Safe at Home

Plants sitting on a small bookshelf. There is also a lamp on here, and some boxes, but they are on the shelves and the plants are on the top. It is one of those bookcases with square shelves and only half height. The plants on the far left are in glasses. There is a spiky tree with curly leaves in a pot. There is a cardboard box on top. There is also an orchid but it is not blooming so it doesn't look very exciting right now.
This is my collection of plants that I own. They are very pretty and
 happy. I have to have plants at home or else it just doesn’t feel
like home. They are chilling out here enjoying the south-facing
window that they get to live by.


I talk a little bit about disordered eating habits in this post, as a heads-up. And also about guilt.

I am living alone now, and have been for a few weeks. I realized what I needed out of roommates and living alone was a better option for me at this time. (And I could afford it, although I have money-spending-issues*.) And also I want a furry friend, so I had to move into a pet-allowable apartment. I’ve been living alone with just me and my plants the last few weeks and I’ve had time to go through the different activities and parts of life and figure out why this is working and why my last roommate living together didn’t work, even though I have lived with people successfully and happily before.

The roommates that I lived with successfully
(1) understood the need for quiet/alone time, although we also would have the opportunity for parallel activities in the main room, like reading a book or watching tv together. An ability to be in the same room quietly is important.
(2) helped manage the effort of living together

Regarding point 1, my more recent roommate never bothered me when I was in my room. She was very respectful of that. If my door was closed, she would only knock if it was something relatively important. Or she would g-chat me. (An excellent way of initiating contact with me.) But I was never able to sit in the living room without conversation. I stopped eating at regular hours when I was stressed because I was too afraid to go to the kitchen during normal hours in case she would talk to me while I was there. And that’s just not a good thing to have happen at home. She was a very sweet girl, and we still are friends, actually (we were friends before, also), but living together just didn’t work out best for us.

Regarding the roommates I successfully lived with: we shared chores, so someone was always able to handle the something that needed to be done. But mostly it was making dinner together regularly. We didn’t always cook together, but we almost always (unless it was just eating leftovers) made enough for two. Often we cooked together, sometimes I made food, sometimes she made food. It added enough so that on bad days you could always find something to eat because chances were the other person was up to making food that day.

My last roommate didn’t cook at all. She mostly ate soup from cans. So that didn’t work. If she had, it is far more likely that I would still be living with her. If I had been able to share meals with her, I think the conversation would have been less of a barrier. But as it was, I was getting all the bad things about living with another person (a.k.a. there is always someone at your house) without any of the benefits I needed.

***As you can tell, food is very important to me. Both on a “I need food to survive and also get grumpy really quickly if I haven’t eaten” level and on a “I really enjoy eating and making delicious food” level. But I still have food struggles, mainly that when I get stressed I forget how to make the food or decide the food or eat the food. Also, when stressed, my foods-that-I-will-eat decreases dramatically.***

So it is ok for me that I moved out. Because being safe is ok. I don’t need to feel guilty about moving somewhere I feel safe. (I do feel guilty about it, but I know I don’t need to.) Because I feel safe at home here.**

Because now I can sit in my living room and work on things at my desk/table. I can work on my couch if it is something low-key like reading papers (which I have been doing so much of in these last few weeks of prelim-ing). I can go out of my room at any time of the day and it is ok. If I am sad or frustrated or mad, I don’t have to hide myself away if I start crying. (Which also means I can get things I left in the other room if I am upset.) Because the whole place is safe.

I can make myself dinner when I am hungry or at mealtimes, even when I am stressed. I can eat, even when I am stressed and tired. I can try to make new things, which I never ever ever could do in my old place unless I was sure my roommate wasn’t coming home. I can make snacks and baked goods. I can eat at the table, instead of in my room. I can take my time looking through the cabinets (although there isn’t much in them yet). I can cook things that require time spent in the kitchen, or time spent watching the pot, because I can stay in the room where they are, and it is safe.

I should feel safe where I live and I will feel safe where I live and I do feel safe where I live. (Except on windy nights when the broken screen on my window taps all night long but a maintenance request will fix that. And also that’s a different kind of safe.)

And the next person I live with will be boyfriend (who is now fiancé, who I really should give a proper name to) who makes me feel safer than any other person, except maybe my California family (but they have the benefit of added years of safety and familiar places on their side, while boyfriend can make me feel safe living 8 stories about the ground in the Midwest–I’ve never lived so far from the ground before.) Because I should feel safe where I live. And I will.

~~~
*AKA I get stressed spending any quantity of money because of some reason that I still struggle to articulate. I have never not had enough to meet my needs, so I am not sure where exactly this fear comes from. I think partially there is just something in the idea of spending money that I don’t understand. Where even though I know it translates into numbers, any values over $20 are bigger than I can really comprehend fully. So every few months I panic and get my accountant fiancé to explain all the numbers to me and check my finances and reassure me that I am financially safe.
**Even with the bad parts like going in elevators with other people and going through rotating circle doors daily, and scary things like those, I STILL feel safer here.


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Creating my own standards

This is not relevant to this article, but it was one of the earliest images that popped up when I googled the title of this post looking for a good image. And I really do love xkcd, and I didn’t come up with a better image for this, and I prefer to have images in my posts, so I am sticking with it. Because it’s always good to have a bit of fun in there. 

 I’ve been struggling a lot lately, with prelims and lab choosing and moving and a million pieces of life (which is why I haven’t written much in August). Errands and jobs and tasks that require communication and planning and new skill sets. There is the constant low level anxiety about being in a new place right now, which uses up spoons just existing until I get adjusted into life here.

And I’ve been trying to keep up with graduate school and doing my best and trying to make a good impression so that people like me and let me into programs. And maybe I have been trying my hardest and maybe what I have been is good enough.

Or maybe it isn’t. I sort of think that I should be trying harder. Trying to improve myself and be better. There are always things I need to work on.

Today I read this (emphasis mine):

“I feel as though many of our autistic kids can never escape from this idea that they must always be being corrected; must always be being taught; must always be building on skills; must always be attending therapies and classes; must always be being “consistently disciplined”; must always remember every second of every day that they are autistic and that they have so much to learn, so far to go, so much more that they need to be.”

~“Are We Trying To Hard To Teach Our Autistic Children”, Suburban Autistics (Also read the rest of the article, it’s great!)

There are so many things I need to work on. I identify a new area where I struggle when talking with boyfriend and he says “ok, we can work on that”. But if we add up all the things that “we can work on” then I don’t know how I have any time in the day to actual get my work done*. I can’t always be working on not panicking or working on not hiding my face or working on one of the million other things I struggle with that are things that need to be done to be professional and successful and effective at communicating and get things done.

And then I get overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to do and it is a horrible positive feedback loop that just spirals out of control.** And that is no help at all and does not lead to more things getting done.

I have to remember I am the one who is creating the standards for my behavior. I can make them reasonable.

As long as I get by, I am doing ok.

I need to eat. I need to do reasonably well in grad school so that I don’t get kicked out. I need to pay bills and pay rent. I should try and avoid going into debt. As long as I stick to that, I am doing ok. It is fine if I watch a lot of tv. Or if I hide in my room and don’t talk to people. Or if I do talk to people. Or if I don’t exercise. It is all ok. I am surviving.

On days I remember that, I am fine. I am more productive. I am happy. Of course, determining what “reasonably well” means is a whole issue on itself…

~~~~~~~
*They are usually things that I do need to work on, like being able to make appointments or go to the doctor or go to a meeting or such things.
**I really want to say a negative feedback loop, but that is wrong. A negative feedback loop will turn itself off or regulate levels, because it negatively effects itself. A positive feedback loop builds on itself and increases and increases. One biological example of a positive feedback loop is peeing.

Living

I need to be able to live somewhere that I am not afraid of leaving my room. I need to live somewhere that I feel safe in the whole living area. That I can go in the kitchen whenever I want to. I am paying rent for half an apartment, but I’m afraid to use most of it. It’s an irrational fear, and afraid might not be the absolute best word for it, but it is the best word I can find right now.

Often, I won’t leave my room if I know my roommate is in the kitchen/living/dining room. This has negative effects on my eating habits. I can’t schedule my meals because I never know if she will be outside her room that day and I will need to make something quick so that I don’t have to stay in the kitchen long if she is out there. Even though I know this is irrational and there is no reason why I can’t use the kitchen if she is in the living room, it is just something that cannot happen, except on the best of days. Even if it isn’t a physical barrier, it is still something that prevents me from eating. It is still a real barrier for me.

I want to state clearly that this is in no way my roommate’s fault. She is a good roommate. She respects my space and doesn’t come into my room ever unless she has something important to tell me (like the oven is still on, or the timer is going off, or I got mail here it is). She doesn’t eat the food that is specifically mine, and splits the bills on the food we share, like bread and milk. She pays the internet bill on time so that we have internet always, which is important. Admittedly, sometimes she doesn’t do the dishes, but that is something I also do. When I told her that I do better with initiating conversations written, she started asking me over g-chat or facebook chat about things like paying my half of the internet bill.

The things that bother me are things she can’t really help. For instance, she had a really bad cough for months. I recognized that was not something she was doing consciously to annoy me, and it probably was worse for her than it was for me. But that still didn’t stop it from hurting my head every time I heard a cough, from distracting me so that I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

But mainly, it is her presence.

And I feel absolutely, positively horrible for saying this, because she is a nice girl. She’s one of my friends from undergrad and she’s also doing a Ph.D here. And her program doesn’t seem to be full of nearly as many lovely, friendly people as my program and I know she is having a hard time with it. My time at school/work is full of friendly interactions with fun people and hers is not.

But I need to move out.
I need to live somewhere I feel safe.
Somewhere where I am in control of the whole living area.
Somewhere that allows pets so that I can have a cuddly, snuggly friend.

But I feel horrible about abandoning her. Even though I’m not leaving until the lease is up (or at least close to it. I can’t pay two leases on a grad student stipend.) Even though we lease through student housing so she can stay here and still pay the same rent and they will probably put someone new in this apartment so that will be good because she will not be alone and generally gets along well with people. And also just that we won’t live together doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends.

And sometimes I talk to her and it is nice and fun and good. And happy even. And then I think that maybe I could handle this, that maybe I am being selfish and antisocial and lazy and if I just started spending more time not in my room I would feel safe in those parts. That it is just me being a horrible, lazy, selfish person.

But it isn’t selfish to want to be safe. It isn’t selfish to want to be able to make myself food on bad or tired days.

Probably not.

Some random updates

It’s time for a Friday night update on my life. Why? Because I am still testing the hypothesis that blogging makes me happy. So far it has been another fairly good set of weeks, but it is sort of difficult to tell if this is because of the blogging or the talking to people or what, because I don’t really want to do the sort of controlled experiments necessary where I try weeks without any of the coping mechanisms to use as a control, so I am really trying to go with the methods where I throw all the new coping techniques or correlations up at once and try to maintain all of them if at all possible. But mostly right now I am working on the blogging regularly part. So I’m going to give an update on my life in list form, because list-format makes sense and is good.

The good:

(1) Told my roommate I was autistic. Mostly happened in passing in a conversation we were having about how we were good at teaching. That was fairly uneventful. Pretty much she asked, “really” to see if it was a figure of speech or not and I said “yup. for reals.” and then we continued our conversation.

(2) Also finally told my roommate about how I prefer text-based communication a lot of the time. So that if I am seeming quiet or non-communicative (because she said she was worried that I don’t talk enough) that she should try g-chatting me or something. Because I looovvvee g-chat. I am very talkative and friendly through g-chat almost always, even when I am non communicative verbally. And that also went well, I think.

Yes, I will go play with animals all break.

(3) When this lease is up in August, I am moving. And I am getting a pet. Hopefully a dog (I just need to work out a few details about Christmas, but boyfriend and family live in Chicago, so hopefully they can watch it) so I can go on walks and cuddle and because I love dogs, but if not, at least something adorable and furry and lovely.

(4) It’s spring break so I am going home to California! And I am going to go see these beauties. And also the sun. And warmth.

(5) It’s also finally starting to get warm here again. I can go outside without my parka. (Still wearing a coat, but not my giant, knee-length puffy coat!) Spring is coming. And spring means daffodils and tulips, which are my favorite flowers.

The bad:

(1) My computer is dying, so that is no good. It decided to quit on me all night yesterday which is of course just what you want the day before the end-of-rotation presentation. So that presentation went not-all-that-great, as I hadn’t been able to practice it, but I didn’t actually cry during the presentation, and I bribed everyone with brownies that I made the night before, since I had a lot of time since I couldn’t work on my presentation with a nonfunctional computer… It hasn’t made funny noises since my presentation, though, so maybe it has decided to improve. I know they have limited life spans, and this one is 5 years old, almost, but I don’t want to have to replace it. Also computers are expensive.

Why yes, this happens every time I try to
put my curtains up or take them down.

(2) My curtains hate me. I swear that they have a conspiracy designed to drive me into a non-functional state of rage. (That hasn’t actually happened, but that is just because I am smarter than my curtains. It’s close, because they are pretty tricky, but I think I am winning just slightly.) So my curtains actually spend a lot of time on the floor.

I think they technically aren’t curtains, but are shades or something like that, but that is probably a mostly-irrelevant piece of data.

Also, they are luckily close to my bed, so I can climb on my bed and the window to put them up every night when I go to sleep. But it is still super frustrating and also I am climbing on windowsills while sleepy a lot, which is not the best idea.

(3) I’m 23 now, so I’m technically too old to be on my parents car insurance anymore, so I am going to have to either stop having a car (which I could do. I don’t really need a car, but it is nice having one) or pay for car insurance myself soon once the insurance company realizes that I am too old. And that adds even more costs onto having a car I don’t really need but that makes my life a lot easier to the point where I am almost not sure I can justify it.

(4) I have to do taxes soon… or have boyfriend do taxes soon, at least, and this year I have to pay taxes instead of getting a refund, because my graduate school stipend won’t take the taxes out directly like most jobs (and they also only pay us 4x a year, which is stressful because you have to manage money well throughout those three months because you don’t get paid all that frequently.) So I am going to have to write big checks to the government, and that is no fun.

The neither-good-nor-bad, but just things that have been happening:

(1) 2048 is the best and worst game ever. I want to play it all the time. But I discovered it during finals/presentation week.

(2) I am not tired because I took a 4 hour nap today (which was good). But now it is 1:30 and I am still awake (which is bad). But tomorrow is a Saturday so it doesn’t matter too much.
~~~

I’m getting through pretty well right now, overall. The goods outweigh the bads, generally, at this time. (Admittedly, at this moment, my computer has also decided that it is going to function and has been for a while, so that is a big plus. Probably currently the biggest factor in my happiness is my computer’s inconsistent behavior.)

Well, that’s all that’s really happening here.

Thoughts on food

Just a heads up, I will be talking about eating habits and food and various related topics in this post. I havent had any really big struggles with food as a whole, but there are definitely some issues that will pop up now and then. Sensory issues and executive function issues mostly. 

So I like food.

But, like really. I like food a lot.I spend a lot of time thinking about food. When I am happy, I like to bake and cook fancy things. A large portion of my time with my college friends was spent baking cookies and cakes and brownies and bars and cinnamon rolls. Probably a good 50% of my Facebook posts are recipes. I have an ongoing cheese commentary with one of my friends.

Sure, I’m a picky eater. I like very specific foods. It’s probably more accurate to say that I have very specific dis-likes.

Like tomatoes.
And food with green bits in it. (Unless they are green onions. I will eat those, now.)

Only recently did I learn that there is a difference between not-liking a food and gagging when you eat it. I thought when people didn’t like foods, that is what they meant. That the only way to eat it was to mask in in something else, whether it was eating the cooked spinach in a giant cup of milk so you couldn’t taste or feel it (as in taking a giant sip of milk immediately after to allow me to swallow the spinach.)

I thought that meant I did not like spinach. I assumed when other people said they hated certain foods it meant they also had physical difficulty swallowing it. Or that it made them actively gag.

Admittedly, I didn’t think too much about these differences. If I think about it closely, there is a difference for me between foods that I cannot will not eat unless I hide them in something so my mouth doesn’t have to feel or taste them, and foods that I find unpleasant. Probably.

There are certainly foods I prefer not to eat, but I will eat them if they are offered to me* or are part of the dinner made my my parents.

I think I have a high bar set for disliking food versus being indifferent to it.

I also like to store food. I’m afraid of running out. It is illogical. I have never had a significant food shortage in my life, other than all the food is at the store and I am not at the store.  (And even then, there has always been some food at my apartment, just not the food I want, so it is really more ‘all the food I want to eat is at the store’). So when I have good food, especially good, easy-to-make food, like Trader Joe’s potstickers and Trader Joe’s everything and costco stuff, I don’t want to eat it. Because maybe there will be a day later that I need it. So I should save it.

Of course, then when I am tired and hungry and need a quick meal, which is why my mom got me these TJ’s stuff, I still won’t eat it. Because I need to save it for an emergency. Which is quite silly because the food is replenish-able. Sure, TJ’s is a bit inconvenient to get to, but I have a car. I can do it. Also, I still have tons of it before I have to worry about a shortage and the need for a refill trip.

Maybe I am a little tiny bit possessive of my food. I maybe used to hide the good leftovers in the fridge so no-one else would eat them. (I knew I didn’t have a fair claim to them all, so I could only eat so much at a time, but I wanted them so if I hid them, people wouldn’t notice them as much and I would be safe.) Also, when we were sharing the dessert at our birthday dinner, I realized I was being possessive of it. But I shared, and I even let him have the last bite. It was difficult. (When I commented on my dessert-possesiveness, he told me my whole family is a bit dessert-possessive. Which I believe. We take dessert very seriously in my family.)

And also there is the issue of making food.

It is just so difficult.

It requires me to be out in the kitchen. The kitchen is not as safe as my room. My room is the safest place. Admittedly, I have been doing lovely recently, and even talking to my roommate, but I feel self-conscious about cooking when other people are there. Also, more importantly, I do not want to share. (I would be fine with sharing if we maybe both took turns making meals, or even if she sometimes occasionally made meals, but all she makes is soup.) Because, again, I am possessive of my food.

And then there are all the steps involved. Decide what the meal is. Prepare the ingredients. Cook them. Eat it. Clean the dishes. The first and last steps are usually the ones that I get stuck on. I won’t be able to decide what to make. Or I won’t want to clean dishes. Or all the pots will be dirty from my roommate making soup all week (or admittedly, they can be dirty from whatever I made last, too) and I won’t want to wash them. I guess this is maybe a little bit of the executive function fun coming into play here.

I need to make a menu. When I decide what I am eating for dinner before I head home, I actually make dinner that night. And sometimes it will even be healthy.

And I like eating vegetables, too. But there are just more steps involved in eating and making them, usually involving chopping, so if I don’t have that planned out in advance, if the kitchen isn’t empty, then I will not make them.

Or I will just end up eating yams. But yams are good for you. And also the most delicious thing in the world, so really, I am fine with eating lots and lots and lots of yams.

I like food.
I wish it would magically appear in meal form again, like it did at home.
But in a few weeks I am going home for a week, and then it will magically appear at dinnertime (and probably lunch and maybe even breakfast, because my parents spoil me) and then that will be just lovely and a nice break from being a real grown-up person.

~~~~~~~~~
*Although, honestly, I will try and eat everything that is offered to me if I am a guest, because that is The Rule If Food Is Served To You and refusing otherwise is Rude and Has Consequences, but my family does have weird hospitality/guest traditions that don’t seem to be common in the US at least, so I am probably ok not eating tomatoes at other people’s houses instead of very carefully destroying and hiding the offending items in other pieces of food, and thus destroying the good qualities of the good food in order to make the meal consumable and Avoid Rudeness. But that is another complicated issue that luckily doesn’t come up much, especially since boyfriend has told me that it is Not The Rule for his family, so I don’t have to eat food there that I do not like.

An update on my life… Time machines and closets and ramblings such as that

This week was not great. A lot of things went wrong or were confusing or were just difficult to handle. I spent a lot of time just surviving. But… when I look back at the actual events that happened, it is hard to deny how ridiculous some of them were. (So if you are amused by them, that is good because some of them are just plain amusing.)

On Thursday night, I realized my presentation for class on Monday was actually a presentation for class on Friday. So that was no fun. But I eventually worked out that presentation and presented a paper on the evolution of yeast mating lifecycles (exhilarating, I know… ). But because I wasn’t as prepared as I had planned on being, I had a tendency to babble and word vomit during the presentation.

Which is how I ended up talking about time machines.

And how if time machines were invented, going back to look at the history of the evolution of yeast mating genetics might not be high on the priority list. Which led to my professor asking me why… Which was not a question I was prepared to answer, so I told him that while admittedly I probably would not be the person deciding the time machine priority list, it certainly wouldn’t be high on my list. Because yeast…

Also because dinosaurs! (Although actually that sounds dangerous, but if someone else is doing the traveling, I’d be all for it. Although I would also be concerned about disease contamination, especially viral and microbial diseases and affecting the levels of resistance in different populations, so I think that is another issue that might come up with time travel, because you wouldn’t want to introduce antibiotic-resistant bacteria right around when antibiotics are just starting to be used, because that would be just awful. And then there are new diseases, and probably old ones that have been selected against, or have varied enough that we wouldn’t have a very strong/effective immune response against, so we would have to have a really intense sterilization process both directions. I think the best solution actually might be some sort of virtual time machine, where you don’t actually physically travel, but just sort of are able to observe the past. It would also help with all the interference possibilities. )

Anyway, time machine tangents are easy to get on, and that definitely happened.

I also really need to stop giving my 100% blunt honest opinions on papers to professors. Because once I said that, I had this horrifying idea that this professor might be a yeast geneticist (luckily he wasn’t. I checked after class). And I have done similar things, like told my biostatics professor that statistics was the ugly sibling of mathematics that everyone pretended they weren’t related to because it is so gross and ugly. I really dislike statistics. Still probably not the best idea, though.
….

And then Friday night, I lost my keys. All of them. My car keys, my apartment key, my lab key. So I can’t get into my apartment (my roommate let me in Friday night). I’ve been hanging out here since then. Because if I leave, I won’t be able to get back in.  (In a cruel twist, I both will not be able to lock the door and will not be able to get into the building, because the door to the complex locks automatically, which probably is fairly common in apartments, admittedly, but I have never really lived in one before so I was unsure.)

And all the lost and founds seem to be closed on weekends, which makes sense, I guess. Because it is the weekend. They were open at my undergrad institute, though.

Blargh. I haven’t lost keys in ages. (Well, at least not all at once. I did lose just my lab key somehow last semester, which was quite unfortunate. And unusual, since it was just one key. And I managed to not lose all the other keys that were attached.)

Saturday, I was determined to avoid any mishaps. I would not leave the apartment. (Also, I didn’t have any keys.) I was sad and overwhelmed for various reasons so I went and sat in my closet. Because small dark places make me feel safe. And then I closed the door…

Usually it opens from the inside. But the door got stuck today.

And that is how I got locked in my closet for over an hour. Yes, I am apparently someone who manages to get locked in a closet. A non-locking closet. It must be payback for all those times I locked my youngest sister inside a closet. (Yes, sometimes I was a horrible older sister.) (But I was also little, so I wasn’t particularly unsupervised, so my mother would usually catch on pretty quickly and make us let her out.)

It is very boring inside my closet. And the closet is very small. There is not much to do in a closet. I played the flute for a little bit, but there wasn’t any sheet music in there and all I really know how to play without music is the Jeopardy waiting song, which can get old when you are stuck in a small space. I am glad I do not get stuck often inside small rooms. It is not ideal.

(There was so much to do inside the closet I locked my sister in! There was dress-up! And games! All the games were stored there. And it was big! And I would bring her food! And sometimes I would lock her friends in there, too… we were playing prisoners. And it was never for an extended period of time.)

Eventually, my roommate got home and I yelled and she rescued me.

Today it is Sunday.

I will not get stuck in my closet.

Tomorrow I will have to go to the pharmacy. But not until tomorrow. Today I can stay at home. Out of my closet, because I am not going to get stuck in there again. Because that is awful.

Instead, I am going to read some papers for class tomorrow. I will probably watch Scrubs on Netflix. And Arthur. Boyfriend is going to call later today when he gets back from his trip. I will eat food. I made rice pudding last night so I can eat that. Maybe I will make cookies.

I will probably not go to Mass even though I should but it is snowing and cold outside, and I don’t have keys. I will go on Wednesday this week, though.

Ugh. I’ve just been generally overwhelmed by life right now. The days are getting longer and the sun is up more, but that doesn’t seem to help.

Also my computer is dying, and all the Apple stores are far away. So that’s another thing I don’t want to deal with, but probably will have to soon.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Enjoy the stories about time machines and being locked in closets.

Productive Weekends

Well, this is something that I meant to publish awhile ago (like I was supposed to publish it around the same time as this other thing about weekends in October) but it just got lost in my drafts file. It’s pretty similar, still, though, although it isn’t a weekend right now. But it is spare time because I am DONE WITH FINALS and mostly done with this semester so really I just have a break and I think it is ok. And it’s tricky because I think I should be doing things, since I have dishes to wash and things to clean up and boxes and such. So I think this is still relevant.

It is ok to be non-productive on weekends.

Or whatever this idea of “productive” is, anyway. Especially since my idea of productive is not a very useful one to apply to an apartment. I am still under the impression that for it to be a productive weekend, I need to do some sort of yardwork.

(I’m not sure how 4 years of dorm-living didn’t get this idea out of my head.)

But I have this lingering idea at the end of every weekend that I was so unproductive because I didn’t rake out the goat pen or sweep the driveway or any of the million projects that we got assigned to on weekends at home. Which is quite CLEARLY ridiculous as those things would really just be impossible to do here anyway.

I do watch a lot of tv on weekends. Which feels rebellious, still. Because we were not allowed to watch tv during the day. We usually watched a movie on Friday nights and Saturday nights as a family. But weeknights were for reading and homework and playing and projects and chores. And weekend days were for the same sort of things.

So now, I spend my weekends largely watching tv and sleeping. I usually wash my dishes once.  Boyfriend usually comes over and we hang out.

I’ve almost gotten past the point of adjusting where I can do things I enjoy again because of not being adjusted. (I still don’t bake much, though, but that’s more because my kitchen is lonely and small. I am going to find a nice kitchen in the apartment I move into next year. More importantly, in the pet-friendly apartment I move into next year.)

I want to be able to do this but also maybe one or two times a month hang out with grad school peeps. Because I like them and that sounds awesome.

But what I really want now is a cheeseburger so I think I am going to go buy one BECAUSE I CAN.

Roommate Rantings

Things I have only had moderate success with: getting along with roommates.

I’ve always lived with sisters, so I’m not quite sure the difference. I think because maybe you are allowed to yell at sisters and sometimes hit them and getting mad at them is okay. Because I certainly had problems with my sisters sometimes. But those were usually minor incidences. But this roommate issue isn’t because I am used to having my own room. Because I shared one for large portions of my life.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out well at all. Right now, it is ok. Not the worst roommate arrangement I have had, but not at all ideal.

I’ve lived with my best friend for a summer, and that worked out wonderfully. We each had our own rooms, and a nice big kitchen and baked lots of delicious things and watched a lot of cooking shows and House Hunters and Say Yes to The Dress together. She was an awesome roommate (I maybe not so much, admittedly, but we were still super good friends after, too.)

For one summer program, I lived in a quad in a dorm room with 3 other girls. My roommate was quiet and nice and very religious and gone a lot. That worked out pretty well. We sometimes hung out and she taught me how to make bread and nothing bad particularly happened. One of the other girls in the other room was especially awesome so I hung out with her more. (And then my friend who I lived with earlier was also on campus, so I spent a lot of time with her and that group of people.)

My freshman year of college roommate was also ok. We didn’t really talk much, because she had a long distance boyfriend, but we coexisted peacefully in the same space.

Sophomore and junior year roommate was bad. Same girl. I knew it would be bad and not work out but I couldn’t figure out how to say no because there wasn’t anyone else who would have lived with her probably. And junior year I had a high enough rank on the room-pick-list, I could have gotten a single, but she couldn’t have, so that would have also been mean. Sophomore year was ok, with drifting into bad. Like when she broke up with her boyfriend of less than a week and then ate all my birthday ice cream. And then it got absolutely horrible junior year. Part of it probably wasn’t her fault, admittedly. I think both of our lives were falling apart in different ways and two people who have lost control of their lives don’t really make good living partners.

Anyway, and now there is now.

Currently, I need to find a way to tell my roommate that sometimes I just want to not talk to anyone and it isn’t that I don’t like her, it is just that I am home and home is my quiet, not-talking-to-people place.

But I haven’t told her I’m autistic yet.
Because I’ve only told a handful of people.
Because it is sort of still a processing-thinking-secret.

And it’s tricky too, because she is one of my friends from college, I guess, so I think she wants to hang out. And her program is so much less aggressively social than mine is. Or really, social at all. So I get my social fill up at school and at work because everyone is very friendly and talks and chats a lot (about fun stuff, too! Like science and food! So I enjoy it.) And then I want home to be a quiet place. But she comes home from school lonely because the people in her program don’t really talk much and wants to talk and hang out.

And I don’t want to be mean but I just need to hide.
And also sometimes she is really annoying a lot but I feel mean and petty when I say that, but really yes basically it is true.

But sometimes I am fine.

But I also don’t want to be mean and tell her I don’t actually like hanging out with her because that is mean and what if my friends told me that and are actually only pretending to like me because they are being nice, so I should be nice also. (And also because this lease is through August.) Or tell her that she is boring and talks to her family too much and too loudly. Badbadbadbad.

As soon as this lease is up, I am getting a new apartment. One where it is just me.

So that I can go in the kitchen when I come home tired and hungry. Where I don’t have to hide in my room when I need to eat. But now, I hide until I know it is safe to leave. And I can’t make food that takes a long time, even though I like cooking, because the kitchen isn’t safe. I have no snacks because I can’t make any. So I’ve been making meals at 1:00 after she is asleep and baking things then, because that is when I know it is safe.

Because right now my room is the only safe place. Because people might talk to me everywhere else (And by people, I mean my single solitary roommate.)

And it is a bad day-week-time-period, so I am NOT okay with that. But you aren’t ALLOWED to yell at people to GO AWAY DON’T TALK TO ME when it is also their kitchen.

And she has an unpredictable schedule so I never know when I am coming home if she is going to be there or not. So when I plan my evening on my walk home based on the usual pattern of her being at home or not being at home, and then I walk in the door and she is there when I thought I would be alone, it breaks. I just sink and escape to my room as soon as I can and stay hidden as long as I can.

I can’t know until I have checked out the apartment and the rooms if it is safe to finally be sad if I am sad or tired if I am tired. Because that is only safe if I am alone (or with a very few specific people that absolutely does not include roommate).

Going home is stressful because I have to escape through the apartment to get to safety. 
Everything is bad.
Sometimes it is ok, but right now everything is bad.
Life is overwhelming right now.

My panic chart

So the reason I wrote this was because I have a panic flowchart taped to the inside of my closet door.  (My roommate saw it and was being stupid about it.) It is big and beautiful (and now it is a lot more complete, because boyfriend helped me come up with a lot more things to add to it).

I haven’t actually panicked yet since I’ve had it completed (which is a GOOD thing, but hopefully I will find it helpful then). It even has steps for how to do things (because, for example, sometimes I know I am tired and need to go to sleep and can’t figure out how to. So it tells me.) The only problem is that it is a really giant piece of paper (it came in a box wrapped up around something) so it isn’t the most portable coping device. But I have a picture, and also now that I have the steps, I can memorize them.
Anyway, I’m super proud of it, so I am going to share it for everyone here.
this is a panic flowchart. It has all the things I am supposed to do when I panic. In a flowchart so that I can understand it.

Why does it matter?

TW: ableism stuff, probably?
Why does it matter if I need a checklist to remind me if I have showered yet today? Or if I have eaten or exercised or brushed my teeth?

How does it matter to you, an almost-stranger, a casual-acquaintance?

Or even those family members?

Why does it matter?

I still shower fairly regularly. I presume frequently enough so I don’t smell.
I brush my teeth before I leave because it is on my morning list. And I complete my morning list before I leave.

Having a list (Todoist!) means my morning routine CAN be interrupted and I can still get places at a reasonable time. Having a checklist means that I will still brush my teeth and take my meds even if my roommate is taking a shower when I wake up. I can make lunch instead, because it is on my morning list. And then when she is done, I can remember I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. And then go do it.

I didn’t need a check list before I went to college. I had a morning routine at home and there were enough bathrooms for the people awake in the morning (and I woke up and showered first anyway) that I got everything done in the same order.)

Wake up 30 seconds before the alarm goes off. My alarm is set to static on the lowest possible volume I can hear it from my bed. The alarm goes off at 6 am, turn off my alarm. Wake up my sister and then shower. Wash my hair one day and shave the next. Get dressed into uniform. I wake up sister again and make sure she is out of bed. It is now 6:07. Brush my teeth and feed the animals. Make lunch for school. Eat breakfast and read the whole newspaper cover to cover. Leave at 6:30am.

It was the same for 4 years, with only a few exceptions. The first 2 years, my sister was in elementary school so I didn’t wake her up. One year, we had 6 sheep and 2 pigs and 2 goats and chickens and bunnies and a horse, so feeding took a lot longer and I woke up at 5:30 instead.

But I had a routine and it worked.

And now I have a list.

Today I lost my car in a mall parking lot. Parking lots can be really big. And there were multiple parking lots by Sears. Boyfriend and I probably spent a good half hour driving around looking for my car.

I don’t have a list for parking my car.

I have NEVER remembered where I park. My friends know to remember for me.

(But that doesn’t help when I drive places alone.)

There’s also no reason to care about the fact that I have a giant PANIC flowchart taped to my closet door. It is not complete yet.

(This is largely because I can’t think of a solution if I am not tired or hungry. I am sure there is a solution. And also I am sure sometimes I panic for other reasons. I just can’t remember.)
People who live in the world, this flowchart makes your life better. Especially since you probably know me fairly well if you are looking at the inside of my closet door. But trust me. Having something that tells me what to do in a panic is a GOOD THING. You will like it. If you think it is silly, you probably have never had to find me sobbing in Walmart when I got lost there and my phone died and I couldn’t come up with a solution to find my friends. Or really dealt with any situation where I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO CALM DOWN. Because I need directions. And now I have (some) directions.
So going back to why does it matter?
Really, people?
It doesn’t matter.
And it really isn’t an concern of yours how I manage to get my teeth brushed and eat. And if I mention something about them being on a checklist, which sometimes happens from time to time, since I tend to check things off right away, well, that is perfectly all right, too.
And you better be ok with it.
Or if you aren’t, show it with subtle body language that I don’t understand at least, and then I won’t be offended or upset. But also, you are probably a jerk.

Thought you ought to know.