Damn this Presidential Race!

Every time I take a coffee break I turn on the election. Every time I eat a meal I turn on the election. Every time I take a coffee and chocolate break I turn on the election. I’m getting fat from this election. But who can resist the cheap theater? And I said I wasn’t going to talk about politics.

New Year’s Resolution Dissolution

I made a 2016 New Year’s resolution to be nicer this year. Like I used to be. Of course that all ended with a predictably snarky comment I made on January 2nd. I can’t repeat it, but let’s just say it was a slightly cruel criticism of an acquaintance. The kind of comment I wouldn’t want my daughter to hear. I cracked it like I was superior or something. I shared the joke with my husband and we both got a cackle out of my pithy observation even though I knew my laughter instantly made me a phony two-face. Of course, I’m sure people make fun of me all the time but that’s beside the point. This individual was the innocent butt of my joke. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve my derision, (he really is an ass) but I should’ve kept it to myself until at least 2017. BTW, all politicians are exempt from my failed resolution.

I feel doubly guilty about my habitual snark because I am doubly guilty. I made a similar promise during the Jewish High Holidays not to be two-facey or hypercritical of other people. But I can’t help myself. It must be my muted self-flagellation that compels me to insult others. (And the fact that it’s fun.) Anyway, I promised God I wouldn’t be bitchy this year. Or as bitchy, and I prayed He/She would hear me. I want to be inscribed in the Book of Life because I am deathly afraid of death. Classic thanatophobia.

What a disgrace to blow two opportunities—two New Years—to be kind. Blowing it doesn’t give me full reign however, to be my true self the rest of the year. (My mother would argue that I’m not really that mean.) I’m still going to try to be less annoyed with people. I’m going to try to be more loving, empathetic, and patient. The way I try with my family. (Especially my teenagers.) After much self-analysis I’ve figured out that if I didn’t beat myself up so often–about parenting, caregiving, wifely duties, spaciness, bad time management skills, etc.–I wouldn’t be so mean. (My mother disagrees with my daughter about my level of meanness.) It was a tough year but I shouldn’t take it out on others. All that’s going to get me is another lecture from my persistently jolly husband. Blech.

I’ve actually come up with another New Year’s resolution. And it’s not a sanctimonious one. I’m going to practice what I preach to my kids about having a positive attitude. I’m not saying I have to bask in a sunny disposition, (my mother would argue that I already have one) I would just like to redevelop an outlook on life that reflects positivity, good will, and strength. Seriously. I’ll repeat to my soul what my mother repeated to me over and over and over again when I was young: Make lemonade out of lemons, (that one’s annoying) don’t try to control what happens to you, but rather your reaction to it, and have the wisdom to recognize the flow and then go with it. Maybe I could actually flow with kindness. Nah. The one thing about a resolution is reality. Only promise yourself what you can deliver. Happy New Year, and best of luck with your resolutions.

‘Tis the Season

I haven’t written a ‘Tis the Season blog in over four years because I was dazed by my autistic son’s puberty, seizures, and behaviors. But our situation with Josh has greatly improved. (Oh, how I hope I’m not tempting fate.) So I would especially like to thank my blessings this year and give praise to the phrase, “This Too Shall Pass.” I’m happy to say I’m grateful that:

1) Josh and I didn’t fall apart when his twin sister went off to college. (Okay, that’s a lie. I fell apart.) Josh is low-functioning and non-verbal but he has a very high EQ. He senses that his connection with “Sissy” is permanent and unconditional. I wanted her to go to school on another coast so she wouldn’t worry about him so excessively. Her fears wouldn’t be as immediate. But she didn’t fly away, she chose a college close by because after all it was her decision and not mine, etc. I’m secretly thrilled, (okay, not secretly) about her choice.

2) He’ not as aggressive. It could have been his meds, it could have been puberty, but whatever it was he’s not unkind to us anymore. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde days are over. (For the most part.) Josh’s sweet, playful personality is back and we can take him out in the community again for extended periods. Especially to restaurants. I’d love to blame my weight gain on him but I’m pretty sure it’s all the cookies and candy I hide in my closet.

3) He still likes me. And not just because I’m Mom and he needs me. He recognized in some intuitive way that I couldn’t handle any extra trauma last year. He had most of his seizures safely at home rather than on the pavement at school. And I wasn’t as stressed when we just sat in his man cave/therapy room together and watched his favorite Teen Nick shows. Over and over and over again. I’ve memorized every single episode of Drake and Josh, Victorious, Zoey101, and iCarly that has ever been produced. I’m going to contact the network and tell them we deserve a frequent viewing card.

4) We have renewed hope about his epilepsy. He might not be a candidate for another brain surgery, but after two seizure labs and guidance from some exceptional neurologists we are exploring new avenues. We might even consider getting Josh a service dog. If our Alpha cat will allow it. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll be the designated dog walker when it’s 5 degrees outside.

5) I had Thanksgiving at my house again. Like other ASD parents I’ve experienced some painful holiday dinners. Two years ago I just leaned over at the table and broke down in front of my guests. All it took was a well-meaning comment from my mother. She had observed Josh going nuts for about two hours. “Shelley, if anyone can handle it honey, you can.” Um, no, not really. It had been an evening of Mr. Hyde. Josh circled the table shrieking, he knocked glasses over, and he chased after me with teeth bared. He took his therapy room apart and couldn’t self-calm. There wasn’t a single minute when everyone was together at the table at the same time. We had to take turns driving him around just so we could eat. At least it wasn’t like the year before when he set off my mother’s burglar alarm between bites of lime jello and green bean casserole. The police officer lectured him on her front lawn. “Son, we don’t set off alarms unless we have to.” (I didn’t tell him Josh had set off two fire alarms the week before.) “Do you understand me?” Um, no, not really. My kid couldn’t stop grinning and I was mortified. (God, how I wish aides worked on holidays.) But it’s okay. I finally learned about wine, and I am truly grateful. Good luck to all of you this holiday season, and may our new year be merry and bright!

Multiples Illuminated

The holidays make it difficult to concentrate on anything, (except shedding unwanted pounds) so I’m relieved I could submit a piece for this book before I decked the halls or lit a menorah. Thank you Megan Woolsey and Alison Lee for including my essay. I’m proud to be part of such a distinguished group of writers, and of one of your literary projects. I hope I’m able to meet you one day and thank you in person!

(So much to blog, so little time. Hope everyone has a great week!)







With Terror, It’s Always Something

Whenever I think I can’t take any more coverage of the events in Paris there’s another personal story or vital bit of information that folds me back in. I turn on the news, absorb the latest melancholy music the network has created for the present tragedy, and stay magnetized to the TV until it’s just too scary to watch.

9/11 was dark and tragic too, but this terror event feels different. Ominous, immediate, and personal. Ironic when you consider that the crimes were committed so far away. The grief seems so close you could touch it. The horror of 911 was colossal and difficult to grip until you had something personal to hold in your hand. For me it was learning about all the loving messages that fathers, sons, wives, daughters, cousins and close friends left on their cellphones to loved ones before they perished. It still hurts to think about the hundreds of whispered I Love You’s. Only the heroics and bravery of those who sacrificed their lives make it bearable.

I remember saying to my mother several years ago, “I bet you’re glad your generation didn’t experience anything as awful as what we’re going through.” She said, “Are you kidding? We lived through WWII, Duck and Cover, The Cuban Missile Crisis . . . . .” Okay, I got what she was saying. The Nazis might not have been labeled as terrorists back then but they did terrify. So did the leaders with their hands on the trigger. She said, “Shelley, every generation has something.”

I suppose in the dark ages terrorism didn’t always take human form. The perpetrator could’ve been just as cruel, unpredictable, and petrifying though. The Plague literally brought people to their knees. The ruthlessness of fervent conquerors, and the advent of relentless warfare and pillagings and programs and ethnic cleansings were equally terrifying. I just wish today’s inhumanity didn’t seem so effortless and widespread. I just wish that today’s terrorist didn’t seem so invulnerable. It’s frightening that a handful of people control the fates of so many. The gloating makes their brutality even more painful.

My daughter will probably contact me thirty years from now and ask me if I’m grateful my generation never had to experience what hers was going through. Only she’ll be contacting me from Mars, frightened and fretting over the intergalactic warfare that’s threatening her red planet. She’ll tell me that she wishes she could beam herself out of there into a safe place and time. Does any exist? Every generation has their something. I just pray our something will pass.