Life so far: growing up, autism, and 100 blog posts!

Years ago, I often thought about starting a blog. With my big dreams of becoming an author, it sounded like the sort of thing that all the high-flying writers are doing. Of course, it was just a crazy idea I had. Nothing serious. Right?

On receiving Blogging for Dummies for Christmas, I thought I’d at least show my appreciation by doing a quick summary of my world as a trial blog post. Now, four years and 99 posts later, my blog has definitely stood the test of time. It’s my way of reaching out, entertaining, and making my mark.

And this is my 100th post! So I thought I’d offer a much bigger summary of my life up until now.

Starting with Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday 17th March 1993 at 1.13pm. My parents joke about how typical it was of me to come out at lunchtime. To which I say, how many people do YOU know who were born in the middle of the day, week, month, and academic year, on their due date?

People sometimes ask me what I remember about Taiwan. Kind of awkward because my earliest memories include me and my (British) mum hiding from my (Taiwanese) dad after they had been fighting. But hey, I also remember playing with our pets, walking through mountain scenery, and my 4th birthday party. It wasn’t all bad!

Just after said birthday, my pregnant mother and I hastily headed my grandparents’ way – Cam, Gloucestershire. My sister was born. I started school, and was happily oblivious to my teachers telling Mum how weird I was and blaming it on bad parenting. Then we found a council flat.

A year later, while we were on holiday, my now-stepdad made his debut. From then on, he kept turning up on our doorstep. And we on his. This went on for about three years, until he and Mum married, and we invaded his house for good. Did I mention what a cute bridesmaid I was?

Now in Loughborough, I ended up at a school that was actually competent, and hey presto, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My response to the news? “Oh…can I have a piece of cheese?”

Secondary school pulled my head out of the clouds with a jolt. It was a scary world of social hierarchies, sport, and teachers with varying levels of empathy. I struggled with friendships. I struggled in classes. Most of all, I struggled to accept that autism was nothing to be ashamed of.

But gradually, I got involved with various social groups at church, and I finally started to make friends and open up about my difficulties. Meanwhile, I was studying animal care at Brooksby College. It comprised manhandling animals of every size and species, essays, poo, and overnight lambing. Pretty grim, but I passed with straight distinctions!

Because I wasn’t ready for uni afterwards, I did a couple of years of home study, and realised that my heart was in becoming an author, not a vet nurse. The second year proved eventful when my Grannie died of cancer, and I still regret not visiting more. But it was also the year I started at De Montfort University, studying Creative Writing and Journalism. It was challenging, and falling out with my friend when we tried living together was hard. That said, I learned more about writing than I ever had before, and I don’t regret it for a second.

And now, here I am, coming to the end of my Christian bookshop internship. It’s been a great year, with great people, and I can’t help wishing I had more time left. But few things in life are permanent, and as I reflect on my significant life events, I do wonder what the next one will be.

 

 

Suri

As you can see from the above photo, we have a new family member. Because it felt strange saying I have three cats having still not met the third, I made a date to come straight home at the beginning of the reading week to meet the new arrival: Suri.

Like Lionel, Suri is a former Redgate resident. Apparently there is some controversy over her history, but long story short, she is three, and had previously suffered from cat flu and abscesses before she was given the all-clear. She still has bald patches on three out of four legs, but is none the worse for wear. The staff at Redgate depicted her as liking other cats. She shows Tango and Bouncer how much she loves them by hissing at them and swiping at them when they try to use the stairs. My family collected her on Sunday 15th February and last Monday I finally met her.

The main difference between her and the tabbies, aside from being a completely different colour, is how kitten-like she is. At 10 and three quarters, the boys are getting to that stage in life where they are well used to everything life has thrown at them. They have taken Suri’s arrival in their stride, and having seen Thomas, Lionel and Basil come and go, were probably thinking “Ok, what’s this one going to be like?”. I think we’ve all said how small she is compared to the tabbies, but then we say that about most cats we see! Even the vet said they are at least a quarter longer than the average cat. Mum can’t get over how tiny her paws* are compared to theirs, especially Tango’s – we think if he was a man, he would be a size 14.

Despite her previous health problems, Suri is a lively little thing and wants to be everywhere all the time. When I was there, she was all over the worktop, explored the crockery cupboard and even got into the cupboard where the kitchen knives are kept. Apparently this is normal and shouldn’t be discouraged – that said, I still drew the line at her investigating the cheese box. She loves her food apparently, but (unlike Thomas) knows not to expect it at 5am. She has outdoor access, but seems to approach the outdoors like a newly-released prisoner. So far, 10 seconds at a time is more than enough for her.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m missing out, as this is the first time I haven’t been fully involved in the arrival of a new cat. I do miss having cats, and often worry that the tabbies will forget about me. Having spent so many years running to me when called, Bouncer always gets excited when I come back, however long it has been. Tango, on the other hand, is so docile it doesn’t make much difference whether he remembers you or not. Despite being more timid that Bouncer, he does seem less wary of Suri. Then again he was the only cat who could ever stand up to Basil, by developing a Jekyll and Hyde persona. Clearly we underestimate him.

Changing the subject, I am once again trying a new approach to blogging. The best way to make a blog more successful is to write about a recurring topic. So I was thinking about writing more about special needs based subjects, including posts based on my online Demon articles, such as the last post. I’ll probably write either once a week or every other week and alternate between special needs posts and the usual ramblings about my life. I might also add in the odd bit of creative writing. I always worry I’ll run out of topics, but if I can write about a cat I have only met once, I can’t be doing too badly.

And just so they don’t feel left out, here are the tabbies at their best:

*Suri’s paws, that is. Mum doesn’t have any paws.

Cold, wet and pushed for time

My blog has just congratulated me on reaching 20 posts. Which I thought was pretty considerate of it seeing as I had made no mark of the occasion whatsoever. I am sure a feeling of celebration will hit me any time later, but right now I am slightly preoccupied.

For a start, I realised only yesterday that I had to do three blog posts by today. Blogging is now part of the Creative Writing learning curve. As is Twitter. Only last week, my stepdad said I should be doing more to publicise my blog. I always post it on Facebook and, I clearly said to him, I really couldn’t be bothered to get Twitter just to advertise my writing. The next day came and guess what my Creative Writing lecturers had asked me online? Not only that, but I have been advised to do two Tweets a day. So if anyone’s interested: Grace Liu – @CREWgraceglsl.

Secondly, I am fully drenched and frozen to the bone. This is one of the setbacks to commuting. A half hour walk to the train station, followed by another walk to uni must have seriously tested my immune system and my hands’ resistance to frostbite. Did I mention that it was raining hard enough to soak through my jeans, blowing enough of a gale to make it hard to walk and even snowing?

Finally, my hand is still recovering from a cat restraining attempt gone wrong. Basil (see August 26) and I had a bit of a disagreement the other day – in other words, I thought he should be firmly picked up and put outside for aggressively chasing Bouncer and he disagreed. And my hand suffered multiple scratches and bite wounds as a result. I felt like a kid again, standing in the bathroom with Mum dabbing my hand with TCP and warning me that it would sting. But hey, it gave me something to put on Twitter.

So it is now 12:40 and I have successfully done three posts! Time for lunch, methinks…

Greetings…

So I have somehow found my way onto the blogosphere. After months of reading other people’s blogs, wishing I was already an experienced writer and maybe a little procrastination. I’d recently come up with a long list of deep, philosophical blog post topics such as Asperger’s Syndrome, cats and how not to play Super Mario bros. Looking at my newly created blog I suddenly had an attack of writer’s block. Er, blogger’s block. I was also impressed by how my “Blogging for Dummies” book could make me feel like a complete dummy within the first few chapters. So to start it all off, here’s me.

I am half Chinese/Taiwanese, half English, and spent the first four years of my life in Taiwan. Since then, life has thrown many weird and…weirder things my way. I learnt to play the violin at a young age without ever being taught how to turn the page of a piece of orchestra music without knocking it off the stand. At age nine I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, to which my immediate reaction was “oh…can I have a piece of cheese?”. My eleventh birthday was spent in New Zealand and ended with us all jetlagged and in bed at 4:30pm. I spent the next few years blundering through school, college and home study and surviving with reasonable grades and an offer from De Montfort Uni. I now reside in the same HQ as a certain feline facebook celebrity, name of Lionel Arnold.

With my slightly autistic tendencies I am a perfectionist. I’m also an introvert, and love being with those I’m close to but will quickly start to flag if I can’t have my personal space from time to time. My memory allows me to remember tiny details from incidents of years ago, but not instructions that have just this second been given to me. I love cats, reading, writing, music and, if I’m honest, chocolate. What I’m not so keen on are stereotypes, not being able to do things, conflict, sport and people with unreasonable attitudes. I have many different interests, as you may soon find out, and have wanted to be a writer since before I started school. Hence me trying to hone my writing abilities by starting a blog.

As stated in my “about” section (among other things), this blog is basically the musings, memories and mishaps of a slightly autistic Christian wannabe writer. Obscure, I know, but I’m hoping to work on that, with a combination of reflections and amusing anecdotes. Enjoy!