Cindy: Hey… we need an introduction. Or, like, an “About Us” section. You know what I mean, right?
Kirk: Well yeah, of course. If we’re going to start this blog we’ve gotta get things ready to go.
C: Exactly. So do we want to write it together?
K: Well, it’s not like we’re going to write this whole blog together, though.
C: That’s true. But if the blog is about us, we’re certainly going to have to overlap SOMETIMES, right? I mean, our lives overlap— what with the living together in marital bliss and raising a child and all.
K: And the cats. Don’t forget them. They’re family too.
C: I could never forget them. They won’t let me. They’re sitting on my laptop RIGHT NOW. Why do you think I’m not already blogging?
C: Okay yes. But Walter’s got his furry ass on my keyboard, so I’m going with that right now… Plus, I’m trying to wrap my head around the intro thing. If you don’t want to write it together, how do you want to do it? Do we want to introduce ourselves? Or each other maybe?
K: How about we each write our own piece of the intro on our own.
C: I’m in. But I would like the right to defend myself against whatever you write about me.
K: Only if I have the same right.
C: Fair enough.
Hi I’m Cindy. I’m the mom/wife/cat lady of the bunch. I live in Western Wisconsin with Kirk (he’s the daddy in this situation— and, yes, that’s a My Favorite Murder quote), Nolan (he’s the amazing teenage son) and our three cats (Frodo, Jeffrey Lemeowski and Walter Sobcat). Collectively, I refer to them as “my boys”. I have a TON to tell you about this hidden gem of a place that we live, but I’ll save that for future posts…
So how would I describe us? Let’s see… I think I need to start with Nolan. In general, he comes first in everything else, so why not? Nolan is our son. He’s 13, and he lives with severe autism. Now before your brain thinks about the quirky but super smart kid you know who knows everything there is to know about WWII era aircraft, that is not our son. Yes, Nolan is brilliant. Yes, he is quirky. But for the most part, Nolan doesn’t speak. And we still struggle with issues like toileting, oral hygiene and other self-care tasks. He is an all-day every day occupation for us. But don’t get me wrong for a second… He is the light of my life, and I would cover myself in paper cuts and then swim naked in lemon juice to make his life better. So yeah… He defines a lot about me— about us really.
People around us who don’t necessarily know me that well probably know me either as “that loud kid’s mom”, “the skinny dude’s wife” or even just “that lady in the Prius with all the middle fingers”. People who do know me wouldn’t argue about the middle fingers. I’m certainly not a girl who’s angry with the world, but I’m in my forties, and I’ve run out of fucks to give. If I pick up any more fucks along the way, I plan to hang onto them for things that are worthy of my giving a fuck.
In general, I’m a pretty low-maintenance girl. I work full time outside of the house, and any non-working hours that Nolan is awake, I’m on duty. In general, I’m pretty tired. So basic is about all I’ve got the energy for.
And I deal with stress using humor. Plus I have a teeny tiny attention span. These things both stress Kirk out even more than usual.
Kirk is generally greeted with “Hey— you’re who guy who runs” or “Hey— we miss seeing your stuff in the paper”. Kirk was a sportswriter for the local newspaper for a lot of years (I’m sure he’ll tell us exactly how many when we get that far). And he’s a runner. Plus, we’re not living in a major metropolitan area, so people tend to know each other or at least have a vague idea of who people are.
Really? He’s the full-time Nolan Wrangler. He’s a stay at home dad with a couple of side hustles doing transcription of city committee meetings and helping an estate sale company whenever he’s able. He loves the estate sale gig because he’s a huge history buff. Plus he’s a collector— of old lunch boxes, sports memorabilia, older Marvel Comics and (most important) vinyl records. It keeps him out of trouble. Mostly.
Yes, I admit it: I still am a writer.
I've spent the last 9 1/2 years -- the amount of time since I left my job as a sportswriter at the La Crosse Tribune and the newspaper industry -- telling people I've come in contact with that I no longer was a writer. It was as if the spirit of Jim Casy, a character from one of my favorite books, "The Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck, had jumped from the pages of my well-worn copy of the book and possessed me. Jim was a former preacher -- he always emphasized "former" when anyone asked -- and he never, never, NEVER, would preach again. The same held true with me if someone asked if I still wrote or would one day write again. My typical response was a polite 'no.' Sometimes, my inward response was an eye roll and a "Are you fucking kidding me?"
And yet here I am, willingly participating with Cindy in this blog about our son, Nolan, the never-predictable world of Autism, and the effect it has on our lives. Our family has good days and bad days, just like any family living on Mother Earth, except some of the bad days are devastating. Think of the Godzilla movies from the 1950s and 60s when he crushed Tokyo and numerous other cities. Cindy and I always seem to emerge from the rubble, sometimes a little dinged up -- Nolan is a strong kid, as you'll discover in future entries -- and we rebuild knowing the beast eventually will rise from the watery depths and strike again.
That is the primary reason I left journalism behind in 2010. Autism affects every child and adult who is diagnosed with it differently. Nolan was, and still is, nonverbal, and his sensory needs were, and still are, plentiful. All I saw 9 1/2 years ago was a lifetime of challenges and a son whose needs I could not meet if I was a sportswriter. I also could see Cindy serving me with divorce papers, a couple of lengthy hospital stays due to stress-related health issues, and/or unemployment and time in the pokey for trying to choke my boss. So I left, and I was never, never, NEVER, going to write again.
But Cindy and I have talked a lot this year about launching this blog as a way of informing and entertaining those who know us, and hopefully many more people who would like to get to know us through our posts. I want people to see what life is like for our family, and yeah, we're a lot like many of you. We get frustrated, we fight, and we worry about finances -- Autism is a good instigator when it comes to stirring the pot. But we also have moments of incredible joy, and hope. These are the moments in which I proudly give Autism the one-finger salute.
Cindy and I always will have plenty of subject matter and sources of inspiration for this blog. And yeah, I am eager to start writing about them.
C: Okay. I approve of this message.
K: Great. Let’s put it out into the world.