Unconditional love is something I probably will never totally understand. I have problems even with the basic idea of love, let alone having it with no conditions attached, but even with that being the case, that is the main topic of today’s post. Let’s start with a more general discussion of trying to understand the perplexity of unconditional love, and then I will talk about it at a personal level.Read more
Even after 32 years of marriage being alone is something I still relish. It seems I must have my alone time. That seems to be especially true now that I am in my senior years. But, I have always been pretty much a loner. I just never have seemed to know what to do in a group.
I suspect a big part of this is probably due to my self-proclaimed Asperberger’s Syndrome. Interactions with others have always been difficult for me. It takes a special person to accept my nuances and call me a friend. I have had a few in my life.
Being alone is self-empowering to me. It is when I have my most creative thoughts. My daily routine includes several “alone” times.
After my daily shower, I am alone to digest the latest news via my Internet feeds. I admit that that particular alone time is shrinking by self-choice as I just can’t seem to stomach what is going on in America today.
Another serious alone time is my man-cave otherwise known as the barn. I am fortunate enough to have a 24 x48 ft pole barn where I do all my physical type things. It is where I spend quite a bit of time working on uRV ( my micro RV). This weeks project is to rubberize the roof to keep out all those pesky leaks during downpours.
Another alone time is “going up to the mountain”. That is the highest point on my property where I have a six-foot glider. I spend many warm weather hours up there swinging and reading and just plain looking at the sky and thinking.
Being alone is something I can very much handle…
Being a person with some strong Aspie traits, I just don’t handle stressful situations well. Fortunately, I don’t totally lose it as the word meltdown infers but I quit acting like an adult and instead am a panicked kid. In autism studies, these episodes are called meltdowns so I will call them that for the purposes of this post.
One of my most prominent stressors is criticism. I am plainly oversensitive. I often perceive my wife’s criticism as calling me a complete idiot. When those situations occur I frequently go into at least some level of meltdown. I start shouting back about how she doesn’t think I can flush a toilet without screwing it up! Usually, when the episode is over I can evaluate what happened with a more adult view but that doesn’t ameliorate the damage done to both of us by these episodes.
From the studies I have read I know that over time, these types of situations alienate friends and peers. They have also caused marriage problems and even divorce.
My meltdowns for sensory episodes are less frequent as I just don’t allow myself to get caught up in them. Instead, I either avoid the causes or quickly flee the situation. I don’t like crowds and especially people standing behind me. For that reason, I often shop in the off-hours. My photography helps with crowds. I tell myself I am there to document the event and therefore manage to control my uneasiness more easily.
I know the severity of my personal meltdowns is much less than others on the spectrum. I am grateful for that and sympathetic to others who are worse than I.
It has been a while since I put out a post about Autism concentrating primarily on Aspbergers’ Syndrome. This post will be about sensory sensitivity. Of course, that means being sensitive to sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell and is often a symptom of Autism.
I continue to discover new traits in my life that point me to Aspbergers. This one came from a billboard that I saw several times a month while traveling back and forth from my small town to a larger one with more services and medical options.
Let’s go through the list with my stories:
Sight – I am a late riser in the winter months and an early riser the rest of the year. The reason for that is two-fold. One is that I have too much to do around this 3-acre homestead to spend extra cool hours in the morning in bed. 😉 The other one, more relative to this post, is that I can’t sleep in a room filled with any significant amount of light. My eyelids just don’t filter out much light it seems. I am very sensitive to bright and flashing lights. Even TV flashes cause me to wake up from a nap.
Touch – Creases in my bed sheets are a cause of my frequent sleep interruptions. I am an Apple watch guy now, and it tells me I am an extremely restless sleeper. Another touch sensitivity is that after about six months of use, I have to replace my bath towels as they just get too scratchy. I could add a few more to the list but I think you get the idea.
Taste & Smell – These are two biggies for me. There are things that just make me wacky in the taste and smell area. I just can’t understand how anyone can put mouthwashes like Listerine in their mouth. The taste and smell are utterly intolerable to me. But something that is even worse is the smell of mint in any form! Whenever I get even a whiff of mint I pretty quickly abandon the area.
It seems that all the oral hygiene manufacturers think that adding mint to their products is a bare necessity! For that reason, I have to special order many toiletry items so they are mint free. If I had a choice between sitting next to a cigarette or even a cigar smoker, or a gum chewer, I would without a doubt chose the smoker. Mint just drives me up a wall.
Sound is usually included in sensory sensitivity but since I am totally deaf I am at least free from that one. 🙂
I recognize that for many on the Autism spectrum these types of things cause a panic meltdown. I am thankful that for me my reaction is not quite as severe.
Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment – Will Rogers
It’s time I put out a post on the new quote in the header above. I think experience and wisdom often go hand in hand and as Will says learning from mistakes is a big part of it. I personally think I can remember more details of the things I got wrong than the things I got right.
Due to my Aspie characteristics, I made a lot of social mistakes. Looking back I can see where opportunities were presented to me that I just wasn’t aware of at the time. People giving me hints that they wanted to have a relationship with me if I would only agree. I was a wimpy kid who simply couldn’t believe that anyone would be interested in me as a person.
Not standing up for myself was another place where I learned from my mistakes. I simply let too many people take advantage of my naivete. Looking back I can see where I was a pretty gifted guy and quite a few people took credit for things I did. I just didn’t realize at the time it was happening.
My mistakes in the past have taught me the good judgment I now have. It is not that I can go back and relive those times, but at least I try to use my current good judgment on today’s circumstances. Maybe this is another example of “Wisdom is wasted on the elderly”. I don’t know.
I have about 20,000 pictures in my personal portfolio. Probably one-third of them could be deleted and not really missed but that is beyond the purpose of this post. I have a list of about a hundred or so that are 5stars. One of the top ten in that category is shown below. I entitle it “Box of Eggs”. I think my attraction to this picture is because of its symmetry. My Aspie traits are particularly honed to order and symmetry. I found the picture in a Des Moines museum some years ago.
So, for this artsy Saturday, I give you a “Box of Eggs” yet again…
All my life I have been inexplicably attracted to patterns. I never understood why until one day in the last year or so I discovered that a strong attraction to patterns is one of the characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome. At that time I discovered that I have many others. Now that I have a name for so many of the things I was troubled about in my youth, it gives me a peace that I have been searching for all my life.
Walls, such as this one in Galena Illinois are simply beautiful as far as I am concerned. They, like the lines on my face, show my life’s experiences. So, for this artsy Saturday, I give you another fascinating facade.
I have previously discovered that I have some characteristics that are identified with Asperger’s Syndrome which is part of the Autism spectrum. As a result, I have been more deeply studying the topic. I don’t call myself an Aspie as I have not been formally diagnosed with that condition but, I am certain I have common traits with it.
I have recently discovered that there is a LOT of variation in what people say is the definition of autism. Here is a little more about that:
Perhaps we could detach Asperger’s from autism and say that Aspies are different from other autists the way zoologists say that cheetahs are different from leopards. Let us stipulate the obvious: they are different species.
But in my analogy, naming them as different species does not erase the fact that they belong to a broader category called “big cats” or “predatory felines,” and giving Asperger’s a separate name does not erase the fact that there are large areas of overlap with what I call “deeper autism.”
The above was (I repeat) only an analogy. The point intended is to say: we can change our labels and create a more exclusive definition for autism. But the fact remains: the spectrum is broad because it is describing a fundamental reality.
Autism (broadly defined) is much more common than we thought.
To me, the classifying of autism is in a funk right now. No one knows just how to classify it. There is now a term labeled “Broader Autism Phenotype” (BAP) that describes people who are “sort of ” autistic but still highly functioning. I think that kinda describes me.
I know there are probably some people who have children with severe forms of autism that resent someone who is, for the most part, a fully functioning member of society using the label. I can relate to that because when I hear that someone is “deaf” I immediately question if they can hear but not fully understand the spoken word. Many with that condition are labeled as “deaf.” when they are really just hearing impaired. There is a world of difference between the two and so I kinda, but really not too much, resent them saying they are deaf.
Another example might be that someone proclaims they are a cancer survivor when all that entailed was to have a mole removed. To someone who is struggling with lung cancer that is demeaning of their condition.
I don’t know how this will all eventually work out. We can change our labels but as it presently stands autism is a very broad spectrum because it describes a fundamental reality that there are many of us who struggle with life’s social situations.
I will continue to proclaim that I have some Aspie type characteristics but will not call myself an Aspie. I hope I don’t offend those who struggle with this condition much more than I do.
For this artsy Saturday, I wanted to give you something simple yet beautiful. While I was coming back from a three day RV trip to southern Indiana I stopped at Paoli Indiana for lunch. After eating I decided to take a short tour of this three-street town and came across this picture. It may not be symmetrical but I love the patterns that came through so well in the afternoon sun. One of my Aspie traits is to see and appreciate pattern where others wouldn’t. I guess this is one of them.
This is going to be one of my Aspie themed posts or so I image but it also could be my almost total lack of exposure to women in my early years. Six of one, half dozen of the other I imagine.
Simply stated I don’t like eye-candy. Some of you might not know just what eye-candy is so I will explain it here. Eye-candy is females who are on many TV shows and public events. About the only purpose of these women is to add a visual, and usually sexual, appeal to the subject at hand. Most often they are scantily dressed, wear seven-inch heels and tons of makeup and actually contribute almost nothing to the topic at hand.
I have been to a few large car shows in my time and have seen eye-candy in bikinis draped across the hood of a car. I usually just walk by to the next car. I guess there is something attractive for these women to make them take on these roles? Maybe it is the attention, maybe it is a validation of their sex appeal, maybe something else. Why in the world would anyone want to put themselves in this environment? It seems a breeding ground for possible sexual harassment cases.
To me, these kind of roles are an insult to womanhood. They are more meat markets than anything else. It is degrading instead of uplifting.
I just don’t like eye-candy..
This is an extremely hot topic that I want to pursue delicately if I can. It just seems like the words “Sexual Harassment” has come to mean something quite different than I had imagined. Having had limited opposite-sex contact even in my youth, and my Aspie characteristics even then limited my experiences in this area.
To be honest, whenever I had even a casual contact with a female in my young adult years it was most often an intimidating experience. Not for them but for me! I just didn’t know what to say or how to act. As far as I was concerned the female of the species could just as well be from a foreign plant. I wasn’t immune from teenage hormones so, yeah I dreamed of the time when I would take someone in my arms and give her a big kiss. Part of that dream was not to ask permission before the encounter. That didn’t happen in any of the movies or TV shows so why did it need to happen in real life?
I have been sexually harassed on two different occasions in my life. The first was when I was a pre-teen and didn’t really know what was going on. The second time was as a young adult when a girl, who I really didn’t know, came up to me and gave me a big sloppy kiss when I was least expecting it. I suspect that the kiss was a dare from her friends as she rushed away giggling
Were things different in my days in the 1960s than they have been for the last few years? Maybe you now need permission to kiss a girl and if you just come out and kiss someone without permission it is sexual harassment? Are you liable to lose your job thirty years later because of this “assault”? Maybe these kinds of contacts are even more difficult than I imagined?
With all that is going on now, if I were in the workplace and saw a woman approaching me in the hallway I would make sure not to even get close to her. Maybe I would accidentally brush against her and she would take it in a sexual mode? For sure I would never dream of joking around with a woman now as something I say or do may invoke a sexual harassment charge. I don’t know, it just kinda scares me now. I fear that, as usual with many things, we are going to the extreme on sexual harassment. I hope it doesn’t turn into a “guilty until proven innocent” thing. Since most of these occurrences are a “he said” vs “she said” I just don’t know where the middle ground is?
Given where I am in my life right now, I don’t really need any answers to all this stuff but I am kinda curious. I continue to not really understand the female mind, or at least the female minds I have been exposed to in my life. Women still tend to intimidate me on the first contact. I know a lot of this is because of my Aspie characteristics and that fact helps a little but really not very much. 🙂
I just wonder what effect all of these current allegations will have on women in the workplace. Will employers who currently have a predominately male workforce now be even more hesitant to hire females. If he does will sexual harassment allegations inevitably follow? It just seems that this current flood of charges won’t help in getting breakthroughs for women in the workplace. Of course, there are serious sexual predators out there who need to be accountable for their behavior, but some of these current allegations just don’t seem to rise to that level.
But what do I know?
Often times in my life I feel like I am going in circles. The same things seems to always crop up to mess things up. I didn’t get married until I was forty so I had my share of dates. But on second thought I really didn’t. I knew I was not very good at it so I didn’t even attempt that often. Except for a very few occasions I just never could get past the second date. With those kinds of experiences in life I knew I was different from many around me.
I would also later learn that I was just not very good at first thoughts and casual conversations. What came out of my mouth was often alarmingly blunt to many around me. There were some that were brave enough to tell me so. I didn’t have a clue until that happened. I said what I thought and I imagined everyone did that!
It may sound like I have the wrong title for this post but stay with me as I am coming to that point. Many times after failed dates I would lie in bed going over our conversations in my head. I would often come to the conclusion that if I would have said this or that differently things might have gone better. I would lie awake and keep trying to find that one sentence that, if I would have said it better, things might have worked out.
It just didn’t dawn on me at that age that I was not much of a extemporaneous speaker or conversationalist but I did know that I was a pretty good writer. I always got an “A” in all my composition type classes in high school and college. What was the difference? Of course it was that writing is by nature a recursive task. Few writers can ever get it right the first time. We constantly rewrite. Writing is recursive, at least good writing is recursive. I would finally discover that my sometimes strange characteristics were made for writing.
My Aspie characteristics make me a pretty poor speaker but a good writer and in the end I don’t mind that at all…
I know one of the reasons that we have the current incompetent in the White House is that too many white men are afraid of becoming a minority. They are afraid of what will happen when their say is no longer the dominant one but instead one of many. For the most part white men have been dismissing minorities for decades and don’t want that to happen to them. They are afraid of many things but this is probably one of the major ones.
If none of the clues on RJsCorner have given you a hint then I will bluntly say I am a white man. But I am a white man who has been in the minority most of my life. I know what it means to be discounted in one form or another. I know what it means to be ignored.
Social Situations – All my life I have had characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome which is part of the Autism Spectrum. Since early age I have had difficulties with social situations that most just take for granted. It was always difficult for me to form friendships especially with females. I just couldn’t, and probably still don’t, understand what they want from a relationship. Even friendships with other guys has been difficult. I simply can’t do eye contact so that makes me suspect to many first time acquaintances. I have always been a minority when it comes to social situations.
Being Deaf – I have been significantly hearing impaired since my teenage years and completely deaf for the last thirty years. That puts me in about 1% of the population and thus a minority. I struggle on a daily basis against all the deaf stereotypes. You would be surprised just how many people still believe in the “Deaf and Dumb” thing! Many basically tell me to go away instead of trying to accommodate me in any fashion. In the old days I used to ask them to write me a note, but most won’t even consider that. I have always been a minority because of hearing loss.
I am an Independent Thinker – I frequently get into trouble because of this. I was kicked out of a church for saying what I am sure 80% of the congregation thought. I questioned the “profession of faith”, that is those things I am supposed to believe without any real evidence to prove them. I am “Blue in a Red State” and that makes me a definite minority. Being an independent thinker I am driven by logic in a very illogical world. Being an independent thinker makes me a minority.
As a result of all these things I don’t fear being in a minority. I am not afraid of the barbarians at the gate as I am one of them. To all my friends out there I want to tell you that being a minority in some ways is a very freeing thing. It helps you relate to all those you once feared. It gives you an additional dose of empathy. It makes you a better Christian if that is your flavor of spirituality.
Happily join us and that alone will relieve much of the stress in your life…
I have over 20,000 pictures in my current photo portfolio and there is a story behind every one of them. Given that I am again reaching my breaking point concerning today’s politics I thought I would drop back into my cave and tell a few of those stories. To that end I spent a couple of days this week going through my pictures of my life.
One of the criteria for this new category it that the pic needs to be “artsy” at least to a degree and the other is that I can describe a story behind the picture. I don’t know how long it will take before I have the stomach to return to this maddening world but I won’t likely run out of picture stories for quite some time. So let’s get started. 🙂
In The Beginning….
No I am not going to recite Bible verses here. That practice is way overused as far as I am concerned. Instead I am talking about the beginning of my marriage. I know that since I didn’t get married until almost 40 that is not really the beginning but it did start a new and very different phase of my life. Anyway that is enough of the pre-story. Let’s look at a couple of pictures.
I never dreamed I would ever get married let alone in the whirlwind pace that it happened. My Aspie traits prevented me from having much luck with the dating scene. I just could not figure out what girls wanted. I had a few dates in high school and college but the relationships were all short-lived. After college I seriously tried to have a meaningful relationship for a while but again not much luck.
Then came that day in December 1985 when someone asked me if I wanted to go with them to a company party. I reluctantly said yes. By that time I have pretty much given up the idea of a female relationship so I guess the stress was off. After the party we ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning. She didn’t seem to mind that I only occasionally had eye contact with her and that I was probably not asking the “right” questions.
After that night I just couldn’t get her out of my mind. I very often did not get to sleep until 3am or so. We had quite a few dates in a short period of time and then things got serious. We were engaged three months after that first date and married about three months after the engagement!
We spent a surreal honeymoon in Hawaii. The pictures here are three of about 100 hundred that we took on the trip. I’m pretty sure they were taken in Maui. The first two were off the lanai of our hotel room and the third was a volcano on top of a mountain.
I can’t say that our relationship in the 31 years since then has all been smooth sailing. We, like most others have had our spats. Some more serious than others. I still struggle with my Aspie traits but at least my wife seems to understand that I really do love her even if I don’t show it as much as most husbands…
Some people live their lives one way and some another. Some think that for today they need to do A.B.C.D and then tomorrow repeat that sequence and continuing to do that the rest of their days. And then there are others who think that for today they need to do W.Q.E.T.Y and then tomorrow H.P.I.Y and avoiding as many repeats as possible.
I don’t know what makes some people A.B.C.D and some the opposite, but I know that my wife is of the former type and I am at the other end. Most of the adventures we have been on in our 31 years of marriage she was originally opposed to doing but now, at least sometimes, she looks back on them with joy. Our extended stay in Mexico for my job was one of them. Another was our 4-year stay in New Jersey. A recent one that I almost forced her to go on was a week long stay at Disney World. She still says that was just utter agony.
I don’t know what makes her such an extreme homebody who insists on an A.B.C.D life? Within a year of the day we were married she said she had to quit her job as life was just too stressful. She then started out her A.B.C.D life and it continues today pretty much as it has been for thirty years.
I, on the other hand, just get bored when I am forced to do the same thing for very long. I did work for the same company for 30 years which enabled me to get a pretty good pension but that 30 years was basically in four very different fields. When I retired I spent six years making country furniture including reproduction Hoosier Cabinets. But after that period of time I was totally bored with the work. Part of this for me is probably my Asperger’s Syndrome. I need constant stimulation to feel I am accomplishing anything. Once I get good at something, it’s time to move on the next thing.
From her perspective I’m sure that living with an Aspie has been difficult, especially a deaf one. They say opposites attract and that is certainly true for us. For the most part we are happy and love each other but of course, our differences cause frequent conflicts.