Posted in Neurodiverse, Problems

When I Can’t Find Words

When I can’t find my words,—when Chase can’t find his words—it’s not so much that I think we suffer from selective mutism, as it makes me think about other disorders that may or may not share neurological processes with the mysteries I’m trying to solve about our brains… and that puts selective mutism on my radar.

Once Upon a Time 💙 Finger Pointing

I babysat a child on the autism spectrum when I was a child. I was six to eight years older than him—I don’t remember the age gap exactly—and I marveled at he dragged at everyone around the house, pointing when he wanted something. Yet I’d heard him talk. I knew he could. I knew, in just the right environment, he could string a sentence together. I also knew we shared a common developmental challenge, even it was manifesting in completely different ways, even if I’d have to wait another two decades for my diagnosis, even then.

Watching Right Now 💜 Selective Mutism

I really do identify with a lot of this, although I still don’t think I have selective mutism; I just have autism, and through that lens, am feeling interconnected to the topic, recognizing patterns.

Quote Response 💙 Similar, But Different

Here are the two parts that get me, @0:3:58:

Selective mutism comes from an intense internal anxiety which leads us to feeling like we actually cannot speak. We’ll want to, we’ll have so much to say, and we literally, physically cannot.

…and then again, @4:48:

It’s an inability to speak due to intense internal anxiety.

This describes exactly how I feel when I’m having {tooltip}an autistic shutdown.{end-text}Not when I’m having a meltdown, mind you; if I’m angry, I only have one thought on my brain: HOW DO I CALM DOWN. WHAT IS IN MY WAY.{end-tool} When people talk to me, and I can’t reply, yet they can’t see I can’t reply, so they continue to ask the question, but in different ways, I moan to drown out the noise, because it makes the anxiety worse, and by the time the anxiety has multiplied with enough layers of intensity that I’m curled in a fetal position on the ground, my chest is tight as a rock, my throat is straining, I’m struggling to breathe, I cannot think in more than two or three words at a time, everything is vibrant with color, everything, my emotions and numbers and time and you and me, and my head hurts a lot—like, a whole lot.

A few times, when I was having panic attacks at McLane, I grabbed a pen to write words down, as the bursts came to me, because I could not speak, even if my life depended on it, which in my darkest hours, it often felt like it did.

I am very grateful that facet of my depression has died down in severity, where I am happy again, yet I still feel like at any moment, the sky will fall; in this place, I know I can focus on my anxiety more, which means I know I can make it through the rest of the Great Filters that lie ahead.

Watching Right Now 💜 Great Filter

I am really jazzed at this idea. I love exploring with the thought experiments around the Great Filters. It soothes me.
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Posted in Prelude, Projects

Trip to AWP LA 2016, Part II

Yesterday, I revised an old post from my trip to AWP LA ’16, a time capsule from graduate school. 💊 Today and tomorrow, I’ll continue that narrative…

I was a good student. I took a lot of notes back then! 😉

Quote Response 💜 Embracing a Poetics of Joy

The moderator, Lisa Dordal, had simply breath-taking arguments about why we should find joy in our writing, which speaks to the same message Liz Gilbert makes in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear when she tells this love story:

My friend, Dr. Robin, is a botanist and author who teaches botany…her students are all fervent young environmentalists…before they can get down to the business of world-saving though, my friend Robin asks them these two questions:

The first question is, Do you love nature?

Every hand in the room goes up.

The second question is, Do you believe nature loves you in return?

Every hand in the room goes down.

At which point, Robin says, Then we have a problem already.

Gilbert urges us readers,(us creative people,) we must love our creativity, and our creativity must love us; to put it another way, that we must love writing, and our writing must love us—or our dancing, or whatever we spend our time creating.

Then Gilbert warns us that “trusting in nothing but suffering is a dangerous path,” that “suffering has a reputation for killing off artists,” that “even when it doesn’t kill them, an addiction to pain can sometimes throw artists into such severe mental disorder that they stop working at all.”

After those urgings, Gilbert quotes Oscar Wilde’s description of the writerly experience as “one long lovely suicide,” to which she confides, “I adore Wilde, but I have trouble seeing suicide as lovely, I have trouble seeing any of this anguish…as lovely.”

Similarly, Dordal told her AWP audience to love curiosity, saying, “No one can take my curiosity away from me,” and “I never expect anything from my curiosity,” but “I’m never going to get rejected by my curiosity;” all quotes that are rather interchangeable with many of Gilbert’s approaches towards creativity. Dordal also praised how curiosity brings joy to her while she’s writing her poetry, then she said:

Writing poetry heals loneliness… It brings us to this feeling of transcendence, feeling of creation… It brings us to shared human history.

In this way, she suggested spiritual joy we receive from poetry, writing, art, et cetera, as a transcendental elevation; and curiosity takes us down that path, towards our spirit.

That was just the beginning of the panel.

I’ll blog later about what Ellen Bass, Traci Brimhall, and Jericho Brown shared on the poetics of joy. I could write about this for several more hours; this was my favorite panel in quite some time.But since I have way too many notes to transcribe, too many comments to add, too many buried emotions that surface with the transcribing and the adding, I’ll wayside those thoughts until I return to Fresno.

Listing ❤ The Author as Entrepreneur

I was way too hungry to attend this panel; the poetics of joy went over the allotted time, then I had to cross the West Wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center to get to this presentation. When you’re small and hungry, the West Wing of the L.A. Convention Center is no small feat.

So I didn’t take the notes that this panel deserved.

But I made it to the panel at least, and I had the good fortune to listen to the advice from The Authors Guild, made up of the panel moderator and some contributors. Notes:

  • Social media is useful, as usual; Twitter, Instagram, and Pintrest recommended;
  • is a good place to submit writing to build an audience, following, traffic;
  • Be careful with your rights when you get a book contract; and even if you give away rights in your contract, such as audiobooks, translations, and movie deals, you can include a stipulation that the publishing house forfeit those rights if they don’t use them in XYZ years, so be proactive about including these CYAs;
  • When changed the value of the book to the reading public, the Fair Contract Initiative sprang into being as a massive CYA for authors;
  • Publishers squeeze authors only because they’re also being squeezed; having this empathy is nice, so long as you don’t get over-squeezed in the process;
  • Approach book publication as a business person;
  • If your book ends up in the forays of Hollywood studios, don’t get your hopes up, because it can fall through anywhere, from producers to screenwriters and so on;
  • Don’t offer to write your book’s screenplay; it’s a different art form, for a different artist;
  • When you get your book rights back, (and hopefully you do,) (copyright is ugly,) self publishing is an option; and there’s no harm in sending that self-published e-book of your old book as a gift to your e-mail subscribers;
  • It’s a great idea to have e-mail subscribers that you contact monthly;
  • You should have a platform building up, a readership, people who will support you, spread the word about your book, love you forever, and you can do this lots of ways, including the first bullet point about social media, or, hey, a blog.

I wish I had more notes this. I did jot down to check out Michelle Richmond’s website later. She was one of the panelists.
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Posted in Prelude, Projects

Trip to AWP LA 2016, Part I

The post below is from years ago, when I using this blog to take notes on my experiences in graduate school. It’s been a long time since I’ve attended a writer’s conference… I wouldn’t mind going to one next year.

This year though, our focus is on the wedding, and I imagine next year, it’ll be on adding another primate to our family.

I’m hoping I’ll revive more of my old posts in the future. I have 100+ of them cataloged, waiting for review.Every time I do a {tooltip}major site revamp{end-text}(like the one in January 18), I flip all my posts to review as part of my blog clean-up…and I’ve never gone back to do the cleaning part. Oops.{end-tooltip}

Once Upon a Time 💕 AWP LA ’16

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference happened in Los Angeles in 2016.I’m in attendance. But I missed Wednesday and Thursday because I had to teach; also, I went to a printmaking critique.

I kind of like that I arrived late. When I went to my first AWP,  back in Seattle, I was tuckered out by Friday.This time, I’m not so exhausted. This makes Friday and Saturday all the lovelier.

But after missing the Thursday panels, I decided I had to go to a panel for every. time. slot.(Sans the 9AM slot. I don’t like waking up early.)

Listing 💙 Today’s Itinerary

  • 10:30AM-11:45AM – Fulbright Grants in Creative Writing
  • 12:00noon-1:15PM – Embracing a Poetics of Joy
  • 1:30PM-2:45PM – The Author as Entrepreneur
  • 3:00PM-4:00PM – Yoga for Writers
  • 4:30PM-5:45PM – Philip Levine Prize Winners

Compliment Sandwich 🖤 Los Angeles

As I was trying to work the kiosk on the public bus,(I haven’t looked at a pay kiosk on a Southern California or Central California bus in ten years,) I told the bus driver, “I’m not from around here,” which was an odd way for me to say, “This crazy metallic gizmo doesn’t operate the way it did when I was younger.”

Then the bus driver looked up at me and harrumphed, “I know,” like what I actually said was, “I’m not from around here.”

I’ve never liked Los Angeles.I know, I know. But for me, Los Angeles is like that ornery big brother of Orange County. I was born in Orange. When I think Southern California, I think of Fullerton, Anaheim,…not Hollywood and Greater L.A.

Even though I know Los Angeles is the true, world-renown, over-populated heart of Southern California,(and not really Orange County,) (and not really San Diego), all I see is the dilapidated north side of my stomping grounds.

And I struggle with seeing Los Angeles as-is—which, for many people, is this vastly spanning historic site of architectural and cultural significance—; I have a hard time giving Los Angeles a chance to open its arms, breathe, and establish its identity beyond the biases I’ve already developed.…at E3s, at trying to drive from Fresno to Anaheim without Los Angeles traffic wrecking the operation, at the time I visited an old friend at UCLA and could not find a parking spot to save my life.

I’m not from L.A. Not at all.

But I can appreciate how super-urban people could dig it here. I can see how everything so compactly congested, sometimes layering businesses atop businesses…and atop more businesses… just to make it all fit—to many, this is charm.

Listing 💙 Fulbright Grants

I almost went to a reading that was also happening at 10:30AM, “The Chapbook Across Genres,” because I just love cross-genre work—and also, I love chapbooks—but my gut told me I wanted to learn more about Fulbright.I’d looked into a Fulbright grant before, for studying in Ireland, yet I shied away at that familiar feeling of the unknown, the undertaking, the unfathomable. (See: misguided fears of Los Angeles.)

Thanks to the panelists, including poet and hybrid writer Robert Strong, Janet Holmes from Anhinga Press and Boise State, Oonya Kempadoo, Michael Larson, and Nathan Goldstone, my hesitance about Fulbright is dispelled.(Wait, were there that many people on that little stage? Because I was sitting on the floor, in the far back, where I couldn’t make out the tops of any heads.) I’m just not sure if I can dedicate myself to Fulbright anymore.

Maybe you can, though. Here are my scribbled notes:

  • You can call or e-mail Fulbright with questions;
  • It’s a good idea to make connections with the university you’ll be studying at; then that university can let Fulbright know they’d like to have you;
  • It’s okay if you’re in between universities, so long as you don’t have a PhD yet;
  • If you’re published, this proves you’re a professional; (I forget the context of this note, but I’ll throw it in there anyway;)
  • It’s fine if you’ve never been to the country before (they like this, even,) but the Fulbright listing says it requires a foreign language, you best know the foreign language enough to take care of yourself;
  • Competition for applications vary by country (some countries requested two students and only received one application, while others could have a hundred applications for two spots,) and finalists for those competitions are notified in January, with results for each country trickling in by spring;
  • Don’t propose multiple projects to them; if you’re applying via project, you should have one distinct project, and this country should be relevant to that project’s completion;
  • Some countries have accommodations for family and children; varies by listing.
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