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flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

I take the aspie quiz every five years or so, just to see how my progress is. My current score isn't as different from the last one as the last one was from the first one, so the rate of change has slowed a bit since I'm not actively studying human social interaction any more. I think since I pass as neurotypical in almost all social interactions now, I don't put as much desperate energy into studying and practicing and honing my skills at socializing. I now have points on both interaction scales, enough to get by. I don't feel hounded any more. I can rest.

In other news, I have been writing poems. I hope to have one done later tonight and posted in a couple of days.
flamingsword: Graphic that says "Life Is Kinda Goofy." with an unsmiling emoji. (Life is Goofy)
So analyzing the filters through which I have been thinking about how I think my thoughts and all of the Sea of Doubt stuff is churning up my waters, and revealing some interesting landscape at the bottom of this particular stretch of my personal ocean. It's wild. It has been a few years since I have done anything truly outside the realm of rational understanding because of my issues, or had a disagreement with someone that goes beyond the norms of misunderstanding. And for the sake of accuracy, I like to keep my view of myself updated to prevent huge gaps in seeing myself not as others see me. I want to think of myself as not being crazy, and as being reasonably good with people, but it feels wrong.

So I have conflicting impulses. I was crazy and bad with people for the parts of my adolescence that I still remember as well as I remember five years ago, and those memories don't ever seem to recede, so I have identified with "crazy" all these years. Twenty feels so much longer ago than thirteen, and I can't describe why or how. So I can explain why it feels wrong to think of myself as this new thing even though the old identity still feels true, even though I am not desperate anymore, but I also feel like I need to be accurate and valid and rational to upkeep this tradition I now have of getting better. I used to do it because if I didn't someone was going to get dead and chances were only about 50/50 that it would be me. Now I have continued doing it because I like it and it makes the world better and it makes me feel strong. So I want to change, and this sort of identity matrix reassignment used to be a lot easier, but now it's been getting harder the last few times. Is this what getting set in your ways feels like? This barrier to plastic change? I know that it is setting in much later for me than for other people, and that this kind of change is still as easy as it is in other ways is possibly only because I am on the autism spectrum and we get a neuroplasticity bonus. But still. Bleh.

Normally I would think about what kind of thoughts I would have if I were that new person, and model the new behavior, and see if it took off organically just by jump starting the formation of neural pathways. This time I don't know if that will be enough, so if you have any ideas, things you have tried (even if they didn't work), or things you have heard of working for other people, hit me in comments?

[EDIT TO ADD: I asked my friendslist over on Facebook and among the many suggestions, one of my programmer friends helpfully pointed out that I am trying to batch process what would probably yield better results being broken down into discrete problems and processed serially. Which is amazingly accurate, and demonstrates two of my better problem solving skills: keep a diverse group of friends and ask for help when you are confused. Maintaining relationships with more than one type of person might be a lot of work, but it keeps you grounded and human. And people tell you to ask for help when you need it, but they never tell you when you'll need it, so just ask whenever there is a problem that might yield to different perspectives.]
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Archaeology)
I'm taking a look at shame and other bullshit class issues I've given headspace to, trying to understand why I've had them and how that informs my opinion of American class structure and the Occupy movement. The internet does not desegregate the older generations, but maybe there's hope for the current generation growing up in online culture; maybe the internet can cross class lines enough for them to see each other across the gap.

When I was a kid I had the usual horse-madness that descends on so many little girls, but you might not be able to tell beside the larger and more obvious obsession with dolphins )

This is all background to the real point of this essay: if I can't trust a rich member of my own family to buy me an appropriate birthday present for my circumstances, how can I, as an American, trust the rich upper class to know the circumstances of the poor or best judge their welfare?
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Aeon sad)
I have weather veins.
They are especially sensitive
to dust storms and hurricanes.
When I am nervous my teeth chatter
like a wheelbarrow collecting rain.
I am rusty when I talk.
It’s the storm in me.

- - Andrea Gibson - -

* I used to be so afraid to talk, so afraid that I would say the wrong thing, and try to fix it by saying another wrong thing, say all of the wrong things inside me, dams against the words I meant never to say all bursting across the silences that I cultivated between me and everyone who absolutely was not allowed to know how broken and horrible I was. Words breaking in and giving meaning to the silences I walled in around my ability to care about my inability to see myself. Eventually the humidity would get too high, and there was a slow condensation that dripped bits of my truth out to me safely, but I knew that disaster was never far from the first word. I feared the power of words, because its hard for me to lie, and because the act of speaking calls up the truth in me. Erica Jong says, "How can I know what I think until I see what I say?" I feel truthsome tonight; I'd better start talking and let my words out before they backlog. )
flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
One of the most important lessons I have learned is that 'just being myself' sets people on edge. Left to my own devices, I stare, make eye contact too long, and use body postures that have more to do with what's going on in my head than what I am trying to communicate. Just being yourself sounds simple, and if your actions were occurring in a context vacuum where they were not open for misinterpretation that might even work. And with other people who have no social context, it does: Aspies feel comfortable with other Aspies. The muggles are not so enlightened.

So, things that I've learned are creepifying:
  • making direct eye contact for longer than two seconds.
  • Watching the person doing something interesting instead of just watching their hands.
  • Using the muscles of the nose to snarl when expressing disgust, or for almost any reason. To most people that implies violence.
  • Standing bodily between someone and the only exit from a room. Its a dominance/control behavior that implies that you get to decide whether to let them leave and people who feel trapped are not comfortable people.
  • Speaking at a volume to be heard over noise without softening your tone is pretty much the definition of yelling. Only appropriate to be used in very noisy places.
  • Standing at a direct angle to someone who is angling themselves away from you. Mirroring posture is an advanced trick but it starts in the 'don't be creepy' sector.
  • Have a default expression. Your face being completely blank makes people truly uncomfortable, probably because they only wear no expression when they're hiding something. Also, there's a Hollywood trick of using expressionlessness to characterize madness. Thanks ever so, Hollywood. :/

    The specifics of how to be comforting will be the next post, but tell me if I missed something obvious, yeah?

  • Acknowledge the conversations that you are a part of. Use active listening and make noises of assent and interest where appropriate. Do not remain silent when a response is expected. Do not appear to not be listening only to chime in at the end with something that sets the conversation in a different context; people get really upset when what they thought was a private conversation turns out not to have been.
  • Fierce debate out of proportion to the person you talking with comes across as interrogation and intimidation. Respond to debate with the same level of emphasis as your opponent.
  • Stand in your own space and not too close to others whose personal space you have not been invited into.
  • Talking out of turn and interrupting consistently annoys people, and while it's not creepy, it quickly becomes a respect issue and is still socially inept.
  • flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Rosa Parks smile)
    1. If you have not yet heard about the county of Sonoma CA separating an elderly gay couple and auctioning off their possessions, then allow me to state that it is legit and documented as well as being blood-boiling.

    2. Further people volunteering to be justiced upon: Steven Seagal keeps sex slaves and assaults women. And is a douchebag, but we knew that already.

    3. In better news, I am reading Quirky, Yes - Hopeless, No, a book on Asperger's kids and the very VERY most basic social skills, and I rather like the memories that it is bringing up, not because they were particularly nice memories, but because they show me how far I've come since I had no social skills. And some things have occurred to me: up until the six months before my brother died, nobody could have possibly known that I wasn't making eye contact, because they didn't know that I couldn't see people's faces. The glasses happened the summer before he died, and six months isn't all that long to draw a conclusion from. And my family probably assumed that since my dad doesn't look people in the eye much either, then maybe it was a mannerism I picked up from him. And after Larry died nobody held my behavior to any sort of standard other than knowing where I was at all times, which was pretty easy: I was wherever I could hide behind a book the longest.

    4. I am putting off THE LIST until I have reinforcements. The fuzzy emotional cavalry are coming in the form of [livejournal.com profile] jslorentz and maybe [livejournal.com profile] kadairk if she's free that day.
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
    *I was going to do the April Fool's Day post about how Xenoix and I had broken up, and put the 'details' under a cut-tag that only went to the words "Do you know what day it is?" Unfortunately I just don't feel like it. I feel kinda crappy, physically, like sinus-shoggoths are trying to invade my throat. What I wouldn't give for some nice homeopathic Elder Sign extract! . . . See? I just am not funny today, and I don't feel like failing continuously. Meh. :|

    *So: in order to come up with some direction and feelings of continued utility and relevance, I've decided to go through old journals for records of my uncompleted goals. And knowing me there will be enough things that I've forgotten about to fill several pages. I'll then winnow them down according to whether they appeal to me currently, see what I've got left over, and post it up here to see if any themes emerge. Y'all might have to help with that bit, I totally won't be able to spot the obvious stuff. If you get the sense that I'm kind of down on myself at the moment, you'd be right. I had to explain the way my memory works to not one but two different co-workers today, and other people's pity is uncomfortable to me. I'm kind of glad that "I meant what I said, even though I may not remember it later" a convo you only have to have with people once.

    *I was at the library the other day to find Women From Another Planet which apparently they don't have in any library in Texas (fail!). And when I was up in the psychology section for books on the autism spectrum, I picked up a mis-shelved copy of The Sociopath Next Door and read a bit. And it disturbed me. I'm not gonna lie. [livejournal.com profile] cluegirl says it's a fascinating read, and I believe her, but I'm not entirely sure that people understand sociopaths correctly. Because according to the most fundamental definition, I qualify. I don't feel shame or regret when I've hurt someone. I feel stupid and like a failure, because hurting people is bad for a system which ~hello, I live inside of~ and I hate making bad judgment calls that I will have to fix the repercussions of later so I try to be as nice as is reasonable and practical. I don't feel jealousy, or fear of mortality, or greed in any normal sense, and my expression of a lot of emotions is not what it is for other people. But just because I have fewer and more limited emotions doesn't mean that I want to destroy society or be a serial killer. I would have to also be under several delusions about my impact on the world and in a lot of chronic emotional pain for either of those to occur. I think it's possible that there's another invisible spectrum in human behavior, of the weight and importance of feelings. For some people emotions are this dominant, inexorable force. I have no idea what that's like, so my lack of affect must be just as freaky to them as their paradigm is to me and the sociopaths. :\

    *When I was a teen, every day was Opposite Day. I'm an adult now. Can I have just one Apposite Day? That's all I'm asking for.
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (awkward)
    Since going gluten-free and being on the liver cleansing diet, I have noticed that my hair is falling out less (still not getting less creepy), but the reparative effects of the diet may take six months to a year to become apparent. That's okay, though, I'll still be on this diet until they get better evidence concerning the link between gluten, casein, and autism spectrum disorders. Synchronicity needs to stop following me around. I don't like it that way. Let's just be friends?

    I may have to take the advice discussed here on seeing if the gluten-free diet takes away my migraines (because apparently everything that's ever been wrong with me can be caused by a food sensitivity), and then re-institute a wheat-containing diet for a few weeks to get a diagnosis.

    I have been reading too much. And possibly reading into too much? We'll see in a few months.

    In other news:
    * one of my closest friends is going batshit insane and I'm trying not to go with him.
    * I am about to post a massive number of things on Etsy tomorrow evening.
    * Scratched a necklace photographing it, now it needs a home. Care to test international shipping, [livejournal.com profile] maeritrae ?
    * Saturday night will be spent at Ghost's house.
    * I am having trouble sleeping alone. Y'all should sleep over. Slumber party at my house!
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Dr. Reid)
    Who wants to be on the Asperger's/PDD-NOS/crazy person filter? If you are not already on it and wish to be, comment to be added. Also, check out my delicious page for an arseload of links on the subject.

    Most of my success in relating to people is in knowing where to start. Normal people give you clues about acceptable topics to talk to them about by how they dress, how they represent themselves culturally. Nerds, people wearing band or movie paraphernalia, and fans of sports teams are particularly easy to distinguish visually. The rest I just ask. And that was hard to learn to do, but is now pretty easy - just wander up to someone and introduce myself and ask them what they're finding interesting and how they like whatever is going on. I make conversation. Conversational topics to share are most of why I read regular news and watch what little television I do watch. It requires a time investment to have something to share that's worth talking and thinking about, but it opens doors small talk can't, and it lets people get a feel for how you think from which they can gauge the best way to relate to you.

    My confidence in approaching and asking for someone's attention signifies that I believe I have the right to do so and the capacity to be more fun than what they are currently doing. People are sensitive to that kind of prompting. I have acceptable losses on missed connections (usually about one in four conversations goes nowhere), but there are generally enough people around who aren't otherwise engaged that I can find someone to talk to. And then I just give us turns being entertaining to each other. We get to know each other through a process of each seeing how the other person connects with the previous thought and from the direction they take the conversation in, we get a sense of the shape of their mind. If the directions that you take the conversation in are acceptable, and if you yield turns in a timely and generous manner, conversations can go on for hours without becoming tedious or uncomfortable. In the course of one afternoon and evening, I once got a woman to tell me her entire life story. But if you are paying close attention and skilled at reading people, you can get to know about half of what is publicly available about that person in half an hour. It's quite fascinating.

    Turn taking is very necessary, as are active listening, sending clear signals, and social rewarding. I'll hit those up next post.
    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)
    Aspie quiz from HERE.



    flamingsword: Aziraphale, the flaming sword, and Crowley (Default)

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