Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My grandmother knows something I do not know

Blanche by Kate Green

My grandmother has lived a long time also. The woman - I feel she that if she had not lived (it's true) that I would not be here. This poem, written by Kate Green for her grandmother touches me deeply inside - deep down where I feel I must touch my grandmother but I cannot reach her. I sit in her apartment. She sits. We watch the children. Oh, I know she loves them and (I imagine she) thinks my grandfather who died even before I was born. I think of my aunt Joan who died as a baby of a brain tumor. She was blind. My mother knew her (she was the oldest child, my mother was.) She cared for her, diapers, bottles, crying, playing but she died a long time ago. I didn't even know about her until I was sixteen or so. I asked, "Who is this infant in this picture? Is it you or Roseann, mom?" My mother told me it was her sister Joan and left it at that. Only later did I pry the painful details from her. I know my grandmother was hurt - who could not be hurt by the loss of a child - a toddler? My grandmother knows her whole life - has seen her parents die, her husband, her brothers and sisters - her youngest sister just weeks ago. She knows something that I do not know and will never know until I too have seen them all die.


As a cancer survivor, I have faced death since writing this poem reaction. My grandmother - we did reach. We touched. She was so very kind. I was home from the hospital for a weekend. I had tubes hanging out of all sorts of places on my chest and belly. I was so thin - less than 100 pounds - I was just trying to make it through August to make it through to my birthday so I could have my transplant. After what seemed an eternity, everyone left the room. Most went outside, I think they were preparing a BBQ meal - hamburgers maybe - my dad's hamburgers were small round balls. My grandma sat in the rocking chair, her back to the bank of windows. I sat on a chair directly in front of her. We held hands. I told her I didn't want to die, but I was ready. I wasn't afraid. I told her I wasn't supposed to die before her. We looked into each others eyes. We cried.

I was with my grandmother when she died a decade later. I had a chance to be alone with her, tell her I loved her and held her hand. She couldn't speak. She was afraid. I saw it in her eyes. Later the nurse said it was time. Grandma's vital signs were waning. Her limbs were becoming cold. We entered her room: my mom and dad, my aunt Roseann, my aunt Maryann and Uncle Tom. I stayed near the end of grandma's bed. I reached out and took hold of her left foot and gave it a squeeze. "We love you." "You can let go now, it's okay." Grandma's breath became irregular and shallow. My dad said, "she is coming in for a soft landing." The heart monitor showed a slowing of action. Grandma took a sudden breath and exhaled. I thought she was gone - we all did - then she gasped again - pulling in air. We were startled. My dad, having seen many people die, was not phased. She did indeed come in for a soft landing. Her slowing heart, her slowing breath and finally, peace.


I have selfishly neglected my blog recently. I have been struggling for 5 weeks with bronchitis. Of course, every time I get sick, I immediately go to the "cancer" place in my mind. It nags at me. I have no energy to do anything but exist. My dear husband asked me to finally get groceries delivered. I couldn't shop. I couldn't walk more than 1/2 a block without being winded. I missed 6 days - unpaid - of work. I have seen the doctor 5 times, taken 100 - 600mg tablets of Mucinex in the month, taken a course of antibiotics that causes tendinitis - because I am allergic to most drug classes. Taken a burst of prednisone, and resorted to using an inhaler to manage breathing. I have nearly stopped drinking diet coke and switched to water - something that surprises me and amuses those who  know me best. I am only now starting to fell a little better. I hope I will continue to improve. There is too much life I want to live to give it up just yet.

I will attempt to continue my regular posting as soon as I am able!

Friday, May 14, 2010

She curses as she gardens...loudly

September 3, 1987

The woman at the bus stop in a lavender dress has a peculiar lump in her middle. I know not whether this lump is stomach or breasts. She rubs the front of the lump meditatively as she looks up the street for the bus. She is anticipating it...it comes. The bus from the other direction comes. Off comes Mary, the hunch backed old woman from three houses down. She curses as she gardens...loudly...but otherwise is a pleasant sort. ianthe follows her down the block and must be called back.

September 6, 1987

Today was ianthe's birthday. She is two years old now. Last night we stayed in Bayport and came home today in time for her nap. While she slept Aja and I baked her a birthday cake - a steel blue cat with orange eyes and a striped tail. ianthe loved the cat cake.

We had pizza for supper and then she opened her presents. Harris picked out a doll (a cabbage patch preemie) and Aja had picked out some My Pretty Pony newborn twins. ianthe loved them both. The doll was named Trista - so this is once again a sign of Harris as being psychic. I just can't believe it.

In Response to Writing Prompt in Class...

When I was a child my mother and father always read to me (and the rest of the kids). The Bumper Book was such a favorite, my grandmother (dad? mom?) taped it on reel to reel with the numbers appropriate to the story listed. My mother read A.A. Milne books to me - all Pooh stories and "When We Were Very Young" and "Now We Are Six". My father read us "I Met a Man" and other scarier books by John Ciardi. Those scary books - the worst was "The Monsters Den" - it haunted me. It wasn't the verses, now that I am old enough to understand them, but the illustrations which were done by Edward Gorey. I sometimes wonder if I also am scaring my children with Gorey's Alphabet book...A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil molested by bears...Probably, but that is what poetry is all about - something parents instill a love for while we are very young and wean us and gently guide us into greater heights.

I am amused by a couple of things in this short entry. I have a short description of Ianthe's birthday - the parts that were "ceremony", e.g. food, cake, presents. Ianthe was only 2 years old. I write that she "liked" the food, cake and presents. I describe the presents. I described the order of the day, the schedule. I left out a horrifying incident. I always leave out the horrors. Maybe I think if I don't write them down, they won't be true - they will fade in my mind. They don't. They never leave me.

When I was making the cake for Ianthe, I got out the hand mixer. When I plugged it in and started mixing the batter - roaches, lots of roaches, fled the inside of the mixer. They ran on my hands, up my arms and fell to the table and floor. I was horrified. They kept coming. I put the mixer in a plastic bag and ran it out to the trash outside. I tried to kill the escaping roaches. I can't get the memory out of my head. The roaches - how they felt on my wrist, my arm. So disgusting. Happy Birthday - Yuck! 

There were no roaches in the cake. I would have thrown it out. I say I made the cake with Aja, I wonder if she helped me frost it after I baked it. I hope she has no memory of it. /shiver

Next amusing thing is my need in my diary to brag about how literate I was. How we had books, books of poetry. I was cool. My parents read me poetry - bet yours didn't. I read poetry to my children - I am so cool. I am much more sensitive to my bragging now than I was a decade ago. I am very uncomfortable about bragging these days - even though I am sure I brag plenty. 

I have to stop. I am embarrassed about admitting about the roaches. That is enough confession for a day. Sorry to have put the visual into your mind...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That was a mistake I made when I was very young - I didn't...

 September 1, 1987

That was a mistake I made when I was very young - I didn't

September 2, 1987

My God I wish I could have at least finished my sentence. What a cryptic. Now my whole life I can imagine what it was that was my mistake. Writing a definition for poetry earlier was so very difficult. How can one define poetry? I've read over some poetry. Poetry makes me feel wonderful. See, even my letters become pretty just thinking of it. I was putting off writing - thinking - about poetry because of my undecided fate as to whether I would get into Poetry at all. Then wondering if I might not enjoy it. Why with all the priggish, pigheaded people pretending to be great poets - OH the Pretention! The girl with the big hat! Oh My God!

Walt Whitman makes my heart sing! Phebe Hanson also and who was that other woman poet writing of her father drunk and abusive?

Poetry looks into my eyes, through my retinas and into my very soul - my being - leaves me bare and naked and in the light. As Camus has said we must look as steadfastly into the dark as we do the light. What is all this insanity shit? I am not more insane than I ever was maybe as Cris has said it is just enlightenment. Why is it then that I know people? Know them through and through? I want to reach people to come to an understanding to learn as much as I can about the human condition before I must follow others to the grave. Is knowledge selfish or wasteful? That is what I want to know the answer to. Look at the way the words flow from my pen onto the page. Where are they coming from anyways? And why is it that my brain waits in anticipation for the words instead of racing away and leaving me in the dust. Ah, this must be a true sign that all is well in my head. Insanity is truly a societal stigma. Label me if you must but I know where I stand.


At this time in my life, I had been receiving therapy from a man in Stillwater. He had agreed to see me for free as long as I stayed away from self-medicating. I think at this time, I must have started smoking pot again. The passage above seems a bit...um...drug induced. When I told Pat (the therapist) that I had started smoking pot again, he was disappointed, well at least that's what he said, and that I couldn't continue seeing him, but if I ever wanted to continue, he would be happy to talk. 

I had met Pat in Stillwater when I was so very frightened of the Cold War. I believed that Reagan was going to send us into mutual nuclear destruction. My babies! I cried for my babies! I wrote nasty letters to the Minnesota State Senators and the Reagan's (Merry Christmas --> and a Happy Nuclear!) and I wrote long letters to the President and board members of Honeywell, which held a contract with the defense department, asking, "How can you sleep at night?" and enclosing ink prints of my children's feet or hands. My fear overwhelmed me. I decided to take out an add in the Stillwater Gazette. A couple of lines - Those interested in creating an Anti-Nuclear group in Stillwater meet at the Library, blah, blah, blah. 

I went to the library at the ascribed time thinking no one would show up. I was surprised when 12 people were there to support me. Pat was among those first members. We met at Pat's house until we overgrew it. The group was a great outlet for my fear. I was able to participate in anti-cold war/anti-nuclear protests. We joined the alliance of anti-nuclear groups based out Minneapolis. We trained ourselves in peaceful demonstration tactics. We staged a "Die In" downtown Stillwater and participated in a larger on at Northrup Hall when the Secretary of Defense had a speaking engagement. Someone stepped on my hand during that protest - I pretended I felt nothing and remained still. 

I know I talked about this group before in an earlier blog. We got some things done. Made some changes. I left after three years or so, when the organization took on a life of its own. The original 12 members were disenfranchised - lol - the group forgot we started it. That happened to the Anime Club at school that I am the advisor for...I know how it feels to have felt "in power" and then to fade into the background. 

I found a post-it note in the front of this journal when I picked it up. It is written in Pat's handwriting. It says, "incidents in which I was not sure how to act as a 25 year old woman". That sounds like an Asperger thing to be confused about. I like how it meshes with this entry, where I brag that I know people. I know them to their core. I just didn't know how I fit in. I was so confused. I received mixed messages from therapists. There were many in my life. I remember that Pat was very interested in the fact that I don't like to get wet. He found that very intriguing - like something he could analyze the crap out of and do me no good. Heck - I just don't like how it feels. 

My husband talks a lot about "air". I never know what he is talking about. He wants the air to circulate in the home. He bought a new fanged computer operated switch-thing that randomly turns the fan on the furnace and pumps the air around the house. Anthony is forever asking me if I notice how nice it is. I don't notice. I don't like air blowing on me. I don't get that air is "stuffy". I do get odors. I am overly sensitive to that. Any small smell will get me up and moving. Where...is...that...smell...?

But air? water? I just don't like them on me. Simple as that. That isn't "crazy" is it? /smile

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lady Rye's Incomplete and Totally Subjective Guide to Aspergians

May 8, 2010

If you met one Aspergian, you have met one Aspergian. We are as different from one another as neurotypical people are from one another. We have been around, always, without a name or label. We are a genetic variant of the human brain. We have some similarities in behavior, but so do Neurotypicals.

We are "on the spectrum". The spectrum includes similar brain structure "disorders": Autism, HFA (High Functioning Autism), PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified - as autism) and Asperger's. There is debate about whether or not Asperger's actually should be included on the spectrum. There is also debate about whether HFA and Asperger's are the same disorder.

Traits seen in Aspergians

Social Understanding
Tony Attwood jokes that he has discovered a simple procedure that will remove almost all the symptoms of a person with Asperger's: put them in a room by themselves. This is funny because, Asperger's is a social impairment.

Social interactions are often exhausting for those of us with Asperger's Disorder. We usually are pretty good conversing one-on-one with another person, but add a third person (or more) and we are quickly overwhelmed. We react in either appearing bored by the conversation or by overwhelming the conversation with our own, refusing to allow others to interrupt our diatribe.

Teasing and Bullying
A person with Asperger's has a higher than expected chance of being the target of a bully, or group of peers. We are more prone to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. We have a hard time understanding why we were the target of bullying and wonder what we could have done to prevent it. Adults with undiagnosed Asperger's tend to repeatedly replay traumatizing events in our minds in an attempt to understand why they were singled out. It is hard to move on - or have closure - when you don't understand why.

Theory of Mind
The term Theory of Mind (ToM) means the ability to recognize and understand the thoughts, beliefs, desires and intentions of other people in order to make sense of their behavior and predict what they are going to do next. ToM is a synonym of Empathy. People with Asperger's Disorder have immature or impaired ToM abilities, but they do not have an impaired sense of EMPATHY. Aspergians care deeply about other people but have difficulty recognizing subtle signals of the emotional states of others.

The Effects of Impaired ToM on Daily life
How do you know what someone is thinking or feeling? One way is to read a face, especially around a person's eyes. People with Asperger's Disorder often have trouble with or avoid eye contact. As adults we know we are supposed to "look people in the eye" when we talk to them - but we get this wrong. Neurotypical people spend more time looking away when speaking and focus in on people's eyes when that person is talking. Aspergians tend to do the opposite - or stare at the eyeballs - instead of the area around the eyes. I have lots of trouble with eye contact. I appear quite normal to my listener I am sure, I look them in the eye when I speak, but then I stare at their mouths when they speak back to me, or I stare off into space when speaking and listening. Both of these behaviors are seemingly normal, but I am missing a lot of social cues. I have made two co-workers cry at two different meetings at school because I wasn't looking at them during a discussion. I also have made countless students cry while critiquing their work. Insensitive? You could say that, but I actually was mystified by each occurrence.

Some people with Asperger's have difficulty with literal interpretation of other people's words. Even though I didn't think I shared this stereotypical Asperger's trait, I have a great example. At the beginning of the school year, during staff development, a new teacher was brought in to our school to start the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Instructional Strategies - the new pet anagram).  Over the summer, she and a group of teachers had come up with a short list of positive statements for the students. We teachers were supposed to post these posters all over our rooms and hallways. They took our school mascot - a Tiger - and made up the catchphrase "Tiger Pride" There was one positive statement that went with each letter of Pride. One of my special interests is cats. I perked up out of my boredom and announced to my table of teachers, "Tigers don't run in groups - they are solitary animals. Lions live in Prides." I kept going on and on about it. Teachers were shushing me, but the teachers closest to me were bemused, but did not attempt to quiet my ranting. I never let it go. I made signs for the first day of school, replacing "Tiger Pride" with "Tiger Streak" and "Tiger Ambush", making similar positive statements with each letter. I made handouts for my class. When the principal stopped by to say hello, I proudly handed her one of my handouts. The next day I was called into her office. She was very upset that I misunderstood the message behind PBIS. I told her she was wrong about that - I understood, but I wasn't going to misinform my students about great cats and their social groupings. Tigers are solitary creatures. The teacher group should have not tried to make a "cute" play on words using the wrong animal grouping...She ordered me to apologize to the PBIS coordinator. In my apology, I told her she was wrong about Tiger Pride...
The Tiger Streak Poster on my classroom door...

People with Asperger's Disorder sometimes miss subtle clues that other people are becoming annoyed with them. Neurotypical people often misinterpret this behavior as a deliberate attempt to be disrespectful or rude.

Due to differences in acquisition nature of ToM abilities in people with Asperger's Disorder, sometimes they can develop a different form of self-consciousness. As we reflect upon our own mental state and the states of others by relying on our intellectual rather than our undeveloped intuitive abilities we become quite reflective. This explicit self-consciousness is similar to that of philosophers. (Frith and Happe 1999)

Being unsure of what others are thinking or feeling can contribute to a general feeling of free floating anxiety. Relying on intellect to process social interactions (such as intellectualizing what is going on if someone is steps away from you while talking to you. Is it because you are standing too close, or maybe they are worried about something else? Then testing and retesting your theories while trying to maintain a normal conversation, etc...) contributes to social exhaustion. People with Asperger's Disorder require a significant amount of cognitive processing to make up for their limited ToM skills. This leads to feeling "peopled out" - over socialized - and the need to pull back and do something solitary in order to regroup one's energy.

Understanding and Expression of Emotions
There is a psychological term to describe another characteristic associated with Asperger's Disorder - Alexithymia - that is the impairment of the ability to identify and describe feeling states. Children and adults with Asperger's Disorder often have a limited vocabulary of words to describe feeling states, especially subtle or complex emotions. We can swing from one emotion to another quite rapidly, without transition periods. I can move quickly from being "calm" to being "irate" to being "manic" in a matter of minutes.

Routines and Special Interests
Routines are characteristics of adults with Asperger's Disorder. Routines can be seen as a coping mechanism that develops in us as we use our intellect to replace what we miss intuitively in our interactions. Routines impose an order and predictability to our life. Surprises are not easily tolerated by those of us with Asperger's Disorder.

Our special interests are ways that we can enjoy ourselves intellectually and the interest itself can make it easier to maintain relationships that revolve around our special area of interest. Special interests fall under a couple categories: Collecting, and acquisition of knowledge or expertise. Collecting is a tendency of children on the autistic spectrum. Adults with Asperger's can accumulate a huge assortment of objects related to an area of interest. Comfort is found in cataloging the collection. If the collection is displayed, an Aspie can create a specific ordering system, and if someone accidentally moves something out of place, they can become quite agitated until order is restored.

Collecting facts about a specific topic or concept  until the person with Asperger's becomes an expert in the area is another way to enjoy a special interest. Often, special interests start when the Aspie is a child, and mature and grow as the intellectual capacity of the child increases. Over time, there can be a progression to multiple interests spanning many different subject areas.

The function of special interests is to overcome anxiety - by being interested in things that cause fear,  a source of pleasure - when the special interest is related to a happy memory, a means to relax - repetitive behaviors can help reduce the feeling of stress and relax, and to occupy time - how else does one spend their time if it is not spent socializing?

Hans Asperger described an unusual profile of language abilities that included problems with conversation skills, the melody - or flow of speech. There are a couple language peculiarities surrounding speech in the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Disorder.

Gilberg and Gilberg (1989) requires three of the following for a diagnosis:
  • delayed speech development
  • Superficially perfect expressive language
  • formal pedantic language
  • odd prosody, peculiar voice characteristics
  • impairment of comprehension including misinterpretations and implied meanings.
Szatmari (1989) recognized these odd speech characteristics and require at least two of the following for diagnosis:
  • abnormalities in inflection
  • talking too much
  • talking too little
  • lack of cohesion to conversation
  • idiosyncratic use of words
  • repetitive patterns of speech.
The DSM-IV briefly refers to language development in their diagnostic criteria, but only to establish that there should be no major delay in language acquisition in Asperger's Disorder.

Aspergians show some subtle abnormalities in speech that include verbosity and abrupt transitions in subjects and oddities in loudness, pitch, intonation, prosody, and rhythm - do you remember my voice before my vocal chord was paralyzed?  I had an unusual Minnesotan accent that bordered upon an Irish brogue...

Even in the clip above, I don't talk as quickly as I did when I was in high school, where I was frequently on the receiving end of some lame joke. Now-a-days, I do not have the exaggerated Minnesota accent - it is much too difficult for me to speak using all those elongated vowel sounds. I still overpower people by volume in conversation if I can - like at a dinner table - but if I am at a loud place, like a restaurant, so I generally tune out of the conversation. This occasionally causes people to think I am annoyed or bored. That isn't the case, usually I am listening and and you should beware, because I am laying in wait for my chance to dominate the conversation the first chance I get!

Cognitive Abilities
Some young children with Asperger's start school with academic abilities above their grade level. They appear at times to easily "crack the code" of reading, spelling or numeracy. In an earlier post I made mention of how I taught myself to read under the Christmas Tree - I "cracked the code" with no help (other than knowing letter sounds). I spell and read well but I am confused by numbers. Standardized testing of IQ shows that individuals with Asperger's Disorder are at or above the normal range.

Recent studies of teens and Adults with Asperger's Disorder show an impaired executive function. This term psychological term "Executive Function" includes:
  • organizational and planning abilities
  • working memory
  • inhibition and impulse control
  • self-reflection and self-monitoring
  • time management and prioritizing
  • understanding complex or abstract concepts
  • using new strategies
This impairment in executive function is apparent in social situations that are stressful. By the age of eight, a neurotypical child is able to use their frontal lobe to inhibit a response and think before deciding what to do or say. In a non-stressful situation, even an Aspie can do that, but throw a little stress into the situation, we can become overwhelmed or confused - then we can react impulsively.

Another thing that is observed in people with Asperger's Disorder is that some can be very good at noticing detail, but appear to have difficulty seeing the whole picture. I talked about this in an earlier blog - how I see the details, and the whole, but not the parts that make the whole. This isn't all bad though. This ability to notice details and notice new connections that are not seen by people who perceive the world through a more conventional viewpoint can be a valued skill set, depending upon your chosen career.

Movement and Coordination
As much as people with Asperger's Disorder have different ways of thinking, they can also have a different way of moving. We often have an idiosyncratic gait that seems to lack grace. We sometimes have trouble knowing where our bodies are in space, which causes us to trip, bump into things or spill things or knock things over.

While some people with Asperger's Disorder are quite clumsy (like me), there are others that have amazing movement skills. These athletes can be quite astonishing - winning national and international championships. Most of these athletes are skilled at sports that can be practiced in solitude, such as swimming, skate and snowboarding, and endurance sports such as marathon running.

Sensory Sensitivity
The previous categories that I have summarized for you involve tendencies that effect an Aspergian's social reasoning, empathy, language, cognitive abilities, but one of the attributes of Asperger's Disorder is clearly identified in autobiographies, or by self-reporting: hyper- or hypo-sensitivity to specific sensory experiences.

The most common sensitivity is to very specific sounds but there can also be sensitivity to tactile experiences, light intensity, the taste and texture of food and specific smells. There can be under- and over-reaction to pain and discomfort. I can't stand when my dog barks - it physically hurts my ears. I can't stand to have grit on my hands - drives me crazy!

Neurotypical people can be as baffled by why some sensations are intolerable to Aspies in the same way that people with Asperger's Disorder are confused why others are not effected in the same way.


I need to attribute most of this "guide" to Tony Attwood's The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. I used his chapter titles and scanned the chapters to get a good summary going. I tried to put examples from my life in here to give it some perspective, but since not all Aspergians are the same, I wouldn't want anyone to get the idea that I was the example of what Asperger's looks like in all adults. Although, I must admit, it is what Asperger's looks like in me.

I hope that by spending nine hours writing this "guide" helps my family to see that Asperger's isn't a big scary boogeyman. I hope that they will forgive me the next time I suggest that our wonderful, dear father might have also shared this variant of brain structure.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Odd Idea Lecture

The Odd Idea Lecture by Alexander Duncan Lowe

To have all the answers doesn't give you direction. For not knowing answers you will only suffer the consequences. So what is there to do? Consequences can be bad and good. Why choose bad consequences for yourself or act when you cannot see the consequences of actions? This is a sideways sort of way of talking about being responsible or not. It is always hard for me to proceed in any happy way from ignorance.

How can one be responsible? Responsible to whom? We do not innately know how to be responsible. We have to learn how. Being responsible takes practice. Usually small responsibilities are the building blocks to greater responsibilities. I think initially, examine yourself and concentrate on being responsible to yourself for learning what is important to do as a human. All of us are dumped into this world without a compass giving direction or a way to chart a course. So start from ground zero - yourself and the predicament you find yourself in. We must do something. Ultimately one can become responsible to self and community.

First we start to examine and change our behavior then later our behavior with others. How do we do this responsibly? It would be great to feel responsible and to be competent in directing self and for functioning properly in this world. If you want help in this then pick the brains of others in how to do this. Do not ignore the wisdom that has been passed down to us from the past. Remember that terrible things have happened time and again in the past. So this takes time and effort to get it right - the way you think the right way should be. But of course, how can you judge whether any of your own ideas are right or not? One has to be flexible in mind to see things from other viewpoints. There is a lot of "yes, you should do this" or "no, you should not do this". It's a cause for rebellion in many a child growing up. It's not the number of times yes or no is said. It's what helps us grow that counts. It helps when parents interpret to their child what mankind has passed down. But parents are busy people also with many needs to fulfill some of them conflicting. There is lots of advice in how people should behave to each other which really work. There are a lot of people to help with this evaluation. There are a lot of conclaves of people of narrow minds who have power over whether we can do this or that and can guarantee we will not succeed.

So one resolves to see things from other viewpoints and chart some course to take. Promises are necessary at the start because one cannot predict the future results. Likewise with failure forgiveness is essential. Since one cannot change any past failure it is sensible to forgive yourself and others for mistakes made. If not forgiven or reconciled, growing and improving is stopped. This is quite certain to happen and is very disabling given the short time we have to get on tract. Strive to grow and learn from all failures and make new promises again and strive again. You have to challenge to your level of growth and look for more growth opportunities. The consequences directing yourself in this way brings the beneficial consequence of life having some meaning. It makes sense to not waste any time. It's a worthy engagement of effort required for a successful responsible life and it brings its rewards. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Abstract? So what is there to strive for?

Why not strive for that which is attainable? What do you want to strive for? I wanted to be happy and happily married. I really wanted this. I mentioned this to Dr. Kamman and he made note of it - Hey it is worth working for I thought! More on Dr. Kamman to come into this to explain myself better. So in high school I wasn't so happy nor did I feel that I would ever be happily married and have those satisfactions of having a good family and community life. I really needed to know about this stuff and enough of myself to know how I could bring it off. Only by knowing this stuff could I strive effectively for such a thing, and in the process learn a lot about life, and enjoy life.

How can you learn about yourself? For me it helped that one of my father's medical school classmates was a psychiatrist and close friend. I had a great faith in the field of psychiatry and Doctor Kamman was that person I could respect and learn from. So in 1947, I requested to go and talk to him. I told my father that I wanted to bring peace and harmony to my family. My step-mother had been having trouble dealing with my sister Mary and my father was busy with doctoring. When I went to Kamman, I had some specific questions about myself that I needed to have answered. Was I crazy? How can you know what the ingredients of a healthy love relationship is? For evaluation, I was given an ink blot test. I really wanted such a test, which I thought I could not be manipulated easily thus trick him. The results were quite revealing to me. We had many candid conversations about what was revealed. I took a new interest in my future. Eventually, I could in my imagination divide up - chart the rest of the time from 1953 to the end of the century. I could imagine myself in medical school (the ink blot test said I wasn't too dumb) and I had married Marlys (as my relationship with her was I believed healthy enough to endure) and then I could see myself in Medical school, graduating, and working as s doctor and also I could see the times that my kids would be born, grow up, and get married. Also the times for my grandchildren to be born and if I continued to live long enough to see some of these fateful decisions being discussed here. I imagined that in the 2000's would be the time for my dying.

From Kamman, I learned how to recognize an idea as odd - not helpful - of those ideas I had. He waylaid me at the appropriate time with an example of such an idea quite odd. He said simply, "Isn't this quite odd that you are going to have your kids read the Wall Street Journal and you don't have any children yet." It was silly to bother to obsess with such a thought. I hope that I can continue with skill enough to keep from being considered a rigid or silly person. I am eternally grateful that others (Marlys, my children, my parents, my patients, Dr. Kamman for 6 years, my teachers, etc.) have challenged my ideas so that I must reflect on how sound they are or not. So good questions to be asked are whether that is an odd way to look at things, is it supported by sound reasoning or not, etc. What is sound reasoning? Do I have odd ideas that I am not aware of? How much have I injured others by my way of looking at the world or by the way I have behaved in this world? I find now the world is such an interesting place to have been dumped into and with people I have been privileged to know.

Can you evaluate your own ideas and choose the odd one from that which is not odd? Have you ever thought you had an odd idea? If you never see any of your own ideas as odd would be quite sad. You would be inflexible if ideas are not examined and if you needed not to be able to change how to view the world. To be thus limited also affects the way responsibilities to self and others are taken on. At issue is your challenge and your response to being alive today.

Of course you live in different times than I did. Technology has changed a lot, jobs are different, opportunities are different because knowledge has exponentially expanded since 1946, making it necessary to manage information on a new level of awareness. Marshall McLuhan wrote many books on changes bought on by changing technologies - past and more recent changes. I lived through this great revolution in growth of knowledge. Since one is obsolete on graduation from school, then life long self education is required to prevent obsolesce which keeps you from all the good jobs. Take note, all the interdisciplinary knowledge being produced today. There is intense activity and many discoveries being made from expansion of knowledge. So expand your horizons to enjoy this new way of looking at our world. But with this comes acting in a responsible way for you and the world to survive.

These revolutionary technological changes are still being studied today. What will happen interconnecting on a global scale more universities and research laboratories. How about what is to happen interconnecting in all the other ways now being considered. We have not even a hint of the scale of changes to come in our lives. These changes affect everyone's future, every creature on earth's future, and deserves your attention. It's time to get cracking. I assume you want to be happy some day. It may take a move to a more enriching environment to learn what you need.


My dad gave me this lecture to proofread before passing it on to another family member. It contains all of his talking points of his "Odd Idea" lecture that was another mainstay lecture - along with the "Nine things for a successful relationship". Yesterday, was my dad's birthday. When people die, they don't really have birthday's anymore, but the ones left behind remember the lost more clearly. My siblings and I, and I believe my mother even more, mourn our father and husband on the day of his birth. We miss the wonderful man that he was. The kind, eccentric man that we called dad.  I thought it would be appropriate to dig out one of his "lectures" from my storage box to honor him. And to bring tears to my family when they read it. Tears of joy, love and loss.

After my diagnosis, I saw Asperger's in my father because of his lack of friends, his inability to know when it was time to leave and I saw it in his special interest in Geology, woodworking and photography. But this lecture. I see Asperger's all over this too, even more evident. I see it in the language. I see it in the questions my father asked as a child. I see evidence of his theoretical mind - similar to mine - where knowledge trumps feelings. I see it in my father's in my insistence on thinking about how others might feel. This was the way he was able to adapt in an NT world. It was the way many Asperger people adapted before there was an official diagnosis for the cluster of behaviors that is called Asperger's. 

Aspergians my age - in our 40s or older, have navigated life well enough without the diagnosis. The diagnosis helps calm the fear inside. I understand and am more aware of my physical responses (feelings) and more aware that my behavior sometimes sets people on edge. My father was always gentle. He grew up during the war (WWII), I have ration books that were his in my storage space. In these times, children respected adults. Did what they were told. Their happiness was not a concern. In an environment like that Aspergians can function pretty good. There are clear cut societal rules that can be followed and you will find success. You don't have to understand the rules - just follow them.

Now-a-days, somehow Americans have taught their children that they are "special". Rules apply to everyone but their children. Their children are spoiled and have no common community held "rules" of behavior. Aspergian children must be much more confused than I was when I grew up. I knew that my "right from wrong" and the punishment I would receive at home was similar to my friend and enemies "right from wrong" and their punishments were the same too. We were much more civil than the world is today. So maybe kids need the Asperger's diagnosis. It will help them to understand the rules of society.

My dad was born May 2, 1930. He spent his entire life in South St. Paul, MN. He was a family Practice doctor and delivered many of mine and my siblings friends. He was a well respected member of the community. He was a true democrat, but he kept his political affiliations quiet and donated money to the republicans when they came calling at the door too. My father married the girl of his dreams, my mother Marlys Calhoun. She was born March 2, 1931 in Minneapolis, MN, where she spent her whole life until she married my father. They had 6 children, and 32 grandchildren. My mother is still living, she is cherished and has 4 great-grandchildren. 

My father died on my daughter's birthday, September 6, 2004. We celebrate her birth and we acknowledge that Grandpa didn't mean to die on her birthday. It was just his time. We loved him. 
Mom and Dad in high school had met at their family lake homes.

Dad and Mom in their golden years.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

You said that I was transparent

"I Am Neither A Sacrilege Or A Privilege. I May Not Be Competent or Excellent, But I Am Present." by Leo Buscaglia
My Happiness is me, not you.
Not only because you may be temporary,
But also because you want me to be what I am not.
I cannot be happy when I change
Merely to satisfy your selfishness.
Nor can I feel content when you criticize me for not
thinking your thoughts,
Or for seeing like you do.
You call me a rebel.
And yet each time I have rejected your beliefs
You have rebelled against mine.
I do not try to mold your mind.
I know you are trying hard enough to be just you.
And I cannot allow you to tell me what to be -
For I am concentrating on being me.
You said that I was transparent
And easily forgotten.
But why then did you try to use my lifetime,
To prove to yourself who you are?

Thomas Merton

You cannot tell me who I am, and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?

Chinese Poetry from the Beginning Through the Sixth Century
Trying the Empty Nothing and demanding something.
Banging the Silent Zero in search of sound.


I have books full of quotes from books. In the last decade, I have taken to folding several sheets of 17 x 11 inch paper and using that are a note book of sorts. I copy all sorts of things. I copy things that make me understand myself, things that explain theories I have, things that I find beautiful.

Before the interwebz, I watched "Wings of Desire" with the subtitles on. I paused the video tape each time the dialog shifted and I transcribed the dialog. Even though I am a poly-atheist doesn't mean that I cannot see beauty and the profundity of the human condition. My hand written notes are a sight to be seen. They are a thing of beauty. 

My handwritten notes proving gods do not exist.

I have been very sick for the last two weeks. When I am sick, I have a hard time continuing to do the things I normally do in a day. I have given up housework, making food, leaving the house unless necessary. My blog has suffered by lack of reflection on my entries. Please stick with me as I get better.