The List

If you haven’t noticed from the tone of the last few posts the To Do List has gotten out of control. Which is ironic because I started all these DIY projects to regain some control in this out of control world. Mostly, I’ve just got sore bones and aching joints. (And some pretty good plumbing and electrical experience, on the positive side.)

So, as my witnesses, I am gonna post the rest of my To Do List, here, and now. Every step, well almost every step. Some things can be assumed. And with my ADHD in check, I’m gonna try and stick to this list. Just, this, list.

As always, no particular order, other than my wild, wild brain.

  • Organize books and art on living room/office book shelves.
  • Figure out lighting situation on bookshelves, either a task light that I mount on the wall and find a way to do something interesting with the cord, either fish it through the wall or artfully attach it to the shelving bracing… Or battery operated puck lights that I originally bought for this purpose but could also be useful for light-tweaking in photography? I have the materials for both, so it’s technically just a matter of playing with it and deciding which I like better, which is usually the case with lighting.
  • Hang hidden rod for light diffusing curtain, for filming my face. (I’m 35, but I think my health issues have prematurely aged me, just a bit, so I need soft lights.) The curtain itself is on separate rod that I will keep somewhere else, but the rod attached to the wall swings outward when I need it. Normally, it will be hidden in my regular living room curtains.
  • Mount LED flood lights for filming on wall above monitor. Same thing as above with the cords. I saw some cool things with cord wrapping once, maybe I’ll look that up again?
I know how to do this, but the time? So much time.
  • Hang bulletin board, and possibly, new letter board? I was romanced by a pretty green colored letter board at Target. I technically already have a little letter board. I shouldn’t have bought it. So, I will probably take it back… Maybe this should be return letter board. They’re a little passe’ now, anyway, right? Right.
Like this only sap green. The sentiment is also true. I have a smaller one that is black velvet that still says “Merry X-Mas” It’s ironic now, until November when it’s seasonal.
  • Look into how to properly press green screen and storage solutions, will probably store in the same place I store the diffuser curtain, which means I need to reorganize the front closet? Also, need to dig out the large plastic wrap for keeping it clean that I used in the move two years ago? Not sure… but you can see how one thing leads to another.
  • Finish organizing and securing tools and DIY materials. My son keeps stealing my nails and screws. Tools too. He permanently has taken over a pair of rusty channel lock pliers, rusty because he hid them in his paddling pool for days.

Time out. He is literally destroying a set of plastic drawers with painters tape over his mouth. Right now, as I type this. He put the painter’s tape there. Not me. He likes the feel of the adhesive pulling off his lips. Also, he wanted to make sure the drawers were the same size and shape and then dumped them separate from the frame. So, that’s something else I need to clean up. Child. Is. Killing me. But, oh, so, cute. It really protects him from my OCD wrath. That, and his interesting little mind that has the make sure the drawers are the same size. I love that about him. I don’t want to stifle it just so I have one less thing to do.

  • Organize cords for computer, lighting, and charging, batteries, Ipad, phone, and AAC device for my bubba.
  • Organize canvas and art supplies again, for filming and for protections from cutie pie. He’s been stealing my art markers, over, and over again.
  • Find new spot for NSA listening device, I mean, Alexa. Maybe up with task light on the book shelf, so I can cover all the cords together? Then cover the cord cover with the same wallpaper I have on the wall. That sounded like a tongue twister but I think that’s the answer. So, that means, remove cord cover from television where it is less needed- eventually I will replace that cord cover with screen track I am using on the porch, because it is relatively the same thing. Or use the screen track for the shelves instead? Remove a step? Or maybe do something cool and design like? Talk about time.
Something like this? But that’s in the “eventual” to-do list.
  • Remove empty shelf bracing system in the garage and office and move them to the laundry room to replace old falling apart shelving system. (Yes, I could buy a new shelving system, but that wouldn’t be very thoughtful to my husbands money anxiety. More work, less money. I might need to buy new shelves though?) Maybe this goes in the “eventual” to do list too. Oh, and replace it with pegboard.
  • Finish superficial renovation of the full bathroom, meaning put up ikea shelves and some other wood details. I was actually inspired by this brand of organic bath soaps, Raw Sugar. Nothing too fancy, another Target buy, it’s a little bougie actually, but I like the design.
  • Finish light in the kitchen, including cutting out drywall piece to fix old and new junction boxes, paint 2’x2′ piece of plywood that I’m using as a base to new light fixture, cut moulding to go around ply, which is actually harder than it looks if you are used to cutting frames for art and theatre projects. Cut out hole in plywood for electrical. Fix plywood to the ceiling, and then finally mount light fixture. Oh and yeah, fix drywall. That could have been its own list.
  • Re-organize kitchen for kid-proofing and more efficiency.
  • Put away wedding china that I found in garage. As well as vases and other breakables.
  • Put broken Christmas tree that was technically a hand me down but sentimental and so I don’t want to get rid of it, into attic. This may require hoisting and grunting of some kind.
  • Replace internal workings in half bath toilet. It’s not flushing with any kind of certitude at the moment.
  • Finish electrical.
  • Finish chandelier planter project.
  • Finish insulated garden hose mount.
  • Find, aluminum cutters to finish kitchen lighting project. Suspect the boy.
  • Finish the screens.
  • Finish canvas curtains for porch.
  • Finish corrugated metal and plastic wall on porch.
  • Finish bedroom light project with diffuser fabric and wood trim.
  • Find a way to temporarily mount table top easel on desk that can come off easily. I might just make a mini sandbag like I would use in the theatre?
  • Redesign Bubba’s bedroom to make it more swing and sensory friendly. More rugs on walls for texture and protection.
He loves his swing. The swing is not such a big fan of the walls. Or his curtains.
  • On my eventual list, is replacing the kitchen floor, finishing the screen painting projects, and re-doing my own bedroom to fit a king size bed to deal with our growing boy and his love of sleeping horizontally in his parents bed. Oh, and this cool trick I saw for tufting with washers and screws, that my kid will LOVE. Sensory dream.

You may have noticed that a lot of these start with the word “finish.” That’s the problem with ADHD and bipolar. There is a lot of starting, and then jumping to the next thing before the last one is over. BUT I have still accomplished a lot. In trying to remain positive, here is the list of the things I have FINISHED:

  • Assembled boom arms on my desk for filming VLOG, including shock mount and camera stand modification.
  • replaced pipes and drain on bathroom sink
  • replaced and modified cool new handles on cabinets under sink.
  • spray painted frame on old mirror.
  • As you know from the last post, I finished switching over the dining room light.
  • Put away clean laundry. There was a lot of it.
  • Cleaned some more laundry, there is still a lot of it.
  • Fixed kitchen plumbing, garbage disposal, and internal frost proof garden silcock. (That sounds dirty.)

And then of course, the one thing that never ends. Basic clean up.

So, uh, now that I’ve rest my weary bones to write this. I got to get to work. Wish me luck.

Attic Ladders, Distraction, and Obsession

Today has been a trying day. I had some kind of health episode in Target this morning. I think it might have been low blood sugar or dehydration. I got a bottle of water, some popcorn chips and then acted like the choosiest person in the patio department ever. Earnestly, it made me want to get this awesome chair for my porch. But I think it might make John lose his mind if I brought home a piece of furniture.

(My son is back at school, in this strange new isolation-half-day coronavirus-protocol way. It involves his teachers in full PPE and avoiding all his classmates. The point is I spend a lot of time in Target and other stores while waiting for his half day to be done because I don’t have enough time to go home. We live about three towns away from his school.)

And then when we got home. I decided that I was going to go up into the attic to fix the electrical work. Only… I’ve never been up in our attic. It scares the bejeebus out of me. It didn’t help that when I peaked in, there was enough rat poison to take out the entire cast of Ratatouille.

It was also about six thousand degrees.

And then there was blown insulation everywhere so I couldn’t even figure out where to step if I wanted to…

So I went back down the original 1960’s ladder, when a size 10 was like a modern day size 4, which creaked very rudely. Like an accusation of some kind. Like it knows about the M&M’s I’ve been getting at Target. Whatever ladder. Stop judging me.

And now, I am thinking I am gonna have to enlarge the escape hatch in my kitchen to fix the electric from underneath so that I don’t kill myself falling through the ceiling. Which means an even larger project.

UHHHHgggggg…..

These projects with all their experience and obstacles, can be a form of madness from time to time. And it really points out the difference, at least for me, in ADHD distraction vs. Autism obsession.

Autism obsession is more about passion, and engrossing yourself.

Distraction is a heightened kind madness that causes you to jump from project to project.

Both can be really wonderful and exhausting at the same time. Both can cause you problems as well as accomplishments.

Today, after weeks of heightened distraction due to stress, I feel like that creaky attic ladder…

barely hanging on.

One down, 93 to go

Ok, I don’t know if it’s actually 93 projects left to go, but that’s what it feels like in my ADHD brain. Granted, it always feels like I have that many ideas or plans at the same time. It’s more or less, give or take… I don’t know, it’s a lot.

BUT one project is done.

I replaced my dining room light fixture and even though the replacement looks maybe too simple, it’s actually perfect. It’s energy efficient, with daylight tone, and cost effective. I’m pretty thrilled. I’ve always wanted to have solar tube lighting, which is basically a porthole from your roof. This is the closest I can get.

Here’s a Before and After- Cool and geometric but too dim to bright and simple. I think it makes for sense for a dining room that is also an art studio and a toy room.

Now like I said there are about 93 to go. I’m setting up my living room/office for my studio, mounting new lighting, organizing toys and clean laundry. I’ve done little bits of every project, including some outside projects because my buddy wanted to go outside… despite the heat and pollen.

How badass are those adorable hot pink shoes?

I’m working on my kitchen light as well. Which after I managed to wrestle first the ugliest fluorescent light, then the most enormous 1970’s recessed light box, I now have an escape hatch into my attic from my kitchen.

Yep, that’s the attic.

Why didn’t I finish the light project right away, you ask? Because our AC broke! So that derailed THAT project. But tomorrow, I will be going up into the attic to replace the junction box and repair the ceiling, then I will be FINALLY replacing the light.

Until then, the escape hatch is pretty cool, right?

List of Projects

Last post I told you that I had too many projects that it was making my head buzz…

But today, it’s giving me more joy than pain. Which is good! But it’s STILL a ton of projects!

Here’s what I got going on this weekend:

-Organizing office and studio equipment

BEFORE- Living Room/ My “office”

-Mount bookcase lighting

-Set up for screen painting project. This is an exciting porch project that I decided to do inspired by the Baltimore window screens. This great folk art tradition in Maryland. But I think I will actually paint something a little more Georgia O’Keefe and a little less Bob Ross. (No matter how much I love him. I love her too.)

Baltimore Window screens

-put away the clean laundry that has been piling up

-organize electronics and DVD’s so that they are out of my bubba’s reach- he has destroyed so, so many blue rays

-organize toys again, still working on the right system where he can find what he wants independently but also can communicate his needs with us at the same time. It’s a trial and error kind of thing.

-set up at-home therapy/school cabinet. My buddy will be going back to school more regularly soon. But, if anything, this pandemic has taught me that I can’t rely on school alone for my son’s education.

-Change lighting fixtures in both dining room and kitchen, including finding a replacement for kitchen light for under ten dollars. My husband’s challenge.

BEFORE Dining Room Light

The Dining Room light flickers in a way that makes me nervous given our recent wiring mishaps on the porch. Also I want a something with daylight equivalent for night painting. There is no before picture of the kitchen light because it was an ugly industrial fluorescent light that I have hated for years. Not picture worthy.

-Finish the porch project- but uhg! It’s so hot and itchy!

Then, really, just basic clean up. There are crumbs everywhere. And Amazon boxes. Not as many boxes as there are crumbs. But that’s still a lot of boxes.

Most of these projects are just me trying to regain some control in an out of control world. But either way. I’m feeling good about it.

I can’t… But I will

I’m having an “I can’t” mental health day which is inconvenient because I have a lot to do. Is it strange to be embarrassed by how much bad luck we’ve been experiencing personally, when there is so much worse going on globally?

Like every tele-therapy session I have for my son, when they ask how things have been going I have to explain-

“I had an allergic reaction that made my hands virtually melt.” Or “There was a small fire in my DIY renovation.” Or “A pipe burst when I was trying to change the garden tap.”

Little did I know when I took this before picture that this tap would blow up my life. And would lead to several other issues.

Or “two of the four appliances in my kitchen are broken and I have to fix them with grit and youtube alone.”


“I’ve been electrocuted twice despite turning off the appropriate breakers. Can’t find my voltage detector, obvs”

That looks safe, right?
I didn’t think so either. Fire in 3…2…1

“Carpenter bees keep attacking my porch, despite the fact that I bought them their own little bee home. I punted one out of the air with my boot and I swear I heard it curse at me in bee language.”

“I keep telling my son that he has to have shoes on in the construction zone, but he keeps ‘losing’ them. Which means he hides them. But I am legit scared that he could get blood poisoning from the dirty sharp nails and jagged discarded siding.”

“I just confiscated a bunch of magnets he was trying to eat. Bubba is inconsolable.”

This was taken before the magnet-gate but I’m pretty sure he was annoyed at me for something else.

“My husband has pronounced a fatwa on the renovation, and has forbidden me from talking about it to protect his own sanity. Understandable, it really is. But also embarrassing. It makes me feel like our This Old House issues are somehow my issues because I want to fix them, not ignore them.”

“I can’t feel my feet. And my joints are so angry at me. And my allergies keep making my lips swell up and sting.”

It’s embarrassing. And embarrassing means something else entirely for me. It means, I get overwhelmed and raw and vulnerable, when all I want to do is a have a safe place for my son to play on our screened in porch- because we don’t have a fence, and he’s been starting to elope into busy streets on our walks. So suddenly, a safe entertaining play area becomes a matter of life and death because I can’t sprint as fast as my four year old.

Serious moment. This could have been the last picture of my son and I. I took it by accident when he was ripping his hand out of mine to run into the street.

I know that it’s gonna be ok. I can already feel my meds kicking in, and taking the edge off that vulnerability. And my small porch fire that I was able to stamp out with my gloves is nothing compared to the fact that Minneapolis is blazing.

It’s gonna be ok. Just for right now… I can’t.

But I will.

This Old House is Killing ME

So, during one of my son’s telehealth speech therapy sessions, we found that he was a lot happier outside in our screened in porch. Of course, I decided to turn it into an outdoor classroom IMMEDIATELY. Because my biggest special interest is my son, like you might imagine.

But our sweet little screened in porch was being held together by vines, hole ridden netting, and rust. So honestly, I’ve been working non-stop for the last four days, and the following things have happened.

In no particular order, because my brain won’t function in any particular order.

-I bought a bee house to pull the carpenter bees away from my porch

-The carpenter bees decided that my paltry little house was insufficient and continued to eat my big one.

-I punted one bee coming at me with my boot. It felt like an angry little shuttlecock.

-While changing the old exposed outlet covers to proper outdoor outlets covers, discovered a wiring problem that resulted in a small fire. Immediately shut off the power.

-No, first screamed obscenities while stamping out said fire with my glove. Then shut off the power. First, then.

-Murdered a garden hose trying to remove it from my old tap.

-Murdered a second garden hose when I neglected to clean off the sediment from the old tap.

-Cleaned off the sediment, and attached my favorite, most fancy hose yet. Turned on the tap to have water gush out of the aluminum siding in several places.

-Removed aluminum siding to fix trillion year old tap and discovered that my house used to be pink (YAY!)

-Decided to remove all the siding in just the screened in porch. Found what was holding it together was spiders, mold, and a wretched smell.

-Cut my hand on a sharp aluminum edge. Used my son’s mickey bandaids, which has caused him to try and steal them from my hand every time he sees my wound.

-Made watercolor style drop cloth curtains to save some money and return some of the lattice I planned to use for privacy. (The new tap and tools for dealing with the siding were busting my budget. It’s apparently a very fancy tap. Also, I’ve bought like three cans of liquid wrench to deal with all the rusted bolts and screws.)

-Fixed storm door that kept crashing open at the slightest breeze and causing my sensory issues to flare.

-Re-listened to the Raven Boys series read by Will Patton. His voice is delicious.

-Digged a drainage ditch in the hardest clay I’ve seen since I lived in Georgia, all to stop wood rot. So not even pretty.

-Hauled rocks from the garage to the porch, for said drainage ditch, thinking of greek mythology characters.

-Bent my machete on a bunch of vines, but felt like a total badass for like two seconds. Used my much less badass pruning knife to take out the rest.

-Dug up old rocks and bricks in my backyard to use in the drainage ditch, hoping I wouldn’t unearth a dead pet or anything. There were some really pretty rocks, I would have considered them tombstone worthy. There was no pet cemetery though.

-Spray painted an old chandelier for a planter.

-Had a waterballoon fight with my son to make him happy.

And now I am currently waiting for the liquid wrench to dissolve the corrosion around a pipe that is stuck, with my water off, trying not to loose my mind.

Instagram, Family, and Special Interest Paintings

I have been staying up WAY too late these nights. Mostly because of my darling son, but also because of my new social media love- instagram. Oh man, is it addicting! But honestly, one of the biggest things that I am really grateful for when it comes to instagram, has very little to do with pretty pictures. Ok, well actually it has a little something to do with it and I will get back to that.

Mostly, I am grateful that it has allowed me to reconnect with my aunt.

This is my Aunt Mary Anne…

Mary Anne or Mae West?

She did this Mae West Tribute show for a long time, and then did some vintage music shows for assisted living facilities where they would appreciate it the most. Which means that she was caring about these older people before they were in danger. Which to me, shows that she was ahead of an all different curve, you know basic humanity and compassion.

She is my father’s sister and the very same aunt I told you about at the beginning of quarantine when I was worried about who I was gonna lose to this sickness. In that post, I also told you about the grandmother that I did lose, shortly after I wrote that, actually. Which meant that when I saw my aunt posting her work outs on instagram it was like I had to see her. I didn’t want to miss my chance with her, like I did with my grandmother. In fact, there is this strange connection that whenever I see her picture, I think “grandma.” Not because she is old enough to be my grandmother, no. It’s just this impetus. It’s like the word “grandma” has become “don’t wait.” Don’t lose her too.

Now, I am not saying my Aunt is going anywhere. She’s incredibly healthy. She does these stair climbing marathons and is doing a virtual one to raise money for Leukemia, her team is called Stair Down Cancer. (Love a good pun.) I just really don’t want to waste anymore time with her.

And seeing her virtually is good enough during this crisis, like I said, despite being ridiculously healthy, she is older than my father. And my uncle, the writer, has MS, and is a quadriplegic. He also has a great blog about their adventures in a handicap accessible RV from a wheelchair perspective, called Wheelie Out There. I think that pun alone shows you how great he is. (Seriously, love a good pun.) But it also shows you that I want them to be safe in this uncertain time.

Picture courtesy of his blog, Wheelie Out There.

Sidenote- When I first met my Uncle John I believe he had a cane. Then a walker. Then a motorized scooter, and now a wheelchair. The interesting thing about that, is that none of my memories of his mobility aides are bad ones. Sure, I didn’t want that for him. But his presence has never been a sad or tragic one. When it was the walker, I remember him showing me the “grassy knoll” in Dallas as we looked over the fence where a “second shooter” might have been. When it was the motorized scooter, I remember him nearly plowing into a hissing goose outside his apartment, a war whoop of glee on the air. What I am saying is, despite his difficulties, which are enough to destroy most people, he has a tremendous spirit. He also skydives. So there’s that.

We’ve made plans to get together once they swing through my little town. And I’m pretty happy about it. Honestly, I’m just hoping I won’t burst into tears when I see them. Undiagnosed autism and other mental health issues can be so isolating. The best thing about getting diagnosed (and the proper medicine) has honestly been “coming out.” It allows you to get over yourself a bit and go after what matters to you. My family will always matter most to me. So it’s like a starting pistol has gone off, and I want to go see everyone. Too bad it happened during a quarantine. Nonetheless, I’m pretty pumped.

I’m also pumped about an idea my aunt gave me over instagram. I was posting some of my old paintings which included this teacup painting I did for an antique shop.

And she suggested that I create painting of rare teacups for collectors. And while I am not sure that I want to necessarily go the teacup route, because rare teacups are usually quite intricate, and would not really be my.. ahem…cup of tea, per se, I really loved the idea of painting a piece that a person might collect. Because you will often find that autistic people are collectors. This also made me think of the other unique special interests that people on the spectrum have. I think sometime in the future I would like to do a series based on such an idea, highlighting those special interests and elevating them into art.

Do you have a special interest that you would like a painting of?

But maybe, more than that, do you want to see your family more? It’s hard living with mental health issues, like I said before. And hopefully, once all this is done, and it’s safe to be with each other once again, maybe it doesn’t have to be so isolating.

Maybe it’s not too late.


The painting is by Salvador Dali. It’s inspired by Mae West, the real life actress my Aunt has made a career out of impersonating.

Finding Kyle and My influences

I have discovered another contemporary artist that I am just in love with. I am slightly embarrassed to say that it was while I was watching decorating shows on hulu at midnight. The show “Good Bones” reminds me so much of my mother and I as a team. Now, my mother and I did theatrical productions, not renovate houses, but it’s the same kind of energy.

Anyway, Kyle Ragsdale made an appearance when the mother-daughter duo were looking for some original art and came to visit his studio, and uh- I reversed the video THREE TIMES trying to catch not only his full name, but all the art in his studio. I wanted to see IT ALL.

But all they said was “Kyle” and I was like, do I just plug into Google “Kyle + Beautiful Art + Indianapolis”? But apparently, yeah, that was all I had to do, because I found him.

Folks. I am loving his work. But I also really enjoyed this moment on his website, where he listed his influences. This long list, with no explanation. And, sure, he listed artists like Gustav Klimt, Gary Hume, and Fiona Raye- but then he also added, golf, Scrabble, The Royal Tennenbaums, and Bjork. I LOVE that. Especially as an autistic person, who often relates and communicates to the rest of the world through references from movies and popular culture. (Think Abed from Community.)

So, I wanted to introduce you to Kyle, yes, but I also wanted to make a similar influences list, with no explanation either. Influences to my art, my writing, my life in general. So take it as you will… again, no particular order, other than my ADHD inattentive brain.

My Influences

  • Harry Potter
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Texture
  • John Singer Sargent
  • Tricia French
  • Lizzo
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • 1960’s pop art and fashion
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Paul McCartney
  • Georgia O’Keefe
  • Edward Hopper
  • Gustav Klimt
  • Pattern
  • Hannah Gadsby
  • Radiolab
  • Ira Glass
  • Justice/Responsibility
  • David Bowie
  • Penelope
  • Lady Gaga
  • Neurodiversity
  • Westerns
  • Star Trek
  • Puns
  • Compassion
  • Zombie/apocalyptic novels
  • Disney films
  • Carl Jung
  • Ironic covers of popular songs
  • Mary Blair
  • Margaret Atwood
  • My family
  • Ted Kooser
  • Mary Oliver
  • William Carlos Willams
  • Dolly Parton
  • Christopher Moore
  • Marvel Comics
  • Adam Driver
  • Sandy Powell
  • Emily McDowell
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Nolan Brothers
  • Franz Marc
  • Andrew Wyeth
  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Jess Franks
  • Michael Carson
  • Anna Bond
  • Typography
  • Hurst Castle
  • Queer Eye
  • Inclusivity
  • Laughter
  • Warmth

And maybe… you? The people that I want to help. Always. You probably influence me the most.

Sensory Issues = Short Temper

I was perusing facebook and I found a gem of an infographic from @mombrain.therapist. So of course I hopped on to instagram, followed her immediately, and found a bunch of other great infographic gems, one on pandemic parenting, another on comparing yourself to other moms, all cute and cartoony with really great information. You should go look. But this particular pic was it for me. It helped me so much.

Visual clutter, bad smells, and bright lights are my biggest hotpoints.

Now technically, I knew a lot of this information already as an autistic person. But for some reason I had not connected it to my patience as a parent (or as a wife really.)

I just knew it was why I was feeling so wrong and why I needed to hide in hyperfocus tv bingeing or some other kind of distraction. Which always makes me even more irritable because there is no progress or problem solving when you’re hiding out in hyperfocus mode. It’s like running in place.

I hate running in place. Treadmills? Don’t get me started. Like, I think Dickensian orphans would be horrified that people use treadmills for exercise now. What’s next? Voluntary debtor’s prison? … There might be a university and student loan comparison, there…. but offtopic.

So, how do I deal with this? I’ve tried the usual fixes. I did the candles, I did the audio book, I upped the ante to some of my favorite music, but with the inability to have my cleaning time without my family… not to mention all the walks that my buddy has me going on (And that whole gluten rash debacle) I’m just stuck. And I was really pissed about it.

Was… that’s the key word. Why am I no longer angry? Was it meditation? Therapy? Good old fashioned gratitude?

No!

I took a Klonopin!

I am not making fun of meditation, therapy, or good old fashioned gratitude, those are definitely a part of my bag of tricks. But the reality is, this isn’t just a foul mood. It’s not a lack of perspective. It’s a sensory reaction. It’s physical. And sometimes physical problems needs physical answers. So I took a klonopin with my daily cocktail. And it helped a lot.

Truly, if I could add klonopin to my daily meds, I would. But I don’t want to develop any kind of resistance to it, because it can be a lifesaver when you are dealing with something just that much extra. Like a global pandemic, near house fire (oh yeah, that happened. I’ll tell you more later) and so much visual clutter that I’m tripping over it.

This is a sidenote, but to explain just how insane my environment is right now… My son… has decided to collect all the floor vents in one place, leaving these rabbit-warren-like holes in my hardwood floor, that I’m pretty sure he’s thrown some toys down. I definitely stepped in one. And for some reason… he pushed my chair into one so that it looked like a sinkhole had developed in my dining room? I am not kidding. I almost wish I had taken a picture but it was just too much.

And in a wonderland like twist, last night while we were sleeping, he woke up and found my cache of slinkies that I bought for him. So there are dozens of slinkies hidden amongst the laundry and clutter. And every once in a while, one will just spring out at you.

I also had started a few projects that I didn’t finish, my fault there, so there are bins of my books and storage and one of my statue models from art school just hanging out in the living room. But really… my kid has been loving that, so I’m not as angry on that one.

I won’t mention how he keeps fondling the butt on this statue. I think it’s the texture… yeah… we will go with that.
The infamous wedding typewriter. Bubba has been loving that too.

So, yeah.

Uh… Now, I just found a melted green crayon in my fresh load of whites.

What was I saying about meditation again?

Diagnosing My Parents

I’ve spoken often of both my parents in this blog. I spoke about my mom in a tribute to her on Mother’s Day and in my coming out story. My father I have spoken about many times, about his photography lessons, and his own health and diet issues in my ode to fat, which was also an ode to my dad. (That’s not a comment on his physique, he’s very slender now. Mostly because of his high fat diet. It’s a whole thing, just trust me.)

What I’d like to talk about now, is a bit tricky. You see, my relationships with my parents are two of the best and most complicated things in my life.

They are good relationships, let me say that first. I love my parents very much. I know that they did their best in raising me (which was a damn good job, in my opinion. Any trauma that comes from my childhood was always because of societal pressure, not them personally.) I am obnoxiously close to my mother, and still very close to my father as well.

Honestly, I am a complete and total mash up of the two of them. Some kids might have a few traits of each of their parents, and others really favor one or the other. I look and act, exactly like BOTH OF MY PARENTS.

I have a few pictures from their youth that I think really show this off, like the one above, I’m pretty sure that if you morphed their faces together, it would be me. Like one of those facebook future child picture generators. Seriously, just remove the mustache. And then of course, this more informal black and white gem below.

Personally, I think my Dad is rocking those shorts, and my mom very typically has paint on her jeans. She was constantly painting our house when I was a baby. My first memory of her is with paint specs on her glasses. But those crinkly hooded eyes on my Dad- I have those. That pale freckled coloring on my Mom? I have the sunburns to prove it.

Like I said, I am a complete mash up of the two of them. Which begs the question…

If I am autistic, OCD, ADHD, and Bipolar… what are they?

It’s a tough thing to discuss because it is so intensely personal. And what I know is only what I have researched myself. Neither of my parents are formally diagnosed but I think they have come to terms with some of their more neurodiverse traits, or at least copped to them, for me. I do know that whenever I bring it up, each of them gets a bit tense.

That stigma is hard to break. And the self-loathing ableism and shame cycle is the worst of all. I think of this especially when I think of my father. (Mom too, but I will get to her in a second.)

With my father- his mother, my grandmother, was like me, I think. But in a time when mental health was not only misunderstood but often criminalized and institutionalized… well, she obviously wasn’t going to explore that side of herself. But I’ve concluded, from family stories, and her behavior that I recall from my childhood, that she had trouble connecting with people, even my father.

I honestly don’t know enough to say one way or the other. I prefer to think that she was more like me, than say, she just didn’t like us, my family. We are delightful. So it couldn’t be that.

At the start of this year, I was in a pretty terrible fight with my father. I mentioned it in my coming out story. We have since come to understand each other better, in a way because that fight was so much about clashing similarities. Or our inabilities to properly communicate.

A sign of autism.

I am not going to say that my father is autistic. Not officially. He has MANY of the hallmarks of autism, and I know he holds a lot of trauma from living in a society that expects you to communicate in only one way, but calling out someone as autistic, like Babe Ruth pointing out a shot, is not helpful to the person who is coming to terms with their identity. And I don’t know that he will ever really see it until he starts looking for it. But they are definitely there. I see him.

In fact, this is probably what I was most angry about. His inability to see himself, was somehow, a rejection of me. And all the times that his self-loathing showed through by being hard on me about being “overly- sensitive,” or communicating properly, or any of the other traits we shared- that made my blood boil.

In fact, the first breakthrough in our argument was when he admitted to sharing these traits with me. With just that connection, I was able to let go and forgive everything else. And in fairness to my father, I was dealing with a lot of trauma, fixation, and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria during this phase of our relationship. I would not put him “at blame.” Just like me, he was doing his best.

Now, my mother. My mother, because we are so close, I have very rudely told her “You are so ADHD” about a million times. And it wasn’t like some insult. I was letting her know like I might tell her that her shoe was untied. She’s still on the fence, I think.

Why? She’s a special education teacher. More than that, she’s a tenacious person. And somehow, I feel like she thinks that you can’t have ADHD and be tenacious. She once said to me, after I called her out, “I have multiple degrees, you know.” To which of course, I was like, “Grandpa built multiple houses, Walt Disney built multiple worlds. ADHD does not stop you from being successful.”

By the way, my grandfather was definitely ADHD. I will call that one with surety. (Especially because he passed away almost twenty years ago, so I don’t think I will be hurting his feelings or causing any internal struggle.) Anyway, he always had multiple projects going, had a bit of short fuse, and was constantly thinking. He and Walt would have been good friends. Especially, with Walt’s obsession with trains. My grandfather worked for a railway company as an engineer for many years.

Off topic. I know.

My mother has the same kind of tenacity as my grandfather, and Disney too. She never stops. She’s always thinking, always moving forward. And for the most part, this is a super power of hers. BUT she also has time blindness. Hyperfocus can sometimes effect her health when she stays up until all hours of the night to finish a project. And she has trouble with sequencing.

All trademarks of ADHD.

I’ve come to terms with their refusal to see some of these issues within themselves. It’s understandable. But an interesting thing happened on Mother’s Day.

I was chatting with my mom on the phone and some ADHD things came up and she apologized for not having done anything to help in my youth, and I said, “Don’t worry about it too much. They were so focused on boys with ADHD that they probably wouldn’t have even tested me.”

There was a bit of a pause. Then she told me that many of my teachers asked for me to be tested for ADHD. But she thought that I just wasn’t doing things like my homework because I had no interest in them. And I wondered, did she think all the other traits of ADHD I was showing were normal, because she also has ADHD?

I forgave her immediately because that is my nature. And also because I am very close with my mother, and for any wrongs that she did me, she also supported me through a lot of hardships…

But it’s there still. In my mind. That lost time… What would I have done with it? Maybe I would have finished college? Maybe I could have done better in high school instead of regularly flunking out of classes that I daydreamed through? I would at least know that I wasn’t broken.

It certainly explains why, when I started to question my neurotype, in particular, about possibly being autistic, she kept saying, I think you are more ADHD than autistic. Not because ADHD was more socially acceptable than autism, like I thought, it was because people had been telling her I had ADHD for years.

Nonetheless, my path was my path. I know who I am, my identity is secure, and like I said, for every wrong that they did to me, they also supported me and taught me what is truly important.

If you are considering the traits of your own parents, I suggest that you try to forgive them for the wrong calls that they made for you and for themselves. Sure, you can try and help them come to their own realizations with information or subtle suggestions. But you can’t really go further than that, you can’t diagnose them.

As for me? My diagnoses for my parents is that they are human. They have made mistakes, there is no doubt. But they also did their best.

And that best, was still pretty great.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day in quarantine came with some interesting wants. Instead of breakfast in bed or anything like that, my husband took my son on a walk while I vacuumed and it was wonderful!!!

I haven’t been able to properly vacuum in weeks because my buddy has painful sensory aversion to it. So even just the sight of the vacuum freaks him out. And yeah, I could put him in his headphones and sequester him to one part of the house, but it just unsettles him too much. And in a time where everything is so unsettled, we’re doing our best just to survive.

So whatever you need to do to survive on this Mother’s Day, I hope that it has some sweet thing that you are needing, whether that’s a phone call to a loved one, some alone time, or a vacuumed rug.

Plans, Plans, Plans… Wait… crap…

So that was a reference to my Plans, Plans, Plans, Yeah! post where I talked about my exciting plans to start an ASMR channel and vlog. Mostly, it was about equipment and my background in photography.

And in my excitement, I forgot the golden rule… Ask the experts.

I mean, we tell autism parents that all the time. Ask Autistics, well, I have now “asked” the ASMRtists and I have more information to pass on to you. I put asked in quotes because what I really did was search for videos on their personal ASMR creation advice. Of which there are a few…

(I kind of wish I had “asked” before I bought some of my equipment, but I am still pretty happy with what I have. Even if I did get carried away… crap, don’t tell my husband I said that. CRAP, he reads these! … Anyway, I’ll get more into that in a minute.)

This is about the experts. So, let me start with my first ASMR love… Gibi ASMR. This video is from 2017, and I like that because it was after she had been filming for about a year, which means that she was still comparatively a beginner, but with legit advice. She’s also, just so smart and likable. So it’s nice to listen to as well.

Continue reading “Plans, Plans, Plans… Wait… crap…”