Living in the eastern part of the U.S. in this cold winter of ’14 (if you are anything like me) has made me somewhat of a bibliobibuli; that is to say; lost in books and not too involved in nature or in ‘the world.’ My standard book consumption has typically averaged one per week lo these past few decades but lately it’s been three or even four per week… with breaks for shoveling snow of course. Am I frozen in limbo? Stunted in communication from all the book reading? Is that likely? Have I regressed from interactions with humanity? Do I care?
I found myself bookless. Travelling to Massachusetts; trying to see the beauty in the decaying cities and towns whizzing by. I was looking for the niches; the hidden carved stone gargoyles along the sides of buildings, designed usefully and ornamentally to prevent rainwater from running down masonry walls. Put there by the unknown long ago architects’ hand. The gargoyles’ silent muted forms with their hidden purpose. The German poet Friedrich Von Schelling in his “Philosophy of Art” called architecture ‘frozen music’ and truth be told I see those affected by selective mutism (like me) as architecture, complete with hidden ha-has… Wit that remains hidden. And architectural ha-has too. In Europe “ha-has” are niches in the alleyways; those delightful openings in the walls, without any grills in old architecture designs which surprise the eye upon coming near it, and makes one laugh, Ha! Ha! from where it takes its name. Ha-has that open to lone pastoral views.
So we were on our way to the gallery to drop off my paintings ; my good friend Al and I, when I had my epiphany. The highway itself was pockmarked and in need of some serious roadwork due to the troublesome winter briefly mentioned in the opening paragraph. We ventured by a city my parents traversed through monthly in my youth. I pointed to a McDonalds as we whizzed through this city. “My parents would never take me there and I just realized why!” I said.
It’s true. Here I was, 49 years old and I was just realizing in sudden stark clarity why my parents would never ever take me to that particular McDonalds. Here’s the back-story. Once a month they would pay the electric bill, in person, at a big nondescript brick building, in that ugly dirty city with shredded plastic shopping bags caught in the fingers of its scant trees that lined the curb of a roadside with bent parking meters and road trash suffocating what little patch of ‘grass’ remained around each little tree. My mother and I would wait in the car as my father went inside to pay the bill. The McDonalds was across the street. I would ask, “Please, please, please can we go to McDonalds!?”
“You ask the same question every month,” she’d say. We DO NOT go to McDonalds on the same day we pay the electric bill!”
“Why!?” Why would she just be so difficult as to choose to make a rule that McDonalds cannot be eaten on days that electric bills get paid? It was an illogical rule.
The day of my epiphany, I finally realized that if ‘she paid a bill’ she couldn’t afford the food. If only she’d been specific. I have no idea why that popped into my head when it did. It goes to show how specific people have got to be with me… Children in general aren’t “getting” as much as we think they are. And that’s why I’m so impressed with a new generation of young ladies (far far from children) coming up today who are on the spectrum like me. I’m sure they struggled like me (and still do) with sensory, peer, cognitive, and perception issues as well as with things like relationships and friends… I’ve got a double whammy of selective mutism and aspergers and it inhibits me from communicating effectively about issues I’m passionate about- except of course in the written word. My voice is lost in a stranglehold, it seems, when it matters most. At my worst, in my 20s, someone was on fire, and I could not call out. (Don’t worry folks someone else was present and no one was hurt).
Amy Gravino, Erin Clemens Dani Bowman. Have you heard of these young women?
Amy is more than an author, college coach, autism consultant, (quite possibly number one Monkees fan) and enthusiastic home cook. She’s a PUBLIC SPEAKER. I admire her charm and natural ease in front of a group. I listen when she has opinions. She’s informed. She speaks for her generation. I’m proud of her.
Erin is a parent educator who works with children on the spectrum. She makes duct tape jewelry, is an animal advocate and has a published book. And get this: She does radio interviews, presentations and speaking engagements. I highly recommend her.
Who is Dani Bowman? At 11, she started her own animation company called Powerlight. What blows me away personally is her poise in front of a microphone. I believe she’s 18 now. Dani has done anti-bullying books, wrote and voice acted 9 cartoons, a Spongebob Squarepants episode involving anti-bullying, and yes she’s a motivational speaker now! I am just scratching the surface of who she is.
Have you heard Sara Bareilles’ song Brave?
“say what you wanna say
and let the words fall out…”
So I sit back and I smile. There’s something to be said for Von Schelling’s take on architecture. I do see myself as frozen music. Complete with crumbling facade, guardians with hidden purpose (silent; mute), holes, ha-has… so much unexpressed. I do what I can to express my passions in a written way. It’s my best. It is not so easy, to be brave Sara, for some of us Sara to let the words fall out at least aloud. Kudos Amy, Dani, Erin. So I see these young women; and if I am frozen music these ladies ARE the music of the next generation. I am so blessed to see who they are becoming. I wholly support them.
Dani Bowman: http://www.worldartseducation.org/festival/meet-the-artist/dani-bowman/
more on Amy Gravino: http://www.amygravino.com/ascot-coaching-llc.html