Friday, June 30, 2023






            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.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Finding Kansas Revisited: School



            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 18 years 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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


While writing Finding Kansas, I would give Dr. Cameron a copy of everything I had written the previous week and with the chapter entitled "Tomorrow" we had a lively debate. To all of my potential negatives he mentioned the potential positives. It was a grand battle of optimism vs. pessimism with neither side able to score a KO punch. Then, he asked, "What is there to fear with something positive?" I froze. I didn't know how to answer. Then, he asked, "Do you know what a positive emotion is?" I looked at him puzzled, and eventually had to answer, "no."

It's amazing what you can learn after you write something, and that's the lesson I learned from this chapter. We continued our conversation and he asked, "Right now, with you writing amazing pieces, how happy are you on a scale of 0-10?" The reason I liked writing was I bypassed this type of conversation, but on this question, I looked off into the corner of his office, and began to cry.

This was some intense pain I was experiencing. What was happiness? I tried to formulate a competent answer, and I said, "I... I don't think I know what positive emotions are beyond a 2. For negative emotions I'm either a 0, a 1, or a 10 as there's no middle ground, but for happiness... I don't know what that means."

It took more years and some more maturity, but I began to understand that, for me, happiness is being engrossed in my Kansas. I didn't understand this at a younger age because others seemed to attempt to define what happiness was for me. This is what happened is school, and with my peers as I really enjoyed learning about places, and memorizing states and capitals, but for some reason this was looked down upon by my classmates. The lesson learned was that my happiness wasn't really happiness which gave me a skewed look on it.

Happiness had been experienced all my life, but the ability to process it, understand it, and know after the fact simply wasn't there. Remember, whatever is now is forever which means if happiness isn't in the present, it never existed. This was how I viewed it and it took many tomorrows to understand this.

Tomorrow doesn't have the same chilling effect it used to. My obsessive viewing of the news has ceased. My fear of animal tragedies in the middle of the night has gone away. Tomorrow is now seen as a new day, a day filled with potential and, so often, one day closer to the next INDYCAR race.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


 Finding Kansas Revisited continues on...

This chapter entitled Trapped was written the same night as Fear and really was a continuation. Whilst reading it, I did get the point that the publisher said in that, "there's some repetitive themes" which made a lot of content hit the cutting room floor. However, as you read this book, you should note that repetition goes hand and hand with Asperger's.

Repetition goes with both good things and bad things. When I was young, and perhaps even now, if there's an enjoyable topic, interest, or activity, I 'll probably want to do it over and over and over and over again. It takes a lot more time for something to go stale for me. With the good, however, also comes the bad and with emotions they go on and on and on again.

I hadn't written this phrase yet of, "everything is now" but that's what I was working for in this chapter. I noticed but didn't understand how, for others, things that were truly were, and things that were for me continued in a state of is. They were ongoing. The event or emotion could be dealt with, but it would continue to exist in the present.

Now, have things changed since I wrote this chapter? They have! I don't know how. I don't know why. But the words I used to describe the fear of being eternally trapped by fear aren't as relevant now. If I had to guess as to the cause, I'd probably say that being extremely busy has helped. When I was writing Finding Kansas, I had few events out of the house. Now, I spend about half the year on the road and have had this schedule since 2010. This isn't to say that being busy alone was the cure. I still think there are undertones of these elements in play.

It was difficult reading this chapter and chapter about fear. I can remember the sense of futility in each day and the agony of the repetitive emotions. I can't wait for my next book to come out as it shows what can come when there's seemingly no hope. It'll be a great contrast from Finding Kansas which was written by a future fearing 22-year-old to my next one, currently entitled Playing in Traffic, which was written by a 40-year-old that went from the lowest of lows to the greatest of heights.

Monday, June 26, 2023


Continuing onward with the Finding Kansas Revisited series of blog posts as I read my book for only the second time. Finding Kansas is available on Amazon and other book retailers.

Wow... just wow. I was 22 when I wrote this chapter and I now understand why Dr. Cameron was enthralled and overwhelmed with what I was writing. Also, to quote a Toby Keith song, "I'm not as good as I once was" as I'm not sure I could write anything to the level of complexity anymore. 

If you want to understand the potential fear a person with Asperger's may have, it's within this chapter. There are so many layers and points in this chapter that just one point is major, but when looked at from all angles and all points, a well-crafted landscape of fear and anxiety can be understood by the reader.

A pain I had and have had many, many times is mentioned in this chapter of "Fear" and that is the struggle of knowing a shortcoming and yet being powerless to quell it. If there was a ceiling fan that was making squeaky noises that was keeping you up, all you'd have to do is hit the light switch to turn it off to end the noise. If only all aspects of life we so black and white like a light switch because I know something as simple as a conversation could alleviate whatever stressor is ongoing, but the inability to speak up often gets in the way and I'm put in a state of stasis being trapped in my own mind knowing the solution is so simple yet the execution of the solution is so impossible.

This is why I started this chapter with FDR's quote of, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Fear and the anxieties of were pounded into my brain time and time again. As I mentioned in the chapter, Emily told me flat out that, "You have Asperger's, no one could ever love you." Perhaps the cruelest thing possible to say to a person, but with that and other bits of evidence, I believed it. What was the motivation to leave the house? If everything attempted equaled heartache, where's the logic in trying? 

Thankfully, I was stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I kept trying, I kept leaving the house, and my story hasn't ended with the chapter of fear.

The last thing I hope people take away from this chapter is the understanding of how deep the anxieties go. During the era I wrote this book I didn't speak much, if at all, about emotions. My answers were brief and almost spoken in a seemingly uncaring way. You might've come to the conclusion that I didn't care about much, but what this chapter does is lift the door that locked away all the emotions that do exist. We may seem cold and callous at times, but shed light within the shadows I try and cast, and you may see a whole world of thought and emotions you may never have known to exist. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023


What impresses me about this chapter is my identifying processing issues/delays without knowing what any of that meant.

When reading Finding Kansas, you really should know that I knew nothing about autism whatsoever except my life experience. I didn't know what "processing" meant. I didn't know what "theory of mind" is, but this chapter is a mix of both.

Since I wrote this chapter, I've presented over a thousand times and have explained what processing issues are, and the misconception so often is that the issue means, "slow", but as this chapter illustrates, that is anything but the truth.

It isn't straightforward, but because one part of my brain is going so fast, it makes other things seem like trying to pinpoint a spot on a wall from a quarter mile away in a dense fog. To illustrate, when someone comes up and introduces themselves, I'm frozen in an infinite number of possibilities as to where the conversation will go which makes a response delayed, and yet, when I'm working at a racetrack, that same speed of thought becomes a gigantic advantage as to my reactions to a situation.

My last takeaway from this chapter is that I'm extremely thankful I knew nothing about autism at this point. This isn't to say that people tried. My dad and Dr. Cameron tried to get me to read Temple Grandin's or Dr. Attwood's books, but I would have none of it. Maybe I'd have experienced hope in a sooner time fashion, but then again my analogy and metaphor skills might not have been put to use as I continued my journey of self-discovery. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023


The statistic out there, by multiple sources, states that the unemployment rate for those with Asperger's is 75-85%! And, for those with a college degree, that rate is actually higher! These statistics rang through my head as I read my own work history in this chapter entitled, "Work", and, as you read the chapter, you may quickly realize the multiple reasons as to why.

That first job I had... the first week could've gone much different. Imagine if Carol the Terrible had actually lived true to her nickname. I hadn't, in the book, written, "whatever happens first always has to happen" but if I would've had a horrible first experience, what would the motivation have been to continue onward? This goes back to what I read the night of my diagnosis and the fail-set mindset that developed in that, if failure is guarantee, what is the logic of trying?

With each job I had, and even the job at the video duplicator that I glossed over, the job always meant more to me than it would appear it did to my coworkers. This, as well, often led to a sense of burnout and bewilderment as to why I cared, and others did not. For a person on the autism spectrum, and the difficulty in seeing things from another person's point of view, this was draining on me. I didn't understand why my coworkers at the videogame store didn't care about the sales figures as I did. 

As I got to the end of the chapter, I could still feel my yearning to have a true job. The chapter was written in 2005 and I had yet to have a full-time job. Only once had I worked a +40-hour week, and with each week that went by it seemed more and more impossible that I ever would have a job that I'd enjoy. A career in racing seemed impossible, and I had yet to ever imagine that the words I had been writing would turn into my career via public speaking.

If you don't know now, I'm the flagger for the NTT INDYCAR Series. All the thoughts, wondering, and dreaming of a job were for naught. Before reaching the Indy 500, I was a public speaker for many years, and still am. I've trained the top levels of the FBI and have even presented to the scariest audience in the world... kindergartners! While there have been immense successes, I still think back to the unemployment rates. It doesn't take much, and there are some out there that can use the weaknesses of those on the autism spectrum to make their lives miserable at the workplace. For those that come across those, the motivation to forge onward can quickly go away. My story, now, is one of success and it was each coworker I had that believed in me, gave me a chance, and gave me a stage to shine that has allowed me to reach the top of my craft. To those who helped, I will forever be grateful and it's the contrast from the words in the chapter of "Work", to the person I am now, that I wish those that just read the book would now understand and see the hope that is possible.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Game Theory

Several nights went by after I wrote the Linda chapter. I made mention to those that I raced against on Xbox that I had written two extremely long chapters. "Why'd you write it?" some would ask. I'd respond, "I'm not sure, but I think I might write more." As with the other nights, when everyone else was asleep, I went on a journey.

I'm amazed in my writing development that my third chapter was Game Theory. In just reading my words from the Linda and Emily, I can't believe the increase in maturity from me. Also, I went from telling a story to telling the reader as to the "why" of things, and every concept I came up after Game Theory must be attributed to Game Theory.

After my diagnosis, I didn't seek out the "what are the signs of autism" after reading the website that stated there was no hope for me. I didn't know the rule that people on the spectrum crave sameness or routine, but in the game theory chapter I identify this trait about me and also note the difference between being in a game with rules, or being in an open world situation where a thousand different rulesets are in play at the same time.

I still crave the world of games to this day. I'm finding it harder and harder to pick up and learn new games as I crave what I know and not what I do not. 

While most of the time I keep the "I don't need to win" mentality, and that it's about the game itself, there have been some games that have breached that and I did have to play to win the game. The pursuit to be #1 in the world was a vicious one, and the most brutal game I went through with this was Bejeweled Blitz Live. I did ascertain that top spot in the world, but at a great cost to my mental stability. It was not healthy, but just because I wrote that I didn't need to win in this chapter wasn't a blanket statement that has held true in all aspects of life.

I reference this chapter weekly, or more, it seems, and it is a big part of my presentation. There are so many metaphors that can arise from games that I love that I came up with the description I did in this chapter, and I hope the readers of my book have a bit of a shock factor as they go from reading the stories of a teenager's ill-fated relationship to immediately going to words of understanding the mechanics of the autism spectrum.

Monday, June 19, 2023


This is a series called "Finding Kansas Revisited" in which I read my book for just the second time and give you a glimpse into why I wrote the chapter and what I think of it now. If you haven't read it yet, Finding Kansas is available on most book sites as a physical book, or a download.  

First, and this is why it's important to read your writing, I am now fully aware that the editor messed up with the name of the sanctioning body in regards to the crash in 1999. One review on Amazon dinged me for the mistake, and I assure you that I know the difference between CART and the IRL.

Now that the unimportant is out of the way, I must say this chapter hurt to read. It didn't hurt to read because of who she was, but to see the issues with living life on the autism spectrum without the diagnosis.

In 1999 I didn't have any social skills, really. I didn't have much practice and kept to myself. To be exposed to the fact that I might, contrary to my belief, be likeable and to, contrary to my belief, enjoy socializing was a stark change to my usual reality. 

The issues that arose from this chapter may have set in motion the Emily chapter. While in the book, the chapter of Emily comes first, while in reality Linda did occur first and I became so afraid of getting a message of, "have a nice life and never try and contact me again." Without my diagnosis and without understanding the dynamics in play, I became afraid to play the social game so I was much like driftwood on the ocean at the mercy of which ways the waves would go. 

My thoughts are the same as the Emily post in that this ordeal was also, simply, being human. Without the pain of this, the eventual growth wouldn't have occurred. If you're wondering if I've ever heard from her, the answer is that I have not. I do wonder what happened with her religion, and as with the Emily chapter in the self0published version, this chapter as well was cut drastically as I probably droned on and on about things that made the story go nowhere.

The Linda chapter was written the night after Emily was. These two events in my life were causing me great strife and as everyone I raced with at night went to sleep, I was left alone, with no distractions, and just my thoughts eating away at me. I didn't realize I was starting my path down a road of self-discovery. I had laid the groundwork for the plot, but why did those two events play out the way they did? It wasn't so much to now write plotline, it was time to write the mechanics at work as I wanted to know, and when I knew I wanted others to know. As I would later write, "if others understand I'll be free, and myabe the world won't hate me as much."

Friday, June 16, 2023


This is a series called "Finding Kansas Revisited" in which I read my book for just the second time and give you a glimpse into why I wrote the chapter and what I think of it now. If you haven't read it yet, Finding Kansas is available on most book sites as a physical book, or a download.  

It's February 2005, and the last online friend I had has gone to sleep after a long evening of playing ToCA Race Driver 2 on the Xbox. I look at the clock, it's past 1AM. My routine at this point in time was either bowling two nights a week or racing people over the Xbox. That was it. I had secluded myself from everything else as the impact of my diagnosis was now rippling into all aspects of my life. I was stagnant and I thought I'd always be. My frustration was growing and growing as hope for any sort of life seemed to be eroding away. What was happening? Why was I alone? What had happened with my relationship? No one knew the story and I couldn't talk about it, so I did something I had never willingly done; I headed to my computer and sat down, opened MS Word, and wrote her name as a title and began.

As I read this chapter, I was astounded to see just how much I've matured as a writer. I also feel a bit sad for the reader in that a lot of this chapter got cut for this book. The original version of my book was self-published, and I may have been a bit long-winded (very long winded actually as I think this chapter was 20 pages single spaced), but I feel it still captured the angst I experienced during this era.

The thing that struck me the most was my inability to move on. The terminality of my words was how I felt, I can remember clear as day, but the thing that I noticed while reading was that I have learned to let go. I have learned to let go. I'm not sure how I did. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but I know I have. 

Another thing that shocked me was the notion that I was trapped and unable to break the cycle. Before I read the chapter, when I would think back, I'd say, "it couldn't have been that bad", but as I kept reading, I realized that it was. For the reader that isn't me, you might come to the conclusion that I was no better than Charlie Brown attempting to kick the football with no success. 

This chapter is the essence of the struggle some may have on the autism spectrum. I didn't know it then, but I was chained by routines. Routines were life, change is bad, and communication was impossible. With Emily, I couldn't communicate my hopes, fears, thoughts, and dreams for the future. Because of this, failure was going to be a guarantee and by adding a new diagnosis of autism, and it was destined to have a nuclear meltdown of a breakup story.

What I didn't understand then, when I wrote it, was that my experience was that of being human. Learning through failures and pain is part of being human, it's something everyone goes through, but it felt, for me, that this was going to define me forever. If failure is a guarantee, why try? For some reason I did keep trying and went on dozens of first dates with few second dates. Then, in 2013, I met my second girlfriend. That relationship lasted about two years, which then it fell apart, and again I became trapped in a repetitive cycle of misery.

Things have changed. The growth and the moving on I thought was impossible happened. I'm engaged now and our wedding is going to be on September 16th. The night I started to write; I'd never have been able to comprehend that I'd someday write that "I'm engaged." 

Would I change anything? I don't think I would, and that includes the dedication of the book that went to her. Why? It was and is the fact that I became an author and speaker because of her. The +90,000 people that have seen me in person and the millions I have reached on the internet would not have happened if not for the pain I went through during that relationship. 

I hope others can learn this fact that things do get better, and the pain of the past can become a strength of the future. While I may still think of time that, "Everything is now", things can and will get better. After all, things got better and come September 16th, I'll be married. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Best Day

This is a series called "Finding Kansas Revisited" in which I read my book for just the second time and give you a glimpse into why I wrote the chapter and what I think of it now. If you haven't read it yet, Finding Kansas is available on most book sites as a physical book, or a download.  

Reading what is the first chapter of the book took me back to two time periods. The first was why I wrote that chapter to begin with. It was 2002 and I was in Mrs. Wilcox's College Comp 101 class at Saint Louis Community College Meramec. The assignment was, quite simply, write about your favorite day. My favorite day was simple, it was my first race, and the assignment required the use of analogies and such, which is why there's some unnecessary and forced figures of speech, but Mrs. Wilcox really enjoyed the writing, but I didn't think much of it as it came easy to me. Side note: I have always wondered if Mrs. Wilcox ever knew that I wrote a book, or went on to become a public speaker?

The chapter also brought me back to the time period where I wanted to be a race car driver. As I said then, "That's plan A for my life. There is no plan B." It was that black and white. There were no alternative thoughts. It was all I knew, and what I thought I'd always know.

In an interview, my dad said that the cruelest thing he ever did was tell me I'd win the Indianapolis 500, but I disagree. Only a few select few ever achieve that level of racing immortality, but at that race, and in the subsequent cars I drove, I showed an extreme level of natural and raw talent. While stating plainly that I would win might be seen as grandiose, it was the fuel that kept me going through life. 

The following years would be difficult for me. The year of my first race I was being homeschooled, but I'd eventually go back and the social difficulties would encroach on every aspect of my life... except racing. It was the constant and it was the driving force. I shudder to think what my life would've been like if I didn't have a finish line to strive for. I've wondered if the thought of seemingly unobtainable goals is a good thing, but without a dream, what is there? 

While I didn't end up winning the Indy 500, I think I've done one better in my life. I'm only the eighth starter (aka flag man) for the race. I'm not sure if my dad could've envisioned just exactly how my life would play out from that day of my first race in 1995, but having the seemingly impossible life goal of winning the race turned into achieving a more impossible goal I might never have had if I had ever been in the race. And because of all that, my story has made it to many different media outlets which has raised my voice on what is possible for those that are on the autism spectrum.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

The Foreword

I wanted to get several chapters read yesterday, but all forward progress was stopped when I read the foreword written by Dr. Mark Cameron. 

In my writing journey, the person that first read my material was Dr. Cameron. The weekly visits to him were something that I had pushed out of my mind, but reading his words about my work brought back the stories from my weekly Monday visits. 

It was weird for me, yet it was the fuel that kept me going. At first, writing was a means to not have to speak during an appointment, but as the weeks went on, and he used such extreme adjectives to describe my work, I became a bit perplexed that made my writings so unique. 

Dr. Cameron saw my work at the level of authors I had never heard of, but as I looked them up and saw their distinguished accolades, I became confused. Who was I to be compared like that? Writing was easy, somehow, so how could my work be good? 

I had never read the foreword until yesterday, but reading it made me excited for my next book to come out. The next one won’t be as philosophical, but I hope there’s the same level of excitement and praise for my continuing works. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Finding Kansas Revisited 2.0

I don't know why I'm doing this. I'm about to embark on a journey that I've only done once. This journey is to revisit a younger version of myself frozen in time, in print, and a person I've only visited once. You see, I don't read what I write, except one time in 2015 when I decided to read my book and blog about it. It's been over eight years since that project and with all the places I've been, people I've met, and achievements I'd had, I'm wondering what my younger self would think. 

It's not as easy as it once was to remember what my life was like before my diagnosis. I'm now aged 40, and was diagnosed at 20, so I'm about to cross over to knowing I was on the spectrum more than not. It was a confusing time, however, as my diagnosis didn't go as it should. My doctor didn't know what he just diagnosed me with, as he was just looking at the assessment that said I had Asperger's, and he told me, "Yeah, I don't know what this is, but you have Aspeger's. So, I don't really know what to say... good luck?" 

I didn't know what it was either, so I looked it up on the all-knowing internet, and the first thing I read stated that, "Those with Asperger's will never have a job, never have friends, and will never be happy." This read like a lifelong prison sentence with no escape, no joy, and a life filled with guaranteed misery. With failure seen as a guarantee, things in my life unraveled at a fever pitch. Meanwhile, all the goals I had in life were also disintegrating in a fantastic heap of a wreck. I didn't know what to do, and I certainly had no idea how to say what was going on inside.

Then, right before midnight of February 8th, 2005 I had had enough. I don’t know if you’ve ever been pressed to a point of such internal strife that existing hurts and you’ve got all these emotions but no means to express yourself. I was still reeling from breaking up with my girlfriend on Christmas via text message. I mean, who does that? How could I express what had happened and why? How could I explain myself? How could I make it so that the world wouldn’t hate me as much?

I was playing Project Gotham Racing 2 and the song “You Don’t Mean Anything to Me” by Simple Plan played and something happened; I felt this newfound motivation to explain myself and I looked over my should to my computer and I inched over and opened up Microsoft Word. My hands trembled as I looked at the screen and a blank page. Where could I begin? What would I say? I started simply by putting my girlfriend’s name as the title and I went from there. Since then, every chapter and blog post has been written with the same process and I start with the chapter, and I work from there. So here now, is Finding Kansas: Revisited. Please note that, the first chapter in my book was not the Emily chapter but rather a piece I wrote from my college comp 101 class which was a great lead into the potential I had and the strife I was in.

So, in the coming weeks, I invite you to take this journey with me as I revisit the time, the places, the words, and the concepts of Finding Kansas. If you've read the book, this might give you more of the story, and if you haven't read it yet, it is available on Amazon. I'm aiming for a chapter a day, but the hectic race season schedule might delay posts by a day or two. Also, if there's a timely story that occurs, I'll break the Revisited project for a day to share the day's events. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Autism and the Arrival Fallacy


The sun came up yesterday over the track outside of Salt Lake City. The last time I had been to this track was in 2019 and I remember thinking back then, “if only I had the chance to make it to INDYCAR, yes, if I made it then I’d be okay. That would be happiness. Don’t get me wrong, making it to INDYCAR was a fulfillment of a lifelong dream. There was a gigantic hole in my logic and one that I think can plague some individuals on the autism spectrum. It’s called the arrival fallacy. 

The arrival fallacy is the notion that a person thinks that, once they reach a target or goal, that then and only then they’ll achieve happiness. As goals are met, the goal posts are moved further, and the chasing of that elusive happiness continues at a frantic pace. 

Anyone can fall under the trap of the arrival fallacy, but I think it’s worse for those on the autism spectrum. This applies to me, but growing up I thought everyone else was perfect. I was perplexed how everyone else could socialize so easily, how did they make friends so easily? Was it because of the tasks that other could do that I couldn’t? If I were able, then that would mean I would be able to be happy, right?

It gets ingrained early. If I could do X then finally happiness would be ascertained. Looking into the fog of the future of achievements made the present nonexistent. Happiness in the moment wasn’t because happiness remained elusive in the goals of the future. Because of this, there was no satisfaction in the skills learned in the moment. There was no ability to realize that I was growing, I was learning, and yes, friendships were being made, but I remained transfixed to the next goal.

I don’t have an answer on this. I can’t tell you how to make this go away. The purpose of this blog is to tell you about this arrival fallacy concept I learned about last week and how apt it is. Before a person can work on something, they must first identify it and I’ve identified a big problem in my life. I’m sure many chapters of Finding Kansas are rooted in this. If I made it in racing… I’d those relationships worked out… and the biggest, “if only I weren’t on the autism spectrum.” 

It’s taken many years, but I now wouldn’t change a single thing about my path. I’m happy. I may fall back and stare into the fog of the next goal and think that is the way to happiness, but a day like today, working at this track in Salt Lake City, I wish I could go back and tell my 2019 self that happiness, for me, is working in the moment and reaching a destination, while extremely cool, isn’t going to tip the happiness scales. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Greatest Wave Ever

“Standby starter” were the words I heard over the headset I was wearing. The crowd’s frantic cheers were crescendoing into a constant roar that rivaled the angriest of waves crashing onto a shore. This moment was everything a storybook was written about, this was a one-lap shootout for the 107th Indianapolis 500. And then, I heard the words, “Green, green, green!” and I unleashed the flags.

There are moments in life that transcend everything experienced up to that point and when they’re done, they’re hard to remember if it actually happened at all. This, for me, was what this year’s Indy 500 was like. 

When I was young, I loved practicing waving two flags. The natural choice was two checkereds, but I didn’t have two checkered flags of the same size, so my go to double flag wave was a green and white. There had been some NASCAR races I watched that had the green and white flags together which meant the race was restarting and it was the last lap… how exciting! I’d practice this combination of flags, and got rather good as a child, and each time I’d wave those two flags I’d try and imagine what it would feel like to do this at a real track. 

At the 500 this year, as the field rolled out of the pits coming to green, and I held a rolled up green flag indicating green at the line, NBC announcer Townsend Bell made the comment, “I don’t know if the flagger has ever waved green and white together.” Maybe he meant at the 500, but working the lower ranks of racing saw many green and whites together. Working the USAC.25 series, as exciting as a green and white was, it was something that I feared. That series is for kids 5-16 and give them a one-lap shootout and 9 times out of 10, there will be multiple one-lap shootouts because yellow flag laps don’t count in that series, so while Townsend wondered if I ever had waved a single green and white, there had been times that there would’ve been maybe five attempts to get that single lap in cleanly. 

The pace picked up and my green flag was flying over my head. The cheers from the crowd somehow got louder and louder to the point I was glad I had a headset on not for the cars but for the crowd. I still couldn’t see the cars, and my white flag remained pointed towards turn four. The 500 had never seen anything like this, and to play the small part I was playing in the scene unfolding was an honor that I had worked for my entire life, and the only thing I can describe as pure joy extended to every finger and toe in my body.

One of the hallmarks of autism is difficulty communicating. Words often fail me when speaking, and if I’m trying to start a conversation, I’m often left silent as I try to find a way to begin. It’s aggravating, it’s annoying, and many times I’m left extremely sad. From a young child though, to now, I always have loved the ability to communicate through flags. It can be excitement, it can be to warn, or at times it can be to chide, but at this moment, as Marcus Ericsson led Josef Newgarden on to the straight, I was communicating the most exciting moment I could remember at the 500 as well as showing mMy lifelong passion for the sport I love.

As the leaders got to the start of the pit attenuator, my pointed white slowly got displayed, and seamlessly I went from a single wave to a double wave. In all my years of practice, I had never done a wave like this, who could’ve imagined such an event, but as the single flag morphed into a flurry of two flags (video HERE), I experienced an elation that I cannot describe outside of saying that everything in life ceased except those flags, and the cars coming at me.

So often, when speaking about the autism spectrum, we look at the difficulties. Yes, there can be a lot, but what is often overlooked are the joys that can exist within the spectrum. My decades of working at race tracks have been joy filled. I found a voice through flags and that voice has brought me a sense of worth that’s flowed outward to other facets of my life. I doubt I’d be a public speaker without my work with flags. However, the joy, elation, and sense of euphoric ecstasy experienced as the field flashed by to start the final lap was a moment that will live with me for as long as I live. It was my greatest wave of flags in my life, and the excitement I always imagined waving those two flags as child was much more than I ever could’ve imagined.

Photo by Walter Kuhn, IMS

Monday, June 5, 2023


On Friday, I had a television interview in Detroit (see it here) and I felt I messed it up. When I explained ASD, what the acronym is, I froze when I got to the D. My brain didn’t know what to say as I forgot what it was. My brain panicked and eventually I said, “diagnosis.” 

For the rest of the day I was beating myself up. How could I forget something so simple? It’s my diagnosis, I know what it stands for, but for some reason I couldn’t remember that the D was disorder. 

It ate at me. I couldn’t fathom how I made such an elementary mistake. Then, I understood what happened. It was a mistake, but as I thought about the question, and the amazing place I was standing on pit road of the new track in Detroit, and I had been just five days removed from flagging the 107th Indianapolis 500, so how, in that moment, could I use the word disorder?

When I’m in my Kansas, things are more normal. My strengths in my Kansas are strong, and standing in my place I feel most at ease, makes it difficult to think of it as a disorder in that environment. 

I’ve never been had issue with a word, but in that moment I struggled with the word. Granted, prior to the interview I had the hardest of times socially, trying to find which station my interview was with, and the autism in me was hindering my ability to do what was needed. Don’t get me wrong, it is a disorder. Things that others find easy can be extremely difficult, but when things go right, and the environment is perfect, I’ll forget the disorder that exists.