CROSSING BRIDGES FOR A GREATER FULFILMENT
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.