xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: September 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The funniest thing I've seen all week

This week there are three things.

Thing the first is from a post from my friend Bec who blogs at Snagglebox. This picture is being taken out of context, from a very informative post she wrote about autism and pronoun reversal, but I saw this and couldn't stop giggling about it for days afterwards:

Thing the second is just a random tweet that passed by my timeline, from @Leggalicious. ALSO couldn't stop giggling about this one for days. I told her she's a fucking nutjob. She agreed.

And thing the third, which I'm guessing a lot of you have seen already because I've been talking about it for days. The best Facebook thread I have ever participated in, hands down.

Seriously, this shit is internet comedy GOLD.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Won't Back Down needs to back down

So, you know that new movie with the adorable Maggie Gyllenhaal where they "take over the school" and she says "you've heard of those mothers who lift trucks off their babies? They're nothing compared to us" and it's "based on true events" and all that? The preview kind of makes you want to stand up and cheer for this parent who wants to kick ass for her kid, because of course we can relate to that, right? Especially us special needs moms who really would lift a truck if it meant helping our kids get an education.

Well, there's a bit more to know about this movie, which Andrew O'Hehir at Salon describes as "a set of right-wing anti-union talking points disguised (with very limited success) as a mainstream motion-picture-type product." I thought about writing something, but I know that other people can and have done it better and with more success, so I am reprinting (with permission) this article written by Parents Across America (a non-partisan, non-profit grassroots organization that connects parents and activists from across the U.S. to share ideas and work together to improve our nation’s public schools) called What Parents Need to Know: FAQ "Won't Back Down" & Parent Trigger.

I'm posting this because 1. I very much believe in the importance of public education, and 2. I'm really sick of the teacher-hating-union-blaming culture that's been created and this movie is a prime example of that, in my opinion, and 3. Whatever you happen to believe, yourself, it's important to at least know who made this movie and what their intentions were in doing so.

In my opinion the whole "Education Reform" movement comes down to a simple choice: either profit or kids. These two things are mutually exclusive and if your motivation is profit, then your motivation is not the kids. Teachers care about kids; billionaires trying to profit by killing public education do not.

Also check out: Whether or Not They Back Down, Billionaires Don't Care About Our Kids

What Parents Need to Know: FAQ "Won't Back Down" & Parent Trigger
Parents Across America (reprinted with permission)

I’m hearing there’s a lot of controversy about the movie “Won’t Back Down.” Why? Many people believe the film promotes the privatization of public education and inflames a political climate in which teachers are unjustly disparaged and blamed for the effects of poverty and educational inequity.

What is the movie about? The movie tells the story of a group of parents and teachers who use a “Parent Empowerment” law, better known as the Parent Trigger, to take over a school that is failing their children. Parent Trigger legislation, promoted by the right-wing organization American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has been passed in several states, including California, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and isbeing considered in others. But while the movie depicts an inspiring story of parental revolt, actual efforts to use the Parent Trigger have been driven by billionaire-funded supporters of privatization, and have sparked acrimony and division. None of these efforts has actually improved a school. [See Beyond the Hype of the Parent Trigger; Just the facts.]

Who is behind the movie? The movie, due to open September 28, is produced by 20th Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch, and Walden Media, owned by Philip Anschutz. Murdoch’s right-wing politics are well known. Anschutz is an oil-and-gas billionaire who co-produced the anti-teacher film, “Waiting for ‘Superman’.” He contributes to organizations that oppose gay rights and support teaching creationism in schools. Anschutz has also donated to Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Koch brothers, which opposes environmental regulations and union rights, and to the political career of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

What does the Parent Trigger law call for? If 51% of parents at a school can be persuaded to sign a petition calling for any of a narrow set of options – either firing all the teaching staff, closing the school, or privatizing the school by turning it over to a charter operator, this must occur. None of these options has any track record of success.

How did the Parent Trigger law originate? The Parent Trigger was first conceived by a LA-based organization called the Parent Revolution, founded by a charter school operator and funded by the Broad, Walton and Gates Foundations. The legislation was introduced in California by then-State Senator Gloria Romero, who now heads the California branch of the pro-privatization organization, Democrats for Education Reform.

Have Parent Trigger laws worked? The first time the “parent trigger” was tried, Parent Revolution sent operatives into Compton CA, to ask parents to sign a petition saying that their local elementary school should be turned into a charter school. Some parents who signed the petition later said they been misled, the effort was mired in lawsuits and ultimately fizzled. More recently, operatives trained and paid by the Parent Revolution urged parents at the Desert Trails School in Adelanto CA to sign two different petitions: one calling for smaller classes and other positive reforms, the other demanding that the school be turned over to a charter operator. After the organizers submitted only the charter petition to the authorities, nearly 100 parents asked to withdraw their signatures. Yet a judge has ruled that parents could not rescind their signatures and the conversion to a charter school should go forward. Even Gloria Romero, the author of the Parent Trigger law, has criticized the organization’s tactics, and said that presenting Adelanto parents with two different petitions to sign was “needlessly confusing.”

What’s wrong with the Parent Trigger? The idea of “choice” has been manipulated by the corporate reformers and spread by groups like ALEC, who seek to use methods such as the Parent Trigger to turn public schools over to privately-managed charters. This is not real choice; nor is it parent empowerment. Most parents want to see their neighborhood public schools strengthened, with small classes and less emphasis on standardized testing. Even Ben Austin, head of the Parent Revolution has admitted that most parents are not interested in turning their school into a charter, but would rather focus on improving their existing public schools.

But are there other ways to provide better “choices” for parents? There are many ways that districts can provide more and better choices within the public school system, by creating magnet schools and specialized schools that unlike charters, do not drain resources from public schools, privatize public buildings or take decisions out of voters’ hands. Why should a public school built with taxpayer funds be given to a private corporation just because 51% of current users signed a petition? If a local firehouse was ineffective in putting out fires, or a police station in fighting crime, would we choose to hand these public services over to a private company, or would we demand that our elected leaders improve them?

What about “parent empowerment”? Charter schools are run by private corporations that are often more interested in generating profits than in empowering parents. Parents usually have less input into charter schools than public schools. Moreover, most charters do not get better academic results, and many impose harsh disciplinary procedures and push out students who need extra help. Instead, Parents Across America supports true parent empowerment, with real solutions devised from the ground up rather than imposed from above. We want to see the authentic involvement of parents, along with teachers and other stakeholders, in developing school-specific, research-based strategies for improvement.

How can we fight back? Last spring, Florida parent groups, including Parents Across America, banded together to fight Parent Trigger legislation that had been introduced in the state legislature. By holding rallies and press conferences, calling their elected representatives, and speaking out about how the Parent Trigger is a ruse devised by corporate reformers to benefit charter operators rather than children, Florida parents prevented the legislation from being passed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yommy Kippurthday

I'm not very religious. I know, this comes as a huge surprise to you. I am Jewish, however. Yes, you can be a non-religious Jew. Don't ask me how, you just do it. (It's a Heb thing, you wouldn't understand). Anyway, it's Yom Kippur today (I have conveniently provided you with a link so that I wouldn't have to explain anything) and I decided to blog about. Because that's what a good Jew does. However, I'm not sure what you're supposed to say to other Jews to acknowledge this day. Happy Yom Kippur? Merry Yom Kippur?

I asked on Twitter and my friend Bec (you can also find her at Snagglebox) suggested Yommy Kippurthday, and I thought it was a winner. Second place, however, goes to Dave (who you can also find at The Last You'll See of Me) who suggested "Good luck with the whole Judgment-thing!"

I like that one, though. That's a good one. That's actually something I'm likely to say.

Anyway, this being the Day of Atonement, and me being a Jew... no, I'm not actually atoning... I'm certainly not fasting... I had Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni for dinner.... I see a lot of things on Facebook from my "good Jew" friends.

Things like this, for example:
I'm not much of a fan of things like this in general; I particularly hate inspirational messages that aren't sarcastic, written in some flowery font and pasted on top of a photo of the beach at sunset. GOD I fucking hate those things.

So, I thought I'd make my own. This one's more accurate. For me, anyway. But you're free to borrow it if you want

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Oh. My. God. Lice.

It was Thursday mid-morning, and I was home reading reddit working really hard, when I get the phone call that every parent dreads.

It was the school secretary, who happens to be one of the nicest, coolest people in the entire world. "Hi Jill," she says. "How are you, sweetie?"

Oh, god. She called me "sweetie," something must be horribly wrong!!!

"Oh, god, what's wrong?" I ask. "Well," she says "I looked at Child 1's head... and he has nits."

I heard her wrong the first time, so I said "Nips? He has nips?" What are nips? Nipples? His breasts are developing? OH MY GOD HE'S ONLY 10 AND HE HAS MAN BOOBS.

"NITS," she enunciates. "Lice nits."



That's bad.

Child 1 has nits. Child 1 has lice nits. OH MY GOD LICE. We have never had to deal with this before, and it's been my biggest fear since he started elementary school. Not necessarily the itchy gross bug part, but the mechanics of putting crap on his head and making him sit still for however long it's supposed to be on there and somehow getting him to not freak out and rub his head all over the couch or my arm or something.

"Oh god," I say. "Did you check Child 2?"

"Yes," she says, "and he has a few, but not that many."

"OH GOD!" I say again. "I don't know what to do, what am I supposed to do?"

I don't even have any idea what I'm supposed to be purchasing. She tells me that she has a kit that she got for free that she can give me. I say I'm going to come by and look at it and then go to Target and she should use her free kit for somebody who isn't freaking out and plans to go and purchase an entire pharmacy in the next 20 minutes.

Immediately my head starts to itch.

I run to the school to see what she has, which I realize in the moment was pretty stupid and unnecessary, but I have no idea what I'm doing so let's just go with it. Then I run to Walgreens and I purchase as many things as I possibly can (including candy for them and wine for me). I spent about $80. Is that how much you're supposed to spend?

Then I go home. And get on my computer. And post about it on Facebook and Twitter. Panicky posting. People were worried.

Then I get up and I panicky-run back to the school and I have her check me, since my head is now itching so intensely there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that my head is covered in gross bugs.

I'm fine, though; my hair is clean. For now.

Then I go back home and there's nothing I can do except wait for it to be time to pick up the kids.

And post about it some more. By the way, a huge shout-out to my new best friend in the entire world, Leah. Somebody sent me a link to her post My Advice About Lice and then I found her on twitter and she calmly answered my questions without judging or questioning my sanity or anything. Also to Mandy from Mandy Fish who told me that everything was going to be okay despite my freaking out. And to everybody I talked to that day who had advice and funny/nice things to say. Thank you, guys!

HOWEVER... it's hilarious how much contradictory advice I received from people in that time. I've made you guys a list, but first I want to say that please remember that I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm not commenting on the efficacy of any of these suggestions, so if you see in here something you suggested to me, please don't take offense. My only purpose is to point out the hilarity of the whole thing. I mean, I talk to a lot of people, both online and in person, and every single person I talked to had experienced lice before, so they all had something to say about it. And I appreciate that! That's why I go online with these things, to learn from your experiences. It was just funny how everybody contradicted everybody else.

Here's a small list, and I swear to you I'm not making any of this up. I heard all of these things from at least one person in a 3-4 hour period on Thursday afternoon:
  • Get the stuff from the store and follow every direction exactly
  • Don't get the stuff from the store, it doesn't work
  • Get the stuff from the store but don't pay attention to what the directions say
  • Use mayonnaise and saran wrap
  • Whatever you do, don't use mayonnaise and saran wrap
  • Wash the hair with white vinegar
  • Wash the hair with blue Listerine. It has to be the blue stuff
  • Don't pay any attention to the "alternative" methods people will suggest to you
  • Rub with coconut oil
  • Rub with coconut oil, and then follow it up with Tea Tree oil
  • Stay away from coconut oil
  • Let the hair get really dirty, lice hate dirty hair
  • Keep the hair really clean, lice hate clean hair
  • It doesn't matter if it's clean or dirty, lice hate hair products
  • Get a metal comb; throw away the plastic ones that come in the kit
  • The plastic combs that come in the kit are the best ones, don't invest in a metal one
  • Just smother their heads with vasoline and you're done
  • Don't forget to buy some wine for yourself

Needless to say, at this point, I'm confused. I decided to go with the first piece of advice in the list, which is what the school Principal told me on one of my trips there, and I figure, she's the one who decides whether or not my kids get to come back to school, so might as well go with what she says, right? (She also told me I needed to "remove the word 'burrowing'" from my vocabulary, because I said "I CAN FEEL THEM BURROWING INTO MY BRAIN" and she said "don't say 'burrowing', because that's just not right.")

So, finally I go get the kids, and I explain to them the situation, and they're both like "whatever" about it. Except then we get home, and I look at Child 1's head. And I see.... nothing. Nothing that I know of, anyway.

So, again.... I go online and I ask "WTF? There's nothing there? What am I looking for?" and somebody (helpfully) tells me to do a Google Image Search for lice so that I have a reference.

Oh god.

That was such a bad idea.

Such. A. Bad. Idea.

I have bug issues. We all do, I know, I'm nothing special. But these fucking pictures that I saw made my skin crawl and FUCKING FREAKED ME OUT. So, I go back to look at Child 1's head, and... of course... I see a fucking horror show, which might not have even been there, in hindsight..... and I lose it.

Which, of course, makes Child 1 lose it, thus making the whole process completely impossible for us both. I say (internally) "I CAN'T DEAL WITH BUGS OH MY GOD BUGS I CAN'T DEAL WITH BUGS OH MY GOD WHEN IS HUBS COMING HOME HE NEEDS TO DEAL WITH THE BUGS I CAN'T DEAL WITH THE BUGS OH MY GOD BUGS" and I become completely incapable of doing anything except sitting and waiting.

Sitting, waiting... and drinking, so I crack open a bottle. 3 glasses in and I realize... I can totally fucking deal with bugs. LET'S DO THIS SHIT, BITCHES!!!!!!

That was all it took, I washed and combed and rinsed and combed and wiped and combed and all that shit. By the time hubs actually got home I was already done with #1 and in the middle of #2. At this point we're all pretty much in the clear. I need to do it all again in about a week, but at least now I know that I can. 

And that's what's important. Oh, also the gross disgusting bugs are gone. That's also important. Hubs and I have both done ourselves, too, even though we didn't need to.

And laundry. Oh my god so much laundry.

I drew some pictures for you guys to enjoy

Only 7-10 more days of that and we should be fine.

My head totally itches right now.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let's talk about the number 42

42? Why are we talking about that number, you ask? Well, no reason, actually. I just thought I'd take a moment, on this day of the year that has absolutely no significance whatsoever, to randomly talk about a number that has no meaning to me. Hey, I'm a Bookkeeper! I like numbers! 42 is totally NOT a prime number, you know; in fact it is not only divisible by another number other than itself and 1, it is divisible by FIVE MORE THAN THAT. It's really a great number, when you think about it. But you probably should try not to think about it too much. That's my plan for the day, anyway.

Here are some interesting facts about the number 42. I don't feel like citing my source, so just trust me that I know what I'm talking about and/or I know how to google and then copy and paste:
  1. In Mathematics, number 42 is called an abundant number. For what reason? Let’s say, it is equivalent to one semester in college to find out why it’s called an abundant number.
  2. In Chemistry, number 42 is the atomic number of molybdenum.
  3. The angle of rainbow is 42 degrees.
  4. A 3×3x3 magic cube has a sum of 42.
  5. In the Ancient Egyptian religion, there are 42 gods and goddesses to represent the principles of Ma’at.
  6. In the bible, there are 42 generations in the Genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew.
  7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has 42 illustrations
  8. 42 is a magic number for programmers. In the TIFF image file format, it is the second 16-bit word of every file.
  9. Tiling a plane using regular hexagons occupy all in all 42 squares.
  10. In the Book of Revelations, it is mentioned that the Beast will hold dominion over the Earth for 42 days
Wow, that's actually kind of weird. In a search of interesting facts about the number 42, I come up with 10 results and none of them mention Douglas Adams. Isn't that weird? You would think that would be #1 in the list. I mean, fuck math... who the hell cares about MATH? You know who fucking hates math? Child 1. And whatever Child 1 hates, we all should hate. Because he's an angel child who has psychic abilities and we should all trust whatever he says about anything. That actually makes my profession kind of awkward, but it's okay because I'm in therapy and eventually I'll work that one out.

And now, please enjoy this video by the 1980's band Level 42. OH, I bet you thought this was going to be Something About You, but NO! As a child of the 1980's I had the privilege of actually listening to all this crap on the radio when it was new, and I like this Level 42 song better than the one they're famous for (One Hit Wonder. Thank you, SongPop for that reminder). Apparently there is no actual MTV (when they used to play music) video of this song, so this was the best I could do. I could have found you a live version, but apparently this dude fucking sucked live. And by "apparently" I mean "OH MY GOD."

Monday, September 17, 2012

A recipe for the perfect cup of coffee

Remember how bummed I was the other day when I kept the kids home and had to cancel my lunch with Danielle? Well, it actually worked out for the best, because we went out on Friday night, instead.

Heh heh. Yeah.

Saturday morning (afternoon. whatever.) I wake up to see that Danielle has posted this awesome "coffee recipe" to Facebook, which we all agreed needed to be turned into a blog post, complete with illustrations.

So, all the text in this post is taken directly from Danielle's Facebook update, and I drew the illustrations (I actually stole 2 of the faces from reddit. You can tell which are the ones I stole because they actually look like faces).

I have discovered the recipe for the perfect cup of coffee. Because I love you all so much, I'm going to share. It requires some planning ahead. First, you have to go out to dinner with a friend. Say, Jillsmo, for example.

Then, you have to drink 3 gin & tonics

debate having the 4th for a little bit

cave to better judgment, and have the 4th. 

Take a cab home. 

Pass out mid-conversation with husband. 

Wake up at 3:30 a.m. with a headache that screams, "I TOLD YOU SO!"  Down 4 Advil with a half-gallon of water. 

Wake at 6:30 a.m. to pee. Rub temples to relieve pain of slightly duller headache. 

Wake again at 9:00 to small child literally prying open your eyelids. 

Trudge downstairs. Make pot of coffee. It really does not matter what kind at this point. 

Take first sip and realize that it crosses your lips tasting like the sweet nectar of the gods. 
Serves 1. You're welcome.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Dive Bar Welcomes: Barb Wire

Barb Wire, because of the military theme, by request. Get it? Oy, I'm getting bad at these intros...

The Enemy Within

My son, 17, is the light of my life – and the bane of my existence. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder at six (after he attempted to jump out of my bedroom window and end it all), and Asperger’s at nine (we knew all of his behaviors couldn’t just be bipolar stuff), he’s led me on a wild ride through hospitalizations as well as into the juvenile justice system. He’s been kicked out of public and private schools. I have several folders filled with evaluations, IEPs, and all manner of documents describing his aberrant behaviors. But I also have documents that show that he’s smart and funny and filled with compassion for others. When his meds are working, and the planets are aligned just so, he’s an amazing fellow. I think that he’s worth saving… and I’ve been trying my damndest to do just that.

Since he was two years old, it was just the two of us, trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing and how to keep the kid safe and in school and not destroying shit.

Four years ago, I married my son’s worst enemy. Enter the stepfather.

My husband has grown to hate the kid – and the kid does nothing to foster a positive relationship. AT 17, my son is mean and surly and knows fucking everything. “I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP!” is what he yelled when we had several service providers to the house for a ‘mini-summit’ to figure out how to transition this kid from high school to life. His plan? Quit school, move to Louisiana with his online girlfriend and get married. With no job, no money, no car, no driver’s license… in short, no CLUE.

When the unrest starts at home, guess who’s stuck in the middle? Me.

They each take their turn, airing their grievances about the other. I am counselor, arbiter, judge and jury. Penalties are assessed, punishments are meted out. I fucking hate this job. I am so tired of the conspiratorial whispers, “If HE does one more thing, he’s OUT.”, like my son is a bulging tub of cottage cheese well past its expiration date, or a lamp with a huge crack – it still works, but it’s junk. Just put it out on the curb on garbage day, and wash your hands of the whole thing.

“I FUCKING HATE HIM! DIVORCE THE FAT BASTARD!” are some of my son’s constant commands. They try to avoid each other, my husband retiring to the bedroom; my son, near me in the living room. I feel like I’m the UN, and they’re the Koreas, launching counterattacks and issuing dire warnings – and I’m supposed to broker an uneasy truce while each side retreats to their respective bunkers, planning their next assaults.

Remember Scud bombs from the Iraq war? My husband will make a disparaging comment as he walks into the kitchen about my son’s voracious appetite, like, “I’ll have to hide these leftovers in the little fridge in our bedroom or HE’LL.EAT.ALL.OF.IT.IN.THE.MIDDLE.OF.THE.NIGHT. Target hit. As he retreats back to the bedroom, my son will rant and rave – at me. How the fuck is that fair?

These remarks are stored away in my son’s mind, and a counteroffensive is launched at some future time (most often when I make a request of his time). Like in July of this year, my request “Could you please unload the dishwasher?” was met with hostility and violence. With stealth and speed, he screams an ungodly screech and comes toward me. I am stabbed in the hand with a pen. My laptop and printer and lamp and any manner of expensive, fragile objects become projectiles. I’m watching the blood bubble up out of the hole on the back of my palm…it fucking hurts and I start to cry. What is my husband doing? He’s sitting in the bedroom calling the police. The same police who MACED my son and put him into detention instead of the hospital the last time the war was in full force (that time it was hormone-driven, thanks to the neighbor girls who thought it was “fun” to get him all hot and bothered and then laugh at him). Bitches.

I’m not a born-again Christian or even remotely religious – but I feel it was divine intervention that caused that phone not to function that July afternoon. Our other phone was out of commission – the wire ripped from the receiver during the skirmish in the living room. I was feverishly trying to get the kid to settle down enough to take him to the hospital – we’d been fucking with medications, and something was just not right with him. If my husband had his way, the kid would be in a juvenile facility, or, since he’s now 17, in an adult correction facility where he would totally lose his tenuous grip on his self-control and his sanity.

Frankly, I’d like to end my career as the family diplomat. There are days I wish they’d BOTH go away…but mostly, I’d like to knock their heads together (ala The Three Stooges), and knock some sense into them. I’m not sure how to resolve these problems, but I’m ready to wave a white flag and surrender as wife and mom.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some days you get the autism, and some days the autism gets you

I was waiting for this morning; I've been waiting for 2 1/2 weeks now and somehow I was still surprised by it. It's the third week of school and the honeymoon phase is over. The harsh, cold reality of "there is school every day" has sunk in and Child 1 has begun to rebel. It started on Sunday night when he didn't want to go to bed by himself and lead up to this morning, when he had a meltdown (a meltdown for him, anyway; even his meltdowns are pretty mellow). He threw a bowl of Cheerios away, and he hit me. Although, saying he hit me isn't really that dramatic, since he's so skinny and weak and has that hypertonia going on, his "hit" doesn't really pack much of a punch, but still. He very rarely does anything even close to that, so when he's crying and hitting me it's something to take very seriously.

First I tried to get him to tell me exactly what the problem was, which is always a waste of time, because I know what the problem is: he doesn't like school! And he can't really get specific about that, at least not specific enough to satisfy me, although he does try. He threw out things like "this is the real reason why I don't want to go to school, because I have to do math," and "I have P.E." etc.

The truth is that he doesn't like school, and he didn't want to go. I tried to fight it but it just kept getting worse because the more I tried the worse his anxiety got. So, I hinted at him staying home, to see what kind of reaction I would get (duh). Unfortunately, Child 2 heard that and immediately says "If Child 1 doesn't have to go to school, then I don't have to go to school. That's not fair."

Well, shit. He's right, you know. Now, of course I always have the option of saying "because I said so" and forcing him in the car, but he's right that it's not fair. Child 1 isn't sick and even if Child 2 understood the nuances of autism, which he doesn't, he's still only 7 and uses 7 year old reasoning and 7 year old reasoning says that if his brother isn't sick and gets to stay home then he should, too.

It was at that point that I just said fuck it, everybody stays home. I didn't have anything to do that I couldn't reschedule (but I was sad, because Danielle and I were going to have lunch, and I don't often get to do fun stuff during the day :() and I just didn't have the energy to fight it.

So, fuck it. You win this round, autism. I admit my defeat, partly because I was caught unprepared for something I should have been prepared for but mostly because I just didn't have it in me to put up a fight. They both get to stay home today, but they're not allowed to do anything fun! No TV and no computer and no iPod until 3:00!!! That's how I put my foot down, I can't be a complete loser in this scenario. That, of course, didn't stop me from feeling like a complete loser, waste of a mom, totally defeated by failure.

I know that's not true, but that's how I felt.

Maybe tomorrow, right?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ask me about my vagina

I spent a lot of time, in my college days, being noisy and loud about women's rights; reproductive rights, in particular. You would hope that now, 20+ years later, we wouldn't still have to be loud and noisy to protect our bodies. But not only does it seem like things haven't gotten any better, it has possibly gotten even worse.

I won't go into details, I think you guys know what I mean. Then again, if you want me to go into details, let me know, because I can do that. (You can also read this if you want my uncensored opinion about feminism)

You may have noticed I have this banner in my sidebar

<-------------------- over there

that says "Bow to my magical vagina. Come November it will shut you down." See, I saw that awesome graphic on the website of my friend The Guerilla Mom, and immediately grabbed it and put it in my sidebar. But then I had the idea to create a twibbon (a little graphic that you can find on some twitter avatars that are generally used to relay a message of some sort) to also make the point that I Have A Vagina And I Vote.

I tried to draw one, but quickly discovered that my shitty artistic abilities would not suffice in this instance, so I asked my friend The Animated Woman if she wouldn't mind whipping up something awesome for me. I said I wanted a happy vagina that made people think "Wow! Vaginas are terrific!" when they looked at it.

She, of course, did not disappoint:

This vagina goes to 11
She also made me a twibbon-sized version of Ms. Purple so that I could create a Twibbon page where anybody can go to change their current twitter or facebook avatars to show to the world that you, too, have a vagina and you vote. (Sorry, men. Maybe you can borrow your wives' or girlfriends' for the occasion? Or maybe you can just add one and then when people ask you can make up some awesome story about it.)

So, if you would like, you can go here to add your twibbon. It should be pretty easy, but let me know if you have any problems. (I don't make any money from this or anything; just a point).

And don't forget to Vote Vagina on November 6th!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Support your local teacher

This will be the 3rd time I have posted this particular one, it just seems to be appropriate enough of the time and there's no point in writing something new. Right?

I have some experience with the PTA, I've talked about it here before. This is my 6th year at this school and my first 3 years I was active to a crazy, unnerving degree, and then I took a few years off where I did absolutely nothing. Not a goddamned thing. So I know what things look like from both sides now, and I thought I would take all of this perspective and, speaking as a parent, give some advice to other parents. Remember that my experience is only in an elementary school, so I'm sure my advice would be different if we were in middle or high school.

First, though, a disclaimer. It is WAY fucking different to have a child with an IEP than to have one without, I know this because I have one of each. Therefore, the following is ONLY directed at parents whose kids do not have special needs or an entire IEP team to manage. 

1. First things first: Lose the fucking attitude.

This is a hard job they do, these teachers. If you think you can do it better, you should quit fucking complaining about it and start homeschooling. They also make shit for money, by the way. Yes, it's true. Sure, they get summers off, but that means that either they don't get PAID for three months, or it means that their shitty-ass salary gets split into 12 month increments, which just makes it smaller and therefore more difficult to budget and pay the mortgage. So lighten up, would you? 

2. Give your money, your time, or whatever else you can spare.

Did you know that the average elementary school teacher spends $511 of their own money on classroom supplies every year? And that's from a study done in 1993, I'm sure there are newer ones where the numbers are higher, but I think that's enough to prove my point. The PTA at our school raises about $150,000 a year, and if it were up to me, I'd have given it all to the teachers (it isn't up to me) but it's all dependent on parents spending their own time and money so that the teachers don't have to take the load all on themselves. So when you see that flier that says "volunteers are needed" for such and such thing, make that phone call or send that email, you'll feel really good about having done it (and just ignore the snooty bitches I mention in #5). Maybe you can't spare the money or time, though, and that's cool, just do what you can; what you are comfortable with and what you have time for. You don't have to be a rock star, every little bit you can do will help, I promise. Edit: my friend Tiffany reminds me that a lot of the time teachers will have jobs that you can do at home. If you work or have other kids it can almost be impossible to get there during the day, so maybe there is some cutting or sorting or copying you can do at home after the kids are asleep. The only way to find out is to ask, so... ASK!

3. If you can't spare anything, just tell your kid's teacher that you think s/he is awesome

Teaching can be a really thankless job, especially given the current political climate of teacher blaming and bashing, and sometimes the best gift you can give your child's teacher is a simple "thank you." But you can also go above and beyond that and write them a letter (and COPY their Principal! It will hopefully go into their file) and tell them how much you like them and the great things you think they've done for your kid. This, too, will make you feel good about having done it. I completely flaked one year and never actually got around to writing any letters for my kid's teacher, so I just told him (a bunch of times), and that was good, too, because if I had done nothing else that year, at least I did that. 

4. If you don't know what you can do to help, ask

Ask your kid's teacher how you can help them. They might say "I can't think of anything," but that's because some people are bad at asking for or accepting help. And please don't fault them for turning you down and then remaining overwhelmed, because sometimes when you're burdened with crap, it's hard to figure out how to delegate and it's just easier to cut up all those paper stars, themselves, than to try to explain to you how to do it. But it's nothing personal so ask them again. And again. At the very least, if they are able to figure out something they CAN ask, they'll know they can come to you. (But if they start to run in the other direction when they see you coming, it's probably time to stop asking. Maybe put the limit on asking at two or three times a month.) 

5. If you are an active member of the PTA, lose the fucking attitude

If you're going to spend your time volunteering in the classroom, or fundraising, or whatever else it is you do, quit fucking complaining about it and just do it. Don't bitch about how other parents are lazy and you're doing all the work, either do it or don't do it. Other parents are aware of your shitty attitude and the reason they don't want to volunteer is because they CAN'T STAND YOU and they don't want to try to break into this clique you've created. They don't want to be judged because they work (and you don't and therefore have plenty of time to judge others) and they don't have the time like you do. You need to help recruit them, because not only is everything dependent on volunteers, but it all HELPS the teachers and the school. And you know what else? This is a community we're talking about, it's not just about YOUR shitty little kid who is not the only student at the school. So shut the fuck up and do the job you said you'd do or just get out. There are others who can replace you and probably do it better once you're gone.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Dive Bar Welcomes: The Porn Queen Mom

I don't know exactly how to introduce this one. *snicker* Well, just read it.... *giggle*...

Honey. Please Take Mommy's Dildo Out Of Your Mouth.

I hate that my kid runs away. Fucking hate it. When she does, I can lose her for, like, 15 minutes. Do you know what happens in 15 minutes? Imminent death. Death or porn.

Not kid porn, you sick fuck. Just the self taught actions of a future porn star. Not proud to say this but during one of her hiding gigs, my daughter found my B.O.B.

For those in the "I'm not reading 50 Shades because I have morals" group, that's a Battery Operated Boyfriend. A dildo. A vibrator. A play toy. Mommy's favorite past time.

Now, she's a sly little minx. I can't hide anything from her. She sees M&M's from a five mile radius or through refrigerator doors. She knows where I've hidden her toys during punishments. She can sniff them out like a bloodhound. This really shouldn't have been much of a shock.

Granted, my vibrating friend wasn't hidden very well either. She pulled that thing right out of his home and when I found her sitting on my bed, she was pretending it was a purple dick shaped lollipop. I screamed and jumped at her with vigor. I probably yanked it out of her mouth oh god I'm going to hell... did I just write that? and loosened a few teeth. Thank fuck it had been sanitized. I wasn't prepared for that visual. It'll never leave my brain.

All fun and games aside, I guess should've have expected it. She's been pole dancing around the tall floor lamp in the living room again lately.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You guys want to hear something funny?

I'm on the PTA again this year.... WAIT! Stop laughing. That's not the funny part!

Long time readers may remember how I quit the PTA, almost 2 years ago now. But I've taken enough of a break that I think I can come back, with renewed (and actual) energy to get stuff done. The truth is that I used to be really active... I mean, like, question my sanity (moreso) active, which is a lot of fucking work but the benefit to that, for me anyway, is that I was on a first name basis with all the teachers and staff at the school. And I was thinking about that a week or so ago, and I realized that I missed that, because I love teachers. I really do, and I want to help them and the PTA is the way to do that. (Fuck the kids, though. No, I'm really serious, I'm not in this to help the kids.)

So, anyway, I realized that I missed being that connected to the staff, so I emailed the PTA President and told her I wanted to come back. The only position that was open that I was interested in was VP of Communications, which means exactly what it sounds. I communicate. I'm pretty good at that, I think. I mean, 3 years ago, the PTA then didn't have a VP of Communications, so I just did all the jobs that this person would have done, I just didn't have the title "VP of Communications," I had "That Crazy Lady Who Does Everything." So, it's no big deal.

Sidebar: I also have another title, though, which is VP of Special Education Affairs, which is a brand new position as of about 2 hours ago, because I'm tired of this PTA not representing SPED families, even in name only, and I asked the board to create the position for me. BOOYAH.

So, tonight I went to my first Exec Board meeting, and guess what my first task, as VP of Communications is?

No really, guess.

Go ahead.

I'll wait.


Did you guess? Well, I'll tell you. My first task as VP of Communications is to.... create a Twitter account for the PTA.


I told hubs and he said "are you going to invite them to wineparty?"


Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Dive Bar Welcomes: Kare Bear

This post is a little different from the usual Dive Bar post. Usually you guys write your rants and then send it to me for posting, but in this case, this was a post I read in r/autism on reddit. I wrote to the mom who wrote this and asked her if I could post this here because I wanted her to know that she is not alone. I told her that I wanted to help her find some support and if I posted this on my blog, she would get tons of people telling her exactly that. She gave me permission to post this and if you find her on reddit, she didn't use her real name, so she's anonymous there and here.

Please leave her a comment, even if you have nothing really to say, just so that she knows she's not alone. Thanks!

As I write this, I haven't showered, and I've spent the last 2 1/2 hours now in varying stages of trying to get my son to take a nap.

He doesn't nap every day now, which is fine; however, he's still wildly unpredictable in terms of whether or not his "signs of readiness" for a nap will result in 3 hours of fighting a nap to no avail, conking out almost immediately, or something in between where he puts up a good fight for a few hours and then passes out.

Of course, when he does nap, it's glorious and I get the precious hour or so to myself that every fiber of my being seems to be screaming out for, and I do my damndest to enjoy it.

Bedtimes and naptimes are, obviously, completely correlated, and it's always a tradeoff. If we do get him to nap, I can recharge in the afternoon, but he'll stay up so late that any hope of doing anything productive or of quality in the evening is pretty much gone.

But, the unpredictability of it all, combined with the stress and monotony of the rest of the daily details has pushed me--a self-described calm, composed, and difficult to rattle person--to the point where I don't think I even recognize myself anymore.

When my son started showing signs of autism a bit after age 2, it was terrifying. When his pediatrician casually told us "yep, he's probably on the autism spectrum" a few months later, my heart shattered into a thousand little pieces. I still have not recovered in the year since his declaration, despite doing all the "right things", like getting involved in Early Intervention services, getting a formal diagnosis, starting various therapies, etc..

And even though right now, I'm making the best of being an unemployed post-graduate (i.e. a Stay-At-Home-Mom, but not really by choice), I struggle with how very little of my own life is not dictated by the whims and needs of this mysterious, challenging, and yet desperately loveable little boy.

I find myself still bitterly clinging to the me that got left behind without me even knowing it. The me that could (and did) relax easily; the me that felt in control of her life; the me that believed she could be a good parent.

I don't think I'm a bad mom to my son; I'm overall proud of the attention and energy I give him. But it comes at a price, and I resent it.

It wouldn't be so damned hard if even the smallest little pleasures in life weren't also robbed from me.

I can tolerate not going to fancy restaurants, or going 10-12 hours without a "break. I can tolerate my nice things getting ruined, getting pinched and bruised and screamed at. I can tolerate a lot of the things that come with this.

But I miss being able to read the paper for 20 minutes while relaxing at a coffee shop. When I try to emulate something similar, it almost always ends with a screaming preschooler and me processing a whole host of emotions of self-loathing ("why did I even think this might be a good idea?"), embarrassment ("those other patrons probably think I'm a horrible mother"), pity for my son ("he doesn't understand what's going on...it's not his fault he's having a hard time"), regret ("I never should have come here"), resentment ("if my kid was normal things wouldn't be so damn hard"), and fear ("will I EVER get to go back to anything resembling the way things were?").

I mourn for the person I am no longer. I miss the me that never yelled, never raised her voice, never lost her temper, let alone basic composure. I miss the me that felt confident in my ability to handle lifes challenges; to figure out the solutions, and keep plodding along in a forward trajectory.

I know I can't expect my friends or family to understand how I feel...I know my husband doesn't even really get it. Not that he doesn't feel stressed in his own right, but I do get envious in a total non-rational way about how he gets to leave the house every day and escape the restrictions of caring for our son.

I feel very mixed feelings about the fact that I'm looking forward to working full time so I can justify paying half my salary to hire someone else to watch my son. Right or wrong, I think working would be easier than this.

I'm not looking for anything other than to put out my own thoughts in a space I can hope is without judgment. I spent the vast majority of my time censoring my inner monologue to my loved ones because I don't want to be ungrateful of the overall blessing that is my son. I do love him. And I do love EVERY part of him. And my life could be so much worse; I could be in a bad marriage (my husband is amazing) or in a bad spot financially (we make ends meet, which is good enough for me!), or in bad health, etc.

But still...

this is just so damn hard.

Blog of the month: September

(I'm sorry but I feel like such an asshole saying that. Like "OMG LOOK AT ME!! I'm so cool and I think that my stupid little blog is soooooooo important." I sometimes think you need a really big ego to be a blogger. I'm going to plug away, anyway.)

This month I would like to introduce you to a new blog, that I will feature in my sidebar

<----------------------- Over there

Please enjoy the comedy blog stylings of my friend Shalini, who blogs at Reading and Chickens. She likes to make charts and she draws shitty pictures and she's funny. So you can see why I like her. Plus, she's got the word "chickens" in her title, which is a nice twist. I think that might have something to do with actual chickens but I'm not really sure, to tell you the truth.

Anyway, for the month of September, go visit Shalini! You can also follow her on Twitter here. Which you should do. But it's not a requirement or anything.