Saturday, September 13, 2014

Movin' on Over (Quite Literally)

So as some of you have realized I haven't been up to date the last few weeks. I even posted a new post stating that I was going to be blogging again, which was two weeks ago. Simply put, massive changes have been occurring in my life of late. The biggest is that I moved. Let me rephrase that. Technically I moved, technically I didn't. Let me explain.

The idea was in my mom's head around ten years ago, at least what she made me aware of it. I recall her saying when I was applying for college "You know, if you go to school down south to Florida I will follow you". Well I didn't get accepted to Rollins College in Florida for baseball so it wasn't in the cards for her quite then. Every winter I would listen to her complain with the exact phrase "Why do we live here?" Mom was never one for the cold and especially the snow. Fast forward quite a few years to present time. She had gotten back with her off again on again (that is a rocky story all it own) boyfriend Curt. For quite a while she was all talk, but this year she decided to pull the trigger. She let myself first then Kara and Jeff, my siblings know that she was moving down to South Carolina. In truth there was nothing keeping her here so it wasn't a surprise to me at all. Kara and especially Jeff were a little dumbfounded I think, more so the latter. Jeff hated Curt because of the stuff her put my mom through mentally this last decade. I hated him for a while for the same thing but in the end they reconciled and decided to move together.

The first step was getting their respective houses on the market. I had a fun job cleaning the entire place for the first showing. Curt's house was on the market for two days my moms one weekend before they had multiple offers and sold. I'd say the real estate market it back, folks (actually my dad is a real estate developer so I knew what was possible). This came as a shock to everyone. His closing was very quick and no, these were not short sales either. My mom took a bit longer while FHA did there thing for what seemed like forever. What was holding it up was that the house, which had full amenities on the other side, was going to be condo'ed into two units had to have everything to a T. When there are two parties involved everything has to be set straight from the start as there is no tie breaker should a dispute come up. So mom was a stress ball for a couple months and then when summer was ending and Curt had already been living with us a few weeks by that point. FHA would say they were close but then not respond for a week and then come up with a new complaint about what needed to be done. I'm certain the new owners wanted to be in before school started and that is just what happened. Mid August we got a notice that we had 14 days (my lucky number) until closing. Things moved really fast after that.

I was moving in with my brother next door as I mentioned earlier (if I didn't you know now) to the condo that would become the same address followed by "A". I remember my last night in my old room which was neutral, I guess, just mixed feelings for me. I woke up did my usual routine and later that day moved most of my stuff over to the other side. I had to get at least the bed and other big stuff out and Curt had a buddy helping him load their truck headed to SC. They moved my stuff over no problem and I had a new home, just like that.

The first couple nights the bedroom didn't feel like mine. I wasn't startled when I awoke to use the bathroom late night or those mornings. You get used to something and then its gone. Growing up we lived in lots of houses (my dad is a real estate developer) and it always felt the same. We always stayed in the same town, until my parents divorced and I went to live with her a town over, but I have always considered myself a lifelong resident of Andover, MA because that is where I grew up and went to everything through high school even while living with mom a town over. After about a week the room finally felt like it was mine and I belonged there.

Getting my cat to believe it was another thing. Crosby and his rival pretty much rule the neighborhood. The first night I moved his food bowl out on the porch onto the patio table mom gave us and he came up to eat after I gave his treat bag a few hearty shakes. I then opened the door and tried to lure him in with treats (would have been easier but the cat nip was packed still) but he just leaned over the edge of  the table with an inquisitive look in his eye. This went on four a few minutes. I wasn't going to pick him up and force him in, rather let him make the choice. He did eventually cross the threshold, treats helped to coax him, and once we was in I released the screen door that gave a metallic crash sound he did not like. He jumped and looked around startled and then I said "We live here now" to him. I moved his food bowl to the carpeted  ledge going towards the basement and he began to eat. After that he explored the space with wide eyes and a low posture with his back bent like a surfer about to catch a wave. He explored the entire space like that then mowed to be let back out. The next time he came in it took about half the time and by the fourth or fifth time he was fine. He stills hangs out on the front steps and on the lawn but the neighbors like him so its fine. Even today, three weeks later, he is still a little wide eyed when walking around but I put some cat nip with his padded bed in my room (it was raining so he didn't want to go out anyways) and after eating his food and devouring the nip he lay in his bed grooming himself and then took a nap. I knew then that he was fine. As for me, let me backtrack to after my mom and Curt left but before I gave the keys to the attorney doing the sale.

With all the houses I've lived in starting with Salem St I have done the same routine when all the furniture is out. I walk in the door and go to each room and spend about a minute or so, sometimes more depending on how much time I was each over my time there, and recall all the memories in each. I visit every single room including bathrooms and the basement. I then visit my own room last and look out the window a la Sling Blade and reflect and tell myself that things are changing and I don't live here anymore. It all acts as a way of closing the door before I open a new one. I then walk downstairs and exit the house, never to return as a person who lives there. I've been to a couple houses after the fact but they don't feel like mine anymore. Even with this one the bulkhead access is for both I the doors are set up in a hallway for both but with walls my brother built and sets of keys that open the respective doors to each electrical panel. I had to go down there recently but it felt different than it used to. The memories I had there will always remain with me, and that will always be something I will cherish.

Before we did move, actually about six months ago when they were doing the plumbing for the basement and switching it over to two units, the workers had to pour new cement over the trench they dug. I took the opportunity to leave a mark, which you can see in the photo I included. I don't think the new owners know what it means and I honestly wouldn't mind if they asked me. All I know is that it is there. As for when I made it, I told myself that I had to, which I guess is reason enough for me.

Questions or comments? Let me know

New Post Tonight, around 9 PM today 9/13/2014!!!!

I promise this new one is almost ready to go and it chronicles big changes in my life over the last few months. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Posts

I have recently moved, my mom also moved to South Carolina and I have been busy. I will post again soon. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Oil & Water

You ever see a bottle of salad dressing that hasn't been shaken up in a while and there are distinct layers between the layers? That is my relationship with people. Although it is nothing personal on either side, the way both are don't allow the two to be mixed for as long as most other dressings. Each time you want some you have to shake, and shake, and shake, there is no way around it. And the kicker is that it never lasts for long, the two start to separate almost at once. It is like a cruel joke to not allow them to be together, but that's the way it is.

People on the spectrum, myself included, have a difficulty dealing with people that most can't grasp. This goes beyond the inability to read body language, take social cues, and understand people who are sarcastic. If it were all that simple (I'm joking, these things alone make it hard to deal with people) you get the icing on the cake, which is the mental deterioration throughout the day that occurs when interacting with people. Like the separation of the salad dressing it starts off slowly. As time goes on it becomes more apparent and then, before you know it, the process is complete. If I do not take my little breaks from people during the day (shake things up) then I will become completely useless until I take a break. I don't often get too the point where I can't stand it anymore, because I have learned to control it more than I used to, but if I have too much for too long my brain goes into survival mode. Critical thinking/problem, my already poor math skills, the ability to hold a conversation other than texting. My ability to drive a car is not affected, I guess because it is a basic function I don't have to think about. Funny, I feel a story coming on.

It had been a long day for me driving around and dealing with people. I was then headed to Westminster, MA, which is about an hour away, for a friends mini engagement party. I was mentally tired from the day, as always, and thought that over the course of the drive I would be able to recover before dealing with the ten or so people that would be there. As I neared the town I was still 'tired'. As I pulled onto the street it was the same. I parked out front and decided to text my host, who knew of my AS, asking him if I could rush upstairs, without saying hello to his parents, so I could get a quick nap in. He informed me that they were not present at the moment and he understood what was going on with me. I honestly didn't even want to see him because the conversation would have gone nowhere. So I went up, got a half hour nap in and I was fine for the party, actually stayed up until about 1:30 am as we drank finely aged Scotch and local beer. So why was this story important?

What happened to me that day stresses how you yourself have to learn what your limits are. You need to do extensive trial and error and when you need a break you must take it, no exceptions, or face what happens head-on. The people who care about you will understand. I am getting better at mixing it up with people but I still have a long way to go. I realize that things can be improved upon, but never solved when it comes to people and the effects they have on my brain. I suggest building yourself up slowly and then tempering yourself over time. You can't hide forever, unless you have a cabin in the wilderness with enough food and safety to last a lifetime that no one knows about.    

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Style Sense ( or lack thereof)

Being fashion forward is not some that I do well. I am semi-aware of what looks good but I am more comfortable in the clothes I already have. I like my clothes worn in and soft, not new and stiff/starchy. I don't know if it is a texture thing but it might be. I buy clothes and shoes on eBay all the time, recently just bought four pairs of jeans, all nicely broken in and they feel/look great on me. Some of my shirts are a couple years old and my favorite color to wear is black, at least it has been for a long time. It is funny that I try to not stand out but, in actuality, dressing like a member of the Addams Family does just the opposite. I have recently supplemented my wardrobe with some colors, much to the delight of my family. I have even added shorts, most recently for that trip I went on in Punta Cana. I was not a big fan of shorts just because I need pants for work (for safety because I work with fire and molten metal) and I didn't like to change often during the day. Concerning fashion let me tell you a little story.

Back in high school I was the worst at fashion possible, but no one gave me a medal for it. I wore swimming trunks with summer baseball team t shirts and hats. It must have looked horrible. One day, outside the library, Chris Vining told me I needed to dress better. The same night I went out and bought dress pants, not jeans, Dockers. I had about four pairs of those that I rotated through. I have no idea what kind of shorts I wore, but many were brown or black. Brown combos were my thing and my sister told me I looked like a tree once. While at Worcester Academy for my prep year after high school, we had a dress code, so my Dockers were in like Flynn. We had something called "Grub Days" where we could wear jeans and leave our ties/dress shirts at home. I didn't even own jeans, so I stayed in my dress pants each time. It was funny to me to have people not notice and actually fit in for a change.

I wore my Dockers until the end of freshman year of college. I remember showing up the the end of year party in jeans and my teammates were happy for me, they noticed right away. I now own much more jeans than dress pants.

To me clothes are just a pain in the ass. I loathe shopping for them and I will often buy a lot at a time to avoid having to go again. If and when I find something I like I will then shop for it online. As for the feel of my clothes I have my preferences.

I said earlier that I like my clothes worn. I think this is because I things to be smooth. New items are often either stiff or too crisp for me. I like soft and smooth and the way it feels on my skin. I like things to be loose rather than tight and constricting. The Marmot jacket I wear in the winter is the perfect balance of everything I love. It is just loose enough, flat with no filler, very smooth and it allows me to even throw snow balls without restricting my movements at all. It is also highly water resistant and the droplets can be brushed off with ease. I have never met another jacket that is as warm for the weight and it blocks the wind like leather, so much so that I typically only wear a t-shirt under it. The color; blue, but you already knew that, didn't you?!

I see clothes as a necessary evil. You need them to survive. They are like people, but you can treat them anyway you wish, and how you do so can limit or extend you interaction with them, also like people. I tend to go through clothes and people at the same rate, but that all depends on the quality and how much I feel I can get out of them before donating them to someone else.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tips for Figuring Yourself Out

We all know that as people with Asperger's alone time is important, if not essential. But what you do with your alone time may be even more important. Do whatever you feel when you are alone, whatever helps you get through your day, but if you feel like some of the pieces are missing please take the following piece of advice. It may open up thoughts you never knew you had.

Back in my senior year of college I commuted to Lowell and back, about twenty minutes each way. My class schedule was such that I had about an hour an a half break on certain days. I eventually got into a pattern of heading to the upper portions of the library that were mainly quiet. There were wood and pleather couches that I would lay out on and just think. I started to examine my life as it had come to be and begin to notice what was working and what wasn't in all aspects of it. With my eyes closed the thoughts would seemingly appear out of nowhere. Ideas about how to do things differently, sometimes slightly, sometimes radically. Although it did not happen often I sometimes decided that I needed to do some things entirely different. Radical change isn't normally my M.O. but all the time thinking changed the way I did so. The lucky thing for me is that a lot of what I ended up doing worked. I began to see real change in the way things went from then on. I don't think my 3.65 final semester GPA had anything to do with it but I guess we'll never know. I surely didn't spend the time thinking by studying. One problem I encountered later on with this technique is that I would, and still do, occasionally fall asleep. That didn't happen at all in the library because there was some noise every fifteen minutes or so, but if you were in your room at home its more common.

I suggest everyone try this. It helps you begin to peel away the layers covering the real you. People have so much stuff up in the attic that they didn't even know was there. There is going to be some dust and a few spiders, but I find that a bright flash light helps in shining new light on things that are long neglected, if not entirely locked away. Be prepared to open a lot of boxes that hold memories you didn't know you had. I know there are some things you wish to remain hidden but you can't hide from them forever. The sooner you face them the quicker you can move on.

I find the following questions helpful during these sessions:
What is bothering me today and is this an ongoing problem?
How have the things I've been doing helped/hindered my progress (because you always want to make progress)?
Why didn't the things I've failed at work?
How can I continue to improve on what has been working?
Is what I'm doing in the present good for me now AND in the future?

Those are some basic questions and there a million more. I find it best to 'go blank' mentally and think of nothing so items can present themselves. Don't worry, they will. In time you will learn what you need to ask yourself. The more layers you peel off the harder the questions become. You will have to spend more time on each little thing, but don't worry, this is a lifetime practice so don't feel rushed. Some things cannot be solved easily, or even at all. You have to learn to live with certain things and that can be very hard. For example I know that I cannot talk to women that I don't know whom I am physically attracted to. My brain goes in the thousand different directions and things of all the catastrophes that could happen before I can even utter a singe word. The funny thing is that if she were to talk to me first I'm fine, or if I already know her then I am also good to go; just know I never said anything about advancing the conversation to where I'd really like it to go, but I'll take the training wheels of when I'm ready.

I'd be interested to see what people do with this, or if they have been doing it all along at at least some level. I'm a smart guy, but it took me a while to figure this one out. After I did things changed and isn't that what its all about? 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Alcohol and the Autistic Brain

So here we come to the wonder drug that you can get almost anywhere, given you're the appropriate age. At age twenty one your government sanctioned license to party arrives and you can drink to your hearts content, if that's what you truly wish to do. As for me, I chose to stay away from the stuff until college, and I did a Post Graduate year so I was 19 when I really started to use the stuff. Even now I am not a regular user but every now and again is fine. My work doesn't  really allow me to be even hungover when working so I keep alcohol use to a minimum. But very now and again I have the option of drinking. I've heard that students at prestigious universities study so much that when they finally get a break they party until about 8 am. I don't know if this is true but I have fit that particular demographic from time to time. I'm not proud of it, but let me stick to the facts here. My body, for some reason or another, can handle quite a bit of alcohol. I guess I have a high tolerance. On a recent trip to Punta Cana I was on a booze cruise and consumed sixteen drinks within a four hour period. Given my height of 5'5'' and weight of 170 lbs that should seem like a fair amount given that it all started at 10 am and was done by 2 pm. i could have kept going back at the resort but opted to show some restraint. The odd thing is that I remember everything, including seeing the girl at the airport three days later that I gave an extended back rub to on the bus ride back to our respective resorts. The aforementioned 'rub' lasted for ten or fifteen minutes and I felt it in my forearms the next day and oddly enough no one wanted me to stop while it was happening. Alcohol does affect me like it does most people, though.

I do lose my motor skills and wouldn't think of driving or doing torch work when under the influence. I still have a lot of higher brain function that records things as I go and that keeps me from doing the truly stupid things that wind up online. Every now and then I simply won't care, though, and I will get out of line. The thing to remember is that these are conscious actions on my part, especially so because I know they happened the next day. I don't know if it is impossible for me to 'black out' so to speak, but it sure feels like it. If I ever wanted to see if I could lose all control I would certainly want to have someone with a camera handy to document the whole thing. To make sure I was on point about my assumptions I would first recall what I thought had happened, in extreme detail, about the night in question before seeing the footage. I think this would be a fun science experiment. The thing with the autistic brain is, you need to be very careful.

I am careful. Like I stated earlier I don't even consume alcohol on a regular basis. I know that I have the kind of addictive of pattern mentality that would allow me to focus on one thing or get used to something so much that I would become dependent on it. I think it was when I was either 22 or 23 that I went an entire summer without drinking, not on purpose, and only realized it long after it had occurred, or didn't occur; I'm not sure which is more accurate. When people tell you that they have something under control you think they have a problem, and this is especially true with alcoholics, but I guess I'm different. I don't think I'm immune to the stuff, just more careful based on the type of brain that I have. In terms of morals I don't see alcohol in the way that the temperance type people of long ago would but as a choice that the individual has to make for themselves. And that is what it is all about, isn't it, being able to think for yourself and make your own choices in life? I wonder why I put a question mark just then because I already know the answer and I'm six beers deep tonight so that should tell you that I believe wholeheartedly in everything I have just typed (relax, tomorrow is Sunday and a holiday).

Questions or comments? Let me know.