Regressing to Childhood

Yeah, I’m doing that. I can feel it. I can see it. There are  signs all around me, and the question is, is that good or bad? I’m not taking any steps to stop this regression, though, because it seems out of my control. Here’s what’s bringing me around to my childhood years.

1. Return to high school weight. For the past 30 years or so I’ve been a drinker. Some days were heavier than others but I still drank like a fish when I had the time and money. I’ve been sober nearly 8 months now and I’ve lost weight. I also had a fiendish gout attack a few months ago which lasted for two months and caused me to lose 20 pounds because I had no appetite. A year ago my weight ballooned up to 221 pounds. Now I weigh 170. My BMI is in the safe range so I’m not complaining, plush I feel more energetic. Generally, I’ve become a skinny person again except for my protruding belly. I’m sure that, too, will disappear as time marches on. When I first came to the U.S., when I was 12, I was nothing but sticks and bones. You could see my ribs from down the street. This was perfect for gymnastics and ballet but made me a target for the bullies. I never ate that much back then anyway. I isolated, especially at lunch time when the kids turned into feral animals. I stayed away from them as much as possible, which brings me to my second point.

2. My childhood behaviours are coming back. Here at Aloha Inn I try to avoid the dining room as much as possible, too. It’s a little too noisy for me with people chattering away, dishes clanking, the radio being on, people walking back and forth, the sound from the cars passing by on Aurora Ave., etc. It can get a bit overwhelming so I mostly eat up here in my room. I also used to have deep, focused interests in the things I was in to and often neglected to eat. I also held my urine in until my bladder was near to exploding. Some of the things I was in to, like birds of the world, international flags, international stamps, plane models, etc consume me, which was good. Kept me out of trouble anyway. Back then I was also an awkward speaker; that is, I said outlandish things which made people cringe or disappear. Yeah, I was one of those little professors who used a lot of big words and read the newspapers instead of playing outside. Of course, I started wearing glasses at 10 and by then my vision as already so bad that my glasses were thick, thick to the point of ridicule. Very troubling, indeed. I withdrew from people anyway. Life was better that way.

3. As a consequence of isolating and my craziness, I had no friends. That’s okay. Books were my friends. They never let me down anyway. Today, I still have no friends. I can make friends but I just can’t keep ’em. Somewhere along the way they will disappear and leave me alone. And since I really can’t relate to people my age I just stay alone. I’ve always felt like a 25 year old trapped in a 52 year old body. Maybe there is some arrested development going on, I don’t know. I wouldn’t doubt it, though.

4. Back in my childhood years I used to rock back and forth incessantly. Naturally, they called me Rockin’ Robin. It used to drive people crazy and they often told me to quit it. Eventually, I did. A similar behavior has returned in the form of my shaking legs. Again, it drives people nuts and they bring it to my attention every time. Of course, I don’t realize it, but they often complain that I’m creating an earthquake or causing the table to move. A counselor at CPC Northgate admonished me for shaking because the chatter from my watch’s metal band was giving her a stroke.

5. When I was a kid, if you attempted to blow up a balloon around me, I’d freak and run. This lasted for years. Just the thought of a balloon popping made my heart race. I guess that was because the sound was too sudden and loud when the balloon popped. That same feeling of sounds being too loud has strangely returned. The telephone in this room must be the loudest on earth. It’s freakingly loud and makes me jump. My roommate’s cell phone alarm is also so loud that it makes me jump. It seems like he happens to have the one cell phone with the loudest alarm. His snoring is also loud. In fact, it’s the loudest snoring I’ve ever heard from anyone. I keep thinking he should see a sleep therapist because there could be something serious going on.

6. Back when I was a kid I also went for long walks on the beach to avoid people and the accompanying noises which irked me. Today, I still get overwhelmed from too many visual and auditory stimuli flying into me at once. It’s very distracting. This is especially bad when I’m driving because it’s caused me to drive up the wrong street, caused me to drive right past streets I’m familiar with, and made me get out of the car without putting it on park which, of course, has caused the car to roll a few times. I’ve also noticed that I see too many things when I’m driving so I keep the radio off and try not to look on either side of me as I drive.

7. One thing I’m not looking for to return is the constipation. Back then I used to hold my bowels for about 5 days. When the poo was to come out it was like trying to pass a brick. I think this probably developed because in Trinidad we just had latrines, outhouses. I was always scared that a snake or whatever would jump out and attack so I learned to hold it in. Of course, I never really had much to eat anyway so it’s not like I was having a perpetual smorgasbord. I don’t eat meat, including seafood, anymore. Since I’m a Jain I’ve also tried to cut down on root vegetables like onions, carrots, potatoes, etc. Beginning today I’m going to attempt a strict (ascetic) Jain diet. That means I’ll have to eschew milk, eggs, cheese, potatoes, carrots, yams, and any plants that, when cultivated, kills them, like cabbage and other greens. I think this is also in preparation for Mahavir Jayanti which is April 2 but will be celebrated April 12 at HTCC – Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell. I think it’ll be great. I want to get some traditional Indian clothes but don’t know where to get them. Maybe I’ll look on the internet or something. I want to wear Indian clothes because it’ll help me to blend in better at the temple and not look so much like an outsider. Of course, most of the participants will be Gujarati anyway so they won’t speak English, but that’s okay. Jainism is a religion that respects different views and practices non-violence in thoughts, actions and words so I should feel welcome there despite the fact I won’t understand most of them.

8. This is probably just a coincidence but I’ll mention it anyway. When I was a kid I was also a good speller. I once entered a spelling bee and won locally but couldn’t advance to regional because I had no money for a bus ride to it. Also, in those days, since people made fun of the words I used, I learned how to dumb down my intelligence so I’d fit in with the sitcom loving world. Consequently, I did get as dumb as a box of bricks. When I played computer Scrabble I played at an advanced level but never master or genius level. Recently, though, I have been playing at genius level and have won three times. To me it’s quite an accomplishment because, in every single game, Scrabble plays words I’ve never seen in my life. These words are so obscure they don’t even look like words. That’s a great disadvantage to me so it’s surprising I still won. Maybe I was just lucky. I hope to get good enough, though, to be able to challenge those players in the Seattle Scrabble club. I figure it should take me 6 months or so.

The Bad Habits You Develop From Being Homeless

1. Sleeping with your clothes on (like, you have a choice!) You never know when somebody’s gonna wake you up and tell you to move. Even worse, you can get your clothes and shoes stolen by another homeless person.

2, Sleeping with your contact lenses on. Several times I’ve been rudely awakened by the police or property owner who want me to bounce. I need to be able to see who they are right away in case it’s just someone coming to rob me. Death of the homeless on the street is a common occurrence. People get shot and stabbed routinely and a lot of it doesn’t get reported because, well, society considers the homeless as being unimportant, insignificant pests.

3. Mastering the art of the one minute bath. This is accomplished in public restrooms like supermarkets, gas stations and department stores. Of course, if you’re on candid camera, you might have just 10 seconds to wash it and beat it.

4. Wearing the same clothes two or more weeks in a row. That’s easy to get used to. All you have to do is not change your clothes. It’s really simple when you’re starving and, therefore, lack the strength to change anyway. You learn to deal with the ornery smell and try to stay away from people because they’ll hold their noses and cross the street which in itself is embarrassing. Yeah, some of us do walk around with track marks, shitty pants and pissed on shoes, but what can we do? We’re waiting for the construction of free public showers nationwide. Until then deal with the funk.

5. Eating food right out of the can. The can opener is your best friend. Eating vegetable soup, green beans, chili or whatever right out of the can is more than a way of survival, it’s a fashion statement. Think about it. People walk around with saggy, low hanging pants because it’s cool; it’s the style. The style, of course, comes from prisoners who wear their pants like that which means they’re always on and opened for business, so to speak. And since whatever’s subservient becomes the norm, eating out of a can will be, too.

6. Learning to do with less: less items of clothing, less money, less food, less protection, less friends, less encouragement, less will to survive. Here in Seattle the I-5 overpass is a homeless person’s best friend. One simple leap off and his troubles are over.

Being close to death changes a man’s perspective. You learn to appreciate life. I was pushing my bike up a steep incline on the NY highway years ago. I was so dehydrated I felt like Chris McCandless in Alaska. When I stopped to gave over a promontory, I wanted to take a flying leap to the valley below. The will to survive kicked in and I was able to drag myself to a store about a mile away. I was lucky.

There is a constant war going on in my head. It’s between emotion and logic, between the limbic system and the pre-fontal cortex. It sucks because I hope logic will win 100% of the time but it doesn’t. Every so often emotions get the best of me and I turn to shit. I hate it.



Living with autism

I’ve been clean and sober, completely free of alcohol, for nearly 8 months. The past few months have been a challenge visually and aurally. For the past 35 years, while I was a constant drinker, the world was muted and tolerable. Generally, everything seemed gray, noises were subdued and I had the capability to talk to people in large groups and even hang out in concert venues, supermarkets and malls. Recently, however, things have started to change. Loud noises, like a telephone ringing, an alarm going off, a dog barking, a horn honking or a man snoring can make me jump out of my skin. Noises can bombard me when I’m driving to the point of distraction. So far I’ve made a few driving mistakes (going past streets, going down the wrong road) that could’ve been disastrous but I was lucky. These days it’s better that I don’t have company while driving because their talking can throw me off. Not only do sounds seem louder to me but, visually, there is also too much information flying into my brain at once. A few weeks ago I was working the phones at the front desk here at Aloha Inn. At first it was tolerable. Then, suddenly, there was the phone ringing, the fan motor from the large printer, the whirring motor from the elevator, people talking, glasses and silverware clinking in the nearby dining room to contend with. My head felt like it was going to explode. I tolerated it until the people who were talking near me quieted down. That seemed to help a lot. I’ve become so sensitive to noises now that I don’t go to the dining room unless there’s just one or two people in it. Mostly, I eat up in this room. I have cans of green beans, corn, peas, potatoes, pinto beans and vegetable chili which I eat cold right out of the can with my fingers. Yes, that’s ghetto, but at least it keeps me out of the common areas. I’ve also noticed that I stim more, too. I shake my legs a lot. It’s to the point where nearby people are bothered enough by it to tell me to cool down. Since my level of anxiety has been through the roof lately, I told my psychiatrist about it. She started me on Buspar last week. Hopefully, it’ll help, otherwise I’ll have to move on to something else. I don’t mind this isolating stuff I do because I get along well with my roommate; at least we can tolerate each other anyway. For the first time, though, I’ve been playing computer Scrabble at the genius level. I’ve beaten it three times but I must’ve played about 100 games. I think in 6 months I should be good enough to enter one of those Seattle Scrabble groups. Physically, I feel ok. Since stopping drinking, I’ve lost about 51 pounds. My BMI is at a healthy level so I can’t complain. I still stand to lose a few around the midriff if I want to get back to my high school weight. I’m still very much interested in Jainism and hope to attend a few Jain festivities in Bothell in the coming months.