I didn’t get much sleep last night. My dog has a malady that makes her rambunctious during the night, and she was keeping everyone up…

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This is an old picture-I’ve gotten a brand new couch since then. Anyway, I absolutely need restorative sleep (we all do) because I can get into a funk. As it is, those who are autistic (as stated in a 2014 Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) have ”biological abnormalities in the timing of melatonin secretion” (a neurohormone which regulates the sleep-wake cycle). So there’s that contributing to the need for sleep. But also, a low-cognitive day is not good for anyone! Other things that affect my cognition are stress and sickness. Here’s an example of what sleep deprivation can do to me; from a few years back. Or maybe, I was not sleep deprived at all, it’s possible my brain just processes things in such a way that it is not unlike having an electrical “short” somewhere-at times.

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A Cable TV technician came to the house to hook me up to a new Provider. He had an accent, although I couldn’t place what it was. I should not have had trouble communicating with him. It was 2006 and my spouse had been gone a year by that time. He’d lost his speech because the muscle that controlled the vocal cords was too weak to function. Because of the ALS, he would form words but his speech needed a large amount of deciphering and I was good at it, even in a sleep-deprived state! But… when the cable guy came, here’s how it went-

He finished up with getting my internet up and running; there were snipped wires and remnants everywhere as he hadn’t cleaned up yet, and he had a paper in his hand he’d retrieved from the truck. This is what I heard him say (I didn’t know what the middle vowel was, I assumed it was an ‘a’). I couldn’t “surmise” or “guess” or pick up through “inferrence” what he was asking me:

He said, “I need a p_n.”

So I went into the kitchen and came back with a pan.

“Oh no no…I mean, no I don’t need a frying pan,” he says.

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Hmmm. He probably needed a hard surface to write on which is why he asked for a pan, right? But a frying pan is awkward to put the paper on while he writes. So I go back in the kitchen thinking OH! He wants a deeper pan, that’s it, to put the pieces of cable wire into- that he cut up. I turned back around and I asked, “How about a baking dish, then?” They were deeper and could hold the snipped wires, I figured.

He looked at me with a look I couldn’t define and said, “No… so many people they think I say frying p_n when I ask for a p_n. Not just you. No I mean to write.” So he makes a writing motion like sign language, with his hand.

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Ahhhh just as I thought, I think. He DOES want a hard surface to write on. I handed him a magazine. A home decorating magazine, to be precise. Smiling. Proud of myself.

“Will this do?” I asked.

But he just looked perplexed. Suddenly he said with pronounced articulation slowly, “I need a p_n to write.” I STILL don’t decipher his middle vowel. But at last….

a frying pan,

a baking dish,

and a magazine later –

Ta-Da

I start my search for a PEN! Puzzle solved.

That was in 2006 (I wrote it all down and just today I found the notes in an old PC file titled “Frying Pan to Pen”). 2006 was a busy year for me, as my jottings reveal and Keri plays a part in that year… Notably, 2006 was the year I met and had dinner in Hartford with Keri Bower, who (with her sons Taylor and Jace did the docu-films The Sandwich Kid and Normal People Scare Me, and more recently Normal People Scare Me, Too.) She is also founder of The Art of Autism. Debbie Muzikar is the awesome co-founder. Since 2006, I have seen Art of Autism grow so much. It transforms lives. Back then, Keri was filming for ARTS. My peer Brendan, fellow artist (talented, vocal, witty and far more extroverted than me) went to the dinner as well. The two of us were interviewed later at the Small Space Gallery in New Haven for Keri’s film  ARTS. At the dinner, Taylor ordered a dessert sampler and shared it with everyone.

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After the restaurant, we saw a screening of the 2 films I mentioned here and Keri and Taylor (who is autistic, over six feet tall, and has a winning easy smile and curly blonde wayward hair) gave a speech. They are from West Hollywood, California and had come a long way to film us in Connecticut. ARTS’ message was to focus on ARTS and ability, entrepreneurship of autistic people, focusing on skills, in this case the arts. Keri heard of my former miming stint and encouraged me to dabble more along those lines. I haven’t! It’s on my to-do list.

My peer’s interview and mine were day and night/ black and white/ oil and water. We gave different interviews. I asked everyone to leave the room for my one-on-one with Keri. My interview was as intimate and personal as Brendan’s was witty and dry. Note: I have never sat through ARTS without watching my interview through laced fingers… That was a low-cognitive day for sure. I was having problems at home with personal relationships. My woodcarving instructor at the time picked up on this.

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My stooped man carving…During a carving session, my instructor shared something his father used to say to him in Hungarian. My instructor had a thick Hungarian accent himself (and I understood every word). His father used to tell him,

“When you are wrong, pull your tail in, but when you are right-tip over the table!”

It’s 2006, I’m doing rewarding things like painting murals, receiving carving instruction from a true artisan and great storyteller, but I’m newly widowed with three children and coping with day-to-day things alone. I ended up telling Keri in that interview (which didn’t go into the film) that sometimes autistic people are called crazy and childlike. This was weighing heavy on me and she turned off the camera, was near tears and told me personal things about herself. Her son Taylor said earlier:

‘your audience cannot hear you unless you are vulnerable.’

I was. I still am, but nowadays I know when to tip over tables (not literally) 🙂 I’ve learned to go after what you want without focusing on outcome, even if you think you won’t get it. There are going to be people who are respectful, patient and understanding of certain so-called deficits, and those folks who are not; don’t matter. Under the file titled “Frying Pan to Pen” I also found this tidbit circa 2006:

A revised General Chaos Update.

I like that title. It infers that There is an actual bonafide general, and that the said General, has the implied job of generals: control over chaos. I tell you this; there is no control over THIS chaos update. In the 50s, the first tenants in this house put newspaper on the cellar walls as a folksy wallpaper decoration. Cute then, and interesting when you do laundry and read ads about the prices of houses back then and movie reviews for Elvis and Marilyn. Not so interesting after flooding and peeling and black mold and testing reveals aspergillus, stracybotrys, candida, and chaetomium to name a few…growing on and behind the newspaper-wallpaper glued to the cellar walls.

Mold likes a damp cellulose environment. Like my lungs? Or sinus? The air ducts of my house? Which haven’t been cleaned in 17 years…My poor house’s respiratory system. So I relocated the pets. Took my daughter and myself up two and a half hrs. away to green Mountained Vermont to stay with my father while some strong Enviro-men moved my washer, dryer, and lawn mower into a storage shed and shocked my basement with mold killing solvents. Now I have returned. Been home a week.

ALL my stuff was put in a dumpster by my own muscles and that of my son.

How times have changed. I’m mold-free, busier than ever in my software job, lucky enough to work with folks who really are patient, a wealth of knowledge when I ask questions, and overall-very kind and flexible people (many who are autistic themselves) who are becoming something akin to friends.

But chaos does override most of our lives. I was feeling especially down about the way the president keeps tacking on nicknames to people: like the word Crooked, for example, in hopes that the masses will catch on and start using the term.

I was thinking, “Name-calling is immature, and juvenile, and I hold my President to a higher standard than common name-calling…”

An author I like, posted on Twitter this simple question: “So how are you all doing today?” I answered like this:

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Within a short period of time, she replied to me:

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What a message. What a gift. A few days ago, my friend Keri Bower called me and we chatted almost an hour. She told me the exact same message. I love synchronicity.

Here is a FB post that came up recently as a Facebook flashback memory. My grandson Jaden was about five yrs. old when he said this:

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That keeps life in perspective for me. Yesterday my son played guitar, and three kids gathered round him, enthralled, a simple pleasure. I’m going to go and do what I do on the weekend. Do click over to this Art of Autism Blog- I relate to Pam, the more you look, the more you see- enjoy! https://the-art-of-autism.com/seventy-five-years-looking-for-answers/

Under The Banana Moon (living, loving, loss and aspergers/selective mutism) available here for purchase at this Amazon link: Amazon

Website for Under The Banana Moon HERE at this link. 

Drop me some feedback, especially if you’ve read my book. I’m working on the next one and it’s been slow going. I need the motivation!

K!m