Sunday, September 30, 2012

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

Long Shadow, Queens by Neil Kramer
Welcome to the September edition of my monthly "What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs" feature. The place where I share what has caught my eye (and brain, and heart) on the internet over the past month.

Also, as usual, I am featuring many photos from my friend and amazing intstagram photographer  Neil Kramer - of the blog Citizen of the Month - who was still in New York this month, beautifully capturing the spirit of our wondrous city.

It's a lot of posts this month. I've been a fair bit insomniac, which leads to lots of reading. Also there's a lot of autism related posts. (Maybe to make up for my not writing that much about autism myself lately?)

Whatevs. Without further ado...  Enjoy!

7 Train Now by Neil Kramer
Parenting (Autistic) Kids is Hard from Jean (Stimey) of Stimeyland 

How We Do It, Part XVI in a series by Elizabeth of a moon, worn as if it had been a shell

Sex by "Murphy Brown" at Autism Underground

Face in the Limo by Neil Kramer

Meditation For An Autism Mom by Whac-A-Mole Mom of My Whac-A-Mole Life at The Oxygen Mask Project

Falling down the rabbit hole of 'why?' by Louise of BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities 

the noise of life by Jessica of Four plus an angel at mamalode

This month Neil added a little twist to some of his photos - captions that transform them into perfect mini-dramas. Here are two of my favorites:

"I'm not in love with you anymore," she told him the next morning. "I'm also sleeping with your brother." (Photo: Neil Kramer)

"Look at this schmuck, walking around with his phone out like he's married to it. You know he's not getting laid." (Photo: Neil Kramer)

Just A Little Something by Anna of An Inch of Gray

The Waiting is the Hardest Part by Kristin of Running to be Still

Every Time I Talk About Depression – Being Brave by Chris of Chris Brogan

The Summer Officially Ends, NYC by Neil Kramer

Seeing Someone as Limited Means Seeing Them as Less by Kim of Countering

Actually, Motherhood Is the Toughest Job I’ve Ever Loved by Joslyn of stark. raving. mad. mommy. at Babble's Strollerderby

Here Comes The Sun by Alysia of Try Defying Gravity

Working at Starbucks, NYC by Neil Kramer

hurt is not betrayal by Jess of a diary of a mom

It's about the sanity  by Patty of Pancakes Gone Awry

Tell It Like It Is – On Being Asked What It Is Like to Have an Autistic Child
by Leigh of Flappiness Is...

We're Dead and Sleeping With Ghosts by AV Flox of Sex and the 405 at BlogHer

Tour bus by Neil Kramer
And as September contains both the anniversary of 9/11, and Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur (The Jewish New Year / High Holy Days) I feel this round-up wouldn't be complete without posts on these matters.

So here is a (beautifully written) 9/11 memory for you:

The Formative Days by Sarah of Sarah Piazza

NYPD, NYFD, NYC by Neil Kramer

And a Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur post (with vlog component - a Round-up first!):

Shosh Hashanah: As The New Year Begins by Shoshana of Shoshuga

Shoes by Neil Kramer

Hope you found something new and interesting to read. Or re-discovered an old "friend" of a blog that fell of your reading list.

And if you come across anything in the course of your reading that you think "This is a fantastic thing that is just up Varda's alley, she should read this and feature it in her monthly round-up post!"? Let me know about it via Twitter - @SquashedMom.

(And finally three more wonderful Neil photos, just because...)

Photos of NYC by Neil Kramer

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Alternate Side

A detail of my car's dashboard. Very 90s.

We have a car in Manhattan and we park it on the streets.

And that's every bit as insane as it sounds, but we have our reasons. ($400 a month garage fees being chief among the street-park decision.)

I never set out to be an auto-bearing Manhattanite, but rather had this thrust upon me when my very elderly parents moved back to New York and under my care about seven years ago, and their car came up from Florida with them.

It was full of dings and scratches, patches of other car colors that had been acquired by... violent proximity. Apparently at the end of his driving years, nearly every time he took the car out, my father would return with dents of unknown origin.

If my parents had just moved to Manhattan, I would have sold their car and been done with it. But no, they chose a senior residence in the northern reaches of Riverdale. (Technically in Yonkers even, though literally it was just a toehold over the line, on the north side of the dotted-line dividing street, rather than the south.)

I was their chauffeur, ferrying them to doctor appointments, shopping trips, Dad's one-man show at the Yonkers Library (his last big professional hurrah).

Now, other than weekend road trips and family vacations, I mostly drive Ethan to school on alternate side parking days, when the car must be ritually moved and re-parked.* Twice a week. More if we've used it and been unlucky in our parking choices upon return.

And after dropping Ethan off, I have about an hour to kill before it's time to re-park. The perfect excuse for morning coffee with the mom-friends.

This morning our conversation spanned hysterectomies, Gay Day at the Mall of America, rating of local pediatricians, concern for a friend having a hospitalization-worthy manic episode, homework, Sacha Baron Cohen, Simon Baron Cohen, the horrors of the middle school application process, Freddy Mercury, a theatrical parent's reaction to numerous boyfriends over the years until her loudly sung declaration of the husband to be: "Keeeeeeper!"

Once again I was filled with that warm snugly feeling that I have the best friends in the world.

A particularly supportive non-judgmental group; when I hear of women complaining about the competitiveness, vindictiveness and shallowness of women's relationships I can't help but think: "Who the Hell are YOU befriending?" because that so does not describe anyone I know or choose to spend time with. Then again we're not the "perfect" moms in designer clothes (unless they came from Filene's or Loehmann's) with the "perfect" children. Far from it.

Giving a friend a ride home after coffee today, she hopped into the passenger seat and seemed delighted to find I had a cassette deck in my dashboard, with actual cassettes in the cubby. (I did mention it's a 1997 sedan that had been previously owned by old people - i.e. my parents -  right?)

She grabbed Special Beat Service and popped it in and we started loudly caterwauling together, singing along to "Sugar and Stress" as we barreled up Amsterdam Avenue.

By the time I dropped her at her door "End of the Party" was playing. A hauntingly beautiful song. We had spent much of the car ride talking about how important music has been to us at various times in our lives.

I mentioned how one of my blog friends had included a song in her post that sent me on a wild nostalgia ride: Kate Bush singing "This Woman's Work."

And then, a few moments later, just as I'd found a parking spot, the heavens opened up and a torrential downpour ensued, the kind that laughs at your puny little umbrellas as it soaks you with sideways rain and from the ground up in great splashing puddles.

There was thunder and lightning involved, and the blaring of alarms, as cars close to the strikes rocked in the violence of the electrically discharging blasts.

Me? I sat toasty in my bubble, listening to my old music on the cassette deck; enjoying the spectacle outside my windows.

Windows, from a rainy window
Trees above, through windshield raindrops

So I will leave you with a few words from and a video of this English Beat song I Confess: "I know I'm shouting, I like to shout!" Enjoy:

*Note: this is a post from my "Zombie Files" - written months ago, and just finished up and posted today (being reminded of it by the rain). Right NOW I am actually using the car a LOT driving back and forth to Long Island where my mother is in a nursing home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Me, pregnant in L.A., March 2002

Today is Yom Kippur, the last day of the Jewish New Year, the holiest of the holy of the Days of Awe. Also a day when adults are commanded to fast, to take in no food or drink for the entire day, from sundown to sundown (how Jewish days are measured).

There is something lovely about this tradition, and I have always enjoyed the fast, especially how it's the perfect excuse for a delicious little afternoon nap.  Also, Jews being Jews, there is always a wonderful full repast immediately afterwards, a gathering of family and friends to break the fast with, because food is truly what we do best.

But I haven't fasted since 1999.  I married in 2000, at nearly 40. So, time being of the essence, we got "to work" right away in our attempts to start a family. Thus there were two years of trying to get pregnant and then two years of being a nursing mother, and since then, just being an exhausted mom of special needs / high maintenance kids.

Now that the boys are ten, it's feeling a bit ridiculous, the never-ending excuses; so today I am semi-fasting - taking in liquids only - easing into it as it were. Plus it's still my reality that I need too much energy to look after my kids to truly fast.

So I am experiencing some hunger today, which is making me think about past hungers in my life, and an amusing story from my life, that I have yet to tell you...

When I was about four months pregnant with the twins, I took my last business trip to LA. (although I had been a frequent visitor until then, I haven't been back since). My husband, Danny, came along, both to carry on some of his own business and take care of me.

He had also accompanied me on my (similarly last) trip to the Sundance Film Festival that January, and I had truly needed his help as the "morning" sickness combined with altitude sickness to leave me in bad shape some days. (See this post for my entertaining story about nearly puking in a famous actor's lap.)

So, back to the L.A. story... we landed in the late afternoon, and it took MUCH, MUCH longer to get the rental car straightened out than we'd planned. By the time we finally arrived at our hotel, I hadn't eaten for hours. I was famished in the way that only a woman pregnant with twins in her second trimester can be famished.

And then? And then? It turned out that our lovely hotel? Had no onsite restaurant open for dinner. (Breakfast through lunch "coffee shop" only. Grrrrrrr.)

It being L.A., we were expected to retrieve our car (10 minute wait) and then drive up and down the street looking for a suitable restaurant (15 to 45 minute process). Yet I, being about to start gnawing on the desk clerk, found that idea impossible. And might have said so in less than polite terms.

We were then directed to the joint across the street, the House of Blues. Nobody's idea of fine, L.A. worthy cuisine, quite truly a tourist trap. But I didn't care. At this point I was a ravenous, crazy pregnant-with-twins starving lady.

And of course: there was a wait for a table. And once we were seated: the service was molasses slow.

At the table next to us was a couple paying their bill, clearly done with dinner. And their basket of fresh cornbread? Untouched.

Yes, I swiped it. I ate left-behind food off a stranger's table in a restaurant. I had turned all Pregnant She-Hulk: MUST. FEED. BABIES.

And my dear husband, who normally would have been mortified by such uncouth behavior didn't bat an eye. (By this point in the pregnancy, he knew better than to get between me and FOOD.)

Also? He very gallantly manhandled a waiter into taking our order pronto and putting it in as a rush.

(Possibly because he saw I was eying the uneaten half of a steak about to be left behind by a different couple at the table on our right.)

That was truly the hungriest I have ever been, or ever hope to be.

And it's good to remember that right now, today, as 5 pm rolls around and I am feeling a bit peckish, impatient in my wait to return to synagogue; eager to hear the final notes of the shofar's blast reverberate through the sanctuary, echoed by the rumbling of a thousand empty stomachs (including mine), yearning to be filled.

L'Shanah Tovah, my friends. And have a Tzom Kal (easy fast).

Monday, September 24, 2012


Uncle Walter stopped by to see Mom, too, today

I have been under the weather for so long I had almost forgotten how it feels to be functionally human. Today, finally, I caught a glimpse. Although I am now fully spent, having made up for lost time by filling my day to the gills:

Taking Ethan and the neighbor's kids to school (because their little sister puked just as they were getting ready to head out).

A quick coffee with school-mom-friends (need caffeine!)

Picking up the car from the repair shop (poor old thing).

Driving out to visit Mom, and all that that entailed (heart wrenched in a thousand different ways). Yet another conference with nurse manager on how to get and keep her on track, moving forward.

Driving back to pick Ethan up at school, and oh holy hell the check-engine light comes back on again (our car's resident poltergeist not fully exorcised), so back to the shop and then flagging down a cab to get to Ethan on time.

Dragging Ethan off to an appointment way East in midtown (1 bus, 1 subway, and a 4 block walk away). And if you know the U.N. is in session right now, you know this means closed streets and roadblocks and checkpoints and police everywhere.

Meanwhile, and threaded throughout: Emails and phone calls about Jacob's bussing situation. Which is bad. He's been getting to school AN HOUR late every day. Because the bus has twice as many kids on it as it should, with multiple schools to drop off at. Because the City of New York is trying to save money at the expense of Special Ed kids, the most disenfranchised citizens to start with. Don't. Get. Me. Started. (I will burn a hole in your computer screen with the white-hot lava of my wrath.)

Then back uptown and West to our 'hood for dinner at Shake Shack because it's near the...

Big meeting at Ethan's school about the middle school application process.

(If you don't live in New York City and send your kid to public school you have no idea of the hell that this means. Middle school is the bottleneck. There are many good elementary schools. There are a lot of good - and even great - high schools. There are very few decent middle schools, and NOT ENOUGH seats in them for all the kids who apply, thus making it a tough and very competitive process to get your kid into a one. Shoot. Me. Now.)

Finally HOME, a full twelve hours after having left.

(And then homework to go over with Ethan, but oh dear God he rushed through it, wanting to play his DS, so it all has to be redone, give me strength.)

Diving back under, not expecting much humanity tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Harlem Globetrotters are coming to Brooklyn!

Ethan hanging out with the Harlem Globetrotters - how cool is THAT?

People? You know me. I don't do a lot of promoting on my blog. I am not much about the products or the events. I am a writer. Who has a blog.

But when the lovely marketing folks from the Harlem Globetrotters contacted me about being one of their social media moms and promoting their upcoming New York City game on October 7th with a ticket discount code? I jumped at the chance. I may have even done a little jig.

Because my boys? Basketball? The great LOVE of their lives. About the one thing they both agree on. And the Globetrotters? An amazing family-oriented organization that does a whole lot more than just play basketball. They go into communities and make a difference. They inspire.

Also? Super nice folks. I know because I got to meet some of them. And Ethan? He got to PLAY BALL WITH THEM!

Yes, last week there was a small media event in the city for some of us mom and dad bloggers and our kids. Five members of the team took time off from their strenuous pre-season training to come say hello, sign some autographs, and play a little one-on-one with the under-five-foot set.

Ethan got to go toe-to-toe with Buckets, TNT, Slick, Big Easy and Hammer on the lovely basketball courts at The Sports Club/LA – New York on the Upper East Side.
He got his jersey signed by the gang, too (now never to be washed!) and we watched a demonstration of their famed "magic circle" where the players show off their neatest tricks.


Ethan had a BLAST, as you can plainly see. And I have to tell you these players were as nice as they were talented and funny.

Talking with Big Easy, I mentioned that Ethan had an equally basketball-loving autistic twin brother who couldn't be there that day (due to school transportation issues) and he expressed genuine regret that he didn't get the chance to play ball with him, was happy to hear that Jake would be coming to the game in October and told me he wanted to be sure to meet him then. Just... wow!

(Seems like the Globetrotters regularly work with and have special sensitivity to Special Needs kids on top of everything else. Could they be more perfect?)

So, from everything I have read about them, and then meeting them in person and seeing how roll (and spin and bounce) I can say I am over-the-top excited about going to their game on October 7th. And if you live in (or are visiting) the New York City area and have kids, I strongly encourage you to come join us at the game. It's going to be a great show, a blast, a whole lot of fun.

And as this show also happens to be the GRAND opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (new home of the Brooklyn Nets), you get bragging rights to being one of the first people to see the joint from the inside. Yet more cool.

Now the ticket specifics: The Harlem Globetrotters are coming to play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday October 7th and I have a discount code for tickets for you all:

Click on the graphic above, or this link: GLOBETROTTERS at BARCLAYS CENTER and then the "Buy Tickets NOW!" link on that page. At the ticketmaster site that brings you to, enter my code: SQUASHED in the "Promotions and Special Offers" ticketing option and you will get $7 off each ticket you purchase. Voila!

Note that this is Columbus Day Weekend - so even though it's Sunday, it's NOT a SCHOOL NIGHT!

I also encourage you to find out more about and connect with the Globetrotters - they're VERY accessible. You can find them on Twitter, here: and on Facebook, here:

Hope to see you at the game! We'll be there. With bells on.

**Disclosure: I am being compensated for my promotion of the Globetrotters in two ways. As an associate I will be receiving a small percentage of the money for tickets sold with my discount code. I will also receive tickets to the game for my family. All opinions of the Globetrotters and my experiences with them are unbiased and wholly my own.**

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Cheerful Things

Ethan has taken up Soccer!

I fully realize yesterday's post while lyrical, was also quite melancholic. And though that's just the way I've been rolling lately, I don't want to constantly be bringing you all down with me.

So in an effort to lighten things up around here... may I offer a few pictures of some cheerful things from the past week or so:

I saw THIS while passing the Guggenheim on the 5th Avenue bus. Cool.

Jake went to a birthday party and got a balloon

My latest pedicure: electric metallic blue!
Ethan's soccer shoes: electric metallic blue!

Finally: Ethan playing basketball 1 on 1 with a Globetrotter!
And THIS right here? Much more news tomorrow. The Harlem Globetrotters are AWESOME and you can find out for yourself on October 7th! (Come back tomorrow to hear all about it, or scroll down to the bottom of THIS POST if you just can't wait.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Days of Argh

This morning barely seems like morning as I awaken disoriented, dry-mouthed, thick-eyed; crumpled snot-filled tissues forming a crackly halo about my throbbing head. The light seeping in through the gaps between the blinds is wan, green, presaging a stormy day; dank and heavy.

It's not how Rosh Hashannah should be, these Days of Awe nearly always crisp and autumnal, sporting achingly blue skies to be glimpsed longingly from inside the synagogue's hush and thrum.

But I have not been this year, sending the menfolk off without me, this virus hitting hard as the holiday's just begun. We have managed the bare minimum tradition requires: a round challah procured, apples honey-dipped, a family meal shared, a sweet new year requested.

And now all I long for is sleep, sleep, sleep. And the room to stop spinning. And the unholy pile of dishes in the sink to wash themselves. And for my mother to walk again.

No matter how far I go in my thoughts, it keeps coming back to that: this huge lump of sadness lodged deep under my heart like that bubble of acid that would not go away throughout my entire pregnancy, spilling out if I tilted just the tiniest bit off true, to the left or right.

My mother has not been my compass for many years, yet I am hers. All she has left. But I am spinning, spinning, spinning right now, unable to find my North.

The storm outside will not come on, teasing all day with skies darkening and lightening and the air growing thicker and thicker until we are all covered in a sheen of our own sweat though we are doing nothing more strenuous than engaging in yet another internecine battle of the homework wars.

Finally, as dusk comes on and the winds begin to lash, the heavens clearly ready to finally open up at any moment, I must leave the apartment for the first time in days, driven by an empty medicine bottle of Jacob's plus the deep need see something other than these walls and my children.

But one insists on coming with: Ethan who will not be separated, even though that age is coming on soon when I will be the one clinging and fearfully watching his back as he strides away. He proceeds to be helpful, carrying bags as we make a few stops to stock our waning pantry as well as pick up his brother's necessary pills.

By the time we trudge back, laden, dying to peel off the rain jackets that were not really necessary but instead have encased us in our own steamy dampness, it has grown near dark and the wind pushes against our bodies, something substantial to resist, fight against, instead of each other, as we find our way home.

Just Write

Sunday, September 16, 2012

SOC Sunday: Sweet and Sour and Harlem Globetrotters

stream of consciousness sunday

It has been a loooong time since I've participated in Stream of Consciousness Sunday. So long that when I went to find it at Fadra's joint, I found it had moved... to Jana's Thinking Place. Well, okay then.

What I have tonight is not a post, really, it's a brain dump. And since that's the definition of Stream of Consciousness Sunday, I thought: perfect! And then when the optional prompt for this week turned out to be "Who has dropped into your life and made it better?" -- even better! Because I was planning to write about a wonderful serendipitous connection, although it's group, not an individual, but still, they did quite just drop in.

So, here goes...


Tonight is the start of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - and we have done virtually nothing to mark it, because Danny and I are both under the weather, big time, with a nasty cold/flu/virus.

I am sick as that proverbial dog today: sore throat, chills, body aches, nausea, snot galore, clogged ears, dizzy, woozy; you name it, I've got it.  Dan is over the worst of it but still dragging his ass, and down for the count as soon as he starts to build up steam, trying to get anything done.

So the New Year which is supposed to be marked with sweetness and family and apples dipped in honey has turned into my lying on the sofa wishing the kids could possibly be quieter and just let me sleep.  I sneak off into the bedroom for short bouts of slumber but they follow me in there, not wanting to be disconnected. This is the weekend, dammit, THEIR time.

Lousy timing to be this sick, four days off for the kids and all I want is for them to be elsewhere so I can be sick and sleep in relative peace.

Also? I was supposed to write my first big post for this cool thing that dropped int my lap - I am a Harlem Globetrotters associate blogger now! (I will be at and promoting their October 7th game* in Brooklyn)

So as such, I was invited to a meet and greet and PLAY BALL with some of them this past Thursday and so I grabbed Ethan and away we went...

Ethan and I and the HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS, yo!

There is a whole large post here, that I do not have the energy or brain cells to write yet, but I wanted to say SOMETHING sooner than later, because it was a wonderful experience for us. Ethan got to go 1-on-1 with professional ballplayers. For a basketball-loving kid that is just the greatest, sweetest thing in the world.

And know what they said? He got game. Uh, huh.

So even though I'm feeling mighty sour right now, there is some sweetness too, as we head into this New year.

Happy 5773 y'all.  L'Shanah Tovah. (Cough cough cough, ack!)


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...

stream of consciousness sunday
*I have a discount code that gets you $7 off each ticket to the Globetrotters local game - at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (the Nets new home) - on October 7th at 5 PM. I will be there with the whole family and it should be a great fun family event.

Click on this link: GLOBETROTTERS BROOKLYN EVENT and then the "Buy Tickets" link on that page, and then enter SQUASHED in the "Promotions and Special Offers" section.

**Disclosure: I am being compensated for my promotion of the Globetrotters in two ways. As an associate I will be receiving a small percentage of the money for tickets sold with my discount code. I will also receive tickets to the game for my family. All opinions of the Globetrotters and my experiences with them are unbiased and wholly my own.**

Friday, September 14, 2012

Visiting Mom

Mom, September 14th, 2012

Mom was far, far away when I came to see her today.



lost inside herself.

She came to for moments, smiled as I placed a few familiar, much beloved objects into her hands.  But mostly she closed her eyes and drifted away.

Mom, dozing in the sun

I brought her outside, as I always do.

"It feels so good," she said, as I placed her in the warming sun. "I'm always so cold."

Mom, beautiful in profile

It's been hard since this latest fall. She has not been eating enough, her weight is down. She looks in the mirror and cries, not seeing her own beauty, finding only an old woman in a wheelchair.

I met with her team, we're making adjustments. They had her on a low-fat, low salt, "heart healthy" diet and needed my permission to take her off of it (as well as the doctor's go ahead).

This is one example of what is so wrong with our compartmentalized, knee-jerk medical system. Looking at the individual diagnosis instead of the whole person. High cholesterol = low fat diet.

I laughed because I didn't want to cry in that office. I was glad they were actually on the same page:  that putting a woman with a progressive heart condition who was clearly in the last year or so of her life - and who was losing weight due to poor appetite - on a restricted diet was beyond ludicrous.

It's all about quality of life now. We all agreed. Milkshakes are now on her meal plan. Ice cream sundaes. As much salt as she wants to make the food tastier.

And an adjustment to her medications to try to wake her up a bit.

I hope it all works.

I miss my mom.

I'm not ready to say goodbye.

Not yet.

I want more stories, a few more laughs.

To feel her shoulders relax as I massage them.

"Mmmm that feels so good." she said, patting my hand.

Before she drifted off, once again, to sleep.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blowing my Own Horn: I was on Huffpost Live!

I recently got yelled at by a good friend for burying this news at the bottom of my last post. So here I am actually promoting myself... 


The backstory: This past Monday I got an email in the wee hours of the morning asking if I could be a part of a live broadcast THAT EVENING about Sandwich Generation issues on the Huffpost Live channel as one of three "community guests."

We would be joining their live guest Annabelle Gurwitch, who had recently written a post called "Sandwiched" for The Huffington Post site, via Google Hangout.

Well, in spite of being balls-to-the-walls swamped I said yes because well, MY topic folks, not gonna say no. And thankfully, Danny was home that night, no conflicting event so he could be point person on kidcare. Not that it would have been terrible if one of them had burst in upon me mid-broadcast, just would have underscored the "never get a break" nature of Sandwich Generation caregiving.

It was a great experience, a lively discussion, and my fellow community members - Taryn Mitchell, and Bette Scott - were lovely, lovely women. We had a lot to say to each other on the topic, and I think I may have even enjoyed our small private conversation while waiting for our segment to come up even more than the actual official one. (Wish I had found a way to record that!)

So watch, enjoy, and stop yelling at me!

(And yeah I AM terrible at this self-promotion thing, if I were really good at it I would be publishing this tomorrow morning at 9 AM for maximum traffic, but I have something else I want to post tomorrow so... oh well.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This week goes to Eleven

Yes, I know what day today is.

Last year I wrote about my memories of the day, from a very different time in my life: The Other Twins

I am a New Yorker, near life-long (stints in Massachusetts and California notwithstanding).

Growing up, as a teen, this was my city:

Twin Towers from NY Harbor, circa 1975

But this post is not about that.

All week long (and note it's only Tuesday) I've kept wanting to call this "Hell Week" but then I take pause; don't want to imbue my whole week with negativity.

There are moments of grace, here and there, amidst the jaws of the pressure vise clamping down upon me. There are still, always, the large and small people I love, who love me; around me constantly, asking for and offering hugs and delightful conversation.

There are good things going on that I haven't had time to write about; a post, half-written, about Jacob's spontaneous "why" question this summer, languishing in my blog queue.

Today, after moving my parents sofas, beat-up coffee table (which was still in better shape than our old beat-up coffee table) and assorted boxes of sundry into our already cramped tiny apartment,  I ran off to Brooklyn for the initial "Impartial Hearing" in our annual suit against the Board of Ed to get Jacob's school paid for.

Then I had to rush back into Manhattan to pick up Ethan and take him to his annual check-up, while constantly checking in with Danny to see how Jake's first bus ride home from school this year was going. (Imagine LOTS of texts that read: "Still not here yet. Bus Co. not answering phone.")

And the fact that I haven't been able to get out to Long Island to see my mother for a week, being too busy doing things FOR her instead? A constant twenty pound guilt-weight in my heart.

But, last night? I got to participate in a wonderful online conversation (as a community "Google Hangout" guest) about being a member of the "Sandwich Generation" on the Huffpost Live channel. If you missed it the archived show is here: Sandwich Generation on Huffpost Live.  

So instead of complaining unilaterally, and damning this week, I will, instead, quote "This is Spinal Tap" to use my favorite silly metaphor for over-the-top-ness and say "This one goes to eleven." (Hear it with a bad fake British accent in your mind, that's how it works best.)

That number completely appropriate for this day, the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

(And if you have no idea what I'm talking about with my "Spinal Tap" reference?  Watch this:)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hopeful about the New School Year

There was a lot of change for Jacob to manage on this, on his first day of school this year. He is in a new classroom, with a new teacher, moving up a level, now in his last year of "elementary."

And even more significant, his school has undergone a transformation, now housed in a new, singular building instead of being spread out; no longer being special needs guests in a series of larger, typical, Catholic Schools....

Yes! it IS the 10th of the month. So to read the rest, come over to Hopeful Parents for my monthly post:  

First Day of School Highs and Lows

So go there now. Enjoy!

And come back here tomorrow for more.... whatever (I have no idea which of the 5,000 things squashing me right now I will be writing about, or maybe I'll try to lighten up the joint with some comic relief, you never know.)

And thanks for all the support that's been flowing out to me lately. It is heard, felt,  and much appreciated.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Letting Go

Ethan's shadow on the wall of Mom's old apartment

There is so very, very much that I have to let go of these days... people, places, things; and also notions, ideas, old certainties worn out and surely ready for discarding.

The thought that my mother may live to 100, aging gracefully.  Gone.

The notion, put forth by some of his Early Intervention therapists that my autistic son Jacob would rapidly make up his developmental delays, easily integrating back into the mainstream by kindergarten, surely no later than 2nd grade? Long, long gone. Along with the notion of him ever leading a fully independent non-scaffolded life. Would take a miracle, that one.

I have let my body go, and my health, and this isn't ok for all the reasons you may imagine. I need to do something to turn this around soon. When I have the time. (So some time in 2015, perhaps?)

I have let go of my boys having a normal sibling relationship. (Not that I have any idea what that might be, anyway.)

And today?

I let go of my mother's last true home. Because a nursing facility, while euphemistically called a "home" is anything but. My mother now sleeps on scratchy hospital sheets, in a bed not really her own, her few meager possessions perched on and in some generic institutional furniture.

The big moving day with the truck and the guys was yesterday. Today I went back to do the final clean-up, sifting through what I was leaving to see what needed keeping after all.

Dad had been found on a shelf, up high in the back of the hall closet. I had to bring him home myself, did not want to pack him into a box entrusted to movers. Ashes are heavy. Did you know that?

I had to bring Ethan with me, the need to keep him separate from Jacob apparent from the constant unacceptable decibel levels whenever they were together.

So I couldn't even fall apart properly, with sobs and wallowing; had to give a quiet goodbye. One last wave to the room. Light out. Keys turned in.

Four boxes and five shopping bags in the trunk of a taxi later; move out complete.

So, all done with another thing I have let go: the last place my parents moved into together.
My mother's favorite chair, not taken.

Goodbye, Carnegie East House.

You were a good home to my mother, my father, assisting their living well.

(Sniffle, sniffle, stifled sob)