Monday, August 18, 2014

I Have a New, Regular Blogging Gig--On Psychology Today Magazine's website!!

Hey there, Readers!

How ARE you?  Mad at me? I know, I've been a crappy blogger-friend.

But hey, you know. Pain. Depression. Pining for Benjy. Listening to Saskia sing, angel that she is.

WRITING. JOY. YEAH!!!

OK, here's the 411.

Ben is amazing. So proud, we are. So handsome, he is. And brave. And healthy!

We'll have him the entire last week of August, and Readers? I CANNOT WAIT.

Saskia is soon to start her arts high school, as a junior. We are all hugely excited. Looking forward to a year filled with performances of all kinds!

Lars is...Lars! Gotta love him. No, not you! ME. And I sure do.

And here's the biggest news of all:

I'VE BEEN OFFERED A REGULAR BLOG ON THE WEBSITE OF PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. That's the magazine you read in waiting rooms. And hopefully lots of other places, as it's a very good one. What an honor!

What to Expect When You Get the Unexpected.

I am so excited about this--you can't imagine. The general subject matter will be similar to that of the Nickel...but less informal, fewer (read: 0) Hellacious Hound posts, and a bit less humor at Lars's expense.
(I know, bummer...you won't be reading entire posts about holey clothes.  Although I could always satisfy your holey clothes cravings back here at the Nickel. ;)

You can also expect film and book reviews on occasion, over at the new blog, and more multimedia engagement in general.

Anyway, please, please join me at my new blogging home! I'm committing to blogging there every MWF, so get ready! (And keep your fingers crossed for me--that's a lot of writing!)

Can't wait to catch up with you here! xox



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oh Boy, Am I Worried

In fact I am so worried, that my long-dormant blogfire ignited today and, well, here I am. The Delinquent Blogger. The One Who Struggles to Get Things Done.

I am trying so fucking hard to be mindful and open and let myself rest. TO JUST BE. I talk a good game, don't I? Sometimes I play one, too.

But this world scares me. I'm frightened for Saskia. For Benjy (but you knew that). For my elderly parents, for me, and for Lars. Because this world seems increasingly not made for people like us. We are all -- in our various combinations of female, elderly, ill (mentally and/or physically), and not wealthy – extremely vulnerable. I believe that. I do. 

It's not just Ben anymore. Probably it never was just Ben I had to worry about, but I had no time or energy or heart to take that truth on and wrangle with it.

Readers, sometimes it feels like we, here in America, are all boiling away in one big, messy stew of trouble.

Admittedly, I DO have an anxiety disorder, and I HAVE struggled with depression over these many years of pain and loss -- more or less balanced, I have to say, by interludes of pleasure and heady, happy love. But don’t brush me off because of it. I’ve learned to distinguish between the concern-worthy and the silly. I may not always behave like it, but I can tell the difference. Today, as I was yesterday and the day before, I am really, truly frightened.

Let's just call what I’ve got by its proper name: illness of the psychiatric order. Forget whether or not there is any causal link between the traumas I’ve endured and these issues. Who cares? Others in my family have struggled with the same stuff and then some -- and in Lars's family it’s the same deal.

What I mean to say here, is that I have some conditions that could and should be characterized as mental illnesses.

Obviously, Benjy's mental health problems did not spring fully formed out of a vacuum. Nor are he and I particularly unusual in our dysregulations. If one were to make an honest assessment of the full spectrum of psychiatric disorders among the human populations of this earth -- and why don't we add the animals while we're at it, because there exists empirical evidence that they, too, can and do experience emotional trauma -- I would bet anything one would discover that the majority of us sit somewhere on the wide spectrum of mental illnesses.

Then there is this thing called Asperger's. It's not a mental illness. But the two kinds of disorder often travel together. If you've been reading this blog for a while you know this.

And here's why I am so distraught these days, and why my angst pulled me out of this gloomy hiatus so I could write, today, about the convergence of those two illnesses: Another mass killing has occurred. And the usual shit is hitting the ether and the airwaves. Oh yeah, HE HAD ASPERGER'S AND MENTAL ILLNESS. NO BIG SURPRISE THERE.

Well, actually, if these facts are true about this young man (and certainly I would not dispute the latter; it's pretty obvious, if you watch clips from his final video, or read his “manifesto,” that he was seriously divorced from reality) it IS a surprise. Because there is tons of evidence, from scholars and clinicians and caregivers, that people with either or both of these conditions are FAR more likely to be victims than victimizers. 

The best analogy to this confusion I can think of is airplane disasters. You might think, if all you did was consult the media, that death by airplane crash/explosion/hijacking, and so on, was a common occurrence. It's not -- but the millions of safe passages every month don't make for good news fodder, so we never hear about them. Therefore, lots of people jump to an uninformed conclusion and are afraid of flying. (Or they are like me, and plagued by a host of unreasonable phobias -- which is also a lame reason to avoid airplanes.)

See the connection? It's not as though there have only been ten or twelve young men afflicted with Asperger's and mental illness in recent American history and they all turned out to be creepy mass murderers. So why assume that the combination is always, or even often, a deadly one? We are all around you, folks. We people with emotional dysregulation. With Asperger’s. With both. We are not usually detectable because we are mostly functional people living within the accepted range of “normalcy,” whatever that means. We just have some shit we’re dealing with. Like everyone else on this planet.

If I used the same faulty logic I hear used repeatedly in the media, and concluded right here and now that the only common variables in the latest (and hey, every other) massacre were XY chromosomes and guns, I would be metaphorically (I hope) pounced on and eviscerated. I would deserve it, too – because these incidents suggest a complex and toxic cocktail of forces. It’s easy to blame a single person or diagnosis. It’s a lot harder to look closely at ourselves and the culture we live in. Yeah, that kind of interrogation hurts.

So here’s the thing: I have serious anxiety and intermittent depression. I am a writer, a mother, an erstwhile scholar and teacher. I try to be kind, to give others the benefit of the doubt. I love love and I hate hate, and am often but not always successful living my life in that context. I cherish my family with such ferocity, you'd better not even THINK about hurting one of them.

Sometimes my anxiety and depression get in the way of life. Never have they injured ANYONE, except by making those who love me sad.

And then there’s Benjy. He has the double whammy: Asperger's and a boatload of mental health disorders. He works harder than ANYONE I HAVE EVER KNOWN, and with a thousand strikes against him, to do well and do good. He worries about people who suffer, and about animals who suffer, too. About the planet we need to take care of, so it can take care of us. He reaches out to others in need. He has endured six hospitalizations, a million humiliations, a thousand-and-one drives all the hell over the place for medical and psychiatric appointments. And he is only just 14 years old.

My boy.

I spent the past ten long, weary years fighting for his happiness and his life, and I am still fighting, because this stuff is forever. Benjy is still alive, and he is sometimes happy now. I count this as a triumph. The physical and emotional injuries I have suffered on our journey I celebrate: they are my war wounds. My family is intact.

So what's my point, again? (I know. When I'm morally outraged I lose focus. What can I say?) Oh yeah, it's this:

LET'S GET IT RIGHT. LET US SPEAK, WITH REASON, WITH PATIENCE, WITH EVIDENCE, WITH DELIBERATION AND THOUGHTFULNESS, ABOUT THE REAL ISSUES.

Don't make casual and damning comments like, "Oh, he had Asperger's and mental illness. Big surprise." Because words have power, and they can ruin lives when not used with care.

I think the real issues are these:

  • Inadequate access to mental health care.


  • Lack of public education about this problem, and the public health and safety disasters that said lack of access to care has created.


  • Fear of and hatred toward that which is "different."


  • GUNS EVERYWHERE. And don't tell me about the knife. Don't even bother.


  • Systemic and culturally sanctioned misogyny -- and yes, Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post makes a very important point. Just take a look (if you dare) at the online subcultures Rodgers engaged with. And hey, Hollywood: you may just be a wee bit culpable here. Maybe even a little more than wee. Not any one actor or director or writer, but the whole shebang of you guys. Yeah, you. And lest I come off as sanctimonious, I’m probably a wee bit culpable, too.


 So please, can we PLEASE talk about what just happened, yet again, in ways that make sense? In language that forces all of us, as a society of people more or less united (CONGRESS? That includes you, because Legislators are People, my Friends), to take some responsibility for the shit that keeps going down in our country?

Pretty please? Thank you.  


Monday, April 28, 2014

We Are ALL Like That!

Last Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of watching the Metropolitan Opera's really fine production of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, via MetHD at our local multiplex. This is an opera I have seen live at the Met (but not for many years) and listened to on CD and radio simulcast, and in bits and pieces on YouTube quite a lot over the years.

This time it was different. Or I was different.

The title of the opera translates to "All women are like that." And yes, it is a pretty annoyingly sexist title, and the premise of the opera is also pretty annoying. Because the "that" referred to is unfaithful. Fickle. And possibly: not so very bright.

As is always the case with Mozart, though, the music is transcendently beautiful.

But as one of the three Mozart operas with libretti by Lorenzo DaPonte (the other two being The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and they both have more layers and more stuff going on), this one always disappointed me. Because, you know, I was a woman and a feminist and I was going to BE SOMEONE.  Right?

Well, I am still a woman and a feminist. The "someone" part of that equation is open to debate, but in my humble opinion trending negative. (I'm pretty sure I'm going to get verbally bopped on the head for the last half of this paragraph.)

But here's what's funny: as I grow older, as I experience more of the lovely pleasures and really horrible challenges life can and often does throw one's way, I become less and less sure. Of myself, of others, of everything.

I mean, who the hell knows??

So I went to the multiplex yesterday, with Lars and Saskia and my parents, thinking: I will love the music and the voices and, no doubt, the acting (opera singers today are pretty fine actors, too), and the sets and the costumes, but I will not like this story all that much. :(

But I found myself sitting there just being open. This new openness in me possibly grows out of aging, and perhaps a waning of my old eagerness to fight what seemed wrong. Out of being just plain tired of struggle and strife.

You might think I am talking about apathy, that I just don't care about things anymore, but that's not it. I think it is really a species of mindfulness. Willingness to be open and quiet and not so judgmental, to really look at what's coming my way.

When I looked and listened last Saturday I realized I knew very little about this opera that I thought I knew everything about. This does not mean I got it TOTALLY wrong and in fact it's a subversive feminist piece.

Hahahaha! Nope.

But it has some things to say, if we allow ourselves to hear them. I'm not sure 18th-century or 19th-century audiences did. Maybe not opera-goers of the 20th century, either. Maybe not many people today, even.

But when Dorabella tries to convince her sister Fiordiligi that they should accept the proposals of their "Albanian" suitors while their fianc├ęs are presumably out at sea fighting some battle or other, and she says, "Well, something is a whole lot better than nothing" -- rather like "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" -- it got me thinking about the vulnerability of women.

Not just back then, either. I know women who've agreed (or chosen) to stay home and raise their kids while supporting their husbands in their careers -- or have done so out of necessity driven by illness or disability (hell-o!) -- only to be thrown overboard when a newer, less TIRED model came along.** And it is not so easy to swim to shore when you've spent the last ten or fifteen or twenty-five years out of the work force. You might very well have kick-ass project management skills -- you might even have several graduate degrees under your belt and be an honorary physician, therapist, and accountant -- but no employer, and not that many other folks who haven't walked in your shoes, will embrace the skills you developed at an unpaid job as "real" skills.

Another thing I saw this time was that the one character in the whole story who shows any real depth of feeling, any kind of inner struggle and genuine emotional pull, is Fiordiligi.

The two guys,  Ferrando and Guglielmo -- suitors and fake suitors of the sisters (it's a long, complicated story which you will not get from me now because it's EARLY and I am tired) -- are simply a couple of immature and confused and egocentric young men. The other guy, Don Alfonso, is older and more worldly, but no better. The only potentially likable characters in Cosi, to me, at least, are the female ones. I like the scheming maid, Despina, because she IS a schemer, and cheerfully mercenary to boot. Good for her!

And the sisters? The women who supposedly exemplify female treachery? They are two young women simply trying to keep their heads above the rising waters.

So, this time around, sitting there open and quiet and just being in the joy that is the music of Mozart, I saw and heard something new. We are ALL "like that." Confused, at times unfaithful. Vulnerable and insecure. Schemers in love and in money. Trying to LIVE, in  whatever ways we can.

I "got" these characters. I never really did before.

I believe this is the most important lesson in Cosi Fan Tutte, even though I suspect its authors and generations of its audiences took (and still take) its message to be: "Women. Ya can't live with 'em, and ya can't live without 'em."

Which could sometimes be true. Sometimes we suck. So do men, So does my dog. So does that mountain of laundry that grows like a fungus in my basement. SO WHAT? As long as we don't inflict wounds too deep on others or ourselves, it's no big deal in the scheme of things.

(I am not including the acts of extraordinary cruelty inflicted by people on other people or animals, or on the environment, every single day. Those things are definitely not okay.)

So here's the punch line, Ladies and Gents: I AM SO NOT WHO I ONCE THOUGHT I WAS. And life is not anything like what I assumed it would be.

I think life and I both might be better than that, even with our many shortcomings and failures.

I have lost an inconceivable number of people and things. I have a child who no longer lives in my home, in spite of my impossibly huge love and admiration for him. That still shakes me when I allow myself to think about it too deeply...I have not yet learned how to fully understand that reality.

 I have another child who may very well play Fiordiligi one day, if not at the Met then at some other venue, large or small.

And I have a husband who was a son of the Arch Enemy, an impossible partner for me -- and yet the only man in whose company I can imagine growing old, and in whose embrace I feel joyful, beloved, and safe.

Who the fuck knew??? Jeepers. Life is just like that, I guess.

**This is not me. I don't expect I'll ever be thrown overboard for a newer model. But the other stuff is my stuff, and I am in good company.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Healing Projects

Happy spring, Readers! And not a moment too soon. :)

I thought I would give you a family update and then hint at some plans I am gestating -- either brilliant or nutso plans, TBD -- to guide me toward greater wellness.

As advertised, here is the update: Life is better. I am not continually struggling against the death-grip of anxiety, trauma, exhaustion, illness, and fear. I say "not continually" because life throws crap at you now and then. Of course. But I (along with Ben, and Lars, and Saskia) have discovered some of those quiet interludes in which healing can begin.

We have figured out what we need to recover, and where we can get it.

For Ben, it is a school in the country. Horses. Sheep. Chickens. Sports of every stripe. Community. Friends. Space from the people who love him most, fought like hell for him, and found (somehow) the strength and wisdom to understand that sometimes love and fight are simply not enough.

You would not believe him if you saw him right now -- even if you only know him from this blog. I miss him like crazy, and I am so proud of him I cry when I tell people about him, or talk to his teacher or house parents. I cry when I see him laugh -- YES! He does that now! -- and when he opens his arms wide to me and says, "Mom, can I hug you? I love you so much."

(I am crying right this very minute, in spite of the fact that at my feet lies the pinnacle of fluffy cuteness, with an exposed belly and an inviting look on his face. The Fluff Therapist in IN.)





For Saskia it is a private arts school where she can devote herself to her singing as well as academics, where there are others as devoted to their arts as she is to hers. And (I hope) sufficient time spent on the butterscotch couch with her old lady, watching Bad TV.

For Lars, it is the becalming of his own, previously unacknowledged anxiety, and a desperately needed respite from the trauma and illness that was grinding the four of us into dust.

For me? Oh, where to begin... Well, I am learning to take care of myself. To pace myself every single day so that my chronic pain and fatigue do not lurch into overdrive. I am learning that it's OK to rest, to NOT be a doer every moment of the day. To not be the first person in the room with a book contract or a kick-ass blog, or a wide fan base. (Fan base???)

I am trying to kick the Mombot out of this house. Out of me. And believe it or not, I am seeing some success.

All that learning and Mombot ass-kicking I'm doing suggests something very, very important: that the chaos, the maelstrom, the shit-storm that had occupied my brain 24/7 for the past 12 years, has finally moved on. Not 100% -- I am WAY too anxious and restless for that. But one of the perks of not trying to figure out, EVERY WAKING MOMENT, how you will keep people alive and not let important things slip through the cracks and remember the names and dosages of a thousand-and-one psych meds, and find a way to do your paid work right so you won't lose the job you desperately want to leave but can't -- one of the perks of that is that you can focus on other stuff, like getting healthy.

So that's what I'm doing -- just like my darling boy does in his school and his home away from home.

And that leads me to my healing projects. I'm only offering a hint right now.

One of them looks like this:


And the other? Kind of like this:


Stay tuned for more on the healing projects...as they grow clearer to me I will share the details of them with you.

And now, Readers, I am so exhausted from writing this post I will have to take a little siesta on the butterscotch couch.

Good night. ;)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In Honor of National Autism Awareness Day...

I am thrilled to share an amazing essay by my dear friend Daphne, about how music has made a difference in the life of her autistic son, Ben. (Yes, Ben. And it's his real name. ;)

Here's the link:

http://www.newtonfamilysingers.org/essay/singing-his-part/

Do read this. You won't regret it. And as soon as possible I'll bring Daphne back...she and I have quite a bit to say about "autism awareness" and the baggage it brings with it.

But what I want to sign off with now is this:

Autism families, whether you celebrate your loved one(s) with autism or grieve for them (or both); whether you like or hate vaccines; whether it is with joy or a sense of loss that you make the sacrifices we all must make if we parent or live with someone on the autism spectrum -- let's just acknowledge our kinship as people who love and fight for our kids. And people who get bone tired or depressed or giddy with joy, or who are losing brain cells and money and sleep, or sprouting gray hairs, over what we do every single day.

Here's to putting one foot in front of the other -- whenever we manage to do it! YAY us!!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How We Talk About Depression and Suicide

Yeah, we. As a culture. As parents. As teachers and grandparents and friends.

Believe me, I've pondered this topic many, many times. Those of you who are old-time readers of this blog know why. How do you say it right? How do you even know what to say?

The first time my younger child uttered those chilling words we all fear and prefer not to repeat in mixed company -- the dead words, as I like to think of them -- he was four years old. Yup. Totally impossible...but it happened, then and many times afterwards. You can read about it here.

You might not have known that pre-schoolers can yearn after death, just like teenagers and middle-agers and elderly folks. What they can't easily do, unless they are totally ignored by the adults in their lives, is pull it off. But they can wait for the day they are big enough, or brave enough, to move ahead with it.

There are a few reasons I've returned to the topic that prompted me to start The Striped Nickel way back in 2011. Not one of them is about my boy, who is now a teen, and who can finally think about LIVING his future rather than snuffing it out.

YES!!!!!

But I've been thinking a lot about death these days. Not because I'm depressed (although at least half the time I am), but because death is all the hell around us.

First of all -- and this is an old, old story but it always makes me cry -- Flanders Field. President Obama was there the other day for a visit. And I was thinking about The Great War and the devastating and beautiful music and poetry that came out of its great brutality and its heaving collective anguish. So that itself made me sad, and then I realized (duh) that WWI ignited one hundred years ago. And that WWII came and went not much later.

I'm not saying it's a BAD thing those days are long past. But I spent most of my life up till now in the 20th century. I was born just about 20 years after the end of the second world war. And I guess I am just getting old.

Then there are all these 21st-century deaths surrounding us.

Death by rogue airplane.
Death by mudslide.
Death by fire.
Death by water.
Oh yeah, and death by totally unnecessary evils, like FUCKING AUTOMATIC WEAPONS in the hands of anyone who feels he might need one while deer hunting. Or people pretending to "stand their ground" while apparently thinking they're just gonna "clean up the streets."

Sorry. Rant over.

This is a really scary, and really hard world. And that brings me back to children and suicide.

Tonight Saskia and I watched a local television program, Chronicle, about a recent cluster of suicides in a neighboring suburb. It's a place pretty much like the one we live in. Affluent, pressured. Nice to look at. Nice to live in if you can find people to connect with. (We have, but not all that many.)

A pretty horrible place to attend high school in.
Our town had ITS cluster of teen suicides between about 2004 and 2006. And these deaths forced a lot of people to think about what the hell is going on in our schools. But not hard enough, apparently, because not all that much has changed.

Sure, we have great suicide prevention programming in town these days, run by a great team, and we have student activists working tirelessly to promote a healthy school atmosphere.

But I hear the talk. I know that kids in our town are always saying things like, "I might as well kill myself if I don't get into Harvard or Yale."

Or, "I don't have time for dinner tonight. If I eat I will not finish my homework until 2 a.m., and it's hard enough to get through the day when I go to bed at the usual time." (Yes, it was my kid who said that, and the usual time is about 1 a.m.)

I know that these high school students have to choose between a little down time after school, a hangout with friends or in front of the TV, maybe some time in the sun, and finishing their CRAZY loads of homework with enough time left over for luxuries. Like food and sleep. I know they stress over what will become of them if they take only two ACCELERATED subjects and the rest merely at HONORS level. And whether not taking as many AP courses as possible will render them unable to attend college and homeless by the time they are thirty.

I know this. It is not news to me. And as sad as I am about three beautiful kids recently lost from the town next door, I am not remotely surprised.

What DID surprise me was how many people interviewed on Chronicle tonight kind of hefted all the responsibility for these tragedies on the kids who took their own lives.

Language like, "That was NOT okay. That was SELFISH. I loved him/her, I miss them, and they made a really bad choice."

Yeah. Damn straight they did. But I'm really not sure suicide is a choice, or that it feels like one to the person who simply cannot figure out a way to keep on living. It is so fucking hard to live in this world I almost can't breathe. And I live in greater Boston, not Syria. You know? I feel RIDICULOUS even saying so, but to me it is true. And to so many others, I assure you.

Getting back to the language of blame: Benjy has never been intentionally selfish. Maybe a little, when he's seriously dysregulated. But he has always loved, and known he was loved. And he has wanted, many, many times, to take his own life. He has even, on the darkest of days for both of us, asked me to help him do it.

I will never, ever say that Benjy made bad choices, that what he felt was "not OK." What he felt was unbearable pain and anguish, and it was not a choice.

Ben did not fail anyone, but a lot of people, a lot of adults and kids alike, failed him.

I hope beyond hope that Lars and I were not among them. Or at least not very often.

What I really wanted to hear from these folks on TV tonight was an acknowledgment that some person or people, and some institution or institutions, failed these terribly sad kids.

They were not bad kids. LOOK at them, for fuck's sake. And I'm sure their parents are not bad either, and are heartbroken in ways I hope most of us will never experience.

Let's just talk honestly about this stuff. You know?

In the Chronicle segment, if you watch it, there's a bit on Needham High School's Own Your Peace/Piece project. It's a cool thing. There's an assembly where kids get to stand up and own their struggles.

Saskia said that last year there was some really raw stuff. Kids talked true. Substance abuse. Cutting. That particular species of despair caused by school-suckage. Whatever.

So you know what? This year the struggles got pwned. They got censored. Or else every student in that school got a lot happier and a lot less tormented. No one talked about the tough stuff. No one talked true.

At least, that is how it appeared to someone who was there. And that person is hugely disappointed in the institutional and adult failings behind this year's Own Your Peace rally.

There's way too much fake talk in this world. Let's fix that, Readers! Let's DO IT!





Friday, March 21, 2014

Making a Comeback, One Inch at a Time

So, it's been more than three months since you've heard from The Nickel.

Yes, I am still alive. Most days, at least. And still trying to write, in my slow and small ways. I DID have a short story come out a month or so ago on the fantastic online young adult lit journal YARN. Click the journal name to read it. This is the Story Formerly Known as "Hello, Kitty." It's got an even better title now, thanks to the brilliance of fabulous writer/editor Diana Renn: "Small Change." You'll see why Small Change works better when/if you read the story.

Because my attention  span and energy are limited these days, I'm going to give you the updates you deserve in a bullet list. Here goes:


  • Benjy, Benjy, Benjy. He looks like the almost-14-year-old boy he is. He is crazy-handsome (but as I am his doting mother you may discount this statement at your discretion). Tall, a bit zitty (but who isn't at 13.10?), athletic. He is the person we always dreamed he could be and more so. Happy, mostly. Engaged. Taking on leadership roles at school. Making very good choices. Mentoring other kids. He's doing chores that I would have (im)politely declined at his age -- and might still. He is doing so well in school. He's recovered his quirky interests, and his focused brilliance. Tonight we will see him moving sets and props at the school's production of The Wizard of Oz. Yeah, he's the chief sets and props guy. Who would ever have guessed? Oh, and he is becoming a star archer. Man, can that kid pierce a  target right on the bulls eye. Nerves of steel and steely focus.
  • Saskia! What can I say? Her goodness is the best part of her. Her conscientiousness, her extraordinary work ethic. Her beautiful and generous willingness to work after school, in spite of outrageous loads of homework as well as community service, to help pay for her voice studies. Never a complaint. But here is the best news of all: through her own hard work -- and yes, talent -- and with a lot of gladly proffered effort on my part around admission and financial aid applications, she was accepted into one of the premier arts high schools in the country starting next year. It's not far from home so she will be a day student, thank goodness -- and she is over-the-moon excited. So are we. And grateful that she can have this chance.
  • Not much new at this point with Lars and me, except that we have bucked the trend of disability parents splitting up due to the pressures of living the kinds of lives we tend to live. We are stronger and better than ever, even though my own life has been altered -- but not necessarily for the worse -- by my new constant companion Fibromyalgia, and all its co-morbid minions.
Readers, we're OK. And I promise to try to bring The Nickel back to life. So stay tuned. And happy Friday to you all!