The Dead Celebrities Society

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram, Parler, Minds and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Hope to see you there!

You’d probably think that after churning out a new–very heavy–entry on a special day off that normally isn’t one (and I’d just have been promoting an archival entry), I’d give it a rest for a few extra days, right? Well…no, not my style; I’m otherwise sticking to my normal posting schedule, however after such a heavy entry, I decided to do something a little easier to digest….and it has been something on my mind as well, because I do bring it up from time to time, throughout my entries: today, we’re gonna talk about famous names in history, believed to be on the spectrum, but I’m gonna take it a step further, and elaborate on some names that don’t normally get brought up, that I personally believe were, for a myriad of reasons. Before I do, I know you’ll say “Russell, you have no proof of this!” Truth be told, we can’t dig up any of these people and diagnose ’em; all we can go by is what we’ve experienced of their work and contributions to society, and take a guess from there.

I want to start by quickly getting two names out of the way, as their contributions to society are–kinda heading into more controversial territory, philosophically-speaking (one of whom even got a bit of a hiss when I brought the name up on Reddit, in fact):

Thomas Jefferson, and Ayn Rand

I won’t get into their philosophies, and my own opinions of them offhand, but here’s what I will say about each on here (anything further I have to say will be discussed on the social media platforms)….

In the case of Thomas Jefferson, he was notoriously famous for his amazing scholarly writing, and was so efficient in considering as many possible scenarios that it’s quite common knowledge what an important figurehead he was in terms of his work in some of the most important documents of the last few centuries, work that is still celebrated today. As a TV announcer selling you a product would say “but that’s not all!”, as during his presidential term, he would not deliver his State of the Union publicly in front of Congress, instead preferring to send it over to them, and have them read it on their own terms; an amazing writer, but wasn’t as comfortable being a public speaker.

Ayn Rand was a different case, in regard to the public speaking……and I will confess, in her later years, I personally wish she hadn’t. That being said, she had a way of looking at life–as she saw it–“as it is, not as I wish it to be”, and came up with her famous saying “A is A” as a result of this; again, I may discuss more of this on social media, as I refuse to go further into that territory on this blog…but there’s one other reason I think she stuck out as being on the spectrum (including having the stare): during one of her final TV appearances on Donahue, there was a plant in the audience designed to throw her off her game; good lord did it throw her off her game. She thought Donahue would “play fair” toward her, and…..he did not. The plant pretended she used to be a fan, but completely lost faith in her ideology; anyone with enough self-awareness and having basic understanding of social guidelines would’ve known it was a trap; she didn’t. She didn’t, because of the belief that anyone could understand what she was thinking; no, most people don’t, and I’m gonna explain more about it in an entry this Fall. I will just quickly say, if you need proof, feel free to go over to Objectivist message boards at this point; it’s like they’ve delved into a civil war over petty slap fights; it’s the nicest way I can put it.

Now that those two are out of the way, let’s get into some fun ones, shall we?

I’ve already discussed Jim Henson in considerable length here , so let’s talk about some others who absolutely excelled in creativity in the world of art: Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick, Edith Head, Rod Serling, and Ub Iwerks

I confess my knowledge on Mr. Warhol is a bit limited, but from what I know and understand, he very much enjoyed a certain structured routine (which I will be getting further into, in an upcoming entry), had mental comprehensions far beyond those around him–to the point where he made some predictions about the future of social culture that turned out be completely correct, and then of course…..there’s his famous painting of Campbell’s Soup. No, he wasn’t trying to make a statement; he was literally just showing his appreciation and love of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Yes, we do that. For a more personal example, it would be like all the times I elaborate on my love of the antagonist Vigo from Ghostbusters II, or the Trophy Heads from Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree. Seriously, ask anyone who knows me well enough, and they’ll tell you I won’t shut up about ’em. That’s apparently how he felt about Campbell’s Tomato Soup. And now that painting is worth upwords of $10M; you almost have to wonder what an actual painting of Lord Vigo, or the three Trophy Heads would eventually go for if I had a talent for artwork…alas, I do not. Oh well.

Stanley Kubrick….I admit my knowledge is also very limited on this fellow, too; I have seen one or two of his movies (The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket and yes I’m familiar with 2001: A Space Odyssey, though haven’t seen it), but he is known as one of the great directors of his time. An allthatsinteresting.com entry quoted a description of him as ““intense, cool, misanthropic cinematic genius who obsesses over every detail.” What strikes me the most, however, is something else the article said about him: that he was almost never happy unless he was behind a camera, with his words being: ““I’m happy – at times – making film. I’m certainly unhappy not making films.” When I hear that, I’m simply reminded of what I said here and here, honestly.

Edith Head was a legendary costume designer in Hollywood; her attention to detail was so good, she won numerous awards for her work over the years, to the point where one of her final projects was a contract to do uniforms for the United States Armed Forces, I shit you not! “Ok Russell, so….how the hell would you know about her, otherwise? Why would we honestly care? She did good work; great for her” Well……I know about her the same way you do, that’s why! See, she’s so legendary in the industry, a contemporary Disney character with a huge cult following is based on her, including in likeness; perhaps you’ve heard of her: Edna Mode, from The Incredibles? I.e. “NO CAPES!”

Mr. Rod Serling I’m sure you’re familiar with due to the name of a very popular “horror/thriller” series he did in the 1960s known as the Twilight Zone….a show that no matter how many times they attempt to remake it, make it into a movie, or whatever…it just doesn’t hold up to the original, and it’s not a surprise why. First off, listen to Rod Serling’s opening and closing words during each episode; you can hear the depth in what he’s trying to get across, even if he does have to truncate it for a short TV episode to appeal to the masses; even the way he looks at you has the intensity (to me) of someone on the spectrum. So, we’ve got a show that no revivals have ever held up to the original work, and in part due to how articulate and diligent the show’s creator was; anything else, you might be wondering? How about the fact that the man was a chain smoker, due to the constant stress of dealing with TV executives who didn’t have his grasp and understanding for creativity, and all the concessions he had to make to keep his work up to par, while still sticking to the then-strict standards of TV?

Finally for today, we get to a lesser-known man who had a major impact in Hollywood, in the world of art…but you likely know him better for the man he worked with, and their legendary creation: Ub Iwerks

Ub Iwerks was Walt Disney’s right-hand man almost from the beginning; and by “beginning”, I mean long before anyone even knew who Walt was….and back when they were feuding with every distributor over contracts, known to mankind. Ub Iwerks is the reason you even know the Mouse the House was Built By. Ub didn’t create the idea for Mickey, but he drew him in the style that we’ve all known, ever since. Oh, but don’t take my word for it; you wanna know how good his artwork was? It was so good, he got fed up with a lot of the grandstanding Walt would do at parties and events, and went off on his own to do his own cinematic shorts….and the shorts are gorgeous. Chances are though, you haven’t seen any of ’em; why, you may ask? For a few reasons, at least one of relating back to another reason I believe he was on the spectrum:

The main reason being that the man just did not understand the comedic timing beats the way Walt did, so as gorgeous as the art and animation are, they’re not the easiest to sit thru, which brings me to another major problem….

You know how Song of the South is a highly controversial work of Walt’s to this day, in my opinion because it went against every other factor that made all his timeless works so popular with the masses? Walt got lucky in the sense that quality was so important to him, he usually went with work that could be viewed timelessly, and by all audiences, and on a romantically ideological level; something our “emotions” wanted to enjoy. When Ub went controversial….let’s just say he made Song of the South look like Snow White, in comparison. Many of his shorts have been long taken out of circulation, due to changing sensibilities of the times, including one I had the “pleasure” of sitting thru–“Little Black Sambo” ; I don’t care if your mind goes there, you’re not that far off; it’s bad. Again, what makes it worse is that due to his inability to understand comedic timing beats that the masses could sit thru, it’s not funny, and you just can’t get over the *ahem* sensibilities of the times the whole time you’re watching it.

In the end, Ub’s works independent of Disney wound up faring so poorly, he did his best to work things out with his former partner, and continued to not only do artwork for the House of the Mouse, but even did work in Imagineering on the theme parks til the end of his days.

So, that’s our fun stroll for this installment of historical figures on the spectrum; I am gonna discuss Alan Turing, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla, along with many others in time….though I confess part of the reason I didn’t with this one was that they’re more commonly known on the spectrum, but they still deserve proper noting. That being said, there’s another legendary historical figure strongly believed to be on the spectrum…and I know because I found out about him recently on Twitter, and I will be diving into discussing him very, very soon……

Vaccine Debate: The Ballad of Lou Prima

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog!  I’m also now on Minds and Parler. Hope to see you there!

Normally, this weekend would simply be getting one of my archival entries promoted/circulated, but being that this is one of my “floating holiday” things thru my job (so I’m off for the day), the intended significance of the day in my country (I’m gonna get into it) , and a piece that was shared on Twitter recently, I’ve….been in kind of a fighting mood to get this out there; honestly, I had half a mind to post this when I first started doing the Autism Sensory entries…..but it was late, I’d just gotten home from work, I was getting tired, and someone from our community actually “talked me down from the tree”, and told me to ruminate on it a bit, instead, and I’m glad she did. By the way, I’ve mentioned her before, for those interested, just never by name; her name is Ashleigh Blandin; I believe she lives in Colorado. You can thank her for my knowledge of Autism Awareness Month, giving me the gusto I needed to get this piece working properly, contributed strongly to my very first major entry, inspired this one, and now I’ve been given permission to properly credit her, for the world to see. So Ash, there you go; thank you for your continued contributions to the blog; love ya!

So what was it that she had to “talk me down from the tree” about, you ask? Also….why do I bring up Lou Prima, you may wonder? I know you’re thinking “(sigh) lemme guess Russell, he was Autistic too, you think?” Honestly….I’d have to look more into him on that one; no…..there’s another reason I’m bringing him up, but…I’ll get to that in a bit. Let us first get into the crux of the two things that motivated me to do this entry from the get-go: a response to this entry, which entirely missed the point of how I was trying to use it as emphasis for what followed (by a school teacher, no less; yes I’m being petty right now; just deal with it….I’ll explain more later), and a recent article on Twitter, shared thru the Autism channels, from TheHill.com; it was an opinion piece regarding some thoughts by Dr. Andrew Zimmerman –supposedly a pro-vaccine advocate–in regards to why he saw it necessary to reopen the debate/discussion about a possible linkage between vaccines and Autism. Not only did I read that entry, but also one that followed (unfortunately, I can’t remember where it was from; I didn’t retweet it, so it wasn’t saved on my feed) emphasizing Autism as some “mutation” of our DNA (WE’RE THE X-MEN, PEOPLE; WOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!)

I wanna get the “genetic mutation one out of the way first, for one simple reason: it was like there was a brief mention of Autism just thrown in there to get people in the door, and virtually nothing else at all was said about it, whatsoever. Interestingly enough, it also followed a pattern regarding the piece from TheHill, and that pattern (and I’m gonna talk about patterns, very soon) was confirmation bias. I was hoping to put this portion toward the end of the entry, but….you know what? I’ll come back to it later, but I’ll also elaborate on it here. If there’s one prevailing mentality I still see throughout the Autistic community–and I’ve elaborated on it several times before , it’s that the public mindset about Autism being some mental, crippling illness is so strong, it currently has a very heavy stranglehold on our community as well; it’s why so many willingly accept the idea that they’re disabled, crippled, mentally ill, all that.

Now…..I stated in my last entry that I may have found an inherent flaw in the argument of Dr. Zimmerman–and in truth, the entire debate itself as it now stands, but let me first put–in his own words–his argument in favor of keeping the discussion open:

““I explained that in a subset of children, vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation did cause regressive brain disease with features of autism spectrum disorder,”

Did you catch it? Did you see the flaw? My money is on you completely glossed over it; if you’re not on the spectrum, it’s ok….your brain may not be wired to pick up on it. If you are on the spectrum, ya probably haven’t been nurtured enough properly, and/or really want that “sweet sweet approval” that you’ll never actually get, from your others. Lemme lay it out for ya:

He mentioned that simulations of vaccines caused brain disease with features of Autism Spectrum “disorder”.

“Ok Russell, what’s your point? He proved that there is indeed some link!” WRONG! Honestly, he might as well have just summed up the entire entry in 4 words: Nothing New to Report

All he did was mention features commonly associated with being Autistic, but…..as I’ve discussed many times on here–including in several entries linked above (and you can even ask this in several communities on social media), it’s a spectrum for a reason, and just because these features are mostly noticed in Autistic people doesn’t automatically mean they experience them because they’re Autistic. As the popular phrase goes (though in my opinion, it’s not strong enough of an emphasis): Correlation does not equal causation. All it means is that these are features commonly associated with people on the spectrum, but honestly…..with how little is understood about our community thus far, there could be something even deeper going on with ’em not even related to Autism at all; besides, it’s noticed more often because it’s usually in people who get diagnosed on the spectrum from the get-go. Seriously, all they have to say is “we have nothing new to report at this time”, and pretty much every word of that would be more accurate and less reactionary than half the shit they keep feeding us in the news over it.

But….in my opinion, they don’t want accuracy, you know why? They want something else; no one is gonna say it, but I will; let’s cut the shit. There’s one single, solitary reason the vaccine debate even ever became a thing (and I don’t mean because it was pushed by hottie Jenny McCarthy): you want us to be “normal”

Now now…I know you won’t say it, because it’s not proper/PC, even so far as to give me the “what is normal?” mantra, but who are we kidding? You don’t understand the Autistic mind almost at all at this time, have very little desire to ask us, and try to hear us out on our own level of comprehension (which I’m gonna get to), and it’s easier just to try to get something like “the vaccine” thing in a reactionary way to create concern, and stir up the public for bullshit funding. Ya been pushing a lock-step “one size fits all” agenda now for nearly a century, and who are we to try to even offer a slight variation on that (apparently LGBTQ community often also being highly associated with the spectrum in many cases, not withstanding)? That’s why the school teacher was egging me on about my comment about vaccines and Autism in the comments on Reddit, and this is why I brought up Mr. Lou Prima:

Lou Prima was a legendary jazz musician in our country, best known as the voice of King Louie in Disney’s “Jungle Book”. What’s my point, you’re wondering? His big musical number in the movie is “I Wanna Be Like You”. In fact, while I was thinking about this entry at work, it was King Louie that popped in my mind, and I suddenly started thinking about this song, and that was the moment I came up with the title; hell, even Agent Carter referenced the song, when a character says toward the end of the first season “I wanna walk like you, talk like you….” (and Christopher Walken did a glorious rendition in the live-action remake). You want us to be like you, so you can feel at ease with the world around you, and you no longer have to put in the effort to find ways to make it better and more efficient; stagnation is fine, so long as everyone is on the same page. Gee….ever heard of Eugenics? All I keep thinking over that is the Stepford Wives, The Puttermans, the Enzyte commercials for natural male enhancement, Jay North’s Dennis the Menace series, the boring-as-shit Lassie series from the 50s, and the list goes on (as discussed in an entry, linked above). Now you see why Ashleigh had to talk me down from the tree, that night, when I got home? I know what you’re gonna say, too: “Russell, that’s not fair; we don’t think that at all! We just…” And I’ll say it again, myself: either you’re lying to me, or you’re lying to yourself, either way, you’re lying.

Worth noting, here’s another thing to consider about those “similarities” that Dr. Zimmerman talks of, and the main reason I told Ashleigh how glad I was that she talked me down from the tree, that night:

I did an entry on stimming, during Autism Awareness Month, and at the time I confessed I wasn’t entirely sure why we did it; well, halfway thru last month I came up with a realization about why it’s so prominent in us, and I was going to save it for another entry, but I think it fits nicely into this one: stimming could be– in part– how we “retain control” of ourselves, so to speak; not to get completely lost from ourselves, a sense of familiarity, especially when we find ourselves stressed out, and in often times in unfamiliar/uncomfortable situations. I bring this up because, throughout history, many stereotypes, routines, and traditions we attribute to certain scenarios were brought on thru a method of “survival” as it were; by using what we had at our disposal to get thru this or that period, without the comforts and modern conveniences that we know today.

Have you ever seen the movie It, in fact? And I mean the first part, not that terrible second part; hell even the first portion of the miniseries…..well, we identify so well with the Losers Club–as they call theirselves– because they’re in a situation they can’t conveniently just leave behind, and they have to be resourceful, and use what’s at their disposal to overcome Pennywise, and emerge victorious. Well, even handshakes developed for that reason, as did many other common social customs, along with holiday rituals (kinda like the one being celebrated in the USA today, which I will discuss shortly!) all developed for that very reason: symbolism, celebration, and using what was at our disposal to achieve a goal that was otherwise believed out of our control.

The Autistic community not only has a very, very limited support network (thank god we have each other), but the world at large still barely understands us, and as a result, isn’t willing to offer us all that much assistance at this time, outside of well, here’s how we can make you more like us…, instead of looking to possibilities of all we’ve shown we can accomplish and achieve with the proper support and nurturing. I’m always told by people who get frustrated and impatient with me “you’re a very smart guy”, and as I’ve stated before “what the hell does that mean to me, coming from people who either aren’t, or don’t even know how to proceed properly with nurturing me to use it?” Maybe once we’re better nurtured, those traits won’t be so commonly associated with us the way they are now, did’ja ever think of that? It would sure as hell first help to engage with us more, and learn more from us, as opposed to just assuming you can figure out everything from observation; cause you’ve clearly gotten into our heads to understand us with no problems; as even another buddy of mine in the community, Daniel Wolkoff (who btw, I’d like to add is very vocal in his philosophical beliefs, and we value and respect each others input highly, despite not agreeing on several facets) even stated this to me, as I was talking to him and Ashleigh about Dr. Zimmerman’s testimony: “Autistic people know a lot more about Autism than Non-Autistic people.” Take note, he’s right.

So lemme now bring this entry to a close by explaining why I decided to post this entry specifically today; what significance, you wonder, could this entry possibly have with my country’s national holiday? Very simple really: let’s put this pointless petty and unnecessary debate to rest finally, let us declare independence from this obvious desperation to try to get us to be “normal”, and instead follow in the idea of freedom from it, to pursue the true capabilities that the Autistic mind has to offer; to nurture and capitalize on those capabilities to their fullest extent, for the betterment of all.

 

Autism Sensory Part 3: Going Thru the Ceiling

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog!  Hope to see you there!

With Parts 1 and 2 under my belt, as Lionel Ritchie once sang “OOOOO, WHAT A FEEEEEEEEEEELIIIIIIIIIIIIN’…..”, and continued with one of my favorite songs that yes, that title is paying homage to! So, now we’re on Part 3 of this topic; I will likely do future installments, but I’ll need time to think about them, and have other content planned for quite some time (you know this month’s already, if you have me on Facebook and Twitter). Well, the idea for this one came from a post in an Autism group I’m in on Facebook, and as I said last time…..it’s a facet of sensory that admittedly doesn’t really bother me the way it can bother others, but….that’s part of the spectrum. Nonetheless, I do experience it enough that I can provide some of my own context…but the fun challenge (and I do emphasize fun, literally) is gonna be diving in with my own understanding, and in my wording that you all love so much, to explain to you what it’s like for others who experience it to the degree I do not. I’ve already discussed the heightened senses I have with both taste and sounds, now we’re gonna get into where the heightened senses affect physical contact. In a way, you could say that physical contact and taste are somewhat similar, but in these contexts, they cover different territories; if you were thinking for a minute “Russell, why did you even bring that up?” I just like to cover all bases, when possible, especially if they’re already on my mind; it’s how it works, folks.

As I myself do not experience the heightened sense of physical contact to the degree many others on the spectrum do, this was one of those cases I decided to get more input from my fellow brethren about. Here’s the basics about what they told me, and then I’ll tell you where I stand with all of it:

First of all, it appears when they know someone is about to “physically embrace” them in some way–whether it be as minimal as handshake, playful tap, high-five, or even full on hugging, and…more— they seem to experience the same sense of impending “dread”, anxiety, and “unknown territory” vibe I’ve described in these entries. They don’t know when it’s coming, so they’re unable to mentally “prepare” for it/set themselves in the “mode”, and it may last a while, it may not. If brief contact bothers them, they can neither prepare for it, nor get used to it. If continuous contact bothers them, it won’t really even matter. Some have even reported to me that they can still feel the “sensation” of the contact even after it’s happened….and in fairness to those folks, my experience with both taste and sound is very similar to that. Like…you know how you may eat or drink something, and mention an aftertaste you can’t get rid of? Imagine feeling that physically, or even in an auditory way after you’ve head a really loud bang; that’s the best way this can be described.

One particular fellow in the community said these exact words; I tried to alter them to the best of my ability, as I haven’t had time to approve the use of his commentary, and because I like wording things in my own way, but…..it’s hard because I think he summed it up so nicely:

“when I don’t want to be touched, and I know it’s coming, I can feel myself withdrawing into myself trying to get away from the touch. It’s like I know an extremely unpleasant sensation is coming and them trying to get away from it without offending people by physically running away from it.” Incidentally, this sounds extremely similar to what it’s like for me with fireworks, pyrotechnics, balloons, and all that jazz! He also added that there are times he doesn’t mind the physical contact, as long as it’s people he knows and trusts….but even from those people, it can be a roll of the dice really.

One other person mentioned it’s not a problem with physical contact per se, but where the contact is, and how. For instance, she’s fine with things like hugs, but can’t stand her face being touched, or being stroked and rubbed repeatedly……with the caveat that it may not bother her if she’s not feeling overwhelmed with something else (and we all know how most of you non-Autistic folks seem to be able to help us with that at this time, right?) . Honestly though, the one that grabbed my attention was the one that told me why she hates being touched: she talks about her nerves prickle where contact is made, and then going numb when it’s over….and the effort she has to put in to shake off the feeling of it; she says she can do it–unconditionally and joyfully too–, but only when she’s head over heals romantically involved with someone, and that hasn’t happened to often in her life (she’s slightly younger than I am, btw).

So, where do I fall in all of this, you may be wondering? First of all….I confess, there’s one particular experience with physical contact I will never forget (relax, I’m not going into detail about my sex life……or make some joke about it or something): my final shift at my previous job, one of my now-former coworkers asked if she could hug me, and if it would bother me. I told her not at all, and we embraced in a hug, as she was gonna miss me a lot. In my case though, my sensory issues aren’t as strong in terms of physical contact, but I do feel it enough that I at least understand where these fine folks are coming from. Take note of the title of this piece; well, see…..as anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m very jumpy. People always ask me “oh sorry, did I scare you?” Scaring me, people, is not easy to do; trust me. Honestly, it wasn’t until talking to the folks in the community that I realized why I was so jumpy; I thought it was always because of how deep in thought I usually am, and the way I’m pulled out of that, but the more I heard my brethren, and looked back on my own life….it’s definitely the sensory thing.

Now, the most popular case of getting me to jump is “surprising” me; you might think that this should actually be filed under Part 2 (above), but the reason I decided to put it here is because this has also happened when I was tapped or something while involved in another task (and again, it gave a fantastic title for this entry; believe me….everything else I had planned was either not eye-catching, or….*ahem* could’ve been easily flagged….). In many cases, when I’m so ultra-focused on something, and someone “calls” out to me, or surprises me, you will not only see me jump, you’ll hear me semi-scream “OHJESUS!”, and…..they get a good laugh out of it; you can ask my supervisor, she and some former coworkers had a ball with that one. Once that happens, I’m quickly trying to catch my breath, and mentally “re-assess” the situation and my surroundings. Again, this can happen both from when someone calls/shouts out to me in that type of moment, or even using physical contact to acknowledge me, the latter case just doesn’t bother me the way it bothers many others on the spectrum.

So, what’s the sensation like for me, you may wonder? When I receive physical contact, a “warm embrace” may come, but…..it depends on the context, and it also takes some time to get there; the first thing I feel is the pressure of that contact. I can feel the physical contact, and it often feels less like an embrace, and more of a sense of being “mandatory”, like the person doesn’t even really want to do it, but they have to for whatever reason; it just doesn’t, essentially, feel like it’s out of a sense of positive, desired embrace essentially, if that makes sense. It’s those times (and they’re usually the majority), I want to get it over with as quickly as possible to do what I have to do. Otherwise, the longer the contact is there, I can feel the person sweating, and I can get the sense of their “wanting” to have that contact as much as I do…as it were. Honestly, that’s what I think bothers me about it most, again that’s me; is it what you read from the testimony of the others in my community? If not, either that’s not how they felt about it, or they aren’t used to articulating it to people….because no one has bothered to listen. Either way, here’s hoping I’m filling in some blanks for you on it.

I openly admit to wondering if the reason I’m not as bothered by it is because I just got so used to it, as it were; you wind up physically interacting with people all the time, so it’s not a special occasion; whereas balloons, pyrotechnics, fireworks, firearms, and select foods–are not necessarily an every day thing, and are far easier to avoid than people, in a way. Truth be told, for many on the spectrum–and I will be diving into this detail in future entries–avoiding people is far more common, depending on your living circumstances, so that too may have something to do with it for them. In a way, I almost think a lot of it comes down to consistency and routine, really, which in fairness I did state in one of the entries linked above. It also still comes down to actually listening to us, and hearing us out about what our needs are, our comfort zones, and all that….and giving us good incentives for willing to look outside of them (yeah…that latter part….heh heh heh heh heh).

You know what? I’m gonna admit it:

I thought this entry would be a thousand times harder to nail than it was, but I’m glad it worked out as efficiently as it did. As always if you have any questions, feel free to let me know, and I’ll either dive into it for you in a chat or something, or in a future entry.

Until next time, get your groove thang on by “Dancing on the Ceiling”, and next time…..it’s time to discuss……The Vaccine argument, and the fatal flaw (I believe) I discovered in it…..

Autism Sensory Part 2: The Big Kaboom

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Hope to see you there!

Part 1 of this series, here.

I actually first touched on this topic a little bit waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back around the time I first began the blog, at the beginning of this year, but the thing with me is…..I’m a very results-oriented guy, as I’ve mentioned before, and as the gears in my head are always turning, I’m always thinking about entries I’ve already done, and asking “did I do my entry justice, and make my point well enough?” If not, I can always go back, and discuss it further, and here we are as a result; I was originally gonna do this entry just as simply a sequel to that one, but realized…Auditory Sensitivity is part of the  spectrum of sensory issues on….well, the Autism Spectrum, and as a result…..perhaps a series on it would suffice better! There’s a considerable amount I did not delve into last time (it was early on, and I was still trying to feel my way around everything, understandably), so….I decided what better time to get into it than as we get closer and closer to the 4th of July, here in the United States, when everyone and their Mom is shooting off fireworks? Oh, and side note: yes, fireworks are legal to purchase in my state, that’s why there’s a photo of a display for a popular brand up on Instagram and Pinterest…..and it’s also why I don’t think the Clerks animated series went over as well as it could’ve. Anyway……let’s get to Marvin the Martian’s favorite topic, shall we?

My own issue with loud, sudden noises goes back almost as far as I can remember….with two particular examples being of major note in the beginning:

Balloons and fireworks

My very first major memory dealing with fireworks came in 1986; my parents and I went to some nearby gathering for the spectacle, and my Dad told me that it had to get really dark first for the display…..and of course the anticipation and not being prepared (even more so when I’m 4 here), looking back, probably made what was about to unfold even worse. Oh, the display was gorgeous…..too bad I couldn’t enjoy any of it, cause it was so loud, I started freaking out….and in the process ruining it for everyone else at the event; I know I started covering my ears, and running around, screaming about how loud it was, and my Dad took me to the car to sit in, with the window open for air, while the display continued for everyone else. I actually apologized for ruining other peoples’ time, several years back on Facebook–for anyone who may’ve been there, though from that point on after that event, every 4th of July I just went to my Grandparents’ place, slept over that night, and watched the display on TV with them; no, I wasn’t inconveniencing them, they didn’t care to go out for it either; they preferred to just watch the Macy’s Spectacular on TV instead. And yes, I did this for years on end. Thing is…..the Fourth of July spectacular wasn’t the only one I had to consider: there was this local fair in the town of Madison that I grew up in, and to conclude their fair for the year, they’d do the fireworks display (come to think of it, that may’ve been the one where this happened; I was 4, I don’t entirely remember). For that one, my parents and I simply opted to go out to see a movie that night, and I looked for a blockbuster that would be as long as possible to cover the bases of getting out of our place before they started, and ending long after they ended. Honestly…..one of my favorite examples with that situation was seeing Die Hard II, and one that didn’t work out so hot was seeing the Lion King; damn good movie, but probably wasn’t long enough, and we got home as the fireworks display was happening. I’ll tell you how I deal with all of it now toward the end….because around that time I want to tell you about something else I had to endure in all of this, too. However, I also brought up balloons….

Yeah, balloons look fun and harmless…until someone pops one; it’s loud; really, really loud….and sudden. Ya can’t prepare for it, and balloons are one of those things that are inevitably gonna break; they’re designed to look nice…until they break. One of the most notable examples of dealing with balloons when I was growing up……my family (parents, grandparents, Uncle, Aunt, and cousins) would spend like a week, each summer, at Beach Haven, down in South Jersey. There was this amusement park area we’d go to called Fantasy Island, and there was one particular attraction in particular I’ll never forget…and my cousins utterly kicked ass at it: a game where you’d shoot water into a clown’s mouth. The clown head was connected to this thing that would inflate a balloon, and when ya shot enough water in, the balloon would pop, and whichever contestant could get the most of ’em, and the fastest, won the game. It was apparently one of very few “non-rigged” carnival games. Of course I wanted to play, and at the time, be good at something. Unfortunately, the whole time I was busy with either my hands over my ears, or my fingers in them (at times, even very vocally freaking out) cause of how loud the sudden burst was. Instead, I was simply an onlooker, watching as everyone else around me kicked ass at everything in life, and even got to see my cousins win a few prizes, and god I was so jealous (yeah, what’s the tally on that, so far?). Interestingly enough, I would even join a friend of mine down the shore a few years later with his family, and we went to the amusement park; I was holding my fingers in my ears the entire time, and when I ordered food, I’d quickly take my fingers out, eat, put them back in, drink with my fingers in my ears, wash, rinse, and repeat….well, mainly if I was anywhere in the vicinity of that game. Otherwise, I felt a little more at ease. Yeah, even his relatives had opinions about all of it; who didn’t, really?

I had plenty more experiences with balloons throughout my life, and did everything imaginable to avoid them, at every turn; I’d like to continue that sentence with “to the mock and ridicule of my others”, but…..what didn’t constitute that, at the time for me? There was even one particular experience I’ll delve into…but not yet, because it happened later on, and coincided with another huge event kinda-sorta, so I’ll hold of til later to bring it up….

So, now you know about the two biggest offenders throughout my life, in regard to loud sudden sounds…..and I’m sure that this likely applied to many people reading this now too, before I delve further into analysis about all of it though, and how it fits into our our sensory and experiences, I want to discuss a few more notable examples, but because it also ties in to more things I’ve discussed previously….

The first more “minor” offender has easily been thunder storms; do I even need to tell you how loud thunder can get? I think the frustrating thing about thunder storms is that…..not every crash of thunder is guaranteed to be loud, so it’s kinda like playing a game of roulette….but then again, the thunder isn’t all ya usually have to deal with, but also the risk of getting hit by lightning. Funny thing though: thunderstorms can actually be very beneficial in getting fireworks displays canceled; so in a way, a lesser threat to our eardrums takes out a greater one.

There was one particular event, in fact, with thunderstorms that happened in my tweens, I think….might’ve been a few years before that, and…..it’s something that contributed to the mentality I spoke of here: I was at a summer camp, and we went to some swimming excursion or some sort…and a thunder storm started, and of course I went into my panting, covering my ears, freaking out, etc thing……and at one point one of the people working there told me “it’s over”, and I trusted them, and just then another huge crash of thunder happened. On an interesting note, though, for a time in my teens and 20s, thunder storms didn’t bother me as much, and it was thanks to my first set of guinea pigs; guinea pigs are…kinda sensitive to everything, in that way. Well, they were right next to the window in my room, and when a major bout of thunder hit, I looked over to them, and they just gave me a look as if to say “….what?”, and I guess that support gave me a level of solace in dealing with them that for the longest time I hadn’t otherwise.

I’m now going to get into two events that happened somewhat later in life, and to speed this up a bit, to get to the “effects” and “solutions” area of this entry, semi-combine then; just bear with me:

Memorial Day was usually an event where my parents and I would go visit some family friends in a neighboring county; these folks by the way were responsible for my first set of guinea pigs. I would always hang out with their son, who was always playing with his synthesizer, and creating these short horror films, featuring a character he called “John G. Horn” (who I’d like to add I played the younger version of, horribly). Anyway, so we went to the Memorial Day parade, and I’ll never forget, he tells me “this is the entire parade”, and I was thinking “just this car coming up, really that’s it?” Well….probably not how he meant it because shortly after that car coming up, some soldiers came up, and fired guns into the air; do I need to even tell you how I reacted at this point? Seriously, the patience people had with me, and when they didn’t even know; I know I should be simply thankful for it, but I still kinda feel bad for ruining their fun. On another interesting note about this though, when their son had his Bar Mitzvah, I stayed outside of the main reception the whole time, due to all the balloons, and all his friends wanting to look “tough” and break them. Even his Mom years later, knowing now about my diagnosis said “yeah, I can definitely see it, looking back”.

I’d like to mention that this is (obviously) part of the reason I never looked into employment as a law enforcement officially, understandably. And while I have already delved into guns and cannons here (including linked above), there was one event with cannons and pyrotechnics that takes the cake for me, to this day, and I did discuss it a little bit in a previous entry, linked above, but I’d like to go into more detail, as I already mentioned it was connected to something else…

I want to set a major “stage” for you here:

now we’re heading into my being in my early tweens/teens, so I’ve had enough years of experience and understanding under my belt at this point to have better preparation going into most of these situations; I can ask as many questions as I want, try to get properly supplied/equipped, etc. While I’m doing all of that, however, there’s a certain phrase people keep throwing around at me, and….I’m not gonna lie, even thinking about it now pisses me off to no end; and in a way, is almost worse than the enhanced sensory of the loud “boom”: being egged on by everyone that “I’m afraid of fireworks/balloons/pyrotechnics”. My parents and I were no strangers to going to counselors, so we could work on things at home (yeah looking back, I’m sure it did us absolutely wonders…..), and even they thought I was just afraid, and even threatened to do a whole session with me, bringing in balloons, and breaking them in my vicinity; I’m not making that up as a joke, but I also bring it up as it leads further into two major instances…..

So, for some reason, 5th and 6th grade were where my “sensory” really started picking up in ways it hadn’t before; maybe that’s just the time when our bodies are starting to “refine” everything, as it were; in fairness, a lot is going on in us at that time of our lives, so our bodies are trying to figure out what’s important what isn’t, priorities and all that. First, we had an assembly at my school where first they blew up a helium balloon fucking huuuuuuuuuuuge, and then put a lighter to it; I didn’t cover my ears, as I thought maybe part of it was fear; I quickly learned it absolutely was not. Then they brought out a gong, and all I could think was “oh god, they’re gonna bring my classmates up, and they’re gonna bang on that thing til the cows come home”; I quickly ran to one of the teachers in panic, and then buried my head in their chest when it went off. You….you think that helped with my mock and ridicule any? You know…in a time when it was only about to get even worse, due to all the changes in our body, and people looking for anything to take notice off their own self-loathing?

So then…..the big event before I was officially out of Elementary School: a Broadway play. Apparently every year, our class was taken to see Les Miserables, and they’d prepare us by playing the music, showed us one of the film versions, discuss it, all that. I’m not gonna lie, all these years later, I love that soundtrack, and despite what I’m about to get into, it’s easily been one of the most influential works, musically in my life and to my development! I asked all the questions: any pyrotechnics, is it loud? All that jazz. I asked my teachers, I asked the principal, I even spoke to a hearing specialist who mentioned I have a sensitivity to sound, straight to my parents, and everyone reassured me I’d be just fine; the cannons just smoked a little bit, but otherwise, I could just get some cheap earplugs to be on the safe side, I’d be fine; I was not fine……not even remotely. 

One of the biggest things I’ve learned to ask people about earplugs, ever since that disastrous event is whether or not the earplugs are for normal hearing, or something stronger? Cause I can tell you for a fact….what I had in my ears was for normal hearing….cut out a good 15% of the noise, tops. You know how good 15% is? Look at it this way: does getting 15% off a really expensive item at a store get you really excited? No, it doesn’t, you say? Because it’s only a little more than 10%? See where I’m going with this?

Not only were the pyrotechnics loud, and I was not prepared for them at all, but many years later, my parents went to the show as well, and even they admitted they were very loud, but what didn’t help was that the enclosed theater produced an echo effect. So again, the earplugs helped a little; it was better than absolutely nothing, but not by a whole lot. Oh……to this day, I remember the experience as if it were just yesterday; yes, I was having one of my freak-outs, but this time, it was far worse; I was stuck in a seat in the audience; I couldn’t run away and move somewhere else. I curled up in my seat, started crying, and screaming “make it stooooooop!!!!” ; oh did my classmates have a field day with me…..until literally the school year ended! I was so upset about the experience when I got home, I locked myself in my room that night, and my Grandma came by, and had to “talk me down from the tree” over all of it. Oh…..wanna add insult to injury? My teacher then said to the class, a few days later to “help” me, “Russell has sensitive ears”. I hate to say it, even I couldn’t blame the class for laughing their asses off at that one, I face-palmed when I heard that one, but on top of that…..I lost trust in my principal. He’s long since passed away, so it doesn’t matter now….but it seemed at almost every turn on my journey in dealing with loud sudden bursts of noise, I was given phony reassurance/lies, and then mocked when that reassurance fell thru. Interestingly enough though, I did watch the recent film adaptation featuring Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman some time ago, and while the movie is often panned, I loved how–with the directing–I could actually follow it this time, and understood what the hell was even going on; much harder to do when yer pulled out of the experience by really, really fucking loud pyrotechnics, lemme tell ya!

Before I get to my modern understanding, and solutions I’ve worked with, I wanted to quickly mention that yes, as a result of all those experiences, for years I always felt uneasy around balloons, guns, fireworks-potential displays, etc. Dealing with my own anxiety, and discussing all this with people–not to mention my daily in-take of OTC meds have also helped me a bit, as well as growing, and understanding the entire situations far better.

Now, that’s been my personal experience when dealing with the sensory in terms of sound; from what I also hear, it’s also not out of the question to be bothered by sound in other ways, including even up to the point of the sound of running water from shower-heads, for some people! Again, it’s a spectrum; not everyone is gonna be bothered by all the same things. It was yet another thing my Mom had absolutely no problems with, for instance. Hell, that running shower-head or live concert show with the continuous loudness could really bother someone else on the spectrum in ways it wouldn’t bother me as much. In the case of a concert though, I’m not as bothered because of that continuity of the high volume, rather than the sudden burst; I still prefer not to go to events like that; the anticipation levels, said consistent loudness….I don’ know, the whole experience just doesn’t sound like something I would particularly find all that appealing; I keep thinking that it’s more of a “social” experience, and that’s where people get all excited for it, and of course…the social concept doesn’t register for me in ways it does for most others.

Now, here’s a few really fun things I’ve been able to do with my “enhanced” hearing:

As I stated back in my first entry, linked above, my former classmates had a ball ridiculing me for years on end due to…well, everything, really. However, even after that time I owned everyone in my class, their own insecurities still wanted to toy with me, and see what would get me to tick; so, one of the classmates in Study Hall decided to “test” me to see what I could hear, and how low he could go with the pitch. I kept telling him, yes, I could hear it, and at one point, he said, “I didn’t even say anything”, and the whole class erupted into laughter….until I followed it up with “I heard your lips move”, which created the most pleasing “loud” sound to my ears conceivable, when all their mouths dropped the floor over it! Even in recent years, I’ve managed to use that enhanced hearing for seemingly small, but important moments; for instance, my coworker and I had to drive to a patient’s place to deliver something one weekend, and he knocked on the door to their location; he didn’t hear anything, but I heard they were coming to the door, and let him know. He even expressed his surprise about my ability to hear it to our boss! In another instance, there’s an area of the hospital that’s kind of the “spin of a wheel”, so you could say; one night, they might have me do it, one night someone else, and so on and so forth. At one point, they installed this new security feature, as the nurses would have to badge you in on their own end. I can literally hear the lock on the inside of the door being released, to let me open it! And no….it’s not some really loud “indication” or anything, you often have to look thru the window on the door to see if they “wave” you in; I don’t have to; I just listen for that “lock release”, and know I can go in; even my other coworkers are surprised I can hear it!

So, how do I handle dealing with all those loud sounds now, you ask? Again, I don’t really deal with balloons, and guns or anything of that like much anymore, as it is. I always ask a million questions about whether or not something of the like will even be there to begin with. Obviously no one can plan for everything, and I’m sorry….ya can’t use that excuse for the previous examples, try as you might. If a transformer blows up at a location, or something falls over, it’s something you can’t necessarily plan for, so it’s understandable in those scenarios. I don’t usually recommend people be outside in the middle of thunderstorms anyway, truth be told. In regard to fireworks, however, I have actually found a really helpful type of earplug: nylon gloves

They actually reduce the sound by a considerable amount; not perfectly, of course…..but they do work really well! Yes folks, I stick nylon gloves in my ears; I ain’t knocking what works; “but Russell, you look so silly!” Do I look less silly with fingers in my ears? Choose one, seriously. On an interesting note, as I was leaving work one night, I stuck some in my ears, and my coworkers commented “you have something sticking out of your ears”, and the entire time, I kept saying “I know, cause of the big kaboom”, and they kept asking me “what big kaboom?” To which I responded “are you deaf? the fireworks, hello?”, and they went “ohhhh THAAAAAAAAAAT”. I want to facepalm yet again regarding that one. Ignorance, apathy, and cluelessness, so helpful when dealing with the needs of an Autistic, amiright?

So, that is my tale for the time being about my journey in the world of really loud sounds; the examples I’ve experienced, how I dealt with them, and how I have learned to deal with them, to the best of my knowledge at this time. I hope this has helped some of you; don’t be afraid to ask me any questions you may have, and perhaps I can get a few more entries out of it in the future, to clear anything additionally up!

Next time, we’re gonna get into really fun territory….as it’s a topic in sensory that…I deal with to a point, but….remember how I said not everything affects everyone on the spectrum in the same way? Well, let’s just say it doesn’t affect me as much, but I’m gonna shed as much light on it as I can, and for those that it does!

Autism Sensory Part 1: Grocery Shopping List

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We’re gonna conclude this month by kicking off a new series on here; figured it was time to take a look at our sensory issues, and the different ways we’re affected by it (I won’t lie, in part because it leads into something else I already had planned, and it leads even further into another entry I was given the inspiration for a few days ago!); this particular installment I came up with the idea for back in April, as in the middle of the quarantine, a restaurant I frequent ran out of half their supplies, so I decided the next day to go to one I also enjoyed to get my lunch for the day before heading to work….and they were closed for Easter observance, and I had to do “that thang I do” to strategize the best–and least expensive place–to grab my meal for the day. Fun fact: I was gonna settle for some fast food that I haven’t visited in over a year and a a half–due to both how expensive they are, and how unsatisfying the food is if you don’t eat it immediately–and decided not to proceed as soon as I found out I would have to download their app just to use the damn drive-thru. Nevertheless, got my food for that day, and came up with the idea for this entry. So, let’s start with the easiest, most “comfortable for everyone to swallow”, if you will (see what I did there?), entry regarding sensory issues!

Now, you may be asking yourself “Russell, what do you mean by sensory issues, in regard to food? It’s food. Ya open yer mouth, and it goes in.” Did you ever notice, however, that your Autistic friends seem extremely picky about what they’ll eat, or how they’ll eat it? It’s one thing for someone to be lactose intolerant, or vegan, can’t eat peanuts, or 50 other things….but for none of that to be of the criteria, and….they just refuse to eat it? Oh god, even the hell my own family had to go thru with it, as well! As a reminder, outside of my parents, most of my own family barely wanted to deal with me in general as is, ya think this added to their experience, in any way? It wasn’t much easier for my folks either…..I think in part because……honestly, I don’t know what sensory issues affected my Mom. If some did, she never brought up, likely for a myriad of reasons. All the same, yes, I’ve always been very picky about what I’ll eat, so…let’s get into some elaboration about it, shall we?

Lemme start off with the most fun aspect: if you run into me at Aldi, you might see me buying carrots, cucumbers, and celery; none of that is for me. It’s all for my guinea pigs; they crave it…I do not. My guinea pigs, being herbivores, absolutely love vegetables….and in general, I never have. Oh, there are a few I’ll eat, like peas, corn, lettuce, potatoes….and then there’s fruit; I’ll–every million years–eat an apple or some grapes, and that’s as far as that goes as well, though I will put to death the man who keeps me from my precious orange juice! So you may be wondering, for starters, what my problem with most of the other vegetables and fruit is. First of all, most fruits and vegetables tend to fall into a certain variation of the “sweet” or “bitter”-tasting offerings, and then once you get into that, we get to the big culprit: the texture. Most fruits and vegetables are soft, and have sort of a soggy “crunch” to them, that I’ve found beyond unappealing since I was a little kid; it’s hard to explain. The best way I can describe it is “this is crunchy, but all other evidence my brain signals are sending me tells me it really shouldn’t be….this just isn’t right”. So, you combine the variation of the bitter or sweet with that texture, and lord have mercy do I find it unappealing beyond words.

Before I go into a whole list of other foods that I will and won’t eat (oh trust me, the latter would be so long, I would be here all day), you may be thinking to yourself “so basically, you’ll eat bland mush, and nothing else, then?” How about no, and DAMN are you missing an important aspect to all this! See, because of how incredibly picky I am with food…..it also means I’ve developed an ability to rate offerings from certain vendors and restaurants in ways most wouldn’t even give a second thought to!

For instance…..as many in my life will tell you, I used to be a huge burger aficionado; if I went to a place that offered burgers, damn right I was gonna chow down on one (there’s another aspect I’ll get to about this shortly, too)! I say used to, having drastically reduced my beef intake; no, I’m not part of the vegan/save the cows movement…it’s actually due to inherited coronary issues, and was instructed to go for alternatives like poultry…..so now I consume chicken and turkey like a motherfucker, though every once in a while, I’ll still grab a burger. All the same, I could literally tell you which place I thought had the best burgers; I could tell you which ones were on the bland side, which ones absolutely nailed it–and had “something something”, as some would say, all that jazz. I even had a list out of favorite and worst burger places, one of the latter I of course had people mock me for, saying the place had some of the best food imaginable; and btw, as they’re now out of business, I will openly say it: it was a place in Florida called the Rascal House; I don’t know how the rest of their food was, but that burger was terrible. People even went so far to make up the excuse “well, they’re a delicatessen, so burgers aren’t their specialty”. Oh yeah? There’s a deli in NJ (there ya go, Garden State, you get a positive mention in this, ENJOY IT!) called Harold’s, and last I had it there, they were fantastic! Another thing the Rascal House taught me about where you order your burgers: if they call it a “Hamburger Sandwich”, run; run as fast as your damn legs can carry you, they have no idea how to properly prepare the delicacy, and it will take taste like shit.

Now, here’s an interesting aspect about the sensory issue–and how we organize it in our lives–that I hadn’t brought up yet, and it’s thanks to an incredibly hot babe in the Autistic community (trust me, people, we have no shortage!) who–btw–I used to have on Facebook, as she added me, because she liked my arguments, and she thought I was hot. Yes, a smokin’ babe in our community thought I was hot….it’s a good feeling, even if…let’s just say she and I went very different directions in life, otherwise. Anywho…..she too was specific about what she’d eat, and how. She would eat a burger, but she didn’t want anything on it; just the burger on the plate, that’s it. Well, for many years growing up, I too would eat a burger with just the bun, and nothing else; the reason? I could easily sense the condiments, and most of they just didn’t compliment the taste for me, they stood out really strongly. Some I’ve grown to enjoy very much: cheese, ketchup, bacon, mayonnaise, but at the same time, I already also like all of these too, and by slowly adding one then another over the course of several years, I built a meal that I find very enjoyable. Do not put pickles on that damn thing; we’re back to “bitter soggy crunch” with that, and it just doesn’t add to it for me. Interestingly enough, lettuce also takes away from it for me, even though I like lettuce otherwise. I know, it can be confusing, and get really tricky. Somehow, just that certain combination….I can sense it, and they don’t compliment each other, for me.

A few more examples here: mint chocolate. I like mints, I like chocolate, I don’t like them combined. I like peanuts, but I didn’t like them in brownies, or pastries of that variety; perhaps it’s because my brain starts registering a certain chewiness, then the sudden change feels like it “throws it off”, in a way we’re not prepared for….and you know what just hit me about this possible consideration? I posted something in a similar vein to this back some time ago, but in regard to another area of Autistic “sensory”; hrm….feel free to look thru that as well, ya might be able to form some connections with it (or just wait for me to look more into it in an upcoming entry, you know you’d rather).

Now, you may be wondering if that means I don’t eat anything new beyond what I used to eat as a kid, thinking “your tastes may have changed, Russell!”, well, shortly after my Mom’s death, I did give a shot to trying a few new things, and I did happen to find one condiment that I do enjoy now: honey mustard; honestly, I think it’s the “honey” aspect (and I already like honey) that gave me the go-ahead to give a shot to honey mustard, even though I don’t like mustard; and yes, sometimes the alteration of how something is prepared can help me appreciate food I otherwise wouldn’t eat. For a great example: my former roommate and his girlfriend are obsessed with cooking, and they prepared these onion blintz things at one point, and I hated it because of the texture. My roommate thought there was just no pleasing me, but his girlfriend assured him it could be softened to “remove” that texture” ; they gave it a go, and ohmyfuckinggod it was so good!

Before I conclude this entry (I won’t lie, this was one of the easiest for me to do….I literally didn’t think it would be this easy), I want you to consider two more worthwhile examples of my being able to tell the difference, when it comes to food, because I want to lead it into said conclusion…

I will not drink Coca-Cola….except around the Passover/Easter season, when they release “Kosher” Coca-Cola; essentially, it’s the second formula…or as I call it the “good” formula of Coke; I don’t even see, honestly, how people can drink the 3rd/4th formula of Coke with such ease; there’s such an obvious difference to me, but then…..again, it’s an obvious difference to me; my mind is designed to pick up on those details, where it may not register as clearly for those not on the spectrum (also I said 3rd/4th not to bash New Coke, cause I have never tasted it, but because I’ve heard conflicting stories on when the current formula actually did come, and whether or not it came first). One further excellent example: whenever my family, or restaurants, would prepare something with tuna fish (and I love tuna fish), I could never eat it…and I always thought it was a different version of tuna than my parents had or something. It turned out the problem wasn’t with the tuna….but the mayonnaise. Apparently, Miracle Whip is commonly used in place of Mayonnaise, and what the hell are you people smoking?! I’ll never forget…my former roommate even told me that once his girlfriend and her Mom tried actual mayonnaise, they never went back to Miracle Whip. Even my Dad, in one of the few “snobbish/condescending” moments of his (and I am so proud of him for those few times) went on record as saying “oh hell no, gotta go with Mayonnaise; Miracle Whip is terrible!” Here’s a hint folks: Miracle Whip makes the whole meal taste much sweeter; I personally don’t know how you can eat “sweetened” tuna, but, hey, to each their own…..

In conclusion, I hope this helps you to understand why your kids or Autistic friends or whatever are so incredibly fussy with what they eat; I will gladly do another entry on it if I deem it necessary. If nothing else, take note of how well we notice the difference between one variation on a food, and another; it could lead to truly amazing new breakthroughs in your kitchen, or your others may help you find something you’ll enjoy even more than what you’ve been “settling” for all these years; we can pick up on it people, I assure you!

So…..what’s next up for Sensory issues? Get your earplugs ready 😉

The Foot In the Door

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Hope to see you there!

Soooo….I got up early this morning to clean the guinea pig cage, and get my load in the laundry, and….I’m still waiting for the washer to be free for use, but that’s ok; kinda feel bad for my guinea pigs, having to rush them with their cage, but I hope to play with them more later today, and by then, hopefully I won’t be as out of it as I feel right now; yeah, you may notice that it’s still the morning; it’s like part of me wants to just crash back to sleep, but part of me wants to get shit done, so here we are….

A few entries back, I started talking about that which inspires me in life, and I started by discussing how I prefer DC over Marvel, as DC are the characters you aspire to, while Marvel are the characters you “relate” to….and in most cases I barely relate to anyone, so I usually prefer to go with characters and figures that inspire me, and that I can look up to, as opposed to those I can say “yeah, I totally relate to this or that”. I was hoping to have it transition further into talking more about my heroes, idols, inspirations, etc in the entry than it did, but I was kinda pressed for time, getting ready for an event that weekend, and truth be told just didn’t have enough notes ready to proceed with an entry; I decided to “wing” it more so than normal, and good lord did it show. That being said, I did state I was gonna come back to the topic later on (I always leave the door open for further elaboration), but what gave me the firepower to do it…was the announcement of an upcoming figure by the company NECA: Richard Simmons

I bring up the fitness guru as I actually wanted to discuss him in the minutes of another piece I did, but…once again–as I’ve stated many times in the past–I kinda forgot/didn’t know how to insert it without breaking up the flow that I’d already developed, so instead…he gets held off til now, where I can dive more into not only him, but several others!

Brief note before I get to the fun stuff: As I’ve already also stated, I will not discuss political figures of inspiration to me here, anytime soon–even if it’s not specifically their political tenure that is of value to me (not to mention one of their monuments having been in the news)–as I refuse to get involved in mudslinging or skullduggery of any sort on this blog; again, this blog is intended for the purpose of education the public about Autism, and empowering others on the spectrum to become the best they can be. I’ve stated (linked above) that I do have somewhat of a piece on this topic coming up this Fall, but I will be taking it in a very different direction than most honestly believe…and I have a feeling to expect a huge audience, and get complaints anyway, with how much I’ve been building it up on social media….which by the way is also where if you do want my opinions in that arena, that’s where you’ll see ’em. Anyway, let’s get back to the fun stuff, shall we?

So, since I brought up Richard Simmons already, let’s start with him:

“Russell….seriously? The really skinny over-the-top guy with the goofy ‘fro you consider to be inspiring?” You mean….a man that has spent decades helping people get in shape, starting in a time when the only frame of reference they otherwise had for the objective was the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lou Ferrigno, which they considered unreachable standards? Yes, very much so. People looked at Richard Simmons, starting in the early 80s, and said “Schwarzenegger, Ferrigno, He-Man, Frazetta drawings…I could never live up to….hey, this really silly skinny, hyper guy who wants me to work out to music I grew up with, now that I can do!” To add to that, I see it similar to what I said about the idea of Autism being a disability: we’re not disabled. Do we need proper nurturing in areas we clearly have not been/are not currently getting? Without question, but we’re not disabled. Other folks on the spectrum believe they’re expected to live up to the successful business tycoon with the perfect social skills, slicked-back hair, perfect makeup, and sounding like 007 to feel like they can make it, and produce quality results in this world, and I’m here to tell ya……no, you don’t. If it’s what you want (and I mean what you genuinely want), that’s fine, but those things aren’t required to be a valid, worthwhile, contributing member to society, even if you’ve been led to believe otherwise…..and I’d like to hope that my work on here helps to emphasize that in some way, and might even be able to help in ways similar to how Mr. Simmons has helped folks all over the world with weight issues.

Next, I’d like to discuss the man known as “Weird Al” Yankovic; now, I’m gonna get far more into him in a big, very personal, entry later this Summer, but I realized recently how much to me he means for additional reasons, other than what I will be discussing at that time. For one great example, take his movie UHF: it’s about a guy who zones out constantly, and thinks of wacky ideas that eventually make a TV station, which he stumbles into managing, a hit. Well, so many of the thoughts swirling thru my mind all the time are now being shared here for the world to see…to apparently very high acclaim…..and I thank you people beyond words for it, I assure you! Not only that, but Weird Al was always originally just that silly comedian type–early on–that people “knew” about, but…he was “just there”, and people barely paid him any mind as a result. Over about 40 years, he has slowly amassed a very dedicated, and highly appreciated following for his work, and how has a level of respect for it that I’m sure he only dreamed of back in his late teens and early 20s. I can’t guarantee I’ll ever have that level of acclaim, but it means the world to me that I’m able to finally share and articulate my thoughts with anyone who wants to see them here….and it seems tons of people all over the globe want to!

Next, we have Fred Rogers; admittedly I re-gained most of my appreciation for both him and Sesame Street back about a decade ago when I was working my ass off to find a way to successfully propose to Jeanette, and…for a few reasons actually: First off, obviously I figured once married, I’d be more interested in having a family, and–seriously–when you think of shows for young children, to encourage their learning, what’s the first things you usually think of (please don’t say Barney, I will smack you)? Not only that, but that was around the time I first met Tyler Voltz, and at the time he thought his path in life was doing children’s content, which got me more invested in discussions on the subject with him, getting us to talk about early 80s Nick Jr programming, and shows like Eureeka’s Castle, and all that….and ever since then, I’ve had a new-found respect for the edutainment. In the case of Sesame Street, being Muppets helps (which I’ll get to shortly), but there’s far more to it with Fred Rogers: I love how the man had such strong convictions in what he believed in for entertaining and educating people, and how much he promoted creativity and using our minds and imaginations. It’s amazing, to me, all these years later, people keep looking back, and going “how would Fred Rogers have handled the changing world?”, and that’s how you know he did something very, very right.

Jim Henson I’ve briefly name-dropped many times, as I believe he was on the spectrum; I never did elaborate exactly why I believed it though, other than bringing up the “stare” in his eyes, which is very common in our community. In the mid-late 60s, he did a short film about puppetry; it’s on Youtube. It’s in black & white, and I highly recommend checking it out….partially because of how he talks about puppetry. He’s talking about the topic like a man who understands it and appreciates it on a level beyond all others….you know, much like how Autistic people discuss their special interests. His creativity was absolutely and positively completely unmatched, and ask any of his crew, they will assure you of this; do I even need to tell you what a household name Kermit the Frog has been now for the past half-century? Hell, you can even see how influential he was with the continued work of Brian Henson, David Goelz, and of course Frank Oz. But….there’s another reason he means so much to me: he was the very first figure to break through to me on a level regarding inspiration when I was too young to even fully understand what I was feeling, and helped me learn about myself, and get me on the path to my own self-betterment as a result…so much so that a special episode of the Jim Henson Hour even made it one of my first entries on here, with a follow-up shortly thereafter elaborating further. To do something like that…..takes a special kind of talent, and that’s why I love Jim so much.

One of my more recent loves in this world is the painting legend Bob Ross, and I say “more recent loves” as–I’m dead serious–I didn’t even know who he was until Family Guy parodied him nearly 20 years ago; had never heard of him before that. Of course, it was then followed up on VH1’s “I Love the 80s”, and my former colleague Victor had some paint/game set of his in his room. While involved with the media group, episodes of The Joy of Painting went up, and of course I shared some of them on Facebook, but of course also watched a few, and listened to them while I would do other work on my computer. As most folks will tell you at this point, his soothing voice, what he talks about and how he does is so incredibly relaxing, but there’s something else I absolutely love about him, and it’s something that pretty much everyone failed miserably with, regarding me, as I grew up: thanks to Bob, I’m learning mistakes are ok to make….or as he puts it “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents”. I can assure you, growing up on the East Coast, around people who always wanted me to follow in lock-step with everyone else, and do things exactly as they’d done them, I was already treated lousy in general, but to make mistakes? Oh…..the hell-fire that caused; already felt like a total fucking loser, and that made things 50 times worse, naturally. Bob Ross has been a major voice in helping to break through, and seeing the entire situation in a different light, and I love him for it. Those people who treated me like such shit on the East Coast? Yeah, I’ve discussed about that in several pieces, but really emphasized it here.

I’m gonna get into some fictional characters soon, but before I do, I have two more big names I want to mention…the first being Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. Todd obviously become such an important figurehead to me, my whole life up to recently having been so invested in pop culture and toys, but what really cemented him for me was his standards. Some company offered to produced figures for his comic book character, and Todd hated how it came out; they said “this is how we do it, so deal with it” (gee, does that sound at all familiar to what I stated in a piece, linked above?), and Todd essentially said “I will not deal with it; I’ll do it, and do it better“…and he did. He wound up revolutionizing the entire industry in the process, giving the market a far higher respect than it had otherwise had up to that point. He demanded standards in his merchandise that, at the time, just weren’t heard of; everyone just figured “it’s a toy, who cares if it’s accurate to the character or not?” They sure as hell do now….and it’s all thanks to Todd. Brief note: are you starting to notice some patterns with my stated inspirations?

Next we have a fascinating example: Vincent Price; I won’t lie…despite the fact that I roll my eyes at the concept of the “goth/poser goth” thing, and what I see as the pretentiousness of the culture that it developed from in recent decades, I have an appreciation for the macabre and dark side of things. I love the Universal Monsters, my favorite franchise of all time (if you haven’t yet picked up on it) is Ghostbusters, I love B-horror movies, the works. Honestly, I believe Alan Watts even discussed “exploring our dark side” a little bit…and I say “honestly” cause I confess I have yet to hear his words on it, but it is a bit of a “wilder” side that can be fun to explore, especially as it goes into territory that people don’t often know how to venture into comfortably…but there’s just something so seductive about how Mr. Price offered it, isn’t there? C’mon, just tell me his narration in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” isn’t so suave and satisfying, considering the subject material at hand…and every time I listen to it, I wind up saying it right along with him.

Now to get into a few fictional characters, before I conclude this installment for the time being (I will be delving further into more inspirations at a later time, partially to make sure this doesn’t take me 10 hours to do, in the process boring the ever-loving shit out of you), and prepare to bring up some more important aspects of Autism this weekend…

Let us begin the fictional characters with Rocky Balboa; I’ve known about the character since I was a child, but “he’s a boxer, what of it?” was how I looked at it. I saw the first Rocky movie a few times, and it just never clicked with me (and to this day, it still does not, mind you), but VH1’s “I Love the 80s”…brought up Rocky IV….and right around the time I was admittedly a sprouting young man being told to get invested in politics and all that, and the Cold War was of heavy interest to me, and you know how prominent the basis for it is in that movie. Well, I didn’t just want to watch Rocky IV without seeing what led up to it, so I finally sat down again with the first Rocky….and got bored again…but then finally read enough about the sequels to give the second movie a shot….and I was instantly in love. This of course led to me watching the other installments, and….something about Rocky IV specifically really connected with me in a fascinating way, even if I do think elements of the script could’ve been a bit better: the message I took from his bout with Drago was essentially “give it your all, and if that’s not enough, give it even more“. Rocky’s persistence and determination to fight for what he believed in….it almost chokes me up right now, just thinking about it, including how Drago comes to respect him in the end as a result for it, rather than just going overboard with the flashiness, the way he saw Apollo Creed doing. I confess….I’m also reminded of the intro to Rocky III; I know at the time the movie came out, aspects of the world were still recovering from a very long economic recession, and the montage at the beginning emphasized that–even in the most difficult times–you can still succeed on your own terms. Which brings me to the final name to be mentioned for this installment….

Scrooge McDuck; admittedly, I first got more invested in Scrooge back when I thought it was all about the limos, private jets, being financially loaded, etc; Scrooge is essentially the ultimate symbolization of that lifestyle, of course; thing is….he’s also so much more. To give you an idea of just what a fan of the character I am, I not only watch DuckTales (both the new and old series), I have read tons of Scrooge McDuck comics–both new and old–and can even delve into which episodes from the show were based on the comics, if a character in an episode was even in the original issue, and tell you if I preferred the episode or the comic. What I love so much about Scrooge though is all the work he puts into achieving his goal…and not just the hard work, but the resourcefulness and creative thinking to achieve it; as stated in the vintage episode “Once Upon a Dime”, he was taught “work smarter, not harder”, and that mentality taught him to have the follow-thru to be able to openly and proudly state “I earned it by being tougher than the toughies and smarter than the smarties…and I earned it square!” In fact, in several of the later works done by Don Rosa (after the passing of Carl Barks), as Don did not want to make any alterations to the perfection that Carl had done, Don decided to attempt to do “elaborations” on references Scrooge had made to his other tales throughout the works, and while…..a few of them (one of which made it to the new series, btw) I was not particularly fond of, to put it nicely, he made sure to emphasize all the trials and tribulations Scrooge genuinely had to go thru to get to the point where he struck it rich. It wasn’t simply “Scrooge made a few smart decisions here and there”; not even close, and that’s not realistic either, and he knew that. He showed the absolute hell Scrooge had to endure–in many cases, at even personal cost, including with family–to achieve it. Through all of it, however, he could look back on all of it as his path, and the legacy he had to show for his determination and efforts.

That concludes my first big entry on this subject. I’ll delve into more at a future date, though I hope you enjoyed reading about some of those that inspire me in life, and understand better why I do what I do. Hopefully this weekend, we will get into discussing more about the “trials” of being on the spectrum. Hope to see you folks then!

Back In the Saddle

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Hope to see you there!

So….I think I’m learning I should likely cut out ice cream from my diet; as much as I love ice cream, most dairy products in that heavy of quantity…..do not help with indigestion issues I already have; thankfully, I haven’t had too many today, but….just something to take note of for future reference; plus, once again I’m stressed out as I have a lot to navigate today…and I was really tired, and got up late too. No, I didn’t just get up before I started writing this…..the guinea pigs’ cage needed to be cleaned, so that had to be taken care of.

Anyway, I’m yet again moving June content out a bit further, as I’m still working on notes for it, but….also because of something I thought deserved more immediate attention; you may recall in my last two entries, I discussed that I felt almost like I was rushing them to a degree (and I think the DC Vs Marvel entry really took a hit, as a result), getting ready for an event later that weekend (along with something I thought was on Monday morning, but I got the date wrong); well, that event came, and I realized…..I had a lot to say about it. That event was a social gathering with a coworker, her boyfriend, and their close-knit group of friends. Up to this point, I haven’t involved myself with too many considerations for these events, as I’ve been so busy with work on my apartment, and all the other errands and chores I’m navigating; but, with my apartment slowly coming along, and other things started to seem like they’re getting “more in line”, I’m ever so slowly “coming out of my cave” in regard to it, shall we say, so I can start enjoying this new phase of my life far more.  “Russell, did you know any of these people before you went there?” I did not…..and I’d never hung out with my coworker, Rayna, outside of work, or met her boyfriend, Justin, off of Facebook til that day, so let’s just say…..it was a situation I didn’t know what to expect or anything, and tried to plan ahead as best I could for it, and work my schedule around it to be there on time, and take everything in; and for those wondering…..I have discussed this very topic before here , so feel free to brush up a bit for further context, before proceeding if you wish.

I’m not gonna lie: part of the reason I decided to discuss this piece now–aside from it just having happened–is to better coincide with the time of year, when events like these are on everyone’s mind anyway, and while much of the other content I had planned for June also falls into that category, again, I need more notes for, but I also felt like…I was at a social gathering; how is this not the perfect experience to go into detail about on my blog? I’m sure plenty of people coming here who aren’t on the spectrum want to know more about what that experience is like for people who are, and I’m sure plenty of people who are on the spectrum want to see if they can relate to where I was coming from the whole time, during the experience, so to help theirselves navigate them better as well; and for those wondering, I definitely plan on doing it again…..and will share the experience then too; I am more than happy to talk about what I believe to be my own personal growth on here, in hopes in inspires and empowers others on the spectrum to be the best they can be; hell, that’s half the mission of this blog as is!

So first off, I made sure to get the time to be there, ask the address, and ask if I should eat beforehand or not; they gave me all the information, and of course I wasn’t sure if I should get there early or not, cause I’d never spent time with them before, and I usually like to be early anyway; one thing I really hesitated with–and I semi-felt bad about it all the way thru the time I left–was about bringing something to their place; y’know, the least I could do since they were hosting this party with all their friends. I didn’t, because I didn’t know the “scenario” well enough yet to proceed as I felt I needed to, but being me, I still felt kinda bad about it the whole time, and definitely intend to bring something next time (you heard me, Justin and Rayna…I ain’t takin’ that back! It’s on here for the whole world to see! I’m gonna handle it all way better next time, and I’ll bring some drinks or something!).

So I got there, and I knocked on the door, and there was no answer; I checked around what appeared to be the back of the house, and the fence seemed kinda close to the house, so I shrugged it off, and went back to the front door, and knocked again; I then sent a message to Justin, telling him I was there. I would later find out that he was busy on the grill, so he wouldn’t have gotten the message anyway; one of the people heading to the gathering saw me waiting at the front door, and told me they were around back. One thing I will openly admit, during this whole experience, I was blabbering and tripping over my words like a motherfucker; this, folks is why I don’t do vlog entries. My writing is like an overture to you, and all I really have to do is take notes for it, to compliment whatever I’m already thinking; yeah, at this time I don’t even do drafts too often, cause…..time is something I really don’t have much of (though some of my upcoming pieces this year may likely get drafts before I write them out). I know a few people there insisted otherwise, but I already know I make really poor first impressions, and these awesome people were gracious enough to include me, and I felt like I wanted to give them a good incentive for having done so; I suppose in the least I put my foot in the door for the future, but I’ll get to that….

So we go around to the back, I greet Rayna, and I introduce myself to Justin, and I just sat at the table in the back for a moment; they offered me some food, and I said I’d probably grab some in a sec, but….honestly, I just started clenching up….not on the outside, but heavily on the inside. I found myself sitting there quietly, at first, stimming a lot by tapping my feet, and rocking my legs from side to side, while observing everyone else’s interactions. I’m not gonna kid you at all when I tell you…..I felt so uncomfortable, so awkward and out of place, and so bad not being sure how to proceed with whether or not I should’ve brought something, or whatever, that voice in my head tearing me to shreds and calling me a “failure” was utterly screaming at me for a duration of the time I was there; I almost felt like I shouldn’t have accepted any of the hosts’ gratitude (I’ve gone into that, btw, here), and had to quasi-convince myself I was wanted there enough to go in, and get some food for myself; one of the offerings, btw, Justin was insistent that I try: his chili! It was somewhat of a new recipe of chili….it had bits of corn in it; I do like corn, but the texture of it threw me off somewhat as a result (oh, I got a whole entry planned on this subject). I told Justin I enjoyed it, but was still heavily-clenched up, and still kinda felt bad for not having contributed anything to the experience (I know, I know….I brought me, and that’s a good start, but….that’s something I’m still working on coming to terms with myself, and I’ll explain it more as I continue…). Just…the whole time, I felt like I was in foreign territory, with that defeatist voice screaming at me at the top of its lungs in my head; plus, I was in a house that wasn’t mine, and from all my experiences as a kid, and….well in general, most people never really wanted me in their houses or whatnot to begin with; but, perhaps things were starting to change with that….

I do give Justin a Rayna a lot of credit, here: they really went out of their way to make me feel included and tried to push me in to enjoy myself more; it meant a lot to have people want me there, even if it’s not something I’m really used to…but they’re part of the reason I’m motivated to keep at it, which I will discuss more later. A short time later, more guests arrived…including another coworker, and in this case one who recognized me, as he works in an area I usually clean during my shift! So I finally found someone who’s being there helped me “ease up a bit”, as it were. People started talking about general topics of interest, & tried to figure out how best to offer my input so that it would all flow as seamlessly as possible, but I had a million thoughts going thru my head over it; I kept thinking “should I really say something that might not make a difference in 5 minutes?” (and yes, I realize that’s part of the social engagement; see why I’m posting about this, and keeping myself as part of it, as possible? So I can learn, and do it better)

About an hour later, and chatting with the fellow coworker–along with the other two people at our table ( a couple, one who happened to be a very bubbly babe)–I started easing more into my surroundings, and feeling more comfortable around everyone; don’t misunderstand here: I wasn’t fully comfortable, but more at ease; it was actually when one of the folks in the kitchen brought up about a former coworker that I worked with at Lowe’s that gave me a bit more momentum to speak up, & chime in. At that point, more people had started arriving, creating little enclaves here and there throughout the gathering, which is how I found myself with that one coworker, and the couple with the bubbly hottie. One thing I couldn’t help but notice was that once I felt a better sense of the “customs” of how the household worked–as it were–and in regard to the social gathering and whatnot, and the rules of respect guests were to follow, it did help me to “unclench” considerably further, and get me somewhat more at ease. I also realized that the reason I felt so confused and overwhelmed at my arrival, earlier that evening, was I only had known one personally off Facebook, and wanted to avoid being a rude guest of any sort.

Two hours in, I’d gotten more comfortable chatting with those three people, and I even helped break the ice further my doing a Bill Cosby impression for them…which they loved so much they insisted I do it for Justin, and he loved it so much, he burst into his laughter (which btw, honest to god, sounds like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz; and yes, I told him straight up). For those of you in our community wondering at this point, no I was still no smooth social talker, or anything of the sort (I will never be, and….I don’t think we ever honestly will; our brains just aren’t designed for it). Honestly, I simply spoke up when I felt I had something to say, or was addressed. I will say again though how thankful I am for the small enclave I was with to help me though…and having that bubbly babe in our group (who was admittedly getting hammered on jell-o shots–and yes that’s how the Bill Cosby thing came up) helped dramatically.

A little under half an hour later, I was about as much at ease with myself and my overwhelming surrounding as I was gonna get, & noticed others were making that sort of small talk-type of exchange that, on a more individual level, would’ve confused the hell out of me, and I would’ve found utterly pointless….but I’ve learned to decipher said pattern, to a degree–and in the process even managed to tell a few there people about my blog (they asked, if you were wondering; they saw me writing down everything that I’ve been talking about; yes, I jotted down the entire experience….I openly told them I was doing it.) As we headed into the third hour-mark, I continued to be about as at ease as I was going to be; again, I chalk my hesitance and sense of overwhelm up to this being my first get-together (you heard me, first) with these folks and their friends. They decided to go outside for a while, and I didn’t initially join…as I’m not someone who just follows people for the sake of following people; I stayed inside a little longer, and took in the surroundings more for better observation, before finally deciding to join everyone outside at the fire pit.

As the sun began to set, I sat outside in one of the chairs set up, but not in the immediate circle; more on the outskirts. Started feeling uncomfortable again, with increased stimming…but it wasn’t anything against the other folks there, or anything like that. Honestly…I just didn’t know anybody well enough yet, & I guess for my first time engaging with everybody, I kinda just felt a bit restless and anxious…being out of my “comfort zone”, if you will. Like…I was enjoying being there, and happy they wanted me there, but….it felt like a “give and take” situation: I enjoyed chatting with some people, and glad they enjoyed hearing about my blog, & spending time with friends….but I also knew I’d worked everything around it….sorta building it up in a way that nothing can ever live up to (as I have addressed in one of the entries, linked above; it’s a common thing on the spectrum). In other words, I enjoyed it, but I found it frustrating at the same time. Like I said, I’m far enough in my process where I can start enjoying more social engagements, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still insanely busy in the process, which was on my mind.

You may be thinking, impatiently here, “so Russell, when are you gonna be “in the zone” for all of this?” That’s the thing: nobody knows. Maybe when I’m finally done with the work I’m doing with my place, maybe not, and since there’s no guaranteed answer, all I can do for now is take some swings here and there, and hope for a few hits. That’s also why I felt so bad, considering how accommodating Rayna and Justin were at the meet-up. I’m sure they wanted me there, but people wanting me there is….just not something I’m really that used to, honestly.

For another point–semi off topic– I initially wanted to bring up in a recent entry about “Chess” as linked above, it goes back to what Gary Vaynerchuk recently said in one of his videos on Instagram about that voice in our heads; I’ve told you how mine seems to fucking hate me, and I have to do everything in my power to ignore it, and lessen its volume. According to Gary, none of us start out with that voice in our heads, telling us that…we just get that shit pounded in over and over until it’s all that gets emphasized, and we have to learn to break free from it; we were told these terrible things by people who didn’t feel capable, themselves, and were projecting on to us. You may not know it about me, but as a kid, despite being results-oriented, and intimidating to so many, I was one of the most happy-go-lucky kids you could imagine; the years dealing with people and getting trashed and hated just hardened me, and as a result, I’m not that way anymore. “So Russell, you’re saying they won?” Oh no…they lost even worse than ever before, because as I’m not happy-go-lucky, I’m not naive as I was then, and trusting of them to do right by me, but I still have the “chess” mindset down pat, and still have the forge-ahead and dedication to achieve; and those that mean the world to me in my life still know it! In other words, it all molded me as it needed to, but now part of my goal is to finally shut that voice down; no, I’m not a failure in life…I know I’m not. I’ve discussed about all my experiences in regard to that journey–in part– here, but whatever is needed to finally shut that voice up for good, well…..my journey hasn’t taken me there yet, and that’s ok.

Getting back to my main point here though….I may be on meds for anxiety, but I don’t want to have to rely on them mainly to help me endure these things, and overcome the obstacles that my mind doesn’t process as well, especially when I’m doing it with people who I see being very important to my continued development; it has to come from inside, and a feeling of worth and deserving that I’m still trying to come to terms with. In fact, the next night while I was at work, I was listening to a podcast of “James & Mike Mondays” (James Rolfe AKA the Angry Video Game Nerd, and his buddy Mike Matei, both of whom I also follow on Twitter), and I realized–hearing their exchange about “nothing” while they were busy playing Captain Commando–that the social gathering was the beginning of a new chance for me. I “get” these situations now in a way I sure as hell did not many moons ago, and as a result, can start to appreciate the experience in a way I wouldn’t have been able to before; a lot of it is “shooting the shit”, and just being so results-oriented, it never really resonated for me, then. Will I get out of it, moving forward, what the folks not on the spectrum are gonna get out of it? Not likely….but that’s not their purpose; they get out of it what they’re going to get out of it which works for them. I have to come to terms with getting out of it what needs to work for me.

I sent Rayna and Justin a message once again thanking them for the experience, and I also told them that–just like Ursula–I realized they were brought into my life the way they were for a reason, and that I realized even the important symbolism that Justin represents in my life….how I can still appreciate certain aspects of my life that are starting to take more and more of a backseat, while enjoying getting more out of our exchange in additional ways; i.e. the stuff from my “past” can still be there, even if not to as much of an emphasized degree, because there’s other stuff we can chat about to keep me engaged, and he does just fine with it.

To conclude this, yes folks….I entirely plan on attending their gatherings again, whenever I have the chance. Did I feel uncomfortable, confused, and overwhelmed? Damn right, and you know what? I got that feeling in my gut about it…that voice in me that I know I have to listen to, telling me “this is the right path; you know you’re meant to get something very important out of it; follow it….there’s a reason for this; you may not know everything now, and you don’t need to; it’ll make even more sense as it all unfolds”. Damn right I’m gonna join for future outings; as time goes by, I won’t be as uncomfortable, confused, and overwhelmed…and partially because I’m with people who now finally want me there. That, my friends, is the point when you know it’s not only a learning experience, but that you’re on the right path 🙂

 

 

 

Quickie: DC Vs Marvel

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Hope to see you there!

knew that title would grab your attention! I know what you’re thinking “cool, we get to see him drag one of them thru the mud, or do some fun comparison”, or something like that; well, lemme start out by saying, yes, this will be a lighter piece than what I’ve otherwise been posting recently…and it’s being a lighter piece is exactly why I’m posting it this weekend, as I stated with my being a bit busier these next few days, and have had less time to think about my entries in general recently, this one….was actually held over even since last month, cause I didn’t feel I had enough material for it…and I still don’t, but I’m gonna give it my best try anyway, since I know you’re used to getting one entry for each day I’m normally off. So, let’s get to it!

Ok, no…this is not specifically a comparison of the two legendary comic book franchise universes, but diving into something semi-deeper all the same:

I’ve wanted to do a piece for a while talking about my inspirations in life, and…..part of why I haven’t delved into it yet is because…it gets tricky in the sense that a few of them…..are historical political figures, and as I already stated on here, I refuse to get involved in tribalism, skullduggery, and mudslinging on this blog in any way (which is gonna make that piece coming this Fall the ultimate challenge, and why I’m doing a lot of prep work for it, as of this writing!); this blog is entirely intended to advance the education of the Autistic mind, and to empower those on the spectrum, and I plan to keep it that way; if you want to see where I fall in those more volatile categories, you’ll see it on Facebook, Twitter, and a little bit on Instagram.

So, why do I bring up DC and Marvel, you may be wondering? Mainly because of the way they’re viewed, and why they’re appreciated by the fans the way they are; as Lewis “Linkara” Lovhaug has said it best in his Youtube series Atop the 4th Wall, “Marvel are the characters you relate to, DC are the characters you aspire to”. For that reason, I am indeed far more of a DC fan than a Marvel fan, as I….usually don’t relate well to almost anybody, instead as a result preferring to look to characters that inspire me to be the best I can be. For a great example, as I’m gonna discuss further this Summer, I gained a far greater appreciation for Superman as I endured my Dad’s terminal illness, and the inevitable decline that ensued in the process, leading to his death. For two of the best examples I can think of, I recommend looking up his speech from the Justice League episode “Destroyer” on Youtube; it is absolutely fantastic in every conceivable way, and sums up the character like no one can. The other example is a direct-to-DVD animated film “Superman Vs the Elite” based on the storyline “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, & the American Way?” ; I strongly recommend watching both. To give you an idea, I find both so moving and resonating with my own convictions, the thought of they often brings me to tears.

Putting Superman aside, look at almost any character in the Justice League, and they’re all similar in that way: all characters who represent the best of a particular idea, to be looked up to. I won’t lie, it also reminds me of the line of a song by Randy Travis, called Heroes and Friends: “your heroes will help you find good in yourself….”. I may not be entirely perfect in my actions and however I handle everything in life, but I do everything in my power to stand up for what I believe to the absolute best of my abilities, and thru the inspiration of those I look up to.

Now……lemme just quickly touch on Marvel, as again those are the characters people “relate” to:

First, I’m not gonna lie…ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had one issue above all with Marvel, and that being all the characters kinda feel interchangeable to me, anyway. None of ’em ever honestly stood out to me; the Hulk is just as powerful as Silver Surfer, who’s just as powerful as Iron Man, who’s just as powerful as Captain America, who’s just….and the list goes on; yes I know they have different levels of power and all that hopefully you get my point; not saying I don’t like them, I just don’t feel a resonance with them that I do with the distinctiveness of the DC characters. Yes, there are some Marvel characters I like over others, but it’s why in general Marvel never did a whole lot for me; I guess I’ve always been attracted to the inspirational aspects of DC over it. Honestly, I also kinda feel like the “stand-outs” in the Marvel universe have a certain “cookie-cutter” aspect to them, if you will; they all follow a very specific guideline that makes them stand out from the rest. Don’t get me wrong…I can totally understand why Marvel dominated DC during the Silver Age, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the foundations for each (and Stan Lee for making Marvel work).

Ok, here’s a fun thing I just thought of literally as I write this:

You may be wondering why I even bother focusing specifically on two comic book companies, as opposed to being inspired by people in our community. First off, I never said I wasn’t inspired by figures from our community; I’m simply getting my foot in the door to explain who and what inspires me, and why, and I’m using DC and Marvel to do it. Second of all, in many cases I feel it important to be inspired when it comes to areas of importance in my life–i.e. things I value and prioritize, specifically. I love Anthony Hopkins and David Byrne, but….as much as I love their work, neither of they excite me enough with all of their work to be inspired….unlike say Jim Henson (who I recently saw a photo of, with his daughter on IG, and am now even more positive he was on the spectrum; somebody responded to me on there, and….clearly misunderstanding what I was saying, took it offensively, naturally).

Now in the case of Anthony Hopkins, there is a character he played that is somewhat of an inspiration for me, and by announcing this I am guaranteed to lose part of my audience: Dr. Hannibal Lecter. “Russell, you’re inspired by a murderous cannibal? What the hell is wrong with you….well, beyond what we already know?!” I’m inspired by the inner mental workings of a character to had to help Clarice Sterling find and take out Buffalo Bill, and right to her face with just a few off-hand questions completely deconstructed why she did everything she did, and what her emotional goals in the whole process were. Damn right I’m inspired by that!!!!!!!!!!

I’m gonna bring this entry to a close before I go on and wind up with some ramblings, as I’ve openly admitted I need time to work on material for it; I even went thru my journal to see if I had anything else ready for it, and I don’t…though I discovered I had some important points I wanted to make in some other pieces I recently posted…which will instead go into future installments.

Lemme just close with this classic line from an 80s animated series:

“Now You Know….And Knowing Is Half the Battle!”

Knight To Rook 4: the Murray Head Experience

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Hope to see you there!

Yes folks, I’m finally able to start getting to June content. Do take note, however, that the subjects I’m gonna be exploring–at least over the next week or so, at minimum–I haven’t had a lot of prep time to do notes for; I did some yesterday while at work, but….I’ve been insanely busy recently, so…I’m basically gonna “wing” it a bit, and just try to go as much with the thoughts I’ve had in regard to what got me to plan these entries out, to begin with. As I’ve said time and time again, I can always elaborate further on it in a later entry, and you know that I’m all but guaranteed to revisit a subject here or there. So…let’s get to it, shall we?

Would you believe it if I told you this entry is a semi-follow-up of sorts to my previous entry, despite coming up with the idea for this long before-hand? What I basically mean is….I already had the idea for this, but it seems to align nicely with the subject matter I’ve been trying to explore, which is admittedly building up to an entry (which I realize I keep talking about), coming up this Fall (and goddamit it, that entry damn well better deliver now, right?). All the same, I have elaborated on the basic concept for this in other entries, and stated how this is something that’s been prominent with me from a very early age–and appears to be very uncomfortable for most people who “pull the short straw” of having to deal with me: in a way, it’s as though the mind of an Autistic individual is a game of chess. I’d like to quickly mention here that I absolutely love chess. My Dad actually taught me to play, and….neither of us have every been particularly great at it, but in the very least, it’s led to some really fun games with my buddy Lernens. I’m even thinking about buying some additional property-based sets, just cause I love the game so much. I even played it with my previous ex-girlfriend, and a few folks online. The thing is……with the way my mind works, I’m always playing it….and unlike when the chess board is flat-out set in front of us, in a way I’m always winning, too.

One of my favorite characters in media is Superman’s legendary nemesis Brainiac (you thought I was gonna say Lex Luthor, didn’t you? He’s fine); what I absolutely love about the character, aside from how little emotion he shows, and always focusing on securing his objective….he’s always several steps ahead of his adversary, at all times. Whatever situation comes his way, he’s always planned for that on some level, and to fit it in to a bigger objective in the long run. I mean…the character even took out Darkseid, leader of Apokolips, for a period of time, and became the main antagonist of Legion of Super Heroes, the latter all by manipulating the programming of his good-natured descendant who’d briefly gone awry; I’d go into further detail of the episode, but I’d never get to where it all fits further in with me and others on the spectrum…

One issue I find I’ve always had, when dealing with people in general, is that after I’ve put the basics of any action–i.e. cause and effect–into my head, I’ve been able to build on it to a point where I see patterns emerging, and to such a degree, that I can always tell in a direction a situation is heading, not only loooooong before everyone else does, but exactly why, and whenever I’d bring it up to people as a kid (in my totally “suave and appealing” way), they got extremely annoyed, and would just say to me “well, this is how we do it, ok?!”, and then when exactly what I told them would happen……did….of course as a young buck I would say “told’ja”, cause…you know, they wanted to hear my continued arrogance over stating the obvious. Now, there are many reasons for that annoyance–aside from of course having to deal with me in regard to that–which also include likely insecurity on the part of the other party, and little confidence in the undertaking of the situation as well; kinda going on “luck” and “hoping for the best”. Then of course I’d always hear “fine, then you do it, if you think yer so damn smart!”; I’d then try to explain it wasn’t so simple, as the situation was already set-up to fall apart from the get-go as planned out, and was already so far ahead in the stages of production, but who the hell wanted to hear that? In other words, it was a situation of “probably should’ve considered this a lot earlier in the process than the dumpster fire that’s about to erupt”. I realize it’s always easy to say “hindsight is 20-20”, but again….I’m not looking at any of this thru a lens of hindsight, but entirely based on cause and effect, and the very foundation of the intent of the project, and why it went in the direction it did.

In fact, I mentioned in a previous entry that at one point, I decided to join a certain grassroots group on Facebook, at the behest of the guy who runs it; I did so entirely to support the effort, in terms of being there for members who felt they’d be vilified by their others and surrounding ideas; believe me, I understand what they go thru…..so I agreed to be there for a support network for them, as long as they were willing to do critical thinking; I openly told them I don’t have the idolatry for their main candidate that they do, but I’d be there for them if they would use critical thought….and got utterly trashed for it. The reason I bring this up is actually based on something I’m gonna elaborate more on in that piece coming this Fall; essentially, one of the big arguments I heard (and have since forever) is “but these options are all we have! Who cares how we got here? All that matters is….” WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How you got there is all that matters!!!!!!!!!! The reason I bring that up here, steering back away from that specific category is because of how it applies to life in general.

For a major instance, as a kid, I was always complaining about the “customs”–shall we say–of life on the East Coast. I always found them extremely restrictive–like, things had to be done “a certain way”, or people would pay you no mind over it, because “that’s how things were done”. Heading into my teens, I would always talk about how I wanted to leave the East Coast, stating “there’s nothing here”, then talking about moving to some other locations in the states, and people would laugh at me and tell me that “there’s even less in those places”; interestingly enough, I did an entry not specifically related to Autism about this subject (and here’s a great place to promote it!), but as time passed, I grew more and more disenfranchised with the East Coast, and wanted out. I found it to not only be too restrictive with its customs and way of life, but also way too expensive. I’ve been gone from the East Coast now for the past 13 years…..and in that time, I’ve gotten messages from people telling me “you were right to leave when you did; I wish I’d gotten out, but now I feel stuck here”, “I feel stuck, as my family is here, but it’s too expensive”, and of course as of recent due to the lockdowns still in place in several states over Covid, so many family members who would mock me–in my youth–to feel part of the crowd, cause “that weirdo doesn’t know what he’s talking about”…..last I spoke to them….are clearly emotionally and mentally in a state of despair, almost like they realize now, looking back, how valid my concerns were all those years ago, and there’s nothing they can do about it now, other than endure the inevitability of the situation they willingly went with for so long. Even more unfortunate, at least to me, the only real joy they get in it–and I won’t lie, they’ve bought into the goods they’re being sold far more than they’re willing to let on–is watching guys they claim to politically “oppose” get slapped around on TV, and honestly…I just don’t find it enough of a victory, really; I see it as just taking whatever scraps they can, but again….I don’t think the situation ever needed to get to that, but who wants to hear that from me?

My point is…..my mind is wired to always think several moves ahead; am I saying I always do it perfectly? Of course not; I do it entirely with what information is available to me….and the information I need isn’t always available to me, but when it is….I will give you my god-honest perspective of it, whether for better or for worse. I can’t 100% guarantee it’ll work out to the degree I take it, but it usually falls into that general vicinity. Yes, I’m gonna be an arrogant, condescending schmuck about it; after nearly 40 years, my patience in dealing with horseshit is gone, and I have no qualms about letting people know this. Oh, don’t like it? Get in line with everybody else; that’s my mentality over it. I will tell you a funny thing about it though: I’ve seen similar situations that I’ve endured come up with other people in life who may not be on the spectrum, and I’ve tried offering my words of encouragement to them, stating that this was an opportunity for their growth, to see what they’re truly capable of, and…at the time I said it, they took it as though I was just being a pompous douche, thinking I wasn’t considering how frustrated they were with having to endure so much at once, cause my life is nothing like that. Well, a short time later, I’d more thoroughly explain what I was trying to tell them and….they admitted to me some instances where indeed that adversity did get them to grow and mature; they still found it uncomfortable, and beyond frustrating….but that’s part of how you grow in life; it’s never thru ease and comfort, adversity is what strengthens you…but….I’m getting off topic now.

I’m gonna conclude this piece shortly, as…I’m not gonna lie….I had more difficulty with this entry than I anticipated (even going so far as to delete several paragraphs altogether), just not immediately sure entirely how else to articulate my point; I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it at a later date…especially when I’m hopefully not as bogged down with the imminent situations I have coming up over the next few days. Let me, in fact, conclude by bringing up something I’ve discussed in so many entries already, including the previous one that’s linked at the top:

Seriously, name one thing about me that my relatives and former classmates didn’t laugh at me for growing up? Just one….seriously, anything will do. Well, to add to that list, because my Dad showed me the path to critical thinking (and I will be discussing that further this Summer), I had a tendency in high school to often discuss “questioning authority”, and being the “weird” kid and on the East Coast, you can guess about how well that went over.

Well…..you laughed, but…..who was freaking out when the pandemic hysteria and the lockdowns went into effect?

 

 

Comprehension: First Blood Part II

Don’t forget to look me up on Instagram and Twitter under “RealAutismSpeak” if you want to follow my daily exploits, for more than what I’m able to put out here–for the time–on this blog! Hope to see you there!

I’m pushing my planned content for June out a little further at the moment, due to some upcoming mandatory things that have to be taken care of in my own personal life, resulting in my currently not having as much time to really focus on articulating what I want to say in my entries….which is likely also why I’m currently stressed out out of my mind, and contributing yet again to some bad spells of indigestion; I’m not gonna lie, I’m also a bit scatterbrained today, so….it’s been fun. In a way, I’m glad I got up early to handle my chores, as a result; gives me more time to handle a good bulk of it. No worries folks, I’m hoping to have everything cleared up by this weekend/shortly thereafter, but all the same just giving you the heads-up, if you’re wondering why what I announced on Facebook and Twitter for this month you haven’t seen yet. On the plus side, this does give me the opportunity to elaborate more on one of the biggest points that I started discussing in these two pieces…..with a really, really big one coming this Fall; this entry is actually somewhat of a “spinoff” to the first one I linked to here, and in a way….you could say this is all leading up to that one in the Fall….the one I’m already in the midst of jotting down notes for, and have a title for, to give you an idea. I don’t just want to drop on it on you, willy-nilly though.

The point I’m trying to make in all this is a very big one, essentially….because it’s one of the biggest factors–I think–of being on the spectrum, and one thus far I don’t really think our community uses to its full advantage…like even close. I don’t think it’s used to its full advantage–or anything resembling it–cause our community has never been properly taught and/or nurtured to do so; we’re surrounded by a very emotionally-charged, and short-sighted society of people. Society at large–at least from what I’ve gathered in my 38 years–loves drama (as stated here ), but then when the shit hits the fan–and it does way more often than “anticipated”, is left with its pants down in fear and confusion. Well….that’s where we come in. Why do I say that? Because….with proper nurturing of our capabilities, I believe the shit doesn’t have to hit the fan. Oh, our non-Autistic brethren are always gonna want something silly to complain about, no questions asked–and for a guy like myself who is so results-oriented, I admittedly have little patience for that–but in the very least, I see the Autistic community as the ones who could keep everything on a more “level” basis, as it were….at least in a way where fallout wouldn’t necessarily be anywhere near as bad as it often gets. As you’ll come to understand more from me over time, I am never ok with the idea of the “lesser of the two evils”, or anything related to that, whether via politics, other forms of current events, things going on in your immediate surroundings, your shopping experiences, or what have you. I find the concept utterly pitiful, and pretty much see it as social manipulation, and accepting an abusive relationship, and I’ve even gone into detail a little bit about it in these entries, here. Have I willingly dealt with them myself? Sure, but I also didn’t know then what I know now….and in most cases, I make sure to limit the damage as much as possible by making sure that I take the brunt of it, and not allow it to fall-out with other people when possible; they shouldn’t have to endure when my decision-making skills aren’t the best, but I’m getting faaaaaaaaaar ahead of myself, and the majority of this I’ll explain later this year. Lemme dial it back for now….

The entire point of this entry is to continue trying to articulate to my community–and those interested in understanding us better–just what are minds are truly capable of, and with the proper nurturing; I actually have had this instance in my life on my mind throughout the years, but for whatever reason, it came up during one of my rounds of errands recently, and I decided it made sense to talk about it here….especially as I specifically recall a former classmate inquiring with me about it many, many moons ago….like a quarter century ago, to be specific. The reason it stuck out to me so much was….I never did well in school. Yes, I achieved the honor roll in my final semester of high school….with a B average; you know what that B stands for, to me? Bullshit. I gave it my all, and all I could manage was a B? When I said it helped contribute to a major depression that I collapsed into, I wasn’t saying it for my health. Regardless, most of my school tenure I really struggled, and it was part of the reason I decided college would not be a good fit for me. So, what was this one very key moment for me, you may be wondering?

In 8th Grade, we had this Social Studies teacher; not gonna lie, very attractive, but definitely had an “out-of-the-box” way of thinking, shall we say; I know you’re thinking “well Russell, that’s right up your alley!” Hoooooooooold your horses, there, pilgrim! I still had zero idea how to use my capabilities, didn’t know I was Autistic yet, and I said “out of the box”, so…..it was like taking on additional challenge on top of all the miserable struggles I already had; still, her teaching style was memorable, and did want to see what the students were capable of, as opposed to as just repeating things or whatever. Anyway, she had us do an assignment where we were all put into groups; the idea of the assignment was as follows:

We were citizens of a nation, and she was the monarch, but stepping down; in our separate territories, we had to find a way to unite together.

Looking back, I confess (admittedly, only now)…..if we were citizens of a nation while she was monarch, why the hell were we suddenly separated, and had to find a way to unite together? Oh well…this is a quarter century ago, now. Regardless, that was the objective.

As usual, I was fully committed to helping getting the best results possible, and was…immediately told to go pound sound, by my other classmates…because of course I was. The other classmates, as usual, were just busy socializing over pleasantries and nothingness with each other, but the ones that genuinely wanted to do something all seemed to keep saying the same thing: they were gonna go to war with the “inferior” parts of the territories, and take them over, or some such. Every time I tried to offer my input, I was once again thrown to the side, and told I didn’t matter. Essentially, it was pretty much every experience I always have with almost everybody……almost.

This was….actually a bit of a different scenario; again, our teacher was an “out of the box” thinker; she wanted to see what the students’ capabilities were, not simply just have us repeat words back to her or some shit like conformist robots; I give her serious credit for it. I guess…even then–in my early teens–I kinda pieced all this together on some level; and that combined with my results-orientation, it led to my doing this:

First of all, I told one of the other classmates that I withdrew my citizenship from their country, since my voice clearly didn’t mean jack shit; that classmate….cared as much as pretty much all the others did. Second, I told the “former monarch”, I request a reinstatement of citizenship under her leadership. From there….I cased the entire scenario….

We have several groups of “citizens” who are more concerned about “going to war” with each other and taking over the other territories for their resources, with their fellow citizens being apathetic and complacent, and going along with it….but that isn’t the objective that our former monarch laid out for us.

I’d like to mention here that the assignment was a 2-day experience, and the reason I bring this up is because of what I told our teacher as I left class that day: She told us as we left her class “I think I know what’s gonna happen from what I’ve seen”, and I responded to her with “no, I know what’s gonna happen, and I’ll let you in on it before class, tomorrow”. That night, after finishing my other homework, I got to work on writing out my plans to her: If the “citizens” wanted war so badly, I’d give them war. A foreign invasion was on the horizon, and their only way to be strong enough to take it on was to put aside their differences, and unite together to take it on. I left it in her mailbox the next morning before classes. As I entered her class that day, she pulled me aside, and told me she loved it, but made some minor alterations, and I accepted (no, I don’t remember what they were…this was 25 years ago now). I walked to each table, and gave each group a copy of the details of the coming invasion…..what I experienced that class period…..was pure amazement….

You should’ve seen them: my fellow classmates were in a state of shock, completely thrown off their game. Their idiotic, barely-existent plans were collapsing in front of them, in the face of a true challenge; it was like watching chickens running around with their heads chopped off, and since I was no longer a “citizen” of their nation, I couldn’t have cared less, and I was able to gleefully take the whole thing in. I felt like the ultimate puppet master…..and the best (and most pitiful) part about it? It took virtually no real effort to do, all things considered. They hadn’t thought any of it thru, they weren’t going to…..but I did. Interestingly enough, as the class all finally did unite together after their utter freak-out, then and only then did the classmates who had otherwise blown me off come to me, expressing “concern”, like they needed to assure my wellness in the whole affair or something; it was absolutely adorable; I even remember two in specific who came to me, and no their names will not be used here….you probably already know that.

One of the classmates, however, suddenly realized “something is up”, and he took me prisoner of their nation, and wanted me to testify in front of everyone. Yes, folks….suddenly the entire class gave a shit about what I had to say, and basically I laid it out for them how I played them all like puppets, and then laughed maniacally like a TV character, since that was my understanding of social skills. A few class sessions after that, our teacher discussed our experience, and I’ll never forget that she specifically laid out “the results of that experiment: I had nothing to do with that guys; that was entirely Russell’s plan.

Some time after that, a classmate of mine caught me on the computer in the library, and asked me about the whole scenario regarding my pulling the whole strings of that experience….and I laid it out for her what I was thinking, and my thought process. She was absolutely amazed; she was so amazed, and I never forgot how amazed she was….that a few days ago, I sent her a message on Instagram letting her know that I was gonna be discussing the event in detail on this blog! Of course, a quarter century later, she didn’t remember…and who could blame ‘er? This one stood out for me though, because it was one of the few times during my school tenure I really got to shine, and show my capabilities, even if I didn’t understand them yet; it simply took a teacher who went beyond the traditional conformist approach to do it.

And from that point on, no one else eeeeeeeeeeeeever took me for granted, ever again; yes you can laugh now 😉