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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Friday, August 28, 2015

And The Bottom Drops Out

Hi everyone! I promised I'd write once I got my new computer, so I could update you on how things are going here in Chicago!

Well, the good news is, I've gotten to do a lot of fun things. With my parents and Auntie Em and Uncle J, I got to go to the Frank Loyd Wright House, downtown Chicago, and the horse race track. I also got to go out to lunch with my grandparents and Aunt Bea, and tomorrow or the next day I am going to Six Flags with Aunt Bea and my little cousins Pony Girl and Sox Boy. It has been great!

On the other hand, some thing aren't going so well.

 A few weeks ago, I found out that  member of my immediate family (I can't specify who because the family member hasn't told many people yet) has cancer. It is treatable, but it is cancer. I had already planned my trip back to Chicago before I heard the news, and luckily the trip coincides with some of the family member's doctor appointments and tests, so I am going to be able to go with for moral support. Most of the people in my family, it turned out, knew about this for longer than I did, but they didn't want to tell me because they were afraid I'd have a meltdown. Fortunately I handled it well... I figured there is no reason to panic, and that I should just think positively and try to spend time with the person doing fun things other than thinking about cancer.

Meanwhile, in Washington, I had met a friend named Ken, who was about the age of my aunt and uncle and was their friend too. He was part of the dog walking group that we all belong to. Remember in my last post I mentioned the Border Collie who was learning how to herd ducks? And the pictures of me snuggling with the ducks? Well, the Border Collie and the ducks belonged to Ken. He is one of the best dog owners I ever met. He is divorced and lives alone except for his dog and ducks, and much of his time was devoted to doing activities with the dog and keeping the dog busy. Border Collies are very smart, and very energetic, dogs, and if they get bored they will find some sort of "puzzle" to solve... such as, "I wonder if I can destroy this entire couch?" or "Let me dig up all of these bushes and find out if there are any bones buried underneath!" Ken prided himself on never letting his dog get bored. Ken is also a very smart, kind and funny guy, who grows on you in a quiet way. You start out thinking he's just some random guy, but soon you find yourself enjoying his company and considering him a friend!

Since Auntie Em and Uncle J were planning to spend one week in Chicago (they came out at the same time as me but will go back a lot earlier) they arranged for some friends to take care of the animals. One lady took care of my fish, one lady took care of my aunt and uncle's dog Roo, and Ken was appointed in charge of the cats. He also picked us up last Friday night and drove us to the air port, with his dog in the car.

A few days later, my aunt and uncle got a phone call saying that Ken and his dog were supposed to go on a walk with two other friends from the group. When he didn't show up, they got worried and went to his house. They saw his car and saw his dog running loose in the yard, so they knew he was home, but he wasn't answering the door. So they went in... and found him lying unconscious on the floor.

He was rushed to the hospital, but the damage had been done. He'd had a major brain bleed. He would never regain consciousness. They eventually took him off life support, and today... after his beloved dog was brought in to say goodbye... he died.

I have cried all week about it. It is weird because he was not a major part of my life... I saw him a few times a week for dog walks and when I went to see the ducks.. and I didn't know him for very long. But he was a friend. And last Friday he was standing outside the airport hugging us all goodbye, promising me he'd send email updates about the ducks. And talking about how big the ducks were going to be when I got back. And now he's gone. The ducks have been given away. The dog, sadly. has no place to go... that part is especially heartbreaking to me. Ken would have never, in a million years, abandoned his dog. He would be traumatized to know that his dog's future is up in the air right now.

(I want to keep the dog, but since I am staying with my aunt and uncle it is not really up to me. But I just hope someone who knows him will keep him, so his entire world isn't blown to pieces.)

How can Ken be dead? I don't understand it. He wasn't very old. He wasn't sick He didn't engage in reckless behavior like driving drunk or doing drugs. He was active. He was always doing something. He and his dog both lived life to the fullest. He was, in no way, ready to die. He just walked into his kitchen one day and his brain exploded.

When I first heard that he was in the hospital, I tried to think positive, just as I did when I found out that my family member has cancer. I prayed and prayed. I reached out to my Facebook friends and asked them to please, say a prayer or make a wish, for Ken to be okay. I begged God to let Ken live.

 But he died anyway.

I feel like the world is shattering around me. There are other things going on too that I cannot explain. Just when I thought things were going so well, the floor and walls have melted around me, leaving me twirling frantically in outerspace. Reality keeps shifting and I don't know what is right anymore. I feel like everyone around me is wearing a mask, and they sometimes peek out from behind it and scare me, and then say, "What? That wasn't me!"

And on one hand I keep on smiling and having fun... but the sadness and confusion lurks underneath it, always waiting for the next thing to happen.

I am lost.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hard To Believe

So I am getting ready to go out to Chicago for a visit with my family. And it is the weirdest thing... I am actually a little sad to leave here! Just the way I would be, back in Chicago, when I was getting ready to come visit (and eventually move) out here.

Its weird because I really, really, really do want to go see my parents and grandparents and everyone, and I've been looking forward to it since the last time I saw my parents at the beginning of June. I've even been counting down with a paper chain in my room! And I know that, at the end of this visit, I am probably going to be a wreck when I have to say goodbye to my parents again. But as for coming back here, to Washington, I think I will be happy! I like being able to hike every day, even being able to go for a walk by myself if I want to without having to be too paranoid about getting mugged or something. I like the small town feeling and the calm, happy atmosphere that most of the people around here have. And I especially like the river!

I haven't gotten enough chances to go to the river this summer, since I was often exhausted after work. It is really less than five minutes from where I'm staying, and Lily loves it there too! She was afraid of the water when we first moved here, but now she plays happily. (Except when a boat goes by. She hates the waves. I guess I would too, if I were eight inches tall!)

When I get back here, my next goal (besides the obvious one of finding my next job, which I still haven't accomplished) will be to get out a little more and make some friends. I can go to Meetups and stuff, but even just relaxing down by the river with my dog is a good way to meet people. People with dogs! A lot of the time this summer, I just let the house swallow me up whenever I get home from work, and I don't want to leave any more than I have to. On a weekend, even a trip to the library can be stressful for me because I have to tear myself away from home! Lily coming with does help. Except when we're in the library, she's not very patient, and doesn't understand why I keep walking back and forth among the shelves.

I really don't have much to say in this post. And I probably won't be able to post again at least until Monday or Tuesday, because I am getting a new computer, which is being shipped out there, so I am leaving my old computer here and then bringing the new one back with me. But when I do get a chance to post, one thing I'll want to do is give a report on my experience flying with a psychiatric service dog. So you have that to look forward to.

In the mean time, here are a few pictures. Here is me saying goodbye to my friends who are ducks. When I get back from Chicago, they are going to be bigger than Lily.

Here;s one of Lily in her new sunshine bed. I kept seeing this bed in the Petsmart every time I went there, and I wanted it so bad, especially since Lily is always comandeering the cats' bed. I thought she would like a little bed of her own, even though she sleeps in my bed most of the time at night. It was $20 and I wasn't sure I should spend the money. But finally I did! Lily knew it was hers right away. She pawed at it and even picked it up in her mouth and pulled it around a little, and then looked at me and wagged her tail. And now she spends a lot of time just chillin' in it, like this. 

And finally, here is a picture of Lily this morning when I took her to say goodbye to the river. It has been so crowded all summer because it has been so hot, but it was cooler out today and we had it mostly to ourselves. We just walked along in the water and Lily splashed around happily. She's going to be bored in Chicago! (It is hard to tell that she is in water, but ust trust me on this one. You can kind of see the ripples in the water, and the browner section where the sand begins, can't you?

Okay, I will leave you with that. See you soon!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Animals, Animals, Look At All the Animals

Hi everyone! I'm still trying to get back into the habit of blogging, but my computer crashes so much that often by the time I've been kicked off in the middle of what I'm doing nine or ten times, I'm too exhausted and exasperated to keep working on it! I'm getting a new computer sometime this week, so that should improve my writing habits. We hope!

My summer job at the day camp ended on Friday. I immediately started getting sick. It was like my body had been working so hard to stay well in the midst of all of those little kid germs, as soon as it knew I was done working, it collapsed! I pretty much slept straight through the weekend and on through today, and now I am feeling a little better.

I've been working on getting a little more established here, since I've come to terms with the idea of staying. I took Lily to the local vet for an exam and just to establish her as a patient, and I registered her so that she can get her new local doggy tags. I am waiting to get my own doctors set up, get my local driver's license, register my car, etc, until my next paycheck. (Like any good Mama, I had to take care of my Lily first!)

I've also had some more local adventures. Last Sunday, for example, Auntie Em and I went to the County Fair! I had never been to a county fair before... at least not that I can remember. (I think I went to the Wisconsin state fair once. I remember watching pig races and drinking rootbeer flavored milk.) The County Fair was fun because there were a lot of animals! Here are some pictures of me bonding with baby cows and goats.(Note that I am wearing two different shoes. I can do that now because I'm in the Pacific Northwest! I've been trying to let my own weird style come out more!)



 I really, really, really, really, really want a pet goat!

The fair also had some rides. Auntie Em went on the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Scrambler with me. We had a lot of fun and she said she felt like a kid again! However, when I went on one of my very favorite rides, Auntie Em chose to stay on the ground and try to take a video of me. She said there was no way she was getting on this one!

We were getting tired and were getting ready to go catch the bus to go home, when Auntie Em saw a game she wanted to play. It was the one where you try to throw a pingpong ball into a goldfish bowl to win a goldfish. Auntie Em said she used to be really good at that game, and it was only two dollars to play. And, guess what? 
We are now the proud owners of a fish! His name is Clark. 

I've also gotten to have a few more low-key but super fun adventures involving animals. 
For instance, we went to visit Auntie Em and Uncle J's friend, who has 12 goats and a very large goat-protecting dog. Here is me bonding with the very large dog (she is huge but gentle and wanted to give me lots of hugs) while a goat observes.

Another friend of theirs has just bought 10 baby ducks to teach his border collie to herd. I never heard of a dog herding ducks before, but apparently its a thing. We go over there occasionally to help look after the ducks. The other day, we had to give them a bath in their little swimming pool! Contrary to popular belief, when ducks are little they cannot be in the water all the time, because it takes a while for their real duck feathers (the water proof ones) to grow in. They need to spend some time in the water to learn how to be ducks, but after a while they start getting soggy and cold and need to be taken out. 
Here is a picture of me and a friend trying to keep all of our ducks in a row, while the border collie observes.

And here is me trying to warm up a soggy duck!

As you can see, this area is like Paradise for me! I am just looking forward to a time when I will have my own house with a yard, so I can get some animals of my own. (But of course Lily will always be Top Dog in my eyes!)

This is getting to be a long and winding post, so I will end it here. I will keep you posted! (Haha, get it? Posted? Eh? Oh, never mind.)