Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Hallway of the Mind

In the corridors of my brain a Medieval Knight dwells, sword at the ready, armor blessedly silent as he makes his rounds.

Startle me and you might meet him, although what you'll see is a mid-sized, pale-faced brunette looking entirely wigged out, in my head the warrior peers through his visor, weapon held high. In the fight or flight instinct we all have, some long ago ancestor evidently is responsible for a genetic predisposition inside of me that runs towards conking any threat on the head. Luckily the ensuing generations have honed the art of not letting that blood-thirsty guardian loose on anyone.

If you've ever been inside a Walgreens Drug Store, you know the vibe of the place, if you haven't: Even a brand new Walgreens seems vaguely dingy. The lighting inside was designed by people who secretly hate all of humanity, and want us all to look like we perished sometime earlier in the day and are now the Walking Dead. They aren't bad places, they're useful, packed shelves that almost always manage to look rickety enough to cause concern are filled with the foot creams and antihistamines most of us need from time-to-time.

Most of us have prowled through these stores, or ones like them, as we drop off a prescription for an illness, and in those times we end up waiting for it to be filled. That's how we end up perusing the shelves, occasionally making some daft purchase like a Snowman that sings in a high, piercing electronic voice while swaying back and forth on battery operated hips, and playing the ukulele. Generally we were waiting for a prescription for antibiotics to be filled, and as we waited, our fevered brains whispered, "You should totally buy that."

Me, I tend to huff the potpourri, sachets, and scented candles while there. They're awful. Seriously, beyond description levels-of-bad but it does make me feel as if I have discerning taste each and ever time as I grimace at the chemical-laden scent while replacing the product on the shelf. It is an ironic form of fun for me. It probably hails from the ancestor who first said to another of my ancestors, "Does this milk smell sour to you?"

I was taking a whiff of an alleged cranberry candle, contained in a glass jar and wondering if the cranberries had been grown in a radioactive bog when a piercing, rattling sound blasted out seemingly seven inches from my right ear.


"Zounds, interloper!" Yelled the Knight-in-my-head, "Declare your purpose, fiend!"

Luckily for the person making the sound the Knight never got to say anything in the real world, as he was then occupied by pounding the swearing sailor he hangs out with in there into silence. I jumped six inches, the candle flew briefly away from my hands and blessedly back into them unharmed as I turned, wild-eyed and accusing.

"Guh!" the sailor managed to blurt before the Knight threw himself bodily atop the seafarer.

"Sorry," A rather plain-looking woman a polite five feet from me said, "I have Tourette's. It's a syndrome, a disorder."

"Oh! Okay," I replaced the cranberry-chemical-bomb. I consciously stood still, making sure not to retreat, or turn away. A little bit of an effort as the panic system within my head powered down, "I'm familiar with it. Sorry."

"It's okay. It's a syndrome, a disorder," the woman said again, "I can't control it."

"I've heard of it," I said again.

I continued to stand in the household goods aisle, understanding that this woman encountered too many people that scurried away in her life.

"I take medication," she said, "it helps a little bit."

And then she made the sound again at the end of the sentence. Loud, startling but this time I was prepared and my feet remained on the ground, my expression hopefully unchanged.

I never found out her name. I stood with her for five minutes, helping her to find something by explaining how to read the labels on the shelves to find out where something should be. I honestly don't recall what it was but as I worked in a drugstore when I was a teenager, one of the pieces of information in a file in my brain is about labeling systems. There came a point in the conversation when I realized this woman was eager to be having it. That for her, this thing we all take for granted, this exchange among strangers, was something of a treat.

She explained to me what Tourette's was, and I listened, although I was already familiar with the disorder. Not that I knew anyone with it, but I had encountered people with it before. I knew it was an inherited disorder.

All of my ancestors, they gave me things, passed them down. Most of them are good. I'm an acceptable size and shape, intelligent enough to feel up to most of life's challenges. There was a crazy person or two in the mix, a recluse here or there. At least one murderer, evidently. Soldiers, sailors, teachers and more. A predisposition towards being articulate lurks within me too, and it comes in handy. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about how fate and genetics were primarily good to me.

Maybe our minds are like houses, full of hallways with doors leading into rooms. For the most part we mill around in the foyer, thinking in our regular thought patterns. Encountering the odd Knight within.

But every now and then we'll meet someone who opens a door within that hallway and introduces us to a room we didn't know existed in our minds. A new thought, a fresh concept. A room that was always there, but we never looked in before. Our challenges often make us throw the doors open on all needed rooms, as we search for tools within, and most of us find them.

Forget whether or not I am comfortable talking to strangers, as it is likely clear by now that I am, what about the fact that I can with ease? A thing I take for granted, everyday as my right, and my own.

Every now and then I meet someone that makes me peer into a room and realize I don't know much about limitations, not in any real sense. The rooms that contain my unquestioned good fortune are the ones I need to look in more.

Eventually the pharmacist called my name over the loudspeaker, mangling the pronunciation, a thing I'm used to. A small, tiny thing about a name I otherwise like.

"Well, that's me," I nodded and smiled. I wish I could describe the look on that woman's face well, but I can't. She was so happy having an easy conversation. For her it was a rare treat, so she looked both happy and a little sad.

I so seldom think of true isolation. I'm a self-entertaining unit, I don't mind being alone, I rather like it often enough.

"I'm sorry I frightened you," she said.

"That's okay, no big deal," and I wished her a good day as I went on my way.

I collected the prescription and left, thinking of that room in my head I so seldom enter, the one called loneliness.

Today I thought of that woman from an encounter two years ago. We had been talking here about being an introvert, while having to pretend to be an extrovert. A trait many of us share, it seems. Something occurred to me, and I ran a search entitled:

Tourett'es Syndrome Forum that returned 114,000 hits. Over one hundred thousand places, and option where acceptance, understanding, peers and friends await. Clubs, gatherings, in real-life too. Options, and rooms with possibilities.

The rooms in our heads are wide and varied. Some are lovely, some rather grim. Some we haven't opened for years and we find them again, while wandering down our mental hallways.

That was a delightful, hopeful room you all sent me to. Thank you.


The Bug said...

I'm so glad you were able to have a conversation with her. I have a hard time talking with people who so obviously desperately need to talk to ANYONE. Their desperation scares me. But I'll try to be a little more compassionate next time.

Land of shimp said...

Don't feel bad about that, Bug. Seriously, she scared the heck out of me and it is a miracle I didn't just break that candle into smithereens.

She had that sort of intensity you're talking about but I think I got lucky in that I knew exactly why she had that going.

I can tell you one time I reacted horribly, so that you will know you are absolutely not alone.

I was in the office at our old house, came out and heard a scritch-scratch noise, fairly loud, in the dining room. Now, the bay window was shuttered with plantation shutters that covered half the windows, on the side that faced out to the sidewalk, so I couldn't actually see outside.

That's when I realized something was scratching on the window, over and over. Expecting a trapped squirrel, injured bird, what have you, I went out the front door, and rounded the corner into the yard.

A very, very old woman stood by the window, scratching at it with her hand. Raking her fingers over the glass. SCARED THE HELL OUT OF ME. She was ancient, and had long hair dyed rather orange. But she was very neatly dressed in a skirt, keds, a striped blouse.

And I would love to claim I handled that well, but it was like an image from a nightmare, so instead I barked out, "What are you doing?"

"My brother lives here."

"No, he doesn't. Can I help you?"

"My brother lives here."

And I assured her again that he didn't, but my tone was freaked, and kind of challenging. I'm from the East Coast, Bug...when I'm wigged out...I do not sound like the person you want a hug from.

She apologized and started walking away. It was only after I went back inside, within a minute that I realized, "Oh holy crap, she's got Alzheimer's and she's wandered away from home! Dammit, why did I act like that."

And I went tearing outside, looking for her, running from corner to corner, trying to get a good view down the street. I couldn't find her. So I went back inside, called the police, explained the situation, my reaction, and my realization.

Sure enough, she was missing from her house, had some form of dementia, and had wandered away from home.

The police actually did let me know that she was found, and got home safely within the hour...to her brother's house.

So whenever I get freaked out, and it's kind of easy to do, I try to remember that woman...and that usually that desperation is just an indication that they are a little freaked out, too.

Grandma's scrapbook said...

Interestingly, your articles make me that good, learn English

Hilary said...

I suspect that there are more rooms in your head than most. Now I don't mean air space. ;)

Seriously, Alane, you're a beautiful combination of intelligence and heart. I'm happy to know you.

Beautifully expressed.

PhilipH said...

You've told about two strangers who've entered your portals, corridors and rooms - and you've learned something from their "odd" ways. You tell us of these encounters in your usual engrossing way; you let us see these people.

I felt very moved by the comment you made about the poor lost woman who'd lost her way, her memory and much of her mind. Very very sad.

A few days ago I was in the lift of our biggest supermarket (Tescos) in Galashiels. Two other people were in the lift: a woman of about 50 or 60 and a younge-looking one. The younger one gave me a HUGE smile and asked me if I was going to buy something nice! It took me by surprise. Well, we English tend to be a tad 'reserved' - especially in lifts, and other places I guess.

I said "Yes, I hope so..." or something akin to that. The young lady then went on to ask other questions, smiling all the while. Her companion eventually took her hand and almost dragged her away when the lift doors opened.

This young lady was obviously not what we'd call 'normal', but she was so delightful. She would not be classed as pretty or beautiful of face; a bit puffy-eyed and plumpish features. But she was the most charmingly innocent person one could ever wish to meet.

I don't know if her companion was her mother, or sister or what - but I felt privileged to have had a few words with this 'abnormal' but HAPPY young lady.

Made my day!

Paul C said...

The hallways of our mind are varied, both light, dark, and shadowed. You kindled memories of some of my former students and how I tried to reach them but found challenges along the way. I enjoy the vivid way you write to convey experience.

Cricket said...

Well, well - a second helping of shimp this week? Wonderful.

... some long ago ancestor evidently is responsible for a genetic predisposition inside of me that runs towards conking any threat on the head.

It's the Scots blood. Has to be.

Every now and then I meet someone that makes me peer into a room and realize I don't know much about limitations, not in any real sense. The rooms that contain my unquestioned good fortune are the ones I need to look in more.

Well said. My own life has not been marked by riches or adventure. I have had what I needed, and it has been quite ordinary. So ordinary, it's kind of extraordinary after all. ;-)

slommler said...

I too am glad you conversed with her for awhile. I am sure that made her day.
As for the woman with dementia..I would have been a little "hostile" as well. Then it would have hit me later that possibly she needed help. Duh!! At least you tried to find her and you called the police. So good for you.

Miss Footloose said...

Loved reading your post. A reminder to all of us to try and be compassionate even if we get surprised or scared when we encounter people with afflictions.

It must be a hard way to live to be so different.

Jo said...

There is a fellow with Tourette's syndrome who rides our bus every day. Whenever I see him, I think to myself that, there but for the grace of God go I ... or anyone. Like hiccups, I suppose an affliction like Tourette's could creep up on us suddenly. One day we're okay, the next day we are cursing out loud in a movie theater. The so-called "normal" human condition is so fragile, isn't it? But underneath, we are all the same.

I am impressed, however, that you managed not to drop the candle. :-)

Dave said...

I enjoyed your story Alane. I like the new look of your blog too. Sorry not to have visited in a while - Dave

Tabor said...

I agree with Hillary about the type of person you must be. Good and intuitive and normal. We all try to be open-minded. Liberals are better at it than conservatives who have a deeper fear in one of those rooms of their brain...but we all sigh when we see the light.

ellen abbott said...

Good for you Alane. It is a sad situation that the simple kindness you showed is so rare in these days.

JoMo said...

Your story demonstrates that if we're willing to spare a moment of our time and compassion for strangers, then our priorities are where they should be. Thanks for sharing.

ds said...

Beautiful. You gave her far more than a conversation that day,and I suspect she gave the same to you.

You are a very special person, indeed.

Wind said...

I will try to open a door for you...

You are invited on my blog Photographis
( http://graphis-artwork.blogspot.com/)
to celebrate with all my friends 3 years of blogging!
Best regards from Romania!

Mother Theresa said...

New here. Really enjoyed your post. I just love it when people open the doors to the rarely visited rooms of my mind, since I'm usually in the ones that have to do with how do I get out of doing the ironing, or how to I successfully ignore my kids' picking on each other. Of course I do ocasionally go around just opening doors for fun...and sometimes I'm surprised at what pops out ;D

Vera said...

What a lovely post again. Made me think about the 'rooms' in my head, and that perhaps I shouldn't keep retreating from entering one or two, especially the 'writing room'. Thankyou for making me think.

Suldog said...

Interesting take on our thought processes. I'm reminded of Huxley, who wrote a book called "The Doors Of Perception" (trivia, and how I knew of it - it's where the musical group "The Doors" got their name.)

Joanna Jenkins said...

What a wonderful post-- I bet you made the woman's day. It's a tough disease and sadly, most people are nearly as kind as you.
Cheers, jj

the b in subtle said...

Alane - i've been away most of the summer and now i remember why i've misse dyou and your posts oh so very much. how are you, darlin? thank you - not only for sharing this story and having us all think about,f or a moment, living with that syndrome and stepping into her shoes at the delight that someone actually conversed with her, engaged her in conversation unafraid and didn't scurry away. but also thank you for being the type of caring, understanding, open, tolerant, sweet gal you are who would listen, not run and help, not judge. you are a wonder out there. and the world is so lucky to have you and people like you. xo

Katy said...

Great story Alane. Several years back I there was a boy in the 5th grade Sunday School class I taught who had Tourettes and for reasons I still don't understand his mom didn't want him to be on medication. It always makes me mad to see kids who obviously need something and yet their parents are just worried about them being "normal."

Dispate the syndrom and other behavior issues the other kids were really nice to him and he latter told me that my class had been a "safe zone" for him.

Now that he is in college he takes medication regularly.

Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful and thought-provoking post.

You obviously have many rooms full of kindness and compassion!

I think I need to do some exploring of my own today...

Shrinky said...

I so love your acceptance and "there but by the grace of God.." philosophy you embrace. My son has facial tic's, and body jerks you wouldn't believe when he is nervous - a common trait amongst folk who live with autism. His only friend, Andy, also lives with Tourettes (he cusses and swears worse than any sailor you are ever likely to meet, albeit inadvertantly). I so wish our world had more accepting and unjudgemental folk like you inhabiting it. ((Hugs))

Pauline said...

You always make me think in directions new to me. Love the knight in your brain that rushes headlong into battle. Our heads are so full of past ancestors, aren't they? And unexplored rooms. I have a sword- brandishing Civil War General in mine. Takes a lot of trips to my "patience" room with him in tow to get through this life with a modicum of politeness ;)

Kerry said...

First off, a GREAT description of lounging around a Walgreens while waiting for an Rx: perfect. Unlike you, I would have bought the stupid candle.
Second. Have you read "Motherless Brooklyn?" The protagonist has Tourette's syndrome, and I really like this novel.
Third: than you for the kindness and patience to the woman who needed it right then. Not everybody has this capacity.
Fourth: I looked up the "fear of dead birds." You are a bit strange, but certainly not alone:)

Land of shimp said...

Oh dear, Grandma's Scrapbook, I'm terribly confusing person to learn English from in any respect. It's a language with enough broken rules structured in that it certainly doesn't need my help in breaking them. Yet I persist :-)

Anyway, thank you!

Hilary, I can honestly say the same about you, and thank you for saying that about me.

You're a lady with fun rooms, too. I still remember the snowman murder mystery. It's become one of my favorite holiday memories :-)

Philip! It's always such a treat to see your name, sir. I hope you and yours are all doing well. Yes, it is always a bit disconcerting to meet those who don't quite fit the boxes we are all told we need to occupy.

I can't help but love the thought of someone being that enthusiastic about a shopping trip and the possibilities it affords :-)

Paul C., thank you so much. I've just seen that fantastic video over on your blog and must say that you have such an eye for life. What makes it special, and worth celebrating.

Particularly fitting as we here in the states approach Thanksgiving!

It probably is the Scots' blood, Cricket :-) Bloody-minded lot that they are. But I've also got English and German some Welsh, a bit of Irish.

Really, I ought drunk right now, shouldn't I?

Very true, our ordinary lives are indeed adventures when viewed from the perspective of someone living a different life.

Land of shimp said...

SueAnn, that's one of those instances I'm not going to ever quite let myself off the hook for, even though it turned out well enough. That poor woman, she was already facing enough challenges.

I get why I reacted that way, it was a very creepy sort of feeling, knowing that a person was standing beyond my sight, scratching at my home. But the poor soul.

Ah well, I'm glad it turned out well for her and it was a lesson I needed to learn. Don't speak when freaked. Wait a moment and figure out what is likely to be going on.

Miss Footloose, our very own world traveler :-) It's always nice to see you. Do you know whenever I see your name the very first word that comes to mind is "exotic"? Isn't that a fabulous association to have? I think it is. It's like being deemed magic.

Jo, to this day, I am amazed I didn't smash that smelly thing it to the traditional thousand pieces! I discovered reflexes I didn't even know I had!

Dave, thank you :-) No need to apologize, sir. Life is meant to be explored at certain points, and contemplated at others. I hope you are having a lovely summer and whenever you come back, you're always a welcome sight.

Tabor, thank you. I think I'm just one of those sensitive kids all grown up, with a goodly dose of humor thrown in...as well tenacity (also know as "Obstinate! Headstrong! Bloody-minded!") ...and several other far less than glorious things.

But we're all a mixture of the good and the bad. Hoping that our good will win the day, and rule the land....at least eventually.

Ellen, I'm always amazed by how frequently kind people are. Honestly, when I'm out and about, I see more kindness than unkindness. Perhaps I simply move in limited circles but I think kindness is rather common, thank goodness :-)

Thank you JoMo :-) I think what it really demonstrates is that...sometimes we forget how lucky we are simply to be whole, and accepted...and other times we don't. Maybe we need the contrasts to illustrate our truths?

Land of shimp said...

ds, you know what I really like about the world? That I'm really rather ordinary. I don't mean boring, I hope I'm not boring. Sometimes I'm boring :-)

I mean that, just as I was saying above, whereas kindness is noteworthy whenever we see it, it isn't rare.

Anyway, anyway it's always lovely to see your screenname. Your little avatar makes me think of the tiny creature...was it a Fortus?? Concealed in the keys, the master of the stories.

Wind, of this there is no doubt, you are a gifted opener of doors both in name and in practice. Seriously, you have some of the most beautiful photos I've ever seen. They create kingdoms.

Hello Mother Theresa :-) Thank you for stopping by...and with kids it's often necessary to have a door in your mind through which you can retreat and hide until such time as the deluge is over!

Anyway, nice to e-meet you. May your rooms be peaceful :-)

Thank you for the comment, Vera. I suspect the rooms in your head are funny and wonderful places. Whenever I read your blog, I end up laughing.

You have the gift of transporting people even as they sit still. Neat gift :-)

Hahaha! Jim, what a marvelous comment. It reminded me of something, a friend ( a male friend) telling me, "Alane, I think your train of thought has derailed."

But I do know you weren't teasing me and I've always liked the Doors (although, poor Jim Morrison, the older I get the more I realize how young he was when he died) ...perfect name for that band, wasn't it? Jim Morrison's voice sounded like it was coming from far away, and as if he knew things we could only guess at. Often someone will tag a singer's voice with "haunting" "What a haunting voice." I only know of two truly haunting voices. Roy Orbison and Jim Morrison.

Even when they were with us, they sounded as if they had at least one foot in the great beyond.

Hello Joanna, I think it's a very isolating disease. Now, as it happens, I love almost nothing more than a day alone in my house, with a good movie or a great book. But it's a choice, not something that is forced upon me.

I think sometimes too that when we encounter someone different -- like that story I was telling above of that older woman who frightened me -- we forget that they have all the same capability of feelings, regardless of that jarring difference. I hope I do better with that as I go through life, seeing past the jarring "difference" of whatever, to the sameness we all share.

It's at least worth a try, I'm sure.

Oh B! There you are!! I'm glad you've returned to us, and I made a point of getting to everyone's blog before replying here. I practically e-skipped to you. You've got such a warm, loving heart. I've seldom seen anyone convey such heart in words.

So, that was my way of saying Welcome Back!!!

And I'm well, thank you for asking :-)

Land of shimp said...

Oh Katy, I'm glad that when he was old enough, he made a different decision. We live in a wonderful age where there is help for problems thought hopeless.

I don't understand his mother's decision, but I'm glad he made a different one when he could.

ladyfi, I love it when you explore your rooms. You've got that wonderful photographic eye and you bring back pictorial evidence. We get to share your rooms and it's always delightful.

Shrinky, I did know that about Autism and it is a difficult thing to live with, I'm sure. I think that it's knowledge, really. I think things are easier to accept when they aren't entirely foreign to us.

Oddly enough, I can tell you where I first heard of Tourette's (although I've heard and know of it since) -- an episode of L.A. Law. I'm not kidding. That was where I learned what Tourette's was.

I think there's a lot more focus on Autism because it has become a more prevalent concern (sadly, of course)...but that helps too. I think people are more accepting than we give them credit for being, often enough.

I know we've talked, however briefly, about my son's diabetes and the biggest problem I run into is people thinking they understand it when they don't...but they want to, you know?

Gives me hope for the world we all face, and the one Sam walks through too. Knowledge leads to acceptance, which leads to compassion. There will always be complete jerks in life, of course but...I am glad for Sam, and for that woman, and for Andy...that they live in a time when things can be better understood.

Where we click a search on the internet and expand our knowledge, and hopefully all else that follows.

Anyway, hugs back at you, you goofy, wonderful woman...and loving mom.

Land of shimp said...

Oh Pauline, I hope you understand what I mean when I say this...but your Civil War General makes so much sense when it comes to you. I don't mean that in any derogatory fashion, either. It's just...courage with rules, do you know what I mean? That makes perfect sense with you :-) I mean that as a compliment, even if I'm tripping over my words.

Clearly I need to find the translation room in my head :-)


Fourth: I looked up the "fear of dead birds." You are a bit strange, but certainly not alone:)

Hahahaha! I love it. I may have that carved on my tombstone. "You are a bit strange, but certainly not alone." It's perfect.

Thank you for the book recommendation, I haven't read it and it sounds like something I would like. I'll look into it.

Now, honestly, I come by that fear in a rather straightforward fashion. It's not a phobia, actually. Although it can be, I don't have it at a phobic level.

When I was little I grew up in a house with two mammoth fireplaces that did not have floos on them (god help me). I have no idea why there were designed without them, but they were. They were rather horrid, drafty things and we never, ever used them...but birds did. We'd keep the opening stuffed with newspaper to try and cut down on drafts and more often than I care to recall a bird would fall down, and be trapped in the house.

So what happened to that poor bird you were describing on your blog, used to happen in our house. Sometimes the poor things would fall down, dash themselves to death trying to find a way out, and guess who'd find the corpse? It was a common enough thing that I lived in fear of it.

So I'm rather naturally afraid of dead birds. However, when I was in college, it had reached such a level that I was simply afraid of birds, which was ludicrous, I thought. So I took a job at a pet store, caring for the birds, to force myself out of it.

It worked and to this day I no longer have any fear of birds, but dead ones still give me a start :-)

Cloudia said...

Thanks for your Aloha! :-)

DUTA said...

I'm not familiar with Wallgreens Drug Store, but I am familiar with people with disabilities.

The latter live in a world of their own and only kind people like you sometimes introduce them to the outside world and make them feel, even for a short time, as part of the so-called normal society.

All I can say, is that we need more people with rooms and hallways in their brains like you, people who could make the world look better.

Linda said...

You have a gift for writing! I absolutely love the knight-in-your-head and the swearing sailor he has to deal with. The story itself is touching, but your telling of it is captivating. Excellent work.

Pauline said...

laughing - even your comment responses make me think!

"...courage with rules, do you know what I mean?"

I do - and it's made me rethink the importance of the General. My mother, though from the other side of my family, had that same character. Interesting what a compilation of people we are...

Grandma's scrapbook said...

Good morning, How are you? Although we are very hard to overcome the language barrier, because you have so many rich and meaningful way of writing, and also very, very impressive vocabulary that you use, I see, trying to absorb as much as possible, from this natural reservoir .Me, your posts are very very like it, just because of that, I hope to someday be able so perfectly to express their inner world, just at this worldwide language, Thank you for this post. I want them to be more, because this wealth will be transferred to others!

Sandra said...

It's obvious you got that "original thought" gene in spades A wonderful piece of writing. Thank you.

Shrinky said...

Hey girl, how are ya' doin'? Hope all is well with you and yours?

Kerry said...

You know, you are really quite a treat, you are. Now I know where that fear of dead birds comes from, and I can picture it well.

Quite separately though, you have a MURDERER in your family history? I bet I do too, but I don't know.

Carolina said...

Beautiful piece of writing. I'm sure the woman with Tourette's had a great day after talking to you. Must be difficult to have a disorder like that and having to explain it over and over again.

I'd love to have an elegant hallway like the one in your picture. Both in my house and in my mind ;-)

Shrinky said...

just stopping by to wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas, filled with laughter and love, dear lady.

Grandma's scrapbook said...

I wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year !

Grandma's scrapbook said...

Bonne année 2011!

ethelmaepotter! said...

What a fantastic analogy...and story.

I have a tendency to attract people such as the ones you mention. I once met a young woman who had Tourettes - and after one conversation, I was her best friend. An openly gay man, shunned by most of our co-workers, became HIV positive during the course of our friendship. I was THE ONLY PERSON who gave him the time of day afterwards. When I hugged and kissed him goodbye on his last day of work, he cried...and everybody told me I was crazy and would get AIDS. Ignorance.

Other friends ask me from time to time why I attract these people and why I bother with them - my answer? I don't 'bother' with them; I do whatever is needed to make their lives a little easier, a little less lonely, and besides, I believe everyone has something to offer another - and I have learned much from some of these people.

One of the proudest moments I ever experienced (oh, I may have told you this before,) was at a high school football game, where my son was in the band. He was probably the most popular kid in school - smart, good-looking, friendly, charismatic; as we walked through the stadium, a small group of obviously mentally handicapped teens waved, smiled, and came over to hug him - and he returned every greeting enthusiastically. His father and I asked about them later and he explained - he had noticed that these kids, the ones in special ed at school, were shunned and sat at a table to themselves at lunch. He always sat with mostly band kids, many who were also very popular. One day, without a word, he took his tray and went to the special ed table, sat down, and ate lunch with them. His popular fiends chided him for a while, but one day another of the popular kids joined him, then another. Not all did, but I'm sure those special ed kids have never forgotten my son and how he made them a part of the elite class for a couple of their high school years.

I might add, though, that the woman at the window would have totally freaked me out. I don't know if I would have made the connection to dementia that you made, but I'm so glad you did. You very likely saved her life. There have been so many stories about Alzheimer's victims wandering away and only their bodies found days afterwards.
Kudos to you, Alane. Beautiful, heartfelt post, and it shows with no boasting your incredibly beautiful soul.

ethelmaepotter! said...
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ethelmaepotter! said...
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ethelmaepotter! said...

Sorry bout that - when I hit "Publish your comment," I lost my connection, reconnected, hit publish again, lost connection, etc. Then I checked and there was my comment - THREE times!

Gina said...

Congrats on being the blog of note.

DigitalDesparado said...

Sometimes I pretend I have Tourette's its good for stress releif, plus if you dont want someone to sit next to you on the bus or plane it's invaluable.

Clare Dunn said...

Congratulations on the Blog of Note mention. That is how I came to be here.

I liked this post very much. The 'little rooms' analogy hit home.

xoxoxo, cd

Phatom said...

i have never read a brainstorming article such as this. glad to follow u.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say i like your blog!

MadRabbit said...

I love the way you write. Are you by chance working on getting some stories published? I write on the side and I would love to talk to another writer.

Olavo Marques said...


Follow my blog:


Erich said...

I LOVE your writing style. Very easy to read, but still incredibly elegant. Awesome story. I can't wait to read more.

Erich - ProverbialMayhem

Betsy said...

I am enjoying your blog and want to pass on the "Stylish Blogger Award" to you!
If you want to accept it, it's on my blog,

Look forward to more posts from you.

DaisyKay said...

You're an excellent writer, and I think you'd be great at poetry if you haven't already tried!

kickoz said...

Wow! Blogs of Note! congratulations ... It's my dream ...

cappuccinokiss said...

Thank you for sharing that wonderful story. It definitely makes me think about human compassion and how far it can go. I happened to stumble onto your blog today and I'm so glad I did! I will be back for more! :)

Aimee said...

Truly delightful! It was so nice to read how you held ground for this woman's sake. More often than not I think we tend to keep to ourselves in awkward situations like this, by flashing a weak smile with furrowed brows, as if it really comes off neighborly. Obviously most wouldn't be able to push back the thought "I should probably walk away now." only for the cause of making yourself feel more at ease.

I always try to smile and make a short joke about the matter at hand, so we can both play it off as something funny that we encountered that day. "Oh, earlier I bumped someones grocery cart at the store with mine and to have a laugh about it offered the other if she'd like to exchange information, that I was indeed insured." Sure, cheesy, but a chuckle is better than just muttering an apology and strolling down the next isle.

But in a case like this, yours, we almost instantly can tell this person requires a little more than that. And honestly when that comes from a stranger, well, I can say that I've not always wanted to stick around. You get a little spooked, or they might just make you feel uneasy. It was rather sweet to read that you stayed and exchanged a few words with her. You both got something out it.

Great blogs, very fun to read! Can't wait to keep reading :]

Pearson Report said...

CONGRATS on your Blog of Note recognition.
Much deserved.
I like this piece. I relate to your theme.

I have many unopened doors lining my mental hallway which are best left closed in this lifetime.

I venture, often, into this hallway and occasionally press an ear to a door and wonder what I have left unattended behind it – daring not to open it; I’m concerned that what may be locked there is meant not to be let out.

Ah, to have ones own personal little black hole! Adds to the adventure!


commoncents said...

HA HA! Great Post... I'm glad I found your blog... Link Exchange??

Common Cents

light208 said...

What a great post. And congrats on the blog of note title. I recently wrote about being an introvert trying to be an extrovert, so this was just what I needed to read.

Moody said...

Brilliant. Not many people would take the time to make someone who has an disorder feel accepted. Unfortunately most people just don't care.
I really enjoyed the concept of fresh idea being introduced when you open new doors and leave the foyer... brilliant.

Anonymous said...


ISabel said...

Love your blog! I'll come to read your post!

hrmustang said...

Awesome blog and great ideas... for those of you who are deep thinkers, check out this blog. http://helpztheworldz.blogspot.com/
It is just starting out but it has so much potential and will continue to add new notes at least weekly, but typically more.

Marisa Casillas said...


Anonymous said...

Reach Consumers in Real-Time

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proizba said...

Very lovely!

Land of shimp said...

Wow. Thank you, Blogger and thank you to everyone who stopped by. I will do my very best to return the visits in the coming weeks.

Aside to Hilary: You are a wonderful friend to have, woman. Thank you.

helen said...

"Maybe our minds are like houses, full of hallways with doors leading into rooms. For the most part we mill around in the foyer, thinking in our regular thought patterns. Encountering the odd Knight within. "

Love it, you make wonderful analogies. Fun to read your blog. I agree, although I think that our minds are more like high rise hotes; filled with dozens of hallways and hundreds of rooms. And we do the waiting in the lobby. :)

Ashley Evelyn said...

This was really well-written and interesting... and a little sad. I hadn't thought about how hard (or important) every day interaction could be...

Nick Vanetti said...

Enjoyed reading this. well written and intersting. Check out my blog for a little fun if youre bored.


Sweet Tooth said...

Really liked your post!

Cloudia said...

you ARE noteworthy!

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral


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