xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

How to say Happy Holidays

Finally r/atheism produces something good

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My recipe for the best fucking gravy you've ever had

Reposting like I do every year.

This process must be started no later than the day BEFORE Thanksgiving, in the morning.

Buy your turkey from a butcher or a place with a meat counter, and when you do, ask them for random, discarded turkey parts (backs & necks); they will always have some and you can buy them for very very cheap, like 70 cents/pound. Get about 3-4 pounds of that shit.

Take the turkey bones and put them in the biggest fucking pot you have; also, since you're probably going to be doing something with onions and celery, maybe carrots and some herbs, the next day, take the stems and the tops (clean them) of those things and throw them in, too. Make sure you get some onion skins in there, they will make everything a nice dark color. Fill the big ass pot up with water and put in a bunch of salt. I don't know, maybe a handful. Salt is important at this point because the heat and the salt and the protein from the turkey bones will make a natural MSG (or Umami; the 5th sense!)

Put it on the stove and cook, covered, on low, for no less than 8 hours. I'm serious. Don't cut corners here, even if Alton Brown says you don't have to cook stock for that long, fuck that guy, what does he know? You want the bones and the cartilage to break down enough, and I say cook it for 8 hours, dammit! If you have doubts about this part, read the title of this post again.

During cooking process, lift the lid and check things out every hour or so; pieces of turkey will float to the top and stick out of the water and you want to make sure everything stays wet the whole time (that's what she said).  After 8 hours, strain it twice. Once to get all the big bones out and the next time to get the small pieces of crap that have fallen off in the cooking process; you don't want to eat that shit later. Use a fine strainer for part #2. Put the liquid in the pot that you plan to cook it in the next day and stick it in the fridge overnight.

Go to bed.

Happy Thanksgiving! In the morning, the liquid will be the consistency of Jello. This is what you want, it means that you cooked the shit out of the turkey bones and have created a fucking flavorfest in that pot. Go about your business and make your turkey and all the sides, you don't need to do anything with this for a little while. If you have some herbs you like, put the pot on the stove on very very low and throw the herbs in, if you want, it doesn't matter, but get it onto the stove, on low and boiling, at least an hour before your turkey comes out of the oven.

Cook your turkey on a rack so that the juices will drip down into the pan and you can collect them later. This is an important step because those turkey drippings and little crispy turkey pieces are really fucking delicious and you're going to want them later. When the turkey comes out of the oven, put it aside and collect all of this awesome shit at the bottom of the roasting pan and put them into your boiling stock. Let that do its thing while you bustle around and try to get your fucking family to leave your kitchen so you can cook in peace. I DON'T NEED ANY FUCKING HELP THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Make a roux, which is equal amounts of butter and flour; it depends on how much liquid you have, but probably 1/4 cup each (half a stick of butter. it's just easier that way). Melt the butter, throw in the flour and then cook it, on low/medium. Alton Brown says that the lighter the roux, the better it will thicken the stock; the darker the roux, the more flavor it will have. Do whatever you want, I haven't ever found much of a difference. One thing I did learn today, though, is that you can make your roux at any time during the day on Thursday, which may be a good thing if you're like me and by the time you get to the serving part of Thanksgiving and you're drunk off your ass, making a roux is quite challenging. One year I had to make it three times because I kept fucking it up and burning it.

Anyway, make a roux, and then throw it in the pot. At this point, if you have anything chunky like herb stems or whatever, take those out. Let it cook for at least another 10 minutes so that the flour and butter can fully incorporate into the liquid. You will notice that it will also thicken considerably so stir often (if you remember; if not, whatever).

That's it. Serve the shit and then listen as everybody at your table says "Holy crap, this is the best fucking gravy I've ever had." Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

@AutismSpeaks does not speak for this family

I haven't had much of an opinion about Autism Speaks (AS) before. I'd heard the rumblings but never paid much attention, and what I did pay attention to I found mostly annoying. I'm a Nonprofit Bookkeeper  so it seemed to me that the bulk of the argument against them, which had to do with their Accounting, was based on a general misunderstanding of how it works in the world of nonprofit finance. But I never really did anything about it, mostly because I didn't care all that much. 

But then today there was this: Autism Speaks to Washington - A Call for Action, and as it turns out, I do have something to say about Autism Speaks. Who knew??

This press release is classic fear mongering designed to get the attention of people who know very little about the issue, so that they will open up their pockets and pour forth with valuable contributions. They're trying to scare you into thinking that the world is coming to an end because kids are autistic, so that they can get attention for themselves just in time for their Year End Campaign.

And who am I to argue with an effective fundraising campaign? As a Bookkeeper I say you should do whatever you need to get your issue out there and get some money in the bank before the tax year is over. The problem is that people who don't know any better (politicians and the mainstream media) think that Autism Speaks actually speaks for the autistic community, they're huge and they're famous. They do their job well, therefore they get noticed and they get press.  They’re the first results you get in a google search about autism and they’re the people interviewed in news stories. Families seeking out information to help with a new diagnosis will find them before they find anything else, and that's the reason why I have to write this post now.
Each day across this country, those three million moms, dads and other care-takers I mentioned wake to the sounds of their son or daughter bounding through the house. That is - if they aren’t already awake. Truth be told, many of them barely sleep—or when they do – they somehow sleep with one ear towards their child’s room—always waiting. Wondering what they will get into next. Will they try to escape? Hurt themselves? Strip off their clothes? Climb the furniture? Raid the refrigerator? Sometimes – the silence is worse.
These families are not living.
They are existing. Breathing – yes. Eating – yes. Sleeping- maybe. Working- most definitely - 24/7.
This statement accurately describes the lives of some families living with autism, and it would be wrong of me, or any of us writing about this issue, to deny that this is reality for a lot of families. But the problem is that it’s not the whole of the reality of autism, and yet other experiences are rarely mentioned in AS’ dialogue. Autism is often described by AS as a monster that tears into families and rips apart homes, therefore it must be stopped before it can be started, all while claiming that they speak for all of us. In this press release, they talk about the three million moms who have autistic kids. That's me they're talking about. I'm one of those three million moms. But our family’s experience, and so many others like us, hasn’t been the awful nightmare they make it out to be. Sure we have our struggles, but overall we’re a happy crew and we’re not victims of some kind of Autism Creature. We are living. We are thriving. We are flourishing. Don’t pity us because my kid is autistic; that may be what Autism Speaks wants you to do, but I’m telling you now that we are not victims of a monster. He is autistic, yes, and he’s also awesome, and I refuse to have him growing up believing this AS rhetoric that he’s a monster who needs to be stopped.

Again, I want to stress that I know my experience doesn’t belong to everybody, the problem comes when you are unable to recognize that your experiences are different from other people’s and that other people’s opinions are therefore invalid just because they're different from yours. It just doesn’t work that way. If it’s your goal to create a national dialogue about something, but you only draw information from yourself, by definition you are actually an exclusionary group that is not representative of the whole.
This is a national emergency. We need a national autism plan – NOW.
Well, no. This isn't an emergency. Nobody is on fire, nobody has gone missing, nobody is gravely ill, nobody is dying. Those are faulty analogies. And I think that we don’t so much need a national plan but a national dialogue. One that talks about early intervention services, about school district services, about other therapies that have proven to be beneficial, about transition to adulthood and about living independently as well as the stresses that families face and the lack of supports that can push people past their breaking points. It should be educational, respectful, and most of all inclusive. You can’t have a national anything if you're only actually including one percentage of the population you’re claiming to represent. An effective dialogue of any kind will include all voices, not just from extremists. And Autism Speaks, despite their popularity, their size, and their apparent reputability, is nothing more than a well funded extremist group.  In my opinion and experience they don’t represent the majority of people who are living autism right now.

I’m certainly not claiming that I have any answers, this is a hugely complex issue and frankly just writing this post this has taken up all of my energy on the subject; I'm tapped out. And while it’s impossible for one voice to be representative of all of us, AS just seems to be particularly bad at it. Yes, we should craft a national message, but it should be written by reasonable minds and reasonable people, not by extremists. Not by Autism Speaks.

Monday, November 4, 2013

On the subject of red asses

Disclaimer: This post is not actually about red asses.

Today I'm walking from my car to my client's office, and I pass a man on the corner who asks me if I have a quarter for the bus. I respond with "sorry," because I only had my keys and my phone on me; I didn't even have any pockets! and he says "I don't accept 'sorry,' you red-assed bitch."

I respond with "ooooohhhhhhhkkkkkaaaaayyyyyyy......" and I run away as fast as I possibly can, because I figure if he's unstable enough to yell that kind of poetry at me he probably would also hit me or attack me if I say anything else he doesn't like.

I escape into my client's office and while I'm telling her about it (because of course) I'm thinking of all the other fun stuff I could have said in response, which I never would actually say, because I'm only a partial and not a total dumbass and I'm able to recognize that my smart mouth might actually get me killed one day. 

And I thought "man, if only I had some kind of outlet for these theoretically creative thoughts that I might like to be able to speak out loud if I wasn't about to experience imminent death and/or dismemberment. Oh, well, I guess I can always put it on the blog."

And so here I am. Hey, by the way, did you know that apparently there's some little-known Blogger algorithm that kicks in after you've satisfied a number of conditions, one of them being serious neglect, and when you hit that "New Post" button Google plays a pre-recorded voice that says "reposting old stuff doesn't count." ???? I, too, was not aware of this until today!!!!!1

Anyway, here are some things I would have liked to say to Crazy Quarter Guy:

CQG: I don't accept 'sorry,' you red-assed bitch.
Me: Well, actually it appears that you do. Enjoy your walk, Skippy!

CQG: I don't accept 'sorry,' you red-assed bitch.
Me: EXCUSE ME??? This ass is clearly white.

CQG: I don't accept 'sorry,' you red-assed bitch.
Me: OMG thank you so much for not calling me fat.

CQG: I don't accept 'sorry,' you red-assed bitch.
Me: How about an interpretive dance? Do you accept those?

Okay, I guess there are only four; I'm not actually that creative. I'm sure I'll find the algorithm for that after I hit "Publish."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Help me get a new kitchen!

I originally wrote this in May 2011 and am reposting now, because, uhhh.... because I hate my fridge. That's why.

A while back I was reading this article about Dooce and how she's this awesome powerful Mommy blogger and this one time she was having some issues with her washing machine or something so she put the call out on her blog asking for help? And her readers did something and got her what she wanted? Okay, I'm vague on the specifics, but I do know that she harnessed the power of the internet and major appliances were involved.

So... it got me thinking. I have 425 followers and I need a kitchen remodel! I'll ask YOU guys to help me! Surely Home Depot or Ikea or somebody would succumb to the constant pressure of 425 daily requests for a free kitchen makeover, amiright???????? And we could promise them free advertising in the form of a product review (seriously!) that we could guarantee AT LEAST 425 people would see. I simply do not see a downside to this plan.

And so... I will make my case. And the power of the internet will be harnessed and I will somehow get a new kitchen out of it!

Okay, so first.... there's a bit of history to this house. It was built in the 1920's but at some point in the 1970's the house next door literally fell on top of the kitchen and the front room. So, those two rooms were re-built in the 70's and still contain the original 70's decor. Observe....

That right there is VINTAGE 1970's linoleum, people

That's kind of coming apart at the edges. I think a cat did this. I mean, it makes sense.

Here we see a crack in the linoleum that has been covered up by masking tape. Or, if anybody asks, that's the line you stand on when you throw darts; which, oddly, nobody has.

Our cabinets: U.G.L.Y.  you ain't got no alibi... you UGLY.

Actually the 1970's garbage disposal still works fine, I just wanted to make a picture of a zombie garbage disposal

So, that's the ugly 1970's decor. And now for the very odd and inconvenient use of space....

Are YOU a contortionist? No? Me either! Thus neither of us will be able to get things in and out of these cabinets. There's a matching set on the other side of the room.

But the part of my kitchen that I hate the most, am constantly complaining about (sorry hubs) and want to change more than anything? I'll show you...

This is our fridge. Isn't it a pretty fridge? I like our pretty fridge. It's what they call a "Wide by Side." I don't know why. Except... I also hate our pretty fridge.

See how there's very little space there? Well, that freezer door opens right into that very little space, and then SLAMS right into the cabinet. Like this...


So, the door barely opens, which means it's almost impossible to get stuff in and out of there. Which means things just get crammed in there all willy nilly and then I just pray the door will close. And then things get totally lost underneath and behind because I can't ever open the door wide enough to look in there.

JUST enough space to squeeze through only the most important frozen food items.

I'm constantly slamming the freezer door repeatedly into the side of the cabinet in order to make the point that there's not enough room there. (I only do that when hubs is in the room and I feel like fucking with him). There's nothing we can do, though, short of getting a new fridge (which I've considered and ultimately rejected due to extreme laziness) because that's where the water line and the big fancy plug is so there's no other spot in the kitchen where it can go. Also that's where the fridge space has clearly been carved out; there's just no other spot in the room where a giant fridge would fit. And NO I didn't take this into account when we bought the fucking thing so shut up!

I know we could just have these things replaced piece by piece, and we'll likely do that shit eventually, but for now?... I WANT A NEW KITCHEN, PEOPLE.

Come on, Internet! Let's make this shit happen.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Autism and Aggression: A Dive Bar post

First, a reminder that I don't write Dive Bar posts. For more information, see the tab up top. I do, however, write introductions, and all words above the horizontal line are belong to me.

My anonymous friend sent me this post today, with the disclaimer "I know we're not supposed to talk about autism and aggression," and I was like "we're not? Says who? Fuck THAT!" but she's right, really. Parents of kids with autism are only supposed to write about how awesome autism is, and how much it has changed our perspectives on life for the better. We're not supposed to talk about the hard stuff, because that would paint autism in a harsh light and that's not the message we're supposed to be sending, and as such we'll be accused of hating autistic people. We're supposed to shut our mouths and let the "experts" do the talking, even if said experts are (incorrectly) talking about our lives when they've never met us before. Well, I say fuck that. Get everything out on the table, good and bad, and then let's tackle it all at once. Don't hold back on your words because some people might (read: definitely will) be offended by it. These are our stories, and just because they're not pretty doesn't mean they're not true. The truth needs to be told, no matter what it says and who is saying it, and if you're one of those people who is advocating censorship in the name of "autism acceptance," then I say you're doing it wrong.

And now, please welcome my anonymous friend.....

Five Minute Squall

My son is genuinely a sweet boy. That's what I hear 99.9% of the time from friends, teachers, paras, and therapists. "He's just the sweetest boy!" I'm always happy to hear this. But somewhere in the recesses of my brain is a whisper, "You don't know him like I know him. You don't know how I sometimes walk on eggshells and how I fear my own child... and I thank God for that."

I want anyone reading this to know that this is a representation of maybe less than 1% of his actions. He's never been violent at school. His meltdowns there, if they happen, are only crying jags. When I say that I am his trigger, I mean that. I don't know why I am his trigger and soother.

My son is, currently, a very big boy; he's always been big for his age. He stands eight inches shorter than me and will soon outweigh me.

When he explodes, it's fast, it's hard, and it's like being body slammed by a raging bull. It's soul crushing and hurts in every aspect of the concept. Please note, I rarely, if ever, write about my son's aggression- because it's not something I'm comfortable writing about and it doesn't happen very often.

The reason for me writing this is that aggression and autism in children is something we're not supposed to talk about. Please understand, I am not trying to demean my son.

My son's aggression, for it being rare, is still frightening for both him and me. I'm sure that there are other parents who feel the same and yet don't want their child's aggression to be the only thing people think of when autism is mentioned.

My son is still a kid. I know that a good portion of these aggressive episodes are born out of frustration and fear of the unknown.

Yesterday, he came home from my friend’s house (she was watching the kids so that I could nap), crying that his face was burning. His face licking stim is back with a vengeance. His face is raw and chapped. He saw me, his identified trigger, and, after I closed the front door all hell broke loose. The squall was sweeping over us.

Minute one. I usher him, calmly, to the bathroom, where I can clean his face. He slaps me on my arms. I try to ignore it. His face needs to be cleaned. There is lint from his shirt embedded in his skin. It needs to come out. He is clearly in pain and is becoming more agitated. He's vocally stimming. He's howling. He shoves me hard into the wall. I calmly approach him, warm washcloth in hand, and say, "It's going to be okay, honey. Listen to Mommy. You're okay."

Minute two. My son is, clearly, not okay. It's as if he's stepped outside of his body and someone else has replaced my sweet son. He's screaming obscenities. I try to hold him, to calm him. He head butts me in the chest, it sends me to the floor. I get up, apply the "magic cream" which will help to heal his face.

Minute three. He doesn't want me anywhere near his face. Anywhere near his face. At this point, he's so far gone, I am speaking in low tones to him and hoping that this squall of an instance will pass soon. He shoves me again, this time I tumble back into the corner of the bathroom counter. I try to keep from yelping out in pain; if I make a sound, it will scare him and possibly prolong the squall. I go to him, hug him, and get him to sit down on the floor in my lap.

Minute four. I keep telling myself it was all a dream, a figment of my imagination as I rock my oversize kid in my lap. "Breath in...1....2....3....Breath out...1....2....3." This can't be real. I tell myself this every time. It just can't be real that my son, my sweet son, lashes out like this at me. So I keep rocking him, calming him down. His breathing regulates in jagged breaths. The squall is passing, leaving him and me in shambles. I try to keep my tears at bay. I can’t crack.

Minute five. "Mommy, why are we in the bathroom?" "Huh?" I'm dazed from being tossed around. My kidney hurts from where I hit the counter. My whole damned body hurts. I can see how unaware he is. He's blacked out again. He has no idea what has just happened, does he? I get him to stand up, I take his hand, we go into the living room where I turn on the television and put on a cartoon. That weird giggle is back, the one that makes me cringe and wonder if someone is possessing my son because it’s only in the aftermath of the squalls that I ever hear it. I hate that giggle.

In five minutes, my world was upended. Five minutes. It's just like a squall. He and I are the flotsam and jetsam left in the wake.

Those are the minutes that I wonder where my son goes. Who takes over his brain and body. Why I am his trigger and his soother. And when it will happen again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

They say online friends aren't real friends

In December of 2002 I saw an episode of the Daily Show where Jon Stewart talked about the latest new craze in Christmas toys: Likes It Rough Elmo. At the time Child 1 was less than a year old and Elmo was a big part of our lives, so naturally I thought it was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. Because, of course.

I went online to the Comedy Central website looking for a place where I could proclaim my undying appreciation for my latest discovery and there I found that they had message boards that were devoted to each of the shows that Comedy Central had on at the time (Beat the Geeks 4tw). I created an account using the only screen name I'd ever used before and made my peace. But then I came back to see what other people had to say..... and I started meeting people.

The CC message boards were a free for all text only cesspool of complete shit, with no rules, no moderators, and trolls running rampant. We yelled at each other about politics and the stories of the day, but first and foremost our purpose was to be funny. Our (my) greatest achievement was figuring out how to trick the code into letting curse words get posted. Conversations were had, friendships were formed, and ultimately the boards all went down in a giant blaze of ugliness. But we had made connections that we didn't want to lose, so we searched for a new place to call ours. After several iterations of message boards we ultimately settled down in our own, brand new message board home. That board was created on March 26, 2004.

This is what I look like over there

The years have gone by, people have come and gone, and the board still remains. We've been together through birth and death, through marriage and divorce, through trauma, through joy, through heartbreak, through wondrous excitement, through banality, through depression: through all the shit that people experience in a decade. We've argued politics, we've fought hard over the news of the day, it's been all about the funny, but in the end it's been about a community of very different people who have formed a bond. We've been close, we've been far, we've moved away, we've come back, we've gone in and out of contact, and we've all come back together.

Recently we learned that one of our own, jonfan2, doesn't have long to live. He was born with a congenital heart defect and wasn't expected to live past his 20s, but being the stubborn asshole that he is, now at 42 he's finally been given his last timeline. He posted about it on the board with the intent just to keep us posted on his status, but what he wasn't expecting was that we would all jump into action, pack up our shit and travel to where he was. I came from California but I didn't travel the farthest, Prolapse came from Canada; Juleska came from Afghanistan. We rented a house on a lake in Michigan, dressed up like characters from Alice in Wonderland and we roasted him. It was hilarious and awesome and sad and depressing and wonderful and terrible and absolutely perfect. Because.... of course.

It's been 11 years since I created that account on the Comedy Central board, and right now I'm sitting in a chair in a house in some city I don't even know the name of, in a state I've never been before, surrounded by people I've seen in person only once before or never before. And we all did this, we packed up our stuff and we came out here to celebrate the life of a man we'd all only met in person once or had never met before. Because that's what friends do; that's what real friends do for each other. And it doesn't matter that we'd *only* been words on a screen and screen names to each other for 11 years, because words on a screen and screen names makes you friends just as much as speaking on the phone or having lunch once a month.

A tweet I saw a while back that made me want to write this post

So, to anybody that would say that an online friend isn't a real friend, I present you with us. Our group of friends. Online friends. Is knowing someone online the same as really knowing them?  I say yes. Yes it is. It is the same, or maybe even more. And if that hasn't been your experience, I'm sorry for you. I'm sad that you don't know what I know, because you have missed out. Not just because your experience has been different, but because you haven't opened your heart enough to let the words on the screen in. Words on a screen are people just as much as a face you can see in front of you or a voice you hear over the phone. Just because we *only* type to each other doesn't mean that we don't know each other. It doesn't mean that we don't care, or worry, or wonder.... or love.

Currently, though, I'm just pissed that jonfan2 won't give me his chili recipe. He says I have to wait until he dies before he'll let me have it. Whatever. Dick.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How you can tell it's hot here right now

Y'know..... other than the ... fact....  that.....  it's really hot here right now...



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why I Blog

Tonight was the series finale of Breaking Bad, a show I've been glued to for some time now. I won't give you any spoilers except to say that the writers did a perfect job of ending that show. I have gotten closure! And it reminded me how I felt when Lost ended, which was not even a tiny bit satisfied and FUCK I HATE THE WRITERS OF LOST SOOO MUCH. I had written a post about it, it was about 2 weeks after I had created this blog. If you go there you'll see I have 2 comments, and one of them is my husband.

I read through this post which I hadn't seen in over 3 years and I thought "this shit is FUNNY. I used to be so funny! What the hell happened??"

What the hell DID happen, because I certainly don't write posts like that anymore. That post is an example of the reason why I started this blog, so that I could go off on my random curse-filled rants about things that are only important to me. So that I could crack myself up because holy shit I'm clever! (Seriously, that dude's shirt IS FUCKING BLUE. Why does nobody care about that????) I have a child with autism, but it was never my intention to be An Autism Blogger. It was never my intention to be any kind of blogger, just somebody who pulled shit out of her head and wrote it down. I used to say that I'm not a writer, I'm a brain-bit spewer. I pull random crap from my brain and I write it down. That's all I ever wanted to do here.

But the years have gone by and now I'm just not what I wanted to be. For one thing I just can't write the way I used to. Somebody once told me I could write about an old shoe and make it funny (and did I prove THEM wrong!) and I actually believed them, but I can't do that anymore; it's not that I don't want to, it's like... I just can't. I no longer have it in me to pull that off. I don't know if it's because I can't write, or so much of the time I'm doing things that aren't really very storytelling worthy and they don't even amuse me enough to want to make them funny. I miss that, being able to write about pound cake and make people laugh. That, plus I don't think about this place as much as I used to. It used to be that everything I did was possibly something I could write about here, but now I write a one line Facebook update and I don't even consider writing a post about it. People suggest that I need to blog about my dead rat story, but I just can't make it happen. I'm still expected to be able to make dead rats funny and I don't think I can do it, so I don't try to.

Another thing, perhaps just as important as that last reason, is now I've got this audience. I have An Audience; a formal title. It's no longer my husband and my mom, it hasn't been that for a long time. I have a ton of people who read what I write, and even though 99.99% of you guys will tell me "fuck it all, write what you want" it's like I feel some kind of responsibility to do more than just rant about a TV show (at least here on the blog, Facebook is a whole nuther story). I'm supposed to say Important Things and talk about Important Issues and most things that actually go through my head are too trivial now for me to devote time to it on these pages. I'm apparently the head of some elitist autism blogger cult (at least that's what the rumor mill tells me) but I never even wanted to be an autism blogger, how can I be the leader of an autism blogger clique?? But if that's what I am, even though I never sought out that position, how am I supposed to also talk about dead rats? (Just in case you wanted to know, I found a dead rat in my bed after coming home from a vacation. It wasn't funny. AT ALL).

I'm considering turning off comments, partly because this is just so fucking Woe is Me but also because I know what you guys will say. I should do whatever I want, people will love me regardless, I should write from my heart, I shouldn't care about these things, I'm too hard on myself; and you're right. I agree with that. Those things you haven't even said. It's just that I don't think I can do that. I think things have changed too much, and even though I created this blog to rid myself of brain bits, and no other reason, I just don't think I'm capable of it anymore. I've been saying repeatedly that I want to start writing here again and then I keep starting and then stopping, but maybe I just can't do it. Even if I were still able to extract my brain bits and write them down, this place just isn't that dumping ground for me anymore.

I don't know what my point is. I'm certainly not planning on throwing in the towel. Or is it hanging up the towel? Towel metaphors confuse me. Whatever it is you do with a towel that means you're done with something. I'm not done here. I'm not going anywhere, this blog isn't going anywhere. I don't know what I'm saying. Just brain bits, I guess.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Is the DSM5 being used to deny services?

It was always my biggest concern with the changes to the DSM, that the changing of the definition of autism to remove Asperger's disorder and PDD-NOS would be used to deny services to kids who need them. Apparently that has now started happening. Please see the link I have posted below. I'm not sure what, if anything, we can do about it now, though.

Autism Action Network

Monday, September 23, 2013

Helping Child 1 with his homework

Child 1 needed to make a primitive caveman-esque tool out of things we had at home.

So he and Hubs made this paintbrush out of bamboo and cat fur.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

For updates on Kelli and Issy

I case you guys were wondering what was happening, one of Kelli's close friends has taken over her blog at The Status Woe and you can check there for updates. She has also created a page for folks who want to help contribute to Kelli's legal fund.

For updates about Issy, please continue to check the Team Issy page on Facebook.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Elevators are not toys!

Lately Child 1 and I have been spending a lot of time riding elevators after school. I think this is how he helps himself process a new school with new teachers and new people so I've been dragging my ass happily obliging by taking him to various places in the afternoons. Honestly, it's not my most favorite activity in the world, but it makes him so happy that I will endure it for him; hopefully not forever, just while he adjusts. His favorite spots (this week) are the elevators at the BART stations. (For those of you who don't know, BART is the subway system here in the SF Bay Area).

Yesterday I was standing outside the elevator at the El Cerrito Plaza station (he tells me where he wants me to stand, he doesn't want me inside with him). The doors had just closed, sending Child 1 up to the platform, when a woman came running over and said "you're not going up?"

"No," I replied. "I'm just standing here while my son rides." I was looking at my phone and not really paying attention.

"But I need to ride this elevator," she said, she seemed very annoyed, and she punched the button a number of times. This got my attention.

"Well. When the doors open next you can get on!" I said. Horray! Okay, that was rather sarcastic but I don't actually think she knew that.

"What do you mean your son is riding the elevators? Nobody just rides elevators." She said.

"My son does," I answered.

"Do you mean he's playing with them... like a toy??" She was horrified.

"Yes." I said.

"Elevators are not toys!!" She was really getting mad now.

"Well." I thought about how to phrase this. "They are to him."

"I can't believe you're letting your son play with elevators like a toy." She said. "That is just really bad parenting."

Now you've stepped in it, lady.

"Oh, and you would know?" I asked.

"Yes, I would know. My children are very well behaved and I would never allow this."

"Well, that's kind of sad." I said. "I feel sorry for your children."

She went on a bit more about how horrible it was, what I was doing, and she looked around as if she wanted to alert the authorities about this awful act of parenting she was witnessing. As she looked in the direction of the station agent I wanted to dare her to try and bust me (I didn't) because not 10 minutes earlier I had had a conversation with that station agent. I told him that my son was autistic and he loved riding elevators. I explained to him that even though Child 1 was taking the elevator up to the platform level, he wasn't going to ride the train, he just really liked the elevator. I also told him that I would be standing outside the doors the whole time, that we have safety rules and my son knows them very well. The station agent pleasantly agreed that riding elevators was a fun activity my son would be allowed to enjoy.

Finally the elevator doors opened and there stood Child 1 (one of our safety rules is that he must be standing there whenever the doors open). I called for him to come out, and naturally he asked me why, as he does about everything I tell him to do. As they passed each other I told him "because this lady here is very mean and I don't want you in an elevator with her." He was totally unfazed by the whole thing but no way in hell was I going to let her trap my kid in an elevator and lecture him on the ride up. He can wait for the next one.

I was talking to my mom about this later and she asked me what the big deal was; after all elevators are not, in fact, a toy. (She's right, of course, they are not). The big deal was this woman's attitude. She comes up on me with her lecture about what good parenting is and how I'm not doing it, not even stopping for a moment to consider an alternate viewpoint. Never mind that elevators are REALLY FUN for kids, it's all just "this is what I think and you disagree therefore you are wrong," and I am just so fucking sick of that. I'm so tired of other people's opinions, and other people's attitudes, and other people's words. There are so many incredibly selfish and unhappy people in the world, who only care about themselves and their own thoughts, both online and in the "real" world, and if I never had to encounter any of them ever again I would be really really happy.

I didn't mention autism, and I suppose I missed an opportunity to create a "teachable moment," but like I told my mom: It's none of that lady's fucking business. It's none of her business who my kid is or what motivates him to do what he does, it's not like he's bothering anybody. He's quietly riding the elevator AND being very polite to all the people he rides with. He steps out of the way for bikes, he presses the buttons for them, he holds the door open while they board. The only person who needed to know details about him was the station agent, who would have told us if what we were doing was inappropriate. I do not owe her an explanation about our activities, after all she engaged me. Now, if she wanted to be cool about it and ask questions, I would have been thrilled to have a conversation with her. We could have talked about how he loves the elevators and I don't really understand it, either, and yeah, maybe it's a little bit unusual to spend the afternoon playing with an elevator like a toy, but it just makes him so happy. I would have been glad to talk to her about our daily activities, all she had to do was just be a little bit cool, just seem a little bit interested, just not be a sanctimonious bitch.

But I had no interest in "teaching" at that moment, anyway, because it was so refreshing to have somebody actually confront me for once. So much of the time there is just silent judgment, or people whisper behind your back, or a blog post is written, and I so rarely get an opportunity to actually respond to something somebody says or thinks about me. To say "you don't know me, you don't know my kid, all you know is yourself and your own experience and I'm not interested in what you think so just keep it to yourself." To tell them to go fuck themselves and I don't give a shit what you think of my parenting. Well, I didn't get to say all of that, but still. It felt good.

I'm just pissed I didn't say that I bet all her kids are in therapy now; I hate it when you think of those great lines after it's too late. Well, we'll be back to that BART station probably next week, maybe she'll be back, too.... *fingers crossed*

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Dive Bar Welcomes: Damaged Goods

I don't write Dive Bar posts, they are written by folks who need a safe place to speak their hearts and have no other outlet. For more information see the tab above. The author chose the name in the title. Let's give her lots of hugs today.

23 years ago this week you died. You had been hit by a car that was speeding as you walked across the street. You were 19 and I was 13. I should have been devastated and cried a lot. I couldn't. I wished you dead so many times. You tortured me and our sister daily for 10 years. You hid in my closet and jumped out during the night in vampire costumes starting when I was 4. You held our heads under water when no adults were looking til the point where we almost drowned, but didn't. When you got caught, you would laugh it off. You pushed our faces into the snow until they were frozen and I could scarcely breathe. I HATED you so much. I used to wish you would never come home. You stole my childhood from me. Our mom was working full time when I was 5 and I had to come home alone to a house with you. To a house where I never felt safe. I went anywhere, everywhere to avoid being home with you. You were so angry and mean and hated me and our sister so much. I babysat and was a mother's helper from age 8 on and had to give you all my money I earned. I would pay you not to beat me. Or give you $5 to go to 7/11 for candy and for 20 minutes while you rode your fucking bike to 7/11 and back, I was safe from harm. You made my life a living hell.

Then you died. We got the call your freshman year of college that you had been hit by a car and were in critical condition. Our mom dropped our sister and I off at friend's houses for a few days (like she always did because she had no time or interest in being a Mom) I remember that night my friends mom fussing over me, asking was I ok? I was numb. I felt evil and guilty because I was GLAD. You had beaten me up every day for 10 years and for 2 weeks you had been in college and for the first time in my life, I started to feel a little bit safe. I didn't feel like throwing up when I saw our house and knew you were in it. I knew you were 8 hours away at college. I didn't want you to ever come home.

I blamed myself. I thought I caused this by wishing it so many times. Later in life, my sister would tell me she wished for it all the time too. You were our torturer, our abuser and I wanted to be free from you. I spent 10 years terrified and the last 23 I have struggled with crippling anxiety and so many fears. We had no dad around. He had left to start a new family. Our mom was too busy socializing and blaming us for her not getting remarried, and blaming us for the divorce, and telling us "You ruined my life" and "Drop dead" on a daily basis.

I watched my mom languish in her bed for months after you died, handfuls of sleeping pills and narcotics friends had given her. She threatened to kill herself every day so our sister and I slept in shifts for MONTHS watching her so we wouldn't have to go live in foster care. What we had wasn't a family and it wasn't a life, but we had each other.

I see now how angry you were. Our dad left you when you were 12 and had never really been around before that. Our mom treated you like shit and blamed you for everything. You took your anger out on us and made our sister and my life a living hell. I see more clearly now that you were crying out for help and attention that you never got. You would do anything to make our Dad want you back, or want to be a part of your life.

It doesn't excuse any of it, but I see you differently now. I wonder what kind of a person you would be now at 42. A 42 year old man. Would you have changed and grown into a nicer person? Would you have been sorry and apologized for taking our safety and for all the years of abuse? I will never know. You have been dead several years longer than you were ever alive. I don't miss you at all. But each year at this time, I allow myself to wonder "what if?" What if you had survived? Would we have a relationship now? Would you be a good uncle to my children?

Every year September 12 is just another day for me. I can't cry for you. I have tried and nothing comes. With each year I understand a little more why you were so angry. I have a lot of resentment towards our parents too. You were a kid and maybe you were just a really, really angry one or maybe you were evil and would have become a criminal. We will never know. And for that reason, because all I ever knew of you was TORTURER, ABUSER, SADISTIC, CRUEL, I am not sorry you are gone.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pain, anger, and remembering my purpose

Well, this last week has been a bitch, hasn't it? Myself, I've been feeling like I have a hole in my chest that will never heal. There is so, so much hurt out there as we all try to deal with what's happened. A friend asked the other day that they say it's too soon to talk about "why," but why is it too soon? Why can't we talk about it now, while it's fresh? I think the answer is that we're all in too much pain to be rational. It hurts too much, no matter who you are, and that kind of hurt makes it almost impossible for us to have a productive discussion about why. I know that I'm nowhere near rational at the moment. Somebody on Facebook yesterday accused me of "being defensive LOL," and yeah, I'm fucking defensive. I'm a raw bundle of pain right now, I can't have a reasonable discussion, I don't feel like I'll ever be able to. I can't imagine that I'll ever even want to.

See, the thing with me is that I'm fiercely loyal to my friends. If you are my friend I will put my body in front of yours to protect you from what's coming, and I don't even care that my issues aren't yours; you're my friend and I've got your back no matter what. And it's just so hard to remain loyal to a friend that has done a terrible thing. I don't know that I'll ever be able to come to terms with this.

I've tried to stay out of the "discussion," but of course I still hear about things. I've been raked over the coals for so many things that I never said; all these people are refuting an argument that I never made. There's no point in trying to defend yourself against words that aren't yours, so I keep clear of all of that; it just makes me angry and I have enough of my own anger at the moment, thank you very much. I'm happy to have a conversation about the things I've actually said, though, so if anybody would like to talk about MY words, I'm at jillsmo@gmail.com. I can't promise that I won't be really defensive, but I can certainly try. (Or I'll try to try. Bart Simpson reference? Nevermind.....) However, if you blog or post about me, I assure you that I will not see it.

But anyway, in times like this, when things get so ugly and out of control, I force myself to stop and remember what my purpose is. Despite previous attempts to the contrary, I am not here to try to influence public discourse. I've said this many times before, my purpose is not political: I'm here for support and advocacy. I was once in that scary place where my child was autistic and I had nobody to talk to and I want to help other parents find the help they need. I don't want to argue issues, despite the fact that I constantly get caught up in that (I'm trying not to, I really am!!! Okay, and failing miserably most of the time. Sorry.) I want to make friends and help them make connections. I want to help parents feel less alone.

So: remembering my purpose; remembering what's really important to me. I'd like to go there for a minute....

Right now I'm worrying about my friend Lizbeth's daughter, who is very sick with an acute mycoplasma pneumonia. I'm thinking about my friend Lexi, whose daughter Abby is likely about to get an autism diagnosis, and who has recently begun to "escape" from her house (and OH MY GOD is that child gorgeous.) I'm thinking about my friend Greg, who isn't expected to live past Christmas and who I will be seeing in person in a month, along with 15 other friends I've never met. I'm thinking about my friend Stuart, who created the most wonderful thing for autistic kids, and how I can help him turn the project into something sustainable and lasting. I'm thinking about my friend Bec, for no reason other than I just love her a whole bunch. I'm thinking about my friend Emily, who deleted her Facebook account a few months ago and who I just heard from again and she's okay!! YAY!!

And I'm thinking about my friend Kelli, who did a terrible thing to herself and to her daughter. And I'm wondering how in the world either of them will recover from it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Where were you?

If you have any connection to the autism world, by now you have heard about Kelli Stapleton. Last week my friend Kelli tried to kill herself and her daughter Issy. As I write this, Kelli is now in jail and Issy is still unconscious.

I'm not going to talk about how I feel about this because, honestly, I'm not handling it very well. I'm not going to try to explain or make excuses, because I just don't understand. I've been trying to stay away from Facebook where it's all anybody is talking about, but things still manage to make their way to me. I kind of feel like a powder keg ready to blow and even though I was trying to keep out of the "discourse," there are some things I just can't stay quiet about anymore.

These are the few things that have made their way to me: There's a change.org petition out there to have Kelli charged with a hate crime. And there's a hashtag on twitter called #JusticeForIssy. I don't actually know who is behind these things, because going and finding out would probably push me over the edge, although I could write a list of people I suspect are involved, and likely be right. I haven't read any blogs but I'm sure the usual "the mom is a monster" posts are out there, and, of course, all those fucking Facebook posts and comments....

This post is for those people: Those autistic self advocates who are currently running their public information campaign about Kelli and how much of a monster she is, because I have a question for you.

Where were you?

Where were you back in February when Kelli was desperately pleading for help because their funding had been cut off for Issy's residential treatment program? Where were you when the rest of us were writing posts and spreading the word to try to get Issy the help she needed? Did you contribute to the Team Issy fund? Did you lend your support to Kelli in any way? Did you even "like" the fucking Facebook page?

Well, I'll tell you where you were: you were sitting on your fucking high horse, pretending it wasn't happening, because a violent autistic child who regularly sends her mother to the Emergency Room just doesn't fit with your nicely crafted talking points. You were watching it unfold and you were doing nothing but criticize Kelli's parenting, as if you could do better. You were calling her an attention whore. You were making up reasons to make sure that this was all still Kelli's fault (Kelli was criticized for "posting videos of Issy in distress," even though she never did that). You were sitting there quietly, hoping it all just went away.

And now? You don't care about getting fucking "justice" for Issy, you care about yourself, and how much blog traffic you can generate by capitalizing on this tragedy and using it for your own personal, political interests. If you cared about Issy, you would have been there, with us, back in February, trying to get Kelli some help. If you cared about Issy, you would have done something back then. But you did nothing.

And what are you going to do for Issy now, other than trying to make sure her mother is incarcerated for as long as possible? Nothing. You will do nothing. She's just a public information campaign to you, you don't actually care about her well being. Issy is nothing more to you than a step ladder to stand on so you can talk about yourselves.

So, where were you? You were hiding. Now go back into your hole and stay there.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Things I Find In My House #18

It's like somebody sat there, petting a cat, and thinking "I think Jill needs something to blog about. Hey it's a plate of discarded cheese slices! Let's make this happen for her!!" At least that's what I assume is the explanation for this plate I discovered in my TV room.....

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Parents on Facebook: Beware of reddit

Many of you guys know that I read reddit but for those of you who don't even know what I'm talking about, reddit is an incredibly popular website where people, called redditors, post images and links for other people to see. Posts are then "upvoted" or "downvoted" and the popular ones move up in the ranks for more people to see while the unpopular ones disappear forever, never to be seen again. When redditors post links and their links are upvoted, they receive what is called karma, which is a number next to your name that shows other redditors how popular you are.

For example, here is my karma.

Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal.

But actually, no I'm not, because reddit karma is totally meaningless.

I like to say that I love reddit but I hate redditors. I look at the funny pictures of cats but I try to stay far away from the comments, because redditors are complete assholes. They are selfish, they are unbelievably mean, they care about themselves, they don't give a shit about you, they know more than you do, and they have absolutely no problem with telling you all of that. The average redditor is a 20-something man with no kids and is a parenting expert. You know the type: they know how to parent, and the actual parents are all doing it wrong. And... like I said... they are incredibly mean about it.

There's a rising trend of late for redditors to take things they've seen in their Facebook feed and upload it. Other people's information, other people's pictures, it's all fair game when you're trying to win karma. Reddit actually has a policy (one of the five rules that they have) that you're not allowed to post somebody else's personal information or link to their Facebook page, but there's nothing stopping anybody from taking screenshots and uploading them to imgur, or of outright stealing other people's pictures.

The reddit post that inspired me to write this post is called "From my FB feed: HELP ME! Tomorrow is school picture day and someone is INSISTING on wearing what he believes to be the coolest outfit ever. All efforts to convince him otherwise or to make slight modifications have thus far been a complete failure..." A (probably) 20 something man stole a picture of somebody else's child, copied and pasted what the parent said about their kid, uploaded it for the world to see, with the intention of calling out their parenting and having a little reddit circle jerk about that person's questionable choices. And boy did it work! This post hit the front page and this redditor got a lot of karma for it.

And when I say "for the world to see," I really mean it. Popular posts on reddit are viewed by multiple millions of people. Even unpopular posts get thousands of views, but reddit links have been known to take down entire sites because of the sheer volume of traffic they generate. So, here we have a redditor, who has taken a picture of somebody else's child and made it so that child's picture was viewed by millions of people. And do the parents know this? I wrote to him but haven't heard back, but I can't imagine that parent would have given permission for this. (If I hear back after posting this, I will update).

Now, I'm sure critics of this post will cite the copyright offender's battlecry "if you didn't want something to be shared on the internet then you shouldn't have posted it on the internet," but we're talking about parents posting pictures of their children to their own Facebook wall, with the belief that their picture will only be viewed by their friends and family. You can have your privacy settings locked down as tight as possible, but one of your "friends" can still take your pictures and use them however they want. It's not an issue of Facebook privacy policy, it's not an issue of reddit privacy policy, it's an issue of people being assholes and exploiting your personal information for a meaningless number on a website that doesn't matter.

I am incredibly disturbed by this and I'm writing this post so that parents on Facebook are aware. There's nothing Facebook can do, there's nothing reddit is willing to do, the problem lies between people and whoever their FB friends are. And so I want you to know that you need to be really careful about who you are friends with on Facebook, because you have no idea what people are doing with the information you post to your wall. Scrutinize your friends list: how many 20 something men with no children are in there? How many of them are assholes who don't care about your privacy? Find out. Unfriend them before a picture of your kid goes viral, because by then it's way too late.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All Moms Do That

HAHAHA! Do you see how clever I am? It's a play on my series All Kids Do That! A series I wrote because people always say "Oh, all kids do that" when you talk about your autistic kid's quirks and things! I'm so funny!! And really really tired, it's been an incredibly long day, this, now the night before school starts, but I wanted to get this out tonight otherwise I probably never would.

Tomorrow is Child 1's first day of middle school, you see. I've, perhaps, mentioned at some point that this event makes me slightly apprehensive slightly. Just slightly. Only a little. See, I was bullied in middle school and it's always been this representation in my mind of a part of childhood where absolute fucking torture happens. So, I would naturally be ever so slightly concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of my unbelievably sweet and meek autistic child, who possesses absolutely no social ability whatsoever, who will bust out with the most random recitation of whichever particular Go Animate video happens to be on his mind at the moment in response to a question, and who, by nature of his diagnosis, has a 63% chance of being bullied while he's there.

So, I'm just a tad bit uneasy about the whole thing. Just slightly skittish. A bit peckish. That might mean I'm hungry. Okay, that too, then.

Yeah. So, today we go there and we take our tour, we met with our new case manager, we walked around the classrooms, we met the teachers, it was a lovely visit. While there, I was chatting with one of his new teachers, and I mentioned my oh so casual not a big deal nervousness about the whole thing, and her response? "All parents are nervous about tomorrow."

Yeah. All parents are nervous about tomorrow. All parents are probably feeling that slight bit of apprehension as their child embarks on this new journey. All parents are feeling a little uneasy about a new school, about their child making new friends, about their child doing well academically. All parents are nervous.

Are all parents hyperventilating? Do all parents have to pull over while driving their car because of the panic attack they're having about middle school? Have all parents been just on the verge of bursting into hysterical tears this past week?

Are all parents sure they're sending their child off to a cesspool of evil? Do all parents envision their kid getting laughed at, and pushed, and called names, because he is so, so, SO obviously different? Have all parents been unable to sleep for weeks because they lie awake imagining the kind of heartbreak and pain and hurt and fear their sweet boy might experience at the hands of other kids?

Are all parents doing that? I'm willing to bet good money that not all parents are doing that. I'm willing to bet that the nervousness they feel is absolutely fucking nothing in comparison to what I'm feeling. I know, you're going to tell me it's going to be okay. You're going to tell me how freaked out you were on the night before you lead your child off to the slaughter, and look! No problem. You're overreacting. You worry too much. He'll be fine.

He'll be fine.

Actually he probably will be fine, but telling me all of that is perhaps the least helpful thing you could say to a person at a time like this. I'm sure he'll be fine. But I'M not fine. And don't tell me that I should be, or that I'm like everybody else who is also slightly apprehensive, because I'm nothing like them. This is nothing like that.

It's cool, though, because he'll be fine. And all parents are nervous.

I also want to take a moment to link to the most amazing blog post I've ever read, written by my friend Bec at Snagglebox, about the worry we parents have about our special needs children. It's not about middle school, it's about adulthood, but her kid is only a few years older than mine is, and MAN does she nail it with this post.

But all moms worry.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Spotted in Berkeley: CHICKENS!

I saw this guy this morning, a block down from where I saw the sign last week

and if you compare him to the sign I saw...

... that's a totally different chicken.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Spotted in Berkeley

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Let's play "Find the smell" !

"Something stinks in the bedroom. Go find out what it is and make it go away."

"Oh, great. You have to help me find it."

"Hell no, finding stinky things and making them go away is a man's job. I'm just a dainty lady, I can't get myself all mucked up."


"Yeah, whatever. Go find it, stink boy."

"Fine. But, hey. You did recently blog about mice."

"Yeah! Go find it so that I can post a follow up."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Walking in the streets of my town

I've been doing a lot of walking lately. It's that funny kind of speed walking where it looks like you're repeatedly punching yourself in the face. I don't know exactly how fast I get, because I have yet to find an accurate and reliable pedometer (like that one that reported I walked 3 miles in 45 minutes and my average speed was 6 mph. Now, I'm no accountant or anything, but I'm pretty sure that math is wrong) but I can pretty much guess. Regardless of my actual speed, however, I'm still walking faster than anybody else I encounter on the sidewalks of this town.

There's nothing quite like walking faster than other people to make you really, really hate other people. Moreso. I've gathered a small list of the kinds of people I encounter on my daily struggles up and down the hills of Berkeley. What you're seeing is what I see, artistically reenacted.

People in love

Yeah, I don't care that you're two men holding hands and walking down the street; I'm sure you're very happy and whatever. I could give a shit that you stop to kiss each other and do a little bit of snuggling, I care that you made me break my fucking stride to go around your little street lovefest. MOVE!

"Nice" people

Excuse me, do I LOOK like I'm in the mood for a casual chat about my progress? Do you seriously think I'm going to stop what I'm doing to answer your fucking questions? NO. GO AWAY. And, really, this is just "look at the fat chick actually working out!!" voyeurism, anyway.

Clueless, selfish, fucking assholes

I shit you not, this happened to me just this morning. There are three of them and ONE of me. They're taking up the whole fucking sidewalk and does that donut bitch even move aside for me? NO, she just looks at me with that stupid fucking face (that I borrowed from reddit). Apparently she expects me to step into the gutter so as not to disrupt their casual stroll up the hill? HELL NO. So what did I do when I got up to them? Yeah, you guessed it, I fucking shoulder slammed her out of my way and continued on. Enjoy your donut, fattie! (MmMmmmm. Dooooooonuts.........)

This one is, no question, the worst

No explanation necessary.

This is the guy I like

He sees me, he steps aside to let me pass, we all go on our way. No chatter, no obliviousness. THANK YOU.

Although, this one is my favorite

Ahhhhh, nobody. Perfect.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I totally drew this. I even used a "how to draw
a mouse" tutorial. I am THAT good.
We have 4 cats. You might have already known that. Particularly if you know me on Facebook, I spend a good deal of time talking about and complaining about my cats. (Shut UP, Cactuspants!)

Cats are hunters by nature, and cat owners know that their hunter buddies like to catch their prey and then bring it into the house as an offering of love to their owners. They will leave dead birds or mice or whatever, sometimes on your pillow, which is some kind of love gesture because they think they're feeding you or something. I don't really get how that works, but whatever. Just go with me on this one.

MY cats, however.... well, they're pretty lame. They're shitty hunters, they don't enjoy spending their time stalking prey in the tall grass, they mostly just like to lie around being fat and lazy (what a life). Actually one of my cats has some kind of cat OCD and she likes to catch and kill plastic bags. It's a typical day in my house to hear her yowling this weird little yowl of hers while she carries a plastic bag up the stairs and deposits it at the foot of my bed. I guess that means she loves me? Like I said, I have no clue. Cats are weird.

Occasionally, however, one of my lame, lazy cats WILL catch something. But because they're not hunters (and because they're weird and lame and lazy) they very rarely actually kill it, but they do bring it into the house. And then lose it behind a chair or in the bathroom.

And then suddenly we have a live animal, usually a mouse, terrified out of its fucking mind and stuck behind a chair in my goddamn house.  A good hunter would continue to hunt and trap that thing so they could kill it, after a prolonged period of torture, and then leave it on my pillow as my prize. But what do MY cats do? They stand there for a bit before saying "well, fuck this. I guess that thing is gone now" and then go back to their spot on my bed to lie around and lick each other or whatever.

Which leaves the humans to deal with this tiny stranded animal that's now camped out behind the chair in my living room.

Okay, so... here's the thing about me. If you've read my blog or know me online, you might think that I am a brave warrior mom (not the Jenny McCarthy kind of warrior mom, the good, sane kind of warrior mom) and you would pretty much be right. I'm not afraid of much. I've dealt with spiders, and roaches, and lice, and fleas, and ringworm (which is not actually a worm but it fits well into this list of things right here). I've handled raccoons and possums (kind of). I've been puked on, and pooped on, and peed on. I'm excellent during a crisis, somehow I get really calm and go into "deal with shit" mode, like the time I ran an almost passed out over my shoulder Child 2 into the ER while wearing my pajamas. I've stood up to bullies, I've spoken at school board meetings. I've advocated all the way up to the Superintendent.  I get shit done and I'm not often afraid. But if you put a live mouse in front of me? I immediately turn into a sniveling, scared little girl.

I'm not kidding, I'm like that stereotypical picture where all the women jump onto the table because there's a tiny little fuzzy mouse running around, and scream at the men to take care of it. I will RUN the fuck out of the room, and to safety, to get away from the goddamn thing. Hubs is astonished, every time. "it's just a mouse!!" he'll say. Yes, it's just a mouse, and I am so motherfucking freaked out by that thing, I will scream at the top of my lungs at just the sight of it. I'm not kidding. I SCREAM!! But only the live ones, because I have no problem dealing with the dead ones.

I have no idea what the deal is with mice and me. Probably somebody will suggest that I do some aversion therapy to deal with my problem, but NO THANK YOU. I have no interest in dealing with my problem. Let's just let hubs take care of those things while I stand on the table and scream.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Okay, let's try this again

Back in January I wrote a post about how I wanted to get back to blogging. I was going to post something every day and it would be complete shit but you guys were just going to have to deal because I wanted to start blogging again and you have to suck before you can be good. Writing is a muscle, I opined, and in order for it to work properly you have to give it regular exercise. You can't just stop writing and then wonder why you're all writing flabby. You're flabby because you've stopped working out. If you want it to be healthy and awesome you need to keep working it.

So, that was my plan. At the time. But then I ran into some things I wasn't expecting: a big bearded bully.....  a massively painful loss.... and things got a little sidetracked. My plan to exercise my writing muscle fell by the wayside and I was, once again, writing flabby. Moreso.

Not only that, but I've been paying attention to exercising other muscles lately: butt, legs, arms, heart. I've been working out, which is time consuming, and while I do tend to write my best posts in my head while I'm nowhere near the computer, I also lose everything once I get in front of the computer.

For example, I've been wanting to write a post about mice for weeks now, but I just can't DO IT. I try to get it out of my brain but the best I could do is this piece of shit:

Sup? I'm a mouse. Squeek.

Okay, I just got a phone call and totally lost my train of thought. This writing thing is HARD.

Anyway, I'm going to try to do this again, exercise my blogging muscle. Hopefully it will become nice and firm eventually, but in the meantime? It might be pretty lame here for a bit, so please bear with me.

I suppose lame is better than no posts at all, though, right?

That's a cricket.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Out of, and into, the mouths of babes

I go into the kitchen a little bit ago, where the kids are having breakfast, and I say to the room "Here's the plan for today, guys. I want everybody dressed and out of the house for at least a few hours."

See, if it was up to them, they would sit around in their underwear watching TV all day and doing nothing. They need to at least see the light of day for a bit, get some vitamin D, etc. I'm not going to be responsible for creating cute little vampires, I'll tell you that much.

They don't like the idea of having to get dressed and leave the house, however, so Child 2 comes up to me with this sad, doe-eyed expression on his face and says "But I don't feel good.

So I say "then put down the bacon."

And then he does this:

You can tell this kid is mine.

Friday, July 26, 2013

If you didn't make it then you don't own it

I have a bunch of Facebook friends who make memes about autism awareness and then share them. What happens to them (a lot) is that other pages find them and then, basically, steal them. When my friends complain, most of the time what happens is that the page owner just ignores them, so they're forced to make a complaint to Facebook about theft of intellectual property. Most of the time the picture gets removed by Facebook, but oftentimes what may happen is that the page owner will balk at the idea of being accused of theft. They will then post to their wall about it, and from reading what they write, and from what their commenters write, it's clear to me (and my friends) that most people on Facebook have no idea how copyright laws work, particularly when it comes to digital images and online media. They complain because "it's all about autism awareness," and that "bickering about images" is just petty and wastes our time. Actual quote: "I guess you don't believe in adovcacy if you won't let me use your pictures."

What these folks don't understand, though, in addition to copyright law, is that my friends spend their time and energy making these images and they don't want their work to be stolen!! It's like if you copied a Van Gogh, signed your own name to it, and then when you got sued you said "I'm just trying to spread the word about sunflowers, isn't that our mutual goal?" There's a difference between advocacy and theft, and if your goal is advocacy, you need to understand the law.

Here's the thing: all images that are posted online are subject to the laws of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This act protect artists and content owners in the same way that standard federal copyright laws do. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, you and me... we're all bound by these laws whether we like it or not.

I'm going to explain the right and wrong way to share images on Facebook, but I'm writing this because there's an important message here, one in which I'm guilty of, as well: if you didn't personally make the image, regardless of where you find it, you're not allowed to use it. That means on Facebook, but in particular, as far as this post is concerned, on your blog. But I'll get to that in a minute. First, a Facebook lesson:

So I'm browsing The Book and I see an image that I like. Cool! Let's share it!!

So, how do I show this to my Facebook friends? It's a simple task to do it legally: you hit that "share" button:

then you'll see this:

hit that "share photo" button and BOOM. You've done it the right way.

Then how do you do it illegally? Well, that will happen when you download the image and then re-upload it to Facebook. Some people will go so far as to alter the image to remove the identifiable information from the author. In that case it's pretty obvious that this person is a thief, but it's possible you could just be doing it wrong and you don't know, which is why I'm writing this tutorial.

Here's what you don't want to do when you see this picture:

and then...

Why? Well, according to Facebook's terms of service, by uploading an image to your profile or page or group, you are giving Facebook "a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license." That means that Facebook has the right to show your image, but only the owner of the intellectual property has the ability to give Facebook these rights. By uploading an image like I've shown in these pictures here, you are making the claim that this image is your intellectual property. This is all part of the really long User Agreement thingy that everybody just scrolls through and never reads.  That's why you can hit the "share" button with no problems, because once the image is uploaded, it belongs to Facebook and they control the share button.

Is that confusing? In a nutshell, "upload" means "I own this." And if you didn't make it, then you don't own it.  And if you do most of your Facebooking from your iPhone, you will already know that the only way to "share" photos is to download and upload; you don't get the option to just share. If this is the case, then just move along, because even on your iPhone upload means "I own this" and you don't own it. Don't be illegal just because it's what's more convenient for you. It's also more convenient to drive too fast if you're late but that doesn't mean you're going to get out of that ticket: you broke the law, and you know it. Wait until you get to a computer or just don't share it at all. If you really care about advocacy then you should respect the rights of the advocates who spend their time and energy making advocacy images.

Okay, so, let's get to the part about the blogging, which is the part that affects ME. And it's all about me, you know; I've got my priorities.

I recently read an article (h/t HH6) about using pictures from Google images, which we all do, and I was very very surprised to read the following:
Current Fair Use image copyright laws say that you’re financially liable for posting copyrighted images, even if:

• You did it by accident
• You immediately take down the picture after receiving a DMCA takedown notice
• The picture is resized
• If the picture is licensed to your Web developer (Getty Images requires that you get your own license, thank you very much)
• You link back to the photo source and cite the photographer’s name
• Your site isn’t commercial and you make no money from your blogs
• You have a disclaimer on the site
• The pic is embedded instead of saved on your server
• You found it on the Internet
HOLY CRAP. So... if I get a cease and desist notice about the kitten I used back in May of 2011, even if I take it down immediately, I have still broken the law and still could get sued. In this case, they were sued for $8,000 !!!!  And they ended up paying, because downloading and uploading from google images is the same as doing it on Facebook. If you upload anything, you are making the claim that the image belong to you. And... like I said... if you didn't make it, it doesn't belong to you. Even if you erased the artist's logo and added in your own. (That actually makes you an asshole, in addition to being a thief).

Well, I sure as hell don't have $8,000 so I'm going through my blog today and taking down all the pictures I've illegally taken from Google images. It will take a while, but... I need my money.

**Note: the images that you see in these screenshot have been used with permission of the awesome hot chick at Four Sea Stars.

**Note2: I'm not a lawyer. Don't take my advice, do your own research or consult an attorney. But more important than that, just don't be an asshole. You don't need to be a lawyer to give that piece of advice.

**Note3: Here's a great royalty-free photo site that I've been using to replace pictures of cats on my blog: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/