When I went to get my Master’s degree in Creative Writing my favorite class was one in which we spent the entire semester dissecting two paragraphs from Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own. We spent two weeks on ONE sentence! This was bliss as I’d never completely understood the word before. Pure bliss. Needless to say, I was the only student in a class of about 25, who felt this way. Everyone else grumbled and complained, spoke of their excruciating boredom, many even transferred out of the class. I couldn’t understand their feelings. What was NOT to like?
I’m a big fan of the highlighter, so it was with some amusement that I read a note from Emma’s teacher last night, “She enjoys highlighting words at school and this will also help to increase her ability to read sight word vocabulary…” Her teacher had thoughtfully included an enormous neon yellow highlighter in her binder! Love that. If I had a photo of a random page in Douglas Biklen’s book - Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone I would insert it here as almost every page has notations and sentences highlighted. Such as this one from the chapter, Reflections on Language – Lucy Blackman: ”Birthdays were happy, exciting, chaotic, and connectional with food – the ultimate source of pleasure – so excitement was a birthday party. But excitement, terror and fury are very similar emotions, so I still scream “birthday party” when expectations are more than I can cope with.”
In Aspen, Colorado where we go several times a year, they have fireworks at the foot of Aspen Mountain on the Fourth of July and again on New Year’s Eve. Emma both looks forward to the beautiful display and is terrified by the sound they make. She calls the fireworks “motorcycle bubbles” which is such a wonderfully descriptive phrasing of what she is seeing and hearing. This idea that “excitement, terror and fury are similar emotions” is not something I’d considered before. While walking the dogs on the ranch road with Emma, who has then (seemingly) randomly said “motorcycle bubbles”, I’m left wondering why she would say this. Now I question whether her fear of dogs is similar to the terror/excitement she experiences from the fire works display. She loves sitting in our neighbor’s house protected from the loud booming sounds, while still being able to see the beautiful colors of light raining down on to the mountain and town below.
Could this also be why she links rain to “motorcycle bubbles”? Is rain equated with an electrical storm or the “raining” of lights during a firework display? I can, literally, become lost in this kind of thinking. I find it fascinating and exciting. Like Virginia Woolf, whose writing I happen to be a fan of, Emma uses such disparate and surprising words to describe things. I am reminded of the German word for “skyscraper”, the literal translation, I believe, is “cloud scratcher”. How fantastic is that? It’s beautifully descriptive, even poetic.
One of my favorite Cloud Scratchers – The Chrysler Building