I am writing this from a hotel room in MinnesOHta. I love it here. It is a beautiful morning (I am up way too early, Boston time) and a gorgeous room, with a gorgeous breakfast. I actually ate buttered toast. I now think toast is better than chocolate; how screwed up is that? But Dr. Atkins’ bizarre regimen really plays with your head/stomach (this month is my 4 year anniversary of starting Atkins, whoop-de-doo, but a big deal to me because I never had my weight under control before Atkins).
But I digress. I find it so interesting, how different people are in some ways, depending on the part of the country you are visiting. Like their land, the Minnesotans seem wide open, in both accent and spirit. So incredibly friendly and fresh-faced. When I was waiting for a woman from the Autism Society of Minnesota to pick me up in the airport yesterday, I was told to “look for a blonde woman.” Although I was tired and hungry, I had to laugh at that.
Here, as in Erie, Pennsylvania, where I spoke at the Barber Institute, I launched right into what I thought was a clever little speech about checking one’s autism baggage, what’s autism got to do with it, etc., but the audience was quieter than I expected. I think they expected me to be more formal, more of an expert. There was a slide projector sitting there, which I never use, rows and rows of beautiful tables set up, and maybe people were waiting for me to be the Autism Sage. So I just kept going, and suddenly they got me (maybe it helps that I tell them “This book of mine is about what not to do, as much as what to do!)”). After that, they were laughing quite a bit, which was great. It loosened me up more, so I could do my best.
It really gives you a thick skin, to speak publicly, and to gloss over missed jokes and forgotten words. Public appearances paradoxically allow me to confront my flaws and my imperfections and deal with them, like nothing else. You just have to present your best face (makeup, blowout, and nice clothes help, but they can’t do it for you) and then just be yourself, connect with people, and hope for the best.
And now I am returning home, a three hour flight that somehow becomes four hours, and start with a new meshugenah venture: trying to get caucused in to Town Meeting, for the third time! We just had local elections and now there is an open seat in my precinct.
Also, please say a kind prayer for my mom, a beautiful and extraordinarily sweet soul, if you can. Not going to elaborate, just do what you can, those of you who have faith, or some connection to God, in whatever form it might take. Thank you. (Photo is Dad, Mom, Laura in foreground at my book party at my cousin Eric Marcus’s fabulous townhouse in New York.)