Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Finding Kansas Revisited: Work, See, Fear


The previous three chapters were written in less than 26 hours of each other and the following day I didn’t write. Again, I had no motive or any inkling of what these writings would become. Besides, who was going to read these words? Actually, a leading doctor at the time would.

My dad had sent the first three chapters to a doctor on a Wednesday and, surprisingly, the doctor quickly responded telling him that my words had a high value and were quite valid. My dad in turn told me and the next night I had another writing explosion writing three chapters and “Work” was the first of them.

While reading this chapter the memories of all the jobs mentioned flooded me. I still treasure the nights spent at the bowling alley. I truly do. Was it glamourous? No. Was it tedious? Yes. Was dealing with the occasional drunk who blamed me for their inability to bowl fun? No, but when you’re 16 and you have your first job there’s something ambitious about it; this concept of starting at the bottom and the sky is the limit beyond that.

The bowling story in there about Carol is true; she did mock any person who was a “donkey” (not exactly the word she used) but the 858 three game series I bowled still haunts me. In the book I mentioned I had not had a 300 but seven months after writing the chapter I would bowl a 299 to get a ring and a year after the 299 I would finally meet perfection and have a 300.

While the bowling alley was the first job, and the video duplicator which was briefly mentioned was the 2nd job, the job of relevance is the video game store. As with “Game Theory” I started coming up with the “Alias” and “Kansas” concept without knowing it as I wrote about my ability to sell.

As with the days at the bowling alley I look fondly on my time at the video game store. In my presentation I do not talk about the loss prevention guy as that experience was one that took a very long time to recover from. With the staff turnover the new staff had no understanding of me and in my presentation I do say those there became rude and they did. I had zero social awareness and I went to work to work and those that were there with me didn’t want to talk about work (or work for that matter) and couple that the fact that each time I went to the backroom I had a flashback of being asked, “Do you want to go to jail?” it was too much and I threw my name tag on the ground and I quit.

I then worked at a bank, but that job wasn’t a good fit and then I remained unemployed for many years. In my 2nd book I will talk about this desire to work and it was great, but the trouble starting a job, and fearing the inevitable and what I believed to be a guaranteed failure scared me. Did I need money? Yes, but at the time the pain of the job wasn’t worth it. Mind you, it was after the job at the bank that I found out I had Asperger’s and after that money didn’t matter because nothing mattered.

One point, going to the start of the chapter, was how I started flagging. There are so many people that got me to where I am today and Frankie the flagman was one of them. I wrote in a somewhat negative tone in my book about him such as how his age was affecting his abilities and how, literally, the club was worried for his health on hot days, but those Sundays at the track with him and hearing stories from USAC, motorcycles, to even boat racing was a treasure. I don’t remember his last name as it was a long German name, and if he were still alive he’d be in his 100’s I’m sure, but he gave me my first job and in the list of people in my life I’d like to thank he’d be in the top three.

As you know, things have certainly changed from when I wrote this chapter as I do have a job now. Could I have ever imagined having a job like this? I mean, I even have a title! Autism Ambassador for Easter Seals Midwest. If you would have told me this when I wrote the chapter of “Work” I would have simply laughed at you. “Hope?” I would have said, “You expect me to have hope? Did you read the chapter? Seriously, did you? You honestly think I have the ability to have a job, and it be full time, and that I’ll have it for many years? That’s a funny story!” But my, oh my how time can change things!


I have to be honest, the only thing I remember about writing this chapter was speaking about my ability to see all the racecars on a television screen and be able to see trouble long before an incident occurs. This has since gotten better since I’ve flagged many more races than I had when I wrote this. As I say in the chapter, “Ask my dad how aggravating it is.”

So yes, I don’t remember this chapter but it’s amazing that the chess metaphor is exactly what I use in my presentation. One thing, at this point in time, is that I did not understand the processing component of being on the autism spectrum. I talk about the delay in understanding and I asked the question in the chapter on whether or not I’m overanalyzing and I now know that this is the truth.

Another thing is that I still make the same chess mistakes to this day. I’m a member on and as the moment my I write this my ELO is 1322 and I have 452 wins, 322 losses, and 26 draws. I am above a 50% win ratio, but the games I lose I lose because of the reasons stated in this chapter.

I think this chapter was my starting to understand the concept more commonly known as, “Theory of Mind” or as I call it, “I think therefore you should know” which will probably be the title of my 2nd book, but in chess, or socializing, there is a need to be able to see the other person’s side. For myself, it wasn’t there. Has it gotten better? A bit, but there are still situations where I will be blind to what is going on and as I end the chapter, I still would give anything to have the ability simply to see the other side.

--à Writer’s Note: It’s been five months since I wrote the above so I may repeat myself in future chapters…


            It’s been a while since I last worked on this “Finding Kansas: Revisited” project and I don’t remember what I’ve said so pardon me if I repeat anything. That being said the next chapter up is Fear which was written the same night as “See.” Reading this chapter, well, it was difficult. I think this chapter was the first time I turned a corner so to speak in that this was, I feel, the first time I went completely under the surface and gave the world the true inner struggle I have to deal with.

            Some things have changed since I wrote that. The most major of them all is that Emily and Linda are simply a long ago memory. I wrote somewhere, and maybe it’s in a future chapter in the book, that I feared I’d be stuck with the same memories of them forever and I’d never move on. The thing is, though, whenever I feel any emotion that’s the way I feel which makes it rather difficult to understand that things do, even if it takes time, get better.

            Other things have not changed. My birthday is still a traumatic experience and the fear of loss is still crushing. Another aspect I have is the fear of losing what I have now. I fear going back to where I was when I wrote this chapter; alone, isolated, jobless, and feeling hopeless. Again, this is the fear of the fear. I now word it as saying it isn’t the storm itself that is difficult but rather the anticipation of the storm. Often times the anticipation is far worse than the storm itself, but if fear starts to run wild then it will run unimpeded.

            All in all I can’t believe I wrote this chapter so soon in my writing journey and to read it, and to experience it again, was difficult and so much so I don’t want to add anything more to it because this chapter is something I deal with to this day.

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