Random Thoughts As 2017 Ends and 2018 Begins

A familiar image for the next few days…

 

I’LL MAKE THIS BRIEF, CLEAN CUT, AND STRAIGHT FORWARD…

 

It seems that as the number in front of my age increases, the time goes faster and faster.

I could say that it was due to my being busy with so many things;

My college alumni band duties,

Playing pick-up softball on Saturdays,

Working out on an almost daily basis to continue getting in shape,

Working on choosing the right foods to eat to stay healthy, to keep the hypertension away, and to keep from getting a heart attack or a stroke as I’ve officially given up red meat,

Writing and posting articles on this blog and what for all intents and purposes is my business – my sports coverage blog, SoCal Sports Annals http://SoCalSportsAnnals.Wordpress.com

And turning fifty as I celebrated that milestone birthday at the beginning of the summer.

 

In quite a few ways 2017 was a bit scary for those who were and are against our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

As well as for those who were against bigotry (read: Charlottesville), war, and a country that’s at it’s most fragmented state since the Civil War.

For those who favor true diversity and who feel that immigration is vital for a country’s growth,

And for those who lost their homes to fires in both Northern and Southern California and to hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico,

2017 wasn’t that good a year.

Thank God some glimmers of hope emerged with the defeat of Roy Moore, a man accused of trying to hook up with underage girls (and being successful in a few cases) and who once said that this country was better during slavery, for senator in Alabama, and Democrats winning some state offices in Virginia.

That gives me hope for 2018, as the midterm elections will be one of that year’s highlights; it will be a golden opportunity for the reasonable Americans to send a message to President You-Know-Who and his supporters by voting those in Congress who don’t care about the poor – or anyone who’s not white, male, straight, wealthy, conservative, or a combination of the five,

Out of office.

We’ll see what happens there.

I think I’ve written enough, so I’ll end this with this wish of a very Happy, Safe, and Prosperous New Year for me, my family, my loved ones, and everyone else.

I pray that 2018 is safer, more harmonious, and just plain better than 2017.

 

Something nice to look at as winter hits its full stride…

 

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CHRISTMAS SCENES (Particularly Outdoor Scenes), 2017

I really like this photo of this decorated Christmas tree in the forest. Courtesy of pinterest.com

 

I’ve always liked looking at photos and images of outdoor Christmas scenes this time of year.

They give me a feeling of calm, as being someone with Asperger’s who gets anxiety from time to time over the various stresses that life brings, it is quite helpful.

I also like looking at the Christmas displays around my neighborhood; though I’ve seen some that have gone WAY too far, that’s OK. It’s a part of the Christmas and holiday season.

With times being what they are in the world, I think we all need something like that to help cope – which I certainly thank God for as He created nature.

For those who are wondering what my wish is for this Christmas and holiday season, it’s the same as always,

Something that we SO need on this planet we call Earth, more than ever…

 

PEACE.

 

Of course It should go without saying that I wish everyone a…

VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

 

All right, on with the scenery. Please enjoy…

 

LOVE the star situated between the decorated trees. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

 

Check out this church nestled in this mountain range, all covered in snow. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

 

I like the subtlety of the Christmas lights on this house, nothing too outlandish. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

 

This is a perfect winter scene; a decorated Christmas tree in front of snow-covered trees. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

 

I feel obligated to show a big lights display – I like this one; it’s not too subtle, but it’s not as over the top as other displays, either. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

 

This is such a pure winter scene that give me such a feel-good effect, I had to share it. Photo courtesy of wallpapaercave.com

 

 

And of course a Nativity scene MUST be included here. I hope you like this one…

 

Photo courtesy of church militant.com

 

 

One more photo for the road – one which I like because it shows a sense of unity that’s sorely needed these days; a Hanukkah menorah placed next to the Christmas tree…

Photo courtesy of firenewsfeed.com

 

 

 

The Only Christmas Album Worth Listening To (according to me)

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

 

I’ll get right to the point…

A significant reason why (in my and I’m sure millions of other’s views) A Charlie Brown Christmas is the greatest animated feature ever made lies in the soundtrack of that essential holiday classic.

Produced by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi in 1965, the beauty of the eleven songs is the fact that they were done by a mere three instruments

 

– A piano, which Guaraldi played,

– An upright bass, played by Monty Budwig on some songs and Fred Marshall on some others, and…

– A simple set of drums, played by Colin Bailey and Jerry Granelli

 

Two of the eleven songs, “Christmas Time Is Here” (an absolute classic that I love!) and “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing”, were done by a children’s choir.

And of course we can’t forget the song that became the theme music to that greatest comic strip of all time, “Linus and Lucy”.

But enough of the details!

I am going to post the links to some of the classically brilliant tunes below for you to listen (thanks to YouTube); these are my personal favorites.

I’m confident that you’ll agree with me that this is a GREAT Christmas album, if not the absolute best…

 

 

CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE (VOCAL)

 

 

 

 

LINUS AND LUCY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6zypc_LhnM

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVB18xbRMI4

 

 

 

 

GREENSLEEVES

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHU99s793q8

 

 

 

 

SKATING

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn4Y3sHyfsg

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE (INSTRUMENTAL)

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

 

 

 

 

I hope these songs serve as evidence of why the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas is the best holiday soundtrack ever made.

It’s honestly not Christmas in my book without listening to this album multiple times, along with watching that holiday special.

After doing both since I can remember – well over four decades as I was five when I first recall seeing A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV for the first time – it’s safe for me to say that.

If nothing else, I’m confident that they’ll invoke good childhood memories of this time of year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

 

Image courtesy of gortoncenter.org

 

 

Another Excerpt From “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

 

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Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php)
(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / mandygodbehear

 

I wanted to show another illustration of what it was like for me being a high school kid with Asperger’s while going to a regular high school and interacting with neurotypicals.

This is a blatant illustration of how bad things were for me, as these pair of excerpts describe my trips to Disneyland with my high school’s marching band during my junior and senior years and a particular incident that happened on both occasions.

These pair of excerpts are from Chapter 5 of my book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, the chapter being called “ROUGH TIMES AT SAMOHI, PART ONE”.

Yes, I know I have posted excerpts from this chapter on this blog already, but seeing as these incidents were particularly traumatic and happened during the holiday season – thirty-something years ago this month – I thought it would be a good idea to write this.

OH, BY THE WAY:

I’m in the home stretch of my final editing and print-outs of the chapters to “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”; I have just three chapters to go before I can have it self-published.

In other words, this odyssey of mine is starting to get close to being done.

OK, here are more excerpts to “ROUGH TIMES AT SAMOHI, PART ONE”…

 

The performance went well enough, but in the grand tradition of deja-vu it was what happened afterwards, when we were sorting out who would have the glorious times with whom, that once again induced the type of trauma that I remember to this day…

I had found myself with a bunch of guys from the trombone and tenor saxophone sections. On the surface, they seemed friendly enough, and I was looking forward to having a crew to run around with in Walt Disney’s Original Magic Kingdom.

There we were, following the red line on the ground that led us from our buses to some back door that opened onto Adventureland when a couple of my so-called “crew” said to me, “Let’s check out Main Street! We need you to do a man test!”

So off we went, landing at an arcade that was reminiscent of those penny arcades that were all the rage around 1900. We came upon this Zoltar-type machine with these two metal handles, which was essentially the “man test” as the object was to grab those poles and see how long you could stand the electric shocks that ran through them.

“Go ahead Derek, you go first,” the guys were saying, goading me in that “Come and join the big boys and be part of the group” way, which of course I was more than willing to do because what average teenager doesn’t want to be part of something?

Most unfortunately, however, what ended up happening was something that was eerily similar to that bird poop sandwich episode that was put upon me in the 5th grade six years before, showing  that with the naiveté that characterizes much of the young Asperger’s population, things often stay the same as far as the way non-aspie youngsters take advantage of them.

At least such was the case with this Aspie.

To get to the point, I was badly duped, dumped, and taken advantage of in a very cruel fashion by those fellow band members I was with.

I know this is so because as I was grabbing onto those handles, I saw out of the corner of my eye those so-called “friends” sprinting away, desperately hoping to ditch me and leave me to my dorky self, which I’m sure they thought of me as because if they didn’t think of me that way, they wouldn’t have ditched me the way they did.

I gave chase like some little kid being teased on the playground – deja-vu there, too – before I gave up and found myself standing there all by my lonesome, feeling the same way I felt the year before at that very same park when that alto sax player and bass clarinet player told me (not in so many words, but you know what I mean) to sod off, me sobbing inwardly at the reminder that I wasn’t liked too much.

Looking back, I understand that being someone with a high-functioning form of autism, I was too weirdly different for my peers to tolerate and be around with any more than they had to. They were forced to interact with me at school and in the band but when it came to the Happiest Place On Earth I’m sure that they saw being there as a sort of vacation from me and how I was, which due to the difference in how my brain was/is wired I simply could not help.

That was no excuse for those guys doing what they did to me, however; I don’t care how dorky someone seems to be, no one deserves to be treated the way I was at Disneyland – or anywhere else for that matter.

Ever.

For ANY reason.

 

 

Main Street in Disneyland, including the very arcade where I was ditched, dumped, and humiliated by some of my high school band mates two years running on the right. Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com

 

 

 

FAST FORWARDING A FEW PAGES TO ANOTHER EXCERPT, WHICH DESCRIBES WHAT HAPPENED TO ME AT DISNEYLAND A YEAR LATER…

It was after our performance, when we changed back into our band shirts and jeans on the buses and headed back into the park, when the ultimate deja-vu came to pass and the proof of at least this aspie – I can’t speak for others with Asperger’s – having a tendency to be gullible showing itself in what happened.

I found myself with the same group of trombones and tenor saxes what duped and ditched me at that penny arcade and the previous year. They seemed to welcome me along as we went back to that same arcade on Main Street, asking me to take that same “Man Test” with the same electrical poles on that same Zoltar-like machine.

Like the naive kid on the autistic spectrum that I was, I took the boat and grabbed the poles.

Out of the same corner of my eye as approximately 365 days before, I saw those guys run away, taking a hard left onto a side street. After I gave chase for a few steps I gave up and stood there, once again dumped and duped, feeling al kinds of negative feelings, particularly at the thought that I was such an undesirable to too many of my band mates.

If I were a neurotypical, I would have told them to go fuck themselves and their “Man Test” and walked away.

But that was neither here nor there as at that moment I once again found myself all by my lonesome on that Disneyland thoroughfare; because I so wanted to be accepted as part of a “cool” group like roughly 90% of all teens, I ended up in the same sorry situation as twelve months before.

It was an innate gullibility that led me to be taken advantage of like I was at that penny arcade those two years as I didn’t want to face the fact that those group of guys thought of me as too much of a social undesirable to want to hang with me. For me to think that would have been yet another albatross among the many that I had built up inside of myself not only during my Samo days, but pretty much throughout my life up to that time and afterwards.

I know, those guys who ditched me for two years running at what to me in those days was Dismal-Land had no idea that I was on the Autism Spectrum, and I also know that we were all just immature, non thinking insensitive kids at that time, but even though I (of course) forgive them that doesn’t take away the pain of what I went through as if those incidents had happened ten years before, I would have been crying my eyes out over the hurt that was put upon me at Disneyland.

To be fair, the guys involved in that cruel deceit had no idea of how hurtful they were being, and I’ve only had contact with two of them (there were five) since graduation, so if they read this I’ll bet they would be surprised, if not shocked, at the amount of mental and emotional hurt that I suffered at their hands.

That’s why it’s only right to forgive them.

 

Flip the gender, add about ten years, and this was me in high school – at least that’s how I felt. Photo courtesy of myaspergerschild.com

 

 

“Work Is Not Supposed To Be Enjoyable”: AN EXTREME REBUTTAL

An illustration of someone who evidently enjoys her job. Photo courtesy of teflonline.teachaway.com

 

WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T ENJOY WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING?

I remember a few years ago reading something online about people who were stressed out, burned out, and generally unhappy in their jobs, the article offering suggestions on how to cope with that.

I also remember reading one particular comment in that section by someone who apparently was a miserable jerk because he wrote that those who were miserable in the workforce were nothing but whiny crybabies who need to understand…

A. That work isn’t supposed to be enjoyed, but is supposed to be difficult, which is why it’s called work, and,

B. People who feel otherwise are losers who need to get over it and feel lucky they’re earning a paycheck.

If I ever came face to face with this guy, I would tell him in no uncertain terms that he is nothing but a mean bully who a firm believer in misery loving company.

And who is just plain wrong.

Bluntly put, a career need not be eight hours of hell following orders from bosses who are essentially schoolyard bullies or supervisors with the mind of and who behave like slavery-era overseers.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that sometimes a person has to do whatever is necessary to survive, and to keep a roof overhead and the family clothed and fed if he or she has one.

I know this because like probably 98% of the world’s working age population, I worked at jobs l absolutely hated, ranging from telemarketing to working in retail, particularly at a luggage store in the early 1990s that felt much like a prison sentence, I hated it so much.

The minimum wage salary I made peddling luggage and handbags felt like blood money, as I felt that the only difference between me and a slave on a plantation was that I got a paycheck.

Those dark days were the product of me believing that making money however possible was the most important thing, and I eventually learned that nothing can be further from the truth – at least as far as I am concerned as I can’t speak for everyone else.

That luggage salesman gig taught me once and for all that you have to like what you do for work, else it’s just not worth it in the long run, and especially when you factor in mental health as I suffered from a couple of nervous breakdowns and some suicidal thoughts stemming from my unhappiness in some of the jobs I had.

There’s an old saying…

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

No statement can be more truer than that.

 

Here’s my point:

A person needs to have a passion for whatever job or career he or she may be involved in.

Happiness, enjoyment, and work satisfaction are essential or else bitterness and depression will set in; I know this because that’s what happened to me.

It was wanting to enjoy my work – as well as being able to work without some bully or overseer, I mean boss or supervisor, micromanaging me and telling me how much I need to improve or flat-out suck, looking for faults and reasons to fire me – that is the reason why for almost ten years I’ve been an online writer with two blogs (including this one) and working on a book about my life and struggles as someone with Asperger’s Syndrome in mainstream society called WALKING ON EGGSHELLS.

Which is getting closer to being finished and ready for (self) publishing, by the way.

While it hasn’t been the most lucrative venture, I can safely say that I very much like what I do and am pursuing my passion.

My message for all you folks who are hating on their jobs is this…

Unless you would definitely be on the street if you quite your hated job today, you don’t have to suffer through misery, because life is too short.

Go paint or work with kids.

Write a book like I’m doing.

Or anything else that you have a passion for.

Find your happiness.

It may the thing that will restore your mental health and save your sanity.

 

It’s my hope that everyone can find this. Photo courtesy of idealistcareers.org