I spent a great deal of my life being told by other people what I should do and not do. What I should want and not want. And what I should be and not be.
Which is pretty rich considering that none of those people was ever actually talking about me. They may have been talking about themselves. Or people they knew. I have no idea.
But I know they weren’t talking about me because they didn’t know me. None of them ever put the pieces together that I was autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome) or dyslexic. Or even asthmatic. I spent my whole childhood on antibiotics that wrecked my immune system and damaged by teeth and bones irreparably — with no effect on the asthma, because no one thought to take me to an ENT, or even a competent general physician.
And since nobody in the 60s knew about dyslexia — nobody noticed. They just chalked my grades up to being lazy or distracted.
Certainly nobody knew about autism. If I hadn’t been mostly neglected as a child, they might have figured out something was really going on and had me drugged and institutionalized. Lucky for me, nobody was paying attention.
Odd, now, that at mid-life, I am just now discovering what my life actually is — and what it is in life that matters to me. My son and his wife, and my husband matter — that’s a given. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have survived long enough to get to this point. And I am outrageously lucky that after having been a single mom for over 18 years — after working back-breaking hours and creativity-killing jobs for nearly 2 decades — after living in cities I hated near all those people who were so catastrophically negligent and abusive for most of my life…
I now find myself in a place I chose. A house I love. A marriage I treasure with a man I adore. — I even have a dog!
And I am discovering what I like. What I choose. What I want. What I care about. What I am afraid of and what I am fearless about.
What I am. It’s an ongoing process.
so here’s the start of a list.
I like coffee strong, dark roasted, and very hot. I like it with a lot of half & half, and real sugar or stevia — but very little of either sweetener. I like “Italian Roast” best (as they all seem to be trying to taste like Illy Caffe) but I also like dark Sumatran blends. I don’t care for black espresso. And the only flavor I really like added to coffee is real cinnamon. I like iced espresso drinks, but not ice-weakened regular coffee.
I love art. I love looking at it. I love making it. I love artists and all their quirkyness and novelty. I love museums, but not galleries; online art supply stores, but not brick and mortar stores. I love pastels and watercolor and collage and line drawings and art assemblies and miniatures –and sculpture! I love abstract art, and impressionism and post impressionism, and cleverly thought-provoking political art. I love almost every painting I’ve ever seen by van Gogh, and almost none that I love by Pollack. I am fascinated by Calder and Bourgois and Rauschenberg — and bored to tears by all but a few of Picasso’s.
I like my breakfast eggs over medium or poached. But I love fried egg sandwiches late at night, and scrambled eggs with ketchup and Tabasco anytime.
I don’t want to go to crowded places. Not crowded restaurants at the noon hour. Or even a place where I have to have a reservation because every table is sold out. Not shopping malls at Christmas or on weekends. Not airports in the crush of loading and unloading. I don’t want to stand in line in a crowded movie theater for a first run blockbuster, or sit on a full bench of strangers in a church — even for a wedding or a funeral. I don’t want to wait in a crowded doctor’s waiting room or even go to the ER on the night of a full moon when all the loons are out. I’d rather sit outside in my car alone until the crowd dissipates — or just stay home.
I like a small cocktail after dinner. Not much — just enough to relax and enjoy a little reading before I go to sleep. I like a salty and spicy Bloody Mary — and I also like a sweet cordial like Bailey’s or Frangelica or Kahlua & Cream. I love the flavor of Southern Comfort — especially with lemonade.
I like tarot cards — especially the art. But I don’t much like reading them for people as they seem to encourage people to accept the world as “happening to them” rather than as something they make happen. I like that I do not see and experience time and causality the way most people do, but I sometimes regret not having such a basic thing in common with most people. This is also true of the way I see and experience deaths.
I love stories. All kinds of stories — but especially fantastical stories. From fairy tales and science fiction to alternate realities and mythical heroes — I love a well-told tale, whether it’s a book, a story told by friends, a great play or musical theater piece, a movie or television story — even a ballet or opera. As long as it’s a story with a beginning, middle and end — I’ll be there.
I love sitting on the porch and watching the dog do dog things like sniffing each blade of grass and licking the dew off every last one until his face is soaked.
I like wearing socks. And soft shoes with laces.
I don’t like brown rice of any kind in any recipe. Period. I do like white Basmati rice, Texamati, Jasmati, Jasmin, and Arborio. And I like whole barley, either pearled (hull-less) or hulled or made into rolled flakes like oats. I like steel-cut oats, Irish Oats, and just about any thing else you can do to oats including oat flour, oat cakes, oat meal, oatmeal hot cereal, oat bran, oat bread — even sweet oat soups.
I’m not too crazy about babies and children. I liked mine okay — but I knew him really well and he was interesting and intelligent and funny. Most others — I should probably wait until they’re grown-up to talk to.
I don’t like “skinny” lattes or non-fat cheese. I’d rather eat or drink half as much and have real food. I like butter but not margarine or “spread.” I like cream and half&half and buttermilk and whole milk — even 2% milk — but not fat-free or 1% except for Organic Valley’s 1% chocolate milk.
I like to sleep on the sofa or in a recliner chair. I like reading until I fall asleep. I like cotton blankets. And I like sleeping in the room with a dog that lets me know if there is something I should be paying attention to.
I don’t like chewing gum, but I like hard candies and mints. I don’t like any commercial candy bars except for a Mr. Goodbar or a KitKat — but I do like organic extra dark chocolate in small amounts. And I really don’t like milk chocolate or any of the cheap chocolate flavored candy that’s made with paraffin or other wax, or that’s had all the cocoa butter stripped out and sold off — then replaced with cheap tropical oils and hydrogenated fats. I don’t like any of the artificial sweeteners, and I’d rather drink alka-seltzer than a soda made with high-fructose corn syrup or sugar-free substitutes.
I like orange. And green and purple. In fact — I like just about every color there is. And I like the all at once. All over the place. I like colors that vibrate and others that are subdued and grayed or silvered. I don’t much like animal prints on anything but the original animal. And I don’t care for sequins and rhinestones. Or real stones, for that matter. I like representational jewelry — silver and gold that has been cast or carved or etched to look like real things.
I like to visit other places, but I’m not crazy about traveling. I hate airplane travel and everything associated with it. But I love wandering around in new cities and driving through beautiful and unusual territory. I love the ocean, though I’ve never been on an ocean worthy boat. I’m not crazy about lake-boating, and could go the rest of my life without it. But I do like ferry boats and riverboats.
I love to play games and cards — but I don’t like casinos.
I love live shows, theater, the circus, and baseball. I love amusement parks, aquariums, zoos, picnics, and outdoor cafes. I like factory tours and seasonal festivals and state fairs and carousels — but not roller coasters or ferris wheels.
I like having a large breakfast/brunch, and then a bowl of soup or a salad for dinner. Three meals a day turns out to be 1 too many for me. Though I kind of like a cookie. or a piece of cheese and a cracker late in the evening. And I like a cup of milk in the middle of the night when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep.
I like to keep the house at about 64 degrees F.
I like ice in just about any drink except hot coffee or tea or chai or cocoa. And even those I like iced as well as hot. And I like a lot of ice.
I like Mac computers. And smartphones — but especially the iPhone. I like being paperless and not owning a printer. I like having the world of information at my fingertips all the time — and I like what a different way of experiencing the world that is from every generation that’s ever come before.
I like sitting in a quite room and reading or listening to an actor read a book aloud in and interesting way. I like driving while listening to stories and books. I like listening to some books read aloud on CD or iTunes — and listening to them again and again like bedtime stories that are full of familiar and friendly characters. I like knowing what happens next. And I like the surprise of a writer telling me a story I’ve never heard before — and that I can’t imagine the ending until it’s all told. I love genius and exploration and invention.
I like whole days to go by without having to know what people want or are thinking. And without having to guess at the things I’m probably missing. I like not having to be something I’m not.
I like my life. I’ve always liked parts of my life. But now — the parts I didn’t like or couldn’t understand seem to have faded away. And it’s a very different existence without all those things.