Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Autism camp, 2010: day two

When I began this camp back in 1996, the campers of that summer decided on the names of their groups. Four groups, divided roughly by age, anointed themselves Wild Dogs, HellCats, Savage Beasts, and Bloodthirsty Cannibals. I've worked with kids for lots of years and am always delighted at the names they come up with when they are given the liberty to do so. In another life as a gymnastics coach, I remember my youngest, sweetest, daintiest little girls naming themselves Vandals and Cockroaches and so forth. But I digress. I've kept the names over the years and this summer's kids seem to relish them as much as the original kids ( some of whom are still attending!). This summer, the Wild Dogs are my youngest, ages 3-6; the Hellcats are next, ages 7-10/11; the Savage Beasts are next, ages 11-14/15; and the Bloodthirsty Cannibals are the oldest, ages 15 - 26. The original Cannibals had a typically warped- and accurate-Aspergers' sense of humour, and chose the name because of how many biters were in the group.

Today's anecdote comes out of the Hellcats. Two little fellas decided to turn the tables on the wasps who have been ferocious and plentiful this summer and set about to capture one. They proceeded to torture it and then, tiring of toying with it, squashed it under foot and then got down for a closer inspection of its little corpse. Fascinated with how the squishy organs were strewn about, they suddenly announced: its body is dead but its brain is alive. And insisted that anyone passing by drop down to take a CLOSER look at the vibrating brain.... at least they think it's the brain. No matter; these little dudes are developing their necrophiliac tendencies while one of my older gals, a 20 year old who is EXTREMELY tactile aggressive ( read: craves intense sensations) swallowed a wasp. Live. For a gal who takes her time with everything else, she has amazing reflexes where her tactile needs are concerned. And it could be, she takes her responsibilities to her group name seriously.

Hopefully, the wasps have a decent communication system. I 'm betting on my kids.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Autism camp, 2010; Day One

... and at the end of the day, we counted:
five bites
three hair pulls ( one of them an armpit hair... yeowww!)
one errant smooch
two punches
one head butt
one shameless boob grab
one crafty testicle squeeze
four kicks
six beauty tantrums
two spectacular masturbation episodes ( discretely and gently re-directed)
four bloodcurdling shrieks
NO poop in the pool ( whoo hoo !!)

two relaxed bus rides
one totally fun swim
dozens of remarkable conversations
hundreds of memorable interactions
hours of physical activity and play
a thousand moments of wonder and insight
one day of firsts
one hell of a learning experience
62 tired & ( reasonably ) happy campers
60 exhausted and ( reasonably) fulfilled students and helpers
one grateful camp director
nothing we can't handle together
a deep respect for the absurd

onwards, through the fog

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The turtlehead

Mario recalls how he had willingly volunteered for this experience. He'd known what he was getting into... at least he'd thought he knew. His first week had been somewhat more difficult than he'd anticipated, but he'd adjusted, realizing that grunt work and dirty work and body work were tasks he didn't think he'd be doing but tasks that everyone was expected to do. So, he did them... he is doing them, and he figured he'd been pulling his weight. In spite of his long term commitments to kids with disabilities, this group was a tough group... high need, messy(especially with food and toileting), loud, uncooperative. The camp director had given him the look last week when he'd mentioned how much work these kids were. Of course they're lots of work, she'd said, they're autistic. I thought you knew that....

well, yes, he'd known that but he hadn't known what that meant, really; that he was going to be wiping noses and bums and helping kids get changed into and out of swimming attire and cleaning up spaces after the kids had blown through them. Thank goodness there were so many girls at camp... they were better at that stuff anyway.
He had decided to work with the older kids; who knew they would be worse than the little ones?! Four other guys were working with this older group, too. Pretty good bunch, Mario had to admit. They'd been around kids like this for years and seemed ok with all the snot and shit and mangled food and odd behaviours and noises... they even seemed to like the kids; they were patient and gentle. Mario remembered how he'd been impressed those first few days of camp.

Today had been a strange day so far. The other fellas had been in high spirits, lots of laughing and back slapping. He felt included today, like the guys were recognizing how hard he had been working, like they knew he had lots to offer; so, here in the boys' change room, he was unnerved by his awareness of his own growing unease. Everyone had been his usual efficient self, helping the kids dry off after swimming, getting the kids' stuff into their backpacks, doing the bathroom checks. So why was he, Mario, here with Jack, a tall, skinny, gawky, goofy 16 year old with a sweet smile and a finger pinch that could ( and, frequently, did ) draw blood? Why was Jack still naked, dripping wet and doing this strange little whiny groan and his own special version of the swirl and twirl dance? Mario suddenly notices he is alone in the change room with Jack. How has this happened? Mario is usually the one filling up the backpacks and getting them outside ready for the bus. Everyone seemed to appreciate this; yet, here he is, alone with Jack. Mario gets Jack dried off and gets going on getting him dressed and outta here. Jack is pawing at him and moving towards the toilets, pulling away from Mario's efforts to get him clothed. Oh, no... Mario is NOT going down the toilet road. Jack's got a pile of Depends and Mario is going to get one on him... right fucking now.
He calls out to his gang. Hey, fellas, I could use some help in here.
Keith, one of the guys, calls back. Sorry, man, we're totally busy out here; what's up?
Mario: Jack's heading for the toilets, he's starting to grunt and squat... I'm just trying to get a Depends on him...
Keith: sounds like he needs to go now, man; I'd say go for it.
Mario: awwww, shit, no... not that...
he grabs Jack around the upper chest. Jack's knees are still in the bent position and Mario's carrying him, kind of, moving randomly.... thinking, saying, over and over again, Shit, this is awful....
He glances down and around. Mario is frantic now. He yells: I'm trying to get him into the stall
Keith: he'll be ok once he gets in there.... he's quick once he gets started
Mario: I can see the turtlehead poking out ( he is screaming, desperate) ...Oh, god!!
he sprints to the stall, carrying Jack by the armpits. Jack is giggling madly, touching Mario's face and looking at him intently. Mario plops Jack down into a seated position on the toilet and steps into the next stall, puking while Jack is pooping.
Keith: stay in there with him, man, you don't want him playing with it....
Mario is horrified. Wipes his face. Dashes back into Jack's stall. Mario's all business now. He stands Jack up, does the paper work, gets him out into the change room, helps him into his clothes, giving soft encouragements, making sure his hair is tidy, wiping his nose.
Mario: put your stuff in the pack, Jack, and we'll get going.
Jack packs up his stuff, holds Mario's arm and they head for the exit just as Keith is hustling back into the corridor.
Keith: you ok?
Mario: I am now
Keith nods and pats Mario on the shoulder. You did good, he says.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fair Warning

so, it's that time of year again..... in a couple of weeks my autism camp that's been running every summer since 1996 is back in all its glory.

last summer I did a little series on some of the characters and events that are so much a part of what makes this experience the funny, sad and human experience that it is; this summer I'd like to give that another go. I realize that autism is not everyone's cup of tea as an interest area, so I will also work at making the stories and descriptions something that can be appreciated as glimpses of what is sweet, poignant and meaningful in the every day, mundane world of summer autism camp.

thanks for reading and here's hoping I can do these kids a bit of justice.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Truism (?)

good work

Thursday, August 12, 2010

the devil is in the details

As the daughter of a mechanic, schooled by my father in his ongoing mantras on the geneology of torque, independent suspension and combustion, I should have known better.
You know that slow, sluggish can't even get the chug finished sound that a car makes when it barely has a hope in hell of starting and then, miraculously, it does start, tentatively... you know the sound I mean? that sound that a sane person pays attention to? I should have known when I heard that sound that the trip was doomed. But, hey, the car started, so who was I to argue with karma like that?

I should have known that even though the car started just fine after I filled it up with gas not a block from my house that this was just a tease, a way to lull me into an even deeper sense of false security. I should have been alerted by the prayers and appeals to any deity who would listen that I was not quite as confident in this mission as I was pretending.

I should have known when I got to the highway outside the city and saw the wait times posted for going over the bridge to the U.S that now is the time to turn around, no harm no foul. It is definitely too late to turn around when one is on the bridge.

I should have known that sitting at a stop and go idle for over 45 minutes on the bridge on a day with 100% humidity and blazing heat would place undue stress on an already diagnosed terminally ill alternator ... and did I mention that this same alternator had been sounding like a vacuum cleaner for about a week or so??

I should have known that even though I made it over the border and got the must have them now items at our US mailbox that the awful sound the car made when it ( finally ) started up again was simply a harbinger of the death throes of an electrical system long since exhausted by time, miles and (apparently) abject stupidity.

I should have known that the 40 minute wait on the way back was the last straw and that the moment when every light on my dash board was flashing was the beginning of the end. The surge of panic I felt was matched only by the adrenalin rush accompanying my mind's eye vision of my pathetic self attempting to steer with my arms wrapped around the airbag ( yes, that light was flashing too....).

I should have known that when the speedometer needle and the odometer needle did a tandem swift last gasp sweep to maximum and then a fall to zero that the next thing I felt would be .... nothing. Nothing. Eerie as hell, feeling the life of a thing go out while one is enclosed in the belly of the beast that is dying.

I should have known that even though the momentum was enough to get me to the side of the road so I could pull over safely, that thanks to the marvels of the car's touch of a button seat adjustment, that no one taller than a dwarf would be able to get into the driver's side of this car if I ever had the good fortune to be rescued.

I should have known that the person on the other end of the line at my C.A.A. 1800 save my ass phone call would have no idea how to describe my location to the fella in the tow truck that they sent to get me, and I should have known that my cell phone would run out of battery juice as soon as my save my ass phone call was made.

so, yeah, I should have known better.

Upshot is, the fella in the tow truck was a mechanic who knew how to keep his eyes peeled for stranded vehicles and he found me after not too long a wait. I had a good book to keep me company, and a cool breeze appeared out of nowhere while I was waiting, and the tow truck had air conditioning and the drive to the shop was painless, one might even say pleasant.

and the moral?
well, the devil is in the details, and you've already read the moral.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

there's a story there.....

and the moral of the story is :
when your car sounds like a vacuum cleaner, DO NOT drive it a distance that will require roadside assistance ... from a tow truck!

( sigh)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Somewhat oblique

seeing the desperate core
of who I am
at the heart of my strangeness
you ask(ed)
would you want to change
( it)
I suppose
I don't
when I am human
I cannot examine myself
as human
a dilemma of finding
to say the (in)between(s)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mindfulness meditation

Sometimes, turmoil is a great teacher. Sometimes.
Sometimes, slowing down and taking a long, hard look is the next right thing. Sometimes.
Sometimes, you just have to be alone with your own thoughts. Sometimes.
Sometimes, you just have to sit there and hurt. Sometimes.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

not seeking, not expecting
can you be present and welcome all things ?