It’s that time of the year again(!)

Run away! Run away!
Run away! Run away!

Ah, the holidays… I’ve been blissfully ignoring their impending appearance. But guess what? It’s nearly November. And that means, I have about a month to prepare for Thanksgiving. And then Christmas. And then the New Year.

But suddenly, I am keenly aware of the challenges before me.

Run away! Run away!!!!

Last year, my partner and I planned to go see our families at Thanksgiving.

Then the election happened. And all hell broke loose in the family. Of course, it was a very demure, well-behaved hell, but it was hell, nonetheless. The winners gloated and cried “Huzzah! The world is ours for the taking!” The losers went into existential panic. My partner got really sick with a respiratory infection. And we stayed home. Didn’t see anyone. Of course, we had some illnesses and a death and some happier rites of passage later on in the year, so we did get to see everyone, after all. Just not last Thanksgiving.

We’re going to give it another shot this year.

Yes, indeedy-do.

Run away! Run away!!!!

I love my family. I really do. But christalmighty, they are a lot of work. And just thinking about doing the whole trip down to two different states, each of them a day’s drive from the the other, and dealing with all the sides of the family… it’s just a lot.

And that’s not even all of what’s to come, this holiday season.

There’s the shopping. The holiday foods that wreak havoc on my system. The parties. The peopling. The lights — oh, the lights — and all that music. Ugh. All the promotions and sales and BUY-BUY-BUY!!! pressure that’s non-stop, starting, oh, about next week when Halloween is over.

And I think about the Auptima Press Holiday Survival Stress Gauge – the tool I built last year to help folks like me deal with holiday stress. You can fill out the different areas and see where things are dicey for you. And then you can plan your strategies for dealing with it all.

I’m going to use that tool this year, for help and support. I’m sorta kinda on my own, here, and I need whatever help I can get. My partner hasn’t been doing very well, and I’m becoming more and more of a caretaker for her. It’s no fun, watching the love of your life, wither in front of you. It’s no fun at all. So, having an extra tool on hand that gets me out of my head (so to speak) and lets me get some emotional distance from the situation is helpful.

Unfortunately, I can’t run away from the holidays, this year. Much as I’d like to, I just can’t. I’ve got to face it all head-on, and just get on with it. Knowing what I know about myself, it’s actually feeling a bit more manageable this year, than in other years, and pro-actively managing my Autism is a big part of that.

Speaking of being pro-active, I think I’ll get some sleep.

I’ll need it.

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Into the weekend

man walking on pathI’m working from home today. My first conference call is in 10 minutes, so I just “dash off” a quick post to get myself in the mood for the day.

I got a lot done, yesterday, actually. Finished three really daunting tasks, some of which have major political implications and may spark some in-fighting (which I hate). I just took care of it. Because it had to get done, and I was on deadline.

I’ll let the captains of industry duke it out. I did my part, sending out the emails and notifying people of stuff. And I’ll do some more today.

The weekend is looking promising. It’s not going to be easy, but it will go. Some good things. Some sad things. And errands. Always the errands.

An old friend of mine lost his wife to illness a few weeks ago, so there’s a memorial service tomorrow night, which I’m attending.

I took care of the biggest chores last weekend, so I won’t need to work on them this weekend. I will have time to write and read and relax and make some progress on some of my side projects.

I’ve found some good podcasts, and I can listen to them.

And rest. Nap. Catch up on my sleep. I’m a little behind.

But it’ll go. It will all go — who knows if it’ll happen according to plan, but it’ll go.

“Don’t wish things were easier. Wish you were better.”

rusty chain bolted to a rockThe point of my life right now is not that things are awful, or that they should change.

The point is that they are what they are, and I can choose to do with them whatever I want to do with it all.

Life is challenging. No kidding.

But it would be a whole lot more challenging, if I had no tools to deal with it, or if I didn’t use it for something else.

People tell me all the time to do less. Take care of myself first. Make sure I’m not over-extending myself.

That’s not going to make a difference in the world. That’s not going to make a difference in my life. And it’s certainly not going to make me stronger.

“Don’t wish things were easier. Wish you were better.”

That’s my mantra, these days.

Complaining solves nothing. Absolutely nothing. It might make me feel a little better in the short term, but long-term, it undermines me and paints the wrong picture.

I’m autistic. Everything is more difficult for me.

So what else is new? It’s been this way my entire life.

But the seeds of the solution are embedded in the problem, and my job is to dig deeper and find what else is there to move me past this.

If things aren’t working out the way they are, it’s up to me to find a different way. Waiting around for someone else to tend to my needs (heck, to even notice that I have needs) is a losing proposition. I don’t have that kind of time. I have things to do, things to learn.

I can do whatever I want to do with this really difficult time.

Whatever I want.

And I’d rather do something constructive. So, maybe I vent a little bit. But ultimately, it’s so important to actually make use of the lessons that have come embedded in this experience.

That’s worth the world to me.

Meh, so I throw up. Meh, so I melt down. So what. Who cares.

bored emoticon mehWhat a horrible week this has been.

Work is just so unbelievably stupid, it’s astounding.

I’m behind on what I owe people, since — ta-da — I’m doing the work of 5 different people. Seriously. Look at the distribution of roles and responsibilities. I’m literally fulfilling the roles of 5 different people on the other side of the organization.

And that’s only for one of my three projects.

On my other two projects, I’m doing the work of three people, and two people, respectively.

Meh.

So what.

I thought I was going to throw up, today, after a conference call that was all about inept people trying to cover their asses and pin the problems on me.

Meh.

So what.

And then my boss comes by — Mr. Agitation — who really seems to thrive on chaos.

Meh.

So what.

The dumbest thing about this whole business is now simple it is to fix it.

The work is so easy, it’s not even funny.

I just haven’t had the time to do it.

Because I have to have my sleep.

And I have to eat regularly.

And I have to protect my sanity and my health.

The work will get done.

And even if I do throw up or melt down or whatever…

Meh.

So what.

I’ve been here before, and I made it through in one piece.

La la.

Dropping back – then stepping forward

road with yellow stripes and trees with snow along the sides
It’s been a while since I blogged here. There’s a good chance people have forgotten about me, or they figure I’ve moved on to other things.

Actually, I have been doing other things for the past few weeks. Good things. Challenging things. Draining things. Restoring things. I’ve been writing a lot, researching a lot, thinking a lot, which means I have to cut down on the amount of input from the outside world. That means less blogging, less getting on Twitter, because there is so-so much that is distracting (and distressing), and I can’t afford to be pulled in all those different directions.

I think something may be “up” with my parents. I haven’t heard from them in a number of weeks. My mother’s cards come on a regular basis, but my dad has stopped calling me every Saturday. That’s a change. I need to check in with them. He hasn’t been in good health, for the past year or so, and despite surgery that looked wildly successful, he’s still got additional issues — including diabetes, which will do a number on your brain function, if you don’t control your sugar.

I kind of dread it, actually. But I should call. I’ll find some time. I’ll make the time. It’s the right thing to do.

I’m not sure why, but the last couple of weeks have been pretty intense. Well, there was the big event a couple weeks ago, that had me leaving the state and “peopleing” with strangers and finding my way around an unfamiliar college campus (while I was nervous that my car would get ticketed or towed because I parked in the wrong spot without knowing it).

There was the doctor visit with my partner, who’s extremely anxious around doctors, and the new meds prescribed to her, which I needed to research (I found what I needed to avert some likely serious side effects).

And then there’s been the whole work thing, with the Big Project I’m on being generally doomed, from the top down, as managers battle for territory, and the underlings get the brunt of their poor thought process. If we were left to our own devices and didn’t get dragged into their territorial disputes, we’d have the whole thing sorted, by now.

horse racing jockeysBut no. They have to jockey for position. Racing for the front and pushing each other against the rail. It’s tiresome. I feel like a horse that’s been ridden hard and put up wet.

We all do. And I wonder how long it will take, till we just throw the “riders” who are whipping us to go faster.

Maybe never. People need their jobs. I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the whole thing. It’s futile. It’s pointless. And I’m traveling down to HQ in a couple of weeks to continue the pointlessness. I hate business travel. It throws me off. It steals precious time and energy away from me, and it puts me in the middle of throngs of strangers who will trample me, if given a choice. Heck, they do it by default.

Well… what-ever.  I’ll just make the best of it.

Actually, I’m doing better than making the best of it. I’ve given up caring. I don’t give a damn, one way or the other, how things turn out. Oh, sure, I want the thing to work perfectly, but it’s literally impossible for that to happen, so I’m encasing myself in a protective shell of divine indifference and just getting on with my life, regardless of what happens around me.

Seriously, I’m beyond caring. I’ll do my part. I’ll pitch in and participate. I’ll fulfill my duties and my role to the fullest extent possible. But I’m not attached to the outcome, one way or the other. I didn’t ask for this project to happen. I got shoved into it by default, basically forced to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, and I’m expected to make it all work to everyone else’s specifications, even though I advised against it from the start, “raised red flags”, documented the risks, and so forth. I did my part. Nobody listened. At least, nobody at the top.

Maybe this works out. Maybe it doesn’t. What. ever.

I frankly have no personal interest in the whole thing. I’m not invested in the outcome. I’m oblivious to whether or not things are to others’ liking. All I care about is if I’ve done my best under the circumstances. I’m just “doing my thing” to the best of my ability, playing my part as is required, and letting go of any outcomes. It’s out of my hands.

So the project is doomed? So what? Who cares? Certainly not I.

And it’s wonderful.

So, yeah, I’ve dropped back a bit from life… Pulled back into my own little autistic experience… To work on some projects I’ve got going, and finally make some progress. I’m quite pleased with one of them. It has real potential. And there are several others that look promising, as well. Sweet. And these are all things I can do, myself, while I go through the motions of my everyday day-job, making a living, collecting a paycheck, getting what I can out of the situation.

silk purseHere, have a silk purse.

I have extra, from all the proverbial “sow’s ears” I have lying around.

I’m not just Socially Awkward

I can really relate to this, tho’ I don’t often tell folks I’m autistic — mainly because of the responses I expect to get, and my mix of anxiety, selective mutism, and by-this-point-a-bit-stale frustration.

Autism and expectations

When I tell people I’m autistic it usually goes one of two ways; either they can’t make me fit into their idea of what autism is and completely reject it, or they mark me down as “socially awkward” and leave it there.

It explains my lack of constant contact, it explains my monologuing about things that interest me, it explains why on social occasions I move around a room like a loose cog in a machine – catching on things, getting stuck in places, jarring against this and that before being knocked into a corner and staying there.

Those are the things about me that you can see. What you can’t see are the other bits; my problems with Executive Function, my never-ending battle with literalness, my lip-reading over auditory-processing, my sensory issues, my affinity with numbers and disassociation with names, and on and on and on.

When people classify…

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Mixed Messages

I can totally relate. I suspect this is one of the “stock” growing-up experiences of a lot of autistic folks.

Eclectic Autistic

When I was young, I received constant messages that I didn’t belong. I was weird, and I said things others didn’t understand, largely because I was making intuitive leaps that they couldn’t follow, or because I was working off of detailed information they didn’t have. I didn’t grasp that at the time, of course. I mean, I was a little kid and they were grownups — of course grownups would know more than I did! But when it came to my interests, they often didn’t. They weren’t the ones spending long afternoons reading the encyclopedia, after all.

Perhaps because of things like this, I also began receiving messages that I was gifted. I was praised for being very smart, and for picking things up faster than other kids did. I was admonished for getting impatient with other people, and told that not everyone could learn as quickly as I did…

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Woo hoo! Library run!

papers bound in stacksI’m spending this evening in the library of a large university about an hour from my home.

I am so excited!

It’s been a while, since I was in a university library. That’s my happiest place of all.

The books… the collections… the journals… the knowledge… all there for the finding.

Unfortunately, I won’t be there more than a few hours, but even so… It’s more than I’ve had in a long time.

I can’t wait!

Unexpected. Plus and minus and plus.

This week is turning out to be a lot busier than I expected. It’s also very dynamic, as a bunch of colleagues from halfway across the country are “in town” all week for all day workshops.

I didn’t actually realize that I was supposed to attend the workshops, because my job does not overlap a lot with what they are discussing. However, I do have a whole lot of experience in thinking through this entire process that we are going through – re-designing a massive website that cannot not work.

My boss even told me he didn’t think that I needed to be there, but other people who attended asked me why I wasn’t there, so I realized that my boss had not specifically told me not to go, but had made that statement as a lead in for further discussion.

He keeps doing that, and I find it very confusing. I wish people would just say what they are thinking and quit hinting around and expecting me to come back with a counter–comment or somesuch. It’s just not a good use of time, but that’s how people work so…

Anyway, people really liked having me there in the workshop yesterday, so I’m going back again today and again tomorrow, effectively trashing any kind of productivity that I was hoping to have this week. I’m under a bunch of deadlines, and I can’t really afford to take the time out, but there’s still a lot of team dynamics stuff that I need to sort out and work through, so I can work effectively with these people

What I have noticed, or rather discovered, is that it is next to impossible to get anything done in the changing organization, unless I have a good relationship with the people who I am asking for a favor. People don’t actually do the right thing for the right reason around here. They really only do what they are asked to by people who they like and trust. I find that absolutely bizarre. Why would you predicate your behavior on personal feelings about another person? If a job needs to get done, it needs to get done, period. There’s no personal preference involved. What needs to get done, needs to get done.

If only everyone shared my point of you, maybe the world will not be in such a terrible mess, right about now. But I’m being grandiose again, so I’ll drop the line of reasoning.

Anyway, I’ve been sitting in rooms filled with people talking all day, and I have to do it again today and tomorrow, until I get a break. I had to go to dinner with these people last night, which was typically challenging in some really uncomfortable ways. The restaurant was busy, we were crammed in for beside each other, the prices were high, the food was complicated, and I really wasn’t sure about the etiquette of who pays for what and when. In the end, other people treated the whole group to dinner, which is fine, but that doesn’t change the anxiety that nag me all evening.

These kinds of social events are such a gauntlet. I did manage to step away A few times during the evening, but I always had to come back to the table, to the crowd, to the confusion, and although the evening ended with no serious mishaps – bonus! – It’s still feels like a whole lot of work for nothing.

Except that now I might actually be able to get some things done, because people know me better than they did before. That’s some consolation, but not nearly enough.

Anyway, the whole thing is a mixed bag. On the one hand, I enjoyed getting to know other people better, and I am comforted by the thought that we are bonding and they are coming to trust me more, but on the other hand this is going to make it harder to leave. Maybe. I don’t see my current job as a long – term prospect, but who knows? I might surprise myself and find a way to tolerate this.

Eventually, I might just figure out how to interact with these people without screwing too much up. It’s a goal.