Archive for the ‘Non-Autism’ Category


A Preface

If you are under 18, please talk with a trusted adult before proceeding. This series addresses some adult topics with adult language. Thank you.

January 3. It starts.

I’m getting dressed, and there’s a … lump. Maybe a…a ridge. A… something. It’s something.

Is that a lump? What is that? If I’ve never had a lump, how am I supposed to identify a lump? How do I not know how to do this? Crap. Can I find the same thing on the other side? That seems like a reasonable thing to check. Ummm… No. Nothing else feels like that. Crap. It’s nothing. It’s nothing. It’s so totally nothing. I bet I can’t even find it again if I try. Crap. Yes, I can. That’s a lump. No. Yes. Damnit. Yes. That’s definitely a lump. It’s a lump. Well…well, fuck.



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By Tara Cohen

I talk about sex. I talk about politics. I talk about religion. I talk about race relations, health care, family dynamics, social networking, autism, aerobics, child birth, breast feeding, diaper rashes, potty training, and baby snot. I talk about vaccines and cloth diapers, computers and blogging, insurance and therapy. I have weight issues, food issues, and volume issues. I am tough to embarrass, easy to wind up, and hard to shut up. So when I start talking about colorectal surgery, it’s safe to say that the couple at the next table is officially done eating. Now.

And that’s exactly where I found myself earlier this week: two chocolate martinis into a girls’ night at a local restaurant, discussing the not-so-finer points of pregnancy-related hemorrhoids. Given the inverse relationship between my ability to keep my voice down and the number of drinks I’ve had, it’s safe to say that any teenager within 30 feet received the absolute best possible dose of reality-based contraceptives money can’t buy.

As the topic morphed from pregnancy and childbirth to family dynamics and in-laws, almost everyone had a story to share: In-laws who show up with no notice, adult siblings who ignore their own kids, manipulative mothers, parents who don’t make time for the grandkids. I was struck by the realization that there was a single common message all of these women wished they could get across to some family member or another: This is not about you. And this made me think of my father. Cue flashback…

I failed my Driver’s Permit test the first time. By one point. I reacted much as one would expect from any healthy, well-adjusted, typical 15-year-old girl: with utter devastation and certainty that no such injustice had befallen anyone, ever, in the history of humankind. I was crushed that I would have to wait yet another month before learning to drive, incredibly disappointed in myself for having failed, and mortified that all my friends knew I’d gone to the DMV and would be asking about it the next day at school. I went across the street to my boyfriend’s house to commiserate. He and his mom reassured me that I would eventually get my Permit, that this was a temporary setback, and that it happened to a lot of people. Though grateful for their love and support, I was, after all, a teenager. I had an inherent, hormonal need to mope. So I headed home and slumped upstairs to sulk, turning up Morrisey or The Smiths or whatever other maudlin mood de-hancer I could find in my mix-tape cassette collection.

Now, for me, time is both a magnifying glass and a fun-house mirror. While some events fall into sharper relief over the years, others are distorted, twisted, and bent to the will of memory, viewed through percolated bias. The majority of my life is documented in the cerebral equivalent a dollar-store paint-by-numbers book, narrated on a dubbed-over cassette tape. For the moments of greatest emotion and consequence, however, my grey matter has its own digital widescreen home theater on which to play its hi-def-and-surround-sound-mental-blu-rays.


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by Tara Cohen

My friend told me she does not like Facebook, and I started hyperventilating. Ok, maybe not truly hyperventilating, more like moderately over-ventilating, but still, I was worked up. I mean, how can anyone not like Facebook? Admittedly, I spend far too much time on Facebook. I realize I’m a Facebook junkie. A Facebook addict. A Facebook fiend. It’s seriously become a problem. The quietest guy I knew in all of my grade-school days Instant Messaged me asking if I worked for Facebook because I was on so much. So now I use the “offline” setting so people can’t see how often I’m there. Like I said: it’s a problem.

I’m on Facebook so much that I made it my browser’s home page. I cannot sit down at my computer without spending at least five minutes responding to wall posts and status updates, application suggestions and group invitations, game nudges and friend requests. I live on Planet Facebook.

So when my friend “Miranda” (who all but made me swear on my iMac not to use her real name) said she just isn’t crazy about Facebook, I had this flash of deja vu and found myself thinking of my mother-in-law.

I’ve been on my mother-in-law for ages to learn to use a computer. A few years ago, she went so far as to accept a hand-me-down from my niece, but all it did was sit in the corner and make her nervous. My husband Marty thought she was afraid if she hit the wrong key she might accidentally bomb China, and honestly, I don’t think he was far off. She called me for advice, and the conversation went something like this:

MiL: Tara, I just don’t know about this thing.
Me: Mom, we’re coming down in a week, and I’ll teach you how to use it.
MiL: Well, bring a new whatchamacallit for the AOL with you because the one I have is the wrong size.
Me: What?
MiL: It’s the wrong size. It’s not going to fit the computer.
Me: What??
MiL: The thing. The whoosie. The…the disc. It’s the AOL ninety nine, and the computer is an oh-two. It’s the wrong size.
Me: Wait…what???

We visited, and, what do you know, the disc was just the right size for the drive. I set up an AOL account, shut down the computer, and started from square one: Turn on the machine. As the desktop flickered into life, my mother-in-law looked skeptically at the various icons and said, “Ok. Now, which one is for the airplane reservations?” And so we started again:

Me: Mom, plane reservations are on websites, not actually on your computer.
MiL: What?
Me: Well, we start by accessing the internet using something called a browser.
MiL: What??
Me: If the computer is your house, then the browser is your car, and you drive the browser to the internet, which is the mall. That has websites, which are like stores.
MiL: Wait…what???

In fairness, my desire to have my mother-in-law use a computer is a little selfish. I’m comfortable with computers. I grew up with them, starting with my dad’s first home IBM, a monster of a machine, complete with the ability to turn the “green screen” to “amber” with just the flip of one glowing switch! (Hey, when your folks won’t buy you an Atari, you make do.) The upshot is that, after a lifetime of computer use, my internet connection goes down for an hour and I’m having heart palpitations. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, was born during the Hoover administration, uses a corded phone, and does not, to my knowledge, own a single CD. I realize we speak two different languages, but I still just can’t get past wanting to get her online.


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