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.

 

 

¡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.

Her aunt dying is the best thing that ever happened to you.

I tweeted to Michelle Obama as FLOTUS yesterday.  It was in response to her farewell from the position speech.  I know it’s entirely possible she won’t have time to scroll down an epic thread to find and read my message.  On the tiniest chance she would, I poured my heart into the tweet.  Then I cried a bit.  Then I made fun of myself for crying on Twitter.  It led to my laughing instead.  I’m so glad I got to exist while Michelle Obama was FLOTUS.

I have a feeling I’ll be jogging more than marching on the 20th to stay warm.  Fortunately, I have the proper equipment to ensure it doesn’t end in frozen tears.  The woman who is guiding me (and several others) in participating in the resistance got retweeted by Rosie O’Donnel today.  That was exciting!  Rosie will be fighting beside us.  I love it when celebrities use their fame for good causes.  Angelina Jolie and Mariska Hargitay excel at this as do many others.  I was taught by more than just my mom to avoid becoming fanatical about Hollywood stars.  I’ve been listening to and trusting Lisa Bloom since her Court TV days.  She was the first person who taught me about ethics on TV without any puppets or cartoons.  The Kardashians and their ilk never had a chance to take root in my world because I read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand when I was a preteen.  I used to have nightmares about Ellsworth Toohey.

Reading was a favorite activity in our house when I was growing up.  My brother, Steve, was into comic books.  He shared Little Lulu and Archie and Jughead with me.  Kevin gave me a paperback copy of Dune for my 11th birthday, and I’ve been hooked on sci-fi since.  My mom read novels of all sorts, while Heather preferred age-appropriate serials.  Most of my interaction with the world before the Army came through reading books.  In school, my peers were in another league when it came to socializing.  They were dating before I figured out how to initiate a conversation without throwing up from the anxiety.  I’m proud of my schoolmates.  The horror stories I hear from my autistic friends about their experiences make me grateful for what I had.

These humans who as young children whipped me with jumping ropes and told me my name was Kunta on the playground after seeing Roots on TV, grew into teenagers with good character.  That day on the playground still haunts me, but I forgave them in real time because they were traumatized, and I wasn’t the only child sobbing.  It’s not something a child should watch without a parent nearby whispering truths in their ear.  Such as, “This happened a long time ago, and nobody who did these awful things is still alive.  America doesn’t allow slavery anymore.”

It will also remain a measuring point for the incredible growth I witnessed in them between elementary and middle school.  Today, when I run into old schoolmates, I look them in the eye even though it’s difficult for me.  I do it because I want them to know I know they’re decent people.  They taught me prejudice is a teaching opportunity, not a reason to lash out.  It’s still working for me.

With the little kicks and the thumbs?

Today was good.  I realize in reflection that I should have spent some time earlier doing a grounding technique my therapist taught me.  I’m starting to recognize when I slip into autopilot.  I start thinking like an old search engine.  I’ll start by thinking of something I saw or heard earlier, like Carter Pewterschmidt losing his driving privileges on Family Guy.  Something about that bit of the show set off an internal red flag.  I watched him drive carelessly with Stewie centered in the back in a car seat.  That’s what it was.  Wow, typing it out helped me figure it out straight away.

Now I know what triggered me into going on autopilot.  I just want to be able to recognize it in real time, so I can consciously face whatever triggers me, rather than losing several hours to repetitive motion, and cryptic thoughts strung together by random pattern classification.  I hate wasting time by accident.  I’m seeing now how different my life is when I’m not on autopilot most of the time.  It’s like sitting in a theater, watching the same movie for years, when one day someone invites you on stage to play the role of one of the lead characters.  I’ve stumbled on stage and I’m familiar with the scene, but I’m still feeling nervous.

If that makes sense to anyone but me, I’ll be pleased.  I am to metaphors what tone deaf is to singing.  (They say admitting you have a problem is the first step…)  I have a melody that has played in my mind since I was in primary school.  I used to sing it over and over while on patrol duty.  I don’t forget music, and there’s usually music playing in my mind.  Every so often, that melody plays, and I remember standing on the corner a block away from my school with the fluorescent pink patrol belt wrapped proudly around me.  I remember the smell of car exhaust.  I remember my fear that the cars wouldn’t stop for me.  They always stopped.

That melody is important to me.  I created it before I knew very much music.  It was before I had any semblance of self consciousness.  I sang constantly as a child.  I did it quietly while rocking, and it was like breathing to me.  When I began school, I learned that it was generally considered an odd thing to do.  I didn’t stopped doing it.  I just learned how to do it when I wasn’t around other people.  I created this melody before I knew I was odd.  I liked that odd me.  She didn’t survive intact, obviously, but I have a few good memories from when she existed.  I wish all of us who were considered odd children had a vault somewhere safe where we could store our original self, and visit later in life.  I guess it’s a good thing we have memories stored in our minds.  It’s not as reliable, but it’s far better than nothing.

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.