Literary Bears

For the Love of Books


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Book Review for Raising Cubby

I was so excited to receive Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison in the mail last week!

Autism awareness has grown significantly over recent years, and most people know someone on the spectrum. There are many things we do not know yet, but research is ongoing, and there is a lot of support for the Autism community. This has not always been the case, and I think that Raising Cubby did an excellent job at reminding or informing us how far we’ve come as a society in regards to Autism awareness and support.

Raising Cubby is John Robison’s memoir. He discusses his struggles growing up “different” in a world where he was labeled as “lazy” and “stupid” for having Asperger Syndrome. He grew up believing that he was stupid, and because he struggled in school, he dropped out once he got to high school. Robison would prove to everyone that he was not stupid by successfully making a career out of electronics. He and Mary AKA Little Bear were married young, and from the union, Jack was born, or Cubby as he was nicknamed.

It wasn’t until well into adulthood, that Robison was diagnosed as having Asperger’s. He had trouble accepting it, but once he analyzed all the traits, he recognized that it all fit. His denial soon turned to relief as he found that he finally had a label for what caused him so much grief earlier in his life. Although, this did not help seeing the signs that Cubby was also autistic. Cubby was not formally diagnosed until he was 17.

There was one thing that bothered me in this book, and this was the sexist portrayal of women. Robison claimed Little Bear had a certain role to play because she was the woman and was required to do most of the hard and dirty work involved with raising a child. While he, being King of the House, was only responsible for the fun stuff. Women were not described in a good light, but then I read a line that made me feel better. Robison wrote,

One of the key markers of Asperger’s and autism in general is blindness to the non-verbal signals of others. One of the ways that manifests itself is in self-centeredness. Folks on the autism spectrum don’t behave in a self-centered way to be mean or take advantage; they do it because they don’t “get” the signals others are sending. This trait has caused me a lot of trouble in life, and it looked like it was affecting my son the same way.

Upon reading this, I understand this is his perception of what life is. He doesn’t mean to come across as rude. It made me slightly less angry.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and I greatly appreciate all he and Cubby do for the Autism community. They give hope to everyone on the spectrum, as well as the family and friends that love them. It was a very enjoyable read, and I would recommend to anyone who would like to learn a bit more about Asperger’s and Autism in general.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I would like to clarify that even though I did receive this book for free, it was only done for an honest review. If you would like more information on the book or author, please use the links below.


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Moving Day

Today’s the big day! Today is the day I finally leave my crazy mother. I still feel guilty saying that, but sometimes you have to call it like you see it. My mother is insane, and there is no amount of sugarcoating that will change the fact. You may be judging me right now because you were probably brought up to love your mother above anything in the world, and believe me, I WANT to be one of those people. My mother makes it an impossibility.

Liz (my mother) is an only child. I feel that I’ve said enough, but let me just take you down memory lane so that you can see what I’m dealing with. As a child, I was the only child never invited to birthday parties, not because the kids didn’t want me there, but because no one wanted to be around my mother. I was hated by association. Liz was what you would call a pathological liar. To add to this, she was also a kleptomaniac. Things would go missing everywhere we went, and she would always lie about it. It was embarrassing, and understandably, no one wanted us around.

As a child, making friends was easy, it was just keeping them that was the problem. In my neighborhood, it was hard for children to be only “school friends”. The mothers in my neighborhood were very involved in their children’s lives, and they always scheduled play dates with one another. My mother did nothing to try to help out her only child. She thought it worked out even better because we would be able to spend all of our time together without interruptions. I have to admit she was very creative, and she made up all kinds of games for us to play. I thought it was the least she could do since she was effectively ruining my childhood, but I learned to get over it.

Once I was older, I no longer needed play dates to meet up with friends. I made many new friends and spent most of my free time at their houses, much to my mother’s dismay. My mother is very possessive and was really mean to my friends. She would belittle them just so that they would stop hanging out with me, and I would be forced to spend time with her. That was her plan, and it would have worked if it were not for Jim. When the guys met up to discuss kicking me out of the group, Jim was the only person to stand up for me. He reminded the guys that I was their friend, and that I was not responsible for my crazy and cruel mother. Jim convinced them to give me another chance, and in exchange we would spend all our time in his own home. That was a true sacrifice. Everyone loved Jim’s house. He had the best games, but unfortunately, we left a mess and Jim would be forced to clean up for hours once his mom saw what we had done. It wasn’t until much later in life, that I found out the extent of Jim’s loyalty.

Jim has become a huge part of my life throughout the years, and my truest friend. He is the brother I always wanted. When I told him that I wanted to move out of my mother’s house, he congratulated me and told me it was about time. If only breaking the news to my mother had been just as easy.

My mother burst into tears and asked me why I hated her so much. She told me I was all she has ever had and that she would end her life if I left her. She pulled the mental disorder card, and told me that her kleptomania would only worsen and I would be to blame. What I always forgot was that my mother was a pathological liar, and knew exactly what to say to manipulate me. It worked though, and I postponed my search for a new apartment. When I told Jim why I had to postpone my move, he told me to stand my ground and not let my mother manipulate me the way she has all my life. I knew he was right, but she’s my mother and watching her cry was a bit more than I could handle.

The day I snapped was the day she told my girlfriend, that she had to go away forever because I was all she had left and she was not going to stand around and let a stupid little girl take her baby away. When I heard this, all the built up anger exploded. I told her I had had enough of her childish behavior and I was leaving. As expected, she broke out in tears and told me how her mother had died, and she doesn’t have any other relatives because my paternal grandmother also died. (My father was a married man, so I doubt my paternal grandmother would have wanted anything to do with her, but I did not say so) I told her I was very sorry, but I had to save my own sanity. She threw herself on the floor, and I ran away. I’m not proud to admit it, but I knew that if I hung around, I’d be sucked right in again. I just promised myself I would call her later to make sure she was okay, and she was. She just bid her time until she figured out a new tactic to make me move back, but this time I meant it. I was not moving back.

I ran over to Jim’s house, and stayed with him while I found my own place. It did not take long. Jim is a mailman, and he knew of an apartment for rent right next to a very special lady. He told me all about this older woman, Ava. Ava was like another grandmother to Jim and he was very fond of her. He told me that if I moved there, I would finally have an idea of what a real mother-son relationship was like. He knew that is what I really wanted. Call it mommy issues, I don’t care.

My application for the apartment was approved, and today is the big day! Will took the day off to help me move. I didn’t own much so we were done moving around noon. Which was perfect timing as that is when we saw Ava come out of her house. I can’t really explain it, but I felt a surge of love for her that made me feel as if I had known her all my life. She was every bit pleasant and kind as Jim had said. She must have allergies because I noticed her eyes were watery, but she smiled and looked healthy so I really don’t think she’s sick. She smiled at me and welcomed me to the neighborhood. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m home.

 

I’d like to start off by saying my mother is a saint, and I have a very healthy relationship with her. No mommy issues here. Did the characters sound familiar to you? If they don’t please Click Here and you’ll see how this is Will’s version of the story An Answered Prayer. I couldn’t come up with new stories, but I also realized the ones I had are not complete. So I decided to explore my first story a bit more. Stay tuned for another website change to include book reviews!


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My Best Friend, Luke

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Luke and I are best friends. We met right before he started walking. I remember this vividly because he was practicing his first steps when I first saw him. I happened to be walking past a park when he smiled and waved. His mom looked up at me with a confused expression, but appeared not to see me. I was used to that. Most people look past me as if I don’t exist. Luke waved at me so I walked over to him and we started playing, becoming immediate best friends.

Luke and I had so much fun that day, he asked his mom if I could come home with them so that we could keep playing. His mom smiled at him and replied in a strange language I didn’t understand. I asked Luke what she said and he told me he had no clue. She appeared to not speak our language, but we were sure she would catch on soon. Since she smiled, we took that as a positive reply, and she did not oppose when I started to climb into the car. That’s how I ended up being a part of Luke’s family.

I never had a family of my own, and I actually don’t even remember much about my life before the day I met Luke. All I remember is wandering around streets waiting for someone to acknowledge me, but no one did until Luke saw me.

Luke and I are inseparable. He has grown, and we are finally the same height. I love playing with him in front of mirrors because we really look like brothers, more like twins actually. I’ve come to realize that only Luke can see me. Our favorite game to play is one where we have to chase each other everywhere until one taps the other. Now that Luke can run fast, we usually play outside so that he doesn’t get in trouble when I knock something over. I never get in trouble, not even when Luke tells them I did it, and I know it’s because they can’t see me.

Some time ago, Luke taught me to speak in Mom and Dad’s language, and he no longer speaks my language. When I try to speak to him in my language, he laughs and calls me a baby. That’s a bad thing, so I only speak in his language now.

This week I noticed that he doesn’t always answer my questions even though I only speak in his language, not mine. At first I didn’t notice a change, but then I realized Luke hasn’t been playing with me as much even when I follow him around and tap him. Right before bedtime, Luke acts surprised to see me and asks where I have been all day. This makes me sad. I realize I’m fading, and somehow I know very soon he’ll be like the rest of the world and not see me anymore.

Today, I went out for a walk by myself. I was very upset. When I looked in the mirror to see our reflection, I realized I’m almost completely faded. I was barely able to see myself, and Luke didn’t even hear me when I told him I was going out for a walk.

While out on my walk, I met Ivy. She told me my time on Earth was almost up. She told me I would soon be in a better place where I will always have many friends to play with, and many grown-ups to take care of me. She told me I did an excellent job watching over Luke, but that it was time to say Goodbye. I was the saddest I’ve ever been, but she told me not to worry. Luke and I would always be best friends and that even when Luke forgets all about me, his parents will remind him about me. She said parents always remember and that they pass along all the memories they have of Luke’s “imaginary friend” Ivy told me that is what my name is on Earth. She bent down to hug me and kissed my forehead. She told me to go say bye to Luke because I would be leaving with her tonight.

I went back to Luke’s room and waited for bedtime because that seemed to be the only time he saw me. I started to tell him that I would no longer be around, but I noticed he couldn’t hear me. He was falling asleep without me having the chance to say goodbye. I tried nudging him, but he did not wake up. I cried and told him he would always be my best friend, even if he couldn’t hear me. Then I went to say bye to mom and dad. They were watching TV and even though I knew they wouldn’t feel it, I hugged them and thanked them for being my mom and dad for all those years. As I walked past the mirror in the hallway on my way out, I did not see my reflection at all. Just then I overheard Mom tell Dad that she had felt very warm a moment ago, and asked if she should turn up the AC. Dad said he also felt warm, and I knew they had felt my hug.


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Shortcuts

Here’s a #TBT post. It was the first short story I ever wrote. I wrote it as a stress reliever when I was planning our wedding. The story is dated May 14,2014.  The prompt was: “Write about missing a plane”

Jerry looked at his watch. This time it was 7:15 am. His cab should have been here 45 minutes ago. He tried calling the cab service, but they kept saying the same thing, “your cab is on its way.” He tried calling another company, but they were all booked. Just his luck. THIS is exactly what happens for traveling to the middle of nowhere; this would never happen in New York. He was silently cursing out this miserable town and all the cab drivers when he saw a car approaching. He dragged his luggage towards the car anxious to hop in and finally get to the airport.

The car pulled right up to Jerry, and a very young man ran out of the car and took his luggage. He could tell the boy was sweating profusely and decided not to be too hard on the boy who was obviously sorry he was running so late. Jerry cut the boy off mid-way through his apology and told him he was forgiven, and instructed him: “Step on it! I have a plane to catch!” The boy was obviously trying to appease his upset customer, nodded and assured Jerry they would arrive at the airport in no time. He told Jerry, “You’re in luck my friend, I know these roads like I know my own home. I know ALL the shortcuts, we will make it on time, do not fret!” Jerry wondered why he was late in the first place if he was such a great navigator.

While the boy rambled on about the roads unknown to even the most adventurous residents, Jerry looked at his watch and calculated how much time he had before his plane started boarding. 1 hour 45 minutes. We can still make it he thought to himself.

Jerry looked out his window at the scenery. There was absolutely nothing he would miss about this old fashioned town. There was no service for his cell phone, no wi-fi, no technology, no fun. When he first arrived at his “hotel” he had stared blankly at the rotary phone they expected him to use.

When he snapped out of his self-imposed flashback, he realized the boy had stopped talking and had resumed sweating profusely despite the cool temperature. Jerry asked the boy if all was okay, and the boy quietly answered, “I may have took the wrong turn, but all is well. I know a shortcut.” After some more turns, Jerry looked at his watch, 1 hour left. He really didn’t want to lose his temper on this poor boy, so he restrained himself as best he could and asked “How much longer?” The boy said “Ten…maybe Fifteen more minutes. We’re almost there!” as he attempted to smile through the rear-view mirror.

Jerry looked at his watch: 40 minutes to go. He looked at the boy and calmly informed him that he HAD to step on the gas. He could not miss his flight. The boy literally slammed on the the gas, and after a few turns, they found themselves on a highway. FINALLY! Civilization!! Jerry thought as he checked his watch: half hour left. Jerry quickly pulled out his cell phone and turned on his GPS. He could have killed the boy after seeing his screen: they were driving in the opposite direction!

He proceeded to give the boy directions,”Quick! Make this left!” The boy obeyed. Jerry looked at his watch: 20 minutes. They were only five minutes away according to the GPS. “Make the next left… a left… go on the left lane.. the left… THE LEFT!!!!” and the boy took a right. “RECALCULATING” the GPS stated. “GODDAMNIT!! I SAID A FUCKING LEFT!!! A LEFT!! WHAT PART OF LEFT DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!” The boy was visibly shaking. Deep breaths, take deep breaths Jerry thought to himself.

When they finally made it to the airport, Jerry threw some cash at the boy and ran inside to check his luggage.

“I’m sorry, the plane just took off.”

“YOU GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!” Jerry thought, but what he really said was, “When does the next flight leave?”

“The next flight will take off in two hours.” That’s not too bad, Jerry thought.

“Please accept our apologies and allow us to buy you breakfast at the finest restaurant in the area.”

“That would be great. Thank you. I’ve had a rough morning, and haven’t even had coffee yet.”

“Sure. We’ll even pay for your transportation to the restaurant.”

As Jerry was escorted out of the airport, a sweaty young man runs up to him and grabs his luggage. “I know every short-cut there is! We’ll be there in no time!”

You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me was all Jerry could think.

 


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First Impressions

“I have died many times my darling, and I’ve always ended up back with you. A different version of you maybe, but you all the same”

Those were seriously the first words my husband ever spoke to me. I did what any sane person would do, I ran for the hills… in my head of course. I was not about to jeopardize my life by insulting a person who was no doubt a psychopath, especially not to his face. What I really did was plaster on a fake smile and said, “okaaaay… I’ll see you later. I have an exam to study for.” THEN I ran for the hills. I had no intention of ever seeing him again.

I had completely forgotten about The Creep when I spotted him at one of those “End of Semester” parties I avoided like the plague. I could have killed the friend that dragged me to this party once I spotted The Creep. I tried to sneak out of the party without being spotted, but stealth was never my forte. In my quest to get out as fast as possible, I managed to run right into some girl and spill her drink all over her date. Needless to say, I failed at my mission and was immediately spotted.

From here on, we’ll shorten The Creep’s name to TC, both because it’s easier and because TC hates being referred to as The Creep.

Okay, back to the story: TC walked right over to me, and casually asked if he had come off too strong during our first encounter. “Uh, yeah” I mumbled as I continued to try to leave the party. Either he was a psychopath serial killer, or he was clueless. Lucky for me, he was just clueless. He actually followed me around as I tried to find an exit, which made me panic more. Somehow I managed to lose him, and made it home that night safe and sound.

Now that the semester was over, I was free to go back home and not have to worry about TC all summer. However, as fate would have it, I ran right into him at the gas station as I was leaving to go back home. He yelled out to me “I know you’re playing hard to get!” This was probably the worst thing he could have said to me. I walked over to his car and told him “I am not one of those girls that enjoy playing games. I expect men to respect my feelings, so I do not play with theirs. It’s called mutual respect. The fact that I keep walking away from you, is NOT an invitation to play a game. It’s an invitation to take a hike. I’m NOT interested!” as I began to stomp away, I heard him say “I know” so I looked back at him, and he was smiling shyly at me so I glared at him. He explained, “I can take a hint, but I really wanted you to talk to me instead of avoiding me. Can I just have your email? I promise I do much better in writing than I do talking. Please? Just one shot, and I will leave you alone.” Then he added quickly, “you don’t even have to write back!”

I weighed this over. The worst that could happen is he would know my name, but I wasn’t sure he didn’t already know this. I mean, I did know him as The Creep. He already knew what school I went to, so what damage could be done by giving him my school email? I didn’t have to write back, and he would leave me alone. As far as I was concerned, this was a win-win situation. I made a decision to give him my email, and sealed my fate that day.

When I got home 3 hours later, I had dinner with my family and avoided the dreaded “so.. any-boyfriends-yet?” conversation. They knew I’d die a spinster, I don’t know why they even bothered with me. I ran up to my room that was slowly turning into a storage room. Don’t think I didn’t notice, MOM! I had to squeeze and shimmy over to my desk to turn on my computer. I had to research what displays the museum was running right now. I hadn’t been to the museum in months, thanks to the endless homework that semester. I saw that the History museum was running a new exhibit on Pterosaurs! How fascinating! I made plans to go over first thing the next day.

Once at the museum, I found myself looking for TC. I mean, if this was a movie he’d show up, ruin my day, follow me home, and then kill me in my sleep. But this wasn’t a movie and he didn’t show up. The exhibit was phenomenal, so why was I disappointed? I was annoyed at my realization that I expected to run into TC, so I went home and checked my school email. There were a couple school reminders, but there was also an email from Travis Cairo. I was too intrigued to laugh at the moment that his initials were indeed TC, but I would laugh about it for years to come.

Travis was indeed better at writing than he was at speaking. His email was a beautiful letter too personal to go in too much depth, but he won my heart with it. He explained he was awkward and a dork, but he felt he knew me from a past life. He told me that I was beautiful, but that was not why he was drawn to me. He said there was an inexplicable attraction to me that he had never felt before, and that he knew all he could ask for was one chance to prove he was much more than a guy with a horrible first impression. He asked me out on a date. I replied back that I would go on a lunch date, but that I would not accept a marriage proposal so he needed to tone it down. He had a great sense of humor and knew I was joking. The rest was history, my friends. Lesson learned: don’t be so quick to shut down the awkward dork. Many of them make great husbands.

 

 

Okay, that was today’s work of fiction. That is NOT how the Bears met, and Mr.Bear is not an awkward dork who can be mistaken for a serial killer… or is he? DunDunDun.. Just kidding. Oh, and today’s prompt was,”I have died many times my darling, and I’ve always ended up back with you. A different version of you maybe, but you all the same” I could have made this a horror short story, but I don’t know that I want to try horror yet. I might give myself nightmares, and I’m not ready for therapy yet. Happy Saturday!