It's the fifth Tuesday of the month, so it's time for a Blast from the Past post. The one I picked this time was part of a 30 day blogging challenge I did back in 2012. I've learned a lot about myself since then, and some things have changed. So I thought I'd have a bit of fun with it and point out where I was way off base with a few things and whatnot.
New comments will be written in green. Everything else is from the original post from January 7, 2012.
Ha, another difficult post, but for very different reasons than yesterday's. I'm supposed to come up with thirty interesting facts about myself. I just don't think I'm that interesting, but we'll see what I can do.
1. I'm a musician. - Like a lot of fifth graders at Ardmore High School, I joined the band. I wanted to be a flutist, but when we went in to try the instruments, I was much more comfortable with the clarinet. Twenty years later, I still play. Though I haven't had a ensemble to play with since I last performed with Calhoun's Jazz Band in 2001. It did get me through the first couple years of college on scholarships though. Over the years I have picked up a bit on piano, though I'm awful at trying to read base clef let alone base and treble at the same time. I've also dabbled a bit with penny whistle and ocarina.
I did get the chance to participate in the alumni band for the school's 100th birthday back in 2017, so that was cool.
2. I can hear dog whistles and some muted electronics. - I get an abnormally good range for hearing high pitches from Mom's side of the family. Mom, my brother, and I all can hear certain dog whistles. The "normal" hearing range for humans is 85 Hz to 20 kHz. Mine is 100 Hz to 21.5 kHz. My guess is it's a way of balancing how very awful our vision is.
Nope. It's auditory hypersensitivity, one of my autistic traits. It can vary by the day, and just because I can hear a thing doesn't mean I can understand it because my auditory processing is slow and rather spotty. Too bad I didn't know this was a thing before 2017, or maybe I wouldn't have spent a couple of years thinking I was loosing my hearing.
3. I'm a black belt. - I took Wado Ryu, a traditional form of Okinawan Karate blended with Judo and bits of Akido for five years. I ended up having to leave in 2003 because of the damage done to my joints in various injuries and just wear and tear, but I do remember enough to be able to defend myself should I ever need.
I no longer feel confident in this. Plus, I'm getting old.
4. I had to learn to read upside down and in mirror image before I could read right side up. - I'm dyslexic and dysgraphic. I'm also one of the few dyslexics for whom reading upside down was easier when I was learning than reading right side up. I'm something of a whole word reader by necessity. Contextual clues tend to clear up any sequencing issues that crop up. It doesn't help with single letters though, especially if they're lower case.
5. I can't spell to save my life. - Like I just said, I'm dysgraphic. That means I can think something correctly, but I'll write or say it out of sequence. I spell by muscle memory, which works great for typing and decently enough for print. Cursive is the bane of my existence, though. Thank goodness for spell check, dictionaries, and proof readers!
Interesting note: This goes out the window when I am having a bad language processing day. Difficulty physically speaking, understanding speech, or word recall are the most noticeable symptoms of this particular trait, but I've discovered I tend to jumble letters when typing during these episodes just within the past two weeks. All the correct letters will be in the right words, but they're all out of order.
6. I always thought I'd be a scientist. - I've always been fascinated with the sciences. I grew up not thirty miles from an R & D town, and I have a talent for them up to a point. However, once math gets past trigonometry, quadruple or quintuple checking isn't enough. There are so many decimals and fractions that attempts to catch all my inversions just cause me to make more. (My dysgraphia is much worse with numbers than it is letters.) Plus, I get the shakes off an on, which isn't a good trait for a perspective biochemist.
7. I'm good with patterns. - You'd think I wouldn't given the sequencing issues inherent in dyslexia, but when it's not dealing with the written letters or numbers, the same malformation and compensatory rewiring that causes dyslexia can actually improve a person's spacial ability and the recognition of patterns. I catch them in speech, objects, music, and sometimes even events in an instinctual way. I'll latch onto them and follow them out to the conclusion without conscious thought. It's one reason I got high marks in English without trying in high school.
It's also pretty common in those with autism. Go figure.
8. On a related note, I'm a mimic. - This one can be a bit annoying and embarrassing actually. It happens most often with speech patterns. I'll pick them up and start mimicking them without meaning to, and I've even gotten stuck a time or two. For instance, I watched Braveheart years back and ended up getting stuck in a Scottish accent for most of a day afterward. It is helpful for writing dialogue, however.
Also known as mirroring, a common, often instinctive tactic used to mask autistic traits. It wasn't just accents. I'd copy body language, gestures, speech patterns, and adjust my apparent maturity depending on what group I was with at any given time. It's effective but exhausting, which looking back, explains why I'd spend the first two or three days of any school break in bed all through middle and high school.
It also explains why I burned out early into my college career, when I'd work through school breaks. No "recovery time" means stress just keeps building, after all.
9. I started writing fiction at 10. - I didn't just join the band in fifth grade; that's when I started writing fiction as well. Apparently I'd been creating characters and stories from toddlerdom, but this was when I first started to feel the urge to set them down and had enough confidence in my use of written words and reading to do so.
Stories and characters have always been a pet interest of mine. It's only been in the past year or two I've realized they've always been the main way I have understood the world and people around me, and they were the source from which I took my earliest scripts.
10. My inner ears are my least favorite body part. - As much as I might dislike my build or weight or complexion, it's my inner ears I'd most like to change. The canals are crooked, which leads to frequent inner ear infections. Plus, near constant infections have caused enough damage to destroy any sense of grace I might have ever had. Martial arts helped a bit, but I still have a very poor sense of balance.
I mean, maybe. It certainly hasn't helped. However, it's likely just the fact my vestibular and proprioceptive discriminatory responses are absolute garbage and always have been.
11. I used to be legally blind. - Legal blindness is vision of 200/20. When I graduated college my vision was 1000/20. My parents had my vision corrected as a college graduation gift since their insurance covered it if the person's vision was bad enough. Seven years later, I need reading glasses, but 35/20 is still a vast improvement!
It's more like 60/20 now, but still a VAST improvement over 1000/20.
12. I've tried writing just about every genre of fiction. - When I first started writing, I tried everything: poetry, horror, humor, mystery, general fiction, play writing, short stories, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Later on I did essays, articles, speeches, advertising copy, and even wrote a set of lyrics. I've even tried a bit of romance a time or two. What I learned is I'm absolute garbage for horror, humor, mystery, and general fiction. The few poems and the song lyrics were apparently flukes, and I'm too long winded for short stories.
I'm still not happy with most of my shorter works, but the Flash Fiction Friday series has helped a lot on this point.
13. I think in pictures. - I don't think it's a "photographic" memory. I can't read from the images I call up. Remembered pages are too out of focus for that, but color coding and bolding key words did make a huge difference in my college study habits. When I'm developing a story, I see it happening. When I'm working through a mechanical or chemical problem, I create a mental model then watch how the parts interact and move together. I remember faces like no one's business, but I have a hard time putting names to them.
I've learned how to improve with the names to faces thing, but it's not something I'm comfortable doing in most situations since I have to repeat their name out loud while recalling their face before I forget either one. However, unless I have some idea of a personality to "attach" said face to in my memory, neither will stick at all.
14. Right now, I have enough ideas for a full career. - In a few of my manic phases throughout high school and college, I would get absolutely flooded with ideas. I wrote them down. I have the bare bones of about fifteen or sixteen novels waiting their turn to be fleshed out. And those are just the ones that made the cut. There were just as many I ditched as I matured, and new ones are coming along all the time.
This one has me rolling my eyes at myself hard enough to hurt.
I am autistic and have co-morbid ADHD and dyslexia with side helpings of anxiety and depression thanks to 30+ years of ineffective coping mechanisms. I'm not bipolar. They weren't manic phases, simply times when the hyperactivity in ADHD kicked in for a few days here and there instead of just making me feel restless while exhausted like the majority of the time.
Oh, and it's more like 25 books now if you count the textbooks I've been working on.
15. I'm a huge mythology geek. - I love myths and legends. The Arthurian legends and Celtic and Greek Mythology are my favorites, but I usually can't turn any of them down when I come across them.
Spot the special interest. LOL!
16. I rather enjoy creating new fragrances. - I'm limited in when I can due to seasonal allergies, but when my sense of smell cooperates, I do enjoy blending fragrances. I've created nine original scents for Contented Comfort so far, and I had a blast doing it. I can't wait for my current cold to clear, so I can start working on a new line for the 2012 convention year.
17. I'm addicted to character studies. - It's sad really. I end up doing character studies of my own characters and particularly fascinating characters from series I've come across, especially if it's a new one.
Again, spot the special interest.
18. I'm a people watcher. - I used to be so quiet, people forgot I was there. I'd watch and listen. I still do, though I'm much more likely to strike up conversation myself these days if it's not an overly large crowd. The way people interact is fascinating. They communicate in ways they usually aren't even aware of: stance, tone, a flick of the eyes, it all flavors the conversation.
Yeah, this is how masks and scripts are built. Funny how even after years of reading body language and tone just a bit off and being "punished" for doing so, I thought I was way better at it than I actually was or am.
One of the things that seems contradictory about certain traits: the excessive attention to detail is often what derails the ability to correctly interpret these things. The instinctive reading of the "big picture" just isn't there, so everything gets analyzed. Then because certain details can be included in a range of emotions or tones or meanings, things get misread.
19. I'm a sociophobe. - I hate crowds. Big parties, family reunions, conventions, and expos scare me to death. I've literally had panic attacks at full family reunions. Albeit, my extended family is ginormous, but still. I'm hoping working the farmer's market and craft fairs will help with this. Otherwise, I'm going to be a wreck if I ever do make it to BlogHer or actually manage to sell enough books to make going to a convention worth it.
I've been doing conventions since about five months after this was written. I mean, I do usually need three days to a week to recover after one, but I can enjoy them and do okay if I have my stim aides. (I generally crochet in these instances since it's socially acceptable stimming and often works like an ice breaker.)
I still really hate crowds, big parties, family reunions, etc. They are stressful and exhausting, and I get overloaded super fast. After hitting burnout last year, even just the weekly grocery run will leave me useless for the rest of the day, stims and sensory aides or none. So, I'm actually kind of nervous about doing a convention again before I have fully recovered.
20. I don't get along with electronics. - Wonky reactions to electricity and electromagnetic energy runs in Dad's family. Great-granddaddy was immune to electricity altogether, even shrugging off a lightening strike after a few seconds with just a few burns to show for it. My brother and I have issues with our electronics. My phone works perfectly, unless I'm touching it. All bets are off in that case. I've damaged two screens and wiped a hard drive doing nothing more than just holding the laptop or changing the channel on the television. Hubby's taken to calling me Storm, and we now have either rubber cases or wireless keyboards for the computers.
21. I love soundtracks. - Movie soundtracks are incredibly fun to play. We played sections from Jurassic Park when I was in seventh grade, and I was hooked. I still have bits of it and the Music of Braveheart memorized. Disney at the Movies, Independence Day, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and ET, we played music from them all, and I had a blast with all of them. Hearing new scores is half the fun for me on the rare occasions Hubby and I get to go to the movie theaters. (We have to use captioning at home to make sense of anything with the girls most times, so I usually don't get to hear scores when we watch something at home.)
22. I have a real problem with boredom. - Or maybe it's more not being challenged. I do this, that, and the other so often because I get bored. The urge to learn something new or come up with something is like an itch, and learning a new craft or one of the more complicated cooking techniques is usually the cheapest way of scratching it.
How did I not realize I had ADHD? This is a major red flag!
23. I use fan fiction as practice. - Remember the character studies? Some of the fiction is that, like a mental exercise in characterization. Other times I use it to practice a new genre, character archetype, working with a particular element, or just as a warm up. You can get feedback almost instantly, and in some places, a piece can be turned over to another author when it's served its purpose for you.
Still relevant. Actually, I've been working on two stories lately to get back into writing fiction after years of just doing nonfiction, get my confidence back, and to practice.
24. I enjoy working with swords. - I had a friend teach me the basics of using a katana when I was researching for the Yekara Series. I actually found it a lot easier than hand to hand, sparing wise.
25. I got to play under direction of a composer once. - My senior year of high school, I made District 1 Honor Band. That year they had Robert W. Smith conducting for the senior high band. We played two of his compositions, a piece he arranged, and Semper Fidelis by John Phillip Sousa, unarranged.
26. Although lots of my scripts have been performed, I've never seen one. - Of course, that's because I was either in them, despite not being an actress, for the senior follies in high school or various assignments in high school and college. Or they were radio ad scripts.
27. I've had a small taste of fame once. Didn't like it. - The song lyrics I wrote were to a gospel song. I sent it to a composer the preacher recommended, and I got it back at the end of the summer in 2000. It got passed from congregation to congregation back then. For a year or so afterward, any time I went somewhere that sang it, someone who knew me would point me out. As said above, I'm a sociophobe. I couldn't quite handle ten or so folks crowding around talking at me at once.
So much this. I loved the fact people enjoyed the song, but being asked to interact on the spot was terrifying. Looking back, I know it was anxiety from having had spontaneous interactions go so bad so fast over the years combined with not having scripts for this kind of thing, but this was years before I'd even heard the word autism let alone had any clue why I was so "off."
Working conventions has given me the prodding to create limited scripts for interacting about certain things, though I am still really awkward and uncomfortable in these situations. I mean, I LOVE hearing people enjoyed something I did, but that doesn't mean I know how to respond. Hearing someone compliment the thing, I'm fine and can say thank you. Hearing someone compliment me, words no longer have meaning, and I have the knee jerk reaction of wanting to run and hide.
28. My ear is off by almost a full half step. - I love to sing, but I don't in public unless I have other folks to tune to because I hear half a step flat. Meaning what I think in tune is so sharp, it's nearly the next note up on the chromatic scale. Training didn't help. I'm a good enough mimic to tune well and quickly if I have another voice to guide off though. Well, provided it's in the right range.
29. My hair changed textures on me. - For the first twenty years of my life or so, my hair was as straight as it could be. It wouldn't hold curl when permed! Then slowly over the past decade or so, it's gone from stick straight to what I refer to as "highland frizz" seeing as it seems to come from the Scottish branches of the family. It's kind of half wavy, half curly. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to deal with it in a way that won't fry it like perming it or straightening it every day would.
YouTube is a marvelous resource. It's still a mess of 2a-3a waves and curls, but you can actually see waves and curls most days now.
30. I never really dated. - Okay, C. L. and I dated for about three years before we were married, but I'm talking about having a few different relationships before finding the right man. I flirted here and there, but sad as it might sound, I never actually went out on a date with anyone until C. L. and I had our first date when I was twenty. Sure I had a few lonely years, but after hearing some of the horror stories out there, I know I lucked out for sure.
Honestly, I could probably make a whole post on all the miscommunications and obliviousness that was my teenage years. Suffice to say, to this day, I have to be flat out told whether or not someone is flirting unless it's something I have seen before in literature or a movie. Again, you'd think I would have clued in after mistakes guessing at this got me in trouble time and time again, but no.
And it took a ridiculously long time to come up with that sad little list!
Funny how things, or at least our perception of them, can change over the course of a few years.
In addition to working as a freelance writer, A. B. England is a novelist, all around geek, avid crafter, and a homeschooling mother of two.
She is an autistic creator with a love of mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
77384 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Series Book 2
Sketched w/ Some Drafting
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4