Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding Kansas Revisited: School, Scream


            The next two chapters were written in Kenya. I do have a chapter about that coming up, but the reason I had writing time was that I had stayed back in Kisumu as my dad went to the Masi Mara region because I had come down with some weird virus and was feeling under the weather. Due to this I slept a lot, but it was a unique feeling being on my own in a foreign country. Everything I needed was at the hotel so I didn’t leave, but there also wasn’t all that much to do. Writing never occurred to me up until I had had enough with the television options. For one, there was a channel that showed American movies. Sounds great, right? Nope! Instead of big blockbuster offerings it was a constant barrage of movies like Glitter (there’s a reason why its Metacritic score is an abysmal 14) and the other channel was a soccer channel. I could’ve gotten into soccer, but the commentary was in French and I don’t speak French. All that being said I decided to start writing and the first chapter I wrote was this one entitled “School.”

            As I started reading this chapter it felt as if I were just reading the transcript of my presentation. Also, it was like hearing all the stories I’ve heard from other parents who have had a child with Asperger’s go through the same struggles I did.

            I should’ve elaborated more in first grade about what I meant by time, but that’ll come in a later book. There is something amazing though that I hope you take note of. I’ve written about Mrs. Jendra several times in all the good things she did for me, but while I was writing this chapter I was unaware of it. I do mention the games we played in which I always became the “retired” champion. This did infuriate me at the time, and also when I first wrote it, but I now realize I am who I am because of that. I mentioned in this chapter that, “I’d much rather play the game than be the emcee” but being the emcee has allowed me to host many more games, ahem, presentations than I ever would have otherwise thanks to the public speaking experience I garnered then. I didn’t realize it when I wrote this in Kenya, but as I say now, “with Asperger’s it’s like planting seeds, you’ve got to give it time to grow.”

            I’ve continued reading this chapter and when I got to the homeschooling section I did shake my head at my choice of words in that, “There were no annoying idiots in the class (except for my cat)” I wouldn’t use those choice of words now, but when I was in school at that age that’s how I viewed others who didn’t follow the rules. You either were right, or I viewed you as one who does the wrong things and, well, as I wrote in 2005, “annoying idiot.” Can I get an edit of that word in a future edition? My cat though, yes, he was annoying and he always got sent to the principal’s office. Seriously, if I tried to do any work he’d lay right down on the paper so it was always a trip to the basement for him. It was okay, he liked it down there.

            When I got to the final chapters I, well, I felt as if ice water had flowed through my veins. I was right in that, had I stayed in college, I’d have been in graduate school at the time I first wrote this chapter. Here’s the thing that got me, though, and that was, “What pains me the most is realizing how smart I am and knowing what positive things I could do in the world, but this hatred of school will block any major thing I might want to accomplish outside of racing.” Okay, again, we’ve got repetition, but that sentence is the hole I was in when I was writing this. I thought I’d never amount to anything and a job, a profession, a career, and any glimmer of hope or happiness was impossible in my mind. If I have ever written a line that was a bigger fallacy than the quote I’ve quoted in this paragraph I’d like to read it because, in life, we have no idea what lies tomorrow. Yes, I did cover my fear of tomorrow which fueled my belief that hope was dead, but here I am, a decade later, stating just how far I’ve come and that while hope may seem elusive, dead, or a thing that isn’t reachable, it is.


            It was fitting that I wrote this thousands of miles away from home and while my dad was hundreds of miles away in a foreign land with no means to communicate because the start of this chapter captures the essence of what it is like, for me, to have Asperger’s. It’s weird writing a book report of sorts on my own material, but I still can’t believe I was so precise so early, but the metaphors I use to describe the loneliness is nothing short of spot on.

            The next section in which I speak about starting things made me laugh because I’ve blogged about this several times and had no idea I had already written about it in my book. Again, I don’t remember what I write word for word and outside of the concepts I don’t remember how I worded things in my book so it did make me chuckle that I identified this problem long before I re-identified the problem in a blog post back in 2011.

            The next section, about the practice session at the SLKA, was a great learning experience. There’s a reason why no one starts out at the top of their game and that is the fact that a person isn’t ready. While that practice session went off without a hitch, I learned that I had to be more assertive and at that point in my life I feared the consequences of every action I took. The following year I would be voted in as race director and my ability to make decisions, which sometimes were difficult (you try and tell a nine year old that they are DQ’ed for the day after heat 2), became easier and easier. I never could have imagined (I know I’ve used that a lot in my Finding Kansas Revisited series) that I’d reach a point where the challenges I wrote about would ebb, but with working with USAC and SKUSA I am now firm on when I make a call I voice my opinion about it. I could share many stories about this, and I’d love to actually, but I’ll spare you the excessive race talk.

            Still in the same segment I realized and isolated the issues I have with time-lapse and processing delays. What I didn’t know then was that this issue wasn’t because I was “slow” but instead it was because my brain was/is going too fast. A lot of people have talked to me about my wordage and issues at bowling with coming up with the right thing to say only to find that a few hours have passed and that I’m driving home. During those few hours it isn’t that I’m slow, as I’ve said, it’s that my brain is going so fast trying to come up with the right thing to say so I’m coming up with thousands of possible responses then I’m trying to think of what the response to my response is going to be. It’s an infinite platter of possibilities that can’t be predicted and yet I’ll try and predict the unpredictable thus my response time can be greatly delayed.

            I finished this chapter by writing about my experiences in Kibera which I referred to as a, “mega-slum” in my book. I’ve kept the picture of me there in my presentation within the “Alias” section because it was writing this section that the seeds of my future were planted. While writing the Kibera section I thought, “What if someone, anyone, out there is going to read this in the future? If so, I need to explain where I am, and what it is like. This was the first time I allowed myself to think that what I was doing had merit.

            There were many more chapters I wanted to write but sadly, shortly after finishing “Scream” my dad’s laptop computer power supply cord shorted out and I was stuck with no computer and only bad American movies or English soccer in French. As bad of a situation as that was nothing could prepare me for what was coming four days later.

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