I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s a fantastic idea.

The kids in hacker training camp have gone on a field trip.  I didn’t go because my being in Denver is my field trip.  No amusement park necessary, thankyouverymuch.  They’re with a physicist who promised to blow their minds.  I’m excited to hear all about it when they return.  I’m excellent at vicarious excitement.  It’s a perk of being autistic.  I’ve been to some fabulous amusement parks and a few sad ones.  My imagination is prepared.  (My inner ears are relieved I’ve accepted the aging process.)

Seventeen stayed behind because he works there.  He is the guy.  She showed me his selfie.  She didn’t first explain what a selfie is, so there’s that.  ☺️  I didn’t really look (because I’d be too tempted to comment on how much he looked like Justin Beiber.  I know.  I’m old.)  I did ask why she didn’t want to see him at work, however.  She answered, but she lost me immediately.  Apparently, it’s strategic.  She’s used her hacking skills to map out the progression of her relationship, in a way.

I had to pinch myself hard to keep from opening my mouth.  I remember how it felt to grow up in the 80’s under the shadow of the Vietnam era boomers.  I’m presently learning their story, and what they endured.  I’ve resented being told I’m a feminist before I even knew what it meant.  More so because of course, it’s true, but I didn’t get to discover this for myself, I was raised there.  It’s completely irrational and selfish, (which irks me even more.)  I know I was spared two incredibly painful journeys by the generation just before my own.  I’m absolutely grateful.  (I just need to continue expanding my knowledge of what I was spared, and how.)

It’s inspired me to be gentle with the young.  I know they have to hurt to grow, but I want them to hurt less than I did.  (I get that the previous generation not only wanted us to hurt less, but made huge sacrifices to make certain of it.)  It must be my maternal instinct that insists I treat those younger than myself with kindness and empathy.  And my memory, I suppose.  So when Seventeen informed me she chose her university based solely on the fact he’s also attending there, I didn’t say shit.  I didn’t ask her what she wants to major in, either.  I just listened.  (It was so hard!)

We’re setting up art supplies for tomorrow while we wait for the kids to return, so I’m off.

All you saved was the pea pods?

Victory in a meadow.

Growing up in a predominantly all-white community has helped me better understand what it’s like for my local peers to first encounter a person of color.  In my first twelve years of life, the only people of color I met were a few Native American parents of foster siblings, and my little sister, Heather.  (I don’t count Heather.)

Everyone else was Caucasian.  My teachers, neighbors, friends, family, everyone.  It was all I knew so, of course, it was normal to me.  Basic training was my first experience with diversity.  I stared a lot.  I got bullied by a black woman from Miami who claimed I “talk proper.”  While I tried to process this, the other women stood up for me and shut her down.  It was my first experience with social politics.

My first assigned buddy was a black woman.  We despised each other within a few minutes of the meeting.  She called me an oreo, and I told her she needed glasses.  (I know, I suck at comebacks in real time but think of hilarious zingers after sleeping on it.)  I remember putting all my energy into preventing myself from bursting into tears.  I failed.  Repeatedly.  Throughout the whole eight-week course.  (And that’s not counting the time I spent working one-on-one with a Drill Sgt learning how to walk right before I could begin basic training.)

I was assigned a different buddy since we both objected vehemently.  I got a Mexican-American woman whose English needed some work.  My Sesame Street Spanish served me well.  She was the best buddy I ever had.  We complemented each other well and conquered each challenge by working together.  I also befriended a woman (named Heather!) who was the glue that held our platoon together.  She had bright red hair and a few freckles.  She could find the funny in anything.  I learned so much from her.  Thanks to her wit, we laughed as much as we cried.

I loved serving in the Army.  Acquiring PTSD was my only reason for getting out.  It murdered my eligibility to serve.  I had both positive and traumatic experiences.  I learned a great deal about humans, war, and reality.  I lost my innocence in every sense of the word.  I recognized my vulnerability and gullibility.  I had known before I reenlisted that my reasons for joining initially were adorable at best.  In those initial three years, I grew up.  I entered a child, and before my first active duty enlistment ended, the child in me surrendered control to my adult self.  The military has converting children into soldiers down to a science.  Soldiers are adults.  The process was painful but fascinating.

I remember the day I realized I had a friend from every group identified by the government.  I ate chocolate cake for dinner that day in celebration.  I celebrated because I thought it meant I was safe from ever being called a racist.  I felt like I won some unspoken challenge in life.  This is something I tie to my upbringing.  It’s a subtle conformity to institutional racism.  Subtleties usually fly over me.  I fear I’m too distracted to grasp them regularly.

This recognition of my contribution to the problem of racism is extremely hopeful progress in my journey to being the best possible me.  Now that I’m aware of where I’m fucking up, I can consciously avoid it in the future.  I have several previous posts in this blog where I, unfortunately, demonstrated my ignorance.  When I gain new knowledge and annihilate the ignorance, I’m tempted to go back and remove anything I said that I now realize identified me as an ignoramus.  I chuckle, then leave it.

Another thing I learned in the Army;

 It never hurts to have a reminder handy for those times you’re tempted to shove your head up your ass.

My previous posts remind me, humble me, and (something that might be) embarrass me.  I’ll never forget the day I had to carry a giant cardboard ID card everywhere I went for losing my military ID card.  My Sgt took many liberties in drawing the highly unflattering photo on my large version.  I struggled to keep assholes from yanking it away and running off.  (Losing the giant card would have been devastating.)  People kept honking and scaring the shit out of me.  I was a nervous wreck that day.  I never misplaced a card of any type since.  Or keys.  I guess it was worth it.

I don’t classify my friends by political groupings any longer.  I know diversity enriches my life.  I like being surrounded by it, but I’m also okay with living in a community that doesn’t have a lot of diversity.  What matters is recognizing it’s positive for everyone.  The only superior race is homo sapiens.  We changed the face of our planet, for better or worse, and climbed to the top of the food chain.  This is our planet, and I hope we spread to much more in the future.

When a person creates something that propels mankind forward, that victory belongs to all humans.  The same goes for the athlete who achieves a world record.  And the scholar who wins the Nobel Prize.  The writer who captures our imagination so profoundly we believe the story is real.  The actor that makes us laugh, then cry.  The comedian who’s so funny you laugh and cry at the same time.  The artist who captures an idea and paints it on a canvas.  These are humanities victories.  These are proof of our awesomeness as a species.  We don’t worship people, we share what makes us amazing.  It’s in all of us.  All humans.  It’s in you.  It’s in me.

Knowing this makes me love people.  I know everyone I encounter has awesome in them.  I hope they show it off.  It’s a connection between all of us, and I think we should all celebrate it by eating chocolate cake for dinner.  You in?

It’s not funny, Elaine!

I’m finally starting to recover from the shock of the election.  It came in the middle of a major meltdown over a gut-wrenching setback in my AI development three days prior.  I hit a brick wall when I reached out for support.  Nondisclosure agreements gagged me.  My voice failed me.  My world began threatening a hard reboot.  Then my friend (name rhymes with Yayme) caught me in a virtual hug on Twitter.  Whew.

It’s been uphill ever since.  It’s a good thing I had a great time enjoying my liberties while they still exist.  That turned out to be a good strategy.  Yay me.  I’m busy balancing my job, Meals on Wheels, and working with the resistance.  I read a whisper about a new Harriet Tubman rising up in America.  I think this time she’s a Caucasian in her late teens.  Her dad and her church are supporting her.  Safehouses for Muslims and immigrants.  I have space for people who are in danger of being harmed by the Predator-elect and his fellow ogres.

I don’t have much furniture, but it’s warm, quiet, and I have lots of cool stuff to share.  Teach me about your life, and I’ll teach you how to sing to computers in their own language.  If you speak a different language, train me.  If you live a different culture, show me.  It’s an incredible honor to be a shield for those who are vulnerable.  It’s what makes our (almost) all voluntary armed forces a terrifying dragon.  Anything draft related is bullshit.  Nobody should have to serve beside someone who was compelled to be there because war is about killing.  I have no objection to a draft for ping pong, however.

I connected with two people today.  That’s two more humans I love.  I realized I don’t wonder about a person’s gender anymore.  It took me long enough, but I’m glad to be here.  I had friends who held my hand the whole time while I unlearned my ignorance, and developed a respectful vocabulary.  They very gently let me know that I was using hateful, hurtful words while claiming to love them.  It still hurt, but I kept my “ow” to myself.  I didn’t want to play hot potato with pain.  I didn’t want to hurt my friends.  So I shut up and listened.  I stepped in it a lot.  I apologized every single time.  Fortunately, they’re still my friends.

It took too long for me to evolve, to my shame.  But I can’t let that interfere with my celebrating the fact that I did grow.  Yay me! (quietly).  This is important to me because now there are more people on this planet I can love without hurting.  I think if you harm with your love, you’re wasting oxygen that could be put to better use in a hospital.  I’m aware that I’m a wee bit militant.  You should have met me when I was on active duty.  I was a walking recruitment commercial.  I even sang the “Be all you can be” song regularly.  Hook. Line. Sinker.

Despite my falling as hard as is possible for all propaganda as a kid, I wouldn’t give up my time in the Army for anything.  I don’t feel embarrassed by my mistakes, especially when they turn out to be brilliant.  It was a mistake to believe the lies, but the reward was worth it.  I didn’t know it was possible for epic dumb to transform into fabulous.  I don’t take such giant leaps of faith any longer.  The recklessness of youth has passed me by.  I flipped it off in the rear view mirror for old times.

The lesson that has never failed me is the golden rule.  It’s tattooed on my personality.  It makes me sad that Drumpf never learned this life skill.  He doesn’t know he’s wearing no clothes.  The louder we laugh, the more he rages.  The more he rages, the more naked he becomes.  It’s gross.

 

 

I think I see a nipple.

Brace yourselves.  I have unbelievable information to report.  I totally missed my Seinfeld fix today.  I usually catch it on TBS.  I haven’t started shaking or anything, but I am considering subscribing to HULU+, and streaming a few episodes later.  Yes.  This is happening.  This is America, dammit.  Nobody should have to go more than 12 hours between Seinfeld reruns.  We’re a civilized country, for gosh sakes.  Ask anyone who plans to vote in the upcoming POTUS election.  They’ll tell you, (to vote for their candidate).

I’m in a mood.  It involves my being too lazy to identify it as good or bad.  I passed a threshold in therapy today.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it became quite clear later.  As with all challenging things in life, the ones you choose to face will come to a point where you have to decide if you will continue fighting onward, or if you’re going to cut your losses and try another tactic.  Once that brief window closes, you can either decide to fight onward, or you can decide to allow it to level you.  I’m not 100% convinced that the latter is an actual choice, or if it just happens sometimes.  Either way, hesitating is foolish.  Nothing good can come of it when you’re playing chicken with yourself.

So the way I see it, I have to fight onward.  I can’t pursue a tactic I know will fail.  So onward it is.  I’m scared.  I was going to say I hate that feeling, but who doesn’t?  I’m vulnerable because I chose to trust my therapist.  It’s not something I regret.  It feels to me a lot like posing nude for an art class.  Intellectually, you know they are looking at your naked body, and are now privy to a part of you that was previously private, but also that they aren’t seeing you as a person, but as a form to recreate.  So you pose, and you wrestle with your mind and self esteem, and it becomes a whole new level of privacy.  They can see your naked body, but they can’t know the many thoughts racing through your mind as they stare.  (It’s an experience where you can measure positive personal growth in a single afternoon.  I highly recommend it).

So I’ll be scared, and I’ll probably have some nightmares here and there.  She told me up front how things were likely to go, and so far she’s been spot on.  I’ve been scared before.  It’s very uncomfortable, but I can survive it.  Some people like that feeling, and are thrilled by it.  And of course I can survive nightmares.  So it’s not really a mountain.  More like a hill.  I’ll just lean in.

Military Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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