A Sunday for the Record Books

First things first, a big, hearty congratulations to Simon Pagenaud, champion of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. He qualified pole and brought it home in a very exciting fashion. He earned it heartily and I tip my hat to him.

Second, wow, what a Sunday. Laina and her best friend since grade school graced us with their presence for a totally gluten-free cookout and an outdoor viewing of the greatest race on earth. We had fun, a ton of fun, great food (it’s amazing at how great GF food can be!), hard cider. It was a total blast – it’s always fun watching racing with her; virtually is fun but in person is so much more fun.

Anyway, as much fun as that was, I did have one major ulterior motive for bringing her out here, one which she gladly obliged. As an owner of multiple small businesses in the past, I really wanted her here when I had “the talk” with my family so she could offer her perspective on my next major life transition. I had a feeling they’d listen to her better than they would me. Whereas I’d been dropping not-so-subtle hints and references all day, the time came after the race and after dinner to have the talk.

We excused ourselves to my bedroom for some “private conversation” in which we discussed how I should approach the topic (and maybe a few other things). We emerged from my bedroom, sat down side-by-side, holding hands, and I started the comversation.

I can honestly say my parents saw it coming. They could see it in me months ago. They knew what was I was about to say as though I had already said it, but much to my surprise they seem very supportive since 1) I have a plan of action in the works and 2) I’m not going into this blind. They know this is something I *WANT* to do. This time, I won’t be moving because I have to, but because I want to. There’s a totally different vibe to that when one’s heart is actually in it. Cranes aren’t my passion. My passions lie elsewhere.

Of course Laina offered her perspective from having done this herself, to help put out some of the fires that I knew would start during this conversation. This is why I wanted her with me when I had this talk so she could help me put these out, which she was a very effective firefighter through it all.

Being a “corporate slave” (my mom balked at the term but that’s what it feels like to me) is a toxic environment for those of us on the autism spectrum. It just is. If I keep doing what I’m doing now for the next 10+ years I’m going to go insane. That’s just a fact. I’m too “different” and free-spirited to do be just a slave surveillance (insert loud, raucous “throat monster” here) I mean social security number drawing a paycheck for doing mind-numbing tasks day in and day out with people I absolutely despise.

Needless to say I feel better – much better – now that everything is out in the open and I have my family’s blessing in this endeavor. I’m sure they’ll miss me, as well as my Abilene friends when I do take that step to “go home” and start putting my plan into action, but I’m sure they’d rather see me happy, even if someone else, than cooped up in hillbilly hell (which is exactly what Abilene is) doing corporate work for the rest of my life.

All in all, a great day. One of the best in recent memory for me. I can sleep more easily at night now with everything out in the open and knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a very real future for me in which I can not only survive, but thrive. It’s a totally different feeling for sure, and a total relief.

Thanks again, Laina. Couldn’t have done it without you. Really. I am in your debt.

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The “G” Word…

…and I don’t mean “gay” either. I mean another one, and one that might be the mystery as to why I am totally unresponsive to antidepressant medication despite fitting the description of clinical depression. A word that is, in the eyes of many alternative/naturopathic medicine practitioners as well as some MDs, “the root of much evil.” A word that almost took away the budding opportunity in front of me.

Gluten.

Given my medical history, a more than casual correlation between neurodivergence and gluten reactivity, and certain parallels I’ve drawn in a story similar to mine, here I am faced with a painful reality. I now realize there is a very real possibility that I am gluten reactive. Of course it’s not a certainty and won’t be unless I have a full diagnostic performed, but given my family history of autoimmune disease (my biological father having been diagnosed as Grave’s but possibly was something else, and my mother having some unknown but definite autoimmune disease) and what presents as clinical depression in myself, there is a consistency there that is impossible to overlook.

Obviously this is a real shakeup of my life story and one I had never considered before as I have absolutely no GI-related symptoms with consuming gluten (though maybe my chronic piles are aggravated by it?) and I obviously do consume a fair amount.

Which brings me to why I am just down in the dumps about it all and I’ve been crying sporadically throughout the day. You know I LOOOOOOVE beer and whisk(e)y. Beer is obvious as gluten is found in abundance in barley, wheat and oats (the first of which is a common ingredient in all beer and the latter two in many styles of beer), and though distilled, whisk(e)y is debatable and there is no consensus as to whether or not it contains gluten. I also love artisan pizza, especially from a local place here in Abilene.

As such, facing the possibility of being gluten reactive depresses the shit out of me. If it turns out I am gluten reactive, all of the above has to go away, lest I face a future where I have no quality of life and suicide/euthanasia would definitely be preferable. As depressing as the thought of having to go gluten free is, the alternative is even scarier and more depressing – loss of motor function, coordination, life bound to a wheelchair. I definitely don’t want to go there.

Given this information, I’ve decided I have no choice. I have to be screened for gluten reactivity. I have to know so I don’t inadvertently fuck myself up 10-20 years from now.

So why now, of all times? Well I’m now at a point where I am receptive to making changes if I have to. Up until now my thinking on these matters (including not only gluten but getting trashed every night, diabetes, etc.) was the same – I’m unwilling to change and give up enjoyment (read: escape from pain) in exchange for better health. My attitude was “if it kills me then so be it.” You know, the same excuse heavy cigarette smokers use to justify refusing to attempt to quit (I know I sound like a hypocrite using that analogy but cigars are indeed different in how the tobacco is cured and the product is made and consumed).

So am I or aren’t I gluten reactive? For now that remains an unknown and will until I can put the immediate fires that are in front of me out because god(dess) knows that will start a whole other set of fires. I’m already finding out what a major pain in the ass being gluten free is as I am having to prepare a gluten free feast for my Indianapolis 500 viewing party Sunday to accommodate two gluten reactive guests. It won’t kill me not to have gluten after all so I’m totally accommodating.

Alas, I guess I’ll cross that bridge if it is in my path. I just don’t know how I’ll deal. There will be a years-long grieving process if I have to cut gluten, but I know it won’t be the end of the world. Plus I have the best support system I could ask for if it does transpire that I have to.

In the meantime, I’ll just do some pre-grieving so maybe I’ll have less of that to do later, so excuse me while I go cry some more.

The Scratched Out Face…

So it’s been but a day since I’ve had my new tattoo. For those who missed the post, here it is:

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The question I’ve gotten from a few people is who is that person in the picture frame? Whose face is marked out of that picture? Some have speculated it’s an ex-lover, an ex-friend or something of the sort. Truth be told when Jade first drew it up I didn’t quite know either (note: this was an element in the original concept drawing she did with the hourglass and scroll, but it didn’t fit on my left side). I just knew it spoke to me in some way and asked her to add the element back in for this piece. Well today, in my daily BSing and virtual cuddling with my beloved neuro-sister Laina, I figured it out.

So who is this person? I can’t speak for Jade and her vision in the original drawing. That said, as I’m the one wearing the tattoo, it’s up to me to define, so here’s your answer: that person is *ME*.

Now hold on a second, why would I scratch my own face out? It’s easy really: I’m not the same person I was a few years ago. Hell, I’m not the same person I was two months ago. In that light, the scratched out face represents the old me. The me who dealt with my pain in very unhealthy ways (of which I will not go into detail here). The old me who was judgmental of others. The old me who hated the mere concept of neurodiversity and got so angry with my fellow autism spectrumites who said “I don’t want a cure.” The old me who thought I was sick, broken, and a freak of nature. The old me who thought I was doomed for failure from the day I was born.

In short: the picture represents the me I don’t ever want to revert back to.

I’ll keep that picture as a reminder of where I’ve been and where I don’t want to return. The picture stays there on my desk (or, in this case, in my dermis) reminding me not to look into the past, but to the future instead.

Moving forward is not about forgetting my past. It’s about processing it and moving on from it. It’s about becoming the truly best version of me I can be. Placement wise, it’s almost in direct line with my semicolon – my very first tattoo as a symbol that I’m still here. Whether or not that was a conscious thing for Jade when she stenciled it on I don’t know, but to me it ties that in. After all, my first tattoo is what set all this in motion anyway – launching this blog, which led to me crossing paths with so many of you, and for Laina and I to eventually meet in person. My ink journey started my transformation, but that was only the beginning. My trip to San Antonio at the end of March was a bigger step – being in the presence of the person I now believe is my “twin soul” who helped me realize my own worth as I am.

I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Nothing worth it is easy after all, now is it? Alas, this is the start of better things ahead.

And that, my friends, is the story behind the scratched out face.

Burger King’s “Real Meals” – My Take

Perhaps some of my followers have heard of Burger King’s new “Real Meals” – kind of like a counter to McDonald’s “Happy Meals,” but for a much older, more mature and dare I say more “real” audience. They come in different varietals, including the “Salty” Meal, “Pissed” Meal, “Blue” Meal, and my personal favorite – the “DGAF” Meal. They will feature a Whopper, fries and drink and will be available at select locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Austin, Seattle and Miami.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself!


Photo Credit: Burger King Official Facebook Page.

Now, some might find this highly offensive, pessimistic, among other things. I, for one, think it’s absolutely brilliant marketing.

See, here’s the thing – I’m all about being real. I’m all about being true to our deepest inner feelings and expressing those, societal stigma be damned. I refuse to feign happiness just to placate someone, and so should you. Feigning happiness and sweeping your troubles under the rug will just come back to bite you in the ass later. Trust me, I know that one from experience. It’s OK to be salty. It’s OK to be blue and it’s OK not to give a fuck. We’ve all felt that way, whether we want to admit it or not. Maybe this will give us a humorous take on the topic and make it easier for us to express how we feel, for this is how we will beat the stigma against mental health.

So yes, I will “feel my way” and I will be unapologetic about it. If I’m pissed I’ll express it. If I’m sad I’ll express it, and if I just don’t give a fuck I will tell it to your face. I enourage all of you to do the same, and if anyone tells you to smile when you don’t fucking want to, I say tell them where to shove it! It’s fucking insulting when people say that, and they need to cut that shit out.

That’s just my take on the topic. What say you?

Weighted Blanket – The (Shocking) Results

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So I said I would report back in approximately two weeks in regards to my weighted blanket and how well it’s working for me, but I’m writing this post after just six days because the results are truly shocking and instantaneous.

The first night after I got my blanket I had to be up at 5:00 AM for my Friday half-day in office (note: my current office schedule is currently full-day Monday, half-day Friday and home otherwise) so I didn’t dare take a chance at a sleepless night and downed my usual 50mg diphenhydramine liquid gel, but since then I have not taken one. Have I needed it? Absolutely NOT.

I have slept just as well with my weighted blanket as I ever did on diphenhydramine, and without the night sweats and next-morning grogginess. Luckily the blanket breathes and radiates body heat away from you so it won’t overheat you (this was my big concern as I sleep hot – I’m a Pitta by nature; the “Davy” Dukes serve another purpose than just vanity after all) and the effects it has are immediately calming and quiet my IndyCar-paced mind almost immediately. I drift off to sleep quicker than it would take diphenhydramine to kick in, and naturally.

Now, do I sleep perfectly? Of course not. As has been my sleep pattern for years (even before diphenhydramine), I sleep for 3-4 hours and wake around 2 AM +/- 10 minutes like clockwork, stay awake for a brief period, then nod back off for another 3 hours give or take. It’s what I’ve always done since I was a kid and I don’t expect that pattern to ever change. Alas, being able to achieve my natural sleep pattern again after years of not being able to sleep for shit is absolutely incredible.

Of course, I can’t help but wonder how much of the change is due to my sister from another mister (is that even a term?) virtual cuddling me to sleep every night (a ritual we recently started). Maybe something to figure in, but I imagine it isn’t a huge player. I still appreciate her kindness in that realm though. I will say even she noticed an instant change in how quickly I nod off at night though, so it’s probably a small factor at absolute most.

Now, all that’s fine and good, but how does it actually feel draped over you? I’m sure that’s the question you all are wondering. Does it actually feel heavy or like a lot of weight is pressing down on you? The answer is NO. It does not weigh you down really. It’s a gentle weight – almost like you’re wearing a hug all night. It’s just enough weight/pressure for the secure and calming effect but nowhere near enough to feel like you’re being crushed or suffocated (that is, assuming you get the correct weight for your size – 10% of your body weight plus one pound or half a kg, whichever system you use). To me, it’s just enough for the feeling of “security” without being too much.

Are there some for whom the weighted blanket wouldn’t be a good option? I imagine so, especially if you tend to shift positions frequently. Note that weighted blankets are not meant to fill the size of the bed. They are meant to distribute gentle yet constant pressure over the body. As such, a twin size is the right size for one person, regardless of the size of your bed. Frequent shifting around might cause the blanket to not cover your body entirely at some point. Another is if you just don’t like sleeping with a blanket in general – this will not solve that issue. Other than that, I don’t see many drawbacks to it.

Anyway, I write this to say I’m amazed at how well it’s worked for me. I swore I would have to gradually wean/taper off of the diphenhydramine but that has not been the case. Even though conventional medicine has yet to embrace the concept, we know how that industry operates – if it ain’t pharmaceuticals it’s shit in their eyes. Anyway, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out Weight on Me weighted blankets at https://myweightedblanket.com/ to browse their various prints, styles and materials to find your perfect blanket. Shipping usually takes a few weeks, but trust me when I say the wait is well worth it to get the blanket custom tailored to your specific needs.

I truly am shocked. In a string of devastating blows, I’ve found something that actually works for me. Of course, I have my dear neuro-sister Laina to thank for this – she’s the one who recommended it to me. Thank you so very much, good doctor.

My Blanket Has Arrived!

Remember how I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I was pulling the trigger on a weighted blanket? Well it’s arrived!

Well there it is. Cool pattern huh? Matches my four pairs of space themed meggings beautifully.

Anyway, I’ll report back in a couple of weeks after I’ve slept under it for awhile but man, I crawled under it a few minutes ago and man it was instantly calming – my heart rate and BP dropped considerably as soon as I crawled under it.

So far I am impressed but the sleep test still remains. Hopefully it works as intended!

The Hopeless(ly Deprived) Power Cuddler

Would you make fun of me if I told you I still sleep cuddled up with a teddy bear at night? Yes, you say? Well go ahead and make fun of me because it’s true and I don’t deny it. Yes, I know sleeping with a teddy bear is so 1st grade, but when you have an autistic brain that runs 230 MPH at all times (you know, as fast as an IndyCar runs on the straightaways of Indianapolis Motor Speedway), getting to sleep is hard enough without being even more anxious so you do what you damn well have to in order to make it easier to fall asleep and stay that way.

Anyway, childish personal anecdote aside, time to get a bit serious here. The title of this post describes me to a tee. As I’ve eluded to in prior blog posts, I thoroughly love physical touch. I thrive on it. I’m a hugger, a kisser, a hand-holder, you name it. I’m what my “twin soul” affectionately calls a “power cuddler” – no holding back, all of the aforementioned stuff, playing with each other’s hair, ears, rubbing various (non-intimate) body parts up against one another, all up in your business, whatever. It’s just absolutely sublime to me.

I’m sure to someone on the outside looking in it appears to be totally smutty. To the bystander it might look a little like foreplay, but I assure you I completely separate cuddling from romance, sexual behavior or anything. I never understood why the neurotypical world associates these acts solely with sexual attraction. Love comes in many forms after all, not just romantic. If I cuddle up to you, it’s not anything creepy or sexual. It’s because in some way we share a close common bond (whatever that might entail) and it’s merely an outward expression of that bond, regardless of what type it is or who you are – I’ll “power cuddle” with people of any sex/gender, orientation, whatever.

Now, the descriptor in this post is “hopelessly deprived” for a reason – it seems very few people see this kind of thing as something to be shared between people who are otherwise just friends or family and as such I really don’t have anyone around here to engage in power cuddling with. I, of course, respect others’ boundaries and won’t just go up to and randomly put an arm around someone and pull them into close body contact with me. That’s not acceptable behavior in any way, shape or form. I get that. I also get that some people have various traumas in their past that would make such action conjure up memories of painful or traumatic experiences. I also get that. Alas, where all this does put me is in a place that is not conducive to my mental health – I get more anxious, snappy, irritable, depressed, etc. when I’m lacking that.

Living in a world that frowns upon physical affection, being one who loves it is tough. If only everyone else (and especially neurotypicals) understood the power of a good cuddle. It releases endorphins, dopamine, among other “feel good” hormones. It relieves stress, has a calming effect (especially on someone like me), among other things. In a lot of ways I feel sorry for people who frown upon it. Our lives are so much richer when we openly express our love for each other (again, whatever form that love might be in).

If we learned how to hug, kiss, cuddle, hold hands, etc. each other with no strings attached and completely divorced it from romance, think of how much kinder of a world we’d live in. Maybe we wouldn’t have so much hate, pent up rage, school shootings, among other bullshit that’s the reality of life in the modern world. Baby boomers and older love to complain about social media being the reason for it, but I question the validity of their claims. We were detached long before the invention of Facebook.

Alas, I’ve only met one other person on this planet who sees things the way I do, and seeing as how that person is hundreds of miles away, the best I can do is “virtual cuddling” this person whenever possible and just longing for the real thing. It’s better than nothing for sure, but every time we virtual cuddle, god I can’t help but wish it was the real deal. Hopefully someday soon the universe will bring us closer together, but until then, I remain the hopelessly deprived power cuddler.

Tear, sniffle, tear, sniffle, repeat ad nauseam…