Moving Day 4/2/12!

I successfully moved the blog to the new site this morning, so this will be the last post up at destination140. Hope to see you all over at Life with the Quirky Boys!

Posted in Uncategorized

Moving the Blog

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for awhile. At least, I hope you noticed. 🙂 Several things have hit the fan at once and I’ve been shoveling for the past couple of months. I know, I’ve been shoveling for the last couple of years, but this was more and I’ve had to shovel faster. I do have several posts I’ve been working on, so hopefully I will get back to regular posting now. We’ll see how that goes.

Last post I told you about the snowpocalypse and how I hadn’t crawled out yet. I didn’t really understand why until I talked to my therapist about it. She said that when you’ve been running on empty for awhile, even if you’ve begun to replenish your reserves, something like that can knock you flat on your ass into a deeper crater than you were before. So that happened. And then a bunch of other things, some good, some not so good…

Okay, see, like right now. I have allergies that seem to come on whenever the weather changes and I’ve started having occasional hot flashes. Those things seem unrelated, right? Except that my head is stuffy, my throat is so clogged that I can barely talk, and a few minutes ago I started sweating and now I’m shivering. Do I have the flu or is it just a hot flash on top of my allergies brought on by the crazy weather we’ve been having. I’m exhausted, but what else is new. So how am I supposed to figure it out? And then what am I supposed to do with that information?

The other things that have happened include:

  • Firing our ABA consultants;
  • Hiring a fabulous new ABA program manager and ABA home therapist;
  • Fun toileting issues with BeBop that I won’t elaborate on;
  • BeBop graduated from OT and started vision therapy at a new place;
  • Vision therapy requires homework five days a week and BeBop is not thrilled with it;
  • With all the changes going on, BeBop has had some behavior regression, including, but in no way limited to, gnawing on our coffee table;
  • BamBam started speech therapy (at the same time/place as BeBop’s vision therapy, which helps me);
  • BamBam is doing much better in school;
  • BamBam, who used to enjoy the bus, is not pleased with the fact that his regular morning bus driver has been MIA for almost two months now and we’ve had at least three rotating substitutes – a very distressing fact for kids on the spectrum who insist on ROUTINE. He now begins screaming before we walk out of the house and continues until after the bus drives away (his teachers tell me he’s fine once he gets to school). Once on the bus, he runs to the back and throws himself on the floor by the window while the kid in the wheelchair stares at him and the girls in the back seats laugh at him. Good times.
  • Setting up a group blog with some friends (whateverybettysaid.com)

I’ve had a lot of fun working on the group blog and, in the process, decided to move this blog off of wordpress.com and onto my own domain. Since the domain name can be whatever I want, provided it’s available, I’m going to change that too. When I started this blog, it was about the weightloss, but since then it has morphed to encompass my broader life experience, so I think destination 140 is too narrow for it now. I thought about it a lot and finally settled on Life with the Quirky Boys. That name shows that the focus of my life right now is mainly on my quirky boys, including Sparky, but that it still starts with me. It’s still my life that I’m sharing with my wonderful, and wonderfully quirky, boys.

So it’s LifewiththeQuirkyBoys.com. I’m not sure yet when I’ll make the shift, but I’ll announce it here first.

Posted in Autism/Development, Musings | 14 Comments

Miscarriage Hilarity

I actually started this post three weeks ago, but then we got hit with the snowpocalypse and the judgement was not good. Stuck in the house with two preschool age autistic kids for a week was not fun for any of us. But, hey, at least we had power, which is more than many in our area can say. Last week was spent trying to dig myself out of the aftermath of the Shining-like isolation experience. I was hoping to start feeling normal (for me these days, anyway) by today, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Anyhoo, I told Betty Bear a while back that I would blog about my funny miscarriage story sometime. Since I don’t want to talk about the fact that I haven’t started my diet yet and have only made it to the gym once so far this year, I thought today would be a good day for that story.

I should start with the bumper stickers. I’ve blogged before about how I didn’t feel comfortable voicing my opinion in opposition to someone else shouting theirs, so for a while I voiced it by plastering the back of my car with bumper stickers. I took them all off not long after BeBop was born, but they are now finding their way back. I don’t know if it’s the upcoming election or a sign that I’m surfacing from my depression, but it feels good.

I started the bumper stickers in the lead-up to the 2004 election. Thirty years ago I would have been considered a moderate liberal, but the line has moved so far to the right in that time that I think I’m now firmly in the bleeding-heart category. Whatever. My views haven’t changed much in that time, but I’m no longer very interested in how someone else categorizes me.

The stickers on my car were all liberal, many of them anti-Bush. At work, I used to get a lot of positive comments about them. One friend commented to another one day about this sticker:

The reply was, “You know that’s Michelle’s car, right?” She hadn’t, but made sure to give me the positive comments in person from then on. I always appreciated hearing them.

I blogged a few weeks back about my father and the trip I took to see him in October 2004. When we got home from that trip, I found out I was pregnant for the very first time. I told everyone I knew. I told people I didn’t know, people I’d never seen before, people just walking by on the street.

I made my first OB appointment and was quite disappointed to find out they won’t see you until you’re 8 weeks along. Seemed like forever to me, but I waited – mainly because I had no other choice. The appointment finally came on Wednesday, November 10, 2004. We sat watching the doctor’s face as she ran the ultrasound probe over my belly. She looked concerned, which unnerved me a little. Then she asked me how far along I was.

“Eight weeks.”

“Huh,” she said.

Sparky and I looked at each other. “Uhm, I could be off on that, though.”

“Is it possible you’re only six weeks?”

“Uhm, I guess.”

“Huh,” she said again.

I’ve now been through four pregnancies and two c-sections with this doctor and I like her very much. During my second c-section, she was talking about how ugly my fibroid was and the male doctor assisting her warned that she might hurt my feelings. She told him that we had known each other a long time and she knew I would take it well. She was right. In that moment, I said, “I’m beautiful on the outside and that’s what really counts.”

I know how to take her now, but the first time I met her, not so much. So we sat there, not really understanding that we probably didn’t have a viable pregnancy. She was trying to prepare us without really alarming us. In retrospect, I think she probably accomplished that with me. She said she’d look at my blood work and let me know in a few days, or something to that effect, and we all went back to work.

Thursday and most of Friday passed uneventfully. It was really quiet at work because most of the doctors, fellows, and other lab staff were off at a national meeting. I noticed around lunchtime on Friday that I was spotting a little. Spotting can happen in a typical pregnancy, so I managed to convince myself that’s all it was. Until about 3pm, when my uterus began to divest itself of most of it’s contents. I sat sobbing in the bathroom stall for a while and then began to wonder what I should do. My purse was in my office, but even if I’d had it with me, it had no menstrual supplies in it. I was pregnant and wasn’t planning to need any again for a year at least. I could ask one of the women I work with except that the entire floor, including office/clerical staff, was deserted due to the national conference and it being late Friday afternoon.

Then I remembered my friend, Wendy. I was pretty sure I’d seen her earlier in the day and her office was in the suite just across the hall from ours. I stuffed a bunch of toilet paper in my underwear and ran. I almost lost it when I saw her door closed, but knocked anyway because I didn’t know what else to do. There was fleeting relief when she opened the door, followed by frustration at my inability to communicate my situation through the blubbering. I finally got it out and she gave me a shoulder to cry on and some supplies to…well, some supplies. I went off to use them and call my doctor and Sparky. I’m pretty sure I called the doctor first, wanting to make sure I knew what the plan should be before I talked to Sparky. Turned out the plan was to go in to the OB’s office.

Sparky wanted to come get me, but I said no. He worked from home at that point and the doctor’s office was almost half way between our house and my office. He would have had to come all the way across the lake to get me and then drive back across the lake to get to the doctor’s office. Plus, my car was at work and I didn’t want to have to come back and get it. Those were the things running through the surface of my mind, but deeper down I knew that I just really didn’t want to sit in my office waiting. I needed to do something.

Wendy wanted to drive me as well, but I turned her down, too. I told her I didn’t want to have to come back to get my car. What I really didn’t want was company. I could see that she wanted to argue with me, but she didn’t and I really appreciated that.

So, off I went to the parking lot to get my car and here comes the funny part. As I’m driving toward the exit, I see this woman waving wildly at me. I put on the brake and rolled down the window as she ran over to the car. I think she introduced herself, though I don’t remember her name now, and then she starts gushing about how much she loves my bumper-stickers.

The whole time she was talking, I was trying to figure out why I stopped. I didn’t know how to gracefully exit the situation and I wondered if there was anyone but me who, in this type of situation, would be so worried about hurting a stranger’s feelings that they would stop and talk to them like this without cutting them off to say they needed to get to the hospital. Which was about the time she asked me the question she had flagged me down for: the ‘Like a Rock’ sticker was her favorite and she wanted to know where I found it.

I looked her in the eye and said, “I’m very sorry, but I’m having a medical emergency and I have to go.”

She sprang back from my car like I had hit her with live jumper cables and said, “Oh my god, I had no idea! You have to go!”

I blinked at her for a few seconds and then said, “But I got it at CafePress.com.”

She said, “Go!”

“I actually put them on magnets so I can switch them out and that one has fallen off before, so I bought extras and you can have one if you want.”

I think at this point she may have decided my emergency was mental because she started backing away from the car and said, “Just go.”

I rolled up my window and spent the drive to the doctor’s office thinking about how that was the most surreal conversation I’ve ever had in my life. I met Sparky at the doctor’s office, where they did an ultrasound and determined that my body had done a pretty efficient purging job and I wouldn’t need a D&C. She told me to take it easy for a few days, gave me some medication for the pain, and sent us home.

I tried to think of something to do for Wendy to say thanks, but Emily Post doesn’t really have a protocol for this situation, so I think I ended up giving her a mug with hot chocolate mix or something in it.

I wrote a letter to the woman from the parking lot apologizing for our exchange. I put it in an envelope with a rock sticker, but I didn’t know how to find her, so I wrote “FOR THE WOMAN WHO ASKED ABOUT MY STICKERS” on the envelope and attached it to the back of my car with the rest of the bumper stickers. I left it there for several months, but nobody ever took it. I don’t know if she saw it at all. Maybe she did and was afraid to take it. Maybe she avoided that parking lot so she wouldn’t run into me again. Maybe she quit her job and moved to Bolivia to get away from the crazy lady whose psychotic break she interrupted. Or maybe she’s never given it a second thought. I did, though, and I wanted her to have that sticker.

As I was writing this, I realized that the woman in the parking lot gave me something to focus on other than the tragedy that was unfolding in my body. It was just what I needed and I’m suddenly grateful to her on a whole new level. Thank you, Mystery Lady. I still have your sticker and if you ever decide you want it, it’s yours.

*Edited to reflect the correct spelling of hilarity. Thanks for not catching that, WordPress. Way to be on top of things. 🙂

Posted in Musings, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Happy Birthday

I’m 43 today. My mom’s pretending I’m 23 because of what her youngest child being 43 means in terms of her own age*, but I’m actually glad I’m not 23. I was pretty clueless and lost at 23. There’s been a lot of growth for me in those 20 intervening years. It wasn’t all fun, but most of it was worthwhile and I’m glad to be who and what I am today. I started to call this Happy Birthday, Loser, because it’s going to contain info about resolutions I made last year that I didn’t follow through on, but I don’t actually think I’m a loser and I decided to own that more this year. And to be nicer to myself. So, Happy Birthday, Self. You’re pretty awesome, if you do say so yourself, and you do.

As I said, I didn’t have a lot of follow-through on my 2011 List. Here’s the breakdown:

# Goal Progress
1. Lose 30 pounds (Down to 160) Gained about 60 pounds
2. Finish a half marathon Done – I walked it, but I did finish
3. Write first draft of the Kaylee novel Haven’t gotten past discovery yet
4. Log all the books I read on the blog Yay! I did this one! Well, I haven’t posted them yet, but they’re in a file ready to go.

Well, that’s half done, which is better than I thought when I sat down to write this. You all know 2011 was pretty rough for me, so let’s just call it good and move on to the 2012 List.

# Goal Progress
1. Lose weight to 180
2. Start running again and run a 5k
3. Write first draft of the Kaylee novel
4. Log all the books I read on the blog

Pretty much the same as last year with a few tweaks. I don’t know what I weigh today and there’s no way I was stepping on a scale on my birthday, so I don’t know exactly how much I gained last year. I do know that it was more than the 50 pounds I lost on the Program. So this year my goal is to get back to where I left off with the program. If I manage more, great, but I’m not going to push for it. I’m planning to start back on the program next week (too many birthday plans this week), so I’ll post my weight here as of Monday morning and every Monday or Tuesday after that.

I am going to push for exercise. I want to start running again. I had trouble with it after my surgery – it was a longer recovery than I expected. But I think I’m ready to start again, so I’m going with my goal from the first list of running a 5k.

With the boys in school, I’ve got some free time coming up. I’m not use to that and am trying to ease into it so that I don’t go crazy filling it up with stuff and end up burnt out by February. One of the things I know I want to use it for is writing. I plan to blog every week, but I also plan to finish a first draft of a novel. That’s not a crazy goal. It’s within my grasp and I’m going to do it.

The last goal, logging the books I read, is just a continuation of the goal from last year. I like doing it. I can look back at the list and remember that I did take time for myself. Time to read, which renews my spirit and helps me cope with this fast-paced world. It’s important and I’m worth it.

So, not a crazy list, but a doable list. I can do this and I’m going to. Thanks for the support!

*She’s kidding about the 23 thing and Mom will probably be by later to tell you that herself. At least it will get her to comment. 🙂

Posted in 5k, List, Novel, Reading, Weight | 1 Comment

Transitions, Transitions…..TRANSITIONS!

I can’t remember if I talked about it here (and I’m too lazy to look), but BamBam’s world changed over Thanksgiving. He turned three that Saturday, marking the end of his tenure with the Kindering Center. We are going to miss the therapists there. They went beyond the call to provide him with fabulous services and truly made a difference in his life. Big love and thanks to them, especially S, J, and M.

So, as that door closed, the window on BamBam’s public education opened. The Monday after his birthday, BamBam started developmental preschool. His special ed  teacher (the classroom has one regular teacher and one special ed teacher who are there full time) is absolutely wonderful and I’m certain he will fall madly in love with her. We went in to meet her the week before he started and, despite his reluctance to enter the building (he threw himself on the ground and screamed until I dragged him in), he took to her almost as soon as he got in the classroom. She does ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapy with autistic children as a second job. After playing with BamBam for several minutes that day, she told me that he strikes her as a really smart kid who, once he figures out how to make the connections in his brain to communicate more effectively, will just take off. Did I mention that I super sparkly heart her?

Still, I was a little worried about how he would do once there were other kids in the classroom. And Mom had to leave. I talked to him about school and we went to Target to get him a backpack. He picked out a Thomas backpack with wheels and wore it around all through Thanksgiving weekend.

I took him to school on his first day. We got there early because I really didn’t know how long everything would take. Here’s a picture of him waiting for everyone else to arrive:

Waiting for school to start.

He did okay lining up with the other kids in front of the school, but the second we started walking toward the building he bolted. The regular teacher took the rest of the kids in while the special ed teacher and I tried to corral BamBam into the classroom. It took 20 minutes and several failed strategies, but we finally got him through the door. To the building. The classroom is another hundred yards or so from there. *sigh* We finally got him through that door, too, though, and it was time for Mom to leave. BamBam was hysterical, but I did it. I actually went to the car and came back with a different coat to leave for him. As I hung it on the hook outside the classroom, I could see the top of the special ed teacher’s head through the window. She was sitting on the floor with her back against the door, rubbing BamBam’s back as he screamed and kicked the door. It broke my heart, but I walked out again and went to a coffee shop to drown my sorrows in an almond rocha mocha. Some friends suggested I spike it, which I would have liked, but I had to go pick BamBam up in less than an hour.

When I went in to get him, he was sitting at the snack table very close to his teachers side. When he saw me, he actually said hi. His teacher told me that he’d done pretty well for his first day and assured me that’s pretty typical for kids like BamBam to react that way to a big transition like this. It took him a while to calm down, but some of the other kids came over to rub his back and then he settled down and actually seemed to enjoy himself. Until recess. He threw another fit when it was time to come in and then sat at a table inside sort of sniffling until they brought out a game they thought he might like and he was fine after that.

On the next day, BamBam took the bus. It’s really cool. For the developmental preschool, the bus pulls up in front of your house and you get to put the kid on and fasten him into a carseat, then the teachers get on the bus and take him off. I had told him all about it and he kept saying “bus,” but I don’t think he understood. When he saw the actual bus, he still headed for the car in the driveway. He resisted getting on the bus, but didn’t scream, so I took that as a good sign. He allowed me to buckle him in to his seat, though he seemed confused and I must admit that I was a bit baffled by how to make the car seat belt work. Finally figured it out and he set off. I’m told his second day at school went much the same as his first. He was crying when I went to get him off the bus, but the bus driver said he had been just fine until they turned into our subdivision. Reminds me of our dog, Sammi, at the groomers. There was this floor to ceiling window in the reception area and they would always let her hang out in there because she was a lot of fun to watch. She would dance around and flirt with all the people walking by the window. We could see her doing this as we walked around the corner to come get her, but as soon as she spotted us it was all sad eyes and “how could you leave me here” looks. Drama queen.

Anyway, that Tuesday was the end of his first week because school was closed for teacher conferences that Thursday and Friday. BamBam had developed a sniffle and cough after his first experience at school, but he seemed fine other than that. We went to a local fish fry place on Sunday evening. Sparky went to the counter to order while I sat down with the kids. Bam Bam was squirmy and coughing a bit, so I picked him up and swayed with him. Then, just as Sparky and BeBop settled into the booth, BamBam had a huge coughing fit and threw up down the front of my sweatshirt. I shot Sparky a look and ran with BamBam for the car, fully believing that Sparky would know exactly what happened because, I mean really, who could have missed the noise and smell of the event. Apparently I was biased by my proximety, because Sparky had no idea what had happened, a fact I learned via text as I was undressing both BamBam and myself in the parking lot. Eventually we worked it out and made it home, but BamBam did not go to school the next day because of the incident. He seemed fine all day Monday, so I was ready to send him to school, but he decided to be awake and, require my presence, from roughly 11:30 Monday night to 2:00 am Tuesday morning. Bleary-eyed sleep deprivation caused me to cancel school for him that morning as well. At least until I realized that he was fine and I would have to entertain him all day again, at which point I called his teacher and asked if we could drop him off a little late. We got the green light for that and Sparky dropped him off on his way to work, getting to experience the same fun scenario I did when we went to visit his teacher the first time.

Our school district does half days on Wednesdays, which means no school for preschoolers. I think this is a mistake, but they don’t seem to care.

On Thursday, BamBam screamed bloody murder when he saw the school bus.  I ended up having to throw him over my sholder, carry him on, and sit him in the seat. Then he began the maneuver well known to parents of toddlers around the world where he thrusts out his pelvis with all of his might so that you can’t get the carseat straps around him to buckle them. I finally got his butt in the seat only to realize that the last kid to sit there weighed about five pounds and I would have to let the straps out, but I didn’t know how. I finally figured it out and got the wiggly, screaching toddler secured enough that I could disembark and wave goodbye to the bus. I feel like I need a nap just writing that and Sparky just asked me what I was doing that makes me keep sighing. I didn’t realize I was. *sigh*

BamBam’s acceptance of school was getting better, but it was pretty much lather, rinse, repeat on the bus experience for Friday and Monday. Early Tuesday morning, he woke me up at around 1:30 and wouldn’t go back to sleep until about 4:30. I can hear all you mothers of infants out there telling me that’s nothing. My only answer to that is to wait and see. Once you get used to your kids sleeping through the night, you lose the ability to function on three hours of sleep.  So, after we were all up and dressed on Tuesday morning, I sort of lost track of time and had to sprint out the door carrying him to the bus. I set him down on the first step and was surprised to notice that he wasn’t screaming. In fact, he was smiling. He walked up the steps and gave the bus driver a high five. Then he sauntered down the aisle like some sort of height-challenged politician, saying hi to all the kids as he passed by them looking for a seat. My head was spinning trying to figure out who this kid was and what he had done with my screaming banshee. I’m still not sure, but I hope he sticks around.

I was still shaking my head as I walked back in the house and heard the phone ringing. I chose not to answer it because I didn’t think my exhaustion-addled brain was up to making conversation with anyone. But then I heard the person on the answering machine identify herself as the SNAPS (Students Needing Autism Programming Services) coordinator and immideately snatched up the reciever. Developmental preschool meets Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:30 to 11:00. The SNAPS program meets Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 11:00 to 2:30. The kids have lunch with their SNAPS class and the student/teacher ratio is, at most, 2:1. At some point during the first few weeks of developmental preschool, the SNAPS coordinator goes into the classroom to observe new students and assess whether they would benefit from SNAPS. I had heard that kids with an actual autism diagnosis almost never get turned down for SNAPS, but I was nervous because I didn’t want BamBam to disprove that rule. Which is why I picked up the phone, even though I was pretty sure I couldn’t spell my own name at that point.

The SNAPS coordinator was very nice. She had been to observe BamBam the previous Tuesday (I’m so glad we decided to send him that day!) and was calling to offer him a place in the program. I jumped at it and she told me the particulars, the most important of which for me (because I had already found out a lot about the program beforehand) was that his first day would be January third. A fabulous birthday present for me. The only drawback is that they don’t allow the kids to opt out of any part of the program, meaning that I’ll have to work with BamBam’s music teacher to figure out a class he can attend because there’s not one right now. We’ll work something out, though. Because, as I’m sure those of you who read Miss Allison’s blog about BamBam already realize, she is almost as crazy about him as he is about her.

In the end, I’m kind of glad I wasn’t thinking clearly when the SNAPS coordinator called because it allowed me to ask some questions of her I don’t think I would have otherwise. They were mostly about BeBop and his options for next year. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize he would qualify for developmental preschool until he was almost five, at which point I also learned that the school district won’t let kids who are five into the preschool program. They have to go to kindergarten. BeBop’s birthday is at the end of May and I didn’t (still don’t) believe he would be ready for kindergarten. Luckily, BC Maven and I (with the help of our wonderful friend who I’m going to call Hostess for now because she is the most fabulous hostess I’ve ever met) found a reasonably priced private school (preschool through 4th grade) ten minutes from our house with a kindergarten prep program specifically designed for kids who needed more than preschool but weren’t quite ready for kindergarten. That’s where BeBop is this year and he absolutely loves it. I love it, too, but he’s going to go to public school by the first grade, so we need to figure out the best time to move him. Right now he’s in school 9 to 1 Monday through Friday. The school district offers half-day kindergarten to everyone, but you have to pay for full day kindergarten. That doesn’t bother me so much as the fact that so many people want full-day that there’s a lottery to get in.

So, in addition to worrying about whether it was best to send him to a new school (kids with autism do not like change AT ALL) for kindergarten or first grade, I was worried that he wouldn’t get in to full day kindergarten and would actually be in school less next year than he is this year. That would not be good for any of us.

I told the SNAPS coordinator about his situation and asked her if there was any option like SNAPS for kids in kindergarten. Much to my delight, she said that there is a program, called something like SNAPS+ or SNAPS Time, for kids in SNAPS that don’t get full-day kindergarten. The initial step for BeBop, since he would not be coming from the SNAPS program, would be to have him observed in his classroom environment this spring. And the person who would do that assessment is the SNAPS coordinator, so all I have to do is remind her in a few months and she’ll go do it. Yay!

She also suggested we go ahead and have him evaluated by the school district (I had already started that process anyway) so that he can start any services he qualifies for through the school district. They would take place at his home school, so he would get a head start in getting to know the teachers there. I would get a head start in getting to know them as well.

Then, at December bunko, I met a lady who is head of the PTA at our home school. She’s actually like a cheerleader for the school in her enthusiasm. She looked up the date and time for the kindergarten tour there and even offered to meet me at the flag pole any day at 3:30 so she could introduce me around. ‘So I got that going for me, which is nice.’

So, January will be kind of rocky as BamBam settles in to his new routine and I have some work ahead of me to get BeBop set up for next year, but I think February to June are going to be pretty awesome. I’m looking forward to that. We could use a little more awesome around here. In the meantime, I’m kind of with the boys on this one. Transitions suck.

Posted in Autism/Development, Musings

Babble

Two very dear friends have lost parents recently. We had dinner with one of those friends a few weeks ago and her husband made a comment about the fact that they’ll have to go through this three more times. Which made me think, “Oh shit, my parents were divorced and we’re quite close to my stepfather, so even though I lost my dad a few years ago, we still have to go through it four more times.”

We talked about our friend’s mom and about my dad and about hospital visits and picking up pieces. Tough stuff that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

We talked about the virtues of short hospital visits with breaks in-between vs lengthy bedside vigils. My take-away was that the short visits, at least with respect to parents, are better because it’s more likely that you will be able to connect with your loved one without slipping into pushing each other’s buttons. I’m tucking that thought away for future use, but it also has helped me deal with some guilt I had over my father’s death.

Dad was diagnosed with a disease called primary progressive aphasia about six years before his death. It’s a communication disorder that comes on gradually, so Dad slowly lost the ability to communicate. First the ability to find a particular word and eventually the ability to produce almost any meaningful words. Or to understand them.

Dad’s communication skills weren’t great to begin with, but as his ability decreased, his desire to communicate increased. When I called home from college (my parents didn’t separate until I was a senior in college), almost the first words out of my dad’s mouth would be, “Well, here’s your mother.” After his diagnosis, he wanted to talk to me on the phone. Here’s a typical conversation at about three years after the diagnosis:

Me: Hi Dad. How are you doing?

Dad: Uhm, okay. Where uhm daba live now?

Me: We moved to Seattle. We really like it here.

Dad: We (Dad and my stepmother) uhm went there uhm daba one time. Uhm supposed to uhm rain uhm lots, but dada didn’t uhm reruhm rain uhm whole time we uhm er were daba there. Hahahahahaha

Me: Yeah, Dad, that’s funny.

Dad: Where do uhm uhm…

Me: Where do we live now?

Dad: Yeah.

Repeat four or five times until my nerves were too frayed and raw to continue and I’d cut him off and hang up. Sometimes he’d vary the question and ask what my major was and I’d have to tell him that I graduated a long time ago. Or I’d just tell him it was biology or math. At least it was a glimpse of him, though, because that’s a question he used to ask me all the time: “What’s your major this week?”

And here’s a typical conversation at about four years after diagnosis:

Me: Hi Dad. How are you doing?

Dad: Uhm, rer, hum. Whe, whe, where?

Me: We’re living in Seattle now, Dad.

Dad: Dabadadaa humerumhum rain. Hahahahahahaha.

Me: Yeah, it does rain a lot, but it didn’t on your trip out here.

Repeat until I was too close to tears to continue.

October of 2004 was a little over six years after his diagnosis. Under pressure from various factions, chief among them my mother, I went to Colorado for a visit with my dad.  Though he was gaunt, he was surprisingly physically fit, still going for long bike rides and walks. He was also sliding into dementia and occasionally becoming violent. I didn’t get a true picture of it until I got there, though.

Here’s a story I wrote for a creative writing class not long after that trip. The class focused on writing for children, so I made the protagonist a senior in high school. My husband took the trip with me, but doesn’t appear in the story because, ew, she’s 17. I don’t have a sister, I have one brother. There was no phone call with my mom and the picture my dad was carrying around was actually of my nieces. Other than those things, it’s a pretty accurate account of that visit.

landofbabble

Dad’s episodes of violence increased so that, in December of 2004, my stepmother had to put him in a residential facility. As I mentioned before, Dad was still very physically fit. The only adult residential facility my stepmother could find was mostly comprised of elderly patients with Alzheimer’s. In January, Dad got angry about something and turned on one of his caretakers, putting him (the caretaker) and two residents in the hospital. (Not trying to excuse what he did, but I do want to tell you that they all made it out of the hospital with no residual physical effects, as far as I know.)

Dad also went to the hospital, the emergency room, in restraints. In the ER, they discovered that Dad could no longer swallow. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to leave the hospital any time soon, my stepmother became worried that she wouldn’t be able to take her planned trip to Europe to visit family there. So I told her to go on her trip and took 10 days off of work to go stay with him.

Which brings us to the guilt I spoke of above. I went to the hospital every day I was there save one – there was a blizzard that day and I didn’t feel safe driving in it. I may have learned to drive in Colorado, but I hadn’t driven in snow for more than ten years at that point. To be completely honest, I probably could have gone that afternoon, but I didn’t want to. I kept my visits brief, an hour or two at a time. Most of the time he didn’t know I was in the room. When he did, he often didn’t know it was me. I spent my time wetting down his dry, cracked lips. When the nurses weren’t around, I would take his hands out of the restraints. He was withering away at that point, couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds. He spent most of his time trying to get his Texas catheter (sort of like a condom with a tube in the tip) off. He was successful several times and I had to put it back on. Once when I was putting it back on, I got a phone call from one of the doctors I worked with at the time who had a question on a grant submission. I think it’s safe to say that was the most surreal conversation of my life.

The palliative care doctors came to see me while I was in the hospital with Dad. He still wasn’t swallowing and they would have to do something other than feed him through an IV soon. They considered putting in a GI tube, but didn’t recommend it because he was likely to just pull it out and that would cause new problems. They set up a meeting with my stepmother’s brother, who had power of attorney while she was gone, to discuss it and asked me to be there as well. I knew she would be concerned about it, so I called my stepsister to let her know about the meeting. She showed up adamant that we needed to do everything possible to get him well enough to go home. The doctors tried to explain to her that he wasn’t going to get better. Even if they could manage to feed him and get him to improve a very little physically, his mind was not coming back and he would end up in the same place very soon. She wasn’t having any of it. I told her about a conversation I had with Dad a few years before he got sick. Dad told me flat out that if he was ever incapacitated he wouldn’t want to continue living on life support. Then she ambushed me with a venomous tirade about how I couldn’t possibly know what he would want because I hadn’t been around enough, hadn’t participated enough to know him. I didn’t retaliate, which I have mixed feelings about. She obviously needed to get her anger and frustration out and she certainly did. I can’t fault her for feeling strongly about my dad. On the other hand, she had known my father for about eight years, at least four of which he was unable to communicate. I had some pretty strong feelings of anger and resentment of my own, but I kept them inside rather than spewing them all over her. In a room with four other people in it. I’m not sure which approach is healthier, probably somewhere in-between.

I feel guilty for not spending enough time with him while he was in the hospital at the end. After the conversation at the beginning of this post, however, I’m starting to look at it a little differently. He wasn’t lucid for most of the time I did sit with him, so that time wasn’t really for him. It was for me. And the fact that I spent a lot of time sitting in the car in the hospital parking lot weeping uncontrollably probably means that I had hit my limit.

I still feel guilty for not reaching out to him very much during the six years after his diagnosis. That could be a reason my stepsister’s words hit me so hard. He didn’t really reach out to me, either, though. He had his new family and they all seemed to be fine with that.

Posted in Musings, Writing | 1 Comment

Thanks

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things. First in my mind at the moment is that the kids aren’t sick. Yet. I’m hoping that will hold. Sparky is upstairs in bed with a fever. I’m downstairs with the kids sort of hovering around getting sick and wondering if it will hit me or not. So far the kids seem fine.

I am thankful that we have enough devices to go around. BeBop is playing one of his animal games on my phone and BamBam is playing Angry Birds on the iPad. Yes, my three-year-old (on Saturday) is addicted to Angry Birds. Got a problem with that? I don’t care. It’s kind of cute how he gets mad when he knocks everything over on the first try and doesn’t get to shoot the other birds.

I am not thankful that the boys are fighting. ‘Scuse me while I go break this up.

Okay, I’m back. Where was I? Oh yes, thanks.

I am thankful that BeBop is in a school he loves and he seems to be thriving there. I am thankful that BamBam starts developmental preschool on Monday. His teacher is AWESOME. I took BamBam to meet her this week and she said he strikes her as a really smart kid and when he figures out how to make the connections in his brain he’s just going to take off. Damn straight he is.

I am thankful for the three amazing boys I share my life with and all of our wonderful extended family. I am thankful for all of you who come here and support me. I am thankful for Miss Allison and all the boys’ therapists. I am thankful for the Betties. I am thankful for all of my smart and fabulous friends, by which I mean ALL of my friends.

I am thankful for you.

*UPDATE: I started this at around 9am. It’s now 9pm and the kids are asleep, still not sick, and I am still feeling okay. Sparky says he’s feeling a little better, though he still feels sick. Tomorrow is a new day. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment

Expectations

Expectations. Even when you think you don’t have them, you do. They’re there, lurking in the background. Waiting for their shot to bite you in the ass.

BamBam’s evaluation for developmental preschool through the district was ten days ago. It went well, everyone there found him irresistibly adorable and, more importantly, I walked away knowing that he would qualify for the special autism program as well as the developmental preschool. Done. Check. Now all I had to do was wait for him to turn three at the end of November and I would have a little time freed up in the mornings four days a week. Except one of those days I have to figure out how to keep him in his music class, so it will really be three mornings a week of free time. Oh, and it will be good for BamBam, too. It’s not all about me. I am pretty excited about that free time, though.

I didn’t think I had any expectations beyond that, which I guess is why I now have a sore ass with a chunk missing out of it. In hind sight, pun only a little intended, I think I was expecting the results of the evaluation to sort of wink at me, finding that, while BamBam is slightly delayed developmentally, he’s not that far behind and will catch up easily with the help of the school. I know that’s misguided and naive. I know it. I just didn’t know I was thinking it until the school psychologist called with the results on Friday.

Well, maybe I was a little aware. I had, after all, told a few of his therapists that I was afraid he wouldn’t qualify for the autism program.

But I was in no way prepared to learn that he scored in the 1st percentile cognitively.

BamBam came out of his OT session just as I wrote the above. His OT was gushing about how many words he was saying today. I told her I was really glad to hear that because of the cognitive score. She told me not to pay any attention to that. The score only means that he wouldn’t answer their questions and we know that’s because they don’t have a rapport with him. That’s true and I know it. It’s just hard to see that number. They couldn’t possibly be talking about my kid.

And here’s another thing: There are side-effects to sertraline (my antidepressant). I knew that, but I have been on it for a long time and never experienced any, so I assumed I wouldn’t. I guess that was because I was on such a low dose because I am certainly experiencing them now. The funnest part is that they subside for a few days until I up the dose and then they come back with a vengeance. I looked up the possible symptoms and I have almost all of them. Especially the head pain. Right now it feels like someone is trying to shove my left eye under my right eye.

___________________________________________

Well, that was Monday and it’s now Thursday, so I’m thinking I need to get on with it and post this.

I’m feeling better physically and emotionally. The side effects seem to be waning and several therapists have now told me that BamBam’s cognitive score is skewed because he wasn’t familiar with the people administering the tests. He’ll get the services he needs and that’s what matters. I never did all that well on standardized tests either.

While I am feeling better, it’s not enough to make me go up and fix the abrupt transition from BamBam to drug side-effects. I think you guys will get it and just follow along as is. That’s my expectation, anyway. 🙂

And because you are so cool that way, here are some pictures of the boys from Halloween:

BeBop was Zeke the Zebra (a ZooPhonics character) for his school party.

Zeke with his backpack on his way to school.

BeBop and BamBam as Diego and Baby Jaguar respectively.

Posted in Autism/Development, Musings | 5 Comments

More Kaylee and Then Some

Things are still kind of rough, but getting better. Kids time in therapy increased last week and will do so again in the coming week. And that takes a toll on them and me. I didn’t have the energy to blog this week, but thought I would stop by and post some more of the backstory I’ve been writing.

I’ve been having trouble getting into my antagonist’s head, so I decided to write a scene where she meets my protagonist for the first time. First I wrote it from the protagonist’s point of view, then I re-wrote it from the antagonist’s point of view. Seeing Genevieve through Kaylee’s eyes first seemed to help me access her. I’ll post both versions of the scene and you can tell me what you think. I haven’t edited these.

Same caveat: no criticism, even the constructive kind. Please tell me anything you like, though.

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Here’s the scene from Kaylee’s POV:

When Genevieve Larson walked into my lab, she seemed almost as surprised by me as I was by her. Tall and curvy with long flowing dark auburn hair and the most piercing green eyes I’ve ever seen. She looked about as much like a scientist as I sometimes feel.

So I wasn’t very surprised to see Max Crawley creep in after her and introduce her as an auditor from the FDA. “Genevieve and I were going over the records from the dotixifen trial and she felt it would be helpful to her to know more about how the drug is made.” He tore his eyes away from Genevieve’s breasts for a quick look at me, then leaned against the lab bench and let them revert to their preferred resting place.

Genevieve and I looked at each other a moment and she smiled. I could certainly see why Max was so dazed. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to say anything else, Genevieve cleared her throat. She gently stroked his arm and said, “I know you’re very busy, Max, and I wouldn’t dream of taking up a second more of your valuable time. Why don’t I ask Kaylee my questions and meet you back in your office when I’m done.” Max looked deflated, but there was no way for him to argue. It hadn’t been a request.

When he was gone, Genevieve turned back to me. “I could really use a coffee, how about you? I’m buying.” I grabbed my lab notebook and we headed downstairs to the coffee cart. We had a pretty good one in our building; it’s important to keep your lab rats caffeinated. We sat at a small table in the inner courtyard. As she took a sip of her black coffee, I opened my lab notebook and started to talk about the drug for the trial she was working on, but she waved her hand at me.

“I don’t really need to know anything about that,” she said. “I just needed an excuse to get away from Max for a while.” Now, that I understood. “He was talking about the research you do in the lab; I saw an opportunity and I took it.”

So we sat and drank our coffee, not saying much past the usual pleasantries of coffee preference and marital status. We each already knew what the other did for a living. Then Genevieve gazed at me over her cup and said, “So tell me about your research.” She seemed to sense my discomfort with small talk and had switched to a subject that might lead to an actual conversation. “Max mentioned some neuro project you’re working on?”

“He told you about that?”

“Oh, just that it was some sort of truth serum or something. Is that right?”

I sat up a little straighter. “Well, I’m combining some of the compounds that have been used as truth serums and tweaking them to diminish some of the anesthetic effect while maintaining the lowered inhibitions.”

Genevieve laughed. “Wow. Is this a side project for the CIA?”

I smiled with her, “No, although that’s sort of where the idea started. It’s actually for autism.”

“Autism? I thought autistic kids already told the truth. Isn’t that one of the problems? That they’ll just come out and tell you that you’re fat?”

It was my turn to laugh. “Some do, yeah. I’m thinking more of their non-verbal communication, though.”

“I see,” she said. “You mean eye contact, body position, personal space, that sort of thing, right?”

“Exactly. So this drug will help them look you in the eye when they tell you you’re fat.”

She laughed out loud at that, but then a quiet settled between us. She sat forward and crossed her arms on the table. “But those types of drugs are administered intravenously. How would you manage that with kids who don’t like to be touched.”

I leaned in as well. “Not all autistic people react that way to touch, but I see your point. And nobody likes to get a shot, right?” I started talking faster. I couldn’t help it; this was my favorite part of my idea. “So I aerosolized it.” Genevieve opened her mouth, but I didn’t wait for her question. “I put it in an inhaler so they can just breathe it in.”

“And it works?”

“Sure, it’s just like an asthma inhaler. You just…”

“No, I mean the drug. It works?”

“Oh. That. I don’t know.” I sat back in my chair. “I may never know the answer to that.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I can only test in mice and the little buggers aren’t cooperating. I can verify that it doesn’t make them lethargic or hyperactive. I can show that it doesn’t have an acute, adverse effect on their cardiac function, too. But I can’t figure out how to measure differences in their social behavior.”

“Ah, I see. If you can’t show that the mice are making friends easier, no one will let you try it on kids. Not worth the risk. Yes, that is a problem.” She looked thoughtful for a moment, then asked, “Just out of curiosity, how do you administer it to the mice? It’s not like they can use an inhaler.”

“No. I use something that’s kind of like a bug bomb. I tent the cage and activate the device, so the compound surrounds the mouse and it inhales the drug.”

“Sort of like tear gas.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So, you could do several at once.” I must have given her a confused look because she clarified, “Several mice, I mean.”

“I suppose. I don’t, though. I just do one and then monitor the interaction with a control mouse that hasn’t been gassed.”

“Interesting,” Genevieve said, but apparently not all that interesting because she then looked at her watch and said it was time to get back to work with Max. She stood and said, “It was a pleasure to meet you, Kaylee. I hope to see you again very soon.” With that she walked away, leaving me to gather our trash and throw it away.

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 And here’s the scene from Genevieve’s POV:

I first met Kaylee Finch in her lab at the Carrion Research Center, but that wasn’t the first I’d heard of her. I must say she was prettier than I thought she’d be. Not your typical lab geek, but fresh and wholesome in a stomach turning sort of way. I would have to switch up my usual tactics, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the daughter of an arms dealer and a French show girl. Piece of cake.

And I could get started if only Max would shut the hell up. I smiled at Kaylee to establish a connection and then cleared my throat to get Max’s eyes off my cleavage. I caressed his arm in a false promise of things to come and said, “I know you’re very busy, Max, and I wouldn’t dream of taking up a second more of your valuable time. Why don’t I ask Kaylee my questions and meet you back in your office when I’m done.” He turned back from the door to look at me. I winked at him so that he wouldn’t sulk, in case I needed him for something later.

I looked around the room and quickly determined I wouldn’t get anywhere with Kaylee on her turf. “I could really use a coffee, how about you?” She looked startled. Off-balance was good, but I needed her on my side for now, so I smiled again and added, “I’m buying.”

I put our drinks on my corporate card to expense later and steered her toward a small table in a quaint little courtyard. Much better than the lab, which is all sharp angles and glass. This was more neutral ground. Kaylee started to open her notebook to get right down to business. You can take the girl out of the lab, but…

I waved a hand at her, “I don’t really need to know anything about that,” I arranged my face in an open look to suggest I was ready for some talk just between us girls. “I just needed an excuse to get away from Max for a while. He was talking about the research you do in the lab; I saw an opportunity and I took it.” There. True and misleading at the same time. My specialty.

I studied her as we drank our coffee, trying to decide the best tack to take to get the information I needed. She was awkward, but with a sense of charm I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I decided to just take a direct approach. I gazed at her over my cup and said, “So tell me about your research. Max mentioned some neuro project you’re working on?”

“He told you about that?”

“Oh, just that it was some sort of truth serum or something. Is that right?”

Kaylee seemed to sit taller, now more in her comfort zone. Good, point for me. “Well, I’m combining some of the compounds that have been used as truth serums and tweaking them to diminish some of the anesthetic effect while maintaining the lowered inhibitions.”

Bingo, exactly what I wanted to hear about. Now to encourage her without seeming too intense. I laughed and said, “Wow. Is this a side project for the CIA?”

Kaylee beamed, “No, although that’s sort of where the idea started. It’s actually for autism.”

“Autism?” Kaylee seemed so proud of her altruism that I decided to use it to encourage her. I told her what I really thought when Max first mentioned the purpose of this project.   “I thought autistic kids already told the truth. Isn’t that one of the problems? That they’ll just come out and tell you that you’re fat?”

Kaylee laughed. “Some do, yeah. I’m thinking more of their non-verbal communication, though.”

“I see,” I said. Now to show her I knew some things as well. “You mean eye contact, body position, personal space, that sort of thing, right?”

“Exactly. So this drug will help them look you in the eye when they tell you you’re fat.”

Now for the kill shot, so to speak. I sat forward and crossed my arms on the table to invite her into my confidence. “But those types of drugs are administered intravenously. How would you manage that with kids who don’t like to be touched.”

Kaylee accepted my invitation and leaned in as well. I’d shown her I care about her people. She said, “Not all autistic people react that way to touch, but I see your point. And nobody likes to get a shot, right?” She started talking faster. Wow, she really did care about these people. “So I aerosolized it.” I started to speak, but she was on a roll. “I put it in an inhaler so they can just breathe it in.”

“And it works?” I was starting to get excited myself.

“Sure, it’s just like an asthma inhaler. You just…”

It was all I could do to stay seated and not scream at her. “No, I mean the drug. It works?”

“Oh. That. I don’t know. I may never know the answer to that.”

Shit. I tried to keep my face neutral, “Why is that?”

“Because I can only test in mice and the little buggers aren’t cooperating. I can verify that it doesn’t make them lethargic or hyperactive. I can show that it doesn’t have an acute, adverse effect on their cardiac function, too. But I can’t figure out how to measure differences in their social behavior.”

“Ah, I see. If you can’t show that the mice are making friends easier, no one will let you try it on kids. Not worth the risk. Yes, that is a problem.” that was a setback, but not a huge one for my purposes. It was derived from truth serums and should still work that way. I could test that in the field, but what I really needed to know was, “Just out of curiosity, how do you administer it to the mice? It’s not like they can use an inhaler.”

“No. I use something that’s kind of like a bug bomb. I tent the cage and activate the device, so the compound surrounds the mouse and it inhales the drug.”

“Sort of like tear gas.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So, you could do several at once.” I was losing her, so I added, “Several mice, I mean.”

“I suppose. I don’t, though. I just do one and then monitor the interaction with a control mouse that hasn’t been gassed.”

“Interesting.” that was all I was going to get out of Kaylee. I glanced at my watch and told her it was time to get back to work with Max. I stood and said, “It was a pleasure to meet you, Kaylee. I hope to see you again very soon.” I walked away from the table already devising a way to get my hands on her formula. Without a trial, she was never going to publish it. I also didn’t believe she would willingly share it without a good reason. She had mentioned a husband in medical school. I was sure I could convince him to help me find that reason.

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Thoughts?

Posted in Writing | 2 Comments

Stuffy Head and a Bonus, Too

My head is stuffy, which tends to make my brain fuzzy, but I wanted to stop by and tell you that I’m okay. The increased dosage of depression meds is helping just enough to make me realize what bad shape I was in before the increase. Some of that may also have to do with the sinus infection I’m trying to ward off. Did I mention that my head is full of snot?

I told my therapist I had increased the dose from 50mg to 100mg and she was surprised I had only been on 50 until now. She said she doesn’t know of anyone who got any relief  at such a low dose. Awesome. I guess it’s a good thing I’m planning to increase the dosage again next week.

One thing that did not surprise her was how long it took me to realize the extent of my depression. I try to manage and anticipate everything in my environment and I’m almost always last on my list of priorities. Also, I could see a time when things would get better, so I just put my head down to push on through. It didn’t occur to me that there was something I could do to feel better now. Or that if I depleted my reserves to nothing that I would no longer be able to manage my environment at all.

I know there was a time, not very long ago either, when I was able to exercise, eat a healthy diet, and manage my stress better. But then push came to shove and I reverted to my old ways. I can get it together again. Theoretically. Here’s the thing, though. I know I have the capacity, but I’m afraid I’ll never have the focus to do it again.

There’s something in my nature that makes me a black-and-white thinker. Not about everything. I’m very tolerant of other people’s beliefs and opinions, provided they in turn are tolerant of others – I have no patience for intolerance. But when it comes to myself or my relationships with other people, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl.

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I wrote all of the above last Thursday and intended to post it that night after I’d written a little more, but I didn’t get around to writing it. Reading back through, I realize I want to do several posts on the all-or-nothing thing. I think it’s a pivotal hurdle for me. A recurring theme at the very least.

So I’ll come back to that, but for now I will tell you that I’ve started writing again. Our assignment in class over last week and this week is to write backstory for at least three of our characters. I procrastinated on it all last week. I haven’t written fiction in such a long time. But on Sunday morning I managed to get started. I wrote a scene for my protagonist. In it, she’s a freshman in college meeting the man she will marry for the first time. She divorces him two years before the book even starts, so this clearly won’t be in the book, it’s just for me to get a better feel for the characters.

And because you all have given me such unconditional kindness and support, I’m going to post it here for you to read if you want. One caveat: no criticism, even the constructive kind. Save that for when the first draft of the book is finished. Rip it apart then to fix it.

One thing I’ve learned, in class and through personal experience, is that the writing process at this stage is very fragile. It doesn’t take much to kill the creativity during the first draft. That’s one of the reasons people say to write the first draft as fast as you can, no matter how crappy it seems. Just get it down on paper (or computer screen) so that maybe you can out run your internal editor and all her snarky comments about your stilted dialogue or the gaping holes in your plot.

So, if I’ve mixed up character names, just go with it. If you find a typo, don’t tell me. I already marked where I changed the point of view from third person to first person and I didn’t bother to change it because it doesn’t matter. It’s not going in the book anyway. It’s just for me. And now you.

Oh, and if it totally sucks, don’t say anything at all.

But do feel free to tell me anything you like about it. Anything at all.

Kaylee Meets Richard

Kaylee sat in Victor’s Coffee Shop drinking in the atmosphere. As a Freshman at Freiburg University, she shouldn’t have known about this place. Victor keeps it notoriously non-trendy so as not to attract students. The professors who frequent the place don’t want to mingle with them and, besides, Victor can’t stand the sight of their fresh, earnest faces. Except mine. Possibly because it’s not so earnest. Or it could be that I’m just grandfathered in because I’ve been coming here forever. Or at least as long as I can remember. At first with my parents, both professors at FU, and then on my own as I grew older and their sabbaticals grew more frequent.

(Okay, so this morphed into first person without me noticing. Huh.)

I was sitting in my regular spot, in the corner by the bathrooms. Hey, it’s close to the barista area so Victor can keep me stocked in mandarin mochas. Plus, it’s a good place to stay out of the way. I can see people as they come in, but they can’t see me unless they’re looking. Not that my math professor mother or European history professor father ever came looking for me, but you never know.

Anyway, that’s where I was sitting when Richard Barber walked in.  I’d seen him in my biology class, of course. You couldn’t miss Richard. It’s like his chiseled face is magnetized or something. You’re just compelled to look at it and can’t manage to pull your eyes away. His eyes could bore into your soul and manage to simultaneously convey caring and heat and compassion and confidence and sex and…OH GOD! I think I had an orgasm just looking at him. And then the edges of his mouth turned up into a grin. He’d seen me staring at him and…and everything. I jerked my eyes back to my biology text book and tried to concentrate on making the floor open up and swallow me whole. When that failed, I hoped he would at least have the decency to take his coffee and go.

He didn’t.

“I feel like we should share a cigarette or something.”

“I don’t smoke,” I said, feeling my face heat up. I glanced up at him, making sure my eyes didn’t go past the top button on his shirt. Unfortunately, I could see the outline of some very nice pecs and my eyes got stuck. As I sat there, mesmerized by his chest, he leaned down and looked directly into my eyes. My face went from toasty to broiling in zero point two seconds.

He grinned again and said, “Me neither.” Then he pulled out the chair across from me and sat down. “So, how do you like Koogan’s biology class?”

“How do you know I’m in that class?” I’d never seen him so much as glance in my direction. Not that I was watching him or anything. Much.

He raised his eyebrows and nodded toward my text book.

“Oh. Right. Biology.” I cleared my throat and said, “Well, what Dr. Koogan lacks in field experience, he makes up for in the lab. The genetic theories he discussed in the last lecture were pretty basic, but I hope he’ll take the time to go into more detail on the current sequencing methods they’re using for the…” I could see his eyes starting to glaze over, so I stopped.

He managed to focus on my face again and nodded. “Uh-huh. I was thinking something more like what Dr. Koogan lacks in style, he makes up with his complete lack of personality.”

I snorted orange-flavored coffee through my nose. Ouch. My heart stopped as I saw him take a napkin from the table and begin to wipe the coffee from his sleeve. Oops. Well, it was nice talking to you, Richard.

Except he didn’t leave. He took a deep breath and let it out while staring at the table, but then he looked back up at me and smiled. This one was tighter than the grin, but it was still a smile. He said, “Seriously, I’ve fallen asleep in two of his lectures already this week.”

“Oh,” I said, deflating steadily as I  realized why this handsome, charming guy was still talking to me after I had just upped his dry-cleaning bill. And what kind of college student wears shirts that need to be dry-cleaned anyway? “You want to borrow my notes.”

“Oh no,” he said. Birds began to sing in my head. So loud that I almost missed his follow-up comment that he didn’t think he could read my handwriting. “I was thinking you could just give me a copy once you’ve typed them up.”

“Sure.” Why not? At least I’d get to talk to the guy again, right?

And I did more than just talk to him. I married the guy and worked all hours in a laboratory to put him through medical school. But that was before he stole my research and left me for a woman I worked with named Genevieve.

Now he’s back in town and wants to meet me at Victor’s to talk. Oh, we’ll talk all right, but this time I’ve got an agenda of my own. I don’t want money or a thank you and I certainly don’t want that smarmy scumbag back. No, Genevieve can have him; they deserve each other. What I want is an apology. And he’s going to give it to me.

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