You May Take The Floor

When you’re the problem solver for a good lot of people, those individuals expect performance.  The baseline expectation is that you’ll deliver, and historically, pretty much every time, I’ve delivered.  I suffer no delusions of self-importance; don’t misunderstand me–I know I’m not indispensable.  But when you ask me a question, I respond promptly.  When you ask me to get or bring you a thing, I tend to deliver in a timely manner, said item held out for your inspection.

Right now though, I’m not up to fixing mine or anyone else’s problems.  I want to marinate in an isolation ward. A mostly cheery, albeit smartass and bitingly sarcastic nature, is my norm though, right?

Here’s what I would like to share: success.  My son, my boy with this crap muscle disease, who’s becoming more young man than boy by the minute, help me!, competed in a team event.  He hasn’t engaged in a physical contest of any sort since around first grade probably, I honestly don’t even remember anymore.  For the past several months, he and his “teammates” under the tutelage of their band director and a cool dude experienced percussionist to assist-coach, have been rehearsing their behinds off for the district drumline competition.

Drumline is not for the faint of heart, yo, and the pageantry and air of competition made for a memorable, oh heck–historical, Saturday.  The two perennial faves did take first and second, but to see the excitement on our kids’ faces when they learned they made the finals in third place was more than I could have dreamed.  They scored the first music competition trophy in school history, and I couldn’t be more pleased for and proud of them.

They worked for months!  After school rehearsals a couple nights per week, and 4-hour mini-camps on off days and Saturdays, to learn cadences and choreography, and then rehearse their pieces while moving their parts.  My kid was beyond exhausted after rehearsals–trashed–but he persevered.  After Saturday’s first round of performances, scores were tallied, and the four finalists were named.  It was a moment.  As I often do, I marked this moment with tears.  Poor Cat!  My friend whose children attend two schools–older daughter in the top team and son, my kid’s close friend, had to deal with me crying in relief, disbelief, and joy.  Never once, since that horrible January day, if you’d asked, would I have imagined my kid participating in a physical contest such as this.  You’re thinking drumline is musical, and I must be confused, but surely it’s physical.  And it’s magic.

Drumline captain, are you ready?  You may take the floor.

You don’t have to, but you can watch their first round performance by clicking here. I’ll watch another time or two to remind myself that even when I want to fly solo, good things happen when you’ve got a wingman or twenty.

Stay tuned, friends–I’ll be back.

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Neologisms

So I made up two new words this week.  You might think that in so announcing, I’m broadcasting my genius, my absolute trailblazing ways with the words.   Right?

No.  In yet another case of “I used to be smart, but since this very moment is the smartest I will ever be again in my lifetime, you’ll have to trust me on it, because WOW, I can truly be a dumbass, and it’s not likely to look up anytime soon.  Ever.”

See Those Numbers?

Case in point:  I completed The Library Book by Susan Orlean last night.  Her book came highly recommended amid critical acclaim, and through some miracle, the wait time for one of my library’s copies was minimal.  Feeling like I’d won the large-print version lottery (large print, BTW, is a sure-fire way to cut your wait time for any library hold but in this case was not done with intent, but with “Wow, apparently I can’t read small fonts on my phone anymore,” FURTHER demonstrating my cognitive decline, and actually the need for large print too), I began reading.  I promptly fell asleep. Next night, read about four pages, zzzzzzzzzzz.  Next night, the same. . .

My husband observed my lack of progress, inquiring if I actually liked the book.  When I’m pulled in to a story, it’s a challenge to drag me out.  As I obsess over music, so too can I with the written word.  I remarked that I was having a hard time finding characters I liked.  I met the protagonist right off, but hadn’t reconnected with her or felt a kinship with any characters really, so wasn’t feeling any emotional connection, despite the story being about libraries, books, library patrons, librarians, and the devastating 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library–all of whom and which I find intriguing.

See, The Library Book is not a novel of historical fiction.  It’s not a novel.  The Dewey decimals along the spine should have been the first *ding ding ding* moment, but no.  I floundered for a good four days before connecting the decimals.  It’s history, you idiot.  Once I reframed my approach to reading, I dug in.  Four stars.

Of Teenagers and Zombies (Not to be used interchangeably)

A neologism is what you might think it is based on what you see if you have an inclination toward linguistics and the ancient Greeks: neo- (new) and -logos (word).  I invented two new words, y’all!  They’re considered neologisms until they’re widely used and accepted into common parlance and/or Urban Dictionary, whichever comes first probably.

Neologism is a speech path-y word to be sure, but it can be applied in the real world, so now your challenge is to work neologism into polite conversation at your next business meeting.  Go!  I actually do this with my co-workers–not using neologism, but when we are feeling a little full of ourselves or a touch sassy or annoyed, I challenge one of the girls to casually slide in a given word at our next meeting.  Christine almost never disappoints, but then I have to stare at my feet until the urge to bust into a giggle fit and high five her passes.

OK, they’re not new words per se, rather each a portmanteau.  Which in itself is another super cool, fancy word, isn’t it?  A portmanteau typically combines both word sounds and meanings,  like brunch, combining breakfast plus lunch, or Brangelina, combining, well. . . well, you know what makes up that one.  Regretfully, Brangelina is the one that first sprang to mind.  Anyway.

Broffection:  bros + affection–At my son’s sleepover last week, he and his BFF exchanged sentiments of best friend-dom, as they have done since K4.  My little one asserted that first grade was OK and all, but probably the worst grade because his BFF attended a different school that year.  His BFF responded that he hopes they’ll be friends until high school or maybe even college.  They sweetly retell the story of their meeting at least twice annually.  Broffection.

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Genesis, right here.

Zombiance:  zombies + ambiance–As we settled in to watch the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead last night, my husband turned off all the lights, proclaiming, “Ambiance.”  Enough neurons fired at just the right speed, and I replied, “Zombiance” in an instant.  Then I laughed too long and hard at how clever I thought I was, and forced my husband to agree I was an absolute hoot.  Zombiance, yo.  Too bad about Jesus though, huh??

You haven’t heard these before, have you?  I hope you’ll agree that they work semantically and phonetically, and that you’ll think of me when you use them.  You’re welcome, English language, you constantly evolving nut, you.  And if I’m not as clever as I think I am and you’ve heard these before, it’s OK, I know I’m not quick like I used to be.  Sometimes can’t even tell fact from fiction.

Gobble, Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving!  Welcome to Greater Than Gravity’s annual compendium of things for which I feel gratitude.  It’s timed with Thanksgiving not only because Thursday is el día de acción de gracias ( I learned this at work yesterday morning, observing my new SLP in her Spanish-English bilingual classroom), but also because life is too precious not to take a moment to smell the roses.

Take time to notice good.  It’s out there.  Say thanks once in awhile for goodness cast in your direction.  You can Google a couple hundred quotes about how gratitude expressed is a gift for both you and the recipient, and they’re true, but I like to be more specific.

Taking that first step out of bed every morning is an act of bravery against the great unknown.  Some days the heavens smile down upon you, and some days you’re lucky to make it through the day with your heart still beating.  An eighth grade student in my district, Sandra Parks, was shot and killed in her home the other night.  Random violence.  Killed.  In her home.  Though my neighborhood’s crime escalates daily, we live in a comparatively crime-free, “safe” area, and that is a fact I do not take for granted.

I’m pleased to report Number One Son is succeeding in high school (except in Spanish class actually, which for reasons I attribute a little bit to stage fright, he seems to freeze like a glacier on evidences.  “Evidences” are what we used to know as “tests.” So if you don’t know, now you know–bonus points if you rapped that last line á la Hamilton).  He has matured some since August.  He does homework with almost no prodding; he gets out of bed and out the door in a much more timely fashion than he did in August; he has friends; he has extracurricular activities.

I’m going on record announcing that I’m thankful for my idiot dog.  Sure, I refer to him as my idiot dog, but that’s only because he is.  But he is also squishy-headed sweet, and his complete, utter adoration of my husband makes me giggle.  All the while he continues to steal socks, gloves, hats, slippers. . . and invading our personal space, Caleb makes me smile every time I see him, and that’s gotta count for something.

I have friends who tell me stuff like:

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This.

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This. Swabby!!

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Also this.

I’m grateful for my education. I was a high-achieving high school student, but I then equated grades with education–the realization that education included all of me applied in a real-world context came much later in life.  I attended a reputed university, earned two degrees, and came away with a career.  Education has provided me access to some brilliant people who challenge, enlighten, inform, and entertain me.

I’m grateful for travel opportunities.  Specifically this year, I’m grateful for 2018’s summer travel adventure to NYC.  My study partners in the ’80s and ’90s are incomparable travel agents in the new millennium.  New York allowed me two full mom-free days with bright, generous, accomplished women, my college friends.  I reconnected with a friend from whom I’d broken and drifted, but even after these many lost years, getting together again made studying for Neuroanatomy feel as though it had happened just last week.  I handled something badly back in the day, and in that space grew a crevasse.  Time and adulting are healing salves, and I have my friend back.  #nospeechpathleftbehind

I’m grateful for forgiveness.

I thank stars for music, and the geniuses with the talent and drive to write and record music for the rest of us. That a host of someones I’ve never met, and some I have, read my mind and set those thoughts and emotions to melody is magic. Nothing less.

I thank stars for books, and the authors whose words transport me to time and place I’ll never get to visit. To be lost, or to find myself in a story is also magic.  I love that with my Kindle, I can highlight sentences or passages that resonate in some way.  At least weekly, I’m so struck by something I’ve read that I tell a friend or my husband how wish I’d written this first.

It’s my baby’s birthday today.  I have two teenagers now, it’s official.  Pray for me.  I mean, if praying is a thing for you.  If it’s not, then I ask you understand more and judge little about my behavior.  My baby turns thirteen today, yet somehow has managed to avoid angst and drama, remaining the nicest boy you’ll meet.  Sure, he’s also the giantest slob you’ll ever meet, so before you have my boy married off to your cousin’s niece’s daughter, don’t say you haven’t been warned.  He’s the same down-the-middle pitching, pick-six intercepting, offensive touchdown scoring, dog loving, good grades achieving, still leans in to hug his mom, cheek-kissing kid he’s always been.  I had two miscarriages between his brother and him, and I’ve always believed the universe knew better–the world is a better place with this child in it.  Much better.

I don’t know that he’s the kid who’s going to cure cancer or hurl a major league no-hitter, but he’s the kid who’ll hug the cancer-ridden kid at his bedside.  He’ll high-five the teammate who drills the bottom of the ninth walk-off, as happy for the other guy as he’d have been for himself.  We got his report card yesterday, and three (three!) of his teachers described him as a leader.  I’m prouder of that than any home run he’s hit.  I screw up a lot–A LOT–but this kid?  I done good, I did.

Happy birthday, baby.  I know you’re just shy of 6′, and you’re not a baby, I know,  but you’ll always be MY baby.

Happy Thanksgiving, American friends, and Happy Thursday to the rest of you.  Thank you for being here for me, four Thanksgivings in.

No Soy Deportista

Act I Anticipatory Grief

A recently retired colleague of mine is spending her husband’s last days on earth caring for him, loving him as he makes what she calls his “transition.”  The decision was made to cease treatment for his brain cancer, and home hospice care has been initiated.  My heart breaks for her as she chronicles what she knows are his final days on her Caring Bridge page.  She wrote recently about crying–much and often–wrung out in her grief already.  Anticipatory grief. Mourning a finality not yet final.

I had not considered that term, anticipatory grief, since my undergrad days, when I felt lucky to have scored a seat in the popular Psychology of Death and Dying class.

The death of a husband and my son’s muscular dystrophy diagnosis are not comparable life events.  Even a yahoo like me is sensitive to that.  But ever since she reintroduced anticipatory grief into my lexicon, it’s all I can think about.  I spent so many days, weeks, OK, three-plus years now, preparing for my son’s eventual decline, envisioning worst case scenarios.  He remains far from worst case status, but since January 21, 2015, there has not passed even a single day that I’ve not mourned for what he will miss, what he has missed already.  When he practices his Spanish conversation homework identifying personal traits and interests, repeating “no soy deportista” (I am not athletic) and “no me gusta correr” (I don’t like to run), my heart is hollow all the while it races.

The earliest days of this blog were me trying to keep from losing my shit, seeing a future with a decidedly un-sunshiny aura.  It was all quite nebulous then, somedaySomeday, he won’t be able to ride a bike.  Someday, he won’t be able to walk.  Someday, he’ll need assistance dressing and trimming his nails.  My poor friend Nicole had to deal with my work tears two weeks or so back, when I wondered aloud who would take care of my boy if something happened to me someday? Someday is already here.

Act II Coming Out

So he’s not athletic, and doesn’t like running.  He also doesn’t enjoy a four-hour drum rehearsal.  Can’t endure it really.  He’s part of his school’s percussion unit. Ramping up for December’s district competition, they rehearse after school 2-3 nights per week, and have occasional mini-camps, which are four hours in length. This is a child who fatigues while walking or carrying a backpack.  Four hours is a non-starter.

What’s the opposite of not looking forward to something? That.  And that is killing me, because until these marathon rehearsals, playing and looking ahead to the competition was something he very much enjoyed.

Me to my son (significantly edited because I don’t remember every word I said, I mean, I can barely remember to grab my lunch bag some days):  Do you think it’s maybe time to ask your band director for a break?  Can you ask for a short rest period every so often?  Most people think that crushing a practice builds endurance.  For you, intensity of activity only makes you more tired, not better or stronger.  Most people don’t think about it.  Even if he knows you have MD (which he does), he probably doesn’t make it his top priority.  But it’s YOUR top priority, and you, like it or not, are going to have to become an advocate for yourself, son.  You are going to have to get what you need to take care of you, but YOU have to ask.

My son to me (this one I remember verbatim):  I don’t want him to know.

Me: Do you want me to contact him?

Him: NO

Me: Can you maybe think about talking to him?  Just think about it?

Him:  Maybe.  (Clearly placating his mother, “maybe” is code for this conversation is done, get the hell out of my room)

What will it take, which someday will it be before he asks for help?  He’s shown tenacity and commitment to the things he loves–his bass and his drums–but at some point, he won’t get a pass, he’s going to be called to step up and perform on a par with everyone else. He will have to identify himself as a person with a disability. Someday.

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Equal vs. Fair, illustrated. Imagine this, but with a large drum strapped on your shoulders. Then imagine you have a muscle disease that affects the muscles attaching at your shoulders. Thanks for the illustration, imagemart.

Act III The Happy Ending

There’s no happy ending, I’m just messing with ya.  I’m just sad. Just another day.  Earth continues to revolve around the sun, and Thursday will come as it always does, right?  Sometimes the right person comes along at precisely the moment you most need someone to make you laugh though.  You pass an hour trading text messages in between dishes and dinner preparations, and you snort once or twice.  You’re busy cracking wise, trying to be clever, because laughing is freaking amazing medicine.  You’re grateful for the diversion.  There have been 1,658 tomorrows since the diagnosis, and another tomorrow will surely come.  It’ll be OK.  Or it won’t, but it’ll get OK.  OK-er anyway.

#444

I voted yesterday.  Four hundred forty-fourth in my ward.  Maybe my new lucky number?

I remember learning about civics and government as a middle schooler. I was a nervous student of the social sciences; I recall my teacher imparting, with what I perceived to be immense gravity, the import of what we were learning. I wanted to get the facts right.  I mean, sure, I constantly pursued the ‘A,’ but how could I let down our founding fathers? Or worse, the suffragettes?

I’d perform poorly now on tests of the subject matter that captivated and awed me as a young teen. This is not a point of pride, but fact. I’ve arrived at the juncture of life where I have forgotten more shit than I’ll ever learn from here forward.  Also not a point of pride, but fact.  My short term memory is breaking up with me, and it’s getting ugly  She doesn’t even want to be friends.  *sigh*

I distinctly remember my seventh grade teacher telling us that participation in the democratic process allowed us to keep the biggest, most important secret we’d ever have.  She told us that no matter what, no matter who, no matter where, no matter nothing! that no one, NO ONE, could make us share the names of the candidates for whom we voted.  You could be thrown in a torture chamber, held at gunpoint, but no one had any right to force you to divulge your vote.  Being able to vote elevated you into a secret society, and the secret was yours to hold forever.  Pinky swear, cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye.

Pre-teen lack of guile, middle school innocence?  Call it what you will, but her lesson stuck.  I thought it was so, so, so what?  So neat that one day I would get to vote, and you could ask me, but I’d never have to tell you who I voted for.  Even if you said please.  “Neat” is how I came to think of my little secret.  I still kinda do.

You know how I voted yesterday though.  I can invoke my nifty privilege to keep mum, which I intend to because middle school social studies class, you guys!  But you already know.

I hope you voted yesterday.  Social media and 24-hour news networks allow few secrets to be kept these days. You don’t have to share on which side of the aisle you sit, stand, or filled in those little Scantron circles–you too get to keep that private.  Forever.  I slept poorly last night–want to watch/can’t watch/have to check/don’t want to know election returns returned–stole my sleep, but I woke today with a smile.  And the teensiest ray of hope.

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One of my heroes, HEROES, Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, sharing reason 348,734,992 why you should vote.

Sunshine

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.  These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

–Joseph Addison

Sunshine and smiles, that’s me today!  I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which is “peer recognition for bloggers who inspire positivity and joy.”  I can hear you laughing, and if eye rolling were audible, I’d hear that too, you guys.  The irony is not lost on me.

I was nominated by one of my favorite bloggers and author Suzanne at My Dang Blog.  She’s clever as hell, she’s an engaging writer, and I am sure if we were neighbors, both we and our dogs would be best friends and share a bottle of wine at least weekly.  Alas, the heroine of today’s tale lives in Ontario, and I only pretend live in Toronto, which makes the weekly wine date somewhat of a trick to manage. Also, no wine for the dogs.  I mean, that was pretty much understood, right? But I don’t want you to think I’d booze up my Rawr-Rawr just to get him off the couch once in a while.

With her nomination and my acceptance, because I am nothing if not one for sucking up to the universe for praise, I agree to answer some questions she has posed, and because it wasn’t an even ten from her, I’m throwing in a few of my own just ’cause.  See if you can guess which are legit and which come from my own Ask Alexa.

1) What country do you come from?  Born In the USA, just like Springsteen, except more Great Lakes Region-y

2)  Political advertisements: Persuasive or Divisive?  Lies.  Lies.  Lies.  Twisted and manipulated from every angle, but the most menacing are the ones from the nut jobs not sharing my ideology.  Obviously.  Hey, it’s my blog and it’s my award. I tried, y’all, I tried to listen to the other side, to remain open and objective, and use those conversations to inform and educate myself on opposing views, to understand why and how people think it’s OK to mock disabled people and shove LGBTQ individuals back in the closet.  I’ve yet to see the advertisement that convinces me otherwise–“Oh really?  So he’s in favor of sex offenders you say? I better check the other box.  Thank you SO MUCH for this clarifying ad.”  Divisive.  What?  This is the Sunshine Blog Award??  Oh yeah. OK, moving on. . . PS–no one is in favor of sex offenders.

3) Left or Right Handed?  Both, actually.  I have answered this before, so read down to #4 if this is old news.  I consider myself a lefty, as I write with my left hand.  I also bat lefty, lead with my left leg, and use a chef’s knife using my left.  But I throw a ball, cut with scissors, and cut food with my right.  The tasks I do with one hand can absolutely not be accomplished with the other.

4)  Last Song You Listened To?  Soooooo late to the party, but I just downloaded the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast recording.  I don’t know the song’s title, but I think it’s called Cabinet #2.  Everyone in the world knows what I’m talking about except me here.  Last week I went to see the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton smash.  He is an unparalleled talent, but you already know that.  I’d have been a much better student of history if I could have sung it instead of read it.

5) What is your dream destination?  I don’t know that I have one.  In his youth, my husband was in the Air Force Reserve, and had a sortie that landed him in Italy.  From the day we met, he has said he wanted to take me to Italy to revisit what he experienced as his happiest days (I mean his happiest days before I came into his life, obviously).  So there maybe?

6) Why did you burst out laughing in a meeting on Thursday?  This question was directed to My Dang Blog in response to a specific post, but I’ll answer it too.  I burst out laughing twelve times a day, at minimum, at work.  Why?  Because my sense of humor is inappropriate and only marginally safe for work.  But this time there was a specific catalyst: Thursday marked the fifth annual South Toronto Day celebration.

My coworker Christine decorates my work and life with Canadiana and Barenaked Ladies-themed Photoshopped works along with other, more traditional birthday paraphernalia to celebrate the birthday of Ed Robertson, my favorite singer.  Yes, it’s a bit over the top, and no, I DON’T KNOW if the guys in the band think I’m crazy.  Stop asking me!  Christine contributes the swag–no small endeavor–and I supply the treats:  maple leaf cream cookies (naturally), all-dressed potato chips, and an extra special find for SoToDay 2018: maple-bacon chips.  If only they made a poutine flavor!  I have a new boss this school year, and she probably thinks I’ve got a few screws loose, but she did play along and wish me a “Happy Canada, what? your favorite singer? what’s the plane about??” Day.

7) What is your favourite movie? (See, Suzanne’s Canadian, so the “u” stays)  I have a few favorites, but if I’m made to pick just one, it’s Singin’ In The Rain.  It’s not the favorite I’d choose to watch most frequently (that would be The Hangover), but Gene Kelly?  Donald O’Connor?  Come on!  I can never walk away from or turn off That Thing You Do! or The Replacements.  Why is this not a top five list?

8) What crazy thing did you do on Friday night?  Last Friday night was off the hook, yo.  After I recovered from an eternal work week with a small fermented beverage, my husband and I shopped at Sam’s Club.  For those not in the know, Sam’s is a warehouse wholesaler, known for its 50-lb. sacks of rice and 2-gallon drums of olive oil, you know, what every household of four needs.  So yeah, Team Weir crushed the livin’ la vida loca Friday night.

Oh, and also there were showtunes. 

9) Are you happy with your current life?  Yes.  I bitch a lot, but I consider myself a generally happy person.  Positivity is quicksilver these days, which makes the timing of the Sunshine Blogger award especially ironic.  I struggle mightily regarding work issues–of the million things I want to go well or right for our department, I am unable to effect the change I want to see happen, and that frustrates me.   As my number one son navigates the world of high school, I wince as I watch him try so damn hard to accomplish tasks that for his peers come easily.  His classmates don’t even ever have to consider the effort going into activities like walking or holding a drum mallet, but mine does, and I find myself playing a dangerous game of comparisons these days.  I have a number two son for whom most things come effortlessly, and I’m relieved and elated for him.  I have a husband who loves me, a roof over my head, a car that starts when I hit the button every time, and enough to eat that I’m about 8 pounds heavier than I’d like to be.  I’d be a jerk not to be happy about that, right?

10) Do you have any new and interesting bathroom stories?  New and interesting?  Ummm. . .  There was that one time I was in the midst of doing the thing at my favorite breakfast restaurant.  Though my door was latched properly, a woman, apparently new to how public bathroom stall doors work, bashed and bashed on the door until it popped open.  She had the, I don’t know what, nerve? naivete? to look surprised to see me sitting there.  But watch me turn this around.  Ready?  I’m happy to be smart enough to know how bathroom stall doors work.  Go, me!

STOP THE PRESSES!  THIS JUST IN–And I swear on all I hold dear that this is entirely true:  Someone pooped on the floor outside my boss’ office today.  Like turds.  In my office building.  Left (is that the correct verb?) between 8:10 and 8:20 AM.  Am I really happy with my current life????  Maybe I rethink #9 above.

I need a moment.  Or maybe a new job.

Now, according to the rules, I’m supposed to nominate other people for this award. To straight-up plagiarize Suzanne, “Frankly, I follow a lot of people, and you all make me happy, so it’s really hard to narrow the list down without me worrying that I’ve left someone out, but here are some people who are very positive and would probably never throat punch anyone.”

To play along, should they accept my nomination, they’re to refrain from throat punching, answer these questions and pay it forward (or feel free to create your own questions) (or feel free not to answer any of them at all) (or feel free to continue ignoring me because most of these  bloggers/sunshine purveyors don’t know I exist).  But hand over my heart, Suzanne, I adore you and Titus and your Dang Blog, and I’m touched you think that for one hot second I spread sunshine.

Jim, at Random Writings On the Bathroom Wall always has a little something nice or sassy or thoughtful in his posts.  They’re quick hits, and I like ’em.  I believe I read recently that he doesn’t share in the blog awards, but I like the quick read = smile thing.

Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess, is an all-star.  Even when her team loses as many games as the World Series champs win in a season, her spin is funny and sassy, which to me is a ray of sunshine.  And I say this not only because she featured my kid in her blog.  Honestly.  She’s been featured in some pretty big press too!

Gemma, at Wheelescapades, savors tea as she explores the UK, reporting back on accessibility from the driver’s seat.  I especially enjoy her interviews with other bloggers.

Oh, to be a visual artist!  I grin madly every time a new Wrong Hands is published.  Clever word play elevated by terrific illustration.  Love.

Another Jackie, this Jackie writes at Disability & Determination.  Like my son, Jackie also has MD, and shares observations and determination in the every day as well as some of the big picture stuff.  Every post isn’t 100% sunshine, but every keystroke is keepin’ it real, and a good 99% of her posts are, in fact, facing the sun.  When I began blogging, I searched for MD-related posts and writers.  Lucky find for me!

The Bloggess changed my life. Not 100% sunshine, but if bravery and candor and holy crap, the funniest woman on the planet aren’t sunshine, I don’t know what is.  Jenny Lawson is the first blogger I ever followed before I knew that one “followed” a blog. Suzanne’s a fan too! xoxo

Bleeding Out

Today’s tale will not be what you’re expecting based only on its title, just so ya know.

I arrived at one of my schools shortly after noon last Tuesday.  It’s lunch hour when I arrive, so there are pockets of relative quiet and pockets of high activity.  The pockets of high activity are full to bursting, maybe less like pockets and closer to, oh, I don’t know. . .  what’s vast and seemingly endless?  Oceans?  OK, oceans of activity.  During a tsunami.  They’re middle schoolers, so orderly is never quite the expectation, I understand a little noise is in order.

But a throwdown is not.  Last week, I, with a pit in my stomach, watched about one hundred middle schools tear down the hallway–top speed–faces filled with delight as they sprinted to get a good view of “the fight.”  Students squealed and laughed, hooted and hollered, as they raced for a front row seat.

I called the office, which is protocol.  There are safety aides, and it’s their job to step in, break up, and begin de-escalation, so I summoned their help the only way I could.  Last year, when breaking up a fight between second graders destroyed my rotator cuff for the second time, I vowed I’d never again intervene.  I stated to any and all within earshot that a student would have to be bleeding out before I’d intervene.  I felt sick that I kept that promise to myself. The kids weren’t bleeding, and the situation resolved within a minute, tops, but I didn’t step in.

Later Tuesday, I drove back to my office from school, and witnessed a street fight escalating.  Surrounding a parked car, three women were pushing, shoving, screaming at one another.  As my car continued to near the melee, I slowed and veered toward the center of the narrow street, fearing that one woman would push another into my car, or that one could be knocked off-balance and I’d end up hitting a “pedestrian.”  And that’s when I saw the dude on the sidewalk side of the car with the gun in his hand.  I saw the trunk of the car pop open, and drove like hell.

It’s not that I never lose my shit.  I’m not proud to admit that I have a short fuse on some too many issues, and will tanrum (a swear-y, adult version sans violence) when frustrated.  I’ve never been in a physical fight.  Never ran with glee to catch a glimpse of a fight.  Never had a handgun in my pocket or trunk of my car.  Never push and shoved my way around the street.  This is just another Tuesday, and I hate that.  Friends have asked why I didn’t call 911 after the attempted carjacking last month, and I didn’t call 911 about this either.

Just another Tuesday.  And I hate that.

This Tuesday however, I’m wracked with mom guilt and fear of a totally different type: drumline.

The logical, rational part of my brain reminds me that I’m not wholly responsible for my son having muscular dystrophy.  Sure, my contribution is a solid 50%, a number I’d give anything to have computed differently at that magic moment my son became a zygote, but here we are.  He’s got MD.  He’s also got a district music competition in December, and hours of rehearsal before that date.

Yesterday was a no-school, sleep late, par-tay kind of day.  Sorta.  Child Number One had to be at school by 9:00 for a four-hour drumline rehearsal.  They took breaks and all, but he was exhausted.  My kid rarely complains about his physical status, and he didn’t yesterday, but his body language told the whole story before his mouth could or would kick in.

He wants to do well.  He wants not to let the drum corps down.  Every so often though, I ache for him because he can’t build endurance–rehearsal doesn’t make him stronger, just more tired.  He can’t become more coordinated.  And I feel 100% responsible for his MD.

Just another Tuesday.  And I hate that.

Happy Birthday

The first person to remind me that he will be able to drive in one year is in big trouble!

Happy 15th to my firstborn. His path in this world may not be the straight one or the easy one, but for now he seems to be enjoying the view, and that makes his mother’s heart happy.

My Name Is Not Google

My name is not Siri, I’m not Alexa, nor am I your whole frontal cortex.

I quit.

I’m done.

YOU figure it out.

It’s partially my own (un)doing, this learned helplessness I’ve created.  My husband says I should take this as a compliment, but that’s only because he’s not responsible for 90% of the family’s executive functioning. His cognitive load of family management pull typically hovers around 10%.  He’s got lots of grey matter free to roam, 90% more than I feel like I do anyway.  My husband says I should think of it like, “Wow, we all think you’re so smart that naturally you’ll know all the answers to every single one of the questions we ask throughout the day.”

Mmm-hmm. But that’s a load and he knew it, grinning sardonically at me even as he spoke the words.

Part of my work as an SLP is to help children develop reasoning skills, to develop strategies to ask and answer questions, to manipulate information meaningfully and apply it to communicate in a functional, effective manner.  Somehow I’ve managed both to under- and over-therapize my family by nature of my academic training, and now it’s, as the saying goes, biting me in the booty.  They have one strategy, and it’s a good one, effective and successful almost all the time: mom.

This blog post was inspired, or maybe the opposite of inspired, what’s that?–last night shortly before the start of Survivor, the mother of all reality television shows, and one that we have watched as a family for several years now.  Boy Child asks, “Mom, what channel is Survivor on?”

Actually, back the train up for a second. Shortly before this, my son asked me one his 482 questions per day–its matter not critical enough that I can even recall what it was twelve hours later–but I Googled the answer, and reported back about my findings.

*crickets chirping from the peanut gallery*

Blown off, I erupted, disproportionately pissed off, and decided rashly (as all sound parenting decisions are made, naturally) that I was done being the family’s answer generator.

Hmmmm. . .  if only there were a device that, at your fingertips, could access all the information the world has to offer.  OH WAIT!  THERE IS AND YOU HAVE ONE.  And its name is not Wendy or Mom, it’s your iPhone, and it can–wait for it. . .  ACCESS THE INTERNET.

I’m moderately proficient with technology, I do have a natural curiosity, and my brain is crazy-full-up with random bits of trivia. You totally want me on your trivia team, you do! But I can’t be, no, I won’t be everyone’s answer gal. Throne abdicated.

“But Mom, I asked nicely,” came the reply from Boy Child. Yeah, you did, but I feel like navigating the TV remote is a job you can problem-solve on your own from this day forward.

I have this look (glare?) that simultaneously captures frustration, exasperation, and OMG! I’m not saying it’s an expression I’d ever want to take on the receiving end, but it’s now my I’m not answering this question for you face.

I can’t help but think I do deserve that face back for letting things get here. My husband had to close an email account because he forgot the password AND his password recovery options AND his own answers to his secret questions, as if somehow the computer was supposed to know what his favorite song in 1992 was. Oh, and guess who created his replacement gmail account? Yep.

Neither child knows how to connect his PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. Netflix? DirecTV? Print something?? That’s OK, I’ll just stare st a blank wall, thanks. You don’t expect ME to set it up, do you?

You know what? Yeah, I do. The only way I came in possession of my “tech sense” was by Googling question after question and working through solutions until I figured out a fix to whatever problem I’d faced. I know next to nothing, but my pile of next to nothing is Technology Mount Everest in our home.

This popped up in my Facebook feed today, and I lost it. This topic warrants a whole new post unto itself, so stay tuned! So worth the share today though.

Boys, you are intelligent, imaginative creatures! You’re clever. Your achievement is above average, decently above. You make me laugh. You make me proud. And you make me nuts when you give it less than your all. Always give it your all. Don’t let someone else steer when you’re driving. Even when it seems as inconsequential as asking your mom a thousand questions I am sure you don’t even know you ask. Keep asking! But start and keep seeking. That’s the big takeaway here, OK?

Rash may have been the decision mid-eye roll, but in the long run, wise, really. For them.

My Kind of Town: A Tale of Two Marathons

She did it!

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She inspires me too! Sign by her friend Heidi, who biked and Ubered the route to cheer Lauren to the finish.

My niece Lauren conquered the Chicago Marathon yesterday.  Not that there would have been one shred of disappointment otherwise, but she ran every, single, agonizing step in her 26.2 yesterday.  Every.  Single.  Step.  Agonizing is my word, not hers.  That girl smiled every step of the way, and I swear on all that is good and true in this world, her makeup didn’t even run.  Not even after pounding out the first eleven or so miles in the pouring rain.

Until several months ago, Lauren wasn’t a runner.  She was an incredibly fit, young twenty-something graduate student (speech-language pathologist in the making–so, so proud!), but not a runner.  Like not even hahahaha, I’m a runner.  But Lauren committed to running the Chicago Marathon as a member of Team Momentum, the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s support and fund-raising team, and suddenly last winter she sprung it on us that she’d committed to a full-on 26.2.

She sent me this photo early yesterday morning, and I couldn’t even talk.  My son and I were ready to hop the Hiawatha Line to Chicago’s Union Station to be part of marathon madness, and when I saw the photo, I was grateful for waterproof mascara.  I couldn’t talk.  My husband was all, “What’s wrong, what’s wrong???” until I showed him the photo.  And then I shared it with the world on social media, because goodness should be shared.

Ninety minutes later, still seated on the train, my boy and I spied runners crossing over the Chicago River from Union Station, and because I am a freak about time, I felt like if we didn’t get out there RIGHT NOW, we would miss Lauren.  It took about forty minutes, in a not-light kind of rain, to find my sister- and brother-in-law in the throng.  And let me tell you what an inspiring, encouraging throng it was: positive energy flowed from every cowbell-shaking, sign-carrying, hollering-for-anyone-whose-name-or-team-name-could-be-read-from-their-jerseys sideliner as the marathoners passed by.  The runners smiled, waved, cheered, thumbs-upped back to their adoring fans.  If you weren’t moved by the buzz, even in the deluge, your heart must be made of stone.

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My kind of humor

We first spotted Lauren at the 13-mile marker, the halfway point.  She ran over to us, hugged us all–enormous grin the whole while–and kept hammering.  I cried.  We spotted her at mile 17.  I cried.  We spotted her at mile 20, still radiant, and I cried.

When she began to pick up speed at mile 25, I cried.  Afterward, Lauren said that when she saw the one mile to go marker, she just picked it up and, I believe her word was sprinted to the finish.  I can’t disagree.  Look at her!  Smiling still, waving, taking it all in, even faster than the 25 miles before it.

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After her thermal blanket and medal were around her shoulders and neck, we hiked another mile north to the MDA’s race team headquarters, a snazzy, downtown workout facility.  My sis- and bro-in-law joked that we couldn’t possibly complain about our own aching backs, knees, ankles after, you know, Lauren had COMPLETED A MARATHON, but I was beat.  They were beat.  My son was barely hanging on.  BEAT.  As we trekked that last mile, (well, technically my boy and I still had another mile-plus walk back to the train station), my kid admitted finally that he needed a break.  And snacks.

See, the whole reason we’ve embraced and been embraced by the MDA is because my son has muscular dystrophy, and while Lauren killed 26.2, my boy crushed his own 10.4 miles yesterday.  And yeah, I cried. It was the theme of the day, after all.  The boy complained not once, not ever, but did agree that maybe hailing an Uber from mile marker 20 to mile marker 25 would “be nice.”  My son gets this posture when he’s fatigued, and he held that position for much of his day yesterday.  But you’d never have known how exhausted he was by speaking with him.  My son isn’t one with the social gifts, and he’s fourteen, so not what you’d call “chatty,” ahem, but he smiled for the camera as his weepy mother demanded.  Well, sorta.

So the moral of the story is this:  As Lauren demonstrated, you can do just about anything you set your mind to.  You can change the world for a kid with a horrible muscle disease, and lead by an example of determination and goodness.  You can reduce your aunt to a blubbering mess repeatedly, and she’ll only love you more for it.

We usually spend our days in Chicago looking up at its marvelous architecture, but yesterday was spent looking ahead, and the view was magnificent.

Chicago, you really are my kind of town.