Month 1 in the Books (Almost)

So I’m almost all the way through my first month in San Antonio. I’ve settled into my new place (which is very nice, I might add – small and cozy but nice enough for one person) and gotten into somewhat of a routine that feels right; still making some adjustments but almost settled nonetheless. I should be over the moon, right?

Eh, not really. After the “newness” has worn off I’ve returned to what I will call a baseline. Don’t get me wrong, the baseline I’ve returned to is a bit higher than what it was in Abilene. Overall it has been a good change, an “upgrade” as it were – but not as big of one as I had initially anticipated.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some very big improvements in my quality of life. Being closer to the one who means the most to me has been a godsend and no doubt I come to life when we hang out together. Alas, when we have to part for awhile (be it bedtime, work, etc.) it’s like I’m back to square one – we’re talking Abilene levels of misery (cue this timeless classic song)…

Don’t get me wrong, I realize we both have lives outside of each other. I’m under no illusion that has changed nor am I under any delusion that will ever change. I’m not a needy person at all – I’m more than capable of entertaining and taking care of myself. That said, there is a certain loneliness when we’re apart for a considerable amount of time, to the point it’s almost impossible for me to be happy in her absence.

So where does this leave me? Do I have bits of happiness in my life now? Absolutely. Is it an improvement? Yes, because I had absolutely no happiness in Abilene. It was constant misery. That said, I still don’t have true happiness or joy at my core.

This is leaving me wondering when, or if, that will ever happen for me. Was I meant to just be a miserable person for my entire life? Am I atoning for some major transgression in a past life (assuming past lives are a thing – something which we can only take on faith)? Or does it just come down to a true case of major depressive disorder? Do I need to go back on antidepressants? Is there some other root cause I’ve yet to uncover? No doubt I need a good detox – I probably have a very toxic load given the fact that my mother A) smoked while pregnant and B) worked in a dry cleaner while pregnant.

Let it be known the above rant is not to be construed as suicidal ideation. I have no intentions of taking my own life at this point in the game. Maybe once a few years have passed and I’m in a position to launch Leaf & Barrel things will really start looking up for me (of course, this is all a big “if” depending on what the FDA decides to do in regards to premium cigars and pipe tobacco).

In the meantime, I just have to fight through what appears to be an uphill battle. I mean, if I do bail out early, let’s consider the possible outcomes:

  1. Nothing. Oblivion. Man that would be nice, but am I really willing to gamble on a 33% chance? Right now I’m not inclined to.
  2. Reincarnation. Talk about even more misery next time around (shit, maybe I did commit suicide in my past life, assuming such a thing exists).
  3. Heaven/Hell. As I’m not an adherent to any of the 3 Abrahamic faiths (in fact I thoroughly despise all 3), and given the fact that all three pretty much teach that suicide is an automatic ticket to hell, well, that doesn’t bode well for me either does it?

Whatever the case, here I am questioning my place in this universe and what, if any, greater cause my pain and suffering could be going toward. I guess that will be revealed to me in the coming days, weeks, months or maybe years. I guess I’ll just ride the wave and see, but goddamn I just want a baseline of happiness.

Then again, I wonder how many people truly attain this. On a poll on debate.org about whether or not life was really worth living, 82% of respondents voted no!

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Now, I imagine the voters in this poll likely do not meet the statistical definition of a representative sample, but holy shit there sure seem to be a hell of a lot more miserable people than happy people in this world. One has to scratch one’s head at why this could be. I wouldn’t even venture a guess.

Well I guess I should shut up now. What should have been a brief status update turned into an almost 800 word diatribe. I guess I have a tendency to do that huh? Oh well. Until next time, folks!

Aspie/Autistic-Friendly LED Light Bulbs

First off, Happy Halloween to those who celebrate it. I hope you have a fun-filled day of costumes, candy and all that jazz!

Anyway, today’s topic is light bulbs. I know, boring right? In the days of being energy-conscious and “green” it seems we have a lot of choices for light bulbs. There are still those who insist on incandescent bulbs and are willing to pay the much larger electric bill associated with running those.

For those of us who are more energy conscious and on more of a shoestring budget that really isn’t an option, though. That said, for those of us on the autism spectrum, it seems many of the alternatives are just absolutely unpalatable – from the compact fluroescent lights (ugh!!!!), to piercing halogens and even a lot of the LED bulbs out there which have almost a bluish tint and are way too intense.

Well, when shopping for bulbs at the Lowe’s just up the road from our apartment complex, Laina and I stumbled across these in a display and decided they were just the ticket:

These GE Relax bulbs have a lovely soft white appearance – even softer than a soft white incandescent bulb! This A19 60W replacement bulb consumes just 8.5W and is a great option for anyone, but especially those on the autism spectrum. It will give you the light you need but without the irritating overstimulation.

I have outfitted my entire unit with these, from my living room lamps to the bathroom and closet light fixtures. My kitchen already has LED track lights but those aren’t horrid so I left those alone. The only thing they would not be an option for is totally enclosed fixtures as these are not rated for those. As with all of those types of fixtures, you’ll need to choose bulbs that are rated for them or remove the enclosure entirely (as I did with my closet fixture).

Anyway, I hope this helps somebody. Good luck!

Almost Two Weeks Straight Gluten-Free

Wow. Can you believe that? I’ve stayed gluten-free for almost two weeks now! I’ve still not gotten my Cyrex Array 3 back yet but it’s a matter of days now I would think.

Alas, I naturally ate gluten-free all during my vacation (having discovered many delicious options for both eating at home and eating out), including entrees, snacks and even desserts! As much as I was dreading it, I can honestly say the discovery has been a ton of fun! It’s a new way of eating but I don’t necessarily feel deprived.

As far as changes in how I feel? Holy shit! I no longer struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I’m up and revving straight away. I’m much less irritable. My clinical depression has lightened dramatically. I don’t feel like I’m about to crash come mid afternoon. I’ve also lost some weight without even trying. My “skinny” pair of DD’s? I can button them again! I don’t have them with me right now (as I loaned them out to someone else for the time being), but that was huge when I was able to.

Does the work day still suck? Oh yes. I still hate the shit out of my job (which yesterday marked four years in the crane and rigging industry for me). I’ll still leave that toxic industry behind sometime (trust me fellow Aspies/Autists – you do NOT want to work in the crane and rigging industry), but I’m not as edgy as I was before.

Further leading credence to the gluten reactivity theory is a physical exam of my tongue. I had a large, jagged fissure in my tongue prior to cutting gluten out. I always thought nothing of it, but apparently it’s a sign of food reaction (according to a certain Functional Medicine practitioner I know ;-)).

Right now my biggest challenge staying gluten-free is a family that does not practice the lifestyle. I’m having to do my own thing and for now actually hide it from them, because I don’t want them thinking I’m a hypochondriac as they have in times past (such as my own Asperger’s self-discovery and when started having heart problems about 10 years ago, which was later shown to be WPW). Rather, I will wait until I get the test results back to disclose so I have some scientific backing for my lifestyle change.

Anyway, just some random observations. I know with 99.9% confidence now that I am reactive to gluten. What form that takes will be seen soon (I’m hoping Non-Celiac as that’s easier to manage). All I know is I feel loads better following a gluten-free diet.

So that’s where I’m at now. I’m anxiously awaiting the test results, but noting the marked changes in how I feel, for now I’m sticking with being gluten-free.

Being An “F” Sucks…

No, I don’t mean a failure, though that would suck too. I mean a feeler, as in the Thinking/Feeling spectrum of the Myers-Briggs personality types. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I am an INFJ (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling Judging). To be fair, the F is the least strong of the four dichotomies in my case (it’s about 55/45) but it remains that I am more feeling than thinking, and that feeling side of me has gotten me into trouble more than once.

The most recent manifestation of that trouble? The car situation. I had my scope narrowed down to two candidates, both of which had a six-speed manual transmission (my biggest personal requirement in a vehicle).

Candidate A: 2017 Honda Fit, 4K miles, $14,500.
Candidate B: 2013 VW Jetta GLI, 47K miles, $12,500.

Any thinking person would have opted for Candidate A, hands down. Newer, fewer miles, better fuel efficiency, even if a little higher priced. Candidate A was, for all intents and purposes, the practical choice. That said, it was just another car; no real fun factor to speak of. It was rather, shall we say, “uninspiring.” My Fiesta, though not exactly inspiring, was more lively than this thing, despite having a smaller engine and only a five-speed manual.

As you all know, I opted for Candidate B, against my better judgment. I say better judgment because my brain was telling me to go for Candidate A, but Candidate B won my heart over with the fun factor, the raw power and a more engaging and entertaining drive, not to mention her looks. Yes, my feeling side won out.

Also as you all know, that decision is biting me in the ass with the lengthy repairs she’s needed. Luckily I won’t be out anything more than a $100 deductible at the end of the day, but it’s still been a frustrating, irritating journey.

This is just one such example of how being an F has, for all intents and purposes, been a royal pain in the ass. I know, I know, “The grass is always greener,” but in this case, I can’t see how being an F is in any way better than being a T. If I was a T, it probably would have saved me so much headache later.

I can’t say as I know of any advantage Fs have over Ts. We often make erroneous decisions based on feelings instead of logic, we’re more emotional (and usually in the bad way), among other things.

Alas, it’s how I’m wired and I can’t change that. Oh well.

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.

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?