Month: June 2008

  • overload

    Long before I learned I'm aspie, I knew I had problems handling things.  I didn't know why.  I tried really hard to tough it out and could never understand or explain to people why I get crabby, or super introverted, or bizarre.  For a long time as a child I blamed it on other people being stupid, or places I went being boring.  As I got older I blamed it on culture molding the masses into something I felt rebellious against.  As I get older still I thought I'm the one to blame, but not because I'm a bad person.  I just figured I'm not a people person, or I'm not into whatever, or I don't have much in the way of patience.
    Turns out all that is completely wrong.
    I was born with my nervous system hard wired to be 'on' all the time.  No one ever knew this, of course.  I was obviously intelligent, but also obviously intolerant.  I was a difficult child, I was a difficult teen, and I am a difficult adult.  I ~try~ to enjoy things and have friends, but I fail miserably, and sooner or later I give in to the sinking feeling that I'm failing again, and I don't know what to do to fix it.
    Finding out I'm aspie was a relief and a half.  Well, it was also angsty, but it sure is nice to know the root of me being difficult.  It's all actually very simple.  It's not 'me' at all as a person that is the problem, it's the way my brain handles sensory input.
    From the moment I was born, lights, noises, odors, surprises, sudden change, new places, anything you can imagine, all went 100% into my brain.  Most people have a built in 'filter' that helps the brain switch tracks, or dull one function in favor of another.  For instance, ignoring a room full of people in order to have a conversation with a friend.
    I can't do that.  I can't turn off a room full of conversations.  I hear them all cutting in on the one I'm having and have to say "What?" many times.  I used to think I had a hearing problem, because I seemed unable to hear what a person next to me was saying, and then I learned it's more like an auditory processing problem.  If there is a lot going on, consonants get lost or jumbled up, and if someone talks too fast, I have to ask them to slow down and repeat themselves.  Some people react like I'm kinda dumb when I do that, but they don't know I have to focus really hard just to hear them over everything else going on in the background.  Given that I can speed read and retain technical info very easily, this seems backward, as if my brain is smart in one way and not in another.  But it has nothing to do with smart.  It's my nervous system pumping dozens of things into my brain all at once, and I don't have a shut off switch for what is irrelevant.
    I used to think I liked going to the mall, or to the movies, or shopping.  I also noticed other people used to really like my company until I became a real drag, and from there on I was unable to hide getting cranky or getting a headache.  Sometimes I'd be ok for awhile, other times it wouldn't take long for me to get a bad attitude.  And that's what we all thought it was, just a general bad attitude.  I would let my crankiness take me into griping about something, and then I got to be a drag.
    Over time I began to notice that simply being somewhere would make me sick.  Being in loud places full of people gives me migraines, and then I'd have to deal with the headache and nausea on top of trying to be social.  Driving at night wasn't really a problem as far as I could tell until I noticed that I got such bad tension headaches that I had to avoid night time driving.  Movie theaters became such a challenge that the only way I could get through a movie was by taking a muscle relaxer and a pain killer.  Having to stand in a long line at a store or sit for awhile in a hard chair in an office or school of any kind for meetings or events made me feel so bad that I almost wanted to get a hammer and smash things.
    After I learned I had Asperger's and that I go into what is called sensory overload, I started experimenting.  I went with Scott to a big home show, a huge room full of demonstration booths at the fairgrounds.  It was noisy and chaotic, wall to wall people, blaring lights from very high ceilings, and I think I lasted about 45 minutes before I got such a severe migraine that we had to leave.  It was that or I was ready to literally curl up into a ball and just lay on the floor.  Within an hour of leaving, the headache and nausea were nearly gone.  Since then I've noticed that I can do things to cut down on the overload.  I can wear dark glasses (which many people automatically assume means a black eye or being wasted), and I can put something in my ears to either muffle the noise or redirect it to something I can focus on, like familiar music that I can play over and over.  Certain rhythms automatically cut down on the overload immediately.
    I've had difficulties all my life with coworkers, sitting in church, driving long distances, walking into stores and restaurants...  I am extremely sensitive to perfumes and hair sprays, motion sickness and light flickering, food and chemical odors, fluorescent lighting, and most of all, a cacophony of noise.  If you combine any of these, such as walking into a noisy food place, I very quickly lose my sense of feeling grounded and float away into a blur of confusion.  Just having to stand in a line and quickly decide what to order off a menu under these conditions is so stressful that I generally just grab the first thing on the menu that catches my eye, unless I'm familiar with the menu and know what I want.  I can't describe how miserable I feel trying to focus through all that.
    Scott is a nice guy, extremely patient with me, but he did tease me one time in Walmart and said he felt like he was being followed by a retard.  I was flapping my long sleeves together and staring up at the light and nearly running into people while I chewed my tongue because I was so spaced out from the noise and light and overwhelming variety of things to see.
    When my kids were growing up, I HAD to stay focused.  I was able to shop and get them to school and hold a job, because I HAD to.  But I also had to medicate to be able to handle all these things.  I've noticed I need far less medication now that my kids are grown and I don't have to handle these things any more.  Scott and I go shopping together once a week, and since he does the driving and pushes the cart, and my list is already all in order, I am free to space out and be weird, which, I've gotta tell you, is such a relief.  I no longer get migraines and crabby just going shopping, simply because I can space out away from all the sensory overload.
    In the last couple of years since I've learned I'm aspie, I have run into a variety of people who feel bad about themselves because they seem to be intolerant of other people, and they have no patience for being places that other people enjoy.  I've noticed that this comes from not just aspies, but people with OCD, ADD, Tourette's, and other challenges.  I'm thinking that perhaps there are a number of us who experience sensory overload while we are dealing with our other challenges, and we mistake these things for flaws in our personalities.  Perhaps they aren't flaws after all so much as our nervous systems not being able to switch the load around so that we can focus on the fun things or what is being said.
    Perhaps we should take another look at crabby people who seem to have low tolerance levels.  I know from my own experiences it is really hard to be nice and chatty with a coworker when I'm dealing with stuff like overwhelming cologne or perfume smells, a radio or tv yapping in the background, bad or cheap lighting, uncomfortable furniture, a phone ringing somewhere, smelling someone's food or cigarettes down the hallway, or even just someone being too chatty and having to process it all.  Ah, but everyone has to go through that, you say.  Ah, but not everyone has to go through that with a nervous system that tailspins them into migraines, I say.
    I think there is a simple solution.  Instead of the crabby people constantly kicking themselves for not being up to par on keeping the smile firmly in place and making the correct eye contact and nodding in all the right places and risking a chain reaction of everyone in a workplace or school or party or meeting gossiping or griping about them behind their backs if they fail to socially perform to the satisfaction of others, all we have to do is say You know what?  I'm aspie, which means I'm crabby by nature without any warning, so once I go into overload, I apologize for whatever I do or say that offends you, because my nervous system really jerks me around and I feel like crap when it does.  Just let me know when I start to get annoying, and I'll see what I can do to fix it.
    How's that?  I like honesty.  I think it's only fair to warn the happy smiley people they are about to get eaten, at least in our thoughts.  And if they don't 'get it', well, they can run screaming later.  After all, they had fair warning.

  • quizzical quizology


    1. Do you like blue cheese?
    This is the most outstanding question I've ever been asked on a survey.  *applause*  I love blue, and I love cheese.  Oddly, I don't eat blue cheese.

    2. Have you ever smoked?
    Voraciously.  Fortunately I grew very ill within a year and was forced to quit forever.  I haven't smoked in 20 years.  And for those of you who smoke and really believe things like the lungs start healing as soon as you quit smoking and they are the fastest organs in the body to heal (I've actually heard heavy smokers use these things as excuses to ~keep~ smoking), I have a couple of lungs full of scar tissue that say differently.  I only smoked for a year and a half.  Think about it.

    3. Do you own a gun?

    Cool, isn't it?

    4. What flavor Kool Aid was your favorite?
    I was ~not~ a kool-aid kid growing up.  I find this guy disturbing.
    Not enough to soak my pickles in it like one person I found....    But that didn't stop me from sneakily swiping kool-aid points during VBS as a kid so I could send off for free stuff, and later I hit the VBS jackpot as an adult and collected enough points to get my kids free rides at the fair during a big promo.  But we all know the Jim Jones kool-aid massacre...  Which leads to a whole new era of Wall Street verbage.
    And you thought this was an innocent survey question.

    5.Do you get nervous before doctor appointment?
    I think they cringe more than I do.  They throw pills out into the hallway, hoping I'll go after them.

    6. What do you think of hot dogs?
    I'm extremely disappointed in them.  They were much better when I was a kid and there were all these rumors going around that they used ground up chicken feathers and hog snouts and horse meat.

    7. Favorite Christmas movie?
    There are so many of those out there now that they have to start showing them before Thanksgiving just to squeeze them all in by New Year's.  I really hate tv programming throughout December.  I got stuck doing a Nielsen rating the week of Thanksgiving one year, I kid you not, and I had to write tons of extra notes about the shows I *would* have been watching during regular programming.  I let them know how much holiday programming sux.  I have heard, though, that this year the Sunday before Thanksgiving is a new 24 2-parter, so mark your calendar.

    8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
    I make my own hot chocolate from scratch.  I bypass those corn syrup solids and whatever.  It makes me feel powerful to neener the high fructose companies.

    9. Can you do push ups?
    Can Jack Bauer catch a break?  NO.  Although I am back on the strength training now (barely), thank goodness.  What a long stinkin' year this has been.  Thank God and fans for youtube.
    Kiefer Backstage on the Set of 24

    10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
    I used to have this earring thing.  I once owned nearly 50 pairs of earrings.  Then I realized I'd have to wear a different pair every single day for 4 months just to cover them all.  So I gave a whole bunch away and started buying more.  Then I thought Crap, I'm doing it again.  So I gave them away and limited my earring habit to just one new pair every so many months.  Then, dang it, I went to work in a retail store and they put me in a jewelry counter...  You guessed it, I loaded up again, because I had my pick of the red tag stuff with an employee discount.  I've had them for a few years and have come to realize I no longer like them, so I'm starting to give them away again.  Real gold and gemstones, out the door.  There are only a handful of earrings I hang onto now.  I have one pair that Scott gave me many years ago, and they are so ugly that they're cool.  They are pewter daisies with pink rhinestones in the stem.  I hate pink.  And in the stem?  Weird.  But because HE gave them to me, they will always grace my ears till the end, and they will always be my favorite, even though they've never gone with any clothing I have.  I wear them quite often, in spite of having owned a really dazzling array of nice earrings over the last two decades.  They are the most unique pieces of crap I've ever seen.    I think I like that they're pewter.
    11. Favorite hobby?
    *filling out survey*  ~sticking tongue out side of mouth while I think...~  Question 11.  Favorite hobby?

    12. Do you have A.D.D.?
    I married into an entire family with ADD.  It's not unlike being in a roomful of little yappy dogs.  No offense to anyone with ADD.  I have Asperger's myself, so just an observation from another mind set in the mentally diverse world we live in.  I find ADD people amusing.  They find me annoying as hell.

    13. What's one trait you hate about yourself?
    I look like my mom.    No offense to my mom, but it's like, geez, now I know how I'm going to look when I'm 65, you know?  I wanted to be a little more unique than that.  I sometimes wonder if animals are disappointed at the surprising lack of variety within their breeds.  I'm a Heinz and I still look like my mom.

    14. Middle name?
    It is probably the most popular middle name EVER on this earth.  BOR-ING.
    15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment.
      1. My hand hurts from protecting my chickens, and yet I am forcing it to do my will and keep typing.  I am so cruel.  You didn't know my hand and I have been bickering until this question came along.
      2. Scott wants me to cook him some asparagus for dinner...    I will be a good wife and cook asparagus, because that sure beats rutabagas.
      3. You know, I think I'm going to let my hand win this one and stop here for now.

    16. 3 drinks you regularly drink?
    Why do questions like these show up in nearly every survey I fill out?  Is this a filler question for when the survey maker's mind goes blank?

    17. Current worry?
    I had a small anxiety attack around 4:30 the other morning that the CMV was reactivating, but it turned out to be a touch of thrush and a stomach bug going around, thank goodness.

    18. Current hate right now?
    Negligent dog owners.  I don't want to talk about the mutilation and carnage that nearly happened in my yard.

    19. Favorite place to be? 
    In my bed would be pretty sweet right now, but the dang carbon monoxide detector batteries decided to die around 2:45 and chirped me into utter consciousness.

    20. How did you bring in the New Year? 
    I'm tired of being accused of being the one who brought it in.  I swear, it wasn't me.

    21. Where would you like to go?
    Over there.

    22. Name three people who will complete this?
    The Priceline Negotiator, Tony Almeida, and Weird Al. 
    plneg   tonyalmeida 

    23. Do you own slippers?
    First you ask if I own a gun, now you ask if I own slippers...  I have to be honest, my respect for you as a survey maker has come down at least 50 points from where we started out.
    24. What color shirt are you wearing right now?
    I can't take this crap any more, I'm going back to bed.

    25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
    Geez, I get back up and you are asking about how I like to sleep.  How uncanny is that?  I'm into super high thread count Egyptian cotton, and since you were polite enough not to ask, they are a beautiful merlot color.  You're lucky, this is the first time I've ever truthfully answered a question about my bedding.

    26. Can you whistle?
    There is a guy around these parts who is famous for his nonstop whistling everywhere he goes, makes it onto the news every little bit.  He whistled his way around the store I worked in one day, about drove me ~CRAZY~.  I was ready to bean the guy with a frying pan in housewares.  I don't care how cool your whistling is, it's freakin' annoying.  Professional whistlers are a dying breed for some reason...

    27. Favorite color?
    Um, BLUE.

    28. Would you be a pirate?

    Seinfeld - Pirate, part two

    29. What songs do you sing in the shower?
    I have never sung in the shower.  What is up with that?  Why do people do that?

    30. Favorite Girl's Name?
    Do you mean the name of my favorite girl, or the coolest name I can think of for a girl?  This survey is rapidly deteriorating, I can hardly believe the same person is doing this as the one who started out.  Can I assume alcohol is being ingested?

    31. What makes you laugh?
    Burying survey makers under big trees on dark nights.

    32. Best bed sheets as a child? 
    Ok, rip off.  This one has been so ripped off.  *lining up arrow in sights*
    33. Worst injury you've ever had?

    ~twang!~  Hurts, don't it?

    34. How many TVs do you have in your house?
    *stalking survey maker around a corner...*

    35. Does someone have a crush on you?
    Stop writhing, I have to push it on through to get it out.

    36.Your favorite book?
    You're not going to ask me about my bed sheets as a child any more, are you.  ARE YOU.

    37. What is your favorite candy?
    Shut up, I hate it when survey makers cry like that.

    38. Favorite Sports Team?
    I don't commit myself to just one team.  I cheer both sides on equally.  The important thing is the food.

    39. What song do you want played at your funeral? 
    With any luck the nursing home staff will sing a rousing chorus of Horse With No Name.
    Jarhead - A horse with no name

    40. What was the last thing that made you cry? 

    Bridgestone "Scream" Super Bowl Ad
    Raise your hand if you really thought that commercial made me cry.
    41. Favorite boys name?
    Wow, really shuffled the ol' question deck, eh?

    42. Do you have a crush on someone?
    I think you could learn useful survey skills and techniques from these people.
    Jack Bauer Management Infomercial


    43 Would you like to be a police officer?
    This one really should have been up there with the blue cheese question.  Seriously, survey maker person, ~what happened~?  You started off so magnificently.  Btw, a couple of my cousins actually tried talking me into joining the police force.  It was tempting.  I liked the gun.  I hated the hat.  I'm not a hat person.
    44. What is your favorite movie?
    It's a toss up between Monster's Inc and Galaxy Quest.
    Monsters Inc. Trailer
    Galaxy Quest Movie Trailer

  • get over it


    They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  There are so many ways I can take off on that.  Like, I should be G-Girl by now.  Or puny body, will of steel.  Or wisdom comes from experience, so I must be up there with the gurus by now.
    Like, if I rack up credits in this life for being like this, can I have them transferred to someone else?  haha  Just thinking about the new xanga game.
    Life is a lot like xanga.  It goes on whether I post or not.  It's always there, buzzing with activity while I hide in a cave contemplating the universe.  It's a plethora of whispers and shouts and screams and laughter that circumvents the world while I watch tv.  I find that comforting.
    I slip in and out of xanga like I slip in and out of life.  Most of the time all I want is the sheerest of human contact.  Sometimes I need distraction or entertainment.  Sometimes I splat myself all over the screen like some delusional Monty Python wrestling championship with Stephen Hawking.
    Sometimes I start new medications and watch the day waste away in a foggy haze, wondering how the next 20 years will be.
    Living on the meds I do isn't unlike downing margaritas all day, starting as soon as I get up.  The main difference is I'm stuck in a house watching the world through everyone else's eyes.
    The last 20 years have been rough, but I can't complain.  I know how extremely lucky I am to have insurance and meds, a home and a husband, good food and a nice bed.
    I know there are a lot of us 'out there' who are scared.  Our bodies don't work right, we don't know how long they'll last, and we're not always sure if anybody cares.  We ask the big questions decades before most people have to face them.  We face our dooms every day and learn to gracefully hide them if we want to keep friends.  We crawl through the dark alone in broad daylight, and wonder if anyone sees us.
    Take a pill.  If I have a problem moving around, there's a pill.  If I have anxiety about living, there's a pill.  If I face the biggest scary thing in the world, is there a pill for The Nothing that wants to consume me?
    Neverending Story-The Ivory Tower
    All my sorrows, all my sadness, and all my efforts mean something.  I don't want sitting here in my house too wasted on pills to be meaningless.
    Neverending Story Clip - Entire Gmork Scene
    Don'tcha hate it when the crucial end gets cut off?  Here you go.  Sorta undermined the climax of the moment, but dang, doesn't life do that anyway.
    Neverending Story Clip
    Somebody's out there going, Shut up and do another survey already, for crying out loud... get over it.

 photo surveybuttonsm.jpg

I've started transferring my survey posts over to Surveypalooza so people coming in from search engines on mobile devices will be able to see the surveys.


Apologies for the missing vids, another upgrade during the server migration swept through like a scan sweeping through the Enterprise. I'll fix those later, kinda busy...

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