Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Asperger Mind Makes Art

My education is in geology, but I do not work in the field, rather, my appreciation for 'how the world works' is expressed through photography. I am fascinated by manmade objects being broken down (or not) by the desert climate, and most significantly, by the effects of wind that scours the landscape and by patterns generated by the freeze-thaw cycle. The desert remains a wilderness despite generations of human occupation; old dumps, although covered, have been exposed by natural forces.
     The photographs begin as color photos, which I then manipulate in the computer. My desire to make art began very early, but I had no dexterity - what I saw in my mind was impossible to create on paper. I worked as an advertising designer for many years, but could not draw a damn thing! I got around the problem by creating collages. Photography allows me to show what I see without the physical need to manipulate materials.

Top photo: the coils of an old box springs.
Left: Children's hand prints in paint on the side of a house.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


The absolutely most true and hysterical video of what it's like to be an Asperger forced to deal with Neurotypicals.

Childhood: A Female Asberger Mystery

My relationship to my own childhood is sketchy; I think it must be due to being Asperger, because most of the people I know remember almost everything that ever happened to them, and to friends and family. I remember pictures, as if I had stopped once in a while to take a snapshot of what happened, but then left the images behind. The image is the memory. Read more: Post 6/25   
Trying to Remember My Mother.

Months ago I assigned myself the task of remembering good things about my mother. Ours was an unhappy relationship, and my first attempt resulted in an image of glass bottles on a window sill. Some were filled with colored water; a few had marbles in them, but I may have added the marbles just now. My imagination inserts objects with similar physical qualities into my memories, a habit that has caused the family to accuse me of lying.
     Weeks later, the image of bottles filled with colored water remained the sole entry on the "Good things about my mother" list, so I tried again, but instead of a touching scene of her doing something motherly, a vivid yellow shoe intruded. The leather was shiny and smooth. Unless I’m lying again, these shoes refer to a Polaroid taken of me as I walked across a polished gym floor between rows of folding metal chairs during eighth grade graduation. The yellow pumps matched a sleeveless dress; a yellow band held back my hair, which had been done up at a beauty salon in a style that advanced my apparent age from thirteen to about twenty-seven. Pointy black eyeglasses exposed a nerdy streak. My recall of this event, and indeed of that year, begins and ends with this photograph, which may or may not exist.
     A second pair of shoes then popped into mind: sturdy leather loafers accented with brass buckles, easily identified as those that were purchased for my freshman year in high school. During winter I changed to snow boots for the trek to and from school and carried my shoes. One afternoon a single loafer vanished, and despite retracing the route back to school and home again, the shoe was lost, even though it had to be somewhere. I had chosen the loafers myself, but discovered that I didn’t like them much, so it’s possible that the shoe accidentally-on-purpose dropped out of my life, but that could be my mother talking.
     One spring day during junior year, my best friend and I decided to walk to Chicago, about fifteen miles distant from our town. I wore a beautiful pair of boots made from thin buttery leather, lined with elastic, which left no room for socks. Within the first mile multiple blisters swelled and popped, but had I stopped to inspect the damage, I wouldn’t have been able to get the boots on again. Regardless, my friend and I made the city without incident and recorded our excursion at a subway photo booth, which I know is true, since my friend has the pictures.
    We took a train home; neither of us could have walked the last two miles. Our faces were black from auto fumes and our raccoon eyes were a giveaway that we had been up to something. When my mother picked us up she only commented on how dirty we were. At home I locked myself in the bathroom and peeled away my beautiful glove-tight boots. One toenail came off and I swabbed the blisters with mercurochrome, but my blazing orange feet drew no notice. My parents ignored me; I thought it was because they trusted my judgment, but in truth, they didn’t want to know anything that might upset them. Of course, I could be lying.

     It was beginning to look as if good memories of my mother either didn’t exist, or were weirdly inaccessible, so I switched to searching for instances when my mother was happy, but I’m not sure she ever was. Everything she said sounded like, “I’m broken. Fix me.” 
My mother's ideal woman, Zsa Zsa Gabor. For an Asperger girl, this female model was terrifying and soul killing.

My mother was always on the hunt for shoes, and our arrival in any shoe department was a dark day for the clerk. Stacks and stacks of boxes holding pumps or sling backs were brought forth, but none fit. My mother was a Cinderella for whom no shoe was good enough and she delighted in the fiction that her feet were impossibly unique, even though stores always had a selection in her size. No matter which pair of shoes she purchased, by the time we got home they hurt her feet; her closet floor was a mosaic of wasted cow hides. Perversely (from her point of view), my feet found satisfaction everywhere. Any style of boot or shoe would do, which reminds me of a pair of blue boots I once owned. All I can say is that I wish I still had those boots.
     My mother saw this democratic aspect of my anatomy as an indictment of commonness, which she reinforced with cutting questions such as, “Why is it that only the wrong type of men look at you?” The truth was that I was young and pretty and men looked at me, but it could be that I was a she-devil and didn't know it.
     One twenty-something birthday my mother sent a pair of Jesus sandals as a gift. These articles of 1st Century torture were clearly marked two sizes smaller than the size I had worn since I was twelve. Mom was one of those gift-givers who require that unwanted items be returned to her, so I phoned to say that the sandals were in the mail.  She became furious, and then pathetically hurt, which is what one expects of a tyrant. She insisted that the sandals weren’t too small, my feet were too big. She had gotten them at a clearance sale and could not return them. Couldn't I squeeze my feet into them if I really tried? Refusing to try  meant that I didn't love her. Besides, I had to be lying about my shoe size, since I lied about everything.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lifestyles that may have appealed to Aspies...

...and which also provided protection from the 'Wrong Planet' social predicament.

In the Middle Ages some children were 'packed off' to a monastery at an early age; a few may have been Asperger 'problems' who fit in well with simple rules and routines, and who were oriented to intellectual pursuits and isolation. Many early and important scientists were indeed monks. Female Aspergers may have found refuge as nuns, but others were likely burned as witches or otherwise disposed of. 

"I don't want to live that way." - Krishnamurti

Nature requires that we support ourselves and our children, but nowhere can it be shown that the social version of 'being human' is correct or wise or healthy for any individual or family. The 'socially normal' have no scientific basis by which to dictate how we express our humanity. In fact, the social hierarchy creates misery by denying food, clean water and shelter for millions of people; by polluting the environment, stealing resources, and bringing plants and wildlife to extinction. The Pharaohs of today care nothing for humanity, the planet or its future. This exploitation and careless destruction of all that is worthwhile on this planet, goes against the Asperger core: life matters.