Autistic Invisibility

Autism might be “all in my head”, but that doesn’t mean I’m making it up.

Human beings have a hard time taking things seriously if those things can’t be seen with the naked eye. At least that’s been my experience. Mental health issues? You’ll be fine, until such time as you strip naked and walk down the middle of the interstate, or gun down some unsuspecting strangers. COVID? Invisible, so no need for masks. Global warming? Nah. It still snows.

Since my recent Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, the thing I’ve been struggling with the most is the sheer invisibility of this condition. If you saw me walking down the street, you’d assume I’m neurotypical 99 percent of the time. You might think I was a little odd because I don’t always make eye contact, and I often have a blank expression.

You’d probably find me to be nitpicky about things that you couldn’t care less about if you take the time to get to know me. You might think I overreact sometimes. You might accuse me of being anti-social and rather rigid in my beliefs. But I doubt you’d look at me and think, “There’s someone with a neurological difference who needs some support or the occasional special accommodation.”

Because of this, my needs are shunted to the side, and on the rare occasion that I do “act all autistic” it shocks or irritates or scares or annoys those around me. Autism might be “all in my head”, but that doesn’t mean I’m making it up. I certainly can’t turn it on or off when it suits me.

Even the people closest to me seem to be struggling with this concept. They can read book after book or article after article, or watch video after video, and it will seem like they understand, but then I’ll have an autistic meltdown, and they’ll instantly revert right back to assuming I’m being manipulative and childish, and that I’m throwing a tantrum. That reaction then increases my frustration and makes the situation 1000 times worse. But in fairness, it’s a lot to ask of anyone that they instantly shift their perspectives about me. There’s bound to be an adjustment period.

Insisting that you’re not being manipulative or childish is a fruitless as saying “I am not a crook.” Once someone has that image of you, it’s all but impossible to get them to see you differently. It’s really hard for me to imagine that someone can hold such a low opinion of me and yet love me at the same time.

I struggle to love people that I don’t respect, so I can’t comprehend how someone else can do it. Do I really want the love of someone who thinks so little of me? Not really. Maybe that’s an autism thing, too. But don’t most people want to be loved just the way they are?

Would I have an easier time of it if I were in a wheelchair? Definitely not. But at least some people might cut me a little freakin’ slack every once in a while. At least I hope so, or I’d lose all faith in humanity.

Why is it so hard for people to believe that I’m not willfully misbehaving? Why do they find it so difficult to trust me when I say that I’m not being intentionally rude? I can guarantee you that I’m trying a whole hell of a lot harder than you think I am.

Another thing that those around me can’t really see is that my energy reserves are all but depleted. That means I no longer have the strength to try to convince people that my autism is real. After a lifetime of not being taken seriously, I lack the momentum to get up every day knowing I’ll be called upon to prove myself or explain myself. I am no longer up for this fight. Sadly, there’s no alternative.

I know I’ll never fit into the narrow view of what is normal in this culture, and it shouldn’t be a requirement. But to function in this society, I have to navigate around all the things that nobody else sees. I don’t get to take a vacation from autism. I live inside every awkward interaction. I am forced to accommodate the impatience and irritation that others seem to feel because I am not fitting inside their prescribed boxes.

When someone accepts me and allows me to be myself, it’s such a rare occasion that I feel the need to thank them for it. Do neurotypicals get to take that sort of treatment for granted? I have no idea.

All I know is that I just want to be either accepted for the person that I am or left alone entirely. Take your pick. At the very least, don’t invalidate my disability simply because you can’t see it. When you do that, it feels like you’re invalidating me. Of course I’m tired. I have to resurrect myself from invalidation multiple times a day.

Believe me, I’d snap out of it if I could. I’ve been trying to do so for a lifetime. And I’m really, really tired of being reminded that I’ve been spectacularly unsuccessful despite those efforts.



Can anyone be trusted?

I wish I weren’t going through life learning this lesson over and over again.

Lack of trust is a deal breaker for me. I either trust you or I don’t. Similarly, if you don’t think I’m trustworthy, you clearly don’t have a good read on me, so what’s the point of maintaining a friendship?

I once ended a 23-year friendship for that very reason. She had always been the one to fly out to visit me, because I was poor and she was a lot less so. (That, and she also visited other people in the area.) It was purely a case of economics and convenience. At least that’s what I had always assumed.

Then one day I got the bright idea to surprise my best friend. I saved my money for nearly a year so that, for once, I could visit her. Of course I didn’t just show up at her door without any warning. I would never do that. When I finally had enough for the plane ticket, I called her up and shared the news that I’d like to visit for a few days in about two months, based on her availability.

I thought she’d be as excited as I always was when she came to see me. My guest room was always open to her. Always. But apparently that particular street only went one way.

My best friend for 23 years (who, by the way, never called me her best friend, even though we spent about 5 hours a day talking on the phone. No one ever has.) informed me that I couldn’t stay with her, because she couldn’t trust me in her house.

And just like that, I realized that I had been operating under the illusion that she knew what kind of person I was. Discovering that her assessment of me was that I was someone who couldn’t be trusted around her personal possessions left me completely and utterly speechless. Like I’d… what? Root through her file cabinet and write down her Social Security Number for future use? Read her diary? Steal her silverware? Really?

I was disgusted. At myself. For thinking she knew me for 23 years. For not realizing that she had such a low opinion of me.

It’s too simplistic to say that that was the only reason I ended that friendship. But once the scales fell from my eyes, I saw just how much I had been overlooking for all those years, and this was just a bridge too far. That was a bitter lesson to learn.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take that lesson and apply it to others. To this day, I walk through life thinking that I actually know people. I assume decency. I am too trusting. And it bites me in the butt all the time.

Picture this. Fast forward seven years. I thought I’d finally made my first friend after having moved across the country to Seattle. She was a climate activist and a therapist, and she lived only about a mile away from me. We’d hang out once or twice a week, go to dinner, play cards, watch Trump get elected and feel sick together… you know. Friend stuff.  She even had me over for Thanksgiving.

Then one day we were hanging out at my house, something we rarely did because she didn’t like my dog (and that should have been a red flag in and of itself.) She had to use the bathroom, which of course was no problem. I was in the kitchen, making lunch. But the walls in that place were thin, and my medicine cabinet made a distinctive squeak when it opened. I could also hear the pills rattling around in the bottles as she took the time to examine one after another.

I went into the living room and sat down, facing the bathroom door. She spent quite some time in there, nosing around, and I was at a loss as to what to do about it. It felt like such a violation. And what nerve. (To her credit, I never detected that any meds were missing, but still.) It was as if she were saying that I had no right to privacy, I should not expect to be respected, and I had no agency over my own things in my own home.

When she came out and saw me sitting right there, I could tell she was taken by surprise. I looked her square in the eye, and she looked down. I wish I could tell you I confronted her about it, but the truth is, I hate confrontation. And I kind of thought I had made my point anyway. We had an awkward lunch and she left.

Once again, I was shocked to learn that someone’s character was a lot less admirable than I had assumed. It just goes to show that therapists can be every bit as f***ed up as the rest of us are.  I kind of feel sorry for her patients. Here they think that they’re telling all their intimate secrets to someone with a moral compass who wants to help them, when in fact she’s probably just getting off on rooting around in the medicine cabinets of their minds.

Shortly after that lovely insight into her moral makeup, she got herself a boyfriend and completely dropped off the face of the earth for about two months. To say I was relieved would be putting it mildly. But of course, that relationship didn’t last. She didn’t like the way he loaded the dishwasher. Suddenly she wanted to hang out again.

I didn’t completely eject her from my life. Friends are entirely too thin on the ground out here in the Pacific Northwest for that. But things were never the same. My fundamental opinion of her had shifted too much.

Then later, when I got married and moved 25 miles away, she told me we weren’t friends anymore because I wasn’t willing or able to drop everything to hang out with her at a moment’s notice like I used to. (I think it had more to do with the fact that I had managed to find someone who “loads the dishwasher” to my satisfaction, and that’s something she has never been able to achieve, but I digress.)

Having someone who snooped around in my medicine cabinet turn around and tell me I was a bad friend for paying too much attention to my husband was, and will always be, more than a little bit amusing to me. She may even believe the words that came out of her mouth. I have no idea. But I really believe I’m a good friend to have and she doesn’t get to have that.

I’m making more of an effort to remind myself that I can’t figure most people out. It’s a moot point, though. She moved to another city and made it quite clear that there was no point remaining in contact.

Did I judge her too harshly? I suppose I do expect the same level of integrity from others that I do from myself. To do otherwise might put me in a scary situation.

Apparently, many people can’t resist sticking their noses where they don’t belong. According to a survey by the makers of Quilted Northern toilet tissue, 39 percent of Americans peek in other people’s medicine cabinets. Even worse: Twenty-five percent have helped themselves to something inside.

Of course, those surveys only measure those who are willing to admit their transgressions. I bet that figure is actually higher. But it would never have occurred to me to wonder before I had it happen to me. I hope 39 percent of my readers don’t pull this caper. I’d be profoundly disappointed.

These statistics blow my mind. It would never, ever occur to me to violate someone’s privacy like that. I once endured a throbbing hangnail for 4 hours because I wouldn’t go into someone’s medicine cabinet on my own and they were so justifiably busy that they couldn’t stop long enough to get me a nail clipper and a band aid.

If I need an aspirin, I ask for one. If someone asks me for an aspirin, I don’t hesitate to provide it. I really don’t have anything to hide. I’m an open medicine cabinet. I just would like you to grant me the courtesy of asking me before opening said cabinet, just as I would do for you. That seems fairly straightforward to me.

I can’t believe how rude people can be, with apparently no remorse whatsoever. Maybe the fundamentalists are right and there’s no such thing as evolution, at least from the perspective that we never truly emotionally evolved as a species. We certainly behave like monkeys a lot of the time. We’re only a few genetic sequences away from throwing our feces at one another when we get agitated.

Maybe I need to lower my expectations. Maybe I should assume that I’m viewed as untrustworthy, and will be no matter what I do, and I should hold a similar opinion of others. That would certainly simplify things, because I’d lose all desire to interact with anyone but my dog.

Human beings are inherently flawed. I realize that. Maybe I just have to learn that, in addition, nothing is sacred. I just wish I weren’t going through life learning that lesson over and over and over again. It’s exhausting, disappointing, and it makes me very sad.

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Unpacking Insincerity

Why waste time with pretty words that have no meaning?

On the day of this writing, during my 45 minute morning commute, I was thinking about two people on the periphery of my life who are extremely insincere. Some relationships are not of your choosing. Rather, they are thrust upon you, and you just have to cope with them as best you can.

If anything, I am too sincere. That’s a problem, too. If I feel something, I put it out there, for better or worse. Sometimes that gets me into trouble. Sometimes I shock or frustrate people. But they usually know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say. To behave otherwise would be entirely too confusing.

Because of this, I’m utterly befuddled by insincere people. If you say one thing and then do another, I’m left wondering why you simply didn’t state your intentions in the first place. Why waste time with pretty words that have no meaning?

What constantly astounds me about insincere people is that they must genuinely believe that they have everyone fooled or they wouldn’t continue down that twisted road. In fact, insincerity is easy to spot by most people. Either your body language isn’t matching your actual language, or you’ve demonstrated that you actually feel the opposite about things by your past behavior. You seem to have failed to realize that most people learned to pretend and can therefore spot it in others by the time they’ve attended preschool.

I believe that most insincere people have very little knowledge of themselves or others. If they’re not making a conscious effort to be disingenuous, if it comes naturally to them, then they must have started believing their own pretense long ago, and therefore they feel sincere to themselves. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse. But if you’re often told that you can’t be counted upon and/or trusted, here’s a clue: That’s most likely due to your insincerity.

Nobody is perfect. We’ve all said, “Nice to meet you,” for example, when in fact we couldn’t care less. But when that kind of behavior becomes a lifestyle, people will start to actively loathe you.

It must be strange to go through life saying over the top nice things to people and then turning around and treating them horribly, all while thinking that you are not the problem. It must be awfully hard to find your happy place under those circumstances. I’d feel sorry for these people if they weren’t so consciously or unconsciously manipulative.

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People Who Are Important to Me

Never forget that you have value.

One of the lessons I seem to be forced to learn over and over and over again is that just because I consider someone important to me, that does not necessarily mean that I’m important to them. That’s always a heartbreaking realization. Upon discovering this, I’m learning to reduce that person’s importance in my life as well. But it isn’t easy. I am loyal to a fault.

I tend to take the initiative in friendships much more often than I should, for example. I seem to forget that I deserve to be prioritized as much as the next person does. All relationships should be give and take. Not that I think one should keep score, but sometimes the imbalance becomes blatantly obvious. This lesson has intensified, for some reason, since I moved to the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Freeze is real.

If you trust someone and they do not trust you, then they don’t think much of you. Not really. And if someone is quite happy to do things with you only if you come up with the ideas and make the plans every single time, then clearly they’re not seeing you as someone who is worth the effort.

So the lesson for today, for me, anyway, is to never forget that I have value, and that value deserves acknowledgement.


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The Creepy Concept of Covenant Marriage

This seems like a disturbing, backward trend.

Recently, I came across a disturbing little factoid. In 1997, the state of Louisiana passed Covenant Marriage into law. Arkansas and Arizona later jumped on the bandwagon. Thank goodness no other states have taken the bait.

These policies, if you opt into them, make marriage more difficult to get into, and a lot more difficult to get out of. For starters, according to Wikipedia, you have to attend premarital counseling sessions, which “emphasize the nature, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage”, and you must sign a statement saying that the marriage is for life.

While I think premarital counseling is a great idea, I wonder who exactly is conducting these sessions. And I really would have a problem with having someone other than me and my spouse dictate what the nature, purpose and responsibilities of our marriage are to be. Marriage is what you make it. No two are alike.

And as for signing one’s life away, if you aren’t confident that the other person is going to try for a lifelong commitment unless they put it in writing, then you might want to reexamine how much you trust this person in the first place. Trust is the bedrock of any relationship. If you don’t have that, you’re building a castle on sand.

This is starting to sound like the equivalent of a homeowners’ association for relationships. I chafe at rules and regulations. I’ll pass.

Even worse are the restrictions placed on getting out of the marriage. In a covenant marriage, you are waiving your rights to a no-fault divorce. Before you can even consider divorce, you have to first go to counseling. You must also be able to prove that your spouse has committed adultery, a felony, is a drug addict or a sexual predator, or that you’ve been living apart for at least a year (perhaps two, depending on the state.)

First of all, why bother with counseling if your spouse is involved in such heinous acts? Those things, as far as I’m concerned, are deal breakers.

And you notice there’s no provision for your husband punching you in the face and not being prosecuted for it, nor is there an option if your wife suddenly joins a cult. Your only recourse in those situations would be a long painful separation, and there’s no guarantee that the nut job in question would agree to being apart.

Life is messy. It can go south in many ways that are outside the bounds of these few legislative dicta. No one should have the right to define what you deem to be unsupportable.

Is it just me, or is it creepy and strange that these three super red states, full to the brim with conservatives who claim to want less government, not more, are all for these highly regulated covenant marriages? But then, this legislates religion and “family values”, and restricts the freedom of women even further, so yeah, I guess it makes sense.

Fortunately, these three states have not made covenant marriage mandatory, and less than 1 percent of the couples getting married each year in these places opt in to this foolishness. But still, it seems like a disturbing, backward trend, and it gives me the willies.

I love holding my husband’s hand, but I wouldn’t want to be handcuffed to it.

Business people handcuffed together

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I don’t know why I bother.

When I wrote this post I was in a very dark place. I debated even publishing it at all. But sometimes I get the impression that I voice things that others cannot or will not, and hearing it brings them comfort. So here it is. But please rest assured that I’m feeling much better about things now.

I’m a fiercely loyal person. Disparage someone I care about and I will verbally eviscerate you. Treat others unfairly and you will unleash the kraken.

I don’t know why I bother.

I can count the number of times someone else has flown to my defense on one hand. Granted, it’s a rare occasion when I need such assistance. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. But sometimes it would be nice to be thrown an emotional life ring, you know?

As a matter of fact, what I usually get thrown is under the bus. Heck, I practically live under that bus. It’s a source of profound disappointment to me. And road rash.

You’d think I’d have learned by now. There are very few people in this world who are going to stick their necks out for you. Most pull their selfish little heads into their feeble little shells to avoid what they assume will be total annihilation. It’s sad, really.

I don’t want to become one of those people. But if no one else is going to protect me, I need to protect myself. Circle the wagons. Keep my mouth shut. Let the chips fall where they may, and hope that they rain down on someone else’s head for a change.

And my steadfast resolve to be more self-protective will last, oh, a day or two. Because I can’t let go of the belief that if I ever want to see justice in this world, I have to play fair, in the hopes that one day someone might reciprocate, and I’ll finally feel vindicated.

Next time you see me, do me a favor and, as they say in the South, slap me upside the head.


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Tall Tale Tellers

I’ve worked with several pathological liars in my lifetime. It’s a mental disorder that I struggle to understand, because there seems to be no emotional payoff. Do these people not realize that for the most part, everyone can see right through them? They’re certainly confronted enough. This causes them not to be trusted, and their social relationships are therefore not particularly stable. Telling whoppers is a self-destructive habit.

The thing I find most interesting about these people is that even when you catch them in their lies, when you hit them with the cold, hard facts, just as with Trump’s political base, they still will not change their stance. For example, one coworker claimed to have several masters degrees from a variety of Ivy League institutions. I looked up a few of the degrees in question, and these particular degree types were not offered by those schools. Ever. Showing him this irrefutable evidence did not even make him blink.

Their lies always seem to fit into several general categories.

  • One-upmanship. If you happen to mention that you’ve been to Spain, the pathological liar will have lived there. For years. During the civil war. And wrote a best-selling novel about his friendship with Franco.

  • Physical Prowess. Pathological liars can beat up every man in the bar and walk away without a scratch. They can also lift cars off of crushed orphans. Don’t even get me started about their sexual conquests.

  • Amazing Possessions. One coworker, who lived in a trailer with his mother, said he had an original Van Gogh hanging in his living room. He could never produce a photograph of it, though. And when in financial dire straits, he couldn’t ever seem to find a buyer for it.

  • Related to Fame. If you admire Barbra Streisand, the pathological liar will be her second cousin. Or he’ll have had dinner at Jacques Cousteau’s house. Or he’ll be in regular e-mail contact with Matthew Broderick.

  • Amazing Survival Skills. A coworker once told me that a tractor once rolled down a hill and crushed him beneath its wheels. He was able to extricate himself, though, and crawl 5 miles to civilization to get help. He then spent 6 months in a coma.

  • Success. It seems that these liars are always recognized by one and all for their superior intelligence, and often receive the highest awards. They also are promoted at young ages, and only make the best investments. And yet they aren’t any further ahead in life than the rest of us.

  • Generosity. “For Valentine’s Day last year, I gave my wife 60 dozen roses.” Yeah. Sure you did. And you support a thousand famine victims, too.

  • Victimhood. Perhaps the most insidious category for the pathological liar is that of placing themselves in the roll of victim. This is when these liars cross over to becoming con artists, because people who don’t know them well are naturally trusting and tempted to help. One coworker said he was living in a trailer in Florida without air conditioning and had no food. A friend drove 25 miles to his house with 6 bags of groceries, only to find that his cupboards were full to overflowing, and his air conditioning was on so high she could practically see her own breath. Another friend gave this same man a car. He was also the healthiest lung cancer sufferer I’ve ever seen. He never went to a doctor. He’s still out there somewhere, conning more people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Barbra Streisand has second cousins. There have to be a few truths mixed in with all those lies. But what are the odds? How many of us can consistently boast of both quality and quantity? Not me. That’s for sure.

The only theory I have is that these people don’t think they’re special enough without all these outlandish embellishments. They think they will only be liked if they improve upon their boring little lives, when in fact this isolates them even more. It makes them the victim of ridicule and the butt of jokes.

That, or they believe all their own fantasies and are too far gone to get back to the real world.

Either way, how very sad. Sad for them, and even sadder for those who get caught in their web of lies.


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Our Honor System

If Donald Trump has taught us nothing else, it’s that our political/socioeconomic system does not have our best interests at heart. I mean, those of us who were the least bit politically savvy prior to his being elected already knew that, sort of. But did we know it, know it? Judging from the perpetual state of shock we all have been in during the length of his travesty administration, I’d say no.

Even at the very worst of times, most of us have been relatively content operating on the honor system. It reminds me of the honey dealer I used to drive past when I was out and about in rural Florida. She would leave jars of honey on shelves by the roadside, and a jar to put your money in. From the looks of it, she’d leave that money sitting in the jar for days on end. There would have been nothing to stop someone from helping themselves to the money as well as the honey, but it seemed to work for her. And if there’s something that’s working, why bother to change?

I must admit that I participated in this honey of a system a time or two. The honey was worth having. It was easy and convenient, too. No need for idle chit chat. Just drive up, grab my honey, drop my money, and off I’d go.

It was all so fragile. It would only take one greedy asshole to ruin that system. I wonder if she is still using it.

Since this nation’s founding, we have all been naively trusting that that one asshole wouldn’t come along and muck it all up. And we’ve had a few assholes. (Nixon springs to mind.) But instead of making the system more safe as a result (even a bolted down locked box with a slot in it would have been an upgrade at the honey stand), we simply kept raising the bar of acceptable douche-baggery, so that we could keep things easy and convenient.

And now here we are, fighting over the pennies and the few drops of honey that are left. Naivete may be easy and convenient, but we don’t have that luxury anymore.


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I am very confused by people who don’t say what they mean and mean what they say. That seems to be the case with a lot of people here in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s why I’ll probably always feel like a stranger in a strange land as long as I live here. I prefer straight shooters.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Seattle area. I just seem to spend a lot of time befuddled by its residents.

But it’s not as if Seattleites have cornered the market on such behavior. As a matter of fact, it should feel quite normal to me. My mother was the poster child for obfuscation. She would do anything, absolutely anything, to avoid confrontation.

For example, when I was about 6 years old, she bought me a pair of Keds tennis shoes. I was a creative and precocious child, so my solution to this boring white expanse of canvas was to take a magic marker and write “dirty” words all over them. (At that age, it was probably words like “poop” or “doofus” or something.)

I was proud of those shoes. By wearing them, I felt like I was pushing the envelope. Living on the edge. I thought I was being rebellious and cool.

Needless to say, my mother was less enthusiastic about them. But rather than say, “Oh, hell no! You are not wearing those shoes in public!” she simply gritted her teeth and let me wear them, rather than enduring the tantrum that most likely would have ensued. (I must admit that I was a brat.)

Then one day, we were leaving a grocery store, and as I got into the back seat, one of my shoes fell off in the parking lot. I said, “Mommy, wait! My shoe fell off!”

She must have thought she had died and gone to heaven. She accelerated. She said, “Sorry, honey. I can’t stop. There are too many cars behind me.”

“Well, then pull over there, and I’ll run back and get it.”

“We’re in a hurry.”

“I’ll run.”

“Too late. We’re on the street now.”

I cried in frustration and confusion as I looked out the rear window, watching my beloved shoe get smaller in the distance.

From an adult perspective, I think my mother was being spineless in this instance. She missed a teaching moment when I first created those awful shoes. She could have talked to me about the use of words, and how they can hurt or offend some people. She could have talked about common courtesy. She could have reinforced some much-needed and ultimately comforting boundaries. We could have sat down together and covered those words over with colorful flowers or something.

Most of all, she could have avoided having me think that the adults in my life are strange, unpredictable, and incomprehensible. Those are scary thoughts when you’re a kid. Instead, she took the easy way out.

Oh, I could tell you a thousand stories about how I came to feel as though the inmates were running the asylum in my household. I spent most of my youth wading through lies and excuses and pure fantasies. The sands were constantly shifting beneath my feet.

This kind of behavior made me prize integrity and honesty and safety and trust above all other things, simply because I didn’t experience those qualities very much. I longed for a world that made sense.

That’s why I say what I mean and I mean what I say. You can count on that. I don’t ever want someone to be confused by me. I hate that feeling of being misunderstood, not only because it hurts on my end, but also because I know how baffling it is for others. I lived it.

So just say I can’t have the damned shoes, already. It will only be awkward for a second. And I’ll respect you a lot more.


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Trust Your Instincts

Back when I was in college the first time, I was renting the top floor of a Victorian house just a few blocks away from campus. It had two bedrooms, so I decided to look for a roommate to split expenses. Based on the advice of a friend, I settled on a young, outgoing, very upbeat girl. My friend knew me for the quiet homebody that I was, and she said that someone that outgoing would probably never be home, and that would suit me perfectly.

Thus began one of the worst roommate experiences of my life.

She was, indeed, a social butterfly, but she’d often bring that back home with her, and she wasn’t a very discriminating person. When I tripped over the scruffy older man sleeping in my hallway and I asked her who it was, she said she didn’t know his name. She had met him the night before and he needed a place to crash. She didn’t think I’d mind.

Other times, I’d come home from work and find the apartment full of giggling girls who were helping themselves to my groceries. These same girls often blew the fuses in the house because, for some reason, they all seemed to come equipped with hair dryers, and insisted on using them simultaneously, as one does, apparently, before a night on the town.

She also ran up the phone bill so high that the phone company started billing us every two weeks rather than monthly, and she was racking up late fees.

Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told her she’d have to find someplace else to live. I decided that this would be my last roommate ever. But friends told me I should try again. Think of the money I’d save! So, in this time before internet, I reluctantly posted a note on the campus bulletin board.

A guy responded. He was a student whom I’d never met. I hadn’t really specified a gender preference, but this made me mildly uncomfortable. But it was separate bedrooms, after all, so I figured I’d at least talk to him.

When he came over, he brought another friend. And they were big. I got this really uncomfortable vibe from both of them. They felt dangerous. He said he needed an answer right that very second, but I told him I’d have to think about it. He tried to intimidate me. If he was that bad on a first meeting, I couldn’t imagine what living with him would be like. So I trusted my instincts and said no.

The next day there was an anonymous note in my campus mailbox. “I’m going to kill you,” it said. My blood ran cold.

I took it to the Dean of students, and he looked at that guy’s student records, and the handwriting matched. He also said that the reason this guy was looking for a place to live in such a hurry was that he had been kicked out of the dormitory for destruction of property. The Dean had a little chat with him, and I never heard from him again.

I guess the moral of the story is that getting advice from friends is nice, but always, always trust your instincts.

I haven’t lived with anyone unless we were in a romantic relationship since that day. Unless you count my dogs. They’re excellent roommates.


Trust me. You’ll want a copy of this book.