Sunday, April 28, 2013

Guest Blog: Falling in Love for the First Time on the Autism Spectrum

Hello friends! Would like to introduce you to my new friend, Arman Khodaei. Like me, he’s also on the Autism spectrum, and I’m super grateful and honored to have him as a guest blogger today. He’s taking part in an incredible documentary dealing with love relationships and autism, which I am in support of, and encourage you to check it out as well. I’ll let him tell you about it . . .
.  .  .
My name is Arman Khodaei and like Brandy, I am on the autism spectrum. It is a real honor to be a part of her blog today. I run a program called Empower Autism Now, and I am a part of a documentary called Autism in Love. Like Brandy, I also have my own blog that you can check out.
Growing up, I never understood my feelings for girls. I was already quite shy, and I often played by myself. I felt having a crush on someone was wrong and immoral. I worried that if my mom found out that I liked a girl that I would get a severe punishment such as being grounded until I was 18. Why did I have such fears and worries as a child? I honestly have no idea.
In the fifth grade was when I developed my first major crush. Before then, there were a few girls here and there that I thought were cute, but I did not emotionally feel anything towards them. Then, I met this one girl in my class. Instantly, I felt an attraction towards her. She lived on a farm and loved her pet llama very much. She also had many cats, and I loved cats, so that was a common interest we had.
To try and communicate with this girl, I would act like a cat towards her. I would meow at her and paw her, and one day she even brought a ball of yarn for me to play with. I was her kitty. At least, for a few days until my classmates became suspicious of the way I acted towards her. My reaction, of course, was to deny that I had feelings for her. I told her friend that we were just friends, and after that incident, I did not interact with her as much. Instead, I became the class kitty and acted like a cat towards everyone.
As a result, I got a cat on the last day of school from my classmates. However, my crush and I never ended up together.
As the years went by, I found it challenging to admit that I liked other girls. For some reason, I did not want to like them. I still had some sort of weird, irrational fear blocking me. In middle and high school, I had many crushes. I don’t think I liked any of those girls the same way as the girl from the fifth grade, but I did develop feelings. And, I even had a girlfriend briefly in the tenth grade. She was my first kiss. When she broke up with me, I really did not care, and my feelings weren’t hurt at all.
Now as an adult, I have had a couple more girlfriends. I even had my heart broken once. That was almost five years ago. Now, I am searching for that one special person, but with a twist. Now, I am part of a documentary called Autism in Love. So, as I continue my search, all my interactions are being filmed. I hope I do find her because like everyone else, I would love to see a movie with a happy ending, and since this movie is about something so personal to me, well, I guess you can see where I’m coming from.
Already, a few months’ worth of footage has been filmed. But, the film will struggle to be completed without your help. The film team has started a Kickstarter campaign. Less than week remains to raise funds to reach their goal of $100,000. They have a long way to go, but with all our help, I know they can reach it. Please share this blog post and
Kickstarter campaign and donate, if you can. With your help, this documentary will get made.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Feces vs. Fekes & Where Are The Female Scientists?

I received my first science textbook in the fifth grade—Mr. Lane's class (I had a very inappropriate secret crush on him, and was crushed by the news of his marriage, but we can discuss that at a later date). The school I attended was rather financially challenged, so before the fifth grade, our textbooks had to be kept in the classroom as we'd have to share them with other students. I had never really been interested in those books though. But science. Holy smokes!
"I can take this home?" I asked overly enthusiastically, whilst the sneers of my classmates could have cut me like a knife.
I read the entire book in one night. I had zero interest in joining my family for dinner as I was so engrossed, learning about chlorophyll, arthropods, and the real name for poop (feces-which I embarrassingly pronounced 'fekes' since I'd never heard it spoken; a common problem among autodidacts). Yet, I continued to be encouraged to be a court reporter or office secretary. My entire f'ing life. And I wasted a lot of time in offices, behind desks, answering phones.
I am on the autism spectrum (didn't know that until 2010) so I am not at all a social creature, nor am I tolerant of noise (unless I am in control of it-then blast away!). So the sharp typing of keys, constant chattering, and ringing phones my mother dealt with at her office would drive me to hide in a coat closet with a book and a flashlight, or in the warehouse to study the functions of the machines.
I wish I’d had the encouragement to pursue my passion in science as a child. It made me come alive like nothing else. I am still fascinated by it, especially science of the brain, and of plants, and how similar everything really is when broken down. And believe if I'd had the encouragement as a little one, I'd be a scientist today. We must get behind these young girls! (And support any child, boy or girl, in pursuing their passions, not our own!) 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Paddle Ball With Mum

Why the paddle ball cover art?
“Our relationship became a game of paddle ball—I was the flat paddle, holding still, hoping to connect; she was the red bouncing ball avoiding contact with every sporadic movement, yet attached by an elastic string known as motherhood.”
The type (Zipper) is the same used on the album cover for David Bowie's Hunky Dory, appropriately.

Excerpt from chapter fifteen | changes | EVERYTHING'S HUNKY DORY: A MEMOIR

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

*Mr. T & Other Non-traditions

Brother Tony & me, with a neighborhood photobomber.

“Miiiiista T!”
Tony and I, arms outstretched stiffly to our sides, jumped down the last few stairs into the living room, shouting the theme song of the early 1980s ‘Mister T’ animated series in unison. Mum was in the kitchen washing dishes. As we stood there with highest anticipation, frozen in perfect “T” position, she dropped the cup she’d been washing into the water filled sink and ran after us, with bubbles covering her arms and hands, laughing hysterically. We wiggled and giggled uncontrollably, and ran back up the stairs to avoid the impending tickle fest, only to return again, two minutes later, with the same routine. However unconventional, this had become our favorite game.
Traditional we were not, and I loved that about Mum. Other kids were sitting with their parents playing charades or even Monopoly, but we were creating make believe worlds under blankets, singing and dancing along to The Beatles’ Abbey Road and of course, playing the wonderful game we created called “Mister T.” I’d read all of the cards in the Trivial Pursuit and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not games, anyhow, which made me no fun to play with, apparently. 

Excerpt from chapter fourteen | name of the game | Everything’s Hunky Dory: A Memoir

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

*Bed Sheets, Peggy, and Irish Singers

I hate Enya. There's nothing relaxing about attempting to decipher indecipherable lyrics whilst lying naked with a measly three-hundred thread count bed sheet between you and a complete stranger. It was stressful enough to strip off all my clothes, not knowing who or what to expect for my first massage experience. . .

The massage therapist was interesting, to say the least. I silently gave her the name ‘Peggy Roughskin’ due to her leathery complexion, bright pink lipstick, and thick, familiar aroma of aged cigarette smoke on her polyester pants—I find women donning the name “Peggy” usually resemble this description to some degree.

(Excerpts from chapter twenty-four | mama told me (not to come). Everything's Hunky Dory: A Memoir