But

For those who aren’t aware, I am not just a writer of prose & poetry, I also compose music and write songs, and I have a pet project I call Love! The Musical based on all the things I have learned about human relationships. Today one of my songs, tentatively titled “But”, is particularly on my mind, & I thought I would share some lyrics:

[Verse:]
You might be right about
the rain in Spain and whether it stays mainly in the plain;
you might be right about
how to balance work and fun.
You might be right about
the weather, and everything under the sun.
You might be right about
how I should live my life,
but...

[Refrain:]
You see, that determination
is not for you to make,
it’s not for YOU to make,
NOT for you to make.

There’s a bullshit to your logic
I’m not prepared to take,
that I’m not gonna take;
no, I’m not gonna take!

No more flying off the handle( handle),
no more waging wars at home, for goddness’ sake;
’cuz that determination
is not for you to make,
not for you to make;
it’s NOT for YOU to make!



–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

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UberCOOL

Tonight was the first time that I used UberPOOL, the random carpooling option for cheaper rides from smartphone-centric hired-car service Uber, and actually ended up paired with other riders. On my first ride, driver Jeremy took us over to Brookline to pick up Alex. I introduced myself and struck up a conversation.

  “My late friend Sean would love this.” I said. “His dream was to build a connected transportation network, help people easily get where they were going while maximizing the use of resources. Stuff like this, ride sharing... well, I can just see how he would smile. And strangers making a deal to more efficiently get where they’re going.. Well that’s the sort of thing I'm all about.”

  “What do you do?”... I have yet to understand why NTs are obsessed with this question, because as lovely as it would be, we don’t yet live in a society where one’s profession really reflects one’s personality and situations accurately. “I’m a blogger. Well, getting back into it after a while. Which for now means that I’m dependent and I spend a lot of time thinking.” “Oh, what do you write about?”

  Alex, who wasn’t originally from this country, was fascinated. He had a lot of good commentary and questions, too. It seems he’s in medicine, and he was curious about some of the differences in growing up with autism here vs. elsewhere. I acknowledged that there are a lot of accommodations and improvements here now, but mention that I missed them myself having grown up in the 1990s when we first started to understand.

  I don’t know why people say Boston is an unfriendly city. I think they just let themselves get like that and they’re too scared to say hi.



–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

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Leadership

One thing that I have been able to do with my knowledge of people and how to interpret & influence social relationships is running a group, StreetPass Boston, which is essentially Boston’s biggest Nintendo fan club. We meet up at least once a month to play 3DS together, and also play 3DS & Wii U online. Today, I wrote this on the group’s Facebook hub:

“Inspired by something I saw [a Facebook friend] do once, I’ve decided to tell everyone a little something about why I value each person in my friend list. On each day I that I end up doing it, I will pick someone in no particular order & explain why that person has a spot on my list. Unless I can’t remember in which case maybe I’ll ask!

  I’d like to start out by... cheating, actually. <lol> My first “Thanks for your friendship!” goes to StreetPass Bosto. I will call out a few individuals separately, but every single one of you means worlds to me. It was summer 2011 when I first met Karl, but our group really started with the Kid Icarus day meetup 3 years ago. I’m not sure how I ended up in charge, but I think it has something to do with being an impatient loudmouth. When we couldn’t get a minimum 3 people to agree on a date to meet again, I picked one & said I would just go, I think 7 showed up altogether. :-) In the face of the same problem again & again, I just decided to set them up monthly.

  2 years ago at PAX East 201, I attended a panel by StreetPass NY, StreetPass Long Islan, & Streetpass Princeton N & basically made a nuisance of myself... about a third of the time went to me talking from the audience. :-p In response, a group of you declared you were behind me, & as we took on this name, I set up our social media presence, helping us to grow as I knew we could. Having a place & time to get together & appreciate the medium together is great, but more than that, it’s been so surprising & rewarding to have people trust me & follow my lead.

  And listen to me, & miss me/worry when I haven’t been around. When it comes right down to it, anyone is welcome, as casual or committed as s/he wants to be, & we all keep coming back because we love the players as much as the games. I’ve spent 3 awesome years not just finding myself, as I talk about on my website at http://DontReadThisYet.net & across social media, but also watching other shy but awesome people find each other & find their footing in a world that has a tendency to trip up those who’re uncertain. I’ve seen you forge bonds & cover for me & each other as needed, such as when I took a sabbatical last year & left Michael Wilcox in charge, with his awesome fresh meetup ideas.

  Art has the power to bring people together, so groups like ours constitute living proof that games are art, & it’s been my pleasure to help bring this together. I got a lot back, & I learned that not only does everyone need someone, everyone in this world has personal strengths & weaknesses, and each of us deserves to openly have his/her strengths recognized & relied upon, & his/her weaknesses known & covered without hesitation. StreetPass Bosto has helped me recognize my strength to inspire people & direct them effectively, & my weakness in needing to tell people how hard one has to work to maintain such a group, & about my personal struggles in being autistic.

  Being a good leader includes knowing what one can & cannot handle. I’ve been praised for my ability to delegate well, I hope there’s as much appreciation for knowing when to step down. I’m resigning today, & leaving it to Rydia[ yes, we actually have a member named that, now our leader, although she stresses the middle syllable] & m̶y̶ her other helpers to figure out what the future should look like; because I know I need to focus on bringing to life my dream of a world more like our group, with people who appreciate each other & stay strong together.

  Thank you for relying on me. Thank you for covering me. I can’t wait to see what you teach me next.”



–NintendoGaymer

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Goodbye 29... Hello 32

Most years, the holidays & my birthday make me absolutely miserable. Festivals of giving and bright shiny objects remind me that I am poor, and never manage as much as I would like in terms of material generosity to those who are so good to me. The new year means that another old year has gone by with little change in my situation. And my birthday, right in between, not only makes me feel old; this is usually a blah day at best, or outright terrible, especially if I try to make plans.
  For example, last year I was in the habit of attending a weekly game night at a certain pub. At the beginning of December, the game night moved from Tuesday to Sunday for the winter months, meaning the event would coincide with my 3rd annual 29th birthday. So, I decided, what the hell I would be there anyway, many of my friends would be; so why not invite everyone? So I did, I listed the event on social media and encouraged people to drop by, buy me a beer, and wish me a happy birthday.
  Not only was the first Sunday so empty that the guy running the event declared he would skip the rest of December if the second didn’t improve, we never got a chance to find out if it would because the pub suddenly anounced that that would be the date of their farewell event–I tried to plan something on my birthday for the first time in ages, and the venue shut down. That’ll teach me.

  So this year, I've been spending it the way I have for most of the last decade: with no plans whatsoever, just a few of my favorite treats & videos, all on my own. Occasionally, something will materialize and work out O.K.; but not most years, and even though there have been a few offers and suggestions, I don’t think I’ll be doing much this year.
  Looking back on the year, I have a lot to be down about this holiday season. Two good people close to my heart passed away in the prime of their lives. I got a number of fantastic opportunities and didn’t make the most of them; although they weren’t completely squandered either. I failed to save a good friend’s important relationship when my help was sought, then botched my own chance with the object of his affection–also mine. I not only failed to demonstrate that trust isn’t weakness & there are people in the world one can rely on; despite instantly recognizing that we aggravated each other's codependent tendencies, I allowed myself to be taken advantage of and badly screwed by someone who didn't intend to and probably doesn’t even realize happened, and may be incapable of understanding the great enduring love and the deep sense of loss I still feel over our parting. Not to mention the time spent making that attempt pulled me away from every goal & every other good thing in my life.
  So it’s odd to realise that, for all I grieve the lost, and I miss & worry about the living lost to me, I haven't been particularly unhappy lately; in fact, this year has ended kind of O.K., if a bit lonely. And this is probably the best birthday I’ve had since I started turning 29. Frankly, among the best that I can ever remember. What’s going on? I’ve even been less affected by SAD than usual( although the bright lights could have something to do with that).

  There's a saying that one can learn far more from defeat than from victory. As many could attest, I'm not a gracious loser, at least not without seriously strenuous effort; but it's true, these are the best lessons. Earlier this year my mother mentioned to me that if I wanted to find my birth parents, I would have any resources I needed. At the time, I wasn't ready. If I met my birth mother, how could I show her whom I've grown up to be without even knowing that myself? But after catching Kung Fu Panda 2 on TV the other day and seeing the( marvelous!) new Annie on Christmas Eve with my parents( both movies about orphans seeking answers about their past & finding their place in the world), I told them it's time for me to start looking.
  In 2014, I learned a lot about loss, & about weakness–my own & others’; in the process, I have grown stronger. I'm retarded, slow; it's not about giving up or being lazy, it's about knowing when the approach that works for many others isn't the best use of my energy. I'm disrupted rather than motivated by discomfort and thus I must count on being more drained after certain endeavors, perhaps foregoing rewards that I wouldn't be able to enjoy in the same way as a neurotypical person after toughing it out. I have ADHD and thus I'm prone to distraction; in any given time period I can I only count on getting done a quarter of what I wish to, although perhaps many other things that are better off done, even if I wouldn't've prioritized them.
  My awareness of the world around me is far more acute than most people’s in some respects, and sorely lacking in others; sometimes it is too much to ask me to hold on to a piece of paper for two hours, sometimes I lose $500 cash walking from the register to the edge of the parking lot, get to the concert and don't have my ID, remember your favorite soda but forget you hate those chips; & sometimes you should ask me things just because you've got nothing to lose and, being me, I might have an answer no one else would think of. Sometimes I look like a normal person to whom those things happen every now and then, and sometimes that's going to make it hard for you to remember & understand that on the days I seem to be purely a screw-up , what's wrong with me is the same thing that's always wrong with me, every moment, and I’ve just run out of plans or energy to fight it on that particular day.

  As I return to this blog; read the prior entries; look back on my experiences of Sean, of Rebecca, of the great & unique friend that might have been the love of my life if we could even stand to look at each other now; there are two golden threads woven through each story, two shining truths binding me & everyone around me:
  We as human beings all have unique strengths & weaknesses, and each of us deserves to have his or her strength recognized & relied upon, also to have his or her weakness known & covered without hesitation. Love( the unqualified belief that for lack of that person in it, exactly as s/he was/is, one’s world would be poorer) stems from that moment of recognition, of fully accommodating & appreciating, in some context, in some way, at some time, that strength & that weakness in the beloved; real love can never die because that moment is an immutable fragment of the subjective truth of one’s reality.
  That is my greatest weakness. In joy & in comfort, in sadness & in pain; I love people, no matter who they are. Although I may retreat & regroup, although I may lash out at those who hurt me or my loved ones, although my time & movements in this world are not infinite and desire must sometimes lose out to practicality in my actions; I will never give up on people in my heart, no matter how I am battered or exploited. This often leads me into trouble, it may yet lead me to ruin or death. That is my strength. If I believe someone needs me, I will strive to do the best I can. I will make stupid mistake after stupid mistake pursuing a world that is made of moments which are love; when people cover each other's human weaknesses, and rely on each other's awesome strength; when they know their own too and can love themselves without fearing others will cut them down for acknowledging it. I will love people knowing that many who do not love themselves will become my enemies. I will love myself, and when necessary, prioritize myself, knowing that this will make me many more enemies.

  Today I was astounded by all the people who said happy birthday to me, both publicly & privately. On social media and in my calendar, I watched so many of theirs go by thinking how it didn't really matter if I sent birthday wishes to people I haven’t seen in years. I am truly humbled by the love that surrounds me, & despite missing those who are no longer with me, I’m happy to be looking forward rather than backward on my birthday. I'm ready to find my roots because now I can see what they're holding up. So there's a change of plans; the 4th annual celebration has been canceled, and all thereafter–plans never really work out for me on this day anyway.

 Goodbye 29, hello 32.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

own wings

I feel so... Yesterday, we laid to rest( or something, she was not so big on rest, really) my younger cousin, Rebecca SerkeyThere was quite a lot of fuss about it, and I seemed to be among the very few family members( & non-work friends) entirely unsurprised by the amount of activity & attention; I’d always had an impression of a great deal of fraternity amongst first responders, & known her to charm the masses with her bluntness & understated good looks–I was among those who taught her to deal with people, after all. At one point, the driver my uncle hired for the event found me standing aside, the only one not looking desperately sad, & asked, “Just who is this person in your family that died?” with a note of awe in his voice; he’d initially thought the legions of uniformed officers might be for a recently-slain state trooper whose funeral could have preceded hers.
  Her peers & colleagues came from all over the country. There was a helicopter flyby with a call that went out on the radio, calling for the last time for her to come in.( Someone who had worked on the planning said with embarrassment that they wanted to have 3 choppers for her but were stymied by the short notice, as we weren’t sure when NTSB would release the remains, but her mother’s Jewish tradition demanded we inter them immediately.) The massive police escort closed off roads for the funeral procession to pass unhindered, including the George Washington Bridge & an expanse of the Long Island Expressway( crossing NYC without facing traffic was a little surreal, even to me) to her final resting place( under the circumstances, perhaps it’s best that her body was incinerated in the explosion; I’m not sure her body would have been permitted burial in a Jewish cemetary had it been examined intact). Color guards from many cities including Boston honored her, and her mother was presented with an American flag & the thanks of a grateful nation.
  At the burial site, I spoke, told them: alis volat propriis( that
’s a link to my remarks), and was relieved to feel I had done right by her, lived up to her example in giving what I could for those she loved.

  When I went to clean up & post my final draft of those remarks to my blog this morning, I began crying and I have hardly stopped, but it is not a miserable sadness. I wondered why *now*, after feeling, well, nothing but a desire to take care of others upon getting the news, satisfaction at the proceedings as she was memorialized... I think I have identified 2 reasons:
  1) Having seen who she was to the world, I had to explore & explain who she was to me, & who I felt I was to her; in order to know what existed, so as to discover what was lost & what can never be gone. This is as much about me as about her, & would thus not have been a point she nor I would consider appropriate to harp on at the funeral.
  2) I had to be past the point of delivering that remembrance to her mother, father, or the friends who grew up with her essentially as sisters; before saying that(, whatever she might have thought of me), in my mind, my heart, she was very much a brother( yes :-p) & a daughter to me.

  So having said that stuff at the burial for the mourners, I’ll add the following for me:
  With my special gift & our strange bond(/strange gift & special bond?), I got to see, every step of the way, not just who she was but who she tried to be; in any moment encountering her, I saw what emotions drove her forward or held her back. The girl who always smiled never could & thus never had to hide from me her unhappiness or longing–she didn’t ever have to spare me details either, & she never doubted that if she chose to share them(, or if I should figure them out), I got it completely.( Admittedly, she was not always thrilled with the idea.)
  She thus came to understand( & occasionally complain), long before anyone else did, that I am damn stubborn & proud of it; there is precious little point in attempting to deceive me, silence me, or change my mind without changing my perspective(–even for my own or good or someone else’s). She trusted that I knew what I was doing when I said so, & just as importantly, she came to trust that if I said I didn’t know what I was doing she’d better handle it unless she was content to waste a lot of time.( Ha! I’m kidding, she would never be... really, I think when I started not knowing it was a relief for her, but she never rubbed my nose in it.)
  From our earliest days, I complimented her on her own stubbornness( rarely even dressing it up as resolve) & she pushed it beyond mine, to its very limits. I have been so very proud of her–& so very worried. I saw her make mistakes, many of which I made & am only learning now to fix, but for all her stubbornness grew alarmingly greater, I’d forgotten her speed did too. She found freedom faster, & in finding wisdom she accepted truth in the relative blink of an eye. I am so very relieved.
  So I know why I have smiled, why I have cried, & why now I’m doing both: my feelings are parental, are fraternal, are friendly, are rivalrous, are grateful for her admiration & admiring of her in all ways. Not long ago, I lost someone I had not thought of as close to me, & the evidence, that there was more than expected to what I had with him, has left me reeling. Now I lose someone whom I have never doubted was close to me, & I haven’t needed any evidence thereof to stay solid.
  I can’t cry for the loss of her, or for anything she’s lost from me, because we know we gave each other everything we needed, & who that ever loved could ever ask for more? So I smile. I cry only to think that the world around us isn’t all that way, & she must’ve had more pressing business than to heal it... but I can no longer watch after her. I can only say:
Good luck, kiddo. I’m rooting for you.”.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

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Ex Patria... ad Infinitum?

Father, you have done me Wrong, as ever Parent does to Child. Father, you have done me Wrong, for My own Good–where is my Good in it? Is Guilt the Good? Is Silence, maybe? To hold my Tongue, to Honor, to Obey? To be beaten down, by a World that vents it Pain on the Weak? I should not say Mother was a better Parent–I could not Be, without You, who I am, the Me I value. I was Built by You–am I Perverse, then, to Fail aloud? Is it Heresy to be From you, yet Broken? To be yet Broken, From you? Father, you have done me WRONG: I cannot say I will be a better Father–I cannot say I have been any better a Son.

  Borne to you though not born to you, an adopted child is like any child but more so: of you, yet not your flesh; your ideals, yet not in your mind; perhaps your will, yet not bound by your perspective nor driven by your life; confronting shared experiences, but with a different strength, at once greater & lesser–& a neurologically “disordered” child lives in your world, yet does not know it in your way.( For this I am contemptible or pitiable to those “rightly ordered”.)
  Is it fickle fate or outrageous fortune, or was it something deeper still, my origin so far from the “reflexive obeisance” you wrote into your history, described as a mark of your heritage? My heritage is not only yours, & the misery that haunts it & the lessons we must not forget–but also that of the guerrilla–the little war. The guerrillero fights such a war–in every way, at every turn, with all at his disposal. For home, for truth, against invasion, against oppression–against the father or against the self, a choice the men there make, unaware; & some beat into their own children: choose the father. Not so different from you, then, yet... if not beaten down we rise up. My blood runs hotter than I can bare to hold in; I vent heat in fiery passion, blazing bright in the world. For all my differences & all my faults, & all my alien being, I am what you wanted, & what you feared: I am you–now stronger than you ever imagined being. Stronger still in knowing my weaknesses. Strongest yet in knowing yours, & in seeing them the same.

  We best know others in relation to ourselves, we best know ourselves in relation to others. You look at others as still images, reliefs, as frozen, but we of the future are living, & those of the past, the dead, still recede as much from the present. To see us cast in stone is to cast yourself immobile. To look back at the past you turn away from the future, to hold it you abandon the present–but a mirror can allow us to see behind while facing forward. To view the living past & living present & living future at once, look with a mirror. To see like unto infinity, regard one mirror in another.
  I want us to be better, to be a better son; you need only let me–but obsessed with being a better father( than you had or than you were, I wonder?), thinking to learn from others’ failures, you only learnt their flaws, & did what you thought the opposite–all the same. Only a mirror can show a true reverse; & another show it right way ’round. If you would do better than was done you, you should have looked in a mirror to start. I know others well, to know myself, & I know myself well, to know others. You taught me so much–can I not teach you to let me be a mirror, to show your childhood’s reverse? To be a mirror too, & reflect yourself right way ’round? But you must let pass the images of fathers, sons; of you, me, them... So you can know you, as only you may. As only I know me.

  Forgive me that I fail, father, to help you know your life. As I know the fire inside me cries out to fight for a better world. As I know I fear to leave you–I move to fight rejection, the insidious force tearing this world apart. Can I reject you & still be of sound heart? Forgive me that I cannot abide, forgive me that I cannot be still. I cannot reject you, but I cannot change or move you; NO MAN can another–that’s a lie of a twisted mirror. But the better son would not be one obedient or heeding. I cannot any more reject me, as the world does, as I have so long for you.

  But, forgive me, father, for you have sinned in the darkness, & I have blazed & by mine own light seen; if your will knows not your sins as I know mine in every reflection–I cannot carry your burdened soul with mine into the light. And until someone rights this wrong, until fathers turn from their fathers, look to their sons to lead them; men who would live True always will, & always must, flee from the lands of their fathers–sore alone.

–E.M.

To Love & be Loved like Lucy

Although I typify High-Functioning Autism in many ways, I also possess the unusual ability & marked tendency to interact extensively with other people, including strangers, in spite of my disability, & to rarely let my condition be obvious unless I choose to. For those of us who are autistic but also gifted with great intelligence or skill, it is often almost as if, early on, we pick a major in life the way other people may pick a major in college, a single area of interest to learn & engage with(, or a few, for the exceptionally talented); this specialization often persists throughout our lives, & it is very difficult for us to change focus( near-impossible to do so intentionally). The complementary advantage is that we typically achieve hard-to-match expertise in our chosen concentration–but no other, meaning that if our extensive competence is narrow in scope, we often are unable to get related degrees or find related work. This is seen in a particularly dramatic manner in savantism, a related condition; perhaps 10% of those with moderately or very severe autism are known as savants & display extreme abilities relating to memory & cognition, especially artistic or mathematical, despite heavy impairment otherwise.
  I was often terrified as a child by the prospect of interacting with strangers( meaning anyone but my parents or other daily acquaintances) & potentially making a mistake. In spite of that terror, or perhaps because of it, I have had a deep fascination with people, communication, & relationships for most of my life. While most with an ASD decide after a few failed interactions & relationships that people just don’t make sense & never will, consequently giving up on social behavior quite young, it has become my specialty. Given that most of living in society entails dealing with people( or with objects & ideas they have produced), anticipating & reacting to their intentions & actions, I think it was a good( if unconscious) choice; understanding them has provided me a basis for learning nearly anything else I might encounter in day-to-day suburban or urban existence–similar to Latin being a good choice for a first foreign language to study, as it aids in learning various other languages descended from it. My years of observation & analysis, along with 30–80 hours a week of processing, planning, & practice, enable me to roughly emulate neurotypical behavior, & to make observations about it from a unique perspective.

  My mother, a psychotherapist, has pointed out several times that while I often credit my interest in people to my parents( my father is an attorney, who witnesses & assists people in their relationships with businesses, governments, & society through legal procedures), & my learning about them to her specifically( in her profession, my mother witnesses & assists people in their relationships with themselves & each other through counseling); she also sees it as a result of me watching old situation comedies extensively as a child: I Love LucyDick Van DykeMary Tyler Moore & its various spin-offs. She credits Lucy in particular, & I have said that what makes Lucille Ball’s humor timelessly classic & widely-appreciated, if not universally, is that it rarely if ever relied on people tearing down others to build themselves up( successfully, at least; those who tried usually got their comeuppance). When celebrities were criticized, it was usually in good fun & they played themselves. Because the humor in some older shows like that is mostly about the central characters themselves, & not about politics or pop culture, nor how much better or worse overall they were than the viewer, famous folks, or anyone else, it doesn’t suffer too much from cultural shifts that have occurred between the era in which they were made & the present.

  Recently, I made a connection for the 1st time between that & my oft-repeated commentary regarding modern Hollywood & television over the past three decades: Eschewing valuable humanity in favor of glamour, a huge proportion of successful mainstream media( especially aimed at kids) from the ’80s, ’90s, & ’00s often teaches all sorts of terrible life lessons: about taking advantage, about vengeance, about the little guy screwing “the man” before “the man” screws him(/ again); & even(, insidiously,) worse, about discarding all the elements of one’s life that one is not happy with, pursuit of glory, attaining perfection, & resolving all one's problems neatly & permanently. Many Saturday morning cartoons from my childhood shared that message; others were about never-ending conflict & struggle–but nearly always against oppression or evil. All too rarely did fiction, especially media for children until late in that period, deal primarily with struggle against oneself, &/or resolutions that involve indefinitely continuing effort–let alone explicitly.
(  Significant improvements gathered steam from the late ’90s on & have intensified in the last decade, examples include TV’s The Big Bang Theory &( mostly) the movie Frozen.)

  In contrast, the older stuff that I also used to watch usually derived drama & comedy from several very clearly & openly flawed people dealing with each other’s outrageous misbehavior in a loving way. Much of the conflict & dramatic tension in each episode came down to the same basic issues that recurred time & again, because they were born of inconvenient personality traits that endured over time & through various circumstances( which provided slightly different window dressing to showcase them without becoming stale & tedious).
  In I Love Lucy, the stories revolve around the titular screwball & her loving husband Ricky Ricardo, who are played off each other & close friends Fred & Ethel Mertz. That’s 3 people with very strong personalities, & 1 who exemplified their shared trait of being relatable & rational( in varying degrees), but easily carried away by extreme ideas & actions from the others. The humor arose from letting their exaggerated characteristics bounce off each other, often in response to one or more particular flaws becoming exacerbated by circumstance. The plot would then follow along as good intentions & misunderstanding between such very different folks quickly devolved into absolute chaos.
  In the end, though, however much of a mess any one, pair, group, or the lot of them made, they would all usually be forced to apologize & come clean about everything they had done wrong, in misunderstanding or selfishness, & to recognize( often explicitly, now I think of it) that they all loved each other. Friendship & partnership were more important than anything else; no matter how angry they became or how much time/effort they had to expend mitigating the impact of each others’ fiascos. And then the whole thing would start again the next week.

  I suppose that displaying such extreme levels of patience & forgiveness on a regular basis might strike one as inhuman; even the lives of the actors who played those characters seem to bear that out. I’m not the first to recognize that, nowadays, the Ricardos & the Mertzes would probably all be labeled codependent & mutually enabling. Lots of people in today’s world fret that whenever folks rely on each other or make allowances in return, they are being codependent. Me, though... I like to say that the rarely-recognized element that distinguishes any unhealthy relationship, such as codependency( parasitic in both directions), from every truly healthy adult relationship, like its counterpart interdependence( reinforcing in both directions), is at once subtle, clear, & unimaginably profound: unflinchingly honest communication.
  Loving, penetrating, intense(, & occasionally painful) honesty, expressed openly about both self & others, allows those in interdependent relationships to correctly anticipate( & thus plan for) what they can reasonably expect from partners & friends, vs. what they must do for themselves or in compensation for others’ deficits, as well as what others are willing to do to compensate for theirs.
  In codependency, on the other hand, people who fail to interact with each other in an unguarded, constructive, discerning, & appropriately self-critical manner are constantly drained by attempting to live up to unanticipated or inappropriate expectations from others, & by having to to handle( at the last moment) various concerns that they incorrectly anticipated others taking on( or to cope with the fallout of such things that have gone unaddressed).
  Of course, although by no means easy or comfortable, abiding acceptance & self-honesty are prerequisite to maintaining real honesty between people...
  So, while some might say that, in real life, such a foursome as the characters in I Love Lucy would be fools to never insist that the others change their ways, or for never escaping from each other to break the cycle; I say they avoided the most devastating & foolish mistake of all: denial. For all their weaknesses(, & unlike, say, the Seinfeld protagonists), they never gave in( for long) to denial about their vanity, denial of their selfishness, of their flaws, of their fallibility or their mistakes–or denial of the essential truth that people who truly love each other should always do what it takes to stick together( except in cases of abuse, which is tragic).

  To know perfect love, the only true perfection humans can experience in this world, we must overcome fear of failure, of toil, & of pain, so as to freely recognize & accommodate grave imperfection in ourselves & others; because no matter how difficult standing by each other may sometimes be, those of us who love truly & deeply can never be separated from the ones we love without grievous & lasting trauma.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M

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Sorry...

Sorry for a bit of silence there, a conglomeration of personal issues has kept me preoccupied for some time... Not sure whether I am really back on track or not, but have a few new entries up for this month, & finally starting to clear up the log jam in my head that has held the others back( I did write several of them).

Mirror Day

WARNING: I am not a doctor or professional researcher of any kind. I have not undertaken recent or significant formal study in the fields of psychology, sociology, medicine, or philosophy. Despite my enviable observational skill & breadth of experience/knowledge, I am not an accredited expert or authority on any subject unless specified, & may potentially be even more prone to errors than they usually are.
Some terminology may be my own, either invented or used differently than by other sources. There is a glossary of terms for you to peruse( also includes notes on idiosyncratic punctuation).
All opinons are solely my own unless otherwise noted. All assertions regarding mental health, disorders, & behaviors should be taken only as opinions, or as my own personal experiences & fallible derived understanding. If you have a reason to believe I’m wrong, please e-mail me or post a comment.( NOT just over your own gut feeling or something a shrink/parent/teacher said; when it’s opinion vs. opinion, I’m obviously more likely to trust my own.) If you can provide a reliable, publicly-available free resource that contradicts my understanding as expressed in a given entry, & I can read & understand it, I will post a correction–so include how you want to be credited.

A defining aspect of autism & autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) is the social impairment stemming from poor theory of mind. This means that, on a fundamental level, humans with ASDs lack a neurotypical( NT) person’s core understanding of the conceptual boundary between ourselves and the rest of the world. I am not automatically able( although part of what makes me high-functioning is the ability to compensate) to differentiate which things I should think of as parts of “me” vs. “not me” objects & concepts that may or may not affect me, or even to fully grasp the concept of something being not part what affects me, let alone another person different from myself having thoughts & feelings completely unrelated to mine. I think this may be related to the common difficulty individuals on the spectrum have with spatial awareness, and especially proprioception( the awareness of our own bodies including relative position of our body parts); although even if that were so, I have no guess as to which is cause vs. which is effect.
  The difficulty typically increases when in the presence of others, this may stem from having to keep track of the separation between oneself and other similar yet entirely isolated dynamic constructs. If we consider Gray’s biopsychological theory of personality, we can see how, when tthe pressure becomes too great, the autistic individual may perceive the growing discomfort as a signal of imminent danger and trip the behavioral inhibitory system (BIS), which responds by prioritizing the appropriate reflexive or conditioned response for the threat in question and limiting other actions–thus leading to complete breakdown of the conscious or semiconscious coping mechanisms that someone with autism uses to simulate natural self-awareness & theory of mind aptitude.
  Theory of mind may also be viewed as a complementary way of looking at self-awareness, which is recognized using the mirror test; testing whether an animal recognizes that its reflection is an image of itself rather than another animal or part of the environment. Self-awareness is of vital importance in understanding the cause-effect relationships of past & present events, and forming expectations of what will happen in the future–especially with regard to how others will behave. The more severe the difficulty in separating oneself from the rest of the world conceptually, the more disabled a person is... usually.

  Autism is seen as a spectrum; my ASD was believed to be fairly mild, yet I stalled out in life disproportionately, particularly when considering that I am obviously quite gifted. For a lot of my life, especially adult life, I just couldn’t seem to get tasks done when left on my own, & I would have no idea where the time went. Everyone would assume I was goofing off, reading, watching TV, playing games, the many ways in which I do like to procrastinate; but I would typically have no memory of any such thing, which was troubling to me and to the few people who actually believed me.
  A couple years ago, I made a joke that I may look almost normal and just slightly off, but I’m actually a total nutjob coping really well. I started gradually exploring this idea with more seriousness, noting that it was a frequently a better fit for the way things played out, especially where our notion of me doing the same self-care as others came in, despite my desperate with to stop depending on others. About 6 months after first saying that, I was home alone, and I caught myself–in a mirror, ironically–practicing multiple versions of a conversation I wouldn’t need to have for quite some time, if ever.
  “Why?” I asked myself, thinking about it the rehearsing consciously for the first time in maybe 15 years.
  “Because this is how I get ready.”
  “Ready for?”
  “For whatever might happen.”
I became slighty dizzy in the rush that followed.
  “Normal people don’t do that.”
  “Did you ever ask?”
  “No, but... characters on TV only do it for high-stakes conversations, & in real life I never see anyone do it.”
  “So they do it alone.
  “But for everything?”
  “...”
  “Have I done this before?”
  “Duh.”
  “O.K., right, I sit on the couch, or I pace, or I do it in the shower...”
  “Lying in bed, starting at the ceiling, sitting at a desk, walking or biking places...”
  “When was that?”
  “All those times...”.
This, of course, was the larger part of what I had been doing in the time gaps, for decades, at least. Unless I am actively concentrating on something else(, which tends to become impossible when I haven’t done sufficient planning to feel ready for upcoming situation), I do it to some degree in just about every moment when I am alone, & sometimes when I am not. It’s why even small changes can knock me for a loop, & why I may home in on certain details in a conversation that others don’t consider important: I’m constantly working to see everything in relationship to everything else. People constantly criticize this, telling me that I can’t do that, I’m overthinking, that it just leads to bad assumptions–well that is easy to say when the meaning of others’ communication & appropriate reactions are there for them like magic. Not so for me.

  It took a couple weeks for it to really sink in, but for over 2 years now, I have been able to rapidly change & expand the ways I think about & interact with the world in response to new information. More than ever now, I can quickly assess a problem or situation that doesn’t involve me with accuracy over 85%,( based on confirmation from those who know, & success rates the admittedly-limited times my suggestions are actually accepted & engaged accuracy), even scenarios in context I am learning for the first time); & events that do involve me with over 55%( which is not bad, given we all suffer from bias in subjective situations). I would be nowhere near that if I had not seen myself in the right mirror in the right place at the right time

  Rehearsal of various possibilities, a technique known as situational planning, is in fact sometimes taught to relatively high-functioning ASD patients, & seems to be the only technique able to directly impact the ability to cope with social situations( I suppose because as long as there is a plan for what’s happening, the person won’t feel threatened & the BID won’t cause a meltdown); however, it cannot be taught at my level.
  Neurotypical people are entirely unaware of most of the things going on around them, even a large number of the things they do themselves. The most common thing I say to people on the spectrum when ‘translating’ is “Oh, I get it; you’re reacting to [some typical enty behavior; e.g., all the lying]–NTs aren’t aware of that unless you point it out.”. It took about 20 minutes to convince one guy his boyfriend & I were not playing a practical joke.

  But, hey, that’s part of why I do this; to give everyone  a chance to recognize themselves in the right mirror.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

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The Gardener of My Soul

  I’m adopted. I’ve known this all my life. I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, to a woman about whom I know nothing except her name( Gloria, according to my U.S. Certificate of Foreign Birth) and a very basic version of her story–and I have no way to be certain those are even real. “She wanted you to have a better life.” is what my parents always told me.

  I have abandonment issues, but, I’ve never felt any sort of thread connecting that to my adoption, and I don’t remember having any such fear as a young child. It has more to do with traumatic events heightened by my hypersensitivity, and people who became important to me and then exited my life abruptly without giving a me a chance to get closure. I spent a long time haunted by shame & confusion thinking I had gotten something terribly wrong; because I didn’t know what and thus could not fix it, I also feared it might happen again at any time.

  My mom seems to think about the “trauma” of my adoption a lot more than I do. In family therapy, I think I’ve figured out why. From the moment when I was 16 and we finally got a proper diagnosis from a team of experts, she started to apologize for all the things she “should have” & “shouldn’t have” done in raising a child on the spectrum. She was always taking me places. Sometimes I had to submit to structure, sometimes I was required to break routines. I was encouraged to keep trying when things were hard, to have fun in unfamiliar places & ways, to make friends even when people were difficult, and to find new ways of looking at situations I didn’t understand. I wasn’t isolated from the general populace in “special” classes.
  But I don’t think any of the stuff she did like a normal mother would have bothered her as much then if she hadn’t gotten so much flack over the years for stuff she _didn’t_ do normally. My mother never made me eat anything she cooked. Her rule was that everyone in the house came to dinner and sat for the duration of the meal. Anyone not hungry or uninterested in what she had made was welcome to fix him/herself something else. Other mothers were apparently aghast at the notion that she didn’t just serve what was made & make me clean my plate.
  Further, while I was required to have dinner with the family, I was allowed to bring books to restaurants, & well-meaning friends would chide her for not forcing me to sit there bored when conversation turned to sports, adult matters, or other subjects in which I lacked any interest or the ability to give input.
  When I was in 3rd grade, I outgrew the largest Velcro shoes available at the time. I HATED tying & untying knots with my clumsy fingers( motor control issues are fairly common for ASDs), and I always preferred to wiggle my toes; so I elected to wear sandals from then on–even in winter( as I still do). Unbeknownst to me, a battle raged within the administration regarding an appropriate response; to some of the faculty it was very clear that I needed saving from myself. Ultimately, my supporters won when my mother( probably flashing back to painful childhood memories of having writing implements ripped from her left hand & forced into her right) told the front office something amounting to: “With a kid like this, I pick my battles. I’ll make him take his sneakers for gym. Other than that, if his feet are cold, he’ll complain. If he loses a toe, he’ll learn to live without it, plenty of people do, and then we can talk about shoes.”.

  It was evidently a regular part of her life that I had no awareness of, she shielded me from the needless criticism as much as possible and bore the brunt of it herself for letting me be strange.
  So I just can’t help wondering if, as she would hold in the anger of “How dare you tell me how to raise my child?” and instead respond with a thank you for good intentions or a calm but resolute insistence on her(/my) way; maybe a tiny voice in her head chimed in with a Latina accent and chided her “Your child?”.
  Maybe not. My mother is a strong, smart woman. Maybe she’s always known just as well as I have that I’m her son; while of course the existence of Gloria matters to me, there’s nothing in me that ever wanted another mother, no more than any kid who isn’t mistreated.
 Still, it can’t have been easy to hear over & over, especially from folks she liked & trusted, those who had years of experience raising & teaching children, that she was wrong and I should be made to bend to their expectations. Then to look at me, strange, almost alien at times; to know I was in her heart but not from her womb, that she was not like most other mothers... She must have wondered many times what she could have done differently, and perhaps what else she might have gleaned had we ties of blood.

  It takes a village to raise a child, they say. But sometimes it looks more to me like that one constant presence, that patient gardener who takes the tiny seed, fragile yet brimming with potential, pots it tenderly in the soil of security, positions it carefully in the light of love. The kind of person who talks to the sprout & laughs & sings, knowing that helps it grow best even if it sits there in silence. Who, once the maturing plant is out of the warm greenhouse, exposed to the elements, will stay all night in the cold with blankets & flames to ward off a surprise frost. Fertilized with knowledge & ideals, pruned & tended, the plant grows tall & beautiful.
  Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. A developmental disorder means growth in at least one area is stunted or retarded; pervasive means it affects multiple basic functions, impacting one’s entire life. A slow & tricky breed, we require constant care long after all the plants in others’ gardens have grown hardy, flowered, and borne fruit. Some of us stop growing before reaching maturity, the rest are agonizingly slow.
  Moreso even than other children, if we are neglected we may wilt & wither or grow hard & thorny; if we are sheltered and take root hidden away from the elements, we remain fragile, unable to weather any exposure. We grow wild, in unanticipated directions; if pruned back we may recoil & never produce a single bud.
  Other gardeners look over & offer “helpful” advice, not understanding that if treated like every other child, many of us will never flower or fruit at all. But a rare few of us, under the patient & loving care of an even rarer breed of gardener, may some day effloresce with unique blossoms of which this world has never seen the like.

  My mother took me places. She held my hand. She taught me how to find my way around the world, and gradually, much more gradually than for an ordinary person, the mess of bright colors & loud noises resolved itself into a structured network of objects & places that I could navigate.
  She read me stories; complex stories, challenging. She told me her own, when we were far from books & I had to endure long & challenging undertakings in strange & harsh environments. She gifted me the ability to turn an unavoidable ordeal into an adventure; & instilled a great love for adventures & the stories we could tell reminiscing about them after.
  She bought me most all the books I wanted, as long as I actually read them; she took me to see plays. She knew that at the movies I sometimes had to stand at or outside the door as the volume & the emotions were both tremendously intense. She let me leave the TV on during tasks & the radio on at night, to keep my overactive brain from tripping me up at every little distraction.

  She sensed innately that the world was not the same for me, & helped me to not only survive, but conquer much of it in a way most kids like me never managed. And hot tears are now running down my face as I think of how, for this, she was sometimes she was made to feel like a terrible person by well-meaning friends & strangers; and how she let herself feel like a terrible mother. No wonder it took us 2 years of therapy before she could stop apologizing for not getting everything right.

  Thank you, mother, for being the gardener of my soul. No greener thumb for me than yours; our bond goes much deeper than blood roots. The other moms never knew what they were missing; now I want you to see me in full bloom.

Happy Mother’s Day.

–E.M

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Casting Stones

I’m hardly without sin, but, screw it.

  Recently, I was sitting eating lunch in a mall food court. A pretty young latina in her 20s, maybe, was at the next table, making extremely opinionated comments about various acquaintances rather loudly to a middle-aged black lady, all in front of her even-prettier young daughter( perhaps 5 years old).
  Growing more & more disgusted by what she was saying, I decided, as she was getting up to leave, to speak my mind. “For the 15 minutes that I have been sitting here,” I said, “you have been talking shit about people. You really seem like a very small-minded & judgmental woman.”. I enjoyed the look of confusion that flitted across her face, but she recovered quickly.
  “You don’t know me.” she informed me, as though I had been unaware of this fact, “You don’t know my life. I’m not talking shit; what I am doing here is supporting people. So you really need to get to know me before jumping into my conversations.”.
  Wishing I had a dictionary so that I could double-check the meaning of the verb ‘support’, I smiled broadly, told her she was right so I would love to get to know her, & asked if she would like my e-mail address. I truly enjoy meeting new people, after all, & I was feeling perhaps a little hypocritical after calling a stranger judgmental. While she took a moment to attempt to process what had just happened, I also assured her that I was gay & not hitting on her. Without another word, she turned to see if her daughter was ready to go.
  As they walked away, her friend hung back a moment, & after checking to be sure the young “lady” was out of earshot, smiled & told me “You know, you really was right about what you said.”, then laughed softly & perhaps a little sadly before departing.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

P.S.: That pretty much made my day. X·D

[To comment, for now at least, click over to this post on the main D.R.T.Y. blog. Sorry about that!]

Does this make me look autistic?

Let’s talk about honesty.

  If you ask me “Do I look fat in this?”, I’m probably going to give you one of 3 answers. None of those is my mother’s take on the (socially-)correct response, “Honey, you look fantastic!” if the outfit is remotely acceptable & one thinks the asker likes it, & a noncommital shrug & subject change otherwise. All of my answers assume you actually meant to ask “Do you think that while wearing this outfit I look unpleasantly fat to a greater degree than I look naked or wearing other clothes you’ve seen me in?”.

  If it makes you look bloated & disgusting, I’ll say “Yeah, don’t wear that.”... If you then lament that you don’t have a better alternative I’m going to want to know you why you bothered asking, since you would wear it either way. If you don’t have a logical answer, I may mock or criticize you for asking pointless questions. Note, however, that I don’t ask because I’m looking for a reason to criticize you. I ask because I am curious as to whether there is a good reason I haven’t thought of, so that I won’t overlook it again in the future.

  If you look fatter than you actually are, but not unattractive in it, I’ll probably say “Yeah, but it doesn’t look bad, sowhy does it matter?”.( Perhaps you are planning an attempt to impress someone who is prejudiced against fat people, but then you’d better believe I’ll hound you about why you would give that person an iota of your consideration.)

  If it does not make you look any fatter than you are, I’d be mostly likely to point out “No, but you obviously think it might, since you asked me. If you’re going to keep worrying about that, you shouldn’t wear it.”–you should mind that depending on how distracted or bored/annoyed I am, I might not bother telling you anything else about how you look in it, even if the resulting aesthetic is notably stunning or hideous; if you wear it anyway & it’s a fiasco, I’ll be amused.

  There are special cases, of course.
  If you actually are fat regardless of what you wear, then depending on mood & how close we are, “Yeah, don’t wear that.” might be followed up with “& join a gym.”, an acceptable but fattening outfit might garner “You always look fat anyway, at least you look good in that.”, & an outfit that has no effect on my perception of your weight/girth could provoke “No fatter than usual.”. If you get offended, I’m 100% absolutely NOT going to apologize; I’m going to tell you not to ask me questions, ever, if you might not want my honest opinion.
  If you’re skinny, expect “Where did you get a fatsuit?”, or “Yeah, weird, do you have a pillow under there? Well I like it, you usually look like a twig.” for outfits in which you appear still thin or heavier but average.( If you look genuinely fat, I will probably stammer, furrow my brow, & walk circles around you trying to determine if it’s a trick done with mirrors or what.)

  So, what have we learned? Perhaps you learned to thing twice about asking me things you don’t want to know? Me, I’ve learned that the difference between what neurotypical people call “honesty” & the practice of actually telling the truth is just flabbergasting sometimes. Not that I don’t understand the concept of tact, but I truly DON’T understand the absurd practice of asking questions to which one knows the answer, unless one is looking for confirmation( in which case one should generally phrase it that way, e.g “This makes me look fat, right?”, & anticipate that I will agree unless you’re wrong).

  Yes, I also understand reassurance, but what good is reassurance that eschews the truth for a pleasant lie? If you look fat, why would you want me to lie or avoid anwsering? If I say you look fat but still look fine or even great, why isn’t that good enough? While I absolutely support any effort to improve your health & well-being, you should stop obsessing over rigid standards of beauty that aren’t even realistic for everyone, & learn to love the skin you’re in. I could go off on a huge tangent here, but that will have to wait for another entry.

  For now I’ll just say what’s tried, trite–& true: you’ll be happier when you learn to accept yourself, flaws & all, & work with your quirks instead of against them.( If you don’t know how, I’d be happy to offer some pointers.) The same is true of reality: it’s only when we recognize the truth, no matter how much we want to turn away, that we gain the power to confront it head on & change things.

  So the next time someone asks “How are you?” on a bad day, think twice before saying “Fine.”. Try admitting “Miserable, but hoping I can improve things soon. Thank you for asking. How are you?”. Dealing with people on a more sincere basis, even at such a basic level, can do wonders for your outlook.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

[To comment, for now at least, click over to this post on the main D.R.T.Y. blog. Sorry about that!]

A Fine Romance

What is love?

  Baby, don’t hurt me; don’t hurt me no more.( Sorry, couldn’t resist. ;-p)
  Getting serious, though, let me start out by saying that relationships are completely irrelevant to my definition of love. One person may love another without having a relationship at all, & people can have a relationship without really loving.
  I particularly tend to avoid the term “in love” but for a few specific circumstances, because what people really mean by it is that they’re romantically infatuated. Literally–do you know the old definition of romance?

  A romance is a story( i.e., a fiction; or, by some overly-strict standards, a lie) in which an idealized version of something is related. At one point, it referred to tales of adventure featuring fantastic situations & idealized heroes who overcame the seemingly-insurmountable odds to win the day. Eventually, this gave way to “romances of love”; tales in which, rather than the heroic figure, it was an idealized passion( sometimes still involving a similar figure, now the “knight in shining armor” or “prince charming” archetypes) that would “conquer all”; either uniting lovers when the world endeavored to keep them apart, or otherwise allowing them to accomplish, together( or “for” one another), feats that had been thought impossible by those who had previously tried & failed( either alone or bolstered by a passion that was somehow less than the “true love” of the heroes).
  So now, with this idealized “love” firmly implanted in our cultural awareness, is it any wonder that people who fall “in love” & have a “fairytale romance” are disillusioned when reality sets in? They really shouldn’t be so surprised.

 Sometimes, to say one is “in love” can be justified, when there’s more to it than just the romance; but “True Love” as we now see it in fiction, then, would be the rare-in-real-life case in which two( or more?) people not only develop a mutual romantic infatuation, and real love, but also manage to maintain that romantic interest, preferably expressed as a domestic/sexual partnership, perhaps a marriage, for the rest of their natural lives( or at least until robbed of parts of their personalities by brain damage/dysfunction) & beyond. “True Love” is a misnomer for this sequence of events; “Happily Ever After” is a better label.
  (One popular culture phenomenon which completely subverts this misunderstanding of love is the excellent Disney animated film Frozen. If you haven’t seen it because you have some preconceived notion about Disney or musicals or Idina Menzel or animation or whatever, you are doing yourself a great disservice. It gives the impression of being overhyped, but this is actually due to it being so excellent that it naturally makes people enthusiastic. It is one of the best films I have ever seen, because it conveys a lot of hard-but-necessary truths about relationships in an easy-to-swallow manner that even kids can understand, running counter to the usual crap with which Hollywood fills our heads.)
  I definitely believe in Happily Ever After as a phenomenon, I know couples who have been that to each other... but I think that a lot of people pursue H.A.E. so single-mindedly that they miss out on opportunities to both discover other real loves, & to attain fulfillment through a variety of more temporary domestic/sexual partnerships.
  Love, even real & mutual love, provides no guarantee that people are suited to live H.A.E.; it’s not even a guarantee that they won’t hurt each other badly.( We’ll deal with abusive relationships in a future entry. For now, I’ll just say that the love can be real, but that doesn’t justify staying together when dysfunction in expressing it becomes dangerous.)

  So then, what is love? Here’s my definition:
  “I usually define love, at least as far as love for another person goes, as an intense certainty, beyond reason, & beyond any other emotion; that for at least a single critical instant one’s life was better, or the universe as a whole was greater, or something was just *right* that would have otherwise been wrong; simply because that person, just as s/he was, with all his/her strengths & weaknesses, all his/her flaws & paradoxical perfection, existed & was right there in that moment, to make all the difference; either by luck when no one & nothing else available would have sufficed, or because the person in question had another choice yet chose to be there instead–especially if others who could have been chose not to.
  Love for another, then, is nothing more or less than the unqualified belief that if one had never crossed paths with that person, one’s world would be poorer for it.”
  I’ll have more to say in a future post.

With love,

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

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Shining the Aut Light

Hi there. :-)

  You probably don’t know me yet–maybe even if you think you do. That’s about to change.

  A good place to start is my AutLife Manifesto. After all, that’s what touched all this off–the day when, upset & reeling at a harsh exchange with my beloved the night before, I finally tried, on my Facebook timeline, to make it clear to people EXACTLY what I go through on a daily, &, indeed, moment-to-moment basis.

  The positive response overwhelmed me, & though I had toyed with the idea before, I knew then that I had to write, really write, about my life, my experiences & my worldview–not just for my own benefit, but for every misunderstood soul with this diffability that prevents most from effectively communicating what it’s like. I also wanted to write for the sake of those with other abnormalities–i.e., everyone. ;-) That might sound a little self-important. I do possess a high level of justified self-confidence, surpassed only by my humility. Sadly, I lack any sense of humor or irony whatsoever. ;-p

  Seriously, though, what makes me think my story is worth telling? Where would I get the daft idea that a man like me, someone born broken or at the very least destined to be, can make a difference? Well, I’ve helped a lot of people, or so they tell me. I’ve brought my share of smiles into the world. I’ve been credited with improving lives, with changing them for the better; & once or twice, it’s even been said that I saved them. Truth is, though–I don’t know if this can matter. I only know I have to try. I must attempt to repay the kindness that has been shown to me by a world I struggle to be a part of.

  It’s been a good while now since my realization–sometimes it’s hard for me to get started even when I have a good idea. This week, however, it’s clear this idea’s time has come, even though the site here is still in rough shape.( I promise it’ll improve as I go along.) So here goes, time to share perspective on what it means being human, from someone who had to learn to be human the hard way.

  I’m finally ready to make my world better, & if I do my job right, maybe your world will follow. If we work together, who knows? Maybe the world will follow. Hope springs eternal for those who have faith in tomorrow, in themselves, & in their loved ones. I have faith in all of you.

  Let’s get started, then. Full-spectrum illumination for ASD & NT alike awaits, so click on through to the AutLife Manifesto.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

[To comment, for now at least, click over to this post on the main D.R.T.Y. blog. Sorry about that!]

AutLife Manifesto

2013, August 13th:

  “I’m autistic. In other words, mentally disabled. Pretty severely.[ It’s not just “mild Asperger’s Syndrome”, as we thought for so long.] I cope( cover for it) well. Very well. So well that most of you who have met me don’t think of me as disabled, & those who do think it’s great how well I have dealt with it – & then forget that I am ALWAYS still dealing with it.

  “I have spent over two-thirds of my life observing & analyzing people & learning to interpret their actions with millions of rules, each of which has between dozens & thousands of exceptions & special cases. I have memorized these billions of possibilities & interpretations, because as an autistic person that is my ONLY means to comprehend things that, for a neurotypical individual, are instinctively obvious; & I spend hours & hours every day imagining dozens or hundreds of possible scenarios & how those algorithms might apply, as well as organizing myriad facts in my head that will affect the outcomes.
  “Still, it’s far from perfect, I get predictions wrong or encounter surprises that slow me down hundreds of times a day. People often accuse me of overthinking, well, YOU would be overthinking if you thought about your interactions with others this much instead of just using your instincts; for ME that same level of thought is the only way, what with lacking those instincts, to avoid missing or misunderstanding literally( & I MEAN literally) everything anyone says & does.

  “& I know that I can be difficult to understand or react to when lost in thought, & I can cause stress to others when I am emotional, sometimes seemingly at random from their perspective; but I wonder if anyone ever appreciates that EVERY interaction I have with anyone, EVER, even the pleasant ones, is potentially just as taxing for me as I am at my most difficult for them. When I am close to people, know them well, it gets much easier, yes; but it is NEVER effortless. It is NEVER simple. It is NEVER, EVER not difficult & draining; at _best_, it is like working hard at a tough job you really love; it is worth doing, eventually some little things are second nature, & either the job or the results are fulfilling for you, but you still end up exhausted when you do it for hours on end. Often, though, it is harder, MUCH harder, even uncomfortably hard... just like listening to me have a breakdown or get frustrated & pissed is uncomfortable for the other people in my life.

  “I don’t generally whine about it because that really doesn’t help, & I don’t want to be seen that way. Everybody talks about the weather... So I fucking did something about it. I learned. I spent around EIGHTEEN YEARS learning to do this, to even _speak_ to you. To look you in the eye. To have the *slightest* inkling of what you might mean when it’s not identical to what you say. To interact with the world in a way that not only makes sense to me, but also does not stress other people by appearing excessively strange( I know I will always be somewhat strange, so I strive to just not be unduly stress-causing with it). 18 years is a good deal longer than it takes many people to get a doctoral degree, & I had NO mentors, NO role models, no one who even understood what I wanted/needed to learn, including me sometimes( nothing is more important to know than what it is you don’t know).
 “It took( & still takes, not done learning or implementing), *fuck modesty*, a brilliant mind, a lot of fucking talent, a will of adamant, & enough love to see Hercules through 12,000 labors. & out of that love I try to do the best I can, for everyone, all the time, & see the best in most of the worst folks; because really, we’re amazing, human beings: 3 pounds of little grey cells & a couple hundred pounds of other, & all this stuff I work so hard on is just, *automatic*, for the ones who aren’t broken like this; & in addition to that, somewhere in most of us humans with our 3 lb. brains is the capacity to take other unfamiliar things & just do what I did, put in the effort & *make* something, a system or a tool, to handle just about everything else; not only to survive or feel good, but even to try to make the whole world better, in accordance with our own ideals of what that means.
 “How can you not admire, & so come to respect, & so, inevitably, come to truly love anything so wondrously unique & unlikely, & so brimming with power & potential, as a human being? Every single person embodies all that, & I can’t not know & see & feel that, even when I find them difficult.

  “So I’m sorry if it comes across as selfish & weird & maybe arrogant when I’m a little frantic to understand or plan or deal with things; when I’m impatient; when I don’t make perfect sense, when I ask or tell you to do something without a good explanation beforehand. But, sometimes, when someone close to me is shutting down on me because I am wound up or confused, & I am asking dozens of questions s/he doesn’t think matter, or upset about something s/he doesn’t understand & won’t/can’t listen to me explain; I wonder why, if I suck it up constantly & deal with all of you( who all make just as little sense to me in my true mind) someone who likes or even loves me can’t suck it up & deal with the more uncomfortable side of me once in a while?
  “& maybe a part of me is afraid, in my insecurity, that no matter how good at playing normal-ish I get, I’ll never be good enough for anyone but my parents to love me that much.”

 

Thanks for reading.

–D.R.T.Y.boi E.M.

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