Bloody hell, I haven't posted for a long time!
I have a large, beautiful, furry cat who purrs me to sleep every night.

This makes me feel a lot happier about life.

Things are better
A couple of people jogged my memory that I haven't updated this LJ since in a bad situation.

Things got better. When forced to do housework or cooking, I did learn a few things. I've kept both my friends, although they're still at a distance, and I've managed to get out a bit (folk club, science fiction group etc).

It's annoying that I now know so many people at an entirely superficial level as staff and fellow-residents where I am. When I was with my partner I really wanted to make friends with people local to me, and was just showing signs of coming out of my shell a bit when the accident happened, since when I haven't even seen my old home (and barely my old home town). Now I'm somewhere else. I haven't made close friends since the '90s, and all of them were somewhere else, and possibly that was why I relied on talking to my partner so much. Now it's all superficial and trying to learn how to do reciprocal conversation properly, and I feel there's something missing, especially as I often forget which person told me which thing (which one's into sports, cats, books etc). I miss having proper conversations where I could be more relaxed with the other person.

I moved from the really horrible room to a reasonable bedsit where I could get a through draught if I was stifled by the heat.

I acquired a small black-and-white cat who made my life happy, but sadly had to pass her to the RSPCA because I couldn't afford ongoing vet treatment (I'm on the dole and my parents are pensioners). But I did get a good few months of Having a Cat which made me happy. I miss that cat, and would like another cat (my parents say once I have got my flat clean and tidy I can have a cat. They also say I proved surprisingly competent at looking after my last one).

I'm still watching very little TV (my parents are trying to get me interested in the Grim Scandinavian Crime genre). Didn't watch any the other day because the Mad Old Bat finally toppled off the twig, so was bound to be all over the news. I watch Dr Who and will watch Sherlock when that's back, because I love those series. If I want to watch something silly I watch Pointless (extremely silly quiz, makes me laugh). Last night I watched a science programme on bubbles. I knew about surface tension being a surprisingly powerful force, but there's a lot of other stuff people are finding out now. I think it's called Pop, and should still be on Iplayer.

I'm now in an actual flat where I am/have to be more independent. This coincided with my cat ownership for the first month

(no subject)
Following a bad (physical) accident, I entered a chaos of disturbed mental health and misfortune.

All the things I trusted in (a safe stable relationship with a man I cared for deeply, two enormous fluffy cats, my life in a comfortable suburban semi) have fallen apart spectacularly. The things I wanted to make cautious moves towards: self-esteem, looking for work that would actually suit me, healthy exercise... became impossible as I was imprisoned in one tiny room in a rural mental hospital, given heavy doses of medication, and told to relax and try to enjoy myself. Which is bad advice to give me at the best of times.

Even after I got out of the stage of psychotic hallucinations, I was doing very poorly and showing few signs of improvement because I did not want to be there (in a small rural town, in a mental hospital) and could see no way out.

Am getting cautiously slightly better, in a large city in better reach of my parents. But they're too old, and too busy, to devote their whole lives to me (and my sister and her two young children that take up their time as well).

But I still miss my ex, and the cats (who have to stay with him because they're indoor cats and I can't offer them a home). Here I am in a room just like when I was on the dole years ago. Feels like a backward step, although I'm trying to keep my own head above water by trying to remember to clean, hoover etc (and my failure to do housework was a major factor in the break-up; so I'm trying to do something I really hate not because it's pulling my weight in a relationship but because I have to be independent. Somehow).

It hurts to remember the confidence I had last year, with lots of exercise and a positive attitude, and writing a book, I felt I was transforming my life and had something to offer the man I was with, but he felt at the end of his tether because I didn't do any practical things for myself, let alone learn to cook or keep the place tidy. I was completely unaware that he felt things were going so wrong.

And now the only things I can control are things like tidying my tiny room, hoovering, having a shower and trying to have a (slightly) healthy diet. It's not terrible: I can look at the internet or ring my friends (my best friends are 100s of miles away). I can visit the local Aspie (adult) group, the local SF fans group etc, which is actually much more direct social-life than I managed all the time I was in Suffolk (although I was gradually getting more friends last year and all that's gone now).

My employment history is a patchy record of trying and failing at a number of things, and I'm so afraid of being bad at a number of jobs I barely want to try.

OTOH, I'm trying to make casual friends and trying to do the 'activities' in the sheltered accommodation I'm living in, without trying to invest it all with an extreme amount of significance.

My life is OK, I suppose. I have a room, and a much better shower than I did in hospital (although I have to share it). Decent fresh food, much better than the stuff at the hospital. I have my medicines which have suddenly kicked in and permitted me to sleep heavily once I left hospital. I have more exercise than I used to. I cooked my own dinner twice (attempts to be more independent). I go to the cinema every week (when I went less than once a year before, not because I wouldn't have liked to but because my partner wouldn't have liked to). I have access to a large public library, and a Kindle. I have a book on English prosody and am trying to learn how to write poetry. It's not a terrible life, it's just not the life I thought I'd be heading towards with the person and cats I was sharing it with, in the home I thought I had. I wanted to be married for the last however-long because it hurt me so much to have no official/definite place in this man's life, and the things I've been left with (technology and books) are the things I felt guilty for wanting because I ought to have not wanted too much of them (and given the chance I'd sell them if it would get me my life back, because the man and the cats (and my home for the last ten years or so) mean more to me than the shiny technology or the piles of books that were spread throughout the house).

And I've lost my ability to watch television, because in the mental hospital I never had any choice (and it was summer and there wasn't much on), and now I have lots of choice (I even have a PVR which watches TV for me) and nobody to watch stuff with. I only see my parents once or twice a week, and only *visit* them once a month, and that once a month is the only time I watch TV socially, with somebody else. At home I'd watch TV with my partner, and he'd explain the science bits to me and I might explain culture/myth references etc to him. It seemed natural to watch a lot of stuff together -- and here I am with a couple of other women and the only data I have on their TV watching is that they watch things I don't, from daytime or reality TV (which I saw too much of in hospital) to soaps (it's not that I'm particularly snooty about soaps, I used to watch EastEnders for years, but I gave that up one time I came out of mental hospital and found how much of it there was left to watch, it seemed too much like hard work. And getting into Corrie/Neighbours/Emmerdale seems like even more pointless hard work. I suspect that's how I feel now: if I was with my parents I'd watch TV naturally with other people but I suppose I'm almost angry at having so little choice and I've gone all Aspie with losing my feeling for TV as social glue (even the simple stupid things I watched with my partner like quizzes don't seem to coincide with the Venn diagram of simple stupid quizzes my housemates watch). I watch maybe one TV programme a week which would be fine except things I would Probably Quite Like (or like to be able to talk to people about as well) are just stacking up endlessly on the PVR. And my context is still my ex, he's the one I'd like to turn to and laugh with, or say, "What the hell was that about?" or complain about a documentary doing Stupid Camera Tricks. Because I love my parents but I'm seeing them only a bit more often than I was before, and my social life is a patchwork of tiny little pieces trying to fill the empty space.

Aspies are Not Great at Emergency Situations (who knew?)
I left my local library (nothing strange there), but noticed there was a woman about my age lying on the ground. I called out to her & got no response. She was clearly breathing, and moving slightly. I wondered if she was listening to an unseen MP3 because she looked as though she were tapping her fingers slightly. Then I realised there were three bags of shopping lying on the road beside her, so whatever was going on was clearly not due to a 'lack of boundaries of mental person' thing. Was she drunk? I wasn't near her head enough to tell. Was I supposed to get down in the street and look for some clues of what to do next?

As I was standing there approaching the realisation that I ought to ask somebody more qualified than I was, a Nice Young Man turned up, vouchsafing a) that she was probably having an epileptic fit and b) that I should ring 999 and ask someone to come and help.

Thank god for Nice Young Men! I'd have come to the conclusion that I could ring 999 in a few seconds, but I had neither a reasonable hypothesis nor people skills.

So Nice Young Man crouched by her head and did the commiserating/empathising/telling her she was going to be all right, while I rang 999. Aspies are probably better at the practical details than people skills. Given a task that was the right thing to do, I got on with it.

But on my own I'd have gone through the 'passing on messages between Ambulance Control and the patient' before it occurred to me I ought to try to offer comfort, so am very glad somebody was there to do that bit.

We established that, no, she was not pregnant, no she was not diabetic, and no she was not still unconscious, but she was extremely groggy and she was definitely epileptic. They asked me for a name, and I passed on her first name, and was instantly asked 'Is that [??] [??[?' Being fairly sure I hadn't passed on a surname, I mumbled the name Ambulance Control gave me, and was told that was right.

All was explained when the FRU car came up (impressively promptly), and the paramedic said, "Hello, [??] [??], I thought you were going straight home the last time we saw you."

Obviously she'd been having a bad day, with rather more falling-down than people ought to have in their day.

Glad that things now appeared to be in more capable hands than mine, I went on my way.

I thought I'd messed up rather, so was rather surprised to be told by Boyfriend that, heck, lots of people won't react well under pressure, and it's rather common for people to pass by and hope somebody else will sort it out. Dad also said that whether I had 'people skills' or not, I had in fact done the right thing, and if the Nice Young Man hadn't turned up, I'd have done the ringing-up bit even if it hadn't occurred to me to bend down and tell her it was all going to be all right. This is in fact true, although I'd have been a lot less coherent about what was happening if I hadn't been told 'looks like epilepsy'.

W00t! I Haz a Birfday!

I love my new toy. Adrian decided I had done enough housework, and decided to get me what I actually wanted for my birthday. As long as I keep up with the housework, which I'm trying to do.

I am now the owner of a Very Expensive Rectangle.

Well, it's not my birthday yet literally, but I celebrated it on Sunday with the family, an event where I learned:

a) small children have no sense when it comes to running into the kitchen when there's broken glass on the floor
b) small children take no notice of me when I tell them that, but require somebody to run after them and grab them
c) Small Child Eyes are good at noticing microscopic fragments of glass, and,
d) chocolate cake doesn't seem to last very long

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


W00t! I Haz a IQ!
149! (bounce!)

The letter from Mensa landed on my doormat today. Could tell instantly it wasn't too bad news as the white envelope was large and filled (presumably) with more than a letter saying 'sorry not this time'.

No, it doesn't mean I'm bright, more that the test must over-value verbal/abstract/logical cognition. But I'm unusually good at verbal/logical/abstract reasoning, pattern recognition and inference, and my blind spots are spatial/numeric/practical cognition, which don't make up a high percentage on the test I took.

But since my self-esteem has been generally through the floor because I've not succeeded at anything in my entire life (except for writing my autobiography, which has so far not got any positive feedback), the idea that I can get a startlingly-good mark on a test taking it 'flat' with no preparation at all, is quite exciting.

Also means I can join Mensa and try yet further measures to pry myself into some sort of social life. The idea of meeting other Odd People whose brains work the way mine does is quite exciting.

You May Be a Geek When...
You may be a geek when:

1) the natural word you first think of for computer searching is ‘grep’ rather than ‘Google’.
2) you can think of irritating flaws in the user interface of your local library’s issue terminals.
3) your response to tidying up is to create XML lists of everything in your storage boxes; the floor isn’t in a much better condition, but at least you can search properly for the stuff that’s not on view.
4) your response to your bad typing is to use a really good text-substitution tool for changing all instances of ‘teh', ‘becaues' or ‘htem’ to what you clearly meant to type.
5) you think what television really needs is a point-and-click user interface so you can click on an actor and get their IMDB entry.
6) you can debate the relative merits of QWERTY, DVORAK or various sorts of chord keyboard, and you’ve actually tried several of them — and you wish the Microwriter CyKey system was still available!
7) you and your best mate have used a number of operating systems from VAX to DOS to Linux to seven variants of Windows to two versions of Mac OS X, and your attitude to all of them is that ‘all OSs suck, but you find one where you know its Little Ways and its particular suckitude doesn’t bother you too much compared to the particular suckitudes of all the others’.
8) you were much sadder at the untimely death of Douglas Adams than that of Princess Diana.
9) you can remember proofreader’s marks, English verse prosody or how to pronounce Middle English without trying, but you’re still hopeless on anything actually useful (this one’s probably just me).
10) you were reduced to helpless laughter by somebody’s mock book-cover LOLCODE IN UR NUTSHELZ, complete with ‘Can Has Quik Reference?’ and ‘I Haz A Edishn’ lines, the publisher ‘O Rly’ and a detailed drawing of a cat. No, it’s not worth explaining it. If you have a familiarity with both Lolspeak/Lolcats and a certain publisher's back catalogue (and cover line-drawings of animals), it’s very funny.

Mini spaz out (meltdown, whatever)
In the post office, where I was queuing up to post a letter.

I noticed that my gentle Not-So-Aspie-As-Previously-So-Therefore-Learned good manners had gone down the drain a bit and had to figure out why. In fact, the loud gentleman in front of me was carrying on a shouty conversation over my head with his mates behind me, and because I was stressed and pressurised and not sure what to do, I went back to Aspie Default, which in my case is Stick My Head In A Book And Ignore The Situation Very Hard, even when four people pushed in front of me. I nudged forward so that I was more-or-less behind the black coat of the man I'd been behind to start with, thinking that this was the right thing to do, and uneasily aware that it wasn't showing the subtle-concern-for-others manners I've been trying to develop lately. After a few minutes, the girl then began to explain to me loudly which of them were in the queue or not. I felt under pressure. I felt I ought to decide who was in the right and couldn't quite figure it out (partly because I'd been doing my damnedest to ignore the whole thing). I felt stupid.

I held it together admirably, and replied to that girl that, oops, I'd been trying to figure out where I was in the queue, don't worry.

Until one of the pushers-in, with the even louder voice than my un-modulated Aspie Cheerful Voice (which I certainly wasn't using) accused me of queue-jumping, so I burst into tears in a small way because of sheer frustration at the situation -- there was I trying so hard to do the right thing, actually trying to be nice to these people, and this chap thought I was pushing in when he was pushing in and it was just Not Fair!

Bit of social background. Brits (particularly English) are very sniffy about queue-jumping. It's a standard joke over here that the middle-classes deal with it by Tutting Very Sternly. Indeed, Kate Fox, in her book of social anthropology _Watching the English_ says the most difficult experiment she did was queue-jumping, not because she was afraid of what people would do, but because it made her feel bad. So it's not a particularly neutral thing to be accused of.

I wish I hadn't cried, though. Not because of the bastards in front of me, who had no finer feelings and were blithely pushing ahead again, but because my attention had tunnelled to the immediate situation and I'd forgotten I was in a Post Office. So (restoring my faith in humanity) Nice Older Lady cheered me up a bit and said she'd seen they were Very Badly-Behaved, and come back into the queue, which I did.

The reason I wish I hadn't cried was that the Nice Older Lady (in a good example of how tuned-in neurotypical people are) had seen the entire thing from about 5 people behind, and I bet she'd assumed that (being a middle-class middle-aged lady, which I am) I must have been in absolute agony to cry in a Post Office. If it hadn't been the wrong occasion, I'd have tried to explain I'm a bit odd and impulsive behaviourally, and in fact it was a matter of no significance whatsoever, and if she hadn't stopped me, it would have blown over in 30 seconds and I'd have gone home and written an annoyed blog entry (ahem!) rather than have a nervous breakdown or be in tears all day. So I wish I hadn't done it because she almost certainly thought I was in much more pain than I actually was!

Spaz Out
Today I went back to UEA library to get lost in some more books, but it didn't go so well.

I'd wasted £3.80 bus fare, as well.
When I handed across the same ID I'd used before (an old passport, the sole actual identity document I possess, and a crumpled-up phone bill) they pointed out that I hadn't provided proof of my address.

My god, that hurt! Not because it's a practically-insuperable problem, because it isn't (I can probably provide an old form letter from my doctor if I look hard enough) but because it brought me smack up against one of my weak spots.

I hate being reminded, even by implication, that I'm not a real person, just an empty consumer. Real people have documented proof of their existence. They have driving licenses (I don't particularly want to drive, but I'm somewhat envious of proof-of-competence and something they can take with them everywhere as a matter of course). They have jobs and pay their own bills (the assistant kept saying I could bring my utility bills, which didn't help). They've left some sort of mark on the world. They're not a mere hanger-on. Their address isn't the unmarked footnote to the Real Person living in the house. I have more official existence than the cats, but only just. The last thing I had with my name and address on it was my voting card, and that evidently belongs to the Government. So I will almost certainly find something to solve the immediate practical problem (probably attesting to being a passive consumer of NHS resources), but that does nothing at all to reduce the sense of misery.

It's safe to say I didn't handle this particularly well. I made myself small sitting in front of the desk and wept silently for a few minutes, then sat there putting my head together. I was more in the way than I realised, because they told me they'd have to call security, so I went outside and cried much, much more noisily instead.

I was in bits.

It took me an hour or two to come to the comforting realisation that since I am currently writing my autobiography, I am no longer quite as unproductive as I thought. Whether or not anybody likes it, I'm at last putting the work in on a project, so I'm not only a consumer.

alien_infinity may note here, incidentally, that while I may be good at giving her advice on Stupid Brain Tricks (mainly because I get them) I'm hardly a shining example of real-world competence myself...

The annoying thing is I'll tell Boyfriend when he comes in, and he'll point out exactly what Useful Envelopes I have while remaining quite impervious to the issue about my feelings (because he doesn't overvalue jobs etc the way I do, so he'll explain that I'm not being properly objective).

Today I visited my parents
Went to Mum and Dad's. Pointed out to Boyfriend that the Asda sign "Lottery.  Bakery. George" looks ridiculous. Just because the 'George' is white on black in a bigger typeface doesn't make it not look silly. This is beginning to sound like that E. L. Konigsberg novel about Benjamin Dickinson Carr and his (George). A remark that nobody is going to get because BDC&his(G) is a good example of one of those perfectly good but never reprinted novels from my childhood.  
Had to explain that "George" is their Designer Label for Chavs bit. Neither of us really  approves of paying money to advertise a company.
"Mind you, I'm not one to talk. I still like an Apple sign on my kit."
He asked what I thought about the current Apple vs Flash row. I had no opinion as I only have a fairly negative opinion of Flash. If I find a page which uses it I navigate away to something else. He had to explain that it has its proper uses, mostly to do with business and finance, making dynamically interactive charts, graphs or presentations.
"Oh. Boring business crap."
"Yes, if you like. But people need and use this stuff every day. Apple's ignoring quite a chunk of its market."
"What, graphic designers, photographers, and people who find Microsoft irritating?"
"No. More like 'people with an iPhone who don't use Apple kit for absolutely everything."
"Oh. Fair point." If people are tempted by the iPhone because it's beautiful and usable, but it prevents them from doing something they do all the time it will put them off the iPhone.
A long silence, then: "I wonder why you  always hear of pragmatic drivers using their cars to go from A to B but you never hear of them going back from B to A."
This is his unusual sense of humour. "Dunno. Maybe they like it at B," is what I should have said, but I probably just mumbled something. It often takes me about a minute to get on the wavelength for Boyfriend's sense of humour. It takes Dad, for example, much longer, because he's not exposed to Boyfriend's style of humour on a daily basis.
Took some pictures at Dad's. The wisteria at the back door. The fatsia that seems to be suffering from some strange vegetable malady.  
Dad has got quite a few artworks from other artists in the Open Studios, including some rather beautiful studies of bees by that artist who's very interested in bees. Boyfriend said dryly, "Just as well she didn't do films then." As predicted, Dad did not get the Small Silly Joke about 'bee movies'.
Dad has not been selling pictures so much as swapping them.
"Art to art," I said.
"Art for art's sake," said Dad.
Unlike Boyfriend, Dad and I get each other's jokes.
Boyfriend showed Dad some pictures of a limestone route. "Bit chossy," he said.
Mum and Dad told Boyfriend what exercises they did, and he told them which they should be doing.


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