Tuesday, December 10, 2013

For Brendon

When something like this happens, you think the world should stop.
That when something this senseless and terrible happens, that everyone should drop everything, that they should share in your grief, in your sadness.
If you can't go on, it means everyone else shouldn't, too.
Because someone you love is gone, a part of you is missing forever, and there is a hole in the world.
Nothing will ever be the same.
You're stagnant.
Yet, the world doesn't stop.
People go on, blind to your pain.
Ignorant of the suffering.
Unaware of the hole.

I was Googling "suicide statistics of chronic pain sufferers" when I overheard my mother mention funeral preparations.
I had come home early from work sick--the entirety of my lunch lost to the side effects of the drugs meant to lessen my physical pain.
Grandpa, I thought.
How would I approach this?
Grief doesn't confuse me, it's people--reactions are so different, and I am always unsure.
To touch, to keep a distance, to embrace, and for how long--these are hard questions to ask of the bereaved.
I stood in the doorway, waiting for her to turn around, to react.
This happens, sometimes. Shock. I think I understand, and I move to embrace her.
"Uncle Paul called. Brendan shot himself this morning. His mother found him."

Nothing in life can prepare you for these things, not even previous experience.
Not an uncle, not a father.
Each time it's different; each time, you're different.
He was seventeen, and this shouldn't have happened.
We grew up in separate states, and lived separate lives, but he was my blood.
When life is taken away before it begins, it makes you think.
Makes you put things into perspective.

Brendan, you probably didn't know I loved you.
You probably didn't know that I, too, struggle with life.
Maybe if you had, things would be different.
I'm sorry for your hurt.
I'm sorry you thought it would never end.
I'm sorry for everything you'll never be, but I loved you for everything you were.
I'll always remember the time you chased me around the house with Sock Em Bop Ems;
The time you got embarrassed for getting caught peeing in our back yard;
Always finding "Brandon" instead of "Brendon" on ornaments at Bronner's;
Your shenanigans and exploits as "Mr. Ass" at the Detroit Zoo.

I don't know how I'll face our family; your mom, you dad, your sister.
I don't know how I'll face seeing you again, one last time.
I don't know how I'll go on living, once the world starts up for me again.
I'd like to think I'll do something noble, like preventing this from ever happening again.
But I just don't know.
I'll miss you, Brendan.
And every time I see a "Brandon" ornament--I'll think of you.
Rest easy, cousin.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

tired and sick

I was a sad sack of shit this weekend.
With every passing hour, and every passing Game of Thrones episode, I'd tell myself, Okay, self, I'll let you slide on this one, but we're getting up and doing things after it's over.
And I just didn't.
The most I accomplished this entire weekend was the French Onion soup I made yesterday, after finally getting out of bed at 2 PM.
So I thought to myself, Okay, sad sack, today you were sad, tomorrow you'll be okay.
And I just wasn't.

Depression runs in my family, so I suppose it shouldn't be much of a surprise that I experience it.
But really, I think it's more than that.
I'm terrified.
I'm overwhelmed.
I hurt all the time.
I can't sleep, but when I do, it feels like it's my only respite.
Respites, though, should not include terrifying and disturbing dreams.

And you know, even as I write this, even considering how LONG it took me to write this, part of me feels like I'm overreacting.
Because, you know, I've been taught that to feel "too much" is just too much and I really ought to dial it back.

The biggest issue, I think, is that I no longer feel like I can live in the world.
Or more accurately, I feel like I never have, and I never will.
And don't confuse that with a desire to "check out," because that's the farthest from the truth.
The simple reality is that I just don't know how.
I don't know how to live in a world where people lie to get ahead;
where people steal so they can get by;
where people kill because of something dark within themselves;
where people can rape with impunity;
where people can just be shitty for no reason and just fuck with people's lives.
As terrible as it sounds, especially for someone who claims to be social justice-minded and political, I can't read or watch the news anymore. Just can't. I don't seem to have that ability that others have of separating themselves from what's happening around them.
I feel everything.
I can't not.
Which is really the funny thing about an Asperger's diagnosis, because the Powers That Be believe it's just the opposite.
They know nothing.

So I got kind of off track with this, as per usual, but I guess the basic thesis of this post is that everything is shitty, and I feel totally powerless and helpless to stop it.
I don't want to die, but I don't know how to live.

I feel as though this is my gift and my curse, this Autism Spectrum Condition, because on the one hand it opens me up to all the feels and the suffering and the human condition, but on the other hand, it opens me up to all the feels and the suffering and the human condition, and I haven't a clue on what to do about it, other than lay on the couch and stare in abject silence, or write about it, and hope that somewhere, sometime, some day, there will be people that I can touch, that I can save, that I can bring back from the brink of misery and self-destruction that I always seem to precariously tread upon.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


So I got a job, finally (which is not the sadpants part).
And aside from telling everyone and also the whole world, I texted Boy (Formerly) at Work, because he'd been the first person I'd discussed getting a non-Heatron job with (and he disclosed right back that he was also searching cause this place was like a less funny version of The Office).
Didn't occur to me that texting would be in any way inappropriate, as it was my understanding that we were friends. Maybe not best friends or super bros, but we conversed regularly, and he always liked my dorky t shirts.
And he kind of restored my faith in the goodness of the male gender, which sounds a little moony schoolgirly, and kind of is I suppose, but bottom line, I legitimately thought we were friends.
So I sent him, verbatim, "I got a job!!"
A few minutes later, I get a text from an unknown number with a "Who is this?"

(Sidenote: I really wanted to reply with Mushu's intro speech from Mulan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn_nM7x7Lcw)

And I was like, you texted me, who are you?
Reply: "Boy at Work's girlfriend, Fleurgenstein. Just curious why you were texting him."

Cause I got a job, and was indicating as such?
And furthermore, how the hell did you get my number?

But see, that's usually not how my brain works, so I replied right away with a "Oh, hi. We used to work together, and I was just letting him know that I got a different job, finally."


So that was a really weird violation of my privacy, and probably his too, though I guess that's not really my business.
I don't know if he even got the message, and I don't plan on communicating with him via text ever because I don't know if it'll be him I'm talking to or Violation-of-Privacypants.
I'd friend requested him on Facebook a couple weeks back, and I know he's not on it often, but I checked today, and he ignored the request.
If he didn't want to be friends, that's fine, but I feel like I was given every indication that we WERE friends, until pretty much now.
And I don't know if I did something inappropriate or wrong--fairly certain I did not, but as it is difficult for me to navigate social protocols, it's always a possibility.
My hunch is that girlfriend doesn't like me, or I suppose more specifically, doesn't like that I am a girl (we've had a couple run-ins that were kind of awkward).
And you know? If you can't be friends with females whilst in a relationship, that is just sad.
In the end, it's really his loss, because I'm awesome, and you would have to be a dummy to abscond my friendship based on my reproductive organs.
I am still kind of sad though, because I get sad when I can't understand things, or when people ignore or avoid me instead of explaining things.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book, Saddle and Go

Last Friday, I went to my first metal concert.
Both incredible & terrifying.

As far as Aspie sensory issues go, I was actually pretty kosher--I went in knowing there would be loud, and as ear plugs are for bitches, I brought none. I put on my Old Navy skinnies (which the lead singer also wore!) and combat boots, a black tank and hoodie and was on my way.
The venue was big, but not overwhelmingly so--the Blue Moon was 6.25, which was balls, but worth it.
Clutch (the only thing that mattered) had THREE warm up bands, hellooo overkill, and they didn't go on until almost three hours after the show started. To which I was all, grumble grumble, because when you SAY a thing starts at a certain time, YOU START IT AT A CERTAIN TIME.

But, I digress.

A man stood next to me when Clutch were monkeyin' around with their doohickeys and soundchecking whatnot, and I face-smush smiled at him because apparently that's my default "I don't know what to say to you but we have a shared interest and also I'm here alone and haven't spoken in two hours" face. He seemed nice enough, and he held out his hand with what I thought were ear plugs, which I politely declined because, as I mentioned before, is for bitches. His comment was "this doesn't mean we're girlfriend and boyfriend," and I gave an awkward laugh, mostly because that is my default reaction for social situations in which I am unsure how to proceed.
A friend had warned me that it gets "moshey" up front, so I was all steely-resolve face ready to thrash around, as if I had something to prove to myself--that just because I have this condition, or way of being, doesn't mean I can't do things all the other neurotypicals can.

And I did really well, actually, until I realized what Not Boyfriend was doing.

Now, throughout the course of the concert, I was bumped, stepped on, and elbowed--things to be expected when you're packed in like sardines. What was not expected (or welcome), however, was the groping. Thank goodness I didn't leave my hoodie in the car like I'd planned, or I'm sure it'd have been worse. One guy groped my hips from behind, and I didn't pay it any mind at first because I figured they were just trying to get through or something. NOPE.


But anyway, Not Boyfriend.
So Not Boyfriend and I were caught in the middle of all the mosh, and it was sweaty and weird and awesome. I actually felt really safe in the mosh, oddly enough, because it seems like they've got some sort of code where No Man Gets Moshed Behind. So if someone falls, they are RIGHT UP IN THAT SHIT to bring the person back up. And I'm like, respect.
Not Boyfriend had different ideas, though. Maybe.
He got behind me and pushed other moshers away--we kind of moved as one unit. Which was actually pretty cool for a while, and I was like, AWESOME, ACQUIRED BODYGUARD, I WIN.
But then I started thinking about certain social scripts, and I got kind of worried.
It seemed like his hands kept creeping upwards--and to be fair, it's quite possible that it was accidental, as I am quite floppy when it comes to moshing, like those wacky waving inflatable arm tube man things. But when I put all of the things together--the Not Boyfriend statement, the drug offer, my weird face smush smile thing, it occurred to me that he could have misread some things (and that I was unaware I was sending any kind of signals).

I am typically level headed, sometimes, I guess, but once I put all that together my instincts were like NOPE NOPE NOPE and I ducked out and made my way towards the bathroom.
I left the venue very shortly thereafter because I no longer felt safe.

I feel like I totally babbled and lost track of what the hell I was talking about, but here's the gist: as an Aspie, I can and do enjoy things that a statistically significant portion of ASD people cannot or do not want to do. I can blend in surprisingly well, even if I do come off as shy, aloof or awkward. But when the unexpected hits, when a variable I hadn't considered pops up, my flight response (pretty sure I don't have a fight response) kicks in and I'm like LOL KBAI instead of trying to calm down or think things through.

And I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing.

Really, it just is what it is--the reality of my inability to perceive people's intentions means I am generally more cautious than most, and I think that sometimes prevents me from opening myself up to new experiences and people that could have a positive impact on my life. But for what I lack in regular senses, I make up for in people instinct--not quite sure how to explain it, but sometimes I just get a really bad feeling about a person, almost like an animal instinct, and that instinct has never let me down. I trust it completely.

Mostly I'm just like, dafuq. I just wanted to enjoy the damn concert and people just kept being weird.
Definitely never going alone again.
Fucking patriarchy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Ancestors Sent a Little Lizard to Help Me?

Sometimes I'm not convinced that I'm autistic.
I mean, think about it--if I really had autism, could I have gotten this far in life?
Could I have graduated from Allegheny, or gone to England, or France, or go to a metal concert solo?
I suppose if you reflect deeply enough on these experiences (or even just barely scratch the surface in some instances), you can find the autistic-like behaviors, but I sometimes still need to be reminded that I operate on a whole different level than most.

Then I read books on autism.
More specifically, Asperger's.
And I'm like daaaaaaaaaaayum girl, how did you ever NOT know you're autistic?

I think the front this is most obvious on is language. Which is fairly logical, I suppose, since autism in its very nature is all about communicative barriers.
According to the experts (namely, Tony Attwood), female Aspergians are social chameleons--able to adapt and change to fit the social climate and to mimic proper social behavior, without necessarily understanding the meanings behind said behaviors.
Basically, that describes me to a T.

I tend to pick up accents easily, and sometimes for no apparent reason. Yesterday at the grocery store, I ordered half a pound of ham in a British accent on accident (been watching a lot of Game of Thrones of late), and the lady was all o_O and I had to repeat myself in American English. I wasn't horribly embarrassed or anything (and I think it actually might be slightly adorable), but it's just so bizarre. And I spoke with an accent I can't quite place for a while because of a woman I worked with--I just added Ys to shit for NO REASON (metYastasized, cYat). I think one of the reasons I get along so well with the Turkish, Russian and Nepali women I work with is because I speak in fragments to them--"You need? Is done? No light! You check? Give me please red pen." It's not like I'm talking down to them or anything, and I think they know that--it's just that English isn't their first language, and it's a very confusing one at that, so I try and adjust my speaking patterns to something that is easy to follow. Because who better than I knows how difficult and frustrating it is, not being able to communicate? And honestly, it didn't even strike me as an autistic thing at first, until I noticed that most other people in the plant don't make such a concentrated effort to understand and be understood by them. I asked one of the machine operators, a native English speaker, "you need?" as I grabbed some paperwork from his desk, and he was like "LOL, are you transforming?"

Uh, nope. Just bein' a lizard.

Another thing I've noticed is vocabulary--particularly, the word "retard." Normally, I do not use the word pejoratively (although I have been known to use it semantically and people don't realize it and get offended), but in settings where people use it as such (again, at work), I notice myself using it.

This bothers me.

To some extent I think I'm doing it unconsciously, or at least chameleonly, but I still don't think that really excuses it. But to people who use it pejoratively, there is a major difference between saying "that's stupid" and "that's retarded." Interestingly, several synonyms for "retard" were also once "legitimate" (those are ironic quotes, FYI) terms for the mentally ill: idiot, moron, lame, etc. But where I want to talk about semantics and the evolution of words, most people want to just get their point across with "retard." And I really don't know where that leaves me.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Kind of Had a Point, But Then I Started Talking About Geology

I've been thinking a lot about love lately.
There's lots of different kinds of love--there's love, and then there's love; love, but also Love.
I love dinosaur chicken nuggets, but I love my cats. I Love humanity some days, but on others, I love them.

It's complicated. (So saith my Facebook relationship status.)

I love the things that I love by default, I suppose, because they move me in some way. Like language, for example. I love language because it's so simultaneously infinite and limited. It's primary, it's prolific, and yet sometimes, it doesn't matter at all. All the words in the world can't achieve what a simple touch or look can. Collectively, we probably have a word for every emotion that has ever been felt, but when you're in that moment, words simply can't describe what it is that you're feeling in every facet of your being.
And I think that's pretty neat.
But it's easy for me to love the things that I love (except when they wake me up with a hurk hurk hurk SPLAT at four AM), that I don't often think about the things that other people love. And I think you really miss out on the world when you can't see the beauty of something through someone else's eyes.

Take, for instance, geology.
Did you know people get PhDs in that shit? Literally. You can be a doctor. In rocks. And sediment. (Even soil!)
What I see as unearthly (hee) boring (and sometimes pretty, depending on the level of shiny), someone else sees as beautiful and fascinating. They can tell me where the rock lives, how long it's been living, what's been living (or not living, as is more often the case) in it, whether or not it's igneous or metamorphic or that other one I forgot the name of.
And just like my eyes light up when I'm going on and on about the Seven Ages of the English language or Buffy or my cats, so do the eyes of the people who like shit that I think is boring. And I can see their love and their passion, it's palpable, and even though I'm probably still bored because it's still a rock, in that moment, I feel how they feel and I really can't describe how I feel other than "warm and fuzzy inside."

When someone has the ability to show you what makes something special, what sets it apart from all the other things, I think that's really a gift. So the next time I'm blathering on about the cute thing that my cat did or the Great Vowel Shift, remember...I'm a fucking gem, get used to it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


So, the relationship that kinda-sorta happened has ended.
I think.
Well, I've been friendzoned, at least.
Which is kinda confusing, cause if I had to make the judgement call, I think it was more him pursuing me than anything else.
Or maybe it was more our friends were just like, damn, you guys are both socially retarded and ronery, I guess this could be a thing?
He's like natural sciences smart
And I'm humanities (lulz, I know, right?) and social sciences intelligent.
But anyway.
I still really have no idea why...I mean, we seemed to mutually agree that we like each other, but I guess I should have tried to suss out whether it was like like or middle school like.
At first I was like, maybe I'm horribly unattractive and snort when I laugh?
Then I was like, pssshht. As if.
I suppose the most logical explanation would be that he's busy?
But like, if you were busy in the first place, why would you be like, dateyes?
And like, he's still cool
And being friends is fine
I guess I'm mainly upset because it seems my track record for relationships with the opposite sex are like HELLOOOOOCRASHANDBURN
And I did not expect this one to be not a relationship quite so quickly
And I am SO MELODRAMATIC about my lack of ability to perceive things
So I just keep downloading breakup songs
And listening to fucking Amy Lee
And Christina Aguilera, I'll be honest
But then I'm like, Self, get ahold of you
This wasn't even a breakup
It was barely a relationship

Pretty much what I'm taking away from this is that a casual date is not a surefire track to relationshiphood
And that while I am still extremely awkward relationally towards males I am attracted to, I am at least capable of carrying on a conversation and being myself and whatnot.
AND ALSO there is this Led Zeppelin song called Tangerine that I downloaded because the last time we spoke about being not in a relationship, we spoke at length about my tangerine chap stick (or at least longer than most people discuss lip moisturizer). I felt comfortable enough to say that I was super anxious about kissing him because I was really worried about having chapped lips and I didn't want him to think I was gross cause of scraggly lips, and he was like, yeah, pretty much that doesn't matter.
So, I learned something.
And actually we never kissed.


He hugged me when I left, and instead of being a normal human being and just straight up reciprocating a friendly embrace, I kissed him on the cheek. But in a really weird spot, kinda right on his jaw line.
And then my face was instantly WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST DO ARE YOU SERIOUS
Because I have no control whatsoever over my face
And I didn't mean it like, sexily
It was just kind of reflexive
But like, I don't kiss people
Except my Italian relatives from Michigan
So really I have no idea WTF that business was about

So in summation, I am kind of bummed, but I at least know where I stand, even though I am still pretty thoroughly confused.