January 2005

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not getting it

This guy i know, Scott (not to be confused with Scott or Scot, whom i also know), once said something to me that has really stuck with me. This was years back, when i was going thjrough some break-ups and other such emotional upheaval. Scott and i had some good conversations back there, down at his old record store.
i was trying to describe for him the sensation of depression. Scott is a smart, straight-forward guy, intelligently introspective himself, and not without insight. Still, he just couldn’t get it. For him, there were happy days and sad days. Bad moods were just that; moods to be dispelled by the coming of better times. It wasn’t just his optimism; it was an inherent unknowingness of depression as a condition rather than a simple mood.


He said to me, “Why don’t you just make up your mind to be happier?”. Well, i agree with the positivity, but for truly depressed folks, it’s a matter of chemistry as much or more than it’s a matter of positive thinking. Scott was always an altruistic and supportive friend, who wanted the best for others, but he never could seem to get past that barrier of “not getting it” with depression. It was just too foreign to him.
So too, now, do i encounter similar attitudes with people and Asperger’s. My best friends understand it well enough, as they’ve been living and loving alongside me for years. Other folks who’ve only known me for a little while don’t always get it. Ultimately, i’ve had to give up discussing aspie problems with such folks, no matter how much they want to help. They just can’t seem to understand that my behaviours aren’t subject to the same sorts of modification that theirs are. i simply do not relate to other people on the same level that they relate with me or with each other. When pressed to be “normal”, i experience emotional and sometimes physical discomfort, depersonalization, and other para-psychotic symptoms.
In situations where i find i have no pre-set behavioral script or model to follow, i either lock up or overact; there doesn’t seem to be a healthy medium. Of course, day-to-day, things go well enough. It’s just in socially stressful situations that things begin to break down.
i appreciate support and advice, but some words are ultimately counter-productive, usually those coming from folks who just “don’t get it”. Typical are remarks along the lines of, “You act like this, so this happens. You should act like that, so that will happen…”. i’m already aware of what i’m doing and saying, and usually aware of the fallout, but typically unable to correct in time.
Another aspie has described it as being like “choosing not to throw up when you’re sick”; it’s just not possible. i feel like it’s having an itch that must be scratched, and the longer i leave it, the worse it gets. In the past six months or so, i’ve gotten better at identifying certain aspie behaviours in myself, but so far the best “solution” i’ve found is to simply remove myself from uncomfortable situations (a process which i find, in itself, to be extremely uncomfortable). It does nothing good for my social life when i have to force myself to abruptly walk away from people because of some unexplainable combination of stimuli.
i find it suprememly frustrating when i’m presented with “answers” by people who never really understood the question in the first place. i have to rationalize it, and tell myself that these folks do mean well, and actually care, despite their inability to grasp Asperger’s. i can only hope that they take the time to further educate themselves before providing any more frustrating (if well-meaning) advice.
i can’t deal with this syndrome by applying “normal” behavioral modifications. i have to deal with it within the framework of an altered mental process, one which, unfortunately, so few other people will ever understand.

It was Robin’s birthday party last night. An old friend of his threw a great celebration at the J.R., with tables of great asian food and an open bar (!). There were two bands and much revelry. i left a little early myself. i guess i just wasn’t “feelin it”. On the walk home i de-briefed myself, and had a little insight into my social condition.


There was the usual cast of characters. i had some great conversations and laughs with a few local characters. Jim (a retired Shakespeare prefessor) and i exchanged quotes. Ed, the larger-than-life South African engineer filled me in on “the rest of the story”, from where i last saw him one drunken evening. i finally asked Miss Nancy why everyone always refers to her by that moniker. She paused and asked, “Are you pulling my leg?” i really had no idea; and when she realized that the confusion on my face was genuine, she laughed and asked me if i had ever heard of an old TV show called “Romper Room”. Well, the name sounded familiar, but i couldn’t say that i’ve ever seen an episode. Turns out that our Miss Nancy actually is the real Miss Nancy.
With some folks with whom i share some conversational connection, talk is easy. With others, where i don’t have the right comment at hand, it can be like pulling teeth. i catch myself just patiently standing there, not knowing how to make small-talk, seeming more like some sort of lurker than just another party-goer. The feeling was getting too strong, so i left.
Up this morning, i was mulling over these thoughts. i’ve long seen that i’m unusually comfortable “across the counter”. Several folks have noted that i have some sort of special rapport with wait-staff, clerks, and cashiers. i think it’s because i have a reason to be there; i’m a costomer or a patron.
There’s already a sort of relationship-framework in place, with rules and boundaries, which makes it easier for me to loosen up. In a great place like, say, DV8, the environment and characters extend the invitation further. When i meet the same people away from the counter or outside of the coffeeshop, i tend to handle things poorly, unless the other person is an exeptional character themself.
In the end, i suppose my awkwardness makes for less friends, but better ones. Still, i often wonder: who else has the “shifty lurker” or the “manic entertainer” scared off? How often will i be forgotten when the memory of me is too uncomfortable? How often will i be the one causing my own discomfort?

i’ve been hearing this new Green Day song on the radio, and it seemed somehow familiar…

Green Day:

I walk a lonely road
The only one I that have ever known
Don’t know were it goes
But its home to me and I walk alone

I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one and I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk a…


An’ I’m gonna hold on for the rest of my days,
’cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An’ here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wasting no more time

But, here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go again,
Here I go…

It’s not just me, is it? Even the pacing of the two songs is similar. i can’t have been the only one to notice this.
And for what it’s worth, the Whitesnake kicks ass on the Green Day, at least in this comparison.


The mammoth three-masted gaff schooner Athena showed up in Soper’s Hole sometime yesterday morning, and is still dominating the scenery today. We get these awful “mini-cruise-ship-with-masts” in here a few times a week, which for all their size and apparent glory are a blight in a true sailor’s eyes. Athena, on the other hand… well, sure, she’s got an elevator in one of the masts, but she’s a pretty girl, and a sailor too. The scale of things is overwhelming; i sailed the Dink out yesterday evening to take a look, and found that she was anchored waayyy farther out in the outer harbour than i thought. That, to me, is a sure sign of a well-proportioned boat; it’s really only the antlike folks on deck that give it away.

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