I don't usually like to talk too much about my personal life beyond living with autism but I've been divorced almost eight years now. That's quite a while. I feel like I spent my entire thirties alone as a single mom. I have tried dating, with not much success, and exactly one year ago tonight, after a horrible experience on lovely Valentine's Day, I swore off trying to find a nice guy in LA. On one hand it was completely liberating and a huge relief. It takes a lot of time and effort to do the dating scene, whether it's online, creating a profile, searching and weeding through the masses, or just making an effort to be out more, and not in professional scenes, but in public social scenes. It's a lot of pressure to feel the need to find someone, to feel you are only one half of whole. I have never understood that expression, "my other half," as if you are not a whole person without someone else. I feel pretty whole myself. On the other hand, have I done myself any favors? Have a secluded myself or worse, closed myself off to any opportunities? Maybe. After last Valentine's, I wrote a little comment on my Facebook page...
It's a sad situation when I feel the need to add this to my online dating profile... "... I heard recently a man's biggest fear of online dating is meeting a woman fatter than her photos and a woman's biggest fear is being murdered! Haha! But seriously... if you are a closet-drug-user (keep a narcotics dealer on speed dial), an alcoholic-in-denial (if you've been kicked out of a bar in the last month for drunk and disorderly conduct this may be an indicator), if you've ever left your ex with stitches after a quarrel, if you're racist or bigoted, make fun of the disabled, or if you're an out-of-work actor, please move on to the next profile. I'm afraid these are too much for me to take on, especially in combination!"And then...
I think after dating a bit, I should write a book for men... "What NOT To Do on Your 1st Dates with a Girl." 1. Don't look as though you just rolled out of bed, wear a t-shirt inside-out with un-matching sweat pants that look dirty, and old baseball cap (later is ok, but not yet!) And wash your hair. Especially when she's dressed up. 2. Say "Online dating is just like a catalog of women... you fit 9 out of my 10 criteria!" 3. Date the girl's friend right after that. 4. Get kicked out of a bar for being drunk... or get wasted drunk in the first place! 5. Talk about your "psycho-ex's" mental instability 6. Go on for hours about your recently deceased wife, "You look just like her... She was a photographer too... she was blond... her name started with K... do you do yoga, she did yoga..." ...To be continued...And another...
Continued... more on posting your online dating profile… on’t know a good facial expression, watch the movie Zoolander. 3. When a girl states a certain age range, and you’ve surpassed it by at least 10 years, be sure to ignore that, by all means, and persist! Keep sending emails! Tons of them! Insisting she has no idea what’s she’s talking about, she has no idea what she’s missing, etc.! Or ignore the fact completely, even though she put it in all caps and stated deep life-experience reasons. Show her that her opinion is merely silly consequence! 4. "Your Latest Read" should always be something shorter than a 3 paragraph article in a magazine, preferably Men’s Health, or better yet, Maxim. 5. If it’s St. Patty’s Day, be SURE to send a pic of you dressed as a Leprechaun, chugging a gallon of green beer… and holding a weapon! (It’s still hot!) 6. If you can’t figure out the Leprechaun outfit, the go-to “dick-pic” is ALWAYS sure to please!!! ...and, more on that dating book I'll write... 7. When you are texting 2 girls at once, telling them each how special they are, know that they, in fact, may know each other and compare text messages!! (Soon I'm going to have to start naming names!) Haha!Well... anyway... Recently I've begun talking to another single parent friend about venturing back out into dating. He was married for nineteen years, so his decision to get back out there is quite significant. He has been fairly brave, had a short relationship since, and just asked someone new out. Good for him! I'll just go back to work over here on my photos... gosh, I have a lot to do! Was that the oven-timer going off? I actually successful managed to change the subject of that conversation and we started talking about photography again, our shared passion. I told him about the interior design I just shot the other day. It was so cool! He asked what I was using for "post" (processing the photos in the computer after shooting). "What version of Lightroom are you in?" "4," I replied. I could hear the confusion in his voice. I guess this version is way-outdated! "I like 4. And besides, I have everything set up just the way I like it. I have my workflow down, I have all my library and presets just the way I want them. If I upgrade, it might screw everything up and it will be so much more work and nothing will be like I'm used to." * Silence for a minute on the phone * "Kris, is this a metaphor for your life?" "What?!" "You're not taking a chance and seeing what's new because you are so comfortable with the current system and afraid of what might happen with a new version. You're not upgrading your life." "Ha!" That was so funny... and really right on... I had to laugh. Mind you, he might be the man who is now upgrading constantly and virtually ditching last month's model on Craig's List for this month's hotter shinier model that does more tricks! Well, after a little laugh, I had to think this was pretty poetic. Is there any truth to this? Should I venture back out into the scary world of dating in LA? Aaagghhh! The thought's enough to bury anyone in their Lightroom, isn't it?! And the more serious question, do I dare upgrade my Lightroom 4 and Photoshop 5?! ... to be continued Happy Valentine's Everyone! 1. Be sure to post only photos of you flexing, shirtless, in various scenarios: in front of your (big name) sports car, on a mountain top doing -, in a waterfall, in the woods, in the dark, straddling a motorcycle flexing those tri’s, and of course, holding a gun or some other weapon, but have one hand “casually” pulling your short shorts down at the waist (weapons are hot!) 2. For your profile picture, if you d
It's a cloudy gloomy day this Saturday in SoCal, the Pineapple Express or something I heard, so it's a mellow day around here. We aren't outside running around (because really, we get chilled below 65! lol!) and Charlie seems to be enjoying the down-time playing in his over-toy-stuffed room. I was working on my computer, still working on my new website (ugghh!), and I knew I had a note around here somewhere that ended up bugging me until I had to take apart every "organized" pile on my desk! I have a little notebook/journal I keep with little mementos, notes from a few people, a few snapshots not on my computer, and random notes with a password or something I might need at some random time. I opened it and was completely consumed by the little pieces of paper I had saved, although I have been sitting eighteen inches from this notebook every day. What caught my eye now seems like my lesson for this weekend. I have a picture that my ex-husband snapped in the first minutes we came home from the hospital after Charlie was born nine and half years ago. And with it is a piece of journal paper with words, or actually values, that I remember writing one night in bed while I was pregnant. I was up in the middle of the night, as happens while you are pregnant, imagining my future little bundle. I sat there in bed and wrote down a list of values I dreamt for my child.
LOVE KINDNESS EMPATHY SINCERITY PASSION RESPONSIBILITY CONSEQUENCE PRIORITY HONESTY LOYALTY FAITH MORALITY
I know, a few aren't so much values, but I was pregnant, it was the middle of the night, haha! The years that followed the moment I wrote that note, or that moment when we brought our newborn baby boy home from the hospital, were none that any pregnant woman imagines when she's happily expecting or none that any parent can stand to think as a possibility when you are walking into your home with your new baby for the first time. The years that followed brought Autism into our immediate awareness and as part of our lives for ever more.
With a diagnosis of Autism comes a range of emotions, of feelings, of consequences, of change and growth, for yourself and your child, for many years, and I imagine for years ahead of me still. One of the most intense and heartbreaking times comes in the first year when you realize the dreams you dreamt are not what you will have. And then the subsequent guilt over whether or not that is actually sad and the torment of realizing you will dream new dreams. You will still have your child. Your child. You still have immeasurable love for your child, perhaps more, it's just not as you dreamt parenting would be. But as my mother pointed out when I came home from the hospital with a boy to a pink room and pink lace baby clothing (yep, that's a story for another time, Charlie has been full of surprises from the get-go!), it's still the same baby that was growing in your stomach. He's just different than you thought. But that's on you, he has no idea what you were expecting, he knows he's truly "him."
With a child with Autism, over many years, we begin to lose count of the number of "no's" and "can'ts" and "won'ts" we will hear. From doctors saying he "won't" do this or that, or teachers saying "he can't do this," or even friends and family giving us painful "no's," he's not included, I think one of the blessings in disguise is that we learn to celebrate the "yeses!" We celebrate them with extreme joy and over-exuberant enthusiasm!! My child ate a new food?! You better believe I'm throwing a party with that new food as the centerpiece!! My child addressed me as "Mom" and not with a squeal? Woo-hoo!! Tears of joy followed by a silly happy dance and uncontrollable giggling for twenty minutes! Our small achievements are HUGE!
What struck me in this note that I found, was the fact that these values were my dreams for my child. Sure, I had dreams of him having tons of friends, going to the prom, graduation from high school and maybe 'SC, marriage of his own, kids of his own; but these values were the important things to me. I wrote them down and kept them! And, after everything we've been through in all these years, after Autism has transformed our lives, our homes, our dreams, these dreams, my dreams for my then unborn child remain, and in fact, came true! That thought gives me tears of joy. I feel a happy dance brewing!
My Charlie, with full-on "severe" Autism, has all of these values on my dream list! He has more love than anyone I know, and receives more love than anyone I know. He is the kindest soul there is, anyone who meets him agrees. I have a graphic that I have posted sharing Charlie's empathy, he caresses the cheeks of anyone crying or upset. I think if there is one thing you know from a person with Autism, it's sincerity, there are no deceptions, they are straight forward. The same can be said for the rest of the values, consequence, loyalty, morality. Charlie has them in abundance.
My lesson shared today for any parents with Autism is this... What did you dream for your child? I mean beyond the prom, the graduations, the future grandkids... what kind of person did you hope your child would be? Has Autism really taken that away! I would have to bet, No! Our lives will forever be changed, forever be the unexpected. But today, I am celebrating. I am celebrating the small, but HUGE dreams come true!! Charlie is a dream come true!
** happy dance ensues**
Unless you live under some obscure rock outside of the United States, you know that yesterday was Superbowl Sunday. Superbowl XLIX, the Patriots vs. the Seahawks. I'm still unsure how I feel about the win, but the action at the very end was mind-blowing! I headed out to a super-fun get-together hosted by a friend of mine of about twenty years. I'm not sure how we came up with twenty years, because as I tell him... I was in kindergarten. Ha!! Yeah, right! I was slightly older than that and nothing was too important in that decade for me to remember exactly, so I can't remember when we met! He says twenty years... I insist it was in kindergarten. Anyway, the get-together was a big mix of people from around LA, some familiar faces over that last twenty years, and a few new ones. I brought my friend Janna who is always a joy to hang with on our days off or on our child-free days. The host and I have always shared our passion for photography, we often chat about lenses, settings, lights, and other goofy things no one really gets, but I know he won't mind if I whip out my big camera to take a few shots. Our brilliant friend Mary planned everything, the food and the cute games and decorations, so I couldn't help but take a few pics. He has always hosted such great events, I can't wait for the next one!
This winter break, I had five days on my own for the first time in, well, nine and a half years. As a divorced mom, and a mom with a kid on the spectrum, that five days can be both an eternity, a savior, or a sudden source of anxiety... what will I do with myself?! It was a mixed bag of emotion for me. At first I thought this was great, Charlie gets to hang out with his dad, winter break is so long, that would be a relief to the boredom. I felt excited to not have to deal with therapies, driving all over town, and then... what will I do and why would I want to do any of it without the coolest kid there is? When you have a child with autism, everything is intensified, I guess as it is with the kids, in a funny way. Our children with autism hear more intensely, feel more intensely, and our parenting is also then more intense. Eating is more difficult, learning and school is more difficult, sleep can often be an issue, as well as any self-help such as dressing and grooming or bathroom issues. Most of us take this on with the same intensity with which our children feel it, because we love them for everything they are. A lot of us would do anything for a little relief or help, but we wouldn't change any of it for the world, knowing this is now who we are. It's our version of parenting; an exhausting, tiring to your core, intensely-feeling version. In that, we sometimes forget what we did or what were were before our children had autism, or before they were born. We too often leave jobs and careers, change our entire group of friends, sometimes family fades away. Forget about hobbies or interests! And often our conversations, trains of thought, and do I dare say, free-reading, revolves around autism and what we can do for it. Before I had my son, I've mentioned on my website and on social media, I was a model, I studied architecture, I loved art wherever I could find it, and I lived out of my suitcase. I was traveling everywhere and finding any museum, gallery, or cafe to sit in and pull out my notebook and pencils. I don't think I'd want to go back to that, but I'd so much rather be sketching than reading behavioral therapy techniques. And as it goes, my son hates art, hates drawing, hates the texture of clay or finger paints, he hates anything remotely related... well, he does love sharpening pencils. As I was about to pull out my hair at the thought of missing my son for five whole days, as the very thought of the holidays without my child grew nearer, I got online and saw where I could go. Why not be my old self? Could I remember how?! Sure! Everything, after what we do daily, has to be a piece of cake! Charlie hates baking Christmas cookies anyway! So after checking that my family and friends were all tied up with plans with loved ones and significant others, I decided to use my soon-to-expire miles (because I don't get to use them too much anymore) and take a little spontaneous vacay on my own!
|Charlie's 1st day in this new school|
|Trying to avoid homework with silliness.|
So for a "Throwback Thursday" I'm sharing a few old shots of my dad. My dad was a big musician, way "back in the day," and I have some of his old headshots... wow, how Mad Men!
|Note the cigarette... on an airplane! (My shiner is another story!)|