Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm So Out of Practice That This Post Has No Title

They say the third time's the charm. I guess we'll find out. Because, after a bit over a year hiatus, I have decided to come back to blogging. When I stopped, I didn't think it would be forever, it would just be until I fixed some things. Well, I fixed those things, and more things needed fixing. And I was going to come back, only, I was happy. Really happy. And the idea of coming back? I was burnt out. I realized that the blog had created a harpy that pretty much capitalized on everything negative.

That's not who I am. So I decided to take a break. A crappy experience at my fourth BlogHer made the decision easy. I don't belong there any longer. And the fact that I wasn't missed and felt a bit sorry for myself made it easy to stay away. Friendships changed, and passed away, writing evolved and seasons changed. I am a different person from when I started. So if I came back to blogging, I had to decide, for whom did I want to write?

As my children grow, so does their need for privacy. The stories aren't mine to tell anymore; they belong to their owners.My children have a presence on the Internet, I have to be respectful of their boundaries as much as possible. This left me with a conundrum: what do I have left to say, if not about them? I have my own stories, it's true. I just had to find them again.

When I started this blog six years ago, we were deep in the throes of autism in our house. The Autism Monster had eaten my children and I first started blogging to make sense of it all. Times change. It wasn't the autism that was me. I have more patience, and I have more tolerance, I think. I missed writing, but I didn't miss who I was becoming through the blog scene. I needed some distance.

I started writing to write. I was never really comfortable with what this medium has become. I don't like selling my soul for products. I am not a shill. And maybe others can get free stuff and not be influenced in their reviews. I could not. Or at least, I was never sure if I could or not. So I decided to just...stop. I dropped all forms of social media for a long time. I stopped writing everywhere.

While I was gone, I thought hard about what I wanted this space to be. And I decided I am not just going to come here and complain. If I need to vent, I will find

a therapist.

I have been there, and done that, and she released me because she decided that under the circumstances, I was doing damn well. So. What I want this space to be is a dynamic, growing changing life record, of sorts. Many things have changed, as you will come to see, if you follow along. Two graduations, some braces, a joy found, a childhood lost...these are the stories. Would you like to follow along? Come back, grab a cup of tea, curl up with your cat, or a comfy pillow, and we'll begin. Again.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

How to get waited on hand and "foot"

My father always said I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. I would have argued with him, but I was too busy falling on my face. Despite my lack of coordination, I have been pretty lucky. I have only ever broken three bones in my lifetime. The first time I broke a bone, I was in my early twenties; it was my ankle. I was taking the stairs two at a time at work, and rolled my ankle, landing on it, from one step to the ground floor. I broke my foot in three places. (My friends' response to that? "Don't go there, anymore!" Get it? Yeah, it wasn't that funny then, either). After that, over the years, I have broken my little toe, twice. The first time, I hit my son's Rescue Heroes fire truck. The second time, I slammed my toe into the Lego table, and I went one way, the toe went the other. Let me just say: "OW."

Honestly, though, when I twisted my ankle this weekend by taking a wrong step from the sidewalk into the flower bed, it really, really hurt. I have spent the last few days icing it and finally went to the doctor on Tuesday because I feared I had broken my foot. Thankfully, I managed to save the iPad from plummeting to the cement in what would have been a certain death. The fall I took instead was a small price to pay, but I paid dearly. The verdict: severe ankle sprain. I actually pulled some tendons. The doctor gave me a brace and I am supposed to gradually start bearing weight on it. But for now, I am mostly confined to the couch with my foot up while everyone else around me is a whirling dervish trying to accomplish what is day-to-day routine for me: cleaning, cooking, taking care of pets, driving kids where they need to go... You would think I am enjoying this, but I can't. I don't do well being waited upon. And I really don't do well watching other people work and not accomplish things to my standards. So I am constantly getting up to do things, and my family is constantly making me sit on the couch again. Very frustrating.

When I do venture off the couch, it's slow going. I can't walk fast at all, I sort of shuffle around, dragging my bad ankle behind me. Right now, I am looking at a least a few weeks of the "zombie shuffle." So much fun. I sit on the couch, and the cat lies down on the blanket next to me. With the walking stick and the cat I am one shark tank away from being a super-villain, I suppose. I would also like a trap door, please.

Still, all is not lost. At least I match my toenails, now. It's something.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Not to Do With Your Underwear

I walked into my hotel room and stopped short. The maid had been there.. The wastebasket had been emptied, the sink was wiped down and the beds had been made. Housekeeping had made another discovery, as well. How embarrassing. My turquoise boy-cut Hanes underwear were on top of my pillow, staring at me.

I was in town for the womens' blogging convention, Blogher. Leaving my hotel room bright and early, I was rushing to get to breakfast and then my next session. That's how Blogher is..there is always somewhere to be, and always five minutes ago. Or maybe that's just me.

I have a terrible habit of leaving my underwear under my pillow at home. My giant dog, who can put her head upon my higher-than-normal bed, has a tendency to steal underwear that are left at the foot of the bed at night. After a few mornings of waking up to find my unmentionables had become a snack, I took aversive action. Into the hamper with those skivvies. She found them there, too. Yum yum. Munch, munch, munch, she said. That's when my underwear ended up under my pillow when I sleep.

So here I was, at the Marriott, 5-star resort, and the housekeeper thinks I am

1) a pig.
2) so drunk I either
A) forgot where I put my underwear
B) got lucky and was so carried away I didn't think about where my underwear were

Unfortunately, the truth is a lot more boring. I didn't get drunk. I certainly didn't have sex with anyone. I simply went on auto-pilot without thinking. It's like when you drive the kids to school everyday and then forget that it's a weekend and you are going to the grocery store and you drive there only you end up halfway to school? Again, just me?

It seems silly, I won't ever see the housekeeping staff again. But I realize...I am so boring. I can't help wishing I had at least had sexier, more interesting underwear. Something hot pink, lacy, racy and thongy? I have those, I just didn't wear them. When you get to be my age, sometimes comfort wins over sex appeal. And since I knew no one would be seeing my underwear but me, I didn't really worry about it. (What comes to mind is the age-old momism, "Did you put on clean underwear? What if you get in an accident??") Instead, the maid not only saw my underwear, she had to touch them.

When I left the hotel room, I cleaned up after myself, picking up trash, making my bed, rinsing out the sink. I checked under the pillow twice. And I left a big tip.

My check-in tip on foursquare: "Check under your pillow so you find your underwear before the maid does," Social media for the win. Don't say you haven't been warned.

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Blogher Recap: The Third Time was the Charm, Four Balls, That's a Walk

This is not the popular opinion, and I feel the need to write a disclaimer. This is my fourth Blogher, and it has treated me well, for the most part, but this year the star didn't shine nearly as brightly as it has in the past..

Back from BlogHer and there is one word that comes to mind for my experience: disconnected. I know, sounds like I had an awful time, but that's not true. What is true is that there were a lot of people at BlogHer, which, at times made it very difficult to find my people. It is true that the first night I came this-close to heading back to my room after cruising The People's Party, saying hi to the scant number of people I recognized, and a few I didn't. Then, feeling like a fish out of water, I flopped on to a nearby bench,where I had a great conversation with someone I had never met. Later I went back to the party, and found people I knew. And it was good.

It's true I spent sessions mostly alone or with new people. It's true that I ate lunch, again, mostly by myself, or with new people. I headed into parties and saw a sea of unfamiliar faces, all of whom were already attached. My wing-woman friends didn't make it this year, so I was on my own to find companionship.. It proved to be a challenge. Because, really, how long can you hang out in a cocktail circle of people you know in real life (but better online) without seeming like some sort of creepy stalkerish person? I can tell you. Exactly ten minutes. Beep. Time to find a new circle. Ever wonder how you can be lonely in a sea of 3000? I do. Everyone is very friendly; but where are your friends? Hopefully, you brought those with you. That sounds pathetic. I don't mean to complain.

I don't want you to feel sorry for me. In some respects, I had a great time. There were high points. I did a lot of dancing with friends, (When I could find them) and hung out in hotel rooms for great conversations with both old friends and at 2 a.m. in the lobby, as well. I had some nice meals with people I basically foisted myself upon (thank you to you, by the way). In outward appearance, I am sure it looked like I was having a grand old time. I did have fun, in snippets. It was just the overall package that didn't work for me. At some point, you get tired of inviting yourself along and just want to be included by someone who wants you there. You want to be expressly invited to dinner, to the party, to wherever, instead of just...tagging along.

On the way home, I had a lot of time to ruminate and I have decided that as much as I like Blogher, that ship has sailed. That martini has been shaken. That blog has been posted. This was Blogher #4 for me, and I think I am just done. I am at that awkward stage: I am too old to drink 'til distraction, but I still like to stay up until the wee hours. I just feel like I have no business there, with the cool kids. I love almost everyone at Blogher, but am a friend to few. I enjoyed seeing people, but as far as deep connections? Few and far between. I felt in the way, a lot. If you fall off the face of social media and no one is there to see it, do you even make a sound? That's where I am right now.

I will continue to blog, and to tweet, but think during the week of Blogher, I will take a sabbatical. I am too old to feel "in the way." High school was a long, long time ago, and wasn't much fun; I really don't cherish reliving it. So I won't be doing that again.

Ever want to feel like the only girl in the room? Go to Blogher by yourself. The experience will trigger every insecurity you have ever felt. And you will find just how far you have yet to go in order to feel accepted.

Friday, August 05, 2011

So Blocked This Post Has NO Title

It's like when you get constipated. You have the urge, but can't do the purge. The problem is not that I don't have ideas. I am so clogged up with ideas that one can't make it through the pipeline. I can't seems to narrow my focus or lessen my stress enough to actually get something of *import down on paper. I read others' blog posts and think, "I could have written that! I had that thought, I just didn't take it to fruition.

I think I need my Eighth grade english teacher. She is the one who taught me to write. She gave me permission to develop my voice; I believed that what I had to say was important, and it was. Of course, later that year, she leaned over me, took a big sniff, smelled the acrid second-hand smoke that I was marinated in from my mother smoking in the house and said, with disdain: "Do you smoke?" She was loud enough for some of my classmates to hear, and they snickered. Yes, she wasn't named Mrs. Dick for nothing. True story. But the damage was done; I believed I could write. It was in my blood.

My daughter is also a writer, and a more prolific one than I was at her age. I would write what I called "story starters," pen several tens of pages of my "novel", then either get stuck or bored and intend to go back and add to it. Sometimes I actually did. My daughter, on the other hand, has done a program for writers called, NoNoWriMo, which is simply National Novel Writing Month. In one month, she has written 50,000 words. And not only has she done this once, but twice. I could only hope to have that kind of commitment.

Why is it that when you are young, with nary a story to tell, the pen flows freely, almost on it's own, but once older and with more experience, it is much harder to find the time to tell the story? I consider this God's cosmic joke. I know I have a story to tell. I just can't FIND it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pity, Party of One, your table is ready

I haven't been very funny lately. I know, I know. you come to this space to find the tongue-in-cheek witticisms to distract you from life, and I have been letting you down. in my defense, things aren't hilarious right now. And, since this space is all about me, it's well, all about me.

What changed, you ask? From the fight with the spider to zombie conversations...what made life So Serious? About a week ago, I realized: This is My Life. Just like that. I actually see it in caps. this is what I live. It is what it is, and it won't really get any better. I won't write the Great American Novel. I won't be rich, or glamorous. I won't rise to the top of the glass ceiling. I know, that doesn't seem that important, and I really don't want to conquer Corporate America. But I still want the option.

When you are young, the world is your oyster. Pearls are there for the taking. At twenty, you aren't a bestselling's ok, there's time. In your forties, Time Is Running Out. You're old. You're washed up. You're irrelevant. Leave it to the youngsters, they have more energy, and why don't you just go and find yourself a nice rocking chair there by the fire? Yeah. NO.

I am usually a fairly positive person, though I bitch a lot. I can always find the "blessing" (how I hate that pious it seems, but really, no better word can be found) in the mess. There is always a silver lining. For example: In 2006, we had a house fire. The structure was still standing, but we lost damn near everything.

We had to move out into a rental for six months, with little more than the clothes on our backs. We found ourselves wandering WalMart at midnight on a Sunday because it was the only store open, and we needed underwear, people! How do you put your life back together after that? We had to buy clothes, and pajamas, and toothbrushes and and and. I was in shock. It was awful. I would never wish the experience upon anyone. BUT. And here is where I am crazy: I was blessed. My faith increased, my family became closer, I learned gratitude. I started over. Now I try to keep only those things that as William Morris put it, " find to be useful or believe to be beautiful." And my house was completely redone, from top to bottom. For the first time, I had real bedroom furniture! And dishes that I didn't inherit from my mother! And a home that was completely my style, and brand new everything! And that was the silver lining. I didn't blog about it, the emotions were too raw. In fact, I didn't blog at all for almost two years. That experience helps to keep it all in perspective.

Cut to this last Sunday: I had one of the worst days that I can remember. Right now, JNerd is out of town, along with JBug. It's just me and the two youngers, fending for ourselves. Sunday afternoon, our cat started yowling and lying on the ground. He wouldn't walk, and something was wrong. So to the ER vet we went. Verdict: urinary blockage. LIFE-THREATENING emergency. Exactly the reason that vets exist. The vet needed to do some things that required sedating the cat, so I took the kids to Taco Bell for a quick bite. When I went to start the car, my battery was dead. I had to call AAA to come jump it, and hope that, since it was after hours and I couldn't call the vet, they would be understanding in case I was late. (thankfully, they were, and I wasn't). Because the battery was dead, I had to keep the car running while I picked up the cat. Environment be damned. I wasn't going to get stuck there...I had a sick cat to get the after-hours clinic for overnight treatment. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you have pumped gas with the engine running for fear if you shut it off you will be stranded.

Finally got home after 9 p.m. and my kids were a wreck. Tucked them in. Made myself a drink and opened my laptop to find: nothing. The screen was black, but I could hear it was on. I tried a whole lot of tech support stuff ("Did you turn it off and one again??") but it was unresponsive.

So, a recap.. cat, battery, computer. It comes in threes right?

My point, people, and I DO have one... that day sucked. The next day sucked as I had to get up at the buttcrack of dawn to get the cat from the Night ER vet to my regular vet. Thankfully, I had my husband's car. Once I did that, I had to get my van to Costco so that they could explain to me why my battery had failed after less than two years. Turns out Costco doesn't install or remove batteries, but it doesn't matter because we don't have yours in stock right now anyway ma'am and there's an auto store down the street that can probably help you, have a nice day. Well. Fine.

I drove my van, which by some miracle started, to Pep Boys (who I cannot say enough nice things about, you guys!) Bought my battery. They took pity on the poor married lady who was abandoned by her husband for greener conventions, and took one look at the small ragamuffin in tow who was heat-bedraggled, and had me in and out of there in fifteen minutes! Fifteen minutes! New battery, yay! And, Costco gave me a full refund on my battery that failed.

When I finally got home, and was reflecting upon the events of the last coupIe of days, and it was all feeling a bit like being pecked to death by ducks. Then it hit me... (here is where I get all treacly) I really am blessed. Talk about First World Problems! We had enough money and resources to treat our sick cat. I have an auto club so that I don't get stranded when I have a problem. I have an extra car so that I could get my cat and not rely upon the kindness of my friends. I have enough money to get a new battery, and the resources to get it installed. I am rich compared to much of the world. That thought shut me up. I really have nothing to complain about. No one is dying. These are all transitional worries. I realize how obnoxious this sounds. Who really appreciated when Dad said, "Eat your peas, there are children starving in Africa?" And honestly, I got smacked when I once retorted, "Well, then, send the peas to THEM!" (made sense at the time) I am not telling you to eat your peas. I'm really not. I am telling myself. I am reminding myself that though I just turned forty_ahem is not over. Life is still beautiful. My body may be changing, and my youth may be fading, but life is still good. Life is always good. Sometimes I just forget it for a bit.

As I write this, the cat is still at the vet, and will probably be ok. It will just be expensive. And I hate having to spend the money. But I love the fact that I have the resources to make the decisions that are required. I am not loaded monetarily by any means. It will be a stretch and we may eat cheese sandwiches for dinner for a bit. (more or less) but I am rich, in all the ways that count. And that revelation? Is priceless.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Homeschooling is not what you do, it's how you live

As the school year winds down, I am reminded of an exchange I had recently with a colleague. We were discussing our blogs and our families, and school came up. “Oh, that’s right, you homeschool. When do you finish?”

That question took me by surprise, not because it was asked, but because I wasn’t sure how to answer it. I mentioned something about summer, and how we had activities planned, and changed the subject. I don’t think she even noticed. The truth is, I never “finish.”

You know that awkward review time that teachers have for the first couple of months after summer break? Where they can’t really teach anything new for fear the kids don’t remember what they were taught the year before? I don’t have that. I learned long ago that my kids don’t retain much over the summer if we take a 2 or 3 month break. So? We don’t break.

We scale back, maybe. Do less than we would normally, but we keep on keeping on. And my kids progress. Don’t get me wrong, we do all the fun things over the summer that you do. We go to the park. We go to the beach. We swim. We just do our school first. And sometimes, we even do it at those places. It keeps my kids in a routine, and when it comes to autism, routines are good.

If I gave my son a months’ long break? I would never get him back into schoolwork again. He is all about what he always does and a week of the same thing means it's a habit. He needs that structure. If I allowed my little one to take a break that long? We would lose much of the ground gained in her reading and math. She continues to see her speech and reading tutor throughout the summer. She also does vision therapy.

I suppose my oldest would be fine; but I have never had to push her academically. She pushes herself hard enough for the both of us. But she putters around and will finish her Psychology and get a jumpstart on her math for next year. I also expect she will pre-read some of the books for her government class next year to make it a bit easier.

How does year-round school work, you ask? Don’t the kids get burnt out? Not really. For once, we don’t worry about taking a break here and there. I take a break for almost a month around the holidays. (we always keep our foot in something, to keep up routine) and if we want to take off on an impromptu visit to the grandparents in another state for a week, we can. If we travel, we can throw in some area history, or a museum visit.

Here’s the thing: homeschooling isn’t just schooling at home. It’s a way of life. It’s a way of looking at life, to see what you can learn. Every experience can teach us something. My daughter learned to count at the grocery store. My son learned about life science through gardening. Is it more work to live this way? I don’t think so. I am actually one of the least-motivated people you will meet, to be honest.

I attend homeschool conventions and think, “When would I have time to do that? Formal planning doesn’t work really well here. At the beginning of the year, I do a master lesson plan for each child. We rarely finish it on the schedule I set. That’s not the point. The plan is the point. And we eventually do get done with those books, and those lessons and that plan. We just move on to the next plan. I am a learner. I am happiest when I am learning. I want my children to discover that joy of “Aha! I didn’t know that!” Showing them that learning is a way of life is how I do it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Clicky Web Analytics