Tag Archives: chris castino

lock myself in the basement day

i spent most of the day in bed today, texting “migraine” when anybody called.  but really, just being scared.  i had a “lock myself in the basement” day.

i was born in 1960 to aleta and justin leiber.  they lived in chicago with justin’s parents fritz and jonquil leiber.  here’s the cheesecake picture (it was given to me by justin when i met him when i was twenty five)

at some point, justin and aleta put me up for adoption through the children’s home and aid society of chicago.  i went to the patrick family of western springs, illinois.  here’s a picture of me after i had been adopted–it was the day i was baptised into the patrick’s methodist faith which was important to them.  i’m the one on the left.

very soon after this picture was taken, mrs. patrick had some kind of reaction to the world and to me.  it must have been overwhelming to be a new mom to a kid who wanted to go back to wherever she came from.  mrs. patrick was frantic about keeping order.  my most common transgression was to steal candy from mr. patrick’s desk or cookies from the treat drawer in the kitchen.

she would lock me in the basement.

i might sentenced to a day.  morning until bedtime.  if longer than a day, i would, upon waking, go back to the basement.  oddly, she always let me take a book with me.

sometimes she thought the basement wasn’t punishment enough, because i was so stubborn i wouldn’t cry, and so she would make me take off all my clothes or she would mark out parts of basement where i could sit and other parts where i couldn’t.  but if i had a book, i didn’t care where i was.   sure, i did other things than read.  i devised a series of number games played on my fingers.  i can, if we meet, show you those games.  kind of like solitaire but no cards.  almost everything i know comes from the world book encyclopedia for young adults, volumes 1-20, which the patricks owned and i kick butt on the caribou coffee trivia question every day because of that series.  i would take one volume each day into the basement.

the punishments the world gives us make us stronger, but only stronger at taking that particular punishment.  i’m great at being locked up but i want to be good at being unleashed.  i want to go out into the world this year to meet every friend, to charge across streets in a city i’ve never been, to get lost on a highway, to find out somebody’s passion for their lives*, to have the whole horizon out in front of me, to not know what’s going to happen next, to accept that the world is way more chaotic than the first two steps of the basement stairewell where nothing changes and the only sound is the furnace firing up and the comforting world is printed on a page.

tomorrow i pack for the first leg of the journey.  i am commuting my own sentence.  if you’re one of my facebook friends, help me do this.

*i mean, jeez, how much better can it get than chris castino’s passion for voluntary mutism?  and i haven’t even uploaded facebook friend peter lind’s account of reopening hospitals in new orleans after katrina.

selective mutism: a f2fb meeting number 6

on friday, i leave to visit the princess of champaign and the princess of bloomington.  i have a trip planned for tallahassee and another for new york before i get to st. petersburg on the tenth of march.  but first. . .

i sat at mirani’s with an idea that i knew who i was meeting:  chris castino.  i was positive that my older  son joseph went to middle school with her son, that she was mutual friends with tiffanie sarineen and that she had dark hair.  the restaurant was closed but the owners kaven and madelaine didn’t mind me staying and christopher the waiter had brought me a stella while i waited.  then a woman entered the restaurant, pulled back the hood from her face, and . . . i had no idea who she was.  she was definitely chris castino, it’s just i hadn’t seen her in so long that i had gotten her confused with someone else.  although i had read and responded with sympathy to the facebook posts that her family suffered two deaths over the christmas holiday season.

it was a bit of an awkward lunch until i realized that one of her daughters had been friends with joseph.  ah, now i know where i know her from. . . but while i might know a little about her daughter i knew nothing about chris.  i asked her what she was doing these days.  her face glowed and she said “selective  mutism”.  uh, okay, but what the heck is that?

her daughter had a friend in kindergarten at Northfield’s Middlefork School.  The girl did not speak at school, instead only talking at home. . . .and with chris–in soft whispers up against chris’ ear–whenever the two girls had playdates.  the girls drifted apart as they were assigned to different classrooms in first, second and third grade. but when they were in fourth grade, chris discovered that the girl still was not speaking.  her heart went out to her and, with the blessings of the parents and of the northfield school superintendent, chris went to lunch every day at the school and became a verbal  intermediary, eating at the lunch table with the fourth grade girls.  but let chris tell you about it. . .

sometimes chris neglected her own daughters when she was devoting more and more time to being this girl’s verbal intermediary and advocate.  but the castino daughters were very very supportive and today the girl doesn’t need chris as a verbal intermediary but she still needs the love and friendship of this great mom.  i left lunch realizing that i have some facebook friends out there who are doing great things–and i have to do a better job of keeping up with them so i can recognize them when i see them!

if you’d like to learn more about the subject, go to smartcenter@selectivemutismcenter.org