Tag: Max

Every Swear Word Bursting From My Heart With Love

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Here he is with the bacon wrapped chicken skewers he and his dad made together. He doesn’t let me take a lot of pictures of him lately but I think he was a little proud of these.

There’s a revolution going on in this house called: TEENAGER. It’s pretty fucking epic and wonderful. I have no idea what awful hormonal dark magic things might possibly be waiting for us around the bend and I’m not going sit around worrying about it. Not right now. Not today. Maybe not tomorrow.* Max decided to cut his hair a couple of weeks ago, grew another half inch, and today he prepared some bacon-wrapped chicken kabobs with his dad for the grill and participated in his first BBQ. I made vegetable kabobs with a satay sauce and he tried summer squash and red pepper dipped in the sauce. He didn’t like the squash but kind of liked the red pepper.

But I didn’t even ask him to try them. He wanted to try the motherfucking*** vegetables of his own volition.

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I’m not a very sentimental mom in general. I’ve never been blind to my son’s challenges and how it impacts other people and his own development. He was most honestly and truly a special needs kid. And I think we still may experience some tough shifts as he matures. But I’ve also never withheld honest pride or failed to celebrate the small steps that have brought him from a self harming and socially difficult place to the person he is becoming.

Tonight he sat with us at the table (with dirty dishes of things he didn’t eat!) and ate with us and then he sat and chatted for a little while without imposing his own topic on the whole group – much. At least – not in that vice-grip way he has of bulldozing any conversation he doesn’t find completely engaging he has had for ages. He listened a little bit. We count these things because they matter.

HE MOTHERFUCKING SAT AT A TABLE EATING WITH HIS FUCKING FAMILY TONIGHT AND THE LAST TIME HE DID THAT WAS 8 MONTHS AGO AND THE TIME BEFORE THAT WAS 2 YEARS PAST. BECAUSE HE DOESN’T EAT FOOD AT A TABLE UNLESS WE MAKE HIM AND WE DIDN’T MOTHERFUCKING MAKE HIM SIT WITH US TONIGHT.

Today was horribly and uncomfortably hot for me but the evening was filled with close friends, my mom, and my son all gathering around a table and eating good food and feeling connected and cared for and enjoying each others’ company.

I know what happens when I notice that my life is perfect – it falls spectacularly apart. So it’s a good thing I’m struggling so hard with my writing and carving out a career as a novelist for myself. If I’m not struggling, the universe is plotting how it can trip me with a thread so I fall in the alligator-infested swamp with a bunch of motherfucking apathetic canoeing slow-eyed masochists the chance to beat me down with their oars.

There are a thousand things that can go wrong right now. Two minutes from now. I’ve become so superstitious between experience and mental illness that I’m ridiculously cautious about saying:

I’m happy. Right now. This minute. Perfect. Tonight was perfect.

Go ahead and find out how digestible those alligators find my foul mouth. My gristle is ready for those toothy clowns.

 

*That’s right motherfucker! This middle aged anxiety disorder has got her disorder by the throat!**

**Just kidding, anxiety, no need to give me a heart attack tomorrow morning.

***All these “motherfucker”s are of a joyous nature but so emphatic that no other expression will do. I think most of you who have been following the Max adventures long enough will forgive for all the bombs tonight. ?

IEP: Four Years of Being a Pain in the Ass Pays Off

martini shaker

Max’s new toy is a martini shaker.  He likes to mix sodas and has moved on to fancy juice mixes.  Yesterday he made me a cherry vanilla juice drink and then a cherry lime with two drops of vodka for me.

He also ate two small cheese sandwiches on toasted sourdough bread with butter and mustard.  Normally I would never put butter on a cheese sandwich but he insisted I make him buttered toast and then turn it into a sandwich.  This kid has not liked cheese since he was small kid.  There was a very brief romance with Baby Bel cheeses and not long ago he tried a thin slice of cheese on a veggie burger and didn’t like it.  Otherwise the texture of cheese has been deemed unacceptable to him for years.  Cheese crackers are a different story.  The Oatmeal writes about cheese and cheese making and suddenly he wants to try some cheddar or Swiss cheese.  He ate a small piece of cheddar and liked it.  This is one of those times when social and media influence is pretty great.  Now he wants to try the elderflower cheese we’ve been raving about that Philip discovered at Trader Joe’s.  He wants to try sharp cheddar too.

His expanding tastes are both wonderful and baffling.  He is still finding it difficult to stick with flavors and new foods but his continuing exploration is absolutely the best thing an extreme picky eater can do.  He’s finding enough new flavors he likes to convince him that there’s a lot of potential for enjoyment in the food world that he was previously not open to.

But the biggest news is that he finally got an official IEP!  It only took four years of badgering the school system in Oregon and continuing down here in California to make this happen.  As could be expected, Max didn’t qualify for any major well defined learning disorder or meet any of the markers for autism that the school uses.  The speech and language specialist did say that he definitely shows some autistic qualities – but falls in a grey area.  He will get help with pragmatic language use and social interaction because she found that he doesn’t register subtle social cues at all.  Academically Max is predominantly in the Superior range with his math skills falling in a couple of different ranges which revealed (as explained to me) that he understands high math concepts but when it comes to the basic concepts he has difficulty which is explained by the main thing the evaluations revealed.

Max has a significant visual processing deficit which especially affects his math skills.

Some of the information revealed wasn’t that surprising and others were.  The visual processing deficit explains things that I wasn’t even looking to have explained but the fact that Max has such difficulty with drawing assignments – and it isn’t that he can’t draw because he most certainly CAN – it’s that it’s harder for him and takes him longer than average and he gets frustrated and overwhelmed and gives up.  He found a great drawing expression in stick figures and is quite good at making very expressive stick figure animations and comic strips and I get why now.  Last year he drew a fleshed out hand for a poster project and he hadn’t tried drawing three dimensional for ages and suddenly he whips out this really well drawn hand – so he can do it but he avoids drawing quite emphatically most of the time.

This also explains his strong aversion to writing assignments, an area also affected by a low visual processing time.  Writing assignments make him anxious and he loathes having to erase even a single word an rewrite it because, in his mind, every word he writes TAKES SO MUCH TIME AND EFFORT AND HAVING TO DO EVEN ONE WORD OVER IS LIKE ASKING HIM TO SKIN HIS OWN FINGER.

The math thing is weird because in fourth grade he was put in advanced math because the teacher said he was bored with the regular math curriculum in class and knew the material really well.  He has also tested between average and above average on nearly all his state math tests.  In sixth grade the math teacher thought him gifted in math and if you remember – tried to make him learn programming.  Which Max HATED.  He said he hated starting with that awful blank screen and then filling it with those 0’s and 1’s.  Which maybe makes sense now if his visual processing speed is significantly low.  Programming might be a certain kind of hell for someone with that issue.  In any case – the math deficiency surprised me but then it made sense.  Max has always disliked math even though his teachers have all thought him on the gifted side with it.

After coming home I wondered if it was necessary to continue having Kaiser evaluate him, now that he has an IEP.  That’s been my driving aim – to get him some extra support in school.  I’m waiting for one of his teachers to fill out an evaluation form to give to his psychologist so that we can move on to the next step.  It’s understood by me that Max, obviously being so high functioning, very likely may not end up being diagnosed with anything.  As the psychologist says, we may just have to conclude that he’s an “odd duck”.  So do I use up Kaiser resources to have him evaluated?  What can be gained by any diagnosis if they did find he met their diagnostic markers?

I was on the verge of calling it off but I’ve decided to go ahead with it and here is why: the school’s evaluation uncovered an issue that has significantly been affecting Max’s academic experience even if it hasn’t resulted in academic failure.  This is something no one suspected or suggested before and now that we know what is going on – it can be addressed and knowing where he’s got issues can help him succeed.  As a parent I can help him better too – in coaching him through homework I can explain to him why he is struggling and why math makes him so anxious and why written assignments not only take him so damn long but stress him out so completely.

The school tests are all geared toward revealing academic shortfalls and challenges.  But a psychological/neurological evaluation covers a person’s whole orientation to the world.  Maybe Max will be found to not have any specific disorder.  But what if evaluating him can show us areas of significant challenge that could then be specifically addressed?  My main problem is knowing how to help Max in his life.  Socially he is not normal and I have major concerns about how healthy his social life can be if some of his issues are not addressed.  The value in seeing if he fits into an established set of behaviors that has a name is that if he does – I can more easily discover what has a tendency to work well for others with the same set of behaviors and also seek support for him with those peers.

If he doesn’t really fit into any specific group – the evaluation still may uncover some specific areas of difficulty and give me something more concrete to grab onto when trying to navigate his social and emotional well-being.  A job that has sucked a lot of years off my life so far.  Well, that, and feeding him.  At least feeding him is finally becoming more of an adventure than a constant punishment in which I don’t succeed at nourishing my child healthily.

This information seeking mission is not complete until he has been evaluated by the psychologist and then, if it’s warranted, the Kaiser specialists.  I need to see this completely through.

In spite of not being done yet – I am so happy to have finally succeeded in getting Max an IEP and knowing specifically where his challenges are and the school is now on board and coming up with ideas to best meet Max’s need.  I appreciated that all of the people in the meeting unanimously agreed that taking Max out of drama class to attend a special ed class was not acceptable as he loves drama so much.  I also love that they all agreed that it would be a bad idea to rearrange his schedule forcing him to change his science teacher because apparently they all know that Max LOVES his science teacher and to mess with such a good arrangement wouldn’t benefit him since Max’s greatest areas of interest and his greatest gifts are with science and the language arts.

Lastly – I did not push for all this evaluating so I could hear my child be praised.  Some of what I just read in his report causes me concern and makes my heart a little heavy – yet every person who evaluated Max loves him.  They all think he’s super smart, funny, and charming.  And the speech and language specialist loved that Max told her what great parents he has (she included it in his report) and the school psychologist said she was so impressed in her first meeting with Max in which he talked incredibly lovingly of his cats.  His current English/History teacher said that Max is one of the best students he’s ever had.

Also – she said he has the vocabulary of a 28 year old.  But we already knew that.

When you’ve spent so much time worried about your kid and had so many challenges coaching him and propping him up and having your heart break when the world doesn’t get him or doesn’t like him – hearing these things is deeply gratifying.

The Weirdness of Mini-Golf

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Way back in July we took Max mini-golfing.  I think golf is stupid, generally.  I don’t understand why golf is so much more beloved than ping pong.  However, Max loves mini-golf and after Tara and Philip took Max on an unsuccessful ice-skating outing I really wanted us to have a fun family day in which Max would have to get dressed and leave the house.

preparing for shot

My hand was freshly cut open at that time so I couldn’t be swinging sticks around at balls.  But I wanted to be with everyone.  Mini-golf is so silly that I actually see the fun in it.  Obviously it was a glaringly bright day out and pretty much burnt holes in my retinas.  And I couldn’t find my sunscreen.  But we all had fun anyway!

Max swinging clubs

I’m remembering this time fondly because it was at the beginning of my job hunt.  Back when I was all fresh faced and confident instead of bedraggled and bitter and having nightmares during which my brother’s eyes start bleeding and I’m killing people and missing my math class for a whole semester and then suddenly have to take a test.  In last night’s gem I had to dress up in some stupid princessy dress and recite some math presentation to a teacher for a year end project and I was so depressed and angry that I had to do it that I tore my dress half off and ended up going to the bathroom and pooping in front of the whole school because bathrooms in my dreams almost never have doors on them.  Meanwhile it turns out that I was part of a team of very important people who catch something-or-other and one of our members got trapped by a very creepy guy with an enormous lower lip and a torn up face and he starts killing her.  I replay the scene in my dream because I am so upset that it happened and thought I could stop it if I could start over.  I couldn’t.

mini golfing with Mand T

The job hunt has turned up nothing so far.  I’m not actually feeling bitter.  I’m not even feeling panicky.  I’m working on some ideas for reopening my Etsy shop.  Not a whole lot of sewing is planned so much as some mini-books and cards and some market bags with words and sloguns on them.  I’m working out how to get some things made for a minimum of investment.  What can I say?  It’s a new day around here!

If Photojojo calls me after carefully considering my cover letter and resume finally realizing that I’m the asset they’ve been looking for?  I will JUMP at that chance!  But since they haven’t called yet, I need to be doing something with my time that isn’t looking at job listings and carefully fashioning cover letters.

The mortgage is paid at the moment and all other bills are up to date.  So I still have a little time.  Time to make something cool.  I hope you’ll all shop like MAD when I do load my shop up with fun stuff!

wrong colored water

Back to the mini-golf course.  This water is what fascinated me the most.  There may be places where water is naturally this blue and aqua but it sure aint natural in Rohnert Park.  What kind of chemical coloring did they add to it?  I kept imagining falling into it and getting skin lesions on contact.  I was sure it had a magnetic force pulling me closer and closer to its edge.  Would ducks get cancer if they frolicked here regularly?  There’s nothing quite like toxic water at family fun centers.  Oh snap!  That’s me sucking all the fun out of the world.

I miss when my sister was living here with us.  I miss having a source of income.  I miss writing fiction.

But I can’t sit around missing people and situations all the time.  I have stuff to write, things to make, people to prove wrong!

One thing I can say I do very consistently is GET BACK UP EVERY SINGLE TIME I FALL DOWN.  You can kick the hell out of me but I will get up with my bruises and though full of hot curse words – I will face the world and your feet with fresh determination.

I value that about myself.  I encourage that in others.

Complaining and feeling sorry for one’s self is an important part of the process of moving forward and letting go.  You can’t let go of things unless you acknowledge they exist and that they suck.

If I had a religion it would be Balance.

I love complaining and I need to indulge in a little self pity once in a while like all human beings but it means that I also have to move on, get up, walk away, look ahead, see the good, express my thankfulness, and refuel my optimism and hope.

July feels like a long time ago.

I have 2,250 ml of 153% plum booze in my kitchen.  I think I’m ready for August now!

Parenting: Keep the Shovel Close at Hand

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I’ve been filling out questionnaires for Max’s school testing that will commence next month.  Questionaires about his behaviors, his medical history, his social interactions, and his health.  It brings up such strange feelings.  My purpose never changes.  I knew the first time he said he would stab himself to death when he was a toddler that I was going to be filling paperwork out and fighting for his well-being and begging others to see what I see and help me help him.

But being firm of purpose doesn’t mean you don’t experience a full range of emotions while doing what you need to do for your kid.  Evaluating your kid, trying to be as completely honest and as objective as possible even though you can never be objective about your own child – it’s a strange banquet of memories you trawl and sift.  It’s a test of your own ability to separate your child from your skin, from your heart, enough to give solid information.

I think the most surreal thing to me is to be evaluating his social interactions and to know that he sees them so differently.  He was Skyping with one of his oldest and few friends the other day and I heard his friend’s friend say “I don’t much like this Max guy” and then they hung up on Max.  I asked Max if he was hurt by that.  He says “What?”  I said “That kid just said he doesn’t like you.  Did that hurt your feelings?”  He says “No.  Why should it?”

That’s everything in a nutshell.  Max doesn’t  care if people don’t like him.  He doesn’t care if they’re rude to him if he perceives that they’re just being honest.  Because that’s how he is himself.  He doesn’t understand why people get ruffled by the things he says or why people get hurt when he’s honest.  But Max loves having friends.  He just doesn’t keep them very easily.  The few he keeps tolerate his seemingly abrasive political and social rants and his blatantly unfiltered thoughts and opinions without much offense.  It takes a special kind of person to love Max in spite of his obsessive interests and narrow topics of conversation.

I was hurt.  Hearing that kid say he didn’t much like my son was bitter and choking.  I know a lot of people feel that way about Max too who never say it out loud.  He doesn’t feel the slights but I feel them all.  Every single one.  He has so little idea of how much he exacerbates and annoys people.  He only notices and cares about the really loud ones and the people in positions of authority who don’t like him because it has a strong impact on his comfort.

So I can’t be objective.  I know it’s unrealistic to expect it of myself.  Still, I need his issues to be taken seriously and so I have to take my role as observer seriously too.  I have to continue to hone my skill of separating the chaff of my motherly emotions from cool observation that might actually get him the help he needs.

The hardest things to evaluate are things like “Acts strangely” – how the hell can parents as strange as Philip and I judge what is strange or not strange behavior?  We’re the WEIRDSLEYS personified!  I was a goddamned suicidal teen!  Philip was an introverted artist and definite odd-ball.  We couldn’t have married each other otherwise.

This week Max and I have talked a lot about sex and sex-ed as presented in school.  He has many complaints to report.  He says the school talked more about the virtues of abstinence than they did about protection.  He also really hates that some kids his age snicker at the word “penis” and “vagina”.  I’m so happy he’s bringing these topics up.  I’m so happy we’re having the opportunity to discuss birth control and sexuality and what real “virtue” is.

Here’s my distilled stance on sexuality in a nutshell as discussed with my 12 1/2 year old:

  • Abstinence is not stupid if you aren’t ready to have sex and/or you feel it’s important to wait and certainly is a valid form of birth control, IF you can really BE abstinent.
  • There is no greater virtue to abstinence than there is to having careful and protected sex.
  • Sexuality isn’t a contest of virtue, it’s a natural human urge and action and there is no shame in being a sexual being.

It is irrelevant how many sexual partners you have or don’t have.  The most important thing is this:

  • Honesty.  Be honest in all your sexual relationships.  Be honest about what you want, what you’re about, whether you’re just wanting sex or you’re open to more.  Don’t cheat on a partner.  Don’t make promises you can’t deliver.
  • Safety.  Unless you are in a long-term serious relationship – always protect yourself with a condom.  STD’s are real.  Some are just uncomfortable nuisances while others can kill you.  Unwanted pregnancies present young people with impossible choices no matter what your politics are.  Always take precautions.
  • Consensual actions.  Never ever force another person to do things they’re uncomfortable with doing no matter how much you want them to do those things.  When someone says “no”, even after having said “yes”, it’s time to STOP.  Likewise – never let anyone pressure or force you to do anything intimate you aren’t completely comfortable with.  You always have the power to say “no”.
  • I am always here to talk to and I will not judge, I will only try to help and protect and heal my child/teen/adult.

We have discussed so much this week.  I used to dread the time we would have to have these talks.  Now that the time has truly arrived I feel up to the task.  We have fleetingly discussed masturbation (how it’s healthy and normal which he already knew) and how even if you believe in a woman’s freedom to have an abortion it is still, for most women, a dreadful and emotional choice to have to make, and the difference between a healthy libido and a slut.

We discussed how “slut” is a pretty charged and judgmental word to use.

We discussed how it’s okay to have a strong libido if you:

  • Protect yourself.
  • Respect yourself.
  • Respect your partners.
  • Remain honest at all times.

We discussed douchebaggery.

There’s not a lot more I can do and yet there’s so much ahead of us.  I’m haunted by my need to protect him and to simultaneously set him free.

I know what I know in my gut.  My gut has yet to steer me wrong.

Stay the course, keep the shovel close at hand.

Some Things I Love About Max

Some things I love about Max:

  • His enthusiastic pantomimes expressing how delicious the food on his plate looks when he knows I’m stressing about his eating and he just wants me to feel better.
  • His love of going out to restaurants and cafes.  He’s a routine guy like Philip and I are.  But he goes on these jags where he wants to try a new place and there are two criteria for whether or not a place succeeds or fails.  1) The presence (or absence) of Grape Italian soda on the menu 2) How good are the fries?
  • He’s a connoisseur of root beer.
  • That he loves fancy glassware with an emphasis on stemware.  He’s been wanting a martini glass because he thinks they’re cool.  I got him one.  Now he drinks his soda in his martini glass.
  • He thinks I’m pretty and not fat.
  • He thinks of The Walking Dead as “our thing”.  (He lets his dad watch with us out of kindness – but since we watched the whole first season just the two of us during our last week in Oregon when it was just him and me – he thinks it’s our special thing.)
  • He wants to be a consultant for the zombie apocalypse section of the Post Apocalyptic Kitchen project I’m working on with my friend Emma.
  • That he said this after our horrible doctor’s appointment last week “I’m a picky eater.  I’m not proud of it, it’s just a fact.”
  • He’s an avid reader.  He mostly reads humorous nonfiction (The Zombie Survival Guide, for example) and graphic novels like Bone and Usagi Yojimbo.  I don’t care what he reads as long as it isn’t porn.  He loves reading and it makes me really happy.
  • How he gets in a mood to hang out alone with Grandma or with me or with his dad.  How he likes to have alone time with the individuals he loves.
  • His parting comment the other morning on his way to school “You wanna know what would be really gross?” (me “always!”) “Vaseline toast”
  • His strong sense of self.  No one tells Max who he is, he tells them.
  • That he engages his Xbox online friends in debates about abortion, religion, politics, and the questionable (to him) ethics of eating meat.
  • That he thinks animals are equal to humans in worth and deserve to be treated that way.  (Yes, I think my influence can be spotted here)
  • That when he builds women characters in his video games he makes them regular sized people with pretty much regular sized boobs.*  (In character creation you can make bodies super skinny or fat and you can make boobs any size you want too.)
  • That he had the guts to tell the girl he liked last year that he liked her.
  • His curiosity.  He wants to dig under the surface of things.  His questions are interesting and make me want to be able to answer them.  This morning’s question is “Why does stevia have an after taste but regular sugar doesn’t?” (He’s eating a new protein bar that is partly sweetened with stevia to keep the sugar content down.  He likes the bar but has to drink something afterwards to wash the after taste out.)  I happened to have a jar of stevia that we grew and dried and my mom crushed into semi-powder.  We smelled it and noticed it leaves a sweet taste in your mouth when you breath it in.  Max had theories.
  • Max always has theories.

No matter what challenges he faces (and us with him) he’s an awesome kid and I love him.

*There is nothing wrong with big boobs but it’s such a stereotype that the women characters in video games have enormous breasts.  It just pleases me that Max is going against the stereotype.  You can also clothe them in next to nothing if you want, he also doesn’t do this.

The kid turns 11, virgins in books, and stormy weather.

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as sitting at my desk writing during a wailing pounding rain storm with a purring cat in my lap.  I’m almost not even worrying about the enthusiastic leak in the living room window caused by over 10 hours of rain pummeling all the south facing windows in the house.

Max turned 11 years old on Monday.  I’m not going to wax nostalgic at his disappearing little kid years cause, as most of you know, I enjoy seeing him grow older and don’t miss stages we’ve passed.  I’m enjoying my kid in the present and trying to stay there.  I try not to project into the future either because I find it unproductive.  I’m very zen about parenting at least five minutes a day.

Max requested that I make sure he doesn’t grow up to be a serial killer.  So we had a discussion about why I already know he isn’t going to be a serial killer.  It’s funny because back before I was staying in the present with my kid I used to worry about that exact same thing.  Raising a boy really scared me.  I’m still kind of scared of messing him up, obviously, but I work much harder not to focus on it.

He had a checkup last Friday and he’s doing well.  His medication is still working, his vitals are all good, and we’re not to worry about his weight gain because he’s “at that age” where boys apparently experience a lot of physical changes.  In other words the doctor was warning me that he’s about to hit THE HORMONAL STAGE.  Damn.  For his birthday he had his two best buddies for a sleepover (something I never let him do because it makes me hate all children to have three young boys in my house for more than 2 hours at a time, he’s usually only allowed one friend at a time for a sleepover) – anyway – I noticed one of his friends had B.O.  He’s 11 years old and his sweat is stinking!  Max’s still hasn’t started to smell “manly” but I get it – it’s what’s coming.

I’m reading a book right now that has made me realize that if a make-out session lasts more than one page I find it incredibly tedious.  I already knew I didn’t care for all the details of a character’s sexual encounters to be painted out for me, but I was reminded of this fact last night.  I will not read this author again because she has used the word “throbbing” in her sex scenes.  So now I just want to get the book over with.  If there’s another 3 page description of the “innocent” but eager virgin getting taught the glories and delights of being almost deflowered (manually, if you catch my drift) this indicates that I’m going to be treated to the ACTUAL deflowering event (oh joy) and I may just abandon the book.   I want to know what happens and until the word “swelling” was used to describe the state of the hero’s trousers the writing wasn’t bad and the story was interesting.   Bummer.  I’m branching out and trying new authors and new books.  I’m bound to find myself disappointed plenty.

-The Next Day-

My sister suggested I skip pages in books to avoid the shit I don’t want to read.  Brilliant-it has never occurred to me that I can do this.  I will try it.  Even so, I prefer not to read authors who write in a manner I find distasteful so I will not read more of this one.  At least I can finish this book without being further assaulted by the adventures of virginal nipples.

On our way to Portland we (my mom, sister, and I) engaged in a book discussion which was really interesting.  I have realized for some time that I work very hard to protect myself from the kinds of stories that make me angry or that go on to live uncomfortably in my head.  I used to read everything.  Everything.  Just trying new authors at this point is going out on a limb for me.  I have mixed feelings about this.  It makes me feel weak and stupid to only read books that I know will be enjoyable without depressing me or riling me up.  Like back when I chose to not watch the news anymore.  I did it for my mental health but it still made me feel stupid that I would have nightmares about the news all the time and be sunk ever-deeper into my already established state of depression and anxiety.

There is another side to choosing the limitations I do on my reading: ever since starting to write “The Winter Room” I have felt it is important not to allow much influence of other words in my head.  I’ve been re-reading all my favorites over and over because they are known and will introduce nothing to my psyche that wasn’t already there for a long time.  I feel it’s more important to keep my moods neutral as I read, keeping my reading enjoyable rather than life-changing.  That’s truly only a minor issue to me but still, it’s there.

I’m off to Portland again today.  I’m going with my sister, Max, Philip, and we’re meeting my brother there.  Max hasn’t seen his uncle in about five years.  We’re going to Powell’s books and then to the Kennedy School for lunch.  It’s still raining but not storming like it was yesterday.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Army Shootout: My 10 Year Old’s Animation

Come watch this animation at Mrgamesecrets
Come watch this animation at Mrgamesecrets

Philip finally figured out how to get Max’s stick figure animations onto youtube so he put the first one up on Max’s youtube channel (Mrgamesecrets).  Max may change his channel soon but would you all please go and watch this and subscribe to him so you can leave him comments?  It would mean a lot to him if you did.

Just click on the picture and it will take you there.

He made this.  I can’t make this.  Can you make this?  I think it’s very cool.  He still says he wants to be a game designer.  I think if he can do this at ten, he is on his way.

 

Meet Pete

Pete is a Yellow Racer garter snake.  A friend of ours who is very knowledgeable about snakes came over to help teach us how to take care of Pete and brought us a big snake tank he didn’t need.  He spent a lot of time handling Pete and ended up telling us far more than we could have hoped about the baby snake.  He’s about one year old.  He hadn’t eaten, most likely, since before the new year.  He had puncture wounds on him most likely from a small rodent.  If Max hadn’t have brought him home, out of the wild, he would probably die.

We have him in a small terrarium for the moment.  Robert and Shanta (our friends who keep snakes and are our snake advisers) said to leave him in the small terrarium until he’s eaten.  He finally did eat a tadpole.  You could have heard my shouts and screams of joy from a mile away.  Snakes are not frequent eaters (once a week generally, or in the wild, whenever they can catch a meal) but six months of no food is not good for any snake.  Because I’m a phenomenally anxious person I have kept Pete in the smaller terrarium for longer because I want him to eat TWO meals before getting used to a brand new environment (which may cause him to refrain from eating again until he’s adjusted- hey- snakes sound just like me!) (Except for the whole eating dealio.  I tend to eat at least two times a day.  Sometimes more.  And I don’t eat tadpoles as a general rule.)

Garter snakes ARE venomous but their venom doesn’t happen to be toxic to humans.  Their teeth are like a ridge of cartilage and don’t easily break human skin.  Pete did finally bite Max and he said it tickled.

It is the sweetest thing in the world to see how gentle Max is with Pete and how much he enjoys him.  Most nights he brings Pete out just before bed so we can all say good night to him.  I think it’s good for a young boy’s soul to watch over an animal of his own.