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Something Went Wrong

My son wasn’t even in pre-school when I first suspected something. The combination of an astute day care worker and my own experiences with my first cousin led me to have him screened early. I’ve never cared what label was applied. The labels are meaningless. My son is not a label. Unfortunately these descriptors are necessary in order to get him the services he’s needed. And modifications. And adaptations. His first two years in St Paul’s early childhood special ed program were just the thing. But when it came time for kindergarten we weren’t offered enough support. He was just going to be tossed into a classroom with 30 typical kids and one teacher. Nope. So I found a great charter school. It wasn’t so conveniently located to our home but we made it work. When our time there ended we made the messy transition back to public school. His charter school IEP was written in a way that made it difficult for his new school to interpret. But they tried. And they worked with us to re-write it. And he made so many gains he was moved out of an autism-only setting to general ed classrooms. Fast forward to this year. I made the choice to move us to another city - and a new school district - for high school. It seemed like the best choice. Closer to his Dads, a school with a later start time and a good reputation, within walking distance from our new home. But it’s been an anxiety-filled obstacle course trying to get my son the help he needs. The staff seem overwhelmed and the program understaffed. It’s hard to strike the balance of advocating for our kids without turning the educators against them and making a bad situation worse. Recently I met parents of other students in the same autism program and we have similar concerns, so we are voicing them together. Hopefully we can collectively make some positive changes for our kids.

Five random good things on this gloomy Monday:

It’s nearly October. My son’s Halloween costume is coming together nicely. Now I need to think of one for myself. Or a group or themed Halloween costume, which is something we try to do annually at Clockwork. For some reason my son’s school is closed on Halloween so I’ll have to convince him to come to work with me during the day to see everyone dressed up. And that night I’m actually going to a show. Generally I don’t go out on Halloween. I like to stay home and hand out candy to the trick or treaters. But seminal shoegaze band Slowdive is on tour and playing here for the first time in forever so of course I picked up tickets. And only realized what a nightmare the Warehouse District is going to be. On a Friday night. That is also Halloween. Groan.

Artist-Designed Mini Golf at the Walker Art Center

The Man Who Sold the World

Today I have Bowie on the brain, even more than usual. David Bowie, the patron saint of gender bending, is not just one of the most influential musicians of all time. Bowie is also an accomplished painter, photographer, actor, collector and more.

David Bowie Is presents the first retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive—including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades—are brought together for the first time.

The retrospective opens today at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and a documentary about the exhibit is screening at select theaters tonight only. Alas, I can’t make it to the theater tonight due to prior parenting obligations. But this gives me an extra excuse to make it to Chicago sometime this Fall.

Five more good things:

Ever so slowly I have been recovering from this sinus infection. Two plus weeks of sickness, combined with being exceptionally busy. Friday night we made it to the Turf Club, again, for Old Familiar Chime: A Guitar Festival. It was lovely but exhausting. Saturday there were multiple shows happening around town featuring friends’ bands but I was in no shape for any of them. Instead we took my son mini golfing at the Walker Art Center in the afternoon and stayed in to watch Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. I adore Tilda Swinton so much. And she had great chemistry with Tom Hiddleston. Sunday we overdid it a bit. Met up with friends to sample the new brunch menu at the Turf Club (again with the Turf), and amble around St Paul Open Streets for a spell. We didn’t have much time to rest before my son’s birthday party out in the suburbs at SkyZone, an indoor trampoline park. A bonus perk? My son can go back to SkyZone for free whenever he wants for the next month. And I scored some free SkyZone aerobics passes. Oof. My back still hurts from Sunday.

In the clown lounge with Wendy

Staying Ahead of the Narrative

Next week the Minneapolis chapter of Girls in Tech will be screening the documentary Miss Representation. The trailer is a bit hard to stomach so I can only imagine what the full length film will be like. But this is a topic that needs to be addressed. The portrayal of women in the media has bothered me for as long as I can remember. I’ve read a few reviews that attack this documentary for not being perfect - for not being this or too much of that. But we need to start somewhere to get the discussion going in earnest.

Five good things for this Wednesday:

In my previous post I mentioned that last Sunday saw our area’s Open Streets in Minneapolis but this Sunday is another one - in my former stomping grounds of Saint Paul. There will be plenty to do and see, including a performance by our friends in International Novelty Gamelan. And so far the weather forecast is looking mighty fine.

Shonen Knife

The Wall of Forever

On this day every year I find myself dwelling on the DEEP THOUGHTS. Or just plain sappy and schmaltzy and maudlin ones. Because my life changed forever on September 15th, 1999. In ways I would never have been able to anticipate. And today my son is fifteen years old. Wowzers.

Five random yet somewhat related things:

  • Bittersweet. “When artist Ania Dabrowska started working with Diab Alkarssifi, a homeless Lebanese man in London, she made a startling discovery. He was a compulsive photographer with a hoard of unseen pictures from his homeland.” A lost Lebanon - in pictures. I’m not sure if my family has any photo stashes like that from Lebanon but I should find out.
  • This is pretty neat. Every Ikea Catalog Cover Since 1951. The year of my birthday, 1973, is pretty weird. Puffy denim floor rolls? I don’t know man.
  • Tomorrow night we’re seeing Shonen Knife at the Turf Club. They are an amazing all-female pop punk band from Japan and this will be their 1000th show together. Their first having been in 1981. I’ve only seen one of those performances and it was some time in the 90s, before my son was born.
  • Peter S. Beagle wrote one of my favorite books that became a quirky yet class animated film in 1982 and now The Last Unicorn will be screening at The Riverview Theater a couple of times this week, with the author in attendance. We’ll be there. I watched it with my son when he was much younger so we both have nostalgia.
  • Much of my life revolves around autism and cats, and we’re in MN. We are not alone! Another very dedicated cat lover - who happens to be on the spectrum - did a neat thing. Finding Minnesota: The Feline Fun House: “Krueger’s four cats get to look down on their owner from nearly 100 yards of catwalks through every room.”

We moved in May. Nearly four months ago. But our garage was chock full of our unneeded stuff until just this past weekend. We finally made a dent. Over half the contents of the garage are now gone. Out of our lives FOREVER! A genius goddess friend had a yard sale yesterday and let us unload our biz there. She happens to live on Nicollet, right on the Open Streets route. So much foot traffic! Everyone who was selling their goods made a killing. The redistribution of our usable belongings makes me feel better too. I happened to be sitting on the lawn when an adorable 11 year old girl bought a pair of my old platform black combat boots for a buck.


The Urban Organism

This week was meant to be a quietly productive one. I had nothing scheduled for my week nights aside from photo editing, helping my son with homework, cooking and cleaning. And I’d hoped to squeeze some bike riding in there. But my sad meatsuit had other plans. What started as the usual seasonal allergy symptoms morphed into full on debilitating illness. What a waste of time. But I’ve been trying to take it easy and hope to be on the mend and back in the world soon.

Five Fall Activities:

  • This weekend there’s another Open Streets Minneapolis event happening and this time it’s pretty close to our house. This map has the highlights.
  • One of my favorite things starts up next week. Cinema in the Cemetery: Alien Invasion Film Series. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Plan 9 From Outer Space on the big screen.
  • The Midwest Comic Book Association’s FallCon is coming up Saturday, October 4th. Sounds like it’s been a scramble to keep everything on track because, sadly, one of the main organizers passed away last month. Dominic Postiglione of The Source.
  • For years I’ve been meaning to take my son to the Fawn Doe Rosa wildlife park. It’s just a little over an hour away and I am determined that this will be the year.
  • Note to self, other MN Fall To Dos: The Landscape Arboretum, Walker Mini Golf Course B (we already played Course A), Big Stone Mini Golf, Franconia Sculpture Park, ValleyFair/ValleyScare, an apple orchard, various Farmers Markets.

In other news, my amazing son turns 15 on the 15th. How this is even possible I just don’t know. It’s too bad his actual birthday is on a school day. The transition to high school hasn’t gone as smoothly as I had hoped. But I do plan to celebrate with him for at least a week, if not more.


Going Down With The Ship

Too many ups and downs lately. Funerals. Weddings. Back to school. Too great a concentration of BIG LIFE STUFF. Let’s pace ourselves, shall we?

Five good things (from last week, I’m way behind):

With the start of school comes the question, what to do for MEA break in October? A question many other parents have, apparently, already answered because just about every danged cabin in Minnesota has already been booked! I’ve spent too many evenings googling and sending inquiring emails and scouring AirBnB only to be rejected time and time again. One contender was not meant to be. After some initial confusion, caused by duplicate entries on AirBnB (one run by a college kid, the other by his parents) it turned out the amazing looking cabin on a chain of lakes was unavailable after all. And that very day in the nearby town of Dorset - jokingly called “the restaurant capital of the world” - half of their restaurants were struck by lightning and burned down. That means they went from four to two. Sad. Finally we found two places that were actually available. One in Northern, WI and the other in Southern, WI. I guess Wisconsin kids don’t get the same school break. Anyhow, one reason we opted to go South is to catch better colors with the leaves changing and all. Plus it’s only an hour and a half drive. Sold!

Jesse and Drew

Hidden Storms Within Us All

What a week. I try to give others the benefit of the doubt. I realize that school and district staff are likely overworked and underpaid. But I also tried to be as prepared as possible for a parent, to make my son’s high school transition a smooth one. And it’s been anything but through no fault of my own. Being a special ed mom can be challenging. Not because of my son, but because of the surreal Brazil-like bureaucracy I have to deal with. I wrote up a timeline to figure out where things went wrong in the chain of events. And I explained it over and over again, higher up the chain, before we gained any traction. It took until day three of school but it seems like the situation has *finally* been sorted out. What a roller coaster!

Five encouraging/interesting things:

Last night our household ventured out to the MN State Fair after school. And many of our friends joined us for the 4-H Llama Costume Contest. I made a tentative plan for eating my way through the fair. But I also finished reading through yet another piece about sugar being poison. Which I totally get. But what a downer. So I mainly stuck to savory foods and something on a stick didn’t agree with me. Most likely the seafood. Common sense should have encouraged me to avoid that. Anyhow, my son wants to return sometime over the long holiday weekend but the weather isn’t looking so swell. And it’s trickier to get to the Fair now that we are on the other side of the metro. But I did miss our annual Sky Ride. We’ll see.

I love the butter princesses

Summer Vacation in Outer Space

We’ve been traveling a fair amount this summer, but not as a household unit. My son has had trips on his own, with his grandparents. And I’ve traveled with him. And my boyfriend went up North without us. And then I went to Missoula with him, but not my son. Much of the summer my son has been nearly off the grid. The past two weeks he was camping with no cell phone service. So it was bittersweet when I received a text from him the other day saying “remember Robin Williams” - without punctuation. More command than question, I would say. I think that’s the worst of the news he’s aware of. His autism makes him a bit oblivious sometimes. But right now that might be all right. The awful stuff is particularly overwhelming right now. The murder of an unarmed teenager and additional injustices in Ferguson, the suffering in Gaza and Syria and Iraq and elsewhere, the Ebola outbreak, the beheading of a journalist by ISIS. The news is bad all over.

Limping along with five good things:

Last night I attended my son’s high school open house, without him. Today we’re going there together, to wander around. He hasn’t set foot in the building yet and school begins on Monday already. Next week will be a busy one and it will take a while to adjust to our new schedule. But we’ve got to make time to for the MN State Fair. Particularly for the 4-H Lama Costume Contest.


Possess the Right Thinking

My son departs again soon, for yet another trip to Seattle. I’m trying to pack in as much quality time as possible before then. Last weekend we attended an outdoor birthday party and walked around the Powderhorn Art Fair with old friends. Monday night we just barely made it in time to a screening of Back to the Future. In a park, with FIVE Deloreans parked nearby. And the owners did neat things like flashing their headlights at appropriate moments, or honking when the Delorean in the movie did. Last night we attended our neighborhood National Night Out Block Party. I made watermelon-feta-mint skewers and a three bean salad. We met a lot of nice folks and drank some home brewed beer, cherry cider and mead. And were ranted at by one crabby elderly lady, oof.

Five random items for this Wednesday:

While my son travels my boyfriend and I will be taking a couple of road trips ourselves. Both music related. One closer to home, at the Square Lake Film and Music Fest. And another to Missoula, MT for Total Fest. The schedule has finally been posted and there’s a music sampler up on bandcamp. But I have so much photo editing to finish before I can take off and enjoy myself. I did wrap up the volunteer work I did for the Family Tree Clinic and I’ve been chipping away at wedding work. Inching ever closer.

Toni spewing peanut butter pretzels

Adventures in Mass Transit

Last week when I returned to Seattle I still had my ORCA card in my wallet. And I planned to use it. But wound up renting a sweet Toyota Yaris instead. Reliable cars really are the most convenient thing. Now home my bad car karma continues. Tuesday my mechanic fixed my car and I drove it away without incident. Yesterday I worked from home but ran an errand in the afternoon. On the way back my car flipped out. Flashing check engine light, bad smell of unburned gasoline, stalling. Thankfully I hadn’t gone too far. It was all side streets. And my boyfriend was able to have AAA tow it back to my mechanic. This morning I took the city bus to work. It was a straight shot on one bus, with no transfers. But the entire journey took a full hour. And along the way I saw some strange things. Like a city employee downtown trying to sweep an injured bat off of the sidewalk on Hennepin. Hmm.

Five items of note:

So my automobile is failing. But I’m also experiencing some parenting fails. Next month my son goes on another, shorter trip to Seattle with family. Not only will he be missing the Internet Cat Video Festival, which is tragic enough, his flight gets in just hours after the open house/orientation at his new high school. Smooth move, mom. And this was after I paid money to reschedule his original flight that was due to bring him home the day *after* school starts. Because Minneapolis schools start before Labor Day, not after.

my brooding teen