Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Another Day In Paradise

Tomorrow Lily and I are getting on a plane to go visit my family in Chicago. If you read this blog at all or know me in real life, you probably know that I go there at least 4 times a year. I spend most of my extra money on plane tickets. And whenever I return, I return holding my broken heart in my hands. Every single time I go back to Chicago, it is devastating for me to leave. In fact, people have asked me many times, "Do you ever think of just moving back to Chicago?"

Here's the thing.

Throughout all of my life, beginning in early childhood, I dreamed of living in a place like this. I remember being as young as seven and just knowing I didn't belong in Chicago. Part of it was because my family used to spend part of each summer in the northern woods of Wisconsin, and later on we also went on one or two week camping trips all across the USA. I was happiest when I was around tall trees and large bodies of water. I didn't see mountains until I was in my teens, but when I did, my mind was even more blown.

The pace of Chicago always overwhelmed me as well. From what I've experienced (and maybe you've experienced differently) Chicago, especially the suburbs, is unforgiving of people who are somewhat different. I wished for a place to belong. I never did manage to find "my tribe." I did have friends, but they were almost always people who were friends with me because they wanted something from me... either they liked me because I took care of their children for free (If I had a dollar for every friend who said something like, "I would invite you out with us, but you're the only person I trust with my kids," or "If I hang out with you, I'll have to pay someone to watch my kids!" I'd be rich by now!) or because they liked the attention they got for being kind to someone with a disability, or because I literally would have done anything for anyone. (Not gross stuff. I mean things like lending people money even if I was broke myself, bailing people out of jail, sharing my food, sharing my places to live, etc.) I never quite felt at home anywhere. The last few years I lived in Chicago, I spent almost all of the time in the basement of my parents' house, immersed in the Blogosphere because that world was safe and secure for me.

I dreamed of the day that I would leave Chicago and go to the kind of place where I'd always wanted to live.

Then I landed in Washougal.

Today I was looking back on the past few weeks since my last trip back to Chicago. There was the day that I went and waded in the Washougal River with Kathy and her dog Ellie... where the river is so clear that you can see the rocks on the bottom. The day I went to see "Dominion" with my friends from Odd Man Inn, the animal sanctuary where I volunteer. The day I spent at the Big Float in Portland. I went by myself, which was admittedly a little sad because I am pretty sure I was the only one there alone, but I still had fun floating on my innertube all day long. The many afternoons I've spent with the animals at Odd Man Inn, singing to baby cows, hugging dogs, brushing sheep, holding geese, petting goats, and scratching pig bellies. The day I spent at Veg Out in Portland, also with some friends from Odd Man Inn. The mornings I've spent at Creative Journaling and art classes at the mental health drop in center in Vancouver. Just today I spent a large part of the afternoon just lounging at the river with my dog, talking to some people I met who also had dogs... and then in the evening, got a spontaneous text from Kathy and went to hang out with her and Ellie and the dogs they are babysitting.

I drove home from Kathy's this evening, wowed by the view of Mount Hood and the Columbia River in the sunset. I got to my apartment and had a conversation with my neighbor from the apartment downstairs. Later she came up and knocked on my door to see if I was going to need anything while I am out of town.

Do you see a pattern here? I'm starting to find my place... my tribe. My home.

I miss my parents so bad. Every day it is like I walk around with a wound in my heart. The wound has a scab over it so most of the time I can deal with life, but when I come back fresh from Chicago the scab is ripped open and my heart is bleeding, falling apart, pieces everywhere, me staggering around feeling like I'm dying. But if I stayed in Chicago forever it would be like I was already dead.

It is a hard choice to make. I've totally forgotten the purpose of this blog post. I think what I was trying to say is, I love Washougal, it is my home, and I am happy to be here, and I am even a little sad to be leaving to go back to Chicago. But at the same time I am dreading coming back, because I know I'm going to be in so much pain.

I should probably be packing right now, shouldn't I?

I hope when I come back in several weeks I remember all of the things I am looking forward to for the rest of the summer... more afternoons at the river, the BBQ at the mental health drop in center (although BBQs are not quite as exciting for people who don't eat meat), spending more time at Odd Man Inn, going to autism camp, going to more festivals, etc, etc, etc. And I hope when I get back here my wounded heart scabs over again quickly enough so that I can actually enjoy the rest of the summer here!

Me and Lily at the river today having fun and relaxing and living the dream! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

My Vlog, Episode 3

I made this video not to long ago but I don't think I ever posted it! The ending of this one is my favorite!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

To See Or Not To See?

Wow, I've been out of the Blogosphere for a while!  I am trying to make my big comeback and start blogging again. I've been wanting to for a while and just haven't gotten around to it, but when I found myself starting to write a really long Facebook post, I realized that it was turning into a blog entry... and so here I am. 

Anyways... Last night I got to be one of the first people to watch "Dominion", a new documentary about how animals that are raised for food are treated.There was not a dry eye in the theater! Some people were worried that I might get too upset if I saw it... and they were right, it was very upsetting... but it is sort of like, EVERYONE should watch it and we SHOULD be upset.

As you know, animals are my main "special interest." More than that, animals are my heart. But I am going to switch directions suddenly and without warning right now, to bring you the following information. In Sweden, a group of people that call themselves STHLM Panda routinely film pranks and social experiments. Recently they decided to do a more serious social experiment than usual. They wanted to find out how people would react to witnessing domestic violence happening... in, of all places, an elevator, where they could not just ignore it or walk away. The group predicted that about 50% of the witnesses would intervene. The man who was portraying the abuser was even prepared to get punched a few times by other men who would defend the woman.

Instead, out of 53 witnesses who rode the elevator at various times and saw the domestic abuse taking place, only one person made any attempt to intervene. One witness even asked the man to let her (the witness) get off the elevator before he abused his victim. Does that seem sort of surprising?

What would you do if you were in this situation? Would you try to think of some way to diffuse the man's anger or distract him? Would you try to physically defend the woman? Would you grab your phone and dial 911? Or would you ask to be let off the elevator so you would not have to witness the woman's pain and would not have to take the responsibility of doing something to help her?

Okay, back to animals. Now you are trapped on an elevator, but this time it is with a man who is punching a lamb in the face repeatedly while roughly shearing the lamb's wool in a way that leaves her bleeding. Or he is throwing live newborn chicks into a grinding machine, or kicking a piglet in the side while using an electric rod to electrocute him in the head, or he is killing a mother goat while her newborn kid bleats helplessly. What do you do? Do you say something? Do you beg him to stop? Do you try to get help? Or do you get off the elevator and walk away, trying not to think about it?

The reason I wanted to see "Dominion," despite knowing ahead of time that it would break my heart, was because if I purposely didn't see it, I would feel like I was choosing to ignore it. I did bawl through most of it. It was hard because I have friends who are animals, so when I saw the baby cows and goats being stolen from their mothers I was thinking about Popcorn and Spock the cows, and Moxie and her goat babies, and so on down the line... every animal reminded me of someone I know. But I am glad I saw it, because it is better to see something than purposely not see it. (Does that even make sense?)

"Dominion" isn't usually in movie theaters. You have to go to a private screening I got to see it because I am in with the in cool crowd I got invited by my friends who run Odd Man Inn. You may be able to find a private screening in your area by going to this page and searching for your city or state, or you can even request to host a private screening. You can also rent it online here.

The thing that upset me most about it was that the people in this movie seemed to be enjoying hurting and killing the animals. They were purposely being cruel to the animals. It is horrendous enough that the animals are being killed, but these people were laughing and calling the animals names in the process. It is overwhelming to think about how many animals go through these torturous deaths every day.

The documentary is so upsetting, that the website actually has a page on self-care that urges people to get help if they find themselves having trouble processing their feelings about what they saw.

If you see it, I'd be interested to hear what you think of it!