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easton winter

 

I don’t mind winter as much as some people do.  The cold really doesn’t get to me that bad, but I do get wigged out by the dark.  Dark when I wake up (but then again, it’s always dark when I get up, usually between 4:15 and 4:30,) dark when I go to work, dark when I get home.  The only time I see daylight is on the weekends between November and April, and that is depressing.

November 17th is quite early for a first significant snow in beautiful Central Ohio.  Usually the greater Columbus area is spared from the White Death until at least mid-December, because we sit in a valley and most of the weather goes either north or south of us, but not this time.   We got about 4″ of snow, which isn’t as bad as further north, but it’s not typical this early.  It doesn’t break my heart that we miss most of the epic snowfalls that occur in Northeast Ohio.  Cleveland can have it.

vintage-ads-disease

Just another public service announcement from the 1940′s.

Wrap that rascal, bub!

I have to wonder about the state of this crazy assed world.  I still wonder why they let school buses stop on the major thoroughfares during rush hour when there are parking lots close by where the buses can pull in and pick up kids without a.) stopping traffic, and b.) endangering kids by having them wander out close to the major thoroughfares.  I don’t see where stopping traffic for miles is a time saver for anyone.

school bus

I do remember that when I was a little kid and had to ride the bus that the bus driver set the rules. Period.  I had no problems at all while I was on the bus. My problems with riding the bus were before the bus got there and after the bus left.  That’s when I ended up either head first in the bushes or head first in the trash barrel. When I was on the bus and in my place in the geeky-nerd-kid-with-thick-glasses-and-bad-clothes-seat- directly behind the driver- I was fine.   Big John was the driver, and he didn’t take any crap from any kids.  If you misbehaved on Big John’s bus, you got thrown off. Literally.  As far as I was concerned, the seat behind the driver was the Safest Seat, and the one I took every time.  I wasn’t going to have any conflict with Big John.

head first

One morning two of the older boys, neither of whom were terribly bright, and both of whom were known trouble makers, decided to sit in the very back seat of the bus and fire up their Marlboros.  This was a highly unwise move.  I no sooner smelled a faint whiff of smoke than Big John slammed the brakes, flipped down the aisle, opened the back door and tossed both boys right out the back of the bus.  Then Big John turned around and addressed the remaining kids on the bus with, “You smoke on my bus, I throw you out.  Get it?”

bad smoker

Go take your cigs anywhere but Big John’s bus.

Today that would be a lawsuit. Someone today would stir up some kind of horse shit about the two boys being learning disabled (they were, but even they had enough upstairs to understand the bus rules) and therefore completely unaccountable for their actions.   Back then, whether you were in the LD class or not, there were consequences for breaking the rules.  Those two boys, to my knowledge, never rode Big John’s bus again.

throw rubbish

But I think it is perfectly OK to throw miscreant boys off the bus for lighting up a smoke.

That was a much simpler world.

Now the rest of society is stuck having to pander to this or that special condition or bullshit excuse as to why person X doesn’t have to adhere to the rules that are applicable to everyone else.

I know I’m not “normal” or anywhere close to it.  I’ve always known that.  I’ve also discovered that it’s on me to adjust.  I’m not the one running the train, or the one ringing the bell.

If I have a dietary restriction, then I need to bring my own meals, or make do with the available edibles.  Being diabetic I am well aware of that.  Either I bring suitable comestibles or adjust my dining experience accordingly.  If I know my friends don’t have diet soda, for example, then I’ll either a.) bring my own, or b.) drink plain water or black coffee.  I’m not going to pitch a fit because someone didn’t make an exception to accommodate my need for sugar free drinks.  I don’t expect people to go out of their way to have Tab or Diet Dr. Pepper just for me.  The same principle goes for people with dietary sensitivities or allergies.  If you know it will kill you to eat peanuts, then don’t go diving into the cookies and desserts unless you know ahead of time what’s in them- or bring your own peanut-free ones.

killer peanuts

Just don’t eat it if you know it might kill you.

I know I’ve gone on and on about the entitlement mentality, and the whole concept of special privileges for the mollycoddled few, and it really pisses me off. Now I get to deal with parents with young kids who think that other people should do their work for them while they stay home with their kids and get paid to do it.  What makes their kids more special than my son?  The kid I had to leave with a sitter (on my dime, of course) or in daycare for 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week (or more) from the age of 8 weeks until he was about 13 (unless he was in school), because I had to work?  I’m sorry, but that torques me. Why are your child care issues my problem?  Either stay at home with your kid and suck it up, or do what everyone else had to do- put your kid in daycare and drag your ass to work. You can’t have it both ways.  I sure didn’t.  And I’m not (willingly) going to cover for you.

Child Care

So, if you’ve decided to breast feed until the kid hits puberty, sorry about your luck.

Unless you are independently wealthy, that is.

winter-scene-john-junek

I loved you the best that I was able.  I could never be the fawning admirer you wanted.  I could not bring myself to that depth of surrender.  I am not good at putting up faςades.  I wasn’t really made for maudlin sentiment or to shower forth vapid praise.

I became jaded and pragmatic and utilitarian out of practicality and necessity.  Living in the embers of unrequited love is just too bitter if you hold on to baseless optimism.  Some things are once in a lifetime offers, and once that flower blooms and fades it’s gone forever.

Even so, I remember.  I remember in vivid, living, breathing color.  I remember all too much and all too well beneath the banality of day to day, in my raw core, beneath the faςades I have to maintain. We were for a moment lost in that timeless, breathless universe of two, where time stopped and for a moment there was only you and me.  This we cannot deny, and I cannot forget.

I remember the intensity, the passion, and the fire.  I know you remember too.  I walk through your dreams. I’m there when you least expect me, a reminder of what was, what could have been, and what will never be.

backward swimsuit

 

Middle age has its distinct disadvantages, but there are some distinct advantages to be had for the cougar/geezer set that most people don’t think about.

 

1. No one asks (begs, coerces, etc.) you to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  This is a very beautiful thing, considering the last time I had to do that was in 1993 , and I’m still pissed at my oldest sister for that outlay of cash and aggravation.

fugly dress

No, I’m NOT wearing that- or any other dress without sleeves.  Ever.

At my advanced age I don’t have to worry about it. Nobody in her right mind wants my freaky ass in her wedding pictures. My sisters are the only ones who didn’t let me decline the bridesmaid thing graciously. One has been married since 1993 (thank God because there is no amount of coercion that will make me do the bridesmaid thing again- ever) and the other is happily divorced.  Anyone else who makes that request, I can and will tell to go blow with impunity, but my friends pretty much know better than to ask.  I’ll gladly attend your wedding and even buy you crap, (or get you a Target gift card,) but that’s the extent of my involvement.

2. Aunt Flo doesn’t visit any more.  Not since the hysterectomy.  I couldn’t be more delighted with that.

 

coffee and boobs

Hot flashes suck- but I can wear white pants any time I want!

3. Older people have a certain amount of gravitas in dealings with the young and inexperienced.  I also have buff young college boys asking me if I need help with my groceries.  I don’t need help with my groceries, though it would be nice when I get home with them if Jerry didn’t disappear every time I’m unloading the car.

Young woman unpacking shopping bag in kitchen

I already brought in the cat litter, dog food, beer, (which I don’t drink) and 12 packs of pop.

Come to think of it, I don’t shit in the cat litter or eat the dog food either, but they don’t have thumbs.

Granted, nobody bothers to send me flowers but I have no idea what to do with them.  They sit on my desk for a few days, die, and then I throw them out.

ugly flowers

Just give me the cash.

Back in the day there was no such thing as political correctness in the clothing industry. We can all remember when fat boys’ clothes were called “Husky.”  I don’t think they have “Husky” sizes any more.

chubbies

Even Lane Bryant doesn’t use the “Chubby” word anymore, even when referring to size Extreme Lard Ass.

Imagine the politically correct furor that would ensue should any clothier use an ad like the one pictured above.  Stand back and watch the fireworks.  However, in the 1950′s virtually nobody was fat, so this ad would only apply to a handful of girls rather than most of them.

I say just make everything a one-size-fits-all mu-muu if your ass is that huge.

new ohio map

 

Frequently I am accused of either changing the subject or coming up with weird stuff out of the clear blue sky.   Of course the connections make sense to me, but my particular road map doesn’t have the freeways routed in the same places as yours.  I can get to the same places- some faster, some slower, depending upon what freeways I have available to ride.

Oh, cool, there is an I-69! But, why, oh why, is it in Indiana? In the middle of the flat cornfields?  Wonder how many of those signs have been stolen?  Then again, truckers are probably the only ones on that road, and those boys ain’t stoppin’.  Judging from the number of trucker bombs I see along I-270 (this is the Columbus outerbelt, where there are all kinds of exits and usable bathrooms) I can imagine the truckers out in BFE aren’t stopping for anything.

trucker bomb

This is not apple juice, Mountain Dew, or lemonade.  It’s PISS.

I am trying to curb the temptation to engage in a sort of mental victory dance regarding the Republican sweep of Tuesday’s midterm elections.  Obama is now muzzled to a degree, which is definitely a plus, but my worry is whether or not the newly elected Republicans will stand their ground and do what the American people want them to do, which is to stop Obama’s insanity.   Republicans should not in any way “cooperate” with the moonbats who are actively destroying this country with overregulation and over taxation. They should  close the borders immediately to illegal immigration, and end taxpayer funded payouts to illegals, as well as to terrorist harboring countries and the perennially lazy.  They must revitalize and strengthen our military, and put an end to insane political correctness.  We who voted for them have to hold their feet to the fire.  These affronts to the Constitution and to American people need to be addressed, rooted out, and corrected NOW.   Even so, as much as I loathe Obama and what he stands for, and much as I would love to see him rode out on a rail, now he sits as the ultimate poster child for “Why Not to Vote for Democrats.” At this point it would be better to let Obama ride out his term pretty much impotent and toothless and completely bonkers than to impeach him.   Hopefully the rancid taste Obama has left in this country’s mouth will extend to Hillary and Obama’s other moonbat crazy cronies in 2016.  I have a very strong hope that it will.

 

bad habits

I know I engage in sarcasm.  All the time. It’s one of the things that keeps me somewhat sane.  I am not politically correct.  I would not even consider myself to be particularly “nice.”  Most of the time, if I’m being overly nice, it’s because I hear my mother (sort of like a Jiminy Cricket) telling me I’m being rude, or that I’m staring again.

I know I’m not nice.  Neither is anyone else, should we all be honest about it.  That age-old human conflict of good vs. evil is always there, even when I pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done.”  “Thy will,” is very seldom “my will,” save for divine intervention.

Jiminy Cricket

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…

I know it was mean to let him keep on shoveling in the cat food, but it was funny.  And he wouldn’t have listened to me anyway.

I haven’t been trolling in the postmortem pics a whole lot lately, but I know how wildly popular old pictures of dead people are, as creepy as that is.  I had one sitting in my personal archives that I am still sort of wondering about:

obviously dead3

Let’s play “Spot the Dead Dude.”

I think they’re both dead, which makes this pic extra creepy.  Dude on the right is most certainly dead, or else he’s really, really stoned.  As you can see, he’s being propped up on one of those Keith Richards guitar stand type frames.  The dude on the left is a bit harder to determine.  If he’s not dead, he seems to be way too pleasant for standing that close to a dead dude.  Either that or he’s being held up by a broom handle stuck up his ass.  You decide.

 

 

indulgence

Shame on me for indulging my more banal impulses- in a way.

Have I mentioned that I’m no paragon of virtue?

devilwoman

I should be more worried about any number of more important things, including various and sundry deadly contagious diseases.  I’ve never had any respect, love, admiration or anything but animosity toward the current Squatter-in-Chief aka: Obama the Ebola King, (all Hail to the Thief, heh-heh) but now I’m convinced that Obama really does have nothing but malice toward the American people.  Why in the flying hell have we been allowing flights to come in from Ebola-harboring locales?  Why in the flying hell haven’t our borders been secured a LONG time ago?  If B.O. thinks he can executive-order his way through governance, one would think that creating a no-fly list would be a no brainer.  Then again, B.O. doesn’t have much of a brain- or his aim is to destroy this country.

obama-inept-and-corrupt

If his aim is to trash this country, he’s doing a damned fine job of it.  The sad thing is that he’s not alone in his efforts.

The more I stew and steam about Obama’s extreme ineptitude (malice?!) and those in collaboration with him the more I realize that there’s not a damned thing I can do about it.  I can wish in one hand and shit in the other and we all know which one will fill up first.  All I can do is vote the right way and hope that the lame-ass Secretary of State and Attorney General of Ohio (both supposedly Republicans) have done something to prevent the rampant voter fraud (that I witnessed with my own two eyeballs, but that they both swear up and down didn’t happen in 2012) from happening again.

big nutz

Now that rant’s over, so I can start on the trivialities.

Such as my current favorite cartoon, Brickleberry. This is classic.

It’s probably not a good thing that I find the concept of farts that smell like Christmas funny, but it could be worse.

Malloy

I shouldn’t be so nice.

Nor should I confuse “nice” with “moral” or “Christian.”

But sometimes I do.

I had three days of much desperately needed vacation (sanity!!!) time scheduled.  So with my luck, according to Murphy’s Law, one of my co-workers had to leave and will be out the rest of the week because his Dad died. There went my Brickleberry DVR marathon and road trip to points TBA.

Brickleberry-post

I could literally watch these episodes all day. And I was going to.

 

Granted, death sucks, and realistically, you can’t expect someone to care about work in that situation, but mustering up sympathy is pretty hard for me when I’m stuck covering for this same guy through his kid’s endless sports events and various other frequent bullshit call-offs. It’s like crying wolf.

This is how I feel about this guy:
Now you have a valid reason to be gone, but you blew both your vacation time and my patience a long time ago. Save the calling off and pawning off your work on me for real emergencies – and maybe I’d be more understanding when you have an actual crisis.  Your kid’s ball games and your conflicts with Time Warner and your cable boxes, and whatever other stupid shit you come up with to get out of work shouldn’t be my problem.  Then again, I am not the boss.  If I were, there would be no calling off for bullshit- if you wish to remain employed.  It’s simply not fair to everyone else.

frustrated-face

Technically, I could have went ahead and taken my vacation- but it would have put other people in a bad spot as well as giving me a first class ticket on the guilt train.

But there is a bright side. If I’d decided to go ahead and take my vacation time, I’d have been trying to escape from Jerry and his endless to-do lists, and pain in the ass micromanagement- all while feeling miserable that other people have to do what I should be doing anyway.  Even so, I’m screwed again.

It’s almost sort of sad when one is better off just staying at work.  Then again, it beats running Jerry’s errands.  I’ve not forgotten the 20 mile (one way) road trip to score him KFC in the middle of the night whilst in the middle of nowhere, WV.  If only I could just get paid for it, but not actually take vacation time, that would be moderately OK with me.  Unless of course, I can take an actual solitary vacation, which I don’t see happening.

I know, forgive and forget, and know that I’d have been strongarmed into forgoing any attempts at rest and solitude anyway, and it was better to volunteer for the inevitable.  It either makes me look “nice” or just affirms that I’d rather avoid conflict than stand my ground.  Either way, the outcome would have been the same.

PuppetShowAndSpinalTap01

 

For those not familiar with the wisdom of Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap, he claims that his particular Marshall amplifiers are better because they “go up to eleven.”  I guess I need that “little extra push over the cliff” myself.

marshall amps

For what it’s worth, Marshall amplifiers are both classic and choice, for both guitar and bass.  Back in the dark ages when I played bass, I had a 400 watt full stack that pretty much never got turned up past three.  That’s probably more of a commentary on the fact that I never got very far in the rock and roll endeavor than the quality of the amplifier.  I had the power to play in large venues- but not the opportunity.  Success in the performance business is based on a number of factors, and actual talent isn’t terribly high on the list.  Stage presence, one’s connections, and just being in the right place at the right time matter more than how well one can play or sing.

I have no stage presence, I am not well connected, and when my ship comes in it’s guaranteed I’ll be at the airport.  I am not going to claim that I am or was the best thing in the world since sliced bread either.  I was a decent singer and a pretty good bass player, but who cares when you are female and have the body of a mutant troll?  It worked for Angus Young, but he was both British and a dude.  For women in performance and music it’s a “damn, she looks fine, but can’t sing a note,” world out there- and the staircase matters more than what’s upstairs and/or what kind of voice projects from said staircase.  There are plenty of talented people out there that the world will never see or hear.  Cronyism and nepotism remain alive and well in many spheres, and a pretty face trumps a good voice, musical talent and/or a brain every time.  Vapid, marginally talented (or even no-talented) beauties have far better odds of success in this world than talented homely people, which partially explains the Kardashians.

kardashian_sisters

Pretty, but a combined IQ of 12.

Suffice to say that I don’t have the pretty face.   I let the rock and roll dream go when my son was born because I had to get down to reality sooner rather than later.  It’s fun but (with the exception of a very elite few) it doesn’t pay the bills.  It was a lot of work and time and money that I didn’t have to spend.

On a brighter note, the POMC bought his very first new car Saturday.  He went to the dark side a long time ago (he’s enamored of the Germans, even when I won’t drive anything unless it’s built by Toyota) so I wasn’t surprised by his choice.  After endless research, test drives, perusing online reviews and three hours going back and forth with the poor finance guy at the dealership, he bought a loaded out 2014 VW Jetta- diesel.

2014-volkswagen-jetta_2

Black on black, very conservative…but still the German performance thing.

 

I can’t blame him at all for wanting the fuel economy.  50MPG+ is enticing, even with the knowledge that maintenance on a diesel is both more frequent and more costly than on a gasoline car.  The car doesn’t sound like a diesel and doesn’t stink like a diesel, but my frame of reference on diesel cars goes back to the old VW Rabbits from the early ’80s that rattled to beat hell and stunk to holy high heaven.  Over all he ended up with most of the same features as my Corolla (including the obligatory manual transmission), only I have a bit better navi unit and I have automatic climate control.  He has a cute little sunglass holder over the rear view mirror and a bigger trunk. He also ended up with about a $7000 higher price tag than the Corolla- but he has a turbo and more low end torque, which means his car has more power.  Then again, when the German stuff fails it does so in a blaze of expensive and inconvenient glory.  The Japanese stuff doesn’t have quite the performance edge, but it’s generally more reliable and easier to maintain over time.

As I told him, it’s about trade offs.  For me the Corolla has plenty of power.  After all, I live in Ohio.  I usually see at least three cops every morning just driving the three miles from my house to the Y.  I can’t afford to speed.

 ~”Not one state of the fifty has the death penalty for speeding . . . although I’m not so sure about Ohio!”- Brock Yates

Cannonball-Yates-Brock-9780760316337

Not me.  Not in a little black Corolla.  Not ever.

So when he was finally done torturing the finance people at the dealership and he was satisfied that it was OK to sign, we made a little road trip in the diesel beast to try it out.  On the WV turnpike, of course.  I must say in this car’s favor that this was the only time I’ve been down the WV turnpike without being scared shitless from Charleston to Beckley.  Even at 70 MPH there’s no body roll whatsoever on those curves and grades.  I have not driven the WV turnpike in the Corolla for comparison (yet) but the Corolla did surprisingly well on I-40 in Tennessee and NC with similar grades, curves and speed limits.

He’s happy with what he got and I’m happy with what I got.  Different strokes for different folks.  Now if he’d been eyeballing a Kia or a Hyundai, Mommy and the POMC would have had to have a sit-down heart-to-heart regarding why we don’t buy shitty cars, but he knows better.  Way better.

hearts and flowers

I did draw hatchets, skulls and heavy metal band logos in my extensive high school boredom doodlings. This is why I know not to do it now.

When I get bored, I scribble and doodle.  Sometimes I do it in a more figurative sense- typing is so much faster than writing long hand, at least for me- but drawing can only really be done the old fashioned way, with pens and pencils and markers.

The psychologists and guidance counselors had a field day with me in middle school and high school because of my rather dark themed scribblings and doodlings. When your primary emotion is “terror,” the secondary is almost always “rage.”  (Repressed anger, anyone?- and this was decades before Columbine.)  I would buy plain notebooks (even better if they had a canvas finish) and then I would draw macabre scenes all over them in a variety of colors.  If the discussion went too slow or I got bored in class (pretty much every day) then I would write little snippets of prose or poetry along with whatever notes I was pretending to take inside the notebook.  I didn’t have the advantage of having a laptop or a tablet or a smart phone in school. I graduated in 1986, when the entire school had three computers, all of which had a cassette player serving as a hard drive.  By comparison, the Note 3 smart phone I have today would have been a supercomputer.

I should have learned my lesson regarding concealing incriminating evidence of my twisted thought life when I was in 8th grade. One of the boys decided to appropriate one of my more risqué notebooks and share its contents with the other boys.  This was Not a Good Thing.  The notebook got confiscated by a nosy teacher who wondered what the boys were laughing about.  I ended up in an extremely awkward and embarrassing meeting with the guidance counselor that led to  several months of camping out in the psychologist’s office every Tuesday afternoon.  Since my mother worked for the school system and knew every single one of the teachers and staff, the repercussions of that indiscretion really sucked.

I still kept my funky notebooks with the outlandish scribbles on them, but I was more careful about what I wrote in them in high school, just in case someone would dare to screw with them.  No one ever dared to.  In high school, I found that when I ended up with large friends, who took a special delight in beating the daylights out of people who screwed with me, that my confidential items remained that way.   I didn’t receive any unauthorized touching, spindling or mutilation to my person either, not after one unfortunate thug got her head shaved for spitting Skoal in my hair.  The Skoal Incident- which took place toward the end of my freshman year in high school- marked the end of many years of harassment and beatings from my cohorts in school.

cat fight

Some of my friends liked to fight.  I didn’t.  But by the time I had a car and smokes, I didn’t have to fight.

Granted, I was probably buying friends, (often with cigarettes) which isn’t a healthy thing to do, but it did save me from more than one ass-thumping, I’m sure.   I was in survival mode back then, and it was refreshing to be able to go to school without being dumped head-first into garbage cans, having my hair set on fire, or being shoved up the stairs.  The thought of being shoved up the stairs (concrete stairs with metal caps on the edges) makes my knee caps hurt even now.

Survival is what it is.

I probably shouldn’t have such a fascination for postmortem pics and/or the plight of the unfortunates of Walmart, but I do.

dead family

Pictures are expensive- sooooo- jump right on in there with the stiff!

really creepy dead kid

She doesn’t look terribly fresh, but then again, she’s DEAD.  How fast can the photographer get there on a horse?

The Victorians did pathos and high drama in a way that we just can’t stomach today, but as I’ve said before, back in the times before flush toilets and Clorox, death was in your living room.  Death was your bunkie in more ways than one.

Maybe I should consider it an improvement in my emotional health that my primary emotion is “fear” opposed to “terror.”  That might just be the mitigating effect of Prozac.  I’ve noticed that my secondary emotion- “rage” – has sort of settled into a pragmatic anger.  I try not to get angry unless that anger will do some good, but there are times when I just plain get pissed for no apparent reason.

I actually have some ivory tower time scheduled, although it seems sort of shitty that I have to schedule it in advance rather than just being able to drop off the planet for awhile, unannounced.  This time I hope Jerry leaves me alone for at least a day or two.  I could really use some peace and quiet with just Clara as company for a few days (months…yeah right) but I know Jerry too well.  If I go to the campground he will feel compelled to follow me so I can fetch beer and make trips into town for KFC and so forth.

chicken bucket

Man, that sounds good.

 

 

doing it wrong

You’re doing it wrong…

I can’t really portray myself as the “typical poster child” for people with autism.  Even after 10 years of knowing that my strange wiring has a name (whether you call it Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism or just plain Being Screwy,) I have a hard time wrapping my head around those descriptives.  I don’t want to be labeled, and I don’t want to use a label as an excuse.  I hate to admit weakness or vulnerability.  My standards are higher than that- but reality is what it is all the same.  I have to find ways to cope with the anxiety, the emotional disconnects, and the physical ineptitude that comes with the package.  Some days are better than others, but it does get a bit easier with age and time- and by being around those who tolerate my eccentricities.

Most people who know me aren’t really aware that I’m HFA, or have Asperger’s Syndrome, or whatever you want to call it.  I’m fine with that, because I have spent decades of my life trying to navigate and function in the “normal” world.  Most of the time I can play the “normal” role pretty well, and I’ve learned to either avoid the things that make me look awkward or find ways to deal with them.  I also blend into the scenery very well, and if I don’t want to be noticed, I’m not going to be.

albert-einstein-2

Many people associate autism spectrum disorders with the cognitively challenged or with “idiot savants.”  While one may be both cognitively challenged and autistic, one can be autistic and not cognitively challenged at all.  (Think Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison here, both brilliant innovators and thinkers who were most likely somewhere on the spectrum.)  People with high functioning autism can (and often) do things that the “normals” do-get educated, hold gainful employment, have and raise children, and integrate into the rest of society.   We might appear to be eccentric or odd or awkward, (and we might even fall down a lot,) but we can and do function.  My road map for getting around in this world looks a lot different than yours, but I can make it to the same destinations.  Sometimes I can get there faster, but other times I have to take the scenic route.  I have to navigate with the map I’ve been given, because it’s the only map I have.

Common knowledge paints a  bleak picture of autism- the non-verbal child rocking back and forth, unaware of the world around him or her, rather than the tech geek who might not be a huge fan of socializing but who can design and program and get lost in virtual worlds.  Sometimes society sees autism as the image of the “Rainman” character, or as the guy who can play Mozart from memory but can’t control his bowels.  The key here is that autism is a spectrum. Some people with autism have incredibly high IQs and extreme cognitive ability.  Others are more in the “normal” intelligence range, and some are profoundly mentally challenged.  No two people on the spectrum are alike.

All I can say to parents of an autistic child is that there is good life to be had past that diagnosis, and a lot of that good life is what you create it to be.  It’s not the end of the world, especially when you refuse to accept excuses and when you think outside the label.  In some ways I think my parents’ ignorance of autism worked in my favor, because I was not indulged, mollycoddled or otherwise given a pass on acquiring necessary life skills.  I was actually held to a higher standard in most things when compared with my “normal” sisters because I was a voracious reader, had a broad vocabulary, and was capable of academic achievement in many areas.

read all day

My parents didn’t know anything about autism, but they knew there were things wrong with me: I could read- anything and everything- before my second birthday, without any coaching or lessons.  They didn’t know about hyperlexia- and why should they, when hyperlexia affects 1 in about 50,000 children, and 75% of those are male. They were dealing with one in 200,000.  Hyperlexia is a condition exclusive to HFA children, which is another fact they had no way of knowing back in the early 1970s.

I was born in fragile health and had a litany of respiratory and other health problems in early childhood.  I was also born as the third child in as many years.  Too-close birth spacing, and poor health in infancy and early childhood are associated with an increased likelihood of autism spectrum disorders.  It probably didn’t help matters much that my oldest sister (who wasn’t quite three years old at the time) tried to suffocate me with a pillow the day I came home from the hospital.  (There are more than one reasons that my son is an only child.)

My parents knew my gross motor skills were abysmal, and even sent me to physical therapy for quite some time.  I have very poor balance, as well as severe myopia, and even with vision correction I still have a difficult time with visual-spatial tasks that involve gross motor skills.  I was eight years old before I could balance well enough to ride a bicycle.

kids_on_diamondback_bicycles

My parents knew I was deathly afraid of almost everything- a change in routine, strange people, flying insects, you name it, except for dogs.  Why I was so comfortable with dogs I’ll never know, but I’m still more comfortable with dogs than with people.

I was prone to panic attacks, and I was taunted and beaten daily by other children (especially my oldest sister) and pretty much was a basket case spaz most of the time- when I wasn’t buried in a book.  I had my obsessions with different and often unusual subjects- dogs, murder mysteries, rock and heavy metal music, classical music, all things automotive, and 20th century history.

Though there were bright spots, for the most part, between the anxiety and (later) depression, my childhood was scary as hell.

Deer-in-the-Headlights

 

Even though the tendency to live as a perpetual deer in the headlights becomes less and less marked as I age, anxiety and fear still dominate and define my emotional life.  That may sound bleak, but I am not a person who is dominated by emotions.   I am governed much more by what I think than by what I feel, which is probably the only reason why I can get out of bed in the morning and step out the door and function without completely freaking out.  I do have emotions, but they have to be filtered through and processed through my mind before I can deal with them.  Out of necessity this makes me a delayed reactor.  I can get through a loved one’s death and funeral and all that and not appear to be fazed by it- but a week or a month or even 20 years later the emotions pour out- some trigger or event or visual sets off the process and I find myself mourning a long ago passing or reliving a long ago trauma.  That sucks, but I don’t wear my emotions out for the world to see.  I have a hard enough time figuring them out for myself.

I don’t like being physically touched, especially without warning or by strangers.   I am not in any way a “hugger.”  I will hug when it is socially necessary, but I’m not going to be the one starting it, and the person I’m hugging better be an immediate family member or a very close friend.  My discomfort with physical contact might go back to my sisters and their friends’ constantly tormenting me because they knew if they did poke, prod, grab or otherwise contact my person that they would elicit a response.  I had a most overpowering and piercing scream that was loud, but not quite loud enough to overpower Mom turning the TV up all the way.

old lady tv

 

Having live, stinging insects thrown in my hair didn’t help alleviate my disdain of human contact either.  I’m not sure if my distaste for physical touch came first or if that distaste was created by the indignities of getting punched, slapped, stepped on and/or the challenge of removing live wasps from my hair without getting stung.   I had very long, very thick hair as a child, which made removing foreign objects from it challenging at best.  That’s part of the reason why my hair is cut short today.  It’s easier to color and it survives my early morning swimming much better too.  It’s worth the temporary distress every month or so to keep my hair short.  Even now, a routine hair cut or Dr. exam is not my idea of a good time, although I know both are harmless, temporary and necessary.

I have a difficult time with eye contact also.  In a way it’s good that I stopped wearing contacts a few years ago and I had to go back to glasses.  I never liked the coke bottle thick glasses I had to wear as a kid, but the glasses available today with the plastics aren’t nearly as funky looking.  Glasses give me a little something to hide behind.  I am awkward at best with eye contact because it does not come naturally for me.  Neither does body language.  I have to consciously think about those things and what  non-verbal messages I’m sending when I’m carrying on a conversation out in public.  I don’t always get it right.  I don’t get it right a lot of the time, even at my age.  “Normal” people get non-verbal communication instinctively, but it’s a mystery to me.  Non-verbals are one reason why I prefer to communicate in writing.  I am much more comfortable staying in the dimension of verbal language.

The Written Word

 

I love Cliff’s Notes.  Yes, I read the books too, but sometimes highlights are great as a refresher.  If I were to write a sort of user’s guide to dealing with me and not being too perplexed while doing so, the Cliff’s Notes version would go sort of like this:

If I’m not looking you in the eye, it’s probably because I forgot I needed to.

I trip and fall easily, so if you notice me hanging onto the rail, or avoiding activities that require balance and coordination, remember, my gross motor skills are rather poor.

Don’t touch me without fair warning- including lint picking and tag stuffing.  I would like to be enlightened that I have a tag sticking out, or dog hair on my sleeve, but please let me fix it or remove it.

Don’t be alarmed when I fall off the planet from time to time.  I don’t need to be connected to the rest of the world 24/7, and I do disengage from time to time to help preserve my sanity.

Don’t take offense when I take things literally.  I appreciate sarcasm as an art form, and I have a wicked twisted sense of humor, but please don’t intentionally make yourself hard to read. 

Remember that I’m very poor with non-verbal language, both sending and translating.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Don’t be surprised when I go down a different tangent.  My wiring is different, and sometimes I can associate completely bizarre and different things (that make perfect sense to me) but that don’t make sense to other people.

Please give me some respite from screaming kids, demanding people, and from constantly being “on stage.” I can cope with the “normals,” and I navigate better than I probably should in the “normal” world, but I am still a traveler, not a native.

My primary emotion is “fear.”  Thirty years ago it used to be “terror,” so this is improving, but still…thank God for Prozac.

pills

There’s a pill for that…maybe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newborn_human_child

I admit I’m biased in favor of life.  Especially when I hear of freaks like this.  I don’t have sympathy for women who treat their newborns like trash, (or their unborn children, for that matter) especially if they live in states that allow you to turn in a newborn at a hospital or fire station with no questions asked.  You might not want the kid, but someone else does.  More importantly, that kid deserves some sort of a chance.  There are millions of people who can’t have kids of their own for whatever reason who would be delighted to take your “unwanted” child in as their own.

All I can say to that is- unless she is profoundly mentally challenged, or suffering from an extreme mental illness- : selfish bitch.

aliciaenglert

So you were afraid your parents might think you’re a slut? I can almost understand that mentality from a 12 year old, but from someone who’s 23?  Besides, I’d rather my parents think I’m a slut than for them to discover that I’m an attempted murderer.

I was 22 when my son was born.  Yes I was (at the time) married to the sperm donor.  However, my son was not planned, and the timing was awkward at best.  Even so, it wasn’t a difficult choice- my son’s life and well-being took precedence over mine, and my son’s life and well-being definitely took precedence over my sorry excuse of an ex as well as said ex’s mother.  That’s a long story and I am not entirely without fault, but even as a rather emotionally impaired specimen, I have some sense of when to do what’s right rather than what appears to be expedient- or even logical.

I’m not even one of those people who is thrilled about being around kids.  One on one is OK, but not a whole gang of kids at one time.  I have no clue what a normal childhood is supposed to look like other than what I gleaned from the child development charts and so forth that I pored over in the hopes that my child might possibly turn out to be normal- or at least gainfully employed, and not a serial killer.   So far- and solely by the grace of God- my sorry parenting seems to have worked out.  He does have a job and as far as I know he hasn’t killed anyone.  As far as being normal, well, at least he is a good conversationalist, and he has good hygiene.  Then again, the same could be said of Ted Bundy, so you never know.

306418-ted-bundy

Ted looked normal, but then, sociopaths usually do.

Even though I could never categorize myself as a warm-and-fuzzy mommy, I tried.  My son, the precious only male child, did thank me for being a hard ass.  That was probably the most rewarding thing he has ever said to me. It’s easy to just capitulate and give your kids what they want and attempt to shelter them from anything that might bruise their precious, fragile self-esteem.  It’s hard to say no, to set boundaries, to instill a work ethic, and to adhere to certain moral absolutes, but your kid isn’t supposed to be your “buddy.”  Maybe when they’re adults, but not when they are still kids and are still discovering why shampooing one’s hair and brushing one’s teeth daily are essential, mandatory life practices.

brush teeth

Mandatory: not negotiable, and NOT optional!

Our current societal mentality is all about what’s comfortable, what’s easy and what’s disposable.  Raising a child is not comfortable, not easy, (not cheap either) and 23 years later, he still “needs mommy” but, thankfully, not in the same way he did as a toddler.  I don’t have to bathe him or change shitty diapers, which is definitely a plus.

I don’t think the Roe v. Wade decision did much to make people see that children are valuable, but as heinous as the idea of killing innocent children for convenience sake is, it’s a symptom of a larger, age old problem.

It’s all about the pervasive view that, “It’s all about me,”- the temptation of the Garden.  “I can have it all,” or as the serpent in the story tempts Eve- “you will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5)

German_Adam_and_Eve

It won’t make you God, but it will make your life a lot more complicated.

But isn’t hindsight 20/20?

Oh, yeah, we humans want to be our own gods. Believe that.  Call it “original sin,” or “the depravity of man,” but that desire is the root and the essence of what’s wrong with humanity and society, and we can’t fix that longing because that’s written into who we are.

I know even though I find certain human actions to be reprehensible, that I am every bit as much a sinner and a violator as anyone else.  I don’t have the authority to pass judgment on other people, and I don’t want that authority either.  I know all too well that I don’t have much empathy, and I don’t have a high tolerance for stupid behavior.  I will comment on the actions of others- and I do have the authority to condemn certain actions, even though I have no way of discerning the thought processes and motives behind those actions.

The only answer I have for that is: Kyrie elaison – God have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Have mercy on us all.

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