Saturday, July 20, 2013

*Are You There "God"? It's Me, "Weirdo".

I had met the famed “God” once, in a roundabout sort of way, when I was about six years old. Behind our apartment complex on Juniper Street, and about fifty yards from the enclosure in which all the children in the neighborhood would study a colorful assortment of porno magazines, was a quiet medical building, which contained within it a circular courtyard with a tree in the center and wooden benches that circled the tree. It was a hidden sanctuary, one of the first to be called my secret place. Vibrant flowers surrounded the lonely, prosaic, brown and white building and I had picked the most beautiful one—its colors resembled a deep amber sunset. I set my gift on the bench and spoke to Him. 

“God, if you’we weally weal, this flowo is fo you. I pwomise I won’t tell anyone I saw you if you take this flowo fwom me. Wheweva you awe, just please appeaw. I just want to see what you look like because I need to see you in my head when I pway and wight now it’s weally hawd. I can’t see you and I don’t believe the dwawings of you; I think people awe just guessing what you look like but I weally need to know. Sometimes I see you as a big face with a white beawd and utho times you look like Jesus with long bwown haiw and it’s just too confusing. Please, please, please come and sit with me. Please.”

I waited and waited. Looked around, kicked leaves, broke up a couple of dirt clots with my hands, sat on the bench and swung my legs. 

Darn it. No God. 

Mum had a way of getting us kids in the house, and quick, with a construction worker’s type whistle, two fingers in her mouth and everyone in the neighborhood knew it was dinner time in Apartment 10. I heard the familiar call and was disappointed that despite my plea and generous gift, God never showed. 

“OK, I know you’we busy, God. I undostand. I’m gonna go eat dinno and I’ll come back and see if you’we hewe. If the flowo is gone, I’ll know you took it, but I’d weally watho see you. I pwomise I’ll nevo tell anyone, even my mum, unless, of couwse you want me to. I pwomise. I just weally need to see you. Please, please be hewe when I get back.” 

After the usual wholesome Hamburger Helper, iceberg lettuce salad, and slice of American cheese cut into four pieces and placed on the plate ever so artistically, I returned to the barren bench only to find that the beautiful flower was still there, only now limp, lifeless, and wilted. I was at first saddened by God’s apparent neglect, then was faced with the thought that I might have uncovered a paramount truth: God was, in fact, only a myth. But slightly hesitant to give up all hope entirely, I stared at it for several minutes, then suddenly recalled a conversation I had recently with Frank about what happens to people when they die. Then it came to me: God dutifully took the soul from the flower and left the body. 


I gasped, and somewhat satisfied with God’s cryptic, brilliant response, I looked up into the sky, smiled at Him, then buried the limp remains under a bit of loose dirt in a nearby flowerbed, skipping home before dark.

Excerpt from chapter twenty-one | shambala | Everything's Hunky Dory: A Memoir

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Glass Walls & Recurring Nightmares

Photo found at
Whilst innocently scrolling my Facebook newsfeed today, I came across a cute video of a tiny Pomeranian puppy howling in response to hearing a wolf. I'd seen it before but who could resist? I clicked on the link, and straight away an advertisement played featuring none other than Sir Paul McCartney. Normally, I'd hit "skip" the moment the option was available, but since a beloved Beatle was involved, I stayed glued. 

Sir Paul went on to recite one of his most famous quotes, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." I was not appalled, as some might perhaps be, because I, in fact, ceased eating meat of all kinds in 2007. I stopped, not only for the health and well-being of the animals, but also for my own.

Dark, pixelated, undercover footage clips of slaughterhouses began to play. I'd seen some of this abhorrent behind-the-scenes footage before, so I just assumed hang on until the subject of this advertisement became clear. "Glass Walls" briefly appears on the screen. Oh, looks like this might be a documentary. I love documentaries. 

I'm intrigued.

He then began talking about chickens and turkeys. Mind you, I'd just come in from cleaning up after and feeding my own pet hens, Lucy and Ethel. Lucy and Ethel have incredible personalities, following me around like puppies, playing with my feet, and getting so excited when I give them special treats they make little happy sounds (I have no other words to describe the sounds other than 'happy'). They bring me joy. As I'm thinking about how much I love my little feathered girls, I see a man in a sweatshirt saying, "They're hard to kill sometimes" and he stomps on a turkey's head twice with his boot, then, when he see's it's still alive, violently grabs its head and begins to twist it around until it eventually snaps. I closed the tab immediately and began to sob for at least twenty minutes. 

At least for the turkey it was over.

My three dogs instantly surrounded me, my Great Dane Audrey lay her head in my lap and I held her head in my arms, tears dripping down onto her long neck. She was also once severely abused, but lived, and I rescued her. She's since rescued me, countless times.

Absolute devastation. It was just too, too much. 

And no, no. I'm not that girl that goes around sobbing when the sun comes up, when the moon is full, when my dog eats chicken poop. Again. (Well, maybe that last bit.) Hey Paul, I love you dearly (mean it!), but this image was frankly too much for me to handle physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  

And just a few hours earlier, also whilst innocently scrolling my Facebook Newsfeed, a graphic image appeared showing a German Shepherd Dog that had been tied to a motorcycle and dragged. Its bones were exposed. This was also far too much. I didn't ask for it, nor did I click on it—it was just there, at the top of my Newsfeed. That, and Sir Paul's message, though incredibly truthful and real, took me straight into sensitive meltdown mode, into the tunnel of darkness. 

Visual Thinking: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Visual thinking certainly isn't isolated to those on the autism spectrum, but I do attribute mine to my own AS diagnosis. Thinking in pictures can come in quite handy as I'm able to build and draw and visualize things clearly, as a gallery in my mind. I'm able to see the most minute of details, and see color quite vividly. How it works for me is this: in a conversation, you may reference a giraffe; I instantly see every giraffe I've ever encountered, similar to google images, until I 'land' on the one that matches the discussion (which is where my eyes are going when not briefly meeting yours). Every experience, photo, video, and film I've ever seen has been memorized and saved, forever, in my ever-loving cerebral hard drive. Forever. Startling images like that of the dog being dragged by the motorcycle or the turkey being brutally murdered become perseverant thought movies of sorts, playing on a loop. They never go away. It takes time and hard work to simply put them away in a folder on my brain's desktop. 

It can take weeks, or even months (honestly, in some cases, years) of filling my hard drive with new things by reading new books, seeing new images, having new experiences, just to have them put away for the moment . . . at least until another of these frightening, gut wrenching images comes along. Then the folder is once again opened and there they are, all on exhibit. Unfortunately, these "protected" files can never be deleted. If only Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind were a viable scenario . . .

Now, please don't get me wrong. I'm not one to hide from the truth. I want the truth out there. I'm, actually, rather obsessed with the truth. I passionately want people to know what goes on behind closed doors, in the dark, hidden behind pretty colors, cartoons, and false advertisements. Knowing creates freedom. Hello—I just confessed to sobbing for nearly twenty minutes over a video image. That's why I wrote my memoir. I don't hide the sexual abuse or the drug abuse or the humiliating personal moments. However, I realized today that sometimes the truth can be too much—for me. 

Am I just too sensitive?

As much as I'd like to be able to 'ban' those types of images and videos, Sir Paul is 100% right. He's right to expose the truth. We need to see it. He's narrated a documentary, titled Glass Walls (warning: this link takes you to the full 13 minute video), and I'm glad he did. We should know what we're voting for with our dollars, what we are putting in our bodies, what we are supporting by our actions or inaction. I applaud his efforts.

Now what?

I think, personally, I should stay away from Facebook for a bit. Maybe I'll just remove serial posters of the sort from my feed altogether. I'm curious to hear what others think about these types of images. Yay or nay? Perhaps there are solutions, suggestions, or supportive camaraderie out in the world for sensitive truth lovers, such as myself (and you?).