Why I created #whinywednesday for my FaceBook followers

On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, I posted an invitation asking my FaceBook followers to post their crankiest issue of the day. The teaser introduced #whinywednesday hashtag was accompanied by a photograph of myself in a hospital setting. I replied to every comment, with a sarcastic twinge and dorky emojis and animated gifs to complete the mockery of the absurdity.

It’s #whinywednesday. Post your complaints below. I’m serious. I love being distracted 😀

Humor and sarcasm has always been my default perspective on life’s complexities. I live with genetic comorbidities known to cause complications in autistic people. As I started a new treatment this year, I found myself in the infusion clinic, surrounded by people receiving chemotherapy. The energy in the space was threatening the sanctity of my positive thoughts.

I fought back by posting a picture of my IV arm, and a goofy grin. The teaser offered an opportunity for anyone to make a laughing stock of life’s complexities, by reframing them as trivialities. The original premise was to showcase my attitude during a challenging moment, while inviting the observer to join me in silly play. I was not prepared for the awakening I experienced when reading about people’s daily grind.

Hey hey hey, it’s #whinywednesday today. So please share, what’s the crankiest ☔️ thing that happened to you today? For me, my mint plant 🥦 decided it no longer wants to live outside, so now I have green stuff in my kitchen. Okay, your turn 😀

One person shared that he just completed his oral defense for his dissertation proposal. When he got home to celebrate, he found that his brother had drank all of the scotch that he was saving for 20 years for this occasion. Others spoke about their hassle with paying their taxes, the struggle to buy printer ink at the Best-Buy, and the muscle pain of finishing physical therapy only to be followed by a gym workout.

Overall, this experiment is helping me be a better person to myself, and a more compassionate member of a community of support. Our shared interests seem to be aligned toward acceptance of autistic people, and a world that works together to create a safer space for people who are made to feel that their existence is a threat to the species. One week later, the commentators have thanked me for creating this space for safe whining. But have I created this, or have they made it what it has become? 

An Unorthodox Life: Radio interview with NPR KQED, April 25, 2017

This 30-minute episode aired through KQED to NPR two years in a row. Three years later, people still write to me about smilier stories and sharing good wishes.

Direct link: An Unorthodox Life: Radio interview with NPR KQED, April 25, 2017 (click the red play button)

Transcript

An Unorthodox Life

LISTEN

33 min

 (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Henny Kupferstein grew up in the Belz sect of ultra-orthodox, Hasidic Jews in Borough Park, Brooklyn. From early childhood, she felt like a misfit. After getting married to a virtual stranger at age 18, Henny began secretly rebelling against the confines of her sect. When she was 34, a startling diagnosis would lead her on a dramatic path away from the Belz and everyone she knew, including her four children.

You can read about Henny’s work with autistic kids and her book, Perfect Pitch in the Key of Autismon her website.

Music for this episode was composed by Nicholas DePrey, Chris Colin, Seth Samuel, and Henny Kupferstein.

Henny Kupferstein, age 18, with her paternal grandparents on her engagement day.
Henny Kupferstein, age 18, with her paternal grandparents on the day of her engagement. (Henny Kupferstein/KQED)
Henny Kupferstein concealed by her veil on her wedding day.
Henny Kupferstein concealed by her veil on her wedding day. (Henny Kupferstein/KQED)
Henny and her husband on their wedding day.
Henny and her husband on their wedding day. (Henny Kupferstein/KQED)
Henny Kupferstein and her four children in front of the New York Aquarium seven years ago, on the last day that she saw them. Her children were 12, 10, 5 and 15 months at the time.
Henny Kupferstein and her four children in front of the New York Aquarium seven years ago, on the last day that she saw them. Her children were 12, 10, 5 and 15 months at the time. (Henny Kupferstein/KQED)
Henny Kupferstein holding a picture of her and her four children in front of the New York Aquarium on the last day she saw them. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)