RANDOM THOUGHTS OF SUMMER

Being that I grew up in Santa Monica, I thought it only appropriate that I posted a picture of its beach. Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com.

 

I think it just comes with the progression of life in general;

The notion of summer being one long holiday when you’re a kid, ala the end of school and that “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers…” thing.

Think about it…

Unless you screwed up in class and got bad grades during the regular school year, thus sentencing you to hard time in summer school,

Or if you’re of high school age and working at some crappy minimum wage, no benefits or basic rights, one step up from slavery type of job – or trying to get such,

Summer is three months (or two and a half today) of fun as in going to camps specializing in things you love to do, taking vacations to far off exotic places, visiting paradises like Zuma Beach in Malibu or Disneyland or whatever theme parks you may fancy, and watching spectacular fireworks displays on the evening of July 4th – and buying firecrackers and setting them off yourself.

Which you can’t do anymore in all but perhaps one or two communities in the Los Angeles area.

Not to mention hanging out at the local swimming pool and eating delicious barbecue at parties.

Or doing nothing at all, like many of us did back in the day – or at least I did as the majority of my summers were spent lazing around at my grandparents’ in Riverside, CA, not venturing outside until dusk due to the 90 + degree weather, watching TV, getting to play outside until 8:00 p.m., and essentially just vegging.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr0tTbTbmVA

I forgot how good this song was; an essential tune of summer by Will Smith, or the Fresh Prince (& Jazzy Jeff) as he was known then when this dropped in 1991. Courtesy of YouTube – just click on the link.

 

Unfortunately, all that ends when you become an adult in society’s eyes.

Contrary to when you’re a kid, life doesn’t stop when June 21st comes around;

Rent and bills still have to be paid,

Your place of work doesn’t go on a two-or-three month hiatus as the best you can expect is two-week vacation – and that’s if you’re extremely lucky as you can’t put it past your overseers – I mean supervisors – to come up to you at the very last minute and inform you about some big project that you need to do, thus nuking your long-awaited freedom.

Personally, like more or less every other youngster I used to think that summer was the best time of year, for obvious reasons.

Now, and for pretty much my entire adulthood – I would say since my early 20s – that is not the case as I prefer Spring and Winter.

Spring? the leaves are just budding and it’s not so hot.

Winter? I like the chilliness and bundling up.

Not to mention the major holiday commemorating the birth of our Lord and Savior that anchors that season.

 

Another essential thing about summer; fireworks displays like these in Long Beach, CA every 4th day of July. Photo courtesy of timeout.com

 

Speaking of chilliness, there’s one big reason why summer doesn’t particularly hold my fancy anymore…

THE HEAT.

My body has gotten less tolerant to it as I’ve gotten older.

And the fact that it’s gotten hotter the past decade or so – we all know how temperatures have reached 120 degrees in places like Phoenix, AZ the past few days (my condolences to those folks) – hasn’t helped.

To sum it up in three words…

I HATE HOT.

And to sum up my feelings about this just-begun season…

I miss the way summer was as a kid, the way it was something to look forward to with all the fun and relaxing that often went along with it.

Now, that’s not really the case.

It’s a bit of a pity, but also inevitable as that’s part of one’s evolving as an adult, the responsibilities that don’t stop just because it’s June, July and August.

As such, for those who can afford it,

I hope your summer’s a good one.

 

I like the rainbow-like colors of these lounge chairs at this beach. Photo courtesy of the odysseyonline.com

 

 

 

TURNING FIFTY: Personal Musings About A Milestone Birthday

 

 

THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS FROM AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN WITH ASPERGER’S AS I APPROACH MY 50th BIRTHDAY

18, 263 days old – at least as of this coming Sunday.

I’ll be honest, as I usually am…

Anytime anyone reaches fifty years of life, it needs to be celebrated.

Particularly – considering the sometimes extreme tension and polarization that we are currently in – those who are Black males in America.

And on the Autism Spectrum to boot.

Which is why I’m celebrating my 50th birthday this weekend with something that I haven’t done in decades and won’t do again…

Throw a big party.

I can’t imagine being fifty years old, and I probably won’t be able to imagine it even after the fact as when I was a kid – and throughout my life, really – I saw fifty as being, for lack of a better way to describe it, on the border between regular adulthood and senior citizen status.

What’s more, it’s hard to imagine the people I knew as kids, who I went to school and grew up with, turning fifty.

Yes, I know what people say:

“50 is the new 40 (or 30 or whatever)”,

“Age ain’t nothing but a number”,

And I don’t disagree with those sentiments as save for a gout condition and the hypertension that I’m controlling quite nicely with medication, changing my diet and exercise as well as playing pick-up softball on a regular basis for over twenty years, I think I’m in pretty good shape.

 

 

I like this mug – shows the year I was born and the fact that yes, my parts are original! Photo courtesy of amazon.com

 

 

However,

It’s still weird to think of myself as a fifty-something.

Especially when I look back on my life, as I reckon folks commonly do when they reach a milestone birthday.

When I think about it, although there have been some struggles in my social and emotional development due to having Asperger’s as I was bullied and shunned as a young guy in school and have had troubles working for someone else in subsequent years, not being able to hold a job for longer for three years,

Which is the reason why I became a writer and online blogger with a book describing my experiences as an Aspie, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, nearly done with a target date for (self) publication at the end of the summer,

And although I have missed out on some of the stages of life considered normal in American society such as marriage and opposite sex relationships as my behavior has for the most part rendered me as “not boyfriend/husband material” – which I have accepted as marriage is not for everyone,

I can honestly say that I have had a blessed life to this point, a life for which I am grateful.

I have a family, friends, and particularly a mother that has loved, understood and supported me, which considering my place on the Autism Spectrum hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do,

Grandparents who gave me an idyllic childhood, who I’ll always love and, as they are no longer with us, dearly miss,

And have enjoyed a relatively middle class life.

In other words, I have been quite lucky and fortunate that God has blessed me this way.

Especially since there are SO many people whose lot in life hasn’t been close to being how they would like as living in the Los Angeles area, the nation’s homeless capital, I see plenty of the less fortunate.

 

 

This is really cool; a list of things that happened the year I was born, including celebrities who will like wise be celebrating their 50th birthdays – though they spelled Kurt Cobain’s (RIP) name wrong. Image courtesy of Pinterest.com

 

 

My Biggest Birthday Wish (Besides the usual good time at my big shindig):

I want to spend Sunday – my actual birthday – in the place where I was born and spent my early childhood…

Riverside, CA, as that was where my grandparents gave me my idyllic childhood, living in a rural area (more suburban today) outside of town where my neighbors had horses and I had cows for a time; there’s even a picture of me at eight years old feeding one.

As there’s a heat wave approaching the area this weekend and my tolerance for 90 to 100 degree-plus weather has waned in recent years, I won’t be devastated if I don’t get to be there as I’ll do something else special.

But it would be fitting if I was in the town where I spent my early formative years fifty years to the day that I was born.

Outside of that, I just want to have an enjoyable weekend.

And if someone came up to me and said that I could have one wish, I would say to be in good health as a friend of mine puts it quite well,

“The best wealth is health.”

 

Summing Things Up As My Big Day Approaches:

The first thing I’m going to do when I wake up the morning of June 18th is say a big prayer of thanks to God for letting me see my 50th birthday.

I see it as a gift a there’s quite a few people I knew and grew up with who are tragically unable to have a 50th birthday as they are no longer here.

That’s why my overall feelings are those of appreciation and gratitude.

I won’t take this birthday, or any subsequent birthdays, for granted as being an African-American with Asperger’s, I am very thankful that my life has gone the way it has.

I hope that I feel the same way, and be able to say the same things I’m saying now, in the next three decades.

 

 

I certainly hope this birthday is a happy one for me. Photo courtesy of monicahswe.wordpress.com

 

 

 

AN EXCERPT FROM “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

An illustration of what I’ve been doing for work in general for the past nine years…

 

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF PASSAGES FROM MY SOON TO BE (SELF) PUBLISHED BOOK DETAILING MY LIFE EXPERIENCES WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME

 

A while ago I stated that I would be posting excerpts from the book I’ve been working on for the past few years, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, in advance of its self publication.

The process of publishing this book, in which I will be using the site Lulu.com, will be my upcoming summer project; it’s my plan to have it ready for reading by September.

In the meantime, here’s the first excerpt, taken from chapter one.

I certainly hope it’s enjoyed…

 

Being that I was about a year or so out of diapers and had joined the masses of the newly potty-trained, I obviously don’t remember the exact details as my mom told me the story of how I essentially taught myself how to read:

Walking up to my grandfather’s large tan suede Laz-I-Boy recliner chair one morning sometime during March of 1970 (according to my calculations) while he was reading the Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise, our town’s local paper, I peeked over Grandpa’s shoulder at what he was looking at, which was apparently the supermarket ads – probably Stater Brothers as that was a prominent place to get groceries in that area at that time – because according to Mom, I proceeded to read the various names of various items like steak, milk and hamburgers, reading off that newspaper page like I would read Judy Blume’s books a few years later, or The Hunger Games series, Sports Illustrated, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and the Los Angeles Times now.

Everyone was stunned and flabbergasted, of course, especially since I had just been exposed to the alphabet a few months earlier as I remember Mom buying me one of those magnetic black boards with the brightly colored letters and numbers that previous Christmas and teaching me the A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s off of that. According to her, I was not only able to recite the twenty-six letters fairly quickly, I was also doing things like saying them backwards, dividing them in half and reciting them from A to M and from N to Z, both forwards and backwards, and other peculiar things like that.

I’m sure that my family first thought then that there was something interesting about me as far as my intelligence was concerned; here I was, reading at two and a half years old when other toddlers my age were probably just barely learning how to use the toilet and watching Big Bird, Ernie and Bert and Oscar the Grouch and the then-brand new Sesame Street show…to be able to read so quickly was (in my family’s eyes), to coin the most overused phrase in the English language which I am frankly sick of, amazing.

Like lots of other little “aspies”, however, there were plenty of things that I did and said and behaviors that I displayed that were not so amazing, which ranged from antisocial to bizarre to obsessive to just plain bad, things that I’m most ashamed and embarrassed to think of today…

It was a perfectly pleasant morning at my grandparents’ house in Woodcrest…I think it was the summer, since I remember it being so warm.

There we were, my two cousins and I, three little kids sitting on two bicycles and a Big Wheel, a plastic low rider contraption that was all the rage in the 1970s. Grandpa was putting us in various poses, taking shots and having a pretty good time, when my ASD impulses reared their ugly head.

I was wearing a farmer’s straw hat that I absolutely loved and was most attached to; that head covering was my obsession of the moment, much like Linus and that security blanket of his. As the picture-taking continued…all of a sudden Grandpa stopped shooting, walked over to me, took this beloved hat off of my head and put it on the head of one of my cousins, without any warning or letting me know in advance that he was going to do that.

Now to a normal, neurotypical eight-year old, that would have not been a big deal in the slightest…

Unfortunately for my beloved grandfather and young cousins that day, I was not a normal, neurological eight-year old.

“That’s my hat!” I cried several times, as I commenced with throwing an intercontinental ballistic missile-level tantrum; yelling, screaming, sobbing, throwing lawn chairs around like I was the Incredible Hulk’s son, it’s extremely mortifying to think about, and it’s been over forty years since those hysterics. There’s a snapshot of me sitting down on the patio in the sun, after getting spanked no doubt, me looking royally passed off as I had ruined a perfectly good day because my aspieness prevented me from reacting appropriately to a sudden, unexpected change, which my extreme outburst stemmed from.

All because of a hat that was a pathetically tattered and torn up thing with holes in it, which belonged in the trash!

Looking back, I realized much later that Grandpa…only wanted to try something a little different in our photo shoot, which is a reasonable thing to accept if you’re a neurotypical, but not if you’re an eight-year old on the Autism Spectrum as my aspie brain was telling me that I was being attacked and treated unfairly, with something that I really was attached to being taken away for no reason.

An outsider with no knowledge or understanding of ASD would read this and think, “That was the nastiest brat I’ve ever read about! God, what an obnoxious little shit he was!”

And I honestly can’t say that I blame them for thinking that…

 

This was a part of chapter one, which describes my Asperger’s struggles as a little kid.

Another excerpt from another chapter will be posted on this blog real soon.

 

I remember feeling like and being treated similar to the girl on the right seemingly a lot as a young kid…

WONDER WOMAN & ME: A Personal History and a Few Thoughts

My all-time favorite superhero, going back over forty years…

 

MUSINGS ABOUT THE QUINTESSENTIAL SUPERHERO, FROM MY CRUSH ON THE TV VERSION TO MY IMPRESSIONS OF THE CURRENT MOTION PICTURE RENDITION

Like every other young boy, I had quite a few crushes growing up, ranging from that girl who wore that extremely tiny pink dress on the children’s TV show The Bugaloos to Kim Richards, now known as a Real Housewife from Beverly Hills but back in the day was Disney’s top girl ingenue,

To Phoebe Cates from the iconic 1980s teen movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High,

To Nia Peeples, who was the perfect goddess in the TV version of Fame,

To Kim Fields, AKA Tootie on The Facts of Life, who I wanted to take to my high school prom.

One female form, however, eclipsed them all by a long way…

 

Some scenes from the TV show featuring my all-time favorite crush, courtesy of YouTube

 

To say that I had a crush on Lynda Carter due to her portrayal of the ultimate super heroine Wonder Woman during my pubescent years in the mid to late 1970s would be arguably the biggest understatement ever.

I particularly liked how Lynda, as alter ego Diana Prince, would do her spinning transformation into the Amazon princess before going to fight the bad guys.

For a young adolescent boy, Lynda – and the character of Wonder Woman in general – was perfect.

So much so that I still watch reruns of the show on the Me-TV Network every Saturday night, and I’m well into middle age.

Of course the fact that Lynda has aged very well hasn’t hurt my current sentiments.

So when it was announced a couple of years ago that something that I had been waiting for roughly two decades to happen – a big screen version of Wonder Woman – was at long last going to happen, I was glad but at the same time was weary that because of Lynda Carter being the ultimate image of the super hero, whoever would inherit the bullet-stopping bracelets and truth-inducing golden lasso would not measure up.

 

 

A fight scene from the already box office record-breaking Wonder Woman movie, courtesy of YouTube

 

 

I remember when a film version was considered in the 1990s thinking that Charisma Carpenter, a tall brunette best known for her portrayal of mean girl Cordelia on TV’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer, would make an excellent Wonder Woman because she had a resemblance to Lynda, but that version never got off the ground.

Nor did an attempt at a new TV series in 2011 featuring Adrianne Palicki from Friday Night Lights in a black wig, wearing pants rather than the famous sleeveless leotard, which failed miserably.

When Gal Gadot was introduced as the one taking over for Lynda in the just released movie, my attitude consisted of three words:

“Wait and See”.

It was no secret that I would be watching this new film version of Wonder Woman with an extremely critical eye, to see if the former Miss Israel would do the character justice.

After checking Gal’s portrayal out the other day, my verdict came in…

Gal was an EXCELLENT choice, along with being the right choice, to portray Wonder Woman as she did an absolutely wonderful job.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSB4wGIdDwo

One of the trailers for the just-released feature film version of Wonder Woman, courtesy of YouTube (just click on the link).

 

 

 

Besides being the appropriate height as she stands at 5′ 10″, Gal’s version of the heir to the throne of  Themyscira was also different from Lynda’s in one significant sense…

Her fighting skills were reminiscent of Xena, the Warrior princess from that 90s TV series, which was extremely cool; Gal’s Wonder Woman could certainly kick Lynda’s Wonder Woman’s – who didn’t do much more than push the Nazis and other bad guys around – butt in a fight.

And much like Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Wonder Woman – both Lynda’s and Gal’s versions – provides young girls something that is SO needed these days;

A strong female role model: Someone who is smart, can kick butt, and can more than take care of herself but who also has the ability to nurture and care for those who need caring.

In short, I was concerned that Gal wouldn’t measure up to Lynda, but those concerns were alleviated as the producers made the right choice.

In fact, as I was unable to finish Wonder Woman due to circumstances beyond my control, I plan to go see the movie again, contributing to a film that I’m sure will end up being the top grossing movie of 2017.

I certainly hope the producers have told Patty Jenkins, who directed this blockbuster, these six words…

“Get ready to direct the sequel.”

Because a sure as I’m writing this, one will be coming within the next three years.

 

 

My number one celebrity crush as a young pubescent and adolescent in the 1970s…

GOUT (and other pains) AND ME, PART TWO

Not a lot of worse things than painful joints in this part of the body…

 

Being reminded that I’m a middle-aged guy, I’m not invulnerable, and that nothing is forever, particularly life on earth.

The past six weeks have not been fun for me physically.

At all.

It all started about a week after Easter, when I had a big chicken dinner late one night.

It was probably too big a dinner, (the reasons in a bit), but I was hungry and hadn’t eaten for roughly twelve hours.

Since chicken is my main meat staple as I had given up red meat and eschewed pork for years, I didn’t think much of any consequences – until the next morning when I experienced something I hadn’t experienced in three years:

Excruciating pain in the upper joints of my left foot.

As I had suffered gout attacks in 2014 and 2010, I knew what to do; I got busy drinking cherry juice and assumed that it would all be over in a few days.

Except it wasn’t, as although I not only cut way down on the chicken – which, as it turns out, while it doesn’t have as much purines (which is prevalent in turkey and which I gave up after my first gout attacks in 2010), the level of uric acid in the purines is enough to cause attacks – I cut down on eating in general, the gout pain not only persisted over the next several weeks, it manifested itself in two subsequent attacks.

A good example of the disability that gout causes was the fact that I couldn’t run, which ended any opportunities to play in my weekly pick-up softball games on a regular basis; I tried to play games twice; one game I had to have somebody run for me and the other game I had to leave in the 6th inning when the discomfort affected not only my ability to run, but altered my hitting to the point where I wasn’t effective.

In other words, I had to put myself on the “disabled list”, which I researched ways to get rid of my gout issues as fast as possible on the Internet.

One method, putting two or three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drinking that concoction at least three times a day – gave decent results.

As did eating cherries, which is what I did last night after a dinner which featured a little chicken.

Thank goodness that I woke up this morning being able to walk better than I had before, because for much of the past several weeks I was limping like crazy and even needed a cane at times.

And gout was not the only source of pain as there are some mornings where I wake up and the area just below my right knee hurts, usually after I’m out and about as I walk a lot.

The pain usually goes away after I put some ointment on it and take a few steps, but make no mistake – it’s arthritis.

Thanks to research, I compiled a list of foods that will now be an essential part of my diet (some of them I’ve already been eating) in order to prevent gout, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy it’s so painful…

  • Cherries
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Salads (increase consumption of these)
  • Lemon (add to water)
  • Green tea/Cherry juice
  • Low Fat Cherry Yogurt
  • Potatoes

I made it a point to schedule an appointment with my doctor, but if this improvement continues, I will be able to cancel it.

Which is my hope.

 

The big lesson learned here:

Not that I didn’t know this already, but now I completely,  wholeheartedly and emotionally understand that the older one gets, the more work one must do to take care of oneself and maintain health.

Along with the hypertension and high cholesterol, which I have been taking medication for, I am no exception to this general rule of thumb.

As such, I plan to exercise today.

Being that my 50th birthday is in less than three weeks from this writing, I think it’s essential that I continue to do what needs to be done in order to not die before I’m ready to.

Which I certainly hope will be a long time from now.

 

Some thing that I haven’t eater in seven years; a roast turkey – makes for Thanksgivings where I have to be a bit creative…

 

PRAY FOR MANCHESTER

Let me join the rest of the world in praying for the folks in that northern England city that lost 22 people in that blast the other day.

Like every other decent person, it broke my heart when I heard about that suicide bombing in the lobby of that arena after an Ariana Grande concert.

Did Islamic State (or ISIS), the group that claimed responsibility, REALLY think that their cause for worldwide Sharia law would be furthered by killing kids outside a pop concert?

Here’s to praying that Manchester, 180 miles north of London, fifty miles east from Liverpool, and home to two of football’s (or what we in America call soccer) most iconic teams, Manchester United and Manchester City, heals sooner than later.

MY LIST OF FAVORITE BASEBALL MOVIES

 

THE BEST FILMS DEPICTING MY FAVORITE SPORT IN MY VIEW

 

I know that one can poll ten people and get ten completely different lists regarding this subject.

I also know that I’ll get many disagreements regarding at least some of my choices.

But these are the movies with our national pastime as the subject that I have enjoyed the most and feel are the best.

For the record, I’ve included documentaries as well.

So here’s my list (in no particular order) – let the debating begin…

NOTE: Click on the YouTube links to view scenes…

 

BULL DURHAM (1988)

 

 

Considered by many to be the single greatest baseball film ever made; it’s number one on my list.

 

 

42 (2013)

 

 

If you need any explanation as why this film depicting Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color line is on my list, I don’t know what to tell you.

 

 

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M8szlSa-8o

 

I remember seeing this in the theaters more than once, I enjoyed it so much. Plus it’s an essential film to show girls; to inspire and encourage them to follow their dreams.

 

 

THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976)

 

 

Along with the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series, the factor that piqued my interest in baseball.

 

 

61* (2001)

 

 

This HBO film by New York Yankee fan #1 Billy Crystal was so good, even Yankee haters become fans for two hours.

 

 

THE NATURAL (1984)

 

 

I remember being in high school when this Robert Redford movie came out; I was SO excited at this final scene when Roy Hobbs (Redford) smashed the lights with his home run.

 

 

SOUL OF THE GAME (1996)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZIOU_uW8CU

 

This HBO movie gives a good historical lesson of the Negro Leagues and its two greatest stars, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, along with Jackie Robinson and how he was chosen to break the color barrier.

 

 

EIGHT MEN OUT (1988)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMxPAkZgoy0

 

Though there’s some recent debate about the viciousness of White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, whose mean stinginess is widely thought to be the reason for the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, this is the definitive story – in my opinion – about how Shoeless Joe Jackson and those other seven guys lost the World Series on purpose for gamblers.

 

 

WHEN IT WAS A GAME TRILOGY (1991, 1992, 2000)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0ibKMKAZFI

 

This HBO trilogy, which is simply film footage of Major League Baseball and its players from the 1930s through the 60s, rekindled my fondness for the game.

 

 

BASEBALL – KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY (1994)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dk63Pat5VU

 

Though I know there are folks who feel that this PBS mini-series should be discredited for the way it depicted Ty Cobb (in light of recent evidence of his character) and other things, I remember feeling that this was perhaps the greatest thing I ever saw on television when I first viewed it in ’94.

Plus it was dearly needed due to the World Series-killing baseball strike that was going on at the time; a perfect tonic.

 

OK, there are my choices.

You are now free to say how much you disagree with them if you are so inclined…

 

 

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles CA – a place I have been to over fifty times, with a gorgeous view of the downtown skyline in the back drop.