bookmark_border“The Sounds of Spring” – a poem by me

A police car’s siren cuts through the early morning fog;
The song of leaf blowers heralds the start of a new day.
Trucks of different shapes and colors,
Carrying oil, lumber, trash, debris,
Rumble through the intersection.
At the pond, the clanging of hammers
Mingles with the wooshing of the fountain
And the cheerful chirping of birds
Perched in the blooming pink and white trees overhead.
A friendly brown duck quacks as she waddles along.

bookmark_borderNew Confederate monument in Higgston, Georgia!

Fantastic news: a new Confederate monument is being built in Higgston, Georgia!

The Robert A. Toombs Camp #932 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is leading the construction of what they describe as “a grand monument and memorial park honoring our ancestors.” It will be the first new Confederate monument in Georgia in almost 100 years!

“In a society of constant attacks on our heritage this is a momentous undertaking for all involved,” writes Camp #932.

To raise money for the project, they are selling bricks for $60. The bricks will be placed in the plaza around the statue and can be engraved with up to three lines of text honoring you, your ancestor(s), or anyone.

Click the link below for the full letter from Camp #932, including the brick order form and a small picture of what the statue will look like.

News like this is so important, because it gives me hope for the future during a time where that is often in short supply.

Source: Monuments Across Dixie Facebook post

bookmark_borderEmbracing imperfection

As a person on the autism spectrum, I have a tendency to be a perfectionist. I tend to have a picture in my head of how the day is going to go, and tend to become very upset if things do not go according to how I pictured them. I struggle with being flexible, and tend to feel that if things do not go perfectly, then everything is a disaster and the day is ruined.

(Lately I had numerous instances of things getting messed up and not going according to plan, which I wrote about here.)

A couple days ago, however, I had some success with embracing imperfection. 

It was a warm and sunny morning, and I decided to take a walk around the pond near my house. The trees were still blooming with beautiful white and pink flowers. After my camera had inexplicably decided not to work, I had done some troubleshooting, and I thought that I had fixed the problem. So I brought it along to take photos. Imagine my shock and dismay when, again, the shutter button refused to work, in exactly the same way it had earlier! I angrily trudged home and sulked around. But then, a little while later, I decided to return to the pond and take pictures with my phone. 

Although I much prefer to use a “real” camera, it was better than nothing.

I enjoyed being outside in the beautiful weather and looking at the trees, flowers, ducks, geese, and trucks rumbling to and from the construction site at the top of the hill. 

Farther away from my house, there is a park with a World War I memorial, which is decorated with different flowers depending on the season. I knew from seeing the park in passing that there were currently bright yellow daffodils and beautiful tulips planted there, but I hadn’t had time to actually stop and get close-up to take photos. A sufficient amount of time had gone by that I figured the daffodils would be wilted and sad-looking. But after my walk around the pond, I had extra time, so I decided to make the walk to the park anyways. To my surprise, the flowers, even though they weren’t in absolutely pristine condition, still looked beautiful.

And even though I was stuck using my phone as opposed to my “real” camera, I still got some pretty good photos. 

The moral of the story: An imperfect day can still be a good one. “Plan B” is not as good as “Plan A,” but it is better than nothing, and it is certainly better than giving up on the day entirely. 

bookmark_borderThe return of the bills whose sole purpose is to hurt people as badly as possible…

I could not believe my eyes when I saw this. The Virginia bills whose sole purpose is to hurt people as badly as possible are back. Governor Glenn Youngkin has seven days in which to either veto or sign them.

I heard about these bills through the social media posts of people / organizations who are fighting against them, and have not read any coverage of them in the news media, but the mere thought of what the news articles might be saying about them makes me sick to my stomach. The Instagram post linked above says, “the left is pushing hard for [Youngkin] to sign these bills.” The idea that anyone would push for these bills is absolutely sickening, and it makes me sick to my stomach to imagine the arguments that proponents might be making in favor of them.

I cannot wrap my head around why someone would think that either of these bills is a good idea and should be enacted into law, particularly after the indescribably horrible atrocities that have been committed unendingly and relentlessly over the past four years. It boggles my mind to think that anyone would favor inflicting additional suffering on people who have already been tortured by the infliction of unbearable, indescribable, relentless pain. “Left” isn’t even the correct term for someone who supports these bills, in my opinion. The desire to make the world as bad a place as possible, and to inflict the maximum possible amount of pain on other people, can’t accurately be categorized as a political ideology at all. A person who considers this to be a worthy goal, which must be the case for anyone who supports bills HB 812 and SB 517, is so filled with brutality, cruelty, meanness, and nastiness, and so completely devoid of morality and devoid of a soul, that such a person doesn’t even deserve to be categorized as a person at all.

“I’m so sick of this,” wrote one commenter on the Instagram post.

“Unbelievable,” wrote another. “I spent 4 years in Virginia and I loved it there. It’s been a shame to see legislation like this, the desecration/removal of monuments, etc..”

Amen. My thoughts are the same as these comments, but multiplied by 100.

I am so incredibly sick of things like bills HB 812 and SB 517. So, so incredibly sick of it. More sick of it than I ever thought it was possible for a human being to be sick of anything. My soul has been beaten down by the brutal, cruel, mean-spirited nastiness that is bills HB 812 and SB 517. Brutal, cruel, mean-spirited nastiness that just keeps occurring again and again, relentlessly. Where the people who hold 100% of the power just keep hurting the people who hold no power, as badly as they possibly can. For no other reason than inflicting pain and suffering. As if inflicting pain and suffering on people is somehow noble, or honorable, or morally good. I am so incredibly sick of it that there are no words to convey the extent of my exhaustion. It is soul-crushing.

To say that legislation like this, and desecration/removal of monuments, are a shame is an understatement. Legislation like this, and desecration/removal of monuments, completely defeat the purpose of Virginia. They completely defeat the purpose of the US. They completely defeat the purpose of life, because they erase from the world the very things that make life worth living.

The actions that have been committed, and that continue to be committed, are absolutely soul-crushing. People who support bills HB 812 and SB 517, and/or any policies even remotely like them, have inflicted indescribable agony. My soul is sick, aching, and in pain.

This is the email that I sent to Governor Youngkin about these bills:

Dear Governor Youngkin:
I am writing to express my opposition to bills HB 812 and SB 517. In my opinion, these bills are mean-spirited, destructive, hurtful, and without any redeeming value. I am on the autism spectrum, and my special interest is history. I really admire Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee, and Confederate history is extremely important to me. I have been severely hurt by the attacks on history and statues that have taken place over the past few years, and these bills are just a continuation of the same attacks. It is extremely upsetting to me that these bills have a chance of becoming law. I feel that these bills have no purpose other than hurting people who love Confederate history, such as myself. I have already suffered tremendous pain due to the relentless and cruel attacks on Confederate history and statues, and inflicting additional pain on people like me, as bills HB 812 and SB 517 would do, is the absolute last thing anyone needs.
Therefore, I respectfully urge you to please, please veto these mean-spirited and hurtful bills.

bookmark_borderA week with too many things going wrong

During the past week or so, too many things have been going wrong. Too many mistakes, fails, mishaps, fiascos. None of the things are particularly serious in themselves, but combined, they feel like an avalanche, a cascade, a tidal wave of badness.

It started with a UPS fiasco. I bought a retired American Girl doll named Caroline from an Amazon seller, but the UPS driver could not find my house. I received an email prompting me to go to the UPS website to either confirm or correct my address, and I confirmed that I had entered my address correctly. The same exact thing, however, happened again the following day. I emailed UPS to give them directions to my house, but the same thing happened yet again! So I called them (something that is very difficult for me due to my shyness). The driver was finally able to find my house, but not until I had already left for work (I work afternoons / evenings). This would be fine, except for the fact that a signature was required for the delivery. So UPS informed me that they were sending my package to a convenience store that doubles as a UPS access point. I figured, therefore, that I would be able pick up my package up the next day before work, but it didn’t actually get to the convenience store until late afternoon. So I had to wait until the day after that. On that day, as I was about to leave for the convenience store, my mom texted, much earlier than I was anticipating, to let me know that she was ready to meet for lunch before work. So I had to wait another day. Finally, I made it to the convenience store and excitedly told the cashier I was there to pick up a UPS package. She asked for my ID, which, to my dismay, I realized I did not have. (I had brought my credit card, debit card, and subway pass, just in case I might need them, but it didn’t occur to me to bring my license.) Because an ID was required to pick up my package, I returned home empty-handed, having made the 40-minute round trip walk for nothing.

(Wow, that paragraph turned out to be really long!)

The fiascos continued from that point, with the following being a few examples:

  • When I went to Starbucks before work, they got my drink wrong, giving me a smaller size than what I had paid for. I brought it back (difficult for me due to my shyness) and they got it wrong again!
  • My neighbor called me, texted me, and then began banging on my door all while I was in the middle of a therapy appointment via zoom. I was having tree work done in my yard, and feared that something seriously bad had happened, such as a tree falling on my neighbor’s house and destroying it. I didn’t know whether to continue with the therapy appointment or to tell my therapist that an emergency was happening and that I had to go. I opted for the first option, but was so distracted that I wasn’t able to absorb anything my therapist was saying. It turned out that my neighbor’s issue was not urgent or time-sensitive at all.
  • I was asked to work an overnight shift, and my parents and I made plans to have dinner at a nearby restaurant before work, something that I really enjoy but don’t often get to do because I usually work at dinnertime. I packed a bag of the things that I would need for work and put it in the trunk of my mom’s car. Before dinner, I worked out on my parents’ exercise bike (which I use sometimes because I don’t own one myself). We got into my dad’s car, drove to the restaurant, and parked outside it. I opened the trunk and was appalled to find no bag inside. Neither my parents nor I put two and two together to realize that because the car that was used to drive from my house to my parents’ house was a different car than the one used to drive from my parents’ house to the restaurant, I would need to move my bag from one trunk to the other. I ended up in tears and feeling so sick that I was unable to eat anything, and my dad ended up having to drive back to the house to get the bag.
  • At work, I was assigned a block of time to collect shopping carts in the parking lot, but I didn’t, because I didn’t know I was supposed to do that during that block of time. (I really enjoy collecting shopping carts too; I just completely forgot that I was supposed to do it.)
  • I decided to walk around the pond near my house and take photos of the pretty trees, because the white and pink flowers were beginning to bloom and looked really beautiful. When I reached the beautiful trees, I took my camera out of my purse, turned it on, composed the shot, and pushed the shutter button. Nothing happened. I pressed the shutter again and again, but no matter how hard I tried, my camera was unable to take photos.
  • An extremely embarrassing incident happened at work, in which I got one customer confused with another and said something to him that made absolutely no sense, because I thought he was the other customer.

None of these things are the end of the world, exactly, but with so many of them happening within a relatively short amount of time, I am stressed, angry with myself, and filled with self-doubt. My life has been filled recently with one setback after another, and I haven’t been able to fully recover from each setback before the next one happens. I keep getting knocked off-balance, and there is no time to re-stabilize before I am knocked off balance again.

Some of these fiascos are just bad luck (e.g. Starbucks, my neighbor, my camera), while others (not bringing my license, failing to ensure that my bag was in the correct trunk, mixing up my work schedule, mixing up two customers) are arguably my fault.

The fact that I am on the autism spectrum relates to this string of fiascos in two ways: first because my brain is more likely to fail at certain types of tasks, and also because I tend to become more upset than the average person when a relatively minor fiasco happens.

I have a very high IQ, and my brain can do many things that the average person’s can’t. But I also have a disability, namely autism. Although I excel at math, reading comprehension, memorizing facts, and understanding complicated logical concepts, I struggle with things that most people consider to be “common sense.” I tend to forget / misplace / lose track of things; I tend to do badly with social interaction, which includes recognizing and remembering people; I tend in general to fail at things that others find simple.

I also tend to become completely unglued when an unexpected problem occurs.

As I exited the convenience store and walked, dazed, through the parking lot, I was overwhelmed with anger and frustration (at myself, not at the cashier, because the ID requirement logically makes sense). I could feel heat rushing through my body. It felt like the world was spinning around me and I was lost at sea without a paddle, buffeted about by the waves. Even though I knew logically that nothing disastrous had happened – there was nothing time-sensitive within the package, and I could go back and pick it up the following day – I was overwhelmed with emotional upset.

Similarly, the moment I discovered that my camera was inexplicably not working, I was filled with rage so strong that I wanted to kick the nearby wooden bench and smash it to pieces. As I repeatedly turned my camera off and back on again, scrolled through all the different menus trying to figure out what had caused the problem, and tried every possible combination of settings, a lump formed in my throat and tears came to my eyes. Despite knowing logically that I could take pictures with my phone instead, I was overwhelmed with emotional upset by the fact that I was expecting my camera to work the way that it usually does, and it didn’t do that.

The reason these types of things are so upsetting to me is because, as an autistic person, I start each day with a picture in my head of what is going to happen. I expect and need things to go according to this picture. When they fail to do so, my brain basically goes crazy.

In that moment outside the convenience store, all I could think about was that I had planned to pick up my package that day. Not the following day.

In that moment at the pond, all I could think about was that I had planned to walk around the pond and take pictures with my camera. Not with my phone.

I could not access logic in those moments, because I was so overwhelmed by the fact that things did not go according to the picture in my head. Knowing intellectually that the problem wasn’t a big deal didn’t make me feel any better. I couldn’t move on to alternative plans, such as picking up my package the next day or taking pictures with my phone, because my brain was stuck on the picture of how the day was supposed to go.

So over the past weeks I’ve been beating myself up, both about this series of fails and about my reaction to them. I know that I tend to lose track of simple things, so I use compensatory strategies such as setting reminders, using calendars and checklists, and double checking to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I know that I struggle with facial recognition, so I make a deliberate effort to remember people’s features, hats, and clothing items. I’ve been beating myself up about the fact that despite being aware of my weaknesses and taking measures to compensate for them, I still failed. And I know intellectually that picking up my package the next day and taking pictures with my phone are perfectly good options, so I’ve been beating myself up for emotionally falling to pieces over what are objectively minor setbacks.

I am generally perceived as being relatively “high-functioning” compared to other people on the spectrum, and other people with disabilities. I live by myself, I work full-time, I don’t go to a day program, and I don’t have a legal guardian or conservator. I take pride in these things and, quite frankly, want it to stay this way. It is important to me to live a life in which I move about freely and make my own decisions, as opposed to being supervised at all times and having my schedule and activities organized by someone else. I don’t want to be a burden, or a pain in the butt, to the people around me. I don’t want to be erupting in emotional outbursts, ruining dinner plans, requiring people to rescue me from crises, or disrupting people’s days with my needs. I want to be a competent person, both at my job and at the tasks that need to be done outside of work. I want to be a person who is calm, logical, and put-together. I want to be able to complete my activities of daily living independently. I don’t want to be dependent on others.

Weeks like this make me doubt myself – my own competence, my own capabilities, and my own ability to function in the world. Recently my new statues have arrived, something that I know intellectually is far more important than any of the fiascos that I’ve described. These past weeks should have been filled with joy and excitement, but instead they’ve been filled with emotional turmoil. Hopefully I will have a relatively fiasco-free stretch of days, and what I know intellectually to be true will also feel true emotionally.

bookmark_border“F*** your dead” – the atrocity done to the Lion of Atlanta

It’s been several years since the atrocity that was done to the Lion of Atlanta, but I saw this Instagram post about it recently, and I felt the need to share my thoughts.

“F*** your dead,” wrote the excuses for human beings who committed this atrocity. And of course, “BLM.” 

The excuses for human beings also crossed out the word “Confederate” from the phrase “unknown Confederate dead” on the monument. 


F*** anyone who differs from us in any way. F*** anyone who differs from the norm, from the majority.

Only our lives matter. No one else’s. No one’s feelings, perspective, or viewpoint matters, other than ours. 

Anyone who differs from us in any way needs to be erased from existence, as if they never lived at all.

Only bland, mundane people who conform to social norms and mindlessly comply with authority should be allowed to exist. 

The only people who deserve to be honored, memorialized, or respected are those who look and think like us.

Those are the attitudes of the excuses for human beings who committed the atrocity towards the Lion of Atlanta. 

And those attitudes are the antithesis of diversity, the antithesis of inclusion, the antithesis of tolerance. 

I say: 

F*** you, excuses for human beings who wrote these things.

F*** your contempt, hatred, and intolerance for anyone who differs from you in any way. 

F*** your bigotry.

F*** your authoritarianism.

You demonstrate that supporters of the BLM movement are the real bigots, the real racists. 

Our society should have unanimously and unequivocally condemned this movement the instant its slogan was found graffitied, alongside profane insults, on the Lion of Atlanta. 

Yet despicably, our society did the opposite. 

Society’s embrace of the movement responsible for this and countless similar atrocities is an injustice worse than words are able to convey; it is the worst injustice imaginable. 

bookmark_border“I’m going to re-create it just so that it can get melted down again”

You’re going to inflict excruciating pain on other people, just because they are different from you? Just because they are different from the majority?

You’re going to actively and deliberately harm people who are already worse off than you are?

You are going to take an action that has no purpose other than to express hatred for people who are different?

Why, exactly, do you consider that to be a good thing?

bookmark_border“The flag of traitors and losers”

“The flag of traitors.”

Yes, the flag of people who thought for themselves, and resisted authority, as opposed to practicing obedience, compliance, and mindless conformity.

I’m not sure why you consider that to be a bad thing.

“The flag of losers.”

Yes, the flag of people that you oppressed and harmed. That flag of people that you actively inflicted pain on, using your power, strength, and wealth. The flag of people whose land you invaded. The flag of people whose rights you violated. The flag of people that you forced to remain part of the same country against their will.

I’m not sure how that makes those people and their flag bad, and you somehow good.

The fact that you would call the Confederates “traitors” and “losers,” as if these things are insults, means that you are a bully, a bigot, a conformist, and an authoritarian.

The fact that the Confederates “lost” does not reflect badly on them. It reflects badly on you.

bookmark_borderAll lives matter, including mine

In our society, there are categories of people universally acknowledged as having suffered. There are certain experiences universally recognized as difficult.

Whenever a person falls into one of these categories, or goes through one of these experiences, everyone expresses empathy. Everyone rallies around them. People offer condolences, say how sorry they are, say that they can’t imagine how difficult it is to go through that experience. Everyone falls all over themselves in their eagerness to help, to support, to stand in solidarity.

My life, from the time I was a little kid, was difficult and painful. I’ve suffered enormously and experienced tremendous pain. But I don’t fall under any of the aforementioned categories of people. The things I’ve experienced are not recognized as difficult by our society.

Instead of rallying around me, instead of saying how sorry they are, people tell me that what I am going through is no big deal. They tell me to stop being so sensitive, to stop complaining. They tell me that it is for my own good, that everyone has to do things they don’t like, that I should have acted differently. They tell me that I am a jerk for being upset, or that I caused the situation and therefore have no one to blame but myself.

Other people’s suffering and pain are acknowledged. Mine are not.

In the eyes of society, I am a well-off, able-bodied person who ought to help, support, and sacrifice for the benefit of those who are struggling. For the benefit of those who are “less fortunate.” But in reality, I am the one who is struggling. I am the one who is less fortunate. And others should be helping, supporting, and rallying around me.

In the eyes of society, because I don’t fall into a category that is considered “oppressed” or “marginalized,” because my experiences don’t match up with society’s idea of hardship, I am considered “privileged.” But in reality, having one’s suffering and difficulties acknowledged is the most significant form of privilege that exists.

That’s why the things that have happened in our society since spring 2020 have been so devastating, infuriating, and enraging.

During that horrifying spring and summer, society collectively exploded with eagerness to acknowledge black and indigenous people’s suffering, even though these are categories of people whose suffering has always been acknowledged. In other words, society doubled down on the practice of acknowledging other people’s suffering while ignoring mine. This would be bad enough in itself. But this time, society decided to do something even more unfair and unjust than merely ignoring my suffering. This time, society’s acknowledgement of other people’s suffering took the form of actively destroying something that is very important to me – statues.

What has happened in our society since 2020 represents not only the failure to acknowledge my pain, but the active infliction of additional pain on me.

That is why the events of the past four years have been so horrible.

Whenever a statue is removed, a holiday canceled, a street or building renamed, society is saying that other people’s suffering matters and mine does not. And over the course of four years, this reprehensible message has spread to contaminate more and more of the world. What used to be parks, cities, squares, historic sites, cemeteries, have been transformed into monuments to the idea that other people’s pain should be acknowledged and mine should not. Society’s rejection of me is now inescapable. Countless places, things, events, institutions have been turned into sickening reminders, that before were innocuous. The grim results of the traumatic events are everywhere.

Perhaps if I had experienced a life that was more or less easy, in which my needs were generally met, I would support the BLM movement. Perhaps I would agree with the idea that I am “privileged.” Perhaps I would willingly check my privilege, educate myself, be a better ally, work to become actively anti-racist, and center and amplify the voices of those who are less fortunate than me. Perhaps I would post mindless platitudes on social media, and then go back to cooking perfect meals in my perfect house on a tree-lined street with my adorable kids and dog, like the people who unfriended me when I had the audacity to speak out against the statue genocide.

But I didn’t experience such a life. I experienced a life of difficulty and pain. And society’s failure to acknowledge the difficulty and pain was the most difficult and painful thing of all.

So I will fight vociferously against any movement or ideology that considers me “privileged.” I will not silence myself in order to elevate other voices. I will not advocate for others, when others do not advocate for me. I am not interested in educating myself about the horrors of slavery or racism or “settler colonialism” (whatever the heck that means) when others demonstrate no interest in learning about the horrors that I’ve experienced. And I will not sacrifice my needs and wants for the benefit of the less fortunate, because the people considered less fortunate than me in the eyes of society are, in reality, anything but.

This is why I support All Lives Matter. Because it’s not only black lives that matter. My life matters, too.

You might consider me an asshole. You might say that I have no empathy for others. You might even call me a psychopath.

If I am an asshole and a psychopath, then so be it. Why should I have empathy for others, when others do not have empathy for me? Only when society acknowledges my suffering and my pain, will I consider doing the same for others.

As our public spaces are transformed one after another into sickening monuments to the idea that other people’s pain should be acknowledged and mine should not… I have erected my own monuments. They are only 4 feet tall and are not located on publicly visible land. But they are everything to me. I love them more than anything else in the world. They are monuments to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Nathan Bedford Forrest. But they are also monuments to myself. They are monuments to the idea that my feelings matter, my thoughts matter, my perspective matters, and my pain deserves to be acknowledged. Through these statues, I take care of my favorite historical figures, celebrate them, honor them, fight for them. And in turn, they fight for me. They are my little army, standing guard outside my castle, my little world in which I matter.

bookmark_borderThe statue family expands…

On Tuesday, April 2, at about 9:30 p.m. a large black truck pulled into my driveway. Inside it were two new statues, coming to live with me. 

That’s right, two.

One of these statues was Robert E. Lee. This statue, I had been anticipating for a while. About a year ago, I paid the deposit for him, and over the course of the year I received pictures documenting the process of creating him, from sketch to clay model to molds to finished product. Watching my statue come into the world was such a cool experience. Once the finishing touches were complete, I put the delivery date on my calendar, and I was eagerly anticipating seeing my new statue in person.

Four days before Lee’s arrival, the company that makes the statues asked me if, by any chance, I might want a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest as well. This statue had been made at the same time as Lee, for a different person, but the original buyer had backed out. I thought it over for about 24 hours and, being me, said yes. 

So, wrapped in blankets inside the truck on that cold and drizzly night were two new statues: one that was made for me and one that I adopted. Forrest was closest to the door, and a little ways further inside the truck was Lee. The statues were lifted out of the truck and placed in their new home. 

Here is what they look like in daylight. In my opinion, they are the most beautiful sight imaginable. 

From left to right: 

General Robert E. Lee. He’s 4 ft tall, weighs 130 lbs, and is based on the statue that used to be in the state capitol building in Richmond, Virginia, as well as the one that used to be in Washington, D.C. He is one of a batch of 10 Lee statues that were made.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest. He is 4 ft tall, weighs 90 lbs, and is one of a batch of 5. Because he was a cavalry general, most statues depict him on horseback, and this is the first time a standing statue of Forrest has ever existed.

And of course… General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who has been with me for one and a half years now. He is happy to have some friends!

I am having some landscaping work done in the yard, which is why Stonewall is not in his usual spot. For now, the statues are hanging out in this gravelly area off to the side. The weather has been rainy and yucky for the statues’ first week in their new home. Hopefully they don’t mind it too much! Once the weather improves, I will get them set up in a prettier, more permanent way.

I love the statues and am so happy to have them here. They mean so much to me.