New York – I am in you!

It’s been a while since my last post, even though I told myself that I’d write more this year. This past month has been a total whirlwind in my life; some of it good, some of it stressful, but I’m dealing with it the best that I can. 

First bit of good news, we were able to get another vehicle, a very nice 2010 Mazda which makes me beyond happy. I’m a huge Mazda fan.  With said new Mazda we were able to make the trip halfway across the United States to our new home in New York. While we are staying with friends, this place still feels like home, a feeling that I don’t ever recall having before. When we got here we weren’t told, welcome to New York, we were told welcome home. 

Home.

It might not seem like a lot to some people,  but for someone like me who has always felt alone or left out…those four letters mean a lot. We are working on getting our own place, but I have this feeling the New York is going to be my home for a long time.   

Last night we had a get together for my family to meet the wonderful community here that helped us get out of Arkansas, and leave the crap we faced there behind. I had a hard time to start with, because of my inability to ‘people well’ I was sitting with my wife a bit away from everyone. I felt really bad because my social anxiety was starting to kick in and I was feeling overwhelmed. That mean little voice of self-doubt was laughing at me in the back of my mind. These wonderful people had done so much for my family and me and I couldn’t even interact with them. 

Then the strangest thing happened, a total first for me, people actually came to me a few at a time and I was able to fight past my anxiety ultimately and even spend time with a fairly large group of people. We played a music game, laughed, talked, and even sang together. 

I felt welcomed.

I felt loved.

 I felt like I belonged. 

I felt like I was part of a community. 

It was wonderful.

#community, #family-2, #new-york, #social-anxiety

No One Bothered to Stop

Driving in the winter really isn’t great fun if you living in a state that doesn’t prepare for the dangerous weather conditions in advance. This was the case Saturday evening when I was headed back to the house that my wife, two sons and I had been staying in. The misty rain that had been falling all day suddenly turned the highway into a treacherous black and  white path of ice, slush and snow when the temperatures began to dip below freezing.

We were approximately ten miles from our then home, when the rear end of my SUV began to lose traction and we start to slide, and in a construction zone! Bessie’s, the name by which we affectionately call our 2000 Ford Explorer Limited,rear end began to slide towards the construction cones which liter Highway 49 South, outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas. I was able to control the side enough to keep us from hitting the cones, but another patch of ice sent the beast of a vehicle sliding the opposite way towards the median.

I was almost under control in the slide when I felt the weight in the truck shift, and the beginnings of what I could only imagine would have ended up with us rolling the truck had I not reacted the way I did. I purposely slide the truck into the ditch to shift the weight and keep us from rolling side over side into the steep median and possibly the other lane of traffic. Meanwhile, my wife and eldest son were having fits, and understandably so, it was pretty nerve racking. I have to admit, I am pretty thankful for my obsession with drifting and the different methods of drifting as it allowed me to recognize the beginning changes in the center of gravity in the truck and correct it to keep us from “turtling over”.

We ended up in the center of the median, facing the same way we were going. Bessie had stalled out and the kids and wife seemed a bit terrified. What bothered me the most though, was as we were sliding off the road into the median a vehicle passed and didn’t even bother to stop. By the time we came to rest in the median, the rain had turned to snow and no less than eight vehicles (that were directly behind me) passed us and not one person bothered to stop.

Thankfully, my faithful beat-up SUV started back up with a little coaxing and we were able to make it back out of the median and to the house where we were staying. Bessie is beat up pretty good, I’ll need new tires for her rear end at the very least, and I’m beginning to have other issues as well, but my 2000 Ford Explorer Limited with 225k miles on it handled like a champ and my family came out of the incident with nothing more than an adrenaline filled ride.

#arkansas, #bad-road-conditions, #bad-weather, #car-accident, #driving, #explorer, #family-2, #fayetteville, #ford, #ford-explorer, #icy-road-conditions, #suv, #winter, #winter-driving

Holidays

I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays and each year when November rolls around I am struck with this mixture of giddy depression and a longing for my childhood years before my family started breaking apart.

While my family (my wife, children and I) don’t celebrate Thanksgiving now because of what it truly means, when I was growing up my family (my mother, father, siblings and I) did. The memories of my mother cooking all evening the day before Thanksgiving and then most of the morning and afternoon the day of Thanksgiving are still etched into my mind.

If I close my eyes and try my best to remember I can still see my mother making pies from scratch while cookies and cakes baked in the oven, or can smell the turkey while she mashed potatoes. I can feel all of this like it’s happening around me, a sense so overwhelming that I feel if I opened my eyes I’d be eight-years-old again standing in the kitchen begging to stay up just one more hour so that I could help finish the deserts the day before Thanksgiving.

I feel a twinge of guilt because of what Thanksgiving means to the Native Americans, and being part Cherokee, what I means to the Native brothers and sisters I never had the chance to grow up with. These are my memories though, and they are not forged from hatred, they were a time for my family to all gather together and to spend time with one another. It was a time of love and caring, something that I can never have again, because I am not welcome in my parents or my sibling’s lives. Sometimes I wonder if transitioning and becoming more comfortable with myself was worth the loss of my family, but then I remember where I was mentally when I started and how far I’ve come. The loss wasn’t worth it, but becoming myself and being more comfortable with myself has been.

I feel like I’m about to get over the emotional roller-coaster brought by November and then I’m struck with December which brings Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday, tied with Halloween, but still my favorite. I love the lights, decorations and the music, especially the bells. I’m sure I’ll never live it down, but I really like Carol of the Bells played with just the music. (My wife reads my blog and that’s her favorite Christmas song. I like to tease her all month about it. She likes the choral version though, and for me just the music alone is enough.)

For children though, Christmas is all about presents, and while my children may not be the most materialistic kids, that isn’t always necessarily true of their classmates. Children can be cruel to each other, especially those without a lot of money. This is painful lesson that I learned growing up. Without a lot of money presents aren’t as fancy or plentiful as other better off families, and when kids return to school after the break they get picked on if they didn’t get the latest or coolest gifts.

I can’t begin to put to words the amount of guilt I feel for this. It makes my depression even worse knowing that because of my disabilities we struggle each and every day which makes Christmas even worse. Often we’re lucky if we even have a tree while other people go crazy and spend thousands of dollars for one day. So I’m left with that feeling of giddy depression for the entire month of December with the hopes that the following year will be better.

I feel lucky that I have a family now to spend these holidays with even if they can be mixed bag of emotions for me. I think of all the people that don’t have someone to spend these times with, times that from grade school are so ingrained in our lives that we feel like we are horrible people if we don’t or can’t be part of society’s idea of holiday normal.  

It’s really tough.

Though over the past several years I’ve seen more people coming together for some of the holidays that don’t even know each other. Businesses are opening up and inviting anyone to come together for a meal regardless of anyone’s ability to buy gifts or pay for food. It may seem like a small act, something trivial to most but for some people it’s all the family they have and it can make all the difference in the world.

Seeing things like this, give me hope that one day, we as a people, can finally come together as one race and live in unity and understanding.

#caring, #childhood-memories, #christmas, #community, #family-2, #friendship, #holidays, #thanksgiving

Change of Scenery

Life has a funny way of taking plans, tearing them up, and then throwing them back in your face. This really seems to happen to anything that I plan. Back in June my family was supposed to move to Arkansas. I had planned for it. I even waited until school was let out to plan the move and it never happened.

Then I worked towards another plan, one for Oregon. The insurance companies there will cover my top surgery, so I’ll be one step closer to not hating the person staring back at me in the mirror. Sure, we were going to have to rough it, so to speak. With my being disabled as well as my wife, it would have taken a bit of time to get a place and to get settled. We would have camped, like an adventure of sorts. This plan also never happened.

So now school is starting here again, and I cannot allow my son to attend. Last year’s hell would be just the beginning. They refuse him the assistance that he needs and would rather throw an autistic child into a classroom where teachers have no control and thus he would become out of control. Homeschooling him makes him incredibly lonely, something that I struggle with constantly and have no wish to inflict on him, so the only choice is to move and move now.

What is the outcome?

On Wednesday, I’m traveling back to Texas to stay at the only place I have to stay at right now; my parent’s house. It isn’t ideal, but it’s all that I can do.

After the threats from the school district last year, the crimes against my family, and the hatred in the local news towards transgender people, I simply cannot stay in Amelia County. It is a fact that I hate, but only because of what it means I have to do. I have to leave my wife and step-son behind in this place that has become so abhorrent to me that the thought of the name makes me gag.

It’s only temporary, of course, at least until December, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. I’ve been working on ideas to keep my busy during this time, and I hope that some of these ideas will become reality. I guess we can only see what happens.

 

#autism, #children, #family-2, #moving, #texas, #transgender

Invisible

Your disdain for me is evident in the little games you like to play,

Each day you push me further hoping that I’ll disappear and go away.

I’ve put myself out there time and time again,

For everyone’s sake, I’ve tried just to be your friend.

But you only pretend that I exist when you want something from your tool,

But I’ll no longer play that part, I’m done with being the fool.

To you I’m invisible, you show it in the way that you act towards me.

I wonder if the pain you cause me gives you sadistic glee.

Even though it won’t matter for very long,

Will you even realize what I was worth when I’m gone?

#family-2, #literature, #poem, #poetry

A Hot Shower and a Hotel Room for the Night

As I turn the hot water on and stepped under the shower spray I couldn’t help but cry. It was the first time since the end of February that I’ve had a hot shower, or a shower at all for that matter. We’ve all been bathing in cold or lukewarm water to stay clean these past nearly two months.

I couldn’t stand not to have a hot shower or at least a cold one anymore. I was to the point where I was in tears every time that I had to bathe because the water drawn up from out well is so incredibly cold; it’s nearly as cold as ice water. We gave in and got a motel room for the night after making sure all of our animals would be okay until the morning.

All four of us enjoyed that hot shower for as long as we wanted and now we’re feeling a little better and a whole lot cleaner. A huge bonus for us is that in addition to having electricity to charge all our electronics, we also have wifi for the evening. Check-out is at 11 am tomorrow morning and while we’ll be gone before then because we have animals to care for, part of me wants to just stay where I am. I don’t want to go back to a place that has never really felt like my home.

We will have to move from the four acres that we’ve spent our last two years at before too much longer. At the moment, we are praying that I get my disability because I am unable to work a “normal job” due to my slew of problems. (My ASD has a huge part to play in this.) My lawyers said that I should have it within six months, that was in July of 2015. If that doesn’t happen I don’t want to guess where we will end up, most likely homeless once again drifting as we were before.

I don’t like the thought of that, but what can I really do?

What are my other options besides killing myself?

I can’t stay in a place where my son and I have never been welcomed. Where I’m made to feel like my life is irrelevant and I’m worthless, no matter how hard I work.

I’ll never forget the words “people like that make me feel uncomfortable and I don’t like being around them”…people like that, she meant people like me. People that are different from the masses, people that have disabilities, people like me son. We’re different and therefore not wanted. At least, that is how I’ve felt since that day.

No matter how hard I try to be pleasant, how hard I tried to care and show that I cared about her health and well-being, I will never be good enough because I’m one of those people. No matter how much I do for her, or how many times I fix something of hers that is broken I remain those people, like a foul tasting fruit of a word spit out in disgust.

It isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to my son.

So we have to do what we have always done, move on and get by the best that we can.

But those are plans for the future, and worry as we may with them there is no way to make them anything other than wishes and hopes at this point. Hopes that my family can find a new home before my depression pushes me over the edge. Hopes that my family can find a way to sustain ourselves despite the overwhelming odds and disabilities that we face. Dreams that we can breathe easy one day and be happy again.

Hopes and dreams are all we have right now, aside from each other.

#autism, #depression, #disability, #disabled-people, #family-2, #fears-of-homelessness, #home, #hopes-and-dreams, #hot-shower, #motel-room, #moving

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.

#animals-2, #bunnies, #family-2, #farm-animals, #farm-life, #homestead-life, #homesteader, #homesteading, #off-the-grid, #rabbits, #raising-farm-animals