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The Reason I Broke Up With Hillary Clinton

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You don’t have to agree completely with someone’s politics to admire them and the valuable work they’ve done. Hillary Clinton has had a major impact on women’s rights and social issues. I’ve considered myself a fan, supporter, even a friend (I cannot confirm that she is aware of my existence).

Hillary (Hillsy, I call her) sends me a lot of emails. I just got this one a couple of days ago:

Flannery — 

The seventeen Republican candidates for president have attacked me and this team every single day, all summer long.
You’ve seen it on TV and read it in the papers — they’re trying to make a little news by smearing my name.

The closer we get to the primary, the worse it’s going to get. I need you with me in this fight.

There are serious issues at stake in this election. Working families need a raise, women deserve equal pay, students need more access to affordable, higher education.

We’re on the right side of this, and our opponents know it. So while the other side tries to muddy the conversation and drag us down, we’ll keep growing an organization that can withstand attacks and advocate for everyday Americans.

But I can’t fight back without you. We’ve set a goal of 20,000 grassroots donations by the end of the month. Chip in $1 or more before then if you’re with me:
https://www.hillaryclinton.com/august-deadline/

Thank you,

Hillary

I decided it was time to be honest with my old pal. I replied honestly to her email but, fearing an incompetent staff member may misplace it, I thought it prudent to publish my response someplace where she might see it.

I’m sorry, Hillary. I was with you…I was with you at your book signing here in Austin. I was with you when you announced you were running.

But then…

Bernie.

He came along and said the things I’ve been hoping you would say. He came along and chose not to play the politics game. He chose to take a stand about the big issues, no matter what the Republicans might say.

And even many of them are inspired by him.

I’m sorry, Hillary. I love the work you’ve done for women’s rights, not just here, but globally. I love the idea of you as our first woman President. 

But I’m sick of the backdoor deals. The corporate interests. I need someone that speaks for my family, and the millions like us who are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto a lower middle class existence. We want a society that’s more equitable and progressive. We want a society where millions of us aren’t one paycheck away from poverty. We want a society where ALL people are valued equally, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion (or non religion), age, sexual orientation, or disability.

And this time, that’s not you.

But I would still love to have lunch, if the offer is still on the table, per your last email.

Best wishes,

Flannery Sullivan

I hope she calls me about lunch. I’d love to talk to her about overhauling our education system, our prison  system, our political system. The “systems” seem to be breaking down, and Bernie will need all the help he can get to replace them with newer ones that will serve us as we continue to evolve as a global community.

Hillsy, call me. I’ll meet you at the Cheesecake Factory any day you’re free. 

How I Became a POW in the Bedtime Wars

As I look backward through the smudged glass of my memory, I see very clearly that bedtime has always been a problem. For a while there were night terrors; countless hours where I sat with my back against his bedroom door, crying silent tears as I watched him wander his room aimlessly, screaming and crying for no apparent reason.

 

As he grew, we went through a phase where he ended up in our bedroom every single night, usually sometime between midnight and 5am. And always, always he appeared at my side of the bed, inches from my face, with an exceptionally loud, creepy whisper, “Mommy. Moooooommy!” Sitting bolt upright in panic, I would scoot over to make room for him in the bed. Fearing I would eventually have a heart attack during one of his middle-of-the-night creeper episodes, we helped him transition to having his very own Buzz Lightyear sleeping bag in the corner of our room, where he could come in quietly during the night and bed down.

 

Recently I realized that he’d not been in to sleep in our room for almost two years. Somewhere along the way we slipped into a normal, stable sleeping pattern. Things were humming along and life was slightly less complicated for a while.

 

But now Connor is approaching the age of 10, and things have changed again at bedtime. Sure, I could blame the autism or the ADHD. I mean, I’m sure those things don’t help to make bedtime easier. But somehow I think this has more to do with the slow, steady progress toward becoming a pre-teen, and I’m feeling my sanity start to wither and shrink, like an old prune.

 

It should be a fairly simple routine. At about 8:15 p.m., either my husband or I tell Connor that it’s time to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. In response, we generally get a very sullen “okay.” But then…he continues playing on the iPad, or on his computer, or watching a TV show. I stand there and watch, and watch, and watch…

 

And then we tell him again. And again.

 

He ambles off to chew on his toothbrush as he dances around in front of the mirror, flexing imaginary muscles and making faces at himself. The Husband and I are distracted with bills or laundry or kitchen clean-up. Eventually we notice that the boy never came back out. I go off to look for him and find him on my bed, watching TV.

 

“What are you doing?!”

 

“Watching TV.”

 

Did I really expect a different answer?

 

“I told you to go brush and get ready for bed. Why are you watching TV? I am SO mad!”

 

“Wait, why are you mad? I’m just watching The Amazing World of Gumball?”

 

“Because you’re supposed to go to BED.”

 

“Oh. Can I have just a few more minutes?”

 

“NO! You just took a few more minutes! Let’s go right now.”

 

If I don’t grab the remote and turn off the TV, I can be assured that I will stand there for at least 3 minutes while he fondles it slowly, turning it over, looking around leisurely for the off button, dragging out the seconds so he can see what marvelous shenanigans that stupid blue rabbit gets himself into.

 

So I turn it off and usher him out of my room and toward his room. But he stops, saying “Wait, I forgot something!” And he runs off to grab his paper ninja star, or his Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, or a football.

 

“You don’t need that for bed,” I tell him. And I somehow get him into his own room.

 

As I collapse on the couch, I hear his door open. “Don’t mind me, I just need another drink of water.”

 

Motherfucking fuck!

 

“Get your water and GO.”

 

But, you see, it takes a few minutes to jump up and sit on the counter, sift through all the cups to find just the right one, and then get the water out and pour it, ever so slowly, into the cup. During the filling of the cup, I’m certain that three more hairs have gone gray and I’m close to having an embolism.

 

Boromir knows...

Boromir knows…

 

I begin the litany of threats regarding the future availability of electronic devices and he starts walking toward his room, tossing over his shoulder that I’m “mean” and “not fair.”

 

Since I can’t stop myself from daydreaming about running away and living in the wilderness, enveloped by peace and quiet and filth, I turn on Mick Dodge. My soul needs to be soothed by visions of the rainforest.

 

Then I hear noises coming from the boy’s room. I open the door to find him playing with trains on the track he has just constructed across his bedroom floor. I can tell by the screaming in my head that I’m beaten. He has squashed any authority or parenting ability I ever thought I had. His stamina is truly a wonder to behold. Finally I stammer, “You don’t have to sleep, but you have to stay in your room. Do not come out.”

 

Twenty minutes later I’m wondering how Mick will find out who’s been stealing his tree stashes, when the boy appears before me again.

 

“Mom, I got my Newton’s cradle all tangled up, can you fix it?” He holds up the cradle which is, indeed, tangled into a jumble of string and silver balls.

 

Please God, strike me with lightening right now. Do it. End this farce.

 

IMG_4122

 

“I’m not fixing anything tonight. You are supposed to be in bed, not playing with that. I will deal with it tomorrow because right now I don’t give a hot damn about fixing it!”

 

“Ummmmmm, you said ‘damn’! And why did you say ‘hot’? Why is it a ‘hot’ damn?”

 

I narrow my eyes to a slit and hiss, “Get. Out. Now.”

 

He storms off, slams his door, and then begins wailing about the Newton’s cradle.

 

“I NEED IT FIXED! SANTA GAVE IT TO ME FOR CHRISTMAS, IT MUST BE FIXED. WHY WON’T YOU JUST FIX IT?!”

 

My left eye is twitching, I can feel it. There’s an underlying panic inside that I barely keep at bay, but it threatens to rear up and take over. If I can’t get an almost-ten-year-old to bed, what the hell am I going to do when he’s a teenager?

 

Maybe Mick Dodge will let me have a little space in the rainforest, far away from Newton’s goddamn cradle and the sounds of a growing boy railing against the injustice of bedtime.

 

But probably I’ll still be here, with a full head of gray hair and a constant eye twitch. Oh yeah, and a tangled mess of string and metal balls, too.

Holiday Affirmations

It’s the holiday season and I know you’re stressed. I’ve been reading all about it on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not just the decorating and gift-buying and cooking and schedule changes for the kids, it’s the inevitable friend or family member that leaves you feeling slighted, judged, and unappreciated.

 

We all have at least one of those in our life. But I want you to know, even if you don’t hear it from the ones you’re with during the holidays, that you are awesome. I’ve made a list of all the things you should be hearing from your loved ones as thanks to you for making space in your busy life for me and my Connor stories.
affirmations rev 1

And try to remember that it’s temporary. You will get your sanity back in January!

The Twelve Days of Autistic Christmas

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This was originally posted last December, but it seems like a good time to dust it off for the holidays!

 

The Twelve Days of Autistic Christmas

My Child’s Gone Feral and Yours Will Too

Everyone knows about the “terrible twos” and the horrible teen years well before they have children. People talk about it, all the parenting books mention it, your own parents remind you of how challenging you were during those phases of development. Yet somewhere between those two phases lurks a deep, dark secret that NOBODY talks about: at or around age nine, children go feral.

 

If this comes as a shock to you, then clearly your child is not yet nine. You should start prepping right now because there isn’t a moment to lose. If your sanity isn’t properly shored up, you are at great risk of losing it and never regaining it. I know lots of people who are only a shell of their former selves. I’d mistakenly chalked the phenomena up to alcoholism or adult ADD, but I now understand that these are parents who entered Age Nine with only a tenuous grip on their sanity to begin with, probably due to PTTD (Post Traumatic Toddler Disorder).

 

What are the warning signs of impending feral-ness? They can be tricky to spot at first because they slip in under the guise of typical child behavior. Sometimes they’re disguised as innocent questions, such as “But why do I HAVE to brush my teeth? What would happen if we just never brushed them?”

 

But once they’ve slipped in, they multiply rapidly. Soon, teeth-brushing morphs into a five-minute debate over why the brushing must be done now, and why can’t they just have one cookie first and watch one more quick little episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The next thing you know, your entire existence will be nothing more than pinging from one argument/debate/negotiation to another. You will feel yourself begin to slip. One day, after asking your child to sit down and get their nightly reading done, you’ll simply stand there in the dining room, mouth agape, as they run and slide across the tile floor (picking up every last dog hair the Dyson missed), pick up and chuck the dog toy across the room, watching it land in the dog’s water bowl with a splash that sends water spattering across the sliding glass door, turn around and open their umbrella in the house as they hop up onto a dining room chair and then leap as high as possible into their air so they can reenact the big scene from Mary Poppins, and then they suddenly careen out of the room entirely as you realize that they’ve yet to even pick up the damn book they’re supposed to be reading.

 

And then you know you’re well and truly fucked.

 

You’ll probably try bargaining first. “If you get blah-blah-blah done, you can have this-that-or-the-other.” Your mileage may vary, but it’s unlikely to yield results.

 

Next you’ll probably try being really, really firm. After all, it’s your house and you’re in charge. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s cute that you thought that. I used to think that too, and it still makes me laugh. You will threaten to take ALL THE THINGS away, and will soon find that you will have to do just that because your feral child didn’t even bat an eye as they said “But I don’t WANT to go to bed yet.”

 

By the way, that evening or weekend you suffer through because you took all the electronics away? Yeah, you might want to have someone on backup for when you’re ready to run screaming from the house and just drive until the car runs out of gas. Believe me when I say that you will spend a lot of time calculating how much gas you need to get to either Mexico or Canada, depending on where in the country you live and what climate you prefer. You won’t even think about taking your spouse with you, because at this point it’s every man for himself.

 

And here you are. Your child has gone feral.

 

Shhhhhhhhhh. There, there. Don’t cry, you’re getting snot everywhere. It’s going to be okay, I promise. Well, I don’t promise so much as I hope. I’m in the very same predicament YOU are. I lost my mind two weeks ago and told my husband I was quitting this lousy job, getting a crummy old trailer and moving to the Canadian wilderness where I would hunt and kill my own food with my bare hands. God, life would be SO much easier. But my mistake was in telling him my plan, because the next thing I knew he came home with a pizza and some hard lemonade and let me sleep in on Saturday and now I’m still here.

 

WE’RE still here. Me and you.

 

So last night I looked at my husband and said, “This little jackass is running the house. You realize that, don’t you? This is bullshit, we’re taking our house back.”

 

And then my husband got up to go get me a hard lemonade, but I was already at the table, working on my plan. And THIS was my plan:

 

 

Shut up, it's NOT a sticker chart!

Shut up, it’s NOT a sticker chart!

 

You’re probably thinking, “But Flannery, we took AWAY the electronics and it didn’t work. How is this any different?”

 

You see, they get absolutely no electronics privileges to begin with. Zip. Nada. They have to earn that shit, yo. And I know they’re going to come at you with, “But it’s MY iPad. Why can’t I use it whenever I want?”

 

And that’s when you say, “It’s MY house. I make the rules. You either follow the rules or you and your iPad can go live with grandma.” The beauty of that statement is that you still win if they go and live with grandma, because your house will be quiet.

 

I know you’re skeptical. Hell, I’m skeptical. But it’s been 12 hours and, so far, it’s working. I need to add a caveat to the plan, though. The next time I sit on a pissed-on toilet seat, I will take ALL THE TOKENS and he’ll have to start over. No, that’s not extreme. Extreme is when you smell like piss because your feral child was too damn lazy to lift the toilet seat.

 

I admit that I have no idea how long it will last, or if it will create lasting change, but I’m not going down without a fight. And you shouldn’t either. If we let these feral kids take over, civilization will be lost.

 

But just in case, I’ve calculated that I’ll need about $175 to get to Canada. Yes, you can come with me. But you’ll need to buy the road snacks and know how to skin a moose with nothing more than a bottle opener and your bare hands, which actually sounds a lot easier than parenting my feral child.

There Aren’t Parenting Manuals for This Crap

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There are lots of books about raising autistic/ADHD/Asperger’s children. Usually the books are very clinical, describing the disorder and accompanying delays, along with some advice pertaining to toileting, communication, and education. Or the books are more myopic in nature, written by a parent with a limited perspective. There’s nothing wrong with these books, however, I find that none of them really provide the kind of advice I need.

Let me tell you a story.

Yesterday I picked up Connor and noticed that he was wearing the back-up shorts from his backpack. We talked on the way home and I learned that he’d had an accident at the after-school program. I was surprised, since this hasn’t happened in a very long time. I asked why he didn’t use the restroom, and he said “I just didn’t make it on time, mom.”

I felt so bad for him. It was easy to imagine the embarrassment he would feel, as a fourth grader. And we all know how mean other kids can be. “Poor kid,” I thought. I tried to put it out of my mind as we went about our nightly routine.

But today when I picked him up, a different story unfolded. I learned that the plumbing system was shut down all night, into this morning. Connor admitted to the teacher that he had flushed a piece of paper down the toilet, causing it to overflow and get him wet, and shut down the whole system.

Speechless.

We got in the car and I pulled to the side of the parking lot to ask him what happened. He told me there was a flier hanging in the bathroom that said “Always remember to flush after using the restroom.”

“Everyone always flushes the toilet, so that paper annoyed me. It doesn’t need to be there. It’s been there for a long time, and I wanted it gone so it wouldn’t annoy me anymore.”

*deep breaths, count to 10*

I said “can you explain to me what you were thinking when you decided to flush it down the toilet? I mean, didn’t you stop and think that it could plug up the toilet?”

“Mom, I just can’t help it. It’s my stupid brain, it works against me. It’s not my fault.”

This is where a parenting manual would come in handy because this is treacherous territory. I do not know what it’s like to have severe ADHD. I believe him when he says that his brain works against him, because who hasn’t felt that way at times? But the part about it not being his fault? As a parent, I can’t let that go. He is a very capable child, and I constantly navigate between providing the right amount of support and expecting a certain amount of accountability.

As I drove home, I puzzled over the right way to handle this situation. My kid, basically, said “fuck you and your signs, THIS is what I think of your signs!” and promptly caused a plumbing calamity. Of course I couldn’t help but remember that I work in a building with a few hundred people, and fliers are posted from one end of the building to the other, including the restrooms. Mentally, I refer to these fliers as “company propaganda.” Although we don’t have fliers reminding us to flush, we DO have fliers reminding us to wash our hands. I’ve stared at those papers hundreds of times, thinking how moronic it is to have to remind grown adults to wash their hands.

We got home and had a talk about consequences and the need to learn how to ask yourself questions when you’re in the middle of an impulsive thought. Things like, “Will this get me in trouble?” Or, “What else can I do if this annoys me?” And we talked about how, when he’s an adult, he will be expected to know how to deal with his impulses and take responsibility for his actions. Nobody will be tolerant of the excuse “it’s not my fault, it’s my stupid brain!”

And finally, I told him that there would be no computer or iPad until his behavior improved (because there have also been a number of smaller incidents this week.). He cried a little, but recovered quickly. I reminded him that he should feel lucky that TV wasn’t also taken away.

But damn, that parenting manual sure would have been handy today. I mean, who the hell knows how to handle crap like this? Yes, I know, he has impulse control problems and difficulty with forecasting events. I get it. But damn it, I’m not raising him to be coddled and willfully indulged, I’m raising him to be a competent adult. I’m not going to sell him short and think that he doesn’t have the capability, because I believe he does.

As I write this, I can’t get that damn song out of my head. You know the one…Signs, by Tesla (originally recorded by The Five Man Electrical Band). Here, enjoy it…

bathroom sign

Green Bloggers and Spam

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The thing about blogging is that it’s this awesome, creative outlet for absolutely anyone that wants to do it. And absolutely anyone can read your words, interpret them, MISinterpret them, and misappropriate them.

 

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. I don’t know who they are. Probably some asshole(s) that gets paid to write positive affirmations for magazines that are heavily photoshopped. What do they know?

 

Anyway, blogging… Sometimes you come across a really talented writer whose words seem to go straight through you, right to your heart. The writer at Lexistential.com is one of those writers. As such, there have been some in the blogosphere that have absconded with titles, sentences, and whole portions of what she’s written. Unscrupulous vagabond! But it got me thinking about how to borrow a style from someone without actually stealing. You know, take something you like and make it your own, while getting your message across.

 

I went with Dr. Seuss because, who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? Goddamn it, you just can’t beat a good rhyme! So I give you my ode to unscrupulous bloggers and those in the (autism) community who do more harm than good.

 

Green Bloggers and Spam

 

Bloggers bloggers, small and green

Why you need to be so mean?

 

I can’t abide the theft of prose,

you smell worse than hobbit’s toes.

 

“Don’t kill your kids!” you squawk and shout,

Captain Obvious, you are a lout.

 

Parents crying, reaching out

You stomp and snort, deny and pout.

 

Families who in need of aid

You give them rhetoric that you’ve made.

 

“Call 9-1-1,” you loudly say,

Police will help you right away.

 

They arrive at your door,

And make a report, but nothing more.

 

But never fear!

There’s the blogosphere…

 

Pithy sayings, custom made.

All their readers gutted and filleted.

 

Your hollow words

and useless tools,

You play us all for insipid fools.

 

Because people know you offer naught

The emperor’s new clothes are what you’ve bought.

 

Now your ugly mouth

it foams with spittle.

 

Let me serenade you

with the world’s smallest fiddle.

 

I do not like

Green bloggers and spam.

 

I do not like them

Truth I am.

 

flanseuss

 

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