Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Accidental Experiment: Life Without Blogging


Since September I've been involved in an unintended experiment — life without blogging.

Circumstances — new job on top of old job, complicated commute related to the aforementioned new job, great new situation at Sweet M's school and the accompanying narrative whiplash — conspired to pull me away from blogging about our lives with Sweet M in the city and about autism issues more broadly.

Often in the past two months I've found myself trolling about at my blogging friends' sites, smiling at their children's progress, worrying about their challenges, but staying silent, like a traveler without a visa or a worker without papers. If I wasn't blogging about my life, what right had I to weigh in on others? This wasn't a conscious decision, it was just the way my life went over these past months.

More times that I can count I'd find myself composing a post in my mind — while riding the train, or cleaning our apartment, or reading about something in the news that seemed to warrant comment. But those posts went unwritten . . . I didn't weigh-in on the attention-grabbing, misleading "Ransom Notes" advertising campaign launched by the NYU Child Study Center where Sweet M has been in treatment for five years. (Though I did write a letter to Dr. Koplewicz, the Center's director.) I didn't shout out a cheer when Amanda Baggs' appearance on CNN was rebroadcast, even though I was thrilled to see her there. I didn't trounce the rescue narrative that played out when Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete appeared on Oprah. I knew others would do that well, so what, really, would be the point? And I didn't cheer, as I would have, when Phil Schwartz and his family appeared in a New York Times piece about how a child's diagnosis of ASD caused them to reflect on the undiagnosed adults in the family, a story that resounds through our household. Though I guess this is recent enough that I could cheer about it right now! Three cheers Phil and family!

And then there were the posts about Sweet M that went unwritten . . . The one that would have been written to go with this photograph above would have been called "The More Things Change." Sweet M helped to make a carrot cake, but before doing so, insisted on this configuration for the measuring cups. Only my autism blogging friends would get this . . .

There would have been the post about the stim-y new habit that Sweet M has developed of taking the corner of a throw pillow from the sofa, holding it between her big toe and second toe by corner fabric, and twirling it around. (I'd have to videotape it to show you, because it's a feat that few neurotypicals could do with their feet.) She can do this for hours, while watching TV or reading. She says that it relaxes her brain; it drives her father crazy.

There would have been the post about her double-digit big-10 birthday party. As usual it was rockclimbing at Chelsea Piers, but this year, a girls-only party where I got to see the profound level of disconnection that Sweet M has from girls of her own age. There is a photograph (that won't be posted here, alas, for privacy reasons) of all the girls seated on a gym mat. Sweet M has positioned herself turned away from the group and stares into space and at her hands. At one point she took the video camera from me and decided to make a movie . . . At least as the outsider, she made good use of her vantage point.

The preliminary results of my accidental experiment are in. Life without blogging is bad for one's (at least this one's) health. I've gained weight, had multiple colds, and developed unexplained pain in joints and muscles. I've become what Sweet M calls "a grouch."

Becoming an outsider — however inadvertently — among a community where I have actually felt as though I fit, has been a micro-disaster. I'd almost go so far as paraphrasing an old Greek philosopher and saying the unblogged (autism parenting) life can feel as though it's not worth living. Long live autism blogging and bloggers, hopefully with me among them.

12 comments:

VAB said...

You've been missed.

MOM-NOS said...

Since September, I've ALSO been involved in an unintended experiment — life without MothersVox. I haven't enjoyed it.

Welcome back, my friend!

Steve D said...

I think now is an excellent time to return. My blogging dipped with the new baby hitting full mobilization (crawling) and I'm striving to keep at it even now.
I do hope you make it to SD!

Niksmom said...

Welcome home. You've been missed, as has all the news about your Sweet M and her pillow-twirling toes. (Sorry, but I could actually visualize that and it cracked me up! THAT'S some talented tootsies!)

MothersVox said...

Thanks everyone. It's good to be back. Thank god the semester is nearly over. Just a couple of exams to give and a big ole stack of papers to grade and a book manuscript to finish. I can blog through that! At least I think I can!

Drama Mama said...

Oh, how I've missed you.

Welcome back.

Sarah said...

You have been much missed and I have worn out my mouse button clicking hopefully on your site many, many times this fall. I've been so eager to hear news about you and Sweet M.

Welcome home!

kristina said...

I wonder if that Greek philosopher was thinking about the bLOGOSphere---a kosmos that provides us all with some order, amid the chaos! Happy belated birthday to M from us and we expect a full, full report.

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