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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Sarah Maizes

My Child Has Autism and it’s Awesome!

December 2nd, 2009
by Sarah Maizes

LOS ANGELES, CA-  As the mother of a child with autism…

I don’t have anything else to add to that, but I got your attention didn’t I?  Don’t feel like a sucker.  You’re not the only one.

It has come to my attention that whenever I say “As the mother of a child with autism…” people instantly pay attention.  They presume I’m wise and sagely, and they’ll take virtually anything I say as gospel.  It’s quite fabulous really.

The statement could be followed with something as simple as “…I like kids chewable vitamins” and people will take this into serious consideration.  “Hmmm…maybe chewables ARE better for kids than gummies.  I mean, she would know, her child has autism.”

I didn’t ask for this.  I didn’t plan on having a child with autism.  I didn’t want to have a child with autism, but lo and behold, I do.  And it sucks.  But when you have a child with special needs and you’ve put in the hours and years of dedication to the process of helping that child as I have, shouldn’t I enjoy a few of the perks?

Well, people thinking I am really smart is one of them.

When I say “As the mother of a child with autism, I buy mostly organic fruit.”  It is met with a collective “Oooooooooooo.”

When I say “As the mother of a child with autism, I have my kids ride their bikes at least twice a week.”  I hear a united “Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.”

Believe me, I don’t actually think I’m saying anything interesting or even noteworthy.  I’m usually not.  And God knows, whatever I’m yapping about is almost always unsubstantiated.  I’m a busy woman.  Sure my kid has autism, but that doesn’t mean I know any more than the average bear.

But people can’t help but think I have something valuable to say.  It appears to be a natural gut reaction to think “Oh, she’s the mother of a child with autism.  She must know a lot about child development.”  Or, “Wow, her kid has autism.  That sucks.  Even if I don’t agree with her, I feel sorry for her and I’m going to give her whatever she wants.”

I’d love to say I’m above it, but I’m not.

It’s wonderful.  If I’m at school and I want my daughter to have a better seat in class, I just say “As the mother of an autistic child, I think mine should sit in front.”  If I’m out with friends at a movie I can say with great authority, “As the mother of an autistic child, I think the characters were extremely well-drawn.”  Or, let’s say we’re driving to the valley and I just don’t want to be stuck on side streets.  I’ll say “As the mother of an autistic child, I think we should take the highway.”

I suppose I shouldn’t expose myself to the world and tell people I’ve figured this out, and I certainly shouldn’t use my own family’s misfortune to take advantage of others when I can get away with it.

But I did, and I do.  And now, I’m headed out to dinner with some friends.  I’d like to have a couple of cocktails, so I’m thinking I’ll casually ask “who wants to be the designated driver?”  We’ll all look at each other and then I’ll point to one of them and say “As the mother of an autistic child, I really think you should be the one driving.”

And it will work.

At long last, I’ve found my silver lining.


Simon Smithson

On Change

November 8th, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

A friend of mine doesn’t meet new people easily. It’s possible he may be suffering from a touch of Asperger’s (if there is such a thing as a ‘touch’ of Asperger’s). In familiar situations, he likes to dominate - by putdowns, by attack, by withholding attention. But as soon as a random, unknown element - a new person, for example - is introduced, the strength and the bluster vanish from him. He goes strangely quiet; backs down like a loudly-barking Chihuahua suddenly confronted with a pit bull. The more distinct and different a stranger, and their appearance and lifestyle, is from my friend and his, the more difficulty he has meeting their eyes. In the absence of common ground, my friend becomes unsure, and intimidated. He has no way of bridging the gap, and suddenly his confidence in his own position collapses like a house of cards. Those of us who know him well can see the uncertainty and the fear creeping up in him until, finally, when we are alone, he will confide in us ‘I didn’t like that guy.’ (more…)


James D. Irwin

In The Cold Movember Rain

November 2nd, 2009
by James D. Irwin

WINCHESTER, ENGLAND-

I feel I should write something about the city I now call home.

I’ve tried, but there isn’t really anything page-worthy.

I will say however, that this time I’ve been dealt a better hand.

A Royal Flush.

Instead I’m going to post on something closer to my heart.

Or, to be more accurate, closer to my face.

(more…)


Megan DiLullo

The Piss Museum

October 31st, 2009
by Megan DiLullo

BOULDER, CO-

It was located in the basement of an old craftsman that had virtually no ventilation, directly across from the elementary school on Pine Street. When you walked down the stairs and into the dank space the air was hazy with dust particles that shone in the sunbeams that had bullied their way in through the highly set windows. The fractured yet cheery sunlight being the only reminder of outdoor life to the subdued musty feeling that hung in the underground quarters.

The house itself was a rundown rental: The small front yard was an odd mixture of overgrown weeds and patches of dry bare earth. Plaid couches, rescued from various dumpsters around town, littered the crooked porch of the sinking haven. Discarded empty bottles of whatever cheap alcohol someone managed to shoulder tap and smashed beer cans lay strewn about the base of the discolored sofas like barnacles. Really, the exterior appeared much like the interior, sans the heavily used and abused musical equipment and beer matted shag carpeting. The windows sat askew in their rotting wood frames like the crooked smile of a child who had just lost its first tooth. The filthy glass was covered in punk rock ooze, creating a darkened hue, that you couldn’t see in, or out of. (more…)


Don Mitchell

Beaten by a Fairy

October 30th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY-

“I got beaten by a fairy,” I said to David, the New York City Marathon finish line director, after I crossed the finish mats, wondering if I was going to puke. A worker put a medal around my neck. I talked instead of puking.
(more…)


Steve Sparshott

Enid from the Block

October 23rd, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

Enid was my local crush, as opposed to, say, a music crush, like Laura Veirs, or a back-in-the-day crush, like Janeane Garofalo. I miss Enid. Not terribly, not like a limb, more like a bus - there’ll be another one along in a while. Crush might be too strong a word.
(more…)


Robin Antalek

Ghosts

October 20th, 2009
by Robin Antalek

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY-

My childhood was a combination of magic and terror.

I come from a loud, sprawling clan of first generation Italian Americans who, for the most part, resided within walking distance of each other in the hamlet of Pelham, New York, a suburb of Manhattan.

They loved food, God, their newly adopted country, baseball and their family with fervent yet equal abandon. My earliest memories are of the wrap around porch of my grandparents’ home overflowing with cousins and aunts and uncles eating, drinking and talking all at once, of my older cousins wearing teased bouffant hair styles, and white lipstick, their hemlines inching way above the knee, of my grandfather and his brothers drinking homemade wine and smoking hand rolled cigars beneath the grape arbors in the backyard, of going into Manhattan, my hand held firmly in my grandfather’s, to watch the circus elephants arrive in town linked trunk to tail, of Jones Beach, of Coney Island, of rambling village parades where nearly half of those marching were related to me. Of holidays: of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, Halloween and the Fourth of July where the house was always full of people who had known me since I was born.

(more…)


Reno J. Romero

What’s Wrong with California?

October 18th, 2009
by Reno J. Romero

WOODLAND, NORTHERN CA -

I moved back to California around two months ago. What brought me back home after fifteen years? Well, a few things. Personal things. Some things not so personal. In the end, I was feeling a bit tapped out in Vegas. The bones weren’t tumbling like they used to and I was almost at the point where I didn’t give a shit either way.

(more…)


Greg Boose

An Open Letter of Apology to the Guy at that Thing Who Tried to Talk to Me About Teen Wolf

October 7th, 2009
by Greg Boose

CHICAGO, IL -

Hey Jeff Maybe,

So I wanted to say sorry for ruining our conversation the other night at that thing where people were performing and I don’t know if it was a dance thing or it was a really weird play, but it was intermission.

We were grabbing a drink and you had this shocked look on your face, as if you had just seen a squirrel piloting a kite in the middle of the ocean, and so I asked “What the fuck did we just see in there?” and you answered and questioned me at the same time with “Right?”

We were talking, laughing, digesting and vomiting what we had just witnessed on that stage, and then you started imitating one of the moves from inside by dancing with your arms over your head.

(more…)


Meghan Elizabeth Hunt

All that Junk, Rattling around My Brain (AKA, the Ramblings of a Constantly Musing Woman)

October 6th, 2009
by Meghan Elizabeth Hunt

COLUMBIA, MD -

I grew up in a small village on the Connecticut River in northern New Hampshire. There were more trees and cows than there were people and up until I was a surly teenager, I loved it.

Then puberty hit and I despised my little hamlet. Outside of my family, there wasn’t a single reason to stay and every day brought me closer to college and escape.

Now I’m 10 years past that day and 4 years past the day I left New England completely behind and every fall my heart hurts. It’s like the ache you associate with an old injury, the kind of pain cold weather and rainy days bring.

Leaving New England was like breaking up with a childhood romance.

I often wonder if I’ll ever get over it completely.

(more…)


Rich Ferguson

Of Road Dogs and Lives Lost and Saved (Part 2 of 2)

October 6th, 2009
by Rich Ferguson

LOS ANGELES -

Picture the scene:

I was twenty-four. My San Francisco band was on tour. The night in question: we’d just finished playing the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, opening for The Celibate Rifles. The show had gone extremely well. Me, manning drums. Dave on guitar, Jim on bass. A great big rush and blur of wailing voices, whiskey and heartache-strung guitars, adrenaline drumsticks. Think thrashy folk music: the bastard lovechild of REM and the Violent Femmes after a long night of ecstasy and crank snorting.

(more…)


Rebecca Adler

My Life in Istanbul, So Far

October 5th, 2009
by Rebecca Adler

ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Basak meets me at the airport shuttle drop off point in the busy city center. We hail a cab and we’re off to my new apartment. She shows me how to get in and gives me a tour of the apartment. I drop my bags in my room and then we’re off again. She wants to show me the neighborhood so I won’t be lost when I’m all alone at home during the coming weeks. We walk, and walk, and walk. Where we’re going, I don’t know. She shows me her workplace, says I can come there anytime if I need help with anything. And then our destination is in sight: Cevahir, the biggest mall in Europe.

She shows me to the grocery store so I can stock up on a few necessities. I feel awkward shopping in front of her so I try to make healthy choices. I throw a couple of nectarines and bananas into the handbasket, then I head toward the dairy section. Without having to tell her what I’m looking for, and before I can reach for anything, she stops me: “That’s not milk.” (more…)


D.R. Haney

What Child Is This?

October 5th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

A relative is apparently angry at me, or so I was told by another relative. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with my contributions to The Nervous Breakdown (though this piece may well compound the situation). Rather, in his (erroneous) view, I slighted still another relative, so, on the relative’s unrequested behalf, I’m being given the silent treatment.

Meantime, last week, while in the middle of what might be described as extremely trying financial circumstances (including the death of my car), a friend texted to ask why I’d been “talking shit” about him. I could only guess as to his meaning. I’d recently discussed him with a mutual acquaintance, specifically regarding what I considered a pattern of rudeness. I should’ve spoken to my friend, as opposed to about him, but I did so because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. However, our acquaintance seems to have decided a big deal was in order, and tattled.

(more…)


Kip Tobin

“So I Was Just About To Fall Asleep, You Know, Right In That Nebulous Spot Between Being Conscious and Totally Slipping Off Into the Other Side, When the Phone Rings.”

October 4th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

BROOKVILLE, OH-

“It was 2 am on Sunday, my last week in Guadalajara and also higher education hell week when all your papers have to be finished, exams gotta be taken and your stress level is already pressing down a little further on your already-painful digestive system, strained from daily dense Mexican food and a second bout with that bastard Montezuma.”

(more…)


Lenore Zion

Sunday Morning/The Party’s Over

October 4th, 2009
by Lenore Zion

LOS ANGELES, CA-

I call it the “Sunday Morning/The Party’s Over Depression.”

When I was a kid, my parents let me have birthday parties. An entire gaggle of prepubescent girls would swarm my house and play stupid games on Saturday. Most of these games don’t have official names. There was the one where we pretended to put each other into some sort of supernatural spell, a possession of some kind, and even though we all faked it, we also all thought it was real when another girl was possessed. This always made me think there was something wrong with me. Why can’t I become possessed? All the other girls can.

(more…)


Simon Smithson

Decompressing from TNB - LA

October 3rd, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I’d been warned about Los Angeles. They (the same ‘they’ in ‘That’s what they say’) warned me that it’s a city where people smile at your face and stab you in the back; that the whole town only exists to exploit people of youth, beauty, and talent; that everyone there is obsessed with making money, making their cut, and then getting out of Dodge as fast as their new Lexus can carry them.

People characterised the city as soulless, shallow, and desperate for a quick buck.

Why people thought they should warn me, I’m not really sure. Because it sounded like I’d fit right in.

But seriously - LA, man. Now that’s a fun town. (more…)


Christopher Eaton

Taking the Waters

October 1st, 2009
by Christopher Eaton

CHICAGO-

Recently I visited a friend staying at the Four Seasons Chicago. This was a new experience for me. I usually stay at hotels where “room service” is code for “vending machine.” Among the things you can have sent to your room, free of charge, at the Four Seasons are: a humidifier, a thermometer, the bellhop (shaven and bound), and a loaner swimming suit. This last item intrigued me. I imagined the concierge forcing a lifeguard to strip so I could go swimming.

When the swimsuit arrived, I was disappointed to discover it was just a pair of men’s trunks in my size. Apparently, someone expected me to actually go swimming.

(more…)


Brin Friesen

Loot II

September 30th, 2009
by Brin Friesen

HAVANA-

Somebody once said that at the end of the world there’s always a tourist and a whore fucking in a cheap hotel. If that’s here, that whore’s mother probably made the bed and had coffee ready for them after.

(more…)


Zara Potts

So Like Totally Awesome

September 28th, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 

I’m a black and white kind of person. I either like things or I don’t. I love them or hate them. It’s one or the other. Hot or cold. Black or white. Get it? There’s not much grey in my life.

So, just to be totally clear that there’s no sitting on the fence here…

I love LA.

I totally heart it.

(more…)


Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 3: Voodoo Doughnuts and First Loves

September 28th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

I have learned many things over the past few months of book touring. Number one, grabbing a book-buying audience’s attention in the summer months is like convincing me that Dan Brown, or Stephen King, is a good writer. Number two, if you read in a venue where they make maple-bacon doughnuts, they will come. Number three, there is no other bookstore like Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. (more…)