blowing away my life

in which i explain how i got to this place, and where i go from here

So here is what happened.

So I didn’t know that at my university, I didn’t need to do a whole grad school application just to register for classes.

So I did the entire application, and my third letter of recommendation took a *full year* to get his done. Seriously. From January 2011 to December 27, 2011 to turn his in. I finally took a stamped, addressed envelope (the kind that seals with a sticker instead of a lick) to his office just to get him to mail it. I figured he could use the one from the last time I applied to a grad school and just change the date and name of school. So it arrived at the school on January 2, and classes started January 2, 2012.

And so I was really late in registering, but I got the two classes I needed. But I was *so* late in registering, that I didn’t get my financial aid transferred very timely. And I didn’t have any money to buy my books. So it was four weeks later when my daughter’s Parent PLUS loan came in that I was able to buy my books. By that time, I was pretty far behind in both classes. My own financial aid arrived about eight weeks into the semester.

I was able to make up one class entirely, but the other class, I still had a couple of back assignments from the start of the semester that I hadn’t completed. I talked to my teacher, and she said, “Well, why don’t you just drop the class? It seems to be stressing you, trying to make it up?” I thought about it for a couple of days, and I decided just to give in and do that.

Obviously I wasn’t thinking very clearly. Because at the end of term, I was given “Unsatisfactory Academic Progress” by the financial aid department. And this was after registering for classes and working successfully the next semester– in fact, so far into the next term, that I was unable to withdraw. (I wasn’t informed until a Monday, and the withdraw date was on the previous Friday.) So I am now liable for the entire bill of $3240 that I can’t pay without financial aid, and I have two Fs on my grade sheet.

But wait: It gets better. Because I have this outstanding and overdue bill of $3240 from my university and am blocked from further PLUS loans, and my marginal credit score is now trashed, I also cannot take a PLUS loan for my daughter. So here she is at her university, and she has taken the max Pell grant, the max sub and unsub Stafford loans, and the max extra unsub Stafford loan that you can get when your parents are deadbeats and can’t take a PLUS loan for you, and she’s still $1675.26 short on her housing bill. And she can’t register for classes for next semester until that is all paid. And in June 2011, my ex-husband was successful in having the child support reduced from $914 a month to $137. So obviously I can’t be using that to pay it. And I remain unemployed. So I won’t be using my income to pay it, either.

Meanwhile, because my oldest daughter’s employer went *A FULL YEAR* without paying her, my financial aid in March 2012 went to paying bills instead of paying the mortgage (figuring I’d catch up when the next financial aid came in June, which, of course, it never did.) So now the house is in foreclosure, too. Oldest daughter got a different job, where they actually pay her, so at least we have electricity, Internet, water, heat, etc. But in the meantime, the “Sell By” date on the house is coming up fast, and we have nowhere to go, no money to rent, and no money to save the house.

To add insult to injury, the 38-year-old Maytag washer broke, so now we have to keep going to the laundromat and spending cash there. And the car needs $400 of brake work and $300 of tires to make it winter-safe.

Life was so simple when I had nothing. I had a lot less for people to take away, back then.

State of the Household Address

So my oldest brother, he’s the financial genius in our family, it’s true. He always wants to see a net worth statement. Of course, I never have one ready, because I’m not worth anything. Financially. My middle brother, the attorney, knows a thing or two about money, too. Last time I asked him for advice, he asked for a net worth statement, also. I started getting one together, but gave up. Now it’s the state mortgage help people who want one. So I figured I would put one together here, then transfer it to the piece of paper I need to fax to them. That way, I can think it through as I’m doing it, and have a lot less Wite-Out on the page when I am done. Also, I figure I’ll write out some poverty basics while I’m at it: What constitutes the poverty line in our state and country today. That way, I’ll have a better idea of where I am than I do at this moment of abject panic. So, here goes. In 2012, What is Poverty for a Family of Two? Our current income is $3,042 (child support) per year. This was, of course, to be augmented by my financial aid, which would have brought us up by $18,00 for a total of $21,042. I received one such payment, so the total income for 2012 thus far is $2273 (child support) + $6,000 = $8,273. For six months and two people. *If* that were to carry out through the year, it would be $16, 546. But you’ll recall  that I did not receive summer financial aid, and now I have $3,240 in a bill to the university instead. Argh.

  • Medicaid: $15,132
  • Food Stamps: $19,198
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance:  $22,065
  • Earned Income Tax Credit: $36,052 (single head of household with one dependent child)
  • Housing Assistance: Low-Income (80%): $41,400 – Very Low-Income (50%): $25,850 – Extremely Low-Income (30%): $15,550
  • Federal poverty guideline for 2012: $15,130
We are definitely below the poverty line by all accounts.


  • House (assessed value): $125,000
  • Car (Kelly’s Blue Book value): $716
  • Cash on hand and in bank: $2.53 in the vacation jug; $4 in quarters for doing the laundry this week; 28 cents in the door handle of the car; and $31.65 in my checking account at the moment, before the child support of $117 comes in and I can pay the City water and trash bill. So, cash on hand today: $38.56.


  • Mortgage (principal balance): $86,725.38
  • Debt to parents’ estate: (Unknown). Brother reports that after so many years, this bill, too, has been written off. I am both grateful, and ashamed.
  • University bill: $3,240
  • Student Loans: $158,000

Recurring Bills:

  • Cable/Internet: $114.58
  • Phone:  $87.70
  • Electricity: $117.00
  • Gas: $47.00
  • City (Trash, water, sewer): $30.00
  • Web hosting: $9.95
  • NetFlix: $16.54 (shared)
  • Mortgage: $986.00
  • Auto insurance: $61.43

Bad Debt (really old debt for some reason not cleared in the bankruptcy):

  • AT&T: Well, I called AT&T and CenturyLink about this one, but it is now so old that they don’t even have the records anymore.
  • Drum Corps: I called about this. The bill is so old, they’ll have to dig it up and call me back.
  • Medical: What a mess. Turns out the bills connected with my name were actually supposed to be charged to the girls’ father. And the bills supposed to be mine were charged after my bankruptcy to my ex-husband, because we were married at the time of my bankruptcy. So– no bills for me there.
  • Medical clinic: Went for a checkup and was given this bill as a surprise, from 2009: $101.60
  • Cleaning Company (basement): $872.38
  • Hanger Prosthetics (orthotic shoes): $482.00
Nothing ever makes me feel so poor as looking at our monthly income. Well, nothing so much as when I went in for an annual review and the income maintenance worker asked for income information, and I told her the small child support amount and she asked, “What are you living on?” and then answered herself, “Not much!” So that’s why it seems like things are so tight. They really are.
Sucks to be me.
Needless to say, if there’s an offer of free food anywhere, any place, anytime, I’m there. Even if I don’t want or like it. And I could skin my daughter every time she gets up in the morning before me and scarfs down an entire bowl of soup (that was supposed to be for dinner) instead of eating a small bowl of cereal to get her through to lunch.
And today (this was in August) my car is showing how near it is to death. We drove to a nearby (15 miles) town for my daughter to enroll in college. The car couldn’t go more than a half-mile or mile without stopping and needing to be turned off, then restarted. All.the.way.there. It’s supposed to be over 100 degrees by the time we drive home. I have no idea how we’ll get back. When it dies– it’s done for. I have no way to replace it.
Update: My mother offered me $500 in addition to whatever I could get for scrapping my current car, so I could buy a different one. Called my good, trustworthy car guy. He said $300 for my car was a best-case scenario, and he had a car he was working on, a really big full-size car, would be about $1300– which is, of course, $500 more than my best-case scenario. I called my mom and updated her. He also said that $800 was going to get me another in-towner just like I already have. Which doesn’t surprise me, since my ex-husband went through quite a series of those– a Hyundai, a Dodge, a Saturn– that all cost around $500-$1000 and lasted less than a year before having to be junked. And the last four cars I had– a Dodge, two Chevys and a Daewoo– I drove until they all went to the junkyard. The one I have now cost $3500 when I got it, and about $10,000 to fix it up since I got it in 2009. So a replacement for it would be a no-go.
So now we’re in October. Car feels better now that it is cooler, so I’m able to go visit my mom and help her pack for moving. And work on her computer. I’m looking in desperation for a job. The foreclosure is moving forward; I have about four months until eviction. The child support adjustment that I’d requested in February came through in September (increased to $514/mo.), but my ex- is contesting it, so we have to go to court in a couple of weeks. He apparently doesn’t think he should have to pay it.  My 38-year-old washing machine died. No replacement on the horizon. I go to the laundromat once a week to wash laundry, then bring it home to dry. This will suck come winter.
I’ve been at low economic points in my life. But this is the lowest.

Learning to Move On

My youngest daughter was three when my mom said to me, “Let me take her for a day and I’ll bring her back potty-trained.” Well, I was working full-time, going to school full-time and was a single parent of three, including one S&P autistic, so I said, “Sure!” because I am no dummy. When they came home at the end of the day, my little one said disdainfully, “I don’t need diapers anymore,” and with that, the diaper pail went out with the trash the next day. She never had an “accident” again. At the time, I felt relief, mostly, after eight years of diapers and wipes and smelly bags of trash. But it was a little bittersweet, too, because it meant that the infant-raising part of my life was over. No more teeny little ones.

A year and a half later, at the age of four and a half, she came to me asking to nurse. I said, “Well, nursing’s kind of a baby thing, and you have to go to your dad’s for visitation this weekend, so maybe we should stop.” She said, dubiously, “Well, okay…” and wandered off. When she returned on Sunday evening, she’d forgotten how. And that’s how weaning works. After eleven years of being pregnant and/or nursing, I felt very sad to be giving up that close relationship. But it was time to move on.

Two years after that, I had remarried, and my husband and I made the decision for a vasectomy, because of the problems I’d had during the youngest one’s birth. As he completed the operation, the doctor remarked, “And now, no more kiddos.” It was the right decision, of course, and I had no desire to have another baby and die, but I still felt sad as that chapter of my life closed further still.

In 2008, I had an endometrial ablation, which, if you are not familiar with the procedure, is a surgical intervention by which the lining of the uterus is removed so that the heavy bleeding that often occurs at perimenopause is stopped, along with most fertility. It was done to curb the bleeding, and insurance paid for it. It was the right decision at the time. But there were a few things I didn’t understand prior to doing it, and I didn’t really think through the consequences before I had the surgery done. It sounded so easy in the pamphlet, and pain was never really discussed, so I thought it would be a breeze. Some women have it done under regional anesthetic, like an epidural, after all! And the little biopsy they do beforehand sounded like nothing: “We just take a little sample of the cervix, it only takes a minute, just in the office a day or two before, make sure you don’t have cancer first, that’s all.” I didn’t realize what the entire endometrial ablation procedure actually involved (a wand is inserted and expanded, and the insides of the uterus are microwaved to cause a burn, which then makes the lining die and slough off.) I didn’t realize just how long afterward fluid and material would continue to flow from the burned, wounded uterus. And I had no idea of the emotional toll it would take. The biopsy hurt like an SOB (after all, the cervix is where the pain of both monthly cramps and labor come from!) No amount of pain reliever seemed to help it. Immediately following the surgery, I felt fragile and damaged emotionally. My husband had already admitted he’d been cheating on me for months. I felt unattractive and fat. And now I was pouring fluids and burned material from my nether regions. I felt like less of a woman. And it suddenly occurred to me: I will never again be a biological mother to a baby. No longer was I fertile. Now I was useless, spent and moving from vibrancy to obsolescence.

As the years have gone on since then, I’ve accepted that loss of fertility and youth do not make me less of a woman, they just mean that I’ve moved on to a different phase of my life. I still have breasts and long hair and soft skin, and I still do motherly things without thinking: Pick up an extra napkin at the burger joint in case my companion forgot one; carry diaper wipes in my purse in case somebody needs to get dirt off their face or fingers or the dash of their car; rock and pat somebody else’s worried cat at the vet’s office. No longer being thirty, I have the extreme advantages of wisdom, patience and experience to guide me, where once it was sheer terror and blind optimism that propelled me through my days.

And now I come to a new juncture in my life: I have lived in this home longer than I have lived anywhere in my entire life, including with my parents. I have lived in this city only second to the little town I grew up in (17 years there as opposed to here, 14). I have been in this house for 11 and a half years. The thought of leaving it makes me feel sick. I try to think of the positives: Paring down my earthly goods to only what I need will be good for me. It is wasteful for a single person to live in such a big house. Other people need these things more than I do. A big house like this is too expensive for me, especially in terms of heating and cooling. This house, with its proximity to good schools and located on a quiet street, is perfectly located for a family with school-aged children, which I no longer have.

But I feel bereft about losing my possessions. I don’t want to part ways with some of my things. Maybe this is because, with the autism, change is especially hard, particularly when one does not choose the change oneself. Also, I don’t want to give up my sense of self, my privacy, and things like the ability to choose who to have over and when. I want to be an adult! not go back to being a child where people tell me what I can and cannot do. All these social services come with an enormous amount of strings. (I won’t be allowed to have my children stay overnight without permission; no one will be able to eat a meal with me; every penny that I have incoming, whether gift, loan,earned, or found on the sidewalk, has to be accounted for and documented.)

I know it’s important to come to a place of peace about this, but dang. This is hard.

No place left in this world

There is no place left for me in this world.


When I was a little girl…

When I was a little girl, all the toys I had in the world fit into one cardboard box. And all my clothes fit into one tall chest of drawers.

Chest of drawers

I had one single bed, two pairs of shoes, a handful of small dolls. I had one shelf of picture books and a tape player that had one tape to listen to as I went to sleep. I suppose I was typical for a child of my time. I had a pet cat, and my brother had a wiener dog.


As I grew, I accumulated more stuff. I collected rocks, books, objects of scientific curiosity (cotton bolls, crab exoskeletons, carefully preserved moths captured by my father, weird things my brothers discarded), ceramic cats, more dolls, and piano music. I became interested in horses, and collected books, magazines, horse paraphernalia, plastic figurines, and two actual horses.

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I was terrifically sentimental, and by the time I was fourteen, I’d begun scrap-booking. There wasn’t any craft industry for that back then, so I used acidic construction
paper and rubber cement in a cumbersome, over-sized newsprint album bought at the dime store for a few dollars. I had boxes and boxes of movie stubs, computer printouts,  programs from school concerts and plays, you name it, I saved it. Popcorn boxes. Dead roses.
It was all in there. Periodically I went through the boxes and examined all the objects, feeling nostalgic and weepy over all the good times that were now in the past. I wrote letters to the people with whom I had shared these experiences, phoned them if they were local, and wrote in my daily journal.

I constantly curated my collection of crap. By the time I graduated from high school, I went to college, again, with very little. Just one tiny closet of clothing, a handful of books, a stereo, a journal, a few knickknacks I couldn’t do without, and my all-important address and phone book. I left a little at my parents’; a few clothes, my box of sentiment; my piano; objects that were graduation gifts or other gifts that I didn’t want but didn’t know how to diplomatically ditch. As I moved from place to place (eighteen times during one particularly horrible year,) almost everything I owned fit into the back of a station wagon. By the time I moved out of state, I had only what I could carry with me on the bus.

Greyhound Bus, ca. 1984

From there, I accumulated a little bit more each year. Three years on, I got married, and we began accumulating stuff together. We moved from a tiny one-bedroom apartment to a larger two-bedroom apartment, and then to another larger still two-bedroom, and then another, and then a very large two-bedroom duplex that we lived in for almost six years. And when you have space, you fill it with furniture and junk and books and stuff you just can’t say no to, because you have the room. Such as babies. We had two in that house (literally, in that house), and babies come with stuff. Lots of stuff. So now we had two more little accumulators. The first thing we did was to go out and buy lots of books for them because, of course, we counted wealth not in money or cows, but in books, and we wanted our babies to be rich. And this continued throughout their growing years.


The consequence of this, of course, was that we moved first to a three-bedroom home and began filling that up, and then to another three-bedroom home (which prompted us to add a third child, as well), and we filled that with too many toys, too many books, and too much furniture. Then with the divorce, some things left; one-fifth of the books,    some of the furniture, all of his personal effects. But there were still four people in the house who all had too much stuff.

Then with my second marriage, we had a giant influx of tons of stuff with my pack rat second husband. He brought boxes of books, memorabilia, curiosities… furniture. And the really distressing part was that he was even more sentimental than me. He saved everything. So the cute little three-bedroom home that I’d bought was rapidly stuffed to the gills with my own years of accumulation, and three children’s worth of stuff, plus all of his copious amounts of stuff. When we parted ways eight years later, the house nearly sighed with relief. Two years later, it sighed again as one daughter and all of her things moved out.

Currently, the house is waiting to be relieved of a second daughter and all of her things. As the house is now in foreclosure, I have been giving away, selling and recycling as much as I can, trying to downsize as much as possible. I don’t think I’ll ever get back to the point where everything I own will fit into the back of a station wagon again soon, but I can see fitting back into a two-bedroom apartment or smaller house.

My mother is moving from a small two-bedroom apartment into a single room in a house. She is condensing her things into an ever-smaller cube, from a supernova into a white dwarf into a neutron star. And I am attempting to do the same thing. In losing this house, I am forfeiting the luxury of being able to be a soft place to land for my children. They will not be able to stay with me for a few months while they get back on their feet in their 30s. They will not be able to store their stuff with me for a few years, as I was fortunate to be able to do with my parents, and with my brother in his roomy Victorian.

So here I am, caught between trying to consolidate my own things, and stuck storing my child’s stuff until she can find a job and get her own place, and trying to help my youngest consolidate her stuff so that she has just what will fit into the back of a station wagon. Her life is just beginning; it has not begun to explode. And mine is winding down. How odd it is, to be nearly fifty, unemployed and living like a college student. Who knows where any of our paths will go from here?

Take It As a Sign

I was born in the Chinese Year of the Rabbit.

Occupying the 4th position in the Chinese Zodiac, the Rabbit symbolizes such character traits as creativity, compassion, and sensitivity. Rabbits are friendly,

Chinese zodiac sign Rabbitoutgoing and prefer the company of others. They also prefer to avoid conflict. In confrontational situations, Rabbits approach calmly and with consideration for the other party. Rabbits believe strongly in friends and family and lacking such bonds can lead to emotional issues.

Their serene nature keeps Rabbits from becoming visibly upset. Because they’re serene animals, Rabbits are easily taken advantage of. Their sensitive nature makes them shy away from aggressive or competitive situations. They’re overall conservative and not interested in taking risks.

Classy, sophisticated, expressive, well-mannered and stylish, those born under the Sign of the Rabbit enjoy leaning about cultural issues and learning about people from other countries. Rabbits are most comfortable being home, and their homes are always neat and organized. Home is also where Rabbits prefer to entertain. Rabbits are conservative in their decorating tastes.

Rabbits should work at building more self-confidence and self-worth so they can feel more secure. The desire for remaining in safe, comfortable environments keeps Rabbits from taking risks which sometimes causes them to miss out on good opportunities.

From Chinese Zodiac Signs – Year of the Rabbit

Chinese Sign Rabbit

Timid and attractive, the Rabbits of the Chinese Zodiac tend to act more like bunnies, whether they like it or not! This Sign is extremely popular and has a wide circle of family and friends. Its compassionate nature leads it to be very protective of those it holds dear, but where romance is concerned, the Rabbit’s sentimentality can lead it to idealize relationships. The sweet, sensitive Rabbit often ends up giving more of itself to a partner than is realistic or healthy. The good news is, when this Sign goes off-balance, the Rabbit’s core group of friends and its stable home life help bring it back to center. The Rabbit is a rather delicate Sign that needs a solid base in order to thrive. Lacking close, supportive friends and family, the Rabbit might just break down in tears at the first sign of conflict. Emotional upsets in this Sign’s life can even lead to physical illnesses. Rabbits dislike arguments and other conflict and will try anything to avoid a fight; this results in something of a pushover nature. Rabbits can also lapse into pessimism and may seem stuck in life — often to mask their insecure natures. Rabbits tend to move through life’s lessons at their own, rather contemplative pace; it’s a waste of time to become exasperated with this Sign’s seeming disinterest in facing its problems and conquering them. With the right partner — meaning someone whose high principles won’t allow it to take advantage of this sensitive, giving Sign — the Rabbit can make an incredibly loving and protective partner or family member. Rabbits love to entertain at home and always make sure their house is comfortable and tastefully furnished. What Rabbits need most is a stronger sense of self-worth and the security that comes with it. Their discerning natures, coupled with some hard-won assertiveness, will help these happy creatures go far.


In light of this, it should surprise no one that I am a little tentative and timid, and I’ve never been a risk-taker.

When I was a little child, I spent a lot of time underneath furniture, hiding from adults. They terrified me. I was always doing my best to make myself invisible. I told people apart by their ankles and shoes. My siblings were a lot older than me– fifteen, thirteen, and five years older– so I grew up mostly in isolation. I never played with more than one or two friends at a time. Reading was my favorite activity. I couldn’t say the word “butt” to my teacher, even when a boy hit me on mine with a rubber band.  When I had my first period at age thirteen, I had to write a note to tell my mother. I was always a victim of bullies, and in my senior year, someone stole my very private journal during lunch at school, and I never saw it again.

As I became a parent myself, I learned to advocate for my children. I learned to stand up for them, even when I couldn’t stand up for myself. I taught them to be self-confident and assured, to the best of my ability, and to have good self-esteem. While I didn’t want them to be risk-takers, I did want them to be able to take opportunities as they arose.

Still, when people offer to trash-talk my daughters, as my family sometimes does, I am not always able to stand up for them and refuse to go along. And when they trash-talk me, I usually retreat, either agreeing with them, or dissolving into tears. I like to be shown and taught– but even a hint of harsh in the criticism will break me down in tears.

So it’s very seldom that I ever stick my neck out for anything. It came as a surprise to me how much I enjoy travel, once I was medicated for the anxiety. I had a friend who asked me to join him as he flew all over the United States, and for a couple of years I did that. I enjoyed flying and driving hundreds of miles, seeing new places, enjoying new sights and foods and people. I’ve visited 39 states, and visiting the rest is on my bucket list.

I’ve stuck my neck out for love a couple of times, with uniformly disastrous results. The first time, I had a male friend that I had known for a few years. We’d made out and I knew he was a good kisser. He’d gotten married and divorced; we’d become pen pals and I was his confidante. I wrote to him, an impassioned letter telling him of my desire for him and my longing to deepen our relationship. He never wrote me again, but he did tell a mutual friend that my letter “embarrassed” him, and he was “horrified” to receive it.

So at the age of 26, I learned not to share those intimate feelings with anyone.

The next time I tried, I was 38. This guy I hadn’t known for very long, just a couple of months, but we had spent hours and hours kissing and touching. We were cuddled up in a tent in the woods, no one around. I’d been married; I had three kids, and now I was divorced. I’d been around the block by this time, and my body knew what all that kissing and touching usually led up to. So in a low and husky voice, I explained my feelings and ventured a touch in a more intimate place, only to have him stop my hand and say a vehement “No!” I was so embarrassed, I fled from the tent and took off into the woods on a long hike, so complete was my humiliation.

I saw my psychiatrist this week. She asked how things were going, and I told her about the dilemma with my crush: To tell, or not to tell, that is the question. I told her I wasn’t willing to stick my neck out, and gave her the above two examples of reasons why I was unwilling to do so. She asked me if I always leapt into things like that. So I explained how I got engaged the first time:

My boyfriend and I had been living together for three years. My mom was being a real nag about it, saying, “What are we supposed to tell our friends, that you are living in sin?” I would call and say, “What would you like for your birthday, Mom?” and she would say, “An engagement announcement.” I would call and say, “What would you like for Christmas, Mom?” and she would say, “A wedding invitation.” It was becoming really annoying. So finally I said to my boyfriend, “I’m sick of this. Either you have to marry me, or I’m moving out.” He went to church, and when he came back, I was cooking dinner in the kitchen. He said, “You wanna?” I said, “I s’pose,” and we were engaged. How romantic. And it set the tone for the whole sucky marriage.

Psychiatrist’s response: “Maybe that was a little too logical. So how did you get engaged the second time?”

Well. That one I wrote poetry about.

I picked him out of a catalog of men on an online dating site. He was everything I’d ever dreamed: Smart, funny, handsome (in my view, anyway), literate, educated… we liked a lot of the same things. We’d only known each other three months when we went to my cousin’s wedding, and there, got the idea to get married ourselves. Two weeks later, we were. He proposed on a country road where we’d pulled over to look at the stars, and he was laying with his head in my lap. It was a wildly romantic time; he wrote the whole service for the wedding, I baked the cakes, my friend brought the flowers. There was nothing logical about that.

In the end, an outside event forced my hand. A man I’ve known for a few years called to say that he’d be in town this weekend, and would I like to hook up? I didn’t want to say yes if there was even a chance I could be with my crush, but I just didn’t know. So I had to ask. And the answer was– no. But it wasn’t a soul-crushing no; it was a “No, you’re too valuable as a friend” no. And the next evening, my crush and I went out together as usual and engaged in good conversation as usual, and everything is right with the world.

A Love Note

In 1997, I met a guy. A friend of a friend, somehow this guy found me. He liked my sense of humor and subscribed to my humor list, and we got to be friends. Then we started talking on the phone. A lot. I mean, a lot-a lot. Wow, I thought he was great! He was educated, smart, funny, an excellent story-teller, really good-looking, he had it all– and he had money, too. He took me to this really expensive restaurant (the kind without prices on the menu) and he ordered two bottles of wine, and told me to have whatever I liked, and we finished it all over the course of four hours.  When it was Valentine’s Day, he sent me chocolate truffles and a beautiful red rose. On Mother’s Day, an expensive bouquet of flowers flown from California. He sent me books, anything he thought I might like to read. Sometimes romance novels, sometimes humor. He sent me gifts of other sorts, like computer hardware. He sent me newspaper clippings he thought I’d enjoy. I basked in the warm glow of his attention. I thought we were dating. But apparently not, because after a few years of this, he announced his engagement and impending wedding. To someone who was not me. I was stunned: How could I have read the signs so wrong? Or did he truly lead me on?

One of the clippings he sent was about oxytocin, the “love” hormone. It promotes feelings of attachment and love, and figures into labor, birth, and nursing a baby as well as sexual climax and feelings of affection toward a partner. Well, I must just be bubbling over with the stuff, because I get very attached and very easily. I love my children so much it hurts. I’ve been “in love” twice in my life, both bad choices, but I loved them each so, so much.

I never become obsessed with unobtainable people: I never went after the high school football stars, or movie stars or other celebrities that I had nothing in common with. I had a little problem with one therapist and transference (seriously, Dude, you should wait till you’re old and ugly to become a therapist, because I cannot be the only female client you have had with this problem.) Honestly, though… I do have two character quirks that set me up for occasional heartache: The ASD characteristics of communication errors  (which promote misunderstanding) and obsessive thoughts (which means my brain gets stuck on something and then can’t give it up.)

So I have this friend. We’ve been friends for years. This friend has never shown the slightest bit of interest in me as anything but a friend. I, on the other hand, have looked at him more than once and thought, “Knowing what I know about you, I’ll bet you are really great in the sack.” And that’s as far as it has ever gone. We hug when we meet and part, the same as I hug all my girlfriends (because I am a huggy person with people I know well.) Oh, we talk about stuff, like friends do. We share about our past relationships, and, when we’ve each been involved in them, our current ones.

So WTF is wrong with me, that totally out of the blue over the last week, I have developed the mother of all crushes on this friend? Can’t stop thinking, daydreaming and obsessing. One day, we’re chatting over nothing as usual, and the next day, I’m thinking, “Take me! Take me now!” every time I see him. It’s stupid.

We have a great friendship; in lieu of a husband or father, he’s been the adviser I’ve needed so desperately these last few months. I can always count on him for sound advice. I wouldn’t jeopardize this friendship for anything. And intimate encounters are easy enough to find. What we have is far more valuable.

What happened last week, then? It’s like the world tilted, and suddenly I want to pass him a note that says, “Do you like me-like me? Or do you just like me?” like some middle school kid with a crush on the cute boy in Social Studies.  With a surfeit of oxytocin flooding through my veins, I am left daydreaming and stoned, unable to complete even the simplest of tasks, because all I want to do is think about my crush.

Maybe I have an oxytocin-producing tumor that is producing all this feeling.

I am too old for this crap.

As for my friend, he doesn’t see himself as the object of anyone’s desire.

And to that, my dear, I have a response:

You're somebody's reason to smile

What the Hell is Wrong With You?

When my daughter was born, she was different from her older sister. I figured, well, everybody tells you that the second one will be the complete opposite of the first. But still, she was so different… I thought maybe something was wrong with her sense of smell. Or maybe she didn’t like me. She never looked at me while she was nursing. In fact, she tried to turn her head away while she was attached. I asked the pediatrician. He said there was nothing wrong with her, and “Where did you read that? Mother magazine?” She was slow to walk, fifteen months, whereas her sister had walked at ten months. I thought maybe it was because she had spent so much time in the playpen because we were moving and unpacking and living in a house that was not baby-proofed for a while. She somersaulted before she could walk. She didn’t talk. She repeated what was said to her (echolalic speech), but she didn’t generate speech, or she spoke in metaphor. “The grass is green” meant “okay”. If you said to her, “What is your name?” she repeated, “What is your name?” She walked on her tippy-toes. She had biting, head-banging, self-mutilating tantrums that could last four to five hours. She overturned every piece of furniture in the living room, excepting the piano, and she did manage to move that, at age two. She could not follow simple commands (“Take the phone to Daddy”) that her ten-month-old sister could. She could, however, put anything into spectral order, and, in fact, insisted on doing so. Her t-shirts in her drawer, for example. At age two, she folded all her own laundry and put it away herself– in spectral order. By age three, she knew so much about the planets, she could write each of their names (spelled correctly), she could put them in the correct order, and she could draw a representative picture of each that was recognizable with distinguishing characteristics. But she was not really talking or toilet-trained, and there were those tantrums. Sometimes, I would take her by her little shoulders, look into her eyes and give her a little shake, and say, “What the hell is wrong with you??” Our behavioral pediatrician treated her for Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She treated her for ADHD. She got fed up with me asked what was wrong with my child, and sent me to first to the audiologist, and then to the speech pathologist to have her speech and hearing checked.In our state, we have an educational system that provides for early childhood screenings for developmental health. They check children’s height, weight, speech, hearing, and mental development. This is free of charge, and they do it every two years during the summer. If there are concerns, then additional checks are done. At the time, they provided full team evaluations in cases such as my daughter’s. This was in 1996, and back then, certain developmental delays were only just beginning to be recognized. They found enough developmental delays with my daughter to be concerned, and assigned a team to evaluate her. A few months later, we had the results: Pervasive Developmental Delay – Not Otherwise Specified. PDD-NOS. I didn’t understand. I turned to the Internet. Plain English: PDD-NOS is one of the five diagnoses on the autistic spectrum. The A word? My daughter had autism? My perfect, beautiful baby had autism? I, like most of the rest of the population, thought PDD-NOS = retarded. But she was so smart! She was able to write! She could read a little! She could draw the planets! The team had told me that she was mildly to moderately retarded, with an IQ of 80 (average is 100, genius is 140). They told me she would never graduate from high school, and I should plan on her living with me for the rest of my life.  I couldn’t believe it. When I looked in her eyes, there was somebody in there.

Temple Grandin’s talk at TED 2010.

Temple Grandin’s talk at TED 2010.

So, at least now when she was screaming and hitting and red-faced, and I looked into her face, I didn’t need to ask that question anymore. I knew what the hell was wrong with her. She had autism. We had a label. And if you have a label, you can learn about the problem, and you can learn about treatment.

And so the years passed. I learned about IEP plans. I learned about autistic behaviors. I learned about how to work with children on the spectrum. I met all sorts of professionals that worked with children on the spectrum. I met Temple Grandin. I attended meetings, seminars, conferences, and workshops.

I read, read, read all I could about autism, and later, when the diagnosis changed to Asperger’s Syndrome, I learned about that. I became quite knowledgeable about autism and its  related disorders.

As my children grew, the youngest was diagnosed with autism, and finally the oldest one was as well. And I realized that I had a lot of the characteristics, too. No, revise that: I had all the characteristics, especially if you looked back at my childhood. Tiptoe walking. Echolalic speech. Unusual play (nobody would say that dressing dolls in their original clothing and lining them up by size is the way that a typical child would play with dolls.)

Quinn, a boy with autism, and the line of toys he made before falling asleep

Quinn, a boy with autism, and the line of toys he made before falling asleep – Copyright (c) 2003 by Nancy J Price

Splinter skills (in my case, reading, just like my daughters.) Lack in social skills. Difficulty in making friends. (Kindergarten report card: “Will only play with one other child at a time.”)  Intense, obsessive interests (cats, meteorology, horses, music.) Difficulty in letting things go. In fact, if I was a child today, I would have been recognized as on the spectrum at age two, no question.

I suspect there has been more than one time in my life when my family has wanted to say to me, “What the hell is wrong with you?” and to that, I can respond, “Asperger Syndrome.”

This is not a crutch. It is a statement of fact. Learn about autism, and you will learn about me. All the problems you think you have with me, you really have with autism. Go back over the years, with the knowledge you have about autism, and you will find that the difficulty in communication is no more and no less than the problems that all persons with autism face. The truth is, because of my high IQ (and that’s tested and measured, not just me bragging), I am able to cope better than most. But add the Asperger’s to the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (not diagnosed ’til 2008) and the depression that was first diagnosed in 1982, and you can see that I have always had a plate more full than I can handle. I’m so easily overwhelmed. Even now, on proper medication and seeing a therapist weekly, there are so many days when I can’t crawl my ass out of bed. If I take enough meds to keep calm and able to cope, I have such difficulty getting up in the morning that most days, I don’t succeed.

Okay, let’s talk about that for a moment: What am I taking, and why? Here’s the full list:

Conditions: DIABETES; ALLERGIES: Keflex, thimerosal, caffeine, nickel, shrimp, crab, aloe, carmine, cochineal, ginger
Aspirin AM 81 MG Heart health
Buspirone AM & PM 15 MG Anxiety
Topamax PM 100 MG Anxiety
Citalopram PM 120 MG Depression
Simvastatin PM 80 MG Cholesterol
Multivitamin w/ iron AM 1 caplet Nutritional Supplement
Docusate Na AM 200 MG Constipation
Metformin AM
1000 MG
1000 MG
Zolpidem PRN – PM 10 MG Stay asleep
Trazodone PRN – PM 100 MG Fall asleep
Valtrex PRN 3 G Cold sores
Diphenhydramine PRN 25 MG Hives
Epipen PRN 0.3 MG Anaphylaxis
Prochlorper PRN 10 MG Nausea

So that is the sum total of what can be fixed with medications. There are other issues that aren’t solved by medications: I also have migraines (largely prevented by the topiramate), hypermobility syndrome (my mother’s side of the family, an autoimmune disorder related to arthritis caused by malformed collagen that allows for joints to be easily injured and for which there is no cure), asthma, and a tumor discovered in 2009 that I am supposed to just watch and see what happens. All of this makes it vital for me to maintain health care coverage. I am so grateful to the Supreme Court for upholding the Affordable Care Act! This one fact alone is what keeps me from taking little part-time jobs: If I earn too much, I lose Medicaid coverage, and if the jobs don’t offer affordable health care coverage (half my wages is not affordable!), then I can’t take them, no matter how stupid that seems to outsiders who don’t understand. The benefits of taking the job have to outweigh the liabilities.

Well, I think that is a complete catalog of what is wrong with me physically and mentally. Not making excuses for myself, I just would like to have some understanding. Things that seem stupidly simple for others are not simple for me. Decisions that seem clear-cut (and would be for a “normie”) are not clear-cut for me. I’m smart, and I should “get” things without having to be told twice. But sometimes, I’m dumber than a stump. I will not remember, for example, to offer a guest something to drink, no matter how good a friend or family member they are, or how many times they have visited. I am a social clod. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love them, and it doesn’t mean that I’m angry with them. And it doesn’t mean I’m stupid or clueless. It means I have an ASD. And I don’t refuse to carry and lift things when we are moving because I’m lazy and allergic to exercise, and I’m fat. It’s because I know that an injury to a joint will mean six to twelve months of recovery for me, and a whole lotta pain medication in between. And like I’ve said in previous posts, I don’t hang on to past painful memories because I enjoy it. I would love nothing more to put down these unpleasant associations and be stupid and blissfully happy like everybody else on the planet. But I can’t. And that, Dears, is what the hell is wrong with me.❤

Not Invited

So my mom calls me up today.

That’s okay, I was just thinking about her. She does nothing but complain about how much she doesn’t want a cat, and then my niece posts about how my mom is babysitting her cats, and she doesn’t think she’ll want to give them up at the end, or that the cats will want to go. I thought about posting a response, but I just “liked” her post instead. No need belaboring the point. But I find the lack of communication in the family amusing when it has nothing to do with me.

Then Mom gets down to the real point of her call: Let’s make Daughter feel excluded.

So apparently Brother # 3 visited this weekend. Caught five beautiful trout, so what does he do? Invites Brother # 2 and wife for supper, makes a beautiful meal and all enjoy good conversation, food and drink for an evening. And my mom feels compelled to call and tell me all about it. In great detail.

Now, it’s not unusual for any of my brothers to visit my mother without notifying me. But I had asked my mother repeatedly that if Brother # 3 came to visit, to let me know, because it’s been a year since I saw him, and I miss him. At least to my knowledge, he doesn’t outright hate me. But she chose not to do that. And then they have a get-together? And again, I’m not invited.

So a friend of mine calls me up right after this tell-all conversation of my mother’s. And I tell her about it. Her take: If she had friends that treated her like this, she’d drop ’em. Which, of course, was what sparked the whole hot mess that started with my self-esteem vampire post on Facebook in March.

I suspect that the reason I was not invited had less to do with the fact that my car wouldn’t go that far (which, regrettably, is true) and more to do with the fact that Brother # 2 is still waiting for me to apologize. If he were to read this blog, he would find that I apologize for saying anything at all on Facebook about it. I know better than that. I’ve been online since 1984, and I certainly know better than to say anything real at all in a public forum like Facebook. But I don’t apologize at all for saying that my feelings were hurt. They were, and they are, and they continue to be. I’m sorry he’s stuck with me for a sister. I’m sorry he doesn’t like me. But I am not sorry for calling him out for telling me I am stupid. I am not stupid. I may be useless because of all of my other flaws, but stupid is not one of them.

So, seriously: Why do I eat my heart out over these people who really don’t give a damn if I live or die? When I was in the psych ward, not one of them visited me. Not one of them tried to help at all. It was my friends that sent airline tickets, watched my kids, called every day, brought meals.  My family may have called while I was in the hospital– but they lifted not one finger to help.

Am I bitter? Yeah, I’m bitter.

This blog started out as a way to organize myself toward a new life. I’m going back to that, because, frankly, I can see very little to salvage in this old one. Calgon, take me away! I have had enough of this bull to last me a lifetime.

All the Whos Down in Whoville

I shocked my therapist last week. I “came out” to him as an atheist. I have been an atheist for most of my life.

When I was a little girl, my brothers and parents read to me– a lot. The library was my favorite place to go. Dr. Seuss was the most popular children’s author at the time, and among the titles read to me was “Horton Hears a Who” (1954). That story took; it stuck in my head. I thought about it, and thought about it. By the time I was seven, I realized that the Whos were a metaphor for Christianity. And that was the last time that I could believe in a Christian God. I realized, suddenly, that it was turtles, all the way down. (Reference is: “An Eastern guru affirms that the earth is supported on the back of a tiger. When asked what supports the tiger, he says it stands upon an elephant; and when asked what supports the elephant he says it is a giant turtle. When asked, finally, what supports the giant turtle, he is briefly taken aback, but quickly replies “Ah, after that it is turtles all the way down.””

I was raised in a Roman Catholic household. I was baptized shortly after I was born; I went through First Communion and Confirmation. I went to Confession on Saturdays. I went to Catholic education classes on Thursday nights. I was subjected to sexual harassment throughout the classes at the hands of an evil little toad of a classmate. I told my mother I wasn’t going anymore, and she told me that as long as I lived under her roof, I would go. So I went. And learned more about vile and violent sexual deviance than any sixteen year old girl should ever know.

I tried so, so hard to believe in God. I went to those classes, and I went to church twice a weekend, and I sang with the church choir. When I went to college, I sang at four Masses a weekend, sang with the touring musical group at the church, prayed so hard every day. And I Never. Once. Felt. It. I never felt it was real. I never felt a calling. I couldn’t believe, because the logical part of my brain kept pointing out how illogical the entire thing was.  I got married to a Catholic as a recovering Catholic in a Methodist church by an Episcopal priest with a Lutheran and an agnostic as our witnesses.

I explored alternate religions. I looked at Wicca. I looked at Neo-paganism. My husband pushed for Judaism. I subscribed to magazines and newspapers. I read, read, read. I attended services. I tried to find something in which I could believe on more than an intellectual level. Nothing ever grabbed my faith. My husband continued to go to various Catholic churches around town, never finding a parish that really suited him.

When I became pregnant with my first baby, my middle brother told me that a religious upbringing was important to children. So I tried going to church with my dad to his Anglican and Episcopalian services. People there were nice to me. They were welcoming and friendly in a way that the Catholics had never been. I told my brother. He asked why them. I said, “Because I can’t abide by the horrible things that the Catholic church has done to women over time. ” He pointed out that the Anglicans didn’t have any better a track record. Good points, I thought. So I joined with most of my friends at the Unitarian Universalist church, and there I found my spiritual home.

Now, Unitarian Universalists churches are not Christian. They were founded by Christians, in a fashion, both the Unitarians and the Universalists (they didn’t merge until 1961.) You can read about the individual churches on the Wikipedia page linked above. And before those churches were officially founded, the people that participated in them would be names with which you would be familiar: Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Quincy Adams. Yes, *those* people. The founding fathers of the United States. One of whom, John Adams, had this to say:

John Adams: "The Government of the United Statets is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

Sarah Palin vs. John Adams, President of the USA

So it absolutely makes me sick when someone swears on “The Founding Fathers” that the Pledge of Allegiance has “always” had “under God” in it, because that’s only been since 1954. Hmm, this is interesting: “The Pledge was supposed to be quick and to the point. Bellamy designed it to be recited in 15 seconds. As a socialist, he had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided against it – knowing that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. ” Bellamy sounds like a good guy. Maybe even– gasp! a Unitarian or Universalist?🙂

Anyway, I allowed my first two children to be baptized Catholic by their Catholic father and his Catholic parents. I’m sorry now that I did it. I certainly had as much right to the decision as they did. The third one, I refused. I had her dedicated at a really great UU church instead. My friend was the only one in attendance; my family was as offended as if I’d said I’d decided to make a virgin sacrifice of her. The ceremony was really sweet. Of course, I’d been to dedications before, so I knew what it would be like. Later, I had all three dedicated at our local UU congregation in a delightful ceremony in which I also became a member of the congregation. We went to church every week; my kids attended religion classes (and, consequently, know way more about the Christian religion than any of their Catholic classmates do– true facts.) We participated in community events and social concerns around our town (like park clean-ups and fundraisers and anti-war marches) and really got into the community.  My second marriage occurred at this church. Eventually, I was hired to do office and computer work there, and did for several years.

Oh, eventually the politics changed and we stopped going. But my kids have a firm and solid basis in this faith, which I owe to my brother for even suggesting. My kids are moral, compassionate and kind– more than I can say about most people their age. And this poster

The Golden Rule poster

sums up everything that I was never taught: That there is more than one path to the truth, that people believe different things, and that simply being different doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

When my third child was born, I had a near-death experience. By this, I do not mean a close brush with death where my life flashed before my eyes (as another friend had.) I mean the whole “light at the end of the tunnel” thing. I mean the whole “looking down on your body” thing. Out of body experience. Clinically dead. I wrote a paper about it. When I told my therapist, he asked why I didn’t experience a religious conversion. I didn’t because I’m not religious. Nearly dying didn’t make me more religious. Here, read the paper in its entirety:

I Died That Day

I first heard about near-death experiences in the 1970s, probably on “60 Minutes” or another news program. At the time, I was curious, but not too curious. I certainly never considered the possibility of something like that happening to me!

They, however, had long fascinated my husband. He wanted an NDE, but not enough to attempt having one. He read every book he could find on the topic, starting with Closer to the Light by Betty Eadie, to feed his intense interest.

What I mean by near-death experience, by the way, is not having a close brush with death, as in seeing one’s life flash before one’s eyes during an auto accident. I am referring to an out-of-body experience precipitated by the physiological death of the body.

My NDEoccurred when my third child was born. She was 11 lbs. 6 oz., a big baby, and my poor, over-stretched uterus was unable to contract like it must after a baby is born to stem the flow of blood. My little one was born at home, and my husband did not want me to get into the family car, as bloody as I was. The ambulance took a very long time– over an hour– to arrive, and we had waited until late to call it. I lost about three and a half quarts of blood that were measured– there was more blood on the walls, floor and bedding. The human body holds about five quarts of blood, a little more when pregnant. I had lost more than half of my blood volume. As I was lying there, I realized that I was dying. It was obvious. I kept looking at my little girls (four, two and new) and thinking, “Well, I got the three girls I wanted. And now I’m going to die and not even see them go to Prom.” And then I remember thinking how dumb that was: I never cared about Prom when it was me doing the going!

When the ambulance arrived, it carried three newEMT-Bs, the most basic of emergency care technicians. They did not want to carry me, so they tried to get me to walk to the ambulance. I realize now that the reason they didn’t want to touch me must have been a fear of all the blood and the potential diseases, such as AIDS and hepatitis, that it might theoretically have carried. I was probably already in shock at this point. I was very calm. Anyway, I stood at the side of the bed, and the next thing I remember was floating upward, fast, through the ceiling.

Then I found myself walking in a tunnel– a long, dark tunnel with fluorescent lighting and a light at the end. It looked like the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jerseydoes on television.  I was arm in arm with two young men, all dressed in black with black leather jackets. I was not afraid, just curious. If I were a religious person, I almost certainly would have experienced a religious conversion. But I am not, and I did not. It was just another interesting experience in my life. It seemed very real, and I could feel the pavement under my shoes and the coolness of the tunnel. We walked without speaking for several minutes and were about halfway down the tunnel when, all of a sudden, I was drawn backward away from the young men through the tunnel at increasing velocity, back and back and back and back until WHAM! I was back in my body again with the EMTwoman called Mouse, who breathed terrible middle-of-the-night coffee breath in my face, said, “Oh! We thought we’d lost you!” I never told her that they had.

The EMTs finally got a gurney and put me on it. They dropped me in the hallway, on the dining room floor and on the deck. They took me outside, naked, in the March rain; it could not have been over 40 degrees.  How I longed for a blanket! Yet obviously I survived the experience, and the baby is now seven, smart, healthy and growing.

I saw a program about near-death experiences on “Oprah” after I had mine. It was eerily accurate, and I liked how the presenter, neurologist Raymond Moody, carefully explained the phenomena of which people who describe NDEs speak, such as the tunnel with the bright light and the end, and so forth, in neurological terms. The descriptions were very interesting to me.

I came to the realization of what had happened to me, and just how close I had been to dying, a few days after the experience. When I finally told my husband about the near-death experience, he was apoplectic with anger. I am sure that, in part, my relating the NDE to him precipitated my divorce. He was so jealous of my having the experience he wanted that it was more than he could do to contain his rage.

But even his jealousy and the subsequent divorce cannot dim how valuable this memory is to me. I am so fortunate to be alive. If I had ever considered suicide (as I had occasionally toyed with as a teen and young adult), I would never seriously contemplate that now. Life is a gift, and I am choosing to stay a part of it.

While my ideas about death, dying and suicide have certainly changed, my ideas about what happens after death have not. I think that when you reach the end of that tunnel, everything fades away like a candle burning out and that’s it. And I’m fine with that. I don’t find it depressing. It’s just them way things are. So I don’t worry about what will happen to me after I die. I worry about what will happen to the people I leave behind. I am not sad and sorry to be an atheist. I’m glad that I am capable of rational thought, that I don’t have to believe “Iron Age fairy tales”. I find comfort in odd places. Watch this video, read the lyrics, listen to the music to understand me perhaps a little better.

(Carl Sagan’s lyrics written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan and Steven Soter)

Bertrand Russell:
When you are studying any matter
Or considering any philosophy
Ask yourself only: what are the facts,
And what is the truth that the facts bear out

Carl Sagan:
Science is more than a body of knowledge
It’s a way of thinking
A way of skeptically interrogating the universe

If we are not able to ask skeptical questions
To be skeptical of those in authority
Then we’re up for grabs

Michael Shermer:
In all of science we’re looking for a balance
between data and theory

Sam Harris:
You don’t have to delude yourself
With Iron Age fairy tales

Carolyn Porco:
The same spiritual fulfillment
That people find in religion
Can be found in science
By coming to know, if you will, the mind of God

Lawrence Krauss:
The real world, as it actually is,
Is not evil, it’s remarkable
And the way to understand the physical world
is to use science

Richard Dawkins:
There is a new wave of reason
Sweeping across America, Britain, Europe, Australia
South America, the Middle East and Africa
There is a new wave of reason
Where superstition had a firm hold

Phil Plait:
Teach a man to reason
And he’ll think for a lifetime

Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries
With questions that were once treated only
in religion and myth

The desire to be connected with the cosmos
Reflects a profound reality
But we are connected; not in the trivial ways
That Astrology promises, but in the deepest ways

Richard Feynman:
I can’t believe the special stories that have been made up
About our relationship to the universe at large
Look at what’s out there; it isn’t in proportion

Never let yourself be diverted
By what you wish to believe
But look only and surely
At what are the facts

James Randi:
Enjoy the fantasy, the fun, the stories
But make sure that there’s a clear sharp line
Drawn on the floor
To do otherwise is to embrace madness

“A Wave of Reason” is the seventh installment in the Symphony of Science music video series. It is intended to promote scientific reasoning and skepticism in the face of growing amounts of pseudoscientific pursuits, such as Astrology and Homeopathy, and also to promote the scientific worldview as equally enlightening as religion. It features Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Carolyn Porco, Richard Dawkins, Richard Feynman, Phil Plait, and James Randi.

Yes, I can reason, and I will think for a lifetime. And that is why I can’t be anything but atheist.

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