I’ve lost my ability to speak again, but I can still sing. Weird, right? Whatever, embracing it. My band leader yelled (jokingly) at me to practice a duet on Skype, and it triggered my inner soldier who hears a firm order and obeys it without question, (then immediately questions thinks about it.) 🤭 I suppose I can’t whine about being easily programmable after volunteering for the military. (I’ll take Things You Don’t Consider Before Joining, for $1000, Alex. 💜)
I’ve been creating music ever since. I made a song, but it’s incomplete. It’s a sandwich with nothing in the middle because it’s not my song. I just heard the bread and created it because I’m a hopeful romantic. Sigh. I think it’s Karen Kilgariff’s song. I don’t know her personally, but I adore her. I’ve been listening to her comedy albums on repeat just to keep from having the panic attack that keeps promising to be a doozy. 🙄
I’m a little floored by how well it works. Usually, when I find a comedy show I immediately love, I savor it and only rewatch or listen when I’m stapled to the floor by the Depression Monster. However, both Live at the Bootleg, and I Don’t Care, I Like It (with Drennon Davis) are hilarious over and over again. Bonus. I decided to make a video for the empty sandwich because it felt a bit more complete (and I have mild OCD muted by Prozac.) 🙃
(Below is just the audio in Creative Commons so other artists can play with it.) 💜
The Irish singers are loops with which I’m in love. 🥰 I don’t have words beyond Nah. Also, Guitar Hero said, “It doesn’t suck.” (Compliment in Babyboomerbonics ((say it three times fast.))) 😆 Okay, I have to get back to pseudo-socializing (going to try the Zoom with M) because we all know I can’t slack off, or I’ll get too weird at the speed of light. 💜✌🏽
As I’ve been recording myself reading past blog entries, I ran into a problem. Here’s how I hope to work around it: I want to hire a podcaster to read and record some of them on my behalf. I’m not going to repost all of them; only the ones I feel may be helpful to others. (The Pain Scale is what I believe the most valuable post on my site, for example.)
I’m going to take a risk and contact the podcaster that immediately came to mind. I’ve already accepted there will likely be a panic attack involved in the process, so bring it, Anxiety. I keep my anti-Anxiety tools arranged on a bamboo tray atop my filing cabinet. (That’s right, Anxiety. Coping with your antics is now part of my decor.) 🤭
Reading back has been emotionally draining. My memories consist of how I felt at a point in time. From there, I can often recall scents, sounds, and a few blurry visuals. The only certain parts are the feelings, however.
On top of that, I can’t do time in my head. (I’ve never possessed this ability.) For me, there are three categories: Everything happened in either the distant past, recently, or yesterday. If you need me to be more specific, you’re going to be disappointed, because I’m going to guess (likely while walking away.)
I liken it to someone who was traumatized when learning math, and thus automatically dissociates when forced to do math in their head publicly. We probably both decided as children; these are boundaries. I know if someone tells me they hate math, never ask that person to do math in their head. I recognize there’s a very high chance they’re anxious about it, so that’s what I accommodate. (Many people have math anxiety. Bill and Melinda Gates are some of the people working on improving how we teach kids.)
Podcasters, I decided against a list. Instead, I will share about podcasts I love and why regularly. Whenever I make a list of people, I end up taking it down (as soon as I recognize it’s what’s causing the pain in my gut.) A list feels like I’m ranking people, and that grosses me out. (I live in what wants to be a glass house when it grows up.) 🤭
I know. I’m anxious, too. I’m pretty sure we all hate this particular feeling. It gets in the way and steals our focus, but it also keeps us alive, so there’s that. Adapting to the ever-changing world is a common stressor for everything alive. Yet, as a species, we’re reluctant to change. Kicking and screaming is an apt description of how we collectively adapt to sudden change. 🤭
I don’t know why, but I figure there’s a reason related to our survival. Since we’re in the midst of a lifestyle change during the Covid-19 pandemic, I think many people are low-level freaking out because this is a new experience, and they don’t know what to do to get relief. (It’s such an awful feeling I want to gather you each in a just-right-tight hug, just for having to feel it.) 🤗
Here are some tips on how to cope during these uncertain times. (Source: The Savvy Psychologist podcast, episode 286.)
Do not dwell.
Limit time spent consuming news and information about the pandemic. Only use a few trusted sources. (CDC, your local health official website.) Constant data seeking can (and probably will) increase your anxiety. Ghost alarmist sources.
Maintain your circadian rhythm. Spend as much time in daylight as possible, even if just facing a window. Practice going to sleep and rising at roughly the same time each day.
Exercise. If you don’t have equipment in your home, here are some ideas: Walk around your home while listening to music, a podcast, or audio book. Plan a route and remove obstacles where necessary. Continue as appropriate for your fitness level, with a goal of 30 minutes per day minimum. Use online fitness classes and guides for strength training. Scrub your tub, etc.
(The audio helps distract your thoughts from looping around anxious topics. The repetitive motion is self-soothing.)
Develop a handwashing plan and stick with it forever. Each time I do this, I do my handwashing routine immediately after. If I’m at home, this is what I do. If I’m away from home, this is what I do. This is how I roll from now on. 👍🏽
Stay socially active. (There’s no need to isolate while you distance.) Finally, someone is telling you to spend time in your group chats. 🤭 Think of creative ways to stay connected with your friends and loved ones. Throw a Netflix Party. Use one of the gazillion apps that allow you to hang out with your tribe using tech instead of in person. (We’ve already been practicing for this lifestyle adaption for years, don’t you know.) 🤫
People with OCD and other mental health challenges might be having a rough time. Online support groups and remote therapy with services like Talkspace and Betterhelp are options. Sleep disturbances are also common during times of increased anxiety. I find listening to binaural beats to aid in sleep surprisingly helpful. Most music streaming services have them. (Here’s some on Spotify.)
I’ve been using binaural beats for years. Every other night, I listen to one created to encourage the habit of daily exercise. I originally purchased it at eBay on a CD, and have since uploaded it to the cloud for nightly streaming; it’s so effective. (Willpower for $9.99? Done.) It sounds like the sea to me. On other nights, I switch it up with versions for increased focus and theta waves. I play them on low volume while falling asleep.
As a damn near-agoraphobic who used to live under a rock, I’d like to share some of my favorite things to do to ward off cabin fever, (alone or with others.)
Assemble a jigsaw puzzle while listening to a podcast or audiobook. (+10 mental engagement)
Build a miniature city using Amazon boxes. (+10 creativity)
Watch or record your kid, (self, partner, pet) stomping on Mini Cardboard City like Godzilla or something before recycling. (+10 social engagement)
Color while listening to a podcast or audiobook. (+10 creativity +10 mental engagement)
Learn a new skill with YouTube videos. (+10 mental engagement)
Make music with whatever you have available. (+10 creativity)
Start a parody journal documenting each day as if you’re writing to future aliens. (+10 creativity +10 mental engagement)
Use your phone to make a mockumentary based on the journal. (ditto)
Share your funny creations with your tribe and encourage them to do the same. (+10 creativity +10 social engagement)
Imagine a product you wish existed, and create the commercial pretending to advertise it. Share it, encourage it. (ditto)
Design and build a Rube Goldberg machine using stuff from around your home. Share it, encourage it. (ditto)
Interview your pet and answer all the questions for them in a silly voice. (ditto)
Practice your acceptance speech for whatever award you desire in front of a mirror. (Imagine all the people you want to be there, especially that asshat from Junior High who used to taunt you on the daily and go for it.) (+10 self-esteem)
Compose letters to people who have touched your life in profound ways. Take your time and use a thesaurus. (+10 mental engagement)
It’s just as important to keep your mind active. Now you know some things you can do instead of stressing and obsessing. Anxiety is uncomfortable, but we can flourish despite it. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling out of sorts. We’re all experiencing this together, and we’ll get through it together, even while practicing distance. 💜✌🏽
Welp. The job didn’t work out. Unfortunately, on the first day, I wore the wrong footwear and injured my left foot. I probably pinched a nerve as it caused numbness that has since lessened to just my big toe. I got the proper shoes immediately and used some silicon yoga toes with elevation to speed up the healing process. I learned a surprising amount of useful information in this short duration. Such as standing on cement for hours requires proper footwear. (Like combat boots, she said, while consciously refraining from tearing herself a new one.)
Cleaning in the military is different than cleaning in an apartment complex. (I have to admit; this hurt my feelings a little.) Instead of systematically scrubbing everything from top to bottom, there’s this thing called a spot check, where you visually inspect for what looks gross and start there. Speed is more important than, well, sanitation. The mission is to make everything look clean. It required a compromise. Instead, I tried to clean using the military-style very quickly. 🤭 While this makes for an incredible workout, it still takes too long.
The Army has a saying: If you can’t find time to do it right the first time, how the hell are you going to find time to do it again? I’m married to it. The time commitment was higher than discussed initially, so I quit. I can’t mess with my daily exercise routine. It’s part of my wellness plan. I’ve played with it enough to know I can opt for an hour of cardio plus 20mg Prozac, or 4 hours of cardio per day to maintain homeostasis. (Sadly, neither scenario accommodates Cheetos.) My decision is weather-based because I don’t play with Mother Nature in the winter anymore. (I need my digits, lobes, and nose. I’m still using them.)
The job accomplished the goal of getting me out of my apartment regularly. I also drove around the complex between buildings, increasing my driving confidence. I saw a schnauzer that screamed around strangers, and the pitch went up the longer the dog was uncomfortable. While it was carried down the stairs and out the door, I thought the glass was going to fracture. It was so adorable. Heh. I met an older woman whose date was late to pick her up for lunch. She was super pissed off, (and for some reason, it tickled me.) I said, what a dick, in commiseration, and she laughed.
I had to wear a sports headband and wrist bands because I sweat a lot while scrubbing the yuck as fast as I could. I had to sterilize everything, including my eyeglasses, after each shift. Pretty sure my cleaning ensemble, complete with the sweatbands, orthopedic shoes, cargo pants, and a t-shirt, was fashion-forward. 👍🏽 (Not nary a compliment was heardt.) I gained five pairs of the same pants, ugly but comfy shoes, some muscle, stamina, confidence, a creativity boost, and experience. Sweet.
Soon after I began the job, I had oral surgery. It was pretty extensive, and I still have stitches and soreness. Typically, I wouldn’t have chosen to be unconscious during the procedure. I went in with several questions, but after the doctor entered the room, I was satisfied I was in good hands. I quickly recognized I didn’t have to do anything but show up hungry. Siouxland Oral is fabulous. I saved the pain meds in my zombie bugout bag and used OTC ibuprofen for the first two days. It still hurts, but it would be weird if it didn’t. I get stitches out in a few days, yay.
I discovered my singing bowl helps the pain, which I think is super cool. I also found my blood pressure has been lower around whitecoats the last few times. (M taught me to use meditation.) Since I quit, I’ve been writing like I’m getting paid by the word. It’s like I’m an idea factory—short stories for the vault, for now. Ted Chiang and Ken Liu are having a considerable influence on my writing. I think Octavia Butler would have been just as excited by them. I’m off to band practice. 💜✌🏽
p.s. I’ve recorded one past blog entry so far. I sound weird, too. Heh. Guess I should have seen that coming. 🤭
I got stuck in a pain loop. Embarrassing amounts of overthinking took place. I learned some shit, such as I’m quite sensitive. I also don’t hold back my positive feelings about other people. I regularly tell them, usually in an awkward, clumsy, corny manner. It sometimes makes the recipient of my affection seemingly feel uncomfortable with me. Some people become suspicious and even hostile. They assume I have ulterior motives behind sharing because my words alone are indistinguishable from flattery. (It’s all outside of my control.)
Most often, the exchange results in my becoming aware I didn’t meet expectations. I’m fifty. Thus, this process is a filter. It systematically eliminates people who, for whatever reason, aren’t willing to meet me halfway. (Tick-tock, so.) It took me a while to get here. When the pain hit, I wept. While the pain was emotional, my response was the same as when I got a spinal tap, only slower. I was surprised by the intensity, followed by replaying the event until I could process it (while simultaneously bawling.) Communicating with others is entirely a horseshoes and hand grenades situation for me.
I long for precision, but my access to words (especially in realtime) is unreliable. I imagine most people search and locate the concepts necessary to express their thoughts far more quickly and precisely than me. I’m using whichever words stored in recent memory are close enough to convey a semblance of my view. I’m aiming for timeliness, relevancy, and accuracy, knowing it will ultimately be a compromise between them, at best. I prefer writing to speaking because I’m allowed more time and tools to find the words I seek.
However, even with these perks, the message still originates in my neurodivergent mind. From my perspective, it feels a lot like I speak a language known only to myself and those who are interested enough to learn. My English is good enough if the message is simple, but I’m most fluent in music. I’m socially tone-deaf in many ways. I feel like I’m talking through refrigerator magnets to a world of preoccupied scholars. I have ideas and want to be part of the conversation, so I risk and risk and risk. I lean heavily on hope, and I cry when it doesn’t work out.
The Good News: Being neurodivergent means I’ll likely never encounter another human whose brain is wired similarly to my own. This fact is a fabulous opportunity to build communication skills that allow me to successfully connect with diverse people, just by talking to them.
The Other News: Many of these conversations hurt my feelings. Some people behave in a manner I interpret as rejection, usually, without a satisfactory explanation. So far, I’ve chosen to grieve when this happens. The depth varies from momentary sadness to a pain loop involving lots of snot and tears. Then I spend time imagining all sorts of potential reasons the person rejected me. Soon, I think of so many, the exercise seems silly to pursue. The answer is always: insufficient information to draw a satisfactory conclusion. I hate it every time, but at least it’s consistent (AF.)
I’m a romantic. I didn’t see that coming, but the evidence is overwhelming. I romanticize (famous) people I don’t know who fascinate me. It’s wholly rigged. The distance and lack of intimacy make forgiving mistakes easy, and thus, good practice for when those close to me do so. I suspect I grow each time an unsuccessful connection attempt crushes me. Every so often, I meet someone who chooses to connect despite the effort required. As we communicate over time, the awkwardness and odd style become integrated into a mutually understood language. While still not precise or typical, it can potentially lead to a cherished bond.
It probably comes as no surprise, but I celebrate the shit out of fruitful connections with people. Yep. Choreography is involved. (Duh.) 🙃 I also forgive people who hurt me. It doesn’t matter if I understand things like motives, or how others feel about me. My experience involves how I choose to feel and behave. My romantic ass is confused by the event, but there’s no animosity. (I would have to imagine malice to get there, and I don’t wanna.) I mean, I make mistakes all day long. It’s one of the ways I learn and grow. Moving on to whatever comes next. (In Crocs. I’m a cleaning person, yo.) 💜✌🏽
p.s. I (over) estimated it would take me a month to get unstuck (and stop forsaking the internet.) I was wrong. Yay? Yay. I’m going to begin recording my previous posts (vocally) as a means of practicing my speech (at least until I can talk on the phone again.) As I progress, I will repost them with the audio track. I made them private because I hide when I’m hurt, like a cat or something. Literal, remember? 🤭