Meet Squashed Mom

Note added January 2013: This page was written in 2010. My mother has just passed, and that reality is not yet reflected in my bio, and I'm just not ready to do so yet.

Do you want this short, straight & serious, or long, rambling & funny? Wait you can have both! All about Squashed Mom in 2 parts - first serious, then funny...

This is my straightforward, serious "about me" page:

I am a mother, a daughter, a wife and a writer. In my former life, B.C. (before children), I was a TV / video / media producer. I used to travel around the country and the world. Now I feel lucky if I make it out of my neighborhood once a week.

As you have figured out if you’ve read my blog, I have a very old recently widowed mother and a pair of 8 year old twin boys, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, and the other of whom has some ADD (as do I).

This keeps life interesting. Exhausting, but interesting. Writing about my life and connecting with other people helps keep me sane, or what passes for sane around here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog, and that it has touched you in some way. Thanks.
And this is the fun, funny version:
Inspired by Kirsten of Nilsen Life I am borrowing my list from that "Twenty Five Random Things About Me" thing that was all the rage on Facebook a while back, to fill in my "about me" page.  This is simultaneously unorganized and TMI, but I'm a blogger, what did you expect?  So, without further ado:
25 Random Things about me (in no particular order):
1. OK, everyone else did this, like, a month ago. I have a BIG problem with procrastination. And perfectionism. Possibly these are connected.

2. One of my twin sons is on the Autism Spectrum (mild-moderate PDD-NOS), and this dominates my life in ways that you can not even begin to fathom if you either don’t have kids or they are all “typical”. If you have just one child and it’s an easygoing girl, we do not even live in the same universe.

3. I used to travel around the country and the world being a video and TV producer and music publisher, and just when I thought I’d be going back to work was when we realized we’d landed on planet Autism with Jake. So instead I became a full time “Autism Mommy” and started my never ending cram course on child development, special education, neurobiology and psychopharmacology.

4. I have some ADD myself, which I learned while researching stuff about Jacob. It really manifests itself around clutter/organization and procrastination issues (see #1). Brains are amazing things.

5. Another thing I learned in doing all this research: my Mother was right – I shoulda been a doctor. I LOVE this neurobiology stuff.

6. I have this tendency towards TMI – especially if I’m really passionate about the subject. I am trying to learn to answer the question “What do you think causes Autism?” with the simple but true “It’s a combination of genetic pre-disposition and environmental trigger, or series of triggers” and leave it at that. I have come to realize that most of you don’t want a 45 minute lecture on the neuro-toxicity of our modern environment and the overload of immature immune systems, let alone epigenenetic mutations, opiod peptides, or the role of Glutathione in cellular metabolism. (But if you want to discuss these things, e-mail me & I'll give you my cell phone #).

7. I am a total NYC Upper West Side cliché: Jewish, native NYer; met husband on Fire Island (at the sunset dock gathering on a Memorial day weekend); both in the arts; older Mom w/ twins via IVF; curly hair; rectangular glasses; a few more than a few pounds overweight; one kid in noted progressive public school & one in private special ed school; Orla Kiely handbag. If you met me in Siberia, you’d take one look at me & my family and ask which block between West 72nd and West 116th we live on. It’s OK, I’ve come to terms with it.

8. Before I met my husband I didn’t know who Stan Lee was. For those of you who are not Comic book fans or are not married to a Comic book Writer/Editor/Historian, he’s the most famous man in the biz - the guy who (co-)created the great Marvel characters – Spider-man, the X-men, Fantastic Four, etc.

9. I’ve been to Sundance 5 times, SXSW Film 5 times and the Toronto film festival once. Also the Edinburgh Theatre Festival. I love film festivals & miss them, they’re a lot of fun. But very cold feet (Sundance).

10. At the Toronto film festival, I was at a party, sitting at a table with (legendary French filmmaker) Agnes Varda, discussing how my first name is her last name and what our names meant and how that came to be. That was a very cool conversation (that I’m sure she has absolutely no memory of).

11. I spent 10 years of my life – from 17 to 27 - as a card carrying member of the lesbian nation. To my old friends I’ve re-found on FB this is clearly no surprise (many of you still are). It might be to some of my new “mommy” friends. It’s not like I keep it a secret, but it just doesn’t always come up. Honestly, I forget who I’ve told more in depth stories of my past life to, as so much of my current conversations are about the here and now intricacies of childrearing while trying to stay sane.

12. In pretty much the same years I was a lesbian I was also a vegetarian, so Danny and I will often refer to that time as my “vegetarian” years. Of course occasionally I will be really talking about vegetarianism, then I have to clarify by saying silly things like “when I was a VEGETARIAN vegetarian”.

13. In college I got to study writing with James Baldwin. Very little actually went on in the weekly seminar. Hanging out at his house afterward, drinking till the wee hours of the AM, another story.

14. We have a cat, who came to us pre-named, as a rescued street cat. Her name happened to be the same as the very first cat I ever had, when I was 5 years old. I didn’t know this yet when we chose each other on the sidewalk outside a pet store, but we were clearly meant for each other.

15. I love my boys completely, can’t imagine them being anyone other than who they are, but every now and then, when face to face with a friend’s adorable delicate girly newborn daughter, I oh so briefly consider baby-snatching.

16. I am NOT a morning person. If you told my 25 year-old self that one day I would consider waking up at 8 AM “sleeping in” and would greet that time on the clock with the phrase “there is a God – they BOTH slept past 6:30!” - I would have laughed you out of the room. I have been told by seasoned parents that by the time they turn into “can’t wake them up” teenagers, I will be so conditioned to early rising that it will be impossible to sleep in. I will be REALLY pissed if this is true.

17. I love being a parent, wanted to be one for years before it happened, have no regrets. But there are 3 things I really miss from my old life: spontaneous movie-going; remembering my dreams; all-day-in-bed Sundays (and truthfully I can’t say which I miss more – the unhurried sex or the extra sleep).

18. What the hell else do you people want to know about me – honestly 25 is too many things, my brain is stuck. WARNING: they’re gonna be REALLY silly and trivial from here on down.

19. I snore. Much worse when I have a cold. Danny does too, so he can’t complain.

20. I really hate to clean. There is ALWAYS something I’d rather be doing, and no I don’t find it “soothing like moving meditation”. It is hideously boring and completely un-gratifying. As soon as it’s done someone makes another mess, usually within minutes – ZERO satisfaction factor. Whoever said “a job well done need never be done again” was an ass who never dusted a shelf in his life.

21. My favorite color is still purple – has been since I was 6 years old. Although green is very nice, too.

22. I could not function without my cell phone, I can’t believe I ever lived in a time before there were cell phones, I would die without my cell phone, it will probably kill me.

23. I make amazing birthday cakes for my boys. I am inordinately proud of them and take a million photos, as they are such an ephemeral art form, created and devoured within 24 hours.

24. Other than the birthday cakes, my domestic godessness is nearly non-existent. Jacob is on a special autism diet and Ethan is picky, so I make separate meals for them, and it’s all “kid food”. I eat take out or hummus & crackers, I just do not have the time or energy to do much else. I dream of cooking real meals again someday, but it’s gonna be a while.

25. I tried to write cute, snappy, pithy, short, one line “things” like the rest of you, HONEST, but I’m just a long form, run-on kinda gal – sorry!


  1. I just LOVE your #16,17, and 18!!! Although I'm a morning person, I so relate to early risers!! :0

    (Stumbled on your blog through Angry Julie.)

  2. Hi Varda,
    I found your blog through my cousin Nora Littman. She posted one of your essays on her Facebook page and I went to read it. I liked it so I went to see who you were. I felt we shared a lot of points. Im a former Upper Westsider also but for the past 23 years have lived in Stockholm Sweden with my Swedish husband and 18 year old son. Like you, Im a long form run on kind of gal. I figure on my tombstone they will put, "Why use one word when 30 will do". Plus I also have curly hair, a few extra pounds, have done the fire Island thing and am not a natural early morning person. When reading about your UWS life I recognize it as the kind of life I would probably have led if I hadnt met my Swede.
    So I just thought I would write and say hi.

    Hilarie Cutler

    Oh, and about the teenager sleeping thing. While my son can sleep to noon on a weekend now, I still find myself, after years of enforced training to rise early, having a hard time to go back to sleep after I automatically wake up at 6am.

  3. Hi there. I'm going to let my daughter know about your blog; she has an 11 year old son who is ADD and an 8 year old son who is high-functioning autistic.

    Oh, and I went to high school with your brother Bruce.

  4. I just love your stuff - you are hilarious!

  5. Okay, this page is WAAAAAAAY funnier than mine. Not cool. ;)

  6. I should have totally stolen this idea from my FB page and used it as my "About Me" page! Like you, I LOVE the color purple. But pink trumps purple any day, in my eyes at least. And ditto on the "not a morning person" thing. I'm a 26-year-old single mom and NOT a morning person. At all. Sigh. I love your total take-charge attitude about learning all that you can about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Proud mama... and you make me proud as well. Love it!

  7. I have ADD, too, although my endocrinologist and perdiatric neurologist aren't entirely sure it's not early manifestations of Graves'Disease, because I'm mildly hyperthyroid.
    No one in my house is on the spectrum, or at least not diagnosed, but my brother and both of my parents are midly insane. my father's entire family are certifiable lunatics, as in cinventional mormons who run aaway to join polygamist cuklts and supposedly devout Mormon higher-ups in the grand scheme of authority who fet caught and arrested for stealing crates of disposable douches outside nig nox stoners. so who's to soay what's crazy and waht's sane anymore? Certainly no one in my family is in any position to make that determination.

    Your reader,

  8. I have ADD as well, although my doctors think it may be an early manifestation of Graves' Disease rather than bona fide ADD. No one that I know of in our family is on the spectrum. What we have, instead, are crazy people. My brother and both of my parests are shy a few marbles, but my dad's entire side of the family is certifiable, as in mainstream Mormons taking off to join polygamous cults and men who are in the upper echelons of Mormon leadership being arrested for stealing crates of disposable douches behind big box stores. Who's to say what is normal anymore? Certainly no one in my family is qualified to make that determination.

  9. I've joined your blog even though we live on different planets - I have an easy-going daughter. However, I am bringing her up in a war zone so that must count for something.

  10. Oh, jesus christ, I didn't know we had so much in common, but I wish it wasn't a serious case of #1, #6 and missing spontaneous movie-going and film festivals. And the sex one. And now that I said that: the TMI one. I also have very, very serious issues regarding #4 and now will have to ask you about the ADD diagnosis. I always chalked it up to "head in the clouds"/artsy-ness, since so many of my friends who create things are clutter hounds, procrastinators and perfectionists. Have never been either sort of vegetarian, but am merely middle-aged; there's time. Oh, yeah: I'm a night person too. I'd sleep from 3 am-11 am if I had to pick my 8 hrs, but I can happily (well, theoretically these days) do 9 or 10. Or 12.

  11. You are amazing! You should do a write up of what you think causes autism and post it in a tab for people to refer to! And tell stories about your old career!

  12. Ha! #20... I am procrastinating cleaning my very messy house by reading your blog. Your blog that I stumbled acrossed by browsing blogs-- to avoid the mess. I really hate to clean. I have my whole life. After having kids, two energetic girls and a wild little man (recently diagnosed with a seizure disorder)-- I hate cleaning even more than I used to. I think it is a major waste of time-- especially with kids (and husbands to for that matter).

  13. I suppose it's only fair to let you know that you kinda inspired my recent blog entry. Which doesn't necessarily mean that much unless you also know that my most recent blog entry doubles as my first blog entry. It's like one minute I'm stumbling onto your page, and next thing I know...Well played!


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!