To all who have followed #TheShortBus Flashblog, you may have wondered if you will ever see any more posts there. I hope the answer can be “yes.” I have been making changes to the blog so that people can now email me their blog posts at any time and I will post for them.
After a few other name trials, I have decided on We Took the Short Bus. The site has been navigated to this new address and I will be deleting the old one soon. Please follow the new address: wetooktheshortbus.wordpress.com.
The two of us are doing fine working alongside each other at home. We are very grateful that we can still telework and keep our jobs. We are very afraid of what will come from this when other businesses are forced to close even temporarily, and see many of our peers unable to come back to work. Not to mention further racism against Chinese and other Asian Americans, even though Asian countries are putting America and Europe to shame with how well they have handled the virus.
I do have to admit, it has been nice for me personally to stay inside more and have time to reflect on myself. The Bay Area is an erratic place to live and I am still very overwhelmed by the intensity of my commute. I never handled crowds well and I wish people always kept a huge radius from me no matter what. But it is unavoidable here even now at the grocery store. I am not sure how well I am going to re-adapt once things are “back to normal.” At least I have had plenty of time to talk things out with my new tele-therapist; someone is finally hearing me out that I may have C-PTSD, or what she calls “little-T” trauma. Although I have never experienced a single life-threatening event, I have had people repeatedly bring me down and make me wonder if my life was even worth living. My fears of social interaction are far from being irrational. I have already dealt with severe social rejection in middle school, and I have no reason not to fear it happening again in more insidious ways – even if the world is not full of 12-year-old kids, the country is literally being run by someone who behaves that age, and that is dangerous even when we are not dealing with a pandemic on our hands. I have every right to be afraid of the masses when they have allowed something like this to happen, even if the individual people are not all responsible.
Tw: bullying, inappropriate hugging, Autism moms before #AutismMoms™️
It is difficult finding positive resources for recovery when it was you yourself who has broken trusts from people whom you truly cared for. I have done bad things many years ago and I still feel remorse up to this day. Simultaneously, it has been hard learning to accept that some people will never forgive me for my past mistakes. I have even had some of our mutual friends grow apart from me without any explanation, and could not help but wonder if they took sides. As someone who has grown up with very few friends or emotional support from my family, I felt that love and friendship is something I needed more than anything. But I have had to learn the hard lesson that no one is entitled to these things from any one specific person.
Sometimes I wonder what things would be like have I grown up with more emotional support. Would I have still made the same unforgivable choices? Or would I have learned healthier ways of managing my emotions? Much of my autism advocacy actually stemmed shortly after I got suspended in 7th grade for not respecting the space of someone I had a crush on. I kept hugging him after he has politely told me to stop many times. At the time, I was just too rigid and obsessed to accept rejection. I had no idea how harmful it was not to take no for an answer. After all, my bullies also never listened to me when I asked them to stop teasing me. I have been ostracized by the entire student body for a year and a half. Teachers stood idly. My parents reminded me to act more like a normal kid if I wanted it to stop. The experience brought out the worst in me, so much that I picked up on the toxicity around me and up became a bully myself – even to someone I loved (the idea of) very much.
After warning me at least twice, the principal had to finally call me over to his office and have me disciplined for sexual harassment. When my parents were notified, they seemed more angry at the school than they were at me. They felt that I should have had a lighter sentence because “it was a manifestation of Aspergers,” and must have had others tell me to do this (not entirely, though I did have enabling “friends”). They thought that the boy and his mother were being cruel to me, and told me that this is what happens when I am classified as a weird kid. But getting called out for violating someone’s personal space is not the same thing as being bullied for being different. To set the bar low for autistic people really does a disservice, considering how many autistics are actually victims of abuse – often by other autistics hoping to get a free pass.
My family was wrong to handle this situation the way they did. They blamed my autism for me not understanding consent. But it was a lack of education. Neither my family nor the school staff have explicitly taught me about abuse in all its forms. Not all of is as extreme as beatings or rape. It includes petite women angrily slapping their boyfriends. Husband controlling wife’s finances “out of concern” for her overspending. Even when my parents insisted on always being right, never seeing things from my perspective, counted as emotional abuse.
Although I never engaged in this behavior again, I still had a lot to learn about healthy relationships. The trauma of bullying and family dysfunction were still never completely resolved even when things were getting better for me. I was not prepared for the changes in social structure as I entered adulthood. I was frustrated with isolation in the college dorms, assuming people around me once again thought I was “weird” and did not like me. I took my anger out on people who did nothing to deserve it. It wasn’t until five years ago when I finally realized that I was caught up in a cycle of abuse, repeating behaviors of toxic people around me, and that it was time for me to end it once and for all.
The Synesthete Cartoonist is still alive and thriving, just living a busy life. Will be working on my next “New Year Pacific” painting this weekend. For now, here is my 2020 orange chocolate cake and some pictures from the historic farm near me.
To all who knew me for my “number thing” in my teenage years, I have a confession to make (long post, tw bullying):
Not sure why I did it, but honestly glad I have phased it out, on my own terms. Not because it was “strange,” but because it wasn’t who I really was. I never intended my number thing to be for people in real life. It was only supposed to exist in a fictional art universe where two-digit numbers existed as cartoon animals. This was before realizing I have OLP synesthesia, or even my autism Dx.
One day in sixth grade, I called a bully “63.” Other kids started asking me “what’s my number?” I went along with it, and it became a thing. It gave me a false sense of popularity, even though I was faced with further bullying. At least I now became famous!
It carried on in high school, as a few middle school friends/acquaintances came to OCHSA with me. Everyone asked me for numbers, and even when they didn’t, I assigned them anyway. I numbered crushes I never talked to, and the people they hung out with. It helped me cope with the intense anxiety of seeing them around.
Then I started college. The first few weeks, I scrambled to meet as many people as I could. I told them I give numbers to everyone, so I numbered all of my “new friends.” As time went by, though, I found myself sitting alone at lunch nearly every day. All these “friends” I thought I made, have formed their own cliques, and trying to join was painfully awkward, so I gave up. Numbering people no longer made me special. It just made me “the weird kid”, like my family members warned me (they never fully supportive).
The whole time I did the number thing, there was always a tiresome amount of explaining to do. Questions ranged from “how do you remember all that” to “what does my number mean?” Never could really answer the latter. The best I could do was draw out a blob of colors that I associated with that number. I’m sure it wasn’t that flattering, just confusing. I tried to be thoughtful with the synesthesia connections, but the “demand” was too high. I got lazy, so I just assigned random numbers to make sure everyone felt “included.”
Over the last 5 years, I have been trying to rediscover my original “number universe” I have long abandoned ever since trying to recover from the trauma of bullying and family dysfunction. It has not been easy. Watching cartoons to remind me what inspired my characters. Reading Calvin and Hobbes. Listening to sixties music that inspired 64 and her best friend 66. Now listening to 90s music and developing 91, 92, 95, and 96.
On a random day last year driving home from work, the thought popped into my head about the types of superpowers my number animals have. Starting with a basic one-digit number 6, she starts as a solid pink house cat. Then grows into a marbled pink and white this cat, number 60. One more, and you get a pink/white tigress 600. Very similar to the way a Pokemon evolves to a larger/stronger form.
All numbers have this ability. Theoretically, an unlimited number of times. But in my universe, the two-digiters can only transform once, while one-digiters indefinitely.
My first drawn example done today. 92 becomes 920. Deer to moose. Big strong moose that can really knock out an enemy.
Meow! 🐱🐾 Say hello to 舒放 (Sue-fong) the silver tabby cat! He was gifted to me by an amazing coworker who congratulated me as I made my transition from one job to the next. I have had fun taking pictures of this plush kitty and learning some Chinese writing.
舒放 means “calm and relaxed existence.” Anyone who has cats in their homes know that describes them quite well.