Friday, April 30, 2010
One of the differences between an ‘Aspie’ (Asperger) and a non Aspie is that while an Aspie is always expecting everything to go wrong, the rest of us approach the day with the idiotic view that we’ll make a plan and march seamlessly through the day. When something goes wrong for the Aspie, they will say, “That’d be right.” The rest of us bang our heads and say, “I can’t believe this!”
There are some days that sort the ‘sheep from the goats’ to coin a Biblical phrase. Today was one such day.
I woke late. But that’s okay because it was imperative to paint a lorikeet at 1.00 am, everyone knows that. the trouble with waking late is that a significant portion of your cranial matter spends the better part of the day arguing with the other portion of your brain as to whether it is morning, or in fact, not. This deliberation can hinder any other thoughts that you had planned on having for the day. Like what you were going to do after you woke up.
I tried to write a list, but by the time I had found my glasses, pen and paper – the phone rang. It was Carol, the Head Librarian for the Hunter Region (she has several other titles but don’t expect me to remember them). She wanted to know if I had received the email with the book launch invitation so that I could ‘sign off’ on it and she could sent it to the printers. It didn’t show up in my email box and with the worrying memory that one the emails I sent a fortnight ago took a week to arrive I tried to think of another option. Ouch. I had to get to another email inbox asap to receive the message. I thought of my helpful neighbours.
Running over to my neighbours I found that Barrie, the second in charge, was in the same kafuffle as I was. He’d slept late. As a retired bank manager he was less accustomed to this state than a registered nurse who ‘didn’t know night from day’ for all her training years and made a solemn oath never to attempt 'weird hours' again.
While his computer was warming up I phoned Carol to tell her his email address. Then my lapsed brain cells came to life for a brief minute and I remembered that I had a second email address that was set up when I first joined Westnet. I told her this address, if for no other reason than the worry that I was wasting her time. The email arrived and after correcting a typo, I okayed it.
So then I was ready for the rest of the day. Theoretically, that is. I drove to Newcastle and organised a test run of my art work and had a wonderful conversation with the print guy about our mutual rate of decay. He also suffered from back pain so we compared medications and side effects. After working out the details of the artwork and also coming to the conclusion that we would both end up as grumpy paraplegics because we kept doing exactly the things that aggravated our pain, I went to my next appointment.
Just as I got out of the car it rained buckets. I never take an umbrella – I insanely believe that by the time I have put up an umbrella, I could have arrived at my destination. This is quite often justified in downtown Cooranbong, but by the time there was a break in the Newcastle peak hour traffic, I looked like a shaggy drowned rat.
Carol arrived with the launch invitations when I was having lunch and shaking off the chills at Goldbergs in Darby Street. I sunk into the chair in relief, enjoying my hot chocolate. It was so sweet of her to save me the trip to the library. When I finished, I looked up to pack up, and there on the table was Carol’s phone. Arrggh!
It looked expensive, but what did I know. It looked complicated, maybe it was so technologically advanced that it could feed her cat when she was away. I had to get it back to her. At the library.
On the way there I looked at the phone. What would I do if it rang? It might be Carol phoning her number, hoping I had it. The dilemma in my head became real as the phone rang. I answered with my usual “Hello”.
No response. Not Carol then.
“Carol’s phone” I answered, in a slightly more professional voice.
“Um... is anyone there?” I added, wondering what poor soul I had cast into confusion.
A child’s voice mumbled something unintelligible that ended with Jayden. Oh, good, here was something, a name at least. But now I was feeling really daft, walking in the pouring rain, answering the phone of someone I hardly knew, headed to the library without any idea if Carol would be there when I arrived. I gave a comprehensive explanation that I thought was most enlightening and asked, “Did you understand any of that?”
Oh dear, I started again and aimed for simplifying my spiel. Now those who know me will realise what a big ask that is. It takes me four or five drafts to clarify any writing exercises. If anyone has followed this meandering tale without hitting a bump thus far, it would be a miracle.
I tried again, with dubious success.
I then asked, “Is Carol your mum?”
“Right, I am taking your mum’s phone to her at the library and will tell her you rang, is that okay Jayden?”
Then my motherhood instinct kicked in. This kid might be in trouble. Some children weren't like mine who considered the milk getting low to be a catastrophe.
"Are you alright, Jayden?" I asked in my concerned motherly voice.
After arriving at the library my shaggy wet hair had frizzled into an untamed afro. After getting through the library security system I was finally able to reunite Carol with her phone. We had a bit of a giggle over our faux pas for the day.
“Um...Jayden rang," I muttered. "Ah, I answered the phone thinking it might be you. Um...you may need to phone Jayden...or not.” I smiled my best smile. My conversation with Jayden hadn’t been a raging success.
She rolled her eyes and chuckled.
“If your child needs therapy after a conversation with me, I know a really good shrink,” I threw over my shoulder as I headed for the lift with her laughter in the background.
Just down the road I had a flat tyre. I phoned the NRMA and in a calm and authoritative voice gave them my exact location, a description of the problem but sadly gave them the registration number of a car I own several decades ago, instead of the one I was sitting in.
The NRMA guy arrived.
“Heard of Murphy’s Law?” I asked.
“Why yes,” he said, grinning.
“Well, I’m Murphy!”
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
You are invited to attend the launch of Linda Brooks’ latest book on Monday, May 10 at 5.30 pm at Wallsend Library, Bunn St, Wallsend. The book is about living with Asperger’s Syndrome and has a feature chapter by Professor Tony Attwood, Dr John Miller and Dr Steele Fitchett.
I’m not broken
I’m just different
by author, Linda Brooks
is the story of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome
diagnosed at fourteen, after a tumultuous childhood.
It is the story of a mother who wouldn’t give up.
It is the story of the beauty of music,
restoring lost places of the heart,
to a teenager too accustomed to failure.
It is about a red guitar.
It is a journey of discovery, audacity, humour and grace.
It is funny, gutsy, raw and real.
It’s about finding wings to fly.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Once in every lifetime we should all see life through the eyes of a five year old girl, hear her voice and sense the world through the unique vulnerability of childhood.
Georgia hides under the bracken fern. Her mother hits her to make her good. The nice man down the road gives her lollies that make her sleepy. Sometimes, her brother Jackson hides her in the bottom of his wardrobe. Her best friend is Mittens the cat who listens to all her childish secrets.
On her first day at school someone steals her special pencil set. She will be in very big trouble and she is afraid. She runs away to the bracken fern that grows tall by the whispering creek where the bower bird struts with his prize of blue buttons and the magpie feeds her screeching baby. It's her safe place.
Georgia is too young to know that there are other safe places and that what is happening to her is wrong. When her teacher, Miss Nelson, finds her there she is more afraid, until she learns that it is okay to tell. She discovers that there are other safe places and people who will protect her.
Things can get better.