able to get it moved, see:
After: Free at last!
The wonderful Jen from The King and Eye and Irish Autism Action was over from Ireland, visiting New York City with her Mum. In spite of feeling like crud, I went out to dinner with them and it was delightful. (There's nothing like meeting an good cyber-friend for the first time!)
Jen & I at a magic little spot on the Upper West Side: Cafe Lalo
Jake had Basketball, as usual, on Saturday. The big kid buddies are awesome. (And some of them are REALLY tall.)
Jake (Mr. Yellow) is a good shot!
On Sunday, I took Jake and my Mom to a Music for Autism interactive concert. I am not going to go on and on about them here (there's a whole post in that, coming soon) but it was AWESOME and we all had a great time, including hanging out with my Twitter friend SherriPizza & her son.
Jake LOVES music!
Music for Autism concerts are noisy and busy!
Ethan had a parents-welcome demonstration in his after-school fencing class:
One for all and all for one!
 I took my Mom to the doctor for a routine check-up. All is well!
Not bad for 88, right?
Monday night? I should have been in bed with the covers pulled up over my head. Instead I ventured out into the rainy night to hang out with about 25 other NYC bloggers.  Since I had tweeted this event into existence, I really had to show up, ya know?  We were mostly, but not all Moms; mostly, but not all women; mostly, but not all NYC (some had braved NJ Transit and MetroNorth trains to get there). We had a blast:
Hanging with the bloggers at the Brickyard!
Bloggers really like to talk! (Who knew?)
(Next one is in April. Tweet me if you want the info.)

And... it's a wrap!

I’m linking up to Wordless Wednesday at Angry Julie Monday.
I'm also linked to Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Full Year of Bologna

One year ago today, on February 6th, 2010:

My father was still alive, but very busy dying.  And I was very busy caring for him and for my very sad, overwhelmed mother.

My son Jacob was still in a school that was not wonderful enough for him, where they did not truly see him, did not love or challenge him.  And so I was very busy trying to find a new Special Ed school for him for the coming academic year.

I sat down at my computer and wrote my first blog post, began this blog: The Squashed Bologna

And so on this, the occasion of my one year anniversary of starting this blog (or "Blogaversary" if you will), I thought I would reflect a bit and take you back to the beginning.

Someone asked me recently why I blog.  They didn't quite get it.  I suppose it seems odd to those who don't.  Like wearing your underwear on the outside for all the world to see.

For me the answer started out simply, and grew more complex as my blog writing and my relationship with the blogging world grew, expanded, and became more complicated, too.

The basic answer: I began blogging as my father was actively, painfully dying a long, drawn out, difficult death.  I just could. not. tell. one. more. person. what. was. happening. and. how. I was. doing.

A friend of mine was keeping a blog about children's books and what her kids were reading, and I loved reading her blog.  She told me how easy it was to just go on Blogger and start writing and encouraged me to do it.  And so I did.  (Thanks, Jill!)

I needed to be able to say to people: "You want to know what's going on with me and my Dad?  Read the (damn) blog."  I could pour it all out there and not have to tear myself up repeating everything over and over again to everyone.

I had thought up the title "The Squashed Bologna" some time ago, as I was feeling so caught up in sandwich generation stuff.  The few years leading up to my father's death were full of emergency room visits and hospitalizations; health crises and rehabilitations.  Many were the times I would disappear from my family for days on end to be by my father's or mother's side in hospitals.

I had also been writing about and thinking about autism for a long time (because of my son, Jacob), but privately, in my journal, just for me.  I had done a lot of research, learned a lot about neurobiology and brain biochemistry. Was turning into an autism auto-didact.

People had been encouraging me to write a book, but that seemed like such a big deal, and I couldn't picture taking on such a huge enterprise at that time.  Plus my ADDish brain balks at large projects, gets overwhelmed by the amount of details that need to be taken care of.  I freeze up, unable to begin, daunted.

A blog post however?  A trifling thing, short, sweet (at least in theory, I know my posts often go into overtime), un-daunting, attempt-able, do-able.  So I did.

As I began to write and post I realized that I wanted to use my blog to speak about autism and ADD and to tell sweet stories about my children, too.  I wanted to show what family life looked like to us; so, so different from what I had imagined while I was peacefully gestating.  (Well, maybe not so peacefully considering how nauseated and generally uncomfortable I was throughout my pregnancy.)

The good and bad about blogging, being self-published, is that there is immediate gratification there, a big plus for ADD-brained folks like me.  You write it, you hit the button, poof out it goes into the world, for better or worse.

Also?  I have spent pretty much all of my adult life as a blocked writer.  Everyone who has known me well has encouraged to write.  I have many pages of half written stories, plays and essays in files dating back to 1978.  Yeah.

Any time I came close to taking myself seriously about it, any time a writing teacher encouraged me, told me I was truly "a writer" and to stick with it?  It completely terrified me, freaked me out, caused me to drop my "pen" and not write another word for months, sometimes longer.

When James Baldwin (with whom I took an intimate writing seminar in college) praised my work?  Ack!  My writing mojo went cold for years afterward.

But there is something to be said for getting older, becoming a parent, learning to get over yourself, get on with it, learning to be someone who gets it done because it has to be done.  Old inhibitions, fears, neuroses, fall by the wayside.  (Well, some of them, anyway.)

I no longer care about meeting the definition of "a writer."  Simply, I write.  I call myself a writer.  Like me or not, read me or not.  Whatever.

And so I am writing, freeing up something inside me long dormant, long coiled up; my voice coming loose, unfurled.  Finding the storyteller within.  Letting my love of words, of language out into the world, through my blog.

And the other part of this?  Is the amazing community that I have found here in this cyber-world, the "blogosphere".  A world of writers, of (mostly) women, amazing and strong, unbelievably supportive (at least the ones I have chosen to connect with are).

And then there is the online special needs parenting community, which I could go on and on about.  I have, elsewhere, but I will just say this: they help to keep me sane. 
Obviously, I also have a personality that tends towards revealing rather than concealing, an over-sharing bent, or else I would be wearing my underwear on the inside, hidden away from view, like the rest of the non-blogging population.

And so here, among my blogging brethren, my over-sharing peers?  I feel mighty normal.  So now, instead of overwhelming my "real life" friends (whom I know love me very much) when I'm feeling intense or all soapbox-ranty, I can splay that all out here, and then tell people:

"You want to know about that?  OK, I can tell you, and possibly have your eyeballs roll around in their sockets by the time I'm through.  Or?  Read the damn blog."  (And this way you can skip the boring parts and I'll never know.)

Also?  I would like to take this moment to thank you, my readers: the ones I know from my real life, the ones I know from the blogosphere, and the ones I will never know, you who silently read and glide on.

That my words may have meaning for you; make you laugh, cry, think, see something in your own life in a new light?  Pleases me beyond knowing.

And finally?  May I say:  What a year this has been!  (I'm not going to re-cap it again, I've done that recently in my New Year's year-end wrap-up post.)

I'm just going to say:  Whew!  Glad that's over.  Let's move on.  (And please, nobody else die, OK?)

Where this next year, this next turn of the big wheel will take me?  I have not a clue.

I am working hard right now to be present each day; to fully be awake and aware of the individual moments, here with my family, paying attention.

And not JUST so that I can blog about it tomorrow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mom is not allowed to be sick

Sorry, to be whining again.  It's just a cold, a basic stupid rotten head cold.  I feel like crap, but can scrape myself off the floor to function when I have to; the children are fed and looked after.

But I've got laryngitis, barely any voice, and what there is is so raspy that no one can hear me on cell phones.  How much I call out to the boys from one room to another?  I have no idea until I can no longer do it.

I need to traipse into the living/dining room from the kitchen to communicate anything and everything, including such bits of wisdom as: "take your feet off your brother" during dinner.  (Because, being in NYC, we cannot actually eat in our narrow cooking-only kitchen, and so the 10,000 times I need to get up during dinner to get something or other?  Means walking a long room away and back.)

And now, Ethan?  Came into the living room this afternoon telling me he felt oh, so cold when the room was rather warm.  Hand to forehead brought suspicions, thermometer checked, and yes indeed: 101.6. Damn.

And wouldn't you know it?  This afternoon was to have brought to fruition a plan months in the making: a play-date with a classmate, long discussed, finally scheduled.  Oh, well.

And I'm actually hoping Ethan has my head cold, and not the horrible stomach virus that is going around these parts.

Evidence is pointing towards the positive: Motrin taken, he's dropped down into the 90's and not shot back up yet; he still has somewhat of an appetite, downing a mere five instead of his usual ten chicken nuggets for dinner.

Jacob may or may not succumb.  The ridiculous amount of vitamins and supplements he takes appears to have been successful in giving him an iron clad immune system.  Nine-tenths of the time, when the rest of us are wheezing and sneezing?  Jacob sails through with nary a sniffle.

Which is all for the best, as Jacob ill is not a pleasant sight to behold.  He is the picture of misery, not understanding why he feels the way he feels, and cranky and much frustrated to boot.

But healthy when we are ill?  Jacob is annoyingly cheerful; chatting away, asking to have his turn with the thermometer, asking for medicine when Ethan gets his, clearly not wanting to be left out of anything.

OK, the children have been fed dinner, and are now happily being mesmerized by evil but oh, so addictive Japanimation on the television.  I am going to climb under the covers for an hour or until the fighting starts, whichever comes sooner.

Tomorrow it will be one year since I started this blog, my "blogaversary" as it were, and I hope to have a more philosophical post up then.  Until then?  To quote my friend Stimey: urgle, burgle, blech...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Q is for Quietude

Q is for Quietude

Something we know precious little about around here.

I live in the house of noise.

And this is not my natural state.  Certainly not how I was raised.

I was an only child.  A bookish only child.

I was raised in a house filled with reading, and classical music.

Bird watching, gardening, art and photography.  (A little TV, not too much, mostly PBS.)

I was a "good" girl.  No one yelled.

But it wasn't stuffy, deadened.  There was ebullient love.

Dinnertime was lively.  There was always much laughter and conversation.

But also?  Often peace, tranquility, quietude.

We could be separate and quiet and yet feel all together, the three of us in that house; my mother, my father and I.  (Well, up until the teen years, of course, which are never less than turbulent, but were not excessively so, for us.)

Pleasant memories abound: the three of us splayed about the living room sofas on a Sunday morning, pancake breakfast being digested, cats in laps, trading off sections of the Sunday papers, reading to ourselves but sharing especially wonderful bits with the others, working the Times crossword puzzle a group effort.  

But this is not how I live now.

I have a son on the autism spectrum who talks a lot, often repetitively, nearly all the time.  He also sings, screechily, and repeats noises he hears, because they delight him.

I have another son who would have a 24 hour a day conversation, if he could.

I have boys who love all things electronic and noisy; whose TV shows and computer sites and video games explode, clang, or play loud pulsing music all the time, often clashing rhythms assaulting me from two different directions, no escape except into the bathroom, and really, how long can I spend in there?

And I know that some folks with a non-verbal child would give their right arm to have one who talks all the time, like I have. (So I feel guilty for complaining.)

And I know that when the boys were 18 months old and not talking, when I wondered if I would ever hear their sweet voices, I longed for days like this, filled with their chatter.  And that when people told me this time would pass and I'd one day be wishing they'd just shut up, I looked at them like they had two heads, could not possibly picture that day.  (They may now say: "I told you so.")

And I am not hermit like, I like a full, lively house.  I regularly invite multiple kids over for group play-dates.  I wish we had a bigger apartment so we could cram in even more.

I often go out for after drop-off coffee with herds of mom friends.  We laugh so hard and carry on to the point of occasionally being shushed by old ladies wishing to caffeinate in peace.

I am a very social person.

And?  Truth?  A major league talker, myself.

But also, I do wish for occasional peace.  For Sunday mornings of quietly shared reading.  Of taking a nature hike with my family and actually serenely observing nature whilst on it.

This is not my life now, and it may never be.

I have boisterous, noisy boys.  I may have Jacob on my hands for years after other children would have left home.  (I hope not, wish for his independence, but cannot discount the possibility.)

I take my moments of quietude when I can catch them, fleeting, but still savored.

And try to remember why the sound of my boys never-quiet voices should ring sweetly in my ears.

This post has been inspired by and linked up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday writing meme. And isn't "Q" a great quirky letter with its curly-q tail?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Dreaming of Summer

Yes, it's another nasty, dreary, grayer-than-gray winter day here in New York City.  An ice and sleet storm this morning made bringing Ethan to school treacherous, although he genuinely enjoyed the slip-and-slide aspect to it all.

Jacob's school had tossed in the flag the previous evening, declaring their third Snow Day of the season (although technically more of an "Ice Day" I suppose) and all my plans for today just went to hell in a hand-basket. 

Jacob has been watching way too much mindless TV and I (and most of the snowed-in North-East it seems) have been spending way to much time mindlessly tweeting on Twitter.

Looking through my photos, thinking about what to grab for this week's "Wordless Wednesday" I just couldn't stand to post a recent wintry picture.  I am reading my West Coast, Southern and Australian friends warm weather posts, turning all shades of green with envy.

So I set the wayback machine and pulled a few summery shots from my iPhoto archive, because if I have to look at another picture of snow, I will weep (and I actually LIKE snow!).

Moments from Summer, 2010: 
I loved the soft grass under my feet
Jacob loved to pretend to drive
Ethan proudly rode a horse
 And now for one from the way, wayback machine:
Summer 2005, Squashed family at my parents residence in Riverdale

I’m linking up to Wordless Wednesday at Angry Julie Monday.
I'm also linked to Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nice try, kid!

We have a great new babysitter, Amy, that has come into our life recently, as I needed some extra help in my post-surgical recovery period.  We all like her a lot, and she has now become one of our regular sometime sitters.

Amy is a graduate student: smart, cute, petite, 22, cute. 

Have I mentioned she is really cute?

As she only sits from time to time, and was mostly working afternoons to help out with Jacob when I was just out of my surgery and could not care for him at all physically, she had never put Ethan to bed.

Well, there's a first time for everything.

The other night my husband and I actually went out in the evening, a rather rare occurrence.  We braved the latest snowstorm to hear the wonderful Peggy Orenstein read from her marvelous new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, at our local bookstore.

(Full disclosure: Peggy is a facebook & twitter friend of mine, and has a "professional relationship" with my husband, having interviewed and quoted him in an article of hers on female superheros.)

Since we were actually already out of the house, alone & together, my husband and I decided to make a "real date" of it and have dinner out at a local diner before heading home.

This meant that Amy got to put Ethan to bed, and on this particular night he really needed a shower.

When we got home, we got this report from her:

Ethan in the bathroom, naked, about to get into the shower: “Amy, you have to take your clothes off, too.”

Amy: distractedly “Um, what?”

Ethan: “Amy, you have to take your clothes off.”

Amy: “WHAT? No.”

Ethan: “Yes, it’s the house rule. When I take a bath or shower and take my clothes off? You have to take your clothes off, too.”

Amy “Uh, no, I really don’t think so, kid… Why do you think I have to take off my clothes?”

Ethan: ”Well… I’ve never seen a naked woman before.”

(Have I mentioned she is really cute?)

Amy: “And you’re not going to see one tonight.  Now, get in the shower.”

Nice try, kid!

(And thank goodness Amy has a really good sense of humor.)

(And yes, Ethan and I had ourselves a little chat about concepts like "appropriate" and "respectful."  And yes I worked very hard to suppress my smirk during said conversation.)

Mama's Losin' It
This post was based on the prompt “Describe the last thing that made you laugh really hard.” from Mama Kat’s writers workshop.

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