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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

Month

November 2017

So, part of being an Aspie (Asperger’s)…..

………is that there is a tendency to overshare.  I’m very aware of it in myself.

This is what it feels like – having the gas pedal pushed and clamped down into permanent ‘Go’.
The harder I try to stop the flow of words, the worse it gets.  That feeling I described above gets harder to overcome – it becomes a physical pain.  Everything around me is thrown in sharp, distorted, almost fun-house relief.  I become stressed, anxious and panicked.

How do I handle it?

By going with the flow and finding a way to re-direct it. Once I relax into it, I find I can regain control.  That gas pedal feeling goes away.  I can breathe.  Any anxiety or panic starts to dissipate. The world re-sets itself and I am fine.

It’s helpful when I’m with a group of people who know me and understand that I have this disability.  That feeling of being among friends, with whom I feel safe and accepted regardless of location, has helped a lot.

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Isolate

She couldn’t draw in enough breath.

Panic was at the edge of her consciousness – what if she couldn’t get air into her lungs?  It felt as though they had been cut in half, that she had already maximized their capacity.  Then why was she so short of breath?

Voices became a blur of sound.  His voice, however, was distinct, sexualizing her body, targeting her breasts.  She wanted to cry.  Why couldn’t he stop?  Every protest she lodged at him was met with even crueler comments.  So she had given up.  He either did not hear her distress or, if he did, simply didn’t care.

The weight she had lost had crept back.  She lost interest in looking feminine.  Her baggy, over-sized t-shirts were now preferable to the blouses she had once found joy in.  Being invisible seemed safer, somehow.

But she wasn’t.  Because he still saw her as his target.

And the man next to him wasn’t stopping him.  The man next to him was looking at her with desire, not for herself, for her essential humanity, but as an outlet for his own needs.

Can no one see the terror in her?  Are they so used to the first man’s abusive nature that they see nothing wrong with it?

She didn’t know.  Worse, she didn’t know if she could trust them.

Previous installment: Target

Next installment: TBA

Target

She thought, Am I real?

The hard wood of the chair dug into her ass – it felt as if her bones could reach right through her muscle and skin. The bowl of curry – once steaming hot – had begun to cool, untouched, before her. So she supposed she had to be real, at least for this moment.

He was still talking, the words a dull drone of sound, familiar and repugnant.  Was this really her friend?  She had asked him to stop so many times.  But he didn’t.  Instead, each request had only seemed to spur him on.  She wanted to not be sitting across from him.  Wanted to be home, wanted to be safe.  Feeling trapped.  Unsafe, not seen, not heard.

Targeted.

She pulled herself back into the present, willing her gaze to fall anywhere but on the men at her table.

“…..oops, she heard me,” he was saying to the man next to him.

She could feel her face redden, the muscles tightening into a grimace she knew no one would see.  Could see.  Her lungs felt caught in a vise, the pressure a hard weight on her sternum.  She couldn’t breathe.

Can this just please be over? Should I stay? Should I leave? If I leave, they’ll mock me. If I don’t, this will not. Stop.

She had always felt safe here, before.  It was not her preferred choice of hang-out, but even home could be too much of a good thing.  One needed to get out, to experience life, to interact with new people.  To be in an environment that was not familiar.

She was beginning to regret that decision.  Being solitary only hurt when you wanted love.

Were these people her friends?  Couldn’t they see that something was wrong?  Or was she to blame for his words?

How could she be surrounded by people she knew and still feel so alone?  Would they take his word that he was joking?  Because of course he wasn’t.  She knew.  This knot in her stomach, the rock on her chest, her constant checking for escape routes told her otherwise.  She was his target, he had chosen her, and she didn’t understand why.

But this other feeling.  That one she did understand.

Isolated.

Next installment: Isolate

Some Thoughts on a Saturday

Small towns have this very appealing veneer of wholesomeness, untouched by the darkness of a major city.  Norman Rockwell captured this in a lot of his art, making us feel nostalgic for a time and place that never really existed, except in our own minds.  But small towns are actually far more David Lynchian than Norman Rockwell, in part because of human nature – the good, the bad and the very ugly.

I grew up in a small town and still live here.  I’ve always seen both its surface appeal and the dark nature that lay beneath.  I love it for the same reasons I hate it – it’s small, I know almost everyone and life is fairly predictable.

How would I describe my town?  On the surface, it’s very Mayberry – one could fully expect to see Andy Taylor and Barney Fife make their rounds, touching base with residents, tourists and shop owners alike.  But once you’ve been here awhile (or grown up here), you start to get the sense that there’s something else lurking, something dark and unsettling, very like that fictional town of Twin Peaks.

When I was a kid, I used to think there were psychic vampires living in the sewers (this was years before that seminal Stephen King classic IT (1986) was published).  Under the bright sun, I could see darkness and it was everywhere.  It was in my classrooms, it was in the theaters I chose to participate in, it was even in my home.  How do you fight that?

Unlike Twin Peaks, Washington or Derry, Maine, the darkness in my town is not supernaturally related, but very human.

And so is its light.

So, every story I write has its own journal…..

……where I can jot down every idea and thought related to it.  That journal goes with me as I go about my day – you never know when that illuminating idea will strike.  And I enjoy this process because it allows me to keep everything in one place and readily accessible.  I’ve got at least three journals for Novel Now Finished and I expect that it will be the same for the sequel.  Most of my novels (in progress or finished) have more than one journal to document my journey, from inception to completion.

Photo credit: Unknown. But I need this mug.

Writers a funny breed – we observe, we document, we report on our findings, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.  I even keep a story idea box, which has become the repository of random items I find in my daily travels.  And I keep everything – from scraps of old news clippings to a broken pair of glasses, that box is chock full of potential stories.

The more I write and read, the more I’ve learned to discern the voices of other writers.  What does that mean?  Well, if I listen to particular composer’s music often enough, I can find his (or her) musical signature in other compositions.  Same with a particular writer – their ‘voice’ and writing patterns become familiar and within a few seconds of reading, I’ll know who penned that particular piece of writing.

This is all a part of my education as a writer – the more I read, the more I enrich my writing.  And the more I journal the process, the better chance I have of either skipping a step that didn’t work previously or taking it in a new direction.

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