Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thoughts in brief

Blogging continues to fall to the bottom of the priority list these days, and for that I apologize. I have been thinking about you, though, and my mental list of Things to Blog is ever-growing. In the interest of actually hoping to get any of them to the "publish" stage, I'm foregoing the exposition and posting some thumbnails instead.

Here, then, is a run-down of what's capturing my attention lately:

1. Paul McCartney's upcoming album, Memory Almost Full: If early press is reliable, this album promises to be one of the highlights of McCartney's career. (I speculated in an earlier post that this might be the case, as there tends to be an inverse relationship between calm happiness in Paul's personal life and the quality of the albums he produces.) I simply can't wait to hear it. You can view the video for "Dance Tonight," the album's opening track, here and the Electronic Press Kit for the album here. Oh my, oh my, oh my.

2. Tuesday, June 5: This is a red-letter day because of the release of (see above) Memory Almost Full. It will be McCartney's first release available on iTunes (and is currently available for preorder), and it will be his first release on Starbucks' Hear Music label. Starbucks will be hosting "a global listening event" on June 5, in which they will play nothing but Memory Almost Full in their stores all day. XM satellite radio is getting in on the action as well, not only on their Hear Music channel (75), which will be airing special Macca programming on release week, but also by dedicating channel 120 exclusively to McCartney (with a special emphasis on Memory Almost Full) all day on June 5. If, like me, you have XM radio in your car, and if, like me, you have it programmed to notify you anytime Paul McCartney is playing on any channel, then you will have noticed today that your satellite receiver pinged every two or three minutes as every other channel on the dial advertised the upcoming June 5 radio event. It is, indeed, A Happening. And yes, I am taking the day off from work. Anyone want to meet for a cappuccino?

3. Good reading on parenting: A thoughtful reader pointed me toward this Op/Ed piece in the LA Times, written by Ralph James Savarese, whose new book Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism & Adoption is getting great early reviews. I wanted to read the book anyway; this article makes me want to read it soon.

4. Reality TV: I've outed myself on the reality tv thing before, so that in itself is not news. But, I have to say, last week was a one-two punch, as first Joey Fatone lost to Apolo Anton Ohno on Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday, and then Blake Lewis fell to Jordin Sparks on Wednesday's American Idol. Honestly, it took everything I had to muster up the courage to tune into the new season of So You Think You Can Dance on Thursday.

5. Good reading on writing: I have had this post on writing from Kristen at From Here to There and Back saved in my Bloglines account since she posted it two weeks ago. In it, she talks about her journey as a writer and her attempts to walk away from writing, which always result in her return to it. It speaks to me, I'm sure, because I am still mostly on hiatus from blogging and, it seems, mostly on hiatus from writing. I keep returning to her post to read a single line - a line that serves as some sort of homing device for me. "I come back," she writes, "because when I write, I am alive."

6. Eating my words: And while I'm writing about writing, I may as well 'fess up to this. Remember last fall when I angsted long and loud about teaching writing to first-year college students? Remember how I vowed that I would never do it again? Well, teaching must be a little like childbirth, because somehow no matter how painful the experience, it tends to have a way to make you want to seek it out again. I'm signed on for Round 2 this fall.

7. Beach weather: Summer has arrived early in our little neck of the woods, and Bud and I have been taking full advantage of it. I've got to say - after a long, cold winter, it really feels like coming home.

8. Harry Potter: I'm re-reading the series in anticipation of the July release of Book 7. I've been pacing myself so that I wouldn't finish too early, but now I've got to kick it into high gear, since it's nearly June and I'm only a few chapters into Book 3. Okay - anyone willing to make a prediction on the record here? Severus Snape: Friend or Foe? (Please support your argument.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I was just thinking


Neil from At My Table has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. Neil lives in Melbourne, Australia, and is the father of M, a seven-year-old girl who has autism. If you're not familiar with Neil's blog, I encourage you to check it out - but here's a warning: visit on a full stomach. Neil is a chef and his blog is mostly about food, complete with tantalizing descriptions and photographs that (quite literally) make my mouth water.

Neil occasionally comments here and I occasionally comment on At My Table, but unfortunately I can't point you toward our best exchanges: They have all happened on e-mail. Neil tends to start the conversations. He reads something I've posted, then sends an e-mail that starts with "I see what you mean, but I'm wondering if you've thought about..." or "I think this other thing is also true..." or "Have you ever wondered...", and a terrific dialogue ensues. Though Neil and I come from similar philosophical perspectives, he is still able to challenge my thinking and help me to articulate not just what I believe, but also why I believe it.

In short, a Thinking Blogger Award from Neil is high praise, indeed.

The official rules for participation in the Thinking Blogger Awards meme are as follows:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

So now it's my turn to name five bloggers who make me think. For this round, I am naming writers who, like Neil, have challenged my thinking both on-blog and off. Here are my picks:

1. Kristina Chew from AutismVox: Kristina was one of my earliest blogging friends. I was in awe of her ability to post lengthy daily updates when she chronicled life with her son Charlie at Autismland, but I am completely blown away by the sheer volume of information and opinion she posts at AutismVox. Her blog has become my one-stop-shopping source for all things autism. Beyond the blog, though, Kristina has been an invaluable resource for insight, perspective, and support. Though I have never met her face-to-face, I have spent a lot of time over the past few years talking with her heart-to-heart.

2. Kevin Leitch from Left Brain/Right Brain: When I was new to blogging and new to the concept of neurodiversity, Kevin scared the daylights out of me. Kev doesn't mince words. Ever. He says what he thinks, and he says it loudly and boldly for all the world to hear. As a result, he is something of a lightning rod for those who disagree with his perspectives and his blog tends to be just the sort of blog that mine is not. That's the blogging Kev.

And then there's the other behind-the-scenes Kev (sorry if I'm outing you here, buddy). That Kev - the Kev of e-mail, the Kev behind Autism Hub and the Autism Parents Forum - that Kev knows the importance of connection and support and friendship. That Kev spent a whole afternoon on a trans-Atlantic assist, helping me to realize a last-minute idea I had for a Christmas present for Bud. And that is the Kev who makes me think most, and whom I have come to consider a friend.

3. MothersVox from Autism's Edges: MothersVox is a thinker who makes my head spin and a writer whose words stop me short again and again and again. She is also one of the few bloggers I "know" whose need for privacy rivals my own, which goes a long way in making me feel settled with the issue: If this tremendous thinker shares it, can it really be that bad? And that we have been able to get more "real" behind the scenes is simply an added treat.

4. Kyra from This Mom: Here's the thing about Kyra: whatever she's selling, I'm buying. Kyra writes with a passion that pulls me in every single time. Whether she's writing about tweezers or herbal supplements or autism remediation, when I finish reading her words I am ready to sign on the dotted line: Yes! Me, too! I'll have what she's having! Kyra's highs soar, her lows crash, and she is real, real, real. She is just the sort of blogger friend I need in my life, and I feel very lucky to know she only a click away.

5. Kristen from From Here to There and Back: Kristen is one of my newest blogging friends. Our conversations began on e-mail and I like to think that she is blogging today because I badgered her into. You can thank me later. And believe me, you will thank me.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Remembering Katie

I have a feeling that for the rest of my life, Mother's Day will make me think of Katie McCarron. She has been on my mind all weekend. My heart has been heavy and my thoughts have been with Katie's grandfather, Mike, and the rest of their family.

I've also been thinking about a post I wrote last Mother's Day but never published. It has been sitting in Blogger in draft form for a year. I wrote it before I heard the news about Katie's death, but of course when I read it now, Katie is all I can think about. I'm not sure why I didn't publish it last year - it's difficult to crawl into a year-old psyche. Maybe I just felt too vulnerable.

After a year, though, the post has lost its power for me, so I'll publish it now, in memory of Katie and with loving thoughts for her family.


May 14, 2006
Peaceful Mother's Day

It's everywhere: Happy Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day!

Happy!

Mothers!

Maybe it's because of the miserable weather we're having (or maybe it's something else), but today I haven't been thinking much about how happy I am to be a mother. (Though I really, really am.)

Today I've been thinking about the mothers who have lost their children; I've been thinking about the children who have lost their mothers. And I've been thinking that "happy" is too much to ask of them today.

So, instead, I wish them comfort. I wish them peace.

I wish them a day when nobody tells them to have a happy mother's day.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

On hiatus

You folks are wonderful.

I've received a number of very thoughtful e-mails in recent days from people who are concerned because I seem to have fallen off the edge of the blogosphere. Thank you for those. I can't tell you how much they mean to me.

I'll be taking a hiatus from blogging for a little while because my attention really needs to be focused on some other things. I will be back, probably sooner than later.

Know this, though: Bud is fine and I am fine. And we really appreciate all of the support we get from the people in our lives, both online and off.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Inside out: Blogging Against Disablism Day

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007


This post is written in honor of Blogging Against Disablism Day. To find other participating blogs, click here.

Scenario One:

I'm sitting with a group of college staff members - thoughtful, open-minded, warm-hearted young people in their first professional positions. They are talking about Richard, a student who is probably on the spectrum. He is finishing a rocky first year at the institution. He's been without a roommate since the first weeks of September. He has struggled in many of his classes. He has made few real connections on campus.

The conversation focuses on preparations for next year and centers on concern about Richard's ability to manage placement with a new roommate.

"Couldn't he have gotten a single room for medical reasons?" someone asks.

"He probably could have, but he didn't request one," someone else answers.

Conversation turns to the reasons why it might be difficult for a new roommate to adjust to life with Richard.

"Richard talks to himself as he walks around campus."

"Actually he switches his voice to a higher pitch and talks back to himself."

"Really?"

"Apparently the high-pitch voice has a name. Suzanne. He talks to her, and she talks back."

"Really?!"

On one level, the tone of the conversation is respectful and factual. But I think we are all aware of an undercurrent of incredulity, bemusement, and perhaps pity that is building momentum just beneath the surface.

I'm not sure where the conversation is going and I'm not sure I want to go with it, so I open my mouth.

"When I look at Richard," I say, as heads turn toward me, "I see my son in ten years."

My words are followed by a very thoughtful pause.

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Scenario Two:

I'm reading blogs. There are no new posts on any of my regular reads - the blogs written by parents of children with autism or the blogs written by autistic adults - so I start surfing and I find myself in the world of "mainstream" mom-blogs. I read thought-provoking, insightful prose by mothers whose children are not autistic, are not disabled, are not developmentally delayed.

I am startled to find that so many of these moms seem so much like me.

Then I am startled because I am startled.

I read a post written by a mom looking for support and reassurance. She has a child who is "clingy," who wants to be held, who can only fall asleep in her mother's arms. In this lengthy post, I see flashes of Bud as a baby, Bud as a toddler, myself as a mother. This mom is writing, she says, for reassurance that she is not alone; she wants to know that others have experienced something like this. She's writing, she says, because she is starting to panic, starting to believe that she is not handling this clinginess the "right" way, the way that will be most helpful to her child. She wants to know what other mothers do to get through these moments of panic and self-doubt.

I have a lot to say. I click on "Post a Comment" and the words flow. You are not alone, I say. I have been there, I say. And this. And this. And this. And this, I say.

And then I finish the comment, and I freeze and think:

This mom - this panicky mom - may follow my comment back to my blog. And then she'll discover that Bud is autistic. Bud - the baby who was clingy - the toddler who could not fall asleep unless his arms were wrapped tightly around my neck - the child who reminds me so much of her child - is autistic.

The parts of Bud that remind me of her child are not the parts that pointed to his diagnosis. They are traits shared by many children, autistic and neurotypical alike. I know that. But she may not.

She is looking for reassurance and support - but not, certainly, from mothers like me. She wants to know that she's not alone - but it couldn't possibly help her to know that I am in the seat beside her. She is looking for help. I have nothing to offer.

I delete my comment. I leave nothing in its place.

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Sometimes the disablism we confront in the world outside is a lot easier to handle than the disablism we confront in the world within.