Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Numbers of 2015

At the end of the year I often look at numbers and here is a compilation of my numbers of 2015. Some will be relevant, others irrelevant, but nonetheless here we go:

# of presentations: 115 (701 for career)
# of people presented to: 11,756 (61,525 for career)
# of counties presented in Missouri (see map)

# of Canadians annoyed by my music this year: 0 (running joke)
#of days away from home: 189
# of miles driven for presentations and flagging: 13,075
# of airline miles credited flown this year: 75,178
# of countries visited (airport layovers count): 6
# of soccer refs seen hit in the head with a ball (number is a link): 1
# of views on Asperger Insights season 1: 245,757! (season 2 will be filmed next month)
# of presentations cancelled due to illness: 2 (first two of my career)
# of tornadoes driven through 1
# of books reviewed: 1... it was my own
Name of most read blog of year: A Crash in Huntsville
# of amazing people met this year: too many to count... You know who you are
# of books written: 60% of The Aspie Traveler (just two segments to go!)
# of awesome pictures with dogs: too many but here's one
 
 
# of art museums visited: 3
# of country clubs joined: 1 (it was just $59)
# of people I hope to present to next year: 20,000... Let's do this!





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Monday, December 28, 2015

To Acclimate Back

It's my 1,300th blog post today and yet I don't feel this sense of celebration that I typically do. I returned home from Norway eight days ago and my brain is still deep in reflection about the trip, the previous trips, my future trip, and what it all means. Also, as the year comes to a close, I'm having an extremely difficult time weighing this year and whether or not 2015 was a good year or a bad year.

This year, as I stated at the beginning of the year, was going to be an important one. I hoped it would be the year that I break out but many times it was more akin to 2005 which was my most miserable year that I've had. And yet, despite all the setbacks this year, just like 2005, the things that happened inspired a book at my travel book is now 60% complete at 62,000 words.

The things on my brain are the things, right now, that are setting me back are the constant thoughts that go through my brain. I'm not sure if this is 100% related to Asperger's, I think it is, but it's the thoughts that I, "need to do more" and that, "I'm not good enough." Good enough for what? I don't know, I don't have that answer. If I were to do my classic full year in review event there would be event after event of amazing stories and the places I've been and the people I talked to but what my brain sees are the downs of the year.

Yes, I think this is related fully to Asperger's because I've had conversations with others that experience this same trait of no matter how much things went amazingly well the only thing that will matter will be that one small seemingly irrelevant detail that didn't really matter and yet that one detail will become the world. For some reason this has been with me the entire time after I've returned and getting acclimated back to being in my home country just hasn't happened yet.

Could it be exhaustion? Possibly. Each year I impress myself on just how much I can push myself. Less than 12 hours after landing back home from Norway I drove 13 hours to go to my mom's in Nebraska for Christmas. This, after the trip, the events I've flagged, the presentation marathons; I mean, being exhausted is only natural and yet, since it's been three weeks since I presented, I feel this uneasy restlessness that I need to be doing more.

I feel this is fitting that this mixture of emotions is where I'm at on my 1,300th post because this is exactly where I'm at right now at this point in time.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Aspie Traveler Day 8: Drama in Hammerfest


The world is a beautiful place. Earlier today I took one of the more scenic selfies imaginable with the artic landscape behind me. I was smiling because I had just written a great chapter for the book version that ended with, “The journey isn’t over but I’ve learned more about myself in these trips than I have doing almost anything else outside of the first night I sat down to start writing my first book. How’s it going to end? I’m probably more excited than you to find out.” Oh, how little I knew on what was going to play out just hours later.

            Also, remember how Day 7 Part 2 ended, “This may make no sense to you, but this journey here has given me so much knowledge about myself and others and from that I feel this greater sense of confidence because people may not be that scary after all.” I was feeling rather elated today and this evening I had an amazing conversation with a fellow Aspie that I met here in Hammerfest and his awareness of Asperger’s, well, he could take my job! No, really, the terminology he used was akin to mine. It was a great conversation but I was getting hungry so I walked down towards a pizza place and that’s where the drama began.

            When I walked in this place had an aura of creepiness. Being a writer I could probably come up with a better word, but that’s the exact thought that came to mind. There was no waiter and one man at the bar. I didn’t know whether to wait or sit and I approached a table but was unsure whether to stand or sit. The man at the bar made a motion of sit or come here, I’m not really sure, so I walked to him and asked, “Is this the pizza place?” to which he said yes. I then took a random table and then from the kitchen the waitress came and brought out a menu and apologized for the lack of an English menu. I ordered my usual pepperoni mushroom to which she replied, “No other veggies?” You should see the pizza menus here; I’ve learned ordering two toppings is a rarity as Norwegians love their toppings by the dozens… or five.

            I sat patiently staring out into the Hammerfest evening and the occasional car that would drive by when the man at the bar asked me what I was doing in Hammerfest. His English wasn’t the best but he then walked to my table and asked if he could sit down. He asked me my name, I replied, he said his name which I couldn’t make out, but he asked once again what I was doing and I responded with writing a book. I then discussed travel and that “travel isn’t so much about discovering other places but discovering one’s self” to which he grabbed my hand and said, “I like you. You’re special.” This was an odd reaction, I thought, and I hoped that this would be the end of the drama. I was wrong.

            The pizza came out and he asked if he could have a piece. It was a gigantic pizza so I said yes and that’s when the bizarre started to happen. He talked about US policy and Donald Trump, I think, I’m not so sure because his speech was starting to slur and he admitted his English wasn’t the best. He talked about Norway/US relations in how we are great allies and after that he grabbed my shoulder and said, “It’d be nothing for me to kill you.” I froze.

            I’ve had intense moments in my life the most of which was the hour long ordeal being held captive by a mob of homeless boys in Kisumu, Kenya with my dad in 2005. While my dad and I were both powerless we had a local pastor in the driver’s seat that essentially kept us alive. Here, though, in the heart of winter in the blackness it brings I was alone in Hammerfest with a stranger with his arm firmly on my shoulder making a claim against my life. My brain instantly went into planning on how to escape. I did think about running out screaming but this proved to be risky. I was unaware of Norwegian gun laws and furthermore if I left without paying and it was his word against mine I was sure I would lose and besides all this his hand was still gripping my shoulder.

            His grasp released and he said, “Nah, I like you, you’re special and he stroked his hand on my face and inched closer. I was all but pinned in my seat now so I decided to ignore it all. I ignored his comments, I ignored his threat and kept eating. I had gone to eat and that’s what I was going to do. Inside I was a train wreck and he, as I kept looking out into space, said, “You’re thinking a lot, what are you thinking?” and I replied, “Oh, you know, jetlag has hit me hard, I’m just trying to stay awake.” And in my brain I was thinking, “breathe… breathe… Ignore it! Hopefully he’s just drunk and he is harmless.” All the while he kept touching my hand, arm, and shoulder.

            Whether or not he was harmless, at that moment, was in material because a real threat had been posed. My appetite quickly waned and I wanted out. He kept talking about the “impending fight to the death” which was about the only words I understood for a while then he said, “I hope you realize I don’t speak for all Norwegians… I’m drunk.” And then a few sentences later he once again said, “But yeah, it’d be nothing for me to kill you.” I had to get out now!

            There were five others in this place now and I thought back to when I made a potentially catastrophic mistake in 2011 when I gave a ride to two strangers in Springfield, Missouri in the heart of winter and I told myself I’d learn from that mistake by never being isolated. During those times he said I was, “thinking” I indeed was; I was thinking escape plans. Screaming was high up on the list as was, if he chased me, jumping into the water as that would surely cause a scene… this, obviously, was a last resort. My primary objective was to get out of there without a scene and without any event that was beyond words from happening. To do this I figure I’d use him against him because I made eye contact for the first time and said, “I’m unsure of how one pays in Norway, do I go up to the counter?” and like a switch turning off the nonsensical musings went away and in perfect English he said, “yeah, over there” and he backed up and I was able to get up. He walked with me to the counter and then sat down at the bar and instantly picked up a conversation with a man that was there. I paid as quickly as possible and I didn’t worry about the change but I didn’t leave unnoticed as the drunk man stood up and said, “I like you” and he extended his hand so I extended mine and he gave me this almost secret society handshake and as soon as that was over I left as fast as I could and I made sure he wasn’t going to follow and I had plans as to where to go should this happen but he remained seated at the bar and I’m sure tomorrow he will have no memory of the threat he laid upon me.

            Was he a threat? Probably not. Was this anywhere to the magnitude or length of the Kenya ordeal? No, but when a man you don’t know stares you in the eye and says, “Kill you” the internal reaction is going to be severe. I didn’t know who he was, if he were dangerous, and I figured he was drunk which increased the potential volatility of the situation. I’m going to play over and over in my brain if I did the right thing. Should I have just left the second things took a turn for the worse, or was ignoring it and continuing onward as if he wasn’t there the right thing to do?

            If one is going to travel one may come across this. Going back to my day one conversation I had with the two people on my flight from Saint Louis the man who had lived all over said, “Yeah, I don’t know how many times I’ve had a gun to my face but you give them a hundred bucks and they leave” but he was talking about impoverished third world nations. This event, tonight, was in the country just voted as, “best place to live” in the world. Maybe it was just the beer he had drank, and maybe, according to the person I had that great conversation with just prior to this event that I conferred with after, “some Norwegians just have to be strong like that and may not realize that a joke like that will be taking seriously.” Joke or not it’s been two hours and I’m still shaking. For those twenty or so minutes I was but along for the ride. I had my various escape plans but I couldn’t predict a single thing that could happen. Was I simply frozen into eating my meal and powerless to ask for help, but how could I ask? The waitress didn’t speak English so if I yelled for help it may have just riled up the drunk man.

            Where do I go from here? I had just found this newfound confidence and was willing to open up and immediately I’m reminded of the randomness and potentially villainous ways of some. I can’t let this influence me, but how can I not? Events like the one tonight can and usually play over and over in my head and the feeling of his hand firmly gripping my shoulder and uttering those awful words are as vivid now as when it happened. However, what I also need to force myself to realize is by my words, and lack thereof, I got out, I’m safe, and nothing was done that will have any lasting physical consequences.

            You’re reading this either thinking I did the right thing, or maybe you’re thinking I should’ve gotten up right away, but it’s easy to second guess the play call when you’re not flooded with panic and fear.

            To end this I have to go back with what I told the drunk man, “travel isn’t so much about discovering other places but discovering one’s self” because am I going to let this moment become the memory of Norway and hinder my ability to travel or am I stronger now? I think I handled this ordeal in the most professional way possible. Is this what I was supposed to discover on this trip in that I can be on my own, and handle whatever life throws at me? This is the essence of travel and if one isn’t willing to find out the answers then perhaps that person may never know what it is like to live.
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Day 7 Part 1: Journey to the (almost) top of the World


From the moment I booked my trip to Norway in the winter there’s been a goal to see the Northern Lights. I haven’t mentioned this up to this point because, well, the weather forecast to where I’ve been and going has been lackluster. In Oslo it has become cloudy every evening and the forecast in Hammerfest has been awesome only if one is cheering for clouds and snow. Then, this morning, the forecast opened up in Hammerfest, which is where I am going today, and tomorrow should be “mainly clear.” I don’t know what the difference between that and partly cloudy are but I’ll take it.

            Before I could get to Hammerfest the journey to get there has to take place and once again jetlag showed its face. I don’t know why it’s impacted me so greatly this trip but last night around 5PM I got extremely tired and I powered through it and stayed up until 7:30 but then I got what I’m calling reverse jetlag. I don’t know if that phrase exists but I’m going to use it and what it is, to put simply, is the body going from full stop to full tilt. All of a sudden I got this burst of energy which is exactly what I wanted four hours prior.

            Sleep was finally ascertained around nine and at 3AM I awoke. It’s been like clockwork (ha!) that I can sleep soundly for exactly six hours and then my body is ready to go and 15 minutes later I’m back asleep. Thankfully when I got back to sleep I slept until 5:45 and had to wait 45 minutes until the hotel breakfast opened which gave me time to pack.

            Breakfast was had and I’ve quickly fallen into a routine. I sit at the same table and get the same wonderful food in the same order each day and at the end of the meal I go to the coffee machine and get a creamy hot chocolate. Today, when I was finishing the creamy hot chocolate, I was moved to tears. Here’s the thing; things that mean things to me mean more and this is a trait that those with Asperger’s, I feel, will have more often than not. What do I mean by this? How much have I talked about the hotel building, or the street I’m on? Most travel writers will describe with great descriptors the atmosphere, the architecture, and the people but how often have I done this? It isn’t that I haven’t taken notice of it, it’s just that it isn’t a priority. For me, what’s more important, is the psychology of travel and the thoughts in invokes and while some may have the memory of the smell of the lobby, or the feeling of going outside into the all but lung freezing air each morning, but for myself I knew that one of the big takeaways I’m going to have is this cup of hot chocolate because with each sip it, for me, is a taste of victory.

            Wait, what? Victory? Yes, victory. Perhaps this is where I do give you a descriptor of my surroundings and it is through that cup of creamy hot chocolate. You see, if you haven’t read Finding Kansas (if you haven’t, you should) I talk about “Small Things.” One of the things the DSM-IV says about people on the autism spectrum is that, “those on the autism spectrum may have an inappropriate attachment to objects.” I’ve complained about that one word of, “inappropriate” for years because it makes sense to me because it is through objects, or in this case a drink, that my memories are webbed together. This morning, as I sipped the final sips that were left and contemplating the trip to Hammerfest I thought that I only have two more nights at that hotel in Oslo and every future time I taste any drink like that I will be back at that place, staring out the window at an awaking Oslo and watching the streetcars go by with people off to work, or school. I’ll remember that feeling of victory, which I haven’t described yet, which is that, sitting there at the table, I am so far away from home doing something I never thought was possible. Earlier on this trip I mentioned that I have always wanted to come to Norway since the Games in 94 in Lillehammer and here I am not just here but getting by better than I have in any previous trip.

            It’s an odd feeling, truly, to sit there and rue the days in the future knowing that the memories of these breakfasts will be so personal and so powerful, but that’s the difference between Asperger’s and not. The thing is I feel as if I fit in here. That’s a phrase that I don’t think I’ve used in any book chapter or blog post ever, but I had a conversation with the waitress at the pizza place I mentioned yesterday about what I'm writing about which is an oddity for me. A friend told me, and this conversation is almost 20 years old, that Norwegians are, “cold to outsiders and almost aloof to others” but I haven’t encountered this. Maybe it’s the “trick” I’ve learned to always be smiling.

            So all those thoughts came at breakfast and it was now 7AM. My plane’s scheduled departure time was 12:20 and it’s just an eight minute walk to the train terminal with trains leaving every ten minutes with a 19 minute ride to the airport. I know those times are rather exact and that’s the way they’re advertised here and things to operate to the minute and aren’t rounded. I love that! Anyway, I figured I’d go to airport early because I don’t know what security and the like would be so I went to my room and got my bag and, on my phone, went to the flytoget app to buy a train ticket and that’s when I got the message, “card declined.”

            Declined? I instantly feared some sort of nefarious event such as identity theft and I was sure my bank account had been wiped clean. I quickly went to my bank app and found, thankfully, I was not taken to the cleaners, but why then was it declined? Another travel tip for you, and this obvious, if you’re going to travel overseas it’s best to let your bank know you’re going. In the previous two trips I just used my AMEX card and had never used my bank card so all sorts of red flags probably went off when a debit came from Norway of all places. I hope this gets rectified before I leave; I’m not in any danger of running out of cash but that is a lifeline that has been taken away should something awry occur.

            What all of this meant was that I needed to go to the terminal to buy a ticket which I didn’t know how this was done (flytoget and NSB are two different companies with two different sections of the station) so I was glad to get there early. I feared it’d be difficult and I worried it would be card only and few places take AMEX but thankfully, at the self-service kiosk, they do take AMEX (but the app won’t accept it. I don’t understand this) so ticket purchased and I hoped on the train.

            At the airport I now had to figure out how to check my bag and I didn’t fully know if I got a bag checked for free or not. I tried using the SAS APP and tried reading their website but I didn’t know what class of ticket I had so if they did charge I hope they took AMEX.

            I looked desperately for a check-in place for SAS but the only thing I could find was a bar code self-scanner that people were using and their bags were whisked away on a conveyor belt. I tried to scan my boarding pass but that didn’t make any sense because what tag would go on the bag? Other people had the tag so where were they getting them? I wasn’t going to ask for help so I looked around some more and found another self-service kiosk where one could scan their boarding pass. This was a concept I didn’t understand because I’m used to the structured lines of using a self-service kiosk to print out a boarding pass if one doesn’t already have it on their phone then going to the desk where the airline rep checks for authentic identification but here there was no personal interaction at all.

            I printed my baggage sticker and then it took me longer than I’d like to tell you on getting the sticker off the paper (it works better when one pulls from the side it’s stuck to. Not one of my shining moments… 10 minutes later) but when I finally did I attempted to loop it around the handle and instead of being loose fitting and readable I made it tightly wound and I just hoped things work off a barcode and not the actual letters. I would find this out as I went back to the conveyor belt, took the scanner, and green lights went off everywhere and off my back went and I could only hope my back found its way with me to Hammerfest.

            Going through security was an oddity as well as there is no TSA, no credential check, all that’s needed is a boarding pass. That’s fine that it is that way but, as with the baggage process, I’m accustomed to the numerous ID checks but that’s not the case here. One thing is the same is having your bag checked at security as mine was and my heart sank. What did I do wrong? Did I have liquids? Did someone plant something in my bag? I was sure my life was coming to an end and an extended stay in a Norwegian prison cell was coming up.

            The security man held my back up and said, “Who’s bag is this?” and I didn’t want to say it was mine because he was using English and that could only mean bad things. Why could it only mean that? Because I’m a catastrophic thinker and logic isn’t needed to come to these conclusions. I slowly lifted my hand and he motioned me to come to the other side of the counter. Now he spoke Norwegian and I gave him the blank stare and he then said, “English?” and I said yes to which now I prepped for the news that would end my life as I knew it. He said, “Your bag…” and there was a lull and I was screaming in my head silently “spit it out… Come on… If my life is going to be drastically changed don’t leave me hanging…” and he then once again said, “your bag…” and finally the second half of the sentence came, “your bag has been randomly chosen for a check. Is this okay?”

            Crisis averted and my bag passed the explosives test and I walked to my gate and I awaited the upcoming trip to the frigid north.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Milestone Day Plus Norway

In just under two hours a milestone in my career will happen as I will give my 700th presentation of my career. Thankfully, unlike the previous milestone of 600, I'm in great health and I have a voice (#600 in Doniphan was not the celebratory presentation I'd have hoped for) and I plan on giving the best presentation yet. Although I should mention that's my goal on any given presentation.

Furthermore, tomorrow is the start of the third of five rounds of The Aspie Traveler and I don't exactly know how this is going to look in blog form. I have every intention of making these travels into a book which means I'm going to have to write in a different form and blog writing and book writing are two fully different skill sets. Also, in book form, things tend to be more longwinded and deeper and I don't know if I'm going to want to share the topics I think I'll be writing about. Don't get me wrong as there will be something, but I doubt it will be the 17,000 word extravaganza that Amsterdam and Tokyo were. Also, I don't know if I'll post in current form or wait like I've done with the previous two. The advantage to posting them after I'm back is they can get the full edit and also have all the bells and whistles, well, actually they can have all the photos I want to help share the story of the locations I visit. So as I've written this post I do think I'll be on a delay of some sort. It may not play out that way, we'll just have to wait and see.

Are you seeing some indecisiveness? Yeah... I leave in 26 hours and I still haven't packed, haven't looked up how to get from the airport to the hotel, and don't really have that much knowledge other than my flight leaves at 1PM. Things have been intense for me the past month or so and this lack of focus is common in these times. The previous two trips I had a general idea but right now I'm in the dark and when I try there's no motivation to keep looking. Perhaps this is because this trip doesn't seem real yet. I mean, I'm going to Oslo and Hammerfest. Hammerfest! Don't know where that is? You're not alone! Few do and that's the excitement of it! Okay, so yes, I'm excited but it doesn't seem real and events in my personal life over the past month have bled into this. I do say, however, this is a good thing. If I were 100% happy the process of self discovery would not be what I think this trip will be.

I have no idea what lies ahead other than in less than 48 hours I'll be far, far away in a land I don't know that much about challenging myself to navigate streets, a culture, and a country I know little about. That's my reasoning for this; to challenge myself and to prove that I can do it... Okay, it's starting to sink in a little.

Monday, December 7, 2015

When a 6th Grader asked Me "In Three Words..."

I've been presenting at schools now for over five years and going back to the very first one I have to admit I wanted no part of it. Since then things have most certainly changed and I look forward to each and every school presentation with an eagerness that is hard to describe. Why? What led to such a 180? It's the questions students ask and this past Friday I was asked a question that in it's level of profoundness is still reverberating today.

The presentation was at Parkway West Middle and it's now a yearly tradition that I present to the 6th grade as it's been each school year since 2012 and it's awesome that the school sets an hour for this and it's an honor to be given that hour. Also, the questions I get asked by the 6th grade class always leaves me thinking and the final question on Friday, well, let me explain it.

First though, there's something neat about the final question because there just always happens to be something special about it. True, it's just random luck on the person I call on, but nine out of ten times the question is profound and on Friday I was asked, "In three words describe your life before diagnosis and in three words describe your life after." This, for you the reader right now, might seem a bit profound being asked by a sixth grader but that's the magic presenting to students because they are more than capable of stopping a person in their tracks and forcing them to think about things in a way never before thought of and not having much time to respond I came up with, "After my diagnosis I'd say it was 'life unfiltered realized' and before it would have to be 'life unfiltered oblivious' which I'm sure there's a grammar fail there but I never did get good grades in English class."

Had I had more time to craft a better response I might have, but even with the grammatical fail (although how can one state what I stated in just three words?) it states it with perfection because I had no idea about who I was and what was going on. Yes, it's hard to describe that in three words and I've tried to come up with three better words but I've been unable to. There's something that stretches thoughts when word usage gets reduced. I can blog as many times and as many words as possible and I can describe the joys, the pains, the anxiety, and the definition of Kansas in thousands of words if I want to, but that sixth grader put me to the ultimate test taking away my ability to describe things in detail which I commend him for because it made me think of this in a way I never had before and my ensuing response left me with a smile on my face.

It'll be another year before I'm back there. It's now one of my most frequented venues outside of the office or the police academy and there is such familiarity now with the library I present in while there. To the staff there I certainly want to thank them for the chance to give my presentation there because I feel, no, I know that presenting to students is the most important speaking crowd I can present to. The reasons are long and deep as to why I feel this, but to put shortly, but in more than three words, students of today are the coworkers, parents, teachers, and business owners of tomorrow and if not just autism awareness gets to them, but also autism understanding then the future is going to be so bright. And I've said this many times that all one has to do is hear the questions that students ask and you too will have the same hope for the future I do.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

2nd Book Chapter Preview: Chemical Inaction

As I prepare for another Aspie Traveler series I need to get into book writing mode as that series will be made into a book. Book writing and blog writing are two different skill sets hence why my blogs have been scarce. Also, I'm reading through my 2nd book preparing for publication and I came across this chapter which, I feel, is too good to sit on. I must state that this was written in 2008 so my view of the world at that time was darker than it is now, but in terms of establishing relationships this chapter is still 100% spot on...


I never took high school chemistry, but I have always seen, in television, the art of chemistry performed. I guess the simplest chemical reaction is soda and vinegar. From what I understand when the two are mixed fizzy stuff happens. This is fine and all, but what would happen if, in a normal environment, nothing happened. Let's say you mix the two together and nothing occurs. Let's say you've seen it done 1,000 times, but when you try nothing happens. What was supposed to be a reaction, turned into a big letdown: a chemical inaction. Welcome to my world.

            The key thing here is that let's say you've seen the reaction done over and over, but when you try nothing happens. Imagine how frustrating it must be. All you want to do is get that reaction so you can be like everyone else, but the only thing you get is a lot of wasted vinegar.

            The metaphor here is relationships. I see friendships start and friendships maintained with members of the kart team I travel with. They all joke with each other and it is almost like they are speaking another language with each other. Some slang, some joking words, and it's a language I can't mimic. I'm very precise with my words and can't just, “be free” so this is the start of the inaction and I remain, off in the corner, trying to start the reaction.

            “How is it done?” I often wonder as people make it look so easy. “What do I have to do?” often rings throughout my thoughts. “It looks simple, why can't I get it?” is the way the train of thought always ends.

            I try in the best way that I can to try and get a reaction. There's a block though. It's much like those logic puzzles that are given sometimes, or rather number sequences. Let's use this “4,8,12,16,X” In that sequence 20 would be the logical number to follow, and then 24, but for me the 20 is never there so therefore the rest of the sequence can never materialize.

            I believe the inaction is a two way street. I know I behave differently in public as I look nervous and uncomfortable most the time. This, I'm sure, would create a bit of tension for those around me as they don't fully understand what I'm going through. On the other hand when people do make the effort to try and get to know me all that is allowed is up to number 16, meaning going back to the number problem that I am only programmed to let it go so far. I don't know much about chemicals, as I've said, but it would be like putting very stale and flat soda with really bad vinegar (can vinegar go bad? I don't know much about vinegar either so just work with me on this metaphor and don't get all literal. Thanks!)

            This whole process is very tiring for me because I do try. But with between the coma, the privacy, the fourth wall, and other terms not yet defined how is any reaction supposed to occur? How is any reaction out of either party possible? Going back to the number sequence, using numbers divisible by four; I said mine cut off at 20. To translate that into meeting any given person, that would be about as deep as allowing 4 questions to be asked. If it were a scoring system, friendship would start at 80.

It's rough trying something over and over and always failing. What hurts, what truly hurts to the soul is how easily others can make it seem. How can a person go from bowling team to bowling team year after year and make a new set of friends every year? How can someone just walk up to a person, ask them how their day was and end up getting a new best friend? What's the secret to getting a reaction?

            I wonder if everyone faces this challenge, a little bit. Is it like riding a bike? If so, can I get the one with training wheels because I need help? But maybe my balance won't even be good enough for that. When does attempting the impossible become futile?

I pour away always waiting for that chemical reaction. And you know, sometimes while in Kansas I feel as if I'm close. That further adds to the relevancy of Kansas. The deeper the Kansas, the more I feel as if I'm about to create some fizz and live out every aspiring high schoolers chemists' dream. Perhaps I try too hard, thus making me over think everything and then I look even more uncomfortable. I think anyone would if they saw everyone else easily getting a chemical reaction out of life.

            I think it's a simple wish really; to feel that sense of friendship once out of life. I know I am capable of it, but so far only my pets have given me that feeling. Okay, so maybe I don't know if I can share that feeling with another person. It's sad really, to believe that I will always be in the corner of the room, silent, uncomfortable, and just wondering how everyone else can mix soda and vinegar with such ease and here I am on my 10,000th case of soda still expecting a reaction, one that never comes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Buy In Factor

Working the Supernats a couple weeks ago I noticed something in the midst of running more than I had ever ran in my life and that was I wasn't out of energy. In doing many activities throughout my life my energy is quickly depleted but two weeks ago I ran and ran and ran with no abatement of energy. What happened?

I had energy reserves I didn't know I had and the same way I can hyper-focus on a topic to the exclusion of everything else I can also dig deep and have more energy than I ever thought possible. Why is this? The buy in factor. 

I had this in school as well as I would tire quickly UNLESS it was a day where the subjects highly interested me. Okay, I understand we all have to do undesirable topics, but my brain has an all or nothing but in system. If I don't buy into what I'm doing I quickly tire. This isn't a choice thing; this isn't a "oh, I find this awfully boring so I'm just going to get tired now." Instead, it's a quick depletion of energy. 

There is a flip side to this and that is that I can be oblivious to the exhaustion I'm facing when I have bought into something. This can go as far as forgetting to eat and sleep when I have truly bought into something. This can work for a while but eventually there will be a crash leaving me drained. 

I'll be interested to see how the next 70 days go as it's going be an intensive time with presentations plus two international trips that's going to test just how much endurance I have.