Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Finishing Joy

Crochet Bag for Travel Blanket

Earlier this month my sister asked me if I had any pink yarn or thread in my stash. 

Well, duh, yeah. 

With several individuals on my potential giftee list having affinity for either pastels in general or the pink/red spectrum, I had accumulated some.  Not quite as much as the blue which is mine and Mom's favorite or the purple which is Carri's but still a significant selection.

She was asking because she'd bought a travel blanket for a friend on discount that was missing the carry bag it was supposed to come with.  Carri showed me her own travel blanket in its bag and asked if it was feasible to crochet a carry bag for it and about how long it would take and how much I might charge her for it.  She was hoping to see this out-of-town friend in person sometime in May.

I spent the next couple hours pulling my stash bags out from under my craft table and going thru them looking for possible yarn and thread in shades of pink or colorways featuring pink.  After dinner that evening I had Carri look them over and she settled on the Lion Brand Cobo in Magenta which was very close in color to the blanket itself.  It was a good choice for its fiber content of cotton and bamboo blend.

Before I went to bed that night I had crocheted the bottom circle and the first two rows of the tube.  The bottom took me several false starts before I got the right starting number of stitches in the center so that it continued to lay flat until it reached the required six inches across.  Turned out to be twelve.

The next morning I added several rows of the mesh--double crochet, single chain, double crochet--before I was needed for Mom's shower.  I showed it to Carri and told her then that instead of cash I wanted her to take me yarn shopping at a discount store she had messaged me photos from last summer and to one of the branches of the Fort Vancouver library system where I could sign up for a card and for having items mailed to me because of my disabilities preventing me from traveling to pick them up in Woodland. 

Both excursions would have to wait until after the need for quarantine on behalf of Mom is past.  That might be longer than the official shelter-in-place protocols remain in place since our 88 year-old mother is extremely vulnerable to the effects of the virus.

By Wednesday evening, May 6, I had finished it, including all the finishing touches like tucking tails and adding the elastic headband for a drawstring.  That was five days since I began after dinner on Friday and finished shortly after dinner on Wednesday. 

Little to no work got done on either Saturday or Tuesday as those are Mom's shower days for which I'm on duty in the bathroom with her for three hours followed by another two hours making and supervising lunch.  That means it could easily be a three day project. Even less if I super focused. But that super focus is a power of mine I must use with care as it tends to push out all other activities from my life--reading, writing, researching, videos, socializing, chores, self-care, eating, sleeping...

I was eager to start another one or two or three for myself.  I pictured them as carry bags for crochet project kits that will hang on my wrist while I work.  Or as bags with shoulder straps for my coffee and water thermoses.

But I knew I needed to rein in that urge as I've got dozens of WIP.  In fact the bags containing WIP are beginning to rival in volume the bags containing unkitted yarn and thread--somewhere in the neighborhood of 66 gallons each. 

I've been working steadily at finishing projects since I began the holiday rush last fall and resisting starting anything new until I finish a significant number of them.

The real story here is that of the thrill I got from starting and finishing one project inside of a week.  It felt so exhilarating I even asked myself is Joy actually experiencing joy? 

If so, I concluded, I  needed to finish more projects more often.  Then it occurred to me that I had enough projects scattered among my WIP bags with from under an hour to under six hours of work to complete that I could finish something every day for a month or more.  Starting with this large trash bag containing things I crocheted for myself and never got around to tucking the tails and other finishing touches like buttons, bows, belts, tassels etc.

Contained in this bag is also a few things that I didn't make myself including kit bags that need minor repair but it is over 80% yarn and thread crochet WIP.  Sitting in Mom's recliner it takes up significantly more room than her torso and head.

Instead of starting a finish one a day agenda tho I decided to return to the project I'd interrupted to do the bag for Carri's friend.  That was a sweater identical to the one I made Mom for Christmas for her friend who lives with my brother's family where Mom spent weekends before the quarantine protocols kicked in. 

We had implemented shelter-in-place on account of our elderly Mom in mid March about a week before our Governor Inslee instituted it statewide.  And about two weeks after I'd targeted the sweater for Mom's friend as my next focus.  I'd hoped to have it finished by the end of March.  I just finished it a few days ago. 

I backed off crochet in April in favor of reading and discovered or re-discovered another old thrill:  finishing novels in less than a week after starting them.  In fact after I'd collected a significant number of finished titles across my devices and reading aps I set about counting them and discovered there were over fifty titles and the ratio of fiction to NF was better than three to one.  But that's a topic for another post.

Shortly after the read-a-thon in April though I began to gravitate back to crochet for a bit most every day with the focus on that sweater for Mom's friend and I knew that I needed to keep my focus on that until it was done because focus for me is a fragile thing.

Yes, fragile.  in spite of having just described it as nearly a super power of mine.  The fragility is in keeping the balance between flitting like a butterfly from shiny object to shiny object creating WIP and other clutter that takes over my space and the hyper-focus that can take over my life like bindweed a yard.  The difference is between owning the focus and being owned by it.  This issue is part of my autism spectrum profile.

But when I finished it the other day, including tucking the tails just hours after taking the last stitch, and handed it over to my sister to be laundered she informed me that she had just done the gentle cycle load so it could be a week or more before there would be enough items to warrant another load.

When I suggested Mom's sweater also needed washing since I'd been using it as the pattern, had handled it a lot and dropped it on the floor where it picked up fuzzies and who knows what all else, she said the two together would balance the load so she might consider it but I told her to hold off a couple days while I collected nearly finished WIP with similar fiber content to see how many of those I could add to the load inside of a week..

Last night I handed over three hats and three scarves after about three hours of effort.  All of them I'd made for myself.  Several of them I'd been wearing without having tucked the tails; even with the stitch savers still protecting the last stitch.

I decided to wait until they were all back from the laundry before getting pictures.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

My Brain on Books XXV

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.  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. 

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 that don't require a separate post..   

3:00AM - This will be my last update.  Going to go sit on my bed and read Funny, You Don't Look Autistic by Michael McCreary until 5 and then get some sleep before time to wake Mom at 9am.  Usually that would be 8am but we're letting her sleep in because of how late she got to bed.  There is always the chance she will wake at the usual time tho so I still have to set my alarm to get up and check on her at 8.  Once I know she is up I can message my sister so and then I'm free to go back to sleep until noon.

2:22AM - Started Winds of Fate, the next book chronologically on Lackey's Valdemar timeline immediately after finishing By the Sword.  But I only read for about half an hour before deciding I wanted to go explore the Dewey Thon site and then update my Thon post.  Can't believe there is less than three hours left of the Thon! And I still haven't started reading any of the autism spectrum book which I'd intended to give 50% of Thon time to.  But that expectation was based on finishing the Lackey by noon.  I knew based on the past months experience with the Valdemar world books that I would not want to interrupt one to flit among my 'stack' as has been typical thon behavior for me.

Reading the Mercedes Lackey books has become the thing my husband and I have been doing 'together' since February and after we lost our weekend visits due to the isolation protocol last month this joint reading project has become almost fanatical. We update each other via Messenger several times a day and via phone calls several times a week.  It's been years since I've read so many novels so close together.  Have been averaging two to three per week since January.  And this has been in addition to the other reading--literary fiction and various NF.

11:33PM - Just finished By the Sword.  Read what was probably the last five pages after lights out for Mom.  That was at least two hours later than typical for her.

7:30PM - Still reading By the Sword but closing in on the last 15%. My sister just back with KFC chicken pot pies and root beer floats.  My treat partially as celebration of the read-a-thon and to insure no dinner clean-up but mostly to make amends for destroying last night's dinner and forcing an emergency replacement of the oven which had been on the agenda for sometime in the next year or two.  We just really didn't need the added inconvenience this week!

5PM - Just back from lunch cleanup.  I meant to listen to By the Sword via text-to-speech while making lunch but after realizing how mentally fatigued I was and feeling a loss of confidence after last nights BIg Bummble I thot it best not to divide my attention in the kitchen today. I did read the ebook on the screen while eating my lunch after turning off the burner and griddle.

I thought I'd be finished with By the Sword by now as I've read several of Lackey's Valdemar world books this past month and most of them clocked in at six to eight hours.  Just checked page counts of the book and several others and sure enough By the Sword is nearly twice the length of the typical ones at nearly 500 pages.

3:33PM - Still reading By the Sword.  Just exited bathroom.  Mom dressing.  This is my thirty minute rest before starting the traditional shower day tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches lunch prep.

1:11PM - Still reading By the Sword.  Still waiting for the call from Mom. Discovered she is still in recliner. Apparently she got caught up in the 'drama' of listening to my sister make phone calls all over the NW from south of Tacoma, Washington to Salem, Oregon looking for a replacement for the aging oven that I dealt a death-blow to last night when I left the kitchen scissors on the oven door when I closed it and their plastic handle melted into a toxic lake under the element and suffused the six salmon patties and full sheet of sweet potato tots with noxious fumes along with the whole upstairs once the over door was opened.  Now we are without an oven and my sister had just done the monthly Cosgo shopping which included a lot of menu items that require an oven.

11AM - Still reading By the Sword.  Went back to sitting on my bed after doing the Opening Survey. Have just moved back to my desk to do update and then prepare for Mom's shower.

5:55AM - I got up at a quarter to five and fixed a thermos of coffee and then settled back on my bed among piles of pillows and blanket since the house heat wasn't due to come on for a couple hours.  I started reading By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey on an Android tablet.  But apparently i allowed myself too much comfort too soon after waking from too short a sleep as I dozed back off.

Opening Survey!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Longview Washington USA.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Funny, You Don't Look Autistic by Michael McCreary

--see yesterday's post With Respect to the Spectrum (Revisited)

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Toasted cheese sandwich and tomato soup

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
At least half a week before Governor Insley made it official last month, our family went into isolation in order to protect my elderly mother.  So the four of us--myself, my sister and her twenty-something son and Mom have been holed up for nearly forty-odd days.  Before that we were used to weekend respite when Mom visited my brother's family from Friday afternoon thru Sunday evening.  Now her care becomes a 24/7 challenge as she needs as much attention as a toddler.  My two major duties have always been making and serving her lunch M-Th and supervising her shower on Tuesdays, the occasional dinner for the family, loading dishwasher whenever needed and supervising bedtime S-Th.  Now lunch and bedtime are all seven days, dinner at lest 3 and there is now a second shower on Saturday.

My shower-day duties can start as early as 11am and last as late as 4pm since it isn't over until the kitchen is cleaned up for whoever begins dinner prep between 4:30 and 5.  This is going to affect the read-a-thon for me in a big way as I will not be able to devote my attention to it uninterrupted as has been my habit.  Tho I still hope to cram a lot of reading in to the cracks of time by using the very portable ebooks and audio books on my Android devices.  It is a blessing that Mom still does most of the work of her shower.  I just need to be in the room for those things she can't do herself, to get her back on track if she gets confused and to monitor her well-being--stamina, mental state etc.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? 
This is my 25th Dewey Thon.  See above.  I won't be able to isolate myself from the household--people or duties--for the entire 24 hours which is going to give it a completely different complexion.

4:44 AM - I'm setting this to go live at 4:44 AM but it may be as much as an hour before I check in.  Making coffee, Getting eyes focused.  Settling in at primary reading station.  But I will be reading via audio by 5AM.

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey


Friday, April 24, 2020

With Respect to the Spectrum (Revisited)

Earlier this month I reworked and updated the post I wrote here the week I received my Autism Spectrum diagnosis nearly 5 years ago for publication at Wellness Works NW.  With their permission I'm cross-posting it here.

At the bottom of this essay is appended a list of some of the books on autism I've encountered since my diagnosis. That list is short compared to the TBR list I've collected on the topic so tomorrow I'm participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon and intend to devote at least 50% of my reading time to the topic in both fiction and non-fiction.

I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism in the Fall of 2015 the very week of the annual fundraiser for Autism.  How ironic is that?

I was 57 and 10/12ths.

Essentially I had self-diagnosed a few months previous 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 that resonated with my own memories of similar incidents.  There were already over half a dozen and as the days progressed I continued to highlight something nearly every day.

After stewing on it for a week or so upon 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.

A few weeks after that it was official.  Although they don't call it Asperger's anymore as the new manual subsumes that diagnosis under High Functioning Autism. 

Most of my issues are in the social, sensory, emotional, and perseverating behaviors.   Sensory overload results in (or is the result of) an inability to process all the data flooding all five sensory intakes in real time which is likely (in my self-observation-informed opinion) the root of most of the other issues. 

Who wouldn't have social anxiety if every conversation is conducted in a room with multiple blaring TV's and radios on different channels, tuning orchestras and marching bands, and a window open to big-city traffic on a sunny day with its constant flicker of light and shadow and cacophony of horns, engines, sirens, brakes, raised voices...  Now add to that a sixth channel for an equally chaotic swirl of emotion.  And yet another channel for a cascade of sensory and emotional memories triggered by all of that.  Who could be expected, under such conditions, to assign meaning to subtle changes in facial expression, body posture and tone of voice to figure out there is more meaning being proffered than the dictionary definitions of the spoken words.  It was hard enough and often impossible to capture the words and their meanings in real time.  No wonder conversations held in my presence often sound like they are being exchanged between the staff at Charlie Brown's school.

This untamed chaos accompanied by awareness of incomprehensible expectations on the part of others creates the anxiety (performance anxiety on steroids?) which leads to the 'unacceptable' behaviors like social isolation, rituals and rhythmic movements, OCD, inconsistency, getting stuck in a groove, zoning out (Earth to Joy!) giving the appearance of self-involvement or selfishness.  

That is where the name Autism for this condition originated--from the cognate 'auto' meaning self.  But I believe that is a misleading misnomer born of limited information and lack of imagination on the part of the early researchers.  What if it is all evidence of instability of self-hood--an inability to maintain a coherent sense of self in the midst of sensory chaos.  If that is so then all those manifestations of information overload and attempts to self-soothe are evidence of monumental courage and tenacity.  

Modern theories use the term Mindblind which has potential to be less judgmental and pejorative but only if those contemplating it realize that it is a two way street.  To accuse those on the spectrum of 'mindblindness' because they exhibit little evidence of being able to predict the output of other minds by extrapolating from personal experience while exempting themselves from the visa versa is nothing more than hubris and will only lead them down another blind alley.  

The assumption in play is that only the neurotypical mind is a legitimate manifestation of mind.  I reject that as I reject the idea that someone speaking another language is less human than I.  

Originally I felt enormously relieved and full of hope having the diagnosis.  It explained 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 a dearth of 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 I'd always avoided crowds and 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 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.  With a mirrored disco ball shooting light shards.  I had previously spent the pep rallies in the library but they had just made attending them mandatory.  After that 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 wasn't faking it as severe anxiety can create symptoms that mimic illness like sore skin, low-grade fever, sore throat, nausea.  It plays havoc with immune systems as well.)
  • 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 rest...ad 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 got that treatment in the year following my diagnosis?
  • Why I dislike being touched
  • Why I like handling things with different textures and shapes and feel a compulsion to touch every object 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 booth.  
  • 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 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.   Although--maybe, if I were allowed to count all the characters that inhabit my storyworlds.  :)
  • Why I cover my ears and feel tempted to tantrum when sirens or trains go by within a block.  Or jets approach or leave runways.  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 enervating angst.
  • Why I think in images and video clips and struggle to translate them into words before whoever is listening loses patience.
  • Why my thoughts go into a free association at light-speed 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 that can be explained by a neurological condition that makes processing and integrating 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 another--one stream per person present.  Emotions another, if not separate streams for each emotion present in the environment--mine and theirs.  Spatial relationships yet another. Time yet another.  Self/Other boundaries yet another.  If having a stable sense of self requires integrating all of that and more in real time, what is the meaning of the phrase 'self-involved' in this context?

Some of the relief the diagnosis generated in me when I first received it 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 4.  A depression that reached suicidal levels several times before age 40.  As I wrote in my blog at the time: 

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?

The hope that accompanied that relief was rooted in the expectation that the diagnosis would open new doors for me like counseling that was more like coaching targeted at the issues that prevent me from living an autonomous and productive life.  I believed that defining a problem was the first step in fixing it and thus I was on my way to a brighter future.  But not so much.  Turns out the community mental health system where I'm at doesn't provide such services for adults.  And all the information I've accessed in my year's long research project has just added more data streams to the chaos.  

Yes, the information from the dozens of books, articles and videos has helped me understand my situation and develop compassion for my self and even forgiveness but it hasn't yet helped me stop creating new need to forgive myself on a daily, even hourly basis.  It has given me a sense that it should be possible to organize my self and my life to create competency and self-respect but I've yet to find a way to apply the knowledge with a consistency that even begins to mimic normal adulthood.  And now, at age 62 it is getting harder to cling to the hope for a self-actualized life and I'm overwhelmed by the sense that my self will remain as unfinished as the dozens and dozens of novels, essays, stories, and poems in my files and the dozens of unfinished fiber art projects in boxes and bags surrounding me.

But if I've learned nothing else it is that consistency like perfection is overrated and and neither are viable goals in the first place.  Hope is the prerequisite for effort and effort nurtures hope.  The process itself is the goal.  Trying the next thing when the last thing fails is the mark of maturity.  So I will continue the research and the efforts.

Following is a list of some of the books I’ve encountered since the diagnosis that have informed, nurtured or empowered me:
Academics: Science, Theory, History, How-To, Sociology, Psychology, Journalism
  • Asperger’s on the Job by Simone, Rudy
  • Asperger’s and Girls by Wrobel, Mary et al
  • Coming Out Asperger by Murray, Dinah
  • NeuroTribes by Silberman, Steve
  • The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum  by Grandin, Temple
  • Exposure Anxiety – The Invisible Cage by Williams, Donna
  • An Anthropologist on Mars by Sacks, Oliver
  • Mindblindness An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind by Baron-Cohen, Simon
  • Natural Genius : The Gifts of Asperger’s Syndrome by Rubinyi, Susan
  • Neurodiversity by Armstrong, Thomas
  • The Neurofeedback Solution by Larsen, Stephen
  • The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are by MacLeod, Chris
  • Working With Adults With Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Toolkit by Hagland, Carol & Webb, Zillah
  • Self-determined Future With Asperger Syndrome : Solution Focused Approaches by Bliss, E. Veronica & Edmonds, Genevieve
  • In a Different Key by Donvan, John & Zucker, Caren
  • The Highly Sensitive Person by Aron, Elaine N.
  • Autism and the God Connection : Redefining the Autistic Experience Through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness by Stillman, William
  • Writers on the Spectrum by Brown, Julie
  • An Exact Mind: an Artist With Asperger Syndrome by Myers, Peter
Biography and Memoir by those on the spectrum and those who care for them
  • The Best Kind of Different: Our Family’s Journey With Asperger’s Syndrome by Schilling, Shonda & Schiller, M. J.
  • Carly’s Voice by Fleischmann, Arthur
  • Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum by Michael McCreary
  • Nobody Nowhere by Williams, Donna
  • Somebody Somewhere by Williams, Donna
  • Born on a Blue Day by Tammet, Daniel
  • Look Me in the Eye by Robison, John Elder
  • Raising Cubby by Robison, John Elder
  • Be Different by Robison, John Elder
  • The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Barnett, Kristine
  • Temple Grandin by Montgomery, Sy
  • Thinking in Pictures by Grandin, Temple
  • A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin’s Mother Tells the Family Story by Cutler, Eustacia
  • Raising Blaze by Ginsberg, Debra
  • To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines by Newman, Judith
  • Life, Animated by Suskind, Ron
  • Following Ezra by Fields-Meyer, Tom
  • House Rules by Picoult, Jodi
  • The Speed of Dark by Moon, Elizabeth
  • Love Anthony by Genova, Lisa
  • Best Boy by Gottlieb, Eli
  • The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Knipper, Stephanie
  • Shine Shine Shine by Netzer, Lydia
  • How We Deal With Gravity by Scott, Ginger
  • Ginny Moon by Ludwig, Benjamin
  • The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Haddon, Mark
  • The Art of Fielding by Harbach, Chad
  • 600 Hours of Edward by Lancaster, Craig


Saturday, October 26, 2019

My Brain on Books XXIV

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.  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. 

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 that don't require a separate post..   

4:44 AM - Made it.  Still going strong.

I stuck with The Catholic School for over two hours.  Then switched to The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess for another hour.  There was some snack scavenging and some social media lurking and a long distraction with giphy after discovering its existence on the hub.

Now I'm concerned I'm not going to wind down fast enough to get a substantial sleep before my alarm goes off at 11AM to prep for my Sunday afternoon date with my husband.

1:55 AM - Lost in an Italian Catholic Boys School.

10:10 PM - Five hours of browsing among 18 books

The 'browsing' included reading whole chapters or intros or short stories.
Besides all that I downloaded a free ebook of Whuthering Heights and 'reread' the same four chapters from Disc 1 of the audio.  The British accent of the narrator and her attempts to provide accents as indicated by Bronte's spelling coupled with my spectrum sensory issues had me frequently frustrated.  Having now read the same passages with my eyes I think I'll have an easier time of listening tho I miss the ability to speed up the audio the ap on my computer does not provide.  One of my sensory issues is that I listen better when I listen fast.

But I intend to return to the audio book later and pick up my crochet.  First I want to return for as long as my eyes will allow to The Catholic School.

Now that i've got the grazing urge sated i'm feeling ready to focus on one story long enough to get lost in it.  Hoping my eyes will allow that to be The Catholic School but if not it will be Wuthering Heights.


5:55 PM - List of Yesterday's Library Haul not yet mentioned.

  • Everything Inside : stories by Edwidge Danticat
  • Hunter's Moon : a novel in stories by Philip Caputo
  • The American Spirit: Who we are and what we stand for by David McCullough
  • Moral Imagination : essays by David Bromwich
  • The Last Book Party : a novel by Karen Dukess
  • Whisper Network : a novel by Chandler baker
  • The Program : Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the rise and fall of NXIV  by Toni Natalie with Chet Hardin

Am going to be browsing in these for awhile.

4:44 PM - Books I Browsed in my Android device in the last three hours

  • Mind to Matter by Dawson Church (How thoughts become things by changing the physical structure of our brains and then our behaviors)
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville ( a reader i visited was reading this which reminded me I had been reading it last fall or summer and hadn't finishd)
  • NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! By Chris Baty (NaNo Prep)
  • From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler (NaNo Prep)
  • Scrivener by David Hewson (NaNo Prep)
  • Writers on the Spectrum by Julie Brown (NaNo Prep because I'm on the spectrum and it gives me insight.  Plus she identified Melville as Aspberger which prompted me to start Moby Dick)
  • My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (a teen girl answers a want ad from a teacher looking for students and discovers the teacher is a gorilla)
  • Little Black Book of Stories by A. S. Byatt (short stories)
  • World Famous Cults and Fanatics by Colin Wilson (NaNo Prep because my storyworld features a cult)
  • Nothing by Blake Butler (a rhapsody on Insomnia)
  • Raising Cubby by John Elder Robinson (Robinson's first book was a memoir about discovering he was Asperger in his 40s.  In this one he learns his teenage son is also)

I spent 5 to 15 minutes with each one.  All but the first I'd previously started and was various distances in.

2:22 PM - Personal reactions to The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati:

What is it about this book that kept me coming back to it after repeatedly putting it in the no-go pile at the library for quite logical reasons.  I'd taken down it's metadata so there was no fear I'd loose track of its existence.  There was always next library visit or waiting for it to become available as ebook or audio.  Yet it seemed a magnet drawing me back to it even after the initial checkout of the pile of chosen ones.

It is not what is known as a page turner with a plot that acts as a string tied to your eyes.  If there are any strings involved it is the sentences themselves and it's not because any sentence is calling attention to itself for any known aspect of 'sentenceness'.  Maybe it would be more precise to say it was thought itself that is the string but if said thought were clothed in shabby sentences there would be discontinuities that break the spell that kept me reading in spite of all the physical challenges and the book would never have insisted on coming home with me on the bus tho it would not fit in the bag.

Beyond the sentences and thoughts themselves it is the mesmerizing fashion Albinati combines philosophy, cultural commentary, modern headline, fictionalized memoir, coming of age and gothic ambiance in a nearly 1300 page tome. Thus combining physical and mental exercise. :)

Not tome.  Story.  That's probably the actual string.  Duh?  Because I don't think my comments so far have made clear that there is the definite feel of a developing story in the competent hands of a master storyteller.  One who can hold dozens of threads in play at once as in the weaving of a fine tapestry.wall hanging.

11:11 AM - The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati
This nearly 1300 page tome solved the problem of the nap attack.  The smallish print forced me to put a second pair of reading glasses over the first adding 2.0 to 2.75.  I needed to mount the book on a book easel to free my hands for I needed the left hand to hold the flap open and the pages on that side pressed flat and my right hand to slide either a book mark or my finger along the line.  This is why I so seldom make the attempt anymore with these ginormous books that I once inhaled back in the day.  20 pages in one hour!.  I remember when it felt slow to do less than 100 pages an hour.

This was one of the books from my library haul yesterday.  The first in several years because I can no longer walk alone to the library and then in 2016 had incurred a large fine after misplacing an audio book.  It was the fact of having misplaced a library item that shamed me into abandoning use of the library and I left the fine on my card to remove the temptation of using it.  I guess I finally forgave myself.

Since 2014 I've qualified for door-tp-door transport with the local bus service.  I've mostly reserved use of it for health-care appointments but in nonor of the read-a-thon I decided to go to the library yesterday.  And the experience was so positive I think I'll be repeating it.

The Albinati book was one of a couple dozen items I gathered in my first half hour and then spent the next hour browsing and taking down titles/authors in my android device with bluetooth keyboard with Evernote.  I spent a bit of time with each item, making stacks of yes, no and maybe.  In spite of the fact that I kept placing The Catholic School in the No pile for the fact of its size, weight and font size I kept coming back to it, opening it randomly and finding myself reading a page or three before reluctantly putting it back in the No pile.  I went to the checkout counter without it tho I had at the last moment attempted to fit it with the stack in the crook of my left elbow and could not control the stack one-handed with it there and I had to have a free right had for my white cane.

As I stood by the elevator I glanced back over to the table where I'd sat and the book was still there.  So was my coat!  I'd walked off without my coat.  I returned for it and on the way across the room I told myself that the bookbag was not over heavy and tho the big red book would not fit inside, the shoulder bag freed my left hand.  So I grabbed it up along with my coat and headed back to the checkout counter.

The image I'm posting must be for the British edition as the one I'm reading has no photo and is solid red with black title and yellow author text.  Which is probably what caught my eye and prompted me to pull it off the shelf in the first place.  This edition is the only English language edition on Goodreads (it is translated from Italian) and tho I have librarian privileges I've not used then in so long I'd have to relearn how to add an edition and such tasks or soooo time consuming anymore!  So not today anyway.

Well this has gone on too long already so I leave talking about the substance of the book and what is magnetic draw for me is in a later update.  Right now I just want to get back to reading it.

9: 09 AM - Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Donada Peters (Narrator)  Random House Audio CD
Switching to disc 2 but not sure I'm going to continue immediately.  Fending of nap attack.  Need something that requires me to keep my eyes open.

6:05 /AM - I began the day finishing off the last 10% of the fourth book in Mercedes Lackey's Jouster series which I've been reading for the last two or three weeks.  My attempt to finish before I slept shorted me on much needed pre Thon sleep.  A bit less than four hours!  And still didn't finish.  Now I have a slimmer chance of making the full 24hrs without at least a nap.

5:05 AM - Opening Survey!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? 
Longview, Washington USA a few miles from the majestic Columbia River

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
The audio of Wuthering Heights.  I last read it as a teenager and I know I could not have understood it beyond the shallow plot level.  Reviews I've read in the last decade have more than hinted that I need to read it again

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm visually impaired, Asperger, mood disordered but reading and writing stories is my joy.  Reading often means 'listen' now so I am usually crocheting as story and fiber art weave their manifestations together.  I've been a NaNoWriMo for three years longer than a Dewey Thon reader and will be again this year so some of my reading today will relate to NaNo prep

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?
For the last several thons I put all my focus on reading and neglected the visiting and the mini-challenges.  I'm hoping to shift that balance back a bit at least.

4:44 AM - I'm setting this to go live at 4:44 AM but it may be as much as an hour before I check in.  Making coffee, Getting eyes focused.  Settling in at primary reading station.  But I will be reading via audio by 5AM.

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey


Blog Directories



Feed Buttons

About This Blog

Web Wonders

Once Upon a Time





70 Days of Sweat

Yes, master.

Epic Kindle Giveaway Jan 11-13 2012

I Melted the Internet

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP