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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Different

As I prepare to head down to Washington, D.C. in a couple of weeks, I am discovering more and more differences between me and my immediate family. 

Mom, for example, can't see UV light at all. (It's very rare, since you have to have two separate genetic abnormalities, but she gave me one of them: carrying the recessive red-green colorblindness allele on the X chromosome. The other is the brain's processing.) When we got our hands on a new camera for Washington, she held it up to the window and saw purple lines. I had to explain to her that those were the UV rays from the sun, and that I could see them most of the time. She finally understood why I refuse to step foot outside of the house if the sun is shining.

She also has executive functioning problems--the exact opposite of mine. Where I'm strong--planning the trip and finding tours--she is weak. But her strengths (mainly working memory, since mine goes straight to long-term) are extremely valuable to me as I try to plan.

Dad, however, is the only one of us with a decent sense of time. I spent three hours planning the trip last week, completely forgetting about my violin lesson. Mom didn't realize, either. Dad arrived home to find us working, and asked if we had forgotten.

But even the bits of my processing I take for granted as "normal" may not be quite so. As my daily headaches have progressed into weekly migraines, I've looked to find out why. And luckily for me, I think I figured it out. My visual processing (oh, good old brain of mine, always messing with me) is different from how it should be. Specifically, it's likely I have Irlen's Syndrome. After going through the checklist where three checks meant it was good to be tested, I managed to score a ridiculously high number...

Twenty-nine.

Yeah.

Darned brain. Why can't I process correctly? Oh, yeah. My seeing UV is a big part of it. I can see far more colors than I'm supposed to. But hopefully, before the school year gets fully into the swing of things in September, I can get some tinted lenses to correct my processing.


My whole life, I've known I'm different. 
My whole life, I've been quite strange.
My whole life, the world around me
Has remained while I have changed.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Diverting Interests: How to Make A Passion Worthwhile

I'm currently a high school student. That means projects. And in biology this year, we don't have a final exam.

We have to write a research paper.

Now, don't get me wrong: this has never been hard before. But my right hand has been hurting me for a few weeks, and violin and piano aren't helping. Luckily, I write left-handed, so it's not horribly difficult in everyday life.

However, typing is difficult now. This post may well turn out shorter than most because of that. I apologize. (I also apologize if anyone reads my fanfictions, but it hurts too much to type them up.) Because of this, my research paper, due this coming Friday, is only halfway typed. It's not too much of a struggle, because I have a free block every day in school where I can type if my hand doesn't hurt. And of course, an interesting topic helps as well.

Biology is an easy subject for me. Most of the work is terminology, which I can glance at and memorize. But DNA was different when we studied it in December. It was more complex, and took some time to fully understand. That began a fascination. I know about triple the amount taught in class, without question. I temporarily considered it as a career path in February, but my mind returned to physics, as it has for two years.

Now, we get to pick our own topics for the research project. DNA was an obvious choice, especially since we ran out of time and did not cover the Human Genome Project. I had to pick a division of that to work with, though, so I took the Trekkie's path: eugenics.

The project requires a three-to-five minute oral presentation. That may be a struggle, especially if my hand hurts too much to manage the pointer. But I will manage, as I always have.

I know so many things by now.
I know enough to stun.
I know nothing of childhood, though,
As that was less than one.

(Yeah, umm... that verse is just accurate right now. I'm watching a ton of superhero cartoons on Netflix. I was a hyperlexic child, reading books independently before age four. I never had the need for imaginary things after the age of five, but my mind is now realizing how little it matured because of my lost childhood.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Frugal Fido

As summer approaches, Tessie and I are having a lot of fun.

For those of you who don't know, Tessie is my service-dog-eternally-in-training-because-she-loves-to-run-away. She can understand my whistles, my Morse code tappings, my English words, my Latin words (you read that right, I know some Latin), and my scent. She is my best friend, my doggy soulmate, and my most valuable possession. Tessie is my only interesting summertime companion, as my eleven-year-old cat just lies around every day and my parents work.

Tessie is the only creature who can get me to run. The husky half of her is always hyper, so I walk her up the hill near our house and run down each day. She won't run with my marathon-running siblings, but she will match my pace to make me exercise.

My family loves to encourage my passions, but we don't have a lot of money. We can't afford for me to take Tessie to agility classes* or get awesome equipment. But when my mom gets PVC pipes to make garden supplies, I'm allowed to get some stuff of my own.

So for under ten dollars, Tessie has a couple of new jumps.

We got a ten-foot by 1/2-inch PVC pipe and four tees. We're going back at some point to get bases for the jumps, but we'll still be under ten bucks. Anyway, we cut two pieces at twenty-four inches, and the remaining four at eighteen inches each. Tessie can easily clear such a height, so that's no concern. If she was smaller, we would have made them lower. We put the tees at the tops of the shorter rods, and connected two of them with a longer pipe. The tees serve to connect the pieces vertically, allowing for easier storage. Tessie hasn't been able to try it yet, but it'll probably happen within the next two weeks.

*Dog agility, for anyone who doesn't know, is an international sport. Dogs are trained to jump hurdles, climb ramps, zigzag in between poles, and remain sitting for five seconds in the "pause box". The fastest time with the fewest faults wins. It is a difficult sport, but many people benefit from it, and it is the only way I feel safe running. When running on the streets, I have to watch for cars, but agility can be done in one's backyard, providing greater security. As evidenced by this post, it does not have to be expensive. I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes they could sleep at night, but has too much energy...so practically anyone who reads this blog knows someone to suggest agility to.

My family barely knows me.
My family is just dull.
My family is still learning me,
But my dog knows me well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Beauty of a Friend

A couple of days after my last mention of my friend, the librarian attempted to formally introduce us. "Do you know Ari?" she asked.

"A little," he replied in English with a touch of what I recognized as autistic sarcasm. The only signal was in how his hands moved, but I was tempted to burst out laughing.

I was in the media center instead of my tech class. The whole class is on the internet, so it's not difficult for me to do such a thing. (I mean, halfway through the allotted quarter of the year, I've already completed the entire curriculum by working a tiny bit each day.) But the teacher is the loudest teacher in the school. I get along with him perfectly well, but if anything is to be accomplished and any sensory meltdowns are to be avoided, I need to be in a different area.

On that day, my friend had just completed standardized tests. His teacher was putting on a movie on the subject, despite there being more kids who had not yet completed their tests and were just coming in. My friend protested by walking out of class and coming to the media center, where he knew I would be (his class is next to mine, and I have greeted him while checking in with my teacher before). We went to lunch together, looked at a book on masks of the world, and overall had a nice time.

After lunch, he made me laugh.

It's rare that I laugh in public. I tend to appear totally unemotional, which I've developed as a result of being bullied for most of my life. But every once in a while, something will make me smile...or laugh for two minutes straight.

My good friend noticed busts of some of the best speakers and poets in history on the top of one of the bookcases. He asked how dusty they were, which the librarian struggled to answer. So he composed a song, on the spot, asking the busts of Robert Frost, JFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. questions about their lives.

I laughed continually from the first line to the last.

Ever since, if he's seen me walking through the halls on my way to lunch, he will begin a song on philosophy just to make me giggle like the little girl I never got to be. The bullies may have taken away my childhood and my laughter earlier than I would have liked, but sometimes, a friend can get it back for me.

If ever life is just too much,
If ever there's no end,
If ever you're the only one,
Then let me be your friend.