Losing Time to Musphobia

Night before last and yesterday morning I needed to whirl around my house like a hurricane and clean (giving the house what is akin to a lick and a politician’s promise, my house has slipped since it was clean) which involved while my son slept having my back door open so that I could go back and forth with rubbish bags out to my bin (which also needed to be put out because yesterday was “bin day”).

This proved to be a mistake as I ended up with a mouse. Who came in through the back door, pranced past the door of the living room, promptly spotted by me causing me to give a small scream of fright and then going quickly to my kitchen.

Two hours I should have spent cleaning then were promptly lost to me sitting on my bed unwilling and to a degree able to move as I imagined with horror everything said mouse was going to do in my home. I was slightly eased on this by the day time as mice tend to be nocturnal so at least I’m unlikely, not impossible but unlikely, to see it during the day. I still managed to get my home cleaner, at least enough for some work to be done, but not enough to make me completely happy.

I am however very fortunate in that my grandmother has a humane trap we’re going to put down. As it is – I’m going to throw out all my unsealed food and any food I see that has chew marks on it. I’m also going to invest in peppermint oil.

Advertisements

Learning When Not to Listen

(Originally posted to the Autism Acceptance blog on Quora.com – I’m the author so I have permission to republish here).

Recently my local county and borough councils have decided to try and improve the lives of their tenant and leaseholders.

So instead of stopping work on a hotly protested de-pedestrianization of the town centre that has a 60% and higher against rate in public opinion – and put that money into more repairs and adaptions around the town for the disabled residents (more dropped curbs) or repairing reported repairs (like my back gate that has been reported three times, once by a targeted prevention team and has still been waiting on over a year). They’ve decided to go into a completely different direction.

They’re running courses!

Well they're always excited for training.
Well they’re always excited for training.

(I.E. 5 to 7 week, one subject training seminars with a gold sticker for attendance or £10 shopping voucher if you attend more than 3 Рthey will also refund you child care and transport).

There’s things like sewing (and we all now how well that’s going so far), “Christmas” wreathes, introduction to yoga, twenty seven variations on a beginners IT course entitled “IT for the Terrified” and Zumba. Also there’s others less recreational such as managing money and emotional intelligence and…

Back up there.

Emotional Intelligence?

Yep.

That was the course my mother wanted me to attend (among the other four I put myself down for that she will attend with me all but one).

I say she wanted, I mean, she suggested…repeatedly… in that “I’m not forcing you – but I’m going to say it repeatedly in hopes that you’ll bite and come with me to it.”

It’s that one they, and by they I mean my family and any professionals working my case at any one time, hope I’ll find interesting in it’s description/title and bite because they think it might be useful to me what with my autism.

I didn’t bite.

I’ve been on plenty of courses as an “adult” from the age of 17 years old onward. Especially ones run by either small training groups or small charities nearly all subcontracted through either local or central government and they nearly all play out the same.

They’re run by middle aged and middle class people, normally in suits with optional jacket-and-tie variations, who have usually worked in offices for 20 years or used to be in some other line of work before switching careers and they now find themselves extremely impressed with their own university degrees, speaking to the great uneducated and unwashed in magnolia painted, drab carpeted, and fluorescent lit rooms. They are generally fresh off a training course (usually within the past 3 months, never longer than 18 months without another one coming along teaching them everything again with shiny new words so that they think it’s new) for the subject they’re about to spend fifteen minutes introducing and forty five minutes answering questions of various actual use (this will be pretty much every session for the people that inevitably turn up for the second, third or fourth week all of a sudden), busily checking around the room to make sure you’re responding to the course the same way they responded to their training, and puffing like a peacock.

I trained for an entire afternoon to do this! I am completely qualified and competent in this subject.
I trained for an entire afternoon to do this! I am completely qualified and competent in this subject.

Some of them, the courses – not necessarily the people teaching them, genuinely have some sort of skill attached to them even if you’re unlikely to find long term employment in it. Like the sewing course and the IT course (if you are over 60 and don’t know what the mouse does), then there’s the yoga course which I wish was going on for longer, and so on.

There’s the money managing and food hygiene, some small use but it’s not like it gives you a GCSE in Accounting or Home Ec, courses that they want people to go on, usually because the ones that need to won’t and the ones that don’t need to either do – or really resent people repeatedly trying to control their wallet and kitchen (Nothing can really annoy a lower class Mum on benefits who manages her finances and gives her children the best possible – complains about the reduction in benefits to barely livable – quicker than some middle class person who can actually afford to get into credit card debt coming along and trying to tell her what to spend the money on and how to eat).

I knew immediately from reading the title and description that this was going to be a perky, not-to-bright, office manager who thinks she knows the subject because people keep telling her how friendly and easy to talk to she is, plus she spent that afternoon learning from a guy who spends all of his afternoons teaching the same material from this one worn book that his boss sent him on a course to learn about.

Well – I didn’t attend but my mother still did.

Said to me today that I was completely right (her words: “SO right”) to avoid the course as it was taught by a “moron” (mum’s word to clarify, enter none-too-bright “Jackie the Office Manager”) who couldn’t define empathy correctly and all went down hill from there. Apparently the dear soul is also under the impression that Edam cheese is “the ones with the holes in”.

My mother didn’t get a fraction (and I mean didn’t get a fraction as in the entire course was a complete and total wash all together) of useful, correct or insightful information as she has done out of my repeated forwarding of links on the subject since I got really involved in learning and understanding more about my autism, what empathy actually is, the different kinds and breaking down the myths around my neurological make up.

Which is why I avoided that course.

Sometimes you need to learn when not to listen. When to be able to identify something that will actually be useful or when your own research among others online (both of studies but also counter-arguments to official studies) will yield more of a benefit.

There’s no point, if you’ve gotten really invested into a subject and voraciously reading all the debates in it, in attending an a dusty seminar with pamphlets and someone whose grasp of the subject is somewhere where yours was seven months ago only less well expressed. You don’t want to have to be the one either sitting in silence watching them fail or gently having to break it to them in front of a group of people that they’ve got the subject ass backwards and made their first mistake three seconds into their introduction just after their personal bio.

These courses are regularly recommended by professional people in low-level civil service positions because they got some use out of it and think that surely the person with the neurological difference across the room would get so much more out of it because after all the professional person is so much more competent, together and intelligent than the person opposite them so surely if they got something out of it it’ll do a world of good for the other person.

Don’t bite. If you know you know the subject and you’ve done research on the subject inside and out for months – DO. NOT. ATTEND. – It is a giant waste of your time and your time is just as valuable as anyone else’s.

A Small Trigger and Not There to Join Your “Stitch and Bitch”

A Small Trigger

I’m going to learn how to use a sewing machine. I say I’m “going to” with firm assurance because I have attended the first two classes to do so the last two Tuesday mornings just gone with my mother and she is attending courses with me.

I’ve learned to sew in a straight light on a sewing machine and how to turn corners. I also learned how to thread a sewing machine and that my personal sewing machine from eBay is bust (hey – thanks Mr. Seller for not letting me know that – faboo) thank goodness I know two engineering type males with lots of experience of sewing machines both repairing and using (because some real men can knit and sew by both hand and machine, ladies and gents – just as much as some real men can’t).

The first week was pretty hard at the beginning but turned out great toward the end and both my mother and I were looking forward to the next week and planning out our own little sewing group together at her house for when my son is at nursery or school (in future).

It was hard toward the beginning because the community centre was in the neighbourhoood where I lived with my ex (the one before my son’s father) for near a whole year. This was the ex in fact who tried to kill me. We had walked past the community center on almost a nightly basis, where we would walk in the evening or in the dead of night for fresh air and to talk, for several months and we distinctly less than 1000 feet away from the playing field that I had fled to after he’d put his hands around my neck… the field where he found me and brought me back to his place to live for another 5 months because I believed I genuinely had no place to go.

Driving into that neighbourhood again was triggering and it caused me to shake and break down in tears. I sat in the car silently weeping as I relived an experience I have tried to put past me, and into my past, for 6 (running on 7) years. My grandmother and mother were there to support me and to assure me that we were here to replace the bad memories I had with good ones. Even now I start to get a little teary repeating it and I know that it’d probably be better for me mentally to just not go over it but I can’t help it – it needs to get out of my body through my fingers.

Drying my eyes and getting out of the car was hard – but something I did and we managed, my mother and I, to have a pretty good time. Because so many people were away on holiday or sick it was just the four of us and the tutor – a nice quiet African lady named Olla and another woman who I can’t recall the name of.

We got a lot done that day, learning about the different machines that the lady brought in, threading them and sewing straight lines and boxes. My mum made a small pocket which was really cool because she did it quite well and her track record of using sewing machines (spontaneously blowing up on her when she sits down at them) is not great. Fortunately nothing has broken so far.

So we left that session really looking forward to the next week with a positive impression.

I Was Not There to Join Your “Stitch and Bitch”

The next session we discovered something else.

Every Tuesday morning, failing only in ill-health and holidays there is a group of women who all tumble in to a local community centre to do “crafts”. Mostly sewing but with miscellaneous others over the weeks. Anyone is free and welcome to join their group, they come from the local area as well as some of the “posher” areas of our home town. It matters not to them if people are tenants, leaseholders or own their own home. The average age is above 70. The average decibel of the meetings seems to rival that of a KISS concert and tea breaks are decided by them without reference to anything so mundane as passing instructors supposedly leading groups. It is, so far as I can tell, a “stitch and bitch” group – but given the age of the ladies involved, no so bluntly titled.

Last week a course started in that community centre each Tuesday morning for a sewing course run by the local councils (borough and county together, county runs it – the borough does the booking of the people onto the courses) for tenants and leaseholders. They’re very keen on these courses to help people on their tenancy rolls to give them either life skills or something to get them involved in activities with other tenants and build a sense of community or something.

Either way – it’s not an open group, but an actual course run by a paid tutor that had to be applied to through phoning and only through late publication of the pamphlet listing the courses were people allowed to book places less than 4 weeks in advance of the starting.

My mother and I were on the course, and so were the two women from last week, as well as at least two more that attended this week – a nice quiet woman by the name of Sarah who comes from the same neighbourhood as I do and arrives via bus – and a young man by the name of Phillip (who also has autism as well it turns out) who cycled from a village several miles away to attend.

The rest of the women who attended were the established group not on the course but who have decided that the people on the course are “joining their group” – this was decided when a woman introduced herself as coming from a posh area of town and being a home owner – something that had confused Phillip and caused my mother to clarify why Phillip brought it up.

“I don’t see why that matters!” the woman exclaims. “Really – You’re joining OUR group.”

No – no we’re not. We’re on a course for tenants and leaseholders to learning sewing – something that another member of your group has admitted to doing on a regular basis – you are an established craft group who have muscled IN on our course and taken it over.

Which is exactly what they did. They took over.

They were loud, with one woman, identified by my mother later as a “motormouth”, who couldn’t keep quiet for five seconds as she complained to us in long and insufferable details about all the things wrong with her free holiday that someone within her family had won and taken her on.

“Look at all them! They’re miles ahead of me! All they’ve done and I’ve barely started.”

Perhaps she would have been further ahead in her sewing had she perhaps closed her mouth for long enough as to allow her hands to work.

The tutor asked her to quiet once, but this merely responded in a 2 second silence and a slightly reduced level to her whispered conversations with the woman sitting next to her.

Admittedly my mother and I whispered to.

Mostly reassuring each other that it was okay as we both got flustered from the crowd and noise. My mother having an absent fit (not epileptic – no shaking – it just means that she looks like she’s asleep for half a minute while she can’t respond to anything at all, can’t move, can’t open her eyes, can’t speak… like she’s not there. Caused by inter-cranial pressure). After these fits she generally ¬†needs to be able to just sit quietly and gather herself… quiet being not just a stranger to the women in their group but an outright declared enemy.

Me – I was so overloaded by so much crowding, a woman looming right over me constantly (she did not sit down due to problems with her back – but she did loom), and so much noise… I shook enough that I couldn’t really sew properly.

I had to leave the room and sit outside the building three times, twice to stim quietly to try and relax… the sound still carrying on upon the breeze that I clapped my hands over my ears to try and block it out, and once as I succumbed to a panic attack and started to convulse for almost a minute and desperately trying to regulate my breathing.

Phillip seemed to be fine, a friendly young man who doesn’t seem to have much of an issue with personal space and could get quite loud – possibly it was a good day for him and merely an average to slightly bad day to me. I had not had much sleep the night before.

Either way – my mother and I had a pretty awful time of it.

We have told the organizers that if there is a repeat next week of this week, the taking over by the crafts group and the tutor unable to control the group properly as well as the noise level being so bad – that it will be our LAST week. We will drop out and merely do sewing at mum’s house together where we can have our cups of tea and speak to each other quietly.

30+ Years Later…

So when my Uncle David was 10/11 years old – he kinda did a jerk thing to my mother. 30+ years later while admitting it was a jerk thing – he continues on to do another jerk thing.

When my Uncle was 9 he wanted to play the violin. He put his name down for it at school and the school, as well as my grandparents, said no. He hadn’t danced or bopped to music as a child (although I can confirm as a frequent passenger to his driving that he does like/love music) and didn’t show great enthusiasm for any other instrument – nor did he put his name down for any other instrument that my grandparents WOULD have let him play.

So he didn’t learn to play the violin.

A year later my mum turned 9 and she put her name down for the violin. The school and my grandparents said yes and she began to take lessons and bring the violin home to practice.

Every time my mother opened the case, my Uncle was mean to her about it. He would call it a “vile din” and basically made her pay for his hurt feelings and the perceived unfairness of the situation.

Now – this isn’t actually why my mother quit playing the violin, it may have contributed, but what really got my mother to quit was that my Uncle Mark was born and even as a newborn had his uncannily good musical ear… so wailed every single time my mother picked up the violin until the 9 year old girl gave up and gave it back to school because she was incapable of practice at home.

Today my Uncle admitted why he was so cruel to my mother about practice and his feelings of unfairness and resentment over the fact that she was allowed to try and learn to play the violin while he had been denied – despite his showing an interest.

Now, my grandmother and grandfather are pretty unrepentant for what happened. He had shown no real inclination before hand. He’d tried a little with recorder before – but suffering from cyclical interests as many an autistic (and recalling that this was the 1970s and only the really most severe and extreme cases of autism were being diagnosed at the time – my Grandmother had HEARD of it – but she didn’t connect it up with what had happened in her own family until much, much later) – he had lost interest for a while and when he came back to it – my Grandmother had already given the recorder away. They had no clue how badly he wanted this and they didn’t think he’d do so well with it.

They definitely didn’t know how he felt at the time because he was taking it out on his sister.

My grandmother wanted my Uncle to apologize to my mother, completely reasonable and I agree with her, but he didn’t. He stated he WASN’T sorry because it was a reasonable conclusion and result that he had come to at the time based on what he was experiencing.

It wasn’t.

I do understand his feelings and why he didn’t approach his parents at the time. It’s really hard to approach your parents when you feel that they’ve been unfair and summarily dismissed or not taken into consideration your feelings. With that initial feeling of having your feelings rejected and overlooked you’re inclined to feel that it would happen again – so you close off from the people you should be addressing due to your belief that you cannot address them as it wouldn’t do any good. You’ve lost the feeling of their being receptive to you – so without feeling like they’d be receptive to you – you don’t even try.

My grandmother said that with grown kids – they’ll tell you everything you did wrong in raising them. I understand why this happens – because resentment and hurt can be held onto for a long time and eventually it bubbles to the surface. Especially if you felt voiceless at the time but feel like you’re more on an equal footing with your parents as an adult. While they were in charge of you, there was a level of unapproachable-ness about them – that isn’t their fault by a long shot, it’s just how it is.

So often you’ll lash out in anyway you can to feel like you’ve gotten a little justice for how you’ve been wronged.

However he should still have said sorry to my mother – because it wasn’t her fault that he wasn’t allowed to learn the violin and that their parents made an unfair decision. He did take it out on her – and he knows it was wrong… he just doesn’t connect up that it deserves an apology.

It does. And I wish he had. I said sorry to mum on his behalf because I KNEW it deserved an apology – but it would have meant a lot more… had it come from him.

OMGosh IT’S CLEAN!!!!

Okay – so my house isn’t type-a(nal) level clean, there is still some sweeping and mopping and attention to certain corners that COULD be done. It’s in fact pretty solid evidence that when it comes to cleaning I don’t have OCD. However, it’s good enough for company to come around and not be upset with it.

My Gran was so proud of it she was boasting about it to my mother (testament to my generally poor housekeeping) and my mother is really happy because it means she and my gran can turn up sometime and help me start the next stage.

Thinning out the clutter. Lets face it – there’s a lot of clutter that needs to be gotten out of all but the most minimalist of lifestyles. And with a 3 year old in tow – I don’t know of anyone who actually has a “minimalist” lifestyle; thus de-cluttering must be done repeatedly throughout life..

But it’s a really good start. It makes me feel happy about my home – and that is a feeling I haven’t had in a long time.

Of course – it goes without saying that a clean house leads to the greatest mystery of our time… why the hell are the flies still here when there’s nothing around to attract them!? The house is clean – I’m clean – I bathed darn it! They should be gone!

This morning wasn’t fun however- clean house high still to be had, come into kitchen – bulging ceiling. Upstairs had a pretty serious leak coming down my ceiling and dripping onto my work surface. So I called the council to get a repair, having gone upstairs to check with them (finding only male-neighbour as opposed to female-neighbour who was my friend in school) – I got the council to come do a repair – HOWEVER – male-neighbour in the mean time had beggared off who-knows-where having lied about female-neighbour logging the repair (it wasn’t on their system) and having lied to female-neighbour about logging the repair himself – before he left for several hours.

The plumber turned up, only no one was there to answer, and he waited around and waited around – having poked a hole in my ceiling to stop the bulging, finally calling his supervisor. Supervisor gets the locksmith out – they’ve decided to force entry and then change the locks; having gone in to see the problem. The problem? They’d left the tap on – the skirt to the sink cupboard was completely destroyed – and they just shut off the tap and came back down. Leak having really really slowed and soon stopping. Told me they’d log onto the system a need for a follow up because my ceiling needs to be “made good” after the leak.

Fast forward several hours.

Male-neighbour, drunk (possibly was slightly buzzed when I spoke to him before while he smoked and mentioned making something in memorium for the cat that died yesterday – got caught in their window) and it appears high as well, so believeth female-neighbour, is frustrated with not being able to get in. To be clear – he’s not an official tenant of this building, the female-neighbour is. He has a history of conviction for drink and anger issues (especially while drunk), had gone through a program for it, moved in with girlfriend – and promptly her children were removed from her care by social services. Now – this guy is great in helping the garden and keeping the place nice and tidy when he’s sober, but he still has a drink problem. Apparently it’s escalated to substance abuse and whenever he goes on a bender he’s going passed my bedroom window, up into the area of the garden a little way up and then throwing rocks at the windows to try and force female-neighbour to let him back in the house if she’s locked him out. Also he will bang on the door, repeatedly, loudly and scaring me that he maybe causing damage to these strong, fire doors. It can go on late into the night and we’ve all called the police on him at one point or another.

He couldn’t get in and ended up throwing rocks at the living room window….breaking the window and now I have glass all over the patio right outside my backdoor and can’t clean it up properly until maybe tomorrow because there’s one piece that is huge and looks like it’s gonna fall any minute but hasn’t yet. He was making a massive fuss…when female-neighbour wasn’t even back yet. Somehow in this mess – they lost their dog. I don’t know if he’s run off or just been taken in by the neighbours next door who tried to rescue their cat (and believe they shouldn’t have pets if they can’t take care of them). Female-neighbour comes back to discover the shattered glass of her living room and drunk male-neighbour making life a misery and so messed up in his head he can’t even say his own name.

I moved into this place a year ago (oh my goddess… a full year!?) and when I moved in she had two beautiful boys, two cats, a hamster, she also bought a puppy in the meantime and we would occasionally talk and visit (although not all that often) and I would let my son play with hers, although with a fairly watchful eye. Now the hamster died, the cats are gone, a replacement cat they got six weeks ago is dead, the dog is who-knows-where as of this afternoon, the sons now have to live with the grandparents and mum can’t visit unless supervised plus her boyfriend is off the wagon, abusing substances again and they can’t afford even a internet connection (Something she could afford before) so they’re using mine; with my permission.

All doom an’ such – am I a bad luck charm for the building or something? Mum says no – mum’s a sweetheart.

Ex-who-tried-to-kill-me has now joined Nerdfighteria and NaNoWriMo (apparently he won last year). Nowhere is sacred or safe. Wonderful. Definition of Awesome called – dudes who strangle their girlfriends suddenly being super happy people who taint her fave hobbies so she can’t take part in them safely – DOESN’T MAKE THE CUT.

Lughnasadh

I don’t really talk much about my religion any more, my intensity in that area tends to go in some cycles too although it never actually leaves – and I really ought to get back into practicing it properly more often.

I was filling out Kai’s forms for going into the next room up for nursery and when filling out his religion once more with “Pagan” it occured to me that we hadn’t celebrated sabbats or done any workings in a LONG while. The table I was using for my altar long back to it’s original purpose as a coffee table and with a TV on it – not to mention my room constantly messy with boxes unpacked since move (nearing a year now) so that I didn’t have room for a new altar in my room (not to mention I can’t really have one until Kai gets over his “everything belongs to me” phase – an athame in the hands of a 3 year old is a nightmare I do not wish to have come alive).

So I spoke with mum about Lughnasadh and when it was coming up (last Thursday) and how we absolutely HAD to do something. I couldn’t stand it any longer and I wanted to get Kai more involved raising him Pagan like I’d intended to since before he was born. So we had an abridged ritual which involved casting circle (trying to get Kai to be involved in that) – with Kai refusing to sit down – music playing on phone, sitting down to a feast…and it immediately beginning to rain – with Kai running around to go watch Cbeebies inside – so I dispersed circle quickly and we moved inside as quickly as we could to get away from the downpour.

Okay – so that was a little aborted in a way – but it wasn’t going to be a long ritual anyway because there isn’t really much to say on the subject of Lughnasadh. It’s the festival of the god Lugh to celebrate the first harvest and give back to the earth part of the first things being taken to ensure that the harvest remains plentiful throughout. That’s pretty much it. Bake bread, make corn dollies (if children will let you), recite/sing John Barleycorn and you’re pretty much set.

Admittedly me and Kai didn’t bake bread.

We baked Dora the Explorer cupcakes – because Kai wanted them and it was a quick/easy bake to do with him.

None of us really liked the roasted vegetable tart though – that was sort of a swing and a miss from Tesco. Will remember to not bother with it next year and settle for something I know we do like. Like Quiche… they make vegetarian versions of that to keep with the “theme”.

Next festival is the autumnal equinox – Mabon. If I start prepping NOW – I might be ready – but will Kai’s itchy feet be any better?

Probably not.

I HATE Summer…

Okay – to be completely fair -there are lots of things about summer that I like. I like the nice weather, I like the warmth and being able to lie out on the grass, I like spending time with family members. I like that having ice-cream is not going to make you freeze or feel like a silly monetary choice.

I just hate all the bugs that end up in my house if it’s not completely clean and perfect every single second of the day.

Look – I know that no one cares about “mess” they do care about “clean” and unfortunately – with my son…those two are not mutually exclusive and it’s hard to keep them apart.

Which means I get inundated with FLIES. And I think I’m close to screaming because I can’t get rid of the beggars without closing up all my doors and windows so it’s stuffy as all get out and using RAID spray…which – exactly how can I do that with a three year old running around and opening doors willy nilly and no one to babysit him (not to mention that my kitchen doesn’t have a door)?

I try to keep on top of the place so that I can not have them or have a reduction – but my son loves to run off with stuff and hide it. He does that with everything – my glasses, my keys books…and food.

Ever had a really sensitive skin day and lots of flies?

Yeah. It’s not fun.