Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Tenfold Joy Of Happy Flapping When The Vibes Are Bad

29. Good Vibes: What makes you smile? What makes you happy?

You know how some people don't like the word moist?  They almost feel physical pain when they hear the word.  Moist, moist, moist, moist.  Personally I can't see the problem.  There's nothing wrong with moist.  But vibes?  I don't like that word.  Vvvvvv eye b zzzz.  It sounds wrong.  I like vibrations.  Vibrations are good.  Vibes are not.  There can only be bad vibes.

This day of the writing blog isn't going to be a writing blog.  Instead I'm going to post some photos from one folder on my laptop.  These were taken in different places over a period of a few weeks.  They show a few of the things that made me smile during those days.  I can say that I have been happy flappy about everything below.  I get happy flappy quite often.  One of the advantages of accepting myself as autistic is that I now know getting flappy isn't a bad thing.  I've been able to drop the guilt.  Stop being so ashamed of myself for wanting to flap.  I've been able to stop devoting so much energy to acting normal and repressing what is, for me, a perfectly natural reaction to the ecstatic joy autistic people may often feel.  I've also been learning to repress other reactions less.  Rocking, whether in peace or anxiety.  Odd shudders that aren't odd at all.  I've been learning to be me, learning to be autistic.  Learning self-acceptance in an even deeper way than I did when I accepted myself as female.  I am immensely thankful that I know I am autistic.  It's a two-edged sword but I am glad that I found out.

I have learned that happy flappy is good.  Very good indeed.

So here are ten happy flappy pictures, with a little explanation to accompany each image.

This first dream catcher picture is almost worth a writing prompt of its own.  If the dream catchers were powerful.  If they caught the dreams of each person in the cafe and threw them into other customers so you would arrive with one dream and leave with another, better or worse, bigger or smaller.  Make it random.  Make it more ordered.  Or add in an elite in charge of the cafe who would cream off the best dreams, stealing them for whatever purpose.  Add in a horrific version in which the dream catchers malfunction causing each person to leave without dreams, leading them all despairingly to end their own lives.  Add in a situation where some of the dreams can become real.  Add in whatever you like that's even more of an experience than the happy flappy time of sitting among the dream catchers.

The picture was taken in The Wonder Inn in Manchester.  It's a place to which I will return.  It felt like a safe space for me.  Almost directly across the road is an entrance to the Arndale Centre, a vast city centre temple of commercialism and normality.  The contrast between the Arndale and The Wonder Inn is immense.  Many people would prefer the former but as for me, I have not been happy flappy there or breathed in a helping of relaxation.

Number plates!  I love them.  I always loved them and grew up playing games with them.  When I was five I went out with my brother spotting car number plates.  This involved writing down the number of every car we saw.  No other details.  Just a number plate.  On that Friday afternoon we found a stolen car, it was returned to its owner and the thieves arrested.  We were given a reward of five pounds and the local press lied about it.  We learned early not to trust the media.

So from the age of five I've loved number plates.  We played with the numbers - counting games, maths games, spotting games.  I used to love finding the prime factors.  Strange child!  We played with the letters.  We enjoyed seeing odd number plates.  I remember not being able to suppress my happy flapping as a child when I saw the plate reading "F1ELD".

Then there was this bus, seen at Leigh bus station.  What could be more smile making than that?  The soft toys, by the way, are Blob Thing and Winefride.  They're autistic too.  Blob helped me a lot last year and without him I don't think I would ever have begun this writing project. 

This person.

She makes me smile.  She makes me happy.  She hangs soft toys from theatrical costumes of passing characters in a shopping centre.  She makes me laugh.  Sometimes our friendship can be hard but that's true of all friendships.  If it wasn't hard sometimes it wouldn't mean so much.  I look at this picture.  I remember.  And I smile again and feel warm inside.  Which is just as well because it's bloody freezing today.  The heating is on full.  I have an extra jumper.  And my fingers are still so cold they don't really want to type.

Lights.  Pretty lights.  These make me smile.  I have friends who own stunning lights that do amazing things.  Friends who own marvellous sensory equipment too.  But this light is mine.  It moves on the ceiling and I feel good.  At least for a few minutes until it gives me a headache!  I have a remote controlled colour lamp too and a unicorn who lights up the ceiling with stars.

I'd been feeling very sad for a week before this photo was taken.  I hadn't functioned well at all.  Then I forced myself to go out.  See something I'd seen before - a mining museum.  And see something I hadn't seen before - this lake and park.  Everything made me smile.  Between the sky, the surprising warmth, the water, plants and birds it took away much of the malaise I'd been suffering.  Then this happened:

I rode on the train, a return ticket through the country park.  I hadn't known the railway would be open and got very excited indeed when I was told I could be taken on the train.  I was the only passenger, barring the two soft toys who rode with me.  It was so exciting and out of all the moments I'm showing you this was the one that produced the most hand flapping.  I couldn't hold back on the excited noises either.  It was pretty awesome.  Next time I want to pay an extra few pounds.  If you do that you can drive the train.  Oh my God!  Oh my God!  I've got to go back.

Back to Manchester.  This place produced hand flapping and smiles.  It's a free creative space in the Northern Quarter in which you can be yourself and play with words and images.  The woman who started it is a poet.  If ever she offers to recite her poem about Afflecks (a most excellent place) I'd advise you to accept her offer.  We talked for ages about shared interests.  And by the time I'd left I'd resolved to visit a social group in Manchester whenever I could.  A couple of weeks ago I made it to that group and I smiled again.

Then there's this cafe.  I've known about it for a while.  It's deep in a basement, though there is natural light at the back.  I'd stood at the top of the stairs before, staring down into the unknown.  I'd walked away because descending on my own was too frightening a concept and my anxiety levels bounced out of my body.  Last month I made it down the stairs.  Many smiles.  Happiness.  Another place where I feel at home.  Another central Manchester refuge for me.  I've visited several times now, drunk tea, eaten toasties, sat and written or read.  I've even been to a kind of not-church church there.  And if you ever want to see a well decorated loo I'd recommend theirs.

This was taken in Manchester's Northern Quarter too.  It represents street art.  A lot of times, these pictures make me smile.  I take pictures of the art I see and it means more to me than most of what I see in galleries where the "proper" art is to be found.  One day I need to post all the photos online, show the world what clever people live in Manchester and closer to home.  The artistic spaces in Newcastle, Sunderland and Gateshead all deserve visiting.

The sea.  The sea.  [note to self: read Iris Murdoch books.]

This was a beautiful time.  I was with the person seen above and there was as much craziness as usual and as usual I refused to participate.  My urgent nooooooo was repeated.  After taking this picture I joined in and she was right.  It was fun.  It did bring smiles.  Afterwards I had my palm read by a Victorian penny arcade machine.  The arcade manager had to fix the machine before it would read my palm.  Then he had to fix it again before it gave me my fortune.  Apparently I am going to have twins.  I'm not quite sure how that's going to work out but am pretty sure the whole experience is going to become a writing prompt one day.

So there you have it.  Ten memories.  Ten occasions in which my smile has turned to happy flapping.

With my apologies that today's writing challenge blog wasn't filled with brilliant writing.  No strange stories today unless you think my life is strange.  Perhaps tomorrow I will return to my normal strangeness.  The prompt is about shopping and at this point I don't have the first inkling of an idea what will be written.

[1602 words]

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