It is hard to get anywhere in Show business. This is just a fact of life for most artists. It can help, however, when you have great mentors who really want to see you succeed. That put you on shows when they don’t really need you and would be quite comfortable filling the time themselves but want you to have the stage time and the chance to make contacts. People who are taking money out of their own pockets so that you can feel like you are achieving something.

My mentor did this recently for me in several different ways. For one thing, he could have easily filled the whole hour, he has done much longer shows, by himself and kept the 700. In addition, since I was on a tight timeline and did not want to have to deal with parking downtown so I was catching cabs to the show at Regent casino and then from the show to my workplace downtown. When I told him that I needed to go downstairs to order a cab so I could get out of there quickly, he decided to do something extremely nice. He transferred me an extra $50 dollars of his own money that he was making so that I would walk away with some money in my pockets.

Not only was he generous with stage time and money, however, he was also extremely generous with his time and spirit. For a large part, I did not feel good about my set coming off the stage. I thought that many of my best jokes had simply failed to connect. I thought the people at the show were simply not interested in hearing my jokes about having Autism. Fair enough, I have felt like I have sometimes been passed over for a comedian whose jokes are more relatable, after all the more relatable the more the audience will find the jokes funny. So, coming off the stage, the comedian could have wiped his hands of me. Been like, I gave him a fair chance, he failed to make it count, so I will move onto other worthy comedians, which, the local comedy scene is chalkful of. It would be hard to go to a local comedy show and randomly pick a comedian out of the line-up who wouldn’t be worthy of the opportunity. Yet, instead, what he did was give me a hug and tell me to call him after I finished work so that he could discuss with me how it went.

During the phone call he told me I sometimes talked to fast and slurred my words so that was the reason why many of my jokes failed to land. He also reassured me that the audience liked me, and that he would be willing to work with me in the future (the near future I hope). This was extremely reassuring and was an extremely generous act. After all, he could speak that any opening act who has been doing comedy as I have would at least know how to pace themselves on stage and speak so that they are clearly heard. That seems like one of those most basic rudimentary things you would expect from any beginner. That they would learn how to speak clearly and learn how to write a joke no matter how basic or unfunny that joke is.  Yet, his continued believe in me is enormous.

 

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Short story.

Posted: January 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

In a parallel universe everyone is expected to pair up by the age of twenty-five. Anyone who is not part of a pairing is Single. Forced to live on the outskirt of society and is considered a pariah.

Josh was worried that he would be able to make curfew. He had gone to visit his parents earlier in the day and had trouble getting home afterwards. His parents had taken the risk to make sure that he had got to his bus stop. There had been several times where he had to hide during the journey because neighbors had almost caught them. It would have brought tremendous shame to the whole family if someone had recognized them. Being a parent of a Single was almost as shameful as being a Single yourself. Josh’s parents so far had been spared the shame, because, they had two other children who had found mates. Nevertheless, neither Josh nor his parents wanted to be spotted together, as it was one thing to be aware of something in a vague sort of way, and a completely different matter altogether to flaunt it. His mother was in several reading clubs and her life was highly tied in with the life of her community. It was the best survival method after all, if you weren’t people might start questioning your character and the authorities might have been brought in.

Other than the delays that came while walking to the bus stop, the bus never came. It was a highly precarious old thing, because, there was one rusty old bus that the city had spared for the Singles. This old machine was on its last legs. That’s why the city council had allowed it to be used for travel around the city for the Singles. The city council in their infinite wisdom acknowledged that Singles were not born into families of Singles. That they were the unfortunate product of a pairing, therefore, they decided that there had to be at least one mode of transportation for Singles to get around the city. Yet, if Singles were caught out after curfew, they were free game for anyone to act out their violent urges on. There would be absolutely no consequences for torturing a Single caught out after dark.

Josh had a few hours to go, before, it would be past curfew and with the bus out of commission it looked like he would have absolutely no choice but to walk it.

The Singles Zone was on the other side of the city so he would have to pass right through the downtown area. Anything but the most direct route would take him too long before he reached safety. There were even dangers during the day. Some people, despite it being against the law, would not hesitate to bully a Single even during daylight. The laws were pretty lax when it came to prosecuting in these cases. It was enough to deter most people except for the most depraved individuals. Josh observed that there were many reasons why people got pleasure out of torturing Singles. While, for the most part people were well mannered there were still homes where domestic abuse occurred. This created a terrible cycle. There were also people who felt like they were looked down upon by others who had more wealth, education, intelligence, more in terms of physical appearance. There was a lot of stigma in being poor and poorly educated. These people were looked down upon by most of society and as societal hierarchy goes were the very bottom other than the Singles, however. Josh had grown up in this area and many of his old classmates still lived in the community. That was a scary thought, as it was seen as almost stigmatic to have any kind of connection even if it was a past relationship with a Single as a result, these people could often be extra aggressive and the first to strike out, in order to prove themselves, when coming across an old classmate or teammate.

Josh still remembered the old doctrination taught in schools warning children that if they come across a Single that they were dangerous and that the child should immediately go get an adult. What people often found most disgusting about Singles and what made them extra hostile towards them, is that in many ways Singles were just like them. They expressed the same interests, rooted for the same teams and in almost every single way were indistinguishable from everyone else. Josh remembered when he had first started thinking he might be a Single because everyone all around him were in or getting into relationships. His parents had convinced him that there was nothing wrong with him and that it was just a matter of time till he found the right person. He wondered if they at the time had started to worry that he might be a Single unlike his older siblings and if they ever started to lose sleep over it. In addition, not all Singles were treated the same.

If you had been in a horrible accident and were a burn victim society still expected you to be in the Single Zone, but, people generally treated you with sympathy. Ditto if you were born without limbs or were just extremely ugly. Not to say that all of these people were Single. There was just an understanding if you were. Only the most depraved individuals in society would torture these Singles. It was slightly different with Josh as there were no outward signs for why he should be single. He was even considered quite attractive. He had received many compliments from women about his looks when he was younger, which if those women who had thought back on these incidents would probably vomit now. He had been relatively well liked and was a pretty good athlete. People had invited him to their parties. Therefore, people were extremely scared and hostile towards him when they saw him now. It would have been much more acceptable if he had been gay as there was no stigma around being homosexual. Heck most people probably wished that he had been. That would have been understood. Then he would still be part of society. Some of his classmates if they were being generous might have even thought that society would have been better off if he had. After all, he was a generally pretty smart resourceful guy and could have been a valuable contributing member of society. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. He was a Single.

Some of his former classmates had even been extremely generous to him. He remembered one time he had got caught visiting his parents to late and had not been able to make it back to the zone. When he was scurrying down the street scared out of his wits that a mob might set on him at any moment. His old junior high biology partner saw him from outside of her hairdressing salon. She had covered him with blankets so that he wouldn’t be caught. Another time an old hockey coach had scared away some hoodlums who were about to give him a terrible beating. These individuals hadn’t wanted anything bad to happen to him. They just didn’t want him to be part of society and around their children. Not all of his old associates had been so generous, however. He still bore the scar on his hip where he had been attacked by a former best friend. Josh and this best friend went back a long way and had played sports together, watched movies together, even cut class together. It was when he was younger and newly Single and had thought that he thought that other people than just his parents would be happy to see him. After all, he was still the same person that he had been before he was 25 and a Single. The only difference in his mind was that he was no longer single but was now a Single and had to live in a different area. His first place in the Singles zone really hadn’t been all that different than his first place that he moved out into when he was 22.

Granted he was no longer wanted at his old job, but, he thought that was fine because it meant that he had more time to work on his stand-up comedy which was a hobby that he had just got into the year he had turned 25. He hadn’t put two-and-two together that he would no longer be allowed to perform or even allowed into bars. Yes, there was bars in the Singles Zone and a really thriving arts scene, but, it was hard getting enough people together to constitute an audience.

Occasionally there were new Singles, but, these people rarely left their dwellings. Most people who had been in a relationship and it ended were given a rather generous amount of time to find a new partner, sometimes up to two years, before they were Single. Therefore, most people were able to find someone else. Only the truly most heartbroken were unable to move on. Lo and behold the odd couple started among the Singles who were desperate for some kind of connection, but, irony of ironies once you were Single you were permanently Single regardless of whether or not you were actually in a relationship.

Josh knew he had a dangerous road ahead and he didn’t know if he was going to make it, but, at this point he wasn’t even sure it mattered.

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Someone asked me the question about whether I was offended that autistic characters on television such as the protagonist in the Good Doctor or Atypical weren’t being played by autistic actors. The truth, however, is that, I don’t know how many autistic actors there are in Hollywood. It is one thing to be offended that no autistic actors were offered the part, but, it is another thing when no autistic actors apply. Many people who are high functioning don’t disclose about their disability to the general public, and I imagine this is particularly true for autistic actors who don’t want to be pigeonholed into characters with Autism. After all, the market for this role in movies and television is extremely limited, and an actor who did that would mostly be out of work.

It is much easier being an autistic writer than it is being an autistic actor after all, acting calls upon those social qualities that people with Autism generally do differently. For instance, it is harder for us to read and show emotions which is the bread and butter of an actor. In addition, reading body language is a major tool in the actors playbook. This is not to say that this is all people on the autism spectrum and that there aren’t autistic actors out there, they are just the diamonds in the rough.

After all the spectrum is incredibly diverse and that for some people being on the autism means sometimes struggling with some challenges more or less than other individuals. Take Clay Marzo for example. Clay is a professional surfer in California and he is also on the Autism spectrum. This is especially unusual for someone on the autism spectrum to have good enough hand-eye-coordination to be a professional athlete. Yet, he still struggles with some of the more usual qualities that other people on the autism spectrum do, like he has a really hard time making eye-contact with the media people trying to interview him.

Therefore, I would be much more offended if autistic writers were not hired for a show like the Good Doctor to make sure that the representation of a person on the autism spectrum was accurate. In addition, I would hope that they would at least consult with a couple of autistic people if they didn’t at least hire them to be on the writing staff. After all, individuals on the autism spectrum are all unique, therefore, my experiences may not reflect another person’s. Though, there definitely would be enough similarities and patterns that it would be clear to us whether a character was created that was not written by someone on the spectrum.

After all the skills and prerequisite to be a writer are something that people on the autism spectrum have in spades. Willing to spend long amounts of time by themselves putting words on a page. (Check). Having something unique to say and wanting to get their ideas out there. (Check.) A childhood where we protected ourselves by burying ourselves in fiction, whether it was books or movies. (Check.)

Do these shows pass the test, I don’t know I am going to suspend my verdict, until I have seen more of them.

The golden age

Posted: February 21, 2017 in aspergers, Uncategorized

So my friend, Moshe, and I went for a walk recently. He asked, slash pointed out. Adam you write a lot about our past and your current situation. Why don’t you do something different and write about the future. What will having Aspergers or Autism look like in twenty years?

The Future? What is that going to look like? It gets scarier all the time. Before, it was just a concern about hoarding goods and Al Qaeda striking us. You know when the coasts become over flooded and the terrorists try to take over the rest of the world. Now, there is a completely new threat I didn’t see coming in Donald Trump. What is that going to look like, an Atomic wasteland?  In that kind of environment, it will be a battle for survival, people won’t be as concerned about the rights about disabled people. Black lives matter? Only if it improves your chances of survival. You’re in a wheelchair. You can’t read body language and tell when the person across from you is going to decide to stab you with a knife. Sucks to be you!

Right now, during my lifetime we live in a golden age where people care about the plight of those who are different than themselves. The bullying that happens now? A spit in the bucket compared to what will come with the giant killer bee overlords. That’s why, I can’t think past the current moment. Which is improving all the time, so all I can do is ride the wave =)

Program proposal

Posted: January 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hi my name is Adam Schwartz, I am a stand-up comedian on the Autism spectrum. I have written successful fringe Festival shows such as Aspergers: a Tale of a social misfit that I have performed here, in Winnipeg, as well as several cities in Canada to raise awareness about Aspergers. I have also written a book called “I’ve Got Aspergers so I’m better than you. Shh… don’t tell mom” to raise awareness and challenge the status quo that there is something wrong with people on the Autism spectrum. For my work, in 2016 I was a finalist for CBC’s Future 40 under 40 award.

1 in 68 people are on the Autism spectrum and that number is only going up as we become more aware of the disability. That means that there is likely several children in your school or even in your classroom that would be considered Autistic. These children are often bullied throughout their school experience. A large part of that bullying isn’t because children are cruel, but, simply because they don’t know better. Therefore, they will see not understand why some people act in certain ways. For instance, many people on the Autism spectrum have an extremely hard time reading facial and body language and don’t always pick up on non-verbal signals. This means that autistic people without knowing it, may turn other children off by being insensitive or “boring” without realizing it. The result is that other children either make fun of them for being different or simply exclude them. In addition, people on the Autism spectrum may also have sensory issues and have problems with their hand-eye-coordination or even be non-verbal.

Autism can lead to people being bullied, but, it doesn’t necessarily need to. I have devised a presentation, where not only do I teach about autism, but, also diversity and tolerance by showing that we are all different and we all have our own challenges that we sometimes need help with. Also, through the activities that are part of the presentation, I help the students come up with ways that they can help their autistic classmates when they are in difficult social situations. Other topics that will be included is what is a spectrum disorder and why don’t all people on the autism spectrum have the same challenges.

Therefore this workshop will help reduce bullying, and make your school/ classroom a more tolerant inclusive place.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely

Adam Schwartz

Phone # 204-995-9029

or email at: adammlis23@gmail.com

Along with three sobriety apps, I downloaded SAM on New Year’s Day. It has tools for dealing with anxiety and a chat room, and encourages users to track their anxiety. The past couple of weeks of tracking my feelings has been something and I learned a few things. I still don’t have a clear idea of […]

via Keeping track of anxiety — megjcrane

What kind of student I am

Posted: January 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

It has always bothered me that I am an A student who always got B’s. The reason why I lost marks in school often had absolutely nothing to do with whether I knew the answer or not. It had to do with how well I expressed myself, which is something that many Aspies struggle with, and something I struggle with today. It also is definitely not solely confined to the classroom either. I have lost friends, jobs, romantic opportunities because I struggle with how I express myself.

It is completely infuriating and makes me want to scream that I lost marks on exams because of the legibility of my hand-writing. Teachers would think that it was fair that they dock marks or half marks because they had a hard time reading my writing and if they had to work harder they felt it was only fair that they reduce my mark because of it. Do you know how much this makes me want to scream. I could argue how legibility of hand-writing isn’t very important in this day and age and plenty of people get by with atrocious hand-writing. There is a joke that has some merit that doctor’s notes to pharmcists look like the dog’s breakfast. That any important document in this day and age people type. That the advancement of computers and how cheap they have becomes makes quality penmanship all but obsolete. I am not making that argument even though I would have been fine with that argument when tasked with observing elementary school students working on their hand-writing skills while student teaching. If things progress the way they are there is a good chance that penmanship will be even less important in the future. It is possible that all students in the first world will be doing all note taking and examination using laptops. This may or may not be the case, I am not going to try and predict the future, or whether this is already happening in many schools in North America. It is especially likely that this is already the case in many university classrooms in North America. I am not going to make any bold predictions about this, however, because I really don’t know. I have always been useless at predicting the future. Especially when it comes to people’s actions or behavior. Once again, that has to do with my Aspergers and the fact that I have a hard time reading body language, therefore, I have an especially hard time figuring out what other people are thinking as I am not reading the clues fast enough. Therefore, I make far too many foolish decisions, just ask anyone who I am or used to be friends with.

I am not going to make the argument that penmanship has become all but obsolete, because, I still use handwriting a fair bit and I can’t see this ever changing. I am extremely scatterbrained, I have a hard time paying attention to detail. Another place where I lost a lot of my marks as a student. Anyone reading my writing before it goes through a dozen hands of people editing it can attest to this. It’s sad because each time of my voice is lost, but, it is the cost that needs to be paid in order to have something that anyone else can read or would want to read. Therefore, if every student was assigned a laptop to do all their work on, I would end up forgetting it at home or at school just the way that I ended up leaving important textbooks at home or at school. Therefore, I still scribble notes on anything I can get my hands on, knowing that anything that I scribble, other than phone numbers, there is a good chance that I will remember. I am not bragging, I am merely pointing out that the brain learns how to adjust to make up for some of our shortcomings to the best of it’s ability. The blind develop excellent hearing. As such I have developed an incredibly memory that sometimes throws in my face that I lost marks and as a result, scholarships, as a result of my disability. How can you pay attention to detail when at every moment, your brain is unable to censor out thousands of other details that you are taking in such as the fact that the casing of my computer is black. I am aware of this, yet, I keep noticing it out of the corner of my eye as in, yep it didn’t change colors because that is not something computers do. This ability may have been useful a thousand years ago, but, is a burden when trying to write anything in the modern world. It’s a challenge right now, and it was a challenge in the classroom when I was a student. I also have to use my handwriting when taking down queries while on the phone at work. Then I am supposed to pass on these queries to someone else to work on. My shorthand is fine, if I am there to explain to someone else what I have written, but, this is not always possible as they may be away from the desk when I have to hand it on before assisting another patron, going to a different part of the library or going on break. On a recent annual report of my work my supervisor said I was a good employee except for when it came to taking down queries at the phone. This is the adult world equivalent of losing marks once again, for the same problem. There are different words for the same things, I am no longer not going scholarships I am not getting promotions. Tomato, tomato.

Therefore, I am not frustrated about having lost marks, because, penmanship is not important. What bothers me the most, is that this is not something I ever just shrugged my head at. No, this is something that I worked hard at for many years with a physical therapist in a children’s rehabilitation center. I spent what now probably equals hours working on my fine motor skills doing exercises where I simply crossed x’s and made o’s, among other exercises in order to strengthen the muscles in my fingers so that I was better able to hold a pencil so that my writing would readable.

Another way that I and other Aspies have a hard time communicating is that we never use the right words. We have a hard time adjusting to the proper decorum of a situation. For instance, we will use too formal language in social situations so that we come off stiff, and in work or classroom situations we come across as too informal. This obviously came across in my writing, as more than one professor has commented on it to me. They said things I simply cannot give you an A even though your answer was technically correct because you didn’t use the right kind of language. What he meant by that, probably, if I can interpret what he was trying to say is that my words didn’t flow smoothly and they came across disjointed. Do you know where I hear that, that I sound disjointed, stiff or wooden? In social situations. People seldom use these words, they will talk more about how our conversations just have no flow, but, this was the assessment of my social skills when I consulted a relationship advice columnist who just happens to be my friend’s mom. I wanted to know why I had such a hard time romantically, when people who seemed like real losers; people who would cheat on their significant other; act physically violent towards them; spend all their money gambling and live in their parents basements well into their late thirties, were having much more romantic success than I was.

I had a bad dream where I was back in the classroom, and was losing marks meaninglessly, like a quarter mark off for my handwriting, and only got eight out of ten on a test in a theater class, last night and woke up and felt compelled to write this about it. You know to seek some kind of closure, like that it is meaningless to worry about marks, but, now that I am done it still really bothers me. Marks are important, they are a deciding factor where you end up in life, what university program you get into or whether or not you get that promotion. It’s not the same for the arts, but, between you and me, I still have no clue how that works how or what decides who ends up where. I do know that having challenges communicating definitely plays a large role in any area of life that you can think of.

 

If you have read either of my previous books, the one that is actually out, and the one that only comes out in July, you’ll know that I am a screw-up. I want a girlfriend and dating me is the last thing on any girl’s mind. I have failed at my dream career and I have fallen into comedy, which most likely will only ever be a past time. The chances of me making a living from my writing, is almost as bad as the chances of finding out that we are all stuck within the Matrix.

The chances of more than a thousand people ever reading one of my books is pretty dismal. Yet, I continue putting them out there, simply because I find them therapeutic and I hope someone else will find them useful as well.

I may die alone with limited travelling done with friends and guess what all of that may just have to be good enough. I have no control over many facets of my life and therefore, all I can do is my best and hope that things go my way. If they don’t that doesn’t mean doing things is in vain that just means that you have limited control over your life and you have to keep putting yourself out there and hope for the best. I enjoy writing so if it never makes me any money, then that’s just too bad. I also try to be the best person that I can be, and if that doesn’t win people over, while that’s just tough shit, because I don’t know how to be anything else. If I did, I would be, but, really since I don’t I can’t go around beating myself up because of it. I have screwed up friendships and done things I would not have done again if I had a second chance, but, guess what we don’t get do-overs and if you are constantly beating yourself up about your regrets that kind of sucks.

Therefore, always strive to do your best and if that’s not good enough, while that’s too bad because it kind of has to be. After all it’s your best.

Last weekend, I ran a super successful event. Beforehand, I was nervous no one would come to the Vegan Handmade Market, but in the end the turnout was so good, many of the vendors said they had the best sales of the year there, better than ComicCon! Even while everything was going good in the busy […]

via I kinda hate everything — megjcrane

Over the past few months, I’ve frequently gotten the impression that the mental health services in Winnipeg are set-up in ways to discourage people from using them. Going to an open house at the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM) is as easy as showing up to one of two monthly sessions (which is a […]

via Getting pro help is hard — megjcrane