Saturday, October 22, 2011

Introduction, pt. 1

I meant what I said in the header up there. If you care (and/or dare) to continue, do so at your own risk of boredom, anger, disgust or depression (or some combo of the four).

Hi, folks. I'm just an awful, irrelevant person who should've never been born in the first place. Speaking of which, I was born in the summer of 1983, in Laconia, New Hampshire. My father was, and still is, a protestant pastor, and I have 2 older brothers, 2 & 4 years my senior respectively. My parents could've prevented my existence through abortion, birth control, contraceptives or simply by not fucking a third time. Instead, they decided to keep me, thus tainting the world with a mildly autistic waste of oxygen.

As a young child, some of the awful or weird things I did included smearing sickness-induced nasal mucus all over myself and the wall as a toddler, loudly protesting my 5th birthday ("I don't WANNA be five!"), which may have been my first incident of "parallel anxiety" (explained next paragraph), punching my kindergarten teacher in the stomach in anger merely because she was "fat", and telling a black man on the beach that his skin was "the color of poop" (there weren't many people in New Hampshire who weren't white). However, my parents told me how bright of a kid I always was. My father once told me (or lied to me to make me feel better) the time when I was little and the school gave me an IQ test, and he was observing from outside. The person who gave the test had flash cards with pictures on them, and I was instructed to call out the word/name associated with each card as he held them up for me to see. Supposedly, I was doing fine, but after a few cards in I had thought he was going too slow, and decided to take the cards myself and call out the names as I held them up for both him and my dad to see. Unfortunately, he told my dad later that, according to his test results, I only had an "average" IQ score, proof that I wasn't as smart as my parents thought I was. My dad insists that guy was being a douche (albeit in different words), which would mean that I have no excuse if I say or do something "stupid".

My whole life, I have suffered from this "parallel anxiety"; at first, it starts with my mind willingly and enthusiastically associating two or more ideas/concepts, whether they be people, places, objects, names, words, etc., whether they are actually relative in any way or just complete abstractions (but not regular pattern recognition and connections that comes from everyday observation and learning). Then, for whatever reason, perhaps fear of public humiliation or embarrassment, intense stress and anxiety make me no longer want these to be cognitively connected or associated (and ESPECIALLY not externally), and I force my mind to keep them separated, which, ironically and unfortunately, makes my mind associate them even STRONGER. (If it's music or lyrics, I will attempt to suppress this by nervous, forced sing-songy speech or humming a different tune. If it's words or a statement, I will attempt to suppress this by blurting out different words aloud over them. If it's a voice or accent, I will attempt to suppress it by blurting out speech in a different voice or accent, usually exaggerated.) They then build-up collectively, giving my mind extra work, some of them being replaced by stronger ones over time. What makes it worse is that it's a self-contained problem, which does not allow me to disclose any one of them at any given moment to anyone, not even close family members or even counselors. Now, I realize ahead of time that by publicly giving up this information, I'm opening myself up to ridicule or torment by those who would use it against me, either by foes or those who wish to control or manipulate my behavior in service of "bettering"  or "improving" me.

In elementary school, I always preferred staying indoors at recess playing board games to going outside on the playground, especially if it was chilly out. In the mid-to-late '90s, I watched after-school TV like it was a ritual; mostly PBS shows such as Bill Nye and Carmen Sandiego, as well as Power Rangers and some Nickelodeon and contemporary Warner Bros. I became a "born-again Christian" at the age of 10, although I had previously thought I was automatically Christian just by being born into a Christian family. I cried often as a kid, and my brothers seemed to initiate this reaction most often through brotherly torment, although my mother could be quite argumentative with me, often leading to shouting and cliched parental threats and statements (which my father wasn't above, either). Some of these cliches my parents spouted included: "I'm going to count to 10...", "It's nobody's fault but your own", "I'll give you something to cry about", etc. My brothers always thought my parents were too easy on me while being so hard on them. In hindsight, I believe we were all scolded equally; I was just crippled and smothered by fluffy, gentle kindness. My brothers also played on my "parallel anxiety" in one unforgettable incident back then. My second eldest would occasionally crush any attempts of mine to build up a defensive, reassuring wall of cognitive dissonance against thoughts or ideas that terrified or disturbed me (or made me cry). One time, we had gotten a soundtrack for movies that had come out, and we all found one particular song to sound funny, and we'd listen to it and poke fun of it. When we rented a quirky movie that came out around that time that made us laugh, I heard that song played at the end, and was terrified, running upstairs. My brothers would then use this song to torment me from then on, even after we moved. I remember trying to hide the album, just so they couldn't bug me with it anymore. In fact, I would even begin going to "prayer meeting" with my parents on Wednesday nights, just to avoid being picked on.

My dad used to be a psychologist who worked at a mental hospital (nowadays, he's a pastor and firefighter). In case you were curious, he used to be a registered Democrat (before registering Independent), but usually voted conservative, and still has a rather strong bend. Oddly enough, I've gotten along best with him. My Italian-Catholic grandmother, a strong Democrat but with a slight old-fashioned social bend, and hard of hearing in one ear, seemed to think I was spoiled (and still does), and she was more harsh than my parents, but is a fantastic cook. She brings up the same things to complain about almost every time we visit, and almost anything I said or did wrong in the past that she saw or heard I never heard the end of! Also, being on the heavy side, she hated almost anything said bad about overweight people. I often overheard my father and her passionately discussing politics, pop culture, and current events. (One time in before we moved, she called our house, and I answered, but when I heard her voice, I asked who this was, and she became indignant and angry that I didn't know who it was, thinking I was being 'rude'. Later, when my dad got home, having presumably been called by her later complaining about me, scolded me for 'talking to [her] like that'. After the move to New Jersey, I had hit my oldest brother for something when she was over, and since I  refused to apologize for some reason, perhaps another 'parallel anxiety' case, her, my brother and parents, but especially her, tried to aggressively drag one out of me with threats, angry shouting, intimidation and even corporal punishment until I was in tears, and ever since, I have had an 'apology complex', saying 'sorry' for just about anything I thought I was doing wrong.) My grandma, and indeed my whole father's side of the family, don't mince words when it comes to race, and have high octaves with the mouths of sailors. They were, and still are, a raucous, blue-collar clan. One could easily write a TV drama about their lives! I often overheard my father and grandma passionately discussing politics, pop culture, current events, religion, race, etc. The general theme being "what is this world coming to?"; how us kids "have it so easy" compared to how they had it, and other such outplayed yarns. I remember overhearing their heated discussions when we stayed overnight as I was in bed, and started to look up to my grandmother as much as I did my father, although I never really ever had a "hero".

My mother, on the other hand, came from a more refined Protestant background, and she used to work at the local Police Department doing paperwork (nowadays she works at AT&T here in NJ, and also studied psychology at the local community college, which I watched some VCR videos with her). She is quite the busybody, and takes her Christian faith just as seriously as my dad, but more personally. For example, every time me or my brothers recited a line from TV or a movie, we had to read a Bible verse from one of the neon cardboard cards in a plastic "daily bread" container. She also had the annoying habit of comparing our behavior to that on TV shows we were watching (e.g.: "See how silly he looks doing that? That's what you look like when you do that!"), which especially humiliated and embarrassed me. Her family is less blue-collar, more quiet and "polite", and generally more "polished" than my dad's. That grandma kept a huge collection of creepy, lifelike ceramic dolls in her basement that kept me, my brothers and cousin up at night when we stayed over. She also is nearly obsessed with pigs, and her house is decorated with queasily quaint porcine knick-knacks. At least my other grandma collects a more eccentric type of animal: penguins.

In New Hampshire, we had a cat and 2 budgerigars (parakeets), one which was mean and bit us sometimes. The non-mean one died first. We bought a cocker spaniel from a breeder, but he was a very stupid dog who barked loud and deep, eat until he puked, humped everyone, and bit some people, including my brother. After we moved here, he died of fleas. We also got 2 iguanas from when they were small, and they grew quite large. They would headbang to music we played sometimes. Their cages stunk. Their claws dug into our flesh when they crawled on us, and they would whip their tails at us, which was dangerous. They didn't live too long; the non-mean one died first (of a facial tumor), and the mean one bit more. He lost a toe, then part of his tail, then he eventually died.

I used to be attracted to my cousins, who've lived in Florida for years. I remember when they came up to visit my mother's mother's house when we were over, and they also went to Roscoe, NY, with us, where we stayed in my grandma's cabin by the river (not the first time we went). They were both about my age (I was an about 13 at the time), and had a younger brother. This was also the beginning of my "foot fetish", which I could hardly control; however, I actually set my sights more on their mother's (my aunt's), who was the youngest on my mom's side of the family. I felt bad when they had to leave, and went into a short period of secret withdrawal.

There seems to be 2 rules about my adult life (no creation of mine) that I just can't seem to ever avoid, despite all my efforts: #1- I can never enjoy life in the long run (more than a couple days) without somehow making shit up in my head that hasn't yet been confirmed by reality, in order to give me a false incentive to motivate me, and #2- I just can never manage escape "creepiness", no matter how hard I try. Therefore, most of the time, I'm either bored, embarrassed/humiliated, annoyed/angry, miserable, nervous/anxious, uncomfortable, or disgusted/nauseous. The fact that my logical, rational mind (I'm often "in my head") is constantly being held at odds with my emotional, "caring" side that I try to keep under the surface (and repress with my best efforts) only adds to this frequent tension and stress, leaving me in a constant state of ambivalence.

In 5th grade, I began to secretly fancy a male classmate of mine; he was skinny, with a strawberry-blonde bowl cut hairstyle. I hardly ever got to talk to him, and when I did, it was never a conversation. He seemed like an alright kid, though. When I first moved here in '95, my mother and brother were helping clean up my room, and my mother found a picture I drew of a naked skinny boy being tickle-tortured by a giant octopus coming out of the ocean (a precursor to Hentai???), complete with private parts. My mother flipped out and called it "disgusting", and shamed and scolded me for drawing such a nasty thing, humiliating me in front of my brother! With my "foot fetish", there were many sights set, including a South American family in our church, who had 3 daughters, all of them older than I. I had also begun to fancy the adopted Colombian son of our next-door neighbors, who was kind of a spoiled brat. There was also this skinny, pasty white girl who went to our church when I began high school. My second oldest brother and I used to poke fun of her and how she had "no energy", and how "weak" she was. (Yeah, my brother can be like that, and unfortunately it rubs off at times.) I came up with the "skeleton" analogy (white and skinny), and we found out she eats cereal with water. Also, her parents were super religious and superstitious and strict (they called Santa Claus "Satan Claus"), and her half brother tragically committed suicide. Anyways, after teasing her so much, I actually started to like her, and would hang out with her a lot. Of course, with her passive, quiet personality and my fetish, I eventually enjoyed fiddling with her bare bony feet in private. Much of the time, this occurred at church, when we were in a separate room from the evening service. She would be quietly reading a book, and I would slip off her shoes, which wasn't hard considering the footwear. Eventually, I gradually grew tired of the ordeal, and merely became neutral acquaintances with her.

There was also an obese hippie-ish lady at our church, who brought Puerto Rican kids from the "projects" over on Sunday mornings, who were obnoxious and uncivilized. She was against both abortion and the death penalty, and also was against the NRA and guns in general, but most notably believed that before the "fall of man" in the Garden of Eden, every animal was an herbivore, and Adam and Eve were vegetarians. My dad, on the other hand, said they "might have eaten honey". However, to me, all this seemed a bit strange. "Adam and Eve" could eat every fruit in the garden but the forbidden "tree of knowledge" (which I know find to be funny subtext of how knowledge is off-limits to "true believers"), even though later in the Bible, the "truth" is supposed to "set you free". Would that mean God didn't want Adam and Eve to be "free"? Does that also mean that Satan (disguised as a snake who lost his legs later; how many Christians believe this was an "actual historic event"?) was tempting them with a proverbial "taste of freedom"? I believe this treatment of outrageous biblical fables as actual historic accounts affected my subconscious enough that I worried about how forms of fiction, such as movies and TV shows, could be clearly "fiction"? Regarding the bible, how could "historic events" have such clear story line structures, complete with moral lessons?

On a side note, I must admit I could never enjoy singing along with the hymnals, so the most I would ever do was hum. I also could never figure out what page to turn in the Bible when we were supposed to read along, and was never compelled to sit down and read the Bible like I was "supposed to" anyways, and even when I attempted to read it, I couldn't do it. (To recent times, my eldest brother would often reprimand me for laying down in the pew when I was tired, as I would sometimes fall asleep during service.) As for prayers, I was never sure how I was "supposed to" pray, with the closing of the eyes and folding of the hands and whatnot. I didn't like saying much of the things I was "praying" for aloud, even in private, and when asked to pray before a meal, I never spoke aloud what I really wanted; what I said aloud was always routine.

School in New Jersey was rougher than that of New Hampshire. I remember my father saying that when he discussed with a school administrator the fact that I, as a kid with a learning disorder (they used to think I had ADD or OCD), should be integrated with normal students like I was in New Hampshire due to the fact that those kids fare better than those who are segregated or put into classes alongside special ed students (which was the case here), the admin official said that we're "not in po-dunk New Hampshire anymore". My 7th-8th grade class was full of delinquents, who were loud, disruptive, and got into arguments with the teacher, who wound up having to yell all the time. I used to think she was just mean, but her class was out of control, obviously stressing her out. There was a chubby Puerto Rican girl in my class who often wore slip-off platform shoes or even open-toed footwear, who teased me playfully during class sometimes with her feet, slipping off her shoes. During junior high, I had gotten a trombone that my parents bought for me, because the school wanted me to learn a brass instrument; plus I thought playing a big horn would be cool, even though I initially wanted a tuba, which my parents couldn't afford). I soon realized I should have had more foresight, because it was exhaustingly heavy to lug around everywhere, a hassle to assemble and take apart, and practicing it involved agonizingly long lessons, as my numb lips and the spit valve were a pain in the ass to manage. I also had a tough time actually following along with the rest of the band during practice, because I had to keep up with their pace and not do my own thing. I also remember doing my own cutouts of colored construction paper and using glue to re-create South Park characters, impressing my classmates in Art. When I first heard of South Park, long before I ever watched it myself, I told a classmate that I thought it was "trying too hard to be so rude", that it was kids "only thought it was funny because it was so [over-the-top] crude and vulgar", using "fake edginess", or something like that. I would only start watching the show regularly in later years (fall of 2000).

In elementary school, I always preferred staying indoors at recess playing board games to going outside on the playground, especially if it was chilly out. I remember making doodles of Bart Simpson's head during class in 5th grade, as well as the cartoon bunny from that comic. I remember watching the Simpsons religiously in the '90s, watching afternoon re-runs every day. I remember having to go to a psychologist for possible OCD, and my mother mentioned the fact that I'd watch obsessively. I was fascinated, I suppose, but there was always some cognitive dissonance going on in some aspect of my life, and this was no exception. My parents were conservative Christians (I myself was "born again" in '93 t the age of ten), and Bart was considered a "bad role-model for kids", despite being sympathetically portrayed as the main protagonist, and Lisa was obviously a "bleeding-heart liberal", despite being written as the intelligent voice of reason, though obviously unintentionally "bland" and "boring" in comparison. (Actually, her and the show's "agenda" were most pivotal for me, because of the guilty conscience it gave me, corresponding with added pessimism to my outlook. However, my father's observation of the show's "agenda" made me wonder, whether Lisa was simply annoying and that the show's "villains" were to be rooted for?) Homer was obviously an abusive buffoon who strangled Bart at the slightest provocation, later stealing the show with his moronic antics. Funny; nobody complained about Homer being a bad influence for audiences. Once again, I secretly started fancying Bart, while my father tried to maintain dissonance with bad puns and rhymes, and even my oldest brother, who used to draw a lot (especially of Garfield, his favorite), drew a character doodle of his own (tall and skinny kid with hi own skateboard, but with a wide, football-shaped head reminiscent of the Hey, Arnold! kid, with a scowl and a mohawk) he claimed was "enemy of Bart", despite the fact that nearly every family member on the show had their share of enemies. I wound up forcing myself to "hate" Bart (though out of envy and fear of being compared to him, a big no-no for my parallel anxiety), and was forced to sympathize with Homer. Eventually, I started my own cartoon character to challenge and oppose Bart (too corny :P). I decided to make him much younger than Bart, therefore "cuter". I tried to draw him on the computer using ClarisWorks, but those drawings, with other characters, as well as some other projects, were on a folder that mysteriously disappeared from the computer, losing it all. 0_o :O OH NOES! I eventually started it up again on paper, and the characters evolved.

When I first started high school, I was hoping I had child development as a class for some reason. I had a high-strung, hyperactive guidance counselor who was addicted to sugar. She must have had some sort of grudge against me, and so for my sophomore year, she made me have an aide follow me around constantly. She was an old, cranky lady who didn't like me very much, even going so far as to say that I "didn't need an aide", which I had wished I never had in the first place. Fortunately, a new aide replaced her for the second half of the school semester, another old lady who was much kinder to me.

After our spaniel died, we got mice from the pet store as pets. They soon multiplied (we thought they were all female, because that's what we were told at the store), and we had to get a bigger cage. Eventually, we used a plastic mouse playground, complete with tunnels and other things. Changing it was most difficult, and the mice were eventually eating each other. Before they went cannibalistic, my second oldest brother started babysitting a bratty little girl who went to our church. Her mother would drop her off at our house weekday afternoons, and my brother would get payed when she came back later to pick her up. However, he often would go out with his friends, leaving me to babysit while he got paid for it all! She always wanted to watch the movie "Stuart Little" every time she was over, and therefore loved our mice. One day, she wanted to hold one of our mice again after I had already let her many times before. I had previously told her that she held them enough, but she complained and screamed until I gave in begrudgingly. When I went to pick one up for her, it bit my palm and drew blood! That set me off, and I lost my temper on her (but not physically)!

Back in the 90's, our family played lots of "Christian alternative" music, including it's incarnations of rap and rock. My oldest brother eventually got into rap, and I often heard old school rap on their radios. He soon aspired to be a Christian rapper. (Cue awful montage.) He would freestyle and write lyrics over instrumentals. I began to hear lots of KRS-One, De La Soul, and the Roots, amongst others. I began to get into the same rap albums as my brothers, even explicit ones, much to the chagrin of my parents. I even started to listen to commercial hip-hop radio, although I eventually got sick of hearing the same awful garbage ad nauseam, and had to bail. That's when that song that bothered me stopped bothering me anymore, because there were a couple songs that bothered me on the station. That's also when I discovered a college station with an "underground hip-hop" show on Wednesday nights. It seemed so refreshing to me, especially compared to the other station. My brother also listened to other, more "contemporary" Christian rap, and I became familiar with some of these artists and groups, although not to the extent as he did. This was also when I started playing my own "beats" on the keyboard.

Around this time, he started his own christian rap group with 3 other dudes he met. One of them stayed over at our house rent-free for awhile, leeching off our money. My father got pissed at him speaking ebonics, knowing that he was capable of proper english, being college educated and all. This young man also enjoyed Pokemon, and got my father (who already watched Days of Our Lives) into another, worse soap opera. He would laugh obnoxiously about the bad acting and plots, although his obnoxious laughter was not only limited to bad soaps. Eventually, we convinced him to move out, and he moved to California.

Before our mice died, we were visiting the pet store for more pet food and supplies when we saw a woman with a female dalmatian she was selling for free. She told us she found the dog wandering the streets at night alone, and said she came right up to her and was very friendly and sweet, unusual for her breed. We decided to adopt her and bring her home as a "surprise gift" for my mother. She never bit, and I don't think she even barked!

My brothers and I used to play a lot of video games as kids, and got the Nintendo 64, aka "N64", when it came out in the mid '90s. (One particular quirk of my second eldest brother is that when he played a video game of the collection-adventure variety, I would try to point out areas/items he might skip or miss, he would often say, "I don't care, I wanna get through this" in a frustrated, hurried manner, forcing me to keep quiet. Also, my father would eventually come to enjoy playing some of the games himself, such as later games in the GTA series, and often I would watch and occasionally help, sometimes even taking turns.) They also used to watch professional wrestling when they were teens. I didn't start until after Owen Hart killed himself by mistake falling onto the ring off the steel girders high above it. (My brother used to root for some wrestlers who were "heels" (ones who the audiences booed), and found some of the "babyfaces" to be annoying, and so naturally I followed suit. We played a lot of wrestling games back then, too. He eventually stopped watching in the mid '00s, while I stopped watching in '08.) Also around this time, my other brother was friends with a strange Jewish kid who hung out at our house often.  Looking up to my older siblings, I thought of him as a source of wisdom at the time. But he was greasy and grimy, left food all over the place, and was a know-it-all. He was also obsessed with Adam Sandler, and kept watching one particular movie of his every time he was over. He was also found to be stalking one of my brother's female friends. We eventually got him out of our house for good. This is also the time I had started reading Time magazine regularly when we received it in the mail via subscription, as well as "America's 1st Freedom" my dad received being an NRA member and everything. I remember, at approximately this same time, my brother rented an N64 video game called Shadow Man, which was a dark voodoo adventure game. I eventually became hooked to the game, and decided I wanted to buy it. Even after I beat it, I would start playing again months later, because of the heart-racing, atmospheric thrill. It's like it got better every time I played it!

I started going to a different school my junior year, and was placed in a class alongside mostly "special ed" students. I remember being miserable there, and that the toilet's water was too high, getting my testicles wet when I went to the bathroom (which is when I started to squat to avoid the problem). The school was obsessed with hygiene, and I wasn't so meticulous. I contacted pinworms from that school as well (which I had to deal with for a couple years after that, until about 2002). Much of the work was simplistic and unchallenging. One of my classmates I first met in junior high, although I didn't know her well. She was a Korean girl who had adoptive Italian parents, and she was delightfully strange in my eyes, and I found her amusing. I used to imitate her quirky way of talking about the letter 'O', the long 'O' sound, circles, holes, and pretty much anything round, playing along. She would point them out and make a weird 'toot-y' noise about them. She also used to ask for my impersonations of my classmates, my 5th grade teacher's aide (who was an old German lady), as well as TV and movie characters, trying to impersonate them herself. This annoyed the teachers, and they tried to discourage this. There was also a boy who was obsessed with 'N Sync and thought of himself as tough and cool, even though he was short and odd-looking and listened to a boy band. Anyways, I got into a minor argument with a teacher over homosexuality/abortion, which I was against at the time because of what my father said (I looked up to him) When I told them that my father had told me these things, they told me he sounded like a  "very opinionated person". I remember writing an embarrassing report on dinosaurs being mention in the Bible as "dragons", Beowulf being a "dinosaur hunter", photos of supposed artifacts with "dinosaurs" on them and "civil war pterosaurs", as well as cryptozoology legends such as "Mokele Mbembe" and the Loch Ness Monster. My aide criticized it, saying the Mexican dinosaur figurine artifacts were obviously fakes. In 2001, I got my first pair of glasses, and, of course, 9/11 happened. I was first diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome toward the end of that year by my then doctor, and I knew little about it. I tried to explain to my teachers that that was why I was the way I was, but they still didn't change how they treated me, and my grandma assumed I was only making "an excuse". I believe that what I was told about AS back then shaped me over the years a bit, as well as my understanding and overall view of the syndrome. We had trips to the bowling alley (I enjoyed, especially the food), the recreation center indoor swimming pool (I also enjoyed), and a dance instructor's class (which I didn't enjoy because I hate following what everyone else does, plus I didn't like the music they played; I must note that I hate even walking to the rhythm of music that I don't enjoy, so I go against the rhythm on purpose).

In summer of 2002, after I graduated, me & my family went up to stay at Roscoe again. After the first night, some girls from my aunt's church were visiting, and were from 12-14 year of age. They seemed to get along with me, and I fancied the second oldest (13 going on 14, but was tall and looked mature for her age), who turned out to be super laid-back. They were all Puerto Rican, yet none of them were "ghetto"; in fact, one of them was from Connecticut (previously mentioned 2 sentences ago), and had a father who was a firefighter like my dad, while the other two were from Pennsylvania, and had their little brother with them. I had a casual conversation with them in the hammock, especially the mature-looking one. She seemed to get along with me well, and they all enjoyed talking with me. They all enjoyed my dog Lady as well. The next morning, we fried up the eels that my family caught late at night, and the one girl looked at them funny. I tried to encourage her to try them, that they tasted pretty good (they did). i asked her if she was a vegetarian, and she said she "didn't like vegetables enough to be a vegetarian", which I thought was a clever line. My father discussed plans of us visiting her father's firehouse sometime in the future, which never came to fruition. When they left before us later that day, I went into withdrawal. I remember having to get up early the next morning to go to a private school's summer program, and how miserable and annoyed I was. We shared the building with much younger, even elementary and kindergarten-aged students. I didn't mind our trips to the lake to swim (although I didn't enjoy the pizza being cooked on an outdoor grill) or the arcade to play, but it sucked having to get up early 5 days a week in the summer. I remember writing a letter about myself on the computer at school, similar to how I am doing here, only without any life stories, and one thing was how I was neither "liberal nor conservative", or something along those lines. When the fall school year began, I had a hard time with some of the students, many who were either spoiled rich kids with no clue or were delinquents from bad neighborhoods. However, I had freedom to roam around to different classrooms, and didn't have an aide following me around.

I had begun to spend a long time going to the bathroom on Sunday mornings at church, and my brother and mother decided every time I missed my dad's sermon while using the bathroom, I would be "grounded" from using the computer that whole day.

One night, we went to visit my father's mother, who was staying overnight in the hospital. On the way up, the radio was on (my father listens to Sean Hannity a lot), and I heard an angry, loud voice ranting about some story in the news. I asked my dad who it was, and he told me it was Michael Savage, and said he had never listened before. I decided to listen to the show, because it reflected my frustrated mood, I suppose. That, and perhaps as a from of "rebellion" against the "liberal" school system I had gone to before the summer. I wasn't sure when it started, so the next day after I'd come home from school, I would turn the radio on in the house to that station. I sat on the couch in an attempt to sit through Sean Hannity's show, even though it was so boring, it had me drifting off. When the "Savage Nation" started later on, I listened intensely. I became nearly obsessed with listening everyday (after all, radio can be an "addictive form of media"). Around then I had begun going to a group for other kids with Asperger's, who were mostly lower-functioning than me, and this is where I had learned most of my social skills from outside my parents, although in hindsight, I'm not sure if this was a double-edged sword, because I eventually felt I didn't need to be there as long as I have been. I also wonder whether people with AS should even have professional social skills training. (One of the group mates had a habit of paranoia asking people "you wouldn't be mean to me" or "have a jerky attitude towards me" ad nauseam, and worried whether people were lying when they said they wouldn't do those things.) I remember trying to listen to my portable radio during group to catch the show, and getting flack for it, although I never told them what I was listening to (I suppose I was either ashamed or too embarrassed). I remember having to juggle the views of Savage, the hip-hop show I listened to, and my family, all in my head, creating great dissonance. I remember watching wrestling being part of that ball, as well. This wouldn't be the first time my family would contest with what I listened to or watched, including and especially my grandma. My family, especially my parents, thought he was "too angry" all the time, my mother saying it was making me angry just by listening to it, and her and my oldest brother didn't like me listening while eating dinner. The show definitely ate up a large portion of my life back then, and I probably missed out on a lot of opportunities. There was much he said that I didn't agree with, nor did I have such deep knowledge of political figures as he did. But I tried to convince myself it was all "interesting" to me. I also had a hard time reconciling with the anti-war, anti-racism and anti-poverty themes I began noticing in songs on the other station in contrast to the conservative view on such things. But I enjoyed the apparent "artistry" and "creativity" put into the "beats", and the different "flows" of different rappers.

I remember my mother forwarding this email to us she thought I'd enjoy. It says it's written by George Carlin, but it wasn't really. Anyways, this got me interested in Carlin, and I watched a standup of his that was on HBO that December. It was "You Are All Diseased", and my dad began watching with me. When it got toward the end, I cringed at what my father's reaction would be. It was so insightful and made me think, yet my father insisted it was wrong, and that Carlin was an "asshole" for saying those things. Carlin's specials would later on become a guilty pleasure for me to watch in private, even if they weren't "live", and I was nervous when my mother walked by my brother's room, where I watched it, because she really doesn't like that. I remember my dad talking to Grandma about Carlin, and she said she "lost respect" for him ever since Prince of Tides, where he played a homosexual, after he "poked fun" of gay people so much in his acts (apparently, she doesn't get freedom of speech all that much; saying the word "faggot", or even making jokes about gay people doesn't mean you hate homosexuals or want to hurt them, nor does playing a gay character in the same run turn you, all of a sudden, into a hypocrite).

The next morning, my father woke me up to tell me that Lady had died overnight suddenly. He even showed me her body, laying in front of their bedroom and the main bathroom. Apparently, she was older than we thought when we bought her. We were all so shocked by her sudden departure, being that she was such a tenderhearted dog and all, plus it was the week before X-mas. A few nights later that same week, my father couldn't sleep, so he decided to look for a new dalmatian online. He printed out a page, which had 3 dalmatians on it advertised, each with a small description. We picked the one named Holly, and went to go pick "her" up that night from the kennel. "She" was much bigger that Lady, and when we got into the car, we realized "she" was a "he"; the previous owner must have had an accent, the dog's name most likely being Harley. We named him "Rollie", because he was built like a packed sausage. He was a good dog, but was more attached to my dad than the rest of us. I tried laying with him one night in my room, and when he almost snapped at me, I suddenly got very sad, missing Lady more. He did many of the same things Lady did, even some of her mannerisms, but was still a bit different.

The next year, I began working at a "job training" program, which was a warehouse and workshop where I did mostly piecework, getting paid for how much "sets" I put together. Most of my coworkers were physically or mentally handicapped, many of them much older than me. I began watching PBS again after school that year, and enjoyed watching Redwall, the animated series based on the book. During the summer break from school, I began watching Nickelodeon again for some reason. I started watching Ren & Stimpy reruns, and getting into it so much, I dug deeper online. I researched the show in depth, and it's creator, origins and history. Eventually, however, they stopped airing them, so I watched some of the new episodes on Spike TV. That same year, Savage was dropped from the lineup of the radio station I listened to, and my mother had lent me a book from the library, "The Things You Can't Say in America" by Larry Elder. I read most of it and found his views refreshing, although my father disagreed with the more socially liberal points of the book. Not only did it get me into his radio show which aired that fall on the same station that dropped Savage, and which I found to be more soothing and relaxing than Savage, but also subsequently got me into libertarianism. Unfortunately, the show discontinued airing the following year, the same year I was laid off from my job and graduated from the school. One day, I was tuning my portable radio, when I came across a station that seemed to be airing Savage, and I then discovered he had moved to a different flagship station. That's when I started listening to him again.

That fall, I started going to a "transition center" school, where I once again was classmates with the Korean girl. It was a small school, shared in a one-level building with much younger classes, just like the last one, but with only one floor and the building was much wider. I remember sharing the class with some troubled and "special ed" kids. The next year, the school moved to a new location. This is when I began working at an apprenticeship job at A.C. Moore, creating arts & crafts with a girl my age teaching me the ropes. The woman who got me the job also got me to start using a public transportation service, which I have been using ever since. (This was also when I started developing a rectal prolapse, and subsequently having my first colonoscopy). It was only a temporary job, for I started working at the grocery store later that year, where I was constantly on my feet, up front with random people all day, wearing me out. In school, I remember going to different job-training programs as field trips, including a shoe store, where we straightened up the contents of shoe boxes, a warehouse, where we sorted out different clothing tags into different boxes, and even a "food drive" factory, where we stamped and labelled different items. Most notable, however, was when we visited the local community college. We would either do custodial work in the cafeteria, where we got to buy fresh lunch as a reward at the end, or in a small office, sorting papers in a filing cabinet with no lunch reward. I remember getting my first cell phone around this time from the AT&T store, which was Cingular at the time. This is also the time when I started going to another warehouse job-training workplace shared with mostly handicapped older people, but they also served hot lunch, unlike the other place, and had maintenance, cafeteria and office paperwork options, although none of them sounded that much better. Unlike the other place, our different jobs put us into different "shifts", which meant our 15 minute break and 45 minute lunch period were at different times. I did, however, enjoy "mental aerobics", in which we tried to find as many words in a large vocabulary word as possible, and the group leader would write them on a wipe board. I, of course, was in charge of the dictionary, and also I wrote my words on a paper, as well as the main word, being a few steps ahead of everyone else. In addition, I found out early that two kids from my Aspie group worked there as well.

I graduated that summer, and had my graduation party at the new firehouse, where we set up the night before. Unfortunately, Rollie had gotten stomach cancer later that year, and couldn't keep any food down. He was losing weight and energy fast, and didn't have that "spark of life" in him anymore. Since the surgical procedure for removing the tumors was very expensive and had the risk of killing him, my dad decided he should be put to sleep, which we did a few weeks before Xmas.

The next year, I discovered that the creator of Ren & Stimpy started his own blog teaching how to make "classic animation", so I visited regularly. I almost became "indoctrinated" by his belief that just about everything created in the world of animation after the early 60s was and is terrible. I even posted comments semi-anonymously under different names, pretending to be different people. One of them I started using for awhile in order to put forth conservative political views (which I tried to convince myself of at the time), which annoyed a few of the regulars who were more left-leaning, and got me into heated arguments, which put me on the defensive. Eventually, I stopped using that "character" entirely. I had also stopped regularly listening to Savage around then, saving myself some time, and questioning my true ideology. I started to become interested in the "Opie and Anthony Show" because my brothers used to listen to that since 2002 (as well as the occasional Howard Stern), but I didn't start listening yet. I remember hating on Stern, because of their rivalry, and because of what Savage said about him. Later on, I would start my own blogger profile (not this one; that one I couldn't use the password for it all of a sudden, much like my old gmail address), so I could post comments just basically being myself (without revealing too much about myself). Unfortunately, one day the power went out while I had the cartoon blog open, along with other such blogs, and the computer stopped working for quite awhile. This was neither the first nor last power-out we have experienced here in the state of NJ, and it almost always occurs at night and/or during shitty weather.

I also started going to individual counseling at the group center that year, and the counselor tried to help me be more "socially appropriate".

As a member of the local fire station, my father used to take us to "wetdowns" in the summer, which are like block parties with fire engines, spraying the water around with the fire hoses to cool off and have fun, while everyone enjoyed burgers, hotdogs and beer (root beer for me). We used to hold picnics for families of local firemen this elderly man's house, before he died a few years later. There was lots of food and drinks, and lots of kids as well. There was a swimming pool and an in-ground trampoline as well. There was also a miniature house for the kids to play in, and I often went in it, pretending to be "the giant". One time, I started seeing a scrawny early-adolescent girl there who I secretly fancied. I thought she was a bit older, pus I didn't have much age awareness back then, thinking of myself as still a kid/teenager for some reason, and enjoying fiddling with toys and looking through books intended for children, probably due to some nostalgia issue. I saw her again another day when we went to a porch picnic at someone else's house, with a smaller, above-ground pool. After all the kids were done swimming, I got out, too, and saw her sticking her feet in a plastic container filled with dirty water. Puzzled, I asked why she was doing that, and she responded matter-of-fact-ly with a smile that she was a "dirty kid" who liked "messes", and I wandered off in silence, unable to think of a response.

That fall, I began going to prayer meeting with my parents again, in order to avoid being alone with my brothers, so they wouldn't pick on me. I remember picking out my favorite songs from the songbook for us to sing (better than any hymnal), and even played my favorite song on the piano while everyone else sang along. I was the only young person there those nights, and there wasn't much other people there, either. My mother began going to WorldVentures travel meetings at night once a week, and I soon joined her just to get out of the house. My oldest brother had gotten GarageBand for our computer in late fall, and I soon began fiddling around with it, eventually creating my own songs and beats, occasionally using samples from iTunes playlist songs, as well as songs I purchased there. Unfortunately, once the contents of the old hard drive were recovered, everything I created in ClarisWorks I couIdn't open. I also had started to get into NBA basketball because my other brother would go to home team games whenever they played home state host, and he even took me with him a couple times.

That January, my brother told us about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and that we should get one. We looked online, and ordered a then-5 month old CKCS puppy we saw advertised. He was a purebred from Tennessee, and we went to pick him up from the airport soon after. His name was Derek, but we went through different names, and I thought of Baxter. We decided to choose a name that sounded similar to his original, and settled upon Dexter. I started listening to Opie and Anthony that year, which kept me updated on current events, and I used the internet a lot that year as well. In fact, I had discovered Uncyclopedia that year, a very sloppy, poorly-made parody of Wikipedia, and then later discovered Encyclopedia Dramatica, the most "offensive" site on the internet. I eventually became an editor, but ran into opposition for not reading about the "how to" and other guides prior to editing, and became blocked a number of times in the beginning. This is when the common idea that Aspies are "retarded" was first reinforced in my psyche, although I never revealed to anyone on the site I was one myself, for fear of appearing to be making an "excuse" for being a lousy or incompetent person. I remember spending an inexorable amount of time figuring out which particular users made which particular edits, viewing their profile and talk pages (and who edited them, continuing the branch-out), tracking their edit history, as well as reputation and block history (if present). I had become a regular editor, occasionally making minor edits/additions and uploading "jpeg"s and "gif"s, but usually creating templates, helping users learn from their mistakes, cleaning up crap, reverting vandalism and unnecessary flaming, correcting mistakes, etc, as well as starting some of my own articles, all in hopes of gaining either "sysop-hood" or at least notoriety. I eventually stopped editing and visiting entirely in spring of 2009, when I felt I was running out of free time and privacy. Ever since, I had been keeping a text file full of links and changes/additions I wanted to make or submit whenever I got back to the site, as well as images that I either found online or created myself using a Photoshop-like application. Unfortunately, the external hard drive has disappeared from the desktop many times. (Also, I was introduced to "YouTube Poop" in 2008, which may or may not have had an impact on my sense of humor.)

Outside the internet, upon my brother's insistence, we ordered another Cavalier Spaniel online in early 2008. She was about 2 months old, and my brother named her Autumn. I had become tired of working at the workshop, and eventually quit working there by the end of the year. (Before I did, one time I took a ride to/from work, and there was a tall redhead girl with glasses that was picked up/dropped off during the ride; I can't remember those details. But upon casual viewing, seeing how she was slouching with her knees against the seat ahead and hearing her voice when she spoke to the driver, I had a suspicious sense that she had Asperger's, even though I never spoke to her.) I had stopped watching wrestling sometime in late '08 as well. I had also begun tuning into Savage on and off infrequently, but not faithfully. I remember being surprised to hear Scientology defended so vehemently by him. My brother had begun watching True Blood on HBO that summer, and got us into the show when they had the season On-Demand (well, not so much my mother, because she had obvious problems with it due to her convictions). Due to my parents watching reruns of Dexter on CBS that spring, and discovering it originally aired on Showtime years before, they discovered Penn & Teller: Bullshit! that summer as well, and I watched most of the episodes I missed On-Demand that fall, which peaking my interest in libertarianism, and began watching almost every episode on YouTube the following year, as well as the season that came out that summer. We had switched from Cablevision to Fios early that year, and I had been visiting the Debbie Schlussel website frequently, especially the movie reviews, as well as watching movie trailers on the home page of the internet.

My oldest brother had began spending much time away from home; he had a new girlfriend, who was the receptionist at the doctor's office, which I had visited that spring (she was also Puerto Rican and a Catholic). I was sort of relieved, because since the 2000s, him and my mother have been the members of my immediate family I have the hardest time dealing with. We also met her dog, a female English Spaniel who wasn't too bright and barked incessantly, and we found out she had bitten several people, even after she met them already. We found out from grandma that summer, after they paid her a visit, that this girl had a daughter from a previous relationship that was still with her, and my parents were bothered that he never told them. She was a loud, hyperactive, spoiled and bratty kid who her mother often shouted at, making empty threats to in order to shut her up. On multiple occasions, the daughter had thrown our dogs into Grandma's pool after being told not to. My brother and his girlfriend started to come around more often that fall, and we got to know her and her daughter better, as well as her kid brother about the same age, and her cousin, who my other brother discovered had been stealing from him. We soon found out that she had a hostile "ghetto" disposition, and was very possessive and domineering toward my brother, getting on him about nearly everything, as well as being very high-maintenance and low-cultured (she used ebonics and couldn't spell very well, which she revealed in her text messages to us). She was a smoker and heavy drinker, often getting drunk, had her ears, nose and tongue pierced, and had many tattoos, all which bothered my mother, especially the fact that my brother would start drinking more as well. She even convinced my brother to get tattoos, and he eventually began smoking as well, and she even convinced me to drink as well, only to poke fun of me for "having too much" (I had only drank once in awhile in the past, not liking the taste of beer or wine most of my life.) She was a big fan of slasher and horror movies. She was loud, obnoxious, and short-tempered, and, according to my dad, often said things to "push people's buttons", including being "proud" that her dog bit so many people, because she's such a tough "street" person. The dog also had accidents in the house often from them not taking her outside enough (and even had accidents at ours). One time, she left her in her bedroom to go out, and when she got back, she found out the dog had accidentally trapped herself in the room trying to get out by pushing the door shut, and she had destroyed her bed. I remember my parents discussing how my brother and her often went to the "projects" to "point and laugh at the black people there". She wouldn't let him watch football at all around her, so he would have to sneak it. I once overheard her getting on his case about looking at "teenage Olympic gymnasts" on his phone. During a heated argument one time at her house, she kicked him out and threatened to call the cops on him if he came back. That X-mas, they stayed at our house the night before, and we had to wait for them to come back to our house later to finally open their gifts.

The next year around springtime, her daughter had a "spa day" celebration party held at our church the same day we were at my mother's mother's birthday party at her church, and there was a rainy thunderstorm. When we got back home that night, our power was out, and we were also locked out because my brother and his girlfriend had the keys. My dad tried to call him, but he didn't answer, so he left him a message. He later called us back, and said he would be over in about 15 minutes, but took longer. When he finally got there, we got inside and found out our water wasn't working well. (I can hardly recall when our power went back on.) Even though she was such an OCD clean-freak/neat-freak, she let her dog eat off of her fork, and then she'd put that same fork in her own mouth later, claiming "dogs have cleaner mouths than people". They would sometimes stay at our house all day after sleeping over; one time she got on him about "not cutting an onion right", and complained she could "taste the celery" in the home-made caesar salad he made just because he cooked the chicken with Old Bay seasoning. What bothered me the most about this is when they would team up on me and pick on me.

One night that my parents wanted to watch an on-demand movie, I found one that caught my eye based on the description (because of the Asperger's thing), even though I normally wouldn't watch movies of that genre. It turned out to be a low-budget sleeper, but had to protect my vulnerable emotions from harm as usual by repressing them with all my strength. It didn't help that my parents were in the room, either.

That summer, I went to the renaissance fair with my group as a special trip, not the first time we went.  Our dogs had their first litter, and 5 of the 7 survived birth. When we tried to name them, my brother's girlfriend had a problem with the "white" names I came up with, and she kept thinking of "ghetto" or "Latino" names instead. She once stated she didn't want to be rich, because having that much money would "make her treat everyone like garbage". One night, her and my brother were talking on the back porch, and I wandered outside to talk to them. She asked me some probing questions, and because of the way I answered, she accused me of "sounding like a politician". The topic of Christianity came up (for some reason, my dad's sermons were making me think when I listened to them around that time, and I was trying my best to resist the emotional tug of the "messages" in order to detach myself from it all), and I told them I was becoming "agnostic", thinking that if God existed, then getting into heaven must be "almost impossible", and that if I suffered enough in this life "resisting sin and temptation" and sacrificed my own happiness for the sake of "doing good" by "helping others" like "Jesus did", that I "just MIGHT get into Heaven", but still might wind up "suffering in Hell for eternity". My brother's response involved my dad preaching that "by believing Jesus sacrificed himself" for my "sins", I would "get into Heaven anyways", and that "no sin is unforgivable in God's eyes", but it didn't matter. I thought to myself that Catholics like his girlfriend and our grandmother had a less "hopeful" message, yet how are they "unsaved" if they're just another branch of Christianity? I was also wondering about people who are into things most people aren't, such as "pain", "fighting" and other unconventional preferences, how they would feel unwelcome in Christianity's definition of "Heaven". My faith in it all was dwindling gradually. However, she also brought up that she knew a girl with Asperger's who had "nice feet", but I didn't say anything, because at that time, I thought she was making things up to tease me, plus my emotions weren't (and still aren't much) well-developed to deal with things like this. Also, the way my mom talked about people with AS made me unsure about it, wondering if they all had nasty, irrational tempers or other unpleasant or annoying personality traits. Needless to say, I knew little about AS females at the time. After all, most of the information available on the "autism spectrum" applied to kids and teenagers, most of them being "severe cases". (On a side note, one of my group members contests being taught to "lie" in order to be "socially appropriate", and I wondered about "all sins being equal", which seemed a bit odd.)

I started to lose hope in my drawing ability, and was wondering if my cartoon/comic dreams were fading away. I had started walking over to the local public swimming pool again, in order to take a breather away from all the drama at home. One day, I found out the girl I saw at the fireman's picnic was a lifeguard there, and I awkwardly tried to introduce myself, trying to remind her our parents were both part of the fire department ("remember me?"), speaking fast and clumsily, and she just looked over me with a confused smile and said nothing. I told my mom, who took me home, about how the daughter of somebody on the fire department works as a lifeguard there, and guessed she was "18". I would notice her there each time I was over, but wouldn't stare or speak to her at all. (In fact, I had previously seen her at a halloween party at our firehouse the year before.)

Early that fall, I went with my parents and other brother down to Wildwood, NJ for another FCF ("Fellowship of Christian Firefighters") convention. I had been focused heavily on my cartoon characters, trying to sort them in my head. We stayed for a few nights, enjoying some restaurants and the beach, and went back home so my brother could meet with friends or something important. I went back with my parents the next day, so we could visit the boardwalk and a few other things, including a lawyer they knew who had a lot of knickknacks, antiques, artifacts, books and collectibles his office. During that time, one of my molars had chipped due to cavities while eating fast food at our place one night, but I didn't tell my parents at the time. Ted DiBiase, a professional wrestler-turned minister, preached at our church less than a moth later, and there were other retired wrestlers there as a surprise for him. Due to technical and financial issues regarding breach-of-contract, we had to switch back to Cablevision, which was an obvious setback, even though my parents, and even my brother and his girlfriend, maintained enough cognitive dissonance to convince themselves to look at it with rose-colored glasses in comparison to Fios, simply because they were forced to change by the company's mistake. Before the switch, we watched the latest season of Dexter On-Demand (which got me into it more, despite my brother and his friends trying to convince me to go out with them one night), and subsequently watched the two seasons before it on DVD/Blu-Ray, before watching the new season's original airings (as well as the premier of Boardwalk Empire, another show my mom wasn't too fond of).

Later that fall, I would watch The Big Lebowski for the first time, uncut and uncensored in it's entirety, after hearing of it mentioned in reviews of The Men Who Stare at Goats, which I highly anticipated after seeing the trailer the summer before. Around that time, I had developed the crazy idea of "asking out" that girl from the pool at the next Halloween firehouse party. I realized that I was the only sibling who was still single (my other brother had been seeing a girl from another country at the time). I went from passively agnostic to deeply religious, believing she was "the one" that I had been ignoring for years (thinking I had been avoiding "love" :P), only to have God point it out as a "sign". I even though I'd have someone to "defend" me against family arguments. I played the scenario out in my head, optimistic yet ultimately, and unfortunately, unrealistic. When I went to the party, I was too shy to do what I had intended to, but I did attempt to inconspicuously follow her around. (She was dressed in fire gear too big for her, making me wonder if she was a "tomboy" like I liked. She wasn't "hot" like some girls, but was mildly "goofy"-looking, yet it didn't matter because she wasn't "ugly" to me.) When nothing came about that I hoped for, I walked home, miserable that I "missed my chance", and went into a long bout of intense prayer, and subsequent depression (the cold weather and cloudy skies didn't help the mood much), hoping God would soon give me another opportunity to see her again. When that never came about, I had wondered if it was because she was "taken" or something, but then I noticed a coworker in the local newsletter, and it was a picture of high school students, making her younger than I thought. I had already heard disparaging remarks about age differences in relationships over 5 years, so I was worried, especially with my lifelong fear of genital mutilation. Plus, I had been told in group around that time about "age of consent" and to avoid the "dreadful mistake" of dating "minors". I decided to find out what age the other girl was by looking up different ages on Google images for reference, which unfortunately revealed she must have been under 18 (oh noes!), and had prayed she was old enough anyways despite that. (Actually, this would lead to enough panic to eventually lead me to think about much older women than myself, even though I didn't have any real specific age preference in the past.) I even begun questioning my faith again, despite desperate prayer. I had also been reading into things heavily, wondering if they were "hidden messages from God", even if they were so subtle, and how such "signs" work anyways. Furthermore, that whole time, I realized that I couldn't fulfill my dream of cartooning anymore, because I had created female characters I had a "crush" on, and since drawings don't age, they were now "too young" and I couldn't draw them anymore (I must've been "sinning"), plus the fact that they didn't look like the girl I was thinking about and that I'd "lost interest" in drawing them at that time (I thought it would be forever). It was bad enough that I had put so much time and effort into this "project" over the years, and had written countless clever, witty, edgy, original ideas, "jokes" and scenarios for it, and was now forced to abandon it all just because of "underage" characters that I fancied!

My brother and his girlfriend invited one of her friends over one night to meet my other brother and play poker, but he didn't seem interested. My parents later pointed out with my brother that she wasn't very attractive and looked much older than she was (plus she smoked, annoying my mother), but my (future) sister-in-law thought she would be a good match because, according to her, my brother "doesn't [really] want a 'nice girl'". My mother made us go to a Sunday night church service with the new hispanic fellowship one night, including my brother and his girlfriend. It was a long service, and we got back late. I went home with them, and I overheard them from my bedroom talking when she complained about the length of the service, and mentioned something about things my parents said, "why can't two people who love each other  be with each other, regardless of whether they're married or not, or whether they're gay or straight?" or something along those lines (my mom had a problem with him staying at her house, and an even bigger problem with them both staying in his bed at our house, as well as the fact that his girlfriend's sister was marrying another girl). It made me think further, "why can't a Christian be with a non-Christian if they love each other?" and "why does there have to be an age disparity limit in a relationship if they love each other?" I also wondered why some arbitrary birthday at whatever the state law said "magically" made them open to being with older people?

Around Thanksgiving, she got into an argument with my mother, who said something about her "foul language", in which she replied, "I only trust people who swear; I don't trust people who don't swear, because they're fake', and "I have no hair on MY tongue" (whatever that means). My mom said, "I hardly curse. Does that mean you don't trust me?" She then grabbed her daughter and told my brother "c'mon, hurry up; we're leaving", and she stormed out of the house with them and they drove off.

At the end of that year, I was beginning to wonder that if God existed, he either A) was angry at me for doing something "unforgivable" and was "punishing" me for an extended period of time, B) hated me because of some "grudge" against me, C) didn't give two shits about me, and was "letting Satan" put me through psychological agony, or D) didn't fucking exist at all! Anyways, I resigned myself to the age factor, and decided to look up single women my age around my area, in an intense state of desperation, which caused anxiety. The site I temporarily joined was terribly designed, and when I found someone who I oddly assumed had Asperger's, I emailed them, only to discover she did not, and that was that. It was enough pressure being told by my counselor that "my parents won't be around forever" (making me fear living with my brother and his girlfriend, who I feared would treat me terribly), and that I "needed to do something" besides just going to church, prayer meeting, group and work. That X-mas was the most miserable one I had yet, because the gift I wanted most was a girl who I couldn't have or just to be able to have my dream back, which didn't happen either. I wondered if God would "cure" me of my "deviant mind disease" so I could enjoy my life again.

Early next year, my brother and his girlfriend were over one night talking with my other brother in our living room while my parents weren't home, and she was complaining about "old shit" in our house, pointing out the "old, ugly sofa" (not that old and still in good condition) and our hope-chest, and said we should get a new one. She thought the hope-chest was "old garbage", and thought we should "throw it away", despite my brother mentioning that it's an antique. She accused my parents of being "hoarders", and said she "never keeps anything at her house that isn't brand-new". There's some clutter in parts of our house (especially our bedrooms), but the living room has been one of the more organized rooms. I have clutter up in my own room (much of it was thrown up there when I stayed in the basement guest room during some summers), but there's some things I intend to keep, such as things I created myself, including my drawings and cartoons like the other blog of mine, because they are creative achievements I'm proud of and want to be known for. (Plus, has she not heard of "collecting'?)

The next night, they came over again while my parents were at church, this time with their daughter. We had pizza and salad, but when I wanted to pick out my own slice, this was a huge problem. She was annoyed that I wanted the salad tongs and a bowl, because they were just going to pour it out of the bag onto their plates, and that I "get what comes out of the bag and be happy". Doing everything she said, he almost tried to physically stop me from going into the kitchen. He was much harder on me than her daughter. After dinner, they were talking in the living room, and she brought up the Asperger's girl again, this time selling her as "nice" and "Christian", being the "same age" as myself, and wanting to go to the "movies" with somebody. She thought that because of her AS, that I could "relate to her" (no argument from me in my head that moment). I brought up the girl she brought over for my brother, saying he didn't care much for that girl, but she said this was "different". She explicitly asked if I would go out with someone with AS, but I froze up and couldn't respond, then she said the girl was "shy like [me]". I thought to myself, "am I really shy, or just don't know how to act in social settings?", then thought if this applied to this girl being discussed. She also "warned" me that the girl was a "redhead", as if this was an issue. The image that I got at the time in my head wasn't something appealing to me. Now, I didn't like being pushed into a relationship just because she felt so; after all, that's how my life went haywire the previous year. The odd thing was, she never brought up the girl with my parents. But after thinking about it, I remembered that girl I encountered back in '08 on my ride to/from work. I wondered if this was the same girl; I didn't think she was all that bad looking, so I wondered if I got an "answered prayer". I wrestled with this idea for awhile. I also was less likely to join in on my parent's and other brother's bashing of the fiancee for awhile, and even suggested, despite her attitude and everything, that she might be a "blessing in disguise" (funny how it is when someone you wouldn't normally like becomes a bridge to avoid burning when they have connections to someone you'd want to meet, and if my mother's prayers for them to "split up" or for him to "wake up" and leave her, I worried I would lose that connection forever).

When they came over again the following Sunday afternoon, she was complaining about me and my brother watching a Simpsons episode that was taped, saying, "why are you guys watching the Simpsons? That's 'little kid' shit!" Since I hadn't enjoyed the show as much in recent years, I wasn't completely defensive, but I still liked cartoons. That night, I decided I would try to bring up my Asperger's, so she would bring up the girl again, and it sort of worked. She said she was a "very sweet girl", but I couldn't ask if she had glasses or anything, as my other brother chimed in, asking my OTHER brother about some girl with a mocking nickname that he tried to introduce to me in the past, but said I "wasn't interested" (back then, I still thought of myself as a teen or kid). She then asked rhetorically if I wanted to "be alone for the rest of [my] life", which I replied, "no", and this false dichotomy would ring through my ears and bury into my subconscious. I wondered if this girl wasn't the same one I met, worrying me a bit. I wasn't too keen on the idea of God assigning "soul-mates" to everybody that they had to be with for "the rest of their lives, married", especially if it's someone I'm neither attracted to nor know very well. Later, she would complain about the fact that she was beginning her 30s, and was becoming "old" and would be "wrinkly". (She once told my brother's friend, the one who my brother's other friend had been stalking years ago, who was younger than her, that she was worried "her eggs would dry out" if she didn't "fertilize them" soon.) Apparently, she herself planned to be married to my brother the following spring/summer, and stated she wanted to be "3 months pregnant" by the time the wedding took place, which bothered my mother. She said "you're in your prime in your 20s", and said she was going through "panic attacks", and went on Zanax, and went on disability from work, which eventually caused my brother to lose his job at AT&T because he spent so much time taking care of her. They would then spend many nights here, especially Friday nights after my dad picked me up from work (when I wanted to relax after being on my feet for a whole day and didn't wanted to be bothered), often late, when my parents were trying to get to bed, and my mother would ask them how long they would stay, which pissed her off. One time, my dad called me while they were over, and asked how long they were staying, and they decided 10 pm, but then my brother's friend came over before they were going to leave, and she was discussing how my parents "kicked them out" if they stayed too late. The friend tried to defend my parents, but the fiancee accused them of "letting her stay overnight" (which never happened), just because she was "white". This girl was taken aback by this. After they left, me, my other brother, and his friend had a short conversation. The fiancee would come to tease me for defending this girl, saying that I must "love" her in a sarcastically sappy tone. She would later accuse her of being "flaky" behind her back. After discussing family matters with my counselor, she said the fiancee had borderline personality disorder, and I wondered if her symptoms were contagious and could rub off onto people like me. I remember one night my brother (not the engaged one) and my other brother's fiancee's cousin were discussing people dating younger women, and he mentioned that "it's fine as long as their 'legal', but if the girl is 21, any age difference over 4 years is 'creepy'". This added to my stress. (In hindsight, I don't understand why people can't see this whole "age of consent" thing as simply a "legal" issue rather than some "moral" issue, especially if the law is different everywhere.) Another time, when my brother was housesitting for my neighbor's cats, they came over there and I followed them. I tried to bring up the girl again as subtly as possible (once again), but she didn't have a clue. We drank their wine and drinks, and I think she got drunk. She asked if I would go to a "strip club" with them, but then my brother mentioned I couldn't wear what I usually wear, so I said, "no, thanks." She then asked me if I wanted to "die a virgin" (which, in retrospect, makes no sense, considering what I've heard regarding modern "no touch" policies which would render "loss of virginity" next to impossible), in which I meekly replied, "no". By then, I felt I was under more pressure than ever before. Another night they were over, they expressed that they thought I should consider joining a "group home", which I later discussed with my parents, saying I might be "miserable" there, being as bright and functional as I was. I also remember hearing her making a remark regarding how I went alone with my parents many times ("Fine, go with Mommy and Daddy like you usually do"). By now, my brother had become about as skinny as her, and she made him die his hair brown. One time they were over, my brother received a call from a girl he knew back in the day from day camp who liked him and was friends with him, and the fiancee was highly suspicious and paranoid over this, and became irate about it.

One time they visited, I was in the living room watching TV with my dad, when they called me into the kitchen to throw away the box from the pie I had just finished. After I did, she continued to lecture me about it even after I had begun walking into the other room, and I got fed up and finally told her, "Alright! Shut up!". After I went back in to watch TV, he came in to tell me to "be more mindful" about throwing things away after finishing them, and my dad chimed in saying "that's enough; he took care of it, so let it go. No need to carry on about it." They then suddenly left. I remember him stopping over by himself the next day, he told me I should call her to apologize for "hurting her feelings" the other day. After he left, I told my parents about this, and they told me not to call, at the most "just text her an apology" if anything. So after they went to church that night, I texted her that "my brother told me to say I was sorry". She texted back, "forgiven", followed by "plus i dont blame u i blame ur parents because they have u used to it". My parents and my counselor found this "horrendous" when I told them about it, and her and my brother didn't come around again for awhile all because of something about my mother's soup. Around this time, my dogs had their second litter (3 puppies), and we had sold all but one of the last litter. When the new puppies grew older, we sold one to my brother's friend, while my brother's fiancee had a problem with the name we picked out for one of them, so she "decided" her name was one she picked out, even though it was still our dog.

I eventually began to research female Asperger's, and read how they express it differently than males. I also read that they are likely to be more high-functioning due to how girls are expected to be more social than boys by society. I had read about how many "Aspies" hate being treated and steretyped, and how they dislike organizations like Autism Speaks. I had read scathing, venom-filled columns from one of them about such organizations as well as condescending treatment from 'neurotypicals' (non-Aspies).

Meanwhile, I began to worry that this girl had died somehow, or was "taken" because I "waited too long". (After all, I didn't want to be "alone for the rest of my life", or "die a virgin", and I couldn't be attracted to anyone under 21 because that would be 'creepy' and 'wrong', plus I lost my 'dream', yet was told to 'work' in order to 'get anywhere in life' or else I was 'lazy'.) I had waited for my "prayers" to be answered for so long, yet seemingly received no answers. Not even after asking for confidence in asking directly, and didn't want to bring it up to my parents, because I was too nervous. If there was a God, why wouldn't he want me to be happy, especially if it's with a 'good, nice, sweet Christian' who I could 'relate' to because of our shared disability? Was I being impatient, or was I procrastinating? What kind of a God would give me a dream, then take it away due to fears that conventional society standards and 'moral outrage' would destroy my reputation, publicly humiliate me, or worse?

I had become an emotional wreck since the previous fall, keeping things bottled inside to avoid embarrassment, and going through a couple of meltdowns and breakdowns during that span, even destroying my favorite drinking cup. I hated becoming so subjective, especially for someone who prefers objective rational critical analysis as myself. It bothered me to the point that I had to go to Google for answers. After nothing my religion had to offer helped solve my troubles, I decided to look up "evolution within a species", because that idea, which was repeated ad nauseam by not only my father but many other "creationists",  had begun to bother me on a logical level. I discovered the website page of a book called "Searching for Truth with a Broken Flashlight", in which it attempted to argue that the Bible does, in fact, fit nicely with the theory of evolution. I found it absorbing at the time, for it reconciled my fascination with evolution and biology with my following of my family's faith. But after reading several websites that tried to reconcile both of these ideas, one using a computer programming analogy, I discovered that evolution and the big bang would eliminate the concept of "original sin", and therefore would be "immoral". This was the first time I realized that my father, as with most creationists, tried to make the idea of a 4,000 year old Earth and the whole Genesis account seem perfectly rational and scientifically supported, despite obvious holes. He was able to make an odd disconnect between these irrational unfounded religious ideas and everything else that actually made sense! (I must note, to be fair, that in my father's eyes, the Genesis account is less important to Christians than the whole Jesus story.) I soon discovered the YouTube video series of DonExodus2, and learned how evolution was the best explanation for the fossil record, as well as being the unifying theory of biology, and rediscovered the fact that life is still evolving, and will continue to evolve, with modern examples. I learned that reproduction and natural selection are impossible without evolution, and that "species" are always changing, rendering the "evolution within a species" argument obsolete.

Around that time, after watching a TV special on the History channel on the Shroud of Turin with my parents one night, I decided to research this subject myself. I tried to rationalize in my mind the idea that the "crucifixion" and "resurrection" were actual historic events with scientific evidence supporting them, including a couple websites in support of this idea. However, after viewing a website that debunked this idea, I began to suspect that the entire bible was a lie. I desperately tried to find any belief that used evolution, including possible Wiccan and Pagan beliefs, even going as far as believing that it all has to do with different dimensions, but they all fell apart in one way or another when examined closer. Also around this time, I watched a video linked to one of DonExodus2's videos, entitled 'The American Denial of Global Warming'. Previously, I had come to believe that global warming was either a hoax or a natural occurrence, much thanks to talk radio and Penn & Teller, but this video convinced me that politics and corporations had been working behind the scenes to convince the public this wasn't a concern, nor was tobacco a cause of lung cancer. After viewing articles here and here, as well as discovering some videos and books destroying the bible's credibility and consistency (including AronRa's YouTube videos), I became a left-wing atheist for the first time in my life, except for the issue of gun control. I even began to visit organizational atheist sites and liberal political sites. I remember feeling angry that I had been deceived my entire life, and was interested in information on socialism and anarchism. But I also read about individualism, which encouraged freedom of the individual, something that struck a chord with me just as libertarianism had. I suppose my Aspergers had something to do with this, plus the fact that it discussed how "deviancy" of any variety is often inseparable from creativity, artistic expression and passion. It also led me to learn about the political diamond, and I soon learned about Ayn Rand and her philosophy, which made me think sarcastically, "well, according to this dead Russian dyke, I'm not being selfish enough!" It also made me consider the fact that the Republican party platform often tries to tie together two incompatible ideas, those of Rand and Jesus. I also read about Friedrich Nietzsche and his "God is dead" philosophy, leading to me considering both existentialism and nihilism, although Nietzsche seemed to sway both for and against such beliefs.

Around this time, while I still had left-wing anarchism bouncing around in my head, I went with my parents down to Florida to visit friends they knew from church in New Hampshire. We left early in the morning, and when we got on board the plane, I sat on the right hand side by the window next to my dad, while a man sat on the outer seat. My mom sat a row or two ahead of us on the opposite side. My dad was chatting it up with this man he just met, and was going on and on, while I was trying hard to get some shuteye. My mom had gone to the bathroom in the back and was gone for awhile. When she finally returned, she asked if i wanted to sit all the way in the back by myself alone, so I could sleep in silence. I agreed, and my dad and the man he spoke with endlessly got up for me. When I got to the back, as I took a seat, I noticed a short, medium-length-haired blonde girl in the middle seat, and she moved to the window when I sat down, looking out while squatting. She was wearing sandals, and let them slip off often, nearly lounging with her knees to the right. I tried to catch a glimpse of her face, but it was hard, and more often I wound up looking at her feet instead, which had black painted toenails. She was coughing infrequently, leading me to believe she had a cold. She shifted position often, sometimes just hugging her knees while resting her head between them and rocking gently. She was silent the whole trip, and I never spoke to her. I eventually decided to put my jacket over my head and take a nap. After we landed, everyone stood up, prepared to de-board. I began walking through the aisle towards the front, glancing back to see if I could get a good look at her face, and I noticed her smirking subtly before she looked at me as I turned my focus ahead. I realized nobody was leaving yet, so i decided to go back, and I used the restroom before sitting back down. When we finally were cleared to de-board, I got up and let her get out in front, but she meekly said, "go", so I went on ahead, eventually catching up to my parents. After we left into the terminal, I noticed her walking ahead of us to the left, and I lost sight of her. I took a nap when we got to our hotel, while my parents went out, and I thought about her, wondering if she had Asperger's, though I never told them about her at all.

When we met up with the friends and their two young girls, they discussed with my parents that the younger one might have Asperger's based on her behavior. She acted young for her age, and had a speech impediment. She enjoyed talking to me, as if she wanted to be my best friend. When I went swimming in their small backyard above-ground pool with her, and she was talking to me the whole time, asking me questions and wanting me to play. I had been in a dreary mood, but I decided to let her talk and play anyways. When they visited our hotel, she watched Spongebob with me in my room on the other bed. She also played a card game she brought with me on the nightstand between the beds. One day, my parents decided to got to the Holy Land Experience theme park, and the whole time I was uneasy there, being a recent closet non-believer. It had no rides, though, and it smelt like wet paint everywhere. I picked out the only non-religious item in the whole gift shop, a book called "Wonders of the Red Sea", which was about the Red Sea's reef system and it's aquatic life, which I enjoyed reading, because it made me relax.

After we got back home, I went to work one Friday as usual. After my shift was over and I clocked out, I took a cart and went through the store, picking out things I like to eat/drink. After going through the store, I placed the cart near the back door and went upstairs to the break room to get my work shirt and apron off, as well as my backpack, and went back downstairs looking for my dad, who would usually come and shop with me before taking me home. After I found him, we went through the store as he bought the things we needed, when I saw what may've been the redhead from the public transportation bus, walking along shopping in the distance. I squinted as I tried to figure out if it was, and as I turned around, she said "why, hello", and my dad said "hi" back, making me wonder if it was someone he knew instead, and I let out a quiet "hi". I followed my dad, and when she came around, I quickly turned to my dad to ask him something about food, being socially anxious. After I got home, I decided to look for a matching site for autistics/Aspies. I finally quit my profile on the other site (I had only gotten 2 or 3 "friends" the whole time, who never sent me a message). The first site I found I only made friends with one user, who was the only one who "looked" autistic (actually, she bore a vague resemblance to Lynndie England with acne and glasses). She was an Alaskan who was a member of the US military, and had recently returned home from duty. I also joined another AS dating site, which was more functional to use but not as well-designed. I looked through different users, and found several to add to "friends", some to "favorites" and a few to "hot list". These all had profile pics. I winked and/or messaged a few, and made a few acquaintances.

(to be continued in upcoming post)

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