I had to add all that green color in photoshop.
I congratulate myself on becoming mature and gently old, on surmounting difficulty; understanding my fate, and letting up, letting go, but truth is, I’m a liar who has pushed the past away, across the border of my small world. Protected by miles of badland emptiness, a curtain of silence has dropped around me; the outside world doesn’t exist except at set frequencies along the electromagnetic spectrum; television, the radio, the internet, and down deep, that’s the way I want it. I crawled to this place, breathing, and no more. I walked and walked the hills, each step forcing a breath, like a respirator powered by my feet hitting the ground. If I had quit walking I would have died.
A wildlife rescue takes injured raccoons, snakes, and birds and once fixed or repaired, returns them to the wild, whatever that means. But some birds will not be birds again, living with wings broken, bent to sickening angles, improper geometry, hopping, not flying: broken into submission. Dogs travel to new homes, to live skittish, nerve-wracked, terrified, and distrustful lives; barking, scratching, insane human lives. Some animals go crazy, like a chimpanzee wrecked by cruelty, by its forced employment in labs or zoos or circuses, tortured by people whose job it is to twist and maim other beings without conscience or regret; psychologists, cosmetics-makers. Children are disobedient rats. Women redden their lips with monkey blood.
What suffering creatures know, when subjected to human perversion, every minute of their existence, is that even if they were to be set free – they will never be free.
An old soul of a chimpanzee discovers grass, a tree, air and sky, for the first time: old, too old – just a breath of what might have been, too late, and we congratulate our compassion.
I have created my own rescue a shelter; it is very pretty, very quiet location somewhere outside of time, outside of America, my house old, pre-me, built long before I was born. Other children played in the dirt, grown by Wyoming, shaped by wind, yellow dust in their lungs, cool air sinking from summer storms, building character. There is a character that I play; the old lady on the block who gardens, tends beauty, at arms reach, under my feet, a profusion of living things tangled, overgrown, so unlike the powdery banded desert. People like my yard and my face, but they don’t know that I’m an injured animal, wings broken and limping toward the wild. Salvation is instinctual, but sanity is earned by walking, walking the world away.
It’s a myth that fathers know how to repair numerous vehicles, from lawnmowers to trucks to motorhomes. Maybe they did 50 years ago, when mechanical objects were simple and the “parts” could be purchased at the local garage, parts store or hardware. Along with $0.59 worth of electrical tape, some accurate tips from the guys at the garage, a bit of “tinkering” and all would again be well in the family stable.
Not at my house. My father, the engineer, was just not handy – an Asperger thing? It took several hours of fumbling, dropped bolts and nuts, skinned knuckles, Band-Aids and frequent “Hell’s Bells” before he’d relent and take the car to a mechanic. He tried to teach me to do “simple” work, like rebuild the carburetors (3) on my Austin Healy 3000, a task that British mechanics dreaded. I ordered the complete kit from the Warshawsky Catalogue and a new manifold, and set to work.
My father was useless; indeed he was infuriating. Desperation set in; but desperation can be a great generator for full-steam-ahead effort. Somehow I got everything back together with new parts. The fact that the car started and was drivable was a victory in my mind, although it ran no better than before. It was a decade old by the time I bought it, and victim of Chicago’s awful winters. Salt had rusted the gas tank and underside. The electrical system was a mess. I eventually sold it to a man who bought it as a “toy” for his children. He planned to park it in the drive as a “pretend” car. A fitting end for eccentric British design.
This and other father / daughter vehicle misadventures taught me to find an honest and skilled mechanic wherever I lived. A real stress-reducer. The mechanic I have trusted for twenty years just retired: a minor panic set in across town; he had many loyal clients. Also, I’m poor, so upkeep on two old trucks, a 1972 Chevy C-10 and a 2004 Dodge Ram, is increasingly DIY territory. The Chevy is 46 years old; the Ram, 14. Guess which one is causing more problems, not necessarily in number of repairs, but the infinite difficulty of doing even minor repairs oneself, and it all has to do with mysterious computer modules, incomprehensible diagrams and the inability to access whatever needs replaced. And the horrendous price to replace “parts” that are a bunch of “functions” manufactured as units. You have to replace the whole damn thing.
Case 1. The turn signals and wipers on the Chevy quit working. The fuse box is in the cab, behind the brake pedal: each fuse is labeled. $6.00 and 10 minutes to fix.
Case 2. Horrendous hail storm: The Dodge’s instrument panel is dead. No wipers or turn signals; door locks inoperable. Headlights switch on when starting the truck; cannot be switched off. A number of (misleading) warning messages appear. A fuse box exists; the labels are in code, which don’t reveal the function of different fuses. The owner’s manual says that the info is on the fuse box: it isn’t. I drove the truck; a bit inconvenient not having turn signals, but use of these is an “option” where I live.
Next morning: dead battery.
Thankfully there are numerous forums about old vehicles online; mostly “guy chat” about Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge and anecdotes about victory and defeat. I found one that addressed my very problem in a multitude of variations as to which gauges and accessories weren’t working.
As usual the comments went like this:
Guy 1. Try this; it worked for me. Blah, blah, blah. Guaranteed to fix the problem.
Guy 2. Where is the Blah? I can’t find it.
Guy 3. I tried that, it didn’t work.
Guy 4. Where I live it rains a lot; the problem comes and goes.
Guy 3. Hey! Me too. I finally took it into the dealer. They can’t find the problem.
Guy 1. The Blah is on the firewall.
Guy 2. Inside the cab, or the engine compartment?
Guy 5. Forget it! You have to replace the module. A refurbished one costs $295.00.
In this case having no money in my budget for auto repairs was a great opportunity. Water condensing or leaking inside was a match to the heavy hailstorm. $295.00 for a “module?” No way. It’s been hot (upper 80’s) and dry (10-15% humidity) so I let it sit for the weekend, and then jumped the battery. Instant start; gauges, accessories, door locks working. $300.00 to $400. 00 saved.
In fact, the real value in having some knowledge about vehicles has been BS detection. It was obvious many times when a repair estimate was inflated, when a mechanic was lying about what was causing a problem and piling on “fixes” that were not needed. Garages really do prey on women (and males) who are clueless.
My conclusion? Sometimes it’s good to not have money: rich people buy $60,000 – $70,000 vehicles in which the plastic computer modules come from China and are no more reliable than in a cheaper car. Plus “luxury cars” are so overloaded with electronic gadgets and gizmos that failure is inevitable. Repairs? The owners manual says, “Return vehicle to manufacturer.”
The current and false psychological BS is that Asperger females have inappropriate obsessions with “male” stuff and therefore have male brains. Nonsense. The old advice for women was to marry a man who was good at fixing the maximum number of household systems and objects or to marry a man who could afford to hire a plumber, carpenter, electrician, mechanic, roofer, and lawn service. The advent of women working, abundant divorce, and the choice to be single, and the fact that the number of men who can fix things has dwindled, along with number of things that can be fixed (Doesn’t work? Throw it away), women more than ever need to learn self-sufficiency.
Schools need to offer more skills training across the board, but especially programs for girls and women, and not limited to hair cutting, cosmetic make overs, “nail-tech” and fashion / retail, but including traditional male skills that will be useful and money-saving, married or not.
Perfectionism is just a word until one begins thinking about the role it has played in one’s life. As usual, it is an activity, which when fused with social expectations, becomes an object of practical, moral and economic opinion. Perfectionism is not a “thing” but a tool with which to assess standards and compare outcomes, especially in art, literature and other creative endeavors.
Intelligent-creative people, minorities, and the disabled are held to much higher standards of “achievement” than typically-abled humans.
Google “perfectionism” and a highly negative picture appears. Once again, psychology has made a judgment about PEOPLE who are perfectionists; they are bad, unhappy, trapped in a corner, wasting their lives. We see the “pyramid scheme” poking through: common everyday perfectionists are self-abusers, unhappy, and paradoxically, create failure, but upper echelon “money-makers,” are praised as perfectionists. A start up company, or artistic catalogue, once it becomes “trendy” and profitable, is contrarily opined as a positive result of perfectionism. Long hours, dedication to a goal, the march of progress and final economic success are added to the unending search for human perfection.
Athletes and immigrants are particularly subject to having their lives rewritten as journeys that fulfill the cultural need for success; rags to riches, American Dream, unlimited opportunity; the story of those whose early deprivation presented signs of future fame and influence. Perfect performance is always a component of the myth, but the expectation of perfection can be destructive. How many “celebrity” children are crushed by such demands? And, the distance between failure and perfection grows and grows in American culture. It is no longer enough to be a “millionaire.” One must be a “billionaire.” One cannot simply post a funny video; it must generate millions of views globally. One cannot have a handful of close friends; one must garner the notice of thousands of strangers. And so, the perfect life is money and attention; not for any good reason, just because notoriety is the new “unreachable” scale of perfection.
We lie to children and torment them with one treacherous statement:
“You can be anything you dream of being,” is a bald-faced lie.
This pompous assertion cuts off actual potential by a “mental device” that has become typical in the U.S.; by presenting a socially reverse-engineered pop-culture myth, the “you can be anything” statement is delivered by individuals who have already achieved great success. The accompanying myth of their (supposedly) meteoric rise always includes magical signs that predict greatness – a “lucky” legitimacy and foreshadowing of destiny by a chance meeting with a superstar; an injury that turned out to be a blessing; a lost parent who directs a child’s fate from the afterlife; a sudden supernatural voice, at the right moment, that said, “never give up.” These motivational events happen to almost all humans, but do not produce fame and fortune in the majority. The seed is planted: anything less than extraordinary destiny becomes failure.
Dream big! Achieve little.
The goal of becoming an adult who can find satisfying work, a worthwhile partner and the means to raise a family, has fallen to the bottom of the pyramid, when this “outcome” is the common denominator by which “average people” express the greatest source of happiness. But this achievement is not possible: everyone must put up the appearance of becoming more, and more and more.
I do think that Asperger individuals have a tricky relationship with “perfection”. Perfection as the act of seeking and creating meaningful work I see as no problem, but when our “passion” becomes a “fate” by which we are judged, it becomes a noose that tightens against our “defects”. Expectations as “the gifted child” create a problem: our lives have been laid out before us as a burden and an obligation; “gifts” are dangerous in a mediocre society. This is an ancient human theme in which those who arrive with something “extra” are expected to save everyone’s ass by acts of sacrifice, but are also expected to “disappear” once they are no longer useful.
We see this again and again in young men who are asked to die by old men; soldiers have difficulty in not identifying the two as one and the same: Young males must die for the old. Isn’t this upside down? Why isn’t it the old and useless males, who have had their chance at life who are expected to “volunteer” to “save” young fathers and sons from unwarranted tragedy?
We encounter perfection and want to merge with it, which for me at least, is my subjective experience of “bliss”. Mythologies the world over warn of such improper boundary crossings by humans into the realm of the gods. Countless myths offer up Heroes who are granted “fire stolen from the gods” that costs them everything, but in the long run restores balance to society, which is the real goal of their existence. So, in this philosophy, talents and abilities are not the end in themselves, but means to ends; ends that are available to humans in general when an individual applies his or her abilities toward a realizable goal.
American culture is blind to this deeper and wider actualization of success. In the U.S., only those at the apex of the Pyramid count. The promise is to elevate “the peasants” to the upper levels of the pyramid, but this is logically impossible. The top 1% needs the 99% of humanity at the bottom to fail – and defines failure as “not being” at the top of the hierarchy.
Aspergers are susceptible to being judged on the basis of success as something elevated beyond “normal”. In the neurotypical scheme of life, a child obsessed with knowledge dares to pass into factual reality, which contains the secrets of the universe; a domain where few socially typical individuals dare to go. Taboo, because neurotypical predators crave domination: any “successful” neurotypical would use intelligence to exploit other people. The idea that “Aspergers” have little to no social ambition is simply not credible; in fact it is a source of derision and fear – and opportunity for social predators. .
As a young child I was terribly confused. My intelligence was superficially praised, but harshly received. Intelligence was tested and tracked and presented as important, but forbidden to girls – actualization of “power” was a crime against nature, religion and males of any kind: against all of “defenseless” neurotypical humanity. Ironically, extra abilities and the good fortune of “beauty” could be exploited for family status (marry a rich man, become a “beauty queen”, an actress or celebrity) or to manipulate others behind the scenes to benefit a husband. Selfish ends were quite okay, but a desire to improve a greater sphere of human need was forbidden. To expand knowledge, opinion, laws or the frontiers of human stupidity was, and is, forbidden.
It has taken a lifetime to construct a workable “fix” for myself: Perfection happens. Nature is the domain of perfection and it is informative that nature never rests, but is the continual unfolding of possibilities within a set of laws (boundaries) – a balance of change and continuity that is perfect only in the moment. It’s okay to strive for perfection in creative work, but it’s good to understand that perfection is ephemeral.
Life may be a tool by which the universe acknowledges its own perfection.
However, no human is required to be perfect: What a relief. Nor is any child or adult required to fulfill any expectation that the label “Asperger’s Disorder” attempts to place on them.
Clouds are important to a plain landscape; those familiar shapes that skate above
the horizon, trailing shadows that examine the featureless plateau;
extracting details that cannot be seen on a clear day
and thereby adjusting our foolish estimates of near and far.
Any stranger who trifles with our two-part scheme of land and sky risks losing
the outer world: the fate of isolation is best embraced as a gift
that one could not have known was waiting in Wyoming.
The answer to the question, Who Am I ? is simple for a visual thinker.
“I am everything that I have ever seen.”
So I’m posting my autobiography (since 1995): More to come.
I hate to fly. I really, really hate to fly. The last time I used an airplane for travel, was to return from a visit to my very ill mother. A thunderstorm struck; there was severe turbulence and the heat in the cabin failed. I hid under a blanket (too small) that only covered my head. A sixteen year-old boy in the seat next to me (and some gin) had to talk me through the flight. Combo: severe emotional stress (family) plus lightning, thunder and unstable airplane = Never fly again.
In fact, the only flight I ever enjoyed was a return trip from a business meeting in LA: the client took us to every Hell hole in Hollywood. Too much food, booze and bizarre behavior. I was so hung over that I didn’t care if the plane crashed and we all died.
People who fly all the time may not think about it, but much of modern life is unattainable if one doesn’t fly.
The childhood corollary to this handicap was a fear of heights, in particular roller coasters, Ferris wheels and amusement rides. This pretty much eliminated summer entertainment. I stood around holding everyone’s food, drinks and jackets and purses. People made fun of me and tried to trick or shame me into “not being a party pooper” Being an Asperger child, none of this manipulation had any effect on me. I learned to take a camera with me – it was a convenient excuse to wander off by myself and avoid being harassed. And I eventually turned into a photographer, an activity that has enriched my life, whereas the lack of amusement park rides has not affected me at all.
Fortunately, I love trains and driving, although trains just aren’t what they used to be. I drove all over the U.S., but once I moved to Wyoming, I’ve stayed put. I guess all that time I spent traveling around, I was just looking for Wyoming.