Swimming the Bosporus

From Facebook:

Gentle people. I have an important announcement. I realise that I am burnt out totally from the Lutheran faith. I have learned various things the past several weeks. My time away from the spectre of Fort Wayne has been invigorating. I realise why I am in Kentucky. Not just to work for Churchill Downs, but also to begin a formal inquiry into the Orthodox faith.
I have various reasons why I am swimming the Bosphorus. The Anselm paradigm I found wanting. My mind during the wilderness years was taxed totally as I have an ontological problem. I felt that the Missouri Synod had rejected me totally. And I found the concept of a merciful Father as present in the Orthodox liturgy healing. Imagine the news that God make me able to grow and heal and have the continual support of him as I repent daily, regardless of how my brain is wired.
The Liturgy puts me at ease, smells, bells, and all. I felt uneasy during my visits to local Lutheran churches in Louisville. Even when I was in Rudisill I felt empty, desiring to go to watch Belmont simulcasts rather than feeling the divorce of mind and soul.
Please be merciful to me. I desire prayers that God will lead me to the right path. I love you all. —c.r.

The Value of Routines

There is a Sports Illustrated article about Autistic people enjoying sports and how sports benefited them. One of the featured people is a hockey player. He mentioned the time when his teammates would go out on New Year’s Eve, but opted to stick to his routine and go to bed as usual.

That reminded me of a Christmas party I attended one year at Hoosier Park in Anderson. My work paid for the hotel rooms we stayed overnight, for the weather was too crappy for a 90-min drive back to Fort Wayne at night.

I get to eat prime rib and met the president of Hoosier Park whilst dancing. After the party, we were given slot vouchers and we could go to the casino. Well…I was unable as my gaming license barred me from playing the slots, so I watched my coworkers play the slots. It was “Meh.” I said to the co-workers: “You guys get to play, I will get to bed and will wait for you so we can play Cards Against Humanity. Text me when you arrive at the hotel. Good Night.” I took the shuttle to the hotel and slept.

I woke up at 1am, thinking they will be at the lobby. Well…they were at the pool, drunk as a bunch of skunks, acting stupid. I will not describe much, but it did involve swimming in one’s skivvies and somebody crying in the corner. NOPE. I turned around and went to bed.

I woke up fabulous and I managed to eat White Castle on the way home.

I bet the hockey player who went to bed had a rockstar morning while his teammates felt like they got ran over.

Maybe you feel like you are missing out on other things because you prefer to go your own pace. The question we can ask is: Are the things we miss out are worth skipping? Going your own pace, doing your routine does have merit in a world of people trapped in “FOMO” (fear of missing out). You get to enjoy things on YOUR OWN TERMS. The day after the party I went home to Fort Wayne without a hangover.

I have been to racetracks outside Louisville that sucked away many a “spoon.” Huge crowds, loud noises, no place to sit unless you want to pay a premium on a dining table at their quieter areas. Next year, I am skipping out on the Pegasus World Cup, despite Gun Runner and Gunnevera and West Coast being there. I have to work. I could disrupt my routine and subject myself to the crowds and sensory intrusions and the bite of the budget. (In fact, last year’s inaugural race was very energy-sucking. Gulfstream is too small for such an event. I was quiet and read the programme whilst my friends got drunk. Later, we got thrown out of the hotel due to their antics. Never again.) Instead, I visited Three Chimmeys Farm to see Gun Runner during its open house and fed him a tasty mint. Later I will watch him run at the Pegasus from the comfort of my office. I enjoyed meeting Gun Runner in person. I would not be able to do that at Gulfstream.


(Image description: Champion horse Gun Runner is being fed a mint by Carol. Gun Runner is behind a barred stall. Carol’s right hand holds a green-striped mint.)

The neurotypicals would think that routines are a sign that one is missing out on excitement and that you are Boring. Not necessarily. It just means you know what you want, how you work, and what is best for your mind and body. The hockey player knew he functioned best with his sleep schedule. I am sure that he made room in other aspects of his life to allow for his enjoyable endeavors outside his vocation.

When I go somewhere to visit, I make sure the events do not affect my routines that I get run down or be not at ease mentally. Here is an example: Next year, Keeneland will have its opening meet in early April. I plan for this weekend several months in advance. I book a hotel room nearby. I will save up for a dining seat at the Phoenix Room section, as I knew the host and wait staff. They will accommodate my needs, like setting aside a quiet place to sit. I will dress comfortably yet stylish. If the crowds are overwhelming, I can visit the gift shop or I can relax at the Sales Pavilion. I know that I can leave early if I have enough. I will sleep at the best time.

When you respect your routines, you are respecting yourself, knowing you are taking good care of yourself.

Breeders’ Spoon

It was a hectic few weeks with the moving and work and the Breeders’ Cup. I am quite subdued and my mood is a bit bummed.

Visited Churchill Downs racetrack yesterday for the racing club and left early after Rare Form’s race. Went directly home and slept after that. I tend to get very tired after visiting the racetrack. You would be surprised how many spoons a visit to a racetrack would cost.

I want to welcome my fellow Autistic bloggers to my blog. Thank you for reading my post.

I need to get back on a good routine that would help me cope and feel good in my mind. I am starting to establish this routine and it involves time organisation. Sunday is my day off so I have time for church, online bill pay, and grocery shopping. Did visit the LCMS congregation nearest me, just a half mile away. Not High Church. At least they used the common cup. Paid my rent and utilities.

And after my lunch, it is time to go grocery shopping. I also do need to buy boots for the weather. Damp feet sucks.

Of Acceptance and Kisses from Silver Charm

(This post is for Autistics Speaking Day 2017. Content warning: Ableism by religious authorities, suicidal ideation, self-harm. In memory of Irap, 2017 winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.)

“Now with the help of God I shall become myself.”
-Søren Kierkegaard

Since my end of my wilderness years, I felt that I have been reconciled to God and found acceptance as an useful contributing member of society. And I have the horse racing industry to thank.

When I was a hostess at the off track betting facility, I would welcome patrons to their seats and offered them water. After their meals, I bussed the tables. My Lutheran faith tradition informed me that the work I did is honorable and a service to God and neighbor. For a while, I was painfully aware that I was underemployed.

Then I looked at Facebook and read what my neurotypical Sem classmates went through since they got ordained. Some left the ministry after the abuse of their congregations and the indifference of their respective districts. Reduced wages and benefits. And to think I wanted to be a deaconess. One “Sister Of Blue” told me that she rather be back at her old secular job, but she felt compelled to remain. “Kid, you got a better path,” she said. I rather deal with dirty dishes whilst watching Santa Anita than to go what my classmates went through.

I feel at ease when I sit down at the bar, ordering Diet Coke and reading the Daily Racing Forms. I can speak and explain to patrons and friends better with the Racing Form in hand. Teaching people how to play the ponies became second nature over the months, and my bosses noticed that.

View post on imgur.com


(Photo description: a display sign at a bar. The sign promoted “Carol’s Contest”, with a caricature of Carol with a cartoon horse.)

My bosses saw something in me that says I am an asset, not a liability. During the 2016 Kentucky Derby, I did many assignments and duties, making sure patrons were happy and served at the busiest time of the year. They were impressed and I knew from that point on, I actually have a future— a real career, independent living for a very long time, and people taking me seriously as part of their team. It was two days after Nyquist won the 2016 Kentucky Derby and 11 years to the day of exile that I came to that point where I knew I found acceptance. That I can be proudly Autistic. There is only one place I must visit on 9 May.

Churchill Downs.

In front of Barbaro’s statue, I looked at my wrists. Intact, no scars. Never had the guts to do that. No welts on my body from whipping myself with a plastic hanger. Above me was the cloudy sky. No ceiling fans inviting me to hang myself. It was there that the need to harm or to kill myself disappeared. I was no longer angry with God.

I returned from Kentucky that night, eager to live and with a bright future burning in my heart.

Another moment in which I found acceptance, that my life was valid was during Preakness week. I credit these four horses for securing my job promotion: Exaggerator, Cherry Wine, Nyquist, and Stradivari. The bosses hung on every word I said about these horses. Especially Cherry Wine and his muddy victories. It was no longer my talents in spite of autism, but because of autism. The grad school viewed “in spite”, Hoosier Park viewed “because.”

It was because of this acceptance that going to church was no longer a burden but a place of joy. I took the Sacrament knowing I am restored.

One day, I saw a beloved professor, and he saw that my face and soul have changed.  That he sensed that I am truly myself and very happy.  “Since you worked at the OTB, I noticed that you have so much more joy.  I’m proud of you.”

Visiting the horse farms and meeting the champion horses have a healing aspect. One February morning I met Silver Charm. He won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 1997. I was in awe that I got to meet an actual champion racehorse.

He kissed my forehead.

Holiness.

So that was what unconditional acceptance felt like.

He saw my soul and he did not see a theology reject. In his equine nature, his affection declared “All is well and all manner of things shall be well.”

View post on imgur.com


(Photo description: Kentucky Derby winning horse Silver Charm with Carol Rutz. Silver Charm is behind a fence, his head outside the fence, about to kiss Carol. Carol is smiling with her eyes closed.)

Emboldened by such radical acceptance, I decided to move to Kentucky and start anew, away from the shadow of the Seminary. I found a Confessional Lutheran Church that wanted me to do Bible Studies in the future, subject to work schedule. I wrote and revised the Weep No More self help guide for those who were affected by spiritual trauma. It is acceptance that lead me to the blooming of my soul. The weird[?] thing I noticed since settling in Kentucky is that I no longer have the energy to “pass” (i.e. adopting a neurotypical persona). My theory is that my entire being knew I am no longer under any obligation to attain acceptance via passing. Preggie’s death and adjusting to my new life adds to the stress, therefore I must conserve mind-energy. So I am accepting myself, Carol is Carol, and gave up the resistance.

The guys at Churchill Downs knew that I am Autistic, and I would explain what and why I would do a certain action. I passed along links to the “splines” and “spoon” theory. They want to see me succeed. They know that I want to conserve my energy so I can use it at my work. The bosses knew that I will never fit within a neurotypical persona. The Seminary expected me to pass, to act like their image of a woman assisting in church work, but they barred me from church work despite my academic prowess and high character. Just because I am Autistic. In contrast, my bosses past and present knew that I get the job done and they praised me for the qualities that are part of my nature.

Since then I would visit the Lexington area once in a while and see Silver Charm and Exaggerator, the guy who won the 2016 Preakness Stakes. I would give them a blessing and kiss them, as I felt that their presence had helped me in my life journey. In the case of Exaggerator, I received a huge promotion due to his effort on the muddy track. The least I could do for him is to visit him. After my husband’s death, I told him that I am now a widow and felt lonesome. He offered me his nose to kiss. (If you must confide to someone about your grief, you can’t go wrong with a Preakness winner.) I felt better when I visit the best of God’s creatures.

View post on imgur.com


(Photo description: Carol kissing Preakness Stakes winning horse Exaggerator. Exaggerator is in a stall with a metal gate. His nose sticks out through the bars. Carol, with her back toward the camera, kisses his nose.)

Belonging in the horse racing culture helped restore my expression of spirituality. At the OTB, I do a variety of tasks, I felt very useful. It is about making patrons feel at ease. It is about meeting their needs. Horseplayers seek not just the thrill of the race, they also seek social interaction. How often on my off days I would visit my workplace! Patrons and the occasional coworker would ask for an ear to listen or even a prayer.

When the horse Weep No More raced in the Kentucky Oaks, I saw her name as a sign of divine comfort and promise. People will only remember her for winning the Central Bank Ashland Stakes in 2016. For me, she performed a much more noble deed: She heralded the end of exile. I got a tattoo with her name in honor. One night, I dreamt that I was back at the Seminary and the director of Deaconess studies told me I was unsuitable. I touched my arm where my tattoo is at, looked him in the eye, and told him, “F*** off, Professor. I have a future.” I woke up, victorious.

I am planning to visit Barbaro’s statue on the Day of the Dead tomorrow with my prayer beads and remember my husband and those who passed on. I sense the hand of God in my life, and although I am puzzled why it took me so damned long to be where I am, I am very thankful for the blessings during exile and today in Kentucky.

I made a promise to myself to never hide who I am. After all, Silver Charm would still detect my inner being and remind me of the acceptance I received.

On my two feet: Giving up driving for inner serenity

My mind energy is leeching and the past week my ability to cope with stress is greatly impaired. In short, I spent many spoons and splines coping with a car accident in Lexington.

My best friend mentioned she felt uneasy when I am behind the wheel. I do not want to deal with high insurance rates. After much thought and studying the logistics, I decided to give up driving.

I was assigned a cheap rental car; it’s still on the parking lot. Even if I would like to drive, I can’t; my brain is off and I can only process so much. So I take the public transit at daytime and Uber at night. The inner noise and confusion is loud and I get easily distracted. I cannot bet on the ponies– not allowed whilst working, and I cannot process well enough to handicap. In fact, I am skipping the Breeder’s Cup. No betting for a while, no driving indefinitely.

Disabled people are aware of this triad of adult independence: job, car, and relationship. These three things defined life goals. For a while I had the triad. But who dictates how we define a successful adulthood? I am glad I have a job. But keeping a relationship was hard, especially during Wayne’s last months. And driving a car while fun and convenient, was energy-sucking. And there was homeownership and people’s expectations of how a pastor’s wife should interact.

Now I have fulfilled my duties to Preggie and no longer have a car, I want to focus on keeping my job at United Tote and address my basic needs.

Here is my written plan:

Get check from totaled car, deposit in savings account.

Visit apartments near Churchill Downs corporate.* Get prices, look at inside.

Procure medical note from doctor regarding disability and inability to drive. Give to leasing office so I can avoid breaking lease penalty.

Purchase very warm protective jacket with non slip shoes.

Purchase a hand cart to carry groceries.

Pack crap together, store in boxes.

After moving in apartment, keep visible budget and manage surplus. Most likely, 401(k). And joining a horse ownership syndicate.

Tomorrow, I will Uber and get ready for a more manageable life.

* I suggested to the boss above my boss that I should move into one of their spare rooms and be the resident worker. No dice. Can you imagine the hilarity of living at Churchill Downs corporate?

Lost in Whole Foods

As an Autistic, grocery stores suck. So many choices, you wonder what to get and make when you get home. Now imagine being a widow in a supermarket, shopping for one. Before Preggie was unwell, I would shop at the Meijer or Kroger’s and grabbed low carbby stuff. Fatty bacon and heavy cream and cheese and meeeeeeeat. With Diet Coke. Later, I would buy microwave meals and ice cream. Preggie would shop by himself and he would bring home the ice cream and pie and other things I won’t purchase. Today, all around me are people at various stages in their lives…and I am alone surrounded by a crowd. Makes me give up and eat McDonalds every day.

I did not want to spend 23 bux on lunch per day at the Cheesecake Factory. I would order their Skinnylicious chicken pasta with a Diet Coke. It’s about 15 Weight Watchers points, so I have that twice weekly for brunch. I thought that there must be a better way to eat before I go to work. Maybe Whole Paycheck has what I need.

Armed with two Weight Watchers cookbooks, I visited Whole Foods. Wandered around, looked at the nice fruit. I thought I could ask for meat patties, individually wrapped. And the butcher delivered.

Got various things and felt ready to cook a patty with cheese and have a few potato chips on the side. I think having Weight Watchers material helped me as I am able to say: This food is proper for me to eat.

Meeting the Black Rabbit

The Watership Down cartoon has been known to disturb children. But it is also the type of cartoon when watched, teaches important concepts that all humans must learn.

After Hazel brought his warren to a safe place, after so many dangers, he grew old. He fulfilled his purpose. And that is when the Black Rabbit appeared to him, offered him a place in his Owsla and assured Hazel of the warren’s safety. Hazel then died a good death.

A “good death” involves a fulfilled life of virtue. The circumstances of how a particular death happened matters very little, but what does matter is the soul’s unity with God.

I wonder whether Preggie was told upon his death by our Lord whether he would like to leave. Did he tell Him that he must say goodbye to me? If so, I hope God told him that there is no need to worry about me. That I will be OK with my new life in Kentucky.

Better Mourning Through Chemistry

It is a rough period of time I am in. Paperwork, and in a few hours, I will be in Wisconsin to bury Preggie. I am glad to have a supply of crazy meds that work to carry me through these days. I wished I had these medicines earlier in my wilderness years. But that is a hypothetical that cannot be answered.

Since late January 2016, I am taking Rexulti, bupropion, and since Travers Day 2016, generic Prozac. It makes the batch of brain chemicals balanced and I am able to face challenges more easily. I had a few crying jags recently, the latest when I read a story of the late Holy Bull, who I met earlier this year. Thankfully, it was brief. I am happy to say that I got my long-term insurance and I will be back to getting my regular supply at a low cost in September.

My coworkers at United Tote have been very good, and they gave me some time off for funeral arrangements. I am also ramping up the self care. I follow the Weight Watchers plan and eat on a regular schedule. I made sure I sleep plenty. And I am filling my free time with activities that help me cope. A day after Preggie’s death, I went to Old Friends in Georgetown so I can see Silver Charm. I think he sensed my pain and sadness, for he gave me a huge sloppy kiss on my face and nuzzled me. I needed that affection. I figured that a kind and gentle horse would gladden my heart. Last week, I went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington and stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel downtown. They have Malin + Goetz bath products, one of which was this rum-scented shower gel. The scent was very clean and soothing. I had dinner at the Lockbox and the steak hit the spot. After I bury my Preggie, I am planning to visit WinStar Farms and I promised to Exaggerator that I would have a mint for him when I visit.

Now, I must sleep as I have a busy day. I will dress comfortably and will sleep more when I arrive in Milwaukee.

+The Reverend Wayne E Rutz, 1941-2017+

15 years later after we met at Symposia, you went Home.

It was a long goodbye, ever since our GP detected vascular dementia three years ago, and you denied it. Vehemently. I was helpless as you disintegrated into a weak shell.

I was prepared for this. But it’s cold comfort.

You have given me so many years of joy and happiness. You were my support during the wilderness years. Thank you.

Be assured, my Preggie, that you died loved by so many people and knowing that I now have a career established.

Memory Eternal!

Crazy Meds. You do need them if you live in Kentucky.

After I quit my job at Winner’s Circle, I received a packet of COBRA information so I could be covered between jobs. I called the provider and they wanted $675 per month. Damn. So I got short term insurance.

It’s okay…if you do NOT have bipolar disorder.

I ran out of Rexulti, a damn fine medicine that makes a difference between living a decent life and living a really sucky life. And by sucky I mean, crying jags, endless Two Minute Hate sessions, and drafting suicide notes. I thought: maybe my insurance would cover it.

Nope.

“That would be $825 dollars after discount,” said the pharmacy tech. So I called my shrink in Indiana, hoping she can replace it with a cheaper medicine. “You need to see her at her office. Can you come by this week?” Yeah, like I want to waste my paid time off just to get my medicine.

Maybe I can do a Hail Mary play and see if the HR team would let me sign on early. It was the middle of the month, so no dice. So I called some random psych group. “We are closing down,” said the nurse. “But if you do not mind paying for urgent care, you can try The Couch.”

Found out that The Couch is Louisville’s mental health urgent care clinic. Called them, got an appointment, and visited the office. A hour and $235 dollars later, I walked out with samples to tide me over til I get covered next month.

And now, I got my other meds and I do feel blah without bupropion. Without that, I would feel BUH WTF AM I HERE LET ME STAY IN THIS COCOON. Not the usual KENTUCKY EFF YEAH!!!1!! Crap sleep. But tomorrow, I will wake up better.

The Graveyard of Champions… and Claimers as well.

The Paulick Report reported the unusual number of fatalities at Saratoga Race Course. The loss of two horses on Thursday during the Mrs Ogden Phipps and Birdstone stakes brings the total number of fatalities to NINE since the Spa meet opened. Not only that, Paid Up Subscriber, a stakes winning filly, broke her ankle after her 30+ length win in the Shuvee Stakes. The surgery went great, but her connections are deciding whether to retire her for broodmare duty.

NOT GOOD.

What is going on with the Spa? Did the track get prepared differently in its prep prior to the opening? I know the NYRA stringently tests for illegal drugs or devices, plus vets who would scratch unsound horses. Saratoga is not like the racetracks of Pennsylvania. I do think that there is improper track composition. I also think that the genetic makeup of today’s thoroughbred is unstable. You can only can cross two descendants of Native Dancer so many times. I am for the diversity of the genetic pool. I even asked Winstar about how they can improve the diversity of overall gene pool. They have a Man O War descendant.

I would suggest not only an appropriate mix of track surface (not necessarily polytrack or Tapeta– the purists would scream bloody murder if any of our major US racetracks had artificial dirt…and double if the Kentucky Derby features synthetic for the first time in its 144-year history), but also methodical breeding of horses without Native Dancer bloodlines. The Jockey Club would not open the stud books to introduce hybrids, so all we need are non-Native Dancer linked horses.

Unless breeders are game to breed for durability over speed, this sport will suffer very much.

A letter to my friend whose child is newly diagnosed

I have so much to say, do not know where to start. I think the first thing to say is that now you know that your child’s brain is differently wired, you can help him manoeuver through living. He is still himself, it’s just you now have a clue how to work with him.

Visit resources that are developed by Autistics themselves. They know how we tick, what tools that work for them, what does not work. Avoid any websites or resources that describe us in demeaning or less than human pathology. (Look up Autism Speaks Sucks for a better description.) He is not defective, he is only disabled because society disables people like him.

If you want to the key to his success, look at his interest and work with it. Note I did not say “fixation”. I do not pathologise interests of anyone. People see fixation; I see an opportunity for Autistics to excel. I had a few main foci (Horse Racing, Narnia, Ham Radio and Winston Churchill). I managed to use what I loved and made my career choices based on them. I had a history degree because I loved Churchill. I was a theologian because of CS Lewis. And when I was denied my theological dream because of who I was, it was the thoroughbred horses that landed me my dream jobs and by the grace of God, restored me. I am now working with the Tote network inside the Churchill Downs corporate office! I wished the ghosts of Kentucky Derby winners past would have visited me earlier as a child, in middle school, and in May 2005 and tell me that my life work will be working in the horse racing industry and I must NOT give up on life.

My bosses throughout the years helped me succeed. Most of the work were on a printed checklist. I told them I preferred explicit instructions. When I was at Winners’ Circle, the bosses noticed I was very good at handicapping races, that I could understand complex concepts, that I wanted more challenges than just guiding people to their tables. I would tell my bosses about my methods to handicapping. In return, I became a programme seller and a mutuels clerk. They saw potential. They took me seriously. I even had my own contest, complete with posters printed by Hoosier Park.

Your child will need mentors during his life. I thank God for Gilbert Lefebvre and Martin Schramm. They took me in when I was a teenager and then an adult. Find a Godly person, for (s)he will be his closest person in his life.

Your child will internalise the messages of the world. He will know he is different. He will feel the pressures of trying to Act Normal and would do anything to earn your love and the acceptance of society. I resented my Special Ed classmates for acting inappropriately and making me look defective. But I was wrong to do that. It was the retard language and slurs and how the humor of today made us look less than human.

Your job (and the job of the mentor) is for your child to REJECT the bullshit messages and for him to ACCEPT himself. Fight and teach him to stand up for his right to exist.

Your child will learn on his own timeframe. Throw away the guidelines, autism means both advanced and limited development at the same time. And screw anyone who puts your child down because he goes at his own pace.

You will experience ups and downs. It will be worth it with each step of the way. Your child is made in the image of God. Accept him as the child God have given you. May you all find peace in joy in the One who have made us fearfully wonderful!

Blog Tinkering, plus Rename

I want to freshen up my blog, and write more articles on fitting in my new surroundings. Thus, the Annexe now has a new title: An Aspie in Kentukia. “Kentukia” is both a neo-Latin and Esperanto word for Kentucky. And I am more comfortable being Autistic in my new land.

I have so much to share, like how I self-disclose my disability/neurodivergent mind to the workers at my job. Maybe it will help others in the professional world who are starting out in the workforce.

I will try to add more creative elements to the blog to make it more interesting to the eye. There is a font from one of the albums of the British New Wave band The Stranglers. If I find that font that would be very cool.

The Writs of Carol Rutz, High Church Horseplayer