The fear of driving

I came off the excitement of Governor’s School to begin my junior year with braces. The wires, rubber bands and brackets on my teeth were cumbersome. Using wax didn’t help much to protect my gums from stray wires that poked out. Braces were challenging to clean, and wearing headgear at night was just a pain. I wasn’t a very cooperative patient, but eventually the braces did their thing and helped to correct an overbite. Mine stayed with me through at least the first year of college.

Junior year meant officially being considered an upperclassman. Many, well most, of my classmates were now driving to school. I was 17 at the start of the year and still hadn’t shown much interest in driving. I knew how much responsibility I would be taking on by driving, and I was scared.

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Poetry philosophy: Show me, don’t tell me (also struggling with compliments)

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Theodysseyonline.com

I’m not sure where the phrase “show me, don’t tell me” first originated. I think it was through exposure to creative writing exercises and other writing efforts. But I took that to heart. I took that seriously. And in many ways that influenced my approach to poetry writing.

You don’t want to just say “she was upset”; that doesn’t tell you much. But instead you describe the used tissues scattered on the bed, the box laying nearby, how her eyes are puffy. You acknowledge the remnants of a bowl of ice cream. You describe the girl curled up on a bed, clutching tight to a pillow or stuffed bear. These images offer more details, they help tell the story. She probably didn’t just screw up a pop quiz; it’s more likely that she had a fight with her boyfriend or they broke up.

I was much more interested in showing the details of a story and describing the scene versus being straightforward. I still had trouble balancing what was described and how much to describe rather than saying things outright. I often went overboard on the descriptions and imagery, especially early on, but I was trying to find my style, trying to figure out what worked. How much detail do you really have to give?

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Mr. Kremin assigns 10th grade autobiography

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A treasured note I received from Mr. Kremin.

Tenth grade meant taking a religion class with Mr. Kremin. I remember him standing at attention in front of the crucifix (in the way only a former member of the military can) to lead us in prayer at the start of class. He faced forward with his back to us; his reverence was an example for the rest of us.

Kremin’s class was amazing because he gave us one of our first tests of being treated as adults. When you walked in the room, you were met with an air of respect. You had to decide how to respond to it. It was the first time that respect in the classroom really seemed palpable: You walk in and you matter. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s one of those intangible things that really resonated with me.

He was a natural teacher and storyteller. What he shared was captivating, maybe because it seemed to be more than going through a lesson. He wanted to communicate more than just the material but to truly reach you, to challenge preconceived notions.

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Why didn’t Cinderella wear Airwalks?

The shoes I had but different colors.

My church was trying to establish a consistent presence with the youth in our parish. There had been a few different leaders/youth ministers over the years but none at the time lasted more than a year. The constant turnover didn’t help with creating stability in the program and keeping interest.

By tenth grade church leaders were trying again, and there was a guy in charge. I remember we had a social event. It must have been an actual dance because there was dancing that night and I can’t imagine dancing just being a small part of the evening rather than the focal point. Anyway, it’s awkward enough to go to dances, but I was trying to push myself and trying to meet people.

Anyway, what I’m sure was intended to be a fun ice breaker ended up having an isolating effect. Wouldn’t it be fun for the girls to leave a shoe in a pile and the guys pick up a shoe and that’s how the first dance begins? What could possibly go wrong?

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My high school morning routine

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I hated the sound of my alarm clock. It was loud and obtrusive. Getting agitated first thing upon waking is not a good way to start the day. But this one had a soft green shade for checking the time in the dark instead of the bolder red. So I liked that feature. And that’s why I kept using it.

I set the alarm and placed it on my desk, several feet away from my bed. This way I had to physically get out of bed to turn it off. I couldn’t be trusted with the alarm next to my bed. I never could figure out how to properly use the snooze button, but instead would just turn off the alarm. So having it right next to my bed was a risky move and would likely result in me not registering that I turned off the alarm. And I’m sure by now I was responsible for waking myself rather than relying on my parents, so I couldn’t wait for a second or third call from Mom or Dad asking if I was up yet.

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Preschool through 8th grade: Where do things stand?

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Since my preschool diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and the completion of eighth grade means about 10 years have passed, I thought I would do a review of how things have progressed. I’m looking to address these questions:

  • What areas seemed to have improved?
  • Have I grown out of anything?
  • What am I still struggling with?
  • Has anything new developed?

If you missed my big rundown of sensory issues, you can find it here. And don’t worry, throughout this list, there will be links back to appropriate blog posts to offer further explanation. 

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The rowdy school bus

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Our bus never did any two-wheeled turns, but it was crowded.

Last year I read “Sensational Kids” where, among other things, it gives a day in the life of five students, one typical child and four who exhibit different characteristics of sensory processing disorder. The idea is to illustrate how each child encounters similar environments.

One girl had sensory modulation problems, like me, and she was hypersensitive to sounds and light, touch etc.

She was overwhelmed on the bus because of all the loud noise from the other children talking, she didn’t like being crowded on there with extra touching. Basically riding the bus further stressed her out before school even began.

It’s an interesting comparison.
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So much music

 

636243282134517774-314545726_music9Seventh grade was the year of music. I feel like I finally started paying more attention to the radio and what was playing. I’d been around music before, certainly. But the radio was just a tool for offering songs. Songs were enjoyable but not identity-defining. No compulsion to memorize lyrics. I could just passively enjoy it.

My earliest memories of music involve listening to the record player. My parents had plenty of albums by The Beatles. We’d play those or other records (I believe there was a Sesame Street one in our possession, too) and I’d dance with Dad. I think the first attempts at dancing meant my feet placed on top of his. But music was fun; there were no expectations.

Before public school or being this particular age, I listened to music more out of enjoyment. There was no need to know the names of bands and song titles or lyrics. I liked the song and that was enough. But now? Now there seemed to be more emphasis on joining in with the shared knowledge. If you can’t reference a song or band, you can’t join in the conversations. You can’t discuss things. You need to know what people are referencing.

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Spinning Rolodex: The chaos of communication

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Yes, I know what a Rolodex is. I never had to use one, but I have seen them around. For those of you who have grown up with cellphones and computerized address books, I’ll let you in on a fun device. It was a place to alphabetize contacts in what was expected to be within easy reach. You just flip to the appropriate letter and then through the cards available until you get the right one. These were mostly used in offices, so that you could cradle the phone against your shoulder and continue to talk while you searched for a phone number.

Alright, now that we’re clear, I’m moving on.

So, I’m great at listening. I will do my darndest to follow your train of thought until the very end. That’s not to say that’s it’s easy. Sometimes it requires extreme amounts of focus to keep up as people mumble through their sharing or speed through one thought after another like a verbal Nascar race.

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All twisted up with learning cursive

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Last year, I had an opportunity to write about my experience with sensory processing disorder. It was an in-depth piece with a broad overview of the symptoms and characteristics that I encountered, as well as areas where I continue to struggle. This is the raw, unedited version of how I began that piece, a snapshot of my classroom experience with learning to write in cursive.

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