You Do You, Judith Newman #BoycottToSiri

I first heard about this book last summer from its narrator whom I met at a book signing and after learning that I was, in general, about 95% of the time, a stay-at-home mom to my son with special needs, she told me about the book she narrated that was amazing and that I should definitely check it out and maybe it would resonate with me.

I actually added it to my Wishlist on Audible and thought nothing of it although when the audiobook came out along with the book (it’s published by a Big Five traditional publisher, Harper Collins), hubby wanted to start the Dark Tower series by Stephen King so that Audible credit went to him. And then I forgot about it.

…until this weekend when #BoycottToSiri popped up on my Twitter feed.

Judith Newman is the author of To Siri with Love, her “honest and illuminating love letter to Gus, your typical atypical non neurotypical human,” according to Jon Stewart, “a moving and witty memoir with a big heart,” according to Nigella Lawson, and “part Operating Instructions, part love letter to both her son and technology,” says Annabelle Gurwitch, author of Wherever You Go, There They Are.

I’m glad she got such big names to give her their testimonials in her book, but how can a “memoir” that makes fun of one’s autistic son and even goes to lengths to saying that she hopes he doesn’t have children and that when he turns eighteen, she’ll get power of attorney to have him sterilized be “beautiful?”

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 10.06.58 AM
“autism-very-friendly”

On Twitter, she’s been blocking people left and right who object to her book. Autistic and neurotypical people alike have condemned To Siri with Love for exposing her son’s private medical information and for making fun of him, most of all for her plan to sterilize him.

She claimed that the audience of her book isn’t the autistic population (as if they can’t read, I guess) but the neurotypical crowd.

But even the NT crowd isn’t having that excuse because they also find the book deplorable. Well, not that she cares to know what they think. She’ll block them, too.

It’s a selfish act of a mother (or anyone for that matter) to do what she has done although in the world we’re in now, I’m no longer surprised at the lengths we take to humiliate people who have no voice. And I can’t imagine why she’d do it other than for the fact that a Big Five publisher said, here’s your advance. Now write us everything else you want to get off your chest about how you really feel about your autistic son. No holds barred.

I’m a mother of an autistic child, and yesterday, we went to see Peppa Pig Live. I didn’t care that he cheered and hooted louder than all the other kids his age (most of the other kids were younger), nor did I care that he wanted to dance around like the performers (who encouraged everyone, including the parents, to participate, too). I didn’t push him when he said we should go home when we could have walked around after the show and even ice-skated (the music was too loud for him). I accept him the way he is and I do my best not to ridicule him. And definitely not in such a public way, like a book.

But I guess in the end, you do you, Judith Newman. I’m sure you’ve got more than enough money from your advance already set aside for that power of attorney contract to have Gus sterilized ten times over. Good for you.

Oh, wait, you changed your mind about having him go through a forced vasectomy because of the backlash? Too bad, because you still said it (nah, you wrote it in all its hardcover glory), and wanna bet, you’d still do it if only no one said anything. 

 

Grateful

Today is Thanksgiving in the US and we’re all going to be joining family and friends and chatting about our lives over turkeys and tofurkeys. And although I’m grateful for being able to live the life I’m living every single day, today I’m especially grateful for you—for stopping by my blog and saying a few words.

One of the things I missed a lot when I went full-author three years ago was blogging and the friends I made while blogging. Suddenly, everywhere I turned, self-publishing gurus said that blogging was dead and was a useless endeavor for an author, that unless you had thousands of followers, you’re only writing to the ether. Time better spent on marketing and writing your books.

And for the first time since I had no shortage of things to write about or writing prompts (daily ones!) to tackle in the form of poetry or story, I had nothing to write. Would I write about my books again and again? I know I sometimes do. Would I write about the process of writing which I normally don’t delve into so much because I just write what I want to write? And who’d want to read that?

And so I stopped blogging regularly (or writing poetry for my poetry blog for that matter) for almost a year while finding myself immersed in the world of book marketing and promotions. But I never stopped reading blogs. I always loved seeing glimpses of people’s lives and the places they lived and visited and I still love it now.

A few months ago, while the same advice was given (writers waste their time on blogging), I sneaked back into blogging (here) and I’ve never been happier. It doesn’t matter how many followers I have. I see familiar faces and I smile. I read their stories, their poetry, and their opinions. And I smile some more. Sometimes I’m sad, depending on what they write but that’s part of the package of blogging. It’s about life and I love being given the chance to take a peek into others’ lives and their experiences and feel like I’m part of something else online besides just being a writer and writing.

So thank you. I’m thankful for you.

The Best Valentine’s of All

Today, my next door neighbor asked me if she could give my 7-year-old a big long hug.  I said yes, and then afterward, she hugged me.  She said she’d lost her dad this day ten years ago and they’d just had his memorial at the beach.  As we parted ways, I remembered something my late Dad did for me on a Valentine’s that has become the only Valentine memory I hold dear.

I don’t really remember celebrating Valentine’s Day growing up.  I went to an all-girls Catholic school and I don’t remember making Valentine cards for everyone in the classroom like my 7-year-old does, and if we did, I have no memory of it at all.

What I do remember is the anxiety I felt when I was in eighth grade and I liked a boy from another school – and everyone knew it.  It was especially bad when it turned out he was mean and made fun of me together with the mean girls he knew from my school.  And so when Valentine’s day was approaching and the girls asked me if he was going to send me flowers, I didn’t know what to say. I was so stressed out that I asked my Dad who lived in a different city because my parents were divorced to send me roses for Valentine’s Day, but that he not sign it.

And he did (even though years later, he’d deny ever doing it).

Later that year, I purposely flunked eighth grade hoping that my parents would transfer me to a different school and away from those mean girls – which they didn’t – and so I ended up repeating the same grade.  Despite the humiliation of having to repeat a year and being thought of as stupid or slow, it was the “Reset” button I needed in those tumultuous teenage years.  I wrote poetry that was published in the school paper, wrote stories that had die-hard fans in Homeroom, and while things at home were still horrible, I actually found a bit of happiness in school.

But I’ll never forget what my Dad did for me that Valentine’s Day, and it’s the one and only Valentine’s memory that I have – and this, from my son today:

I’ll try my best to add this sweet card to the memories. If not, there’s always this blog.