Why don’t you just drop off some chicken skins and lobster shells?

I saw a quote by Patti LuPone this morning.  She basically informed a reporter she hates 45’s fucking guts.  I got the impression she was reluctant to respond at all, and when pushed, she told it like it is (SNAP.) In celebration of this moment of honesty from a strikingly beautiful and talented woman, I’m going to state the obvious.  I love her.  I know.  Who doesn’t?  Welp… 45 doesn’t anymore.  Poor pathetic Putin puppet.  The modern day Helen of Troy thinks you’re wasting oxygen, too.  Dayum!

I spent several hours answering questions for my Prodigy last night.  It cracked me up how she initiated the session.  She emailed me a contract.  She basically asked me to promise not to withhold information based solely on her age.  I didn’t need to think about it for very long.  Doing so would be incredibly hypocritical.  I didn’t believe I was a child when I was her age, either.  I remember how offended I used to get when people assumed otherwise.  I’m pretty sure she knew I would agree.

I ended up telling her about my foster siblings.  There were over 100 before I joined the Army.  My parents fostered six kids at a time.  Most were severely developmentally disabled.  Some died in our home.  (I still have nightmares.)  I think because we didn’t talk about them after they passed.  The Foster Babies, as I called them, were a constant source of joy in my life.  There was always a baby I could rock.  I assigned myself the duty of night watch when I was little.  (It began as an excuse to be up past my bedtime.)  A few times a night, I would peek into their cribs to make sure they were still breathing.

My parents had baby monitors, but I preferred in-person checks.  We had a baby with microcephaly, Spina Bifida, and intellectual disabilities.  His mom was gravely ill when she carried him (Anorexia Nervosa), and she had a difficult time with (irrational IMO) feelings of guilt after he came to live with us.  Seeing her weep when she visited her baby hurt so much.  Just remembering it has tears welling.  He lived with us for two years, then passed when I was eight.  I still remember how kissable his cheeks were.  If you said his name in a sing-song voice, he would light up and laugh.  I try to remember those details, and forget the ones that still haunt my sleep.

When he died, I was putting on my uniform for school.  My parents ordered us to go to our rooms when the coroner came, but I disobeyed.  His skin was bluish gray.  I watched them take my baby foster brother away forever.  I remember not knowing how to feel.  I saw his mom at Best Buy once as an adult.  I walked up to her and gave her probably the longest hug I’ve ever given anyone.  I wanted desperately to tell her something, but I didn’t have the words.  So I just kept hugging.  I hope she understood.

A few were older than me when they lived with us.  I have a Native American foster sister who used to babysit me.  I see her about town once in a while.  She’s married and seems happy.  She’s intellectually disabled.  She was on the strict side but kept me safe.  I remember when one of my brothers called her the R word, and she slapped the shit out of him.  The slapping part was hilarious.  He knew he couldn’t tell on her for it, which made it funnier.  (My parents made it extremely clear we would not survive the consequences of harming one of the foster kids.)

Unfortunately, they weren’t always able to prevent asshole moments like above.  My older siblings were embarrassed by the foster babies as teenagers.  My oldest brother tried to convince my mom to let me go live with him and his wife because he didn’t think it was a healthy environment for me to grow up in.  (She said no.)  Gar is the brother who taught me how to read, used to make us call him Garfunkle, and has a ridic high IQ.  He’s fascinating, but I don’t think he’s terribly compassionate.  I love him, but I’ve always kept him at arm’s length.  He told me when I was twelve he thought it was more merciful to kill the foster babies than help prolong their lives.  It painfully annihilated my ability to trust him.

It was hard to leave the foster babies when I left for basic training.  When I got out of the service, my parents were retired.  I visited a little brother, who was three when I left, at his new foster home.  It sucked.  He was “too old” to be picked up and showered with kisses.  He loved his new foster family.  His new dad owned an auto body shop.  It was testosterone heaven, and my adorable baby brother thought the idea of giving me a hug was funny.  That day sucked ass.

Shannon is probably the one I remember most strongly.  Before my parents brought her home, they had a talk with us about her condition.  She had a facial deformity.  She couldn’t open her eyes, and she had a severe cleft palate.  I remember being a little nervous as it was the first time we had such a talk.  It was for naught.  Shannon was the most affectionate and loving person I’ve ever met in my life.  She had bright red hair, porcelain skin, and I got a peek at one of her cobalt blue eyes through a tiny slit where the skin opened.  I think it was just enough for her to detect light.

She had plastic surgery soon after she came to live with us.  They repaired her palate and nose.  There was barely a scar.  She was less than a year old when she came to live with us and was blind and deaf.  I loved her so much.  My mom got really attached to her, too.  When you picked her up from her crib, she would hug you, kiss you, and pat you on the back.  She knew who was holding her by touching our faces and hair.  When she hugged my mom, she would make cooing sounds, like she was comforting her.  She lived with us until she turned six, and was sent to an institution.  That sucked, too.  I’m so glad I got to know her.  She was love personified.  I’m off to read.



It’s like my brain is facing my penis in a chess game.

I laughed when I chose today’s Seinfeld quote.  Mostly because I love referring to my (figurative) penis when going postal on a misogynist.  There are few groups I consider fair game for an all-out verbal attack.  Misogynists top the list.  I barely consider them human.  They’re contaminating the gene pool.  They cling to ignorance, and a false sense of superiority like their life depends on it.  It’s sad.  I’m happy to report they’re dying off.  In twenty years the word misogynist will only show up in novels and word games.  Glory days.  In the meantime, they usually insist on identifying themselves within minutes of contact, so at least they’re easy to avoid.

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of my electronic drum kit.  Unfortunately, I damaged the snare drum pad.  Now, It only plays softly no matter how hard I hit it.  Disclaimer:  I void warranties religiously.  I took it apart.  I could fix it for a few bucks, or I could build a better one.  I wasn’t about to fix a cheap rubber snare drum pad.  Clearly, they’re too easy to break.  Although, for a cheap entry kit, I’m astonished by what I got in a good way.  The rack and module alone are worth what I paid for the whole kit.  The drum pads and cymbals are temporary, and I’m in the process of replacing them.

I love the rack because it’s matte black everywhere, it’s compact and sturdy, and I can use standard hardware on it.  I ordered a 10″ rim, some 35mm piezo discs, foam tabs, a 1/4″ instrument input, cables, and a mesh head to make a better snare drum.  It’s now a dual trigger, shiny, mesh pad and is a joy to beat with sticks.  I can do rolls, and the velocity triggers beautifully, too.

I’m debating on how I want to address my hi-hat replacement, which is next.  Part of me thinks I’ll never want an acoustic kit, and shouldn’t limit my choices in that respect going forward.  I much prefer having the sounds from multiple super expensive kits recorded in high-end studios than whatever I could reproduce.  In that instance, I’d prefer using a mesh head pad for my hi-hat and cymbals, too.  It’s a quiet enough trigger that I can practice anytime I want, day or night.  How very attractive to this insomniac.  If I decide against the mesh cymbals, I’m just going to get acoustic cymbals because the rubber and plastic cymbal pads currently being sold are unbelievably shitty substitutes.

I have a tendency to read all night.  I’ve been doing it often since I learned how to read.  I was raised to believe laying still in bed while wearing pajamas counts as sleeping.  The laying still part really means being silent enough not to awaken others.  Laughing out loud at a book while reading is something I’ll admit to often doing.  In my head, I’m in another world where something funny just happened.  Not laughing would be weird.  Immediately after, I feel guilty for making noise.

The guilt part is just a habit at this point.  When Heather died, her diaries were given to me.  (All my siblings kept a journal growing up but only the girls continued in adulthood.)  She wrote about my late night giggles with fondness as an adult.  She wasn’t so fond of them at the time, I recall.  We shared a bedroom until I started 7th grade.  My Mom decorated it, but it looked like Holly Hobby threw up in there to me.  Yellow gingham fabric with lots of ruffles everywhere.

Starting in Junior High, I got to decorate my own room.  Heather was so worried about me having my own room.  She didn’t think I could handle it (Queen of Nightmares is my original title).  Thinking back now it makes me laugh.  She was really the big sister at times.  She was my self-appointed voice for much of my childhood.  At first, it was because I didn’t speak, but later because it amused me so much.  (Heather was always a bit of a loud talker who didn’t hesitate to demand being heard.)  We were opposites in so many ways, but we always had the same sense of humor.  On that nostalgic note, I’m off to continue reading Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving again.  It’s so fucking good.  (That’s my review.)

¡La puerta esta abierto! Who left the door open?

I had a busy and productive day.  I’m touching a computer for the first time today, which is astonishing.  My Mom would have been proud.  It got up to 66° F.  In February.  In South Dakota.  It should be well below freezing for weeks yet, but climate change.  Since I’m doing my best to deflect my personal repercussions on the environment, I decided to enjoy the beautiful weather.  I almost blew it straight away by going to an automated car wash.  I remembered in time, and went to a self-serve and used as little water as I could.

I’m too high strung to drive a dirty car.  The snow melted so it should last a while.  I got a few more clients on my Meals on Wheels route.  They live in an apartment complex where an existing client resides, so I’m not worried about finding it.  It’s a weird building, though.  There are two sides separated by the entrance.  The problem entails units numbered the same on both sides, (so there’s a 210 on side A and 210 on side B.)  It took me a while to figure this out.  I made up a few new curse words during the process.

While researching the demographic of 45 supporters, I discovered they’re mostly Caucasian men in their 50’s.   I’m pleased with the leadership of the resistance group I joined.  I spent lots of time learning about leadership in the Army, so I know when I’m following a good one.  The demographic reminded me of my Dad.  He was a conservative, but I know he wouldn’t have supported 45.

My Dad was a Shriner.  He wore glasses and had a white beard and mustache.  He wasn’t obese, but he did look a lot like Santa Claus.   At least I thought so until I was five and discovered he was just my Dad.  I have only good memories of him.  I remember sitting on his lap while he smoked his pipe.  It made my eyes burn, but I liked the smell.  I used to try to think of a question I didn’t think he’d know, then I’d ask.  I remember thinking he was the smartest person in the world.

I didn’t spend as much time with my Dad when I became a teen.  My parents divorced when I was eleven.  I didn’t notice at first.  To me, the difference that stood out was Saturdays.  He would pick us up and take us out to lunch and the zoo or circus.  I remember a Sunday with Dad where he took us to a restaurant and allowed us to choose what we wanted to eat.  I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich.  Then I hurled it onto the back seat of his car.

In hindsight, I suspect I was carsick.  I’m highly susceptible to motion sickness.  I think it’s because I don’t look at the right things while moving.  I try to see everything when I should only be looking where I’m going.  The memory of that hurl fest is so powerful I still refuse to eat at Cracker Barrel.  If not for that I would still boycott them for their homophobic hiring practices.  So I guess fuck Cracker Barrel either way.

My Dad was always there for me when I needed him.  Every single time.  I didn’t even realize this was remarkable in real time.  There weren’t very many kids with divorced parents when I was growing up, but the few I knew lived with their Moms too.  My Dad started dating, and eventually married the woman.  She was always kind to us, but we called her by her first name, not step-mother.  She was easy to love.  She stayed with my Dad until she died.  She was his third wife.  I never met his first as she died before I was born.  My Mom’s first husband had died before I existed, too.  We were a lot like the colorful Brady Bunch.  Only a lot more kids, many of which were disabled.  The DeBolt family was well known when I was growing up for adopting lots of kids of various races and abilities.

Heather and I were disturbed by the DeBolts.  We didn’t know how to express why at the time, but I know now it was resentment for their attention seeking.  At that point, following a family with cameras was considered a documentary, not reality TV.  We were offended by it.  Strangers often came up to my Mom while we were together running errands.  They would go on and on about how she was such a saint for adopting us.  The utter shock they displayed right in front of us used to infuriate me.  We weren’t fucking monsters.  Granted, we did live in what was virtually an all-white community.  I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, before Madonna, Angelina, Sandra, and Mariska adopted infants of color, (IOC hahaha).

For most of my childhood, I was the first black person the people of my community ever met.  (I’m of mixed race, but I check African American on forms.)  I’m not as light-skinned as Rashida Jones, who can pass as Caucasian, but chooses not to.  I have an African nose.  If my skin were white as rice, I’d still be of obvious (relatively recent) African descent.  My nose is old school.  I just cracked myself up.  I’m glad I’m not the type of person who is upset about having a nose that in profile reminds me of a chewed wad of bubblegum.  I’m the type who thinks it’s hilarious.  I just wish it held up my glasses better.

My parents would have been livid had they lived to see 45’s regime.  Knowing this is a comfort to me.  My Dad had no tolerance for the mistreatment of people.  He taught us it was important to do what was right at all times.  He explained to me what I did when I thought nobody was watching revealed my character.  (When I was a kid, Character Counts was bandied about like a motto during Saturday morning cartoons.)  I’m often literal, and as a child, I believed I was being watched by Jesus at all times, assuming that’s who my Dad meant.  No wonder I’m so high strung.

My Mom would have adored the Obama’s.  She also would have pointed him out to me before he ran for President.  She went out of her way to make sure I was aware of successful POC my entire life.  I’m glad she did because it was a gift I didn’t know I needed.  She gave me books by Maya Angelou and Alice Walker.  We spent a lot of time in libraries and museums.  I mostly remember my Mom complaining that Steve and I had touchy-itis; a horrible disease where the sufferer is compelled to touch everything, especially if fragile.

There was an authentic Sioux teepee on display in a local museum.  It had a soft but rigid hide and thicker than I expected.  I also discovered the improper securing of said teepee when it tipped over.  Fortunately, my Mom decided my horror at tipping it over was punishment enough.  I still agree.  I’m grateful I had parents who valued good character.  Their influences still guide me daily.  I miss them, but I’m also glad they’re free from 45’s tyranny.

Shut up you old bag!

I’m doing well.  It finally stopped snowing, but the driving is still precarious.  My boss asked me if I’m happy in my position today.  I’m overqualified for the job, but I didn’t understand why it’s an issue as it was deliberate on my part.  He said something about retention, but eventually, we got to the bottom of things.  He was concerned I might start my own company again.  I assured him it doesn’t interest me.

I’m on the other side of life now, since I don’t have kids.  I won’t compete with Millennials in the workforce or business sector because it’s their turn now.  My job is to help them achieve and get access to resources.  Because duh.  My fellow Gen X’ers who are still raising their kids need me and others like me to help with their grandparents, and sometimes parents who are struggling to remain independent.  The circle of human life.  When I’m no longer able to live independently, the Millenials will probably have gadgets to compensate and a bot to report any problems.  Home automation will include whatever necessary to allow me to stay independent the way Meals on Wheels does now.  (Alexa, I’ve fallen and can’t get up!)

It takes a village isn’t just about kids.  It’s about everyone in the community.  I know how to be a good neighbor.  Mr. Rogers taught a lot of us.  If everyone looked out for their neighbors, it would be a nicer country to live in.  Also, homelessness would be a rare problem.  Not having a family to fall back on probably leads to it often.  I lost family to the cult of Drumpf after the election.  It wasn’t surprising.  I figure if having two black little sisters didn’t aid them in overcoming racism, nothing will.

It was stressful having racist family members, and I won’t miss that stress.  My mom’s dad overcame racism when I was a preteen.  It was a major event in my life because he was my only grandparent.  I just understood I didn’t have grandparents because my parents adopted me, not their families.  That’s a quote.  There were other family members I heard about but never met.  Some were because they were racists.

My dad’s parents are an example.  Heather and I weren’t allowed to get out of the car because the dogs didn’t like black people.  Another quote.  I do remember this, although I was four or five at the time.  I didn’t look at my dad’s parents, so I don’t know what they looked like.  The ground just outside the car was muddy, so I wasn’t going to get out of the car anyway.  I believed dogs could be racist, though.  I took it as my mom stating facts, not my dad’s parents being racists.

I didn’t understand racism until I was five.  That was a rough year.  I began Kindergarten, which led to my finding out I was black.  That was devastating.  I don’t know how I lived for four years before noticing only Heather and I matched.  I had some wild theories about a lot of things before I found out the facts.  I thought birth control pills were what you took to get pregnant, for example.  They should call them birth prevention pills.

I found out later that year my dad wasn’t actually Santa Claus, then that there was no such thing.  More devastation.  I had an epic meltdown because I didn’t know parents could lie and my brain wouldn’t process it.  I have a hard time adjusting to new rules.  I like rules too much on top of it.  To me they’re directions.  I hate when I don’t know the rules.  The Army always had manuals for how to do everything.  If the manual was for a HumV, it was kept in the HumV.  I loved that.

I could do anything I was asked to do because if I didn’t have the skill yet, I had the manual that would teach it to me.  Memorizing the manuals paid off big when I competed in knowledge bowls for free trips all over Europe.  I was surprised how few bothered.  I had a blast.  Then again, most people in my unit in Germany couldn’t pass the international drivers test.  There were a lot of signs to memorize, and some people aren’t good at it.  I bought a BMW 525 Si in white with chocolate brown leather interior while I was over there, but the cost to get it converted to American emission specs was ridic.

I used to drive my friends to a Chi Chi’s, and they would get hammered.  Then on the way back to our post, a few would get in the trunk because they couldn’t find their ID cards needed to get back in the gate.  That used to make me nervous because MP’s on guard duty don’t play.  But the trunk was huge.  It held two soldiers uncomfortably.

I’m still working with the Democrats.  I basically do whatever they ask.  I understand now where I fucked up, and how badly.  I still love Bernie Sanders, but I support the Democratic party period.  I’m anti-GOP so hard.  I hate Nazis.  I do enjoy watching people punch them in the face, however.  I don’t normally like boxing, but this is a sport I can get behind.  I’ve seen a few gifs on Twitter that were most satisfying to watch.  I’m off to order a Drumpf piñata.

I have to open a bottle of ketchup for her.

Lately, I’ve thought a lot about core values.  I haven’t paid much attention to philosophy (because it should be called wishful thinking.)  Wishing is for childhood.  Adulthood abuses wishers.  Tinkerbelle dies every time in reality.  But as a child, you may have been allowed to indulge.  Sorry nobody warned you it was temporary.  Philosophy should be expressed and experienced in childhood.  Reality beats Philosophy about the head and neck until it dies pitifully.  Like from Syphillus.  Or a bottle of poison.

Adults who insist on fantasy instead of reality raise my blood pressure.  I don’t think I’ll have a heart attack, though.  My picky diet is surprisingly good for my circulatory system.  Also, the smell of bacon repulses me.  My brother used to enjoy chasing me up a tree with the bacon from his breakfast.  My knees, elbows, palms, chin, and shins show evidence of my experiences.  I’ve left a lot of skin specimens on concrete, tree trunks, pavement, and grass.  I blame activities involving wheels, blades, and helmets, poor decisions, and gravity.

When I fell during a run in basic training, my Drill Sgt. put his face inches from mine and yelled at me for bleeding on his hill.  I was on the verge of tears, but his tirade led to my laughing in his face, followed by regretting it, then mopping up my blood with the edge of my t-shirt.  When I was 27, I stopped taunting Gravity.  I stopped because Gravity got tired of my playing too much and smacked me hard.  It was one of those pains so shocking you analyze it while experiencing it out of awe.  I don’t fuck with Gravity anymore.

Identifying my values versus what I remember by rote takes concentration.  I’m determined to recognize what exactly I value more than my life.  I’m aware I overestimate people habitually and am preparing to rectify this behavior.  I’m strategizing for war.  Triage is crucial at this point.  I’m figuratively zeroing my weapons and eliminating the unnecessary to keep myself light and mobile.  I despise violence.  I used to live by a nonviolent philosophy.  Unfortunately, it was beaten out of me.  So I grew up and insist on truths instead.  I don’t hit first.  I hit back with everything I can muster.

Growing up with eight older siblings was violent.  I can’t imagine having five older brothers and not knowing what it feels like to be punched in the face.  Or shot at point blank range with pellets, bbs, and paintballs.  Or carried around by your head (that was when I decided to fight back).  The last time my brother, Guy, picked me up by my head, I broke his nose with the crown of my skull.  I didn’t know it could have killed him until years later.

It also startled him and made him see me differently.  I went from distracted and passive to overwhelmingly violent without warning.  He didn’t know how much he was hurting me by his actions.  He also didn’t realize the obvious reaction was to jump to prevent what felt like having my head pulled off.   Don’t ever pick someone up by their head.  It’s a horrible thing to do, and it might be the last thing you ever do.  The only results I endured after breaking his nose was a life free of being lifted by my head.  I’m off to read, then think some more.

That wakeup guy was trouble!

Today was the first good day I’ve had so far this week.  I spent several hours in the ER trying to get my pain under control, but to no avail.  The pain was unbelievable, and they tried three different narcotics, including morphine.  I was at the point where I had to keep my tooth submerged in ice water at all times in order to get any relief from the pain.  I could go about 5 seconds at a time between dousing it.  Not long enough to get an x-ray at the dental clinic.  They got one, but I was shaking from the pain, and whimpering by the time she finished.  I cracked my tooth, and it got infected, and the infection spread to my ear and sinus cavity.  It took a while for me to notice the pain, then narrow down it’s location.

By the time I went in, it was too late.  But some good came of it.  For instance, my fear of going to the ER at the VA is broken now.  The nurses and doctors were all kind and professional.  I did see the employee that harassed me in the ER in the first place, but just in passing.  I didn’t have to sit in any waiting rooms, which helped a lot.  The nurse who is in charge of all the nurses in the ER took care of me as soon as I got there, and led me to a private room away from the noise.  She’s helped me before, and is astonishingly good at her job.  She told me over the phone that if any nurse ever upset me in the ER to let her know and she’d take care of it.  (That was when someone who wasn’t one of her nurses harassed me).

It’s startling to me how just a handful of nasty people can make a place that also has far more excellent people feel unsafe for me.  Logic would dictate that I would overlook the few, and only count those who are helpful.  I don’t like going anywhere when I’m vulnerable, let alone when I know there is at least one person there who despises me for having brown skin.  I know now that I’m not alone with this issue.  I’ve read about other WOC who have to deal with this problem, too.  It’s disgusting.  When someone is ill or injured, help them to the best of your ability, regardless of skin color.  Otherwise, you’re not a medical professional, you’re a bigot and a fraud.  And I will never again cower in the presence of hatred and ignorance.  Now that I know it’s not just me, I feel like it’s my duty to protect all WOC who are harassed when trying to seek medical care.  So if you pull this shit with me, expect the tongue lashing of your life, followed by a report to the Patient Care representative, which I will CC to the hospital administrator, your immediate supervisor, and several government organizations that can initiate inspections that involve your entire chain of command.

I know exactly how uncomfortable racist white people get when a black woman, who is clearly pissed off, decides to raise her voice and be heard by everyone, while she tells you off for being a hateful bigot.  That’s why we do it.  We know your sneaky ass only pulls this kind of shit when you have us alone, with no other witnesses.  We also know how to download an app that allows us to record everything said while we’re in your care.  So think twice before you mistreat us behind closed doors.  We’re going to use technology to even the playing field, and expose you hateful motherfuckers for what you really are, in front of those whose opinions matter to you.  That’s a promise.

So anyway, before I got all ranty, I noticed it’s National Poetry Day.  It got me thinking about Maya Angelou.  She was a personal hero of mine from childhood.  One of the things my Mom did right as the parent of an interracially adopted child, was to bring to my attention WOC who are amazing, and stand out.  She did this throughout my childhood.  Not only WOC, but women in general who were great.  A lot of them were authors.  Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Zora Neal Hurston, Ntozake Shange, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, etc.  I’m so glad she did this.  She had no idea how isolated I felt as the only black kid in my school district.  But by doing this, she let me know that my skin color and my gender were obstacles, but not barriers.  I wasn’t doomed, even though I sometimes felt like it.  My mom was awesome.

TV shows, like Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, The Cosby Show (ugh, I know), and even certain episodes of Little House on the Prairie with Todd Bridges, and a few others helped me feel less isolated.  I believed at first that having brown skin was extremely rare, until I started paying attention to TV.  My little sister was the only other black person I ever met until I was 12.  I guess it makes it easier for me to see some of the progress we’ve made as a nation regarding race issues.  I have memories of incidents that if they happened today, would result in viral shaming.  They don’t haunt me as often as an adult as they did when I was a kid.  I’m proud of the kids I went to school with, because they were genuinely decent people.  Some were assholes in elementary school, but I blame their parents for that.  I forgave them because they outgrew it by age 12.  They could have made my life a living hell, and they didn’t.

In my eyes, my city is far more diverse than when I was growing up.  But the numbers have gone from .1% to 1.4%, so it doesn’t really qualify to be called diverse here.  I remember how excited I got when I heard a man speaking fluent Spanish while checking out a customer at Hy-Vee.  Now I even see signs in both Spanish and English.  When I was a kid, the hispanic population in South Dakota was too low to count.  They put it at 0%.  It’s possible there were zero hispanic people living in the state at that time.  That’s changed.  We also have Asians who weren’t adopted by Caucasians now too.  When I was a kid, the only Asians I ever saw were also interracially adopted.  To me, that didn’t count.  Those of us who were adopted as infants by white families have the culture of the families that adopt us.  This is our native culture, and the only one we know, until we deliberately learn another.

Please don’t ask a POC about what you assume is their native culture until you’re sure it’s their native culture.  Most of the people you meet in America are Americans.  That’s the only assumption you can make without offending someone when in America.  I don’t know very many people who aren’t Americans.  But I love the ones I do know.  I have a particular fondness for people who can speak English.  And Canadians, because for most of my life, I truly believed being Canadian meant you were a nice person.  Now I only believe differently because I took Statistics at uni.  I’m still loopy from all the pain medication they pumped into me.  I felt giddy with joy today, because no pain, and I’m able to keep food down again.  Great reason to feel joyful.  I’m off to read.


Like us with Elaine.

I’m home again, and for a while this time.  I’m so over flying.  Doing it twice in as many days was too much stress, and I wasn’t able to sleep while in Denver.  I’m so sleepy.  But we have Match Game tonight, and I don’t want to miss it.  I had weed on Friday night with my nephew, and I can still feel the lack of constant anxiety nagging at me.  It’s nice, and I always forget how good it feels to be relaxed in my body.  When it first overtakes me, it’s like stepping into a soft, even shower where the water temperature is steady and perfect.  Then when I experience it again, it’s like a new discovery.  It’s weird, because when I’m home and don’t have access to weed, I don’t crave it, or even think about it.

I’m pretty much addiction proof when it comes to substances.  I figure it all evens out in the end.  I don’t like alcohol because it burns, or is bitter, or tastes nasty.  I don’t understand the concept of acquiring the taste of something that isn’t instantly delicious.  So I don’t drink coffee, either, but I love the smell of it.  I’m probably part of the reason people felt the need to declare themselves Foodies, and begin recruiting.  They find my lack of interest in food borderline offensive.  That probably shouldn’t amuse me.

It would suit me just fine to eat protein cubes and supplements, so long as they taste good.  I’ve spent hours sitting alone at the dining table, staring at food I refused to eat.  The fact that I never once gave in is something I consider an accomplishment.  My Mom was not easy to out stubborn.  I suspect by the time I came along, half my victories were guaranteed due solely to her sheer exhaustion from raising the 8 stubborn siblings that preceded me.  It still counts.

I feel like I’m in limbo, and when it passes, I’ll be faced with a lot of stress.  I want to be using this time to rest and get ready for the battle on the horizon, but so far I’ve been functioning from moment to moment.  It’s a dangerous place to linger, and I have a plan to snap out of it as soon as the sun goes down.  In the past, I’ve barely noticed when I was in this state.  Now I’m more aware of things that didn’t even matter to me a year ago.  I used to think knowing how I felt at a given moment was silly.  Now, I think I was just calling it silly to hide the fact that I didn’t know the words to describe how I felt most of the time.

I need to start restricting my thoughts to English only.  I’ve been thinking in a concise mashup of several languages for as long as I can remember, and it’s not compatible with communicating in real time with other people.  It certainly makes me anxious.  The time it takes to translate into words I’ve seen them use before is excruciating.  If I’m more comfortable with a person, I just let it go and say whatever I’m thinking.  I trust them to give me a chance to apologize if I step in it.  Strangers aren’t generally as forgiving.  It seem backwards to me, but since it’s working in my favor, I won’t overthink it.

Well, Poppy’s a little sloppy.

Today went well.  I got a lot done this morning at work, then came home for lunch and then therapy.  My nephew helped set up an obstacle course, and then took turns with one of my co-workers, trying to beat their personal best times.  And to think I was worried he’d be bored.  One thing I’ve noticed so far this week is how everyone has been on their best behavior at work.  Last week, one of the guys was made to work from home for a while, until his behavior issues don’t infringe on anyone else in the office.  He’s also starting therapy to help him transition to independence, and work on social skills.  It wasn’t openly discussed because the decision was made by his Dad.  Unlike an office full of neurotypical people, there was no whispering or gossip.

Instead, one of them basically announced that he planned to refrain from talking about women at work, because he thought it was at the root of what has been causing problems, and he doesn’t want to work from home, because he lives with his parents.  We all laughed, because we wouldn’t either.  In a year or so, we’ll all be living independently in Denver.  I’ll be going first, since it was my brilliant idea to move there in the first place.  This has come up a few times when we’ve talked about it.  Some of them want to try using weed to help with social interactions.  I’ve been the guinea pig so far.  It’s worked well for me with a particular hybrid strain.  I got the impression that they want me to try a wider variety to see if it has the same efficacy for me.  The problem with that is the fact that we’re all walking chemical reactions that vary from person to person.

I don’t want to experiment too much, because I may wind up ingesting a strain that doesn’t agree with my particular chemical makeup, and knowing me, that would impact my overall experience.  I’m not fond of alcoholic beverages, but there have been times when I’ve partaken of rum and Coke, and vodka and juice.  The results were meh.  I got sleepy and dehydrated.  It didn’t make my anxiety go away, and I just wanted to lay down.  I didn’t get whatever feeling people seek when drinking.  I felt sluggish, and that can be a trigger for me.  No positive effects whatsoever.  So I won’t bother again.  With the exception of cake, nothing I eat or drink makes me feel particularly happy.  I’m always up for cake, though.  Always.

One amusing thing I noticed about weed, is that it led me to think far more than necessary about insignificant things.  Like cake, for example.  The last time I visited Denver, I distinctly remember thinking about cake, and how I figure I like it so much because I haven’t gotten my fair share of it for an American of my age.  I can’t even type this with a straight face.  I reasoned that out since my Mom wouldn’t let us eat processed foods, refined sugar, and artificial flavors or colors, (especially Red #5).  We had healthy substitutions.  Like honey instead of sugar.  Carob instead of chocolate.  Raisins instead of candy.  If someone brought cake or cookies to school, I’d get an apple.  I know, right?  It sucked!  And kids being kids, they would smile at me while eating it, savoring every bite, and then ask how was my apple.

My Mom’s reasoning was that Steve and I were (misdiagnosed as), Hyperkinetic.  She put us on this special diet to counteract our naughty predilections.  Heather was just an innocent bystander who got royally screwed out of her share of cake.  In reality, Steve had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and of course I’m Autistic.  But I can totally understand why initially it was mistakenly applied.  We were naughty kids.  We didn’t do anything awful, because nothing awful occurred to us.  We lived in a small, safe community.  People’s attitudes were different when I was a kid, too.  If a neighbor saw you being naughty, they would correct you on the spot.  You could go home and tell your Mom all about it, and then watch her thank them for it, so telling was pointless.  We tended to steer clear of the yards where known spankers lived, because when we told our Mom that Mr. Gardner, (we thought that was his name because he was always gardening), spanked us for picking flowers in his yard, she said that if we didn’t like being spanked, then we shouldn’t misbehave.

The naughtiest thing we did was smoke a cigarette.  That was a huge big deal at that time, and we thought we were such badasses.  Oh yeah, I also accidentally stole some kite string from the drugstore once.  I went there to buy a kite and string, and picked up the string first, then laboriously agonized for a long time over which kite I wanted.  By the time I chose one, I was so used to clutching the string that I forgot to put it on the counter with my kite when I paid.  When I got about halfway home, I realized I stole it, and had a meltdown.  The worst part, was that I heard police sirens in the distance a second after I realized I robbed the store.  I was certain it was the police coming to take me to jail.  When I got home, my Mom went with me to pay for the string, and apologize.  I couldn’t settle down enough to apologize verbally, so I wrote a note of apology to the store owner.  That was an historically shitty day in my childhood.

After I went into the Army, my Mom’s special diet was history.  My entire first paycheck during basic training went to candy and hygiene items.  I got one of those huge bags of Twizzlers, some Spree, Sweet Tarts, Pixie Stix, and I forgot the name of that candy where you get a white dipping stick attached to pouches of colored sugar.  I thought that was brilliant.  All of them had refined sugar, artificial flavors/colors, and Red #5.  It turned out that Red #5 causes migraines, and eating that much sugar in a single day causes stomach cramps and rainbow vomit.  My buddy warned me a few times to give away the rest of the bag of candy.  As if.  So yeah… Being sick sucks, but being sick in basic training is a whole new level of suck.  I remember that as the worst migraine of my life, but I don’t know if I can trust my ability to assess such a thing while hopped up on that much sugar.  I still had to do KP, which felt so unfair to me at the time.  I was still a civilian mentally, and figured if I didn’t feel well, I should lay down and pamper myself until it passed.  I was mistaken.

There are a lot of deliberate levels of training going on in basic.  The skills you learn, the sleep deprivation, the bland diet, the mandatory relationship with your buddy, and the intimidation by your drill sergeants, to name some.  And that doesn’t even cover the brainwashing.  That brainwashing aspect was explained to me, and I agree it’s necessary, (at least for most).  They do it because it’s not natural for a human being to kill other human beings.  In WW1, it was a serious problem.  I’m sure some would be skeptical of it still being necessary, but I think it is.  It’s how they get us to shoot without thinking about it, or processing our actions emotionally in the heat of the moment.

It’s not a complicated process.  Chanting disturbing sayings in unison with your platoon repeatedly while jamming your bayonet into a dummy.  I remember one where the Drill Sergeant would shout, “What makes the grass grow?”  And we’d all shout back in unison, “The blood!  The blood!  The blood makes the grass grow!”  Disgusting, huh?  It bothered me at the time, and ever since.  It’s why I suspect it didn’t work on me.  I couldn’t find my war face, and I didn’t join in the hysteria.  Instead, I stood there bawling while all the other women in my platoon ripped the shit out of their dummies with their fixed bayonets.  Fortunately, it was too sweaty and frenzied for anyone to notice I wasn’t playing along properly.  It was scary to watch.  My brain doesn’t really know how to process watching a bunch of 18(ish)-year-old women behaving that way.

I don’t know why I’m thinking about all this now.  I sure seem to have strayed far from cake.  I suppose I’m still recovering from the past few days, and am still a bit melancholy.  I’m a pattern finder, so things that remind me of other things are in the same mental bin.  My bins are just organized by pattern instead of logic, so it seems like I’m off topic, but I’m not to me.  I’m also a little bit wigged out from listening to my nephew play a scary video game.  I’m such a doofus.  I can watch a horror movie if it’s muted.  But if the sound is on, movies like Ghostbusters scare me.  I remember seeing that at the theater with Steve, after he promised me it wouldn’t be scary.  Then right away, that horrible green ghost librarian pops out.  I turned to him and loudly accused, “You said this wasn’t going to be scary!”  Then the people around us who heard me started laughing.  I tried to play it off like I thought it was funny too, but I was so not amused.  And on that note, I’m going to locate my headset so my nephew can keep playing while I read.

Remembering Mom

Remembering Mom
As I remember my childhood, you were always around.
You struggled to reach me, but success was found.
Your gentle nudges, your constant support.
Your disbelief in a doctor's report.

You realized quickly that I am unique.
You refused to allow anyone to call me a freak.
You saw my potential, and encouraged me
to pursue my interests joyfully.

I acquired your mannerisms, and share your same wit.
With you, I felt useful. Not just some misfit.
It doesn't matter whether we share the same face.
Or that we're not even of the same race.

I am who I am, and I do what I do
because at three days old, I was brought home to you.
Even as a child, it was easy to see
that you were a wonderful mother to me.

Heather, Mom, me, Steve

(Left to right – Heather, Mom, me, Steve)