Take a deep breath

I remember when I really learned how to handle my emotions. As in, the point when I was able to figure out how not to burst into tears over a stubbed toe. Before, I was prone to bursting into tears at these (relatively) small things.While I would burst into tears at minor injuries, I knew that I shouldn’t be upset. I knew it was a small injury and not a big thing. I knew that it would stop hurting soon. I just couldn’t stop myself from crumpling and crying. But then at some point, it just clicked. I was able to take a deep breath and walk it off. And after a few seconds, the stubbed toe or the skinned knee didn’t hurt any more and I was fine.

Part of the reason I remember this so well is because it definitely didn’t really develop until I was in college.

I still don’t really know why or how this change happened. I just know that all of a sudden, I was able to take that deep breath and pause for a second with a stubbed toe. And really, once you can do that, it makes it hurt so much less.

But before that, every time that someone told me to calm down, it didn’t work. When people told me to take a deep breath, to walk things off, it did not make any sense. I literally could not comprehend what people were saying or how it made any sense. I just didn’t have the tools in my brain to take a breath and make things stop hurting.

Some things just take time. Some things just happen late. Some things will probably never happen.

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Shampoo Thief

Here follows an example of my problem solving abilities:

Freshman year of college, my mom and I flew out to my new school and supplied me with all the various things one needs when living in a dorm. I was all set-up and prepared with multiple toothbrushes in case I dropped one and soft blankets because those are the best and notebooks for everything and lots of snacks. However, at some point in the semester, I ran out of shampoo and conditioner, as someone with relatively long and thick hair tends to do on a somewhat frequent basis.

The previous way in my life that this issue was dealt with was going into my parents’ bathroom and getting a new bottle from under the sink. Of course, this was not an option 2,000 miles away. I knew that theoretically people got shampoo by going to the store (although I was not super clear on what type of store sold shampoo besides Costco). But it was a Midwest winter and I was from Southern California. Also, I didn’t know how to get there and the only transportation I would have had was my feet.

So, the only logical answer was to become a shampoo thief until Christmas break, when I could resupply myself with shampoo.

Luckily, in our dorm, people kept their shower things in shower caddies on shelves right outside the shower. I was not brazen enough to grab an entire shower caddy and take it in the shower with me. Someone may have noticed that if I accidentally grabbed theirs. Nothing was labelled (and I didn’t know most of the people on my floor anyway, because faces). I did not have a plan for being confronted with stealing someone’s shampoo or any idea of what would happen if someone (accurately) accused me of that, especially since they would most likely catch me when I was clothed in only a towel, as I usually was immediately prior to showering.

The plan I came up with was much more complicated. I would only shower in the dead of night, when most other people are asleep. Since I lived in a dorm with a lot of other college students who also stayed up late, the dead of night meant at least 3 am. Then, mid-shower, I would sneak out to the shower caddies and grab a handful of shampoo and then dart back into the shower. (Later, I would repeat with conditioner). I would spread out my borrowing, so I wasn’t stealing only one person’s shampoo. I wouldn’t take anything from an almost-empty bottle (or anything that looked overly expensive). Since there is a lot of options of shampoo in the floor of an all-girls dorm, I never really used more than one or two showers worth of shampoo from anyone in the whole semester.

This was not the most comfortable way to shower, running in and out in the cold, in the middle of the night, but it was the only solution I could come up with. It also had the result of making me feel incredibly guilty every time I showered. It also made me rather tired, from staying up late a few nights a week in order to wash my hair.

Asking someone for help or advice literally never occurred to me. I could have asked boyfriend or other friends or my RA, who probably could have also figured out a solution or told me that I could buy shampoo with fake money at the store on campus that was literally visible from my dorm-room window. My mom literally asked me if I was washing my hair every time she called me and who I always answered yes and told the most recent time I had washed my hair (hiding the guilt of my stolen shampoo). If I told her I was running low on shampoo or had run out, I would have gotten more somehow, or at least directions on how to solve the problem.

Instead, you got my deepest darkest secret of freshmen year (I was not full of deep, dark secrets yet at that time in my life): the months I was a thief every time I showered. (Also, now that I’ve actually thought about this story, I find it amusing although I’d likely be just as impractical today).

Autistic Wedding Planning

Image is of an engagement ring with a blue stone. I have doodled around it and wrote the word plan underneath it.
Hi everyone! So there aren’t very many resources for planning a wedding if you are autistic. Like none. Google gives you pretty much nothing. And since I’m actively involved in this, it’s something I’m thinking about. And it was really becoming rather frustrating and leading to general panicky life issues. So I wrote a question/submission thing to a wedding planning website/other life things that I’m a big fan of just in general (like really, though, I like A Practical Wedding and actually was reading it for discussions of life stuff occasionally before I even started thinking about weddings… like years ago). And they also decided to print/answer it. (And also had helpful, specific answers to things I was individually concerned of.
So that’s pretty awesome. Anyway, if you want to read it…

Also, they were super cool in the editing process about changing things they wrote about “a person with autism” to “an autistic person” and also about changing the link for more general autism information from Autism Speaks to ASAN when I brought that up. So added points for that.

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.

Post-meds first thoughts

Right now, things are different. Partially because right now I have to deal with the politics part of science, which I am not a major fan of and which confuses me. But also, (and with what was probably not ending up as the best overall timing), we (doctor +me) discussed it and I got off my antidepressants. Oh, and also, as a heads up here, I am going to briefly mention various things that happened that lead to me being on antidepressants (mostly self-harm and suicidal thoughts).

***Oh, and also brains are weird and do strange things and I certainly don’t understnad them, and this is definitely just personal-me-rambling thoughts. Do whatever makes your brain happy and work. If antidepressants make your brain work, then by all means, keep taking them. I am not trying to say that you should stop taking them or try to stop taking them or that being on them is bad or only a phase or whatever. It is just that for me the side effects are starting to outweigh the benefits again.***

And it has been long enough that I have started to sort out the differences between the weird side effects that happen whenever I get on or off of medications and actually being off of medication. So I am sorting through my life and seeing what I have been up to now that I am *actually* off of meds. I want to stay off of them, if I can. I know they are good and useful and they helped me a lot. I know I needed them. I don’t think I still need them, but I am not positive. I’m sorting it out and working through it and discussing things with people and seeing the results and we are experimenting in how staying off of them is working, and then after a month, we will re-evaluate the decision.

Now that I am off them, everything seems realer. Things are less blunt and less dulled. Things were a lot flatter before. There’s more colors and layers to things. This is generally good. But it also means things can be sharper and things can hurt more. Because when I was on my meds, they were mostly sort of dulled off to the edge. My thoughts and senses and connections faded and separated out more. The world was more blurred, but that also made it softer and safer, and that was what I needed then.

But I like the world with the colors and the layers and the connections. I like how the world is now, how beautiful everything is. I had missed it, and I am glad it is back.

I haven’t noticed anything specifically or abnormally strange in things I am doing or thinking. I’m fine with the general things I know about related-to-depression things. I don’t want to hurt myself or kill myself. I don’t seem to be crying more than the normal amount or at unprompted things.

The only big thing I have noticed is that I think I was less stimmy before. And since I translate my emotions through what I am doing, it confuses me. I am not sure if I am happy or stressed or tired or frustrated. My movements are more and my movements are different. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. So I am a bit confused by this. I’m not sure why I am moving more or moving differently. So I can’t tell how this translates out. It isn’t always bad stimmy, but it certainly is more stimmy.

Stimmy stimmy stimmy stimmy stimmy.

I know I was more manageable on my meds.

But what does manageable mean? I’m not sure what I even mean by it, but I know the word I want is manageable. I don’t know if I meant more manageable for me or more manageable for other people. I just know that word belongs in this description. More manageable for me is good. More manageable for other people… not so good, necessarily.

I know I seemed more normal when I was on them, but I try not to have that be my goal. I try to have my goal to be to be happy and to make the world a slightly better place (or at least not a worse place) and to not hurt other people. And there are some career goals related to science thrown in there as well. But seeming normal is something I try not to have as a goal, because I don’t think it is something really attainable for a prolonged period of time, and I try not to have impossible or unattainable goals.

So that’s where I am at for now. We shall see how things go from here.

hows and whys

I have to choose a lab and that is no fun because they don’t really tell
you the hows or the whats or the whys and whenever I go to try and talk to
people, they just ask be questions. When what I am asking for isn’t the
questions but the process. What is the process for choosing a rotation. For
choosing a lab to work in. I would like a protocol. I would like some
directions other than “find a lab”. How do we find one? Once we have
identified one that we think we would like to join, how do we go about it.

They say go and talk to the faculty, but they don’t say what to talk about.
So I go in and talk and end up just as confused at the end with no specific
progress.

When I ask how to choose a lab, how to join a lab, they do not tell me.
They ask me questions that lead down a different path. I want to know how
to contact people. I want to know the how about it.

Even if I get the strength and spend days and days making the words and
walking around outside the building to prep before going in with explictly
said words “I would like to join your lab” it does not work. It doesn’t
come out… the words don’t want to listen at all. So I just sort of go
there and nod and murmur along and agree to all the things and say
everything is doing great and run quickly quickly quickly through the
little bit of the script I can still remember. And we end up more confused.
Both of us.

Once I tried to write it down on a post-it note I brought in.

Sometimes they ask me questions I haven’t prepared for and I have no answer
for and I scramble for them in bits and pieces and try to make words out of
things that aren’t words.

I know it is because there are multiple of us trying for the same lab and
there is so much that depends on it on funding and who to choose and what
to do but I do not know how to do it. I do not know the how.

And I’m terrified I’m too slow. I sort of already had one person tell me no
because I didn’t express interest and I don’t know how to show I can
express interest in a clear and obvious way. I know how to do it in the
ways my interest and happiness works. Although the lab I want to join was
the first, when I was less skilled at digging into the problems and hiding
in the data and building a home out of it. I’m afraid the other person or
people trying for this lab will win. Because they know the words and the
procedures and don’t seem to have to prep with words on a post-it note or
walk around and lie down in the grass afterwards to process and figure out.
And they know the words and the ways of people and all I have is the
long-ago memories of the brownies and blondies and other treats I brought
into lab in October November December.

Processing is not my strong point.
People is not my strong point.
Choosing is not my strong point.
Fighting is not my strong point.

Processing processing processing.

Why do I want to join your lab?

I know in the patterns. I know from the part of my brain that doesn’t think
in words. With the following of patterns. Where all the things come from
patterns. I can tell somehow. I know I was happy. I know I liked the work.
I don’t know the how the why the reasons, at least not in words. The part
of me that knows things like this doesn’t know in words, not always, and
there aren’t words or translations leftover.

But that’s not an adequate answer. That’s not a coherent explanation.
That’s not a convincing reason to choose me over someone else. If I can’t
articulate *why* I know, just that I know, it isn’t particularly helpful.

The hows and the whys and the words and the work and the reasons.

Sunglasses, I love you

I do not like the sun.

When I say this, after this ridiculously long Midwest winter, people look at me strangely.

“But you’re from California!”

That is very true. And I even like sunny weather. I like it being warm but not hot outside. I like it when it is not a ridiculous negative temperature. I lived a lovely life before I came here and learned all about wind chill and layers and that you can’t just look outside in the morning to figure out what the weather is going to be like that day and if you should bring a sweatshirt or not. I did enjoy living somewhere that it was never cold enough that closed-toed-shoes were necessary, where the warmest thing I owned was a sweatshirt. But that doesn’t mean I like sunlight.

You see, there is also shade in California. It is possible to enjoy the nice weather without being in the direct sun. For some reason, people seem to forget this fact.

For some reason, though, I did not discover how amazing sunglasses were earlier in life.

Despite what this picture may suggest, I did not wear sunglasses
particularly frequently. I was however, as you can tell, clearly a
very cool kid, as you can tell by both these sunglasses and
this lovely pose in front of the fireplace sometime in
 kindergarten-ish.

The reasons for this:
(1) My parents made us wear hats a lot if we were going to be outside for extended periods of times, like hiking.
(2) At the beach, most of the time I was underwater or in the process of going underwater. So the sunlight was a mere distraction. There were so many other things going on.
(3) The rest of the time, I would probably chill out in the shade.
(4) I wore glasses. I did not like contacts. It is sort of awkward to put sunglasses on over glasses.

(5) I did not own sunglasses anyway, and I was a relatively unobservant person. I also didn’t really hang out all that much with other people who wore sunglasses. Who does that, anyway? I guess if you are all outside? But most of my outside activities were either shade-capable-ones or too-active-for-sunglasses-ones.
(6) I thought sunglasses were something for adults.

I remember the sun bothering me earlier. I remember that I would close my eyes when we ran the mile in PE (which is really a bad move, especially when you are running around a block 4 times and not on a track, so there are impediments like palm trees and cracks in the sidewalks and people’s trashcans and sometimes people).

But then sometime late in college, I discovered I could wear sunglasses for things other than driving at sunrise and sunset. This happened because of free sunglasses. And because of lovely friends, who after hearing me complain about the sun being bright, suggested that I put on those free sunglasses. And it was pretty amazing. (Although I still have to carry my other glasses around, so sunglasses are still an awkward option). And that is how I started wearing sunglasses at the beach.

This year, I started experimenting with ways to avoid the sun when walking to work in the morning.

I have tested out sunglasses and a baseball hat. I think the winner will probably be BOTH, but I have not tested out that combination yet.

Baseball hats block the sun from the top and also keep my face from getting sunburnt, but they don’t block sun as well as sunglasses, but they block it differently. Also I can wear my normal glasses with them if I need to actually see for some reason (I don’t have very bad eyesight, but I like wearing my glasses.)

But sunglasses also have other advantages besides blocking the sun.
(1) They hide your eyes. They prevent people from using their magic eye-tracking powers to see exactly what you are looking at. I do not really understand how they can do this, but they do. So conversations with people outside are wonderful because you can look wherever you want to.
(2) They look super cool, right? All the cool kids are wearing sunglasses. (Sort of sarcasm…)
(3) They block things from blowing into your eyes (admittedly, my glasses do this too, especially since they are abnormally large, but my sunglasses are still slightly larger, so they do a slightly better job).

The only problem is that it requires taking stuff with me, which is something I would rather avoid. I like leaving all the stuff where it is safe and where it belongs in its spot. I do not like taking it out of its spot. But that is the point of stuff. To be used. So I will work on that, too.

Because sunglasses are pretty awesome. But they only work if they are on my face.

Some Easter Solutions

So for Thanksgiving, I went to Thanksgiving-holiday-celebrations with boyfriend’s family. And while it was fun, it was also overwhelming and completely drained and melted me down for much much longer than it should have been.

But, like I said before, boyfriend is important to me and his family is important to me. And they are physically close which is convenient for holidays (especially ones like Easter where I have to work the next day now that I am not at a Catholic school for the first time in my life). And I like them.

So I was glad when I was invited to Easter. And I was going to be prepared. I would handle the sound and take breaks and manage my overload-meltdown-awareness and everything would work out. And guess what? It actually did! There were mistakes and wrong turns and noises and surprises and I survived and enjoyed it.

Preperation

I was going to bring some sort of dessert, because I like baking and I was thoroughly trained to bring something whenever you visit. After musing over ideas for a while, I decided on carrot cake. But carrot cake was a no-go, when discussed with boyfriend. Apparently a large portion of his family is opposed to it. After some more thought, I remembered this beautiful Christmas dessert I made.

this is a plate of cream puffs covered in chocolate arranged in a tower on a wooden tableIt was not very difficult to make and very impressive looking. And also I really like cream puffs and chocolate and pastry cream, so it seemed like an all around good idea.  Of course, I had forgotten the fact that the old oven in my apartment is not nearly as reliable as the oven at my parents house. Even with the hanging thermometer I put inside so that I can roughly tell when things are finished preheating.

So I ended up with some very burnt cream puffs, from the first batch. (Like extremely burnt. Like they looked like charcoal briquettes. And sort of tasted like them, when I tried one in the vague hope that they had merely decided to darken without altering the flavor, or at least not in a way strong enough that I couldn’t hide it with chocolate. Alas, it was not to be.) And the second batch, which I took out in time, were not very puffy. So I didn’t bother making the cream, because it was only going to be for a few cream puffs, and that would be no good at all. Not enough dessert. Also, these cream puff adventures set the fire alarm off, and the windows in my apartment are very difficult to open (my roommate and I have to open them at the same time, because they either are very difficult to open or we are both very weak. It is probably a combination of both.)

So I went to my room and panicked a bit and was sad for a while. Then I got back to talking to some people (sadly not boyfriend, who was at Easter Vigil) and eventually one of my best friends, who is a baking machine (who makes all these wonderful delicious crazy dessert combinations that make me want to move to Colorado and be her general taste-tester) was kind enough to go through some basic easy things that I know how to make. So I settled on blondies, which are quick and delicious and reliable. 
One problem solved by asking for help.

The actual Easter dinner/family part

There were food and people. The same relatives I had met before/ enjoyed the company of. I actually preferred most of the food to Thanksgiving food. THERE WERE TWO TYPES OF MEAT! Also, boyfriend told me after Thanksgiving that I don’t have to eat everything and if I don’t like something it is ok not to finish it, so I didn’t have to spend any time trying to force myself to eat things that I strongly dislike AKA green beans while forcing my face to be a polite face (I’ve always assumed that I am able to decently maintain one, anyway.)
There were times where the conversations before lunch/dinner got too heated for me. There was an especially passionate discussion about college football players unionizing. I took breaks during those. I would go upstairs from the basement or out into the backyard. I spent a lot of time over this Easter sitting in the backyard or walking in circle around the house barefoot in the lawn. Spinning and flapping my arms. Watching the birds or the neighbor’s cat. It helped that it was deliciously warm outside and empty.
After a while, I would go back in (or I was called in when it was time to eat). I had milk with my dinner instead of wine like the adults, because I would much rather have milk. There were fun conversations with people I know well. After dinner we played board games. I really enjoy board games because they are a structured activity where you can still go outside them for conversations if you want, but they give you a structured starting point.
At several points, though, I was getting tired. Mostly of sitting in folding chairs. We spent a long time sitting around a table in chairs. After the meal, my family usually spreads out fairly quickly across the couches and the floors. I wanted to lie down or sit on the floor and that wasn’t happening. Other than that, things went well. I was tired, but mostly eaten-large-delicious-meal-tired not social-hangover-tired.
Problem solved by sensory and social breaks.

The drive home

So, I had already arranged to have boyfriend pick me up and drive me, even though it is a little out of his way, compared to him just going with his parents. I had reasoned that there was no way I would have been able to drive home safely after Thanksgiving. And certainly not with my roommate also there in the car. And boyfriend had offered to drive, so that was what we did.
Of course, there happened to be traffic. And boyfriend gets stressed by traffic (at least, I think he does). And so then I will pick up on it, or at least the Something Is Wrong part, and then be negatively affected. Especially after a long day, that can sometimes be enough to trigger meltdown. But I had managed myself well during the day, so I was able to deal with it. But then the road that we were going to take when we got off the highway was closed down by the police (because of a shooting). So we had to navigate a new way home. Luckily boyfriend has a smartphone, so we did have renaviagateable directions, but the part we had to navigate through was the not-safe part of the city between where I live and the highway. So it was a bit stressful. 
At the best of times, I am not good at giving directions. I get right and left mixed up a lot. Under pressure it gets much worse. And this wasn’t a particularly safe neighborhood (especially late at night), so we did want to minimize our wrong turns and circling-the-block-to-go-the-other-way type of navigation my family usually employs (which is assisted by our lack of navigational technology, admittedly). So that was a disaster.
BUT EVEN WITH ALL THAT, I WAS OK.
I was upset when we got out of the car, sure. And boyfriend walked me up to my apartment with my alcoholic root beer he bought me earlier in the week and we found a new way for him to get home (and researched why the police had blocked off that area, which was not reassuring at all) since the normal way he gets home was off-limits. But I calmed down enough for him to feel ok leaving, and then after half an hour of messing around on various electronic devices, I had pretty much calmed down completely. 
Problem solved by managing my resources during the rest of the day so I had enough left to deal with some unexpected problems.

The take-home message

I’m excited, guys! I used coping mechanisms today. And they worked so well. They made things so much more incredibly navigate-able and survivable. This is why it helps to know I am autistic. To know I need sensory breaks AND THAT THEY ARE OK. Because it lets me manage things I enjoy doing but that can be difficult.
Easter turned out so much better than Thanksgiving. 
Coping mechanisms can work!

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.

Flashbaaack to the past

Reflecting on my autistic growing up, even though I didn’t really know I was autistic then, and no one else really did either. Because I come from a strange family to begin with. These are both happy stories mostly to make up for the more depressing memories that showed up recently. But also because I am generally a happy person who has had a mostly happy life and I don’t want to deceive anyone into thinking otherwise. AND because I really like telling stories about things that have already happened.

My 16th birthday party was pretty awesome. I very thoroughly had forgotten about it, though. My youngest sister is turning 16 soon, though, so my mother brought it up in a conversation with me recently.

At this point in my life, I had two friends, which was really great. (A major improvement over the last couple of years before that, so I was happy.)

I invited my friends over.

For my 16th birthday, we looked up words in the dictionary and solved logic puzzles. Then we went to see Music & Lyrics. Then we came home and ate pie. Actually, we ate pie and cheesecake. Yes, we did get two different types of dessert for a three person party (and I only invited 2 people, so I wasn’t disappointed by lack of attendance or anything.) It was a lemon meringue pie and a kahlua cheesecake from Marie Callendar’s. (The desserts I had for my birthday every year.*) I think they got picked up after that and went home, but I’m not too clear on those details. It was a long time ago, you see.

This is very different than what either of my two sister’s birthday parties would have been like. Although, I am also more organized than either of my sisters, so I think I am the only one who will have had a 16th birthday party, which I am amused by, because I am hands-down the least social of us all.

(If my youngest sister had a 16th birthday party, she would probably want to invite boys. Even the middle one wouldn’t have thought of that.)

But this was my kind of party.

Also, when I was 16, I realized how to hang out with my friends without going to football games. This also resulted in a MAJOR improvement in my social life.

Freshman year of high school, I had a vague idea that high school football games were a place where people would hang out. Sometimes people even asked me if I was going to the football game. So I went, with my father, and sat and watched the game.  I don’t really like football all that much. And I certainly didn’t then. (I’ve come to like football more because of the social aspects that college games have and also I may have been minorly brainwashed by school spirit into being slightly invested in the outcome of the game.)  And football games are loud.

Also, sitting next to your father who is totally way too much into this high school football game (and actually really about any sport because apparently he reads the local sports scores summary in the newspaper for every single sport for every single school in the entire (VERY DENSELY POPULATED COUNTY THAT WE LIVE IN) county, but not in a creepy way), is really not an effective way to socialize with your peers. I’m not really sure, still, where they are at high school football games, but they are generally not sitting next to my father.**

Sophomore year, I had updated this a bit and had actually made friends to meet a friend at the game (one of the two friends I invited to my party!) and then we would usually hang out at her house afterwards because she lived relatively close to where most of the games were.

The breakthough came when we realized that neither of us really liked football games so we could skip that step of hanging out and just go straight to someone’s house where we could hang out and make cookies and read separate books in the same room  and stuff that friends do like that. And talk about AP Biology, because that was really what I did.

Trouble with initiating social activities.

That’s a thing.

~~~
*For some reason, I always was allowed to get 2, while my sisters only got one cake. I think it was because I wanted lemon meringue but my mother didn’t like lemon meringue, so she got a cheesecake because she liked that. (And I did, too.) It was ok, because only my dad and I liked the lemon meringue (in my family), so I could eat both for a while, then just lemon meringue and I would have leftover birthday cake for a long time.
**Although surprisingly, sometimes they actually are, because my dad is a “cool dad”, but for real, but that makes it a lot more complicated, so we shall ignore this for now.