Headaches, Deadlines, and Change

Yes, I am still alive.

Due to pollen and week-long headaches that eventually turn into migraines, deadlines for taxes and healthcare and other bureaucratic things, and CHANGE – the ultimate anathema to an autism household, my plans for blogging fabulousness have gone awry.  But isn’t that just the way things go?  “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans,” or so said John Lennon, and I tend to agree.

Mid-week crankiness and crabbiness and the to-do list that isn’t getting quite to-done have left my head spinning.  And so, I make sure there is food in the fridge, not-too-dirty clothes in proximity, and we hang on by our fingernails until the weekend.

I may get time to write tomorrow, and I may not.  I apologize and thank you for your patience.

Life is happening.

Standing Up When It’s No Joke

Today I had to say something.

I know it’s different in the South, but really?  How long are we going to let this be an excuse?

At work today (which just blows me away, coming from a work environment where nothing off-color would ever escape my lips, not only because that’s really not me, but also because it would never fly with anyone else), a co-worker used a not uncommon Southern phrase which also happens to be derogatory to an ethnic group.  And then the person she was speaking to repeated it in his response.

I bit my lip, sighed uncomfortably, and tried to focus on my work.

It was said again.  And again, in response.  This happened three or four more times – it almost made me feel like I was getting “punked”, they couldn’t really be saying this same phrase over and over again so many times without it being a parody, right?  Nope.  They were for real, and I was fed up.

“Could we use a different word for that?” I asked.

I was not confrontational, but it was also clear I wasn’t joking.

The first woman immediately said, in a sing-song voice, “Uh-oh!  We’ve offended somebody!  Oh no.  Someone’s offended!”  And I don’t think she meant further offense with this — more of a Southern way of backhandedly telling you you’re overreacting while trying to smooth ruffled feathers, kind of like “Bless your heart!”

The man approached me and asked if I was a member of the slighted ethnic group.  Shocked, I asked, “Do I have to be to be offended?”

“I’m just asking a question!” he responded.  “And I’m just asking a question,” I said.

He went on to say he didn’t think it was offensive, and thankfully left soon after.

I wasn’t intending to be confrontational, just speaking up.  Because it bothered me, and I don’t care if it’s a “Southern” thing.  Truthfully I was more bothered by their responses to being called out for being offensive. It made me feel as if I was somehow in the wrong.  And maybe I am, geographically.

But we can’t accept this anymore.  “It was the way I was brought up,” is no longer an excuse, because you were probably also brought up to not hurt others.  “It’s just a saying down here,” is not OK anymore.

And when you offend someone, you need to say you are sorry, and leave it at that, whether or not you agree with the person who felt offended. Why don’t people get this? It’s not up for debate!  Every single person is different, and has had different experiences and backgrounds.  If you hurt someone enough for them to speak up and tell you to your face, you just end up looking like an ass if you insist you didn’t hurt them.  You may not have intended to, but you did.  Own it, apologize, and change the subject.

Thoughts?

On Being “Messy”

by .pst

by .pst

I got a call from my boss when I was out of town at a conference.  He was sitting down at my desk and trying to access something with my login.  When my “desktop” came up, he remarked at how “messy” it was.  It’s really not – it’s organized how I understand it, because it’s not used by anyone else, and I know where everything is located.

The Man has problems with my “messiness” as well, and that’s just how it is.  He is a super neat-freak who has a place for everything and everything is in its place.  He gets upset when a receipt is left on the counter, but he is learning to curb it now that he is sharing living space with me. “I used to be much worse,” he often remarks to me, and I think, “How is that even possible??”

But, I too, have curbed my messiness because I am now sharing space with him.  I live in a neater bedroom than I ever have in my life, as my mom can probably attest.  She used to some in my room periodically and threaten to throw everything on the floor into a garbage bag to be thrown out so that I would clean it up, and I, in turn, used to shove it all into my closet so she would leave me alone.

I must clarify that by messy, I do not mean dirty.

But it bothers me that “messy” is still such a bad thing.  I think it’s a personality trait and organizational style rather than any reflection on a person’s work ethic, as years of societal and motherly admonitions would have you believe.  I do not need others looking down on me because I am not as neat as they would have me be.  It obviously works for me, because I haven’t changed in all my years on the planet.

And apparently, being messy is a sign of a creative mind, not something I would disagree with, nor be ashamed of.  I think we “messy” ones need to be cut some slack, and be allowed to keep our own personal spaces as we wish without fear of being reprimanded or looked down upon.  Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Butterpats and Old Newspapers

This weekend, I helped my mom sort through her antique butter-pat collection.  She started collecting them before I was born, and has kept them through the years, hoping they will accrue in value, but mostly admiring their beauty.

We pulled them out once when I was a girl, and from the evidence we saw today, it must have been when I was about ten, in 1984.  I vividly remember doing this, because I accidentally dropped one on our ceramic tile kitchen floor shortly after we had started, and it shattered.  My mom was disappointed and probably angry, while I was mortified that I had broken something she valued so much.  I was in tears, and ran to my room, and in the meantime, the butter-pats were re-wrapped and put away again.

Today, as we pulled out each butter pat, carefully unwrapped it and placed it on the table, she reminisced about when she had purchased them, and we both remarked on their patterns, age, and condition.  Some are Spode, some are Wedgewood, some are Haviland and Limoges.  I noted my favorites, and we looked at the markings, and her previous notes deciphering the codes in the imprints on the back.

butterpats

We also noted the newspaper they had been wrapped in.  One or two from 1984 (including the Detroit Tigers 1984 Season Schedule, the year they won the World Series), but most from 1974, in the summer before I was born.  There were announcements of concerts by Eric Clapton and the Grateful Dead, advertisements for recently released movies like “The Sting” and “Blazing Saddles,” and other interesting news of the day.

It was a wonderful afternoon for remembering, and an unexpected look into the past. Who knew the material in which she wrapped those butter-pats nearly 40 years ago would be almost as interesting as the butter-pats themselves?

Not Fate But Opportunity

512px-The_knock_knockI like to think that there’s a reason for the important stuff that happens.  Not the “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle” garbage, because there are lots of people who can’t handle what they’re given.  But I like to think that when you are open to opportunity, there’s a hell of a lot of coincidence out there to take advantage of.

My background as a teacher has always helped me be a better parent to The Boy.  My background as a band director is helping me fight for my son’s rights as I write this.  Even my first crappy marriage has made me a better wife the second time around.

Tonight, I became the lynch pin, the go-between for my autism society friends and my boss’s wife who owns a local restaurant and offered for them to have fundraisers at her place.  And it was so coincidental, and so much good came of this chance meeting of people who happened to know me… There are times when nothing seems random, yet we seem so incredibly lucky.

It’s times like these when I feel like I am contributing something good and important to the world, even though I am not as nobly employed as I used to be.  I’m building a network of good people who can help each other out, and have a direct positive impact on everyone in our community.  It’s a rare thing, but it’s starting to happen… I love opportunity!

Tightly Wound Today

I’m aggravated.  Today was A MONDAY at work, and the boss was aggravated, making everyone else aggravated.  And I keep spelling aggravated wrong… seriously.  It has been A. DAY.  I am so glad it is almost over.

So how do you let go when you get wound up?  It’s not fair to your family to sit and seethe all evening long.  The whole reason we work is so that we can support our families, but if we don’t also get to enjoy them, it isn’t worth it.

Here are some things that work for me:

  1. Breathe.  You think you are, but you’re not.  You are taking little tiny shallow breaths that don’t even come close to filling up your lung capacity.  Try it.  Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Amazing how much better you feel, huh?  Our brains need oxygen, and they feel better when they are getting a good and steady supply.  Those tiny little breaths we slip into just don’t cut it.
  2. Take a moment to un-clench.  Many, many times when I do this, I can only imagine what I looked like before taking deep breaths and un-clenching – my shoulders must have been up around my ears!  No wonder I get killer  shoulder/neck/headaches…  I read somewhere to think of yourself as an unwinding spool of thread when you want to unwind – go figure!  Try it.  It works for me.
  3. Laugh.  Go back and look at the photos you’ve taken with your phone, go to a funny website that has been proven to make you laugh out loud (damnyouautocorrect or cakewrecks work for me!), or watch something light and funny like AFV (America’s Funniest Home Videos).  After you’ve been giggling for a bit, you will find yourself naturally breathing deeper and un-clenching, i.e. letting go of the stress.
  4. Treat yourself well.  Tell yourself it’s OK to be aggravated (nope, still spelled it wrong) or stressed, but that whatever’s on your mind can wait until you get back to work (or the aggravating situation).  And then eat a piece of chocolate, give yourself a mini-hand massage, or close the door and be by yourself for a few minutes (always a treat in my house!).  You work hard, and you deserve to be rewarded for it.
  5. Talk about it with your spouse or a good friend.  Getting support from the people who mean the most to you will take the sting out of your stress, I promise.  But don’t dwell on it.  Let it out, and let it go.

These are already helping me, tonight.  What works for you?  Let us know in the comments.

Yes, please...

Yes, please…

What’re You Up To?

I am spending yet another day at home, when we every clearly could be at work today.  Third day home means another day of no pay, and three times as much work waiting for me when I get back.  I’m not a happy camper.  Our high will be in the 40s today, and the 50s tomorrow, so we continue to wait, I guess.  And I will be working all weekend to make up for it, but jeesh…

So today, I am:

  • feeling: irritated by the weather, by being cooped up again, by having so much work that could be done that is now waiting for me, ready to pounce the minute I get back (ugh!)
  • missing: my mom and dad, friends from work (The Boy is at Grammy’s today, so I may head over there later…)
  • reading: Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende and The Hobbit by Tolkien (I don’t usually read more than one at a time, but I’m not doing as much reading as I used to, so…)
  • worrying about: tubas, taxes, and tires and other things which need to be paid for
  • eating: not much – never do when I’m alone
  • looking forward to: temps in the 60s this weekend, even if it’s rainy, dinner with my parents tomorrow night (Stouffer’s lasagna – yum!)
  • playing: hidden object games
  • thankful for: not being in the mess in Atlanta, and not losing power in this storm

What are you all up to today?

Snow Day

We’re having a snow day here in the south.  The bread has been cleared from all of the Walmart shelves, and now we hunker down in our houses for 48-72 hours and wait for it to warm up enough to melt any snow accumulation we may get because of the fabulous lack of snow plows or road salt.  It will be in the 60s this weekend, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

So far this year, we have had several 2 hour delays at The Boy’s school, which is disruption enough, but today is our first actually snow day, and even my office is closed.  The snow is not anticipated to really start until this afternoon, but it is raining and cold, so why not?

We are desperately hoping we don’t have a power outage, but getting things ready, just in case – gathering reading material, charging up what can be charged, and locating candles in our recently re-packed Christmas bins.

This has been a winter to remember, and it is only January.  I can only imagine all the kiddos on the spectrum in the northern states who have had very little routine in the past couple of months.  The Boy was so ready to go back to school after Christmas, and has yet to have had a completely full week of school, and I know conditions are much worse in other parts of the country.

I let him sleep in a bit today, but we will be reading his novel, something he will probably consider homework, which is just NOT DONE on a snow day.  But it needs to get done, and so read we shall.  For now, we are playing with our new Chromecast (a Christmas present to myself).

Considering 140 million people in our country are under some sort of winter weather advisory, here’s hoping you are managing, wherever you are.

snow day at our house

snow day at our house

Not a Great Result

Met about the band thing today, and basically we need to find him a tuba somewhere or they are going to make him switch to a different instrument, which he doesn’t want to do.  They didn’t seem too interested in discussing strategies to help him participate in band.  The band director kept saying, “but if he doesn’t have a tuba to practice…” as if that was his out.  This solidifies my theory that he orchestrated the return of the practice tuba to the high school director.

He complained about the needs of “the ensemble” and his “high expectations” – I shut that right down by saying, “This is 6TH GRADE BAND, and you are a TEACHER.  He is 12 and he is LEARNING.”

I’m at a loss.  This seems cruel to me, especially after listening to the “counselor” reiterate time and time again that there might be other students in the class who are missing out on the opportunity to play tuba because The Boy is playing it…  What?? Needless to say, she will never be a part of any meeting I attend again.

Supposedly they are asking around the district to see if anyone has a practice tuba he can use, but I know this will end up in my lap – if he wants to play tuba, I will need to purchase one (no one even rents them).

It’s hard not to be disheartened.