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Autism: considering a family wake, funeral

August 27, 2015

I thought long and hard about attending UJ’s funeral before concluding there was no way for me to show up and not upstage my godfather’s death.

{ Insert Complicated Logistical Nightmare of getting myself to SmallSuburb, IL from northern Maryland, and back. }

{ Dealing with my parents in any capacity would require a hoarder’s House of Spoons, packed to the ceilings. I… don’t have that. }

Spouse wouldn’t be with me, so I’m already at a huge disadvantage.

Will I be able to sleep at all? (Not likely.) Will the food make me sick? (Probably.) Will August in Chicagoland be uncomfortably hot? (Of course.) Am I going to be stinky-sweating from the stress? (Definitely.)

What if what people wear these days to Midwestern Catholic wakes and funerals is different than the clothes I brought? (Should I have worn nylons? Ugh.) My hair style is awful right now — does it at least not look disheveled? Do I appear cis femme enough?

Will anyone recognize me?

Will anyone want to talk to me?

Who will speak to me warmly about my parents, believing that I’ve either reconciled with them in this sad time, or not even realizing that we’ve been estranged since 2005?

How many times will I have to explain I’m Mea, not OldName? Will people tell me what a pretty name OldName is? Will they call me an old or new nickname that I don’t want? Will they argue with me?

Should I take Communion so it doesn’t cause comment (and apologize to God in my mind — wouldn’t be the first time!), even though I haven’t been Catholic since 1986? Do I even remember when to stand and sit and what to say during a Catholic Mass? (Last one I attended was a family wedding in 2008.)

Are many/most people still conservative and/or Republicans? I haven’t been following Illinois politics (usually a shitshow of corruption), but what comments might be safe to make about … local whatever?

Am I talking too loud? Too much? What I know about family members’ lives is generally 30 years’ out of date, but if I ask them questions (especially if I’m genuinely interested!), it almost always goes badly.

How much will the physical environment bother me? Fluorescent lights flickering, machinery humming, other ambient noises (some of which no one else will hear), noxious flowers and perfumes/colognes that will give me a headache, terrible coffee, ugly furniture that I’ll keep bumping into, colors depressing my mood further, everyone’s crying, will people try to hug me when I don’t want to, no dark and quiet room (with potted plants) to retreat to (parking lot with shade trees nearby in a pinch), etc., etc.

Besides all that, small talk sucks! Not just because autistic people often don’t know what to say, or how to respond in a way other people will accept as appropriate. But also because of our physiological difficulties with understanding speech in realtime, especially when we’re in noisy places — I lip-read all the time, and I still have to ask people (even Spouse!) to repeat themselves every day. (Talking on the phone is the worst.) Often I don’t bother: I just nod my head, try to respond similarly to whichever other people are around, and hope for the best. Oh, and holding eye contact is physically painful; if I manage to do it, I’m probably not catching most of what’s being said.

If I can find something to stim with (to soothe my spikes of stress), will people freak out?

What can I say about my job situation that isn’t going to be super awkward?

Unlikely though it is, if anyone asks for my contact information, what do I tell them? My parents and siblings don’t have that (by design). What is safe to share? (Especially when I’ll likely never hear from them again anyway.)

If someone says something triggering to me — let’s face it, very likely — I’ll already be so jangled with nerves that I won’t be able to stave off a meltdown [an involuntary physiological response to my senses being completely overloaded]. Not only are meltdowns wrenching to experience, but people trying to help can drastically worsen things. (My prior recovery times: hours, days, In a few cases, weeks.)

Maybe I sound like the most self-absorbed person in the world — what about my widowed aunt? My father? My cousins? Everyone else? Well, I’m thinking of them too! Nobody would want to read a list of every variable I’m juggling at all times — my executive function deficits mean that all of them feel equally primary. Concurrently, I’m exquisitely aware that everyone around me has (differing) opinions about how I should be behaving.

Too, I have my own value system, and it… doesn’t seem to overlap with the value systems of my family members. So even when I’m acting honorably and respectfully by my own carefully-thought-out standards, I’m probably pissing people off. Definitely some of them are going to let me know that. Probably in a way that pulls rank, too.

When/if a “scene” occurs, I will be scapegoated for it, even though I will actually have done my best to prevent it from happening.

There’s literally no way for me to ‘get it right’, which is why I’ve had meltdowns as often as I have.

And also why I… don’t attend family gatherings, for the most part.

= = =

The thing is, I’m pretty certain that there are autistic people on both sides of my family. There should be some allowable way(s) for me to be someone I recognize as myself and not be a pariah.

But I’ve never discovered them.

Autism: epistolary relationships

August 27, 2015

I enjoy writing and reading way more than talking (most of the time). Even with people I “know well”, talking can be uncomfortable because I don’t know how to keep things flowing smoothly, and/or they persist in talking about things I’m not interested in.

Most of my relationships that have endured more than a few weeks, therefore, have taken place to some degree through snail mail and/or email.

For the purpose of this list, I’m excluding the following:

  • People I wrote to who never responded.
  • People who only responded once. In those cases, (a) I might have not known how to reply, so did not reply, or (b) I replied, and they did not respond a second time.
  • People I wrote to about someone’s death, but we didn’t correspond past that.
  • People I sent gifts to, and they sent thank you notes, but we didn’t correspond otherwise.
  • People whom I correspond(ed) with only on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, or as a commenter on someone else’s blog.

 

Family ~

  1. Aunt Carol
  2. Gramma
  3. JW
  4. KWD
  5. PWA
  6. My parents
  7. My siblings
  8. RS
  9. IV
  10. EB
  11. MFH
  12. LFS
  13. DWA
  14. FW
  15. JF
  16. ASO
  17. CF

 

Friends & Others ~

  1. KBH (begin 1979)
  2. CT-1
  3. BC
  4. DS
  5. MA
  6. BD (begin 1992)
  7. WR
  8. Spouse
  9. CT-2
  10. KMS
  11. LB-1
  12. FZ
  13. RC
  14. JDB (2000)
  15. PSW
  16. DG
  17. WG
  18. TB
  19. CH
  20. VL (begin c. 2002)
  21. LB-2
  22. SVM
  23. GG
  24. TM
  25. SHE
  26. CD (begin 2005)
  27. KJ
  28. RM
  29. JCO
  30. KB (begin 2008)
  31. MB
  32. FH (begin 2011)
  33. AM
  34. MY
  35. MWA
  36. ARR
  37. DA (begin 2013)
  38. JL-1
  39. JL-2
  40. GB
  41. RT
  42. KC
  43. BG
  44. JG
  45. KMA
  46. SF
  47. JS
  48. RL
  49. BT
  50. RG
  51. MS
  52. OP
  53. MJ
  54. EC
  55. CS
  56. RS

I hope I haven’t forgotten anybody.

Many of these relationships were fairly-short (a few months – a couple of years); there are some outliers (like Spouse :)). I value Variety >>> Duration.

Autism, or stranger in a strange land

August 25, 2015

If you are neurodiverse, but in a way that does not include the autism spectrum, YOU DO NOT KNOW ME BETTER THAN I KNOW MYSELF. Even if you have “read books” on autism. Even if you have discussed autism with people. Even if… anything.

Educating yourself on ableism might be something to look into.

If, while educating yourself on ableism, you realize that you have done and said ableist things, maybe consider apologizing for those things.

+++

Tonight marks the third time that a woman relative has talked to me about reconciling with a different relative, and I have said, “Under no circumstances will I be doing that, or making any little gestures in their general direction. I WANT NO PART OF RECONCILING.” The woman relative then sought out the other relative and told them: “Mea wants to reconcile with you/wanted me to express to you this heart-warming gesture!”

And apparently, the other relative, and any bystanders, accepted that gesture at face value.

= = =

The first two times it happened, the woman relatives wanted me to reconcile with my cousin the rapist. The third time, the woman relative wanted me to reconcile with my mother (whom I broke up with because of her championing my cousin the rapist to me).

These conversations have been years apart. Three separate women relatives. How is it that they all hear things I HAVE NEVER SAID?

I don’t know. But… I broke up with all three of the women relatives since I cannot trust what they “hear” when I speak with them. (Or write to them.)

+++

I’m the only person responsible for soothing my own feelings. And you are responsible for soothing your own feelings. And other people are responsible for soothing their own feelings.

I set my boundaries where I need mine to be. You set yours where you need yours to be.

When we remember our shared past differently… that’s normal.

Your memories, thoughts, feelings ABOUT MY LIFE do not “trump” my memories, thoughts, feelings about my life. Perhaps at the reunions I haven’t attended, the extended family plays a parlor game of dissecting everyone else’s memories, thoughts, feelings too. Perhaps spirited debates occur. Perhaps people vote on the ones they like best; all others are discarded.

THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I DID NOT TALK TO ANY OF YOU ABOUT.

I would assume vice versa.

+++

Since I stopped attending family gatherings, I develop fever blisters/cold sores maaaybee once a year. (If that often.) That weird “dermatitis/rosaceae-looking” outbreak that I had on my face for 12 years or so, that no doctor could explain, went away without me doing anything differently.

I still get migraines, but… vanishingly rarely from stress. (Environmental sensitivities mostly.)

I don’t dread seeing people for weeks and months ahead of time, saving up “spoons” like mad, and knowing they won’t be enough. That there will be a meltdown, and it will be mine. (And then I’ll be shamed for it.)

Flashbacks and nightmares about my cousin the rapist and/or my mother happen … hardly ever.

The most recent panic attacks I’ve had? Occurred while I was talking on the phone to relatives. (Months apart.)

= = =

When I’m not in contact with relatives, no one yells at me. There is no screaming. No one pressures me to conform. No one insists on how I “should” feel. No one condescends to me, then insists I’m “too sensitive” for not liking it. No one shames me for being the person that I am.

I’m 49 years old, and it’s still relevant to say these things.

It’s true that I would like more people in my life. But they would have to abide by my boundaries, and so far, my relatives can’t/won’t.

I miss… something I don’t remember child me ever having: Feeling safe around other people.

Child me loved my mother’s father, who told me girls were worthless and stupid. Not safe.

Child me loved my father’s brother, who called me a nickname that I hated. When I asked him not to, he laughed at me. Not safe. (When he died years later, his son/my cousin, spoke of the nickname in the thank you card to me. Thanks for triggering me in my grief.)

Child me idolized an older male cousin who called me a different nickname while he tormented me, and laughed at my fear. Not safe.

Child me wanted, desperately, to have a relationship with my godfather — “you’re so alike!” — but no matter how I approached him in person, or in writing, over years and years and years, he always brushed me off. Was too busy. Meanwhile, he liked girls fine. Just not me.

He died Monday morning.

+++

We may indeed have been alike. But I didn’t know him. We never had a relationship.

Yesterday, though, our non-relationship was characterized to me as having been “very special”. People (including my mother) said that about my relationship with my cousin (before he became) the rapist.

The phrase “very special relationship”, to me, denotes me being repeatedly ignored or abused while everyone else looks the other way. Maybe because they think that’s all a defective person like me deserves? I don’t know.

My jumble of feelings refuses to resolve satisfactorily. I’m sad, but not about my uncle. I’m angry.

I’m proud of how I stood up for myself.

I miss Spouse, who has been visiting his parents.

I’m annoyed that I wasn’t asked about my mother-in-law, who is actively dying.

I’m annoyed about a whole bunch of things.

= = =

I didn’t feel sad until I was writing about child me.

If just one person had ever sat me down and asked me … anything. What mattered to me. How I felt. What I hoped for in my life.

If anyone ever told me a favorite memory of me that wasn’t when I was a baby or toddler; something that I actually could be expected to recall.

If anyone I loved… wanted to talk with me, not at me.

If anyone listened.

3 dream fragments: 8.13.15

August 13, 2015

#1.

My parents are assembling a dedicated studio/office for my father, and I wander over to help out. I like putting puzzles together!

At some point, something in the environment makes it plain to me that my parents must still have an active sex life. And they are (I perceive) trying to get me to leave right now so they can get on with it. Later, I tease my father about how all that sex is good for his heart’s health.

I’m feeling playful & light-hearted when I say that. He sort of scowls and says nothing. I’m disappointed that he didn’t respond in kind, but my overall good spirits do not change.

= = =

#2.

On a grassy football field, 2 long ‘chorus lines’ of white women in their 50s and 60s, all with bright blonde hair, wearing bright (almost neon bright) peach hoodies. They prepare themselves to perform a Haka.

= = =

#3.

I’m in a warren of a very large room. In the corner I head over to, lawyers are packing into boxes thick case books (that look like encyclopedias), from 3 ft. high shelves. I try to strike up a conversation, but most are too busy to pay attention to me. The one who replies looks like she could be a woman, is large and solidly-built, wearing dark non-descript clothes. White skin, straight strawberry-blonde hair in a military cut. She’s directing things and is clearly not only highly capable but respected by the others. Her manner is no-nonsense, but she’s also kind to me, a stranger.

I pick up a book from the shelf and flip through it. It has papers and trinkets stored there, so I take them out, pile them in my lap. When she sees that, she says, “Books that are ‘too filled’ with other people’s treasures, we leave them here. People should have hiding places available to them. People shouldn’t have to justify hiding places to other people.”

I start putting the papers and keys I found back into the pages. I return the book to the shelf. I wondered about what the papers and the key had meant to someone. Would they find them again?

+++

INTERIM NOTES:

#1.

  • Self-organizing/bottom-up.
  • Both of my parents in a dream is unusual; them interacting, even more so. Them being a functional, happy, married pair, despite ‘late middle age’ (in the dream)… unprecedented.
  • My comment about my father’s ‘heart health’ was a pun on cardiology. So, love of words, feeling clever.
  • Playful, light-hearted.
  • Experimenting with social interactions; rolling with however they turn out & staying on an even keel.

 

#2.

I follow a bunch of New Zealand accounts, including the All-Blacks [national rugby team], on Twitter.

During our 2005 visit to New Zealand, Spouse and I saw a performance of a Haka at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The audience was cautioned ahead of time that it was a religious rite, so we shouldn’t clap or do anything appropriate for entertainment. Once it started, the religious/sacred nature of it was very very clear to me. It was… one of the most intense experiences of my life.

Whenever I see a Haka performance, I cry. (In a good way.)

= = =

The bright-blonde women in their 50s and 60s, wearing bright-peach… clearly my mother. But 2 long lines of them?

Both of my parents were tow-headed as kids. My mother’s hair (I think) turned light brown, but as soon as she was old enough, she began dyeing it blonde, and never stopped. I don’t know that I ever saw her natural color; even when it was all-grey, she gave it a blond rinse. My father’s hair turned dark; I grew up thinking his hair was black, it was so dark, but it was just really dark brown. When I was a kid, my hair was red; it turned light brown around age 8 or so, kept getting darker.

Any character in a dream that reminds me of my mother in any way is automatically disturbing (but then, memorable). I don’t want to identify with any character that reminds me of my mother.

#3.

Hiding places, I get, but why lawyers? Why case books in particular? Well, rules maybe. And sometimes rules are superseded by deeper concerns.

I have papers in some of my own books. At least one photograph (of teenaged me).

The key I saw was an old-fashioned one, very intricate, with a cylindrical barrel. (How did it fit imperceptibly into the casebook?) It was a bit like… the key to the bathroom on the middle floor of my grandparents’ house. The bathroom I got locked into as a kid. I mean, I accidentally locked myself in. I was 5 or 6.

I was fine spending a lot of time in that bathroom, right up until the point I realized I couldn’t get out because the key was stuck in the lock. I yelled for help, but nobody heard me. Long story short, hours later, the police got me out. And then I was in really big trouble from my parents, especially my mother.

But when I remember being trapped/hidden that day, I first picture myself playing in the bathtub, looking out the wavy-glass window panes, feeling like I was… inside the walls, sort of. Like I was… part of the house. I could see my parents and my aunt and uncle all talking on the driveway, outside that window. I could see the garage behind them one way; Mrs. Nocerino’s house behind them at another angle. But… they couldn’t see me. I liked that.

I thought: “I know things. I know things you [adults] don’t know. And I’m not going to tell you any of them.”

I also… didn’t need to talk to anyone else in that room. I liked silences.

That was the hardest part of being rescued by the police. Hours of lovely silences by myself, very suddenly broken up by everyone talking over each other, trying to figure out how this could have happened, and explaining to the police why they weren’t at fault. Why it was the kid’s fault. Within our family, when adults said that, the ‘discussion’ was over, and you the kid had lost. Again. When they said it to the police, though, that’s not what happened. They had to justify themselves. They had to explain, over and over, how it happened that I had been trapped in the bathroom for hours and hours and no one had noticed. How it was, that the kids were allowed to have the run of the house with no adult supervision but that was okay because the adults were “always within calling distance”, and yet, here was this tearful kid explaining that she’d called and called but no one heard her.

My parents didn’t like being questioned. By the police. About their child-rearing practices.

It was really unsettling to have stranger adults… care about my well-being. Insist that I should’ve been treated differently, better.

Days, weeks, later, I tried, gingerly, to talk to… probably my mother, since I spent the most time with her, about the whole thing. The good parts, though, too. But… it was a disaster. I got yelled at again. She couldn’t listen to anything I said.

= = =

I miss my grandmother. I… have mixed feelings about my grandfather, since he didn’t like girls, yet he seemed to like me. (Not enough to let me play with trains, or to touch metal things in his workshop.)

I miss that house. That house was as much a member of my family as any relative.

Neither of my parents’ 2 houses were members of my family. I don’t miss their houses. Sometimes I think about the trees and flowers in the yards.

Sometimes I miss the Triangle.

= = =

I like hidden spaces. I like keys. I like silences.

I like knowing things that other people don’t.

I like secrets.

Autism: Dream, 8.12.15

August 12, 2015

Setting: I’m in college (I think at Purdue, so I’m 29 while my fellow ‘first year’ students are largely 18 & 19. This actually isn’t my first year of college, but it is my first year as a biology major).

I’m in a (chemistry?) lab after hours with one other student, and the instructor, who is Dr. Janet Stemwedel (someone I follow on Twitter).

Both of us students failed the last lab report/exam, so we’re here doing a remedial session. Dr. Stemwedel is very patient and encouraging, and that makes me feel hopeful that I can, eventually, make sense of this bewildering process, and learn to understand it.

She’s talking to both of us, and the male student seems to be catching on quickly; they’re laughing and joking. Meanwhile, I’m still looking all around the lab, deciphering every last detail — and there are a lot! The lab sure looks different not bustling with noisy students!

I’m just starting to get my bearings, and feel like it might be safe to relax into the flow, when Dr. S goes up to the blackboard and erases some stuff. As she does, she says, “Well, you’ll have already copied these first 3 sketches of the first 3 steps in the lab, so I’ll leave you two to figure out what step 4 is. The rest of the lab will be easy! Once you’re done, turn in your papers — I’m sure you’re both going to pass this time!” She smiles, and walks out.

I… hadn’t even looked at the blackboard yet, so all I saw of “the first 3 sketches” was a confused impression of a beaker filled with liquid, as she erased it. I didn’t know what was included, and what wasn’t. Didn’t know the order. Didn’t know the structure. Nothing.

Now it’s gone. My brain, in slow motion, is rumbling into panic mode.

The other student is finished with step 4, and the other steps, and is getting ready to turn his paper in. Triumphantly. He leaves, while I’m still goggling, in shock.

At some point I notice that Spouse is in the room, in the back. He’s here to take me home.

I don’t know what to do.

If I turn something in, and it’s remotely correct, I’ll get the first good grade I’ve gotten all semester. But I legitimately didn’t see the stuff Dr. S wrote on the board for us to copy down. I have no idea how to proceed, but all the choices I can think of, right now, seem dire.

Only then do I notice that I’m exhausted, I’m shivering, I’m hungry. I can barely stay awake. I have zero Good Brain Energy; I’m ‘running on fumes’.

I turn to Spouse. He’s not paying attention, hasn’t noticed my distress.

I look around the lab. On an adjacent table, there’s a pile of papers. The top one seems to be show diagrams that could be the first 3 steps I need. But… if I copy them from this paper, 1. They might be something totally different, which means my lab will make no sense, 2. That’s ‘cheating’, isn’t it?

But I have to do something.

I’m bursting with things to say to Spouse, to justify how I’m in this pickle, yet again. “My Working Memory is extremely limited! The room was so distracting! I needed to take in, then understand, all the details before I could focus! MY AUTISM makes things harder for me!!!”

But Spouse isn’t my lab instructor; he can’t give me accommodations for this class, or this assignment. Spouse hates hearing this stuff — if I say it, he’ll likely walk out of the lab while I’m talking.

If I could bring the lab report home… I could eat, before starting on it. I could take a nap. I could take a break. Home is the place where things make sense.

What if I take the top paper home with me, and copy it down when I have Good Brain Energy again? When I bring it back tomorrow, I could explain why I didn’t turn it in the night before. I could swear I didn’t (look the answers up on the Internet and) cheat.

But wait: if I swear that I didn’t cheat, doesn’t that sound suspicious? Who mentions cheating if they’re not doing it? But I’m definitely not going to cheat — I just need to get Home so I can reboot my brain and start over. I just need a good break.

I just want something to be easy to figure out what to do!

{I wake up.}

+++

INTERIM NOTES:

I was going to check on Twitter what type of scientist Dr. Janet Stemwedel is; then I remembered that she’s an ethicist — perfect!

= = =

Eating breakfast while puzzling over what this dream could be about, I came up with a raft of possibilities:

The annual reunion of my family of origin (last week)

 

The AROHO Retreat (this week)

 

MK’s birthday party in 5th grade. Her mother let her invite the entire 5th grade class. After I’d heard about the party from 5 different people, but kept telling everyone there must’ve been some mistake because I hadn’t gotten an invitation, MK herself sat me down to explain. Yes, she’d invited everyone, girls and boys, but it was true that I, MF, was not invited. (No reason given.) I could see she enjoyed telling me that. Then she waxed rhapsodic about how great the party was going to be. I only stayed listening because 1. I didn’t believe it was really happening (“why can’t I wake up from this nightmare?”) and 2. Where could I go that the Social Event of the Year wasn’t going to be discussed? Basically, I’d be back to my usual routine at recess: kicking rocks in the parking lot, by myself. Yay.

 

My one (and only) year as a biology major at Purdue, 1995–96

 

Mr. Szorc, my HS physics teacher, who is probably the biggest reason I didn’t become a scientist

 

Mr. Geary, my middle school science teacher, who emotionally scarred me for life

= = =

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is having their annual meeting right now, and it’s in Baltimore. I follow a ton of scientists on Twitter, many of whom are attending it; some have been live-tweeting the sessions.

When I was an undergrad (after I’d moved to IUPUI and become a geography major), I was a member of ESA for a while.

I wanted so badly to ‘fit in’, but of course, I didn’t.

I was a member of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) for even more years. I wanted so badly to ‘fit in’ there, too, but of course I didn’t.

It’s always something. There’s always some reason why I’m an interloper that no one was looking forward to seeing.

Or maybe there was a mixup on someone’s part (like for that pesticide conference I was invited to attend in 2013), and to deal with their own feelings of frustration the person in charge will announce to everyone at the registration table that This Person Doesn’t Belong Here!! (Which actually happened.) Before grudgingly allowing that maybe, possibly, I could stay after all.

{Meltdown narrowly averted, only because I bolted for the bathroom to cry in private. Spent the whole conference afraid to talk to anyone in case they accused me of being a fraud.}

+++

So there’s this person that I used to think was my friend who, after I wrote about feeling ‘left out’ when I wasn’t selected for AROHO this year, scolded me. Made me feel that, in her eyes at least, my feelings were disallowed, dumb, and an embarrassment.

Kind of like me, really.

= = =

I was trying to recall last week when was the last family reunion that I actually got invited to. Spouse and I attended the one in 2004, but I hadn’t been invited. I wanted to surprise everyone so we showed up at my parents’ house on the day (having driven in from Indianapolis) and … no one was there. A series of quick phone calls established it was being held 30 miles away at my aunt and uncle’s house. So we drove out to their house.

Sitting in the grass, well away from the party, but very near our car, was my cousin the rapist and his girlfriend.

It was SO HARD to get out of the car and walk past him, omg.

I had thought our appearance was going to be a cool surprise for other people; instead, I walked in, triggered and scared, and immediately had to put up with extroverts being grabby and touchy when my skin was crawling.

I didn’t have a good time.

In fact, shit like that is why I stopped going.

= = =

If my cousin the rapist hadn’t been at that reunion, I still wouldn’t have had a good time. No one in my family of origin actually likes me. (As far as I can tell.)

I guess I should just save my energies to attend social events where people do like me.

There aren’t any like that.

I know because I’ve looked … everywhere… for them.

= = =

To be continued…

Reading List 8 of 2015

August 12, 2015
tags:

{ I read 0 books for 450 hours, 7.15 – 8.2.15 }

Covers the period from 8.2.15 through 8.12.15  

 

I own 2 of these books. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 9 of the books; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 10.

 

Research ~ Water:

  • Biodiversity of Rivers by Greg Pyers
  • A Journey into an Estuary by Rebecca L. Johnson
  • Life in an Estuary by Sally M. Walker
  • Rivers: The Hands-on Approach to Geography by Andrew Haslam
  • Tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay by Heather Moore Niver
  • Wastes Management Concepts for the Coastal Zone: Requirements for Research and Investigation by National Academy of Sciences & National Academy of Engineering
  • Water, ed. by John Knechtel

 

Autism spectrum:

  • [Film] Temple Grandin
  • Been There. Done That. Try This! : An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth, ed. by Tony Attwood, et al.
  • The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome, 2nd [relationships] by Maxine Aston {partially read}
  • Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry Prizant, Ph.D.

 

Art & Design:

  • Fashion Encyclopedia: A Visual Resource for Terms, Techniques, and Styles by Emily Angus, et al.
  • The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings by Marc Kushner
  • Street Craft: Guerrilla Gardening, Yarnbombing, Light Graffiti, Street Sculpture and More by Riikka Kuittinen

 

Fiction:

  • [SFF/Horror] The Anything Box by Joan Aiken {partially read}
  • [SFF] Out of Time, edited by Aidan Chambers {partially read}
  • The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder {partially read}
  • The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • The Weeping Ash by Joan Aiken

 

Poetry:

  • In Their Own Words: Contemporary Poets on their Poetry, ed. by Helen Ivory & George Szirtes

 

Psychology:

  • The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.

+++

3 Dream fragments: 8.3.15

August 4, 2015

#1.

I’m in a mall I used to know well, but barely recall the particulars of now. I keep thinking I’ve found an exit that will get me close to where my car is parked and/or the way I’ll drive home, but when I approach it, it’s not an exit after all, or I don’t recognize the section of the parking lot.

I’m lost.

= = =

#2.

Per her website, author Mary Johnson will be leading a writing retreat in New England that overlaps with AROHO. But the way things are worded is confusing, and people keep sending her messages of annoyance.

I would like to attend, but it seems like it would be just as much bother as AROHO. Anyway, it is also juried — would I even get in?

= = =

#3.

In a general store, I ask the woman at the counter for 2 crabs. She names 2 different kinds that they have available. I infer she’s saying I can have 1 of each; I say, “fine”. I wonder how we will all get along.

As she walks towards the kitchen area in back, she says, “I’ll just go over and fry them up!” I see her putting them in a skillet.

I want to call her back and protest. I didn’t intend for the crabs to be dead, nor would I eat them. I intended to talk to them.

But that would be crazy, wouldn’t it?

I’m confused by what I want, and what everyone else thinks is normal.

+++

PRELIMINARY NOTES:

#1.

The mall I spent the most time at seems like it should be Fox Valley in Aurora. Or possibly Oak Brook, where we went as a treat not only when I was a kid in Glen Ellyn; after we’d moved to Naperville, I worked there as my first job. Oak Brook Mall is outside, though, and I always dream about inside malls.

Dreams set in malls tend to feel like they’re Yorktown.

When I think “mall”, in fact, Yorktown is always the one I picture first.

I’m stuck in my childhood? I need to find the way out?

{That’s definitely true, actually.}

= = =

#2.

The 2015 AROHO Retreat starts very shortly. I’m not going, and I feel conflicted about it.

Mary Johnson will certainly be at AROHO, not at home in New England leading her own writing workshop.

Community? I feel displaced from 2 communities? I don’t really know what I do want? I have mixed feelings about things that I know aren’t right for me?

Something geographical? I don’t belong in New Mexico right now, but not the Northeast either? I don’t belong with a group of other writers right now? I should stop looking for groups to belong to, especially if I (or my work) have to be ‘judged’ to be admitted?

= = =

#3.

I thought the 2 different kinds of crabs might not get along with each other, and I wasn’t sure how either of them would get along with me. As I ordered them, I realized, “hmm, I may need 2 separate tanks in the car, in case they’d fight. How are the logistics going to work?”

Dead crabs… made no sense. But eating them would be an abomination. Obviously I wouldn’t want that.

{I almost wrote} I’m a scientist! Of course I don’t want them to be dead! {But scientists often do want subject animals to be dead, or they are killed to further study them.}

I’m not actually a scientist. Well, sort of I’m not, and sort of I am, but it’s definitely not my job.

+++

TANGENT:

So, the job I wrote about in the context of the 7.31 dream… I’m not going to apply for it after all. There’s no way to make it be a Good Fit.

I feel sad about that.

+++

Some part(s) of me still want to be a scientist, even though it’s not really a Good Fit philosophically, or morally.

I want to be a technical expert, and something science related seems likeliest… except that I’m not really similar to most scientists I’ve met.

I’m a poet.

I’m a mystic.

I’m a naturalist {curious observer}, but not a scientist.

I’m an artist and a photographer.

I’m… things I don’t have words for.

= = =

The malls I dream about are usually huge and sprawling; sometimes they’re the size of small towns. Maybe I keep dreaming about inside malls because they’re mazes of a sort: you have to know the floor plan to find your way around. And they feel familiar, but they aren’t.

I go round and round in circles, essentially, but I never… find the right door.

I’m trying to do the wrong thing, then, but what part of what I’m doing is the wrong part?

Malls are designed structures that allow people to do specific things. When I dream about malls, though, I’m not shopping, getting services done, or meeting people – I’m usually just trying to find my way out.

Maybe malls are Lawful to my Chaotic. Malls offer known paths to things… that I don’t want to do. And yet, the idea that I should be able to follow a path is familiar. ‘Normal’ people want to follow paths that have been blazed by long ago pioneers. But I’m one of those pioneer types, so paths are… some place I definitely don’t want to be.

Being a scientist is a path.

Being a technical expert is a path.

I want… something else. Something I can’t perceive, nor, yet, imagine. But a maze is a distraction.

How do I exit the maze?

= = =

A writing group or any other type of focused group is not helpful right now. Because they’re goal-oriented, and I have 0 ideas about what my goals might ever be.

I may be lost, I may be alone… but I need to be both.

= = =

I did eat part of a blue crab, once, under duress — I was staying with people who regarded them as a delicacy. For hospitality reasons, I could not figure out how to refuse and not cause offense. I would have infinitely preferred, even then, to talk to the crabs. In fact, talking to the crabs instead of talking to the people I was with would’ve probably been more enjoyable, more satisfying.

And yet, there’s something about Celtic myth and eating sacred animals that is niggling at the back of my mind. Or shamans maybe? I don’t know. I don’t like it.

Transformation though. You gotta make sacrifices. If you do stuff that’s not difficult and yucky and leaves behind everything you thought you knew, you can’t be Changed alchemically.

I AM NOT GOING TO EAT A CRAB.

The very idea is revolting.

= = =

As usual, all questions, zero answers.

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