Posted by: dithorsos2 | February 1, 2010

Dept. of Drivers Licence 1/10

Identification Cards and Passports

We will never again go to the Department of Drivers Licence on a Saturday to get an enhanced state identification card.  Yesterday we went about 30 kilometers to West Seattle for Kris to get an enhanced state id.  We thought that en enhanced id card would be simplier than a basic id card and a passport.  We go every year to Canada and he does not want to go visit any other countries anymore.  I was wrong.  He only needs to go to the DOL office that is much closer to home and much easier to get to for to tenew his basic id card.  For passports, we can renew through mail.  Much fewer places processes enhanced id cards.  We arrived at DOL office at 11:30 and waited over 2 hours for Kris’ number to be called.  The office was winding down for closing at 2:30 and would not call his number.  There was no warning online nor when we arriced atr the office that they would not see everyone who has arrived.  This is unbelievable and we should have been warned a head of time to save a trip.  At least I got good walking in after I dropped Kris off.  We walked together afterwards on our way home.  At least we learned and Kris is renewing his id card and we both renew our passports.

Posted by: dithorsos2 | September 16, 2009

Where the Wild Things Were

I am reading a good book, “Where the Wild Things Were“, by William Stolzenburg, Bloomsbury USA, New York, NY.  2008.

I enjoy this book very much as I am very interested in ecology.  I very much respect native vegetation and pull up non native species that are invasive whenever I get a chance.  It is too bad that we lost many plant and animal species from eliminating the top predators that help keep the environment in check and balanced.  When these top predators are gone, the mid sized predators change behavior and take over in running the land or water.  Imbalances can occur causing greater extinctions and distruction of the environs.

We thought about getting another cat after our cat died.  We would need to keep it indoors and never let it out.  Besides the thread of raccoons harming or killing it, It can harm and kill many species, including rodents, reptiles, and birds.  Before I got my first kitten, a friend suggested that I keep him in at all times.  I listened to her and did that.  When we had a cat most of the nineties, we let him out as people close to us were letting their cats out.  But for the last few years, I have been hearing from ecological view that we need to not let domestic cats out.  After deliberating, we realized that it would be difficult in preventing escape of a cat.  We go in and out alot, especially during the summer.  Our screen door to our sliding doors to the back doesnot effective keep small children and pets in.  Besides when we travel, we do not need to worry about having people come and feed the cat.

Posted by: dithorsos2 | April 28, 2009

TED videos

I was first introduced to TED videos about 2 years ago and watch several of them here and there. I watch the videos on Youtube with various topics, including innoventions, science, and music. I enjoy them very much, but can only watch a few here and there as I am cutting back on my internetr usage.
Debbie
http://www.myspace.com/dithorsos
http://www.debbiethorsos.com
http://www.youtube.com/dithorsos

Posted by: dithorsos2 | December 20, 2008

Dragging Video onto Desktop

In order for the uploader to read a video it needs to be dragged out from the program of wedcam or camcorder onto the desktop to be uploaded.  Here is my video about it:

Dragging video to mpeg format on desktop. (10/24/08)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jp6K6zKJn_k

Once the video is on the desktop, following upload directions on a video sharing website is easy.

Posted by: dithorsos2 | December 20, 2008

Dragging Video onto Desktop

In order for a video to be read by an uploader, a video needs to be dragged out from the program of webcam or camcorder to the desktop to be put in a readable format for the upload. Her is a link to a video I did for demonstration: Dragging video to mpeg format on desktop. (10/24/08)

Once the video is in correct format, following upload instructions on a video sharing website is easy.

Posted by: dithorsos2 | September 13, 2008

Crossing Bridge to Greater Fulfilment (part 3)

After a few years of settling into our new place and admiring the pets of our friends and relatives, I began to think that it would be nice if we could have a pet or two.  I developed the desire in January of 1993 when my friends, who were also neighbors, were getting rid of their Zebra finches, a male and female pair and offered them to us with the cage.  After we had them for only a week they died when our place got too cold for them during the power outage from the Inaugural Day storm.

We replaced them with another Zebra finch pair in the spring after our two-week trip.  The female bird died about a week later and I had replaced her a few months later during the summer when one became available the females tended to be much more fragile than the male bird.  Even the last female lived only a year and a half.  After that I didn’t want to replace more birds since I got tired and had by losing them from their short lives.  I just let the remaining bird that was a male live on, even though they tend to do better with a partner or a group.  It had been fun listening to their chirps and watches them jump back and forth from one end of the cage to the other.

In May of 1993 I was presented with an opportunity to adopt a kitten.  While I was at a friend’s house one evening, I saw a litter of four-week-old kittens with the mother cat.  As I held the little ones I fell in love with them as they were so cute.  Several weeks later when the kittens were old enough at eight weeks to be adopted, the friend drove them to our place with some kitten food to get started.  Kris and I had picked out the only kitten of the three with a full-length tail.

Our kitten was all yellow with fluffy medium length fur.  I named him Javon since that sounded pleasant and I had had a friend who years earlier named her son that.  Kris agreed with me.  We had held back with getting a cat out of fear of not being able to take it to the veterinarian when needed.  But, we realized that we were able to work around this.  The friend, who gave us the original pair of birds, took Javon and me to the veterinarian for all of his shots, examinations, and neutering.  When this friend moved away, I had no problems of getting other people to drive us to the vet.  This was a lot easier than getting there by foot.  Also whenever we were away on vacations, she would come by to feed our pets.  Javon was left out for the entire time of our trips.  We had been letting him in and out freely when was home.

We had been very fortunate to have Javon as he had always showered us with unconditional love.  He had always been forgiving.  Whenever we pet and play with him, we become very relaxed in no time.  In conjunction with meditation, exercise, and a healthy diet, our cat helped reduce stress in our lives.

In 2002, Javon started to lose weight after being chubby for a while and his fur lost some luster.  He was diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid.  The vet suggested that we give him medication to control the growth in the area or have surgery to remove the thyroid.  We chose neither, but to continue loving him.  Since I experienced losing a dog through surgery I knew that there were no guarantees.  We did not want to risk spending thousands of dollars for nothing.  After a while he did appear to get better and gained back the weight and his fur looked healthy again.  About a year later, his health declined again and got weaker and weaker until he could hardly walk.  He was very skinny and his fur looked awful.  I felt that he was not going to make it.  I discussed this with Kris and decided to take him out on a cold night and leave him out.  This may seem very cruel, but we wanted him to be relieved of his suffering and knew that his death was imminent.

By the next morning on December 31, 2003 when I walked out in our back yard on a frosty morning, I found Javon dead.  When the ground thawed a few days later, I buried him close to the back fence.  As much as we loved him and felt sad at his passing, we felt that he is in great hands and relieved of his suffering and did not get so emotional as some people do from losing their pets.

     

During the spring of 1993, I began to notice that my musical tastes were becoming more sophisticated as I drift away from most rock ‘n roll towards more jazz which is more soothing.  I gave away many of my rock records that I didn’t care for anymore.  I listened most often to the contemporary jazz station.

 

During 1992, I resumed my involvement with the Autism Society of Washington when I was asked to participate in two meetings of another autism task force.  Since transportation was provided I didn’t need to miss entire days of work and was picked up at Auburn Boeing to attend the meetings that were held in Burien.  We discussed what services were needed in the community such as respite care and better training for the school staff.

In June of 1992, I was invited to present my childhood experience for a middle school class in Issaquah.  They became interested when my friend Katie from WPAS, who participated in a theater project with them, told them about me.  Bea, whom I had stayed with in the early eighties, was also invited to present a personal perspective on autism and picked me up at Boeings to give me a ride.

Since this was the first time that I had presented anything for a long time since the Toastmasters, I was very nervous and kept forgetting what I was to mention within the proper sequences and stumbling over my words.  Having forgotten my notes made it worse but it had taught me how very important they are in keeping my ideas organized.  But, the students and the staff still enjoyed hearing about my background.  They asked how I was able to overcome my challenges in communication and how I adjusted to regular public high schools and college.  I felt that they learned that there is a great deal of hope of leading a successful life despite diagnosis of autism and with persistence it could be amazing what one would achieve.  Though I still had long ways to go.

Almost a year later March of 1993, I was called to participate in a video to be shown at the statewide conference on autism in spring of 1993.  The film, We Are Not Alone, included interviews of a few individuals with autism, including me, and a few parents.  It was basically about the struggles that people in the community dealt with and how they coped.  A mother spoke about her nine-year-old son and how the school worked on controlling his behavioral problems.  A man with autism, who had his own apartment and worked at the University of Washington, talked about his social deficits and his strengths in memorizing historical facts and organization of information in the research library in the university.  His stepmother spoke about the challenges and rewards of raising him.  I was filmed at my back yard within minutes of coming home from work.  I talked about general things about my life, such as my childhood, schooling, and my up-to-date situation. 

Though I went to the annual conference that year, I only attended on Saturday.  The film wasn’t shown since it was viewed the day before.  But, I was able to see it during a special viewing a year later at the conference in 1994.  While I was watching myself being interviewed, I tended to be highly critical of myself.  I thought that I had come off as being too forceful with my loud voice and excessive gestures, some of which were related to my nervousness and a lack of confidence.  But, people still had enjoyed seeing me on the video and even complimented me.  A while afterwards I began to work on my voice and gestures.

Just before the video crew from the autism society left after interviewing me, I was nominated to the board of directors of the Autism Society of Washington.  I was voted in and joined the board right after the autism conference of that year.  This enabled me to provide a fresh new perspective to the board meetings with my personal background.  The all-day meetings were held about four times a year at the Fircrest School in the north end of Seattle, where the Autism Society of Washington was located.  Usually I was able to get rides from board members who lived in Tacoma.  Along with discussing and voting about the society’s business matters, it was a lot of fun to mingle with the people from the autism community over coffee and lunch.  During my terms on the board additional help was approved and added to accommodate the growth in membership.  Committees were formed to organize the conferences and monitor the office personnel and positions.

For the 1994 Best of the Northwest annual statewide conference on autism in March, I was recruited to present with a panel of individuals with autism.  It was to be about educational experiences during a session on a Friday afternoon.  I talked about challenges of attending special private schools and regulate high school and college.  The audience learned that I had received some benefits from special education by smaller classes and receiving more individualized attention, but did very well in the regular schools.  Despite my challenges with a disability I did well in college and earned a four-year degree.

Since I did get the whole day off for something as important as that I attended the two days, Friday and Saturday.  That time I made sure that I had notes with me and had practiced a few times so I had improved since my classroom presentation.  I still had ways to go until I would feel completely at ease.  A few people had commented that I had did better on the presentation than I did a year earlier on the video. 

 

During the summer of 1991 while I was having challenges with Dean at work, I began to develop plans for eventually leaving food service to move on other pursuits where I could utilize my skills.  I thought it would be good to pursue an occupation where I could challenge myself.  I had received some guidance from articles and friends that it was important to seek out opportunities where one could grow and realize the potentials as much as possible to make greater contributions to society.  Since I had been in food service for over eight years, it would be a good time to make preparations to move on.

I thought along the lines of working with other people with challenges to improve their lot in their lives.  I felt that I had improved enough over the years to gain confidence that I would be able to work well directly with others.  I considered eventually pursuing training to provide occupational or physical therapy.  I thought of educational instruction or assistance to regular or special education students.  I had a friend and neighbor who had begun her schooling for opportunities in occupational therapy who gave me some ideas.

With increased contemplation I had zeroed in more on special education since I felt that I already had more of a background for that with my autism and having been through a special education system myself.  I felt confident that I could become an effective teacher, since with my personal experience I would be able to relate to children with challenges, especially with autism.

When Kris and I visited family during April of 1992, a relative with two master’s degrees who had experiences in school’s special education had discouraged me from getting into the field.  Though we had got along very well and she was well meaning, she felt that I would flourish better in other careers that didn’t involve so much direct interaction with children.  She suggested that since I had expressed my love for nature and with my creativity that I should consider horticulture.  I began to think that maybe she was right since I still had a speech impediment that might get in the way of getting hired in the first place.

Along with getting discouraged about pursuing special education, I was becoming increasingly concerned with the logistics of how I would be able to resume schooling for a teacher’s certificate and a master’s degree.  In order to afford the costs, we would need to save for several years.  The only way I would be able to go was to take evening classes after working all day.  I was worried that my energy reserves would get drained.  With these considerations in my mind, I began to have second thoughts that maybe I shouldn’t pursue another career.  It was much easier to become complacent and just remain in food service, especially since I would stay in my comfort zone with my easy short commute and without any greater risks to take since I already knew exactly what to do.

 

After a period of complacency, a bunch of major changes and reorganization in food service were instituted in response to the down turn of business at Boeings.  Just before there was any talk about it, I had sensed that there would be changes in my life but I had no idea what they would entail.  In early February of 1994, everyone had their hours cut with reorganization of jobs.  I was shocked that the hours weren’t reduced proportionally.  I resented that my hours were slashed by half that were more than everyone else’s reduction.  My hours 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM, though were much shorter, still didn’t give me that much extra time at home as my day was broken up and I didn’t get home much earlier, but yet I was paid a lot less.  Though I was able to sleep longer in the morning and was able to accomplish a few small things before I walked to work since the bus didn’t run when I needed it.

With greatly reduced hours my duties were modified.  For example, instead of slicing the meat for the cafeteria, I portioned out the meat that was already sliced by the main cafeteria and shipped to my location.  As soon as more people were brought in, meat slicing was resumed in the cafeteria, though I didn’t work in that area as I had previously.  I didn’t prepare salad dressings as they were being ordered already made, though I still made the tartar and cocktail sauces.  I was placed back down into the cook’s helper job classification due to the cutbacks. 

Though I had understood that the reductions of the labor costs were necessary whenever there is a continued down turn of business, I was angry that my hours were cut much more than anyone else’s.  I figured that the reason why my hours were reduced the most was based on my job classification and the high number of years working for the company.  I felt that the management wanted to cut the hours of those who, including myself, were hired before the mid eighties and received longevity pay on top of the regular rates.

Even though I had realized that the steep reduction of hours wasn’t based on my character flaws or my autism, I felt that I was being discriminated against which I took personally.  I was affected the most from my feelings of being less valued rather than the other workers than the actual cut in my hours.  Fortunately Kris and I were able to manage with my reduced income, though we had to cut back on expenses.  My emotions about discrimination boiled to the surface as I associated the feelings of being devalued at work to the childhood discrimination that also affected my self-esteem.  Whenever the emotions laced with anger and depression popped up, which occurred frequently for several months, I cried for a few minutes.  Though in general I had cried only occasionally.  I was very determined to work on the emotional issues to release them from my system.

Shortly after the new work schedule was in effect, ideas about leaving food service and pursuing other things began to resurface after the period of complacency.  I had become serious about contemplating changes that I needed to make and to take responsibility for a better future.  I realized that I could not stay indefinitely in an environment that was lacking in employee morale and would be dehumanizing.  I felt that the workers were being valued less than profits.  I would have been able to understand the need to reduce the hours if it had been done much more evenly with a fairer distribution among the staff.

When I talked about my reduced work schedule to my co-workers and my close relatives, they agreed that I was treated unfairly and suggested that I file a grievance with my union and the state Department of Labor and Industries.  When I called my union representative, he didn’t have anything to refer to and help.  I was discouraged.  He had pointed out my low plant seniority of a few years as a strike against me.  I lost my company seniority and had to start all over when I transferred to Auburn as that was voluntary even thought I already put in almost eight years at the transfer.  When I had read all of the basic rights of workers in the national labor law, I didn’t find anything specific to my case and assumed that there wasn’t any legal recourse that I could take to restore hours.

However after several months of the changes in food service, some of my hours were restored.  My shift began at 7:00 AM and ended at 1:30 PM.  There might had been something written in the labor laws that my hours weren’t allowed to be cut so much and they were required to restore some of the hours.  Somebody, probably from the union, might have investigated my case and caused the legal recourse on my behalf.  Though I appreciated that my hours were restored up to par with the other workers, the struggles weren’t over.

What irked me more than anything else was that so many additional workers, new and transfers from the other cafeterias were brought in even though there was less work to go around.  More and more of my responsibilities were taken away from me to be spread out more to my co-workers.  It tended to be much more stressful to not have enough to do than have too much to do.  The slack periods lacked the structure in the work place that I thrived so well in.  When it was slow during most mornings there was very little for me to do from my list and I spent much of the time before the lunch service hours scrounging for things to do.  To keep myself occupied, I ended up doing things that we didn’t need to do such as extra cleaning and flattening cartons since that was the janitor’s responsibility.

One day I was so irritable that I was unlike my normal self and lashed out to a woman who didn’t have much to do and worked on my task of preparing hot sandwiches.  I realized that she didn’t mean to do any harm and afterwards I felt very remorseful as I knew that I had done wrong.  I also was coming down with a cold that made me even more irritable.  Even though I only helped others with their tasks when they were behind schedule or asked for assistance, it wasn’t for me to judge others or to expect them to do the same.

I had become so burned out with food service that I became less loyal to the company.  I began to decline request for working extra hours during swing shift that involved walking back to work after being home for a little while.  When I stayed home with a cold, I took a few additional days off beyond what was needed for recovery since I didn’t want to work in the cafeteria anymore.  Sometimes it was difficult to contain my emotions when talking to others.

 

As I contemplated my future career options, I felt that I could get started, with the education background that I had already, in jobs in community services and schools working with those with disabilities.  I thought that once I had work with human resources, I could eventually pursue advanced degrees in special education as I had resumed the idea of teaching.  I became so determined to leave food service that the idea of going back to school became much more appealing than before when I wasn’t as motivated to make big changes.

With the encouragement from friends and acquaintances, during the summer of 1994, I went to the administrative building of the Auburn School District to fill out an application for opportunities to work as an educational assistant.  Twice a month throughout the summer I called the personnel office to show interest in openings that might arise.  This would be a great way to get my feet in the door in aspiring to become a special education teacher.

Despite my resume and a good cover letter, I was informed that I wasn’t chosen for hire since there were others with prior experience with the schools.  Though this was discouraging, I wasn’t about to give up and could still seek other opportunities or even volunteer in the classrooms so I could become known in the school district to increase my chances of getting hired.

A friend, who felt that I would do well in providing community service for those with disabilities, had investigated non-profit organizations to make contacts.  She connected me to I Am Cares that had been involved with job development and coaching for the disabled community.  Perhaps I could do job coaching similar to what was done in my Renton cafeteria for a woman with a disability.

 

There were periods during the summer that I had job burnout so bad that I felt like walking off the job and turning in a two-week notice to quit right then.  But, I needed plenty of time to think about when to take action.  I shouldn’t act on the spur of the moment with such a big change as quitting a job.  As weeks went by I figured that the best time to resign would be just before our planned vacation in February that was just a few months away.  By then I would had put in twelve years of service that would make me eligible for additional paid vacations along with paid time off during the holidays.  Besides it would be more fun to make the change more dramatic by timing it with a vacation to make it seem more like a big celebration.  As the time got closer and closer during the autumn, I became anxious and began counting the weeks and days since it was hard to wait.

When I had turned in the two-week notice in January of 1995 and informed my co-workers, they were surprised that I would quit even though I had expressed my emotions about job burnout.  They were amazed that even to the very end that I had remained a responsible employee with good attendance and always putting out my best, unlike many others who slackened on their responsibilities when they wanted to quit.

Some customers and co-workers expressed sadness of my resignation.  On the last day Valerie, who had had a hard time accepting me, was sad and commented to me: “Believe it or not I will miss you.” She really meant it as I was always available when she or anyone else needed help.  I had always believed strongly in team work and help each other out whenever possible.  During my last day, February 10, 1995, I felt unusually calm and sad even though I was very confident I had made the right move.  I felt sad about missing the people but not the job.

During my final lunch break in the cafeteria; my co-workers gave me gifts, cards, and good-byes.  One woman who was especially friendly, though being out from knee surgery, showed up at the cafeteria to give me a gift and say good-bye.  I was very impressed.  A very friendly customer gave me a small gift that was appreciated.

With twelve years of working in food service I had received as much out of it as I could.  I had gained a great deal of social and people skills from being around different people and learning how to deal with all sorts of personality types.  Since I had learned as much as I could, it was time to move on for other opportunities with new experience where I could grow.  Not advancing forward is in effect regressing backwards.  Though I had endured unpleasant experiences during my final year in food service, I was grateful in the long term as this propelled me forward to advance into new opportunities to better utilize my skills and contribute to the disabled community.

By the time I was thirty-seven and a half I had enough faith and confidence that I could with persistence push my limits to realize my dreams and goals.  Even if I couldn’t get another job right away, I could keep myself occupied by seriously writing my autobiography.  I had actually begun working on my book thirteen years early, but only had done a page here and there as I lacked motivation.

As Kris and I with his parents, right after the weekend of quitting food service, went on vacation to Mazatlan, Mexico, I felt that I was crossing a big bridge from the woods with limited vistas to sunshine for rapid growth in self-actualization leading to meadows with large expansions of open space and a greater variety of landscape for enriching experiences.  Even though I was nervous and didn’t know exactly how my future would unfold, I had faith that eventually everything would fall in place.  Our trip was a celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary, though a month early, it felt more like the celebration of achieving victory in courage to make changes in the right direction as well as to sustain a very happy marriage of which we mutually supported each other.  Our successful marriage was a major contribution to my increased sense of security along with unconditional love.

Even though I had by prayer to improve my self-confidence to overcome my poor body image and an eating disorder and gained enough courage to leave food service I still had ways to go to really feel good about myself and overcome feelings of inadequacy.  Since I had so many years of negative programming of my psyche it took me a long time to transform the programming into the positive.  Kris had provided me with a lot of continuous encouragement to love and accept myself the way I was while still making steady progress.  On the same token he made me feel needed and valued by allowing me to help him by cooking, gardening, and navigating steps when out together.  The challenges throughout my life had provided me with opportunities to grow as I learned to take advantage of them that would enable me to change sourness into sweetness.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagle; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”—Isaiah 40:31

Posted by: dithorsos2 | September 11, 2008

Crossing Bridges to Greater Fulfilment (part 2)

One of my co-workers, whom I related to best to, was a heavy-set woman in her early forties was very friendly.  I saw Maude a few times outside of work at each other houses.  The names of my co-workers are changed to protect identities.  One afternoon, she waited a little bit for the end of my shift and drove me to her house up the west hill in Federal Way to meet a good friend who came over regularly.  In addition, for most of my doctor appointments at the Group Health Clinic at Federal Way she drove me there when she was able.  Otherwise, I would need to leave early to allow time to go by bus.  Maude joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses for her spiritual growth and support.  I was also drawn to her in that I am spiritual too with my faith in Christ and the bible.  Since she became active with the religious organization, she was able to cope better with her situation.  As the years went by she was admitted into the hospital less and less frequently when her manic episode had spun out of control.  Occasionally her medicine doses needed to be readjusted for the most optimal levels.

 

Though generally my co-workers were very friendly and accepted me very well, there were a few of them who were more difficult to deal with and presented me more challenges.  In the new cafeteria at Auburn, after several weeks when we were more settled in operation, a man and then later a woman worked directly with me as dinner cooks and I became sensitive to of how both Dean and Valerie treated me with disrespect.  Even though I didn’t like being around them, I still felt positive qualities emanating from their basic human essences as any other human being.

One of the things about Dean that irked me the most was that he never cleaned up after himself.  He left all the messes for me to take care of.  That responsibility was dumped on me since I was the one who worked the most directly with him.  Even though I didn’t mind the clean up tasks too much, such as cleaning tables and soup kettles, I resented the idea that I was being taken advantage of more than anything else.

After I told him to take on more responsibility for his work and he refused to comply, I complained about the situation to the head supervisor of the entire cafeteria.  He responded by having me to continue to clean after Dean since that was easier than ordering Dean to comply.  Apparently the supervisor didn’t want to get involved with any disputes.  In general he didn’t want to be bothered by any problems even minor ones, such as erroneous numbers appearing on the production sheets.

The supervisor was right about one thing that was never to talk about a fellow employee to the other workers.  One day when I was so irritated with Dean, I gossiped about how he mistreated me along with my psychoanalysis of why he did that.  When I was told to stop, I realized that it was wrong to backbite anyone no matter what they did.  Gossip tends to create a great deal of tension and disrupt the unity of the group.

I understood that Dean had a lot of personal challenges to deal with.  His health was very fragile from obesity, arthritis, and extreme irritability.  I suspected that he had suffered alcoholism from his mental symptoms and extremely poor diet.  He mentioned having several episodes of his getting drunk from drinking all evening.  During both our breakfast and lunch breaks, he consumed way too much sweets and carbohydrates.  One of the telltale signs of alcoholism is excessive cravings for sweets.  Due to poor health and illness his absenteeism was very high, greater than what was accepted.

One a much more positive note, occasionally provided me with constructive criticism on my social skills where I needed to improve.  For example, after a discussion over break, he had pointed out that I had a tendency to go off on a tangent when I talked or give excessive amount of unnecessary details on a subject.  At first it was difficult to understand, but it sunk in eventually.  He also taught me to listen first to all of the instructions before I do a task rather than interrupting or assuming things even when being so assure of me.  Even people who showed me more respect generally tended to avoid trying to correct me.

As I got to know Dean more after having worked together for about a year, I shift my focus to his pure human essence (inherent in all human beings) and his positive qualities such as his good social skills and his good use of humor.

By the time I had become fully adjusted in dealing with Dean in December of 1991, he was transferred out of my cafeteria to work in another one and switched places with another cook.  Although I had learned to work effectively with him, I felt some relief when I heard that he was leaving.  I was hopeful the next cook would show me more respect like most other co-workers.

Such hope was dashed away as I became more acquainted with Valerie and sensed that she didn’t care very much for me.  Though her personality was different from Dean and she did clean up after herself unless falling behind schedule and asked me to help, she also was disrespectful towards me.  She often acted more rudely towards me where as she tended to be more polite towards others.  She was inconsistent in returning greeting whenever I greeted her.  She never greeted me first.  She tended to be inflexible in how certain things were done–from preparing vegetables to washing kettles.  Though it wasn’t a big deal to modify things.  She constantly reminded me to do each task as if I would forget every time to do things, or as if I were a very slow learner and needed frequent prompting as some people with disabilities need.  One time when I was asked to take over a certain task in addition to my list, Valerie tried to knock me down by implying that it might be too much for me to do.  Luckily I was very confident of my ability to get it done on time and wasn’t prone to feelings of failure before I even started.

I resented that Valerie was able to be so friendly with other people, but the opposite with me.  I was highly sensitive to this as it brought back issues from my childhood when I was more disabled and some of the neighborhood children always avoided or made fun of me due to how they responded to my differences.  Even though intellectually I knew that it wasn’t my fault that caused Valerie to treat me as she did, I still felt hurt by her apparent rejection of me.  Though most people had liked and accepted me, I wanted everyone to care for me.  I wasn’t able to stand any hatred of kind.

One afternoon I felt so annoyed with how Valerie treated me that at the end of our shifts, I confronted her as I changed out of my work uniform.  When I lectured her about the importance of treating everyone with respect and got into an analysis of why she was repelled by me and how she could improve her lot with faith and practice, she refused to listen to me.  Not only didn’t she want to hear me, she also got very upset and screamed at me and threatened to tell the managers on me.  I felt so much tension that I shook all over and couldn’t talk straight.  It was as though I was hitting her and my hand hurt much more than the pain I inflicted.  Though I never laid my hand on her.

One day shortly after Valerie began working with us, Maude handed me a cute card with a drawing of a girl baking cookies.  The card reminded her of me doing my job I was responsible for baking.  This was Maude’s way of expressing compassion towards me.  She saw what was going on and became very concerned about Valerie had treated me with bossiness and rudeness.  She offered me encouragement to take everything in my stride and suggested that whenever missiles come my way I should grab and bent them to be returned to the sender.  Based on the mystic law of cause and effect, the one who sends them would ultimately suffer the most.

After I came down on Valerie, I realized that I was at least as harsh to her as she was to me.  There wasn’t any point trying to make her listen to me when she didn’t want to take anything from me.  All that I had done was to create a great deal of tension and build higher walls between us without resolving anything.  I realized that the highest priority should be getting along with one another, as much as possible, not trying to correct someone when one doesn’t want to listen.  I needed to take on more responsibility for our relationship since it was a two-way deal, not dependent on her side only.  No matter what kind of a person I was there would always be at least a few who didn’t like me.  It was okay since each individual is entitled to choice.

Valerie was not a bad person.  She just had a different way of perceiving me and acted accordingly.  I learned to realize that it wasn’t me or my disability that was the problem.  As long as I left her alone and took in consideration her personality everything was fine, not that we would ever become best friends.  Since it is necessary to appreciate the diversity of all people, I began to focus more on Valerie as a human being like me, appreciating her human essence, not as a villain.

 

In February of 1992, I was involved in a four-way job rotation with three other women, spanning three job classifications.  However the lunch service responsibilities remained the same for all.  I was promoted into the pantry position that involved a greater use of machinery and following recipes for simple foods.  Being placed into a higher job classification boosted my self-esteem by management trusting me to take on increased responsibilities especially since there were several women who were just as qualified as I was.  The woman whose morning job I took over was demoted as much as three notches to the lowest rank due to high absenteeism related to her illness.  It eventually forced her to quit.  I like doing different things.  Even though my new workstation was further from Valerie’s we still all worked together as a team.

I still prepared buckets of bleach water as nobody else wanted to do it including the woman who took over my other position.  It wasn’t worth it to make a fuss about it.  Every morning I operated the meat slicer and weighted out the portions of all of the meats used in hot and cold sandwiches including the deli bar.  I prepared strips of ham, turkey, and cheeses for the chef salads.  I sliced cheese in one-ounce portions for sandwiches. 

After I cleaned the meat slicer, dried the pieces, and put them back together, I prepared cocktail sauce and the popular salad dressings that were mayonnaise based.  After being in my new slot for a little while, I began to prepare muffin batters from mixes with a few things for various muffins that had previously done by the breakfast/fry cook.  It generally worked out very well with my schedule.

Since the woman who took over my cook’s helper position had to go out to the front early to get the fryers ready, I retained some of the responsibilities of the job classification such as steaming the vegetables and whipping mashed potatoes as they needed to be done relatively at the last minute.

 

After Valerie was in my cafeteria for about seven months in July of 1992, she was transferred out into another cafeteria and switched places with another dinner cook.  As soon as the new cook started in my cafeteria, I was relieved as I felt that I wasn’t going to have any problems with him.  Tim was very friendly and easy to work with.

Tim was much more easy-going and loved to joke.  Even though his jokes tended to be highly repetitious and on the silly side, I enjoyed his playfulness and sense of humor.  For example, whenever I used any of the sinks or put things away or take them out of the small coolers, he charged me ridiculous prices for the use so he could retire early.  Sometimes he jokingly cried, “help”, and made imitations of animal sounds especially wild felines.  Occasionally, he played with and lightly sprinkled parsley flakes and chocolate chips on my apron.  He played with parts of our uniform.  For example, he pulled the apron ties loose.  He also took off caps (baseball or visor) and put them back on backwards or inverted the bills.  He also took off employee badges and put them back on wrong.

Tim did the same things over and over again without moving on to new jokes or play.  He was stuck in a rut.  He lived alone with a cat, never had married or had children.  But, he had a steady girlfriend who was a former employee.  Though he was intelligent and was one the best and most dependable of employees, he had a great difficulty in understanding the more abstract concepts–things that weren’t spelled out in the union contract but were still expected–such as preparing special desserts.  Despite all of his play activities, he was still one of the most efficient workers and got a lot of things done.

When Tim had worked in my cafeteria for a year he informed me he was switching again with Valerie, I was sad that he was leaving for another cafeteria.  I had gotten along so well with him and we were able to relate to each other very well due to our respective autism related struggles.  We often confided in each other.  He didn’t want to be transferred out but was ordered to do so.  I knew that I would miss him, even though I learned to get along with Valerie.

 

As soon as Valerie came back in July of 1993 I had welcomed her back and was even more determined to forgive her for everything that had happened between us as I wanted to make a fresh new beginning.  For a while I still felt some tension whenever we were near each other.   I had mustered all the faith I had to have things turned around for the good of both of us.  I hoped to transform the negative into the positive.  I prayed and concentrated on getting rid of any negativity I felt towards her and replacing it with much more positive thoughts.  Though we never become true friends, I had learned to let go of the negativity and even to be happy to do things for her as I would for anyone else.  She had as much of the right to exist as I or anyone else.  Out of my increased respect for her, she began to say “hello” to me more consistently.

 I received encouragement from Kris and my friends to make the best of the situation and that sometimes our enemies could bring us good things such as increased inner strength, deepening of faith to show actual proof in life, and valuable lessons to learn.  I had come to believe that there is a reason why every single person, including enemies, appeared in my life.  Though the purpose might not always be apparent, as I prayed and opened my heart to the possibilities, the wisdom eventually came to me of what to do.  From what I had gained, I was able to provide encouragement to others, such as to one co-worker who also didn’t like Valerie.

 

Since our move to Pacific, we let our membership with the Mountaineers run out since I knew that it would generally be very difficult to get rides.  We were out of the way for most people coming almost from any direction and lived miles away from the main Interstate 5 corridor.  Even though, the organization had a local chapter in Tacoma that was a little bit closer to us, it was still far enough away to make it difficult to get rides.  Ironically even though we lived much closer to Mount Rainier, it was harder for us to get there.  It was just as well that we dropped the Mountaineers as we had more to do around our place.  We kept our weekends occupied with walks all over the neighborhood and yard work, especially all spring and summer.

After we were in our new house for over a year in August of 1991, my folks–my mother, stepfather, my brother, and his second wife–came out to see it for the first time.  I was lucky to get a week off in August.  I had requested it for during the middle of the month to coincide with the blackberry season that was also the best time of the year for people to visit.  I was also very lucky to pick the week that was best for them as they all had a wedding to attend.

One of Jean’s (Bob’s ex girl friend) daughters was married in a country club on the Eastside and had invited the four members of my family.  Though she had considered including Kris and me she didn’t.  It was just as well since after being out all day sightseeing with my folks, it was best for Kris to stay home during the evening to rest and gear up for the next day’s activities.  Though it would have been fun to visit with the few people I had known and meet other ones, I didn’t mind staying home and meditate since I wouldn’t have any other time.  By the time I was thirty-four I no longer felt that I had to be included in every party that my folks went to.  Unlike my early adolescent days when I didn’t have a good network of friends outside my special school, I had established circles of friends here so I no longer felt isolated.  I had the opportunity to show my folks actual proof of how I had matured over the years.

A friendly acquaintance, who was at my house one evening during the early nineties when she saw me, felt that she recognized me from the past.  She mentioned that she saw a woman walking by Renton Boeing during the late eighties that was several years earlier.  She described the woman as highly intelligent being entrenched in her thoughts as her eyes revealed deep introspective thoughts and trances.  She inferred that I was very likely to be that woman.  I agreed with her since I did work at Renton Boeing during the same period and I did walk all over the area often and I was aware of daydreaming all the time.  This perception of me was supported by what two camp counselors, from Samual Field YMCA camp in the summer of 1971 during my adolescence, had written in my autograph book:

               

                “Deb-

                Sometimes you seem on the quiet side a bit.  But thats ’cause there’s so many fine things going on in your mind all the time.  Keep thinking and being honest.

                Love Stan.”

                “Debbie,

                Yes, you’re prancing in front of me with dancing eyes…  Sometimes I wonder where you are–and I see everything in the right place–your eyes and ears and heart are open wonderful.  Take care–continue to grow. 

                Love Ellen.”‘

When I was fourteen, when I received these notes, I had no awareness of how I appeared to others.  I didn’t understand how I looked different from most others.  As I matured and continued to grow over the years into my adulthood and learned more and more about autism I was able to comprehend more and more about my behavior and how autism could affect the subtleties of facial expressions, used in non-verbal communication, as well as verbal cues.  The eyes especially reveal introversion or deep thinking, as in my case, or on the other hand extroversion with sustain focus on other people.  The eyes that are windows of the soul, though other parts of the face are equally involved in displaying emotions, tend to be very challenging for those with autism to recognize.  As I had become more aware of these things I learned to tune my focus outward to others and enliven my facial expressions.  My husband Kris noticed a big change in my expressions though the process was very gradual.

 

Throughout the blackberry season each summer, often on my way walking home from work, I picked the berries from vacant lots overgrown with bushes that were only a few blocks from our house.  Each year I had filled six to eight half-gallon size plastic containers to store in our large freezer.  Most of them had been for Kris for breakfast cereals and desserts.  I liked mine best as I picked them fresh from the bush.

The big freezer provided us with enough space to freeze the summer and fall crops; seaweed, nettles, rhubarb, applesauce, and a variety of squashes for the entire year.  Every year best during early spring, I picked and steamed nettles from the vacant fields near us.  Often during late summer, friends and neighbors gave us zucchini, summer squash, and pumpkins.  Sometimes, whenever we were driven to the store before Halloween we purchased large pumpkins.  Though I made some pies, I processed them mostly to be eaten with rice.

 

During the early nineties when I had heard that it is unhealthy to hold back any urge to sneeze, I began to work on my compulsion to stop such urges out of unfounded embarrassment.  It wasn’t easy to break away from the old patterns that I had had for so many years, but I knew that it needed to be done.  Since sneezing is nature’s way of clearing out irritants from the system, it is necessary not to interfere with the process. 

It was the easiest among close family members, including my in-laws, or the crowds in public places to let go of my compulsion.  On the other hand, when at work or with friends or acquaintances, it was the most difficult to let urges to sneeze go freely as I felt that I was where people would judge me the most even though intellectually I knew that I was also safe with them.  By 1993 as I had allowed myself to sneeze freely, without any neurotic inhibitions.

 

During the end of January of 1993, I was summoned for jury duty at the King County Superior Justice in downtown Seattle for two weeks.  Since this was the first time that I was summoned and was able to go, it was interesting to see what the court system was like.  I had been called once before for jury duty, but it was in Virginia shortly after I began college and wasn’t able to serve.  This provided me with an opportunity to learn new things with a break in my normal routine especially since I would be paid my regular wages minus the compensation from the courts.

There was a great deal of waiting time in the big holding room between being called for court cases so I had plenty of time to catch up on reading.  I had brought along a bunch of magazines and books to read while I waited with hundreds of other potential jurors.  There were always more people than were actually needed as things were often settled out of court the last minute, but we needed to have them available.  It was fun to become acquainted with some of them as we came from diverse backgrounds.

I was also able to take advantage of what downtown Seattle offered, since I didn’t get a chance to go there often since our move to Pacific.  We all had at least an hour and a half lunch break that provided me with enough time to browse the art galleries and shops.  Throughout the two weeks I went on a minor spending spree to take advantage of being by shops, especially since I was out of the way of the stores even in Auburn.  I included as much grocery shopping as possible so I wouldn’t need to go for a while.  I even shopped at Puget Consumers Co-op and Recreational Equipment Incorporated whenever I was dismissed early in the day.

Luckily the weather was very mild for the time of the year with some sunshine and hardly any rain.  Most of the days I packed my own lunch and ate at mini parks where I was able to sit on a bench during my lunch hour.  A few other days I purchased lunch at a variety of ethnic delicatessens and tried different foods from Thailand, Turkey, and Russia.

It was very interesting to see how the justice system operated.  I was amazed that for each trial the jury selection process took which involve a lot of questions being asked to select twelve jurors and two alternates out of forty people for most of the cases.  The questions were to ensure that the jury would be as impartial and fair as possible.  After the questions were asked, some people were excused from the case, one by one, by both the defense and prosecution attorneys until the required number of jurors and alternates were left.

All during my first week at the courthouse, I was excused from one trial after another on the average of about one a day.  It had begun to get discouraging by the end of that week since I wanted to serve on at least one trial.  I was able to understand why I would be excused from one civic case that involved a vehicle since my lack of experience would make it harder for me to judge fairly.  But, the other trials, which were criminal, it wasn’t so clear, cut as how my experiences would put me at a disadvantage to the jury.  The attorneys were allowed to excuse up to six people each on their own discretion without any explanations.  It seemed likely by the end of the week that it might have been what my speech sounded like rather than what I said that might have influenced the attorneys who didn’t know me at all.

However, during the second week my experience at the court was completely different.  At the end of Tuesday, I finally was selected to serve on a trial as a second alternate.  I was happy that I was accepted rather than being turned away from some character flaw that I felt the week earlier.  I had taken being excused personally since I had related it to the discriminations against me from the past.

Though I felt honored to serve on a criminal trial, I had a little concern that I might not be able to pay attention since my mind had a tendency to wander off or I might doze if drowsy, especially in the afternoon shortly after lunch.  I surprised myself and exceeded my expectations of being able to pay close attention to the entire trial about an armed robbery that lasted a few days, even though this wasn’t my main area of interest which made it even more challenging.  I realized how important it was to take in every bit of information so that if I would participate in the deliberations, I would be able to weigh all of the evidences and make the best decision as possible.

Shortly after I was released from the case before it went into deliberations on Thursday morning, I was called for another criminal case about assault charges.  As I sat in the jury bench and the attorneys began excusing people, who sat on the bench with me, I got so nervous that my heart was pounding so hard I could hear it.  Since I only had one day left of the two-week stint of jury duty and this would possibly be my last chance to actually get on the jury and get involved with the deliberations, I was even more anxious than all of the first week.  I was expecting my name to be called due to my prior experience even though many of the people who sat with me had experiences with the police that would put them at a disadvantage for the trial.

After people were dismissed, I was pleasantly surprised that I had remained on the jury bench.  I was given a chance to serve on the entire case including the deliberations that I hadn’t been part of as an alternate.  I wanted to see what it was like to go through all of the processes at least once.  I didn’t mind extending jury duty for a few extra days into the third week as I would be paid up to fifteen days total.

After one and a half days of the testimonies, the twelve of us jurors spent an entire day deliberating.  I was surprised at how long it took us to agree and come to a decision.  There were some muddy areas, such as manifestation versus intention, in the law that some of us, including myself, got stuck on, which held us up.  We finally went to a non-guilty verdict with just enough time to catch the express bus to Auburn to make the last shuttle to Pacific.  I was back at work by Wednesday of the third week after having served for a total of eleven days.  Overall it was a highly valuable and educational experience of learning about the system and even more about me.

Posted by: dithorsos2 | September 5, 2008

Crossing Bridge to Greater Fulfilment (part 1)

CROSSING BRIDGES FOR A GREATER FULFILMENT

Darkness-Brightness

Growing up with deficits of process information,

I lagged behind in communication.

I was diagnosed with infantile autism,

Since I didn’t talk and did engage in self-stimulation.

Dealing with the ignorance of society,

Which led to prejudice and discrimination,

Not being understood and made fun of my odd mannerisms,

Took away many opportunities in socialization.

To keep my sanity, seek solace,

And utilize my strengths,

I pursued the visual arts,

To boost creativity in great lengths.

In high school, college, and beyond,

I was eventually integrated.

I had learned so much more,

As no more to be segregated.

My great need to be accepted,

Was the strong basis for my determination,

For working on my mannerisms,

To become more skilled in socialization.

I had gained a great deal of sensitivity,

Out of the training from my hardships.

With a greater tolerance and compassion for all,

It became easier to form enduring friendships.

I had learned not to take anything for granted,

And to live and enjoy each day as it comes.

I had learned to cherish the diversity of all peoples,

And accept what each person becomes.

Autism is not all negative or in the dark,

As it could bring forth qualities in delight.

With patience and determination,

One could view it in a positive light.

As I become more mature I become increasing less complacent in staying in a rut and the same job for ever.  I started to look at options beyond food service, which utilizes my mind more. As I gained more experience working at cafeterias and dealing with all sorts of people, I began to realize that I got as much of learning opportunities that I could use.  It was time to think about moving on.  A business slow down at Boeing led to a situation that got me to explore options to leave my job to start another chapter in my life.  Through several years of meditation and prayer with excellency training, I was able to overcome my compulsive overeating disorder and lose weight.

 

Early June of 1990 when my in-laws were in town, we looked in the classified ads in the newspaper before they drove us house hunting.  The ad that caught our attention was a three-bedroom house with two and a half bathrooms, reasonably priced, that was located in Pacific (south King County) about thirty miles south of Seattle.  I had checked the map and this was a little way (a few miles) from the main Auburn-Seattle bus route, we wanted at least to take a look at it to keep our options as open as possible.  We wouldn’t mind walking that far to a bus when going towards Seattle on weekends.  But, during the week, Monday through Friday from early morning to early evening, there was a small shuttle bus that provided service throughout the day to downtown Auburn.  The bus stop was only two blocks from the house that was very convenient for Kris and me to go to work.

After we looked over the house and yard and considered the transportation options, we bought the house and thought it was a good deal.  A builder and real estate spectator from Montana sold it to us.  He had camped in the house while it was on the market and had children near by in Kent.  A few months earlier, we looked at a house that was very similar to ours, but was located in the East hill area of Kent, and was much more expensive and beyond our means.  Now we were looking for a home during the trail end of the building boom in the Puget Sound region that led to a seller’s market.

We purchased the house with a deed of trust from the seller to assume the thirty-year mortgage.  We depleted all of our savings and bonds to make a small down payment.  We would pay up the trust when we sold our condominium in Seattle.  Because we didn’t need to apply for a new mortgage and we had an excellent credit rating with good collateral, the deal was closed only within two weeks.  We were able to move in on June 16, 1990.

We were lucky to have relatives and Ray to help us move our belongings in a van and two pickup trucks.  It took about six van loads to move all of our cartons of things, which didn’t even include our furniture and big items.  People were amazed at how much we were able pack in our one-bedroom condo. A few days later we had professional movers transport the remaining bulkier things.  My in-laws loaned us a mattress to sleep on until we had all of our belongings.

It was very nice having three bedrooms and three bathrooms since we were able to put them into good uses coming from cramped quarters.  We had the master bedroom with its own bathroom.  The sink is in the vanity area by Kris’ closet.  I had my own closet closer to the hallway.  The guest bedroom close was to the main bathroom that we hardly use.  I had my own room for meditation and drawing projects.  I assembled my drawing table and eventually purchased a backless chair with knee support to help improve my posture.  In the living areas Kris had enough room for his musical instruments and his desk.

Our garage had the hook up for a washer and dryer as there was no utility room or area in the house.  Since these appliances weren’t included in our house I did our laundry at a Laundromat and my in-laws until we had a chance to shop for them.  On the days that I went to the Laundromat, I hauled the load of laundry to work and on the way home I stopped in Auburn to get it done.  One day we went to my in-laws we brought our laundry along to have it done there.  When my in-laws stopped at our place after visiting friends over bridge and drove us to an appliance store in Auburn for a washer and dryer.  We celebrated my thirty-third birthday by purchasing the needed appliances.  Since neither Kris nor I drove, going to a Laundromat was very inconvenient and made my days after work longer.

Our house was only three years old with the front and back yards already put in and a deck in the back.  The trees and shrubbery–evergreens, dogwood, apple and pear trees, and rhododendrons were already planted.  Though there wasn’t a vegetable or herb garden, I saw a great potential.  I dug up as much crops from our Seattle pea patch as I could take in the shopping cart that I picked up the evening before our move.  I transplanted them–lemon balm, mint, parsley, and spinach–into our new garden.  Before I had room to plant additional things, I needed to remove rocks from the areas that I wanted to raise a garden.  It took me all summer to clear the area.

After our Seattle condo being on the market for six months when the contract with our Realtor expired, my in-laws decided to purchase it.  My mother-in-law felt that the property value would go up with our old place being so close to the new convention center and brand new construction springing up on most of our old block.  They intended to rent out the unit until ready to sell.  As part of the deal of them buying the unit from us, they sold us an acre of their property on Harstine Island mostly for investment.

As soon as we received the money for our condo, we were able to pay off the deed of trust to our seller and buy a complete bedroom set.  My in-laws took us to a furniture store to shop when they were in town during January of 1991.  We picked out a set with medium shaded oak, including a full-sized mattress and even an oak veneered cedar chest.  We also bought matching brass lamps for our night tables.  Before we had it delivered we moved our old bedroom furniture into the guest bedroom, except for my cheap chest of drawers that we moved into the small entrance area by the front door where we stored our table cloths, kitchen towels, hats, and gloves.

One afternoon in March when we were able to get everyone together who helped us move and their families, we treated them to dinner at a restaurant with buffet style meals in Puyallup that was recommended by my mother-in-law.  A relative of mine who was on business in Seattle joined us.  We wanted to do something to provide a token of appreciation for all the help they gave us that greatly reduced the moving costs.

 

Since we lived only a few blocks from one of the two railroad tracks, we heard every train that passed through that track.  As several weeks went by being in our new house, we had become oblivious to the noise as the novelty wore off.  The sounds never bothered us.  But, there was one noise that was much louder and more unpleasant, with a much higher pitch, sirens from the fire and police stations.  They went off several times a week until these departments were modernized with a pager system to alert people when help was needed.  This occurred only after living in Pacific for a few weeks, so we didn’t need to put up with the piercing shrilling sound for long with all the neighborhood dogs barking simultaneously.

The City of Pacific, population of around 5,000, was nestled above Algona and near Auburn.  It sat above the King/ Pierce County border.  The center of town consisted of police and fire stations, city hall, a gym, senior center, library, post office, and a general store.  Kris purchased milk in gallon jugs at the neighborhood store so I wouldn’t need to haul it home from Auburn or whenever I shopped for groceries.  I still preferred to shop at supermarkets of health food stores where I could get better prices and selections.  Pacific also had a park situated on the White River with a playground and picnic areas where community events were held every summer.

Since the City of Pacific was founded in 1909, there had been a community festival (Pacific Days) at the park where there were all sorts of games and activities for the children and booths with a variety of things and food for sale.  A stage on wheels had been set up for all sorts of entertainment throughout the weekend, including a Saturday night community dance with live bands–mostly country and oldies.  Kris and I enjoyed strolling through the booths as the music was performed during the day.  It was fun watching children of our community go by and having fun themselves.  Since we didn’t have any children, it was the only time we saw them other than Halloween.  We came back for the evening band to dance the evening away with people waving sticks with florescent colors that glowed in the dark for a festive effect.

 

On our first Halloween in Pacific in 1990, we stayed home for part of the evening and had the candy ready for the trick or treaters if they come.  Once the sun went down, our doorbell rang about every five minutes as all of children of our community came by in costume.  I was surprised that so many of them, who didn’t know us, came as in large inner cities such as New York, trick or treating door to door to strangers had been discouraged since the late sixties due to reports of treats that were tainted.  I didn’t remember getting anyone for the holiday when I was in any of my places in Seattle, especially in our First Hill condo where there were hardly any children around.  Apparently it takes a long time for small town mentality to catch up with the big city fears.

Shortly after supper I went out to the community Halloween events in the center of Pacific–a haunted house and carnival.  I walked through the haunted house once to see what it was like.  It was extremely frightening for the little ones with flickering lights, strange noises, and movement of machinery in shadows.  There were free refreshments at the carnival, including hot-dogs from donations by various sources of the community.  I dressed up in things that I already had Indian saris or monochrome top and bottom.  It was a lot of fun seeing what everyone else was wearing.  I mostly stayed in the refreshments area where there were seating and most of the traffic passed.

The subsequent years on Halloween, Kris joined me and we were out during the entire evening starting with a walk in the neighborhood when it got dark.  We then went to and ate at the carnival and volunteered to help with the refreshment and the game booths.  When Kris worked later until 5:30 PM, he went directly there.  We made some friends there whom we kept in contact several times a year, though they were more like casual acquaintances.

It was very evident that Pacific was very child friendly as the town had attracted mostly families with children.  On our quiet street on a nice day during the summer, there were often a lot of young children out playing.  Most of the homes near us had small ones.  I enjoyed seeing and hearing the kids when I arrived home from work or a walk or when I did yard work in the front.  My father-in-law had installed a basketball hoop for Kris and whatever neighbor young ones would like to use.

 

One day shortly after our move to Pacific I looked at myself in the mirror and began to notice that I was much thinner than I used to be.  I then realized that my shorts, even the newer ones from just a year earlier, were getting looser and looser.  My stomach was getting flatter.  Kris thought that this resulted from the stress of the move as excessive stress in general could lead to unexplained weight loss.  Though change in general could be stressful, I didn’t feel more stressed than usual as I looked very much forward to the move.  I knew it had to be from something else.

In retrospect, it occurred to me that three months earlier when I began the cook’s helper position, I became the most motivated I ever had been to control my over eating.  Somehow a change in an aspect of my life increased farther the need to change myself to make the new beginning more dramatic–especially with a problem I had tried to overcome for years.  As soon as I had begun my new job classification, that just happen to be at the beginning of my monthly cycle when it was easiest for increased motivation, I eliminated in-between-meals snacks.  Looking back over the few months, I realized that even during the end of my menstrual cycles when I tended to be at my lowest ebb, I didn’t go on binges, though at parties I ate more than usual but with a more control than previously.

 As months and years went by, I was able to maintain my weight lose of around twenty-five pounds.  I got down to about 140 lbs. that is slim for my height and body build.  I was finally cured of my eating disorder by the time I was thirty-three years old.  Through prayer and meditation, I was able to persevere and change my negative karma.  I kept envisioning myself with a slimmer figure and good posture so this could become reality (not that fat is ugly or should be undesirable).  I no longer had a distorted or negative sense of my body image and was able to transform it into a positive image that I was happy with.  There are many people who are both fat and beautiful and accept their bodies.  I just knew that I would feel better from not eating so much.  I learned to change my relationship with food—from it being a pacifier into a source of nutrition.  I changed from living to eat to eating to live.

Nevertheless, I theorized that since I was approaching middle age, the slowing down of the metabolism which generally occurs during one’s thirties, was responsible for decreasing my ravenous appetite which made it easier to control my over eating.  I had had the eating disorder for about twenty years since my early adolescence when I was twelve and began to gain weight to be slightly on the plump side.  Prior to that all through out my childhood I ate only enough to satisfy my hunger and was slim.  So in that regard I reverted back into my childhood, in a healthier sense–eating only until full.

 

In addition on getting a grip on my self-destructive eating behavior, I had taken liquid herbal-based supplements in conjunction to my vegetarian diet.  During the early nineties, I took two rich liquid formulas, Km and the Natural Drive made from extractions from a bunch of herbs that were rich in nutrition.  I had heard that some vitamin pills aren’t well absorbed by the body and I wanted something that would be better assimilated by my system.  I thought that the liquid form would be best absorbed as it wouldn’t need to be broken down in the stomach as much as the pill forms.  I had taken some vitamin pills, even the higher quality ones for a little while, until I became discouraged by what I read in nutrition books that were against them.

Perhaps the formulas, which were touted as blood purifiers and energizers, could be the answer for correcting any nutritional deficiencies I might have.  The pamphlets, with various case personal stories, touted the product as a cure for all sorts of physical ailments including the minor common complaints.  The formula was sold only through multi-level marketing by distributorship.  I began taking it in the spring of 1990 just before our move.  I wasn’t deterred by its high price as I was hopeful that this might make me more vibrant.  I was encouraged by the individual case claims, though they might be biased.  I took a spoonful of it from an easy to use dispenser twice a day.

After taking Km, which I tried first, for a few years, I attributed the decrease in my environmental and seasonal sensitivities and a better control of my excessive appetite to being on the product.  But, I didn’t notice much of other improvements in my health.  I tried other things simultaneously for better health such as thyroid medication and dental amalgam replacements.

Though I liked the unusual strong herbal flavor of Km, both Kris and I liked the flavor of Natural Drive, which was in a base of aloe vera juice and honey, even better.  With my influence Kris took the newer product with me for a little while until he began experiencing headaches.  I used up the Km before I took the Natural Drive that lasted through spring of 1994.

After taking Natural Drive regularly for over half a year, I began to notice that I was having reactions–flatulence and lethargy.  It took me a little while to figure out what this was from until I was tested to be sensitive to the product.  I was surprised that something that was supposed to build health could do the opposite.

Since I hated to discard the remaining bottles due to the high cost, I cut back on the dosage until I felt that I had to avoid it entirely.  Though Km didn’t cause such reactions it too wasn’t effective in the long run.  I had learned from personal experience as well from publications that in general that highly concentrated substances, as in medicines, lose their effectiveness when taken continuously or could even be harmful.  Highly concentrated herbal extracts, as with pharmaceuticals, should only be consumed during a short term to treat a certain ailment and with discretion.  For long term, the best supplements are the high quality one from a food source taken with meals for maximum absorption.

 

I had tried other things that also weren’t very effective such as thyroxin hormone to boost thyroid function.  Shortly before our move from Seattle I was tested by Group Health and found I had a borderline thyroid deficiency, which was very common in women, and was given prescriptions to the lowest dose of thyroxin.  After taking it for about a year I didn’t notice any benefits from it so I went off it.  I had read that general overall improvement in health from the most optimal nutrition could be the most effective in correcting low thyroid function, especially the more mild cases such as mine.  Health doesn’t come in a bottle–only by a combination of practices that balances the body, mind, and spirit.

One thing that I did in the spring of 1991 which appeared to have been the most effective was to get my old dental mercury/silver amalgam replaced by resin composites which were about the same color as teeth.  Within a few months of having it done I noticed that my environmental sensitivities such as to pollens had subsided with just a slight reaction of congestion to mold remaining.  As my old fillings need replacement I had demanded our dentist at Auburn to use mercury-free substances.  Mercury even in small dosages, as in vapor formed by the dental amalgams, is highly toxic and implicated in various health problems that often affect the thyroid and digestion.

The food that I stored in our kitchen cupboards were mostly unprocessed staples I often bought in bulk, as wide of variety of grains and beans as available in the stores, and only a few canned goods, ramen noodles, and some pasta, most of which had been for Kris.  Since our kitchen didn’t come with a pantry, a few of the cupboards we bought shortly after our wedding which we moved from Seattle had been very handy in storing our staples.  We had them stacked on one another in the recreation room that I could get to easily.  Years later, I picked up an old file cabinet for legal sized folders on the side of a road and I purchased small shelves on wheels that we also store food in.

 

Just within a week of our move my hours at work were lengthened to two additional hours a day since we needed more time to get our work done without anyone staying overtime.  This made my shift from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  This benefited me since we were able to use the increase in my paychecks to better make ends meet with a much larger mortgage than we had had at our condo.  Though I had a much longer commute, which made my day even longer.

As soon as we moved to Pacific, I put in a request to transfer to the Auburn Boeing plant that was very close to us.  Even though Renton where I had worked was only about fifteen miles from us, it was still a long commute by bus involving two transfers in the mornings and one in the afternoons if I walked a few miles from the main bus line in Auburn.  It took about two hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon.  Even though the distance from Seattle had been comparable, the commute had been quicker and easier as there were bus routes that were much more direct.

After going back and forth from Pacific to Renton five days a week for only one week, it was very tiring as I was out of the house as much as eleven hours a day, though I only worked six of these hours.  I became so stressed out from worrying whether I would be able to keep it up until the transfer came through, that my immune system was compromised and I was susceptible to colds even during the summer when I almost never caught them.  At least I was well by a family gathering with my in-laws for Independence Day of 1990.

Sometimes I felt so worn out and discouraged that I drove my co-workers crazy with complaining, though I had considered myself generally easy going.  I even contemplated of seeking other employment located in Auburn so I would have a much easier commute.  Sometimes I was even tempted to take jobs that weren’t as desirable as the one I had to be closer to home.  Sometimes when I was in a situation that was highly stressful, such as long and tiring commute five days a week, week in and week out, my rationality becomes compromised.  I felt that I would do just about anything to alleviate the problem even if the choice would be unwise.  Kris had informed me of job openings by his office in positions in the mailroom and janitorial services.  They either involved lower pay or working during evenings which made them undesirable.  Before I had a chance to fill out an application I came to my senses and felt that it would be much better in the long run to stay in food service and wait things out.

At least I had one good thing in my commute in that I wasn’t alone in my struggles.  In the mornings while I was on the Auburn-Renton-Bellevue-University express bus, routed along highways 167 and 405, I socialized with a very friendly and intelligent woman who was in a similar situation as I except she was single and had grown children.  She even had farther to go as she worked in the University District in Seattle.  She took the bus all through the long route though she drove to the North Auburn Park and Ride to catch it.  She was in the process of finding another job that was closer to her new place in Auburn.  She also had other commonalties with me such as having food sensitivities though they differed.

I had another consolation until my transfer in that my co-workers at Garden Plaza were very friendly and closely knit.  They acknowledged everyone’s birthdays with cards and gifts.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much they gave me for my thirty-third birthday that occurred during the wait for the transfer.  Whenever someone had surgery and was out recuperating a collection was taken to have a bouquet of fresh flowers delivered.  A black male cook, who worked directly with me and trained me in my position, was a joy to be with.  He was cheerful with a good sense of humor and gave me with frequent praises and encouragement that often made my day.

By the fall of 1990, I had noticed that more and more information on the formation of Boeing vanpools was being posted in the lobby of Garden Plaza that might make my commute easier.  When I responded to one going to the south end, the coordinator informed me that since the vans only make stops at selected park and ride lots, I would need to get to them by other means.  The one I inquired about didn’t make stops in Auburn at all, but the closest one was located in Federal Way (over the west hill from Auburn) that was inconvenient.

A good thing that I received from the phone call, without my being aware, was that a ride was being arranged for me by a male Boeing employee of Pacific.  One evening I received a surprise phone call from this man offering to give me a ride all the way to Renton Boeings while he waited to get on a vanpool.  The same vanpool that we both had inquired about was already filled and another was in the process of being formed.  I was elated as my commuting woes came to an end.  I was picked up in enough time to have breakfast before my shift.  But, there were a few hours between the end times of our shifts since the driver worked full-time and weren’t done until after four.  I didn’t mind since I was able to get my walking and shopping done during that time.  I just appreciated getting a ride.

The driver was very nice and didn’t ask me for reimbursement for gas since this was a very temporary situation and I expected my transfer to go through very soon as I heard that they were building a brand new cafeteria at the Auburn plant which was supposed to be ready for its opening in October of 1990.  As soon as I arrived at work on Friday after being driven the third morning, my supervisor informed me that my transfer did go through and I was to start at the new Auburn cafeteria the next Monday morning.

I was elated that the long tiring commute to Renton was over.  Even though I had a ride very briefly, I couldn’t depend on having it all the time.  My driver mentioned the possibility of being transferred to another plant and sometimes his volunteer commitments with the fire department could keep him away from his job.  On the last day my co-workers were sad to see me go and surprised me with a gift certificate at Fred Meyer.  It was just as well that I was given the certificate rather than a wrapped gift as I needed to rush through lunch and leave early for a weekend retreat.  I didn’t have time to open up anything.

 

Prior to the transfer, I went to an interview with a manager at the Auburn Boeings Fabrication Plant, who informed me that I was chosen for the cook’s helper position at the new facility to utilize the experience I already had.  My hours were being increased by two hours a day and I was to start my shift two hours earlier at 6:00 AM and was to finish at the same time, 2:00 PM.  I was happy to have the opportunity to work practically full-time as the larger paychecks would make it even easier to meet take care of our expenses.

On October 22, 1990, I began at the brand new cafeteria in a brand new building, number 1744 that also contained a large auditorium for meetings and seminars.  The first day wasn’t open for service, but just to test all of the brand new equipment out to see if they worked okay.

The relatively less time that I spent with my short easy commute to the new location more than offset the added hours to my new shift.  To be at my new cafeteria before six, I caught the earliest shuttle bus that picked me up at five in the morning.  In the afternoons, I walked home since I lived only a few miles from the plant and it was a good time to get my exercise done.  It took me about 45 minutes to walk.  Somehow the same hours that were used working rather than commuting were much less tiring.

Since I needed close to two hours in the mornings to get ready before leaving for work, without sacrificing meditation and stretching exercises, I set my alarm clock to get up at 3:00 AM to be ready to leave for the 5:00 AM bus.  It was difficult to go to bed before nine as I often engaged in evening activities and I had only about four hours in the evening since I took a long afternoon nap.  I was able to make up enough sleep with my nap.  I tended to sleep in during the weekends to be more in line with my natural circadian rhythm.  Though I considered myself to be more of a morning person, three in the morning was a bit early for me, but I got used to it in order not to be too rushed.

About twice a month I walked from work a few miles, the opposite direction from home, to downtown Auburn to deposit my weekly paychecks and shop for groceries.  Though portions of the route between Boeings and the shops weren’t pedestrian friendly–without sidewalks even on busy streets and rough areas–I adapted very well even if it means getting my feet wet from walking on wet grass on rainy days.  I usually went on a Friday, as it took several hours that ran into my normal naptime.  I had the weekend to recuperate from missing my nap.  By the time I was done shopping, it was time to catch the 4:30 shuttle bus home.  I carried the groceries in my big backpack and a few things for easier access in a cotton bag.  Though I generally was fine throughout the trek, I became exhausted on Friday.

Though I had kept the same job title with my transfer to the Auburn plant, many of my duties were very different.  I still prepared the frozen vegetables, baked and steamed red potatoes, and rice.  The first thing I did during my shift was to prepare four buckets of bleach water solution for the back and the serving stations.  Nobody else wanted to do it.  I prepared the frozen baked goods for baking.  I fixed the hamburger garnishes.  I made coleslaw with use of the commercial food processor.

Occasionally, I helped serve breakfast when the lines were long and I was available.  During the lunch service hours, when there tended to be many more people and more lines, I rotated several stations–deep fried foods, hot sandwiches, and hot entrees with the side dishes.   Generally the customers whom I served were very friendly.  Whenever they had them they must had left them at their work areas.  They appeared to be happy to be served by me as I always smiled and greeted them and delivered their requests, including special demands without ever complaining.  I just wanted them to be satisfied.  It didn’t matter whether they wanted breads from the deli bar, certain sandwiches, or extra things.

After serving people everyone put aside plates for lunch in the warmer.  I put away all the hot foods to be saved in two crescents in a small cooler in the middle of the work area.  I also hand washed all of the things which didn’t fit in the dishwasher such as cutting boards, large mixing bowls, and knives.

Posted by: dithorsos2 | September 5, 2008

Responding to Comments

Hi,

If I do not respond to comments or approval for anything, it may be because I can not access my account.  This happened to me just recently when I was denighed my access to my account: www.dithorsos.wordpress.com.  My password was lost in the registry.  I could still access of what was already inputed.  I just can not add anymore things, enless things get fixed. You can read the first 8 chapters of my autobiography and a few other things there.  You can watch my videos on Youtube.  Here is a sample:

<object width=”425″ height=”350″> <param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/8VDohPhaJIo”&gt; </param> <embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/8VDohPhaJIo&#8221; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”425″ height=”350″> </embed> </object> that is about an edible green, French Sorrel.

Debbie

Posted by: dithorsos2 | September 5, 2008

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