Skip to main content

Settings and Sensory Overload

The last few weeks have been stressful, dealing with moving, a new job, two pet cats with issues, and all the little complications along the way. Yet, with what is probably more actual stress than I was experiencing only a few months ago, I tend to feel much better about where I am and where we are going as a family.

Why do I feel better?

My simple answer is because I'm not in an urban setting. The most extreme anxiety I've experienced in PA was not when the basement flooded. It was not even waiting to see how JC did during cancer surgery. It was while driving in Pittsburgh. I hated the drive — intensely. I disliked downtown even more than the driving.

Don't misunderstand, I was plenty worried about J.C. Kitty during his surgery exactly a week ago. It was a lousy feeling to be wondering if I should be with him at the vet hospital, just in case something happened. But it wasn't the sort of stress that causes me to freeze and hide away. In fact, I wanted to do whatever I could for J.C.

But, sitting in traffic on Liberty in downtown Pittsburgh? I wanted to scream. I wanted to stop the car, get out, and run away to anywhere else. I felt claustrophobic; I was trapped and it seemed as though the buildings had me surrounded.

Pittsburgh is actually worse than Minneapolis. It's an older city, a city that wasn't planned or organized. I dislike the disorder. The crowded, random, messy city is overwhelming.

I can't explain it to someone who hasn't lived or worked in West, but L.A. is organized. Phoenix is organized. Heck, I found my own way around Dallas and its suburbs without any problem. I actually loved Dallas. It was so easy to navigate that I felt relaxed, even in traffic.

There's something different about Pittsburgh or Minneapolis. I'm sure I'd collapse in cities like Boston or New York.

It's hard to explain, but I love Los Angeles. I also can't live there and be healthy. I get exhausted by the sounds, the smells, the general noise and hubbub of cities. Sirens, large diesel engines, exhaust smells, and all the rest are too much for me after a few hours. When I went to school in Los Angeles, I escaped often by driving to the beach or to the local mountains. I needed to get out of the city to decompress. I was out of the city almost every weekend. Not one or two weekends a month, but every weekend.

Our new home is quiet. It is calming. It reminds me of the places I would seek out when I had to decompress years ago. It is like the foothills of California.

Maybe I've found home. That would be nice. It will be even more like home when we all here, together. Then, I'll be even more at ease.

Comments

  1. Christopher, have you ever experienced Chicago and its grid? I think you would appreciate it. Daniel Burnham rocks! (He's the guy who created the grid concept in Chicago)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Driving through the Chicago area was tense. The roads weren't in very good shape and traffic was horrible. I also really dislike tall buildings, which are part of Chicago's character. I'm fine inside buildings, I hate to be outside in the "canyons" they create.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments violating the policies of this blog will not be approved for posting. Language and content should be appropriate for all readers and maintain a polite tone. Thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?"

A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.

I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include:
Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…

Listen… and Help Others Hear

We lack diversity in the autism community.

Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.

I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.

What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.

How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.

Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members.…

Life Updates: The MFA Sprint

Life is okay, if more than a little hectic at the end of this first month.

With one month down, I'm 11 months away from my MFA in Film and Digital Technology. Though things might happen and things do go wrong, so far I'm on schedule and things are going well —— though I'm exhausted and working harder than I did for any other degree. Because the MFA requires projects every week, this isn't as easy to schedule as writing. Even researching a paper can be done from the comfort of home, at any hour.

You cannot make movies by yourself, at any time of day. It doesn't work that way. Filming takes time, and often requires a team of people. It's not comparable to working alone on a degree in writing or rhetoric.

The team-based nature of film is exhausting for me, but I enjoy the results. I also like the practical nature of the skills being taught. You either learn how to adjust ISO, f/Stop, shutter speed, and other variables or you don't. You can have theories …