Social skills boot camp

My friend Melissa is here for two weeks. She is one of those Gen-Y jet-set types. But she flew here, to Wisconsin, from Hong Kong, where she just quit her job in finance to become a nanny in Italy.

I was going to tell you that I love her because she is taking amazing photos with her zillion-dollar camera of stuff on the farm that I can see but I can’t figure out how to get in a photo. Like this. It’s just my house. But it’s the magic of my house in the winter.

What I really want to tell you about Melissa though, is that she quit her $150,000/year in international finance to hang out with some nine-year-old Italian after school. She speaks Chinese, which is how she got the family to pay her enough money. The family really wanted a nanny who could fix the kid’s English accent because English tutor was from Sweden. But now they’re getting a two-for-one: Their kid will learn English with an American accent and Chinese with an American accent, too.

Like me, Melissa has Asperger’s Syndrome. So I can finish her sentences for her, and she can finish my sentences. Which is funny because neither of us ever shuts up. So there are really never any sentences to finish.

We are both very high-functioning for people with Asperger’s. Both of us were in special ed classes in high school. And both of us were in honors classes as well. We spend a lot of time helping each other deal with Asperger’s. Here are things we do.

1. Stop circular thinking.

When I want something to happen that does not seem to be going to happen, I cannot stop talking about it. Like, somehow, if I keep talking, nothing bad will happen. Melissa tells me: Shhh! And snaps her finger like I’m a dog. If she does that, I am quiet. Not because I want to be, but because I know I have a problem that I can’t shut up when I don’t like something, so if someone tells me to shut up, I need to do that.

When she arrived at the house, there was a huge pile of dishes in the sink because I was too upset with the farmer to keep the house clean. I had to obsess about how upset I was, and then I had to tell her, and I told her I was going to die. And she said, “Shhh!” And then she started taking pictures to document the mess.

So often if I just stop talking about something, it goes away. But I don’t have that natural inclination.

2. No emails longer than 300 words.

Melissa sends endless emails. She is generally right, about everything, but people don’t care. They don’t want to read anyone’s discussion of why they are right for five paragraphs. So Melissa tries to just send 300 words, no matter what topic is. I do positive reinforcement by not reading anything from her that I think is too long.

This goes for talking, too. I mean, it doesn’t really matter if you’re right if you’re boring. Melissa and I help each other to know when the talk is getting boring. That, or we just talk over each other.

3. Xanax as a backup

I never used to be a Xanax person. In fact, I’m scared of it because I think I could become addicted. But it’s so easy for someone with Asperger’s to go into an anxiety attack. Many people with Asperger’s choose not to vary from their routine at all. They eat the same thing every day and go to the same places every day. Some people like routine so much that they will drive ten miles out of the way just to drive on roads they already know. Melissa and I know tons of self-soothing mechanisms: yoga, hot bath, meditation. But if nothing works, Melissa decides it is a chemical imbalance, and she takes a Xanax. Now, when I am panicking about the farmer — it’s almost always about the farmer: he doesn’t love me, he’s leaving, he wants a dog instead of me — I take a Xanax.

4. Serotonin replacements

I haven’t written about medication on the blog. And look, I wasn’t even going to write about it here, but I can’t write about Melissa with out writing about it.

Do you know who diagnosed Melissa with Asperger’s? Me. I can spot someone a mile away. Then she got herself officially diagnosed and then she found this doctor who explained to her that she has extra dopamine because her serotonin is absorbed too quickly. She needs to slow down the serotonin uptake to balance her out. Then she read on my blog that I can have a day where all I eat is bread — actually, I have had probably ten million days where all I eat is bread — and she told me I need to replace bread with a serotonin uptake inhibitor.

5. There is no five.

This post is digressing into a post about medicating yourself for anxiety. Okay. So all of you who have ever written to me about how you think numbered-lists are for philistines and if I want to write a numbered list I should write for Cosmo. Well, first of all, I’d die of happiness to write for Cosmo because it would mean that someone finally acknowledged that I have skills in the bedroom. But look, now I’m doing the un-list. I have a list that is not a list because list item number five is that Melissa got me to take medication, and I’m happy.

If this were a list with sub-points — like, a, b, and c — they would be about all the reasons I don’t take my medication. Just yesterday I was talking to my therapist about how the only reason I’m trying really hard to take my medication regularly is because a big sign of manic-depression is that the person doesn’t take their medication.

She laughed. She said it’s not just manic depressives — it’s everyone. They feel better and then they stop.

Maybe this is true. Here’s another thing. Next time I write a post where I’m sad or happy or I don’t know what, I don’t want you guys saying, “Did you take your medicine?”

You know how when you throw a fit at your boyfriend and he asks you if you have PMS? It sucks, right? Because whether or not you have PMS, the premise of the fit is still true — the boyfriend, or the world, or whatever is still pissing you off.

At the beginning of the post, my ideas were nice and organized about what I was going to write about Melissa. Now, I’m on shaky territory. I hate people telling me I’m crazy because crazy is not interesting. I want you to think I’m like you. I like being around Melissa so much because she makes me feel normal.

She has never visited my house before, but when she got here, she immediately gravitated to our yellow disc. She said, “What’s this for?”

I said, “For standing.”


“It’s calming to people who have self-regulating issues.”

But I didn’t need to tell her. She was already using it.

88 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. econobiker
    econobiker says:

    Trust fund or family wealth?

    Remember that money never matters to those who always have had it,have it now, and will have it no matter what silly job they do or don’t do.

    Once ensconce in those circles, you get all kinds of contacts to further make money, which of course doesn’t matter to you at that point because of the above…

  2. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I am so jealous of Melissa. For speaking Chinese, for having the courage to quit a great job in HK for one in Europe, for knowing you in real life. Not for deciding to take care of someone else’s kid, though. Even if the kid is going to be at school for most of the time and during that time she’s just going to be in Italy. Anyway, I can just eat bread too, but mostly I eat it as well as everything else I was going to eat, which I think is worse. Once I ate a whole box of cereal in one day. (Don’t do that.)

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re fascinating. But then my biggest fear is to fade into oblivion and just be normal. And some people that are too normal frustrate me; the ones that like doing things just because that’s how it’s always been done and they don’t bother to ask questions about why it’s done like that. I don’t know if any of this means anything. Maybe what it means is that I’m crazy, too.

  3. Lauren Milligan
    Lauren Milligan says:

    Econobiker – I agree with you 100%. PT, I’m a bit nervous for you because of all the (usually rare) typos. I’m hoping the reason is that you rushed through this because you want to spend time with your friend.

  4. Socorro
    Socorro says:

    I love it! You have Melissa and she is a friend who understands you! Who could ask for more? I love her photos. I love your rantings. Keep writing. Ask Melissa to tell me how I can be a nanny in Italy. I speak English and Spanish. I probably have Asperger’s but only Penelope can diagnose me.

  5. DAVE
    DAVE says:

    Serotonin-uptake inhibitors such as…?

    Links to any additional info on this?

    (Yes, I’m a bread-lover too!)

      • KatherineB
        KatherineB says:

        Melissa, I used to take exactly that combo too. I came off Seroquel when I got pregnant. Now I take Zoloft, which is my favorite all-around but gives me insomnia so I have to take Ambien. Anti-depressants saved my life 20 years ago so I’m glad people are talking about it. Have fun with Penelope!

  6. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    I’m stuck on the point about the pms. i found (menopause now..) it flattering when people would say you must be getting your period. What I heard was ‘you are usually rational, or clear-thinking, or not like the way you are being right now’ — which was usually very ugly/angry or depressed. so i took it as a compliment.

    That said, even if the premise of an argument is true – if you deliver it in a toxic box instead of as a nicely wrapped gift…no one is going to open it.

    Just an analogy someone once shared with me that i really liked…so i’m sharing it with you.

    also…i think crazy is much more interesting than normal. normal is predictable. what’s interesting about that?

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  7. .Bryan
    .Bryan says:

    I agree with Lauren about the typos….and wonder if its due to the upset with the farmer or your excitement about Mellisa, or something else? And if Mellisa has a camera I’m sure some of us wonder what Mellisa looks like….Hint Hint….

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m upset about the typos. I’ve written so much about the typos on this blog that I should have a special category for typos. I am summarizing here:

      1. I don’t see the typos.
      2. I edit so many times before I post, and I don’t write ahead of time. So I’d have to pay someone $200 a post to be there sitting for me ready to fix typos.
      3. I have an editor, but editors do content, not copy editing. To have two people hired to do each post would be insane. It’s a blog.

      Conclusion: There’s a reason that newspapers don’t have typos and newspapers are going out of business.

      Sidenote: Melissa says she will be my proofreader for this week.


      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        “Conclusion: There’s a reason that newspapers don’t have typos and newspapers are going out of business.”

        I think I get the meaning of this conclusion but I’m not sure. Is it the insistence of the newspaper professionals or its customers that there should be no typographical errors or grammar mistakes?
        The people who have read newspapers or magazines most all of their life have come to expect a product that is close to perfection. So now even though there’s a digital format alternative to news content, people will still remember the hard copy newspaper and hold that up as the standard and expect to see it in the digital realm. A newspaper with mistakes is ‘forever’ – it can’t be modified similar to a digital copy. Why should I care about something written on the Internet with typos and grammar problems when it “doesn’t belong to me” (as a hard copy), it’s ‘free’, and I won’t see it most likely after I move on to the next page on my browser? This is not complete but I’m trying to say it’s a perception problem. I don’t care about the occasional typo or grammar mistake. What I do care about is the ease of reading and being able to follow the train of thought and meaning by the author. The structure of the article as mentioned by you in a recent post. Also incorrect or “dead” links bug me.

  8. Peter
    Peter says:

    You are lapsing into prose with rambling themes, filled with typos. Maybe you need to put your blog entries on hold and read one last time before posting, or ask someone else to read before you post. We love you and want to read your entries, but you are too close to the edge sometimes.

    • tiger
      tiger says:

      too close to *your* edge, maybe. but no one person’s comfort zone is everybody’s comfort zone – a fact for which i think we can all be thankful.

  9. Lindsey (aka modchik)
    Lindsey (aka modchik) says:

    Penelope I am a new BC reader and I have to say I am quite smitten with your blog especially this weeks posts … I did cringe a little last night nibbling on the goat cheese in my salad but I also smiled a little wider with your comment about lists, repetition and bread… I think you just shed some personal insight on what I have always believed to be behaviors that well, I thought, everyone also indulged in.

    Your photos are evolving so much! A life well captured.

  10. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    I didn’t mind the typos, I loved your stream of consciousness writing, I’m now wondering if my wife has Aspergers, (she won’t respond to fingers snaps) and I’m still freaked out about cheesy baby goats.


    • tiger
      tiger says:

      i second this (about the typos and stream-of-consciousness writing). i love your style and how it can differ a little from one post to the next. your typos and other little writerly quirks that come and go are just another manifestation of the humanity you don’t try to hide from us in the first place, and that makes your blog so engrossing. i say again: i heart you. and i wouldn’t want you to change a thing about your blog, including how it changes.

  11. kate
    kate says:

    i like that we make you feel normal, sometimes you make me think i have Asperger’s as i also talk in circles to find a solution that isn’t there and write far far more than needed in emails/posts. i then edit out so much i wonder if it makes sense anymore.
    Potatoes also release serotonin. my sister (who i really do think has Asperger’s instead of bi-polar) would eat bags of potato chips to self medicate. I laughed at you and melissa telling each other to SHHHH! because i will tell my sister ‘i don’t care anymore, please stop talking’ so thanks for making ME feel normal.
    Also, i don’t care about typos, the overall content is more important than lack of typos. I am smart enough to read around typos.

  12. JW
    JW says:

    The 300 + word emails are not only for those with asperger’s. I have a dear friend who is very creative, very expressive and does not inherent the gene to edit herself. She truly believes the world is interested in 10 pages of her feelings. Sadly, none of us have time for more than half of page 1.

  13. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    1) You are not like me.
    2) Crazy actually can be interesting sometimes, but different is often very interesting and it’s because you’re different that I always read what you have to say.
    3) I also read because I sometimes wish I could be more like you. Just a little more like you, not a lot more like you.
    4) Points 2 and 3 are why I don’t think you should want me to think that you’re like me. If you were like me, you would be boring to me. And you’re not.
    5) I don’t know why I needed numbers. Maybe just to organize my thoughts around why I thought I didn’t want you to worry about your audience thinking that you were crazy? Because you might be crazy, but you’re also really brave and strong and insightful and thoughtful and you work so hard at living an examined life — there is so much to admire about you and the crazy/not crazy part just seems really unimportant in the grand scheme.

  14. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    OMG I thought you were standing in your socks on an apple pie!

    My son sits on a yoga ball and bounces around the basement when he “needs input.” He’s done it for so many years that he has turned it into a graceful art. It’s like a ballet — bum, belly, bum, side, turn, hippity-hop, hippity-hop, turn, screech-to-stop, slide down, slide up, pirouette.

  15. Liza
    Liza says:

    I didn’t see any typos. I was too enthralled with your writing.

    Medicine = good for the soul if the soul needs it.

    Melissa is a positive person in your life. Keep in contact with her.

    You’re not crazy. Your ideas are crazy. Your reasoning is crazy. But you, you are not crazy. You are normal in your un-normalcy (not a word, but it works!)

  16. Erik
    Erik says:

    I totally get this post. I am a guy and I totally get it. I love reading your posts. Take care of yourself.

  17. Gib Wallis
    Gib Wallis says:

    As someone who has friends who are on meds for bipolar, it’s sort of an ugly series of questions at first: are you taking your meds? Have you been to the doctor lately?

    It’s ugly because it’s not fun to ask and it’s not fun to have someone clamp up. When someone’s not well and needs medication and it affects their friendships and relationships, asking would normally seem normal, but not with mental issues.

    The good news is that there’s a point where one doesn’t need to ask. Because it becomes very obvious when someone hasn’t taken their meds or if the old meds need revamping or switching. So questions become superfluous or really an exercise in misdirection. When someone becomes off kilter for them, people close to them know, and usher them towards help.

    But for posters, yeah, that’s going to suck if people start asking in comments. It’s sort of a reason why it’s hard to be transparent about mental wellness. People who are not concerned about you can say, “well, she’s off her meds again,” to discount and impugn your opinions or behavior. And really, doesn’t everyone look crazy to everyone else at certain points even when they don’t need meds?

    I like Melissa’s photos a lot.

    • KatherineB
      KatherineB says:

      My friends would never ask me if I was taking my meds because they know I know that I need them like a diabetic needs insulin. Chemical deficiency pure and simple.

      However, one time I was put on a med that made me slur. Problem was I didn’t realize I was slurring. My therapist noticed it and commented to me, called my shrink (I was fine with that) and then I went to see him. When I recounted this to a friend, he said “Yeah, I noticed that.” I was PISSED. I wish he would’ve said something to me. I told him: “Please, don’t ever not say anything when you notice something like that.” Point is: when your friend is on mental meds, it is really hard for them to talk to you about it. I understand why he didn’t say anything but I am the sort who would’ve wanted to know that I was slurring! Just another view…

  18. Izzy
    Izzy says:

    I didn’t see any typos either LOL! Maybe my version was cleaned up?Anyway sounds like things are exciting in your house these days with Melissa visiting. It’s great you have someone who thinks like you do. My 16 yr old Asperger’s son has issues with friends and finding someone who he can hang out with and be comfortable with. Sounds like Melissa makes you feel that way. Kinda nice eh? Medication is a good thing if it helps. I take it and it makes me more even, but I do wonder about coming off. But that’s another story. Anyway I wish I could see your pics, but I’ve tried to deal with that thru your web guru and there is no help for it. Keep this stuff coming. It’s a great mental break during the day.

  19. KatherineB
    KatherineB says:

    I love when visiting a couple of my friends who totally get me, don’t judge me and are fun. Enjoy your time with Melissa!

  20. rb
    rb says:

    hmmm. My son has Sensory Integration issues but is not on the autism spectrum – has been tested. However, three of five things I read here fit him exactly. He gets fixated on things pretty easliy. Like, we just ordered him a new DS game with his Christmas money. He can’t stop talking about when it will arrive. I realize that’s typical to some degree for an eight year old, but he takes it to a whole new level of paralysis.

    He’s not old enough to send 300 word emails, but do NOT ask him to describe a book he just read, because then he will basically just recite it to you.

    And third, he would just love standing on one of those discs. I’m going to see if I can find one online.

  21. Tzipporah
    Tzipporah says:

    1. I love the pictures.
    2. I love your sink. Even full of dirty dishes, I envy your sink.

    3. Would you have the same reaction to the farmer saying “shhhh” as you do to Melissa (ie., as a helpful reminder, not a STFU-I’m-tired-of-you)? And if not, look for Melissa-shushing-substitutes for when you leave.

    4. Medicine is excellent for breaking circular thinking/feeling. But, unfortunately, you’re still living the life that generated the thought or feeling in the first place, and that usu. still needs fixing. Yuck.

    5. Having a number 5 that’s not part of the list is very untemplater of you. It’s all good.

  22. Sienna
    Sienna says:

    I think you’re more like other people than you realize. We just don’t verbalize our whacked out moments so everybody thinks we’re totally normal. I don’t have Asbergers (although I was convinced I was ADD for a while, but apparently not) but I talk about things too much too. While not trying to prevent the bad stuff from happening, I obsess over the one thing that I want to happen. On a subconscious level I think I believe that talking about it will bring whatever miracle I need to pass. Maybe the Noetics are on board with that, but to most people, it’s flat out annoying.

    And I understand why you don’t want people reading to decide if your mood is based on you taking medicine or not. It makes sense why that would freak you out. It’d freak me out and most of my normal friends. My moods are my moods. If I eat chocolate, I may be positively influenced. If I didn’t eat at all, I may be grumpy. But they’re still my moods.

    Lastly, good job on talking about the goat dairy industry. I love goat cheese and never thought there was anything wrong with it. I’ll have to look for farmers with more humane techniques. I’ve never eaten veal (I’ve been a conscientous objector forever).

    And don’t most people anthropomorphize animals?

  23. Kath
    Kath says:

    Hi Penelope, I’ve heard you “dis” your own photography a few times now. I think maybe you’re too intimidated by “beautiful” photos? Photographs in your blog simply add texture to your amazing stories. Yes, you can take classes, look at others’ work, get critiqued, etc., but fundamentally, the best advice I ever got was just get out there and take pictures! Later we can discuss focus, light, the Rule of Thirds, but frankly, some of the best photos I’ve seen are ones that violate all the rules we’ve been taught. But I sense that sometimes you need a bit of literal help and I’ve found “assignments” helpful, so I’d love to see the farm at all times of the day. And, I’d love to see a picture of every light fixture.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yes! That’s it. And if you like the disc, you should check out other stuff on that site. I love all the toys that help with self-regulation. Companies should put these toys in a closet right next to the pads of paper and boxes of Sharpies.


  24. KComposition
    KComposition says:

    I stopped reading when the word Asperger’s showed up.

    If you can move from HK to US-boonies to who-knows-where-in-Italy with that ease, you may have some traits, but you are not an Aspie.
    It doesn’t matter how highly functioning you are, or how many meds you take.

    • Shay
      Shay says:

      Yes, KComposition, that was my thought exactly.

      On another more positive note however, highly recommend “Potatoes not Prozac” for food-seratonin connection info

  25. Kathy B.
    Kathy B. says:

    I’m taking an art class where the number one rule is that you can’t belittle your work no matter how awful you may think it is. The penalty for doing so is that you have to put money in a cup. The teacher then gives the money to a local charity.
    I think you should start doing this. You belittle yourself so much that your cup would be full everyday & the charity you choose to give the penalty money to would be set for life.

  26. MWN
    MWN says:

    Hilarious post, Penelope. I smiled so hard. You write about so many interesting things in general, and one of my favorite topics of yours is Asperger’s. I’m glad the medication seems to be helping.

  27. Erica Peters
    Erica Peters says:

    You’re crazy like so many of us are crazy, just a bit more so. I respond to what you write because I’m just like that — I want a yellow disk! Thanks for posting the link – – €“ only not in as interesting a way.

    Like your therapist said: we all figure out what works to make us feel better, and we do it until we feel better, and then we stop. What’s up with that?? I’ve done that so many times, with journaling, with exercise, with CBT… and when I feel out of crisis, I stop. Do we enjoy crisis, because it makes our lives feel like mini adventures? So if we get too happy, we have to stop what works and go back to our old bad habits again?

    • Chris M.
      Chris M. says:

      Erica, I think the opposite happens: you get better, you think you are OK now and don’t need medication/diet/whatever-was-making-you-better anymore.

      That’s when we stop and the symptoms all come back, unfortunately.

      • KateNonymous
        KateNonymous says:

        And it isn’t just true about antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds, either. It’s also true about things like antibiotics. Once you feel better, you’re not as constantly aware of the need for the medicine.

  28. Sheila
    Sheila says:

    Good for you for focusing on serotonin! I have SAD, and it’s so freakin’ scary how much of a difference the therapy lamp makes. It makes me question what “personality” is, you know?

    But what I wanted to say was about PMS–oh, boy. My emotional symptoms have gotten much worse in my late 30’s, and I expect that my 40’s will be the same way. What happens now is that something that’s a problem all the time (but which I’m just living with or letting slide the rest of the month) becomes intolerable when I have PMS. So I’ve come to consider PMS to be an emotional spotlight that shows me what small or large thing I need to change in my life. It’s not *fun*, but it is *useful,* and if I or anyone else dismisses those painful insights, they are missing the point. The PMS doesn’t cause the problem; the PMS insists that I/we fix the problem.

  29. me
    me says:

    Sis, believe me – and ignore any of the cyber-haters who insist otherwise – you are: a) not “crazy;” and b) more like the rest of us than you could possibly know.

    Thank you for sharing your challenges with us: I’m so relieved to know I’m not the only one who drives 10 miles out of my way to get somewhere b/c that’s the only way I dont get lost. I see now that it’s just the way my brain is wired & not something unique to me.

    We all face difficult challenges in our lives and develop various coping mechanisms to help us get through tough situations. So, Please dont believe anyone who criticizes your behavior/choices & tries to convince you that youre any different than anyone else ….

  30. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Penelope, if you could do one thing for me, could you just have one day where you are happy about and with the farmer? And then tell us that part? So we have the rest of the story?

  31. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    There’s much here that I could comment on but will limit to – “I was going to tell you that I love her because she is taking amazing photos with her zillion-dollar camera of stuff on the farm that I can see but I can't figure out how to get in a photo.”
    You will figure it out because you want to figure it out. It will take some time and patience but you will get there. Look at your writing skills. They didn’t come together with just a couple of courses. You have been journaling for most of your life, taken advanced creative writing classes, and written numerous articles for various publications. Writing is second nature to you.
    Don’t get hung up on the camera equipment. Here’s a quote from the book ‘The Joy of Photography’ which I love – “The joy of photography is learning to see”. Also taken from Part I – “Learning to see photographically is more influential in the creation of a good picture than a great amount of technical know-how. The basic mechanics of photography are fairly simple; they are easy to learn and, with practice, will become second nature to you” and “If you give yourself the freedom to discover fresh perspectives, the results will surprise you. The more photographs you take, the more distinct your personal style of photography will become. You may find yourself drawn to certain subjects or to certain techniques. Eventually, your photographs will bear your unmistakable imprint.”
    Photography has been a (not serious) hobby of mine since I was a small boy that inherited an Argus C3 camera from my father. It had a rangefinder and there was nothing automatic on it that I can remember. The correct lighting settings were obtained with a separate hand held light meter in order to set the aperture and shutter speed correctly for each photo. I learned quite a bit from that old camera. I’ve owned several 35 mm film cameras since then and now have a 35 mm Canon digital point and shoot. You should be able to master this art form faster than I did. You’re getting almost instantaneous feedback with the digital format. I can vividly remember the approximately one week wait when I sent the roll of film to Kodak in one of their mailers via snail mail. When the US mail was king and ruled. Patience my dear. You will get your wishes.

  32. Chris M.
    Chris M. says:

    P., count me in as “I don’t even notice the typos”. Most of the time I get very annoyed by typos and grammar mistakes in blogs, but like other readers, I get completely smitten by what you write and it becomes impossible to see them.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The yellow disk works so well because it’s stuffed with stuff that makes you just unsteady enough that your body has to keep readjusting to stay balanced, which means your brain is sort of occupied on something while it’s thinking about something else.

      This is not a scientific example. But it works a lot like picking cuticles or biting a pencil — just something for a nervous body to do so concentration comes more easily.


  33. Gregory Yanez
    Gregory Yanez says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog. I started about four months ago and a lot you’ve written about has helped me along the way. I’m starting to question if I have asperger’s syndrome as well. Any who, the reason for this comment is to find out where I can find one of those yellow disk things you got. I’m so curious to try it out!
    And what’s the big deal about typos!? I didn’t notice any, but when I do I smile. It let’s me know I’m not the only one who does…

  34. susan pildes
    susan pildes says:

    please tell me about the yellow disc. what is it called and who makes it? perhaps it is home-made and if it is – please tell me what you used. thanks

  35. Kyle
    Kyle says:

    Casual reader, first time poster. It’s pretty cool that you mentioned medication in the blog. I was diagnosed with depression about a year ago and placed on Sertraline (Zoloft) and Klonopin for anxiety. The anxiety side of my dilemma has had me searching for answers. I thought it was OCD at first, and then Pure Obsession, and now, I’m wondering if it’s simply delusional. Either way, highly functional people with mental obstacles don’t seem rare to me. The explanation I received was that intelligent people tend to have complex mind wiring and can logically link things that others can’t. This is why they say, ‘Ignorance is Bliss.’ Medication helped me, or seemingly so. Zoloft is not a quick fix. It takes months to set in and months of maintenance to restore order. But it seems to work. And Klonopin, just deserves a Nobel Prize. When panic sets in, anxiety follows, and logical thought goes out the window. Chemical imbalance wins. Klonopin helps me fight that battle. I promote medication obviously. But to make it work, you have to also do cognitive self-therapy as well. I walk myself through thoughts all the time, and all the while, feeling terrified of fictional reality (oxymoron, I know). Thank you for the blog. I’ll probably read more often now!

  36. Kelly Brewer
    Kelly Brewer says:

    I know you don’t care about typos, but if you want a copy editor, I will do it for free whenever you want. You’re an inspired, brilliant writer, and I’m a very good, reliable, responsive copy editor. Free for you.

  37. Woody
    Woody says:

    I love the blog. Meds help when there is an imbalance of body chemicals. Does Mellisa get along with the farmer, as well as your sons?

  38. Joie
    Joie says:

    Melissa made a good decision: with US$150k, she wouldn’t have a high standard of living in Hong Kong, so good for her that she found a gig in Italy. They she can write her memories, like “The Nanny”.

  39. Laurie McCarthy
    Laurie McCarthy says:


    You have to be grabbed in the first sentence and held until the 300th word. It's not clear if that is possible yet.

    But your blog posts really affect me – €“ upends my thinking and permeates my dreams so I wanted to know if you've seen the research on water?

    The Hidden Messages in Water by Dr. Masaru Emoto
    From the back cover:
    Using high speed photography, Dr. Masaru Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed towards them. He found that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words showed brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors.

    Sounds magical but not if you really think about it. All things are energy and thusly have a different vibration.

    So here's how it applies to you. Take several of your son's washable markers – €“ or a sharpie works well too – and write all over your skin words like

    You pick the words. We are bags of mostly water – watch what your week is like when you become those very words.


    P.S. Love the photos on your blog…they transform and enliven your words beyond measure.

  40. Chickybeth
    Chickybeth says:

    I have a good friend in Italy who who came here as an exchange student for high school. When she went back to Italy, the teachers all tried to fail her in English class because she had an American accent! They only taught British English there and thought she couldn’t speak. Maybe the more accents the kid learns, the closer he will come to “correct”? :)

  41. Jenny E
    Jenny E says:


    Other than Xanax, what other methods do you know of to “come down” from overstilumation? I find that having alone time really helps, but I’m a mom and the amount of time I need to come down from something as simple as a typical workday would leave my kiddo practically mom-less. Any ideas for resetting yourself back into a non-overstimulated mode after navigating stressful events or even daily social situations?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I need a lot of alone time, so I just admit that. I make sure I have a lot, and sometimes that means that the kids do not have perfect lives. Like, I let the kids watch a stupid movie so that I can be in my bedroom reading.

      At first I used to think I was insanely selfish for doing this. But I talk to lots of women who are home with kids and feel the need to do similar things. So I guess I feel ok about it.

      Once I recognize how much alone time I really need, and how it affects the kids, I’m way more careful about saying yes or no to social invitations.

      I wonder if other people have other answers to Jenny’s question…


    • KatherineB
      KatherineB says:

      Jenny, I also do as Penelope does. I’m not crazy about letting my daughter sit in front of the TV and watch a movie for 2 hours but I also am not a good mom when I don’t have alone time. I crave it and need. Sometimes I think we have to give up meeting our children’s needs in order to be a better parent. And, a happier person.

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