Saturday, October 31, 2009

Violence Rampant in Orange County; Local Woman Attacked by Loved Ones.

For Immediate Release:

October 31st, 2009 - Orange County, California

Authorities have yet to comment on the last two days' events, keeping details of local attacks on an innocent woman quiet for now.  Due to the sensitive and graphic nature of the crimes, local law enforcement is handling this as a high profile case.

The victim was enjoying festivites relating to the upcoming Halloween holiday when she was suddenly, without warning, attacked by her own husband in the middle of a busy intersection in Old Town Orange.  Formal domestic abuse charges have yet to be filed.

The next day, while participating in holiday festivites in her classroom, the same woman was brutally attacked by a co-worker whom she considered a close friend.  Police are baffled by these heinous crimes which targeted the same woman twice in two days and are closely investigating a motive.

Local news agencies have acquired two leaked photos which we have included below.  Please be warned that they are graphic and violent in nature and children should not be present while viewing this disturbing evidence.

Victim's husband inexplicably turning on victim in broad daylight.

Victim's friend, a mild-tempered fourth-grade teacher with a heart of gold, attacks victim in the middle of her classroom.

Victims and suspects could not be reached for comment. 

Further details pending.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A "Better" Set of Problems

When my world came crashing down around me that unassuming March day five years ago, I could see nothing past Autism.  It  began to suffocate me the minute the doctors bluntly uttered the word; a word that gave life to a burden I did not believe I could bear.  I choked everytime I said it outloud, and as family and friends offered their awkward condolences, I screamed on the inside about the unfairness of our fate.

Two months later, I watched my firstborn appear to fall asleep in his food bowl, and eventually collapse on our lawn ;we met with top neurologists and learned that epilepsy was more common in children with autism.  I redefined falling apart and greeted each day with a sorrow that consumed me from the inside out.

The days weaved into months and we fell into a routine; therapy and doctor visits conquered our calendar, and new vocabulary terms made their way into everyday conversations.  Terms like Non Verbal, Stimming, Sensory Overload, Poor Eye Contact, Low Muscle Tone.  The more we said them, the less sense they made, and I struggled to piece together what was so obviously broken. 

As Superman flourished intellectually and socially, Monchichi's delayed development was in stark contrast to his brother's.  Each time Superman hit a milestone, I felt guilty about celebrating too much or guilty about not celebrating enough.  I bit my lip to stop the tears when I heard my younger son eloquently let me know that something went wrong:  "Uh Oh," he would say; at once music and sadness to my ears.  Monchichi grunted and whined as he struggled to make sense of the world and OH! the frustration we all felt.  How the days dragged on, the nights sleepless and filled with a heaviness that threatened to bury us.

He had no idea I was his mother, and I tried in vain to make him love me more than he loved anyone else.  I gave deeper and longer hugs.  I covered his chubby smooth cheeks with sloppy kisses.  I buried my face in his belly and blew rasberries the size of Montana.  But he barely blinked when I left the room, and gave me the same treatment he gave everyone else; it was a generic love that I clung to, but I pined for something more.  I was his mama, after all.

He broke my heart a million times with fleeting eye contact and a silent list of needs I felt I could never fully meet, and when he began to bang his head on the walls and floors of our home, this abstract life making him so obviously crazy, I called for reinforcements because another day alone was more frightening than anything else I could possibly imagine.

I prepared for the worst.
And didn't dare to hope for the best.


I am sitting across from his second grade teacher.  It is half past noon and her animated face and loud booming voice give away the passion she has for her job.  She tells me what a joy he is, how far he's come, how she loves his unruly curls.  He is sitting in my lap, his stare meant only for me; his arms wrap around my neck, and he nuzzles me the way only a boy who loves his mama can.  I laugh out loud, and tell his teacher that he has forced my husband to sleep on the opposite end of the bed, his rhythmic sleep in tune to mine, his dependence on my presence something we will have to address in therapy soon, since I am barely able to go the bathroom without him trying to break down the door.

I am dumbfounded when she tells me that she has never heard him say "No" or verbalize his colors.  I sit him up and command him to repeat after me and she shakes her head, both of us playfully accusing him of taking the easy road in class.  We come up with a plan and she promises me a new set of goals, now that she has heard what he can do.  I promise a list of his 60 or so verbal approximations and turn to him and call him a stinker.  He snorts and giggles in response.   He has become a master manipulator, and secretly I am so proud.

We are driving home and my mind is fixated on the lab work we need to do in order to begin weaning him off of one of his three anti-seizure meds.  I begin composing a request for an IEP meeting to address the need for more challenging speech goals in my head.  I wonder outloud what kind of snack I can send him to school with for his classroom Halloween party.  Something everyone will enjoy.  I marvel at how he has outgrown all of his long uniform pants and that we need to invest in more before the cold weather kicks in.  I ask him if he is hungry and he barely skips a beat as he answers me with the one word he can pronounce perfectly.  "NO."  I fret over his appetite, but mostly because my mother is really fretting over it.  Out Loud. Everyday.  To me. 

I think about his obsession with the tractor tipping scene from Cars.
And how he opens the fridge no less than 25 times a day.
And that we have to sing Happy Birthday on request, because it makes him so happy and we are suckers for his smile.
And there's the whole having to sit on the toilet, dripping wet, right after a bath.  Not to pee or poop.  Just to ponder, we guess.
I worry about the fact that he has taken a sudden liking to eating cold hot dogs and what that is doing to his digestive tract and then I am reminded that I am out of probiotics and cod liver oil capsules and crap, if I go to the store now, he'll miss his early nap before therapy today and then Mr. Grumpy pants will haunt the house at all hours of the night.  And that, as I write this blog post, he is in a power struggle with me and my beloved LG front loading washing machine.

*Deep Breath*

I sit and I think
how far he has come
how far WE have come

and that

it is, for now

a Better set
of problems.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Inequality in Shopping: A Case Study

Subject 1 contacts Subject 2 for a Saturday afternoon excursion to local Target.

Subject 2 quickly agrees and wipes drool from face.

Subject 1 and 2 enjoy Starbucks pit stop to fortify themselves prior to entering said Target. 

Subject 1 attempts to hog radio station selection.  Subject 2 quickly asserts herself and after brief scuffle during which Subject 1 almost runs into a pole, both subjects come to an agreement on Lady Gaga tune.

Subject 1 thinks she is Lady Gaga.  Subject 2 is disgusted.

Subjects arrive at destination and enter through automatic doors.  Large red cart is located and retreived.

Subject 1 begins to make her way towards lingerie section.

Subject 2 follows suit but makes detour to pick up some family necessities.

Subject 2 tries not to stare at Subject 1's underwear choice, which is clearly slutty and inappropriate.

Subject 1 heads to makeup and self-care aisle.

Subject 2 heads to pullupswipescheeseitsyogurtfruitsnacktylenollunchablelaundrydetergent aisle.

Subjects reconvene at check-out.

Please refer to Exhibit A

Subject 1's purchases.

Clearly Subject 1 enjoyed her shopping experience

Please refer to Exhibit B.

Subject 2's purchases. 

Subject 2 was obviously annoyed during her shopping experience, but tried hard to put on a brave face.

Subject 1 and 2 depart from Target.

Subject 1 feels fulfilled and energized.

Subject 2 feels like she belongs in Walmart.

Subject 1 is perky and perfect.

Subject 2 wants to kick her ass.


Study shows obvious inequality in staged shopping trip between a single, sexy, she-devil, and her shorter,  more domesticated, granny-panty-wearing sibling.


Subject 2 shops alone.  Or via internet.

Subject 1 can suck it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Love at 5 MPH

will always
in the driver's seat
the steering wheel steady in your hands
 chosen without your consent
but you
honor your duties
steering with integrity

 your passenger
counting on your guidance
as you commandeer
his safe arrival
something you promise
just out of
purity of your

You are
going somewhere
it only matters
that you go
the wind
blowing through
the sun
behind you
the misunderstood world
at your fingertips

your heart
outgrew your
the day you took his hand in yours
and helped him buckle
his seatbelt

You head towards
a place
where love
everyday expectations
the journey
only because
wouldn't go

A marvelous
everyday heroes
kicking up dirt
they drive

is not
your average

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Nola is lost.

She is our one year old cat.  Grey and white, with a crooked tail, we adopted her last fall when our first family cat, Lulu, disappeared one windy day.

Now we are reliving the nightmare.  Superman still cries for Lulu when he is exhausted or run down.  His defenses gone, he misses the first important thing in his life that he ever lost.  And here we are again, facing a situation that is heartbreaking and crappy, to say the least.

A fellow catholic at work suggested I find a statue of St. Anthony and turn him upside down, and possibly consider sticking him in the freezer, just to let him know I mean business and to find our freakin cat ASAP. 

If you are not catholic, this may sound odd but we are in the midst of a pet crisis, so please don't judge me.
If you are catholic, this may sound odd, and I know for a fact that you will judge me, but then you'll feel guilty for doing so and add our cat onto your daily rosary and/or prayer list.

so be it.

I have purused, with one eye closed, the deceased section of our local animal shelter, as well as the lost and found.  If she's gone for good, I just want to know.  Waiting for her to appear at the door is....once again, crappy.

I managed to keep my childhood cat alive and well for almost 15 years in this very same neighborhood.  Now we've had two go missing in one year. 

What.  The.  Hell.

kitty prayers are appreciated.
and don't say anything to Superman.
We're still trying to figure that whole deal out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Marathons Are For Losers

You are right.
It is a mean title.
And maybe a bit extreme.
But weilding my power on my blog via a shallow and mean title makes me feel just a bit better.

Because my stupid little sister just ran her first half-marathon yesterday and even though she's worked really hard since March, and even though she's committed, devoted, and consistent, and even though she has stuck to her guns and deserves to feel empowered, elated, and euphoric, when she came to see me after the run, sporting her lick and stick outfit courtesy of Asics which exentuated every stupid size 5 curve and taut muscle, I wanted to yank the giant medal off of her neck and bop her on the noggin with it.

Not in the freakin least.
I still have ten workout dvd's in their comfy shrink wrap, perched on my bookshelf, gathering dust and taunting me as I eat pasta straight from the pot.

And in November, that selfish, egomaniac is running the NY marathon, where the medal will be much bigger and heavier, I'm sure, the pants tighter and more erogonomically proficient, and the gloating non-stop for days as my little sister crosses that 26.2 mile finish line.

I will be crying on my couch, watching the whole thing on the flat screen.

Chocolate cake in my mouth.

Pride in my heart.

Because as far as little sisters go,
sort of
and all that
mushy crap.

I have no one else to compare her to, because
she's the only
one i've got.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Lies Beneath

I know what you're thinking. 
"Boy, that Jo.  She's got it so together."
"What a perfect example of strength, integrity, passion, and impeccable comedic timing."
"Man, if ever there was a talented, well-rounded, Polish-American woman with dual citizenship, that Jo sure would take the cake."

Yes you are.
You are too thinking that.
You may not realize that you're thinking that.  But you are.
Trust me..

There is definately more to it than that.

For instance. 
As we speak, I am going through what some might lovingly refer to as a "nervous breakdown."
"Why?" you may ask.

Well, if you'd hold your freakin horses, maybe I could get a word in edge-wise and tell you.

Center.  Calm.  Reflect.  Respect.  Relax.  This.  Is.  Retarded.

Tomorrow, at approximately 2:30 p.m PST, my husband and my second born will embark on a camping trip. 
Without me.
To Supervise.

The other day, my husband said the words boulder, climbing, us, all in the same sentence and I think I might have brutally attacked him had I not been fighting a losing battle with vertigo. 

You don't understand.
I control EVERYTHING around here.
I was raised by a woman whose mantra was "The man is the head of the household, the woman is the neck.  Neck moves head.  No neck, no head.  Neckless heads worse than headless necks." (I think it loses meaning in translation). Regardless, it means that I'm the boss. 

I don't go around proclaiming that to anyone in particular (except to myself, in the mirror, each day as I wake, a wicked smile on my face, rubbing my hands together )
But it is a known fact.

I buy the groceries.
I pick out the clothes.
I cook the dinners.
(Wow, I never realized how being the boss was so reminiscent of being the village slave.)
I make generalized decisions about the welfare of my family, most of which do not include, in any way, shape, or form, Boulder Climbing on a weekend camping trip for a bunch of grown children and their offspring.

And what if the husband forgets to put on Superman's footsie pajamas at night, and Superman freezes in his tent, gets frostbite, and loses his big right toe, all while his unaware and stupid father snores loudly enough to dislodge some of those gigantic boulders those idiots want to climb?
And what if stupid, selfish, immature husband forgets to feed Superman the lovingly prepared health-concious and digestive-friendly (ever been irregular while camping?) meals that I made?  What if my precious son is forced to eat cold hot dogs and Spaghettios straight from the can
What if, because someone forgot to remind him,  he doesn't brush his teeth and comes back from this godforsaken trip with a rotting mouth and has to eat applesauce three times a day until his adult teeth come in?????

Now I'm just Pissed Off People.
To think.
I married a man who would let our son freeze, starve, and lose all his teeth.

All in the name of some stupid camping trip that does not include the one person who is, quite frankly, capable of running the freakin show.

It will be a miracle if I let the car leave the driveway tomorrow afternoon.
I'm just sayin.
Someone might dramatically throw themselves in front of a parked white volvo station wagon and make the kind of scene that might embarrass aformentioned someone's significant other and force gently suggest to him that maybe backyard camping isn't such a lame idea after all.

I'll bring the smores.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I let
an unruly email
get the best of me
as my ego slowly bruised
black and blue
the world once again revolved only around me

the sudden wail
of a tiny blonde angel
as she fell off of the steel structure
mere feet from me
her left hand visibly broken
a mangled mess that
I could not fix
her mother
gracious enough
not to punch me out
as I handed her daughter in a condition
much worse than when she left her with me

a silent drive home
three kiddos munching on trans fat
as I pull up to the driveway
my mother leaning againt white stucco
her face swollen and red from tears
her hands shaking as she nods her head in disbelief
a 25 year old girl
she knew
had seen just on Monday
run over on an Orange County Freeway
after checking
on a flat tire
her parents in Poland
cannot hold their daughter
grieving across the ocean
I gag
as I think of their

and then
I make
frozen pizza for dinner
write out my shopping list for Trader Joe's
trying to stay grateful
instead of pissed off and confused
questioning the validity of
25 year olds dying
and children crying
and suddenly crappy emails
don't seem so freakin important
and neither does
my stupid shopping list

Lady Gaga
beckons my son to my side
and I serenade him
promise to always be his
his little body
much too small for his seven years
pressed against mine
twirling in the living room
it is a moment I do not take for granted
I am not promised
much of anything

am I?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Get Your Own Disorder. This One's All Mine.

I figure, if you read my blog, you

a.  love me unconditionally and won't be swayed by anything I say.  EVER.
b.  have a child in my classroom and therefore know the importance of kissing up to the teacher in order to   ensure that said child does not go hungry/thirsty/or abandoned on the playground during recess whilst in my care, so no matter what I write about you will think it is the work of a genius.
c.  don't know me at all and therefore not a factor in this decision, although I'm sure you're terrific and you'll see through my diagnosis and continue to read what I have to say because it impacts your life dramatically and without my blog you would lose all will to live.
d.  This is your first visit and you have already clicked onto another better and more entertaining blog.  So you won't be offended when I say #$#$% you.


I was fifteen years old when I made the discovery, in the local public library in the Psychology section.  One book, slightly disheveled and pulled out on the crowded bookshelf, caught my eye:  "The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing."  I yanked it off the shelf, even though I had no particular issues with bathing and spent what most would consider an average amount of time in the shower.  But the book spoke to me and I was compelled to flip through it. 

And there.
On the last page.
A checklist of symptoms.
The answer I had been looking for for years.
Finally in my hands. 
A chance at some sort of explanation, understanding. 
In a tiny book that made its way into my shaking hands.
An entire childhood redeemed by a few case stories that at least somewhat resembled mine.

I was crazy, just like I thought.
But at least there was a name for it.

And so that night, I crawled into my parent's king bed, and with a mixture of relief and fear, tearfully told them that I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.   If there was a movie made about my life (hey.  it could happen.) then this would be where the photo montage would be inserted; timeless depictions of a young girl struggling behind the smiles and crooked braids, an adolescent uncomfortable in her skin, the black eyeliner thick, the green eyes searching for something that makes sense. The Fray's "How to Save a Life" would be in the background, powerful lyrics intertwined with pictures, another example of  the Human Condition.  Oscar nominated of course.  I would wear a billowing green dress, my handsome husband on my arm, the diamonds dazzling in the sunlight.......

Oh.  Hey.
Sorry about that.  I'm back now.

Anyway.  I won't give you all of the details.  Not when I can write a book about it and make some money instead of giving it away for free all the time on this blog.  What's that saying?  "Why buy the cow when she makes sour milk?"  Or maybe it's  "Free milk makes for poor cows?"   In any case, my parents promptly ploppped me down on the nearest leather chair in our local Psychiatrist's office and I walked away more confused than ever and with a prescription for Anafranil.  A drug made for people like me.  Too scared to take it that night, my father, his shiny red cape blowing in the breeze coming through the kitchen window, downed a pill with me and I went soundly to sleep.  He stayed up barfing all night.

But as my seratonin levels began to finally find some peace and quiet, my sweat glands started a party of their own, and as a fun little side effect of my tiny pills, I couldn't walk the ten step staircase to Home Ec class without leaving a salty trail of sweat behind.

1.  Eww. 
2.  Social life way more important than relief from life-long OCD.
3.  Quit the meds and began a tumultous and sort of fun career of self-medicating (read: Keg Parties and   Parent's Liquor Cabinet).

Enter my thirties.  Why do I suddenly feel the urge to share all of this with you?  It's not sudden.  It's a burden of mine that I have carried since before that fateful day in the library.  When I didn't know why I had to say goodnight three times in a row and my parents couldn't fall asleep before I did and I clutched my grandmother's hand as we slept on twin beds pushed together for added protection.  I silently suffered as I began my descent into a life filled with odd numbers and even transactions.  I wrote gritty poetry that no one understood and hid behind bad choices, chain smoking, and burgundy lipliner that I reapplied in-between each class.
And then.
I found a boy who loved me and married me and to this day, almost ten years later, sometimes has to nudge me past a doorway if it takes too long for me to get through.
I birthed two sons, and suddenly I wasn't that important anymore. 
They were.

And the joys and sorrows of motherhood, the cries of autism and epilepsy, the triumphs and transgressions of  everyday life with a full family began to silence the need to live perfectly on this planet. 
And, as I turned down the volume in my own mind, I was able to hear the rest of the world; what I found out was more healing than anything the doctor could prescribe.

You're just as messed up as I am.
Whether you know it or not.
It may or may not have a name, but believe me, you are out there.

Which brings me to my next point.
Don't try and ride on my OCD coat tail because it's all mine.  I need it.  I'm writing a best selling memoir remember, and a crazy quirky clinically insane  interesting author sells more books than someone who is..... boring normal.

Plus, now it's all vogue to have chemical imbalances and so I wanna come out before the train leaves the station, if you know what I mean.

So.  To recap.

You will read this post, feel sorry for me, then gasp in surpise at the fact that I have OCD stamped in my medical records (among other things....but one issue at a time please), then wonder if you will ever look at me the same way, then feel inspired and empowered by my story of triumph, then wish you were my best friend (unless you already are, in which case you will feel very grateful and superior to others) then tell everyone you know that they are morons for not reading my blog because not only am I witty and smart, but i am also unstable and how cool is that??



Crap.  One more.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Certain Things Worry Me

Like coming home from school with Superman and his friend (who is of the female persuasion) and five minutes into the playdate, seeing Superman come out into the kitchen with jeans, a red robe, and no shirt on.  What.  The.  Hell.

Like having a student throw up on my rug and when asked to go rinse his mouth out he innocently asks "why?"

Like the personal safety of a certain oh, shall we say, maternal figure in my life after asking if I've lost weight followed immediately by "because you know, you could be beautiful."

Like the random discontinuation of favorite products by Trader Joe's.  If you've ever shopped there, you know what I mean.  Or you don't buy the good stuff.  Either way, it must stop.

Like the fact that I get along really well with teenagers.   Even though most of them are morons.
What the hell does that say about me?

Like the 9:4 girl/boy ratio in my classrom right now.  I feel like a mama cat nursing kittens because the girls all want hugs and love at the same time.  If anyone needs Exposure Therapy for claustrophobia, germaphobia, girlaphobia, kidaphobia, lifeaphobia, or maybe just wants to torture somone they know, please contact me.

Like whether or not my Halloween costume this year will live up to the one I had last year.  I take this holiday very seriously people.

Like the dream I just had about a co-worker who got plastered on rum on our school field and I had to go rescue him as he stumbled around belligerently before our boss found him.  Will I ever look at him the same way again?

Like the fact that Monchichi's new favorite song is "Happy Birthday" and must be accompanied by a lit candle.  This is how we get him to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and juggle forks and knives.  Lately, it seems his childhood has just flown by since by my latest calculations he is now approximately 656 years old.

Like that I care enough about Twitter to try and schedule it in among children, a husband, work, writing my damn book, physical therapy, autism therapy, piano lessons, playdates, Polish school, Saturday chores, potty breaks, and other mild inconveniences related to existing on planet earth.

Like that I feel like I am coming down with something ugly that may or may not be the swine flu and that I am only half kidding when I tell you that I'm filled with terror.  Terror.

Like that if I don't get my act together and start blogging more regularly, you'll trade me in for a prettier, shinier, less moody blog.  And then I'll have to hunt you down and make you spend time with my Polish relatives.