In the details and routines

Not everyone* is built for the story of adventures or super-mega-career-intensity told to us** that we should be doing (or maybe I’m spending too much time on the internet and not enough time around traditional old ladies who seem to tell people in stories and movies to settle down and this is a fake problem I’m creating for myself inside my head). Sometimes all we*** want is somewhere safe and familiar to base ourselves in. What is wrong with wanting to settle down? With wanting to put down roots and settle into comfortable routines of life? (Nothing. The answer is nothing.)
I was born too practical a person for reckless adventure. If I won a million dollars, even as a small child, my plan was to pay for my college education and then for my sisters. Now, I would add probably a house for myself and pay off my loans and my husband’s loans.**** I would never go vaguely off and adventuring. I’m not comfortable in new places (alone) or around new people. I like the familiar. I like knowing where my meals are going to come from next week and having all the ingredients and recipes for them prepared ahead of time. All these plans and routines make me HAPPY.
I’ve always been looking for reasonable solutions. There’s love in the details and negotiations of a slow and steady moving relationship. I have the letters saved from when my husband and I were dating and discussing if we wanted to take the next step (of kissing). It was slow and methodical and reasoned out. I can go back and look at them and while it first lets me know how young we both were, I can see the care and concern in each carefully typed letter I have folded into envelopes in the shoebox in my nightstand. There’s care and concern and thought put into these letters that have been outlines.
As we settle into routines of being married, it is safer and happier. The first week back was not as great, with jobs and schedules. There was a person in my place, where it had just been me and my dog before. And the dog listens to me (mostly) and doesn’t talk ever. I would come home from work to happy silence. I don’t like change, even when it’s ultimately good change.
But now as we have morning routines (more) figured out and are falling into patterns of life, it’s getting better and easier. Now that each moment of the day isn’t something new, there is time to think about the details of what is going on. Husbands will accommodate quirks that you can’t ask of roommates—I don’t like not knowing when people will be at my house. There’s love in the “at the bus stop” texts so that I have time to prepare. There’s love in the details when we count backwards to plan the timeline of a weekend day. Or in the weekly planning of meals where we trade each others dislikes to find meals we both will enjoy. Or in going through the Simpson’s episodes slowly, every few nights getting to one.

We are falling into patterns now and it’s comfortable and safe and good. Once you have a pattern and a base, then you can work towards something, because you are safe and can concentrate energy on doing things besides just surviving.

*aka me
**once again, maybe just me
***Pronouns are hard and I don’t like using first-person pronouns even when it is clearly appropriate.
****Also, now I know that a million dollars isn’t nearly as large of a sum of money as I thought, but I think I’d still be able to get a fair chunk of things out of the way. Or maybe the amount of money will increase in this hypothetical situation I am creating for myself.
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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.

Coming soon…Adventures in Apartment Living!

Hello world!

I am starting graduate school. I am moving to a city 2000 miles from home. I am living in an apartment with a roommate. There will be no “responsible adult” like an RA or a rector in charge of the building where I live because *gasp* I am apparently now a responsible adult.

(Yes, this is sort of scary. Yes, I did once have a full meltdown in a Walmart on spring break when I realized that the trip we were on was entirely planned by my friends and I and if something went wrong, WE would have to fix it because there weren’t any parents there or other adults who could swoop in with the answer. So…)

Also, you know, me and transitions… not always best friends.

So yes, this will be interesting.

Also, I probably will not be posting nearly as much as I have been since the re-start of this blog, when I’ve been mostly home with essentially endless free time.

So wish me luck and get excited to hear all about some new adventures and new people (but probably not new places, because where I am is a secret. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

To wonderful people at graduate school interviews

So, I previously mentioned that at one of my grad school interviews, I basically completely lost my ability to speak.

Grad school interviews are a whole weekend-long affair. You get flown out there, stay in hotels, and have a several-day mixture of formal interviews with faculty members, tours of the school, fun stuff, food, meetings with graduate students, and informal meetings with faculty. It can be fun, in parts. The food is usually delicious. It is tiring and stressful. It is a lot of dealing with people.

I was alright through the beginning of the interviews. Some awkwardness, but sometimes scientists are awkward people and I’m an awkward person, so that’s only to be expected occasionally. But my words worked, and I was able to explain my research, although I got more and more tired.

The moment my words stopped working and started heading down to complete non-verbal-ness was when I showed up for an interview, and the interviewer wasn’t there. It was a change. I didn’t melt down (which was very good). But I sat there. And I managed to find someone in her lab who told me there was a meeting. And I managed to wait. And I even managed to reschedule an interview later in the interview weekend (during the meeting, the next person to be interviewed also came and waited, so there were 2 at once).

(And I don’t really blame that professor. Because someone scheduled her to interview during regularly scheduled lab meetings. So I can see how the change in schedule would be forgotten (especially since there were two interview days), so it seems not-unreasonable to assume that the interviews were on the Friday, especially as they had been for the other interview weekends.)

But after that, I got really quiet.

I didn’t realize how much a change in schedule would affect me.

To the remaining faculty members who I had to interview with:

Most of you were so wonderful. You had someone in your offices who was just sitting there quietly. Who didn’t really have working words. Who had drawn out pictures of their research and diagrams, and whispered it to. Pointing out things.

You just asked if I wanted a cup of tea or anything else.

And sat and listened and watched. And then told me about your research, and asked me if I understood and accepted nods and shakes of the head as answers. And written out words as questions, which you then answered.

Thank you.

To the other students on the interview:

Other students on the interview, particularly that one boy whose name I have no idea of, thank you, too. You were so good at interpreting my gesturing. Thank you for giving me turns in conversation, and waiting for me to act something out and then guess it. Thank you for reading the words I wrote down in a notebook. Thank you for speaking for me, even though I had just met you. Even though you were on interview, too. Thank you for ordering for me at the restaurant when I pointed to what I wanted on the menu. Thank you for letting me follow you around quietly.

To all these wonderful people, thank you.

I didn’t understand what was happening. (I thought I was just prone to really-inconveniently timed bouts of other-symptom-free-laryngitis… not sure how plausible that actually is but it seemed a lot more reasonable than just NOT BEING ABLE TO SPEAK at that point in time). So I am sure you didn’t either.

But you were kind and accepting and talked to me normally and treated me normally. You helped me without making me feel inferior for not being able to talk. Thank you for including me.

(And yes, I didn’t get in. But it was very competitive, so who knows if I would have gotten in anyway. I know I did not do a good job necessarily of demonstrating how I would fit in your lab, or of demonstrating my knowledge. Also, all the people I interviewed with had such impressive research backgrounds. So it seemed reasonable to me.)

P.S. I wonder how this would have worked out if I knew about my autism already–had already had it as confirmed. I might have had a better way to communicate set up. (I am thinking I should get something ready in case this happens again, since it only seems to happen at really important times).

Losing my voice

Talking.

I haven’t always gotten along with talking.

I was pretty late to start, you see. Much much later than my cousin who was the same age. Almost late enough that my parents got the doctors concerned (but then my next sister was born and by the time she stopped being a big deal and exciting new baby, I had caught up enough (and they could always tell what I wanted, the problem was just that no one else paid as much attention to what my points and one syllable sounds meant. The theory my parents have is that eventually I had to start talking because they stopped having as much time to pay attention to me, since they had a second child to watch, as well.)

Later in kindergarten, I ended up in speech therapy. I was borderline of needing it, according to the district guidelines, but it was discordant enough with my other abilities they had it go ahead (although, I must have been bad for people to notice, since I went to catholic school, but had public school speech therapy (my school was small, which was one of the reasons my parents had me go).

But after that I was set. Well, I didn’t talk in public or to strangers or men, but that was just because I was shy. Other than that, I was set.

In high school, there were periods where I randomly would lose my ability to speak for an hour or so at a time. It always happened at school, as far as I could tell. It usually coincided with a cough, though, so I just thought maybe I had a tendency to get a strange variety of laryngitis that didn’t make me feel sick at all but just randomly would take over my vocal cords (I had an unusually strong immune system, so that wasn’t too implausible of an idea, since those speechless times tended to be clustered in time and only happened a few weeks a year).

This occasionally happened in college, too.

In high school, we had a public speaking class. If we said any filler words, “like” “um” and so on, we would get marbles thrown into a tin can. It was extremely loud. I used to be a decent public speaker (or at least not afraid of public speaking). It took me years before I was comfortable speaking in front of a crowd again (and then, it was only about my research). (It took even longer before I was able to speak on other topics in front of people. And giving speeches is relatively easy! You can know EVERYTHING you are going to say ahead of time. You can predict it all!)

And then it was time for grad school interviews. For those of you who don’t know, grad school interviews (at least in life sciences) are generally a weekend. They fly you out, have a social activity, a day of interviews, and a day of social activities. Except the social activities are also partially tests because they include dinners with professors and such. On the actual interview-interview part, you mostly talk about your past research and the professor talks about theirs and its often a lot of monologuing. Although sometimes they ask you weird questions.  It’s a lot of talking. It’s a lot of people. It’s a lot of new people and new faces (luckily, almost all the time they wear nametags, so I don’t need to stress out about faces. I’m good at remembering names. Names are words.) And also, usually 50-80% of people invited to interviews are admitted (they spent all that money flying you out, after all).

On one or two interview weekends, I just lost my ability to speak. And that was horrible. It had never happened for such a long period of time. For days I couldn’t speak. And I needed to more than ever. Because I needed to be interviewed. And explain my research. And show them I was a good candidate.

It came on slowly, though. At first, I could still whisper. So I had some interviews at the school whispering. By the end, I really could barely talk at all. So I drew pictures and words on my notebook and mostly listened to them talk about their research. It was strange and confusing and (most of all) inconvenient. (Oh why couldn’t I just wait 2 more days to lose my voice, thinking I was getting sick. Come on, immune system, you’re letting me down!)

The schools I lost my voice at were the ones I wanted to get in the most, and the ones I was most nervous about. They were also the only schools that split the interviews up into 2 seperate days.

I didn’t get into either of those schools. (I was surprised I even got an interview, just because those were “reach” schools, though, so it was ok).

I think it was a combination of factors. One was just that I didn’t normally talk that much. I would sometimes just not talk for a few days at school because there was nothing to say. So interview weekends, with the talking from the socializations and the interviews, were difficult on my voice already, just physically. I would generally get a slightly sore throat by the end of the day.

And I realize it must not have been completely laryngitis because when my mom picked me up after the last interview (because I was near home so I visited for a couple hours before the flight back to school) I could all of a sudden talk again. And I thought that was sort of weird that I managed to stop being sick so quickly (but hey, my immune system is weird?)

And then I got (semi) diagnosed with autism. And I read The Non-Verbal Fairy and some other stuff on the topic. And now I’m thinking that that might not have totally been due to some magical strain of laryngitis that selectively steals my voice away at inconvenient times while leaving the rest of me perfectly fine. (Maybe it’s the non-verbal fairy coming and borrowing my voice for a while.) Maybe this has something to do with my brain and autism.

And maybe it will happen again so maybe I should be prepared.

Meltdowns

Something I wrote a couple months ago, when I was planning on restarting this blog but didn’t quite have the time or technology to do so. It’s a bit short because I wrote it pretty soon after. (and had very limited technology with me).


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Today I had a meltdown in an airport in a foreign city. It was an early flight so I hadn’t really slept, I had been around people for days and they insisted I needed to repack my bag when it actually fit. And they pulled us out of the line so we ended up in the way back. And I yelled and jumped and started sobbing. And I stopped the yelling and such as soon as I could because airports are Places  You Must Behave In even if you are struggling. But they are also places that are hard to hide in (or take breaks) because there is often a time limit. So I cried for the whole line and the flight but kept together as much as I could because if you collapse on the ground crying, your friends might decide the many week Europe trip with you was a Bad Idea. And then maybe they will stop being your friends. Because Normal People should behave in airports and just repack their bags to fit (even if they already fit!).

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I don’t recommend flying on Ryanair for a stress-free experience. But this one was definitely the worst of all of them. But Ryanair was still ridiculously cheaper than any other option, including trains, so we ended up using it a lot. There were some benefits, as our bags were so tiny and light, they were not very difficult to carry.