Monday, 10 December 2012

Working From Home - Nooooooo!

I woke up and got ready for work as per usual and then something unexpected happened.  I couldn't get the garage door open.  A change in my routine and my whole world is out of sorts. 

I couldn't drive my car to the park and ride at the normal time and I missed my bus into the office.  Technically, I probably could get to the office.  Yes, I definitely could get there.  But the overwhelming panic feeling I feel in my chest is preventing me from doing so.  That's the frustrating part, my brain just isn't working properly.  A change in schedule and I've become non-functional. 

So, I've decided to work from home.  This should be simple.  I have everything I need - my laptop, my phone, my work calendar.  And yet, I still feel unsettled.  And I can't seem to make the feeling go away.

Logically, this shouldn't be a big deal.  But emotionally for me, this is a HUGE deal. 

Its times like these that I wish there was someone to guide me through the emotions.  Someone to help calm me down and get me back to the place where I am fully functional again.  In this moment, I just can't think straight. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Wanted: NT That Understands Aspies!

It's difficult enough navigating the social world on a daily basis.  Add a corporate office component and it becomes exponentially more difficult.  At least that's how I feel after today.

A few months ago, I was given feedback that I'm too close to "the staff."  That's a really interesting bit of feedback considering relationships are extremely difficult for me.  Initially, I was upset by this feedback.  But over time, I've taken that feedback as a compliment.  Imagine!  Real live NTs think I have developed personal relationships with "the staff."  I've come so far since the days where feedback took the form of, "you need to talk to people face to face more.  You send too many emails."  My therapist would be proud!

Unfortunately, this is where it gets confusing.  The hierarchy in the company for which I work is similar to many corporations.  Associate --> Manager --> Senior Manager --> Associate Vice President --> Vice President --> Senior Vice President --> President.  I'm an Associate Vice President.

Today, a Manager invited me and some other Managers / Sr. Managers (male and female) up to her cabin for half a day to hang out and go sailing.  Under "normal" circumstances, I would have accepted the offer based on a piece of advice my therapist gave me --- try to go to as many social events as you can tolerate, you could use more friends in your life.  But when the Manager asked me, I remembered the piece of feedback about being too close to the staff and didn't know what to do.

On the one hand, I wanted to go and feel flattered that they would invite me.  On the other hand, if leadership found out, they would perceive it differently.  More specifially, leadership operates under the assumption that I am actually friends with these individuals and wouldn't be able to separate our friendship and decisions around their performance on the job. OMG.  If only they knew!  I have Aspergers!  I've been working with my therapist for years on being more friendly and engaging in the workplace, so that people don't hate me and my cold, rigid leadership style.

What's worse is that nobody will give me a straight answer on this.  I ask one person and he feels bad that he wasn't invited.  I ask a second person and he SAYS its perfectly fine, but his body language is saying something different.  I'm not asking for emotional support and validation!  I want a REAL answer!

I know I can't go to the cabin with the Managers and Sr Managers.  The rule I have deduced from the feedback of being "too close" to the staff is that I am not allowed to go to events outside of office hours with individuals that are a lower level than me and work in my department unless it is a company sponsored event.  That's quite a rule!

The thing I don't understand is why this rule applies.  I have observed many times an Associate Vice President (in the same department) golfing with a Senior Vice President and his son outside of office hours.  Maybe its because I'm a girl?  Or maybe its because golfing is the exception?  Or maybe public locations are OK, but not private property?  I have no idea!  The Corporate NT world is SO confusing.

Someday, I hope to meet an NT that will give me a glimpse into this confusing world.  And maybe, just maybe, he or she will give me real answers to my questions.  If only they offered the class:  Socially Navigating the Corporate Environment for Aspies.  Now that would be the perfect class for me!

Sunday, 22 April 2012


I was having a conversation with WB today when the topic of knocking came up.  WB couldn't believe that someone didn't knock before coming into his office.  And that got me thinking.  What is the social norm around knocking?  I started asking him questions.  And before I knew it, WB was frustrated and irritated with me.

It was incomprehensible to WB that I didn't know the social norms around knocking.  The more questions I asked him, the more irritated he became.  While I was able to glean some of the social norms around knocking, the conversation left me frustrated.

In talking to him later about the conversation, he felt that I was questioning his behavior and trying to prove him wrong.  When in fact, I was trying to understand knocking scenarios, so that I could personally exhibit the behavior appropriately.

Its a confusing thing for me.  I wish I could explain my intent without others being frustrated with me.  I've often received the comment, "you are difficult friend, but worth it."  I can't even begin to understand what that means.

As for the knocking - I think I understand.  When approaching someone's home, you knock and wait for the person to answer.  If they don't, you leave the home.  At your own home, you knock on bedroom doors and bathroom doors when they are closed.  After you knock, you should wait a few seconds for a response. In the office (at least my office), you knock and then immediately open the door.  The person will either wave you in or have you wait a few more minutes. 

So many rules to memorize and just about knocking.  I think its time I took a nap.  I definitely know how to do that!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Emotions Make Me Uncomfortable

Its rare that I get emotional.  And its even rarer for me to have a physical response to something.  So when both happen at the same time, I'm pretty much at a loss for coping skills. 

Admittedly, I'm going through a lot right now.  I'm in the process of ending a long-term relationship AND dealing with legal issues with a big bank.  So a typical day for me at this point is some relationship drama, and at least 2 calls from the big bank using their best scare tactics.  The bank recently stepped up their game, so the nightmares have kicked in. 

I thought ending the long-term relationship would be the most stressful.  Turns out nasty calls from a big bank are more stressful to me than a break-up.  And today, I found out there is something that stresses me out more than both of those things combined. 

I was walking to lunch today and I saw her.  I'll call her Thirteen.  I actually didn't recognize her at first.  And by the time I realized it was her it was too late to look away.  Our eyes met as we passed and I shook to my core.  That was at noon.  I'm still shaking.

About 5 years ago, I found myself in a situation with Thirteen.  There was a lot of drama.  And I mean A LOT.  The drama went on for 2 years.  To make a long story short.  This woman used her leadership authority to lure me and some of my work colleagues into a web of deception.  HR was involved.  I didn't know who to trust or what to do.  And my Aspie-ness didn't help the situation.

Fast forward to today.  The moment I saw her all those feelings came flooding back.  All the lies.  And to make matters worse, Thirteen was walking with someone from my current work group.

I've been asking myself all afternoon - how can one person cause me to have such a negative emotional and physical reaction?  I'm literally shaking.  And second - should I do anything about it? My brain is in over-drive.  What could Thirteen possibly be doing with my work colleague?  Is she up to something devious?  How can I get as far away from her as possible?  And on and on and on.  I'm just overwhelmed with negative emotions.

How in the world am I supposed to cope with these emotions?  Literally.  What are action steps I can take to cope?  What do most people do in these situations?  Emotions make me uncomfortable - especially negative ones.  Do I just lie here and wait out the shaking and uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach?  Do I warn the others that Thirteen is talking with one of our work colleagues?  And will that be perceived at "gossip"?

Or maybe I should just sit back and let the feeling pass.  I just don't know. 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Goa in Pictures

GOI Dabolim International Airport

 Women wearing socks with open toed shoes.  Strange.  This is a rarity in the US.

 To the hotel I go!  Asked the driver how long it would take to get to the hotel - he said 15 minutes. Actual time elapsed?  45 minutes.  From this moment forward, I multiplied all time estimates by 3.

 Saturday Night Market in Anjuna.  This was pure craziness.  There were about 1000 shops.  No lie.  Sensory Overload!

 Really bad food at the Saturday Night Market.  Tip: Go for the shopping and experience, not the food.

Step 1:  Learn how to drive a scooter (or as they say "Scooti").  Step 2:  Explore Goa.

 Mmmm.  Fresh sugar cane juice made right before my eyes!

 Enjoying life (and a coconut milk) on Aswem Beach

 Local man selling sarongs.  I was amazed that he alone could hold so many sarongs. 

 My spot on Aswem Beach.  A little relaxation before lunch.

 Tiger Prawns at La Plage.  Wishing they would have removed their heads before serving.

 How far to Tiracol Fort?  16 km.  Actual distance? 52 km.  My multiply by 3 equation was pretty accurate!  This is the view from Tiracol Fort restaurant where I enjoyed a lovely cheese sandwich.  I think the 52 km was worth it.

 Boat near Tiracol Fort, North Goa

 Doors to the closet in my hotel room.  At first, I thought they were a nice touch.  By the end of the stay, I was completely annoyed with them.

Lodging in Anjuna, North Goa which I highly recommend.  Talk to Thomas.  He'll hook you up!

 Dosa or Dosai?  Doesn't matter.  Always good.

 This dude took me parasailing on Baga Beach for $10.  I was a bit concerned about safety.  How could this cost only $10?!?  But once he gave me a life jacket, it was all good.

 Baga Beach
A much different experience than Aswem Beach, that's for sure!

 Lunch at Brittos.  Mmmmm.  Crab.

 I was fascinated by these flowers.  The owner of the resort caught me staring at them more than once.  Embarassing!  The colors are random on each bunch.  Just think of the genetics!

 Curlie's Dance Club.  On my first attempt to find this place, I ended up back at the place I started.  Asked for directions... Oh! LEFT at the Baskin Robbins!  Tried again and made my way down a dark desolate sandy road.  It was worth it!  The view was fantastic and then there was the trance music.  The Trance Music!!

 Why does my breakfast toast look like a T-shirt?

 The "American" Breakfast.  Ummm.  Nothing on this plate looks American.

 Cab driver kept telling me I had to buy the River Cruise Tickets at the Kaju Palace.  Huh?  This seemed weird to me. I would expect to buy Cashews at the Kaju Palace - not River Cruise tickets.

 An offering for the gods

 Elephant Rides at the Spice Plantation.  While I was taking this picture, a certain boy started whistling at me.  I ignored him, naturally.  Seriously.  I'm not an animal!

 Bridge to the Spice Plantation. I heart bridges.

 Baby Pineapple!
Its protected by the wiring, so the monkeys don't destroy it.  One thing I learned on the trip.  Male pineapples taste a bit sour compared to female pineapples.  No surprise there!

 Female Uterine Tonic.  Really?

 Smiling Dog.  Took a wrong turn down a dirt road and this dog started coming toward me.  Thankfully, he was smiling and wagging his tail.

 Goan Tourist Clothing.  Male tourists in Goa would buy these matching shirt / shorts outfits and wear them around...TOGETHER.  It was quite the look.  This is where you can buy them.

 Goan Water Balls

View from my room.  I highly recommend this resort as well.  You can walk to the beach from your cottage.  And the views during dinner are fantastic.

 My cottage at Ozran Heights Beach Resort.  I spent many nights sitting on those chairs watching the Goan sunset.

 Country cows with their bird friends.  For some reason, the cows in Goa always seem to have a bird friend with them.  At first I thought it was just one, but I saw the cow + bird pairs again and again as I explored Goa.

 Kinda hard to find this place.  But worth it.  A seat on the upper level is quite nice.

 My seafood platter at Infantaria.  Kingfish slice, shrimp, squid and calamari.  Yuuuummmmm!

 Big Vagator Beach.  I found this beach while exploring Goa one morning.  In Goa, it seems there's a beautiful surprise around every corner.

 Caprese Salad.  Need I say more? 

 The symmetry of this plant was quite captivating.  I had to take a picture.

My last Goan Sunset.  *Sigh*

Friday, 13 January 2012

I Wish You Could Be More Sympathetic

2:20 pm.  HK leaves me a voicemail telling me he got a speeding ticket and that his driver's license was expired.  It expired in July.  Voicemail says to call him back.

2:45 pm.  I Call HK.  He tells me he just wanted to let me know he got a speeding ticket and that his license was expired, so he got a ticket for that, too.  I respond with some action steps he can take to avoid the situation in the future and to resolve the expired license issue. 

2:58 pm.  I receive a text from HK.  "Getting a ticket is very traumatizing, I wish you could be sympathetic / comforting"

So, here I sit, not knowing what to do next.  Do I text him back and tell him I'm sorry?  To be honest, I am sorry.  I'm sorry that I'm not sympathetic and comforting.  I wish I knew the right words to say.  When I get new information, I think action steps and impacts.  The emotional piece doesn't even cross my mind.  Its frustrating for everyone involved - especially my friends. 

I'm often faced with these situations and I think about the appropriate way to handle them.  Do I memorize the right words to say and try to come up with some dialogue that makes me seem sympathetic, so that my friend feels better?  Or do I take a more honest approach and tell him I'm truly sorry that I am not sympathetic?

Throughout my life, I've opted for the first choice when it comes to the NT world.  I make up an answer that satisfies.  Maybe its time I start thinking about the second response because that's how I truly feel.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Emotions. Hope Do You Cope?

Emotions.  Where do I start?  I've been a bit stressed lately and not getting quite the amount of sleep I need.  And that makes me emotional.  The problem is I don't know what to do with these emotions.

Frankly, I want these emotions to go away.  If I could ask anybody one thing it would be - what steps do I need to take to make these feelings go away as quickly as possible?  Its uncomfortable.  I don't like it. Tears sting my eyes and I think - why the hell am I crying?

Logically, I know why I'm upset.  There are a few too many things in my life at the moment that are out of my control.  And not knowing what the future holds is upsetting.  My natural instinct is to hide and show my emotions to no one.  I want to pretend to the outside world that everything is fine and that I'm coping well.

I'm curious to know - what do typical people do to cope with emotions?  Do you cry it out?  Do you turn to a friend for support?  And how do you know who to trust with your feelings?  Personally, I'd like to see a 5 step process to get your emotions under control.  Can somebody write a book about that please?!?

My natural instinct is to analyze and try to rid myself of these uncomfortable feelings as quickly as possible.  I know with the time the emotion will pass and I will be back to my analytical and logical self.  But I'd like to know what coping strategies most people use to get through it. 

Right now to get through it, I'm focusing my thoughts on Goa in a couple weeks.  Traveling is my happy place.  Its the only time where I can truly be myself and feel genuinely happy.  I'm hoping my travel break in a couple weeks will help me cope a little better with life's unexpected.

What do you do to help you through those emotional times in your life?