It’s just after 10am, and I am standing on the dock outside the newly renovated Waterside Marketplace waiting for the ferry to cross the Elizabeth River to Portsmouth. The weather app on my phone says its 65 degrees and cloudy, but the chilly ocean wind makes it feel colder than that.
The small paddleboat arrived around 10 past the hour, it dropped off about a half dozen people and let the three of us who were waiting on dock onboard. The inside had a rusted floor with benches along the sides. Apparently, there were more benches in the center of the boat at one point, but they were removed, possibly to make room for the three beaten up fare boxes. The bench wasn’t all that comfortable, but it didn’t matter since it was only a 10 minute ride across the river to High Street landing.
Portsmouth is a charming, quiet town that kind of reminded me of a cross between Federal Hill and Fells Point. Unfortunately for me, I was visiting on a Thursday morning so nearly everything was closed: The Naval Shipbuilding Museum (for refurbishment until “early 2017”), The Lightship Portsmouth (open weekends only), Virginia Sports Museum (permanently closed) and a half dozen “historic homes” (also open weekends only).
That left the Arts & Culture Center (which was “between exhibitions”), the Virginia Children’s Museum, the TCC (Tidewater Community College) Gallery and the exteriors of various buildings. Oh, and I could purchase cheap looking, neon colored t-shirts at the visitor’s center which is coincidentally where I had to go anyway to get the ferry back to Norfolk – and it was only 12:30 (it would have been noon if I hadn’t stopped for lunch at Jimmy Johns on High Street).
I arrived back at downtown Norfolk around 1:25 where it was a balmy 69 degrees with partly cloudy skies, and I was nowhere near ready to pack it in for the day so I walked over to Nauticus (though most of the parks were closed off due to construction of the various tents for next week’s Harborfest). I walked up the ticket counter and the somewhat disinterested cashier sold me a normal base ticket for $15 (included a movie and a limited tour of the attached battleship). I couldn’t decide if I wanted a snack or to just upstairs to see the exhibits on the 3rd floor first so I chose the latter.
The museum itself is hard to quantify. It has some exhibits that are geared towards kids (like the entry on port Norfolk, the touch a shark tank or the small “aquarium” area – which makes the former National Aquarium in DC look HUGE by comparison), but the majority of the labyrinthine museum space is ship life, Naval history, Naval recruiting and the nearby Naval base – not many of which would be of interest to the 3-12 set.
The exhibits are small, superficial and dated with broken or worn out “interactives” and little to no flow between the tightly packed exhibits – which you can’t really skip as there is only ONE path through the exhibit area (as I found out when one of the barely crowded rooms was too noisy for my tastes). The only place in the gallery that wasn’t claustrophobically small was the end where the theater, the NOAA exhibit and the stairway to the actual Hampton Roads Naval Museum\walkway to the USS Wisconsin (which were both on the second level). Though I didn’t partake in either this time as I fell asleep in the 3d movie and took that as a cue to head back to the hotel… at 3pm in the afternoon.
Not yet, first I stopped into their gift shop (my favorite part of their museum), and then I went into their café next door… but they were closed so I looked around thinking I might be able to take some snacks back to the room with me. Then a black man in black shirt hauling a large trash can behind him comes up behind me:
“Ya know,” he said. “We got a full menu.”
“Yeah, thanks, but it’s closed. There’s no-one back there.”
“What was that? I said look up there. We got a full menu up there,” he said pointing up to the large black and white sign hanging from the ceiling that I’d have to be blind to miss (I couldn’t read it with my crappy vision, but I couldn’t miss it when I came in).
“And it doesn’t do me any good if it’s CLOSED because there is NO-ONE back there.”
“’No-one back there?’ I work the café. I’D be the one ringing you up. Now, if you want to order something. Order it.”
With that said, I immediately turned around and decided to get dinner in the hotel and then get a start on my packing. It’s going to be another long day of traveling tomorrow – and my toes aren’t even remotely healed yet…
Welcome, new resident(s). My name is Jonathan (yes, contrary to public belief, I am a man), and I’m the writer of this blog, and de facto mayor of the Uncanny Valley (mostly because no else wanted the job).
I don’t generally write this blog with the intention of other people reading it, but I’m glad you’re here because it means I’m not alone in this journey (though it often feels like it). I often post sad stories here, but I’m proud to say that don’t participate in the “outrage of the day” thing like other pages do (seriously, whenever an Autistic child\teen is beaten, raped or murdered, it’ll appear at least a dozen times on my FB “News Feed” so it’s not a huge loss on that front).
Speaking of FB, some of you found this blog through its corresponding FB page where I post funny, sarcastic and sometimes depressing memes there, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to post more positive images lately. I also post any photos of places\events that I don’t have enough “good” shots to create a full “gallery” around.
I’m not sorry for what I post here, and I stand by what I write. However, I hope you enjoy my entries about “Adulting” with Autism or as I like to call it: “Life in the Uncanny Valley.”
Came back from my Primary Doctor this afternoon (after trying to get an appointment for the past month or so), I arrived about 20 minutes early to get paperwork and whatnot out of the way. But all they did was have me sign in. After a half-hour of waiting, the nurse calls me back to get my vitals.
While she was checking my BP, I was telling her about my diet and getting out more…and when I stepped off the scale she looks at me and says: “you’ve gained 15 pounds.” She leads me around the corner to an exam room and tells me the doctor will see me “shortly.” Finally, another half-hour later, the door bursts open and another nurse comes in:
“You forgot your co-pay at the desk,” she said shoving a receipt or something in my face.
We can’t forget what’s really important here now, can we? I checked my bag…and, naturally, my checkbook isn’t in there (it was back on my desk). She informed me they didn’t take cash so I either forked over a credit card… or forfeited my entire afternoon. She returns 10-minutes later with my card and a receipt for me to sign, and 10-minutes after that, the doctor finally comes in the room.
He looks at the chart he picked up from the rack in the door and asks what brought me to his office today: “Alternating diarrhea and constipation,” “occasional severe pain in my stomach,” “queasy, bloated, semi-nauseous feeling that is sometimes relieved by eating and sometimes made worse by it.”
He stops me and informs me of what I already know: “That’s definitely Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”
“That’s odd, YOUR nurse prac on my last visit said it was ‘Kidney Stones’ with a ‘Urinary Tract Infection.’”
He looks at me sourly, gets up, takes his laptop with him and leaves the room. Ten minutes later, he returns with another sour look on his face but says nothing. After sitting down on his stool again, he asked in a professional tone if I had “any other issues” to discuss with him.
I asked him about my shoulder, he grabs it, lifts it up (though I only got it up halfway)\towards him (yep, halfway again) and back behind me (less than a quarter, but it definitely hurt the most). He asked if there were any “continuous, repetitive motions” I made on a “regular basis.” I told him, “yeah, but I use my RIGHT hand for that.” Hey, that’s the same look he gave me too.
He then shrugged and said it was “probably mild Tendinitis, nothing to worry about.” If this is “mild,” I’d HATE to know what “severe” feels like.
Speaking of severe, I mentioned the other pain and swelling my IBS was causing (that and a failed, um, “experiment” I won’t get into here) – that it was making it painful to sit down and next to impossible to sit still though I conceded that was “probably my Asperger’s or ADHD,” he shrugged both suggestions off – which I wasn’t sure if that meant he didn’t believe it or took it for granted.
Regardless, he said of my rectal issue, there is only ONE way to check it. I asked if he was SURE there wasn’t some “less invasive” method of doing this, and he looked at me like that was the dumbest question he’d heard all day. Let’s just say if I thought having strangers touch my shoulder was awkward… (yes, I know, gay man in his mid-30s should be totally used to that by now… but I’m not – I can’t stand people touching me).
Fortunately, he didn’t find anything too bad: some redness, irritation and “minor hemorrhoids” (yes, I definitely felt it when he found it) saying some over the counter medicines (which burn like Hell for 8-10 hours after application) and they’ll “be gone within a week.”
The doctor directs me back to the payment counter, and the nurse asks me about scheduling a “follow-up appointment.” I know, I should have, but I need a chance to recover first…
Today is Good Friday… so why don’t I feel “good?” Yes, I’m having a far better day than Jesus did, but… that isn’t exactly comforting – especially since I get the “you can’t be sad, there are millions of people who would KILL to have your so-called ‘problems’” (I know, I wrote a post addressing that topic about 3-4 years ago).
What set me off today was a relatively innocuous post on “The Joy of Autism.”
“Ignoring or pretending someone isn’t there is a form of BULLYING. ~ Joy of Autism”
I actually hadn’t thought of it like that – for me, it was often a relief FROM bullying. However, it made me realize that I’ve experienced nearly every kind of bullying – and several forms of discrimination – over my life. Honestly, the only ones I don’t have are physical and sexu…aw, damnit.
Actually, two separate incidents come to mind – one when I was 12 and the other 15-16 – one likely more serious than the other (though neither actually amounted to much in the long run and both parties have likely long forgotten all about their respective incidents – just as I thought I had).
I don’t know how to describe the first incident. I was away from home for the first time at what my parents called a “summer camp for kids with ADHD” (more like a 6 week “my first program” with sneering counselors, therapy games and roommates who clearly resented sharing space with a “retard”). As I said, I was 12, and they had these things called “showers” (a concept I was wholly unfamiliar with at the time as I only knew baths) …so some adjustment was needed. Anyway, I was trying to clean the foreskin (it was a reddish grey color, which I assumed was just dirt) when suddenly my penis started pulsing wildly and exploded all over the shower wall and pretty much shocking the Hell out of me, not to mention nearly making me slip and hurt myself. I refused to even think about touching it again for the rest of the summer (I was there for both 3 week sessions).
I came out and the counselor wasn’t happy with me. Saying I had no reason to “take some damned long” in there and obviously had no idea “how to take a shower” (he was technically right on that front, so I couldn’t call it an “insult”). You can see where this is going, right?
Yep, the next morning, when it was time to think about showering, he rather irritably followed me into the shower room as I was getting undressed and when I got into the shower he barked: “Don’t close that curtain. You obviously have no fucking clue how to take a shower so I’ll have to ‘guide’ you through the fucking process. I like this as much as you do, so shut up, you’re wasting water!” It was extremely uncomfortable for me with him watching me from 5-feet away (he wasn’t in there WITH me, it just felt like it) and he was acting like HE was the one being punished for “having” to do it. Fortunately, I never “forced” him to do it again, but it made our interactions awkward and may even be the reason I avoid showers unless absolutely necessary.
The second one was arguably more serious. I was 15-16 and visiting my cousin Andrew’s beach house in NJ for the summer. His mom was driving and we were play wrestling in the back of her van (the seats were folded down). You can see where this is going too, right? No, we didn’t have sex, but his mom acted like I just raped her 10-year-old son in front of her. She was FURIOUS, and, while I can appreciate her diligence, I literally had no idea WHY she was screaming profanities at me for demonstrating a move I saw on TV (and just like TV – no contact was actually made, but she didn’t believe me nor give me a chance to talk. I was “fucking evil” and had “no business touching, let alone being near children ever again” and to this day, any time a child touches me I hear Cousin Twinks screaming at me. I couldn’t even talk to either of them at my aunt’s 10th wedding anniversary last year (I know they were both there, as they were seated at the table directly across from mine).
I consider these both acts of bullying. They consider their behavior justified – just like a story I was going to tell from Benchmark about psychical abuse\bullying (which still makes me paranoid at night), but I don’t have either the room or the mental stamina to continue with that train of thought in this post. Maybe some better Friday…
Update: In the meantime, I have examples of other more direct forms of bullying on this blog (all of them, conveniently enough, also entirely my own fault making the other party completely blameless for their behaviors regardless of how rude, mean, spiteful or otherwise hurtful they were): “Food Court Follies,” “A Family Frustration,” “Running Out of Ikeas” and to a vaguer extent “National Disappointment Day.”
Today is National Siblings Day in the US. Yah.
I have two brothers, we aren’t as close (or anywhere near as supportive) as some siblings I’ve seen around the FB community, but we aren’t openly feuding to my knowledge. I’m a huge “disappointment” to them (yes, that’s an actual quote not an emphasis), but they (usually) aren’t mad about it, bro…
The lack of hostility doesn’t necessarily translate to acceptance or support, but if something goes wrong, they are more than happy to blame me for it. Don’t worry, even if it is demonstrably PROVEN beyond even the tiniest shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t my fault, it’s still my fault because… um, it just is.
I get invited to their major parties and what not, but it feels more like what they are expected to do than a sincere request. Maybe it’s just my “overactive imagination,” but as welcome as they say I am, it doesn’t feel like I actually belong there. It’s subtle, but unshakable.
Kind of like the difference between icy “awareness” and the warm embrace of “acceptance” (which I don’t think they’ve gotten to yet). If I had to put it into words, it would probably be like lukewarm resentment with a mildly friendly veneer over it.
Actually, I think my middle brother put it best: “You know, Sibling Day isn’t a real holiday.”
How disappointing – especially since I was looking forward to using that cute “I love my brother” graphic I swiped off FB at the top of this post. Maybe next year…