I don’t know if I can be friends with you anymore, after this display.

Today was good.  I talked to my therapist, again.  She makes me laugh a lot, which is awesome.  I chatted with an Apple Support rep. online, and we fixed my main issue.  I was ecstatic, because I thought I’d have to take it to a tech in person.  I went online to check my AppleCare dates, and figured I may as well check their database to see if it was an easy fix.  Nothing came up, so I went into the chat.  It was an easy, albeit time consuming fix.  However, I’m still having problems with powering down.  I wasn’t planning on seeking support for that, as it’s an OS X issue, and contacting support for a software issue is against my religion, (as a software engineer).

I got my case number and thanked the guy who helped me.  He did a good job, and didn’t make me feel frustrated by over-explaining simple tasks.  I think the way I explained my issue was enough to inform him that I wasn’t a computer neophyte.  That’s all just pride and ego flexing.  I think it’s practically a human trait to dislike being told how to do what you already know how to do.  It could just be an American thing, though.  I’ve had more than one non-American imply that we tend toward arrogance.  I don’t get upset when non-Americans criticize our nation because it amuses me.  When there’s over 300 million people being insulted right along with you, it’s kinda hard to take it personally.

The whole concept of nationalism amuses me to a degree.  My amusement over it increases with age.  The older I get, the more I see myself as an earthling, and less as an American.  My time in the service helped me see beyond the lies we’re taught in school.  I suppose that’s what experience does.  It alters your focus and perspective.  I still have mind boggling (to me), experiences on a regular basis.  Sometimes I think it’s because my world went from being very small to huge overnight.  But I think it’s probably more complex than that.  I’ve always been the kind of person who faces fear like I’m secretly participating in a lifelong game.  I jump in with both feet, and come what may.  The more it scares me, the more likely I am to rush in and get it over with.

Even as a little girl, I would jump into the pool rather than slowly allow my body to adjust to the temperature.  I think it’s because there’s not a detectable difference in how I experience fear, be it from a spider, or jumping out of a perfectly good plane.  Both scenarios scare me as far as I can be scared.  So I kill the damn spider, (after trying to get anyone else to do it for me).  Or I just say, “Fuck it”, and jump.  I’d like to say this strategy is working well for me, but who knows.  I can say that it makes my life pretty exciting, sometimes.  Usually, the exciting parts are far better in hindsight, though.

My brain tends to forget the sucky stuff, and put a red bow on the rest.  For example, I have fond memories of basic training, and remember it as a fun time in my life.  But if I challenge that ridiculous notion with a little thought, I can recall sitting on a bench in the latrine, wondering if it was possible to lose weight from crying.  When I had that thought, I was extremely stressed out, and spent an indecent amount of time wishing hateful things on my Drill SGT’s.  Now, I look back and laugh.  I was such a spoiled child when I showed up for basic.  The Army cured me of both being spoiled, and being a child.  Uncle Sam had a lot of practice long before I came along.  Although, according to my Drill SGT, I was the most suggestion making, why asking, Private he’d ever trained.  So there’s that.

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.

Disability Day of Mourning

Today is Disability Day of Mourning.  There were lots of posts on Twitter.  There was a list of disabled people who were murdered by family members by date, name, and cause of death.  I skimmed the list to see if the little girl who lived across the street was on it.  She wasn’t.  Her name was Rachel, and she was 9.  Her mom took her into their basement and shot her, then herself with a shotgun.  Rachel was Autistic.  My sister, Heather, was her babysitter.  Naturally, the whole neighborhood was shocked.  Murder is not an acceptable way to cope with disability.  There are no excuses.  Nobody has the right to steal someone’s life.  Especially not that of a child.

Even when I was serving in the Army, I firmly believed that killing someone is wrong.  I didn’t claim conscientious objector status, because it wasn’t an issue for me.  There was only one incident in which a weapon was fired intending to hit me.  That weapon was practically a relic, and it’s shooter was only 15.  Of course I didn’t return fire.  I told on him, and he got smacked by his grandfather.  I got an Article 15, but it was just company grade, and not my first.  That Iraqi boy’s life was totally worth 14 days of extra duty and restriction.  Other than that, I was what is commonly referred to as a “chairborne ranger”.  I spent the majority of my military career in various schools.  I enjoyed it.  My motivation came from finding out that in the event of chemical or biological warfare, the first person required to remove their protective mask and gear was the person least mission essential.

I didn’t want to be that person, so I made sure I had crucial skills.  I eventually became the NBC NCO (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Noncommissioned officer).  That alone pretty much guaranteed it wouldn’t be me.  The often denied chemical and biological agents used in Desert Stormy by Saddam Hussein caused a lot of people to get sick, and some passed it on to family members.  It’s only recently been acknowledged by the VA.  They tried to pull a Vietnam/Agent Orange again.  Fuckers.  It takes 10-20 years for the VA to overcome denial.  Unfortunately for Vietnam veterans, it’s apparently a recurring condition, as they’re dumping programs for them left and right of late.  Fuckers.

I don’t regret my service, though.  I learned some crucial lessons.  I learned that maintaining American freedom is not the reason we’ve participated in wars since WWII.  That’s just the lie that gets suckers like me to volunteer.  It works well when you couple it with the bullshit they teach in public schools.  I was 17 when I shipped out for basic training.  I was a young, naive 17-year-old with an extremely sheltered childhood and undiagnosed Autism.  I bought into the whole “protecting my country’s freedoms” line.  This is an embarrassing admission in hindsight, but I joined the Army because I wanted to be a soldier so I could help prevent war.  My high school debate training left me thinking that I was good at stating my case, and convincing others to adopt my views.  Shut up.

So it was an eye opening experience, but one I needed.  I literally grew up in the Army.  It was so painful to accept the fact that America isn’t the best country ever.  That we have a bloody, horrific past, just like pretty much all other nations.  That as a nation, America is a teenager who hasn’t yet figured out where she fits in on the world stage, and has shitty boundaries.  I’m sure plenty of other people had this figured out by age 17, but I didn’t.  It was like finding out there’s no such thing as Santa Claus all over again.  I remember watching CNN, and being floored by the fact that they were lying their asses off.  I had assumed if it was on the news, it was true.  Shut up.  So yeah, I had to grow up.

I also learned how to embrace and love hard, demanding physical labor.  The feeling of being completely exhausted, and barely able to walk after a hard day of work is so good.  I learned that my capabilities are far greater than I ever imagined.  I learned how to cope with incredible fear.  I shake, cry, hyperventilate, and emit strange moaning sounds when I’m extremely afraid, and I can still function despite it.  The first time I experienced this was when we had to throw 2 live (REAL) grenades over a wall in basic training.  We stood inside a bunker with a thick plexiglass window to observe those who went before us.  Every time, we’d duck for cover when the shrapnel flew at us and embedded in the plexiglass.  It was loud, it smelled badly, and I was terrified.  I was in the middle of the line, and when it was my turn and I was handed 2 live grenades to put in my LBE pouches, my legs were like Jello.

I walked so carefully and slowly, trying to make sure I didn’t trip.  It was a short distance to where my Drill SGT waited by the wall.  We were told to throw them like a shotput, not a baseball.  All we had to do was pull the pin, and project the grenade over the top of a wall that was probably around 10′ high.  It was a very simple process.  However, our Drill SGTS told us the horror stories of the Private who threw the pin and kept the grenade.  When I finally made it to the designated spot, I pulled out the first one, pulled it’s pin, and threw it as hard as I could.  It probably went about 2 feet beyond the wall.  Then my Drill SGT grabbed me and shoved me down against the wall, and lay over me.  This was standard procedure.  I got back up, and started crying.  I asked if it was okay if I just threw the one.  It was not okay.  So I threw the other one pretty much exactly like the first one, bawling my head off the whole time.

Another important lesson I learned in the Army was how to let go.  How to let go of people, stuff, and places.  I had friends who got orders to move to other countries.  I literally lost everything I owned when moving back to America from Germany.  I lived in Texas, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.  I went on field problems in 29 Palms, California, and Yuma in AZ.  I went to basic in South Carolina.  Suffice to say, I’ll never be a hoarder.  I don’t allow myself to get overly attached to objects.  There are other important things I learned from my Army experience, but these are the ones that remain helpful.  There.  I’ve managed to refocus in order to prevent my grief over the murders of so many innocent disabled people from crushing me.