improperlyhuman: (dark Mulder)
I bought my train ticket this afternoon. Round-trip to Portland cost some one hundred and fifty-six dollars with a disabled passenger discount. I asked for vegan meals. Only two choices were offered: pad thai, and black beans and vegetables. I chose pad thai for all the meals. The ticket rep suggested that  ask for something else once I got onboard because the cooking staff sometimes get "adventurous."

I'm going to have to transport my bike in something they call a "bike box." It's a narrow affair, so they require me to twist the handlebars ninety degrees and remove the pedals. I don't know how to do either of those. I'll have to stop at a bike shop beforehand if I can't figure it out myself (and there's a good chance that I won't be able to figure it out myself). I'll have to get pedal removal tools at the least.

I'm fairly sure that I'm losing weight. I still have sexy muscles to flex, though, so I guess/hope I'm losing mostly fat. It's been fairly easy to undereat because I kinda just don't care about feeling hungry and don't want to bother eating. When I do want to eat, on the other hand, I'm always tempted to go out and blow cash on something. I caught the very end of the local farmer's market after buying my ticket this afternoon, and I came away with seven dollars' worth of vegan curry takeaway. Tofu and spinach on brown rice with naan. Yuuuuum.

I was watching a youtube video of a detransitioned womon talking about her knowledge of other detransitioned womyn this evening. It made me think of what it's like to access that kind of community (not a community of detransitioners, but something like an LBT community of womyn) and I suddenly thought about my never having really accessed that sort of community (of course, I've never really accessed any sort of community, unless we count band geeks, and that wasn't intimate interaction at all).

I decided that I was a lesbian around age 22 (part of me thinks it could have been interesting to have had a blog at that time; the rest of me thinks that I would have been annoying); I made a small effort to be involved in the community but it wasn't for me (not the community itself, just my being a part of it community). There was a weekly young adult LGBT meet-up type thing one city away, and I forced myself to go for a while. 

I remember how scared I felt the first time I went. I'd arrived after the meeting had started, and for a long time I stood out of view in the dark hallway, just beyond the open door, listening to the conversation and trying to figure out how to gracefully introduce myself into the group. I simply had no idea what to say or do, and being late always made me feel guilty and self-conscious.

I finally cooked up a lie about looking for someone who didn't exist. I went to the door and asked if my imaginary friend was there. The group facilitator said no, and, mercifully, invited me in. Another person arrived late a while after I'd come in, and I felt a pang of guilt when the facilitator asked her if she was the person I'd pretended to look for.

I was always uncomfortable during the meetings, and I said awkward, stupid shit on a few occasions. Thanks to the idiots of the world who can't deal with quiet people, by that age I was self-conscious when I wasn't saying anything; I'd try to come up with a response to what someone was talking about, but I almost never had a genuine response and couldn't figure out how to get a word in without colliding with what someone else was saying anyhow.

I thought that forcing myself to keep going (there or somewhere like it, but I wasn't going to endure the agony of introducing myself into yet another brand new group, although I did go to SF for a womyn's film screening and came home with one of my earliest migraines) was practically my only hope of ever finding a girlfriend. I think that I had some other half-baked ideas about it as well, but I can't remember anymore. I think maybe I expected to one day become more comfortable. That never happened, and the hour-long bus ride each way began to take its toll, so I finally stopped going.

To this day I cannot sit around and chat with random people about nothing. Same old iconoclass.

I also joined the Gay Straight Alliance when I was in community college. That was much easier to handle because we had events and things to talk about (rather than directionless socializing), and the format was more structured (the leader would talk to us and then we'd respond one at a time). That's where I met my first adulthood friend (who is also my current host). I of course made no attempt to befriend anyone; he pursued me and I remained nothing more than an acquaintance to the rest of the members.

One of them used to stare at me, which of course made me uncomfortable because I HATE HATE HATE people staring at me. I don't think it even occurred to me that she may have been interested in me. The tenses in that last sentence must be wrong.

It's getting late. So I've spent my whole life isolated from lesbian community. From time to time, I heard some things about it that didn't make me regret that isolation; mainly that everyone had dated everyone and everyone seemed to know it. Yuck. That's like borderline incest for smallish communities. And people who date zillions of people are creepy. 

Sometimes I wonder if I missed out on something, but mostly I'm like, nah, probably not much, just an endless loop of awkward social situations. I honestly don't think I would have become more comfortable with people than I am now, maybe just too jaded and socially exhausted to get as anxious. I don't think it's ever been a matter of familiarity for me: it's more like a matter of finding the right environment and accommodation.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
Who the hell started this bullshit practice of adding sugar to everything, and why? I bought some pizza pockets today and they were sweet!

I feel much better today; keeping a journal is good therapy. Got my second wind and did a good amount of work today.

So I was searching for some lifting shoes and I learned the ugly truth: that a lot of our clothing is petroleum-based. I found a pair of lifting shoes that listed synthetic leather as one of the materials. So I looked up synthetic leather and ended up watching a manufacturing video of liquid toxins being mixed in a huge vat. Sooo sick and wrong. The narrator said that furniture upholstery is also made of frankenfabrics. Well, it's definitely vegan.

I don't want any petroleum-based shoes, so I need another solution to my squatting difficulties. I'm going to try squatting with my heels up on a plank of wood. If it's good enough for Arnold, it's good enough for me.

Arnold squatting like a boss

BEEFCAKE!!1!!

It'll also be cheaper. Lifting shoes run for around 100 bucks on the cheap end.

Got my monitor cable today and I still can't get an image on the monitor. Piece of crap.

Something just occurred to me while I was playing atris. Most people socialize (date and make friends) within their own socioeconomic group, right? Once or twice, I've wondered why that is so. Aside from simple proximity/availability, most people probably find it a lot easier to get along with other people from their socioeconomic group.

But me, I've never felt like I got along well with my socioeconomic group. I've always felt anxious talking to poor people because I know that they sometimes get awkward if someone references words or ideas with which they are unfamiliar. I simplify things I say. I don't like doing it because, knowing that I don't like it when people do that to me, I feel like a hypocrite. It's not really a problem now, but it was something I did in my twenties.

I also worried about them talking to me about hobbies and interests. People have gotten awkward when I said that I like to read, when I didn't recognize the popular music they were singing to me.

But my goodness, ADOAS were the absolute worst. No other group of people has been so quick and so forward with their expectations and stereotyping. To this day I am paranoid around them. Of course my dysfunctional family was the worst. I remember they teased me about not being able to dance (ALL ADOAS can dance, apparently) when I was just a small kid, couldn't have been older than 4 or 5, and I cried! Awful bunch of people.

But even complete strangers made it clear that I was expected to be a Christian and listen to rap music.

Something I still don't understand is why ADOAS seem to be just Christians. Why no specific denomination? Baptists? Lutherans? I only ever hear them refer to themselves as Christians. Maybe when a people get their religion handed to them (or was it beaten into them?) from the white man, even the more salient details get lost.

What was my point? Oh yeah, never really felt any sense of belonging to a socioeconomic group. Even if I did feel a sense of belonging, the cultural differences would still exist. Maybe I would have a social life if this were not the case. Maybe in my twenties. I had no definite social preferences and no idea what people were like. In my very early twenties, I hung out with a guy from my Reserve unit who was a Christian and I barely even thought about it. Not today!

I used to just go along with shit back in the day. That's how I got any friends at all. I didn't have any particular interest in the people who (very rarely) approached me, but I just went with the flow and gave out my phone number.

Weak ethnic affiliation is apparently a trait that has been associated with schizoids. But I don't have weak ethnic affiliation because I'm a schizoid. I have weak (or rather, nonexistent) ethnic affiliation because

1. ethnic affiliation is useless to me and tainted by the white man's sociocultural engineering, and

2. ADOAS subculture just doesn't fit with my personality, and has some warped elements to it. That streak of anti-intellectualism probably killed it for me. I heard tell that there were some middle class ADOAS somewhere that were different from us poor, criminal, broken-family, school-dropout ADOAS, and they sounded like they might have had a nicer sub-culture, but I don't have any experience with that.

Actually, I don't even know how to classify the family I grew up in terms of class. We lived in a car and motels during my earliest years, then we moved into a house in the suburbs when I was five or six, but the only reason that came about was because my dad put the house in my nineteen-year-old sister's name (his credit was probably ruined), and the money came from the crimes he and my mom committed.

Then my dad tried for years and years to leave behind his lifetime of crime and become a businessman, but he failed hard. Finally opened a business when I was an adolescent, but never earned much from it. I think he may have owned another business or two before I was born, but he obviously hadn't been able to keep them going. The piece of shit desperately wanted to appear respectable. When I was about fifteen, I asked if I could get a job. He said no because, how would it look for a businessman's daughter to be working?

I'm all over the place with this blog post. The truth is that I probably wouldn't have any strong sense of ethnic affiliation regardless of the group of people I may have been born into. Strong ethnic affiliation is a stupid, provincial, normie thing. Feeling strongly identified with a group of people that one is a part of by mere chance is like so shallow. And to the extent that my weak ethnic affiliation helped to get me misdiagnosed as a schizoid, it is yet another illustration of why I'd be better off with a therapist who has experience with gifted adults.

You're so smart, iconoclass, that's what people have said to me. But do they put two and two together and see that being "smart" is a fundamental part of my personality, that it directly affects my behavior. It's not just something that makes me good at schoolwork. Anyways, I'm not just gifted. I'm 2E! A little bit of heaven and hell to keep me grounded here on earth.

I do think I got a little something from my family. I like to cuss up a storm like my dad. And none of us ever minced words for the sake of feelz. I think that may have gotten me into some miscommunications. Did I use that phrase correctly? I've never used "minced words" before.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
I recognized that I was an atheist at the age of twelve. I had to hide it for years. I lied at my sixth grade graduation by thanking god at the end of my acceptance speech because I knew that my older sisters were in the audience. I lied during the Q&A portion after my senior Government class presentation because I was afraid that news of my non-belief would get around to my dad. The experience of that sort of lying, of misrepresenting myself, setting my reputation to something I didn't want it to be, produced a sickening feeling and a desire to withdraw, because why engage, how engage with people who don't know who you are, people you've misled? That's the best I can describe it at the moment.

I joined the Air Force roundabouts the age of 19. The first thing we did after we stepped off the bus (after enduring the standard gratuitous yelling and herding) was fill out paperwork. One of the items allowed us to declare a religion. I hesitated. I chose none. I scratched it out and selected "Christian." I went back and forth a couple of times, but I was paranoid that my older sister (with whom I'd been living) would find out and the paranoia won out. I pictured myself returning home and being asked about the tags. The box was messy and didn't have much room left in it, but "Christian" stayed.

The information I put on that form ended up on my dog tags. Stamped in metal, indelible, a straight-up lie, shiny monument to my fear. Ironically, I felt embarrassed to have them and wanted no one in the military to see them because I was disgusted at the thought of people mistaking me for a Christian.

Graduated tech school, back in California. Still living with my sister. The subject of dog tags had never come up with anyone; still, I worried. I found out that I could get new tags made, but I kept putting it off. Finally, after "work" one day (like I said before, I did jack shit in the military), I forced myself over to whatever office it was. Nervous and already planning where I'd keep my new tags hidden, I asked to have them re-made. Without a religion specified.

The person at the desk directed me to another office at the back of the building, so I had to repeat myself. I had to work up a bit of courage for this. I was still a teen and had thus far done little or no self-asserting under threat of violence. I had much more freedom with my sister, but there were still Things You Just Don't Do. But I got those new dog tags, and seeing the extra space on the metal where the religion would be was a small relief. Authenticity.

I kept the old tags. I don't remember why, but it no doubt occurred to me to have a "backup" in case certain people ever wanted to see my tags. Anyways, they have my SSN on them. Later, I started moving. Somewhere in the process of moving from apartment to apartment, I lost the newer dog tags, the correct ones. I didn't want to believe it. I stopped searching and told myself that I would put it off for later so I didn't have to face the truth at that time, and I did come back later, but I still couldn't find them, and I didn't know what to do and kind of told myself that I'd come back again, and maybe I made one more half-hearted effort months later, but then I gave up.

They're gone, there's no denying it. It wouldn't be such a big deal except that I still have the old ones. In a scary and supremely awkward episode in the bathroom one morning, I'd finally told my sister that I wasn't a believer. A few months later, I'd moved away. There'd been no more need for an act, so how had I held onto the ones I hated and lost the ones I wanted? Those new tags were like my medal of budding adolescent courage. Gone.

Stupidly, I still think about them being somewhere in the fire-proof box where I keep the old ones, the minted lies.

Unsafe

Nov. 14th, 2014 07:56 pm
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
I see that my behavior of the past couple of years, my "slipping," acting naturally, etc. makes me more noticeable, more of a target. I can't possibly be looking any younger, yet people see me as a decade younger than I am more often than they used to, talk down to me, make snarky comments, and violate my personal space like never before. I was standing and waiting at the bus stop today when someone disembarked and, while passing right by me, seemed to remark that I was staring in a daze. People didn't used to do that sort of stuff to me. Do people normally treat other adults that way?

I want to look at the ground as I walk. I want to do this because it helps with eye fatigue: less sun in my eyes and less line-of-sight movement distracting me. Sometimes I stop walking, freeze, and stare as I'm trying to work something out in my head, or just because my mind wants to zone out for a bit. These habits, I fear, advertise me as some sort of target.

Sometimes, I force myself to look up as I walk, especially if I notice that I'm approaching the sort of person who looks as if he (always a he) might try to take advantage of me. This is immediately uncomfortable, as I'm then sort of forced to look at something; easily visually distracted, I am. I try to look straight ahead; I especially try to avoid even having my head turned in the direction of any people nearby because people will think I am looking at them and look at me. But things catch my eye. I sometimes invite the very attention I want to avoid by inadvertently glancing over at a passing person because that person is moving in my peripheral vision and I can't keep myself from looking. This awkward lack of control causes me to decide that it's better to just look at the ground, so I go back to that. I'm slightly conscious of the fact that it might look weird to people. I know that people sometimes perceive such a posture as representative of sadness; I don't want that, either.

It should go without saying that I'm quite tired of this. At this point, I'm probably also a bit paranoid and worrying that I'm attracting attention to myself even when I'm not. Yet, when I'm unselfconscious, people sometimes drag me out of it with random comments or weird looks, so I never know when it's coming. I don't even know why people are paying attention to me...actually, I'd rather not know. 

I don't feel safe. I feel less and less safe the older I get because I see more and more of what people are like, and it's terrifying. They are like predators, with the same cold foreignness in their eyes. And I have nothing with which to defend myself: not size, not skill, no weapons (yet), no group of friends. I can't even raise my voice; goddess forbid I ever have to call for help (I got myself an emergency whistle). I can barely express anger, and usually don't bother because I've no reason to expect anyone to take it seriously, because I've nothing to back it up with. And people just don't care. I don't know what they see when they look at me, but it's not someone to be respected.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
First of all, very frustrated today. The apartment was great, in a nice low-key area, complex not too big. I was able to pick up an application, but the property management company specified that it must be submitted in person (more obstacles for the poor!), and I've no way to get back there except to spend a fortune on two or three different buses. The woman to whom my case manager was going to refer me for help with housing search transportation says that their organization can't help me because I'm supposed to be getting that help from the housing coordinator, so she's going to call the VA tomorrow. I'm also going to have to wait on them for the twenty-five dollar application fee. If I did all of this myself, it would add up to forty or fifty dollars.

The amount of time all of this crap takes is most discouraging. I've been homeless forEVER; I'm doing what I can on my end but their bureaucracy is adding to the problem. Bureaucracy and homeless services DO NOT MIX because the needs of the homeless tend to be a matter of emergency.

And now to the main attraction: what it's like for me to deal with people. Today, for example, the apartment manager walked up to me and the social worker as we exited her car, hand outstretched. She shook his hand. I didn't. I kept my hands in my pockets. This is after I'd spent the last few minutes of the ride planning out what I'd do about hand-shaking. I'd known that it was coming, and I'd had mild anxiety over it because I didn't want the guy touching me, because hand-shaking is pointless, and because I knew that, no matter how I tried to wiggle out of it, I'd create an awkward situation. I'd had to choose between the repulsive and unnecessary sensation of a stranger's hand on mine and an awkward social situation. Damned both ways. I give in and shake sometimes, standing there trying not to grimace. Not this time. I'd considered lying about being sick and not wanting to spread germs, but I'd settled on offering the excuse that my hand hurt before she parked. She was doing a bunch of talking, and the landlord quickly saw that my hand wasn't available and withdrew his, so I didn't have to say anything. Awkward, but over quickly.

Over and over again I have to deal with this dilemma. This is one of the reasons I avoid people.

Then, there was the eye contact issue as the landlord addressed me (he and the social worker did most of the talking). Made worse by the height difference, which required me to look up, which allowed more sun into my eyes, which gave them a mild ache. I looked up; I looked back down at the ground. I looked back up, and then I think that I grimaced slightly. I shuffled my feet and sort of looked at the car door so that I might somehow look less weird, less weird, at least, than standing motionless while staring at the ground. Conscious about not giving the expected social cues, conscious of how I looked, trying figure out a way to ameliorate the situation without giving in to discomfort, yet still having to concentrate on what was being said. Busy mind, no rest. This is my social life.

During the ride up to the property (about twenty to thirty minutes), wondering if the social worker expected me to chat with her, as some people do. Some do, some don't, I guess. How does one tell the difference? I guess the people who really care are the ones who observe "you're so quiet." She's on the phone with the landlord's wife, talking and laughing more than necessary about mixing up the meeting details, yet apologizing for wasting the womon's time. She hangs up and is laughing and talking to me; I sit there silently, with nothing to say, wondering if she expects a response and what such a response could possibly be. Thinking. Thinking.

There were one or two more instances of her laughing at her mistakes while I sat there with no response whatsoever. I know (I think?) that not joining in with another person's laughter makes for an awkward situation, but I was not amused. I didn't mind that she's laughing; I'd simply no inspiration to join in.

Sometimes, I give in and laugh with other people, a weak, hollow laugh that pains me somewhat for its artificiality. Like last week, when my case manager was laughing at the frog invasion my campsite has suffered. I really wasn't feeling that laugh because of the frog poo in my pillow and loud croaking inches from my face in the damned morning. It wasn't even a laugh, more like a grimace while saying "heh." But she pushed me. I was silent, staring straight ahead, and she reached over and gave me that "I'm kidding, lighten up" knock on the shoulder. I was mildly repulsed that I'd allowed myself to be pushed into laughing at my own non-funny tribulations that I would soon be going back to, while she went back to her nice warm, dry home. Hah.

So I've been paying closer attention to what's happening in my mind as I move through the world, and I plan to post more about it.

Another sleepless night of freezing feet last night. I'm a bit worried about this; surely it isn't normal. I'm thinking of calling the advice nurse.

improperlyhuman: (Default)
So often, I end up on forums, and otherwise involved in interests dominated by men. This makes it difficult to meet womyn. I'm a member of autism forums, Linux forums, a physics forum, a philosophy forum, computer programming forums, although I only post outside the latter four when I have a question. As far as I can remember right now, the only sex-balanced activities in which I've willingly participated were band and Spanish club. The forum situation evens out a bit if I include my livejournal account, but I rarely participate on any livejournal communities. The lesbian forum is horrendously boring, so I don't participate there. Couldn't get into the MBTI forums.

I lost my ear defenders and had to drop twenty-five dollars on a new pair. I would have waited until next month, but I have two appointments next week; that means four bus trips. I spent a few extra dollars for some thirty decibel disposable foam ear plugs

I finally figured out why I keep piddling on myself when I stand2pee. The lower part of my left labia seems to extend a bit further than my right, and it obstructs the stream, causing the latter to dribble down my thigh. So I have to be careful to spread 'em wide to keep it out of the way. I can't really stand up straight, so this technique is not as useful as I thought it would be.
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
I continue to learn curious new things from WrongPlanet. Today there was a thread about not being able to discern the lyrics of songs, something I have mild issue with. I put that together with the occasions on which I've mistaken non-organic sounds for voices (seriously weird and creepy), difficulty remembering and paying attention to oral information and following multi-step verbally directions. These are symptoms of auditory processing disorder, which, not surprisingly, is correlated with autism.

This autism thing, the number of symptoms and similarities that are adding up has become ridiculous, and, in the interval between evaluation and results, I've become rather certain that I have it (or that I am it); whether my evaluators will agree remains to be seen. I think a lot of things were probably missed. The evaluation seemed like it would catch an autistic child, but an adult who has had time to learn and adapt to the world? Not so much.

The cold has finally arrived, and with it, the rain.

Oh Really?

Dec. 3rd, 2013 05:45 pm
improperlyhuman: truck tipping over on the highway (tipping truck)
I went to see the VA guy about housing today. The place was super loud and I was wilting while I waited for my appointment. I completely forgot about my water bottle and left it there. Only shelters and transitional housing available. But there is apparently something in Yountville if I get more income. I told him the circumstances of my discharge. He said to fax him my DD 214 and he would see about filing for service-connected disability. How I qualify for that, he didn't do a good job of explaining. Whatever. From this and the VA orientation I attended, I can see that people are super gung-ho on getting service-connected disability for as many ex-servicemembers as possible. And even if the ruling is 0% service-connected disability, the servicemember's kids can get free tuition. So the simple act of filing, disabled or not, comes with a benefit.

The good thing, he said, is that, unlike SSI, money for service-connected disability is not taxed. I don't understand how it even matters that SSI is taxed; people on it still don't have enough income to pay taxes.

I went to my favority store in the mall and bought myself a pair of winter gloves. They're for boys ages 4-7, according to the tag. The fingers are still a bit too long. Maybe it's because they're boys' gloves? I don't get it. These are the smallest gloves I can find outside of gloves for toddlers.
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
I'm back downtown again. I got up in the wee hours of the morning, walked to the atm for my money, and had the tow truck come around 3:30 AM to avoid the notice of the noisy fucking "neighbors."

I should have done this before, rather than going through months of moving all over town: simply had the van towed into the public lot next to which I was previously parked. I'd assumed that the parking fee was high. I should have checked. It's only twenty dollars a month! And since I've lived in roughly the same spot for months with nary a problem, and far more visibility, I expect to be ok where I am now. Technically, it is public grounds and I will be breaking the municipal code by remaining parked in one spot for longer than 72 hours...but no one cares downtown.

It's been a relief to finally feel some semblance of peacefulness. I've been wound up in knots for so long.

I had lunch at the new Subway downtown. It has made news in the local paper because of the counter-to-cieling bulletproof glass the owner had installed.

As usual, I have a million things to say, and not enough time in which to say them.

My laptop battery died some weeks ago, and I have no plans for obtaining another. The computer works fine on electricity, and I find it difficult to justify a contribution to the continued manufacture of what is undoubtedly an environmentally-unfriendly device. Plus, in light of all my criticism of civ, I'd look a right hypocrite if I couldn't even refrain from the purchase of a laptop battery.
improperlyhuman: (dark Mulder)
I called the Super WalMart today. The employee said that they do not allow overnight parking. I had a community services employee offer me transitional housing again yesterday. I told her that I was hoping to live alone. She had someone call me back today. He said that I should apply for state disability, and that I should apply for a VA pension! My incredulity was apparent, even over the phone. I don't qualify for a fucking pension. I tried to fill out a state disability application this evening. There was a required question that I literally had no answer for, so I didn't know what to do. I tried to put nonsense in the text box, but the site wouldn't accept my answer. I'm wondering if it's something that disqualifies me. Well, I will go see this guy next week, but this doesn't solve my problem. These are long-term solutions.

So, my last three chances are:

the local clinic social worker I used to see
the VA social worker, for whom I left a message today
tow the van somewhere and hope no one calls the cops, at least not until the next month when I'll have the money to tow it again

I've had this van towed four times so far this year.

Meanwhile, our downtown area is gentrifying. One of the buildings has been renovated, and undoubtably over-priced studios are being rented out, with preference given to "working artists."

I haven't been sleeping and I've had migraines almost every day.
improperlyhuman: truck tipping over on the highway (tipping truck)
Once again, I was mistaken about what would happen at an appointment I thought was for an ASD evaluation. I have to first apply for services (they have a large range of services besides evaluations), so I was given a long interview and filled out papers that would enable them to access my medical records. I presented my school records. The interviewer wants to talk to my mom. If I'm approved, they will give me an evaluation. She told me that the process could take months, and that I probably wouldn't need an IQ test because I had graduated from high school and college. I said that I would take the test for fun. Seems like a good chance that I will not be approved, because the guidelines are geared towards severely affected people.

My books still haven't arrived and I am very frustrated. I wish there was some way to insert something into these blog posts so that I could make my emotions more real, similar to inserting images and audio. I would insert an emotion file, and anyone who read this could feel the intensity of my frustration. I have been going to the library and taking practice IQ tests this week, but the books suddenly disappeared, so I started studying the LSAT practice books. They have some fun and very interesting logic tests. I missed some of the questions, so I immediately embarked upon a quest to score perfectly.

Sometimes I look at my OkCupid profile and worry that I will be seen as too picky. Then, I look at the profiles in search results and see profiles that read "don't even message me if you're not a vegan," and I'm like, wow. Somebody has a link to a video promoting veganism. Then sometimes, I look at my profile and think that the personality traits I'm displaying are too weird, people will think I have issues, and run away. According to the questions I have answered, OkCupid has rated me WAY more logical than "gay women" my "age," and WAY less romantic than the same. I'm thinking, that probably isn't impressing anyone, lol. Then, I go look at other people's profiles. I have been AMAZED to see the number of people who admit to having mental disorders, not just writing that they have issues, but straight up naming Multiple Personality Disorder, Schizoid PD, and so forth and so on.

I'm repulsed by what seems to be some sort of pattern in the reading preferences on OkCupid. First, there was Chuck Palahuick. I don't fucking know how to spell his last name. EVERYFUCKINGBODY listed him on their profile. "I like blah blah by Chuck Plahuchik." I was just baffled. How is it that all of these people read the same author? I wondered. Now, the It book seems to be something called The Ethical Slut. I have read so many references to this book, I can't even estimate. It's like there's some sort of book bandwagon. A book wagon. Or maybe it's just me! I never read new books, so this is bizarre to me. A new book comes out, stands to reason that lots of people would be reading it at the same tme, because it didn't exist before. I guess. I just find it annoying that so many profiles are so much alike.

I created a mental condition (or rather, "discovered" a pre-existing mental disorder) that I call Social Preoccupation Disorder. Here are the symptoms (so far):

concern with details of social interaction to the point of distraction
thoughts and behavior that are rigidly constrained by social rules (real or imagined)
unconscious and/or extensive non-functional creation of/adherence to social rules
engages in non-physical anti-social behavior (such as lying) to maintain social harmony
pathological lack of individuality
resistance to logical analysis, poorly developed or repressed critical thinking skills
black-and-white thinking (either it's nice or it isn't)
tendency towards self-delusion


People with Social Preoccupation Disorder are widely considered "normal," undoubtedly because the condition seems to be rather common. They care more about whether or not something hurts people feelings than whether or not it is valid or invalid, true or false, likely or unlikely. They will mentally cling to falsehoods if the truth is emotionally painful. They tend to view most situations in social/emotional terms, and will often assume a social or emotional motivation that is not intended by the speaker, writer, etc. Like most personality types, they are unaware that their thinking style is not universal. In technologically advanced societies, they unconsciously know that persuasive arguements must be logically organized, yet they either can not or will not fulfill this requirement due to their strong social-emotional orientation, and thus may appear to be irrational, overly emotionally sensitive, and/or dull-witted despite cognitive ability and education. They may be less likely to study subjects or enter fields that are largely based on logical reasoning skills because they do not value, or have difficulty seeing the point of, work or activities that do not involve social concerns or directly working with people.


It's ten-thirty. I've never stayed in the hospital this late. I'm only half awake right now.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
When I made a post about porn and veganism on the veganpeople community, someone commented to the effect that porn isn't more dangerous than any other job. At the time, I realized straight away that this comment was nonsense, but I couldn't articulate why at the time. That inability bugged me, it always bugs me. People say things that are wrong and I'm horrified that they will continue to navigate life with this wrongness floating around in their heads because of my tongue-tied inability to disabuse them. It's like my intuition skips way ahead of my language skills or something. Yesterday, this thread reoccured to me, and I was able to think of why.

"Any other job" includes everything from archival librarian to front-line soldier. For a comparison between one thing and a group of other things to be meaningful, the members of the group must be relatively uniform with respect to the point of comparison (dangerousness, in this case). Clearly, the group of dangerousness of all jobs excluding acting in porn is far from uniform. You compare acting in porn with a museum curation, porn is way more dangerous. You compare it with being a paratrooper or firefighter, there's not so much of a difference.

I followed up on the shrink's referral to other hospital. I gave a phone intake interview thing today, now I must wait for whoever is in charge to approve or deny an autism evaluation. Things look kind of iffy so far because the interviewer was asking me a bunch of questions that would pertain to so-called "low-functioning" autistics – stuff about special ed, did I finish high school. She said it was "unusual" for an autistic person to not be identified until my age, which DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS all the research I've been reading online about autistic females presenting differently than males, being less obviously autistic, fitting in by copying other children, masking their differences by being co-operative and quiet in school, and so forth and so on. That doesn't even begin to get into masking of symptoms via intelligence. Then again, I recall that she said that girls are being identified quite young these days. In the eighties? Maybe not so much. I hope this isn't going to turn out to be another "you're too high-functioning and successful to be autistic, autism = mental retardation" nonsense.

I received my school records today. As I expected, there is nothing there that would set off alarms; I was a very good student and teachers praised my class citizenship. It was interesting to read, however. I misjudged by a year; I started going to school three months before my eighth birthday. Several times, my teachers mentioned a gift for writing prose, and suggested that I nourish this via daily writing. Well, I didn't do that as a child, and I believe that whatever gift I had has withered considerably. I think I can still crank out a good poem, however.

I've been very interested in improving my mind lately, specifically, my visual spatial and mathematical reasoning skills. I've been worthing through a book on mathematical logic, and my progress has been much slower than I had anticipated. I'm frustrated and feel dumb.

Security

Sep. 29th, 2013 09:25 pm
improperlyhuman: (Default)
There is a different security guard here in the hospital most every single day. Yesterday, I got one that kicked me out. This is only the second time this has happened. I was quite irritated, having not finished my studying for the day. There's no reason to kick me out; I sit here quietly typing on my laptop and reading, bothering no one. I hesitated to come here today, because the same security guard works more than one day in a row sometimes, albeit rarely, and I didn't want to risk anger and frustration because I'm not good at dealing with it. Yesterday, she was on day shift, so I came during what I assume is evening shift to avoid her. All is well. This was the first and only time I've ever seen that security guard, so, hopefully she won't be back.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
I saw yet another shrink yesterday evening, was told yet again that I was a difficult case to diagnose, was put on hold yet again while she confers with the department chief (who had told me over the phone to give this person a try, as if she thought that this person actually had some expertise). The only differences were that I gave way more details about my life, the shrink will be leaving in a couple of weeks (so why assign me to her???) and was (ray of hope) given information about a nearby hospital in which there is a department specialising in ASDs and offering free evaluations to those they accept. I left a message; whoever is in charge of the program will ALSO be going on vacation for the month of October. At least I won't have to worry about paying.

Let's talk about autistic burnout.

There are two or three massively long threads about this on WP:

Autistic person is faking it (primarily socially, but also expending way more energy than she has) for years, makes it to college or even past college to a first or second professional job, then has a kind of massive breakdown: loss of functioning, chronic fatigue, inability to keep up the act, sudden somatic symptoms. Becomes "more autistic." Leads adults who slipped through the cracks in childhood to seek diagnosis.

Sounds like what happened while I was at UCSC! I was constantly mentally tired, yet suffering long-term insomnia, suddenly constipated, failed a class. I've had one, maybe two migraines as a child, but they didn't begin to occur regularly until my first quarted at UCSC. I was faking the hell out of sociability all those years I tutored, and there is no way in hell I could pull that off again. Just plastering a smile on my face takes too much energy, never mind talking. Explains quite well how I accomplished all I did as a youngster, yet can barely handle a part-time job nowadays. Explains quite well why I used to be able to stand being around people, and now can't stand it.

Errands

Sep. 24th, 2013 07:28 pm
improperlyhuman: (dark Mulder)
I exhausted myself running errands today. First, I went to the bank to get money for my psychiatry appointment. Next, I went to my high school to request my school records, despite the fact that they will probably prove useless. Then, I came here to the hospital to fill out a form requesting records from the clinic I normally go to, as per my GPs advice, then made an online appointment with her for the first of next month, since I cannot afford it this month. She and I are going to figure out what to do about my non-carpal tunnel syndrome.

I was looking at my military records yesterday. I should be eligible for VA health benefits. VA is fucking up. I never get called back when I contact them, and I'm so tired of their bureacracy. They're also giving me the run-around over my medical records. First, someone told me that they're in the hospital on the base where I was stationed, then I called back and was told that they were in St. Louis, then the same person told me they're at my old unit, then the records dept. at my unit says they've been sent to Randolph AFB. Why Randolph AFB, I'm wondering.

Speaking of bureacracies, I haven't been able to get in touch with my vocational rehab counselor for about two months, so now I have to call the main number.

The shrink I saw while attending UCSC has retired, and may not have my records. I've been waiting ten days to hear back from her. I'm so tired of WAITING for people to get back to me. They don't actually care if I get what I need or not. My errand lists last forever because that's how long it takes to get things resolved...because I'm waiting on other people all the damned time.

Also, my military medical exam prior to enlistment says that I have abnormal feet.
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
Last night and this afternoon, I watched an excellent movie called Looper. I was happy to finally have found a modern movie that isn't trash and full of nothing but special effects. It co-starred handsome Joseph Gordon-Levitt and my ex Bruce Willis (my very first celebrity crush, age 6. I used to faithfully watch the 80s' show Moonlighting.)

The movie was great up to the very end. Instead of allowing his future self to kill the kid, the main character killed himself. It was a huge let-down. Anti-climactic, even. The kid was creepy and annoying, and I would rather have seen him die. I was touched by Bruce Willis' character and wanted him to get his life and his memories back.

One of the features of the movie were characters that seemed more real than the characters in most mainstream movies I've seen. They were not all portrayed as cold-blooded killers with mechanically precise skills. There was one scene that was particularly moving, but I'm not quite sure why. Joe, the main character, was with a prostituted woman, but he didn't want sex (or rape, rather, since "sex" with prostitutes is economic coercion). He said, "my mother used to run her fingers through my hair, like this," and then he took the woman's hand and showed her. She kept trying to take off his clothes and reach between his legs, but he kept stopping her. Then she was like, "this is what you want," and she ran her hands through his hair some more. It reminds me of something, but I can't remember. I have the emotion, but not a picture of the event that caused it. It is something about hair. Or maybe it is Rebecca.

One night when I went to Rebecca's house, she was having some sort of physical discomfort. The way she was moving, the way she asked me to touch her, her bones seemed like they were out of place or something. I gave her a sort of back and shoulder massage. She said something like, this feels so good, I don't even need an orgasm. She was not facing me, so she did not see the look of surprise and horror on my face. I was like, "Don't say that! I ate my Wheaties before I came over here; I can manage both."

I read what people are like on WrongPlanet and I'll be like, "that's weird; I don't do that." Then I will remember or notice that I am like that. Someone was like, "I read dictionaries when I was a kid." I must have had a temporary lapse in memory, because it didn't ring any bells for me. In my mind, I had a picture of a weird little braniac kid hunched over a huge book. Later, I remembered reading dictionaries as a kid. I was that weird braniac kid. This is probably how I learned a good chunk of my vocabulary. I can distinctly remember learning the word "mishap" from flipping through one of the family dictionaries. There was a picture of a child with a comically huge head falling off of a bike. I can still see it in my mind, but it's not as clear as it used to be. I also used the dictionary to memorize capitals and the Greek alphabet.

For the longest time, I was like, "hmm, echolalia, I wonder what that is like." Last night, while I was waiting to fall asleep, I caught myself in the act. I said, "I dunne know, Charles," which is a line spoken by Moira McTaggert to Charles Xavier in an episode of the X-Men animated series, which I used to watch as a child. She's a Scotswoman, and I said it with the exact same accent and intonation. I've said it countless times, for no reason. I've done the same thing with commercials. All the foreign language audio material I've listened to over the years, oh damn. There are a ton of phrases that I've remembered and randomly repeated over the years. A few of them, I don't quite remember what they mean, even. They just tumble out of my mouth at random times. In Taco Bell several days ago, I repeated someone's order without even realizing what I was saying until after I'd said it. Fortunately, I did it under my breath. This is echolalia!
improperlyhuman: (Default)
I had an appointment in the Physical Medicine - Rehab dept. a couple of hours ago. As my GP recommended, I went to have my hands, wrists, and arms checked out. I was a bit surprised that my co-pay was fifty dollars. I paid twenty-five and had them bill me for the rest. The nurse had me soak my hands in hot water while I waited for the technician. He came in, marked some measurements on my hands and arms, put gel on my skin, then used some sort of two-pronged probe to deliver electric shocks that traveled up and down my forearms, from hands to elbows. It didn't hurt. It was interesting and kind of cool at first, but the stronger shocks towards the end of the session made my hands and fingers jerk and were annoying.

He said everything looked good, and that he saw no evidence of carpal tunnel. I was like, what the hell, why am I in pain, why are my hands tingling and numb then? He's going to send the results to my GP, so I should hear from her about what to do next. I probably won't hear anything and will have to call. What the hell is wrong if not carpal tunnel?

One of the chiefs of the psychiatry department responded to my message with a phone call. I asked her if I could get a referral to an out-of-network specialist without seeing another random staff member. Apparently, I was not randomly assigned, the doctor I will see has experience with ASDs, and is therefore "worth the wait," as the chief put it. But experience with adults and females? Probably not. I will go to the appointment, however, especially since it's only a week and a half away now. I'm wondering: if this doctor was there before, why did they assign me to a fucking post-doc? Was I a guinea pig?

If this doctor says the same crap that the post-doc said, I am going to be pissed. I want this seach for expertise to be over. She'd better test me at least.



Now I have a name for it: visual overload.
improperlyhuman: truck tipping over on the highway (tipping truck)
I got a free one-day DVD rental coupon from redbox, so, against my better judgment, I used it to rent/check out Skyfall, which I watched last night and finished today because my laptop ran out of charge before the movie was over last night. Somehow, it was not quite what I had expected. I was upset that M was killed off. I was also creeped the fuck out that M said "orphans always make the best recruits" before she died. I'll bet they do. Also, people whose hair color does not match their complexion, such as the villian, are creepy and wrong.

I got the coupon because of a previous rental. I watched Cloud Atlas. Wow. One thing that intrigued me was the fact that, in NeoSeoul or however it's spelled, the proliferation of the epicanthic fold. There was a guy of clearly African descent with a fucking epicanthic fold. What?! What kinds of gene-mixing has to go down for someone to have dark brown skin and an epicanthic fold? That's what I want to know. I'm thinking someone has to have generations and generations of some sort of Asian ancestors before they inherit the epicanthic fold, but the dark brown skin gene or genes or whatever is/are going to disappear along that line of descent. I don't know enough about biology. There is too much knowledge afoot in these modern times, and the crappy American education system is not doing anything to ease the pain. They merely give you a list of "facts" to memorize, but I can't memorize the "what" without the "why." "What" gets filed under "Possible Bullshit" until I can find out why, and if explanations are not soon forthcoming, I simply forget the "what". This is why I know next to nothing about physics. Even the stuff that I do "know" is not known but merely memorized, for I cannot say that I know it if I do not know why it is true.

Also, I liked Somni's rescuer's feet for some reason, which is strange. I don't generally like feet at all because they are weird and obscene.

Again

Jul. 9th, 2013 01:30 pm
improperlyhuman: (not queer)
Insomnia has been killing me these past few days. I've been falling asleep in the early to mid-afternoons. It takes me up to 5 hours to fall asleep at night. I don't what's going on. I have been exercising less often; maybe that has something to do with it. I've also been fucking up my blood sugar by skipping breakfast and stuff. I haven't been so hungry, and haven't had the energy to cook. Having to cook every single meal from scratch is beginning to get to me. I'm going to go pick up some herbal tea to treat the insomnia.

My brain is increasingly foggy. I'm too tired to think, which is irritating because thinking is damn near all I do. Not being able to do it leaves my day rather empty.

The questionnaire had not arrived in the mail yesterday, so I'm going to go pick it up at the psych dept. after I leave here (which is conveniently located next to the grocery store where I hope to get the tea). I like to fill out questionnaires because I'm vain and madly in love with myself and fascinated with myself and love to think about myself. I like being this way; I think it's great. Also, questionnaires are kind of like tests, and I like tests.

I was cutting my hair yesterday when the clippers ran out of charge. I meant to take them downtown to charge along with my cellphones when I went to check my mail, but I forgot them. I searched around the van for them, found them, set them down on the seat, became occupied with putting some other stuff in my backpack, and left the clippers on the seat. I've come to notice that I do a lot of absent-minded shit. I put stuff down and forget where I've put it only 5 seconds later. So I'm discreetly charging them here in the hospital while I betake of the limitless bounty that is the Internet.

I watched part of Lierre Keith's youtube video series on liberalism vs. radicalism while I was in too much of a daze to do anything else yesterday. She mentioned something about resistance and rebellion arising out of alienation, but that liberal movements tended to get stuck there as part of a general adolescentization, and that one must move beyond alienation and make common cause with others in order to Get Shit Done. I felt shame because I think maybe I have been stuck in alienation for a looooong time, and I don't see myself coming out of it to make common cause with anyone on anything anytime soon (at least not without a great deal of effort on my part), resistance-wise or otherwise. But I'm not sure that I'm actually stuck in alienation; maybe the alienation just exists alongside of a general disinterest in people and the fact that my skills do not lie in teamwork. I kind of pictured myself as the Lone Operator who silently appears to take orders, works alone bombing/sniping/looking awesome in a black uniform, and withdraws back into the Bat Cave until the next mission transmission, never showing up at the Eco-Terrorism picnics or the Femi-Nazi potlucks. Common cause without the mingling. The intellectual togetherness without the fatiguing, overwhelming personal togetherness.

I see now that my withdrawal is rather more extreme than I thought of it. I didn't even perceive it as an over-arching pattern of withdrawal so much as a series of incidents of self-protection, avoidance of over-stimulation.

I didn't always used to be this way, or not quite this extreme. I was introverted, but I was more open to people when I was young. I could stand their noise. I think I began to feel violated by their noise and presence once I began to feel alienated from them. I thought of all people As One before, then I replaced that model with one in which there was a huge gulf between me and other people, not necessarily as a group, sometimes different gulfs between me and different individual people. I couldn't think of us as all one of a kind anymore.
improperlyhuman: (thinking)
We had to wait outside the barracks around midnight our last night of basic training. Buses picked us up and we began the long ride from San Antonio, Texas, to Biloxi, Mississippi. The driver, a retired Marine, had to continually remind us that we needn't call him sir. I ended up seated next to a guy with the improbable name of Fleming. Besides telling me his name, he said almost nothing aside from offering me some of his chocolate after our second or third meal stop. We rolled along bland country roads for half a day.

We arrived at Keesler Air Force Base on a sunny afternoon in mid-September. We were lined up, greeted as PINGers (Person In Need of Guidance), and told some of the tech school rules. The bespectacled members were allowed to don our regular eyewear, but I had broken mine, and so, embarrassingly, I was stuck with my BCGs until I could get to see an optomotrist. We re-hefted our heavy duffel bags and were marched off in the heat to our respective barracks based on job specialty. The term "barracks" hardly did justice to the hotel-like dwelling I was assigned to. The group of three buildings, the Triangle, were three stories high, well-lit, clean as only new buildings could be, and surrounded by perfectly green, immaculately maintained lawns that were interspersed with broad walkways.

My roommate was named Kimberly. She was from the Bahamas. She told me she had played soccer since junior high school, and her perfect, toned legs backed her up on this score. Our names were on little colored cards slipped into plastic holders on the hallway wall next to our door. The colors marked our phase level: as PINGers, or Phase 1, we were to be in uniform at all times outdoors and we had a 10 pm curfew. She and I left our baggage in the room and went to check out the dining hall. It turned out to be more like a restaurant than any chow hall I had ever seen or imagined. It was necessarily quite large, clean and bright, and the food was delicious.

Everyone in our building had a technical specialty, most relating to aircraft. The two top floors and one of the three ground floor hallways were men's areas; the women took up but two hallways on the ground floor. The other building down the walkway was all male. One entered through glass double doors and found oneself in a small, circular court-like area, at the center of which stood a sort of 24-hour command center called CQ. CQ was one of the constant didactic displays of security-consciousness that permeated military education. Beyond, the entrance to each hallway was attended by a seated airman whose job it was to check the ID of everyone who wished to enter. I would soon learn that this position was given as a punishment. All windows were to remain closed and locked at all times. One of the two people who presided at CQ was to walk completely around the building and "security check" all ground level windows each hour.

Week two rolled around, and Saturday morning, we were allowed the chance to "phase up" to wearing civies and an 11 pm curfew. I had barely passed the running portion of the physical exam needed to graduate from basic training, and I was hardly surprised that I failed my phase run, which I was certain was actually longer than the two miles it was supposed to be. So, I walked about in my uniform while my roommate and fellow recent arrivals phased up.

I woke up between 4 and 4:30 am on school days so that I could get to the dining hall and eat without having to wait in line. Kim preferred to sleep in and sometimes didn't even have breakfast.

Both she and I were GAC (Aircraft Guidance and Control) specialists. There were also ComNav (Communications and Navigation), the RADAR people, and EDub (Electronic Warfare), who had top secret textbooks. We all had the same initial training: about a month and a half of basic electronics. The students from our two buildings lined up before sunrise, groggily listened to the morning announcements at parade rest, then marched off to classes across the base in huge formations of about 60 airmen apiece, all with black book bags swinging at our sides. I was lulled by the regular thump of boots hitting concrete and the dark base roads that offered little visible details. I found it impossible to tell how far we marched each morning. We arrived at class around six am. Class leaders were chosen by age. The leader lined us up and marched us out for lunch and breaks, and marched us back in afterwards. We sat at long tables with folders of text that were classified secret and tried desperately not to fall asleep. Giant styrofoam cups of coffee from the food truck outside soon became staples for many.

The courses were split up into blocks that ranged in length from 4 or 5 days to two weeks, each culminating in a pass or fail multiple choice "block test." There was rarely any homework or other outside assignments. Class size was about 15 people, or at least, they started off that way. Failing a block was called washing. Anyone who washed twice would have to be reassigned to a totally different job. I was bored by our first block because I had already learned the material: DC current and basic circuit components. It came with a slightly more interesting laboratory component in which we learned to use multimeters and were regularly admonished take off our metal jewelry to avoid electric shock. The instructor had metaphors for everything. To this day, I remember that capacitors pass high frequency current and block low frequency current, and vice versa for inductors, because big freaks can step over the gap, but little freaks fall in, while big freaks get stuck in the coil and little freaks can squirm through.



Kim was excited about our first electronics course. She shocked herself three times after taking apart our alarm clock.

Basic training having afforded us little time or leisure, the nuanced and enriching cultural exchanges inevitable in military life began to take place in tech school. People from the Midwest were teased for referring to soda as "pop." Californians were singled out for saying "dude" all the time. New Yorkers got grief over their accents. I got word that there was, at some point, a lively debate about whether or not "pop" actually existed. Then, there was the curious Airman Dombeck, an Englishman who had for some reason elected to join the U.S. Air Force instead of the British military.

After class each day, we lined up outside the school, marched back to the barracks, and, unless we were one of the old-timers who had phased up to level 5 and were not so obligated, changed our clothes for PC. Just as in basic training, PC alternated between running and aerobics each day. The running seemed to last forever, and there were superiors posted regularly along the path to make sure we didn't walk. There was a small cadre of guys, mostly troublemakers, who endeavored to do the next best thing, a task that had so far proven impossible: run so slowly that they completed no more than a single lap in the time alloted for PC. I joined them, of course. I never made it. I was always over one lap.

Punishments ranged from the 12-hour, which our commanding officers gave out like anti-candy, to the cryptically named Map Tour, which was designed to re-create conditons of military prison. The people on Map Tours marched around, not in uniform, but in their sweats, worn inside-out to signify the disgrace they brought upon the military. They did some heavy working out, as well, but most of their treatment was a mystery to me.

Fall arrived and the mornings became surprisingly cold, somewhere between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If a single person in our marching formation had forgotten her gloves, none of us could wear gloves, and I had several mornings of arriving to class with painfully frozen hands. I had run into Fleming again at some point, and he sought me out as a tutor when he was in danger of washing a second time. I learned that he was 27, which I found curious and awkward, most everyone else there being in their late teens or early twenties. Kimberly had gotten permission from her guardian and signed up at 17. I was closing in on 20 myself. Fleming and I discovered that we shared the tactic of thinking about sex to stay awake in class. I don't know how it worked for him, but going through several pairs of underwear a day made it rather not worth it to me after a while. He ended up washing anyways. Besides my roommate, he was almost the only person there I knew by first name.

After basic electronics, GAC people began attending a new set of courses on campus to study general aircraft systems. The class was smaller, a few of us having washed, the rest having gone off to different courses for their respective jobs. The class was further split between A and B shift. We eagerly awaited the details of this assignment, because being on B shift meant not having to be to class until 9 am. I was assigned to A shift. The new B shifters taunted us about all the sleep they were able to get.

We were instructed to purchase color pencils, and thus began a soon-to-be standard classroom activity of tracing electric signals on huge butcher paper-sized schematic diagrams. Hydraulic systems, autopilot computer wiring, navigation computer wiring. It was like solving an endless series of mazes. Instruction did not last the whole day in this school, and we met up with other classes in a sort of study hall in the afternoon, our wiring diagrams fighting for space on the shared desks.

Kim was hanging out with a different guy every weekend. I didn't have any friends, just a bunch of guys I hung out or chatted with from time to time. There was the quiet, inscrutable Richard, who had strangely darting eyes and told me his sexually was undefined because he was interested in men, women, and animals. There was sleepy-eyed Jason, who rarely smiled or said anything. There was this guy whose name I couldn't remember, who ran with me before I got caught up in going as slowly as possible, and regularly imitated the disabled South Park character, screaming "Timmy!" during PC. Then, there was this Nigerian guy from upstairs. I thought it would be interesting to get to know someone from a different culture, so I invited him to the movies. I guess I got the story mixed up, because I came to find out that it was his grandmother who was from Nigeria. He was from Cleveland. I was a little disappointed, but decided not to cancel. We took the bus to the theater next to the mall. The movie was a comedy. I didn't find it funny, but he guffawed regularly. He must have thought we were on a date, because he put his arm around me at some point. I removed it. After we left the theater, I never saw or spoke to him again.

LeCare, a guy who had suffered a heart attack in basic training at the tender age of 25, invited me to his apartment for Thanksgiving. He was married, so he didn't have to live in the barracks. People seemed freaked out by him, although I couldn't see why. He was a white guy married to a Native American woman, and I was warned not to go to his place because they could "literally play cowboys and Indians."

Christmas break rolled around. I didn't want to spend the money for an airplane ticket or deal with the hassel of traveling all the way back to California, so I stayed on base. I thought I would finally be able to relax, but the commanding officer just assigned the lot of us an endless rotation of 12-hours and CQ duty over the holidays. I was on the schedule more than anyone else. I complained, but nothing was changed. I was actually glad when vacation was over. The nearly empty Triangle was creepy and depressing.

Kim returned from vacation with the most annoying alarm clock ever. It crowed like a rooster. Why she wanted a second alarm clock in the room, I had no idea.

In January, CQ gave me a note from my older half-sister when I returned from class. I went into the phone room and called her. I was afraid one of my younger siblings was dead, but she told me my sperm donor had suddenly become sick and died of diabetes. She was concerned about me, but I felt fine. Better him than someone I actually cared about, I thought. Some days later, a commanding officer summoned me from class and asked me if I wanted to go home. I told him that we had not been close, and that I would rather stay.

Kimberly was outgoing, pretty, and constantly chased by guys. One of the guys she had hung out with (on but a single occasion, most likely) gave me my first skateboard. I had joined a brass band, and I was out on the dark walkway near the Reservist building nearly until curfew learning how to skate every weeknight except for rehearsal nights, and quite a bit on Saturdays as well. I was hitting it so hard that I ended up giving myself tendinitis. I presented my doctor's note to my bandleader, a wiry old Master Sargeant with glasses and a lively Southern drawl, but he made me march in the Mardi Gras parade anyhow. Marching down the street in the hot Lousiana sun, our uniforms embellished with strangling felt ascots, in some poor-looking town I had never heard of, Slidell, with tendinitis. Not fun.

Kim came back from New Orleans upset that somebody had caught her on camera showing her breasts after she had resisted the tradition for nearly the entire day.

I had missed my first physical therapy appointment for my ankle. This earned me a 12-hour. The 12-hour was standard psychological torture. One sat in a chair at the entrance to an appropriate sex hallway and checked IDs. For twelve hours. There were half-hour breaks for two meals and one had to snag a fellow airman to take up the post in order to get bathroom breaks. The rest of the time was spent sitting or standing at the door.

With my doctor's note proving I was unable to run, I was able to "waiver up," first to Phase 3, which allowed me the freedon to leave the base, then to Phase 4, which eliminated my curfew. I was making $800 a month and had almost no expenses. I completed the small amount of shopping I needed at the BX, taking the single bus that circled the base, an old vechicle with no bell to ring. Desired stops were signaled by yelling, "next stop!" Around the time I phased up to 4, I began to spend some of the shitloads of money I had sitting in the bank, first on CDs on base, then on new clothes from the mall. Getting to the mall required a long bus ride. The nearest stop was way the hell out of the Triangle, at the edge of the older, more ghetto barracks. They didn't even have microwaves in their rooms out there, but I had sampled their small, dark little dining hall with Richard and found the food very good. For the first time, I ran into Marines, and I was somewhat surprised at how normal they seemed to be. Everyone knows Marines are crazy. They're either crazy enough to join, or don't really know what they are getting into and end up driven crazy by their training.

The residents of the barracks across the way, the third dorm in the Triangle, were known simply as Admin. They were training to be paper pushers, office workers. Their training lasted about 6 weeks. Ours lasted upwards of 6 months, up to a year for some whose courses had been delayed. Needless to say, Admin were somewhat resented. During their outdoor assemblies, you could hear in their voices that they still had energy and team spirit. Us...not so much. We were undoubtedly more remarkable for our behavioral issues and No-Doze addictions. I personally knew at least two or three of us who had made it to Map Tour duty. One of my fellow airmen from basic training was pregnant and didn't know the father. Everyone had been assigned a 12-hour at least once; I'd had it twice. I think our entire building had been re-pinged back to Phase 1 for at least one weekend.

As my second to last block came to a close, the backshop GAC people prepared to ship out to their permanent base assignments. They would work at the computer level, rather than the aircraft system level, and didn't require the final course. A guy named Jeremiah, a classmate from Kansas who somehow always appeared to be drunk, wanted to celebrate. He said he would treat me to a nice restaurant. I showed up at his building on time, but he had overslept. He ended up taking me to McDonald's and introducing me to Cat Stevens.

The final block rolled around. We were put in teams of two. We arrived at a small, dim, chilly hangar each morning for seven days. There was a very small passenger plane, doomed never to fly again due to the untold destruction that generations of students had wrought upon its entrails. There was no lecture. The instructor basically broke something in one of the aircraft systems for each team, then set us loose to diagnose the problem while he sat at his desk. We manoeuvered around the tiny cockpit and around each other. My partner was a big guy who said that he was glad that I had small fingers.

We all passed. We received certificates, but there was no ceremony. I made arrangements to return to California. Kim had washed one block, so she would still be around for a while. We said good-bye and agreed to write letters. I landed at the Sacramento airport and my older sisters picked me up at about 1 am.
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