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.

Autistic People and Imagination

When they say autistic people don’t have imagination and don’t engage in imaginative play, what do they mean? I knew I had imagination, and that was one of the biggest things holding me back from thinking I could be autistic, because that was something always stated and listed and formalized. Autistic people don’t have imagination.

I never really was into playing school or house, like other kids were (why would you be a grown-up when you could be a HORSE?). But I would play all sorts of imaginative games with my cousins and my sister and myself.

I played Orphan Kittens. We played all sorts of games with our stuffed animals and model horses. Admittedly, we often wrote out the scripts before and they were usually similar patterns that happened… but that is a trait common to children. (You notice it when you babysit or have younger siblings or really just encounter things like that).

We played Lord of the Rings and went on quests where grapefruits or a pomegranate were palantir. There was a game where we were princesses that also involved horses and we would switch roles between them back and forth. We also played a lot of complicated games involving chickens and occasionally my cousin’s goat which we were all afraid of, but those were not always imaginative games–I don’t really remember the point of them, so they are a bit irrelevant.

In 4th grade, I made snail houses and fairy houses and for one brief moment, I was a trendsetter when everyone else in 4th grade also made “fairy friends”. (Although I was a bit upset that they treated it as a game, because I at least half–probably more–believed in it). I played games where the swings were the way to outer space and the only way back was to go down the slides. I was good at coming up with games and stories, so as long as everyone else was still young enough to play stories and pretend at lunch, I had company. They grew out of it earlier, so I switched to books.

And I lived in stories and books (and still do) despite the best efforts of literature analysis to beat that love out of me. And I still half-live in a world of stories, although I read much less than my high school minimum of a book a day. (I have a lot more reading to do of other materials than I did in high school.) (Also, I don’t like going new places myself which is why I haven’t been yet to the [non-campus] library even though I love libraries.)

Anyway, on any given day, I’m about 80% sure I’m autistic and I’ve had official professional people agree with me, so I just wanted to summarize this to say that autistic people can be creative too and that is a silly requirement to say they can’t.

telling autistic

Some more choosing-a-lab/grad-school-struggles randomly and when that happens I am not very good at writing at paragraphs or capitalizing or even really going back and editing it but also because I am still sort of mush on this topic and ideas right now. So sorry about that because I know lack of capitalization and even also inconsistent capitalization and punctuation can be distressing to read to me at least so here’s a heads up that it is all sorta meltymushy.

one problem i’ve found that I have with autism
and why i don’t want to tell people
or can’t

because for the longest time i would read stories of kids with autism–because its almost always kids in the stories
and i thought it couldn’t be real
because they sounded just like me–a bit younger often, and with a tendency to be boys—and I was not a boy no way who knows what boys were up to or how I could related to them
so i thought most of it was a new made-up craze
that things were overconcerned and overpathologized when it was just people being people

of course
eventually i realized that actually in these stories these kids who couldn’t really have something Named, couldn’t really all be that different
because it was things I did
things my family did
things I didn’t think at all were unusual because they were woven into my everyday life

that these things were not actual Things That Everyone Does
but rather, unusually unique to me and occasionally family members
and this group of autistic

I would keep reading the stories before I realized
because I recognized something similar
but also reading them trying to figure out what exactly it was that made these kids different

sometimes jealous of the more-overtly-things that meant they didn’t have to talk to people
or somehow were allowed to do things in public I knew that were not allowed but they were ok for them
not knowing how amazingly lucky and accepting my life had been–which is probably one big WHY that no one noticed things about me

and now i’m struggling with some things in school
contemplating telling people to see if that would help
—by people i mean official school people—
(although i don’t know who i would tell since i am not even in a lab)
but I’m afraid they won’t believe me

because just like my family was slow to believe when i told (some of) them
because it was just things that everyone did
i live in a world of science and scientists
and a lot a lot a lot of the things I do are not all that uncommon–at least compared to the general population
there is at least one professor who I am almost positive (upwards of 90%) is autistic too
and there are others with hints
and so i feel like it would be less believed
because the straits stand out less–which is sometimes good
but makes asking for help harder

—well, that and the fact that I don’t have any actual official paperwork of any sort saying i was autistic. probably a flaw at that time that i should have predicted coming up in the future

maybe when i get in a lab officially
i will eventually tell that PI
and help figure out solutions

In general, i’m not very good at telling people
i’ve told one person who asked directly
i have told 2 close friends
i told boyfriend

i wish people would ask directly
that is why i didn’t even tell the therapist/pysch person
because it didn’t come up in any of the questions she asked me

but i think it is very rare that people will do that
it has only happened once

so i probably shouldn’t hope for that

Gateway friends

In high school, I had one best friend, L. We had all our classes together, except I took French and she took Spanish. We sat in the hallways studying together before school, we read books together at breaks and at lunch. When we hung out on weekends, we would hang out at her house (or sometimes at mine, but usually at hers). I had other friends, too, but I never hung out with them without L. It just wasn’t and interaction thing that I did.

On days that L. did not come to school (which was very rare, but happened a few times), I was completely lost. The times I knew she wasn’t going to be there (like college visits) were fine; I could plan ahead and bring books to read or work on math or read for class during breaks. I could find places to sit by myself instead of wandering to find her. When she was unexpectedly not there, I struggled. I would wander around and around, trying to find her. Even if it was after a class that I had that she was usually in, so I knew she wasn’t at school today, I still would look for her. I wouldn’t be sure what to do.

Then we graduated high school, and L. went to the Naval Academy, and then went to (is in) med school and got married (last week!). She’s always been bad at non-in-person-communication, so we see each other a few times a year, and I send lots of emails, but that’s all. It’s great to see her, but she isn’t the friend that I center my life around anymore, because our lives are so different.

In college, I had another friend. We actually were acquaintances in high school, in the small group of girls that took all the same AP classes. C and I both majored in the same thing. Almost all of the friends I met in college (with boyfriend being a notable exception), I met through her. Including two other girls that I became almost as close of friends with. They answered my questions and were in many of my classes with me. They were lab partners and fellow TAs. I always had one of them to rely on in pretty much any social situation I was in. They were the friends I went on the Disneyworld trip which was my first big traveling-without-adults-trip and were safe when I melted down in Walmart. C. was my friend with whom I travelled through Europe for 6 weeks.

C. is much better at internetting than L, so we do talk really frequently. There is pretty much a constant thread of communication going. (I talk to the other girls frequently, too, but not quite as much.) But she isn’t physically here, she is no longer participating in basically all my interactions ever. I don’t have the same person (and set of persons) in all parts of my life.

I have always had one (or a small group of) close friend(s) who I did everything with. Social and school. I’m lost right now, without my gateway friend. I don’t have one to be safe. For me to follow around as I get used to the new social environment. To have in all my classes (I don’t really have anymore classes). To eat with and sit with and talk with. To be my buffer from the world.

Boyfriend does a lot of this, when he is able to. But he lives a 40 minute drive away right now. He has his own work and isn’t really integrated into this social group. They are friendly with him, just like C. and co were friendly to him. But he is usually not here.

I have to remember a few things. That I have only been here a year, and it took me a year to meet L. It took me a year before I was really close friends with C. That it isn’t fair to rely on one person to be a buffer between me and the world, to help me feel safe and facilitate social interactions. I find grad school weird because it is a combination of school and a job, it seems, where you sort of still have your main social circle being other students, though.

But I miss having one close friend who shared every part or almost every part of my day-to-day life. I miss having someone safe who is reliably around at school and at social activities.

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.

Fear and anger

One of the things I am most afraid of is making other people upset or angry. This tends to be a problem. When other people are angry, even if I know it is not at me, I am afraid. Even if it is something completely unrelated to me. If my sister is mad at my parents for not letting her go out somewhere with her friends, I am afraid.

The more tired or stressed I become, the less capable I am of distinguishing between actual threats and perceived ones. So things that would just make me minorly uncomfortable, like someone complaining about how their boss made them work over the weekend, or even things that on a good day wouldn’t upset me at all, like complaining about failed experiments, will make me afraid. And then I want to run and hide.

But of course, I can’t hide under my desk at work.

For several reasons.

Partially, the floor is disgusting.
Also, I know that if people saw me hiding, then they would be concerned and ask if I was ok. And that would lead to more human interaction when I do not want it.

When I am especially afraid, all questions are a threat.

I used to tell my parents to “Stop yelling” when they were saying things, without even a raised voice, when I knew that there was something wrong, maybe I was in trouble or a sister was in trouble. There’s something I don’t quite have the word for still. It isn’t yelling, because it doesn’t require a raised voice. It’s a-something-is-wrong voice and it makes me afraid, even though I know I should be safe.

I don’t know why I have this fear. I am not afraid of my parents. They did not unfairly punish me. Usually, they were pretty explicit about what I had done wrong and why it was not ok and what was going to happen as a result. The reasons were pretty explicit reasons, usually safety related or you-aren’t-allowed-to-hit-your-sister related. And the results were usually pretty reasonable punishments like apologizing to my sisters or going to my room to calm down or extra chores to make up for creating an unreasonable mess. There is no clear reason why I should have this fear of conflict.

I think part of the reason I am afraid is because I am never sure WHAT is wrong. Is it anger or tiredness or frustration? Even with boyfriend, even with my family, I can’t pick up on tired versus angry. It makes behavior unpredictable.

And lack of predictability is frightening.

And if I can’t handle the possibility that someone I know and trust and love might be upset, then when it is someone I don’t know, it can be especially terrifying. This is one reason why I try to stay away from all the activism and issues and current events and internet things that are always going on. Because I can’t handle them and they make me want to hide.

And that is maybe ok, to only float around the edges and contribute my personal stories. To share bits of happiness and some struggles. I should be good at floating around the edges by now. I’ve done it my whole life.

Because it is maybe ok to prioritize being safe and feeling safe.

Blogging Belonging

Dear Autistic friends,

You are all wonderful.
Thank you so much for making a place I fit in.
I love the internet.

I’ve usually had some places where I’ve felt like I’ve fit in. I am from a very close extended family, where most of the cousins are within a five or so year age range. And there’s a fair number of us, and we’re pretty strange (#MySemiAutisticFamily is what boyfriend calls it to differentiate from the other very normal apparently side of the family). We all grouped together and played the strange games kids come up with when they have little adult supervision (or think they have, anyway. Our parents were pretty sneaky.) So I’ve always felt like I’ve belonged with these cousins.

But eventually you enter the real world, where you sometimes (or closer to almost-always) have to interact with people that you are not related to. And that is when I started to realize that things were different. And as my cousins have grown up, and dispersed to different jobs and countries and medical schools and places without reliable internet, and developed lives outside of family, it becomes more and more necessary to talk to people you are not related to.

But the great thing about cousins* is that even when you haven’t seen each other in months or years, once you put yourselves together again, it is just the same as the last time you spent a week straight together hiking and going to Trader Joe’s.

And as my life grew less and less structured, and I had to spend more and more time away from family, as I moved into high school and college, as I had more and more responsibilities and more and more interactions and more and more strangers, I got more and more alone. I started to realize that I was different. And that it wasn’t always the good different (I always knew I was better than a lot of people at math for instance). I started to realize that things that were incredibly difficult for me were sometimes things didn’t even realize they had to do.

I got more and more lost.

Even though I made some amazing friends, there was still something missing. My other friends seemed to like each other more, because they were always hanging out (eventually I learned the formula for initiating hanging out, unfortunately just in time for graduation).

And then I figured out (or started to figure out) this whole autism thing. And it’s like finding a whole new branch of cousins. People who understand me, who have the same stories and history. Even though there are so many ways and differences in life and life circumstances. There was still the sense of almost easy familiarity that I have with my cousins.

And it has made my life better. I still have struggles, but I have a place of belonging. I have a place with answers. A whole new place to turn for advice.

So,

Internet people, thank you.
Thank you for being here and being there and being so similar.

Blogs are weird things, where we share secrets with the whole world and make friends with strangers that we have never seen, who know things about us maybe even our closest friends don’t know. I was initially skeptical.

Thank you to E. at The Third Glance, where I first realized I could be autistic because I could see myself in almost everything she wrote. When I first realized that there might be a category for my different, that maybe it was an actual difference, not just a character flaw.Thank you to autisticook for adding me to her list of autistic bloggers. That was AMAZINGLY INCREDIBLE  Because it was belonging and sort of the first confirmation that other people acknowledged me as autistic. That I could join the internet community. Thank your Nattily at Notes on Crazy for all her helpful app knowledge and suggestions and helpful hints to make life better.

And there are so many other people.

So many amazing people.

And fitting in and talking and community and happiness.

Thank you, semi-strangers that I met on the internet.

You are amazing and you have made my life so much better.

Sincerely,
Alana

~~~
* I want to make it clear here that this is probably not actually a generalizeable statement. It is really refering specifically to my cousins, although I do know other people who also have this experience.

Stories and science

When asked what she wanted do with her life, my cousin said she wanted to help people tell her stories. She loves stories. She wants a job where she can help more stories get out into the world. She’s thinking of maybe trying to get in job in publishing or some sort of media. 

My world is made of stories. Stories that piece together things from before I have memories and from before I was around to make memories. Stories of my family, of my parents, of my grandparents. Stories from distant lands and stories from nearby.

I consumed them wholeheartedly, indiscriminately. All types of stories were open to me. Space travel and magic and dragons. Talking animals and every day people just living their life. Articles in the newspaper, National Geographic, the Economist, Time. Before school every day in middle school, I read the newspaper cover to cover.

Any world, any stories, I would read.

Then I got to high school, and something happened to the stories. It wasn’t enough anymore to know the stories. To learn and to love and look at the details. To play with the beautiful words. To go explore new worlds and new people. They had to be analyzed.

And while analysis can fully and properly improve the stories, it can be a killer of stories. Analysis can tie things together and can reveal the strings. It can reveal hidden patterns. It can clarify. But mostly it destroyed the stories.

It had to be written, and the way it had to be written was so that you presented options as facts. And that was misleading and incorrect. And lies. And I was not prepared to write lies.

And the way I saw stories, the way the colors and the feelings and thought and ideas and the way the stories all played out in my mind, the logical connections which could not be explained in words, but just were, the same way that the sky is blue (and how most people know this, but they also can’t explain it), the way the stories all connected, were wrong. If they couldn’t be stated as fact in words in double-spaced Times New Roman size 12 font in essay with 1 inch margins, they were wrong. If I couldn’t state ideas as fact, opinions as fact, undoing the years we spent learning the differences, the ideas of logical discourse, then it was wrong.

The first paper I wrote about how mockingbirds kill other birds children failed because the facts were deemed wrong. It didn’t matter that I’d seen it happen, that it was something I’ve known all my life, that I was probably the only person in that classroom who could could pick out a mockingbird, who knew where they nested. The idea that something I had known all my life was not common knowledge failed me. I cried the whole class I got that paper back, quietly at my desk, unwillingly because I was in public and this was not supposed to happen.

And so I began to push back from the stories. I had learned, and this lesson was reminded with every tear-filled night of screaming that I wouldn’t write lies every time a paper was due, with my mother trying to explain that it wasn’t lies. But I knew the difference. I would not state opinion as fact. There is a difference and I would respect it.

English class, which was full of stories, stories that I adored, which made my life worthwhile, began to be my least favorite, my most disliked. Because it was illogical, and I was expected to know this illogical approach, and accept it and learn it. Stories were no longer safe. The girl who still read at least a book everyday no longer looked forward to a class dedicated to stories.

And so I began to specialize.

And there were science classes. Real honest science classes. And they were precise. It never asked you to lie. You suggested things and supported hypotheses. Data indicated that something happened. Nothing could be proved. It was exact and honest.

I was finally in a math class where I learned something new. It still moved rather slowly, with lots of reviewing, but there were proofs and beautiful fun patterns and numbers. And the beauty of math was that it could be proved. It could fit perfectly in the boxes. Everything was clearly stated and it was honest.

And so I pulled away from the lies that were expected of me in English, but never from the stories.  would still read and reread complete books daily. The stories were honest, the analysis was not.

Science gave me a new family of stories to study. It gave me a process for finding stories about the universe. Those strange, beautiful, unimagineable stories of how we were formed and how we work. The world is built on stories. I always knew the world was built on stories.

The stories in books are still there. I still consume them lovingly and copiously, and now that I have left all formal education that requires me to analyze literature, they are free. They are beautiful. But the world also has stories, beautiful strange amazing stories. Connecting and ideas.  They let you see the strings and the connections. But the stories in people are hidden, and people are often not amenable to processes designed to reveal them. There is a secret code, a way to analyze there, written in a way I do not understand.

Science tells us so many amazing stories.

There is a sea anemone that lives upside down in the bottom of ice sheets. The genetic code is so incredibly conserved and you can swap genes between species and they are still functional. We know how many cells C. elegans has (959), and the lineage of each cell. Planarians can pretty much regenerate from anything. There’s that new paper floating around which I haven’t had time to look at in detail that claims you can create stem cells by bathing cells in acid. In the first twentyfour hours, a zebrafish goes from a single cell to a mini-fishy. Watch it. It’s incredible.

And there are so many more amazing stories out there.

And science comes with a process for uncovering more.

And that is why I am a scientist.

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.

More stories about school

TW: Bullying, or close-to-bullying mentions and descriptions. I hesitate to call it bullying because I’ve read what has happened to other people, and I feel like this is nowhere at all on the same order of magnitude. It also isn’t really about bullying, but there are probably bits of bully-like behavior discussed in it.

Also, this is basically what happens after my last post. All about high school this time. I suppose it is School part II.

High school was tricky, because it was so wonderful in so many ways. Compared to middle school, there were new people and so many other people who were interested in school. My high school had a good academic atmosphere and it wasn’t uncool to be smart. I had one good friend and several other people I ate lunch with. Most of the kids in my AP classes were pretty awesome, and even if I wasn’t friends with them and didn’t really hang out with them except in class, they would always tell me when we had tests that morning and about random fun things in life. And actually I am still friends with some of these people even though I wasn’t then (one of the other girls went to my college and we ended up being super good friends even though we didn’t really hang out in high school.)

There were also some strange, weird, bad parts though. There was change and long hours away from home. There were the required Peer Counseling group sessions and emotional retreat things where we were supposed to cry a lot. Or at least everyone else did. And while mostly everyone was nice to me, and talked to me, there were a few strange instances.

(I haven’t still figured out what I thought about high school enough to write all of it down in real sentences).

In high school, someone came and told me and my friend that she no longer wanted to be friends with us. That was just mostly confusing. It seemed a bit unnecessary… It was also awkward, since we carpooled.

Although I was told by my friend who was more aware of things than I was
(she told me sometime after freshman year of college)

that the other people we sat with
friends
lunch friends

social activities even

apparently they made fun of us too
to our faces no less
and I never noticed

and she did
but didn’t tell me because she thought I picked up on it
(it was obvious apparently)

I just thought I was funny
and that was why they were laughing

sometimes I was confused by why they were laughing
but sometimes people think of funny things in their mind and start laughing

apparently I didn’t know enough
about the world
about people
about boys
about sex
about parties
about drinking
about anything

(I knew enough about drinking. I knew that I have alcholism from every side of the family and so I bet iIam genetically predisposed to become addicted. There was no way I was drinking in high school.)

Not that I knew where these places that drinking went on were.

I did go to Prom senior year.

I took my friend’s younger brother.
He was one of 5 boys I talked to.
One of 3 I wasn’t related to.
The only one over the age of 10.
(It was loud and I stayed in the hallway most of the time that I could.)

I went to an all girls school and only talked about my classes.
But I had such lovely classes.

And now my friend is off to med school and I’m off to grad school.
And we have no more classes in common to talk about.
And she is still fun and I am still fun but I don’t know how to talk.

And people were nice to me in school.
Most people were nice to me in school.

Or friendly.

Why would people not be nice?

I was the “guardian angel of AP Biology.” I made 4 page double column typed study guides before every test and shared with everyone. I would always combine and compile whenever we needed class data…even, yes, if it involved phone calling. I would proofread and offer suggestions on any paper anyone wanted me to read. (I still do for some people I barely knew in high school, because they ask me to. And really, I love proofreading.) I was helpful.

I like being helpful.

I joined stage crew for school plays and helped run the lighting booth. That was a lot of fun (and the reason I know most of the words to Grease and Thoroughly Modern Millie).

I ran track senior year (but only because my sister did and I couldn’t go home anyway) and while I was absolutely horrendous, the coach was amazing.

I liked high school, overall.

It’s just a lot trickier to process because there were good bits and bad bits mixed in. And some things that I thought were good have been sneakily undermined. But I think I was generally happy while I was there. It was so much better than middle school.

And it was so much better than it could have been.