Closing in on a year and other tales of survival (or who let me adult? WTF?!)

Yesterday was Andrew’s birthday. He would have been 54. I was bombarded all day with memories from various social websites reminding me of this fact and of all the birthdays in years past and how we celebrated. Mostly it was concerts. Because our whole lives were concerts. But mostly I woke up feeling lost because for the first time in 16 years I did not wake up to snuggle his  crazy blonde curls that I affectionately called Rooster head and tell him “You’re 8 years older than me”. July was very special for us. Our first date was July 15th and for years (including that first date) went to Muncie for Shakespeare at Minnetrista and later on BSU’s campus until they did away with it altogether. His birthday came on July 19th and 7 years 7 days and 7 hours later on July 26th came my birthday. It seemed our whole world revolved around 7s. Now I have had to add the anniversary of his mom to July on the 14th. In the past, our little group of 3 couples celebrated four of our six birthdays in this week. Starting with Drew’s birthday and ending with mine. It seems a little weird to start on a different birthday this year.

It also seemed weird to sit quietly at home and go to bed fairly early last night.

We plan to celebrate a little with a lantern release tonight. Just the few of us getting together and remembering a man who made so much impact on all of us and left such a giant gap behind. It’s important to go through these rituals of remembering and feeling all of the feelings that come with it. It makes us…..(swallow) human.

If I had known a year ago that my life was going to be so drastically changed and forever altered, I don’t know if I would have acted/behaved/done anything differently. But I do know that I would have still put my head down and moved forward with everything that is inside of me because I am too stubborn/dumb/pathetic to do anything less than that.

So this year has been filled with all of the firsts. Which suck. Every. One. But still I move forward. This year has also been filled with lots of changes. I changed jobs, hairstyles, focuses, relationships, coworkers and cars. I didn’t get stuck but am often debilitated by the thing that brought all of these changes. I am not happier in these changes, per se, but I am feeling a hell of a lot less stressed about life in general. I have found support in places that I did not know existed. I have learned that we take life way too seriously and that we worry about far too many things that…..Just. Don’t. Matter. And we also let life get on top of us in ways that…..May. Just. Kill. Us.

Think about those things for a moment. Meditate on them. Use them for a mantra. Life is way too short to fuck around with people who make us miserable and far too precious to waste time doing things that don’t make us happy or lead to a way to make us happy.

Afterall, I decided that after 2 years of being stuck in a job that I hated and that had become some sort of demented antagonist in my life, that I was moving on. With or without a replacement job. Luckily a replacement job came along.  I have learned to appreciate little things in life. I consider nothing wasted time anymore. Roger wants to take a car ride?  Let’s go! Chance to take a day off work and take my kid to see our lads <bows head in reverence> Liverpool play on US soil? Fuck yes! Take my friends and kid to concerts? Hell yes! (Side note: you have not lived until you realise that you prolly played WAY too much Violent Femmes while your kid was growing up because you are standing next to him at that concert and you both are screaming the lyrics “why can’t I get just one fuck” at top volume.)

Have a written a word outside of a few blogs since Andrew died? No, I have not. But let me tell you why. I sit in front of the screen writing a blog and I cry my eyes out. I am not ready to write anything else right now. Writing is intensely personal and intensely emotional. I am just not ready to share that much with anyone right now. I haven’t stopped being creative. I have been working on the Autie Zombie Girl shop and things are starting to come together in a way. I have a working website: Weird gifts for Weird people. For now, this is satisfying my creativity. I will go back to writing. But right now, there is so much to do!

I challenged myself this year. It would be very easy for me to go inside, shut the door, lock the latch with that satisfying CLICK and….Never. Come. Out. Again. But because that is the easy answer, I did not do that. Instead I put myself out there. I go to the market every Saturday. Good or bad weather. Good or bad sales. I signed up to do some local shows. That is definitely not in my comfort zone. But without Drew to buffer the world for me, I have had to learn to do it for myself. I do occasionally still hide. I still have Asperger’s for fuck’s sake. But I had to get strong enough to do things on my own. I always have. I have always had this pool of getupandgoness that makes me move forward in a generally lucid manner.

I am now also LITERALLY my husband’s brother’s keeper. Not many of you know that Drew has a brother with an extremely awful mental illness. He is paranoid schizophrenic. When their mom died, Drew and I promised we would look after Mark. When Drew died, I thought that it was my job to fulfill that promise. He was arrested a few months ago in Family Dollar arguing with his voices and destroying merchandise. We got him a placement in first our local mental health agency and then our state mental health hospital. The guardianship hearing was a hoot. Drew’s real father showed up to contest it. He’d succeeded in putting off the hearing for a month. He attempted to make it a three ring circus, but did not succeed. He told the judge that I was crazy and that I was famous on the internet because “her people call her auntie zombie girl”. He also tried to turn being weird into a bad thing. He told the judge that I was proud of being different. So the judge told him that he could see I was different from where he was sitting and he was going to give me guardianship anyways. Bam!

I have been tempted often in the last couple of months to send him a letter and tell him that this is  not how good Christians and Believers behave. That he should be happy that someone has stepped up to take care of Mark. Afterall, he’s just as crazy if not crazier than Mark. He does not see it that way. Thankfully, I have people on my side in that family. Drew’s cousin told the rest of the family that I was obviously the best person for the job. Afterall, his own mother trusted me to take care of him in her absence. I also made sure to dispel the myth that Drew’s mom died atop a giant pile of money that was earmarked for Mark’s care. This is not the case at all. It’s hard to make people who only use money and their own rewards/benefits as a basis for helping others understand that sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.

I continue to clean the house and to put his items away that will eventually go to an auction and be used to pay for his headstone. I continue to find memories of what our life together was and what it meant to him. I believe he was truly happy. Not just with me and our marriage, but with his life. He loved his little part time job and he loved fixing things. He was starting to put together a little network of people that needed things fixed. He enjoyed the freedom of doing what he wanted when he wanted and taking as long as he wanted to so that the job was done right. He was truly in a very good place in life.

So ahead of us are the last few firsts. My first birthday (in 16 years) without him. My first year without him. It’s a struggle that I feel immensely under equipped to take on. But here we are. How would I have done this all without the love and support that I have? I have no idea. Prolly not very well.

I miss his smile. I miss waking up every day and told how pretty I am. I miss his gentle kindness. I miss his confidence. I miss the confidence that he gave me in myself. I miss having a built in concert/movie buddy. I miss everything about him deep into my soul. Life is not as happy without him. Music is not as good without him. My house is so quiet and empty without him. He was my best friend.

A Mother’s Humour and Other Ways to Delve Into Madness

It’s literally been a very odd week. It started with Mother’s Day. I, of course, wanted Wee Geek to go and pick up my mom and drive to Muncie and meet us at Outback for lunch. Which after all the court broo-haha on Friday prior to that would have been nice. However, my mom was in one of her moods that are so aspy, and yet, so completely odd to me. She decided that she didn’t want to go. I guess it was fine. Wee Geek told me to let it go and I did. So The Fix it Guy and I spent Mother’s Day eating lunch at Outback and then going to an auction which turned out to be completely great. I picked up a ton of nice vintage jewelry that I’m ever so much in love with.

I don’t pretend to understand why my mom has these moments, but when I look at it, I guess that occasionally, I do as well. So I shouldn’t be too hard on her. After all, we all need time to do our own thing and I would want her to accept that about me.

Another odd thing about Mother’s Day was that a dear friend’s mother died that day. I didn’t know this friend’s mother very well, I’ve only met her a few times, but I’m told that the irony in her dying this particular day is simply delicious. I’m glad that my friend is able to deal with the loss of his only surviving parent with this kind of humour. He, does, in general, try to face most trials in his life in this way and I suppose that this is prolly why we are friends. Because we both approach life’s tragedies and trials as if it is in reality some gargantuan joke that we just don’t know the punch line to. And we laugh anyway. If you can’t beat them, by god, join them.

I’ve been very interested in watching the dynamics of this family as they go through this difficult time, because as always, I am a keen observer of humans in general. (I may have to report back to the Big Giant Head at any moment…see if you have no idea what that refers to.) I hope that my friends don’t mind my observations. My friend is trying very hard to be the zen hippy dippy California guy and stay in the middle because his sister is a wreck and his brother is the guy who always orchestrates the duck line and makes sure that it is doing the right thing. So the only thing left for him to be is the guy in the middle who is even.

This process has been difficult to watch because it brings to mind the idea that our parents are getting older and their health is going to decline and they are going to need help. I am very aware that my mom doesn’t have anyone else to rely on that’s close except for me. This is hard and I often wish she would move closer to us so that I don’t have to worry so damn much.

So going through this week, trying to be considerate of my friend’s feelings, I have just been trying to anticipate what he might need and I’ve been trying to make sure that he knows that he has support or someone who accepts him and loves him for who he is. It is hard to know what to do in these situations, but especially hard when you live on the spectrum because you just never are quite sure what the protocol for social behavior is. Grieving times compound this because people do not react in uniform ways to grief. Very distressing for those of us who need some sort of species conformity in order to form rules for ourselves so that we don’t inadvertently perform some ritual that is going to cause Karma to visit us 4 times daily with extra healthy heapings of bad luck.  So, if all of you neurotypical people could just get together and figure out a uniform way to grieve, that would be very helpful, thank you.

I never know what to say. Thankfully, The Fix it Guy knows that you are supposed to say silly things like “I’m sorry for your loss”. I don’t even know how that is remotely comforting. I much prefer, “I am here for you to use however you need to so that you can get through this truly horrific moment in your life”. I would never even have guessed “I’m sorry for your loss” not even with cue cards.

So, I am still teaching blogging at this conference tomorrow and so have to miss the funeral. I always feel as if funerals should really truly be for people who were close to the dead person or family. I’m just sort of a random passerby who happens to know three of her four kids. I will be thinking of my friends tomorrow as they go down this path of their lives. It is with a truly heavy heart that I think of them.

In other news….I think I’ve figured out what the next phase in my life is. So now I have to hurry up and do all of the stuff that I said I would do while I was not working. Craft room will be completely moved this upcoming week as well as one zombie book edited. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of my craftiness.

The first three doctors

The first three doctors

The Fourth Doctor

The Fourth Doctor

The Fifth Doctor

The Fifth Doctor


Dinner for Schmucks (& other enlightening messages)

Last night was movie date night at my house and we decided to go see “Dinner with Schmucks”.  This turned out to be pretty cool.

First we have corporate slog Tim who is trying to get ahead with the not so subtle urging of his secretary who apparently has more than a bizarre fixation on cole slaw.  Tim is a go-getter and comes up with a great idea to save his company’s business.  Of course, he is still stepped on and looked over even with this fantastic idea in place and everything but signed off on.

Tim has a fantastic girlfriend who is some sort of art curator for weirdos (and not the good kind necessarily, but the truly weird kind).  She’s trying to get ahead, too.  Which is apparently sort of the catalyst for some of the movie’s plot.  That and the fact that he keeps asking her to marry him and she keeps saying no.

Tim is told that he can be one of the big boys by inviting an idiot to dinner and letting all of the other corporate schmoes make fun of them.  Apparently  everyone invites an idiot to dinner and they pick the best idiot, give them an award, and then send them back into the world supposedly “none the wiser”.  So, at first, it looks as if  Tim’s idiot is going to be his girlfriend’s weird artist.  As luck would have it, he practically runs over his “idiot”.  Enter Steve Carell who makes fantastically detailed diorama scenes with dead mice (before you get too grossed out, he’s a taxidermist).  They really are pretty wonderful.

So, the long and the short of it is that girlfriend finds out and thinks it’s awful and leaves, Steve Carell’s character gets the date wrong, disaster ensues and really the middle chunk of the movie is like a bizarre atomic fireball skipping across an expanse of dry plains that is seemingly endless.  You will laugh.  I promise.

I don’t want to spoil it all for you because really it’s a pretty funny movie.  You will laugh at the final dinner scene and you will definitely feel as if there was a message to be had here. 

The message that I want you to take away is the same as my message always is.  Just because it’s weird or different, it’s not wrong.  It’s just weird and different. To you.

Tim gains an amazing insight at the final dinner when he realises that some of these people truly are just bizarre, but some of them are actually extraordinarily talented, even though they are bizarre talents.  I read once in an interview with a guy who does some of the Ripley’s books that these strange talents are often times the result of someone spending way too much time alone in their rooms.  Funny, but probably true.

So, Tim gets this insight bonking him on the head and he manages to turn not only himself around, but Steve Carell’s character as well.  This is the good part. 

I think about how often people are afraid of being different because it MIGHT sound weird to someone else and so they don’t.  They pray for a life as a cookie cutter person and make it fulfill them.  These are the people who always seem to have a big hole in them because they are intrinsically unfulfilled and haven’t figured out their true purpose.  They are just going along doing what they think that everyone else thinks they should do.

The only problem with that is the big hole of unfulfillment that sits in your stomach like a rock.  This leads to filling it with other things and none of them are probably good.  This, of course, leads me to the point.  (I know, I never know what the point of a blog is until I get to it and it’s always a long and scenic drive.  I’m sorry.  Welcome to the land of Asperger’s.)  The point being that we should all strive to do something in our lives that we find fulfilling and that makes us feel whole and complete as people.  A world full of people who are all the same is just that…always the same and very boring.  It’s the truly different people who have their own music and their very own drummer who make the difference in the world.  Think of your “crazy” friend.  The one who is always getting you into trouble, but that you love with all your heart, just the same.  Well, that’s the guy we should strive to be.

So, I know, it started out as a movie review, but I think that maybe I had it in the back of my brain all along that the true message of this movie was bigger.  Our wacky friends are the ones that we would never trade.  I seem to be the wacky friend in most of my friends’ universes. Would you believe that even wacky friends have wacky friends?  I do.  Her name is Dianne.  (And Didi, you knew that it was only a matter of time before you got mentioned in this blog, if the Best Buy guy can’t escape, neither can you!)  She is the one who let me know at the most critical juncture in my life that it was okay to be different.  It was actually okay to listen to the drummer and do a little dance to his tune.  Apparently, I did the same thing for her.  How bizarre is my world?

Which sort of leads me to another point. All you need is one good friend. One good friend who is always there, good/bad, rich/poor, happy/sad, living/dead.  If you have one good friend that gives you the support that you so desperately need when you need it and the pats on the back when you feel that you desperately deserve them, then you, my friend are doing wonderfully.  It’s even better when your good friend gets your brain so well, that they can guide you through your darkness-of-the-day and get you back on track.  The bonus plan is that you never are both down at the same time.  It means everything if you are in such sync that you are able to always balance each other out.

Thanks, Dianne. I knew that there was a reason that I loved you more than my husband.  Laugh out loud!