The One Where I Learned What I Already Knew.

I have composed this post and recomposed it so many times. I do my best blogging in the shower. I’m brilliant, funny, clever. And then I sit down in front of the computer to write it out, and moths fly out of my ears. Don’t say voice-to-text. My next blog post would consist mostly of “Who took my tweezers? I put them RIGHT HERE! If you don’t like it when Mommy has whiskers, DON’T TAKE MY TWEEZERS!” and “Who flushed the toilet? I lost all the water pressure!”

This post is a bit of a departure from my normal doings. It’s less about humor or endangered species and more about real life. It’s about my smallest one, the child formerly known as Squish. He was horrified by this nickname and demanded that I change it at once. By his decree, he will henceforth be known as The Destroyer.

dp cucumbers help puffy eyes

One of my favorite goofballs

We’ve always known that the little critter marched to the beat of his own drummer. I love that about him. All of my kids are weird in their own wonderful ways. Weird is good. Weird suits me. I wouldn’t want to change one thing about them. This right here is one of my favorite stories. He’s kind of hilarious, and he views the world in his own special way.

I can’t say that the news was unexpected. We’ve seen it coming for a long time now. Since he was eighteen months old, we knew there was something different. Something a little… off. He was evaluated as a toddler for speech delay, but the delay wasn’t significant. Just something to keep an eye on. And I saw when he was in preschool that he tended to play alone. I talked to the teachers. Oh, no, he’s fine. He has LOTS of friends! The list of signs grew longer. Anxiety. Hand-biting. Running in place when he was overwhelmed. Tantrums that didn’t fade as he grew older. Panic attacks. Fears about weird things while daredeviling with stuff that could actually kill him. We suspected. We worked with teachers, worked together, trying to make a plan that would keep his development moving forward. His teachers have been phenomenal, always brainstorming about things that could help. We have been so, so fortunate.

We avoided having more evaluations done. We didn’t want to change our kid. We were so worried that a doctor would put the little guy on meds for ADHD. He is a busy little person, but we can work with busy. We did okay.

I am not even totally sure what caused us to pull the trigger on it and seek out additional evaluations. I think it was when the medication for his anxiety backfired and sent him into unexpected rages every evening. So we got a referral, we made some calls, and we waited. And after a grueling two-and-a-half hour appointment, we learned what we knew. The Destroyer is Autistic.

We knew it. We’ve been constantly developing work-arounds since he was a toddler. I’ve run the zoo’s camp for Autistic kids since we first offered it. I know Autistic kids, and I love them. In some ways, having my own kid’s autism confirmed is like being given a golden unicorn, a priceless gift. He sees the world in such an incredible way. But no one else ever saw him like I see him until we went to the specialist.

In other ways, the diagnosis was overwhelming. We left the office, and we didn’t talk a whole lot. It was Halloween, and we had a party to get to and lunch, and lots of fun things planned. But suddenly this little person was a stranger. After hours of picking him apart behavior by behavior, I had lost the gestalt of him. Suddenly I couldn’t reconcile the child in the backseat with the little boy I had yelled at that morning for throwing his football in the house. He was a stranger.

“He’s the same kid he was yesterday,” my brain told me. “And they said you’d done great with him.” And it was true. The therapist told us that we had been creating interventions all along that aided his development, and that if we hadn’t, he would be a much different kid, he would have more difficulties than he does. But her words didn’t help. We did the right thing. But which thing was that, exactly? Out of the blue, I no longer knew how to parent this child. I felt like I was walking on thin ice; one false step and I would break him. I did not see my son as my son, but instead a collection of neurodivergent behaviors. Yesterday the only thing on our schedule was church choir, and now we’re looking at Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and who knows what else. And I’m tired. We were doing okay before, right? Is all this stuff necessary? And how do I handle the time off work?

I’ve made a million phone calls. Some are answered, most are not. It’s hard to get an appointment with a specialist apparently. I’ve shifted things around, talked to the insurance company to see what’s covered, done all the grown-up things. I’ve ordered books and special Chewelry so he has something to gnaw on. I’ve gone through the steps without feeling them, checking off boxes one by one.

And then out of the blue, I *got* this kid. When our mornings are rocky, I realized, it is usually because I have not been clear in my instructions. He wants to do the right thing (mostly, he is 10 after all). He’s not trying to get on my nerves. It’s just that I haven’t made myself clear. Now I am rethinking the structure of our morning and the things that I say. And it’s easier. Because I *get* him now. I am learning to put myself in his shoes because he does not yet know how to put himself in mine. And the speech therapist will go to his school. When she told me that, I felt like a weight had been lifted. One less thing to schedule around. And we’re doing it.

I still have a lot to learn. I have to weigh the pros and cons of different therapies, and I have to learn all the lingo. There’s so much that I don’t know. But it’s pointless to expect that I’ll learn it all the first week. Or the first month. Or the first year. Baby steps. This month, we’re concentrating on National Novel Writing Month. He’s writing, I’m writing.  I’ll read a little on cognitive behavioral therapy and do a little research on games and things we can do at home. Baby steps. If he’s doing well know, imagine how much better he will do with additional therapy.

I still don’t want to change my kid. Autism isn’t a bad thing. It makes him who he is. He is funny and bright and driven and sweet. He doesn’t need to change. I do. I need to let go of my fears of the future and let the pieces fall into place. Adventure awaits around every corner, and I am so here for it.

He set up this shot. He has the most delicious sense of humor!

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Possum Living: My Frisky Bitz Bring All the Cats to the Yard

Normally Fridays are reserved for politics, but this week threatened to send me into a tailspin, so it’s Possum Living instead. My biggest and most challenging goal for 2018 is to go the entire year without buying anything I don’t need. When I am stressed, depressed, or anxious, I have a bad habit of either eating compulsively or spending too much, and I’m drawing the line. There are less destructive ways to cope. And I’ve found one.

First, let me tell you my successes.

  • I survived the State of the Union without feeling compelled to spend money or eat things that I shouldn’t. I was really proud of myself. I was anxious, tense, scared, stressed, but I didn’t make bad decisions.
  • I passed on a deal for a book that I wanted. It was a sweet deal, too, but I sent the email to the trash folder without blinking.
  • I made a trip to Lowe’s for work, and I walked right past the sick plant section, even though I could see they had two Norfolk Island Pines that needed rescuing. I didn’t even look at the price. That was my hardest challenge. Plants are a weakness.
  • I have become more comfortable with being a little hungry during the day. I haven’t panicked as if I would NEVER EAT AGAIN. You can laugh, but some part of my twisted brain thought/thinks it is true.
  • My muffin-top has shrunk a bit.
  • I signed up for a 1/2 marathon.

So let me introduce you to the thing that is filling in the blanks for me. Neko Atsume.

The premise is simple. You download the free app, and you get a yard, a food bowl, and some cheap cat food. The goal is to attract cats to your yard. There are a gajillion of them. After they leave your yard, they leave fish behind as a thank you. Some of the fish are silver, but some are gold, (what you’d normally pay money for). You use the fish to buy items in the store – everything from fancy food to new toys to try to lure rarer cats to the yard. I’ve played it for a week-and-a-half, and I love it. It’s adorable, it allows me to make some purchases in their little store, set goals, develop a strategy for meeting those goals. It’s SO MUCH FUN!

On Tuesday, instead of choking down cookies or surfing Amazon, I checked in on my cats. I rearranged the furniture. I made sure the kitties were fed. And I didn’t worry. Or stress.

Kittehz! This is the original yard. The cat with his back to me cracks me right up. Isn’t that just like a cat?

The cats filter in and out at will, and the most fun in the morning is checking in to see who dropped by during the night. Only 5 cats can occupy the space at a time, so it’s a good idea to maximize the area by purchasing the items that are likely to bring in the most gold fish. It only takes 180 gold fish to expand the yard to hold more cats to bring more fish to buy more yard to hold more cats… And so on it goes. It may seem silly or pointless, but it’s working for me.

Different kittehz, and see how the little black one wore itself out playing?

I saved, I strategized, I read all the online tips, and I expanded my yard. Was it all I had hoped, Oh, yeah!

This is the yard and the inside of the house. The fat white cat on the grass is Tubbs. Most people hate him. I haven’t seen him often enough to be anything but amused by his chubby countenance.

The kitty condo holds up to 5 cats, which brings the total of cats at one time to 13!

I am late to this game. Lots of people discovered it before I did, but better late than never. I don’t know why it works, or even for how long it will work, but I’m okay with it. I’ll take what I can get, and if it quits working, I’ll find something new. I’ll make it to good health and a happier bank account one day at a time, one kitteh at a time.

What ways have you found to help manage stress? Have your methods evolved over time?

The Introverted Activist: What’s On My Mind

If you dislike politics, Friday’s posts are where they happen. I try to have a specific day because not everyone likes to talk politics or agrees with mine, and that’s cool. There’s more to me than that. So if you’re here for the turtles and zoo stuff, feel free to skip Fridays. I’m just glad you’re here.

So we’re, like, three or four weeks into the new year, and already I’m exhausted by the mess we continue to make. Awesome. Last week was horrible, really. I’ve been through government shut downs before. My mom worked for the government her entire working life, and we’ve been there. We experienced the three weeks of furlough and wondering how the bills were going to get paid. I survived it. Shut downs don’t scare me anymore. They infuriate me, like during the Obama administration when we were going from one 3-month appropriations bill to another. Come on, Congress. Get thumb out of ear and get budget passed.

So last week I was more angry than scared. I was proud of Democrats for standing strong and supremely irritated when Schumer caved. And I was OUTRAGED at Mitchy-witch choosing to reject funding to pay the military during the shut down. I know it was a pressure tactic, but it was cruel. Did you miss it? I’ve got you covered!

Here’s what Miss Heather wants.

  1. I want a clean DACA bill passed. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is the right thing to do. These folks were KIDS when they were brought into the country illegally. And now they’re college students, employees, tax-payers, and the GOP wants to yank them up and send them back to a country they may not even remember. Thanks for remembering Deuteronomy 10:19. Imagine being a toddler in the backseat of your mom’s car when she committed a bank robbery. Then when you’re 20, someone picks you up and puts you in jail for your mom’s crime. That she committed. Without your involvement or consent. Deportation of Dreamers amounts to the same thing. Why does that make sense to anyone at all?
  2. The second thing I want is funding for CHIP. Children’s Health Insurance Program is not the same thing as Medicaid. Whole different ballgame, folks. CHIP works with WORKING parents who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy health insurance. The program was a bipartisan effort to keep our kids healthy. Kids. Why is that wrong?
  3. The third thing that I want is for Congress to forget about the ridiculous wall. We don’t need a wall. The worst mass-shootings in our country’s history were committed by white people. We need that money for other things.

What have I done this week to achieve these goals?

  • I’ve called my senators on the regular. I speak with earnest civility to Bob Corker because sometimes he does the right thing. I rant at Lamar Alexander because he has swallowed the Republican bait hook, line, and sinker, and he only votes along party lines.
  • I have educated myself about the issues at hand. Education is key. So many people don’t understand what they’re voting FOR. It’s sad.
  • I have shared what I have learned online, and I have encouraged myself to keep fighting the good fight. It’s nowhere close to over.
  • I have begun discussing and researching candidates for the midterm elections. Even though 2018 has felt like a millennium at this point, November will come. And we can flip some states blue.

Here are some places you can plug in:

  • Indivisible 453 – Voter ID laws
  • 5calls.org – They will give you the number for your representatives and tell you what the burning issues are that you can call about.
  • Association of State Democratic Chairs – they can help you get in touch with your local group
  • DCCC – find out how to volunteer for the Democratic party
  • GOP – find out how to volunteer – I don’t expect that everyone holds my ideals. You do you. If we each work toward our important goals, we can shape this country the way it should be, with something for everyone.

 

What have you done this week to help move the country in the direction YOU believe that it should go?

Possum Living: Laying the Ground Rules

So back at the beginning of the year (is 2018 over yet, because it feels like it has hung around long enough!), I shared some of my goals. One of them was the most ambitious thing I have ever tried. Inspired by the book Possum Living (cool video here), I plan to go all of 2018 without buying anything I don’t NEED. Sometimes there is a giant grey area between needs and wants. Take books, for example. I need books like I need air. But do I NEED to BUY them? Unless it is a text for my job, probably not. This outline is rather fluid, and time may force some changes, but I will share any changes as a means of holding myself accountable.

Needs:

  • Gasoline
  • Food
  • College tuition
  • Clothing (but NO T-SHIRTS)
  • Utilities and mortgage
  •  Cellphone – I have a Tracfone, so I have to get service cards periodically. Texts are $5 for 1000, and it’s the primary way we communicate at work
  • Books specifically relevant to work – must be read within a month of purchase
  • Car (I signed my car’s death warrant when I put my favorite sticker on it)
  • Potting soil and bare bones supplies for growing plants to sell at Farmer’s Market
  • Photo books – I do these twice a year as a gift for my mom, but I also get one for me. My photos are essential. But no superfluous photo gifts. I use Snapfish, and they usually provide me with good coupons.

Wants:

  • Books (Goodbye, BookBub! Until next year?) – Not even the illustrated Goblet of Fire due out in October
  • Harry Potter memorabilia (this kills me!)
  • Music (unless I already have gift card credit on the music site)
  • Toys for the pets. It’s too bad, really, because Lumen is quite destructive, but she LOVES HER TOYS SO MUCH! I stocked up on the one toy she hasn’t managed to completely murder and dismantle, so she won’t have nothing. Don’t look at me like that!
  • Additional pets – (no more snakes? WHAT? But… but…)
  • He wants a friend…

  • Additional pet housing, beyond basic supplies (food, UVB bulbs, etc
  • Toys in general
  • Impulse buys for the kids
  • Clearance holiday stuff *whimper* unless it’s for prizes for my students
  • Squishables
  • Coffee or meals out – unless I am traveling or it is pre-arranged date-night
  • Postage for packages to friends
  • Gifts – beyond family birthdays and gift-giving holidays
  • An addendum to the above rule: no creating gift-giving holidays. In our house, Valentine’s Day is a children’s holiday. I cannot turn it into a “Hey, gimme this Funko Pop! figure” holiday.

So you’re here to hold me accountable.  Almost As much fun as a host of fleas nesting in your armpits.

I make a lot of impulse purchases when I’m feeling sad, lonely, depressed, excited, anxious. I admit that I shop (and eat) to deal with feelings and to fill a void. So what am I going to do when that shopper vibe starts bouncing in my brain? I’m going to be creative. Literally. Like, I’m going to create something. Here are some ways to channel my energy

  • Write – I’ve been successful with this one. I have been writing a LOT. I have written so many blog posts this year already, and that’s not even the tip of my brain’s iceberg. I think I could spend the next few weeks and write out blog posts for each day for the rest of the year. Don’t worry. I won’t. But I could. And I wrote a short story and entered a writing competition. So yay.
  • Take Lumen for a walk or a run- I ran with her a few days ago, and I totally freaked her out. “If Mommy’s running, someone must be chasing! LET’S MAKE TRACKS!”
  • Who’s the happiest dog-parking dog in the world? And maybe the most exhausted. Little Pittie mixes are fast and intense, old girl!

  • Read – I am on NetGalley, and I’m working on reading a book I’m super-excited about. And when I read the book, I can REVIEW it, so that brings me back to WRITING!
  • Knit – I have the basics down. Yay, me. But I suck at it. Practice makes perfect, so I shall practice.
  • Give stuff away – Stuff begets more stuff. If I clear out some of the clutter, I am less inclined to buy matching clutter. Also, moving stuff out helps me to realize how much I already HAVE.
  • Make little turtles out of Sculpey – I’m good at this, and I owe some people some critters. I gotta get on this as soon as my right arm begins functioning again.
  • Play Neko Atsume -What better way to practice becoming a crazy cat lady than to learn to attract stray cats?

    My yarn balls bring ALL the kitties to the yard. And I can’t get rid of them. Help!

 

How do YOU deal with anxiety or depression? What’s the most effective thing for you? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

What. Ever.

Today’s Daily Post prompt is “Agile.” Aaaand, I was stuck. Agile? I have the grace of a drunk badger. I can climb like a monkey at work, and I have to in order to reach some of my exhibits, but I have taken some hard spills. And with the exception of a pinkie toe a few weeks ago*** I haven’t broken any bones. And that which does not kill me is proof that I don’t have osteoporosis. So yes, I’m a tough nut to crack, but I’m not agile.

Helpers. The Caiman Lizard climbs to the top of his exhibit and sits on the edge to supervise my work. I call him Visa because he is everywhere I want to be. His perch here is 8ft off the ground.

My best friends at work? I write about them a lot, but they’re not so agile, either.

Eastern Box Turtle hatchling. He says “I carry my house around on my back. I don’t need to be agile, too.”

My best friends have shells, so I don’t hold their lack of agility against them. My snakes are agile. And I do love snakes. But this isn’t a post about snakes.

Piebald Ball Python – a pet snake in my house. So cute. He’ll be agile one day.

The only thing about me that can slide up and down with the fluidity of a first chair trombone is my frickin’ mood. This morning, my brain is in overdrive. I got up, and all was well. And then…

It snowed! YAY!!!

Wait. I can’t get to work without a ride. I’m snowed in. ARRRGH!

But a snow day at home with the kids? Snowball fights and long walks with the dogs? Awww!

But my Dart Frogs need spraying or their eggs will dry out. THEY WILL DIIIIIIEEEE!

calling frogs

Boss man said he can mist the eggs. Whew!

The Padawan has been sneaking food downstairs, and now I have to ground him for the day, and it’s a snow day so I will have to deal with his crappy mood ALL DAY, and when will he ever learn, but he also just finished the essay that isn’t due until next week, and it’s 2 pages longer than the minimum, and I am a terrible mother for punishing a good student, but then if I don’t, he will never learn, and I am a TERRIBLE MOTHER! And also a terrible writer. That was  one hell of a run-on sentence.

And then the husband brought me coffee. And I might weep with gratitude.

But then the Little Kid Formerly Known as Squish has decided that I can be convinced to let him buy more Nerf blasters and darts. We have an arsenal of these stupid things. No! TAKE  NO FOR AN ANSWER, OR I AM GOING TO THROW EVERY NERF BLASTER WE OWN INTO THE SINKHOLE BEHIND THE HOUSE!

But there’s caramel hot chocolate.

AND MORE NERF BLASTERS! AND THE KID WON’T LET GO OF THE CAT! AND MY ANXIETY IS CHEWING ON THE INSIDE OF MY SKULL!

But kitties.

Bellatrix has the right idea on a snow day!

AND THE KID IS BEGGING ME TO RENT A BOB SLED!

But now he’s found a cardboard box to sled in. Isn’t he creative? I love that kid and his enthusiasm for life!

BUT WHAT IF HE GETS KILLED?! OR MAIMED? AND IT’S ALL MY FAULT?!!! I am a terrible mother.

But he’s going outside to play by himself. Isn’t it great that he can entertain himself outside when so many kids these days just sit in front of the television and play video games?

THE KID JUST EMPTIED ALL MY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS INTO THE FLOOR, SO HE COULD TAKE THE BOX TO SLED IN, AND NOW I MIGHT DIE OF A RAGE-INDUCED ANEURYSM!

But look at me! I can SPELL aneurysm without spell-check! Look at me! I’m an unstable genius!

BUT NOW THE KID IS TALKING ABOUT HOW HE MIGHT DIE OUTSIDE, AND HE JUST MIGHT, AND I SUCK AT MOTHERING!

I can write. Writing soothes me. I enjoy it, and it sets me to rights. I could do a Daily Post prompt…

The Daily Post prompt is “Agile.” Well, crap. My head hurts.

 

*** Pinkie toe injury – I broke my toe by dropping a remote control on it. Because I am smooth like that.

Attitude of Gratitude. #BloggersUnite

This is a good post for me to do today. It’s only the second week of January and already this year is trying to eat me alive. It’s way too easy to focus on the negative. I don’t want to do that. I have it pretty good, and I need to remember that. I am grateful for:

  • The disaster that is 2018. God knows what we all need, and he shapes us. The way to mold silver is with fire, and without the heat, I’ll stay the same sad shape. I have needed my series of unfortunate events because it has forced me to do the thing that is hardest for me to do – to ask for (and accept) help. I am an independent person. I can do it myself. MYSELF, DO YOU HEAR ME? And then suddenly, I can’t. Yesterday alone I had to ask for help five times. Yeah, I hate being helpless so much that I keep track. And it’s good for me. People want to help, just like I want to help people. From getting a lift home to getting someone to drive me and a giant aquarium across the zoo because I can’t carry it myself, I have humbled myself.

This dog.She makes me laugh, she gets me off my bum to go for walkies, she keeps the kitties in their proper place.

Lumen wearing her “Where’s the cookie?” face

  • And this guy. Here he is all ready for the eclipse.

    This is just a joke. The animals don’t gaze at the sun, so they don’t need eye protection. But doesn’t he look fly?

And in gallery format:

  • Friends who make me coffee
  • the Women’s March
  • those days when my students really seem to get it and engage in the material
  • writing
  • chocolate
  • possibilities on the horizon
  • a car that needs a new engine but will still get me to work
  • my church family
  • My God who is bigger than all of this and who has the whole world in His hands.
  • Students who won’t stop talking to each other because they have discovered some cool science experiments they really want to share their friends.
  • My job.
  • Good books.
  • Music.
  • My computer, even though I hate Windows 10.
  • All my kids.
  • Plants! All the weird and wonderful plants!

There’s more, but my brain has entered shut-down mode, and I can’t be all that effective. I need to Post this today so I can be a part of Dawn’s link up.

What are you grateful for? Share the joy.

How to join in: write your own post and publish it. Copy the link from the post. Then click on the frog below, and follow the instructions to add your link. If you have any trouble, please let me know, and I’d be happy to help. I will also add a link to each post on my own blog post, as they are published. For extra fun, please add the hashtags #BloggersUnite and/or #50HappyThings… because, well, everyone loves a hashtag! The link-up expires January 15th at 11:59pm.

Click here to link 

Don’t forget to visit the other linked blogs! And visit Dawn at Tales From the Motherland. I was remiss in adding this link earlier.

 

I May Not Survive 2018.

It’s the second day of the New Year,  and I am pretty sure the universe is trying to kill me. I made myself some goals, and goals are a good thing. One of my unwritten resolutions is to be a more positive person in 2018. I am quite determined. And I am pretty sure I heard the universe say “Hold my beer and watch this!”

I went in to work yesterday. I know. New Year’s Day and all, but I work in a zoo. Al’s gotta eat. And it’s not like I party all night. Nah, I was in bed by 9, asleep by 10. If I want to see the ball drop, I can catch it on Youtube. How can I not go in and see this face?

    My favorite picture I have ever taken of my boy.

I say I went in to work. More correctly, I TRIED to go in to work. On the way there:

  • my car started to overheat
  • I realized a coolant hose was leaning, so I pulled over to the shoulder of the interstate.
  • I did more swearing that I meant to as I watched cars swerve over the line and nearly hit me, even though traffic was to merge into THE OTHER LANE.
  • I figured out I had coolant in the car, so I added some, but…
  • the battery had died due to the severe cold (11F plus windchill)
  • I was wearing shorts.

It took about a half hour before husband could come and retrieve my frozen behind and haul me the rest of the way in It took an hour for my feet to feel like feet again. My day went fine at work. I got some things done, so yay. But I was positive! Go, me! Instead of thinking that 2018 sucks already, quitting my job, and ordering more cats off the internet, I thought “Maybe 2018 is my year of solving problems, of growing stronger and more confident in my abilities.

Then I came home.  And I broke my toe. I didn’t get it x-rayed because there’s nothing to be done with tiny pinky toes except to tape them to their next-door neighbor, but it is purple and blue, and if you touch it, I might accidentally punch you. But it’s just a toe, right? A little tape and bottle of Ibuprofen, and all better. Little toe, littler problem.

I wish I had a good story, like I was fighting ninjas, or practicing mixed martial arts, or I kicked a wall in a rage. But no. I dropped a remote control on it. Our first real TV in, like, 9 years. See? I have been saying all along that television is harmful. Believe it.  TV will break your bones. So anyhow. Toe is taped.  It’s something to laugh about.

And then we come to this morning.

  • Outside spigot A was frozen because someone didn’t leave it running. I won’t say who that was for the sake of marital harmony, but it wasn’t me.
  • Outside spigot B was also frozen. Spousal unit unfroze.
  • Spousal unit let car warm up so he could take me to work.
  • Car ran out of gas. Cars without gas do not take you to work. They sit there and wait to be kicked with my good foot.
  • Spigot A refroze, and the only thing I had with which to unfreeze it was. my. coffee.
  • In the unfreezing process, spigot A sprayed me up and down.
  • My pants froze to my legs

For my safety, I gave up, came inside, put on my pajama pants. I am hiding now. 2018 is coming for me. Don’t tell it where I am.

I can’t bear to look!

 

 

*My family motto is “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

How To Apologize Online

Your comprehensive guide to issuing an apology when you have upset someone online, be it Facebook, Twitter, or an email to dear Aunt Sally. Study it. Memorize it. There will be a test later.

Apologize? Me? Heh.

  1. Be online.
  2. Make a mistake. This is not difficult. If you have covered #1, you are guaranteed to say something stupid/misinformed/offensive.
  3. Become aware of your mistake. This one isn’t all that hard, either. If a dozen experts (or even ONE) on a subject presents a counter-argument, there’s a chance you are wrong. Maybe do research at this point.
  4. Grow a pair. Pair could refer to whatever thing you associate with courage. Could be kittens for all I care. Just get you some courage.
  5. Say these words: “You were right.” or “I was wrong.” Use these phrases together for additional sincerity.
  6. Also say these words: : “I am sorry.” Another variation could be “I apologize.” Yes. This step is necessary. I know. You already said #5. I know. Just say you’re sorry.
  7. Demonstrate that you are, in fact, sorry. Do accomplish this task, you should say, well, nothing. Don’t say anything at all.
  8. Continue to say nothing. I know. You just wanted to explain tha-

Just stop it. Seriously. Stop talking. Stop trying to make everyone understand how wonderful you are and how you are being misunderstood. Just stop talking.

9. Say even less than you did in #8. Remember #5? You were stupid/offensive/misinformed. You were. You. I’m looking at you. I know you said sorry. But sorry doesn’t fix stuff immediately. If I eat your pet canary, a simple apology doesn’t make Tweety any less dead. There will be some grief, some anger, perhaps a tiny little funeral to arrange, and it’s likely you don’t want to see me again for a while. Maybe not ever. Some stakes are higher than others.

10. Make your peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like you. Actually, this should be #1, but it’s the one we all tend to blow off, so I buried it here so you wouldn’t ignore it. I’m tricky like that. The hardest part about this one is understanding that in this case, people are in the not-liking phase of you because of something you did. Ouch. Reflect on it. Sit with it.

11. Read the responses. Not to your apology.  I mean the responses to your original mistake. Understand not just that people ARE upset, but get to the heart of WHY. If you don’t make an effort to learn the why, you are pretty much guaranteed to repeat your error, and that’s bad. This part’s hard because the instinct is to argue more or to tuck our tails and RUN. Do not attempt to answer until you are strong enough to respond ONLY with the words “I understand,” “I am sorry,” “You are right,” or “I was wrong.” You will feel like your brain is on fire and your eyeballs are melting, but I promise you will live.

12. Come to grips with the most painful realization in the world: Not everyone cares  what you think.

13. Do better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff My Kids Will Never Understand

Now I really do sound like my mother. But this isn’t a rant about the good old days and how the world is headed South in a Longaberger basket. That would be my great-grandmother, and I’m not turning into her (yet). I’m learning that few things make me feel older than saying “Well, back when I was a kid…” and having them stare at me, slack-jawed, eyes glazing over like a monkey presented with a computing problem. As if the minutiae of my early years isn’t riveting. It’s just kind of a shame that all of my vast life experience is fading into oblivion. Here’s the weird stuff I remember:

  • Gum. Lots of it! In the 80s, bubblegum was a HUGE thing. Our neighborhood convenience store had a 2ftx8ft section DEVOTED to gum. And I’m not talking the stuff the old ladies enjoyed in church a half-stick at a time, either. I’m talking bubblegum. Every imaginable flavor. Strawberry and banana, sure, but also blueberry and cherry and a variety of fruit punches. Bubble Yum Fruit Punch was the best ever. Gum achieved its nadir with chocolate mint flavor. Ugh. The market never recovered.
  • Because bubblegum bandages aren’t gross at all. Photo credit: Dinosaur Dracula

  • Records were the cheapest form of recording. If you wanted the album on a more portable medium, the cassette tape cost about 30% more.
  • Having to buy an entire record for one song.
  • Requiring an elaborate set-up to convert record to cassette tape. This exercise involved special cables and moving furniture around to get all the components to connect to one another.
  • Hating DJs for talking over the song you were trying to record.
  • Song Hits Magazine – It had the LYRICS, man! THE LYRICS! To the cool songs! So we knew what Cyndi Lauper was actually saying.
  • Benetton and Swatches – and don’t forget the Swatch guard!
  • Halloween, Christmas, Valentine, Last-Day-of-School PARTIES!  Like, at school. With candy and cupcakes and stuff.
  • Film strips. And the substitute teacher who was ALWAYS one frame behind.
  • Reel-to-reel movies in the classroom. In elementary school, we watched The Cat and the Hat and The Red Balloon once a year.
  • Sticker collections– mine is quite impressive. Yes, I still have it. Shut up!
  • Seeing a movie in the theater or not seeing it at all. Because once it left the theater, it was GONE. No purchasing it a few months later. Because there would be nothing to watch it ON! No DVD player, no VCR. Not even laser disc. This tidbit blows my students’ minds.
  • The Wizard of Oz came on once a year – And every year I thought the movie was broken because it started out in black and white.
  • Three channels – and all of them signed off at midnight with the flag.
  • Garbage Candy that came in an actual tiny garbage can!

Why don’t they still make this? I liked the fish skeletons the best! I think I have to do a favorite candy edition because we had the best candy!

  • Floppy Discs – It’s funny that the “save” icon is a picture of something most kids have never even seen in real life. And remember when they were actually FLOPPY?
  • Cutting edge computers with memory measuring in the kilobytes. I didn’t say ALL the old days were good ones!
  • Pong did not involve beer.
  • Saturday morning cartoons – the ONLY time cartoons were available. No Cartoon Network,no Disney Channel. Cartoons started at 6am with the old black-and-whites and ran all the way until noon with O.G. Readmore. He’s a reading kind of cat.
  • After-school TV specials – I always learned something. Or pretended to. These came about right around the time it became apparent that television was becoming a babysitter.
  • Suntan lotion and suntan oil – but no sunscreen. I had more blistering sunburns as a child than my dermatologist would like to think about because the only thing to prevent sunburn was zinc oxide, and only the dweebs used that crap.
  • Lawrence Welk – I could never WAIT for this show to be over so I could watch Hee Haw. Hey, I never said I had great TV taste as a kid.
  • Cracker Jacks – yeah, they tasted like garbage, but they had a PRIZE! And it was sometimes a TOY!
  • Cereal – like gum, cereal had its hey day. Anybody else remember when literally EVERY box on the shelf except for the high-fiber crap had something free in the box? And remember when Cocoa Krispies was represented by Tusk the Elephant?

That’s it for this edition. Now, get off my lawn, you darned kids!

What are you sorry to see go?

Notes From the Zookeeper: My Day in Pictures and a Mind-blowing video