Autism: Living on the Defensive

Being a high-functioning autistic has several drawbacks, one of which is that in conversations I never have any idea how the other person will react to my actual words. From observation I can quite decently predict what type of person I have in front of me, and so what their intentions are; aggressive, shy, seductive, but in actual conversation it is basically swinging a baseball bat in a furnished room, just hoping to hit the ball coming at me and even then hoping it will go back out the window it came from. Most often I hit air though, my comment completely missing the person by a mile, or hit something unintended, which most often annoys the person speaking to me.

It is either this or shut up completely, knowing I will probably miss the target, and this shutting up is what I have seen with so many autists I have encountered. Through being told time and time again that their logic doesn’t make sense, in the end, or especially at a young age, the autist decides to then not speak again. With me this was a conscious decision, but quite quickly made it’s way into my subconscious because it had a positive effect; people didn’t think I was so weird anymore, basically because they had nothing to react to.

And this is a problem.

When an autist shuts up, he or she cannot learn reaction patterns and will forever stay that child-level of awkward when actually talking to people. That awkwardness will always be there, it will probably never go away completely because it will always come from  a conscious awareness what the proper answer is and not heart-felt, but this learning appropriate responses is what helps an autist get by in life.

Now, having said that, I do have to add that nothing is worse for an autist, at least it was for me, for someone to keep harping on of trying to make you talk. But when the autist talks, put away what ever you were doing, turn towards them, and show (not fake) interest to what is being said. Try to follow the path of logic the autist follows getting to their conclusion, even if it is an uncommon one, and through putting your own opinion and thoughts to words compare that to what you think about the topic. And if an autist asks a question, answer it, no matter how strange or silly the question may be. If you laugh about the question, then please, explain why you think the question is funny or strange. A simple: wow, I never heard that question asked before’ or ‘it is not something I usually talk about, but OK, I will try’ helps a mile for the autist to learn the tricks and possibly even understand the art of conversation.

If the autist attempts to make a joke and nobody laughs, it is not logical in the autist brain that they might have said something strange or even offensive. The most logical conclusion in my mind when this happens is that people were not listening or didn’t get the joke, and I am likely to repeat myself and add harm to injury.

Speaking for myself, I do not mean to be offensive, ever. When I open up and speak what ever is on my mind or in my heart it means that I am trusting you with my most precious commodity: myself and what I believe to be true. Don’t shut the door on me by saying ‘wow, that is so offensive!’, but explain WHY it is offensive, and I will most likely explain to you why I don’t think it is.

If you don’t then, quite quickly you will find yourself on the outside of the circle I dare to talk to, after which I ban you from my heart, then from my mind, and after that for me you don’t even exist and I wouldn’t think twice of stepping over your bloodied battered body if I ever came across it and move on. And that is not me trying to be offensive, that is just basic fact to me. I have to divide the world into people who matter to me and people who don’t matter, and people who don’t matter I don’t want in my life because they make my life difficult. I divide the world into people who are dangerous and people who are not dangerous, and guess what, I don’t keep people who are dangerous to me around me.

But the choice to be my friend is all up to you. All you need to do is listen, then talk, and then listen again.

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Movie rant: By the Sea (2015)

Ho-ly cow! I don’t do positive rants often, but ho-ly cow.

Angelina Jolie acts her heart out and goes totally bat shit crazy in a Fresh style movie, so it’s a bit slow here and there, but the scenery, the story… Just beautiful. Brad Pit still can’t act for shit, but he doesn’t need to as he isn’t the lead here. This was HER movie to make and it absolutely shows, from beginning to end.

Nothing more to add really. Go see this. Don’t expect an action flick, get a bottle of wine and take a sip every time they drink (bring a big bottle), and seriously: enjoy.

 

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Autism and Trust – A little rant

I am going to be a little cryptic here to spare some people’s feelings, so just accept the premise as is.

I was invited to a party tonight, and I don’t get invited to many parties as I don’t have that much friends, but at the door I was rejected to enter because someone else who was not really invited entered late and apparently was more important than me, as they hadn’t seen each other in a while.

When it happened I accepted it for what it was, but as I walked home I got angry about it, showing me that there was something inherently flawed in that logic. I wouldn’t assume that if I went to a party uninvited that they would open the door for me, let alone reject someone else because I was there. And if it is just a matter of numbers, then how am I less than any other person there?  And so in my mind it must mean that I am not good enough, just someone to fill the numbers, while logically I know I am just as nice and friendly as any of the others there… So why did I got dumped and not someone else? I don’t know.

Maybe it’s because my face doesn’t show emotions and so it looks like I don’t mind that much, but I do. Things like this just gut me, like my intestines have been pulled out through my nose, and it takes a long time for that feeling to disappear, longer than with most people who can just ‘get over things’ easier, shrug and move on. I don’t ‘get over things’.

Being invited is rare for me, I don’t go to parties all that much and so when I can and actually do, then it’s important for me, but it jut seems to me now that the others just don’t care about what I think or feel, or just don’t see the pain they cause by turning me away. Not that I expect or even should always get my way, though deep inside I would of course like that. Just don’t promise me a cookie, then show me the cookie and then take it away again. That is just unfair.
It feels like someone saying ‘trust me’ and then kicking me in the shins, after which they can say sorry all they want, but it still feels like being kicked in the shins, even if you tell me I can join next time. That is just giving me a band-aid after you kicked me in the shins. It’s a nice gesture to make to stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t take the pain away you caused in the first place.

The only other explanation I can see is that this guy gets that it will hurt me, but trusts me and our friendship enough to put me through this because there would have been a problem otherwise, but someone kicking me in the shins like this sure doesn’t look like a sign of a friendship to me and so it makes me doubt his sincerity, which brings me back to just being a number.

I am angry, I am sad, and right now I crave everything that I know is not good for me, anything to take this pain away and make me forget about it and ‘move on’. I know I can do that, but it takes drastic measures I am not willing to take. I want ice to cool my wrists as I can feel my heart beating, and I know that isn’t a good sign. I want to kick things and scream into people’s faces, but I know I can’t, as those expressions are not in me. I can’t allow myself to do those things as they will damage my friendships and my social life (the little I have), and so all I can do is swallow, which makes me sick to my stomach.
And so in writing this I just want to vent a little, talk about it to someone, though I know that if the wrong person reads this it will diminish me in the eyes of the kicker, who is someone I actually like, and I don’t have that many friends.

I feel tired, sad, pained, disappointed, disillusioned, lonely, empty…and I have no safe cures to take that away. I can only wait for the sick feeling to go away again, which will take days, even weeks. At least alcohol is a solution (little joke there) to make me relax, forget, and the hangover it cases only lasts a day, two at most, days I would otherwise spend in a bad mood anyway. I know drinking isn’t the best way to deal with this, but it is the best one I have available. I just have to make sure I don’t overuse it, like with everything. And music helps too.

For all you out there who deal with people with autism:
All relationships are built on trust, so don’t make promises you can’t keep, don’t take away what you gave away, and don’t go back on your word. Your word is all we have to believe what you say, and when we stop believing in you, we can never again trust you.

Though my face doesn’t show it,
I am very fragile inside.
And every time someone breaks a promise,
Cuts me down, insults me, or feeds me lies,
The rope under my feet is swinging
And I need to steady myself,
Or fall.

I know you cannot help it,
You are just who you are,
And do just what you do,
But know that I am up here,
Balancing the wire,
And there is no net
In sight.

Don’t tell me to man up,
Because I can’t, and never could,
All I know in life is the high-wire.
Will you be the one,
To have shaken my rope that day?
And who will be there to catch me
When I fall?

~ Martin van Houwelingen, 2015

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2015 movie review – The Martian

Don’t get me wrong, it is a good movie. It’s a thrill-packed informative as well as entertaining story of a man left behind.

But having said that there are some problems with it I’d like to discuss.

Technical problems? No, as far as I know theoretically, and that is saying a lot for a SciFi writer, the movie was knitted together quite nicely, though doing the Iron Man maneuver seems lightly unlikely… they even say so in the movie.

My problem with it is that the movies tries everything to make NASA look good without diminishing what they stand for. The problem with NASA and missions to Mars is that they cannot guarantee a safe return, which is one of the main things NASA promises: we will bring back everyone we send out into space (accidents not withstanding).  But the missions to Mars bring such obstacles that this promise cannot be kept, and this is why, I believe, we have not set foot on Mars yet. NASA is holding on too tightly to theory and not to practice that human kind has evolved by taking risks and consequential casualties. How many died trying to reach the new continent before Columbus sailed to America? No information available, though it is a fact that the Vikings were there before Columbus ever did. And Columbus knew there was land out there, he just thought it was part of the Indies (if my history lessons don’t fail me).

And this is my biggest problem with the movie: it is massively pro-American and a desperate attempt to blow new life into the NASA project. Where NASA fails to make a decision one man decides to let people who are immensely bias make the choice, so that NASA is not to blame for anything (can someone yell ‘Lone Gunman Theory’ please?).

But personally I think: fuck NASA. NASA has had it’s day, now let crowd-funding and the Mars One project take over. Now the Mars One project will be one way and all the volunteers will probably die. But when they do, the rest will know what to look out for and what problems need to be solved to make Mars Two a sustainable reality. This is the way to go, to let go of the idea that life is sacred and every life counts. We are ants, and our lives are expendable for the greater good, or in this case, the expansion of the human race to outside the planet.

And now here is the kicker. If you think I am right and are rational/non-emotional about it, you are most likely classified as a psychopath, but it is a fact that people classified as psychopaths go far in life simply because they have no regard for others to get where they want to be. Most bankers and stock traders have the same brain chemistry as the most violent mass murders. Look that shit up, really. It pays to be insane these days.

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Mezrab Storytelling challenge ‘Slice me Nice’ (+podcast info)

Just hammered out the story for the new Real Life Storytelling with the topic ‘Slice me Nice’. I really had to dig for this one as I had NO material whatsoever I could bend to this topic, but oh-my-god it is a thing of beauty, filled with humor, and stupid stuff, all revolving around a secret I have never told anyone.

It will be my debut as a list-storyteller, which means I was invited to be there, which I find pretty exciting, so if you find yourself in the neighborhood of Amsterdam in early October, be sure to mark your calender, agenda or whatever you use to keep track of the days for the 9th, and be there. (directions to Mezrab are here) (more about Mezrab’s other activities here)

And for the rest of you out there, sit tight as pretty soon we’ll be bringing Mezrab Real Life Storytelling to you in the form of a podcast, which would be available on all mobile devices by downloading just about any podcast app, as well as through the internet on our Soundcloud server space. You can find more information about this at the Facebook page MezrabTrueStorytelling.

Cheers folks! Have a nice day, and see you at Mezrab. 🙂

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Autism, what it’s really like.

I am getting pretty tired of all these movies that have come out over the years in which people, children especially, with autism are regarded as having special powers. The latest one X+Y is again of this annoying breed and adds nothing of insight into what autism is really like. You want to know what it’s like? Then watch this animation stopmotion movie called Mary and Max.

Nuff said.

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Rant: Why tipping your waiter/waitress is WRONG

Alright then. I have gotten so much shit over this that I am just going to throw my reasoning out into the world and will direct future people who complain to this.

Why tipping is wrong.

Look, I get it. You get paid a lousy wage and so you rely on your tips to keep afloat and pay your bills. It’s a hard job, some even say harder than flipping burgers and baking fries, which is all the cook seems to do. But people who tip badly are not the problem, the problem is your shitty wage. If people stop tipping, then waiters and waitresses will be forced to get another job, simply because they can’t make ends meet. This will create a shortage in work-force willing to work for this shitty pay and so bosses will have to pay their waiters and waitresses more, preferably up to minimum wage and benefits. This will solve your problem and people who don’t tip are actually nudging you in the right direction.

What you say? You deserve those tips because of all the hassle you get from the customers? Err, no. Getting hassled and dealing with customers is part of your job description, it is what you get paid to do. You deserve a decent wage for that which should be paid by your employer and NOT by your customers. Tipping a waitress you just slapped on her ass is as close to putting a dollar bill in the slip of a poledancer as you can get, and the waitress is likely not to say anything as she depends on the tips. This is completely backwards and not the way it should be!

Not convinced yet? Then think about this:

Is it fair that women with big boobs get more tips? No. Physical appearance should not be an issue, quality of work should be.

Is it fair that women in general get more tips than male waiters? No. Same applies, quality of work should be the standard.

Is it fair that the waiters/waitresses get tips, but the cook and dishwasher don’t? No. All those jobs supply the food to the customer and make sure the business keeps running. They all work just as hard and should be rewarded equally for good service.

Conclusion:

Only when a decent wage is paid for hard work, and though the name of the job seems to imply otherwise  waiting IS hard work, then tips will be a gratuity for good service, tips that should be collected in a jar and from which once a year all the employees, including the cook and the dishwasher, should ave a fun time. A decent boss should even double any amount in the jar, simply because his staff made his business run smoothly, which makes customers want to come back.

This is my opinion, this is why I don’t tip and why I urge people they shouldn’t either. Waiting staff deserves better wages and by tipping you are keeping this crooked system running.

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