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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.

My first weekend off in Louisville

It was a long week at United Tote. After signing papers for Human Resources, getting acclimated to a computer station, and figuring out what I must do, I have the weekend off. Naturally, I decided to spend my Saturday at Churchill Downs.

I really miss the coziness of the Winner’s Circle. I can get my Diet Coke for free and plug my cable into the bar. I wish there are charging outlets on the table stations. But at least the well drinks are cheap and it is smoke free.

I am debating on revising Weep No More to reflect my move to Louisville. Last year, I was lucky to visit Barbaro’s grave twice. Now, I can sit there and plot my week.

My phone needs to be charged, so I will make this post short.

Internet Limbo

After mostly unpacking my stuff, I realised I needed the Internet. I am typing this on my cell phone, which autocorrects my usual spelling and I had to return back and correct the autocorrect function. AT&T was not offered in my area, Google Fiber is installing right now, so I have to use Spectrum. In about an hour, I will pick up their installation kit. Will keep you posted.

Enter the Kentuckian: 7 Furlongs of Fury!

Okay, I drove to Kentucky to sign paperwork for my new apartment and then I went to the clerk office to get my license. It was easy and painless. “Thank you ma’am,” I said when I received my new license. “Does this mean I’m now a Kentuckian?”

“Yes, you are! Congrats! Welcome to Kentucky!”

Then I asked for a free mint julep as I’m now a Kentuckian. Nope. Drinking and driving rules, don’t cha know.

“Oh, you do need to go to the county clerk office for your plates. This office does not do that.” No problem. The nearest one is in Jeffersontown. By that time, it was raining. So I drove, parked, got out of the car and entered the office.

“Hi, I need to get my plates as I’ve moved from Indiana.”

“You need to get a sheriff’s inspection before I get you your plates. Here is the list of county clerk offices that will get you that inspection.”

And I walked back to the car, wet as I had no jacket.

The next day, I drove up to the nearest office with the sheriff inspection station. No problem, it was fast. Then I went in to take a number for the next agent.

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At last, I sat with an agent. I brought out the title and the inspection paper and proof of insurance. She looked and asked if my car was a trade-in. It was. “You most likely did not pay taxes for that, and that would be…” *typing, entering information* “$836.00.”

“Ah, profanity!”

After paying, I got my plate and installed it. The tedious part is over, now it is time for returning back to the Fort and get my stuff packed and ready.

A New Direction

12 July will be my last day at VooDoo/Winner’s Circle. The next day, I will move my things to my new apartment in Louisville, and on 17 July, I will start my job as a hub systems operator at United Tote.

The job change started when I noticed I have reached my limit of maximum hours I can work per week. Despite being a hostess, a programs seller, and a mutuels clerk, due to budget and union regulations, I can only work up to 32 hours per week and most of the time, I am allocated about 28 hours on average. I thought I might supplement with another job, but it carried the risk of restricting the hours I can work due to inflexibility. I asked the managers about more hours, but we arrived to the conclusion that their budget (which is handed down from the corporate office) won’t allow me to get these hours. I did thank them for trying. We were all eager to get more hours, not just for me but for other employees. Ask my bosses, if there was someone that actually asked for MORE work to do, it was me. I get my energy from work, my motivation from the busy busy busy. I was the “All-Purpose Carol” who would run errands, organised expense reports, and do internet research.

You will NOT hear me complain about my coworkers or my bosses. I certainly do not have beef with my job. It was just that I have reached “Lvl 99” at VooDoo and I realised that if I needed more hours, I will have to apply for a corporate/professional position at Hoosier Park in Anderson.

Then I heard that Churchill Downs will move its Twinspires.com HQ from Silicon Valley to Louisville, bringing 70 jobs. I thought: maybe I have some chance. So I visited the Churchill Downs corporate webpage and found that their United Tote division needed someone to work behind the scenes with their tote system.

We have seen cartoons in which a horseplayer would place a bet at the window. But what happens after the bet was placed? It goes to a large pool that is shared by various horseracing facilities in the United States (or world wide). Horseplayers would bet at the last 5 minutes before the gate opens. What United Tote does are two main things. First, they develop and place these betting terminals, where electronically these bets are placed and ‘gathered’ into a large pool. Second, there are hubs of operators that would watch these races and make sure the placed bets are gathered correctly until the gate opens and they close the pool. The pool is calculated during the race and then the money gets divvied out according to odds once the race is official.

So I applied for the job one night, and the next morning, I got a phone call for a phone interview in a few days. Had the interview and they invited me for a in-person interview at the Churchill Downs HQ in Louisville. So I got my best career jacket and drove 4+ hours to the headquarters. And then I had my interview. I thought: There is bound to be someone more qualified than me and had a moment of “impostor syndrome” after I ate my lunch and drove back to Fort Wayne.

And the wait was tedious. Will I stay put and try other ways to boost hours or will I get this big break? Vacillating between optimism and pessimism. “I will stay…NO, I want to go!” And then, I got the call.

Whirlwind.

I bought boxes to pack my clothes. I drove back to Louisville to go apartment hunting and to attend Downs After Dark with WinStar Farms. On the way home, I stopped in Indianapolis and visited Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Williams-Sonoma. Got a cute LED fairy light sparkler lamp, canisters for dried fruit, and two ceramic knives. When IKEA opens at Fishers this August, I will get furniture there.

Located a confessional Lutheran church in Louisville. In fact, it is near one of the apartments where I applied.

Kentucky with its horse culture has been a major part of the last two years of my life. It was there that I found what I truly needed: permission to live my life. It was there where I saw the end of the wilderness years. I found respite. There is something about visiting the horse farms and meeting the horses that are the foundation of my employment.

And now, Kentucky is where I will live and work.

In the next several weeks, I will blog about my experience in moving and settling into Louisville. I hope you can join me as I am making this transition.