Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Overalls

I was living with my dad.  I had gone to the army navy store but I don't remember with who now.  I found a pair of overalls.  They were fairly typical blue jean overalls with the big pockets and the bib.  The straps were blue and white stripes and might have said the name of the company on them.  At any rate I was thrilled.

Dad didn't like them.  There was something in his face that said, "don't mess with this one."  So I didn't.  We agreed that I would wear the overalls when he wasn't home to see them.  This was something that he could live with.  So that is what I did.  I wore them only when Dad wasn't around.

Years later, Dad told me with pride in his voice that he had never owned a pair of jeans.  To him, jeans and overalls reminded him of the Depression.  That association was one that he never broke.

I don't know much about what Dad had to live through during the depression.  I know that the family had chickens [in the small village that they lived in!] and when things got really really bad, the whole family moved to a truck farm.  The chickens and what they grew on the truck farm kept my dad and all of his brothers and sisters from starving.  After the worst was over, the family moved back into the village.

Dad's oldest brother had to quit school to help out with the family grounds-keeping business.  In return for doing that, he was given a car by his dad [my grandfather].  A few years later, he went into the military.  All of the boys followed him when it was their turn.  Two of Dad's brothers became landscapers after their stints in the military were over with.

There are no pictures that I know about still in existence today.  I've got Dad's high school graduation picture.  

sapphoq on life    

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


 Dad took me to a professional football game when I was a real little kid.  Two guys in front of us began fighting and dumping beer on each other.  Dad said we were on teevee.

 Dad taught me how to drive.  He had me drive around an empty parking lot first.  "You just wiped out five cars," he'd say as I zig-zagged over the white lines we were using to represent cars and obstacles.  

Dad took me out into the woods.  We saw all the places where George Washington slept.  He sure got around.  Dad taught me how to navigate through the woods and how to observe the stories going on around me.

I don't know why anyone would want the signs.  But yeah, as usual, if you do go ahead.  Right-click to save to your hot-linking...blah blah blah.  And this should not have to be said, but I took the pictures myself on my cheap [and now apparently outdated] digital camera.  So you copyright trolls, go away now.

sapphoq on life 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

TOM, Compassion, and Aspergers'

Housemate and I were talking the other day about this thing called compassion.  I have noticed within myself that it is very easy to claim to have compassion for people from a distance.  As far as the people around me, uh no.

The other day I was approached by someone for a ride to a small  get together with a few mutual acquaintances.  He said he hadn't seen me in awhile but that he remembered me.  He obviously knew meI swore [and still do] that "I never seen him before in my life."  [Face blindness, such a wonderful neurological quirk!].  We went there and hung out.  

Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the man was kicking.  To put it bluntly, he excused himself several times so he could puke in the bathroom.  "He's kicking," everyone else said, "poor guy."  I was just annoyed that I could hear his barfing sounds from behind closed doors.  I was apprehensive that he would want me to take him back home early and [for once] I didn't want to leave. 

I made this.  It's copyleft.  Fuck CISPA and all the other weird shit like that.  Right-click to save to your computer.  No hot-linking plz.

Housemate nodded.  "Yep," he told me, "I don't have compassion.  Sometimes I think I am a little bit autistic or something."  

I looked at housemate.  "Dude, yeah you are totally Aspergian."


"Duh.  The games.  The special study you made of board games ever since you were a child."

"Oh."  Then he asked me, "You were diagnosed as autistic when you were younger, right?"

"Autistic or retarded, depending upon whether you believe a loud-mouth cousin of mine or my dad."

We were silent for a few minutes.

At my uncle's wake [her father], cousin introduced me to a bunch of people I didn't know as, "This is my cousin sapphoq.  sapphoq was autistic when younger, but that was because of emotional reasons-- that is, the divorce of sapphoq's parents."

My dad's version of events ran like this, "We took you for testing.  The examiner told us to put you in an institution and forget about you.  You were retarded, she said.  I started yelling at her, 'My daughter is NOT retarded.  My daughter is bright.  I can see it in her eyes.'  And we left."

Having never seen the test results myself, I really can't say what was thought or why.  Do I have Aspergers or Broad Spectrum Autism?  I don't know.  I was a socially awkward child for sure.  The traits that can be construed by the layperson as being on the spectrum [I can't help it.  When I type the word "spectrum" I think of happy colorful rainbows] can be explained by various other ways of beings.  I perceive no personal benefit in consulting with an expert about this now.  I just don't care. 

"My dad did a lot of work with me when I was younger," I explained.  "So I learned some stuff about how to act around others.  Social situations were never easy for me as a child.  Even now, much of what I do-- when I can be bothered to do it-- is scripted." 

A bit more silence.

"I don't understand my co-workers," housemate admitted.  "They feel sorry for so-and-so.  I don't.  He acts so helpless I want to scream."  I knew who he was talking about.  Had known him for several years in fact before housemate did.  "Standard Operating Procedure for that one," I shrugged.

I started complaining.  "This whole compassion thing-- I'm tired of people expecting me to do their work for them is all.  I'm not a taxi cab.  This piece of shit masquerading as a car isn't painted yellow."

"I remember you going through this before several times."

"And several times before we met.  It's an old lesson that I just keep learning in deeper ways."

I'm not being paid to be anyone's social worker.   I'm sorry that bad shit happens to people.  It's easier for me to say that I have deep feelings for the suffering of others at a distance than when confronted with it on my turf. 

"That guy was kicking from heroin.  [Folks don't die from opiate withdrawals.  The local hospital won't take opiate addicts as a matter of policy.]  If he needed medical support, I would have called him an ambulance.  But don't frigging come into my space and expect sympathy when you should have just stayed home or something.  Sorry.  That's how I feel.  I hate people trying to leech onto me.  If allowing people to suck me dry and making sympathetic noises is compassion, then I'm better off without it."

We relate to the pain and suffering of other people from that place within ourselves that has also experienced pain and suffering.  I know that much.  Aspies and Auties have been accused of lacking a "Theory of Mind" by the professionals.  From what I gather as a plain ordinary person, TOM is the magical [fake?] ability to put oneself in the shoes of others and automatically know what they must be feeling.  I figure that this whole TOM is just another cover for maxed out co-dependency.  After awhile, "he's kicking, poor guy" gets old.  

Again:  We relate to the pain and suffering of other people from that place within ourselves that has also experienced pain and suffering.  Maybe I'm just more willing than the average Joe to admit that sometimes all this forced expression for concern can run out the door screaming "Enough already."  Or maybe it's the practical nature inside of me that dictates a refusal to wallow in my own suffering/misery/heartbreak/self-pity or in that of others.

I know what pain and suffering is.  I just don't have the energy or desire to gush about it.

"Thanks for listening.  I'll find you that on-line informal test on the net if you want."

Go here for an informal checklist of possible aspie-ness:

Your Aspie score: 146 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 63 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie.

N.B.:  Checklist is not validated.  It points to possibilities only.  If for some reason you desire an official diagnosis, then go to a professional who is familiar with what this stuff looks like in an adult.  Some folks like me are indifferent.  Some don't want to know for sure.  Some do.  If you are an adult, you get to examine the pros and cons of seeking a professional diagnosis.  And then you get to make your own decision about what to do.

There is a Google group that a buddy from Twitter has mentioned.  It is here at:!forum/aspietribe .

Here is also an Aspergers' group on Live Journal:   


A really really cool film project here:

And here is a caution:  Some folks in the comment section have problems with the information in and/or the style of the article itself.  The basic premise i.m.o. is sound: bunches of folks who self-diagnose as Aspie and some folks who are professionally diagnosed as Aspie aren't.

Expecting a fancy conclusion or something? 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Don't Give Up

Some years ago when I was much younger than I am now, I was going through major butthurt over the idea that people aren't always what they appear to be.  Every time this came up, the pain was intense.  One night, I couldn't sleep.  I turned on the teevee and happened upon New Radicals singing this song on one of the vid stations.  I was still learning that other people's crazed behavior reflected far more upon them than on me.  After hearing it, I was able to sleep.  I went out and bought the album the next day.


This morning, I heard the song again.  I remembered the pain and I also remembered how I was able to keep striving in spite of what other people around me were saying and doing.  The will to live is a very powerful thing.

sapphoq on life  

Monday, April 08, 2013

Outsider's Manifesto

I am here because I am myself.  I am alone in my own skin I no longer seek to fill up my interstitial spaces with the stuff of a society that I do not fit into and that I do not comprehend.  I have not deliberately sought to be a non-conformist.  I do not object to following the rules if I know what the rules are and they make sense to me.  I do not often know what the rules are or why I should follow them.  This causes me to be classified as an outsider-- and at times extra-legal-- by others.

I am practical.  I like gently worn, soft clothing.  I like sensible shoes.  I don't like wool, polyester, or the holes in weave when a wind kicks up.  I have been accused of dressing in a uniform style.  I don't understand why that is a problem.  I like the way I dress.  There is no make-up or hair treatment chemicals in my life.  I have no one that I wish to impress with anything akin to a fashion sense.
I am quiet.  I am given to fits of solitude interspersed with periods of superficial sociability.  I have many thoughts but few spoken words.  I think in patterns.  I embrace my passions.  I have no desire to edit them for the sake of your comfort-ability.  I like what I like.

Bits of songs wander into my brain at random.  At times I will sing these bits to the dog who appears to love it, or at least doesn't seem to mind.  I make up words that I have forgotten.  I alter words as I wish.  When I am singing, I am happy.  You do not always get my jokes.  I don't always get yours either.  I relish laughter.  I am not afraid to laugh out loud when I find something funny, amusing, or unexpected.

I don't remember faces all that well.  I use hair and voices to identify others.  If you describe the face of someone that you think I know, I will usually stop you.  That doesn't help at all.  There are other things that I also don't do well.  I am not into participating in any sort of team sports.  I am athletically awkward.  I run like a duck.  My jog is very slow.  I stumble, trip over my feet, walk into things.  I usually wear a hat or a visor to block light and glare.  I favor soft dull light and low wattage bulbs.  I can hear fluorescent lights.  I can tell when one of them is about to burn out.  I am highly distractible.  Multi-tasking is something I avoid.  I do everything at my own pace.  When working on a problem [usually related to getting something or other to run correctly] I am determined beyond the point of stubbornness.  I can work on a problem or on something that interests me for hours at a time.  If I am not interested, I don't last very long at all.  I have a random chaotic style of doing things.  My organizing skills are practically non-existent.

I am somewhat ambidextrous.  On the rare occasion that I consent to iron something, I iron with my left hand.  I eat using both hands.  I can draw with either hand.  I can write with both hands at the same time going forwards, backwards, upside-down left to right, upside-down right to left.  When I take things apart, I use both hands equally well. 

I am playful.  I play with words, computers, code.  I like to put stuff together in unexpected ways.  I prefer to start at the ending and then work my way up and backwards.  Trouble-shooting and investigating are two things that I do well at.

I am curious about many things.  My passions immerse my whole being.  I want to know how stuff works, the whys of form and function, what gets you out of bed in the morning.  I love trains, exploring new places, learning a new language, rendering photographs that I've taken into works of art.  I love textures and colors and grains.  I collect rocks.  I think old stuff is pretty cool.  I prefer interactive history over dull recitations of sentences committed to rote memory.  The smells of an office supply store, flowers, and a field after a rain are attractive to me.  The taste of ice cream envelopes my tongue and throat.  I can read grade one Braille using only my fingers and not my eyes at all.  My clumsiness disappears when I dance.  When I close my eyes, I see color-stories when listening to music.  The color emitting from a public unsanitary bathroom makes me nauseous.  I can swim like a fish and I love all water.  When I am in the woods, I feel free.  I am made of Carl Sagan's starstuff, born of the ocean, a lover of movement.  I wander and ramble through many places.  I am here because I am my own true self.  I am.

sapphoq on life

Monday, April 01, 2013

Sirius Black Tiberious Oz

There is a new kitten in the house.  Sirius is four months old and pure black except for a few white hairs on his chest.  He has the runarounds and has been working hard to win over the older cat.  His relationship with the dog was quickly established since she is the lover of all little dogs and cats.

Sirius allowed both of us to pick him up when we met him and he immediately started purring when we did so.  Once home, he cautiously explored each room before settling down in the living room.  He will follow either of us as we move from room to room.  He also offers a small soft "meow" when hungry.

Sirius alternates between having the runarounds and napping with or without a human when awake.  He has not staked out a window as of yet but he seems to favor the living room window when he stops long enough to look out of one.  I am relieved that he looks and acts nothing like the late great Twinkle.  Consequently, Sirius also "saved" Easter Sunday for me.  Hanging out with some atheists and Christians became enjoyable for me.  Without Sirius, I may have yielded to the temptation to yield to a quiet and profound grief.

There are no decent pictures of him yet-- I will share one when I get one--  but he looks very much like a mini-version of this cat: : who is an Oriental shorthair.  Sirius definitely has a triangular face and the big ears.  Still and all, there are certain pitfalls associated with determining kitten species based on a few physical traits and personality.  So I shall assume that he is a typical American shorthair or what we used to call "alleycat" in years gone-by.  That Sirius may or may not have a bit of some other kind of kitty in his unknown to us ancestry really doesn't change anything at all.

As a child, there was one dog Fifi that I may have mentioned before.  She was a Christmas poodle puppy that I found on the couch when I was in fourth grade but my mother had given her away/sold her/dropped her off at a pound or somewhere the following summer on a Sunday when I was visiting my dad without warning.  I've heard from others that this was the way the getting rid of unwanted pets was often done in those days.  My heart was broken and I was seriously butthurt at the time.

There was also a cat when I was younger.  It was one of those gray tiger looking cats.  Looking back, I suspect he may have had a home but was allowed to roam the streets freely but I don't really know.  I befriended him and he spent some time with me on my open-air front porch.  I presented him with cat food and water until my mother suddenly [and probably rightfully] insisted that I stop feeding him.  I came across his body in the street around the corner from me after that-- he'd been hit by a car-- and in a childish overly dramatic way I blamed my mother's ban on feeding him for that one.  I soon gave it up though.  It was only when I was older that I understood that if there was to be blame, it ought to be assigned to owners who allow their bird-killing-machines to roam freely in what was what a large city [or any place really except for perhaps barn cats-- my grands' barn cats pretty much stayed in the barn and didn't venture out onto the road].  And then there is the overpopulation of cats and dogs that causes some to go to shelters and some to be abandoned by uncaring owners and so forth. 

Sirius is fixed [as all of our cats and dogs are] which is my contribution to helping to stem the overpopulation tide here in the u.s.a.  I understand that there are folks who breed purebreds with papers and I even understand the value of purebreds.  At any rate, our cats and dogs are usually not purebreds.  The one who was a purebred [flat-coated retriever] was not suitable for breeding due to a birth defect in one eye and so he also was fixed.  If I was wanting a purebred for breeding purposes, by necessity I would also be showing it.  Because a purebred with papers but without show titles is just a purebred with papers.  The value of purebred dogs is that they were originally bred for certain traits which much of the time translated into certain jobs.  Here I am thinking about purebred dogs who ride on firetrucks, do search-and-rescue, act as service dogs, go to ground when chasing small varmints, hunting dogs. tracking dogs, and so forth.  I am less specific on the value of purebred cats other than that some folks might like a certain look.  Again, a purebred with papers without being shown is just a purebred with papers.

sapphoq on life says: It is my opinion that there are entirely too many backyard breeders-- folks who either breed their mutts or who breed purebreeds without showing them-- and not enough responsible people who do the right thing for their animals.