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

I really felt like shit about myself last week. Despite knowing better, I was judging myself rather harshly for not being able to take care of myself properly on my own. And then you all stepped in and set me straight. An acquaintance responded to the status update about last week’s blog post on my Facebook […]

via I can do this, with you — megjcrane

It’s never worth getting laughs when it comes at the cost of your soul
Writing stand-up comedy jokes is extremely difficult. It is much easier to write whole chapters than a thirty second joke. That could be, because after you have been doing comedy for a while your inner editor papoos any joke you think of as not as funny as the last one. When I was starting out, I found writing jokes super easily. Whether that was because I had years of insight built up just waiting to be written down on a page and then told in front of a live audience that is one possibility. The other possibility is that, when you are first starting out, you don’t know what a funny joke is. Therefore, anything that remotely tickles your funny bone must be absolutely hilarious. The truth is, none of these original insights are really that funny. It takes a bit of time, before you learn how to tell the difference between a good joke and something that is only funny if the other person was there at the time. Therefore, many comedian’s first jokes are inside jokes that you have to have been there to understand why it was funny. You have to have shared the experiences. After all, these jokes are what got us our laughs before we started doing stand-up comedy. In addition, the first shows are mostly for our family and friends and we don’t have a chance to go up to complete strangers and hear what they thought of the joke. We are too busy celebrating.
Once family and friends stopped coming, however, then you have to perform for a room of strangers some of which are other comedians who will be bored out of their minds if we try and tell inside jokes. This is when we start developing our inner editor and start learning how to tell the difference between a rubbish joke and one that is actually really funny. Once that inner editor begins to grow inside of us there is a trade-off. We start telling quality jokes that are universally funny, but, at the same time the quantity of jokes greatly decreases. Therefore, we start repeating old jokes over and over again, praying for anything to tickle our funny bone so we have something new to tell on stage. At this stage, we are usually sick of our jokes, but, we are also addicted to the rush that we get from performing and having an audience laugh.
The laugh becomes the ultimate high. You will do anything for that laugh. Even cross lines that you would never have considered crossing before. For the most part I started off as a good person. At least I like to think I was. Maybe, the pain from frustration at social attempts started to make me more bitter. Therefore, I started justifying things that I shouldn’t have. When someone explained to me that being asexual means that you can still have sex, you just are not interested in it, I thought that was hilarious. After all, to me it sounded like the complaint that all the comedians were making about their wives.
Therefore, I thought, ha being asexual isn’t something unique, it is something all middle-age married women go through. Therefore I wrote out a joke that I planned on telling on stage. In my mind, it was the only really funny joke that I had written in weeks. I knew it was going to get me the laughs. That rush of ecstasy. The drug that I am most addicted to. One of the other comedians begged me not to tell it knowing that by telling it, I would be crossing a line that I could never come back from. I would be joining the dark side with all the other asshole comics throughout history. There is no talking a drug addict out of taking that hit, however. They know that it might hurt people and they regret it, but, they need their high more than they need anything else. Drugs have destroyed families, ruined friendships, destroyed promising careers and yet, an addict is an addict.
Therefore, I went on stage. I started with my old standby starting joke of telling the audience that I have Aspergers and that I am better than them which got me less laughs than I was used to. I told my new tags for one of my old jokes about how two girls came up to me at the bar this one time and asked if I really had Aspergers because I wasn’t like one of their cousins. I then told a few other jokes and didn’t get my fill of laughter. Therefore, I told my new joke about asexual people. It got me the laughs I so desperately craved. Yet, when I got off stage and went to talk to one of the other comedians he was like “well was it worth it?” I wasn’t going to admit that I had crossed a line. I was high on laughter after all so I wasn’t going to let him ruin it for me. He was just jealous. When I saw how upset the comic who had begged me not to tell the joke was, I was like whatever. One of the other comedians has a joke about Autism. No one gives him shit about it. I am supposed to just laugh it off, so it’s okay to make fun of Autistic people but not asexual people screw that! Also, how many times do I need to pretend that I am okay when someone who isn’t Jewish makes an anti-semitic joke. Everyone is just chasing that high.
After the high started wearing off, however, and I was looking for anyone to justify my behaviour I had to come to the stone cold conclusion. I had crossed that line and that there was no coming back from it. I had sold my soul for laughs and it totally wasn’t worthwhile. The other comedians were going to look at me different from now on, and I might have cost myself a friendship and what had I got out of it? A few laughs at an open mic, which will never lead to anything bigger.
I can’t really take steps in going backwards after all, what can you do? You can’t really apologize after all it’s easy to apologize if it’s an accident. This was no accident, since he had already told me not to tell the joke. You also can’t pretend that in a do-over you would have done anything differently. After all, a drug addict is a drug addict and they will do anything to get their fix no matter who it hurts. All you can really do, is move forward and realize that it’s not worthwhile. Try and maintain what self-respect you have, after all it can’t all disappear after telling one joke. I didn’t murder anybody. If that person wants to forgive you and move forward you do that. Otherwise, you accept that they have made their choice and still move forward.

The gym is often an Aspies biggest nightmare. There are always so many people there, so many machines going, and so many distractions. It really is just a matter of time, before something gives an Aspie sensory overload. Whether it’s watching the weights go up and down on the machines or the grunts from the serious weight lifters who are really doing much more weight than they should be doing, in my opinion. If you can’t do it quietly, without all the noise, then you are doing too much weight and you should tone it down a little. I am also trying to get my own exercise here, at the gym, without having to focus on what other people are doing.

Then there are the weight lifters themselves. When the world can feel completely unpredictable to you, because of all the chaos waiting to happen, it can be a scary place. People often don’t follow the rules. I don’t mean the rules that are posted, but, the rules of logical interactions which Aspies are all aware of, but that many other people don’t seem to know of or at least ever follow. For instance, when talking to someone, unless you two are hugging, you should always maintain body space of at least three meters. With all the chaos behind ever corner, weight lifters, these behemoths of men and women who don’t seem to have any fat to them, or cuddly bits, as I like to think of it, are extremely scary looking. You know that those muscles on the weightlifters have absolutely no practical application in today’s modern world and that they are just there to cause pain if they snap. Really, someone should restrain these “athletes” before it gets to this point, and explain to them that they are big enough, and getting any bigger really is an unfriendly, aggressive thing to do. Instead, we have to watch these people out of the corner of our eye at all times, while we try to lift our reasonable amount of weight.

Then there is just the pure number of people at the gym that is threatening. Look, I get that they also need to exercise and are just doing their thing. I understand that, but, as an Aspie I don’t like large crowds at the best of times, unless, it’s from the safety of the stage, and there is a pretty large distance between me and them. There is just so much potential for things to go wrong, when it comes to large groups. There is potential for all of their interactions to cause me sensory-overload or turn into a large mob and do something unreasonable, like keeping American Idol on television for so many years.  Without large mobs, Paris Hilton’s music career would not have been a thing. People are infinitely more reasonable as individuals and they’ll assure you that there is nothing to like about her music, but, as soon as they turn into a large group, her music thrives; it is mind-boggling.

That is why I am going to keep to jogging outside, where it is quiet enough to listen to my own thoughts over the roar of traffic.

Posted: May 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

My struggles with my dating life have been well-documented in this blog. Nonetheless, I have been extremely passive when it comes to changing anything. Therefore, I have decided to challenge myself to change that. I am going to try joining popular dating websites such as Tinder, Plenty of Fish; find a match maker in the city; as well as take other steps that I am not aware of at this point to find someone who is willing to date me. I am going to try and update this blog with how my journey is going every 2-3 days, therefore, it will not be as finely polished as my Winnipeg Jewish Post articles or my book.

The first day of this challenge I went through my various pictures on Facebook and asked for people’s opinions which ones to post on my Tinder account that I am going to create. I received lots of positive feedback about the pictures that I had selected so I was going to use the ones I had posted on Facebook yesterday. The only problem is that my apple account has seemed to lock me out and not let me add any new apps to my phone. When I tried to join Tinder on a pc computer it took me to a porn site when I logged in which I quickly logged out of realizing that was not what I was looking for. Therefore, I have been foiled by Tinder and will focus on Plenty of Fish right now. Why did I choose to use this website? Mostly because it is free. When I joined eharmony and another paid dating website it did not get me anymore success than I did with the free dating website, therefore, at this point I am going to stick with the free ones and if this is unsuccessful after trying for a few days I will switch to a paid dating website for a month. I am sceptical about my future success on a dating website as these are all about creating great first impressions which is something that people on the Autism spectrum have difficulties with.

Nonetheless, my dating success in general is limited and I have to start somewhere.  I work in a tiny office and only with five people, therefore, asking someone out in the workplace would make my life extremely difficult whether she accepted or not. I also know I have to start somewhere so that is where I am starting. I am also out of school, not that I ever had any success asking any girl from my class out, but still that is one way people meet others. I may take a writing course or two in the spring time.