the world through rainbow eyes

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The Herd of Gazelles at the Bus Stop

Pi and Phi are 5 now. They attend Kindergarten (two different classes so they can both shine their stars individually as bright as possible). They both insisted that they are old enough to ride the bus to school, and because the bus is actually available to them now that they are in Kinder, I agreed. So they ride the bus to school every school day morning. 

I drop them off and watch them interact at the bus stop with the other kids. They’re the only Kinder kids in our little neighborhood, so mostly the big kids are leaving them alone and letting them run around like animals waiting for the bus. 

Run around they do, too. Every single day, they drop their packs in the bus shelter and then have races from one sign to the other. About 200 feet of a race they do over and over until the bus gets there. Squealing, rambunctious, and overall dorky. Phi runs with his hands clutched high to his sides, a bit like a T-Rex. A smile of pure happiness. His feet hit the ground with the strange, awkward, delicate gait so familiar to other parents who have children on the spectrum. Toes pointed down, still somewhat clompy somehow. Like an elephant doing ballet. So happy.

Pi’s arms are thrown back and her clomping hits whole foot down, her face also has the same smile. So happy. She is a gazelle. 

The other kids are mostly silent while Pi and Phi enact these daily races. Pi and Phi encircle them, run between them, around them, near them. You can see the other kids pull back, stare at them. I want to tell Pi and Phi to chill. Be cool. The kids are judging them. I keep my mouth shut. One kid does a mock tiptoe of Phi to his other friends, and they cover their mouths to smile behind their hands. They know better than to laugh where parents can see them. Phi doesn’t notice, just keeps running. Keeps being happy. 

I want to scream at these kids. You think it’s awesome that you can run better than him? Running is hard for him. He’s a different animal. You are gazelles, and he is an elephant. His squealing trumpet of glee comes from a differently shaped throat than your own. Is it such a point of pride that yours was shaped different? Do you work for hours to make your gazelle throat shape the sounds that all the other gazelles make? 

No he does not have grace. What he has, instead, is hard work. He has perseverance. Thank goodness that’s part of the package with Autism. The same thing that makes him line up puzzles for hours is what makes it possible for him to make words that others understand. He works past the point of wanting to stop. I am furiously proud of his words. 

I remember his testing, and them asking us for a list of his words. For a week we tried to put together even ten words that he said at the age of 18 months. Duck. Ball. … Umm.. Daddy? We struggled to find any words that he had actually said. Now, at age 5, his vocabulary is huge. He inherits the wide breadth of spoken word that his father and I use daily, and it shows. 

But the kids at the bus stop don’t see that he is a hard working elephant stuck in the land of the graceful gazelles. They see that he is not part of their herd. They close ranks. 

So he runs with Pi. Pi who doesn’t care, yet, about gazelles and elephants. All animals are different to her. She takes it in stride. 

I want the other kids at the bus stop to see what she sees. I want them to feel the pure joy that he feels. 

I’m proud of my mismatched animals, and so furious at the herd that closes them both out. I know that in their classes there are other mismatched animals, and they find them and befriend them. The herd at the bus stop is not their whole world of experience, but only a small window onto it. 

I also know that the herd at the bus stop is going to grow. That as they get bigger, it will become more and more evident how different they both are to the herds they encounter. Him for his everything, and her for her acceptance of these things and for her own differences. That the ruthlessness of peers will run their world for the next fifteen some odd years. There is not a thing I can do to change it. 

I know that they are going to spend their lives collecting their own herds of mismatched animals. I hope they do not spend too long trying to assimilate into herds that are not their own and do not accept them. I also feel sad for the limited scope of the herd of gazelles at the bus stop. They have not yet learned the value of the different animals. I hope they learn it someday. 

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When The Game Ends

Many years ago I signed up to play a game called Kingdom Of Loathing. It’s just a browser game, but it’s pretty clever, and awfully fun.

More than that, it has an amazing community attached to it.

To say that this community changed my entire life would be an understatement.

In the game there are teams called “Clans,” and there are alliances between the Clans, and wars between the Clans. Mostly alliances, because it’s the kind of game that doesn’t put a lot of rewards on Clan wars. But sure, it happens.

These Clans are and were more than just people to play with for a lot of us. They were people to visit with. People to share your life with. People to move to whole new countries for. People who picked you up off the ground when you needed it. People who helped you through. People to cry with, and people to celebrate with.

So many of them, so many of you are still my friends. I count you among the most important people in my life, and likely always will.

Most of us don’t play KoL so actively any longer. We get together online on rare occasions, and it feels like oldtimes, and like nothing has changed.

In our lives, though, are the friends we met through the game. Some of them we share homes with, some we share cities, and some are just friends online, though we still mean a lot to each other.

I’m going somewhere with this, but all that matters on it’s own. I love you guys so much. You mean a lot to me. Thank you for that. Less Than Three forever. ❤

Ingress has come along and snatched a lot of us up. A lot of us are playing. Some of us have been playing pretty much from the start. Some of us only started playing when iOS came out, others, somewhere in the middle – sliding one way or the other (for reference, I’m one of those who is sliding towards the iOS side, as I only started in June).

In Ingress there are two factions. Resistance-Blue and Enlightened-Green. Lots of people make teams within those factions, but the game is a war-game in a lot of ways, and it is played Blue vs. Green.

Some of my KoL clan, and some of those who weren’t clan, but people I was allied with or just friends with through the community, chose Blue. Some chose Green.

We’ve all made a lot of new friends. The game rewards social play, and you play stronger when you play with a group. So those teams get very factionalized. It’s very We’re Blue! Down with Green! or We’re Green! Down with Blue! You know?

Fortunately, there’s a pretty good strong current of cross faction play also at large in most areas of the world. So it keeps things from getting too scary. Mostly. Usually. It still does sometimes.

I’m here to remind everyone of something, though. This game will end. I promise you. Your friendships will live on, or they won’t. But the game will end. There will likely still be some people playing it until the servers turn off. That can take a long time. But people will move on.

Google and Niantic have been signaling that there will be a new thing – EndGame – and it will either be a new part of Ingress or it will be a whole new game. It may grow to replace Ingress or it could flop. Who knows?

It’s hard to say. But just as surely as Everquest was mostly replaced by World of Warcraft? Ingress will be replaced by something else.

Your friendships won’t, though. Treasure them. Nurse them. Caretake them. Don’t let factions get in the way of them. Make new friends cross faction, and make new friends in faction, and take care of the old.

Don’t let teams, clans, factions, guilds, and all that mess get in the way of making your gaming community a community of humans. I guarantee that the game will be more fun for that, and that when the game dies, you will be richer for having played it.

Play hard. Play fair. Be human to each other. Love.

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I’m Outraged That You Give A Damn

So this recently happened.  I could have linked more things. I linked four, separate horrible things, but it would have been just as easy to link four hundred. Four thousand. Those are just the first four that spring up when I open the news. The first four things that are actually news, that is.

A friend recently asked how [things like this are happening in today’s world]? My only answer is exhaustion. Information exhaustion. Outrage fatigue.

How in the world would a song like Blurred Lines become one of the two big pop hits of the Summer in the US after a year that included the Steubenville trial? That included story after story of girls committing suicide after being raped and then shamed over “their responsibility” of the crime?

How could we, again, be on the edge of a war in the Middle East, possibly, after over a decade of this?

How Russia is raiding people’s homes over suspicion of them being gay, and we’re still, as a world, seemingly going forward with the Winter Olympics there?

Some of my other friends were completely ignited over the fact that Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMAs was actually a topic of conversation all over their Facebook, but damn. Seriously, damn. With all that up there? A little light outrage is actually sort of a relief.

I get that from a lot of the people around me. I stay fairly plugged into the news, and a lot of people very close to me don’t. It’s not because they don’t care. They care. They just care too much, and it honestly takes too much out of them. It makes it impossible for them to do the things that need doing like going to work, taking care of their children, or doing much besides raving at the top of their lungs or crying in a corner.

I used to get really upset at that reaction. When people want to look away from the dead body, so to speak. Then I realized that the very mechanism that allows me to look is what makes them not want to look.

I don’t feel like there’s much all I can do about these things. I’m pretty powerless to stop it. Awareness is about all I have going. I feel detached from power to change it, so I feel detached from anxiety over it. Those around me who get overwhelmed by these things so completely? That very feeling of powerlessness is what makes them hurt.

Despite the fact that the authors of this article mistake correlation for causation, I can’t say that they’re not onto something here. This is how most people seem to operate. Powerlessness tends to make most people feel anxious, depressed, or other negative emotions. I’m sort of the oddball out on this one. Facebook is a platform for news, rants, and the daily snippets of life. It’s a powerful tool, but it’s not necessarily making people happy.

It’s easy to get attached to, and interested in, fluffy news. That’s what it’s there for. It’s a distraction. There’s a lot to be distracted from, too. Bills, depression, chronic pain, debt, anxiety, employment, sickness: they mount up, along with all of that evening news stuff that is so ever present in our 24 hours news cycle that has now broken through to even being part of our social interactions. Is it any wonder that people turn to something else instead? Hobbies and crafts, religion and philosophy, entertainment.

That’s really okay, and not a thing to get upset about.

This is pretty fluffy, too. It’s just talking a little bit about the fact that when people are being social and chatting about stuff, there’s no reason to judge them on some social scale of how important what they’re talking about is. I’ve seen some version of this sort of outrage about what people use “their corner of the Internet” for going all the way back to the alt.net days. I’m sure it goes further, but that’s when I was getting my legs under me a coming of age adult, so that’s when I first noticed it.

The answer has pretty much always been the same, too. You don’t like it? Scroll on by. Try not to let the outrage overwhelm you that someone else isn’t doing it right, wherein, you’re the one decided what right is.

After all, there are so very many things to be outraged by.


Edit: God (on Facebook) gets it right. But that doesn’t really change that it’s actually really sort of okay to not want to feel powerless all the time.