The Life Autistic: How to Get Expelled from Preschool

Support-PDX-flickr-1.jpg

Yes, I was expelled from preschool, of all places.

On what grounds? Embezzlement? Racketeering? Insider trading? I only wish I were that cool.

People like me don’t exactly “fit in.”

By age 3, I’d learned all the countries, capitals, and flags of the world (not an exaggeration, apparently), so that left me little time or space to learn a thing or two about interacting with others. Sharing. Sitting. Cooperating. Conforming to norms. Slowing things down. Listening.

Structured spaces, homogenous places, new faces – those were all well and good, I suppose. But it was a far more subtle thing that did me in.

My problem – I looked normal.

Hear me out:

Let’s say a pre-school classmate rolls in on a wheelchair. Without thinking, you’ll hold a door longer, you’ll be conscious of standing when speaking to him, and you’ll be considerate of his difference. It’s human nature.

It’s an “accommodating reaction.”

But say this kid looks like he could be your able-bodied sibling.

Only she . . . never looks at you when speaking.

Or he won’t pay attention to you unless he arranges his desk objects —just so—-and only then do you enter the picture.

I’m not out to blame anyone, so I definitely don’t blame that preschool for having almost no clue about a regular-looking dude like me.

I slipped in under any accommodating reaction because it’s hard to “see” autism.

I didn’t sit as still as the others, if I sat at all. I wasn’t much for listening when people called for me; can’t say I’d learned to crawl out of my little world yet.

I was bored. Bored. Unchallenged. Agitated.

While they were teaching colors and shapes, I was reading. Reading words in books. I couldn’t bring myself to sandbag myself to get to everyone else’s level.

That wasn’t what a normal-looking kid was supposed to act like.

It’s hard to slow myself down.

To this day, I still struggle to behave in similar situations. It’s bitten me more times than I can count, and I’m only slowly getting experience in chilling out and saving the rocket fuel for later instead of getting frustrated about not using it.

Nowadays, the preschool kickout makes for a funny anecdote. Looking back, it’s a bit ridiculous.

But it was my first foray into an important life lesson: you’re either playing along, or you’re playing elsewhere.

Advertisements

Goodbye, Writing All Wrong. Hello, [something totally new].

After many long years under the Writing All Wrong tent, I’ve decided to move on from the moniker, theme, and writing critic brand.

I enjoyed the experiment, but it was a niche voice in a drowning void.

There’s another story I’d rather tell.

It’s more personal. Profound.

Frankly, I’m a bit apprehensive. But it’s a compelling narrative for an audience that might be waiting.

It’s a story in which there are too few storytellers.

So I’ll be telling mine.

Stay tuned.

 

The Seas are Nothing

1280px-Sunrise_after_storm_over_the_Solent.jpg

The seas are nothing but exigent provokers of wrath. Immense. Powerful. Suggestive of endlessness. Insanity. Depths invisible. Breadth encompassing. Calm only in the fleeting erasure of the serenity scarce remembered.

It beats back, and there you have waves. Nothing else impressed but the mist, maybe the sky. There’s vengeance somewhere, perhaps in the air, or indwelled within impetuous spirit, soul hollowed.

Its emptiness would only beget the kind of tindering rage better befit for shivering land, not squelched within shower upon shower upon hour upon spittle upon spite.

Conspiring clouds, yes, they’ll cackle too. Mock you, even. Clapping you awake. Fogging over joy. Numbing the vista. Warping the distance.

The seas are nothing.

Your ship is everything.

 

 

Contending with the Edge of Time

I once walked across an infinite sand, made with the grains of stars at great distance. They shone beneath as I tread lightly, even the slightest footfalls depressing the folds of time.

In confusion I circumnavigated what should have been amorphous. Peering beyond the periphery, I found mutable columns, monuments beyond creation, ephemera of eternity, commingled with the banal gems of life.

Outer-space-in-greyscale-black-and-white.jpg

Those diadems and faces shone with facets of the real in a sea of unreal, many fathoms beyond depth or understanding. My voice had long carried into the nothing, beginning from the less than nothing – it was not heard. I may have cried out, or muttered amidst the scape: I couldn’t tell.

And it couldn’t tell me, no reply to any beckoned question. I pried at the edges of this capsuled infinity, worlds within worlds, eras lived and died, the labyrinthine stories written and unwritten with each yes, no, maybe, so. Whatever glimmer most caught my eye would soon shy away, like the passing glint of a monarch’s wing. There were some I would have hoped to chase. All little flashes blinding, many strobing, the rare few alight if but for a languorous second.

I stepped back, welling with some fury. Then I too flashed, catching that sidelong gleam across this edge of time. I, too, was the coursing thread of light, my distance gone and tome completed, being chosen and longed for by many of myself who also traipsed time and space in those alternalities of choice.

Continuing the Craft

I remember my dad’s dad, Pop, watching me cut a steak, shaking his head in dismay. “The hands,” he lamented. “You don’t have the hands.” 

It’s a forgivable sentiment. Pop’s a blacksmith, a craftsman, an artist of the oldest tack. I was born lefty, forcibly converted righty, as dextrous as I was sinister — neither quite great, as my steak cutting showed.

Then I recall my own dad, planning the future. “Well, after mom retires, we’re going to move to Virginia. I think I’ll try my hand at blacksmithing and carrying on Pop’s business.” Didn’t quite end up like that.

I’d have hated to have seen the fires of Pop’s forge die down for good. But instead, it’s continuing on in a new light, with a new flame, one I didn’t quite expect:

13325562_10208686641257510_4975146994149883529_n.jpg

Continue reading “Continuing the Craft”

What’s Next After Sriracha?

Do tell: since when did Sriracha become a popular flavor?

In my school days, Sriracha was an uncommon currency. You could only get it from Asian grocers or from one of the many Indonesian students. We had it for dorm room ramen (which was against the rules at our college, I kid you not), chicken tenders, and Hungry Howie’s pizza. It felt like we’d shared a best-kept, lesser-known secret. Hipsters didn’t exist back then, so don’t even start.

Now? Far from the oblique status it once enjoyed, Sriracha is everywhere. In your chips. Your ranch dressings. Your OREOs.

Sriracha_Hot_Sauce_Bottles_Freshii_Restaurant_Family_Dinner_Downtown_Grand_Rapids_June_27,_2014_1_(14552677466)

Pictured: Not hipster Tabasco.


But rather than decry the outing of a great, mid-2000s flavor secret, I think it’s cause for celebration. Every decade brings new flavors to the forefront, and I’m excited for what’s next:

Continue reading “What’s Next After Sriracha?”