Thursday, December 30, 2021

ASL Begun!

A few more inches of snow fell here last night. Yowza, there’s a lot of snow accumulation!

I set up the little heater—actually, just a light—that keeps my Hummingbird feeder water from freezing. Now all my birds are properly cared for during this big freeze. But what a gorgeous morning we had yesterday!

The snow is clean, and it’s stuck to the trees. None of it is falling. (See photos below.) And the sunrise filled the sky and treetops with light, turning the few clouds a bright, glorious orange. The show in the trees is blinding bright. It could be one of the most beautiful Winter mornings that I have ever seen.

I chopped some wood. It burns so much hotter when I burn smaller pieces instead of the whole big pieces that are delivered. And I loaded a day’s supply of wood into the house in the morning. I stacked it on the hearth, so that I didn’t have to go in and out all day to keep the fire up.

Word of the day: Pathographesis: n. Writing inspired by illness.

My session with Dr. Shoja went very well; she explains aspects of my condition that confound me. For example: when I pass strangers on the trails, walking with their pets, I am fluent with them. But if I talk to Dwight, which I do, almost every day, it is very, very hard for me to speak with him. The more I care about someone, the worse my speech. It seems particularly insidious. Dr. Shoja said that this aspect of my speech is consistent with my condition, and she explained why.

Another example: the harder it is for me to speak, the more spastic my arms get. She explained that too, as consistent. Her explanations are not cold and clinical. She uses clinical words but speaks to me colloquially and checks to see if the explanation is satisfactory or not.

There’s a chance that things could get better. There’s a chance I could lose my speech. I’ve started to learn ASL.

Learning ASL gives me something positive to do that takes my mind off my condition. Movies and television are high-risk activities for me; there are just too many triggers in the storylines of a great many movies, so I’ve lost that source of distraction. 

Learning ASL will be practical if my speech gets worse. My hope is that if I sign as I talk, once I learn the basics, my arms won’t do things on their own, they’ll be too busy doing what I want them to do—signing. I started a year-long course yesterday.  

Dr. Shoja explains everything about me as typical of a person with an attachment disorder. Everything wrong with me, in her understanding, is due to how I was parented. I didn’t know what went on in our home did not go on elsewhere. I just learned to make the best of things. I thought I was doing a good job of being a person. I did not expect my past to come back to bite me, as is said, the way it has. I feel like I’m on a television show, and I’m the character who’s weird. I did not expect this condition to worsen. 

I was project oriented in my career. I loved two-to-three years of intense engagement, followed by a break. Learning ASL is the first project I’ve taken on in a long time. I hope I can stick to it, and I hope one day to be able to experience the spontaneity of ribald conversation together again.

A letter to the Daily Telegraph, Feb. 26, 1913:


Everyone seems to agree upon the necessity of putting a stop to Suffragist outrages; but no one seems certain how to do so. There are two, and only two, ways in which this can be done. Both will be effectual.

1. Kill every woman in the United Kingdom.

2. Give women the vote.

Yours truly,

Bertha Brewster

I am through my first lesson of ASL. I got my files installed on my iPad as well, so that I can work on ASL in the comfort of my living room, by the fire. I absolutely love learning to sign and I’m happy with my progress. I’m delighted by how much I love it. I’m going to do well with signing I reckon. 

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