Monday, November 30, 2015

All Out of Words

NaNoWriMo Win 2015

I'm all out of words.

Plus I was supposed ot be packing for trip home.  And spend last evening with Ed.

Questionable priorities.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Yeah. I Know. I Know. Finish Something Already!

Scarf Crocheted with Diversity Yarn
 This Diversity brand yarn has an elastisity to it and they call it memory yarn.  I ti lace weight and soft enough for baby  blankets.  This is another of the yarns I got on my 2014 birthday shopping spree.  I began this scarf for myself in January.  Had hoped to have it done before it was too warm to wear it last spring.  Ha.

I decided i wanted a hat to go with the scarf but wasn't sure one skein could do both so I tried to find more online.  Could not find the Zebra but I did find this:

And these are the colors of somebody on my list so I got it.  I'm winding it into a cake on my winder tonight and hpe to start a scarf tomorrow.

Yeah.  I know.  I know.  Finish something already.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Serenity -- Crocheted Infinity Scarf

Croheted Infinity Scarf
Lace weight wool, silk blend with silver thread.  Handpainted
Last month when I finally got the 400 yard snarl out of this yarn I targeted my birthday for finishing this scarf.  This picture was taken a month ago and I've added another couple inches to the width but I'm still at least a quarter out from done.  I would have finished it if I'd not spent the last ten days working on snarls in three other projects.

This was one of my finds on my birthday excursion to La Favorites in Kelso WA last year.

Well maybe I can be wearing this by Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Drama! Drama! Everywhere But On My Novel's Page

WhizFolder Delux NaNoWriMo 2015 File
The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life

ROW80 Check-In

It seems like every year around the time NaNo starts some kind of drama in my personal life or someone who's part of my daily life heats up to a boil and there doesn't seem to be room on the stovetop in my brain for my novel as well.  This time the drama is mine and had my thoughts in a froth.  My fingers were flying to keep up with them--in journaling, email and texting. After two or three days of this I decided to do a wordcount on the words generated around this personal drama and found I was having no problem at all making daily quota...and more.

If only it were in my NaNoWriMo file.  And that's when I decided to abandon my planned novel and transfer all these words already generated into the file and continue to transcribe the events as they unfold, muse on them, add backstory, try to access other POV and give myself free reign to novelize an see where it might go.  I'm sure it will be too autobiographical to publish but it will still be a good exercise.  It will give me the space to tell myself a story that might help me make sense of what feels like chaos at the moment.

Meanwhile I didn't move the other story out of the file.  If the personal drama returns to a simmer and allows the Funny Bunny story to share the stovetop again I'll return to it.  Who knows I might be able to weave the two together in some way.  That's one of the things I'm so good at--bringing characters from one story on stage in another in ways in which their stories enhance each other.  That's how I ended up with one storyworld that's generated over 100 major characters and at least 16 novel lenth WIP and that many twice over in shorter WIP.

Having made that decision and then watched the words swarm like African ants over screen after screen I'm even starting to feel a true pleasure in the writing again.  Something major broke loose.

I'm still a bit hit and miss on my ROW80 goals:

  • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15min Daily -- hmm. Depends on whether I can count the time spent obsession on the personal drama...
  • Read/Study Craft 15min Daily Average -Again sadly under par.  A couple days each week.  My reading has become consumed by the autism spectrum theme since my diagnosis in September.
  • 7.5 hours of sleep daily --  the last two years have taught me the importance of this for keeping my anxiety low and energy high, weight down and creativity sustainable -- Fail!  This devolved from adequate before November 4.  I slept little in the first and second week of November.  Was awake from 9am Tuesday Nov 3 until at least midnight Wednesday.  Slept about 9 hours and was awake until the wee hours of Saturday.  Got back on schedule through Monday morning and then was awake until Tuesday night.  Slept about twelve hours, waking around 9am on the 11th and then did not sleep again until 4:30 this morning Saturday, the 14th and am still awkae in the wee hours of Sunday morning as I write this.
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15min Daily  -- I know it is crucial to health.  Both physical and mental.  And most especially creativity.  Yet I struggle to make it happen.  It is one of my Asperger traits to hate change and that includes switching from one activity to another.  I spend way too many of my waking hours sitting in my desk chair either at the computer or the craft table.  Switching between those is a matter of scooting a foot and swiveling about 40 degrees.  Swiveling another 45, standing up and taking two steps puts me on the mini-tramp.  Yet I've not been on it since the crisis began on the 3rd.  It probably would have been as much help as the all the words generated around it.  It could have helped me think about things.
  • Personal Journaling 15min Daily  -- 2nd Biggest goal success so far this round.  Way more than minimum.
  • Read Fiction 30min Daily Average -- none since NaNo began.  this was a solid habit before my Asperger diagnosis but the autism spectrum has taken over my reading list.  There is one novel in the mix with several memoirs and a few other NF featuring info, advice, and speculation.
  • Social network activities 30min Daily (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- another thing I've a strong resistance to.  The autism diagnosis helps explain this but doesn't let me off the hook.  If anything it makes it more important -- Biggest success this round!  Possibly even overdone it.  Since like everything else, once I get started it is hard to stop.
  • Engage with the Blow Me a Candy Kiss structural rewrite file 30 min Daily*  --  except for November when I'll be working on the companion story from husband Greg's POV called To Embrace a Funny Bunny.  These two likely belong to the same novel but I'll be pretending they don't for the duration of NaNo. -- On hold as of the middle of the first week of November.  See above. 

  • All of this in service to the overarching goal for 2015: Regain the joy in writing that I lost sometime last year.  The Joy/joy meter hovers around 6 out of 10 this week.  Joy in the writing maybe an 8 which is a sharp increase.  Not only am I feeling more joy I'm feeling calmer and more sorted out.  Maybe that's the same thing.

  •

    Friday, November 13, 2015

    Birthday Boots and Sisterhood

    Keen Boots
    My sister, Carri, took me shoe shopping for my birthday.  It was part one of the shopping excursion I asked for.  Part two will be for clothes.  Both are needed because my entire wardrobe except for a handful of items are one to two sizes too big for me.

    She took me to a high-qualit shop in the Portland area first and I thought it would be primarily for fun--in store window shopping.  But two hours later I walked out of there with these boots on my feet.

    I'd never paid a 3 figure price for shoes in my 58 years! I'm still feeling a bit weird about it.

    After we left the shoe store we stopped to pick up a take and bake pizza--artichoke hearts/bacon/cheese--and headed over to our sister Jamie's apartment where she left me while she went to a Christian rock concert.  Jamie and I polished off that pizza as we visited together for the first time in months;

    All in all a good birthday which kept my lucky Friday the 13th birthday streak unbroken.


    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Joy's Needled

    Problem Solved?  Such a Small Solution
    Jig Pro hollow ended needle for paracord and leather laces
    The Joy's plaque I'm needlepointing to be mounted on a bag above where it already says: Getting Things Done, has been languishing for want of a needle.  A needle of a kind I wasn't sure existed.

    I was picturing something hollow on one end and with a dull point on the other and some way of securing the end of the cord in the hollow end. And slim enough to fit through the plastic mesh without breaking it.  I also pictured it with a tiny clamp or pincer instead of hollow but couldn't picture how that could be made not to snag the cord.  So hollow was better but I couldn't picture how the cord could be secured.  Turns out screw threads are the solution.  And to make the cord grippable you melt the end first..  I didn't need to do that as it acquired a good grip onto the end I'd treated with Fray-check.--a kind of chemical melt I suppose.

    I found it in leather-working supplies on Amazon.  I wasn't positive it was small enough because my eyes were not able to judge the measurement of the mesh hole and there was nobody around to do it for me so I took a gamble thinking that it was so close the canvas with the larger mesh would work with the needle on future projects.

    Why do I need such a bizarre sounding needle?  The paracord is too thick to go thru the mesh doubled over in the eye of a needle.  Besides needle eyes big enough to hold the cord are already too big to go through the mesh holes. I had resorted to fraying the end of the cord and then painting it with fray-check and twisting it into a point as it dried.  This worked.

      Sorta.  But it was slow going. Like threading a cooked spaghetti noodle through a bead.

    But it did work OK as long as there was just one strand occupying the hole.  When trying to put the strand through the hole already occupied by the stitch in the neighboring row tho the fray-check coat on the point began to loose its stiffness and without that it was like trying to push a worm through a straw.

    The new needle works exactly as I imagined and it fits the empty hole.  But when I push it through the already occupied hole I must be very careful to go exactly straight as any pressure toward the side will break the mesh.  So far it only happened once and I managed to repair it by wrapping thread several times around the mesh bars on either side of the gap to replace the missing bar.  I hope that doesn't happen very often as it is a pain'

    I would send for another hollow ended needle in a size smaller except I'm pretty sure the specs on this one said it was the smallest.

    The brand of the needle was Jig Prol  It seems a very fine quality of metal with nothing on the surface that could snag the paracord.  What impressed me most about Jig Pro so far tho was that of the three different brands selling leather working needles that I ordered from in the same order they were the only one whose method of shipping made sense to me;  But that was probably because Jig Pro itself was supplying whereas the other two orders were being supplied by Amazon.  Amazon sent one needle set in the same box along with a couple other items in my order but I almost missed it as it had slid under the flap on the bottom.  The other one was in a box the size of a hardback book all by its lonesome.  Jig Pro sent theirs by snail mail in a greeting card sized envelop.


    Sunday, November 08, 2015

    Sunday Serenity -- Snarls and NaNo and ROW80


    I've been spending more time unsnarling yarn and thread in the last week than actually crocheting.

    The brown one above is the Mobius strip bottom/sides/strap for the quilter's tote. I made the silly mistake of leaving one ball of bamboo thread attached and adding another one to do a a couple of short stretches across the width before returning to continue along the outer edge where I left off..

    not so brilliant

    The pink one isn't a project yet. It's just a ball of bamboo thread that was rolling around in a drawer dropping loops.

    The purple is one of my new bamboo yarns. I tried to find the inner string as I prefer to pull from the center as then I can have it in a smaller project bag or even a pocket. Pulling from the outside string requires room for the skein to roll and flip.

    Well, before I found the inner string I'd pulled out a lot of loops and when i pulled on the inner string it yanked out a clump of loops it was snarled with. I decided to stuff them all back inside and wind the skein into a ball on my winder from the outside string.

    But the skein rolled and flipped in the tray out of my line of sight as I operated the winder and the clump I stuffed inside came out and tangled with loops falling off the outside.

    A serious mess.

    All three are lace weight..

    Its a good thing unsnarling is one of my favorite things to do. Dont ask me why but I find it relaxing.
    But I don't really have time for such fun now. It's too close to Christmas. And I hate having the winder out of action.

    Plus NaNo is in session and I'm falling behind.  11111 words at the end of day 8.  8x1667=13336.  Which leaves me 2225 words behind.  More than a days quota.

    Plus my life itself just developed a snarl of similar proportions to that of the purple above.  Drama!  Why is it that every November some kind of drama heats up in either my personal life or that of someone close to me who's part of my daily life and whose drama sticks to me like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth?

    I was way more seriously behind as we entered the weekend--sitting around 5555 on Friday afternoon when Mom left for her weekend with my brother's family.

    How did I double that in two days?  By adding the real life drama to my story.  Or rather adding a second story that I'll try to work into a relationship with the other one which is probably a long short story rather than a novel anyway.

    I'd been generating a lot of words in emails and texts over the drama and by transferring those words--all written since Tuesday--into my NaNo file I nearly caught up.  I might have done so if I hadn't decided to write a blog post instead.

    I'm still a bit hit and miss on my ROW80 goals:

  • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15min Daily -- 2 or 3 days in a week.  Not good enuf.  Especially since they are seldom contiguous.
  • Read/Study Craft 15min Daily Average -- Again sadly under par.  A couple days each week.  My reading has become consumed by the autism spectrum theme since my diagnosis in September.
  • 7.5 hours of sleep daily --  the last two years have taught me the importance of this for keeping my anxiety low and energy high, weight down and creativity sustainable -- Doing better than I used to but in the last month I've averaged two 24 hour plus days each week.  The other nights tho I do tend to get more than 7 and often more than 8.  It is a huge improvement not having frequent 6 hours and under nights.  And yes, they are nights and not days.  Another improvement.  I seldom sleep beyond 9am.
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15min Daily  -- I know it is crucial to health.  Both physical and mental.  And most especially creativity.  Yet I struggle to make it happen.  It is one of my Asperger traits to hate change and that includes switching from one activity to another.  I spend way too many of my waking hours sitting in my desk chair either at the computer or the craft table.  Switching between those is a matter of scooting a foot and swiveling about 80 degrees.  Swiveling another 45, standing up and taking two steps puts me on the mini-tramp.  Yet I've been on it maybe twice in the last ten days.
  • Personal Journaling 15min Daily  -- has not become a daily habit yet.  After not touching it since February I did start to dabble again but average twice a week.  Still feel serious resistance to it which probably means I need to be doing it.  Especially to help me assimilate the autism spectrum diagnoses and how it affects my writing goals.  Not to mention the drama mentioned above.
  • Read Fiction 30min Daily Average -- this waa a solid habit before my Asperger dianosis but the autism spectrum has taken over my reading list.  There is one novel in the mix with several memoirs and a few other NF featuring info, advice, and speculation.
  • Social network activities 30min Daily (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- another thing I've a strong resistance to.  The autism diagnosis helps explain this but doesn't let me off the hook.  If anything it makes it more important -- I guess there is one place where I shine after all.  I haven't been time tracking it but I'm sure I've more than fulfilled this.  Possibly even overdone it.  Since like everything else, once I get started it is hard to stop.
  • Engage with the Blow Me a Candy Kiss structural rewrite file 30 min Daily*  --  except for November when I'll be working on the companion story from husband Greg's POV called To Embrace a Funny Bunny.  These two likely belong to the same novel but I'll be pretending they don't for the duration of NaNo. -- Another fairly well met goal. 
  • All of this in service to the overarching goal for 2015: Regain the joy in writing that I lost sometime last year.  The Joy/joy meter hovers around 5 out of 10 this week.  Joy in the writing maybe a tad higher.  I do seem to be gravitating toward the writing as a means of desnarling my life.  Afterall i have generated over 5000 words in the last five days in emails and text messages

  •

    Saturday, November 07, 2015

    Taking a Switch To It

    Acer Aspire Switch 10 SW5-012 10.1" Laptop 2GB 64GB 
    Altho I love my Nexus 7 and seldom go anywhere without it--not even from room to room--there are some things it won't do for me:

    • It won't let me play music while I read or write
    • All of the office productivity aps I've tried so far suck for anything more than note taking
    • Transfering those notes over to the Aspire and into my prefered Windows aps is a pain
    • Reading PDFs is nigh impossible for me as they won't wordwrap so when I set the font so I can see it I am forced to scroll sideway back and forth for every line
    • It won't run my favorite aps.

    The PDF issue by itself was enough to justify looking at a 10 inch tablet but when I realized I could get a refurbished Windows tablet/laptop for about the same price I got my Nexus I did look back.

    It didn't hurt at all that it was also an Acer Aspire just like the refurbished 17in laptop I've been happy with for over two years now.

    It took me longer to shop for the cover.  Hours and hours of reading the fine print of the tech specs on nearly a dozen 10 inch tablet w/keyboard covers.  Until I found this one the only time the SW5 model was mentioned was to rule it out.

    Here is my Nexus 7 case on top of the Switch.  I can't show the Nexus itself as it's the camera.  The Switch is just a tad bigger than my 11 inch Windows 7 netbook which was my only computer between January 2010 and September 2013.  But the Switch weighs about a third of the Netbook. Even with the case.

    Since it arrived on Thursday I've only been doing set up tasks with it. I haven't even tried to read a PDF on it yet.  I always seem to forget how long it takes get preferences and other settings adjusts to my satisfaction.  

    I'm not going to start doing anything too serious with it until after it upgrades to Windows 10.  It came as 8.1 with elegibility for the upgrade.  It is 0000000000busy downloading that in the background.  First it had to download over 160 updates to the current system which took hours Thursday evening.

    There is one thing that frusterates me but its not unique to the Switch it is a bane for me on all Windows computers and that is their insistance on using 9pt font in all their dialog boxes and their refusal to allow me any control over it like the did in Windows 95 and XP.  Their so called accessibility options add more frustration than thay take away.  The magnifying glass forces parts of what I'm looking at off the screen and I can't track it when moving the mouse to scroll over to what I need to look.  Often something else I need to see at the same time disappears off the other side.  Its very inconvienient.  And there is no excuse for it.

    All of their high contrast themes except the black and white gag my eyes.  I hate the colors and they won't let me create my own version.  I worked with the black and white one for awhile on the 17in Aspire but found that loosing the cues provided by color was too high a price for the very slightly clearer fonts.  Really it looked nothing so much as white sand after birds with wet feet walked across it.

    My nephew has suggested I try changing the DPI to make everything on the screen 125%.  I saw that option but it said 'not reccommended' with warnings that sounded dire to me.  Whenever it says 'not reccommended' I feel guilty as I did as a child when my Dad frowned at me when I disregard and unless I know absolutely for sure the possible consequences I can't bring myself to disobey.


    Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    Tackling the Biggest To-Do

    Crocheted Quilter's Tote
    It was my intention from the moment I started the travel jewelry kit in June for my sister that I would give it my disciplined focus until it was done--hoping that meant in time for her birthday in mid July--and then transfer that same discipline to this Quilter's Tote project that was my Secret Santa gift for my sister-in-law in 2012.  Well, tho I did manage to maintain the disciplined focus on the jewelry kit and gave my sister half of it the week of her birthday and the other half the last weekend of August, too many unforseen things happened with it (just like with the quilter's tote) and multiple rethinks and redos became necessary as reported in earlier posts and the final handover to my sister did not take place until this past Friday afternoon.

    The weekend was all about the read-a-thon but on Monday I cleared my craft table of the tools and materials from the jewelry kit project and got out the quilter's tote.  I layed it all out for this photo but also to re-familiarize myself with its current status.  I got out the to-do list for it and re-read it.  It is in a small notebook that travels with the project and the first page reads:

    • Prep mobeus strip (in blud basket above)
    • Prep wraparound panel (folded on left side above)
    • Prep back/front flap panel (folded on right side above)
    • Crochet 5 4" x 4" squares--4 for pockets on the carry strap 1 to wrap around the twist in the top of the strap.
    • Crochet 3 small flowers for buttons to secure flap on front of bag
    • Crochet 1 large flower for the strap wrap
    • Assemble tote

    Except for the squares and flowers which have patterns, each one of these items require multiple pages of instructions and task lists broken down into sub tasks and dependencies (tasks that must be done before another task can be started). Those lists were disorganized and missing some things I'd thot of since writing it so I tore them out and started over.  
    Assuming I've thought of everything...

    But if there is one thing this project has taught me is that it isn't likely that I've thought of everything.  In fact it might not be possible to think of everything before beginning a project and that has too often been my reason for procrastinating or quitting after encountering an  unforseen snag in my plan.

    I've done the same thing with my creative writing...

    But if there is one thing that sticking to it thru all the snags with the jewelry travel kit (a three week project that became a three month project) taught me it was that I'm clever enough to figure out a way around or through the snags.

    I think I've solved the structure problems I encountered a year ago when I tried to assemble the tote with the original plan and ended up with a flop.  Literally a bag too floppy to be useful.  Who wants to always have to depend on having someone hold a bag open while you put somethng in or take something out unless the bag is already stuffed to the gills?

    I think my solutions are going to work--installing cord on all the edges and lining the bag bottom and sides with microfiber pads. I'm in under no illusion that there will be no further snags but I'm confident I can work them out too.

    Tho it's possible that I'm going to be late for this Christmas too having gotten such a late start and that kind of disappointment has often tempted me to procrastinate.  Not this time.

    This will be my main focus for every day that it is possible.  It's not always possible--appointments outside the house, company, illness, Mom's needs--life sometimes has its own ideas.  But it will become north for my mental compass and my attention will keep returning to it.

    One difficulty it presents is that it is not portable.  It's a long time since it's been a lap project let alone a purse project.  It has to remain on the craft table.  Another difficulty is that very little of the work left to do is of the type that I can do with only half an eye on the work while I'm watching videos.  Much of it is more like sewing than crochet and except for the 5 4" x 4" squares even the crochet is meticulous, detailed stuff in which placement of the hook cannot be by touch.

    So I can't watch videos while working on this but I can listen to documentaries and audio books and daydream my own stories.  In fact I better take advantage of the fact that many of the hours spent on this project were coupled with daydreaming my storyworld.  Thus the very act of handling it again triggers the memories and puts me right back into the scenes I was working on when working on this or that section.  Since I am hoping I have only a short time left with it, now is the time to get as much of that out of my head and onto paper or screen as possible before I hand it over.  Or I may have to start another one. :)


    Monday, October 19, 2015

    A Round of Words in 80 Days Round 4 2015 Goals

    The writing challenge that
     knows you have a life

    I'm back after dropping out for Round 3.  It's been a rough year.  Life threw some new curves.  One of which was the diagnoses of high-functioning autism aka Asperger's Syndrome in mid September.

    Apparently one of the crucial things for someone on the spectrum is a highly structured day which means that participating in things like ROW 80 can only be of help.

    The fact that I've had the experience of ROW 80 since 2012 is helpful as I it has given me the tools I need to create that structure.  Now tho it needs to apply to my whole life and not just writing.

    similar to Round 1 and as always they are time investment rather than word count.
    • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 15min Daily (until about mid summer this year I never lost this one since instating it in my first round in 2012.  A ROW80 win!)  --this had become an integral part of every day for me. I never really stopped the dreaming but I wasn't taking notes.  But even with notetaking it's not enough if it never leads to more than jotting notes as I live inside my story.
    • Read/Study Craft 15min Daily Average -- This is one of the writing tasks I hung onto all year.  At least a significant amount each week if not always daily.
    • 7.5 hours of sleep daily --  the last two years have taught me the importance of this for keeping my anxiety low and energy high, weight down and creativity sustainable.
    • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15min Daily  -- I never got this back after the respiratory illness last winter.  I know it is crucial to health.  Both physical and mental.  And most especially creativity.
    • Personal Journaling 15min Daily  --has not become a daily habit yet.  in fact i've not even reached for it since late February.  I feel serious resistance to it which probably means I need to be doing it.  Especailly to help me assimilate the autism spectrum diagnoses and how it affects my writing goals.
    • Read Fiction 30min Daily Average --this is one thing I kept up even while sick except for a few of the worst days.  And continued right up through mid September when I began the big research project I've discussed elsewhere after my autism spectrum dianoses..
    • Social network activities 30min Daily (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) --another thing I've a strong resistance to.  The autism diagnosis helps explain this but doesn't let me off the hook.  If anything it makes it more important.  
    • Engage with the Blow Me a Candy Kiss structural rewrite file 30 min Daily*  --  except for November when I'll be working on the companion story from husband Greg's POV called To Embrace a Funny Bunny.  These two likely belong to the same novel but I'll be pretending they don't for the durration of NaNo. 
    • All of this in service to the overarching goal for 2015: Regain the joy in writing that I lost sometime last year.  The Joy/joy meter hovers around 7 out of 10.this week.

    I've been struggling with this structural rewrite since my first Row 80 Round in 2012.  The autism spectrum dianoses helps explain why I have no problem accumulating words but can't seem to hang them on an appropriate plot scaffold.  Apparently issues with cause and effect are common on the spectrum.

    I'm hoping that working with Dramtica Pro will help address this issue.  Using it for NaNo prep this year hoping it will prevent the creation of another mess.  Am concurrently running Candy Kiss through it's paces to see if it will also help me fix an existing mess.  If it does then there is hope for the over two dozen WIP messes.  Or at least some of them.


    Sunday, October 18, 2015

    Sunday Serenity - Travel Jewelry Box

    This is part of the travel set I made my sister for her birthday.  Which was last July.  I finally handed this over for the second time on Friday.  The first time I gave it to her was labor day weekend but I had to take it back to fix a couple things.

    I'd given her part one the week of her birthday.  That was the first version of the earring wallet made from the same plastic needle point canvas as the box and meant to fit inside it.  But the same day I handed her the box she gave me back the earring wallet because the hook earrings would not stay put.  I had to comepletely rething the concept and start over and the result doesn't even fit in this box.  She has decided to use it for make up instead of jewelry.

    Now she is asking me if I can install some plastic loops on the lid to hold mascarra pencils and I sad no problem.  Hope it won't take me another month.  :)

    The clasp is what I forgot to install the first time and my original concept didn't work and I had to rethink it.  What I settled on was sewing a button on the bottom and attaching elastic loops to the front edge of the lid and the top edge of the polar bear picture which is opposit the front edge of the lid.  Not shown in these pictures is the vinal pocket on the back of the polar bear picture.

    It took me an hour to prep the pictures for the box and there are more pictures for the earring wallet so I'm going save those for another post later this week. I just don't have it in me to prep the pics and write about them.  I'm still read-a-thon hungover.  Six hours of sleep after forty awake was not nearly half enough.  To be sure I would sleep again at a fairly decent hour tonight in spite of waking up at one I denied myself all caffeine and even my perscription Adderal today.

    You can see pictures of it as a work-in-progress here.


    Saturday, October 17, 2015

    My Brain on Books XVII

    I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004 and will again next fall.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. If you happen to be doing NaNo this year you can find me there as joywrite

    This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges unless required to have a separate post..   

    Be sure to scroll to bottom of this post for advice on how to ward off those scary nap attacks. You won't be sorry.

    Ode to Dewey
    by Joy Renee
    We Miss You Dewey

    3:00 AM - Where did all that time go?
    Still awake.  Not even struggling.

    Well maybe a little.  Not having any trouble staying awake but am having trouble staying on task

    I've done more reading on the blogs and social media following the thon activity and reading Dewey's archives than in books since last eveing's vid chat with Ed.  I opened a lot of books.  Mostly eooks but a few tree books and skimmed around in them.  Reading table of contents and other frontal matter--intros, epigraphs,  acknowledgements, and such.  It's one of my favorite things to do with non-fiction.  It may not be very productive in terms of stats but it's fun and that's the operative word for a thon is it not?

    Besides it can be very productive in terms of comprehension, retention, and connecting the dots when reading them later.  I call it 'Einstein whispering sweet nothings in Emerson's ear'  or is that visa versa?  At any rate I wrote an essay on that theme in the late 90s.  I've shared it here before.  Not sure I feel like hunting the link right now.

    Ambition is at low tide.

     Awake for over forty hours.

    I mostly lurked on the blogs and social media.  Played the videos, imagined how fun this or that challenge might be, admired page layouts, followed comment threads and drooled over images of books.

    But my ambition would not rise to the level of leaving more than a few comments with already familiar names.

    One little project I accomplished was sharing the image of my Ode to Dewey poem on facebook, twitter and google+.  And while I was on fb I stumbled on my neice's posts in the newsfeed and discovered Im a great-aunt again.  Since October 1!  How did I let that get past me?

    I spent half an hour at least drooling over baby pictures.

    Well, because I've not been on social media much in the last month.  And even when I was it was only on my blog's fan page after the rare blog post.  My focus has been on autism research, NaNo prep and the fiber art project I finally finished Friday (original due date July 11) that will probably be the subject of tomorrow's post.

    Very little of what happened conformed to my plan for the thon.  The only thing besides sticking to the dual theme that I adhered to was my intention to be OK with a pliable plan.  No shouldas or any other mental shaming tactics.  I kept the entire thon more than 90% on thon related activities.  And I had fun.  Now that was the plan.

    The hardest part was staying away from Netflix and Amazon Prime.  The quick story fixes that resolve in 30 to 90 minutes that have consumed the bulk of my blogging, writing and reading time for most of a year before mid September when my Asperger's diagnoses shifted my obsession.  I've done more reading in the last four weeks than in all the weeks between last October and mid August.

    I never did start that audio book this afternoon.  I think I'm going to go grab a quick snack and run the thon out listening to Carley's Voice.

    3:00 PM - OK I think it is time to start the audio book and get on the mini-tramp and then pick up the crochet hook.  My afternoon slump is on.  I've been floundering for three hours.  Was reading the hub blog and discovered a link to Dewey's archives and got lost there for awhile and then I started writing updates and and editing them obsessively until so much time has passed I feel the need to start another update before I post.  And thus I've accumulated everything since 8 without publishing.  The 8 AM opening meme was left hanging at 9 for vid chat with my husband and I didn't get back to it until after 10 then decided to do the 11 AM  before posting and at some point got sidetracked by hunger and then the hub and Dewey's archives and then when I came back to the post I needed to check a fact in one of the books and ended up reading for i'm not sure how long.  Then...

    Well you get the picture.  Its what I'd have blamed totally on the ADD two months ago but now I'm seeing autistic aspects to some of the behavior.  Afterall both ADD and autism are all about attention issues and information processing.  A high percentage of those with autism diagnoses also have preceding ADD diagnoses.  I'd be interested in seeing a brain scan showing neuronal activity to see if it is possible to differentiate between them.  Is ADD on the spectrum?  Or is the ADD diagnoses wrong for those who eventually get the Autism diagnoses?  From what I'm picking up in my reading so far I don't think there is consensus on that.  In fact I've seen no evidence the question is even being taken seriously by today's 'experts'.

    All those question could be asked of Bi-Polar as well.  I was nearly diagnosed with Bi-Polar in mid 2013 and again a year later but it was finally ruled out when it was determined that the anxiety coupled with insomnia and sleep deprivation accounted for the symptoms.  And now I know the source of the anxiety is the autism related sensory processing issues.  The OCD and perfectionism is also as they say co-morbid with autism.  Meaning, I gather, they are often found holding hands.

    And I'm rambling....
    When I could be reading!!!

    It doesn't help that I hit 24 hours awake at 8:44 AM.

    Yeah I know.  I said as I prepared to post last night that I was headed to bed.  And I got there in time to get almost 7 hours but I never made it past the hypnogogic stage and gave up at 3AM and started reading.

    You know what?  I'm going to post without editing this update.
    Take that perfectionism.

    11:00 AM - Here's my promised comments on Neuro-Tribes.  I'm a bit over halfway and his overview of the history of the autism diagnosis has reached the 70s.  Here's why I'm now glad my diagnosis took nearly 60 years:

    • First off the name autism itself is based on the Greek root for 'self'  as in autonomous and reflects the bias of the early observations of toddlers as self-involved, self-stimulated, 'lost in their own world' and 'preferring' the company of their self or things over that of other people.  This of course raises the specter of 'selfish' a definite implication of a character flaw.  They're off to a rip-roaring start these 'experts'
    • Before WWII and into the early 1950s the likely diagnosis would have been schizophrenia especially if there was language deficit.  
    • During WWII Hitler gassed us.  
    • During that same decade and into the 60s America forcibly sterilized us, guilted our parents for causing it (refrigerator moms!) and shamed them for not institutionalizing as recommended by the 'experts'.  
    • In the institutions well into the 60s (and beyond?) they chained us to the wall or beds and kept us sedated. 
    • In the 60s and 70s they finally began to recognize it as neurological rather than emotional but aversion therapy became popular and was gladly incorporated by the institutions--including hair pulling, poking, slapping, shaking, shouting starvation and cattle prods.  

    America doesn't torture, right?  Right!

    It would be an interesting study to explore what role this permeation of aversion therapy in our culture (autism wasn't the only deviant behaviors it was advocated for) in the two generations preceding 2005 played in the choices made by Americans at Abu Graib and Gitmo.

    i also find it interesting that more than one of the 'experts' who developed or advocated the use of sterilization and aversion therapy grew up in the German influenced areas of Europe where they got most of their education and cultural biases.  Could that have had any influence on their perception as they 'objectively' observed these children put in their care?

    You think?

    I'm afraid to find out what the current consensus is.  How can I trust that it is any more worth depending on than that of just 25-30 years ago?  Why should I even entertain the idea of giving them the benefit of the doubt?

    Just asking.

    OK that was probably an example of the way my autistic brain works.  I see relationships and patterns in data that no one else sees.

    8:00 AM - Well I read the Donna Williams memoir for the entire three hours.  No switching as planned. But plans are pliable today.  I'm going to read the Thon blog for a bit and do the intro meme tho it is too late to be included in the giveaway.  That will probably take me thru til 9AM when it is time for my daily morning vid chat with my husband who is 300 miles away.  We have two a day and I'm not giving them up even for this.

    1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

    Longview WA USA.  A port town on the Columbia river between Portland OR and the coast.  This is my birth town and where I lived until I married at 21.  I'm living with my Mom and sister, unwillingly separated from my husband for financial and health reasons since January 2013.

    2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

    Carly's Voice by Arthur and Carly Fleischmann.  It is an audio on CD from the library and I plan to  get on the mini-tramp and then get my crochet fix and rest my eyes while I listen during one of my circadian rhythm slumps in the afternoon and wee hours.

    3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

    spicy avocado dip with corn chips, rice cakes and/or veggies.

    4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

    I was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism aka Asperger's Syndrome last month.  I will be 58 next month!  I was a little perturbed that it took so long to figure out.  Until I read the chapters in Neuro-Tribes covering the decades between WWI and my high-school years in the 1970s.  Now I think I'm grateful.  Talk about clueless!  I'll expand on that later on today and probably develop it into a post in the near future.  Meanwhile I'm in the midst of one of my obsessive research projects and would appreciate any input/recommendations--resources, info, support groups, etc. Web based and not.

    5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

    Treat plans as written in soft clay not stone.  It's about pleasure not perfection.  About community not conformity.  About honoring Dewey and literature not stats.  You will notice I don't post numbers of pages or books.  With my visual impairment I couldn't compete anyway and besides I like to graze.  Especially non-fic.  I seldom read a book cover to cover during the thon.  Those I finish were usually begun days, weeks or months earlier.  So I seldom get to entire my titles in the data base.  Thus the thon stats are ot accounting for my typical 3-5 hundred pages spread over ten to twenty books.  I wonder how many more like me there are and what the ratio is between us and those who read whole books. I bet the stats are biased towards YA, children's and light genre.  I wonder how that info might affect the industry peeps who contemplate contributing prizes or otherwise supporting the thon.

    Just thinking with my fingers.  What do you think?

    5:00 AM - and so it begins.  I'm excited and would rather be reading than blogging at the moment.  Besides I'm cold so I think I'll crawl back in bed with my Nexus 7 until the house heat comes on.  Tho that could be risky as just like last April I did not really sleep last night.  I dozed off a few times but could not get past that hypnogogic stage.  I was awake before 9am Friday so making it the full 24 could be a challenge even for me for whom all nighters are as natural as breathing.

    As I stated in last night's pre thon post, my focus today will be on NaNo prep and autism spectrum.  I'm participating in NaNo in two weeks and a month ago I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

    Thus the first four books I'll be switching between this morning are

    [I have this scheduled to go live at 4:44am.  But if this bracketed paragraph is still here on top after 5am I don't have my eyes unglued enough to check in yet.  I will be here soon as I can.]

    Fighting pose


    Friday, October 16, 2015

    Read-a-Thon Rev Up

    Ode to Dewey
    by Joy Renee
    We Miss You Dewey

    It's that time again.  The fall 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.  

    As I type this now I've got exactly ten hours before my 4:44 alarm goes off so I can get up and unglue my eyes in time for my 5:00 AM Pacific Coast start time.  So if got two hours to get to sleep if I intend to have a solid 8 hours to bolster me for the full 24 hours.  If I make it that would be a first.

    My tendency to insomnia is triggered by upcoming events.  All my life I've had trouble sleeping the night before a trip, the first day of school, my birthday, a family get-together, a doctor appointment, shopping excursions.  Basically anything with a social element or anything I'm highly excited or anxious about.

    For the April thon this year I did not sleep at all the night before and made it the full 24 so I was up from noonish on Friday to after 6am Sunday.  Because of that there were several stretches that were a struggle to stay awake and even when fully awake my abillity to focus my eyes and mind were so compromised the pleasure of the event was severely curtailed for me.  I swore I'd not let that happen next time.

    So I'm getting ready to wrap up my day.

    I limited my caffeine today so that should help.

    I've got my Thon post My Brain on Books XVII all ready to schedule for 4:44am.  I've got my Nexus 7 loaded with ebooks and audio books and I've got a pile of library books incuding one audio and I've got several talking books from the Washington Talking Books Library.  I plan to listen to audio a good deal while I crochet.

    Tho I'm not going to hold myself to it like a rule, I've got a general dual theme going for my reads: Autism research (including novels featuring a character on the spectrum) and NaNoWriMo prep.

    That has been the theme of my reading for the last month.  September and October have been NaNo prep for me for a decade but the autism research began in earnest for me in late August when my councelor and I decided to pursue an Asperger's diagnosis for me which was then confirmed in mid September.

    Yikes!  it's almost 8pm.  I better post now so I have time to get my thermos of coffee made before I go to bed.


    Sunday, October 04, 2015

    Sunday Serenity -- Having a Ball

    Blue Muse Having at It
    she seems a bit bemused but she's game
    My Blue Muse and I were having a ball today playing with ideas for this ball of lace weight yarn. There's 420 yards so I believe that's enough for a scarf and hat set and maybe a vest or prayer shawl as well.  I think we settled on an infinity scarf to begin with.

    One of the gems I got on my birthday binge last November, it's a blend of superwash wool, silk, and nylon with a metalic silver strand.  I first got it out to make a scarf in February but when I undid the hank and began winding it I ended up with a snarl:

    click to see post from February

    The night it happened I managed to untangle enough to create a ball from each end the size of golf balls and over the next several months with occasional fussing with it I increased the balls to tennis ball size.  Since Wednesday I took them both to softball size and then wound one onto the other.  It is shotput size or the size of a large grapefruit.

    That's how it looked last November when I brought it home


    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    Upside-Down Nachos

    Upside-Down Nachos
    Ready For Chips
     One of my duties here at Mom's is to make her lunch but since I'm usually reading aloud to her while she eats I wait until after she's eaten to fix my lunch.  Nachos are one of the few lunches where we eat the same thing but since I"m not eatinc until as much as an hour and a half later it is still like fixing two separate meals.  So I devised a variation on a theme that makes putting together a nacho plate for a single person quick and easy.

    First I paint the plate with refried beans straight out of the can or the fridge.  Then add any other ingredients that are already pre-prepped which also need heating up, including the shredded cheese and heat that in the microwave.

    Next I add any uncooked or cold ingredients--salsa, sour cream, olives, green onion, tomato, avocado.  Only the first four are on on this version as the others were unavailable that day.

    Upside-Down Nachos
    Chips Ahoy!
    Last step is to add the chips.  I usually just pile them on but I stopped to take this picture while the bean goop was still visible.  Sometimes for Mom I'll take the time to slide the chips in along the outer edge until the cirle the plate then add a second an third row behind that, pushing the bean goop towards the center.  It looks a bit like a sunflower.  But that takes at least another ten minutes and I seldom have that kind of time to spare.

    Because this is a quick and easy way to make single-serving nachos this way of making them is handy on the weekends when Mom is with my brother's family and I'm responsible for all my own meals.


    Monday, September 21, 2015

    Fiber Art WIP: Jewelry Travel Organizer

    Jewelry Travel Organizer
    The craft project I've targeted for dedicated focus until it is done is this jewelry travel organizer kit that I am making for my sister.  It was meant for her birthday in July and I did giver her one part of it the week of her birthday--the earring wallet with a postcard picture of a baby polar bear for a cover.  It had three sections of plastic needlepoint canvas joined on the short sides and it folded accordion style.

    The jewelry box, also made with plastic needlepoint canvas, has a top cover with a picture of a mama and baby polar bear.  The picture has a vinal pocket on the back and is attached on its bottom edge to the front edge of the lid so that jewelry can be mounted on the inside of the lid.    I have a tiny mirror mounted with decorative electricians tape but it is coming loose so I'm going to have to rethink that.

    I actually gave Carri the box two weeks ago thinking that the project was finished and I was free to move on to the next target (the nearly three years past due Secret Santa project for my Sister-In-Law--the Quilter's Tote) but Carri handed back the earring wallet telling me it wasn't working.  I took back the box too because I'd forgotten to attach the clasp.  Then I spent that weekend rethinking the whole project.

    I decided to turn the postcard sized wallet into something that can hold loose items and to crochet the earring wallet.  I spent the whole weekend crocheting the fifteen inch piece seen above.  Then Carri brought me her earring collection so I could mount them for her.  And Lo it did not work!!  The two-chain mesh I worked with size 5 thread was too big.  So after some more thought I decided to put an Aida cloth lining.  That did seem to work.  Especially with the crocheted back putting pressure on the hook keeping them from sliding out.  The lime green ribbon will serve a double purpose--to protect the earrings from scratching each other when the wallet is folded and as part of the clasp holing it closed.

    The lime green border on the purple crochet is done in lace weight yarn that I created by pulling apart the four fibers in several yards of Carron Simply Soft yarn.  i put that border on last weekend and during last week spent two days trying to find a way to mount a 15x2.5 inch piece of Aida cloth on a jerry rigged stretcher frame so I could put a backstitch border around the edge to stop fraying while being decorative.  I spent hours and hours untangling the sewing thread I was using to attach it to a loom I'd made from my Martha Stewart loom set.  I finally realized in the wee hours of a morning after extricating myself from the upteenth game of evil cat's cradel I realized that in the time I'd spent on that I could have backstitched around the border four times.  Plenty of time that I could have worked slow enough to stay mindful of my tension and thus prevent the puckering of the cloth that stretching it on a frame is intended to do.

    So I spent part of this past weekend doing that.  The remaining steps are:

    • attach the crochet, aida and ribbon pieces together
    • make the buckle for the clasp out of a 1 in sq piece of plastic canvas
    • mount the earrings
    • take the mirror off the lid and attach it to the back of the baby polar bear
    • create an enclosed wallet with that postcard and the three plastic canvas pieces
    • add clasp to jewelry box 
    I'll post pic when it is finished.  I'm hoping by Sunday night if not sooner.  Idealiy I'd like to have it done by Friday afternoon so I can get back to work on the Quilter's tote


    Sunday, September 20, 2015

    Sunday Serenity -- Movie Review: OC87

    OC87:The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie

    Bud Clayman, having had his dreams of a film making career interrupted by mental illness some thirty years ago, reaches again for his dreams by making this film portraying his struggles with mental illness.  We watch as he and those who witnessed it reminisce about the darkest moments of the major depressive episodes.  We are given glimpses into what a typical day looks and feels like for him with his Asperger's social awkwardness in full view and his OCD circular thoughts provided via voice over.  And as the story progress we watch his coping skills increase as he implements a makeover of his life with the advice and help of friends, family and therapists.  Along the way we witness the healing of relationships, including that with himself, a significant triumph in light of the challenges imposed by Asperger's aka high-functioning autism in which social engagement is severely impaired.

    In one scene he acts in a script he wrote based on an episode of Lost in Space that moved him as a child.  The one where John Robinson encounters his evil anti-self in another dimension.  In Buddy's version he gets to verbally chastise and overcome the bully side of himself that has tormented him for decades with harsh judgement and belittlement.

    As I watched that I flashed on the Star Trek episode in which a transporter accident split Kirk into two extreme opposite personalities--docile and aggressive.  Kirk learns that neither one of them can survive without the other but only the docile Kirk comprehends this.  The aggressive Kirk will accept nothing less than docile Kirk's annihilation so he must be rendered unconscious and held in docile Kirk's arms as they make the trip through the (hopfuly) repaired transporter to me melded back into one complete person. That is the scene I'd want to reenact with my inner bully.

    I need to thank Buddy for this monumental achievment and congratulate him for the follow-thru (so difficult for him) in bringing this project from concept to reality.  But especially for his courage in giving us this intimate view into his heart, mind and life when one of the major issues he struggles with--high-functioning autism--makes intimacy nearly impossible.

    A few year's older than Buddy (HS class of 76) and female, I've struggled with major depressive episodes, chronic anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and ADHD, since before kindergarten.  Bipolar was considered several times because of hyperfocus, insomnia, agitation and rapid speech but ruled out because I never had a manic episode not induced by medication and anxiety or sleep deprivation explained the rest.  But less than a week ago I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and my search for more info led me to this film which could not have reached me at a more momentous time.

    If for no other reason than the profound effect his story is having on me, OC87 was worth every penny, every minute, every ounce of effort and every emotional angst and personal risk invested in it by everyone who participated.  Thank You all from the bottom of my heart.

    Based on other reviews on Netflix, I'm sure I'm not the only one so affected.  This was important and successful work even if no other metric seems to confirm that.   So you tell that to those OCDemons Buddy.  And keep telling them until you believe it.

    OC87 is for anyone either curious or with a personal need for insight into living with mental illness--yours or someone in your life--including therapists. Buddy and his team have given a spot-on portrayal of what it looks and feels like from inside and out. It humanizes him, revealing him to be much more than the sum of his symptoms and elicits compassion rather than pity and admiration rather than condemnation even when he isn't coming across as very likable.

    In the end it is profoundly uplifting because Buddy is obviously on the right path forward, having made visibly significant improvement by his efforts and dedication to 'make over' his life and already had a huge win over his inner demons just by conceiving and following through to the finish with this gift of a film for the community at large--however large you want to define that.

    The fact that he was in his mid forties when he made this childhood dream come true shows that it is never too late.  Especially if you start believing in the possibility of what seemed impossible and then take the necessary steps toward it in defiance of the demons of doubt--both inner and outer.  Right now, in this moment, while still under the influence of Buddy's film I'm again feeling the possibility of reaching for my childhood dream, ending the currently six-month hiatus from writing and finishing one of the dozens of fiction WIP in my files-or a brand new one.

    More importantly I understand now that finishing isn't the most important thing--the effort itself is worthy and potentially transforming as I just witnessed.

    If I start to doubt again, I will return to watch OC87.  (So please, please, please leave it up on Netflix.)

    Tho some of his experiences differ from mine, for those that are similar I can testify to their accuracy.   I will be referring some of my friends and family to this film for insight into my struggles.  Especially the Asperger's aspect.

    The only significant difference is in the way my OCD circular thoughts manifest.  Instead of fear of acting out on thoughts of violent acts against others, I have an inner tyrannical taskmaster continuously berating me for failing, never allowing me to enjoy a sense of accomplishment by interpreting successes as failure because they never meet the impossibly high standards (like having completed only ten percent of a day's to-do list that contained six weeks worth of tasks) and using these failures as proof that I am a failure--and an excuse to give up.

    There are ways other than thoughts that my OCDemons manifest for which I saw no reflection In Bud's experience so I'lll save them for future posts.  But I can say that like Bud's mine have nothing to do with hand washing, germs, counting, or checking locks and appliances so well  portrayed in culture media to seem synonymous with OCD.  There are a myriad of ways obsession and compulsion can manifest alone  and together and more than a few have plagued my life.

    Keep making films Buddy.  I will be watching for more of your work.  You are so talented, insightful and honest.  The industry and film community needs you and your unique way of seeing the world.


    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    I Can Relate: An Asperger's Girl on TED Talks

    Thanks to my sister Jamie for bringing this one to my attention.

    Alix Generous's description of her visual thinking and vivid lucid dreams are very like my own as is the shyness and social awkwardness.  But I can only wish that I'd founded a biotec company dedicated to autism assistive technology by age 22 or developed the ability tounderstand humor well enough by then to perform what amounts to informative stand-up comedy.

    She is amazing.  As is her vision for a future for those on the autism spectrum in which they are welcomed and integrated in society, their talents and contributions to culture and technology valued and the road blocks to their success removed.  I love her vision and if what she has already accomplished is indicative of her future success I've no doubt she'll have made it real by the time she is my age.  If not a decade sooner.

    I hope I don't wear out my visitors on the subject but my OCD and hyperfocus has kicked into overdrive since my diagnoses on Wednesday with high-functioning autism and I started collecting online resources.  Storing some of the most meaningful to me on my blog makes more sense than hiding them among the bushels of bookmarks on my browser.

    Expect more but I promise I will diversify at least a bit.  There were quite a few nearly as significant developments during my six month hiatus which I can share--books finished, craft projects done or begun, thinned waist, thinned wardrobe, yardsale, a dire diagnoses rescinded, an ER visit, other health issues tended to, videos watched, room makeovers, items purchased, sorting and organizing projects progress, mood improvements, lots of reading and research, aspirations and insights.....

    About the only one of my usual activities neglected since April was writing of all kinds and I think that is back now.


    Friday, September 18, 2015

    With Respect to the Spectrum

    The Big Give for Autism

    How ironic is it that this week seems to be the annual fundraiser for Autism and I received an official diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder on Wednesday.

    I'm 57 and 10/12ths.

    Essentially I self-diagnosed a couple months ago while reading aloud to my Mom The Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey With Asperger's Syndrome by Shonda Schilling wife of Boston Red Socks Pitcher Curt Schilling about their experience with their son Grant.  As I was reading I kept finding myself identifying with the behaviors she was describing.  After the first few evening's readings I went back in the ebook and highlighted all the incidents for which I had memories of similar incidents.  There were already over half a dozen and as the days progressed I continued to highlight something nearly every day.

    So after stewing on it for a week or so after finishing the book I got up the nerve to ask my counselor if we could look into having me assessed for Asperger's.  It turned out she was already considering the possibility.

    And now it's official. Well autism spectrum anyway.  She was unclear whether the psychologist who evaluated the questionnaires my sister and I filled out was specifying Asperger's or not.  And I'm not sure if high-fuctioning autism is synonymous with Asperger's.  Since I never had a language deficit and tended to excel in most academic skills that seems to fit the high-funtioning criteria if not specifically Asperger's.  Most of my issues are in the social, sensory, emotional, and perseverating behaviors.  I guess we'll be fine-tuning all that going forward.

    Meanwhile I find myself feeling enormously relieved in so many ways by this diagnosis.  It explains so much--like:

    • Why as a child I had few close friends and got along with adults better than my own age group and as an adult I continue to have few close friends and gravitate towards children and teens as my confidants.
    • Why at nearly 20 months I spent the entire night following the July 4rth fireworks until past dawn screaming "BOOM! BOOM! Mama. BOOM! BOOM!"
    • Why my first and only attempt to attend a high-school pep rally ended with me hiding in the girls restroom in the school library with the lights out (until I heard Mr H. lock the front door) in the grip of a full blown feels-like-a-heart-attack panic attack that overcame me just seconds after entering the gym where the band and cheerleaders were warming up and the bleachers were full of nearly 900 students all talking at once.  I'd always avoided crowds and had previously spent the pep rallies in the library but they made attending them mandatory so after that first time I made sure to be in one of the library typing booths with the light out-sometimes hiding under the desk-until I heard Mr. H. locking the front door.  Or I'd be conveniently home sick that day.  (I usually wasn't faking it as severe anxiety created symptoms that mimicked illness like sore skin, low-grade fever, sore throat, nausea.)
    • Why I tend to get intensely focused on one topic or activity to the exclusion of others like watching all five Star Trek series inside of four months or all ten seasons of Criminal Minds inside of five weeks or crocheting for twenty hours straight or spending most of forty some hours writing a short story or listening to the same album twenty times in a row or until my brother threatened to break it if I didn't give it a nauseum.
    • Why I research every subject that catches my fancy like I'm going to be writing a master's theses on it.  Wanna lay bets on which subject will be getting that treatment next?
    • Why I dislike being touched
    • Why I like handling things with different textures and shapes and feel a compulsion to touch everything in sight
    • Why I get lost in a zone while staring at something--or nothing.  "Earth to Joy!"  (which may have resulted in the loss of my first close friend in sixth grade after I refused to respond to her calling my name during a rainy-day-recess hide-and-go-seek game in the classroom.  I suspect just like the pep rally I was in sensory overload and had gone into my version of a virtual closet )
    • Why I resist meeting peoples eyes.
    • Why I'm such an extreme perfectionist I prefer to not do it at all than to do it wrong.  In grade school I'd start the assignment over each time I made a mistake because even the erasure smudges offended my sensibilities.
    • Why I have OCD tendencies
    • Why I'm ritualistic about tasks, liking to do them in a certain way or having difficulty doing them at all if some element of that ritual or the ability to establish a ritual is denied me.  But sometimes the ritual for just setting up to do the task consumes the allotted time for working on the task.
    • Why I have difficulty following oral directions without needing them repeated--several times.
    • Why speaking on the phone is nearly as difficult as attending pep rallies
    • Why I'm clumsy
    • Why I jiggle my leg, tap my fingers or pencil on the desk, swivel my desk chair side to side, tap my tongue on the roof my mouth or teeth (one of the ways I learned to disguise the compulsion into socially acceptable behaviors along with rocking babies, bouncing on the mini-tramp or exercise ball, sitting in swings or rocking chairs, drumsticks...)
    • Why I like to collect things and hate to give them up--even things most would toss in the garbage without a qualm--like the old asbestos bathroom floor tiles I hid under my mattress when they put in new linoleum when I was six.  I was heartbroken when Mom discovered them and took them away.  I'm still saving weird stuff but nothing quite as disgusting as that. :)
    • Why I dislike change.  Even transitioning from indoor to outdoor, from dry to wet, from awake to asleep...and visa versa. Switching tasks, changing clothes, changing routines....
    • Why Mom's favorite refrain was 'Why can't you be consistent?'
    • Why it took me nearly ten years to earn my bike via the star chart devised by my mom in which completion of each day's chores without reminding and with good attitude earned a gold star and for each gold star Daddy would put a dollar in the bank for our bike.  My baby sister whom I had a seven year head start on earned her bike several years before I did.
    • Why I dislike any social gathering but especially of more than three or four people.  One on one is my preference.  Well...not counting one on none which I suppose doesn't count as a social gathering anyway.  :)
    • Why I cover my ears and feel tempted to tantrum when sirens or trains go by within a block.  Alarm clocks are barely more tolerable.
    • Why I have such massive startle reactions anyone standing too close can get hurt.  More than once someone coming up behind me or touching me unexpectedly got an elbow in the gut or ribs.
    • Why even listening to conversation takes so much effort and wears me out. And participating is a whole other level of angst.
    • Why I think in images and struggle to translate them into words before whoever is listening loses patience.
    • Why my thoughts go into a free association at lightspeed in which I see patterns and relationships I can seldom convince anyone else are relevant
    • Why conversations with me can wear out the other person trying to follow my train of thought all over the map of ideas.  And that's even if we started out discussing the menu for the next meal.

    Nearly all of those examples can be explained by the existence of a neurological condition that makes processing multiple streams of information in real time impossible.  Each of the five senses is at least one separate stream.  Verbal content another--one stream per person speaking.  Non-verbal content yet another--one stream per person present.  Spatial relationships yet another. Time yet another.  Emotions yet another, if not separate streams for each emotion present in the environment--mine and theirs.  This creates the anxiety which leads to the 'unacceptable' behaviors like social isolation, rituals and rhythmic movements, OCD, inconsistency, getting stuck in a groove, the appearance of self-involvement or selfishness.  All of which are manifestations of information overload and/or attempts to soothe the anxiety or control what seems a chaotic environment.

    Some of the relief this diagnosis is generating in me relates to the pervasive sense of failure as a human being I've carried for decades because of what seemed to be character flaws preventing me from conforming to expectations--mine or other's.  This sense of failure feeds the depression I've struggled with since at least age 7 and possibly age 4.

    Forty odd years after earning my bike I'm still expecting gold star days of myself and never achieving them.  But the chart I've created for myself contains dozens more requirements than Mom's did for me back then.  It's probably impossible for a neuro-typical.  But for someone with the issues I just described above its just cruel.

    Now I'm getting a glimpse of a future in which I've forgiven myself for the failure to accomplish the impossible.  For isn't it as unrealistic to expect someone with sensory processing issues to be at ease in a crowd or capable of accomplishing each days tasks to perfection without reminding and with good attitude as it would be to expect a blind person to drive a car or a person with only two limbs to jump rope? 


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