Pennsylvania

Two wasted weeks

I posted earlier about the “progress” I made sorting and binding up some of my dad’s old charts. The photos aren’t all that impressive because they aren’t – they are ONE wall of boxes. As you saw in the photos from earlier this week, the other three are jam packed.

Given the condition of the files I was bundling (so rotten the pages were not only unreadable, but impossible to separate from the folder they were in), I’d say we could easily just toss most of this stuff in with the normal recycling and no-one would be the wiser, but that’s not how the law works.

But that’s not why the 10-day sojourn was a failure. No, this boring, busy work (something Autistics like me are supposed to excel at) was just an unpleasant symptom of a much larger and far less pleasant problem.

I was tasked with that job since no-one else wanted it. Though it was supposed to a GROUP effort with my mom and both brothers setting a weekend aside to get this task done with as little hassle as possible… for them – they’re already in Pennsylvania. I’m in FLORIDA without a car or license so getting there is a LOT harder for me than it is them.

That weekend came and went without anything happening. Yes, I get it. Kids get sick, the car breaks down, a family member dies unexpectedly, but, just in case, I got a long, condescending lecture anyway when I asked my older brother if there was any other discussion for rescheduling the weekend.

“I am married with four kids and a full-time job… You on the other hand have none of these things. In fact, there is nothing stopping you from coming up here for three or four weeks and doing this on your own. You don’t need my ‘permission.’ Just do it. If you were a good son, you would volunteer to do this for mom’s sake. But you aren’t.”

I love that he used the word “IF,” but I told him it wasn’t a command performance – it was a question. JUST a question as “I understand that both of you have other things to do, but in order to make plans I have to know what they are first.”

“King of regurgitation”

What does that even mean? Seriously, I have no clue. So, I did what anyone else would do when they don’t understand something. I asked.

“Nice try, but your argument isn’t working on me. Oh, and pro-tip, capitalizing words in messages does not mean emphasis the way you think it does.”

There comes a point in all of my posts where I become the villain not the victim – and I suspect that’s exactly the kind of action he was hoping for when he sent it. Well, he got it, and I hated myself for losing my temper with him like that – that’s probably also what he wanted (that makes him the victim of MY abuse, see?)

“I had honestly forgotten about your little tiff. But I forgive you,” he replied. It’s noble, maybe this marks a thaw in relations. He then demands I both apologize to him and “take responsibility” for all the wrong deeds I did by asking simple questions and following up for clarification (yes, I told that to him in my reply).

In case you were wondering, he does not owe me an apology because his insults – both stated and implied – were figments of some sick “fantasy world” created by his lunatic brother, but my non-existent insults against him were real. Wait, what? Also, as you can imagine, it doesn’t get better from here – despite my asking him to STOP at least three times.

Clearly, he didn’t listen as he went off on a series of massively long texts that I honestly didn’t scroll up two or three screens to read in their entirety (the last one I didn’t even open, but the “preview” line in messenger was him telling me to “not message me again” which solved my problem, but I BLOCKED him anyway just to be safe). The last one that I did read said that to get back in his good graces and prove that I wasn’t “selfish, immature, and lazy” was to “prove me wrong. Go to Shamokin for three weeks and help mom with the files and anything else she wants you to do. Do that, and I’ll be forced to admit I was wrong.”

That’s how I ended up in Shamokin for two weeks, and I knew the second I picked up the rotting, mold covered box in the entry of the old office that he would say “you didn’t ‘prove me wrong.’ You proved me right as having to ‘prove me wrong’ is the very embodiment of ‘immaturity’ which is what I said you were. Nice try though.”

It’s also what I thought of with every folder I emptied and every stack I tied. Even looking at the two boxes of loosely bound files and the two crates of folders mom drove up to recycling, I didn’t feel pride. I felt shamed – ashamed of myself for falling for his trick and even more so for letting his bullying messages effect my work… which is the very definition of wasted time – especially since I knew darned well that what I did wouldn’t meet his standards anyway.

I came away from the week with one positive though, I cannot live my life to meet my brother’s approval – which I know he probably wouldn’t have given me anyway – but solely for my own. Trying to make HIM happy didn’t work, so I must focus on making ME happy…

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Categories: coal region, family, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

Not-so-happy returns

(Sorry, I really don’t feel like doing a write up now. Hopefully, these notes will do)

 

10:15am – leave house

12:07pm – arrive in Harrisburg

12:35pm – locate the Sheet z across from the airport. Sandwiches is awful, fountain drink is okay… okay, the 2nd one was (as I dumped the first one out).

12:48pm – arrive at MDT, agent for American Airlines cannot find my tickets tells me it is MY responsibility to call Travel agent or booking site to find it.

12:59 pm – shouting my name and phone number into the phone just to get: “Sir, I can not hear you. I am hanging up.” *click*

1:07pm – try to call Expedia. Get nowhere. Go inside. “Try the other airlines.”

1:28pm – none of the other airlines can find my flight on AA either.

1:35pm – I have no choice. I MUST get a new ticket for an extra $100 plus taxes and fees. It is too late because the flight I was trying to get onto is already making its “final boarding call.”

1:48pm – have tickets in hand, go through security to have power happy TSA agent rip my bag open and lecture me about the toiletries in my clear mesh bag. She then informs me that if I continue “arguing with a federal agent” (apparently we are seeing two different things here) the officers surrounding me would “be more than happy to discuss it with you in our holding cell.”

1:54pm – Get to the other side of the “hey, that’s my fat, ugly, hairy stomach hanging out when I lift my arms, this isn’t awkward or embarrassing at all” machine and one of the intimidation agents from a few moments ago stops me and asks if there is “any medical condition that would impede me doing a full pat down of your persons?”

“Actually, yes, it’s called Autism Spectrum disorder and it means I have severe, um, dislike of strang…,” and of course he does it anyway. Thanks for making me to talk to myself.  It almost distracted me from the patdown. No, it didn’t.
“You can go now. Have a nice day.”

2:15pm – board flight as usual. It is probably the smallest plane I have ever been on. I can literally barely fit down the aisle, but my bag fit in the overhead… once I was able to figure out how to get it up there without hitting the passengers in the surrounding seats.

2:22pm – take off.

3pm – arrive at PHL for my 2hr, 15 minutes layover.

4:15pm – get early dinner at airport. Chicken was all right, but fries were cold.

4:23pm – return to terminal. Flight boards in an hour and twenty minutes.

4:47pm – Passengers from plane I’m going out on are disembarking.

5:11pm – “Once again, this is a completely full flight. ALL passengers in groups 7 or higher MUST check their carry on baggage.”

5:13 PM – cool. I’m in… group 8. Yah.

5:27 pm – boarding begins. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere for the next 10-15 minutes.

5:47pm – finally board – it is another 10 minutes before we finished boarding and pushed back from the terminal. Just to find out we are “number 20 for take-off…”

6:44pm – Airborne. Things are starting to look up…

Categories: adventures, Autism, flying, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, transportation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Progress at home

This is a picture of the corner my dad’s old office that mom and I grabbed last Friday…

 

Here is what that same pile of boxes looked like bound up. The two empty blue crates on the right which held the folders had just been emptied at CT
Recycling this morning.

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Some Shamokin memes

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Autism with a second side of… something

I was having a rather dull dinner with my mom and her friends in a restaurant I’d never been to before. As we sit down, my mom points out that they have “mozzarella sticks” here (because I apparently can’t read menus on my own) and how terrible the ones we had the night before were.

As I’m looking over the underwhelming menu, a harried waitress comes up from one side of the table and a woman I’d never seen before comes up the other: “Oh, hi, Liz.” “Linda, hi, wonder seeing you here, how are…”

JONATHAN,” my mom’s friend Barb shouted to get my attention and successfully scaring the living crap out of me. “YOUR turn to order!”

“JONATHAN,” my mom snapped at me for dropping my phone on the table. “That is completely unnecessary! Just tell her what you want to drink and be done with it.”

So, now, I’ve got my mom, her friends, the waitress and half the restaurant staring at me. No pressure.

“We’s got Coke, Diet Coke, Ginga-hale…”

“Water,” I replied only hearing the first three.

“All this shit,” my mom said exasperatedly, “and you’re ordering WATER? Jesus-fucking-God. Anyway, Linda, did you hear about…”

“What ’bout you, ma’am?”

“Um, water with lemon… Wait, Jonathan, you said wanted the mozzarella sticks.”

“Um, no, you asked me about them.”

“So, he wan’s the mozza sticks,” the waitress asked from three tables away.

“No”

“JONATHAN, do you want the mozzarella sticks or not?”

“NO”

“Yes, he does. Thank you.”

Wait, WHAT? I literally just said “no” three times.

“Okay, I’ll put d’em in with ya order.”

A few minutes later, she returns with Barb’s soda, my water and my mom’s water with lemon, and immediately proceeds to take our orders. It’s now, 45 seconds before I’m expected to make my order, that Barb points out that there is a “special board” behind me that I missed before I sat down. Mom is still talking to that lady so, congratulations, it’s bumped up to about 35 seconds.

“Honey dipt [sic] chicken with fries”

“Fries, coleslaw, side salad, apple sauce, corn, lima beans…”

“I said ‘fries.’”

“I know d’at, but ya need a SECOND side.”

“Why? I don’t need a ‘second side.’”

“Ya meal comes wit a second side.”

“And I’m telling you, I don’t want a ‘second side.’”

Why is this so hard to understand?

“So, ya want TWO plates of fries?”

“No, I want one plate of fries. I’m telling you I don’t wa-”

“Give him apple sauce and be done with it.”

“And you ma’am?”

“Um, yeah… I’ll have… um, I’ll have… whatever he’s having, but with lima beans instead of apple sauce.”

Then Barb starts on some meandering story about a feud she was having with one of her neighbors who had allegedly called cops the on her “out of spite – TWICE.” The kind of story that was extremely hard to follow unless you knew what was going on (who they were, what happened and how did it escalate so far). She gets about 2/3 of the way through her story when the waitress unceremoniously plops a plate of bland looking mozzarella sticks in front of me.

“Here ya go, buddy. Enjoy.”

What the fuck is this? When I order it? What am I supposed to do with them, and, more importantly, who the fuck is “buddy?”

“Jonathan,” my mom asked. “What the hell is wrong with you? Why aren’t you eating the mozzarella sticks you ordered?”

“I didn’t order them.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t want them, and I still don’t.”

“Then why the hell did you order them?”

“I DIDN’T. YOU did because YOU wanted to know if they were ‘any better than the ones we had last night.’”

“Oh, for God’s sake, just eat the damned things.”

So, basically, I’m now forced to eat bland mozzarella sticks I don’t want and didn’t order because I did order them and do want to eat them solely to satiate my mother’s mild curiosity. Neuro-typical logic at it’s finest, folks.

After a long tangent about how much money she’s make “inventing a phone [cord] that don’t get all tangled like the ones we got at work” (man, she’ll be disappointed to find out cordless phones have been around since at least 2001 – if not earlier), she finally gets back to repeating the second half of her story for us. I still have no idea what’s going on other than this neighbor lady is (allegedly) “psycho” or something, and worse, nothing was going on on Facebook or Messenger and I had zero new e-mails.

An excruciatingly long time later, the waitress returns and once again plops our food down with the enthusiasm of an abnormally excited rock. Barb got the fish with corn. My mom got fried chicken with fries and lima beans, and I got fried chicken with fries…and a humongous bowl of apple sauce.

Once again, I have no clue who’s eating it, but, my god, that’s a LOT of apple sauce. Meanwhile, the lukewarm fries were undercooked, but the chicken was actually pretty good.

By the time we were ready to leave, it was already 7pm. Mom wanted to get some ice cream t Mauer’s a few blocks away on Market Street, but one of the ladies loitering on the porch of the building next door rather curtly informed me was “closed” (no details, just “closed”). In the car, I made the mistake of asking what Barb’s rambling neighbor story was about.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” my mom replied.

“What was Barb’s problem with her neighbor and the police coming to her house?”

“Who’s house? What neighbor? Who’s calling the police for what? I have no clue what you’re asking.”

“Augh, that’s what I just asked YOU. Essentially, you want me to know the answers to the questions I just asked you so you can repeat the answers back to me in which case I wouldn’t need to ask them to you in the first place”

“Jesus-fucking-Christ, Jonathan, what the fuck are you talking about? God, ‘houses,’ ‘neighbors,’ ‘police?’ I have no clue what the hell you’re even talking about?”

“What the hell was Barb talking about in her long rambling story about having her neighbor call the police on her twice in the past week?”

“Thank you, Jesus, THAT I understood. It wasn’t a ‘neighbor,’ she was renting a property she owned out as apartments, and the current tenant was three months behind in her rent so Barb was forced to evict her, but she refused to leave so…”

Bo ring. See? I knew asking was a mistake.

Now that I’ve “stressed [her] out,” she decides to go to Weis to pick up a gallon box of ice cream leaving me in the car as she shops. It’s not much, but it’s a break…

Categories: adventures, Autism, coal region, family, Pennsylvania, sensory processing disorder | Leave a comment

Photos: Entrance to dad’s old office

As the headline states, this is the entrance to my dad’s old medical offices in Tharptown which is currently for sale.

The boxes and filing cabinets were brought up from the basement the previous weekend, and their contents must be gone through and destroyed before the building can be cleaned for sale.

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Photo: Happy Father’s Day

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Norfolk: Day 1 – Travel and tribulation

It’s 10am as I’m sitting here, fighting sleep in the middle of a crowded terminal and writing this intro while waiting for my flight to begin boarding. I had less then 3 hours of sleep as my shoulder and gut bothered my for most of the night and I had to leave the condo no later than 8am to get to the airport in time to get through both the chaos at AA’s self-check-in area and the notoriously difficult TSA screening area. This is going to be a great day.

So, we arrived at PHL approximately 20 minutes early. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except that my layover has now gone from 2 hours and 40 minutes to just under 3 hours. Three hours at an airport is a long time so I stopped to get lunch in the food court between terminals B and C before heading over to the shuttle at gate C10.

I got off the half-full shuttle, walked up to the giant monitor above the “Information” desk and saw there was a flight to Norfolk leaving in less than 30 minutes from gate F29 so after some careful consideration, I decided to go for it. I get to the counter, speak with the middle-ages agent who looks at with a plastic airline smile and says:

“I’m sorry, the last passenger has already boarded, and the plane door is already shut.”

“So,” the gravity of the situation sinking in. “You’re not saying I’m too late?”

“Yes, but don’t worry. There’s another flight in only two hours. I’m sorry. Have a nice day.”

That’s the thing about people being “sorry” for me, it’s always bad news and their semi-sincere apologies never actually change the situation. However, I likes how she said “only two hours” as if pissing away time in an airport was easy and fun. It wasn’t.

I go back to the dining area near the entrance, put my bags on a chair and sit down at the table next to them. Less than a minute later, I’m approached by a blonde-haired young man in a bright yellow vest, probably going to tell me to “move along” or something.

“My name is Alex, and I work for the airport. And I have a, um, question for you. Are you coming in or out – arriving or departing today?”

“Both,” I replied cautiously.

“You mean like a layover, um, okay, thank you. Sorry for bothering you.”

What the hell just happened? I know he was fishing for a reason to toss me out of the airport, but his body language and anxious tone said otherwise. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was…. *facepalm*

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s TWO “missed connections” in less than ten minutes. Yeah, overthinking an awkward two-minute encounter with a super-hot airport employee I’ll never see again is definitely going to make the next hour and…ugh, forty-five minutes just fly by. It didn’t.

An hour later, I was sitting in the crowded terminal area when the gate opened and people stream out of the small plane parked outside said gate, down a set of narrow stairs and down a cattle shoot to the gate that I’m supposed to be traveling out of. That is not a good sign, and it was exactly what I was afraid would happen. Guess what, it did, and as a special bonus, I was too large for my seatbelt to fit correctly and my toes were scrunched up in the same under-the-seat-in-front-of-me area as my bag. I had friction blisters on my toes, and my vacation hadn’t even started yet. The good news was it was only an hour long flight. Yep, wait three to fly one.

I leave the plane, relieved that I’m exiting into the gate rather than down those narrow stairs, and pass through the windowed bridge linking the terminal to the main lobby (which resembles the pre-security seating area at MCO) – where I could see that it was pouring rain outside. It was almost 6pm so I stopped into the only restaurant in the building that was still open – a sports bar with more TVs than patrons despite the nearly full airplane I just got off of.

I finish my food and head downstairs to the Baggage Claim area where I eventually find an information counter. When I asked the clueless young woman in the beige Navy uniform where the ground transportation counter, she just looked at me blankly. Apparently, ORF doesn’t offer “shared ride services” so if I wanted to do anything besides pick up my luggage and take it to my rental car (duh, this is America – EVERYONE drives), I was like the Navy says “SOL.”

I take my hat out of my bag, flip the hood of my raincoat up and walked around on the median until someone asked if I “needed a cab.” It wasn’t my first choice of transit, but it beat walking around on an uncovered median for another 10-15 minutes as my vacation officially opened….

Categories: adventures, florida, flying, Norfolk, Orlando, Pennsylvania, Philadephia, transportation, Virginia | Leave a comment

Holiday week in review

Dec 21st – My flight from Orlando to Baltimore was frustratingly delayed over an hour for unknown reasons so it was already dark by the time we landed at Baltimore-Washington International. I’m used to BWI, but I was completely unprepared for cold, wind… or the 35-cent increase in Light Rail fares. Due to my relatively late arrival in HVTC (7:30pm), mom decided she would pick me the next morning so I had an awful dinner at Panera Bread and could barely find my hotel in the scarcely lit side street surrounding the mall, let alone feel my ears\nose\fingers.

Dec 22nd – Overnight in Hunt Valley. Nothing exciting to report here except that I was going to post Hanukkah memes, but couldn’t find enough that weren’t juvenile or anti-Semitic. I’m all for humor (which is why I compile these meme posts to begin with), but NOT at the expense of others.

We got back to Shamokin barely in time to meet my aunt (yes, THAT one, and while I wasn’t looking forward to it, it went relatively well) and her boyfriend at a popular pizza place in the next town over. I say “barely” because mom turned down the wrong street and got completely lost so we had to ask Siri how to get back. However, I can say with certainty that “the best pizza in town” isn’t.

Dec 24th – Normally, we spend Christmas Eve going to my parent’s friends the Nye’s house for a special holiday themed “open house” at 5:30 for dinner (featuring “Uncle Paulie” in the world’s least convincing Santa outfit) before heading over to the Candlelight Service (7pm). THIS year, instead of doing that we went to my brother’s house in Nazareth for a Christmas Eve dinner with his family (wife, and two young children). It was loud, hectic and crowded, but I got some nice pictures.

Since said dinner wasn’t until at least 5pm, mom decided it was safer to stay overnight. I was downstairs in the basement on an uncomfortable air mattress with sheets that were too small to actually be of any use. Fortunately, the ticking of the clock 3 feet away from said mattress was loud enough to keep me awake until the heat kicked on around 2am.

Dec 25th – Did I mention, the kids “slept in” until 6am? Slackers. By the time I admitted defeat and headed upstairs around 7:15am, the living and sitting rooms were a complete war zone. Toys, wrapping paper, boxes, unopen able plastic containers. On the plus side, my “gift,” a plastic card for a gas station (your brother has no license and no car and you get him a gift certificate to a gas station?) was waiting for me in a tiny box in an otherwise untouched stack of gifts on the other side of the sofa. Breakfast was at 9am and was good. As soon as we finished, we packed our stuff in mom’s van and drove 5.3 miles to my OTHER brother’s house in Bethlehem.

It was 11am by the time we arrived, and my sister-in-law had just put out the last of her Christmas brunch. My mom chastised me “how can you say you are trying to ‘lose weight’ when you had not one but TWO breakfasts in two hours?” The conversation at the table I shared with my mom, brother, SIL and her parents quickly went from light and humorous to dark and slightly disturbing (dead pets, bird attacks, death camps and Donald Trump. I pitied my SIL for trying to keep the conversation as light as possible. After less than an hour there, we left and made the roughly 90-minute commute back to the middle of nowhere, where we could contemplate our nothing lives. At least, I don’t need a password for my mom’s wifi…

Dec 26th – Before today, I would have assumed this would be a separate post. You see today is the day BOTH my brothers came to Shamokin and brought their kids with them…but we weren’t here to celebrate Christmas. We were here to work, cleaning up the garage, my dad’s den and what’s left of the basement. We got the den passable – in that one is actually able to pass through it without killing themselves.

The reason only ONE of the three areas was tackled was our mom decided since my eldest was coming in around 11am, we would meet him at a REAL pizza place along with my aunt and her boyfriend (who was able to come in because it was “slow” in his shop), my other brother came in with his family at quarter-til-12 so we weren’t out of there until almost 2pm.

After this, we were ready to work…until my middle brother got an important call on his cell which left us in limbo for almost a full hour. Finally, we get to go outside and open a mysterious chest in the garage (dad wanted “all 5 boys” present for it, but my 3yo nephew and his older sister went home with their mom after lunch). Good news, there was stuff inside it; bad news, it was boring stuff so my SIL took my remaining nephew home while the three girls stayed behind and played Clue in the living room with gramma while the three of us tackled the desk\cabinets\miscellaneous stacks of paper between them (dating back to 1973). The girls definitely won the night…

 

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, coal region, family, florida, flying, Harrisburg, holidays, light rail, Orlando, Pennsylvania, transportation, weather | Leave a comment

Deplorable: Bloomsburg vendor has Nazi Youth, Trump flags for sale

nazi_trump_flags

This is a photo from the Bloomsburg Fair (the “unofficial” State Fair of Pennsylvania). Like the people quoted in the article I stole this from, I am also from the “next town over from the one this fair is held,” but unlike them, I am not even remotely “surprised” by this.

Granted, my best friend growing up was a black kid who moved to the area from Philly… BUT I’ve heard stories (some of them relatively recent) of black people getting harassed or wrongly accused of phantom crimes. The region was a hotbed of anti-immigration as far back as the 1800s with bloody – and often deadly – fights between the various ethnic groups being relatively common until the coal veins dried up and industry left for cheaper labor in the Southern states leaving drugs, slum lords and welfare recipients (of all races) to pick up the pieces making the once pretty towns almost unlivable for all but the most desperate people.

 

Update: The fair has issued a brief statement on their Facebook page denouncing the flags and saying they have “reached out” to the vendor in question to rectify the situation (but hiding behind a weak excuse of “we cannot individually monitor 1200 vendors”).

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, coal region, Pennsylvania, politics | Leave a comment

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