Category Archives: November 2014

Saturday 29th November 2014 – Day Off!

I took the opportunity of some energy combined with free time to fight the mould in my shower and write up this diary after an incredibly busy week.

Now that the mould kingdom is vanquished (or at least severely reduced, since it may have worked its way into the sealant) I can have a shower which actually feels clean.

One of my friends from college has a band, and I might go to see them play tonight. 

Cycled to the pub where the gig was being held. It was good to cycle. I’ve not been on my bike for a while, mainly because when I have a lack of mental energy, I do stupid things. If you want to live any considerable length, making stupid decisions in traffic is something best avoided.

My friend’s band were really good. They were like if the Beatles were into eco music and songs about plants. They had a really entertaining song about mushrooms and how they’re Fun Guys. Plant flashcards were brought out for the crowd at various points. Their drummer seemed to be their secret weapon. He drummed, played guitar, and sang, often two at the same time.

Fun night.

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Friday 28th November – A Very Long Day

I didn’t go to bed last night, so today I was feeling very tired. After college yesterday I worked on assignments for today’s deadline and revised for an exam re-sit until it was time to brush my teeth and go back to college.

Before I went to the Movement and Learning Centre (MLC) Scotland I had problems with sleeping, along with anxiety and poor balance and coordination. I slept poorly for my first 16 years, but back then lack of sleep was normal for me.

Now that I’m used to sleeping normally, I found that an all-nighter put a big dent in my day.  

At class my Auditory Processing was working amazingly considering my lack of energy, and all the music I listened to last night to keep awake and focused on working. Despite everything, I could still hear clearly. That didn’t help me to look and feel  less like a zombie though.

As for my exam re-sit, I can say that it went better than the first time round. This time I knew little, rather than nothing at all.

There were other problems I encountered in my exam.

Before MLC therapy for Retained Reflexes, the root cause of my insomnia was a fully-retained Moro Reflex. This kept my body flooded with adrenaline 24/7. As well as not falling asleep for hours after going to bed, or being able to stay asleep at night, during the day, I was unable to fall asleep even when I was really tired.

My Moro Reflex gone, I no longer have that problem. I was very tired, so my body felt safe to do the sensible thing and go to sleep. Every so often, I drifted off, still sitting up in my chair, and started dreaming. I would be writing the start of a word, then finishing it with the start of a word related to wherever my mind was drifting to. Luckily my lecturer was doing marking, and not aware of every time I jerked awake and blearily corrected whatever nonsense I’d written.

Back at the flat after a very long day I had a well-deserved sleep.

Thursday 27th November- Animal Balloons and Social Awkwardness

This morning, my laptop seemed to be broken. As well as studying, I had an important email to send, so I went to college to ask for help from IT Support.

Searching the college for the IT Support room, I asked some men in a room downstairs for directions. They had some balloons over their desk partitions. The balloons were creatively added to with paper post-it notes to look like animals. I was particularly impressed by one which resembled a chicken. In a moment of impulsive enthusiasm I told them “I love your balloons, they’re awesome!”.

They said, “That’s not how to talk to us”.

It has been said that Social Awkwardness is the Curse of Genius. Well, in my case, it isn’t.

In better circumstances of mental energy, ideally the rest of the conversation should have been along the lines of, haha, you’re a funny guy. Did you make the balloon animals yourself? It’s upstairs? Thank you very much.

But.

I was feeling stressed out already, with a lot of deadlines and a gubbed computer on my mind. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh if it was a joke because he was smiling. And also, I wasn’t sure if it was funny enough to laugh at. It took me a long, blank staring moment to think about this.

In which time, he was starting to look reproachful and said, “Did you get it?”

I wasn’t sure if the joke was what I thought it might be, and how it might work since he was male, and therefore not in possession of any possible metaphorical balloons. Also, since he was possibly a lecturer/ figure of authority was it actually appropriate for me to laugh at his balloon joke? At the same time I still wondering if I found it that funny, and whether I could manage to do a convincing laugh to put his mind at rest that it was indeed a funny joke and I totally understood it.  He really wanted me to laugh by now (and was possibly regretting his balloon punchline), but today I did not have the energy.

I apologised and explained that just like my laptop, my brain was fried. Did he know where to find IT support?

Sometimes, you just have to forget socially awkward moments and get on with life. I hurried upstairs, the IT Support guys sorted my laptop in seconds, and I made a mental note to never use novelty balloons as a conversation topic again.

 

Saturday 11th November- Busking

Edinburgh has a beautiful Christmas Market complete with little Merchant’s log-cabin-style huts, lights, music and fairground rides. The huge Ferris Wheel lights up and can be seen from far away. The Royal Mile and city centre was packed with tourists on royal mile so I had a quick lunch then grabbed my flute.

I played on the mile, and then near the beautiful Market, all lit up for the gloom of short winter days. There was so many people it was hard to move. I must have played to about 800 people tonight as they passed, possibly more if I included people within earshot. Something new I had to deal with was weirdos within the crowd. A man who seemed pretty inebriated was fascinated by my flute. For a few seconds he stood nose to nose with me, muttering, pressing at the keys of my flute randomly, as if trying to play a tune. I kept playing despite this, ignoring him, and he moved on. That’s the biggest distraction I’ve had to deal with so far. With so many people around, I felt that he probably wouldn’t be a threat, but this made me consider what I would do next time. It was an eye-opener that where there are lots of people, and I’m drawing attention, I sometimes might have to deal with some nutters. I realised I really need to pay more attention to the streets and keep a look out for people who might cause me trouble or try to steal my flute.                                

It was the peak of Christmas Shopping Time, people holding onto their money, and I’m not the best or most exciting busker in the world. I earned less than £5, about 5p of that from the crossing near the Market. My pitch by a road crossing probably wasn’t a good idea, people rushing past me to cross to the opposite pavement, but the other places were taken or swamped by Christmas music from the market’s speakers.  It’s still money though. And after today I’m much less scared of our second gig!  

 

Friday 21st November- Failure Cake

Last night’s trip to Glasgow to see The Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement and Nothing More at Glasgow O2 was amazing.

I revised on the homewards train, but was still not properly prepared for today’s exam. It didn’t go very well. I was tired after a busy week, and a few commutes this week to Glasgow, one for last night’s concert, the other for band practice. My hearing was a bit wonky, mainly from tiredness. I’d had a few late nights.

I take responsibility that I’ve not been 100% dedicated to my course, but there’s also my Auditory Processing difficulties. I find it very hard to learn in class, especially with long spoken lectures. Because I probably won’t retain much of what is said in class (although the fact I can actually hear what my lecturer says is a huge improvement from school) I listen hard and take really good notes. This means that I do most of my actual learning outside of college. This makes the learning process twice as long.

On really good days, I can remember some of what the lecturer says, while taking notes at the same time.

This is part of the reason I’m getting a Personal Listening Device. My hope is that with reduced background noise, and the lecturer’s voice directed into my ears, the effort will be taken out of listening and concentrating in class. Then I can take notes and learn at the same time.  Ideally I will learn more quickly, have more energy, and also have more free time out of college, not having to that day’s notes as if they are an unfamiliar topic. 

My exam did not go well. I knew barely any of the answers. Some of this I blame on my Learning Difference. For the most part though, I can only take responsibility and blame myself.

Back at the flat I sat in my room, hiding from another flat party, eating what I like to call Failure Cake. It regularly cheers me up after tests which could have gone better.

I’m always trying to improve my writing skills for this blog, so here is a Haiku of how I felt.

Passed exam unlikely

Eat defrosted Failure Cake

Rock concert worth it.

Thursday 20th November- The Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement and Nothing More Concert at Glasgow O2

At College I came in early to try out a Personal Listening Device. This piece of equipment should help me to listen in lectures. If all goes well, I will have my own Personal Listener to use soon. Even in the small Learning Support room, where we tried the equipment, voices sounded clearer, directed straight into my ears, minimising background noise. My Learning Support teacher said that she may also look into getting a Personal Listening Device for someone with ADHD. It may help him concentrate in lectures too.

In the afternoon my class had a Weed, Pest, Disease and Disorder identification exam. Pests, weeds and diseased plant material was numbered and laid out on tables. We had to write the names of each problem on an exam sheet.

Tonight was something I’d been looking forward to for ages! I went straight from college to Glasgow for a concert. Way back in the summer I had booked a ticket to see Heaven’s Basement at Glasgow 02. They are supporting The Pretty Reckless.

I had never been to Glasgow 02 before. Until Johansen IAS therapy helped me with my serious Auditory Processing Disorder, I was scared of loud noise and didn’t go to concerts apart from the classical events which were part of my music school experience. This was the third of fourth rock concert I have been to.

I still have some difficulties with Auditory Processing, which is why I was trying a Personal Listening Device this morning. Back before Johansen, everything was deafeningly loud, even fairly quiet sounds such as people talking could feel painful, and sound distorted. Without Johansen IAS therapy, I would never have learned to play drums. Instead of being my favourite thing, the loud sound would still scare me.

Hearing the words in songs for the first time was a revelation. I had no idea that songs were also stories. Music had so much more meaning and I could hear each instrument. It used to be so unclear, any vocals being a mush of vowel sounds with instrumental backgrounds blending together like runny paint. After seeing Camilla at Johansen IAS, individual colours and shapes started to separate from a mush of sound.

As soon as I can, I’ll post a before and after drawing of my hearing in the Synaesthesia section of this website.

I have always loved music, but now it is INCREDIBLE. Able to hear clearly, I found the kind of music I like. I love Heaven’s Basement. They were the first band I saw after my Auditory Processing Disorder got better. They played at Glasgow Cathouse, somewhere else I had never been before. It was an amazing experience.  

The line was huge, stretching all around the side of the Glasgow O2 and down the road. Inside, I had to put my backpack in a ticketed cloakroom. Only handbags were allowed in. My folders of plant malfunctions and baked potato dinner wouldn’t fit in a handbag. I remembered to get my earplugs out my bag just in time. Now that I have clear hearing, there’s no way I want to start losing it. Backpack ransomed for a  ticket, I found a balcony seat.

The 02 is bigger on the inside. As crowds filled the building, speakers played Audioslave. I like Audioslave. They were also being played at Paisley Bungalow just before our first gig, which was last week.  My parents might say that  going to another city to see a concert on a college night means that I’m not focusing on my education. This is musical education. I would love to play music for a living. Tonight was an amazing field trip.

Nothing More were first on stage. They were astonishing. Their drummer was amazing and at one point, three of the band played one bass guitar on a specially made stand. The sound of three people playing one bass (one of them using drumsticks) was incredible. They got a huge tune out of it, which sounded like multiple instruments. One of the coolest things I’ve ever heard or seen. Their music is out of this world. I’m really happy to have seen them tonight because I have a feeling that before long, tickets to see Nothing More may be quite expensive.

Heaven’t Basement introduced themselves to the crowd as “We’re a legless band from England!” They were a bit legless, but still brilliant. I love their music. They played the same songs I heard at their last amazing gig I went to. One of the albums I’ve bought where I like every song on it. Their music was loaded full of energy, at the end they looked a bit like they wanted get back on their bus and pass out.

The headliners, The Pretty Reckless, were great. They have a huge sound. Songs I hadn’t heard before and really want to hear again. At the end there was a long drum solo. Incredible to watch. What an end to the night!

 

Thursday 13th November- First Gig!

I had to leave college early today. It’s our first ever gig, and I had to get back to Glasgow in time! Just like yesterday, I couldn’t keep still or stop grinning in class. I was so excited.

I dashed home, changed, grabbed my stuff and got on the train. Unfortunately it was the Long Train. I missed the repeated warning that this was the long journey to Glasgow. I had been stressing out about which train to get. I had heard the announcement, but assumed it was about a different train. My Auditory Processing Difficulties had made it unclear.  

When the ticket inspector came through the carriage, he assumed I hadn’t been paying attention and had missed the announcement because I was listening to my iPod. He said this to me. I had put my iPod on after the announcements and the train started moving. Like usual, I had my iPod turned down low so that I didn’t damage my hearing, and could listen to the music while hearing what went on around me. I told him that I had hearing issues. I don’t like it when people assume that I’m not listening, although gradually more and more nowadays with the band and music on my mind and Drums, I’m not.

My friends gave me a lift from their house to Paisley Bungalow, where we were playing our first gig. We were second last on the list pinned to a support pillar in the room, and waited ages. I was still really nervous, and I had no idea what to expect from the drum kit on stage. I hoped it would be easy to play.

I wish I could write more about what happened with the whole band, but panic made me self-centred.

The first problem was that I hadn’t brought a snare. The snares on a shelf beside the stage were old, holed, or didn’t make a snarey sound because the levers were broken. The staff lent me a good snare from the office. Going out on stage to put my cymbals onto the stands was scary. I didn’t look at the people in the room, but imagined them watching me. It was partly nerves, but the kit felt weird. I didn’t take time to adjust it properly, something I will make sure I do next time. This made playing feel awkward, and the bass drum started to slide away halfway through a song. One of my friends and a member of staff came to my rescue and shoved it back into place mid-song.

It wasn’t really the equipment’s fault. Although drumming is my passion, I am very inexperienced.

The songs are amazing. I love playing them. But I struggled with the beat.

You know that feeling when you’re pumped full of adrenaline and time seems to go in slow motion? I was freaking out and unintentionally took us to a fast punk rock tempo. It was a slow song, but strangely I was worried that I wasn’t playing fast enough. They were so good about it though. We all made mistakes although at the time, my mistakes seemed really bad.   After the gig (which flew by, no thanks to me) we had chips and they took me back to my parents house. It was too late for the train back to Edinburgh, so I stayed over in Glasgow tonight, coming down from possibly the most exciting night of my life, which had seemed like a blur.

It was our first gig. Of course it didn’t go perfectly. For a first gig, it was good. It may not have seemed like it at the time, but busking had helped a lot. Without it I would have had no chance.

Next time will be easier, and hopefully there will be many next times. I would love to earn money for playing music with some of my favourite people in the world. That would be a dream come true.

Sunday 2nd November- A moment of Self-Pity

Cutting your own hair to avoid studying is not a good idea.

The fact that I own a pair of small paper scissors does not automatically make me a hairdresser. I may need a fairly short haircut to fix this.

Meanwhile, something is growing in my shower. Nothing in the bathroom dries very well, or at all.

I’m sitting in my wee room, with the bathroom door shut to contain the mould, nose streaming, dreadful self-haircut tied back, feeling a little bit sorry for myself. Now that I’ve written up this diary, I can’t put it off any longer. It’s time for The Slug Essay.

Saturday 1st November – Same Slug thing, Same Slug place

Apparently, if you don’t have a weird flat mate, you are the weird flat mate. I hope not.

For too long, I have been working on an essay. About Slugs. This slug essay is doing my head in.

Did you know that slugs can digest paper? Well now you do. I love actually doing horticulture, but I don’t like the paperworky learning part.

I’m not busking this weekend. All the tubes in my face are full of goo (kind of like a Slug), so trying to play my flute would be a messy exercise in pointlessness.

Tonight My flatmate had a party. It started fairly quiet when I went to bed. By 3am it sounded like they were acting out a goddamn musical in the kitchen.

I wasn’t sleeping anyway because of all the goo in my sinuses. I had three options:

Ignore the noise and carry on not sleeping

Tell them to be quiet and not sleep in peace

Join in.

The beat of the music and hand clapping was kind of catchy, so I joined them in the kitchen with some egg maracas from my box of music stuff.

By then they were so drunk, they thought that egg maracas were the best thing ever.

One of the people there had created some of the music playing. It was pretty good stuff. Nice people. I tried to shake as few hands as possible because of germs, and made some friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise.