Saturday, March 31, 2012

Art and Autism

I think about the connection between art and autism a lot. About how outside the box, committed to their singular vision both the artist and the autist, each in their own way, are.

I've been doing this for a while (see my best known post "From Autist to Artist") but it's been circling round my brain a lot these days, as Jacob's artwork has really taken off lately. Into the stratosphere.

If you've been following my facebook or Twitter streams you may have seen some of these:

"Bruce Wayne"
"Goku" (From Dragonball Z-Kai)
"Commissioner Gordon"
"Goku" (Again)
Drawing makes Jacob so happy. Time to draw is his big reward at school, and it's a great carrot.  You don't want to know how fast we go through a ream of paper these days. And I'm not complaining in the least.

What I am most struck with is the emotion in the faces he draws, even more then the details of certain parts like the ears (the ears!), or the way his noses look like noses; the way he captures a mouth with one line - and it so completely is a mouth.

This flies in the face of so much common "wisdom" about autistic people paying no attention to faces, or not being able to read facial expressions for emotion.

When I mentioned this along with a photo of Jake's art I posted on Facebook, a cyber-friend, who is herself on the spectrum, responded with this really interesting reflection:

What this has to do with his autism, if it's mere coincidence or if the way he perceives the world through its filters open up the artist space in him, all this is unknown and probably unknowable. And ultimately besides the point.

I don't have any answers here. This is just me ruminating out loud, in public (blogs are so lovely for that). And also, truth be told, showing off, sharing some of my son's wonderfulness with the world.

Because Jake deserves to be celebrated.

I do know this: Jake's drawings are alive, in the way that mere renderings are not. They are art, and he IS an artist. 

Jake is who he is.

A package deal.

An artist and an autist.

But mostly, he's just Jake.

My son.


I haven't been writing that much about autism here lately, as much as it suffuses our lives, and bits of it weave through almost every thing I do. The other bits of life have been more dominant.

But that's about to change. Tomorrow is April 1st, the beginning of Autism Awareness month, and Monday, April 2nd is International Autism Awareness Day.  And just in time for all of this, the CDC has released new figures for Autism rates that are making big news.

I'm sure you know the new numbers, but if you've been sitting in a cave and haven't heard:

1 in 88.

(And for boys it's 1 in 54.)

And these are figures for 2008.

Four years ago.

(A limited 2011 study? 1 in 38. No I'm not kidding.)

So I'm going to be talking about Autism a lot this month, and you should too.  Because it's not going away, and even if you don't have an autistic kid (or nephew or cousin) you are and will be affected by this.

And the autistic kids of today are going to be the autistic adults of tomorrow, contributing to and (re-)shaping our world. And figuring out how best to support them, how to establish a future world that nurtures and meets the needs of us all, really needs to be on all of our minds.

It sure is constantly on mine.

To be continued people... to be continued...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Spring has Sprung!

New York City abloom
Oh poor neglected blog child, once again I am ignoring you for the one who screams the loudest. Listen to Your Mother is eating your lunch in blogging energy. We have near daily "Meet the Cast" posts going up, sponsors are coming in fast and furious and they need logos to be set and up and linked and... and...

But it is Wednesday today, glorious in its Wordlessness. So I can toss a few recent photos up onto a page and call it a post. Hooray!

Actually, we have a bit of catching up to do, folks. So here's the past few weeks in pictures Instagram (my latest addiction)...

First? A few weeks ago Jake asked for and got his spring haircut:
Before: Gloriously shaggy
Just look at those about-to-go curls
After: Handsome and proud
Ethan, on the other hand? No haircut yet.

Here he is the morning of his class's mock trial for their colonial history unit (love his creative teacher). He's the lawyer defending the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre, and really wanted to dress the part. Hence the suit and red power tie.

Ethan is bemused by the incongruity of fancy suit and basketball

Speaking of Basketball, the season has sadly come to a close. Here are the boys proudly holding their trophies at their respective celebrations:

And finally? Spring has come early to New York City this year.  It seems like every branch and stem in the city has just violently burst forth into bloom. And I captured a few with my phone camera, because like my mother, I love flowers.

Enjoy the spring my friends! (The past few days' cold snap notwithstanding.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

SOC Sunday: Not my Father's 95th Birthday post

I. just. cannot. wait. for. March. to. be. over.


Today is March 25th. But this is NOT a birthday post for my Father, now dead these two years. And twelve days.

He would have been 95.

I wrote a beautiful post for him last year. You can go read it, here - Not his 94th Birthday. I told a funny story about how he got his name, James, which was NOT the name he was born with.

In fact looking back in my archives to find that one, I was surprised to see how many favorite posts I wrote last March. I remember it as being a bleak month and feeling the weight of the first anniversary of his death (and my recent operation) bearing down oh so heavily upon me.

But I suppose last year, of that pressure some diamonds were born.

Not quite so much tihs year. I am hardly writing, here. The lumps of coal are not transforming.

The NYC Listen to Your Mother show, which I am producing, has pretty much taken over my life. Which is a good thing, a marvelous counter to all my self-absorption. And it's a wonderful show, a fabulous enterprise with amazing partners (Amy, Holly, Betsy, Ann, Deb, our NYC cast, and the entire gang of production teams around the country - I LOVE you!)

But it is also requiring a lot of workaday writing. And I am not a fast writer. So it's nearly all going there, very little coming back here. Lots of pragmatics. Very little creating going on. Sigh.

I am also hardly being a good enough mother, a good enough daughter. I spent the day locked in yet another homework meltdown with Ethan. We didn't go see my mother, who hopefully did NOT remember what day it was. (She didn;t bring it up when we spoke on the phone and so neither did I, figuring why remind her when all it would bring would be sorrow.)

And I know a big chunk of my blue today is the date. Weighing upon me. A date I loved for 49 years: my beloved Father's birthday.

Once a day to celebrate. Now a date for grieving. For missing. For looking backwards.

And I know I was lucky to have had him for so long. I have so many fatherless friends who lost theirs way too young, too soon, who never got to see them grow up or marry or have kids of their own.

And I know that as far as fathers go he was pretty damn wonderful, and I was lucky there, too. He was certainly not perfect, I could easily list his flaws as a man and father. But he was always gentle, and I always, ALWAYS knew I was loved, valued, cherished... and that goes a long way.

But today I am not feeling lucky. Just sad.

I want my Dad back. (And while I really want the one from my childhood who would vanquish all monsters, today I'll even take the frail one I was basically parenting, from his final, fading years.)

Just one more hug. (Not possible. Memory will have to suffice.)

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

New to SOCS?  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. This is writing in the raw.
You can do it, too!  Click on the picture link and let's hear your 5 minutes of brilliance...

Friday, March 23, 2012


There's something new and different here today: I'm doing a review post, really my first. And, shockingly, it's NOT for The Hunger Games, which it seems everyone else is writing about today. It's about theater. I am never one to go along with the gang.

Last Thursday my friend Holly, along with her MamaDrama partner, Erin, brought some magic into my life in the form of an invitation to The Public Theater to see their latest offering, playing in their cabaret, Joe's Pub - the one man (plus band of 3) show: NO PLACE TO GO.

To call it brilliant and entertaining would be just to repeat the wonderful reviews it's been garnering in the press, including both a feature article and glowing review in the New York Times. Ethan Lipton, the playwright-singer-actor whose creation this show is (along with his collaborator, director Leigh Silverman) roundly deserves every accolade that is currently being heaped upon him.

If you live on a desert island, or anyplace other than NYC (= basically the same thing, right?) and haven't heard anything about this play, it's a semi-autobiographical work.

Based on Ethan Lipton's own experience, the show is about facing unemployment when the company he has worked at for ten years (on a part-time, perma-lancer basis) is relocating. We get to be inside Ethan's head as he revisits his history and feelings about this company and work in general, and as he contemplates his options and choices, and those of his co-workers, as the relocation proceeds.

And because Ethan is a musician, as well as a writer and actor, the story is told in a mix of prose and song. So while it's a play with music, it's not a musical in the traditional sense of the word.

For me the show struck home in so many ways, most especially as a blogger, because this play has so much in common with the best of blog writing: confessional, seeming raw truth, but in reality so carefully shaped, refined; and written by someone clearly in love with language.

It does what good blogs do: takes reality and makes it more real; in this case, making the truth even truthier by adding a bit of fiction - because in this story, the company is relocating not just to another part of the country, but to Mars.

This absurdist twist somehow makes Ethan's story more compelling. While keeping all the details, the ironies and petty indignities of his situation no less specific, real and relatable, it simultaneously elevates it to a plane of universality.

Thus it is no longer the story of his one man's job loss, but rather a tale invoking the tectonic shift of displacement we are all experiencing as the economic freefall in our current time requires us all to reconsider our lives and careers, to contemplate moves we might not have otherwise, ones that seem like, well, moving to Mars.

I would love to give you many more specific details from this show, share some of the many gems found therein, but I really can't.

I knew I was writing a review, knew I was supposed to be furiously scribbling notes during the show in order to jog my memory and write this review. But I just couldn't. I was transfixed, in the moment. I didn't want to take my eyes off his face, didn't want to remove myself from the experience, to take that step back you need to, to write notes for a measured review. I just wanted to go along with him on the ride. To be transported.

So I jotted down just three measly phrases - 8 words, of the many astonishingly fresh, biting, funny, brilliant things Ethan said:
Gooey malaise - a turn of phrase he used to describe reactive depression, that struck me as perfect.
Shitstorm coming - the refrain from a darkly funny song.
Words first, then meaning - what could easily be the mantra of all those of us who are in love with language.

These will have to do.

An old theater professor of mine, Richard Trousdell, one whose wisdom well I find myself going back to again and again, used to talk about how we go to the theater to recognize ourselves, to see ourselves in others' stories and be transformed by the experience somehow. Or at least that's what happens when theater works, when it gets it right and the magic happens. (This aspect of theater that is sometimes called catharsis, but to him was even more than that, deeper.)

And this play? Yes. It gets it right. Very, very right. This is what storytelling does, when it does it best.

And while this is possible, can and does occur in the best of movies, it is fundamentally different in theater because there is the added factor of actual presence, of live human beings in front of you, not distanced by the intermediary of cameras, screens, editing; not displaced in time and space. Someone may record this, turn this into a film, and it may well be brilliant. But it will never be the same as being in that room with Ethan Lipton, the man, feeling his emotions as they pour off of him, in the presence of his presence.

And Ethan's presence is powerful, is tremendous, precisely because he is merely life-size, not larger than life. He is an appealing everyman while remaining very, very specifically himself.

And what he is, mostly, is a wonderful storyteller.

So if you live in or near New York City, run, don't walk to see this show. Magic like this doesn't come along very often, and it's only up for a limited run.

And, for my readers, a little discount to the show:

Use code NOPLACE for $25 tickets!
By Phone: 212-967-7555   ONLINE: click here
 IN PERSON: The Public Theater Box Office, 425 Lafayette St.

And if you can't come see it, here's a little glimpse at one song from the show, 3-Tier Plan, not live but a lovely little animation, nonetheless:

Thank you, Holly and Erin of MamaDrama for this wonderful opportunity.
Disclosure: I was provided complimentary tickets by MamaDrama, but all opinions are my own.

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Monday, March 19, 2012


Venus & Jupiter in the sky - so NOT in New York City

Tonight Ethan and I ran a little excursion after dinner. Just the two of us. When we walked out the door it was not quite seven o'clock. These days that means a sky full of light.

Added to the ridiculously unseasonable warmth, us stepping out of a March eve in mere t-shirts, and I was hard pressed to remember it wasn't a languorous summer evening, but yet a school night, and thus we had to execute our errand quickly and hurry home.

Besides, I had promised the upstairs neighbors with whom I had parked Jake that we'd be back within the hour, and I sorely did not want to abuse my favor currency with them, would surely be needing to spend it again soon.

Jake himself was delirious to be upstairs with his "best friends" -- the four year-old sister of a pair of brothers who are Ethan's good school friends, and their white terrier, Mac, with whom Jake is nearly as obsessed as he is with our cat.

Ethan and I were on a mission, because I had failed in my mom-duties today: I was to have picked up a particular book for Ethan, another in the once-seeming-endless Warriors series that we are now close to outflanking.

The latest installment comes out in April, and the one before that will appear in paperback the same day, when we will finally snatch it up. I adamantly refuse to purchase these throwaway books in hardcover, so Ethan is going to have to get over his aversion to the library if he wants to read that last one anytime soon.

We absolutely HAD to go to the bookstore because he had finished the last Warriors book in our possession the day before, and thus we were now in the dreaded state of NOTHING TO READ.

I will not mention again the hundred wonderful books, sitting uncracked in our apartment; forlorn, unbeloved, rejected out of hand. Ethan is a picky reader. But for that he is now these past two years an avid reader, I am eternally grateful. I will forgive the undeserved scorn he heaps upon those poor maligned tomes, for the joy suffusing his being as he greedily devours the chosen volumes.

Ethan is in high, silly spirits as we walk the busy Broadway blocks to our local Barnes & Noble, and I am grumpy, nursing a throbbing elbow that may be a cracked bone or terribly distressed tendon. No way to tell until I visit the doctor, which I have such a deep aversion to doing.

I don't mind doctors and their offices, really I don't, feeling quite at home there from the countless hours spent looking after my elderly parents' health. And I kind of like peering inside my body, the few times I have myself merited scans or x-rays, mysteries revealed in dramatic, if ghostly, black and white.

But it's the time I dread; the time, the time, the time I do not have.

And so Ethan skips and darts around me walking down the street, as much crazed mosquito as boy, as I protectively cradle my elbow and brood.

"Look at all the people out in the evening!" Ethan proclaims with wonderment, and I dive again into pointless regret that we are not living anything like the life I had imagined, filled with evening family strolls and nighttime explorations of the city.

Jacob does not like to leave home all that much, and to be out with Jacob and Ethan together is most often a form of torture. I must steel myself for it. I must have some wealth of resilience in my bones, some stored reserve of calm and good mothering at the ready. There are days when I can and days when I can't and today was decidedly in the inconceivable column, my tanks in the red zone, surely running on fumes.


Mission accomplished, book in hand, Ethan and I pushed through the store's glass doors into a city become near night, the sky's blue glow nearly extinguished, the streets bathed in yellow-orange incandescence. 

Turning west to walk the two short blocks to Riverside and home, the brightest of stars appeared in the overhead sky. Not stars, planets: Venus and Jupiter blazing, blindingly bright in the deep cerulean sky that slices between the highrises, thankfully not obliterated. These two gods are in a much celebrated love fest this March, a conjunction the likes of which will not manifest again until next May.

And yet, while they appear to be quite close, kissing distance on the Ides, they are in fact not truly crossing at all. It's just an artifact of our perspective, the way they look from here on our own dear mudball.

They are in fact deeply distant from each other, Venus lying sunward from us, drawing us in toward the heart of our solar system, while Jupiter circles round us from the outside. To gaze upon Jupiter is to reach out toward the distant galaxies and the universe's noisy edges at the jagged beginning of time.

I do not like that my children are distant planets, each locked into their own distinct orbits, occasionally approaching but never truly crossing paths, both merely circling 'round me, their sun.

How I wish instead they were more like a double star system, like so many of the other twins we know: circling each other, at times closer, at times more distant but always in orbit, one about the other; connected, entwined, hurtling through space as one.

But I must, as ever, resist the siren pull of the "what ifs," of the dark matter that draws me to its crushing embrace.

I must instead stay here, in the now, in the track of my actual sons.

The one who lives on planet Autism.

And the one who does not.

Just Write

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Tales from the LTYM Rehearsal

On Sunday, March 11th, waaaaay too early in the morning (especially considering Daylight Savings Time had JUST sprung us forward an hour!) we gathered the tribe and held our first rehearsal in a small theater on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

LTYM Rehearsal Eve reading

While Amy, Holly and I had met and spoken with each member of the cast, for everyone else it was their first time laying eyeballs on each other, a first date, as it were. And in spite of it being rather much of a blind date for most, it couldn’t possibly have gone better.

Except for the part about standing in front of the building, waiting in the cold for the theater owner to realize it WAS Daylight Savings Time and he had to be there to let us in an hour earlier than he’d THOUGHT he had to.

However, it seems that shivering together helped to create an instant connection (the bonding powers of shared adversity?) as when we repaired to a local coffee joint to wait in relative comfort, a cohesive unit was already forming.

After taking care of introductions and practical business at the coffee shop, we were able to enter the theater and begin to read our works aloud. And then, there was magic.

Even though we were our own audience, reading just to each other, the power of our words shone through.

We were all different, our stories were all unique, our own. And yet in the telling and the listening I could see, could feel the glistening thread bonding and binding each to the other. The quilt of our show was being stitched together, each story a square of specific beauty, creating a wondrous whole that is much more than the sum of the parts.

I’m not going to tell you what our stories were. That’s the wonderful surprise, folks. You’ll hear them on May 6th, if you can come in person, or soon thereafter on the ‘net.

But I can share this: we laughed, we cried, we were moved in all the ways storytellers can move us. And when it was over we left so impressed by the company we were keeping, by the power of our words, and the brave people who are willing to share them.

I was beyond proud to be a member of this troupe, and I know for certain that everyone else in that room felt the same way.


And if you want to hear specifically how others felt about the first rehearsal?
Read our director Amy’s blog post: how do you stop the whole world?
Read Kir’s blog post: Just Be Enough: The Circle

(And yes, this is the SAME post here and on the LTYM-NYC site. Call it being efficient, not lazy, please.)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Men in Trees

It's a Man. In a Tree.
I know it's been a wee bit heavy around here lately -- what with March being the anniversary month of so much utter crap for me, most of all of my father's death two years ago, yesterday.

So I thought, today being Wordless Wednesday and all, I would take this golden opportunity to lighten up and put up a post about something you don't see here every day. No autism. No death. No elderly mother. No aging body. No homework wars.

Just... springtime.

And men in trees on Riverside Drive, doing a bit of spring pruning: keeping things safe, so dead branches don't come crashing down onto loved ones while they frolic beneath.

So, walking Ethan and a couple of his school friends home on Tuesday along Riverside Drive...

what did we see, but men... in trees...

We were amazed at how they got up there, dangling in the air from a rope until high in the branches.

And doesn't Ethan look all teenagery and movie-star-ish in this picture?

OK, folks, that's all.

Men in trees. And a cute picture of one of my boys. That's enough, right?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Years

Dad & Me, Riverside Park, 1998

Two years ago today, my father died.

It was not the least bit unexpected.

He was nearly 93 (less than 2 weeks shy of his birthday).

He was gaunt, frail, a shell of his former self.

He had been actively dying for three months.

But still, there was a shockwave.

Suddenly a crack in the atmosphere of the world.

A sharp dividing line, a before and after:

The world with my father in it on one side.

On the other, the world without.


There was a howling Nor' Easter that day.

So unlike the near seventy degree early spring this March has brought us.

March 2010 was cold and snowy. A bitter thing.

Gray outside to match my inner grisaille.

He died as he lived.

On his own terms.

Surrounded by people he loved.

With great drama just beforehand.

And then, very quietly, neatly done.

He just... stopped.

Moments either before or after midnight.

March 13th, 2010

I write this now at the juncture. The end of year two, the beginning of year three without a father.

I know it gets easier with time. It already has.

But today is still tough.

And full of to-dos, no time to mourn.

So I will make do with little momentary pauses; a sliver of grieving, slipped into the cracks of life.

I will carry his photo with me today.

To remember.

To keep him present (though he ever is).

I was lucky to have had him for nearly fifty years.

Now two years gone.

Two years.

Just Write

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Scrounging for the Hopeful

I'm not even going to pretend I wrote this on the 10th. It's way too overdue for that. It's the 12th of the month, and even that just barely.

I'm wiped out. Even more tired than last month. If that's possible.

But for some GOOD reasons, this time, too (Listen to Your Mother-NYC - Yeah!) But still, tired is tired.

... so now THIS is (finally) out of the way, and I'm going to bed. (Cue vision of sink full of dishes - CRAP! Well, almost going to bed.)

But YOU should head on over to the Hopeful Parents site and read my 20th post there: Scrounging for Hope

Also - WARNING - right now (hopefully soon to be fixed) the site is loading slow. REALLY slow. Slow like for a full 2 - 3 minutes you see the header and sidebar only, while the main post body area remains blank white.

And while, yes, I know that 3 minutes is a CENTURY in computer time these days (though I am old enough to remember a time when it SO wasn't, when that would be considered a FAST load - Ha!) PLEASE have the patience to wait it out and read my post over there. And if you would leave a comment it would be ever so lovely.

OK. Yawn. To bed.

(ME - you go to HP now, please.)

(Yes, I'm bossy.)


(Not Really.)

(Dishes, then bed. Right. Thanks for reminding me.)

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Friday, March 9, 2012

March is the Cruelest Month

I am so very, very happy to be incredibly busy this month. So busy in fact, that I don't have time to ponder and wallow.

Because March, the last two years running?

Has nearly done me in.

This time last year, even though my body was officially "healed" from my first ever surgery (goodbye, gall bladder!) my spirit was still struggling. I was not yet nearly "myself" again.

And suffusing that whole winter, laying over it entirely, were ghostly tendrils of the previous winter when my father had been busy dying, and I had been completely consumed by caring for him and supporting my now widowed mother.

So last March was the final crushing end of Year One Without a Father. That year of sad first anniversaries, of remembering and reliving so much awful.

As I was grinding through it, trying to keep my head above water, everyone told me I would be astonished at how much better it gets, with time; that year two would be nothing like year one.

And they were right. Thank all the powers that be, they were right.

Two years ago, today, was four days out from Dad's passing. I was witness to his emaciated, worn out body, fiercely clinging to the last shredded remnants of life.

His incredible strength that I had admired throughout his life now a liability, he was really ready to go, longing for release. But his stubborn, fighting, never-say-die spirit won out. Over and over.

Until it didn't.

March to me is my parents' anniversary on the 1st. My father's death on the 13th. And my father's birthday on the 25th.

Two years ago, he nearly made it to 93. This year, it would have been my parents 53rd anniversary. He would have been 95.

And yet thoughts of him, of my Annus Horribilis, bubble up momentarily to the surface, then sink back below.

I am busy.

Busy with life.

Rising with my children. The thousand tasks involved in their care and feeding and shepherding throughout the day.

Laughing at their jokes. Supervising 4th grade homework. Cheering at their basketball games.

Busy preparing for Jacob's annual IEP meeting, for which "the letter" came in the mail yesterday. Always giving the shortest notice legally allowed, it's in two weeks. Scramble. Scramble.

Busy producing the New York City Listen to Your Mother Show. an amazing endeavor that is heating up white hot in my life, now that we are cast and less than two months out from showtime. (May 6th - mark your calendars!)

Busy doing everything that needs to be done for my nearly 90 year-old mother.

It's good to be busy. I am grateful. I complain (it's my nature). But I'm not REALLY complaining, you know?

Two years ago, I was in the thick of death. There is such a surreal quality when I look back to that time, the awful and beautiful of it, all wrapped up together.

And while "beautiful" seems a strange word to be found here, describing death; now, two years out, I can see that part, too.

It was a gift to be able to be there with my father, and for my mother. To lie beside him and gently, so gently, stroke his back so he could continue to sleep, comforted by the last simple human connection of touch.

At the end, at the very, very, very end, there is no future. The past is a distantly receding dream. There is only the bright white light of NOW. And then it goes dark.

Sitting in my father's light, at the end of the end, was a gift, with its own beauty. And now, two years out, I am beginning to see that, beginning to treasure it.

And so I run about these busy March days, grateful for the life that flows through them. 

Starting year three.

And waiting for April, and true spring to come.

I'm linking up to Maxabella's I'm grateful for... because I so am.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This Space UN-Intentionally Left Blank

Ay yi yai!

Oy Vey!

Yo Ishtenem!

Mea Culpa!

Ay Dios mio!

How do you people with full time jobs AND kids do it?

How do you have the time and energy to blog?

Because for the past 2 weeks my producing work for the Listen to Your Mother Show has been at about the level of a full time job.

And my kids are still, well, my kids, and they want their mom's attention and clean clothes and food when they're hungry and their homework (oh, god, the homework!) checked. Well actually, no, they want to be allowed to NOT do the homework, but that's not going to happen.

But still, you know what I'm saying. I am busier than ever, and with all sorts of stuff I have to take care of for my ACTUAL mother, too. (Banking! Doctor Appointments! HER Laundry! Social Security Office - AGAIN!)

And then there's always the Autism factor. (How could I forget the Autism time tax? Just estimate however long you think something is going to take, and then double or triple it. And do that again. Now you're close.)

So my blog, my writing? Suffering dearly.

Half written posts in my queue? Yup, dozens.

Anything close to being able to be actually sent out into the world with the touch of a "publish" button? Hardly.

I have written wonderful, beautiful posts... entirely in my head in the shower.  And then never gotten them to screen or paper. (Yes, I actually do sometimes write on physical paper and then transfer into digital words. Fancy that!)

One advantage of being out in the world interacting with adults: I shower daily once again (they can no longer smell me from Jersey).

Another advantage? Not only do I have no time and mental space to write, I also have no time to obsessively check my blog stats. I simply could not tell you how many people have visited my blog in the last day, or even week. And that? Is frankly a relief.

That said, however, as much as I feel expanded by all this exciting producing stuff, I also feel diminished in that my writing is clogging up inside me once again, an expressive and creative logjam.

I've had struggles with blogging before, had fallow times. But this time around, it's not so much about losing my writing mojo, as getting filled up by the words tumbling around inside me, the pressure building up with no release in sight. (And don't go where that image takes you, okay? Just. don't.)

I am suddenly understanding my friends who regularly write compact, sweet, 300 word posts. It takes less time!

So, as I can see no relief coming in the near future, and I hate how s-l-o-w-l-y my archive is filling up (it's the 6th of the month and this is only my 3rd post - and it's not much of a post), I am just going to have to try harder to get something - anything- up here. And maybe write those short, pithy posts that have eluded me in the past.

And since this has all been so much something about pretty much nothing; a self-referential rumination; a curved, tail-biting snake, circling itself round and round - I will leave you with a little actual something... the song that's been playing in my head these days, my personal soundtrack.

And yes, I HAVE been feeling like a Muppet of a (wo)Man lately.

See you back here tomorrow folks, hopefully with a little something something.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

February Round-Up: What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs

Photo by Neil Kramer, my FAVORITE instagram photographer, by far

Welcome to the SECOND edition of "What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs" a regular monthly round-up of what has caught my eye (and brain, and heart) on the internet. (Now that my period is no longer "regular & monthly" I figure SOMETHING in my life should be!)

(OK, I'm 3 days late, but let's just pretend this was a NORMAL month with 31 days, okay? Because I really needed those extra days. Not fair February, not fair!)

And this month I am adding another feature, a favorite instagram photo from another photographer, too. Though I have to tell you, I am guessing they are ALL going to be by my friend Neil Kramer, who blogs at Citizen of the Month.

Neil is the most amazing photographer who doesn't believe he is a photographer, thinks he's just "having fun" with his photos. However, he has "the eye" - something that as the daughter of a celebrated photographer, I do NOT say lightly.

And now, a handful or so of wonderful posts from February, 2012, presented for your edification and enjoyment... And I tried to keep it light this month folks: sweet, uplifting, and/or funny posts. And I was mostly successful, see...

And now, starting with a perfect post from the aforementioned Neil:

The Perfect Couple from Neil of Citizen of the Month

That's What I Wanted from (The Empress) Alexandra of Good Day Regular People

Somebody give the tooth fairy a double espresso. And some gratitude. from Eden of edenland

YOU’RE RUINING NATHAN FILLION FOR ME, NATHAN FILLION. Alternate title: But I forgive you. from (the Bloggess) Jenny of The Bloggess

Some days it's not even worth trying to chew through the restraints from Jillsmo of Yeah. Good Times.

The Transcendent Familiar 7: Choking on the Ashes from Adrienne of No Points For Style (yeah, this is not one of the light ones, but so moving)

Losing Sleep. from Tulpen of Bad Words

There are places I remember from Ellen of Love That Max

And ending with a second photo from Neil, because I couldn't decide which one I loved best:

Photo by Neil Kramer. Salt shakers or Daleks - you decide.

Note: Once again, this is an idiosyncratic, and very incomplete list. There is always more wonderful out there, but these are the particular ones I have chosen this month. Next month? Come back again and see what has struck my fancy.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

LTYM-NYC has made a busy bee out of me.

Noticed it was a fairly quiet month on my blog this February? Yeah, me too. Sorry. I’ve actually been very busy, just not HERE.

I’ve spent a lot of time THERE, working on the NYC Listen to Your Mother Show, gearing up for its first annual appearance this upcoming May. (The 6th at 2pm at the JCC. Go HERE for details. Tickets on sale soon – but not yet.)

This week? Three glorious, wonderful, exhausting, grueling, uplifting, wrenching days of auditions. Sitting in a little room with my wonderful partners - the director, Amy of When Did I Get Like This and associate producer Holly, The Culture Mom - being amazed and humbled by the outpouring of stories brought to us.

And, of course, this being New York City where space is at a premium, we held our auditions in a big professional casting and rehearsal studio. Which was… interesting, as big Broadway shows were being cast and / or rehearsed all around us. Which meant that big Broadway voices were belting out showtunes accompanied by boisterous piano plating throughout the audition process.

You’d think a place like that would have better soundproofing wouldn’t you? Well, think again.  But we got really good at tuning out all the distractions and tuning in to our people.

And I do think for some of the folks who were not performers (maybe especially those who had traveled in from distant ‘burbs and beyond) it was a thrill to be waiting for their auditions in the same halls as professional actors and dancers with Broadway credits to their names.

And now? Auditions are DONE!

And now, the very, very painful choices need to be made. 

We saw over 50 writer/readers. (What were we thinking?!) Wonderful stories flooded our ears and eyes. Woman after woman - and two men - came in and laid their hearts and kishkas on the table (that’s “guts” for you non-Yiddish speakers).

We could probably just drop all of the auditioners names in a hat and pull out a dozen or so and have a great show. But you know we’re not going to do that, right? We’re going to think and talk and agonize; and think and talk and agonize some more.

And sweat blood, as we move names from yes to maybe and back again, our hearts breaking a little each time, as we sacrifice an individual piece we love in order to make the show stronger, as a whole.

Creating flow, creating a beautiful quilt in the pattern of motherhood, one lovely square at a time. (Full credit to Amy for this metaphor. It has been very useful as we work together to choose the big and little stories that we’ll stitch together to create our show.)

Thank you so much to everyone who bravely came forth to share your stories with us. We appreciated each and every one of you. We loved hearing your stories. You truly were ALL stars.

And if you were thinking about coming to audition and didn't; if you thought "Why would anyone want to hear MY unimportant story?" -- please think again.

Come see our show on May 6th. If you live in another city or area of the country where there is a LTYM sister show, by all means go see that one! If you can't come in person, watch the videos when they come out shortly thereafter.

And next year?

Grab your story.

The one that scares you because it is so honest, because you are so "out there" when you tell it.  The one about which you think "Can I really say this?"

The one that makes you laugh or cry, yourself, when you read it.

Bring it to us.

Stand up and read it out loud.

We're giving motherhood a microphone.

The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.

We want your laughter and your tears. We want your unvarnished truth.

Yes, YOU.

Bring it on!

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