Frustrations with Independence

Fair warning, this is mostly a big ol’ whine.

Being a human is hard. There is a lot of stuff to keep up with. Keeping a body alive: fed, clothed, bathed, sheltered. Keeping said shelter in livable condition. Earning enough income to afford the shelter also hinges on maintaining all of those other basic human needs.

I struggle with it a lot. I try to do one thing, and it feels like all the other things fall to the wayside. If I have to go to work, I don’t have enough energy left to do anything else that day, and potentially a few days after if I’m in an illness flare. If I’m not at work, I don’t have enough structure or external accountability to keep me on task. I succumb to the dreaded inertia, full of intention but lacking in the go factor.

This summer, I’m giving myself a bit of a break between school semesters, so I’m only working two days a week. My health has been relatively stable-ish recently, but I took on a lot in the last semester and was starting to feel burnt out and like my health could start to crash if I didn’t give myself some time to recuperate. I’m in a privileged position right now where I will be returning to school and can access student loans to cover the cost of living. A wonderful position of not needing to be immediately concerned about finances while I put myself into further debt that can be a future me problem. At least in Canada the government helps out with interest if I’m still not earning enough after school to pay it back.

My plan was to use the summer to rest, try to get my life back in order, and start building some healthy habits to carry with me when I go back to school. I want to start cooking more and eating healthier, and I want to get back into my prescribed exercise routine (does it count as “back” if I only ever managed it for one month?). I also wanted to finally catch up on the chores I’ve been neglecting for months… cleaning my living room, bathroom, and bedroom, washing my sheets, vacuuming the house, mowing the lawn…

So far, it doesn’t feel like it’s going so well.

I’ve been discount hopping between a few meal kit delivery services, which have definitely been a big help (I am kind of thinking of giving these their own review posts if I ever get around to it), but I am still struggling to keep up with them. They almost always take me at least twice as long as the recipe suggests. A few of the meals have gone bad before I ever got around to cooking them, and I often don’t get to them all before the next box arrives.

My house is still a mess. I cleaned part of my bedroom in a panic one day, just enough to have an appropriate looking area for a Zoom call. I’ve cleaned areas of the living room, but they end up dirty again before I finish cleaning the whole thing and then I feel like I’m starting at square one again. I vacuumed half of the floor in there once too. I cleaned my bathtub at one point, cause it had gotten too gross to have a bath, and wiped down the sink. The rest of the bathroom is still an embarrassment, and frankly, feels so gross I don’t even like going in there.

The lawn… has gone to seed.

The exercise front is the one thing that has been going a little better, maybe, I think. I’ve given myself a goal of doing some form of exercise every day when my body can tolerate it. Usually that means taking my dog for a longer walk, or spending even just 5 minutes on my rowing machine. It’s hard to know when to push myself with it though. It’s hard to know if I’m feeling lethargic because of inertia, or if it’s actually fatigue and pushing my body might send me into a crash. I do something most days when I feel I have the energy, but I find myself skipping it a lot when I’m not so sure. On the one hand it’s important to listen to my body, but on the other hand I’m not sure when to trust my body. It’s frustrating because I want to build more stamina to feel better and be able to do more, but I’m not sure where the tipping point is to making things worse. I am at least thinking about it every day, and have built cues into my life to motivate myself to do it when I’m feeling up for it, so that is one thing that feels like a step in the right direction.

So here I am, 2/3 of the way through July, which means I’m almost exactly halfway through my summer break, and I don’t feel like I’ve got much to show for it. It’s frustrating. I feel like if I can’t even do these daily living tasks when I’ve hardly got anything else going on, how am I ever supposed to do them when I’m in school or working?

To me, it feels clear that I need support with many of these tasks. It takes up a lot of mental and physical energy for me to try and do them. There are strategies I can and do try: set a timer for 10 minutes and just start, “junebugging”, meal planning, online grocery shopping, chaining activities so one cues the next, and I’m sure plenty of others that I’ve either forgotten or never heard of. It’s still a struggle though, and uses up a lot of my energy that I feel could be better used elsewhere, especially if I’m working or in school. My energy is going to be more focused on attending class, and completing homework rather than washing my sheets or cleaning the toilet. A dirty toilet isn’t going to change my life in the grand scheme of things, but missed classes or late assignment definitely can.

The problem is that I don’t know where or how to get support for these daily living tasks. I’m disabled, but not enough for anyone to really care. As a “level 1” autistic with ADHD and a few chronic illnesses, it seems there aren’t really a lot of resources out there. If I’m not 100% disabled, 80% of the time, then the Government thinks I should be able to manage on my own. According to the DSM, ASD level 1 is “requiring support”, but in application, that seems to only be relevant until you hit age 18, at which point you are now expected to be a fully independent adult.

It’s difficult because I have my own interests, goals, and educational/career path. I want to be able to pursue these, and have success. I know I can do these things, but If I want to get support with daily living, the only place I know where to get that is from my parents. Living with my parents means I can’t live in the city I want to, or attend the school I need to study in my field. It also comes with the guilt of feeling like you are a burden, especially as they get older and start to need more support themselves. I can’t afford to hire someone to help with cooking and cleaning, and I also can’t afford to order food all the time. So instead, my life becomes a crapshoot of constantly having things fall to the wayside, and feeling constantly overwhelmed.

I recently participated in a survey from the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences “Assessment on Autism”. They asked a lot of good questions about living with autism, gaps in services, areas of need, etc. They had an engagement hub for sharing ideas, and I know I’m not alone in feeling like I am in a position where I am disabled enough to need help, but not disabled enough to receive it. There were lots of folks on there addressing similar concerns about how we cannot access any funding or support, yet we also struggle to maintain work and daily care and live in constant overwhelm and burnout. It’s near impossible to even get a diagnosis as an adult without paying thousands of dollars privately for an assessment with a psychologist, as there are only a few psychiatrists who will even see adults.

I’m hopeful that someday the feedback collected from that survey will lead to change in Canada. In the mean time, I continue to be frustrated, and stressed about how to manage on my own. Policy changes take a long time, and there is a long way to go. Maybe one day before then I will figure out how to get the support I need myself, or maybe I will finally reach that elusive, magical threshold the government thinks I was supposed to have crossed at 18 where my support needs no longer exist.

Super Autistic Friendly Guide to Air Travel

I just wrote a super long and fairly detailed description of what it’s like to fly somewhere as a comment on a post in a group I am part of. I am calling it my super autistic friendly guide to air travel, as the title suggests, because that’s basically what it is. 

It took a long time to write and seems like it could be really useful for folks who have never travelled by plane before and are unsure of what to expect (autistic or not!) This post is for anyone who wants to get a better idea of the whole airport-flying-travel process.

Please note, I am sharing this information based on my experience as a white, able-bodied, queer, somewhat able to mask autistic person who has mostly travelled in North America. Experiences can vary based on your race, ability, appearance, behaviour, country of travel, and likely other factors, so do keep this in mind.

Photo by Matthew Turner on Pexels.com

A few general airport what to expect and how to prepare tips:

It’s good to arrive very early to give yourself lots of time to get through without stressing. You can always sit at the gate on your phone/computer anyways. They usually have outlets to plug stuff in if needed. 

When you first arrive if you have bags to check you will go to the check in counter and they put a special tag on them and take them and give you your tickets if you don’t already have them, or a sticker with a barcode for your checked luggage.

If no checked luggage, you may still visit the counter to check in. Or check in ahead of time online. Or at a little automated kiosk near the counters.

Then you head to security. Remember to chug/dump any beverages before this point! If you forget, they will usually dump them for you. Sometimes the line is very long, depending when you’re travelling. This is the main reason to arrive extra early because you never know how long it will be.

If you are running behind, sometimes they are able to rush you to the front if your plane leaves soon, but don’t count on this. Plan for extra time, especially if you’re flying on busy days like Friday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, or any sort of long weekend/holiday.

Photo from https://www.washingtonpost.com

To best prepare for security: 

– Keep your boarding pass and ID handy because they will ask for it about 3 different times

– Wear pants that don’t require a belt cause you will have to take it off (plus it’s comfier for plane ride anyways). 

– Wear shoes that go on and off fairly easy cause you have to take those off too. 

– Try to get all of your small things/loose items into a bag/zip pocket before you get to the scanner thing because people get real impatient if you’re frantically stuffing stuff in a bin and then also you might get flustered and leave something behind or lose it because security is a stressful situation.

– Make sure you don’t have any pocket knives or other sharp pointy things or they will take them away. Try to check every forgotten rarely used pocket before you leave your house 😅

What to expect at security:

– You might get selected for a random search where they open up your carry on bag and swab a bunch of stuff and look through all your stuff. 

– when you get to the scanner put all your bags, loose items, phone, watch, sweater, jacket, shoes into the bin and send it off through the scanner

– walk through the people-scanner yourself

– hope you don’t beep

– if you beep you probably forgot something in your pockets. Take those out and they will make you try again.

– sometimes they have a whole x-ray type scanner thing where you gotta stand on some marks and hold your arms up.

– sometimes they use a metal detecting wand thing after you walk through that will make funny noises when they move it over you. This is to help them find any metal bits that might have set off the scanner. Sometimes it’s a button or rivet on your pants and they let you go.

– sometimes if they are still concerned they will pat you down a bit but this has been rare for me and usually not that thorough.

– hopefully collect your things on the other side with no extra searching. 

– sometimes (often) they decide something suspicious is in your bag and they will take you aside to look through it with you present observing. They will usually ask you if there is anything dangerous or sharp in there, and ask if you have whatever suspicious looking thing they thought you had in the scanner.

– if you have pills/medications keep them in the properly labelled containers. Try to bring only as much as you will need for your trip cause they get a bit weird if you have a brand new full bottle of something sometimes 😅

– if they find something that’s not allowed they will confiscate it (assuming it’s something minor (see accidental forgotten pocket knife comment above). If you had an actual bomb or weapon I would imagine they would not let you go.) Usually people will have something accidental like a pocket knife, nail file, hair gel over the liquid limit, aerosol can or something. Check the forbidden list when you are packing to make sure you don’t have any of these to hopefully avoid extra checks

– then they either give you back your bag and send you on your way, or scan your bag one more time and then let you go.

– Take your time to make sure you’ve got everything before you leave. The exiting end of the scanner is less pressured and usually there is some seating to get your shoes back on and get organized.

Security is the hardest part!! It usually has the longest wait and the most anxiety inducing stuff. Once you’re through security it’s smooth sailing! Now you can choose what to do depending on how much time you have.

After security:

I usually like to go to my gate first so that I know where it is. This is particularly helpful if it’s a big airport and you are not sure how long it will take to get to the gate from security. Sometimes it can be quite far and you may even need to take a little train/trolley thing to get there. If you have mobility concerns usually there are airport staff with little golf cart type cars who can drive you, or assist you in a wheelchair.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

If you have time there are usually a few little food kiosks, news stands, small shops etc. They mostly sell snacks, magazines, travel things like neck pillows and socks and eye masks and headphones. They’re usually pretty expensive so you’re better off to get these things before the airport, but if you forget something or don’t care about cost there are options!

Fill up your water bottle or get a drink again. They will not take away your liquids anymore 🙂 Ifyou forget they usually give you a small drink on the plane at least.

Hang out near your gate and wait for boarding. If you have mobility concerns, any other concerns, or reasons you may need a bit more time to get on the plane and get settled, it’s usually good to go check in with the staff at the counter of your gate to let them know what you need.

Hang out until it’s time to board! Keep your bags with you. They will make several announcements to not leave your bags unattended if you happen to forget. Sometimes there are comfy chairs, but not always. Usually there are outlets to charge electronics. 

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Boarding the plane:

They will call when it’s time to board. If you need extra time to get on the plane they will make a “preboarding announcement” and you can head up and they will help you get on.

Otherwise they call you up by zones usually. If there are zones it should say which boarding zone you are in on your boarding pass. Go up and get in line when your zone is called. Have your boarding pass and ID ready to show the staff at the counter. You will usually walk down a long ramp onto the plane,but sometimes on smaller planes you will walk outside and then up a few stairs onto the plane.

If you have a window seat it’s nice to get on earlier so you don’t have to squish past so many people.

If you have an aisle seat I like to get on as close to last as possible so not as many people squish by me and I don’t have to get up multiple times to let someone into my row.

When you find your row, put your big carry on in the overhead bin. Bring your small carry on with you to your seat. You will stow it under the seat for takeoff and landing, but otherwise you have free access to it.

Note about carry on items: It’s good to have your big wheely carry on and a smaller “personal item”. Put anything you anticipate needing during the flight into your “personal item” which will come to your seat with you. It’s a huge pain in the butt to dig something out of your bigger carry on from the overhead bin once you’re all loaded in. Would not advise.

Wait for everyone to get one and get settled and prepare take off!

Photo by Daniel Frese on Pexels.com

The flight:

First you will slowly taxi away from the gate. You may have to wait in a line of planes for your turn on the runway.

The flight attendants will go over a bunch of safety announcements with everyone. Sometimes there is a video to accompany this, other times they stand in the aisles and show everyone what to do. First they will ask you to put your phone in airplane mode. Then they will go over how the seatbelts work, what kinds of things you might encounter on a flight, and what to do in case of an emergency. If you are in an emergency exit row the flight attendants will have a direct conversation with you about how to work the door and confirm you are comfortable with the responsibility and give you the option to move if you are not.

Take off is my favourite part. It is the most fun. It feels a little bit like a boring roller coaster. The plane speeds up and kinda smushes you back into your seat. Then you will gently lift off and you get a bit of a weightless feeling and maybe that tummy drop a bit and then you’re flyyyying and it’s super cool and exciting. The plane also usually makes some creaky/rattly noises during take off which I like but if you are anxious maybe put in some headphones to cover up the sound.

If you are sensitive to pressure changes take off and landing can make your ears hurt. Chewing gum, sucking on candies, eating a snack, or trying the “valsalva maneuver” can help to equalize your ears and relieve pain. Smaller kids usually have the most trouble with this so if you are travelling with a child try to prepare them for this. As a kid I always got to pick out a special gum treat for the take off from my parents. If you hear kids crying at take off and landing this is probably why. Also if you have a cold/nasal congestion it will probably make your whole face hurt for a bit, especially behind your eyebrows and in your ears.

Then you fly for a long time and it’s fun for a bit but usually boring after not very long. Sometimes the seats have tvs or you can use your own devices or books for entertainment. Usually there is a drink service where they come through with a cart and offer you a drink and a snack (usually pretzels or cookies). If you are on a longer flight there may be a larger snack service where you can purchase snacks, or on really long flights you might be served a meal.

Photo by Alexis Azabache on Pexels.com

Eventually you will land and that is my second favourite part. Like the end of a roller coaster and it squishes you down in your seat and you slow down so fast. Again, be prepared for possible ear pain due to pressure changes.

They will tell you when it is safe to unbuckle and turn your cellphone service back on. Then you wait for your turn to get off the plane. Make sure you have all your things (check in your seat crack and the seat pouch and everywhere!!!) Don’t forget your bag in the overhead bin!!!

Get off the plane.

At the arrival airport:

Go pee right away maybe, cause you probably have to cause airplane toilets are not the greatest. (Though totally worth checking out for interest’s sake if it’s your first time flying. They’re kinda cool, just not super comfortable to actually use. The flush is very loud and startling though, so be prepared for that if you are sensitive.) It’s trickier to go to the bathroom after you pick up your checked bags, so I like to go first thing when I get off the plane.

Follow the signs to get out to the baggage area. This will be outside of the “secure area” so usually you will walk through an automatic door that says NO STOPPING ONE WAY ONLY etc.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Pick up your checked bags if you have any. There will be a bunch fo baggage carousels with a screen that will have your flight info on it. Wait at the one for your flight and eventually your bag will come down and circulate until you pick it up. If it gets left behind staff members will collect them and presumably keep them somewhere in case the owner returns for them later.

Leave the airport!

Enjoy your trip!

That’s probably mostly everything but I might have missed a few things so others can chime in in the comments if they think of anything 👍

Dealing with Social Anxiety – A trip down memory lane

I recently found myself on a little nostalgic adventure and ended up watching some videos from my old YouTube account. I didn’t think I really had anything on there besides concert recordings and school projects, but I actually found an unlisted video that I made for my (now ex-)girlfriend when I was 15. I gather the whole premise of it was that I was going to make her a little video for our anniversary of a bunch of the reasons why I loved her. The reality of it was that it took me half an hour to even get the courage to say what the video was for. 

It’s 20 minutes of me stalling by testing out every webcam filter (though we could blame the ADHD for this one, I still do this on Snapchat), followed by 10 minutes of me anxiously giggling, opening my mouth to speak, and then ducking out of frame too anxious to actually do it. When I finally start to speak every sentence is still punctuated by long pauses while I gather courage, more giggling and ducking out of frame, frequent scene cuts, and anxious stims throughout. Most of the things I ended up saying were pretty surface level because I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything more meaningful. Not the most successful video in terms of the initial goal.

It feels wild to watch it now, over 10 years later, when I don’t have any memory of the situation or those feelings. Almost like watching someone else trying to work through their anxiety. It brought up a mixture of feelings for me now. I found myself rooting for past-self, wanting to cheer myself on and tell me I can do it. Proud when the words finally start to come out. It also felt really sad. It is so clear how overwhelmingly anxious I was feeling, but I wanted to do it so badly and was trying so hard. I could see past-me getting frustrated with myself the longer it went on, cutting in with comments about how I didn’t finish it on time to send it before she got home, wanted it to be nice but it wasn’t turning out how I wished, calling myself stupid etc. It was sad to see the ways the anxiety made me feel bad about myself, and kept me from doing something that I really actually wanted to do.

Interestingly, I wasn’t even aware at the time that this was an actual problem. At that age, I thought that everyone felt that uncomfortable in those kinds of situations. I thought it was my fault, that I just that I wasn’t trying hard enough or something. I knew that I was shy, people were always telling me I saw shy, but I thought that the way I felt was just what shy was. I didn’t really understand that there was a spectrum of shy, and that mine was quite thoroughly into the social anxiety end of that spectrum. I actually thought I was a relatively relaxed and laid back person. I had friends with anxiety disorders and I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t losing sleep over homework assignments, calling my parents every few hours to make sure they were still alive, or *tossing my cookies* (I love that expression xD) because something went wrong. I thought this meant that I must not be anxious at all.

As it turns out… most things exist on some sort of continuum. Yes, perhaps my anxiety is not as severe as some of the people around me, but it sure as heck is a lot higher than many of my peers. Not feeling anxiety in the same situations as my anxious friends didn’t mean that I wasn’t also an anxious person. Put them in many of the situations that make me feel anxious and they would probably handle those just fine because that’s not what they struggle with personally. While I knew that some kids could be better at math, others at crafting, history, writing, building, dancing etc. and various skill levels within those categories, I couldn’t make the connection that it also meant the same variability could apply to anxiety, or anything really. 

I suppose that’s one of the helpful things that I have learned with growing older. I have become a lot more self aware. A lot more people-aware in general. I understand that the peaks and valleys don’t just apply to academics and hobbies, but they actually apply to every single thing about a person. Everyone is different, experiences the world in different ways, and moves through it accordingly. Understanding this has helped me to not only be more forgiving with others when they don’t act how I would expect, but has also helped me to be more forgiving with myself for all the times when I don’t act how others might expect, or even meet my own expectations.

Now that I can name my anxiety for what it is, it is easier to navigate it. Have I gotten better at dealing with my anxiety in social situations? I like to think so. I’ve still got a long way to go. I still feel anxious in most situations that involve interacting with a person. I still don’t do well sharing anything even bordering on a personal thought or feeling with people.

The thing is, at least now I know that it’s my anxiety and I can take steps towards overcoming it. I still clam up in a lot of situations, but with the gained perspective, I am now able to push through the discomfort a little better. I can willingly put myself into situations that feel uncomfortable and reassure myself that it’s probably not actually as awful as I feel like it is. I can try to ignore the part of my brain that is screaming at me to shut down, and fight it with the logic that it is not actually a dangerous situation. I can remind myself that sharing will probably be good in the long run, even if the moment of sharing feels scary. I mean, heck, to draw on the example from the old video I watched, what’s the worst that could happen when I tell someone who loves me why I love them back? They will feel good for a while and appreciate my honesty? The horror.

I am also able to be more forgiving with myself. If I find that I can’t say something yet, that’s okay. I know that I tried. Not being able to say it doesn’t mean that I don’t care enough, that I didn’t try hard enough, or that I’m “stupid” or a failure. It just means that I will have to try again in the future. Maybe I need to take some intermediate steps to work towards getting to where I want to be. Maybe I can find a tool that will make it easier for me to communicate what I need/want. It means I have options that I didn’t have before when I would place all the blame on myself, and get upset when I couldn’t push through a situation that others could handle fine. 

It’s a process for sure. Of course I still have anxiety, and I still get upset and frustrated with myself over it. It still drains my energy, keeps me up at night, and holds me back from a lot of things that I might otherwise enjoy. But as I get older and continue to work through it, it gradually gets to be a little less. Seeing my past self struggling really hit home about how much of a challenge this is for me, but I take pride in the fact that even when I didn’t have a name for it, I tried to work through it. I am proud of the fact that now I know what to call it, and have tools to help work through it more effectively. I am proud of how far I’ve come, even if I still have a long way to go. I can see the change from when I was a teen and it reminds me that it’s not a fruitless effort. I am making progress, and it inspires me to keep tackling challenging situations and doing my best.

Cooking with Spoons

I needed something to eat today. I’m not really all that good at keeping myself fed. I don’t enjoy cooking. I enjoy the food made from cooking? But the actual process of the cooking just does not happen very often. I’m also running low on my usual foods. I think the last time I went grocery shopping was about 3 weeks ago? I’ve been eating out a lot, or mooching off my brother’s food. I have some things in the freezer but I’m running out of the easy food that has at least some semblance of nutritional value. For a pantry and freezer that are both practically full, I somehow feel like there is nothing to eat. (To be fair half of my pantry is just boxes of sugary cereal that I have no milk for, and containers/dishes that have been shoved in there with no organization)

I thought about getting pizza again…or sushi… but really I just wanted the stuffed crazy bread from LC. I got a stuffed crazy crust pizza there last week and let me tell you it was DELICIOUS but definitely gave me a stomach ache. But mostly I just wanted to eat the crust and the pizza area felt like it was interrupting the enjoyment of the crust so now I want to just go for the stuffed crazy bread next time since I’ve realized that’s a thing. Anyways I wanted crazy bread. But that is not a nutritious meal in the least. And I’m supposed to take care of my body or something.

So I tried to figure out what I did have… there was a can of browned beans… but I recently discovered that those actually have more sugar in them than anything sooooo those are off the “semi-healthy easy dinner” list now. But I rummaged around in my pantry and I found a few cans of things that have been in there for a long time that maybe I had a plan with at some point that I never got around to and definitely wasn’t going to get around to anymore.

So I pulled some cans of things out that sounded like maybe they could go together kind of sort of I guess. I ended up with… two cans of black beans, one can of pinto beans, a can of coconut milk, a can of pureed pumpkin, and a can of tomatoes. It seemed like maybe these things could make a weird slightly healthier version of browned beans without too much effort. So I opened them all and dumped them in a big pot.

Now, I could have found a recipie that worked with some of the ingredients I found, but my patience is short. I usually don’t even make it through the ingredients list before deciding to go rogue with it anyways. If I even make it to the ingredients. Sometimes trying to get a recipie you have to scroll through so much blog to get there that I just never get there. (Sidenote, suddenly I want to include a recipie card for this entirely average creation I had tonight. If I figure out how maybe I will do it). So anyways, instead of doing something that would probably taste better, I just did whatever I felt like.

So into the pot everything goes. I decided to add a can of pineapple I found in the pantry too becase why not. My roommate’s mom is visiting for the weekend and popped in at this point to see what I was making. To which my answer was “I am not really sure??? But I put these things in it. Now I am going to add some maple syrup because that’s delicious.” She had a somewhat concerned look I think, and told me maybe I should taste it first and try some salt. So we tasted it. I thought it was kind of bland because there was literally nothing in it besides 7 cans of stuff. I don’t remember what she thought because I was too busy getting the maple syrup to pour some in.

I decided to go with the pumpkin theme and add a bunch of spices that are in pumpkin pie. I am not sure why because the pumpkin is the least obvious flavour out of all those ingredients but I guess maybe I just love pie and maybe I will like dinner if it tastes like pie. Spoiler alert, it did not taste like pie in the end. So I added some cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt because The Mom told me to add salt and I need to eat a lot of salt for my POTS anyways. I also added some powdered ginger because??? Then I left it to simmer while I took out the recycling because tomorrow is collection day and its all over flowing. I also took out the compost and watered my strawberry plant. I was wild productive.

So it simmered for however long that took me. There was a lot of recycling so it was a while. I tried some and… it was weird. Still kind of bland somehow even though it also tasted like the spices. I don’t know. I’m not sure how to fix it. It was a weird mixture of sweet and savoury because the saucy pumpkin coconut parts blended with the spices and was sweet, but then I would get a chunk of the diced tomato and it definitely wasn’t sweet. Maybe I just need to do the slow cooker thing and let it cook for 8 hours but I needed to eat today, so.

Sidenote, everyone is always saying how awesome slow cookers are because theyre *so easy* but like??? pal??? do you think I can plan that far ahead that I am going to need to eat however many hours later???? Do you think I have the motivation to put all the food into the thing to start cooking when I do not need to eat it right away??? idk. IDK. But my pumpkin beans are not slow cooked because fuck that. So they’re alright I guess. I ate them. They were filling. But bland.

I looked up a recipie for baked beans at this point to try and find what spices go into it that would maybe make mine taste more like that instead of… weird. I only looked at one recipie but it said to use ketchup, onions, and mustard powder??? Idk how that makes baked beans but I tried adding some mustard powder, onion powder, and garlic powder to my little bowl. That made it taste maybe better. I couldn’t decide. It didn’t taste bland anymore but then it kind of tasted like mustard and also the clovey-cinnamony situation was blending with that and it was odd. So I left the whole pot as it was.

I shlooped it all into a few containers. One little one that had been in the fridge with some pasta in it from yesterday that I didn’t feel like washing. A big one to put in the fridge and eat for the next few days. And a medium one to put in the freezer because there was A Lot. Just yr average dumping of the food into the containers as one does.

So now we come to the point of inspiration for this whole post. Because I don’t cook often but usually when I do it is a similar situation to this of just kind of… putting whatever random ingredients I forgot to use before into a vessel and cooking it and hoping it turns out edible and then eating it for the next 4 days. So while this may have been one of my slightly more creative meals because??? I’ve had that can of pumpkin for like 2 years I think I was probably going to give it to my dog. Wtf else does someone do with pumpkin cause I definitely was not about to make a pie ever and I don’t think it’s a very common ingredient. It certainly isnt for me at least.

But the true marvel of this whole situation was this: Shortly after putting my slop into the containers, The Mom re-enters the kitchen.

“Oh wow! Look at all this! This is great!”

“It’s actually pretty average. It didn’t turn out that great but it’s alright, I guess.”

“But I mean! THIS!” *gestures emphatically at my containers*

“That I put it in containers?” (Me, very seriously confused what was so great)

*The Mom starts actually laughing here* I guess my incomprehension that I could have done anything particularly impressive was amusing?

“I don’t know what I did that is so great?”

*The Mom finally managing to compose herself* “I just think this is great! All this food in all these containers. You have meals for the rest of the week!”

I mean??? yes that was the plan??? But what a good supportive mom. I feel so validated. I was kind of proud of myself for making food that is at least kind of healthy instead of getting pizza. I do not cook often so its always a bit of an accomplishment when I do. Even if I feel like this was barely cooking because I literally just dumped a bunch of cans of stuff in a pot and added some spices. But now I feel! Like! I did something impressive! To someone other than myself! She probably has a very low bar because I have never seen my roommate make anything more complex than instant ramen, but it was so validating all the same.

So anyways. I made some food and someone’s mom was impressed and it feels like a pretty big accomplishment now. Which is nice because I tend to feel guilty for not feeding myself well. But now I did the thing and even when it was the most half assed random mixture of things because *spoons* it is IMPRESSIVE AND GREAT. And I just want everyone to know that even if you cook something that sucks, you still cooked and you did the food thing and that’s pretty heckin’ great.

If you want to try my weird beans here’s the recipie not on a card because idk formatting.

Weird Pumpkin Coconut Tomato Bean Pot Thing

This photo is vile. I apologize, but that’s what it looked like.
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 can diced pineapple
  • Generous dump of maple syrup
  • Generous dump of ginger
  • Accidentally large dump of cinnamon
  • Small shake of cloves because this one was actually in a shaker
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Some twists of the salt grinder

Dump all ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a boil while adding the spices. Stir once all ingredients are in. Reduce heat to low and simmer for however long it takes you to do something else. “Enjoy”.

Hey, It’s Flea.

Behold, a second post is happening, and it is indeed an introduction!

You can call me Flea, they/them pronouns. I’m a queer, autistic, spoonie, biologist nerd. I’m starting this blog mostly for myself, as a place to talk about whatever I want to talk about, for personal growth and such. I don’t plan to do extensive editing or polishing of my posts. It’s probably going to be more of a personal journal than anything (maybe I should have made a livejournal? idk). I want a low judgement, low expectations place to share my thoughts, feelings and ideas. If you’re into reading that, then welcome, I hope you enjoy. I’m also super into the idea of people commenting and replying to my posts, so I would love to engage with you in that way!

A good chunk of the reason I’m here is because I suck at talking about myself in any real capacity. Telling people personal things about my life and the things that go on in my mind? Yikes. That’s a recipe for anxiety for me. Ask me about something I like and I can go on for ages, ask me about my inner thoughts and feelings, if you’re not one of my two best friends, you will probably not get much more than a sentence out of me. Unless I’m going on a rant where I just have to talk about the crap that happened and not how I feel about it personally. I’m trying to get more comfortable being open about myself, and a blog seemed like a good start at doing that.

Somehow, sharing personal thoughts semi-anonymously on the internet to strangers (and a select few friends, hi!) feels like a manageable challenge to me. More so than challenging myself to share one personal thing with one person outside of my *trusted people*. I’m hoping maybe talking about my things with people online will make me more comfortable with it and then maybe I can graduate to telling someone something in real life *gasp*. So I guess it’s a (my)self help blog? But also maybe someone else will connect with my content in the mean time.

I think I will elaborate a bit on the various identifiers I use in a few separate posts. I was going to do it in this one but I was writing it and it felt too long to do all in one. I’m sure each of those subjects will come up often in my blog, because they all make up such a big part of my life, and the thoughts that run through my brain on a given day. They all still feel like a work in progress too, and as a sort of journal-blog, I expect I will be writing about some of them fairly regularly.

So for now, welcome to my blog! Thanks for reading and helping me to challenge myself with sharing. I hope you enjoy your visit here.