The Cold Commercialism of Society

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I am often disheartened by the cold commercialism of society. As I watch the rise of the giant corporations and mega conglomerates, I feel like life in general is becoming less conducive to humanity and relationships and more about flashy advertisements and raking in the money. Those few people running the world don’t just seem to be garden-variety-greedy anymore, they seem to be Scrooge-McDuck-diving-into-a-swimming-pool-of-gold-greedy.

Recently I was walking around a Walmart, my head almost swimming from all the useless stuff trying to attract my attention, when I suddenly had the impulse to go around the store and ask every employee I could find whether they believe Walmart really gives a shit about them as a person, or if they think they are viewed as a replaceable number only. I resisted the urge, but as someone who spent a short amount of time working as a greeter at Walmart, I can almost guarantee that if the employees answered my question honestly, probably none of them would say the corporation gives a damn about them. And that microcosm of Walmart, represents an entire world of similar sentiments.

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I Have Autism, and I Yearn to Feel I Belong

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This may be a post that is hard for neurotypicals to relate to – I’m honestly not sure. But, as someone who has high-functioning autism (Aspergers), I find that I have always had a deep internal yearning for something that I don’t know how to get or how to keep – and that is a true sense of belonging. I have had fleeting moments of feeling like I belong in a group. Lunches with friends at school, days at work where I laughed along with the others and felt like part of the gang, or even last year, when I was hospitalized and briefly came to feel at home among the other patients.

But none of these lasted. The very next day, or even the next hour, I could easily be feeling like an outsider again, like someone with their nose pressed to the window, watching the motion and activity inside with longing. Even among friends, it was often clear that I was “the weird one”, the one that was sometimes liked, but never completely understood. I often felt like I was an alien being in a foreign world, and sometimes I still feel that way.

Now, since I don’t have to attend work or school outside of my home, I am not forced into regular contact with others and the chances of feeling a part of a group are even less likely to occur. I can go out and seek groups, and sometimes do, but I never really end up feeling a part of them. I am not a cog in the gears of a greater machine, I am a spare part left on the table.

The best way I know to describe the yearning inside is to share the first few lines from the theme song to the old tv show, Cheers:

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
The troubles are all the same
You want to be where where everybody knows your name

That is what I want, but realistically, I could hang out at a bar EVERY SINGLE DAY and I’d be lucky if anyone learned my name…and I can’t help but feel that is my own fault. I’ve seen others who can walk into a place and in a few minutes, they are no longer a stranger to anyone. It is almost like a magical ability, and is clearly one I’ll never have.

When Non-Profits Only Care About the Money

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On Facebook I shared a post about some tax changes that are being made to churches and non-profit institutions. The debate that started, made me think about my own experience working for a non-profit organization and I wanted to share a little bit of that here. For around 6 months or so, I worked for a non-profit religious hospital system. My job was to be one of the people in the emergency department who collected patient information (especially insurance information) and processed payments.

From the beginning, it was drilled into us that it was about the money. We were hounded to make sure we collected certain percentages of money from patients while they were still there in the building, whether they could afford it or not. We were encouraged to apply pressure to them to pay at least a percentage that day, regardless of their personal circumstances. Although patients could legally ask to be billed later, we were told to NEVER tell them that, and only offer that option if they brought it up first.

We were told bluntly that the hospital had to make sure to look like they were doing enough “public outreach” to keep their non-profit tax status, so when they did run public assistance programs we were told to advertise them when talking to patients. It became clear that they didn’t necessarily do programs for the poor because they CARED about them, it was so they could continue to get the tax breaks and other non-profit advantages. I heard so much negative talk there about Medicaid patients and the poor. I was also told flat out that the company was purposefully looking into opening more locations in areas where the people were more likely to pay, and closing locations where the populations were poorer.

One huge issue I had was that even when someone was brought to the ER and died, we were pressured to try to get money from their grieving relatives. More than once, those in charge actually chose not to tell family members that their loved one had passed away until AFTER we collected insurance information and copays/deductible payments. They would send us in, and we would know the family’s loved one was gone, but we were told to lie and pretend we knew nothing. This killed me to have to do. One time a lady begged me for information on her husband who was dead, and I couldn’t tell her anything. I also struggled to go up to a mother whose child has just tried to commit suicide and ask her for money. I felt like scum.

In the end, I couldn’t keep this job due to my own health issues, but I couldn’t have kept doing it with a clear conscience either.

I Refuse to Be a Social Media Doormat!

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Yesterday I had to make a choice to unfriend someone on Facebook, a choice that I hate to have to make, but am finding more necessary as time goes on. The person I ended up unfriending was an editor and small publisher I had worked with in the past, so there was a little bit of sadness at the loss of a professional relationship as well as a personal one, but to tell the truth, this person had always come across as rude, selfish, and impatient…so have I really lost all that much?

As I am getting older, I am just getting to the point that I am tired of being the kindly doormat that lets others walk all over me because I have a desperate desire to please everyone. I don’t at all mind people who have different opinions and beliefs than I do, in fact, I hope we can learn from one another, but when someone repeatedly shows a clear cruel streak and lack of empathy or compassion for others who are suffering greatly, it pisses me off. I also find it extremely hypocritical when someone throws a fit every time someone criticizes their viewpoint, but they refuse to even listen to any other point of view but their own, even going out of their way to silence any reasonable objection.

Sometimes I think that maybe all the therapy is helping me, because at one time I would have stressed greatly over unfriending someone because I would feel bad about it. But this time, I honestly only feel relief that I won’t have to be a witness to the negativity and mean-spirited vitriol anymore.

You Can Now Support My Blog Via PayPal if You Wish :)

I finally figured out how to set up a PayPal link here on WordPress! Please excuse my technological shortcomings, I’m not exactly the most efficient coder or anything like that.

Anyhow, if anyone would like to support my blog efforts, you can now donate any amount directly to my PayPal:

You can also access this PayPal link at any time on my website sidebar and the “Support My Blog” page.

I don’t expect a lot of donations, but if anyone does wish to help out it is definitely appreciated! Any money donated will most likely be applied to website maintenance fees (domain registration, WordPress account upgrades, etc.) If donations ever started regularly coming in, I would likely also try to invest in some advertising for the blog or use it for computer maintenance/repairs and stuff like that.

Things I’ve Learned Recently

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Hello everyone! This post is just a little check-in to say hi and let you all know what I’ve been up to. I figured I would make it more interesting by focusing on what I’ve learned recently from this unpredictable thing we call life.

  • After working on a book about nutrition for a freelance client, I’ve realized how much I DON’T know about what is really healthy and how much my own diet could use an overhaul. Unfortunately, I’m still a sucker for anything sweet, which throws a wrench into those plans!
  • I’ve learned how much traumatic experiences from childhood can affect our adult lives and our physical health. It is a fascinating subject, especially if you were¬†put through a lot of crap growing up. I would recommend the book “Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal” (written by Donna Jackson Nakazawa) to anyone interested in such subjects.
  • I’ve learned that it is ridiculously expensive to treat a cat for diabetes ūüė¶
  • I’ve realized that our current culture is engaged in a war on free speech and free expression in many ways. Both those from the extreme left and the extreme right often seem to want to silence dissenters. The same can be said of some companies and many governments. What I thought was once only an issue in communist, dictatorial or radical religious¬†countries is proving to be a much broader problem.
  • YouTube is full of warped trolls (ok, I didn’t really just learn that one, but I’ve been reminded of it several times recently).
  • And lastly, if you are going to date naked, have some confidence!

Life Update: Jobs, Kids, Writing & Bernie Sanders!

 

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“YOLO” collage on paper by Maranda Russell

Hello everyone! I’m sorry that I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I hope to start remedying that now. Here is a short list of some of the things that have been going on in my life recently, as well as some of the projects I am looking forward to beginning:

  • For the last 8 months I have been working part-time in an emergency room. During that time I have met some fascinating people, but I have also been witness to¬†a great deal of human suffering. I have always been a sensitive, rather empathic person who feels things deeply and in that way, I feel that this job has affected me greatly. I will be leaving the position soon to pursue other opportunities, but I am grateful for the experience.
  • Recently I have begun to take on more freelance writing gigs, particularly in the field of children’s writing. I have found that one of my true passions is taking the visions of other authors and helping them create great stories¬†for kids. I especially enjoy editing picture books or other types of literature¬†for young readers. Mostly I have been getting clients through online sites, but I am open to offers from other clients, so if you have a children’s book that you would like help editing, feel free to contact me!
  • My husband and I are hoping to start doing respite for kids and young adults with disabilities soon. Ever since we stopped fostering kids, I have missed having children around to play with and care for. I can’t wait to get a chance to¬†have a full house again, even if it is just for short periods of time.
  • My YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books, has been growing quickly! Ever since¬†I decided to focus the channel mostly on my nerdy love of toys, books and collectibles, it seems to have found its niche and an audience that is a lot of fun to interact with! For that reason, I will probably be sharing my more serious or personal posts¬†here on my blog from now on.
  • Lastly, this is kind of random…but I’m really rooting for Bernie Sanders! Feel the Bern! Even if he doesn’t end up winning the presidential nomination, I am thankful to see so many younger people step up and show they care deeply about the fate of our country. I think what I love most about Bernie is that he is such a humble, down-to-earth¬†politician. It is truly refreshing to see.

New YouTube Video: Book Reviews: “Asperger’s on the Job” & “Aspergirls” by Rudy Simone

Hi everyone! I wanted to take a moment to share my latest Asperger’s vlog video. This video reviews two books written by Rudy Simone entitled “Asperger’s on the Job” and “Aspergirls”. Either book is a great pick for anyone who has Asperger’s or who is close to someone that does. “Asperger’s on the Job” has been especially helpful to me lately since I recently started a new part-time job working at an emergency room in our local hospital. This is the first time I have really worked outside the home in five years, so it has been a huge transition for me and has caused a lot of stress, but I feel that it will be worth it in the end! I have always been fascinated by the medical field, especially emergency medicine, so I am eager to give it a try!

If you enjoyed this video, please comment on this post or on YouTube and let me know!

New YouTube Video – “Plantar Fasciitis Sucks! My Experiences with Foot Pain”

Since I have openly talked about some of my health problems and how they affect my life, I have had a few people ask me how I developed the foot condition plantar fasciitis and why it limits the kind of jobs I can do. So, I decided to make a vlog video about the pain and problems related to plantar fasciitis and why the condition has greatly affected my personal and professional life. I didn’t make this video to whine or try to get sympathy, I just wanted to share my story in hopes that I can educate people about the condition and let anyone else going through similar problems¬†know that they are not alone.