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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Thanksgiving has always been a big deal in my family. It was a tradition that my Mom created when I was a kid; we would make a big deal about being together and also eat a LOT of food. When I was growing up it was our immediate family and also any other people that needed a place to go for the night. My Mom always wanted to make sure that anybody we knew who had no place to go were always welcome at our table. (She would say "are there any other strays we should invite?") In college, and then afterwards, I drove down every year, I would never even consider skipping it. It was that important.

Starting at a young age, my job was to stuff the turkey with my Dad. Mom would make the stuffing and then call us in for cramming duty when it was time. He would hold open the turkey cavity and I would use the spoon to shove the goodness inside, then I would watch as he would sew up the opening. I remember the size of the needle, the thickness of the thread, and how he used his fingers to always stuff every last bit of it inside the bird.

This is a tradition that I gladly took over from my Mom when Hubs and I bought our house. After 30 years, Mom was DONE with the cooking; she had served her time and now it was my turn. So every year since 2000 I have hosted this dinner at my house, and I've also tried to invite as many "strays" as I could. Mom created an awesome tradition and I'm more than happy to carry on with it; I hope my kids keep it going after I'm done (OMG, though, it's EXHAUSTING).

Thanksgiving 2002 was my brother David's last Thanksgiving. My Mom's stuffing was always his favorite part of the meal, and I started making her recipe when I took over the tradition from her (except for the raisins, because. Ew. Raisins are gross.) That year, though, he was on this weird diet imposed by his herbalist doctor where he couldn't eat poultry, so I made him a mushroom stuffing and did the best I could to recreate the original for him. I remember him looking at me and saying "fuck it" and then eating some turkey, anyway. He died the following April. He was 35.

Thanksgiving 2012 was my cousin Emily's last Thanksgiving. She wasn't feeling well that night, and even though she pretended she was okay, you could tell there was something up. The thing about Emily was that even if she wasn't feeling well, she was still funny and engaging; she is still one of my most favorite people in the world. After dinner we snuck into the back yard for a cigarette, even though I didn't smoke; I just wanted to hang out with her alone. She died the following January. She was 36.

Thanksgiving 2016 was my father's last Thanksgiving. He also wasn't feeling well, and were were all worried about how he would get up my front stairs. Hubs helped him up and down and I made sure the chair with the arms was easy to get to, because he needed the chair arms to be able to get himself up. At the table, I always sit at one end, closest to the kitchen, and he sat at the head at the other end, so my view was always to see him there on the other side. I remember watching him eat that night, wondering if this would be his last time in that seat. He died in June. He was 85.

I just turned 47 in September and this is the first Thanksgiving of my entire life that I will spend without my father. It's been 17 years since I started stuffing the turkey with my husband and not my father, but not a year of it has gone by that I haven't remembered our stuffing tradition. The size of the needle, the thickness of the thread, the way he crammed it all in with his hands. I never turned that part of the tradition over to either of my kids, I still want to be the one who stuffs the turkey. Selfishly. Always. 

I suppose, at this point, part of my Thanksgiving tradition has now become making sure the people I love are at my table, because if this is going to be their last, I want to have spent it with them. I want them to have been in my house, eating my (Mom's) awesome stuffing, hanging out with my kids and my cats and feeling safe and cared for. I also suppose that every Thanksgiving, now, I will look around my table and wonder if this will be the last one for any of the people I see. I don't mean to sound morbid, it's just that I've come to learn that life is short. I just hope they like the stuffing.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

So your child was diagnosed with autism: Tips for navigating the internet

Oh, hello! For those of you who don't know me, I'm Jill, and my kid, who I call Child 1, is autistic. He's 12 now and he received his first diagnosis in May 2004. I've also been on the internet since 1993, ever since America Online spent all their time mailing out those floppy disks that everybody ended up using as coasters. I thought I would take my years of combined experiences and write up a post giving my advice to the parent whose child is recently diagnosed with autism. Because, you see, it's ugly out there. It's messy and it's no fun and if you're new to this you could very easily be freaked out enough to just grab your kid and run and hide; that's probably what I would have done. So let me give you some advice that you might be able to use along the way.

1. Don't take my advice.

Wait. What? Don't take… huh???

See, you have to think about The Internet like a great big beach, full of individual grains of sand, and your brain like the head of a pin. Each of those grains is one person's opinion, or one person's experience, or one organization's mission statement, or one Facebook page's viewpoint, and your job now is to wade through that beach and find the 10 or so grains of sand that will fit on the head of your pin. The only way to find those 10 grains is to dip yourself into the entire beach and go through all the individual grains; taking what you need, leaving behind what you don't. Many of them will not work for you, many of them will cause you to run, screaming for the hills, but some of them will be the ones that speak to you and you need to find those. So don't just take one person's advice and leave it at that, you have to read all the advice, and even if you end up back at that first place that you started, at least you got there on your own, fully armed with knowledge. So the next few months your job is to get in front of your computer and start reading, and read it all, even the most batshit, explosively crazy stuff: you've got to read it all. Take notes, remember the places you like, remember the places you don't like, and then come out the other side with your 10 grains of sand.

2. There is no one "right" way to think

There is no instruction manual here. Every person, every child, is an individual with individual needs and experiences. What works for one person might be the most horrible thing for another, but you won't know what works for you until you figure out what all your options are. ABA was awesome for my kid, but that doesn't automatically mean that ABA is awesome in general: it just means that it was awesome for my kid. Anybody who makes blanket statements about what is good and what is bad for a child with autism, when these issues are not black and white, is not somebody who I believe to be helpful.

Additionally, there are a lot of people out there who may tell you that what you think is wrong, or how you feel is hurtful, and they feel justified in telling you this because they know more about this stuff than you do, and it's probably true that they do know more than you do: about autism. But they don't know you, they don't know your experience and more importantly, they don't know your kid. Remember this as you wade through that beach, because it's the most important thing you can hold in your mind right now: You are an expert on your own child. Nobody else knows your kid like you do, particularly an internet person who has never met them. Nobody else can claim that they know what is best for your child, only you can claim that.

Another thing to remember is not to be swayed by what seems like popularity. Just because somebody has written some books, has been doing this since May 2004, has fancy letters after their name, or is a Facebook page has a lot of likes, it doesn't mean that they're any better than anybody else. First of all, Facebook likes can be easily bought, so a page with high numbers isn't an automatic brand of respectability. Respect has to be earned, it can't just be bought, so if somebody is telling you what to think or feel, rather than helping you to learn, their numbes are meaningless. That's not helping, that's preaching, and you don't need that right now.

3. Trust your instincts

As you sludge through the sand, don't be afraid to stop and ask questions, because you need to meet people right now. There are lots of good people and good places out there who have the information and experience that can help support you and inform your opinion, and these are the people who are going to help get you through this. And there are also lots of bad ones. For example, if you find yourself in the middle of an argument that doesn't seem to have anything to do with you, or people are calling you names for no reason that you can tell, or if you're suddenly having to defend your parenting, or are saying things like "but, that's not even what I said…" RUN. RUN LIKE THE WIND. You've got an entire beach you need to get through, you don't have time to spend defending yourself against things you never even said, or having to repeatedly insist that you actually do love your child, because what the hell kind of crazy talk is that?? Know that everybody brings their own baggage to the table, and because their baggage has nothing to do with you, you have no obligation to spend your time fighting about it. It doesn't matter the horrible thing somebody says to you: it's not about you, it's about them. If it feels wrong to you, then it is wrong for you, so just cut your losses, delete your comments, and get the hell out. The next place you land will be better.

4. Stay away from reddit

Just trust me on this one. Reddit is not for you.

5. Don't let one bad apple ruin an entire viewpoint

Let's say you ask a question about possibly spacing out vaccines and suddenly you've got this person calling you a murderer and blaming you for all those kids that have died of pertussis in California. First of all, see #3 and get the hell out, but more importantly, don't let that one crazy person alter your viewpoint about vaccines in general. That person doesn't represent the group, they only represent themselves. It doesn't mean that all people who support vaccines are nutjob crazies, it just means that one person is. You can ask your question somewhere else and probably get a reasonable, informative answer, and since you need answers, discounting an entire viewpoint because of just one person might leave you with an uninformed opinion. Try again, it will be better somewhere else.

6. Don't panic. But if you do panic, that's okay, too

This is a lot, I know. And you're possibly feeling overwhelmed. You just got this diagnosis for your kid and now you have to wade through a whole stupid beach just to find 10 stupid grains of sand? Are you kidding me?? Shut up, Jill! Yeah, I totally get that. This sucks. But I've been there, I got out the other end, and you'll get there, too. You will make your way; you will find your tribe. This will not break you, I promise. You love your child, that much is 100% fact, and it is that love that will help guide your way. Hold onto that and let it be your flashlight as you sift through the sand.

You'll notice I haven't provided any links to places I think are good to read because I didn't want to advocate for any particular opinion here, but I'm happy to answer questions if anybody has them, so feel free to contact me at jillsmo@gmail.com or on Facebook here. I love hearing from you guys and I especially like providing guidance, so don't be afraid to contact me. I don't bite! Despite what you may have heard. 

But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself. What the hell do I know, anyway? I'm just one grain of sand. One itchy, sarcastic grain of sand.

Monday, February 3, 2014


(Oh my god, she posted twice in one day? What the hell is happening???? I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE. I figured I should just post it all at once, otherwise it would depart my brain forever, never to return. And this shit is important, too.)

I had a Skype conference call with a client earlier today. Skype calls are awesome because you don't need to shower AND you don't need to wear pants!

Unfortunately, though, since I was having this call from my office at home, it looked like this much of the time:

No pants, though.....


I've been working out a lot lately; doing a lot of cardio. And I was thinking I should maybe mix things up a bit, and from what I've read it's important to "strengthen the core," as it were; and I don't mean kegels. (I don't just mean kegels, anyway. AAAAAAAAAAAAnd release).

So what's good core strengthening exercise? Yoga, right? And pilates? I guess. But I'm kind of afraid to take one of those classes because the chances of me doing something stupid and looking like a complete fool are pretty high. I mean, the chances of those things happening are pretty high on a regular day, but get me on a big pilates ball? In front of people? There's just no way that can turn out well for me.

So I've decided to do the next best thing and just draw me doing pilates.

Boom. Core strengthened.

(Apparently I already had a tag labeled "this one is kind of dumb." Who knew?)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Reposting on this, the shittiest of anniversaries. I miss you, cousin  
Thanksgiving 2012

I had a beautiful cousin, whose name was Emily, and she died last week. She was 36.

Do you know people who just seem to "get" things? I don't know if I'll explain this properly, but I'll try. Emily understood things. You would explain something, perhaps badly, and she would just understand. I could switch from serious to sarcastic in a second, and she was always right there with me, the whole time; playing along. You could talk with passion about something that meant a lot to you that you couldn't tell anybody else, and Emily would get it. And it wasn't like you just thought she understood, she could repeat back her understanding of your situation perfectly, and she would be right.

Emily was on the same wavelength as me, all the time; but Emily was on the same wavelength as everybody; all the time. She was bipolar, and I think she lived her life feeling not quite the same as everybody else. She was introspective. And analytical. And smart. And so, so funny. And I think it was this combination of things: her immense intelligence, and the way she felt about herself in the world, that made her as understanding as she was. I felt so comfortable around her, and honestly I don't feel that comfortable around people in real life, most of the time. She had a gift.

Her loss will be felt very very strongly in my house. She was my regular babysitter and was here often and she had this incredible connection with my children. She would spend hours playing Pokemon with Child 2 (after he insisted that he teach her how). She listened as he rambled on and and on and on about whatever was happening in his Minecraft world. She was fun, and she was funny, and he loved being around her.  I'll never forget that the last time she babysat Child 2 was jumping up and down saying "YAY! Emily will be here in 10 minutes!!"

But her connection with Child 1 was the most remarkable.

As a parent of a child with autism, one of my hopes is that I can help him find adults who can act as mentors. Adults who have an understanding of his world and who have experienced similar things, who can help guide him through his life. Emily was not autistic, but I think that she spent so much of her life feeling "different" from everybody else, that it allowed her to create such a beautiful bond with Child 1, who is also so "different." She would tirelessly take him on elevator rides, and to the various stores that he wanted to visit. They watched BART trains together, and she never had a need to ask "why does he like BART so much?" she just knew. He loves his trains, and she knew how it felt to love something. She would often mention how much she could relate to him and his quirks. She got it. 

I already miss her so much. We didn't even talk every day, it was about once a week or so, but I already feel her absence from my life so strongly. My children will miss her so much, and I don't know if they understand what death really means, but I grieve for the sadness they will feel as they begin to understand the reality of her being gone.

The last few months had been hard for her; she had been struggling. In my phone I have the last communication we had; a text message I had sent her. It says "I hope you're doing okay. If you ever want to come and just hang out here you are always always welcome. < 3 " I don't think I will ever delete it. I'm just so glad that the last thing I said to her was that she was loved and she was welcomed. She didn't respond, but I hope she knew that I meant it.

I don't think this makes a whole lot of sense, my writing is choppy and I apologize. I'm very sad, and I'm doing my best to explain how awesome she was. Emily would have understood.

If you are so inclined, you may be interested in making a donation in her name (Emily Salzfass) to Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Monday, January 13, 2014

So, I hear blogging is dead now

I read an article recently, and my pals have been chatting, that blogging is dead. People don't blog anymore, apparently. I don't really know why, because I when I say I "read" an article, really what I mean is I saw the headline in my Facebook feed. Because I'm an American. But I guess comments are down and traffic is down and the conclusion is that blogging is dead?

I'd just like to point out that THIS blog has been dead for a while, so if the topic is about how blogging is dead, the only natural conclusion is that I've created this Dead Blogging thing. Because I'm a trendsetter. I set trends. Particularly if said trends involve not doing something, or doing something wrong, or looking like an idiot while doing something, or perhaps falling down and hurting yourself in the process of doing something. Because I'm trendy.

So, if anybody was wondering Whatever Happened to Jill's Blog? The blog is dead because blogging is dead.

And trends.

Also irony.


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!!

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."

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.

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*

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.