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What I Do Here

If you are here for genealogy, try this: http://walkitout.livejournal.com/tag/genealogy

I write about whatever I am thinking about. It helps me think about it and remember it later. Because I live far away from many of my longest term friends, we don't always get to participate in each other's daily life; sharing my blog is a second-best.

My interests change over time, but at any given time, I am usually very intensely interested in a few things. This might look more organized and logical than it really is. I have two children with autism spectrum diagnoses, and they seem completely normal for my extended family; if I were a kid growing up today, I'd have a diagnosis, too. Try to keep that in mind, if you're trying to figure out what kind of person would write the kinds of things I write.

_My Life on the Road_, Gloria Steinem

Steinem has been such an important figure in the world for my entire life, it is a little odd reading her memoir. It's a great memoir. She has a friendly voice, without being verbose or overly chatty. She touches upon the meta-decisions of what to put in a/this memoir and why, without it feeling like she's avoiding engaging with the material.

It is easy to fill in the parts of another person's life that we have no knowledge, direct or otherwise, of with assumptions based on our own experience and the experience of other people we know well. I think anyone who has a decent smattering of experience through time and/or travel or a wide network of diverse kin knows this is a mistake, often a serious mistake, but it is how our brains work. So the book presents many layers of shock right from the beginning. It's hard to imagine growing up driving around in a car with one's parents and sister. The reader might think, but what about school? And that question is answered, but not really in the way you might expect. This was unschooling at its more extreme end. It does put a whole new spin on statements she later makes about how she didn't learn about something-or-other or they don't teach that in school. Well, over and above the fact that every school in this country does things a little differently, and then that changes from year to year and Steinem can't be considered a youthful person by any stretch any more -- she didn't really go to school. So how would she know? I assume it is an expression that she picked up.

She doesn't feel sorry for herself for having parents who clearly suffered from significant mental health issues. It's not clear she really grasps that her father did -- she may still be filing his oddities under that catchall heading, "eccentricity". When she expresses her anguish over not being with him when he dies, it's also completely unclear how much of that experience she has unpacked (my answer? Probably not a lot, either that or she declined to share, which is her prerogative).

She also tends not to blame anyone for, really, much of anything. She gets in her digs -- and more power to her! -- but she delivers the payload and moves on. Reading this book helps answer a basic question I've had about people who engage in community organizing on a national scale. How on earth do these people maintain a home life? In Steinem's case, she didn't bother for a really long time.

In answer to related questions you might have, nope, didn't file taxes for a long time, either, didn't save for retirement, etc. She's a really representative character of the mid 20th century in a lot of ways.

All that said, I really loved the book and the book did nothing to tarnish my sense of her as one of my heroes. It gave me a lot of detail on what her life had been like, and her perspective on the many, many, many other activists and organizers she has worked with. That was really wonderful actually -- even if you have no interest in Steinem, Steinem's connectedness to the larger community of activism and organizing is just amazing.

We had to delay book group discussion due to weather, so I may come back next month and edit this.
A. had her half day. I pre-emptively took a nap in the morning, because I was feeling like I might be getting a cold and I had a headache.

T.'s sitter arrived early (half day for her, too) so she and A. went to Julie's Place where the sitter got one of the servers who is unusually brusque even for Julie's Place. I know the one she means -- there's so little point in getting up set about it, but it is a little frustrating, I know. A. ate, tho, so that's something.

T. forgot his glasses at school (I'm posting this belatedly and backdating -- we won't figure out he forgot his glasses at school until the next day).

I had a 1 mile walk by myself and a 1 mile walk with M. since I had turned A. over to the sitter. It turned out nice.

The play date was canceled due to illness on the other family's side. Play therapy did happen, which was fun. We played Uno Attack. A. wanted me to make chocolate peanut butter pebbles (melted chocolate and peanut butter with mini marshmallows rolled in it then cooled), a recipe she saw on the bag. The recipe called for using the stove for melting and using the whole bag of marshmallows. I balked and used the microwave and a much, much smaller quantity of everything. They weren't bad, altho I like rice krispie treats better for roughly the same amount of effort.
I wanted to blog about this before I forgot. I walked to the bank rather than do the 3 mile loop again. I figured I saw M. doing it the other day so presumably the sidewalks were mostly plowed. And they were, indeed, mostly plowed.

On the way back from the bank (I needed cash for T.'s hair dye job which will be later this afternoon -- he gets a streak of color put in that looks cool. All his idea, except the selection of who does it, which the babysitter came up with. I think they are going to an Aveda salon in Hudson but I could be wrong), I saw the line of cars on Mass Ave, some exiting the schools, some just caught up in the jam of cars exiting the schools. You know how you see people doing their hair, makeup, maybe running an electric shaver around their chin when stuck in traffic? I saw a guy combing his 'stache. That was awesome.

ETA: It was T.'s half day. I picked him up and took him to Starbucks for hot chocolate and coffee, then it was off to gymnastics. After that, we went to Whole Foods. Later, he went and got his red stripe put in his hair again with the sitter.

A. has a winter break reading assignment instead of homework this week/next week. She was super excited to work on it, so we read a bunch of a couple travel guides that I had been meaning to go through with her and/or T. Then we went to McDonald's for dinner.
I went on the 3 mile loop, which was probably an error because the Central Street sidewalks are not plowed yet so I was walking in the road. And that's not a very nice road to walk on, in terms of car frequency and driver awareness/behavior. Then I walked with M., and did the 1 mile walk. P., the dog, went with us and we still did the whole thing despite the cold.

I finished _My Life on the Road_, review may or may not follow for a while; book group was moved to first week of next month.

I picked up the photograph I bought R. for the holidays and which we took in to the framers. It turned out really great. It is wide, so I put it in the back seat and seat belted it in on both sides. The trip home was uneventful.

R. got purple tulips and a second batch of purple flowers for upstairs. Very nice! M. got my family a very pretty card that she drew her lady in a long dress in. I feel loved.
Today, neither kid had school. Fortunately, we knew this early enough to turn off alarms and sleep in. So that was something. Also, my breakfast with A. was canceled, which I would have had to do with the kids home anyway. And my book group was canceled, which was not unexpected. The kids and I had lunch at Julie's. R. went to work. The kids were mostly okay, altho a little bored.

I asked R. to put more wiper fluid into my car's reservoir -- it was at least a quart down.

I had a nice conversation with K. on the phone. And two phone conversations with my sister. The kids and I went to the grocery store. R. took T. to CVS to buy gum. He has been chewing on his shirt collars again; the gum was discussed with his teacher as a possible redirect.

I'm _really_ hoping things will be a bit more back to normal tomorrow.
T. and I went to CVS and the bank to run a couple errands before the snow hit completely. He did not have track today because it was canceled, but we were happy to learn that track continues through the end of March, which is exciting.

I'm reading Gloria Steinem's memoir, _My Life On the Road_, which I'm now halfway through and it is amazing. You should read it. I don't care who you are. I don't care whether you even like to read. This book is a blast. I bet it is even better as an audiobook, so if you don't read but can listen, you have an option.

Organizers like Steinem and Obama are wonderful to read, because they personalize everything they are trying to make a general point about, and they almost always do it from a The Joke's On Me perspective. So if you try to go, but even I know better than that, you sound churlish. If you try to go, but that never really happens to anyone, you sound heartless. And if you act like the whole thing is irrelevant, you are only illustrating their point Far Better Than They Ever Could (TM). If you read it and see how the magic is done, well, good for you! Go forth and do more of the same, and you can read the book for tips and tricks.

But if you are a person of good will, it's just an amazing stream of stories making some really insightful points about some extremely sticky situations that are all too common and worth working to mitigate, reduce or even eradicate. I'm really hoping the weather doesn't kill the possibility of a book group discussion about this tomorrow.

I thawed ground beef to make T. another batch of taco meat.
T. and I went to Whole Foods. I've given up trying to manage the shopping list in Alexa any more, because we just wind up clashing. So he's now in charge of identifying the next items to by and deleting them when they go into the cart. He's so helpful!

R. took T. to basketball. That's his last basketball outing for a while, because end of season and travel. Sad, but at least track is continuing. R. dropped T. off to meet us at Solomon Pond to see the Lego Batman movie in 3D. It was comprehensively awesome, altho I wonder what the hell the kids got out of all the Sauron, King Kong, Godzilla, Voldemort, Daleks, etc. jokes. Or, for that matter, the whole tortured loner pretending to be Super Amazingly Cool theme. I had a blast. I'm looking forward to watching it on iTunes in a few months. Over and over and over again.

We went to McDonald's after. The kids had happy meals which had stereoscopic batman stuff. Kinda fun. Altho weird that stereoscopic cards have moved so far down the value chain at this point they are now free toys with a kids meal at the golden arches.
Today, I took T. to an audiology appointment. His hearing is fine. We are still trying to figure out whether it makes sense to do the auditory processing test. When I get the report from the audiologist, I will consult with his speech/language therapist at the school and get an understanding from her whether she thinks there might be a useful recommendation that could come out of the more complex testing. If even a positive result produces no actionable advice, what's the point? (His current school placement does as much or more than most recommendations that might come out of the test: sound treatment, fewer people in the room, one on one instruction from an appropriate distance, etc.)

I had hoped to somehow wedge a phone call in with K., but it didn't happen. I also missed a call with A. earlier in the week. It's been one of those weeks. I think K. has a really bad cold. So does my walking partner M., which is (part of) why no walk today.

We stopped at Subway to get lunch on the way back to dropping T. off at school. I eventually called S. to describe the issues we have been having with one of the kids' therapists (<-- look, anonymization!) and what we have been doing and asked her for advice. She's going to do a little investigation. She confirmed that we will not have to deal with this therapist after this school year, which is in itself a pretty comprehensive solution.

After the call, I decided that 4 p.m. was not too early for a drink. Then A., R. and I all went to Julie's Place for dinner, and I had another drink. But I wasn't driving.
The snow doesn't look too bad yet, but it's supposed to keep going. It'll be interesting to see if the predicted foot of snow materializes or not. R. put the garbage and recycling out last night; I checked the account this morning and they have reschedule pickup to Friday.

I emailed the play therapist to say, look, let's not risk it.

Since the day has barely started for me, I'll probably update this later.

ETA: I cleaned three bathrooms (not the tubs and shower, and only one of the three floors). I made a variety of meals and a two layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I had a lovely phone call with J. And I read a novel. T. was bored and missed school. A. and R. went up to the library and played Portal on the PC.
Wednesday is T.'s half day. I forgot his phone when I went to pick him up. So we went back to the house to go get it, then he had hot chocolate at Acton's Starbucks instead of the one at The Point in Littleton. Nothing weird happened this time ... but I didn't order anything. Seems like everytime I order/go to the Acton Starbucks, something weird happens, so I didn't order anything.

I had a phone call with some advisors, as one will be moving on and the other will be taking over my account. No one is new per se, so this was a very pro forma sort of call.

We tried to go to Whole Foods, but part of our route was closed so we wound up going to Roche Bros instead. As T.'s gymnastics teacher noted, it was a zoo -- what my husband would call a full french toast emergency. Everyone goes to the store to buy eggs, milk and bread when the weather forecast looks grim.

In this case, the forecast was certain enough that schools for both kids actually pre-emptively canceled school by early evening.

A. and I had a playdate at the house with the S. family. The girls all went up to play in A.'s room, so S. (the mother) and I sat at the dining table and chatted. She is such a pleasant woman in every respect. We compared appendectomy stories (A.'s, mine, and it turns out she has one, too).

After the playdate, A. and I went to Julie's Place for dinner. I had the whole clams dinner, which isn't always available, but is usually good when they have it. It was this time. R. joined us.

I turned off alarms before going to sleep.

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