Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Giant We

I had to get a mammogram on Wednesday. I had Wil otherwise occupied, and I squandered the first free Wil-free hours I'd had in days, and drove 30 minutes away for a mammogram, 30 minutes back, then came home and cleaned the oven. It's an exciting life I live.

When I got to the hospital where the mammogram was to take place, I had to check in with all the people getting much scarier imaging and actually, quite a few people checking in for outpatient services of all sorts. The scene was a sea of cubbies with people of all ages and sizes in various stages of the check-in process. I wasn't nervous, I've done this a million times, but as I made my way through the maze, I saw an elderly man wearing a jump suit. Now, this caught my eye because STM had an uncle known for wearing jump suits, and we have made quite a big deal out of it. STM and Wil threaten me all the time with getting matching jump suits, and have even gone so far as to go shopping for them once (coming back empty handed - jump suits are harder to find than you might think).

The man in the jump suit grabbed hold of his elderly wife's hand and they ambled slowly out of the cubby maze, and towards me. I couldn't take my eyes off of them, they were adorable, they nearly glowed with love for one another. As the man got near me he said, looking at me with rheumy eyes, "We wish you well."

I thanked him, but couldn't get him out of my mind afterwards. I was so struck not only by the jumpsuit and his kindness, but by the "we." His wife never even knew I was there - I don't think she even saw me, fully absorbed by getting checked in and then making her way out safely with the help of her husband.

Wil got a card from his grandmother for his birthday. She is not a big God person, but she knows Wil is, and so she carefully selected a card designed for a grandma to give her grandson, talking about what a blessing from God he is. She wrote at the bottom of the card, "We love you, Wil, love, Grandma and Papa."

Papa had been gone for nine months at that point.

Grandma, although she doesn't have Papa "with" her, still has Papa with her. They are still a "we."

Perhaps it is in loving like this, and being a witness to love like this, that we can see the greater "we," the fact that there is nothing that separates us all from one another.

We are all one giant we.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

1981


Your friend and mine, Kara, has another blog post for us. A lot of great things happened in 1981: The first woman was appointed to the US Supreme Court, I graduated from high school, and Kara was born! Here are some more fun facts about 1981 from Kara:

i have a book of the year i was born 1981 and i was born 1981 and my friend christi got merryed  in 1981

in 1981  i was born at 745 in the eveing  and therie was christmas trees were lit up that year  and  im a fall baby in novemberand in 1981  the milk cost 2.23 sents and coffee cost 2.25 sents and therie was presidents in 1981  ronald reagan the cars cost 7;718.00 united state postage stamp in 1981  cost 18 each and movie tickets cost 2.25 each in 1981   and bacon cost in 1981 1.45 per pound   and fresh ground hambuger cost 97 per pound   and therie is a 1981 calendar in the book of 1981  so in the book of 1981 therie  a page of personal memories  in the book   the title of the book is 1981 remember when a nostalgic look back in time 

your friend kara

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Good Tired

STM is a cyclist. He never, ever calls himself that, however, he calls himself a "biker," but he is so far from the image a "biker" conjures up, let's go with cyclist. He rides hard at least three times a week, sometimes 60-70 miles, looking for hills and challenges and loves to pull up on the pedals with his special shoes, working every muscle in his legs. He comes home from this rides happy and good tired, endorphins rushing through him. He often jokes that the easiest part of his weekend, is his 60-mile, uphill ride. I never really understood that, because I am no athlete, although I am a long-time walker, and I do love the time I spend doing that, but one hour a day is enough for me.

Kathleen and I decided it was time to do the marathon again, now that we're both in our 50's. She has done it seven times, twice with me, but our last time together was when I turned 40. I'm starting to get what Stan means, or at least remember. The Portland Marathon is October 6th, so we're doing one long walk a week now until then. On Sunday, we walked 15 miles, it took us 3 hours and 20 minutes, and those 3 hours and 20 minutes were easy in comparison to what I would have been doing during those hours, had I been home. There is good tired and there is just tired. Good tired is such a different tired from the tired that comes from "doing" sometimes very little in a day, but having "conversation" after conversation about things like chocolate covered donuts with sprinkles and exactly what time we're leaving to go to "New Target."

Kathleen and I have been walking a few times a week for fourteen years. Life never fails to provide plenty of things to talk about, and  it's fun to have these long walks to get the extended version of every story. "Start at the beginning and spare no detail," we say to one another. I don't think there's a chance I'll turn into an athlete at this point. I don't even know if I'll do another marathon after this one. Going back to my one-hour-a-day walks will probably suit me just fine, but for now I'm really liking being good tired.




Friday, August 23, 2013

Long and Simple

Sorry, not a lot of blogging this summer and that's for a number of reasons, mostly good. Ever since I had my astrology reading, and the astrologer said, "If you were a younger woman, we'd talk about you getting pregnant, starting a family, that's what's in your chart now, but in this case, it's pregnant with possibility."

As many of you know from experience, that can be a time of concentration, focus, going inward, clarity, excitement - a time of expectancy, both literal and figurative. I do feel like there's something I'm working on conceiving, and while I don't know just what it is, whether it's a "boy" or a "girl" or maybe even twins, I'm excited and curious to find out.

Another big reason I haven't been blogging much, is that if I did, all my posts would be the same, pretty much, and that can tend to wear on a reader. So I've spared you the big, giant monkey mind I'm experiencing around my over-all preoccupation with Wil turning 18 in 10 months and three weeks, not that I'm counting.

I took Wil to the behavioral/developmental pediatrician last week for a med check. His meds are fine and don't need checking, but there's this funny little thing called a law around controlled substances, and so, in we march obediently, every four months to jump through the hoops, just so we can walk out there $150 poorer, with the exact same plan we came in with. As Woohoo says, "So, that happened."

Now, don't get me wrong, I really, really like his doctor, it's just that at this point in time, blessedly, we are fine, and there is really nothing that happens at these appointments. I think because we are fairly new to her, and she also feels like this is more of a rigamarole than anything else, she wants to offer additional services/help to us. Last week she had an intern sitting in with her, a young woman that looked all of 20 but had to be older than that, merely by the fact that she's an intern.

After glancing down at Wil's chart and noticing he'd just had his 17th birthday, in all honesty and earnestness the doctor looked at me and asked, "Have you given any thought to what will happen when Wil turns 18?"

I looked at her and the intern and said, "I think of very little else."

They giggled.

I was not joking.

I think of very little else.

I was making Wil's dinner last night, really shaking it up and heating up frozen French fries from a bag, and he said, "I've thought long and simple about what I want to be for Halloween this year. A monkey."

Grabbing a Post-It I wrote down his exact words so I wouldn't forget. I loved that he didn't say long and hard, he said long and simple." Over and over again, many times a day, I am reminded (painfully) that I make things much harder than they need to be.

Here's to a life that is both long and simple.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

174 Fewer Things To Do

Whenever someone recommends a book, a Website, a this or a that, I have kept the e-mail in my inbox thinking, someday I am going to read/look at/do that. Coupon-of-the-month to our favorite pizza place, for the last several months. Recipes. Ways to promote my book. Adult services for Wil in a year. Conferences I might want to attend. The name of a painter if/when I could convince STM to hire someone to do something "we can do ourselves." How to use Google +. Introduction from Apple on how to use my "new" iPhone (that I've had for six months). 197 of those babies just staring at me day after day after day, haunting and taunting, so much possibility, so much "help."

Today I went through each, and deleted all but 23. I moved those 23 into a new file and have a bright and shiny, squeaky clean inbox now. I cannot tell you how good it felt to say, "No," to those 174 items I was probably never going to do anything with anyway, but am definitely not going to now. They are gone.

Then, on a roll, I went online and deleted all the holds I had on library books. Who needs the pressure to read a book when, and only when, it becomes available? Plus, I have two million books at home that I own and have yet to read - more unfulfilled obligations.

That is just one of the gifts of turning 50, saying no gets a whole lot easier, and in some cases, it's not even a struggle, it's the obvious thing to say/do. No. No. No.

Say it with me.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Successing

 We have just returned from a week of family vacation. Notice, I did not put the word "vacation" in quotes, as I have done for the last seventeen long, LONG years. I am not going to lie and tell you it was nothing but fun in the sun and relaxing from morning to night, followed by peaceful, restful sleep. No. But I will tell you that nobody killed each other, nobody had a meltdown, and there were a lot of laughs. We successfully went out for  "dinner" (4:00 PM) twice. We had a lot of togetherness and periods of finding our four corners of the small rental house, and doing our own individual versions of stimming.

We rented the same house in Sunriver that we rented last year. Our trip last summer was successful enough that we thought we'd have another go of it. Plus, there was this: The Landing:


Pardon my creepy shadow in the picture, and just drink in the glory of "the landing," which in fact is a two-part landing, as you can see. Wil has talked incessantly for a year about the landing, and how he cannot wait to get back to Sunriver where he can hang out with Flicka and Elmo, and enjoy the landing. From the landing one can see whatever someone (STM) is watching on TV. From the landing one can still have his finger on the pulse of whatever is happening upstairs, as well as in the kitchen. Really, it's pretty much all about the landing.

As I was racing around the house like a mad woman the morning we were to leave, Wil was extra janked because of his anticipation over the landing. I had less patience, more to do, and he was doubly loud and extra annoying. I was an inch away from throttling him, when he said in the sweetest, most sincere voice imaginable, "Care, I know this is a lot of work for you, but you're successing."

Check in wasn't until 4:00 and we weren't even guaranteed our house would be ready before 6:00, none-the-less, Wil had us all on a tight 8:00 AM departure schedule for the four-hour drive to Sunriver. Because I've played this game before, I did think to call ahead and request an early check-in. They said it was their busiest season, and that was unlikely, but request I did. I am happy to say that after getting over to Central Oregon and killing time, they called and said we could have our house at 2:30. Some people win lotteries, I win early check-ins.

We got to the house, and the landing, and Wil quickly moved on to his next item on the agenda: The Pool.

Last year I could only get him in the baby pool (one-and-a-half-feet deep). We'd get there the minute the pool opened, and would leave after a couple babies came. I would have to sit right by the side and talk to him the whole time, dying a thousand deaths. I have spent the better part of this last year telling him that seventeen-year-olds can't go in baby pools, and that he would have to go in the "big" pool. I then assured him for a solid year, that the "big" pool was only four feet deep at its deepest, and he was now six-feet tall, so there, do the math, two feet of him, at least, would be above the surface at all times, if necessary.



Our first morning at Sunriver he and I rode our bikes over to the pool, and were there when they opened at 10:00 AM. He didn't hesitate. He got in that pool just like he'd done it a million times.



He then spent the next two hours walking around singing to himself. Only three other boys were in the water, and they were in the "deep" end and mostly not even in the water, but chatting in lounge chairs.  Wil would talk to me periodically, and then report what the next ten songs were going to be that he was going to "sing." He'd get to about song four and then ask for the next one. There was no way on God's green earth that I could remember ten things successfully, let alone ten songs I cared nothing about.. Finally, a super nice man from the couple that had been watching and listening the whole time piped in, "'Rumor Has It,' by Adele. That's the next song." He wasn't the least bit perturbed. He was into it. We struck up a conversation and then spent the next hour happily talking about music and kids and lives and such.

For the next four mornings all of us got to the pool when it opened, and as the week went on the pool got busier and busier and busier. Wil still happily walked around in the water humming and singing for up to two hours in a row without getting out.

On our fourth day at the pool we moved our lounge chairs into the grass, so we could tie Flicka up right outside the fence, where she could see us and we could come give her lots of pets. That dog does not appreciate being left home alone, especially when we're in a strange house. There was a couple also in that area, already at 10:00 AM, and since we were the only ones over there, we struck up a conversation. Well, you know how when you find out you're from the same town/college/etc. you start asking, "Do you know the?" It was unbelievable. Literally, every single question one of us asked, the answer was, "Yes!" We probably knew 20 people in common, at least, we had neighborhoods in common, schools, friends of friends, on and on the list went, I was even a sorority sister of the gal's sister.

STM and Wil had been playing with the Nerf football in the pool, and Wil ripped the end off of it in a moment of lack of impulse control. When we got back from the pool, we squeezed all the water out of it, put it in the sun to dry. Later STM asked me to play a game of catch with him. If STM were married to his dream woman, they'd play catch hours a day and she'd be really good. I am not that woman. For 27 years he's been trying to teach me to throw and to catch, even attempting to teach me how to give it a spin. I was working my tail off trying to figure out how to spin the ball properly, what with the hacked off end and all, and honest-to-God, I could not figure out how to do it so the pointy end went first.

"Just turn it around," STM said.



I was so focused on getting my hands around the "laces" that I seriously, could not compute how to get the "right" end facing him, too.

We had a good laugh about it, but then STM said, "That's how Wil feels all day, every day."

Wil, I know everything is a lot of work for you, but you're successing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Busy

My summer of being very, very busy, continues. I just finished my second one of these babies:


I've learned what ABV means (Alcohol By Volume) and IBU (International Bitterness Units). I've learned that I actually like my beer like I like my coffee - strong and dark, none of this "blond" nonsense.

Not only did I finish (and love) GONE GIRL, but I recently read three very different books that I also loved, this:


This:


And:



I read this great article and decided that yes, life is way too short to be busy.

Every year for the last seventeen years people have said, "Have a great summer!" Or asked, "Are you having a great summer?" I have nodded, lied, agreed, responded appropriately, all the while hating summer and the horse summer rode in on.

This year, we have actually had a great summer.

To all of you that suffer in summer with your kids, especially special-needs kids, home and at loose ends, there is hope. While Wil is still far from easy and I am still very much responding to his every wish/need/command, he is more independent. He is able to find stuff to do for longer stretches of time. He is able to make some of his own plans and carry them out on his own. He is able to be left alone for a couple of hours without worry that disaster will strike.

While not easy, it is easier.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Om

(My 8-year-old nephew, Kunga, meditating)

I am no expert on the Dharmic religions, but I do know that Om is the most sacred mantra, which embodies the essence of the entire universe. That's quite a lot for two little letters.

I recently watched the PBS documentary, "Neurotypical," which is the term those of us in the autism community call those without autism. I could sit here all day and argue that there is no such thing as "typical," that I've yet to meet anyone "typical," and we're all some fascinating combination of different abilities, gifts, talents, and challenges, but because this is only a blog post and not a full-length book (yet), I won't. I will stick to the terms, "neurotypical" and "autistic."

Do yourself a favor and watch this 53-minute documentary. You will never ever think of the game of tag, the same way again. There is a 41-year-old man named Wolf featured, he eloquently describes the experience of having autism, and the systems he's put into place to make sense of the world.

We all need systems in place to make sense of the world. The world is not an easy place to make sense of. Whatever systems we can put into place to quiet the mind, still the thoughts, calm our center and settle us down long enough to regroup before going back "out there," that's a universal need not limited to those with autism, one might even say that's a "typical" need.

Om.