Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Random Late Summer Interactions


Bus stop story

Two women I don't usually get to talk to, I enjoyed talking to very much today while waiting for the 10 min late bus. D + D.

Her "Do you know how to get the bus to DHS? It's by the airport."
Me "Sure, take the #5"
Her "Wow, that was quick. Can you pick it up here?"
"No, you have to go to Elm St. Do you know where that is?"
"Yes. Which bus do you take to get there? The 1?"
"Yes, the 1 or the 8 , the 8 goes right from the hospital, but (pros + cons of each). "
"Do you need a transfer?"
"Yup. I can give you their phone # if you want too, I memorized it years ago. *Gives number* They're open to 7."
"Wow. Look at you! You know so much! Thank you, you just made my day!"

Wow, would I love to work at an information desk. It'd be so much fun!

Then this evening when I got out from the library, I heard the tail end of a man helping a woman who didn't seem like she was from here get a cab. I asked her where she was going. She wanted the PTC. I told her
"There will be a bus going there from here literally any minute, I'm taking it." She was so happy she didn't have to call a cab + thanked me profusely!

Then same woman from before told me her husband rescues seals in Biddeford pretty much every weekend, which is super cool, and I told her it got my seal of approval. She laughed so hard. I think I just sealed my future in their eyes. =) Both she and her friend told me how funny I was and how I brought them joy, at least today I guess. They had asked if there was anything they could do to help me before but 1-5 min before a bus === not really enough time for such a conversation.

"You just made my day, twice!"

Whoever knew construction (which delayed bus giving me time to talk to them) could be so fun? I'm sure it won't be tomorrow when I need to take a different bus, but today it was. What could be better than making someone's day twice esp in such beautiful weather?

Random Canadians 9/4/19

When I got off the bus, and was walking towards Joe's, I was greeted by the sound of some guy saying “Why don’t you ever say hello to me?”
 Always up for a (safe) social adventure as long as it’s within the confines of Monument Sq, I dropped my stuff on the nearest bench and proceeded to tell him that I said hello to everyone who said hello to me, and was it possible that he had never said hello to me before?

“Well, you always seemed in your own world, I didn’t want to intrude.”
“Well, that might be true at times, but if so, it’s probably because I don’t have anyone who seems up for a chat at that time. If you see me, feel free to say hello. One of us has to be first.”

Chatted for bit. Discovered he is from Yellownife, Sasketchewan, Canada? That got my attention! WOW, that’s far away! But even more so, one of my favorite online friends I believe was from there before he sadly passed away few yrs ago. Even more weirdly, I feel like the town(s) might have been the same or very similar. Wouldn’t it have been cool if they knew each other? He mentioned Regina....sounds vaguely familiar? Says he was raised on an Indian reservation there. Left in the 60s. Calls himself Gypsy? Interesting fellow. Someone at hot dog stand said they’d known him for 10 yrs but didn’t seem quite as enthused as me. Novelty will do that to you.

He wanted to know more about my Canadian friends, so I told him; longest conversation about Canada, esp. spontaneous convo, I’ve ever had. We talked about Nova Scotia a lot, and how I thought it would be like Portland only prettier; and how beautiful your art was. He seemed very impressed; he’s into art.

Then I called him a loonie and it took him a surprisingly long time to catch on but he was impressed when he did.
Dollar coin . =)

Just another day in Monument Square. Thank goodness for some novelty occasionally.

So I thought a loonie was a two cent coin, but I was wrong. It's a dollar coin! And a toonie is a two dollar coin. Therefore this joke I just thought of. =)
What is the most popular TV show among Canadian bankers?
Loonie Toones! Lol

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Old essay: In the Most Unlikely of Places

Found this, written 10 yr ago 2009/10, don't want to lose it,
posting it here:
Written about Marion.....Sigh.
Lived there 2009-12.
I miss her so much. 
Wonder if will ever find anyone like her again. 
Oh well.

In the Most Unlikely of Places 

published in the July-August 2010 issue of Autism/Asperger's Digest

I moved back to my home state of Maine three months ago, to a house in the greater Portland area two miles from where I grew up. I had been traveling around the country for the last two years, looking for a place where I fit. I was twenty five and looking to find a place to settle down. I answered an ad on Craigslist for a room to rent, knowing very little about the people I would be living with. I am now living with a 92 year old woman, Madeline. Madeline is still very active and still quite sharp. She can only be described as vibrant, passionate, and animated. I love her for it. I love the emotion in her voice, and the stories she tells. I like how she has an opinion on everything. There is passion and feeling in her voice when she tells her stories, something I feel is missing from most people's communications today.  

A very odd thing happened when I moved in with this woman, though. I started hanging out with her. This might not sound so odd, but consider this. I have never exactly been the kind of person who  can "hang out" with other people. My Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning version of autism, makes me more than a little bit socially inept, and makes it difficult for me to figure out how to make small talk and conversation appear natural. I am socially awkward and have to put a lot of effort into everything I say. It takes a lot of energy to think out what I want to say, and how to say it, and a lot of energy to make things flow. Because of this, conversations can be exhausting for me. I can never just "hang out" - there is too much anxiety involved in not knowing what will come next. So I usually take the "hit and run" approach to conversations - go in for as long as I can stand it, and then leave. 
There's more to it, though. I have a lot of anxiety around people for other reasons. I get very worried about what people are thinking of me. I get worried about people criticizing me. I fear getting into conversations on subjects I am not prepared for. I dread the possibility of getting yelled at. Sometimes I feel like I am always doing something wrong, and the more time I spend with people,  the more chance I will get yelled at for somthing. It makes me nervous, skittish, uncomfortable. I feel often as I can't sit and relax around people because I just know the conversation is going to turn to something I've done wrong. I can get very defensive with people.  

Obviously, this skewed version of thinking makes being around most other people more than a little uncomfortable, and trust is something that has been hard for me to develop. Which is why what happened next surprised me so much. When I met Madeline, it was hard not to be won over by the warm smile on her face; her whole face lit up with the glow of her kindness. It was like turning on a heat lamp; you could bathe in it. And so I did. I found myself spending more and more time with her, sitting in a large, comfortable armchair, across from her, while she watched her TV programs and I read the newspaper. I was drawn to her stories. 

She likes to tell stories about things that happened to her when she was younger, or just give her opinion on the news. It doesn't matter what she says; when I am sitting there, listening to her, talking to her, a kind of forcefield envelopes me.  I feel safe and calm with her. I feel more centered. I like her. I start to spend more and more time sitting with her, until I am spending most of every evening with her and can't imagine what I ever did before she came into my life. We watch old reruns on TV that we both like - "All in the Family" and "Seinfield," mixed in with some newer shows. I rent movies for us, and we both laugh at the escapades of Chance, Sassie and Shadow trying to find their way home in Homeward Bound, or tense in our seats as another blast of fire shoots into the sky in Dante's Peak. I have found an unlikely ally.

At first, I think to myself, what am I doing? I'm sitting in a chair, relaxing and talking with someone. I'm doing everything I thought it wasn't possible to do for years. What is it about her that is allowing me to not only be able to spend this much unstructured time with another person, but actually to make me want to seek it out? I think about it. And I realize the reason I am so afraid to be with most people is because I am afraid of judgement. Madeline doesn't judge me. She doesn't try to change or "fix" me. She's just herself; and in doing so, she allows me to be myself. Madeline wants company and someone to tell her stories to, and when you get right down to it, that's what I want to. At the ages of 25 and 92, born in radically different times with very different backgrounds and life experiences, we both just want what people for all across time have wanted: to be heard, and to be appreciated. It isn't so hard to build a relationship off of that basis. 

It's the simple things that matter. I soak up the emotion and excitement in her voice when she greets me every day. When she turns her attention on me, I feel like she is focusing on me 100%. When she says "How are you?", she really means it. She seems genuinely glad to see me, and this boosts my spirits. Who wouldn't want to be with someone who was glad to see them?

They talk about fancy therapies, psychological theories and models of deficiency, but in the end, you really can change the world with a smile. I don't know what the future holds, and I am all too aware of the problems I still have, but I know one thing: I am beginning to feel what it is like to trust. I am starting to feel the sense of connection that comes from spending time with someone without being afraid of them. And I hope that never changes.  

Friday, April 26, 2019

Opening Week for Mark's Hot Dogs

Posting something I wrote on Facebook here so I have it to remember.

Guess what happened when I was walking downtown today? The flower shop I always pass had a big sign that advertised pussywillows! The employee was outside, so I asked her if it had anything to do with Dyngus Day! She had never heard of it (like every single person I've talked to even those with Polish connections) but was VERY interested to hear about it! I was so tempted to buy one and take it and find someone to swat with it! Lol! The sun finally came out, and I met SO MANY interesting people in one 20-30 minute walk downtown. I told the woman about Dingus Day; then just somehow naturally fell into stride with a guy named Cliff whose energy I seemed to relate to immediately; he told me about his cousin dying that morning, and how hard it was to focus at work. We had an immediate connection and I was happy to provide a listening ear for the 5 minutes our paths connected.

Bouyoed by this connection, I stopped to rest and enjoy the beautiful sunshine at Congress Sq, and started talking to an older gentleman sitting there about the weather and the hot dog guys. Another instant connection. I left only because I wanted to save enough energy for Mark.
I stopped briefly to say hello to Joe - the first thing he told me was "Mark is out!" The town was abuzz with this information, no competition here - and told him I'd be back after. I took the fast but less pretty way there and was so happy to see that red and white umbrella. I gave him a dark chocolate sea salt almond piece from Lake Champlain, and he might have given me my second favorite reaction ever "Wow. This is amazing!"
Lol I loooove introducing people to good chocolate, it's so muh fun!

Then there was a guy who I love talking to who's an amazing photographer - Hi, John! - and we chatted a half hour. By the time I got back to the library, 2 hours had passed since I left, but 2 very good hours. I sat with a smile on my face, just trying to process all the wonderful interactions I'd had, tired but truly happy for the first time in several months. I had forgotten what it felt like to be actually happy, and for that reminder I have Mark to thank, and Mel to thank for telling me he was out!

When I put my mp3 player on, positive emotions exploded in my mind; combining positive stimuli and music makes music so euphoric, but it had been nearly a year since I last enjoyed music in that way.
Sore but thankful to have so many positive endorphins after so many months after having none. Laughing and smiling instead of crying for once. People must have been so shocked to see the difference, lol.