“The gloves, the mask, it’s a whole production.”

women in animal masks

I had an interesting conversation with M, recently.  He wanted to understand why I was disappointed when a stranger figured out I’m autistic after dining with us.  He suggested I may be ashamed of being autistic.  I thought about it and attempted to explain the concept of masking.  It’s not about shame; it’s pragmatism.

The ability to mask my autism from strangers is a skill I’ve honed over the course of my life.  It’s necessary for survival.  It’s not something used only by people with autism, either.  People with mental illnesses also recognize the need to mask.  Mental health providers at the VA suggest it; a psychologist jokingly instructed me not to get caught talking to myself in the hallways of the VA.  😶 I figure it’s a common practice among most invisibly disabled people.

I also mastered the ability to mask my depression in the process.  The same psychologist I mentioned above was annoyingly surprised when my mask slipped, and she suddenly believed I was depressed for the first time.  I remember thinking to myself how much easier it is to hide depression from mental health providers than nearly anyone else.  They’re trained to look for specific symptoms, which I choose to regard as convenient for me.  (You can’t be black and disabled at the Sioux Falls VA without handcuffs and leg shackles, so naturally, I roll with being black while wearing a shrink-proof mask.)

rabbit masked man

People with visible physical disabilities can’t mask but have the perquisite of being perceived as disabled on sight.  (I doubt they consider it a privilege, though.)  I’ve had decades of trial and error to figure out which behaviors attract ridicule and bullying.  It’s not easy to overcome my nature whenever I’m around people, though.  In fact, it’s exhausting.

 

I stifle the behaviors and motions I’ve identified as unsafe in the company of others.  I try to be invisible at those times.  I suck at remaining still, even though I know it would be helpful.  To compensate, I mastered the ability to rock minutely.  I do it slowly, and limit my range of motion to a few inches in each direction, while visualizing a gear system amplifying the efforts of my tiny movement.

Sadly, I’m fully aware I tend to rock more vigorously when my anxiety increases.  I stop when I realize.  I hate that I often catch myself when some asshole imitates me to amuse others.  Naturally, I’ve also mastered the ability to present both birds at half-mast 3 inches from the face of the asshole mentioned above, while looking unamused.  I consider it a public service.  You’re welcome.  🙃

man in rabbit mask

Thankfully, the human brain can help shelter us a bit from the disturbing lack of empathy in strangers.  Dissociation is another skill when forced to endure extreme discomfort while in public.  Sometimes, it’s all I can do to keep from screaming:  Like when the clock is ticking so sharply, and the person beside me breathes loudly through a congested nose.  Or the overhead lights are buzzing and too bright, the tv is too loud, and the wool fabric on the chair is scratchy on the backs of my arms, while my left shoe is tied more tightly than my right.  And the perfume, my god, the perfume!  /scream

I’m not ashamed of being autistic.  I’m too busy tweaking my ability to pass as typical and well adjusted to waste time feeling sorry for myself.  😂 Plus, there are a gazillion other things I’d much rather do.  Like playing Bach’s E major Partita on violin for some random, yet surprisingly attentive cows, while sitting on the fence in a soggy field.  It’s what I’m off to do now.  ✌🏽

“If you named a kid Rasputin, do you think that would have a negative effect on his life?”

Content warning:  suicide, change

Kickapoo indigenous American woman

 

We lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.  Many of us are feeling the tremor in The Force.  The American Fairytale broke.  Our adolescent nation is enduring the agonizing transition from child to adult.  She’s reeling as she’s forced to change against her will.  The strategies that used to work are unraveling and failing.  Words like accountability, consequences, and future haunt her sleep.

She’s teetering between self-destruction and an unknown future.  The fear is paralyzing.  We all feel it.  It’s like gravity slowly increased when we weren’t paying attention.  The low-level hysteria we’re all carrying around, as a result, fills us with an unfamiliar feeling.  We’re Americans.  We believe The American Fairytale.  We have expectations and ideals.  Violations of our rights shock and traumatize us.  The Fairytale doesn’t include (or allow for) such things.

There’s probably a word for this feeling in German.  It’s uncomfortable.  It siphons our energy.  We’re not sleeping well because there haven’t been any breaks to catch our collective breath.  Every day, things are a little bit heavier.  We think we know what needs to happen, but we’ve lost faith in our team.  We don’t believe in Team America as much.  The horrific wounds from fighting each other are still too raw.

little pigs getting along

Change is scary.  Every time.  We’re too intelligent as a species to trust the unknown easily.  We only need to get burned once to make the connection.  We know we as Americans have something in common deep down.  We have that spark inside us that believes knows we can do incredible things as a people.  We have receipts all over the place.  We’re vast and different, and we know it.  It makes us unbelievably strong.

When you zoom in, there’s always pettiness in groups.  But zoom out, and you quickly realize we’re a little bit of everything.  We can’t help but be a bit arrogant, knowing many others also believe but aren’t American.  We know we’re fortunate in the big picture.  At least, we used to know this.  Now, we’re not sure anymore.  We’re starting to recognize this spark exists in every nation.  We’re feeling all the feels so often we’re exhausted.  So we teeter within our teenaged homeland.

Self-destruction, or unknown change.  The answer seems evident until you zoom in.  We want everyone else to change, except us.  We still want to hold tightly to the hate we’re so used to carrying.  We can’t imagine life without it.  It’s hard.  It requires practice, which means often failing.  Failing hurts.  Every time.  It sucks, and we’re so tired of aching.  But we can’t sleep well, so it never seems to go away.  Sigh.

I happen to be an expert on coping with this shitty status quo Americans are experiencing.  I’m far from alone in this skill, and in good company.  This unnamed dreadful feeling weighing you down is my typical.  While I do feel this present heaviness of being American too, it’s familiar ground for me.  I live here.  I wish I could say there are all sorts of steps you can take to get some relief.  Unfortunately, there’s just one:  Practice.

Practice being tolerant of everyone you encounter.  Treat others as you want them to treat you.  It doesn’t matter how they’re different than you.  They’re alive.  That means they have feelings, dreams, hopes, ideals, etc.  Sometimes they’re not going to reciprocate.  That doesn’t matter.  Walk away.  It’s their problem.  You’re doing your part to change.  You rock.  Change over self-destruction.  Let’s make our spark glow.

“Elaine, bald men with no jobs, and no money, who live with their parents, don’t approach strange women.”

running

My body is changing.  The new workout regime has made me stronger quickly.  I didn’t realize it would affect the way I move.  I’m far less clumsy and more conscious of my body, even when not focusing on it.  My motions are fluid instead of choppy.  I take breaks to stretch throughout the day.  The signals my system sends when I need to eat or drink are getting through consistently.

I feel almost giddy when thinking about how quickly it’s happening.  I’m on the cusp of making another change.  I’ve given it lots of thought, and I’ve decided I’m not going to run anymore.  Instead, I’m going to walk.  I often mention I’m quite literal.  Sometimes, it’s best to strategize accordingly.  So I’m going to slow down.  I have Hypokalemia.  A month ago, I was dehydrated most of the time because the thirst signal rarely got through.

It meant often awakening in the wee hours with a charlie horse in a hamstring or calf.  It’s a shitty way to wake up.  I usually manage to work it out within a few minutes, but by then I’m sweating and almost crying.  When I was in uni, I got one in my hamstring while in the middle of an exam, once.  I managed to work it out without attracting attention, but not without a few tears.  That moment shows up in my nightmares, sometimes.  🤪

I’m walking around with the anticipation of both Beyoncé and Fleetwood Mac concerts in the future.  It’s a lot like skipping.  I’m regaining control over my attention span, which rocks.  I can watch TV again.  I caught up on The Big Bang Theory.  I still love it.  Chuck Lorre is a master at creating loveable, engaging characters.  The casting is superb as well.  You can tell the actors have the creative freedom to give their role dimension.

head rub

I forgive Rosanne.  My gut insisted.  Bill Marr pointed out the fact she’s mentally ill.  She’s not preventing her symptoms from harming others.  It’s a responsibility of all adults, but sometimes we fail at adulting.  It’s kind of why it’s a thing.  Most of us are trying our hardest to maintain, but we all struggle at some point.  Instead of being hurt by what she already said, I choose to hope she doesn’t repeat her mistake.  My gut,  my rules.  🙃

I cut off all my hair, today.  I’m catching up to Willow Smith.  💪🏽  I love that old soul.  Now that I’m working out for real, it’s become a hygiene issue because my hair is ridic thick.  The necessary daily hair washing only works when my hair is barely there.  Fortunately, I have a lovely shaped head (according to my mom.)  The bonuses include built-in air conditioning during the hottest summer on record, a drastic reduction in hair care product use, and my new favorite stim;  rubbing my head.  Yay.  I’m off to beat my drums with sticks.

 

“What was my father doing with a man in a cape?”

woman playing driving video game

It’s breezy today.  I like it.  A nice respite from too hot to go outside.  We didn’t have any band practice this weekend, so I’ve been bonding with my Playstation 4 and Xbox One.  (Not the Xbox One S, sigh.)  M still hasn’t let me try his new Xbox One X.  😂  The Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed franchises aren’t for me.  Forza 7 looks fabulous, but I’m the worst at driving games.  If the object were to go the wrong direction and damage the car as much as possible, I’d rule, though.  🤭

I stick to puzzle games and pinball, mostly.  I’m getting good at pinball, (but I think my rank is in the mid 200’s on my best table.)  Not screenshot-worthy, yet.  Heh.  I’m enjoying Unmechanical, and Southpark:  The Stick of Truth today.  (Hearing Cartman drop F-bombs cracks me up.)  I tried one of M’s horror games on the PlayStation VR, yesterday.  It triggered a lot of ideas regarding VR’s potential.  (It also scared me so much I shook for a while after quitting.)

I’m low-level stressing out because I suspect M paid far more for my birthday gift than I his.  Something within me needs it to be even.  I know I need to talk about it with him, but I’m not looking forward to it.  I hate defending an irrational stance based on a gut feeling.  There’s a 99.99% chance I’ll bear a smirk against my will the entire time I present my case.  (Dammit, Face!  Do what I command!)

I can never play Spades, Poker, or the like.  At least not if the goal is to win.  I can think of at least two people who are still pissed off at me for accidentally reneging in Spades in the 90’s.  I think it might be an autism thing.  For me, it takes all available resources to mask enough to be at the table with multiple people in the first place.  Be amazed I only did it once and didn’t cut, don’t you know.  💪🏽  But I accept it’s not for me.  Now.  🙃

people gambling

 

I think I’m going to get M some new headphones.  There are a few by Focal I know he’d love.  Massdrop has three colorways available, but the black ones look incredible.  But my stomach hurts, so I think I’d better plead my pathetic case first, and talk to him.  (I keep my conscience in my gut, I guess.)  No wonder it tends to get more significant as we age.  😂

I can’t get enough of Solo by Clean Bandit ft. Demi Lovato.  I woke myself up from singing it in my sleep this morning.  Yep.  That’s me in the dictionary next to the word, doof.  👍🏽  In my defense, it’s a pleasant way to awaken.  Also, I love Demi Lovato.  (She’s a mental health advocate, too.)  I heard the Maroon 5 song with Cardi B earlier.  I was about to get mad when she finally started rapping.  If you’re going to ride her fame rocket for a boost, bring her in right away.  That’s all I’m saying.  🙃  I’m off to play Skylanders.

 

“Maybe his dogs heard about how you tried to kidnap that other dog.”

kids playing

Some things.  While pulling an unbelievably tasteless publicity stunt, throwing shade on the memory of our beloved Queen, Whitney Houston, Kanye West died of thirst (in my world.)  His epitaph:  Kanye West Didn’t Care About Black People.  Rest in Peace just rest.  Also;  Rosanne who?  Further, it’s disturbing these stories got far more news coverage than the approximately 4,645 American people who died in Puerto Rico during the aftermath of hurricane Maria, under 45’s blatant incompetence.

Welcome to America, where Teen Vogue is a remarkably more accurate and trustworthy source of news than Fox News.  By a long shot.  I mean, holy shit.  One of these kids is doing its own thing.  Come on, can you tell which one?  (Remember when Sesame Street taught us noticing the weird kid was a fun game? 🤫)

Finally, I think it’s time to bring back the FCC Fairness Doctrine, after reasonable updates to reflect the times.  Especially for the Big Four networks, and all over-the-air stations.  I think it’s time to make enforcement of the revised document mandatory, too.  Fox News makes it necessary.  I’m hoping some most excellent attorneys figure out how to sue the shit out of Rupert Murdoch and his evil company to get things rolling on that.

My gig went well.  I think I finally understand why people seek fame.  I’ve never paid attention to an audience when performing in the past.  I noticed the likes are far more impressive in person than online.  So much, I can see how they could be considered addictive.  Fame wouldn’t touch me with a 10-foot pole, but I’m glad to realize the appeal.  I usually want to know the why about things.  I’m off to see a lizard (nature documentary.)  ✌🏽