The Reason for the Season

It was just before Christmas, 11 years ago, that Women’s Refuge saved my life.

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The Things I Carry

Someone asked me the other day about my necklace. Then they apologised and suggested it was too personal a question.

But it’s not. I’m more than happy to talk about my necklace, it’s just that no one ever asks.

What I wear is a silver matchbox on a long chain. I wear it every day and with all outfits. I sleep with it on. I only take it off when I bathe. Usually the matchbox is hidden in my cleavage, so people don’t tend to even notice it. It’s similar to this one, from


The matchbox is hallmarked for 1910, and belonged to my great grand-uncle. He was a pipe smoker, but I don’t use it for matches.

What I keep inside it is mostly rocks. Tiny rocks.

There’s a piece of basalt from outside my childhood home in Flagstaff, AZ. Basalt is one of the most common, most basic rocks on Earth – kind of a building block of both the Earth and the Moon.

There’s a piece of amethyst, which the ancient Greeks believed would prevent intoxication and give you clarity of mind.

There’s obsidian, for protection, and tiger eye, for courage.

There’s turquoise, and a piece of sandstone from the Grand Canyon. There’s iron pyrite from Meteor Crater, which I cherished at the age of 6 because I truly believed it was gold.

Then there’s a poem about a friend I lost in my childhood. There’s a claw from my cat, Turtle. who died 14 years ago. There’s the silver ring that my husband first gave me (which is actually too big to fit my fingers).

What I carry with me is strength and foundation. I carry the memories that keep old loves alive, and the symbol of new love. I carry home with me, and faith, and a sense of the wonder and mystery of the world.

I carry with me everything I need.


Autism in the Age of Social Media

I removed a friend on Facebook tonight.

This is a wholly insignificant event in the greater scheme of life, but I’ve only done it once before (and I wrote about that a couple of weeks ago). This time around, the person didn’t hit on me inappropriately, or creep me out, or just generally bug me. Their crime wasn’t really even a crime. Their crime was to go somewhere fun without me.

It is entirely stupid, and this is part of the reason why I’m writing about it. To autopsy my own feelings. To expose the ugliness that lies within.

Of course, lots of my Facebook friends (probably all of my Facebook friends) go and do fun stuff without me. And when they put pictures of it on Facebook, I am happy for them. I care about them and I want them to do fun stuff. I am not usually upset by it, and rarely jealous.

The sole difference in this case is that this friend is a work colleague. Someone who (at work) claims that we are “best friends”, but who can therefore be a bit demanding of my time and assistance. I like helping her, I just don’t like it when she wants me to be the bad guy who has to break bad news to a client. A couple of weeks ago, she was mentioned in another work colleague’s post, which showed them out at the movies together. It showed a whole bunch of my work colleagues out at the movies together. The whole, full-time female staff in fact. And it was tagged as a girls’ night for our team.

I am female, but I wasn’t invited to that “girls’ night”, despite everyone in that picture claiming to my face that they like me.

Continue reading Autism in the Age of Social Media

In the chair

I’ve been investigating fast-growing hedges.

I don’t have a dislike for the neighbors (yet), I just want something to help break up the wind and give the rest of my trees a chance. I’m trying to stay away from bamboo but it would certainly be the fastest-growing option. However, if you plant bamboo you’d better make sure that you really like it, because you’ll never get rid of it and it tends to try and take over the world. That is the problem with vigorous, fast-growing plants.

Is that interesting? No, I guess not.

At least it gave me some form of conversation with my hairdresser today. She mentioned that she’s a gardener, she said she’d looking to put a hedge around the back of her property, and so we talked about hedging. For three hours.

I’ve often found it hard to maintain conversations with people like hairdressers. It’s not that they’re not interesting people, it’s just that the situation is very forced and the talk tends to stay small. Married? Yes. Kids? No. Pets? Cats. Job? Etc etc. They don’t tend to drive for deep philosophical discussions either, but that’s just because I’m willing to bet that they go through the same repertoire of small talk with all their clients and they’re not really listening anyway. It’s part of the job.

I do often miss my old hairdresser in Hamilton. She asked interesting questions. I once spent an afternoon explaining the structure of the U.S. Government to her. Another day we talked about Henry VIII. When you have as much hair as I do, and you go in for foils… well, you have a lot of time to kill.

Plus I’m a verbose know-it-all, like lots of people on the autism spectrum. I struggle to start the conversation but I like having a forum. This is also part of the reason why forced social contact doesn’t always work out that well for me. It’s very easy for me to put a foot wrong. I can put on a reasonably good facade most of the time, but underneath that I’m just odd.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being odd.

Foils worked out all right too.


Bad Thyroids Suck

For whatever reason, and despite all my best intentions, it was a struggle to even go grocery shopping today.

I made a list. Kept checking it, then wandering between the aisles, then checking it again, then completely forgetting why I’d gone into this aisle or that, then checking it again, then having the look in the cart and see whether I’d got some things already. My track around the store was probably doing loops and zigzags for a mile. And it was so crowded and noisy. I think I got maybe 2/3 of the stuff on my list, but I was just staring at my list like it was a cipher that only occasionally made sense. All I wanted to do was go home and sleep. So that’s what I did. I drove home with the gas light flashing and my parking brake on.

I probably shouldn’t be driving on days like this, but I’m trying to hold everything together.

Given how little relief I’m getting from sleep, it’s temping  for me to just increase my Thyroxin dosage by myself and wait it out. Any change that I make will take about 6 weeks before I feel the effect, and it will mean that I run out before my repeat prescription is due, but at least I may be able to prove a point to my doctor.

The point being that I’m stubborn and take things into my own hands when I’m not getting the answers I want.




Mad World

My boss got mad at me today.

It was a small thing – just a discussion of a proposed room layout for an event. He wasn’t listening to me and thought I wasn’t listening to him. In any case, I burst into tears and just couldn’t stop.

I’m not a crier, normally. When I was a young woman, then sure I’d cry once or twice a week easily. But since moving into my 30s and finally slaking my depression, I cry maybe 3-4 times a year. Usually only when I’m really tired.

And I am really tired. Trouble is that once I’d started sobbing I couldn’t even get enough breath to explain to him what was wrong. I’m exhausted, we still don’t have a mortgage, and I went back to the doctor yesterday to see about getting some new tests done on my thyroid. I have a looooong history when it comes to my thyroid, but to cut to the end of that story: they’re sending me in for tests to see if the occluded lesions in my thyroid have turned into cancer yet.

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I was granted the extension on my assignment, which is great news because (one conference down) I’m exhausted.

Has anyone seen one of these before? Because I’ve had three of them pop up in the past month, and one on my back is quite large.

 DermNet NZ

It’s a dermatofibroma, which is basically like a little benign tumor in the skin that leaves a nasty scar. I’ve had them show up before, and they tend to be more common in immuno-suppressed people. It’s most likely a sign that my immune system is getting knocked around by all of the stress we’ve been through, or that my hypothyroidism is getting worse. Or both. Either way, it’s also probably a sign that I need to ask for some time off from work to recover my health and sanity.

Still haven’t reached a conclusion on the mortgage though. Still waiting to see what our new broker can do with settling a loan for the tattered remains of our house project.


No Rain

It’s been one of those days where you’ve barely exercised but still just feel knocked around by life.

We’ve been trying to sort out some way to get our mortgage moving forward again. After an entire afternoon on the phone – banks, builders, parents, brokers, more banks – we have out fingers crossed that we have a solution. Maybe. Hopefully. It’s been 95% bad news with only this 5% of “maybe”. It’s starting to feel like we’ve been lied to right from the beginning, and the mortgage we were promised back in February never existed. By the time I’d finished all these calls, neither Rob nor I were hungry for dinner. Both our stomachs are in knots now.

However. Optimism. Everything will inevitably proceed forward because backward just isn’t an option. And so far both Rob and I have a 100% success rate in surviving shitty days.

When I am full up with soulful longing I tend to crawl back to people like Janis Joplin. She was wonderful at capturing the pain of desire.

But perhaps there is too much history there now. She has seen me at my worst times. And I have spent my life avoiding those who can remind me of times I want to forget.

Yet there are many others who understand desire and depression – who lived painfully and died early. I sit quietly and listen to the words. I don’t know why that gives me hope, but it does…

Make America Brannigan

“You can dish it out but you can’t take it!”

Hmm, ok.

a) What exactly am I dishing out?

b) What you have offered is a unsolicited meme calling Hillary Clinton a “turd”. Have I posted a meme on any of your posts? Have I called anyone a turd? Have I made any reference to Clinton at all?

c) I have no idea who the fuck you are.

d) I have thus far shown no indication that I cannot “take it”.

It seemed a puerile argument.

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Law and (Narcissistic Personality Dis)Order

It started last night. There was a headache and my throat was a bit sore at dinner. By the time we got home after the movie, my sinuses were burning. And today: just miserable on the couch, sniffling and snoozing. I had my flu shot this year (a sensible choice given several consecutive years with 4-6 month bouts of bronchitis) but it doesn’t protect me against every little cold.

As it was a day of indolence, I quickly became very bored with the internet and reruns of Law & Order. I feel like I’ve read literally everything on the internet that is worth reading. I got very little actual work done, but did get to read a takedown of Clinton’s dissembling press conference and yet another person’s psychological assessment of why Trump is unstable. It’s all very depressing, really.

One thing that has piqued my interest this week, however, is how often people throw around the word “narcissistic” when describing Trump. This is a lay diagnosis, of course. I’m unaware of any psychologist who has given him a formal, clinical diagnosis, although of course they would be bound to silence by patient-doctor confidentiality (See? I have been watching too much Law & Order). Narcissism is not a mental illness – it’s a part of all of us, just more amplified in some people. In a few, probably less than 5% or us, it becomes a full-on disorder. However, I’d concur that it seems to be a much better fit than those who describe Trump as a sociopath or psychopath. Psychopaths are generally better at hiding their nature. Narcissists are the guys who get publicly upset because they think someone just insulted the size of their penis.

Yet, for many people in New Zealand, the term “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” still brings us chills. That’s because, in this country at least, it’s forever linked to a particularly grisly murder and a rather beneficial law change.

Continue reading Law and (Narcissistic Personality Dis)Order