Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not despite. Because.

You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. (Leviticus 20:26)

Tonight at church, the pastor was preaching on Hab...Haba...(help me, Google)... Habakkuk (thanks, buddy). We're doing a series on it, and tonight he began to describe the judgment that God was going to pass on Israel via the even more evil Babylonians. I was doing my best to follow along, when something he said caught my attention.

"Israel, you were supposed to be different, holy, set apart."

And that made me think. Usually, when I think of myself and my differences, my "otherness," I think of it as a bad thing or something that needs to be changed. Rocking in church? Better stop it. Stimming at the lights at the Broadway showing of Hairspray? Quit that. Greeting new people with "Hi, do you like cats?" Not exactly socially appropriate.

But autism isn't the only way that I'm different. If "normal" for my age is going to bars, smoking, and having sex, (that's the stuff the girls my age at work go on about), then I'm glad I'm not normal. I don't drink, or swear, or date, or wear revealing clothing because God has called me to be set apart from my peer group. I'm not saying that it's wrong for everyone to drink and date and whatnot, but I don't know what God says to other people- I can only speak for myself, and what He has called me to do and be.

Rather than thinking of my autism in the negative, maybe it's time to consider the ways it contributes to my holiness, which, after all, is what I strive to be (not saying Isucceed, though). Because I'm kind of stuck in childhood, I'm not tempted to watch sex or swearing or violence on TV or read it in books or see R-rated movies. I'm not tempted to be sexually inappropriate. And getting drunk and doing drugs is so far off my radar, I've never even been in a bar or seen a drug, let alone wanted to try them.

While most people in their 20s have outgrown their childhood innocence, I'm pretty sure most of mine remains intact. I'm certainly more sensitive to the injustice and inhumanity of the world than a lot of people I know (for example, I often cry when I see animals dead on the road, even if it's a skunk).

And if God is calling Christians to be set apart, other... holy... then maybe rocking, stimming, and questions of genuine interest (rather than the obligatory "how are yous") aren't so bad either, eh?

Maybe God created me to be this way. (Different. Other. Autistic.) Maybe He did it as a way of mirroring His own holiness in one of His creations. Or maybe He knew that, without the autism, I wouldn't be able to stand up to the temptation that surrounds me.

What I'm saying is what Leigh has said so many times, but now I'm coming to understand for myself, now that I have some explanation behind it. I've always thought of autism as being something that is all bad, but that God can use for good. But now I'm starting to see that maybe He actually made it for good to begin with. Good not despite of autism, but because of it.

Are you catching that theme on my blog over the last year?

I want to succeed in my work not despite of my autism but because of it.

I want my family and friends not love me not despite of my autism but because of it.

I want to be set apart not despite of my autism but because of it.

And most importantly to me, I want to be Godly not despite of my autism, but because of it.

I think I'm starting to understand...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hey, you, check this out
I'm a little short on words today, and I have a lot to do, so I'll just leave you with the link. In case you thought you've read that before, it's a blog post from August of '09... I stole from myself. But when I though, "What do I want a ton of people to read?" I just knew that was it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Worth it?

I hate to admit this, but I carry around a quite a bit of guilt. All the time.

I know it's not really necessary, because I can't help the way I am, but the thing is that I know I'm more difficult than the average girl. I know I require more from those who love me. That I take more patience. That I'm flat out harder to love.

Once I asked Mom if she wouldn't rather have a second regular girl than me, and she said some to the effect of, "NO WAY!" She wants me, and no one else.

But there's something I desperately want to hear from those closest to me. I know that by putting this out there, they might now tell me exactly what I want to hear. But because I told them I want to hear it, it sort of takes away the meaning, doesn't it? Oh, well. I've thought about it, and I'm just going to put it put there anyway.

I want to hear, "You're worth it." Yes, you're more difficult at times, but you're also kinder, more genuine, and more innocent, more something. Maybe it's not true. Or maybe it's supposed to be obvious and I should already know it. The thing is, I don't know. But I do wish.

Off the subject, but could someone please teach my cat not to knock puzzle pieces under the puzzle with her tail? Constant battle.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Well, we tried

Mom talked to the psychiatrist (Dr. J) yesterday and they decided that my Geodon needs to go back up to 60 mg during the day. I can't but feeling like I failed. I desperately want to be on the lower dose, because I'm so much more alert and "with it" minus those 20 mg. I wish I could handle myself appropriately. But instead, I'm more anxious, losing words all the time, not tolerating frustration well at all, crying more, melting more, clingy... a whole list. And lest you think that I noticed the difference and requested that my dose be increased like a mature adult, that's not how it worked. It was me waking Mom up mid-melt down, and her noticing all of the above, and calling the doctor herself. I just happened to transcribe the email Mom wanted written to Dr. J and so I know what she said was becoming problematic. Now that I know, I can look back and see it, but I never would have thought of it myself. It's frustrating to realize what a long way to go I have.

In other news...

I got testing results back, and my functional IQ is about 70, or three standard deviations below average. That puts me functionally in the mild-moderate MR/ID range. A bit disheartening, but hey, I can just work hard and hope that this number increases with age.

Leigh informed me that Jesus was an INFJ (Myers-Briggs Personality Type). It's the rarest personality type (less than 1% of the population, I read), and Leigh and I are both INFJs.

Speaking of Leigh, guess who came to my house today? We saw my kitty, painted our nails (she was on her way to a wedding), did her laundry cause she spilled coffee on her white shorts in the car, and made quesadillas. Oh, and she brought Tigger (a stuffed animal she got in Disney World last October, when we went, that I'm rather attached to and like to hold onto because it reminds me of Leigh).

We have company coming tomorrow... friends of my parents; a couple and a single man. I've met the couple and they're very nice (the wife called Mom just to ask if I would be here, which made me feel good) and I haven't met the guy. I'm really nervous because of my words. I hope they like Elsie.

This is post #202. I wanted to mention when I hit 100, then 200, and... forgot. They were important posts that would have been interrupted by such a notation. So, I tell you now. Has anyone been here since the beginning? Leave a comment and let me know if you have, cause that's pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do you hear me?

Sometimes melt downs are sensory based. Sometimes they're because something is done the Wrong Way instead of the Right Way. Sometimes they're seemingly random.

And then there are the worst kind. These are the kind that build up all day over half a dozen little things. My favorite doctor is leaving the practice to a place I can't follow her. I had 3 appointments and work all in one day. The therapist said it was fine if I used TTS but then essentially didn't let me. I didn't feel heard by the psychiatrist because she said I was doing well and I feel like I'm falling apart. Three cats were put down today at work, and we found out yesterday.

I got home and melted, big time. I even cried and melted somewhat at work when one of the to-be-euthanized cats didn't want to eat but rather wanted me to pet and cuddle him. I went and held my favorite cats and made it through work, but got home and lost it. Picked a fight with Leigh (which I always do when I melt; I get upset about irrational things or things that don't matter). Woke Mom up to stay with me. Didn't want the kitty for a time.

Normally, I lose my words just before, during, and then after a melt down until I can sleep it off. But today, I woke up, and they were still gone. It's fine to talk to Mom, although I'm definitely using fewer words than usual, but the chiropractor, library, and research study were all off-limits. No one wanted to let me type, either, which frustrated me immensely. At the study, Mom called to tell them I couldn't talk today, then they wouldn't let me type, but they continued to ask me questions expecting me to answer. I did my best, but I'm all stressed and upset having spoken when I didn't want to. It's not fair to make a girl talk.

I can't help but feeling like this is a bit of a turning point in my speaking. I've never liked it, and over the past year and a half I've been doing it extremely reluctantly. I asked Mom, what if I just stop, and everyone has to deal? Yes, it would be hard for people, but you know, it might just have to be. I'm not going back to the hospital over stupid words, especially when I have another, perfectly acceptable, way to communicate. If people don't want to hear me in the way I can talk, then I have nothing to say.

Monday, July 19, 2010

10 ways to help your child with autism

Well, 3 AM has come and gone. I just realized that I didn't take my PM meds (which includes melatonin)... and therefore I'm a solid hour away from any kind of decent sleep. I'm also ridiculously itchy (no, seriously, you have NO idea) because I was so attracted to the little colored sprinkle-covered cupcakes at work that I just had to have 2 of them. In the meantime, I thought I'd write some. This is probably a good time to mention that I left my glasses on my beside table and therefore may or may not catch typos, of which I am the queen. Sorry in advance.

These are in no particular order (meaning, as they pop into my mind), though I will number them 10 to 1. I will use the pronoun "he" for the sake of simplicity and statistics.

10. On a day when he is particularly hard to handle, make a list of the things you love about your child. Share it with someone (spouse, coworker, siblibg, pastor, friend; if you're still stuck, heck, I'll listen). But how does this help the child? It reminds you of why you love him so much, reorients your attitude, reminds you of why you do so much for this little person. Your improved attitude will have a positive effect on your child. I promise, we can tell when you're upset with us.

9. Allow your child a chunk of time to engage in or talk about his very favorite thing with you, completely unbridled. People with autism spend so much time either self-redirecting or being redirected, that it often feels like we never get to really dig into what we love without the accompanying being cut off or redirected. Personally, every time I talk about cats, it's overshadowed by the nagging though that Leigh or Mom or Sister doesn't really want to hear about them. They certainly never ask about Elsie. So for a bit of time, just let him be obsessed. Obsess with him. Pretend that what you're hearing is the most fascinating thing you've heard all week. This subject is where he shines, whether it be bus schedules, the early years of the Beatles, or Thomas the Tank Engine.

8. Label emotions for your child early and often. Last night, an unimportant but abrupt change in plans left me frazzled. First thing's first; I picked up my kitty. Then I said, "Mom. I'm upset." No response. "Mom, did you hear me? I'm upset." The words felt unsettling. "Mom, I'm telling you something. I'M UPSET!" It struck both my mother and I that this was the first time in... ever, maybe?.... that I'd come to her and labeled an emotion without prompting and without just acting out. This should not have taken 22 and 7/12 years to happen. Don't let this be the case for your child. Ask your child frequently, "How do you feel?" You may need to offer suggestions or options at first, but never stop asking.

7. Model, model, model. Rinse and repeat. Model language, dealing with emotions, and facial expressions. Overexaggerate and explain, step-by-step, what you're doing and why you're doing. "Do you see that my eyebrows are pointing inward and how my mouth is puckered? My face is telling you that I'm angry." "Hey, let's get your new school shoes when we go to the mall to get so-and-so's birthday present. People say that we'll 'kill two birds with one stone.' That's a silly way of saying we'll get two things done with one action." "Oops; I expected the ice cream shop to be open. It's probably closed early because it's a weeknight. I feel very disappointed about that because I was expecting ice cream from this shop. But we can either go get ice cream somewhere else, or we can wait until tomorrow. Which would you prefer?"

6, Limit choices. If your child takes an hour to get dressed in the morning because nothing feels right, step 1 is to reassess his wardrobe and make sure that he owns only clothing that feels comfortable. Style comes second. That makes step 2 possible, which is to say "You can wear jeans or sweatpants today. Which would you like?" Do not allow him to pick any outfit from amongst 10. When you go to the store to spend his birthday money, rather than allowing him free reign of the toy section, say, "Would you like a game or some Legos? It's your choice." Obviously pick 2 things you know he likes, but do not allow him to choose Option C. Children, especially those of the autistic variety, become very easily overwhelmed with too many choices. For a young child, 2 is plenty. Expand the number of choices at your own discretion, but even as an adult, your child may struggle with this and need you to artificially limit his options.

5. Be flexible. If your child prefers to sleep on the floor rather than in his bed, simply move the mattress to the floor. If he complains that his pajamas hurt, let him sleep in his underwear. If he wants to watch pre-school directed television when he's 18 years old, who's he hurting? Realize that children with autism, by the nature of their developmental disability, show very scattered skills and abilities. He may be able to drive like a 16-year-old, follow stories like a 6-year-old, read like a 10-year-old, and express emotions like a pre-schooler. Don't look at your child as the age he is but rather as the age at which he functions in each specific area. Cater to these as best you can, because your child cannot help it.

4. Use play to engage. If your daughter likes dolls, a dollhouse is the perfect toy with which to practice language, emotions, and interaction. If your son likes cars and trains, Thomas the Tank Engine characters have faces and speak and can be used to act. Many children like plastic animal figurines, which can be used in the same way. Encourage this type of play with an adult, older sibling, therapist, peers... all of the above.

3. Communication options. Regardless of how verbal your child may seem, teach him at least one alternative method of communication (PECS, sign language, typing, text-to-speech, etc). I was very verbal at a young age (2, 3), but the topics on which I can be verbal have always been limited. As I've grown older, I've learned to take fragments of things I've either said in the past or have heard others say and piece them together so that it sounds like intelligble speech. It's really complex delayed echolalia. Very little of what I say out loud is both my own and novel. In order to produce new ideas, I need to write. In order to process, I need to write. In fact, and this may not make sense, I often do not process what I say. I can piece the fragments together and form a response based on what I know I should say, but most often, it would be impossible for me to repeat what I've just said to you, because I never processed it. Part of my brain gets left out. Even if it appears that your child is keeping up verbally, if he is on the autism spectrum, there is a good chance that a second means of communication would serve him well.

2. Don't be scared of different. If I want to use a TTS in public and I'm not afraid of "what people will think," you had better not be either. If your child wants to wear clothing that he finds comfortable and you find unattractive, and you've explained that "people typically do not wear clothing like that. They may look at you and think you are strange" and your child has no problem with that, then let him be. If he wants to text and wear headphones during church because it's the only way he can possibly stand to be in that crowded room right then, and you're afraid people will think he's rude, then I question why you're trying to impress people at church. If you know your child can only process auditory information when his hands are doing something (for me, it's Spider Solitaire on the computer), but it looks like he isn't listening, I ask you: Would you rather have him hear you, or look like he hears you?

1. Be consistent. If you're upset, stressed, scared, overwhelmed, and yes even exuberant, keep your expressions of intense emotion to a minimum. They will confuse your child. Children with autism need their parents to be the same, above all else. It's okay to practice labeling and expressing emotions, but only insofar as your child can understand them and can do the same for his own emotions. I am grateful for almost nothing more than the fact that my mom has always been rock steady in every way. You can use a lot of words to describe people on the autism spectrum, but "forward thinking" isn't usually one of them... we live in the here and now, and if here and now is confusing or not right, then our worlds crumble. We can't see beyond the right now to the what will be. We like routine because it's consistent. Bedtime needs to have the same routine, day in and day out, as does wake-up time, meal time, and time to go to the grocery store. It may be boring to you, but it will make for a much happier child. If something diferent is going to happen, please let us know what to expect and remind us several times. Check for understanding.

I don't hve an intelligent way to end this, because an hour and a half later, my melatonin is kicking in... big time.

Takin' my kitty and goin' to bed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Midday melt down

I woke up to my mama laying beside me in my bed and quietly asking me if I wanted to go shopping. My kitty came in and said hello before I even got my eyes open. It was peaceful and wonderful and my favorite way to wake up.

I ambled into Mom's room and laid on her bed with the cat for a while. Then I headed downstairs and woke up.

Sometime during the morning (er, I woke up at noon...), the mail came. I got my new (purple) Medic Alert bracelet (I got a sponsorship and therefore didn't have to pay anything!) and my test results from the doctor. If you're curious, the results explain that while some of my adaptive skills are average, in other areas (social, communication, work, and I forget what else) I function as a person with mild-moderate intellectual disability. I'm still trying to get a full scale score, and I'll let you know what tale it tells when I do get it. The GADS says that it's "highly likely" that I have Asperger's and "possible" that I have autistic disorder. This round of testing went with Asperger's as a diagnosis.

Mom talked on the phone to my sister, who, as it turns out, has an old iPod Touch laying around. I think it's actually her husband Matt's. Anyway, they will bring it in August, and I can use it as a TTS device... yay!

After some hang out time with the kitty and my new doll, it was time to go to the uniform store. Since I only work 3 days a week, my boss says I only need one uniform. Except that when I move out I'll only be able to do laundry weekly, so Mom says I need 3 uniforms. She was happy to buy them for me, and therefore get me the kind with elastic in the waist instead of drawstring, so we headed to the uniform store. While there, we found cool white nursing shoes without ties that are extra comfortable and special moisture-wicking socks too. Now I can have special work socks and shoes that can live in the basement while at home and thus not give Elsie any kitty diseases that I pick up on my shoes/clothes while at work. Overall, just a good idea.

After the uniform store we went to Borders (bookstore), where I ordered Temple Grandin's The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships. I'm excited for that and hope it's helpful. She personally recommended it to me in her letter, so it's high time I got around to reading it.

The pet store was next to the Borders, so of course we had to go in to check on my cat from work that is up for adoption there. Henry Lynn is gray and white and 3 years old, kind of chubby, and very talkative. I told the employee that I worked where I do and that Henry Lynn was one of my cats, and she surprised me by saying, "Would you like to see her?" She got her out of her cage and let us play in the little room with Henry Lynn for 20 minutes! It was so good to see one of my kitties (Henry is a favorite) that I haven't seen in 2 weeks!

We shopped at a department store for a bit (acquirings there include a wooden puzzle I got for Mom, cause she loves them, and a new Lydia- (comfort) and Mom- (style) approved outfit for me. It's nice (albeit rare) when we can both be happy with what I'm wearing.

Then, it was time to go to church. I always get a little anxious before church because it's loud, and I knew I didn't have my earplugs in my purse. I was super thirsty and asked Mom if we could stop for a cold drink. The only place to stop was the grocery store. This is where the problem happened. I went in with $1.50 to get a 20-oz diet soda. First, a man yelled at me when I accidentally cut in line. Then, the soda was $1.59. I tried to put it back, but the cash register started beeping like crazy, so I hit "cancel sale" and it said, "Help is on the way" a million times and wouldn't shut up, but after 5 minutes, no help had come. I was so overwhelmed I started crying, left the soda and the machine, and ran out to the car. I told Mom how much I hate grocery stores, as if she didn't know. I told her I'd just wait and get water at church, that there was no way I was going back in there.

I hate how a simple thing can ruin a whole day of fun for me. I try to recover fast, but it's not easy. I get out of sorts so quickly. I ended up getting my soda at the gas station (much smaller, quieter, easier to navigate), and church was good, but I still feel funny from the grocery store incident.

I'm trying to channel Leigh here. "Don't let one person/thing ruin your fun." That's what she would say, and once reminded I'm usually pretty good at it, but melt downs sure to get in the way.

Sounds like I need a puzzle and my kitty and a good night's sleep, and I'll wake up happy again tomorrow. Let's hope so.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The post of acronyms

Cindy Lou Who can't be my kitty.

She is a feline corona virus shedder (CVS). About 80% of cats have the corona virus at some point during their lives, and they "shed" on and off. CLW is currently shedding. She's perfectly healthy, although it usually just causes diarrhea.

The problem with CVS is that it can turn into FIP (don't ask me what that stands for; I can't remember), which is a deadly condition to cats. It's rare, but it happens.

At work, we wear gloves to clean the litterboxes of CVS cats and sanitize our hands after petting them. We also don't let them out of their cages, except in a special room just for CVS cats. Also, I change my clothes and throw them in the washer the second I get home, and put on clean clothes in the basement, all before I even touch Elsie (yes, it's hard not to touch her for those few minutes!).

But there is another precaution for CVS cats, and this is the one that breaks my heart. CLW has to be fostered and adopted as an only cat. I can't take her. It's to protect Elsie, and believe you me, I would never put my baby in danger, but I'm still sad because I love CLW as if she were my own. Still, as I sit here and imagine her being adopted, I know I'll be super happy when it happens.

Please pray for my CLW. This isn't going to be easy for her... most people with cats own multiple cats, and who wants an underweight 11-year-old, black cat? She has so much stacked against her. But if we all pray for her, I bet God finds her the perfect little old lady who will sit and pet her all day and give her yellowfin tuna.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Just the thing

I got an email back from the medical director at work that it has never been discussed to euthanize Cindy Lou Who. They are running tests to determine why she keeps losing weight and in the meantime continue to search for a foster placement for her. As soon as I stinkin' move, that would be where I come in. She promised to keep me updated on my girl.

I noticed the last few days that when I went in, Cindy Lou Who had eaten all of her food! She's in 24/7 feedings, so she gets about a tablespoon of food uh... 5 times a day? Like all of the cats, she also has dry food available to her at all times. Although I was doing the dogs and J was doing the back cats last night, I asked if I could do my baby, and she said of course. Then she said, "Hold on. Let me get her something special." She came back with a can of yellowfin tuna. She said, "Dump out her dry food and give her kitten food; it has more calories. Then give her this. I bet she wants it all." Sure enough, Cindy Lou ate the entire can (it's just a 3oz can, but still!) of yellowfin tuna. We found 2 more cans hiding in the back, and I got 4 cans at the store on my way home. We're on a mission; Cindy Lou Who will not keep losing weight! We will sneak her the special food at night, after everyone leaves. It certainly isn't be the first time it's been done for a cat or dog, and it won't be the last.

But this is the time that really matters to me.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Real. Part Deux.

I woke up the next morning to find a note from Mom on my computer. It said that she knew I was just angry and didn't know what to do and that I didn't mean what I said, because I'd never say those things. That it deeply hurts a parents when she can't fix her child's pain. That she wishes she could, and that all she wants to do is make it go away when I hurt. It says that she's glad I called and that she hopes I'll continue to do so, because she's my mom and it's her job to help me. That some things are too big to handle alone.

I called Medical at work, and so far no one on their end is talking about putting my girl down. Last night when I made a trip to work to give someone a ride home as a favor (her car broke down), Cindy Lou Who had eaten all of her food. We sang and danced together :)

I emailed the Medical Director at work and asked that if it comes to putting her down, that I be notified as far in advance as possible. I asked that 1. I be able to adopt Cindy Lou Who as my own cat if they put her down, so she dies with an owner (to make me feel better) and 2. I be able to hold Cindy Lou Who while they do it (to make her feel better). As hard as it would be, I would do it for my baby. No response from C just yet, but I'm hoping I'll hear from her on Monday.

In other news, Sarah and Justin both came over last night to hang out and talk and do puzzles. We all had a great time. Then, J (my friend, and she will attest to that fact) called from work because her husband's car broke down and she absolutely had no way home, short of paying a cab $75. She lives 40 minutes from work, and so do I, so it's a long trip, but I absolutely know she'd do it for me. It turns out Justin knew the way and wanted me to ride in his brand-spankin'-new car, so Justin was nice enough to do the driving. I was happy because I got to see my Cindy Lou Who at work and see Joan for a bit. Anyway, we talked so much in the car, and I had to keep up with the obligatory "yeahs" and "uh huhs" that I came home and lost my words completely. Normally, a good night's sleep brings them back, but I slept terribly due to a migraine and so they're still not back. I'm a little nervous. I'm going to church to help with the kids tonight, and I won't be able to talk much, if at all.

It's times like this that I wish I had a portable text-to-speech (TTS) program like Proloquo2go. Chloe and I have been checking out the iPod touch and Proloquo2go, and we really like it. Unfortunately, it's about $259 for the touch and another $189 for the TTS, so way out of my budget, even during Christmastime. The Autism Waiver covers assistive technology, but I don't know if I can convince them that I need it, as I am sometimes quite verbal (just only about limited topics and limited periods of time). Wish me luck, though, as it seems like my only option.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Sometimes, I think I give you all a really false impression of myself. I must seem to "together" when you can only know me via writing. I warn you that what you are about to read presents a very different side of me that you may not be used to, but it's no less real. This is the side that my family and close friends get to deal with.

You see, in the lag time between when an incident happens in the Real World and when it gets posted on Blog World, the bandaids have been stuck, the patches made, the mending done. I (mostly) wait until situations have a happy ending before I post about them. Not this time. This time, we're right in the middle.

So I start my tale....

There is a cat at work called Cindy Lou, who I have renamed Cindy Lou Who. She's almost completely black with the tips of her front paws flashing a bit of white. She is 11 years and 2 months old, and she is recovering from an upper respiratory infection from a few weeks back for which she is still on medication. She lost weight with the URI, and the medicine they give her for it diminishes her appetite, so she's not eating. She's very severely underweight, probably half what she should be, soaking wet.

She is absolutely the sweetest cat, though. For some reason, she has no voice. I don't think her vocal chords work, because she only silent meows, and it's just so darn cute. I find it incredibly endearing. She loves (loves!) to be held and cuddled and purrs and silent meows up a storm. Because she can't be adopted until she gains weight, she needs a foster mom to take her in for a while to fatten her up. Of course, the very day I move out, this will be where I come in. I passed it by Mom, letting her live in my room at my current house, but she knocked that down and I accepted it.

Until tonight, that is. Three of my fellow animal caregivers mentioned that Cindy Lou Who wasn't doing well and that they may put her down. This is just opinion, not anything anyone has heard from Medical or anything like that. J, who has been there for 18 years, said, "If she just gets a foster, they won't mind giving her more time, because she won't be taking up space in the shelter." I take my foster class on Sunday, but I still don't know when I move out. The last we heard they said sometime in July.

I was okay until the vending machine ate my 65 cents and refused to give me a Diet Coke. I started crying on the way to the car. I knew this wouldn't end well, so I called Leigh, who was on the other line with someone. I called her 3 times, hoping she'd sense the urgency and take my call. I tried my sister, who is often up at this time and would be happy to help me calm down. By this point, sans Diet Coke (a huge calming mechanism), no Leigh to be found, and Emily in bed, I lost it. I pulled over on the side of the road and and thought. And thought. And thought. I wasn't calming down. I decided to call home and wake my mom up.

Me: Bob, can I talk to Mom?
Bob: She's sleeping.
Me: (Uh, bawling...). It's kind of important. I can't calm down.
Insert rustling and mumbling.
Mom: What, Lydia?
Me: Mom, I'm really upset because they might put Cindy Lou Who down if no one can take her and I don't want her to die.
Mom: I'm sorry.
Me: But Mom, we could take her.
Mom: I'm not taking another cat, I told you that.
Me: But they'd pay for her food and her medicine; you wouldn't even know she's there. We can save her.
Mom: I'm sorry, I wish we could, but we can't take another cat right now
Me: Mom, she's going to die. We could save her. She's already like my cat. We can't let her die.
Mom: *sighs....*
Me: You're being mean. You could save her, and you won't. It's your fault.
Mom: Honey, lots of things are my fault, but this isn't. Don't blame things on me that aren't my fault.
Me: You're mean! It is your fault! I'm mad at you! Go back to bed.

Leigh called back not two minutes later. I explained the whole situation, and over the next hour, we talked and repeated and talked some more and repeated some more. I kept saying that I just needed to be mad for a while. She (for a while, unsuccessfully) tried to convince me that I was rightfully angry, but not at my mother, because it was no more my mom's fault than it was anyone else's who can't or won't take Cindy Lou. We discussed at length whether it was a good option to decide that I didn't care about cats anymore. I rocked outside on the... rocking chair, but it's not a rocking chair, it's a kind of couch that rocks, which squeaked and squaked incessantly. Leigh recommended that I go see Elsie, but my OCD thoughts of hurting her kept creeping up and I was afraid to. She said, "What if Elsie misses you right now?" I said, "She's just a cat. Cats don't miss."

I finally (after, like, an hour and a half of crying and talking) decided that I could go in and find Elsie if Leigh stayed on the phone with me to make sure nothing bad happened. I opened the door and Elsie was right inside it. She normally waits for me upstairs, but she was directly inside the basement door, meowing before I even got it open. My poor baby knew I was outside crying and couldn't get to me. I said, "Hop up so I can pet you, Els," and she did just that. I apologized for putting her through that, and feeling alright, got off the phone with Leigh.

I headed upstairs, and Elsie stayed right at my feet, never once tripping me up though. I did my change clothes/take meds/empty work things from purse routine. Then, I sat down at the dining room table to write apology notes to my parents. At this point, Elsie hopped up on the dining room table, a no-no, but she just had to be right next to me, and I couldn't tell her to get down. She knew it was a one-time thing, anyway.

Bob's note is fairly simple. I wrote that I'm sorry for waking him up, but that having exhausted all other options, I did the only thing I could think of: call Mom. I said that I do not enjoy waking people up and thought long and hard about it, and that I promised to try not to do it again in the future.

Mom's note is a list. Sorry for waking her up. Sorry for saying it's her fault, when in reality it is many people's fault and only a tiny fraction of that is hers. Sorry for asking again when she had already said no. A little bit sorry for letting Elsie on the dining room table. And then I wrote that sometimes I need her to listen to what I mean instead of what I say. I say, "I'm mad at you," but what I mean is, "I'm angry at this situation and I'm projecting it on you because you're the only concrete being I know at whom to be mad, even though I know you don't deserve it." When emotions get involved, sometimes what I say and what I mean get mixed up. I told her that if I'm being either repetitive or unreasonable, to please help me figure out what I mean instead of what I'm saying.

I left the notes out for them to find in the morning. I'm afraid Bob will still make a big deal out of the waking up part and make me apologize like a dog with my tail between my legs, 900 times, before he drops it, if he ever does. But I hope that being proactive and apologizing will help.

Elsie hasn't moved from the back of my neck, first purring, now sleeping, in over and hour. Did I mention that I love my service cat?

So, as you can see, your "mature" and "insightful" Lydia can only be such when she has had quite some time, and some help, to process things. In the moment, it can get pretty messy. I'm a little worried that you will like me less after reading how nasty I got, but hey... that's me, and sometimes I get nasty. Don't we all?

Gonna take my kitty and go to bed, now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friends, Romans, Countrymen...

Lend me your ears?

You see, I have a dream of getting my book into the public library system here. I asked how to do that, and the lady said that I need to bring "feedback" from my book's website about it. In order to bring feedback to the library, I need my faithful readers to leave comments about my book on the Lulu site. Here's the link.

Please, please, if you read my book, leave a few sentences about how it helped you or why you liked it.

I'd really appreciate it.


Thanks :)

Monday, July 5, 2010


One last vacation story for you, then it will be back to your regularly scheduled programming.

On Friday, while I was visiting Dad's side of the family, my sister and her husband took the train up from NYC to visit with the in-laws and my parents. They spent the day shopping and looking around at a nearby town. On Friday evening, I rode the train back to Manhattan with Emily and Matt. I spent the whole time playing Angry Birds on Matt's iPhone. Highly amusing.

Anyway, after a day of hunting down this doll in NYC (to no avail, though I had my heart set on it) and book shopping and kitty-seeing, I was exhausted and it was time to go back to the hotel with my parents. I thought my sister would take me to the station and get me on the train.

Well, not so. She said, "I moved to this city at 22 and had to navigate the entire thing by myself. We'll put you in the cab and give you directions, and you will find the train by yourself. If you get lost, you can ask an employee for help or call us and we'll help you."

I was terrified. Navigating is so not one of my strong suits. I even called my mom and said that Emily was just putting me in the cab. She said she thought I could do it myself and that she'd be waiting as soon as I got off the train.

Emily and Matt explained exactly how to find my train, what to do with my ticket, how to tip the cab driver, etc. They even offered to write it down. The explained and explained again. I was still terrified.

We walked to the street corner and Matt hailed a cab. "Take her right to the entrance of Grand Central Station."

After a fairly quick cab ride, I paid the cab driver his money ($7) plus his tip ($2) and made sure to get out of the cab onto the sidewalk and not into traffic. I asked, "Where is the station?" and the driver pointed it out. I got my bags and marched right in.

I immediately found the computer screen that Matt had talked about and found the blue line and the train that said Southeast. Track 112. I looked up and scanned the big central part of the station for something that led to track 112, and found tracks 107-120 labeled over a hallway. I followed the hallway. Then, I saw black and whites (a type of NY cookie), which are delicious, and I bought one to eat on the train. No, they're not gluten free and yes, I got sick and itchy from it, but it was delicious!

I looked up again and found tracks 111 and 112 and, following the hallway, found myself looking at a train that read Southeast, but its doors were shut. It was only 7:14 and my train didn't leave until 7:48. Holding my heavy bags, I stood directly in front of the door of that train until the doors opened at 7:30. I also got hungry (hadn't had any dinner) and enjoyed my black and white.

I watched out the window the whole way home and payed close attention to whcih stop it was the entire time. My stop was last. I got off the train and immediately saw my mom and Bob. They both hugged me and I said, "Too much love, too much love!" But really, I don't know when I was last so happy to see them!

Friday, July 2, 2010

My people

You know the country song (I looked it up; it's by Rodney Atkins) that says ,"These are my people. This is where I come from...."? That song has been playing in my head all day.

Cousin R picked me up from the hotel at 10 am sharp. She greeted my mom and I with hugs and they chatted for a few minutes, catching up on which kid is where and doing what. We headed back to Robin's house in her big truck, dog Tony along for the ride. Their house is huge, very unique and cool, and sits on a little lake.

R and I chatted (ahem, I repeat: I chatted) for an hour until Aunt D appeared. She knew that there was a "surpise" at R's, but not that it was me. As I peered around the kitchen door, she faced the opposite way, so I grabbed her into a tight hug. I swear, for all of five minutes, all she could say was, "Oh my gosh!" R finally said, "Mom, do you know who this is?" She said, "Of course I do! It's Lydia! Oh my gosh!"

Over the next five hours, the two of them took me on a whirlwind family tour. First, it was off to see Cousin E (er, cousin's daughter, technically, but she's my age) who has spent the last year traveling Europe on her own. I haven't seen her in 13 years, but we used to play profusely as children. We caught her on her lunch break at work. I was thrilled to see her after so long, having nothing but great memories of our times together. We talked for a few minutes, and then she had to get back to work, but now that we're Facebook friends I'm sure we'll stay caught up with each other.

Aunt D took me from there and we went to their little cottage in the back of Cousin S's yard. Uncle F, who loves art, films, cartoons, and Shakespeare and is somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Magoo, minus the eyesight problem and plus some suspenders, came home from a little day trip. I swear the man hasn't visibly aged in 40 years and hasn't changed in the slightest. He's truly one of my favorite people in the world.

As Uncle F sat down to a lunch of liverwurst and crackers, Cousin S came home from the local cafe/bakery he owns with his wife, Aida. After 20 minutes, it was time for us to head down to the bakery to see their daughter (also my age, working in NYC as a fashion industry intern). Becky and I got close when I visited them five years ago for a week, and it was so good to see her. She greeted me with a huge hug and, "I miss you, I miss you, I miss you!" We fit an unreal number of words into the 25 minutes we had, and it was time for Aunt D and Uncle F to take me back to meet R and head back to the hotel.

There are so many details I could add, but I'd be here forever. It's the best day I've had since... well, definitely since Disney World with my mom last year. It's probably in the top 10 of good days in my life, to be honest. I had lost all hope that I would ever be truly comfortable with people besides my mom and Leigh. I felt so incredibly... normal. I fit right in, even with the same-age cousins I had gotten so nervous about seeing. These people sound like me, look like me, talk like me, even think like me. It's a feeling I need to have more often, and one that I plan on returning to this winter via bus.

It's family.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mom saves the day

(Read the previous post to catch up...)

Sitting on the front of stoop of the town home where my sister's in-laws live (that's who we're visiting in New York), I told my mom how nervous I was about tomorrow. I said that I knew I needed to tell R about my ASD, but that I was too shy to do it. I asked if it would be too weird for her to call and explain a little (this is, after all, her ex-husband's niece). Awkward though it was, Mom called and explained and R didn't care at all. Not that I thought she'd care, just that I feel better knowing that she knows.

Anyone who reads my book, could you do me a simple favor? Leave feedback about it on the Lulu site (here). I need feedback so that I can take the feedback to the library and get my book in there. Thanks :)