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.

Why should I hire you to be my latex salesman?

It’s nice today, but windy.  I slept really hard for 2 nights in a row now.  Yay.  I don’t feel as floaty.  I used my weighted blanket on top of a quilt.  The glass beads inside make my weighted blanket stay cool, which is awesome in summer.  I’m so hot blooded, so it’s good to have an alternative to central air at night.  If I hated the planet, I’d set my thermostat at 67 all summer, and 65 all winter.  But I love the planet, so I set it at 70 all summer, and 63 all winter.  But I am big on windows being open as much as possible.  Even when it’s -20 F outside, I will crack a window for a few minutes just to get the fresh air exchange.

Friday night, I didn’t dream or even roll over during my sleep.  Last night, I remember having a panic dream where I made a serious coding error in a situation with dire consequences.  I have that dream scenario about as much as the one where my cat is in peril, and I can’t save her.  Fortunately, they’re easy to break free from.  I went back to sleep fairly quickly afterward.  I still feel a little tired, but much better overall.  Insomnia is expensive in ways I haven’t even pinpointed yet.  I hate to admit this, but the more tired I become, the more visible my Autism becomes, and I don’t like that.  I want to say I have absolutely no shame about being Autistic.  But obviously I can’t, because I still engage in passing as neurotypical in certain situations.  So I guess it’s more like, I’m striving to let go of any semblance of shame surrounding my Autism.

I love black and white, but my life is mostly grey.  I agree that forcing myself to hide my Autistic traits from others is less than ideal.  Passing as neurotypical takes a huge toll on my energy levels, and it can take weeks to recover.  Stimming in public can result in encounters with assholes.  Neither option is ideal for every situation.  I fall back on my Mom’s advice in this regard.  I take a time-out, and put the world on mute for a while to regroup.  My Mom figured out how to help me cope as a kid.  She didn’t know my diagnosis, but she wasn’t exactly new at parenting when I came along.  Between that, and her experience with the foster babies, she was prepared to help me navigate this world.  Some of her methods unsettle some of my Autistic friends when we talk about it.  They see it as her pushing me to pass as neurotypical.

To me, it was my Mom parenting me specifically.  Pushing me to expand my world was necessary for me.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.  I suspect I was content in my own little world, and would have been fine to remain there.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t an option.  I grew up in a big house with lots of siblings and only 2 parents.  I needed to expand my world in order to get my needs met, so my Mom gently pushed me.  Each time, I became upset and miserable for a bit, then adjusted.  Then I would recognize my Mom’s wisdom in pushing me.  I do recall feeling singled out when I was 10ish.  Why does Mom only push me, but Heather and Steve can do what they want?  Typing that made me giggle.  I sent my Mom a typed note asking her this question, and she saved it.  I still have it.  And a few other notes I sent during my childhood.  The first one I hand wrote, and it said, “I hayte you, I hayte you, I hayte you.”  When I first found that note in my Mom’s stuff after she died, it upset me.  But now, it amuses me.  My Mom knew I loved her.

I’ve never been sophisticated.  Not even close.  My Mom knew me well, and could often tell what I was thinking, much to my frustration.  I remember being so angry that she could read me like a book when I was a teenager.  It wasn’t the same as Heather speaking for me as a child.  It was like my Mom could read my mind.  It felt like she knew me better than I knew myself, which is what angered me.  It felt incredibly audacious of her to me.  “How dare you tell me what I’m thinking!” I can laugh about it now.  My brother, Gar, has always been into photography and videography.  There’s a lot of footage of me from the time I arrived at 3 days old, till I was 15.  I saw myself as a 5-year-old walk up to my Mom, ask her a question, then turn around and high-step march to my room.  It’s hilarious to me, but it doesn’t register that it’s me.  Spaz4Life should be my nickname.  We got it all transferred to DVD’s a while ago, but most of it is with the Dr. who diagnosed my Autism.  She uses them for training or a study or something.

I’ll be going to the office to work tomorrow instead of working from home.  I hope it goes well.  Then I’ll get groceries on my way home.  I’ll work on visualizing it going well later.  The book I’m reading now is intriguing.  Menagerie by Rachel Vincent.  It reminds me of that HBO show Carnivalè in that so far it’s in a similar setting, but in the 1980’s.  I bailed on the series before finishing because it was too tense, but I liked it.  Very well cast show.  This book is dark in different ways so far.  The lore isn’t original, but that hasn’t detracted in the least.  I like the writing style, too.  I got hooked quickly.  That’s always nice.  I’m off to the gym.


When I was a kid, I asked my mom if god was real.  She told me not to take the bible too literally.  That was the extent of my mom’s teachings regarding religion.  I think it was good advice.  My family attended a Lutheran church until I was 10.  We were asked not to return after my brother, Steve, swallowed the Sunday School goldfish on a dare.  There were several similar antics that led up to this dismissal.  After that, we didn’t go to church anymore.

I thought the entire episode was hilarious, and am guilty of being extremely pleased when Steve met the dare without hesitation.  He was two years older than me, and for the first 15 years of my life, I thought he was the coolest person on the planet.  I went along with his schemes, even though they usually ended with a spanking.  He was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which meant he had no ability to foresee the consequences of his actions.  I still can’t believe some of the things we did as kids.

In our neighborhood, there was only one rule.  You all play together, or you don’t play at all.  In hindsight, I’m thankful for that rule.  I know now that I drove the neighbor kids nuts with my weirdness.  Playing barbies was a big thing, and there were so many accessories that you could add.  While my little sister, Heather, play acted out stories about being married and having babies, I would sort their stuff.  I loved to arrange their shoes and clothing.  I would align them and have a fit if anyone moved something once I placed it neatly.


That’s a neighbor girl, Greta, me, Steve, and a neighbor boy in the photo.  My mom is peeking out the door.  This is before my parents remodeled our house.  I remember the shoes I’m wearing.  When I outgrew them and had to get new ones, I had a meltdown at the shoe store.  I still dream about that sometimes.  It really shook me up.  I called them “my buckle shoes”.  I eventually learned how to avoid becoming attached to shoes.

I need to scan some photos of Heather.  She was so cute.  She died in 2005 from bilateral pulmonary emboli.  She was coming to visit me the next day, which would have been her birthday.  It was shocking, and I found out from her best friend over the phone.  When Steve had his last open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic in 2001, he never regained consciousness.  I found out from his fiance over the phone.  When my mom died in 2001, after hospice care gave her a lethal dose of morphine to relieve her pain from terminal cancer, my sister, Gayle, called me on the phone and told me.

I hate the telephone.  I don’t care that it’s an unreasonable, displaced response to my losses.  Hate it.  My dad also died in 2005, but I found out in person from his widow.  Losing so much of my family in such a short span of time took a heavy toll on me.  It was a strange toll, though.  When Steve died, it leveled me.  I fell apart immediately and wept for what seemed like a year.  He was my best friend throughout my entire life up to that point.  He stood up for me when kids called me a nigger.  He was my partner in crime. He used to make me laugh so hard I’d throw up.  He was my protector, and my anchor to this world.

When my mom died, she’d been sick for over a year.  When she was first diagnosed with colon cancer, she told me, and then told me not to tell anyone else.  I kept the secret for a year while driving her to her chemo appointments.  I would take her home and do her laundry and clean her house.  It was a secret that weighed heavily on me.  After she had surgery, I was beside her in recovery, and the doctor told me “I can’t cure her”.  I couldn’t process those words.  I seriously wanted to fight him.

He wanted to try more chemo, but my mom refused.  She told her siblings, and mine after that.  They all came and stayed until she passed.  The last time I saw her, she grabbed my arm and told me it hurt so much.  That was it for me.  I wanted hospice to deal with her pain no matter what.  My oldest sister, Gayle, wasn’t ready.  I remember wanting to fight her too.  It was so hard to reason out that she didn’t get to spend the time with her that I had.  That she was my mom’s first born, and knew her way longer than I’d even been alive.

I did understand this, but it didn’t matter to me as much as I needed my mom not to hurt anymore.  I screamed at them to give her the morphine.  Then I left and never went back.  I couldn’t stand to be around anyone who would allow her to suffer a moment longer.  Gayle called me later that day to tell me she’d passed.  I was standing outside in the rain, looking at a butterfly, wondering what it was doing out in the rain.  A part of me deep inside knew my mom was gone.  I can’t explain how.  She was my adopted mom.  There was no blood relation between us.  I just knew.

I didn’t cry.  I just went on existing, even though I couldn’t fathom doing so without a mom.  There were many times that something would happen, and I’d want to talk to my mom about it after she was gone.  She was always the person who knew what was right.  We had some intense moments between us that I have never shared with anyone.  She treated me differently than my other siblings.  More like I was an adult, now that I look back.  She would tell me what she was thinking, even if it wasn’t something you should ever share with a child.

Sometimes I think it was because I was so introverted that she would forget that I could comprehend what she was saying.  Some of the things she told me still haunt me.  Sometimes I’m angry that she told me things that forced me to see her not just as my mom, but as a woman with way too many people depending on her at all times.  The responsibility she carried was immense, and even today is awe inspiring.  Most people would cringe at being a single parent with six teenagers at the same time. Add six severely disabled foster children who often couldn’t even roll over without assistance, and you start to see what I mean.

I always helped my mom as much as I could.  She never forced us to help.  It was very clear to us that it was voluntary.  Of all my siblings, only me, Kevin, and Greta chose to help.  For me, it was a huge privilege to be trusted to hold one of the foster babies.  I spent a great deal of time doing slapstick to entertain them.  I would be so delighted when I could get them to laugh.  Especially when my mom told me that the child had only a brain stem, or was blind or deaf.

Some of the foster kids were children of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to agent orange.  My mom always told me what was wrong, and why if she knew.  I remember all of them.  I loved them.  When my mom brought home a little girl who was blind, deaf, and had severe facial deformities surrounding a cleft palette, my brothers and sisters were nervous.  I remember looking at her very closely, and realizing it was nowhere near as horrific as I had anticipated.

She was without a doubt the most affectionate of all the foster kids my mom cared for.  Her eyes never opened and were sealed with skin, but her right eye had a tiny slit where you could just make out that she had deep blue eyes.  She had bright red hair, and the typical soft, sweet smelling skin of an infant.  My mom told me that she was mentally retarded, but I think that was a misdiagnosis.  When I played with her, she responded like any other baby.  She loved to touch my afro, and could identify me by it.

When I picked her up, she would wrap her arms around me and pat me on the back.  She was blind and deaf, but she was bright and loving.  It was easy to get her to giggle.  I remember being so eager to get home to play with her after school.  I got in my first fist fight with a neighbor boy because he called her ugly.  I think that was the most offensive thing I’d ever encountered at that point.

I run into a few of the kids who fostered with us now as adults.  The native american man who lived with us until he was 10.  He has cerebral palsy.  He plays drums in a heavy metal band now, despite being wheelchair bound.  A native american woman who used to babysit me when I was little, who is mildly retarded.  She always gives me a big hug when I see her.  She’s married now.

Many of them died since then.  Some died in our home.  I wish I didn’t remember that part.  But many of them lived a lot longer than predicted, which was always a victory to my mom.  I think my unique childhood played a big factor in who I am today.

I know there is always more to people than what my eyes show me.  I automatically have a deep respect for mothers.  Unless they’re insane and hurt kids, of course.  I’m an atheist, but don’t disrespect the beliefs of others.  I don’t feel anxious around children, but do around adults I don’t know well.  Everybody dies, and it hurts.  Life goes on, even if you don’t want it to.  If and when your mom dies, you have to take what she showed you, and use it to be your own mother.  Everyone needs a mother, even if you have to be your own.