Day 5, Story 5: The Fox and the Jay

From the brick church tower in the stone-clad square, Christmas bells rang out to announce the holiday’s arrival. A very delicate flurry of snowflakes dusted the otherwise quiet town. 

Down the road was a dormant field where pumpkins grew all summer for fall carving and baking. There, at odds with the peacefulness of the day, a drama was unfolding.

The fox had been hunting in the field all morning to no avail when he picked up on a most delectable scent. Mouse. 

He followed carefully. Crouching and slinking through the early morning shadows, without disturbing even a blade of the brown, frosted grass that filled the clearing. He tracked what he hoped would be his first meal in a long wintry while.

The fox sensed movement in his periphery. Pausing to investigate, he picked up on another scent and a most vibrant sight: the blue Steller’s Jay. “That troublemaker!” he thought.

“Always hunting small prey when she could be eating berries–something far sweeter. Why does she insist on taking my mouse? She must be trying to starve me out of my own territory. Fat chance!”


The Steller’s jay had been scouting the small dormant pumpkin field all morning to no avail when she spotted a most delectable sight. Mouse.

She followed carefully. Soaring and swooping in the early morning shadows, without rustling even a single twig on the bare, frosted branches of the trees that lined the clearing. She tracked what she hoped would be her first meal in a long wintry while. 

The jay sensed movement down in the grass. Pausing to investigate, she picked up on another, more vibrant sight: the red fox. “That troublemaker!” she thought.

“Always hunting small prey when he could be eating a rabbit–something much bigger. Why does he insist on taking my mouse? He must be trying to starve me out of my own territory. Fat chance!”


The fox and the jay continued their hunt, now a tense contest for a much-needed Christmas morning morsel. Having closed in, with the mouse seemingly unaware of the deadly competition, the two were finally within striking distance.

What they didn’t notice, due to intense focus on the lone mouse, were the two mice that scampered behind them. The mice stifled laughter. “Those fools!”

It just so happened that those mice were on their way to raid the cache of seeds and nuts that the jay had collected all autumn, meant to ensure survival over the long winter.

Suddenly and at lightning speed, the jay and fox attacked the mouse at the very same instant, shouting, “Mine!” Their cries served as a just-in-time warning for the mouse, who ducked into a dense leaf pile.

Just then, out from behind the pile leapt a coyote who’d been laying in wait! His patience had paid off in a golden opportunity.

Fangs flashed and the coyote’s wickedly sharp teeth snared the fox’s brush as he fled. Clumps of reddish brown fur fell to the ground from his mouth, and little crimson-tinged hairs floated in the air among scattered snowflakes.

The fox retreated to his den, finding part of his beautiful tail gone.

The jay retreated to her tree, finding her beautiful stores gone. 

At the very same moment, both the fox and jay sighed in despair, “Worst Christmas ever.” 


Late in the morning, the farmer’s daughter came out to the field with a bag of seed and a couple of mice that had been caught in the barn. She knew that there were plenty of wild creatures who would appreciate a Christmas feast, and it made her happy to provide just that.

The jay and fox watched longingly as the girl scattered the seeds and left the mice in the field. By now they were both so ravenous that as soon as she left for the farmhouse, each began approaching the gifts. Eyeing each other with untrusting glares, they paused.

“I’ll eat you up if it’s the last thing I do, jay,” warned the fox.

“I’ll scare away your prey forevermore, fox” warned the jay.

Hearty laughter rose up from behind them. It was the old coyote. Caught off guard yet again, the jay and fox froze in place. The coyote was so close, he could tear either of them apart in an instant.

“Thank you for making my life so much easier,” chuckled the coyote. “As it turns out, you’re in luck. It’s Christmas morning, and I’ve had my fill thanks to the mice.”

“You ate all the mice?” The rivals exclaimed, beginning to panic.

“Did you learn nothing this morning?” asked the coyote, rolling his eyes. “The mice and I work together.”

“You partner with the mice?” the fox and jay asked, both shocked.

“Of course,” replied the coyote. “How do you think I’ve lived this long, through so many winters? You two are so busy fighting each other, you’ve become blind to the possibilities of this world.”

“Hmph,” said the fox and jay at once. Both were pensive.

“Merry Christmas, fools. And do learn something from this. If you don’t, it will be your peril and my pleasure.” 

With a wry grin, the coyote turned to the forest and was gone. There was a brief, stunned silence.

“I suppose it is Christmas,” mused the fox.

“And we’re both hungry,” added the jay.

Realizing that there was plenty to go around, they both slowly approached the farmgirl’s offerings. Keeping an eye on one another, the fox and jay began devouring their meal.

“I can restore my winter reserves with these seeds,” marveled the jay, beginning to relax a bit.

“I can restore my strength with these mice,” marveled the fox, also starting to feel more at ease.

The jay was struck by the idea that such a strong and stealthy fox could be left so hungry and weak. “Maybe he does need a mouse from time to time,” she thought.

Meanwhile, the fox was struck by the idea that such a clever and swift jay could be left with no stores or hope. “Maybe she does need a mouse from time to time,” he thought.

They finished their feast, nodded civilly, and returned to their homes. It had been months since they felt so content.

At the very same moment, now cozy and satisfied, both the fox and jay smiled. 

“Best Christmas ever.”

The end

(Note: Remaining holiday stories can be found here as they are released each day through 12/24, and ever after.)

Another education

As we look to rebuild after everything fell apart, once again, I’m struggling to find the thread that ties it all together.

The entrenched feeding aversion that led to an NG tube as a newborn that brought us to a new understanding of autonomy. The terror of seeing her eyes suddenly and persistently cross, requiring eye patching, vision therapy and bifocals, then eventually arriving at a place where anxiety didn’t dwell and acceptance ruled. The arduous therapy of all kinds, producing tearful meltdowns, impossible breakthroughs and, ultimately, decisions to let Stella truly be Stella. The ignorant resistance then wholehearted embrace of an autism diagnosis, rooted in an awakening to the beauty and courage of difference. And now, the perilous social-emotional decline of the last two years in public school, with our next destination, and certainly an upside or lesson, nowhere in sight.

Public school is not an inclusive environment for neurodivergent kids. The enormity of the system and its disregard for the wellbeing of kids like mine is breathtaking. Individual teachers care, yes. But they are trapped in a machine that is decades behind in its understanding of neurodiversity and hopelessly constrained by tax dollars in a society with an eroded social compact.

There are so many individual parents, like me, taking on Goliath day by day, step by step, toward a livable, non-toxic educational placement for their child. But it’s painstaking and isolated. So excruciatingly hard-earned as to be out of reach for many, whether due to a lack of time, access and awareness, or financial resources. I try not to think about the costs of hiring an education advocate, exploring therapies to patch the damage of rejection and constant misunderstanding, resorting to emergency mental health evaluations, sourcing private neuropsychiatric reports every two to three years, and securing legal representation to put down some semblance of a foot to stop the machine from destroying my child. All while supporting a girl on the edge, teetering on despair in any given moment, spark still flickering but dwindling fast.

How do we create a better educational system and world for autistic kids and all those who are socially different? It starts with sharing what we know and, I believe, connecting those individual dots of effort and resistance into a cohesive movement.

It’s hard to know what to do on a daily basis. How to make some small measure of progress rather than wait around for another deadline or threat. Reading the work of autistic adults is invaluable. As is connecting with those in similar shoes. I also have a new hobby, sending very direct “feedback” to researchers whose papers innately pathologize autism and interpret difference as disorder, so deeply offending them that you’d think they were the ones with nine times the average rate of suicide and 80% unemployment regardless of education or qualifications.

I have been working full-time for a nonprofit that promotes neurodiversity employment. But it’s like shouting into the wind, it doesn’t use my true strengths in writing and creativity aside from a general passion for communicating about the topic, and I don’t think I can continue while ensuring Stella gets what she needs. Lately, I can’t seem to focus on anything but making sure she’s okay. I mean, I really can’t. Just like during those early days with the tube and the glasses and the worry about what it means to be autistic in this world.

We’re in yet another chasm, Stella and I. But we’re down here together. And all those times over the years when we’ve fallen at the foot of impossible and gotten back up to say “no” and prove it wrong—whether within individual moments or spans of months or years—are informing us now. The stakes grow higher along with Stella, who now stands five foot three. Time to rise up.

Down time. And looking up.

The inside-out view from the fort in the woods at the end of the road.

When Stella was three, she was head-over-heels into ballet. She took creative dance classes with some toe pointing and ballet basics woven in. At home, she’d wear her tutu and watch YouTube clips of internationally renowned ballet companies, memorizing the performances. The living room became a stage.

During this little window in her lifetime, I purchased our first tickets to go see The Nutcracker, performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet. I remember being so excited to tell her, “Stella, guess what? We’re going to the ballet!”

She responded, “BOOM-SHACKA-LACKA!” and pumped her little fist in the air.

Her reaction is still the best thing I’ve ever seen.

And in this time of being sequestered at home, her energy and observations in response to the shrunken world, and the wider one of her imagination, keep my outlook from falling to low places.

Like when she paints a picture with an ongoing (i.e. never-ending) story narrative that includes Elvis Presley, hybrid animal people of all kinds (she’s part wolf in this scenario), and a backstory as Swedish royalty. Or when she says something very wise, out of the blue.

Online school has been an unwelcome presence but there are moments where she engages and shines. I particularly enjoyed one paragraph, with its signature brevity and potency, that she produced for an assignment that accompanied the class’ reading of Tuck Everlasting.

They were required to write three sentences in response to a prompt: ” Why would you want / not want to live forever?”

She wrote, “I don’t think I would want to live forever. Because I’d experience friends and loved ones come and go. And I’d be very lonely.”

Stella’s snail mail correspondence has been a truly delightful glimpse into her relationships with old Seattle friends, now 3,000 miles away after our move. There’s a maturity that comes through in the thoughtful written word, it seems. “I have not forgotten you,” and “The leaning tree has fallen,” reports a younger, very dear friend, the kindhearted, bright spark of a boy who lived next door to us.

Here in our Massachusetts nook, the neighborhood kids keep their distance but some cheerfully say hello upon passing by, on every single lap around the half-mile loop.

An older woman who lives nearby gamely tried out Stella’s zip line. (Mad respect, lady.)

A new friend brought a colorful dozen eggs from their coop just in time for Easter cooking and baking.

Recently I reminded Stella that my birthday comes around next week. “I’ll bake you a cake, mama,” she said.

And right now she is eating lunch. “These are great nachos, mom!” Stella just told me, as she tried to finish quickly before her online social studies class.

I savored her sweet appreciation for a moment until she mused, “Opa once told me that when he was in the military he only had five minutes to eat. They always served corn on the cob but he had never had it so he just plucked off the kernel things one by one.”

Opa is one of her grandfathers, who came to the United States from Belgium when he was a little younger than Stella. Perhaps she now has the space to reflect and connect dots between her own experience and that of others, even with a mandatory zoom call looming. Or maybe this is how she thinks all the time, and I now have the space to notice.

We drive each other nuts sometimes. She hates the sound of chewing, especially mine, for example. But as limiting as this pandemic has been and will continue to be, Stella is a persistent miner of the vast richness to be found in small reflections and living rooms and memories.

I moved 3,000 miles to get stuck. Help?

Earlier this year, I lost my mom. In the wake of that enormous, indescribable loss, I re-evaluated everything.

I left my job. A job that was not perfect, but one that I was skilled at performing, that provided a creative outlet and wonderful people to be around, and that I usually enjoyed.

We sold our house. The one we worked so hard to fix up. Which looked amazing right as we walked away. I lived with metallic naked-lady wallpaper in one of the bathrooms for 8 years, and honestly after removing it and myself from the premises, I kind of miss it.

We moved 3,000 miles from Seattle, back to the east coast, back to family, back home, back to the baffling popularity of Dunkin’ Donuts, and in some ways for me, back to square one.

It was the right move. A necessary shake-up. We were isolated in Seattle. Although sometimes I secretly want to have another child, I’m 42, Stella is an only, and I think it’s important that she be more closely connected with her extended family. Also, it’s clear that Massachusetts, based on all I’ve read and experienced with Stella thus far, is the best state for educational and other support for autistic children. It’s downright refreshing to be in a state that actually seems to value education, and fund it accordingly.

Uh, no one wanted to be my boyfriend in fifth grade, perhaps due to a lack of social skills and an abundance of mullet.

I am so proud of Stella. She is adjusting to public school, so different, so vast compared with the tiny private school she attended up until this year. It had the world’s most sustainable building, for Christ’s sake, a living science building. This year, her classroom, in a school circa 1954, is a science lab time capsule complete with showerhead and chain at the door in case of toxic exposure to chemicals and whatnot. The building may not be alive but the teachers are amazing, the community is caring, and, heck, the cafeteria meals are made fresh in-house, and never fried. Chicken Shawarma with herbed feta and tomato salad, anyone?

Stella’s transition has expanded my view of what is right for her and what she is capable of handling. A reminder that she is incredibly resilient. I’ve realized that in a large school, with more numbers and diversity, there’s more of a chance that she’ll find her people. I’d never thought about it that way, having been fear-driven, concerned with Seattle’s lack-luster schools, and myopically focused on the advantages of a small, close-knit community. She already has a secret admirer. Really. There is a kid who wants to be her boyfriend, but he’s too shy to talk to her so he keeps sending friends over. It’s all so fifth grade. Uh, no one wanted to be my boyfriend in fifth grade, perhaps due to my glaring lack of social skills and an abundance of mullet.

Horseback riding, therapeutic for now as her legs are still so tight from toe-walking, is taking her to new places. She rides a steady, old-timer horse named Lacey, with feathering, and a bit of stubbornness to match her rider. Stella sees the older girls riding with speed and confidence, and instead of feeling less than, she feels inspired to reach for new skills. Which is so fantastic it blows my worried mind.

Stella and I recently attended an annual small-town community event, and she ran into schoolmates who greeted her with such warmth and enthusiasm, as I’d seen at her small Seattle school. I am working with her school on an IEP, to secure the support she needs, deserves and is legally entitled to receive. I suspect the state may end up paying for a private school education, for a proper fit, but we’ll see. From the Massachusetts state government, I recently ordered a copy of the special education laws, and am equipping myself with the knowledge and context I need to ensure she gets what she needs. Anyone who knows me knows that, like Stella, when I put my mind to something–get the F out of the way.

But to be honest, I’m not adjusting as well. I’m stuck yet adrift. Which makes no sense. I couldn’t motivate my way out of a paper bag, unless Stella or a “glass “of wine beckoned.

I don’t even know why the hell I’m writing this other than to attempt to take a first step.

Being not quite neurotypical myself, to say the least, I struggle with getting up and organized, and engaged and active, unless there’s a writing deadline threatening dire consequences for my finances and professional reputation, a high-stakes basketball game I need to get in top shape for, or an impending tsunami from which I’ll need to run for my life. I have a lot of passion, intellectual curiosity and interests, but lately I leave them to rot on the vine, like the unwanted cucumbers in my dad’s garden (I think we used one of fifty). While I found out that it’s a myth that parents of autistic kids are more likely to divorce, the truth is that we are not always aligned, the stress is rough on us, and we just try to get Stella through each day to the best of our ability.

In other not-great news, I wake up tired every day, and always have. I have to watch out for anxiety and depression, and always have. I find it hard to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, like a three-year-old. I think about my mother a lot, and regret not moving back while she was still with us. I don’t have much of an appetite due to what I refer to as existential nausea.

The employer I left had promised freelance work from afar, but it never really happened. The structure, energy and clarity that employment brings to my life is gone,  for now. Funny how almost messing everything up is just the shot of adrenaline I need to not mess everything up. Career-wise, I don’t know what I want to do next, except that it must be meaningful (which is super specific), and so I’m left feeling flat. And not the kind of flat that prompted relentless harassment in middle school. Summer is over so days spent at the ocean or pool are no longer on the calendar to provide vitamin D, a flock of children to hang with, and a place to go. I don’t have a new home of my own yet, so that source of creative energy is gone as well. Boy, I’m a real hoot lately, can’t you tell? YIKES.

I don’t even know why the hell I’m writing this other than to attempt to take a first step. To put a stake in the ground. An SOS on the interwebs (because that’s an effective strategy). But there’s no definitive point from which to launch. I’m full of questions. And Stella will be home from school in a half hour even though it feels like she just got on the bus.

Can I wake up?

Can I write my way out of this?

Can I survive Stella’s upcoming teen years?

Why did I drink so much champagne at the George Strait concert?

Can I get myself to start exercising?

Can I stop fighting with climate-crisis-denying idiots online?

Can I feed myself as well as I feed Stella?

Wait, did someone feed the dog this morning?

Can I forgive myself?

Why is it so hard to care for myself?

Is it too late in the day to make more coffee?

What will it take to change?


Autistic thinking is a creative boon


Thanks to Madison Schneider for the illustration. She incorporated Stella’s artwork!

Just wanted to share an article I wrote for work with inspiration from Stella: “Autism as Advantage: The Case for Neurodiversity in Design.” Let me know what you think.

View at

Despite the stereotypes and unfair assumptions that abound, many autistic people are flourishing in creative fields from poetry to illustration to film thanks to their adeptness at turning concepts and interests into truly unique expression.

Big kid years

(This post is directly from Stella. These are her own words, even her own choice of title. Out of the blue tonight, she said she wanted to update everyone on her life.)

I am now nine years old, and almost ten. I play guitar now, and I love sushi. I love learning about different cultures, like Japan, China, India and Native American peoples.

img_2814.jpgI have a dog. His name is Kansas and he’s really cute. I like how much energy he has and I like how he’s funny. He rolls around on soft things and he loves fish. He’ll pretty much eat everything. People say he looks like a little pig, and is shaped like a sausage. And I’m teaching him tricks because he’s growing up–he’s five years old.

In Kindergarten, I had an awesome teacher who taught us how to be kind, how to read, how to write, and how to be inclusive. Her name was Miss Bernhard. And I had an awesome gym teacher called Mrs. H–she worked all our muscles, and made sure we had good health. She taught us about nutrition and what’s good for us. And there are two dogs at school. Their names are Bunny and Ollie, and they belong to the principal, Barry.

In first grade, I had a really good teacher and her name was Miss Zubair. She read us cool books at story time. She taught us about math, and history. For our ticket to outside, she would ask us different math problems. When we got it right we got to go outside.

And in second grade, I shared a classroom with third graders and made new friends. I had a teacher named Miss Bond, and in the other class there was Miss Frizzle. Her real name is Nancy King. And she taught us to love geography.

IMG_2590Third grade. I had two teachers named Elana and Miss Shumway. At first Miss Shumway wasn’t with us, in the first days, because she was pregnant. And she had a baby boy named Lou. Elana and Miss Shumway taught us fractions, and I had an awesome French teacher, and she taught us all kinds of words in French. We shared a classroom with the second graders.

Now it’s summer, and next year I’m going to be ten and in fourth grade.

And now my mom works at a design agency, and she’s written really cool stuff. And I remember when I was little, her showing me a comic she wrote with her friend. She used to work for a youth company on Whidbey Island.

(Note: Here I asked Stella if she remembered anything about her early days with the feeding tube or vision therapy, as that’s a lot of what readers know from this blog, and how her story has helped people.)

I remember having a feeding tube. I remember it going into my nose and, I think, down my throat. And I had to go to eye games when I got my glasses, and I think I’ve had about four different pairs. And I’ve had to go to eye tests, and I remember the eye drops, like dropping orange formula into my eyes and it feeling like I was swimming in a chlorine pool with my eyes open. I remember them taking pictures of my eyes to do tests on.

And I’m an advanced human. That means I have no wisdom teeth. I want to be a punk rocker when I grow up, and I’m really good at guitar. I go to the School of Rock for lessons, and I used to have a teacher named Jane. Now I have a teacher named Dave. I’m working on five songs, and they have Rock 101 lists and “Helter Skelter” is one of my favorites of their second list. My favorite of their first list is “Rocking in the Free World.” Dave told me he was gonna teach me a song called “99 Red Balloons.” And the German word for it is “99 Luft Balloon.” The story is about a girl and a boy blowing up all these red balloons and sending them into the air. And the Army spots them and thinks they’re a kind of danger and everyone was worried they’d have an accidental war.

Since I need a little help with math, I go to Sparkle Spot every week, and they make math really fun. This is another good solution for autistic kids who have trouble with math. And I’m enjoying it.

The most recent fun time was my first go-karting trip. I went with my friends Avi, Ryan and Elliot. It was fun–the only part I didn’t like was when the others bumped into me. And another hard part was getting my glasses on while wearing my helmet. And my friend Avi’s dad used to teach go-karting so he taught me and my friends some techniques. At the end, I had low blood sugar and right after I had a snack in the car, I felt peaceful.

And I love swimming, and what I love most is swimming in the ocean and deep ends. I love swimming in the ocean because I get to swim with fish and I love animals and sea life. And why I love swimming in deep ends is because I love doing flips and diving and seeing how long I can hold my breath. I feel like when I’m deep underwater it’s cool. I go swimming the most when it’s hot out and at beaches. And if at the bottom of a beach floor, on a hot day, it’s cold and refreshing. And I love jumping off diving boards.


End the intolerable cruelty. 

By the end of World War II, more than three million people had been evacuated from European cities to stay clear of German bombs. Most of the evacuees were babies and children voluntarily separated from and by their parents in an attempt to keep little ones safe. It turned out that the risk of separation rivaled the threat of missiles.

Finnish children were so damaged that the effects were passed down to the next generation in the form of severe mental illness. British children also fell prey to long-term deeply negative psychological effects. This is intuitive. But if somehow you need evidence, there are countless studies demonstrating that secure attachment is crucial to basic wellbeing.

We are children We are innocent

Stella’s take on injustice against children.

As Laura Bush wrote yesterday in her Washington Post Opinion piece, one of our most shameful periods as a nation was our internment of Japanese American families at spare and desolate camps within our borders during World War II out of baseless and hysterical fear that these law-abiding parents and children were threats to national security. Even then, however, families stayed together as apparently our nation, even in such a dark and brutal time, considered that a step too far. Internment alone was so traumatic that its innocent victims endured real psychological and physical harm. We know all of this. We know that warehousing human beings is hurtful and that separating children from their parents is depraved and severe and inhumane.

As such one can only view what we are doing to families at our border as terrorism. Children and parents arriving at our doorstep seeking safe haven are being ripped apart and the reason on record is to deter others from attempting the same. It’s warfare of the mind and heart. The intolerable cruelty is in fact the entire point of the policy. And this is not, as some claim, a longstanding issue unearthed by “fake news” media nor is it a tactical remnant of Bush or Obama only now coming to light. Make no mistake. It was enacted last month by monsters within the current administration.

Let’s be clear. Terrorism is defined as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.” Terror at the most fundamental level is “a state of intense fear.” And in the political context it’s defined as “violent or destructive acts (such as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands.” Is there any greater fear than that of a child missing the people that serve as their emotional and physical anchor in this world? Look no further than World War II for confirmation that removal of children from parents rivals bombs in destructive capacity.

We can no longer pretend to be the good actors in the world. The United States is choosing to inflict intense pain and suffering on people who only want safety and who have nothing–with children’s wellbeing as the intentional fallout. Disgust. Despair. Anger. Rage. These are the only humane and justifiable responses to what is going on.

Which again brings us back to World War II. In reading about the Sisak children’s concentration camp I saw deeply unsettling and very clear connections to what is happening at this very moment in tents and Walmarts on American soil. In what was officially called the “Shelter for the refugee children,” the Croatian Red Cross secretary at the time included the following in an account of the conditions at Sisak:

The children in the children’s barracks cried inexorably and were calling their mothers, who were only a few steps away from the children, but the fascist criminals did not let mothers to approach their children… These children, who have not yet reached the age of ten, swear to us, “Come on, sister, bring us mothers, bring at least mothers to these little ones. You will see, if you do not bring them their mothers, they will suffocate, by the tears alone.

We have not only turned our backs on an ideal we once at least strove for, that ‘shining city upon a hill.’ Once the liberators of concentration camps, we are now becoming everything we claimed to defend against. So comfortable with nazis and their sympathizers and racist policies.

I can barely think about anything else as this nightmare unfolds. My own child is here with me at home tonight after her guitar lesson and a day spend with friends. Every child deserves safety, security and the opportunity to thrive. I don’t care which border they do or don’t cross. To deny parents their children and deny children the most basic of human rights–so very deliberately–is plainly a crime. Stella is nine years old and like many growing children learning to face the massive uncertainties of our world, not to mention my damned self (an adult brought up in the most beneficial of circumstances), struggles with anxiety. She still often sleeps by my side due to fears of the dark and of creaking noises in the night. I think of children screaming for their mothers and fathers at this very moment with absolutely no comfort in sight. Only a black hole of American-made terror. From every angle, it’s morally and emotionally and physically unbearable.

While the brutality and idiocy of our government is overwhelming, washing over us in waves and across screens all day every day, we can not turn away. We can and must work on behalf of the families broken by our country’s enforced hate. Otherwise how can we look our own children in the eyes? Otherwise we are not just bystanders but enablers of another historical and irreparable evil.

Sign the petition.

And this petition by the ACLU. 

And this MoveOn petition.

And please call your representative demanding an end to this terrorist policy.

If you know of any other actions that can be taken immediately or over the coming days and weeks, however long it takes to enforce change, please leave a comment.





On the madness of the world

I would like to chime in. However briefly and inconsequentially. This blog post will be hastily written but also from the heart. I am terrified and enraged about the actions unfolding from our nation’s capitol.

Through this blog, I have connected with mothers (and a couple of fathers) from around the world. Australia. Pakistan. England. Indonesia. Nigeria. South Africa. United Arab Emirates. Canada. Singapore by way of Turkey (love you, Hatice and Miray!) and Ohio (Hi Sylvia!) and Illinois (Hey Erin!) USA.

Thanks to technology, in my darkest hour and through today, I have heard and continue to hear from mothers across the globe. And the simple truth is this: We are all the same.

My baby wouldn’t eat. I remember feeling like I was going insane. I remember feeling so isolated and consumed with worry. I remember feeling like it was my fault. Then I started this little blog and it became a lifeline. You all saved me. Regardless of nationality, religion or circumstance, you said, “Me too!” You shared with me your feelings, too. And as it turned out, your feelings were identical to mine. We are the same. A transcendent sisterhood.

That is why I am grateful for the difficult experiences of my own early months and years of motherhood. Goodness! My old self would slap my face if she heard that! I was angry and dark and so anxious I could not eat. I resented Pampers commercials featuring cherubic sleeping babies with tape- and tube-free cheeks. But even amid all that angst I did not and could not blame or turn against others. It would’ve been easy, too. There are many in this country who blame their lack of prosperity–and lack of decent healthcare for that matter–on “others.” But I know better. Partly because I come from a family that once had very little. But mostly because when I reached out, you reached back. I owe you a debt of gratitude.

When the President of the United States, who by the way lost by about three million votes including mine, chooses to shut out the world in order to fake a feeling of safety, every cell in my body resists. Only through connection and openness can we maintain our humanity and wellbeing. I learned that firsthand.

All my love,





Winter is leaving

I will miss her bracing brisk air
Sharp crystals and soft mounds of snow
A rest from heat and pause in growth
Cold quiet that heightens your aliveness
And insulates the roots of the trees

We have softened ourselves flat
In the warmth of convenience
Except in plastic decorative odes
To ancient seasonality and rhythm
And winter has no place here anymore

Earthbound rituals gave way long ago
Replaced by the relentless disconnect
Enforced by commerce as religion
And winter has no place here anymore

I remember sledding through the woods
Into trees and over boulders and brush
Until we found the path to carry us over
All the way to the winding street below
Freer and happier than any summer day

The preciousness of nature’s cycles
And the wildness of existence have faded
A housing development replaced the forest
Of our seemingly vast childhood kingdom
And winter has no place there anymore

But she will not go quietly into oblivion
The rage of the unheard and discarded
Wells up in nature like the rising tide
Demanding penance before taking leave
Of a world unworthy of her wonders

Where do you keep your garlic?


As you’ll witness at any mall in the United States, the mental states of humanity reside on a vast spectrum. Our brains are not so easily compartmentalized from one another—and I don’t care what the DSM says. I recently bought a white ceramic garlic holder from Crate and Barrel. Joyce helped me by holding my clean, white mixing bowls—replacements for my decade-old chipped set—at the counter while I browsed, and I eventually placed the comically oversized garlic replica in the basket she’d handed me. It really is shaped like an enormous head of garlic, but with holes for aeration. Now, every time I glance at this newly acquired thing, I’m truly delighted in a heartfelt way. It cost $16 but feels much more valuable, perhaps because I perceive it as functional art, mass-produced as it is. My fixation doesn’t seem exactly “normal,” does it? But we all fall in love with objects and covet a great unnecessary number. Just in varying degrees. Someone diagnosed with what is referred to as “autism” may seem, at least to so-called neurotypical people, to prefer objects over humans. But browse at ebay sometime, where all kinds of mental states track vintage bowls or new designer dresses and whatnot over weeks and compete to win. Immerse yourself in the vastness of Walmart and really take in the scale of STUFF. Peer into meticulously kept and totally unkempt closets across this country. Go to the nearest estate sale, where the often innumerable possessions of the Greatest Generation are up for grabs to the rest of us, and see the acceptable hoarding associated with decades of booming prosperity. We trade our lives for things. It’s just a matter of degree. No one needs five rakes. There is simply no good reason to own 30 cheap T-shirts or 15 ceramic knomes. We can do without garlic holders, certainly.

I was listening to my local NPR station, KUOW, one morning in the car when I heard a panel of guests discussing their views on and the company’s role in and value to our tech-drunk city of Seattle. It happened to be the multiple male guests who expressed a positive view of this Web-based behemoth, whose prime service I utilize quite frequently. Its innovative, job-spurring presence, to them, represents the spirit of our growing metropolis. After another of their blindly glowing reviews of Amazon’s impact, the lone woman on the panel blurted out, “But all Amazon is doing is helping us buy more garbage!” There followed a brief moment of total crickets, pure stunned silence, in which I smiled so wide it hurt. I don’t know who she is, but ever since, I have wanted to write that woman a letter of enthusiastic appreciation. I wonder what she thinks about her statement, if it even registered as a powerful for her, as it did for me, especially given the non-reaction she received on air. Did she ever receive the high five she deserved? I wonder if, like I often do, she cringes herself to sleep because she uttered something truthful that pushed everyone off center. She deserves applause and a book deal. Certainly not an ADD diagnosis for interrupting the accepted form of object madness.