Friday, March 30, 2012

The Mission: 1 in 88 and The Journey of a Lifetime

This is part 3 in the story of how I got to where I am. I think there has never been a more important time for my job as yesterday's report that now 1 in 88 children will be on the spectrum.

After spending 15 months hating myself for this diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome I found the medium of writing. In 2008 my book, Finding Kansas, was self-published and I hoped that someone, anyone, would read my words. One of the things I originally told my dad during an emotional meltdown one time was, "Dad, the only thing I want is the for the world to read my words so maybe, just maybe the world won't hate me as much."

Perhaps saying that the world "hate" me is a bit extreme, but when one feels alone and isn't understood it is easy to feel that way. Thankfully people did read my book and my book found its way to TouchPoint Autism Services. From that I was asked if I would, as a consultant, go through their parent training program. I agreed and my life was changed forever.

First, I learned that I wasn't alone in my battle. Secondly, I learned there was hope. As I said in yesterday's blog I believe the internet page I read in 2003 that read, "people with Asperger Syndrome will never have a job, will never have friends, and will never be happy." However, I saw some of the gains in the children and saw that change is possible and that growth is possible. The self-hatred I felt lifted.

A short time there after Autism Speaks gave me two tickets to go to the Autism Speaks 400 in Dover, Delaware and I went and I must admit I was angry. You see, as I said in the first of these three posts, I wanted to be a race car driver. I came so close to living my dream, closer than most, and yet here I was sitting in the stands watching others live out their dream. Yes, I was angry and about a quarter of the way through the race I clinched my fists in anger. Then a funny thing happened as Jimmie Johnson took the lead and won the race; I asked myself, "Who did Jimmie Johnson help by winning the race?"

The next day I had a meeting at Autism Speaks and the Dr. who wrote an endorsement on my book asked, "Aaron, now that you have a book do you still want to race?" and when she asked that I felt as if I had been reborn. All those nights of self-hatred, all those times I told my dad, "there is no hope" now made sense.

I told here that day, "Yes, I still want to race, but it is a new race now. The race is to spread as much awareness and understanding as possible because there is so much misinformation out there. Surely I am not alone in that pit of despair I was in and those people need to know they aren't alone. On top of that, many doctors and teachers have no idea what autism looks like or what to do about it. This is so wrong because there THERE IS SO MUCH HOPE out there, but only if people are made aware of it!"

A short time after that I became TouchPoint's Community Education Specialist and just recently I became their Autism Ambassador. Also, my self published book got picked up by Perigee Books which is a division of Penguin.

With the release of my book I decided I had to do something BIG. I've been a public speaker now just over two years now and I decided the whole country needs to hear my message. Do I have the magic answer or cure? Certainly not, but what I do, just like I do in my book and blog, is to explain how my mind works and why I do the things I do. Through understanding us on the spectrum there can be hope because the world might just understand that we aren't trying to make you mad, we aren't trying to be obnoxious, we're simply living life and behaving the way our bodies and minds are telling us.

So yes, this Sunday, I will embark on a journey of a lifetime to do what I can during Autism Awareness Month to, well, bring awareness to the forefront. Many cities are lined up on the schedule and I realize this is the biggest thing that I may ever be a part of. And to think, from that person I described in the first segment, and the hopeless shell of a person I described in the second, has come this. For years I said there was no hope. For years I was sure I would just count down the days as I was sure there was no place for me on this Earth. I thought this because no one understood me; my family, doctors, and anyone else never could make sense of me. I was alone, isolated, and unable to tell anyone why I felt the way I did. With that being so I head to New York City this weekend for the launch of my book and the start of my Autism Awareness and Understanding Tour of America because there are those out there like I was. I was there for a long time and I hope I can bring understanding to those on the spectrum and their families and maybe, just maybe others can believe there is hope and not the hopeless line I believed for so long.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Dark Times

This is part 2 of 3 in telling the story of who I am why my passion is what it is...

Also breaking news today as the US CDC says 1 in 88 children will have autism! As I head into my nationwide tour next week this just fuels the passion. The need is out there!

The answer came in the form of an article in Parade magazine. All the "quirks" I had were explained in this article. My parents simply thought that my teachers were right and that I was simply smarter. Per the article though there was this thing called Asperger Syndrome that was part of the autism spectrum.

My dad called around and my doctor sent me to get an assessment and then I visited the doctor a few weeks after. For once in my life I was starting to think that there was something different about me but I didn't know what. I was 20 years old at the time and the doctor looked over all the info and said, "Well, reading this, yes, well, without a doubt you have Asperger Syndrome. I guess, well, I don't know, good luck."

Good luck? First, he gave me a diagnosis I never heard of and secondly, well, I don't think he had ever heard of it either. The year was 2003 and autism awareness is no where near what it is today. That being so I didn't know what this thing called Asperger Syndrome was a couple hours after I got home I looked it up on the internet and the very first thing I read said, "People with Asperger Syndrome will never have a job, will never have friends, and will never be happy." I read that and instantly I shattered inside because I believed it.

It was as if the first 20 years of my life ceased to exist because I was now living with a sentence. This wasn't a prison sentence, but a sentence much like it because of that dire prediction. I have since learned that when one believes such a line it will come true and that's what happened to me; I pushed everyone aside in my life and I didn't care about anyone or anything. I mean, what was the point in trying in life when I was destined to failure?

My life continued on like this and I was simply "counting the days" as one person put it, but I didn't care. I was defeated and I stayed defeated for a total of 15 months. 15 long, sad, depressing months, but then something odd happened; I started to write.

If I can say that it was as if I ceased to exist after I read that hideous and false line of no hope I should be able to say I was reborn the night I started to write because for the first time in my life I was expressing myself. I didn't start out to write a book, but all I wanted, and dreamt of, was that someone might understand who I was and why I was.

I will never forget that first night I started to write. It was about 2AM and I had simply had enough of going through all that I was going through alone. Each night I wrote I would leave my work on the stove for my dad to see in the morning and each time I was always nervous that he would be angry with me for using metaphors to explain the reasons why I do the things I do.

Night after night I would write something and after a while it felt natural. Again, I didn't start out with the grand scheme of being an author, but I just wanted my family to know who I was because, at the time, I was unable to do this with spoken words. By writing I eliminated the need to process all the information that comes about from talking such as reading faces and processing the potential responses to potential questions.

Over the course of the year I wrote and I never expected anyone besides my dad to read it. I was still in what I would consider my "dark times" but all that changed late in 2005 when an episode of "The Apprentice" came on and a new organization known as "Autism Speaks" was featured. There were interviews and I heard a line that this new charity wants to help those who can not speak and I began to think about my writings and the response I had from a few professionals and at that moment I had a thought, "Could my writings actually be worthwhile?"

My dad allowed various people to read my work and the response was always the same, "Oh my! Wow!" Still though, yes, still I believed that horrible destiny that I read the day I got my diagnosis. All this changed in 2009 which set the wheels in motion to shatter my belief in that false line of no hope and to turn all those 15 months of sadness into an unshakable passion and that story will come tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who I Was

With next week being the rerelease of Finding Kansas I felt it right to explain who I was and how I became who I was. Also, starting next week, I will be going on a national speaking tour to raise awareness and understanding. However that is now, but how did I get here? This is my story.

I was the quirky kid. No one ever knew what to make of me. In preschool I was more interested in talking about weather and racing than playing in the sand box or make believe. In kindergarten I was more interested in talking to the teacher because she either knew what I was talking about, or she could pretend on knowing what I was talking about. But in any case talking to my classmates was difficult as I would only attempt to talk about what I knew and sympathy was not something I did well. When playing with others there was the wrong way and there was my way which was, and still is, the right way.

While other kids were developing social skills I spent my time playing with blocks, putting the U.S. state puzzle together, and thinking about numbers. At the time, and this was 1989 (it's odd to write a year now with a 19 instead of a 20... sorry, I just found that interesting) there was nothing to call me except how I started this post; the quirky kid. At every parent teacher conference my parents heard the same thing, "Your son Aaron, he doesn't socialize or associate that well with the other kids, but I don't think you need to worry about it because, well, maybe he's just smarter than the other kids." My dad always took that line as a badge of honor proving his superior parenting skills.

The years progressed and I developed more and more issues in school. The social gap grew and I was always lost in social settings. Sure, I never was fully isolated and always had one friend, but it was always on my terms and there was no give and take. Also, school became harder and harder for me as I tried to navigate the slalom course that is socializing and at the same time I was always tried to stay engrossed in whatever it was at that point in time I found interesting.

Many things bothered me in school and usually I was powerless to speak up. This was for several reasons. The first was that I thought everyone had the same issues I had. I thought everyone had the same amount of pain caused by fire drills and I thought everyone got distracted by every noise coming from every corner of the school.

In 1993 my family moved from Indianapolis to Saint Louis and this was hard on me because in Indy there was an interest in what my #1 love was/is of auto racing and I could talk about racing all day long and show off the flags I had. Saint Louis is a baseball town though and when I spoke about auto racing I might have well have been speaking a language that hasn't been spoken for many a century because no one heard or cared. I slowly became more and more isolated because I had no common ground. However, I still had many special interests that I would research beyond what the normal 5th grader would and I went through a time that I must have read 10 books on the Manhattan Project. At the time no one thought this was odd and once again my parents heard, "Well, obviously your child is simply smarter."

To be honest I tried to develop friendships but I was always unable to have a conversation that flowed naturally. Always I would give a race recap or race preview or talk about a great race from years ago. Or I would give the weather forecast (people now always tell me I am the bearer of the, "doomsday weather forecast" so I still am a weather buff of sorts) but I was unable to be, well, I just couldn't act my age so to speak. I couldn't have a conversation that involved small talk and I always stuck out of the crowd.

Eventually I was home schooled, and then I went back to school and then I was home schooled again. I never thought much about school because I was going to be a race car driver. That's the only thing I thought of, only thing I wanted to be. I started racing karts when I was 12 and I was called a, "phenom." I also started being the assistant flagman at the kart club the following year, as this picture shows.

So all in all there were really no big alarms that said I was different. Or rather there were, but nobody knew what to look for because after all, I was just quirky. My lack of eye contact was never thought of as anything and my lack of social empathy never really came up because I didn't socialize all that often. And besides all that what did that matter because I knew I was going to be a race car driver.

High school didn't happen for me as that was done via home school and as the years ticked on it looked as if I were closer and closer in making my racing dreams come true. However, racing is a business and we had no idea what we were doing. I think we did the right think in sending me to the Derek Daly Academy, a former racing school in Las Vegas, and just recently I was going through photos that were taken from back in 2000, when I was 17, and I feel this photo is a great example of the way I lived life as I always described that I felt, "alone in a group" as there I am way off to the right.

Again, would anyone have taken notice of this? No one did. That photo was the way I always was from kindergarten all the way through life. Even in a group setting I was on my own little island.

Never did a point cross my mind that I was different. I too bought into the fact that it wasn't me that was different, it was everyone else. With that being the case I stayed on my own little island without any thought. However, after constant social friction with my girlfriend and other people I started opening my eyes and I will never forget the place; it was at a Denny's in Orlando Florida that I was during a time I was driving a late model race car at USA International Speedway that I saw three brothers or friends goofing off playing a game of keep away and as I saw that, while talking to my dad on the phone, I broke down. I asked, "Dad, why have I never done that?" It was then that I began to think that it wasn't everyone else, and I wasn't simply smarter, but there was something more... but what could it be?

The answer you and I know now as, obviously, this is a blog about my life with Asperger Syndrome, but how did I come about finding out this information? That story will be tomorrow's blog post as I count down the days to my book's release and my nationwide speaking tour.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Day of Rest and Looking Ahead

First off, I feel I have to thank everyone again for all comments of "get better soon" and the like. I didn't know so many people knew who I was and would take notice so once again thanks!

Yesterday, obviously, was not an active day for me and this day isn't shaping up to be on either. This is somewhat troubling to me because I have so much to do. Right now I should be at the office getting everything in line to go on this 40 day trip of a lifetime but instead I am laying in bed resting.

Trust me, I want to walk right out this door and start doing all the things I need to do. Each time though that I simply went downstairs to get water or something the pain crept up to a point that just wasn't nice at all.

It's taking all my power to not start working on getting everything in line. I'm not used to this "resting" business but I have realized April is too big to go into aching and not 100% on my game. The more I rest now the better off I will be faster and I don't like this situation, but it is what it is.

So that's where I'm at today. I know, today's blog has no where near the adventure of yesterday's post, but that's fine as I need a break from all that. Looking ahead, tomorrow's blog should be what I planned for on Monday in setting up who I am with a week from now my book will be released to the market.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Crash in Nashville

I just woke up but I wish I was still asleep. The events of yesterday will not be forgotten for a very long time and I think I will be feeling them for the next few days to come. What happened? If I told you right now it would be a short blog post, right?

This past weekend was round four of the USAC Generation Next tour and what a month of March it was; four races in four weekends. This past weekend we were in Nashville to conclude the month. The weather was slightly better than the low 40's that greeted us last year, but it did rain on Saturday continuing our streak of rain at events outside of Phoenix.

Anyway, flash forward to yesterday, the racing was going along great and the track proved to be ultra competitive. We saw three, four, and one time five wide racing. There was plenty of passing and being the chief starter gives me the best seat in the house to watch the fantastic racing that was on display. With close racing comes contact and we had our fair share of spins yesterday. There was one spin however that started minor and turned into serious in a blink of an eye.

Off of turn four headed to me 2nd place made slight contact with the leader which turned the leader around. I instantly flew the yellow flag and I had my head turned looking at the car stopped hoping all the cars behind would miss him. Then, I turned my head towards turn four and I saw two cars hooked together headed towards the wall and the last thing I remember while looking that way was a blue car starting to go into the air.

The next few tenths of a second I don't fully remember. Debi Supan, who was at the entrance to the scalehouse (and drove me and my car home yesterday so here's a big shout out of thanks!) said I quickly turned my head and body as to brace for impact. She commented that my face had no sense of fear in it but a dire look of, "uh oh, this isn't good."

I don't remember the impact but I do remember a loud noise. The next thing that I recall was being in an awkward position and I had just enough breath to give a slight "argh" noise and then I realized I couldn't breathe as the breath had been knocked out of me. To give you a better idea of what happened, here is the video of it, also please note that all the drivers were fine:

As the video shows the concern was immediate as many people over to see how I was. Over the next 20 minutes or so I was amazed at how many people were around me. In this series, as with any sport, there can be disagreements between officials and parents, or between parents themselves, but while I was down there was an eerie unity. I say eerie because I often seem myself as simply the flagger and I don't go out of my way to know who people are just because that would require socializing and having Asperger Syndrome the way I do socializing is something I try and avoid. And yet, yes, and yet even though I may not now who everyone is everyone seems to know me and the level of concern, and support that all who were around me showed was enough that, as I write this, I'm on the brink of tearing up.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the hospital. A couple of people from the track went with me and stayed with me which was a huge boost to the way I was feeling. Also, the heavy pain meds also put me in a happy place. After numerous X-rays and a CT scan my hip and ankle were shown to be okay and the doctor suspected that I had a broken rib. All in all I would say I was lucky as it could have been worse.

Right as I was about to be released another person from the track showed up. He was holding something and he mentioned that all the feature race winners get a guitar and he told me the drivers decided that I should get one so a bunch of the drivers signed it and while in the hospital bed I was given it:

It's going to be a long week for me. I have so much to do and when the crash happened the only thing I was thinking, even above, "Am I okay?" was, "Oh no, is my April still going to happen?" I can now say, "Yes it will!" even if I am sore there is no amount of pain that is going to stop my Autism Awareness Tour of Amercia. In just six days I drive to New York City (and eight days until my book is rereleased), or perhaps ride if I'm still on pain meds, to kick off a 45 day journey. That's then though and today I need to focus on doing nothing so I can heal up.

Once again, thanks to everyone who was at the track who showed their support and to all those who have e-mailed or sent me a message on Facebook. It means so much to know that people care!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Final Weekend...

Last night I drove to Nashville as I am in town to flag round four of the USAC Generation Next tour. While I was driving I kept thinking that this is it; this is the last weekend before the tour begins. What will the following week bring?

I know I've been repeating myself somewhat this past week, but I don't know what else to say or what else to feel. Every second I am not doing something I feel consumed by this tour. Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing overall, but the nerves that come along with it are just part of the territory.

On my drive I get begin to think of all that had to happen to get me where I am today and I think a big part of it began when I became the chief starter for this USAC series. Sure, I was traveling around Missouri giving presentations, but this series has seen me drive all around the midwest. This series, coupled with the presentations across Missouri, have led me to where I am today in being able to simply leave home without fear and to be able to navigate the open highways and all the hilarity that could happen.

Next week I think I will be writing in a way to set up my book release. I don't know what it will look like yet, but I hope to make it great and insightful. Also, I do hope to have a page made with all the dates and times of my presentations across America so be sure to be on the lookout for that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Autism Awareness Tour: Provisional Schedule

It's getting even closer! It's getting more and more real by the second and if I could bounce of the walls I would be doing so right now.

I do have a tentative list where I will be and when. This list is not the finalized version and once everything becomes finalized I will list the places, dates, and phone numbers for RSVPing. But here's what we've got right now:

April 5: New York City (Brookville)
Date TBD: Indianapolis
April 9: Fort Wayne
April 11: Chicago
April 13: Saint Louis
April 16: Topeka
April 18: Denver
April 23: Phoenix
Apil 25: Las Vegas
April 28: San Fransisco
May 1: Los Angeles
May 3: Irvine

As of now that's the list. Again, this is not the finalized list. Some of these dates might change, but I wanted to get some information out there. As soon as everything becomes solid I will give the times of each presentation and locations.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I woke up feeling overwhelmed; to be on the edge of something so big is somewhat, well, overwhelming. I sat down at my computer and I tried to write, but nothing was happening so I decided I needed to do something to distract myself.

The weather in Saint Louis has been amazing and I joked yesterday that, as Spring started yesterday, the season went from summer to spring. That being the case I decided that golf would be the best thing to do because golf is a very easy sport to get distracted by due to the high level of difficulty.

I drove past a couple courses yesterday afternoon and they were packed. Last year I had several posts regarding how I love the solitude of golf and last May I had a run in with two different foursome of old men. That being the case I decided to head out to Deer Creek near House Springs as the course, being out of the metro area, is usually not all that crowded.

My round started off shaky as I forgot how to drive the ball and my slice was the stuff that legends are made out of. By hole eight though I figured it out (I had to much weight on my back foot) and by hole 12, for the first time in my life, I figured out how to use the pitching wedge (I always thought it was rocket science... it isn't.)

Hole 16 rocked me again and I had a high level of distraction as I could not hit the ball straight. I was thinking about just driving back to the clubhouse and calling it a day, but the allure of a par 3 sparked my interest so I decided to do it.

The wind was brisk all day and on the #17 tee box the winds began to howl. I took my 9 iron out for this 128 yard hole and put the ball on the tee and took my customary one practice swing. I then lined up and swung at it and the ball went skyward.

Right away I knew I hit it good. The line with the wind looked good and I thought I had the correct power. The ball landed in front of the hole on the left side and was on line with the hole, it then took a bounce, and then it disappeared. I knew the line was correct, but I didn't believe what I was seeing; I mean, a hole in one? That's something that only happens to movie stars, PGA players, and movie stars in movies. So I said aloud, "Did that just happen?"

I didn't know what to do. Honestly, I was frozen. Do I jump? Do I scream? This is what every golfer plays for and it happened as if it were nothing. It all happened so fast, so sudden, and so unexpectedly. After staring at the green I ran to my golf cart to call my dad and I informed him of what happened and sort of was hoping he would tell me what to do. I then sent numerous texts and was asked, "Did anyone see it?" Uh oh!

Despite if there was a witness or not I walked to the hole with the confidence of a person that, well, just got a hole in one and I stood over the hole a took a picture with my phone.

As I was playing hole 18 I once again sliced it like there was no tomorrow and a manager type guy found me and gave me a discount on my next round due to a couple greens being sandy as I played through. I then informed him of my feat and he told he would look into it and to state this at the club house.

If I had any confidence in my golf game after the hole in one the final hole humbled me once more. I still had a bogey, but it was a sloppy one at that. I then got a text from someone letting me know that I need to keep the ball that I got the hole in one with. Thankfully I didn't hit the ball into the water on 18 because I was still using it.

I got to the clubhouse and informed the manager lady that I had got the hole in one and thankfully someone else had saw it... THERE WAS A WITNESS AND IT WAS OFFICIAL. She took my information and signed off on it so here it is, proof, that on March 21, 2012 I did what many people never do in a lifetime. I got an ace!

By tomorrow's blog post I should be in a position to release some of the dates and times and venues of my Autism Awareness Tour of America.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2 Weeks...

The homestretch is being reached! In just two weeks "Finding Kansas" will be rereleased. As the day approaches it still doesn't seem real. It also doesn't seem real that I will be embarking on the Autism Awareness Tour of America.

I've had an extremely busy month and for that I am thankful because if it was a slow month I would be going bonkers thinking about everything that is about to, and could, happen. I mean, I still don't believe it; I don't believe any of it despite the fact that I've held the new edition of my book. Also, I don't believe that I am going on this speaking tour across America despite the fact that my dad informed me yesterday that, "90% of the speaking venues are set and we're close to releasing the dates, places, and times of presentations." Yes, despite all that it still doesn't seem real.

I've always been like this; when I got my first go-kart my dad bought the chassis first so I still had doubt that I'd ever race because it didn't have an engine. Once the engine was bought I was sure I would never race because I didn't have a helmet or suit. Once those were purchased I had doubts because I didn't know if it would roll. A couple weeks later I drove it in a parking lot and still had doubts because I was sure I would never be on a race track. Several weeks after that I had my first practice on the track, but it wasn't a race and racing was still three weeks away so I was sure it would never happen. Once the race happened I still had doubts because I was sure I was dreaming. Bottomline, I still can't imagine all that has happened to set this tour up let alone a division of Penguin publishing my book.

The week ahead for me is frantic, and that is good because it will further my distraction from the thoughts of April. I have a presentation at the city TouchPoint office and after that I am back on the road headed to Nashville for the fourth USAC Generation Next series race in as many weeks.

For my blog next week I might do a reboot of sorts meaning that I am sure I will be getting a lot of new traffic, and with the rerelease coming up I think I might devote the week to setting up who I was, the diagnosis, and how I got to this point. This isn't solid, but it is something I might just do.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Double Dose of Sensory Issues, A New Alias, and The Weekend In Atlanta

So I back home after a busy and eventful weekend in Atlanta. The story begins on Friday on the outskirts of Atlanta, where the track was, when I found out that I'd be sharing the flagstand with another flagger. Initially I was annoyed because, as I said, "I'm a flagman, not something else" but I then told James, the series director, that, "I could announce as I did it once in 2007 at a kart race." I think I was part joking and wasn't expecting him to give up the microphone, but before I could get in another word the compromise was set and I would be announcing on Saturday and flagging on Sunday.

The story continues that night at dinner. Living my life, I feel as if I have to constantly avoid landmines. They can be anywhere and can pop out of nowhere. At dinner one of these landmines popped up after we ordered as there was a band that started playing in the bar room dining area. I tried to fight through it as the last thing I want to do is to create any scene or any sort of deviation from normality. However, in this band there was a drum set, which I have known to create the worst sensory feeling in the world, as well as something I had never heard before and that was a bass guitar.

As they started playing a surge of adrenaline flooded my body, my heart rate went wild, and it felt as if my insides were trying to jump out of my body. At first I think the people I was dining with thought this to be something that I was stating to create a scene because, if one has never felt what I was feeling and it hasn't been explained I think it is impossible to have any sort of empathy because it is something that most people don't think of.

Those at dinner learned it wasn't just an inconvenience when I stood up and stated, "I hate my body!" and stormed out of that area. I eventually resettled at the other corner of the restaurant where still the noise created issues. The way I can explain what it felt like right there is this; have you ever been in a car and had a near miss, say, if you pulled out in front of a car. You know that feeling of shock that subsides? Imagine that amplified and sustained. That's what was going on in my body that night and thankfully the food came and I ate fast and left.

The next morning it was time for me to make my USAC Generation Next announcing debut. The debut was delayed a couple hours due to rain and this made me more and more nervous as I had more time to think about it and more time to convince myself that this was going to end in a train wreck.

I started off a bit shaky out of being a rookie at this. Over the course of the day I became more and more comfortable and eventually I felt as if I were simply in my presentation "Alias" mode and that I wasn't really announcing but simply having a conversation with someone about what was going on in the race.

Later in the day James snuck up behind me and got video of me announcing. He tried to show me it the next morning, but I would have none of it as I hate seeing myself and hate even more when I hear myself. With that being said I don't know if the following video is of me doing a good job, or a bad job.

I had some memorable lines while announcing and the one I'm going to remember the most went something like, "and out of turn two they go two, three, FIVE WIDE, yeah that's not going to work... yellow comes out again as we have a parking lot of sorts in turn three."

That evening I was feeling rather good about myself as I got many compliments from the parents and even some of the drivers. However, that feeling quickly vanished as we had dinner and once again it got noisy.

There were about 12 of us at this table and after spending all afternoon talking away on the microphone I became socially paralyzed. Add on top the fact that this place had the worst service in the world (it took me 100 minutes to get my salad and as Kyle, a USAC employee said, "This should be called the 24 hours of cheese sticks." because it took him three hours to get his appetizer") and then halfway through a DJ in the open air bar area started playing some really deep bass music and one again my body felt as if I were going to implode.

In situations like that the only thing I want to do is disappear. This wasn't possible in that environment and the last thing I wanted to do was to walk out again. Self-hate was growing because I spent all afternoon doing something I didn't know I could do competently rather well and right then I was having a platter of issues.

Eventually I put my sunglasses on because I didn't want those around me to see the level of discomfort I was having. I don't want to be a burden and I felt if those around me saw that I was in pain then their evening would be brought down due to my body's inability to properly process deep bass noises. Well, I don't know if that last sentence is the right way to say it, but those noises create pain for me but I didn't want to hinder the other people at the table.

On the way back to the hotel I described the sensations to James and those in the car and once again I all but said, "I hate myself. Something like that shouldn't happen." And James said, "Why not? You have Asperger's, right?" To that I replied, "Well, yes, but... but... Yeah, you're right."

James' line by saying that, and I don't know if it was intended, made how I felt right. There was no looking down on me as I always fear others will do and there was no tone of thinking that I was some freak. This made me feel "normal."

The next day I was anxious to get in the flagstand as the sensory issues the past two nights made me yearn for doing something that I can do to perfection. And what a perfect day it was! No mistakes, great racing, and at the end I felt proud to be me. It was only three days but so much happened and I know I won't soon forget the highs and lows of my weekend in Atlanta.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A New Alias

Saturday will see me attempt a new "alias" as I will be announcer for the USAC Generation Next race outside Atlanta. You wukk be able to listen live, with video, by clicking HERE!

Will I survive? Will it end in a train wreck of "um" and "uh's?" Get a head start on Monday's blog as I will probably blog about the experience so be sure to watch on Saturday. Practice starts 9AM US Eastern time with heat races and lower mains to follow.

An Odd Feeling

I am outside Atlanta right now for round three of the USAC Generation Next tour, but yesterday on my way to my presentation I had I stopped at the 7-11 near me. I've stopped there several times since I wrote last month about the one that closed near my house. Yesterday that hole I mentioned in the previous blog sort of felt whole.

I walked in and heard a voice I recognized; it was the guy that worked at the one that had closed. This was weird because I am about 20 miles from there and yet here he was. It was weird because a sense of safety and sameness came about me. Granted, I've never had a conversation with this guy and yet seeing him at this 7-11 made the world seem more connected, more whole.

This is one of the oddities of being on the spectrum; I can seem non-caring when someone talks to me because I'm thinking about other things and I may not take notice of those I may see daily but when they are gone, that's when I begin to take notice.

Those are my thoughts on that. The schedule is getting close for April and when it is complete I will be releaseing it. I'm getting nervous/anxious/excited and probably about 100 other emotions as well regarding it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Food and Presentations

Yesterday was a hectic day for me in that I had three presentations. Because of the schedule I sort of neglected the whole need for eating an actual meal.

I started the day with two McDonald's oatmeal things before my first presentation. I didn't have much time then to get from one presentation to the other so I had a Wheaties Fuel bar and a Red Bull. Yes, I know somewhere a nutritionist is cringing.

My 2nd presentation was at about 3:20 and I was off. I wouldn't say it was a bad presentation, but my words came slower and I was nowhere near as animated as I usually am. All in all the best word to describe it would be to say I was 'sluggish'.

There was about a two hour gap between presentations and a coworker went to go get food from Steak n Shake (somewhere Ryan is cursing my name at the mention of that place. Ryan, you'll have it someday in the northeast) so I ate the first real meal of the day and within minutes I was feeling better.

The final presentation of the day was much like all the other ones I do. My words were fast, crisp, and my sentences actually made sense.I've always known that I feel crummy when I don't eat right, but I never had a 'before and after' example so close to each other to judge just how big of a difference there is.

Driving back home I thought of my days in school and just how little I ate. Could that have made things rougher? I'm sure it didn't help, but as much as I'd like to expand on that point I have to leave for my presentation I have this morning and then my drive towards Atlanta so hopefully I remember to write about this in the near future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Day of Writer's Block

Okay, this is annoying! I've been staring at my computer screen in my office for over an hour and for the first time in a while I don't know what to write. Granted, I am writing about something, but besides writing about my writer's block today nothing is coming up. I think I've said, "today's blog needs to write itself!" at least five times and my computer, sadly, didn't listen to me.

This is the first time in a long time that I have struggled to think of something but I don't think this is reflective on that I am out of things to say. Quite the contrary actually as I think the anxiety from the upcoming "Autism Awareness Tour of America" is growing by each day. I think it's just 19 or 20 days away and there is still so much to do. Well, I'm not doing the brunt of the work such as lining up speaking venues, but I'm still worried about it.

I think back to when I was younger and it times of high anxiety I often would cutoff all relationships and routines when I was stressed. This was my way to sort of tolerate my environment I think as when I am stressed I don't have my normal ability to handle other situations. Granted, I'm sure this is the same for everyone, spectrum or not, but for a person on the spectrum the effects of this are amplified.

I'll have a small break from worrying about April today as I have three presentations (a new daily record, we'll see how my voice handles it though) and tomorrow I have a 20 minute presentation which will be the first time I have something that short since, well, speaking at the Rotary Club in Vancouver back in 2010. This will provide my mind with a challenge so that will be great and then after that presentation the flag show is back on the road as I drive to Atlanta, or perhaps Nashville and then catch a ride to Atlanta... well, okay, I don't really know what tomorrow will look like either and maybe that's adding to the stress of the day.

Wow, for having writer's block, today's blog post wasn't that bad I believe. Regardless I hope tomorrow's goes just a little bit smoother.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Drive Down Memory Lane

On the return flight home yesterday I was feeling rather reflective on who I am now and where I was. This continued on to bowling last night as I stared off into space wondering where those I used to know are now. I looked over to the league that Emily and I bowled in and I missed those days of 2001 and 2002.

The trip back in time continued after bowling as I had to drive my car to my dad's as my car needs to go back to the shop for the fourth time in a month (very mad!). This was the first time that I made the drive to that home since I moved out in October. Since I was already in a nostalgic mood this just added to the memories experienced.

As I pulled out onto Watson Road I thought back to all the times I've made that turn. Between the nights I worked there and all the leagues I have been in it is probably at least 1,000 times. After my diagnosis in 2003 the only true socializing I had was at the bowling alley on Mondays and Wednesday. On Wednesdays I actually bowled in two leagues each night and would make that turn towards home on Watson around midnight each week.

Those were lonely nights and I remembered most of them as I got close to the railroad bridge. I also remember the night that I came across what appeared to be a street racing crash as three highly tuned cars were up against the building that used to be a Frank's Arts and Crafts store. It was in those lonely drives that many times my chapters for my book were thought of.

As I closed in on Jamieson Avenue I felt out of place, much like returning to a place of work that you used to work at but don't anymore. It was as if I was invading a place I was no longer welcome. I looked to the right at the red light and saw that the Blockbuster Video store was still there and this brought a smile to my face because that was the first store we shopped at when we moved to Saint Louis in 1993.

Onward down the road and everything was as I remembered it minus the new style street lights which are on Chippewa. Honestly, they are like 10,000 times brighter and more clear than the old ones and I was going to do a blog about them while I lived there but I never got around to it. Anyway, I pulled into home as I was going to drop my car off so my dad could take it to a shop and I was going to take my step-mom's car back to my place.

Walking into the house was much like I had done hundreds of times on a Monday night. Again though I felt out of place like this was walking into a home that you lived in years ago. As I walked into the living room I remembered all the nights I would walk in and go straight to the back room to engross myself in whatever video game I was playing at the time. That was all I had back then and it was from all those nights that my writings flourished.

Teddy the Yorkie came to greet me and I showered him with attention. I still feel bad about him because just as I moved out was the time he started to latch onto me each morning and I would wake up with him staring at me on my bed. I then thought about my cats I had and all the spots they would sit.

A conversation was had and just as I was about to go I went to get a drink of water and walking back towards the front room I saw them. I forgot my dad had received them but there they were, the first copies of the new version of Finding Kansas. I felt so strange that on a night that brought back so many memories be it the Emily, the loneliness I felt, and all those nights of struggle here was the fruit of all that effort. It was so much that I held back tears as I was able to hold my work. It was like holding the first version of my book, but this was more special. The first publisher was sort of a self publish, but this book was by a major publisher that sort of found me. Holding the book made me feel, in a way, as if I had "made it." Made what? It's true that I have done great the past two years, but holding this version of my book took it to the next level. And I don't know, maybe it was the fact that I was traveling down memory lane, but once again I felt okay with the way everything had happened. All those lonely tear-filled nights were not in vain as I turned all that angst into words to describe who I am and why I am.

Quite possibly yesterday was the perfect day from waking up in San Antonio, getting back to town, and having so many things that reminded me of who I am and where I was. It is only when one is reminded of this that one can truly measure the growth that they have experienced. As I drove to my home I did so knowing that despite the hopeless nights I had and all the times I said, "there is no hope" I was lieing. Never could I have imagined just where life would take me and never could I have imagined that I, of all people, would be living on my own. And never, even when I was writing, could I have imagined that I would be published by anyone and have it worthwhile to be read. Yes, I said there was no hope and as I pulled into my driveway I realized that my trip down memory lane just threw my fuel on my passion to spread the message that there is always hope.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Two Trips to the River Walk

On Thursday I had a meeting with a person here in San Antonio (I write this at the airport about to head home after 10 days) and we had dinner at the River Walk. Thursday was a chilly day and this photo doesn't show what the weather turned into as about 30 minutes later it started to rain and get rather windy.

It was a relaxing pace on Thursday with not too many tourists about and the only ambient noise was the noise of the quacking ducks. All in all it was a beautiful, peaceful place. I was warned though as I was told that on a weekend night walking is difficult due to the amount of foot traffic. Last night I discovered just how crowded it could be.

After we finally got in round two of the USAC Generation Next tour we decided to go to dinner on the River Walk. After three miserable days of rain and mist the sun was firmly set in the sky and all the people that were couped up in their hotels were now out in force. Where as on Thursday there was just a stray walker the streets and sidewalks were now crammed. I had no issues on Thursday, but last night I was in a near panic with the amount of people out.

I had to look out of place as I was reserved, nervous, and my eyes were darting about. I don't know if I could put into words just how uncomfortable I was. It took all my power to not just vacate the area. Why was there a problem? I'd say it was the randomness of it all. At a sporting event all people are usually walking in one direction and there is order. Now, that isn't to say that last night was filled with disorder, but it was a chaotic scene as walking usually saw bumping due to the close confines and there was no order in the walking. Conversations could be heard in all directions as well as the music from various mariachi bands. Again, it wasn't that extreme of an environment, but due to all of it at once it was difficult for me.

Now how am I supposed to explain this at that point in the time? Just hours prior I was perched in the flagstand with confidence and conviction and now I was reduced to a nervous wreck. I was told that I should push myself outside my comfort zone, but I was there and could not do anything because all the alarms were going off in my mind and body. I so badly wanted to have my sunglasses because I really think that taking the eye contact element out of that environment might have made a huge difference, but they were locked away in my hotel room.

After an hour we got seated at a restaraunt and I was given, in my opinion, the best position tactically as I was in the center of the table with my back to the river. Honestly, if I steeped back about a foot or two I'd have gotten rather wet (there was a small railing there). Once I was in this position the alarms that were blaring and telling me to "run! get out of this place!" subsided and I slowly came back to normal. Dinner was good and here is that shout out I promised, thanks for dinner, you know who you are!

So that was the conclusion of my weekend. As I said earlier, it is so difficult to be in an environment where all is easy and then to go to one where I want to shutdown. For most people I'm sure that the roles would be reversed meaning that flagging a race with perfection expected and timing of calls have to be made instantly might intimidate others and a social environment like the River Walk would be easy. For me this isn't the case. At times like last night I get so frustrated at myself because I don't want to feel that way. I don't want to look as if I am in a battle with myself and visibly uncomfortable. It isn't a choice and I can't simply power through it. During those times I feel isolated and cutoff from everyone. Even though I am in a group I am alone. Even though there are, perhaps, thousands of people about I am alone on a deserted island and am unable to call out for help and say how I feel.

Perhaps I am stronger than I give myself credit for. As much as I would like to just power through and be "normal" perhaps the strength lies in the fact that I don't runaway. I don't hideaway at the hotel, despite the fact that I wanted to, and I do put myself out there. It isn't easy, and at the time I may feel alone, but I still go on. I don't quit, will not quit, and I may have hundreds of more experiences like this but I think, and hope, I will continue to not take the safe route in hiding and will continue to put myself out there on the edge.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not Much to Say

It's cloudy and rainy here in San Antonio today and April seems to be getting bigger and bigger. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the fact that April is growing to a level I could never have imagined, but I don't have much to say today. I'll try harder on Monday, but right now I am a ball of anxiety preparing for the largest month of my life.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Adventures on 10

Yesterday was a day to remember for many of the wrong reasons. The goal of yesterday was to make the near 1,000 mile drive from Phoenix to San Antonio. On paper it looked like a simple drive as once we hit I-10, or "The 10" if you're from the west coast, it was that road all the way.

The first two hours went smoothly and then one of those advisory signs that can display text said, "I-10 closed at Lordsburg NM." If there's one thing that a motorist never wants to see it is road and closed in the same sentence.

I got out my phone and went to the NMDOT website and learned the road was closed for nearly 100 miles due to high winds and dust. This led to a avalanche of thoughts as this is something, living in the midwest, I'm not used to or have ever seen. How long would it be closed? How long would it be windy?

We forged ahead knowing the road was closed and when we got to Wilcox, Arizona it was decision time. Texts were being swapped left and right and it seemed I had a hard time stating the fact that the road was closed. Looking at the map there was no detour, no other possible route, and according to officials, "I-10 will reopen when I-10 reopens." However, a couple people texted me and said, "I don't know where your info but NMDOT says it's open."

I knew for a fact otherwise and this instantly sent me into a downward spiral. It is hard for me to communicate. If you've seen my presentation then that sentence might seem impossible, but the amount of energy and mental reserves it takes for simple interactions is more than you can probably imagine. Because of that when I do speak, or know something, and am discounted there is nothing I know that is more aggravating.

Despite knowing that the road was closed we drove towards New Mexico and once we got near the border we started to see the exit ramps loaded with vehicles. A mile later we got to the border and the police, had they had a flag, would have bee displaying the red. The only option was to turn around and head West as, in the words of the officer, "Too many bad accidents and too much wind."

On the way back to Wilcox we tuned to the station that the blue signs said to tune to in case of winds, dust, or road closures but the only thing the radio was talking about was "Cigarettes in Chicago." There was no help whatsoever.

We got back to the truck stop at Wilcox, about 40 miles from the state border, and as we got in, within minutes, a voice on the intercom said that I-10 was reopened. One website said one thing, another said otherwise, and all in all it was a nerve fraying experience made worse, for me, due to the tail-spin I was in angry at myself for my lackluster communication skills.

Dinner was ate and I never was quite the same once we got back on the road. It took about 11 more hours before we got to San Antonio and on the way I saw Mexico, learned that I can sleep in a moving vehicle so long as I take a Melatonin and listen to music via a headset, and that I am more often than not my own worst enemy.

Social missteps are something that I think those that are closer to "normal" than not don't think about or dwell about it. For me, since everything is already overly forced, one minor event is something that is thought of for days. And when this happens the only thing left is me wondering what normal is like and what it is like to not stress about every word. Words, movements, and everything social doesn't come easily and right before I fell asleep I was looking out on the seemingly ever lasting wilderness wondering if I will ever find a comfortable place socially. I felt discouraged and longed for the days of 2004 when I knew no one and spoke to no one. However, back then I longed for what I have now, so with that being so how can I find a balance? How can I not become discouraged? It seems to be a cycle that can't be broken since, I want to socialize and yet, since socializing is difficult, I become angry at myself.

Between dozes I thought about giving up, but what would that accomplish? As difficult of a time that I have it is in these times that I am able to translate what is going on and what it feels like. Staying inside would be too easy. Despite the emotions I go through there would be no growth if I didn't put myself out there. So, despite what the world may throw at me I will forge on even if I know the proverbial road may be closed ahead.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On the Road

My first major road trip is happening today as we ride from Phoenix to San Antonio. It's about 1,000 miles and should take 14 hours. It's going to be an intense 14 hours for me as, even though there will be two people with me, I will more often than not be alone in my thoughts.

So much is happening in my life right now. It seems each day brings news bigger than the last and yesterday I got some big news about a potential media appearance. I keep asking myself, "How did all this happen?" It's all happening so fast!

Some other news about the Autism Awareness Tour of America (I can't think of a better name, can you?) is that Rob, my friend from Vancouver, will be joining me on my April journey. With the grueling schedule, and potential interviews over the phone, there would be no way I could complete the month safely as I would be a driving zombie by the time I got to Missouri.

As for now though I am going to do my best to try and focus on the drive today. This upcoming weekend will be round two of the USAC Generation Next tour, weather permitting, and for that I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Another Run-in With Manners

Have you ever had a trip to a restaurant and had everything go wrong? I experienced that last night but in the process a discussion much like an event last year saw.

Anyway, the "fun" began when I ordered a Cherry Coke. Most places don't have straight up Cherry Coke and they mix some sort of thing in it. I don't know the name of this even though I've heard it 1,000 times and each time when they ask me if it is okay I always say yes not knowing what I am saying yes to. So, when the drink came, I was given a glass, a glass bottle of Coke, and a small glass of that thing I don't know the name of. All of a sudden I became a drink mixer and had no idea what amount to pour so I just poured it all out and hoped for the best.

The menu was vast and I was not about to fall into a trap of processing what I wanted like I was earlier in the day at a Subway; seriously, I locked up twice. First was when I was asked, "What type of bread?" and secondly, "Chips or a cookie?" Each question saw me think about it was over 10 seconds with a look of despair on my face and in the end I answered with the thing I didn't want; I mean, a Meatball Mariana on flatbread? Yeah, I made a mistake. Wait, where was I?

Oh yes, the menu. The menu was vast and I decided to go with the pizza. I asked for pepperoni and mushroom, but the waitress was unsure if last night was the type of night they carried pepperoni so she had to leave to ask and she was gone for a minute when she finally came back and said no, not a pepperoni type of night. With that being so I went with sausage and mushroom and then I waited.

When the food came out the three of us with pizzas remained in a state of wait as they weren't done yet. Then one pizza came out, then another, but mine remained someone within the depths of the kitchen. So, six out of seven of us had food and I thought of the blog post I linked to earlier in this post. I thought if I should play the manners game and mention that it was okay if everyone started to eat, but then I remembered I am in a bitter struggle to end that odd and outdated rule.

The rule I'm talking about is the one where no one can eat until all food is served. As I said last year, this makes no sense. The laws of averages says that over the course of your lifetime you will get your food first sometimes, and last sometimes, but it will average out. That being the case why is it rude to eat when others haven't been served yet?

A couple more minutes passed and still no pizza for me. Others started to eat, without my consent I might add, and eventually this was talked about and I made my point perfectly clear. I was asked, "If you were on a date and your food came out first would you eat?" And to that I responded, "Most certainly. Why would I wait?"

As I have learned at my presentations when I talk about this I once again realized that most people don't see my logic and no amount of passionate debate will change other's minds on this topic. Another few minutes passed and still no pizza and then, finally, it came. However, it just wasn't my night so it wasn't sausage mushroom but rather sausage and some sort of weird looking onion like thingy that was probably onions but if there's one thing that doesn't belong on a pizza it is onions. I don't mind onions in ring form, but other than that onions can stay in the ground, or wherever they come from.

Many minutes later the right pizza came out and because of the delays and error a free dessert was given. I was given three options and I chose one and five or so minutes later the waiter came back and informed me that they were sold out of that option. Yeah, it wasn't my type of night. The food was wrong, and no one shared my view points on being able to eat as soon as food comes out. Oh well, it just gives me more passion the next time I get into a debate regarding this slippery slope that is manners.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Weekend in Phoenix and an Unexpected NASCAR Race

If you missed my video blog from Saturday you may want to go back one day and view it as I announced the Autism Awareness Tour of America coming in April.

I filmed the video blog during the 1st round of the USAC Generation Next tour in Phoenix and it felt so great to be back at a track with flags in hand. I could tell I am out of shape, in a way, as by the end of Saturday my knees ached from leaning over the side of the railing and my right wrist felt like a pile of jelly at the end of the day. All in all though it was a great day, and safe day, at the track and already I am looking forward to next week's race in San Antonio.

After the race on Saturday the USAC staff and I went to the Tempe area for dinner. I believe Arizona State University is in that area and the amount of people walking on the sidewalks is amazing. My typical night is not leaving the house so being out in the environment is 100% alien to me. Truly, I could not believe how many people were out with 2, 3, or sometimes a dozen friends at once. There's loud music blaring from almost every eating establishment and no one seems to mind. Walking past some places I cringed as my senses were assaulted and that was a reminder why this environment is so foreign to me.

Sunday morning I awoke not knowing what to expect. There weren't really any plans and once the car rental place finally open Rick and Denise, two fellow USAC officials, and I started driving wondering what to do. There is no shortage of things to do in the Phoenix area, but I mentioned, "You know, the NASCAR race broadcast just started, I saw, so the race will be starting in an hour so why don't we go to that?" And, with that question asked, we headed West to the track.

On the way to the track I mentioned several times how odd this felt. The reason why this felt odd was because when I go to an event I usually have it planned days, or weeks, in advance. In other words spontaneous decisions like going to an event like this just doesn't normally happen in my life. To be honest it felt somewhat liberating to be headed to an event without a ticket not knowing what was going to happen.

We found a guy on the street selling tickets and, to be honest, Rick's and my negotiating skills were certainly lacking as we probably could have talked down the price, but oh well, the tickets we got were pretty good to be honest.

Also, I felt truly out of my element as we took our seats after 74 laps. When I go to an event I am always early. Being late is not an option and yet, yesterday, despite feeling odd it felt okay; it wasn't the end of the world.

After the race while walking back to our parked car there was a car stopped waiting for the foot traffic to take a break and there in the driver's seat was Jamie McMurray. I thought to myself that it is certainly a small world and I wanted to make some sort of waive of my hand or simply something to say hello, but by the time I had processed that it was him I was already 30 seconds away. With so many people though I doubt he'd have any memory of me, but I still felt it awesome how paths can cross.

So that was my weekend. All weekend I have been trying to process just what impact my keynote presentation had and still am at a loss as to the reaction I got. Maybe someday I will understand, but as of now I will simply keep presenting oblivious as to why people enjoy it so much. Also, it felt kind of nice to live outside of my rigid ways. Granted, I still want to be early for everything I go to and I don't think the nightlife of Tempe is for me, but for one weekend I was part of "that" world that I wonder about so much.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Final Day of My 2nd Year

Tomorrow will mark the start of my 3rd year at TouchPoint full time. Already today has been memorable as I awoke to a thunderstorm producing some nice sized hail. The sun hadn't risen yet but it was still time for me to get going as I had a presentation for two elementary schools South of town.

That presentation went amazingly. Nothing gives me more hope than teachers that want to know what is going on in the mind of a person on the spectrum. That presentation also presented a couple challenges as, right at the time I mentioned how school bells distracted me they went off and later on my composure was shaken when a thunderstorm producing hail hit. I didn't say anything, and I didn't get my phone out, but I wanted above anything else to look at the radar on my phone. I could see other people doing that so if anything major was about to hit I had faith that they would get us to safety.

Right now I sit at my dad's house awaiting my ride to Washington University and my first ever time as a keynoter. I still don't know fully know what I'm going to say or in the order I'm going to say it. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's the worst thing possible, but I'm going to enjoy my 45 minutes and hopefully say stuff that is really relevant. From the presentation my dad will be taking me to the airport as I head West to Phoenix for the race.

I would write more but time is wearing thin. One thing though, I am planning on doing a video blog tomorrow to commemorate the start of my 3rd year at this (Monday will be the 3rd year for my blog) and also announcing an exciting string of events that I am planning to do for Autism Awareness Month. I'll probably film it at the track so it might be tomorrow evening before it goes up... and if the hotel doesn't have wi-fi then it might be Sunday or Monday before it goes up, but in any event be looking for that this weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Ever Changing Landscape of Kansas

Maybe it's because I'm so busy or maybe it's that there is so much on my plate coming up, or maybe my interests are changing. Whatever the case may be it is becoming annoying.

I think it all started when my Xbox Gamerscore went over 100,003. Since then starting any new game has been impossible. Currently I pass the time either playing FIFA 11 (typically not my game but I like starting with a not so good team, i.e. Chesterfield Football Club and seeing what I can do with them over the seasons) or trying to improve my high scores on Pinball FX2.

I also am trying to play through Skyrim which was a game I was looking forward to for years, but right now trying to make progress in that game is like trying to carry 15 bags of luggage through a busy airport. I literally have no interest in any story driven game or any game that I can't compete in. iRacing is still good on my Kansas list, but with my time short this week, and the Indycar at Dover (awful idea!) I don't really have the time to put into practicing to race.

So last night I sat at home wondering what to do. I live in a gamer's pardise and if I spent every hour of the year trying to finish each game I have I'd probably come up short. And yet I don't want to spend just one hour doing it. Is this just a phase? Is iRacing that much better than anything else? Or, are my tastes changing?

One thing that has been introduced this week is my desire to play the piano. Granted, I'm horrible and have no training or lessons of any sort, but I can read sheet music to a degree. How did I learn? Funny side story; eight years ago my favorite song was CBS's music opening to their Winter Olympic coverage. Even in 1992 it was my favorite song and I think my mom wanted to disown me because I hummed it for months and years after each edition of the Winter Games. After 1998 when CBS lost the rights to NBC it was devastating to me because I knew NBC would probably use John William's theme that they used for the Summer Games. Anyway, in 04, I got out my VHS tape of the final primetime telecast that CBS had and saw that the song they used was written by Tamara Kline. Using my internet detective skills... aka Google... I found her, e-mailed her if she had a copy of the song, she did not, but she sent me the sheet music. Very quickly I learned and for about two months I practiced about 15 minutes each night. Then, when I got Xbox Live and Toca Race Driver 2, the piano playing stopped.

Once again though I find myself being sucked into the piano. Every time I walk by I sit down and practice just a little bit more and now I'm pretty good at knowing where the C, F, and G chords are. Still though I hope my neighbors can't hear my attempts at some of these songs, but slowly it is becoming a hyper-Kansas to the point that I'm interested in actually taking lessons. Do I have the time to do so? Most certainly not, at least not in the next few months, but it is something on my mind.

So this is where I'm at now. I get asked a lot from parents at presentations, "Will my child ever quit playing video games?" and to that I've always answered my experiences that I will probably be playing them until I am 100 years old. Now though I'm not so sure. I think I will always want to play a game that I can compete in like iRacing or NHL, but as for story driven games I'm afraid that the tide has turned. What really troubles me is that I hope I can trudge on through Mass Effect 3 when it comes out because that's another game I've waited years for. And then again, maybe I will be at my piano creating horrible dissonance but enjoying every second of it.