Friday, March 30, 2007

Mary and the Snake

Yesterday was my soon-to-be 5 year old son's kindergarten roundup at the Catholic school in town. Many of the kids that will be going there are in his preschool class this year, so he was surrounded by familiar faces. I went to pick him up and he went into the coat room by himself, found his coat, and attempted to put it on by himself. He's growing up so fast!

Then, as we walked towards the doors to leave, he stopped in front of the statue of Mary in the entry. As he looked up at the large statue, I asked him who it was. And, of course, he knew it and said, "Mary" so matter-of-factly. Then, he walked closer and touched the snake in the statue that was slithering at Mary's feet. The school principal walked by, noticed my son's interest in the snake, and said that many kids ask about the snake.

Hmmmm... I never noticed the snake in this Mary statue before, although I've walked by this statue many times before. This really caught my interest, too.

Genesis 3:14-15
Then the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Walk Through Walls and Other Fascinations

I've always believed that architecture has a higher purpose than just to protect us from the elements. It forms our basis of relating to ourselves and to others. It creates the foundation of our organization and thought processes. A building is a manipulation of space and elements.

Since I can remember, most of my dreams have involved the organization based on architecture and the relations that develop in those spaces. I have had dreams of beautiful palaces, of interlinked deckwalks on a swampy bog, and intricate details of imagined churches.

I recall in elementary school I was one of a handful of kids in my class to test out of our final year of reading, and we were thrown into taking Spanish. Our Spanish teacher was a young man of northern heritage who grew up in Chile. As a class filled with smart kids, we usually would lead our Spanish classes off-topic or playing Spanish Password and BINGO. One day he talked about living in Chile and hiking the nearby mountains and what he'd found on his explorations. He mentioned that it was then he would gain ideas and insights about the forces of nature. He made a side remark once that he believed that in the future humans would be able to walk or pass through doors and walls without effort. (Maybe he had read something like this futuristic dream.) The thought intrigued me.

It was also during this time that I became involved in calligraphy and began perfecting my calligraphic writing. (Still not perfect, yet.) Several years ago, the Smithsonian magazine featured the first illuminated script of the Saint John's Bible. Wow. Researching illuminated script and sacred geometry pulled up even more interesting information: Coding sacred numbers and design into the illustrations.

Maybe there's a connection here between sacred architecture, geometry, faith and our physical nature.

Coral Castle: Mysteries of Sacred Geometry and A Man's Passions

Coral Castle is a work of magnificent manipulation. Many ask how one tiny man could build these structures by himself... Me too. So, what did he know that I don't? Who knows. However, some try to figure it all out.

Edward Leedskalnin, the creator of Coral Castle, or referred to as Sweet Sixteen, built this place as a beckoning to his unrequited love, Agnes, a sixteen year old who left him a day before their wedding. What a way to grieve! He flees his homeland of Latvia and comes to southern Florida to build this epic rock garden for his sweet sixteen. I don't think any guy I dumped would have gone to that extent to woo me back.

And that is the point, this guy built this world wonder for a girl! Not to exploit his scientific knowledge to the world or to boost of his intelligence, but he did it for a girl. Now, I do know guys who go crazy over a girl, and sometimes never get over it. But this is extreme.

And it is impressive. I don't know if I'd want to live in a rock quarry, but the structures are overwhelmingly impressive. If I were Agnes, I don't think this would convince me of a man's love, however. (I'm thinking Ed Leedskalnin was maybe an autistic-savant, but I think that savant is an underestimate.) He certainly didn't seem to understand what really turned his woman on.

Sure, having a huge door that can be opened by a slight push is nice feature for a woman, but, no, it really doesn't do the trick in the aspect of love. Creating an air conditioner is a nice feature, especially in Florida, but not so much for Latvia. A rocking chair in rock. You know, they make those in wood, too, and they're probably more comfortable, too.

Women like pretty things like flowers and pretty pictures. Now, if Ed Leedskalnin had sent his beloved a drawing of his sacred geometry of magnetic currents, maybe that would help his cause. Notice the drawing of magnetic currents, courtesy of Jon DePew. Connect the dots. Doesn't it look like a heart? The designs of sacred geometry using this design is beautiful, too. Can you imagine the wallpaper that could be created with this design?

Now, this man was smart. Very smart. Almost too smart. That may have been his biggest fault in the courting department. Ed Leedskalnin's passion became Coral Castle. His passion was marked with outstanding intelligence. He may have known the inner workings of magnetic currents, but he apparently fell short on human magnetism.

China's Cancer Apple Juice

If you knew how much apple juice my three year old son drinks and the majority of the apple juice selection in our local grocery stores are from China, you would understand why I just about had a heart attack reading the article linked in the title of this post. I found this article from my favorite new blog that focused on China and how cancer is multiplying there and being exported here.

This line really got my panties in a bunch: "toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung." Besides the air, what other cancer-ridden products could China be exporting? Noooo, not apple juice!!

However, I then read this article about how apple juice, and especially pulpy apple juice, can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Phew! Thank goodness! I guess that negates the possibility of getting cancer from China's apple juice, right?!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Alcohol Trumps Ecstasy and Other News

Yes, I know, I know. There are more pressing issues out there than some British report on recreational drugs. Like the eight fired US Attorneys (so do they have to relinguish their monkey status, as well?), and John Edwards' wife's cancer has returned (note to Edwards' family: life is short, enjoy it now!), and the tainted pet food (aw rats, I can't believe it's poisoned).

However, in my unconscious ploy to uncover news stories that affect the most people, I think this one takes the keg, er cake. Let's get a show of hands here... how many of you have indulged in alcohol in the past month? The past week? The past day? Okay. You get the point. Most people do enjoy alcohol once in a while.

What if I said that alcohol is more harmful than LSD? Worse than Ecstasy? More horrible than marijuanna? Yup. And so is tobacco. At least according to some British scientists hoping to better classify these recreational drugs according to the harm they cause.

This is just a bit disappointing for me. (Reflects a moment...starts sobbing...) This is impossible. Why would alcohol and tobacco be legal if our government really wants to protect us from such evils? Why didn't they rate them with the other illicit drugs during the "Just Say No" campaign when I was in high school?

Alcohol is bad... no it can't be all that bad. Those experts also say wine and beer are good for my heart. Damn! What's it going to be?? I mean, we can't go around touting everything is harmful, can we?

And what's next? Fast food? Heck, let's just rank legal pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, and see how they fair against the bad boys of the drug world--who's more harmful now? Yeah, I can see it now: Heroine is for wimps, Asprin will eat your insides alive, until you're dead.

Monday, March 12, 2007

When the Laughter Dies...

Jokes are no laughing matter to the brain. They are a type of release valve that enables us to think the unthinkable, accept the unacceptable, discover new relationships, adjust better and maintain our mental health. They are also funny. Without them we probably would be a dull, dimwitted society, trapped in a harsh world too serious to bear.

I instantly thought of Comedy Central when I read this quote. Especially The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. When our crazy world becomes too overwhelming, laughter is our release and allows us to overcome our crazy world.

It is a crazy world, indeed, when the laughter dies. I remember when I heard Phil Hartman died. It was if a part of the world had died. Yes, we have healed and we move on, with humor at our side. Again, today I read that Richard Jeni passed away. And another rift in the world laughter continuum has formed. And again, we will heal.

We are blessed to be able to rekindle the laughter from Hartman and Jeni, and all the past comedians like John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Richard Pryor, with their recorded performances. Those performances that helped us heal in times of stress and trial. In a way, comedy has saved us from (and in spite of) ourselves.

To those comedians, all I can say is: Thanks for the memories!

Just a Little Bit of Understanding...

You don't have to walk in my shoes to understand me. You don't have to shadow me to see the light in my eyes. Sometimes you just need to know that I am not you. And know that is okay. We can see and enjoy each other's strengths together. We can bounce off of our weaknesses together and become stronger. Just know that I see our existence from different eyes than you. It's just a perspective.

I spent much of yesterday covering the Shamrock pageants, and I began to fully realize my own "Aspie-ness" as I watched the young girls performing their talents on stage. In previous years, I always wondered why I didn't do pageants. I am beautiful. I am talented. What I lacked was confidence to do it. Years of being told I am stupid and ugly have an impact on one's psyche. Sure, if I had been in the "in" crowd and had a shred of dignity I could have been a great pageant queen. That's what I used to think.

Yes, that was part of it, but only the tip of the iceberg. The more I read about Aspergers, the more I am reading about me.

I was the one in school that did want friends. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to enjoy friendship. Friends came, and friends left. There were few close friends. Sometimes it tears me out from the inside that I was never close to anyone. Other times I am thankful that I didn't have friends. I was bullied intensely in a small school. In some ways, it is hard to be friends with someone who called you retarded the day before. I wanted to be liked by others, but it was always an uphill battle. That was my aspie-ness creating that need.

My niche came in high school, as I submerged myself in drawing, and people accepted me and my talent. The great thing about drawing is that I didn't have to face the people who called me stupid, but I could exhibit my talent for them in a relatively safe environment. I could shelter myself in my room drawing for hours on end. That was my aspie-ness fulfilling my need.

As I watched the girls walking down from the stage onto the runway, deep inside I wanted to do that, too. Then, I thought, sure I could do that, but my nerves would have been so intense at that age, and even today. I would have been so worried how others would see me, that I would work myself up and in the end would not be able to focus on my stance and projected confidence to look good. My focus is precious and it is delicate, and can get distracted easily if I don't ignore the distractions around me. That is my aspie-ness creating a need.

I guess that is why I enjoy radio broadcasting. Nice, short blips of focused performance with my voice. I don't have to look 100% completely stunning all day long. I can work by myself and I don't have to deal with the distraction caused by others. That is my aspie-ness fulfilling my need.

I realize that there are things I would love to do. And I realize there's a time and a place for everything. I know that I am different than others, and some things are more difficult for me, while others come easily for me. The more I understand myself, the more courage I begin to develop to do the things I enjoy doing.

I love to cantor at church. I enjoy singing and enjoy sharing my God-given talent to God and my church. I see it as a self-sacrificing gift, instead of a self-serving gift. I cantor because I want to help others sing, too. I look at the crowd in front of me, and I smile at the faces as I sing to God's glory, to encourage those faces to sing with me. We have been blessed way too much to sit in church like a bump on a log. There is not a week that goes by that I don't hear someone tell me how much they enjoy my singing at church, and many times they comment how easy it is for them to sing along with me. That is my aspie-ness fulfilling many needs for me and others.

Yes, I am different than the norm. There's no changing it. I've tried. Acceptance, understanding, and creative thinking goes a long way to utilizing my strengths.

I see it like a box in front of me. I see others walking through the box with ease. I try to walk through the box, but I am blocked. I can't walk through it, no matter how I try to mimic others' pursuit through the box. But, I can walk around it, under it, over it. The goal is to get to the other side of the box, not in the box. Sure, I see others inside the box, but they can get out of the box. At one point, I thought the goal was the inside of the box and I tried to get in. Bad idea. As I can't get through the box, if I got into the box I would be trapped. And I don't like feeling trapped. So, it is sometimes best to avoid the box. The goal, the focus is the other side of the box. And, along the way I meet people who avoid the box, as well. We see those in the box can't see the goal, and aimlessly do their deeds. And that's okay. (I'm sure I will carry this analogy on later...)

So, this is a bit of an epiphany for me. Realizing why I am good at the things I enjoy, and why I would not be good at other things. And realizing that I am not alone.

I had some great aspirations, and I still have aspirations. They've just changed a little.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Headlines: Pardon Me!

Pardon Me! We pardon scooters all the time as they zoom by us on the sidewalks of life. Why not this scooter? I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was found guilty on Tuesday by a reportedly saddened grand jury on four of the five charges for lying to investigators during the Plame leak case. It would be a political move of varied motives for the President to pardon Libby, but wouldn't it be nice for the fall guy to get some justice, too?

Success in Iraq is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed. General David Petraeus, US Army commander in Iraq commented recently that it will take more than military might to end the violence in that war-torn country. Gen. Petraeus hinted that resolution in Iraq would need political negotiations to create peace. Political negotiations, eh? I think it's time for the US President to pardon Iraq.

"I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden." would likely be a hummed tune for the fired Maj. Gen. George Weightman and Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley were singing before the bad press came out for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Sure, military service is tough. However, we are talking about our injured soldiers here. I think we can lay off the tough guy act in a hospital, can't we? Just think what these vets will say to their grandkids: Yeah, it was difficult fighting off those rats and cockroaches, but the moldy stench was the worst. I survived Iraq because they gave me a gun and ammo, but surviving Walter Reed was the biggest battle I faced. No guns, no ammo. Not even rodent bombs or roach motels. Conditions were deplorable. I needed to raise the black flag, but the Army didn't supply us with any. So, we had to use our crutches and wheelchairs to squish the enemy! No pardons likely here. No matter how hard they beg.

"Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again!" I don't know if Pierce Brosnan will need a pardon after this one, but he is slated to sing, yes I said SING... ::LOL:: Sing ABBA tunes... ::ROFL:: With, get this... Meryl Streep! ::LMAO:: Okay, okay, Brosnan is a handsome actor, a remarkable artist, but I don't recall any singing scenes in the Bond movies. The big question now is, will I be walking out of the theater singing S.O.S. out of desperation or under a euphoric state of enjoyment? By the way, Pierce, I'll pardon you in advance on this one.

No Pardons for Captain America! I was completely saddened by the news that our superhero, Captain America, ::sob:: is dead. Captain America is dead apparently due to his resistance to register with the federal Super Hero Registration Act? Is this a sobering reflection of the state of affairs in our country? What will our country do without Captain America? Is this the end? Will Tek Jansen be able to fill such big shoes?

Well, if there are pardons to make, lent is a good time to make them, as we forgive others and forgive ourselves for all the blunders and ignorantly foolish things we do and forget to do. I hope you have it in your heart to pardon me, as well. I promise I will pardon you, too.

Daylight Savings for St. Pat's

This will be the first time since daylight savings came into existence that both my birthday and Saint Patrick's Day will enjoy a later evening. And an early morning.

For those of you just joining me, I discussed some of the ramifications of this change of daylight savings last year...

However, I failed to realize how this would affect my birthday this year. Sure, it is nice to enjoy daylight savings when the spring sunrise is tapping at your window, but it's not going to do that this early. Heck, we still have snow on the ground! If anything, the snow is just going to reflect the streetlights into my window on Monday morning, March 12th.

How could my birthday be any more special this year? Getting daylight saving on my birthday is spectacular. A kind and wonderful present from our President. When my internal alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m. Monday morning, it isn't really 6 a.m. It'll be 7. I'll be down one whole hour on my birthday?! What kind of present is this??

Let alone the implications of partying for St. Patrick's Day. I'd better hope this year's Irish dignitary likes to get his shut-eye early. But, of course, I won't hope that. A girl needs a little fun every now and then. I think I will boycott this early daylight savings this year. I'm sure no one at work will mind. And anyway, I don't believe in time.

Monday, March 05, 2007

In the Family of Aspergers & Labels: Good?

Did you ever notice subtle, yet distinguishable differences between you and others? Did you ever wonder why people react to you differently than others, although you look just like everyone else? Have you ever felt lost in a vast sea, taken up on a wave of your own individuality?

I began to see differences in my oldest son early on, but I dismissed them as something of his own individuality. I even began to love his idiosyncracies. However, I knew that he was different. Just as I was different as a child.

Last week, we saw a specialist to find out exactly what the professional world of psychology and labeling defined my son's differences. The label? Aspergers Syndrome. Or what some call high-functioning autism. It is among the autistic spectrum disorders. We have begun the process of proper analyzing, assessing, testing, affirming and action.

Yes, it is a label. I was not surprised by the label. In fact, I expected it. (I actually was hoping that he would not get misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD and get thrust into meds and programs that would never work for him.)

How would I know about my son's condition? Because he acts a lot like me. His tantrums are a lot like mine. His frustrations, his interests, his view on life are very similar to mine. When I was his age, I was very apprehensive about giving apologies as I felt more sorry about those I gave them to, than I was sorry about what I had done. I want to be accepted by my peers, but feel strangely awkward in their presence. I see things differently, and react to things differently. I hear things that others don't and I feel things that others don't sense. There are things that people say and do that would affect others socially or mentally that don't phase me, and things that don't affect others that greatly affect me.

Labels are only good when there are ways, processes and activities within such a labeling to affect a positive outcome for the individual and all who are affected. The unfortunate part of labeling is that as a society we try to get the labeled to fit into society, instead of working with the label and its positive offerings.

I believe, in the purest hollow of my heart, that every person existing has a positive energy and positive offering to give to the world. Some will find that positive energy and bestow it to the world unhindered, others will not see that positive energy and instead offer the world negative energy, and then there are some who see that positive energy and watch it be socially hindered and sapped away by the negative energy, intentionally or unintended by others.

My experience with Aspergers is not as much a label, inasmuchas it is a different perspective. It is that POV (point of view) that is not readily accepted by societal and cultural norms. The label is only there to help the "normal" people to define what they see as an obscurity in someone. What is obscure in the norm, is clear in someone with aspergers. What is obscure in someone with aspergers, is clear in the norm. Sure, it's not absolute, as no one or two can together see all answers to life (unless two or more are gathered in God's name, well that's a different story there, too).

Picture it as a circular peg trying to fit into a square hole. There are the corners in the square where that circle will not fill into, and areas where the circle go over the bounds of the square. In a perfect world, we would sense that we would lose so much by changing the circle, and reconfigure our societal and educational boundaries so that all the positive energy of the circle would be fully actualized.

We are not in a perfect world. Society as we know it, presses all into the meatgrinder of life, regardless of the cut of meat, and strives to make all into nice, uniform sausages. In effect society is willing to convert the circle into a square so it will fit nicely into the square hole.

A good butcher would be appalled to see a good piece of sirloin ground into a hotdog. Good educators and parents, also should be appalled to see their good child being mangled with meds and ineffective learning techniques aimed to restrict the student's creative and obscure point of view and mould him into the "perfect" student.

In the process of labeling, it is vital to help normal people to see and take positive advantage of the special POV and learning skills that those with Aspergers exhibit. It takes teachers with a teaching style that parallels the aspergers' learning style to truly gain the most out of this educational experience.

It takes a teacher that can change the educational square into the circle, and a student that can understand his/her circular nature and learn to literally work around the societal and cultural square that challenges them. It also takes a parent that can see both the square and the circle to coach their child to understand that both are vital, and necessary, and that both need to do their part to work together in harmony.

The challenge is made for us. It is in our hands to see and offer the positive energies in ourselves, to show the positive in others, and to provide guidance to those seeking the positive in themselves. I am positive of this.

I think...