You Don’t Have Autism

Recently I was talking with a coworker at my job and made the remark that as an Aspie I was contractually obliged to do everything awkwardly (this in response to him telling me I didn’t have to stand there awkwardly while waiting for something to do). He apparently didn’t know what Asperger’s was. I regarded this as something of a professional failure, given that I had endeavored to make sure as many coworkers as I could distract from their jobs knew about Asperger’s, so I told him basically it was high-functioning autism.

His response was an incredulous “you don’t have autism!”

Which I found exceedingly interesting.

I was recently reading a book called Asperger’s On The Job by Rudy Simone, and one of the points was not to be offended when someone thought you didn’t have Asperger’s. Some quick application of perspective allowed me to figure out why. The average person with no personal experiences with the spectrum will view autism/Asperger’s as a set of universally negative attributes such as lack of social skills, incredible rudeness, etc. etc. The positive attributes are far less well-known. So when my coworker told me he didn’t think I had autism, he was in fact informing me of one of two things: either he is extraordinarily bad at observation or in general I am not viewed as possessing most of the negative bits of Asperger’s.

So either way I win. Or at least I break even with the first one. I know for a fact that I’m universally regarded as quirky around the workplace; frankly I like it that way. Otherwise who’s going to randomly start singing Let It Go in the middle of the dinner rush? But as I said before, barring complete perception failure on the part of the coworker in question, I have apparently been managing myself pretty well. That’s food for thought.

The Church

To be honest, although I generally view myself as a Christian and am generally viewed as such by my peers (my apologies to the Christian community in general for that), I’ve never enjoyed church. When I was younger, the only thing I did in church was really to sit there and draw pictures of random things that had nothing whatsoever to do with the message being taught.

Don’t get me wrong, I still try and hold to Christianity and try to listen to/apply the messages, it’s just difficult. I’ve never really been much for listening to directions and applying them, especially after the fact and as anyone who’s ever had a serious go at following Christ knows it ain’t exactly what you’d call easy. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. My dad’s in the Special Needs Ministry section at our church (for the life of me I can’t imagine why) on the staff and asked me to write this post for a meeting, so I’m going to talk about how I deal with actual church services.

For starters, I hate standing during worship. So I don’t. It’s that simple and frankly I don’t understand why anyone would make a huge deal out of it.

Second, I don’t particularly like when I’m told to greet the people standing around me. I don’t know these people. Why am I supposed to act like I have an interest in what’s going on in their lives? That would be lying – as I recall that’s a sin. I’m nothing if not brutally and savagely honest whenever possible. Yes, I get that people are expected to show an interest in the lives of others. But I’ve got enough on my own plate, thanks, so deal with it. I’ll shake your hand and say good morning but that’s it.

Thirdly, I sit in the same place every time I go to church. In the back row of the balcony. It’s a comforting feeling knowing nobody’s staring at the back of your head, to be honest. And I’ve always loved balconies. The vantage point is such that one doesn’t have to worry about people sitting in your line of sight and far enough away from the stage that you don’t go deaf during worship. Thus, when our worship leader started talking about people sitting in the same places every week, I told myself “if he tells me to get up and sit somewhere different I will walk down the aisle and beat him to death with his microphone.” He wasn’t, actually. He was talking about how people should get to know the others who sit in the same section.

Which in turn is odd. Granted I’ve never ever paid much attention to the people sitting around me, but I don’t think the same group sits up in my balcony all the time. I’ve seen that my family sits there (since I pick the seats) and that a family who’s friends with ours (if I recall their oldest is also an Aspie) sits there often if we go to the eleven o’clock service, but that’s it. Though it’s worth emphasizing that I’m not liable to pick up on this sort of thing. I mind my own business.

Then there are my issues with the Bible itself – no, I’m not reiterating my frustration with my parents’ claims to complete authority. But once I was on a forum for gifted children and someone started a thread where people shared their religious beliefs. Most of them were atheist/agnostic (they had an entire debate on the difference), one was a Zen Buddhist, and then I posted saying I’m a Christian. Whereupon I immediately got hit in the face with “I DUN WANNA BELIEVE IN A GOD WHO SAYS GAYS GO TO HELL.”

Um. What. 

Leaving out the entirety of that particular theological cluster bomb, they then proceeded to try and prove the Bible is fake because it says pi equals three. Part of me says, “okay, you’re nitpicking, and I make that into a lifestyle choice so when I tell you you’re going overboard…yeah.” The rest goes off on a tangent and wants to know why this doesn’t apply. I still believe in the Bible being correct. That’s not likely to change. But I’d like some of my nitpicks addressed in ways other than “that isn’t important and you’re nitpicking,” because that’s dodging the question. I feel like I’d benefit from a class on the logic of the Bible or something (insofar as the Bible can be squared with logic, there’s a point where the two diverge).

Anyway, this post having to do with religion I hope I didn’t offend anybody I didn’t mean to.

The Parent Trap

My parents have recently been telling me they think I treat my managers at work better than I do them.

To some extent, they are right. Actually they’re mostly right – I don’t buy my managers birthday gifts or hug them at random but when it comes to day-to-day tasks, I tend to treat them better.

As you may have guessed, this is going to be a post written from MY point of view, with nothing held back on my views on the parent/child thing. MY point of view does not necessarily mean that it’s automatically correct, unless of course we’re talking about Frozen.

Thing is, if my managers treated me the way my parents did, I’d probably quit on the spot.

My parents tend to get a lot more involved in my business than I would like. Yeah, like every teenager in the world hasn’t said that, but apparently my psychiatrist at least agrees with me. I met with her this last Tuesday to discuss my continued medication and when I told her about how my dad turned the Internet off until I completed a list of tasks, she frowned and said that’s way too controlling. 

As much as I agreed with her, I told her she was welcome to tell my dad that and get her head torn off over it. I’ve already tried to make that point and every time I get hit in the face with the Bible. On top of that, I can’t really pull much by way of verbal argument. I’m verbose and I can talk a mile a minute, but I can’t hold up a proper debate without going to writing. And every time I do have a decent point (which is rarely, at least verbally), I get the Bible thrown in my face with “YOU MUST DO WHAT PARENTS SAY OR WE’LL THROW YOU OUT OF OUR HOUSE.”

Beings as I don’t have another place to live, I at that point retreat from the conversation. It’s one thing to learn to deal with these things by experience. It’s another to try and do so when my entire livelihood is on the line. Whereupon I then get mocked for “you always run away when the conversation gets tough/deep.” Damn straight I do, I’m not about to get thrown out just because you’re cheesing me off enough that I’d like to punch you in the face.

It’s one thing to expect me to do stuff. I’m perfectly fine with that, but it’s another thing entirely to go “I’M SHUTTING INTERNET OFF UNTIL YOU COMPLETE LIST.” Now, I’m not saying they don’t have the right to do that. It’s their house, their internet and I’m living here for more or less free; they’re legally entitled to do whatever they want however they like. But by the same point, I wish they’d do what they want in such a way that isn’t DRIVING ME INSANE. 

And, naturally, we’ve had talks about this as well. None of which have gone as well as I’d like either because of sheer stubbornness on their part (referencing the Bible does not equal an “I win” button or a moral high ground) or because I’ll interpret something they’re saying as an attack and then my dad will blow up over how he can’t say anything without me interpreting it wrong. Well, me and my Asperger’s apologize. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m not the best at reading social cues. Deal with it! You’re the one with the working nonverbal language, stop expecting me to be able to magically interpret what you’re saying properly when experience has shown that I can’t normally and even less so when under stress.

Which reminds me, I’m not taking any sort of moral high ground beyond I’m sick and tired of living like this. And since I know someone’s going to say it, “so move out then” is not an option. So don’t bother saying it. But damn it, my parents ought to be able to tell when they’re driving me completely bananas and be able to tone down the freaking pressure already. I’ve been eighteen and graduated for less than a MONTH, cut me some slack while I figure out what I’m doing and stop trying to shove it down my throat. When I want a drink I’m not going to run to the damn fire hose.

The Lord of Tangents

First off, this’ll be a short post because I’m impatient and WordPress ate my first draft.

I’m sure you’ve all read my posts and know that I prefer to take the title of Lord of Tangents. I find this interesting. If I happen across something I don’t know that in any way remotely interests me, I’m going to immediately drop everything I’m doing just to go find it out. Most commonly this will happen at work – I’ll be wondering who I close with next week or something and have to stop myself from immediately going off to find this out.

I’ve been wondering why this happens, exactly.

Technically there’s no real reason for it. It’s not something I particularly need to know at the time and I’ll eventually find out on the day. But it just irritates me not to know. 

I’m not sure why this is, but it causes no end of derailing when I’m working on something at the restaurant and I need to go look something up RIGHT THE HECK NOW. It’s a bit irritating.

I also tend to randomly start up conversations that have no real place in context – I’ll remember something I was talking or thinking about and start talking as though whoever I’m speaking with was listening in on my thoughts. Not sure why, I just do.

Finally, while my mind wanders in conversation I tend to interrupt people – if I don’t say something RIGHT NOW I’ll forget about it so I need to say it now.

 

Anyway, cheers.

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

First, I’d like to preface this post with a message. Frozen has now supplanted The Avengers as my favorite movie of all time.

If you don’t like Frozen then get off of my blog and go see a psychiatrist or something, because there is something seriously, SERIOUSLY wrong with you and you shouldn’t be sitting in front of a screen when you could be fixing it. Begone.

Shoo.

 

Right, now that the people with poor taste in movies are gone, let’s get down to business here. This morning my dad commented that my bedroom was extremely cold. My response, of course, was to say, “The cold never bothered me anyway.” Because references are awesome and references to sources that are themselves awesome increase that awesome exponentially. Awesome. But that prompted my dad to say, “Hey, you should use Frozen as a topic for your blog.”

Now, I know what people are thinking. This is a blog about tales from the Aspergian skull cavity, not a blog for me to gush about awesome stuff like Frozen or Firefly (I reiterate; if you don’t like them then leave and have your head examined. You shouldn’t be reading this far down anyhow, didn’t you see the opener?) But, you see, me and my friends have this thing we do where we will take each person in our little group and assign them a character from a video game, movie, book, etc. for kicks and giggles. When possible these are supposed to match personality, though on at least one occasion we named one of the group to be Black Widow (from the Avengers) purely because she was the only girl and quite frankly there weren’t any personality matches.

From that same discussion I’m Iron Man (because of my sarcasm and casual disregard for authority). I’m also Captain Jack Sparrow, the TF2 Soldier, the Joker, Batman, Nightcrawler and Elsa. Naturally we did one with Frozen, duh, we all love it ’cause we’ve got good taste in movies.

The scary thing is how accurate the last one is. No, I’m not a queen. Nor do I have ice powers (suffice to say I’d have conquered the world; I’m not NEARLY so nice a person as Elsa). Nor, for that matter, am I an attractive woman. I’m a guy with a lack of adjectives (because while my parents insist I’m handsome, I find it a tad difficult to interpret them as being purely objective. They’re my parents, n’est-ce pas?) Where things start scarily mimicking my own life is in Elsa’s life and interactions with others.

Spoilers ahead for Frozen. If you haven’t watched it go watch it, my blog will be here when you return barring a DDoS attack or the apocalypse.

 

I’m assuming anyone reading from this sentence on has watched the movie. Elsa’s shut herself off from human contact to avoid giving people a nasty case of frostbite. I did something similar – back when I was in elementary/junior high/middle school, the main indication that I had Asperger’s was that I had one hell of a temper. I bit someone on the back of the neck once. So eventually I arrived at the conclusion that contact with humans equals bad. Because humans made me angry and when I’m angry, I punch people in the face. When people are punched in the face they press charges. I have no interest in going to jail and quite frankly I don’t enjoy punching people in the face (unless they deserve it. Those schmucks who don’t like Frozen, I’m looking at them.)

At the same time, Elsa is causing harm to those around her purely by not interacting with them – namely, Anna is upset that her sister’s shutting her out and because the plot requires extraordinary poor communication she thinks there’s no reason for it. I, for my part, tend to stay in my room by myself as well, which irritates my own brother and my parents who want to see more of me.

Finally, Elsa doesn’t realize her full potential (as seen during Let It Go and if you don’t like that song then GET. OUT. ) because she’s afraid of the effects it would have on other people as well as what they might say about her/do to her. People keep saying I’m a great writer. I’ll let you decide on that for yourself – but the point is that I’m not realizing my full potential either. I should probably write that book…

Five Reasons Why I Don’t Drink

Recently I had a coworker invite me over to his house after work one night to get drunk. Initially I thought he was joking, but as far as I can tell (not very far, admittedly) he was entirely serious.

Naturally, this prompted me to refuse and supply five reasons to explain the refusal.

One, I’m eighteen. Therefore it’s illegal for me to drink anything with alcohol in it, and I’m somewhat anal about those laws that nobody else follows (*cough*TRAFFIC*cough*). So yeah. I’ve no desire to get in trouble with the law, and just because hundreds of people my age get away with it is no reason to go ahead and try it. For one thing, I’ve got four reasons left, and for another, even the risk of getting caught is just no. No.

 

No.

 

Second reason: I hate alcohol. Back when my dad actually drank the stuff (usually in his softball dugout) I always HATED the smell of beer. Hated it. I still hate it. How can something that looks so much like apple juice smell like gasoline and cough syrup’s unholy bastard child? Plus, I once had a small drink of wine. It wasn’t my fault, the bloody church didn’t bother to point out it wasn’t grape juice, but it tasted like cough syrup and I nearly threw up afterward. I’ve since been assured by drinkers that church-supplied wine isn’t very good quality (which makes sense) but I still have no desire to repeat the experience.

 

Third reason: I need to sleep. I don’t quite understand why people will try and stay up until the wee hours of the morning – nothing of any particular interest is going on there. I mean, I hate sleeping – if I could do away with sleep I would, I’d love to have eight or nine extra hours with which to do what I want – but you still need it and you’re just shooting your biological clock in the face when you stay up to get drunk.

 

Fourth: I needed to go to church the next morning and I had no desire to do so with a hangover. Granted I’ve no idea what a hangover is like but it doesn’t sound particularly enjoyable from what I’ve read and I need my mental faculties at church to be functional so I can actually pay attention and at least pretend to learn something.

 

Fifth: Alcohol impairs one’s judgment. My judgment’s plenty bad enough, thanks, I don’t need to bloody well poison it as well. Suffice to say that I would be almost certain to end up with a Darwin award if I was supplied with enough alcohol. My friends keep quoting the line that I once said at the top of my voice: “I don’t need to be smart, I’m a genius!” Obviously I wasn’t being serious (I rarely am, in person) but it’s still a bit of a point. There’s a difference between smarts, intellect and wisdom. Look at Star Wars. It’s Han Solo, C-3PO and Obi-Wan respectively. I’m a bit like Threepio – plenty of knowledge (about mostly random and useless facts) but very little common sense with which to adjudicate my actions.

 

Anyway, five reasons to not do drugs (don’t kid yourself, alcohol is a drug.) If you’re eighteen and go to church, anyway. If not then there’s only three, but that ought to still suffice.

An Aspie’s Thank-you

Recently I wrote a letter thanking a couple friends of the family for helping set up my new room:

 

Dear Gavin and Cathy (I think I spelled those right),
There are no words in English, Russian or French to describe the magnitude of the help you guys have provided. Which makes this letter somewhat difficult to write. It’s one of those things where you can’t quite put it into words, but you still have to work within their limits so it all comes out feeling kinda clunky and stiff and not meaning what it was supposed to. Regardless, I have to at least put in the effort – it’s the least I can do after your help in setting up my new room.
As you’re both probably aware I suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome…technically it’s now high-functioning autism but whatever. The point is that my brain works a bit differently from the average human being’s. As such, the ability to stay at home and take time adjusting to life more or less on my own (i.e. doing my own laundry and such things) is an incalculable asset. New experiences for Aspies are extremely traumatic and create huge levels of anxiety. I can’t help it; even if I can work through the logic and probability of things going horrifically wrong I will still fret over something like that until it’s gone well and then I’ll worry a bit more. All this is EXTREMELY taxing on one’s mental faculties – I very nearly went insane just from finishing the school year.
One shudders to think exactly how long it would have taken for me to go mad after moving out of the house. Alternatively I would have ended up on the streets almost certainly, which isn’t much better. This is like one of those times when you’re listening to a motivational speaker and they’re talking about how they probably would have joined Hitler Youth or something if not for these nice people who talked them into the Boy Scouts instead or somesuch like that.

For me, those people are you two. And the plumber and some other couple of people but you two did the bulk of the work. And so, I thank you from the bottom of my heart – wait, that doesn’t go down very far, does it? I thank you from the bottoms of my feet. There. That sounds much better. Probably good for a laugh as well. Buy one get one free.

-[REDACTED] the Grateful, Lord of Tangents and High-Functioning Aspie