Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Favorite Color Swap!

I actually wrote most of this post a long time ago and it has been languishing in my drafts because I somehow got distracted in the middle of it and never went back to it! Booooo, Angel! Anyway I wanted to share my cool treasures from my most recent blog swap! This is another one organized by Chaotic Goddess. The idea was to find things that are your swap partner's favorite colors. 

My partner was Ale from Mi Esquina 2.0. My two favorite colors are red and purple, but I decided to designate red as my color for this swap. And Ale's favorite color is purple! So shopping for things for her was a lot of fun, because I had to search for purple things. You can check out her blog if you want to see what I got her. 

Anyway, here is a picture of all the cool things I got from Ale! 

The first things you might notice are the large letter A, and the smaller letters that spell out Angel Alien. Ale painted these herself, and they are even sparkly! There are also two little wooden dogs, because she saw that I love dogs. 

The next thing you might notice are the cool craft supplies! Ale sent me a bunch of stickers. And the small little red clothespins, which I think I can put to good use when I am teaching summer school in a few weeks... I bet I can make a game out of them! There are also three rolles of Washi tape, a luxury I've always wanted but never bought for myself. And finally, she sent me some little candy bars! (There were three but I ate one of them right away.) 

I hope Ale likes the things from me as much as I like the things from her!
If you want to see what all of the other swappers got, you can go here

In the meantime, Saturday was my first author event, at a walk-a-thon for a pet rescue organization. They had let me have a vendor booth for free, because I said I would donate half of the proceeds to their organization. Unfortunately for them and me, the event was not much of a success as far as selling my books went! I sold four. (And two of them were to my friend, who had already been planning on buying them.) So my donation to them was only $10, which was $30 less than what they would have gotten if I'd just payed for a vendor booth. (I actually donated $15, because I felt kind of bad about the whole thing.)

I'm not going to be discouraged though! I have another event in July, and I think it will go better. I am going to keep on trying! As the words of one of my favorite songs go, "I get knocked down! But I get up again! You're never going to keep me down!" (I know, the song is actually meant to be about drinking, passing out, getting up and drinking some more. But to me it means when life knocks you down, you get back up and try again!) 

Alright friends, that is it for now. It is thundering now and my dogs are sitting on my feet, so I have to give them some hugs. I hope you all had a great weekend!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It Was All Good!

Hi everyone! Remember last week I was wondering if my successful socializing at the Mother's Day gathering would still be going strong at a much larger family gathering (my little cousin's first communion) this weekend? Well, the day came, with pretty mixed results!

First of all, I almost didn't go, because I was in an argument with my mom over what I should wear. My uncle's wife's family are really flashy, with really nice hair and clothes and lots of sparkles and stuff. They're more like stereotypical Italians. My side of the family is more laid back... for Italians, that is! And they are Catholic, and I am not (although my mom was raised Catholic, only one of the four kids in her family remained Catholic after they grew up. And that one sibling is my uncle. Hence, my cousin's first communion. Make sense?)

So I was having trouble finding something to wear this morning. First I put on one of my favorite, colorful summer skirts, and a short-sleeved shirt. But then I realized that it is still pretty chilly where I live, and I'd freeze to death in that. So I put on gray corduroys (I love corduroys and wear them to work almost every day in the winter) and a nice new blouse my aunt gave me for my birthday. But then I realized the blouse still had the security tag on it! The kind that is impossible to get off without a special tool owned by the store! Ack. Finally I settled on a different summery blouse. So, corduroys and a nice blouse... seemed OK to me!

But when I got downstairs, my mom was all, "What are you wearing? You can't wear jeans to church!"

And I was all, "I am not wearing jeans! These are corduroys!"

And she was like, "Corduroys are jeans!"

And I was like, "That doesn't even make sense! How can corduroys be jeans? They're corduroys! Jeans are denim!"

And she said they were too casual for church.

And I said when I go to my church (the Unitarian Universalist one in town) people wear whatever they want.

And on and on and on... until she told me I looked like a slob and I said I wasn't going then and she said I had to and I said no.

But in the end I did go... mostly just because I wanted to see my grandparents and my little cousins!

And also we got to the church way late, not because of me at all, but because my mom thought it started at 9:30 and it actually started at 9:15. So we had to stand in the back, not even in the pews, because there was no more room. And Catholics... I don't mean to be rude if you are Catholic, it is just that I have barely ever gone to Catholic services and there are so many routines and hand motions and recitations which I didn't know so I was just standing there like, "Uh... what?"

Oh yeah and by the way, a lot of people were wearing jeans! But my mom said she was still right because "grown-ups need to dress up." Which apparently they do not, but there is seriously no arguing with my mother!

So anyways. After that we went to the banquet hall. The lucky thing was that we had assigned tables, and my table was with my parents, my Aunt B and cousin KraftyKid (Aunt B's husband and my cousin SoxBoy didn't end up coming) and my grandparents. So I did have a fine time socializing with them, particularly with KraftyKid because she was sitting right next to me. But I had little or no opportunity or reason to talk with any of the people I didn't know. It was pretty much everyone from my family (except for my uncle whose son had the communion, and one other aunt and uncle who were sitting somewhere else for some reason) all at one table in the furthest right corner of the room, and my uncle's wife's family and friends seated throughout the whole rest of the room. We didn't really cross paths, except to say "hello" maybe. Which was kind of better, for me. Not that they aren't lovely people... it's just that I can never remember all of their names, I have no idea what to say to them, and there are like a thousand of them! I prefer to encounter strangers one at a time, in an orderly fashion.

Was it a success, or a failure, or mediocre? You be the judge!

I also had another social opportunity this weekend, on Saturday. Because I love animals, I have started my own Meetup group, all about animals. The idea of the group is to go to different places where we can see, learn about, or help, animals. Our first meetup was to an educational center that has wolves, bears, tigers, and a variety of other animals. No, it wasn't the zoo. It is hard to explain... it is privately run, and they only are open to the public once a month. They breed wolves (in order to help repopulate wolves, which have been endangered for a while, due to people massively slaughtering them in the 1800's.) and they also take care of exotic pets that people had but were not necessarily supposed to have... such as a bear that someone bought, oddly, at a flea market, and then got in trouble for owning, because obviously you aren't supposed to own a bear, at least not in Illinois. But the bear had always been in captivity and couldn't be released into the wild, so now he lives there.) Only two other people came to my Meetup... but it was kind of nice, and a good time was had by all!

And here is a picture of me at the wolf place. It is kind of hard to see, but there is a wolf in the cage behind me. Can you see it?
I look weird in this picture don't I?!?!?

And here is a better picture of a wolf.
The only thing I don't like is that their cages don't look very nature-like. 

And here is a baby tiger!

And here is the baby tiger trying to eat the guy who was handling him!

Actually the tiger was just playing, similarly to the way a puppy or kitten plays by biting at your pants. That is why the guy doesn't look very alarmed. But he is trying to train the tiger not to do that, because this game will not be as much fun when the tiger is 700 pounds!

Okay. Sorry I haven't written in so long, but I've been so busy trying to get things ready with my book. Next Saturday is my first "author event" where I'll be selling and signing copies! But I should be blogging more often throughout the week. So come back soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

This Is Not A Real Mother's Day Post!

Today is Mother's Day, and I know that by law I am obligated to write a post about my mother... or, if I had kids, about being a mother. But I am not a mother as of yet, and my relationship with my mom is complicated and I am not in the mood to write about it today... I did wish her a happy Mother's Day on Facebook, and in person, and gave her a gift and a homemade card, and spent the day with her and my other family members. And also she doesn't read this blog. So I'm just not going to write that post right now. Maybe next year, okay?

It is also my little dog's birthday. Happy birthday, Lily! She is five years old! And I meant to blog about that. But I've been a little distracted and didn't even do anything for her birthday... so I am telling her it is her birthday all week, giving me time to get her some prezzies and treats!

What I want to write about is how I felt today. Which was, actually, pretty good!

My birthday is very close to Mother's Day, so all of my life, my mom hosted the family Mother's Day celebration and combined it with my family birthday celebration. One of my cousins, Soxboy (not his real name), also has his birthday right around Mother's Day. Since I am grown up and he is only ten, after he was born his mom, my Aunt B, started hosting the Mother's Day celebrations and combining them with his family birthday celebration. Which is also sort of my birthday celebration too, still.

So the point of that whole paragraph is, today we were headed to Aunt B's house for Mother's Day/Soxboy's Birthday/My Birthday. Usually family gatherings are a little stressful for me. Not because I don't enjoy seeing my family members. I do. Its just that I get a little overwhelmed when there are so many people together. Plus sometimes if we go to my Aunt B's house or my Uncle A's house for a celebration, their spouse's family members also come, adding people I don't know very well and don't feel too comfortable with to the mix.

So often, in the days or weeks before a family gathering, I am trying to find out as much information as I can. Who will be there? When will we get there? When do we have to leave to get there? How long will it go to? What will we be having to eat?

Then usually I am a little moody on the morning of the family event It is mostly just anxiety. I know there will be a lot of people, and a lot of voices talking on top of each other. I know as soon as I walk in, and for a while afterwards, there will be a lot of noisy greetings and hugging. And depending on the weather and if some people can sit outside, it can be stressful to figure out where to sit at meal time (Kids' table with my little cousins? Next to my mom? Squashed between my grandparents? What to do, what to do?)

Usually when I first go in I will still be really anxious and stiff, working my way through all the "hello merry christmas how are you i'm fine how are you good how is work it is fine thanks" and other small talk. Then I will usually stake out a place to sit in whatever room people seem to be gathering, and I will try to stay put there. That way I can watch everything, and others can come and talk to me if they want to, and it is less confusing and overwhelming than "mingling." Generally the people who come and talk to me are my grandparents, my Aunt B, my two cousins SoxBoy and KraftyKid, and sometimes my youngest cousins Professor and Shirley Temple. (SoxBoy and Kraftykid, ages 10 and 12, belong to my Aunt B. Professor and Shirley Temple, ages 8 and 5, belong to my Uncle A.)

I have two more cousins who are recent college graduates and live in other areas. Sometimes they are at the family events, but they rarely talk to me after the initial greetings and eventual goodbyes. They think I am odd.

I enjoy talking with the people I feel most comfortable with (mainly the group of people who seek me out to talk to me) but it is sometimes so loud, with so many different conversations going on, that it is hard for me to follow any single one conversation. When we are all together in a big group, such as at meal time at someone's house where we all eat at one table, or in the living room with a bunch of people, I find that sometimes when I do talk, nobody seems to hear me at all. Or sometimes someone will be talking to me and asking me questions, but someone else will interrupt and start a new conversation with the other person, and I will be abandoned mid-sentence.

Another thing that used to happen a lot would be that I would sort of be shuffled off to go hang out with whatever little cousins were at the event. Of course I love my little cousins and enjoy seeing them. But I often felt like I was being treated (mainly by my mom) as just an older kid, like a 14-year-old cousin among a group of younger cousins, instead of an adult with a group of children. I think I've blogged about that before.

I will almost always linger at the edges of the family event for the whole time. It is often a blur to me. But then when it is time to leave, I often feel kind of sad... like I missed out on something. Like I was looking in the windows of a family event but never got the chance to actually go in through the door and experience it.

But today seemed different! And really, the main difference was me! I don't know what it was... maybe the beautiful weather and the fact that most of the gathering took place outdoors, or maybe it is the therapy that I've been going through. But I felt like more of a person.

I handled the initial small talk well. I said Happy Mother's Day to everyone who was a mother, and hugged the appropriate people. I hung out with my little cousins (mainly KraftyKid, because the two boys were inside playing video games and Shirley Temple was on the swingset) and held KraftyKid's hamster, and played Ladders with my mom and KraftyKid, and jumped around hooting when I beat KraftyKid at Ladders by one point, and laughed and mocked my uncle when he bet me $100 that I couldn't get the little rope thing over the ladder and then I did and technically he owes me $100 now, and I helped myself to a second slice of birthday cake, and I said thank-you to the people who gave me birthday presents.

Of course there is always the flipside... if I find myself getting too comfortable in a situation, I really have to watch myself so my ADHD doesn't take over and make me get too hyper and silly and talk too much and do dumb stuff. But today I was, for the most part, able to walk the fine line between ADHD and Aspergers, and just be a person.

And when it was time to leave, I didn't feel sad and wistful like I usually do. I felt happy, and ready to go home and relax!

Was it just a fluke? Just the weather? Or is it really me who is starting to be more comfortable with my own self? Only time will tell.

In fact, I may not have to wait very long for time to tell. Next Sunday is Professor's first communion. This will involve all the relatives from both of Professor's parents' families, plus a lot of Professor's parents' friends, and random others. The gathering will take place at a church and then a banquet hall, and not at someone's somewhat familiar house. Will I be able to assimilate into this strange environment, or will I shrink back into my alien shell? Stay tuned for next week, boys and girls!

Me getting ready to go to my Aunt B's house. I was
wearing a skirt!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My First SLANT Box!

You all know I've been enjoying doing blog swaps... where you get matched with a random blogger, and are given a theme, and the two of you send a surprise package to each other. I found another swap that is just for teachers! I was so excited to join the SLANT Box Swap for the first time, in April. I was matched with Amanda from His And Her Hobbies, and Jenn from Take Me To Third Grade. I was supposed to send a package to Jenn, and receive one from Amanda. 

So the other day, I was excited to find my first SLANT Box outside my door! When I eagerly opened up the box, I couldn't have been happier to find...

1. The book Adventures Of The Berenstain Bears... a classic that teaches children morals through the adventures and misadventures of Brother Bear and Sister Bear. It is actually a collection of four stories, which makes it perfect for reading aloud to a class in short amounts of time, as well as for beginning readers to work their way through at their own pace. 

2. A neat little "catch" game that involves a bouncy baseball and two trampoline-like catching disks. This goes along with one of the stories in the book, where the little bears play T-ball. I bet I can turn it into some sort of reading activity for my summer school class! Or just let them bring it out to play with at recess!

3. An OMG-so-cute stuffed puppy! You all know I am a sucker for stuffed animals! The puppy was included because, in another one of the stories, the family gets a puppy. 

4. A colorful little ball made of suction cups. I used to have these when I was a kid. If you throw them at something like a refrigerator or a white board, it sticks! I bet I can make a fun learning activity with this... like, writing multiple choice answers on the board and having them take turns tossing the ball at the right answer!

5. Colorful Ink Joy pens (for the theme of organization, because in one story the bears clean their house.) I love Ink Joy pens for grading papers and writing notes. So much more fun and friendly than the traditional angry red pen!

6. Post-it flags (again with the theme of organization) which will ALWAYS come in handy! I think I used half a million of these last summer!

7. It's hard to see it, but it is a pad of acorn shaped Post-its, to go with the story where the family finds a baby chipmunk. Again, I use A LOT of Post-It products when I have a classroom! 

And if these things weren't enough, look what else Amanda sent...

Yummy, yummy, yummy chocolates!

What a great SLANT Box. I felt like it was my birthday. Thanks, Amanda, if you're reading this... I loved it all! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My New Book!

 Hi everyone! I was pondering whether or not to link to my new book here. On one hand, I try to keep this blog somewhat anonymous... not that I don't trust you guys, my regular readers, but you have to realize that hundreds of others show up here randomly following keywords like "hot college ass" (I have no idea how that keyword lead to my blog.) Plus, I like the feeling of being able to write my heart out, without worrying about what certain potential readers (like my mother, or my boss) might think. 

But I really do want to show you my new book, and the website that goes with it. 

I'm not saying, like, "I want to show you this so you can buy it, and you should buy it or else I'll be so hurt." More like, "Hey, friends, look what I did! I'm kinda proud of myself! Do you like it?" 

So I decided I am going to link to it, without naming the book or my actual name on this blog. 

As for the name thing? Please don't be disillusioned by seeing the book under a name other than "Angel." Angel is my real life nickname, and the name I like to think of myself as. But for my writing I tend to use my real name, mostly so my grandparents will be able to brag about it! They've always been a little bewildered by my other names. 

Anyways. This book, like I told you, is about a boy whose family is fostering a dog. I am going to donate half of the proceeds to pet rescue organizations. The default organization I'll donate to is the one where I got Trixie, which I also volunteer for. But I will also donate to other organizations.

I already have a few opportunities organized. Over the summer, I am going to go to two different organizations' fundraisers (like picnics and walk-a-thons and whatnot) and try to sell my book. On those days, I'll donate half of the proceeds to the organization that is hosting me! 

I'm really excited about this! I'm excited to be able to share this, and my other children's book, with my online friends! 

And so, without further ado...

Here is the website for the book. If you click on "Main Website" there, you can also see my general author website. 

Here is the Facebook page for my book

Here is my general author Facebook page

And here is the Amazon link where you can buy it, if you really feel like it! 

Also, you should know that drawing is not my biggest strength. I worked really hard on the illustrations, and they are okay, but i know they're not "professional" quality. But I'm kind of proud of them anyways! It took me forever to draw them all! 

Okay! I did it! Hurray! I feel good!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Message From A Cat

I know many of you may not believe in things such as psychics or animal communicators. In fact, for some of you it may even go against your religion! If a post about such things would upset or offend you, then you might want to skip reading this post. I respect your beliefs, and I will totally understand if you'd rather not read about this! But my beliefs are a little different, and I do believe in these things. 

For many years I listened to a podcast by a woman named Tracy Ann who said she was able to communicate with animals, whether they were alive or departed. Whenever I listened to her show, I really felt like her readings for the people who called in sounded pretty accurate. 

Then my beloved 13-year-old dog, Chopper, got cancer. Her health declined worse and worse, to the point where we had to struggle just to get her to eat. Sometimes I made macaroni and cheese (which I really loved to eat) and would spoon some of it into her dog dish. It was soft and cheesy and she'd actually eat it. 

She'd never had a dog bed of her own. Well, she probably did as a puppy, but she chewed it up, and after that she never really needed a bed because she always slept with us in the regular beds. But one day at Walgreens I saw a big, soft, red flannel dog bed for only ten dollars. I decided to buy it to surprise Chopper. I thought she'd enjoy laying on it when she was just hanging out in the living room, since my mom wouldn't allow her on the furniture in there.

Around this same time, I decided to make an appointment with Tracy Ann. I wanted to talk to her about my dog. I wanted to find out if there was anything else we should be doing for her. Was there some way we could save her, or else at least make her as happy and comfortable as possible?

Tracy Ann amazed me with the insights she had about my dog. I can't remember all of the things she said. because this was about five or six years ago. But I do remember specifically two things she said that convinced me that she was for real.

One - She said Chopper was showing her a big, soft, red flannel dog bed, and that Chopper was very proud of it and wanted to say thankyou for it. Tracy Ann said Chopper showed her that it was very comfortable. (I still have this same bed... Trixie and Lily use it now.)

Two - She said Chopper was showing her some small, skinny, orange things in her dog dish, and saying that she really loved to eat these and that she wanted more. The macaroni and cheese! It had to be! 

Tracy Ann's radio show eventually went off the air. I started listening to a similar podcast, by an animal communicator named Laura Stinchfield. Like Tracy Ann's show, people would (and still do) call into the radio show and ask about their pets. 

At the end of 2012, I found out my cat, Sammy-Joe, also had cancer. (On a sidenote, this is a little creepy, don't you think? My childhood dog, Zip, died of cancer when she was only 6 years old. Then Chopper had cancer, and now Sammy-Joe! Is the house cursed? Are my pets acting like canaries in a mine, warning us of something dangerous in the environment?) Remembering my talk with Tracy Ann before Chopper's death, I decided to try calling Laura and asking about Sammy-Joe. 

Like Chopper, Sammy-Joe had grown weak and wasn't eating much. His favorite place to hang out was on top of my dad's workbench in the basement, where he was high enough to not be bothered by the dogs. I had even moved his food dish up there to convince him to eat... although for some reason I did not move his water bowl up there. Every day when I had dinner, I would save some of the meat from my meal, cut it up into tiny cat-sized pieces and put it on the workbench for him, and he would eat it up. My only reassurance in life was that he was at least still eating something! 

When I called the radio show, I was the last person chosen to talk to Laura, and I didn't have much time. But she did tell me some things. Again, there are two things that stand out in my memory. 

One - She told me that Sammy-Joe liked it when I gave him cut-up people food, and that I should continue feeding him that.

Two - She told me that Sammy-Joe would like his water dish "high up" so that it would be easier to drink. Laura gets pictures and feelings from the animals, so she wasn't sure what this meant, and thought it might be that he wanted his water dish elevated a few inches so he wouldn't have to bend down for it. But I noticed she had only said "water dish," and not "both dishes." Sammy's food dish was already up on the work bench, and he was requesting for his water dish to be put up there also, so he wouldn't have to jump down in order to get a drink!

Sammy-Joe finally passed away in February, 2013. I was crushed. I still do miss him so much, and think of him all the time. Often at night, when I am in my bed, I will think of him, and imagine that he is in bed with me and the dogs. I imagine him kneading my arm with his paws, the way he used to do, and purring away. 

Sammy-Joe was best friends with Chopper, but after Chopper died he wasn't in the mood to become friends with any other dogs. He and Trixie tolerated each other, but he never played with Trixie the way he did with Chopper. Trixie would have loved it... she is such a gentle and loving dog... but Sammy would have no part of it. And when Lily came, he hissed at her, and she got scared and barked at him, and from then on the two of them were scared of each other! This is when Sammy started spending a lot of time skulking around in the basement and hiding from Lily. So after he died, I started to wonder if he had sort of willed himself to get cancer and die, because he thought I didn't need him any more, since I had the dogs. 

It took me over a year to gather my courage to call the radio show and talk to Laura, to ask if Sammy had left me on purpose. Finally, last week, I called about Sammy for the second time.

Laura told me Sammy-Joe did not die because of the dogs... he said he was already starting to be sick before they came, and that they were annoying but not something that would have made him want to leave. 

Then she told me that Sammy-Joe's spirit comes into my room at night and that he puts his paw on me and tells me that he loves me. 

The next thing she said is what blew me away.

She said that Sammy showed her that I am shy sometimes, and think that I am not communicating well, but that others don't realize I am shy and they think I am communicating fine. She said, "He says to tell you that people love you." 

Finally, she said Sammy told her that he would be with me to protect me, whenever I needed strength, and that whenever I was feeling insecure I could know that he was there with me. Laura told me, "He says to tell you, 'I'm a cat with wings.' He shows me himself sitting on your shoulder."

It took me a while to realize what he was trying to tell me. He was trying to show me that he is my angel!

I love angels, my nickname is Angel, and I even used to have a Lisa Frank coloring book that had cat angels in it. I used to color them all gray to look like Sammy-Joe. 

I know others may find this story insane. But I believe it with all my heart.