verasteine: Steve (H50 Chin)
I was affected by the LJ outage, but am back and restored! This means all my fic can be read again, but one unlucky reader got stuck on chapter 11 of the art of leaving and saying goodbye, and I was unable to refer her to a mirror site as the fic is only hosted here.

Now, since I still don't like the AO3/OTW sufficiently to crosspost there, I've decided to go back to mirroring this space on DreamWidth. Therefore, I will periodically import the journal (I'm currently waiting in the queue), and should LJ go down or become inaccessible for you, dear readers, for some reason, you can hop over there. Please note this is not a real time mirror and the DW journal won't function as an alternative space if you prefer it over there.

Due to the automatic nature of DW imports, all links will refer you back to LJ, so you will have to navigate by tags, and not by the master list that's there, but I hope that this minor inconvenience is still better than nothing.

As for me, if not available via LJ, I can be reached @ twitter, at WordPress, on Tumblr, at Goodreads, and of course, at verasteine (at) gmail (dot) com. LiveJournal and Twitter are still my primary homes as I have a fraught relationship with Tumblr (let's face it, it's pretty, but otherwise I hate it) and only use WordPress for the non-fannish things.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Rachel)
Question: anyone ever get hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) while on their period? It's the second time it's happened to me in six months, and while I'm not unfamiliar with blood sugar crashes, these were both so extreme they made me very ill. We're talking extreme cramps, nausea, walking up and down the stairs made me have to lie down, shallow breathing, etc.

Now it doesn't greatly concern me because addressing the issue makes it go away after a few hours, and by evening I was fine, if tired, but I don't get blood sugar drops that strongly at any other time, and both times it was on the first day of my period, I had been eating sufficiently (yesterday it happened an hour after lunch, ffs), and I had no particular other issues.

I don't get it every period and if it becomes more frequent I'll have it looked at, obviously, but I'm just wondering if it's a coincidence or if people know this as a side effect of having your period?
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve "wtf?")
My brain pulled an energizer bunny on me last night, wide awake, bouncing around like it wasn't night at all:

Squirell spinning in bowl

I tried every trick I know to get it to relax and go to sleep, but nooooooo. Nothing worked, until I realised three a.m. was approaching on the clock with no end in sight, I took a pill and that knocked me out for a few hours.

My god, brain, why?? It's not like you don't need sleep, on the contrary, you need it more than ordinary humans, so why this energetic fest? It's an aspect of my mind I'll never quite understand.

And the advice generally given to insomniacs --if you are not at all sleepy, get up and do other things-- is dangerous because I am, to my horror when discovering this, perfectly capable of falling asleep standing up (and then falling over) ten minutes after not feeling sleepy at all. So no, better not.

I'm seriously happy science has invented knock out sleeping pills, though.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve eyebrows)
I live in a very noisy place with noisy neighbours, which is fine until they're noisy at one in the morning (I went to her door three times, but she keeps it down for a week and then starts back up again) so I needed a solution. I discovered the joys of extension cords for ear buds, so I can enjoy my tv at whatever volume without anyone else being bothered, and without noise from outside bothering me, and I discovered that the world has invented super-soft sleep earplugs, little green torpedo shaped things that crinkle and expand in your ear when you put them in.

Heaven.

Of course, my brain has now decided this means it will sleep deeper, and dream. Every. Fucking. Night. This would be less annoying if it weren't for the fact that it hasn't done that with this regularity since I first got insomnia at twenty, and if it wasn't the most unoriginal brain ever that likes to be really obvious in turning my daytime stresses into nighttime adventures. Mind you, it doesn't invent nightmares, just the sort of dreams where you relive things and go, "Thanks. I didn't need that," in the morning, only half remembered, etc. It's probably just me, though. Other people would be grateful for what is clearly deeper sleep, huh? :P

I must update my .gif collection, but even so, I have just worked a three day weekend and thanks to the coronation and Jesus ascending to heaven once upon a time, I have the next five days off. Glorious. I shall be like so:

Baby meerkat stretching on log
verasteine: Steve (H50 Danny isn't sure about this)
(Though thankfully not like my parents.)

Supermarket price hikes. I know the economy sucks and shit, dude, I work in it, it didn't escape my notice, but WTF price hikes?! I remember when price hikes meant five cents extra on my fave chocolate bar, but I'm seeing price hikes on ordinary groceries like juice and cheese of 20, 30, and even 50 cents.

A little background: I live in a big city, at the edge of downtown, which is not a cheap area but cheaper than some (and certainly cheaper than the suburbs, which I can't afford at all.) In the city, there is one major supermarket chain dominating the place -- my local shopping street, not of extraordinary length, sports three(!) of its branches; downtown, where I work, it sports another three within one street. The only alternative in my local street is a super expensive organic supermarket; downtown, two organic supermarkets and one M&S style fresh market in a department store are the only competition.

These price hikes are pushing my grocery bill up by euros at a time, euros that I have in a pinch but means I must cut back on other things, things I also enjoy and would like to spend money on. For financial reasons, I either pick up groceries within walking distance or when I've already travelled somewhere (say, to work), which limits my access to grocery stores overall. I have to be in the suburbs once every two weeks, where there are affordable, ordinary supermarkets, but I'm limited by what I can carry (don't have a car) and by what will keep for two weeks.

All of this before I get started on the fact that I am single, paid well enough that I have some money left over at the end of the month, reasonably mobile, usually in sufficient spoons to take care of basic tasks, and able to spot these price hikes and compare. I dread to think the effect this has on the elderly, disabled people, the poor, etc.

All of this also before I get started on the fact that the cheapest way too feed yourself is on calorie rich food with little to no nutritional value, whereas the so oft touted and much lauded "healthy foods" are well out of the price range of anyone shopping on a budget. (Example: apple juice now costs me 1.01 p/1l, while I can buy cola from the same brand at 0.99 p/1.5l, while sliced white bread sets me back 0.69 for half a loaf, sliced brown bread with seeds just cost me 1.08 in the cheap supermarket. Don't get me started on the cost of fresh vegetables or meat. Fuck your health craze.)

I can afford a few luxuries, I can afford to try and save up to buy a flat, I can afford to buy the occasional novel and take the tram to work instead of biking. I'd like to keep being able to afford those things, especially since nothing will send the economy down the drain faster than people who have no money to spend.

So yeah, I'm becoming middle aged. Though thankfully not middle class.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was born and raised suburban white middle class, and that's not an upbringing you can truly escape.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve "wtf?")
When you walk into my shop five minutes (or even less) before closing, and the closing times are both the same city wide and clearly posted, you better be fucking grateful if I let you in. In fact, the only condition on which I'll let you in is that you already know what you need, and you just need to fetch it and pay.

Anyone who dislikes this policy, or stops me midway through the fetching-and-paying process to ask a question after all, turn out to need more things, or start a fucking conversation about the weather or the state of the Phillipines (no, really!) had better understand you feel my wrath in the form of a sternly worded, "Excuse me, but you'll have to come back tomorrow. No, really, we are closing. No, I will not sell you something else. Goodnight."

You see, I don't get paid overtime. So unless (and I have made this exception a few times) you make it clear you want to spend an obscene amount of money that means my lack of paid overtime is compensated by a heap of commission, I'm not going to be nice. I might smile, but I'm not going to be nice.

This is because you are rude. Now go away.
verasteine: Steve (H50 "great a room full of people")
Things not to do after a super busy day at work: make withdrawals from the ATM, apparently. Instead of going for 'choose amount' my finger went for 'quick withdrawal' and I got way too much money that was earmarked for my rent.

Yeah, thankfully I have savings and live in the modern age of online banking, so it's no great drama even though the first of the month is coming up (when my rent needs paying) and I don't get paid monthly and thus I'm nearly out of money. Yeah.

Self, you do manage to fail at adulthood. This just makes me wonder if my parents did these sorts of things and simply didn't share their embarrassment with me (very likely) or that they always had enough money and therefore it wouldn't mean a major deal to them if they did (most likely.)

Also, bizarrely, the supermarket started closing while I was still in it and now I can't tell if they changed their opening hours or if I never shop there on Sundays. Twilight zone moment. Either way, it seemed bizarre since the place was absolutely jam packed with shoppers and the queues were gigantic, but it's badly run as it is and just suffers from having no competition that can afford to sit in the biggest shopping street downtown.

They were, by the way, still out of my favourite cheese and I had to settle for store brand, which is less yummy and more expensive, but I have a lunch guest coming over tomorrow so I couldn't not buy cheese. I'm just sharing this because it's one of those annoyances that a captive shopper suffers from.

Don't get me started on price hikes. (Who pays €1.60 for a litre of grape juice? Who are you people? We should all take a stand, for serious.)
verasteine: Steve ((gen) "Wow are you stupid!")
BBC News this morning starts on some twaddle about the importance of breast feeding, goes on to say, "But there is another, important thing women can do to ensure their newborn's health."

Okay, nice scaremongering there. What is it?

Actually, the report/discussion is on a medical study suggesting the umbilical cord shouldn't be cut as soon as it is. And they're not really sure about it to begin with.

So what the fuck does this have to do with women giving birth? Nada. it's about doctors.

I think I'm getting feminism fatigue. I give up.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve)
This won't be a great surprise to most, but for now, I'm done with this show. I don't know if I'll come back to it or not, whether I'll watch the end of the season some other time, but for now, I have to quit watching something that is just making me unhappy.

It's no great secret that I'm a Steve/Danny shipper and it's not great secret that I'm a Steve girl, and I can't watch this show if Steve/Cath is so obviously the end game. I tried to like Cath, I tried to live with the character as part of the cast, but I'm done. The actress playing her didn't help herself by vicariously insulting me and my friends, and Lenkov's tacit endorsement didn't help, either. I don't know if that changed anything for me, but it happened, and well.

If this makes me sexist, then I'm sexist. I don't want Steve dating someone who is present all the time. I like procedurals because they usually don't have this. I don't like my leading man with a woman unless I'm fannish about that pairing, and I don't know, if that's sexism, I'm sexist, because I can't change how I feel. I tried; it isn't happening. So for now, I'm out.

Anyone for whom I was betaing: I've no problem betaing anything that doesn't have Cath in it, but I obviously won't be up to date with canon past 3.20. It's your own call; I'll understand completely if you prefer to go with someone else.

I have and will be doing some unfollowing on twitter/tumblr, just for my own peace of mind. In a few weeks, or after the finale or something, I'll probably pop back in and reconnect. I'll also come back online in gchat this week, though I might hug my red status for a bit; if you'd like to talk to me, just send me an email or poke me, and I'll probably be around. I'm sorry, guys. I really thought I'd be here till the end, but I didn't see this coming.
verasteine: Steve ((gen) "we hate all the same people")
Since five minutes on twitter's hashtags on this topic made me feel like people were talking about me without consulting me, consider this my contribution.

Wanna know about autism? Ask away. I can't tell you what everyone with the disorder experiences, but I can tell you what it's like for me. Or we can talk about the weather or your favourite flowers or something, that's okay, too. As long as I don't have to see any more "helpful" people talking to families whose relatives "suffer" from it.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve "orange doesn't become me")
Remember when I got promoted? Like, six months ago now (September 21st, because I remember everything in my life based on a fannish calendar.) Anyways. I got promoted, and I moved branches because no one who is trained in a branch can be promoted within its hierarchy, with good reason, so I moved. Well, I had some issues with the Boss, culminating in a long conversation and a Plan, but I never really got enthusiastic about it.

The team I inherited was a difficult bunch, and I never really got them to perform well. Staff management isn't my strong suit (dude, autistic here) and the things I am good at, the number crunching, the efficiency, the myriad of paperwork we're required to file, are the same thing Boss was good at (minus the efficiency, my god.) Both the team and he made me feel at times like I was a nagging mother trying to get them to clean their rooms, which they would then do for two weeks and lose interest again. I never really got to do all the things I wanted to do when I started there, and over time, I let things slide and dropped the ball.

It helps not to do so in front of your supervisor, and then follow that up the next week with doing it in front of the company CEO.

Yeah. Oops. My supervisor already asked me what I thought of my job and when I wasn't one hundred percent enthusiastic about it, she wanted to know why. I indicated some of my problems and she asked me what I wanted her to do about it, and I said, transfer me or him. We're never going to be a stellar team, we don't have matching strengths. She said she'd think about it and take it into account in the next round of reorganisations, scheduled six months from now.

Yeah, that's not what happened. Instead I was asked to come in early last week Thursday, and, typical of Boss, he didn't tell me why or anything, so I blithely walked in to a meeting with him and our supervisor utterly unprepared. Thankfully, I don't intimidate easily, so I managed to hold my own throughout the "I'm disappointed in your performance" conversation that we had. (I liked the way he slouched in his seat the whole time and didn't contribute much. This is on par with the feedback I've had from him the whole six months I've worked for him.) Since I was disappointed in my own performance, I wasn't surprised. What I was surprised by was the supervisor's announcement. "I'm going to transfer you," she said, "on March 24th."

Oooookay. That's unexpected.

But, here's the kicker. I'm going back to my old job, only with my new job title and pay and conditions. There's a new boss in charge there, and she and I having matching strengths (she's terrible at paperwork and efficiency, fabulous at staff management and training.) We had a meeting on the same day I got the news and she said all kinds of sensible things that I agreed with. I told her not to be shy about criticism and that I wanted to learn, and my old team is already making noises about being happy to have me back (the half of it that's still there from when I left, mind.) So I'm actually really excited about this change, even though, well, I screwed up and that's not, generally, a good thing. It's made me realise, though, that I'd been shifting my boundaries and standards because I was tired of the nagging mother role it pushed me into, and made me realise how much Boss was just not giving a fuck about what I said or what he needed to do for me.

Oh, bonus point: there was one person in the old team whom I hated, and she hated me. We were always polite to each other, but we've tried to get each other demoted, etc. So I mentioned that that might be a conflict, and supervisor said, "Oh, I'm transferring her too. I thought you two used to work together and would maybe collude against the new manager. But you don't get along? What a surprise." Oh, woman, how little you know me. Then again, once upon a time, you judged me by the Nuts bar I ate, so. I don't hold you in that high esteem, but I will smile and wave.
verasteine: Steve (IL Hathaway/Lewis warrant cards)
I've lately been rewatching Judging Amy. I'm sure some people on here will be too young to remember that show, while for others it's a dim memory, but anyway. It aired during that glorious time in the 90s when everything was okay and nothing hurt, the time I grew up in and will forever secretly long for. It was also very feminist. It has lines like, "It's not the education of women that's going to change the problem of rape. It's the education of young men." (ep 1.20) This is the sort of show that makes me gush about the 90s (yes, I'll stop now.)

It also had the following exchange, which I tripped unhappily over the other day:
Vincent: "You're gonna hug me now, aren't you?"
Donna nods.
Vincent: "Please don't."
Donna smiles and hugs him.

What is with that? Is it because he's a guy, and so it's okay? He's even posited as a "sensitive" guy, and I remember liking his character when watching it the first time around, but he utterly annoys me now because he revolves primarily around his manpain. Anyways.

My point is this: hugging and unwanted touch are part of overriding people's bodily integrity and consent. Usually, it happens because the hugger doesn't ask and the huggee doesn't say, "Please don't touch me," but in this case, that had actually been said out loud. And yet we weren't meant to see this exchange as inappropriate.

I'm a woman. I'm used to having to be outspoken in order to get what I want, because men will override what I say when it doesn't suit their interests or ideas for me. But the idea that all of us exist in some sort of permanent state of, "yes, it's okay to touch me unless I fight you off," is pervasive and disturbing.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve)
I don't really have the ability to be impartial about this ep, so I'll only say this: I enjoyed Doris and Steve. That's all.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve "determination & courage")
Writing is an art form.

The art, for me, lies in the construction of a sentence, the rhythm to it, the images the words evoke, that careful choice between one word and another that a writer makes every time they create a paragraph.

Transformative writing is a different art form.

I was reading Anthony Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes and the House of Silk today, because it's professional transformative work that, unlike so many of them, is actually passably good. It would be better if Horowitz didn't spend so much of the time showing off how well he knows canon. Seriously, he spends a good portion of every chapter grounding the story in memories of previous cases. And that's interesting, because either he assumes I've picked up his book but don't know Sherlock Holmes canon, in which case I don't need to be reminded of previous cases as I don't know them, or he assumes I'm familiar with Sherlock Holmes canon and that's why I've picked up his book. In which case, as you'll all agree, he doesn't need to remind me of canon, because I know it.

What is actually the case, of course, is that Horowitz assumes I have a passing familiarity with Holmes canon but need reminding of details, and he's helpfully slipping them in.

Except he's not so much slipping them in as he's throwing them around like a handful of sparkly confetti. My problem with this tactic is that it makes Horowitz look like the idiot who's showing off just how much he knows of canon. (The irony is that if Horowitz were that familiar with Arthur Conan Doyle's work, he also knows Doyle was actually terrible at keeping up with his own canon and frequently changed major details. Steven Moffat is, I'm sure, very grateful; Freeman's Watson's psychosomatic injury is based on one of these detail flips.) But, as the man said, I digress.

Transformative writing is about a shared canon. It assumes a familiarity on the part of the reader, and as a writer, the key is to assess exactly how familiar an audience will be with a given detail, and how much they need it rehashed for a piece to be comfortably read.

This is a lot more complex than we fan writers would think it is. Take an average fandom and look at a fic from two years ago, and see how easily you can follow the details referenced in that fic. A transformative fic is grounded not only in canonical details, but also in time. (The term AU isn't applied retrospectively, for instance. Think on that for a moment.)

The reason we don't think about this in detail is because most fandoms are current and most transformative works are grounded in the recent canon, the just happened, last week's episode, this year's season. They involve canonical details that go back further, but we build upon those as a shared knowledge base, and weave in what comes next, sometimes creatively, because a television canon is always multi-authored, usually leaving Doyle's wandering war wounds a relatively minor continuity offence compared to what we deal with.

What separates fan work from professional transformative work, in my view, is love.

No one loves a canon as much as its fandom. Fandom is frequently accused of being loyal, of being absurdly over-invested, of being crazy, but very rarely of love, when it's actually its driving force. No one understands that love but fellow fans; there's no one to whom I can explain why I flap my hands while making odd noises at hearing of a certain guest star returning or a rumours of a particular storyline, except for the fellow fannish, whether they're in the same fandom or not. My point is this, we bring love to the table.

So let's sum up. A shared love, a shared knowledge, a shared canon.

Sharing is key, in all of this. Horowitz overshares, fan writers undershare. Horowitz overshares because he writes for those who do not love, we undershare because we write only for those who love. Fandom is frequently misunderstood by people from the outside because we have our own language, our own terms, our own codes of communication. From the sort of slang that requires knowledge of a specific canon (usernames can be fandom specific only to those in the know) to a set of terms that we've created because the writing world that isn't fannish doesn't have terminology for what we do (hurt/comfort is the most commonly named example, but think of woobie or simply slash or het.)

I write fan work because I love. I love the art of the written word, I love my leading man, I love my fellow fans and the joy they give me, I love the moments when I spontaneously flap my hands because of the potential of something I haven't seen yet. Whenever I read fan work, I want to see that love reflected. I want to see my leading man through the writer's eyes, his beauty, his flaws, his suffering, his joy. (Or hers, if you will.) I know why I love the character I write, now show me why you do. Once upon a time I wrote a long fic in which I examined my favourite character through the eyes of another. I grew to love that other, because he loved my character just like I did. He's fictional, I as the author manipulated him into doing my bidding, so, you may ask, how can I grow to love someone for that?

I didn't invent him.

I manipulated him, I studied him, I created the circumstances for him to act, but I didn't invent him. He's the product of a few high paid Hollywood producers, a talented actor, a wardrobe assistant, the product placement company that provides his car/house/favourite toy, the director of the week. He's beautiful because the actor is, smart because the writer is, fashionable because the wardrobe person is.

He is already shared, but through the act of writing him, I made him mine. He became alive inside me. I studied how he moved to describe it so you, the reader, would recognise it, how he talked so you could read my sentences in his voice, I studied his choices so I could, as a writer, manipulate him into breaking his own heart. (I like angst, okay. Fill in your poison of choice.)

No one will ever sell a story to me if they do not love. And they must love all, the beauty and the flaws, the happiness and the anger, because if you don't, if you spit and polish away a bit of the character that makes him human, you lose who has been created. Every writer makes a character their own through the act of writing, but the art of transfomative writing, the art of fan writing, is to not let that ownership overwhelm the truth of someone.

How you achieve this is very personal. Whether it is what turn of phrase suits you best, whether you are a writer who agonises between "a" and "the" in a sentence, or whether you don't know how to use metaphor, or whether you can't decide how to reference canon without making it resemble sparkly confetti, it's personal. It's part of being a writer before it's part of being a transformative writer, but loving and knowing who you write is the basis of it all. Readers sometimes speak of "your Ianto" or "your Kurt", to name a few famous characters, and they don't mean you've deviated from canon. They mean, "the way you love this person," they mean, "the parts of him you show," and usually tell you they thought it beautiful.

I find a lot of happiness in seeing beauty, but I don't mean the objectifying kind. Fandom loves more wholeheartedly and less judgementally than society at large, and it describes beauty better than most. (I find this the singularly hardest part of writing, describing beauty. Everything else is technique. That isn't.) I can tell from the book that unlike many other professional transformative works, Horowitz does love, but he doesn't love enough. He misses out on the beauty. (He also missed out on the lesson in the art of subtext. Nonetheless, the book is well worth a read.)

So next time you write, tell me why you love someone. Make that the story you write. Show me who they are and ground that in their mannerisms, their speech, their actions. If you find that you can't, learn to love. Learn to understand the characters and see their beauty and help me see it. Learn to love the art of crafting a sentence, and use that tool.

Love.
verasteine: Steve has a gun (H50 Steve gun)
[livejournal.com profile] queer_fest is still accepting prompts until this Friday! This means you should all go forth and prompt! You don't need to participate or be a member to prompt, so come on. Help a girl out here. There's very little about Hawaii Five-0 yet, I need me some Steve prompts! Go! What are you waiting for? Shoo.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve emo)
I am resisting editing what I've written. Now, coming back after a writer's block is always hard because I make more mistakes, am less smooth, less good than when I've been writing regularly for months. So yes, I ran into a few issues in these two drafts (yes, two) and now I'm resisting editing them. Because you know, then I have to figure out how to fix things, and that's confronting me with my mistakes.

On the other hand, I have a fic idea that's making my fingers itch. That's a good excuse, right? I can always do the editing later...

State of Me

Mar. 8th, 2013 12:56 pm
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve smiling)
Well, honestly, I'm still not dressed and typing this while still dripping from my shower, but.

I have passed my work exam from Tuesday (yes, the one I was supposed to do in February) with reasonably flying colours and am therefore done with corporate in-house training! So, the logical reaction to this is to volunteer to redo a training course, but they overhauled it since I took it so I bit the bullet. Either way, that one won't be a lot of work.

As I mentioned a while back, they changed the law in December, thus obligating me and my cohorts to get formal, external training, which will culminate in an actual degree and a code of ethics and an obligation to keep current etc. I have applied for this, which the company will pay for (unless I resign from my job in the next two years, which I won't) and I'm not sure it has an equivalent in English, but it's basically a low-level college degree and I hope to pass the exam sometime this year. Then I shall have yet another title, only this one will be useful in the job market.

So, yeah, if you follow me on twitter, expect more bitching about studying because this will be mostly an online degree and yeah. I don't do well at these self-study things.

Also, I'm an airhead; I know I owe people betas and I will get to those as soon as I can, hopefully today. Sorry about the delay, folks. And yes, I have two betaed fics sitting on my hard drive that I need to get around to editing; next week, when my head is back from wherever it wandered off to, I shall work on that and y'all shall get something to read. This'll make up for it, right? *looks hopeful*

ETA: We have the big sales weeks on at work, so that contributes to me having no brain. How hard is "everything is on sale!"? It's most frequently met with, "But I don't understand. What is on sale?" Everything, you fuckers! People are stupid. Except y'all. I like you.
verasteine: Steve (H50 Jameson looking down)
"While I want to believe we've arrived at and are living in the feminist idyll so hard-sought for and dreamed of by previous generations of women and men, I avoid most mainstream entertainment, particularly comedy, because frankly, I find it dehumanizing to be told over and over again that sex and sexual appeal are all, or the most important things, that women have to offer."

By Mary Kearl at XOJane.com (Mild trigger warning for mention of rape jokes.)
verasteine: Steve (H50 Steve emo)
So, for me, it's a little bit like the rest of the world has been let in on a secret I haven't been. I was born with this, my brain wired a bit differently from other people's brains, and at times it's like playing a guessing game when I interact with people. They don't know I'm wired differently so they're sending signals at me that I either miss or can't interpret, and it is both exhausting and frustrating.

This is the better known part of autism.

The lesser known bits are that I don't see the world the way other people do; my mind focusses on different details and has trouble seeing the big picture, I have trouble understanding instructions, I'm more sensitive to some sensory input while less sensitive to others, and my mind can't shut off very well. (It's like a hamster on a wheel, always running. And running. And running.) I have trouble processing and reacting to communication and I react very strongly to change.

This has given me an anxiety disorder and insomnia and chronic fatigue and a bunch of physical illnesses that are stress related. All of that is okay; I can and do hold down a job, I'm mostly happy with where I'm at in life and where I'm going, and I've accepted these limitations as being a part of what makes me unique. I'm very likely asexual as a result of it, I can process information at a speed that astounds neurotypical people, and I can think very well outside the box. There are upsides to this condition, definitely.

It's also a source of frustration to me, because all you neurotypical folks out there have this secret code to talk to each other that I don't and never will understand. I can and have learned how to fake it, when to ask about it, and when to let it go. Because it's an accepted code and everyone understands it, people are tiring and annoying because even when they are clear in their communication, I have to guess at what they're telling me. I don't know who'll be clear and who won't be, I don't know if you're that person that's going to be cracking jokes around me (because jokes, with their special double meanings and deadpan delivery, are the worst, even when I find them funny), or if someone is going to do something unexpected and throw me off.

I've been learning all of this in therapy over the last few months, and it's culminating in (understandable, says therapist) frustration at how much I have to work at things that "ordinary" people take for granted. It's not a frustration they can take away, and it's not fixable, because this is a genetic abnormality I inherited from my parents. So if I've been more annoying or more snappish lately, this is why.

May 2013

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