While everyone I know has the next week and a half filled with family, friends, relaxation, and fun.. we’re using the time off work to make a big dent in our tornado repairs / cleanup.
Porter will be working on starting the kitchen cabinets – and least the base structure. We don’t have the milled/dried wood back from our fallen black walnut tree yet, but I’m going absolutely insane with NO kitchen cabinetry. We have a sink, fridge, stove, and microwave stand, as well as 3 little rubbermaid shelving units for groceries, paper plates, plastic utensils, foam cups etc.
I am so sick of the disposable plates, etc. There’s no way we’d be able to handle actual dishes right now. It’s so completely bizarre and maddening to not have a proper kitchen.
But then, everything about dealing with the tornado has been bizarre and maddening. Running to our house, through a sea of downed trees, decking materials, peoples ROOFS, power lines, etc – nothing was where it was supposed to be. Coming back to our house, with our giant black walnut uprooted and ON our house, water pouring through our kitchen ceiling, the kitchen ceiling on the floor.. our arborvitaes up front uprooted, one blocking the door… Trees sticking through our bedroom wall…again, NOTHING as it was supposed to be.
In the 7 months since the tornado, I’ve had to get used to nothing being where it’s supposed to be. Aside from the kitchen issues, the front entryway, living room, and dining room have pretty much become staging areas for repair – tools and building materials and random stuff EVERYWHERE. It drives me insane to go to use the washroom, and have to step carefully over a power cord, and then move a power drill, or whatever. In the spot where a medicine cabinet should be, there’s several wood stain samples, sandpaper, drill bits etc. My tooth brush and tooth paste is upstairs by the jacuzzi, because it’s just easier to brush my teeth into the tub drain, than to deal with the bathroom issues. Plus, I don’t want sawdust in my toothbrush!
Our two offices have basically become dumping grounds for whatever doesn’t fit / needs to be easier access than the living & dining rooms. It’s extremely difficult to concentrate with boxes of random crap surrounding me.
This morning is step one to actually getting RID of the tornado aftermath in the house, once and for all. The plan is to have ALL of the building materials / equipment / etc OUT of the first floor living space. We haven’t been able to use the living room, dining room, or front entryway since the tornado.
I’m starting by clearing the front entry way, which has been used as both a staging area for materials (The bathroom tiles, etc), and as an all-purpose dumping ground/storage area. I’m talking, knee-to-hip deep filled with various crap. It’ll be like a geological research mission, by the time I get to the bottom. I don’t even know what’s down there, closer to the floor.
Had a really hard time coming up with motivation this morning. I want to be able to enter the house without seeing “aftermath” anymore… but I just look at the pile, and feel totally overwhelmed. It took several attempts – each time walking over to the area, looking at the piles of random crap, pausing to work up some courage, feeling overwhelmed, and walking back to my computer – before I even started.
I had to take a few small breaks, but I was making good progress. At one point, NKOTB’s “Hangin Tough” came on the radio, and I felt like I was in an 80s movie montage. Had to giggle at the feeling.
But then, it started. The first few, familiar strains of the crescendo of a meltdown. You know, I really have way more to worry about than to have to try and control myself through this. Here’s one of the few times I wished I was a bit more neurotypical.
I don’t like thinking about the tornado, and all of the mess it’s caused the past 7 months… so I wasn’t starting out on the best foot. Having to deal with THAT much random mess, piled that deep? Didn’t help.
Then, there’s just a bunch of little things that don’t help. Dust everywhere, which NOW gives me allergies – a new, post-tornado thing. Nevermind the feel of it.. ugh. The skin on my hands feels like it’s crawling.
Then, there’s the issue of not knowing what’s down there, but having a keen knowledge of the possibilities. We’ve had a mouse in the house since the tornado. We’ve had ever manner of creepy crawly awful, disgusting bug in here. That’s just what happens when you have holes through your walls, and are missing a good chunk of roof for a couple of weeks.
Doesn’t make it any better for me, of course. I don’t mind mice so much, WHEN they are in a cage. It’s the random popping-out of places they should not be that freaks me out. I’m really sensitive to sudden movement, which is why bugs and mice bother me so much. I wouldn’t say I’m skittish overall, but yeah – that kind of sudden movement freaks me out. So, with every piece of material or equipment I move, I’m sort of steeling myself for something to jump out at me. It’s not good on the nerves to be on that kind of guard!
Then, there is the texture thing. This may be the worst part of all, for me. Man, I wish we had workers gloves here – we tore through them all when doing the patio.
I CANNOT handle certain textures. As a kid, I couldn’t touch chalk. I had to endure all sorts of ridicule for it, for having to wrap a paper towel around chalk if I was forced to use it.. a new one each time, because it would invariably pick up chalk dust from the ledge. Ugh.
As an adult, we had to be very careful picking out our bathroom tiles, for the same reason. There were a few that I just couldn’t even touch, to put them in the cart. I’m not the BEST with the ones we picked out, as far as the sides/backs go – but my husband handled them for the most part, I used gloves when setting them, and now they’re fine.
Well, now I have to touch the leftover tiles, along with other textures that skeeve me right out. Stuff with dust and dried dirt on them are bad enough.. but there are a bunch of leftover pieces of “Cement board” that we used for behind the shower tiles. HOLY SHIT, that stuff is just as bad as chalk. I pick up a piece, and I can feel my skin crawl. It starts at the tips, and radiates out to almost my wrists. It’s a slow, creepy crawl… and it feels like the moisture just drains out, as it crawls. It’s the most disgusting, nerve wracking feeling I can even imagine. By the time the “crawl” reaches my wrist, it usually sends me into a full-body shudder.
Even now, 20 minutes after lifting a few pieces, the skin on my hands doesn’t feel “right”. I can’t explain it. I know there’s absolutely NO reason for it. I’m not OCD, I don’t have any kind of mental illness, and I certainly don’t have any weird traumatic experiences with chalk in my childhood. It just feels AWFUL.
So, I managed to carry out 3 pieces of this cement board, and then felt the meltdown coming on pretty strong. I figured I’d rant out a blog to distract myself. It seems to be working – I think I’ll go back to it now.
One of the earliest memories I have is one that disturbs me to this day.
I was at the crosswalk at school – I think this was kindergarten – and looked across the road to see some kid just getting pummeled by a couple other kids. It turned out that the reason for the beating was that the victim had a small bag of candy, and the bullies wanted it.
I can’t even describe the despair I felt when I found out what had happened. Candy was such a stupid, little thing… I was mortified that these kids were willing to treat another person like THAT, for… nothing. They say we’re not supposed to feel empathy, but… man, even to this day, that image upsets me to a point where I can’t even spit out the words for it.
I’ve said before… I grew up not only being treated like an alien, but sometimes seriously wondering if I got dropped off on the wrong planet. That morning? Had I actually been an alien, that would have been the point I radioed back home and told “my people” that there was no hope for this planet. Seriously.
Anyway, I bring this up because Black Friday reminds me of that morning. People pepper spraying each other, shoving, trampling, a couple people getting shot… over what? Saving some money on a TV? Just seems like a widespread, adult version of those kids with the candy. Ridiculous. I’ll never understand people.
Anyway, let’s talk about last night. By “talk”, I mean “I have to rant”
I’ll be frank here – when you’re autistic, family gatherings SUCK. Too much noise, hysteria, people are in your space, nothing’s where it is supposed to be, and it’s just not FUN. There’s an increased pressure to be “normal”, while you’re feeling like crawling under the bed and hiding until the chaos disappears.
My adult autistic friends – some of whom have spawned little junior auties – they get this. Watching twitter last night, I saw a lot of mentions of hiding in a room, hanging out in the basement… even one guy who took his autistic kid out to his truck and watched Netflix on his phone. That? That is awesome.
Unfortunately, twitter was also full of neurotypical “advocate” parents of autistics who were less than cool about it. One woman went so far as to call her autistic son “passive aggressive” for hiding in his room.
What. The. Hell?!
People, you can’t be all pro-acceptance for 98% of the year, then turn on your poor kid and TORTURE THEM. You want to be an advocate? Let your kid hide in his room if he wants. Would it be “passive aggressive” if YOUR parents tried to guilt trip you into stabbing yourself in the face repeatedly, and you declined? No? Then stop doing it to your kid. Oh, and if you force your autistic kid to do something they’re not comfortable with, it’ll be at LEAST 2x as bad the next time. Consent and autonomy are important things – Chill!
By the way, tweeting your disappointment in your kid last night? (This is directed at SEVERAL people) You realize you’re on a public account, right? My mother would have said a lot of the same things that some of you did last night, but at least when I was a kid, there wasn’t Twitter. There wasn’t written evidence of my mother broadcasting her disappointment in me being WHO I AM to the entire planet, that I could easily happen upon someday.
I am beyond disgusted with a good handful of people right now.
Parents of autistic kids: This time of year really sucks for us. There is a ton of noise, lights, noise, stressed out people, noise, pressure, and more noise. What is fun for you, sometimes is tantamount to outright torture for your kid. CHILL OUT already.
If your kid wants to hide in his/her room, or the basement, or WHATEVER during family gatherings, let him/her. Contrary to what you may believe, they’re not “missing out” on anything. If left to their own devices, they’re not going to wake up the next morning and regret not spending more time playing with their obnoxious neurotypical cousins, or whatever. Left to their own devices, they’ll wake up that next morning short of the trauma that their allistic parents could have put them through, for their own selfish purposes.
I can’t emphasize this enough: Forcing your autistic kid to participate in holiday festivities that they’re not comfortable with – you’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for yourself. Subjecting them to holiday gatherings they don’t want to be a part of isn’t going to give them some warm, gushy, Hallmark-type holiday memories. All it will do is show them that you are more concerned with what other people think, than the well-being of your kid.
Trust me. I’m in my early 30s, and none of the holiday-induced forced socialization of my childhood has magically morphed into anything other than just wishing my parents had accepted me for who I am. I’m guessing that most of my adult autistic friends who holed up away from the racket yesterday feel the same!
Ok, so that probably all came off really negative. Let me try to balance it with a bit of positive.
If you are autistic, or parent of an autistic kid… you should follow @aspieside on twitter. She’s an allistic parent of an aspie boy, and she’s pretty awesome – even if it’s a bit weird for me to read her posts.
For one, her son reminds me of me. He has some of the same “quirks” I had as a kid – which feels a bit bizarre to read about now, given how much of a “freak” I was at the time. It’s weird – but cool – to read about someone I’ve never met, that – OMG – sounds like me.
Secondly… if there was a textbook perfect way to parent an autistic kid, she’d probably be the author of it. My own mother’s way of handling me was pretty much the opposite of “perfect”, so it gets a bit weird to read her too. I’m so happy for her kid, that SOMEONE is being raised right. I’m happy that there is this stunning example of a allistic able to relate to her autistic kid – it’s such a rarity. She speaks his language so well, I sort of question her neurotypicality!
Reading her posts are also sort of bittersweet, because it does dredge up some crappy feelings about my own childhood. I wish my mom had been even HALF as good with me, as she is with her kid. Yup, I’m a bit envious!
So… if you’re one of the neurotypical parents that act like those I mention in the first half of this entry… try to learn from her before it’s too late. My mother was one of you. She never accepted me for who I am, never made any effort to understand me, and she has resented me for my whole life. While I spent 30 years wishing and hoping for her to eventually come around, I’ve recently realized that it’s a lost cause. We will never have a relationship.
The sad thing is, had she tried at ALL when I was a kid, she may not have resented me so much. Things could have been very different today, with just a little effort a couple decades ago. Had she been tweeting her disappointment in me to the world, it wouldn’t have taken me a full 30 years to resent her right back.
I’ll stop ranting now…
I can’t wait to hear nothing.
Noise sucks. It’s everywhere. Sound is pressure, pressure is… well not painful really, I don’t know how to describe it. I prefer silence. If I can’t get silence, I want the noise to be pleasant. Bach made some rather pleasant stuff, but even loud music with a hard drum beat can be much more pleasant than just plain noise.
It all starts with the alarm clock. We have an alarm that plays a CD, so I don’t have to listen to that horrible beeping sound. I’m sure it’s horrible on purpose, to make you get up. The problem is, I instinctively slap it to shut it off, while I’m still half asleep. Then I fall back asleep. With a CD playing, it’s good noise, it’s music.
Next is the shower, the constant sound of water. We have a large shower head, the kind that sort of simulates rain. It’s much quieter. I do prefer the strong blast of hot water, but not the noise, so the rain effect is much more pleasant overall.
Later comes the car ride to work, the road noise is annoying. There’s not much I can do about it, but I try. The last time I bought tires for my car, I made sure to buy good ones. I found out that cheap (or perhaps harder) tires can be louder than good ones. That analysis isn’t very scientific, but I did realize that when you buy tires that are designed to last 100,000 miles (ok, that’s an exaggeration) they have to be very hard rubber, whereas softer tires wouldn’t last as long but should be quieter. Sounds logical, right? I don’t know if that’s a fact in all cases, but this last set of tires was definitely quieter than the previous set. My car was getting quite old, which was a source of pride for me (I count miles like points on a video game) but it also meant that things were really wearing down, and getting louder. The tick tick tick of the valve train is slowly getting worse, the tires that have worn down now seem to be getting louder (due to the increased surface area perhaps?). I decided to replace the car. The noise was one of the reasons why I wanted a luxury car. Oh no, I can’t afford a new one, I found a great deal on an old one that is still in great condition. It’s definitely quieter than the last.
Once at work there’s the ventilation system. It’s really loud, like seriously I have no idea why it’s so loud. Residential heating/air condition is quite loud, but this is worse. But wait, there’s more. I sit directly under a vent, so I get more noise directed at me. But wait, there’s more. There’s some sort of leak in the pipes, so there’s a WHISTLING sound about half the time. A WHISTLING SOUND. LIKE A TEAPOT.
A WHISTLING SOUND.
I wear my headphones a lot, but much of the time I’m not even listening to anything, I’m just blocking the sound. There’s more sound, the common noise of people walking by, talking, and the printer. The damn printer. It squeals as it feeds the paper out. One of these days I’m going to go all Office Space on it, I swear. The conference room behind me is horrible, they often have their teleconferencing going, which of course means everyone has to yell because they think they need to for the microphone to pick up their voice. The fine people that designed the microphones have probably done a great job, you don’t need to yell. Seriously, I can hear you through the wall.
The production floor is worse, it’s a cleanroom with HEPA filters, and of course machinery and lot of people. That’s the worst, you can’t wear headphones, and it wouldn’t be a good idea anyway, since most of the time you’re talking to someone, or trying. I read lips a lot, as long as I can hear a little bit and see the person’s lips, I’m pretty good about figuring out what they’re saying. I’ll talk more about this another time, it’s not just in the cleanroom that I have a hard time understanding people. It’s exhausting though, the effort of trying to hear, and the noise, the damn noise.
The ride home, same as the ride to work. I sometimes listen to music, I sometimes don’t.
When I get home, sometimes I turn the car off, lay back and close my eyes. Just a couple minutes of quiet, it really helps. It’s sort of like recharging, makes me able to handle more noise for a bit.
Home isn’t bad, I mean, I have a say in what goes on. Going out can be a problem, a lot of restaurants are noisy. We recently went out to a noisy restaurant with friends, it was really tough. The whole time I was sitting there bouncing my legs, I do that when… well when I want. I don’t know, when I’m nervous? No, I don’t think that’s the right word. Stressed? Well perhaps, not the sort of stress that is commonly thought of, like your boss putting you on a tight deadline. It’s a pressure-relief valve. Yes, exactly. It’s taking the pressure of the situation and re-focusing it to another area. Bouncing my legs is just one way I do that. Others are wringing my hands, touch my thumb to my fingers in a rapid pattern, alternating from index to ring, then pinkie to middle. Over and over, most often both hands synchronized. Ok, so where was I… yes, the noisy restaurant. That sort of situation sticks with me for awhile. I feel pressure in my head when I get home, I need quiet. Sleep is the easiest way to get quiet, it needs no explaining that you need quiet.
We have a Jacuzzi, and it’s awesome. It’s noisy though. I HATE the jets, I don’t use them, and am quite displeased when Marie uses them. Not displeased as in mad, just, displeased. I don’t like the sound of the Jacuzzi filling up, I usually aim the faucet to the side so the water sort of runs down the side of the tub, less noise. It’s still noisy, and takes so long to fill up. That’s offset by how awesome it is to have a freaking Jacuzzi in our bedroom. Relaxation, and quiet. Sometimes we have music on, but usually softer music, calming. Ahhhh…
Talking is noise, I don’t like to talk. It’s not that I refuse to talk, it’s not that I only say a few words, I just don’t like it. I’d prefer to sit in silence, especially in loud situations. I have no idea how to describe the sensation, other people don’t seem to have any issue with it like I do. It’s a rattling that turns to pressure, I think, something like that. Whatever it is, I don’t like it much. The noisy restaurant the other day? I mostly sat there and listened to others. There was already enough noise, I didn’t need to make more.
What else makes noise? Umm, everything. I can hear the lightbulbs right now. My old TV was terrible, but now we have one that is silent. The fridge is annoying, but is pitched such that I can tolerate it.
A few months ago we were at a mall, stopped into the Bose store. I wasn’t planning to buy anything, just wanted to look around. I saw a display for noise cancelling headphones. Ooooh, cool, let me try them. WOW. Seriously, the fucking noise shut off. It was quiet. Forget the music, it was fucking quiet, in the middle of a mall. SWEEEEEET. Oh wait, the price tag wasn’t sweet, it was something like $300. I’m not really the type to spend that sort of coin on headphones.
Three hundred dollars. For headphones. I debated, I seriously debated. I thought about it off and on, thinking that maybe I should just do it. I don’t think I buy myself a lot of luxuries, so I deserve it, right? Maybe I should. No wait, it’s three hundred dollars, no way! Back and forth. I didn’t buy them.
A few days ago, I get a link to a set of noise cancelling headphones. A few minutes later, Marie sends me a message, with the same link. She’s looking out for me, that’s awesome. They were much cheaper, about seventy dollars. Some quick research showed that they should indeed work well, so I made the purchase. I’m still awaiting delivery of them, I seriously can’t wait for them to arrive. One of the cool features, you can remove the cord entirely and use them just for noise cancelling! Awww, the designers were thinking of me, isn’t that awesome?
So now I sit here and wait for silence. I can’t wait to hear nothing.
Tomorrow will be mark 6 months since the May 22nd tornado… that smashed our house. A news team just came to our house to interview us about our experience, and the subject of Aspergers came up.
When asked “What is the first thing you noticed?”, I blanked out. I had no idea how to answer that… everything was such a mess. I ended up blurting out “Um… I have Aspergers. I was overwhelmed, and was sitting on the front steps just screaming. I have no idea what I noticed first.”
Up until the tornado, I thought I’d managed to learn to keep things under control. Most people would never guess that I have Aspergers. (Except, apparently, other Aspies. Found THAT out the other night!). The day of the tornado? TOTAL meltdown.
I’ve already posted about what happened that day, from a matter-of-fact point of view… but I didn’t really get into the Aspie aspect.
The truth is, I completely lost my shit. Running the 3 blocks from our car to our house was the most traumatic experience of my life. I really need things to be where they’re supposed to be, and running/jumping/climbing over downed power lines, trees everywhere, and seeing a ROOF laying on the ground… I just don’t even have the words.
To add insult to injury, the police and EVERY news station in the cities had helicopters up in the air. I’d never had a problem with helicopters, but that MANY, in that situation? Totally overwhelming. Ever since, even the sound of one helicopter really frays my nerves.
Helicopters, trees on the ground everywhere, my house destroyed, not knowing where our 4 cats are, chainsaws going off in all directions, and people everywhere? Yeah. What a nightmare. On the upside, as far as overstimulation goes… I think I’ve seen the worst. I don’t think I’ll ever have to face anything THAT crazy ever again.
The first 5 months after the tornado were hard to deal with, on a daily basis. Months of chainsaws (especially bad for the first 2 weeks!).. The sound of roofing EVERYWHERE… constant banging, nailing, people everywhere… so much NOISE. There were contractors in and out of the house every day for months. I REALLY don’t like strangers in the house, or people “messing with my stuff”… and we had absolutely NO routine whatsoever.
To make matters worse, in an effort to save as much money as we could… we were in and out of different hotels for 6 weeks. Our insurance didn’t cover hotel while the house was unlivable, so we had to find the best price online… for only a few days. Then another.
At the end of 6 weeks, we just sort of gave up and stayed in the house anyway. It may have been messed up, but at least it was OURS, and we could establish a BIT of a routine. We still have a LONG way to go, but at least the worst of it is behind us.
Aspergers. I know it’s a bizarre topic for a rant on a food blog, but hear me out – I’ve got a lot to say on the topic!
Recently, I watched a Rick Mercer rant about bullying in schools, especially with regards to gay kids, and teen suicide. It was a powerful rant. During the short video, he made a passionate plea for all gay people in the public eye to come out, and be role models for gay kids. It makes sense – in addition to role models / support for gay kids going through the bullying, it also provides a “normalization” of GLBT people to the general public.
It inspired me – I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great for there to be more normalization of Aspergers? If there was an “It gets better” type campaign, especially for kids with Aspergers?”. I know I sure could have used some sort of Aspie role model when I was a kid – I didn’t know ANYONE with Aspergers, public or otherwise. I’m sure that lack of reference point contributed greatly to spending a good deal of my childhood wondering if I’d gotten dropped off on the wrong planet.
So, as someone who’s sort of in the public eye, let me help begin such a movement! (more…)
My tornado memoir – “Twisted” was released on 05/22/12! click here for more details, or to purchase!
Whew. It’s been a crazy few days. If you’ve been following on Twitter, you know the gist of it, but for the rest of you…
.. so it turns out, bathroom was damaged. We didn’t know, at the point the adjuster came by, but it doesn’t really matter – we blew past our coverage $30k in damages ago, so it’s a moot issue. Basically, the window dislodged – probably from the trees and crap that had gotten tossed between us and the neighbor on that side – and there’s a lot of water damage.
The guy who owned the house before us didn’t do the best job of … anything, really. House hasn’t had a permit pulled in over 30 years! So, after the storm, the window is sort of sagging – there’s about 1/2″ gap above it, straight out to the outside. Ew. That could explain some of the nasty bugs that have been getting in! Had we been living here / SHOWERING here, we might have noticed it earlier, but… like I said, moot point. We’d been planning to redo the bathroom anyway, so it’s not a HUGE catastrophe. We weren’t planning on having to make all these decisions / put out the money now, but… we just want it done. When the contractors are done in here, I want them done. I want all of the transitional crap, destruction, bare walls, and CHANGE done. I can’t see waking up ANYTIME soon and saying “hey… let’s tackle the bathroom now!”. We decided we need to just rip the bandaid off. Suck it up, get it all done. That’s what credit cards are for, right?
We picked out the new tiles for the bath/floor, and all of the stuff to do it. Then, the adventure began! (more…)
My tornado memoir – “Twisted” was released on 05/22/12! click here for more details, or to purchase!
It’s been a crazy few days. We still don’t have electricity, and the I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing this, so bear with me. I’ll list our needs at the end of this post, per your requests!
Sunday morning, my husband and I rented a moving van. We moved our commercial mixer out of our old garage, where it’s been stored since I quit making cakes… moving it to my father in law’s house for storage. (By the way, 30 quart Hobart is available for sale!) See details in comments!) We picked up a tree that we’d reserved through the local Tree Trust, and we bought and hauled the lumber we needed to put railings on our deck, per requirements from the city. This was for our new house, purchased 2 months ago.
We had just unloaded everything at the new house, and dropped off the truck at the rental place. We were finally sitting down for a late lunch, congratulating ourselves on a LOT of work. We planned to grab lunch, go home, sit in the hot tub and relax the rest of the day.
Then the sirens started going off.
I’m going to apologize in advance here. Today’s blog isn’t light, fun, or in any way wedding or food related. It’s political, and it’s about a sad, crappy subject: the recent epidemic of bullying-related suicides. It’s a subject that’s frustrated and saddened me for awhile – especially this past couple of weeks. After reading an article yesterday – where a local religious/”family” organization actually blamed these suicides on the victims themselves – I have to speak up.