Archive for November, 2012

Unlike many people with Aspergers I have not always been a good reader, but becoming one, has  been one of my greatest successes and for that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my mom and dad.

My dad was actually taken aside when I was in kindergarten and told that I may never read at grade level. Fortunately, my parents would have none of this. Instead my dad read books to me in bed every single night. Sometimes after a long day he would be so exhausted that he would fall asleep in the bed lying in the bed next to me, because no matter how tired he was, my education always came first. In addition, my mom used to bribe me to read she gave me a dime for every page I read. Soon I was racking in the dough.  However, my parents attempts to turn me into a reader did not stop there. After going to my weekly appointments at the physiotherapist because of my disability my mother would take me for lunch once a week, until, she convinced me that for the same amount of money I could get a book which I could enjoy much longer.

Unlike the other children in my family my parents bought me scholastic books from the book order. I was always so happy with my treasure that I hauled in. For a book is really the worthiest treasure a person can get. It keeps you company when you don’t have many friends and it never lets you down or ostracizes you for being different. You also set the pace and the tone when reading and you don’t need to follow other people’s rules, for example, I often cheat and read the ending before the rest of the book. A person can say “yes, but, with money you can buy lots of books”. To that I reply “okay lets just skip the middle step and you just give me the books in the first place.” I have since become an excellent reader and I have not met my match in my love of literature and I owe it all to my parents.

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young woman in front of a chalkboard with a lightbulb drawn inside a thought bubble

To continue from my last post about analyzing my thinking logical thinking does not necessarily mean correct thinking. Nor is the logical thinking done by a person with Aspergers’s unbias. A perfect example of this was near the end of my grade 12 year. Since everyone else had girlfriends I, naturally, wanted one as well. Therefore, the girl I decided to go for I had no emotional connection with at all; since, I am not sure if I am capable of forming emotional relationships with people outside of my family. I decided to go for the girl because she was not particularly popular and was not that hard on the eyes. She was definitely not the most attractive girl in her class, but, I was more than okay with that because I figured it gave me a better chance that she would agree to go out with me. I figured, that since she was not that popular or pretty that she would agree to go out with me after all, I was a senior as well as the starting center of my high school’s basketball team.I felt like it was right out of a high school drama movie like “never been kissed before”, where the super cool guy dates the unpopular girl and discovers that there is really more to her than meets the eye. I did not take into account many things such as life is not a movie, in order to gain any prestige from being a starter for the high school sports team a) you have to actually be good, and b) the team has to be good we went 2-8 our final season. Therefore, I was shocked when she did not want to date me.

Also, to further explain the way how my mind works there were two girls with the same first name in that class the girl who I figured I had a chance with since I was “slumming it” and the other girl the one my friend liked was what one, okay me, would define as the “It Girl”. Now what was the sexiest part of this “It Girl’s”  physique, along with her great personality, you may want to know, which clearly made her an “It girl”? She had an amazing chest. Therefore, I nicknamed her Boobs, a real shining example of my emotional sensitivity, huh? Which in order so that no one would figure out who we were talking about with this nickname I then shortened the nickname to Bob and the girl who I liked became Rob. To conclude, the story he eventually got the girl since he was the “It Boy” of our class, since he was a great musician, great athlete and was the only person at our small high school who could dunk a basketball. Me being oblivious to how ridiculous my so-called straight forward logical thinking was I ended up not getting the girl and her making it pretty clear that I had no chance.

Nevertheless, all of the examples of how I think above show that my thinking is what I like to call logical but is not emotionally sensitive and does not often lead to success because I am not receiving  all of the information and am biased but it is very point A to point B direct without worrying about the emotional issues involved.

People with Aspergers have a completely different way of seeing the world than everyone else. Now I’m not saying that everyone who doesn’t have Aspergers is wrong I am just saying that you are wired differently; because, we see the world logically instead of in an emotionally sensitive way.

One time, me and my buddies had the afternoon off school and were lounging in my friend’s basement. My friend, who is a girl had the sun shining down on her and in the light I was looking at her made her look like a goddess. This reflection of my thoughts drew me to say;  “for a second there, I wanted to make out with you what was I thinking?” She was extremely offended and took it as an insult. Probably inferring from it that I was saying  “why would anyone want to make out with her?” Which is not at all what I said. What I said  from my perspective  was, that I had no clue, where these new outlandish feelings were coming from.  Why did I suddenly have an urge to kiss a girl that I was just friends with? To voice these thoughts for me felt super natural and logical and there was no attempt to insult. Non-aspergites would have handled the situation differently by not saying anything at all. Or saying something like you look “nice shirt”. In the former case, everyone would have missed out on a funny strange line of thinking that was worth pondering and in the latter case, they would not be honest in what they were actually thinking.  They feel that voicing your thoughts when they are politically incorrect is taboo.

Another example, of my blunt honesty (which is not being blunt at all, but saying what you are thinking which is only logical. ) I will tell a girl that she looks “hot”. This does not mean that I am trying to initiate a sexual relationship, it means that I am simply telling them that they have a good body and face and am giving them a compliment just like someone might say that is really a nice sweater. The truth is most of the time when a guy says that he doesn’t really care about the sweater but is being emotionally sensitive instead of saying what he is really thinking, which is that the girl looks really sexy in whatever she is wearing.  This does not seem logical to me, why banter around words instead of being honest and saying what you are actually thinking? Why have a conversation when the point is to send and receive information when neither party is actually saying what they think?

This honesty often gets me into trouble.  Since it can come across as rude or insensitive. It is most likely, because I don’t read body or tonal language very well I only have one way to get the message across which is my words. While other people who read body language and tonal language can express themselves by having conversations which are layers and layers beneath their actual words. It seems very spy-esque instead of straightforward but since most people do it without thinking about it, it is only complex when you try to analyse and explain it to someone who does not do the same.

Advice for people with Aspergers: Try to avoid comments about people’s appearances as all these examples show it will only get you into trouble. Furthermore, avoid conversations about religion, politics with those you are not close with as they  are tricky topics as they will often come back to bit you in the arse. You will not understand things the way others do, therefore, instead of pretending that you do ask alot of questions. Even this is not a fail-safe method as the questions we ask may be the wrong ones and someone may share some juicy gossip for us to enjoy and if we ask the wrong questions it will ruin the moment. Like all areas of your life you have to accept that there will be many cases where you will mess up, just remember it is not your fault and you are only doing your best. Many things are out of your control and you did not ask to be born this way anymore than a short person or a person with red hair asked to be born the way they are.

Aspergers guide to the gym

Posted: November 19, 2012 in fitness, life, sports
Tags: , , , ,

 

Gym

 

Hi, this article is based on my own personal experience and not professional research. Having said that here is my tips for the gym.

It is often great to have a friend at the gym to provide encouragement and to keep  you going. It is hard to keep oneself on track and a person will come up with any excuse for missing the gym. If they have another person that they are accountable to, they can still make up excuses but it is slightly harder. It is very hard to make friends at the gym on the treadmill over so don’t count on conversations with strangers. The most you will ever get out of conversation is “Are you done with that machine?” which the polite response is yes, if you are done with it. Or “Are you using that machine?” You may get slightly more conversation out of the gym staff if you ask for help using the machine or if you are asking about programs they are offering. However, you have to be pretty lonely if you are going to seek this approach for conversation. Which is just fine for most people with Aspergers so don’t hesitate to ask for help.

If you cannot get someone to go with you, many people find it beneficial to have an ipod or some device to listen to music through to make the time move faster. If you are lucky there will some hard-bodied males or females to look at and drool over which will make the time move faster. There will also be overweight people to make you realize you are not the only one who has it hard. If you are overweight, that is alright too. It is important to eat well and exercise no matter what your body size.

Muscle strengthening will probably take longer than other people so don’t add too much weight when you go. The reason why muscle training takes longer is because the part of how are muscles are wired which makes motor control an extra challenge for us. If you add too much weight too quickly you are likely to hurt yourself. Besides, what’s the point if you have Aspergers you will never be a star athlete anyway, so take it easy on your body. The most you can hope for is to stay in good shape.

Figure out what your exercise goals are and train for them. Having Aspergers, we are different and our muscle control works differently. What this means is that muscles and endurance from one type of exercise will not transfer as well to other forms of exercise as it does for other people. If you want to be a cyclist, work on the bike. Work on the elliptical trainer will not benefit us as much in a cross-training way as it will for other people. For example, I want to run in the half-marathon so I will jog, working on the bike would not help me reach my goals.

For people who don’t have Aspergers but find my advice useful that is because I believe that we are all on a spectrum of sorts from the highest functioning athletes to people who are unable to look after themselves because of their autism.

Aspergers and shyness

Posted: November 18, 2012 in aspergers, life
Tags: , ,
 Shyness
I am extremely shy around people I don’t know, unless its at a comedy show where I feel like I have the whole comedy community backing me up. However, if I showed up at a wedding social where I didn’t know many people you would hardly hear a peep from me. I am extremely anxious about approaching new people because I am afraid that it will bring pain. The emotional pain of someone laughing at me. Even when someone is trying to be nice and give me a compliment my anxiety level acts up. For example, when I was in the Art student’s intro to biology for my mandatory credit, these girls decided to be nice to me and befriend. However, every time they gave me a compliment about how much I knew about the material we were discussing because I worked really hard outside of the class,  I thought that they were making fun of me and I was just too stupid to know how.
    I even get shy around people I know. For example, last night I was fine whenever I was in a conversation but when the group conversation was over I felt really awkward about simply going to go find another group to join their conversation. What if they were having a private conversation? What if they didn’t want me to know what they were talking about? What if they were talking about how big of a dork I was? I would eventually go and join other conversations but I was reluctant to speak and get my two cents in in case I said something that was dumb. Also remember these are people who I am friends with, therefore, I should feel more comfortable going up and talking to them than I do with most everyone else and yet I still felt my anxiety level increase. This awkwardness and anxiety of conversation is not a unique trait to me but is common for anyone who has been extremely awkward in past experiences, ie anyone with Aspergers. 
   I really don’t have much advice for people with Aspergers for overcoming it. Other than pointing out that we all have a negative voice in our head and if the people who we hungout with didn’t like us they could easily come up with excuses for not including you. If someone you don’t know gives you a compliment don’t automatically jump to assumptions and if you are not sure that they are being genuine, ask!! Asking might be embarrassing but it is much better than automatically assuming the worst. Some people might actually admire you and be genuinely interested in being your friend.

Have you ever felt like a rat in a maze. On the other side of the maze is the pure bliss of fulfilment from being where you are supposed to be. You enter the maze wary at first because  you don’t know the fastest way to the end but you scurry up one route because you see a little daylight and you hope that your path is not blocked by any walls. You keep going that same route for a long time because you think it is the right one and you are practically salvating at that point because the cheese is just that close and is so intoxicating that you can barely think straight only to find that the route is a dead end. Then you scurry back the way you came and try a different route. You are able to progress longer on this route than before and you are licking your lips because you can practically taste the cheese. Only to find out that this route is a dead-end as well.

A mouse would continue going back and forth until it finally gets its cheese but as a human you want to sit your ass down and refuse to budge and cry about how its not fair. The natural state for humans is negativity and we see others around us succeeding and we want to know why we can’t find that easy route to the cheese in our lives. After a life-time of negativity and realizing that failure is not the enemy you are willing to give failure the benefit of the doubt and look for a different route.

I mean the benefit of successfully being able to go down the first road of teaching would have brought really foul cheese. That really musty cheese that only leaves a bitter taste in your mouth because you are determined to see it through and yet every day only brings you more torment than if you had turned back, however, how can you turn back when you feel like finally found the cheese in your life and can celebrate. Who really wants to go back to the beginning and spend another decade going down another route? Nevertheless when the door slammed shut in my face like a good little rat I started again at the beginning. I then went down another road which is librarianship but another wall has been thrown up in my face. Is this a dead route or do I simply have to change my route and slightly navigate this road differently?  Will I have to start at the beginning again and follow a different path?

I went on Facebook the other day, to be confronted by sad news. That comedy at the Cavern was no longer operating. The bar was still there, they just did not find it financially viable to run a comedy night there anymore. I had taken it’s existence for granted, believing that as long as there was comedy in Winnipeg that there would be comedy one day a week at the Cavern. For the last three years I had been basing my schedule around doing comedy there. Not accepting  really early shift on Monday because I was going to be out late drinking and hanging out with my buddies until as late as 2 am some nights.

Hearing about the closure of comedy at the Cavern was absolutely horrible. Many great comedians, much better than myself, had had their start there. The worst part is that they had announced the end without giving us advanced notice. If there had been more advance notice many more people would have gone to say their goodbyes and pay homage one last time. I would have definitely made sure to have done a better set as my final one there if I had known the week before that it was my last one. It’s like having the last conversation that you will ever have with someone close to you, whether, that’s a family member, a cherished friend, a beloved teacher a fight over what channel to watch. Something so meaningless that you two don’t even remember what you had been fighting about the night before, but, knowing that it left a bad taste in both of your mouths and knowing that you will never get the chance to say that you’re sorry.

I hope in my heart of hearts that the Comedy night at the Cavern, knows I didn’t mean that horrible set and its last memory of me wasn’t of it. That it has fond memories of me and the times we had together, whether hanging out in the back being chatty Cathys with the other comedians or of being on stage. The show helped me learn to accept my Aspergers and who I am, and that I can be a meaningful voice in raising awareness of the disability. This whole blog would not have been possible if not for that night in that dank, poorly ventilated bar. Where they had drink specials of a pint of beer for $4 dollars.

The Comedy night, has done more to help me make friends and learn what it means being part of a group than anyone or anything else.  Sure the night will have successors, has its partner Thursday nights at the Rose’n’bee still fights on, despite its changes its changes in management of the bar. Also another open mic show opening up the same night just down the block at The Pulse opening up but who knows if I will ever have the same give-and-take relationship that I had with Comedy at the Cavern with any of the other shows. What I am trying to say is that Comedy Night at the Cavern will be sorely missed.

 

 

For awhile, I was in a sketch comedy group and thought about writing SNL type sketches and thought it would be completely awesome and the group I was in would go on for multiple years. Some of the cast members may have gone to bigger better things but that the group would mostly remain the same. This idea was shattered when the group asked me to leave. They thought they were too cool for me or something.

 At the time, it felt just like when I was kicked out of the teaching profession and in many ways it was. That it would torment me for a long time as something else that I failed at.  The biggest similiarity between the two, however, was that neither of them were truly a good fit. Leaving the sketch writing group was really also in my best interest as the group would never use any of the sketches that I worked so hard on writing, while balancing comedy, my job, and masters program. Therefore, angry at the group I hoped that they would fail and realize too late how they needed me to keep the group moving forward and that I was central to it even though they had not realized it at the time. When the group eventually did fail, however, without achieving any enormous success I should have been overjoyed that my dreams had come true. That they were nothing without me. While in fact it did not bring me any real happiness seeing them fail. True it did not make me particularly sad but it didn’t make me feel any better. Therefore, this negativity didn’t help anyone. It even made me waste time being resentful and wasting my brain cells on useless thoughts instead of what I could do to make my situation better.

     When I was younger and I was really jealous and angry with one of my classmates I wished that he got really bad acne. Now I am not saying that he didn’t deserve it, because he was a really ratty child. He threw soccer games at recess when I was the captain because he was such a jerk. What I am saying is that when he got older his skin cleared up and instead I was the one who got acne.

  I wished ill will on someone else recently and today I pulled a muscle in my neck. I don’t know if I actually believe in karma or what goes around comes around. What I do know is that negative thinking is bad for the body and the soul so learn from my lesson and don’t do it.

 

Making friends really shouldn’t be so difficult. All you should really have to do is listen to the other person, have things in common and be generous. At this point, however, I have been spurned so many times that I am reluctant to keep on trying, but by golly thats what a person simply has to do. For example. I will write to someone who I have not hung out with in awhile, or someone I want to be friends with on facebook and say want to go for a drink thursday? Then either I don’t get a reply or they say they are busy. Having a date in mind and having a plan is much better than asking someone if they want to hangout sometime. Since if you don’t set a time-period they will simply say “yes sounds good” and never suggest a time.

   How can someone think of finding themselves someone who they can have intimate relationships with, if they can’t even find someone who is willing to get to know them in the first place, irregardless of gender. When I invite them to an event that I know we both like, they often say “sorry, I already have plans to go with someone else.” A person, cannot simply go cruising the gym or bar and go up to someone and be like “hey, want to go somewhere else and play video games?” They give off the wrong message and are likely to have their offer spurned. If the other person does accept their offer, however, they often will have the wrong idea in their heads and may try to kiss you which would be gross. Eww!! At the gym, you can’t see that they are watching the football game on their screen and ask them to take their earphones out of their ears so that you can invite them to your place to watch the football game. They will be weirded out and say that they have their own lives. I am aware that they have their own lives, just like I have my own life. I just want those two lives to overlap so that I can enjoy their companionship and they can enjoy mine.

  A person cannot even think of making a move on a girl if they are worried about scaring away their only friend. However, the less friends you have the more likely you are to misinterpret their thoughts and actions and develop romantic feelings when they don’t even want your companion-able feelings. It is like anything in life the more friends you have the easier the time it is making more friends. However, how do you make that first new friend?

Don’t get me wrong I do have a few good friends, not counting my family members, and am not completely lonely I just want to be able to make more.

  Alright, thank you for reading my blog if you have any suggestions don’t hestitate to post them in the comment section.

People with Aspergers often are afraid to follow their dreams and lets their condition hold them back. They fear that they are just not good enough and with all their extra challenges they will never succeed in the field that they choose so decide it is better to play it safe and stick in a job that they may not love.

   They are afraid that everyone will laugh at them because of their awkwardness and therefore quit before seeing their projects through.  “About 7 years ago, I took a workshop with a woman who used to write for SNL in the late 70′s, on sketch comedy. My aspieness created an awkward scene and I bailed on completing the workshop.” Ken Myers 43 year-old lawyer.

However, once we find the path that is right for us, we can’t let anything hold us back.

“For a long time I thought my awkwardness would make it impossible for me to be a good trial lawyer, but then I got in front of a jury for the first time, in a really big case, a year ago, and I was like Rain Man in a good way, totally zoned in on it, my boss said I found my calling. I don’t really agree with that, but the point was that aspieness does not hold us back from any particular field, IMHO, rather with our way of focusing (obsessing?) we can be brilliant in just about anything.”

We all need to find the dreams that work for us. Just like Ken Myers never became a sketch writer his unique skills that come with Aspergers allowed him to succeed in court. I may not become the most successful comedian but it is not because my Aspergers is holding me back. Like Ken says we can be brilliant in just about anything. It is just about finding the right field for us to succeed in. Often the only way of knowing that, however, is by failure letting us know that we are going down the wrong path.

People with Aspergers have succeeded in every creative field as well as in law and business. Others have also succeeded in engineering and mechanics like Jon Elder Robison,  who is also a prestigious author. Granted, however, there will never be a great athlete with Aspergers it is not in our genes but we can nevertheless be successful in many other fields.

 It can even be an advantage,  “comedians NEED a difference so they can blast on stage about it. They need to be fat, ugly, black, female, short, whatever, and then they need to OWN it, and they can find the humor in it. Being aspie is not a hinderance, but a tool that can be very useful.” Anything, can be an advantage, if we see it in the right light.

  Despite his setbacks Ken Myers has, also, not given up on his dream of being a writer. “One day, I may get my comedy out there in some public way, maybe write my own Douglas Adams type comedy novel“.

  Even though, I may never meet Ken Myers, his comments filled with wisdom from his own life and the fact that he could relate and felt comfortable sharing his own story after reading my blogs are the reason why I blog in the first place. That and to become rich and famous =).  Therefore, I would love for more people to send me their stories and share their comments on my blog.

To see the letter in its entirity its in the comment section of my blog about Z list celebrities.