“Did you ever notice how happy people are when they finally get a table?”

I’m not typically one to rave about the sports, but this is amazing!  I didn’t even know this sport existed before viewing this footage.  I’m an instant fan.  I also want to experience it for myself, (preferably with no audience.)  I’m reasonably sure I’d spend a good deal of my float time bashing into the walls while screaming; not that it would dissuade me from trying repeatedly.  Kyra Poh makes it look easy, though.  I think this is the type of footage we should broadcast to aliens.

Nine days until the Fleetwood Mac concert.  Part of me wants to camp out in the parking lot until it’s time for the show.  I already have my ticket and have practiced driving there twice.  I’m excited!  I’ve made a few contingency plans on the off chance my car breaks down, or the garage door refuses to let me out of the parking garage.  Nothing I can control will prevent me from seeing this concert.  Nothing!  Muahahaha!

I’ve been trying to write this post all day, but I’ve taken many breaks to dance, jump up and down, sing, and generally fail at containing my anticipatory joy.  I’m going to be in the same space with Stevie Nicks!  Words cannot express how happy I am about this.  I love her and am so glad she exists.  She’s taught me much by what she’s shared through her music and interviews, and it’s provided me with comfort and strength.  Music is powerful, and I don’t think I’d survive without it.

handful of joy

I’m on the brink of a new project with four other autistic women.  I don’t have much to share at this point, but it’s where I’ll be dedicating my (hyper) focus for the next five years, at least.  It’ll be my fourth career, in a way.  First I was a soldier in the Army, then a full-time student, a software engineer, and now this new project.  I’m probably not a multitasker.  I do best when I give all to a single endeavor.  It works for me.  When I feel pulled in multiple directions, I tend to shut down altogether, so I’m glad I know this about myself.

Also, I think people who can juggle several things at once while still giving their best to all are incredible.  I tend to stare at them in awe, despite getting busted for it often.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been caught staring, I’d be hella rich. I’ve consciously tried to stop doing it, but with no success. I suck at remembering if I can see people, they can see me too. If I were a decent photographer, I would take a damn picture, don’t you know. 😂

happy people

Next week is going to be busy. I have an appointment with an eye doctor, dentist, and the concert. I’ll also be meeting with the director of my local VA hospital and a Mental Health Professional before the dental appointment, to discuss my recent complaint of abusive treatment there. I’m low-level stressing about all three, but my excitement over the concert has all worries in an illegal sleeper hold. Yay. (I should probably knock out a few more difficult things while in this nothing-can-bring-me-down state of mind.)

On top of everything, I got an email from a dear friend I met on Twitter (before I recognized I’m social media impaired, SMI.) 😂 It’s a good thing Amy Lee already taught me I couldn’t die from being too happy. I have to say, though, if I get to choose, I want to die from overwhelming joy. I’m off to beat my drums while smiling like the doof I am. ✌🏽💜

“Leo, I don’t care for your demeanor.”

children learning

I mentioned in comments recently how Sheryl Crow is teaching me how to communicate with people from a more productive place.  Her song, Halfway There on her Be Myself album is my anthem for the lesson.  (It’s also a great song.)  Music is the most effective way to teach me something.  I feel like I’ve already made good progress.  Now, when communicating, instead of only thinking about presenting my viewpoint, I also think about how those who might not agree will hear it.

The reasoning behind the lesson is the fact there’s little point in expressing my opinion in a manner that will cause the listener to tune me out.  I have a cat for that.  Heh.  I know whenever I speak to her, she’s listening for keywords, (such as, treat.)  She’s interested in my tone of voice.  Anything beyond is noise.  If I want people to consider my opinions as worthy of thinking about, I have to work on how I present them.  Just like with Amelia Bedelia, my tone of voice, and the words I choose will make or break the conversation.

I didn’t realize how horrible I am at this until recently.  I tend to come off like a drill Sgt.  In my defense, I did virtually grow up in the Army.  I’ve been out long enough to recognize it’s an entirely different world than that of a civilian.  It took a long time for me to adapt.  The hardest part was accepting civilian attitudes.  It’s incredibly frustrating to work with (or even be around) people who aren’t giving their best by default.  Of course, not all civilians are like this, but I seem to find the ones who are regularly.  😂

child weeping

Fortunately, I no longer lecture people on the merits of doing their best, (like a drill Sgt.)  I even try to keep my face in check, but I’m never sure I manage.  I’m a thought telegrapher.  (You can probably imagine how much fun this added to my training. /sarcasm)  Worse, my expressions aren’t necessarily the NT (neurotypical) version.  Aside from about-to-laugh or about-to-cry, I’ve been told I look angry when I’m thinking or processing.  Damn eyebrows.

Body language is something I’ve decided not to stress over any longer.  I don’t get it, I probably never will, so no more beating myself up over it.  As for my own, I’m working on not walking away like I’m trying to escape whenever I talk to people.  (Even though, half the time, I am.)  My entire lifestyle centers around not having to speak (out loud) to strangers much.  I suspect many who have or had a speech impediment share this habit.  I also used to put my foot in my mouth virtually every time I opened it.  (Thank goodness, Stevie Nicks already taught me the importance of thinking before saying.  Love her!)  Now I’m ready to take it further.  Baby steps, yo.  🙃

The battle for access to abuse-free health care continues.  Jade and Keia of Gettin’ Grown talked about the fact African American women frequently die prematurely due to racism in the medical field on this week’s podcast.  I felt validated after listening.  I’m not the only one who has had to deal with doctors or dentists who don’t think black people feel pain.  Or who automatically disbelieve anything we say.  I’m glad I decided I’m not going to die prematurely due to the crudeness and cruelty of some alleged professionals.

I’m proud of myself for refusing to see the evil dentist who mistreated me again.  I looked right at her (probably with angry eyebrows) and said, “No.  I specifically stated I would not be seen by her again when I made the appointment.”  The receptionist acted confused, but I saw a different dentist that day.  It was the first time I stood up for myself, but not the last.  I’m grateful the Patient Care Representative at the VA is a (more than) decent human being.  She’s already helped put in motion an eye exam, and I’ll be seeing a non-evil dentist later this month.

cute cat on the floor

I wrote her a note identifying some examples of the abuse I’ve endured in the Mental Health clinic and ward.  I didn’t share much, and only mentioned one person by name, but it was an overwhelming exercise.  I also shared how I was dealing with my ex-husband turning into Ramsay Bolton at the time, which is what drove me to seek assistance in the first place.  It brought back all the shit I’ve had to put up with since I got out of the military.  Plus, the Kavanaugh Travesty triggered me and stapled me to the floor as a result.  It was like standing in the midst of a trauma avalanche.  Good times.

I’m doing better now, (finally stopped weeping.)  I look and feel like I talked shit about Mike Tyson’s mom in his earshot, but at least I’m not silently wishing slow deaths on everyone who ever hurt me any longer, (then feeling guilty about it.)  I finally slept, which helped.  I also listened to lots of music and watched a Will and Grace marathon while pacing.  I might take the saying, walk it off, too literally, but whatever works.  I paid enough attention to recognize how insensitive (and probably offensive) we were in the 90’s.  I didn’t notice back then.  (+100 to the millennials for helping us see how unkind we were without realizing it.)  ✌🏽

p.s.  Here is a fabulous, healing, and hopeful video.  #SISTERHOOD

“Stop crying and fight your father!”

fight prep

Welp.  I did something today I didn’t think I would.  I reached out to the VA for care.  Granted, M has strongly suggested I do so repeatedly.  As a doctor, it seems it’s excruciating for him to watch my health decline for lack of care.  I also reached out to the Patient Care Advocacy to assist in ensuring I’m not subjected to further abuse.  (They’re but the first in the chain-of-command.)

It’s not the first time I’ve sought their aid.  While the advocate I worked with was kind and recognized the abuse, her efforts, unfortunately, led to retaliatory mistreatment from other VA employees.  It led to my retreating under the rock.  The fact I don’t speak on the phone (and informed them several times) hasn’t helped matters since the online communication tool rarely works correctly.

Most times, I’m unable to respond to messages received.  When I’ve sought technical assistance, I was met with questions about my status, as if I’m new to the VA system.  The few times I’ve gotten through, I was offered phone appointments, much to my fury.  It’s also rare that the same individual reads or responds to anything I’ve written.  It’s a mountain of racism and bureaucratic bullshit I’m facing.

The number of hoops to jump through is astonishing.  I’ve decided to break my silence about the abuse I’ve endured.  I’m going to fight as if my life depends on it.  (It does.)  Fortunately, my education and military service taught me a great deal about how to get results from people who would prefer I crawl back under the rock and rot.  I won’t.

Shout it out

While I anticipate I’m facing an epic battle, it shouldn’t be this way.  There are no excuses for this treatment by the VA.  I’ve done my research, acquired legal counsel, and am as ready as I’ll ever be to fight until my pigmentation level and lack of a penis cease to prevent me from being recognized as a human being at the VA.  I’m so disgusted and traumatized by what I’ve endured.  I can’t even drive past the VA hospital without having a panic attack.

While not everyone at the Sioux Falls VA is vile and dishonorable, those who are have made it a nightmare.  I’m genuinely astonished by the lack of professionalism and decency I’ve witnessed in multiple areas of the hospital.  I don’t want to be another veteran suicide statistic, of course.  However, the mistreatment has repeatedly increased the likelihood immensely.

The irony is a bitter pill to swallow.  Even the medication bottles have stickers to remind veterans to reach out to the VA instead of killing yourself.  They’re proudly displayed all over the place, but none of them inform veterans it could be that very action that pushes them over the edge.  None of them warn of the fact that the VA’s concept of treatment varies tremendously by skin color, gender, and whether or not your provider likes you.

I’ve endured while my PTSD symptoms have worsened and my life has become a shell of what it could be with proper care.  I’ve cowered and raged over the unfairness.  My mind replays each event whenever I attempt to sleep.  Often I end up weeping and give up trying to sleep until so exhausted I can’t prevent it.  Then I’m unable to awaken myself when the nightmares overwhelm.  I’ve forgotten how well-rested feels.

VA crisis line - at your own risk

I’ve kept extensive written accounts of each incident, and plan on being very public and open about everything.  I have no qualms about naming people who’ve mistreated me.  I’ve begun my thesis on racism in the VA and already have interested publishers.  In the light, it will all come out.  I disclosed my plan to Patient Care Advocacy to utilize recording apparatus whenever I enter the building.  (I’ve done so in the past to keep accurate, provable records.)  Beneath the trauma, I’m still a fierce warrior who understands war.  It’s on like Donkey Kong.

“Here’s to those who wish us well, and those who don’t can go to hell.”

All who live carry luggage on their journey

I realize I don’t explicitly discuss autism on this blog very often.  It’s because I’m autistic; it’s an intrinsic part of my perception and life, as is PTSD, and my ongoing battle against depression.  On my journey to becoming my best self, I encounter many allies who share their experiences and understand every aspect of my struggles.  Some are also autistic, but many carry luggage with different labels.

I’ve learned to apply caution when inviting others into my world.  It’s a painful, repetitive lesson.  I’m aware of other autistic people who choose to be hateful while gleefully invalidating those who don’t have a formal diagnosis.  (As if the medical community has even managed to produce definitive criteria that can pass a casual bullshit test.)  I’ve encountered people with mental or physical illnesses who decide to be mean and spiteful to others for who and what they are; as if it’s something anyone can control.  Their pain hasn’t yet taught them of its presence in the lives of all who live.

In hindsight, I’m always embarrassed by my naivetè.  I admit I once assumed marginalized people automatically possessed a more profound understanding and compassion for those who also suffer.  It’s brought me a great deal of pain as I recognize my mistake.  Going forward, I hope to be wiser.  It hurts so much to know there are people on this planet with whom I must guard my heart.Humans are diverse

I still feel like a new member of the autism community, years after discovering the online fellowship:  especially now that I’ve seen the pettiness and hatred spewed between members.  The irony is particularly disturbing;  autistic people who shun other autistics for being different than themselves in their challenges and experiences.  😲 🙄

I remember when I was thrilled to learn about neurodiversity and finally recognize my tribe.  I’m sad to realize it’s not as inclusive as I once thought. I remember how lonely I was, and I didn’t expect alienation from fellow aliens.  Nevertheless, I’m incredibly grateful for those who do accept and support me.  I cherish the love and fellowship of others also journeying on the path to their best selves.  It matters not to me what baggage or labels others carry, so long as they walk with kindness, compassion, and sincerity.

I’ve learned it’s easy to embrace diversity among humans.  I celebrate it.  It enriches my life, stretches my mind, and strengthens my spirit.  The smallest bit of effort ensures I can relate to anyone I choose.  No matter how we’re different, we’re all human.  We’re all incredible individuals who decide what we will become through our choices.  Thanks to those who help me grow. 💜  listen up

Thirty-three days until the Fleetwood Mac concert! (Performs the pre-choreographed dance routine.) 🙃✌🏽

Delayed P.S.  I’m sorry I said money is the only god on this planet.  It’s been eating at me ever since, but I only just figured out it’s also why I haven’t been able to sleep.  I’m sorry.  💜