Military Memories

So much for sleeping tonight.  I went to bed and lay there for a few hours with my eyes closed.  Even my cat didn’t buy it.  She started walking on me, then licking my arm.  I thought only dogs did that.  It’s not a pleasant sensation.  It made me start laughing, and then there was no point in staying in bed.  It’s warming up and the wind died.  -6 F with no wind is no big deal.  We don’t get the wet cold like on the east coast.  The gym opens in about an hour.  I can feel the Depression Monster riding my back, telling me it’s too cold to walk over to the gym.  I won’t be cold for long.  When I finish running and walk back to my building, it’ll cool me off.  I’m hot blooded anyway.

The debate was fun to live tweet.  I have followers who support candidates other than Senator Sanders, so I read lots of opinions.  I love that people got so passionate about what they believe and what’s important to them.  Also, I refuse to write a person off as someone I can’t relate to based solely on different political views.  Most of the Trump supporters I read on Twitter are decent people who think he’d make a good president.  I disagree, but don’t find that a valid reason to hate someone.  I shed my blood, sweat, and tears for all the people of my nation, regardless of the fact that I was duped into serving in the first place.  It was a life experience that paid for itself in wisdom gained.  I don’t regret it in the least.  I went in an incredibly sheltered, and naive teenager.  I got out with a chronic mental illness (PTSD), a newfound confidence in my abilities, a world view, and a strong sense of personal accountability.  It was worth it.

I also learned how to make any activity fun.  I had a rough time adjusting to the military at first, because I asked too many questions, and made unsolicited suggestions.  I thought, “because we’ve always done it this way” was not a sufficient reason.  I got in trouble for thinking a lot too.  Whenever you get called out, and your reason is, “I thought it would be more efficient to do it this way”, or anything else that starts with, “I thought” or “I think”.  At first, I felt picked on, and unfairly treated when I’d get extra duty for these behaviors.  My childhood proclamation, “It’s not fair!” was pathetic in the Army.  It just made whoever I said it to laugh.  Which would make me angrier, rinse and repeat.  Finally, I decided I was going to act like I loved doing extra duty, thinking I was using reverse psychology on them, and they’d see me having fun, and not give me extra duty again.  Yes.  I am embarrassed to admit this.

So pretending to have fun somehow became actually having fun.  The acoustics in a military latrine are awesome.  When I had 14 days of extra duty once, there were 3 of us that got in trouble at that time.  We got caught racing vehicles in the back of the motor pool.  They were M113’s and it was a training unit, so it’s not like we were speeding.  It was an ironic race that began spontaneously as we were lining up vehicles.  And I have to say, it was so worth 14 days of extra duty.  I loved driving tracked vehicles.  So we started singing while we cleaned the latrine, and making up new words for songs that were currently popular.  We ended up laughing really hard, and having a good time.  We continued doing this for the whole 14 days, and were good friends by the time we finished.

We had a 1st SGT who had a thing about making sure whatever you did on extra duty was menial and a waste of time.  The latrine we scrubbed for 2 weeks was in barracks that were closed for destruction.  Other times, I had to dig deep square holes for the first week, and fill it back in for the second.  I guess the pointlessness was part of the punishment.  Eventually I got tired of being teased by my peers over getting in trouble, so I learned how to shut up and do it the traditional way, even if it was stupid.  I stopped making suggestions, and stopped playing with military equipment where I could be observed.  Instead, I started to volunteer for everything, and in doing so got to do a lot of really cool stuff.  I remember volunteering to go with the advance party to set up for a field problem in Fort Bliss.  We used a scoop loader to dig the bunker, which was super fun.  We also spent most of a day trying to disprove the theory that a Hum V can’t flip.  It totally can if you really set your mind to it.

We had to do some sand construction to make it happen, but we made it happen.  I also learned how intense manual labor can be incredibly satisfying.  When you work so hard that your legs shake, and you can’t lift your arms over your head, it feels awesome.

Dancing with depression

It’s ridiculously cold.  Last night, it dipped down to -15F with a windchill of -34F.  You’d think this would deter college students from hitting the clubs and returning afterward to hold loud conversations in the parking lot at 2AM.  Between that, and listening to drunken stair climbing, followed by door slams, I was annoyed.  I did manage to fall back asleep, though.  Mostly thanks to the Advil PM I took due to leg pain.  I hate when my insomnia catches up to me, and my legs start to hurt.  It feels like bone deep pain, and it’s a dull ache that keeps me awake.  I think it’s my legs telling me that they’ve had enough, and they’re going to sleep regardless of what shenanigans I’m engaging in.

I’ve been paying attention to the weather in Denver.  It’s really mild there.  I’ll be able to run outside year round.  They have a lot more races there too.  While I have no desire to run a marathon ever, I do like 10K and 15K races.  In my case, I think running a marathon would have long term consequences.  It’s not something I’ll put my body through.  It would alter my body chemistry in a major way, and I can’t afford that with PTSD.  My body is too sensitive.  Surgery has this poor effect on me, too.  Fortunately, the only surgery I foresee in my future is implantation of some sort of device that aids in maintaining the ideal body chemistry.  Once it’s invented and made available, anyway.

I’ve avoided weighing myself for weeks now.  I can tell I’m too low by how much clothes fit, but I guess I’m running with denial for now.  My appetite is low to non-existent.  Every so often, I have intense protein cravings, though.  I hate that it’s such an interruption.  I just want to work on my projects without being interrupted.  I’ll have to think about this, and find a new plan.  I’m starting OT again next week.  I’ll be focusing on food prep and adding variety to my diet.  I was upset about it, but I talked to a friend, and now I recognize it’s for the best.  When I move, we’ll reassess if it’s necessary to continue there.  I can feel a steady, constant anxiety in relation to moving.  In my mind, I waiver on it every day.

I think I’ll start with visiting there, and increase the length of my stays until I’m there more than here.  I know if I move my cat there, it’ll get me to stay there.  That and the inconvenience of traveling.  I can tell it’s low level stressing me out already.  I’m not set to move until August.  I’m an overachiever when it comes to needless worry.  There is some intangible sense that accepts a new space as home.  When I was in the Army, I had a confident grip on that sense, and could resettle in a few days without feeling displaced.  I think I need to focus on getting rid of a lot of my stuff.  I hope that by August, I am rid of about 80% of my stuff.  I’ll photograph a lot of stuff I like, but don’t want the burden of owning.  That will help tremendously.  Owning too much stuff is stressful.  Especially when I know there are others who would treasure many of the things I neglect.

When I was a kid, my mom would have an annual purge of toys and clothes.  We would get to choose 2 things we wanted to keep, and the rest was given away.  It involved a lot of crying at first, but we always managed.  The Army reinforced this by teaching that you should never own more than you can carry.  As adults, it’s interesting to see how this affected us.  Heather became a hoarder who couldn’t part with anything, no matter it’s condition.  Steve used to move a lot, and leave most of his shit behind.  Guy is a minimalist who favors black and white decor.  My oldest brother is a nomad.  My oldest sister likes large, luxurious things.  And then there’s me.  I guess I focus on lots of open space so I can run around, pace, and play with my cat.

I’m most deliberate about my bed, because I’m always at war with sleep.  I make it as inviting as possible, choosing soft linens, etc.  I wish it worked.  The rest of my space is about my interests.  In Denver, it’ll be set up according to activity, with lots of cabinets and drawers to keep everything in it’s place.  One of the perks to having master cabinet builders for nephews.  The lighting will be soft, so that alone will make it more livable for me.  Lighting is so important to me.  I wish those buzzing fluorescent overhead lamps were outlawed.  I still have nightmares about them from primary school.  Whoever decided on the format for classrooms is an asshole.  It’s certainly not conducive to learning, regardless of neurodiversity.  The groups are too large, and the students aren’t even involved.  I’m hoping VR glasses are something I can tolerate.  I know I’ll be taking them apart and reverse engineering an alternative that will accommodate my glasses.  I’m off to clean.

J. K. Rowling

J_K__Rowling

I just finished reading A Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling.  I had no expectations going in, as I was so anxious to read another of her books that I didn’t even read the description.  I knew I was in for more of her brilliant magic.  I wasn’t disappointed.  No dragons, witches, wizards, or villains with unspeakable names this time.  This was her proving grounds.  It reinforced my decision to favor her writing over Charles Dickens.  I dove right in, and forgot Harry Potter existed while I read.  It moved at a nice pace, as this new world grew, and became colorful and detailed.  If I was going to be a writer, I’d study this book intensely.  It makes me want to know what J. K. Rowling enjoys reading.

It’s an adult novel.  It’s going to become a classic.  It’s incredibly layered.  I’m not ashamed to admit that for me to get as much as I can from the story, I’ll need to reread it a few times.  It’s worthy of being studied.  It reminds me of Mary Poppins’ bag.  It looks like any other bag from the outside, but when she reaches in and pulls out a tall hat stand, you totally want to look inside and see what other unexpected wonders it holds.  I’m greatly impressed by this authors talent.  It’s been a long time since I felt awed by a book.  Part of me wants to dive back in and start over.  I’m impatient, and I know I missed things.  But I need time to think about all the characters, and the things that happened.

Tired puppy.

I think I’ve recovered from my Denver vacation.  Well, almost.  Once I am able to sleep again, I’ll be there.  Anytime I break my schedule, it takes a toll on me.  I think I’m recovering faster, though.  Today has been surreal.  There’s a guy who lives down the hall from me.  He’s autistic, and lives with his Mom.  He’s always been kind to me when we’ve shared an elevator, or passed in the hall.  He invited me to come to his place once, but I declined.  He knocked on my door today after I came back from getting my mail.  I walk past his door, so he probably saw me.  I answered, and he asked if I wanted to visit again.  I said no.  Then I told him that I think he’s a nice person, but I wasn’t interested in going inside his apartment.  He didn’t respond for a bit, then asked if I wanted to go to the community room.

I thought about it, and said no.  Then I asked if he wanted to go to the theater room and watch a movie instead.  He said yes, and then ran down the hall to tell his Mom.  I grabbed my new Harry Potter collection, then put it back, and picked Howl’s Moving Castle instead.  I don’t want anyone to watch Harry Potter with me, because even if they say they won’t talk, they do.  He came back a few minutes later, and we went to the theater room to watch.  It was around 33 F, which is like a heat wave compared to the last 4 days.  He talked several times during the movie.  I didn’t mind because I’ve seen it several times.  Afterward, we walked back to our building, and I said goodbye, and started to walk to my door.  I got about 10 feet, then I heard him running to catch up.  He said he wanted to walk me to my door.  I think his Mom told him to do this.  When we got to my door, I unlocked it and opened it, and my cat was at the door like usual.  She ran away as soon as she realized I wasn’t alone.  I said bye and closed the door and locked it.  Then I thought about how it must have been obvious to his Mom that I’m autistic too.  I supposed parents of autistics can tell.  She’s always kind with me as well.

I have my annual shrink appointment next Friday. While I see it as only necessary to continue getting my Prozac, I have to admit, my shrink is a good one.  He has private practice, plus his VA position.  He’s open about being a Christian, even though it’s technically frowned upon for the VA staff to question me about my beliefs.  He asks me about my spiritual health, along with my mental and physical health each time we meet.  I talked to him about it a few times.  The first time, I told him I was an atheist.  I thought it was true at that time, plus I expected my response to end the topic.  The next time, I told him about encountering atheists online, and how I didn’t understand why so many were proud of being atheist, and thought their declaration meant they had superior intelligence to those who believed in God.

I went on to relate how I’d seen people who enjoyed baiting those who were proud of their religion by asking them to prove their God exists, and implying that anyone who believed was a fool.  I thought it was bizarre, and told him it reminded me of racism.  He asked me if I still thought I was an atheist.  I said no, that I was agnostic.  He asked me what that meant to me.  I remember feeling glad that he was basically saying I get to decide the definition.  I told him that I wasn’t sure yet, and that reading the bible is what led to my agnosticism in the first place.  I said I think agnosticism could be temporary.  It could be that I haven’t read or heard or experienced the something that will lead me to belief yet.  I added that I listen, and pay attention to people who show me their faith through their behaviors, choices, and lives.  I added that he’s one of the people I pay attention to in that respect.  My sister is another.  There are a few online, too.  It was a good appointment, and I left feeling understood.

I think a person’s beliefs are incredibly personal.  I don’t like extremists because they too often believe their faith is more important than the lives of other people.  I don’t like it when people use religion, or the lack thereof, to justify offending others.  I don’t think hurting people on purpose is funny, or cool, or indicative of superior intellect.  I think it’s being insecure loudly.  Most who believe are not extremists.  Most of the people I’ve encountered so far, whom I’ve known to be religious, were striving to be better people.  I think that’s awesome.  It’s not restricted to religion, of course.  I just can’t stomach hating on someone for being different than me, but harming no one.

You should tell your kids that they’re autistic.

Chavisory's Notebook

How hard it is to say what it was like
in the thick of thickets in a wood so dense and gnarled
the very thought of it renews my panic.
It is bitter almost as death itself is bitter.
But to rehearse the good it also brought me,
I will speak about the other things I saw there.  (Dante’s Inferno)

I’ve seen this passage quoted before by others in order to explain what it’s like to grow up autistic and not knowing.  It’s still by far the best explanation of that feeling I’ve ever read.

For Autistics Speaking Day this year, I want to say something unequivocally.  And it’s incredibly rare that I feel qualified to just tell other people what they should do, but—if you are an autism parent—

Please tell your kids that they’re autistic.

Or have autism.  Or Asperger’s Syndrome.  Or are on the spectrum. …

View original post 1,498 more words

HegeMom

I’ve been thinking a lot about America of late.  One thing that I believe about my homeland is that overall, we’re kind, generous, hard working, and we share many basic values.  This is true of humanity as a whole in my opinion.  Most of us want to be able to spend our lives in the company of the people we enjoy, (or not), while pursuing our passions.  We all have things we’re passionate about.  We may share about them with anyone and everyone we encounter.  Or it might be something private and done in isolation that fuels you.  And everything in between.

I’m passionate about computers.  I put forth great effort at all times to refrain from speaking about them to other people.  The desire is there.  Unfortunately, few people I encounter on a regular basis are interested.  Some people humor me.  Thanks.  But life (and by life I mean occupational therapy), taught me how to detect whether or not the person I’m speaking with is interested in my topic.  It was difficult to master.  In fact for a while, I gave up on talking to anyone about computers, because it seemed like I was the only person who finds them fascinating.  That sucked.  So I went back to working on detecting interest.  I’m still working on it.

I think there are few Americans who when alone, discover another human who is vulnerable, and in need of their immediate assistance, and instead of helping, turn and walk away, (or worse).  I think they’re a small minority who have no compassion for another life.  I hope.  It’s hard to gauge.  I think most Americans would help whoever they encountered that needed them.  I don’t think they would refrain to assist over things such as sexual identity, gender, skin color, religion, disability, etc.  I think it wouldn’t matter in the moment, and they would set aside their fear, and rise to the occasion to the best of their ability.  I want this to be true.  I need this to be true.

I know there are people in my country who despise me on sight for being black, autistic, female, and dressing like a nerd on Garanimals.  I can sometimes tell which parts of me they find so offensive in that initial momentary gaze.  I’ve met some people like this on my journey so far.  Racists make me want to disappear at first.  Then later I rage at myself for having such an ableist reaction.  It’s unsettling.  But I think what has struck me hardest is the fact that it’s really fear.  This epiphany has tempered how I react to blatant racism.  When I think to myself, “Wow, I scared the shit out of that guy!”, instead of, “I hope you die in a fire, you racist piece of shit!”, you can see that it’s a pretty good attitude adjustment.  One that leaves the door open for that guy to realize being a racist is wrong.

That guy would likely help me get my shoe unstuck from the railroad while a train is coming.  Even though he hates “them colored folk”.  I’ve always held strongly that people can say whatever they want to me, and how I choose to react will be based on whether or not I detect malice in their words.  If I think they said an awful thing because saying awful things can be funny sometimes, then I’ll probably laugh.  If I think they said it because they meant it, then hid it behind a neutral to positive emoji, I’m going to come back to them for clarification, reaction pending.  Might be an asshole.  Might be ignorant.  Probably both.  No reaction.  But if someone says something to me, and I’m sure they’ve said it with malice, then there’s a good chance I’m coming back mean.  Not overboard, shatter your world mean.  Intentional mean that I think you can handle without crying.

I don’t like conflict, but I’m not afraid of it.  I notice things to the point of being weird, so when it comes to verbal conflict, I can pack a hefty punch if I’ve observed for a bit.  I firmly believe that insulting the content of someone’s character in retaliation to malice is fair game.  But insulting something that they have no control over is kind of the definition of asshole.  I red card that mess.  I think others who come from large families know what I mean when I say we tend to go through life expecting things to be divided equally and fairly between everyone.  So much of our childhoods were spent hovering over a knife while Mom cut a candybar into equal portions so that everyone got the same amount, and WWIII was again avoided.  It’s hard to let go of a law that was absolute in my formative years.

I guess I was raised in a social monarchy, so I’m a natural social democracy supporter.  I think deep down, it’s a human trait.  I like nice things.  But not when my having nice things means someone else gets none.  I’d rather we both have nice things, or both have kind of nice things.  Or even both have nothing.  I feel connected to society when I get my fair share, and sacrifice my fair share.  I feel a sense of rightness about it.  It’s peace.  And much like many parents of multiple children state repeatedly, if you can’t share and play nice, you can’t play at all.  I want this to be a universal law.  I think it would make the world better for humans.  Also, I think if my Mom ran the world, Palestine and Israel would both be somewhere else, and the entire concept of holy land would become a forbidden topic, as well as a quick way to find yourself in bed with no dinner, Missy!  Or something.

Wakefulness

I’ve had a busy few days.  I set up my new guitar, and had a blast playing the shit out of it.  One thing they don’t mention about women who play string instruments;  we keep our hands moisturized, so the calluses from playing don’t get as tough as say, a lead guitarist in a touring rock band.  For me, it’s habit.  I would have dry skin if I wasn’t an avid user of moisturizers.  It’s been part of my routine since I was a child.  It would be less painful to play for hours at a time if I allowed my fingertips to become hardened by permanent calluses.  But that won’t be happening.  Just typing this has resulted in my getting up to moisturize my hands.  Back with soft hands.

My cat has decided she’d like to help with the rest of this post.  As soon as she gets done knocking everything off my desk.  Ooh, she left the mouse alone.  Okay, she’s settled in my lap.  The Cable Guy is on.  This is such an underrated movie.  I love it.  It’s dark humor, well acted.  Jim Carrey really commits.  It’s not Big, but it’s still good.  Almost Groundhog Day good.  I’ve been wanting to watch some anime today.  Not the Studio Ghibli stuff.  Maybe Keano’s Journey, or Mushi-Shi.  Then perhaps I’ll work on a new song.  I’ve slept well for 2 consecutive nights.  It’s nice.  I didn’t have to start over a single time in the shower.  So this is awake… I quite like it.

I have a friend on Twitter who’s cool about answering some questions that have been floating around in my mind.  I was so relieved.  I didn’t think it through fully, however.  I asked a few questions, and she answered both well.  Her answers also answered questions I hadn’t asked.  Bonus.  I pondered the new information.  Again, relieved.  There are so many things I’ve heard or read that I don’t understand as fully as one would expect, based on the amount of knowledge I’ve collected.  It’s not that I don’t pay attention.  I do.  I just store unknowns until I can do some research.  The problem is that when I do my research, I get sidetracked.  The internet is as great a tool as it is a distraction.  So some things, usually the ones I’ve read but never heard, get low priority in triage.

Therefore, there are words I’ve read, that I don’t know how to pronounce, and sometimes have nothing more than a clue about it’s meaning.  An example that shows up in my nightmares often is when an MP asked me if I was forcibly sodomized.  I understood forcibly.  I had read the word sodomy before.  In the bible.  But bible didn’t define it.  I got from the bible a negative connotation.  That was the only time it ever came up.  I melted because I couldn’t answer the question, had wicked jet-lag, and just wanted my Mom.  I was having my second worst life experience, the first being when I visited Dachau.  It was when I first realized how vulnerable I am.  I want to say, was.  But typing about it has made my mind begin to go numb.

I have more questions for my friend.  I’ll ask later or tomorrow.  Depending on if the sleep streak continues.  My phone will be here soon.  My former phone was located in my nephews sofa, between the cushions.  I told him to hang on to it.  I’ll remove it from my present contract.  I’ll use it when I move.  I’ll have to find out which company is good in Denver.  I’m looking forward to having more options.  I’m going to go run before all the resolutionists show up and hog the treadmills.

2016 begins

I picked up my car today.  Amazing how easy it was to put off.  I hate driving.  I went as soon as it got light outside, and found it quickly.  It had over a foot of snow on it, but finding it in daylight proved simple.  Cleaning the snow off was painful as I didn’t bring gloves, and have no scraper.  So I improvised with some microfiber towels in my trunk.  My fingers were burning when I finished.  The taxi service who drove me to the airport was interesting.  They didn’t get my online reservation, so it’s a good thing I called to verify.  The guy picked me up quickly, but took another call while driving me.  He put it on speaker, but was writing down the information with a pen and paper.  We were all over the road while this went on.

I was sitting in the front seat, so I got a good view of the swerving.  Then he told me he’d been driving since last night.  I suppose picking up revelers.  Fortunately, the rest of the ride was fine.  He offered to drive me around inside the parking lot, but I declined.  He only charged me $20, too, which was nice.  Next week, I’ll take my car to get cleaned, and tuned up.  I also payed my bills and did some vacuuming.  Pretty productive for prior to noon.  I’m going to chill and watch a movie soon.  My hands still feel a little sore from warming up.  I turned on my heated seat and sat on my hands between snow scraping sessions.  I’m glad I retrieved it, but I don’t plan on going anywhere for the next few days.

I think I’ll work on designing a Star Wars quilt with the material I ordered.  I’m thinking of doing a design where it’s Star Wars on one side, and solid on the other.  I’d like to find a cobalt blue fabric.  I’ve seen the movie twice now.  Still love it.  My thoughts after were more about what’s going to happen next.  Disney will wring every possible penny of profit from the franchise, so there will be several more episodes if my guess is right.  If they manage to keep J. J. Abrams on board, it’ll be nice.  I’m overtired.  I should probably order a scraper while my fingers still hurt so I don’t forget.  I need to order a new phone, too.  And a guitar strap.  I think that’s it.  I’m off to Amazon.