Author: Trish

Mom, wife, Christian, Aspie, bookworm - these are just a few of my labels. Of course, a person is more than her labels.

New York City Bus Trip

On Saturday, Joe & I took a bus trip from our church to New York City.  Since Sunday was our one year anniversary, we figured this would serve as a nice quick getaway to celebrate.

Our main event of the day was the Southern Welcome Tour in Central Park.  The bus dropped us off at Bryant Park, so we decided to walk the 19 blocks to where the tour would begin.  We had two very friendly and knowledgeable tour guides who took us around to several important park landmarks between 59th and 65th Streets.  They also gave a lot of history on how the park came to be.  The picture at the top of this post is of the Gapstow Bridge, which was part of our tour.  It is popular for weddings, and we did in fact see a bridal couple getting pictures taken there.

After the tour, we spent a bit of time climbing on the rock outcroppings and enjoying the views in the park.  Then we made our way back down to the theater district. (I told Joe that next time we should plan to see a show – I think that would be a lot of fun!)  It was 1 o’clock by this point so we went to get lunch.

homecarminesnew3We ate at Carmine’s, which is an Italian restaurant that was recommended by Joe’s sister.  Fun fact: Joe’s dad’s name is Carmine.  The food was amazing, although there was way too much of it for us to possibly eat.  They serve their dishes family style, with what they say is enough for 2-3 people.  I am convinced we could have fed 5-6 from the huge platter they brought us!  We had rigatoni with meatballs, and it was really wonderful.

After lunch, we decided just to wander around and do some shopping.  We went in a few stores, but ended up spending most of our time people watching.  There was an event that day in Bryant Park, so that was all cordoned off and we couldn’t hang out there, but we found some other places to sit and take everything in.

All in all, it was a very nice day.  We could have planned at least one more specific thing to do to fill more of the time, but it turned out okay anyway.  We also spent some time catching Pokemon, so that was fun too.  (My son doesn’t have a smartphone so he has a game on my phone and I try to catch some on weekends that he is away with his dad.)

For those of you who have been to NYC, what are your favorite places to visit?  We will probably go back again, so we are always looking for ideas.

Top Reads from August

In my previous book review post, I talked about my favorite reads from July.  So here now are my top fiction titles from August:

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber – This is a new novel from the author of the popular Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series.  Cassie Carter is back in the state of Washington, with her daughter, after leaving an abusive marriage.  Her parents are both gone now, but it looks like she might have a chance to reconnect with her two sisters, Karen and Nichole.  Engaging novel about starting over and second chances.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – A well done remake of Pride and Prejudice by the author of Prep and American Wife, this novel is part of a series of Jane Austen tributes by various contemporary authors.  In this incarnation of the beloved classic, the Bennets are a (at least up til now) well-off family in Cincinnati, Ohio, and both Bingley and Darcy are doctors currently working and living there.  It has gotten mixed reviews on Amazon, but I enjoyed it.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – A debut novel by a Swedish author, this was given to me by a friend when I was in the hospital back in March. I had started reading it then but gotten distracted and didn’t come back to it for a few months.  Once I did get back into it, I was hooked.  It’s the story of Sara Lindqvist, who has come from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to visit a pen pal and fellow book lover.  When she arrives, the older woman has passed away, but Sara is invited to stay in her house for a while anyway.  To pass the time, she decides to use her late friend’s massive book collection to start a bookstore in the small town.  I really came to appreciate this lovely book about books and the people who love them.

To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner – Turner is one of my absolute favorite writers; even when I pare down my book collection, I never get rid of hers because I know I will want to read them again.  There is just something about the way she writes that mesmerizes me, although I find it hard to explain.  This novel is the story of Julia and Carmen, an aunt and her niece, and how they connect when Carmen comes to visit and stays for a few months.  The characters are richly drawn and their stories are complex and wonderful.  I highly recommend this and all of her books.

 

 

 

 

On Autism Acceptance

Even though I have been “aware” of autism since 2004, when my son was diagnosed, and even though I myself was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2012, the idea of autism acceptance is still fairly new to me.

I have spent my whole life feeling like there was something wrong with me and wishing I could be fixed somehow so that I could fit in with other people without so much difficulty.  I have desperately wanted to understand all the little (and big) things that most people seem to just know without thinking about it.  And once I had learned some of those things – through extensive reading and close observation – I still struggled with applying them to my own life.

After I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, I spent time educating my boss on what it meant and advocating for things that would allow me to be more successful in doing my job while maintaining my sanity at the same time.  (Thankfully, she has been extremely understanding and accommodating.)

But underneath it all, even with all the awareness and advocacy, there is still a part of me that is always self-conscious and sometimes even ashamed of who I am.

So now I am learning what it means to accept myself for who I am and how to teach my son to do the same.  It’s a slow process but I am thankful for the many people I am meeting on Twitter and through blogs and websites to learn from.

Hopefully I will look back on this post someday and say that was the old me and that the new me is proud of who she is.

Top Reads from July

I have posted recently about some young adult titles as well as some detective novels that I have read, but by far my largest genre of books read is regular fiction.  I am not going to try to cover all the books I have read in the last couple of months; instead, I am just going to mention the top books from each month.

Here are my top reads from July:

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova – Genova is a neuroscientist as well as an author and has written novels centering on Alzheimer’s, autism, and traumatic brain injury.  This story features main character Joe O’Brien, who is diagnosed with Huntington’s disease.  It follows him and his family as he progresses through the illness, especially focusing on the decision his four kids must make as to whether to get tested for the gene.  I have enjoyed all of her books, including this one, and would definitely recommend it.

Year of the Snake by Melissa Luznicky Garrett – This is a light romantic read from an author I have followed from her first book until now.  She writes both adult and young adult books and is a great storyteller.  In this novel, Amelia Harkins is a writer at a turning point in her career and, as it turns out, in her love life as well.  A great read from a solid writer!

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon – I had thought the Mitford series was over, so was pleasantly surprised to come across this installment.  It covers the time leading up to Dooley and Lace’s wedding, as Dooley is also establishing his veterinary practice.  The story had a lot of the familiar characters from the series, along with a couple of new additions, and reading it felt like coming home.

The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig – This is the final book in the Pink Carnation series and provided a very satisfying ending to both the contemporary and historical stories.  This series focuses on graduate student Eloise Kelly, who has come from America to England to research the English spies of the Napoleonic era.  Each book flips back and forth between Eloise in the present day and the story her research is uncovering at that time.  Throughout the series, we have met a number of different spies, all with flower-related code names, and, in this final book, we see the pairing of the Moonflower (Jack Reid) and the Pink Carnation (Jane Wooliston).  This was a lot of fun, as all of the books have been, and I highly recommend the entire series.

In my next book review, I will share my top reads from August.  In the meantime, leave me a comment with your top suggestion(s) for me.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Unmotivated = Overwhelmed?

Note about the title: I am not saying that being unmotivated always equals being overwhelmed, just that it seems to be a large factor in my recent experience of my own life.

I posted the other day about how my motivation seems lacking lately.  The more I think about the situation, the more I think I have been shutting down because there are things in my life that seem overwhelming and it’s easier to retreat into myself than to face them.  When I get stressed, my default mode seems to be finding ways to escape and isolating myself from others.  While alone time can be a good thing for the right reasons, it’s generally not helpful for me when I’m using it to avoid the unpleasant or difficult aspects of life.

So, what am I overwhelmed by?  Several things come to mind:

  1. Adjusting to being married again (it will be a year on October 2nd)
  2. Continuing existing friendships while being married
  3. Getting used to a new church and trying to make connections there
  4. Trying to participate in group conversations at lunchtime (can handle 1 person or maybe 2, but more than that gets tricky)
  5. Parenting an autistic 14-year old boy

While all of these situations worry me at different times, the biggest one at the moment is parenting.  I remember feeling very overwhelmed when my son was little, and especially following his autism diagnosis at age 2, but somewhere along the way, I started to feel more confident about how to be a good parent to him.  I handled meltdowns and introducing new situations and kissed and cuddled him a lot and advocated for him everywhere he needed it.

Then he became a teenager and everything changed.  He started talking about wanting to make friends and not being able to and about feeling useless and hopeless sometimes.

Here’s where it all breaks down.  I feel terrible for him and worry about him, but I don’t know what to say or do to make it all better.  I know that my life is better now in a lot of ways than it was when I was 14, but I also still deal with a lot of insecurities and miscommunication problems.  I want to project confidence and give strategies that he can actually use, but all I can think is that I also want to make friends and feel useless and hopeless sometimes too.  Then I start to question my own life, as well as my ability to be a good parent, and I just shut down without really responding to him.

I talked with my therapist about this and she had a couple of thoughts.  One was that perhaps it would be helpful to him just to have me listen and validate what he is feeling instead of only focusing on trying to fix things.  She also commented on the fact that I seem quite isolated, and that reaching out to other people, perhaps in a support group with other parents, would help me be in a better place when it comes to relating with him.

I think both of these suggestions could have some merit, but I’m curious what other people think as well.  I would appreciate any comments on the situation and how you think I should look at it as well as how best to deal with it.

4 Detective Novels To Check Out

I have read several mystery/detective novels in the last couple of months. They are definitely a pleasant diversion, so I wanted to share them with you.

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde – Having enjoyed several of Fforde’s Thursday Next books, I was eager to get into this new series about Inspector Jack Spratt, head detective in the Nursery Crimes Division.  This book centers on the investigation into the death of Humpty Dumpty, who has fallen off his favorite place to sit and reflect, the wall in his garden.  But was it an accident, or were more nefarious forces at work?

I will leave that question unanswered so you can discover it on your own.  Suffice it to say, I appreciated the writing style and all of the nursery rhyme references.  However, I’m not sure I will be reading any of the others because, as my friend Melissa and I agreed, once you’ve gotten the joke, you’ve pretty much gotten it.  3 stars.

X by Sue Grafton – This is book #24 in the Kinsey Millhone/Alphabet series; the first one is A is for Alibi, so you can start there if you’re like me and want to read things in order.  Kinsey Millhone is a private investigator in Santa Teresa, California, and a no-nonsense, independent woman who values her few friends highly.  The books, which started coming out in 1982, continue one after the other without any jumps in time between them, so this story takes place in 1989.

I like Kinsey, so I liked this book, although it would have been nice to have something new happen in her personal life.  I won’t get into the plot other than to say it wasn’t the most exciting of her novels.  I’m still looking forward to the final two in the series, though.  3 stars.

Rough Country by John Sandford – This is #3 in the Virgil Flowers series – there are actually 9 out so far, so I still have some catching up to do.  The first book was Dark of the Moon, although Virgil Flowers was actually introduced in Sandford’s Prey series, featuring the character of Lucas Davenport.

In this story, Virgil is called away from his vacation by Lucas to investigate the murder of a woman at a women-only resort in northern Minnesota.  As he delves into the various angles of the case, he uncovers another murder that may be related and begins to think this is a much bigger case than it started out to be.  It was a good story, and I enjoyed the characters as well.  4 stars.

Devoted in Death by J.D. Robb –  This is #41 in one of my favorite series in any genre, the In Death series.  I love Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her charming, good-looking husband Roarke, along with the rest of their friends and associates, and I really enjoy the futuristic setting of mid 21st century New York as well.  Again, if you want to start from the beginning, the first book is Naked in Death.

Devoted begins with the introduction of the villains, who have come from Alabama, and flips between the investigation and their activities as the book continues.  By the time they hit New York, they have left a string of bodies behind them, and it’s only getting worse now that they have settled in to the big city.  But no matter how good they are at concealing themselves and not leaving a trail, they are still no match for Lieutenant Dallas and her gang.  5 stars.

Places I Want to Visit

This post is going to be updated as I come across new places or make it to somewhere on the list.  Some of them will be more realistic than others, but I am hopeful that eventually I will make it to all of them.

  1. Pennsylvania Grand Canyon/Wellsboro
  2. Bushkill Falls
  3. Colonial Williamsburg
  4. Walt Disney World
  5. Niagara Falls
  6. National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial (we have already visited the World Trade Center and Flight 93 memorials)

I am totally open to suggestions, so please feel free to leave me a comment with your ideas of where I should go.