Friday, 18 November 2011

The Work Boyfriend

I have a work boyfriend, I'll call him WB.  And for the most part he's cute, listens to my problems and is an all around good friend.  We have lunches and coffee together and we like to dump on each other when something really wonky starts going on at work.  We're really comfortable with each other.  But sometimes I just don't get his humor.  Like today.

Today he approached me to show me a picture on his iPhone.  It was a picture of him in front of the American flag.  The conversation went something like this:

Him:  I want to get it on with you in front of this flag *laughs*
Me:  You are disgusting and need to leave.
Him: *walks away laughing*
Me: (loudly)You are NOT funny
Him: (Mumbles under his breath) The important thing is I think I'm funny *walks away*

I don't get it.  I honestly don't understand why that comment was funny.  I'm not offended.  I mean guys are guys right?  And sometimes they think sexual comments are HILARIOUS.  Whatever.  The odd thing about this encounter is that this isn't the first time I've heard this comment. 

Yes, I'm Asian.  And yes, a college boyfriend asked me to do that very same thing (except he was serious about it - I think).  He actually went so far as to buy me an American flag for my dorm room.  At the time, I didn't think much of it.  I gave the flag to my dad and told said boyfriend that I misplaced the flag.  I used my typical Aspie approach - avoid and make up lies!

And that leads me to the following questions...
What is propagating this strange thought in men - me getting it on in front of an American flag?   
Why is this funny?
And do I just not get it because I have Asperger's?

WB just stopped by my desk to apologize.  I asked him why he thought it was funny.  And naturally, he didn't know.  Guess my questions will remain unanswered.  At least for now...

Monday, 7 November 2011

My Fear of the Five O'Clock Shadow

I have a good friend who is a prostate cancer survivor.  That's relevant because naturally he is going all out for Movember and growing a moustache this month.  I am fully supportive of prostate cancer awareness and am very proud he is a prostate cancer survivor.

That's the thing.  I consider him a good friend and supportive of my Asperger's Syndrome.  I guess that's why what he did to me today shocked me.

He came over to me and gave me a hug and thought it would be funny to rub his newly grown moustache whiskers on my cheek.  I freaked out.  I stepped back and told him to keep his face away from me.  His whiskers HURT!  It felt like needles on my face. 

My response hurt his feelings.  He felt that I wasn't being supportive and that I was inflexible.  He told me to "get over it."


"Get Over It"

From someone that I thought understood me.

That hurt.  (My Feelings)

It reminded me of when I was a little girl and my dad would come home from work and rub his five o'clock shadow on my face.  He loved my reaction.  "IT HURTS!"  I would tell both my mom and dad that it hurt, but they would just chuckle and think I was hilarious.  Mind you, this was before anyone knew a thing about Asperger's Syndrome and all the sensory sensitivities that come with the diagnosis.

I am constantly dealing with sensory issues.  At the very moment he told me to "get over it"...
  1. My clothes hurt.  The way the fabric rubs against my skin is painful.
  2. The fan in the room sounded like a freaking plane about to take off
  3. The flickering florescent lights.  Oh the flickering!!
Its pretty much incomprehensible to most NTs.  My brain doesn't process things "normally".  It amplifies certain sounds and a simple touch can feel like someone stabbing me with a needle.

I know its easy to forget that I'm dealing with these things on a daily basis.  I'm really good at faking normal.  I don't blame my friend for responding the way he did.  I really did hurt his feelings.

What I want everyone to know is that while us Aspies may not complain about all the things distracting us all the time, it doesn't mean we're not affected by them.  Sensory sensitivities suck.  All The Time.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

You Can't Possibly Have Aspergers

I was in a meeting today and someone told me about their cousin that has Aspergers.  The person was pregnant and concerned because Aspergers runs in her husbands family.  So I outed myself.  "You know, I have Aspergers."  And the response I got was typical.  "No you don't.  You can't possibly have Aspergers.  You know how to talk to people."  And that is the story of my life.

I have Asperger Syndrome.  I've been officially diagnosed.  And it manifests itself in many ways.  I'm sensitive to touch.  I struggle to find friends.  Social interactions are stressful.  I take everything literally.  I love to be alone.  I have meltdowns.

But if I tell anyone I have Aspergers, they don't believe it.  I've had psychologists tell me they think I've been misdiagnosed.  I'm going to let you all in on a little secret.  I'm really good at faking it.  I've mastered how to look like an NT (Neuro Typical) in virtually any situation.  And while that has helped me become, as my therapist put it, "wildly successful", it also has its drawbacks.

In the real world, I'm a successful business woman.  I manage a team of people and we get things done.  What most don't know is that every night I come home from work and need hours to decompress.  I sleep a lot on the weekends from pure exhaustion.  Its really tough pretending to be normal 40 to 60 hours every week.

And this week is tougher than most.  Today, I was told I would no longer get administrative support.  My assistant is my lifeline.  She is a support in place that helps me be successful.  She understands my Aspergers.  She books my flights during the least busy times.  She manages my calendar.  She makes sure I have transition / alone time at the appropriate times, so I can cope with the real world.  She is the reason I can function at this level.

Unfortunately, I am so good at faking being normal that my leader thinks I'm being a princess.  He thinks I shouldn't need such a high level of support.  And this hurts.  I would give anything to be able to function independently.  I hate myself for having to rely on my assistant to get me through my days.

After he gave me the news, I cried my eyes out.  I want to be able to do things myself and I want others to understand there are certain situations when I need support.  People in the disability world understand.  Unfortunately, I live in the real world where most people don't understand and I find it difficult to explain to them my inadequacies.

I'm a successful business woman and I can't manage my calendar.  There I said it.  I can't do it.  I've tried so many times and it always ends in tears.  There are meeting invites streaming in and calendaring conflicts that arise.  And time never stops.  People are constantly wanting to schedule things.  Its the never-ending project from hell.  Its overwhelming.  In the past, I've been so overwhelmed with the calendaring that I can't do my normal work and my performance suffers.  

I don't want to go back to that place.  I just don't.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Nainital in Pictures

 My first train ride in India.  What an experience!  The 7 hour train ride ended up being 12 hours.  Arriving in Kothgodam. 

 Man grilling me some corn.  He served mine with lime and salt.  Yum!

 TC's favorite.  Waterballs!  Usually served differently in each locale.  These are filled with onions and potatoes.  The cup in the upper left is holding the spicy water. 

 Breakfast.  I thought I only had one egg, but there was a surprise egg once I lifted up the egg holder.  Two boiled eggs for breakfast!

 The Lake.  I believe its Naini Lake.  As Tal means Lake.  Hence, Nainital.  As per usual, my Hindi is horrendous and any attempt to pronounce leads to much confusion.

 Bottles hung from trees to shoot with airguns for 20 Rps.  Honestly, when I saw these bottles all I could think was - How on earth did they get those tied out on the side of the mountain?!?

 Telescopes.  These were at Himalaya View Point where you could pay to view the majestic Himalayas.  As TC put it, "This is a fraud"

 An Indian tourist dressed up in traditional Nainital dress.  People actually pay to dress up in this clothing and take their picture.  And they have to give it back.  These stands are everywhere!

 An Indian tourist posing as he "climbs the Himalayas".  I'm pretty sure this is probably his facebook profile pic now.

 Wow.  A shocker to me.  Look at all that luggage!  I've traveled 30 days in India with one bag.  This seems excessive.

 Traffic jam!  Local man getting out of his car to direct traffic.  That's one thing I love about India.  People just take control of the situation and get things done.  No traffic police required!

 So many choices for snacks and the only one I could have was water.  Diet soda is just not a concept here!

 Someone's laundry just siting on the side of the road.  Aren't they afraid someone will steal it?

 One of my favorite tourist spots of the trip.  CAVES!

 I was so excited to explore these caves.  I was on my hands and knees at times and racing through the caves.  Good times!

 Post sightseeing snack.  Onions in vinegar.  They look disgusting to me, but TC ate them like they were candy.

 Mosque in Nainital.  I love the symmetry!

 Elevator in the hotel.  My first thought was - What a beautiful elevator!.  My second thought - There is no way an American could fit through those skinny doors.

 Lodging in Nainital.  Arif Castles.

 Driver stopped to get directions to our lodging in Dunagri.  I was nervous.  What do you mean our driver doesn't know where to go?!?

 Apparantly, they needed to gather the whole town to figure out directions.  The more people that congregated the more nervous I was that we wouldn't reach our destination.  Really?  You need 5 people to help find the lodging?!? Gah!

 Yay!  We reached our destination in Dunagri.  This was a school for local children to learn English.  As part of the stay, I visited with some of the local children.

 Local color before trekking 1 km up the mountain to the Dunagri Temple

 So many steps to reach the Dunagri temple.  It was fun and tiring.

 Bells at the Dunagri temple

 Amla!!  I was eating at a restaurant outdoors and this boy climbed a tree and plucked this amla for me.  It was romantic and funny.  So 17th century!

 These women work so hard.  I never see men doing this work.  Hmmmm.

 American "Corns"

 Time for a boat ride on one of the seven lakes.  These boats seemed much more appealing than the self-paddle boats.  I like to relax, not work!

 My Slippers

 TCs post-sightseeing dinner.  

 TC and Lakshmal (the driver) discussing the zoo.  Looks like TC needs more information...

 TC and Lakshmal pointing to the zoo.  Its over there.  You need to walk. 

 After a little hike, we made it to the zoo!  Somehow this is the only picture of an animal I took in the zoo.  Strange.  I know.

 This sign means shortcut.  Or so TC says.  I'm a big fan of shortcuts on the way down, but not on the way up.

 High tech Cyber Cafe.  Here TC is checking to see if we have confirmation for our tickets back to Delhi (No, they weren't confirmed - always an adventure)

 Stopping to rest.  My toes are definitely cuter than TCs!

 Lodging outside of Nainital

 Huge hole in the road on our way to our lodging.  Seriously?  Nobody thinks this is strange?  Its a HUGE hole!

 Dussehra celebration in Nainital.  Later in the evening this guy with 10 heads was burned in a burst of flames.

 I was shocked to find out we needed to stop for an hour to let these construction workers finish paving the road to Nainital.  No room to pass.  We had to just wait it out.  I found it a bit disturbing that they have fun with each other by throwing hot asphalt at each others feet.  Yikes!

 Shirts at the Tailor where I got my pants hemmed for 50 cents in 10 minutes.  10 minutes I tell you!

 Temple where I was chased my monkeys.  MONKEYS!  It was all good until I reached the bridge and then the monkeys swung down like some horrific scene out of Wizard of Oz.  They started chasing me.  I ran.  No wonder the locals were carrying slingshots.

Train back to Delhi.  Until next time!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

My Thinking in Pictures (and Videos)

Wow.  What a week.  A lot of drama.  And hence, a lot of thinking and reflecting.  I spent quite a good portion of my week explaining to the drama inducers how my brain works.  And since I was thinking about it and talking about it, I thought... why not write about it?

I think in pictures and videos.  These pictures and videos are snapshots of things I've seen with my own eyes.  The more things I experience and see, the more pictures and videos collect in my brain.  All these pictures and videos make up my thoughts.  And boy, do I do a lot of thinking. 

Unfortunately, the pictures and videos don't just collect in my brain and stay there.  They connect and link to each other. Kinda like hyperlinks on the Internet. If I stop to think about it, for you database people, it's a many to many relationship. 

All day I'm thinking. And by thinking, I mean the pictures and videos are constantly connecting to each other in new and interesting ways.  I see a car. It links to another car. Which links to a movie and a TV series. The TV series links to a video of the neighbor boy doing a funny dance. And that's just a couple seconds of thought while I sit here on the bus, gazing out the window, writing this blog post.  My mind is constantly in motion.

Mostly my pictures and videos are my observations of people's behavior. The most vivid pictures/videos are those that experiences I associate with a feeling. The stronger and more intense the feeling, the more vivid and detailed the video.

So, all day long, I'm observing others behavior, storing it and then making connections to all the other behaviors I've stored. I've been caught many times consumed by this process.  I usually come out of it when someone says, "What are you staring at?" or "Penny for your thoughts" or "You seem deep in thought".  When I was younger it was more along the lines of "Pay attention!"

All the connecting of the pictures leads to different outcomes. Sometimes the outcomes are good and sometimes they are frustrating. I have many different data points that I process simultaneously. This skill helps me understand and predict how a person will behave. The frustrating part is waiting for the person to exhibit the behavior. Sometimes I know in advance what a person is going to do. I've learned the hard way that I need to wait for them to exhibit the behavior.  They have to work through their emotions on their own.  That's very frustrating for me when I already know the outcome.

That's how it works folks. It's difficult to process all that data in real time, so I'm not very good thinking on my feet.  I need to time to formulate my thoughts.  Especially, when the topic is new to me.  Essentially, when I am in a conversation with someone, I'm trying to translate the pictures into words in real time.  And when someone needs an immediate response, that's where I tend to fail. 

In general, people want an immediate response to their question.  Hesitations or pauses in normal conversation indicate that I'm thinking (see above).  To the person I'm conversing with, it means something entirely different.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Kashmir in Pictures, Part II

Just one of the many beautiful views in Kashmir.  
This one was taken during my horseback ride to Kashmir Valley.  My guide was adamant that I was riding a pony not a horse.  But "pony ride" just doesn't seem to do the activity justice.

Kashmiri Children
I was quite impressed with this young girl taking care of her younger sibling.  She saw me on my "pony" with the camera and was sure to put the scarf on her head just right. 

Street Vendor
What struck me was the spices are mixed in the empty water bottles with a hole poked in the top for easy shaking.  Also, the organization of the food, so pretty!

Bridge in Pahalgam
This bridge is the entrance to someones property.  How do I know?  I made TC check it out.  A bridge like this would never pass safety inspection in the US.  And that's why I love it!  Cross at your own risk!

Himalaya House in Pahalgam
My room was on the top right.  No phones.  Whenever I needed something, I would have to go out on the balcony and shout down my request.  

Shikaras on the Water
 It doesn't matter what I do, every time I see one of these boats a Shakira song starts playing in my head.  Go away Shakira.  Go away!!

Lotus Flower from Dal Lake
A gift from my Shikara driver.  I was super nervous because the Shikara stopped and I didn't want to look back to see what the guy was doing.  I had no idea what was going on!  When he handed me this lotus flower, I was SO relieved!
Mogul Garden in Srinagar
My tour guide took me to many of these gardens.  I particularly like the symmetry of this one.

Indian Cucumber
I was so hungry after the walk through the mogul gardens.  A freshly made cucumber was a welcome sight.

Proud Kashmiri Mother and Baby
I stopped for a mango shake and spotted this very proud mother and her baby. 

Mogul Gardens
To be honest, I'm not very fond of visiting the mogul gardens, but I do love capturing all the symmetry.  This is more of the symmetry I absolutely adore.

Evening Shikara Ride
I spent an evening watching the sun go down in Srinagar.  This was one of the most peaceful moments I can remember.

View at the top of Gulmarg
I rode the Gondola up to the last point and this was the view.  Quite rocky and cool.  Many Indians were dressed in full-on parkas.  Being a girl from the mid-west, it didn't seem cold to me at all!
Snack Shop at Gulmarg
The colors and the candy.  I just had to take this picture.  Its all so neat and orderly!

Sheep Grazing at Gulmarg
There were a few flocks of sheep grazing across the mountain in Gulmarg.  Seeing a shepherd tending to his flock right there on the mountain in front of me sent me deep in thought.

Resting at Gulmarg
TC and I taking a much needed break.  We rented these boots and I think my camo boots are much cuter than his boring black ones.