Synesthesia and swearing

Just so you know, there is swearing involved in this post. Well, actually, there is censored-out swearing involved that you can probably figure out.

I’m usually pretty careful with my word choices. So generally, I don’t swear. There’s a lot of reasons why.

Because the words you use determine the image people have of you, and that is important. And I’ve been taught that swearing, or at least indiscriminate swearing, can make people think that you are crude. Or rude. Or generally unpleasant. And even if this isn’t entirely accurate (or if it isn’t important or even true), I’ve also just been thoroughly taught not to swear. It upsets my mom and I do not like upsetting her.

Also, I have a really bad location-situation-filter. So the whole thing about code-switching, not something that happens for me. If I let a word enter my vocabulary, it will come out at bad times. In job interviews or when talking to my grandparents or babysitting. Especially swear words, because those are words that you use in times of emotion or without thinking quickly or when surprised or whatnot.

Also, most swear words I don’t know the precise meaning of. Or if I do, the meaning doesn’t usually seem to make sense with what I want to say. So it just seems a bit inaccurate to use them just for the shock value. Or—well, I don’t really know what other reasons, since for me at least, it doesn’t accurate express anything. (People who swear, why do you swear? I’m interested!)

But that is not the main reason I don’t swear.

Most of the commonly used swear words have weird effects on me.

For instance, f***. (I started with the original word in there but just looking at it while editing hurt. So now it is censored, even though I think word censoring is sort of silly and we probably all know what this word is. But this way it doesn’t hurt to look at. It just makes me keep looking for footnotes, which are nonexistent in this post). I hate that word. When I hear it, it is like my mouth is full of cardboard and there is cotton balls stuffed in my ears. I can feel the tiny cotton threads. And it takes a long time for that feeling to go away. It is physically painful. And some people throw that word around all the time.

And this is why I hate it when other people swear. Because it is physically painful. But I also don’t want to be language police. Or control what other people say. And it’s not because of fussy reasons, or whatever. People should be entitled to use whatever language they want to. They should be able to swear if they feel they need to.

But it is also physically painful.

And it is really hard to explain to people “please stop using that word, it hurts me” because it is not the meaning of the word that bothers me. It is the feeling of the word. So usually I ignore it. Or move away if I can. Or I will say something about the volume. Or maybe there are children present and I can point it out. (But I can’t make up a fake reason to stop because that is FALSE.)

So if I ask you to stop swearing around me, that is probably why. The words hurt my ears (or my head or my mouth or my eyes or something) and to a level strong enough it overcomes my fear of confrontation/talking to other people.

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emotions are hard

TW: brief mention of self-injury

embarrassed is when I hide my face

crying can be meltdown 

or sad 
or mad 
or frustrated
or more

how do people tell?

(alexithymia?)

pinching is bad
biting is bad
hiding is bad
hurting is bad

but which bad?

there are shades of bad

stressed
tired
hungry
sad
hot
mad
and more

but even I can tell happy

happy is when I am dancing through a museum, 

twirling from exhibit to exhibit
spinning and dashing
flapping and flying
bouncy

but there are shades of good

happy
excited
joyful
interested
but they seem less important

I could tell you good or bad
happy or not
but not much more

Right now, I am stressed.

my knees are bruised from flapping
my stomach is sore from rocking. 
my ankles hurt from bouncing my feet off the wall. 

(but that is several days delayed)

and I can always tell you embarrassed is when I hide my face

Also, you should read:
My hands are echolalic by E. at the Third Glance
His body does his feelings by A Diary of a Mom
Here’s where it gets complicated by Lyssa and me

Crazy Dance Party

My new grad program likes to socialize.

This is good, because I am bad at creating new friends, so structured opportunities to interact are something I enjoy. And also it is good because so far, I really like all the people in my program.

There is a limit, though, to how much people I can be around before it just doesn’t work.

(Also, then I found the phrase Social Hangover (from Leah Kelly at 30 Days of Autism). And that describes it so well.)

And I’m afraid of telling people that I just met that my words stopped working.

(Also, really, usually at that point I can’t really use them to say that. Boyfriend usually just asks me because he knows that happens.)

We had a fun fancy dinner with appetizers that were handed out by people walking around with a tray and then delicious dinner with meat and yummy bread and things like that. And then fancy desserts which is something I absolutely, positively adore. One of them was caramel flavored and it was wonderful. And the people in my program talk about interesting, weird things, so I generally have no problem with conversation with them because it isn’t small talk, just taking and conversation and INTERESTING.

And we were in this lovely location with just us and a view of the nighttime skyline of the city. And it was quite enjoyable.

But then the music started getting louder. And people started getting drunker, and therefore louder. And because they were drunker, they didn’t really notice that I hadn’t said a word in about an hour. And then they started off to dance, one by one by one by one. And eventually I was just sitting at a table staring at nothing, sort of stuck (which actually happened before most of them left, but at that point, I was already sort of just stuck).

But then one of the girls noticed and pulled me in to dance, so I sort of danced, I guess. Dancing is not my favorite. There are very few occasions when I enjoy it. It is people-dependent and music-dependent and volume-dependent. But I tried to look like I was having fun because they were trying so hard to include me and sometimes I even was having fun. And they would do silly things to make me smile or be less worried about dancing awkwardly whenever they noticed I didn’t seem happy. And they tried so hard and were so nice and that made me happy. Even though it was SO LOUD. But I can do loud for a while sometimes.

And then the faculty members who were at the dinner joined us in dancing. (And seeing a senior, tenured faculty member dance to “Party in the USA” is really a quite enjoyable/amusing experience). And so that was quite amusing and fun for a while.

But then it just got TOO LOUD. And I had to escape.

Luckily, around that time, I discovered that there was a terrace. The terrace was quieter. It overlooked a pond and the skyline of the city all lit up. So for a while I talked to people out there. Then later, as I got more and more tired, I just sort of stood around and followed around groups without really saying anything. Because it was still loud out there, although less loud than inside.

And then eventually we went home, and I went to sleep and I slept the whole next day, too, basically until 4pm, only with a few breaks to get up and eat or take meds or send emails. Because seeing people at that time would not have worked. Full blown social hangover. Luckily there weren’t any orientation-things until 4pm (which was why I got up at 4).

I can’t write anymore ever and I was so excited about all of this blog stuff and about my friends and about figuring out WHO I AM and silly things like that and I thought maybe I would be able to explain myself and explain everything and then it would make life easier.

BUT NO IT DOESN’T BECAUSE LIFE IS STILL LIFE.

And I know objectively I have a really great one and I really shouldn’t complain probably all that much.

And today I had fun again.

We had a board game night at someone’s apartment with cookies and moderate amounts of alcohol. And the games were quite enjoyable and the cookies were really good. And no one was super drunk and it was just us so no strangers.

(And I did have a mini-meltdown on the way there because I couldn’t find the bus and my bag was heavy and then there was a very loud physics professor on the bus behind me once I finally got on the bus and so many noises, but even with that and being a little quiet in the beginning of the event, within half an hour I was having so much fun and was so glad I went, even with my mini-meltdown.

But I think I need to learn to take a break from activities. Or at least some activities.

(I do not go to bars at night. It isn’t the alcohol that is the problem. I like alcohol (well, very specific alcoholic drinks) (aka ridiculously sweet ones). It’s the NOISE and the PEOPLE.) (And going to bars is a very common grad student activity.)

But it’s tricky because the first couple weeks are when the habits and groups and friendships are formed. And in college I sat back because of all the new-ness stress and it took a year and a half to get good friends. And it was lonely.

But LOUD is LOUD is LOUD is LOUD.

And I want to tell all the people in the program that I like them so much and they are awesome and fun to be around but I’m autistic and just can’t physically hangout with them all the time because it just makes me so tied I can’t function. But it’s not that I don’t like them. But I have really only known them a week so I should probably be more secretive about it, especially since I am generally secretive about personal stuff. And I don’t want to use autism as an excuse. Or have them question if that is really the case. (Although I think if I said Asperger’s, they wouldn’t doubt that. But people tend to have a different picture of autism.)

And this is also silly because no one has seemed all that upset or concerned or less friendly because I haven’t gone to EVERY SINGLE SOCIAL EVENT THEY PLANNED.

So yup.

That’s what I’m up to right now.

But next week, I’ll start classes and rotating, and then I will have more structure, and also the frequency of social activities will probably diminish, since everyone else will also be busier, and that will hopefully help.

Rules, Rules, Rules

The best post I’ve read on rules was by Musings of an Aspie. It is far more eloquent than what I am going to say here. (But it isn’t completely how my rules work, since, after all, I didn’t write it.) But you should definitely read hers first if you haven’t, because it is absolutely brilliant.

Rules.

I like rules.

I stick to rules.

I have them for a lot of situations.

For things I do everyday, all the time, not as much.

When I talk to my family, I don’t worry as much about the rules. (Only a few rules then apply.) The rules for talking to my family are so everyday normal ones (when I am home regularly) that I don’t have to think about them.

Mostly they are manners.
Eat with your mouth closed.
Don’t put your elbows on the table.

And posture.
(My mother is very into that.)
Shoulders back, head up.
Walk with purpose.

(Learning to walk with purpose is useful. People seldom ask you where you are going when you walk with purpose.)

I assume most people are taught a lot of these rules.

When I talk to a stranger, there are a lot of rules.

Eye contact. Maintain eye contact. But not consistently. About 80% of the time. (I have a lot of practice in this so I usually only have to remind myself a couple of times. Although, I generally just stare at their face in general.)
Be polite (what a lovely, vague rule).
Shake hands when you first meet.
Stand still.
Don’t talk about controversial topics.
Say hello and stand up when someone new walks into a room.
Direct the conversation back to them.
Ask questions.
(People like talking about themselves. Conversations are a game.)

Remember names
(This rule is impossible. Well, not quite, but I can never remember the faces that go along with the names.)

….

I was asked if I ran my life by rules, principles, or understanding. And to me this seemed an incomplete question.

My understanding of you is built up of … well, not quite rules. But of things very similar to rules.

More like observations.

It would be more accurate, maybe, to say that for me, life is more like science.

I observe.
I look at all my observations.
I make them into hypotheses and observe some more to test them.

Starting specifically.
I gather up observations.
After staying up until 4 am, your voice is lower than normal.
When you tell me you worked all night and only got two hours of sleep, your voice is lower than normal.
When you are talking to me before you fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, your voice is lower.

Eventually, I gather a hypothesis. When you are tired, your voice is lower than normal.

I test it out over time.
It seems to hold consistent.

Sometimes they are things I can generalize to people in general.

Raised voice means angry.
Laughter is good.

Maybe this is why I took to science so well. I’ve been using the scientific method my whole life.

In orientation for my Ph.D program, we discussed the scientific method.

It seems simple.
It is simple.
It’s just not easy.

And that’s very true.

My parents seemed to know that this is how my mind works (generally). They gave me rules for things to do, but most importantly, they explained the WHY of the rule. Knowing the WHY of the rule helped apply it to the situations it was relevant.  And most importantly, the situations where the rule WAS NOT relevant.

When the why WASN’T explained, things happened that weren’t supposed to. Or were just utterly useless.

Look behind you before you change lanes. (So I looked directly behind to the back of the car. Not to the blind spot. Because they said look behind you. And I thought it was silly, but it was a RULE of driving, and I certainly didn’t know everything.)

But once the WHY was explained, then I actually checked for oncoming cars. It didn’t just give me situations to apply the rules, it made them work better.

Knowing the whys of rules makes the world a less confusing place. Knowing the whys makes rules easier to remember. But knowing the whys is usually something I can’t figure out myself (especially social-wise). And this is where parents come in, where friends come in, where cousins come in, where boyfriend comes in. Because sometimes they can explain the whys.

Asking for Help

The hardest thing I have trouble with when I think about being autistic is the idea of being disabled. Of needing help.

I’m so afraid of asking people for help because they might say no (and because it usually requires talking to them) and then that would BE THE END OF THE WORLD (a bit of catastrophizing, there), so usually I will just muddle through my problems and confusion and noise and hopefully make it all work out even if it makes it 300% more difficult for me than it would otherwise. (And almost always people have said SURE and done a tiny little thing and made my life so much easier the few times it got so bad I needed to ask for it, but I still can barely ever, ever, ever bring myself to ask).

I don’t like the idea of accommodations. Especially noticeable accommodations. There were probably things hat would have shelled me in school. Extended deadlines would have been nice ( but really, wouldn’t hey be nice for everyone? Most people I know could have done better if they didn’t have ten billion things due at once). (And probably maybe should have asked for help the semester I wanted to die but I couldn’t come up with a reason for asking. I wasn’t sure that I can’t handle life would help.)

Because all I’ve ever been good at is school and reading and being smart. I’ve never been good at sports or talking or socializing or any of those other things that people are good at. But I’ve been good at school. And I managed to hang on to being BEST at school through high school. 


(Fun semi-related Fact: My mom once tried to use “Popular” from Wicked as a self-help book to try and teach me to make friends.)

(Here it is if you haven’t heard it before).

But then when you go to college where 50% where in the top 2% of the class and 90% were in the top 10%, you realize you aren’t alone at being smart.

And then you don’t have an identity.

And you cling to it as strong as you can. And there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY you are going to ask for help because that would be ADMITTING that you are not good at school if you need help.


I have horrible handwriting and often illegible notes. (But luckily I’ve always had friends with wonderful handwriting in my classes who are willing to share when I can’t read. And that “asking for help”)

And my family guards secrets so fiercely and closely. I haven’t caught all the nuances of what things to share and what to hide, so my default is everything is a secret. Especially weaknesses.

I’ve been able to get by ok with myself. With things I can’t do I have usually been able to get by by not doing or by having family or friends doing it for me. 

Maybe there would be things that would be easier.

But being different is already hard enough.

What would have been nice would have been if I had known to go to office hours. If I hadn’t been so afraid of people that I never went to office hours. Never asked for help.

I think I would be so afraid of needing help that I would have never asked for it.

AND IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP! It’s ok to slightly inconvenience people.  If its a professor, IT’S PART OF THEIR JOB.

But I’ve been so afraid that if I need help, then its proof that I’m different, and DIFFERENT IS BAD. And different is dangerous. And different is lonely.

And I’ve been hanging onto this for so long before hitting publish, because even admitting to the anonymous internet that sometimes I might need help maybe, is hard. 

Things that made me think about this:

I Need Help!-Why it’s sometimes hard for people on the spectrum to ask for assistance@Inner Aspie

And from autisticook’s comments on Feminaspie’s post here! (And some responses that followed).

“You’re asking people to do something for you. It’s an imposition, even if it’s a small one. The world doesn’t give a f— about us.”
This in response to me asking why this person was taking meds to help with anxiety and concentration span instead of asking for accommodations at work. I’m not saying one or the other is preferable, the answer was telling though.

Adventures in Apartment Living: Cities are Loud

I’ve never lived in a city before. My college was definitely NOT in a city location. There were not any streets through campus, even. Now, I am at graduate school in a fairly big city. Probably one of the largest 10 cities in the country. I live in campus housing, so I’m super close to campus (and also then I didn’t have to find a lease or anything like that). 
But cities are loud.
My campus has a hospital. I am near the end of campus that has the hospital. That’s actually super convenient, since most of the biology research buildings are located near the hospital. The not-so-nice-part? Hospitals means ambulances. Ambulances mean sirens. Sirens are loud. There are several an hour. Even at night, because people still get injured and in car crashes and have heart attacks at 3:30 am. (There are less sirens, but that’s probably because there is no traffic so they don’t need to turn the sirens on and just have the flashing lights instead). And I feel bad that sirens upset me, since obviously they are important, and the people in the ambulances are probably having a worse day than I am.
There are also cars and people and people in other apartments, who admittedly I very rarely hear, but I think take showers at weird times so I can hear that too in the middle of the night. 
And someone has a baby, and babies also cry. (It’s not their fault, and I rather like babies, and I certainly wouldn’t tell people with a baby crying in their own apartment to stop it, because really I don’t think that would do much, but it is still NOISE.)
Cities are also bright. I need to buy blackout curtains for my apartment (it has shades but light can still come through it). Because my room is so bright all night long. There are so many lights all night long. But to do that I have to go to a store and make decisions and be around people. And that is hard. Especially when I’m tired from being kept up all night by sirens and bright lights.

What do I do at football games also I am tired

I went to a football game this weekend.

Some of my friends were going, too, and it was on my old campus where I am an alumni (of less than a year! gasp!).

Also, I’m still tired and thinking weird so that is why everything is broken up into segments. Because I like segments. But hey, I’m mostly using sentences now even, so that’s cool. Grammar and stuff! Yay word choice and organization or structure or whatnot!

BEFORE THE GAME

So it was an efficient way to see a lot of people that I miss. And one of my close friends from the group of 4 bio majors was coming up and another one lives near by so it was 3 of the 4 all there at once. And I spent the night before with them and played with their dog and talked and drove to school on the long car ride up (well, talked while one of them drove).

It was super super awesome to see my friends again. Although the friend who was coming from far away missed their flight because Colorado is flooded so it took a long time to get to the airport so she didn’t even get in until 1 am and then we talked a lot. But we also slept in a lot and then the friend whose house we slept over at has awesome parents and they made us BACON for breakfast (and other foods). And also we all got to sleep in beds there, and that’s always cool.

And then saw a few more people and said goodbye and went to meet boyfriend because I had seats with him.

ON CAMPUS

It was super crowded. There’s a bazillion people on campus before football games. But boyfriend’s family usually tailgates somewhere quiet, so I could sit in the grass and eat chicken and talk to people I knew only. And we got to see boyfriend’s old roommate and his girlfriend and they are awesome people, and also I miss them, and also they do cool things in science so it was fun to learn that. And there was food.

DURING THE GAME

We got to the stadium early because we always get to the stadium early. Boyfriend because he likes to watch warmups and predict who is going on the field when and possible lineups and who even knows what and me because I like going in when the entry is less crowded and when it starts less loud so that I can get used to the noise and so that it slowly increases.

And we got to watch the marching band and I LOVE marching bands. With the lines and the music and the patterns they make OUT OF PEOPLE!

And then there is the whole announcer thing in the beginning where the announcer says all the same things all the time and I like that. Except it sounded different today than it did as a student so I didn’t like that.

And then there was the sports part. Which was ok. I’m not super interested in them, but they can usually hold my interest for the first quarter. And then there are fun things to look for and I like to watch the clock change and I like to watch people on the sidelines. And I looked for people I knew and sometimes was bored. But also boyfriend likes sports so sometimes I go to them. And I had fun sometimes.

And it wasn’t even hot which is good because I hate hot and also I tend to faint in it, or almost-faint, and that’s no good.

And also then there is MORE MARCHING BAND AT HALFTIME! I really love marching bands.

And it was quieter than watching in the student section because there were more adults there so no drunk people yelling right behind us or falling on me. (Boyfriend liked student section better because of “atmosphere” but I was very glad to be quieter with more space to sit and less drunk people.)

And boyfriend lets me play with his hands and do fun stimming things with them like when you hit your fingers through another person’s fingers or just repeatedly run into their hand with your hand or things like that. Also his hands are large so my whole hand fits inside which is good when it is cold.

And also I saw someone on the other team punch someone on our team, which amused me and I think is not supposed to happen in football.

And also our team won, which made boyfriend happy. Although I don’t know why because the other team lost so half of the people on the field are sad and a lot of the people in the stadium probably are too because people who go to football games often tend to be emotionally affected by them, so I don’t know how people can be happy when other people are sad. But I don’t think I understand sports probably the way “sports people” do.

AFTER THE GAME

We saw more people. I saw my baby cousin who is now in college which is really weird because she should be small.

Also it was weird to go in buildings I used to live but where I don’t anymore because I am grown up and graduated.

But it was nice to see people and talk to people.

THE DRIVE HOME

We got in the car and drove away. I went home with boyfriend and his family because my friends were staying overnight and going out and stuff and I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. And then boyfriend’s dad was stressed about getting to a specific route onto the tollroad and it was stress and loud and noise. But we found it.

I have a silent meltdown in the car on the way back, because I am driving back with my boyfriends family and don’t want them to know, although it is ok if boyfriend knows and luckily he and i can sort of talk in sign so no one else notices. (The not wanting anyone to know is the reason for the silent, not the meltdown.) And boyfriend is good at helping with meltdowns even at the one the day before where I lost all my words. I like boyfriend. (I think I will need to come up with a good name for him so that I stop just referring to him as boyfriend because that sounds sort of silly and I might end up referencing him a lot or he might pop up here and there in posts because I see him a lot.) So boyfriend helped and then I got better and went to sleep in the car almost and he talked of silly things that would make me laugh once I got more focus back and I was ok until I got home.

LATER AND ALSO NOW

I got home and went to sleep for a very long time.

And then I woke up.

and now I am still off and sad and floppy and tired.

And also starting school.

And changes. And tired.

and I probably need to remember that I can do loud crowded stuff and even have fun at them sometimes

but that is certainly does have an effect

(after football games freshman year, I would fall asleep within an hour wherever I was, even if it was on the floor in someone else’s room, and basically sleep the whole rest of the weekend)

But maybe not the best timing because it is a day later and I am still super tired and I have orientation starting Monday and there are social things there and other things there and I have things to do and paperwork and SO MANY THINGS.

Friends are good, though.