My girlies

It's fascinating to watch my girls grow and develop their own sense of style.

To watch their art change, 
to see how they influence each other.

In some instances, I can only tell
whose drawing it is by the handwriting.

Rosie's work.

 Lily's work.


Owning Sadness

I've been absent online, and honestly, in the real world, too.

In April I got the news that I need a follow up mammogram and ultrasound. It took till May to get that done, and then to the end of May to get the biopsies done, and then into June to get the results, which were good--no cancer.

That gave me roughly ten days to turn all my worrying to the colonoscopy and EGD I had done yesterday. They were followups; my first ones were done four years ago, and led to a followup colonoscopy one year later because of a worrisome polyp. The last one I had a couple polyps, so I was given a reprieve of three years. I've been on nexium for my GERD for four years now, and since that was getting worse, not better, it was time for a repeat EGD.

All of this, honestly, had me all but curled into a fetal position, and in a state of mind that had me pulling back from everyone and hiding as much as possible. I'm teaching a face-to-face summer class, so I couldn't completely hide, but I did my best.

It led to some serious considerations as to whether depression was rising back up or whether this was situationally-appropriate-sadness, as I had decided to call it. I've been asking that question since March, to be honest.

2013 has been a difficult year. We lost Aphrodite in January, which left me feeling bereft--too many pets gone in the last two years. I started the semester sick, and stayed that way. We had some issues with an individual we'd tried to help, and the lingering damage of that, well, lingered...March saw the suicide of a student and the suicide of one of Rick's sisters. We struggled with my stepson's poor choices...and what would happen because of those.

The girls grew increasingly unhappy at school (and yet parts remained good--they loved their teachers, they excelled at the work). We had to pull them off the bus and I had to start picking them up again because of bullying.  We made the decision to homeschool them once the school year finished, and it was that promise that helped Rosie get through the remainder of the year.

And then April and autism awareness...ughhh....and my concern with visions of breast cancer, and of course, I scheduled my colonoscopy and EGD back then so I could have a couple months to fret over fears of colon cancer and esophageal cancer, because, yo, that's the way I roll...I am an expert worrier.

And May...sigh...some of my favorite students graduated. I was still dealing with the biopsy thing...and then my brother had to put his dog to sleep, and I was with him for that, although we did laugh, as Hunter was "fucked up" as my brother called it--the dog looked seriously stoned as the sedative slowly took effect. It was a surreal experience, to laugh and cry at the same time.

Anyway, you can see why I would be struggling with whether I had fallen back into depression or enough shit had been slung my way that what I was feeling was appropriate. Oh, and did I mention I decided to reduce my zoloft, to try to get off of it? Yeah, that spectacularly backfired, and I spent months walking around dizzy as hell. In the end, I remained on zoloft at 50 mg, only able to reduce to that.

So, while I debated as to whether I was depressed or situationally appropriately sad, I also had to debate whether to give up months of hard won progress to reduce my anti-depression meds and up it back to the 100 mg and someday fight that battle over again.

No wonder I've spent time in the fetal position wishing for a break from my head or my life, one or the other.

And here we are, now, one day on the other side of the procedures I was dreading but knew needed to be done, some worries relieved, others, well, not, and I still don't have a real answer as to whether what I'm feeling is normal and simply must be gone through, or if it's my lovely brain's wiring screwing up. I guess I'll begin to get a glimpse of that answer if I resume my normal life, set up my lunches with my dear local friends and get back into the swing of things. If I do, it was SAS (for short). If I don't, then, well...fuck.

I'm a little bit worried it's the latter, because I still feel this deep reservoir of sadness, along with this edgy feeling of frustration.

I think maybe, though, that's simply life. I woke up one morning, a few weeks ago, realizing I probably would never be a grandmother, and I was devastated. It came out of the blue, and it was weird, and it passed, but it was there...and I have to honor that feeling, I think, because it has to be gone through and accepted that the future and present many of my old schoolmates are having I won't experience, and that's really okay, but it's also okay to be a little sad, too.

My oldest will be 24. He's sweet and complicated--he can be gruff and impatient and very rigid. I think he's fairly happy, but he's frustrated with his old friends from the center, and he doesn't want to talk to them when they call, which leaves the girls frustrated--they ask him if he knows how lucky he is to have friends...and he just growls. He wants to be alone. Not alone-alone--he's happy here, he loves his sisters and they spend hours together wrapped up in their shared interests, but...

And me, the worry-wort that I am, worry that when I am gone, where will my three be--will they still be entwined in each other and able to balance out, so that with all their strengths combined, they'll be able to make it together, handle all the things involved in living without someone else paying the bills, etc.?

These are reasonable concerns, especially given that I'm not sure the girls will attain that elusive and somehow desirable flying from the coop.

There's also the age factor--Rick turned 50 on Monday and I turn 45 on Saturday. We've got a lot of work ahead of us to get things ready and set in place for the kids. And we know, on a visceral level, that the clock is running out. Sure, I might make it to 90....but ummm....is it okay if I really don't want to unless that 90 means I'm in a nice little retirement village playing old people games with other pink haired little old ladies? I'd rather not have the weight of the world on my shoulders till the day I pass...you know?

So, while I don't know if I'm depressed or situationally appropriately sad or not, I am at least owning that I am still feeling this deep sadness, when I had really hoped that I would magically wake up this morning, with all the icky tests over, no longer sad.

Life is a very complicated, intricate, wonderful mess of emotions, and sadness is one of them that we have to learn to live with. I think, maybe, that doing so will intensify the joy when we find it, and I find a lot of joy. My girlies light up my day...my son provides me with laughs...my students inspire and impress me with their dogged determinism to see the course through and to tackle tough subject matter where they undoubtedly expected to write inane pieces. I have a lot of people in my life that make me joyous.

Maybe this will pass and I will be able to look back and say it was something I simply had to pass through, like going on a bear hunt. Maybe I'll have to be more proactive. Whatever happens, I know I am not alone, that others are walking this path, too. And I know that I have friends who support and love me. So, I'll own this sadness--name it, put it in writing, and in that way hogtie it and wrestle it.

I think it's also possible that I've gone too long without my pink hair...excuse me while I rectify that. :)


Holding onto Beauty: Honoring Alex Spourdalakis

In honor of Alex Spourdalakis, murdered by his mother and godmother. May his murderers be held accountable for their actions.


Puppy Play

I admit to being 
hopelessly in love
with these two critters:
Val and Sam.

 They are such fun to watch play.
 Despite scary mouths 
open and filled with sharp teeth.
 Val likes to grab Sam by the nub of her tail.
 And Sam likes to sit on Val's head.

There is something about puppy play
that leaves me happier and calmer.
(and grateful they are nipping each other
rather than chewing my books).


But not bowing down to shame, while admitting to middle-aged angst

I blasted onto blogging four years ago passionate about making sure people had good information about autism, that crazy, dangerous ideas about causation didn't win out. I wanted people to know autism didn't have to be seen as a tragedy, nor as something inflicted on them.

I was sarcastic, biting, inconsiderate of the feelings and lives of the people on the other side of the argument. I wrote satire, distorted caricatures of people and made their positions so twisted that the insanity of those positions were glaringly real. I countered, I went on the offensive. I deconstructed. I tore apart arguments, and hit back against "the other side." And sometimes it was fun. And that's wrong. And I'm disappointed by that behavior, that I forgot the people on the other side of those words, that I didn't consider whether I caused them harm, as long as I made clear how absurd their positions were.

And sometimes positions are absurd. They are. Sometimes beliefs are fallaciously built on. Sometimes it's really hard to let it go, to let it be, to breathe.

Jeanette, one of the first bloggers I read, called it right fighting. She was so right...oh, it was like I was a dog with a bone, especially with Age of Autism's writers and  followers when they'd go on Huffington Post...it was a little bit addictive.

I'm glad I got over that. I'm even more glad, though, that I got over being certain I was right and that I had to make sure those who were wrong knew it.

I look back at where I was four years ago, when Bobby was 19, oh, and I was going through the pangs of having him reach adulthood, yet not getting to share in the normal parent experiences of having a child reach adulthood, with grappling with the reality that the girlies were on the spectrum too, but they were all finally out there--at school or the center or volunteering, and then I had all this time during the day and it was empty, barren. I didn't know what to do.

I still don't. Kathleen keeps pointing out that the last four years have been about me filling every single possible empty space, with work, with volunteering, with wigs, critters, clothes, a weird-ass animal print obsession. I have wise friends who see me more clearly than I see myself. Stormy works hard here to keep me under control, and Kathleen does what she can, too. Margie has my back and lets me be silly and laugh and yet share the heavy...Mel, fw2, Stephanie, Amanda, Beth, Rose, and so many more wonderful friends who support me, who laugh with me, and who encourage me.

I've been working to fill that empty space, that time that was always so congested with working with the kids, teaching part time, working on graduate degrees (one started and left behind in English and another completed in psychology), working in a way-too-time-consuming garden, that I forgot how to relax and be in stillness. And I'm pretty sure that while I might figure out how to relax, it probably won't involve stillness.

Anger was a temporary filler. Certainty and right-fighting took up a fair amount of head space. Wig and shoe shopping are fun but also a good way to head towards bankruptcy (in style). I still don't get the animal print fetish nor why it won't go away and I am compelled to keep buying zebras and giraffes, and if I'm really lucky zebra and giraffe-print chicken figurines. WTF?

I think I'm done on critters. I like the number 7, and that it's a prime, and that the 5 cats are a prime as are the 2 dogs. I'm not thrilled that those aren't also all odd numbers, but you can't have everything.

And now we've added homeschooling back into the mix, and certainly we are too early in this adventure to declare anything...

How many balls can I juggle? Truthfully--one. I'm just not that coordinated. But I feel this pressure, sometimes so tight against my insides that I am sure I will explode. I have so much to do...so much to learn...and I feel time quickening. And I know that's middle-aged angst. And I can't afford a sports car or a boob job nor do I want either, so I'm not sure what else to do...

oooh...unless it's to put the wigs on the critters and photograph them? Talk about filling time!


Anxiety "Holes": Puppies Work

Meet Val, the dog many would say I did not need, 
that Kathleen said I was using to fill an anxiety "hole,"
which she's completely right about.
She's 20 pounds of pure, happy joy.
We got her from the pound, 
surprising everyone,
including the kids and critters. 
And yet, the surprise went over just fine.
The kids are in love with her.
Sam, our Yorkie, insists we got Val just for her.
 Val is a very busy, very curious, very happy 
10 month old puppy.
 She will get a running start and leap in my lap,
whether I'm expecting it or not.

 She is good with the critters,
loves playing with Sam, 
and looks with interest at the cats.
She's at home in all our chairs.
And in our laps. 
 Always with a big smile.
Hard to worry when 
you've got a lap of happy puppy.