“The heat pump blew all the fuses.”

house on top of building

I’m preparing to embark on a project with M, soon.  We’re going to design and build a miniature version of our dream house.  We’re still negotiating the materials.  (You know I want to use 3D printers. 😉)  M insists the final design must be as detailed and tactile as possible without spending a small fortune.  My inner hippie jumped forward and suggested (out loud) we use recycled Amazon boxes as a sole source of materials.

Isn’t it weird when your gut reaction is so spot on, it has layers of rightness that slowly and steadily reveal themselves?  And you think to yourself; maybe I’m more complicated than I realize.  🤔  (Then something shiny happens, and you laugh and forget all about it?)  Heh.  I should probably stop believing we’re still in negotiations over which materials to use.  (No-dee-duh.)

colorful painted houses

We’re in the thinking about it stage.  I’ve been watching lots of house shows on Netflix and noting features I appreciate.  I’ve also had a few glue-gun fiasco flashbacks from when I made my custom RGB LED lights.  And that time I cut off the tip of my finger when making my last quilt.  (As far as I can tell, it grew back.  Yay.)  I’m confident I won’t have these issues now that being deliberately present is a habit.  💪🏽

I think it’s cool that I learned it from studying Stevie Nicks interviews on YouTube as the first domino in a series of life lessons from various sources.  From take your time and exist at your natural pace, to full-on hippie status on my journey to enlightenment.  I’m dead chuffed.  (Shup.  Been waiting for ages to use that phrase.) 😂  I didn’t even know music was an epic teaching tool a decade ago.

The Army already taught me novels could only get you so far, but when paired with music, it’s a surprising distance.  I feel like I’m just getting warmed up in my exploration of music that moves me.  I’m embarking on a study of Dolly Parton, now.  No introduction or explanation is necessary;  she’s fabulous.  I strongly suspect she has lots to teach me.  Yay.  (Old school triple-threat; where the third threat is a topic that can easily lead to violence, especially if alcohol is involved.) 🤭

grado headphones

I can listen to Jolene on repeat for hours.  I love that song.  I’m also looking forward to watching Nine to Five, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Straight Talk, Steel Magnolias, and Joyful Noise, again.  I’m not really into country music, but some of it jumps out and says, yes you are, at times.  Some artists pull fans from all genre preferences, and Dolly Parton is one of them.  I’m off to watch my shows.  ✌🏽💜

“No! I don’t want to save seats. Don’t put me through that!”

astronaut art

Since the Fleetwood Mac concert, I’ve been quiet, calm, and surprisingly tranquil (considering the world is on fire.)  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking.  It’s funny how a rock ‘n’ roll concert, in all its heart-thumping glory, can trigger inner stillness and contemplation in the aftermath.  I wasn’t stapled to the floor as anticipated as a result, either.  I’ve merely slept more deeply and productively;  Bonus.

I sense some healing took place during the experience.  Yay.  I’m not very good at narrowing these things down.  (I probably can’t be bothered in my rush to celebrate.)  There are light and airy feelings I associate with healing recognition; like a gentle euphoria — a release of a burden whose loss keeps almost surprising you.  I love it when positivity is playful.

My body is depressed today.  It feels strange when my emotions don’t match my physical response.  I prefer body depression over mental depression.  I’ll take an annoyance over despair anytime.  It still takes a lot of pep talks to get anything done, though.  Gravity has suddenly increased in my dot of the universe.  Even sitting upright to type this is taxing.  (Still better than despair.)  Heh.

optical illusion photo

The hot flashes associated with menopause are over.  I didn’t know they were temporary!  I thought it was for life!  I’m so thrilled by this discovery.  Upon further consideration, menopause rocks, yo.  (I mean.  I don’t know what’s coming up that requires hair in weird places, but whatever.)  Love.  It.  It’s easier to get up earlier now, too.  I must have reached the oh-shit-it’s-morning-exasperation saturation point, and started wrapping things up sooner subconsciously.  So ninja.  😂

I just took a short break to catch my breath.  Body depression is ridiculous.  I’m not a chain smoker.  Typing at my desk should not render me breathless.  At least not without the agonizing soul ache that typically accompanies.  I feel like I put the world on backward today.  It fits better this way.  Heh. (Puts a star in the blessings column.)  What?  🙃

I failed on my first attempt at seeing my primary care physician.  It was too cold to risk.  (I think the windchill was -52 F.)  I stepped outside and did an immediate about-face.  Sadly, their’s no DIY option to reschedule online.  You have to call or go in person.  (I don’t speak on the phone.)  I plan to go there to order my glasses and reschedule on my way out.  I got two snail mail letters from the VA with a deadline of February 14th to reschedule.  (Sorry, not sorry about your agoraphobia, bitch?)  😶

Anyway, I can do it.  I’m aiming for a day with temperatures above 0 F.  Monday is looking hopeful.  It’s harder to combat agoraphobia during severe weather.  I forgive myself for choosing safety over victory.  The days of shrugging off weird weather are gone.   Journey before destination.  I’m off to test my new coat heater while I walk the dog.  💜✌🏾

“I saw someone on the street eating M&M’s with a spoon.”

The Fleetwood Mac concert was last night.  I still have a massive grin on my face.  I’m floating on a cloud of joy, today.  Since I attended alone, I took a Lyft ride there and back.  Aside from struggling to locate my Lyft driver among so many others after the show, it proved ideal.  Instead of waiting in lines, the crowd smoothly flowed through security to our seats.  It was like being gently guided.

twitterish meme
joke credit: VisualVox

I was seated among lovely people who reminded me why I love Sioux Falls so much.  A woman seated with her partner in front of me turned around and gave me a high-five when the band took the stage.  I was between a group of young women and two men around my age.  We spontaneously swayed arm-in-arm to the music several times while singing along.  😮😍😆🙃

It startled me at first, but I played it off and joined in.  Then I internally celebrated my happy amazement over bonding with local strangers without the slightest bit of panic.  I had floor seats, so we stood from the moment the music began until the band took a bow at the end.  I wore cargo pants with a leg pocket for my phone, which was perfect.  I didn’t lose anything while mesmerized by the performance.  Yay.

happy doof

After a few songs, I realized I was standing there on tiptoes with my hands clutched in fists just below my chin, shoulders hunched, eyes open as wide as they go, and presumably a super goofy expression around my grin.  (Part of me is secretly hoping the band couldn’t see us well from beneath the lighting.)  I couldn’t help it.  (Even though I’ve seen photos of people doing this, and thought they looked like doofs.)  Heh.

I had a fantastic time.  I did see one other black person, but I think he worked there.  😂  (I didn’t look around at the audience once the band started playing.)  Mick Fleetwood’s drumming blew my mind.  His kit is gold with penguins on the kick drum.  After stunning us with his skills, he got up and casually tossed his sticks while exiting the stage.  (So cool.)  He did all the faces, too.  I love him.  😆

The magical vibe that only Fleetwood Mac can create remains wrapped around me like a hug.  Watching Stevie Nicks in her element with my own eyes was a bucket list moment.  She rocked.  I love her.  (I’m making that face again.)  Christine McVie came out from behind the keyboards to sing beside Stevie Nicks, too.  (I may have involuntarily squeed.)  I loved seeing Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks singing backup, as well.  The band sounded fabulous.  The percussion and bass were felt as well as heard, (which is how it should be.)

The new lineup is tight and smooth together.  I think they’re even better now.  (Yep.  I said it.)  The tribute to Tom Petty was brilliant.  I’m off to continue being a happy doof while I practice drumming.  ✌🏾💜

p.s. Here’s the photo I took (just before I forgot my phone could do that.)

Fleetwood Mac concert Sioux Falls

“Oh, I’m stressed!”

I’m going to share a few things I’ve learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after living with it for nearly half my life.  Your mileage may vary, so take what fits.  In my mind, I see my ability to cope with stress as a balloon.  Stress inflates it.  Ordinarily, as the balloon inflates, it stretches to accommodate typical stressors.  PTSD occurs when overwhelming stress causes the balloon to swell so far beyond its optimal range, it produces a pocket extrusion, reducing the overall tensile efficiency.

From that point on, to prevent a blowout, hypervigilance is required.  The amount of stress you can cope with resets to zero (child-like stress tolerance level,) and you have to start over by stretching your stress balloon a little bit at a time, without popping it, repeatedly, until it regains a semblance of elasticity.  This process is your new full-time (unpaid, nerve-wracking) job regardless of your present work status.  Forget about getting nights and weekends off.  Holidays?  As if!

Trauma causes PTSD.  Something awful happened, and you came up short on internal resources to deal with it in real time.  The situation convinced you of your impending and untimely death.  Your brain pulled the emergency lever causing you to check out emotionally (because it’s too hot in here.)  Once the haze clears and you finally wrap your head around continued existence, PTSD shows up and says, “S’up, bitch?”

bicycle accident - face plant

The first year or five is mostly training.  Figuring out which random things trigger you from calmness to a sudden panic attack, (often for no apparent reason,) quickly becomes a priority.  We also soon realize concealing (masking) how we feel is helpful when among others.  That ever-present, barely containable, private hysteria shaking in the back of your mind alarms others if you let your guard down.

I believe it’s the tendency to stare off into the distance while visibly unraveling.  Masking is exhausting, but you’ll master the ability.  The motivation is irresistible:  human contact.  Isolation may seem like your new lifestyle, but it’s just a tool you can summon when you need to regroup, recover, unmask, and rest from socializing.  Humans don’t thrive in permanent isolation, so don’t linger longer than necessary.  Social skills entirely fall under the use-them-or-lose-them rule.

The sleep disturbances usually show up right off; such as, nightmares, insomnia, crashing and sleeping for several hours only to awaken feeling unrested, and the like.  As does the super-uncool tendency to jump like the clown from It just showed up, over every loud noise, sudden motion detected in your peripheral vision or contact from outside of your view (especially from behind.)  Good times.

human slam dunk gone awry

The flashbacks are like jumping between two avatars without warning or a controller.  (This game is rated S for sofa king no.)  And there’s always a frenemy or two who will delight in provoking you to jump because it looks hilarious every time.  Each time, without your consent, you react as if you’re suddenly about to die.  Your reaction doesn’t diminish over time (in my experience.)  The OMG-I’m-ending hormones release (like the Kraken) every time.  Then you have to go somewhere quiet to recover — every time.  Kick them to the curb sooner than later.  (You’re welcome.)

The bad news is PTSD sucks so hard it can lead to thinking about suicide.  The good news is you can live with it.  It’s not easy, but it’s doable.  The more you practice safely stretching your stress balloon, the more it becomes a habit and less a conscious chore.  Only you can choose your pace.  Your brain is physiologically different than it was before you acquired PTSD.  Don’t lie to yourself about getting over it.  You don’t.  You build a scar over time and eventually relearn how to manage your stress efficiently enough to get back on your journey.

It’s part of who you are now.  The healing process takes place within yourself, and only you can do the necessary work to regrow an efficient stress balloon.  A good therapist can provide a map and support.  If you have the means, do it.  You deserve it.  If not, you can still do it.  (The internet.)  Just remember to be kind to yourself.  You have a wound, go easy.

woman listening to music with headphones

Some tips:

  • Avoid binging on carbs.  They’re prepackaged depression and anxiety outside of moderation.  You’ve got enough on your plate without adding shit on purpose, eh?
  • Practice good sleep hygiene.
  • Stay well hydrated.  Your fight-or-flight system is broken and is sending out false alarms all over the place.  Flush out those toxins often.
  • Stretch when you first awaken, and before you go to sleep.  You’re physically tense most of the time, so counter it twice a day deliberately.  You’re the boss of you, dammit.  🙃
  • Choose (ideally) at least three people you trust to support you by connecting with you (unmasked) as you heal.  Preferably people who understand PTSD or are willing to learn about it with you.  (Pets help if you talk to them.)
  • Exercise daily within your (physician approved) range of ability.  It’s an incredible built-in hormone regulator.
  • If you can hear, listen to music alone in the dark with headphones on.  Hopefully, you’ll find a musician or several whose music can express intense emotions you can’t even classify on your behalf.  It’s an incredible release.  (For me, Evanescence, Bach, ABBA, NIN, Beyoncè, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, and Fleetwood Mac have helped tremendously in this manner.)
  • Anytime you feel tempted or compelled to act on suicidal ideation, wait 72 hours first.  You survived this long; you can hold out for another three days to allow your brain to self-correct.  (This is more a rule than a tip.) 💜  [Suicide Hotline]
  • It’s okay to have moments when you’re convinced it’s not worth so much effort.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak or broken.  It signals it’s time to turn on some stand-up comedy or Key and Peele and laugh (like you’re getting paid) for a while.
  • Others with PTSD can be a source of information, tips, and support.  Remember you’re not alone, even when it feels like you are.

Flex in the mirror once in a while.  You’re a healing survivor who was once a victim.  Life knocked you down, and you chose to get back up and continue your journey.  You’re freakin’ fabulous.  💪🏾👍🏾 💜

peace sign reflected in puddle

“I figured I could afford a fake house in the Hamptons.”

heart shaped balloons in the clouds

The Unknown Mother

You don’t know me.

We’ve never met.

But we have this connection

of grief and regret.

A progeny of hope,

his life just started,

destroyed in a moment.

A dream departed.

I’m terrified,

never did this before.

Why wasn’t this part

of my training for war?

No time to panic,

no time to cry.

I’m calling you in my mind.

Please understand why.

I’m not a medic,

just the two-week course.

It’s why I’m praying

and trusting in The Force.

The squad is horrified,

their first brush with death.

It seems it’s all up to me,

if I can catch my breath.

I’ve seen death before

when a foster-brother died.

But now I’m a soldier.

I can’t run and hide.

I’ll borrow your perspective

and see through your eyes.

Your love for a son,

help render me wise.

Don’t know if you’ll see him.

Don’t know how it works.

But know if you do,

the mental image will lurk.

I’ll sing to him softly,

wash the blood away.

It’s helping to keep

the hysteria at bay.

Imagining I’m you,

will tend to him gently.

And muster the courage

lovingly, intently.

I loan you my hands,

my determination.

And share in the sorrow

for your lost creation.

Don’t know if you’ll see him,

or just a flag-draped box.

It’s all I can do

to soften the shock.

The tears are escaping.

We’re preparing to go.

I hope what I’ve done

somehow lessens the blow.

You don’t know me.

We’ve never met.

But we have this connection.

I’ll never forget.

by Unabashed Autist