On this day in 2005, hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 storm, breaking levees, flooding neighborhoods, and killing 1,833 people. Let that sink into your head a bit. Do you remember where you were ten years ago? I do.
I was in California, watching all of this on T.V. as it happened. I was at home from my job, so it was a Monday or Tuesday. I watched and prayed for the entire city of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in general. I knew hurricanes were an annual thing which peaked at about this time, but what I learned was that the city of New Orleans was willfully unprepared for the tragedy it was facing as time wore on. There were rumors of violence in the Superdome, which were later disproved. People chanted and screamed for help. When help did finally arrive, it was almost always overwhelmed. Families were shoving and throwing their children on buses to nearby Houston and other places. I was literally numb with pain for all of those people, and due to the largely black makeup of New Orleans’ lower classes, I always wonder: if this were an earthquake in Beverly Hills, a mostly white and rich area, would the response be more effective because it was a mostly white and rich area?
We almost lost our respect for authority in those times. One rapper even said, “George Bush don’t care about black people,” which is literally untrue and the lowest point in the administration. I don’t think the problems with the Katrina disaster could have been solved through George W. alone, just like Hurricane Sandy’s problems could not be solved through Obama alone. In a disaster, it is usually a
Ten years later, I have decided to write about Katrina because I am seeing the uneven recovery that New Orleans is experiencing. Much of the Lower 9th Ward, a lower-class neighborhood, lies in ruins, while the French Quarter is better than ever. It makes me wonder if we still treat the poor like trash, when this should not be. New Orleans is rebuilding, but can it survive another Katrina? Will the government make these things sure? It shudders me to think that maybe this might not happen in time. I care a lot about the poor and disadvantaged, because they are getting frustrated again, and might turn to feared and hated ideologies in order to meet their needs. This happened in Russia; it can happen here.
I need to tell you a true story as to why I am not working in psychology, advocating for those of us autistics, as I should be:
When I was in college, my first year, I was introduced to psychology. I mean, spending your time with psychologists and psychiatrists most of your childhood? It seemed to be a natural fit. I was doing well for a while, learning and getting along, when I got the notion to share my autism with my professor. Having a psychology background, she might want to study me in the future, maybe build a friendship, perhaps? I mean, it might be an opportunity for her to make friends with a real, live autistic-you know, someone a little different. (At the time, I still thought I was a rare case, being a “high-functioning” girl, and being diagnosed at age three.) That was how I was raised, to interact with different people, and find something possibly fascinating about them.
So, I told my professor I had autism. You want to know what she did? She went “Awwwww!” as if I were something to pity and lament over. This was a terrible shock to me, because there had been no pity or woe in my world before! I mean, when I brought up that I was autistic before as an excuse, it was dismissed. It never meant I was less of a person to be pitied over, either. I did not know it then, but people putting me in a WOEFUL PITY PARTY was the basic way I would be viewed by the unknowing, and especially by those oh-so-open-minded (SARCASM!) people of Autism Speaks. Unfortunately, I still do not see myself as a person to pity and cry over. Autism is just fine to me. No worries here. Maybe some sensory issues, but I have regained my confidence, thanks to my fellow autistics and my mother, and I can deal with the world just fine.
Forgive me, public. I have been in a funk as of late. This is why you can only see reblogs, or blogs from guests, depending on which media platform you are viewing this on. I think I can finally get beyond it, knowing what it is. I heard a sermon the other Sunday which really hit home. Guess what it was on? Loneliness. I think I finally figured out why I have been in such a bad mood, and pining for a man I clearly do not need. Again, I would like a man, but need in order to survive my loneliness? Not so much. I am doing pretty well, just figuring out how to get beyond the loneliness coming from our fairly cut off existence here on the societal outside of one side of my family, and thousands of miles from any member from the other. (I’m not kidding; I’m in Kentucky, and the closest members of my father’s side are either in California or Washington.) That aside, it gets lonely for my mother and me here. I mean, back in California, where I grew up, my mother would be talking on the phone to just about anyone. We had great friends. Trouble is, we are barely getting our footing here after almost a decade in Kentucky. It has been a rough go as of the past five years. But onward and upward-I have finally figured out how to release the pain of the loneliness I have been feeling in this time, now that I know what it is.
Sometimes, concerning autism, it is difficult to make and keep friendships, especially concerning the ABSOLUTELY FALSE idea that autistics like me don’t want any friends. LIES! FABRICATIONS! SIMPLY NOT TRUE! (Okay, spazz out done for the day.) Due to the difficulty of social interaction and communication, the pain and loss of loneliness is felt much more keenly to me. We are social animals, no matter how much we seem not to be. We are not cats, people. We are not loners or islands. We are the extremely social elephant. (Did you know elephants recognize each other from previous clans they were in?) We are birds and wolves. We form tribes to survive. We autistics want to be in the tribe, though we have no idea how to cultivate that necessary relationship. (I swear the neurotypical learns relationships by osmosis-practically out of the womb.) Saying the autistic does not want relationship is like saying the dyslexic does not want to read. Relationships are hard for me, though I still want one or two outside my mother.
And that’s the problem. People think that a relationship will cure what ails you, especially a heterosexual marriage, for the woman. Romance is touted as a cure-all to women, teaching us to focus all our identity and our energy on getting and keeping men. Whether it’s nature, nurture or too much mainstream media, women fall into the trap that focusing on getting and keeping men is the way to meet all your needs. But what if the man cannot stay, I don’t know, faithful, loyal, or even raises his hands in violence towards you? How is a woman supposed to have her needs met with such opposition?
The answer is not in cultivating relationships with whomever, looking outside to fill your cup. The key is looking inside toward building relationships with yourself and your God. I can hear those of you who don’t believe in God groaning even as this comes to fruition, but it really is the answer. The God or Universe you believe in is the key to filling your cup. Let’s face it, humans are human. They have clay feet, wandering minds and a inability to actually know what you need. They cannot meet your need to connect spiritually. You need someone who can be there all the time, and I believe God can do that through the Holy Spirit. So instead of looking outside for your love and comfort, look in-or look up.
I am slowly learning the process of salvation myself.
I am very happy to be myself.
I get a lot of questions about set point theory – the idea that each person’s body has a genetically determined set point. I think it’s an interesting theory and not implausible – I do think that bodies come in varied sizes just like everything else in nature.
I think the evidence also pretty clearly shows that dieting messes with our bodies, since at least a year after dieting studies have shown that the mechanisms the body has for the express purpose or regaining and maintaining weight are still different than in someone who didn’t diet, and the majority of diets end in weight gain.
While I think this is interesting to think about, I also think that when it comes to size diversity and acceptance it’s important that we keep our eye on the ball. We have to be careful that we’re not making it sound like we have to…
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