Zen is a hell of a drug

The joke is that zen is not actually a drug. And I don’t actually talk about Zen in this post, but it’s pretty much why I’m here.


I find myself sitting here, wondering just how much I’ve been deluding myself.

I’ve had this thought in my head: maybe I could start a self-sustaining side business of illustrating and making hand-made goods. And I keep thinking about it, and fantasizing about it. But I don’t have the spoons for much else but going to work and sleeping. I’ve dabbled, but not much else.

So this idea has been in my head since I graduated from college, and I just…haven’t made it happen. I’ve tried. It’s exhausting. It’s confusing. And I face planted several times.

I guess I shouldn’t feel so bad. Thousands of people have the same fantasies, and they pour everything they have into making them realities. And they fail anyway.

Like, everyone wants to listen to the TED talk of the entrepreneur who quit his job and is now “living his dream”. They want to think to themselves, if I had the courage, that could be me too.

But the thing is, courage had nothing to do with it. The job he quit was white collar, and he had the money to finance himself. The man himself is white, abled, and well-connected. He didn’t start from scratch and work his way up. He had all the pieces already, and he was already up.

And then there’s the people who actually started from nothing. But they know how to be likable. They know how to be someone people want around. They know how to network. When I try, people give me a chance because they pity me, and I inevitably disappoint them when they realize that I am more effort than they bargained for. Or they want to fuck me, which I haven’t always figured out until I was being called a bitch for not putting out, or until I was trying to pry some grandpa motherfucker’s hands out of my pants.

I’m just not the kind of person that can make this work.

I know that it’s unreasonable to expect any success, but I can’t make myself quit this quaint little hipster dream. I just want to cut it out of my head.

I guess the reason it’s so hard to let go is that I just don’t know what I should do to protect myself and look after myself.

My jobs are taking a ridiculous toll on my mental health, and I want an escape from that. I have bombed every job interview I have ever went on in the past two years, and getting a better job than what I have doesn’t seem like something accomplishable.

I don’t feel my living arrangement is ok to bring a child into, and I have this fantasy of making enough money to move far away, so I can get knocked up and not have to worry.

This fantasy is a manifestation of hope that I’m going to somehow be better and more in control. Holding onto it is deluding myself and I wonder how much I could actually accomplish if I just let it go.

But no, I’m just sitting here thinking wistfully to myself, “someday” knowing damn well that day is never going to come, and this is it.

I really don’t think there’s anything I can do to make my life better, and I don’t know what to do with that thought. Accepting where I am, as I am is about all I can come up with. And I guess it’s hard to let that art fantasy die, because I have to let go of the fantasies attached with it. Autonomy, comfort, a child. Being something resembling normal and having a life that isn’t this.

I am just not capable of being that or having that.

This is it.

And it just feels ugly and unfair and it hurts.

But I think I’m ok.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop my dabbling or stop writing. It just means the expectations I have for myself are a little less, and hopefully also a little more achievable.

Going Green: if someone says it’s easy, they lyin’

This was a big week full of multiple melt-downs. I’m dizzy. I’m exhausted. If this doesn’t make sense, I apologize.


I very much like the idea of going green.

Last week the temperature didn’t rise about 47 degrees Fahrenheit. This week, we had two days of 90 degree weather. Globally, weather is getting more extreme. Ice caps are melting. We’re sort of boned.

These weird little things I do to try to reduce my carbon foot print aren’t going to save the planet, they just give me a tiny, tiny feeling of control. I can’t stop global warming, but I can be mindful about what I do and use, and that’s something.

This means I have read sustainability and “green” blogs off and on.

Unfortunately, human experience is finite. You can only produce so much material from personal knowledge. But if you’re trying to make a buck blogging, you need to be constantly producing content. This leads to a lot of shady quackery.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently malicious about it. Professional bloggers, like all authors, are story tellers. People want to vicariously live through them and their posts. It’s sort of an unspoken mutual agreement that the readers are not actually going to attempt these crafts and “penny-saving home-solutions”. These posts are meant to be consumed as porn, not as actual guidance.

Unfortunately, I did not know this going in and experienced a lot of disappointment when I was looking for ways to make my life both eco-friendly and livable.

There are no sustainable cure-alls or convenient fixes. Eco-friendly alternatives ARE NOT as effective as the environmentally unfriendly staples they replace, and in some cases you just have to figure what you find acceptable to live without entirely.

People Who Just Don’t Get It will see your struggle, and laugh, because they like that things that go against their personal beliefs are so hard. They think their comfort, and being comforted, means they’re right.

But as with all areas in life, doing the right thing doesn’t mean you’re doing the easy thing.

Sometimes, you can’t do something, even if you think it’s right. It’s beyond your capabilities, and you have to give up. What you’d like, and what you need can’t exist in harmony.

You have to compromise.

I do this thing, because I can’t do it any other way. I do that thing, because it allows me to follow my idealogical values.

Half-ass is always better than no-ass.

I Am Not A Brand: Reprise/Anointing Oil

My approach to social media is the same as it was when I was 12. “This is me farting around, being me ‘n shit.” That is horrible for branding and building a persona.

When you’re branding, you’re supposed to pick one area of focus, with maybe a couple secondary hobbies. If you’re a designer, your blog is solely about design with the occasional odd post about something related, like photography or crafting. If you’re a pagan author, your blog should focus on your religion with the occasional odd post about history or mythology. If you’re an activist, your blog should focus on what you’re advocating, with the occasional odd post about other areas that need social attention.

Or at least that is what I was taught in college, along with: Make yourself simple and predictable. Make yourself an inoffensive, attractive, and easily consumable product. If you win an audience, good, but the main goal here is trying to connect with peers and collaborators. Nobody wants excess “baggage”.

I know what my areas of interest are, I know who I am, and I know what matters to me. But I don’t really know if I could pick one I’d want to define me. And, to be honest, my hang ups and mess ups aren’t something I can really hide. I can try to, but at this point in the game I don’t think pretending they’re not there has done me any favors. I want to be less about hiding them, and more about living with them.

It’s sexy to say things like, “I contain multitudes” and “I am bigger on the inside” but people don’t like complicated, and they don’t like messy. They respond better to simple and easily defined. Sound bites and thumb nails.

I’m not saying I’m more complicated than other people; I’m saying I’m the ordinary level of complicated, it’s just that I can’t really figure out how to parse myself down into a product, so I’m not going to. I have a hard time telling when something is TMI, so we’re just going to pretend there’s no such thing. My social media presence is going to be just a seemingly-inconsistent (to other people) shit show of my hobbies and thoughts. If you come here for my autism posts, you’re going to find art posts. If you come here for my art posts, you’re going to find posts on spirituality. Come here for spirituality? Sorry, today I’m posting about graphic design.

People are fond of saying, “Be who you are and the right people will find you.” We’re going to see how that goes.

Ok? Ok.


 

IMG_6394
My anointing oil so far. It smells like olives and failure.

Since I was a child I’ve had a fascination with nature and the outdoors. There is a little bit of the romantic, sanitized, fairy tale ideation, but also morbid fascination and sheer terror. Nature is cruel and uncaring, nature is beautiful and strong. Nature is just another word for Dao, and is infinite possibility and infinite nothing.

So! As you can imagine I’ve been attracted to the Neopagan/witchcraft movement. My feelings of spiritual awe are at times at war with my low tolerance for utter bullshit, so it’s been a complicated relationship.

I’m not a disbeliever in magic and mysticism, but at this point I believe it’s the placebo effect. If you think I’m saying that to be dismissive, then you are greatly underestimating the power of the placebo effect.

There is this thing inside of us that needs to be encouraged and nurtured. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s essential, and for some people, praying, rituals, and spells make it grow. These things are the finger pointing at the moon rather than the moon itself, but sometimes they are necessary to achieve the ends we want.

So that’s why I’m trying to make anointing oil, for use in consecrating candles and what have you.

I bought some frankincense and myrrh resin about two years ago, thinking I was going to use it as incense. HA HA, fucking no. It smells AMAZING but my lungs can’t handle burning it more than once a holiday. It’s also very impractical and non-descret if you are doing any sort of spell work or ritual in a public space. So the resin has been sitting unused on a shelf. There’s a pound of it.

I saw a recipe online for making anointing oil, so I thought I’d give it a go. It was:

  • two cups of olive oil
  • Five tablespoons of crushed frankincense and myrrh resin
  • teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Combine in jar, let sit for two days

I halved the amount of olive oil, because I’m fairly certain the rest of the household would notice. We eat olive oil on everything, partially because my mom is half-Italian, partially because it’s fucking good for you. I did not halve the resin though. There is an unreasonable ratio of crushed resin to olive oil. I thought this would make it smell better, faster, stronger, harder (or something like that).

Well, it’s been two days and it smells like…olives. Just olives. Which, hey, wouldn’t be a problem if the recipes didn’t promise it would smell like a Catholic church. The lack of scent might be because my resin is old, or it might be because the recipe was bullshit.

So I added five more tablespoons of resin, and I’m going to let it sit for a month, or at least until it stops smelling like olives AND ONLY OLIVES. We’ll see which comes first.

My diagnosis is not a secret

There’s a big difference, for me, between being “out” on the internet, and being “out” in real life.

“Oh, Rose, you talk so candidly, I guess this doesn’t bother you if you can share your experiences with strangers/bots/the empty void.”

There’s a difference between a like (or even the rare comment) and a conversation with a person whose face you’ll see. If Joe Blow has negative perceptions of autistics, that doesn’t affect my life any. But if, say, one of my bosses does, that can be bad news for me.

On Facebook and tumblr, I’ll shit post autism awareness stuff. It’s not that I trust these people with this information, it’s just that it doesn’t bother me if they know. Like, it’s just one big lukewarm grey area. I get to express myself, and it’s to an audience that, probably, doesn’t give two shits, because our shared history is so insignificant. We’re never going to have a conversation in real time about my experiences as an autistic, and my text posts about it are going to get skimmed over in favor of pictures of kittens and girls’ asses. Excuse me if I fail to find this daring.

My biggest fear when disclosing to people in real life is that they’ll take it as a mark of trust, or some sort of token of affection and gratitude. “Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I’m honored.” Just like losing your virginity, knowledge of a person’s neurotype isn’t some precious gift bestowed on the worthy, it’s incidental.

There’s two reasons I share shit with people I encounter in real life. Number 1, I think you need to know. What ever issue I’m having is affecting my work, our interactions, something. The lights are off, but there’s still an elephant in the room, I brought it here, and I’m terrified someone or something is going to get stepped on. Hopefully shedding light on the situation will keep at least some disaster at bay.

Number 2, I’m fucking daring you to hurt me.

That sounds more defiant than it really is. I want it to be all badass and tough, but sometimes it’s more whimper than it is growl. I feel out of control, I feel vulnerable, and it’s just me trying to play God. If I tell you, then you’re not going to figure it out on your own, and I am deciding when and where you’re going to reject me, or when and where you wave this little fact around like it’s some filthy little secret that can flay me.

It’s not a secret, it’s just not something a lot of people know. It’s not because I’m ashamed of my diagnosis; it’s because I’m afraid of assholes thinking it automatically entitles them to pieces of my dignity. On the internet, you can block, you can hide behind a handle, and you can just stop existing if the environment gets hostile. In real life, you can’t. There’s gossip that travels through social circles like a really ambitious parasite, there’s physical aggression, and there’s people standing three feet in front of you who associate your face with guiltless sadism, all because they view this as a weak spot that they would love to stick their finger in.

So yeah. There’s a big difference between being “out” on the internet, and being “out” in real life.

EDIT: I literally have no idea if this makes sense, and it’s a post I would actually like feedback on just so I know if it’s cohesive, or just a bunch of random angry words.

Autistics are superheroes too

Growing up an undiagnosed autistic is like growing up thinking everyone around you is a superhero.

No one thinks much about how easy it is for them to fly. They take their X-Ray vision for granted, as well as the fact that they can stop bad guys with their charismatic voices just as easily as they can their fists.

Not everyone is going to Save Mankind from Evil, or even Save the City from the Mafia. But they could. The potential is there.

But everyone knows it’s not there for you. And they like telling you this. You’re just a weak civilian with no purpose. They, however, are Destined For Something Great.

There are well meaning people who don’t actively mock your deficiencies to bolster their own self-confidence. But it’s still…odd.

Sometimes it feels like people want you around solely because having someone to save makes them feel important. How weak your biceps are compared to theirs makes them feel strong. But in the end, you don’t feel protected, you just feel…weak.

Sometimes the people who want to protect you get frustrated and leave. They expected you to, eventually, develop super strength, or x-ray vision, or to at least fly. And when you don’t, they either think you’re hiding your strength to exploit theirs, or that you stubbornly refuse to believe you have it. Captain Happy-Pants found his power by believing in himself, so why can’t you?

Or, worse, they realize the potential for these gifts was never there in the first place. You really were just a powerless civilian all along.

“No, I am strong, but not in the same way you are,” is not a response they want to hear.

Ok, ok, you do have talents. But, frankly, they’re kind of weird and useless. You don’t have X-Ray vision, you have microscope vision. Sure, you can glide, but that’s not as great as flying, obviously. Not as impressive.

Even when people finally acknowledge the powers you have, they still want you to “move past” the talents that come naturally to you, and work on trying to develop x-ray vision, super strength, and flight as if they are the pinnacle of superpowers. Adults ask “why can’t you just try to see like everyone else” all the while ignoring that your eyes are structurally different from your peers and you just fucking can’t.

Trying to fly is as physically achievable to you as spontaneously growing a third arm (hint, it’s not—at all). But you spent all your life trying to do it anyway. You have turned into an adult with no idea how your body works because you’ve spent so much time forcing onto it the expectation that it should work like everyone else. After you fail to fly, for the billionth time, you break your back falling.

As you lay there in agony, you wonder if maybe you could have saved yourself the pain if you spent more time perfecting how to glide.

 

Autism Apps: Forest/SelfControl

I get distracted easily. Half an hour ago I sat down at my computer with the intention to write, and I spent twenty minutes on twitter surfing through hashtags. Not cool.

So on my phone, when I remember to use it, I have the forest app. You “plant a tree”, and then set the timer for 10 minutes to 2 hours. If you exit the app in that time, your tree will fucking die. For some reason, killing a digital tree is just harrowing for me. So needless to say, the app is success.

On my computer, I have the SelfControl app. Instead of cutting off the internet entirely, you block sites that distract you for up to 24 hours. This is handy when your work requires you to be online, but places like Facebook are an addicting distraction.

I don’t always remember to use them, but they’ve seriously cut down on dawdling. Just seeing the “page could not load” warning is enough for me to redirect my focus back to work. Usually. 8 times out of ten?

Anyway, they’ve been productivity savers.

 

Autism Apps: Ovia

This is for anyone with functioning ovaries. And possibly ANYONE with IBS or another body ailment you want to track.

I used to track my period with a calendar so I could predict when I’d have PMS, because those days would be terrible. My symptoms seemed to have lessened with age, but it’s still handy to know when I’m “running late”.

Ovia is actually meant to track fertility for people who are trying to conceive, but it is still useful if you aren’t. I use it to track and predict my period, but I also track when I have sex (have I had sex this month? No? then I’m not going to freak out if my period is three days late).

I have, on occasion, a pain in my side that feels sort of like a pebble got caught in there or something. I’ve had numerous tests done to find the source, with no results. I track it so if it ever becomes more frequent, I’ll know something’s up. I also use it to track migraines, “toilet habits” (I’m getting old, my colon isn’t as spry as it used to be), and moods too.

It helps with being able to reliably relate to doctors my ailments, and it helps me notice patterns, which sometimes I can right on my own.

So it’s a handy little app that is more versatile than the name suggests. I think my only critique is that ovulation, period, and sex are marked on the calendar, but since those are things I’m regularly dealing with, it’s not an issue.

“Comfort zone”

Comfort, meaning—according to Google:

  1. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.
  2. the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.

And zone, meaning:

  1. an area or stretch of land having a particular characteristic, purpose, or use, or subject to particular restrictions.

So in short, a zone is a designated area with defined boundaries.

People are often fond of telling me, “Step outside your comfort zone,” and that implies two things:

  1. I am currently feeling comfortable and safe.
  2. I know what makes me feel comfortable and safe.

Unfortunately that has never, ever been the case when I have received that piece of advice. That advice often came because people noticed that I was very reticent and uncomfortable, but it has always been delivered as if I was observed existing in a place of peace.

In reality, due to continued insistence that I “step out of my comfort zone”, I am rarely ever in my comfort zone. I barely even know what my comfort zone looks like.

What would be a more helpful piece of advice?

Identify what exactly is your comfort zone, and where its limits are, so you can run back to it if shit goes south. Maintain your comfort zone, equip yourself with comfort items if need be. Don’t step out of your fucking comfort zone without a map or your ass is going to get lost.

Before you do sometime outside your comfort zone, practice so much that you own that shit, and it becomes familiar and known. Confidence is important, and you can’t just pull it out of your ass. It can’t come from nothing, you have to accumulate it.

Warning, metaphors:

When you’re a level 1 paladin, you’re not going to go after a world dragon and win.

For those non-Wow geeks, here’s something perhaps a little more understandable: Don’t practice in the deep end of the pool if you’ve never swam before. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself and float. Sometimes you’ll drown like you thought you would, because you were spot on about the fucking limits of your abilities. If you think you need to start small, then start small.

How you feel is not unreasonable. Take care of yourself.

 

 

RIP Joanie Laurer

I wrote this last year and posted it on Facebook when she died. I saw a trailer for a documentary about her and it kind of really irked me. On the anniversary of their deaths, people should be remembered, not exploited.

Reposted from my tumblr.

The first thing I said to Chyna on set was “So…have you ever acted before?” and she just sorta gave me a side eye, and nonchalantly told me, “a couple of times”.
I didn’t know her. I only spent a month, a decade ago, in her presence. I didn’t just learn that she was a trail blazing wrestling personality, but that she was nice and patient as hell.
I remember trying to bum a cigarette off her and making the producers die inside a little because, if she was a meaner person, she would have done something more scathing than saying “no”.
I remember nerding out over her chihuahua puppy because she put it in an adorable little dress (just sort of standing there, baby-talking, because it was so cute it broke my brain) and OMFG she let me pet it. Like, smiling, telling her pupper to “Say hello to Miss Rose.”
One time I was supposed to pick her up at the hotel. She got into my busted ass Volvo and then this guy tried to get in the other side. For some reason I can’t remember, I assumed he was a stalker so I slammed on the gas and sped away.
Her manager, understandably, was a little vexed by my daring escape, but she told him that it had just been a joke and that was the last they mentioned it.
On the last day of filming she took my hand and said to me something like “I want you to remember…” And, ironically I can’t remember most of what she said. Just that she talked softly and was nicer than I probably deserved.

I don’t know how to wrap this up neatly. I guess I’m trying to say she was nice and forgiving when she didn’t have to be. She was the kind of actress that would sometimes take a cigarette break with grip and electric, and not just standing in the same designated area to get her nicotine fix, but joking around and talking with everyone like she was one of the crew.
I don’t think anyone had a bad thing to say about her; she was one of those strange, rare people that actually treated everyone like human beings. She was sweet, and she was kind. I’m glad I met her.

Autism Apps: MyFitnessPal

So I decided to post about apps that I’ve found help manage my various bullshit problems.

I’m starting with my calorie tracker app.

I have a stupid relationship with food. I’m not anorexic per se, but I don’t really enjoy eating unless certain flavor and/or texture requirements are met. And sometimes, I just don’t really enjoy eating, period.

Sometimes, due to lethargy and burnout, I will eat nothing but The Good Foods for a stretch, and those tend to be processed and high in calories.

I use this app to make sure that I’m keeping up with calorie requirements, and my body weight remains static. Also, having a list of foods I have ate/am eating makes me more mindful of my choices. Eating nothing but melted Ben and Jerry’s for two days doesn’t feel like such a great idea when you have documentation of it.

It has a barcode scanner, so you can enter calorie/serving sizes rather thoughtlessly by just taking a picture, essentially. If you’re entering stuff in manually, it gets a little tricky. If you’re creating a new entry, you have to already know the calories of what you’re eating. You can also pick from existing entries that are reasonably similar to what you are eating, but there is no guarantee it’s an exact match.