Category Archives: March 2013

Friday 28th March 2014- I’m going to have a job!

Today I got an email with an offer for a job as a gardener, which I applied for a few weeks back. My first job!
Technically, I have been employed before. I packed gift bags in a beauty salon for one night when I was thirteenish, then walked out the door when I was finished, forgetting to get paid.
Otherwise, over the years I have been self-employed, with varying success.
This year I was pipped to the post of pet shop staff by veterinary students, the local garden centre restaurant never got back to me, and as I discovered on my training night at the oriental restaurant, I’m not exactly an ideal waitress. But gardening is something I can do.
Excited about my first job! It’s maybe just a one-off thing, because they’re short-staffed that day, but a part-time job, or a job every time they need an extra gardener would be great.

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Monday 24th March

Olive is lying on the bottom of the tank on her back with her legs in the air. I hope she’s going to be okay. She’s always been a poorly stick insect, and very thin even when she ate lots of leaves.

Wednesday 19th March 2014

I still have no curtains. Wearing a beanie pulled down over my face to block out the light so I can sleep better is not a permanent solution. I need a better and less itchy, woollen answer to the window problem.

I had been looking forward to tonight ever since I booked my ticket in January. I almost didn’t. I thought “It will be noisy, full of people, I’ve never been to this venue before, and, I’ve no idea what it will be like”. But I knew that I would regret it forever if I didn’t go.

On the bus into town, I met a friend’s brother on the bus. We chatted a bit and I barely missed a word over the rumble of the engine, hardly needing to lip read.

In the city centre, I joined a line outside The Cathouse to see Heaven’s Basement. We were right next to their tour bus, a huge double-decker thing with blacked-out windows. For the past few years, I’ve been a hermit. The last gig I saw was McFly at the SECC when I was thirteen years old. That was…..six years ago.
I was very excited. I love their music and they’re supposed to be amazing live.
The Cathouse was much smaller than I expected. We showed our tickets to people at the door and walked up brick stairs with red lights to a man at the top who was patting people down for weapons. He didn’t bother with me. Guess I don’t seem like the stabbing type. Maybe I was smiling too much. The concert area was a stage with a smallish floorspace and a bar. Behind that was a merchandise table and a lounge area.

It was not like any concert I’ve been to before. Besides McFly, I’ve been to a lot of classical concerts and recitals (willingly and otherwise), where everyone claps politely after a piece and people who cough are given annoyed glances. The highlights of classical concerts I’ve been to was seeing Ian Clarke (the best flutist and flute composer in the world, as far as I’m concerned), James Galway (another great flutist with a phenomenal sound), and a boring school piano recital when some oyster catchers had a noisy and vicious fight outside the window.

This was completely the opposite of a classical concert. Everyone was packed together on the floor, waving their arms, shouting and going mental. I didn’t know that there was two hours of supporting bands first, but they were brilliant. I had arrived early and got to see both of them. I also got a space very near the front where I could see the drummers (or at least see them on the front-row people’s phones).

The music was amazing! I wore my earplugs so I wasn’t reeling from the volume, but could still hear everything clearly. The two support bands were really good. The Dirty Youth and Glamour of the Kill. I recognised some of their songs which I’d heard on the radio. Everyone was really excited and the second band, Glamour of the Kill, asked for “A wall of death”. A mosh pit appeared in the centre of the crowd. I was quite happy to be at the side of the floor, safe from getting battered. Bright lights, noise so loud I could feel it buzzing in my chest, and people packed tightly together. In the past it would have been an Auditory Processing Nightmare for me, a recipe for sensory overload with my synaesthesia adding to the mix.
I absolutely loved it.

Finally it was time for Heaven’s Basement. We waited for half an hour, as people tested the equipment. There were three drum kits on stage, one for each band. Just as everyone was getting bored, they came on stage. The music was just as good as everything on their CD, and they were full of energy. It was an amazing concert! I tried to see the band members’ colours, but I under the bright stage light I could only see a vague yellowish glow around the singer. To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about colours because I was enjoying the music too much. They are all incredible musicians and gave it everything.

At classical concerts, when people want an encore, they shout “Encore!” at a polite volume and applaud. Here, we all chanted, “Here we F***ing go!”, until they came back on. This seems to be the acceptable thing to do at a rock gig, and it’s much more fun.

Concert finished, I bought a Welcome Home Tour t-shirt from the table, drank two free cups of water (it was really hot in there!) and dashed for one of the last trains home.

On the train a drunk was swearing at the ticket attendant. When the ticket attendant swore back, he was surprised as hell and kept saying “What?” in disbelief. I realised on Saturday night that it’s a very good idea to avoid people who may be a problem, and I moved carriages just in case the universe thought I hadn’t learned my lesson yet.

Before my hearing became clear enough to realise that songs had proper lyrics, and the background instruments separated out from a mushy din into individual parts, I thought that music with words, really any kind of songs, were pointless. Without my new improved hearing, would I be in a crowd of strangers listening to blasting rock music? I doubt it. All of the music which I love now would still be a garbled, sludgy mush. Music is one of the most important things to me. Nowadays I can’t imagine, and sometimes barely remember what it was like before my new hearing and awareness that there was so much wonderful music out there! Every time I listen to a CD, the radio, or hear the words in a song, that’s thanks to Johansen IAS therapy

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the gig or not, but there was only one way to find out and I absolutely loved it. I went home smiling after one of the best nights of my life.

Monday 17th March

Today I booked a place at some student accommodation. In September, I’m leaving home to study. It seems like September is a long way away, but it will sneak up on me. Like accepting a place on the course I want to study, booking accommodation feels like a big step because it’s a commitment. I am going to leave home. I’m going to live in a different city. And I’m going to spend the next four years as a student.

Without MLC and Johansen therapies, I wouldn’t have got this far. There’s a slim chance I could have struggled towards this goal, then fought my way through the next four years or dropped out.

With good hearing, energy, balance, health and a new-found enjoyment of talking to other people and making friends, I think I might not just survive life as a student. I might have a lot of fun. 

Saturday 15th March 2014

This post is a long one, but I feel like it’s important because I learned a lot.

For another close friend’s 20th, we went to the city centre for dinner then to a club.The band playing downstairs from the bar were good. That was the best part of my night.

After that it went downhill because of a creepy guy who kept trying to chat me up. I made the mistake of giving him a polite smile when he sat down beside me and my friends in the bar area. He said his name was Richard, which has the rather appropriate abbreviation of Dick.

I thought it was just a friendly conversation. I think most girls my age would find it weird that a middle-aged man wanted to talk to them, but since I started lip reading classes, half of my friends are over 70.  Sometimes I’m more used to talking to people in their older years than my own age group. And I’m really, super naiive.  In my defence, I’ve only had the ability to learn social skills for two years. Everything’s still pretty new to me. Maybe I decided to make friends with him because it was polite, or because he was on his own and he might be lonely. I know the feeling, but soon I realised that he was nothing like I used to be. For a start, he was too eager to make friends and too socially capable to be that awkward person on their own. People didn’t hang out with this guy for a reason.

With my friends and Dick tagging along, I went downstairs to the club. It was so loud in there, I wished I’d brought my earplugs. It was a struggle to hear anything. But I managed.

It took me a while to realise that this guy wanted to be friends with benefits. He kept asking me if I wasn’t hot wearing my coat and woollen beanie inside the club. I felt fine, and told him so.

He said that he was thirty years old and had alopecia. I think he was at least forty and bald from age.

He kept trying different questions, looking for stuff we might have in common. He said that I was “Random” and he liked that. I’m not very random. He pulled out of his backpack a pipe shaped like a horse’s head to show that he was random too.

Writing this, I wonder if his backpack was full of bits of junk used to endear himself to people.

He saw that I was talking some sign language with my friend (who’s deaf and has kindly taught me some BSL over the years) and said that he knew a little BSL. He showed me how to say “S***head”. I think that’s the only word he knew.

After an hour of him hanging around, getting clingy, I was very fed up of him.

He asked if I was a tomboy because my two friends were boys, and I said “No, not really”.

Did I have any tattoos? I don’t, and didn’t roll up a sleeve to prove it.

Would I like to go outside with him to get some fresh air? “No, I’m fine here, thanks”.

He pulled me up to dance with him. I pulled my hands away and danced/jigged on the spot beside my friends. Then someone spilled beer on my head. It wasn’t a splash or a drip, it felt like it had been poured. A tall man said “Sorry, that was my fault”, but didn’t move away immediately, or sound apologetic. Him and Dick watched me a little bit. Maybe to see what I would do. I didn’t complain or take off my thick coat, or go away from my friends to dry my hair. I flicked the worst of the beer off my head, wiped my hands on my jeans and said “that’s okay”. After a pause, he went away.

“That girl in blue is raising her arms while she dances” Dick told me in a last-ditch, failed attempt to get me to do something more interesting than jigging on the spot.  I didn’t bother to look round to see her.

Later I saw out of the corner of my eye, a tall man put a pill into Dick’s empty coke can on the table. I think it might have been the same guy who spilled beer on my head.

Dick touched my ear (practically the only bits of my skin he’d seen were my hands and face, since I refused to remove my long black winter jacket) and said you have tiny ears, that’s so cute. I really disliked him by now and was creeped out by the whole situation.

I was asking to leave by now. My friends looked out for me and we got a taxi home an early (which was still very late).

WHAT WOULD I DO NEXT TIME? As soon as I spotted the first sign of someone like him, leave the club. I know more about danger signs to look for now and thankfully, I got home safe.

So what have I learned from tonight?

I’ve learned that BEING POLITE IS POINTLESS IF IT PUTS YOU IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION.

Dressing in a way that blends in with other people (within reason) in the environment makes you safer because you don’t stand out. A girl in a jacket and beanie where everyone else is in dresses and strappy tops will look out of place. And attract attention of people like Dick and Co.

Stay close to your friends, the more friends you’re out with, the better.

Again- don’t be too polite! Smiling politely at strangers who seem a bit odd and are looking at you can attract them to you. Most people reading this would probably think, “Well, DUH!” but it really was a learning curve for me.

Don’t drink too much. Being able to think clearly is worth a lot. I’m so glad I had some extra lemonades and drank slowly that night.

Just because someone is talking to you and smiling, doesn’t mean that they’re your friend.

Look at their eyes. “Eyes are the window of the soul” I don’t know who said that, but they were right. I avoided looking at Dick’s eyes because he was making me feel uncomfortable.I think part of me didn’t want to find out what kind of creep I was with.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO “SPOIL THE NIGHT” (The politeness thing again). While Dick was away at the bar, my friends asked if I was okay with him hanging around. Stupidly, I said “yes, I think he’s harmless”. I didn’t want to spoil their night by leaving the club. If I had thought things through, I would have realised that my friends weren’t having as much fun as they could have because they were worried  for me and fed up with him too.

Avoid that bar/club if they say that they’re a regular there. Although the live music was quite good, I think that particular dive is off the agenda forever.

If like me with my Auditory Processing Difficulties and newly emerging social skills, you find that in noisy environments with lots of people you’re at a disadvantage, BE EXTRA AWARE.

Lastly, you can say NO (I refused to go outside with Dick) or say the TWO MAGIC WORDS to get someone to leave you alone.

Learning Differences, not Disabilities.

Dyslexia is the most commonly known learning difference. I say learning difference, because calling Dyslexia a disability is just a point of view.

Having Dyslexia does not mean that something is wrong with you.

There is a lot of value placed on reading and writing skills, and it’s hard to achieve academically without these. Since academic jobs are often the most valued by society and therefore more highly paid, academic skills are what schools push children to learn.

People with learning differences are a (not very small) minority. We have to adapt to a world that’s been set out for people who learn, think and see and hear the world in a slightly different way. No wonder school can be hard. Maybe some dyslexic people can’t spell worth carp, but there’s more to life than perfect reading and writing skills, although some dyslexic people can be very good writers.

In a reversed world, where at schools, the focus would be to learn practical and creative skills such as art, music, gardening, construction, and joinery, “academic” people might be the ones feeling at a disadvantage.

Monday 3rd March

The first thing I did today was break my curtains. With a lazy, still-lying-in-bed tug from me adding to the weight of the enormous climbing houseplant tied to them for support, my curtain rail and a few essential bits of plastic inside it finally gave up the ghost. I tried to fix them, but I don’t think that even the miracle of Duck Tape is going to help.

I’ve kept the door to my lighter, more airy room closed and so far, my parents haven’t noticed. I need to do something about this, but I’m not sure what. Saying “I broke my curtains” would be a good start, but I’d rather think of some other ideas first.