Y is for You – Other Cool Blogs: Mythcreants 1/31/2020

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You Should Know (Y is for You)

I’m on the spectrum. Like many autistic people, I have sensory issues. Noise has a physical feel against my skin, more sources means a bigger reaction. Level of sound, pitch of sound, how crowded it is, how tired I am, time of day. All impact the pressure. For visual, a busy activity with lots of moving parts is overwhelming. I like simple lines for my furniture. Food flavors, I need simple in the morning, but as the day goes on, I can have more variation off of normal. By nightfall, Doritos are fine.

I have social issues reading people, and from how people have responded to me over the years, my inability to give the “right” body language back, makes them uncomfortable. I suck at job interviews. My wordings when speaking and writing are not-neurotypical.

Best example of this. At a Christmas party, someone was explaining how their chronic disease was progressing and how they were sad that they might miss a milestone in their child’s life.

Now, my autistic self knows the rule of “don’t tell someone it is going to be okay, when it isn’t.” So I didn’t do the poo-haw that everyone else was attempting of “no, the disease isn’t that bad” or “they might come up with a better medicine.” Instead, I said, “You might linger.” The chronic disease was, you know, chronic, so progression was slow. I was trying to give her hope of seeing the milestone because she might survive that long.

Everyone stopped talking and stared at me.

I wish I could say this was the only time I was completely out of “normal” social line, but it is just one of many examples.

BTW, I still stand by that emotional support. I didn’t want to lie or create false hope. I still think lingering was the truest, closest to reality answer for her situation.

Anyway, Juliette Dunn posted on 1/31/2020 to Mythcreants, “Six Things Writers Should Know About Autistic People.” If you have any questions related to the article based on my particular experience with the different mental wiring, write them in the comments below.

Other Cool Blogs: Eric Smith 3/17/2021

“I told people I’m open to having wheelchair people working for me, why hasn’t anyone applied?” 
“I don’t know, maybe because your store is on the second floor and there is no elevator?”
Has this happened to you? Have you opened your business to a minority group and they haven’t applied? For a completely random example, saying you want to publish Neurodivergent writers.
You did everything right, just like you always do. You put out the call. Paid for the FB ads, announced it at conventions. All the traditional means of reaching writers. You tell the group to just fill out things like normal through the query.
Metaphorically speaking, you are telling people in wheelchairs to come up icy steps, when you tell neurodivergent people to follow all the normal steps done by the neurotypical. If they could do the neurotypical actions, you wouldn’t need to reach out to them.
Eric Smith, a literary agent, went looking for neurodivergent writers to represent. When they didn’t respond with a title wave of query letters, he went to his twitter group and asked “why?”
The answer was “HOW????”
“Discussing Barriers in Querying and Pitching for Neurodivergent Writers” by Eric Smith, 3/17/2021. https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/blog/2021/3/17/barriers-in-querying-amp-pitching-for-neurodivergent-writers
I’ve discussed the barriers I face attending conventions and any other in-person interaction. This article covers a wider array of neurodivergent challenges. Read it.
Post script – remember that ND stories are not going to read like standard stories. You want a different type of writer, you are going to get a different type of story.

F is for Finish

There were so many instruments in the room to explore and James went from one to another; except the mouth instruments, Mom said you don’t share those. He stopped when he realized he had been hearing his mom’s call tone on his tablet for a while. Opening the case, James swiped the tablet to see his mom’s face.

“You okay! Are you okay sweetheart!” His mom’s panicked face filled the screen.

“Yes Mom.” James looked down at his tablet.

“Why aren’t you at home?”

“I went to a job interview.”

“A what?”

A smile spread over James face. He had surprised her. “A job interview.”

“Where is it? How did you get there? Are you okay? Do I need to come?” Question after question came faster than James could answer, so he froze staring down at his mom until she realized what she had done and stopped to breathe.

After a long inhale and exhale, James knew his mom had done her reset and he didn’t have to answer anything she had just asked. He waited for the questions he needed to answer. “Where are you?”

“I’m at 439 West Franklin Avenue.”

“That’s halfway across town!”

James smiled again, and his mom smiled softly back at the rare expression. “I took the bus on my own.”

His mom brought a hand to her mouth, pressing her fist against her lips.

“If I may?” A deep voice interrupted. James had forgotten Mr. Hartgrove was there.

“Who are you?” His mother asked when the large man’s head came over James’ shoulder.

“The Duke. Owner of a recording studio downtown, Pickin and Strummin. Just thought to let you know I will be hiring James here as a studio musician.”

“You … ah.” His mother inhaled and exhaled again. “You know he has … special needs.”

“Yeah, Miles Hammer walked me through a few things and I know I’m going to need to learn a bit more, but it will be worth it.” Mr. Hartgrove put his hand on James’ shoulder who quickly stepped away and turned to face the man, backing away further. The man wiped his face before muttering, “Yep, need to learn a few things.” After shaking his head, Mr. Hartgrove pulled back his shoulders, standing bigger and wider than ever before. “Can you turn the screen around so I can talk to … your mother?”

“Yes.” James said, doing as the man asked, but not coming any closer.

“Sorry by the way. The Hammer told me not to touch you or the tablet. My bad.” Mr. Hartgrove spread his arms wide, before nodding to the screen. “Mrs. Cohn?”

“Yes?” The woman’s eyes bounced around the room now showing.

“We need to talk. Your son just played some of the best damn rainbow I have ever heard, over four hours without repeat and on every damn thing I got here. I want him. I can’t pay him much and it will be mostly part-time gigs and nothing outside of the studio, but it will be honest work.” The Duke shrugged, for most people what he and his company could offer was insulting unless they bled music.”If he is okay with it, I’ll drive him home and we can talk over dinner. I’ll have Miles meet us there?”

“I took the bus here.” James said.

“Which mean he needs to take the bus home,” his mom explained from the screen.

“Alright, I got to close up shop and get things together, anyway. How about I meet you at seven? Wherever you are comfortable. I’ll bring Chinese or pizza.”

“Stuffed crust pizza, with mushroom and pepperoni but no olives or sausage. Tomato sauce. It isn’t pizza unless it has red sauce. “

Duke looked up at the kid holding the screen. “Alright, pizza it is. Any particular chain?”

The End


A to Z Short Story List Breakdown

Rainbow Spectrum (A to F)

4/1/2019 – A is for Adapt
4/2/2019 – B is for Bus
4/3/2019 – C is for Courage
4/4/2019 – D is for Duke
4/5/2019 – E is for Eclectic
4/6/2019 – F is for Finish

Next story: Marathon Party (G to M)

E is for Eclectic

“Alright boy. Miles the Hammer said you got chops and dragged me out to your senior concert last month. You were good, but not great. Everything was technically perfect, but no heart. I was unhappy and let the Hammer know.”

James sat and stared. He knew pauses meant people wanted a response, except when they didn’t. He wasn’t sure if Mr. Hartgrove wanted a response or not.

“Nothing to say?”

The word went up at the end, so James recognized it as a question. It was a question he heard a lot. Mom had taught him the proper answer is always, “No sir.” It saved her from having a lot of problems to solve later.

“Alright. Good enough.” The man spilled over the sides of his stool and towered over James even sitting down. “Well, the Hammer said you got heart, you just wanted everything to be right for the concert. Now sometimes I’m going to want everything to be technically correct when we do backup work and I will let you know when that happens. But right now, I’m going to want you to play with your heart. You understand?”

James thought, looking down at his tablet. After several moments, the three bells went off when the music changed. Mr. Hartgrove had not interrupted his thinking, but the bells reminded James he needed to do something. “I need to answer the question.”

“That would be helpful.”

The words were lighter, higher than the previous words Mr. Hartgrove had been saying, which meant an emotional change, but James couldn’t guess at it. He wanted to ask, like he did with Mr. Hammer and Miss Grace, to understand, but he wasn’t sure if he could do that during the interview. Mr. Hammer said to answer questions, not ask them. “You understand.” James repeated. “Oh, you want me to play rainbow.” He looked up quickly then returned his eyes to the screen.

“Play rainbow? What do you mean by that?”

Speaking to the floor, James tried to remember how Mr. Hammer explained things to him. “Notes on the music. Those are rain. Lots of things falling together. Boring since you get stuck in places. But you have to learn to play the notes right, because sometimes you need rain for things to grow. To grow as a musician, you have to learn how to play rain. But once you have learned the rain, the sun can come out and you can add the rainbow. Each person pays a different rainbow, so you can’t do that in concerts. Not concerts with others. Concerts are for rain, but playing by yourself, that is rainbow time.”

“Alright, I get that.” The black man stood. “Let’s go into the studio and have you play a rainbow.” He pressed a few buttons. “I’m going to record it so I can listen it to it later. Let’s go.” Mr. Hartgrove led James to room with padding and even more instruments, including an upright piano.

The large man picked up a guitar and plucked a few notes, checking the tuning. While he did that, James unslung the case on his back, flipped it over from the guitar shape to the violin side and lifted out the smooth wood instrument and his bow. He placed the tablet in standby mode, then into the padding, and closed the case.

“Not much call for violin here, but then I don’t have anyone who can play it well.” Mr. Hartgrove set aside the guitar in his hands. “Alright, let’s hear it.”

Thinking about the uniform man downstairs, James started with some hot jazz he had on his tablet repeat and followed it with a pop song he thought worked better on the fiddle than the electric guitar. Enjoying himself, he set aside the violin and went over to the upright. There he did a Sousa march to test out the sound before seguing into a honkeytonk.


A to Z Short Story List Breakdown

Rainbow Spectrum (A to F)

4/1/2019 – A is for Adapt
4/2/2019 – B is for Bus
4/3/2019 – C is for Courage
4/4/2019 – D is for Duke
4/5/2019 – E is for Eclectic
4/6/2019 – F is for Finish

D is for Duke

James racked his brain for the other times he had gotten on elevators. His parents avoided them since he was prone to meltdowns in small spaces, but when he was younger, they had him push buttons. James looked at the buttons. Fourth floor. Fourth is four. So … push the four? After pressing the number, it lit with an orange glow and the lift started rising.

When the doors opened, he stepped out into an area with four sets of doors again, but a different carpet and an open space either side of the door area, both with glass walls and signs with arrows.

The uniform person had said “Pickin and Strummin.” James walked over to each set of signs and read all the words, then he walked back to the first side which had the recording studio name. After reading the words a second time just to be sure, he turned three steps in the direction of the arrow and walked down the hall. After seven paces, a metal post in the middle of the hall held up a paper with the studio’s name and a picture of a guitar and a fiddle. Plus another arrow pointing to a set of glass doors with the name of the company painted on them.

He made it. Even without instructions!

Looking at his screen, he read the instructions to the point where he had run into trouble. “Go through the doors.” Relief flooded him to be back on track.

There was a woman sitting behind the desk. “Hello, Mrs. Banko.” Handing the sour-faced receptionist the tablet wasn’t any easier than it had been with the uniform man, but he managed to do it the second time in a single day. He leaned forward a little, since the receptionist was sitting down and he still hadn’t taken out the earbuds. Three bell tones went off between songs, reminding him to pay attention and see if he had lost track of things. James was very pleased he didn’t need the reminder to pay attention to the world around him. He was doing it!

“Ah, Miles’ protegee. Go on back, the Duke is waiting to hear you play.” She slapped the tablet into his outstretched hand, startling James.

“Wh…where?” He looked around the room, fighting not to rock. Mr. Hammer said not to rock during the interview, except to music.

“Oh for goodness sakes.” Mrs. Banko huffed. “You better be worth it.” The woman stood, and plowed around several chairs, dodged some boxes, and went down a barely lit hallway.

Inhaling deeply, James whispered his magic words and followed.

“Jim Cohn is here,” the receptionist yelled as she opened the door to the very large black man in front of an incredibly large bank of buttons, levers, and lights. The man was not brown like James or his father or Mr. Krick or Mr. Hammer where light reflected back a warm yellow or orange. He was a black so deep James only saw blue where light from the bare bulbs hit. Turning back to the young man behind her, Mrs. Banko ordered, “Next time you come back here on your own, look over the door before coming in. If it is red, you wait. Maybe press the button. If it is green, you can go in.”

“I…I.” James froze under her hostility and unclear instructions.

“Marge, that is enough. Get.” The resounding bass filled the space and rolled over James, tightening his fears with its firmness.

“Well I never!” The woman stomped to the door and slammed it shut.

The black man, Mr. Hartgrove, waved James to come over. “Don’t mind Marge. She is always like that.”

“I…” James quivered, pulling his tablet to his chest.

“Ah.” The owner stilled and rearranged his face. When he spoke again, the voice was just as deep, but kind and slow. “We will need to work with her if we hire you. Can you come over here and sit in this chair beside me?”

“Yes.” James walked carefully around the cables, instruments, and parts of instruments to sit on the ripped vinyl top of the stool.


A to Z Short Story List Breakdown

Rainbow Spectrum (A to F)

4/1/2019 – A is for Adapt
4/2/2019 – B is for Bus
4/3/2019 – C is for Courage
4/4/2019 – D is for Duke
4/5/2019 – E is for Eclectic
4/6/2019 – F is for Finish