Another Particular Thought Regarding My Being Of Middle Age

The prefect quote concerning this issue. Image courtesy of plusquoter.com

 

 

There’s a song from 2003 by a guy named Joe Jackson, a true musician – unlike so many people in pop music today who wouldn’t dream of playing their own instruments and can’t perform without twenty backup dancers and a state of the art system that lets them lip sync to their voice on stage – I’ve been a fan of for decades, called “Awkward Age”.

He’s talking to a teenager in the song, trying to cheer him up for the typical awkwardness that’s common to adolescents, but it’s the second part of the tune that describes me very well now that I’m in my fifties.

Here are those lyrics…

 

You look at me like I know what’s going on

I’m looking back and I wonder what went wrong

I really thought by now a few things might just clarify

I got a mind that goes out to lunch for days

And a body that sometimes disobeys

I get into the parties but I hate them because I’m shy

Oh my,

I’m still at an awkward age

 

Although I make it a pronounced point to exercise every week, doing cardio and weightlifting as well as play pick-up softball on the weekends, and eat healthier than I did in the past (I officially gave up red meat last December), I’m not sure if any other verse of lyrics better describes me and my growing state more.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p51Fgm1m6V0

Joe Jackson’s song, “Awkward Age”, from the 2003 album Volume 4. Courtesy of YouTube (click on the link).

 

 

As for the parties, last year’s 50th birthday shindig notwithstanding as that was a once-in-a-lifetime necessary exception (until perhaps and God Willing my 70th or 75th birthday – we’ll see), I completely concur with Joe in that while I don’t exactly hate them, I have a certain level of discomfort with them due to the feeling of having to walk on eggshells, stemming from my being on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum – Asperger’s Syndrome to be precise.

If there’s any fifty-something that’s still at an awkward age, it’s definitely me.

I reckon that I’m not alone in this sentiment, as it would be quite selfish of me to see things that way.

I’d like to hear from others who feel like they’re still at an “awkward age” so many years after their adolescent days.

If you fit into that description, don’t keep it a secret!

Feel free to comment below…

 

REGARDING THE ABOVE QUOTE: This happens to me all the time. Image courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

 

 

 

 

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TIME IS GOING TOO FAST: It’s Overwhelming Sometimes (Does Anyone Else Feel This Way?)!

Image courtesy of jadaratint.com

 

HAS ANYONE ELSE EXPERIENCED THIS?

I found this to be the case as I’ve grown older, and now – in my fifties – more than ever:

I would wake up and start my day at around 9:00 am or so,

And two minutes later, it’s 2:00 pm!

When I would get ready to go out somewhere, whether it’s for errands or whatever,

I would start getting ready – shaving, getting dressed – at around a half-hour before its time to depart.

And a minute later, it’s past my time! I’m late!

When I’m winding down in bed at night, I’d be either reading or looking at various things on my Kindle Fire at around 10 o’clock or so.

And a couple of minutes later, it’s one in the morning!

Here is the kicker to all of that…

THIS IS THE CASE WHEN I MANAGE MY TIME WELL, AS I’M USUALLY GOOD AT DOING SO!

 

 

If you notice the time on this clock – it sometimes feels like I have to get a millions things done by 12:00, and that’s how much time I have. Photo courtesy of se.123rf.com

 

 

All right, here’s my point to all of this; I’m sure that’s what you’re asking right about now…

Much of the time, particularly in the past, I would feel overwhelmed whenever I found myself running late or in a real hurry to do something or get something done before a certain time.

I was especially difficult to deal with during my 20s, due to (I believe) my having Asperger’s Syndrome, being on the Autism Spectrum, as there were a couple of times where I completely shut down due to that overwhelming feeling.

I KNOW, I KNOW – this type of stress in common in neurotypicals, too. I’m fully aware that folks who don’t have any mental/emotional/social disabilities get pressed for time and stressed out on a regular basis due to that.

But I strongly feel that people on the spectrum are affected by this time stress in a more pronounced way; the wiring in their brains makes dealing with such stress more difficult to deal with effectively than someone who’s not on the spectrum.

At least, that’s my opinion.

Does anyone else feel like that?

 

What we all aspire to permanently get into, most of all me. Photo courtesy of chioficcialwebsite.com

 

 

One more area where I feel that time is going WAY too fast…

Yes, I know that this is the case for neurotypicals too, but I can only speak for myself;

I vividly recall turning twenty-five and thirty years old; 30 in particular as some friends of mine threw a party for me on the beach in Santa Monica – the last time I ever set foot in that sand (or any beach sand, for that matter), incidentally, as that beach has gotten far too crowded and touristy.

(Seemingly) two days later, I’ve had my fiftieth birthday and am on the cusp of turning fifty-one in a few weeks.

And I reckon in another couple of minutes, my sixtieth birthday will be approaching.

Then – God willing – my 70th and 80th.

That’s not an easy thing to ponder for someone who remembers with fondness his early, single-digit childhood with his grandparents in Riverside.

As I’ve already asked, does anyone else feel like this?

I know that there’s nothing I can do about time seemingly going faster than the Road Runner; it’s not like I can ask God to slow time down or push a button to slow the speed of time in half.

I basically wrote this to ask my fellow Aspies out there if they have experienced these feelings of stress and overwhelming due to it being 9:00 a.m. one minute and 9:00 p.m. the next.

That’s pretty much all I wanted to do here – thanks for reading…

 

Change the gender (of course), and this is how I’ve felt much of the time throughout my adulthood, and now more than ever. Image courtesy of metro.co.uk

 

 

SOME SPRINGTIME SCENERY TO ENJOY (At Least For Me If Nothing Else), 2018

Photo courtesy of drawingninja.com

 

One thing that I have always enjoyed,

That has always helped to calm me down whenever things get stressed or a bit agitated,

That has always relaxed me,

Is looking at nature scenery, particularly scenes depicting spring with its light greenery on the grass and in the trees.

I think my having Asperger’s may have something to do with it, as far as helping me to relax when I get struck with anxiety.

Why don’t I stop rambling and go ahead and post some springtime scenes that I hope are enjoyed, and which I will enjoy if nothing else.

In other words, if no one else needs these pics of wide open spaces, mountain ranges, forestry, cherry blossoms,  bluebonnets, and other nature stuff that makes me fantasize about picking up and moving to a cabin in one of these locales,

I certainly do…

 

Photo courtesy of seasdascenerryspringpswa.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of featurepics.com

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of thethreetomatoes.com

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

 

 

 

 

I SO wish I lived in one of these houses. Photo courtesy of depositphotos.com

 

 

 

 

This makes me wish I lived in Vermont, where this pic was taken. Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

 

 

 

 

 

My my, look at all that blue on these bluebonnets in Texas. Photo courtesy of fineartamerica.com

 

 

 

 

 

I like the combo of orange and gold on these flowers. Photo courtesy of lakecounty.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts On The Current Homeless Crisis – And What I Think Is The Root Cause

Living in Los Angeles, I’ve seen a LOT of this. Photo courtesy of  yournewswire.com

 

MY TAKE ON WHAT IS ARGUABLY AMERICA’S BIGGEST ISSUE

 

I’ve never seen it this bad – and I’ve lived in the greater Los Angeles area, widely considered the homeless capital of these United States, for over forty years.

I vividly remember Santa Monica, where I lived for 22 years, having an influx of homeless people, or “Transients”, as they were called, during my formative years in the 1980s and beyond.

This was especially the case in Palisades Park, located on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, where I remember it being Skid Row West with all of the tents put up there.

I would get asked variations of “Spare some change?” quite a bit at Third Street Promenade in particular, the outdoor shopping mall just a few blocks from Palisades Park where I worked at a luggage store during the early 1990s and spent various amounts of time outside of that.

The issue had reached a point where dolphin statues with slots where you can deposit change – which would go to programs and services to help the homeless – were put up all over that promenade.

I made it a point to put in at least a dollar at least once a visit, sometimes I put in five dollars, because by doing so I knew my money would be guaranteed to, as a public service announcement that was shown in the movie theaters stated, “Make your change help, not hurt.”

I reckon I put in roughly $150 in those dolphin statues during those years.

Anyhow…

As I said, I never thought the homeless situation would be worse that what I saw in Santa Monica in the 80s and 90s – until the past few years as pretty much everywhere I go in L.A. now, I see rows of tents and RVs, folks lying on bus benches, sidewalks, and anywhere else they can, villages of homeless people (called “Hoovervilles” after then-President Herbert Hoover during the Depression in the 1930s) along rivers, and simply more of the unfortunate, to the tune of nearly 60,000 in Los Angeles County alone.

As opposed to when I first moved to my current town of Culver City twenty years ago, I’ve even seen an influx of the homeless there, particularly in the library down the street from my house, where I’ve seen a couple of tents parked against a side wall next to Ballona Creek.

And of course I’ve not only donated money to organizations like the Salvation Army, I’ve (especially lately) bought food for those who asked me for spare change, because then I would know that my charity would do some good, rather than wonder if the change I gave to them would be spent on drugs, alcohol and/or cigarettes.

This largesse was mentioned in a piece I did on this blog almost exactly a year ago, which described what worked best for me as far as helping panhandlers; here’s the link to that post:

 

http://www.hartlandchronicles.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/the-best-way-for-me-to-help-panhandlers-and-the-homeless

 

 

A very common sight in the greater Los Angeles area. Photo courtesy of scpr.org

 

 

After watching news reports and reading multiple-part series on the homeless, notably in the Los Angeles Times; how they got that way and the struggles that they constantly endure, I came to this conclusion at what I feel is the heart and root of this terrible issue.

I’m convinced that it doesn’t lie only at the feet of the homeless person him/herself and the choices they make, as contrary to popular opinion most people without a permanent roof are not mentally ill – only 30% are – or addicted to drugs or booze.

No, I’m convinced that the root of the homeless problem not only in the Los Angeles area, not only in America, but throughout the world,

Lies in one concept:

HEARTLESSNESS

I see the heartlessness in the comments of articles I read regarding these poor folks, people stating how “It’s all their fault” and how “They need to just try harder” and – a very common response – to simply “Get a job!”

I really see the heartlessness in the folks living along the Santa Ana River in Orange County who, in the grand tradition of “Not In My Back Yard”, had officials remove a miles-long homeless village along a bike path.

And I especially see the heartlessness in one particular group:

LANDLORDS.

Specifically those landlords who for no apparent reason jack up the rents on apartments to what is far beyond what their tenants, who often have families, can pay, thus throwing them out on the street while (I imagine) they cackle like some villain in a movie.

Not to mention those who buy apartment buildings, evict all the tenants in one fell swoop – some of them who have lived in those flats for years and years –  and convert them into either luxury apartments or condominiums where they can charge as much as $10,000 a month, as someone recently told me a place in Santa Monica was going for.

I’ve read that these landlords have said that they have their rents at these outrageous levels because it’s at market value and they need to make a living, but you know what?

I truly feel that the mission of a landlord or an apartment building owner is to provide decent housing at prices that the average, hard-working family can afford without sacrificing their ability to pay for food and bills, as it’s at times the case – NOT to strictly make SO much money that they live in affluent areas like Beverly Hills or Bel-Air while the people who live in their buildings suffer in anxiety at best and are forced out onto the street at worst.

It’s the greedy heartlessness of too many landlords and others in power that I feel is the main root for the suffering that the poor and the homeless are going through more than ever.

I know that there will be plenty of people who will vehemently disagree with me, who will call me a communist and a socialist among other derisive names.

But I like to say this in summing up…

Back in the 90s, someone I knew said this to me as we spotted a homeless person:

“The only difference between us and him is two paychecks.”

Perhaps if everyone, particularly the heartless, kept that in mind, we would actually make some real progress in not seeing tent cities and people lying anywhere they can find, panhandling for change, anymore.

These are my opinions and I’m sticking to them.

 

 

I’ve seen plenty of this, too. Photo courtesy of spiritofvenice.wordpress.com

ME AND MY GREEN RADIO: A Memory From My Childhood

No, my radio didn’t look like this, but since this IS green, I think you should get the gist. Photo courtesy of ambientweather.com

 

REMINISCING WHAT WAS A SIGNIFICANT FACTOR FOR MY GETTING INTO MUSIC

Lately my memory banks have drifted to when I was a single-digit age kid living with my grandparents in Woodcrest, CA, just outside of Riverside.

On the night stand next to my bed there was this medium-sized, dark-green colored radio that at night, after I officially went to bed with the lights out and the covers over me, I would turn on – with the sound down, of course – and listen to songs that even as young as five, I thought they were brilliant.

It was the early to mid-1970s, and that green radio just happened to be tuned into, well…

I can’t recall specifically which station, but I do recall it was of the AM pop music kind that played the hits of the day.

Which meant that the sounds coming from that box ranged from R&B classics like the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around” (one of the songs that I especially remember hearing),

To particularly the many Beatles-influenced singer-songwriters whose hits dominated the airwaves at that time, all-time classics such as Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” from her iconic Tapestry album, Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me”, Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me”, and one song that I liked so much, I called it my favorite tune at five years old: Seals & Crofts’ Diamond Girl.

Music wasn’t the only thing I remember listening to from my radio with the volume adjusters on the lower right hand side, though.

I recall listening to a late night talk show guy on KABC named Michael Jackson (no, obviously not THAT Michael Jackson – I know, right?!), and while I didn’t understand his topics in the slightest, being the six/seven-eight-year old that I was, I did like the sound of his voice and the people who called in.

 

 

 

My favorite song at five years old, and one of my favorite songs as a single-digit age kid: “Diamond Girl” by Seals and Crofts. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

 

It gave me a feeling of comfort, much like the jet planes from nearby March Air Force Base (where I was born) that flew by from time to time, which looking back was an aspect of my Asperger’s Syndrome, responding to certain sounds.

The same went for a guy who followed Jackson named Ray Briem, who I was told when I became an adult was an extreme right-wing conservative, the Rush Limbaugh of his time, the kind of guy that our dear President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his supporters would be in love with, whom my grandfather would get so mad at when he listened to him.

I thought that was kind of funny in retrospect, the fact that I wouldn’t dare give a guy like Briem the time of day today.

And with KABC being the broadcast station of the Dodgers, I did listen to Vin Scully broadcasting games from Dodger Stadium, San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, and other places where the Dodgers played ball.

But it was the music that I remembered coming from that forest green box, which not only influenced me to like music to this day and beyond,

It also influenced my contempt for much of today’s musical styles, some of the various producer’s compilations – I won’t ever call them bands – who I won’t name, that I would bet couldn’t read a note, let alone write a song or play a musical instrument; folks that completely emphasizes style over the substance that the artists and real musicians of my early childhood exuded.

The kind of acts today that, without mentioning any by name, depend on backup dancers and lip synching to their voices onstage so much that they’d have to cancel their concerts if there was a power outage.

And it all came from a medium-sized dark green radio that I used to listen to at night as a young, impressionable child, which today provides good memories whenever I recall those nights in my twin bed listening to those thoughtful, artist-written songs.

It’s interesting how things like that influence your life.

 

A part of the Woodcrest, CA area where I lived during my first nine years, and every school vacation afterward until age 14. Photo courtesy of estately.com

 

 

 

WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: Excerpts from Chapter Ten of My Book Describing Having Asperger’s

Anyplace like this – open spaces, rolling meadows covered in bright green grass with mountains in the distance – is my happy place. Image courtesy of pngtree.com

 

Here are a few passages from my soon-to-be self-published book on my life having Asperger’s in the mainstream, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”.

These excerpts describe my experiences as a forty-something, approaching-middle-age adult on the high-functioning autism spectrum;

The chapter is called “Frustrations In My Forties, With A Helping Of Hope” – which I believe explains it all…

 

I would be anywhere – in my house, or out and about – doing my thing, when all of a sudden a flashback of something socially stupid that I did or said, or a memory of someone like Marlon* putting me through hell, even though it had happened decades before those horrible reminisces would suddenly pop into my head with such clarity, they might as well have occurred that day.

The trauma resulting from these flashbacks would be to the point where I would scream “NO!!” inside my head in order to try to get them out, Sometimes I’d scream “NO!!!” out loud because the flashback and trauma would be so overwhelming.

This PTSD, combined with the faux-pas I committed that was a part of trying to live, be accepted, and liked in the neurotypical world on my terms, all led to a level of frustration that was so pronounced that it got to a point of, well…

Remember the 1995 movie Leaving Las Vegas?

That’s the movie where Nicholas Cage won the Oscar for Best Actor playing a raging alcoholic who, when he loses his job and everything else due to his dependency on booze, moves to Las Vegas to drink himself to death and ultimately succeeds in that goal, but not before meeting and falling for the proverbial “Hooker with a Heart of Gold”, played by Elizabeth Shue (who got a Best Actress nomination for her efforts).

Well, for a long time that’s how I felt, dating back to when I quit my last job as an after school teacher in Inglewood.

Did I start hitting the Jack Daniels or hook up with a working girl of the evening?

Of course not, but whenever I saw Nicholas’ character imbibing on the Vegas Strip and the surrounding streets, I couldn’t help thinking that I could relate to how he felt; how he saw absolutely no way out.

What triggered these urges in me were the acute feelings of oppression; being yelled at (in my mind), told what to do or what not to do in a way that (again, in my mind) made me feel like the one doing the yelling and ordering about saw me as an inferior less-than-human being, as that seemed to be the only time he or she ever communicated with me in any way when all I was doing was something that society has always said one should do:

Be Myself.

For practically my entire life, the messages I had received time and time again was that the world would universally respect, accept, and embrace me if I was myself and didn’t try to emulate anyone else.

Incident after incident, not just during my forties but seemingly my whole life, told me in no uncertain terms that the notion of “be myself and I would get respect” was nothing but a boldface lie – at least as far as I was concerned as I would never intend to speak for anyone else.

How does my being on the autism spectrum tie into all of this, you may be asking.

While I have described different episodes that highlighted my anger and frustration over being rejected, condescended to and bullied for the crime of just being me and – very important – not conforming to what was considered “normal” and “acceptable” in whatever group or endeavor I was involved in,

By the time I approached my late thirties and it became clear that nothing ha changed, my frustrations over seemingly failing to be liked, accepted, and successful in the neurotypical world got to be so overwhelming that I began to voice the suicidal thoughts that – judging from that time I went to jump off the top of SMC’s football stadium after I punched that girl when she told me to shut up – had been inside me since my late teens.

A decent example of this was at one of the places where I had worked. I had mentioned it earlier, about how I was told by the supervisor that I was no longer welcome in that place of employment due to the way I interacted with my co-workers and others.

“Well, there’s nothing left to do but kill myself,” I remarked, the reality of losing yet another job sinking in.

“You don’t need to kill yourself,” my just-became former employer replied.

“Yes I do,” I thought, as the spirit of Nicholas Cage’s character in Leaving Las Vegas nestled inside me.

There were quite a few gnarly incidents like that over the next several years, when anytime somebody said something in a certain way that would make me feel picked on, put down, or like they didn’t see me as an equal human being those negative (in my mind) words would bring out the suicidal feelings; although I knew I shouldn’t take things like that personally – and was told such many times – I didn’t know how to take it any other way.

And, I must admit, still have a difficult time doing.

Of course the fact is I’m not dead (at least as of this writing as no one can predict the future and tomorrow’s never guaranteed to anyone), which along with never hitting the bottle or meeting and falling in love with a prostitute are the big differences between me and Ben Sanderson – Nicholas Cage’s Leaving Las Vegas character – as I couldn’t go through with the actual deed of taking my own life.

By blurting out my desires to take my life and not going through with it, I reckon there were a few people who saw me as the proverbial “Boy Who Cried Wolf”; it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case.

The truth was, like every other person who has ever considered ending it all, I was in roughly forty years worth of mental and emotional pain as my blurting out my desire to end my life was akin to coffee spilling from a cup.

 

 

A VERY interesting photo of an Asperger’s brain compared with a neurotypical brain…

 

 

This next excerpt illustrates two personal traits of my Asperger’s – CONFUSION and ARRESTED MATURITY & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT…

I was at the Culver City Library and had just finished with my online work on the public computers when this lady passed by me and suddenly, with this “Eureka!” look on her face, exclaimed “Derek!” like I was an old BFF.

I was thinking “Who the hell is this girl?” as I asked, “Do I know you?”

I won’t say her name in order to protect her privacy, but rest assured when she told me who she was – and old elementary school classmate who was in my 4th and 5th grade classes,  the memories came back.

And they were not good ones as she was, while not as bad as Marlon, was one of those who had bullied me, calling me an ape and a gorilla and not only picking a fight with me when I dared to stand up for myself, but punching me on the shoulder while I was trying to do the right thing and walk away.

The confusing part of all of this was that this girl didn’t always bully me. There were times when she treated me okay and I would think, “She’s my friend”, then for seemingly no reason she would turn on me, call me some nasty name, and I would get upset to the point of sometimes crying.

It was all a lifelong part of only being able to see things in black and white as in this case – and by my estimate several hundred other cases regarding my interactions with people – it was simply too hard for my brain to not see people as either a friend or an enemy, with no in between.

As far as I’m concerned, people either liked or hated me.

And I still struggle with that at times, because those shades of gray are too complicated for me to completely understand.

Fast forward roughly 35 years…

There we were in that library, me and my old classmate, and as the memories of her bullying me returned to my gray matter, rather than rejoicing over seeing her after all those years, my emotions were mixed as I voiced what she had done to me.

To her tremendous credit, her reaction was expressed by two words:

“I’m sorry.”

Even though I did forgive her, and even though we ended up having a nice little reunion that day, my mind still couldn’t avoid bursts of PTSD that stemmed from her bullying all those decades ago.

 

ARRESTED MATURITY AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

This was and is the other personal aspect of having Asperger’s Syndrome that over time I realized was a part of the disorder that really had a grip on me – and in some ways still has.

Starting in high school, and for a long time afterward, it became quite clear that I was emotionally behind the other kids in my grade as even though they, like me, were born in 1967, it seemed like they were older than me somehow.

They had signed up for driver’s education and had gotten their permits and licenses and cars the moment they were able to while I had not only waited until senior year to take driver’s ed, ending up with a bunch of sophomores, well…if you’ve been reading this book you know how trying to get my license turned out for me.

Many if not most of them were going to wild parties and getting smashed, while with the reputation I had even the slightest thought of inviting me to those soirees was pooh-poohed.

I always found myself interacting with younger kids not only in those days, as among other things I hung around my old junior high school a bit too much during my first year at Samohi and ran back to hang out at Samo at least one a week for the first couple of years I was at college; I was even told by a couple of well-meaning guys one night at a football game that I shouldn’t “make a habit” of visiting too much.

I wasn’t that clueless; I knew deep down that my choices in who I hung with were unusual. I knew deep down that the lack of interactions with my fellow members of the class of 1985 and my preference of befriending members of latter classes was, for lack of a better term, “socially (so-called) retarded”.

Even during the class reunions I attended, although I had a nice time and interacted pretty well with my classmates, I still felt like they were somehow older than me despite the fact that we were the same age.

The thing was, not only was I not driving and not partying, which seemed to me was what roughly 90% of my peers were doing back in the day, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing that stuff even if I was welcomed to those shindigs.

I specifically remember during the fall of 1983 – my junior year – the Samohi marching band getting into HUGE trouble to the point of being pulled from all of our scheduled competition tournaments save one, because of the extreme partying that the majority of the band would do after games on Friday nights, some of them showing up to rehearsals the next morning hung over, and feeling left out and like I was seen as a loser because I had no knowledge of those parties, which meant I wasn’t invited.

Looking back, it would have been a Catch-22 if I had gone to them because all the drinking, drugging, and other madness would have been completely alien to me, like I was visiting from another planet with older folks as I still had that kid mentality of “Oooh, they’re drinking and smoking and having sex!”

They were going through the adolescent growing-up process and the wiring in my brain wasn’t allowing me to, which was frustrating, being mainstreamed into that neurotypical world, the level of frustration growing over the years to the point where suicidal feelings would manifest in me from time to time, for roughly thirty years after that.

Although I still sometimes continue to think that no one really needs me, that if I died people, at best, would mourn me for a bit and then move on as if I had never existed, their attitudes bordering on the “Good Riddance” variety, these desires to end my life eventually ended due to something that happened to me – and I’m still going through – back in 2012.

The root of all my social struggles stems from this:

HAVING ASPERGER’S SYNDROME IN A NEUROTYPICAL WORLD.

Allow me to make something crystal clear, however…

I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form whatsoever, speaking for everyone in the Asperger’s community. I know full well that there are plenty of people with this condition, including some big names like Dan Ackroyd, who are thriving in the NT community and have done so for many years with independence, lucrative careers, and the like.

I am strictly speaking for myself, for THIS aspie.

 

(* = Not his real name)

 

 

A good illustration of me during my formative years, I think.

 

 

 

MORE FAILURES IN THE WORKFORCE: Excerpts From Chapter Nine of “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”

Take away the business attire, and this was me in the workforce much of the time, especially my last six years there. Photo courtesy of iamexpat.nl

 

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM MY SOON-TO-BE-(SELF)-PUBLISHED BOOK DETAILING MY LIFE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM IN A NON-AUTISTIC WORLD

My pronounced lack of success in the workforce – specifically working for someone else – was so large and varied that I had to write two chapters in my upcoming book, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, in order to properly describe all the incidents.

These following excerpts cover the failures I had as an employee from 1999 to 2008, when I quit my last job and left the workforce for good after having what (I think) was my third nervous breakdown.

Here’s the first excerpt:

The autism spectrum part of all this was that due to my need to do my own thing and my not being able to humble myself and see bosses as just that – rather than equal partners – every one of the six jobs that I subsequently had over the next six years would end the same way that it did at Farragut, with me either being fired or forced to resign.

This especially manifested itself in the next major job I was hired for, a place called Westside Bay School*, located just a few miles from my house that ended up really affecting me negatively as I became more disillusioned from my experiences there than any job before or since, for one particular reason:

It was a non-public, special education school geared toward children with Asperger’s and other parts of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In other words, Westside Bay School was geared toward kids who behaved similarly to me as a young-un.

This led me to having a big sense of optimism upon getting hired as a PE instructor (technically an aide, like at Farragut)  there in August of 2003, because this was a place where I cold be a real role model, where I felt I could have a positive impact on the students.

I had no way of knowing that my ten months at Westside Bay School would be almost nothing but a nightmare.

And I also had no way of knowing that it would end up being the overwhelming reason I would not be comfortable around autistic people or other Aspies for a while after my time at that school; I grew SO bitter with that place that as I walked through the front doors on my last day, June 11, 2004 (I remember the exact date!), before I hit the sidewalk I turned around, faced the school building, and stuck my middle finger high in the air.

It wasn’t the most mature or professional thing to do, and of course I regret making that obscene gesture, but I hope you understand why I couldn’t help it after describing my experiences there, the feeling that led to me flipping Westside Bay off.

 

 

 

 

This next excerpt details the trauma I suffered while working at this particular school:

 

If I’m going to describe everything that went down between me and (my supervisor), I’d better not refer to him by his real name as despite everything that happened, I have enough respect for him to not do so.

I’ll call him Gary*.

I vividly remember the first time that I saw that Gary’s and my relationship was far from what I assumed – it was after classes one afternoon.

Gary came into the little office that we shared and said, “I need to talk to you.”

“What about?”

“High school PE,” he replied.

At that point I knew something bad was going to be said because my ninth and tenth grade PE classes were going terribly, the 9th grade class, consisting around fifteen boys, in particular.

But in my warped mind, I expected Gary to commiserate with me.

Offer sympathy.

Say “Hang in there,” or something like that, like I would do if the situation were reversed.

But instead, he pulled out a piece of paper and read what seemed to be an endless list of “suggestions” to make things better in those two PE classes.

As I write this over a decade later, I completely recognize that Gary was only trying to do his duty as a supervisor.

But back then, here’s what my mind was telling me as he was saying what he was saying:

“This guy’s viciously insulting your intelligence AND your experience!”

“This dude thinks you suck as a teacher and are an inferior human being – why else would he interact with you like this?”

“Who in the hell does this jerk think he is, talking to me that way?!”

All of which led to feelings of sheer humiliation, which in turn led me to see him as an oppressor and an enemy, especially after I mentioned that I had Asperger’s and should be cut some slack and left alone with the mindset of “Oh, he has Asperger’s so anything he does we ought to overlook (which was wrong, I know now), and he answered in what in my mind was quite the condescending tone,

“Well, regardless…” which I interpreted to mean that he didn’t give a fuck about me as a human being.

I felt he was blatantly disrespecting those twelve years of experience, that because I was a “veteran” who had been through the wars I had more than earned the right to be left alone to run my classes my way and to be seen as a completely equal partner in every possible way.

Which I now understand was wrong to think as I failed to see that teaching special education students is not the same as teaching neurotypical students.

 

 

 

 

This last excerpt is kind of graphic, as it describes having suicidal thoughts:

 

It was also one of those times where staff would get those “State of how’re you doing” evaluations, which in my view was nothing but a way for the supervisor to tell you how you sucked or, as they put it, “needed to improve” in certain areas.

Which although I have to be fair and say that he did start by listing my good points – was exactly what Gary was doing that afternoon after all the obligatory BS meetings were done, as we sat in the new workout room which doubled as our new office.

I wish I could tell you the precise things that Gary was telling me, but what happened that mid-winter day was so traumatic that my mind has blocked it out.

Except for when, as my brain was screaming how vicious he was in his criticisms, how it was so insulting on an epic scale he may as well have been calling me a “dumb n-word”, he was emotionally hurting me that much; after I said “I’ll try”, in an attempt to placate Gary and concede defeat, he replied in what I felt was the most viciously condescending, drill-like sergeant-like tone that anyone had ever took with me in my entire work life:

“Don’t try, do it!”

I don’t remember what exactly happened immediately after that exchange, but I do remember what I did for what I believe was the rest of that week: stay home and lie in my bed in a deep depression, wanting to commit suicide.

I know this is such because I saw the school’s principal and Diane*, who I had mentioned as one of the leaders, in the principal’s office upon my return a few days layer and either told them I wanted to kill myself, or had blurted it out to Gary during our confrontation and he told them. Diane even asked me how I would go about “hurting myself”, and I answered,

“You know that bridge over Overland Ave., crossing Ballona Creek? I’d jump off of that.”

Apparently I had given this a little thought as I can recall thinking how I wouldn’t shoot myself because it would be too messy.

The overwhelmingly predominant reason those suicidal thoughts were prevalent in my mind was because I was feeling so hurt, humiliated, and oppressed with a dash of condescension by Gary over what had been five months to that point, that I really felt I needed to hurt someone.

I couldn’t hurt Gary, nor did I want to, because I had no desire to end up in prison as part of the proverbial black male statistic, so that narrowed things down to one person…

Me.

* = Pseudonyms, not their real names

 

A decent illustration of how I was feeling for much of my time in the workforce. Photo courtesy of sg.theasianparent.com