Susan's Blog

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dis and Dat

Conversation at my table right now:
“John is another name for a toilet, you know.” –Ben
“Ha ha ha ha, really?”–his friend, M
[munch munch munch on chocolate cookies — ah, the smell!]
“Is Mr. Dumb here?”
“Ha ha ha ha ha”
“Is Doncha here? Doncha Want Me To Poop On Ya?”
“Is God here? Gotta Fart?”
“Let’s go upstairs and play.”
[they exit, leaving lots of milk and zero cookies behind them]

I just love the nine-year-old mind.

Speaking of which, here, FYI, is the column I did in today’s paper. It’s chock full of local minutiae so it might not be too accessible to everyone, but there’s a couple of good chuckles, I think.

Everybody, Everywhere

Ad hoc, ad loc
Quid pro Quo
So little time
So much to know.
–The Nowhere Man, Yellow Submarine

Here is an article written by one of my closest friends. We have been activists together in our town and schools for more than ten years. I am so proud of how she manages to push consistently for her issues, and yet still remains a credible member of our School Committee and town. Sometimes her work may irritate people, as does mine. But we cheer each other on, and remind each other that it is not often a comfortable place, being an advocate for change.

It is hard work, calling people’s attention to something they don’t want to think about (they have their own crap to think about, after all) and trying gently to get them to care about one more thing. And not hate you for bearing that message! Everyone’s got their full plate, plus the newspapers add a second helping of stuff to worry about, so it is a lot to expect others to automatically care about our issues. I am convinced that people need to hear things, the same things, many, many times in different formats before they start to really absorb a message that is not of natural interest to them. I confess that issues other than disability take a while to get my attention. I think to myself, “Jeez, now I have to care about that?” when some new news item pops up. Well, that’s how the issue of disability comes across to those who don’t know from it. So it is up to us to find novel ways to grab some of that precious bandwidth and ultimately get others to care and do something to help.

One of my goals with this blog is to encourage you all to become a little publicly active in your situations, whether you are a parent of a child with a disability or a person with a disability. Or if you grapple with some other thing that draws you to these pages. (An overarching, deeper goal of mine is to encourage and exhort you to be who you are, proudly (whether autie, aspie, mommy, tinker, tailor, soldier, spy, bellydancer…)). The best thing you can do for yourself probably is to find a constructive way to express what goes on in your particular life and relate it to something larger out there. When you find and articulate that connecting point, you stand the chance of opening someone else’s eyes and making them think. Causing people to think about something anew and afresh is how you change the world, and God knows, it could use a few tweaks (no offense to God Above but, come on!). Gather with a few other parents and exchange stories; if you have a little more energy, start a group with them. Or write a letter to the editor; call your state rep. Talk about it, make your case special. The act of talking/writing/expressing constructively is cathartic and eye-opening. And we cannot go through this one life we are given with our eyes and mouths shut. There is too much to be done.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Home Wasn’t Built in a Day

If you plant ice, you’re gonna harvest wind.
–GFD, Roll Away the Dew

Sometimes even a big guy needs a little nap… Max is putting in a lot of academic hours these days, what with an honors physics final today, and the state’s science test (the infamous MCAS) in a week. He came home yesterday and was just kind of hanging out with me, chatting while I finished up making reservations in Colorado(! Thanks to everyone who wrote me with ideas and suggestions and encouragement. We now have an aide who is going with Nat, so there will be an extra level of support. Ned has set me loose with two guidebooks and a map, and I have planned a great trip!)

In this picture, I was telling Max about where we were going to go in Colorado. “Cool,” he would answer. Eventually, though, he grew quiet and when I looked up, I saw he was sleeping. I IM’ed Ned (the one person I like IMing with because he never overdoes it and he goes slow) and told him, “Little Little is asleep!” He said to take a picture, so I did. Max didn’t even wake up!

When Max visits with me like that it makes my heart beat a little faster. I feel almost lightheaded with happiness that he wants to sit and talk to me. At times like that, it is so unforced and easy, with him just raising topic after topic while I work on my computer. I think perhaps he chooses those times subconsciously because I am not looking at him intently so it is less intense for him.

I guess that when my boys are adults they might look back and say how overly intense Mom was, how super-attached to them I was. Then again, sometimes I worry that I am not attached enough, because I need my space and I take it. Maybe they’ll say how uneven Mom was, thank God Dad was so steady! Or maybe they’ll think I was a lot of fun to be around, like my family, who are not all that steady in their moods, but mostly a real delight to be around.

But I just am what I am. C’est ca. I work around the boys, I nap in the middle of the living room while they talk and play. But I also just grab them and kiss them whenever I feel like it and they don’t seem to mind, or maybe they just think, “Yeah,that’s Mom.” Benj will say, “Mom, just call me Ben!” (instead of Little B or Beastie) and I’m trying, I really am! Ben is really growing up. Today we had an actual conversation about autism, about who in our lives is and who isn’t. He attended long enough for me to explain that there are different types, different levels, and that Nat has it a real lot, and that it is all about how your nerve cells (brain cells, whatever) are taking in information differently. I had the chance to reiterate that Nat is not stupid, as Ben would like to think, but that he has trouble getting out the right words and gets overloaded with stimuli. Ironically, Ben gets extremely upset if we use the wrong word or get a fact wrong or can’t guess what he’s talking about; but he himself is very careless with words and often not tuned into what we’re talking about. I try to use those moments when he is upset with me for that, to hammer the point home that this is how it feels for me! This is how it feels for Nat! Ben’s therapist says to use those moments to teach him. We do. But it takes a long time. We’re just planting the seeds; someday we’ll have a harvest. Provided I don’t under-water or over-fertilize.

Trying to build a family where everyone’s needs count, where everyone’s happy, takes a long time. But it is so worth the effort.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I M Wondering…

I think that email, I.M., and txt msging are all very satisfying to use in their own way, but they also have their limitations and there is an etiquette involved. The etiquette is different from face-to-face or phone conversations. I am fascinated with various forms of interacting and I wonder what it is that makes the differences.

Take the difference between a driving encounter and a face-to-face encounter. In our cars we are often by ourselves or just a loved one or two, and we feel completely sealed off from others. I think many of us (I am including me, unfortunately) kind of become someone else behind the wheel. I swear a lot more than in real life, for one thing. It seems that being closed off behind metal and glass I feel stronger and safer and yet, at the same time, more defensive and offensive. I assume the worst of people; someone who is going too slow is perhaps doing it to teach me a lesson? Someone who is tailgating me is giving me a message to go faster? I almost never think, “Oh, she is lost, so she is going too slow.” Or “He is nearsighted; or has no sense of distance; or he’s merely trying to read my bumper sticker.” Or is unaware of what he is doing. These days I am so aware of my bitchy driving habits (because my children and husband seem to tense up in the car when I drive) that I am trying harder to breathe, breathe, breathe.

In terms of email and IM, I find I love using email but I hate IM. I hate the intrusive immediacy of IM. You hardly get a chance to collect your thoughts when they have sent yet another under-capitalized message. Sometimes a whole new chain of conversation has started on their end and you’re still answering the first. It can get very confusing. Also, if you are silent for a while, they say, “Hello?” which always seems a little sad to me. Sometimes I’m just thinking! But the etiquette is such that you have to say, “hold on…” or something like that.

And how do you end an IM session? Sometimes the other person is deep into their thing with you and you realize Jon Stewart is on or your sweetheart is going up to bed and you absolutely must go to sleep at the same time or one will wake up the other. So many times, the other person is just chock full of I-Mergy and I am trying to break in, the way you can in a normal face-to-face conversation. One person I know was so oversensitive on IM that the minute I paused to think he would say, “Are u there?” And by the way, I also hate the abbreviations. I am too old and cranky to do that kind of stuff, I guess.

Recently Max showed me how to txt in my phone. Now that is really energy/time consuming! But I was having a “conversation” with someone and he stopped in the middle! The next day I asked him what was up and he said he had fallen asleep. In the middle of txting! Not even a gdnght. Is that rude, or is that the nature of txting? I have to ask Max.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Now That Takes the Cake

Look at what Max discovered, and Ned just blogged! And we thought we were so good. My big question is, who got to eat it?? What is that fondant stuff, anyway? Why mix in raspberry or orange flavors? Doesn’t everyone know that you should not mix fruit with chocolate, it clashes! But still, oh wow, is this genius!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

With Feelin’

All you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar.
–Arlo Guthrie, Alice’s Restaurant Massacree

Here is a good letter you all can copy and adapt to whatever situation is going on where you live. The only way to make changes is to make the changes happen. I am not Yogi Berra; this is true. One good way to raise consciousness is to write for your local paper. Raise the issues that piss you off. If you see school officials dissing special education, object. Tell the public instead about all the good special education does. Tell them any positive growth your own child has had because of your town’s efforts. Tell them people are not being “overdiagnosed,” they are now being picked up before they would otherwise slip through the cracks.

To the Editor:

I hope that there was a different context to [insert elected official or school administrator’s name] comments on special education (SPED) costs last meeting. It sounded as if the school department is beating up on special education, and the special needs families feel that as an extra hardship in their lives. What’s more, it makes no sense at all legally to imply we are not going to be able to sustain these cost increases much longer. We are legally required to. We are morally required to.

I’d like to see exactly where the SPED money goes as well, all the good it does. But the way it is presented in the budget time and again it is one big category, “Special Education.” Special Education is many many things: aides, adapted curricula, speech/language pathologists, reading specialists, learning center teachers, private placements, behavioral specialists, psychologists, excellent programs like [insert program name here], and the list goes on and on. I have been saying for years that what there should be is a presentation of the many different programs in special education and the good they have done. But [so-and-so’s] comments made it sound as if the school department resents those programs and their costs. By the way, why not the same breast-beating over the 12-15% increases in healthcare insurance for educators and town workers?

I would suggest that you try to set it right for your constituents and colleagues.

Sincerely [Disappointedly, I’m-Going-To-Run-Against-You-Next-Election],
You, the outraged.

There’s power in the pen, right? And there’s power in numbers. It’s like what Arlo Guthrie said:

You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him.

And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them.

And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? They may think it’s an organization!

And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day . . . walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? Friends, they may think it’s a MOVEMENT, and that’s what it is: THE ALICE’S RESTAURANT ANTI-MASSACREE MOVEMENT! . . . and all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar. With feelin.’

Cape Cod Boys

Cape Cod boys they got no sleds, heave away! Heave away!
They go down hills on codfish heads
We are bound for Australia.
–Old Folk Song, I know the Weavers’ version

We snuck out at 8:30 last night to beat the Memorial Day traffic. I had the car loaded and ready by the time Max got back from Pirates 3 and our pizza had been digested. We breezed through Boston and the former Big Dig and sailed down 93 to Route 3, and only had some hassles around Duxbury where you lose a lane (the famous Massachusetts-type merge).

No traffic getting onto The Bridge except for a bunch of slow, awed drivers who were searching for their lost rotary (the one Mitt Romney got rid of, his one smart move as former governor). This was probably a lot of people’s first time onto The Cape since last summer, and the infamous Sagamore Bridge Rotary is no more.

Got to M & D’s house in no time, most of us nodding off inside the lulling car. A little bit of Arab music kept me awake for the final push and we rattled into the screened porch and on into the lovely little house. Nat grinning from ear to ear. Our summer was nearly here.

And this morning, my favorite thing in the whole world: waking up to a shiny blue sky on Cape Cod. I rode bikes with Max, saw the ocean, and got back to eager guys who also needed to get to that beach. Threw together some PB&J; for N, M, and B, and tuna for Nat and me, and Ned picked up snax at the Superette.

No lines, and the park ranger let us in free.

So we spent 3 1/2 hours by the sea, even went in because it was so hot — but the water was frigid! Still, Ben got used to it and played in the waves. I just basked in it all.

And now summer has officially begun.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good Teachers Make the World Go Round

Benj’s third grade teacher was also his second grade teacher. They kept the classs together for two years because they had done so well with her and third grade curriculum was new to her. She is a total youngster, young enough to be my daughter, yet she was a pro from the start. She is very centered, very wise, and a lovely woman, too. Libby is getting married at the end of this school year, so the parents decided to throw her a bridal shower that the kids could be a part of.

I am one of the room parents, so I went with another mom to Tiffany’s and we bought her champagne flutes and a crystal apple with the money we had collected from the parents. We also got decorations (a white lace parasol, rose petals, candy kisses, fake gold rings for all the kids!) and we decorated the beautiful cafeteria. That is not an oxymoron. I say “beautiful cafeteria” with all seriousness. The kids’ school is the pride of the town, built in the early 1990’s to replace a falling down old thing. This whole part of town was renewed because of the school and the dynamo principal who reigned for as many years. It is a gorgeous building, designed by architect Graham Gund to fit in with the 19th century neighborhood, so it is brick, lots of windows, and a slate roof! The cafeteria is a renovated carriage house, also from the 19th century, with long palladian windows all around it. So we were able to make a beautifully decorated place for her, all white streamers and stuff.

The kids were so excited and we all hid and yelled “Surprise” when she came in! Her fiance was also there. We had cake and juice and I wrote a song for her:

Lovely Libby
(sung to the tune of โ€œLovely Rita,โ€ by The Beatles)

Lovely Libby
Where would we be without you?
We gave you our kids
Such things you did with them!

Met her when
They were just tiny
Thought her smile was always shiny
Told her we would really like her to teach them again

Got her for third
We knew we’d made it
Our kids’ success was truly fated
Sitting in the classroom with Ms. Brent, too!

Oh, Lovely Libby
Nothing can come between us
We move to grade four
We’ll always adore — YOU!!

I think she was very pleased with the whole thing. I know we have been more than pleased with her. She has taken Ben by the hand and gently led him into academic and social success. She understands him, she adores him, and she doesn’t take any crap from him, either. I will really miss her when he starts fourth grade and I know deep down in his little tough guy heart, Ben will, too. Good teachers make the world go round.

God is a Libra

Do other people feel lucky this time of year? I look out the green-filled window, the trees outlined in early morning sunlight and I feel such a strong sense of wellbeing and possibility. There’s a mild, pleasant pressure in my middle which I believe is the physiological expression of anticipation. In other words: yay, spring!

Yesterday was a solidly wonderful day. People say, “When it rains, it pours,” and that is so true. Why is it that a day like that is filled with fun and happy surprises, and other days are just such drek? Randomness of the universe? I think that’s a pretty inefficient way to run things, myself. If I could advise God, I would tell Him/Her/* that he needs to step in every now and then and set things right, stick to his plan. But perhaps God is a Libra, and also experiences shifts and multiple points of view? The more I think about it, this must be the case, because of the utter beauty of the world, and also the utter chaos and flakiness. And of course, there is the delphinium, which is not only proof that God exists, but that * is deeply steeped in a knowledge of Beauty. (Note to readers: just because I, too, am a Libra, please don’t construe that I am becoming manic. It is only that I am most familiar with this sign, it being my own, and thus my construct of God would fit most easily with that, with what is in my own head. We all have to imagine God based on our own minds, to some degree.)

Enuf of dat! I ain’t no theologian, for God’s sake. I was merely trying to express how taken I am, year after year, with late May. Why is it so lovely? Why? What’s the Point? So I figure, the Point is, to make us gasp in delight every so often just that we are alive. We get to see this, we get to live this. Pity the Martians, who have to live on some reddish, rocky thing all year round. Sure, they think it’s beautiful. But we know they are wrong. And they are all Aries, by the way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it is the opposite of Libra.

I have not flipped my lid, I am just sitting here drinking that coffee of mine, making myself laugh even before my eyes have de-puffed. I am happy for a few reasons, unrelated to the soft green light outside.

First of all, I had a long talk with Dad yesterday, one of our finest in a while, where he did his Dad thing and said stuff like, “This is a golden opportunity for Nat! Wow, how great for him! I’m jealous.” And “You guys — it almost doesn’t matter which ruins you see, which town you’re in — you are going to have the time of your life because it will be so different from what you always do!” And “You and Laura also didn’t want to do things; we just made you try them and then you were glad you did.” He made me laugh and smile and feel strong.

Second, I found an aide to go with Nat to his camp, one of our longtime sitters, a former teacher of his, a very dear girl (well, she is a woman, actually) who loves my kids, zits and all. She is excited to do this, and she will provide us with that extra level of support and that familiar tie to home for Nat.

Third, I taught a bellydance class for the first time. A friend of mine teaches in a local studio and she asked me to round up some friends to do intro to bellydance, so I did. Only three of them came, in the end, but those three were so into it! I had written up a lesson plan and burned a class CD, and so I was fully prepared. All I wanted to do was give them the joy of bellydance, the understanding that this is different from many things we have been exposed to because there is so much body acceptance involved, and a few basic moves. I brought hip scarves and veils and showed them some basic isolations and traveling steps, and also the principal of intro, middle, and end of a dance piece.

We had so much fun. We went out to dinner afterwards, to a local restaurant I have never been to, but have wanted to try. We had drinks and appetizers for dinner, and a really nice time. We were all in our bellydance clothes and even kept on our hipscarves, because they were so excited to be wearing them. There is something magical and empowering about tying one of those around your hips. You automatically feel like a different person, a dancer. Confident, strong, beautiful.

The owner of the studio then asked me to teach a series of classes next time! I am so excited about that. I have been studying this religiously for a year now, which doesn’t seem all that long for becoming a teacher, but maybe it is enough for conveying the most important aspects of Raks Sharki, bellydance: there is no right and wrong, only better form. Perhaps God, with all the inconsistencies and ups and downs and startling beauty in the Universe, is also a bellydancer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More Keys to the Universe

Keys to the universe are no-fail items or activities that always, always either do what they are supposed to do or always, always make me happy.

1) Pepto Bismol. When you eat like a freak, the way I do, it’s a wonderful thing to have around.
2) Gel nails. They last two weeks and cost the same as a regular manicure.
3) Atkins Endulge chocolate caramel candy bar. Tastes just like a Snickers but is only 2 grams carb. See item #1, however, if you eat more than one!
4) Fage yogurt. It tastes like sour cream (mmmmmmm) but is no fat and only 3 grams carb. a serving. You get it at Trader Joe’s.
5) Putting on belly dance costumes.
6) Book contracts.
7) My push lawn mower. Works great, needs no stupid gas, and my boys can mow the lawn with it without injury, knock wood.
8) Working out with R. Always full of laffs and gozz about town politics.
9) The Middle East in Cambridge, of course.
10) Catmint and sedum. They grow anywhere and look pretty.
11) Kissing any one of the following faces: Nat, Max, Ben.
12) Helping a parent whose kid is newly diagnosed figure things out
13) Realizing my children have good senses of humor
14) Ned’s poetry (it is rare but it is incredible)

Going BLah-less

I am feeling a little better today. I appreciated all the comments on my previous post, encouraging me to go ahead with our original plan, and one person, I think is was Em’s Mom (lucky Em!) suggested I send an aide along with Natty Boy/Man. So I’m asking his teachers, but of course that would mean they would have to take off a week of work. D’oh. I need to find some good respite types again, since I am no longer relying on Mr. Maxi Million, who got so spooked last time.

It’s just that I am not thrilled with the Colorado thing, either. I don’t want to offend anyone, it’s just that it’s not my favorite culture. Although I love, love, love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and read them something like four times, including once to Max. I love the clothes of the West, the bustiers and the cowboy hats and boots, and I love horseback riding. But — when I look for places to stay, for the most part they are unexciting kinds of motel 8. I want a gorgeous resort so that I can feel pampered, and I want Max to have WiFi. Does anyone know of beautiful places to stay in the towns of Salida, Pueblo, and Durango? Aspen was not a problem; it was too expensive, in fact!

(There’s no pleasing me. I want things “just in the middle,” Do you know that joke? All I remember is the punchline: “Lady, kiss my *ss. Not too much to the left, not too much to the right, but Just In The Middle!”)

What I really, really want to do is take the boys to Greece, to Santorini, that amazing place with the white buildings going up the mountain and the blue sky and the Aegean Sea. But — not this year, I guess.

Seriously, I welcome suggestions of things to do, but only in Colorado. I do not want to stray further than 4 hours from Nat during that week, aide or not. Oh, Sweet Guy!!!!!!!

Also, no more advice on how I need to let go and let him breathe, my dears. I will NOT be doing that any time soon. That is my hardest life lesson: letting go. And that boy is very, very tenacious. And I’m a Jewish Mama!!!

***********TOTAL BLOG SUBJECT DISCONNECT****************************

I love Wednesdays because there is a lot of bellydance. I have the morning class at my gym, with a young and lithe teacher; and my evening class with my original teacher and my new bellydance buddy, L. L is like a dream come true. She is tall, gorgeous, about the same level as me at bellydance, she has a kid and is nearly my age. She is kind, openhearted, generous, and lots of fun. So I am totally psyched for class tonight and the Middle East afterwards with L and another dancer we know. I could use the break from planning this trip!

This post was poorly written and perhaps kind of idiotic. I apologize.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I spent a few hours poring over my guidebooks but the thing is I am just not psyched. My heart isn’t in it. I guess it is because of Nat, mostly; not knowing how he will feel about our leaving him in camp. If he is sad about it, I can’t bear it. I could write the mother of all Nat books, which Ned said to me as I drifted off to sleep last night. But what if it doesn’t help? What about the unforeseen outburst over not knowing where his dirty socks should go, or if he’s afraid at night but doesn’t know how to say it so he just yells. ARGH. You sign on for motherhood, thinking only of plump rosy babies and dirty diapers, and you never realize how much more it is. It’s language-impaired teenagers who are lonely but don’t realize it. It’s not knowing how much more your boy wants out of life, but just kind of resigns himself to a vaguely painful existence. I am not complaining, I am observing. Well, maybe I’m bemoaning.

And then there’s the rest of it. I began to get excited because I found a place called Comanche National Grasslands, a park in Southeastern Colorado where there are huge dinosaur footprints, and you can’t even get to them unless you are on foot or on horseback. So I figured we’d ride! But Max and Ben don’t want to.

They do want to go to Mesa Verde, but I’ve been there two or three times. I guess the thing is I am not that excited about mountainous vistas, rivers, lakes, tall pines, etc. I’m a beach girl. I love the ocean.

Nat loves the ocean, too.

So why am I sending him to a camp way the heck out there away from everything he’s ever known and loved?

Maybe I won’t do it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

May, West

Me and my uncle went ridin’ down,
South Colorado, West Texas bound.
We stopped over in Santa Fe,
That bein’ the point just about half way,
And you know it was the hottest part of the day.
–The Dead, Me and My Uncle

I am beginning to plan our trip out West. I am so overwhelmed right now, sitting here with turkey lo carb rollup dripping avocado, two new guidebooks and a map, Precious with four windows open to different resorts and flight schedules and Natty’s camp. I can’t believe we’re doing this: sending Nat to a week of overnight camp in Colorado, and the four of us going off on a venture in the Wild West.

I’ve been to the West; as a girl my parents took Laura and me cross-country camping four different summers until our adolescent needs demanded that they take us to the beaches of Cape Cod instead. We would drive like mad through the mid-Atlantic states and the midwest, our destination the mountains. We camped in the Rockies; Grand Tetons, Wyoming; Mesa Verde; Badlands, South Dakota; all the way to California (northern only); Washington (Mount Olympic State Park); and Oregon (Crater Lake).

I haven’t taken my boys on such trips for many reasons. But now the opportunity has come up to do something with a lot of transitions and unfamiliar things (stuff Natty would probably not like, but the other two would). But, oh, a part of me is so sad that Nat won’t be with us! I worry that he will miss us too much and not have fun. I know in my head it is good for him to be away from us and have that experience. It is a phenomenal camp with all kinds of outdoor/exciting activities and just the right attitude towards The Spectrum. But, still. A vacation without Nat??!! Why must everything wonderful be mixed with a little pain?

I am trying to stay focused on the joyful part, but being me, that is not always possible. That’s why, after a really rough mowing of the lawn (with my push mower that really does not cut very well) I treated myself to new guidebooks from my favorite bookstore and then a latte at my favorite coffee shop. I have mapped out a tentative itinerary, which involves staying in a new place just about every night. This is not what Ned wants to do; he wants to have one place that is our base and take day trips. But I don’t think that is really possible out West. Everything is so spaced out! Everything is miles and miles away from everything else!!! Here, you drive 150 miles and you are practically to New York. Another 150, Philadelphia, and another 150, DC. There, you can get maybe from Aspen to Telluride in three hours. One state!

So I am thinking like Max and Ben, wondering what kind of activities they will love. Not too much mountain hiking or biking; I’m thinking they’d like the Southwestern part of the state better, with Indian culture and sand dunes, etc. Dip into New Mexico? Maybe take a whitewater raft trip. No camping, thank you very much. I did that as a kid and it is so over. Can you imagine me in a campsite now? Right. Although, if Beastie told me he wanted to do it, I would…

It is all so daunting, especially the part about having fun without Nat. ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™‚ ??

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Tabblo: I Put A Spell On You

I have become completely enthralled by Natacha Atlas’ recording of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ song I Put A Spell on You.  So last night I choreographed it and Ned filmed me so that I could study it, with an eye towards using it as my debut performance piece. … See my Tabblo>

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Turning Over A New Livre*

I heard from my agent!

It is all good. A little more back-and-forth with the editor, no problem. Minor stuff.

Second Book is about to begin. OMG!!!

(The author, prior to an NPR interview)

*pun thanks to Neddy Sweets

Fooling Around

Tabblo: Fooling Around

I always like to look at the seamy underside of things.  To pick scabs, tongue sore teeth, and to detect BS.  That’s me.  A bit of a pessimist, I guess.  But — this often makes for some pretty good comedy.  Here we have the other side of Mother’s Day, the weird, the bad, and the ugly! … See my Tabblo>

Unnatural Selection

Got into an interesting discussion with Max yesterday, about South African amputee runner Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius is aiming to get into the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, even though the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) is seeking to ban him because of his prosthetic super legs. They are actually just well-made prosthetics, that he has learned how to master to a great effect. His time is already at the level of Olympic women runners. He is very close to the men’s records. Dose Bastards, as my grandma would have said. The Body Impolitic is a blog I love to read, and they present a very good discussion of this topic, the concept of what is natural and what is normal.

Max’s opinion was that the IAAF needed to have standards of what sort of prostheses were kosher in the Olympics. He thought that Pistorius’ legs should be allowed, but that there was this new Japanese exoskeleton product that was so powerful that it would make someone into kind of a superman were they to adapt it to one’s legs, and so something like that should be banned. We talked about chemical enhancements as well: steroids versus SSRIs. What if, I aksed, someone took an SSRI to brighten their mood so that they could perform really at their best? Is that different from taking a steroid? What about the beauty contestant who uses surgery to enhance her natural appearance? Should that be allowed? Where do you draw the line? False eyelashes vs. false breasts? Hair extensions? Makeup?

Of course I started to think about other disabilities and how they were or were not accommodated. Why is it that the law requires the construction of ramps so that physical disabled people can get into places and participate in activities, but there is no requirement to provide Nat with an aide so that he can participate in activities? I have often chafed at the sign that says, “handicap accessible,” in a movie theatre because I feel that, NO, it is NOT accessible to Natty, who needs to make noise to feel comfortable but would be scorned were he to do that in a theatre.

Where do I start in fixing this unfair, mixed-up world of ours?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cape Crusade

I thoroughly enjoyed the Cape today. The sky was steely gray when I left Boston, but as I passed the South Shore, the sun started to break through, and the temperature rose. By the time I got to the Orleans rotary it looked like a pretty nice day, albeit in the 50’s. So what, I had a sweater and my boots. I blasted Sticky Fingers, playing Sister Morphine two times in a row. That is an incredible song. The way the chords suddenly brighten with Mick’s swelling voice…! Heaven. Then I listened to Natacha Atlas’ I Put A Spell On You, which my friend Sandy ripped for me. I am thinking that this will be my debut performance song.

Drove up the driveway, hugs all around, looked at the gardens’ progress (I pretty much dug and planned and planted all of the gardens around the house. It’s a pretty little cedar-shingled Cape house, (what else?) a 3 bedroom with a screened in porch. There’s a cathedral ceiling and skylights inside, so it is very light and airy. They are a mile from the ocean, and it always smells salty and you can hear its dull roar in the background.) Lunch was pita roll ups with ham, avocado, and cheese. Then we got to work with the porch furniture. Mom and I hauled it all upstairs and Dad did the lighter stuff, claiming later he felt “emasculated” by that. His back hurts, so he could not do the work.

Then Mom and I went clothes shopping in Orleans at these cute little stores, If the Shoe Fits, and Karol Richardson. She surprised me by buying me a stretch brown lace top! And then she bought herself an orchid colored linen sweater; just gorgeous. We debated about handbags, and had a lot of fun sighing over organza, ruffles, linens, and beads.

Went back to get Dad and drove to the National Seashore. The erosion was bad this year; the entire beach staircase had been washed away and some of the dunes. So they had rebuilt the staircase and it is very different. I kept thinking, “What will Nat say? And Max? Both of them hate change like this, in places they’ve been coming to for years and years!” I remember Nat repeating, when he was very little, so as to comfort himself, “It’s a different that’s okay.” Kind of summing it all up. Oh, Sweet Guy!!!!

It was very cold so we then drove to the bay. Warmer, but not as interesting. I’m like Nat, who when he saw the ocean for the first time in his life kept repeating, “Ocean!” The word Ocean suddenly got filtered into all the silly talk! I totally relate. There is nothing like that vast, swirling, crashing, thrashing monstrous body of water. Nothing. It is the most powerful thing we’ve got.

Then we drove back, and I wanted to sleep, but I knew I wouldn’t. I need to nap with my kids around me, making noise. Somehow, their sounds and movements comfort and lull me at 4 pm., rather than keep me awake. The Cape house is too quiet for naps.

We had an early dinner at this nice place in Orleans, but I have a bit of an upset stomach from the seafood cakes (crabmeat? it makes Mom sick). Dad is so funny, and cute with his wild Einstein-like gray hair. Hard to believe that when he was my age, I had already graduated from college! But look, I do have a seventeen-year-old, so…

My drive home was uneventful. Lots of loud music, and me, impatient to get home to my guys. Nice to get away, nice to help my parents and be with them, and then, it’s even nicer to come home.

Mood Wise

A lovely day. Not weatherwise, but moodwise. (Long ago I learned that grammar-wise is actually poor grammar. I can tell by the little red underlines that have appeared here on my screen as I write. You are really supposed to say “grammatically” or “according to the weather,” “with regard to my mood,” but screw it.) A lovely day because I had a lovely evening and because I feel like I am getting somewhere in terms of my own state of mind (or, mind-wise) and vis a vis Nat (Nat-wise).

It is no secret that this past six months or so I have been pulled downwards by depression. The wonderful thing is, the more you talk about this stuff, the more you learn. This is true about most things we suffer from. We should not keep misery to ourselves. I don’t mean that we should complain, complain, complain, or air your dirty laundry everywhere all the time. I mean, find some safe outlets for conversation so that you can both learn and help with these problems. I found out that one of my oldest friends, who no longer lives in Boston, and is a little older than me, had been going through the same thing. Likewise, my sister. All three of us explored this, with doctors (I saw a new specialist the other day) and others, and have concluded that there is something definitely hormonal going on, being that we are all in our mid to late forties. Perimenopause is not nearly as researched as it ought to be, but apparently a study showed that treating it with SSRIs like Prozac was even more or equally helpful as hormonal replacement therapy (which can have side effects, unlike Prozac, whose main side effects for me have been a recurring dream about a city. This place is both wonderful and terrifying. There are different parts I go to. My favorite part is the old Paris-Cambridge-South Street Philadelphia-like section. There are amazing vintage clothing shops there. My least favorite part is the scary train you have to take there, and the really poor, bad neighborhood — a little like West Philly, where I lived during college and year one of marriage to King Edward, Neddy The Sweet).

So I am going to get my thyroid and other things tested. Meanwhile, I have been pursuing thoughts about Nat with our psychiatrist, and we now have a steady plan for him, which mostly involves studying him on Resperadone at a higher dose, which has had good results in certain studies. He is still on a very low dose, so it is okay to increase it a bit. Although he is a tiny bit less explosive than he’s been, he seemed so unhappy yesterday, so bothered by things beyond his control. The stupid streetlight would not go on, the sun would not come out, Ned was late, he couldn’t see the pepper. So many things make him feel bad, he seems so at a loss for getting a handle on his surroundings. How do I explain to him that we have to let go of such things, when I, too, have a problem with letting go? I understand all too well how it feels to wish for more control over my world and what others are doing, but not to be able to accomplish that. In that way, the Twelve Steppers have a point: God grant me the ability to let go of the things I can’t control, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Something like that. A good mantra for us all.

But why is it a lovely day, you might still be wondering, a propos to my lede (or, lede-wise)? Because I have begun a 5-week session with my original bellydance teacher; this is a class that my new friend L organized. Last night it was wonderful being back with that teacher, and going wild with her and just two other women, total freestyle while she inserted ideas here and there, and taught us a bit about zill rhythms. After that, L and I went to the Middle East for a drink and saw a bunch of friends there, as well as a great dance show.

And today I am seeing my parents, to help them set up their Cape house. It is total crap weather, classic New England Raw, but I am very psyched to spend the afternoon with M & D and maybe do some gardening there and get a good meal out of the deal. Family-wise, a good day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Great, Full

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes…
–e.e. cummings

So here’s what I’m grateful for:
1) A roof, though it needs work, over my head
2) That it is deep spring
3) A handsome husband who loves me and lusts me
4) Healthy sons
5) Living parents
6) Sister who is a friend
7) Three new friends in the past few months: W, L, M
8) Very old friends, too who are still in touch with me
9) My liberal town and ultra-lib and fun Cambridge right nearby
10) Israel
11) Resperdone and Prozac
12) My therapist
13) Gel nails
14) Comedians: Phil Hartmann, Jerry Seinfeld, Darryl Hammond, Will Ferrell, Brian Regan, Dane Cook
15) Hewlett Packard + brainy husband
16) Belly dance
17) Benji’s teacher
18) Nat’s school
19) the IDEA
20) that the Democrats control Congress

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