It All Started With A Batman Watch . . .
Two months ago, I somehow lost the back off of my Batman watch. It happened sometime between the time that I was at my mother’s house in North Carolina and when I was back in my dorm in Texas, just prior to the start of the spring semester. Having a lack of options to fix said watch, I did the only thing I could do; I taped the back of it closed with masking tape.
Two months later, it was still like that.
Two days ago, the section of the watch band that holds it to the metal watch face decided to disconnect. The watch itself was still okay, tape and all, but the band holding it all together no longer was connected to itself.
Having no other options, I discovered that since the band is made of leather, it still held the original hooked shape, and I could still wear the watch like that; the only issue was that I couldn’t pull on it or throw my arm around, because the watch would fling off.
Yesterday, I was in the bathroom just prior to class. I did my thing, flushed the toilet, and then watched helplessly as my watch jumped off my wrist into the toilet.
Now, you have to understand one thing: I like this watch. It is a Batman: The Animated Series watch. I’ve had this watch for a frickin’ 9 years!!! It’s the best watch in the world. Batman, I mean seriously!
So with that in mind, I naturally reacted by grabbing the watch quickly out of the toilet. And then I washed my hands. But as I said, luckily this happened after the toilet was flushed.
It might have been waterproof at one point in its life–I don’t know–but with the back missing, it definitely was not now. Yup, you guessed it. It had stopped ticking (it’s also an analog watch). So I grabbed some paper towels and transferred some of my aspie energy out into shaking the thing in a pitiful attempt to get the water out.
Water came out, but it didn’t start; so dejectedly I went down the hall to my class, having forgotten, in the excitement, to grab my notebook out of my locker upstairs.
This particular class is a class divided into two sections. For the first half of the semester, we spent the class with Mr. Joe (one of the best improv piano players around, and also one of my music therapy professors), learning the basics of songwriting (and consequently performing); the second part will be spent with Dr. Hadsell, the music therapy program head, learning about the autoharp. The other class spent the first half of the semester with her and now they have Mr. Joe.
So I show up to class on time, but without my notebook, and proceed to get the speech about showing up to class prepared vs. not, along with most of the rest of the class. At this point in the class, there are only five of us there. There’s only 9 in the class total, but our class has a loyal bunch that’s always there, and another few who are sometimes there and one who’s rarely there . . . *rolls eyes* Dr. Hadsell says, “Is this it?” And I say, “mostly. We have a few who might be here in the next 15 minutes or so.” Dr. Hadsell responds with, “Well, that’s not going to cut it. If they do that in my class, they are going to fail.”
We spend the rest of the class taking notes from the Power Point display. It registers dimly in my brain that it’s awfully dark in there for an 8:30 class, but the thought no more wanders through my brain before it wanders right out again. The next class I have is right after this one, in the same classroom and with the same teacher. Fun, no?
Three-fourths of the way through the class, it starts raining–hard; it rumbles a bit too, but nothing too spectacular. Dr. Hadsell makes the comment that the rain sounds odd, as though there could be sleet mixed in. Then she goes on with the class and dismisses us.
Curious about the rain, I go and look outside. You can’t see much from our window, because there is a fire escape right next to us. But there is a space right next to the building where you can see the rain hitting the windowsill.
Hitting and bouncing off.
“It’s sleeting.” I announce to those who are still in the classroom. “It’s mixed in the rain. Look, you can see it bouncing off of the windowsill.” A few people come over and look. One rolls her eyes and says, “oh great.”
I go out into the hallway, take out my watch and look at it sadly. On a whim, I pull out the knob that sets the time and then push it back it.
It starts ticking.
I smack my forehead with my hand, just as my friend Amy (who happens to be blind), walks by and subsequently hears it.
“What was that?” She asks.
“My stupid watch . . . ” I grumble and proceed to tell her the story. I swear, stuff like this always happens in my life.
I go back to the room to get my stuff and find three of my friends still there. One of them is certified in Reiki, and she was helping the other two feel better with it. They were discussing the concept of lunch when I walked in there, even though it was cold and still pouring down rain. I had a sandwich with me, but the idea of going to lunch with friends was too great to pass up. I had some money on my card, so I decided to go with it.
We stepped out into the cold rain, three of us with hooded coats and one without. The one without had an umbrella, and so did I. We had only walked a few feet when something in me decided to take the lead. The way they were heading was a lower path, and the way that I was looking at angled a bit more steeply up, leaving less deep water to have to go through. Maybe it was not wanting to have to walk through fast moving streams that made me go this way, or else it was just a natural feeling of “let’s get to higher ground,” either way suddenly I found myself saying, “let’s go this way!” And suddenly there I was, leading a trek.
The rain was cold. We could see our breath. Granted, the day before was in the mid-70s. This is north Texas after all. The music building is not the farthest building away from the student union (the art building beside us is), but it’s one of the farther ones out. Soon, it became apparent to me that we needed to hurry up, because the rain was getting harder and it was getting windier. Thus, I tried to hurry the pace a bit, as if some kind of ancient feeling inside of me was perking up its ears. All four of us are music therapy majors. So it amused me to no end as two of the three behind me started singing.
We passed by a building just as a girl with no hood and no umbrella came out. In my traditional aspie fashion, I randomly introduced myself to her by saying, “Hi! We’re going on a trek. Wanna come?” She shrugged, looked at us, smiled and said, “Sure.” I put my umbrella over her head too, and we continued on our way. Soon the wind picked up even more and I told her that her payment for this voyage was that she held down her side of the umbrella while I held down my side, to keep it from being blown inside out, as it was threatening to.
I couldn’t hear the others behind me very well, so I repeatedly shouted out, “Just keep singing! Just keep singing!” as we made our way up the rest of the way. I explained to her that we were music majors and that this was just one of those situations that you occasionally find yourself in. We got on quite well and she thanked me for the journey and the cover as we got to our destination. We went up the back stairs while she continued around the side (the covered side).
Once inside, me and the other girl with the umbrella offered to cover the other two girls. See, we live on campus and they don’t, so since we have to have meal plans (even though mine is only 8 meals per week), we both get extra money on our cards as well. The other two would have had to pay out of pocket for it and this way they didn’t. While standing in line for food, I happened to look out the window just in time to see something that looked like large white cotton strands floating past the window, mixed in with the rain.
Excitedly, I called to my friend on the other side of the room, “Hey! It’s snowing!!!” Other people heard me and reacted to my words by turning around and staring at the windows. Five minutes later, those solitary and random strands of cotton like material mixed in with the rain had taken over the scene. It was no longer a mix of snow, sleet and rain. No, now it was snowing.
Five minutes later, I looked again to see that the snow amount had doubled. Whereas before, it had been “snowing,” now it was “Snowing.” Through lunch, we watched it pick up even more in intensity, and even though it had been 70 only the day before, the snow was already starting to stick to the ground. Suddenly, wildly, we started to wonder, would school get canceled??? My next class was at 12:30 and it had started snowing about 12:10. I doubted very much that my class would get canceled, but by the time I started to walk out, I had a strong suspicion that the school wouldn’t be open much longer.
Just as I was walking down the hallway towards the outside door, I saw something flicker outside. Sometimes my eyes play tricks on me. Periodically I’ll see things flicker/move out of the corner of my eye. I’m sort of used to it. So I tried to logic it away by saying to myself that it was probably only an overhead light flickering. Yeah, that was probably it.
When I stepped outside, I was amazed at how much snow had already accumulated in just 20 minutes. Not only was it on the grass, but it was also on the sidewalks.
And that’s when a large peal of thunder broke through my thoughts. I realized with a start that that flicker I had seen was most likely lightning. Without further ado, it thundered again and turned into a rain of sleet. I said to hell with it and shoved my umbrella in the side of my backpack, put on my gloves and started my way across campus, across the ice and slush. I got to class late, but explained it away that I had been trying not to kill myself as it rained tiny particles of ice all down around me on top of the inch of slushy ice that was already there.
During class, the sleet let up and it started pouring snow again. After class, someone went out into the hallway, only to rush back in shouting, “The school is closing at 2 pm! The school is closing at 2 pm!!!” There was supposed to be a choir concert that night. Now there wouldn’t be.
My friend and I were meeting that afternoon to work on a project. Well, we met, but we didn’t work. Instead, we found ourselves discussing things like, snow, apartments and driving. Her apartment was about fifteen minutes away from the school, but she had never driven in snow. As we watched the outdoors, we realized soon enough that it wasn’t just the snow that we would have to contend with, but also the gale force winds that was bringing the visibility of the outside world quickly down to null.
I went to undergrad in the mountains of North Carolina. I haven’t been through a lot of snow storms (and this certainly wasn’t a blizzard), but I have been through a few and I did have more experience with this sort of thing than my friend did.
I offered her a spot on my couch, but she said that she wanted to make a run for it home before the storm got any worse. It was 2 pm at this point. It had been snowing for nearly 2 hours at this point. There was already about 2 or 3 inches on the ground. She offered me a ride back to my dorm. I said sure. At least this way I could give her a few tips on how to drive in the snow.
We get outside and immediately I realize that visibility is not only lousy for drivers, but also for people on foot. Two steps outside and my feet are already soaked through. The wind is blowing straight from the north. I wear glasses, but they aren’t helping any. I finally have to put my hand up on the side of my head in order to see at all to get across the road.
Oh. The road.
The road is a complete mess.
My hometown is the type of place that overreacts to snow. My hometown is in the piedmont or foothills of NC, right on the NC-SC border; about an hour west of Charlotte. If it had been snowing like that for 2 hours back in my hometown, they would have already had the snow plows out and the salt/sand trucks going. In Texas? Nope. None of that. The road is a chunky mixture of slush, ice and snow. It might as well be a back road in the middle of the mountains, as opposed to one of the main roads next to a public university.
It takes me five minutes to get across the street, thanks to the drivers. Did I mention that they were crazy?
I’ve only gone about 40 feet and for one wild moment, I think I’m lost. All the familiar landmarks are missing, I can’t see anything, I’m in danger of becoming overwhelmed and I can’t find my friend. Screwing up my eyes, I put my hand to the side of my face and look again, a bit farther out. Oh, there she is.
I make it to where she is and throw my stuff into the car and then get in myself. Moments later, she gets in too and we just stop and look at each other and breathe for a bit.
“Okay,” I say, “luckily you have this nice snow covered parking lot to get in some quick (short) practice for driving on the snow.
“I’ve never driven in snow.” She says, mildly hysterically.
“Okay, no worries. We’ll do this together. What you need to do is to remember two things: gradual pressure on your gas and never slam on your brakes.” This I remember from driver’s ed in the 9th grade, 9 years ago, just like my watch, which is at that point on my wrist, held on with a paper clip.
Some other things that I remember about driving in the snow are:
- You don’t want to stop on hills
- You don’t really want to stop if you can help it
- You want to increase the amount of following space behind other drivers, as it will take longer to stop
- Gradual speed/no slamming of brakes (already mentioned)
- No distractions (like radio/cellphone whathaveyou)
- If you feel like you’re getting stuck, don’t slow down
And other things like that. I don’t know how many of these are entirely accurate, but they’re what I remember and that’s what we go with. As I told her, it was also good that she had someone riding with her, because if we got stuck, she’d have someone to help push the car. Perhaps not the most comforting thing to say in the world, but hey, sometimes honesty is a good thing.
The trip to the dorm is a trip that normally takes about 5 minutes by car. Yesterday it took about 15 minutes. And we passed three people stuck on the side of the road in the process. Those were comforting sights. Not. *sarcasm*
Speaking of people on the side of the road, I talked to a friend of mine who had talked to a friend of hers who had been driving on the highway during all of this, and at the time she had talked to him, he had already passed 14 wrecks (and that had been in the hour before).
Naively, I thought that when we got to the main street, highway 380, they would have at least plowed that. What did I know? In NC, they would have already. In Texas, not so much. In fact, in some ways it was worse, because there were more people who had no clue about anything driving like maniacs every which way you turned.
We get to the parking lot in front of my dorm (oh look, someone else stuck in the snow) and we drive up to the front. The parking lot has a slight hill in it and we’re going up. I take this opportunity to mention the hill rule. No stopping and in fact, why don’t we go a little faster? But gradually!
By this point, I’ve decided that I’m going to let my friend go off driving by herself to her apartment. She’s already invited me to visit once before, and she’s made the offer again now. I take her up on it. Feeling very strongly that I’m probably going to be staying the night, I run up to my room, grab five dvds, my meds, my pajama bottoms and a pair of warm socks (because, remember, mine are soaked through) and then run back downstairs.
We make it back out into the craziness and proceed on down the road. Luckily, I’ve been to her apartment once before, because in her anxiety, she can’t figure out which way she is going and keeps getting turned around.
Aspies are often said to be in a constant state of fight or flight. Our anxiety levels are cranked a lot higher than NTs, causing us a lot of extra fear and anxiety about more things in our lives than most people. During regular situations, this has a tendency to be a bad thing.
However, I discovered yesterday that it wasn’t necessarily always a bad thing to be used to living in a constant state of near-panic. As it happened, my friend, a very calm person normally (she has some aspie characteristics actually, but probably isn’t full blown aspie), was really close to freaking out.
On the other hand, I was monumentally calm. I was absolutely fine. My brain was clear, my logic was working, and my tendency towards keeping a couple of steps ahead of everyone was actually something that was paying off in this situation. I was spotting dangers before they happened; I was alerting her of spastic crazy drivers that were randomly coming up around us . . . did I mention that I was keeping track of all of the roads and I was telling her how to drive in order to get home??? It’s probable that had we not been in an emergency situation, I would not have remembered all the turns of the road, but then again, I still do now, the day after; so who knows?
Now granted, I wasn’t driving, but it would have been a nerve wracking experience for anyone at that point, driving or not. We nearly got stuck one time, but we got out of it. We worked together the whole trip and we made it out of there safe and sound.
The hypervigilance traits that get me in trouble in class (like asking questions that are only sort of related to the topic and noticing details that everyone else marks as irrelevant), translated to useful traits like spotting the hidden dangers (and sudden) and figuring out which drivers were the ones to be avoided. Apparently my intuition came into play as well, because there were several times that I just sensed Badness and was able to keep us safe by going with my gut feeling regarding those situations.
Overall, a trip that normal takes fifteen minutes to do, took us a little over an hour. But we made it. And then I got a night off, as we spent the evening watching movies, taking naps and talking and doing Reiki. She said that I have a natural talent for it! Cool! Whew.
My watch is now on my arm tied together with masking tape btw. I’m gonna be quiet now and go take a nap; as in an 8 hour nap, since it’s nearly midnight.
Gotta love us aspies. You never know what we’re going to come up with next.