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Posts Tagged ‘Girlfriends’

Will is on the couch fidgeting in his peripheral vision with a piece of frayed green yarn, artfully and very deliberately coated in masking tape by my hands under Will’s nonverbal instructions. Julia is watching Madagascar 3 for the thousandth time, and Marty, my soon-to-be-ex-husband and the kids’ loving dad, is in the kitchen blessedly making coffee. And me? I am at my desk, thinking about the article that ran about my little family in this morning’s Independent Florida Alligator.

Will was around 3 in this picture, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.

The reporter, Colleen Wright, a UF sophomore, showed up last week at my garage sale, having heard that my goal was to raise money so I can move to California where, while I don’t expect to arrive into some kind of Oz filled with free speech therapy centers on every corner, there are most definitely a lot more options and available, affordable, accessible services for a child like my son, Will, who, at 7 and a half, is nonverbal (we always say “preverbal,” because we remain hopeful) and has autism, OCD, sensory integration dysfunction, and a host of chronic health challenges. Wright questioned me for an hour that morning, respectful and inquisitive, but clearly with no background in autism.  (more…)

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The first time I intentionally told a complete and total lie, I was four. My sister and I were playing in our brown-shag-carpeted family room in upstate New York, and we decided it would be a really, really good idea to play with the broom, which probably wasn’t the worst idea except that we were playing right near our mom’s Tiffany-style glass lampshade. Long story short, the incident ended with my mom running into the room and scanning the scene: broken lamp, shattered glass in the shag, a clammed up six-year-old, and one petrified four-year-old holding a broom twice her height behind her back. No blood at least, but still, not exactly what a mom wants to see.

To my mom’s credit, when we pointed our fingers at one another, claimed complete innocence, and disavowed any knowledge of either the lamp (which we’d just blamed one another for breaking) or the broom (which I was still holding), she didn’t laugh or scream, both of which would have been appropriate, even simultaneously. No, my mom was quiet at that moment, and that scared the daylights out of me. We knew that she knew. And she knew that we knew. And that guilt was enough to keep me from lying again for a long, long time.

These days, though, I seem to lie a lot, mostly by omission, and primarily because most people don’t really want to hear the honest answers to their daily questions. Autism doesn’t make for polite conversation. Plus, some days I’m so seriously jealous of these women and their normal lives and typical kids that I kind of hate them a little for complaining about the things I would give my left arm for.

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Several years ago, I was rather appalled to learn that my girlfriend, Nicole, hated to read. Granted, she’s a civil engineer by trade. A linear thinker. A planner. A fact-loving, solution-needing, draw-a-rectangle-around-the-answer, math-excelling kind of woman. She’s the girl who hated me in high school for interrupting Advanced Algebra class to ask, “When will we use this in real life?” I need to analyze. She needs to know.

So while she was nursing her second baby and spending those self-imposed long pauses in her day with nothing to occupy her mind (daytime tv does NOT count as mind-occupying), I handed her the Harry Potter series. After Harry Potter, she asked for more, so I sent her off to meet Mr. DaVinci and his special code. After that, it was the Twilight books, which she proudly admitted to being so enthralled with that she read paragraphs at stop lights on the way to her kids’ soccer practice, just waiting, waiting, waiting for those two fictional lovebirds to finally just do it already.

This year, it was the Hunger Games series, and most recently, I introduced her to my pal, Miss Sookie Stackhouse. Until we meet her in the first book of her as-yet-unfinished series (which HBO has turned into the equally delicious “True Blood” series), Sookie has lived a rather sheltered life. She lives, as Nicole often says of herself, “in the box.” She’s naïve and unworldly. But we like her, because unlike Bella Swan, the heroine of the Twilight novels, Sookie not only has a sex life but, if you ask me, she’s actually a bit of a slut. Which, come on, makes for better reading, let’s just say it. Sookie lives in the box, true, but she’s also kind of a badass. I like her. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up how I feel about Nicole. Yeah, she likes living in the box, but she’s one ass-kicking chick when push comes to shove, and I dig that about her.

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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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