More Than a Movie..

My fascination with movies started in 1978 when I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind – a film about aliens, aptly enough. I remember feeling scared, not about the movie, but of everything around me. The crowds. The smells. The cacophony of voices. The familiar feeling of wanting to be sick. The fear of vomiting in public.

I also remember the feeling in my chest as the lights dimmed and the cinema screen flickered into life for the first time in my life..

Cinema was very different in those days and for the young (and undiagnosed) autistic me it made for a conflicting experience because of the queuing, crowds, uncomfortable seating and divs using the back of my chair as a foot-rest. Not to mention the aroma of hot dogs and cigarette smoke! That said, once the film started I was able to lose myself in the fantasy – providing my bladder wasn’t too full, that is.

In contrast, last week I went to see The Crimes of Grindleward – a completely different experience because all of the above (aside hot dogs) has been eliminated. Even crowds, if you choose the earlier showing times.

I’d imagine that a lot of autists love watching movies, either at the cinema or at home. That’s because being able to lose ourselves in fantasy helps to make existence on this confusing planet a little more bearable, no? And when it comes to the wizarding world, I’d guess many autists identify with the ‘non-magical’ versus wizards’ concept because it’s not dissimilar to the NT versus autistic one.That’s not to suggest that we have magical powers, because we don’t. Unless you consider photographic memory a superpower? Or that there is a war between autistic and non-autistic. It’s just that ‘No Maj’s’ don’t understand the wizarding world and vice versa.

There are many autistic traits to be found in the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts films. I mean, Newt Scamander has many Asperger traits, despite no affirmation from J.K Rowling. Then again, the film is set in the 1920s so Newt wouldn’t have been diagnosed anyway. And while it can be said that Harry Potter himself isn’t an autistic character, one can empathise with the range of emotions he goes through when Hagrid informs him that, actually, he’s a shit-hot wizard and those things about himself that he never understood – such as his hair growing back overnight – suddenly make sense which is not dissimilar to receiving an autism diagnosis.

Aside the film itself, I consider the credits to be an important part of the experience, but time and time again I find that I am the only person remaining in my seat as the last credits scroll up. It’s always the same. The end of the film comes, the soundtrack kicks in and there’s a flurry of activity with people standing up, coats being put on and a general mass exodus towards the exits. Some people hang on for the crowds to disperse and then they get up and leave which just leaves me..

I always watch the credits. One reason is that I like to see the names of the people who made the film possible. Another is that I’m a music fan and there are often several pieces of music of soundtrack played during the credits. Also, there is often something extra mid-credits or at the very end. Some movies use bloopers and in others the post credit scenes are a crucial part because it ties the movie up or leaves the audience (or who ever is left) in a state of anticipation.

*SPOILERS WARNING* At this point I’m going to use UP and Christopher Robin as examples so if you haven’t seen those films and would like to, please scroll down beyond the italics.

In the case of the animated film, UP, the credit scenes flip through Carl’s photo album and we get to see the adventures he has with Russell and Dug. As we see in the film, this is what Ellie wanted him to do after she was gone. Blended with the beautiful (and award-winning) score by Michael Giacchino these scenes brings this movie to a pleasing end. Everything is tied up and you leave the cinema feeling happy.

A more recent example is Christopher Robin where, after a few minutes of credits, there is a little sequence where all the characters are having a dance and a sing-song on the beach where there is an old man playing a piano. The old man is no other than Richard Sherman, a nine time Oscar nominee and writer of some of the most memorable songs Disney ever made. It’s a sweet touch and one that many people never got to see because they left the cinema as soon as the credits started to roll.

If I hadn’t stayed for the Fantastic Beasts credits, I wouldn’t have heard the fantastic soundtrack. Or learned that Mr Depp had a small army of people pandering to his every need. Or that his scary contact lens had its very own technician.

Then, there’s the flip from fantasy to reality..

I would happily sit in the empty cinema long after the credits have finished because I need time to adjust from fantasy to reality. But that’s not possible when the cleaners are giving you the evils because they can’t start cleaning up until you’ve shifted your arse.

In my younger days, I would go home and reenact everything I saw and then I would work the characters into my world using their phrases, mannerisms and style. I know now that it was part of masking – of being somebody I wasn’t because I couldn’t be myself. In those days, I was more out of this world than I was in it – something which my mother would testify to, if she were alive. She always said that I never seemed to be here. She was right. I was far, far away..

I wish I could take the credit for this quote, but it comes from a fellow autist in response to an online post I made about staying until the very end of the credits. I think that many of us will identify with it.

Earth is simply where my body is tethered…

These days, I don’t go home, shut myself away and reenact. Those days ended when I realised that nobody else I knew did such a thing – not on their own anyway. Drama was never an option for me due to my social and communication problems. Not to mention, crippling anxiety. Any enjoyment of being able to become different characters would have been lost in the discomfort of everything else. And so it’s down to music, literature and the movies to take me away from life.

In the cinema, the endorphins flood my body. The feel good hormones. The ‘I can fucking do this‘ hormones!

Then the experience ends. I push open the exit door and reality slaps me in the face with atomic force.

The anxiety. The weariness. The disconnection.

I’d give anything to turn around and walk back into that darkened room because that room is my wardrobe into Narnia. It’s a portal to another world – a world that understands me.

Five Reasons I Hate Snow

 

1~ It’s cold.

Snow can be cold. The kind of cold that strikes through to the bones and freezes your snot. People say that children don’t feel the cold but they obviously never met the likes of me. Soggy mittens were never my idea of fun, people, hence I generally ‘enjoyed’ the snow from the warmth of the dining room window. That said, there have been moments in my menopausal journey where I would have given my right nip to be able to shove my face in a snowdrift..

2~ Aesthetics

There is something quite beautiful about fresh snowfall. I always marvel at the white blanket that magically transforms even the shittest of places.

Then humans and animals ruin it all.

First come the size 14 boot prints of the milkman. Then, come the patches of yellow snow..

There is nothing remotely picturesque about a snow filled garden when you have dogs. Even less when it’s a small yard.

Then there is the joyous act of cleaning up after your four-legged friend has taken a dump in the snow..

Never had the pleasure of digging out a dog turd from 8 inches of snow?

You’ve never lived!

*snorts*

Lets not forget the lazy-arsed owners who genuinely believe that their dog’s excrement will dissolve in the snow so there’s no need to get that poo bag out eh?

What actually happens is that once the snow has melted – the pavements are smeared with poo which gets on everybody’s shoes and into their homes. Incidentally, these are the same breed of dog owners who believe that slinging shit bags into trees makes them inconspicuous.

*double snort*

3~ Driving

The problem with this country is that we are never prepared for wintry conditions. Our cars suddenly turn into Torvill and Dean – only less graceful.

To be fair, it’s the scariest thing to find yourself sliding down the road with absolutely no control whatsoever. I’ve had a few ‘squeaky bottom’ moments in my time so I avoid driving in the stuff whenever possible. However, I still get anxiety from watching other drivers sliding perilously close to my car as their back wheels have a mental breakdown.

Note to self: Next house must have a driveway.

4~ Snowballs (and other bodily parts)

No matter where you are or who you are with, at some point some idiot will throw compacted snow in your face and fall about laughing. For some reason, this is considered normal behaviour? But if I was to fast-spin a cricket ball at them, I’d be hand-cuffed and trundled off to the police cells.

*throws hands up in the air*

Then there are the snow-people complete with balls and boobs..

Nothing says Christmas quite like the sight of a snowman with a massive set of knackers on the front lawn, eh?

5~ It’s Slippy

As I’ve got older, there is another reason why I hate snow and ice.

It’s slippy.

The problem is that I have Osteopenia.

Osteopenia? Isn’t that a film about mods?

No, that’s Quadrophenia.

Osteopenia is the pre-curser to Osteoporosis. In other words – thinning bones. This means that I am more likely to break a bone should I fall over. Even a minor fall could have serious consequences. *serious face*

This is monumentally crap because I’m only 47 but it is what it is and all I can do is protect myself as much as I possibly can. So I fit contraptions to my boots (cleats) to stop me falling over and they do work. I am the ONLY parent on the school run who wears them. However, the well-being of my bones trumps dignity, no?

Note to self and other snow grip users: Do NOT attempt to walk on a tiled floor with your ‘cleats’ on. You’ll be on your arse faster than you can say Bolero!

Then there are the women who wear high heels when the pavements are blatantly icy. What’s more is that they manage to stay vertical! There’s me taking tentative steps despite the protection of my grips and they overtake me wearing stilettos as if they didn’t get the memo that it has snowed!

Witchcraft?

One theory is that the heels act like little ice-picks so maybe there is some method in this madness?

Even so. I think I’ll stick to my flat heeled boots and snow grips, ta very much. I’d rather look like Nanook of the North than end up sprawled on the pavement with a busted hip.

So, there are my five reasons why I hate snow.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it NOOOOOO!!!

I rode on a plane a couple years ago with Snow Patrol and didn’t know who the hell they were. They said they were big fans of mine and were playing Madison Square Garden. And they let me listen to one of their records on their iPod. I started to weep. ~ Neil Sedaka

 

 

Dedicated Non-Follower of Fashion

I don’t do fashion, me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments over the years where I’ve tried to be fashionable in order to fit in, but it was hard work. All I ever really wanted to wear were my jeans and tee shirts. In my most creative phase I wore black lace skirts, gloves, vest tops, studded belts/cuffs and high-heeled boots, which, bythe way, I couldn’t walk in. What can I say? I was into Siousxie Sioux and her glorious gothness. I wanted to look like her – only with Madonna’s hairdo.

Over the years I must have spent hundreds of pounds on clothes (albeit via charity shops) only for them to sit unloved in the nether regions of my wardrobe. I’ve bought so many clothes on a whim during my monthly hormonal malfunctions. I CRINGE thinking back to some of the disasters I’ve bought, such as floor length green and pink striped WOOLEN skirts, which is fine if you want to look like a caterpillar..

I think that women should stay the hell away from clothes shops when they are on their periods (or going through the menopause) because they buy shit clothes that languish in their wardrobes with the tags on until they end up in a charity bag. Am I wrong?

“Women are more likely to have accidents in the few days leading up to their period and during their period.”

This includes accidental purchases of shit clothes that don’t fit and which look HIDEOUS. I vote they install sensors in shops that pick up on hormone imbalances, so as soon as the hormonally bewildered wander in – alarms go off – and they are escorted off the premises and propelled in the direction of the nearest Thorntons. Me? I don’t have that problem anymore because I’m post-menopausal which means that my hormones no longer fluctuate. I am psychotic 24/7. However, I can wear white jeans now WHENEVER I PLEASE. HA!

The thing is that I was (and still am) a tomboy.

In 1982 I lived in skin-tight jeans and AC/DC t-shirts, so maybe you can imagine my distress when my mother informed me that I was going to be a bridesmaid at my brother’s wedding…

To most 11-year-old girls, being a bridesmaid is a dream come true. Me? I sat down on my bed and wept because the thought of being center of attention terrified me, not to mention the indignity of having to wear a dress. In hindsight, I wish I had spoken up because at least then they wouldn’t have my sulky face ruining their wedding album. In my defence, I was on the verge of starting my periods, therefore, MEGA CRANKY, and the photographer kept insisting on telling me to ‘smile ducky’ which just made me want to beat him to death with his Nikon!

To make matters worse, my ‘evening do’ outfit was a pair of CANARY YELLOW pedal pushers with an equally hideous blouse. I had (have) legs like chicken drumsticks, so my mother saw fit to buy me a pair of PEDAL PUSHERS. Also, she wanted her money’s worth out of the wedding sandals, so I had to wear those again, only with my school socks!

Way to go, Mum. Could the outfit have been any bolder shade of yellow? I think not. There is a good reason why people don’t nick yellow cars. IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE ABOUT AS INCONSPICUOUS AS LORD VOLDEMORT STROLLING AROUND TESCO DOING HIS WEEKLY SHOP!

Actually, I might bring this one up in my next therapy session?

Bro, if you are reading this, I’m sorry I spoiled your day with my sulky face. I was SO out of my comfort zone with all those people (inc scary old vicars and photographers) and then having to wear a girlie dress when I was about as girlie asa wheelie bin. I just wasn’t bridesmaid material. Bridesmaids should love every second of the experience, but I was one big sweaty mess. I am honored that you asked me, truly, and I love you for it. However, I also know that Mum would have killed you if you didn’t. Love, Sis.

It’s taken me forty odd years, but I finally understand that I am a woman of simple tastes. My wardrobe consists of jeans, tunic tops and umpteen tee shirts. Everything is 100% cotton. I own one pair of boots, four pairs of Converse (bit of an obsession) and a pair of sandals..

I’ve finally sussed that wearing certain materials only aggravates my sensory issues which makes me more of a miserable cow than I already am. Life is hard enough without handing myself more ammo, no?

I would quite like to die wearing a pair of Converse, but knowing my luck, I’ll shuffle off my mortal coil wearing my tea-stained dressing gown and pyjama bottoms with the holey crotch. Such is life, eh?

What I do know is that my days of wearing uncomfortable shoes and clothes are over. I wasn’t designed to totter in heels and I will never again inflict my bony ankles on the general public. Whoever designed boot cut and flared jeans has my eternal gratitude. From the bottom of my bell-bottomed heart, thank you.

“Anyway, there is one thing I have learned and that is not to dress uncomfortably, in styles which hurt: winklepicker shoes that cripple your feet and tight pants that squash your balls. Indian clothes are better.” ~ George Harrison

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