Thank you to everyone who continues to find me and read my blog. Your visits and page views mean more than you will ever know. I hope you find that my words resonate with you and bring you hope because hope sustains life. 😊😀
Peter came home the other day wearing a shirt from the clinic. He’d spilled his lunch so he got a loaner to wear for the day. Besides noticing that he didn’t have on a shirt that I recognized, I immediately smelled the unfamiliar and quite pungent scent of a laundry detergent when he came through the door. I’ve always used unscented varieties because I’m prone to headaches and anything else sends me into orbit. And even after laundering the said shirt, so it’d be clean for the next child who lost a fight with a ketchup packet, the odorous smell wouldn’t wash out. Ever noticed how detergents sometimes make people’s house smell?
My girls say that everyone has a house smell. A smell that stays with you even when you’re away from home. Usually it’s some combination of laundry detergent, grooming products, and other scents from regular happenings inside a home. It’s also not uncommon to smell other people’s house smell but not recognize your own. I know I can’t describe how I smell except to say that it’s not laundry detergent. Whoever is on my receiving end, please let me smell like a glorious combination of homemade foods and bath products and not the aroma of animal excrement or cleaning solutions.
Having a smell of the non-digestive variety isn’t bad. I’m speaking generally because, of course, there are always exceptions like those people drowning in strong perfumes. The ones who don’t know they reek to everyone around them. Still, most people feel uneasy hearing that they have a smell because it brings up insecurities. Whenever my kids tell their grandmother she has a smell she envisions having an unpleasant odor from things like moth balls, vintage polyester, and anything else equated to old age. She smells like none of those things.
The other day I was thinking, hypothetically, which of my five sense could I live without? (Side note: I was also hypothetically blocking out my husband commenting sarcastically, wondering how I come up with these questions.) I narrowed the senses down to taste and smell. Then I settled on taste as the one to lose. I would miss my sense of smell. Smell is as much a component of our memories as the events we recall in our mind. Every time I smell Wrigley’s gum I remember my late grandfather. And one of the first things I did when I found my diary from 1984 was open it and inhale the pages. The smell transported me to my childhood. Smell isn’t just about the here and now. It’s a link to our past.
Do you ever want a "do over" in life? Well, last night I had my chance when my daughter opened the front door to let our cat back inside and squealed at the sight of the cat's nightly catch, still alive on our coir rug. (The rabbit last week was already dead.) That's one of the things I hate about being an adult: being thrust into unavoidable situations that you want to defer to someone else or just ignore all together. But I can't silence the deafening cry of humanity, urging me to intervene between acts of nature, to save the helpless rabbit being toyed with for the cat's enjoyment.
We corralled the cat inside the house, where she licked her lips and peered through the window, anxious to reconvene her torturous ways. In the meantime, the children and I rushed around frantically, finding a pair of gloves and a flashlight that worked, to locate the bunny that had run for its life. We followed the sounds of scratching claws on metal and found the bunny hiding in a drainpipe shielded by a bushy clematis vine. We pulled down the greenery for a clearer view and pulled the nervous rabbit to safety.
I have a soft spot for rabbits and have owned many as pets. At least up until a few years ago when I thought I'd had my fill of rabbits for a lifetime. To be fair, I'd had my fill of every living thing and was stretched beyond my limits with a child I'd come to learn had autism. So when our last rabbit died, a day of relief more than sadness (sorry to be so blunt), I sold all of my rabbit paraphernalia on Craigslist, presumably closing that chapter for life. I never thought I'd own another cat either, after having one develop feline aids, though we know how well that's worked out for me. I guess the lesson is: never say never. Interesting how neither my cat nor any of my rabbits ever had real names. I'm not sure whether to read anything into that or not.
The rescued bunny didn't come out of the attack unscathed. It had one puncture wound on its underside and a small area of exposed bone on the hind leg. See how those unavoidable situations are never easy? I couldn't bear to put the bunny back out into the wild or let my cat finish her off. So we found an empty cooler, built a soft nest, and let her recover in the quiet garage since rabbits are prone to heart attacks brought on by stress. That might be nature's way of making the sacrifice less painful for those on the low end of the food chain. By morning, the bunny had passed away.
Sometimes I don't want any do overs in life. The days where I don't want any second chances and don't want to be forced into those situations that challenge my Pollyanna view of the world. I prefer that naive frame of mind that lets me believe only the good exists. I hate suffering in any form. But to live is to feel and to breathe is to suffer at times. Accepting that truth doesn't make it any easier to cope.
“Happiness. Love. Money. That’s all you need in life,” proclaimed my 13-year-old son assuredly. How wise and succinct and overly simplified, I thought. But isn’t that the beauty of a child’s mind? To strip life of all its complications. As I pondered those three variables, I challenged my son to put them in order of what’s most important, praying in my head (figuratively, of course) that he wouldn’t say money first. And, for clarity, money refers to the cost to live and not acquiring a fortune.
We drove in momentary silence. I wasn’t even sure how I’d rank them because, like most people, all three seem linked. Perhaps even subconsciously intertwined in our minds like money and happiness. Then, without pausing, my son answered, “Love. Money. Happiness.” My son: the romanticist! Maybe he’s the next Iranian poet, Hafez, who wrote, “When all of your desires are distilled, you will cast just two votes: to love more and to be happy."
A few nights later, my husband came home from work clutching a book that one of his customer’s had given him. Some born again Christian (my eyes immediately glazed over) had just received a book from a speaker at his church, David Nasser. Some Iranian exile who found Jesus after coming to America and wrote about it in Jumping Through Fires. My husband had left Iran, too, but he’d never had any desire to search for Jesus. If he had, our marriage might’ve ended much sooner. He handed me the book. I feigned interest, thumbing through the pages and casually flipping the book over to see the author’s picture, knowing that there was no way in hell I’d go anywhere near it. And then I read it, dedication to epilogue, in record time.
The meaning behind one passage has stayed in my mind. Nasser is speaking to a girl he likes.
“Are you and your boyfriend overwhelmed with each other, or is being together just the safe thing to do? This isn’t about dating, or a job, but about living life with no regrets. Whoever you end up with, or whatever you end up doing with your life, I just want to encourage you to make sure it makes your heart beat fast…I’m just challenging
you to make sure you don’t end up living a life filled with regret.
God’s plans are not always the safest.”
Quick! Someone tell my dad that I’m writing about God. Seriously, though, aren’t we all in search of love? Fulfillment? That thing in life that makes us jump out of bed each day, smile authentically, and hopefully follow a path that’s void of regret. To find the comfort in knowing that we’re living a life of purpose—our unique purpose. I won’t go so far as saying His purpose. Let’s not get carried away; this isn’t a come to Jesus moment. I just want to live in a way that elates my soul with the purest joy imaginable. I believe that exists. I want that and I’m going to get it.
I remember being in middle school and getting a pep talk from one of my basketball coaches. I was around the same age as my son, thirteen. I was unhappy and lost like most adolescent kids. My coach drew a line on a yellow legal pad with a capital ‘A’ and ‘B’ at each end. The lesson was about how to get from point A to point B, the destination. As I think about my life now in that same context, I’m nowhere near my destination. I’m not even on the line.
I once heard the advice that dream seekers should put 10% of their time towards fulfilling a dream. Blogging is not my dream. I keep asking myself, “How many blog clicks would it take to make it all worth it?” There isn’t a number high enough. I blogged to build an audience for my memoir, now titled Crockpots to Crackpipes, so some New York publisher would notice me. I thought that publishing a book was my dream. And it is, ONE of my dreams, one day. I keep living for one day. I want to live for now.
Dreams change and timelines move. So farewell for now. If you need me I’ll be in search of love, money, and happiness. I’m just sure in which order.
To quote the 80s cult hit Weird Science, “She’s alive!” Yes, I’m here. And, yes, that is odd that I’m quoting from a movie that I likely didn’t ever finish watching. Now that I think of it, I think my son might like that movie, a boys’ real life fantasy come true.
I was afraid that some people might’ve thought I’d bailed on life given my somewhat cryptic post before signing off in May. What I’d hoped to gain, i.e. clarity, just hasn’t happened. I guess that’s the fantasist in me wishing for something without thinking through the details. Summer + kids don’t equal peace of mind. I can’t even hear my thoughts. I’m more frazzled than when I signed off a month ago. More than a month ago now. I didn’t intend to stay gone this long.
Today is the first day I’ve compiled all of my random thoughts that were stuck in my blogging folder, scribbled on Post Its and on the back of grocery lists. Ideas that I can’t wait to write about. Things like mohawks and autism and how Peter smoked an E-cigarette. My nightmare shopping trip searching for a bathing suit for a 10 year-old girl and how my daughter nearly took off all of her eyebrows. But here’s the thing: I can’t think to blog with these kids around!
My bedroom is like the mecca of our home. A playroom in the absence of a real one. Sure, I could exert my parental authority and kick them out. But it occupies them and keeps them outta my hair. Some things are worth everything.
And even if I were to think enough to write, this damn computer is beyond frustrating! The one that we all stand in line to use. I know hardships are relative, but trying to share one computer for a family of six is a challenge. Access is one thing; using the computer another. There are pop ups and unprovoked commercials blaring from the screen. The computer won’t recognize my flash drive and my blogging site is messed up. There’s a strategy I have to use just to sign on. I’m not able to edit once I post. And when I’m not able to do something to my standards, well, it busts my motivation.
So for now, I’m signing off again until early August. By then, I hope my life will calm down and I’ll get the technical kinks worked out. Not by me, of course. I barely understand ram and gigabytes, etc. I’ll leave you with the quote of the month. More an excerpt really, from my daughter’s teacher’s fifth grade commencement speech. Now, if we could just teach our husbands the same thing…
If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can’t fix it, call someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you move it, put it back.
If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
If it’s none of your business, stay out of it.
If what you have to say will brighten someone’s day, say it!
If what you have to say will hurt somebody, don’t say it!
If something isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.
If you think you know it all, look around and see how little you really know.
Thank you to all my loyal readers and the ones checking me out for the first time. Every time I checked my blog visitors, I had that queasy feeling thinking you forgot about me. You know, that same feeling of anxiety before I check my bank balance. That’s on my blog list to: misplaced anxiety.
Happy July 4th!
Go Team U.S.A.!
(I can't even do the colored fonts I want! Grrrr....)
School's out and so am I.
I'm taking a blogging hiatus for a few weeks to mother without distraction; to reflect on where I am and where I'm going; and to nourish a discontented soul. And that break just might include a few margaritas or two, or three, ...
P.S. The chipmunk is alive and well outside...until the next encounter with a hungry feline.
When I arrived home after running errands yesterday, my eleven-year-old daughter says, “I have something to tell you. You’re not going to like it.” I’d been hoping to come in, throw down my packages, and start caramelizing some onions for dinner. Call it that mom-stinct, but I knew something was off. My daughter was wearing my garden gloves. Peter had on a pair, too. I could hear the dogs barking from behind a closed door instead of coming to greet me like they normally do. “There’s a chipmunk that went in this hole,” my daughter confessed. She pointed underneath the kitchen cabinets, at my feet, where I needed to stand to cook. I knew that hole, an opening really, because I’d wiped the cabinets and cleaned the baseboards. Not recently, but in the past. And I could see the signs of her desperation. She’d stirred up a giant dust bunny trying to poke the chipmunk out with a fly swatter.
My daughter has a track record of teasing me and with her misattributed grin accompanying her remorse, my first response was to ask, “You’re kidding, right?” And then it dawned on me, why was there a chipmunk in the house in the first place? Time for a Cape Cod. And time for twenty questions because that’s what I do. How do you know it was a chipmunk? Was it a flying squirrel? (Maybe we could keep it as a pet.) Was the tail flat? Did it have black stripes? How do you know it was a baby? How big was it? Was it injured since she’d saved it from the cat? And, most importantly, what made you bring it inside? Why not put it in a bucket? I was trying to understand her rationale. I couldn’t. This was stupid. Sometimes there are no appropriate synonyms for stupid.
Now it’s not uncommon for wildlife to venture inside, usually House Wrens and the occasional skink, whenever I leave the door cracked for the dogs and cat to go and come or just to listen to the rain. Just that morning there was a bird flying around my bedroom. I watched it perch on my fan and on the window valance. On my treadmill and the computer desk. And I think I dozed off when it flew back outside. My husband says our house is something out of Robinson Caruso. (Side note: I confess I don’t know much about Robinson Caruso. I’d like to at least get partial credit for knowing about Davy Crockett? He wore those raccoon hats, right?) My husband teases that he’s going to wake up one morning with a raccoon hovering over him. That would be our luck, too. And inside I ponder that adventure. Wouldn’t that be a tale to tell? I’ve learned to watch what I wish for because a simple thought can manifest itself true.
Nearly twenty-four hours have passed and there hasn’t been a single sighting of that chipmunk or that distinct chirping sound. Please don’t let there be a smell.
To be continued…
*I've always wondered who has time to post mindless videos on YouTube. I guess for people like me who have the time to watch them.
Among the standard colors in the rainbow, it seems that blue has the most variations. Perhaps that’s why so many people cite it as their favorite color. I happen to prefer fiery red. Think about it. Have you ever tried describing the color blue to someone? There are sky blues, royal blues, and electric blues. There are gray blues, green blues, and blue blues, muted and radiant and somewhere in between. There are teals, turquoises, and periwinkles which often straddle the line of purple and blue depending on the richness of the hue. There’s the range of ombré blues in the ocean that vary with the depth of the water. There’s Bluebird blue, Blue Jay blue, and Robin’s egg blue that hatches a bird without a speck of blue.
Have you ever noticed how many companies use blue in their logo? Just look at the ones related to technology and you’ll see they’re predominately blue: Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Windows, Dell, HP, and AOL. Insurance companies seem to use a lot of blue: Progressive, Allstate, Kaiser Permanente, Geico, Nationwide, Aetna, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Maybe blue is like Switzerland in terms of being aesthetically neutral. I’ve never heard any opposition to blue. Blue is just kind of there.
Autism Speaks uses the color blue for their puzzle piece. After doing some research, I learned that the organization uses blue to represent the disproportionate number of boys who are diagnosed than girls. For me, blue is the perfect choice to signify autism because the spectrum of blues represents the variation in those affected. Here’s how autism shows in Peter:
FACE VALUE: My daughter was using a Clorox bleach pen to make the rubber on her Converse shoes look new again. Peter was watching. I warned them about getting bleach on their clothes because it would turn the colored parts white. Kind of like deodorant does only permanent. A little while later Peter came into the house holding back tears. Some bleach got onto his skin and he thought he’d discolored his skin forever. Because every child who’s colored a picture knows that Caucasians aren’t really white but a peachy color.
SENSORY: One good thing about having two kids of the same sex is all the money I’ve saved on hand me down clothes. (Side note: I used to write hammy downs, spelling it exactly as I pronounced it. Thanks for the correction, Mom.) Of course there are many clothing items that didn’t work for Peter like frat shirts and shorts with buttons and hook and eye clasps and any other bottom that wasn’t straight elastic. One day he even complained that the leg holes in his shorts were too big. So I dropped a change of shorts at school so he’d be comfortable. He’s even said that wearing socks bothers him. So he took matters into his own hands and came home from school showing me how he’d cut them.
HOARD & PURGE: One thing Peter will probably never be accused of is having too much clutter around. He’s always organizing and reorganizing his room for fun. He’ll move stuff from his closet and arrange it on the perimeter of his bed, forgetting that he hasn’t left enough room to sleep. He’s even tried selling some of his military toys to a preschool neighbor. Toys that he’d been given as recently as Christmas, though he'd spent more time hoarding them than he did actually playing with them.
NEVER MET A STRANGER: Peter accidentally dialed a wrong number on our house phone. Instead of hanging up, he made “friends” with the person. He told me the boy was eighteen and he’d even played the piano while Peter listened. Sight unseen, Peter didn’t understand how this person was a stranger. I had to hide the handset so Peter would stop calling.
SOCIAL CUES: This one could be lumped in with the one above about strangers. When I took Peter to get his stitches removed, the receptionist was finishing up a call. As soon as he hung up the phone, Peter asked, “Who was that?” The receptionist and I smiled at one another. “Nobody has ever asked me that!” he replied with his upper lip catching on his silver braces. We both found the humor in Peter’s misstep according to social norms.
As the saying goes: “If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person with autism.” The same is true about Peter. He's definitely one of a kind.
I sat down to write this morning and then, like usual, I found myself caught up in a maze of internet sites that's typically my warm up routine to start the day. Some were time wasters like celebrity gossip sites and news sites that recycle stories as breaking news. (Ahem, CNN.) And then I followed a “friend’s” link on Facebook to this site http://bensauer.blogspot.com/
WARNING: Going here will make you think differently about your life, your children, and every minor problem you might’ve thought was major. None of it compares to this family’s heartache. Even the religious references didn’t bother me. Joan Rivers recently said that humor makes life more palatable. I think that’s what religion does for so many. And lord knows this family needs it, Him, or whatever will ease their suffering. Their religion is what I call hope.
I dare you to visit this site without shedding a tear or having more appreciation for your own life. That’s about the only upside that comes from someone else’s pain.
When my son turned thirteen in March it was somehow his birthday weekend. Not a single day, but a three day event where my son was on a pedestal and I catered to his every need, within reason. It just so happened that his birthday fell on a Saturday so stretching out the celebrations made sense. So when last Friday arrived, I announced that it was Mother’s Day weekend. Not a single day, but that same kind of celebration I’d given my son. Would you believe that he had the nerve to tell me that Mother’s Day is just that--a day? One Sunday a year. Then slowly he talked himself into a hole when I brought up his birthday weekend. And if you ask me, if any celebration should be extended it’s Mother’s Day. Am I right? My son isn’t entirely self-centered, though. He had his siblings trace their handprints on a canvas and he also gave me this card that he’d bought and paid for on his own.
I didn’t mind sharing my weekend with my daughter who celebrated her tenth birthday today. Double digits: Lord help me! My kids are always perplexed when I throw out that expression given that I’m not the church type. Lord, forgive me for saying that. Damn! That won’t work either. I’m sure I’ll be white-knuckling it through the next decade with or without the Lord’s help. Maybe forever if she’s anything like me. I took her to see Mom’s Night Out on Friday, which is a rare treat, just the two of us. And there I was on screen. Not actually me, but a woman sort of like me with a familiarity about her life that I couldn’t deny. Blogger? Check. Eagle watcher? Check. Burned out homemaker? Check. Even my daughter turned to me and giggled. (Side note: As much as I enjoy Patricia Heaton, save your money and wait until it comes to D.V.D. Sometimes the only funny parts came from laughing at the woman’s laugh who was seated next to me. But I’m also known to have a selective sense of humor. Translation: none.)
By far the best present that I received arrived around 6:30 a.m. I’d already awakened myself after mistakenly setting my school days alarm for 6:10. So much for sleeping in on Mother’s Day of all days. I recognized the meow right away because I hadn’t heard it for days. Four days to be exact since our cat went missing. I had assumed the worst- a fox, coyote, raccoon- or some other creature carrying out payback for tormenting some other helpless soul like the Chipmunk and Mourning Dove she’d brought home earlier in the week. My daughter had a stack of flyers ready to put up today because there’s always that sliver of hope until any proof forces you to believe otherwise. Hope. I’ve always loved that word for emoting the raw essence of life. Hope sustains life. And sometimes the best gifts in life are the unexpected ones. Just like conceiving my thirteen year old son.
Thank you for reading. Somehow the words “thank you” never feels adequate enough. But for now that’s all I’ve got. Thank you.