Monday, May 24, 2010

The Benefits of Disability

I was lying in bed one night thinking, as I do most nights. I was thinking about how illness/disability in some ways can actually benefit you. The reason I was thinking this was because I remembered what I was like that brief time in South Portland when I had all or most of the semblances of normal life, yet wasn't happy. All I could think of then was what I didn't have.

And then, after going through the last three years, I realize that most of my thinking is now finally devoted to being happy about what I do have - even the tiniest of things, because they are things I went so long without. And I realize that I would never have been appreciative for these things before my battles with MCS (chemical sensitivity). I kind of like being able to be appreciative of these things. I spent so long in battle, so long in crisis, that it is very easy now to be thankful for things like going out with a friend to the beach, reading (!! couldn't do that for a while), being able to watch TV, having someone to spend time with, and just having a non toxic place to live where I don't have to fight with anyone every day. This is not (here comes the disclaimer) to say that I don't have my frequent moments of self-pity and wish I had more. But they don't consume my life like they did pre-MCS. They don't last very long.

Every time I start to get upset over something my life now, all I have to do is set my mind to a memory, any memory, from how it was the last three years, and say to myself "Do you want it to be like that again? No? Well, then be glad for what you have!" and that is usually enough for me to feel at least a momentary flash of gratitude and thankfulness. Then I go back to bitching. :) No, seriously, but any complaining that I do do is far less in intensity, and that is a good thing.

I wonder why it takes such serious life events for us to wake up and smell the coffee and appreciate what we have around us. Maybe it's just a matter of perspective. Everyone needs to have their perspective shaken up once in a while. It's the reason that my former college became the first in the nation to require students to go abroad one semester in order to graduate. They wanted to give students a different perspective. (I think that is a great idea in theory but I never would have lasted a second in a foreign country. I think they should let students travel to places or experiences that are foreign to them in the US to fulfill the requirement. Luckily they did this after I left.)

I suppose it is for the same reason that I didn't truly enjoy Maine until I went away for college to Maryland. It's very hard to appreciate something you have, to not take it for granted, until you lose it. And hopefully get it back again.

This is not a perspective unique to me. I am reminded of a memoir by Michael J. Fox that I read once, about his struggles with Parkinson's; "Lucky Man" is the title. It was a very illuminating book. In it, he basically says that Parkinson's saved his life; that it was a great gift to him. Before the disease hit, he was always busy, always on the run, no time to think, and if I remember right, his personality suffered - he didn't take very good care of his personal relationships, was sometimes rude and uncaring, and so on and so on. After Parkinson's forced him to slow way down and eliminate all the excess from his life, he started to realize how much he hated the person he had been. He started to realize joy in things he had never seen joy in before. He improved his relationships. He had a better connection with himself, others and the world because illness had forced him to take stock of himself.

This is not to say that everyone should get Parkinson's or some other disease for the perspective it gives, or even that this theme is uniformly applied among all people with serious illnesses. But it is an interesting thing to think about. I hope I am not quoting this wrong or remembering wrong, but I think Fox said he likes his life better now than before he got sick. Yes, he is limited now in many more ways than before he was sick - at least physically - but in other ways, his mind and life have opened up so much.

I guess that's a tiny bit what I was feeling .I am so much more limited physically than I was before MCS, so much that it shocks most people to realize, but on the other hand my mind has opened up. I am more cheerful and thankful than was I before. I wouldn't say this if I hadn't finally managed to come to a good place in my life (and knock on wood it lasts). If you had asked me seven months ago, of course I wouldn't say this. I was miserable! I was in the middle of a crisis that had dragged on for three years. But all I am saying is that now, when I have more or less in many ways come out of the other side of it, at least the worst of it, I take pride in my ability to enjoy what I *have* in the world instead of pining for what I don't.

For example, yesterday I bought my roommate two pounds of fudge, whoopie pies and brownies for a birthday present, and made pyramids out of them for an appealing visual design. I used to die for this stuff, I loved it so much. But I seem to get sick whenever I eat it now, so I don't. It was kind of hard handling it and smelling it without being able to eat it, but I didn't really mind that much. It was a small thing. I had my rice crackers. My rice crackers satisfy me. If I didn't have them, that would be another thing. But in many areas of my life, I have taken things I used to be able to do but can't anymore (go into buildings, stores, plays, etc) and transferred them to things I *can* do (go to beaches and beautiful hiking spots), and what do you know, I think I'm more happy with the more limited selection of things I am able to do now than I was when I had everything. Because I can appreciate them.

That doesn't mean I don't have a longing in my heart to be able to do some of the things I used to do, but I try not to let it control me. Life's too short to be upset if you don't have to be. I hope it will come in time, for now I will just enjoy what I have.

I was going to write something about going to Fort Preble at SMCC with Nate and Rob on Saturday, but I've run out of space and energy. Suffice it to say that I felt a much greater sense of connection with them than usual, and also a sense of connection with the outdoors and the beautiful ocean air and beach, and it just made me feel happy and grateful. Grateful to be a part of something - grateful to be a part of a group!

That was it - the feeling of belonging somewhere, finally, at last. Two people to whom I feel special to and who are very special to me. Friends who understand my needs, and I theirs; friends who I can look forward to fun outings with and good conversations. It took me a long, long, LONG time to get here.

For so long, friends were something that I tried to do because everyone else was doing it. I really didn't understand what you were supposed to do with friends. And if you put me with 90% of the population, I probably still wouldn't. But after knowing these particular two friends for about three years, I think we, and I, have finally got it down. Slow learning curve, yes, but you get there eventually. The hardest part is not judging yourself against the timeline of others; you'll never get anywhere if you do. That goes for both people with autism and other disabilities, as well as parents of kids with autism and other disabilities. Certain concepts take a lot of time and life experience to sink in and take root, but let your child go at their own pace and always love and support them wherever they are, because one day, they will get to a place worth going.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oh, the humidity of it all

It's not fair. The way psychology works sometimes. The defense mechanisms we build up to keep ourselves from feeling things, from thinking about things, from working through things. How sometimes we have conflicting feelings; we want to try to work through something, get it out there, hope that using words will deflect and decrease its power over us. But then we start to write, and we freeze up. And just can't go there. But if not now, when? If I wait too long, it'll get to a place where it's intolerable, and if I can help alleviate that by writing about it now, I should.

It is no secret that my emotions, physical well being and feelings of stability are very much affected by environmental influences. I am not just talking about chemicals here. Everything in my environment, I am beyond sensitive to. And when I feel a certain way, I often seem to lack the mental ability to imagine feeling a different way. I don't cope with feelings of distress very well. I wish I did, and I wish had the ability to do so; it would be perhaps the most helpful coping technique ability etc that I could possibly have.

So because of that I am very scared of situations that will make me feel sick either physically or emotionally. I just lack perspective. Once I start feeling like that it feels like everything in my life has gone to hell and nothing will ever be good again. A few hours later if the stimulus is gone I can be perfectly happy, but, it doesn't take away from how terrifying the feelings from before can be. I wish I had a way to change that.

If you're worried about and/or hate something, one of the surest
way to increase your fears of it to huge porportions is remove the item for two years and then bring it back. Yup. Nothing like being out of practice.

But it is May 17. I don't know how much time I have left. I am scared. I am scared! Oh so scared. But I must not let my emotions get the best of me. I know where that leads. And it's not good.


Three years ago, approximately, my biggest problem in life was humidity. Granted, a seasonal problem, but a problem beyond belief in the summer. Humidity didn't used to bother me much before my junior or senior year of college. When I came home from school after my senior year though, WHAM!

Maine is probably the least humid state on the East coast, by far, but you wouldn't know it to look at me. My memories of this time are despicable. How can I describe the symptoms? The feeling of someone sitting on my chest, on my head, the feeling of so much pressure being exerted on my joints, on my body, that I felt like I couldn't walk, I couldn't breathe? I still don't know if for sure humidity is the culprit, or the entire culprit, here; because some days when other people said it was humid I was fine, and many, many, MANY days when I said it was humid, no one else thought it was. So perhaps it is some other kind of atmospheric conditon besides humidity, or in addition to. Whatever. For the purposes of giving it a name, and a more than likely but who knows correct name too, I shall call it humidity.

You can't imagine what this feels like unless you have been there. Maybe others have, and if so I'd like to hear about it. I know a lot of people have trouble with humidity too, my dad included, but I highly doubt they have trouble to the same level I do (unless they're I dunno just stoic about it, less sensitive to it, or can brush it off more easily, who knows).

In Baltimore, I have memories of trying so valiantly to walk from the student center to the academic buildings, a distance of mayne an eighth of a mile... maybe five or six minutes. And feeling like I was going to die before I got there, having to stop, kneel down, sit down, and just mentally yell at myself to keep going. Watching all the happy go lucky people easily walking around me, laughing, and talking about *what beautiful weather* it was elevated it to a level of pure torture.

I remember it being so bad once in Maine that walking from the Maine Mall entrance to the Borders next door, a distance of again maybe three to four minutes if that, was pure torture, a a slow race of endurance, every step an enormous effort. People have used analogies such as "swimming through molassess", and never having done such a thing, I do not know how it would compare.

Even at this early time in the season, there are plenty of mildly humid days, and when I step outside, IF I step outside, I step back immediately. It's a feeling of all the air being sucked from my lungs. It's like someone inserted a tube in my chest and pulled out all the air. I feel faint and weak. Not dizzy per se, but just like I'm not getting enough oxygen. My mental faculties are dulled, I have trouble talking, I'm extremely irritable.

The feeling was at once both horrific and, if I could view it from an outsider's perspective, stunning and slightly curious. At my worst, I mean. The weirdest feeling was simply, as I said, *the amount of pressure being exerted on my body.* I felt like I could not move through space nearly as easily as before. Like my body was being weighted down by something. In addition to the whole feeling like I couldn't breathe thing. Now where in the world could those feelings come from?

Frizzy hair, which seems to be most people's chief complaint in humidity, is the least of my concerns. Or feeling sticky. No, I wouldn't mind either one of those.

But let's fast forward a little. After two summers of battling severe humidity problems, a new little problem showed up. Well, not so little. In fact, it's the one that's defined my life the last three years or so. October of 2007 is when I developed my severe chemical sensitivity problems. And obviously, after that, I had a whole other can of worms to deal with. But it was interesting, in some ways, how some of my symptoms seemed to mimick the symptoms I got in humidity. The pressure on my head after an exposure, the brain fog, the shortness of breath - why, in some ways, it was like having all the fun of the summer, only not in the summer, and with a million other problems to deal with at once! Ha, ha, ha. Obviously, those were not the only symptoms of my MCS; the other ones were far more devastating. Those particular symptoms were much lessened in their MCS provocation, but were made up for by other worse MCS symptoms.

But the idea did cross my mind that if I felt that way as my normal state, what was going to happen when summer came and I got to experience all the fun of humidity in addition to my already compromised state, without the ability to go into any buildings for air conditioning or entertainment? Oh man the nightmares I had over that one. Or would have if I'd allowed myself to think about it for very long.

As fate would have it, I ended up in Missoula, Montana the next summer (where my mom lives). I stayed from April to November, perfectly missing the East coast humidity season. I didn't know before I went that Montana has no humidity, but boy did I love it. It was the first time in my entire life I had ever truly enjoyed being outside. It could be 80-90 degrees and I wouldn't care. Living in Missoula had other problems, of course, but the one great thing about it was the weather. The next summer, as things turned out, I ended up going to Oregon from May to September. Again, this was not planned to have anything to do with the humidity and was purely incidental to my whole MCS finding a place to live thing. But I remember thinking on the plane on the way there, and before I left, "If nothing else comes of this whole crazy venture, at the very least I will have gotten out of the East coast for the summer."

So, for two years, I dodged the bullet. But now ( I hope ) my traveling days are over and I am rooted in my beloved state of Maine, and I want to stay here. I absolutely love Maine nine months of the year. I love the winter. I go outside almost every day in the winter. It's without a doubt the place I want to be, and I value my stability, and the, knock on wood, relatively stable and much more functional than usual last few months I have had here very much. It was a mild winter and a mostly beautiful spring. But nearly every day since I got here in December, I have been dreading the summer. Man, those six months went by fast! On the one hand, I should be happy - I couldn't have hardly imagined in December that I'd still be here and happy six months (six months!!!!) later. I am thankful for that.

But every day forward on the calendar feels a little to me like a prisoner on death row flipping forward the pages to the day of his execution, if you'll pardon the analogy. April 15. May 1. May 15. May 16. May 17. Less than two weeks until June. A sinking feeling appears in my stomach when I think of that. When will it start? When will be the beginning of the end? It has already started; I know that. I only go for walks about twice a week now and I have to force myself to do even that. I just can't deal with the air or wondering how the air will be the rest of the days. The humid days affect me even inside, although not nearly as bad as when I was at my dad's; this house has much better insulation.

So here I am. On the East coast for the summer for the first time in three years. Wondering how best to deal with the upcoming summer season. Three to four months is an AWFULLY long time to be miserable, in my opinion. I could say "Maybe it won't be so bad," although I'd be lying. I do think it will be better because of the insulation in this house. And I am thankful for being able to watch TV to get my mind off things. Of course, a window AC in my room might help (if cost is not prohibitive and if I can tolerate it), but I'd rather not spend the entire summer in my room. Although I may have to. We'll see. Nate and I used to do summer activities in air conditioned buildings, like see plays, go to arcades, out to dinner, and so on. Can't do that anymore. Haven't been able to for almost three years. Oooh, what fun! Summer recreation plans dashed. My dad lives on a beautiful lake, but even though I absolutely love to swim in it, the year I was living there during summer I went in only a handful of times - I simply couldn't bear being out in the humidity. Whole Foods may be the only option; at least I have that!

I did at least finally manage to see a doctor (progress!) who has referred me to a pulmonologist, who is going to do a pulmonary function test on me to see if he can find anything. He's going to do it both with and without asthma meds to see if there's a difference. Of course I hope there is and I hope they can find something that can be helped, but who knows. On the one hand, most people who I have described these symptoms to over the years say it sounds just like ashtma, although with slightly different symptoms (no wheezing or coughing). Others don't think so. Considering that I had a lung collapse at age 13 and was very premature as a baby, I wonder if there is some kind of congenital lung issue that is causing these problems, but of course that's very vague and hard to pin down. I also wonder why I never had these problems till the middle of college, about a year before the onset of my chemical sensitivities - somehow they have to be related. Something was weakened in my body, somehow.

The only other medically interesting note is that I remember once for some reason holding my nose and realizing that most of the symptoms, or maybe half of them anyway, went away while doing this. Of course this not a practical long term solution, and I have no idea whatsoever that could mean.

Barometric pressure has commonly been described as causing feelings of pressure on joints, but I only have these symptoms i in the summer, so that doesn't make sense.

Buying a dehumidifer might help though....maybe more so than an AC...who knows.

Anyway I am totally losing my train of thought focus here so I am going to stop now.

Although on one last note I just discovered something called Biometeorology. It is "the interdisciplinary study of increasing importance as correlations are being drawn between certain types of meteorological conditions and the health of plants, humans, and all other animals." (

And don't even get me started about mosquitos. They didnt have them in OR or MT either ,or at least not many of them. New England mosquitos are the worst.

Yes, I am just *so* looking forward to summer, lol

Perhaps writing this will have made me a little more prepared and mentally ready, maybe not, who knows, at least I tried. One more thing to cross of my to do list.

I shall go read some blogs now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Choose Your Life

I just finished reading a great and very thought provoking book called "When Nietzche Wept," by Irvin Yalom. It was a very profound story to me, and I'd like to share the story with you.

This book is a fictional tale of an imagined encounter between a prominent Vienna doctor, Dr. Breuer and the now famous philosopher, Nietzche, back in the 1800s.

It takes place before the invention of psychotherapy. A woman persuades Breuer to try to help her friend Nietzche, who is suffering, she says, from despair. "Despair?" says Breuer. "What do I know about treating despair?" He decides to try anyway.

Because Nietzche is not willing to consent to treatment, Breuer makes a ploy where he claims despair himself and asks Nietzche, , a philosopher with many ideas about the human condition, to treat him while Breuer looks over Nietzche's physical condition.

At first Breuer tries to pry information out of Nietzche, but Nietzche refuses to share anything personal, believing it a form of weakness.

After several sessions, Breuer forgets about trying to manipulate Nietzche, and genuinely becomes the patient. He is depressed and suffers with an obsession over a former patient.

The long and short of the book is this, which brought up several meaningful themes for me:

Breuer is depressed because, although he has a good life as a prominent, respected doctor, a loving wife and family, money and so on, he feels restricted. He longs for freedom. He feels that he was forced into this life because of his culture and expectations of his family and the culture around him. He doesn't realize this for a long time, of course, but in the end this is what it amounts to.

Nietzche says that the most important thing in life is to "Choose your life." He says that Breuer has not chosen his life, and that is the reason for his despair, and also the reason for his obsession with his patient Bertha. Bertha represents living dangerously, passion, magic and escape to Breuer. Breuer resists this theory at first, but at the end of the book he comes to agree. He is hypnotized and imagines leaving his wife, kids and life to be free in Italy. He discovers he does not like it very much. When he becomes conscious again, he is invigorated because he realizes he actually does like the life he has, and he "chooses" it. "I choose to be married to you today," he tells his wife.

After Breuer has his epiphany, Nietzche finally reveals his story. Due to Nietzche 's loneliness and wandering lifestyle, Breuer offers to let Nietzche stay at his house, so that he will not be so isolated. Nietzche refuses, though, and Breuer is dissapointed, thinking after all this time, he has done nothing to help Nietzche.

Nietzche reassures Breuer that he has indeed given him something very powerful: the freedom of choice. Having been offered an alternative and refused it, he is now free to "choose his life,"
and be happy about it; before he felt bound by it.

"Isolation only exists in isolation," he says. "When it is shared, it evaporates."

"The moment I talked of not being able to touch another was the very moment I was able to be touched by you."

The above remarks are Nietzche commenting on his situation relevant to the therapy experience.

I have read lots of psychology related books, and a good number of books on psychotherapy, but this is the first one that really brought home what the process of psychotherapy was really about.

Another theme was discovering the origin and meaning of each symptom. To do this, Breuer "chimneyswept" (did free thinking/association) about whatever thoughts came to mind regarding the symptoms, which eventually lead to relevations about their meaning.


Personal application

There is a personal application to this that I was thinking about when I was reading. I started thinking about different ways that you can "choose your life." Choose your way of thinking and your reactions to things - that's something I work hard on and am getting better at. I try to reframe things that happen as best I can so I can not get so angry or scared of things.

Choose your decisions - I put a lot of thought into my decisions and I always make damn sure that I am making a decision that I can stand by and be proud of for years into the future. Even if things don't go as planned, and the decision turns out to be not the best one in retrospect, I know I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time.

Choosing your will - and standing up to people who would try to change your will and your decisions because they think they know what is best for you - has been another important one for me. I especially think of those crucial few days in Bend, when the decisions I made for myself, and the pressure I resisted in making them, changed the entire course of my life for the better. I am eternally grateful for having, dare I say it, the strength of character and courage to make those decisions, as well as, of course, being lucky enough to have certain other factors fall into place when they did so I that I was lucky enough to have decisions to make.

My roommate, wanting me out on short notice, was hell bent on me going back to my mom's in Missoula (Montana). I was hell bent on not going, provided I could somehow find a way to avoid it. She made the plane tickets. I told her there was a good chance I wouldn't use them. She said fine. And for the next four days or so, I spent almost every waking moment researching other options, some way to escape the fate that she was trying so desperately to force on me. No offense to my mom, but I knew it wasn't the right place for me. I knew I wouldn't flourish there. I had too much of life left to live, and damn it, I wanted to find a way to live it. I felt that it wouldn't happen there.

I was stuck in the middle of Oregon, on the other side of the country from my family, with no ability to drive myself anywhere and knowing almost no one in the area. That, and I had severe chemical sensitivities that prevented me from being able to live just about anywhere, which is why I was in the middle of nowhere Oregon in the first place. Some might have said it was impossible. Clearly, my roommate thought it was. But I didn't (think, at the time, about possible or impossible. I just knew I had to put every ounce of myself into the task of trying, in every avenue I could, or else I would regret it forever. I would not go easily.

I am forever indebted to both Julie and Joe. Julie was the one who found me the eco-friendly apartment to live in in a hippie commune in Eugene, and Joe is the one who agreed - at 5 p.m. the day before I was supposed to fly to Missoula, no less, talk about a last minute reprieve! - to drive me the 2 hours there. My friend Leslie was gracious enough to let me stay in her house the last night I was there.

I had never met Joe before. I had only talked to him once. I knew him through an online friend in Australia - she was his stepson. He had no obligation towards me, no reason to say yes, but he did. He said yes. Against all odds. He was my last hope, and he said yes. I tell you, that was the sweetest "yes" I have ever heard in my life.

It was a big risk - going to some hippie commune in a city I'd never been to, not even knowing how I'd get my groceries, with someone I'd never met (but trusted, as I wouldn't have gone with someone I felt was going to put me in danger). I am not a risk taker by nature. But to me, not doing it was a far, far bigger risk. I wanted to live my life. I wanted independence. I wanted chemical free living arrangements. And if this is the way I had to to do it, so be it.

I chose my life.

I chose my life.

What a statement. I didn't think that much about it at the time, but others have told me they feel I have courage, bravery, all kinds of words I never would have applied to myself before. They reminded me of how many people languish in situations that are toxic for them - physically or emotionally - not making any effort to get themselves out. I did.

And here I am at what I hope is the end, or at least a good long stopping point, of my long and winding journey. Back home in Maine. Living with a woman who brings a smile to my face every day, in a town I love. In really the best possible situation I could imagine for myself, although of course nothing is perfect.

I'd say my long and winding road worked out all right.

Many nights, I get frustrated and hopeless and so fed up with the problems I still have. But then I get a glimpse of memory of how much worse it could be, would be, and I feel a flash of gratefulness that temporarily eclipses those feelings.


My roommate from Bend, who I hadn't spoken to in several months, emailed me a few nights ago out of the blue. In her well-intentioned email, she mentioned the equivalent of an "I told you so," saying something along the lines of "See, I told you you'd be better off living near family." The comment and a seperate one she made angered me so much that I had trouble containing my anger. I followed my own path, and I ended up okay. Had I followed the path she so direly wanted me to follow, I would have been living a very dependent and unhappy life that I would have had a lot of trouble getting out of. The fact that I ended up near family is wonderful but incidental. (I did have family help in moving here, which I appreciate and want to acknowledge, but it is besides the point that I am trying to make.) The fact that I had a lot more journey to follow before I could end up in a place that was right for me is the important part and the part that she apparently doesn't get. My life was meant to be lived in Maine, living independently, not in Montana.

And so when I read "When Nietzche Wept," and his ideas about choice, I was once again grateful for the choices I made. While those few days in Bend were not pleasant to endure, they were in some ways my proudest moment. I think people should live for themselves, and do what they think is right, to the best of their abilities, instead of falling prey to other people's will. Sometimes, you don't have any choice, but if you do, you should follow your heart. Whether the choices eventually turn out to be right or wrong, you will never own yourself, you will never be satisfied with your life or yourself, if you do not follow your own will.

I have a lot of living left to do and I hope I can continue to put these ideas into use. I am not saying that I do not value advice and support from others. I do very much, and I do not deny that the support and advice of my nearby family has been invaluable. But you have to have the final say. I would like to be able to change my thinking and my life circumstances even further, but if there is one thing I have learned, you can't rush things, or push yourself into situations you're just not ready for. They won't work. I hope time will eventually have in store for me a life that is more in lines with the one I'd like to live, but I suppose I have to be patient and wait.

This principle is perhaps particularly applicable to people with disabilities, who have to learn how to live with, and how to accept, a whole new set of challenges they didn't ask for or want. But those who undertake the extremely difficult task of embracing their challenges and accepting them as part of them are perhaps the most inspirational of all.

In the meantime, I have to figure out how to apply the principle of "Choose your life" into not getting frustrated and angered at at the health challenges I am facing that so much restrict my life. It helps to have a routine, and to remember what I am capable of. I am always on guard with my mind, trying to train it not to linger in areas that will be unproductive for me. Time will tell. Until then, veni vedi vici.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Beautiful Reminder

After a week of not going outside, terrorized by my experience last week, I finally did the deed today. I had to wait for the humidity to go away and for my fears of a repeat of Thursday's experience to lessen.

Luckily, it was about 68 degrees, sunny, no humidity and a light breeze: my favorite kind of weather. No P-problem either.

I walked to the Town Landing beach; I wasn't going to at first because I really wasn't up for the uphill on the way back. When I had gotten that far, though, to the top of the hill by the market, I thought, How could I not? The ocean is below this hill, and I want to see the ocean.

Every time I walk down that long and winding, steep road , which has admittedly only been twice, I always think of Newport. Newport featured a much longer and steeper hill you had to get down to get to the ocean, but that first magnficient view of the ocean when you'd gotten partway down was always worth it. Same thing here, on a smaller scale.

The beach was just magnificent today. It's a very small beach that is actually the town boat launch. Today it was high tide, which I had never seen before. All the rocks and 90% of the beach were gone! The water lapped against the edge of the parking lot! It was quite a sight, and so soothing to stand there watching the waves ebb in and out.

Thank God, the second I descended into the tiny parking lot, a strong breeze descended on me. I was hoping for a breeze, and I got one. The wind made all my senses tingle and dance in delight. I love wind when it's warm out. It just makes me feel so good. After being so hot for several days, too, it felt like heaven. I just stood there and let the wind massage my body. Then I walked town the dock/pier/whatever you call it.

They had put in two new floating docks, one in the front and one on the left. Two paddle boats were tied to one. It was great fun to walk on them and feel the vibration and movement of the docks as the choppy water moved them.

Just as I was about to leave, I saw a young man and woman about to put a kayak into the water, and I stopped to watch them, surprised. I had not known you could kayak in the ocean before, and was surprised they'd do it when the water was so choppy! It reminded me of watching the kayakers on the river in Missoula.

They did extremely well - it was a double kayak and they both rowed in such unison and with such strength that you would have thought it was a machine. At first they stayed near the shore, then they went off into the distance, and I watched until I could not see them anymore.

I listened to the music on my Walkman and sat on a bench with a big smile on my face.

After about forty minutes, I left, and smiled at the two Siberian Huskies loitering on a nearby lawn while their owner mowed it. I noted with pleasure the kid in a yard playing on a pogo stick. A pogo stick, of all things! Boing, boing, boing!

The walk back seemed so much easier than the walk there, which had been something of a struggle. I almost would have stayed out longer, but I was tired by then.

I still had a smile on my face when I walked into the house. It's nice to know that there can still be some good days in the midst of all the bad. I have to remember that even if the summer is humid 70% of the time, there will still be *some * days when it is tolerable to go out (I hope).

I thought when I walked how damn lucky I was to move to a place that was not only in Maine, not only right outside Portland and 2 miles from where I grew up, but WALKING DISTANCE TO A BEACH. I mean really, what more could you want? Other than the no humidity thing, of course.

Which I still need to write about. I feel if I write about it will make me feel better and more prepared. But for some reason, perhaps the unwitting lifting of a 550 page hardcover book in a package earlier, my right shoulder and hand are hurting, a considerable amount, and it has been a challenge to even write this. So that will have to wait for another night. I will have to deal with it without the benefit of mental preparation as of yet.

Everywhere we go, there we are. I like that I have memories of past experiences that can be triggered by local things; I can experience the best of several states all at once at a local beach in Maine. And I can appreciate the details in a way I would wager many people might not.

Appreciation for detail - it's both the blessing and the curse of autism.