Thursday, February 25, 2010

God Doesn't Care Where You Sit, As Long As You Aren't Picking Your Nose in the Pew

Nothing challenges my faith in a merciful Lord like a Sunday morning mass filled with wailing babies and booger-eating toddlers.  I'm not sure what the Bible's official position on the latter is, but I'm sure it involves the fiery pits of hell because gross, eating your boogers should be a mortal sin.

I go to church for two reasons:

1. My mother instilled in me the proper Catholic-prescribed level of crap-your-pants-fear during my childhood, reminding me each day that Jesus was watching my every move, which made going to the bathroom just a tad bit awkward


2. Now I can finally do the same to my own offspring, which makes 32 years of holding my pee until I almost pass out totally worth it.

Going to church every most Sundays is part of our family routine.  We wake up at 6:30 a.m., eat breakfast, watch t.v., mope around for a few hours, then, like clockwork, we scramble to get dressed and make it to 10:00 o'clock mass.
At 10:25.

We usually sit in the very back, the nosebleed seats, if you will.  I prefer it back there, where rows upon rows of people aren't staring at my back cleavage and watching me adjust my skirt everytime I stand up or sit down (if you know anything about Catholics it's that we prefer our commandments with a side of calisthenics, so there's a whole lot of up and down and swing your partner round and round going on during mass).
 Plus, I get to be all judgmental about the parents who can't control their kids and make stern faces at the back of their heads, furrowed eyebrows and all.

Until recently.
When monchichi decided that church is a great place to practice shaving seconds off of his best f.p.m
(flaps per minute) time and beat his current record,


that sqwuaking like a bird with an amphetamine addiction is perfectly acceptable during the homily given by the priest.

Man.  Those judgemental looks aren't nearly as much fun when you're on the receiving end.

We've been working really hard to keep our wonderful, lovingly obnoxious son from interrupting the three hundred or so members of our congregation from praying for forgivness for being such self-righteous jackasses and I thought our efforts were paying off.

Boy was I right!

Why just last weekend, upon our entrance through the church doors, an usher almost tripped trying to get to us before we could take our usual seats.

Instead, she whisked us away to a back room I didn't even know existed, with, get this, leather couches and a private bathroom.

She smiled sweetly
pointed to the speakers on the ceiling,

We must have really made an impression on the priest.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Am Temporarily Unsubscribing My Mother So That She Doesn't Read This Post

I have this teeny tiny dilemma. 

Last week, I noticed that one of my favorite, understated wreaths that hangs in my living room ( i have two identical ones) was missing.

I wasn't entirely sure how long it had been gone, but something about the room had been off for days and I thought I was losing my freakin mind.  My husband, rather quickly might I add, agreed with this sentiment and proved to be less than compassionate when the asymmetry of the room kept giving me hives.  My OCD was in full swing, the uneven decor causing my seratonin levels to plummet, and just as I was getting ready to douse everything in gasoline and set the room on fire, my mom came by and handed me this:

Apparently, she had snuck in when I was away and kidnapped the damn thing so that she could deface it with a collection of plastic spring flowers circa the 1980's.

So that's my dilemma.

Because it is still hanging up in my living room; Ugly. As. Sin.  My wall is screaming for mercy, I keep waking up with night sweats, and she has threatened informed me that as soon as her glue gun recovers she will be "decorating" the other one as well.

What the hell do I do?  I don't want to hurt her feelings, and I'm no Martha Stewart myself, but even your great-aunt Pearl would agree that this thing is just FUGLY.

And yes.  I really did temporarily unsubscribe my mom, just so she wouldn't get this post emailed to her. 

Because I've seen what she can do with a glue gun.

And I'm so scared.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Whatever Makes His Day Easier.....Right?

As Monchichi gets on the bus, he takes his sweet time picking out which giant seat he wants to sit in.  I tell his bus driver, Veronica, how nice it is of her to let him spend a few moments figuring out the perfect place to plant his tiny keister. 

"Whatever makes his day easier," She says with a smile. 

To her, it is a simple statement. Black and white.  He's got a tough gig with all of his disabilities, so if sitting in a different seat each day takes the edge off, why the hell not?
Whatever makes his day easier.

To me, it's a concept I struggle with daily.

How much is too much?
How much is not enough?
Should I give in, because he deserves some slack
or do I push him even harder because it's my job to challenge him and prepare him for the cold, insensitive, biased world he will inherit someday?

My inner dialogue on this matter usually goes something like this:


I don't know if what I'm doing as his mother is enough, or too much, or the perfect amount.  I'm totally lost people.  I do know that he's got a schedule most workaholics would find impossible to keep up with.  If he's not in class, he's in speech therapy, or occupational therapy, or physical therapy, or behavioral intervention therapy.  Every. Single. Day.  He barely has enough time to hiccup before his next appointment; not to mention that the things that come naturally to you or I are akin to climbing up Mt. Everest, barefoot, for him.

Which brings me to this fine line I tread upon each time I am faced with a parenting decision.

Do I let him have the buttered noodles anyway, even though his refusal to eat dinner is in direct violation of our official agreement, because he's tired, because he's frail, because I can't stand to see him fall apart over something that I have total control over? 

Do I let him take over my husband's side of the bed because he needs extra cuddles and kisses and someone to protect him as he drifts off to what I can only hope is a slumber sans the burdensome symptoms of his daily setbacks, even though I no longer shave my legs since spontaneous romps between the sheets are not really a concern with a 2nd grader passed out between us? 

Do I turn the other cheek when he ignores my demands to "stop jumping on the bed," or "leave those soda cans alone," or "get down, let go, use your words?" 

Or, do I stand my ground, keeping my focus on the prize; a little boy who is learning, one "NO" at a time, that there are rules, and boundaries, and consequences, and that I will not undermine his future by giving in to those enormous blue eyes every time they well up in dramatic frustration?

Like I said.
I don't know what the hell I'm doing most of the time.
My love for my son comes naturally.
The rest is mostly eenie, meenie, miney, mo.

I watch as the bus drives away, waving and blowing kisses not unlike someone watching helplessly as a loved one is being deported by armed security at the airport, trying to ignore the knot in my throat that appears each morning as I send my son to a place where he relies on others to take care of him. 
(Not my favorite part of the day y'all).

I am deep in thought as I walk back into the house
realizing that my role is more potent than letting him have his way with a seat on a bus
or his favorite snack before dinner
or another episode of a show he didn't really earn

I am the one that has to
enforce the rules
follow through with the consequences
and gently nudge into shape
a little boy who needs me to do
whatever it takes
to make his entire


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Post is Rated TMI

That's Too Much Information for those of you who aren't on the up and up regarding online acronyms.
Last chance to turn back now.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

So today I had my annual physical. 
And by annual I mean once every five years.
I have new insurance (woohooo honey!) and a new doctor and so I scheduled this appointment two weeks ago and asked for the works.

Below is an unedited and innacurate transcript of what transpired between the doctor and myself.  Also, some tips, free of charge, for your next visit to the M.D.

I entered the office and was asked to give a urine sample.  I did so happily until I remembered that I ate asparagus for lunch. 

Tip #1.  Do NOT under any circumstances, eat asparagus on the day of your physical exam.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, google asparagus side effects.  Not. Pretty.

Before the nurse weighed me I took off my shoes (hey, every ounce counts) and then she measured my height.  At the tender age of 32 I learned that I am 5'5 1/2" and not the 5'7" I have erroneously written on every application I've ever filled out.  I'm afraid if the government catches wind of it, they'll revoke my passport citing fraudulent activity and then how in the world will I ever visit North Dakota?  So I questioned the nurse, who proceeded to give a loud sigh and assure me that I was in fact that short and that she understood why I was upset since it meant that I am even more obese than I previously thought and then she slapped the blood pressure cuff on my arm and set the machine to "tourniquet" while I watched the blood drain from my limb.

Okay, everything after the sigh (fine, she didn't even sigh, she just sort of inhaled) was an embellisment.  But she did put the cuff on too tight and it made my arm hurt really, really, bad.

I changed into my standard issue tissue square and waited for the doctor to come in.  This is an awkward time in the appointment.  You have nothing but a door between you and the rest of the world and if a swift moving wind happens upon the waiting room and the gust forces the door wide open....hey.  It could happen.  And the result would be similar to driving by a really bad car accident.  People know they shouldn't, they know it will probably ruin the rest of their day and haunt them at night, but they just have to look.  And the minute they do, they regret it forever and the image is permanently seared into the part of their brain that only gets accessed during the middle of Sunday mass or while volunteering at the senior center.

While checking on my girly parts the doctor mentioned to hang in there, that she was almost done.  I nonchalantly asked her if she had already started.  She laughed her ass off, telling me she was glad she wasn't the only one who, after having birthed a couple of kids, felt the same way.  I pretended I meant it as a joke.

Tip #2.  Small talk during a pelvic exam is overrated.  And really, how much can your doctor hear from.........over there.  So sit still and shut up.  You can eat the shame away in the privacy of your bathroom later.

There is breast tissue in your armpits.  What that tells me is that my boobs are bigger than I previously thought and also prone to severe sweating and unsightly stubble.  Okay.  Maybe I won't mention this piece of news to my husband after all.

All in all, it was a mildly tolerable experience, if you don't count the fact that after going over my current medical and psychological history my new doctor blurted out that I was "weird" (this is, honest to God, true) but I choose to believe that by weird she meant "interesting enough to write a bestselling book that will make others laugh, cry, and fall to their knees in gratitude that their lives are nothing like the one they just read about."

So there it is.

I still don't know why I felt the need to divulge such personal and disturbing information, but hey, what good's a blog if you don't lunge across the room and abuse it once in a while.

I hope we can still be friends.   

Monday, February 15, 2010

This Again

I keep hearing the same crap.

"Autism is not a disease."
"Autism is not a disorder."
"People with Autism are simply different."

I get it.
I do. 
I think (though at times it's debatable) that we are all entitled to our own opinions, no matter how idiotic yours may be.  Sorry.  I haven't fully reached the level of acceptance yet.  I'm still working on the first level; the "i'm not going to kick your ass everytime you say something that is deserving of a proper ass kicking" level.

But I digress.

See, there's nothing simple about Autism.  At least, not for my son. 
You know.
The one that still can't express his fears or tell me that his tummy hurts, or vent about the overweight playground bully who blocks the stairs to the slide and sports a plumbers crack. 
He's a month away from his 8th birthday, and he still poops in a pull up.
If I gave my blessing, he'd run across the 405 freeway, hair blowing in the wind, because the concept of being run over, of being killed, is meaningless to him (though I suppose, during rush hour traffic, he would just be able to crawl over the cars; it is Southern California after all).

He has dozens of quirks and stims; some that are even considered cute right now.  Because he is a child.  But my little boy will one day be a man, and I can guaraflippintee you that flapping his arms and grinding his teeth in aisle 5 at Target will seem far less "cute odd little boy" and way more "watch out for that freak" when he's sporting a five o'clock shadow.

This does not mean to say that i do not, more passionately than I ever thought possible, love this little person more than I can stand sometimes.  He is perfect in my eyes, because I am his mother.  Because he is a part of me.  Because there is a bond between us that only God himself can understand.  I have never heard him speak a sentence, but I understand him better than anyone.  When I hold him, the earth, in all of its splendor, ceases to matter until we break our embrace. 
What I'm trying to say is that I love the @#$% out of my son.

Which is why I don't accept his autism.
Listen carefully.
I don't accept his autism.
I accept him.
But to accept his autism would mean to cease trying to eliminate it from his life.

And you better believe that is what I'm trying to do.
Each day, as I send him on a bus to a class run by a teacher who pushes him beyond his diagnosis.
Each day, as I let his therapist Heidi take over and give him the tools he needs to succeed in life.
Each day, as I bear down and prove to him that I'm way more stubborn than he is and that he's not going to get what he wants until I hear him say "I" instead of pointing and whining and stomping his feet because I know he can and getting away with it just this time is the same as giving up on him.
Each day, as I tuck him into bed, his beautiful face engaged in an erratic slumber, and I whisper in his ear that I will do my best again tomorrow, that he made me so proud today, that he is not alone.

I don't proclaim to know everything (unless I'm knee deep in an argument with my better half.  Then I have no less than a Ph.D in whatever it is that we're at odds about) but I know my son better than you and so please, don't tell me that what we need is for everyone to accept Autism.  To me, that's like saying we have to accept cancer, or aids, or nuclear war.  When we stop fighting for answers and looking for solutions, we are admitting defeat.

I will not allow my son to be defeated.

I don't know if "they" will find a cure.
And if they do, I don't know that it will benefit my son.
I am a 24 hour at time kind of gal, because anything beyond that almost guarantees that I will spend the day in bed, eating my way through a box of Trader Joe chocolate and cream Jo Jo's (THE best cookies, EVER) wallowing in the unknown, overwhelmed by the idea that someday my son will need deodorant.

But if you have Autism, and you have an opinion on the matter, a website devoted to expressing your voice, a support group backing your choice, a say in what happens in your life and how you want to be treated and the ways in which society does or doesn't respect/accept/understand you......

you've got a very different type of Autism than my little guy
and it sounds like you're right
you don't need a cure
and you're probably pretty freakin cool, just the way you are

but he does need a cure
even if it comes in little doses
microscopic miracles
thanks to hours of speech therapy and behavioral intervention, mind-fracking IEP meetings and a stubborn family whose love for this little boy is a testament to all that is good in this world

so that maybe
ten years from now
if you happen to run into him in aisle 5 at Target
you won't even know
it's him


Sunday, February 14, 2010

He Says, She Says

He tells her she looks beautiful
She blushes, though she's heard this from him before

He lays his hand on her lap in the car
She feels the warmth penetrate through her bones

He holds the door open for her
She feels like a million bucks

He winces as she reads the nutritional information from the menu
She changes her mind and orders something less likely to cause a coronary

He listens intently
She tells him how much he means to her

He drinks his goblet of Heffeweizen
She sips her soothing Earl Grey

He marvels that she has not mentioned the kids in hours
She giggles because it feels good (though she feels a slight pang of guilt.  She is a mother, after all)

He inspires her inbetween mouthfuls
She is surprised that she will leave with leftovers

He stares at this woman who is his wife
She stares at this man who is her best friend

They walk back towards their messy, loud, often challenging life
prepared for
the onslaught of hugs and sloppy kisses
waiting for them on the other side of the door

They glance at one another
indulge in one more private kiss
and uninterrupted"iloveyou"
holding hands
as they cross the threshold
back into
the life
their love


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just In Case You Thought I Was Normal

I am 17
listening to an answering machine message
informing me of the death
of a friend I saw
only three days before
his golden curls
smeared with blood
on the 405
his motorcycle crushed by a big rig
there was no pain they told his mother

Days later
I am sitting in Econ
one among
a roomful of horny teenagers
ignoring a lecture on the importance of a mission statement
and suddenly
the beast slaps me
and I cannot swallow
my heart skipping beats I know it shouldn't
I am straining to stay in my seat
the urge to run
more powerful
than anything I've ever felt before
I walk with what I hope to be
nonchalant purpose towards the exit
as the heavy door shuts behind me
nothing will ever
be the same

I birth a boy
more beautiful than I am prepared for
the illusion of motherhood
from magazines and gerber commercials
eludes me
as I cry in jagged fits
while my new family sleeps
the weight of a world I barely tolerate
on shoulders already burdened with
I am a woman desperate to keep my secret
so I smile when you greet me
my self-deprecating jokes
meant to
bury deep
any evidence
that I am ripping at the seams

We are driving
just the two of us
to celebrate
a pitcher of cheap beer
a heated pool game
turned into
eight years of unplanned against-the-odds wedded bliss
the familiar terror
floods my insides
falsely alerting me that
something is so very wrong
my body plagued
by a confused mind
AM I OKAY?! I shriek
while he helps me to
that none of it is real
but I am Tired!
you see
of keeping it together
when what comes naturally
is falling apart

There is a purpose
I tell myself
to everything
when the unruly beast sleeps
at my bedside
I do my best to let him rest

I choke on recycled tears
and hang up priceless artwork on my fridge
like an ordinary wife and mother
with a casserole in the oven
and dishes in the sink
but if you look really closely
and hold your breath
you'll see
a middle-class disaster


Monday, February 8, 2010

Try Saying That Ten Times Fast

Apparently, I don't have enough to write about
(insert sarcastic eye roll here)
because today I was officially diagnosed with a new, fun and exciting disorder that will make me the most
in-demand guest at otherwise boring get-togethers:

Partygoer: "Hey, look, it's Jo!  The Woman of Many Disorders!  I bet she'll have something interesting to add to the conversation!"

Me: "Sure!  Um, where do I start....let's I went the grocery store yesterday to see if some Kiss My Ass was on sale...."

When I chose my ENT specialist last week, I did what any normal, well-educated, totally stable woman would do.  I picked the one that shared the same last name as my favorite t.v. show. 

So Dr. House it was, and I jumped on the first available appointment, which was this morning, at 10:00.  I mentioned his name to some acquaintances and was pleasantly surprised that my carefully thought-out physician-choosing-method landed me in the hands of a well-renowned ENT guru.  Those of you lucky enough to deal with me in real life gave a rather long, and might I add, dramatic, sigh of relief, and I assume it's only because you care for me deeply and want to see me healed for my own benefit and not for other, more selfish reasons, such as maybe I'll finally shut the @#$! up already and you can get on with your otherwise pleasant and normal life.
You are so good to me.

In any case, Dr. House turned out to be a wonderful older man who treated me with kindness and patience.  He listened to my symptoms, nodded his head in heartfelt sympathy as I recalled the last few weeks through gentle yet courageous tears, and genuinely made me feel like I wasn't insane.

Then he told me, in so many genuine and heartfelt words, that I was screwed.

Mal de Debarquement Syndrome.
Try saying that ten times fast. 

I assume he means I'm screwed because:

A. There's no cure.
B. It's very rare.
C. It's French (and we all know what that means)
D. I have a sudden zero tolerance to movement of any kind.
E. I may have to live out my days on a Carnival Cruise Ship in order to feel any relief and I don't think  there's  a Target or Trader Joe's on a Carnival Cruise ship so where would I freely and irresponsibly spend all of our hard earned money? 
F.  I should probably not mention that last part to my husband.   

So, YAY!
Now what?

Planes are out.
Trains are out.
Cars are out.
Overly excitable movies are out, as is vigorous hair brushing and playing spin the bottle (dammit!)

I knew when I started eating geriatric oatmeal for breakfast every morning that things would inevitably begin to fall apart.  I should have stuck with a more youthful choice, like Bud light and tomato juice. 

I guess I'll have to suck it up and look on the bright side.

As long as it's not moving, shifting, bouncing, rolling, swaying, twirling, swirling, jumping, running, walking, swimming, dancing, crawling, or otherwise engaged in motion-related activities of any kind.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Living in the Meantime

It started at a very young age.

I recall never being fully satisfied with what I had; always looking towards the next thing, promising myself that life would be great as soon as

I didn't have to shop at Kmart for back-to-school clothes
I could get my bangs to curl exactly like perfectly perky Sue's
that dumbass boy in algebra would write me dirty notes instead of that skank rebecca
I had a nicer car
the babies slept through the night
there was more money in our bank account
I finally lost those "few" extra pounds and could wear dresses again without having to use crisco to get them past my "strong" shoulders
they found a cure for autism
I finished my book

Or Nothing.

At 32 I can only begin to estimate just how much time I have wasted on waiting for something better to happen just so that I could really start living. 

What a bunch of bullcrap.

Today I don't weigh what I should, but I cooked dinner in pink and pearls, shiny gloss coating my lips, simple gestures required in order to build a solid foundation of self-love; because if I don't, then who will?.

Today I didn't get published, but I wrote what my heart dictated and felt both free and fulfilled, basking in something I love to do, knowing how lucky I am to be supported on my personal quest.

Today no one called me with the news that a cure has been found for what afflicts my firstborn, but I held his hand in church as he inappropriatley giggled and jumped, stimming like crazy when the choir sang, his eyes wild and his grin contagious, my heart bursting as I breathed in this moment, anything beyond it quickly becoming irrelevant.

I still want a new car, a big house, a book contract, single-digit pants, and of course, a cure for Autism.
But I'm done pressing the pause button on what is already such a full and blessed life; one that deserves my full attention and enthusiastic participation.

I'm choosing to dream my dreams
and steadfastly head towards my unmet goals.

But make no mistake

I'll be living in the meantime.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Get Me Off This Roller Coaster!

It first happened in the summer of 2007, after a transatlantic flight to my beloved Poland.  I had taken this flight many times in my late teens and early twenties, but this time there were some significant differences.

1.  I wasn't drunk and spending all of my vacation money on Tommy Girl perfume and cartons of marlboro lights before the plane left the runway.

2.  I wasn't drunk and therefore a bit more nervous than usual, a.k.a, harnessing all of my willpower to not yell "Get Me Off of This Death Machine."

3.  I wasn't drunk.

But the other significant difference was that, once I got off the plane, my body became confused and I felt as if I were in-flight for the next several days.  It sucked, but hell, I was in europe so I made the best of it with some decadent pastries and violin sereranaded coffee breaks in the middle of bustling plazas that were so....European.  It sounds tough, I know, but I muddled through.

The next summer, we found ourselves in upstate New York, visiting my cooler-than-yours-mother-in-law and her equally hip husband.  We spent the days in their giant backyard, the kids riding a real John Deere Tractor, the thunderstorms and subsequent rainbows illiciting ooohs and aaahhs from four people whose only yearly winter preparation is to unearth the closed-toed shoes from the depths of our closets.  Oh.  And there was the matter of my perpetual rocking motion; back and forth, day in and day out, which eventually landed me in the urgent care facilitiy of downtown Plattsburgh.  They took one look at me and dished out a generous helping of Xanax.  Which for some idiotic reason or another, I refused to take.

In November we drove four hours to Kingman, Arizona to visit my fabulous father in law, and you guessed it, I spent the better part of the week sitting still on the outside, walking on a swinging bridge on the inside. 

I've seen a doctor here and there.  Gotten a CAT scan.  Had my ears checked by my
primary care craphead.  Nothing.  So the symptoms eventually pass, and I move on with my life, noting that at this point, planes, train, and automobiles are out.

Fast forward to today.  It is my seventh day of motion-sickness hell.  I don't know what happened last Monday afternoon, but I'm suspecting that I must have sneezed or I don't know, woken up, since at this point I have a zero tolerance to motion.  What. The.  @##$.

Needless to say, I am miserable.  Over it.  Tired.  Grumpy.  Impatient. 
Places to go, but too carsick to get there. 

So pardon my tone, and forgive my bluntness,
but this blows. 
Which, I'm sure, is adding to this crapfest.
So send me some love, just not via air, water, or land.

And get me a barf bag while you're at it.