Category Archives: October 2014

Friday 31st October- Happy Halloween – Hysterical Laughter, Man-Eating Sushi and Guinea Pigs

When I have a cold, my IQ drops like a stone. Today was no exception.

The morning was ok.

In the afternoon lecture I couldn’t stop laughing in class. Nothing in particular was making me laugh, I was just in that sort of hysterical mood I used to get often when I was younger, stressed-out and tired. After I went to MLC Scotland to sort our problems with Retained Reflexes, I had much less problems with this. My energy and mood were more constant rather than peaking and plummeting. However, when I’m tired, stressed-out or unwell I still occasionally get a madcap laughing spell.

I apologised to my lecturer at the end of class (I was in the front row and therefore unmissable). He was very nice about it.

I think part of the problem was that having a cold in class reminded me of school. Back then, I felt like this all the time. I was feeling rubbish, sinuses squeaking like mice and making broken vaccum cleaner noises when I blew my nose. My pockets were so full of tissues, I had a tissue belly. When I’m unsure about something, or freaking out a bit, I tend to laugh.

Got home, ate dinner which I cooked potatoes for this morning. I had woken up very early with this cold and decided to do something useful with my time before college.

In the past, not sleeping well didn’t faze me much. I was quite used to it. Now I’ve gone all soft. I’m become used to normal amounts of sleep and stress. So after just one night of not sleeping well, I can feel the difference.

It’s Halloween night. I got the bus over to the other side of Edinburgh with a friend. We’re going to another Horticulturist-in-training’s house tonight for Halloween. She’s a Goth. It’s going to be awesome.

The house was awesomely decorated, standing out from the houses either side with big black paper silhouettes of spooky things in the window.

She was a jellyfish. Clear umbrella with dangly neon lights. It looked amazing. I also got to meet more of her friends and her many adorable Guinea Pigs.

We watched a Japanese film about killer sushi. It was poorly thought-out, scripted, acted, tastelessly gory and also antifeminist. My Friend the Jellyfish was annoyed by this, but at the same time had a party brainwave and created a game called “Drink to Antifeminism”.

I had a great night in a room full of my college friends, friendly goths and metalheads, and (despite screaming noises from the TV) a contentedly wheek-wheeking hairless guineapig named Captain Hastings cradled in one of her friend’s arms.


Thursday 30th October- I have a Cold and a Dyslexia Test

Today I had a dyslexia test. I wondered if because some areas of my processing are affected by APD, if I had any dyslexic tendencies.

Since the test is free at college, I thought that I would do the test. My reading and writing is really good. The only possibility was that I could be slightly dyslexic, or not dyslexic at all. The worst thing that could happen is that I’m left feeling sheepish for wasting learning support time. This is not a good reason not to do the test.

I want to write about the test here. It will be interesting for me, and hopefully useful for anyone reading this.

The test confirmed that I am absolutely not dyslexic.

The test involved:

  • Copying as much as possible of a short passage of writing in 30 seconds.
  • Writing spoken words in a vertical line on the page
  • Accessing short and long-term memory- remembering and reciting a spoken number, and swapping the first sounds of two spoken words
  • Visual puzzles
  • Naming pictures (this was also part of the Johansen test I did years ago)


It seems like this test could also pick up a few people with Auditory Processing Disorder, since some of it is spoken and involves listening.

In the afternoon I was tired and feeling rubbish. I started laughing hysterically in class and found it hard to stop. This may go with coming down with a cold.

After college I went food shopping. Not feeling like cycling, so I walked to shops and got some nice cereal and groceries, and an effervescent orange vit C drink for colds. Its Effervescent, so it’s got to be good for me, right?

I had forgotten what it feels like to have a real cold. This used to be everyday life for me. I had rhinitis until I was about 17, mainly because of diary allergies. For a whole year I’ve taken breathing clearly completely for granted. This is just a normal cold, probably going around my flat or college. Still sucks though.

Time to break out the box of tissues. 


Monday 27th October- Bad Hearing Day

Tired. Today’s college lecture about Soil Structure was okay. I listened hard and took good notes.

Lunch with my friends. We went to a shopping centre together to get some stuff for a plant experiment.

With lunch time to spare, we crashed out on comfy chairs and giant beanbags in a university café. Very happy to be doing ordinary things like this with friends, chatting and my hearing was okay.

Our afternoon plant experiment went okay, although I struggled to concentrate. After college finished my brain began to grind to a halt.

I got off the bus by the shops for some groceries. By the time I had picked out some ingredients in Lidl I was keeping myself oriented by using a list of tasks, and finding it hard to think in words.

Carrying a Bargain! £2 for 3kilos! bag of fusilli pasta around with me did not help my energy. I went to the train station to collect tickets for tomorrow’s commute to band practice. Everything was loud, too many colourful sounds flying and floating about everywhere. Outside the ticket office, I heard this extremely annoying sound like four alternately pulsing white dots, with a white/clear line flying out from one of them which seemed to drill into my head. I followed the line going into my head in my mind’s eye to the position of the offending device on the wall. It was a box with the words, Bird Repeller on it. It was a very thin, pale, straight line. The higher the pitch of a sound, the sharper, thinner, lighter and straighter the sound tends to be. This sound was painfully high. Similar to the Rentokil cat-scarer I encountered during my job with a gardening company.

Nowadays, this counts as a bad hearing day. In the past, before Johansen IAS therapy, this would have been a normal, perhaps even a good day for me. Although it may sometimes seem like I still struggle with my Auditory Processing Difficulties, compared to how serious my APD was before I went to Johansen IAS for treatment (Camilla said that I was her most complex case so far) my hearing is amazing.

Moments like I had today is a reason why telling people about my APD is a very good idea. Then they can understand why most of the time I’m normal, happy and fully functioning, then suddenly one afternoon I seem almost mentally handicapped and might even need some guidance with crossing roads.

Right now I still don’t feel good. I’m really tired, but I know that an early night should sort me out. Writing this diary is really good because I don’t have to speak. Here, I can write out my thoughts fine despite how much my mental energy levels have crashed. But if you tried to ask me to speak to you about exactly how I feel right now, I might not be able to raise my game enough to do more than go ummmm….while I try to remember events, form them into words, then remember how to say it.

Tomorrow is a very big day. Work experience, then a very exciting band practice. I need to be thinking as clearly as possible for the best drumming I can manage.

Listening to new CDs after a hot chocolate with marshmallows for some instant sugar. Starting to feel a bit brighter. Dinner time soon.

I aim to be asleep by eight. My brain needs to reboot.

Monday 20th October- Fish Fingers and Social Identity

Food Shopping after college. Happiness is a full cupboard.

I decided that since I have a student loan, I would buy a slightly better brand of fish fingers today. Especially since the last variety turned out to be less “white fish” and more Rice Starch. I was looking at the packaging of these other fish fingers which apparently had 100% fish fillings as well as a student-friendly price. The box had pretty cartoon fish on it, a logo and nice colour scheme. It was much more attractive than the very plain box containing my last fish fingers. They hadn’t really bothered with much package design, or much real fish either.

Inside my college lecture-addled little brain, gazing through plastic glass into the depths of a floor refrigeration unit, somehow this turned into my next leap of social understanding. 

How do fish finger boxes relate to people? Well…..

Perhaps attractive, thought-out packaging isn’t just unique to boxes of my current favourite sandwich filling. People who have a cared-for, clean and attractive appearance may seem more appealing, friendly and easier to approach.

I realised that how people look and present themselves to the world can be very important- every stranger who sees you has a first impression, and based on that, they’ll create an assumption of what kind of person you might be. First impressions could be the difference between making a new friend or not.

People can adapt their image to get a desired reaction from other people. Whether they want to be looked at, not looked at, talked to, admired, respected, feared, or to make others feel at ease with them, there’s a way to dress for that. Unless you have a Stabbing Face, (see Wednesday 17th September 2014) in which case, unfortunately, no amount of wardrobe alterations can help you.

My new fish fingers, despite their lovely packaging, may not be as nice as they claim- I haven’t tried one yet. They were purchased on face-value and low pricing. There’s a lot to be said for face value. It’s a social currency. I’m not saying that I want to change my appearance. I’m happy with how I look. But I think that now I understand something new about people which I didn’t before. And all thanks to some Fish Fingers. I hope they’re as good as the picture on the box.

Saturday 18th October- Today I bought a piano

It was too windy for my normal weekend busking- my flute was playing itself when the air blew through the mouthpiece, tubes and key holes. I tried to play outside a shop to avoid the wind, but got politely, and firmly, moved on. It’s all still good practice to fight nerves when performing.

Thank you very much! to kind people on the royal mile today who gave me donations.

I got a reply from someone I contacted on Gumtree about an excitingly inexpensive second-hand keyboard. Playing the Harry Potter theme tune by ear on a toy keyboard when I was six or seven was what made my mum think I might be musical. After that I never had much enthusiasm for learning piano, although I got lessons with a kind, very talented teacher who could have made me a very good pianist if I had it in me. I struggled with learning piano, and actually haven’t played since MLC improved my coordination. With Retained Reflexes which make mirrored and contralateral movement difficult, learning piano was tricky. Not having practiced in 5 years, I have forgotten how to play even the first song I learned. Now, I really want to learn again, and play whatever I feel like. A keyboard will also help me learn songs really quickly for busking.

It will be interesting to see any differences in how I learn to play piano after MLC therapy.

Over the phone the man with the keyboard gave me an address. I got on a bus, paid for and collected the keyboard, and hauled my bin-bag clad treasure home.

I can’t play it yet. Because there is no charger until one arrives from Ebay. It’s an old keyboard. A good make, retired from a music school when they upgraded. All the white keys have the notes written on them in permanent marker to make it easier for learners to play. There are little icons above the keys. Some of them are for drum and cymbal sounds. It also has a “drum pad” facility which I am super excited about. Right now, my desk is taken up with college folders, so it will have to share bed-space with me. Bed was too wide for me anyway.

Night out with my friends. The Horticulture Nights Out have become a thing.

A drunk leaning on the counter thought that I couldn’t be over 18 and kept telling me so. He burped and said that maybe if I couldn’t smell his burp (he asked and I politely said no), the bartender wouldn’t smell my age. Then he laughed in a lopsided, conspirational manner. The barman didn’t need to smell my age. I had ID, and left to go to my friends’ table as soon as I was served.

This man was probably too inebriated to be much of a threat, but I’ve learned to be cautious of single, older men in bars who want to talk to me (see March 2014). I didn’t make much eye contact, got away as soon as possible (although I think he couldn’t have followed me anyway because the bar was propping him up), and when he asked my name while I waited to order, I lied.

Dealing with scenarios like this might be second nature to most people, but I’m still learning. In the past, telling a lie would have felt impossible. Also now, if he had seemed like a threat, I wouldn’t have stayed beside him long enough to order.

One problem with socially being a young age, is that if I’m not careful, I could get into trouble, or learn bad habits very quickly. 

Fun night out with some of my college friends. I almost take being able to talk to people, and being fully-included for granted now. Almost. It’s still amazing and makes me so happy.

Sunday 12th October- Good day for Busking

Woke up and went busking. Sunny day, lots of people out on the Royal Mile. My list of songs is starting to get longer. I have a new knitted beanie hat in pretty autumnal colours, and it might be magical. I didn’t bring my Thank You-have-a-nice-day-smiley-face sign today. Strangely, my way of thanking people (because I play a wind instrument, most of the time I can’t stop to say thanks) seemed to put them off. Perhaps it reminds them of cardboard signs some people have when they’re begging. I’m not begging. I’m doing my best to entertain people and make them smile. The main aim besides a little extra money is to play in public so often that when it comes to my first gig on drums, I’m not really nervous.

People were very generous today. One very kind woman dressed in pink gave me £10! I saw her pass, looked down in my case and there were two five-pound notes! I was absolutely thrilled, Before I could gather my wits to shout Thank You! she was gone. I played for three hours in a few different spots. Sunstreams by Ian Clarke is a favourite. It’s one of the best ever songs written for flute. A guy about my age in a Guns ’n’ Roses tee and heavy boots gave me some change. I think he heard me play the start of Run to Hills by Iron Maiden as a break between classical pieces. I played part of This I Love for him. I think he heard it as he was walking away up down the mile and looked back. I love it when people enjoy music I play.

Busking has helped me get back my love of playing flute. After a five year ihateus I sometimes can’t wait to get playing, and think of all the songs I could learn for busking. It’s getting easier to play. My arms ache less after holding my flute up for hours, and I’m remembering more old songs. My sound is improving. Unlike at school, there is no pressure to be perfect, I just have to be good enough for people passing by to enjoy listening.

Tuesday 7th October- Jenny vs. The Frozen Turnip

My day at class was spent clearing plots and weeding fruit cages. Lovely day, got a bit sunburned. At night, suddenly my face was glowing hot and pink. Glaswegian skin. Us poor old Weegees burn like vampires. 

Cooking night. I made 3 or 4 meals worth of potatoes, turnip and mince. I got the half turnip on Sunday night’s grocery shop for 9 pence. It had not one but two yellow stickers on it. Tonight I found the turnip was very hard to defrost. I had it thawing in a saucepan for over an hour and got so frustrated that at one point I told it defrost you b*****d! while sawing at it with a breadknife. This made one of my flatmates laugh a lot. I hope it’s not the event I’ll be best remembered for.

I cycled to Sainsburys for some bigger groceries. Haunting the delicatessen for discounts at the end of the day, waiting for that miraculous, second yellow bar-code sticker. Unfortunately I was staking out the delicatessen in my yellow cycling anti-death jacket, and therefore extremely conspicuous. I got home with some (one-sticker) discount chicken, among other goodies.

Watched a film with my flatmates.

Eventually the frozen turnip was defeated, thawed, sliced and boiled to mush just to be safe. 

Sunday 5th October- Why phonecalls are special

05/10/14   Sunday   Why phonecalls are special.

As someone who finds listening more difficult than most, I don’t phone unless I have to. I almost always text or email. For most people, perhaps that might seem unusual. I can do phone conversations much more easily than before, it’s just something I tend to not even consider because part of me still remembers it as being difficult. Why would you phone when you could text? Today I realised that it could be because sometimes it’s just to hear someone’s voice. I forget that phoning is the next best thing to seeing someone in person. Just another social understanding that’s suddenly dropped on me like a brick from a great height.  I’ve had a lot of these moments recently.

It’s a bit chilly in my parents’ house. I haven’t really bothered with the central heating. Back at the flat, it’s a nice little student-friendly bubble. Always heated, fast-heating ovens and showers, everything carefully designed to minimise our chances of freezing, poisoning, burning and electrocuting ourselves. The TV is high up on the wall out of reach, and our sofa is waterproofed. There are no water or heating bills to organise, since that’s included in the rent price. So although I feel like I’m living a very independent life sometimes, I am still very sheltered.