Saturday, 27 June 2009

I'm not racist but…

I have a fear that where I live is quite typical of most towns in the UK. I can walk down any busy street, go into any busy shop, and hardly hear a word of English. Any time you go to a food outlet you struggle to make your order understood. Late last night I was on my way home and walking out of town when I came across two gentlemen who had some enquiries regarding the location of establishments where they could exchange legal tender for a chance to view the exposed breasts of young ladies. The strange thing? After flagging me down their first slurred words were not "Oi mate…where's the titty bars at?" but "Oi mate…do you speak English?"

Friday, 26 June 2009

This is my love for you

It pretty much goes without saying that I've never really been that great with the opposite sex. Instigating significant relationships is probably one of the biggest challenges to people with Asperger's Syndrome (AS), fraught as they are with everything we're not. It requires much non-verbal communication, flirting, conversation skills, showing an interest in other people, eye-contact, subtle body contact and so on and so forth.

Before my diagnosis I'd always done my best, you know? I mean, God loves a trier. It usually takes me a while to get comfortable enough around someone to talk at least semi-freely instead of being all tight and nervous and self-conscious. It's bad enough with everyday people, but faced with a girl I find attractive or like and it seems to render me fairly useless. I just clam up. It's not so bad if it is with someone you are around a lot as you get a chance to get comfortable and relax, but I'm not around women a lot. When most of the people you meet are in small bites I just lack the skills to make those instant, lasting impressions. I lack that "confidence" that women seem to value above all else.

Since my diagnosis I kind of know how Adam felt in the Garden of Eden. Although I've always had AS, plucking my diagnosis has opened my eyes, made me aware, and made me ashamed. Although I've had girlfriends in the past…now I can't see how I'll ever have one again, which is odd because I'm still the same person after all. Now that I know what is wrong with me the fear of failing is stopping me trying. I seem to resign myself to "this isn't going to work so why bother" right from the outset. In fact when I think about it, it's almost as if I've been subconsciously pushing women away my whole life. Women don't really dig the facial hair, and I'm certainly no Schwarzenegger but my body type is already beyond what most women would "go for."

And that's just the initial flirty stuff, how would I ever cope actually going out with someone again knowing what I know now? Could I put myself through "Why do we never just talk" again? Could I put myself through "Let's go down the pub" again? Could I put myself through "Come meet all my friends" again? Could I put myself through "Why are you so rude" again? Could I put myself through "You never listen to me" again? Could I put up with making all of the sacrifices again? Could I put up with having to keep my flat clean again? Don't get me wrong, there are plus sides to relationships too; it's great always having someone to text or email just to say about something funny you thought of, or something interesting you've heard. It's great having someone to cuddle and sometimes go places with. But I can't help seeing a relationship as the greater of all evils.

I guess the truth doesn't always set you free.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Piecemeal we die

Things are not going so good right now. Nothing major; no-one has died, helicopters do not need deployed and my DVD player is working fine. In fact I can't really put my finger on one single thing, it's just the culmination of lots of little things. I think this is what doctors refer to as depression.

The venue I go to at the weekend has now closed down so it's a major blow to a lot of things in my life. My routine, the fact that if I ever left the house at the weekend then 70% of the time that was where I went, I could fit in there, there were interesting people to watch, I liked the music...they had a pool table. What am I going to do at the weekend now? The only other pubs are those ghastly ones that play dance music and are populated by "lads" in this stupid uniform they all have at the weekend where everyone wants to wear the same clothes. I'm going to have to find a new pub now, form a new routine.

There is a nice music festival that happens around this time of year that I always go to. It's local so I can walk, have a drink and just chill. I checked the internet to see when it was on this year...this weekend! So I missed today's event totally but I'll go to tomorrow's. I just hope the weather is fine. I am supposed to be going to someone else's BBQ but I'm going to cancel that. I'll have to lie about the reason I can't go because;

a) they will want to come with me to the festival
b) I'm a horrible person

I'm actually writing this at work right now. Something else I'm hating in my life. I work too much, I care too much...I spend time running after people who don't care, do sloppy work and have no attention to detail. I shouldn't care as much as I do but I can't help it. I should be like everyone a bad job, enjoy myself at the weekend then come in on Monday to find out some schmuck gave up his weekend to fix my work. I should be out and about at the weekend relaxing and doing what I want, or doing nothing. Not at work the whole time, I never seem to get to rest.

I have stuff I need to do for other people but haven't yet done. I always tell myself I'll do it at the weekend, then I spend my weekend in work and don't feel like it. I start to go for long periods with my phone off, I stop checking my e-mail. One of these days I'm going to buy a sandwich board that says "LEAVE ME ALONE".

I can feel myself slipping away. Giving up. Resigning.

Monday, 15 June 2009

I like watchin' the puddles gather rain

I stepped outside my comfort zone this weekend and visited someone I knew a fair bit from the internet. They'd moved into a new house so I went for a visit. I travel light, but I took my laptop with me also as I pretty much take it everywhere. It's the only thing I have of any real value so I don't like leaving it at my flat when I stay somewhere else. It doesn't have any monetary value, but it has all of my email, documents, and a lifetime of dead projects for which one day I may unlock a spell to resurrect. This laptop is my whole world.

The friend that I went to see was quite typical in that their life seems to revolve around other people. I found it quite exhausting just listening to it all, and in a way it made me feel quite odd too. It's hard to explain really, but it was a mix of inadequacy and confusion. When people are so fascinated by things that you have no facility for processing it's hard to imagine how normal people think. It's not like someone liking sport but you don't, or someone liking pop music and you don't, but when people's lives revolve around bonds and interactions with others that you have no means of creating, and they have such glee in knowing information you yourself have no way of amassing it's a glimpse of a world you'll never know. But that's how it is for people not like me. It brings home that my solitary world goes beyond just doing everything on my own, it brings home that I'm not just like normal people only a little different…it shows me that I'm nothing like normal people. At all. Everything that is life to them means nothing to me at all.

Something else I learned was that other people's lives seem so…complicated. It's like the more people you involve in your life, the more complicated your life is. As if their problems and issues osmose into your life, and your issues and problems into theirs. The more people you surround yourself with the larger the collective pool of conflict you bathe in. I couldn't do that. On reflection my own life is incredibly uneventful, my problems minor and my drama almost non-existent. Not only that but my problems are seemingly my own…they are neither shared nor halved. I have no particular desire to involve people in the issues I do have. The whole experience was quite eye-opening, but it isn't a world I could live in, the idea frankly terrifies me.

So in the morning I picked up my laptop, my light travel bag…tossed my only baggage over my shoulder and came home to my DVD, my XBOX. My so-called life.

Friday, 12 June 2009

It's that time of year again

I have next week off work as a holiday. I don't really have anything planned, I'm not going anywhere, but I have to use up my holidays so there goes 5 of them. It's not a very good time for me to take time off from work, but it never is. We're always too busy. I'm sure I'll spend most of my time sat around doing nothing thinking I might as well be at work. I hate the break in routine and I know I'll just feel a fair amount of anxiety through the week.

I'm going to do my best to at least do something I wouldn't normally do, or go somewhere different. Maybe even stay overnight somewhere and experience a different town for once. I'd also like to give the flat a top to tail clean and tidy up, though if I do I won't promise myself that I'll keep it that way all the time as I know I won't. I have a programming book I'm stalled with so maybe I can kick start that again. I just hope that at the end of the week I don't look back and realise I've done nothing.


When you've just had a meeting with your boss telling him how behind schedule things are on vital projects due to temporary staff not pulling their weight and remind him at the end of the meeting that you're on holiday the following week and his response is "Is that a joke?" - and he means it - nothing good is going to come of it.

Long story short; I am not on holiday next week after all.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

You've lost that drunken feeling

I remember being young(er) and going out at the weekend drinking. Drinking at parties, at mate's houses when their parents were away and all the usual places that teenagers drink. I was thinking recently that it's something I don't really enjoy as much as I once did.

Now it could just be that I'm "growing up", and maybe this time next year I'll own a wine cooler and there will be unopened bottles in the house. Bottles that I bought for their individual properties and the foods that they go with rather than the price and the picture on the label. Maybe a collection of spirits too…not me for, but for the guests. Maybe one will even complement me on my choice of single malt.

Maybe it's something else. There are only three situations where I really drink now. First is at work nights out, the social events of work colleagues etc and I don't really like drinking at those events. Once I start I find it hard to stop, and once I've had a few it's never long before I come out with a joke from the pages of my own, unique, "nothing's off limit" joke book. It can often lead to feelings of "just what did I say last night" in the morning.

Second drinking location is my flat, at the weekend, maybe playing XBOX or watching a movie. I'm quite often so occupied with my activity that the drinking takes second place. Before I know it it's 2 or 3am and I'm not as much drunk as I am totally exhausted. Or sometimes I'll steam through the drink and wake up at 5am on the sofa, fully clothed, DVD looping on the menu and the night has been wasted.

Third location is when I go out at the weekend. I seem to drink a lot and don't really have much stamina for it. Again after a few hours, being quite drunk seems to suddenly come over me and I get all hazy and just stumble off home.

Over the years I seem to have lost the ability to obtain that "pleasantly drunk" feeling. I seem to go from sober to drunk without noticing the journey, or just sip away and end up not really drunk at all. I'm beginning to think that maybe the social experience is quite an important ingredient in the drinking process. Maybe when you're in constant communication with people you have a barometer of how drunk you are. If you start to feel all heady maybe you know to start slowing down. Also being in conversation with others is something to focus on and drinking is just the backdrop. When I think about my own drinking habits, when I go to a pub I'm only there to people watch and listen to the music…I don't have anything to do but drink. So maybe I drink much faster than other people do as they're distracted by other things?

Not that I'll stop drinking, of course. It still passes the time, still gets me to sleep, still helps me get over bad experiences.

Friday, 5 June 2009

People ruin everything

Now I like my movies, but I don't like renting movies and I'm no longer much of a cinema-type person (I used to be, I used to go to the cinema a lot and it's a habit I'd like to get back into). So I'm a buyer of DVDs. I guess you could say "collector". I like buying a DVD as I like seeing my collection grow…piles of DVDs that I feel reflect my personality better than any silly quiz or psychometric analysis could. My mind in plastic form.

To me there isn't much point in renting movies as if I actually like it I have to go out and buy it anyway. If I didn't like it, at least it is still in my collection like a character-building scar. I'm well aware of these new internet-based rental services where you pay a flat fee, select a movie via the web and they send you it out to watch at your leisure then return it. The main reason I am aware of them is that people are always bloody telling me about them! They think that because I like movies these services are something I must be interested in. They don't realise that I'm as much a collector as I am an observer. They drone on about how great they are, "yes..but I don't like ren…" how simple they are "yes..but I don't like ren…" how convenient they are "yes..but I don't like ren…" how you can keep the movie as long as you want "yes..but I don't like ren…" how it's free to send back "I DON'T LIKE RENTING MOVIES!"

Recently…I relented. I was given access to a three month free trial for LoveFilm, and there is a movie that is no longer in circulation that I wanted to see so thought I'd give it a go. Signing up was easy, picking the DVD easy and they had what I wanted. Result! So I tossed a few more movies on my "wish list" that I have on VHS but hadn't seen in a while and didn't like enough to re-buy on DVD. Two days later the movie was on my doormat and I was quite looking forward to watching it.

However there was something I had plain forgotten up til now because I am completely out of practice with dealing with what they call "other people". I had forgotten that I am the only person with any respect for property that isn't theirs. I am the only person who can manage the dextrous task of transporting a DVD from its case, into my DVD player, without first using it to grout my bathroom tiles. And then back into its case without using it to slice pizza. However what was completely new to me is that I am seemingly the only person who has no requirement to place a DVD on the floor and stand on it while wearing stilettos.

Quite frankly I was almost too scared to even put this thing into my DVD player. I had come this far, though, so I slid it in and it played in a fashion but stuttered badly and the player was having a hard time reading it so I ejected it right away. To be honest I think the only person who could get anything from this disc would be a blind man using it as a source of Braille. I imagine there is some quite racy text to be felt from the canyons and crevices left there by the eroding passage of careless fingers.

The disc is now in the return envelope, full and frank feedback on the website, and my subscription cancelled. Other people? You can keep them.