Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What It's Like

In my last post, I talked about how the topic of what it's like living with someone who has Asperger's has come up a lot. But what I didn't say was what it's like.

If anyone's been reading me for any length of time, they've been exposed to many of my "hunky rumblings." And most of those rumblings came from something he did that was Asperger's related. However, I don't often say that. Instead I vent and grumble and rant and rage via the keyboard.

Living with Todd isn't always easy. His psychotherapist asked me, "Do you feel as if sometimes you live with Todd and sometimes live with Asperger's?" The answer is no. I feel I live with Todd, who has a few (okay, maybe quite a few) quirky and sometimes maddening characteristics due to Asperger's. However, I never really separate the two.

Todd says that's to my credit, but sometimes I think it's not. I believe that half the time my anger could be alleviated sooner if I would just take a few minutes out to take a deep breath or two and say "He's not doing that on purpose."

However, both Todd and I knew what the psychotherapist was getting at. Some people differentiate between the two, and I don't. At least, most of the time. Sure, I might write about it here, or talk about it with Todd, but IN THE MOMENT, I don't differentiate between living with Asperger's and living with Todd.

One of the Aspberger's moms (who is also a physician) asked me this weekend if I ever forget he has Asperger's, and if so, how does that affect my reactions, etc. I told her that I forget he has it most of the time. Todd is so high functioning, that I really don't think of him having "an affliction," if you will. However, that works both in his favor and out of it. I don't coddle him or baby him, however because he is so high functioning, when he has what I have come to call a pajama day (the days when he simply does not have the energy to shower, get dressed and get out of the house), my frustration level with him almost boils over. In those instances, it would probably be better for the both of us if I remembered and acknowledged that he has Asperger's. But I don't...I treat him as neurotypical, expecting him to have the energy and disappointed when he doesn't.

Despite our difficulties (which aren't all related to Asperger's, by the way), we have managed to be together for eight years. The Asperger's parents and the Asperger's therapist we were around this weekend thought that a huge success. And, I guess it is. However,the success doesn't belong to just one of us; it's a success that belongs to the both of us, and probably more so on Todd's side, as he tends to be the communicator and peacemaker in our relationship.

When I talked with the psychotherapist, I told him that not all of Todd's Asperger's related characteristics were negatives. The positives are that he thinks outside the box, therefore he can come up with the most amazingly simple solutions to seemingly complex problems. He also has no filters, which means that he doesn't play games (there was none of that "get her phone number and wait three days to call" stuff when we dated) and he doesn't lie. Now, he is the master of conversational manipulation to hide the truth, but he just simply cannot lie. And since I am now well-versed in conversational manipulation, I know when he's trying to pull something over on me, and a simple straightforward question will illicit normally both a laugh and the truth.

There are also some other pluses as well, and again most of those have to do with the fact that he has no filters, so I end up feeling emotionally safe with him. For example, when we used to watch Joan of Arcadia, it wasn't unusual for both of us to be in tears at the end of an episode. He didn't feel a macho need to hide it, and he also never felt a need to belittle me for shedding a tear or two or three after an eppy.

Sure, there are times I think life would be so much easier for the both of us if he didn't have Asperger's. Yet, on the other hand, he is uniquely Todd, and in the end, that is part of his charm.

Living With Asperger's

Lately, the topic of what it's like for me to live with someone with Asperger's has come up a lot. Hunky's been hounding me since June to visit with his psychotherapist, so I could give him the low down on what it's like for me to live with someone with Asperger's. And, since I no longer have the "can't, I have to work" excuse, I went in last Thursday.

I really did not want to do this. I think I felt it would be like telling tales out of school. However, after a few minutes of reservations, hunky's psychotherapist got me to spill the beans. I spilled for so long, I took up the whole hour.

That's a lot of spilling. And I didn't even tell everything I wanted to.

Then, through several associations of his own, hunky was invited to be a, as he puts it, "talking zoo exhibit" this weekend down in Carnelian Bay. A therapist there that works with kids with Asperger's had a parent-child event at a local mini-golf place and thought it would be good for the parents to talk to Todd to find out how he coped with Asperger's growing up, and how it affects him now as an adult.

I went with him.

It was quite interesting. The parents and therapist couldn't have been nicer. They asked Todd intelligent questions. He was able to respond in such a way that I believe each parent went away feeling as if their kids were going to end up just fine (but not without struggles).

A few of the women had questions for me as well. Some having to do with our relationship longevity, and others about what it's like for me to live with an adult that has Asperger's.

The therapist treated us to lunch with the group. One kid, who for some odd reason I felt endeared to, actually approached Todd and asked him a few questions, too. When we finally left (we were the absolute last ones to leave, because so many people had questions for Todd), I could tell Todd, though tired, felt good about the whole exchange.

We talked about it in the car while riding back home. See, when Todd was a kid, Asperger's was so new on the spectrum that it wasn't ever considered by any of his doctors or therapists. It really is a fairly new diagnosis, so Todd had to deal with misdiagnosis year after year after year. One plus the parents we met have is that they have the (hopefully) right diagnosis, so now they can get their kids on the appropriate therapeutic tracks.

Todd felt that the parents were all positive, something he hasn't come across in many of the Asperger's groups he belongs to. Of course, we both noted that these particular parents were all fairly wealthy, so money probably plays a part in their hopefulness (i.e., they can afford to get their children into the types of schools they need and can get them the therapeutic help they need).

The day was a loooooooooong one, but I felt very a very rewarding one for Todd. He felt useful and helpful, and I think it put him one more step forward in the advocacy work he's been doing for Asperger's.

Ramblings From An Out-of-Work Loner

So, I've been out of a job for almost a full month now. I'm not too worried; my original plan was to take the month of August off, to only be interrupted by a really great job offer.

Not to worry (I guess): There have been no really great job offers. Actually, no job offers at all.

And there's the pisser.

I have applied for quite a few - all of which I was amply qualified for - reminding me again of how that first year in Reno was for me. No job. No glimmer of a job...it was awful.

This time, though, I am prepared to visit every damn temp agency in town. I'm sure that once I do that, I will start working. I will admit, though, it's much more satisfying to find my own job.

This month has been awfully busy, considering I haven't been working. First there was the "get out of the house now, dammit" vacation, almost forcibly imposed on me by hunky, Then there were the "since you're here anyway" outings with hunky, and a few surprise outings as well.

Throw in a few afternoon naps, trips to Savers, errand runs, bill paying, classes, magical workings and hangovers (just kidding about the hangovers), August has been a rather busy month.

I am still occasionally haunted by dreams of Acme and Acme personnel. Thank goodness they aren't as frequent, or I'd have to kill myself with a hangover.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Days of Wine and Brownies

After visiting with my folks, I spent four nights, five days in Carmel. My original plan was to go to Santa Cruz (which always seems to be a healing place for me), but my inner voice told me it wasn't the right place to stay this time. And, after doing a search for hotel rooms and coming up blank, the city of Carmel came to mind.

I hadn't been to Carmel in years. But, I remember the beach as being quite pleasing and an easy walk from many of the downtown hotels. So, I decided that Carmel was the place to go.

My first choice was to stay at the Cypress Inn, Doris Day's tony hotel. However, the cheaper rooms were unavailable and the last two rooms went for $245 and $295 a night...way too steep for me. So, I decided that I'd just have afternoon tea there and find someplace else.

The someplace else was Best Western Carmel Bay View Inn. I got a special rate, and best of all, it was located about five blocks away from the beach. Plus, there was free parking, which is not so easy to find in Carmel. I was sold.

Sunday afternoon, I headed down to Carmel. I ran into a bit of traffic due to a car accident, but still managed to make pretty good time. I checked in, parked, and made my way to my room. It was PERFECT. I had no one above me (always a plus), and the room had a gas fireplace for the cool Carmel nights. After settling in, I looked for a place to eat.

Strangely, after walking around downtown Carmel for almost an hour, I found a place almost directly across from the hotel room. The reason I hadn't seen it earlier was because the tree-lined center street divider hid the sign, so when I left the hotel, I didn't see it. And since I walked down to the crosswalk, I totally missed it.

The place was great. I was able to snag a table outside (something hunky never likes to do), have a glass of wine and just enjoy the tree-filled courtyard. When I got back to the room, Lifetime kept me company until I fell asleep.

The next day, I got up early and explored the town. I walked all over, even checking out the residential neighborhoods to look at the cute beach town houses. I didn't have lunch, because I had reservations for afternoon tea at the Cypress Inn.

Tea at the Cypress Inn was both delightful and disappointing. Delightful, because I was able to sit in the beautiful courtyard during a pleasantly sunny afternoon. Disappointing, because there was no tea menu to choose from; therefore, there was no control over my menu choices. Two of the tea sandwiches were tomato and cream cheese; I can't have tomato, and it took me forever to get the waitress' attention so I could get two replacement egg salad sandwiches. I was also looking forward to splurging on tea dessert, however that was three hard cookies (the kind that comes in tins), so I left them and opted to get dessert somewhere else later. The scone, however, was probably the most delicious scone I've ever had. And the tea (Vanilla Bean) was wonderful as well.

After tea, I walked around town looking for a bakery for my much-anticipated dessert. Since Atkins, I have completely lost my sweet tooth, yet I was hoping to find a piece of cheesecake or something similar to enjoy.

I passed a bakery that had beautiful frosted brownies in the window. The brownies were topped with mocha-chips. They called out to me. So, I went inside the bakery, and snagged the very last brownie and brought it "home."

Once back at the room, I poured myself a glass of wine to have with the brownie. I wasn't quite sure if I'd enjoy it...while it was beautiful and big, my lack of a sweet tooth worried me.

I needn't have worried; the brownie was delicious.

After that, I ended up buying one of those brownies every day I was in town. Atkins shmatkins...I was on vacation and brownies (with the requisite glass of red wine) was going to be my splurge. Plus, I reasoned with myself, as much walking as I did every day, I am sure I walked those babies off my hips.

I visited the beach every day, wearing a bathing suit I had initially bought for my first trip with Acme Consulting Company. Chris had told me to make sure to bring a suit with me as we would have some time to hang out at the pool. So, I bought a flattering one-piece suit, but ended up never getting brave enough to wear it around my co-workers. (Flattering as it is, it still doesn't hide my cellulite, which loves to come out and play at the most inopportune times.)

Being in Carmel was so restorative that I found I couldn't leave on the day I was supposed to. So, I called Todd and asked if he minded if I stayed an extra day. He said while he missed me, he saw no problem with me staying longer. The hotel room was not booked, so I was able to retain it for an extra night at the same discounted rate.

On the way down and back, I listened to the audiobook Miss Julia's School of Beauty, which I also found relaxing. Jumping around radio stations, constantly barraged by commercials is not at all relaxing. But an enjoyable, fluffy audiobook just added to my relaxation.

And now I'm back...and still dreaming about Acme. Will the torture ever end?


Since I quit my job, I have dreamed about it almost every night since. There have only been three nights that I haven't dreamed about my job, and that worries me. Not the three nights without work-related dreams, but the fact that I've had SO MANY nights with work-related dreams.

In almost all of them (except for the one I had last night), I've dreamed that they took me back. Todd asked me if that was because I want to go back, or I wish they wanted me back. I said neither; I think that subconsciously, I think I made a mistake.

My dream last night indicated that I did the right thing, though. Yes, they had taken me back (or perhaps I hadn't yet quit). But, they had taken away all the nice things about my job, including a computer monitor, which they had given to Michelle. When they attempted to do one more crappy thing, I just up and left like I did in real life.

I honestly think I did the right thing by leaving, but without a back up plan in place, I feel like I'm floundering.

Which brings me to my online absence...hunky told me he was tired of me "moping" around the house, and asked me to please leave. See, I normally visit my folks the second Saturday of every month. This month, though, I was hesitating on when to leave, if I should leave, etc. Hunky said "Please...leave! I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but I really need some time away."

After the initial shock of having him ask me to leave, I realized in a way, he was right. Though I sincerely believe I haven't been moping, I think time away was needed. So, I made the plans to visit my folks as planned, and then made reservations at a hotel in Carmel to have a mini-vacation at the beach.

As soon as hunky discovered I was going to Carmel, he said "Hey, that sounds like fun. Mind if I join you?" Um, I thought he wanted some distance...so I said "no." Because, see, by then I'd already had a plan of sorts in place for my time off.

The trip was nice, and I even extended it while I was down there. Now I'm back, and the reality of not having a job has hit me smack in the face again. I have done some job magic, but it has yet to manifest itself in a real way. I am looking, though, and have faith that something will happen soon.

Until then, I hope I stop having dreams about going back to Acme. Truth is, I wasn't happy there, and even if they would take me back (and of course they wouldn't), I wouldn't want to go back there for all the money in the world. (Although the three-day weekends were awfully nice...)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's Over

So, ignoring everyone's good advice (and I got some great advice), hunky and I wrote up a letter of resignation last night. After my Risting class, I went to work, cleaned out my desk, and left the letter.

You know you want to read the letter! It's pretty good, if I do say so myself (okay, well, hunky wrote most of it):

Dear Acme Management:

I am writing to you today to officially tender my resignation from Acme Consulting Company effective Wednesday, August 2, 2006.

There was a time that I thought I would never leave such a great company as Acme, but things have changed. I now feel that I need to look for brighter opportunities elsewhere. However because I’ve invested such a great deal of time and energy in Acme, I’d like to leave you with a few constructive thoughts.

In no particular order, I’d like to suggest that you consider the following issues with future employees:

• Growth Opportunities: The position of Communications Manager lacks opportunities for significant career growth. Promises were made regarding the advancement opportunities at Acme, but management did not take an active role in expanding my responsibilities within the company, or provide me with career-enhancing training and education. The lack of solid mentorship was a large factor in my decision to resign, and will doubtless be a problem for others who may hold the role in future.

• Workplace Culture: The culture at Acme focuses too much on issues which are not work-related. Making communication styles more important than productivity is inappropriate. The focus of any job should be on adding value to the company by fulfilling one’s job description, and meeting measurable management objectives.

• Measurable Goals: In many cases, Chris and Dennis assign tasks with no guidance or measurable objectives. The goals are often implicit, rather than explicit. Objectives should be clearly stated upfront, and successful completion of objectives should be measurable.

• Employees’ Right to Privacy: Employees are entitled to a private life, and attempts to regulate what people say outside of the workplace — especially in cases which do not involve trade secrets, proprietary information, or company identification — are protected speech. It is both inappropriate, and possibly actionable, for a company to try to regulate an employee’s private life. It is also inappropriate for employees to share non-work related information with management, especially with the intention of creating workplace friction (i.e. Michelle bringing my personal weblog to management’s attention; contrary to statements made by Chris, I did not personally provide Michelle or anyone else in the office with the website address, as my intention was to express myself and not to cause any unpleasantness).

• Counseling Sessions: If and when it is necessary to counsel employees about workplace issues, you may want to spend more time focusing on creating strategies which lead to measurable success. Pointing out problems, especially in subjective areas such as interpersonal dynamics, without offering solutions or attempting to problem-solve, is destructive to morale.

In closing, I really no longer feel welcome at Acme and any opportunities I may have had in the past are no longer available, therefore it’s time for me to move on. I wish you all the very best of luck and hope you don’t repeat the same mistakes with future employees.

Thanks again for everything.



It is finished. Hunky did me a solid, and dropped the keys off at the office and picked up my check.

Now I'm jobless and scared, but at least I'm no longer miserable and scared.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Next Step

Just as I sat down to update my journal, the phone rang. I almost answered it, but seeing as I called the office this morning to leave the message that I wasn't coming in, I decided against it.

Good thing, as it was Chris. She said,"PJ, since you called in and didn't say you were ill, I believe we need to talk today. You know the number. Give me a call."


I wish Todd was awake right now, because I think I need his logical, rational input as to what my next step should be.

I am not calling. I'm not ready to talk. In fact, I'm not even ready to go back.

Which leads me to the reason why I sat down to write this entry in the first place. What is my next step?

I couldn't sleep last night. I woke up at 1 a.m., my stomach tied up in knots. After tossing and turning for about an hour, I finally got out of bed and went into my office. I re-read my entry, the replies, and just tried to listen to my inner voice. Unfortunately, that inner voice is drowned out by the sound of my fear.

I've NEVER been fired from a job before. I think, though, I just might be about to be fired. Yesterday, for not being a team player. Today for not coming in.

Well. What's next? Will I be able to temp without a recent job reference? Will I land on my feet after a situation like this? How do people do it? People that have gotten fired, that is.

I sincerely believe the ONLY reason I wasn't fired yesterday was because both Chris and Dennis aren't prepared to have an empty writer's slot at work. Chris doesn't want to do the writing, and neither does Dennis. They know that Michelle can fill my role completely, except for the writing. I believe the plan was to reprimand me, and keep me around while they silently tried to find a writer to fill my role. Once found, I would be gone.

In other words, yesterday or tomorrow, it's going to happen.

I guess it's time for me to be PROACTIVE and do something...but honestly, I'm not sure what that something is. Update my resume, of course. Temp agencies? Perhaps.

I'm just not sure how to answer the question "Why did you leave your last job?"