Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Chicana Aspie style!

Chocolate and marshmallow buddies!
Well, it's full swing into the holiday season and however you celebrate or not, I hope it's not a time for overload, but of calming peace with whatever and whomever brings you joy! The following is a Chicana Aspie Aritst experience about this time of year.

As an Aspie (person with Aspergers) the holidays can  be a real challenge or a great sense of wonder especially for the artist part of me. Its all in how the day goes and if I watch out for the overload, protect my quiet time, and make sure I wear what I call my "Chicana warrior shield" to keep the negative energy away and screen the input.

For instance, it can be a total sensory overload with scratchy bulky sweaters that make you hold your arms out like Randy in The Christmas Story movie. So this year my Beloved introduced me to a new type of layering that doesn't involve bulk. I know you NTs (Neural typicals vs Aspies) are saying "well, yeah!" But for Aspies we need help with what I call the "simple and obvious". We have a blindness to certain things and one of them is fashion. No matter how I try to study, research, and focus, I am still blind. I literally have a "blank" for certain things and while it is a biological fact,  I keep trying to outsmart it.  I dream of the day someone creates an adult version of the Garanimals with tags that let you know what goes with what. I just go for texture and color which can get me into a mess because sometimes my eyes are reading great combinations for art and not what to wear on my body. Needless to say, I can be pretty creative with my attire at home. For other places, I have what I call "my drag" to fit the scene. Ok, so back to the holiday.

There is the assault of smells during the holidays that are not normally present year round. An abundance of them. Now the smells of tamales, cilantro, pico de gallo, chocolate con chile, and pan de dule are welcome any time of the year! But the wrong smell or too harsh can land you with a headache for days. Anyone with sensory processing disorder or allergies can attest to heed the warning and proceed with caution. Sounds can do the same so watch out for those motion activated "things" that start yelling at you when you walk by. I know they are supposed to be funny, but listen people I have a startle reflex with a hair trigger! So I try to keep my eyes open to avoid the hazards and try to focus on the good stuff. Like songs that get stuck in your head and play over and over. Not so good in an NT world from what I hear, but for us Aspies it can be heaven. Predictability is a comfort most times and knowing what comes next is the best gift ever! So bring on the holiday music one more time. Same goes for the flashing lights. This can go either way, if the pattern is not offensive and the brightness is just right it can be a most calming experience. If it's not, I might as well go rock in a corner.

Then there is the obligatory visits from and with folks that can be a challenge to talk with any time of the year!  And now you are expected to "socialize for the fun of it"?  This can be a challenge with all the holiday parties so if you don't see me much its not you, its me, really. I love my friends and family but an introverted Aspie can only take so much. Love ya, mean it, but gotta go. Don't take offense.  I just need to love and "hang" in small doses, nothing personal. I just get drained when I have to be around people for extended periods of time. I really enjoy it, but when I hit my max I need to recharge. Thanks for understanding. It seems more difficult as a Chicana because there are "supposed" to be people everywhere for the gathering. I am just going to buckle my shield a bit tighter and enjoy mi gente as long as I can. But from the Aspie view, which is very logical, we have all year to socialize. Why does everyone go into hyper-socializing at the holidays? Can't we spread it out throughout the year?

Well, I have had a great time with my Beloved doing some marathon shopping. This is the first time since I was young that I am the one who is overflowing with gifts. Yes, I am consentida (spoiled) beyond belief, but at my age its about time so I am learning to love it! Mil gracias mi amor!

 So we go shopping, but there were people everywhere. Normally I am good at tuning out only those I have to interact with so it I can protect my inventory of energy. But the people stalking me in the store! This one particular instance I don't think it was about what I might steal, but to make sure I was going to buy. She kept bringing me things like she knew my sons taste. She interrupted my flow of concentration already challenged by all the other people in the store. I wanted to say to her "get outta my face, go put some clothes on 'cause it's winter, and even if you do bring something he might like I won't buy it cause you stuck it in my face!". I didn't say it. I kept the inside voices inside and walked away. I did make sure she got the commission on the sale. Reluctanly.

All this just to say is that if you know someone who doesn't "act" the way you think they "should", this time of year especially, give them a break. There are a lot of us out there that don't broadcast we are challenged, its just part of our everyday life. But it would be nice if you noticed we might be taking a step back to nurture ourselves. Just need the space. We eventually will bounce back and have just as much fun hanging out with you. And we just might be wearing the most interesting outfit at the party!

Here are some photos I took. I have discovered that I do this  to keep me focused on things to calm me in a store. It's a system I developed for myself with many uses. It keeps people away since they are not sure why I am taking photos of everyday things. It tickles my eyes and stirs my muse with colors, textures, and shapes, and its a nice way to record the world from my eyes. Hope you enjoy! Happy Holidays, however you choose to celebrate this time of year!

Candy holiday lights.

Could it be a Chicano santa and his compadres?

Venados de chocolate

Chocolate and cookie forest!

An edible color wheel.

Bakery goodies

Spice pattern inspiration that tickles all the senses!
Candy tree!

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