Brief summary

I worked as a massage therapist until 2009, when a car accident left me with long term whiplash and effectively ended my career. Round about that time, I found out that I'd had Asperger's Syndrome my entire life - a discovery that explained a lot of the earlier difficulties and challenges I'd had. Since then... well, that's what this blog is exploring.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Hogmanay

I made up a variation of this posting last year, as well.  It's a reference point for my CS guests - so they can know what to expect from my schedule over the Hogmanay period.  Everybody knows that the living situation will be chaotic while you're all here.  But I think that'll just make everything a bit more lively and fun.

It'd be a nice touch if you contacted each other, as well.  Just so you can get to know each other a little bit, before you actually arrive.  Then you won't all be strangers.

The profiles are -

I'm sorry about the ads.  But if you just click on the picture, it should come up without them getting in the way.

This is probably the final list, but I'm not sure, yet.  Bruna's dates are flexible and it looks like her friends will only be here for Hogmanay - so they probably won't even stay in the flat for more than a couple of hours.

The place is pretty packed, but most of the time some people will be out and others will be in one of the other rooms, sleeping.  It's likely that we'll all be keeping different schedules.  Some people will be going to spontaneous parties and coming home at strange hours.   So the sitting room will be mostly for socialising until pretty late.

If you want to sleep, then grab whatever bed is available.  There is a tiny room with no windows - that has a single bed.  And there's a large room with a double bed and some floorspace.  The sitting room has two couches and some floorspace.  One of these can be folded down into a double bed.

You will probably end up sharing a sleeping space with someone.  The only strict rule I have is that a male guest should not get into a bed that is already occupied by a female guest, unless those two have already agreed that they're both comfortable with that.  But right now, it looks like there are only three male guests.  They are Jimmy, one of Bruna's friends and Cédric.  Jimmy has already said he can sleep anywhere - including on the floor - so that's cool.  Bruna's friend, like I said, will probably only be here for one night and might not end up sleeping here.  Cédric is Anna's boyfriend, so will most likely sleep with her.  

Anna was accepted as a guest pretty late.  She asked to stay until the 31st, but that might not be possible.  It'll depend on just how comfortable everybody else is with the limited space and on Bruna's final dates, once they're set in stone.  So I've accepted her for the first two nights she asked for, and the second two will be agreed on later.

The sitting room is likely to be for the hardy few people who will stay up late.  Tired guests should feel free to slip away and take a bed or floorspace in one of the two bedrooms, whenever they're ready to sleep.  Those in the sitting room will try to keep the noise down, but it might still get a bit lively - it's a time for parties, after all.

Anyway, keep your eye on this page, in case there are any further updates.  And I definitely encourage you all to send messages to each other, if you'd like to introduce yourselves before you arrive.

I'm sorry about the ads partially obscuring the snapshot below.  But if you click on the picture, it'll fill the screen without the ads getting in the way.

And if I don't have a note of your arrival times on the picture, then please let me know when you're likely to arrive so I can anticipate you.

And on the subject of nudity.  Everybody is cool with the fact that I'll be naked, so it's clearly going to be an environment where everybody's happy to let people be themselves.  And I don't have a dress code of any kind.  Wear whatever you feel like wearing.  If anyone else feels like being naked, I'll be completely cool with it.



Sunday, 26 October 2014

The photoshoot

Things are starting to progress with the upcoming autism talk.  We had the photoshoot on the 21st of August, and Kobi recently sent me these pictures.

I'm not sure when the gallery space and the talk will take place.  I've got a feeling it might not be before Christmas.  With Fixers, events proceed slowly, but steadily.







Saturday, 23 August 2014

Understanding social cues

In the last few days, I've felt increasingly troubled by my poor grasp of some pretty basic social cues.  I had four guests - two sets of French people.  A young couple who took the spare bedroom.  And two sisters who had the sitting room until last night.

Most of the problem, as usual, was my fault.  I spent the weekend at my cousin's place, having finally patched things up with him.  That meant sleeping on the couch, that created some shoulder tension that travelled into my neck and that brought on a migraine.  So, on Tuesday evening, when I got back home, I wasn't at my best.

At first, it was a lot of fun.  We played a game I've been developing, and that got to be pretty lively.  But then, later in the evening, the fourth wave of the migraine washed over me.  I took painkillers and only had a pretty mild headache, but my thinking became cloudy, my vision got pretty weird and I drifted out of the conversation for a while.  When I drifted back in again, everybody was chatting away in French.  I couldn't see an opening for me - not without forcing everyone back into English.  And doing that just felt like it would be arrogant.  One person dictating a conversation that five people were involved in.  So I went to bed.

They'd all been very polite.  They'd repeatedly translated things they'd said to each other and they'd definitely tried to involve me, more than once.  But they were still just translations of snippets of a conversation that I wasn't really a part of, any more.

There were moments throughout the week where we all seemed to have a lot of fun.  But there were also moments where it was a lot clumsier.  Repeatedly, my guests had brought in some beers or some food.  On the first night I had no problem drinking, because I supplied a few beers of my own, but then I ran out of money.  After that, I didn't join in with the drinking or eating, because I couldn't really contribute anything to the meals or buy drinks back.  If I'm eating someone's food or drinking someone's beer, I really like to be able to share.  If not now, then definitely sometime in the near future.

This week, I made an exception to that rule in the mornings, when coffee was offered.  And on the games night, I made a further exception, because I'd made a very slight contribution to the food.  But I didn't drink, because I felt like I'd shamed myself.  Everybody had pooled in some money to contribute to the beer, and my own contribution had been laughably poor; I added less than £2.  I tried to make a joke about how pathetic it was, but it still felt pretty cringeworthy.  A bit too true for it to be funny.  So I decided that if I didn't drink any of it, I didn't need to feel bad about how little I added to the kitty.

At first I made vague excuses when I was asked if I wanted a beer, but I soon realised that excuses weren't necessary.  All I had to say was "no thank you" and the subject was dropped.  That was pretty refreshing, since I didn't need to continually explain myself.  It's amazing how difficult it is to persuade people, sometimes, about the sharing logic.  They usually try to overturn the reasoning with a bit of fresh logic of their own and that just turns into a debate that usually concludes with me becoming a lot less polite.  Not actively rude, but definitely insistent that I'm just not going to take a beer.  I'm told I'm too rigid, sometimes.

So that was another barrier to the socialising.

Then, on Friday we all went out for a few hours.  We'd been planning this for a couple of days, so I'd been looking forward to it.  But then I accidentally got separated from everybody.  I'd got into conversation with a couple of girls who were promoting a play and staging a demonstration.  They were deliberately dressed provocatively and standing out from the crowd - pointing out that the way a woman dresses is not an invitation to sexual assault.  I told them that their message was one that would go down well at Crew.  I asked them for a poster and some flyers, then took those to Crew and suggested they might like to go to the show.  I didn't realise at first that my guests hadn't joined me when I went to Crew, but even then I wasn't initially concerned.  Two of them knew where the place was, and I assumed that were going to follow me there, in a few minutes.  When they didn't, I walked back to where I'd last seen them, but couldn't find them.

Now, that seemed to solve one problem - I was able to go home and get something to eat without having to make excuses when the time came for everybody to stop at a cafe or something.  I was disappointed at losing everybody, but at least I was able to get some toast.  And I figured that they'd get in touch later and we could arrange to meet up somewhere and start again.  But then, when the day went on and on and everybody stayed out, I started to wonder if I'd somehow caused offence.

And then I started replaying that conversation with the two performers.  I started wondering how that might have appeared to my guests.  Only being partially aware of what I do at Crew, they might have interpreted this random conversation with those girls as being a bit sleazy or creepy.  They might have been very offended by it and might have felt a lot more comfortable when I was no longer a part of their group.

Or, as I also suspected, it might have been a lot less awkward and tiring for them to have to continually translate things to the only person in the group who didn't speak French.

Later, when they finally did get back, they reminded me that I could have called one of them on her mobile 'phone.  This had completely slipped my mind.  Probably a good thing, because it was an international number.

And it was about then, that one of my suspicions was confirmed.  One of the girls made a passing reference to being tired out by speaking so much English.  I was amused, rather than offended by her slip, but she was mortified.  I said I was going to go to bed, so they could all relax.  She tried to stop me, and insisted I stay and talk to them, but I insisted that everybody would relax much more easily if they didn't have to accommodate me so much.  I remembered how tiring it was for me, when I was staying with family in Germany.  It was almost physically exhausting.  So I insisted that I wasn't offended and that I completely understood her comment and agreed with it, and I insisted that I was completely happy to leave everybody in peace.

Three of the guests actually came through to my room, shortly after that, and tried very hard to get me to come back and rejoin the conversation.  But I was fully aware by then, of how it would go.  They were naturally going to talk in the language that they were most comfortable with.  And if I was there, they were going to have to constantly translate.  And as we all got more and more tired, the translations were going to become more infrequent and sporadic.

The couple left early on Saturday morning.  And when I got up with the remaining two, I went to Gorgie City Farm with them.  I saw them getting ready to go out and they made a reference to the farm, so I said I'd join them and they agreed.  It was only later, that I got concerned about the fact that I'd just invited myself along.  I had completely barged in on their activity.  By the time that occurred to me, though, it was too late and I couldn't think of a way to back out again, gracefully.  So I got dressed and we all went out.

It was fun, though.  We didn't need to speak a lot.  We were too busy playing with the animals and making jokes to each other.  True - jokes rely on communication.  But the language barrier didn't seem like as much of a restriction this time.

We went back to the flat and I settled in for the next few hours, while the girls went back out again.  I had an art class in the afternoon, and we made arrangements to meet up at it.  I made sure they had the address and knew what time to get there.  Then I settled down and tried to kill a couple of hours.  It occurred to me that if I kept an eye on the time and if I carried the sketchpads with me, I could have gone into town with the girls.  But I didn't want to invade their plans a second time, so I held back from suggesting that.

Later, I got to the venue and set up.  Then, just when I was expecting the girls to arrive, I got a 'phone call from them.  I missed it and tried calling them back and then - after a couple of disconnected and aborted attempts, they finally got through to me.  I didn't get the details clearly, but I understood the gist, which was that they weren't going to make it to the class.  This wouldn't normally have been a big deal, but it was very disappointing, this time.  I knew someone else in Edinburgh who wanted to come to this class, but I hadn't been able to invite her, because two extra people was already pushing the limits.  Now, with those two having dropped out, I tried to get in touch with the other girl, but just couldn't manage it.  It was a very disappointing missed opportunity.

I wrapped up the class, then went home to shower and drop off the sketchpads.  Then I tried calling the girls again.  I figured that since it was their last night in town, then perhaps we could hook up somewhere.  I still wanted to show them round the city a bit, which was something we'd all been planning since the very beginning.  Even if all we did was watch the Festival fireworks and go home again.  They tried calling me once and I tried calling them four times over about four hours.  I got their answering machine twice, the 'phone rang out without being answered once and then I got the answering machine a third time.  At around 9PM, I completely gave up.

They got back shortly after 9PM, but conversation was clearly not comfortable at that point.  They told me they'd seen a comedy show and watched the fireworks and that they'd had a good time.  We didn't talk about the fact that I'd tried calling them.  I was too embarrassed to admit to being so pushy.  And I'm guessing they were too polite to make any kind of reference to it.  I went to my room and left them to pack their things in peace.

And even more disappointingly - if I hadn't tried so hard to join the two girls today, I could have done something else just as fun.  Crew had a barbecue this afternoon.  I missed the first two hours of that, because of the job I had to do, but I could have still turned up at the tail end of it.  If I'd just accepted that I wasn't going to salvage anything with my guests, I could have still had a bit of fun.  I wouldn't have inadvertently created a frosty atmosphere with my guests and there might even have been some food left.

The guests have all been very nice.  They've been very cool people.  And I might have got on with them a lot better, if I hadn't tried so hard to be part of their company.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Bad judgement

This is gradually turning into a sort of journal of self-doubt and paranoia and neuroses, rather than autism.  Like... every time I really screw up on something, or think I've screwed up on something, I start worrying at it and dissecting it and picking it apart.  I can justify its inclusion in an autism journal - barely - by relating it to certain autistic thought processes.  But then I remember that these are thought processes that a lot of people have.  Just... you know... probably that bit more acute in an autistic person.

So then I start wondering just how you measure that sort of thing.  How can you compare the levels of self-doubt I have to the levels of self-doubt you have?

I suppose, though, that I tend to have repetitive thought processes and these can easily trip over into obsessive thought processes.  And that's where the neuroses lie.  And that's when my brain just won't shut up and give me peace.

There are times when one mistake leads to another and another.  The initial mistake is bad enough, but then there are attempts to apologise or to make amends and each time the initial mistake is compounded and ultimately becomes much, much worse.

Sometimes it's impossible to know how to stop screwing up.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Thoughts on the gallery space

This is a recent email to Kobi.  Rather than go through all my thoughts, all over again, just to reproduce them in this posting, I figured it would be more effective to simply cut-and-paste the email.


Hello, Kobi

I'm a bit annoyed at myself.  I've lost the contact details of the producer.  I've forgotten his name, too - is it Andrew?  Anyway, I hope you pass this message on to him.

I'm also annoyed that I've got a bit of creative block with the photographic concept.  It's a little tricky to think of five images that summarise everything coherently.  But I think the key stages would be...

  • Massage therapist.  Perhaps an image of me working on someone's back.  My form of therapy was delivered through clothes, on a specially designed chair.  The chair I used was an Oakworks Portal Pro.
  • Starting to suspect I had autism.  This is a tricky part.  I'm not sure how to represent it without overacting it or overstating it.  Maybe just a face shot - let people add in their own interpretation.
  • Car crash.  A potentially great visual, with some real momentum.  But I don't have a clue how to represent it.  Perhaps a picture of myself and someone standing in for my friend?  Shot through the windshield.  The moment immediately before the crash, where we're both looking tense and frightened - anticipating the impact.  I think it might potentially be too cheesy or cheap or impractical to show the actual impact or aftermath.
  • Photoshop and creativity.  Maybe a scene of me sitting at a computer, looking bored.  I don't know - again, this could look cheesy.  It also might look too vague.  But perhaps - like the autism picture - it could let people add their own interpretation.
  • Art classes.  A bit of a jump in the narrative, this time.  Leaping forward to things getting better.  But it could still work - and this is the picture that feels easiest to me.  It would just have to be a representation of one of my art classes.  It wouldn't be revealing, but it would hopefully show a moment where everybody appears to be having a lot of fun.

I have some other thoughts, if the format is a flexible one, though.  I was thinking that bits of text could link the pictures.  My own words - I could write things and they could be printed up and displayed next to each picture.  They would elaborate on the story.

I was also thinking that I could select some of my own pictures that could be printed up as well.  I realise that these would probably need to be vetted by yourselves and they would be at my own expense, but I think that if they were printed up postcard sized, they could definitely represent my work.

I might not be able to afford to print a lot of pictures, though.  So perhaps I could set up a digital display of some pictures.  A screensaver kind of effect somewhere would be good.  Perhaps they could be cycled on a projector?  I would love to have more than one projector displaying different types of pictures on different walls, but I'm sure that would be a bit ambitious.  It would surely look cool, though.

I am definitely getting very excited by the way things are going.  And to make sure I've got this straight in my head... I want to go through the format as I understand it -

I meet with the producer to discuss photos.  Then we meet again to actually take the pictures.  Fixers will arrange for a space - a sort of gallery event - to display large copies of the pictures.  I can invite various people along - like family and friends, as well as representatives of Crew 2000Autism Initiatives and Number 6?  Some other people will be invited along by Fixers.  At this event, at some point, I will be given a platform in which to talk to everyone and generally tell the story of how it all came about.  The space could be the old Forest Cafe, if it's possible to get that building.  But if not, then anther building that has been empty and is a little run-down for some time.

If I've got that broadly right, then I'm definitely excited.  And I'd also like to ask - could the space be available for a little while?  It would be good to have time to get everything set up and to welcome in random passers-by as well as people who have been invited.  So it would be really good if it could be available for more than just the one night.

I'm going to create a dropbox folder with the pictures I took of the Forest Cafe and send you an invitation to view it.  Would you mind forwarding this email - and the dropbox invitation - to the producer?

Thank you.

Graham

Rik Mayall


Another one of my heroes just died.  I've followed Rik Mayall - sporadically - since I was a teenager. The best thing I ever saw star in was The new statesman and I always hoped he'd reprise the role of Alan B'Stard.

It's a sad week.

But you know what?  Fuck that.  In the entire history of Blackadder, his contribution probably didn't even add up to ten minutes - but he stole them.

So let's watch him in his finest ever role...

video




Thursday, 5 June 2014

Kobi and the Producer


The meeting with Kobi and his Producer was interesting, today.  We took the promotion concept into an entirely different direction.  Kobi warned the producer that I had some strong ideas of my own, and I think he said I might be difficult to steer in alternative directions, but I've been flexible from the very start.  It's the message that's important - not the way it's delivered.

So when the Producer (I've forgotten his name) came up with his suggestions, I was initially sceptical, but quickly persuaded.  At first I didn't really get the logistics of it, but the more it was clarified, the more enthusiastic I became.  This is a much, much better idea.

As I understand it - and I might have some of the specifics slightly wrong - we're going to get some still photographs, rather than video.  The pictures are going to tell the story of the last few years.  Massage therapist, car crash, autism diagnosis - leading up to me running the hen night business.  They'll be printed up and put into a display; ideally in an empty building that's been temporarily "reclaimed".  Apparently Edinburgh City Council has some sort of initiative or programme or something to support this kind of thing.

There will be an event.  People will be invited and I'll be there to tell my story, too.  I'll give a talk about everything.  It'll be an opportunity to prove that I can do the public speaking that I really want to get into.

After a while, I remembered the old Forest Cafe.  The original building that's just off Bristo Square.  There was a time I wanted to set it up as a business premises and run things from there.  A cafe or coffee shop downstairs and the art classes upstairs.  One business could promote the other.  Even if I got a partner; someone who would run everything downstairs, while I had dominion upstairs.  I could set it up as a gallery to showcase my own pictures and I could rent it out for yoga classes and various other events.  I had some grand ideas until I did some checking and discovered that the annual rent for the building was a full zero bigger than the highest realistic figure I had anticipated.

So, now I'm lusting after the Forest Cafe.  I really hope they can get it.  It would be an amazing place to hold that event, even if I never set foot in it again, after that.