Mighty hunter, my ass


We're out of cat biscuits today. We'll be able to get more soon enough but, in the meantime, we finally broke out the fish we'd been given for the cats that has been in the freezer. Turns out they're whole fish. I couldn't tell you what kind, I know nothing about fish.

Currently, Harmony is happily munching away. The fish seems to baffle her somewhat, but she's taking it as a challenge and munching away. On the lino. Three seconds in I caught her trying to drag it off the plate and immediately I was all "RIGHT. We are NOT continuing this here." So she got moved rapidly to the kitchen.

Ginger, on the other hand, despite all protestations to the contrary, must not really think we're starving her after all. I have tried several times to coax her back over to the food, but assuming she acknowledges it at all, she just sort of sits there ad gives me a look that says "And what exactly do you expect me to do with this?" Then she starts trying to convince me we're starving her again.

Honestly, cat. I bet the rats would do better with that damned fish than you have. There's even a decent chance they probably will, since someone apparently hasn't the slightest idea what to do with food that didn't come from a can, box or bag.

So it appears Ginger will just have to wait until we can pick up some more cat biscuits, while Harmony will get to munch away quite happily. Don't let her protestations that we starve her fool you; she has quite happily gone on campaigns to insist we need to feed her right this second before she dies even as food sits in her bowl right at that moment. On more than one occasion, this has necessitated picking her up and carrying her to her food bowl just so she finally remembers that actually, we already did feed her. Oh yeah!

And, head in my hand, I remind myself patiently that she's not the stupidest cat I've ever owned.

God, but I wish I had a camera. Right. This. Second


Today is a great testament to the power pregnant-woman-pheromones hold over cats.

Our cat Ginger does not like other cats. Not one bit. She's gone totally ballistic over the proximity of a small kitten before, and continued to growl at the spot he'd been rolling in even after we removed him. I have considered it a great accomplishment that she has mostly been able to coexist with Harmony since we moved here. If she spots Harmony, she'll grumble and growl and generally act like an old man shaking his cane and telling the kids to get off his lawn, but there's no active fighting or anything. Even that time when, to our horror, Harmony (not too much older than a kitten and still holding many of the attitudes) decided a fun game would be to stalk Ginger's tale.

Most places in the house, Ginger just gets told to shush and stop grumbling. I do allow her a safe haven though; my room. For one thing, her food and water are in here, so I don't want Harmony stealing them anyway. More importantly, though, it's a little much to ask her to deal with something she's not really happy about without giving her some place to retreat to. So while Harmony occasionally comes in or passes through, if Ginger starts growling, Harmony gets told to move it along.

So between the fact that she knows she's generally not allowed in here and her own tendency to be energetic and a bit skittish, it's miracle enough for Harmony to jump on my bed and curl up next to me at all. The biggest miracle of all, though, is that not a single peep was heard about this out of Ginger.

Of course, cats are contrary things, and in the time taken waiting for the new post page to load (throttled 'net is a wonderful thing, let me tell ya) and typing all this, sadly, this blissful state has ended. Ginger apparently woke up enough to notice Harmony was there and growl at her, with a hiss or two thrown in.

That said, even that was pretty short-lived, and she's already mostly decided she can't really be bothered grumbling. Or even sulking. Aside from the occasional punctuation of a grumble from that end of the bed, she appears to have curled up to go back to sleep now.

So, I think I'll take the opportunity to enjoy my fill of double cat love, as they've never been willing to coexist so closely before. I'll take all I can get while it lasts... even if it's just because they're both so obsessed with me being pregnant that neither is willing to leave me to get away from the other.

Just when I thought the weather was back to normal...


I could hear a veritable wall of rain overnight last night. It was truly impressive.

Here's hoping it's just a one-off.

A video that should be watched by many


This video touched me deeply.

It's right, too. Those of us who go on, at least a part of us knows they're wrong... or sets out to make them wrong, at any rate. We manage to hold on to the belief that we are more than that.

And yet, it leaves its mark anyway.

I believe I am a good person; it's something I've worked hard for. I believe I am better than what the bullies say, than the lies depression tells. And yet I still don't believe I'm good enough... and I don't believe I'm beautiful. Intellectually, I know the sheer mass of people who've told me now that I am can't all be wrong. At this point, I'm pretty sure they even outnumber those who told me I wasn't. In my heart, though, I don't believe it. In the mirror, I can't see it. I say they're biased, or just trying to make me feel better, because so much of me still can't see any other reason for them to say it.

I guess that's all I've got to say here... I just wanted to share the video and get that out. I hope this touches and inspires someone else, too.

Updates, a little nonsense, and things I found online


So, I should probably approach this with some kind of coherent order. Even if it will likely inevitably break down in a few paragraphs' time.

I find it a little amusing that I scraped together something to post yesterday because there hadn't really been anything to post about, and then all of a sudden several things pop up all at once. The kind of amusing that makes you want to facepalm a bit, anyway.

First up, midwife update.

Everything went well, and I'm actually quite confident that being reported again shouldn't be an issue. Which is nice, because having to go looking for a midwife for a third time would really not be fun at all.

She'd managed to get my ultrasound reports back from Palmie, and the reports from the ultrasound and blood test here were back. My results were, as she put it, boringly normal, which is a good thing. Everything is proceeding about as close to textbook so far as one can reasonably expect; despite occasional iron problems, my iron is good; despite grave warnings from some of my family, my sweet tooth has not resulted in gestational diabetes. All signs of the slight bleeding I had earlier in my pregnancy are utterly gone in the ultrasound. The enthusiastic movement of my son is a very good sign, even if it made it practically impossible for the midwife to get a heartbeat because he wouldn't stay in one place long enough.

She also, and for this I bless her, pointed me towards a brand of liners with a surface area exceeding two square centimetres. Honestly, why do they make the things so damned tiny? Thin, I get, thin is the point - and I'll grant that these liners are thicker than is usual. However, they're still much thinner than a pad, and as an added bonus, they actually extend the entire width of my not exactly ginormous underwear. Thank you, regular liners, for making me feel like I need to wear a damned g-string for you to do any good at catching a little discharge instead of dumping it all on the underwear. The brand is Tena, for anyone who wants to know. The liners still share the problem of pads without wings in that the sides tend to come up somewhat, but even with that the protection is a lot better.

Hovering somewhere between concerning and good, despite saying they would be getting in touch with my midwife as part of investigating the report (and despite the fact that they're meant to touch base with the midwife in all such things), child services has yet to contact her at all. On one hand, if things were dire, they would have been on the phone to her as soon as we were out of the meeting. On the other hand, they specifically said they'd call her and haven't, whereas I know they have made first contact with my family. It remains to be seen what will happen there.

Second, an addition to my earlier Ballastexistenz post.

In the first post of hers I linked, Ballastexistenz mentions a researcher who dismissed anecdotal evidence that autists could, in fact, read emotion, purely because she'd learned they couldn't. She also mentioned autists failing tests because they identified what the actors actually felt, rather than what they were pretending to feel.

Well, this article might lend some further support to that.

No, it's not an article on autism - just a random one about Anne Hathaway that I stumbled across in my internet wanderings. Of note about it, is the picture choice.

If you read the article, it's clear that the writer thinks Anne is happy in that picture - ecstatic, even. I, on the other hand, was horribly confused as to why anyone would choose that picture for an article like that. To me, that is not a happy face. Those eyes speak to me of despair, or fear. Actually, they scream it at me. Even covering the eyes though, that big dazzling smile is too tight, too tense to be genuine.

A brief search for pictures of Anne supplied many that were not as glaringly terrible for getting the point across, but I had trouble finding one that would actually do the job. The best seem to amount to "tense". So, it seems pretty clear that not only was a terrible picture used, the entire article is a bit off-base when it comes to reading emotion.

And they think we're the ones who can't read emotions...

Third, Hyperbole and a Half talks about depression. Really, really well.

Hyperbole and a Half has, unfortunately, gone an awfully long time without being updated. So much so, in fact, that Allie felt the need to mentally prepare us for the fact that the blog would be updated again. In fairness, the next post was a doozy. It probably would have been pretty overwhelming to see that all of a sudden, after so much silence.

The reason this amazing blog lay silent for so long, is depression.

Allie describes depression really, really well. At least, I think she does. That's not necessarily very representative, though; if you've got depression, you already get it. The question is, do the people who don't have depression get it now? Especially the bit about how we're not actually necessarily being negatively... it's just that happy-go-lucky, hopeful advice really isn't all that helpful.

I will admit, I don't generally get so bad as to be completely incapable of giving any kind of shit about anything. However, even with that difference, the description is a remarkably good one. The foggy haze and apathy, the crushing loneliness and boredom that only increases with any attempts to actually do anything about it, because your ability to do anything about it except to keep trudging on just isn't there anymore.

The post is a very good one, and well timed in that it happens to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. I definitely recommend it for a read.

Lastly, the Bloggess. And cats.

This morning, I woke up to this in my twitter feed.
This is a pain I know well. My husband is surprised I'd never had fleas even once before meeting him, given my tendency (nay, compulsion!) to stop and try to pet every cat that I see. The first time I ever got fleas was off his mother's cat, amusingly, and I have yet to get them off any of the stray or just strange cats I have approached - this despite how utterly tasty fleas seem to find me. It doesn't take long for any biting bugs in the vicinity to home in on me.

Also, these blog posts are getting fairly consistently more difficult to write. This is because, as my pregnancy progresses, our cat is becoming steadily more and more obsessed with me. If I'm sitting up, she'll come try curl up on my chest, or right next to my side, nearly pinning my arm to me. If I'm lying down, she will plant herself firmly between the laptop and my body.

Failing these, she will still make sure to spend the appropriate amount of time vigorously rubbing herself all over the laptop, my glasses, and my person.

Apparently, pregnant people smell really good or something.

Quiet, but hopeful


This isn't much of a post, because there's not an awful lot to post about right now, but at least things are looking hopeful.

More baby stuff has been gotten together, and a camera should be on its way to me soon, so when the time comes I will be able to regale you with pictures! Also, I might finally be able to update my facebook profile page which is over five years old at this point.

It seems likely that my husband has found some good-paying work. Even if he doesn't get this particular job, he's in good standing now with a pretty reliable temping agency, so the job search has at least gotten that much easier.

My next appointment with the midwife is tomorrow. I'm finding it remarkably easy to go into without any expectations; I'm honestly clueless as to what I should even hope for, never mind expecting anything. You can probably expect an update on that in the next couple days. I still haven't heard back from child services and I'm not sure how much longer that will be, but it's looking reasonably hopeful that nothing will come of all this.

It's nice that things are looking up. Usually I'd need to be putting in more effort in order to not just sit here waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it's much easier not to be pessimistic when the week has already been somewhat poor. If I never have to deal with so much of one of the worse aspects of society at one time again, I still would've had too much for a lifetime.

Here's to things going better, going forward. For everyone.

To be oneself...


The best paths in this life are never easy.

Choosing to be who you are, no matter what anyone else might say, is a difficult path to walk. I wish it weren't so, but it is. The easy path is to conform. If you fit into society's box, you will always have friends and people you can talk to. If you dare to step outside it, the only friends who will stand by you are those who are your friends for who you are... and those people can be depressingly rare at times.

As we step out into the darkness, into the forests that lie between the beaten paths, I know that this journey is a difficult one. I cannot begrudge those who choose to stay on the clear-cut roads where they will find safety in numbers. I cannot blame them. This is not always a happy path.

Truly, the ones I have the most respect for of all are those who walked with everyone else, but found the strength to turn away and forge their own path. Rare as people who accept you for who you are can be, they are even harder to find when everyone around you is busy fitting into a socially acceptable box. The kind of person who will take you as you are generally asks that you do the same for them; you will have trouble finding them while trying to be someone else. So those who leave the bounds of what society considers normal are the most isolated of all, at least for a time.

Personally, it was something I never bothered to do, so I've never had to experience everyone I care about turning away from me in an instant, because of a single choice. I think little of a relationship that stands on such shaky foundations as to evaporate so easily, so I've never had much truck with them. If you won't take me as me, you're not the kind of person I want around anyway.

I know not everyone shares that view, though. Many consider poor friends better than the risk of no friends, if they consider it at all. Many care, and can't not care even if they are shown this caring is not mutual. So as painful as it is to watch someone reach out, only to start boxing themselves back up again, I cannot consider the choice an unreasonable one.

For those of us who do walk the dark spaces between, take up a torch. Ballastexistenz works to make people aware of disability rights, and the unfair treatment the physically and cognitively disabled receive. The Bloggess seeks to chase away the shadows and pact of silence surrounding depression and social anxiety. Take up a torch and light the way. If we work away at these brambles, slowly, the easy path may widen. We may manage to make spaces where one can be socially acceptable without having to tear themselves apart and bind away the unique things about them.

And perhaps, if we can't change society, we can light the way for each other. Perhaps we can make a path to walk together, our own path, to tell each other; we are not alone. Here, you will find companionship. You don't need to search for years to find it, and you don't need to give up your self to get it.

It takes strength to stand in the face of society and be who you are anyway, but the more we light the way, the less those who follow us need to be so strong.

And, maybe, the fewer who will turn away from this path for fear of the dark.

A powerful message, and an interesting video


Recently, this was posted on Ballastexistenz. An interesting enough post in its own right, or I wouldn't have been prompted to comment on it with my own thoughts. However, the one I actually want to talk about is one mentioned in that post. Namely, "In My Own Language".

Though the mention of that post had me terribly curious, I first saw it when I was needing to be careful of bandwidth usage, so at the time I had to pass on watching a video of unknown length. Fortunately, though, because I commented on the post mentioning it, I have gotten periodic emails reminding me of its existence, including one this morning. With only a few more days before the bandwidth resets for the next month, finally I could dig out the post she's referring to and watch the video.

It was absolutely fascinating to watch, and yet in some ways equally frustrating. As I mentioned in my comments to the first post linked, this communication barrier that presents such a problem doesn't exist only between NTs and autists, but even between autists and other autists. It's like all NTs are on one frequency, maybe five or something at most, and autists are spread across the other hundred or more. Autists on the same frequency, or at least the right frequencies, can communicate incredibly well. Even just among those using the same method of communication, though (generally typing, for my personal experience), I have met those who actually communicate better with autists than they ever could with each other. Attempts to cross those frequencies led to more gross misunderstandings and fiery explosions than any attempt to talk with an NT did.

This was not so violent an interaction as all that, but it was still one of not-quite-matching frequencies, I think. On one hand, it was fascinating to watch and did strike a chord in me... but at the same time, it was unbelievably frustrating because it was also just beyond my comprehension. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that it made my brain itch, and that's a rather aggravating sensation, mostly because I can't just reach in and scratch it. It felt like I should have been able to understand entirely, and I almost could, but much like when you have a word on the tip of your tongue, it was just beyond my ability to grasp and form into a complete thought.

The latter half of the video, which did include text, made a very powerful and very true point. There is far from only one kind of thought in this world, and the kind NTs display is actually the more limited. After all, one of the big differences is that NTs are much better at filtering, seeing what they want to see and reducing the world to only one small segment of what is actually there. The problem with autists is that our filters are either poor, non-functioning or just unusual. Many deal with overload, due to difficulties narrowing their focus down to include only as much as they can actually process. Where an NT filters for human interactions and information, I am just as likely to take in what the cat is doing and saying as what you are doing and saying. Granted I'm a bit of a crazy cat lady, but that actually applies to a slightly lesser degree with other animals too. In my mind and with my filters, animal conversations are just as important and worthy of notice as human ones, and can provoke similar responses at times.

(Dear god I accidentally closed the tab thank god that didn't all disappear... everyone take a moment to pray to our lord of computer whim and thank him for this miracle :P Remember kids, always save long internet posts)

The question of natural language in autists is a fascinating one, and I'm actually not entirely sure how to answer it myself. What is my natural language? I don't actually know.

My first reaction is words, particularly typing. I'm one of the very verbose kind of autists, and certainly I find IMs much less stressful than, say, phone conversations. I'm also aural in preference to visual, and tend to think in words. Pictures give me more difficulty.

However, it seems to depend a lot on what, exactly, I'm communicating. For example, my emotional vocabulary is much more deficient than the rest of my vocabulary, and I have vast amounts of difficulty packaging identity, emotions and people into boxes I can wrap words around. Never bother asking me what someone is like; it's not a question I can answer. They're just... them. Here, my primary language instead seems to be a non-verbal one painted in nebulous swirls of emotion and impressions, something which I think my empathic abilities contributes to. It actually distresses me greatly when a situation arises that I need to try translate this in order to communicate it to someone else, because it is a language with nothing even resembling an equivalent in English.