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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Simon’

Andy called yesterday to tell me Jonah had a bad tantrum/aggression in the van – not sure where they were going to (or coming from), but Jonah was being all snuggly & lovey with a caregiver one moment, then launched himself at her, grabbing a chunk of her hair.  Another caregiver tried to intervene but Jonah got a chunk of her hair too.  When it was all over, Jonah had two handfuls of hair and a small bruise.

I’d almost rather hear that some kid attacked Jonah and got a hunk of his hair than be told Jonah was the aggressor.

His caregivers are dedicated individuals who deserve to be wealthy, and though I have been assured they are paid better than at some other schools, I still don’t see why they don’t get more for what they endure, and how they love, and why they do what they do…which is essentially to be foster parents for groups of disabled children.

So many things work backwards in our world.  God forgive us all for not caring more about one another.

I know Jonah does not hurt others deliberately, or at least not with malicious intent, and I know he can’t help who he is and what goes on in his little brain…but that knowledge doesn’t fix anything or help the pain I feel when he hurts others.  In all my life I never imagined giving birth to one who harms people.  It’s almost funny.

And in a little more than two weeks he will have his big eye operation to take the Reticert implant out, in a last ditch effort to save what little sight he has remaining in his left eye.  The irreverent thought just came into my mind that if Jonah cannot see as well, perhaps he will at least start missing his targets.  Andy and I will have to be hyper-vigilant to ensure Jonah does not touch his eye shield or try to itch his eye beneath it.

Today I am going to visit my therapist and I will talk to him about my struggle with this ever-cyclic aggressive behavior I can’t accept and have no power to control.  I know better than to hold on to the wish to control it, and I know better than to place blame upon myself, or upon Jonah, or upon God, or upon anything at all.  I know better.  I just can’t help the tears that always come, the feelings that always arise, the frustration I always feel.  The fear that as he gets older and bigger it will only get worse.  Hopefully Dr. A. can help me with all that.

I know when there is a situation I cannot change, I can only change how I react to it.  And so I am making changes.  Now I exercise, eat better, meditate, pray, and take long walks in the woods.  I breathe deeply, in and out.  In and out.

I’m counting on the spring to bring new life, new hope, and new health, body-mind-spirit all working together to find the place inside where things are quiet and still.  Where music plays and my heart rejoices.  Where there is peace.

No one gives their dreams away too lightly
They hold them tightly warm against cold
One more year of traveling ’round this circuit
Then you can work it into gold

They say, “Jonah, he was swallowed by a whale”, hmm
But I say, “There’s no truth to that tale”
I know Jonah, he was swallowed by a song

Here’s to all the boys who came along
Carrying soft guitars in cardboard cases all night long
An’ do you wonder where those boys have gone?
Do you wonder where those boys have gone?

Jonah by Paul Simon

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I’ve been kind of sick for too long a while.  I’d rather be sicker and have it over more quickly.  There is simultaneously optimism and fear inside me – and a disheartened kind of grief.  A good, gracious man I know died on New Year’s Eve; he was only 61.  I’m not sure what’s going on inside my head but I need to watch videos like this and seek out information like you get here in order to continue to have faith in humanity

I have to remind myself there are so many amazing things. 

I forgot to bring my camera on my trip to see Jonah yesterday, so I’ll have to share older pics.  Jonah was a good boy.  He didn’t want me to sing, though, even though he was in a parroting mood.  Andy had on the radio and Jonah was humming snippets of the top 40 music and saying things to himself… then suddenly he’s quiet, moving his thumb easily and naturally into his mouth as he turns to look out the window.  It was a warm day – maybe even 40.  My mother and I were quiet on the ride home as she tolerated my music:  things like Kula Shaker, Paul Simon, Radiohead, and Death Cab for Cutie, this day.  I won’t subject her to Greenday or the Grateful Dead; I know where to draw the line.   It was a good visit tinged with the usual feeling that comes inside when you are driving farther and farther away from your innocent ten year old son. 

Today I made chicken cacciatore and M and I are watching Dick Proenneke’s Alone in the Wilderness.   It’s such an amazing documentary that tears come to my eyes as I watch it.  This man built a cabin in the middle of Twin Lakes, Alaska (where he was the only human) and lived there for thirty years, 1968-1998, until he was 81 years old.  He carved spoons and bowls out of wood in a matter of hours.  He could chop down 40 trees and shape them into useable logs to build the cabin, all before noon.  Amazing things.  He built carriers for food and moss.  Caught fish and avoided bear.  Somehow didn’t go insane even while so literally alone.

The things he accomplishes – the way he thinks, the way he moves through the world — it’s so mind-blowing sometimes I have no reaction but to laugh out loud in astonishment.

He builds tools, tables, chairs;  intricate, near-perfect hinges; neat, even boards for shelves and working surfaces.  He narrates most of the movie, sets the camera on a tripod and films himself measuring, building, climbing, chopping, carving, cooking, gardening.  Everything handmade.  A plane would come only, I think, twice a year to bring him very basic supplies.  Are there still people like him, people who know civilization but choose to leave it, with talent and skill and that true harmony with nature?  I am in such awe of it.  No wonder I love Laura Ingalls Wilder.

For me these people speak of possibility, and resilience, and determination.  

It’s good for me today.  So here are some random things while I make my exit to watch some more about Mr. Proenneke:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

O

Silly Me

Silly Me

O

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ScareMeNots recycle!

The Hudson River in March 2002Rhinebeck NY

Baby Jonah...Looking right at me.

Baby Jonah…
Looking right at me.

Gustav Klimt'sThe Kiss

Gustav Klimt’s
The Kiss

O

my child of the water

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“They say Jonah was swallowed by a whale
But I say there’s no truth to that tale
I know Jonah
Was swallowed by a song…”

~ Jonah by Paul Simon

Jonah has a broken finger incurred sometime during this morning’s tantrum/attack/aggression, on the bus that takes the kids up to the school building.  They took him to the hospital, x-rayed his hand, splinted his finger, brought him back to the house.  Not an enormous deal but one that caused me some concern.

His regular nurse was so kind when she called to tell me.  “Jonah is fine,” they always start out by saying.  Sometimes he isn’t – not really, but at schools like this everything is relative.  And he is fine.  He is safe and he is fixed up and it is over.

But I asked her to please contact Andy first next time.  Andy lives 5 minutes away.  I live an hour and a half a way.  I have a full time job, and I can’t be at my desk crying, like I nearly always end up doing.   I’m a crybaby, they need to understand, “strong mother” or no, and you can’t make me lose it at work because then nobody wins.  I need my job.  Let Andy call me at 5:30 when I get home from work and then tell me what happened, unless it’s an “he’s not okay” emergency.  Andy’s willing to do this and we’re going to try this new “leave mom out of the loop for a few hours” plan.

I’m tired of the merry go round.  I want off.  After a while it makes you sick to your stomach.  Your horse or your ostrich or your donkey goes up and it goes down, over and over, while the merry go round itself circles round and round, all with the bad-stereo strains of carousel music playing too loud and endlessly, no way off, no one to stop it all.

I just don’t have the fortitude.

for·ti·tude

[fawr-ti-tood, -tyood] Show IPA

noun

mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously: Never once did her fortitude waver during that long illness.
They ain’t talking about me, folks.
Ah, but wouldn’t you rather see some new pictures instead?

Our dog Jack has the United States of America on his nose.  Look closely.

Jonah loving Guardian Gus

Beautiful rosebushes

Thus ends a long Thursday.  Across the miles I am holding my son in my arms, so close, smelling his hair, breathing him in, and he is calm, and we have snuggle time, and we are both swallowed by a song…a lullaby…

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On Christmas Eve I went with M to return a fixed computer to a man’s apartment; the guy had autism and softhearted M had done the work for free.  The man had all these vinyl albums hung on the walls, and each album had a painting or design on it.  In another room he’d constructed 3-D sculptures from popsicle sticks and fuzzy dots and crafty pieces of all kinds of things.

It was all very cool.  He had so many books and so much music.  Joseph Heller and J. R. R. Tolkien, Mario Puzo and Thomas Hardy.  His music was eclectic:  Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys, Gordon Lightfoot, the Soundtrack to Grease.   And he was very happy to have his computer back in time for Christmas.

He would ask random questions of us, and he could make good conversation.  I asked him if he had brothers and sisters, and then he asked me.  M and he were both the youngest, they discovered.  I  asked him about his music and books, and the artwork all over.  “Oh, yeah,” he said enthusiastically.

“Were you born on July 30th?” he asked me.  “1969,” he added:  statement, not question.

I smiled.  “No, but close.  September 2nd.  The 1969 part is right.”  Then I asked, “When is your birthday?”

As if thinking weren’t you listening? – he said “July 30th, 1969!”

I liked him.

While we were there his mother called.  Then he said his counselor was due to come over soon, so I asked him directly, “are we all done or do you need any more help?”

“Oh, yeah,” he said in the same enthusiastic voice.  “We’re all done.”

Good thing I’ve read The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, because I don’t have a lot of experience with adults who have autism, and that book helped me see things through his eyes.  You have to be pretty direct; subtleties and metaphors get lost.

That sounds like a Paul Simon song:  Subtleties and Metaphors.

Andy brought Jonah up to my mom’s house on Christmas Day and then kept him for a long time after that.  Jonah was very good at my mom’s, even though he paced a lot and wanted sandwich and bath and car ride in rapid succession, caring nothing for the presents.  He is indifferent to everything related to Christmas except perhaps the lights and songs.

Definitely the lights and songs.

I am kind of okay, but for a while I couldn’t write because I was re-visiting the necessity, safety and camaraderie of last year mid-December, when everything changed forever.   I love those peeps, even if I did only know them (in person) for 8 days.

Thank you to everyone who has written.  I just don’t get to my e-mail as much as I want to.  I read them but then I can’t reply.  I hate bitching about shit, and I’m always bitching about shit.  Today my mom and I spent hours sorting through like 15 bags of clothing into donation and keep piles for Jonah.  I was agitated and tired.

I wanted to clean today.  I cleaned and cleaned and organized and cleaned.  There is still too much.  I keep thinking of the man who was born on July 30, 1969.

It occurs to me that we are equidistant from Woodstock.

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Well I know I can’t be posting poetry all the time but poetry comes out of me in cycles, and when my mind shapes a poem I must write it.  I know most people don’t like poetry, especially mediocre poetry, so I apologize for placing it, perhaps, where it does not belong.

Jonah had a relatively good day in school yesterday, which was very cool to read in his log book – he’d gone roller skating and loved it.  He loves yoga too, and his scooter they pull him around on with a weighted-vest.  My sensory-craver boy…

Then D came over and Andy and she and I brought Jonah and the clippers outside, to the outlet halfway down the driveway – and between the three of us, we buzz-cut his hair.  D did the actual buzzing while Andy held Jonah and I sat on the driveway holding Jonah’s legs between Andy’s legs so he couldn’t kick or thrash.  He was hopping mad, of course.  It looked like a circus act, with hair flying everywhere and Jonah twisting around.  Good thing the neighbors weren’t out.  Afterward we had a near-bald boy who immediately ran inside to look at himself in his bedroom door mirror and run his little hand through its baby-chick-head softness.  I went outside to the driveway where all boo’s hair was scattered and picked up a lock.  Maybe it is silly, but I want it to hold when he is gone and I can’t be with him.

Of course he gave D and I plenty of trouble on the way to H’s house and pool.  Safe hands? he’d ask D, wanting her to hold both his hands.  She’d turn and hold his hands, then he’d try to pick his nose or swipe stray hairs from his face, so she’d let go, only to have him beg for safe hands again.  Over and over.  He kicked the back of D’s seat and head-rest, hit the windows HARD, flat-palmed, and screamed his loudest, his someone-is-murdering-me screams, laughing and giggling afterward.

What?  D and I would ask each other, unable to talk above the noise.  No wonder I am going for a hearing test this afternoon.  Between Jonah, my concussion, and all those loud 70s/80s/90s concerts I saw (like KISS, Rush, Def Leppard, Jane’s Addiction, and every other band where I’ve sat too close to the speakers on purpose), my ears are suffering.  I always did like my music loud.

Then Jonah started to beg for hot dog.  Hotdogwithmustard?  he asked repeatedly.  Hotdogwithmustard?  My plan was to stop at Stewart’s on the way to H’s, but then I called H and she said she still had some from the last time I brought some over, so she prepared one in her microwave, God bless her, so it would be ready upon King Jonah’s’ arrival.

Finally Jonah got both his naked swim and his hot dog and all was right with the world for a few moments, though the entirety of our visit was maybe 15 minutes, tops.  ADHD?  D and I were half-jokingly recalling the blessed days (which we used to complain about, believe it or not) when he would perseverate on just one thing at a time.  Let’s ride the escalator 75 times!  Let’s stare into the street sewer for a half an hour!  Let’s go on the merry-go-round 8 times in a row!

Going on the assumption that most folk prefer pictures over poetry, I’ll make sure to come back later and post some.  I might even upgrade my account so I can post video.  I’m taking pictures and video of Jonah with ever-increasing frequency, as if I can capture and visit him whenever I want.

“The candlelight flickers
The falcon calls
A lime-green lizard scuttles down the cabin wall
And all of these spirit voices
Sing rainwater, seawater
River water, holy water
Wrap this child in mercy…”

~ Spirit Voices by Paul Simon

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“Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll be thinking:
Am I crazy, or is this some morbid little lie?
Further to fly…

A recent loss of memory; a shadow in the family…
The baby waves bye-bye

I’m trying
I’m flying

There may come a time when I will lose you; lose you as I lose my sight
Days falling backward into velvet night

The open palm of desire
The Rose of Jericho
Soil as soft as summer
The strength to let you go…”

~ Paul Simon, Further to Fly

– – –

I am getting sick.  I sound like Peter Brady with his changing voice.

It’s a good day to post some pictures, before M & I go take Jonah Russ for a while.

On a business trip to Long Island this past Wednesday and Thursday:

Long Island is pretty, and I liked the people I met there…but it was also very hot…

And it is always good to return home.  Today I hope Jonah is a happy boy.  Whatever happens, I know we all have further to fly.  Like Paul Simon says:  I’m trying; I’m flying…

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This is the part of the story where Jonah falls overboard and is swallowed by the whale.

There isn’t much to say except that it has gotten worse, and worse again, and worse some more – today sucked blah blah blah and I’m so sad blah blah blah.  I don’t know how anyone can stand to read this blog anymore at all.

Jonah’s almost guaranteed to attempt to seriously hurt his father, me, anyone around him – not once, but several times a day, wreaking a path of destruction behind him – lampshades crumbled, Andy’s now duct-taped fan knocked over, eyeglasses scratched, coffeemaker smashed & broken, dinner swept off the table to spray-bomb the kitchen in one swipe:

`

On the pictured occasion Andy had called me for help.  “I can’t leave him for two seconds,” he told me.

So I came over and cleaned the kitchen (after taking this picture).  I picked up the obviously just-delivered rice, chicken, sauces, and dumplings, wet-swiffered the floor, and vacuumed the landing rug/steps… my heart pounding, my mind processing the scene, adding all these details to the new normal, a new ramped-up constancy of Jonah’s violent aggressing.

After I had cleaned, we sat together on Jonah’s floor for a few minutes while Jonah sat on his bed, having been banished there after the kitchen scene.  I asked Andy if he wanted me to go get him more food.  “No,” he replied flatly. “I ate.”  (which I knew was likely a lie).

“They’ll help him at whatever place he goes to,” I told Andy quietly.  “He’s going to get better.”

“You think so?” he asked wearily.  “I think he’s just broken,” he mumbled, lowering his head into his scratched-up hands, running his scratched-up hands through his rumpled hair.  Andy sits with his head in his hands a lot.   I’m usually in tears.

During some car rides the three of us have taken since then, Jonah’s managed to escape his harness in seconds, throwing himself up into the front seat to grab a handful of hair, scratching, hitting, and kicking whatever body part of ours he can reach.  Luckily we are usually already pulled over waiting for train, or I have been able to pull over quickly so Andy (or M, when he and I are the ones driving him) can climb in the back and hold down a fiercely struggling Jonah who is head-butting hard, kicking hard, hitting hard.  Scratching to wound, to make you bleed.  No holds barred.  No empathy.

It is more frightening than anything I’ve ever encountered because I have no idea how to fix it, how to help him, how to pull us all up and out of this.  No wonder I watch Match Game and bead necklaces when I am not watching Jonah.  I need mindless 70s television, ritualistic bead-stringing, care-package construction, and Guster-blasting.  Andy is writing, which is good.  At least there is a fantastical creative outlet for him too, though I’m sure he squeezes it in in two-minute intervals if Jonah is home.

At school there are days when Jonah aggresses and then, as encore, smears his poop on the safe room wall – and he often aggresses 9-10 a day (each of which consists of an episode of a dozen or so of clustered individual attacks, they tell us).

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating that we are really, really grateful for Wildwood, whose teachers, social workers, and other staff have continued without fail to support our family and somehow manage Jonah day after day, week after month.  I am grateful for Andy, who is somehow handling this thing.  The title of my blog may be normal is a dryer setting, but our dryer’s in serious fucking disrepair. 

We want Jonah to get the help he needs, and as soon as possible.  Later this month we’re taking him to Child’s Hospital in Boston (somehow), and we’re going to once again ask his psychiatrist for a new med to try.  The psychiatrist is retiring this month, so maybe we’ll get a new one who’s fresh out of school and fired up to help usIf not, I’m going doctor-shopping.

I’m refocusing my thoughts and actions in an unusual but positive way, because it’s all I can do to keep it together.  But most of time I’m tired and bitchy.  I haven’t felt much like writing, or talking to anyone, or going anywhere, or doing anything at all.

I guess these are our days inside the whale.

“Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight, yet I will look again toward thy holy table.”
~ Jonah 2:4

That sounds to me like I know I’m completely in the dark, but I’m going to hope anyway.

“Love and blessings
Simple kindness
Fell like rain on thirsty land
Fields and gardens
Long abandoned
Came to life in dust and sand”

~Paul Simon, Love & Blessings from So Beautiful or So What

Okay, then.   Hope anyway.

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