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What’s in my Water

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Speak Your Mind, Dude

Often I find myself in a pickle after saying things that don’t win over others. There was a time when I’d feel icky about it but not so much anymore. I’m a straight-shooter who tells it like it is. It’s not my problem if others don’t like when I speak the unadulterated truth. I was once offended by a comment my mother made regarding Donald Trump sounding like someone with Asperger’s during the 2016 campaign. Now I knew what she meant. She inferred Covfefe blurts out his mind and doesn’t use his filter. That’s the only trait Trump and I have in common other than we’re cisgendered white males with arms and legs. I’m not a pathological liar. Everything I say is true to the best of my knowledge. I tell white lies and half-truths only when needed. I’m more articulate than 45 on my worst day than he’ll ever be on his best day. I’m more modest, and I don’t need to showcase my intellect and whatnot so others will stroke my ego. I’m secure enough in who I am that I don’t need to be the center of attention.

Ignore the Naysayers

What others think I stopped caring after moving to Thailand in spring 2015. Thus, I ascertained the less you worry how others perceive you, the higher their opinions of you. The whole process is counterintuitive. Around the time I moved to District One in Ho Chi Minh City during fall 2017, it came around full swing. There will always be someone offended in today’s society where everything must be politically correct and half the population is glued to social media. If I said the sky is blue, someone will get their undies in a wad because I didn’t confirm it’s black at night or gray on a cloudy day. Somebody will fly off the handle if I asserted apples are red and overlooked that some are green while others are gold. Another snowflake will blow a gasket if I declared glass is clear and ignored the that some is frosted while other panes are stained. Nothing I do or say will ever suffice with the naysayers. I’ve trained myself to either ignore them or shut them down. I’ll do and say whatever I want whenever, wherever, and however I want with or without their permission. I don’t owe those people anything. It’s not my responsibility to ensure their happiness. If they’re displeased with their lives, that’s on them. My freedom doesn’t end where their feelings begin, and emotions don’t outweigh tangible facts. The only satisfactions for which I’m culpable outside my own, and that of my family and friends are my clients’. I’m only a teacher at work. You can’t save everybody. Gaining 100-percent approval is like nailing jello to a wall. That’s one reason I no longer live in the Far East. Everything there is about keeping face which isn’t part of my compendium. To their credit, one thing I do like about living overseas is I don’t have to watch what I say day in night worrying about who I’ll offend. The locals in lesser developed countries have bigger and more important things to worry about like poverty and corruption.

Emotional Hemophiliacs

My blog arguing against circumcision didn’t win everyone’s blessing, and I don’t care. I was accused of misogyny and anti-Semitism. Just because I’m an intactivist and anti-Zionist doesn’t make me a bigot. Most critics will only hear what they want to, anyway. Those folks I call ’emotional hemophiliacs’ courtesy of my good friend, Kallum. I knew what they were doing though they agreed with me. Their intentions were good but short-sighted. They were ignoring the original theme and cherry-picking what I said. They then tried using those talking points as ammunition to gloss over the issue and discredit me. I’m not going to apologize. If they don’t like it, they can go stuff themselves. I’ll admit sometimes I stir things up to invoke emotional responses and get my point across. One part I had to edit out is when I said maybe we should legalize date rape if we continue male infant circumcision. Why not? After all, date rape victims don’t remember the event half the time. Therefore, so it must be okay. That’s what roofies do. They cause memory loss and disorientation making it harder for victims to remember the events and/or identify the perpetrators. Before anyone goes ballistic and starts salivating like Pavlov’s dog, I’m not a rape apologist. I’m just making a point. I stand by my original statement that circumcision is child sexual abuse and should be taken seriously like rape or incest. I trust rabbis and imams to make decisions about our genitals as much as I do CEO’s governing the country or wife beaters managing women’s shelters. One would hope we all know what happens whenever we allow religious leaders near little boy’s knobs after those scandals with the Catholic church.

See Through the Smokescreen

If I am a racist, I must be one self-loathing one after living in Southeast Asia and Latin America the past four years. I don’t suppose it would help if I explained 99-percent of all locals in Thailand and Vietnam where I lived have yellow skin or the vast majority of folks in Mexico where I am now have brown epidermises. The same applies to my students whom I teach online in East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. This is why I’m not as liberal as I once was when I lived in Austin. Every third person there is a blue-blooded SJW with a savior complex and an Oxford dictionary handy. I also lived in San Francisco for two years, so this ain’t my first rodeo. Those bleeding-hearted elitists who act like martyrs are the same folks who gentrified East Austin where the black and Hispanic people once lived. They claimed they were making it trendy, but I know better. Has anyone noticed none of those Hollywood heavyweights during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 bothered to march with the crowd except Anne Hathaway? Gee, I wonder why! Could it be because they were part of the one-percent? Every time Bono, Sean Penn, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, and company fly around on their private planes to sprinkle their fairy dust all over some social cause, they pollute the environment. Harrison Ford – the highest paid actor of all time – had the audacity to get on stage and lecture people about climate change. Just what I need is some washed out celebrity who spent his entire youth leaving the average carbon footprint of a thousand people combined telling me how to live. I’ll take them seriously when they cut down on consumption and live more modest lifestyles themselves.

Invasion of the Bagel Chompers

This is one of the main reasons Donald Trump got elected. People get fed up with the far left and their self-righteousness. They didn’t appreciate East Coast highbrows I call ‘bagel chompers’ riding around on their high horses talking down to working class people referring to them as ‘undesirables.’ Don’t get me wrong! I voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary and the general election. I did the same for Barack Obama in 2008 and picked him again in 2012. But just because I’ve voted straight-ticket Democrat in every midterm and general election since 2004 doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to what’s going on. People went with Trump because he gave them a sales pitch and championed himself as an outsider. We don’t always make the most rational decisions when we’re angry and frustrated. Everyone like yours truly felt locked out from that American dream they were promised. You can dismiss this as another rant by an angry white male, but the facts speak for themselves. I’m planning to move to South America should Trump get reelected in 2020. I have one of the most recession-proof jobs there is. There will always be a demand for English teachers no matter the status of the economy. My work is mobile meaning I can live anywhere. English will be the international language for the foreseeable future. My career change upon which I’m working is medical coding – another recession-proof field where I can still be a digital nomad. People will always get sick and need to go to the hospital no matter what the economic circumstance is. It won’t be me who pays the bill no pun intended; I can promise you that much.

Please Excuse My Dear Honesty

My friend Diane once asked me “What’s in your water, Dustin?” I’m not the same SJW full of spunk and vinegar she knew when we met almost a decade ago. I’m not that guy anymore. What’s happened is I’ve caught onto all the race baiters’, bra burning fembots’, and PC thought police’s ploys. My rose-colored glasses came off after I moved abroad. You see, I know how it works now though I couldn’t articulate it for the longest time. The right-wing media uses fear to gather their base. The liberals’ weapons of choice are shame and guilt. The conservatives hide under the veil of religious fervor while the lefties charade under the auspices of political correctness. I know exactly why Germany bailed out Italy, Greece, and Spain during the banking crisis of 2018 and brought in millions of Syrian refugees. The Germans still feel guilty about the holocaust. They’ve spent the past 75 years doing damage control to assuage their remorse. I remember a German lady named Kerstin on Facebook and I getting into a heated argument about Israel. I’m supposed to feel so horrible whenever I voice how the Jews are doing the same thing to the Palestinians that the Germans once did during the holocaust. Oh, but that’s different because they’re God’s chosen people! I’m supposed to cry them a river and call them a wambulance because of something in the past that can’t be changed. Nothing they do should ever be questioned or debated including circumcision. Anyone who disagrees with the loony lefties gets branded with every other buzzword with the suffix “-ist.” I’m sorry, Kerstin! You’ll have to forgive my honesty. It gets the best of me every time.

Natural and Unnatural Predators

Malcolm X used an excellent analogy when he described the loony lefties and tighty righties as I call them. The alt-right are like wolves whilst the far left are like foxes. Wolves are aggressive animals that hunt in packs. They’ll ravage anything that gets in their way. The fox is sly and sneaky. It has different mannerisms than the wolf, but it shares the same appetite. They both want lamp chops for dinner. Both are predators though the fox masquerades as its prey’s best friend. Either side wants to silence the opposition and censor what we think and say. But it’s only thought control whenever the other side does it. What’s happened is I’ve figured out how to trap foxes. I can spot them a mile away now. It’s not half as difficult as hunting a wolf. I know Bernie Sanders is a fox. What he says makes perfect sense to the lefties. I agree with most of his philosophies. However, I blame half this debacle on him. Bernie Sanders is not presidential material. He may be a smooth talker, but 90-percent of what Bernie proposes would never pass through Congress. That man has been on the hill over thirty years and hasn’t done jack. He even voted against the Brady Bill.

Make Your Stand

The fox, like Bernie Sanders, doesn’t play well with others. The wolf is a more dangerous predator than the fox. Everyone knows a fox is no match for a wolf. The latter will rip the former to shreds in no time. This is what concerns me about the next election. I fear the liberals will be too busy trying to hang each other like they did Al Franken and the nominee will be too weak to stand against Trump. I don’t know if anyone is aware, but he’ll be harder to defeat now that Trump is an incumbent. I find it interesting how Bernie Sanders was once an independent but run as a Democrat whenever it was convenient. Then his followers gut butthurt and opted to stay home on Election Night or vote third party out of spite thereby giving us the worst president in history. All of this because Bernie couldn’t put his ego aside, drop out of the race, and endorse Hillary. He could have been a hero and saved the day, but everything was all about him. Bernie Sanders to me is another bagel chomper who pretends he’s some messiah when he’s nothing more than a liability. The loony lefties may not be our mortal enemies, but they’re sure as hell not the heroes they claim to be. Do you really trust someone like that to protect us against a threat like Vladimir Putin? They’ll tuck tail and run for the hills like the fox always does whenever it’s met its match. To to answer your question, Diane, that’s what’s in my water.

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anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, democrats, depression, education, health, ideas, living abroad, philosophy, politics, psychology, republicans, travel

When Opposites Attract

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Redder is Better than Ever

Not long ago, a women at the l corner store asked me in Spanish if I like the color red. The shorts, sneakers, and hooded sweatshirts I I was a donning were all red. There are myriad reasons I prefer it one of which I gave her. My Spanish isn’t that great so I used Google Translate on my smartphone. I could have told her I like red because it’s a conspicuous color that enhances one’s appeal towards the opposite sex, but I opted not to. I may have elucidated I’m tired of being ignored feeling invisible, and red is the most likely color to make people notice you. I didn’t do that, nor did I expound how it makes me feel bold and confident. The answer I gave is because I hate the military, and red is the exact opposite color of green which is what the Army uses. I elaborated how I like orange because it’s the antithesis of blue by which the Navy and Coast Guard are represented.

Their Promises are Lies

This became my modus operandi after being diagosed with PTSD and having my claim for such shot down by the VA in the spring of 2015. My representative whose name I won’t mention gave me false hope the same way the Coast Guard did. He’d blow smoke telling me my story was convincing and cajoled me into doing questionable things to make it work. What he asked me to do was extralegal for a lack of better words, but I don’t care to get into that. The point is my advocate was no better than the armed forces and the military academy I attended in that he did nothing more than overpromise. Those things for which I hoped caused me nothing but heartache. The VA I suspect denied the claim because my circumstance wasn’t combat-related. Their rationale is it must not be real if if you weren’t pounding sand in Iraq or Afghanistan and didn’t see anyone blown to smithereens.

No Brotherly Love from Philadelphia

My dad sent me to Valley Forge Military Academy outside Philadelphia when I was 15. This was long before I was diagnosed with Asperger’s. My mother I was unable to live with at the time for personal reasons. My father was in denial there was anything amiss about his son. He’ll never admit he made a mistake placing me in the public school system in Long Island where there was relentless bullying. We checked out a school in Vermont for troubled kids during our quest. That’s where my father should have sent met, but he decided in his that wasn’t the right place for me. Valley Forge likes to champion itself as a prestigious institute. I’m sure my dad would say the same. Apparently, I was supposed to be impressed because the movie Taps was filmed there, and Norman Schwartzkopf was an alumnus. Knowing my dad, I surmise the real reason he sent me there was because he didn’t want to deal with me anymore. We would often remind me of the tuition because that made it easier on his conscience.

Oh No! Not Again, Please!

My tactical officers and the other personnel would browbeat me each day. Yes, I know what some readers are already thinking. Welcome to the military! Stop typing and listen! Some get it worse than others. No matter how hard I tried fitting in, nothing I did or said was good enough. Nobody spelled it out, but the adults in a roundabout way told me I was a slacker who could never do anything right. There was blatant favoritism everywhere I looked. The powers that be and my own father would look the other way when I was bullied by my peers as if I deserved it. They liked to blame the victim to alleviate any culpability. Their whole objective was to pound a square peg into a round hole. I asked to withdraw the first spring I was there, but my father refused. Not only that, but he registered me for a second year to dump his responsibilities on someone else. I wanted to be expelled, but I had nowhere to turn. At least that’s what I thought. I even pondered asking to be barred from re-enrollment, but the school counselor suggested that might look bad on my transcript. Eventually, my dad got the message and didn’t sign me up a third year. I even got to move back to Houston to live with my mom.

Nobody is Perfect

Many former cadets like going back there for alumni weekend the first Saturday of May but not me. It took me awhile to get over my bad experiences. I smoked my first joint with my brother’s friend after my return to Texas. None of my former classmates know I burned my yearbooks three years later while I dropped some acid. One of my clearest memories of Valley Forge was when one of the class advisers asked me what medication I was taking. Because I was supposed to respect the officer, I divulged that information though it was none of his business. He asked why I was there in the first place. Many times I’ve rehashed that conversation regarding what I would tell him now. My response would be, “Because my father wants what everyone else in this room does – a perfect child who never makes mistakes or asks questions and always obeys. He wants another cog in a wheel.”

Uncle Sam’s Confused Group

That sums up the military down to a T if you ask me. One of my biggest regrets ever was signing up for the United States Coast Guard. I was more or less forced to join when my mother threatened to cut me off otherwise. Her boss’s son was in the Coast Guard then. Therefore, my mom became an expert in the armed forces and deemed that wise. I was flunking out of college, so I understand her rationale. The part most disconcerting was when she instructed me to lie about having Asperger’s to the recruiter. She would justify it saying there were probably other people with undiagnosed Asperger’s in the military as this had reached the mainstream just three years prior. Both my parents knew an awful lot about military life for people who never served. My dad weaseled his way out of the Air Force during the Vietnam War. My mother, whose father was in the Army during World War II, thought it’d be good for me while she moved to Boston to start over. No matter how much I loathed my it and told her that, Mom’s response was “Just suck it up and deal with it.” Then she’d turn around and toot her trumpet to the whole neighborhood how fabulous she was because her son was serving his country after 9/11.

Not this Way, That Way

I don’t know if Mom regrets talking me into it, and I don’t care. She likes to remind me that I signed the papers. The Coast Guard and others would do the same thing. The military always finds a way to justify the means while railroading people. It wouldn’t do me any good to explain it to a veteran or a lifer. All they’ll do is guilt shame me stating there are troops coming home in coffins missing limbs or compare me to medal of honor recipients. Now I’m a disgrace to my country because I couldn’t hack it. Originally, I wanted to join the Marine Corps, but one of my professors talked me out of that. He made the right call. Mom tried to convince me the Air Force was a bad idea because I had Asperger’s, yet somehow the Coast Guard was better. The real reason I did the latter was because I knew America was going to war the moment George W. Bush stole the 2000 election. I was convinced even before 9/11. I saw that coming a mile away. I know the Bush family and the Republican Party not personally but I’m quite familiar with their politics. Most people think the Coast Guard has the easiest job because it’s the least offensive branch of the military. Little do the know, it’s also is the most active and has the highest suicide rate. They trained us for things that will happen not ones that might unlike the others.

Bon Voyage, Northland!

The eleven months I spent on the USCGC Northland were the longest of my entire life. Every waking moment, I was bullied and ostracized by my peers. My superiors gave me the most work and used me as the go-to guy while others got away with murder. They’d tell everyone I was stupid, that I was gay, that I was incompetent, and the whole shebang. Nothing I did or said would ever make them accept me or dissolve that black cloud over my head. The Coast Guard would do the same thing Valley Forge would which is gaslighting. Not only would they try to make me question my own sanity thinking I was going crazy. They tried to assure me there was nowhere else to go. A lot of abusive partners do this in marriages. I saw Gene Simmons do that to Shannon Tweed. He tried persuading her there was no other way but his, and her life would fall to pieces if she left him. If I couldn’t make it in the Coast Guard or Valley Forge, I would be a failure the rest of my life.

All Hat and No Cattle

The military likes to showcase itself as the only option the same way each organized religion claims to be the only path into heaven. It’s a form of mind control to subjugate people. Eventually, I faked my way out of the Coast Guard when they pulled the rug out from me the last time. My mother assisted me in that process. I don’t know if she did that to make amends for making me lie to get in three years prior, but she told me she was impressed in that I lasted longer than she thought I would. They thought they could break my will and force me out in under a year, but it took them three. That’s why I say everyone who’s bet against me in my life has lost (including the Coast Guard.) My second year at Valley Forge, my tactical officer whom I’ll call Colonel Briggs tried to promise me I wouldn’t last until the rest of the year. If only he hadn’t left in January, I would have loved to have rubbed it in his face that I lasted that long.

Dynasty is Falling

Because of my past circumstances, I despise every sports team from the East Coast and the South as that’s where the majority of my provocateurs and their favorite clubs were from. I loathe every franchise from Boston in particular because many were from that area. Watching the New England Patriots win a Super Bowl would only set me off. That’s why I love reminding Pats fans of that season they went undefeated and lost the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. That’s the only time I recall cheering for the latter. Sometimes I’d remind them of Spygate just to heckle them further. I live for the day Tom Brady retires and the Patriots’ dynasty falls. I enjoyed every waking moment when my Houston Astros eliminated the Boston Red Sox from the 2017 MLB playoffs before winning their first World Series title ever. Seeing the ‘Stros knock out the Yankees from the ALCS was even more fun.

Anywhere But There

After living in Long Island where I was an outcast and serving in the military, the only good memory I have of New York is the thin-crust pizza. That accent makes my skin crawl every time I hear it because my mind subconsciously associates it with vitriol and hostility. The same is true about Boston, Philadelphia, and the rest of those locales. The only time I cheered for the Red Sox was in 2013 after the Boston Marathon Bombing. I showed what little empathy I had left for that place because innocent people were killed. My experiences in military school and the Coast Guard turned me off from living anywhere on the entire eastern seaboard or the South again permanently. I can promise you this much. I’ll never live anywhere east of the Mississippi River should I ever return to the United States. That’s a big if whether or not I come back, and that won’t be until long after Trumpelstiltskin leaves the White House. They didn’t push me forward, but they damn sure drove me away. I’m surprised Valley Forge never had a class action civil lawsuit filed against them from the hazing. When I reconnected with some of old classmates a few years ago, they seemed so appalled hearing that from me like they didn’t see it coming.

Good Morning, Vietnam! Good Night, Saigon!

Without further ado, I’ve never stepped foot near another boat or ship since my departure from the Coast Guard in 2004. The only military base I’ve gone near was Camp Mabry in Austin where I did a one-day temp job. That last part is inevitable as it’s adjacent to a major freeway. Were it not for its proximity to Mopac, I wouldn’t be sharing that. Since the VA, Coast Guard, and Valley Forge made it clear I was just a number to them, army green and navy blue are just colors to me. If only those folks knew I didn’t become a failure or bum like they told me I’d be. The past four years I’ve been living abroad killing it as an ESL teacher. Two of them I spent in Vietnam, the one country Bone Spurs, Ted Nugent, Mitt Romney, and those other draft-dodging cowards were too chicken shit to go near. I wonder how some of my former commanding officers would respond if they knew I visited the War Remnants Museum and the Imperial Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and took pictures.

Remember, Remember in November

In every election mid-term and general since 2004, I’ve voted straight-ticket Democrat. That’s not just out of spite towards the military. My politics have always leaned towards the left. I’m not a one-issue voter to set the record straight. That the vast majority of military personnel are Republicans is happenstance. It’s too bad half of them don’t realize the GOP is using them as cannon fodder to make the fat boys fatter. I refuse to be anyone’s puppet. Living in Southern Mexico makes it more titillating knowing I’m on the other side of Trump’s proposed law. I hope and pray whoever wins the Democratic ticket in 2020 wallops Covfefe in the next election, slashes the defense budget in half, and pours it into education, healthcare, infrastructure, housing, green energy, and scientific research.

My True Colors Shining Through

Now the readers know why I like red and orange. They’re the exact opposite of army green and navy blue. Red is the color of communism while orange represents Agent Orange from the Vietnam War. Red is the color of love which heals all wounds. I start with my right foot in lieu of my left foot whenever I walk. That’s contrary to how they made us march in boot camp and military school. I hang my clothes facing to the right whenever instead of the left like they made us do in boot camp. I even do it in the opposite order. I still tie my shoes together, but I place them in my wardrobe with the toes facing in and the heels facing out rather than the other way around.

Less Than A Hairy Situation

I would have loved to grow my hair long, but I’m going bald. I shave my head because I don’t have the money yet to get a hair transplant. One day I’ll have it done in Turkey, a predominately Muslim country. Islamophobia was rampant in the military like toxic masculinity the latter of which being the genesis of my affinity towards purple. Because I’m certain many of them consider purple feminine is all the reason more for me to wear it. My thinning hair didn’t stop me from growing a beard I incorporated into my repertoire after moving abroad. I know facial hair is verboten in the military. That, my thinning hair, and the fact that it makes me look more Islamic are the catalysts behind that. To put it bluntly, I do as many things as I can the exact opposite of how the military wants. Life is too short to hold grudges, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I want at the expense of my former oppressors.

anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, health, ideas, living abroad, philosophy, psychology, travel

Asperger’s: A Cinderella Story

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Photo by Spencer Selover on Pexels.com

When Do We Have Our Voice?

Everywhere I look, people have uncertainties about autism. They want to know what it’s like having Asperger’s. I’m convinced most are uneducated or by default deem someone on the spectrum retarded or mentally incompetent. Those that are educated know we’re just as capable of living successful lives like neurotypicals. The problem is we face discrimination like women, homosexuals, and minorities. We don’t have an advocacy group like third wave feminists, the NAACP, and GLAD. Nobody comes to create a media uproar when one of us gets in a pickle. I keep wondering when the day will come when Bono, Sean Penn, or some other celebrity with a savior complex will come sprinkle his/her fairy dust all over our cause, pull the thesaurus and label it with a new ten-dollar word, and hashtag it all over social media. I’ve lost count of the jobs I’ve been fired from for not fitting in or from those who’ve second-guessed my abilities the moment the cat was out of the bag. Sadly, we live in a society where the man with the most charisma and money is valued over he who has the most integrity or intelligence. Even in Western cultures, the latter two are underappreciated, undervalued, and cast to the wayside. America, like many Asian cultures, encourages assimilation over individuality.

Occupational Hazards

I’ve stated that the media has pigeonholed us as socially handicapped, criminal sociopaths, or a liability of some kind. Once I ran into trouble at work when an African-American co-worker compared me to Rain Man, mental patients, math geniuses, and computer wizards. He didn’t appreciate my retort when I correlated him with deadbeat dads, petty criminals, gang members, drug addicts, rappers, and professional athletes. I was making a point. That cost me my job, but that was no big loss at the end of the day. It was another run-of-the-mill position that paid menial wages and one for which I was overeducated. This occurred a year after I was let go from a security gig for which I was getting high accolades and non-stop praise from my supervisor yet terminated the moment it was revealed I had Asperger’s. My employer there had the nerve to ask me for documented proof. That was none of his business. Their excuse for sacking me was that I was backing up the golf cart while the national anthem was playing, but I knew that was hogwash. The dilemma I faced was Texas is a right-to-work state. They were covering their tails. What employer would ever admit to discrimination?

Maybe, Maybe Not

I’ve come to the point now that I don’t tell anyone if I can. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t deal. One of the main reasons I no longer live in Asia is because of how they perceive mental health. Those cultures don’t acknowledge it. They act like it doesn’t exist or it’s some kind of impediment. I remember applying for teaching jobs in Taiwan and South Korea for which I was insanely qualified. They started prying into my medical history. I knew I was a suitable candidate, and I didn’t appreciate the way they tried gaslighting me. The last one I told him where to stick it. The reason I enjoy working online now is because I can live wherever I want and not have to deal with any office politics. I don’t have to worry about anyone undermining my credentials, office politics, or any workplace bullies trying to sabotage my livelihood because they feel threatened or intimidated by me or want someone to knock down to feel better about themselves. I’ve had that happen to me as well.

Fun With Cynics

The point I’m getting at is I’ve spent my entire life being the underdog. Everyone had their doubts that I could succeed at anything. My own father and two oldest siblings thought I was a man-child with no ambition. They thought my mother was enabling me and holding me down when I lived with her. My other brother was just as guilty but not to the same extent. My sister, my peach of a brother-in-law, and now former Facebook friends would scoff at me moving abroad becoming successful. They were all convinced I would crash and burn just like I did every other job and with AmeriCorps in Chicago. They considered the idea a joke. Once again, I proved them all wrong. I’ll bet none of them are laughing now. In the spring of 2016 before I came back from Thailand, I was ready to rub my sister and her hubby’s noses in it and show them how it feels. Sadly, her beau passed away a week before my return, and then wasn’t the time to exchange blows.

Against All Odds

Unbeknownst to my skeptics, everybody who has bet against me in my life has lost including the United States Coast Guard. They were convinced they could break my will and squeeze me out in under a year. It took over three before I was discharged for unsuitability. By then, I was ready to go after I had the rug pulled out from under me one last time. My mother even said she was impressed because I lasted much longer than she thought I would. Everyone who knows me knows not to underestimate or second guess me because that’s when I become more dangerous. They don’t realize characters like Daredevil and Heisenberg inspired me. They went from being an inexperienced lawyer and underachieving high school teacher to an unstoppable crime fighter and ruthless methamphetamine kingpin. They looked harmless, but they were heavy hitters. To put it bluntly, my entire adult life has been one big Cinderella story, and I’ve overcome many odds. I don’t break barriers; I crush and destroy them. I’ve climbed an entire mountain range to get where I am, and I know how to get back up whenever I fall. So what is it like having Asperger’s? Always having to debunk naysayers and disprove every other stereotype is the most plausible answer I can give the reader.

 

anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, gangs, health, ideas, living abroad, politics, psychology, violence

To Hell with Corporal Punishment

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Paddle me This, Paddle me That

In my last blog, I expressed my disdain regarding an elder gent telling me priests would swat the boys good with a paddle if they acted up in his Catholic school. I lived with my father in Long Island during my formative years. I was a boisterous teen with a troubled life then. We didn’t know I was on the autism spectrum. I remember one time I had a meltdown, and Dad got angry. He shouted at me, “If I ever misbehaved like that, my mother would throw me out the window!” Apparently, I was supposed to be lucky to be alive during the end of the 20th rather than fifty years prior. Dad had a short fuse. It didn’t take much to set him off. I wasn’t alive when he was a teenager, but I surmise his parents weren’t very stable. Spanking and paddling was the norm then. There was no ADHD, Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, or such back in the day. One thing I’ve deduced about Western culture is nothing exists until it’s discovered and given a name or it can’t be kept a secret anymore.

A Veteran’s Tale

The problems we face in modern society didn’t go away by being ignored in the past. That reminds me of my last visit to the VA hospital. Every time I go there, I see at least two old men in wheelchairs or using walkers. It makes me worry about mobility impairments as I get older now that I’m staring down 40. My mother elaborated most people from that generation never visited the doctor until they were half dead. Her father had a heart attack in 1990. Grandpa hadn’t had a physical before then since he went into the Army during World War II. It’s hard not roll my eyes when I hear old folks act dismissively about safety precautions and child psychology. Once upon a time, I was an advocate of corporal punishment. I shared the same opinion as them because I was bullied in school, and I too served in the military. I was convinced bullying would go away if they conducted paddling in front of the whole school Singapore-style. Boy was I naive! You’re about to ascertain why I strongly oppose corporal punishment.

Thai me Up, Thai me Down

The reason this bothers me is because I’m guilty of child abuse myself. My first semester in Thailand, I did something egregious I regret to this day. I was inexperienced at my job because I’d never been in charge of children. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was undertrained. The geniuses who ran the agency crammed information into our heads within a three-day period and dispatched us to our schools. All I knew before then was teaching adults. The rocket scientists at the school where I taught were never around when I needed them, and I was left on an island. I was always the last person to know anything because I was a foreign teacher. In a nutshell, it was baptism by fire. I had a hard time controlling my temper because I’d get impatient like my father would. I had the same standards he, my stepmom, and others from his generation that knew jack about autism in that I expected children to act like adults. I hated teaching grades 7 through 9 because the classes were so unruly.

On Top of the Ball

That wasn’t where I made my mistake. I did something heinous in my 6th grade class. All the boys sat on one side while the girls sat on the other. I had no idea that was a recipe for disaster. There was one boy, the rowdiest of the bunch. He went by Ball. I think he might have had ADHD in hindsight. Every day, Ball was bouncing off the walls. One day towards the end of the semester, I lost it. It was the last class of the day, and the kids were getting squirrelly while I was trying to conduct a game. Neither the headmistress nor the principal were around, so I took matters into my own hands. I told the kids to put their heads down on their desks, and Ball wouldn’t oblige. I went to him and held Ball’s head down while the others complied. He kept trying to bob his head up, but I wouldn’t budge. Ball then ran out of the class and never came back. In Thai culture, you’re not supposed to touch someone’s head because that’s the holiest part of one’s body.

An Irrational Misfortune

The next week something worse unfolded. Once again it was the last class of the day. Ball wouldn’t settle down and stop talking. Finally, I’d had it after all his antics. This had been happening all semester long, and I snapped. The boy had to defecate badly, and I made Ball sit in the corner and hold it in. Other boys tried telling me something on Google Translate on my smartphone. What one boy said in broken English translated to, “Ball shit pain!” I was so mad; I didn’t care how uncomfortable he was. So I said back on my app, “The anus is a voluntary muscle. Now since your classmate obviously can’t his fucking mouth shut, he’ll have to keep his butthole shut.” Ball thought everything was a joke up to that point. Then I turned to him and said on the app, “It’s not so fucking funny now, is it, you little shit?!” Eventually, I let him go as the class ended. At the time, I got sick pleasure, but I feel icky about it now. I did something heinous that cost me my job because I was underprepared and frustrated. I was let go by the agency and got what I deserved. There’s not a day or night that passes where I don’t regret what I did.

Bad Teacher, Bad Parents

Not long after, I landed a gig at an all-girls school in Bangkok. There I blossomed because I was surrounded by other Western teachers who shared ideas and techniques. I also had a great mentor who groomed me into a better teacher. None of these luxuries I had in Northeast Thailand, and I wasn’t inclined to make the same mistakes. Two years ago, I induced other questionable methods. When boys were misbehaving and horseplaying, I would have them come up to the front and do push-ups or yoga poses. This was the only way I knew to curtail bad behavior because that’s how I was dealt with in military school and boot camp. I hated both institutions with a passion and was traumatized, but I knew nothing else until I became more seasoned. I remember being assaulted by a teacher on my 14th birthday while living with Dad. The man should have been sacked. I was too young to understand, but I surmise he was placed on administrative leave because we had a substitute for two months. My father did nothing except blame me implying I instigated it. He then said, “I think teachers have no rights and that sometimes they should spank your little bottom in front of the class.” My mother, a then paralegal, would’ve nailed the guy’s balls to the wall, but that didn’t happen.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Classroom management is the hardest part of the job. There’s no question about that. Finally, I adopted some techniques one of my South African colleagues suggested. No longer did I have the boys do yoga poses and push-ups or sitting together. I had the kids sit boy-girl-boy-girl in each row and switch seats periodically. I’d also use peer pressure and reverse psychology. Each group in which they sat would have points deducted when the kids spoke out of turn or got goofy. I’d have them compete with one another, and the two groups that garnered the most points at the end of each class received awards. It didn’t take long to realize a reward system is more effective than discipline. This is one reason I have an estranged relationship with my father and few good things to say about the military. Nothing I did or said was ever good enough to measure up to their standards. No matter how hard I tried, there was nothing in it for me. I didn’t want my students to remember me the way I do my dad or the Coast Guard, so I put my ego aside and changed my ways.

Big Man on Campus

The worst thing that happened in Vietnam wasn’t as bad. I learned how to govern the class before things got out of hand. There was a 16 or 17-year-old blowhard with raging hormones trying to show off in front of his pals. He kept disrupting my class, and I wouldn’t tolerate it. One reason I learned kids act up is because their English level is low. Another is because it’s an elective class not an academic. It didn’t take long for me to deduce he was a troublemaker, so I confronted him the second week. We had a reading assignment. I had him stand up and said, “Guess who gets to read for the whole class, hotshot!” He didn’t see that coming. The boy kept slipping up and butchering the material. I corrected him in the interim. Other students wanted to volunteer, but I said, “No-no-no-no-no! Your classmate here wants to impress all his buddies. He wants to entertain us. Keep going there, hotrod!” He made an ass of himself after I punctured his ego and brought him down to earth. The boy never misbehaved again. Nobody was harmed then. With my new techniques, I had each class wrapped around my finger by the end of each term.

Violence Begets Violence

And so the lesson endeth here. Reverse psychology and reward systems on their worst day are more conducive than corporal punishment. During that time frame, I read spanking and paddling may work in the short run but cause long-lasting psychological effects like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Unbeknownst to my younger self, my father, and many folks from his generation, violence begets violence. The former is how they join gangs and grow up to be serial killers and criminal sociopaths. One reason I quit teaching in classrooms is because I didn’t like the way TA’s would hit the students when they got rowdy. Basically, you’re showing the kids you have no self-control, and I didn’t want that on my conscience. It takes a real man to admit he was wrong, and I’m ashamed of my actions in Thailand to this day. The aforementioned piece is why I think people should be trained properly towards parenting, mentoring, and teaching children.

aspergers, autism, culture, health, ideas, living abroad, psychology, travel

Eating Routines of an Aspie

The Asian Equation

Myriad things I do as an Aspie are abnormal to the average person. Not all entail my clothing and grooming. Some involve eating. I always consume one thing at a time in a sequential order. Most times I ingest the heavier food followed by the lighter. The first thing I place in my mouth is the meat ensued by a starch or grain. The fruit or vegetables I’ll have last as a digestive aid. Usually, I cut my meat and other food into small bits before anything to use the knife only once. That way I’ll be preoccupied with the fork the rest of the time. As peculiar as some Asian customs seem, there are facets that make perfect sense. I like how Asian cuisine is decimated into bite sizes so that one can use the chopsticks and not rely on silverware. I appreciate how they eat lean meat, and fresh veggies with either noodles or rice. None of their food to my knowledge entails white flower. Another thing I love about Asian food is they have no bones in their meat. I’m a stickler in that regard. Mostly I admire how Asian food is served in smaller portions as it should be. That explains why you almost never see any overweight Asians.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Aspies

However, that’s changing now that fast food made its way to this continent. Were it up to me, all restaurants by law would have restrictions on portion sizes. All societies would have six small meals a day in lieu of three large ones. In order, they’d be breakfast, brunch, lunch, dessert, dinner, and supper. Each one I’d spread two or three hours apart. Perhaps I’d include snack time or teatime in the afternoon if necessary. I’d even adopt this during Thanksgiving. The turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole I’d serve for dinner maybe. The holiday ham, cranberry sauce, and sweet corn would be for lunch. Pumpkin pie and other desserts I’d serve mid-afternoon. Either that or they can serve soup for one of the meals. Moreover, I’d have three meals unique to the holidays. There’s no reason in my book it should be confined to one large banquet in the evening when it can be an all-day affair. Similar things I’d engender for Christmas, Halloween, New Year’s, Fourth of July, and so forth.

My Divine Ideation

If I were king, I’d have all schools public and private do the same. Kids would be allowed to have dessert only during the mid-afternoon on my watch. Most nutritionists recommend eating sweets sometime between the morning and afternoon to burn off all sugar one has consumed throughout the day. In all cases, I’d serve portions the size of one’s fist and no larger. This I’m certain would cut down on obesity in America and the rest of the world. That said, I intend to adopt this technique over time to keep myself healthy as I’m getting older. The ingestion of things in sequential order is just an Aspie quirk. Most Americans are too accustomed to having salad served before dinner when it should be part of the meal. For the longest time, I wondered what Asians for breakfast. I learned in Thailand they have soup, rice, noodles, or whatever they eat the rest of the day. It’s no more different than using chopsticks. Breakfast food like pancakes, waffles, omelets, and cereal are social constructs in the West. If you think long and hard enough, it’s not that ridiculous to have for breakfast what you’d have any other meal. How can over 3 billion Asians be wrong?

Fifty Bites in Fifty Sips

That said, I’ve started to eat how the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggested in his book Anger. On the one hand, it’s recommended that one chews at least twenty times before swallowing. On the other hand, I try to chomp at least fifty times. Hanh stated the more you do that, the more your food is broken down thereby making it easier to digest. Another thing I do is sip my drink in smaller doses while eating to liquefy it. When I drink something, I might take a large gulp but swallow it in smaller increments. These I’ve read decrease flatulence, indigestion, and whatnot. None of those are preventable, but I’m convinced they can be minimized through these techniques. They should teach children to eat this way from the time they’re in nursery school in my humble opinion. Sadly, Americans have a tendency to stuff their faces like they’re in a rush. I had a bad habit of doing that myself when I was in the service. From the time I was in boot camp to when I was discharged, I was expected to shovel in my food and scarf it down because everyone was in a big damn hurry to go nowhere. It took me a long time to break that habit, and I still have to think about what I’m doing while practicing the Hanh maneuver.

The Best for the West

The former I suspect is another reason why the obesity pandemic is in record numbers in America. Studies have shown the faster you eat, the hungrier you stay because you’re not giving your body enough time to digest. Buffets should be outlawed across the board I feel. I’m debating what’s a worse dilemma in America and the rest of the Western countries; obesity or hunger. Both I’m certain can be nixed if we adopt these principles. Six or seven small meals a day also speeds up one’s metabolism. Bodybuilders and athletes eat that way, so it’s beyond me why everybody else doesn’t. That’s what I find most mind-boggling. How in the world does everyone have time to get on Facebook, watch TV, surf the Internet, and play with their smartphone, but nobody has any inclination to consume six or seven small portions a day which should take no more than 15 or 20 minutes. Hereon, I say that’s how it should be done. In the workplace, people shouldn’t have hour-long lunches but 20-minute snack breaks every two to three hours.

My Last Meal in Kuala Lumpur
This is a picture of my last meal I had in Kuala Lumpur at a Moroccan restaurant.