M.I.A.

1109This blog is more of a reflection of me than I realized, or that you knew. Grab a Starbucks or a Big Gulp or whatever they serve wherever you’re reading this, and I’ll explain.

Let’s start with the easy visible part. The blog’s overall look is one of simplicity. Or at least as much simplicity as can be mustered when you’re sorting through all the sidebar options the good folks at WordPress make available. I chose that particular photo of myself because of the grey T-shirt, which lends to the grittiness of city life as seen through the—what are those, anyway? binoculars?—in the header’s image. And the image denotes taking a closer look at the human landscape, and it ties to my blog’s subtitle about observations.

Now for the invisible part.

On the “About Yours Truly” page I’ve listed random facts about myself. Absent from the list is that my 32-year-old daughter is disabled. She is unable to speak and has only gross motor movements as a result of an illness she suffered at age 14. Prior to that she was a straight-A high school freshman in perfect health.

That’s a really big deal, and a really big part of who I am, yet I intentionally omitted that fact. And here’s why:

Human beings are only, well, human, and when we’re at the movies or shopping at Anthropologie (did I mention she’s cognitively intact and has great taste?), I imagine people see The Girl in the Wheelchair and The Mom Pushing the Wheelchair. And therein lies the problem.

We are both, yet we are neither.

That seconds-long encounter fails to tell about us, about me training to qualify for the Boston Marathon or about Erin’s love of all things quirky and retro. That seconds-long encounter invites pity, not conversation.

A few years ago my husband urged me to write a memoir centered around Erin’s illness and the stone-in-a-pond ripples it has had on not just our family, but on people we’ve never met. Currently I’m writing—fingers crossed—the last draft and although in June my editor said he’d like this draft to be completed in three months, I’m about halfway done.

To chronicle something so personal yet so universally relevant is a huge task. And thus my absenteeism from this blog.

Recently, though, an essay of mine was published online at BioStories, so that was cool. It provides a glimpse into the memoir, if you’d like to read it.

This blog, like me—like all of us, probably—has a shiny side it shows the world and a personal side it grants entry to on a selective basis.

Welcome in, friend.

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4 Words I Wish They’d Stop Saying

Thanks to our DVR, I don’t see many commercials anymore. But occasionally we’re forced to watch live TV (like over the holidays, when regular programming is replaced with a 24-hour loop of It’s a Wonderful Life), which eliminates the possibility of fast forwarding, which in turn greatly increases the likelihood of my hearing at least 2 of the 4 Words I Wish They’d Stop Saying.

Pretend I'm screaming. Photo courtesy of Sothebys.com and me.

Pretend I’m screaming. Photo courtesy of Sothebys.com and me.

Now, my words aren’t as extreme as George Carlin’s 7 Words You Can’t Say on TV. And no, I don’t consider myself the proverbial stick-in-the-mudder shaking her fist at the younger generation—I realize every era has its “daddy-o’s” and “dudes.” But these 4 words have become so diluted by overexposure they’re meaningless. See if you don’t agree.

Amazing (/aˈMAAAAAAAAAzing/): “causing great surprise or wonder.” Apparently a very versatile word, because it’s used to describe everything from cable TV pricing to wedding dresses. Enough already! The word should be saved for the truly amazing, like sawing a woman in half or snagging a great parking spot on the first day of Nordstrom’s anniversary sale.

Awesome (\AWWWWW-səm\): “expressive of awe or inspiring awe; terrific, extraordinary.” OK, fine. I suppose to a fan, Taylor Swift’s new CD could be considered awesome, since Merriam-Webster let me down on this one with the inclusion of the terrific/extraordinary option. Really, though, shouldn’t the word be saved for solar eclipses or finding the $20 you forgot you stuffed in your coat pocket last year? Calling a YouTube video “awesome” (unless it’s the one where Pixel gets his bed back) simply cheapens the word.

Epic (/’e-pik/): “of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an epic; extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope; heroic.” Please, save this word for an event worthy of its magnitude—like a tsunami, maybe, or the amount of patience required to sit through an hour of American Idol.* The sentence, “That salted caramel square at Starbucks was epic!” is overkill. Just say it was good. Tasty, even.

Iconic (\ī-ˈkä-nik\): “of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an icon; widely recognized and well-established; widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.” Quite similar to epic in the overkill category. I would say Elvis Presley (for the record, I’m not a fan) is iconic in music history; however, I find it hard to believe a truck has an iconic payload capacity. Impressive, perhaps. But Elvis-impressive? Doubtful.

*Disclaimer

To all tsunami survivors: I am in no way comparing your ordeal to sitting through an hour of American Idol. Unless it was the season where Nicki Minaj was a judge.