Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving and a Compendium of Past Experiences

Hmm, I haven't written in this blog in two months so I suppose it's time for a little something.

Maybe I can just paste some of my Facebook updates into here.... I really don't feel like re-inventing the wheel.

I went to my grandparents' in Springfield, MA for four days for Thanksgiving. I don't usually travel much, so it was a stretch for me, but one that proved fruitful. My friend Rob drove to Boston to spend the holiday with his friends, and my mom drove to Boston to meet me since it was relatively speaking not that far. Compared with Maine, anyway. I spent Thurs and Fri with Sat and then Sat and Sun with Rob, exploring Northhampton and meeting some friends in Boston. Got home late Sun night.

I went through my Facebook posts to mid-October and pulled out anything that looked like it told a story. What do you know.... It looks like I actually have a life. A bizarre and non standard life to be sure but a life. I may have to rethink my opinion of myself, lol. And work on building my life so that it includes more and more of what I want it to - I hope.

I write most often on Facebook so here is a long compendium of comments on the last 6 weeks.... Call it blog catch-up.

Mon, Nov 26

Well, I'm back, what a trip! Still trying to orient myself to being back and trying to take it slowly. 

Going to look at my pictures next. they should be great! We had great weather... Thurs, Thanksgiving, I got to see some cousins I almost never get to see, the little one as cute as could be... as well as all my other family which was great.... 5 lb whoopie pie was a great gag even if no one ate it... except for certain visiting relatives the next day =) The gelato from the Gelato Fiasco that I took from here went over VERY well, *everyone* loved it. The strawberry and the dark choco. Too bad there isnt one in any area near there. (Closest an hour away in CT).

Adam, Alison, Doug, Nikki, her boyfriend, Kyla, Sierra, Jake, Mom, Ned and the grandparents were all there. 

Fri, got to go to Barnes and Nobles for 90 min which was awesome. No B&N here but there's one 5 min from my grandma's in Enfield, CT that is quite good. 

Hung out more with family. Read book ("Carly's Voice," very good). More family came. My dad and stepmom came to see brother. Etc.
Sat, Rob came and we spent the evening in Northhampton. Very cool. Went to FACES ,candy store, Haymarket cafe.

Sun, we spent half the day battling traffic (can you say STURBRIDGE?) but got to meet my blogger friend Jess of A  Diary of a Mom 
and her family on the way back, which was very wonderful. And then my online friend Nichole, who I had wanted to meet for a long time and who was gracious enough to bring me the vegan chocolates from Brookline I had been craving.

Got back around midnight last night. It was very good trip overall. But it's very good to be home. Springfield radio stations suck =) And our whole foods is better than their whole foods, lol. Just kidding, there are more important things in life than.... oh wait, who am I kidding?

Nov 21

bedtime..... today was mostly good, started slow, but I saw my former high school guidance counselor who I meet a few times a year as friends and that was very nice, even if we only had half an hour. saw Nate for half an hour. Did my grocery shopping. And had a wonderful conversation with a woman from my meetup group that lasted 2 hrs but felt like 10 minutes, that made me happy that we were able to connect. I wanted more. =) Patience. 

Nov 19

Just watched latest episode of Once Upon a Time, which is a week old. Omg, I am beginning to really love this show. It's completely made-up and fantastical, if that's a word, but it manages to still be extremely interesting and even, surprisingly, inspirational. How a show of this nature could ever be inspirational eluded me at first, but I guess it has something to do with the parable nature of fairy tales... Or something? Ha I dunno I may be reading too much into it, BUT, 

There was a woman who turned into a wolf every full moon, would black out, kill people, not remember it. She had a cloak that she used to keep from turning into a wolf. But then someone taught her that if she accepted the wolf part of herself and didn't try to suppress it, she'd remember/be aware of what was happening and therefore be able to control it. And not kill people. And it worked. Sure, she had to kill her mother after learning this little nugget, but that's a whole other story. =) 
The applications to real life, mother killing aside (mother was about to kill her best friend), are rather staggering. Simplistic yet profound.

Nov 18

Nice day out with first meeting Carol from my meetup group for some very enjoyable conversation, then Rob and Reid for some more conversation and some games, modified Malarkey in particular. Somehow I managed to spend 6 hours today in whole foods. 2 with Carol, 4 with R/R... *shakes head* wow, time flies when you're having fun, lol. good thing i got some exercise before, walking to bus and WF - it was a beautiful day. 
Bedtime is imminent........ Not quite yet, but imminent.

Nov 17

On a more positive note, what did I do today.....Unexpectedly spent most of the day with Rob, which was good. We went over to Falmouth, walked a little bit down Route 1 for exercise, and went to the toy store I've been meaning to take Rob to for ages... cus they have some games I thought he'd like. We spent a while in there....I got a few little things, he got a few things he liked. Went to Radio Shack, trying to replace my headphones that are 99% broken (I can sometimes get them to work with lots of manual manipulation of the cords, for at least a few minutes at a time...haha not much) - Only to find that the kind of headphones I've been buying from Radio Shack for 15 years - ever since I started listening to music on a Walkman - they no longer make. I tried on almost every other kind they had in the store but none I could tolerate - my head is very sensitive to pressure. Lovely. Will look online or they suggested dollar store. 

Apparently, the kind I like - the cheap ones with foam that are very lightweight and balance very loosely on your head, over the head style - "no one buys anymore," in favor of cushioned ones in weird shapes that put way too much pressure on my head.

So if anyone has a pair that like I mentioned that they would like to trade for a new pair of their choice please let me know!

Nov 16

I'm thinking of gratefulness, of self-confidence and self-love. About schemas and how to gradually change the idea of you have of yourself, how others see you and what you're capable of to a more positive level. Of how you spend the first say 25-30 years of your life learning lessons about yourself and the world, and then you often have to spend the rest of your life unlearning them. 

I said this in response to something we were talking about in the group the other night, okay last night, and for once the facilitator didn't respond with some platitude that made no sense when coupled with reality. She said, "I don't know, but there must be a reason!" In a sense ,she agreed with me. 

It's probably not possible to design a system where people could skip from the entirely awkward and often painful stages of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood to the relative wisdom, perspective and experience of just plain "adulthood," but if there was, I'd be all for it! It seems like to some degree life only starts making some amount of sense after you've spent three decades trying to make sense of it. And I do mean *starting*, as it's really only just begun. But I hope it continues.

Nov 15

Had the most interesting night. Had another Meetup of the spiritual self help type group , she provided much more room for discussion tonight so that was good. People were great again and the fact that I knew 2 of them and one of them relatively well made me a lot more comfortable. There were about 10-11 people again but 4 new ones, 1 guy, 3 women, all young. The older woman (or one of them) I liked was there again which was good as I had missed her name on the RSVP list. Met with G*** beforehand, an older guy who I liked last time but hadn't met yet. Was okay, didn't really connect as much as I had thought we would. Might be partly because he said he didn't feel comfortable having an intimate discussion in whole foods, which has never bothered me, so it was rather one sided. I respect but that but yea whatever. What I did get out of him was a little too out there for me. But he's a very nice guy, and I was able to do my grocery shopping beforehand which was good.

Amusing ancedote of the night. I managed something I did not know was possible. Well, it wasn't just me. But. We somehow got lost going from Whole Foods to Falmouth. We got lost going from WF TO FALMOUTH! I've only done that trip about oh 1-2x a week for almost the entire time I lived in Falmouth for 3 yrs? I am really directionally illiterate, lol. I would have been really embarassed if I hadn't accepted that a long time ago. He forgot his phone which had a GPS on it and couldn't understand the directions. He was confused cus it kept telling us to go to Route 9. But that's in Cumberland. I think. It also told us to go to Bucknam. Falmouth. Ok, that makes sense. But... we got off the highway.... and we were nowhere near there. I have no idea where we were. West Falmouth maybe but how did we get there? Eventually he just got back on the turnpike and got off at the yarmouth exit.... we were half an hour late but luckily someone else was too and they held the meeting for us, so. 

Nov 14

Encounters of the Strange but Wonderful Kind 

Okay so yeah I don't really know where to begin but ..... I did a lot of things today. Like left at noon got back at 10pm lots of things. Only one of them was planned. Well, two if you want to get technical. Appt at 1 pm on St John St. Took 1215 bus because I couldnt get up early enuf to make 1135 one which I took cus I didnt think 1215 would connect. BUT, the Congress St (#1) bus stops at the TOP all really along Congress, which is obvious, but none of the other buses I actually take do so I forgot that I could get off the SP bus what amounts to 5-8 minutes early and be right at the #1 stop. That was VERY convenient. So I did make the connection despite the SP bus being 8 minutes late. And I even figured out what side of the street to go on with the help of some friendly street denizens. (Is that a word?)

Apparently no one knows what to call it but "the old train station building." Although the bus driver says it's called Union Station. The sign says it was called the Maine Railroad Building or some such thing. Never seen any one place have so many names! 

Either way, it was BEAUTIFUL. All old wooden floors , long narrow but pretty WOODEN hallways. Love, love, love. Reminded me of a similar building in Montana. Had appt. Was like neutral. More on that another time. 

After appt. Three hour conversation with an older woman who happened to be reading the bullentin board above where I was sitting. Three hours! I can't even begin to go into this woman's heartbreaks because my heart and head are still processing. But man it made me want to HELP PEOPLE because it is SO REWARDING. 

She needed someone to listen, so badly. She had so many people telling her she was crazy, not listening, not believing her. She lives in one of the worst apartment complexes in Portland (or so I believe). She has no or very little family, friends, support. 
She has severe ADD, went to some stupid clinic with a stupid beyond belief psychiatrist that I won't even get into. Spent her life feeling like she didnt fit in anywhere till she was diagnosed with ADD at age 51! 61 now. Psychiatrist she has now sounds just plain abusive. She's so sensitive to the world, even more so than me it seems, cant stand noise of traffic, or smells either, complained about chemicals before I even mentioned it. Complaining of dizziness, fogginess , memory loss lately, did I mention she just had new carpet put in her apt, it was put in when she moved in that is. Poor woman! She goes down to the laundry room or sits in the stairs just to get away from it. She was wandering around the train station building because it was quiet and made her feel calm. I felt for her. Can we say, my life story? Complimented me up and down about being smart and a good listener and all sorts, I was flattered, but wanted to help.

Called the community counseling center on her behalf, offered suggestions where I could, and made an appt with her doctor at Martins point for her (thank goodness she has one, at a reputable place too) because it was something she had just had too much anxiety about to be able to do herself. Sounds familiar. 

Person I saw came out to close the office down saw me sitting there still gave me a quizzical look lol. 

Left at 5, got the bus back to Mon Sq with no problem - it's the first bus in ages I can remember being on time. Went straight to gelato place, I needed energy. Friendly as they could be there. The girl I talked to last time was there. We had conversations about lox and the Broadway show CATS. I wasn't planning to stay for long but couldn't resist a good conversation with her. Probably stayed there 2 hrs. Went to WF cus I needed crackers and meat. The sweet air of independence , freedom , self sufficiency was with me. The walk to whole foods felt great. Wandered around there for an hour. Walked back up, air still felt great and I was as warm as could be , surprised to find out it was only 38. When it's not windy and you're bundled up and the temp's 30 or above winter can actually be quite nice. 
I got the 24A bus back - the one that stops near my house that I almost never get - and it was only like 2 min late. So thankful not to have to wait. I couldn't believe it, Id been out for 10 hours, 10 hours! , wandering around Portland, on my own, finding things to do. So tired I could barely stand up when i got home. obviously.

I need to find a way to help people, to hear their stories, to offer emotional support . it makes me feel complete. and tired. but mostly complete. hell the world isn't black and white, it can do both, right?

Nov 10

So yeah good day today. Weather was so nice, sunny, not windy I got up and immediately knew I had to go out. And I suspected that the GF might still have their dark chocolate banana I had been craving the last 2 days as their average is about three days usually with that. I checked and they had it. I called a few friends, the first 2 didn't want to go, the 3rd did. Golden! I would have gone anyway but much more fun with someone. It was delicious - so amazingly delicious - wish they would have it more. Rich dark chocolate....banana....chocolate...banana...chocolate....banana....chocolate...banana... what do you mean I ate it all??? =)

Woman at the counter I'd never seen before, so friendly, got into long conversation with. Played some games with Amber, saw Nate for a few min. Had annoying time getting bus home but it wasn't too cold luckily. Hung out with Ryan for a bit at the house, he helped me get some stuff I needed locally. So, good. 

Now I need to go to bed, leave at 145 tomorrow. Patience, must be patient. Night all!

Nov 10

File this under "Full Disclosure Would Be Nice"

Little coffee shop/bakery in Monument Sq has been there for years and had gelato before anywhere else in Portland did. It was terrible, but that was so many years ago I decided to walk in and give the place another try. After like 5 yrs. It advertised gluten/vegan goods, so. 

I wanted to know what ingredients they used besides the base, because there almost always are some. 
First attempt "Just water as a base"
Second attempt "Just water, sugar and fruit" she said. 
It took me 5 more and more specific questions before she finally admitted or got an answer from the guy who owns the place that yes they added carrageenanan into it too.
Gee, you couldnt have said that in the first place? 
When I ask what the ingredients are, I would like to know ALL of them. When I ask if you use any thickening agents I shouldn't have to ask twice and name the specific ones to get an answer. 
For a place advertising their gluten free and vegan items so prominently in the window - which is why I walked in - you'd think they'd be more careful with food sensitivities.

So then I walked over to the gelato fiasco and enjoyed their wonderful carrageenan free, ingredients completely disclosed, delicious dark chocolate banana sorbetto =) i thought i'd give it a try, but I never did like that guy.

Nov 9

I must admit, while I am thinking about it, that walking to whole foods yesterday from the bus was really nothing short of invigorating. I wore my nice warm gloves for the first time this year. The wind wasn't too bad. When you get into a nice walking rhythm you're much less apt to be cold. And I was in a good mood from the bus ride. So, the air felt crisp and clear and invigorating. Funny how frame of mind influences this. Before it had just felt cold and I had wanted to get out of it as quickly as possible. But as much as I'm not looking forward to the upcoming colder weather... when dressed appropriately, and mixed with certain positive experiences, that air can feel *good*. 

(Just taking a moment to be thankful and procrastinate at the same time, that is all, carry on.) =) 

*I reserve the right to complain for the 90% of time that invigorating becomes a little over the top, lol (whoever thought I'd be looking forward to winter even less than summer. I never thought that was possible.) 

*goes back to article writing*

Nov 9

What else did I do yesterday... it was a pretty good day overall. I had a therapy appt, which went better than usual. I had some nice conversation with the woman who works behind the desk at True North, which is right next door. I had a great bus ride with Barry and talked about the bus. And I had fun with Rob and Reid at WF, playing a game and talking. Also one of my meetup friends dropped by with her boyfriend for a bit and I managed somehow to integrate the conversation, more or less, between all. (Day after election day made it pretty easy to find conversation topics for once.) 

So that was good and I was happy. Then it was so cold and stormy tho... slept most of the night and day. But it was nice to have a good day.

Nov 6

M and I went to the Barnes and Noble in Augusta. There were games. LOTS, AND LOTS, AND LOTS OF GAMES! There were so games, I don't think I was entirely aware there were books there. =)    ( also went to whoopie pie store - Isamax - in Gardener as well) 

oct 19 2012
Yesterday, when I got off the bus, an older man next to me asked the driver if the bus went to the cruise ship. He said no, but I can let you off here and you can walk. Well, I knew he probably didn't know how to get there, and I had been just sitting there thinking how I never got to meet anyone interesting, so I immediately said "I'll walk you to the cruise ship if you don't know how to get there." He said he didn't, and accepted.

It was a sunny and warm day, a perfect day for a walk, and we ran into Ryan and Amber. They as expected did not bat an eye when I said we were walking a random guy to the cruise ship. lol

He was from Las Vegas, and I tried to play tour guide as much as possible, but while polite he wasn't very chatty. It was still fun showing him our beautiful city. Poor guy went all the way to Scarborough to Walmart to get a prescription. If he HAD to go to Walmart, Falmouth would have been much closer (at least the way the buses work). He thanked me sincerely when he got there (its about a 10-15 min walk but such a nice one) and the memory of this made me smile for the rest of the day. (And the cruise ship vendors were cool too.)

oct 15 2012

I went to whole foods afterwards, because I *could*, and because I didnt feel like going home yet... and because where you get off at the metro stop is at least a quarter of the way closer than Mon. Sq so it doesnt really feel like exercise lol... and I had a hankering for the Maples dark chocolate sorbetto. You see, as amazing as the Gelato Fiasco dark chocolate is, sometimes it's just too intense to have very much of. The Maples is like a watered down version of it, which most of the time I eschew, but lately have been liking. I can eat far more of it before it's too much, lol. I had an idea today, I had  a banana and I got a plate and a plastic knife. I cut the banana into little pieces and tried to mash it as much as possible. Then I put the chocolate sorbetto over and tried to combine them. The result was absolutely delicious... a dark chocolate banana concoction  that tasted like both dark chocolate and banana and had some real substance to it. My mood improved substantially after this culinary experience. Here is the beginning of my efforts at this experiment, which I shall definitely repeat.

Discovering Who You Are (Meetup Group)

Psychology/Spirituality Meetup - from Oct 24, 2012

Yeah I have to go to bed but I have to write this before I do. I have to get it down on the virtual equivalent of paper. Yesterday I had a very full but a very good day. Along with a somewhat strange but mostly okay and short meeting with Marion, I did something I have never done before. I took a real step. Out of my comfort zone. I was brave and followed my instinct. The instinct that told me that meet-up I was talking about last night was worth putting all my resources into figuring out how to get to.

And I did get to it. It was in North Yarmouth, about 9 min from where we ate with Madeline in Yarmouth. At someone's house. I had talked to a guy named G before and he offered me a ride as did the facilitator but Rob ended up taking me. I asked about MCS stuff beforehand. There were 11 people, 10 women and one wonderful and gentle guy. It looked to be a psychology/self help related discussion group. It turned out to be more around spirituality and metaphysics, subjects Im not interested in, but it didn't matter. The people were wonderful. All of them. All of them I met anyway, which was about half roughly. They were supportive and welcoming and just great people.

I kind figured, well, I didn't know what the structure was supposed to be. I might have asked, had I not been so busy trying to a) acclimate to the environment b) talk to the people near me and c) try to remember what it is that NT people would typically do in a situation like this (or what little I knew on the subject anyway). So after she had been talking for about 15-20 min with no end in sight and no breaks I did get a bit  worried.

So I found ways to contribute things that were a little more relevant to my area of experience, but still relevant to what she was talking about. Amygdala retraining, the psychology and science behind some of the principles she was talking about, personal experiences. The people around me reacted in such a positive way! They were so supportive. They were so encouraging. They were so interested!

To start with, when the topic of my chemical sensitivities came up at the beginning, I heard this chorus of "Oh, I know someone who has that" or "My brother or cousin or friend is like that" or "They have trouble with XYZ..." and I'm like just sitting there stunned. This is not the reaction I usually get. One person even said "You were reallt brave to come here!" and everyone else nodded in agreement and it felt wonderful. I had to ask one fragranced person if she would mind switching seats with someone else, everyone was just wonderful about it.

So fast forward to the middle. We're in this living room and the couch was actually pretty comfortable. But enough is enough and I'm getting bored. The one woman who is actually sharing her experiences is talking about being afraid of being stuck in a dead end job if she tries to go back to work and her uncertainty over that. The facilitator says something about being okay with nothingness, I forget the exact words. It piques my interest, since obviously that is a major challenge for me at the moment. I find a way to relate it, verbally, to the group , about my experiences, and share a little about my story and my challenges and successes with MCS (far easier since the topic had already come up!)

People are fascinated. People are encouraged. People want to hear more. It's a really good feeling.

I zone out for a while more, facilitator talking about things I don't much understand, and then the topic of social norms comes up. I use that as an opportunity to bring up autism. Because, you know, I'm getting kind of bored, and why not be honest? Not enough energy to transcribe exactly what went on. But the woman two seats over from me has a son with autism, it sparks a wonderful conversation, and people applaud my honesty.

Zone out some more, because honestly figuring out how to talk in a group takes a lot of effort and energy, and before I know it its 830, 2 hrs have passed and they're doing a meditation to end it with this cool singing crystal bowl thing.

Three people want to have coffee with me. THREE PEOPLE WANT TO HAVE COFFEE WITH ME! And I with them. One person said "I really enjoyed having you here, I sure hope you  come back next time." The woman who has the son with autism turns out to be the one who lives in South Portland (1-2 mi from me ) and gives me a ride home. We talk animatedly and continue talking when we reach my house. I won't even go into how weird it was to figure out belatedly that she was my age roughly and that I liked her. And that for the first time in my life it was possible to like people my age. Like that just occurred to me. I always said I , no offense to anyone reading this, but I always said , I didnt want to have anything to do with anyone under 30. Because just socially it never worked. But here I am nearing 30 and all of a sudden people in their early 30s are "my age." And all of a sudden they're mature enough, at least the very few I have met, to be interesting worthwhile people. And it's like woaahhhh.

I did okay MCS wise with all involved. I'm not saying it was perfect but I did okay. It was the first time I have ever attempted to do anything social with anyone who does not have autism (or some closely related diagnosis or neurology) ..... ever? Since college? Since college, I guess, and that never went well, most of the time.

I love my Aspie friends. But the idea that I could have friends outside of the autism world, that I could succeed on my own merits in other environments with people who liked me, is pretty damn mind blowing.


And yes, I will be arranging those coffee dates as soon as I have a little recovery time.

I hardly know how to begin to process this, but I know it is wonderful. I also know I have to go to bed. I was far more functional than I expected today. Life!