The picture shows a pillow with a cross stitched scene of five teddy bears with a picnic basket and two butterflies.

This took me about six months when I was in my early twenties. It’s the last cross stitching project I completed.

Whenever I visited my cousins as a kid, our parents would turn us loose in the local craft store. Every summer I’d learn something new. Cross stitching, pot-holder making, rug hooking, bead stringing. Macrame and tie dye. I remember something to do with jute, though that may have been macrame. Between my two cousins and me, I’m pretty sure our grandmother had whole closets stuffed with potholders.

Those summers constitute my first memory of what I think of as my sampling nature. I’ve read things about females with autism having special interests, but of a more practical nature than males on the spectrum – so not focussing on things like train schedules – and that the interests tend to be transitory in that they may be intense and all encompassing, but one day just run cold. I have experienced both.

Here are three categories among which I’ve sampled:

A multicolored knit placemat

The only knitting project I ever completed. Twelve skeins of yarn I once had big plans for are sitting in a bag behind a chair in my bedroom. Part of the problem is that, while I love to look at scarves and hats, I won’t wear them because they make me too hot.

Crafts – I mentioned several above, but my crafting interests didn’t stop when I grew up. I cross-stitched into my twenties. Some of the crafts I’ve tried since then include:

  • Knitting
  • Metal working
  • Embossing
  • Stamping
  • Painting
  • Scrapbooking
  • Collaging
  • Decoupage

If you include crafts that don’t end in a physical product, you can add to that list:

  • Database programming
  • Web design

Trying different crafts isn’t really a problem per se, the issue for me comes from my level of interest. I’m all in at first and will often collect all the materials or equipment I need to do a craft, as many have special tools you can’t exactly rent. Then, one day, I lose interest in the particular craft that had held my attention so adeptly only the day before. I consider returning tools, but usually I’ve either used some or am past the return date. I consider selling them, but to whom? Same goes for giving them away. I can’t bring myself to throw them out because there’s always a slim chance that I’ll find an interest in the craft again and have to buy them all over again. Maybe I’ll find another use for them. Like the metal polisher thingy. It looks kind of like a nail buffer. If I took up giving myself mani-pedis, maybe I could use it for that. I’ll need some other tools, though, so I’d better go make a list of things to get…

Jobs – I’ve had a lot of jobs. To be fair, many of them were to help support my schooling for another type of job. Then again, another thing I’ve heard about Aspie females is that we’re chronically under-employed. As I have a master’s degree in biology and teaching certificates (all expired now) in three different states, I’d say that’s pretty true for me. Not including babysitting as a young teen, I got my first job at the age of 16. I held my last job for five years, a personal best for me, beginning when I was 32. That makes a total of 28 jobs in 16 years. Here they are in all their glory:

  1. Wendy’s
  2. ROTC – paid $100 per month as part of scholarship, had to march and go through inspection and stuff.
  3. My undergrad university’s Education Library – shelving and checkouts mostly
  4. Daycare/preschool – teacher’s aide
  5. Movie theater usher
  6. My undergrad university’s Dental Library- lots and lots and LOTS of shelving volumes of journals
  7. Ramada Inn front desk
  8. Door to door knife sales
  9. AMC Marina Pacifica usher, concessions, and ticket booth
  10. Hostess at a restaurant like Shari’s (or it may have been Shari’s)
  11. Student Teaching – no pay, but I’m counting it because it was a job in all other respects
  12. Red Lion Inn – front desk
  13. Red Lion – night auditor, counting this as a job because it involved a totally different skill set… plus it was a 10:30pm to 8:30 am shift four days a week, so it was basically a different world.
  14. Chapman University academic counselor
  15. TGIFridays – waitress – I’m counting this even though I didn’t even make it through the training period before quitting for my next job.
  16. My graduate school university’s Registrar’s Office – processing transcript orders
  17. Blockbuster’s Video – various, they pressured me to be a junior manager, but I didn’t want it to feel any more like a permanent job.
  18. My graduate school university’s Continuing Education Office – book keeper/auditor
  19. My graduate school university’s Arts & Sciences Department – office assistant
  20. Teaching Assistant – cell biology lab
  21. Medical Transcription Office – office manager
  22. Teaching Assistant – human heredity lab and at least one semester (I think) of genetics lab
  23. Commercial laboratory – paternity analyst <—actually my favorite job I’ve had
  24. Cancer Center – genetic counselor
  25. Senior High School (juniors and seniors) – teacher
  26. Commercial laboratory – identity coordinator
  27. University based state department of health grant – program coordinator
  28. Cancer center lymphoma doctor (MD, PhD) – program/project coordinator

I’ve never been fired from a job, though I started the teaching job in January as a replacement for a teacher who had left and, while I didn’t ask anyone about continuing the next fall, nobody ever approached me about staying either.

Sparky pointed out to me that I didn’t mention why holding these various jobs feels like a problem to me. He also commented that just saying I wasn’t fired from any of them is me being modest because I was really good at several of them and my bosses wanted me to stay. For one of the ones I had in college, there were several of us that worked on the same stuff. Our boss was out for a week or so and read us the riot act when she came back because things were so off track. She asked me to stay behind after the meeting, then told me she was sorry she had to include me in that meeting when I had actually done a good job of trying to hold things together and she was giving me a raise.

Like I said, I’m all in until I’m suddenly not. None of those jobs, no matter how well I did it, was ever going to be a career for me. Even the two that I originally intended to make a career of, teaching and genetic counseling, were never going to go anywhere. I was all in when I studied them in school, but my heart and my interest had already moved on by the time I was actually in the field. So I’ve never really settled on a career path and that makes me feel…wibbley-wobbley.

Maybe that’s why I like writing: I get to try my hand at new things all the time without ever having to commit myself to them. I can make my characters do that for me.

Diets – I’ve been through what feels like a million diets either to lose weight or be healthier, usually not both at the same time. I’m counting them as sampling because I’ve been all in on every one of them, but, when I stop, I really do stop and I usually don’t go back. Here are all the ones I can remember right now:

  • Weight Watchers
  • Jenny Craig
  • Some strange one where you eat a very low-calorie diet, but every other day replace all the food with these horribly chalky wafer things – blech
  • Nutri-system
  • Cabbage Diet
  • Atkins
  • South Beach
  • Carbohydrate Addicts Diet
  • The Program (the one I was on when I started this blog)
  • Paleo
  • Whole 30

I’m sure I’m missing quite a few. The Paleo and Whole 30 were the only ones where I actually liked the food. I think they were the healthiest I’ve tried. Right now I’m gearing up to try the Traditional Foods diet. It’s basically not eating processed foods and making sure your food comes from healthy sources. Like the beef is from cows who are fed on the pasture rather than grain fed in stalls that they never leave. I’m trying to slow myself down and adopt it bit by bit, though, because I think that will help me sustain it.

Jars fermenting pineapple vinegar and red wine vinegar. Plus a crock for when I start fermenting Caribbean sauerkraut...

Jars fermenting pineapple vinegar and red wine vinegar. Plus a crock for when I start fermenting Caribbean sauerkraut…

I’ve got a lot of books on making stuff. I made my own sour cream for a dish I made last week. It was pretty good, though not thick enough for my taste. I’ll probably invert some ingredients next time. I’m reading about milling my own flour and making my own vinegars and other fermented foods. I can feel myself slipping into special obsessive interest territory with it, but will probably be rescued by the demands of the rest of my life this time.

Sparky’s therapist told him we could dip our toes in by just making sure we eat vegetables at each meal. Sparky laughed and said, “You’ve obviously never met Michelle.” He’s right. Half-way is not a tool in my wheelhouse.