Enemy In The Mirror

Wow. Been a while. Sorry, had to finish up a frankly abysmal college semester, then took a week and a half or so to just blob around in my chair and watch YouTube videos for hours on end. Decompressing, you know?

Anyhow, me and my dad recently talked about a subject we both felt was worth a write-up. One thing that has always gotten on my nerves is whenever someone else tells me about something I need to improve on – now, I know that sounds like I think I’m all that and a bag of chips (that goes without saying) but hear me out. Well, read me out. Whatever.

The reason why it irritates me is because nine times out of ten, I’ve already caught on to that exact thing I need to work on and I’m already harping on myself about it. And take it from a pathological perfectionist, I’m very, very good at giving myself grief over these things. So hearing it from someone else once is effectively hearing it for the millionth time, and occasionally that’s just one time too many and I snap at the person. They’re well-meaning and all and of course can’t read my mind, so it’s undeserved and totally unfair but it happens.

It all comes down (again) to perfectionism. It’s a great thing sometimes – striving for perfection or at least as good as you can get something is on the face of it a very admirable ideal, but in practice…it’s, ah, not so great. I tend to hold myself to impossible standards, which I then obviously fail to meet, and as a result I get salty and retreat to my room to wallow in Mountain Dew and Minecraft.

And it doesn’t just affect practical things. Recently, a game I’m super excited for ran a beta test which let me play it for a week. And for most of that week, I didn’t play it. I was very much looking forward to it, sure, and it looked fun, but I didn’t want to jump in. Why? Because I’m a horribly dysfunctional perfectionist. If I played a game I’d never played before, I wouldn’t automatically be amazing at it and I’d play badly. I didn’t want to play badly, so therefore I didn’t play. It’s logical, in a self-destructive and shortsighted way, but in hindsight it was the wrong move.

Since I brought it up earlier, Minecraft has the same problem. I like to have everything just so (perfectionism, yaaaay) so usually I play with mods – that’s short for modifications, someone out there with way too much skill with computers as well as free time thinks “Hey, Minecraft is pretty cool but I think it would be cooler with elephants in it!” So they make a mod, which I can then download and put into my game. Because elephants, dude. Come on.

So I tend to mod all the games I can into oblivion – resulting in them becoming cobbled-together monstrosities that crash every twelve seconds and are generally unplayable. Yet I persist in trying. Why? Because I need those elephants, by Jove, and I’ll have them and the twelve million other things I added because that’s the game I want to play in an ideal world.

Then I finally get into the game. Best part about Minecraft for me is building cool things, castles and cities and such. Bar none. Then I get an idea into my head, try and plan it all out – and never start, because I’m constantly adjusting the mental image to get it just right and perfect and by the end of it I’ve either ADHDed off to something else or just realized I can’t actually do that and so why bother playing?

Essentially, perfection is a nice ideal but it’s that. An ideal. Which means it doesn’t happen, isn’t going to happen, period. Full stop. Now, I hate writing coherent, MLA-formatted conclusions so this is the last paragraph. I’ll be working on updating a heck of a lot more often over the summer; no telling on what the fall semester will bring but hey, that’s months off, plenty of time.

I Am A Triangle

Or a pentagram.

 

Look, the point is I’m not well-rounded. And sticking triangular pegs in rounded holes is…well, it’s really painful.

School, I know you mean well. I really do. I’ve come a long way from believing that my parents and teachers were all conspiring against me and my interests. But for the love of all that is holy, cool it with the well-rounded crap. I absolutely detest being made to study things like math (it always does come back to math, doesn’t it?) that have nothing to do with whatever it is I might actually want to do with my life.

No, I do not give a fig about being a well-rounded individual. I do not want or need to know how to write chemical formulas. I have precisely zero intention of ever going into a career where I might need that information. If I did, I would study the heck out of it, but I don’t. Therefore, forcing me to do it is only going to cause problems. Triangular peg. Round hole. I learned this in kindergarten and taking geometry only reinforced what I figured out.

Speaking of geometry, that would probably be my favorite math class of all time. Not that there wasn’t a fair bit of completely unnecessary homework bogging down my grade, brain and free time but it was useful, darn it! I could take anything I learned in that class and think up half a dozen situations where I’d need to know how to calculate the length of a hypotenuse of a right triangle using basic trigonometry.

Fast forward a year. Algebra II. Conic-God-forsaken-sections. When in my life am I ever going to need to graph a hyperbola? Then again, the actual trigonometry class itself. Sine over cosine over cosecant of the square root of why the actual, bouncing, top-hat-wearing heck am I ever going to need this equation!? It’s all just numbers – no, I take that back. They wouldn’t even give us numbers, just letters, and ill-defined letters at that. So they just spout a bunch of ambiguous values and sine this and cosine that and the whole thing is all very abstract and nice, I’m sure some ancient fossil of a Greek mathmatician is very proud of his work but what. Is. The. POINT!?

I feel the need to bring this up for a reason related to why this blog has lain fallow for so long: I’m behind in my schoolwork. Shocking, I know. The better part of this is of course math work, because with all the various problems I have with it (pointless, repetitive, the teacher can’t even be bothered to explain things properly) make it an experience that I wouldn’t choose over having my toes amputated with blunt scissors. And each week that pile just gets bigger. It’s unholy.

I’d best get back to it, though. I believe this is a little bit shorter than my average post, but it will have to do. Just letting everyone know I’m not dead, not abandoning the blog (again) just trying to keep up on schoolwork that is borderline intolerable.

 

I’ve Been On The Radio

As the title says. Last Friday, on March 11, I was invited to take part in a talk show on a local radio station on the subject of Asperger’s, the autistic spectrum, and this blog. Pretty exciting stuff, all in all.

And you know, it was actually kind of fun. The broadcast was recorded for viewing via webcams as well and can be found here. Fair warning, it’s nearly an hour long, although I suppose you can listen to it in the background while doing something else – Lord knows you don’t want to be staring at me and my dad’s ugly mugs for that long.

At first I was kind of intimidated by the idea of being on the radio. I mean, it’s the second best thing to being on television, and one does not easily get used to the idea that a whole bunch of people will be watching one’s performance. But even so I found it to be an ultimately highly rewarding experience, particularly because I was helping to educate people on autism and the challenges associated with it. I wasn’t able to be quite as comprehensive as I liked, but that’s understandable given the format, the sort of improvised discussion and the necessity for commercial breaks.

One of the high points was definitely the sense that I was actively making an impression on people. The host of the show personally thanked me after it ended for appearing on the show, and it’s very nice to feel appreciated in such a way. Certainly better than most of my spring break, during which I’ve managed to accomplish precisely nothing (although it is spring break we’re talking about, so that’s not a terrible thing)

Anyway I must apologize for the relatively late and short post. It’s relatively late where I am, after all, and I can’t spare a whole lot of time at the moment. I sincerely hope my blog is helping decrease frustration. Thank you and good night. Literally. Although probably not by the time you read this.

 

Homework

I really, really do not care for homework.

Now, it’s not that I’m lazy. My track record at my actual jobs speaks for itself in that regard. The issues I have with homework are many and varied, but it’s really less about laziness than it is about everything else.

The biggest problem I had with homework was the fact that it was piled on top of everything else I already had to do. If I’ve just spent eight hours in high school, I do not come home and go “gee, now I think I’ll spend hours on homework, what a great use of my time!” After dealing with all the issues that school presents I want to come home and recharge from that and not have to worry about it constantly until the next day because my math teacher is allergic to not giving us homework (it was always math for some reason). As far as I was concerned, my time outside of school was mine and if the teachers didn’t care for that they could take a flying leap, by preference off some large building or another.

That’s still a problem that I face, although markedly reduced, now that I’m in college. I spend vastly less time in class than I used to, and the classes are far smaller and just less stressful to deal with. As such, I feel like I have more time to deal with things outside of class and by extension homework is less of an intrusion.

Then we have the fact that by and large homework is almost entirely pointless. My school district’s math classes were all apparently obligated to give homework daily. Daily. Alright, fine, let’s be charitable and say they’re only about ten problems each. Oh, and to do question 3 you need to do subquestions 3a, 3b, 3c…you can see where I’m going. Plus it’s all mind-obliteratingly boring, it’s always just “repeat the same problems over and over again, just with slight differences!”

Why!?

I don’t actually mind math, when it’s not of the academic memorize-and-regurgitate formula that teachers are in love with. My dad asked me to figure out how many more pages of a magazine he’d need to sell ad space for before it was profitable to bump the page number up and I helped him write an algebra equation for it. It took an hour. It was actually somewhat fun. What’s the deal here?

And this problem hasn’t gone away with college, no sir. My homework is dragging my grade down unnecessarily because I would rather pry my fingernails off with a crowbar than do the same problems over and over again while I feel my brain turn into low-calorie gluten-free oatmeal substitute from the sheer boredom of it. Both tests I’ve had so far I’ve gotten an A on. I aced one of them. I know the bloody material, now if I didn’t have to pulp my own head against a brick wall to prove it, that’d be highly appreciated, professor!

Thus concludes my rant for the week, hope you all find it helpful!

 

Mission Control

HA! I’m on time this week!

 

So, before my parents knew I had Asperger’s, they knew I needed to do better in school. So we tried all manner of things – which is a long and delightful story for another day, assuming I haven’t told it already. I’ll be the first to admit I have a serious problem of forgetting what I’ve told to whom, so I’ll often repeat stories to people who already know it by heart.

Anyway, one of the things we tried out was a study skills book that seems relatively solid. One of the things it postulated was organizing your room to act as a sort of headquarters or mission control (roll credits). This made a lot of sense and still does to me. For starters, Asperger’s is a sensory disorder at its heart and one of the things that regularly sets me off is seeing disorganized things. I want things to have a system, to be neatly stacked in appropriate categories, and when they aren’t it upsets me. Just another stressor on the mountain I’ve already got.

Of course this by no means is saying I’m an organized person. My room has generally been a haven for random clutter scattered about, simply because I’m otherwise occupied when I bring things into it and as such don’t feel like I have the time to organize it. A while back though, I got it into my head that I was going to organize my entire room – I think this was when I originally moved into my current one – and did so.

Boy did it ever make the difference. My room was now not only the place where I lived, but the place where everything else residing within it existed according to my rules. Not a single object got left in my room without a home and it was glorious. You really have no idea how relaxing it is, how at peace it makes everything.

Of course, the problem here is that while the results are wonderful, it’s the process that seems to be an issue. I was fortunate enough to have the convenience of a new room to move into that allowed me to take the opportunity to square things away and all, but I’m not sure how I would have done it had I not had such a ready-made opportunity. I might not have managed it at all.

I’ll have to figure it out again though, because clutter has slowly been re-invading my room and I’ve got to put a stop to it. Dividing it up into small tasks seems to work for now – I put a big pile of books I rescued from what would otherwise have been thrown away in their proper places on the shelf and that’s already made an improvement. Anyway, seeing as it’s helped me I figured some of my readers might want to hear about it. Why not? I hope you all have found some use in this blog post and that you have a wonderful day.

Timely Update

I’MONLYADAYLATEDON’TJUDGEME!

Now.

On with the blog post.

This past week I’ve been struggling with feeling like I have way too much to do at any one time. Let’s see…I’ve got most of a week’s worth of homework in three or four classes. I still haven’t whipped my room back into shape after the beginning of this semester sent my organization into a tailspin. I have a weekly blog post to write. On top of that I have to put up two Youtube videos a week on Monday and Friday and I’ve only got one of them even prepared, but not uploaded to the website.

So looking at all of this at once has been more than a little overwhelming to me. I’ve felt a bit out of sorts as a result, contemplating how life just seems like a colossal chore. The whole week I feel like I’m juggling all this stuff only to then have the contents of an entire ball pit dumped on me. And if I stop for a second to gather myself I lose control of everything, things pile up, disaster.

Oh, and I’m only at a community college. It just didn’t seem like there were any good options. Ever. Thinking about my future yielded a couple of ideas. One was that in order to get a relatively reliable career I was going to have to complete my current degree (a trial in itself) and then move on to a significantly more expensive college with a significantly more difficult workload (just what I needed, NOT).

And it doesn’t end. After that I’ll get a job, which means a return to high-school levels of time sliced out of every weekday and possibly other times as well, not even accounting for things like buying groceries, cleaning my house, maintaining my car. Thinking about all this I begin to despair of ever having the time to do what I personally want. Admittedly I’d like to work with computer (haven’t figured out exactly what yet) and so if I can get a job like that it should alleviate some of the issues, but still.

So the optimal solution, it seems, would be to get a career as a writer/blogger or Youtuber, both things I thoroughly enjoy doing. I mean, if Twilight can be as popular as it is, I’m fairly certain I can do okay – not meaning to sound arrogant, just that Twilight is less than stellar quality that I’m pretty darn sure I can top easily. Youtube is slightly different in that it’s incredibly difficult for people to actually get traffic to their channel. Admittedly I’ve yet to do anything that hasn’t been done a billion times before, but still.

All in all, this is not a terribly good situation I found myself thinking about. So I stopped thinking about it. Among other things, the sheer overwhelming vision of drudgery I had created for myself (because it’s not really guaranteed, to be honest) had simply intimidated me into temporarily giving up because of the seeming futility of bothering to enjoy things. It’s something I’ve noticed in the past, and it’s a documented psychological phenomenon even among neurotypicals. The anticipation of something is invariably worse than the thing itself.

By not worrying about things that far into the future (which includes a lot of trusting God not to screw me over, so there’s that too) I’ve found my ability to focus on the things at hand improved. Though evidently not my ability to post to the blog on time. Hey, at least a day’s delay is extremely timely by my standards – my average is a couple of months!

Anyway, readers, I hope today’s more-or-less aimless rambling helped you out. Take care and see you next Wednesday (I’m serious this time).

State of the Aspie Address

HAHA! Updating once a week! It’s still technically Wednesday! Take that, schedule!

*ahem*

Now. On to the subject of today’s post.

I’ve had an interesting past couple of weeks. School still doesn’t quite feel like I’ve got it down so far this semester, and I lost my job. The restaurant I delivered pizza and washed dishes for closed down about a month ago.

Can’t say as I’m terribly surprised, nor will I miss the food.

How this actually affected me was simple. I’d had that job for almost four years – pretty much right from the time I turned sixteen I’d been working there and as such it had become routine. I was one of “the guys” who knew literally everything about how the job was supposed to be done. I was an expert. Perhaps most importantly, I knew everyone there and was respected, even having earned a couple of friends.

Now I had none of that, and I certainly couldn’t sit around playing Fallout all day. Fun as it is, it doesn’t actually bring me money (theoretically it could, but my Youtube channel isn’t big enough). So I had to get a new job. Which was a colossal strain – I was constantly wondering if I was doing it right. It made me realize that working for my first job I knew so much that was simply beyond my expertise with this third job (I’d worked two jobs briefly through the first half of 2015).

Applying for my new job, I was very, very anxious through the whole process – obtaining application, filling it out, depositing it, all that. Three days after I dropped it off I called the store to check up on it, not having heard back. For those of you trying to get a job, I recommend it, it shows that you actually care about the job and will follow through on things. But I was scared to do it; I actually had to call my mom and dad both and get them to reassure me. The odd bit about that is I knew exactly what they would say in advance, it’s just the fact that they actually said it made it mean that much more.

Long story short, I got an interview, aced it, got the job on the spot, and am now delivering pizzas once again. In all honesty I can’t believe I ever worked at the old place – I make a killing from tips, the job is much less stressful due to an adequate number of workers, and nearly every co-worker I’ve spoken to has built their own PC (for those who don’t know, I’m a nerd and this is a Big Deal that lots of my co-workers are nerds too. Also building a PC isn’t that impressive either, but now I’m veering off topic without even closing the parenthetical statement).

The next bit is college. College is still a colossal trial and will likely continue to be such for the foreseeable future. The big issue this semester was that I made an effort to take as many online courses as possible; I live forty minutes from campus and between those drives and my job as a pizza guy I was slowly murdering my car. Actually, it wasn’t even all that slow. More on that later.

With online classes there was zero scheduling aside from deadlines. You got an assignment, you were told when it was due, and then they left you alone. Both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because hey, now I’ve got all that free time back! A curse because without structure, the first few weeks could be summed up as follows: holycheezitsallmyhomeworkisdueintwodaysquickworkworkworkworkwork!

Admittedly preceded by five days of being pretty relaxed but even so. This past couple of weeks I’ve finally started to get the hang of things, which is pretty nice as it lets me measure out the amount of time I have for each assignment and divide up the work into neat little packets. Then I simply determine the minimum number of packets to complete in a day, overshoot it slightly, and have my weekends back. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, homework! The man cannot keep me down!

Finally, this last week (in my first couple of shifts at my new job, no less, which made it even more stressful) my car broke down completely. I did say I’d get to this, remember? The battery gave out entirely, to the point that when my dad brought it in for fixing, the mechanic told us by all rights we shouldn’t have been able to start it in the first place. The thing had seventy amps in it (for those of you who are, like me, car-illiterate it’s supposed to have more than a few hundred. Long story short it wasn’t pretty).

On top of that, the heater hadn’t been working right; if I had it on anything higher than the very lowest setting it would make this unholy grinding and screeching noise. So, since I needed my eardrums for other engagements and also didn’t want to spend enough money to pay off the national debt on aspirin, I kept it on low. Now the problem with this is that I live in a place where winter might as well be a trip to Siberia – I had nights where frost formed on the inside of my windows. While I was running the heat. Which meant I couldn’t see squat; less than ideal for a professional driver.

Oh, and on top of that the accelerator would occasionally get stuck on, so the car would uncontrollably rev the engine up as high as it could possibly go. Happened twice in one night (same night the battery died and I had to get a jump from one of my co-workers), once when I was parking and both times when I might as well have been trying to navigate a maze in an ice rink. Not fun. Both times I safely changed to neutral and dislodged the pedal but still. Ended up costing me five hundred money to get everything fixed up, which sucked, but ultimately it’s still better than having to replace the car.

According to my dad I handled the car issue very well. He cited times in my life where I would have had a complete mental breakdown if that happened under the circumstances that it did. Good to know I’m making progress there, then…although he might just be referring to the fact I bought him pizza for lunch in thanks for helping me with the car and letting me borrow his for that day’s shift. Either way I’ll take it…could be worse, and I got pizza too, after all.

Next post should be in a week – do remember to scream at me if I manage to kill the schedule again. I’m very trying, I swear.