Monday, 30 November 2009

Alcohol-free beer, decaf coffee and vegetarian burgers

I ventured out to watch some bands at the weekend at the venue I usually go to. Since moving from the previous venue (that closed down) it's never been the same and the nights are usually dead. This weekend it was different. There were three bands on and the venue was jumping. It was full of people to the extent that I hadn't ever seen before. I guess live music is really coming back into fashion and people are getting out and supporting it.

On a completely unrelated note and nothing at all to do with audience numbers, this weekend instead of the usual DJ between bands they had burlesque dancers instead. The art of burlesque is having a resurgence of late, helped along by the usual media conspiracy. Those clever people on TV have once again worked out that if you want to popularise something you have to target women. But…how do you target women to like something that seems to be inherently male? Quite easy…you tell them to like it. You drag the issue out on Loose Women where you have performers explain that it is about empowering women, about women taking control of their sexuality. Then you bring out the big guns…"it's not women being exploited at all, if anything it is the women who are exploiting the men".

I've never really seen a burlesque show before so it was a first for me, and if you've never seen one I think the best way it could be described is; it's strippers who don't take off their clothes. Mmm. Quite. I actually found it quite mundane and rather tedious, not at all entertaining and not even erotic despite me being firmly heterosexual. Individually they were dull, but the fact that all that changed were the costumes - the routine and moves were all identical, just made it worse. The constant backdrop of the girls stood behind me hollering didn't help. Not only was the noise annoying, but I could practically see the strings attached to them as they urged the girl on stage to affirm her freedom, take control of her sexuality and exploit the men of the audience. Or something.

It's a symptom of our watered-down society, where something male-dominated is taken and weakened and women are told that it empowers them just so they'll buy into it. The result is something useless. It isn't pornographic enough to interest men, and it doesn't really interest women either, they just don't want to admit that the emperor has no clothes.

Unlike the woman on stage.

This rabid desire to equalise the sexes is just diluting everything. Making everything bland. Putting these issues aside, it was a bit of an insult to the bands also. When they were playing, people milled around the edges of the room, drinking beer and chatting with their friends. Then when the bands left the stage and the burlesque girls came on everyone rushed and pushed and cajoled to the front so that the men (who I assume have no internet access) can leer and the women can jeer, desperate to demonstrate their equality with men.

It just bored me. I was glad when the corsets finally came off as it meant the girls were leaving and the next band was starting.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Taking care of business

One thing about having Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is that I suffer from really bad procrastination. I'm terrible at "doing" things, be it housework, dealing with bills, or doing things I've promised people I'd do. I don't know why, but to me doing nothing just seems to be a better use of my time. I think it might be because people with AS don't seem to get the pleasure from things that other people do, so find it harder to get motivated to do them. I also never really seem to get the point of doing a lot of things. Why should I be doing this? Why can't I wear the same clothes all week? Why do I need to shower every day? Why can't I leave the dishes in the sink until I need them again? Why do I have to introduce myself to people? Why do I need to change my bedsheets? Why do I have to ask people how they are? Then there are other barriers to "doing things"…do I need to interact with other people? I hate dealing with people over the phone, in fact I hate the phone in general. I have a landline for internet use but I don't actually have a physical phone. I have a mobile but what I love about that is that I can turn it off when I don't feel like communicating.

These issues bring me onto a few lingering jobs that I haven't got around to sorting after about 2 or so years. I had a few services at my last house but one. In other words not where I used to live before I lived here but the place before that. And I never really got around to cancelling them, but I've still been paying for them. I know it probably sounds strange to you, but I'd rather bury my head in the sand than actually "deal" with things, even if it is costing me money. Especially if it means having to use the phone.

While I consider myself to be quite high functioning, it does show me how hard it would be for people with more extreme AS than I have to live alone. To be honest, if it wasn't for direct debits I'd have a much harder time living alone and I'd probably be sat here in the dark with no heating, thinking that one day I guess I should get around to opening those letters. Not only does it remind he how hard it must be for some people with AS to live alone, but also how frustrating and annoying we must all be to share a house with as partners.

Anyway, these un-cancelled services have been on my mind more and more these months and I finally said to myself that I was going to sort it once and for all. I also find I get like that with most things…the motivation to do them builds over time rather than me seeing that something needs to be done so getting on and doing it.

So in the morning I did my usual routine of turning on the TV to watch Mythbusters, fired up the laptop to deal with my e-mail, and I also hunted down some phone numbers and dug out my old address in case I needed it. So I phoned up the one I thought would be easier to deal with as I had the number for the actual branch I needed to deal with. I was on hold for ages which never helps, but I finally got through, chose to leave out some details such as the two year gap in the middle, and luckily their computer systems were good enough that everything went smoothly; they knew who I was, what service I had and they were able to cancel it with no fuss and said they'd even terminate the direct debit their end too (which was good, but I'll still have to check that myself in a few weeks).

So that was a big relief. So big that I was on too much of a high to want to deal with the other service :) I know I promised I'd deal with both, but this is better than nothing and I'll get the other one sorted next weekend…you have to walk before you can run after all. I did make up for it though by also booking a physio/sports injury appointment for next week to get a niggling injury I've had for years finally looked at. So I ended up sorting two things that were years over due, just not the two I had planned on. Roll on next week and I'll get right back on the horse.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Though it all looks different now, I know it's still the same

I live in a town big enough to have a lot of bars and clubs, but not big enough to have bars and clubs that cater to any niche groups. There was one that suited me but it closed down. Now the bars and clubs are only for the middle of the road people. They all play the same dance music and admit all the same people all dressed the same.

They come and go, these pubs. Some are really busy and are seen as "hot" nightspots, but some are dead. When the old pubs die they don't die a Christian death…they are reincarnated instead. They shut down and open up two weeks later but with a new lick of paint, some new furniture and a new trendy name. They're still the same pub though…same location, same drinks, same music…the only difference is that now they are full to bursting with people. So full that the queue just to get in passes three pubs in itself. In a few months the novelty has gone, the queues have gone and the pub goes through its next reincarnation.

It seems that while us with Asperger's Syndrome like things to be the same…NT's like things just because they have changed.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Everything is dying

I've given up drinking for now so my weekends are dying. The year is being suffocated by the fallen leaves. As the end approaches, day by day, "Christmas time" becomes more pervasive. Unavoidable. Peace and quiet dies a little each day, your right to not be a part of society dies a little each day. Everywhere you go Christmas songs and "cheer" surround you, tug at you. Invade you.

Just die already. Die and be born again.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Oh, oobee doo, I wanna be like you

There is a current fashion and I'm not sure if it is the same across the UK or just localised where I am; but lots of females are wearing these leggings that look like a faux denim. What I don't understand is how these fashions grow and how organic a process it is. It could be that women all subscribe to the same magazine and one edition they told everyone to buy these leggings. It could be that most women all enjoy shopping in the same store and they buy whatever the "latest line" is. Or it could be that a few women wear them and other women look at these women and think "they look good, I'll get some" or maybe "lots of women are wearing these so I want to wear them also".

Whatever the reasons, whatever the origins, at some point these women are making a conscious decision to look the same as everyone else. It's one of those NT traits that I just don't get, I don't understand the thought process that makes people aspire to mediocrity.

It's not just these leggings, of course, it is most months (especially the Summer ones) in every year that eventually women largely walk around wearing the same thing. As always it was Oscar Wilde who coined it best; "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

Friday, 13 November 2009

Losing the plot

I'm a big fan of movies and I tend to enjoy all sorts…or most sorts. Even if a movie isn't that great I always like to think I at least got something out of it. I'm also a collector of movies and I like to see my collection grow. There is one thing I sometimes have problems with, and I'm beginning to wonder of it's something relating to my Asperger's Syndrome (AS).

With some movies I tend to have problems following character-related plot elements. Not always, but there are just some movie plots that revolve around a lot of characters and their interactions and relationships with each other. Invariably these change at some pivotal point in the movie and it is then that I tend to lose track of what is happening. When the defining moments come I often can't remember that particular character's past story and motivations, and their relationships to the other characters. I can tell something meaningful is happening but as I don't remember the "old" I can't compare it to the "new" so the point of the change passes over me. Often I don't even recognise people as being the same character when their role changes - I don't connect that this is the same person who has just changed and not a new actor in the movie It's especially bad in foreign language movies that are subtitled, and for some reason movies that involve the same actor playing multiple characters.

A possible reason for this is that my AS is stopping me fully connecting with, or relating with people. Stopping me engaging with their motives, desires and feelings. Maybe I'm failing to record in my mind their past deeds as it's not something I'm used to doing, so when the plot twist forces me to recall their emotional journey I just draw a blank? The dual-character issue could just be a doubling up of my problems as to me they are the same person. Maybe it's too much of a stretch to remember two sets of past motives for what is the same person given I have problems remembering just one. With subtitled movies I find it very had to relate the voice to the character and it's almost like everything is just swimming around in one big soup. All mixed together as any character could be relaying what is being related along the bottom of the screen.

Of course it could also just be that I'm not intelligent enough to be watching anything that isn't laden with special effects.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


It's dawning on me that my concept of friendship isn't quite what I thought it was. I think I've been under the influence of friendship-by-proximity. I've changed jobs a few times and I know the drill…everyone says they want to keep in touch but you all drift apart anyway. Lots of people I know are still friends with people from old jobs so I know it's just me…or more accurately people with Asperger's Syndrome.

I've always liked the people I worked with in my previous job and liked spending time with them. Or so I thought. Now that I've changed jobs and don't have to spend time with them and will only have to go to things I'm invited to…I have a strange feeling coming over me. Almost like a weight off my shoulder. Not a big weight, not a boulder…more like a few handfuls of sand. I'm subconsciously coming to terms with the fact that I probably won't ever see any of them ever again and it's actually a strange relief of sorts.

So does part of my brain force me to believe I am friends with these people because I have to be? Because I work with them? Or do I do my best to be friends but I don't recognise the mental effort it takes, so now I don't have to be friends with them I can avoid having to make that effort? Sure I lose the friends, but my life is easier.

The other aspect to this is one of paranoia I guess. Not being able to read people's motives or genuine feelings very well I don't know if they also are only friends-by-proximity too. Do they only pretend to be friends with me because they have to? Because they work with me? I don't know to be honest, and I'm not sure I want to contact these people to say "hey you want to go for a drink tonight?" only to be met with ums and ahs and excuses.

I just feel like as the days drift on I'm getting more and more used to the fact that that part of my life is now over and I'll probably never return to it. And not only that, but for the rest of my life I might never really find a genuine, stay-with-me friend. For many reasons - not just because I find it hard to know what is involved in maintaining a friendship, but now I also realise I have a fear of committing myself to something that is not reciprocated. A fear that as I don't know who is a genuine friend I could end up feeling humiliated.