Wednesday, June 08, 2011

College Room and Board will be cheaper than I thought

This exchange took place in the car on the way home today:

JBean: Yay! When JBug goes off to college, can I redecorate the room just for me, all to myself?

JBug: No! I will be living at home, forever, in the basement.

[to JBean:] JBug isn't going off to college, she is living at home for a while while she is IN college. Don't sell her off just two will still be sharing a room.

[to JBug;] You can't live in the basement; we don't have a basement. Besides, we have Basement Cats...there would be no room in the basement.

JBug: JBear will be living in the basement. Playing first-person shooter video games.

Me: Probably. You can live in the ceiling. We don't have a Ceiling Cat.

JBug: ...

Monday, June 06, 2011

Autism is a vampire and it sucks out your soul

Today was promotion Sunday, an annual event through our homeschool group. It is usually a big deal with all the kids going up to receive their promotion certificates, and graduates of both the eighth grade and high school. I don't have any pictures; we barely managed to get there. Today was one of THOSE days. Those who have kids with autism will understand. We just keep on, keeping on, trying not lose ourselves.

My son is twelve, going on sixteen, he thinks. He has a real problem with being told what to do.

every interaction between us seems to go like this:

Me: polite request
Him: protest
me: again,with the polite request
Him: "logical" reason why he should not comply
me: a bit more forceful request
Him: complaints about how I think he is stupid/difficult/it's not his fault, it's mine
me: [frustration ensues...either walk away and take a deep breath or yell]
Him: [depending upon what I do] yells at me, how I am such an idiot and I don't get it..
me: come back,and try again, cajole/plead/explain why he would do whatever it is I wanted him to do in the first place
Him: [grudging compliance]

Part of the problem is that he and my youngest are absolutely oil and water these days. JBean, my youngest, is usually a very happy little girl. Unfortunately, this extends to her high-pitched voice, often singing, or talking, incessantly. It makes my JBear, my son, crazy. He starts lashing out, and getting on edge, and will say mean things to her about can't she just shut up, and her voice is driving him crazy...hurtful things. She doesn't know how to fight back verbally (nor should she learn...he is out of line) so she does one of two things. She will either hit him, or yell at him. Neither of these things are particularly useful in dealing with him, and often make things worse. Where am I, you ask? Probably the bathroom, or taking the dog out, or loading the dishwasher....I cannot be in their face 100% of the time. They have to learn not to aggravate one another. Of course, when there are problems, I am always right there. Often the damage is done.

My son has no remorse. I realize this is part of his autism, no matter how high-functioning it may be. The lack of mirror neurons that allow empathy are definitely a hindrance for him. As a teenager, his cerebral cortex is not quite connected to his brain. He is in fight or flight, all the time...he sees the entire world as against him. He is rarely sorry, and doesn't think he ever does anything wrong. He does not admit mistakes and generally has a self-absorbed entitlement attitude. I did not raise him this way, and am still trying to fix it. Often, I feel like I am banging my head against a wall. I know he is trying...but he just has such a long way to go. I feel like I am not helping him much. I seem to be the problem, as far as he is concerned. He is oblivious to his role in the whole mess.

Today, while I was trying to finish in the kitchen, he was having a hard time with his sister. Everyone ended up yelling at everyone else, and I had had enough. JNerd tries to out yell them, and it doesn't work. I told them all I was not going to live like this anymore; I have had it. We weren't going today, not with the way they were acting. So I decided to take a drive for a bit, to cool down. After about ten minutes, I came back, a bit calmer. Apparently, all hell had broken loose while I was gone. My son had tried to goad my husband into a physical altercation. He hit my husband, as hard as he could. Apparently, it was side-stepped, and I was able to defuse the situation. We ended up going to the ceremony, and everyone was on their best behavior.

When we returned home, I tried talking to my son, and he was not receptive at that point. He hates to be called out on his behavior, and will deflect as much as he can. I stayed calm for the most part, and finally was able to get through to him, for now. Eventually, my son did admit he was wrong, but it was several hours later.

Remember, on top of this, I also deal with a younger one who was diagnosed with autism, as well. She has her own issues, usually pertaining to transitions, change, rigidity, anxiety and MamaMustBeThereAtAllTimes. The worse he gets, the more she clings to me. The more unrest in our home the more she clings to me. She tries so hard, but she has a hard time coping at times. That means relying upon me, more often than not.

I am DRAINED. Exhausted, and really questioning every decision for my children I have made thus far. I am hoping tomorrow will bring more clarity. So tonight, I sleep. And pray and hope that I figure out what I am doing wrong. Autism is hard. Teen boy is hard. Putting the two together: feels insurmountable. My migraines have gotten more frequent and worse. I don't sleep well. I am, so far, staving off the depression that threatens to crush me. (I eat well and exercise, both help) But so help me, if I survive his growth into manhood, I hope it is with my soul intact.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


I have deleted every first sentence I have tried to write for a month. Nothing I write is good enough, witty enough or explains what goes on in my brain enough. I am feeling frustrated...I am well and truly blocked.

So today, I decided I am just going to write, stream of consciousness, and publish. If none of you read it, that's ok with me...I just have to get something out there.


All of your life you have battled perfectionism. The more you succeed, the more pressure you feel to continue succeeding or face the thing you fear most in life: failure. Yes, you know failure is a normal part of the creative process; indeed a normal part of living. And on the surface, you can talk a good game. You Know failure is often the path to success, and that you are not a bad person if you fail. You even know that failure depends upon how you define it. Thomas Edison is purported to have said he didn't fail 99 times creating the light bulb, he simply found 99 things that didn't work, bringing him closer to that thing which would. On the surface, it sounds great. But it doesn't quell the anxiety regarding climbing higher and then going splat when you fall.

If success is a Tree, you are stuck sitting in it, and there is no K.I.S.S.I.N.G there. Eventually, you grew tired of the vertigo when you looked down, so you stopped climbing. Oh, you made some lateral jumps here and there, but you pretty much remain safely ensconced on the sturdiest branch. When you look up, you see, high above, teetering in the wind, that all elusive *SUCCESS*...whatever that looks like. And along the way are some perilous branches that would rather break under your weight than support your journey towards the top. So, like the smart primate you are, you found the most comfortable spot and camped here. While others climbed to the top of their tree, towering above all, you sat. While they mastered the tree, and then whole forests, you sat, content in the safety of where you were. While others planted seedlings that grew into saplings and finally towered over the rest of the arboreal layer, you watched, convincing yourself that where you were was the most comfortable place; chasing dreams was impractical, and with one ill wind they would come crashing to the ground. You could not help feel a small prickling of envy. You shut it out.

So what does that mean? Simply this:

You are tired of working to make other people money. The only money made by "content farms" and "featured blogger" sites is made by the owners of the sites. The money doesn't trickle down to the writers. They work hard and get little in return. Most "Brands" don't have respect for bloggers; they seem to think bloggers will work for nothing. P.R. firms send out mass emails figuring bloggers will jump at whatever meager offer they send , because bloggers are just housewives anyway, and free stuff is cool. They really have no idea what to do with bloggers. Along the way, some P.R. firm will throw a couple of tickets your way that you might not have been given if not for your internet presence, and so you feel validated. At least for a while. You try to maintain your integrity, and only focus on what might be a good "fit" so that the writing is the focus. And you write. Or at least, try to write.

The currency in social media is renown, but it doesn't pay the bills. At the end of the day, what do you have? A blog that everyone knows, sure. Here's the thing: Other sites have steadily eroded the traffic of blogs. Conversations take place across platforms now, and the instant gratification of blog comments is mostly gone for all but a handful of the top bloggers. And what keeps you going? Maybe this post...this idea that you must share...will be the one to catapult you to Internet Fame, and then the endorsements and syndicated column and book deals will come rolling in. Only, it doesn't happen. You've lost sight of why you started writing in the first place; before book publishers even knew blogs existed. You wrote. Because you loved it.

You have been blogging since most of the big names have. Over time, you have watched many of them get book deals, and each time, you died just a bit more inside. You always fancied yourself a writer. At almost 45, you are not saying that anymore. You are just some housewife with an internet connection and a keyboard. Nothing more.

What sets the big players apart? They know something you don't. They have to be visible. They promote themselves. They TELL people how good they are. And the more they say it, the more they believe it, and others believe it, too. They pitch companies and write book proposals. They have a plan. You? You don't work that hard. You only ever wanted to write, not sell yourself. Besides, you were always taught that good girls don't brag on themselves; they let their work do the speaking for them. That's your problem to overcome, and you really haven't. Somewhere deep inside, you still feel like you are not good enough, that you don't deserve what others have And because you cannot get past that hurdle, you cannot succeed.

Which brings you to where you are right now: sitting on the sturdy branch, In a tree that you never really wanted to climb in the first place, with no idea how to get down, resenting those who have mastered the game before you ever even knew the rules.

------------------------ ****

My blog has become a "have to" not a "want to." It has caused my anxiety to rise at the mere thought of trying to type a collection of words and hope they make some semblance of sense. It has become a slap in the face, a reminder of what I have not accomplished. I have no idea how to make it fun again, but I am not willing to abandon it completely. Much like an errant child, or a disobedient dog, deep down, no matter how much it pisses me off, I still love it.

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