Regarding „Penguin Bloom“

FeaturedRegarding „Penguin Bloom“

There’s indeed something odd about this book—and it’s definitely not the bird. It’s the simple fact that pretty much a third of the written content was contributed by the woman to whom the book is dedicated (a little more than 15 pages): the wife, mother and national Paracanoe champion Samantha Sam Bloom. Obviously, this is neither a novel nor a non-fictional work on a certain subject. It is a piece of art though; and it is non-fictional.

Thanks to critically acclaimed author Bradley Trevor Greive, this combination of a bittersweet family story and lots of monochrome photographs (shot by Sam’s husband Cameron) of an Australian magpie as an evolving family member strikes you magnificent. Widely considered a wild nuisance by white Australians, this feathered fellow proves its innate sense of affection in any picture of coexistence. We don’t know anything about a spearhead of birdkind; but it shouldn’t surprise us if its outer beauty appears to be rather subtle.

In the epilogue, the woman to whom this book is dedicated appeals to the readers to support the spinal cord research foundation in their respective country. This very approach made me sign four online petitions for animal rights for the first time in life. Medical research doesn’t seem to need birds nowadays. Yet whomsoever differentiates between ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ animals—and may it be only subconsciously—is farer away from nature than (s)he pretends to be.

One thing is for sure: No matter the price, this book is worth it!

The Bold She-Blackbird. A fable

The Bold She-Blackbird. A fable

Once upon a space, there was a blackbird. Having only brown and black relatives, they perceived her as inferior—she had been born with a whitish-brown plumage. Her mother used to overprotect her, thinking: This poor thing won’t survive a single day without us. Compared with this, her father wondered whether he might be a cuckold.

After all of her siblings had left their home in order to reproduce, our whitish-brown one boldly declared in front of her parents: I’m going to see the world!

Her father sighed, yet her mother said: No way! So she was forced to leave without their permission.

In the beginning, everything seemed pretty easy: She knew how to fly, and nature proofed to be lush enough to offer several meals per day. Things changed when a hawk began to stalk her zealously. She tried her best in order to escape him, yet he was not one of those slow-food disciples. Eventually, she confronted him boldly: What the heck do you even want from me?!

He hence presented his dumbest visage, saying: Hello cutie! Nice to eat you!

She felt quite a bit offended and responded: Have you ever eaten someone like me?!

Nope!, he replied without changing his grimace.

So what makes you believe that I’m edible then?!

Dunno! I’d say let’s give it a try!

Wanna know what my mom used to say? No way! Now get out of mine!

He was impressed quite a bit, and since she looked good enough to eat he had another idea: Look cutie, why don’t you accompany me for a while? Perhaps, by knowing me better you’ll learn to appreciate my beak.

Considering her options she was thinking: He doesn’t seem to let me vanish easily, and even if he does there will be more guys like him bothering me. Let’s see whether he’s willing to accept my terms … Here’s the deal—number one, don’t ever touch me! Number two, don’t eat birds! Number three, don’t ever touch me! Got it?

Whats number one again? Alright, alright! I can see it in your eyes you don’t find it funny.

Upon this special agreement, they joined forces. His territory proofed to be quite big, and whenever he was heading for a feathered prey she reminded him of his promise. Yet the day came when she had seen everything there was to see, and she realized that she was bound to her promise, too.

The way she eventually got rid of him might sound a bit unlikely, but I am going to recount it nevertheless. As a matter of fact, he soon fell in love with a hawkess who made him choose between her and his ‘feeble friend’. When he intended to eat the latter his fiancée made a fuss: Are you kidding me? You’re not going to enjoy her under my very nib, are you? Is this how you imagine an emancipated partnership based on affection and mutual consent?

He felt quite a bit ashamed, and while he tried to beg his aggrieved beloved for pardon our confident blackbird managed to escape. Of course, her next encounter was merely a matter of time.

She was just swallowing an earthworm when she suddenly felt some teeth around her tail.

Give it back!, demanded a muttering voice.

Excuse me?, replied the blackbird, incapable of turning around.

Whatever you are, give that worm back!

Who the heck is talking to me?!, the trapped one desired to know.

The mistress of the situation!

What if I don’t?, our blackbird boldly bargained.

Then you’ll end up as a fox’s prey!

She gagged the earthworm out. The vixen released the tail in order to eat the dizzy creature. Upon licking her jaws she noted: You’ve got a refined taste!

The blackbird was astonished quite a bit. Well, thank you!, she responded. You’ve got a, uh, nice tail.

You like it?, asked the vixen with a proud visage. I’d like to hire you as my personal hygiene assistant. It’ll be your responsibility to keep my entire fur free of parasites. As a reward you may dwell in my brush, and I might even spare a worm for you once in a while. Deal?

Our plumed heroine was pondering: Is it normal for a fox to be this crazy? Anyway, as long as I live in her tail nobody ever harms me for sure. Deal!, she thus answered.

It turned out to be a decent symbiosis: The vixen was content with her shiny fur, and our blackbird was able to discover new places without being bothered by anyone. Besides, the brush proofed to be the most comfortable and secure nest ever. Their mutual tranquility lasted until the mating season. The vixen was in heat, and the male foxes could not ignore her—which meant the ‘hygiene assistant’ was not safe in her tail any longer. Make sure to return as soon as this revelry is over!, the host reminded the blackbird, bidding farewell to her.

The latter was so concerned about ending up as a fox’s prey that she flew away fast, namely till the point of exhaustion. Halting on a clearing she tried to calm her breathing. When she looked up she was surrounded by a pack of wolves. Whom do we have here?, asked the alpha female, pressing a paw on the blackbird’s tail.

Looks like a weirdo!, exclaimed a male wolf youngster, and his peers cheered.

Silence!, the matriarch growled. If you haven’t lost your voice tell us what you are!

A blackbird!, replied our whitish-brown one. The youngsters cheered again.

It’s less the appearance than the song which makes a blackbird!, an older she-wolf declared.

Are you capable of singing?, the alpha female asked, and everyone was still.

Had she ever sung before? It seemed so natural, and yet she could not remember. She bowed her head in shame.

Well?, said the leading she-wolf impatiently. It’s Blackbird’s choice—it’s sing or slip. She opened her mouth in order to visualize what she meant.

Just when our humbled heroine sensed the stench of doom she started singing. All of a sudden, dozens of black birds with yellow eye-rings and bills showed up on every shrub and responded to her bewitching chant.

Joining the aspies. A coming out

According to my mom, I was a very joyful infant and toddler. When anyone was glancing into my buggy (s)he was rewarded with a laughing face. When I was tumbling I simply stood up and continued smiling. When my family was sitting in a restaurant I left my chair in order to greet the other guests. When we were in a city my father kept me on a leash to prevent me from running before a (street)car.

Over the years my personality changed: I turned more & more into a timid and highly sensitive individual. I experienced neurodermatitis, chronic bronchitis, and bronchial asthma. I used to stare a lot: those moments were pure bliss (until any adult stopped me from ‘daydreaming’). At age 15, I was socially phobic. After being threatened by several bullies I barely dared to leave the house. One year later, I went to another high school where my phobia slowly got better.

At 19, incapable to bear my parents’ daily conflict any longer, I not only left our home but moved 670 kilometers southwards in order to become an academic. Six years later, I journeyed 1,570 kilometers southwestwards in order to move on from conformism. After 39 months in six provinces of a foreign country, I journeyed 1,910 kilometers northeastwards in order to learn a fifth language. At age 30, I journeyed 1,340 kilometers northwards in order to pay my family & friends a visit. Prior to my birthday, I journeyed 2,340 kilometers southeastwards in order to experience the ‘orient’. Five moons later, I journeyed 1,840 kilometers northwestwards in order to improve my fifth language. I could go on like that for a while, yet I can see that you are bored already.

Do obsessions indicate whether somebody is autistic? Not necessarily. But I make you believe that almost everyone can pretend to be—’normal’.

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Enter society

Our home as well as its surroundings, the material things as well as the ideal things are determined by the culture we were born into. In order to solve any problem we have to consider the available tools on the one hand and the cultural norms, taboos, and values on the other hand. Usually, this happens subconsciously of course. But in certain moments, for instance in a dilemma situation, we become aware of it.

Each kind of society reduces the amount of possibilities of how we can respond to any action or information not only owing to the social norms but also due to the possible consequences we are afraid of. This makes us predictable; every unpredictable individual is a dangerous menace in the authorities’ eyes. In ancient times, predators were either killed or domesticated. The same happened to non-conforming people: they were either sentenced to death or somehow forced to obey. The decision on who was dangerous always laid in the hands of the men in power—whose only fear was losing that power. And that fear can easily transform into its extreme, paranoia. A paranoid person is insane because (s)he suspects every stranger to be evil. Most deeds and statements of such a person are irrational and likewise arbitrary. The ‘Cold War’, ‘Axis of Evil’, ‘Global War On Terrorism’ anyone?

Yet not only any U. S. administration since Kennedy but every single government with rising excessive military spending proves its paranoia—while convincing the citizens of rational reasons.

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Enter neurodiversity

From a neurobiological point of view, an individual belongs either to the ‘neurotypical’ majority or to the ‘neurominorities’. Prior to the 1990s, any kind of autistic behavior was generally considered as pathological. If your manners constantly scandalized, you got a disability label before you could even protest. For about two decades, the neurodiversity movement’s “advocates promote support systems (such as inclusion-focused services, accommodations, communication and assistive technologies, occupational training, and independent living support) that allow those who are neurodivergent to live their lives as they are, rather than being coerced or forced to adopt uncritically accepted ideas of normality, or to conform to a clinical ideal” [source].

So what makes me ‘neurodiverse’ and ‘neurodivergent’, respectively?

When something fascinates me I tend to ignore everything around me. Others have noticed that I solve problems in an uncommon way. As a child I preferred to assemble/disassemble or examine objects on my own. I frequently need retreating. I have been keenly collecting and internalizing facts and data about my special interests. I recognize iterative patterns. When others make a mistake (e. g. concerning facts, figures, orthography, grammar) I feel the urge to correct them (AND I appreciate to be corrected!). I continually work on my special talent.

I find it very difficult to remember several instructions that were uttered at the same time. I remember things I have done myself more easily. When I get interrupted I cannot return immediately to my previous activity. I have a hard time learning something which does not interest me. I am not really capable to make notes during a lecture. I get distracted easily. I cannot do two or more things at the same time.

It is very important to me not to get disturbed when I am busy with my special interests. Before I do something or go somewhere I must prepare myself mentally. I tend to wear the same clothes several days in a row. I get frustrated when I am forced to stop an activity which is of importance to me. I am not attached to ‘favorite objects’. I need my routines. I find it annoying when someone is not punctual. I need lists and notes in order to do things.

I hardly ever have the feeling to talk the same language as others. I do not consider team sports fun. I do not share my age group’s typical views. I do not fit into the stereotypes that are expected of males. I am not interested in fashion trends. I do not like gossip.

I can relate more easily to extraordinary or different people than to ‘normal’ ones. My sense of humor is rather uncommon (I can be amused while everyone else is as solemn as a judge). My eating habits are considered odd. I tend to daydream and to be absorbed in thought. I find it difficult starting or completing a project. I have an authority issue. Sometimes I cannot sleep because there is too much to think about.

I prefer to avoid personal conversation with people I do not know well. After convivial gatherings I feel exhausted and need to relax alone. Others perceive me as impersonal. I have a hard time being close to someone on an emotional level. I find it unpleasant to get touched or hugged spontaneously if I did not ask for it. I cannot relax easily in romantic situations. I am unable to cope with unexpected visitors. I cannot stand it being watched during work.

My mind automatically repeats recently heard melodies and rhythms again and again. I cover my ears, or pace up and down, when I am contemplating, stressed, or anxious. I like to toy with items. I often behold the people I like; I try to ignore all others. I bite my tongue when I am nervous. I talk to myself. Others are stunned by the way I express my feelings. I was told I had smiled without any reason. During a conversation I concentrate on my own thoughts rather than on the other’s ones. I rarely know when I am expected to apologize. I am so sincere and honest that I expect everybody else to be the same.

Occasionally, I mix up a noise with a voice. I like to watch rotating or blinking items. Slowly flowing water fascinates me. Sometimes I want to jump over items or obstacles. I like to tiptoe.

I find it easy to fill in forms. I do not recognize a phone number if it was not said in my preferred way. I immediately realize the time on an analogue clock.

I get distracted by sudden noises in the distance. When talking to someone I find it difficult sifting out the background sound. It bothers me when somebody is walking behind me. I am oversensitive to physical pain, to noise, and to changes of humidity or air pressure. It bothers me when someone stamps his foot. I become frightened instinctively by the sound of a motorbike.

I cannot easily coordinate and imitate motion sequences. I underestimate the bygone time whenever I am busy with something interesting. To estimate distances, heights, depths, or speed is a tough task. My fine motor skills are precise. Orientation at places unknown to me is only feasible with a map. To recognize faces is easy.

When I am stressed or overwhelmed I feel like relaxing or flipping out. I got exploited more than once. My frustration tolerance is low.

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Exit

As you might have recognized the above statements are answers to a questionnaire. My result reads as follows:

Your neurodiverse (Aspie) score: 138 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 84 of 200
You are very likely neurodiverse (Aspie)

In the detailed score, they tell me that there might be the possibility of intellectual giftedness, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, and a nuanced perception. Fancy!

You consider it alarming—I do not mind. You find it ridiculous—I do not mind. Simply because I do not care about labels of any kind. Yet I do care a lot about handicapped and discriminated human beings.

Dragonfly wisdom

Dragonfly wisdom

Observing most amazing flies
I’m sitting by a pool of dragons
(Not far away from vans & wagons),
Enchanted beings in disguise!

We are neither flies nor dragons,
Just to be is all we seek;
Fitting into man-made flagons
Does not mean that we are weak!

Your very force is obvious:
Although you couldn’t cross an ocean
The wings do set you fast in motion,
You fly without all clumsiness!

Yet, who wants to cross the ocean?
Our home is all sublime!
Tell us more about that notion
Fellow with the blissful beam!

I have been knowing charming folk
Who live beyond the tides of water;
I wished the distance would be shorter
To calm the yearning that they woke.

Even those behind the water
We can sense most animate:
There a mother, here a daughter,
This perception is innate.

In fact, my heart can see them too
Regardless of the situation;
I’m always changing my location
To make another wish come true.

Yet, your current situation
Seems to be out-of-the-way:
Vivid is your hearts vibration,
Fateful is the female sway.

An angel touched me with her wings:
I felt my sorrows quickly lightened,
My tired eyes were truly brightened;
The being though remains a sphinx.

So the soul became enlightened;
Questions bother, yet, the mind.
Do not let the heart be frightened:
Fearful thinking makes you blind!

But how to calm the restless mind?
And what to do against the thinking?
Aurora wakes me, I am blinking:
The brain mill, then, begins to grind.

Simply sense your mere existence,
Peace is what you ought to find.
And let go your strong resistance —
Just give in to whom you pined!

Italy, November 2013

NOT SUITABLE FOR FOLKS UNDER 26

Lord of the Rings, Batman, Spiderman, StarWars, Harry Potter. Why are these (graphic) novels and movies, respectively, so extremely popular among young people? Because they tell stories about heroes. Generally, growing-up isn’t easy: it’s a prolonged phase of boredom and obedience. Teachers force their pupils to learn uninteresting stuff by giving marks and parents expect their children to be good or even superb at school. Boys and girls feel inferior because their life is controlled by adult persons who are stronger, smarter, and wiser. But then there is the hero: a male, more rarely a female, character that is able to deal with every challenge. He or she has got that capability due to any sort of special powers (e.g. invulnerability, magic, thought-control, the ability to fly, immense strength, energy ray) or thanks to powerful items (e.g. weapons, magic wands, magical artifacts, potions). The hero is always confronted with problems—normally, (s)he has to fight evil. Identification with such a character is easy because the perception of young people usually is black and white: I am the good one, only the others can be bad! Everything the young person desires is a feeling of superiority. Of course, it’s a pseudo-superiority. That’s why those hero-tales don’t really satisfy an individual’s need for inner happiness.

But what about being a hero oneself? Probably more satisfying, difficult to realize though. Or is it? Doesn’t that depend on the definition of “hero”? If you want to become a popular celebrity, well, good luck then! But if you like noble-minded entities, this blog might be of interest to you—namely beyond ideologies.

Minor legend

Minor legend

At a time still unimagined
Everything becomes a legend.
Listen to this poet’s song;
If he errs, well, proof him wrong!

  1. There was a maiden from the water:
    A land surveyor’s charming daughter;
    Though being heaven’s sweetest gift
    Her family soon got a rift.
    The wife became extremely jealous,
    The brothers’ envy nearly zealous.
    The more the father used to praise
    The worse the others’ wicked gaze!
    Their jealousy evoked aggression,
    And violence was its expression!
    So by the time she knew to fly
    She was too timid and too shy.
    Although she never was complaining
    She suffered due to envy’s draining.
    Despite her father’s constant love
    She hence became a wounded dove.

  2. There was a boy who climbed the trees;
    His teaching father kept some bees,
    And only loved his wife, his daughter,
    And any drink except for water.
    Apparently a walking wall,
    The mother did not love at all.
    Her husband’s love was utmost zealous,
    She had no reason to be jealous.
    Not being fond of anyone,
    She never hugged her first-born son
    Nor ever showed a warm expression;
    So what she sowed was just aggression.
    The boyish gazes were like hurls,
    He broke the hearts of many girls.
    His need for love became that draining,
    His parents never stopped complaining.

  3. He was a father of two daughters,
    That wounded dove turned twenty-eight;
    To be at once each other’s mate
    She left for him the homeland waters.
    And though she proved to be most zealous
    To love and care for everyone,
    The tragedy had just begun:
    His youngest daughter being jealous.
    His mother merely showed aggression,
    As if she once had been abused;
    His father seemed to be amused,
    Encouragement was his expression.
    Despite the mom-in-law’s complaining,
    Despite the daughter’s jealousy,
    Despite her own anxiety
    She sought the amniotic draining!