“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.  ✌🏽

“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.

 

“Why can’t you be like that Lloyd Braun?”

road trip

I’m still paying off the debt to my body for eating like I don’t understand how consequences work.  I feel like my neurons are communicating via dial-up when I’m used to gigabit speeds.  The signals get there eventually, but I’m so exasperated and clumsy in the meantime.  I’d love to share about how executive function is involved, and the importance of eating wisely, but it’s not happening today.

I’m supposed to leave for my sisters’ place in a few days, but I have no idea if it will happen.  I can’t predict that far in advance how I’ll be feeling with any accuracy.  Thinking ahead requires too much bandwidth.  Driving for roughly five hours in a row is a challenge for me when I’m functioning at my best.  I’ve pulled it off a few times, but I’ve always been in awe of myself for a bit afterward.

Driving requires a lot of focus.  It’s hard for me to allocate that much of my attention on a task that doesn’t interest me.  It’s similar to being overtired and trying to pull an all-nighter anyway.  I have to remind myself every few moments to pay attention.  On top of that, I live on the prairie.  It’s flat and monotonous.  I sing with my system blaring until I hit a city.  Then fear of collision takes over, and it’s all good.

I’ve driven around Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska so far.  I tried a guided bus tour years ago, but it was to Deadwood, SD.  It sucked.  It’s only a fun town if you’re into gambling, (and even then fun might be a stretch.)  I don’t gamble.  (Gambling and lottery tickets are topics that raise my blood pressure.  I blame statistics.)  Traveling with strangers from an elder generation wasn’t fun, either.  (I strongly suspect my presence made them tired.)

prairie

The weather is perfect today.  It’s 62° F and sunny.  I’d love to go for a run, but I can’t trust myself to stick to my route yet.  When my brain is in this state, I’m extremely likely to keep going, and then eventually realize I don’t recognize my surroundings.  I hate when that happens.  I rely more on my sense of smell than any weather apps when it comes to rain.  I was once caught out in a lightning storm, but at least there wasn’t any thunder, (it levels me.)  Sigh.  Not today.

I dumped DirecTV Now and went back to PlayStation Vue.  It’s only $4 more per month, and it doesn’t suck.  I got tired of the buffering, and crappy picture before my introductory offer with DirecTV Now ended.  It also took more bandwidth than PlayStation Vue for a less reliable, sad result.  I can use picture-in-picture on my iPad Pro to have live TV or my DVR shows play while I use another app simultaneously with PlayStation Vue’s app.  I like the user interface on my Roku, too.

I dumped them because they raised the price, but after trying some competitors, I’m back, baby.  I think the channel line-up for the basic tier is better, too.  I hope M doesn’t look at the available offerings (for more money) and see all the games he could be watching.  I’ll probably end up upgrading out of guilt.  (I suck at feigning interest in sports.)  The DVR in the cloud rules, too.  Yay, Sony.  How about lowering the price of the PlayStation 4 Pro, eh?  $350 is more reasonable now that the Xbox One X is out (and no drop date for PlayStation 5.)  I’m just saying.  😀💜

“Death is number two!”

garbage or junk food

A letter to future me:  Please read this whenever you think perhaps you can get away with it just this one time.  You cannot. You cannot get away with it.  You’ve forgotten the consequences because it’s been so long since you last attempted this foolishness.  Stop it right now.  Read the whine-fest below, and remember where it leads.  Dammit.

I’m a strong woman.  Sometimes I make poor decisions and regret them later.  Apparently, I’m also a bit of a sadist, because I’ve made this particular error repeatedly.  I know better.  I guess I forgot I’m autistic and have PTSD or something.  Oops.  Tut tut.  There are rules.  I can’t eat garbage without paying a hefty price. It’s due to consequences that usually take at least a week to resolve entirely, and sometimes far longer.

The universe is laughing at me.  (Not the fun kind you can join.)  I put the wrong fuel in my body, and now it’s acting up.  I need a priorities intervention, stat.  I get tempted by junk food every so often, and instead of analyzing why, I give in and indulge.  I need that data because the results are once again kicking my ass.  (Perhaps some mild public shaming will finally put an end to this folly.)

It hit me just before 7 AM.  I awoke later than usual with no desire to get out of bed.  Just the idea of rising made me whimper inside; a red flag because I’m not big on sleep.  Unless I’m unwell, I’m ready to get up when I wake up.  Then, The Depression Monster showed up.  That bastard went straight to a commentary about politics designed to raise my blood pressure.

My mood did a backflip over the cliff, while simultaneously flipping both birds at half mast.  It happened so quickly I was stunned.  It probably worked in my favor by causing me to question what the hell just happened.  I realized The Depression Monster was involved and slammed on the brakes.  Then I figured out why and launched directly into beating myself about the head and neck for doing this to myself again.  Sigh.

garbage

I didn’t manage to shower and dress until 4 PM.  I didn’t spend that time in bed, though.  I spent it pacing around my apartment while debating with myself silently.  Some of that time was spent experiencing awe over how long I’d been doing it.  I tried so hard to stop.  I even wrote out the one step I was trying to take on my whiteboard, (then passed it over and over without it registering for a long, long time.)  It said, Get in the shower.

These are hours of my life I can never get back, (and this is day one.)  All because I had to eat some freaking garbage.  It’s not worth it.  Memorize this, Alison.  You’re in training for menopause, and it could start anytime in the next decade.  Get your shit together, or it’ll end you.  Dammit.

“I’m queen of the castle.”

spring flowers

I’m shakily maintaining while adjusting to changes in the plan for my upcoming trip.  It’s happening in stages starting with a near complete meltdown and working back from there.  It feels like coming to an unexpected and abrupt halt after coasting quickly.  I guess I acquired a bit of whiplash.  I’ve spent a good part of today reasoning with myself, and have finally convinced myself it’s a mere speedbump.

I can do this.  I need to calm down and start over.  My new mantra is:  If the music is still playing, everything is alright.  (I got it from the last time I fell while running with music.)  Sometimes being literal is helpful.  I’m going to play pinball on PlayStation 4 later to resolve the knot in my gut.  I had fun practicing with my band yesterday, but unwinding afterward was difficult.  I’d like to list my tendency to become over-excited on eBay.  I’ll even throw in a box of Hot Tamales (because yum.)

It’s nearly 70° F today.  All the snow is gone from my balcony, although there are still little piles from clearing the parking lots.  There are lots of people out walking dogs and babies.  The birds are singing outside, too.  It’s a comforting sound.  I also like the music of cars driving by with their windows down and systems up.   And an airplane flying by every so often.  Outside sounds lovely in spring.

I’m reading a fascinating book by Octavia E. Butler titled, Dawn.  It’s part of a near-future speculative fiction trilogy.  (I’ll try not to give any spoilers.)  It involves a group of humans rescued from the dying post-nuclear earth by aliens.  And the price they may end up paying for the favor.  That’s probably all I can say without giving anything away.  I’m enthralled and already ordered the next two books.

I think my sporadic pleas to the universe to send some aliens already motivated my choice.  I think I love books as much as music.  I was going to say, and that’s saying something, but then it occurred to me it’s saying nothing to anyone but me.  😂  I just cracked myself up.  I finished John Scalzi’s latest, Head On, previously.  I suspect it’s going to be a favorite among several stories in the same universe, much like Old Man’s War series.  I enjoyed the book.  It changed the tone of the series a bit from the more serious first installment; Lock In.  I hope that’s not a spoiler.  🙃

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor was another recent book I loved.  So much for my idea to curb my reading a bit this year.  I forgot why I even thought it was necessary.  😂  It’s not interfering with my writing or music, so it’s all good.  Oh right, it was something about sleep.  Over it.  I’m off to look for Coachella videos of Beyoncé on YouTube.  I heard excellent things.  😆