Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Finding Kansas Revisited: Linda, Game Theory


I left the previous post on a minor cliffhanger and that was on purpose. The next morning I got up and saw my dad, well, I say morning but it was actually afternoon, and when I saw him he didn’t immediately say anything about what I had written. Moments went by and I said, “Did you see it?” and he replied to the positive and I asked, “Well, was it not bad?”

“Was it not bad?” became the routine for me. He then encouraged me to keep writing because it, “was not bad” so the next night I wrote a chapter that was actually harder to write than Emily. It was odd because I had known Emily for almost four years and Linda I had only seen in person for about 12 hours.

I do realize that it can be confusing to read my book in terms of things being in chronological order because Linda occurred before Emily. However, as I sat down at my computer at 1AM to write again I figured since writing about Emily was easy I’d tackle the biggest burden I had ever felt.

Why was Linda harder to write than Emily? I’m not sure. Perhaps it was the fact that this was a new experience, and as I mentioned in the chapter that I never thought I’d be even somewhat likable.

Reading this chapter, for me, was just as hard as writing it. It’s amazing how an event 15 years ago can hurt just as much as it did then. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t envision that we’d get married or anything like that, but there was a connection I had never experienced with a person. Ever. It was this that hurt so much after the fact which made writing it so difficult. I felt as if I’d never experience that again.

There were so many events within this chapter that shaped who I would become in life. And, as with Emily, my original writing of it was rather long-winded, something like 25 pages single spaced, but I did give a lot of useless details (well, useless to you meaningful to me.) The biggest series of events were all the violent situations that had occurred and close calls I had experienced. And, one thing that I did notice and it had to be an editing error, was that in the book it was mentioned that Greg Moore died in an Indy Racing League race when it had been a CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) event. I think I read a review somewhere on the internet that slammed me for this, but I would never make such a mistake.

Okay, as proven by my mini-tangent in the prior paragraph, I’m trying to avoid talking about this chapter. If this experience in my life were a chess match it’d have been one of those games where you get checkmated in four moves as I did everything wrong. I didn’t know about Asperger’s, I didn’t understand life, and the only thing I did know was racing. The moment in the chapter, the one where we hugged and she disappeared into the throng of people is a moment that is still as fresh now as the moment it happened. If my book ever gets made into any type of movie I’m going to be very particular about this moment because it’ll have to be perfect as I remember each step. I don’t know if when I wrote it originally, or if this post will give it justice in terms of just how devastating it is to have felt cut-off and isolated forever and for just 11 hours over two days to feel a connection; a true connection. Whether it was caused by me or her is irrelevant because the fact of the matter was that there was a connection and as fast and as spectacular as it was it was not.

I do wish a bit that the unedited chapter was out there because there’s more to the Linda chapter than Linda herself. I may have written about her but the chapter is in full essence about myself and the way an event can stay with a person for a long time. My dad after this would say, “Aaron, don’t worry about it. Time heals all wounds” and no words have ever made me more frustrated except, “I understand.” I didn’t have the understanding when I wrote this in that everyone doesn’t have the memory I do. I thought everyone remembers everything to the detail I do so I couldn’t fully explain how this was frustrating me.

So what about Linda now? In my 2nd book, I think, I give a brief update but the way I ended the chapter in my book is the same as it is now. In 2008 I did find her on Facebook and I sent a message simply apologizing yet again but it was never responded to. The words, “Have a good life and please never try and contact me again” still echo. Again, this isn’t about her but about me and a person I had a connection with I drove away and by the way, one thing I haven’t mentioned is that I sent the final message mentioned on page 29 on Valentine’s Day so yeah, I’ve done both with Christmas and Valentine’s Day for final messages. Moving forward, again, there will be no sequel to this chapter as I think I’ve hit every holiday that make the worst breakup days. I do wonder though, if maybe, just maybe, I will get a message someday saying, “Hello, do you remember me?” After 15 years, however, I don’t think I will but I still wonder whatever happened to her.

Game Theory

The next morning (afternoon) was a repeat of the morning after I wrote about Emily. My dad didn’t make reference to what I had written so I once again, “Well, was it no bad?” and each time I asked that I asked with a severe trepidation because I was sure I was going to be yelled at for expressing myself. Yelled at? Yes! That’s what the punishment was in my mind about expressing my emotions because, when expressing emotions, I had no idea how the other person would react hence why I would avoid it all together. Catastrophic thinking? You bet it is, but that’s the mindset that I have to deal with and it was dealing with these thoughts on the day after I wrote about Linda that spawned the next night’s chapter.

It was once again 1AM and I had to explain my trouble about speaking about emotions without coming out and saying it forthright. To do this I thought about how I struggled with the rules of engagement when speaking about emotions and the blindness I had to the response and how this is the opposite of playing a game.

As I began reading this chapter I found the first major difference between then and now and that is the line of, “it isn’t winning or losing that’s important, it’s the game itself.” Back then I was so satisfied with playing a game because playing a game was rare. When I wrote this I hadn’t been on Xbox Live for a full year and I playing games with friends was an uncommon thing. As the years have gone on, and I’ve become more competitive, I play the game to win. Becoming #1 at whatever I do is the only thing that matters and in my 2nd and 4th book, and 5th book that I am writing I talk about this. (Note: Only Finding Kansas is published at this time)

However, when I originally wrote Game Theory, the only thing that mattered was the game itself. I used to, and still do in open ended situation, struggle with the timing of a conversation but within a game there’s more rhyme and reason to the steps of the proverbial dance that is a conversation.

During the progression of writing Game Theory I once again, albeit briefly, allowed myself to think that maybe I was not just writing but creating something special. As fast as that fleeting moment was I went back to writing and I truly directed this chapter to my mom who couldn’t understand why I’d spend an entire weekend away from home to play just one game of Monopoly. With the internet it’d be much easier now, but in 2003 it was my only social outlet. It was an environment that I felt normal because the rules put forth a stable environment.

I knew I craved rules long before I knew I had Asperger’s and I knew I was different in this regard to others. It’s becoming more and more obvious that people on the autism spectrum are drawn to games and that makes me even more proud about this chapter because an article about a research paper I read stated everything I had written long ago.

There are other aspects of Game Theory that are critical as the seeds of coming up with Alias and the Kansas concept were planted in this chapter. This also amazes me because this was just the third chapter I had written, but I had so much confidence to push the limits (remember, these were my limits and I still had no idea how anyone would react to me expressing myself) and tell it like it is.

Game Theory is such a critical component of the autism spectrum, in my mind, that it plays a major part in my presentation. I have a much better understanding of this concept then I did when I wrote it and I made reference to not understanding the social rulebook and in my presentation I present it like this, “Within rules everything is known and I love Monopoly but shame on any of you who plays with house rules such as a Free Parking jackpot or double the salary for landing on ‘Go’” I do say that jokingly… somewhat, “Look people, their called the official rules, please read them. Thank you. I say this because of this, if everyone in the entire world plays Monopoly with the official rules then no matter where you go, whether it is Estonia, Lithuania, Italy, Spain, Brazil, or where you want to go the rules are going to be the same. Now granted, the languages will be different, but the colors will be the same, the dollar amounts the same, and the pictures on the cards will be the same so you can be 6,000 miles from wherever you call home but you’ll be able to play the same game.” Do you know how comforting of a fact that is? For there to be a constant is for there to be heaven on Earth. When it comes to social rules it is entirely different as one minute the rules are this, then they go to that, then this go back to this, then they go to this and that. Since those on the autism spectrum typically have issues reading social cues and can sometimes fully miss non-verbal social cues how can we be expected to have any idea of what is going on? In a world of a game those misunderstandings are often omitted because within rules everything is known.

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