2005 :: The Ramble

I hope that 2006 will be a good year for the world and the people in it. I have been very lucky, and so far 2006 is no exception. Me and K started out the year at Bill Graham auditorium in San Francisco with Phil Lesh and Friends. It was SO GOOD! John Mayer played a set of amazing blues guitar. I know he was singing too, but it didn’t really register. I can’t even really remember what he looked like, but that boy sure can play guitar! And now… the ramble…

Second Set. Phil Lesh and Friends. Amazing. Totally freakin’ amazing! Me and K didn’t leave until after 2am, and they were just getting started on their 3rd set. The first 2 sets were like some dead show setlist that you would make up in your head. Some memories in no particular order… Awesome Franklin’s Tower! Candyman –> Stella Blue –> Terrapin, Eyes of the World, Not Fade Away, Fire on the mountain, scarlet begonias, uncle john’s band, Truckin’ at midnight begins the 2nd set. Wharf Rat starts the 3rd set. Me and K leave because I can barely stay awake. Tons of balloons fall from the ceiling at midnight and people are still playing with them at 2am. Countdown to new year’s with exploding fire torches. Someone sitting in a swan hanging from the ceiling. A random acrobat on trapeze dressed like some kind of goat i think. i wanted to hear jack straw. i bet they played it in the 3rd set. i will add more as my memory of the show returns.

2005 was slightly insane. In March, I found out that I have asperger’s autism. If you read this site, you have heard all about it. I have learned so much since march. Just by finally finding out what is “wrong” and learning more about it, I have found answers to nearly every question I have ever wondered about in regard to my ‘differentness’. So many years of searching, and all I was missing was 2 words. 2 words that have been around since 1944, but did not make it to this country until 50 years later. If this information had been available when I was young, there is a very high probability that my life would have been very very different than it was. Even though it has been a hard life in many ways, I can’t say that I am unhappy about it. I have been very lucky.

Sometimes when I think about the ways in which my life could have been different if I and my parents knew then what we know now, I get very angry. Not at anyone in particular, but at the universe in general. It’s not fair, but I don’t think the universe takes offense very easily. I had a childhood that did not need to be the hell that it was. My parents had a parenthood that also did not need to be the hell that I imagine that it was. I could have gotten help and they could have too. Everything is so clear now. Finally. Better late than never for sure, but it is hard not to imagine ‘what if…’.

This year, I have met many other autistic people. We are all different in so many ways, but amazingly similar in so many other ways. Meeting other people like me has been by far the most intense part of this journey so far. I have spent my whole life being lonely in a way that I don’t think I can describe. If you have felt like this, then you know. ‘Alien’ is an understatement. ‘Freak’ is more like it. But suddenly, I am in a room full of freaks just like me. By definition, I think that makes us not freaks.

Meeting people has been a very mixed experience. I see people struggling with the same things I do, and it makes me feel less alone; but it also reinforces the fact that there is no way to fix it. There are many who are proud to be autistic, and would never want to change it. I have come a long way with this over the past year. While I can’t say that I am proud of it, or that I don’t wish things could be different in many ways, I no longer see it as ‘the enemy’. It is not outside of myself and it is not all bad. In many ways, it is me and I am it. Ok, so maybe I still talk about it like it is outside of myself. Integration is for another day.

There are good things about me that I think are enhanced by being autistic, things I would not want to change. I think I am a good person for the most part. I try very hard to be good to people, and to understand them and see where they are coming from. I try not to lie. I hate lying and being lied to. I do it sometimes anyway, or at least try to. Apparently I am not very good at it. I used to think my mother was psychic, but I have now come to believe that I am just a very bad liar. Karen always knows when I am trying to lie. I would think she was psychic too, but she always tells me how she knows. You’d think I would stop trying after all these years, but the world seems to call for it sometimes.

We live in a culture where lying is normal and expected. How are you doing? ‘Fine.’ I say that all the time, whether it is true, or the furthest thing from true. I think a lot of people do this. I think it is what is expected. It is a game people play. There are many games and rules. I am not sure I will ever understand all of them. Some are ice breakers. I am not so good with ice breakers. I try to copy people. I say ‘how’s it going?’. They say ‘fine’. They ask me the same thing. I say ‘good’. It is called small talk, but sometimes it can go on for hours. It makes me tired.

When I hang out with other aspies, there is very little small talk. Silence is okay and understood, rather than an uncomfortable space to fill. There is honesty like I’ve never seen before (except maybe in London). People are often blunt and say exactly what is on their mind. I like that. It makes things so much easier to understand. You don’t have to read between any lines or think twice about what was meant or might have been meant. It is obvious and clear. This kind of bluntness does not always go over well in the ‘regular’ world. It is considered to be bad manners. Honesty is bad manners. How can anyone make sense of that!?

I spent the entire year taking my one black stripe test for cuong nhu. It is a stripe I never expected to have. Maybe I really will get to teach some day. That would make me happy.

At the end of this crazy year, there is much to be thankful for. I have found a community that I never even dreamed existed. I have gotten to spend another year with Karen. I have gotten to know her better, to love her more, to share my journey with her, and to share her journey with her. I have seen her learn and move forward in ways that I know she has worked very hard for both personally and professionally. I can’t say enough about the energy she brings to other people, to me, and to the world. It is that kind of energy that will save the world if it is to be saved.

My family has been through a journey of their own. Bri and Sarah have moved to Florida, bought a house, and will have a baby in the not so distant future 🙂 Mom and dad and Sarah and Atticus have been through the scary storm who’s name escapes me now that Katrina fills that space in my mind.

Shiki has made it through another year. This was a hard one for her. And for me and K. It was time to really come to terms with the fact that she is very old, and will not be with us forever. Thanks to some medicine, subcutaneous IVs and special food, it appears that she is planning to stick around for a while longer. Every minute with her is precious. Every minute counts.

I think I am done rambling for the moment. Maybe I will add more later, particularly the set list from last night. It was an awesome show. Happy new year!

The setlist from setlist.com. I am not sure of the accuracy of this even though I was there, but I am pretty certain they played Birdsong after Terrapin and before they played Not Fade Away for the second time.

Set 1: Not Fade Away, China Cat Sunflower > Scarlet Begonias, Eyes Of The World > Sugaree, Franklin’s Tower
Set 2: Truckin’ > Deal > Uncle John’s Band, Fire On The Mtn, Candyman > Stella Blue > Terrapin Station > Not Fade Away
Set 3: Wharf Rat > Ryan Adams Song > Sugar Magnolia > Sunshine Daydream > Ripple > Uncle John’s Band (reprise)

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