Jumping on the Weighted Blanket Bandwagon

If it is one thing I have trouble with just about more than anything else it’s sleeping. I can’t sleep for love or money. I’ve lived off of diphenhydramine pills for about the last 2 years or so to help conk me out. I just can’t quiet my anxious, depressed, autistic mind enough to ever fall asleep on my own and it fucking sucks.

Trying to avoid the long-term effects of habitual diphenhydramine use, I got desperate for another option and preferably a non-pharmaceutical one. Taking sleeping pills for an extended period of time can’t possibly be healthy long-term.

Of course, one thing I can’t ever sleep without is a blanket. Even in the dog days of summer I have to have a blanket (I just keep my house cool at night). In light of that, and with the success that Laina said she had with her weighted blanket, I thought there might be something to it. I crawled under hers for a few minutes while visiting and it was so soothing.

So yeah, here we go. I went over to Weight on Me to order my own weighted blanket just to see if it helps. They have all sorts of fun colors and styles to choose from to suit your personal taste. It’ll be a couple of weeks until I take delivery (very rarely do they have pre-made blankets) but again, anything to help me sleep at night I’m willing to try. I’m sick of dragging come midday everyday.

So I guess we shall see. One of two things will happen. Either this will help me sleep or it’ll be a waste of $200. The jury is out but again, I’m willing to try anything at this point. We shall see I guess.

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I’ll Spread My Wings and I’ll Learn How to Fly…

In the final post of this series (and likely also the shortest), this refernce is another one you practically had to be living under a rock to miss the reference. Well, maybe not as blatantly as you would have had to with “Complicated” but maybe it’s obvious to me because this last one was almost our high school class song (it lost out to some stupid-ass country song called “Young” – I was disappointed).

So I’ve decided to embrace my quirks and so-called “flaws,” decided to un-complicate things and decided to live life I never have. So what do I have to in order to do that?

That’s an easy one: I need to spread my wings and learn how to fly. I need to do what it takes to touch the sky. I need to make a wish, take a chance, make a change and breakway from this prison that I call Crapilene. When I moved to DFWTF, I thought my heart was calling me back to Abilene and maybe it was in the interim, but that was just a safety net. I realize I was just falling victim to Stockholm syndrome, aggravated by the excessive misery heaped upon me by the toxic culture of “The Met” (and anyone who has lived there knows DFWTF will absolutely suck your soul).

With starting a new business comes a huge risk. Oh it’s a risk. I’ve done some scary shit in the past, but that’s probably the scariest thing anyone could ever do. Alas, with big risk also comes the potential for big reward. My business model will never make me rich, and I mean never. If I were to be honest with myself I’d be making considerably less money than I am now, even being in a city that’s all but ideal for my business concept (which SA is while Abilene is not in any way). A high end cigar & spirits bar is a labor of love all the way.

Alas, there is one thing I’ve come to realize: getting rich is life’s biggest booby prize. Living where I do (not actually in Abilene, but in a farming community just outside) I’m actually considered high income for my area even though I don’t bank. Alas I have next-to-no living expenses in my current arrangement. I’m living almost like someone who really makes half again what I make in my salaried 7-4 job. I used to think all I needed was money and I’d be happy (particularly when I went through a long stretch of unemployment), but now that I have some money in the bank and am still as miserable as ever, I realize how wrong that notion was. Of course, it’d be nice to be both happy and rich but I think every person on this fucking planet would pick happiness over riches if they were forced to pick between one or the other. You’d have to be a real idiot not to (or maybe a masochist).

Of course, the added benefit of being in SA would be to be close to my beloved neuro-sister. While it might be the icing on the cake, it’s a very, very thick layer of icing – maybe even thicker than the cake itself. Someone who I see as potential partner in this business endeavor (but who would also be the toughest one to convince to come with me) actually seems to sympathize and suggested we might be twin souls. Maybe that explains the pain I’m feeling as I write this – maybe it’s like a magnet that’s pulling on my body so hard that it’s creating pain beause my body can’t move with the pull.

Of course, that’s not to downplay saying goodbye to the ones here. Of course I love my parents, and while they would be sad to see me go, they’re even sadder that I feel so bad. I’ve not yet divulged to them why I feel this bad, but they know. They just know, and I’m sure they’d be 100% supportive of me when this comes to fruition. I’ll be back to visit of course. Abilene to SA is only about 250 miles after all, and after I’ve gotten this far in my tattoo journey almost exclusively as one artist’s canvas (and soon to be just one artist’s when I have her re-work the one done by someone else that healed like complete shit) so I’ll have to come back to add to my tattoo collection, unless she decides to break away herself and open a shop in SA that is. 😉

And yes, you read that right – it’s not “if,” it’s “when” – it’s in the stars – not only am I a tropical (false) Pisces I’m also a sidereal (true) Pisces and self-employment is in my DNA according to the true system and after exploring sidereal astrology with Laina I am a firm believer in it – hence my calling this whole thing a spiritual awakening. I’m not saying I make my every move based on it, but it’s amazingly and bizarrely accurate.

My purpose isn’t to sit in an office all day. My purpose is to do cool shit with cool people. While cranes are cool machines, the career/industry surrounding it is anything but. It’s just as soul-sucking as any other corporate job. Nah, I have to transcend. I have no choice. If I don’t, well then I might as well just commit suicide because by not I’ll be doing nothing but prolonging needless suffering and I absolutely refuse to subject the ones I love to the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. I just can’t do it. Why do you think I’m so glad my attempt four years ago failed, against all odds.

Breaking away is the final step in my personal transformation, which has been a process and now it’s entering its final stages. Of course, the process started on January 2nd, 2016 when that seemingly small blue mark was permanently etched into the dermis of my posterior inner right wrist reminding me that my story wasn’t over yet. Who knew something so small, so profound would have such life-changing consequences? What are the odds.

It’s not coincidence. It’s destiny.

Well, so much for being the shortest post of the series. It turned out to be the longest. Oops. I guess the words just flow sometimes. But that’s OK. I’ll say what needs to be said regardless of word count. Hope you enjoyed the song if anything else.

That concludes this series. I know I’ll have my haters, but you need not comment. I have no time for that. If you dare to hate on any of these posts by the time this one goes up (note: the series were pre-written on the same day and set to post in succeeding days) you will be automatically blacklisted. I don’t need anyone raining on my parade. You’re either with me or you’re not and if you’re not fuck off and unfollow me. Thank you.

What Am I Gonna Do? What Am I Gonna Do To Feel Like Freedom’s Mine?

This third installment in a series of four posts might have a little more crypitc lyric reference title so I might as well just tell you where it comes from. Those of you who follow Indie Rock might know of a guy named Dustin Burnett, who goes by the stage name Zayde Wolf. The title is the first pre-chorus in his brilliant song “Live Life” and don’t worry, if you haven’t ever heard it (a lot of my followers have because I’ve featured it on SLS twice when that was still a thing), I of course will share the video at the end of this post.

So where did I first encounter this song? It was in 2016 on Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars when NTT (then Verizon) IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe (#5 SPM Honda) did a foxtrot routine to this song with his professional partner Sharna Burgess  on premiere night. It was a truly fitting song for him too – the year prior he had an accident that would have killed any of the rest of us but he was in such great shape he survived an accident no random Joe Blow would have survied.

Alas, sometimes it does take something tragic to realize how much we take this life for granted. We also don’t realize with our everyday mundane boring jobs just how quickly our lives are passing us by, and we don’t realize how much of our precious time we are just absolutely wasting bending over backwards for people who couldn’t give two ducking ducks (ahem, I mean fucking fucks – damn you Autocorrect!) about us (here’s looking at our bosses) and wouldn’t shed a tear if we suddenly dropped dead. Don’t lie to yourself – you know they couldn’t give a shit about you as a person. All they care about is what you do to line their pocket books while paying you a disproportionately small salary in exchange for the amount of revenue you’re bringing in.

Alas, that’s what corporatism/crony capitalism in the US has boiled us all down to. Again, we’re being forced to sacrifice our own happiness and utility to fit the mold. It’s painful for all people, neurotypical or otherwise, but even more painful for us neurodivergents because these environments are completely and totally toxic to our well-being. That masking I talked about yesterday? Yeah, we HAVE to do it to retain our jobs most of the time, and if we don’t it’s a case of see ya later. Well that certainly explains our much-higher-than-average unemployment rate right?

At the end of the day, very few, if any, of us are truly made to sit in offices all day. We were made to do cool shit with cool people. So what are we gonna do, what are we gonna do to feel like freedom is ours? Well, it’s time to break the mold and live life like we never have and live life through the good and bad! Not only do we need to be ourselves and quit masking, there’s no better time than now to take that chance, do something that the spiritually dead would call crazy (I use the term as this almost feels like a spiritual awakening).

Is it really crazy though? I don’t think so. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. Maybe those of us who get out there and live life like we never have aren’t the crazy ones. Maybe we’re the sane ones after all. Again, down with society’s arbitrary social norms and expectations. Their bullshit expectations are why so many people are on fucking antidepressants and shit these days (I truly believe this – again thanks to corporatism/crony capitalism).

Alas, I think I know what I have to do now, and that will be the topic of the fourth and final post in this series to come tomorrow. As for today, I’ll leave you with this bold and powerful song. Hope you enjoy.

I See the Way I’m Acting Like I’m Somebody Else Gets Me (And You?!) Frustrated

OK, if you don’t get that song reference you must be living under a fucking rock because when that song first came out they overplayed it on the radio, so much I hated the song and screamed every time it would come on the radio.

As such, I never really listened to the words that closely, save for its instantly recognizable catchphrase “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?” Actually, when you get down to the barebones it’s a very well written and composed song – it’s a lovely use of relative minor/major (and going between the two seamlessly) and the message is very deep and profound, and is why I’ve chosen this song for the 2nd installment of my song lyric inspired posts because again, it hits home and especially during this transitional phase of my life.

Those who knew me even as a kid knew I tried my damnedest to fit the mold, to be “normal” (What the fuck is normal anyway? Who decides that?). This both before and after I was officially diagnosed with ASD (AS at the time, but that diagnosis is gone of course). Shit, even as much as I love my parents, they often wondered why I couldn’t be normal. The only one who accepted me as is was my great-grandmother.

Anyway, the whole point of this is it’s so tempting to try to be someone you’re not in order to fit in, and especially for us neurodivergents. Humans are social animals after all (make no mistake, we ARE animals) and have a need to fit in. Usually that means trying to be how whatever society we live in deems “normal” through either established social norms, laws or whatever the hell else.

Of course, when we ND’s try to act normal and to fit in, what happens? Do we wind up fitting in? Oh hell to the naw. We usually end up looking like total fools, and especially to our loved ones (well, the more open-minded ones anyway). I mean, can you seriously see me wearing cargo shorts and/or full length jeans, still a blank canvas, no piercings, drinking Miller Light and whatever the hell else normal (or, as I prefer to think of them, boring) people do? Yeah, didn’t think so. Would you want me to fit that mold above? Again, if you truly “love” me (in whatever form that love might be), would you want me to? Proabably not because then I’m someone I’m not and why would you love an alternate me?

Nah, I’m not fooling anyone when I become somebody else around everyone else. They all know I (also, anyone else who masks) am not who I am presenting myself to be. And you know what? Not only that it’s fucking tiring to pretend to be someone else around everyone else. It wears on your soul. I didn’t realize that until I started allowing the true me to really shine through.

And who knows? Maybe all the tears I’ve shed this week (and continue to shed) are that unrequited pain exiting my mind, body and soul. That’s OK, because it’s ready to be released, because I had a defective pressure release valve that didn’t allow it to be released. Now that I’ve replaced it with a properly functioning one, it’s working better and it’s working very efficiently too because with each tear I feel a little lighter, a little less heavy, a little less troubled.

So what happens next? Stay tuned to find out tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy the song and really pay attention to the lyrics if you’ve never done so before. You might just find she’s singing to you too (as it seemed she was me).

All My Quirks, and All My Flaws…

beautiful
A sticker on the side of the tip jar at The Cove, which was our lunch spot Tuesday. I thought it was fitting so I took a pic of it.

First off, please tell me at least one of you out there recognizes the reference? I definitely know one of my followers does, (because she and I sang this song together Tuesday evening) but if not I’ll include the song at the end of the post because it’s so fucking powerful, even though the power can sneak up on you, as it did for me.

Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar, the song referenced above is “Imperfectly Beautiful” by Stacey Ruttledge and Louise Bernadette Dowd. I remember hearing the song sometime in 2014 and 2015. I don’t remember exactly when or where I heard it (I would assume Facebook as I easily spent 10-12 hours on FB every day during that time I was unemployed).

Needless to say the first time I heard that song I was in a very dark place in my life, so dark I thought to myself “what a load of Pollyanna bullshit.” This was the time I thought I was broken, unworthy, weird, etc. among other things that the neurotypical world tries to make us neurodiverse folk feel. I’m sure all of us have been there, done that right? You know how it is.

I think, though, while I was listening to the song the first time and was thinking “what a load of shit,” subconsciously I was soaking the lyrics up like a sponge. Kind of like my inner psyche was saying “you might think this song is a load of shit now, but I’m storing these words here and they will resurface at such a time you are able to understand them.”

Fastfoward then to the evening of Tuesday, March 26th 2019. Laina and I had wanted to go sing some karaoke but the only venue we found was 1) seemingly closed even when their advertised hours said they were open and 2) had all these stupid, uppity rules posted (including “appropriate attire” – I was sure I’d get bounced on account of my signature Dukes because it’s happened to me before). Who’s got time for that shit? Nah, let’s just head back to her home office and jam instead.

So we did just that (we had a much broader selection of music at her home office anyway). So we did just that, me with some guitar stuff and/or just singing along to her collection (not to toot our own horn, but our voices work so well together – being a bass/baritone myself to her true contralto range). And then she pulled up the referenced song.

She said it was like a “theme song” for us neurodivergent people (not just ASD, but a variety of other non-typical neurotypes). Despite having only heard it once before, and several years prior, once it began playing I immediately, and I mean immediately, recognized it. Not only did I recognize it, I was able to sing it from memory (well, 90%+ of it anyway – with the occasional cheat sheet glance).

In addition to all that, it hit me SO. FUCKING. HARD. Like a sack of bricks. I broke down and bawled (but I kept singing along anyway even through the tears because I felt moved to do so, as Laina pulled me into a warm cuddle and we rested our temples against each other as we both continued to sing).

That evening was the right time for the song to resurface for me, for I was now at that point of being ready to start that journey toward self-acceptance and realizing that there’s nothing wrong with me at all. Those of you who were with me and followed my blog in the very early days remember I was very anti-neurodiversity. I did see myself as broken and in need of “fixing.” Thanks to the support of many of you (including and especially you, Laina!), I now see that I am just fine the way I am. Quirks (and lord knows I have many and not just my fashion sense), flaws (we all have them but are some things the world considers flaws really such?), etc. aside. If the world has a problem with that, it is the world that needs to change, not me.

I am imperfectly beautiful. And I will be my own version of beautiful, no matter what anyone else thinks. I will own that shit. I will not stand to be the bird trapped in the cage any more. For everyone else? They will either accept and love me for my face value or they can fuck right off, because I am done, and I repeat, DONE pretending to be someone I’m not (next post in a string of song lyric tie ins about that!).

And for the song. Note there is one transcription error in the lyric video – “lust” (WTF?) is actually supposed to be “love” (now that’s better – the two are not the same and love takes many forms, not just romantic). Warning: you might want to have a tissue handy.

I Left My Heart in San Antonio…

It’s been about an hour and a half since I arrived back at my humble abode on the outskirts of good old Crapilene (yeah, I’ll tell you how I really feel!).

I’ve always felt a little bit of sadness after parting ways with a friend when I’m visiting them, but this time it was something much more deep and profound – it was almost a grief-like sadness. I barely held it together while Laina and I said our goodbyes and I pulled out of her driveway, but the four-hour trek back to Abilene was filled with several crying spells (one so intense I almost had to pull over to collect myself as it could have compromised my driving safety).  When I arrived home and walked in, I didn’t feel a “good to be home” feeling. All I felt was a sense of emptiness, a void as it were.

I think the signs are very, very clear – Abilene is not my home. My home is in San Antonio, where I can be close to my neuro-sister (love the term, by the way!) all the time. A place where I can launch Leaf & Barrel (that I’ve talked about before) with my gang and that would be a prime city for it (Abilene would NOT support such a concept).

The past few days were surreal. Some of the best of my life. It was so nice to be able to hang out with someone who does understand me and why I am the way I am. Someone who loves to be hugged and cuddled – even in just a “LYLAB/S” way and nothing romantic or sexual at all. someone who I can cry to for any time and any reason judgment-free. Someone who I can jam with and sing karaoke with in a judgment-free environment. Someone who doesn’t bat an eye at my warped sense of fashion. Someone who I can laugh at weird shit with and get into belching and throat-clearing contests with because we are both easily entertained by such silliness. Someone who is now as passionate about IndyCar racing as I am and who I can actually talk about that with.

I think it’s safe to say a move to San Antonio is definitely in my future. Just when I don’t know, but it’s there. I think this feeling that has overcome me is the universe telling me it’s time for a change, and a big one at that. My life isn’t about being stuck in a 7-4 job, doing dull, mundane tasks with dull, mundane coworkers under the thumb of an asshole of a boss. My life is about doing cool shit with cool people (her words, not mine).

This is of course not an overnight thing. This is going to be at least a months-long process. I have my crew here who I need to get on board with me to make this a reality. We’ve talked about opening a bar together in passing but I think for all of our sakes we need to make this a reality. All of us are not the type of people for Abilene. One of them has a strange attachment to Abilene that is going to be the one I might really have to work over, but the other two might not be so hard (they nearly moved to what Laina and I so (un)affectionately call “DFWTF” due to fatigue of this podunk backwoods hillbilly redneck town).

Now, if after several attempts they don’t come with me, being able to close to them might be a sacrifice I have to make. Sure, I love them to bits, but I’m tired of being held back. If it comes to a point of either you’re with me or you’re not, and they’re not, I might have to leave them behind. I will not stand to be held hostage by anyone, not even my best friends, especially when it’s resulting in me settling for a miserable job and being away from the person who understands me the most. Of course my parents would be somewhat sad to see me go but they’re equally saddened by how miserable I am right now and would rather see me move away and be happy. Same with my tattoo artist, but I’ve become her canvas so I can come back any time to see her and get a new tattoo and see my family in the process. San Antonio to Abilene is only about 250 miles after all.

Well, as the saying goes, “here goes nothing” I guess. Wish me luck as I try to make this a reality. It might be tough, and starting a business is scary as fuck, but it’s clear to me now that it’s a risk I have to take for my own sake. The time has come. And to think none of this would have been possible (meeting someone who feels like a long-lost sibling, placing two kittens in the right home, finding my racing buddy, cuddle buddy, music partner, etc.) without one medical report that led to the start of her blog and nothing more than a small blue mark on my inner right wrist that led to the start of this blog. We’d have never known of each other if not for this wonderful blogging community.

Just goes to show how life-changing one small decision can be, can’t it?

Ink As Therapy

Right on schedule, the Saniderm was ready to come off of my new tattoo and it has now entered the peeling phase, which will last about another week or so. From there I’ll have a finished tattoo that’s ready to show off.

Alas, as any ink enthusiast, ideas have already been swirling in my head for my next one and I think I have a rough concept of what I’ll be getting next. I’ll need to play around with certain design elements but as a matter of “balance” I’ll likely choose placement on the other side in the same spot (since I am all about balance and symmetry – it’s the mathematician/engineer in me). The only one I’ve not yet balanced out is my rib panel but I’m in absolutely no hurry to have my other ribs tattooed – that was a pain unlike anything I’d ever felt before.

Anyway, I digress. Obviously I’ve done the whole gamut for “therapy” – some of it forced upon me by those who also forced existence upon me, some of it voluntarily. I’ve done the whole counseling, behavioral modification and even antidepressant/antipsychotic medications. Nothing ever worked. Nothing was able to quiet my tortured mind. I guess that’s a challenging element of autism – it seems a lot of traditional treatment methods don’t work on us. Maybe this further signifies that autism should not be classified as an illness or disorder? That’s something to chew on for a later time.

Back to the topic at hand. Ink as therapy. Tattoo enthusiasts throw around the term “ink therapy” all the time. Alas, as weird as it sounds, there might be some truth to that statement. As I’ve eluded to it in previous posts, but for me, being in the hot seat is when I’m most at peace. For me, when Jade is working her magic on my human canvas is the only time my mind is ever “quiet” as it were. All the rest of the time it’s racing, typical of those in my tribe. I even have trouble sleeping due to it. Sleep? Hah, what the fuck is that?

With as much negative stigma as there still is around tattoos, the benefits I’ve reaped from my favorite hobby have been incredible. I feel like my overall pain tolerance has improved (day-to-day bumps and scrapes aren’t as bothersome to me as they used to be) and maybe I’ve even gotten an immune boost because I don’t get sick like I used to. There are studies suggesting such too.

In that light, ink has been the one thing that has been able to do what counseling, drugs, etc. were all unable to do. It centers me. It’s meditative. It makes me feel “good.” Shit, as they seem to be the only form of “treatment” that works for me it seems to me my health insurance should fucking pay for my ink. It’s better “medicine” than any of the poison that criminal enterprise known as Big Pharma peddles as such.

I’ve found something that works for me, so at the very least that should be respected and tolerated. Whether or not you even like my tattoos is of no never mind to me (art is subjective after all – a masterpiece to person A could be butt-ugly to person B) as I’ve now transcended past tattoos solely for meaning to the point of just getting them because they look cool and feel good. Call that hedonistic as it were, I admit it is. I’m not hurting myself or anyone else in the process so I fail to see where that’s a problem.

Stay cool and ink it up!