MY ASPIE LIFE: Some Changes On Focus and Emphasis

 

 

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The official symbol/ribbon of Asperger’s Syndrome. Picture courtesy of diyhealth.com

 

 

My (lack of) Progress In The Writing of the Book

I’ll just get right to the point:

As far as progress in the writing and self-publishing of the book detailing my struggles with interacting with people with no special needs while having Asperger’s Syndrome, I’ll be honest.

Nothing has changed since I last reported about this subject in this blog.

In fact, because I have been – and continue to be – busier than ever with my sports fan site/blog, SoCal Sports Annals.com (click on the link to check it out); what with writing wrap-ups of the local baseball teams, covering the two SoCal college football teams, having a very enthusiastic writer blogging about L.A.’s two hockey teams, and getting ready to cover the two NBA teams that call SoCal home,

To work on the “MY ASPIE LIFE”  manuscript at the present time would result in a case of overload and burnout.

Which wouldn’t be good for anyone, let alone someone on the Autism Spectrum Disorder like me.

In fact, I must admit that I haven’t looked at the manuscript since I finished the first draft of Chapter 11, which is the last chapter; simply put, I have just been too busy.

And I also have to be honest and admit that due to my commitment to SoCal Sports Annals, making that site grow in the form of getting more reads and, as an ultimate long-term goal, getting that site to the point where money can be made from advertisements like other sports sites, it will be a while before I can give “MY ASPIE LIFE” the full attention that it very much deserves.

And it has to get my full focus, particularly since I have quite a bit of rewriting to do in several of the chapters.

Why is this so?

I am concerned that the book is giving off a general impression of me being whiny and spoiled, that I have been and am using my having Asperger’s as a crutch and an excuse for the shortcomings I have experienced in the workplace and in social situations.

Which I definitely and unequivocally DO NOT want to do as I freely admit that the mistakes and social screw-ups, though they did stem from my disability, are mine and mine alone; that I can’t use having AS as a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, so to speak, and that I need to and do bear responsibility and accountability.

That’s what I want to make sure to emphasize a bit more in the book, which is why I’ll need a good amount of time to read the entire manuscript and make the needed changes to reflect this desired focus.

And is also why my target date for self-publishing this tome has changed once again.

This time it is a final, once-and-for-all change as I reckon around the time of my fiftieth birthday – a little more than a year and a half from now – will be the perfect occasion for “MY ASPIE LIFE” to be finished, published, and available.

I promise everyone, most of all myself, that it will be well worth the wait as this will give me the time needed to make this book of mine as good as it can be.

 

bullying

I made it a point to include this pic, not only because bullying – namely my long history of being bullied in school and other places – is a big part of “MY ASPIE LIFE”, but also because it’s an excellent slogan that needs to be prominent. Picture courtesy of yourlittleprofessor.com

 

 

 

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My Worst Encounter With Racism

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Photo courtesy of suenammirichardsromance.blogspot.com

 

Despite being born after most of the big Civil Rights events – the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the various sit-ins, the March on Washington, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts – like pretty much every other African-American I have encountered negative and stereotypical behavior directed towards me because of how my skin pigmentation looked.

This includes being called a word that rhymes with “bigger” and starts with an “N”.

However, the encounter that I consider the worst in my life with regards to this did not involve that epithet…

It was sometime during March, 1991.

I was in the midst of my last year as a student at UCLA at that time, but this personal encounter with racism had nothing to do with that either as it happened off campus.

You see, I had been a youth baseball coach for the past several seasons, working with young people in the Santa Monica Little League and Bobby Sox Softball League. It was my way of staying involved with the game that I consider my favorite, and a way to do something that I enjoyed: interact with kids who liked baseball and softball as much as I did.

I was managing a baseball team in Santa Monica Little League’s Intermediate division – a level geared toward seven-to-nine year olds where the coach pitches, which my brother happened to be on – that season, but for some reason I wanted to coach softball as well.

One day I was reading UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, as I had done every day, when I came across an ad in the classifieds calling for someone to be an assistant coach for a girls’ softball team in a league located near the campus in Westwood.

I remember thinking, “This is perfect for me!” as I called the number listed in the ad.

I won’t mention the name of the lady who answered my call, if I am going to talk about what ultimately happened.

We had quite the conversation, this lady, who was the manager of the Major division (10-to-12-year olds) softball team (whose name will not be mentioned, either) and I. Especially after I told her my experience and qualifications, which at nearly 24 years old were already formidable as I had started on youth baseball coaching staffs while still in high school and had managed a team at not-yet twenty.

She was very friendly to me on the phone, giving me an impression of being very impressed with what I had to say, and she invited me to her team’s next game that following Sunday (I believe) so we could formally meet and – as I had every reason to think – make my joining that squad a formality.

It was what ensued at that field that Sunday that induces bad memories for me…

I had arrived at the diamond about a half-hour or so before the game was to start, feeling very enthusiastic.

When I met this manager face-to-face in the bleachers behind her team’s dugout, however, her expression a bit strange as her in-person demeanor was as unfriendly as it was friendly on the phone. She, in a bit of a gruff manner, asked me to have a seat in the stands and she would talk to me after the game.

Looking back on it now, it was apparent that she was not only surprised to find that I wasn’t a European of Caucasian descent, she was also rather reluctant to interact with someone from a race/ethnic group/culture like mine. Nor did she have any desire to have her little girls interact with any scary-looking black male, either.

I say this because of what she said to me after the game, which her team won and which completely caught me by surprise – and obviously not in a good way:

“We’re going to have another person with us to help the team because he asked first, but I’m going to put your name with the board in case there are any other openings.”

I know this is not exactly what she said – there’s no way I can remember that two and a half decades after the fact – but as far as my memory is concerned, that’s about as close to her exact words as I can remember, especially the four words, “…because he asked first.”

Which to this day I am convinced is a lie, because of this:

How can someone be so friendly to and enthusiastic about someone on the phone, then have their attitude about that someone change 180 degrees the moment they saw them in person for the first time?

I can’t honestly think of any other reason in this case except that she was judging me for the color of my skin rather than, in Martin Luther King’s words, “The content of their (my) character.”

Of course I grew at least a little bitter upon realizing such a couple of days after that encounter, but strangely enough not as bitter as I could have been; I wish I could tell you why that was so, but I can’t as I really don’t know.

I DO know that if time machines existed, I would go back to that episode, go to the league’s board, and charge that lady of racism, telling them about how she was so nice to me on the phone but was virtually the opposite upon setting her eyes on me, giving me the impression that in her opinion, blacks and whites should “stick with their own kind” – how could there be any other explanation?

Could have there been someone who truly asked to assist that team first? Sure. I fully understand that I have no hard evidence of any racist intent by this softball team manager.

But why did she not mention such over the telephone, say something like “We have other candidates to consider; I’ll get back to you with my decision.”

It would have saved me from spending a Sunday making a trip to that field when I could have been doing other things.

I reckon one can see that though I’m not nearly as affected by all of this as I was, being in my late forties, 24 years later the memory remains a bad one, as it would for roughly 95% of the African-Americans out there.

I never saw that lady again, though I do forgive her for what happened in those Persian Gulf war, George Bush Sr. days.

It’s not my intent to grind any axes or hold any real grudges; she may even be dead by now, and it’s just not worth it to me to hold any bad anger over what happened.

But it did teach me a real-world lesson, that there are those who will never see African-Americans person as equal to them – intellectually and otherwise – will always consider them as somehow inferior, and a group that they would just rather not interact with.

It’s not a pleasant lesson to learn, but it’s an important one not just for blacks, but also for Latinos and other ethnic groups of color.

 

 

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Certainly illustrates my experience here. Cartoon courtesy of huckleberryfinnsatiremap.blogspot.com