Pizza and Passwords

This is the kind of experience I mean when I say that I’m getting better at surfing the chaos.  Life gets chaotic and you have to cope and still make good decisions under duress.  My balance was better this time, I stood up on the board, I still wiped out, but somehow, when it was all done, I ended up standing on the beach in dry clothes.  

We tried to go to the Autism Family Pizza Night, but apparently, I forgot to note that all future meetings will be on the first Monday, not Wednesday.  Thank you, Darling man-o-mine for adding, “Oh yeah, I remember that.” AS we were at the restaurant where the support group obviously was not.  Oooh I wanted to bite him.  Grrrr.

I was able to laugh about it, and the evening wasn’t a complete bust.  We did promise the kids pizza, so we went to CiCi’s Pizza, as it’s about $30 cheaper than Beau Jo’s.  And I’ve finally discovered my favorite pizza there:  The Garlic Italiano Pizza on thin crust. Image

I was starving when we got there and ate too much of this pizza.  OMG all the edges were thin and crispy and everything tasted great.  No dessert, a plate of salad, and more of that pizza!  The kids had a good time, and they managed to chivvy a dollar each out of us for the dopey toys they have there.  By the time we left (on a school night) I was exhausted, and worked really hard to keep from slipping into a food coma in order to drive us home safely, while he snored softly next to me.  Grrrr. 

Told the kids to get ready for bed, and I ran up to the bathroom when we got home and was having a quiet moment, when I hear my Darling yell in a panic, “I lost it!  OMG I lost it.”  His flash drive wasn’t in his pocket anymore.  The flash drive with ALL of the passwords, security questions, account numbers, the whole shebang.  Red Alert!  Security Breach!!

What followed was a justifiable freak-out on his part, because that is a massive fuck up.  Accidental, but whoosh, he’s normally so calm and all together.  He called CiCi’s and asked them to look for it.  No luck.  He was convinced it had fallen out of his pocket when he took out that dollar, and he remembered that there was a big gap between the booth and wall where it could’ve fallen.

I ended up driving back down to CiCi’s while he sat and stewed at home with the kids.  I tore the place up and found no flash drive.  Nearly an hour later, I came back home and pulled up my copy of the important file in question and we both started canceling things and changing passwords.  I was NOT a happy camper.  Tired as I was, I was cranky and he was freaked out. 

Thank goodness for technology.  Even though technology created this problem, at least the technology of my laptop and cordless phone allowed me to work in a room away from him.  We tried sitting in the kitchen together on two computers, but he stressed me out and I was barely holding it together myself.  I made myself coffee, and went up to the office.  I’d change one and call him, discuss which one I was going to do next, then repeat. 

I finally got fed up about 1 am, and nearly had to forcibly drag him from his computer.  But we did get to bed.  Unfortunately, there was some electronic device that was obviously losing it’s charge in our bedroom.  I didn’t recognize the noise, I couldn’t find the thing, it kind of sounded like a phone, but who knows.  We were definitely too tired to find it and it softly beeped all night long every 7 minutes or so.  (I still haven’t figured out what this was.) 

He took time off the next morning so he could go to the bank with me, which I appreciated.  I got the kids ready for school, I got his lunch ready, then past the time we would normally leave to take him to work, I announced that I was going to make myself a bagel.  Made my Darling sigh.  TS I said.  I’m planning on being gone all day and I need some breakfast, too.  grrrr.  The irritation was still strong. 

We got to the bank, just before 8, to discover that the lobby didn’t open til 9, which is when he had to be at work.  The drive-thru can’t handle debit card replacement.  Grrrrr….that made me cry a bit.  He said, just drive!  Let’s see if there’s another branch open earlier. 

And I then pointed out that my brand-new-super-special iPhone doesn’t seem to be finding cellular data.  Which means I can’t search my map for other branches.  While he argues with me that I must just have something set wrong, I drive over to Starbucks to mooch some of their wi-fi.  (Can’t go in, as I have no debit card, no credit card, and very limited cash.) 

As I sat there, munching my bagel, I realized, “This is silly, while he talks to the bank on the phone I can come up with a new plan.  Go back to the bank, write a check for cash.  Take him to work early.  Get gas and move on with my day.”  I dug through my purse for my rarely used checkbook and discover that I have ONE check left.  “Hooray!  As long as I can fill out a check correctly, the plan should work!” 

I drove back to the bank, same parking lot, thankfully.  I went back to the drive up window, easily got some cash, I go to take the cash and my ID, and the wind caught my driver’s license and I drop it outside the car.  Grrrrrrr.   

I open my door, but it’s locked.  I have moderately old-school door locks on this car, you have to push the button to lock or unlock them, they don’t just open automatically.  So I unlock it, and the button doesn’t go up, the door remains locked.  I locked and unlocked them again.  Still stuck.  Thankfully, this wasn’t the first time it happened.  I had to turn off the car, take my keys out of the ignition, use the key fob to unlock, and the door magically opened.  Had to get completely out of the car to reach my ID, and I found like 4 pens that people had dropped.   

After experiencing this many irritations, in the past, I would’ve lost it at this point.  I quite possibly would have been stuck at the bank, crying at the drive up window, locked in my car, with a line behind me.  Obviously, I’ve evolved a bit.  I smiled and laughed, squeezed into that tight space, put the pens on the ledge at the window, started my car and drove away.  Granted, I didn’t get my money or ID put away right then, but I just wanted to get the heck outta there. 

He dealt with changing our tellerphone ID while talking to the bank and I drove him to work.  And he said, please come in and check around my cube to see if possibly I lost it at work.  (For those of you who don’t know, my Darling is legally blind, and I’m often his seeing-eye dog.)  I walked up to his cubicle looked around, checked his computer and said, “This one?”   

The flash drive had been left in his computer all night.  It had never been in his pocket, it never even went to CiCi’s.  Holy batshit. 

OK, relief.  Now I’m not worried that I have to stop using variations of my favorite password.  Now he doesn’t have to recreate hours of work he’s done on various spreadsheets.  Crap! that was dumb not to go to work first.  I could’a thought’a that! 

I had already forgiven him for his mistake the night before.  In that moment, I forgave him for putting me through all that annoyance.  I forgave myself for following him while in the throes of a freak-out.  (Note to self:  One of us has to remain level headed and it doesn’t always have to be him.) 

I hugged him and told him I loved him and I was calm.  While I waited for the bank to open, I went and got gas with my cash.  When the bank opened, they were wonderful.  They simply printed me a new debit card and activated it.  Very simple process, and I got to keep my old PIN that I finally memorized. 

I felt stunned as I walked out of the bank, shiny new debit card, flash drive in his pocket at work where it belonged.  It was like I’d been hit by a giant wave of water, knocked around, turned upside down, swallowed a bunch of it, nearly drowned me, and then it gently set me down, in the sunshine, dry, but with completely different clothes on.  (What??  Tsunami!!!??  What tsunami?  Everything is completely fine.)  Traumatic experience with no aftereffects, nothing left to clean up. 

Life has a sense of humor.

 I’m not sure why this “accident” happened.  I know there’s no accidents, though.  Maybe this was a wake-up call for my husband to be more careful with important files.  Maybe this was a test.  Maybe there is going to be a security breach in the near future, and I’ll be really happy that we changed all of our passwords.  Maybe I shifted universes and created that flash drive in a safe place.  Maybe it was my angels reminding me that security is an illusion, or maybe it’s that adversity is an illusion.

With as much growling as I did, I’m pretty sure that I’m still working some things out in 3-D, not quite ready for ascension yet…but I’m getting closer. 

 

 

OK Autism, I’m Aware, But Not Sure Why I Should Celebrate

blue-light-bulb-picture-quality-material_38-3001
Autism Awareness is everywhere, and we’re very new to this diagnosis. I’m still processing it all and I’m not completely convinced that I need a puzzle necklace or blue light bulbs to show support of autism.
Oh, I’m aware of autism, as I sit here I’m listening to my son screaming because he doesn’t want to take a shower. (The one he promised he’d take because he didn’t want a bath last night.) I’m quite aware of autism.  Autism HATES me, “hates me forever apparently,” and hates me quite personally, why should I show support of it?  I don’t want to ‘like’ autism.  I want to say, “yo autism, bite me!”I don’t show support of autism, I’m running up against it every day. I love my son, he is who he is. Nothing is going to cure him and make an intrinsic part of him go away. I wish I could make things easier for him, but I accept that this is his journey.   I have my own journey, which is learning enough so that I can help him make sense of this insane world and find his own way in it.  And, just because I have high expectations, I expect that I will do so with humor and grace and love.

Is it wrong that I want my child to be able to embrace his weirdnesses, and yet grow-up and at the least have the choice to behave as if he’s normal?  I mean, I’ve, mostly, learned how to pass myself off as normal.  Almost all of the time now, I can sit with a group of grown-ups in a serious situation, and guard my reactions and emotions enough that I don’t make the strange off-comment that makes them wonder, or laugh when it’s not officially a joke.  By the time the meeting is over, not one of them would guess that I’m as weird as I am.  Especially in groups of very serious grown-ups, I sometimes seethe with pent up laughter as I see the absurdity that goes on.
Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m so different from everyone else, that I’m an observer of the human race.  “I’ve learned to rub blue mud in my bellybutton” whenever the natives do, so they don’t notice me noticing them.  These humans are touchy and don’t like to be laughed at.  Hide behind this book and don’t stare directly at them. ::chuckle::  I can pass as one of them when I need a job, or go to court, or go out in public.
I’m not terribly surprised that my son isn’t ‘normal’ when I don’t feel perfectly normal, myself.  I know that his brain isn’t wired like mine is.  He may be like me in some ways, but he appears to be using a completely different operating system than I am.  The throws out non-sequiturs that make my brain hurt.  He interprets sensations differently.  He loves drama and I prefer comedy.
What I haven’t figured out is how ‘lighting it up blue’ is going to help my son quit freaking out.  I’m puzzled as to why a puzzle tattoo helps some people cope.  I don’t want to buy a blue scarf, or put a puzzle piece on my facebook, my car, or my person.  I am willing to accept that some people do want to do these things, but I’m not completely convinced that awareness of (the word or the disorder) autism is actually providing any comfort or support for those who are living with autism.
Our money is going towards insurance co-payments.  Asking me for donations or charitable purchases of stuff I don’t need right now feels a bit annoying.  I feel a bit like I’ve been tapped as a whole new income stream.  I’m aware already, now what?
Personally, I’m busy trying to understand my son, with his own individualized version of autistic traits and behaviors, and figure out how to help myself cope in a manner that supports my well-being.  It’s frustrating because there are not many people experiencing exactly what I’m experiencing.
Sure, there’s 1 in 8 who are being diagnosed as autistic, but they’re all different.  There’s a whole lot of contrast out there showing me how blessed my family really is because autism is a big spectrum.  Sure, I want to offer support to those who really need it, but I’d rather it wasn’t just a ‘show’ of support.  Meaningful support is what I’m looking to give and receive.  I’m not convinced that meaningful support can be provided by a one size fits all project.
Sigh, another conundrum for another moment because the tantrum is over, the shower is done, and he’s sorry that he yelled.  Apparently, all the stress washed away for awhile, and there’s my son again and he loves me.

Thank You Mom, I DO Act Just Like Him

We’ve had several long days out of the house.  Large chunks of it were frustrating and difficult because my children were home on Spring Break.  (Officially over as of now, this is the weekend, and everyone goes to school and work on Monday.)

The best part of Friday was spending time with my Mom.  My Mommy loves me!  We were talking about all the paperwork I’m keeping track of all of a sudden and she came up with a thoughtful way to help.  She brought me a whole box of nifty filing supplies and it was the best present ever.  After lunch and haircuts, we sat in the park and watched the kids play.  I organized my bag full of paper and pulled out appropriate reports for her to read.

It was interesting to get her take on some of it.  As she read the reports about her grandson’s diagnosis of autism, she said, “A lot of this sounds like how you were as a kid.”  And I completely agree.  (Although, I don’t remember getting ready for school and only putting on one sock.  I do remember that getting ready for school was an impossible task many days.)

As always, this diagnosis makes me wonder where does his behavior cross the line between autism and just being a kid?  Based on the initial testing, It sounds like we’re also dealing with an underlying chromosomal defect, we’re just waiting to hear exactly what, but that’s not inheritable.  But how much of his behavior is genetic and how much is autism?  How much of it is that he’s like me?

my bobby face.JPG copy

Me at an awkward stage, looking just like my son.

I have certainly found, that the things about my son that annoy and frustrate me the most are the times that he is most like me.  Parenting is an opportunity to experience upper-division classes in self-love.  Obviously, I still have my own crap to clean up, or I wouldn’t get such a clear reflection of the things I don’t want to see.

F’rinstance…

I had my own full-blown meltdown this morning.  My morning ritual is to make a cup of coffee and drink it while it’s hot.  My simple ritual was disturbed while I was feeling hungry and sleepy and overwhelmed.  (My kitchen is hideous, we’ve slept here every night, but we’ve been out of the house for several days and no one has done anything but make more messes.  Tomorrow is Easter, and no one has clean clothes and my husband is working overtime, so he needs clean clothes in a few hours.)

I resolutely went to the kitchen to make my one perfect cup of coffee.

My father-in-law, who lives in the basement now, ran out of his coffee while we were out, so he used mine.  The coffee cone was full of grounds where he spilled over the filter.  I calmly took the filter out and went to rinse out the cone.  The sink was full of dishes, so I rearranged the mess so I could use the faucet, getting a bit irritated with everyone that they can’t rinse a fricking dish or stack it in any sensible manner.  Breathe.  I reached for my pyrex measuring cup that I use to heat up my water, noticing that the bottom was filled with sludge, and the handle was sticky.

OH MY GOD I HATE STICK-EH!  ::font: sarcasm (Hmmm… What, me?  Texture issues? nah.) /endfont::

I went and cried for a few minutes and my husband found me and got me to tell him what was up.  He wanted me to check out the cool app he found.  I did, it was nifty, but I could tell I was approaching meltdown unless I got some food quickly.  So again, I squared my shoulders and faced the kitchen.  BREATHE!  Focus on what I want it to look like, focus on that perfect cup of coffee that I’m going to have.

I realized, gee!  I have another pyrex measuring cup and it’s clean.  I don’t have to touch the sticky thing until I’m ready to do the dishes.  Yay!  I started my water, rinsed out my cup, rinsed my cone, again, and put in a filter.  Opened the grinder to find almost a cup’s worth of coffee ground superfine.  (Note to self: tell grandpa about coarsely grinding the coffee, because fine can be too bitter.)  OK, get the new bag of coffee.  BREATHE!  I know he’s had to open it and it’s a beast to do it right.  Forgive him before you touch the bag.  OK, it’s f’ed up.  It’s okay.  BREATHE!  Trim a bit off and pour a bit in the grinder.  Fill the jar, fill the grinder, gently grind the beans.  Great, this is going smoother.  Water’s hot, smell the coffee.  This is going to be okay.

I reached for my caramel syrup, and it was gone.  :(  Grandpa strikes again.  F$%&!!!!  Can’t take it!  I was just at the ____ing store, there was enough syrup for at least a week!  Mother ____ing ____ sucking goat ____ing ($*%&W%&!!!!!!!!  Stay the F*&% away from my coffee!!!!!

I tried to be calm.  I breathed.  I faced it all, and lost it anyway.  I cried quietly while I got the cream, felt thankful that at least I had good coffee.  Grabbed a hard leftover piece of brown sugar and plunked it in my coffee, because that’s a nice treat and I was wanting sweet this morning.  Took my coffee upstairs and locked the door.

It will all be there when I feel sane enough to handle knives without frightening people.

I’m noticing all this emotion as I sit quietly and anchoring it so that I remember how helpful it is to be alone when I’m upset.  I forgive myself for getting so upset that I cried over a break in my routine like a little kid.  I forgive my son for being like me, and I forgive me for making him that way.  I allow myself to cry and release the tension.

Sheesh, I’m going to have to start keeping a tantrum log for myself.

I’m listening

My 10 year old son was diagnosed last fall with PDD-NOS.  I’m very new to this, I have no experience with autism other than what’s in the mainstream media.

I remember learning of autism as a kid and feeling fascinated by it.  I read about “classic” autism (non-verbal, rocking, spinning things) but that was about as far as I got, I was 10-ish.  There was probably an after-school special on it.  I didn’t know anyone who carried the label “autistic.”

Now I love someone who has received this diagnosis and I’d like to understand more fully.  I’ve learned all about the diagnosis and all the labels.  (Which, just as soon as I learn them, they’re all changing and going away in the new DSM-V.)    I’ve learned about neurodiversity, too.  I’ve learned that autism is individual, no one is exactly like my son.  I’d ideally like to help my son progress and have a happy, fulfilling life.  For now I’ll settle for learning.

My son is different than me and sometimes it hurts.  His frustration and pain, frustrates me and causes me my own self-inflicted pain.

I’ve been on a path that taught me not to fully trust the media.  I’ve watched TV and movies all my life, and I’ve come to believe most of it’s BS.  I’ve learned not to go with the business that pays a lot for advertising because they charge me more.  I’ve learned to look at charities who want my money and find out how they use it and give only to those that seem to actually spend it on the people who need help.

When I started researching autism, of course I came across Autism Speaks.    I noted all the high profile events, big fundraising, and that they’re trendy.  I noticed quickly how many things were being marketed to me, the parent of an autistic child.  Soon after I collected information from them, I found a video on indiegogo project called Citizen Autistic.    They point out that the percentage of money raised by Autism Speaks that actually supports autistic people is small, and that there are no autistic people on the board.  I wasn’t surprised to find that there are people who are labelled autistic who don’t feel that Autism Speaks, speaks for them.  (And surely they are the Voldemort of which gareeth writes.  I just found gareeth’s blog today and this post really rang true.)

I got on facebook to connect with other parents and learn more.  Everywhere I look, there’s people who want me to post a ribbon, puzzle pieces, and the color blue.  They want me to buy scarves, and jewelry, some of it blue, some of it with puzzle pieces on it.  It’s trendy to get a puzzle tattoo.  Pbbbththth.  Not happening, sorry it’s not meaningful to me, I feel like I’m being treated like a fresh income stream.

I do not choose to rule my life or my son’s life by one diagnosis.  I feel blessed that he is so high-functioning and he is making progress.  I want to learn how to help him continue to progress so that he can live the life he chooses.  In the meantime, want to reduce my own frustrations and learn how to parent my son.  I’m listening to him and I’m seeking information from people who are living it.  I am also finding other support organizations.

Thank you gareeth, for your post.  I am looking for knowledge from people who live with autism.  I am an outsider, because I don’t have autism, yet I know more about it than many, and I am listening.  I hadn’t heard about the Six Degrees Project.  I agree with you, I don’t fully get the premise.  If it fosters empathy, it could be a good thing, but not speaking for two hours doesn’t simulate autism very accurately in my world.  My son seems to have language failings, but he does speak.  I’m thinking that from my experience of living with my son, to somewhat experience what he goes through, you’d need a few hours of living in a world with people who speak words at you in a foreign language, invent rules that make no sense, that continually prod you to do things you don’t really want to do.

Hmmm…maybe to understand autism they need to spend some time going through customs, with no translator, while in possession of a suitcase full of improbable items they have to explain?  I suppose that would end up taking more than two hours.  Maybe just put them on a crowded train with a bucket on their head?  Not exactly right, but it makes more sense to me than being quiet for two hours.

bucket

If I choose to be quiet during the same time as the Six Degrees thing, it will be because I am meditating.  If I choose to wear blue, it’s because I like blue and that’s what was clean.  I’m not very trendy, and while I do like puzzles, it’s not enough to wear puzzle pieces on my person.

(I have a running, ever-unpublished, list of undiagnosed adults who could benefit from social skills training.  Special Ed for All!  That’s kind of wrong of me, but gosh, wouldn’t it be helpful?)

These are gareeth’s words below except for the ones in parenthesis.  Chunked for my own understanding because I glossed over it a couple of times, and it’s too important to gloss over.

“the very reason we

are objecting is

precisely because

some cannot object 

(and that)

is lost

on those who feel the need

to remind us of this.”

My One Perfect Cuppa Coffee

I grew up drinking coffee.  All the grownups drank coffee.  When we went out to dinner, I’d be held hostage at the table as all the grownups chatted and had coffee.  Sit still, be good, we’re almost finished.  SIGH.  I think I learned to drink coffee just to have something to do.

For a long time, I drank a LOT of coffee.  I’d make a pot of coffee and drink it all day, and the pot would stay on and give the coffee that over-baked flavor (because this was before microwaves.)  I’d go out to eat with my friends and sit around and drink coffee, I wasn’t picky. Diner coffee was a staple.  Drinking coffee became a defining “adult” thing to do, as I’m not really ‘good’ at drinking alcohol, and I never saw the point of smoking cigarettes that don’t even give me a buzz.

I quit coffee several times and experienced the withdrawal symptoms that come with a nasty drug addiction.  I would quit for awhile, get through the nasty bits, but finally decided that drinking coffee still made me happy.  Eventually, I decided to only drink good coffee in moderation.

It’s a good tradeoff.  One perfect cup.  No headache from lack of caffeine.  No twitchiness and stomachaches from too much coffee.

I finally learned the name for the style of coffee I prefer.  Apparently, I mostly drink pour over coffee.  Here’s a blog about it, no need to re-write it because they sum it nicely.  I grind my beans, sumatran mandheling preferably, use a Melita coffee cone & a filter, pour hot water over it and, voila!  It’s coffee, right there in my cup.

I have a lovely french press that I use when I have a small crowd, but it’s a pain to clean.  I have a good old coffee pot that I use for those who like plain coffee that you can see through.  (Why drink over-baked, translucent coffee, I ask?)  Please don’t offer me instant coffee, unless you just like to see the face I make.  Mostly, when it’s just for me, I use my cone and it’s perfect every time, and there’s no leftovers to drink up later.  Just the one perfect cup.

It doesn’t require special coffee pods, no expensive equipment, and there’s really no special technique to it, regardless of what the barista may say.  You pour hot water over ground beans, carefully, so you don’t slop it over the side and burn yourself, or worse, get grounds in my coffee.  

Bill Hicks, It’s Just a Ride

This is a link to zenpencils.com because I didn’t know how to post this as a picture.  Whoops.  Bill Hicks, It’s Just a Ride  Go read it, Zen Pencils is awesome!

As I read this, I couldn’t help but hear him singing, It goes up down, round and round, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured.

Go listen to the song, if you haven’t already.