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Shower Daze

“Those dreaded Wednesdays and Saturdays, also known as shower days, I hate them” – Shower Daze, NOFX, Ribbed (1991).

Sometimes when I try to explain a part of my neurosis I can see the change in Windy’s eyes. Not scared or about to runaway, but that she really can’t understand it. Which I understand. Which is probably why it feels so good to write it out. No one looking back at me. No stressing out over how anyone thinks of what I am saying. So here is the problem with showers.

Actually, the problem isn’t showers, it’s bathrooms. Bathrooms, closed bedrooms, long hallways, etc. One of my sensory issues is sound. Considering I make so much of it you would think this would not be the case. It’s not all sound. Mostly loud unexpected sounds, higher pitched whines and echoes. And, fuck, does Kadie love making echoes.

While I have Z-E-R-O problems with fingernails on chalkboards, the absolute worst noise in the world, for me, is nail cutting.  Finger and toes, I am an equal opportunity hater. I have to cut my toenails under running water in a full bath. The tub of water dulls the sound and the running water cuts it off almost completely. I have a nasty habit of fingernail biting. Well, chewing. Quietly taking the nails off one at a time, like reverse interrogation.

And it’s not just the nail cutting. I don’t like any of the sounds I make in a bathroom. I don’t care about others. Bodily noises are just biological reactions. I mean I can hear myself shaving and I obsess over the sounds, find patterns, break them, try to hurry-which makes it louder, try to go slow to be quieter and all along I know that no one can hear anything over the running water. I cut my nails, brush my teeth and do all my shaving (head, face…other) in the shower. Under running water and the fear that everyone can hear everything I am doing. I have never thought about what anyone would think if they could hear me. I just freak out that I think they can.

If I know they can here me, if someone is home and in a room next to the bathroom, it’s worse. If I am in a public restroom all bets are off. I work in an office building and we are but one office. Each floor shares a restroom and our floor is all “Professional” offices. But I will spend my entire lunch break in the restroom stall until there is no one in there just so I can take a whiz without fear that someone is going to hear me do it. And I just sat there for 30 minutes listening to all of them.

So I go to work unshaven. I use excuses like I am tired, busy or right after I do something else. You know the drill. If I get home and no one in the rooms adjacent to the bathroom are home, I will take an extra but unfortunately my neurosis leaves me with only two days a week where I know I have to get in there. No matter who hears, no matter who might possibly yell (in my mind) “Hey keep that fucking teeth brushing to a minimum”.  It is a painful experience where I often try to figure out what I can put off until next time to get out of earshot now.

But if we ever meet in person, don’t hesitate to shake my hand, I wash my arms up to my elbows all the time. Just please, no tickling. It hurts physically (but that’s another post).

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All Hallow’s Eve

“Halloween is my kind of a holiday. Not like those other stupid holidays. I don’t get pine needles in my paws. There’s no dumb bunnies, no fireworks, no relatives, just candy. Boom, you go out, you get candy. It’s as simple as that.” – Garfield, Garfield In Disguise, 1985

I have always enjoyed Halloween. Even as an adult , I don’t mind being the only one dressing up at work. I almost always shave my beard for my costumes and when I had hair, I would shave that too. Now that I am bald, I like wearing wigs with my costumes.

I made it through another office party without having to socialize too much or be around the booze (I’m James and I’m an alcoholic). It really doesn’t bother me when others drink but work is not a “safe spot” for me, unlike Porkchop Studios where we record the podcast. I’ve been the only sober one in that place packed with people, because it is a safe place. In my mind or my heart, I really can’t say. But work is not a safe place. I am not comfortable there. I can be fired from work for something as silly as my religious non-beliefs. It’s happened before. I have to exercise a level of self-control that causes physical pain. Not holding in a sneeze pain, rocking back and forth because the only other option is too jump up and have a drink kind of pain. But I get through. Each office party is a little victory.

Windy made our costumes, as always. They were amazing, as always. We wanted to do a family theme but with her hospitalization, my FMLvAcation and trying to make AMAZING costumes, well, she ran out of time. She didn’t realize how much work she was going to put in to each one. Mine is up in the attic, awaiting next year when she can go out with me. I’ll even buy a bus ticket for it and wear it at work. I won’t have to shave my beard or wear a wig. It will be a constant reminder of the rewards of my little victories. I probably won’t even notice the booze.

Costumes by Winna

Costumes by Winna

(Imagine driving home and seeing the two of us crossing the street in the middle of the night! I walked behind her almost the whole time.)

“I’ll be awful sometimes, Weakened to my knees. But I’ll learn to get by on little victories” – Matt Nathanson, Little Victories

Flipping The Switch

I’ve been at this for a week now, being on the “positive path”. Right now it feels like a backlog of anger and sadness and everything else I am trying desperately not to act on instinctively, impulsively.

Kadie seemed to have some issues and I am starting to get the feeling one of them is me. We are like magnets facing the same way: we really want nothing more then to stick together and take on the world…but we can’t seem to stop pushing each other away. But that’s a blog post for a different day.

It has only been a week but I am constantly having to stop myself and remind myself that there is a new way. One of the setbacks, especially this weekend, is that I am not what one would call a “pre-thinker”. If I thought about things before I said them I probably would have a completely different life right now. As an ass clown with a mouth the size of a small elephant, here I am. I find myself walking away from conversations, sometimes mid-sentence. More often though, they are fights. Or arguments. Or something else I have probably started. If not started, I most certainly added my fuel to whoever’s fire.

But less and less these thoughts are coming after the fact and now during. I think this is a good thing except for the complete derailment of any previous thoughts and actions as the flip on the positive path gets flipped and I find myself at the next cross roads. The switch always ends up in my hands. I don’t always know what to do or say. Sometimes I apologize for the most smallest the smallest things or something I know I don’t owe an apology for. This is not me trying to be apologetic. This is me knowing (or at least thinking) I owe an apology…even if I don’t know why.

I don’t pick up on facial/social cues very well so I can’t always be sure when or where someone became offended or angered or bothered by what I’ve done. By a certain point even I can tell when someone is upset but figuring out why, or how they got there, that’s harder. Unless you breakdown crying on your knees right when I said it, I probably don’t get that it hurt you. If you tell me it hurt you I still might not get it. I’ll understand the words but I won’t always pick up the meaning. Maybe that’s why I have always like words: I can put it bluntly enough even I can understand it.

I’m trying to be better about the words I use and listening to the words of others. I gave up on facial cues a long time ago. I can usually discern three of the big six: anger, happiness and sadness. But even the big six can hold me up (I don’t even know how to look disgusted without thinking I look angry).

Psychology professor Brian Knutson had a portion of his piece “Facial Expressions of Emotion Influence Interpersonal Trait Inferences” published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior (Fall ’96). It discussed the further possibility of not only reading a person’s emotional state from their facial expressions but also their personal traits and immediate actions. It seemed like facial palm-reading to me. I read it with all the believability of science fiction. But I guess if I can suspend my beliefs enough for lightsabers and backwards talking puppets, I can suspend them for the well being of myself and those around me and flip that switch as many times as it takes in a day. Better to read the writing on the walls a little late then the expression on your face never.

It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy

I am working without a net today people. Podcast-style! I usually write or record myself talking as a base to start with as my mouth usually runneth over and I am always in need of an editor. But I was up late charting a new Boba Fett pattern by hand and have not found the time yet so here we go.

As I am only a couple days into the new positivity kick I am experiencing some strange disturbances in the force. As so many little events and non-events in our lives are tied together it is impossible to say if they are all related to the positive change or not. But perhaps how I handle them has.

I’ve mentioned being a little “aspurger-y” before and that’s kind of hard when you ride the bus. Random people talking, people possibly brushing up against you or touching you while sitting next to you. A lot of this I can avoid by being bald, bearded, wearing a hoodie and cross stitching. I think everyone assumes I picked it up in prison (while there is a Freudian analogy to be made there, that’s not how it happened). One thing I can’t fight against as well is seat stealing. I know the buses don’t have assigned seating but I ride from the first stop on the line to the end and then from the start to the next to last stop. Especially in the morning it is usually the same crowd, most of which I have ridden with for nearly two years without saying a word. But on the way home it is busy, often crowded. As I said I usually still manage to sit alone.

I had a helluva time as the girl in front of me went and sat in my seat yesterday as we boarded the bus. I couldn’t stitch because I needed to put in the previously mentioned work. I didn’t growl or bark (both public problems I have) and I didn’t have to get off the bus and wait for the next one. Talk about fucked up, in previous situations I have had to wait for the next bus. Since it is not my “regular” bus I don’t care where I sit. But yesterday I sat there, behind this girl, telling myself I can just stick it out and get home – which I did! A big step for me, even if I did take my seat back the second she got off the bus. Progress!

Decisions, Decisions

(Written Yesterday, Wednesday October 23, 2013)

It has been a weird day. I have a friend who is kinda a hippy. Or at least what I think of as a modern hippy – not a hipster. He’s all about free love, happiness and positivity. I’m usually all about being a counter-weight to all of that. We used to podcast together and before, during and after he would try to pump me full of positive thoughts like a farmer pumps a chicken full of steroids. Yum!

Today I woke up infected by the relative good mood at home lately. Windy had been under my intensive care nearly two weeks THIS MONTH while I was home on FMLA. It was a nightmare. There have been other things too, but the regular kind of things (finance, jobs, life, etc) and I have been falling more and more into where I was a few months ago and it was hard enough climbing out of that hole the first time. But the last couple of days, she has gotten up, made the best and the most of the day and done her best to push through with as little-to-no-bitching as possible, and being stuck with me is enough to give anyone enough to bitch about.

So today I thought what if all those little posts Rooster and the other hippies make about happiness being a choice are right? What if that really is all you have to do? It really is and it is not. Follow me:

Rule numero uno was no bitching on Facebook, and I don’t think I have. Second was don’t bitch at Windy when you talk to her on the phone just because you aren’t bitching on Facebook. I also refused to sit still at work, instead of mulling about, shuffling paper I came in and did what I needed to do. I didn’t let my lack of tools slow me down on my current cross stitch project and I am working on a big post for my previous project. No playing with your phone and checking emails and status updates all day.

For my efforts, my work day flew by despite the fact I am a walking pile of problems and had nothing to “play” with. I am not friendly or outgoing in my day to day life because my brain chemistry is not constant and if I say hello to you today you may think it is an ongoing thing and try to say hi in the halls tomorrow, at which point I will be a different person and either start crying or try to beat you up. I had a coworker approach me from behind and say hi just because she didn’t remember seeing me in a while (which is accurate). I actually did have another coworker say hi in passing in the hall! These people know the rules and they know I am better off alone but for some reason today they wanted to say hi. I stitched in the office lunch room and ended up discussing quilting with my direct supervisor and how great it is that embroidery gives “us” time to think with one of the Ladies of Finance where I work.

But the one that caught me the most of guard was the “Bless You”. I don’t say bless you to hardly anyone. First because it is a religious saying regarding the plague and dates back to 540 a.d.. Also, I sneeze 3-5 times, EVERY time. So bless you obviously doesn’t work. I say it to Windy and my daughters because A: I want my daughters to be nicer people then I am and B: They really are the only three people I care about being blessed, for any reason. And no one but them says it to me. I will look a coworker right in the eyes and say nothing before I say “bless you”. But today I sneezed at my desk and Sharon said bless you. I sneeze all the time and you know when it’s me. And I still got blessed.

As I am writing this I don’t know how the day will end. My teeth and back still hurt, my situations have not changes and per a conversation with Windy this afternoon, it is possible the positive outlook may kill me before the day is over. So I thought I would get this out while the getting was good:

Damn it, Chris. It took longer then realizing Carly wanted me to use a plate but it really is a decision. I will try to make it more.

Reaching New Heights

I remember being on the bus in March of 2012 and reading a tweet from one of the “Quotable Quotes” accounts that I follow. I don’t remember which account but I remember the quote:

A Year From Now You’ll Wish You Had Started Today – Karen Lamb

I can’t tell you the date but I know it was March 2012 because I was on the bus, fresh from a week-long training in Arizona and within my first few days of my (then) new job. I was full of hope and optimism. I remember thinking about some of the various projects I was generally not working on or only half-assing. My Vader cross stitch and Han Stitched First blog, among them. So many things that actually matter: family, school, the house. There was a lot, and like my optimism in my return to the insurance industry, they faded from memory almost as quickly as they came.

I thought about these things again in March 2013. Sitting on the bus to work and reading the same quote. I had probably seen in a couple of times in the intervening 12 months but remembering being there and realizing that I was still thinking about the same things, it hurt. It crushed me. “Things” had been on my mind a long time before I read the quote in 2012, to realize the absolute truth in the quote broke my spirit. I wished I had started anything the year before.

Not long after Rosalilium announced her Blog Every Day In May event and I tried to take part. Considering I had a day job vacation, a trip to Disneyland and only missed a few of the days, I thought it was a resounding success. But I stopped. I was still trying to balance blog and podcast. I don’t think that is an issue anymore, or at least not right now.

I also remember thinking about Han Stitched First, my Star Wars-themed needlework blog. It had fallen into such a lapse that I lost the .com and it became a .worpress again. But HSF is a source of pride for me. A big one. It started a couple years back when I had a different personal blog and thought that at the time I would do a different Star Wars inspired cross stitch a month for a year. I would call the series, Han Stitched First.

I’m a big fan of SpriteStitch.com and realized I had never seen a Star Wars needlework site. Craft sites, fan sites, and all kinds of sites but nothing specific to needlework. My exact thought was “Someone should make that kind of a site”. A couple of weeks later, after trolling the internets to be sure someone else wasn’t already doing it, I started the site/blog/web page.

HSF is the site I wanted to visit every day. I wanted to see Star Wars needlework, I wanted to be inspired by what others with my same interests were doing. It still needs some work but this week will be the 100th post and that says a lot. I’ll be posting my Vader piece finally as the big One-Zero-Zero and I am truly excited to have reached a milestone with the blog and with Vader. I’ll thank everyone who has ever visited the blog and/or ever submitted a piece because I have not done 100 cross stitches (or quilts or scarves) and each of them make me realize that HSF has a place. Even if it’s only for the same 50 people every day. They are totally worth it.

So start something positive today. I’m sure that next October 23rd you will be really glad you did.

Ailments

I have been home for a week on FMLA, or as I like to call it my FMLvAcation, as it eats up your vacation time and personal holidays. Which is not me complaining. I am greatful that I had the time and that the option exists to be able to use it in an emergency and draw my regular paycheck. But I have been home for a week, after Windy was in the hospital for 5 days. It feels like the calm between storms. Her primary is a shitty general practitioner who specializes in Medi-care payments and questionable office help. Windy currently has an injection line directly into her heart, which someone thought I would be qualified to give another human being medication they need to live. So far so good. But now it needs to come out and I have a bad feeling she is going to get another trip to the hospital today. Which may be for the best. I don’t know if I would want Dr. McDirty to infect her after the week we have had keeping her lines clean and sterile. Sigh.

The other ailment is our podcast. It has been waning. It has been a gas for the last two years and I really hope this is a lull but I think the episodes may become more occasional and the breaks more regular. I hope I am wrong. Both as that has been a great source of fun and pride and also because, well, I miss my friends. We will see what happens. Without my audio outlet I am hoping to post here almost daily. Random thoughts mostly. Nothing more.

A Shot In The Heart...

A Shot In The Heart…