Blast from the Past; and a little PTSD?

Noticed on a certain social network that an old friend of mine from my North Texas days, an educator who joined up with the Atheist Meetup that I founded up there, is coming to terms with being on the Autism spectrum.  After I announced my own DX, this person revealed to me that they had taken a few online quizzes that indicated they probably were also in the High Functioning Autism range.  This person was resistant to the idea at first, thought it must be a fluke.  I tried to tactfully reassure this person that there was no shame in it if true, that it was better to know than not know.  They remained defensive, so I just dropped it and didn’t bring it up again.  I’m glad to see this person on their own sought out a relevant corner of said certain social network related to ASD’s.  I’m glad they took the initiative to get diagnosed–or are perhaps now self-diagnosed at the very least.  That’s an important step.  Alas, what this person had to convey by way of news in their postings to this ASD group page pertained to their current difficulties on the job with co-workers and a supervisor. 

It definitely was painful and a little wrenching to read about, because it reminded me so much of how my last professional Librarian gig ended unceremoniously, and reading this friends current travails evokes not only deja vu but along with it some PTSD-like anxieties.  I feel a need to write this down but I’m being deliberately opaque on specifics out of respect to my friend and their privacy.  I ask our readers’ indulgence on that.  There is a quite lengthy thread on this ASD group within this certain social network, some of it quite good and insightful.  I tried to contribute some helpful links and advice in the open thread, and even sent an (i hope) encouraging private message via this social networks’ messaging system.

Right now we live in a world where if you are an ASD person but work in an office space dominated by intolerant NTs who simply don’t like you, they can more or less legally gang up on you socially and there’s nearly f*ck all you can do about it.  The boss may let you go because you’re just a “bad fit” for the company, regardless if you perform your job x10 more competently than the next person.  I don’t think I had anywhere near the understanding of how much I was actively disliked by certain persons at my university job.  I evidently stressed out one of the more technically skilled librarians to no end to the point where she felt like I was impairing her ability to do her job because of my lack of technical know how…but was always smiles and kind and always willing to help to my face, all the while evidently bitterly complaining to our common boss.  I would much rather the person tell me to f*ck off to my face and RTFM (geek speak for “Read the f*cking Manual”) and be done with me than pull that false friend back-stabby shit.  GAWD it still pisses me off to recall it now.  If I’m being a burden just goddamn say so; just goddamn tell me to heave to and pull my own weight.  Make your expectations clear!!  That is the hell of working in majority NT environments.  Because nobody ever does tell you these things, they tell your boss, who then drops a virtual anvil on your head seemingly from nowhere.

I feel horrible for my friend and I hope it turns out for them better than it turned out for me in a similar situation.  At least this person has a confirmed diagnosis in hand.  When I was fighting to save my most recent university library gig, I was completely ignorant of my Asperger’s, and fumbling around in the dark, so to speak.  I was grasping at straws like gender differences, or perhaps introvert vs. extrovert, but the YAWING CHASM was the ASD vs. NT divide that I fell into and didn’t even know was there…not unlike the two dimensonal creatures of Flatland being baffled and mystified by 3D visitors they barely comprehend in that famous work of experimental fiction.

I also redacted, scanned, and shared (privately) via this same certain social network one of my final HR “warning letters” from said institution of Higher Learning with some of my fellow Houston Aspies.  It’s still painful to read, but also instructive.  It’s maddeningly vague on suggested paths to actual improvement, mainly just a laundry-list litany of complaints about me, some just, others unjust.  It purports to be a “Letter of Corrective Action”, but doesn’t specify what specific corrective actions are expected, only broadly worded, glittering abstract generalities like “improve leadership & communication”, etc.  I can see now–indeed saw at the time–that the letter was just a formality, a required institutional “next step” before I would be terminated.  I flailed about helplessly, at my wits end, trying everything I knew and could muster to present proof to my boss that I was trying concretely to improve, all of which were curtly dismissed each and every time, with no constructive feedback.  The die had been cast, or so it felt.  The bullying atmosphere was just too much for me, and I felt essentially coerced into resigning against my will.  It was the one and only time I’ve gone through a public (rather than written) meltdown.  Not my finest hour.  Have subsequently endured even worse and for even longer duration with the penultimate boss in the current work-site.  But managed to outlast that holy terror, thank goodness.  I still horribly miss the Corporate gig I had before library school where I was not only accepted but revered and admired for my good work.  Maybe one day we’ll have greater autism acceptance, and horror stories like mine and my friend further north will be a thing of the past.  But that is not our world today, sad to say. 

I can say as a bit of a positive note that I did start a new project today that actually taps into some of my actual intellectual ability and training as a (former) Librarian/Cataloger.  It’s a good deal more interesting than a lot of the grind work I have been doing and is actually more mission-critical to the current workplace.  It’s nice to feel valued and recognized, even in small ways like this.  It may be naive to hope this will lead to bigger things, but I can at least take satisfaction in that it’s a step in the right direction, however belated.

We are everywhere

So today I went to my usual Houston Atheists Meetup in the Meyerland area. Not only did my friend JC show up whom I already suspect is on the spectrum (last time he proudly presented me with a list, typewritten, of all the movies he’d ever seen from 1961-1974, including the exact date and movie theater name and location—-to which I said to myself, ding!ding!ding! We have an Aspie!)…today we met a slightly disheveled, possibly homeless man I will call TW; He was pretty cool, self-described Sci Fi fan, and atheist. But he also mentioned his contra-dancing class and recording the name and age of all of his dance partners including taking a photo of each….telltale Aspie behavior. Including getting bawled out by a mother who demanded to know why he was taking pictures of her teen daughter…and he described shrinking back and defending himself attempting to explain and saying “I’m creepy, yeah, but not like that!”; I suppressed a laugh into a simple, polite smile. Yep, definitely a fellow Aspie, but like JC, an older retirement-age adult and probably undiagnosed but painfully clearly an Aspie to me. We recognize our own.

Side note:  I typed all of the above on my iPad while watching the Rockets vs. OKC playoff game #1.  Not too shabby.  I’m now editing this and looking it over on my desktop upstairs during halftime.

 

Problematic “Splash” page of a local sports team

I highlight 2 problems I have with the “Splash” page of a local Minor league baseball franchise that my city’s home team. I live not far from their stadium and attended a game last night with one of co-authors from this blog. I thought it important enough to stay up late recording and editing.

Falling through cracks, dodging bullets (metaphorically)

So I was exposed to a few news items this weekend seemingly unrelated, but I still sense a vague connective thread between them.  I’ve always has this knack for seeing connections between seemingly unrelated things; A lot of NTs are outright dismissive, but sometimes when they give me a chance, hear me out, and I explain my insight to them, they’re blown away and tell me I’m “brilliant”, or whatever.

Anyway, first of all was a story in AlterNet about the deplorable state of adjuncts, post-docs, and other members of what I usually refer to as the Academic Proletariat.  It’s been a disturbing trend in Academia since the 1980s, but especially since the end of the Cold War.  There are fewer and fewer tenure track professor jobs in Higher Education every year.  As existing faculty retire, or die in office (sometimes literally), these positions are usually not replaced and the slack is taken up by the remaining tenured faculty and/or spread out among poorly paid Adjuncts and other marginal labor in the academic job market.  It’s bad across the board, but especially dismal in the humanities.  None of the story was especially new to me; Indeed, I’d read the proverbial “writing on the wall” in the works of Michael Berube and Cary Nelson way back when.  Thanks to their cautionary notes, I opted to pursue a Master of Library Science degree instead of returning to academia to pursue a PhD.  “I can always go back and get one later”, I told myself, reassuringly.  From the position of where I sit now, I just no longer see the point to it.  It’s not as if I could (at this late date) wrangle a tenure-track professor’s job out of it.  A PhD dissertation often takes years to complete from start to finish.  There is a whole strata of poor, tormented Academic souls who are doctoral level students that are “all but diss”, i.e. have completed all of their required course of study but completing the final dissertation.  And even those who have completed the dissertation and are newly minted PhDs, they often fare little better.  And none fare as well as people who instead opted for state teaching credentials and found jobs as public school teachers…public school teachers will never get rich, it’s true, but at least they have above a living wage, with health insurance, a retirement plan, and okay vacations.

I read stories like the one in AlterNet and feel a chill go down my spine, because that easily could have been me.  My solution was to get an Master of Library Science.  And while I’m still woefully under-employed as a mere Library Clerk, despite having 2 Master’s degrees, I can also say at least I’m paid a living wage and have a modest  pension and sick leave, vacation time, have health benefits, etc.  As an employee of local government, I’m in far better financial shape than many in the Academic proletariat. I just don’t see American academia as being all that sustainable if current practices and conditions persist.  All the currently serving tenured professors will die off or retire eventually.  If they’re never replaced, then undergraduates will be increasingly taught by a hyper-exploited academic underclass of part time adjuncts, full time “instructors” and “lecturers” lacking any form of tenure, etc.  Noone will have time for original research when they’re barely making ends meet stitching together teaching contracts from semester to semester, etc.

So I dodged that bullet, but Librarianship has presented its own challenges.

Another program I watched part of today was a PBS documentary about adults with Autism and how they can succeed with support, etc.  They were nice stories and all, but all the individuals shown actually receiving state assistance also had IQs below a certain mark.  People with ASD’s with IQ’s over that mark did not qualify for state assistance.

I know we’re meant to be uplifted by stories of successful autistic people like Temple Grandin, or NASA scientists, or other hi-tech whiz kid types.  That’s great and all, good for them.

But it seems as though, to me, if you have an ASD, but a High IQ, but are NOT skilled in maths or sciences, you’re just kinda screwed.  You fall through the cracks somehow.  You’re not low IQ, so no state assistance is forthcoming.  But you’re not a maths and sciences or engineering mastermind who can “bootstrap” yourself either.  Maybe like me you’re smart about Foreign Languages, which come easy to you…that’s all well and good but it’s not enough.  It doesn’t do any good to know a lot of foreign languages if you’re not also an MBA or have some trans-national skill like being a medical doctor or engineer.  Foreign Service?  I did take the FSO exam, but didn’t make the cut–In part, I suspect, because I disagreed with a lot of the assumptions about economics built into a lot of the questions.  I don’t accept the “Washington Consensus” on a lot of those types of issues, so I guess I’m a “bad fit” there as well.  Or what if you’re brilliant with Linguistics like one of my co-authors here?  Without college credentials, nobody cares.  Though even with them it’s a hard slog.  You may get a better job than someone without college credentials, but it may have precious little if anything to do with your academic field(s) of study.

There’s a common refrain among low-brow and middle-brow people of “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” (a saying I have always loathed with a passion); Essentially equating brains with the ability to acquire riches.  While it does take some form of smarts, it also often requires a degree of ruthlessness and amorality that don’t sit well with me.  I’m sure I have the smarts to be a lawyer, for example.  I just find the work most lawyers do kind of revolting and soul-destroying.  They also have to spend so much of their time reading legal cases, writing briefs, etc, that I don’t see how they have any time for any pleasure reading or hobbies, or whatever.  It seems a job that would require far too much personal sacrifice of one’s time and sense of integrity to be worth whatever financial reward one might obtain thereby.  So I seemed condemned by the particular nature of my ASD, as well as my own moral standards, to just barely get by, under-employed and under-utilized.  It can be so very frustrating and disheartening if I think about it for very long, or get exposed to intersecting news stories that bring these thoughts to the forefront of my mind.

I don’t begrudge low-IQ autistics who receive state assistance; I think they should get it and support their continuing to receive it.  I’m glad there are autistic success stories of people like Temple Grandin, or many a NASA engineer, etc.  But there are other classes of very smart ASD people who have been left behind and forgotten about.  I look about for success stories of people who look more like me, whose ASD is more like mine…and I’m still looking.  There may be people who regard my life’s work as a kind of success story, but I’m not one of them.  Yeah, I find foreign languages come easily to me.  Yeah, I can write kinda well sometimes.  Yeah, I know lots of obscure facts and am at times kinda kick-ass a trivial pursuit type games.  I know way more about Anime than someone my age probably does or even ought to.  I have “my moments”, every now and then.  Every now and then I “wow” someone who compliments my insight, my brilliance, etc.  But as far as the arc my life has taken so far, it’s been largely a disappointment, a dream deferred.  I haven’t given up on Librarianship and the library profession, but I do feel like it has largely given up on me.  In the meantime, I just keep doing my job, punching the clock every morning, filling ILL requests, processing them, etc, and in my downtime doing database cleanup while listening to my favorite podcasts, or audiobooks, etc.  It’s a life.  Not great but of course it could always be worse.  It’s hard enough to scrape together a living among the Academic proletariat for NTs out there.  To try and do so while having an ASD, with all the self-promotion and self-marketing it entails…just makes me shudder at the very thought of it.  There but for fickle fate and a lucky choice on my part go I.  I recognize that I suffer from mild depression, and my posts sometimes have a melancholy air to them, but I do try to end with a least a faint note of hopefulness or at least rueful wisdom gained.  Thank you for your indulgence, dear readers.

The journey to diagnosis

Though my mom suspected that I was autistic when I was a baby, I got through school without going through special education.  It was easy, and I think that if I had been in special ed, it would have been far too easy because they tend to dumb everything down for all special ed students regardless of their specialness.  An aspie kid can be a genius at math, and they’d modify his math tests to be easier simply because he’s in special ed.

It wasn’t until after high school that I decided to seek a diagnosis.  I’ve struggled with jobs and making money, and for a long time I wondered why.  Then I decided to look into Asperger’s Syndrome like my mom had been suggesting that I do for years.  It was very eye opening, and once I started talking to a lot of diagnosed aspies, I realized that I could really use some of the help they’re getting.

A few of my aspie friends had gotten diagnosed through psychologists at great expense.  I spent $319 on an initial assessment with Dr. Loveland, a psychologist that some friends had spoken very highly of, and then I took the letter I got from her to the MHMRA, a local non-profit organization that helps people with mental issues who don’t have insurance.  When calling got me nowhere but hung up on repeatedly, I went into one of the offices and got put into the system by a very nice lady whose name I don’t remember.  She followed up on my case pretty diligently, if a bit slowly, starting in January and ending just a few days ago on April 11, when I finally talked a MHMRA psychologist.  I was IQ tested (124 overall, 143 in the language section) and finally officially diagnosed.

So if you’re out there and you’re like me, with no income and no history of special ed, there is still hope of getting an affordable diagnosis.  You just have to find the right channels.

Autism acceptance begins at home. (or should)

So I wanted to write this down before it slips from memory.  I had a really good time at our Aspie of Houston meeting last night, even though I didn’t have high expectations for it.  The IHOP after gathering turned out to be the largest we’ve had in my memory.  Lots of new people.

A friend of mine (and co-author on this blog) has a funny Asperger’s t-shirt that says something like “I am not rude or weird, I have Asperger’s; what’s your excuse?”; I decided it was about time I get a similar “Aspie Pride” type shirt.  Don’t know if it’s just a “me” thing or an Aspie thing, but I’ve always loved wearing t-shirts that loudly express an aspect of my personality, or personal passions, whether it’s Sci Fi, or an expression of my political views, my various collegiate almae matres or whatever.

I didn’t want to just pick the identical shirt, so I went in search of one I liked.  I’m not overly fond of all the puzzle logo design shirts, etc.  They’re not horrible, I just didn’t find one I particularly wanted for myself.  On Zazzle I stumbled onto one that read: “I am an Aspie; What’s your Superpower?” and thought to myself, “Perfect!” and ordered it.  It arrived, I washed it, and, it being casual Friday at the library, decided I wanted to wear it to work.  It’s not as if people at work—especially those that matter, like my immediate supervisor and the library director and several branch managers—don’t already know that I have Asperger’s.  But part of me said to myself, probably better run it by mom—and another part said “yeah, you know she’s not going to like it.”

That latter part was right, of course.  I finished breakfast, showered, donned my jeans & the shirt and came downstairs to present myself to my mom with a triumphant “tada!” by way of announcement.  The combined look of disgust, disapproval and horror was immediate, quickly followed by a verbal rebuke.

After a brief, awkward pause I blurted out “FINE, I’ll go change it…but I just KNEW you’d react that way!”

I rushed back upstairs and threw the shirt gently on the bed; I opened the dresser drawer and grabbed an innocuous Houston Astros t-shirt and headed back down.  Controlling my anger, I went calmly back downstairs and told my mother simply, slowly, and deliberately “…I am very disappointed with your reaction.”; Mom responded with something about being more prudent/cautious at work, and I replied it’s not as if anyone in authority at the library don’t already know of my condition.  It’s not as if I don’t know that some shirts clearly AREN’T appropriate for my workplace, like my Democratic Party shirts or any of my atheism-related shirts…I get THAT.  But I don’t see an Aspie pride shirt falling in the same not-appropriate-for-work category.  Indeed I strenuously object that there’s anything wrong with it at all.

Anyway, one of these Fridays I am going to wear that shirt to work with pride no matter what my mom says.  Just not this Friday.  This Friday was a  trial run, a test of my NT mom’s reaction mainly.  I found the results of said test disheartening and hurtful.

I spent the rest of the day in a dazed funk.  It didn’t help when my two comic book nerd friends played hookey today from lunch.  One was out for the day, the other I assume had errands to run at lunch again but didn’t email me ahead of time.  So I finished my sandwich and went outside to sit in the nice sun, resting my back against the guardrail of the library outdoor auditorium/theater-space, listening to the Anime ending credits theme songs to the series Genshiken (an anime about anime/manga nerds–very meta), Seasons 1 & 2.

Relaxing at lunch

Relaxing at lunch

I just felt blue the whole day (no pun intended–yes I know my sneakers are blue).  And depressed that I don’t feel accepted, even by my own family at times.  It’s like they wanna deny the reality of my ASD.  Or think I can just “get over it” somehow, as long as I “work” at it.  The reality is, it’s just not that simple.

 

Frustrations in communcation; NT-Aspie, Aspie-Aspie

The scene: our kitchen, in the morning before work. I am eating breakfast, having made my box lunch for the day. (I originally posted this to Facebook the day it happened, fully intending to expand upon it in a later blog post, just now getting around to it)
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“You are so damn rude!”

Mom’s rebuke still echoes in my ears from just a few minutes ago.

It’s like the few books she’s read on Asperger’s left no lasting impression on her. Or that she believes somehow now that I know about Asperger’s myself and what challenges Aspies face in social settings, etc, that I should, with that knowledge, I dunno, somehow be able to stop being Aspie?

I was, admittedly, hurriedly stuffing cereal into my face when mom asked me if I’d seen the special potato chips I’d asked her to buy. My mouth was absolutely full when she enuciated her question. Not wanting to fail to acknowledge this, I managed what I hoped was a sufficiently loud enough closed-mouth “uh huh” but she didn’t hear it. She, not noticing my predicament, asked her question again, assuming I hadn’t heard her. Eager to express my gratitude, I swallowed quickly and managed to blurt out “Yes, I saw them, thank you!” but evidently my tone was “off” again and my mother glared at me with this look of disbelief and disgust and said the above statement that I opened this paragraph with.

My heart sank. At a loss for words myself, I just stared into my cereal bowl, dejected. It’s painful to be so badly misunderstood by one so close to you….by someone who has read about Asperger’s and ought to know better than the average person, but still doesn’t, somehow. #LifewithAspergers
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A Facebook friend, who is also an Aspie, felt moved to reply.  It started out well, but then kind of went off the rails.  Her reply became so long and running off on a tangent that my eyes glazed over and I really lost patience quickly.  I wouldn’t mind her doing this on her own Facebook wall; Sometimes I read her über-long posts, but I do have to power through them at times.  Usually worth the effort though not always.  She’s been through so much crap in her life a lot of what she writes is painful to even just to read about, let alone try to imagine going through oneself.

Aspie community is hard.  Our difficulty in relating to NTs is well known, but we sometimes stumble in communicating with each other as well.  Though we tend to generally understand each other better than any NT, it’s not as though our own interpersonal communication takes place without error or confusion or boundary violations…

I wanted to repost my friend’s replies here and intersperse them with my own comments.  I do feel guilty about my frustrated/angry response.  I wasn’t trying to be mean spirited, just gently mocking at first, though I do admit my anger increased as I tried to read backwards through the thread, failing to comprehend how her later posts had anything at all to do with my original posting…

I also wish she would contribute this kind of writing directly to the blog instead of squirreling it away on Facebook to be read by nobody, or at most only a few oddballs like yours truly.  There are reasons that doesn’t happen, and they are unfortunate.  Still, I’m gonna post what I have access to, as it was posted publicly on my open Facebook wall.  As a courtesy, I am editing the user name to be replaced strictly with initials only.  I will also interrupt these comments to interject my own.  I hope the result is not too confusing.  Maybe if I vary up the fonts it will be clearer who is speaking, etc, and if I can include some clarifying punctuation, etc.

On to my friend’s reply:

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[TKP] I must be missing something unless you are referring to the tone part being an Aspie thing? Is that what you meant?

 I have touched on this before in previous postings, so yes, that is what I meant.

I’m just asking because really this whole scenario could just as easily be an NT scenario, though the tone thing would be an Aspie thing as well.

I notice and enjoy your stories about you and your parents, whether they seem negative or positive. I like the bonding experiences with your mom like the games that y’all play that you’ve written about.

(I don’t recall which ones because I have a huge problem with remembering, understanding, and therefore playing games. It has distanced me and made me feel ostracized many times in my life).

I find that whether you mean to or not, you present the “negative” experience stories in a really humorous way I actually think that your “flat” (not having as much emotion) writing tone makes them even more funny, though I do understand and sympathize with your frustrations.

It is true, do tend to go for “deadpan” humor and utilize it often.  It was unintentional here but if it made you laugh then I feel good to know that.

 

I notice that you sometimes have interactions with your mom (and dad) that are aggravating for you. Your relating stories like this helps me to notice, acknowledge, and accept the fact that interactions like this are “normal” and exist for e/o, not just me.

Whenever I have negative interactions with someone, I freak out, panic, feel a need to run, and experience a swift downward spiral of self-bashing, major self-bashing, and condemnation of the world at large.

 And now I feel like a complete A-hole for losing my patience with the length and meandering nature of these replies.

I can even get to a point where I feel so embarrassed and ashamed that I shut out most in my life. I have “dreams” of running away and hiding in a little house out in the country and never coming back to society, all just from the daily interactions that become negative.

 Been there, done that.  Join the club.

I quit my last job over someone’s constant negativity towards me. It bothered me so much I felt self-destructive. I believe that, for me, it’s all part of being an Aspie, which I had not known I was until the last year.


This is where we differ; Maybe it’s a gender thing, I dunno, but if I had someone in my worklife like that, my attitude would be fuck them, I’m not letting their negativity get me down.  It’s harder when that person is your boss, of course–and I have suffered under two tyrants in very recent memory. But I’m also very determined and maintain an inner attitude of defiance and rebellion.  Always have, always will.

Having not been brought up around people much (out in the country) and in a dysfunctional home only makes this sensitive issue I have more probable as I don’t know what is normal. I figure I’ll be abandoned at the first drop of a hat.

I also have “abandonment issues”; My last therapist forced me to confront this in myself and making me consider that it is part of my personality in part because of forces beyond my control, such as having been adopted.  I didn’t like “going there”, but upon deeper psychological exploration, I had to grudgingly admit there was some uncomfortable truth in what she was saying.  And reading this about my friend makes me feel like even more of a heel and a douchenozzle, since I see now that I compounded to her misery.

However, in these next paragraphs is where my FB friend starts to drift off into left field, never to return.  She doesn’t know my parents but has decided she wants to conduct a lengthy thought experiment about the older generation as she has experienced and observed them through the years.  This belongs on HER wall, not on mine, and that is the source of my anger and frustration at the rest of what follows.

Your mother seems frustrated often, though as I said, I don’t know what’s normal. I can say that from having lived in my current neighborhood (an 800 unit residential town home complex where there’s a dense population of people in a small area with a walking trail and public areas where many people can be observed) in Houston for 20 years, that I’ve seen LOTS of frustrated people from their 40’s up through their senior years.


And I’ve seen older people seemingly content with their lot in life and buoyed by their confidence at having lived a good life and having reached many, if not all of their goals in life.

They must be really frustrated, because it’s written all over their face and in their body language. It is so apparent that people tell stories about it/them.

I can’t say for sure what the problems are. I know that some of it for women are hormonal changes as they get older.

I’ve heard from the neighborhood patrol that many are frustrated with health issues and physical pain.

 Yeah, that can suck–and I know my mom is no spring chicken anymore, but most of her aches & pains are transitory and minor so far.  She has a few health problems but they are being effectively managed so far.

However, I also think that it’s a generational thing too. I can’t speak for anyone or any generation. But, I know my generation was fed a whole hell of a lot of crap about the marvels and perfection of life if one is “good” and if one just “whistles while they work” ; ) ha ha (Snow White).

 Death of the American Dream;  Yes, I know.  I’ve read some Hunter S. Thompson along the way.  Reagan bamboozled the sh*t out of my teen self.  Since my own grandfathers died while I was still quite young, as absurd as it sounds now, Reagan in the White House, in effect, became a kind of surrogate grandfather figure to me.  I also feel betrayed by my society’s promises seemingly made to my generation (Gen X) in our early days.  Things didn’t quite pan out as expected.  I felt betrayed by the Navy when they revoked my NROTC scholarship on physical disqualification grounds–because from my perspective I’d devoted years of loyal service to them in High School NJROTC and now in College NROTC, and none of that counted for crap at the end of the day.  I was bitter, sure.  But it was probably a “blessing in disguise” so to speak.  Dropping out of NROTC made my year abroad in Germany a possibility–and hence was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, I can say with the clarity of hindsight.

There weren’t talk shows until we became an adult, other than Phil Donahue, which was considered “not mainstream” in it’s subject matter. Without the talk shows, we only had advice columns to tell us of life’s troubles. Other than that, reality was swept and hidden under the rug from us.

With limited media, life could be presented in rosey fashion and due to people wanting a rosey life, they were thirsty to believe it.

What I’m getting at is that we were given rosey, perfect images of what we could expect from life, often during times when horrible things were occurring (race riots, assasinations, wars, etc.).

 Even in those day, there were alternatives available like Ramparts and The Nation, if you’re talking 1960s and 70s, or later Probe Magazine.  Now we have the interwebz.

People rose-ified getting married, having babies, being a grandmother, having those golden years and didn’t prepare us for the harshness and often brutality of life.

 I can’t decide if this is your Aspie naivety talking or a well grounded social critique.  I mean, I guess I agree but….how does one prepare, exactly, for dealing with the dicks and self-aggrandizing a-holes of the world one is bound to rub shoulders with.  Is there anything I could or should have done to “prepare” for the back that my most recent ex-boss was probably a borderline low-grade psychopath and slightly sadistic bitch?  I don’t think so.  It was just something I had to learn to “deal” with and resolve to simply outlast her.  Which somehow I managed.  I think her own hubris was finally her undoing.

Therefore, there are many old people whose hearts are broken, dreams unfulfilled, and who don’t feel understood. They are disappointed, sad, grieving over the marvelous life that they were promised that didn’t happen.

 There are many people period who are like this.  Doesn’t justify my mom completely misreading and misinterpreting my actions and language that morning, or holding still quite incorrect misconceptions about ASD’s in general.  Just sayin’.

Your mothers frustrations may have little to do with the little annoyances at your home. There may or may not be something else underneath it all.

 No, I’m pretty sure it has to do with her failing to understand Aspie behavior and putting the onus for “fixing it” on my shoulders alone.  Not a hint of genuine “acceptance”.

I know that the senior citizens in my neighborhood some years ago scoffed and exclaimed, “What golden years????!! All I’m doing is going to the dr”.

They continued: “I belong to a club that plays card and games. We meet several times a week. There started out being 32 of us and now there are 8. I feel like I’m just waiting to die, and wondering which of my friends are going to die next”.

My mother isn’t quite this embittered or helpless.

I’m not sure how old your parents are and if any of this applies, but I just thought that I’d offer it as food for thought.

Because by this point this is more about you exploring your own ideas and being in love with your own pet ideas than it is about genuinely trying to relate to my actual frustrations as I described at the outset as simply an example of the kinds of challenges I face in communicating with my NT adoptive mother.  I could’ve done without the lengthy speculation on the plight of the elderly in the USA in general, thanks very much.

Wednesday at 11:18am · Like

[TKP] I also notice a lot of couples from the older generation. I had always heard of how great it would be to grow old with one’s spouse.

Again, this is now completely about you and far removed from my original posting.  Again, this belongs on YOUR wall, not mine.

However, in my observations of my neighbors, while some might be happily married, some are just miserable but living together due to dependency or due to the brainwashing that you never divorce.

Did you, like, forget that I’m also divorced!?  And that I know you are too?  We both know this experience about “keeping up appearances”, trying to save a failing marriage, an increasingly futile effort at papering over wide differences, etc.  Of course this happens to elderly people as well, why wouldn’t it?  My own parents sometimes snap at each other, but they’ve developed strategies for staying out of each others’ hair and giving each other some space every now and then and it has been a boon for the health of their continued marriage.

The older generation didn’t always have a choice about if they married, who they married, when they married, etc.

Sucks to have been them.  Luckily I’m Gen X and got to enjoy the fruits of the Sexual Revolution, up to and including having a live-in girlfriend 10 years my junior while in grad school.  We cohabited and had a fantastic sex life using birth control, all without the supposed blessings of modern marriage.  We married mainly because of my wife’s religious guilt over our continued “living in sin”, and the fact that I still loved her and didn’t want to break up with her and if marrying her was what it would take to stay in her life then I was prepared to hew that road and did my best.

Wednesday at 11:20am · Like

[TPK] The patrol guys say that many of the old ladies, notorious for reporting anyone and anything as being a problem or a fear for them, not only have health ailments and pain, but are influenced a lot by their medications which can cause their “witchiness”.

 Again, why are you sharing this and what the f*ck does it have to do with anything I said?

I have observed that there are many older women who never come out of their homes, unless they have to. They are hermit-like, often bitter, hurt, sad, disappointed, and/or depressed.

 You’re making some big assumptions there; and people have probably said the same thing about me at different stages of my life where I lived alone and was kind of anti-social.  But I was quite content, thank you very much–I played videogames and watched Anime and was quite happy to keep the real world at arms length, only interacting with the outside world when I wanted to, which was not terribly often.

Being alone in a townhome that has become oversized for them, with no need for much lighting, and often being depressed, they tend to live in almost total darkness.

 Um, okay?

Many women were of the generation that didn’t have choices about what they did in life. They were on the “wife/mommy” track, whether they liked it or not and there weren’t as many conveniences as there are today, so life was harder.

 *bangs head on table in frustration*  oh, gawd, please just can it….yes, yes, whatever.  Don’t care, don’t especially care to listen.  Yes, women of older generations had it tougher and were treated shittier than today.  Also, water still wet and the pope remains astonishingly Catholic.  Or something.

Some women don’t like that, and often whether they did or didn’t, often decided on whether their marriage/life was good or not, based on whether they were the less beaten woman in the neighborhood or whether their husband provided for them or not. That was often the standard.

Again, thank goodness for the Sexual Revolution when enough gutsy women stood up and said FUCK THAT.

Wednesday at 12:25pm · Like

{TKP} The old married women complain that after all those years in the house, raising kids, laboring, and tending to their husband, they wanna get out and go places.

Then go do that.

They say that their husband, who worked all his life, perhaps in an office or something, wants to finally be at home, away from the outside world. The women say that their husband expects their wife to wait on them, hand and foot, with meals, cleaning the house, intimacy, etc.

Newsflash: some husbands are insensitive jerks.  Film at 11.

The woman says that she wants to “be retired” like her husband, not continue to do the work at home that she’s always done. They say that they want to reclaim themselves finally, that raising kids and having a husband was all about taking care of e/o but themselves.

 And some women have the guts to grab life by the reins and break free and do just that.  More power to ’em.  While others would rather sit back and just kvetch about it.  Oy Gewalt!

The men, often dreamed of retirement life, but often feel disoriented, displaced, restless, bored, and disappointed at being retired.

My dad’s retired; I’ve noticed, ok?

Some want to work again, but can’t get jobs. Others reclaim their managerial skills by bossing around their wife, telling her what, when, and how to do things that she has spent her whole life doing and has good reasons for the way that she does things.

 Yeah…?

The man behind my townhome, used to walk, pick up trash as he walked in the neighborhood, and waved at passersby. I labeled him Mr. Good Citizen America.

 Oh gawd, why the f*ck am I even still reading or listening to this?!

I didn’t know him, though, and when I was talking to him once at the pool, he went into a rant for 20 minutes talking about how shitty the teenagers were, the same teenagers I cherish in my neighborhood. I couldn’t help myself, so I “bitched him out” without using bad words

 I often say, “The Kids are alright”.  Because I know that bitching about young people has been a pastime of older generations since at least Socrates. I get it.

Now, he spends all day and night, working in his storage shed. He created a workshop out of it.  That’s wonderful, but the question is, “Did his wife bitch him out of the house, as I’ve heard some women do when they get annoyed with their old husbands bossing them around or does he work out there voluntarily?”

 If you really must know, you could ask him?  But it also begs the question as to why the f*ck you even care in the first place.  What difference does it make?  If you wanna obsess over the lives of virtual strangers, read a good book, or watch a movie or follow a soap opera or a telenovela or an Anime or something…

Is he working out there so much because he doesn’t want to see her or he finds retirement so frustrating or does he just enjoy it so much as a hobby?

Maybe a little from column A, a little from column B?  With a side helping of why the f*ck do you concern yourself with this anyway?  I mean, I wish the dude well, maybe he found some tinkering activity that keeps him occupied.  Maybe he sits in there all day smoking a cigarette brooding over how he doesn’t really love his wife anymore and he can’t see the point of living much longer or whatever.  Just be grateful he’s not directly bugging YOU.

Wednesday at 12:39pm · Like

{TKP}  Money is also a huge issue for seniors, especially if they haven’t prepared and/or have health issues and medications.

This is the line I actually read first going backwards that angered me the most and caused me to post a tl;dr (“teal dear”) graphic I found on Tumblr, I think.  It made me angry because it’s just so random and seemingly unconnected to anything I wrote, just blah blah blah blah and leaving me wanting to flip a table and say “shut the hell up already”.

Image

This person has evidently subsequently blocked me on Facebook–and while I can kind of sort of understand (feeling rejected, embarrassed, etc) I kind of hope she reads this to understand and try to learn from her mistakes.  The problem in dealing with NTs is they assume you know all this already and are just being deliberately dense.  As a fellow Aspie, I’m taking the time to convey back what this person did wrong and where they started to “go off the rails” with respect to expected conversational norms and online Facebook etiquette.  I’m presently trying to relay these sentiments back to her via 3rd party persons whom she has not yet blocked.

Aspie community is hard;  I don’t pretend it to be otherwise.  We are quite capable of getting on each others nerves, pushing each others buttons, etc, just like NT people can be with each other, too.

Joke: what do you get when you put two Aspies together with absolutely no convergent interests/foci?
Answer: Two increasingly frustrated, dueling monologues.
Badumpbump, tiss!!!

Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week–don’t forget to tip the waitstaff….remember, 2 drink minimum…Ladies and gentlemen, I bid you good night.  You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.