Monday, July 28, 2014

All the things I wish I could say

It's hard sometimes for me to explain myself.  
Depending on the situation, I can talk up a storm. Even writing things down, like this blog, I can get to the nitty-gritty and sound perfectly intelligent and witty and urbane and all the other fun exciting things a good blogger is supposed to sound like.

And then my overactive brain starts to get distracted, and I wander off-topic, or I have so many things to say all at once that I don't know what to say next. Like this blog. I fear I've confused some people.

Sometimes I have no filters.

Because it's very important to me that people understand.  Unfortunately, that will never be the case.  Some people understand because they know me - family (sometimes), intimate friends (I have about three of those since David's death), and possibly other people who might come across me and get my - quirks - foibles - idiosyncrasies - weirdness - from either experiencing them or it's their professional opinion. 

Meanwhile, I have so many things to share that sometimes it all just comes out a jumble.

I am an explosion in a paint box.

That's what David used to say. I miss him. He was a master of linear thinking - he could take everything I spewed forth and make it sound like I was a genius.  I have no doubt that I'm extremely intelligent - I just need someone to help me sound like it.  

David used to also tell me it was his job to take all the random post-it notes in my head that I've tossed into a cardboard box, and turn it upside-down on the table and organize it for me.  You can't imagine what it was like to finally have someone who not only understood but celebrated my short attention span.

I am not trying to excuse who I am.

But I wish I was brave enough to ask for accommodation from the people around me. To me, if I try to explain that large crowds are scary, even if it's meet-and-greet every Sunday morning at church - it comes out sounding like an excuse for being anti-social and arrogant.

There are so many things I know about myself that come across as arrogant or silly or selfish or pathetic, when they aren't really.  They're just who I am, and I need to remember that God made me this way and I don't have to make excuses.

There is nothing more frustrating than knowing exactly what needs to be done and being incapable of doing it.

The Apostle Paul said something similar in Romans 7:15 - "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but do the very thing I hate." RSV. He was talking about sin, and sometimes I feel like all my quirkiness (and isn't that a nice word for it) is actually sinful because I'm not like "normal" Christians.  

I see other people going through many of the same struggles, or even worse ones - and they seem to be able to keep believing, keep hoping, keep knowing that God is directing their lives. I want that.

I want to be like everyone else sometimes.

I'd love to be able to sit around a table with people at church at a Sunday luncheon and carry on a real conversation. I'd love to be able to make phone calls. I'd love to be able to interact casually with other people. I wish I could express my faith in such a way as people don't doubt God but see Him.

It's not going to happen. I'm over 50 years old and that's just not the way I'm wired.

But God . . .

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." 1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV. 

I-yam-what-I-yam sez Popeye the Sailor.

I wonder sometimes if Paul wasn't a bit on the Autistic side of things.  Of all the Biblical people I want to meet when I get to heaven, Paul is the one I'd like to talk to first and longest.  He's such a sympathetic personality.  He seemed to have all the quirks I see in myself, plus the intelligence and wherewithal to commit his words to paper and have people understand him.  

I long for that.

One body, but which part am I?

"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many." 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NIV.

The same God, everyone different. Not one part more important or smarter or quirkier than any other part. I wish I could explain it so people wouldn't think I was making excuses for my behavior. Sinful I am, but so are you. Quirky I am, but why be normal when quirky can be so much more fun? Full of doubts and crying out for mercy as I strive to be faithful - we are all that. 

One body, many parts, God Almighty who perfectly loves us as individuals and as His people. It's never easy for me, but God never said easy - He said faithful.

Just as a P.S. to anyone interested . . . 

Here is someone who is certainly better at expressing herself than I'll ever be:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Asperger's and Self-Diagnosis

From the Blog "Asperger's and the Alien"

Prepare to enter the wild and woolly world of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by intelligence, quirks, social difficulties and downright strange and oddish behaviors. 

People with Asperger's generally are high functioning in everyday life but have great difficulty connecting with others due to the inability to read faces, body language and subtle verbal clues. They also tend to take words literally and have a hard time multitasking. 

Oversensitivity to touch (clothing has to be soft and often the tags removed), light (do not leave home without the sunglasses), sound (loud noises and noisy places are avoided), taste (many Aspies have quite a limited diet and are frequently very picky eaters) and smells makes the everyday existence more of a challenge. 

Fasten your seatbelts and come on in... 

From the Blog "Life On The"

Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome

These are a collection of symptoms from an Aspie’s perspective. For a a list of more medical definitions, see The Triad of Impairments and there’s a page of tips if you Think You Might Have Asperger’s Syndrome.

  • People greet you by saying “here comes trouble” and you don’t know whether or not they’re joking.
  • You scare off new friends by becoming obsessed with them.
  • People call you “sad” for being interested in interesting stuff.
  • You try to help someone, only to find your help wasn't wanted.
  • You hear a lot about how “you’re only making things worse for yourself”.
  • You don’t understand what’s so funny about teasing. You feel you’re being mocked.
  • You are exhausted by always pretending to be normal, but fearful the Real You will be rejected.
  • You hope, with each new group of people you meet, that this time you’ll get it right.
  • You laugh later, and more loudly, than everyone else.
  • People say you speak too quickly, but you know you have to get the words out before you forget them.
  • You notice that after people have known you a while, they stop asking how you are.
  • You’re the only person wanting the music turned down.
  • You forget to eat.
  • Others get annoyed b/c you write down/read back details of appointments to be sure you got it right.
  • You find yourself unable to explain something without giving the whole back story too.
  • You can cope with a party, but have to hide in the loo to recover every now and then.
  • You see other people exchange “a look” but don’t know what it means.
  • You like to hide away on your own, especially after spending time with other people.
  • You find it hard to work out what will happen next, particularly if people are involved.
  • You don’t instinctively know when you’re being teased.
  • You organize things: from smarties to your DVD collection… everything’s in order. Or not!
  • You load the dishwasher the same way every time… and redo it if someone does it differently.
  • People think you have no sense of humor. (They’re wrong, but that’s what they think!)
  • Your senses seem to be more sensitive than other people’s.
  • It’s “always you”.
  • Other people think you’re being intolerant, and you can’t understand how they cope.
  • You feel “different” from most people, and feel that you don’t “fit in”.
  • You are so passionate about your hobby/sport/interest that you lose track of time.
  • You’re always the last to get the joke!
  • You were bullied at school, or college, or work.. and/or are still being bullied.
  • People think you’re being rude and/or critical when you’re not meaning to be.
From the Blog "My Noisy Life"

Oh, this is me.

I know some people think I'm hopping on the bandwagon because my granddaughter was diagnosed last year - this is not the case.  It is because she was diagnosed that I started researching Asperger's in order to be the best grandma I can be.

And then I recognized myself.

I lost my job yesterday.  It was coming - I have been trying to find alternatives to working in a group setting for a long time, but this was rather abrupt and, while not devastating, still somewhat frightening as to my future.

However, I believe in the end I can't use Asperger's as an excuse.  I can only site it as a large part of the reason I'm not good with being in an office full of "normal" people.

I also think my relationship with the Lord has a lot to do with me being as "normal" as I appear to be.  Once you get to know me, you see the real me, but usually I can fake it in front of strangers and people who only know me as The Choir Director or Ainsley's Grandma or sometimes even The Job Interviewee.

I have decided that I will speak with my doctor and therapist about an actual diagnosis - but that doesn't mean my life begins and ends with that.  I have gone 52 years trying to figure out why I'm different, and compensating as much as possible with routines, notebooks, schedules and relying on God, and I will continue to do so.  But because it's been such a long time, an actual diagnosis will go quite a long way with helping me just feel better about myself.

You can agree or disagree - I'm trying hard to just be me.

(the quotes from the above blogs have been edited to correct spelling - because I am rather OCD as well!)

Monday, May 26, 2014

These Days

"One of these days the ground will drop out from beneath your feet
One of these days your heart will stop and play its final beat"

The radio is playing all of David's songs this morning as I try to bake cupcakes and make pico de gallo to take to my son's barbecue this afternoon.

"One of these days the clocks will stop and time won't mean a thing
One of these days their bombs will drop and silence everything"

I never used to believe in the idea of soul mates.  I watched my mother and dad sleep in separate rooms for years before she finally left to "find herself" and dragged us along with her.  And the man I thought I'd grow old with decided a wife and children weren't worth the effort - I left before I gave up my sanity completely trying to be the "good wife."

"But it's alright
Yeah it's alright
I said it's alright"

I figured it wasn't worth it to try anymore - I was a mom, not a wife, and I focused on that for a long time. But the crushing loneliness took its toll.

"Easy for you to say
Your heart has never been broken
Your pride has never been stolen
Not yet not yet"

And then I met David.

We used to laugh at the naysayers - people who didn't really know us who thought we were crazy for carrying on a relationship from 5000 miles apart.  Family who knew me and only wanted to see me happy but didn't know David other than someone I talked about all the time.  

"One of these days
I bet your heart'll be broken
I bet your pride'll be stolen
I bet I bet I bet I bet
One of these days
One of these days"

When we first met, I was astounded that any man could be as generous and loving as he was.  It was out of my experience - and we had a bit of a time getting used to one another.  David never seemed overwhelmed, always said the right things at the right time, loved me completely and made me laugh all the time.  I still have trouble believing someone could love me as much as I loved him. 

David and I, Irish Catholic and California Protestant, loved the same God, and we considered each other as God's gifts to us.

"One of these days your eyes will close and pain will disappear
One of these days you will forget to hope and learn to fear"

I was trying to come to him at Christmas - it was his 50th birthday and I was going to meet his daughter in person for the first time, and I was going to insist on meeting the parents finally.  He was trying to get enough money together to come to California, where he was happy to learn to live with the hot weather and be a grandpa.

And then David was gone.

"One of these days your heart will stop and play its final beat"

It surprises me still that I can be going along, living my life the best I can, singing in the kitchen while I cook, planning fun things to do with my girls, griping about work - and then all of a sudden I break.

"Don't say it's alright
Don't say it's alright
Don't say it's alright"

I know God has a plan - I know this.  David was a part of it - and he's up there now telling me to keep strong and be faithful.  Some days are easier than others, and I'm not as weepy as a few months ago.  Between David and the Lord I have been and continue to be loved fully. 

Let me quote another song, one I learned as a child and remember when things overwhelm me:

"For I know whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that He is able
to keep that which I've committed 
unto Him against that day."

David always teased me about knowing all the "Proddy" hymns.  But I know how much he loved to hear me sing, and even though he's not here now, I will sing for God instead - and see David in heaven when my time comes.

"One of these days
One of these days
One of these days"


"These Days" - Foo Fighters 2011

"I Know Whom I Have Believed" - Daniel W. Whittle/James McGranahan 1883

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Post-Easter Reflections

Everyone who follows this knows it's been a very difficult year so far for me.  I lost My David on Christmas Eve and the aftermath of mourning has been a series of ups and downs as I try to understand God's plan and keep my temper at the people around me who think I should be done being sad.

It's getting easier, I hit a plateau in February, but March was completely off and April has been one stress after another.  Work, choir, grandbabies, Easter without David - I've been feeling rather sorry for myself.  

Fortunately, I do have people who love me.  I just have to believe that in my heart, even though I know it in my brain.

It's been 4 months since David died.  Sometimes I listen to recordings of his voice - we used to record Skype conversations sometimes and there's a message on my home phone answering machine from him that I will never erase.  

I miss my friend David. And Easter was his favorite time of year for some reason - he loved Lent and the contemplation of his life, the pageantry of the Stations of the Cross and the incredible story of the Resurrection.  

The Choir sang beautifully on Easter Sunday - only two songs, but the second one was a doozy and we got everyone clapping and cheering by the end.  I'm waiting to see if the video is posted on the church website - if there was a video - there usually is.

After spending the day before coloring eggs with my girls and hanging out with my oldest son and daughter (missing my younger daughter and son, who are busy with work) - my daughter Claudia spent the night with me and we took the girls to church on Sunday.  Everyone there was happy to see her after so long - she's busy with school and work and hasn't visited in a while.

After we took the girls home to John, Claudia took me out to lunch and we hung out for about two hours at the local international market - what a blast!  They had everything and anything you could ever want and I'm thinking I might go shopping there more often. Asian, European, Mexican, Russian - an almost endless array of goodies.

Claudia and I always have fun hanging out together - but I missed Clara being a part of it, because I know she would have loved it too.

And I miss My David.  He would have strolled through the store making rude comments about the frozen alligator legs and squids and chickens with their heads still attached.  David would have talked about Belgian chocolate, the array of vegetables he'd only heard about, and teased me about how I wanted to start cooking everything right away.

As much as I love my kids and hanging out with them in odd places, this would have been a great way to spend Easter with My David.

But God's got something else for me to do, and I only hope He can forgive me for missing David so much as I try to work toward whatever the Lord has in mind.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Adventures in Church Choir Directing

It is 10 days until Easter.  

I struggle with keeping things fresh with my choir.  At almost age 52, I'm actually one of the freshest of us there.  

David was supposed to be here to help me (and be my sound engineer), and we were going to "Rule The World" together.  I looked forward to introducing him to my church family, something he wasn't quite sure he understood, and to having someone in the tech deck who, as the Pastor put it, "got me."

They are a wonderful, loving, caring group of people who encourage me most of the time and put up with my expectations of choral greatness.  When my dad passed away in 2007, these people were my strength and singing was my outlet for grief.

When David died in December, they were all there again, telling me how much they loved me and allowing me my all-encompassing grief for a few weeks.

But I think I've done it again.  I've gotten my hopes up, raised my expectations too high and fear I am inadequate to the task of being the girl in charge.

I struggle with so many things in my life - the grief, the physical and mental exhaustion of trying to help keep some stability in my grandchildren's lives, the endless hours sitting at a desk doing nothing because I've already done it all before 10 am.

So when someone tonight told me that everyone was going to be looking at me on Easter, I simply stopped.

I was so excited about this music that I picked, and they were doing their best to learn it and make it sound like the real thing instead of a small church choir.  If David had been here, he would have put his wonderful ear, his instant recognition of what needed to be done, and his fingers to work on the sound board to make it sound great.

But everyone is going to be looking at me on Easter.

I am trying very hard to be my own champion since David is gone now.  Or, actually, I'm trying very hard to allow God to be my champion, which is what I should have been doing in the first place.

I don't want them to look at me at Easter.  I want them to look at God.  

I was hoping the music would allow that, bring the people to Him and Him to the people.  It's part of the reason why I accepted the choir director's position.

Meanwhile, I try to give the choir the chance to sing and do it well, and some nights are harder than others, but tonight everybody was looking at me.  

I love performing.  I love teaching.  I love directing.  I am excited by every new shiny thing that I can do or say or sing. 

But I don't want everyone to look at me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Skype and other messages from the dead.

I miss him.  There are so many things I want to tell him, get his feedback on, hear his voice sooth my tears. I know he's gone and I weep a little weep every now and then.  But when Skype tells me he's online, I can't help but wonder if he's playing tricks on me just to see me squirm.  He did that, you know.

Okay, I'm not superstitious, I don't believe in zodiac crap, the local psychic is just a charlatan.  I know in my heart that one of his family has turned on his computer and hasn't turned off Skype (log in when Windows starts).  

But David was full of mischief.  He kept me laughing for hours, partly because I loved to hear his voice and partly because he loved me as an audience.  His favorite things lately were a penchant to turn TV and movies into Irish - "CSI: Fethard"; Star Trek: The Wrath of Dougal; Star Wars with Jawas who were from Kilkenney.  

He was irreverent, smart and loved his fellow Irishmen with mixed emotions, but proud to be an Irishman and willing to fight anyone who thought he was "Briddish".  I loved him so very much and miss being with him on Skype every day.  

So I think the message from David is, "I love you, you're stronger than you think," and "This is only a computer glitch you silly cow!"  I love you too, My David.

Monday, January 27, 2014

My David

It's been just about a month since My David died unexpectedly. It gets a bit easier every day, but as someone lately put into words for me, I still feel very much alone. I cannot speak to him every day, I cannot run to him with my problems, I cannot laugh with him when I watch something stupid on the telly. 

 But I know he is with me in my heart, and stays alive through my memories and love. I wish I could still share my grandbabies, my kids and my choir directing with David, but God knows best and I'm sharing all of them with Him now. My love for David will never end, but my love for My Lord is even more eternal. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.