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Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
A Gift from Hil - 2014-12-28
There was A LOT of turkey. - 2014-12-04
Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28

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3:03 p.m. - 2014-09-05
The last lap of a long, long race

'Parenthood'. The original film is on my short list of essential movies so I'd been hesitant to try the TV series. It's akin to 'book-to-movie' disappointment, I was afraid they'd dumb it down, change things for the sake of TV marketing, and ruin it. I watched the first couple episodes with mental squint eyes waiting for it to be awful, but instead I began to relax and watch with eyes (and mind) open. By the fourth episode I was bobbing my head with the tune as the show started to groove and by the seventh I weeping because I knew that song, God, do I know that song.

If you've never seen the show I'll give you the short and dirty- four adult siblings and their lives as parents. The sibs' own parents are there too adding their skew to how their kids are raising their broods. The siblings themselves are familial archetypes we all recognize. The Good Boy son, the Overachiever daughter, the Screw up Daughter, and the Peter Pan son. Each of the siblings has a kid or kids to suit, but the lines between who's good and who's bad are as blurry as they are in real life and no one on the show is a One Note Charlie.

Good Boy son, Adam, and his wife have two kids- good girl Haddie and unholy terror Max. I recognized Max right away, he's obviously an Aspie, and I set my mouth for the show to get it all wrong like 'Grey's Anatomy' did with Mary MacDonald's Aspie savant cardiac surgeon. Not a chance in hell someone with such severe Asperger's would make it through medical school, shoot, she'd never have gotten through high school, but her character is always good for a laugh, right 'Grey's Anatomy'? Dr Aspie is a fricken hoot with her implacable rules and miscued social interactions! Totally hilarious...not. So when I saw Max in his stubbornly worn pirate outfit and his inability to use scissors and his frustrated lashing out at his smirking classmates and the school's reaction in treating Max as a straight-up discipline case I trembled with recognition and waited for 'Parenthood' to use Max as comic relief.

They didn't. Instead they got it right. All of it. The grief, the exhaustion, the frustration, the mingled relief and sorrow when Max is finally diagnosed. The show got it right about how the whole family was bent around trying to stave off Aspie storms even before they had a name for what ails their kid. The begging, the bribes, the way Max's mom feels like such a loser when Max starts to respond to and cooperate with the behavioral aide. She'd never gotten Max to cooperate like that. And when Kristina confesses this the aide is so kind! She points out that she works with Max a few hours a week while she (Kristina) has Max all the time. She's been there the whole time coping, dealing, and doing her best with a terribly difficult situation. The aide recognizes how hard it is and that Kristina is doing okay. That's when I lost it. I had to pause the show and I nodded and cried. I cried for so long the screensaver came on. Somebody who writes for 'Parenthood' has an Aspie kid, I know it. Max's Asperger's wasn't just included as the disability du jour. Because autism is trendy right now, you know. And even if Max's Asperger's was written in because so many folks are dealing with spectrum disorders and it makes the show more 'real' I appreciate the care taken with Max and his family. Max is a whole person, he has his own problems with being 'weird'. His parents are true to life with their fierce love and their mixed emotions. I don't care if in later seasons 'Parenthood' sails off into Stupid Land and one of the characters is abducted by aliens and has a little pointy-eared baby, I will be a loyal fan because in the first nine episodes I got to watch a fictional Wolf and a fictional Me and neither of us were a joke.

So, LA, when you're not over-identifying with TV shows on Netflix what have you been doing?

School finally started. As ever I am grateful our school year here in NY doesn't start until after Labor Day. Along with the state fair we hit a bunch of local festivities, Wolf ran down to the shore with his father, we slept late, ate a ton of fresh garden produce, stopped for ice cream, and generally squeezed in a whole lotta summer in the last two weeks of August.

School. Wolf wanted to start his senior year with a bit of a splash. Bust out of his Wolf-under-the-radar persona. Hence he went back on his first day in cool boots, skinny jeans, a bird-of-paradise tropical print shirt, wraparound shades, and dyed black pointy hair. Sort of a Johnny Rotten on vacation vibe. I very much appreciated his wanting to get out there and have some fun so when he asked me if I'd dye his hair I agreed on the instant. He's worked hella hard to get where he is- cruising toward graduation with a merit roll GPA, all of his requirements knocked down already, and a quiet but solid school rep far, far away from the Wolf the Aspie Weirdo of his grade school years. He deserves to tear it up a little.

Mick's been training for mater's class bodybuilding competitions. I've taken on the roles of trainer and nutritionist. It's fun. It's no easy feat to bulk up while cutting body fat, especially at 55 years old. I've been doing a lot of research about diet and training schedules. Finally I have the perfect reason to make Mick eat vegetables. In the old days when Mick competed he lived on dry chicken breasts and dry tuna. But a diet that induces ketosis isn't the way to go. Not for long term health and not for competing. In many ways competitive bodybuilding is like modeling, the diet to achieve the required body is horribly unhealthy. Models live on speed, cigarettes and coffee, bodybuilders live on steroids, diuretics and dry protein. At least the pros do, but Mick is looking to do the 'natural' circuit. This means no steroids, no purging, no ketosis. The bodies on display might not be the hugely lumpy striated freak show candidates of the pro circuit, but I find the naturals far more pleasing to the eye. And on a personal note- I am NOT living with a husband who's carb starved and 'roid raging. I won't. Straight up. Hence Mick is eating healthier than ever before and is amazed at how strong he is in the gym and how easy it is to stay on an even keel emotionally. Better living through chemistry, my friends, the chemistry of beta-carotene, omega-3s, good fiber, antioxidants, and a fat/carb/protein ratio designed for optimal results and peace of mind.

I only wish Mick's diet did the same for me. Wolf is bright and strong and healthy, Mick is happy and strong and full of beans, and I am falling to bits. Every system in my bod is in all out rebellion. My most recent scans showed no blockages and no new damage. My blood work was fine, my BP is steady on, and yet I'm a mess. The inflamed occipital bundle on the right side of my head looks like a snake under my scalp. My left leg is frightfully swollen and tender to the touch. After a long day my eyes don't work in synch and my speech is slurred. Most days the smell of raw meat makes me vomit. And I've had a headache since July. I don't say much to the guys. What's the point? I am consulting the proper doctors and doing the proper drug/diet/lifestyle regimens. Perhaps I should go back to cigarettes and candy bars. Everything else about me and my life works to the contrary, so why not?

Despite my rebellious bod I am gagging about some upcoming goodies. Next-next Saturday I'm going into the city for THE coolest bachelorette outing ever. Instead of a drunken spree in Vegas wearing penis dealie-bobbers and ending up with unfortunate tattoos and venereal diseases I am hooking up with a crew of amazing women for a day of sophisticated food and art. My darling A is getting married in October (another event I am thrilling about attending) and we ladies are gathering in NYC to fete her at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. World class athletes, scholars, healers, doers, dancers, all women of merit and substance, and me- the 50+ grandma gimp. Should be all kinds of fun. No, really! I love A with all my heart and her journey these past years has been a privilege to be part of. And if I am not the median of this group of friends in age or accomplishment I know myself to be welcome and accepted anyhow. I am very much looking forward to putting physical selves to go with the pics and stories I know online and giving each one of A's good friends a squeezy hug. I know them and hopefully they know of me. If not, no matter, we're all there for A and she is the shared friend and love of all of us. And how can you go wrong with a couple of good meals, the Met, and a group of friends all there to celebrate in the best city on Earth?

This year there are two Open Houses. One at the high school and one at culinary school. The very last of these events for me. My first Open House was in 1991. I sat in a little chair and listened to Alex's kindergarten teacher outline all the cool things our freshly minted student-children would be doing. It's 23 years later and I am still attending Open House. Still hearing the rah-rah speeches about accomplishment and excellence. I've officially been in the Mom biz since January 16, 1985 and this year's Open Houses and Parent-Teacher conferences are bittersweet. Momming isn't all that I've done since 1985, but it's a HUGE part. The biggest, most important part. And now it's almost over. Oh sure, I'll never stop being the mom, not even of the kid who rejects me and thinks I'm shit on a stick and would happily celebrate my death with a luau, but this very last year of being a school kid's mom is special. Equal parts celebratory and sad. I made it! After three decades I am actually going to step through the gate into the next part. But being the mom sitting in the little chair is who I am, it's what I do. And what comes next is marked 'Here There Be Dragons'.

It's been hard. It's been fun. It's boring and burdensome. It's been amazing. I've run the gamut from prideful honor student band geek's mom to humbled exhausted special needs mom. I've sold wrapping paper and threatened lawsuits. I've attended awards ceremonies and disciplinary hearings. I've advocated for both my kids and haven't missed a school board vote yet. I've belonged to the PTO, chaperoned field trips, helped prep barbeques, Jellybean Field Day, I've read stories and passed out juice and graham crackers, I've sat through rehearsals, practices, track meets, football games, concerts, ISP meetings, counseling sessions, PT, OT, group, individual therapy, I baked cupcakes, schlepped into the city to watch my son play his tuba on the ice at the Rockefeller ice rink. I've made midnight runs to Walmart for diorama supplies, edited and typed up term papers, helped with college applications and wept in school parking lots more times than I can count. I bought school pictures, manned the cash box at book fairs, kissed boo-boos, and cursed, wailed, read, listened, laughed, and hugged my way through the school doings of two very different sons for three decades in two centuries in two millennia.

Now I'm on the last lap. I'll be paying especial attention this time as I know it's the last time, though it's always been a Big Deal and Important to me every single year. And I'll be trying like mad not to cry until I'm alone in the privacy of my car. When Wolf was born and Alex was a tubby beardless middle school kid who was still inches shorter than me I looked into the future and saw it as endless, starting all over again when I'd already gotten around the clubhouse turn with my first kid and the finish line tape I was near to breaking had been moved back for another eighteen years I couldn't see this day would ever come. It was too far. And I certainly never saw myself in another house, with another husband, living so well and so happily, and that I might even be panicky and more than a little lost when that distant, impossibly far time actually arrived. But it did. And I'm here and so is Wolf. The future caught up and I don't know how it happened or when.

It's the last and beyond that be dragons, ~LA

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