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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1, 2014: it's not a joke

About a week ago I heard about Travis Stratton, a 4 year old autistic boy in California who went missing and drowned. There was only about a 3 hour period between his parents calling the police and when his body was found in a neighbor's swimming pool. My heart was shattered for this boy and his family. And honestly? I was angry. Because little 4 year old boys should not be drowning, but also because he was another in a too long line of names of autistic children who have died. I thought it would be a nice gesture to light a virtual candle in remembrance of the lives that have been lost, and so the Candlelight Vigil for Autistic Children Who Lost Their Lives After Wandering was born.

Child 1 is not what we call "a runner," I don't have to spend any time (at this point) worrying about his safety if I'm not keeping a constant eye on him. But this is my personal experience with autism, this is not the universal experience. I have way, way too many friends who spend literally every moment of their lives afraid of what might happen to their babies if they look away for just one second. My point in creating the vigil is not only to remember the people that have died, but to help show that there are many experiences with autism, and regardless of our personal opinions we all can agree that when children die it is an unimaginable tragedy.

If autism acceptance and awareness really is the true goal, we need to put egos aside and stand together. We all need to recognize that our personal experiences are not universal experiences, that each of us is unique in our own way, we all bring a different voice to the table, and working together is the only way to achieve this goal. And you can dislike me for the things I've written about in the past, but you can't just ignore this very real issue because I'm the one trying to bring awareness to it.

This isn't about me. This isn't about you. This is about all of us. Together. 

Are you willing to acknowledge that acceptance and awareness is a group effort? I am.  Will you join me?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Let's stand together on April 1st

There is a Facebook event I would like to tell you all about: A virtual candlelight vigil to remember and respect the lives of autistic children who have died after an elopement. On April 1, 2014, please use the above graphic and spread it as far and as wide as you can. Post it to your wall, use it as your avatar, post it to your friends' walls and group and pages, tweet it, pin it, do whatever you can think of so that people will remember the children who have died after an elopement. (Go ahead and take it, you don't need to ask permission.)

The Kennedy Krieger Institute reported in a 2012 study that up to 48% of all children with autism will engage in wandering behavior or "elopement," which is defined as the tendency to leave a safe space and enter into a potentially dangerous one, and is a rate 4 times higher than their neurotypical siblings.

The Krieger Institute also reported that "35% of families with children who elope report their children are “never” or “rarely" able to communicate their name, address, or phone number by any means."

In 2012, the National Autism Association reported that "accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with an ASD ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement."

This vigil is being organized to spread awareness of the very real issue of wandering behavior in autistic people and the unspeakable tragedies that can, and have occurred as a result.

This event is not about placing blame or even to talk about solutions. The sole purpose of what the vigil was created this for is to simply remember the children who have died. We're hoping that personal feelings about each other can be put aside long enough so that the community can come together and mourn the unspeakable loss of innocent young lives. Let's forget our differences for one day. Maybe that will lead to something better.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I am both offended by the word "retard" and a zealous supporter of free speech

I don't usually give much power to words; at least not as much as other people can. There aren't very many words, in fact, that I will take offense to. It used to be that "retard" (I prefer to just say it, as opposed to "The R Word") didn't bother me at all; my theory was that what was important wasn't the word itself, it was the intent behind it. Was it just a joke? I can understand jokes, even ones in bad taste. Is it just a word, it doesn't mean that much? I understand that, I think we give too much power to simple words. After all, like they say on the internets, you don't call retarded people retards, you call your friends retards when they're acting retarded. So it shouldn't even be offensive. Honestly? I used to be able to understand and agree with that. I've even blogged about it.

Like I say in my title, I am a zealous supporter of free speech. I believe in speaking the truth at all times. I believe in censoring absolutely nothing. I believe that we give too much power to words, and that oftentimes they will become the ignition source of an argument that actually has nothing to do with the word itself; semantics, I would say.

But then Child 1 had his first brush with being bullied, and immediately the word took on a new meaning for me. Overnight it went from an innocent word with no real power, to the symbol of all the bullying that he might, and probably will, face at the hands of other people. When I hear, or read, that word now, I don't try to analyze the intent behind it, I think about my sweet child and how he will be the recipient of that word. It may be as a joke, it may be as an outright insult, I don't know. Whatever it is, though, it will be used against him. Do you watch Breaking Bad? I always think of this scene. No, they don't use the word retard in this scene, but this is how I picture the people who would use that word against my kid.

Hypocritical, you say? Perhaps. These two schools of thought don't necessarily go together, which is why I often have a difficult time talking about it. In fact, I used to see the word go by a lot in my twitter timeline, and instead of saying something every time I saw it, I decided to add a tweet deck filter so that I wouldn't ever see it. That filter, ironically, will make it so that I will not see any of my own tweets about this posts or any of your retweets. But I felt it was the only acceptable option for me, because I always want to say something, but then I feel like a hypocrite for it. So I just filter it out.

People will want to tell me now that when you try to get a word banned you go down a slippery slope which can ultimately erode the first amendment, and I don't disagree with that. I am not saying "please stop saying it," I am saying "I am offended by it, and here's why." I'm not telling anybody what to do or what to say, I'm telling you that it offends me and I'm telling you why. I am not asking anybody to change; I am asking you to think. If, after reading this, you will still go about your life calling your friends retards, well, that's your choice, of course. But you're an asshole for it.

And that's the thing about what they call "politically correct speech." In my opinion, it's not about one group of people trying to rule over another one, it's just about not being an asshole. It's about being respectful to other people and their feelings, even if you disagree with them. If you know somebody is offended and upset by your use of a word, and you still do it? You're an asshole; and I want nothing to do with you.

Am I being oversensitive? Probably. After all, this is all about emotion for me. The word has power over me because my son is autistic, so, sure: I'm oversensitive. I'll accept that. What's that you say? I shouldn't be so sensitive? Yeah, you're probably right about that; I probably shouldn't be so sensitive. And yet.... here we are.

And you're still going to say it? And then defend yourself because it's your first amendment right? Cool. Go for it. I support your first amendment rights. But you're still an asshole. And I still want nothing to do with you.

Watch that video up there and pretend you were one of those parents. Pretend you are that boy. How would you feel?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I'm going to BlogHer 14

For those of you who don't know, BlogHer is an annual conference for Bloggers. This year it is in San Jose, CA, July 24th through July 26th. You can read about it more here.

I'm going this year because it's only an hour south of me so I don't have to pay for travel, which is convenient; I understand that folks live all over the world and that's not as convenient for everybody else, though.

I'm curious to know if people would say the kind of thing that they would type into a Facebook comment when they're actually looking their foe in the face. So let's get together! If you're going, or thinking about going, and you're one of those people who thinks I'm the Devil Incarnate, or even just somebody who only slightly dislikes me but doesn't really care all that much, I will personally buy all the drinks for anybody who is willing to sit down in front of me and have a conversation.  Let's see what happens when we're face to face.

Tuesday, February 11, 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?)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

For Avonte

Avonte, I am so sorry that this happened to you.

I am so sorry that the people who were supposed to keep you safe did not do their job.

I am so sorry that you died because of their failure.

I am so sorry that you weren't protected.

I am so sorry for the unspeakable grief your family is feeling.

I am so sorry that our society doesn't care enough to make a commitment to you.

I am so sorry that the people who are supposed to speak for you failed to keep you safe.

I am so sorry that our failure lead to your death.

My heart has been shattered into a million pieces because you got lost and died.

I am so sorry.

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.


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.