23 June 2008

Birthday Tribute - Al

This is the first of my Birthday Tributes to my friends. It's my friend Al's birthday, so I'll tell you about him.

Al is married to my previously-mentioned friend Jean. Well, not just married... She was my roommate, but I didn't need her, so I sold her to him. Then I remembered that she does the cooking and vacuuming. But I digress.

Al is the most honorable man I know. And it's all so stereotypical. He's an ex-marine, but way too smart to be an ex-marine. He was previously stationed at Camp Goliath, and was tasked with guarding the president. This was during Bush the First. Now, he works as an IT guru at a local college, and loves the job more than the pay.

He's a Janophile. And no, that has nothing to do with any Brady Bunch characters... It means that he likes Japanese stuff. He has a sizable collection of Japanese swords, watches anime in the original Japanese (he can't stand English dubs) and lets his wife, Jean, serve him tea. I've tried to talk him into making her wear a kimono, but he just mutters something about getting us both killed and wanders off.

Al's one fear is of spiders. This fact, combined with the aforementioned sword collection, is why I've kept my pet tarantulas away from him in the past. But that doesn't stop Jean from planting fake spiders around their house. She hopes to some day hear him scream like a little girl. It hasn't happened yet, but every now and then, I see him turn to face an imaginary judge and say, "And that's why I killed her, Your Honor."

He's a Perfect Man. He's loving, tender, generous, intelligent and good-looking. He treats his step-daughter as if she were his own. He shows love to every child that enters his home. (The good kind of love, not that sick kind they have in Florida.) He allows great latitude to his wife in bringing yet more animals into the house, violating the rules of their deed-restricted neighborhood. He does everything he's asked, helps his friends when they need it, and puts on whatever demeanor will make others the happiest. All this, and yet he's straight, unlike most other men who have these characteristics. And like all straight men who have these qualities... He's married.

And she doesn't properly appreciate him. But I digress.

In short, he's the one person I would most want at my side in a fight, and if he weren't married I would long ago have fallen in love with him. And he's the one person I trust most in the world, apart from my father. He's practically a super hero. Just without the tights. Although he does wear tights when he goes to the Renaissance Festival. And when he wears them he looks.... whew! Sorry, I had to catch my breath. But I digress.

And so, Happy Birthday,

15 June 2008

Father's Day Special

I've had an interesting life, and it's still interesting, but one thing I couldn't help but notice is that when I stop and look around and count those who are with me on this journey, I see exactly one parent. My mother is still alive, but she's nowhere around. She let me know years ago that she was finished with me. Now that I'm grown and her obligations are complete, she doesn't have any more use for me except when she needs to borrow money.

But my father is still around. He's been there during the toughest times in my life. He was there when I needed someone to hug, and in every baby picture I've seen of myself, if I'm being held, it's him holding me (or his father, in one picture).

My father has passed on to me most of the wisdom that has gotten me this far. When I have good news, I want to tell him, and when I'm down he helps me find the path leading up. When my days are dark, he shows me the sunshine, and when I'm cold he reminds me to come back to Houston.

At times when my mother was railing against me for refusing to become a nice little neonazi conformist like her, my father was telling me he was proud I found my own path. When my mother told me that I was hopeless and not worth holding onto, my father showed me what I was doing wrong, or what I was doing right.

And in the end, when I was feeling the worst, when every moment I felt like crying and didn't know why, when I felt loneliness such as I never imagined, and my mother's only advice was to pick up a Bible and stop feeling sorry for myself, my father held me close until I stopped crying, and it turned out that was all I really needed in the end.

And so, to my father... I didn't create this, but it sums up my feelings nicely, I think.

13 June 2008

I don't grok people!

So my roommates, Giordi and Anna, were reading my previous blog entry and asked me about Asperger Syndrome. I thought the simplest explanation was just to read them some of the symptoms.

"Abnormalities of social interaction and communication that pervade the individual's functioning, and by restricted and repetitive interests and behavior..." They both said the same thing: "What?"

I continued... "The lack of demonstrated empathy..." They looked at me strangely. "Although children with Asperger syndrome acquire language skills without significant general delay, and the speech of those with AS typically lacks significant abnormalities, language acquisition and use is often atypical." Anna looked at Giordi and chucked evilly.

I continued... "Abnormalities include verbosity; abrupt transitions; literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuance; use of metaphor meaningful only to the speaker; auditory perception deficits; unusually pedantic, formal or idiosyncratic speech; and oddities in loudness, pitch, intonation, prosody, and rhythm."

Anna said to Giordi, "Are you thinking..."

To which he replied, "Wait for it..."

So I continued a bit longer, summarizing an adult AS patient's obsession with machinery and lack of social "normalcy". Finally, Giordi and Anna burst into laughter, much to my chagrin.


Anna: "We don't know anyone like that, do we?"

Giordi: "Nope, no one at all!"

This is sarcasm... I've seen this before... I thought hard... "You mean, like, Jean?"

07 June 2008

The Blind Leading the Stupid

Yes, it's true... The Apocalypse is upon us. It seems that a kindergarten teacher allowed her class to "vote out" a student.

The student is in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, which basically means that his behavior is slightly atypical and that he's probably pretty bright for his age but doesn't relate well to others. What this comes down to is, he's a protonerd. Given a few more years and some education and practice, he would eventually become a true nerd, or maybe a geek.

He might even become an engineer.

But no, instead, his teacher, probably the non-parent to whom he looks up the most, decided that a popularity contest would be good for him. She allowed the class to vote on whether or not to kick him out, and also asked all the other children to tell him what they thought of him.

The local law enforcement has decided that there was no emotional abuse here, but as someone who had similar problems as a child, I can tell you that this is definitely abuse, and the teacher should be punished in ways not currently considered constitutional.

Perhaps this blog entry lacks the levity with which I've become associated, but this whole story made me so angry I could scream. I truly feel for the child.

Oh, and the title of this entry... Neither the "blind" nor the "stupid" is the AS child. Look at it how you want... the administrators and the teacher... the police and CPS... the teacher and the rest of the class... Anyway you pair up the parties in this story, the title is apt, I think. The blind leading the stupid, indeed.