All posts by Aydan O'Connor

My name is Aydan O'Connor, I am a: Father, Husband, Brother, Advocate, Transman, Author, Friend, Liberal, Activist, Human Being, Otaku, and a Pagan. I am proud of who I am and how far I have come. I fully understand that there are people in this world that either don't believe in who or what I am or are terribly afraid of it and react to any of the labels I proudly wear with fear. I challenge anyone with that outlook to engage in respectful and meaningful conversation with me. I am just one person, but one rain drop can raise the level of the ocean. A small difference for the better is still a difference. I assure you, I am like anyone else.

Tired: Adventures in Off-the-Grid Living

Tired doesn’t even begin to describe my daily state of affairs after beginning my foray into off-the-grid living. I go to sleep tired and I wake up tired, nearly every muscle in my body aching and my back in excruciating pain. There isn’t much difference now that spring has finally arrived compared to before we lost our power. It’s a little cooler in the mornings and a little warmer in the afternoons and a little darker inside when we don’t have the generator running.

Each day water has to be drawn from the well to water the animals, flush the toilets and wash dishes, clothing in as well as ourselves. In all honestly, it’s really a farm, not just a few animals: chickens, pigs, rabbits, cats, ferrets, parakeets, a green anole, and a hedgehog. We draw 30 to 40 gallons from the well every day and store it in 5-gallon buckets.

We are working towards a set-up with solar and wind power that will be offset with the occasional use of the small generator that we have. All these things take A LOT of money, though, and we’re not exactly rolling in cash.

My depression isn’t as prevalent as it has been, so I suppose I could consider going off the grid a blessing in surprise. The stress of worrying about paying an outrageous and borderline criminal electric bill is gone. I also happen to have seven tiny month old baby bunnies that keep me company when I feel upset. It’s really hard to have a bad day when you have tiny fur rockets running around you, or sitting on your shoulder like a parrot.

I do worry about the winter that we’re going to have this year, and I hope and pray that before it starts to hit we are completely prepared for it. This is going to mean stockpiling a lot of wood to burn in the wood-burning stove. I’ve been looking into wall heaters that use propane as well but it seems everyone is giving away firewood for free and free is about what we can afford right now.

The truck is finally running and back on the road, but I still need to put a new front driveshaft in it and it needs a new muffler. Within hours of passing state inspection the patch that I had put on the muffler blew off. This really didn’t surprise me much as the hole was bigger than my fist, I just couldn’t afford to replace the muffler.
I had hoped that this year would be a lot better than last year, but that’s not really been the case so far. I know I’m only ¼ of the way into 2016, but I sure as hell hope it gets better…a lot better.

Without: A Journey in Living “Off the Grid” (The Beginning)

Off the grid is a term often used to describe a style of living without being connected to utilities provided by a business, corporation or co-op. There are a lot of people in the United States and elsewhere in the world that live in this manner, some by choice and others not so much. When you live and grow up in a country like the United States, it is expected that you have things such as electricity, running water whenever you turn the tap on, and even cable television and internet.

In some cases, it is expected to have central heat and air, with air conditioning units and wood burning stoves or kerosene heaters being considered nearly barbaric and long out dated.

If you turn the water faucet on at my house no water will come out. If you flip the light switch on you will still be standing in darkness after the sun goes down. My cooking is done on a barbecue grill and an outdoor propane powered cookstove. The heat in the house is done with the help of a wood burning stove. My family lives completely off the grid.

 

In the middle of February the electric co-op that we had power through shut our power off without notice and refused to turn it back on unless we paid something to the tune of over $2000. This wasn’t the first time they did something like this, back around Thanksgiving they did the exact same thing. I’m sure I’ve written about both events, and the fact that the co-op has never sent us a bill with any regularity but because of laws passed that make corporations more valuable than people, people suffer.

So as a result of the co-op being the wonderful little assclowns that they are, my family has had to go off the grid. We are lucky enough to have a well, and are capable enough to draw water from the well to provide our animals, plants and ourselves with the water that we need. We have a gas powered generator now to power our computers and lights in the evenings for a while. We will be powering a well pump as soon as I can get it installed.

We’ve talked about changing over to solar power, but we don’t have the money for the set ups. We’re struggling enough as it is, and buying the generator wiped out what little savings we had.

There are times, more now than ever before, that I want to just give up. I don’t want to get up in the morning because I’m tired of the struggle. I have to keep reminding myself that there are people, and animals that depend on me to get out of bed and muddle through to day.

I’d like to start a gofundme account to raise the money for a whole house generator or a solar array, but that has never worked in the past. I don’t know enough people to make something like that work. Once again I’m reminded of how much of an outcast I am because of my disability. I have no friends or family to turn to for help. So I have to go at it alone.

I blame society for my difficulty interacting with it, but that’s a story for another time. The light will begin fading soon, lunch break is over and I have work that must be done before nightfall.

 

Playing Catch-up

Where do I begin? This last month and a half has been beyond hectic. This year was supposed to be better than last and yet it has already begun to descend into a spiral of negativity. I’ve been struggling with depression from the start of the year and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

From the start, I’ve been battling with a school district that wants to receive extra funding for having a child that is ASD in their system but refuses to place that child in a classroom where they will excel. Even after writing the Virginia Department of Education nothing has gotten done except the school district threatening me for keeping my son home and out of an environment that has caused him to begin self-stimulatory behavior again and stop eating. They kept threatening to call the truancy officer every time the school was called or talked to about trying to get my son a placement. The thing that really pisses me off is the fact they refused to do any testing until he was enrolled and attending their school which is against the law.

When it began evident to me that the school wasn’t going to do anything except tell me that all the diagnosis from the doctor were wrong and he was fine in normal class I removed him from school and begin to homeschool him once again. I’m not happy with this but it is better to homeschool him than allow him to become so out of control and lost because of the teacher’s inability to control their classroom than just look for social groups for him to be involved in.

Just as I finally thought that things were going to get better I came home one afternoon (Friday to be exact) to find that the power company had shut off the electricity. They have never sent us a bill on time or with any regularity, and every bill that we have received from them (whether past due or not) has always been marked for immediate disconnection. I know I’ve written about this in the past. This time, when we called them, we were told it wasn’t their fault we didn’t get the bill and that unless we paid them somewhere around $1300 plus another deposit of $1200 and a reconnect fee, they weren’t going to turn us back on.

Fuck you Southside Electric Co-op.

It would cost less to buy a whole house generator than to reconnect power with this company so they can just shut it off on whim yet again. We don’t even have that kind of money. We’re struggling enough as it is.

So once again, we have no electricity, which means drawing water from the well manually, using the woodstove for heat, and using candles and flashlights for light when it gets dark. No power means that when my Chromebook that I’m writing on runs out of charge I have to hunt down a library or other place where I can charge it.

We are looking for a generator, but honestly, they are expensive and we’d still have the expense of the gasoline or propane to run them. Using solar panels would be a much better idea, but we don’t have enough money for an array.

So we are stuck without power, our truck is still not roadworthy and I’m fighting the urge to slit my wrists so that I don’t have to wake up every morning to this hellish nightmare in which no one gives a shit.

I also expect to lose my phone before too much longer as well which means I’ll have to hike to a library to use internet and keep up with the world.

I think the saddest and most frustrating part about all this bullshit that is going on is that fact that I am living a third-world lifestyle in a first world country. Everyone brags on America and how great it is, but it’s a lie. It’s great if you have the money to buy it’s greatness. If you have the money to buy politicians, and corporations, then yes, America is fantastic.

However, if you don’t, it’s shit.

It’s a bunch of lies that we are fed as children to encourage a sense of elitism so we can convince our children that going to war to “defend America” is a fan-fucking-tastic idea.

But it’s all a lie.

There’s nothing great about this country anymore.

It’s corrupt country that people try to rule with their own misconstrued religions.

Not so different that the countries we’re fighting against after all…

 

Bittersweet Kind of Day

This morning was not a good morning. I laid in bed for far too long willing myself to get up and go feed my chickens. It wasn’t easy to get moving and once I was moving keeping myself going wasn’t easy either. I’m usually up and ready to feed the animals around dawn, today it was nearly 9:00 am  before I could force myself from my bed and get dressed and go outside.

It was like moving through sludge, a thick heavy sludge that threatened to suck every ounce of energy from my bones the more I fought through it. There was work to be done on my homestead, and I had to do it. The temperatures are going to start dropping again and I needed to cut firewood so that we could heat the back half of the house. That task was accomplished as the sun was beginning to set. I managed a little cleaning and reorganizing but nowhere near what I wanted to get done.

I balance between crying and not most of the day. If I happen to think or talk about anything remotely sad I’m tearing up and on the verge of bursting into tears. I haven’t been able to see my therapist since October of last year, and I don’t think seeing him is going to help get rid of this darkness surrounding me.

We’re getting rabbits next Saturday, and I find myself excited about something for the first time in half a year. Rabbits, I love rabbits, watching them hop around always makes me smile. I find them extremely calming when they are sweet and well mannered. We won’t be raising these rabbits as pets, though, living on a homestead means every animal has to have a purpose. Our rabbits will be a source of food, and eventually a source of income.

I feel bad when we have a slaughter day on our farm, but it passes because I know our livestock has plenty of room to move around on and aren’t kept in horrid conditions all their lives. They are spoiled far more than any normal “food” animal is. So it isn’t too bad.

Jack is back though, he showed up three days ago. I haven’t been able to catch him and bring him back inside though, and it’s tearing me apart. He acts like he’s in shock or something. Like the lights are on, but everyone is hiding in the basement. I was able to touch him tonight, he flinched and pulled back like he was expecting to be beaten and I cried. The most loving, friendly and well behaved cat I have even known acting like that broke my heart. I tried to grab him around the waist so I could get him back inside and ended up with claw marks on both of my hands and arms, and again I cried. For the moment that I had him in my hands, I knew he was real. Jack had really come home and I just have to calm him down. My Jack isn’t just my longing for my animal companion to come home so badly that I’m seeing things.

He’s real.
He’s home.

Razor’s Edge

I’m depressed. I know this and yet there is nothing that I can do to drag myself from the darkness. Each passing day I sink deeper and I’m left wondering why I even bother anymore. Some nights when I go to sleep I pray that I don’t wake up in the morning so the pain will end. So I don’t have to feel this torment any longer. I keep catching myself wondering if I should leave in the middle of the night, just wander into the cold dark night and let death take me into its seemingly warmer grip.

I can’t go see my doctor for help. Each and every time I have visited my doctor the answer has always been either A) antibiotics or B) we don’t treat that here but if your problem continues we’ll send you somewhere else. Somewhere else, i.e. my therapist doesn’t understand why my doctor can’t or rather won’t help. So I’m left being shoved back and forth with no one wanting to help me. This just adds to the depression.

I was managing, not doing so well but managing until my best friend disappeared. It’s funny how someone can say a cat is their best friend, but Jack was. He went missing around Christmas and I haven’t seen him since. No shelters have him, animal control doesn’t pick up stray cats, and no one has seen him. It’s like Jack just disappeared into the darkness. Disappearing is what I want to do. I know people probably think I’m crazy, but I don’t connect with people.

I can’t.

That’s part of the problem too.

Each time I get the courage to reach out and make a friend they end up brushing me off like I’m nothing. So I feel like a total failure. I can’t keep a friend for longer than a few months. I have people on my Facebook as friends, but they don’t know me. I don’t think any of them know my favorite color (red and purple), band (Disturbed), author (Edgar Allen Poe), my favorite animals (fox, rabbit, hawk), or anything really about me other than what I’ve given them in my profile. So really they aren’t my friends. I don’t talk to any of them except in passing on comments every now and then. If I disappeared tomorrow, I doubt any of them would notice. They would simply carry on with their lives and not even miss a step.

I am a ghost. At least, that’s how I feel. I move throughout this world never being noticed or important to anyone. I’m a failure.

I want to die. I want to end the loneliness.

I want to end the hurt that my parents and siblings continuously cause me.

I want to end being used like a tool.

I AM A HUMAN BEING.

I want to feel worth.

I want to be important.

I want to have value beyond what other people think that they can get out of me.

I’m tired of pretending my life isn’t falling apart. It’s never not been falling apart.

I’m tired of putting on a happy face when I’m dying.

I am tired of waking up so tired and worn out that I have to drag myself from bed to feed my chickens. I lie to myself every morning, if I don’t feed them, they’ll die. They need me. They don’t really. There are other people that would feed them.

But I need that little happiness every morning of seeing these birds running to me. I can pretend that they are running to me because they love me, not because they see me as a source of food. I can pretend they are excited to see me because they like my company. Those little lies are the only reason I haven’t slit my wrists in the bathtub.

I don’t even trust myself to shower alone anymore, I have my wife shower with me.
I don’t trust myself. I’m too damaged. I’m too broken. While some broken things can be fixed, there are others than cannot…and I am the other.  

Icing on the Cake

Jack is missing. Jack is my black cat that I have had since the day he was born. I was the one to pull the amneotic sack from around him when his feral cat mother shoved him away from her after she gave birth to him. I was the one that rubbed his tiny little body, crying and praying for him to breathe. Trembling, I held this tiny little black kitten in my hands crying tears of joy that he made it.

Jack is my black cat that I have had since the day he was born. I was the one to pull the amniotic sack from around him when his feral cat mother shoved him away from her after she gave birth to him. I was the one that rubbed his tiny little body, crying and praying for him to breathe. Trembling, I held this tiny little black kitten in my hands crying tears of joy that he made it.

This was about a year and a half ago. July 3, 2014, was when Saucy Jack the Ripper was born, and with my assistance began his life. I put him back with his mother and made her nurse him, and between my feeding and hers Jack grew into a healthy kitten, larger than his other siblings.

When he was six weeks old, I bought my wife a ferret for her birthday which she named Abby. I didn’t want Jack to be scared or agressive to any animal, so I started introducing him to every animal I could find. Abby was one of the first. The quickly became friends and loved to play together. When Jack was just a kitten Abby was nearly twice his size. She would roll herself around him and squeak him, but when Jack got older he started doing that to her.

I taught Jack to come when I call his name or whistle and he even sits on command for treats. He was the first animal I really started getting attached to since I lost Random, my German Shepard/American Bulldog mix. I still haven’t really gotten over losing Random, he was my best friend, we went everywhere together.

Now I’ve lost Jack.

He is housebroken, so I don’t have to worry with a litter box. He went to the door to be let outside and that was the last time I saw him. This was about a day before Christmas. Around Christmas time, we started having really bad weather here, there’s been a lot of rain and massive flooding. He’s went catting off for a day, day and a half at the longest; but he’s never been gone this long.

To end my beyond shity year, I’ve lost my Jack. My heart hurts, and it gets worse every time my mother-in-law’s stupid ass cat comes to my door and meows like Jack used to. I keep running to the doors and throwing them open hoping, praying, that I’ll be greeted by a pushy black panther looking cat.

I just want Jack to come home…
Why can I never keep a pet? Since I was a kid, whenever I got attached to an animal for some reason or another I lose them. The same pain over and over.

FB Group: Autistic Adults

Being autistic is a challenge that can be very trying even on your best day. From my experience, people don’t generally think like I do or even process information the same way I do. Bluntly put, I am the odd man out when compared with society. Due to my trouble with noise, I cannot live in a city or town; in fact, I live nearly twenty miles from the closest thing that you could consider to be a town. Even living where I do, next to someone that will not control their barking dog is emotionally draining on me.

Lately, I’ve been very depressed because of various issues going on in my life and I thought that maybe I could join a support group for people that were autistic and hopefully find some people that were a little more like me. So I searched for a few groups on Facebook and joined a couple that I thought I would mesh in. One of these groups was for LGBT autistics, and while the people there didn’t talk much I found that almost everything was geared towards people with Asperger’s, which is on the ASD scale, but it just isn’t how I am identified. Due to this, I quietly left the group after a little lurking because it didn’t feel like it was for me. If the group is still around when my son is older then I’d probably introduce him to it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Another group that I joined was called Autistic Adults, which you can find here if you’re interested.

I joined this group because I thought it was great to finally find a group of adults, that are supportive or so I thought. I asked on the group if anyone else had trouble getting a diagnosis as an adult. I had a few comments on the troubles that other people in the group had getting a diagnosis as an adult and had pretty much resigned myself to a long drawn out battle with doctors that don’t want to give me an answer or diagnosis. I’ve already been screened and the result was positive.

The one of the admins ( I had no clue he was an admin at the time.) chimed into my conversation and made suggestions that I’ve already tried. I told him this, and it seemed like he suddenly had a bone to pick with me. First, he had tried to suggest something that I had already done, which was get a screening. I had stated in the first post, that I just needed the official diagnosis and the screening was already done.

You can see that here in the screenshot.

 

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After this post, this guy kept pushing for me to call doctors (this is after the group had had a discussion about telephone conversations and I had admitted that talking on the phone gives me panic attacks, even thinking about talking on the phone can be triggering.) I told him that there were literally no doctors in my area that would diagnose an adult with autism that was respectful and that I couldn’t travel any distance because my SUV (Good Old Bessie) was currently broken down, but this wasn’t good enough of an answer it seemed.

After this, the guy told me that I should have my friends take me to the doctors.

I laughed. I’ll admit it. I fucking laughed at the computer screen when I read that, I laughed because crying would hurt too much. I told him I don’t have friends, and that I lived twenty miles from the nearest town.

I don’t have friends…something that has been so ungodly painful since June, just thrown into my face. So of course, I’m going to be annoyed with this guy now. He had to be right and I had to be lying, at least, that’s how it seemed to me, how could anyone not have friends?

If that wasn’t bad enough then this guy starts trying to tear apart everything I’ve said to other people. I present to you:

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Not that it is any of this guys business, but yes, because of transportation I haven’t been able to see my therapist since October, something that has not been very good for me.

It was after that post that this guy starts privately messaging me and demands to know if I use drugs and then accused me of using a fake name!

asshole

So yeah, after you accuse me of using a fake profile name, I’m going to be pissed. Using profile names that don’t match the name on their driver’s license has caused A LOT of transgender people to have their accounts shut down. My legal name is Aydan Keeley O’Connor and I’m damned proud of it, I fucking paid enough for it.

asshole2

It was clear this guy didn’t care what was “going on with me”, because if he had his opening message wouldn’t have been questioning me about drug use.

asshole3

Now, I shouldn’t have to explain this to an admin of a Facebook group, but because he isn’t my “friend” my screen name of AydanKOConnor (which is the link for my FB page) is going to come up, not my name. Then he began to question what I write? This guy didn’t introduce himself to me when I first joined that page several days prior, and now because I didn’t idolize him as some god he was harassing me and demanding to know about me? I don’t think so. I stopped talking to him, but I did message one of the other admin and creator of the group when I first started having trouble with him. She did nothing.

My wife even wrote her and other admins and this was the response she got.

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From what my wife understands this guy was telling other admins that I was using a fake name.

Why? Because he didn’t know how facebook works. If you’re not my friend, you’re not going to see much on my page. However, because this David fellow thought I was using a fake name because my account name was showing up I was removed from the only group that I had found to be catered to adults with autism.

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See the difference? AydanOConnor was already taken when I tried to set my facebook username so I used AydanKOConnor instead. K as in Keeley which is my legal middle name.

I feel like the real problem is this though:

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Right at the top of my groups (which are viewable for all) is the fact that I belong to an LGBT group for ASD. The reason I say this is because when my wife wanted to know why I was so upset ( this put me in meltdown mode) and I shoved my phone at her, and after she read the messages she sent this guy a message of her own, wanting to know why he was doing what he was doing.

He started by belittling her and accusing her of using a fake name as well, and when my wife sent him a picture of proof of who she was, he wanted to know if she (my wife) was really me. So my wife sent him a photo of my ID, and then he started asking for personal information.

So because of this gem, I almost had a complete meltdown on top of teetering back and forth on being suicidal. This is not the way you’re supposed to treat each other in a support group.

I wanted to share this with anyone that reads my blog because I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. We don’t need anyone TG suicides or suicides period for that matter, and if I didn’t have such a wonderful wife, this would have seriously pushed me to end it all.